Category Archives: progressing projects

“body talk”

I saw a NYTimes article today about different summer camps that enforce a “no body-talk” rule. Meaning, no talking about how someone looks, positive or negative. Meaning, no complementing someone’s new dress or great hair, no saying that shirt looks bad on you, no talking about your own body really.

On Friday afternoon, when the campers, girls and boys from 8 to 17, are dressed in white and especially polished for the Sabbath, they refrain from complimenting one another’s appearances. Rather, they say, “Your soul shines” or “I feel so happy to be around you” or “Your smile lights up the world,” Ms. Stadlin said. – full article here

This immediately clicked for me and put a word to a weird feeling I’ve been having. I love talking about bodies, I love talking about clothes and I love when people look good and feel good. But there’s something that I’ve noticed especially on instagram and facebook (that I’ve totally taken part in) where powerful ladies complement each other by saying “babes!” or “hottie alert!” or “you look great girl!” It’s mildly ok when my female peers say something like this to me, but when someone I hardly talk to makes a similar comment, or if the commentator is male, it automatically feels weird.

It’s basically Feminism 101 — feeling objectified and like I am only seen as my body — but what surprised me or felt new was realizing how I am so deeply entrenched in this  and am adding to it everyday. I don’t actually think that calling my amazingly beautiful friends “hotties” empowers them or makes them feel great. It’s just like a random thing to say. I feel weird being part of the system that just looks at people (because it isn’t just a female thing) as how we look. because really that’s not what i’m complementing them on anyways.

Furthermore it got me thinking about the clothes I’m making. I’ve always felt weird about making clothes — it’s why I’ve held off actually declaring that I’m making a real clothing line for so long. It feels so silly ! Clothes are for insecure fashion obsessed lame-os! Clothes aren’t going to change the world! And on top of that, many of the clothes I make are sexy in some way. I feel powerful in being sexy, in being powerful in my body, in talking about bodies, in being conscious of my body. But the context around this is what’s upsetting me.

I don’t really have a coherent conclusion or answer, it’s the start of an inquiry. I want my clothes to empower the wearer beyond having them feel sexy or good, like a nicely fitting dress or a new pair of shoes that some random stranger on the street complements as you walk by — “Oh cool shirt you look great today!” That’s nice and all, but that’s not what I’m going after.

There’s something to this “no body talk” rule and I’m going to take it on, WHILE ALSO making clothes and talking about bodies. There’s an intersection here somewhere and I think that is where I’m most excited to go — not into making custom clothing, not into making costumes for plays, not into making sewing workshops — going into a place where the clothes we wear naturally allow us to easily share our selves underneath these skins.

Your thoughts welcome.

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a month in the midwest

I’ve temporarily traded NYC for a month on the road – visiting friends and doing some mini-residencies to refine and develop a real wearable clothing line, the next step for the PowerSuits project.

driving

Last week I took part in an art residency at Have Company in Grand Rapids and had a great time meeting all the amazing people of that town and getting to know the life of a store owner. I finished up a bunch of old projects that had been haunting me, hosted a romper-making workshop, and had an amazing photo-shoot with Carson Davis Brown — looking forward to the PowerSuit pics that come from that afternoon of fabric forts and metal mountains.

havecompanyromperromperss

carsonphotoshoot

Now I’m in Yipsilanti, inhabiting my friend’s Juliet and Narooz’s lives by housesitting, hanging out with their cat Gingerale, and eating all the pickles in their fridge. I am so enjoying having the space to myself; it feels like playing ‘house’.

julietnarooz

My goal for this residency is to create 4 rough drafts of pieces that I love and want to produce on a bigger scale as part of the PowerSuits line. To do that I’m creating at least 3 variations of each piece, 12 pieces total. The categories are: Jumpsuit, Blazer, Basic Dress, Basic Blouse. These are pieces for fantastic daily wear, uniforms for a magical and powerful life.

So far I have a bunch of starts — some very standard shirt and dress combos, some weird crazy costume pieces. I want to have the final pieces be a bit of both: totally wearable while also a bit weird and crazy. More pictures over the next few days.

Thanks for your ongoing support of all things PowerSuit y’all…. I’ve been very much in my head these last few months, but this summer is the summer of sewing. more making less thinking GO!

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work hard; spring is coming

Two weeks in and I’m already behind. As always I’ve taken on too many projects and committed to a million meetings — all of which are awesome and incredible and fun and or necessary and I can’t possibly say no. This weekend I had a chance to sit down and sew. I have two projects to show you today for the past two weeks of this project.

But in my head, I feel like I don’t have anything to show you. I have been making up a lot of stories as to why these two pieces “don’t count” or “aren’t good enough.” I want this project to be about making domestic, wearable garments, but I also want to create crazy outrageous non-functional costumes. These aren’t really outrageous or costume-y, one isn’t even completed, and the other is actually cheating because I didn’t make the whole thing from scratch.

OH BUT WAIT, I made up this game – and I didn’t even really make up all the rules yet. The only rule is work. This game is about producing instead of thinking, it’s about making things instead of making lists. These garments are two steps forward towards a clothing line, a coherent project, a next step, a clear vision. So here we go.

planpatterns

For these past two weeks, I created two everyday-wear garments responding to my very immediate environment and personal state of being. These pieces are about planning, preparations, utility, warmth, bundling up for the last bit of winter, dreaming of the adventures ahead, suiting up for times when I’ll be out making and doing and walking around in these costumes. Work hard now, spring is coming.

The first piece is a pair of overalls. I’m almost finished but need to sew in the snaps, and find the right hardware for the straps. The trickiest part was the side-openings, as I didn’t want to have a center fly. I am hoping when finished it’s the right combination of loose fitting for easy bending and moving, but tight enough to feel like it’s made just for me.

overallsprogress

The second piece is a cozy cozy sweater for a cute-lumberjack. I took an old “dad” sweater with a big V neck and added a fleece collar, lined with fuzzy red plaid underneath. It is surprisingly very warm, and I’m excited to ride out the last bit of this winter wearing it.

lumberjacksweater

The only rule is work. Keep working. Keep going. Stop thinking, just make.

Aliya

p.s. yes, I make my patterns out of “Latino Firemen” posters from MFTA.

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this was #worthcelebrating

the twitter / real life performance was just lovely. I loved loved loved interacting with people in real life — collecting their stories and celebrations and whatever they were celebrating that day (including both moving to NYC, and also finally figuring out when he will be moving out of NYC). I also loved getting the additional layer of input and story contribution from the amazing online audience — friends, family, and everyone else contributing their stories in little twitter poems.

read the full (mostly full — open up those private twitter accounts in order for me to include your tweets in there next time!!!) story of the performance here.

thank you to man bartlett for documentation, assistance, and for making sure I got some dinner. thank you to curators jean barberis and elizabeth larison who let me throw together a performance in short notice!

in-progress flag photoshoot by alison nguyen!

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#WORTHCELEBRATING

This Thursday, I am excited to unveil my newest project, WORTH CELEBRATING, which was produced specifically for Flux Factory‘s Spring exhibition, Bionic Gardens. The piece uses strands of flags hung all throughout the exhibition and Flux Factory building to set the stage for a celebration, to announce a party, a victory of things growing newly, changing and unfolding in unforeseen ways.

Within the context of the flags, the mundane becomes fantastic, our small daily victories and triumphs become something worth celebrating.

In that light, I will be doing a performance this THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 7-9PM as part of Flux Thursday, a monthly potluck and showcase event.

As part of the performance I will gather the stories of your recent personal victories, triumphs, accomplishments and celebrations. I will distill them into one word or phrase and then record that phrase onto one of the flags currently hanging at the Flux Factory.

At the conclusion we will have a document of celebration and triumph blowing in the wind.

Please join me this Thursday, June 14, from 7pm – 9pm eastern standard time: in person at Flux Factory (in Queens, NY), or online by tweeting a description of your celebration with the hashtag #WORTHCELEBRATING (you can follow me on twitter here).

I can’t wait to celebrate with you.

Aliya

p.s. part of Flux Thursday is a potluck — if you can, bring something to share but more importantly, come hungry!! after the performance stick around to hear about the other amazing projects happening as part of the Bionic Gardens Show!

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MY BRAIN, lately

20120518-151709.jpg

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Let’s Talk about BUSINESS: Shannon Finnegan

MONEY/TIME/VALUE/BUSINESS. BUSINESSLADYTIME(TM)INC.
An ongoing series of interviews and discussions about art and business. How do they balance out? How do we make this stuff real?

Shannon Finnegan

Shannon makes work that explores “working” and jobs; what tasks and actions have value? In her 8-Hour Performance series, she will do one repetitive task — such as vertical mark-making, or writing out a series of sentences repeatedly — for an eight-hour period, starting the performance by clocking in, keeping track of her bathroom breaks, and clocking out when the eight hours are completed.

Shannon’s conceptually ideal daily schedule would include going into work, execute an eight-hour drawing, and then clock ing-out. She would then leave her studio and be “off work”, not doing any other drawings in the evenings or weekends. After considering this for a moment, we discussed Shannon’s more practical ideal schedule that would include time for engaging with others: she would still spend a majority of her working days executing eight-hour drawings, but would also schedule days for meetings with assistants and project partners, gallery owners and performance collaborators.

At this point in the interview, Shannon discussed how she’s just recently fallen into a schedule that balances being an artist and making an income in a way that actually is working for her: working for income four days week, making artwork three days a week. “That third weekend day is crucial,” she said.

We talked about how consistency is crucial. If she has to spend some of her non-working days “hustling” for more work, than that eats into her art-making time — and more importantly it eats into her head space. Worrying about income leaves no space for creative thinking.

This is all of the interview I managed to record.

Shannon currently lives in New York City and is working as a personal assistant, nanny, non-profit arts organization summer festival director, and probably more jobs I don’t remember.

Shannon holds a BA from Carleton College.

She will be exhibiting an 8-hour performance at the Invisible Dog Gallery on Saturday June 9th from 11am-7pm with a reception and Q&A from 6pm-8pm.

Follow-up notes:

READ THIS: Are You Working Too Much? Post-Fordism, Precarity, and the Labor of Art, Edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, and Anton Vidokle, June 2011

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