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

Exploring communities of power and supremacy, Omicron Chi Iota (OXI) fraternity was formed. “Oxi” (oh•hshee) 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 the tools of design and visual communication, 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 and ideology of individuals influenced by collective ethics and ideology, A.K.A brands. In a reflective and mimicking process, visual understandings of the complexities of culture(s), appropriation, racism, sexism, gender and supremacy construct a critical and revealing ideological and ethical conceptualism via the brand. The distance of making—be it technology or artifacts—protects visual communicators/designers physically from loss of locality and conceptually under a brand name, causing the aforementioned issues. Systematic oppression from design and communication mediums and surrounding processes are questioned visually with all parties involved. Creators and consumers of design/viscomm are introduced to alternative languages and comprehensions of the concepts of the mediums and practices, and speculative discourse suggests alternatives to the status quo for shifts in perception and understanding. Performance is enacted as a didactic tool for the latter as an ethical theory and practice.
In short: I attempt to mimic "greek" culture to reflect the ethics and ideology of said community to said community. This, in hopes of a mirroring process showing a version of the self for reform and dialog. The same goes for design/viscomm practices.
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. In the reflective capabilities of mimicry are the critiques and articulations.
I then explored 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. 
PERFORMANCES: systems expose
I embodied Haris Pilton, a character designed to mimic "greek" culture. The mimicking performance turned into an ethnographic research project challenging and blurring lines of ideologies.
The first images and engagements are from Unofficial an unofficial St. Patrick’s 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 for spring break at this time). 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. Bars and frat parties (though not many parties, this is a very exclusive and secretive culture) were attended by myself with help and documentation from “members” of OXI fraternity.
Quad Day 2016: Haris attended an annual frat 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 of the petition is explicit in the meaning of “Oxi” as well as it's mission. I attempted to show the abilities of mimicry in visual communication and how appropriation functions. A graphic design undergrad student who I had crossed paths with many times (not as Haris) signed the petition seen at 3:34 in the abstract video. Ethics of my own are brought up in these performances that are in many ways eye for an eye. I feel it is far more dangerous to not say anything than it is to ask a question—even if it is a statement.
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