Focus on a Cause
A DIFFA photography auction raises money and public awareness
Deanna Kizis -- Interior Design, 9/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Art can become more beautiful when it fights to improve the human condition. which is why visionaries such as Nan Goldin, Annie Leibovitz, Cindy Sherman, and William Wegman have donated their photography to "Maximum Exposure," an exhibit and benefit auction organized by the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS and Interior Design. On September 23, these works of rare and shocking beauty are being auctioned at the meatpacking district's Diane von Furstenberg the Shop, where they'll remain on show from September 24 to 26.
The exhibit gives participating photographers a chance to ponder the age-old debate on where art, design, fashion, and commerce meet. "Fashion as art has been around for a while," says society chronicler Patrick McMullan, who chose a photograph from In Tents, his new book on the New York fashion shows. "Some clothing really is sculpture—Pucci creates art with all those wonderful colors." Meanwhile, interiors photographer Eric Laignel contributed a photo of an old coffeemaker. "The person who designed it was obviously practical but also poetic. It's discreet, unpretentious, and functional," he explains.
Of course, the cause was uppermost in everyone's mind. (Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, DIFFA is one of the largest fund-raisers for HIV services and education.) "Our government is pathetic at supporting people with AIDS," says architecture photographer Benny Chan, whose diptych shows the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Adds DIFFA board member Todd Oldham, who contributed a pair of Graceland photos, "I think I can say that all of us would be happy to be put out of business. But until we find a cure, we have to help."
And why not acquire a gorgeous piece of imagery while supporting a good cause? According to McMullan, a better appreciation of photography is long overdue: "I've been hanging fashion photos on my walls for 20 years—wondering when people were going to catch on."