Daniel Loose
Sarah Williams
Making Meaning Matter: The Ornament of Materiality


“Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.”

Which will end first: society or capitalism? The answer to this question may be too far off in the distance to definitively answer, however the horizon of the collapse of society looms over the heads of the millennial generation who are in the midst of confronting the energy crisis, global warming, overwhelming gendered violence, tensions between marginalized people and the police, being the largest holders of financial debt due to student loans (which were intended for survival in the capitalist economy), and a disassociation between the consumers and the producers of food and sustenance. Apocalypse may not necessarily be imminent, however millennials must constantly consider preparations for a future that we know will not be kind to us, and that living will not be merely living: life will be survival.
How do we confront the apocalyptic horizon? Informing this question, I draw upon the work done by queer and trans* artists and theorists whose practices are simultaneous negotiations of existence and survival. To inform this we turn to Queer theorist Jose Esteban Muñoz in his book “Cruising Utopia” discussing the relationship of queer aesthetics and futurity in his explanation of the concept of “queerness as horizon”:

“Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is indeed missing. Often we can glimpse the worlds proposed and promised by queerness and the realm of the aesthetic, frequently contains blueprints and schemata of a forward dawning futurity. Both the ornamental and the quotidian can contain a map of the utopia that is queerness. Turning to the aesthetic in the case of queerness is nothing like an escape from the social realm, insofar as queer aesthetics map future social relations. Queerness is a performative because it is not simply a being but a doing for and toward the future. Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world” (Muñoz, 1)

We can understand that the “world promised” informed by the “something missing” is the alternative to the current society in which we live: queerness could be that alternative to a society where efficient capitalism is supported through the hegemonic family unit and gender binary. Muñoz’s theory of the “not-yet-here” of queerness as horizon can act as the counterpoint to the impending “not-yet-here” of apocalypse. This thesis provides the conceptual framework for the work I intend to do in the following weeks.
In the discussion of specific queer artists working on the concept of post-apocalypse and futurity I draw upon a specific form that must survive in the capitalist market in order to have succeed to stay alive and to generate material: fashion. The contemporary fashion market is embracing technology without trepidation as seen in Iris Van Herpen’s 2015 SS collection featuring industrially 3d printed garments and Vogue Japan’s recent front page featuring the Apple iWatch, yet the contemporary fashion market’s younger houses are confronting the future and technology in a more abrasive and conceptual way. Specifically the fashion houses of Hood by Air, Luar Zepol, and TELFAR (all headed by QPOC designers) are negotiating a future less bright, armed against the horizon of apocalypse with the horizon of queerness.
It is with the work and presentations of the aforementioned artists and designers I shall counterbalance my current project that I find to be in alignment with the queer post apocalyptic aesthetic movement in contemporary fashion. I intend to construct a 3d-printed bra that can be added onto over time as a body’s breasts changes over time, thus contravening the inherent design flaw that that once we outgrow clothing the garment becomes useless for the owner. The model I am using for this project is my dear friend Kat, a Cornish College of the Arts student, whose work incidentally deals with post apocalypse. Kat is a trans woman, who is early in her transition, and the development of her breasts from hormone supplements is a key part of her developing a stronger sense of bodily autonomy. I believe that the way one dresses and adorns themselves is pivotal to developing a healthy sense of autonomy, an attribute necessary for surviving the current social atmosphere as well as the unforeseen ones.
I know that in regards to the question: “in a world full of too much plastic what are ideas worth materializing?” many would object to my answer being clothing considering that large-chain clothing gets dumped in massive quantities when it goes out of season or runs out of outlet circulation. However I am attempting to materialize a garment that thwarts the problem of clothing becoming un-wearable or becoming waste after bodies can no longer fit in it by creating a fabric structure that can be added onto or subtracted from over time depending on the constraints of the body it houses. I plan to juxtapose the work I am doing in this project with those of queer and trans* identified artists and theorists working in the realms of post apocalypse and utopic queer theory and put my work in conversation with the sources that helped inspire this project. The task of constructing a one of a kind garment is a project I have never attempted before and hopefully the outcome will prove worthy of comparison to the likes the aforementioned artists as well as helping a close friend on her journey through womanhood through a process of adorning her with personalized armor. I assert that the work I intend to do serves a utilitarian and feminist purpose while working within the constraints of the capitalist medium of fashion in order to fix the gaps in which the marginalized fall through.
I do not know what lies in the future, but I am positive that we will be well dressed for it.
Muñoz, José Esteban. “Feeling Utopia.” Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York UP, 2009. 1. Print.

Brown, Jacob. “Post-Apocalyptic Warriors and Voguing on the Runway at Hood by Air Men’s Fall 2014.” Vogue. Conde Naste, 9 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

“Stylee Fridays: Telfar Spring 08.” The FADER. The FADER Inc, 07 Dec. 2007. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

@lilgovernment. “NYFW: Luar Zepol SS14 Was Refreshingly Filler-Free.” Bullett Media. Bullett Media, 11 Sept. 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.