Book Launch – Project Presentation
"Often the entire structure of human culture is likened to a textile, interwoven threads that together create the “fabric of society.” Fabric can be strong and resilient, but if one pulls just the right thread, it can come undone with surprising speed. With the fashion industry unraveling at its foundations, now is the right moment to look back at the history of textiles as women’s work and an enduring form of communication and rebellion. Fashion is often trivialized as frivolous or non-consequential, yet in actuality it is a powerful social, political and economic force. Our clothes can make a statement about our beliefs and vision for the future. We can build a new relationship to textiles, one that reaffirms their value and ends complicity in a toxic and destructive fashion industry. We can choose to participate in propagating the systemic racism, environmental catastrophe, and social oppression that are intrinsically part of most clothes we wear. Or we can confront the problem and demand more sustainable and fair practices, just as generations of bold and determined people have advocated for change, in part through their clothing."
House of reFashion and Victoria Square Project are pleased to invite you on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, to the book launch of “#ProjectSemedaki”, a collaborative publication of an edited volume documenting the community-based fashion initiative #projectsemedaki.
Social practice artist, Maria Juliana Byck, reimagined the ubiquitous, but now devalued Greek traditional handmade textiles—the semedakia—as a symbol of the labor, creativity, technical skill, and innovation shared between generations of women over thousands of years. Produced by hand, each semedaki is intimate, unique, imbued with time, patience and dedication - a poignant and tangible antithesis to today's mass produced disposable fashion. Working within the Victoria Square neighborhood for nine months, sharing creative reuse skills and hosting clothing swaps, Byck’s project presents a simple antidote to consumption culture. Made from unwanted used clothing intercepted on their way to the landfill and revived with handcrafted textiles, the 100% recycled designs are bold, playful and ecologically conscious. The clothing provides an alternative fashion future– one that advocates for a refusal to participate in the fast fashion system, namely the toxic and wasteful practices of the global textile industry, which devalues both the maker and the wearer, while also destroying the environment.
The book investigates the embedded social, cultural and emotional implications of textiles. Holding a wealth of intergenerational wisdom, textiles contain a complex history of interconnected economies, social control, rebellion and undulating desires, tracing stories of movement, suppression, dreams and exchange. Compositions of fabric and thread have traveled throughout the globe, connecting cities, cultural practices, and people through rituals, beliefs and traditions, in an ongoing dialogue of techniques and materials. While more ephemeral, textiles materials disappear over time and thus are often erased from the dynamics of history. Although once considered more valuable than gold, the importance of woven fibers in cultural heritage is often overlooked. Moreover, the informal rituals of production, sharing and gathering in domestic and neighborhood settings, remain unclassified and forgotten.
Textiles are a means of understanding the politicization, commodification and globalization of our lives. Carried on our bodies and residing in our home, while intimate, personal and every day, textiles are simultaneously intrinsically public and communal. Infused with nostalgia and regional significance, they provide an apt metaphor for exploring the social fabric of our lives.
#projectsemedaki is about refashioning, reusing and rethinking how we approach clothing and being together as a community. Therefore, the book is a reimagining of the fashion industry standard: the lookbook. House of reFashion designs are presented in 28 vibrant fashion spreads featuring models in surreal semedakia landscapes. #projectsemedaki presents texts about the social and political history of fashion and craft by artists, scholars and cultural commentators, all inspiring us to rethink our relationship to clothing and textiles.
Edited by Maria Juliana Byck and George Kalivis, they also designed the book together and contributed texts. Anna Bonarou, Efie Falida, Anna Fardi and Emmeline de Mooij of The Feminist Needlework Party wrote texts which touch on topics such as fashion and social change, fluctuating value and gendered dynamics in the history of textiles production, the dualism assumed between fine art (haute couture) and crafts, the queering of cultural heritage textiles, and the emotional, social and environmental impact of fast fashion and mass consumption in contemporary disposable clothing culture among others.
During the event Maria Juliana Byck and Victoria Square Project will be presenting the book along with fashion show videos and photos. You are invited to participate in a potluck so please bring with you food and drink to share.
The publication of “#ProjectSemedaki’ is the result of a partnership between Victoria Square Project (VSP) and House of reFashion.
Victoria Square Project
[ 13, Elpidos street, 10434, Athens ]
Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 18:30 - 20:30
FOREWORD MARIA PAPADIMITRIOU
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FASHION Desire and Rebellion
Maria Juliana Byck
ALL SEMEDAKIA LEAD TO THE OTHER
Embodied Textile Memories and Queer Public Interventions
FROM THE NOMADS OF SARAKATSANI TO “SEMEDAKI” FASHION
Knitting Collective Utopias in Modern Athens
WOOL SPINNING WITCHES
Disciplining the Body, Soothing Needlework and Reproductive Labor
Emmeline de Mooij
SEMEDAKI IS BOTH FEMININE AND SEXY
WEAVING AND THE STITCHES OF CONCENTRATED ATTENTION
Greek Handicrafts from Tradition to Modern Fashion, Art and Critical Thinking
Edited by Maria Juliana Byck, George Kalivis
Art direction and textile photography: Maria Juliana Byck
Design: George Kalivis
Collection photography: John Sachpazis
Published by Victoria Square Project
Project, Production and Communication Coordination: Victoria Square Project
House of reFashion is a re-constructivist fashion project working with a zero waste ethos to transform clothing waste into unique wearable designs. This creative reuse initiative creates 100% recycled clothing. The goal is to raise awareness of the environmental and social issues related to the over-consumption of low quality clothing, to inspire more sustainable fashion choices, and to showcase traditional craft in a new dimension. House of reFashion demonstrates the possibility of a circular economy in which nothing is disposed of but rather everything is designed for re-use in new forms.
Victoria Square Project is a contemporary art space, a community meeting point that fosters the dialogue around identity, coexistence, integration and co-creation.
VSP’s Major Donor is Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). The curatorial program of VSP is implemented in collaboration with Allianz Kulturstiftung.