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The 2022 State of Fashion Biennial is curated by Fashion Open Studio – the initiative of global activist NGO Fashion Revolution – in collaboration with the NOT____ ENOUGH Collective, made up of three critical South American women who examine the role of the oppressor and the oppressed in fashion. To select our curators for this edition, we held an Open Call for Curators, which attracted 118 applications from 31 countries. With the help of our international Creative Advisory Council, we selected not one curator, but two curatorial teams to put together the programme.
State of Fashion Biennale 2022 | Ways of Caring
3 June — 10 July 2022
7 Programme parts
5 Locations in the centre of Arnhem
Dive into our Digital Recap, which brings you back with information about all the participants and programme elements of Ways of Caring as well as extras such as the video registrations, Whataboutery series of podcasts and special interviews.
Please check out the full digital recap of State of Fashion 2022 | Ways of Caring via the button below:
Ways of Caring
Ways of Caring
The two teams have joined forces to develop a multi-faceted programme aimed at both professionals and enthusiasts. Inspired by the original meaning of the word ‘curator’ – derived from the Latin cura, which means ‘care’ – the team behind this year’s biennale chose as its central theme Ways of Caring.
With the central theme Ways of Caring, this summer’s State of Fashion Biennale looked for ways to make the fashion industry more sustainable and caring. With 7 programme parts, over 5 weeks more than 70 designers, artists and makers from all over the world and the public worked on the broken relationship between the production of fashion and the wearer. State of Fashion 2022 comprised an exhibition, 85 activities at 5 locations in the centre of Arnhem, city of sustainable fashion. Every day the range of activities was different, interactive and created together by creators and visitors.
Open Call for Contributors
To question fashion’s exhibitionist nature and selective methods, the programme was created through an international Open Call for Contributers and open dialogues to ensure a multi-voiced and participative perspective. More than 150 fashion practitioners from almost 50 countries responded.
The selected co-creators were commissioned to work together on a piece specifically created for the exhibition in a 4-month period. Together they overcame the difficulties of collaborating within an online context, battling time zones and language barriers. Despite many challenges, the co-creators found common ground and developed three amazing works. Next to the co-created work the exhibition also showed personal work of the co-creators.
Eunice Pais, Anabel Poh & Tra My Nguyen
amidst the threads, our names become.
Eunice Pais, Anabel Poh and Tra My Nguyen met after being selected through the Open Call for Contributors to collectively co-create a commissioned work specifically for Transforming Narratives. During 4 months of co creation, the group began its work from a common ground: their diaspora perspective. They focus on reclaiming women’s narratives, identities and memories through speculative narratives.
By connecting different diasporic perspectives, the interdisciplinary installation reveals the emotional, cultural, and feminist labour behind garments and textiles. Within the installation, the structure reclaims space with textiles informing the displaced identities. The deconstructed fabrics infer the creation of space through fragmentation, moving imagery narrates memories, and the photos envisage the hereafter. The work engages the plurality of existence and possibilities — not as a singular thread, but rather the ever-intertwined dynamics of understanding the past, participating in the present, co-creating equitable futures.
Santiago Útima, Siviwe James, Widi Asari & Riyadhus Shalihin
bodies that make, bodies that consume
Santiago Útima, Siviwe James, Widi Asari and Riyadhus Shalihin, met after being selected through the Open Call for Contributors to co-create a commissioned work specifically for the theme Exercising Compassion. Their work is the result of 4 months of co-creation in a digital environment. Through this process, they have experienced the challenges of battling time zones, language barriers and finding common ground between practice and theory.
bodies that make, bodies that consume reflects on material residues as workers’ truth, the deep-rooted voids of erasure of textile and clothing manufacture workers’ conditions. Residue becomes displaced memory, traces of evidence and ruins connected to the process of industrialization of countries of the global south: Colombia, South Africa and Indonesia. This is evidence that industrialization and excessive (if not inhumane) labour conditions on local people has acted as a form of colonisation of land, bodies, environments and experiences. The co-creators hope to bridge the gap between ‘the hands that make’ and the ‘bodies that consume’ with a desire of addressing the various emotional and physical situations labourers endure.
Wei-Chi Su, Ateliê Vivo, Danayi Madondo
Does it have an end?
Wei-Chi Su, Ateliê Vivo and Danayi Madondo met after being selected through the Open Call for Contributors to co-create a commissioned work specifically for Coexisting Knowledges during four months. During the process, they intensely questioned how to foster autonomy, sensorial experiences and freedom within education through an online co-creation environment.
Using textile waste, raw materials and deconstructed secondhand apparel fused with multi-traditional handcraft skills, the co-creators made an unfinished organic sensory sculpture. The installation diverts from traditional fashion norms, by putting emphasis on environment, community and relationships during the making experience instead on the finished product. It reshapes ways of learning and producing by decolonising our senses through reflective solidarity.
Promenade On Slow Street
Promenade On Slow Street
The shopping street urgently needs to be redesigned all over the world. Decades of mass consumption and cheap merchandise have had an adverse effect on our shopping areas, which are in turn becoming increasingly empty or being taken over by major brands. This has resulted in the aesthetic dominance of uniformity. We therefore need to come up with new systems that encourage slow, creative and customized consumption, new systems that respect craftsmanship and services, leading to a reduction in our C02 footprint.
What are those slow systems and how do they work? What does the ‘slow street’ of the future look like? How can we actively redesign our shopping street?
Specially for this intervention, the London-based multidisciplinary artist and designer Clara Chu, who graduated in 2019 from the Royal College of Art, created an installation in which to visualize our future shopping street. In her work she questions the focus on fast consumption goods and blurs the boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms of culture by means of humorous transformations. She also mixes mass consumption with the hand-made. Her mobile installation documented and mapped various ‘slow street’ initiatives in Arnhem. The participating public got involved and left behind its ideas and inspiration concerning the way people want to deal with shopping streets and redesign shared spaces as a way of creating a more inclusive and regenerative fashion system.
In connection with this intervention, three events, organized in collaboration with Rozet, focused on the shopping street. In three creative ‘pressure cookers’, participants came up with a prototype for the new shopping street and the city centre of the future. To this end, we teamed up with Bureau Ruimtekoers and sought collaboration with FDFA, Platform Binnenstad Arnhem and Citymarketing Arnhem. The findings of all sessions generated so much valuable information that we are currently processing it into a joint reference work, which we want to present to the city of Arnhem as a ‘One-Page Manifesto’. We view these results as a tentative ‘lobby’ for the near future.
Walk In Wardrobes
We know that a fundamental system change is required if we are to improve the fashion industry. The task of changing this industrial system, which is so deeply dependent on the exploitation of people and planet, is a daunting one. If we view our wardrobes as the point of departure for this exceptionally complex system, we can make a start.
In the intervention Walk-in Wardrobes, we encouraged individual and collective acts of repair and restoration: from mending clothes to repairing dysfunctional systems. Exchanging, sharing, lending, upcycling and reusing become acts of resistance against a system that is designed for obsolescence and waste. As Marina Spadafora, the ambassador of fair fashion, wisely states: “The revolution begins in the wardrobe!”
With the Walk-in Wardrobes, we examined the notion of citizen possession by making use of existing systems for exchanging or swapping clothes in order to test various methods of non-monetary exchange of clothing. What if we no longer view clothing as something we buy and possess, but as something we want to care for before passing it on to the next wearer? These wardrobes celebrate items of clothing as milestones of lived lives and position them as transitional objects from one wearer to the next. In this respect, we did not limit ourselves to an exchange of clothing but to the sharing of knowledge – from techniques of mending and altering to washing and maintaining – in order to build up an alternative fashion economy in which items of clothing remain in circulation for as long as possible.
Important partners in this programme were – in addition to the participating local designers, makers and the international designers (such as Garcia Bello, Cedric Mizero and SOUP Archive) – the clothing library initiative Outfit Library LESS and textile collector 2 Switch. Using the clothing donations of the latter, we were able to set up a test site for a clothing library system for Arnhem during the Biennale. The items of clothing were repaired, redesigned, upcycled and transformed before being brought back into circulation through the 2Switch shop in Arnhem. So, if you now visit 2Switch, you might come across an upcycled gem by one of the designers of the Walk-in Wardrobes, or an item repaired with love by your neighbours. The most important result of this programme element is that there is now a proposal for a permanent clothing library for the city, in collaboration with the above-mentioned partners.
During the Biennale the Recovery Garden served as a place where we could bring our clothes into contact with nature again. Through weekly workshops given by three partners whom we linked with this part of the programme, visitors could enjoy the alchemy that takes place in turning flowers, herbs and leaves into natural colouring agents for textiles. Clothing and textiles should not harm people or the planet. The industry has caused a lot of damage, but it can also contribute to recovery. We urgently need to invest in the development of a wide range of biodegradable materials as an alternative to harmful synthetic textiles and to invest in harmless, natural colouring agents and dyeing methods.
We developed the Recovery Garden in collaboration with the Hul le Kes Recovery Studio, a repair studio for both people and textiles. The perfectionism that our society demands from people and textiles causes a lot of damage. The current fashion system causes a lot of pollution and produces far too much. It also gives rise to social exclusion, feelings of inferiority, burnouts and depressions among people. The Hul le Kes Recovery Studio was established to provide a place for those who require a slower and safer environment. A place for self-development and social contact. Hul le Kes demonstrates that a system in which competition and exploitation play no role is indeed possible. From the ground to the wardrobe: a wealth of colour, made by nature. During the Biennale, Hul le Kes held ten workshops about natural colouring, for both primary school children and students and adults.
Stichting Fibershed Nederland, our second partner in this story, develops regional fibre systems that build up the soil and protect the health of our biosphere. As a thought leadership network and advocacy body that focuses on multi-sector collaboration, Fibershed sees it as its mission to mobilize and guide the fashion industry in rebuilding and strengthening local textile supply chains on the basis of social, circular and regenerative values.
Fibershed advocates a greater range of and variation in natural fibres and the local production of high-quality biodegradable textiles and clothing. During the Biennale, various talks and guided tours encouraged visitors to discover how innovative companies and pioneers develop new methods to colour textiles naturally on the basis of old techniques and new innovations. These examples from the Fibershed’s international network offered insight into what is already possible and how researchers, artisans and companies can invest in natural colour solutions that not only offer an extraordinary range of colours but also contribute to nature restoration and biodiversity.
The third party we invited to make a contribution to Recovery Garden was the Oshadi Collective from India. Oshadi means ‘essence of nature’ or ‘healing plant’ in Sanskrit. The plant-to-print project started as a fashion label for women, founded in 2016 by Nishanth Chopra. His desire to respect and regenerate the earth forms the basis for each process involved in making clothing – from printing and dyeing to weaving and spinning – and finally back to the earth. Chopra is cultivating a new fashion system that is rooted in ancient Indian agricultural practices and craft heritage, with at its core a 200-hectare regenerative cotton farm.
The Oshadi system tackles everything from pollution to the treatment of people with respect and dignity. During its stay in Arnhem, Oshadi shared its knowledge with local brands and designers whose values correspond with its simple ethos: give more and you take from the earth. Moreover, Nishanth Chopra and master block-printer Shyamji Bhai gave a series of workshops in the Recovery Garden on 4 and 5 June, in which they demonstrated the old craft of block printing and discussed the process of natural dyeing, from plant to print.
Walkaboutery and Whataboutery
Walkaboutery and Whataboutery
During the Biennale the weekly Whataboutery and Walkaboutery sessions took place at Audrey Hepburnplein, the central point that linked all the locations involved in the five-week event. Positioned around the information stand at the centre of the square was the so-called ‘Listening Bench’, which formed the focus for all visitors and the spot where they could meet and talk to all the participating designers, artists, co-curators and various makers. A place of complete openness and an invitation to interact, engage and discuss.
The Whataboutery programme comprised a series of intimate conversations, but also discussions and, in particular, interaction with the designers and artists taking part in State of Fashion. Subjects such as ‘How can we make fashion more inclusive? How can we make repair more accessible for everybody? What about the impact of the industry on our fragile ecosystems and on the overworked and underpaid garment-factory workers who are out of sight and therefore out of mind? How can we redesign the industry, and our shopping streets? And what about gender, race and centuries of colonialism that have caused unmentionable damage, and still do, to indigenous communities?
We also organized thrice-weekly Walkaboutery tours to all the main locations on the basis of different themes.
Whataboutery Museum Arnhem x Fashion as Encounters
Whataboutery Museum Arnhem x Fashion as Encounters
On July 9th we organised a substantive conversation with Molly Vaughan and Jan Hoek, moderated by Theodorus Johannes about the value of collectives in the fashion and art industry, the importance of the community in making changes happen and making way for other voices. The theme Exercising Compassion is a call to care for the suffering of others, willing to take joint action and improve for the future. Both speakers use their work to make other voices visible and strive for equality. They do this collectively. The talk focuses on the importance of their work and the many ways they try to make a difference. How is their experience so far? How is their work received and what did they learn so far?
Molly Vaughan is a Seattle-based artist who currently serves as a Senior Assistant Professor of Drawing and Painting at Bellevue College. In 2011, Vaughan began to openly make work as a trans woman which led to a number of ongoing bodies of work, including Project 42, The Ornamental Self, and Safety in Numbers. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in both solo and group exhibitions. The most recent exhibition, Project 42: Molly Vaughan, was held at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and showcased the first 21 of the 42 garments Vaughan is creating for this project. MOTHA and Chris E. Vargas Present: Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects was shown at The Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington and We the People at the Minnesota Museum of American Art.
In Project 42, Molly Vaughan (USA) honors the lives of murdered transgender and gender nonconforming Americans. In every work from the memorial project, an individual is honored with a garment and collaborative action. Each garment is constructed with patterned fabric developed from visiting the location of the tragic murder via Google Earth and Google street view. With the work, Vaughan raises awareness of the violence facing transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, especially trans women of color, in contemporary American society. By creating this awareness, she also hopes to realize collective ally-ship in society. “42” refers to the average lifespan of someone in this community.
Jan Hoek (1984) is an artist and writer. In his work he is always attracted to the beauty of outsiders worldwide and always keen to collaborate intensively with people that normally are overlooked and create together a new image. He photographed movie stars like Nairobi based motor taxi riders, a Amsterdam based ex heroine addict who always dreamed of being a super model, created psychedelic zines about the sex tourist capital of the world Pattaya, and made a serie about the Maasai who do not identify with the jumping stereotype image. In the universe of Hoek the ‘normal’ people are the strangers and the outsiders are the funky rulers of this planet. Hoek‘s work is shown at places such as Foam (Amsterdam), Unseen Festival (Amsterdam), Photoville (New York), Fomu (Antwerp) and Lagos Photo (Lagos).
The project Sisaaz of the Castle is the product of an ongoing collaboration between fashion designer Duran Lantink, trans sex worker organization SistaazHood and Jan Hoek. The Sistaaz are fierce activists, proud to be trans, proud to be sex workers, and even prouder of their stunning sense of style. And they want it to be acknowledged. Most of the girls are homeless, living under a bridge near Cape Town’s (South Africa) Castle of Good Hope.
Together they created a series of photographs and a fashion collection based on the girls’ appearance and their ability to turn whatever they find into the most exuberant outfits.
Moderator Theodorus Johannes
Theodorus Johannes (he / they / she) is a filmmaker, researcher, storyteller and notorious outfit repeater. They make reports that concentrate on fashion as a complex and powerful form of communication, in which themes such as identity and authenticity are inquired. Community, folklore and needlework are central in their art practice.
Performance Matthew Wang
A question that has concerned M. for some time: how can artistic work embody resistance and give way to individual and collective agency? They have been in search of practices grounded in a present and generous sense of place. Each encounter with such an object, person, or environment, affirms a view of this world as interdependent and indivisible. Each little story pieced together reveals the lie that capitalistic and colonial systems have deeply embedded in them. They believe there is still joy and hope to be found in the cracks and the folds.
The work that they have been drawn to is that which understands the sociality and performativity of our lived experiences — they seem to gently ask: how can this world be ever so different? more thoughtful? more engaged? more liveable? While their cynical response to ‘What do you do?’ is still ‘artist’, they do not believe art is the only place to find these answers. Said differently, they often find the most unannounced and invisible work to be the most radical. Amongst the messy overlaps, they cannot articulate a clear ‘position’ in their work and life, what is there is often an outcome of chance and exchange.
International Fashion Conference
International Fashion Conference
Curious fashion professionals and creative practitioners were invited to develop a deeper knowledge on solidarity in the fashion industry – what is solidarity and how to apply it in your practice? Visitors were invited to join the movement of creating a more solidary fashion system.
The conference Ways of Caring – Practicing Solidarity explored how to practise solidarity in fashion. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve heard many calls for solidarity, a more solidary fashion industry and more solidary practices of making and wearing. Curious fashion professionals and creative practitioners from around the world were invited to join a 48-hour hybrid conference to develop deeper knowledge on the topic – beyond the boundaries of the fashion discipline. Through interactive presentations, talks, lectures, demonstrations and workshops people could tune in with relevant thinkers, create with inspiring makers, and interact with like-minded fashion practitioners. Together, we worked towards a more solidary fashion system.
The conference kicked off on June 30 with an inspiring online programme curated by 10 fashion platforms and collectives from around the globe. Participants included Sueli Maxakali and Isael Maxakali, Rio Ethical Fashion from Brazil, Fashion Revolution, the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion, Ricarda Bigolin and Chantal Kirby from Australia, Bhaavya Goenka from India, Fashion Act Now, Amy Twigger Holroyd and the Research Collective for Decoloniality & Fashion. On July 1st, the conference continued live in Arnhem with demonstrations, lectures, workshops and discussions by critical fashion practitioners including Anna Piroska Tóth, Louise Croff Blake, Caulfield-Sriklad, Ben Barry, Mila Burcikova & Monica Buchan, Patchwork Family, Schepers Bosman and TOTON, amongst many others. The conference was supported by Gemeente Arnhem. amongst many others.
Updates and the full programme can be found at www.practicingsolidarity.nl
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