Autonomous Identities

Gaby Abouzeid

I met myselves.

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Who are you?

Are you afraid to answer this question?

You are just one you. One person, one way of seeing the world, one identity. But, you can’t be the same all the time. That’s completely unnatural, robotic, suffocating.

You aren’t a singular person with a linear identity. None of us are. We change, we have sides.

Autonomous Identities invites you to consider yourself as yourselves. You are the same you, but in different contexts you become different versions of yourself. You trigger a specific You to come out. Think of when people talk about their “angry side” or “parental side”.

The pressure for us to be linear is implied – when we aren’t the same us, we are lost. When we see too many forms of ourselves, consistent fluidity, we don’t know who we are. “Who really am I?” “I can’t stand who I am, I don’t know myself.” Heavily comparing ourselves to everyone around us, a constant normalized hate towards who we are. A consistent pressure to figure out Who You Are. Why can’t we celebrate the natural plurality of ourselves?

Why can’t all your sides be acknowledged as different forms of You?

Why can’t identity be multiple?

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Tanya Yang, Universal Identification Network (UIDN) registration advisor has just left for the day. As written on her to-do list, she has gotten around to verifying and accepting G. ABOUZEID’s identity registration request.

The UIDN was founded as a sect of the Canadian government in order to manage the official documented registration of citizens’ “selves”. Without registration and adjustment, citizens may only use their birth information when asked for personal information. With registration, applicants receive updated passports, identity cards, and validation to assume any of their registered versions as legally accepted personal information.

UIDN Registration Advisor Tanya Yang’s file book.

Dina, Kei, & Misashi’s provided identification documents.

This is Misashi, Kei, and Dina – and they are all me. Through them, I designed a wearable collection that gives space to who they each really want to be, working together to showcase who I am – what a harmony of identity can look like. They each carry their own personality traits, their own likes and dislikes – which led their design direction.

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Meet Misashi.

They are what you’d call the “quirky creative”. All my neuro divergent ways of being and perceiving the world come through Misashi. They are extremely sensitive to everything around them, which breeds into highly creative and questioning energy, asking why things need to be the way they are and feels highly drawn to speculative creative practices.

They enjoy a very non-conforming practice, but not in an anti-everything way. In a way that aims to break down object association tendencies, and instead looks at the world in front of them as what it is made of. 

A tube is usually associated to construction, bringing fluid-like substances from one place to another. If Misashi feels intrigued by a tube’s form, why should it be weird to include one in a design? If it works and causes no issues, a tube is only a plastic cylinder. A plastic cylinder that Misashi likes.

Misashi’s outfit, REM, plays in tandem with Kei’s spinal fascination, and creates a bone-like pattern around the mini skirt. The loose-fitting zip up long sleeve with bubbles on the elongated sleeves encapsulate mini objects Misashi likes looking at. Layered on top of reflective two-part pant-shorts, it feels very intentional, Misashi knows who they want to be. Misashi is the star. 

Meet Kei.

She embodies light as a personality, and she loves raw and untouched concepts. Kei is optimistic, happy, ambitious. She wants to care for others and show people what love and happiness is, what patience and truth is.

She loves fixing things and healing beings. Those ways of being are expressed through her fascination with raw anatomy, and the human body. Its mechanics, and its natural patterns. Kei is the healer.

Kei loves organic shapes and mostly works within a white and grey palette, feeling attracted to its soft and healing aura. Through her fascination with the body, she also celebrates it. Kei’s first outfit, First Aid Kit, brings out her soft and happy aura, ready to care for all around her.

Her second outfit, Spinal Work, feels like a collaboration with Misashi. It leans on the body celebration angle, putting me in a vulnerable and slightly uncomfortable position. It’s exposing my body in ways I never do, forcing me to look at who I am, and recognize why I might feel shame in showing so much skin.

She began this outfit through her spinal fascination, wanting to design a playful demonstration of the beauty in skeletal structures. The fitted pieces invited cell-like shapes to be stuffed around the body, continuing the feeling of anatomy exploration through an abstract nudge, to make sure not to take too much attention away from the back.

The process for sewing the spine absolutely took it out of me as the first thing I decided to sew – (process book linked at the bottom of the page), but I feel so thankful for the challenging designs I decided to actualize, through these pieces I have gotten validation that this form of learning is truly valid and has pushed me so much further in my self-taught textile practice. 

Through that, Kei is gentle and calming, encouraging and uplifting. Kei is the spade.

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Meet Dina.

She’s calculated, focused, angular. She likes clarity, routine, and stepping up when needed. She feels protective over the other two. She’s always on top of it, organized, and she’s got her mind in it to win it. Dina is the protector.

Along with her calculated nature, she feels drawn to predictable patterns and angled shapes. She loves things like tube structures, wire clumps, repetition of the same looking patterns over again. They make her feel in control, comfortable.

Dina’s main colour focus is a strong black & white, along with bold patterns. Her outfit, Order & Focus, consists of a short sleeve zip-up top that utilizes boning techniques as pattern creation. An extended pointy collar makes a bold statement, along with cord mimicking wire structures. 

The skirt creates a pattern initially developed through Kei. She stumbled on how comforting it is to sensory sensitivity, and how playful it felt as it received reactions from all over the studio. The design was then gifted to Dina to provide her stone-cold stubbornness with needed emotional comfort.

The arm pieces are made from zippers sewn together with bendable wire in between each, giving them the ability to curl up in any desired shape.

Dina is in control, and she doesn’t like giving that up. Dina is the diamond.

Plain White Background Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures
Plain White Background Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures


Plain White Background Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

Find the Autonomous Identities process book here.

Autonomous Identities has played a massive role in pushing me to uncomfortable and highly frustrating lengths, which resulted in deep moments of looking at who I am and things I didn’t want to face. I’d always feel angry at things that I was, the person and designer I’d be, but what’s the point? I am blessed enough to have the comfort and space in my life to be what I feel is right, and I want to use that as a platform. Judgment clouds everything you hope to be, the worst kind being your own. If I don’t give myself the space to be what I need to be, I might lose it forever.

Post-grad, alongside working I’ll be continuing my sewing practice on an individual level, releasing independent capsules/pieces and opening commissions – under the brand name Spinal Work. My Instagram [@evidencedoll] will be relaying information regarding the Spinal Work Instagram account [@spinal_work] until I have it set up, along with a website.

Gaby Abouzeid

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