CFGNY presents “Collecting Dissonance” at Auto Italia

21 May—22 August 2021
Auto Italia
44 Bonner Rd
London E2 9JS, UK

As Ming Lin (Shanzhai Lyric) puts it in the introduction to her interview with New York-based fashion collective CFGNY (an ever-shifting acronym): "the term “vaguely Asian” frequently pops up as a term of characterization of experiences of race and estrangement that allows for cultural dissonances. Designs from CFGNY’s Bushwick studio are handcrafted further afield in East and Southeast Asia, and through this the group weaves new threads of solidarity to clothe a growing web of collaborators." The exhibition “Collecting Dissonance”, a new capsule collection, at Auto Italia in London, featuring garments as sculpture and continuing the group’s exploration of what it means to be “vaguely Asian”—this time through the lens of cuteness. Cuteness is theorized by Sianne Ngai to describe the reductive and demeaning terms used to characterize Asian culture in the West.

The ‘cute object’ has come to dominate Western expectations of aesthetics, identity and cultures across Asia and its diasporas, conflating multiple cultural identities into a non-threatening, non-confrontational and generalised idea of ‘Asian-ness’. In an act of disidentification, CFGNY embrace this flattened image of ‘Asian-ness’ to build a dialogue on race and community. In this show, cuteness is a collective language and a lens through which to explore experiences of cultural alienation and mistranslation. The capsule collection emerges as a relational project between CFGNY and their extended networks, exploring issues surrounding care, intimacy and safety.