Laura Di Fiore
‘6ft (a)part’ calls for new spatial contracts that reshapes our everyday life with an artist residency inviting designers to reconsider, reframe and remake the spatial, social and political boundaries that surfaced from the turbulence of 2020 and subsequent heightened calls for systemic change.
Being apart from one other has highlighted our interdependence and connectedness. Optimistically strategizing what post-pandemic life could be after more than a year of living 6 feet apart, artists were asked to propose ideas—small or large, intimate, or urban, digital or analog—that could meaningfully impact their communities through investigation, speculation, and production.
How can reframing the space between us address social inequities? What political and social impact can be made through the generative process of design? How can the shared and inherent hopefulness of design and activism be manifested into real change for the better? How can design help us envision new systems of relations? What part do we play in these possible futures?
In approaching post-pandemic realities, artist Isabel Okoro asks what ‘normal’ means to us in a present day that has been commonly referred to as the ‘New Normal’.
This is the focus of Okoro’s artwork ‘Magic Dreams’, which asks what our ideas, hopes, and designs were for the future we currently occupy back when we had time to reimagine them. Meditating on what the artist calls ‘Normatopia’, or the space between a harsh reality and a utopia, the project asks us to open ourselves to experiences both familiar and foreign.
Part of our 6ft (a) part Residency, Magic Dreams uses our built environment to ideate and speculate with these questions and beyond.
“As a self-proclaimed dreamer, I have always been interested in the idea of journeys and transportation. Moving from one place to another, existing through each other, and finding harmony within the difference of space.
I coined the term “Normatopia” to encapsulate visions of the world I dream of. A Normatopia is normal, not perfect—and so the question becomes, what is normal to me? I believe that normal is simply the right to be. It is where we land when we think beyond the binaries of a harsh reality and a utopia. Reality can be hard and painful, and a utopia is expected to be easy and perfect, but a Normatopia is simply normal.
With magic dreams, I ask myself and my audience three questions:
Who stays when the fear hugs you?
Who said that all that is, is what is true?
What do you dream that is true to you?
These questions serve as an invitation to join me in thinking about what is normal—to you, and then dreaming within and beyond that normalness. I begin by investigating fear as a mother-daughter journey, as I believe my mother is the core essence of who I am and why I am, and fear is something that sits within me frequently.
I’m interested in using this installation as a space where individual mental energies are stimulated to think within a proposed futuristic communal context; where there is space to put forward personal ideas of a dream world that acknowledges our current realities but encourages utopic modification.
These questions are all related in some way, but through their presentation in distinct, enclosed spaces, they require a nuanced approach each time. The key is to be open. To be open to moving between the spaces, to be open to answering the questions honestly, to be open to confronting your dreams and your realities, to be open to the journey, to be open to what is normal, to be open to feeling, to be open to dreaming!”
– Isabel Okoro
Engage with Okoro and Magic Dreams with an artist’s interview found here.
‘The Grief Gallery’ welcomes visitors to acknowledge personal and collective losses through the contemplation of objects: the ones left by people we’ve lost and kept by those left behind.
‘The Grief Gallery at DesignTO’ is presented by Lisbon-based grief curator Charlene Lam as part of the inaugural FLDWRK x DesignTO ‘6ft (a)part’ Residency.
The community is invited to contribute to ‘The Grief Gallery’s’ collection at the in-person exhibition at MADE Design, where visitors can honour their loved ones with a place on the physical and proverbial plinth, a mainstay of gallery spaces.
Everyone worldwide will be able to view and contribute to the online gallery wall by sharing images and stories of the belongings of their loved ones lost at www.thegriefgallery.com.
‘Artifacts of Grief’ welcomes visitors of the 2022 DesignTO Festival to understand, question and process our individual and collective grief. Throughout this pandemic, we have been asked, encouraged and mandated to keep 6ft apart from each other for our own safety. The physical distance between us has exacerbated pre-existing (though seemingly newly created) emotional, mental, socioeconomic and racial divides that have contributed to a great deal of loss. As a consequence, we as a collective must now contend with how to host and hold grief.
‘Artifacts of Grief’ is an invitation to explore and express individual and collective grief and grieving, extended to spark more conversation and storytelling around this ever-present experience.
Through community engagement and co-creation workshops, a series of five-word sentences about grief were collected, and those we have received so far have been transformed into three creative expressions of collective grief (with more to come).
This project attempts to address the many places where we are exercising, expanding, and deepening our individual and collective ability to hold and host grief.
‘Artifacts of Grief’ is pleased to share space with ‘The Grief Gallery’ through an in-person exhibition at MADE Design.