YouTube is not just a repository for animal videos (although, in all honesty, I find those emotionally uplifting and worthwhile). It's also one of the primary, already existing visual archives of queer and trans culture. Because of violence and marginalization, so many of our ancestors didn't have access to the institutions that make creative work permanent or longstanding, be that publication or preservation. But, throughout the last half-century, people have documented their friends, lovers and communities performing, talking, simply existing.
In Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1929, an ambitious project tried to articulate some answers to the ‘woman question’ that modernism could not resolve. Civilized Woman was both an exhibition and a book, in which a group of avant-garde designers proposed a radical new wardrobe based on functionalist trouser suits and short hair. Civilized Woman compiled practical outfits for work, leisure and pregnancy, and placed women in rationalized domestic environments like the ‘Frankfurt Kitchen’ designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. But other than chopping off long hair and keeping house more efficiently, Civilized Woman had little to offer in the way of emancipation.
Sturm-Frauen, an exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt this winter, was a mind-blowing show of female artists working in Berlin between 1910 and 1932. I frantically snapped pix on my phone the whole way through the show. The must-have catalogue was sold out at the museum, but may still be available from the publisher. Above all, I was stunned by the work of artist Lavinia Schulz. Schulz was a wildly talented performance artist, the Mike Kelley of her time. She was so far ahead of the curve that she could barely live in her time, plagued perpetually by poverty and misunderstanding, but an artist of total brilliance and scope.
I had been fantasizing about Delos ever since the day I bought a secondhand copy of the book Eros in Greece and came across the stone phalluses of ancient Greece's party island. Delos, the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, a sanctuary where none was allowed to die nor give birth, the place of the greatest pan-Hellenic celebrations, intrigued me even more because of its sudden decline.
The Barbican looms over that quiet part of London which lies between the centre of the city and the East End. It exists in a kind of no man's land, rising up and puncturing the grey London skyline with its three even greyer concrete towers. This triptych of edifices, with its severe angles and mysterious presence, provides a stark juxtaposition to the softly familiar dome of St. Paul's Cathedral nearby.
It was the end of 2010, I’d just graduated with a BA in literature and I was feeling stuck. I didn’t read anymore; instead I trawled job sites, fudging CVs and covering letters together with experience only of working in a family bakery and a pub. I was depressed, I was lonely, I had no money and no confidence. So I dreamt up a reading group. I wrote down a vague premise, made up a name and emailed around a few bookshops and project spaces. Eleanor, of X Marks the Bökship, replied. And so we started ‘I’ve Never Read Her’, a literature project reading short fiction and essays by women, open to all. Here is the list of all the writings we have read to date:
“But these used to be women’s feet,” we thought to ourselves. We both wished we’d had the courage to say it. Wait, is it courage? Or is it readiness to respond spontaneously, head space to think beyond the task in hand of trying to buy shoes, or willingness to out ourselves as transgender?
On a lovely spring evening in Ireland, as I gaze over the fields westward, my thoughts fly to Kerry to the wondrous island of Skellig Michael a ‘never never land’ you may not get to unless the Atlantic says you can. Driving round Kerry’s south-west coast, there it suddenly rises, way out in the ocean, this 600 foot uninhabited rock mountain; once a 6th century Christian place of pilgrimage.
300 square meters of Mother Earth near Amsterdam; doing nothing; watching time go by; watching the seasons change; watching the vegetables grow and be eaten by the birds; watching the night fall, watching the sun rise; watching the insects chasing each other; watching some undefined green-grey-yellowish spots floating by in the ditch; hearing the neighbour yell; watching the leaves change from green to yellow;
Speaking of heresies, this reminds me of the publication and precursor that paved the way to open space for projects like Girls Like Us. Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics was exactly that. It was published 1977–1992 by the New York-based Heresies Collective, which included the still active feminists, queer woman, artists and writers Joan Braderman, Mary Beth Edelson, Harmony Hammond, Lucy R. Lippard and Miriam Schapiro among many others. This collective and publication was fundamental in establishing the emerging genre of feminist art and theory.
I am part of a group of people working in the arts in Brussels who are in the process of trying to maybe hopefully fingers crossed buy and renovate two floors of a building in one of the suburbs in the south of the city. Motivated, in part, by wanting to figure out a way to continue to be in a growing and changing city in a sustainable way, we will build spaces for nine individuals, couples and collaborations to live and work, with common spaces for presentations, meetings, working, and hosting guests.
Our car broke down on a trip driving south. Once B. called for assistance the three of us summed up all that could have gone wrong, and how lucky we were to have pulled over in time. To kill the time I sat down against a tree and read the paper, while L. went running up and down a road next to the highway trying to get rid of her energy.
For as long as I can remember I have had a thing for white shoes. Maybe it’s my tennis background that lays the groundwork for this fetish, but I have always owned at least two pairs of white sneakers. There’s something peculiar and exotic about wearing shoes in a colour that just asks to be messed with.
A bagel is a Jewish baked good. It’s like a mature doughnut. It’s like a doughnut with war stories. It’s like a doughnut with a salty sense of humour. It’s like a doughnut, but Jewish. It’s a long, thick roll with a hole. Making bagels is our Sunday morning ritual. You need to allow an hour for rising time. We have another ritual we fill that hour with. A very abbreviated recipe:
From a very young age, I remember the exciting and unfamiliar tug I experienced, along with an overwhelming sense of longing, when I saw for the first time the long, flowing blue hair and the stern, determined, yet sensual expressions of the androgynous animated characters on the screen...I think that is where it began.
As much as I like to get dirty, I like to take baths. After a long day walking the forest, skiing, chopping wood, reading or working at my little brokebackmountain cabin in the Oslo woods, I have an outdoor bathtub that I heat from underneath with fire. This is just a normal bathtub that I placed above a natural hole in the forest floor by the creek. It is highly recommended.
"You are not alone". The title of a Michael Jackson song. The main reason for clubbing. And why party organizing can be a field for political progress and activism. Every new party is a new possibility. And feeling is the foundation of the party. Of the body. Of moving hips, and soft lips. I believe that when bodies move, minds do too.
Wherever I am in the world, I will try to tap into a broadcast of ‘From Our Own Correspondent’, presented by one of the BBC’s most respected and long-running female documentary journalists. Kate Adie continues to tease out some of the most informative, insightful and often abstract reports for public consumption.