Voting Ensemble 2020

Batik printed cotton duck and silk organza, avocado dye
Video performance of Zoe Leonard’s “I want a president” (1992)
Created with the help of Alanna Demetrius and Claire Trabue

I wanted to imagine Election Day as a celebration, made complete with resplendent regalia creating a tapestry of personal, social, and cultural America. So I created my ensemble for voting in 2020. I was particularly interested in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, which extends long before and far after the truncated history of the 19th Amendment. I drew inspiration from the mid-19th-century American dress reform movement know as Bloomerism and sought to evoke historic queer aesthetics of transgressing gendered dress as forms of exploration, identification, pride, and protest. The pants—the ultimate symbol of self-righteous power and autonomy in Western society, commonly supposed as inherently masculine—feature a large pocket for the protection and transportation of my mail-in-ballot. The shroud, in turn, protects my body as an aura of privilege but like legislation is gossamer, not armor. Ultimately, this is a reaction to how structures of power are inherently exclusionary, and as a result, are subject to eventual and necessary change. Finally, I am forever indebted to Leonard’s powerful words, no less fervent nor relevant than they were 28 years ago. 

Created as part of FNAR 393: Official Unofficial Voting Station lead by Loyola University Chicago's 2020-2021 Artist-in-Residence Aram Han Sifuentes (officialunofficial.vote)