Micropolitics of reparation in Juana Diaz textile proposal

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1 The fabrics of the future proposed by Juana Diaz as rebellious micropolitics in the face of the abuses of the textile industry and the empty dynamics of today s fashion system. By means of an eloquent and expressive couture and the harmonic union of dissimilar pieces of fabric, Diaz visually communicates her stand taking in the face of the current issues. Through the organization of her production coherent, fair and local- she proposes a different way of developing textiles and garments. Las telas del futuro propuestas por Juana Díaz actúan como una micropolítica contestataria frente a los abusos de la industria textil y a las vacías dinámicas del sistema de la moda actual. Por medio de una costura elocuente y expresiva y de la armónica unión de retazos dispares, Díaz manifiesta visualmente una toma de postura ante problemáticas vigentes. A través de la organización de su producción coherente, justa y localizada propone otra forma de desarrollar textiles e indumentaria. Micropolitics fabrics of the future coherence reparation. Micropolítica telas del futuro coherencia reparación. There are naive designers that do not want to see the impact of their production, and designers that, with open eyes, take a stance before the present precarity of the world. Juana Diaz is undoubtedly one of the latter. Diaz works from within her deepest convictions. She expresses in her textiles for the future, in her garments, in the textile art, on her role as educator and in her home studio, her way of thinking and living. She came to design as a matter of chance, being theatre and art her priorities. However, in the context of a dictatorship that made of those professions a painful battlefield, she decided to take on a different occupation more in accordance with her talents and history. This is how textile and garments became her selected medium to express her political vision, one that demands changes and reparations for a country in crisis. Her work springs from her intimate creative needs: «I can t stop doing it. If I do, I feel anguished, I get depressed, I begin to feel I am not myself» (Juana Diaz, personal communication, April 11, 2015). Consequently, her work constitutes a space of extreme coherence between her need to express herself and her way of understanding the world. Her perspective is characterized by great sensitivity and a profound capacity for reflection, besides being illuminated by a vast knowledge in respect to the subjects pertaining to her work and a strong global consciousness. The creative process of Juana starts from her ability to seek and decode the information surrounding us. The following article is based on a personal interview with Juana Diaz pn April 11, 2015 Micropolitics of reparation in Juana Diaz textile proposal MICROPOLÍTICA DE LA REPARACIÓN EN LA PROPUESTA TEXTIL DE JUANA DÍAZ Nicole Cristi Designer and B. A, in Aesthetics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile _ Professor Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad de Chile schools of Design _ Research associate, Red Conceptualismos del Sur. Diseñadora y Licenciada en Estética, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile_ Docente escuelas de Diseño Pontificia Universidad Católica y Universidad de Chile _ Investigadora Red Conceptualismos del Sur

2 Based on a methodology that she calls pricking up one s ears or being with the eyes wide open (Juana Diaz, personal communication, April 11, 2015), Diaz has developed a line of work rooted in current problems, like water depletion (the textile industry is a huge consumer), or fair trade (fashion market has opted to reduce production costs by moving manufacture to third world countries). Kate Fletcher (2014) declares that the water used for cotton production varies according to agricultural practices and climate, but it can exceed 3,800 litres for every kilogram of cotton. The water used ends up highly contaminated with large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides used in cotton production, making it practically impossible to reutilize. As to production costs, Naomi Klein (2001) points out that brands like Nike, The Gap and Liz Claiborne among other multinationals, have chosen to hire young workers (under 15 years old) in countries like Indonesia, where they cut and bond fabrics that tell nothing of the precarious underlying working conditions. For Diaz, to think that a piece of garment may have wasted thousands of litres of water, was produced half way around the world to travel thousands of Kilometres to arrive at the sales point, and even so, that it s retail price be six thousand pesos in a big retail chain, is inconceivable. For this reason, she has created her own working model, aligned with her indignation and linked to her personal desires of change, where she proposes, experiments and lives a different form of production. Her work thus constitutes a sort of micropolitics, closer to slow fashion than the dynamics involved in the Fast Fashion 1. The designer comments that her proposal is not easy to carry out. «Actually, it s crazy work, because it s all against the current of the contemporary fashion industry. It s a commercial nonsense». (Juana Diaz, personal communication, April 11, 2015). But despite that, she manages to make it run on a small scale. This way, even though Diaz has her own studio, it s at Señora Maria s house, one of her dear seamstresses, her big operation centre, the place from where the fabrics are taken to Malloco, and where Carolina (Maria s daughter) lives. Carolina is also part of the production. To allow everyone to be able to work in a comfortable manner, avoiding having to crisscross Santiago (and even part of Chile) to carry out the work, an interconnection system had to be invented, where Carolina s husband and brother-in law act as connectors, taking advantage of their work-related need to travel constantly. Diaz has preferred to work on a small scale production and keep distant from the bad habits of macro industries that sacrifice quality and sustainability for speed and savings. In consequence, the final pieces integrate into their cost this coherence with which they were produced, focusing on fair trade and the valuing of national products. The micropolitics of Juana Diaz is also manifest in the action of rethinking the raw materials, a process that originates the fabrics of the future. These do not 1 Juana Diaz s work model is aligned with the so-called Slow fashion or Slow design, movement that has been installed strongly in Chile in the last years through names like Docena and Lupe Gajardo and that is conceived in opposition to the Fast Fashion. Diaz works from within her deepest convictions. She expresses in her textiles for the future, in her garments, in the textile art, on her role as educator and in her home studio, her way of thinking and living

3 The micropolitics of Juana Diaz is also manifest in the action of rethinking the raw materials, a process that originates the fabrics of the future

4 respond to a mere aesthetic whim despite having impressive qualities of beauty and experimentality, but rather to a need to dematerialize the world in the face of the massive and reckless exploitation of its resources. With all sorts of pieces of fabrics from other colleagues like Zurita, Sebastián Del Real, Ten Piedad, Trébol Sastrería, Francisca Tuca and Pranayama, Díaz composes with great sensitivity new fabrics that will be later elaborated in the generation of diverse pieces of clothing. To develop the fabrics of the future implies a lengthy process. After the selection of remnants in relation to the textile and its colour, the new fabrics are composed with extreme sensitivity. The composition must consider an overlap of two centimetres of each fragment of cloth and a complementation of forms to span a wider surface. The fabrics of the future are conceived to be used on both sides, which implies that the production process also is double. Every side involves three stages: first, laying out the pins, then tacking and, finally, machine sewing. The remnants are joined together with a special seam, referred by Diaz as the structural seam of the fabric of the future, or according to Señora María, the haphazard seam. The Japanese industry has defined it as the expressive seam, which we can associate with her restless, chaotic nature. The seams are intensified in most of the pieces by means of a high contrast between the threads and the tonality of the fabrics, discarding the option of making an unnoticeable seam, rather developing seams that are eloquent and rebellious: they let themselves be seen, manifesting clearly the reconstruction operation, the reparation of remnants like a war cry. The final result of a future fabric is imposing. Its chromatic work is rigorous and endowed with great visual harmony, using diverse strategies like contrasts, fade-outs or complementarity. This harmony is in contrast with the fidgety stiches, like a sharp link with Diaz s inner questionings in relation to social injustice, education, health, the economic system, and, also, with the fashion industry. As a consequence of the productive process, the garments made with the fabrics of the future are unique. Although Juana Diaz repeats in the same season the patterns of some jackets, dresses or skirts, the possibilities of the final result are as many as fabrics of the future are developed. According to the type of textile or its chromatic use, a piece can differ greatly from another. However, by being done over the basis of the same pattern, above the concept of unity of the format, the possibility of multiplicity is conceived, generating a productive process that is more efficient than the elaboration of unique patterns. Besides the fabrics of the future and its consequent garments, other proposals by the designer and artist are constructed based on similar approaches, making her stance on the present state of world affairs visible. In this way, for instance, the DECO Collection (constructivist textile manufacture, Fondart 2000), done by reutilizing and reinterpreting used clothes that arrive by tons in the country; or the paper knots tapestries (developed since 2006 and exhibited for the first time in 2007 at the Huellas Degüellas solo show at Corporación Cultural de Las Condes) done daily by Juana from all kinds of scrap like invoices or food containers; or the development of clothes with rebellious slogans, like the case of Salon del Automóvil (2004), where Juana used the catwalk watched by spectators that were having lunch as the show was being presented as a medium to present a skirt that, despite being a clothing item supposedly inspired by one of the cars featured in the show, hid the text hunger is a crime, exposed at the end of the fashion show, «causing applause and spontaneous cheering by the rest of the models and designers present» as commented El Mercurio on Saturday, October 23, Besides her work as project designer both in the areas of design and art, Juana Diaz teaches, a space to where she has also taken her defiant perspective. The work with students is for her also a place for experimentation, creation and politics, where, by means of a methodology based on observation and posing of questions identified at a personal level, she stimulates a critical attitude on the part of the students, as a foundation from where to start designing. Diaz s daring proposal, sometimes labelled as Fashion Terrorism, has been received rather timidly With all sorts of pieces of fabrics from other colleagues, like Zurita, Sebastián Del Real, Ten Piedad, Trébol Sastrería, Francisca Tuca and Pranayama, Díaz composes with great sensitivity new fabrics that will be later elaborated in the generation of diverse garments

5 Besides her work as project designer both in the areas of design and art, Juana Diaz teaches, a space to where she has also taken her defiant perspective

6 in our country. And it is becasue, besides the clothes with texts and expressive stitches (elements that carry a stronger character than what is accustomed in the national industry), in Chile comments Diaz a change in the concept of luxury is needed: «We have to start understanding that e pre-columbian textile is a luxury that has no comparison. It is a luxury to be able to pay for something that is saving a community, preserving an ancestral technique from our history. We need to change our paradigms here» (Juana Diaz, personal communication, April 11, 2015). Juana Diaz s garment designs have a high cost that responds to a complex productive process and to fair trade principles. However, in Chile, when it comes to purchasing clothes of high cost, people prefer big foreign brands, many of them manufactured by means of the exploitation of human and natural resources. Consequently, the production of Juana Diaz has sought new markets for its development, being Japan one of them. Although from her perspective, in Japan there is a larger purchasing power, a broader concept of luxury and larger possibilities for expression in terms of personal attire, the high valuing of her garments in this context is due to the relation of the Japanese culture with a textile tradition that is conscious of its material value «The Japanese culture is ancestrally linked to textiles and the textile art. They were the creators of the Shibori, they have developed these amazing kimonos for centuries and historically they pass down their garments, repairing them, and when repairing, they create a new aesthetic» (Juana Diaz, personal communication, April 11, 2015). In the artist s perspective, in Japan there is a culture of repairing, culture that has such a strong relation to her proposal, that it can explain the high appreciation found in this new market. Juana Diaz s pieces act as a reparation of the abuse carried on by the textile industry, as a reparation for the dynamics of an empty fashion industry, but above all they are installed as reparations for a system in crisis and a country ridden with inequalities. Reparation that joins together, by means of abject seams, uneven fragments that end up acquiring a subtle harmony, unfolding in the fabrics of the future, and, in her work as a whole, in taking a stance and a different way of making clothes: a Micropolitics of reparation. In finishing, it is important to mention that although Juana Diaz has sought to open new markets, she conceives her model as one that must not me relativized, rather broadened, in analogy with the economic models proposed by Victor Margolin, where the expansionist type must be replaced by a sustainable one (2005). In this manner, reparation, understood in political terms as developed in the present article, is a constitutive aspect of her work, one that must be made accessible to all and installed beyond the boundaries of fashion: in the economic, political and social system of our country and the world. DNA Juana Diaz has sought to open new markets, she conceives her model as one that must not me relativized, rather broadened, in analogy with the economic models proposed by Victor Margolin, where the expansionist type must be replaced by a sustainable one (2005). Graphic intervention over tapestries, Gonzalo Bustamante. References Fletcher, K. (2014). Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys (2a ed.). New York: Routledge. Klein, N. (2001). No Logo. Barcelona : Paidos. Margolin, V. (2005). Las políticas de lo artificial. México. Designio

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