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FEATURED ARTIST: JAMIU KOLAWOLE AGBOKE

December 16, 2017

 

Mirrors 

cascading mirrors adopted as my own

encased in this primordial prism of thought

stagnated on this plane

caged 

fixated on 4 corners  

transfixed on what flickers

 

click

unaware of its sheer 

magnitude and potential 

our narrow gaze,

shackled by freedoms

our swift moment in the sun 

yet 

arrogance 

glazed over our eyes

 

click 

 

beams through cylinders, 

a sea of thought, 

ubiqutous, 

long and short poles 

remnants of the past 

Unhinged by sundials 

nor the weave or weft

but the loom itself.   

pulsating, 

laying dormant 

waiting for the right moment

to take its first breath  

click. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph by Dhanjal

 

Jamiu is an artist and designer based in Hackney Wick, London. As the cranes, bulldozers and profiteers dismantle and destroy the area around his studio Jamiu responds with his own form of deconstruction. A radical & positive kind of deconstruction that builds in strength and ideology with ever piece of material removed. In the same way our cultural ideology seems to deteriorate with every step to reinforce materialism, adding more than is necessary to stifle any true growth towards a fairer society. With his pattern cutting sissors Jamiu cuts through the fabric of our conditioning and folds the human condition upon itself.

 

In Jamiu's own word "My practice is centred on the dissection of visual syntax of our surroundings and its relation to the human condition. Breaking down our programming, the hardware & software that governs how we see ourselves. Hence the emphasis on entropy through the dismantling or destruction of my own work. Clothing & fashion are the main mediums for building and storing the code of self perception and are our way of signalling  to the groups we want to be associated with in attraction;  socio economic standing, Ethnicity, Etc.. they are the Emojis or hieroglyphs of the physical world.The need to deconstruct and destroy the cloth used  in my practice has been challenging  but a necessary process."

 

As an important part of the creative solidarity of Vicious Collective, Jamiu's work embodies the Crying Eye, VC Manifesto 1.1:3 'Challenge your habits and rituals. Experiment with your self and others; Every 'Thing' now accepted was once an experiment.'

 

                                                    Photograph by Tana Kadlecova 

 

VC interviewed Jamiu and as with any piece of bad self serving journalism, the journalist seeks to further their own agenda, or the agenda of their editor, twisting any subject to fit into the parameters of their own ideology. With this considered, and in the knowledge that we are not journalists, and answer to no one but the crying eye, We asked him a series of questions about his practise that sought to further our own collective agenda, namely the undermining of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, as no matter what you do that is LIKE really important, RIGHT???

 

(VC) Although the overwhelming majority of people enrolling in Fashion Institutes are female, the majority of the top positions held at fashion houses are held by men. With the more Conservative cities of Paris and Milan showing most disparity, and London and New York being slightly better. This said the overwhelming majority of consumers are women.

How do you think this dominant 'Male Fantasy' affects design?

 

(JAMIU) It affects the design process tremendously, in actual fact “designing’ doesn’t really happen within these fashion houses. A great example is the research process prior to the show or collection. Images of Muses, Celebrities, and past collections are all collated and reconfigured in order to produce a new body of work to be then marketed and sold across the global. The process isn’t the problem but it acts a catalyst in propagating and maintaining the idealogical status quo thats governs the female and male perception on how she sees herself and how he sees her. I just don’t think its a fashion problem, but imagine if life was an assembly line from concept to final product, ‘fashion' is that outcome or final product. In other words fashion as an entity is just a mere passive observer who asserts the status quo, affirming the patriarch. 

 

(VC) How as a male designer who is seeking to progress himself within the industry do you think this gender inequality could be challenged?

 

(JAMIU) Indeed I think its within our reach to turn things around, but we have to be vocal, active about it, season in season out with a strong sense of conviction. Its not so much the clothes, but its the marketing guru’s who orchestra a seductive and false visual syntax which penetrates the consumers minds. Telling them their lives aren’t complete without these items. I strongly believe the narrative of the campaign and marketing is were the key lies in creating the mental shift of how we see ourselves. 

 

(VC) How do you approach the gender binary in your own practise?

 

(JAMIU) From a practical perspective I focus on movement and the conversation between the garment and the body which informs the cut of the garments that could be worn in different ways and for different shapes and sizes.

 

(VC) Aside from the issues of workers making clothes under appaling conditions for major brands, slave labour, animal cruelty and unethical environmental practises when sourcing materials. The fashion industry like the Art World is structured in a way where social class plays a part in determining success, thus limiting the voice of the working and lower middle classes in the discourse and direction of the industry.

How do you think this plays out in the fetishisation of working class culture in Fashion?

 

(JAMIU) To be quiet honest I haven’t got much to say on the issue. but I think the whole fetishisation all stems from the commercialisation of uk garage and grime. 

 

(VC) Do you see your designs as products that could be conventionally consumed?

 

(JAMIU) Yes 

 

(VC) Do you think the illusion of luxury should be so expensive?

 

(JAMIU) Well it depends how you look at it, hypothetically if I was a business investor my answer would be yes, due to this constant pursuit of increase in profits the ‘luxury product' is a processor to demand. Simply because the market wraps self worth, success and fulfilment around these items which in turn fuels the consumers pursuit of happiness in these objects which drives the capitalist society we find ourselves in. Does luxury mean good quality or a well made product? not necessarily. The term is just a means to and end for most fashion houses. But for those companies and fashion houses who dedicate time and research in creating new products in relation to world we live today in regards to function, breathability, anatomical ergonomics and most importantly those who are trying to redefine what it means to be human in todays world, bring a new narrative to the table will inevitable will be expensive. Due to the time and resource spent to explore these new avenues.

 

(VC) OK, last questions, promise. 

Racism is an uncomfortable subject for many people who want to pretend that structural racism doesn't exist, or that they themselves aren't racist just because they haven't been to a KKK rally... Needless to say the fashion industry, like most industries is dominated by white people in positions of power, and can be a diffult space to navigate as a person of colour.

Do you feel the appointment of Edward Enninful as the new editor of British Vogue will help diversify the fashion industry and help move away from the old order?

 

​(JAMIU) Yes I think its a very big step forward. But we have to take into consideration that he has to generate revenue for the magazine whilst keeping his core audience happy at the same time collaborating and working with people from different ethnic backgrounds in order to perpetuate a more egalitarian approach to beauty. This goes with what I mentioned earlier on the narrative has to be changed and he's in the driving seat to do that so only time shall tell. 

 

(VC) As a person of colour, what have your experiences of racism been, if any, around art & fashion? 

 

(JAMIU) Ive been extremely lucky so oddly enough not much at all. I know numerous friends who have accounted problems in the fashion industry. The most common thing that gets said about their work is “its too ethnic”. Which literally means work of primitive origin, which in turn affirms the white status quo.

 

(VC) Considering the statement that 'the concept of utopia is inherently fascistic', how does your practise challenge western beauty standards?

 

(JAMIU) My work is still at its rudimentary stages in regards to cloth making because I have had to reconfigure all I have learnt over the years  in order to revaluate what “beauty” is and my relation to it in the world I live in. 

 

(VC) And finally what in your opinion is the difference between an artist and a designer, if any?

 

(JAMIU) An Artist is a liminal being, who attempts to elucidate and expand our spectrum of perception.  A Designer starts  off with the same pursuits but they inevitably become the cog in the machine whether for better or worse. 

 

Jamiu is working towards the completion of a new body of work that will be showcased in the spring of 2018, viciouscollective.com will bring you updates and announcements of his progress. 

Follow Jamiu on instagram @syn_iii

 

 

VC X JAMIU 

Dec 2017

 

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