TrIP Biennale Day 19: Fashionably Late by Bethany Mikell

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As a native Orlandoan, I have grown up in a city where public transit has been historically underused by large swaths of the population. I myself have rarely used public transportation in my hometown, yet I have used it almost exclusively everywhere I have traveled around the world. I lived in London briefly, and that is where my affinity for trains developed. My dad has always been a train buff, and I discovered that I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to my appreciation of subways and light rail, in particular. I love the idea of vast networks of tunnels, bridges and infrastructure moving large amounts of the population from place to place in an efficient and timely manner.

Naturally, I was very excited by the concept of Sunrail when I first heard about it. I thought, “Finally, Orlando!” I was so excited that my city would, at last, have a rail system that would serve the people quickly and more efficiently than our existing rather clunky bus system. However, I quickly learned that Sunrail was not going to run during evening and weekend hours and would mainly function as a commuter rail. My heart sank. I had been looking forward to having the option of taking a train ride out for the evening to enjoy the nightlife and have a nice dinner and drinks in areas I might not otherwise visit, due to the driving distance. I realized that my dreams of feeling like Orlando was actually growing into a “real city” were still a bit lofty, and we still have a lot of growing up to do, especially regarding our mass transit network.

While I realize implementation of light rail and overhauling of long-held, ingrained attitudes about mass transit in a city like Orlando are complicated issues, I continue to see major road and highway construction, with little focus on better and more sustainable methods of transportation that serve urban areas within our metropolitan corridor. It’s happening slowly, but as usual, Orlando is late to the party. Hence, my submission’s title.

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I will be digitally printing and screenprinting garments with photos and elements of signage from various Sunrail stations. I will then be traveling by car, bike, foot, or cab (Uber/Lyft) to areas that are served by Sunrail. My journeys will be during evening and weekend hours when Sunrail isn’t running. I will have two models with me who will be wearing the clothes, and they will be photographed enjoying the nightlife and experiencing “real Orlando” and surrounding areas, while at the same time showing how “fashionably late” Orlando is by not acknowledging that our light rail system could also be providing services for these residents as well as for a limited number of commuters.

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