Siki Im, Fashion Design, and the Inseparability of Humankind

One of the things I found most interesting about Siki Im’s lecture was his inspiration in philosophy and in the work of Deleuze and Baudrillard. Deleuze defines the fold as an “infinite work or operation” that emerged as one of the main characteristics of the Baroque. Folds can be done and undone infinitely without altering the whole, and this is what is so special about them. Additionally, folds create a notion of interior and exterior in a way that, while each of these is different, they are not necessarily inseparable. In Deleuze’s words, “the autonomy of the interior and the independence of the exterior [are] effected in such a way that each one sets the other” (p. 234). That is, the existence of interior and exterior is dependent on the existence of one another, meaning they are inseparable, but they are not the same.

This idea of having different parts that are inseparable and compose a whole is explored, through the notion of collectors and collections, by Baudrillard. According to him, “any collection comprises a succession of items, but the last in the set is the person of the collector. Reciprocally, the person of the collector is constituted as such only if it replaces each item in the collection in turn.” In other words, the objects in the collection are all inseparable from the collector, as they all define him in a particular way. If we consider the exterior of the collection to be the physical items that compose it, i.e. the objects in the collection, and the interior to be the essence of the collector, then we could say that, although they are different, they are certainly inseparable, as Deleuze explains. And this implies that, in a sense, the essence of the collector depends on the objects that surround him—and not necessarily only those that make part of his collection, but including the ones that do not.

The interaction between interior and exterior and between the human and the world that surrounds him is explored by Siki Im in his design process. As he explained in the lecture, for one of his first work at the Biennale in Belgium, he did not only want to show his clothes, but he wanted to construct a specific space where they could be shown. This made me instantly think of Deleuze when he, talking about interior and exterior, mentions that their inseparability is clearly noticed in the fact that our bodies are affected by our surroundings: the way we walk is determined by an environment, for example, as is the way we use clothing. And this is something that was clear to me in Siki Im’s interest in the space surrounding his garments.

However, the fact that he explores design not only through fashion or architecture, but that uses a range of disciplines to do so also talks to me about this inseparability. It seems as if, to him, different ways of designing (buildings, clothes, or interior decoration items, for example) are inseparable from each other. If you can design for one field, then designing for other should be an achievable option, providing yet another example of the inseparability of things.

This inseparability of components made me think, as well, of Hannah Arendt’s text on the human condition. For, after explaining his motivations and his inspiration on Deleuze’s conception of the fold, as well as the interaction between fashion and space, Siki Im showed his current collection and expressed his will to make it all go back to being human, despite it being inspired by Science Fiction. For Arendt, being human, or the human condition, intrinsically entails the interaction between individuals and their capability to love one another. In other words, the essence of being human lies in the grouping of individuals together. This, in turn, means that, although these individuals are all different, if they are to be considered humans, they are inseparable, in the way that Deleuze explains this inseparability: each individual is determined by others.

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