Feb 182017


Vestiphobia will premiere February 23 and run until the 26th at Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) in Havana. American artist Willard Morgan is the creator of Vestiphobia, a project collaboration of Cuban artists in Havana and American artists in New York.

Willard Morgan is an artist, writer, filmmaker, photographer and creator of Vestiphobia production.  He was interviewed by the editor of Cuba Business Report. The following are excepts from that interview:

“As an actor, filmmaker, and a ‘dandy-in-recovery’, it was a dream come true to work with the creative art wear design genius, Uta Bekaia, and avant garde composer/ arranger, John Sully on several experimental fashion festivals such as FAT, Fashion Art Toronto,  Brighton Fashion Week, Maastricht’s Fashion Clash, and Williamsburg Fashion Weekend.

We collaborated on several different collections which were determined by concepts we wanted to explore in the world of fashion, both personally and  universally.   John created scoring for the pieces.   We were usually the most innovative and outrageous of collections at these fashion festivals.   I turned the ten-to-twenty minute catwalks into theatre and spoken word pieces about love, obsession, fast fashion consumerism and looming dystopia.

These different conceptual fashion pieces were performed together in concert and workshop presentations and I realized we had a concept for a grander concept.  After we researched obsessions with clothing and found this intriguing disease, we had our title for the project, Vestiphobia.  We began filming music videos of the pieces from the beginning of our creative process which has become an integral part of the production and a concurrently developed film.

I presented a brief introduction of Vestiphobia at Jorge Perugorria’s Taller Gorria in Havana Vieja last April, produced by filmmaker and performance studies scholar, Berta Jottar.  We had worked on several projects together in Cuba and New York and Berta has herself written about and produced music documentaries in Latin America and particularly, Cuba.

Grettel Carbo, a Cuban architect and ex-model, who’s interests in New York City and Havana collaborations and sustainability in fashion, saw this as a perfect project for the Fabrica de Arte venue where she had presented work previously and suggested it to producer Inti Herrera there.  Grettel joined us as co- producer and they both took on the monumental task of bringing the production back to Havana for it’s Cuban premiere.  Fabrica de Arte Cubano, is Cuba’s premiere art complex. To conceive and direct our debut in Havana,  I brought on Steve Fagin, the director of many international film and art projects including the sensational film, Tropicola, a docudrama shot in Havana.

Vestiphobia which means  ‘fear of clothing,’ was a title I chose since I love clothes but, as with many passions, we often are afraid of what we love and its power over us.  The shame of the child, the guilty  shopper, the manipulative, fascist leader in uniform.  We all share the same need to be loved, admired, creative, free spirited and clothing is one of the most demonstrative ways we express these needs.

The purpose of the piece is to bring everyone on this journey through our collective closets to acknowledge the power clothing has over us.  Everyone has something they wear that makes them feel good or safe or attractive.  Clothing is how we express ourselves publicly and I want us to be more aware that   five dollar T-shirts and twenty dollar jeans are costing people lives due to starvation wages and dangerous working conditions (sweatshop labor).

As for being naked, I think we all want to be loved and admired for who we are and not what we wear or own.   To be naked is to be free, the innocence of the child before he or she is made aware of clothing is a wonderful time in our development.   I often note how children are dressed by their parents to impress the world instead of giving the child more freedom to choose to be comfortable, though not necessarily naked!

We are  working with an ensemble of amazing Cuban artists including the actors Renecito de la Cruz and Yessica Borroto, the legendary performer Francis del Rio, front man for Interactivo, the popular Cuba jazz fusion band,  and dancers from Danza Contemporanea, La Caja and Rakatan, all extraordinarily well trained. I’ve filmed and recorded in Cuba and have always been amazed at their talent and dedication to what they do. We have many collaborators,   I’d say we’re working with three times our group or about 30 Cuban artists.

We had generous sponsorship from OnCuba, Jet Blue, Galeria Taller Gorria  and we have several pending sponsorships we are expecting to aid us but any fundraising is difficult.  I would say the interest in  Cuba has been a plus to our campaign.

We have plans to take Vestiphobia to other Latin American venues and back to New York, possibly Miami and Los Angeles.  The project is performed in English and Spanish but French is not out of the question!”



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