Accidental Icon: Displacement

I love living physically, intellectually and emotionally on the margins. It is always a delicate balance and I find my creativity emerges in the tension.  Since the menswear shows here in NY recently, I have been obsessed with the brand Public School and the creative directors and designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow. There was diversity among the models and non-models as well as models appeared in their police line-up serving to communicate the simultaneous presence of sameness and difference. These presentation details had me provoked, but it was the ambivalence in the clothes that captivated me. There was exquisite and classic cut and tailoring in clothes that could also be characterized as street.  And these two directions weren’t competing. The collection hit my sweet spot of ‘good meets bad’ and ‘safe meets dangerous’ that creates excitement because the clothes are also wearable in every space I must travel in. As I am known to do when excited I read everything I can about my subject. In WWD when asked what inspired their collection, Osborn and Chow cited the notion of displacement or when “home doesn’t feel like home anymore”. The designers challenge us with the questions “What things do you hold onto to define your identity and what things do you let go of?”  This idea along with the navy pieces in their collection inspired my post this week.

When my daughter went off to college, Calvin and I moved to a loft in Williamsburg, at that time very much on the margins. Our loft was broken into and robbed the week after we moved in. We loved our loft anyway because it was a wonderful multi-leveled space that had once been the loading dock for an old burlap bag factory and included a sleeping loft. At the time we moved in we had unobstructed views of the Williamsburg Bridge and the Domino Sugar Factory was across the street. Mice aroused by all the construction around us invaded our, until then, peaceful space. By the time we left our view was obstructed by a high-rise condo building and Domino’s was closed and boarded up with a fence painted like the American flag. 

Thinking about displacement, we returned recently and found even more changes than when we had been a few months before. Our lovely private courtyard that abutted a used police car lot is now a restaurant and the place we parked our jeep, a coffee shop.  A loft in our old building is for rent at triple the price it used to be. Our building has almost disappeared and looks forlorn amidst all the new construction.

While living in that space I wrote my dissertation, I received the unexpected news my father had died, I took creative writing classes, learned how to fabricate jewelry, read books written by post-modern philosophers I found in Spoonbill and Sugartown Booksellers and met many musicians and artists. I took those parts with me when I moved. I left behind any ambivalence about my desire.

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What have you taken with you and what have you left behind when you leave?