Fecal Matter is the Insta-famous art platform that enables Hannah Rose Dalton and Steven Raj Bhaskara to find light in the absence of censorship and social restrictions. Finding comfort in a kind of beauty that most people consider eerie and unearthly, the Fecal Matter members share their beliefs through fashion design, styling and music production, among other disciplines. Think: bald, browless, devilish eyes, and a merciless look. Standing firm against consumerism and materialism—a battle to which they allude with their name—they simultaneously speak of their human experience, a reality that’s been informed by lasting episodes of social stigmatization and the tragedy of violence.
How would you define “Pain”? And would you say that pain is a feeling you channel or evoke somehow through your work?
Sometimes we can’t create without pain. It’s like a drug you can’t function without. The dark lows pain manifests somehow translate into something that can connect with people on a deeper level than beauty. We all feel pain—it’s an emotion that connects us all but one most would rather forget. Maybe we’ve never felt real pain so our minds are constantly searching for something that will hurt more. Part of us doesn’t want it, but the other side is still curious, hunting it down. The pressures of society makes one feel pain so that you can buy into products that make the pain go away. Why won’t the ads tell us that pain is ok and maybe useful? Maybe we’ve all been brainwashed to see pain as a bad thing so we consume more. For us, pain is fuel, it is crucial to the human experience; without it you wouldn’t feel alive.
Has pain, in any form, somehow mediated some of your professional and personal achievements?
To start off, the most painful thing for us is fear. It consumes us and hurts far more than any physical pain. We’ve always been fighting against our fears. That fight has inspired us to do everything we have done thus far; which is to challenge the norm and question reality. Pain does intervene in our work but instead of stopping us, we try to create from it. If we don’t create from pain, then it consumes us. It takes control over our life and we become non-functional and unmotivated to do anything. The truth is, creating is all we have. If anything gets in the way of that, we will see no other reason to live.
What motivated you to create Fecal Matter? How did you guys come up with the name?
Fecal Matter was created in order to challenge censorship. We wanted a platform that would enable us to express ourselves freely without any limitations. This whole concept of branding is populated with commercially driven products and messages that reinforces a certain standard of life that puts honesty at its lowest priority. Honesty is actually our main objective. We hope to promote the truth; the truth about the fashion industry, the human experience and our reality.
We decided to call our platform Fecal Matter as a translation of our point of view regarding consumerism and materialism. Today, power is translated through how much you possess. We wanted to challenge that and present an alternative idea of power. Sometimes we spend endless of hours on our editorials, our pieces, our music and photographs, yet it’s all labeled as shit; as waste. We wanted to question the luxury market and the value of a brand name.
What are the main narratives you embrace through your work?
The quest for innovation—that is our goal. Everything is an exercise to create something new. We still don’t feel we have created something innovative to the point where it stems from nothing in the past. But we still try everyday and hope that one day we will become lucky enough to achieve our goal. That is a big essence of our work. We get very disappointed when we feel like we haven’t done something new. In consequence, this practice has given life to so many different messages that we consistently promote on a daily basis through our work such as provoking normality in hopes of waking up those who see only one perspective and offering new possibilities on how to run a business or present a perspective. It has all come from our journey through our attempts at creating something innovative. In fact, our desire to experience something new is what binds us together.
What’s behind your signature darkness and boldness? And where do we find light?
What we do isn’t dark. If anything, that is our light; the ability to see beauty within what most people would consider scary. We like to confront danger. But we must admit that a big part of what is translated through Fecal Matter is a direct link to the pain we have experienced in our lives. We’ve been bullied, harassed, isolated, rejected. Sometimes for what we look like but often times because of what we think. For Steven it has been happening since he was born, experiencing and witnessing violence first hand. In turn, there is an attraction to provoke. Everything in media is either dull without emotion, or filled with the same repetitive perspectives of beauty. Humans crave to live in somewhere clean that smells nice, not somewhere filthy and obscene. But the reality is we all live in both realities, and it is inevitable and unavoidable. It’s a part of human nature… at least we think it is.
For those who are afraid of the intensity of our work, they can connect on the technicality behind what we do and the optimism within our message. As for a personal connection, the love that we share between each other can be seen as the most relatable factor of Fecal Matter.
On a professional level, do you think there is anything that’s obscured your way?
Honesty. It has been our greatest expression, while being the most complicating element throughout our journey. People either love it or hate it. It has made the reaction to what we do quite polarizing. We lose a lot of great opportunities because of it. But we must strive for honesty, how else will censorship ever be challenged?
In our current society, where love and pain are highly exploited emotions, would you consider one or the other as either positive or negative?
We are strong believers in the idea of yin and yang; everything in life has dualities. Consequences to actions, situations and/or emotions create both extremes within the universe. It is up to one’s perspective to focus either on the positive or negative… or just accept both extremes will come with everything life has to offer. So pain and love are equals. They both produce just as much good as they produce bad. Without pain there is no love. Without both extremes, neither can exist.
As rising talents, is there anything you fear? And how do you overcome your fears?
We fear failure. We fear not achieving something truly innovative. We fear not having the ability or freedom to create. We overcome those fears by trying. It is always better when we try versus when we don’t. Perhaps, we will never actually overcome those fears, but trying might be enough to create change, which is really at the heart of what we are trying to do.