13 July 2008

Scavenger Suit

clothes, trash, collections and random walks
Ivan Hernandez Quintela
I live in Mexico City and it has become my curiosity field, my ground of exploration. I live my body as a tool of perception and interaction during my city walks. Yet, even though it is through my body that I perceive, interact, and intervene the exterior, rarely has my skin been the one in direct contact with the exterior. Instead, it is my clothing that has acted as a contact tool, as a secondary skin.
Reflecting on my past random walks, where I would take pictures with my Polaroid camera of everyday conditions, events and incidents that would catch my attention, I started to feel like a flaneur, distantly observing the city through a scratched and apparently unfocused squared lens of two by two centimetres. I no longer wanted to feel so detached, so one day I had an idea of assembling a suit for myself, a suit that could help me collect objectual traces of the city. I thought of a suit covered with pockets, some big, some small, some with zippers, some with buttons; a suit that could hold all types of objects. I thought this suit could become not only a tool but a sign for my collecting. I thought that as my collection of objects found and stored in the suit’s pockets would grow, I myself would grow. I thought the suit would become a sign that I was not only keeping random objects as if I was an urban archeologist, but that the act of collecting these pieces was literally shaping me, transforming me, becoming (in a Delleuzeian way) me. As the suit became fuller, fatter, heavier, I myself would get fuller, fatter, heavier, not in a physical manner, but fuller, fatter and heavier with urban experience.
I have only taken a couple of walks using my Scavenger Suit, and so far, my collection consists of what anybody would define as a bundle of trash. I once read something on the lines of ‘show me somebody’s trash and I will tell you something about that person’, yet, I am beginning to have doubts about the final purpose and depth of my collection. I am still not even sure how my Scavenger Suit helps me as a collector, except that people on the streets look at me as if I am unstable, leaving me free to collect unbothered by questions about my intentions. Still, on thinking about culture in general, which I take it to be everything that we produce, consume and integrate into our daily life, I think of my Scavenger Suit as an appropriate tool for the everyday city walker. It is, in the end, through our clothes that we protect, project and veil ourselves from the other. It seems to me that that is exactly what culture attempts to do, to protect, project and veil for us a feeling of identity that sets us apart from the other. That if we were to unveil it, we would find we are completely naked underneath.

Hernandez, Ivan. 'Clothes, trash, collections and random walks'
On Site review, no. 18 Fall/Winter 2007/2008
© Ivan Hernandez Quintela and On Site review

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