June 4, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on June 3, 2018

Beautiful day out there. Slept till 8:30a.m., feel great. Went to bed relatively late (well past midnight), have started reading (finally) Svetlana Boym’s The Future of Nostalgia. That Boym’s book grabbed me enough to fully engage my attention last night is a testament, for like many others yesterday, I had spent a good chunk of the evening refreshing the news and the Twitter feeds of select individuals so I could keep abreast of the terrible London attacks.

Twitterverse chatter about the “awfulness” of “Islamophobia” was especially galling. These idiots should just STFU.

Anyway, agitated as I was, Boym’s book grabbed me; it showed an original, creative mind.

Before all this terror bullshit blew up, W. and I went to the PEM, not expecting anything special. But special we found, and I might go back before the exhibition closes on June 11, to re-look, re-think. Aside from a fun exhibition on ocean liners (how “tiny” they were at the outset, compared to the monsters now plying the oceans – and overwhelming tiny places, like Venice), we stumbled into Suzie Moncrieff‘s World of Wearable Art, not knowing what to expect. It’s stunning, something I didn’t fully comprehend until we sat down to watch footage of the deluxe gala she orchestrates, the culmination of her WOW annual festival in New Zealand. There is so much there.

The other day on Twitter I had seen an image by Mohammad (“Moe”) Kheirkhah Zoyari: a sea of chador-clad women, hulking black undifferentiated veiled faceless shapes. And one of them is holding a toddler or maybe four-year-old, an unveiled child dressed in white, with bright brown curly-wavy hair, an open face, looking at the viewer. The joy of youth, soon to be swallowed into this sea of iconoclastic, difference-destroying, visual beauty hating conformity. And I thought about how Moncrieff’s WOW does something that is quite the opposite, yet simultaneously parallel, insofar as individuality (personality) is veiled or hidden – or costumed: I think that’s the right word, costumed! – beneath a performance of sexual personae, more in Paglia’s sense.

There’s a strong sense of these costumes becoming the wearer (“That outfit becomes you”: who still uses this phrasing?), not of the wearer choosing the costume. There are fairy tales about this (red shoes, maybe?, but others, too …should dig some out later, for reference): the magic, supernatural power of the garment or costume to change the wearer.

Are you still an individual, a single person, if the costume becomes you?

Hence my thinking of this in relation to the chador: it’s a fucking performance, people, a cha(do)rade, an absolute con, and it doesn’t even have the stunning power of Moncrieff’s gala, because the only way it maintains its power is if it’s an army of women all in veils.

WOW on the other hand makes each individual costume stand out.

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