We describe Dark and Disturbing as a curatorial project by Vernon Ah Kee. It’s not an shirt label, nor is it fashion. Dark and Disturbing IS the artwork. Creating the designs, getting them printed, selling them, having people wear them – it’s all a living and breathing artwork that hundreds of people participate in each year.
Being so focused on just living the artwork, we’ve probably not explained what we are and what we’re not very well. So over the years Dark + Disturbing has been approached by lots of people with ideas for “new slogans”. Dark + Disturbing doesn’t commission designs from others or just add new designs willy nilly. Each design is intentional and has a place or role.
Iscariot’s recent rebrand saw us thinking about our name. Moving from Iscariot Media, because we’re so much more than media, we played with the name IM. IM has multiple meanings for us, it’s not just an abbreviation, but it’s also IAM.
What is IAM?
‘I am’ is a trope or device that is has been used in visual art, including Colin McCann, Gordon Bennett, Richard Bell, Vernon Ah Kee. ‘I am’ is a challenge, an assertion of humanity and personhood over subjugation and oppression.
From this our new label IAM was born as a vehicle to collaborate with select artists to design shirts for their projects and get them made.
We are able to use our existing resources – a website with an e-commerce function, longstanding understanding of the medium and the process of design and production, warehouse, systems and processes.
We also have an aesthetic. When you look through the Dark+Disturbing, proppaNOW and IAM catalogue, note the tone of the designs, our limited use of colour, and what we talk about. Our aesthetic is deliberate.
We are excited to have our first design out in the world. Working with author Anita Heiss, the design was created for the anniversary edition of her memoir Am I Black Enough For You?