We are Together, We are Art, featuring Kledia Spiro, 2017, solo performance and installation, The Washing Machine ISN'T Good Enough, Java Studios, Brooklyn, NY
Clothes. They are an important part of people's perceptions of who we are as individuals, and particularly what their roles in society may be.
Brand names for clothing, shoes and accessories are a significant part of our daily choices. Not just because of their superior quality but because of their NAME and their PRICE TAG. Brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Versace, Fendi, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and more are recognized everywhere, for their style, but most importantly for being expensive.
Affording these clothes is one thing but washing them is a whole other hurdle. Now you may think that most people who can afford these clothes from these brand names can of course also afford cleaning them appropriately, which usually involves a dry cleaner or at the very least a washing machine and a dryer. However, that is not always the case. In many countries, especially socio-economically disadvantaged countries, people will save up their monthly pay check to purchase just a single article of clothing. Yet, they do not have the proper means of washing them and they often even lack reliable access to water. In fact, many people from low SES countries think it's better to hand-wash all of the clothes so as not to ruin the precious clothing material. Women in particular will spend many hours hunched over of a bathtub or a sink washing these clothes. Often, these women have to go out, to find additional water, only to carry buckets of water up and down the stairs to make sure that their families' Polo shirts are washed just right.
Growing up, I saw this in my own country and my own family. Yet, what has surprised me the most is the need to continue hand-washing clothes even in the US, where resources are plentiful. Is the washing machine Just Not Good Enough for these precious brands?