Image: Gunjan Aylawadi’s Love it.
The other day I saw the photo of my muse in the infamous (well in my lunchbox anyway) t-shirt that made Sting sexy. That t-shirt always makes me think about the words we splash in public, the declarations we want to make.
And I wonder is there a dichotomy or relationship between the author in print and the author of the story putting it out there. From Arthur Stace’s Eternity on a t-shirt to Dharma on the butt of your activewear, what meaning are they making in the wearing?
a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities <the dichotomy between theory and practice>; also : the process or practice of making such a division <dichotomy of the population into two opposed classes>
And the withholding of meaning, that can be a story in itself…the projection of my mystery onto my sneakers or the apparent truth in my haircut. Then there’s the wholesale truths found via the tattoos drawn on your skin by kids or inked by artists. “I Love Mum”.
If you take a look there are stories in the wearing as well as in what’s worn. I love that invitation to explore that space. And if we don’t know the real story about what is worn and why, it doesn’t matter. It’s just juice for the imagination. It’s catching the chameleon in the space between. It’s trading the telescope for tweezers.
It’s a bit like artist Gunjan Aylawadi’s artwork Love it. A few people have directed me to her artwork lately and I like what she says about this piece:
“When presented with new ideas or images, our first reaction is to say something – decide and declare how we feel about them, even before we fully untangle them in our minds.”
The viewer of this particular artwork gets a different experience from the near and close perspectives.
“This work, titled “love it.” is an attempt to encourage conversations beyond adjectives. The phrase has been embedded in the large paper mosaic work in a way that can only be seen when one steps away from it. On the other hand, detail of how the work is made is seen only when one comes really close – the work rewards close attention and slow minutes spent with it. This work is rich in visual energy that slows the eye down, encouraging the mind to linger and think about the work in front of it rather than instantly declare an adjective and swipe for next.”
Recently my cousin posted some photos on Facebook of some of our extended family. Both my parents came from large families and cousins abound which is so lovely. Fashion of course abounds too and it’s always funny to look back on what we were wearing. In this instance, in the 70s I was wearing a KISS t-shirt. It belonged to the boy next door and he had given it to me because I liked it. I cannot remember why…I had no idea who KISS were! What was in the wearing of that I now wonder?
Dichotomy has another meaning…the phase of the moon or an inferior planet in which half its disk appears illuminated.
What’s beyond the clothes worn? What can be lit when we look for the rest of the story and read it from different perspectives? It may be a dead end alley like my KISS t-shirt from the 70s which could well have been about hiding in darkness, or it may be that we see the illuminated, the very act of living and the making of creases in the sacredness of our own bone clothing.
All of our bodies bear script…be it my coloured toenails, sagging skin, voluptuous bits, or scars. The stories worn by our bodies, retold through muscle memory, unrelinquished sometimes even when we want it let go, and of course sometimes celebrated.
What judgements do we make when we haven’t seen the fine print? What are we prepared to reveal in the wearing? What are we prepared to behold in the reading?
It’s interesting to live in a suburb where many Asian people live. I’m never going to have a skinny, Asian body is a story that would like to take up residence, but in my mind, not on my body. In rejecting an un-serving tale the challenge is of course self-acceptance, radical kindness and the determination I keep scrabbling to regain to keep confounding the genetic lottery that afflicts me.
The story of wearing this life is not over yet…but these musings need to be so I can go and make some nutritious soup for said body that has not had an easy day. But of course I must finish these musings with a quote from Jeanette Winterson’s Written On The Body:
“Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights: the accumulations of a lifetime gather there. In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like Braille. I like to keep my body rolled up away from prying eyes, never unfold too much, or tell the whole story. I didn’t know that Louise would have reading hands. She has translated me into her own book.”
May we all find the right reader!