Totem ¹ Taboo ²
Totem ¹ symbol which represents a system of beliefs and a sense of belonging.
Taboo ² social rejection based on beliefs and unfounded prejudices.
Totem Taboo designs political scenes + scenic artefacts building new collective imaginaries through the visual narrative of the symbol.
Totem Taboo, born in Barcelona in 2012, was the first initiative aiming to have the impact of a militant slow fashion & lifestyle brand in Spain. However, it was never a team-run company nor a business. It was a single person, very modest in means but ambitious in political vision, artistic project. A new-found outlet that would allow self-taught multidisciplinary artist Cristina Morales to explore identity and materialise her political ideas while studying her BA in sociocultural anthropology. Through different world fabrics and visual art from designing to making, producing, styling and art directing, she would make collaborations with photographers and models with the aim to create powerful campaigns. Due to this polyvalent and limited capacity alongside the soul and purpose behind this work, she would only operate outside traditional seasons with bespoke and very small (sometimes 10 pieces) limited edition capsule collections of one-of-a-kind items released punctually, focusing on unique pieces locally and ethically handcrafted by herself, transcending fast fashion ethos and trends. At the time driven by an idea of beyondness in a quite homogeneous and conservative Spanish context, she wanted to push forward the idea that identity is something defined by experience and not only by visible or not visible social constructs such as race, and that styling -when meaningful- is a symbolic visual language which recreates universes that can foster trends defining new ones such as constructs of beauty. Believing that we are not governed by people but by ideas, Totem Taboo was basically aiming to somehow shift through visual thought, micro and macro politics of difference in the individual and collective unconsciousness. Strongly inspired by the avant-garde, the counterculture, performance art, psychoanalysis and symbolic anthropology, Totem Taboo would be the result of this amalgam coming out as a Situationist artistic militancy. An existential manifesto in the form of wearable art & public scenes/situations.
After being portrayed in Barcelona’s street art by SM172, and participating in several top emerging contemporary ethnic art & design shows in Europe with the likes of Zap Mama, she migrated to London in late 2014 after finishing her studies in Barcelona, happy to see flourish and to be part of a brand new political art movement taking place in more diverse neighbouring countries. After meeting free jazz musician Shabaka Hutchings and working in Carnival arts in London in 2016, she grew an evolved conceptual vision and her bespoke and limited edition making to scenic artefacts in 2017. Her first afrofuturist scenic fashion collection ‘Space Age’ to dress the contemporary free jazz scene, had a piece previewed at Africa Utopia Festival in London, UK that same year, and it is part of an itinerant collective exhibition of scenic design called ‘Parures’ (Fineries in French) organised by Paris-based conscious fashion organisation Universal Love. To date, it has been exhibited at Klimafestivalen in collaboration with Fashion Revolution in Oslo, Norway in 2018.
Due to personal and global pandemic circumstances, Totem Taboo has since then been on hiatus, but the entire Space Age collection is still in the making, and looking to be launched soon.