Totem Taboo is an artistic project designing avant-garde scenic artefacts + scenes building new collective imaginaries through the visual narrative of the symbol. It was born somehow functioning as the first ‘brand’ in Spain designing militant fashion campaigns with non-professional models challenging mainstream notions of identity, portrayed in Barcelona’s street art by SM172. Operating outside traditional seasons, bespoke and very small limited edition capsule collections were released punctually focusing on locally and ethically handcrafted one-of-a-kind pieces that transcended fast fashion ethos and trends. The garments have evolved to be sculptural and activated only when worn as part of public interventions and performances and they are now dressing the contemporary avant-garde jazz scene, with a Sun Ra-inspired collection and the likes of Zap Mama and Sun Ra Arkestra. Either way, it has always aimed to create situations, disrupting the spectacle. Founded by cultural activist Cristina Morales in Barcelona in 2012, it was inspired by her personal, anthropological, and artistic background, and later by the so-called ‘Black music’, her free jazz and carnival art experience in London, and the Situationist International, among other influences.
Totem Taboo, fka Indra Ethnik, was the only Spanish ‘brand’ present in the emerging and so-called ‘contemporary ethnic’ art & design shows in Europe since 2012 such as Labo Ethnik (Paris, 2012), Ethno Tendance (Brussels, 2012), African Street Style (London, 2015 & 2016), and Afropunk (Paris, 2016), to mention a few. And it was stocked at Quai Branly Museum in Paris -the biggest museum of anthropology in Europe, and Soboye – the main African fashion hub in London. Since working just on scenic pieces, a unique piece of the first scenic collection ‘Space Age’ was previewed at Africa Utopia Festival with a performance of Kendall Mugler alongside artwork by Manzel Bowman, presented by Baaba Maal, at Southbank in London, in 2016. Totem Taboo has later been part of the collective and nomadic scenic fashion exhibition ‘Parures’, organised by Paris-based conscious fashion organisation Universal Love, alongside many international avant-garde artists. And another unique piece was previewed at Klimafestivalen’s ‘Parures Frozen Catwalk’ exhibition, in collaboration with Fashion Revolution in Oslo, Norway, in 2018. After a long pandemic hiatus, the full Spage Age scenic collection will be launched soon.
Antiflag by Totem Taboo. Photography by Williamz Omope. London, 2017.