Queer Icons In The City: Calvin Klein and IoDF Unveil 'Murals of Pride'

by SHOWstudio on 11 August 2021

Calvin Klein and the Institute of Digital Fashion called upon four queer icons, including the poet Tanaka Fuego, to create a series of murals celebrating Pride.

Calvin Klein and the Institute of Digital Fashion called upon four queer icons, including the poet Tanaka Fuego, to create a series of murals celebrating Pride.

Celebrating the global queer community, Calvin Klein called on the Institute of Digital Fashion (IoDF) to curate a series of murals in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Milan, dedicated to four queer icons and their 'Moments of Pride.' With London Pride cancelled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic, taking up space in public arenas for the queer community is an absolute necessity. Transforming a side street in Shoreditch into a bright beacon of hope and resistance for passing traffic, the London mural spotlights the talent of writer and spoken word poet Takada Fuego, who chose to make a moving ode to their black ancestors.

The Calvin Klein initiative has been created in collaboration with IoDF, an emblem for change which curated, cast and directed the icons and art pieces for each city. IoDF - the change-making fashion force founded by Leanne Elliott Young and Cattytay as a platform pushing for an inclusive IRL x URL reality - each queer icon was asked to express their own experience of pride via an artwork which passerby can explore by scanning a QR code leading to the artists' short films and images on ck.com. 'As a queer core team, IoDF acknowledge the authentic meaning of Pride, the importance of celebrating the community and giving marginalised voices a platform to share their journeys', the platform said in a statement.

Co-founders Young and Cattytay add: 'An important part of our work at IoDF is to push for change, advocating for a more inclusive and diverse future for all. Supporting Calvin Klein in the curation of this queer narrative — for our queer community during Pride — is a pivotal moment for IoDF, allowing us to showcase the sheer talent and experiences of each of the icons.'

Artist Sarah Naqvi created an imaginary landscape in Amsterdam, reflecting queer ecologies and erased histories whilst also exploring the idea of redefining the terms of your own existence. In Berlin, multimedia artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley presents their experience as a black trans person. In Milan, Dafne Boggeri used masks inspired by Greek mythology to confront the idea of camouflage. Then, in the heart of East London, is Fuego. Their mural, titled 'Ancestors Encore', is a message to their ancestors arriving in the Western world: Fuego's pride is their pride. 'I am all my ancestors' wildest dreams yet made to feel burden. I am living proof the silence of those before me has not gone unheard,' the black type says, unyielding.

SHOWstudio spoke to Fuego to find out more.

Anyone will do anything to be heard, when given the safe space - Tanaka Fuego
Tanaka Fuego, photograph @dashti.jahfar

Hetty Mahlich: How did your involvement in this project first come about?

Tanaka Fuego: IoDF literally reached out to me on Instagram and honestly the rest is history. Working with IoDF and my manager Hélène really helped me in fine tuning my creative process and aligning with Calvin Klein’s vision during the different moments in this project. Being part of a Calvin Klein project and one so personal has been magical.

HM: When were you first drawn to poetry and spoken word?

TF: I was drawn to poetry in 2016, it’s what inspired the moment, the pride I found in myself for being able to elevate my voice. The first chance I had really was a testament to the fact when given the chance, anyone will do anything to be heard, when given the safe space.

HM: How has poetry helped you to find pride in your own identity?

TF: Poetry is the one place where pronouns, weight, and justification for living aren’t needed. It is still a come as you are form and give what you can. Even when it feels like there’s nothing to give, there’s always something that’s gonna come up. And I think when it comes to identity I needed that, especially in the beginning.

HM: What does it mean to you to have your words included in this project, taking up public space on a mural for the world to see?

TF: To me as an individual definitely a lot; honoured, but then I think of what the piece really means and now that brings me all the joy. It's an ode to our queer black ancestors' lives in a public space.

'Murals of Pride', 2A Chance Street E1 6JU @globalstreetart

Visit the mural to scan a QR code which will open up the project on Calvin Klein for you to explore more, including a series of short films tracking each Pride icon's creative process in bringing their mural to life. Shop the accompanying collection of rainbow thongs, bucket hats, clothing and accessories here.


Institute of Digital Fashion, photograph @dashti.jahfar

Murals of Pride: Calvin Klein

Video credits:

Videography: Elu Sade @elu.sade

Management: Hélène Selam Kleih @helene.selam.prosperitee

Editor: Institute of Digital Fashion, Cory Edwards @institute_digital_fashion @coryjed

Agency: Institute of Digital Fashion @institute_digital_fashion



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