Affirming Artifacts, Fall 2014
Accomplished with the support and guidance of Allan Chochinov
Prompted to ideate, prototype, and transition a discarded object into a product, then a service, and lastly a platform, Class of 2016 student Marianna Mezhibovskaya created Embodied—a bi-annual fair addressing body image in men, women, and children.
Starting with a discarded grocery bag and intentionally incorporating humor into the design, Marianna reimagined the shopping experience entirely. Branded with polka-dot fabric, the “Dots Mark the Spots” bodysuit has multiple pockets strategically placed where people typically gain weight. The concept of the bodysuit is to create an incentive for people to purchase less food, avoid food waste, and make more healthful decisions. Marianna believed that if customers could “see” where food would land on their bodies, they would be more aware of their dietary choices.
Further discussions and branding exercises revealed that the body suit was not likely to encourage better food choices, but rather exploit people’s self-consciousness and insecurities. This is the point in the project where Marianna pivoted her efforts toward actively addressing the notion of body image. Researching past and current initiatives, she discovered that the majority of work in the field was done through conferences—and grounded mainly in discussion.
Grounded in performance art and interactive experience, Marianna envisioned EMBODIED: A FAIR, a safe space for people to learn, share their insecurities, and create positive habits in a variety of physically-engaging events. The fair takes place on Governors Island, celebrating the beautiful bodies we are in during the exact dates that Fashion Week works to fit them into an unrealistic ideal. The event would be supported through partnerships with organizations such as the National Eating Disorder Association, American Psychological Association, Dove: The Campaign for Real Beauty, and Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign.
Beyond programing such as Eating Disorder Colloquia, LGBT Body Identity Center, and various performances, body image improvement manifests itself within the context of site-specific events that encourage fairgoers to use their actual bodies. These interactions include a Daily Runway Show for people of all shapes and sizes to strut their stuff, Mirrored Graffiti area where people can cover their reflections with inspirational words and drawings that emulate their true identities, and a Nude Spa for relaxation and shared body exposure.
Future steps for the project are creating a website through which Marianna can engage with experts in the field, assembling a short list of guest speakers, artists, and performance artists to facilitate and appear at the fair, and meetings with potential sponsors and philosophically-aligned organizations around support and participation.
Embodied, Video Storytelling, Spring 2015
Created in partnership with Leila Santiago
Accomplished under the guidance of Michael Chung