21 January 2013

Garments as Sites: Playful Dress Up as Vehicle for Think Tank

Greetings my loves,

Firstly, let me begin by saying that the Hemispheric Institute of Politics and Performance's Encuentro, which just wrapped up Saturday night, was one of the most mind-blowing events and experiences I have had in my political-social-and artivist (activist-artist) life in a very long time.

Finally, with a few extra days in São Paulo, I now have time to write, to blog, and to review some of the experiences in which the work of ReciclaGEM explored the role of Cities and Corporeality, the theme of this year's conference.

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of spending some time with two fellow attendees and artivists, actress and M.A. Performance Studies Candidate, Lindsay Benacka  and burlesque performer and PhD Candidate Kelly McKay.

For the first time, I managed to bring my Ashae skirt, the first fashion piece I have ever created, inspired and provoked by my investigation into my Brazilian heritage as well as my Eshu tails and Re*Collar Body GEMs to create, instead of a photo shoot, an aesthetic space to discuss garments and the thought spaces they create. 

Lindsay and Kelly graciously adorned this garments within the outer walls of SESC Vila Mariana, one of the chain revolutionary artistic spaces in São Paulo that supports independent and critically engaged performance. We dialogued and played after one of the many panel discussions in which we engaged corporeality and activism.

There was no aesthetic instruction. Just mere conversation where the adornment of textures, color combinations, and silhouettes that sharply contrast quotidian dress marked a change of space.

With this change of space, marked by the change of corporeal space, the following themes emerged:

  • Life as an activist would just feel good if our fashions felt more like blankets. 
  • What cultural regulations are preventing us from wearing blankets all day? Social construction.
  • What makes us feel less comfortable in our skin? Comments that sexualize parts of our bodies that we'd just rather feel are normal...but...they are.
  • Being photographed in a corporeality that is not our quotidian (i.e. dressing out of the norm) would feel better if we are given instruction. Without that, it feels pointless. (But then again, when you buy a garment in a store, what is the point at your point of purchase?)
  • Nonetheless, we want more spaces to discuss the activist potentialities of fashion because fashion is always with us and has such a tremendous impact on our emotions, our centeredness and our corporealities.
Lindsay and Kelly, thank you for entering this corporeal-cloth space with me and engaging my questions and my camera lens. Feel free to add what conversation points I've missed and let's keep the conversation going...Hemi Encuentro Montreal 2014!

Peace, love and clothing as a corporeal think tank,


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