Friday, 7 October 2016

What I'm Reading: Autumn Edition

Now that I've handed in my Masters dissertation and no longer have a reading list as long as my arm (literally - my bibliography was 8 pages), it's nice to introduce varied bedside and tube-time reading to my daily routine of writing, eating, and knitting. It's also nice to do more than only reading the relevant chapter of a book because you're running out of time. There are many texts that I'd like to revisit, and I'm sure I will; but for now I'm having a little bit of a break from academic writing. Here's what's on my nightstand now.

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein (2014)
I heard Klein give the Edward Said Memorial Lecture at the Southbank Centre earlier this year. I'm now reading her latest book, which the lecture referred to. She is a compelling speaker and a meticulous writer, quite incorruptible. This book, about the climate crisis, is kind of depressing as it demonstrates how much power has been taken out of the hands of people thanks to corporate legislation. As she puts it, truly effective green solutions are not going to be achieved by middle-class people shopping at farmer's markets. It's an important book; we need more people like her.

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934)
As I summarised on Twitter: 'Horny young man wanders around Paris, feeling hungry and trying to write.' I don't love Henry Miller anything as much as Anaïs Nin, but I'm still enjoying Tropic of Cancer. It feels ruthlessly contemporary, in many ways showing how little we've moved on since 1934.

Tales of Two Cities, Hong Kong and Singapore edited by Alice Clark-Platts, S. Mickey Lin, Edmund Price, Harmony Sin (2015)
I often have a book of short stories on the go. I think that I actually prefer them over novels. I found this book in the big Kinokuniya in Takashimaya mall in Singapore. Kinokuniya is an international Japanese book chain, but I always visit it when I'm in Asia because it has excellent pan-Asian contemporary literature published in English. Tales of Two Cities is a collection of stories set in Singapore and Hong Kong featuring authors chosen from the respective local writers' groups. I don't love all of the stories, but it's an entertaining insight into life in these two cities, that I spent time in over the summer.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Waste Not, Want Not: Slow Fashion October over at Tailoring Tales

This year, I'm participating in Slow Fashion October, a month-long conversation about fashion, clothing, craft and sustainability hosted by Karen Templer of Fringe Association. A key part of my passion for costume & textiles has been sustainability, and I have long been working to destigmatise home-made, second-hand clothing. To dress in clothing that does not have an adverse impact on the environment or human rights, one does not have to own a wardrobe full of beige tree-hugger chic. Now going by the moniker 'Slow Fashion', sustainable clothing choices reverberate into our deeper lifestyle choices.

As my personal spin on slow fashion relates to home dressmaking and second-hand shopping, I've chosen to blog my participation in Slow Fashion October over on my craft blog Tailoring Tales. I hope you'll join in the conversation there!

Click here to read about the Slow Fashion October initiative
Click here to read my posts over on Tailoring Tales

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Underpinnings Museum :: Kickstarter Campaign

Image courtesy of The Underpinnings Museum; photography by Tigz Rice Studios

With museums around the world on subjects are varied as bottles, fans and shoes, or even focussing solely on brands, it seems incredible that no similar resource has existed on the topic of underwear. Often taken for granted in daily life, or given limited focus in historical research, underwear is in fact key to the development of silhouettes in fashion history, a foundation both corporeal and conceptual.

The Underpinnings Museum is a new, exciting venture from a trio of lingerie experts of differing fields: designer Karolina Laskowska, blogger and academic researcher Lori Smith, and photographer Tigz Rice. Consisting primarily of a digital archive, it will offer clear and detailed photographs of historical pieces to demonstrate the evolution of underwear throughout the ages. The initial collection being documented dates from 1880-1960, but the Museum aims to develop its contemporary collection, and even offers a plan for working with current lingerie brands.

Aimed at a broad audience of lingerie enthusiasts, designers, and researchers, this resource will - amazingly- be free to access. However, it's not there yet. The founders aim to launch the Museum in the new year, and are now running a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund the materials and resources needed to complete preparing and documenting the digital archive of historical pieces. And so, in order to open this fantastic resource to the public, they need you!

The campaign has already raised just under 50% of their target in the first 3 days, and it runs until Sunday 30th October. Campaign donations start from just £1, and there are a range of rewards available for donors.

Click here to read in depth about the museum on their Kickstarter page.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Dandyism & Black Masculinity at the Photographer's Gallery

Continuing in my time-honoured tradition of not making it to an exhibition till the day it closes, I finally saw the show Made You Look: Dandyism & Black Masculinity at the Photographer's Gallery on its final day last weekend.

It was a great show, displaying a carefully-hung collection of photographs which were chosen with both sensitivity and a sense of humour by curator Ekow Eshun. The show explored active articulations of Black male identity through style, operating under the notion of the performative nature of masculinity. In a mixture of formal portraits, documentary/street photography, self-portraits and more, the exhibition challenged the notion of the Black body as a sexualised object. The subjects' self-presentation was key to the show, and their demonstration of alternative modes of masculinity than is typically given to Black men in media and popular culture that typically caters to a White gaze.

Two favourite photographers were the MoroccanHassan Hajjaj's exuberantly colourful portraits dominated by colour and pattern; and Malian Malick Sidibé's black-and-white 1970s portraits. In these two photographers' works, as well as more generally across the exhibition, the subjects gazed forth penetratingly through exuberant pattern and often-extravagant style; clothing is used as a tool to enhance the articulation of their identity. It's this common theme that displays interesting men with great style - and creates a clear difference between portrait and fashion photography.

Curator Ekow Eshun's video of the show is also available online, as is his accompanying essay. I can only recommend you explore both.