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“It is necessary for design to be questioned, calmly, rationally and liberally, to choose the best path and exalt the primordial elements of human existence”

(Ana Livni and Fernando Escuder, Slow Fashion manifesto, 2009)


Beyond textiles, or rather, before becoming a textile issue, Ana Livni y Fernando Escuder, fashion designers from the distinguished Uruguayan brand Moda Lenta, dialogue with the very concept of being from the fashion, what it means to dress and everything that includes the act of buying a dress. The fast-food world is the same as fast-fashion and corporate franchising; it is also the world of the global cheap and mass production empire, China. From high-end clothing brands to those targeting a broader market, they all share the same three words on their manufacturing labels, “Made in China”. Tons of boxes of all sorts of products unfold from the air and river ports of the eastern empire to all corners of the planet. And Uruguay is no exception, neither in its reception ritual, after which the boxes are distributed to their respective importers, it continues to grant them their new identity: the “local brand”. What do we buy, what is it made of, why is this price and not that, what job scale allocates such a sale value to such a thing? When one begins to reflect on the labor chains involved in the entire trajectory of a given product, one can obtain a rather complex idea about the social, economic and political structure that governs the world today. But the fact is that today we can buy a lot more for a lot less, and in the little time we have left to enjoy a new personal purchase, that movie doesn't even cross our minds. Who would think if hundreds of children thousands of miles away from here don't know what a school is because they spend 12 hours locked inside a gigantic and cold shed, cutting, dyeing, cooking? How is it possible that a product from China, designed in Brazil and imported by a North American company, costs me less than a piece of pure cloth? The finished product ready to wear costs less, or the same, than the local raw material, which still has to be designed, cut, fired. I buy a t-shirt of each color, they cost $200 each, when they get a hole, I throw them away. Use and disuse, such as paper, cardboard, foam, plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cups, cans and glass jars...



Slow Fashion if you think about it, faces this current and walks against it. Ana y Fernando creates so many winter coats, jackets, blazers, coats, scarves, scarves, vests, because in Uruguay there is a lot of wool, and not much more than that at the de  leveltextile production. Here is the starting point of Moda Lenta: what do we have to create in Uruguay, and what can we do with what we have? Here a few instances of the global labor chain are already eliminated, starting with imports and the immense costs that exports provide, not only economic but also also environmental. When working on a national product, the creators work on a cultural and geographical history, and in design, continually reflect on their own

identity. Continuing the course against the current, Ana and Fernando create and produce their own prints, many of which come from artistic processes as intimate and poetic as weaving a cassette tape necklace or throwing a set of sticks at random and screen printing their abstract results in different colors. They study from the recreation of sheep raw material in a particularly soft and fine felt to the final application of the textile design on each rigorously studied and executed garment in its conception, cut and sewing.

The art.

He never left them, on the contrary, he has accompanied them in their mutual love for dressing, por self-creation. For this reason we invite Ana and Fernando to think about a dialogue in the context of an art gallery, we remained open for them to propose a project in which they took all the necessary freedom. We challenge them with un carefree artistic project with the final product destined for the body, art by itself.

Taking advantage of the clear nights (not because of insomnia, but because they just had family!), this great duo reflects on the essence of their work and pours it into a

new support. They not only met the challenge, they exceeded it.

Anthropomorphic double.

The question of political-philosophical essence of the creative process of the duo could not leaving, on the contrary, became the conceptual starting point of the project.

So they thought, what it would be like to go into a cheap clothing store imported from China (or via India, Pakistan, Ecuador, Guatemala...), buy some outfits de pajamas, for example, and work on that "raw material"? In the end, they cost the same than a piece of cloth, so why not work with something that never interested you as fashion design, but in the context of a contemporary art exhibition, could I shoot you some ideas? Going to meet a dissimilar, distant reality y antagonistic to the reality carefully constructed by them, but that in this context, you can invite her for a dialogue. It was what they did. And now, what to do with these synthetic pajamas? Play with them, use them as a painter uses sketch paper, as a sculptor uses clay, bend, turn, stretch, twist, fill; What do these poor sets of patterns made without any design project in mind want to be, just under the idea of dressing the medium-sized body in the broadest and most general way possible, with the sole objective of doing business, making money? They are of a golden-yellowish color, of equally uncertain fabric that seems to imitate silk, some dare with some print, but they would not bring anything minimally bold or original; They are basic garments with a regular cut and quick sewing, often crooked. They understand the body as a homogeneous set of legs, arms and a neck. Paradoxically, the textile composition label of each garment betrays the synthetic mixture, a kind of plastic-derived ingredients that arise as mutations, and depending on the instance that gave rise to them, they are interesting or, in cases like these, rather harsh, of little elasticity and porosity, fabrics that do not breathe. Based on these circumstances, Livni-Escuder made a set of anthropomorphic-looking objects that interconnect and change shape continuously. Like the chickens in industrial hatcheries that are born, grow, and die inside the same cage filled with so many other similar ones, these humanoid objects have no head, some have three arms, others four amputated legs; they maintain the allusion to the human body because they were pajamas; but if we leave that gaze, we can recognize forms reminiscent of sculptures by Picasso, Arp, Miró. Playful figures that invite interaction, others to rest as large cushions for the floor, bed or armchair. The interventionists test their prints, inks and screen printing process against these products, superimposing layers of drawings and colors, establishing for the first time, a dialogue with the massive phenomenon of fast fashion.

A (more than) textile dialogue from two disparate realities builds in the unpredictable meeting place a new design, a new idea, and more than anything, an important reflection. “We want to extol sustainable production, the cycle of the product, which evolves with the earth, on the circuit of its orbit, paying attention to all the details: the before and after of what we generate,” the artists write in item number 5 of their manifesto. As a kind of hiatus in their trajectory dedicated to the local and sustainable, Ana and Fernando propose here a look at the type of product that circulates in the orbit of their rigorous and poetic textile investigations, they appropriate the mass to re-situate it in the opposite spectrum to which they are destined: final product, they become what, in reality, they could never be: raw material. Then, they meet again at the heart of their philosophy, through a circular and subversive movement, through recycling.


Veronica Cordeiro, August, 2010.

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