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Deconstructing the Consumer Through Creativity

Brooklyn, New York -On February 12, 2006 from 2 to 7pm Swap-O-Rama-Rama, a seasonal clothing swap and series of do-it-yourself workshops in which a community explores reuse through the recycling of used clothing, holds its second seasonal event at Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The first public Swap-O-Rama-Rama was held on October 9, 2005 and was attended by 500 people who together recycled an estimated 4,000lbs of clothing. Swap-O-Rama-Rama is not your regular clothing swap. The event features an entire day of how-to workshops, on site thematic workstations and a gathering of skilled designers, artists and do-it-yourselfers brought together to share their knowledge.

Workshops are taught by local artists of all calibers and cover wide range of skill sets and material uses. The swap offers technology based workshops that demonstrate how to replace pockets with metallic fiber for the purpose of creating a wearable faraday cage to block RFID tag readers, and explore playable sonic fabric created from recycled cassette tape. Swap workshops also introduce completely new textiles. Kate Sweater offers a how-to that transforms plastic grocery bags into a new textile for wallets, bags and shoes. Traditional crafts like embroidery, knitting, beading and applique can also be found. If guests want to be hands-on they can slide over to any number of do-it-yourself workstations. These include a sewing stations with several sewing machines run by knowledgeable clothing and costume designers; an iron-on station for downloading images off the web and transferring them directly onto clothing; silk screening, and decoration stations for working with beads, buttons, and a variety of accoutrements. Guests pay a $10 entry fee to attend the event. Once they’re inside all of the materials for creativity are free.

DIYers, and artists working with recycling and wearables are encouraged to sign up to teach a workshop (wendy\_at sign\_gaiatreehouse.com).

The core of the swap is the gigantic piles of free clothing sorted into categories: pants, shirts, skirts, sweaters etc. These piles are the collective total of each guest’s contribution of one bag of unwanted clothes. This contribution is required to attend the event. Once inside guests are encouraged to take home ‘as much clothing as you can carry.’

Should a swapper find a moment of downtime they can be entertained by on-theme performances and video documentaries that feature the works of non-local artists who are creating recycled wearables. Or they can participate in a recycled clothing fashion show featuring creations made on site at Swap-O-Rama-Rama. Eco conscious prizes are given out to all who walk the runway. All left over clothing is donated to St. Martin DePorres Shelter.

Swap-O-Rama-Rama was created by artist Wendy Tremayne as a response to her feelings about consumerism in our culture. She sites textile waste (8.75 billion lbs per year), the use synthetic fibers, and the marketing efforts of the fashion industry as factors that are contributing to a deteriorating way of life. “Our over consumption destroys the environment and wrecks economies elsewhere around the globe. This is perpetuated by the fashion industry as they encourage the purchase of new goods through a constantly changing vision of what is in style. Through advertising we are asked to view shopping as a creative endeavor, when in actuality it is only the designers who play a creative role in the process. The consumer’s creativity is simply in the selection. The craft involved in the making of clothing, once viewed as a creative endeavor, is now left to the machine, which manufactures most of the clothing made today. The average person is ill equipped for sewing, and distant from the creative process due to lack of experience. After goods are purchased, consumers become advertising billboards as they tote logos and labels on all areas of the body. Branding, in its current form, creates distinct social divisions as labels broadcast the spending power of the individual. This separates consumers into categories that reflect the size of their wallet rather than the expanse of their creativity.” Swap-O-Rama-Rama offers a way to obtain new/used clothing, learn and create while developing community and this occurs without the use of resources. Swap-O-Rama-Rama is one of many works that Wendy created to speak to issues of consumerism. Additional works can be viewed on her web site : www.gaiatreehouse.com

The future plans for Swap-O-Rama-Rama include four swaps per year, with one event in every season and an annual Swap-O-Rama-Rama fashion show featuring the recycled clothing created by the events attendees. One goal is to offer free cloth labels to cover up existing branding which read ‘modified by me,’ ‘100\% recycled,’ and ‘resist branding.’

Swap-O-Rama-Rama has received funding support from Black Rock Arts, a community resource for interactive arts that sprouted from the makers of the art festival and utopian experiment Burning Man. Swap-O-Rama-Rama is fiscally sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Organizations that donate to 501Cs can make a tax-deductible donation to Swap-O-Rama-Rama through NYFA.