Fashion, like any issue of surface, can be seen as superficial but it shouldn’t be seen as trivial. Its image world interpellates our self-understanding and thereby plays a role in how we relate to each other, mass-producing individuated subjectivity on an industrial scale. Fashion’s networks of image-production, from selfies and blogs to billboards and commercials, can be understood as sites of intersection between human and non-human materiality, algorithmically circulating our outward projections of how we see who we are. This is, however, by no means a level field of spontaneous emergent subjectivity. Those in front of the camera are very rarely in possession of the means by which editorial and commercial images are produced. It is from this environment that Special Service emerges as a new model of a modeling agency.
Collectively representing themselves and each other in initiating art through commercial processes, Special Service models renegotiate together their agency in the field of fashion. This strategy of intensified self-commodification tests the political horizons of accelerating rather than resisting platforms of capitalisation to inflect rather than oppose the mechanics of desire. As such, it proposes a model for art beyond either the modernist fantasy of artistic autonomy or the contemporary delusion of emancipated spectatorship. Art here is understood as always already instrumentalised. The challenge that is recognised is not one of autonomous authorship but of negotiating networked flows of power and capital, within which Special Service exists as a model of agency.
Founded in 2013 in Berlin, the model agency Special Service is an ongoing artistic collaboration between Annika Kuhlmann (theorist and producer), Britta Thie (artist and model) and Julia Zange (writer and actress).