Two Of A Kind: Raise The Fist

One is on a canvas tote, the other is on a jersey tee. Both say the same thing: punch up for unity


NDP fun pack 2020Punch the air: illustrations of (left) National Day Fun Pack tote by Anisah Binte Mohamed Faisal and (right) Comme des Garçons Black

The raised, closed fist as symbol of solidarity has become popular of late due, in no small part, to the still spreading and unceasing pandemic and, at the same time, the pervasive call for social change. It is, more than ever, a symbol of unity and strength. Unsurprisingly, therefore, that more than one fist is used to represent collective motivation and passion. Even among 11-year-olds. And more than just those by a primary five kid, Anisah Binte Mohamed Faisal of Haig’s Girl School, doing her bid to contribute to the illustration on a tote that is one of the goodie bags many had initially not wanted.

The visual on the left appears on one of the reported 20 designs of the National Day Fun Packs issued last week. This one caught our attention for its un-child-like depiction of five raised fists, above them the national flag appearing to flap. This could have been the work of a much older student, or a more involved social activist. But it was not. That it reflects the mood of the moment suggests the work of an artist beyond her years, or old enough to be on the same wavelength as the illustrator who created the three fists on the T-shirt from Black Comme des Garçons (right), a CDG sub-label that celebrates the founder’s love of the colour of coal.

CDG is not associated with sharing socially-aware messages on their clothes. Sure, text has been used in their various lines, but they don’t necessarily point to troubled times. Or, the call for action. But, of late, possibly pressured by the need for wokeness, they have been active in creating capsules with clear messages that align themselves with the desire to right social wrongs. First, there was the Social Justice Charity Capsule that stood up for the Black Lives Matter movement, and then, the Fearless initiative, with proceeds that go to charities that support healthcare workers.

As for the CDG Black T-shirt, we do not know if it came first. It is possible that this went into production before the other two ideas were conceived. Still, the punch-the-air image is timely. We aren’t certain about the word ‘black’ in full caps: It could be the name of the sub-label, or it could be a nod towards the BLM movement. Whichever the case, it could be worn with less activism-linked zeal. At least in this week that leads to National Day.

As an easy-to-adopt gesture and symbol, the raised fist has been brought to sharp focus following the BLM movement that came about in response to the increasing disproportionate brutality experienced by people of colour when dealing with law-enforcement personnel. However, its history goes way back—from rejections of ancien régimes to fights against oppressors to the marches of feminist movements to even the revolutionary zeal (革命精神, geming jingshen) of Mao’s China. Perhaps as a modern symbol, it could simply be the more inclusive and embracing “stronger together”, as seen through the eyes of a primary school child. Majulah Singapura.

Photos: (left) Zhao Xiangji, (right) CDG Black

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