Group Hug. November 2020.
When I was thinking of the future, I was thinking what clothes would people wear that are impossible, or impractical now. I thought of the impracticability of clothing choices in the past for groups that didn’t work, such as hoop skirts or millstone collars. How about group clothing? If AI and robots were doing most of the work, then going to the club in your own squad shirt could be a thing, right?!
I was thinking of these things when we all had to suddenly change our lives in a rapid and drastic ways. Lock downs, masks in public, social distancing. Fast fashion stepped in and now you can get face masks in any pattern, any brand, everyone makes hand sanitizer too. None of these have any sustainability built in, but this is an emergency, but since we haven’t built sustainability into much in the past, why would we now?
I miss water fountains, dance clubs and dive bars, trains and travel…I really miss travel, I miss seeing my friends and getting hugs, big group hugs too! I miss all these things and I know this is temporary, but I am worried that the future things like this will become more normalized. What happens when climate change finally penetrates the bubble of governance and industry and we have to radically shift the way we live? Instead of forcing industry to tackle climate change NOW, all of us will be stuck changing our personal behaviors in many ways, maybe as urgently as we have had to change due to the pandemic. What happens when another, even deadlier pandemic sweeps the world as we continue to push our luck by cutting down wildlife habitat and build factory farms?
On the other end of the spectrum, what things that we do now will go out the window for other reasons, what traditions will change, what rituals will feel outdated…what celebrations will grow and develop? What will the future bring to our lives, good, bad, boring, exciting?
All of these were in my mind when I started making this installation, but what came out was something more disturbing, more grotesque. I’m not sure if that was an accident or my subconscious at work. Either way, it seemed to fit our current environment more than a Happy Clubbing Shirt that I was thinking before. It now feels like a bacteria or a mutation. I’m still not willing to go that dark, so the audio tries to pull it back to more hopeful times, people eating in restaurants with no social distancing, laughs not muffled by facemasks, live music! I hope we learn some lessons from the pandemic and realize we can make sudden, drastic, but positive changes. I hope we change the world before it changes so much that we are forced to rush and keep up.