The power of art: Fashion Revolution Week by MJ Delaney
By BEL JACOBS
Five years ago, today, the #RanaPlaza factory collapsed, killing 1138 garment workers and injuring hundreds more. A huge international movement, under Fashion Revolution Week, has galvanised to make sure it stops happening.
Many wonderful things have come out of Fashion Revolution Week - a growing awareness and a greater anger of behalf of those suffering for cheap fashion. One of the most striking initiatives this year has been a 1 minute 54 second video made by brilliant young filmmaker MJ Delaney.
Pairing dance music and astonishing choreography by Los Angeles dancer Christopher Bordenave, the short demonstrates once again - and in spades - the role of art, music and dance to communicate viscerally some of the most urgent issues of our times.
Delaney, who graduated with a Double First in Oxford in 2007 but quickly turned to film, has mileage in this: last October, she teamed up with Project Everyone, UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates, to create a new video to raise awareness of the #FreedomForGirls campaign which has been created to support the International Day of the Girl.
Few who saw it - as well as Delaney’s previous remake of the Spice Girls' Wannabe video the year before for Project Everyone - have forgotten it.
To Beyonce's protest anthem, ‘Freedom’, young girls, aged between 5 and 11, dance in different locations around the globe with a power, anger and confidence that belie their ages; soundly putting paid to tragically sticky notions that women are victims, chattel or possessions.
Against all the codes of the pop music video, Delaney - a master of the well-placed phrase - inserts startling, horrifying truths: every five minutes a girl dies as a result of violence, one in four girls gets married as a child, 63 million girls have undergone female genital mutilation.
Placed next to the little dancers, as they sit, quiet now, gazing out of the screen, the words are horrendous. The energy of the work throws you wide open, the reality punches you in the gut.
Delaney’s short for Fashion Revolution, dedicated to the millions of poorly paid workers in the garment industry who make cheap clothes for Western markets, has the same impact. Produced by Futerra, a leading creative agency for sustainable initiatives, and Moxie Pictures, it will bring many viewers to tears.
In the film, an African cotton gatherer reaches out to the sewers, dyers and makers from Asia, India and Europe as they express both frustration and despair with an inherently unjust industry through dance. For each, the campaign's powerful catchphrase “who made my clothes?” flashes up in different languages, emphasising the global need for change.
At the end of the video, the text reads: “Millions of people make our clothes, too many live in poverty, exploitation or danger. With one question we can change that who made my clothes? Join the Fashion Revolution. Demand a fair, safe and more transparent industry.”
It is an urgent message from a group of phenomenal talents; let’s heed it.