We are in the middle of a war but we just can’t be bothered to fight. The enemy we are fighting is apathy. Well, I believe so anyway.
I don’t know about you, but all I see around me are people who have given up, given up and given in to going along with what ‘they’ tell us. I don’t blame anyone for taking this path. It is the path of least resistance. When life is hard, when you struggle everyday just to pay your rent, put food on the table for yourself and or your family, I can’t blame anyone for keeping to the essentials and letting things ‘out there’ just slide. I’m going to get a little political and say this is down to Neo Liberalism that informs us that we are islands and as long as we are okay, then never mind about the rest, that as Margaret Thatcher famously suggested ‘there is no such thing as society”
Professor Gail Dines explores this connection and how it affects us in this speech she gave at the Feminism in London Conference a while back. It’s really worth a listen.
When our government punishes the most vulnerable, by cutting disability living allowances ( affecting many of my dear friends) , celebrates the fall in unemployment when actually all that is happening is that more people are prepared to work for zero hours contracts and unpaid internships ( exploitation) or there are people like me, who are self employed, trying to find their own way of making money without any security of holiday /pension or sick pay, there is little wonder that we feel disenfranchised. We , the little people, feel powerless as we watch the rise of the super rich , making London their playground. Relentless gentrification pushes out the ‘unsavoury’ element whilst stealing their cool.
We are all suffering from the disease of disconnection. We mourn the loss of intimacy in our relationships as we consume more and more pornography. We are becoming separate from each other : the divide and conquer rule has almost had us beaten. Almost.
Take a look at the photo at the top of this post. It is of a cushion cover I embroidered for my living room with a quote by the wonderful Alice Walker. ” The most common way people give up their power is thinking they don’t have any.” We have power, we’ve just been infected by apathy , telling us we don’t. Of course the media is helping, there’s recently been a massive uprising of protest in France after the Socialist government made sweeping changes to employment law. The pictures of this protest that popped up on social media were impressive, the streets were filled with people coming together to protest. NO official media channel reported it. We had to rely on the people’s media: the Internet to even hear about it.
So what’s this got to do with Gucci , I hear you ask? ( referencing the title of this blog post). Well , a few days ago I noticed that Gucci’s latest catwalk collection that was shown in Westminster Abbey bore a striking resemblance to my own aesthetic , as a maker of wearable art. I looked into this further to also discover that the same designer for the same collection, had launched a concept bag where the customer could choose elements to decorate a Gucci bag .
This stung. I had been doing this for over a year , as a way of helping my fans have an affordable way of having a bit of the Diane Goldie aesthetic. Of course, the bags weren’t Gucci. When you sell them for under £100 , this is a given. This was far too much of a coincidence to just be coincidence. I felt sick. A magazine article confirmed my fears:
The collection had been ‘inspired’ by British ( London) subcultures and there was even a mention of ‘tribe’.
Reaction amongst my friends was fairly consistent. There seemed to be a general feeling of annoyance but tinged with ‘you should be flattered’. I didn’t feel flattered. I felt rage.
I know why I feel rage. This is political. This is because we are trained to just accept this exploitation ( because of course , besides there being virtually no protection of copyright in fashion , as a small fry, I’d have no hope in hell of suing the big boys). I have a very smart friend, Dannie-Lu Carr, who has addressed the root of this problem , the need for constant turnover in creative arts , leading to theft of concepts and aesthetics , calling it the Hypercycle. Here is her Ted X talk explaining it.
I am by no means the first and won’t be the last to be victim of this syndrome but I’m not going to just lie back and ‘be flattered’.
What I intend to do is to take this rage and to use it to put on a protest art event during London fashion week in September that focuses on this exploitation of the little folk. We may be small fry, but there are LOTS of us. Lots of us , all singing together will make a BIG noise.
I’m going to paint portraits of my friends, many of them creatives themselves, wearing my aesthetic to cement it in art and in time as my art. There will be a #fuckfashion show and other art events focusing on raising awareness and kicking back. This is about the tribe coming together and saying HELL NO, WE MATTER.
There is a crowdfunding page to help us raise funds to secure the venue and pay for necessary costs of staging this. Could you help out?
I am an artist and artists have free reign to say what they want in their work.
So thank you Gucci. You’ve woken up the latent beast in me and vanquished the dragon Apathy. I’m ready. Are you?
The Vaults happening was a training ground. Now it’s time to get serious.
UPDATE: Support from Urbanity Blog http://www.urbanity-blog.com/2016/06/gucci-rip-off.html