Shukri Lawrence’s story should inspire all of us to live our truths to the fullest. The 18-year-old queer Palestinian artist and designer is expressing his full self amid conservative mindsets and Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just a fraction of that kind of adversity would be enough to break some. But Lawrence has perservered and has created a clothing brand, tRASHY CLOTHING, that seems like it would be right up M.I.A.’s street. If you look at how he’s presented his clothing on his site–which features photography with a collage aesthetic–plus the critiques of excess and material wealth woven into his designs, you’d wonder how long it will take before someone like M.I.A.–who is always about post-post-modern kitsch and art school sensibilities–wears some of his pieces.
Matthew Whitehouse interviewed Lawrence for I-D. Here are three big moments from the interview.
On growing up in Israeli-occupied Palestine, including his family telling him to tell strangers they were Jordanian for safety:
“I only understood the significance of all of tthat when I grew older, experiencing the conflict daily. You can feel the tension fear, and pain in the air of Jerusalem. I try every day to stay away from trouble because I know I will regret the outcome.”
The purpose of @thetrashyclothing is to invite dialogue and change into our daily lives. To break stereotypes put upon the Middle East and to provoke bigotry. I as a Palestinian, want to raise awareness to the Middle East in modern pop culture. I do not mean to offend any religion. My designs’ messages are shared through the style of internet culture which may offend some individuals; I do not intend to offend but to defend. With tRASHY CLOTHING I am hoping to help the Middle East in any way possible.
On how he keeps the willpower to keep creating and being himself amid danger::
“As long as you surround yourself with people that inspire you to keep going then you’re safe. In terms of societal expectations within my community, it’s hard to express myself freely in public because I live in a conservative place. This is where the internet comes in as a safe place for me to express myself with no censorship.”
His life goal::
“I’m trying to showcase the hidden, the misrepresented and the creatives of the Middle East. We aren’t all war and terror, we have a lot to say, we have experiences and stories to share, cultures to celebrate and most importantly an ambition for life.