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The public call out for the inaugural CIRCA x Dazed Class of 2021 initiative asked audiences to submit a 2.5 minute film in response to the theme ‘Communion’ set by interdisciplinary artist and lecturer, Angel Rose. After receiving 2,000 applications, we are proud to present the 30 finalists who will each receive access to the Dazed Space and have their work exhibited as part of the CIRCA programme, appearing across public screens in London, Tokyo and Seoul this September.

Expanding on their commitment to help support the talent of tomorrow, CIRCA and Dazed appointed a community of jurors including Cauleen Smith, Frank Lebon, Hugo Comte, Simone Rocha, Dexter Navy, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Michele Lamy to select their top 5 submissions. From this, one lucky finalist will be selected by world renowned performance artist Marina Abramović to receive the #CIRCAECONOMY cash prize of £30,000.

With public art spaces diminishing, investment in arts education being cut and artist communities at risk, this joint initiative aims to empower the next generation of artists working in moving-image by platforming new voices and points of view from local communities on a global level, giving them unrivalled media exposure and the tools to help kick start their careers.

How did you become an artist and what was your route to your current practice?

CARLA FERNÁNDEZ, FASHION AS RESISTANCE, 2021: My world has always been surrounded by historians, anthropologists, museum makers, writers and artists. I combine all this fields and express them trough fashion. For me clothes are an open book, in them you can read the vocabulary humans have created to express their culture, politics and aesthetics.

What inspires you to make your work?

CARLA FERNÁNDEZ, FASHION AS RESISTANCE, 2021: One day we woke up and realized we couldn’t care less about what happens in Paris.

We do what they told us not to do.

Our way of doing things seems suicidal to business schools:
Our garments smell of smoke—they are woven and embroidered next to the stove.
We create few and we do it slowly.

We’re like grasshoppers in the field: small but rambunctious.

We work in a country in which 68 different languages are spoken. Textiles are our lingua franca.

We use fabrics that where woven to be treasured. A skirt in the morning becomes a mat in the afternoon and a blanket at night.

It’s up to us to put an end to fashion as trash. We don’t design garments to end up rotting in a dump.

We say no to bloodsucking transnational corporations and to the mass production that is so detrimental to our planet.

Anonymous assembly is for the plunderers of souls.

No to the false neoliberal urgency that season after season prioritizes volume over care.

No to the vile automated consumerism that favors all things foreign.

Yes to insubordinate creativity!

Yes to work free of distress!

Can you identify any elements of your community or collaborators that have had a strong influence?

CARLA FERNÁNDEZ, FASHION AS RESISTANCE, 2021: A Fashion Brand is made by many people working for the same goal. The most important influence I have, and will always be, is the team that works with us; the artisans that cocreate and coproduce with us!

Also my business partner Cristina Rangel that makes the company a successful business, designer Erin Lewis who has teached me everything I know about fashion and my partner Pedro Reyes who as sculptor has been by our side designing our stores.

Would you consider your practice to have a positive social impact, and if so in what way?

CARLA FERNÁNDEZ, FASHION AS RESISTANCE, 2021: Yes / Sí

We might only work directly with 200 artisans but our work impacts the whole artisanal community in Mexico and the designers that collaborate or buy from folk art artist. Here some examples of what we have achieved:

We are currently working together with the Government of Mexico on the creation of a Law that protects collective intellectual property of the 68 different ethnic groups, Mestizo and Afro-Mexican. This is the first law in the world that addresses this type of protection to folk artist.

The creative and productive collaborations we have carried out in Mexico over the 20 past years have led us to create an ethical control mechanism for our company, solely dedicated to healthy collaborations between artisans and designers, this practices are shared for free in our printed magazines or on our webpage, exhibitions and workshops.

We have changed the tax system on how the artisans could pay their VAT in order to increase their income and could sell much more.

Our store at Juárez in Mexico City was created with the resolution to be a home for Mexico´s folk art. For this reason the third floor of our fashion house is a living space for promoting the arts of indigenous, mestizo and Afro-Mexican Communities. This space holds workshops, conferences, demonstrations of artisanal techniques and exchange of ideas and actions about Fashion as Resistance and its creators.

How is your project tied to the Circa x Dazed Class of 20:21 theme of ‘Communion’?

CARLA FERNÁNDEZ, FASHION AS RESISTANCE, 2021: The film is inspired by the burning of effigies or “Judas”, a tradition during the Easter celebrations in Mexico. The ritual has a symbolic and a pagan axis: burning the figure that causes all evil in order to be reborn, compensate for the mistakes and damages of the past and regain strength from its ashes.

This collection and film were created in the midst of a highly complex landscape; the most complex humanity has faced in decades. Although our brand has been working for more than twenty years to demonstrate that another system for the fashion environment is possible, activating a practice in which the human sphere predominates, balance with the planet, ethics in production work and creation.

We never imagined that the unemployment caused by the pandemic would be so drastic and forceful. This teaching made us stronger, more creative and more alive.

It has shown us that our path, which is slow, difficult and has to jump many obstacles every day, is the correct one.

The inspiration of the prints, embroidery and handmade painting of the Judas on the garments are inspired by the colossal paper effigies Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera collected, made by juderos Pedro Linares and Carmen Caballero. For our garments we asked Pedro’s grandson Leonardo Linares, to reinterpret his grandfather’s designs. The garments of Leonardo’s authorship bear his signature.

Our work is only complete when we collaborate with other disciplines. In this case with Nobords dance company, Ricardo Ramos and Héctor del Mal Film photographers. Filmed at the amazing Anahuacalli Museum made by Diego Rivera to host his prehispanic collection and political murals.

How would the #CIRCAECONOMY prize of £30,000 impact your future practice?

CARLA FERNÁNDEZ, FASHION AS RESISTANCE, 2021: We have kept our same level of operations throughout the pandemic keeping our stores and the work with our collaborators have not dismissed anyone or reduced salaries. This has been the biggest challenge of our brand. All our savings where designated to keep our team together but we have run out of them. From the exterior it seems we are doing fine but the truth is that we have depleted all our savings and sales haven’t picked up yet. Now is only us trying to surf the tsunami for so long.

What would you do with the money?

CARLA FERNÁNDEZ, FASHION AS RESISTANCE, 2021: This money will let us continue with our commitment with 27 Communities / 206 artisan / 175 Women / 31 Men / 41 Artisanal techniques / 12 different States. We also have a team of 21 employees here in Mexico City.

If you are awarded the #CIRCAECONOMY prize, how might this affect your community?

CARLA FERNÁNDEZ, FASHION AS RESISTANCE, 2021: We see this price as the bridge that may be the difference between keeping our team or facing downsizing.