Haris Pilton OXI (BRUH): Mimicry and Morality (interventions of ethics)

Exploring communities of power and white supremacy, it is asked who can speak to power and how? Omicron Chi Iota (OXI) fraternity, or “OXI” literally translates to “no” in Greek. The manifestation of challenging a community of power—one that appropriates Greek culture by name and other cultures by force—in an embodied social practice using design, brings to fruition a character called Haris Pilton. Haris is the president of OXI fraternity. Haris frequents establishments and events popular with the “greek” (fraternity) community at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, of which has one of the largest populations of “greeks” in the U.S. Haris attempts to expose the ethics of individuals and collectives in a reflective and mimicking process to construct a visual understanding of the complexities of culture(s), appropriation, racism, sexism, gender and supremacy through revealing design processes and ideologies via the brand.

This work also critiques the design industry, the ethics of the industry and offers suggestions for how to move forward not only as designers, but consumers of design as well as educators of design.
Starting with the appropriation of fraternity houses in Champaign-Urbana, I photoshoped the fraternities images of their houses acquired from their websites. The rebranding of the houses to 'OXI Fraternity' was posted to OXI's instagram and fraternities were tagged via location, hashtag and image. This action directly says no to the "greek" community in Greek. The irony of not understanding 'no' is an exposure of cultural appropriation as well as a commentary on rape culture, a very relevant issue in "greek" communities. These actions expose ethics of the "greek" community to all parties involved, as well as the ethics of certain design practices and technologies and the ethics of the designer/artist.
I then began exploring artifacts, and the meaning of symbols and icons surrounding ethics. How are ethics portrayed in objects and brands. The items look at stereotype in the creation of archetype. Showcasing an appropriated second-hand Donald Trump Signature Collection polo, artist embroidered, (OXI Illinois Chapter) a Boston Mass. hat (Bro'Town), sunglasses, a paddle (of which is still a symbol proudly displayed by "greeks"—see video below) and Sperry shoes, a frat icon. These artifacts were displayed in a gallery show in Champaign IL called Greeks for Greece. The show juxtaposed fraternities with the then current political environments in Greece and the United States exploring cultural appropriation, nepotism, supremacy and patriarchy. 
Next were the performances. I embodied Haris Pilton, a character designed to infiltrate "greek" culture. The mimicking performance turned into an ethnographic research project challenging and blurring lines of ideologies.
The first images are from Unofficial an unofficial St. Patricks day celebration organized by the bars in Champaign (The religious celebration falls on Spring Break, thus profits were low from alcohol sales because students leave the Champaign-Urbana area for any holidays as a huge majority of the population is from the nearby Chicago Suburbs). The Shirts seen in the first image are the official Unofficial t-shirt featuring a stereotype of a Native American from the former U of I "mascot" Chief Illiniwek, which was retired as late as 2007. The student (and Illinois) community has yet to let go of this abusive representation. The other green shirt was made by me, reading OXI unofficial, saying the fraternity is not real and a protest of the appropriated religious holiday turned drinking party as well as the now 'drunken Indian' trope and abuse of the Native American image and culture.
Quad Day 2016: Haris attended an annual recruitment day at the beginning of the academic year. Haris requested the signature of "greeks" because he needed 2,000 to present to the InterFraternity Council to become an official frat. The fine print is explicit in the meaning of "Oxi" as well as mission of the petition. Design as deception. Quad Day attempts to promote a positive image of fraternities as it is not actually recruiting anyone. The "greek" system is an insestuous churn of young men.
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