Gareth Pugh: “the situation is abhorrent”

In response to the abuse of rights in Russia, the designer creates a dark call-to-arms film

There is a penetrating chaos to Gareth Pugh’s film for Amnesty International. A metronome stabs the mind with an unrelenting beat, soundtracking the flash of black to white image, hypnotic in its repetitiveness. Created in collaboration with filmmaker Ruth Hogben, the film is a defiant response to the abuses of human rights in Russia, supporting Amnesty International’s campaign to raise awareness of the prejudice and violence experienced by the LGBTI community.

Pugh’s call-to-arms attracted influential voices: Nick Knight has gathered respected fashion figureheads to collaborate with SHOWstudio on a series of ‘balaclava’ 30 second protest films to coincide with Pugh and Hogben’s – including Kate Moss, Stephen Jones and Knight himself.

We spoke with Gareth Pugh about his film, its symbolism and why everyone must fight against injustice.

DD: How do you feel about the situation in Russia and the messages being sent out into the world?

Gareth Pugh: The situation is abhorrent. Russian government policy has basically sanctioned a wave of hatred and animosity against the LGBTI community that simply has no place in a civilised society.

DD: Why is it important for fashion to react, respond to and fight against these issues?

Gareth Pugh: It's important for everyone to react and fight against these issues. This sort of brutality cannot be accepted, otherwise this will just be the beginning of something very dark indeed.

DD: Do you still experience prejudice here in the UK? 

Gareth Pugh: We are privileged to live in a society where tolerance is key. But it hasn't always been this way – people have had to fight for it. This project honours their sacrifices, and sends a signal to those who still suffer prejudice, that we firmly stand with them.

Dazed Digital: Can you explain the meaning behind the symbolism in the film, particularly the metronome and its beat?

Gareth Pugh: We had discovered a film on YouTube – a bit of science experiment  – in which a few dozen metronomes are all activated at once, beginning completely out of sync. Gradually, a pattern emerges and they fall entirely into unison… This struck me as a very apt and compelling image to use as a basis for this film, which is fundamentally about finding clarity in chaos.  At the heart of this project is the idea of unity and the need to speak with one voice – one voice to condemn the current situation in Russia with regards to human rights and the ongoing persecution of the LGBTI community.