Milano. September 22nd, 2019.
In the past, the control of life events was in the sovereign’s sceptre, he exercised his top-down power in a unidirectional way. This power was despotic and concentrated, but also extremely recognisable.
Our present, instead, is shaped by a “microphysics of powers” that molecularly operates inside society: a form of extensive governmentality that, through a set of institutions, devices and mechanisms of subjugation, imposes behavioural rules internalized by the individuals. Such powers operate everyday through blocks and bans, they prevent the free circulation of discourses and end up creating a disciplinary society: a society that controls, confines and regulates life.
In this regard, Foucault talks about “biopolitics”, which is the power over life, over bodies. It’s a power that legitimizes only some existences, confining the others inside a regime of containment and/or invisibility. A power that imposes conducts and paths, that prescribes thresholds of normality, that keeps under surveillance and punishes, that classifies and curbs identity chaining it to what is preconceived.
But if this power is exercised over life, it seems extremely urgent what in life is able to resist it, encouraging new forms of subjectification able to disengage the pressure of social normativity.
Can fashion fulfill this task? Can it offer itself as an instrument of resistance? Can it suggest experiential freedom, ability to transgress and disobey, emancipation and self-determination? Or fashion itself risks to become a refined device of neo-liberal government that ends up imposing a new normativity, turning freedom into a commodity and emancipation into a broken promise?
The line to cross is thin and hazardous. It leverages the transformative skills contained inside every power game. As fashion is part of that microphysics of powers that permeates our existences.
Creating an antidote to normative standardisation of biopolitics can’t mean imposing a countermand order to order. It doesn’t mean getting rid of rules imposing other rules. Fashion, instead, has another function: to let people walk through fields of possibilities, giving hints and evoking openness, cultivating promises of beauty, offering testimonies and prophecies, sacralising every form of diversity, feeding indispensable self-determination skills. That’s the only way fashion can be constitutively resistant: allowing each and every one to creatively build their own place in the world, beyond any normativity imposed from the outside. Fashion as a space of poetical self-affirmation where the desire of the self can shine.