Alicia Framis: Anti_dog
Nit de l'Art 2012
For the first time in the Balearic Islands Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma and El Corte Inglés present the performance Anti_dog (Palma de Mallorca, 2012) by the Spanish artist Alicia Framis, on the occasion of the Nit de l’Art (‘Night of Art’, 20th September 2012). This work, which forms part of the reserves of Es Baluard’s permanent collection through three photographs illustrating previous performances in different European cities, will take place in the outdoor spaces of El Corte Inglés, the co-organiser of this artistic act.
“Immigrant women talk about these matters, but secretly because we feel ashamed to be an undesirable immigrant. On the other hand we are immensely grateful to have the opportunity to develop ourselves in the other country. Where we live is not our soil by nature, but here we feel more connected to our dreams than in the country we left one day. I feel shame to denounce physical and mental attacks from people that I embrace as inhabitants of my land of dreams and possibilities, but at the same time it is a reality that is there in the shades of our politeness” (Alicia Framis).
The brand called Anti_dog was created by Alicia Framis as a result of an experience the artist had whilst living in Berlin in 2002. The project began when the artist became aware of violent racist and gender-based attacks that were taking place in the Marzham district, where a dark-skinned woman could not walk down the street alone without being assaulted by skinheads with large dogs who controlled the streets. After investigating, she and her team discovered the existence of a revolutionary fabric in the world of personal protection called Twaron, which is fireproof, five times more resistant and lighter than steel, and used for defending against firearm and knife attacks. Combined with its physical properties, in itself the fabric offered Alicia Framis attractive possibilities for manufacturing garments thanks to its intense shiny gold colour.
In the performance discipline, Alicia Framis found a way of making an intense, direct reflection on the situation of the woman as a being, by denouncing the violence that affects women in specific contexts, obviating any kind of universal demand. Time and space, along with the artist’s “action” and the presence of the public, are the pillars of the performance, and in Anti_dog they are materialized in non-movement, the immobility connected to reflection, and in the conception of space based on the endowment of a sense of dynamic flow and not of closed structure on the group, achieving this by the positioning of the participants with an assigned distance between them.
Anti_dog presents a group of 10 women who wear clothes designed or inspired by patterns by famous designers like Jean-Paul Gaultier, Chanel, Dior, Hussein Chalayan, Jesús del Pozo and David Delfín, turning them into sculptures with a certain sense of unity. Under no circumstances does Alicia Framis seek homogeneity, because this is a synonym of cowardice, which is why each garment preserves its personality and integrity which is in turn reflected in the person who wears it. She sees fashion as a way for women to show their personality, becoming an excellent tool for demonstrating their desire to be treated like human beings.
By no means is this performance designed as a radical act, but rather a parenthesis which enables us to think calmly about our existence and our daily struggle with others. The goal is to break down invisible barriers, and this goal is much more difficult than others that have been pursued by women throughout history. Freed from certain burdens, they still bear some of the stigmas that come from the masculine model, such as the inability to enjoy sexuality, stress derived from work, etc. Anti_dog treats violence as an expression of masculine weakness, emotional repression, a means of solving solitude or of avoiding being abandoned. In today’s society, the power man has over woman must be compiled differently.
In most cases the Anti_dog performance has been presented in public spaces, a necessary aspect for the indispensable presence and interaction of the public. It has been presented in different European cities and in each of them the artist has formulated a different discourse, always focussed on women and the violence they are exposed to: in 2002 it was performed in the Palais de Tokyo, coinciding with the Paris Fashion Week, based on a catwalk with 8 coloured models standing statically, in a clear challenge to the function of the catwalk. That same year, in Amsterdam, the performance took place with the participation of a group of girls, the daughters of immigrants, dressed in the bulletproof, bite proof and fireproof suits, who were positioned in the entrance of the Ajax football stadium and met, as a response, with indifference, seen as a secret weapon of violence. In Madrid (2003) it focussed on domestic violence, in a year that had proved particularly hard in this regard; women with messages wandered around the centre of Madrid towards the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Birmingham (2003) was also a venue for the performance, this time comprised of students who were asked to speak to women who had had a difficult life; the result was expressed on the dresses through “cursed phrases” which the women did not want to hear ever again, reproduced with a copyright that restricted their use.
The development of the work is reflected through the ten creations that form part of the performance held in Palma de Mallorca.