Clothing meets social activism

The work of Lucy Orta, one of my favourite artists, is shown at the On Conceptual Clothing exhibition in Tokyo along with artists such as Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Yasumasa Morimura, Beverly Semmes, etc. (via Real Tokyo, btw, if you ever go, drop me a line to tell me about the show.)

Lucy Orta’s work melds clothing with social activism.

In the 90’s, she began fashioning Refuge Wear to answer situations of human distress. These temporary shelters, labelled Body Architecture are portable habitat catering for minimum personal comfort and mobility for the inhabitant. For example, Refuge Wear provided vital mobility and waterproof shelter for the Kurd refugee population; temporary protection and shelter for natural disasters such as the Kobe earthquake; mobile sleeping bags for the homeless, etc.


I particularly like Modular Architecture, portable dwellings made up of units that can be combined to make a number of different forms. A version of the structures allow four men and women to travel separately during the day, each wrapped in a waterproof, insulated body-suit fitted with myriad pockets to store water, food and medicine. At night, these people meet in a designated area and, after removing their body-suits, they zip them all together to make a warm four-person tent. The next day, they unzip the tent and climb into their bodysuits to continue their travelling.