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         Restless Formality
Restless Formality (2023)

"I’ve experienced an extremely debilitating invisible illness for the last 13 years. Early on during my illness, I would don my armour of the day, drink five cups of coffee and throw up before catching the bus to school, and go through my day with a smile; running my adrenals the whole day just to keep moving. If I did not put on this mask, if I let it slip I knew I wouldn't be able to put it back on, I would crumble. Yet, not presenting as stereotypically sick meant my illness was not taken seriously, not only by peers, but by doctors as well. There was not a simple solution to this problem, I needed this armour then, and I still do today...Restless Formality seeks to explore the tension between these two elements of what we wear. How can I present a story through my clothes that isnt misleading, but still gives me the protection I need?

One of the most debilitating and invisible elements of my illness is the sheer amount of time I spend laying down. Due to this, I’ve been fermenting about how I might be able to make art of this time that is so relevant to my everyday experience of life. This project held the answer; I decided I would make a formal dress out of fabric I had slept in while wearing body paint, thereby bringing to the surface this invisible time I have to manage every day.... In the middle of the night, I mixed the body paint into three bruise colours, the deep purple, sickly green, and putrid yellow that bruises go as they heal. I decided on bruise colours as a universal depiction of hurt and wrong. I also thought bruise colours would add an element of the grotesque. Illnesses are often disgusting, in ways that aren't appropriate for public consumption, yet the colours of bruises have a unique beauty that straddles the line between the grotesque and glamorous. I also put thought into the placement of the bruise colours, situating the darkest purples in the problem areas of my body, and moving outward from there with the green and yellow to fill in the gaps...

Restless Formality combines these ideas of the boundaries between clothing and body, skin and meaning.  It brings them to the surface to reveal the artifice of the story clothing tells. Clothing speaks, and therefore it can tell truths, lies, and half truths all at the same time. I hope to drive a line through those truths and lies. At the same time, I hope for Restless Formality to recenter the body in the clothing conversation."

Jinian Harwig

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