Bad Press



Bad Press: Dissident Ironing was first exhibited as Dysfunctionalisme at the Centre d’Art Contemporain des Castres, France in the spring of 1993 and at the Richard Anderson Gallery, New York in the fall of 1993. Bad Press, an exercise in dissident housework, is made with 25 generic white shirts, an iron, and spray starch. The project divorced the task of ironing from the aesthetics of efficiency by exploring labor-intensive patterns that resulted in unexpected alternatives for folding, buttoning, and pressing a man's shirt; this produced shirts in a state that could not be stacked or packed. Bad Press scrutinizes ironing as one of the forms of domestic labor whose principles of motion economy were designed by efficiency engineers in late 19th century factory production culture. The regimented ironing pattern was devised so that a minimum of energy would be expended in pressing a shirt into a flat, rectangular shape with the goal of fitting it economically and efficiently into a range of orthogonal storage systems: the wholesale shipping carton, the retail display case, the dresser drawer or the closet shelf, and the suitcase. When worn, the signature creases of this orthogonal logic of efficiency served as emblems of refinement and domestic perfection. By trading the image of the functional for the dysfunctional, the postindustrial body is freed from the aesthetics of efficiency altogether. A later edition, which included a video, was included in Scanning: The Aberrant Architectures of Diller & Scofidio at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2003. Bad Press: Dissident Housework Series, consisting of custom ironed shirts and two single-channel videos, has been in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art since 2007.

  • Standard folded shirt
    Standard folded shirt
  • Lapel fold with crumpled panels
    Lapel fold with crumpled panels
  • Rolled shirt in sleeve
    Rolled shirt in sleeve
  • Skewed left panel shirt
  • Sleeve in pocket
  • Shirt in sleeve
  • Cuffs through collar
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  • Dysfunctionalisme exhibition
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Project information
Location         SFMoMA, San Francisco, United States
opening21st April 1993closed23rd June 1993opening18th November 1993
closed19th December 1993
TeamElizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio
    Photography by Michael Moran