June 12, 2020
The death of George Floyd has made the inequality of society visible. We have once again witnessed how able we are in disguising the injustice as we continue our normal, everyday lives. Even on the other side of the planet, we are part of the same cultural heritage that caused the death of George Floyd. And it is time to speak up.
We can go all the way back to the history of colonialism or even to the very first steps of agricultural heritage to track down the structures that need to be urgently changed. Ultimately I’m looking at the way we perceive, think and talk about the environment: other people, cultures, plants, animals, rocks. All of it.
During the process of designing the How long is a Wave collection, we were able to take a closer look at the state of the Baltic Sea and how it has been affected by people. The fragile ecosystem is continuously affected by the dry land activities which have an almost direct impact on the seas. The well-being of the sea ultimately depends on how we practice agriculture, move around the city, or buy clothes. Most of the current practices for farming are based on heavy fertilisation and usage of pesticide which will end up in the seas and are disrupting the balance of the soil severely making it poorer and unable to bind carbonocide. And ultimately fashion comes down to farming also. How are the fibres grown used in the making of garments?
By aiming for quick and high profits we neglect the long term impacts, This seems to be the most deadly disease of our time. Fashion, not being an exception there.
The many problems we are facing at the moment related to the abusive treatments of the soil, animals and other people, has a very complex history, yet it would feel nice to offer a simple solution: let’s stop thinking about other beings as resources, let’s not think we know better (than nature), let’s connect with what is around us.
In his book “The life of plants, A metaphysics of mixture,” Emanuele Coccia writes about how life is a fluid. This liquid can be seen as either a solid or a gas, such as air. Its shape can be easily noticeable or almost invisible to us. The idea of fluid as a different form of life, a continuum, makes all observable beings parts of the same entity.
Observing the creatures of water and aquatic life, Coccia’s idea of liquid as a unifying factor for us feels real. He writes “The fish, then, is not only one of the stages in the environment of living beings, but the Paradigm of any living being - just like the sea, which is not to be considered only as an environment specific to certain beings, but as a metaphor of the world in it self ”.
There is something truly comforting and beautiful about this idea. We have a constant need to elevate (a white heterosexual) man to his own kind, who, through this inequality, has the right to control other lives - as well as other people.
The Black Lives Matter movement and protests have pointed out how fashion brands have been exploding the black communities: culturally as well as economically. American street wear has been adopted by the luxury brands and the cotton industry has very well known bloody roots. It feels a bit as if we would still live within the jungle laws, where the strongest and the fastest can take whatever can be taken. For me this feels absurd with all the knowledge we have: it will not help the individual, the culture and even less the planet to exploit your environment. If we would think of ourselves as fluid, all the same, would we then act differently?
Be it on the other side of the planet or at the bottom of the sea, we should not close our eyes and continue our everyday life when neglect, inequality and abusiveness is reality. In this sense I hope the crisis we are living in, will turn the direction and we will not go back to the old normal anymore.
Text: Mila Moisio
Photos: Laura Oja