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Reflections of the Floraissance; Futures of Fashion and Art

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Defined as a new era of art and art culture by artist Andre Feliciano in 1984, floraissance rings of eclectic undertones: the renaissance, flowers, and electricity.[i]

Floraissance is defined as the shift from a contemporary art culture rooted in pop culture post-modernism, to a new domain in which art is impacted by our battle with climate change in the age of the Anthropocene, globalization shapes culture, and where activism transcends generations--essentially, today’s turning points, that both Millennials and Gen X’ers are quite familiar with. Under Feliciano’s definition, we no longer consider contemporary art an adjective, and instead remember it as an era of the past, entering now into what is the Floraissance.

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The Floraissance era considers art its own culture, rather than a concept. This transformation takes place as artists growing up in the Anthropocene have an inherently different relationship to the world that those before them. While the Holocene is used to describe our current geological time period, the Anthropocene is used to define the transition into human existence having an immense influence on our world and environments. Mirroring perhaps, this same transition of contemporary to florissance. Both detrimental and progressive impacts on the environment are becoming inherently embedded to the work that we create. When it is nature that has nurtured us, artists growing up in the Anthropocene are overtly exposed to the ways in which we both destroy and seek to save our environment. 

The Floraissance argues that the transition from the Holocene to the Anthropocene not only makes itself integral in our artwork, but also allows us to transform art into collective cultures that transcend a piece or exhibit. This is especially visible in the use of art as activism – something now more familiar in our global world than ever before. The Center for Artistic Activism defines Artistic Activism as “a practice aimed at generating Æffect: emotionally resonant experiences that lead to measurable shifts in power.”[ii] In recognizing the ways in which emotional experiences progress physical or societal changes we can look at the 1.4 Million young individuals who took part in the school strikes for climate action in March of 2019[iii]. These activists; demonstrate a new generation stepping forward with protest, voices, creativity, and collectivity. The Center for Artistic Activism promotes the use of artistic inclination to create a culture of creativity, accessibility, and new innovative solutions to long lived problems stating “Art gives us the vision. Activism helps us make the road to get there.”[iv]

With the fashion world being the world’s second largest polluter globally[v], the next generation of artists and designers must overcome the imminent problem of mass waste by producing a frontier of sustainable mass practices. The market is now abundant with products like designer shoes made from recycled plastics, sustainability grown organic cotton tees, and ethically produced luxury handbags. While this is happening, it does not solve the fact that millions of tons of waste are produced by the fashion industry every year, and most mass retailers still do not practice fair labor[vi]. There remains continued work to be done on the global commitment to exclusively sustainable, ethical, and accessible consumer products. 

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The fashion world and consumers are beginning to realize its impact on local ecosystem quality, freshwater consumption, and carbon emissions, starting a sustainable revolution.  The 1990s marked the start of a sustainable revolution. In a New York Times essay from 1990, the author noted that saving the planet was “very much in Vogue”[vi]. During this time, designers weaved ‘ecological themes’ like natural materials, the outdoors, and earth tones into magazine covers and runways.  Ready to wear brands began promoting ''clothes with conscience'', slogan tee’s with environmental messaging, along with other commitments to greening their production process along with a higher price tagvii. These visual discussion about responsible consumption and sustainable garments in the 90s launched an outcry of consumer-based activism and awareness in the years following. 

In photographic exploration, I set out with a team of creative to explore the consumer fashion industry in intersection with the Floraissance, with a series entitled “Reflections of the Floraissance.” This series seeks to mention the ways in which the natural world grows throughout our seemingly structured and ritualistic art experiences like photography and fashion. 

Our photographic piece seeks to draw attention to these criticalities, and demands the acknowledgement of the natural world as part of our skin, our clothes, our bodies, and our culture.  We are demanding these things to state that we are a generation of new growth, renaissance, and change. The photographic artifact is but a reflection of the collectivity and acceptance of a new art culture that curated the final result. The effect was not only the imagery but the experience of young artists, wardrobe curators, makeup illustrators, hair stylists, and photographers all brought together by a passion for making. When sitting together in a sunlight studio sweating through an adventure of colorful visuals, it was clear--we feel most alive when we are creating in collectivity. While delicately weaving florals into a model’s hair, hair stylist Nyree Murray said mid-discussion “Anything can be church. This is like church, a gathering to create something we love together.” Murray’s statement reflects what a changing art era gives us the opportunity to do: acknowledge our presence in the spaces we inhabit, connect through collaboration, unravel tribulations with vulnerability, and to grow ourselves and each other.  

Written by Mackenzie King
Edited by Alana Valko

PHOTOGRAPHY & DIRECTION // Mackenzie King

COLOR & RETOUCHING // Mackenzie King

MODELS // Fan Banks & Eli

HAIR // Nyree Murray

MAKEUP // Jenna van der Merwe

STYLIST // Alana Valko

[i] www.Floraissance.org
[ii]https://c4aa.org/2018/04/why-artistic-activism/
[iii]https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/19/school-climate-strikes-more-than-
1-million-took-part-say-campaigners-greta-thunberg
[iv]https://c4aa.org/2018/04/why-artistic-activism/
[v] https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/old-environmental-impacts
[vi]https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/un-alliance-sustainable-fashion-addresses-damage-fast-fashion
[vii]https://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/25/us/the-green-movement-in-the-fashion-world.html



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