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My mind is reductive. My body destructive.

Manifesto by Lianca van der Merwe

dossier: Online Exhibition: Body and Power(lessness)
Lianca van der Merwe is currently enrolled for a master’s in Critical Fashion Practices at ArtEZ in Arnhem. During her studies she wishes to capture her love for the outdoors and movement within the context of fashion. She calls this ongoing project #artletics – activating latent knowledge with our bodies through clothes and art.
In her research she explores the literal and metaphorical role the body, senses and identity play in the production of garments - and how we can create a more emotional and affective relationship between the matter that we wear and our bodily functions. She delves deeper into the intimate bidirectional relationship between the body and clothes; with a specific focus on the organic skin vs ‘second skin’ relationship. Is there potential for the latent information stored in our cells and microbiomes to be exposed and visualized in a way we can cognitively parse and make sense off? Can our sweat our blood be beautiful? How do we read the body in clothes or clothes on bodies? She hypothesizes that if we have a deeper understanding of how our possible ‘sentient’ clothes affect our bodies and our bodies our clothes, we will respect and cherish them more. To her, fashion has the restorative potential to undo what it has been complicit in and subvert an era of human exceptionalism.

Lianca has grown disillusioned with the dominance of economic systems that commoditize everything, and how we are locked into echo chambers reverberating and reinforcing their control. "My ideologies have been manipulated since birth. My mind has been corrupted but there is one thing I can always rely on - my body."

Website Lianca van der Merwe:

This work is part of our online exhibition The body and Power(lessness), on how we physically experience autonomy, power(lessness), (in)justice, care and collectivity. The body and Power(lessness) is our theme of this study year and we invite ArtEZ students to join us in our research and contribute with their own work (video, text, podcast or any other digitally shareable) for an online exhibition.
"My ideologies have been manipulated since birth. My mind has been corrupted but there is one thing I can always rely on - my body."

Mind Reductive Body Destructive

You have to suffer for beauty
For acceptance, for praise
Insecurity priming
Your worthless appearance betrays
Bulges, curves, uneven complexion
Aging and frizzled hair
Your natural is disturbing
You need toning and repair

You have to suffer for your looks
A one-dimensional passion
Curation, greed, over-consumption
Unnecessary fashion
Be in, be out
A self-fulfilling prophecy
Obscuring uniqueness
Generates cultural controversy
You have to suffer for your dreams
You can’t regress, you must shine
Capitalistic desires and ideals
Never falter, fail or decline
Ascend up the ladder
The existential goal
Reach all the milestones
Don’t lose control

You have to suffer for fulfillment
An endless pursuit for more
What you produce is not sufficient
You are inferior, your bore
Copy accepted conduct
Originality isn’t of concern
You have to follow the format
Or be prepared to unlearn
You have to suffer for your ideology
Your opinions, your voice
You will encounter ridicule
Deriding your choice
Because your information is baseless
It doesn’t contain merit
Division keeps you occupied
Doubt becomes inherent

Your suffering is a signifier
That makes you believe
You own a semblance of control
Autonomy perceived
But you are a pleb
Your identity in defiance
You’ve sacrificed your humanity
In return for corrupted reliance
And this rhyme is a platitude
That will fall on deaf ears
A programmed mental barrier
Has instilled unsurmountable fears
Philosophical feedback loops
Affirming your dogma
Outside the opinion corridor lies
Conflict, anxiety, drama

To escape the indoctrination
You’ll have to push the limits far
Beyond societal mores
There is no support where you are
Banished, excluded
Not the status quo’s slave
Escaping cognitive dissonance
It’s hard to be brave
I will break free from these confines
I will find a way to reclaim
What is the fabric of reality?
My mind is going insane
But I will action, I will participate
And embrace visceral folly
I don’t trust my rationale anymore