IKAROS - youonlyliveonce

A documentary and fictional theater evening

 

Young boy – wings – sun – crash.

“No wings, I want no wings in the picture.” I sit in a café I have my first meeting with the director Andreas Mihan. There is a feeling of knowing him. He is quiet and calm and friendly and gives you room to open up, yet he is precise and you get the instant impulse of you are kindly directed by him as well. I was asked to take the picture for the poster. We work with ex drug addicts and RaSoP gGmbH and Projekttheater Dresden – The Ikaros story is the frame work and their own stories are woven in. Ok, I get the facts and I immediately state my discomfort with the idea of the actors standing in a forest wearing wings, well maybe a dead pigeon but that pigeon has not had a change to look death in the eye and say “It is not my time yet.” So I shake it off as a bad joke.

First sight

I am invited to the Projekttheater in Dresden to meet the actors and to get an impression. They are mainly in their early 20th. I got introduced as the photographer who will do the picture for the poster and I am here today for a “get to know each other” and a first handshake. I look in interested faces and to make it easier I get politely invited to the warm up.

Blending in

Theater pedagogical magic tricks are waiting about to be put onto me. Warm up: we walk around in the room and I do to, swing my arms and stretch them, rolling them to why not. Somehow I find myself in a circle and we change to games. I am a bit uncertain what will come next and it did. A short memory reaction game - inside of me I hear the inner judge with a big “Oh noooooo. You make a fool out of yourself.” Panic is there as well, I can’t even remember the rules, not even talking about ‘We are playing what? How were the words?’ Everybody looks at me, MY TURN, my brain goes in stall, I panic, my mouth forms lips like a fish and nothing or some word you find in no dictionary slips out at least wave my arm. Everybody laughs. I did it wrong. I can’t even remember when I did something like that. I watch, I sweat, I do it wrong over and over again but we laugh and the laughing is not judgmental at all. Laughing, I am laughing, I am playing. Am I enjoying myself? At some point I realize the panic had gone, I had heard the words over and over again, I have gotten used to the people in the circle and oh my god how the laughing just broke the ice. My brain had processed all the visual information; I slowly developed a feeling for the others around me. No, I was concentrating and tried to actually play the game. We swung in harmony, we bounded. I was in. I was self-forgotten. What did just happen? What was happening? I just discovered a new tool for creating trustful situations and one more time the power of laughing. Self-forgotten – being the inner child. After the warm-up I sat on the side and watch them rehearse or developing the play. The director encourages me to take pictures. I go straight in the middle, I am lying next to them I am in their faces and they let me.

From single image to fly with us

After my introduction class I send the pictures to the director and he is touched by my results and he invites me to follow the rehearsals and document the process. Deal! What a surprise when I came back and wasn’t welcome with open arms. During the intro round of the day I get clear resentments. Two of the actors don’t feel like being photographed. This is new to me and I immediately feel sympathy. What am I going to do now if one or two don’t want me to take pictures of them? I leave this to later and see how it develops. I am part of the warm-up again and this day we never rehearsed or created a play we all needed to get our minds off and we needed to feel good with the others. This is how I ended up participating in all the games. Ending with me running around in the room, screaming like a 5 year old when someone chased me and tried to touch me. I was out of breath, my chest opened from all the laughter. I was exhausted and completely open. I was easy; I was once again a part of the group – this time stronger. In the end the young man who had a difficult time with me being in his face with my camera became my friend of the day. We have been growing closer ever since.

Suddenly I felt my own wings touching burning sun

The Saturdays were IKAROS days now and every time I experienced my blending in, finding myself touching my inner boarders and crossing them. There were many times were my camera was not invasive at all but my instrument of hiding. I watched, I learned, I got sucked in and I learned to really like and respect every single one and connected with every single one in a suiting unique way. There were difficult times with studying the classical Ovid text and memorizing, for a long time the play was in process until it started shaping and they started the actual rehearsal. The most touching and challenging ingredient was the personal drug history of each actor. I have heard them over and over again but until today I cannot imagine such experiences and can’t stop shaking my head in disbelief, hurting me more the more I befriend myself with them. At the same time I couldn’t help myself finding them stronger than me in a way. The drug stories were to me just the result of many other events of pain, loneliness, and feeling of not belonging, emptiness and invisibility. This hit home as all those feelings have been long shadows and cloth that didn’t fit in my life. I could follow them. For a while the topic of buried creativity had been a subject for me. The IKAROS project was a complex experience a patch work of self-awareness, life lesson, change of perspective, losing boarders, overcoming inner hurdles of intimacy and shame and watching the tools of expression might it be dancing, body movement, laughing, running, taking pictures, body language, gestures, sound, no sound, words.

No one died

They worked hard, they reached their limits especially when facing fear and discomfort and bad memories and pain and they flew once again and this time they were carried by respect and the satisfaction which comes with a sense of completion when everything comes on stage and the audience’s wave of clapping is giving you appreciation. What strength! What hunger for life? One actor who had committed several suicide attempts asks - what this life is all about. It seems as if he is bound to find out. Obviously his core has a very strong will to live. Youonlyliveonce – don’t miss it.

I cut the watermelon

Sunday with blue skies and puffy white clouds. Just screaming at me: “Bring the living room outside.”

My mom always liked to tell stories about people that had crazy ideas and how that turned into either a business or fame. I guess she liked the transformation from no one believes you got it to activate superhuman strength or the courage or the bit of craziness you need to fight for your dream. Funny enough it was also my mom how said oh let's just have father's 60th birthday in the colony garden, when I had big plans for him. 

 

I remember we got in a fight because I insisted on going to the lakes far away. Yes, I was getting everyone moving and everyone had quiet some work with it. The morning I wanted to do the surprise for him we still didn't know which lake to choose. The weather wasn't that great. It was risky. We had to mobilize three cars; we emptied my loft - that's how much decoration I had. We got to the lake, me and my awesome brothers stood at a sand hill overlooking the turquoise water and I remember I felt like Indians striving the planes finding their new ground.

My brothers always supported me. They go out of the way for me, supporting me in making my ideas become real. 

So, my father’s 60th birthday was the first break through for me because I insisted on doing it all the way. Because the comfortable solution had been less memorable.

 

After this my little book filled good bye parties, birthdays, weddings.

(click on the image to see more)

May, Sunday, sunny and white clouds hanging out and I felt a tickle to special someone. It started out as a birthday present to my friend Anna but as we flow it became tinder date, date catering, table for two, me and my table, table with me,

meet me at the table

The universe sent me those two. And what surprise had they something to do with communication. Just the people I was asking for. 

Him and her came along just after we set up the table, fed the cutest children with strawberry cake and were about to enjoy the people at the beach doing Sunday things by having some white wine with our cake when I realized I forgot a very important tool: a corkscrew. YouTube taught me to chill and pull a Mac Guywer trick I take Anna's show and put the bottle in and bang it against a tree apologizing for maybe hurting him. The cork doesn't move. I take the little stone wall by the beach. Nothing, cork is laughing at me.

So I am looking for help and I see them, I see his suspenders and my brain triggers and I yell over: "Hey Indiana Jones, do you have a pocket knife." He doesn't but I got their attention. "What are you doing there?" "Well it is kind of a birthday but maybe we are testing a business idea... How long have you been together?" "Some hours." That was my start signal, I sat them down at the table and after this everything just fell into place. Guess we brainstormed and well they drank our wine. We decided to leave them alone and just got going with our little birthday hangout. So we gave them room for the magic to happen. Around 7:30 pm I had a little pinch in my heart and later after they called us on our phone that they are ready to go for dinner we found them at the table in the last little spot of sun, holding hand. I asked them if they kissed around 7:30 pm for the first time and they kind of said well around that time. Yes, I could feel them fall for each other.

Well Anna and I were very much in love with them. I just don't understand why I put my jacket in dog sh*, Anna's Christinia bike wheel got punctured and her camera got stolen. We figure that out later. 

Everything happens for a reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Sustainable fashion is an oxymoron – rather built up a sustainable wardrobe

Evolved Vanessa Friedman’s, the fashion editor of the Financial Times, her attempt to write a speech on sustainable fashion for the Fashion Summit, a global event on sustainable fashion hosted in Copenhagen, Denmark on 24th April, 2014.

With the everlasting longing for new apparel to cover up our insecurities, to quote some individualism, to protocol our style or to just be seen by potential mating partners combing with the word sustainable clashes. Sustainability is the opposite of speed, exploiting nature and yes, also breathing living individuals with a need for individualism as well. Therefore rather than pulling in new disposable pieces every week. Take time to grow a story in your wardrobe. What is it telling about you when you open it? What it is whispering, what places and memories are collected in the fabric, what moments have they shared with you.

Awakening to a subject

 Ever since I came to Copenhagen, suddenly being a foreigner, a welcomed one but still a foreigner I met more and more people from all over the world. One thing foreigners like to do the most is talking about their own country and comparing it to the country they live in now. Anyway, sharing stories, getting a feeling about their lives, I started caring. Here lays the key: emotions. One is more open to learn if one has a positive feeling towards something. You don’t care as long as it is far away from you, has no face, voice, no story.

 

This and photography led me to meet my business partner. She invited me into her company with the words only an Indian would use, you have the same energy, you are one of us and now I can get involved in making a difference. One who feels responsible in putting my talents and potential to the world’s service not just a job with an income.

Curious about the market forecast I did my own little market research during the Fashion Week in Copenhagen in January 2014, I found not much content added by designers to the subject sustainable fashion. The designers I talked to couldn’t feel that customer’s asked for fair trade, healthier cloth or textiles with an eco-friendly footprint.  They also had very little intention to rethink and innovate, to change themselves, to adopt to the new challenges. For all who feel they would love to but don’t know how I put together a summary with tools, rather than pointing fingers.

 

Butter bei die Fische – now we are talking

Justin Keeble, Managing Director, Sustainability Services EALA, Accenture presented

5 disruptive ideas for sustainable fashion:

 1)      New consumption models (Share office! Share tools!)

2)      Transparency (Reconnect consumer and producer - Who made my cloth?)

3)      More with less (Saving resources)

4)     Circular Economy (Take it back!)

5)      Shared Value (Who and how can we help?)

 

New consumption models raise the question if everyone has to get a drill they use once a year while they could share and borrow it from someone else that needs one by the nature of his hobby or business. Shared office and studio spaces, shared printers, storage, shared cars and so on can reduce costs, material, CO2 emission, space, fuel to name just a view. We have to care again and ask the question who made my cloth. Reconnect consumers and producers. Give the consumer a face and a story to relate. Create emotional involvement. More with less goes hand in hand with new consumption models. Seek for potentials to save more of what you use or have to use in order to create your products and services.

Where is the little screw you can tighten a bit more so it doesn’t leak the liters of water, the kilos of wood, the cubic meters of CO2, the less hours for workers in India, the more hours for their free time.

 

What happens to your product after it’s life is over, after it has served it’s purpose? Do you care? Do you have a solution? Maybe take it back? What for? Maybe as new material, maybe someone’s trash is another ones treasure – circular economy.

 

You know how important marketing is, it has to be viral marketing and Facebook and twitter and Pinterest, social engagement, building communities around your product and your company. You tell your stories and it is always about good story telling. Go a bit further. Embrace transparency and show. Being vulnerable brings back love they say. A community is an exclusive group of shared interest, shared value. This is where your community participants feel accepted and where they feel good about themselves. So here we have the same effect. Positive emotions open the willingness to listen, to follow, to remember, to learn, to contribute, to be part of something. Cooperation is the word. We need to put our egos aside and cooperate, join forces if we want to make a difference. Let your business be a well to something more than money. Give back and add value. Treasure the ones who make the product.

Shared value – shared revenue

Which leads me to Marco Bizzari. He serves as President and CEO of Bottega Veneta a luxury luggage house which has expanded their portfolio from leather goods to fashion and fragrance.

Bottega Veneta started working with a women cooperative in one village. While reviving craftsmanship by giving skilled workers the option to execute their trade this was just the first one to come. Majors of another villages contacted Bottega Veneta setting up collectives as well. Important to state is the fact that the workers hold shares of the cooperatives.

Interesting and I must say I got goose bumps when I saw his slides of the women and to see this slide where revenue went up. Appreciation, aren’t we all longing for love? By being involved in the making, the process, the individual need for purpose and being valued, even adding value is met. Where the employees are no longer human capital but Olivia, Sofia with a story and are understood as the creator of the very product and therefore company, revenue can go up. Bottega Veneta has also taken great measures to tailor a design studio environment which is an ecosystem in itself. Joint old Italian building structure with modern architecture, ecofriendly with little to zero footprints and is light and shaped to make ideas flow naturally.

Business standards

 

Jason Kibbey of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition introduced the Higg Index as a business standard you can apply in your company or more of a measurement of the environmental performance of apparel products.

 

The key concepts

 

1.       Holistic self-assessment

2.       Measures environmental and social impact

3.       Starting place for engagement and understanding

4.       Targets a spectrum of performance that identifies opportunities to improve

 

Yes you too: Wear with care Wash with care

 

We can contribute as well: low impact garment care they call it. Pay attention to your cloth; don’t drink red wine in a white dress PERIOD

Ginetex - the international Association for textile care labeling brings following advices to us. In a way what my grandma said and did. The even set up a website http://www.clevercare.info/en in case you forget.

{C}·          Don’t wash cloth too often

{C}·         Lower  when machine washing

{C}·         Reduce dry tumbling

{C}·         Iron only when necessary

{C}·         Use dry clean when necessary

Declaration of Dependence

Livia Firth the creative director of Eco-Age Ltd, a brand consultancy that enables businesses to achieve growth and add value through sustainability. She impressed me personally. Why first when I get goose bumps when I listen to somebody but also because there was something determined and strong about her and absolutely devoted and serious. 

She launched The Green Carpet Challenge® in 2009 and therefore eliminated the negative association and biggest challenges in Eco-Fashion, to get rid of the stigma of being ugly, boring, plain, baggy by bringing it to the place where seduction and glamor and shine is celebrated the most – on the carpets of the famous. How do you deal with fear and threat, you face it!

 

Her pleading of exposing sourcing and your supply chain in the declaration of dependence may be executed by good story telling.

She kept addressing the issue of high frequency collection output during a panel debate on the future of fashion. Why H&M is not reducing the output of collections, which is almost bi-weekly now and causes a lot of brain drain of designers. After all fashion's selling argument is design and looks and this goes to the account of designers.

Where design becomes a production and output, creativity is exhausted.

A little over a year ago in March 2013 at a roundtable debate, hosted by the Guardian in association with Timberland® in London they obvious responsibility by the industry was put in the hand of the consumers. Large scale changes in the industry can only come from vast demand for sustainable fashion. This summit clearly indicated a fast growth of awareness. There is movement and there is a changing mindset in the industry. One can feel a certain awaking of common sense within. As this summit was directed at about 1,100 decision-makers and thought leaders in fashion, business and influencers to act and to attract more CEO of retail companies to the summit next year.

We shall all not forget why this rapid awakening took place, helping to elevate the consequences of our disconnect from who made our garments to our eye level was the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Securing the base

Accord is an agreement of making garment factories a safer workplaces by setting standards for fire, electrical and building inspection, publicly reporting inspection results and have compliance for actions to be taken to assure safety of the workers.

Until September 2014 Accord has committed to inspect 1500 factories. When the wellbeing of the workers is endangered the factory will get suspended from production until the safety risks are eliminated. 

The sad one year anniversary became the day of the Fashion Summit and the Fashion Revolution Day. 

One morning you just wake up and you are doing it

It took me years to set up my website. One day you have gathered enough confidence and puzzle pieces to do it. 

 

Following my heros not being scared of them anymore.

Photography is a key and has opened doors for me to other worlds. I have been curious all my life. I wonna see, I wonna know.

On this journey I want to grow.