Open Call for Curators
State of Fashion is globally recognized as a pioneering platform that explores an urgently needed radical change in fashion. Since its conception, State of Fashion has robustly addressed the environmental as well as the social footprint of the fashion industry, while uncovering new materials and production techniques. This very framework was the primary focus of its successful 2018 biennial ‘Searching for the New Luxury’, curated by José Teunissen, Professor in Fashion Theory and Dean of School of Design and Technology London College of Fashion (UAL).
Recent natural and political events, in addition to an exacerbated climate crisis with severe consequences for humanity, have led State of Fashion to a broader focus. Covid-19 once and for all exposed the vulnerabilities of the existing system of fashion. As a consequence of fallen consumer demand and clothing trade due to stringent lockdown measures, fashion companies canceled their orders or readjusted their payment and delivery procedures. As a result, millions of local garment workers across the world returned to their hometowns, towards an uncertain future. The murder of George Floyd in the US sparked a worldwide conversation about how our societies are still imbued with racism on many levels. In fashion, it revealed that ensuring diversity, equity and inclusivity takes more than just a stronger representation of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) on runways and in boardrooms. It requires a critical and rigorous view on how the fashion system is organized as a whole; it takes a radical approach that challenges the industry at its roots.
Our world has a variety of fashion systems. For decades, the dominant fashion system has been the one shaped by those located in privileged parts of the world. This system, driven by a business model encouraging constant and exponential economic growth, fails to take into account what it is slowly erasing as a result in its sacrifice zones: fertile land, clean water and local cultures. Sustainable fashion is also broadly defined by this system. This has resulted in problematic and often-clashing beliefs of how one could contribute to the sustainable fashion movement and, more importantly, of who could contribute to it: those who can afford it. Although conscious consumerism is pivotal, this singular understanding of sustainable fashion has a dramatic flaw: it does not consider or guarantee diversity, equality and inclusivity.
In the run-up to its next biennial in 2022, State of Fashion is reflecting on its core messages and its position by observing, questioning, looking and listening. In 2020, the platform started the intermediate program ‘This is an Intervention’ for which it invites thinkers and makers from all over the world to take over its program. With provocative readings, online conversations, interactive workshops, and inspiring visuals, they reflect on the dominant fashion system, its flaws and its future, from a variety of angles. In April 2021, at the end of ‘This is an Intervention’, the voices involved will pass on the torch to the new curatorial team for the 2022 biennial. With this Open Call for Curators, State of Fashion sets out to find fresh thinkers with groundbreaking and novel ideas, that are eager to use the cultural and safe space of the biennial to actively challenge and change fashion.
KEY QUESTIONS BIENNIAL 2022
State of Fashion considers fashion as a driver of positive change and aspires to be a catalyst for cultural transformation. For its next biennial, the platform is posing three main questions:
Fashion has been dehumanized by commercialization and industrialization. However, fashion comprises more than merely the system of producing objects for individuals with the means to spend. It is a medium for conversation about who we are as humans, how we relate to one another and to other species, and how we belong to nature. For our next biennial, we ask the curatorial team:
If compassion, sympathy and a generous disposition define humanity, how can fashion contribute to a world that is more humane for all?
Real change in fashion requires more than changes in the way we produce and consume garments, or the way we reward labor. It also requires a radical shift in power, one that dissolves the idea of the oppressor and the oppressed. While the term decolonization is slowly being coined by the industry as a marketing term, we challenge the curatorial team to think beyond hypes and critically explore the existing power structures in fashion. For our next biennial, we ask the curatorial team:
What are groundbreaking ways to create true, just and sustainable equity? Who has access and agency in this matter? How do we remain critical of our own endeavors?
The current understanding of fashion is centered around and elevates designers and brands. In reality, fashion should be an activity that weaves together a community of equals in different parts of the world and of practices, skills and materials associated with dressing the body. Important success factors for healthy communities are relationships, openness, self-reflection, empathy and a willingness to change. For our next biennial, we ask the curatorial team:
How can fashion inspire deeper relational connections between people, and between people and their environment? How can the knowledge that is exchanged within communities be made accessible and sustainable?
The above questions are an open invitation for a conversation. With the Open Call, State of Fashion is looking for curatorial proposals that respond to one or more of these questions, and for curators that:
- Have a critical and outspoken view on the urgencies of our time, the necessity for fundamental change, and the role that fashion can play in this transition.
- Are able to look at fashion through a decolonial lens.
- Have a proven collaborative spirit and working method.
- Are eager to reimagine the form and/or behavior of a biennial.
- Bring in a stimulating network of collaborators from inside and outside of fashion practice.
State of Fashion is open to curators from different backgrounds and practices, such as design, research, education, crafts, production and media. Individuals and groups of any age, gender, nationality and country of residence are invited to send their proposal.
State of Fashion is explicitly not looking for a singular perspective. Following the example of its sister-event sonsbeek20-24.org, State of Fashion encourages applications that work from a curatorial team, a collective view or a conversational approach.
TASK DESCRIPTION & RENUMERATION
The curatorial team will be involved on a project basis from April 2021 and until the end of the biennial in June/July 2022. The main tasks of the curatorial team will be:
- Developing the theme / curatorial direction for the biennial in 2022, and writing an inspiring curatorial statement.
- Translating the curatorial vision into an engaging and successful public event in close collaboration with the (management) team of State of Fashion.
- Connecting his/her/their network to generate meaningful partnerships, research projects and other initiatives for the biennial.
- Acting as the spokesperson for the biennial 2022 to press and media.
For this part-time commitment, the curatorial team receives a project-based fee. The Sonsbeek & State of Fashion Foundation is a non-profit organization and takes the regulations of fair practice as a basis for its renumeration.
Interested candidates are asked to send their applications by completing and sending the online application form before 1 February 2021, 23:59 CET. Questions concerning the application process may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.