This last month I have been …
about the exploitation of and by the creative and creator. In an age where we both consume and are consumed. Where EVERYONE is a content creator. Im left wondering if everyone is the content, who is actually left creating anything?
Creativity needs room to make mistakes, to fail, test and try. Is there space for failure and experimentation when it's both experienced and explored in real-time. Condensing and crunching the creative process and results in one neat ‘media friendly’ package.
I live near a dance school, sometimes I peak into the rehearsal rooms. I see falls, leaps, laughter and tears. I am aware this is not for my eyes, and my curiosity always gets the better of me. The creation has yet to be fully created, and I still want to grab a sneaky look.
“Curiosity is such a basic component of our natures that we are nearly oblivious to its pervasiveness in our lives. Consider, though, how much of our time we spend seeking and consuming information (...) Our insatiable demand for information drives a much of the global economy and, on a micro-scale, motivates learning and drives patterns of foraging in animals. Its diminution is a symptom of depression, and its overexpression contributes to distractibility (...) Curiosity is thought of as the noblest of human drives, and is just as often as it is denigrated as dangerous (as in the expression “curiosity killed the cat”).”
Source: The Psychology and Neuroscience of Curiosity Celeste Kidd Benjamin Y. Hayden
‘Curiosity’ has driven a media landscape where we digest content willingly that is repetitive and often intentionally muted. A celebration of the familiar under the guise of a curious look into another life, world or viewpoint.
“the reality of ‘reality TV’ has been lost: it has become mediated into a hyper-virtuality of pervasive online communication and politics, endless programming and constant bombardment of stylized and manicured imagery.” Oli Mould, Against Creativity, Verso, 2018
Sometimes I want junk food! Sometimes I like the illusion of curiosity without any of the thinking, learning, discomfort or growth that goes with it.
Those sorts of “creative” practices tend to spill out into our wider personal and social lives.
“merely a ruse that allows ‘work-like’ practices to invade our leisure, social and non-economic lives” Oli Mould, Against Creativity, Verso, 2018
Think of the rise of ambient TV, Infini scrolling, binge-watching repeats, ‘reality’ tv’s monotone allure or a 4 hour ASMR youtube exploring new geography from our chair (For the overworked and underpaid flâneur).
Why must we monetise every aspect of our lives? Perform in every corner? For years feminist artists challenged the laborious performativity that content creators encapsulate both ON and OFF screen (editing and manicuring their image for an often male/corporate gaze).
Hannah Wilke, Gestures, Video Performance,1974
Maybe we sleepwalked into an era of re-enforced gender or identity performance through content creation? So rigid, banal and bland, it’s bursting at the seams. Is our only way to move through to dissociate (dissociative feminism - TIKTOK by hailoswailo) or perform on extreme levels (Trad wives - TIKTOK by polyester zine).
I hope not.
Here are some prompts that help me to disconnect and not dissociate:
I want to be truly curious again! Im not sure I want to be “creative” (in the corporate sense). Do I even remember how? (ahhhhhhhh!)
like a hypocrite and I’m OK with that.
Congruence is a term used by Carl Rogers (a humanistic psychologist) to describe a state in which a person's ideal self (who we think we are) and lived experience (who and how we act in the world) are consistent or very similar. Its often visualised as two overlapping circles (the ideal self and the actualised self). People often feel distressed when these circles are very far apart … the goal is not to have complete overlap but to bring the two closer together.
Fashion is a great case study for the hypocrisy that floods the “creative industries” as a whole. The poster child, if you will. It's an industry at the forefront of how we express or signal our identities to others while creating, maintaining and setting visual standards we adhere to. Fashion is about freedom and control. Fashion is about empowerment and restriction. Fashion is about consuming and (raises eyebrow) ‘sustainability’. Fashion is an oxymoron. Fashion is a hypocrite, and I have always felt like a phoney within it … but never more so than NOW. When fashion became so ‘woke*’, I became more self-conscious and so did my students.
I used to have meetings and have to fight for diversity (which is totally fucked up). Now I have meetings with homogeneous boards and directors who tell me diversity is an essential part of their companies ethos (which is still totally fucked up … reflect your ethos in your company, not just your visual material. pls). It is hard to see progress when it’s so slow. When it feels so surface level.
I wonder if we can balance transparency and optimism within the limits of fashion and dress? These days I am happy to say this industry and its current and historical systems are all still “fucked”. I am aware I have participated in them. I have done jobs for brands I know need to DO BETTER, that have little to no need to exist? I teach fashion students, I still take on various jobs. How do I live with this hypocrisy in an industry that challenges ALMOST every aspect of my core beliefs? Wait …. how did I end up here?
SHON FAYE IG (accessed on 10th march 2022)
Fashion like people … is messy. It is not clear and clean-cut, it is complex with multiple factors and fractals. I can love parts of it and I can HATE others.
All humans are to some degree oppositional and hypocritical. I would sooner be a hypocrite and accept the industry for what it is (shiny on the surface and rotten at the core) than in denial.
Stories that were not others to tell … or for me to see. Entertainment and exploitation.
I watched a show that every fibre in my body NEW was not for me.
A woman has her body, intimate life, and personal pains laid bare without her permission. There are lawsuits; there was a literal burglary, a physical theft, as well as emotional and personal violations that followed. Then, a significant television channel decided to dramatise this experience (highlighting elements of the stolen personal material).
absolutely respect any personal decision that she makes on that, and understand where she's coming from,"
"The thing that gave me comfort was
felt like we really had an opportunity to change the narrative of this story, and to show it from a perspective that people can hopefully learn and grow from”
felt that we portrayed them in a very empathetic way.
thought the writers did a really nice job with that. So
felt that there was that opportunity, which was the hope."
Director Craig Gillespie
The defence above highlights the exact issue.
How many times do we hear “I”
“I” as an outsider felt this, “I” feel my narrative can do more to empower this person than their own choice to publicly not endorse, approve or give permission to explore their story.
“I” (ME) am ashamed I watched it. “I” have lacked in compassion and understanding. “I” also don’t think I care about your comfort? Director Craig Gillespie.
Sounds of being seen and not seen. Perceived and misunderstood.
“They only want you when you're seventeen,
When you're 21, you're no fun.
They take a Polaroid and let you go
Say they'll let you know, so come on.”
“Don't touch my pride
They say the glory's all mine
Don't test my mouth
They say the truth is my sound
They don't understand
What it means to me”
“She is strung out on a TV dream
And she's the taste of the gasoline
And she's as similar as you can get
To the shape of a cigarettes”
Polyester zines deep dive into Toxic femininity:
NB. (I think that all gender expressions and people are affected by the content we consume … it’s just more magnified in the above highly feminised example)
These newsletters will contain cultural insights, thoughts, articles and ideas.
Maybe my work - but mostly the stuff, struggles and thoughts around my work as a creative and educator across fashion, culture and lifestyle projects.