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What's In Your Closet?

Description of campaign/project

THE IDEA: The "What's In Your Closet?" concept is a fun and fully interactive way for participants to engage in a critical examination of the fashion industry in relation to others' as well as their own body image. The working hypothesis behind this project involves the idea that the fashion industry is actively engaged (through advertising media including film, photography, fashion-based events, etc.) in developing and promoting its consumers' poor body image such that a consumer's self-confidence becomes dependent upon the very apparatus that causes it harm.

HOW IT WORKS: As part of this process-based, interactive piece, participants were encouraged to contribute their own clothing items to the initial pool of the artist's own rejected clothing, along with a “reason for rejection,” which was attached to the clothing item with a clothes pin and displayed with the other items (see accompanying media). Conversely, participants were also encouraged to take items home with them – free of charge – and leave a “reason for appropriation.”

THE RESULT: Participants exhibited a wide variety of attitudes toward the extent to which we as individuals allow the fashion industry to dictate how we feel about our bodies. The clothes remaining in my possession at the end of the event were donated to Kindred House – a safe house and resource centre for women and transgendered individuals who are involved in street prostitution.

It was very important to me to make this project available to be experienced by anyone and everyone; part of accomplishing that aim was to 1) be gender- and race-inclusive, and 2) integrate a commerce-free trade- and gift-based economy into the core concept.

My approach is interactive and socio-economically non-discriminatory.

I believe that, in addition to encouraging dialogue about gender and body image, this project has the potential to bring this conversation to low-income neighbourhoods and communities challenged not only by economic limitations, but also by a gender-based social issues such as homophobia and domestic violence. By encouraging individuals to love and respect their body in a commerce-free environment, I hope this project will effectively bring these issues "out of the closet."

I learned that there are two primary ways that an individual interacts with their clothing: 1) garments are given agency and right of commentary over the wearer (ex; "This makes me feel fat"), and 2) garments are seen as tools in the service of the wearer (ex; "Bust is too revealing"). In other words, I observed tension between the idea that one wears clothes and that clothes wear an individual. Hearing participants interact with the project and each other, I found that the former - and more body-positive - idea tended to increasingly prevail as the event progressed.

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

This project is a chic ensemble of body and gender politics on both personal and social levels. The artist has formed an engaged expression of her ideas and simultaneously facilitated a positive interactive experience for the participants. Additionally, there is a degree of follow through (both practical and conceptual) articulated through her donation of leftover materials to a local community organization working on similar issues.

It seems as though the project has had a successful dress-rehearsal and is now ready for the runway. The documentation provided in the submission is successful in illustrating the scope of the work, but it does little to excite the eye. Would incorporating other aesthetic strategies of documentation better communicate this work? I am not always a fan of Adbusters-esque tactics, but are there existing fashion/advertising formulas that could be effectively appropriated here to better reach a larger audience beyond the initial participants?

Based on the provided documentation, it is difficult to get an accurate sense of scale. Certainly, not all work needs to be experienced by huge numbers of people in order to be meaningful or effective; however, I wonder if there's room to consider increasing the scale and visibility of this work. It seems that the first audience would have been largely sympathetic to the aims of this work. How would it be received in a broader context such as at a shopping center? a high school? a flea market? a fashion show? This work strikes me as challenging, in a positive, interactive way that could be easily adapted with a bit of hard work and conviction.

View other works commented by Aaron Gach  ››

The *perfectly basic* idea behind ‘What’s in Your Closet’ is what I found most interesting about this meaningful art project. It's form, shape and eventual effect rely entirely on the participants involved. This art piece has the ability to generate and reveal an abundance of highly-compelling sub-ideas and issues (corporate influence/power, materialism, self-identity, money, feminism, community, gender… just to name a few) in its own participants – almost like a mirror. The shape of the performance(?) is defined by the group as a whole: each individual having brought certain articles of clothing with entire backstories (both corporate and personal) behind what/why were chosen to be happily ejected from the owner's life.

Another interesting aspect to this work is how the piece is affected by a number of self-changing variables of the individuals involved in the group - such as where the event happens in the world, who/what type of people (young/old + men/women + gay/straight + socio-economic situations) and the conversations that are sparked and shared by these important differences. For participants, who engage with the piece in person/live, it is easy to imagine that being there must be unexpectedly empowering, possibly even life-changing. What seems, at first, like a ‘clothing swap’ likely evolves into an intimate and self-powering community - one that can reveal the silliness of what we are all doing to ourselves (by giving clothes power over our bodies and allowing corporations to shape our feelings of self-worth.
Audiences who view the documentation afterwards can also benefit and identify with these universal feelings. Their are overlapping voyeuristic aspects for non-participating viewers of 'What's in your Closet' that are similar to how the 'Post-Secret Project'http://www.postsecret.com/ somehow makes humans feel more 'human' and individuals not feel so alone. This is the power of good art!

This project/performance is very futile. It could be an app, it could be a website and/exchange all over the world. It might also be interesting to consider documenting the unique paths of *those* individual clothes and *those* individual people in an entirely new and secondary art project. Where did the person first see the item (in an ad? on TV? on a friend? on a stranger? etc) -> then: when they acquired it, how did buying it initially make them feel, what were their impulse expectations or associations -> then: how did feelings change once they had the item on -> why did they no longer want to wear it and what had the item become to them (an enemy? a sad thing? a reminder of something? a trigger? etc). These are the quick, pseudo-sad conversations most of us have ALONE regularly and typically when in a hurry - almost as if they are 'disposable' and reoccurring mini-problems, that we rarely take the time to truly inspect or understand. We just 'avoid' those items and/or that part of the closet and gravitate toward anything that doesn't make us feel like shit! The power of ‘What’s in Your Closet’ is that, when in a group - individuals are given the opportunity and forum to truly look at what is going on with this internalized and negative cycle of thought and liberate themselves from it, hopefully forever.

View other works commented by Katie Bush  ››

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Curators comments

This work has been commented by 2 curator(s):
Aaron Gach Katie Bush go to comments ›

Entry details


What's In Your Closet?



Concept author(s)

Juniper Quin

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

Juniper Quin developed the concept for, built, and implemented this project.



Competition category


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

My work ranges from the ephemeral, time-based, untouchable, and very delicate to interactive projects (such as the one featured in this submission), to sculptural public art.