In a world that always seems to be switched on, dependent on data, technology, energies and resources - always in production, it’s difficult to imagine what is to be saved for the future and what shape it will take. Confronted with an overwhelming chain of crises, from economical to environmental, we’re stuck in an indefinite present. The world as we know it already looks determined by market analysis, algorithms, and goods with sleek design which, reminding of no history, ask us to just accommodate them sooner.
The idea of shortages stands in sharp contrast with much of our lived experience amid the abundance of stuff we have created, among masses of cheap products that are offered to us on a daily basis. It seems we can purchase a limitless amount of gadgets and clothes, take unlimited air trips, and forever eat the last pieces of tuna.” – as designer and theorist Marjanne van Helvert noted regarding scarcity in the current overproduction system.
The Responsible object. A history of Design Ideology for the Future, 2016
Yet, scarcity ‘hits home’ differently in Eastern-Europe, an area that has been shaped in the collective memory by the notion of shortage. The socialist/ communist pasts are haunted by scarcities: everyday goods and freedoms ‘running out’; while the Great Transition all post-socialist countries experienced soon crashed under the invasive rules of capitalist markets. The promise of wellbeing fell short within economic drawbacks and poor life conditions. Unable to fully grasp the ‘wonders’ of western dreams, we got trapped in the geographically elusive construct of the former East and a stereotype of (always) ‘lacking’ something.
Some areas (like Poland or Russia) – Agata Pyzik suggests – steadily became a mirage of ‘poor but sexy’ (akin to post-wall Berlin’s tactics) compensating through creativity, (cultural) work mobility and a certain authenticity. Post 2008s crash, the socialist past was revisited for alternative life models, among them ‘values’ of recycling, everyday creativity and models of non-hierarchical distribution. Fashion turned into a sort of catalyst for this ‘redeemed creativity.’ Yet, it revealed how easily what used to be frowned upon as kitsch, cheap or misappropriated western styles ended up hyped by designers and a media capitalizing on nostalgia and the exotic other. As fashion writer Anastasiia Fedorova pointed out, this ‘new east’ and its perpetuated aesthetics of rawness, unkept, or unprocessed past, don’t talk about a place. Rather it is a repository of images and imaginaries, attractive in its contrast to the sanitized wishful images of the west. ‘Which east?’ then. Under these premises, can we even bypass the stereotypes? How are we to reflect on the possibilities of other futures?
For its first and only issue, Out of Stock launches a speculative quest of reframing scarcity and shortages as notions that could address empowering imaginaries of future(s) ways of living. Fashion/dress and design are a means for processes of imagining and a sort of ‘rebellious agents;’ ambivalent surfaces, they are not only political and shape our lives, but extend bodies (and objects) beyond the limits they’ve been confined to. Fashion and design can thus always become something else, a soft growth of textures, a weaving of politics and new visions, inserting complaints and demands that exceed our own interests. Overlapping technological advancement and the everyday life, at stake are ways to ‘invent’ and enable forms of experiencing and ‘hacking’ habit/ation, to shape baffling sensorial and identitary imagining.
As Donna Haraway beautifully states: “it matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.” So, it matters still what dreams dream the dream of future, for our relational and political times to come are entangled in them.
We thus invite collaborations that tap into East-European perspectives to ‘dress-up/ design/ fashion-up’ bodies and worlds for a time to come. Can speculative design and design fictions imagine future scenarios for other economies of bodies? What imaginaries, alternate setups or world-dimensions can be designed? What will these found future(s) ‘wear’? Can future living-kits respond through nuances to the culturally diverse area of the European ‘east’? A ‘we’ is a frail thing. These are thus gestures of exuberance, reactionary reminders of agency in a world where currently ideas of future(s) seem less fashionable. They shape a blind spear thrown beyond the horizon, towards a dim and obscure future shaping itself ‘out of spite’ to the neoliberalist strategies confining us to predictive outcomes.
It looks like we might have run out of stock, but the future is still to arrive!
Contributions: text based materials (essays between academic writing and journalism/ theory and literature mishmashes/ experimental writing pieces: 2500-4000 words); visual essays; soundscapes and music mixes; digital collages – all accompanied by short texts (any format: 800-1500 words). All contributions should be (still) in English.
Loose ideas with non-hierarchical preference:
All selected authors will receive a fee for their contributions.
Deadline for submitting your work: May 27th, 00.GMT (for time-tricking), with the subject ‘Proposal Out’ to: email@example.com For other details or questions on work-in-progress materials and ideas, feel at ease to virtually get in touch.
Out of Stock will develop as an open-access online platform, with all its materials free to download and printable at home inviting mix & match versions of the journal.