This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
----------------------------------------------- Blogger Template Style Name: Rounders 2 Designer: Douglas Bowman URL: www.stopdesign.com Date: 27 Feb 2004 ----------------------------------------------- */ body { background:#ccc; margin:0; padding:20px 10px; text-align:center; font:x-small/1.5em "Trebuchet MS",Verdana,Arial,Sans-serif; color:#333; font-size/* */:/**/small; font-size: /**/small; } /* Page Structure ----------------------------------------------- */ /* The images which help create rounded corners depend on the following widths and measurements. If you want to change these measurements, the images will also need to change. */ @media all { #content { width:740px; margin:0 auto; text-align:left; } #main { width:485px; float:left; background:#fff url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_main_bot.gif") no-repeat left bottom; margin:15px 0 0; padding:0 0 10px; color:#000; font-size:97%; line-height:1.5em; } #main2 { float:left; width:100%; background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_main_top.gif") no-repeat left top; padding:10px 0 0; } #main3 { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/rails_main.gif") repeat-y; padding:0; } #sidebar { width:240px; float:right; margin:15px 0 0; font-size:97%; line-height:1.5em; } } @media handheld { #content { width:90%; } #main { width:100%; float:none; background:#fff; } #main2 { float:none; background:none; } #main3 { background:none; } #sidebar { width:100%; float:none; } } /* Links ----------------------------------------------- */ a:link { color:red; } a:visited { color:grey; } a:hover { color:red; } a img { border-width:0; } /* Blog Header ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #header { background:red url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_cap_top.gif") no-repeat left top; margin:0 0 0; padding:8px 0 0; color:white; } #header div { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_cap_bot.gif") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 15px 8px; } } @media handheld { #header { background:#710; } #header div { background:none; } } #blog-title { margin:0; padding:10px 30px 5px; font-size:200%; line-height:1.2em; } #blog-title a { text-decoration:none; color:#fff; } #description { margin:0; padding:5px 30px 10px; font-size:94%; line-height:1.5em; } /* Posts ----------------------------------------------- */ .date-header { margin:0 28px 0 43px; font-size:85%; line-height:2em; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.2em; color:#810; } .post { margin:.3em 0 25px; padding:0 13px; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:1px 0; } .post-title { margin:0; font-size:135%; line-height:1.5em; background:url("http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/430/2743/1600/sheseesredcross.png") no-repeat 10px .5em; display:block; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:0 1px 1px; padding:2px 14px 2px 29px; color:#333; } a.title-link, .post-title strong { text-decoration:none; display:block; } a.title-link:hover { background-color:#eee; color:#000; } .post-body { border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:0 1px 1px; border-bottom-color:#fff; padding:10px 14px 1px 29px; } html>body .post-body { border-bottom-width:0; } .post p { margin:0 0 .75em; } p.post-footer { background:#eee; margin:0; padding:2px 14px 2px 29px; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:1px; border-bottom:1px solid #eee; font-size:100%; line-height:1.5em; color:#666; text-align:right; } html>body p.post-footer { border-bottom-color:transparent; } p.post-footer em { display:block; float:left; text-align:left; font-style:normal; } a.comment-link { /* IE5.0/Win doesn't apply padding to inline elements, so we hide these two declarations from it */ background/* */:/**/url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/icon_comment.gif") no-repeat 0 45%; padding-left:14px; } html>body a.comment-link { /* Respecified, for IE5/Mac's benefit */ background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/icon_comment.gif") no-repeat 0 45%; padding-left:14px; } .post img { margin:0 0 5px 0; padding:4px; border:1px solid #ccc; } blockquote { margin:.75em 0; border:1px dotted #ccc; border-width:1px 0; padding:5px 15px; color:#666; } .post blockquote p { margin:.5em 0; } /* Comments ----------------------------------------------- */ #comments { margin:-25px 13px 0; border:1px dotted #ccc; border-width:0 1px 1px; padding:20px 0 15px 0; } #comments h4 { margin:0 0 10px; padding:0 14px 2px 29px; border-bottom:1px dotted #ccc; font-size:120%; line-height:1.4em; color:red } #comments-block { margin:0 15px 0 9px; } .comment-data { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/icon_comment.gif") no-repeat 2px .3em; margin:.5em 0; padding:0 0 0 20px; color:#666; } .comment-poster { font-weight:bold; } .comment-body { margin:0 0 1.25em; padding:0 0 0 20px; } .comment-body p { margin:0 0 .5em; } .comment-timestamp { margin:0 0 .5em; padding:0 0 .75em 20px; color:#666; } .comment-timestamp a:link { color:#666; } .deleted-comment { font-style:italic; color:gray; } /* Profile ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #profile-container { background:#999 url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_prof_bot.gif") no-repeat left bottom; margin:0 0 15px; padding:0 0 10px; color:#fff; } #profile-container h2 { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_prof_top.gif") no-repeat left top; padding:10px 15px .2em; margin:0; border-width:0; font-size:115%; line-height:1.5em; color:#fff; } } @media handheld { #profile-container { background:#999; } #profile-container h2 { background:none; } } .profile-datablock { margin:0 15px .5em; border-top:1px dotted #ccc; padding-top:8px; } .profile-img {display:inline;} .profile-img img { float:left; margin:0 10px 5px 0; border:4px solid #ccc; } .profile-data strong { display:block; } #profile-container p { margin:0 15px .5em; } #profile-container .profile-textblock { clear:left; } #profile-container a { color:#fff; } .profile-link a { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/icon_profile.gif") no-repeat 0 .1em; padding-left:15px; font-weight:bold; } ul.profile-datablock { list-style-type:none; } /* Sidebar Boxes ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { .box { background:#fff url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_side_top.gif") no-repeat left top; margin:0 0 15px; padding:10px 0 0; color:#666; } .box2 { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_side_bot.gif") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 13px 8px; } } @media handheld { .box { background:#fff; } .box2 { background:none; } } .sidebar-title { margin:0; padding:0 0 .2em; border-bottom:1px dotted #fa0; font-size:115%; line-height:1.5em; color:#333; } .box ul { margin:.5em 0 1.25em; padding:0 0px; list-style:none; } .box ul li { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/icon_arrow_sm.gif") no-repeat 2px .25em; margin:0; padding:0 0 3px 16px; margin-bottom:3px; border-bottom:1px dotted #eee; line-height:1.4em; } .box p { margin:0 0 .6em; } /* Footer ----------------------------------------------- */ #footer { clear:both; margin:0; padding:15px 0 0; } @media all { #footer div { background:red url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_cap_top.gif") no-repeat left top; padding:8px 0 0; color:#fff; } #footer div div { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders2/corners_cap_bot.gif") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 15px 8px; } } @media handheld { #footer div { background:#710; } #footer div div { background:none; } } #footer hr {display:none;} #footer p {margin:0;} #footer a {color:#fff;}


confiscated childhood: afro supa hero and confiscated cabinet at the museum of childhood

It's not far from where I live, but I had never been to the V&A's Museum of Childhood before now. Crazy, huh. 

Anyway, last week I finally went to check out two shows I'd heard mentioned: Afro Supa Hero and Confiscated Cabinet

If I'm honest, the building itself shocked me a bit. And reminded me of a starker version of the Pitt Rivers Museum (which is a weird museum - another story). It was all open and noisy. I don't know why, but I was expecting more of a library, journey-type museum, rather than an (admittedly, gorgeous) open hall and with massive ceilings and balconies around the outside. 

I was also hungry at the time, so some of these opinions may be slightly skewed.

Wow, I've digressed already.

Afro Supa Hero - Jon Daniels

I loved the underlying idea behind Afro Supa Hero. I loved seeing the comics from the 1960s onwards -  I wished I could have read some of them there. I'm not even into comics that much, but there were some seemingly great action stories and ace history-based ones I wanted to peer into (especially the one about Harriet Tubman).

But the historical journey of Afro action figures and heroes was the really interesting bit. It was a relief to see a shift from their names being 'Black XYZ' to just XYZ. That's polite of everyone.

Some of the renditions of famous black characters into toys was embarrassing - you could compare the printed image on the box to the way they'd been rendered in 3D and you could tell sometimes it was just like - "eh, we'll just make White Lady Action Figure into darker skin and it'll be fine!" Cringe.  

I learned that Jean-Michel Basqiat and Lee 'Scratch' Perry have action figures!! Which is pretty rad, although i never really played with dolls (cough) and ona selfish level, I was a bit bummed that Frozone  from the Incredibles wasn't in there. But maybe he's missing for a reason. Like licensing blah blah. 
(Or maybe Jon Daniels doesn't like Frozone?)

At the end of the historical/collectible action figures was Jon Daniels' own super hero design.
And it was fly - matching mega afros, the earrings matching the goatie? red, yellow, green and black colours of africa? Loved it. 

There were mock-ups and lego versions, although I really want to see them in production. Surely Momiji dolls need a new range. I would have bought some Afro Super Hero dolls, for sure.

Well, I say that, but I couldn't afford to buy one of the cute mugs on sale, so who am I kidding ( I would like to think that the money went to Daniels himself and not back into the V&A merch pot)

But what Daniels' show highlighted, of course, was the limitations of scope in action figures and super heroes and how that perpetuates the limitation of scope of human beings. Especially human beings of colour, starting from the beginning. In childhood.

Super important issue to tackle.

And, here's where I add to the problem: I wanted to draw even more out of that show. 

I wanted to extend it into a whole show about race and childhood and toys. 
Like, looking at the Mamie Clark research from the 1960s on the colour dolls and how she changed the way race and childhood imagery was understood; it has had an influence in psychology, cultural studies, art and image-making and of course education. 

And i could totally imagine a wider scope that takes those ideas, includes the excellent ones from Daniels' work and extends even further - including makie dolls, brats, barbie, home-made toys/dolls from non-western cultures, etc.

And I wanted to see more, not because I'm culturally greedy (although there is that), but because the influence toys/dolls have on us as adults is pretty massive.  With them we learn to play, to associate, development of identity, understandings about our body and the abstraction of the internal experience to a external object in identification, and boil down our expansive selves into these very particular objects.

It would become a museum show about the history of where limitation starts. The history of where adults decide how small a box they can squeeze future adults into, in order to get the best possible outcome for current adults.

Wouldn't THAT be a cool show to see?

OK, I'm being a bit ascerbic, but I do think that, given the influence from childhood into adulthood of dolls when it comes to race and culture, it's a massive topic that deserves even more attention.

And speaking of home-made toys/dolls, 

Confiscation Cabinets - Guy Tarrant

These cabinets of confiscation were fascinating: A collection of toys/weapons/objects that have been confiscated from school children over the last 30 years.

hand-written notes, those paper-based things girls play with, knifes, flame throwers, stones, playing cards, chewing gum, etc.

It was organised according to 'age' and 'gender'. Two cabinets each for girls, two for boys. Two for lower grades and two for higher grades.

That sorting in itself intrigued me. 
Yes, there are obvious links between boys and girls of similar ages. But i think it also would be interesting to make the cabinets sortable in different ways. 
Like, actual age - see what all 9-year olds hide. 
Or chronology - all the things confiscated in 1991, or 2007. 
Maybe even by kind of school - what do grammar school kids bring and what do comprehensive kids bring?

But, back to the display at hand, it was enlightening for me, as a woman (who was previously a girl at a catholic primary and single-sex private highschool) to see what was gendered. 
So it wasn't just in my school, but girls really do use words as weapons. And vanity is a weakness (one conditioned, I argue). So much make up, cruel notes and there was a chewing gum/hair attack sample in there that was simultaneously gross and a reminder of the nature of our attack/defence tactics: long-lasting and shame-based.

Boys? Garden-variety violence. I knew it, but the image of some of the sticks and metal rods brought to highschools still made me go a little weak at the knees. How the hell you're supposed to cultivate nuanced social interaction when that's a threat, I have no idea. And the fact that men grow up to be sensitive at all? Bravo. Hats off to the sensitive ones!

A History of Childhood
I do wish shows like both of these could be seen and talked about more. Especially because, given that we all have childhoods and those become our adulthoods and the society at large, it's amazing that more people aren't fascinated with the history of the small but constant ways in which we really belittle ourselves as humans.

I know, clear reminders of painful history and the failings of the human condition is not traditionally a thing that we enjoy pondering over on a wet sunday (except if you're in a cinema), but I think I would like them to be.

Perhaps if we could see these childhoods in museums, in an abstract way, and how they project forward, we might be better able to make decisions about our own adulthoods, or any childhoods we may be in the business of influencing right now.

Afro Super Hero
14 September 2013 - 9 February 2014

Confiscation Cabinets 
9 November 2013 - 1 June 2014

At V&A Museum of Childhood
Cambridge Heath Rd, London E29PA

images pinched from the V&A Museum of Childhood site.



beyonce released another killer album today. 
having danced around my living room to grown woman the other night, i know that it is going to be amazing. 
between her and kanye at the moment, my world is sparkling with creative and pop-cultural dynamite. fireworks.*

but don't worry, this isn't one of a thousand reviews about it and her amazingess. 

it's about the fact that i haven't listened to the album yet because it's too inspiring.
yes, that sounds ridiculous.

especially because i am a fan, i am totally gassed that she's released something, the film clips are all going to be killer and i'm loving seeing my twitter timeline light up with excitement.

but right now, i don't want to be 'inspired', because that energy needs to be poured into something, a channel, a path, a way forward, and i don't have a clear one of those right now. 
and if you take energy and have no-where to put it, you end with catharsis and impotence. 
none of which are helpful to me right now. 
not to mention a waste of a shit-hot beyonce album.

because right now, i'm in an intermission.

i'm between drinks. in a holding pattern. treading water. purgatory.
although none of those idioms really describe where i'm at in my life.

i've put art down. for a while. 
i'm not convinced that it's able to do what i want it to do in the world at the moment. i'm not able to overcome the glaring conflicts in the sector, or the same-old-same-old concerns and the same old tired men people doing the same old thing. 
i'm bored of the complacency and unimpressed with the little energy there is. 

i'm also not convinced of my place in art. of my ability to execute my ideas and passions and decisions into the world in a satisfactory way.

don't just do it for the sake of it

one of my good qualities is that i have determination and perseverance. i keep going, cutting through all the muck. just keep doing it.
but if i'm not convinced by the work, or the project, or the idea - its relevance, i can't get behind it. 
i would rather preserve my energy and focus on something that resonates.

because when it is hard work, if you don't believe in it, NOTHING will get you through that hard work. and any energy from inspiration will be wasted.

it probably means i'm not going to be successful. because all those inspirational sayings talk about just keeping on keeping on. seemingly regardless of if the idea is terrible, or you're hurting people, hurting yourself or just wasting your time.

before spiritual enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. after spiritual enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

the nice thing about putting art on the shelf for a bit is that it allows me to do other stuff. to write. to pick up dancing. to watch film and theatre and to read the amazing articles i have access to in this day and age.

and to find ways to help other people doing things that have nothing to do with art or my own arts practice. i can just help see some stuff through. get things done.
i can be useful, without it having to reflect my own sense of identity in that usefulness.

beyonce reminds me that i have a stack of energy and things to say to the world. she reminds me that, when you're on a roll, go with it and work hard, believe in yourself and open up to the world. that being alive and fierce and loud and present is necessary. i'm looking forward to doing that in the near future. and in the mean time, i'm totally happy to be her stage manager.

*and don't worry if you hate it all, you don't have to convince me why, you can keep that opinion to yourself for a while.

image pinched from here:


what men really really want

xav is an artist in london, who i first met when i was chained up in a box as part of my performance space residency.

he's made this artwork/video response to the question he posed on you tube: what do you want from girls?

i could find it depressing, or aggravating. but i'm don't.
i'm sad. i know that's not how all young guys think. and the system has fucked those dudes up.

i'm also kind of relieved, because it's not just me that is seeing this trend happening up close and personal.

but it gives clarity to actively supporting young women getting educated.

if guys (like that) start finding it harder to get with an uneducated, poor, low-self-esteem, don't-talk-back, girl-as-pet and see that their cum is drying up? they'll adapt.


team kanye. team crazy.

this is an unhinged post about kanye west.

i am going to go full-wacko about how fucking amazing he is. i am going to speak in a paranoid way about how everyone loves richard branson, warren buffet, karl lagerfeld, crazy old eccentric businessmen, designers, heads of corporations and creative industries, actors and writers off their leash. unless, you know, they black. then, you gotta be all well-spoken and well coiffured and well-behaved, he's gotta get in line, dammit. 

according to you guys, he cannnot be running his mouth, talking about how you're the next big thing, or better than the last big thing. he cannot be making wild statements about how amazing he is, or how excited things could be for him and how many risks he's prepared to take for his brand, because it's not allowed.

i'm going to talk in delusional ways about the 'rebellious' label of creatives and marketing people, who find his ego too intense, but happily love jeff koons, damien hirst, ernest hemmingway, don draper, eric from true blood - a stack of other OTT creative madness types. and how it's perfectly acceptable to dumb that shit down.

well, not on my block blog. 

here are my opinions. ones that are especially unpopular with my white friends. 
it doesn't matter if you agree or not. i'm just leaving this here.

i think kanye IS the fucking greatest. 
i think he's a genius. yes, on the level with albert einstein and steve jobs.
he is out there and making things, pushing art and what's possible with creativity, extending people's expectations of music, production, love, film what 'hiphop' artist or 'black' artist is supposed to be doing. he's just continuing to extend himself and go further, longer, harder than he has before. he's michael jordan with a fucking mouth and a grill.

i think he was totally justified at MTV music awards. 
yes, i know, he was rude to taylor swift. whatever.

tell me something: how many flash mobs of that film clip have been done for t-mobile?
how many times do you hear You Belong To Me (a track i had to look up to see what it was actually called) in the club and every woman in it knows all the routines.
how many pop references are there to that film clip? saturday night live pisstakes of the routine?

beyonce made the GREATEST VIDEO OF ALL TIME and kanye interrupted a young woman's speech (a young woman who now has the sympathy from all her white empathy types who've had their feelings hurt) to draw attention to the big fucking elephant in the room, the emperor with no clothes: the fact that a young white girl who made a pretty lame-arse video won a major industry award over a strong black woman whose video went bananas the second it was released.

y'all take a business risk like that some time and still produce work. stand in the face of that white backlash* and survive without having to puff yourself up sometimes. that is balls.

i think he is on a level with nelson mandela 
(yes, that post is a hoax, but i'm going to defend it anyway because you all thought it was real for a reason and so i'm going to address those reasons)

as writer, poet and pundit musa okwonga has pointed out, mandela was not the smiling grandpa that we all know and love. he was a determined, focused man who believed in his principles.  he was willing to kill for freedom. he exposed the systematic oppression of people's daily lives and found ways to systematically undo it by undermining the current power systems.

just because he chose to not go crazy and kill his oppressors, prison guards, assasinate the entire national party and move on with more important things, like getting universal sufferage in south africa, doesn't mean he's just about forgiving people who fuck you over.

yes, the value that nelson mandela brought to millions of africans is more directly connected to political freedom than kanye west. 

but kanye is no less concerned with the creative and cultural emancipation of millions of people around the world. yes, he is also largely interested in his own creative emancipation too. but he is part of the people he wants to give the right to just make whatver the fuck they want. to be the heads of design organisations. to kick arse without having to do 'R&B' or a nice little diddy about a good guy. 
no, it doesn't look like altruism, but nelson mandela fought for armed struggle, was prepared to kill and trained in the army to get where he got too.

and you think kanye doesn't forgive arsehole white folk every day of his life? he still releases music and talks to the white press doesn't he? the fact that he spoke to jimmy kimmel again instead of sending a molotov through his window.

i consider kim kardashian to be the shrewdest business woman on the face of the earth right now and actually i'm glad they're married. 
ok, so i really didn't understand their attraction at first. especially because, well, amber rose is fucking hot. but now i get it. 

kim has a great body. and she knows that the reality of patriarchal, media-run world we live in, that is some serious capital. she has used that. she has made a business decision to use her image, her body, her iconography to play to the masses who drink it up. she sold it and everyone bought it.

if it didn't work, and that wasn't the case, she wouldn't be loaded. and featured in every fucking magazine. that woman has CONTROL over shit. 

it's not my basket, really. but it's a choice she made. she is not a victim to men and their gaze, women and our insecurity. she's playing it and that, in the business world, is ACUMEN. not immorality or sluttishness. yes, i would like her to not be feeding the patriarchal bullshit, but she isn't the only woman on the planet and patriarchy is bigger than her.

and, as he mentioned in that zane lowe interview (where i wanted to throttle zane lowe), she has money and power. of her own. 
she doesn't need it from a man. she doesn't need it from her man. 
she doesn't need to control him, or manipulate him. 
and he is so secure in his power that he isn't threatened by it. not one bit! how many men do you know who are not threatened by a woman who doesn't need him. especially given the kind of bullshit comments her accounts gets every day. and her image is all over the place. 
how many in the forbes top 100 you think can handle that? how about rockstars like mick jagger, rod stewart, powerful men like charles saatchi, anyone? 

and all the pisstaking of bound 2? you are showing us up, white-people, as petty insecure types who need 'satire' as a means to expunge our own lack of understanding and reluctance to not be at the forefront of dictating what's 'good, cool, interesting, or desirable'. 
it was laid out for us to fawn over.

it doesn't matter that he made a shit album.
anyone who remembers when 808 came out, you'll remember that everyone was OVER the auto-tune. t-pain killed it for everyone, kanye included. no-one was into it. late registration had been a HIT. it bombed.

but even if it was the worst album - he fucking came back with my beautiful dark twisted fantasy. one of the best albums of the last 5 years. seriously. he failed. and came back with a vengeance. he missed a drop shot and came back with a slam dunk over the musical equivalent of le bron james. in other instances - perhaps the socially acceptable forums for black champions like boxing or basketball, he would be a CHAMPION. even if he spent the whole time running his mouth.

it's easy to call someone crazy or an ego-maniac. 
that's like calling a woman ugly or fat. 
it's the go-to for keeping someone down at a level that you have some control over, where you feel like you're part of the game. 

but what if he's not? 
why do you/we need him to be crazy so badly? 
how does it serve you/us/humankind, for him to be 'humble?'. because steve jobs was humble?

and it's not easy to call out the awful people who truly have a bad effect on others' lives, so sometimes we find people called scapegoats.

does kanye oppress people? 
does he use people without power as a stepping stone for his own? 
does he steal ideas? 
rape/kill/decimate people or their land/livelihood? write it into law?
is he in a position of trust which he has abused just because he can?

what if the only reason you cannot stand kanye and his ranting and raving - his crazy - is because he's a rich powerful black man with lots of money and who doesn't need you and who sometimes calls it like it is? 

03 day three

a few years ago, i made a small shrine. well, the drawing of a shrine because i was still a nomad. but it was a shrine to the people - the artists who i think are great - who have perserverence and dedication and are a little bit mad, but make the world a better place by challenging us. 
patti smith, kanye west and louise bourgeois are on that shrine. 
this post is a little candle in front of that shrine.

listen, kanye is not perfect. his free use of homophobic language makes me ill and the painting of 'bitches'  in the way that he does is not cool. 

but based on the vitriol that i have seen coming from friends and colleagues lately - reposting fake interviews and fake videos of him kicking this shit out of papparazzi, slating his recent videos and posting every kind of pisstake possible, posting such angry 'crazy, overblown motherfucker' type shit about the 'crazy' on the BBC interview, the opinionated tweets of 'oh puhlease' from his last tour and reposting of the jimmy kimmel 'satire'? 

guys, you're champing at easy bits and circling in lynchmob territory.

and if you think i'm crazy after this, fine. 
i'm really ok with it. i'm happy to live in a bubble with kanye west being the greatest thing in the world and you worshipping the ground of the pope, or anthony robbins or nikki sixx or even steve jobs. same as it ever was.

*this is my favourite backlash from the huffington post: "The last thing I would want to happen to my daughter is some crazy, drunk, black guy in a leather shirt to come up and cut her off at an awards ceremony" << really? i could think of a lot worse fucking things to happen to her, sir.


Hard out Here: Sarah Lucas and Kehinde Wiley

Chicken knickers instead of Baggy Pussy.

This was originally a post about Lily Allen's Hard Out Here. But, well, who needs yet another mouthy white woman's opinion on the subject, really.*

So i'm going to do what i do better - write about art.

Specifically about two recent exhibitions speak with a little more nuance about some of the issues that Ms Allen was trying to portray in that racist piece of shit video. Oops? did i really say that.

Anyway, back to it: Sarah Lucas and Kehinde Wiley.

Sarah Lucas at the Whitechapel.

…and it's all about bitches. the images and the violence, the tawdriness of the same-ol-same-ol images of women's bodies, men's bodies - the same blah blah bullshit we're all just a little bit sick of seeing. well, maybe you're not sick of seeing. But I am. Friends of mine are. In fact, my first visit to the show was with a friend who is battling depression because of the hatred she has about her body because it doesn't 'fit' with what 'should'.

Anyway, it's there in the gallery. Just there. In all kinds of detail. with varying levels of humour, finesse, mess and message.

And it's refreshingly unsimplifed. it's all over the place.
It is probably comparitively 'sanitised' for the viewing public, but even with that in mind, it's not a perpetuation of the 'good girl' imagery. But neither is it so erratic that there isn't plenty of room to read some her messages about images of women. About the control of our own image. And who has it.

OK i have to say it. I think this image (i pinched) says some of what ms allen WAS trying to get at, with a whole lot finer detail. It is hard being that bitch.

And, having said that, Sarah Lucas is a white, middle class woman who presents a fairly singular image of woman. But for that, it's relentless. And it's consistent. She portrays the violence of gender symbolism, makes fun of the entendre - the guardsman of language - and rides it like she's going to come any second. She is unabashed.

The variety of materials is also refreshing: she's got sculptures, readymades, drawings, wallpapers, prints, mechanical wanking cocks (a material type all of its own), photography and text. And on that front, it's not singular.

It was a relief to see the savageness of her responding to the same old sexist bullshit about the female form.

Personally (currently up to my back teeth with it all), it is an exhibition which says 'it's ok honey, i feel the same way). But she's far more humourous about it. Me? i'm back on some adolescent angst, writing about it in my blog diary.

The work bursts its flow through the whole show, too. There's not enough space to spread out, and because of that, make plans to see the show twice.

I don't think the antidote is to give more space. I think the slightly-claustrophobic feeling of the show perfectly demonstrates a) the intensity of being an artist: you have a thousand things on the go at the one time and there's no space from it. You can't walk back from your life. b) same thing about being a woman. Your imagery and the intensity is relentless, there isn't a break from it. You don't get to take a 10minute breather, walk back and see how it feels to not have all of the 'requirements' and 'opinions' and 'representation' in your face. So why should you in an art gallery?

Kehinde Wiley at Stephen Friedman Gallery

The first time i saw Kehinde Wiley's work was in his Black Light book at the deutsche guggenheim in berlin. (note the caption: i still REALLY want this book.) it was €20 or something stupid cheap and i still couldn't afford it. and couldn't justify buying books when i could barely afford to eat. anyway, i'm a fan.

The show at Stephen Friedman gallery last month was his work from Jamaica. Floral, Patterned and Beautiful, Part of his ongoing series from around the world - especially places that have significance for (young male) figures unseen in the former colonies: Israel, Africa, Brazil.

This is one of my favourite: all pattern everything.

I love the OTT of it all. Yes, posed staring out in a fairly straight-up pose, but bursting with life and colour and yowsers!

Unlike previous works of his and other shows I'd heard about/seen, this show included the ladies. In fact, the gallery at #11 was all Ladies. Three large works of larger-than-life ladies, showing off their thang. I don't remember ever seeing a woman portrayed by Wiley like that - notoriously focused on the young men until now.

And, despite the regal/papal titles sometimes given to these women - or the grand floral treatment, the underlying message that comes with these paintings is that 'this is not their life'. These women are street. they are not 'portrait sitters', like the subjects Wiley refers to in his video

They are the 'bitches' in allen's song. The ones who she will never be and has never been. These are the women for who it is fuckin' hard. Oops - i went there again.

Again, the images are seriously beautiful. And they had me, as a 30-something educated white woman staring at the ornate, decorated images of young black men. hmm

This was the difficult part about the show for me, and the subject of a long chat with the gallery staff. (which i'm very glad that they were willing to have the discussion. they didn't, to their credit, ignore the obvious racial and ethical place of art/paintings/objects/viewers in what they're selling, and hide behind the 'it's just paintins, miss'.)

So, this age-old dynamic. me: western, privileged white appreciator of young, gorgeous black specimen. Not that's how I personally believed I was viewing these images, and these people, but I cannot ignore the echoes and the dynamic that had been set up. Into which i had walked and cannot avoid because of the fact that I am most of those things. Depressing.

The gorgeous patterns, the refreshingly different images of men and women surrounded by colours and framing reserved for the white elite - they're amazing and I love them. but if *I* take one home and stick it on my wall, am I not the same as the old anthopological doyenne with her specimens of 'the noble savage?'.

Argh! the mobius strip questioning of 'for whom is this art made?' 'who has the power?' drove me a bit bonkers. But in a way that I value: Is kehinde selling out young black street stylers, his own peeps, for the fodder of white folks, again. Or is he taking back that role of representing the young black gorgeous man into the hands of young black gorgeous man and the privilege white folks just get to watch, whilst they get to be immortalised. Or something of both. Or neither.

I left the show with all those complex feelings of wanting to take a shower, to dance in joy, to sleep with the next gorgeous man i saw, all desire and need to turn off all the images in my day to ignore how annoyingly complex and shit human power and relationships are.

Instead I wrote about it in my blog diary.

*here are a few excellent responses to that video:

- Deanna Rodger, poet wrote and performed a piece about it:
- Chimene Suleyman, also a poet wrote an excellent essay:
- MIA/۩ReverseColonialist۩ (@AnonFrantzfanon) and her tweet timeline from around this time https://twitter.com/AnonFrantzfanon/statuses/400411048643399680
- Bridget Minamore made an excellent storify of women on twitter: https://storify.com/bridgetminamore/lily-allen-and-satire

image credits:
Sarah Lucas, Chicken Knickers, 1997
Sarah Lucas, Bitch (detail) 1995
Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of James Hamilton, Earl of Arran’, 2013


the kindness of strangers. an ode to marcus of st. lucia.

Sit back with a cuppa. This is a story about how one man helped an old woman across the street. With added extras.

About ten days ago I had surgery.

It's a fairly basic procedure; one i've had a couple of times before. Keyhole fixing of problems on the inside. It's not a massive deal, except that I am especially restless at the moment and I am not a good patient at the best of times.

So, a few nights ago, after leaving the house just once in four days, I ventured out to fulfill an appointment - a speaking engagement of sorts. it wasn't going to be a big deal. I'd done it a stack of times before. District line from Monument to Sloane Square. I'd take it easy.

Except: service disruptions.
Packed trains, no seats, jostling, having to reach up to hold on, stop/start. and me unable to really pipe up and say 'hey - i'm not well, lemme sit down'. It wasn't an obvious injury, i was shy and, well, headphones. I also got stagefright, lost my usual bluster.

Suddenly i was quickly losing the confidence with which I usually navigate london and its frenetic tunnels. I wished I had one of those 'baby on board' badges. Even though there was no baby - it would make sense of my clutching and sensitivity.

I held out until St. James Park.
There i realised that I wasn't going to make it. Physically, or emporally. I was in a *lot* of pain and getting anxious. I scrambled out of the train, got to somewhere i could find signal (and hopefully someone who might be able to help), rang my connects to cancel and then stood. Struck dumb.

Clearly the underground isn't designed for the infirm. And because I haven't spent a gazillion years of my life here, it's the first time i'm really discovering it. I have no back-up plan. I'm like a rabbit in headlights.

I couldn't afford a cab home.  I didn't feel like i could ask my flatmate to come and get me yet. I knew that a good friend who also had a car was busy and everyone else was either at work, or about an hour a way by train.

I was still able to walk, slowly, and my stubbornness was still running the show. Besides, i was in the underground, so how hard could it be? I'll just make my way slowly back the way I came.

I realised, as the pain got worse, and I got less and less mobile, how different London is when you're not in sync with everyone. Like, really not in sync. so unsynched that it feels like you're in slow motion and watching the whole world go by.

Did i mention that the underground is not designed for the infirm? and, as such, no-one seamingly knows what to do when a young-looking white woman with a funny hair cut is shuffling along Bank station, holding onto all the rails.

They mostly just mind their business (which i was also partly grateful for), and go around. A few tuts. And a couple of young stoner girls whispering about being 'on it' and looking back at me. Thankfully I was just in pain and not 'on it' otherwise i would have been far more paranoid from then on.

Me and an old jamaican woman shuffling slowly in the opposite direction with heavy bags made eye contact and a brief nod of 'i year ya'. Solidarity in small doses, yo.

So i get to Bank DLR and, as i'm holding my guts, shuffling along the platform, a guy asks if i'm ok. He looks me right in the eye. And I say, no, not really, but thanks. And keep moving.
Because, well, i don't know what else to do. It's not clear what help I need.

Actually, it is, I really need to fast forward the world so that I'm in bed, laying down, not hurting. But i don't think this guy has that much power. Otherwise I would have jumped at him and pleaded it thus.

A point to note: I am not conditioned to say 'I'm not ok'.

I have become much more accustomed to it  over the years and often let people know when i'm feeling rubbish, or even just mildly neurotic. Heck, i can even ask for help from health professionals and some friends, when and if i'm ready.
But never to a stranger in public.

Anyway, he sees that, actually, I'm not doing well. He shadows me and sees that get on the train OK. When a fine young dude goes to grab the last seat nearby he fends him off - hey man, she's unwell.

Bless this man.

Usuallly the trip home from Bank station is a pretty quick journey. this time it was the longest I've ever had. By this stage, I gave no fucks. I knew that mr tradesman was looking at me/out for me, concerned, so i just closed my eyes and tried to absorb the pain.

Whilst also checking for phone signal.
I had been in touch with the a friend who was diverting his ways, to come and help. i had also tried both flatmates.
I was relying on the kindness of strangers. And mostly with eye contact. I wasn't talking much.

On the way through the station, down the lift and across the street, Marcus - this man's name, is making sure no-one got in my way, Asked where I was from. When I said I was Australian, he smiled.
His boss was Australian and an old tradesman of his was too - someone who took him under his wing and taught him everything.

He said "everyone says Australians are racist, but Australians are some of the most generous people I know and they reached out to me when they didn't have to"
He also said, you know, black, white, whatever, you got to be there for people. He said. And he lived.

Because this black man was the only person who had bothered to ask if i was ok in that trip.
It's like white folk act like they don't have to look after one another 'cos they think 'ah, she's white, someone's got her back'. Or  'ah, young white girl that looks a bit unconventional, walking slowly holding onto things' - she's probably out of it.

I dunno, but I saw the people of London in a new way that night. Hardened, in their own privileged box. I've been that person, I know it. This story shouldn't be unusual for me. But it is.

Anyway, Marcus got me to the cafe where i would wait for my friend. He made sure i was as OK as i could be and then headed home.

 I hope I run into him on the street again. Because I doubt that, at the time, was particularly articulate  or gracious. I probably looked like i was terrified of him - being a stubborn woman in pain.

Marcus from St Lucia, thank you. I'm incredibly grateful for your kindness.

Thank you for:

a. not dumping my arse on the street when you found out that I was Australian and, by reputation, probably racist.

b. not ignoring me because i'm a young white woman who may or may not be scared of you based on your race and all the complications that come with racism still.

c. not ignoring me because i'm a young white woman who may or may not be scared of you based on your gender and all the complications that come with male violence.

d. following you sisters' advice: treat a woman how you'd like men to treat mama. You did. You treated a complete stranger like a sister - just another a human.