21 February 2014

Thoughts behind Fall 2014 "Bricolage": Wangechi Mutu + The End of eating Everything

If you happened to catch the wonderful Black Star News article on my upcoming show, then you would have already been introduced to the theme of the collection.

If not, then let me share it with you.

Contemporary artist Wangechi Mutu has created hybrid bodies through her mixed media art that has spoken to me for years. They speak to my body, a physical and social body that I see represented in her work, they speak to my intellectual body, a body that mixes academic theory with spirituality, poetic mysticism with craftsmanship, and the moral body that seeks to create a more unified, peaceful world.

(Wangechi Mutu, "The Bride who Married a Camel's Head, 2009)

(Wangechi Mutu, "Misguided Little Unforgivable Hierarchies, 2005)

(Wangechi Mutu, "Riding Death in My Sleep," 2002)

(Wangechi Mutu, "Root of All Eves, 2010)

(Wangechi Mutu, "A Shady Promise," 2006)

In her most recent exhibition, A Fantastic Journey, originally commissioned by the Nasser Museum at Duke University, and now at the Brooklyn Museum, Mutu features her first animation project. The animation, entitled "The End of eating Everything" displays an amorphous, planetary, and violent body, embodied by performance artist, Santigold, as it navigates grey matter terrain and eats the last of what is left in the universe until it implodes.

(A brief clip of the 8 minute animation)

This animation did many things for many people and artists. But for me, it provoked me to explore what my solution is to the state of dire over-consumption in which we find our world. (According to Patagonia-founder, Yvon Chouinard, the United States alone uses the energy of seven planets! Now what do I do to not feel paralyzed and horrible but actively do SOMETHING about it?)

Bricolage is my solution. While the philosophy of ReciclaGEM or recycling materially and socially has been my primary focus since I began this project in 2010, "Bricolage" is a new approach which provides more room and space for creative and authentic solutions.

In my dire attempt to fit into the "activist" community, I have found myself growing into a consciously minded but moderately self-loathing artist. Creating to the point of dire exhaustion, becoming overwhelmed with guilt every time I turned on my sewing machine and let alone used a down jacket in the dead of winter.

However, I realized that in the same way that I do not judge or shame others for the complexity of their ethics, neither should I do the same to myself.

Bricolage is an attempt to fuse together the complexity of YOUR narrative in a way that fits your unique story, your unique purpose, and in essence creating a collage of your contributions to this planet in a way that mixes informed-reality with aspiration, resulting in inspiration.

Bricolage in French literally means "DIY," but has come to represent a whole school of thought on cultural syncretism, post colonial identity and an aesthetic of multi-chromatic, multi-textured and multi-historicized object art.

My collection will include original fashion design looks of amorphous silhouettes and textile palettes artfully woven together with textile scraps inspired by the colors and visual patterns of the animations. The textile scraps, quilted together into kinetic tapestries, will be molded into dynamic and assymetrical silhouettes, reflecting much of the asymmetry and dynamic body of the protagonist. The collection will also feature fabric made from renewable fibers such as recycled polyester, hemp embroidered and hand dyed with natural dyes and textures inspired by the animation and Mutu’s earlier work.

One day I hope "ReciclaGEM" is a term that comes to encompass the breadth of meaning which Bricolage does. But in the meantime, I shall begin this journey of hybrid artivism, where I feel more authentic, more human, and more equipped to carry the cause of exploring ethics in fashion for the long haul in a way that is sustainable for other people, animals, the planet, AND myself.

Thank you Wangechi for creating work that inspires me to be more human(e) with myself.

The Afro-Futurist Dietary Vegan who Hand Dyes Silk, Recycled Hemp, and Found Materials with Natural Dyes, inspired by Political and Social Realities and who Believes in Fashion as more an Experiential Joy than a Commercial Practice, who loves to Travel while being Conscious of Material Usage, doesn't sign Petitions but Loves to Spread Love the best Way She Can,


I would love to be in dialogue with you about this idea of hybrid activism. Feel free to comment below, or speak with me in person next Friday February 28 7-10pm at 1 Washington Square Place, NYC (RSVP here: http://gallatin.nyu.edu/utilities/events/2014/02/gallatinfashionshow.html)

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