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BORA’s quest to dress every body with care, love and acceptance

Digital Intimacy

BORA is a multidimensional artist whose practice spans sound, animation, performance, sculpture, and painting. She is a writer of digital poems, using her imagination as a form of activism, creating space for every body to express their truth and beauty. The worlds she creates are an expansion of her inner space – they shape and figure emotions when words sometimes cannot. BORA’s universe is an immersion into an organic process, where you can hear a human being and their inner bodily and mental fluctuations. Through her audiovisual universe, she explores layers of identity and captures flesh, its core, and unconscious mechanisms. Her digital sculptures, characters with vivid and distorted bodies, are embedded with sensuality, joy, and vulnerability.

BORA’s quest is to create and unravel a safe space for digital intimacy and digital humanism. When we approached her to create a piece for our NFT launch, BORA expressed her excitement that all the people marginalized and excluded from the fashion industry could be dressed in dreamy garments with care, love, and acceptance and have the chance to be seen. BORA is a ritual, an attempt at existence, as she cultivates magic in the real and digital worlds.
I’d love to know more about baby BORA. What was your upbringing like?

I grew up in the countryside, in a small village in France. When I was a kid, the view in front of the house was a grassland, opening up to hills, offering beautiful skies morphing with the season change. My parents are classical musicians, the sounds of my mom playing violin and my dad practicing horn filled the house every day. My sisters and I would blow into his horn and try to make a sound, and I joined my mom at rehearsals on the weekend, walking alone in deserted concert venues, the resonance of the orchestra reverberating in the space. It was dreamy and opened my imagination. I would invent narratives while listening to the instruments, imagining personas and characters floating around us.

And when did your journey as an artist begin?

Art is probably my oldest dear friend. It’s always been the vessel for my vulnerabilities, a medium to communicate with the external, as I always felt very inner. I took refuge in poetry, music, and drawing. Art came to me from an urge to overcome trauma and find traces of my body that I couldn’t grasp or feel. I wish to connect with others, shake things with tenderness and belief, and collect stories.
— BORA —
“Art came to me from an urge to overcome trauma and find traces of my body that I couldn’t grasp or feel.”
Your work is very emotive. What impact do you wish it to have?

Art shakes us. It is the key to opening us to acceptance. It creates new representations that invite people to grow and change their perceptions of old statements and norms. Art can have an impact and manifest as a form of activism. I try to explore layers of identity, capture flesh, its core, and secrets. My role is to unravel, share an inclusive space, and be in constant transformation. Imperfect, impermanent, with a lot of waves and changes.
I love the word flesh. I think the way you use it is so seductive and carnal. But underneath the layers is this vulnerability.

You know, recently, I watched a documentary on Arte where Mithu Sanyal mentioned a statistic where they asked a group of women if they would prefer to be hit by a truck and die or be fat. And as far as I can remember, around 90% of women said they’d rather die than become fat.

That’s so absurd. I love watching you in motion, BORA, dancing your soul into the earth and sky. Feeling your body. You are so alive!

I’m able to see beauty in another stream. Even if it is a bumpy road, it’s so broad now. The normative forms of beauty are so narrow and don’t allow you to transform yourself. But, the truth is we’re all some kind of shapeshifters in our unique way. Your body and inside will change every day, all through your life.

As you know, I modeled for many years, and it was hard to watch the women I worked alongside loathe or reject change in their bodies.

Normative beauty is so limiting - and binary as hell. It’s almost like the closer some of my friends are to this standard, the more pressure they feel to reach it. I am not a size. I’m a person, with angles, with flesh. I live. I feel I am so far from normative that it has set me free. So many of my friends hate themselves so much. They associate food with becoming fat. Their biggest fear is to ‘not fit” anymore: fit in what? Clothes should not be static cages. They should live with us and morph. I have so much love and understanding for them because it is violent. Fatphobia is normalized, and fatness is considered a sickness.
— BORA —
“I am not a size. I’m a person, with angles, with flesh. I live.”
I think we need to realize that people of all ages and gender identities may struggle with their bodies. Even by simply talking about what we are ashamed of, speaking it out loud can release it.

Talking about the struggles one faces with their body comes from a vulnerable, intimate place because the system we live in lacks safe spaces to do so. But doing this is one of the most powerful actions one can do. None of us has the right to objectify or appropriate another body, physically or with words or judgments. Every person faces their intimate battles, often invisible. Whenever I meet people, I want them to feel safe with me. That is why making people feel understood, welcomed as they are, and accepted is beyond important. This is what I wish to share through my Art.

Yes. For me, being more vulnerable always leads to a deeper form of connection and intimacy.

Personally, I show up as I am, embracing every bit of it with no intention to hide. What separates me from people is not communicating. Violence is often contained in unconscious mechanisms that are anchored in us. There is a weight that people put on weight. Some people would avoid using the word fat around. Probably because this word triggers so much fear, right? But for me, it is not violent or negative. It is my body. The word skinny is used everywhere, even to describe a form of pants here in France. The fact that the word “fat” is considered an insult or a taboo word says a lot about our society and how it treats people who don’t fit in general standards of beauty.
The digital space isn’t completely free from all normative beauty standards. Humans build and collectively shape technology, so it is embedded with our unconscious biases.

The digital realm is not 100 percent inclusive. Most of the avatar “bank data” you have access to as a digital artist are thin. But it has the possibility to become inclusive, which is exciting! I love to sculpt avatars and give them curves, fat, and distortion. It’s an invitation to take up space! To exist! And I want to be able to create things for other people of all bodies to feel this way too.

And that’s where digital fashion came in.

I have so much hope for digital because material fashion has failed to include different bodies. I still don’t see fat people in fashion. And when it is the case, one person out of billions becomes a reference to represent a variety of people, which is crazy. At first, it made me sad, but now I see it as an opportunity. I promised myself, seeing marginalized people, that I want us to take up space together symbolically.
“I have so much hope for digital because material fashion has failed to include different bodies.”
— BORA —
The term body positivity gets thrown around a lot. What does it mean to you?

I don’t really know what it means to me, but it has an impact. Because it gets overused and loses sense to me. Is body positivity inclusive? I tend to say no. It creates layers of so-called “acceptance” for all bodies, but it doesn’t change the representations we get to see out there. It became a way for brands to protect themselves, surfing on that movement, promoting inclusivity where nothing really changed. Fashion excludes so many people. Brands pretend to be inclusive, having “plus size” models in their advertisements that don’t even represent fat people. Then in the stores, none of the garments provide sizes after a French 40.

Shopping and fashion are supposed to be joyous activities. It’s upsetting that it is a negative experience for so many people.

When I go to a shop and find nothing that fits, the message brands are sending me is: you are not worth it. You don’t fit. Where it is actually the opposite, we are fabulous! We are all beautiful in the way we are supposed to be. But part of that is how we can express ourselves in how we dress and embody our identities through clothes. The fact that so many people can’t wear stuff they love because the clothes aren’t made to fit their bodies is so sad and not okay. Non-normative, fat people are excluded from fashion and public spaces. We need to change this!
Tell me about the inspiration behind your NFT designs.

The first look is created in resonance with my exhibition at SLUG gallery in Leipzig, curated by Colette Patterson, where I explored “monsters”. It comes from the etymology “Monstrare,” which means “The one who shows”. Society tends to reject what it cannot understand, what confronts us. In mythology, monsters are figures we exclude, objectify, and reject. Representations of Medusa, who went through rape, trauma, and isolation, always depict her dismembered, as if she never had a body, a soul. We reduce what confronts us. This look questions how we perceive what is different from us. It looks at us and asks us: who are we?

Heartful Armor is an invitation to take space. It is a hug. A love armor full of love and acceptance.

What excited you the most about creating digital wearables?

Existence. It excited me to imagine that all the people that have been marginalized and excluded from the fashion industry could suddenly have the possibility to wear digital pieces. Custom, made with care, as a chance to be seen. Dreamy garments, full of possibilities. To finally be seen, not hidden, not excusing yourself constantly to exist! Not having to be named as a size, hearing comments such as “oh babe, you fit” even though you know deeply that you don’t. Not going to photoshoots and having nothing at your size, so you have to wear pieces of fabric rolled around your body or pieces that hide your body because of how people perceive it. Doing this is a way to tell all people that feel excluded from fashion, “I see you. Let’s try to change this. You are worth it. You are enough. You EXIST.”
“I started creating digital wearables because I needed to dream and create doors for my body to feel empowered in wearing garments where suddenly I could exist.”
— BORA —
What did you want to gift your wearers, your communities?

I wish to create pieces that would make them dream. I started creating digital wearables because I needed to dream and create doors for my body to feel empowered in wearing garments where suddenly I could exist. And not be reduced, not be “not enough”, or take “too much space”. Garments can be prisons, inaccessible for those who don’t fit in. The fact that it’s not real transplants it into the imagination, and there, we are free to be ourselves and explore all the magic possibilities. The constellations of people I connected with in real life and online are magic. I love people. The support I get is so genuine that I tend to get only positive resonance online. I cultivate magic in the real and digital worlds. Care, love, and acceptance are everything! I believe in change. I believe in love.

BORA has created two exclusive NFTs, available to mint on the Special Items Marketplace from Tuesday, 25 October.
Images: Boramurmure @boramurmure
Words: Sally Paton