Growing Sideways

Top by H&M studio, Pants by Zara

For centuries we’ve imagined our cultural and societal bonds through a father-son dynamic. Our directions of existence, we believed, develop vertically. Knowledge, culture and power are passed down from generation to generation. Progress, change and even time itself march forward and upwards. We dress up, man up, show up and grow up. Laymen look up to gods, children to parents, voters to leaders, followers to celebrities. Rooted in the past, the new generations are put in charge of the future, and on the story goes. Repeat ad infinitum. 

While this dynamic is still dominant, many people experience its vertical logic as reductive, even harmful. Perhaps this is due to the failure of “paternal” institutions, such as the traditional nuclear family, mainstream politics and patriarchal ideologies in making room for various voices and identities. 

Those same voices are now asking: do we continue reproducing vertical histories and legacies or do we try and create new directions of growth? What happens if we choose community over continuity, squiggly lines over lineage, reciprocity over inheritance? What if our friends can teach us more than our public figures? Why not be inspired by what surrounds us instead of what’s “above” us?

Rather than waiting to grow up we might decide to grow sideways. To figure out our own ways to communicate and play while weaving complex networks of brotherhoods, sisterhoods and alternative kinships. In this potential horizontality, in the state of siblingship, the image of the twins is a possible ideal. An equality that isn’t symmetric, a togetherness that allows for singularity, a fluidity of assigned roles. 

Twins, research shows, communicate while still in the womb. At 14 weeks they’re observed purposely reaching out to each other. Their need to connect precedes their own consciousness. It also precedes that iconic gesture of reaching up to a parent figure; a gesture usually thought of as humanity’s earliest and most authentic impulse. That small, in utero and sideways gesture might be a glimmer, a suggestion. What possibilities await if we shift our direction and attention? If we reach out around us, discovering what’s here? If we move and desire horizontally? How would this shift effect the causes we fight for, the art we make, the role-models we choose and the people we become?

Jacket by Zara

Top by Acne for Verner / Jeans by Tommy Hilfiger for Outside Society 

Sweater by H&M /Pants by Tali Kushnir

Coat by Tali Kushnir

Shirt by Cos

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