Inspired by the writing’s of Judith Butler, Yael Navaro-Yashin, Luke De Noronha and Nandita Sharma, this garment sought to highlight the reifying performativity of statehood implemented, in part, through the normative category of the ‘citizen’. By examining the performance of statehood in both de facto and established states, citizenship becomes a propagating force in establishing both the state, and national sovereignty only inasmuch as those defined by it abide by norms dictated by the national image. The performative quality of citizenship, and its implied nativity, thereby reify the state and its sovereignty through narratives of belonging defined by the imperial past and its racial hegemony. This garment therefore speaks to an enforced constructed identity, a political force, that isn’t essential to the being of the individual despite its material and painful realities. The unbleached, cotton canvas fabric speaks to the supposed naturality of this category of citizenship, literally made possible by fibres forged during the height of Britain’s brutal Imperial Era, that have become sewn into the performance of the normative – White – citizen, demonstrated through the light coloured fabric and its Georgian Era silhouette. The heft and frayed seams of this garment were chosen to present how no matter one’s commitment to donning the garment and performing valuable citizenship ‘race, class and status [are] lived through one another’ (De Noronha 2019: 2427), thereby excluding racialized communities from national belonging as the garment and its representative performativity aren’t essential to the individual and, like one’s citizenship, can always be removed.
De Noronha, L. (2019). ‘Deportation, Racism and Multi-Status Britain: Immigration Control and the Production of Race in the Present’. Ethnic and Racial Studies 42:14, 2413-2430.