This piece appears as part of “Not In Paris,” an online exhibition hosted and curated by Highsnobiety. Head here to see the full series.
The “poetry of the mundane” is, in many ways, an apt metaphor for the work of GmbH. The Berlin-based label has found international success in their ability to artfully twist garments we associate with banality – coarse workwear, baggy pants – into something more elevated, more enigmatic, while still retaining their original qualities. A GmbH take on a sneaker or their signature zipper pants are still recongizable for what they are; they imbue pieces from an every day wardrobe with luxury without creating an inaccessible “luxury item.”
So it makes sense that it’s this very theme they would explore in intimate detail with “Guest on Earth,” a new short film they have created exclusively for “Not In Paris.” Following the lives of different people in their neighborhood with a documentarian’s sense of realism, it is a piece that, at first, feels like an unexpected offering from the brand.
“It didn’t seem right to work in a conventional way of doing a normal collection. Doing a lookbook, doing a show, or a video in all those kinds of ways,” co-creative director Benjamin-Alexander Huseby tells us of the project’s origins. “We really just wanted to focus on something on a micro scale – the mundane in our neighborhood, to get very close up to people and make something. Even though everything’s sort of digital now, I think that gives people a much stronger need for something human. And so we wanted to find a way of communicating these inter-human elements, and we thought that people in our neighborhood would be a good starting point.”
“And also because we really wanted to know, or to amplify the thoughts of the people that we’ve been talking to, day in and day out in our neighborhood,” adds fellow creative director Serhat Isik. “The shop next door, the guy that runs the place, or just normal people that inspire us. But it’s also about community and everyone that’s involved in there, and their real thoughts and what they’ve been going through, or how they’ve been experiencing the past few months.”
This is not to say that “Guest on Earth” is about the coronavirus pandemic, it is pointedly not. But in this era where we have all disconnected from a common sense of normalcy or a steady rhythm, the simple routines we now undergo carry the weight of a formal ritual. For Huesby and Isik, the “poetry of the ritual” became the focal point of their inspiration.
As to how they sourced the subjects depicted in the film, Isik explains that “everyone had to live within this block essentially. So that way we didn’t get carried away by having too many people. It was very organic and just based on people where we would think, ‘oh, they are curious, what are they thinking?’”
“I think people feel that we are much more connected in a strange way than ever, even though it’s through microbes,” Huesby continues, reflecting on their process of working with these individuals.
It is a bizarre paradox of the times, to be so isolated and simultaneously connected, and it is this feeling that provided the project’s emotional core. “We felt it was important to do something,” finishes Huesby. “When we had the opportunity to say something or express something about the time right now, I felt it was really important to produce something that would have this emotional release.”
Are you also “Not In Paris?” Not to worry, you too can join in on the non-gathering with our exclusive set of merch. Shop the collection here.