Fashion Victims Buried Under the Rubble of Bangladesh

A Spanish artist drags a grim bit of Dhaka to Madrid’s fashion district; a review from Yorokobu:

Madrid’s Gran Via, like all great avenues, is a warehouse of dreams and desires, partly fed by the presence of big brands that do everything in their power to project their image from luxurious facades. In storefronts, enormous photos hang and mannequins stand in the windows to ease the shopping anxiety of passersby. The displays are designed to seduce and intoxicate people-until someone comes along to ruin the party.

Last week, the disconnect between the workforce that makes these clothes thousands of miles from here and the stores laden with adornments that sell them was temporarily short-circuited. For 20 minutes, in plain light of day, a series of women with impeccable outfits appeared buried under rubble from buildings.

Amongst the remains, clothes, heels and jewelry could be glimpsed, immobile on the prostrate bodies. A little more than a month had passed since the tragedy in Bangladesh and the artist Yolanda Dominguez was not about let it be forgotten.

Yolanda Dominguez installation.

Fashion Victims was the name she chose for this silent protest, conceived to activate people’s consciences about the poor working conditions that caused over 1,000 deaths in the Asian country.

The models she chose were fashion bloggers; thosewho, according to the artist, carry the flag for the industry.

“They are contemporary ambassadors for the brands and their most current form of publicity. I chose them for their symbolism and the power of influence they posses.”

Putting them at the center of the work permitted Dominguez to take the debate into the fashion industry’s territory so they pay attention to other fashion victims.

Yolanda Dominguez installation.

“It has allowed them to deal with an issue that they normally gloss over completely.”

At the same time, she has received compliments from journalists who say this protest gave them a way to put their finger on what just happened in Bangladesh.

“People wrote to me saying they couldn’t say much because the brands are among those essentially financing journalism, but because it’s coming from an artist it has helped them touch on such a delicate issue.”

Surprisingly, in light of recent events in Spain, police approached the protest to see what was happening but chose not to get involved.

“I didn’t even have to explain it. They asked me directly if it was a protest about what happened in Bangladesh and when I replied ‘yes’, they said they understood and I had every right to do it. It was not the reaction I was expecting.”

The Spanish artist has received some criticisms but says her conscience is clean, even though there’s a long ways to go on the issue.

Yolanda Dominguez installation.

“It’s their right (to criticize). It’s the price I pay for not making purely decorative objects. There are still people who think of art is purely aesthetic, a beautiful painting to hang on a wall.”

For a short time, Dominguez was able to interrupt the automatism we are buried in, and at the same time call for citizens to be more responsible.

“While one side of the planet is weighed down and stuffed with objects that boost the ego, on other end of the planet there are people dying with each stitch. These are the real fashion victims. The brands, designers, bloggers, the media and the fashion world can’t avoid the facts and look the other way. We are responsible for this reality. Even the consumers can help the transformation by choosing products that respect people and the environment.”

Marcus Hurst