The Born Project: About the Project
The Born Project is a multimedia, communal exhibition directed by Garrett Recker that celebrates individual identities while highlighting our potential to degender modern fashion. Through photography, film, dance and textiles, it explores the often hidden human experience as it relates to our gender expression. Gender has been constructed in fashion to produce a uniform system. There is a silent dictate that occurs simply by positioning certain cuts, colors and sizes within specific departments: male and female attire. With little appetite for risk in an industry catering to a mass market, clothing is designed to serve the conventions of the gender binary.
Underpinned by the notion that the wearer’s body isn’t perfect yet, fashion correlates self-completion with materialism. While gendered dress may seem completely benign, it presents a problem for people who express gender differently. Retail fashion drives conventions of self-expression. This exhibit strips the supply chains that have strategized, materialized, and packaged gender in the form of low cost, low quality apparel to the mass market, and opens up new space for gender expression.
Nine individuals, representing any sexuality, gender or background, were invited to design an outfit that perfectly expresses their true self. Together with a wardrobe designer, they began with a neutral base—the jumpsuit—to then build it out into what they feel speaks to their authentic self. Wearing their one-of-a-kind creations, the participants were photographed in full-body expressions, and then wrote personal statements that captured the thoughts, intentions, symbology and historical narratives that inspired their choices.
If the portrait photography shows those who have dared to live in a gender diverse space, the film portrays the world as it attempts to enforce gender. Pulling from experimental and surrealist cinema, and accompanied by Laurie Anderson’s 1982 experimental pop song, O Superman, the film explores the implications of gendered clothing on the human experience by chronicling three distinct, interconnected points in life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Across all three acts, fabric is used as a tool to explore themes of observation, constriction and eventually reclamation. The viewer, positioned as the public gaze, is made to come to terms with their often unconscious complicity in acts of gender assimilation, and they are invited to exit the concept of gendered fashion.