In the months that preceded the global spread of COVID-19, a series of airborne events transformed the atmosphere of the Indo-Pacific region; the bushfire smoke on the East coast of Australia, the tear gas used in the Santiago de Chile and Hong Kong protests, the Indian Supreme Court ruling on Delhi’s pollution failures, and activists covering iconic statues with respirators across Johannesburg and Pretoria. All these incidents map the political struggles taking place in the region’s air, triggering a proliferation of masked faces avant la lettre.

The publication Folk Costumes, Indo-Pacific Air is an account of the region’s masked state. It brings together culturally and geographically diverse case studies exploring air’s effects on the body to describe the emergent wearable architectures it produces. Considered as folk costumes, these wearables are socio-technical constructions that mediate our relationship with the environment—they negotiate our daily struggles, emancipatory efforts, and emotional inner-lives. Discussing air as a political matter, the book collects contributions by scientists, writers, historians, architects, photographers, and dilettantes, encouraging readers to fly freely between visual and conceptual affinities to create a map of a region in the making.

Edited by Urtzi Grau and Guillermo Fernández-Abascal with contributions by Dean Cross, Hamish McIntosh, Peter McNeil,Hélène Frichot,La Escuela Nunca y Otros Futuros,Lidia Morawska, Juan Elvira, Matthew Connors, Ricarda Bigolin, Peter Irga and Fraser Torpy, Sharbendu De, Enoch Cheng, Samaneh Moafi, Sumayya Vally,Matteo Dal Vera, and Achille Mbembe.

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