The Opposite of Addiction

Go behind the mind of Jo Cope's latest project 'The Opposite of Addiction' and discover how the aesthetic boundaries of fashion can be pushed at the same time as engaging the mind in purposeful ways that may inspire positive change to people’s lives. 'The Opposite of Addiction' is a performance collaboration between Jo Cope and choreographer Lee Griffiths commissioned by Sadler’s Wells and London College of Fashion (LCF) for the Material Movement Gala 2017 raising vital funds for the next generation of creative talent in fashion and dance.

Jo Cope: The Opposite of Addiction

In a well known TED talk from 2015, Johann Hari presented the idea that the opposite of Addiction was not Sobriety, it was in fact Connection. In developing the project The Opposite of Addiction as a designer I was looking at the notion of ‘Self Connection’ as well as the concept and potential of making fashion artefacts as a tool for self-reflection with the objective of developing ideas for a broader positive social reach.

With this project I aim to use/start using clean 'fashion language' to illustrate a problem. One of my future ambitions is to work with specific groups within society to identify common language that describes their life experience. I belief that if we can simplify and detangle the complexity of today's issues and use the power of fashion as a visual language, we may be able to communicate to all involved, also on the outside, to build understanding and realise change.  Knowledge of Language and Psychology are of course key to the future development of this work. Finding possible methods through fashion to empower and improve my own life and those of others is the starting point and motivation.

The Project

The fashion artefacts of The Opposite of Addiction act of as 3D possible positive self-affirmations and tools for self-reflection, where ‘seeing could become believing'.  I have always seen the world as a series of metaphors and had started to realise their potential power. In researching the power of the metaphor as a visual 'self-reflection' tool, I came across something called ‘Symbolic Modeling’; a method that uses symbols, metaphors, and modeling that can facilitate positive change and achieve a greater self-awareness, inner peace, and an overall sense of well-being.

"We define Symbolic Modelling as a process, which uses Clean Language to facilitate people's discovery
of how their metaphors express their way of being in the world." 
(Lawley, J. & Tompkins, P, Metaphors in Mind, page 22)

The project showed me that through the commitment and labour of craft something positive could be physically materialised and act as a provocative thinking tool. And not only as an end form! The process of building the object also created for me personally an opportunity for daily reflection. While making one of the pieces, I was pushed past my physical limits due to its complex construction and short timescale. At a point of exhaustion, my heart was racing way too fast. I temporarily renamed it: ‘too much ambition can kill you?’ I gained new positive perspectives and more self-understanding.

Many people have dreams, talents, ideals; many find themselves to be their own enemy when trying to achieve these. In the project I created three metaphorical stages using a series of objects which relate to a possible journey to self-connect, self-reflection and the depart from 'addiction'. 

The Performance

Together with choreographer Lee Griffiths I broke down the Performance Piece and Fashion Artifacts into three parts to present a progressive narrative and a fashion landscape which starts by considering:
1: A problem
2: A desire to overcome it  
3: A positive focus/symbol which suggests a possible answer.

The two dancers symbolise one person in battle with him-/herself.

Part 1: Facing Yourself: a red 'Lunar' landscape is formed from a series of futuristic suggestive shoe/foot objects which are un-enterable, a potential obstacle in their similarity to the ‘real shoes’. The circular shoes made of two halves are both right feet worn by the two separate performers. They can only come together through the dancers working as one.

Part 2:  The Battle Stage: a negative and positive body form, representing the inability to positively connect with yourself and others (in a healthy way). The bodies become positive and negative poles, both repelling and attracting.

Part 3: Reaching Recovery: a missile shaped shoe sculpture symbolising ambition, 'the mecca'. Reach it and you have a chance 'to take off'. The ‘sky pointing’ structure refers to a higher power as well as the 12 step recovery.

Credit images performance: Richard Eaton

Credit images performance: Richard Eaton

Janne BaetsenJo CopeComment