In this exhibition and panel discussion, fashion designer and 'youthdem' Sheray Rozenstein links ideas of inner strength with the socio-political and cultural conditions of 'cool'. How does individual self-esteem relate to social marginalisation, and what role does trust in such personal 'greatness' play in youth culture and counterculture? This event is organised as part of The Hoodie Unravelled and Thursday Night Live! with contributions from Concrete Blossom and London-based filmmaker and artist Bafic.
In the first edition of The Hoodie Unravelled, Concrete Blossom and Het Nieuwe Instituut come together with local and international makers to address an important (and for many an uncomfortable) subject – the politics of the hoodie. Who has the right to wear one, and who earns money from it? This conversation focusses on the paradoxical relationship between streetwear and trend-setting on one hand, and criminalisation and regulation on the other. This edition centres on the relationship between the hoodie, ethnic profiling, police violence, and the criminalisation of young people of colour.
Designer Sheray 'Sheray of Light' Rozenstein interprets the mechanisms of 'cool', value creation, and attribution in a personal way. In addition to a social and political story, one of self-worth deepens the central themes of The Hoodie Unravelled for Rozenstein. "Your value is anchored in yourself; it is an inner strength with which you can try to be in agreement. I get the impression that we don't hear enough about our own inner strength or abilities, and I think this causes people to doubt themselves and look for confirmation from outside".
Her exhibition Tapping Into is therefore primarily about the way Rozenstein has tapped into her own greatness – the divine power she feels inside. She now 'teleports' her workshop into an art space, seeing it as an extension of her personal bubble. "Being open about who I am, how I work and how I look at things is part of how I try to embody my greatness. This is how I hope to encourage other people to embrace theirs."
In light of the processes of exclusion and ethnic profiling confronting many metropolitan youths, embracing some kind of intrinsic power is extended to the broader interplay of forces between established, dominant culture, and youth- or counterculture. Against the backdrop of her creative practice, Rozenstein talks to members of Concrete Blossom and filmmaker and artist Bafic, about whom she says, "Bafic is not only a great artist, but also one of the most curious and resourceful people I know. He is aware of his greatness and his work is so sick because he makes it from that awareness. He had to be part of this evening!"
Music is provided by Charmaine Leyden and Franky Sticks, with snacks by Let's Go Bananas.
Sheray Rozenstein is a Rotterdam-based fashion designer and artist pushing the boundaries of fashion both inside and outside her brand SHERAY. In 2019, the Creative Industries Fund NL awarded her a grant for the development of the interdisciplinary research project Celestial Spaces which, together with Stephanie Afrifa, questions the field of architecture and design of safe spaces. Rozenstein has been involved in Where does culture happen? at TENT Rotterdam, undertook a residency at De Torenkamer at Vondel CS, was a member of the TENT x Tate Collective, and, following her participation in the Fashion Fest competition, exhibited a number of designs in Fashion Cities Africa at the Tropenmuseum.
Bafic is a London-based multidisciplinary image maker working in a variety of media such as photography, documentary film, installations, and websites. In his work the boundary between documentary and video art is blurred. Bafic deals with the different systems that people set up in society and online in order to relate to themselves and each other. He has worked with platforms, brands, and clients such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Vice, Nike, Adidas, Sonos, Dazed, Neneh Cherry, Mabel McVey, Smirnoff, Boiler Room, ICA, and Tate.
Concrete Blossom is a self-proclaimed Swiss army knife; a Rotterdam-based design and media collective, it operates as a design studio, publisher, and cultural platform, navigating through the city with an inquisitive, creative, and designer mind, constantly "looking for ways to make shit doper". In their projects, Concrete Blossom investigate what contemporary metropolitanism means, with an emphasis on the interaction between hip-hop, diasporic cultures, street culture, and the digital domain. In dialogue with like-minded parties varying from other grassroots initiatives to established institutions, Concrete Blossom strives for a multifaceted and inclusive cultural offer in Rotterdam and the rest of the world. In autumn 2019, Concrete Blossom announced a long-term collaboration with Het Nieuwe Instituut to build a cultural system that moves with the rhythms and dynamics of the city and its inhabitants. Within the framework of this collaboration, Concrete Blossom 'disrupts' the institute in the programming developed around The Hoodie and G/D THYSELF.
The Hoodie Unravelled
As part of its long-term partnership with Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Rotterdam-based collective Concrete Blossom has developed an on-site programme of events and activities to complement the exhibition The Hoodie, co-organised with the team behind Thursday Night Live! Based on the central question of who and what makes the hoodie cool, The Hoodie Unravelled deconstructs this fascinating item of clothing in a variety of ways. The multi-location on-site-programme in Rotterdam consists of a series of (closed) workshops, public lectures, several special editions of Thursday Night Live! and other events such as mini exhibitions and a film evening.