Access Breach: Interweaving Poetic Futures & Intersectional Dreams with Rebirth Garments, CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile), and Eaton HK
3/6, 7/2 2021
Eaton HK, Hong Kong, SAR, People’s Republic of China
The introduction session hosted over 50 participants in total (23 on-site, 29 via zoom). During the planning of the event, Rebirth Garments, Taeyoon Studios, CHAT team, and Eaton Team had several meetings talking about not only the logistical details, but what that means for queer disabled people, and how we must properly hold space for things to be accessible logistically and emotionally. In the introduction session, Chantal from the Eaton team mentioned how she desires to revolutionize hospitality, redefining what that means. This really resonated with the ethos of the event, where we want to radically envision and embody a way of space making that centers disabled, queer, trans, BIPOC, and otherwise marginalized bodies.
From choosing the casting director, the photographer, venue, planning out the schedule, all the details and moving parts, there was a lot of intention behind each decision. With the venue choice, we wished to pay homage to ballroom culture that was started by Black and Brown disabled, sex working, low-income trans women from New York city that started Pride as an uprising at Stonewall Inn, notably Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, thus having it in the ballroom space. The ballroom space was also perfect because of how spacious and accessible it is for wheelchair users. The casting director Anne Marie Ilunga, recommended by Chantal, is a Congolese refugee who is a professional model and founder of Harmony HK. Harmony HK is a refugee-curated social enterprise which aims to promote and encourage diversity and inclusion through art and fashion. The model call form was based off of Sky’s previous model call form, that specifically asks for the access needs of each model. Sky also mentioned that they will create masks with clear windows and different attachment styles made for each model for accessibility purposes and COVID-19. Chantal and Taeyoon also noted how we must make sure that everybody feels enriched throughout the process, even if they are not chosen, which is why we felt the need to invite anyone who has filled out the form to the show so that we may celebrate together. For choosing the photographer, Suhyun spoke about the importance of having someone who is experienced with working with dark skinned, disabled, fat, femme, queer and trans people, and that they know how to make people feel safe and sexy when they’re being documented. Taeyoon also mentioned how Sky’s previous shows moved in ‘crip time‘, where the schedule of the event moves at the pace of everybody involved, and no one gets left behind. Since our audience was mostly in Hong Kong, we needed the support of CHAT and Eaton team to localize these efforts by the process of translation, which includes an understanding of the different cultural and historical nuances. This is the first time Rebirth Garments is having a fashion show in Asia, so it’s been exciting and challenging to contextualize Sky Cubacub’s work for local Hong Kong queer and disabled people.
Taeyoon Choi, the Artistic Director, spoke about how moved he was after seeing Rebirth Garment’s show at NYU Center for Disability Studies, experiencing an environment that’s welcoming for everyone. He believes Rebirth’s approach to radically adaptive and inclusiveness of all bodies is the future of textiles: Sky’s approach of customization, celebrating the individual needs of a person’s body and beauty. This modeling of celebrating disabled, queer, BIPOC bodies was an inspiration in envisioning Taeyoon’s exhibition for CHAT, Interweaving Poetic Code.
Taeyoon Studios’ producer, Suhyun Choi, was able to invite their younger sister to participate in this session through zoom, as they wished to expose her to queer disabled Asian brilliance from a young age. Throughout this event including its conception, we were inspired and attempted to practice Sky’s model of care that is informed by Disability Justice activism in the U.S. Care is different from Cure (which is modeled by the medical industrial complex). The medical industrial complex goes against life, love, interdependence, and makes these things impossible to exist. In contrast, Care is an ecosystem of support created through loving communication, contemplation, understanding, action, and accountability. This modeling of care is not limited to a political understanding, but rather, has been a tool whether it is named or not for the affirmation and celebration of life.
Suhyun invited everyone to call upon ourselves, our loved ones, ones who came before us that paved the way not only for survival but for life to be affirmed, and remember the moments where we felt the most seen, most loved, most cared for. The moments where we witnessed this in action or as truths that people have shared, that gave us the desire and strength to exponentially expand our love. The moments that helped us break free from the isolation and myth of independence, that called upon the legacies of resilience of life. They asked: What created the conditions for that love and care to be possible? How can we nourish that in ourselves and each other? Our hope was that we can invoke and model this for each other throughout this session and beyond, and be accountable to each other. Our everyday interactions and practices of care is what builds the way for a caring world.
Sky Cubacub (founder of Rebirth Garments) asked participants what their dream fit was. They spoke about how important it is for models to feel safe and enjoy themselves, so they are able to dance however they want to, not look at the audience, be as silly, goofy, sexy, cute as they want, and not do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Sky also spoke about how if you feel uncomfortable, you can give someone a look so that they can come dance with you. The quality of this gaze is meant for reassurance, where visibility is informed by safety, love, care, and a feeling of connectedness to community, in contrast to the gaze of surveillance and policing modeled by the state.
Sky also talks about Radical Visibility which is articulated through their zine as well as collective. It is a Queer Crip dress reform movement that is about, “feeling confident in one’s outward appearance [to] revolutionize one’s emotional and political reality.” Rebirth Garments and the Radical Visibility Zine is “to nurture a community of people who have often been excluded from mainstream fashion and provide a platform for people to confidently express pride in the intersections of their identities.”
We hope to embody this sense of visibility and act of seeing each other, to hold, to love, to care for, to nourish, to queer, to understand, and to envision and embody ways of existing and being together that is joyful, expansive, and radical. Please make sure to fill out this form on or before 25 March 2021, 11:59pm to join as a model or come through to our fashion extravaganza celebration on July 2nd 💕
CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile)
Bruce Li, Eugenia Law, Carmen Cheung
Mizuki Takahashi, Antony Chan, Paola Sinisterra
Anne Marie Ilunga
Date: 6 March 2021 Saturday
Time: 11:00am-12:30pm HKT
Venue: Kino 1/F Eaton House, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan, Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese and English
Access Breach: Interweaving Poetic Futures & Intersectional Dreams
Party at Maggie, 2/F Eaton HK (380 Nathan Road, Jordan, Hong Kong)
Date: 2 July 2021
Application deadline as party models: 25 March 2021, 11:59pm