Visual activism is a process of promoting, directing, or announcing change through visual examples. Mirzoeff discusses how the ways in which we engage with issues have changed. (Mirzoeff 290). This is due to the progression of technology over time and how there are now more platforms where issues can be shared and spoken about visually. I have researched ways in which designers and artists have announced or informed audiences of the negative effects that the fashion industry is having on the factory workers in developing countries. Below are several examples that I feel are most informative and instructing.
Fig. 1. Fashion Revolution. The 2 Euro T-Shirt. 23 Apr 2015. Social Experiment. dailymack.com.
An organisation called, Fashion Revolution, conducted a social experiment titled, The 2 Euro T-Shirt. A vending machine selling white t-shirts was placed in the middle of a busy street. Before the public could complete their purchase they would be shown a short clip that showed the conditions in which the shirt was produced. After the short clip had finished, the public was asked whether or not they would like to continue their purchase or donate their 2 euros to charity. The idea behind this visual activism experiment was to see whether society would still buy an item of clothing after being confronted with the conditions in which the garment was made. Eight out of the ten participants donated their 2 euros to charity.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfANs2y_frk
Fig. 2. Fashion Revolution. Show Your Label. 2016. Photographs. Fashionrevolution.org.
Show Your Label, was an interactive campaign that used social media platforms to persuade the public to look into who made their clothes and where their clothes came from. The campaign run by Fashion Revolution, asked the public to post photographs on their personal social media accounts of themselves wearing a garment turned inside out so that the clothing label was visible. The decision to promote this campaign over social media reflects on Mirzoeffs quote, ‘’the ways in which we engage with issues have changed’’. (Mirzoeff 290). This change is due to the progression of technology and the range of social media sites. By promoting the campaign over social media it has meant that a larger audience has been exposed to the campaign and the effects that fashion industry has on the factory workers, compared to if the campaign was to be conducted primarily on the Fashion Revolution website. This campaign is an example of visual activism as photographs have been used as an action to persuade others to look into who made their clothing.
Fig. 3. Space Between. Fashion Revolution/Space Between Pre-launch. 2015. Photograph. Space between.ac.nz.
In collaboration with Fashion Revolution, a group called Space Between conducted a flashmob. The flashmob was conducted to, ‘’demonstrate the low regard for clothing in contemporary society and the harmful effects of the fashion/textile industry’’. To demonstrate this idea a group of 30 participants walked around an area along Lambton Quay whilst stripping off layers of clothing. The action of removing layers also links with fast fashion and the speed at which society is buying cheap clothing and disregarding old, ‘’un-fashionable’’ clothing. This flashmob is an example of visual activism. The flashmob illustrated societies current actions towards fashion which would have made the target audience (shoppers) reflect on their purchases or future purchases.
“Fashion Revolution”. Fashionrevolution.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 May 2016.
“Fashion Revolution/Space Between Pre-Launch”. Space Between. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 May 2016.
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to See the World. Great Britain: Penguin, 2015. Print.
‘’The 2 Euro T-Shirt – A Social Experiment’’. Online Video. Fashion Revolution. Youtube. 23 Apr 2015. Web. 29 May 2016.