Congratulations and Celebrations is a project launched in 2015 by artist Ellen Lesperance. Through the calendar on this website’s home page, anyone can check out a sweater emblazoned with a labrys (or battle-axe) symbol and anticipate receiving it in the mail, roundtrip shipping paid. The sweater is a replica knit by Lesperance; it is modeled after one worn in a photograph she found of an anonymous 1980s-era peace activist protesting at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp against nuclear weaponry and war (see image above).
Congratulationsandcelebrations.org is designed to encourage and support courageous acts by members of the populace! It asks you to consider what it means to engage in an act of courage, and then emboldens that act by loaning you a type of power object to wear for its performance. Since the project’s inception in September of 2015, approximately 100 people have checked out the garment and submitted photographs of themselves acting courageously in a world of marked social and political unrest. In doing so, they have also — in many ways — tracked the issues surrounding our contemporary lives as citizens in this nation, modeling progressive citizenry in relation to: body positivity movements, reproductive rights, LGBTQA issues, the Flint water crisis, prison reform, Islamophobia, the Black Lives Matter movement, workers’ rights, public breastfeeding, ecological activism, immigration, the 2016 election, and many more topics.
The project’s Instagram feed @congratulationsandcelebrations has turned into a repository for both the images and the renters’ words as they work towards inclusive and positive ethics in their respective communities. Thank you for your interest in this project!
Special Thanks To: Participation in congratulationsandcelebrations.org is free! The sweater is based out of Portland, Oregon, but currently any nationwide renter can check out the sweater and anticipate receiving it via Priority mail with roundtrip shipping paid thanks to a grant from the Precipice Fund, part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program. The project was initially made possible thanks to a research travel grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s “Artist-as-Activist” program and the Oregon Arts Commission.
2016 Highlights / Jen Kabat / Frieze: https://frieze.com/article/2016-highlights-jennifer-kabat
Exhibition Review / June 27, 2016 / Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-ellen-lesperance-helen-mirra-20160624-snap-htmlstory.html