Monday Dec 28 2020

There was a walking tour and artist talk (Building Blocks) planned for the 2022 DesignTO festival where I was going to speak about my installation that got canceled because of the pandemic restrictions. It was set to be on January 29 and since it didn't happen, I want to share what I would’ve talked about.

This is something I started making during my last year in school (2018-2019) and while I was at the Coffin Factory studios in its final months before closing down. I didn’t feel ready to publicly share it at the time and now I understand that it’s because it wasn’t fully realized then. I was depressed at how long I was taking to finish this project, along with my insecurities and anxieties. But eventually, I just let myself do it slowly at my own pace which made me create more intuitively and intentionally — this made me feel content with how it developed. What started as a simple design and concept turned out to be so much more than just bags for me, the creative process was a learning experience itself that taught me so much and I hope it translates through with each bag and the installation.

I’ve always been interested in reusing / repurposing and have often worked with secondhand clothing / textiles (from the customized denim clothing I used to make and sell when I was in high school to the coffin cover I designed for this piece exhibited at Nuit Blanche), so I already knew I wanted to recreate this style of bag with discarded textiles. My main motive for designing them is still the same, which is to raise more awareness — I was mostly focused on the disposability of plastic bags at first, but then I later realized the many similarities with plastics and clothing. I saw it from other angles and made these connections to larger issues, this helped my project evolve and continues to influence my work as an artist / designer. I eventually finished making all of the bags during the 2020 lockdown.

I was originally inspired to recreate the classic plastic bag to reference the plastic crisis — calling attention to the disposable culture and how it’s such a polluting industry that’s contributing to climate change. But while the message offers a reminder to reuse bags and to reflect on our relationship with plastic, it’s more than just about these bags. With the parallels between plastics and clothing, the bag also represents our compulsive shopping habits and overconsumption. It’s meant to emphasize reusing what we already have in general, whether it’s a bag or a dress — to prompt a culture of repair and reuse when it comes to our wardrobe. On another note, these plastic bags are actually referred to as “T-shirt” bags so it's comparable to those freebie T-shirts that are basically single use too.

The disposability of clothing is akin to plastics now, since consumerism promotes the desire for new clothes and the acceleration of production results in an abundance of clothing that end up in landfills. From the way it’s produced to the way it’s disposed of, the plastic and fashion industry are very similar — they both have a connection to big oil / fossil fuels which contribute to our waste culture and are major polluting industries that capitalize off of exploiting people while destroying the earth.

Check out the references and resources linked on the project page to learn more, but also from about where most of our clothing ends up and what happens.

︎ I originally made 27 bags in total, but only 15 were able to fit on the window for the installation. There is only one of each that was exhibited and photographed, so every bag is unique and none are exactly the same (there’s just multiple colour ways).

︎ The discarded white and black fabric I used were random lengths, so I was only able to make a limited amount of bags. I designed the bag patterns to be zero waste which were specific to each fabric — the extra cuttings were purposefully used to create the inside pocket where the bag can be folded into itself to be a portable pouch.