A public art installation that deals with the intersection of the beauty standards & privilege in the United States & beyond.
Why Chroma•some shines a spotlight on privilege’s influence on our all-encompassing standards of what a body should be – and by extension, what a person should be. A symptom of centuries of colonization and oppression, Eurocentric standards permeate the United States and many other countries, with a severe impact on the daily lives and mental health of all who don’t match the description – white, thin, able-bodied, neurotypical, cisgender, and adhering to gender essentialism and the gender binary.
These measures of a body, often simply called “beauty standards,” go far beyond makeup and fashion – they are used to separate our bodies into “normal” and “other”. They are a way of codifying someone by their physical appearance and way of comporting themselves, influencing what opportunities an individual will be given access to and how they will be treated as they move through the world.
The physical representation of all that is “perfect” per our society’s standards for body and soul, mannequins serve as a reminder of what we should be striving for. They are our idols of sorts; monuments to all that is sold to us as holy. Why Chroma•some attempts to reclaim this space by letting nature run its course. In the first iteration of the piece, situated outside on Boston’s Harbor Walk, plants grew from the mannequins’ torsos (one man, one woman) – nature triumphing over our constricting constructs.
This took place in the summer of 2016, just prior to the Trump era. Now, bodies have become even more politicized. Those in the “other” category are increasingly targeted for simply existing as they are. In lieu of live plants for this second iteration of the piece (as it will be indoors), visitors will be invited to write a message of love and resistance on a leaf-shaped piece of paper and affix it to Why Chroma•some. Over time and through a collective effort, we can obscure the mannequin idols – a small way of claiming space and the right to exist outside of what white supremacy and the gender binary dictate.