Calico & Camouflage is a fashion collection of ResistanceWear defined by traditionally-inspired ribbon shirts and military-style cargo pants–two articles of clothing that are intertwined with the history of colonization on Turtle Island.
Calico & Camouflage exists in both the digital and the physical world. The collection was originally designed to be worn by beloved avatars customized by the team at Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC). It was brought into the physical world to be worn by Real Human Beings who wish to simultaneously proclaim their Indigeneity and their readiness to resist ongoing assimilation.
Colourful silk ribbons and floral calico fabric were first introduced to our communities in the 1600s through trade with European settlers and were adopted and adapted by our innovative ancestors. Ribbon shirts and dresses have since become widely-recognized signifiers of traditional Haudenosaunee regalia. In contrast, military garb has been adopted in defiance of the repeated attempts by colonial forces to eliminate us. From Wounded Knee to the Oka Crisis to Standing Rock to Mauna Kea, our land- and life-defenders have claimed camouflage clothing for their own to show that we are not afraid to fight. Indigenous artists and designers such as Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel and Tammy Beauvais have connected camouflage, activism and the Indigenous body to make fashion statements.
In this collection, updated and abstracted original calico and camouflage patterns are mixed and matched: camouflage ribbon shirts are paired with calico cargo pants. Powerful pink, cool blue, olive green, and gun-metal grey are the dominant colours, reflecting contemporary landscapes of activism, including demonstrations in city streets, rural roads, courtrooms and cyberspace.
This project has evolved into 4 components:
The Activist Avatars series includes 11 portraits of original Indigenous characters wearing the Calico & Camouflage collection while holding protest signs. The avatars’ signs have been translated into local Indigenous languages based on some of the places they have been presented. The images are printed at a human scale on both temporary and permanent materials.
Calico & Camouflage: Assemble! is a multi-channel video that includes four different videos featuring the Activist Avatars. They appear in different orders so that when played simultaneously, you will not see the same avatar at the same time.
Calico & Camouflage: Assemble!
2 min 29 s.
The patterns themselves have been printed on various materials: first on adhesive to be wrapped around an architectural element, including pillars, windows and the side of an escalator; and later onto fabric to be made into C&C IRL.
Selfie: xox Presents Calico & Camouflage
2 min 09 sec