Installation consisting of inflated sewn secondhand clothing, transducer speakers (on windows), timers,19-minute stereo soundtrack, blower, electronics
installed at The InsideOut, Sacramento, CA, USA
Curated by Mehr Mesbah
When I was thinking of the future, I was wondering what clothes people could wear that are impossible, or impractical now. I thought of the impracticability of clothing choices in the past for groups that didn’t do manual labor, such as hoop skirts or millstone collars. I thought, “what about group clothing?” If AI and robots were doing most of the work, then going to the club in a squad group shirt could be a thing, right?!
I was thinking of these things when we all had to suddenly change our lives in a rapid and drastic ways. Lock downs, masks in public, social distancing. Fast fashion stepped in and now you can get face masks in any pattern, any brand, everyone makes hand sanitizer, too. None of these have any sustainability built in, but this is an emergency, but since we haven’t built sustainability into much in the past, why would we now?
I miss water fountains, dance clubs and dive bars, trains and travel…I really miss travel, I miss seeing my friends and getting hugs, big group hugs, too! I miss all these things and I know this is temporary, but I am worried that the future, things like this will become more frequent. What happens when climate change finally penetrates the bubble of governance and industry and we have to radically shift the way we live? Instead of forcing industry to tackle climate change NOW, all of us will be stuck changing our personal behaviors in many ways, maybe as urgently as we have had to change due to the pandemic. What happens when another, even deadlier pandemic sweeps the world as we continue to push our luck by cutting down wildlife habitat and building factory farms?
On the other end of the spectrum, what things that we do now will go out the window for other reasons, what traditions will change, what rituals will feel outdated…what celebrations will grow and develop? What will the future bring to our lives—good, bad, boring, exciting?
All of these were in my mind when I started making this installation, but what came out was something more disturbing, more grotesque. I’m not sure if that was an accident of using a sewing machine in this way for the first time or my subconscious at work. Either way, it seemed to fit our current environment more than a Happy Clubbing Group Shirt that I was thinking before. It now feels like bacteria or a mutation. I’m still not willing to go that dark and dystopian, so the audio tries to pull it back to more hopeful times, people eating in restaurants with no social distancing, laughs not muffled by facemasks, live music! I hope we learn some lessons from the pandemic and realize we can make sudden, drastic, but positive changes. I hope we change the world before it changes so much that we are forced to rush and keep up.