Artist Yolanda Dominguez is not one to shy away from using her practice to expose the social inequalities which underpin contemporary society. In previous projects – 2013’s Fashion Victims and 2014’s Gallery for example, we’ve seen her respond to Bangladesh’s factory disaster, in which more than 1,000 textile workers were killed when their workshop collapsed, and question our invasion of online privacy in the digital age, respectively. She often uses “culture jamming” techniques, utilising a given medium to subvert its own discourse, and in doing so evokes visceral responses and stirs up critical conversation around these much debated topics.
For Yolanda’s most recent project, entitled Niños vs. Moda, she asked a group of eight-year-old children to describe what they see in the commercial campaigns which are created at great expense by some of the world leading fashion houses. Their responses are humorous at first, but quickly jar as patterns begin to form: women are identified as looking hungry, scared, and ill, while men are described as superheroes, bosses or “studying to go to university.”
“Kids decoded the images and exposed the implicit violence and inequality when it comes to the way women and men are treated in these editorials,” Yolanda explains. “They often offered themselves to help women… while they projected their dreams and ambitions on to the men’s roles.
“This revealing document poses many questions about hidden messages that are launched by the fashion industry. Why do we link these kinds of images with glamour and luxury? Why doesn’t anybody denounce this situation? How do these images influence our visual education?” It’s an uncomfortable insight into the mindset of children who encounter these and similar images every day, and raises some vital questions about the nature of representation in the fashion industry.