What does it mean to be successful?

Local streetwear label New Regime discusses their new art installation, Trapped

Atelier New Regime is a streetwear label and creative collective, founded in 2009 by Setiz Taheri and brothers Koku and Gildas Awuye. The trio’s vision was to share the groups creativity and lifestyle.

In the years since, they have developed their own streetwear culture by introducing a clothing line that has evolved through the use of design and photography, pushing the aesthetic boundaries of the brand even further. The brand is multidisciplinary and often fuses art, photography and street culture into their projects.

Their latest endeavor, Trapped, addresses our culture’s notion of success through a self-reflective installation about the idea of money and achievement. On March 13, two members of the collective, Koku and Gildas, sat down for a quick conversation about the installation and its meaning. The talk was moderated by Aye Magazine collaborator Josiane Ménard at the Phi Centre.

The installation consisted of a transparent box with a hole where people could reach in and hold the $5,000 worth of cash that was inside. They could only hold the money for a brief moment, and it was impossible to leave with the cash. The installation also included a poem featuring the words of local rapper Nate Husser on the topic of freedom, complemented by several photographs and audio pieces with vibrant imagery.

Here is a glimpse at the discussion between the Awuye brothers.

From left: Gildas Awuye, Koku Awuye and Josiane Ménard during the panel discussion at the Phi Centre. Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

Josiane Ménard: In the year 2017, what objectives had you fixed for yourselves as creatives? And have you attained them?

Koku Awuye: Fundamentally, our entrepreneurial goal is to stay in business, to stay afloat as a company. In essence, it’s about building a brand that also stays true to itself.

Gildas Awuye: At our end-of-the-year meeting, we always set ourselves new goals to accomplish as a collective because there is always something to push forward as a team, whether it’s through a new clothing collection or art installations. There is a constant need to surpass ourselves as creatives.

JM: What does the installation Trapped tell us when we talk about today’s definition of success?

GA: The visual focal point of the installation is a glass box with a bundle of cash inside it. This social experiment tells us a lot about our culture today, because we focus a lot on money before anything else. At the exhibit, there were other parts to the event, such as an audio piece, videos and photographs, but primarily the attention was given to the money. With Trapped, the goal was for people to reflect on their own definition of success and not compare that with others.

KA: It was interesting because we were able to see how people would react to an object of value. It made them forget about their surroundings and turn all of their attention toward the money.

JM: What are your personal definitions of success?

KA: The ability to live and work without any constraints.

GA: For me personally, the perception of success is something that evolves over time. In the beginning, it was about acquiring that perception of success, such as getting a lot of money, buying that new car, etc. But the more work we put into this project, the more we realized that we achieved that goal that seemed so far away a while ago. Finally, as soon as you get there, it’s cool for like 30 minutes and then it’s on to the next one. Today, I think my definition of success is to find a peace of mind toward the little things that matter and to be satisfied going to bed at night, knowing that I’m happy with the work that I do.

Feature photo by Kirubel Mehari

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