Unwearable Functional: Akinetic Mutism is an experimental animated film depicting, through virtual clothing and corporeal metaphoric states, the frustrated emotions of women in society. Akinetic mutism is a medical term describing patients that tend neither to move (akinesia) nor speak (mutism). The body gestures and symptoms of akinetic mutism powerfully represent a process of struggle that I often observe in everyday life. In contrast, the altered garments, skin, ornaments, and objects of my creations seek other solutions and realities. This film was inspired by my personal experience of living in the United States as a female, an Asian, a foreigner, and the constraints of gender and language barriers. Over time, I have researched women’s issues in society, but for this specific piece, I investigated a narrower topic: the role of subtle and hidden sexual and racial discrimination in constructing and perpetuating deficiencies of will power. As a foreign female, I still often feel uncertain in situations. I have observed and experienced that phenomenon in many situations where women are antagonized quietly or even silently, leading to feelings of confusion and powerlessness. This feeling is quite subtle and oftentimes ignored. From my observations, in the US and now increasingly also in South Korea, I see that women from different cultural backgrounds need to relearn how to be “proper” female citizens. It is awkward to admit, but in reality, we feel lost. We can neither speak nor react—it is like mutism, caused by seemingly inflexible societal and cultural influences.
“I design clothes because I don’t want women to look all innocent and naïve… I want woman to look stronger… I don’t like women to be taken advantage of… I don’t like men whistling at women in the street. I think they deserve more respect. I like men to keep their distance from women, I like men to be stunned by an entrance… I want people to be afraid of the women I dress”
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”