Contemporary Design

I AM WEARING . (2021)

to wear (verb)
by Ena Naito
a person dressed in tin foil with black background


What does it mean to ‘wear’ something? Do garments (and bodies) have to be tangible? Aren’t we ‘wearing’ devastating amounts of water, carbon emissions, and labour that have gone into producing the garments? And at a more metaphorical level, is it possible to ‘wear’ noise; to ‘wear’ silence? When you inhale, are you wearing air from the inside? And when you exhale, is your breath that is lingering in the air still a part of you?   

This experimental project explores how the escape from confines of matter can encourage different ways of relating to fashion objects and understanding fashion as a complex discourse.  

Specifically re-designed for Helsinki Design Week, the concepts were remoulded to encompass the exhibition space.  

As the visitors enter the venue, they are encouraged to randomly take a sticker, which is printed with various phrases beginning with, ‘I AM WEARING’.  

But there is a catch: if you decide to take a sticker, you must stick it onto your clothing.  

The work is personalised as each visitor who decides to take a sticker becomes an integral performer of the work, yet it is designed to simultaneously create a sense of collective consciousness when a visitor/performer sees other ‘performers’ with similar stickers. The work thus becomes a subconscious collective performance, expanding beyond the exhibition as the visitors scatter throughout the exhibition and other venues.  

I would like to co-create the work with the visitors, so that the shocking facts (and sometimes the more metaphorical ones) become something more intimate - something that each of the visitors own for themselves and reflect upon. 

an abstract photo of a person tangled in fabrics
a person holding a glass of milk on their shoulder
milk being poured on a person with text
milk being poured in a glass with text on a side


On that day, there was sixty centimetres of snow. It was before dawn and fresh darkness filled the air. All the light in the world seemed to be sucked into a vacuum of infinite obscurity.  

Five-thirty-six AM; I went outside, in shorts and barefooted as the overwhelming coldness welcomtd me with slices of cold breaths.  

Slowly sinking my raw flesh into the snow, I felt the particles slide under my foot, resisting the heat, this abject substance.   

Pure coldness rushed through me; then the sharp frosty pain, 

and then  

Total numbness.  

At this point, my foot wasn’t a part of me anymore. It became a ‘thing’, somehow attached to my body – like a piece of dangling clothing.  

Was I ‘wearing’ my foot? Did I manage to ‘wear’ the sensation of coldness?  

Through bodily performances, experimental sound recordings, creative text, interviews and research, my processes explored ways in which to expand the concept of ‘wearing’. How can we break away from the material boundaries of garments?  

snow on an arm
dark photo with a hand waving a fabric
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