Goldsmiths Design Festival 2017: Ingvild Augestad explores identities and labels

Ingvild Bjertnæs Augestad’s graduation project from the MA in Design: Critical Practice aims to spread knowledge about gender identity by telling stories of transgender people, through an organisation called LABELLED:

“I have designed a platform for communication about a non-traditional perception of gender. I created different examples of communication tools through the strategy of telling and gathering stories from all kinds of people, with a focus on transgender people. LABELLED is the organisation and it is supposed to publish, for example, postcards with facts about a non-traditional gender perception, engaging you to write down your own story and send it back to the organisation. There are also school-kits for collecting information from children, which put them in a situation of thinking about differences and identity, and how unique they are, because everyone is different. There are also the LABELLED talks, seminars where the organisation has set up a frame for what kind of subjects are important to different audiences, such as nurses or doctors. There are the posters, which are telling stories of gender fluid people through pictures and text. The aim of the organisation LABELLED is to keep a positive attitude, and to make people feel engaged and surprised.

LABELLED´s home page is the main platform where audiences can reach the organisation. It contains the same information that you will get through posters, as well as the beginning point of different campaigns. It’s looking to break down the boundaries between genders, and make audiences able to play with gender instead of seeing it as a locked-down non-subject. For example, audiences are encouraged to write down their own label, because if everyone shows their label, the negative aspect of having a label will disappear. The #Imlabelled campaign is aiming to do the same thing on Instagram. So, it’s actually all about telling stories, so many stories that people see the fact that everyone is different.”

On how the project started:

“Before I took this course, I studied graphic design in Norway, I took my BA there, and I also had one year studying politics and one year studying photography. I think I’ve always been interested in the subject of human rights and how I can be a part of changing the world to the better in situations where the government is treating certain groups of people badly. During my BA, I was doing research on Norwegian laws and discrimination. Among the things that shocked me was a law that existed in Norway until 2016, which required sterilisation in order to change gender legally (passports and other identity papers). At that time, I made a campaign and it surprised so many people who did not know about this situation. People said things like “why didn’t I know about this? How could I be a Norwegian and not know that the Norwegian government forced people to sterilisation?” It sounds like something 100 years back in time.

So I saw a need for information about gender identity and when I got to Goldsmiths, I kept on working on the subject. I started talking to many transgender people back home, but also my network there, and I saw how the issues they are faced with are caused by lack of knowledge in the rest of the population. This was the start of the platform (LABELLED) that spreads information.

labelled

The reaction so far has been really good, and I think the more I talk to people the more I get encouraged to go on with it. I want to continue collaborating with Jeanette, one of the people who shared their stories, perhaps on future seminars. The plan now is to realise this and truly make the organisation for knowledge and identity freedom. “