VESTIPHOBIA CUBA

2016 - 2017

Vestiphobia Cuba is a project involving a performance, a workshop and a film series exploring our relationship to fashion, from the mere act of getting dressed, to its socio-economic impact. Under the umbrella of Ideal Glass, the New York art collective, the VESTIPHOBIA team debuted its first international production at Havana Fabrica de Arte - Cuba’s premiere arts complex - in February 2017. 

Written by Willard Morgan and directed by Steve Fagin, the performance is a four-act extravaganza of theatre, dance, fashion, film, art, and live Cuban music, exploring the main character’s damaged relationship to clothing. Vestiphobia confronts us with the contradictory nature of our clothing, presented here not only as a necessity but also as a luxury, a shield, and even a weapon. The show combines experimental fashion, video art, music, dance, and autobiographical narrative to entertain and enrich our understanding of clothing through time. 

Working in collaboration with young up-and-coming Cuban designers, art director, Uta Bekaia produced sculptural costumes for the performance during a week-long workshop taking place at the Taller Gorria Gallery, in Havana. Curated as a living installation, the workshop was open to the general public in the week preceding the show - and concluded with a conversation with Professor Andrew Ross, from New York University.

THE WORKSHOP - GALERIA TALLER GORRIA

THE PERFORMANCE - FABRICA DE ARTE CUBANO

The four acts of the presentation dealt with the pretentions of the contemporary art world, exhibiting absurdist as well as documentary contemplations on fashion, a kinetic urban fashion mosh-pit of a runway gone amok, to a primal atavistic re-birthing of the dandy joined by his glamorous Cuban dominatrix doppelganger. To finish, Francis del Rio’s epilogue revisited a song about people’s habit to borrow each other’s clothes, and a shirt he missed dearly.

The team was interested in developing Vestiphobia’s performance within a location related to the concept of mass production. As a former factory, the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) presented the ideal venue to contextualize such a show; with its large open space and its connection with a local and international audience interested in music, visual arts, and theatre.

Download Morgan's interview on Vestiphobia, for Quiet Lunch Magazine here

As subject of the action and object of narration, clothing has many incarnations in the show. Therefore a particular emphasis was put on the production of the costumes. Working in collaboration with young up-and-coming Cuban designers, the art director Uta Bekaia produced sculptural costumes for the performance during a two week-long workshop taking place at the Taller Gorria Gallery, in Old Havana. Under his direction, Cuban designers and workshop participants did not only create wearable art for the show, but their workstation was also curated as a living installation open to the general public. As such, the workshop functioned as an “introduction” to Fabrica’s upcoming performance for the Cuban audience. 

Vestiphobia Workshop focused on Cuban designers specialized in the use of recyclable materials and repurposing practices. With special guest Margarita Mileva from New York, participants in the workshop were in direct contact with the rest of the creative team (actors, performers, singers and artists) to encourage the collaboration between New York and Cuban artists. The Workshop closed with a talk by Prof. Andrew Ross, from New York University about the impact of contemporary cultural industries in art practice.