перформанс // performance, 2011
A performance-mystification in which the young representatives of creative class and working migrants perform a utopian fantasy of the artist. In order to reveal the fictional character of the play the participants are paid 500 rubles each at the end.
Recently, a new trend has emerged in St. Petersburg. In the morning, young men wearing the latest fashions, mostly natives of the town, members of the creative professions, meet with migrant workers at secret locations. They swap clothes with each other and then part ways, each going about his own business. Every day, their ranks are growing.
Initially, this idea arose in response to the threat of nationalist attacks, flagrant racism and the corruption of police officers who check documents ten times a day to extort bribes from migrants, who are often poorly informed of their rights. The young men dress in each other’s clothes in order to scramble the visual codes that make it easy to tell “Russians” from “non-Russians,” “locals” from “newcomers,” and “workers” from “intellectuals.”
By dressing in worker’s clothes, the members of what is now customarily called the creative class reject the enunciation of their identity through consumption and declare their intention to produce a culture without class and racial divisions, thus overcoming the opposition between creative and physical labor.
This is something like a tacit conspiracy among migrant workers and designers, artists, and ad agency employees — the people who produce visual culture (fashion, brands, labels — the window dressing of our reality) — against this system of organizing the environment. Those who produce design — this powerful tool for labeling and dividing — who devise the shape of buildings, objects, and clothes, have decided to steal it and use it in common with those engaged in the material realization of all these projects.
These clothes swaps began in one district of Petersburg, but they have quickly spread throughout the city. If there is no such group in your neighborhood yet, no one is stopping from you from organizing one yourself.
Translated by Thomas Campbell