ALEXEY TATTERSALL AND UNCONSCIOUS
Who is Alexey Tattersall and what is UNCONSCIOUS?
I find this first part of the question difficult to answer. I’ll just spit out random facts about me. I’m 21. I hated turning 20, that birthday just meant the end of being a teenager, there were no perks or new legal permissions. I’m afraid of getting old. I’m a girl but it’s a relatively new thing for me. I hate body hair but I have ridiculously sensitive skin, it reminds me beauty is as painful as ugliness. I have yet to determine whether physical or mental suffering is worse. I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, and I’m lucky I found out before it destroyed my life. I only like American and German cars. I wish Pontiac was still around. I love to put as many sauces on my food as I can, and if I could I would fry everything, even a salad. I love modernist architecture, especially brutalism, but not the fake brutalist-inspired architecture of today. One day I’d like to live in New Mexico. I once applied for an art director position with the state of New Mexico. I don’t like live-action versions of superhero films. Batman the Animated Series and Batman Beyond are works of art. I’m pretty religious, I talk to God every day. I hate watching comedies but I love The Simpsons. I haven’t seen many mainstream films. I love Apple commercials. My favorite song of all time is Zamba by Bryan Ferry. My favorite movie is Boys Don’t Cry (1999). I prefer American spelling over Canadian. I’m afraid of dying alone. I love skater boys. I really love Justin Bieber.
Unconscious is basically a medium I can use to express meaning and communicate with the world. The name originated from a realization I made in my second year of university: we really don’t think much about the world around us, or why we do what we do or why we hold the beliefs and values we do. This has evolved to have a more direct meaning to myself, through the exploration into my own unconscious I have been conducting with my psychologist over the past year. It’s mainly in the form of clothing as art, but I expect it to continue to evolve to touch any form of art I am feeling at the given moment in time. It’s everything, and it’s nothing.
It has been almost 2 years since you started working on your first release for Unconscious. There have been a few pieces here and there but how do you feel about it constantly being pushed back?
It frustrated me a lot for the two years. In the end, though, it was my own fault: I simply didn’t have the time to make a real commitment to it while I was in school, and I also have a notorious lazy side. Now that I’ve finished university I sort of realized this is my one chance to dedicate 24/7 to trying to make something of myself in a field I am genuinely interested in. I didn’t want to lose that opportunity. I’m not disappointed it has taken this long though: it’s aged like a fine wine, in my opinion. My ideas are stronger and the authenticity is really there now. Now is the time.
When you first started designing for Unconscious you still identified as a male. Now that you are transitioning to a female, are the plans changing in terms of garments?
It’s really interesting because gender identity/presenting is often tied to dress, even if it ‘shouldn’t be’ and ‘boys can wear dresses and girls don’t have to’ and all that. So, I’ve experienced myself move from designing stuff that I would totally wear, to now finding it difficult to wear certain things I have ended up making. Not because I like them any less, but hoodies and shirts and pants and stuff hang differently on me now, and certain garments make me look more masculine than others. Right now, I’m still pretty early in my transition only starting on testosterone blockers in late February and Estrogen in April, so I’m really self-conscious about subtracting as much masculinity from myself as I can. However, my favorite style for females is when we DO wear ‘guy’s’ clothes: bulky denim jackets, sweatpants, anything that is oversized and yet still accentuates the curves in a girl’s body. But I love dresses and heels as well. So to answer your question I definitely have become more aware of the gendered effect in clothing, because before I was just designing what I wanted, without paying mind or making a conscious effort to acknowledge societal and physical effects of ways of dress. Initially, I felt Unconscious was unisex, but masculine clothes. Now I think I want to start making some stuff that I’d be more comfortable to wear now, so I think we’re going to see it transition to be more of a rounded experience, where nothing is designated for one person or gender, but there will be aspects of masculinity and femininity combined, rather than strictly boyish. I have some dresses in the gallery I’m doing this weekend (July 8th, 2018). The biggest thing I want to get out is a pair of heels, that’s for sure. Finding high-end heels to fit my feet (size 10.5 men’s, 12 women’s) is absolutely impossible. I don’t like the idea of having to buy shoes from Asos or Walmart for my whole life. So that’s definitely the big plan resulting from my transition: bigger sized heels finally hitting the high-end market.
Being from a city like Ottawa, how do you see the culture maturing 5 years from now?
It’s really hard to say because the term ‘culture’ can mean so many things, but I’d like to focus on culture as ‘ideas’, which are not necessarily inclusive of technological or electronic advances but more in a stylistic and fashion sense. I don’t think where we are from in terms of city or country has much influence at all now in terms of ability to do something that the rest of the world notices, assuming you live outside of closed-off societies like North Korea. Everything depends on and comes from the internet now. The past 5 years have seen in my opinion the most wide-spread usage of one of the main abilities the internet has given us: remixing and re-using and stealing ideas. We have a comprehensive archive of the past and a live-updated plethora of information and ideas all at our fingertips. Everyone copies and steals from each other, and re-works old ideas or what others are doing, and this is being done at a pace like the world has never seen. Styles used to last for a decade, whereas now people are tired of an idea or style by the end of the season. I essentially see ideas and creation, in a fashion and culture sense, as being on a variety of spaces on a horizontal line right now. Everything sort of comes to fruition in a different form of something that is already there. I totally get the sense that we’re coming to the end of that, with a heightening awareness of the way that people’s big data is being stolen, and the growing awareness that, ‘hey, we’re just seeing the same stuff over and over again from different people’, I think with a slight shift coming in how we use the internet and with our growing unrest at the same-old ideas being taken at increasingly fast paces, there are two options that can come: one being an earlier-than-ever fixation on ‘5 years ago’ as the ancient past, and the usage of ideas from now being seen as ‘vintage’ and clever and brand new, OR it will finally bring brand new ideas coming to life, especially depending on which direction copyright laws progress (or regress) 5 years from now. We’ve moved at such a fast pace going in circles for the past few years that I definitely think the next 5 will be very different or at least feel that way. I also think about the next 5 years and wonder how much longer we will move in modernist/postmodernist thought, which will have the biggest influence on culture, but that’s not really something I can even speculate on. Not quite sure how I like this answer though haha.
Is there anyone you look up to? Anyone, you relate to?
Harmony Korine. He just has a way of portraying the rawness of life and doing things so ironically, with a complete disinterest in whether other people will like it. And yet, they always do, which is like the two goals every artist has, I think. He’s done everything, wrote screenplays, books, directed movies, paints, I just really respect someone who has the ability to be creative and convey their own aesthetic in a new way.
I also look up to Brandon Teena. He was the trans boy the film Boys Don’t Cry was based on. He was raped and killed just for trying to live out his truth, and essentially for being able to connect to his masculinity in ways that a lot of the cis guys around him couldn’t. His life story is a sad one, but I look up to him, for having the courage to proclaim to the world who he really was. His story helped me settle an internal conflict I was having about being trans and whether that was congruent with what God wants and what I’m supposed to believe. Brandon’s story made me realize there is a very special place in heaven for trans people.
Talk about your upcoming gallery, the first real launch for Unconscious.
It’s sort of my coming out party. I look at it as a fresh start: all the delays in the past are wiped away when I follow through with this event. The gallery itself will be comprised of 1 of 1 pieces alongside merchandise, which together will tell a sort of story about me to the world. I’m super excited.
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