The couture line that Balenciaga launched this summer is another thing that has permanent residency in my brain. I think that what Demna [Gvasalia, creative director] is doing with sculpture and architecture through fashion is some of the most interesting theatre of our time. It’s like a marriage of Romantic and gothic style – it’s a bit ecclesiastical, almost monastic, and I want it all. There’s this really wonderful circular headpiece that feels like: “I’m going to service, but in the year 3021.”
Abortion is our country’s Scarlet Letter, an impassioned “A” writ large on our conscience. We shame, blame and deny women their right to self-determination to live, love and when to have or not have children. Although this January is the 45th year anniversary of the Supreme Court Ruling legalizing abortion, there have been, as of last count, 401 rollbacks across the country making it very difficult, and in many cases impossible for women to elect this choice. What can we do about this?
We can march, write articles, sign petitions, hold direct actions We can invent related hashtags like #MeToo–what greater sexual harassment in there than defining what a woman can do with her body? And we can make art. But what might art about abortion look like? What might it accomplish? These are the questions Barbara Zucker explores in “Currents: Abortion” an ambitious exhibit she curated at the A.I.R. Gallery.
Barbara Zucker, artist, writer and activist, is a co-founder of A.I.R. Gallery, established in 1972 as the first not-for-profit, artist-directed and maintained gallery for women artists in the United States.
In my interview with her, Zucker said, “Abortion is talked and written about, but there’s not much art about it. It almost seems taboo. Several artists I approached to do an artwork said “’No’.”
This exhibit is a visual compendium and unfolding of the issues, stories, meanings, and history embedded in one word: Abortion. The 70 works selected from the over 160 submissions, are the artists’ response to a series of questions posed by Zucker.
In selecting the works, Zucker said that “I didn’t know what I was looking for but I knew I didn’t want the usual tropes of hangers, nor large amounts of blood. Nothing specific.” She want
ed works that were “thought provoking, reflecting different states of mind, speaking in different voices.”
Two of A.I.R.’s three galleries, entrance and back hall, are richly filled with works in a breathtaking range of mediums: paintings, drawings, prints, etchings, photographs, collage, sculpture, mixed-media constructions, and a monitor showing several videos. Zucker doesn’t seem to impose any apparent “ordering” of the work. All media, all viewpoints, views and experiences are exhibited together, demanding equal attention–a sisterhood of Me Too. The effect is that of “a visual conversation” representing all the varied experiences women have and have had regarding abortion This not a quiet exhibit. It fairly shouts at you—you hear the different visual voices, experiences, stori
es, cries and whispers of defiance, anger, pain, sadness, longing, shame, regret, outrage __”the full catastrophe”.
Zucker believes this show is an opportunity for us to listen to artists who have chosen to give voice to their “emotions and perceptions about this subject. You will find depictions of choice, loss, and anger; of fecundity, of disease. There are images of helplessness and images of power. There is work that reaches into the past to demonstrate ways in which women used abortifacients. There is work that is pro-life as well as work that is religious.”
She observes that those who are pro-choice are as passionate as those who are not. “I believe all of us are pro-life: it is the definition of the term that is not the same. Herein lies the dilemma. How do we ever bridge this divide?”
Though much has been written about abortion, there has
not been much visual art. Through this exhibit, Zucker hopes to get people to see the visual and have it be as important as the words. Art, she believes, is a powerful bridge that can engender a kind of “visual dialogue.”
Barbara Zucker’s introduction to the exhibit profoundly states that “Art is visual listening.” She continues with “We use all of our senses to listen and to understand. In this turbulent moment in history, the ability to listen to one another has become a matter of urgency.” “Currents: Abortion” reflects these complexities and is larger than pro and con, yes and no. It goes to the heart of who we are and how we want to be as individuals and as a nation. This exhibit shows us how the personal is political.
Indira Cesarine ACT NOW
Yael Ben-Zion: Photograph Detail 2017 Cemetry at Trinity Church “In Loving Memory of All The Victims of Abortion”
Rosa Naparstek January 22, 2018
Adrienne Jenkins, Alexander Bernon, Amy Cannestra, Amy Finkbeiner, Anne Ferrer, Audrey Anastasi, Bernadette Despujols, Cali Kurlan, Catherine Hall & Meg Lipke, Charlotte Woolf, Christophe Lima, Coco Hall, Cristin Millet, Cynthia Winika, d’Anne de Simone, Dani Sigler, Danielle Siegelbaum, Deborah Wasserman, Devra Fox, Divine Williams, Dottie Attie, Elaine Angelopoulos, Elke Solomon, Ellen Jong, Eugenia Pigassiou, Gina Randazzo , Grace Burney, Greta Young, Heather Saunders & Cassandra, Heather Weathers, Ilona Granet, Indira Cesarine, Irene Gennaro, Jane Zweibel, Jessica Nissen, Julia Kim Smith , Julia Buck, Justine Walker, Karen Meersohn, Kathy Grove, Katrina Majkut, Lannie Hart, Leslie Fry, Leslie Tucker, Megan Pickering, Marie Tomanova, Martha Edelheit, Martha Fleming Ives, Maureen Connor, Mira Schor, Nadine Faraj, Nancy Hellebrand, Nancy Lasar, Nina Meledandri, Parastoo Ahoon, Pat Lasch, Perri Nerri, Rachel Lindsay, Rachel Portesi, Robin Adsit, Robin Jordan, Robin Tewes, Rosemary Meza DesPlas, Ruth Owens, Sabra Moore, Sooyeon Yun, Susan Carr, Valerie Hallier, Virginia Carey, Yael Ben Zion
Leeds Festival: Bad Boy Chiller Crew get Yorkshire bouncing
Bad Boy Chiller crew may have started out as a bit of a joke online but on Friday they provided some serious party vibes as Leeds Festival got under way.
Bradford’s notorious bassline collective got a sea of bucket hats bouncing with their infectious energy and hilarious stage presence.
The rap-dance collective brought their dads/friends onstage for a rave, while downing booze in between spitting bars.
But they were enjoying themselves for so long organisers pulled the plug.
Having overrun, the fun-loving outfit had their microphones, decks and music silenced, drawing boos from revellers as they stormed off to make room for a “No Leeds on a Dead Planet” public service video about environmental concerns around the event.
West Yorkshire Police later said they arrested two people following an incident on stage at Leeds Festival shortly after 16:00 BST on Friday.
The pair were subsequently bailed, pending further enquiries.
In recent years, the rap trio, comprised of Gareth “GK” Kelly, Kane Welsh and Sam “Clive” Robinson have have been not so quietly working their way up the bill at their home county festival, rapping over old school dance beats.
They’ve gone from starting in the BBC Music Introducing tent to one of the main stages, where they looked very at home, leading the crowd in a chorus of “oggy oggy oggy”s.
Dressed in their crispest white shirts and big red ties, the local rappers – who recently starred in their own ITV2 docu-series – raced through verses from their recent mixtape and debut album, including 450 and BMW, as well new track When It Rains, It Pours (thankfully it didn’t, as the clouds covered the Yorkshire sun for the first time on Friday).
They raced through beer, cider and vodka at an (alarmingly) equally rapid rate, as a family friend known affectionately as Kitchen Steve twirled a cane in a head-masterly fashion and Kelly’s dad Hopper, wearing a Burberry outfit, threw out some serious shapes and hip shakes.
One Twitter user commented: “Omg! Bad Boy Chiller Crew. What is this?! It’s like [Welsh act] Goldie Lookin Chain on speed. There is even a ‘Bez'”.
Robinson even appeared to have had an influence on, or at least reflect, some of the festival-goers’ fashion senses, with mullets adorning the heads of young men at Branham Park, for possibly the first time in decades.
Rap music from around the UK regions, not just the capital, has become more prominent on the bill here in recent years. “It’s tongue-in-cheek funny and unashamedly Yorkshire,” wrote the BBC’s Will Chalk about Bad Boy Chiller Crew – who recently launched a fans for foodbanks initiative – in an interview two years ago, when they were just starting their journey to where they are now.
Earlier on Friday, emo rocker Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith brought the first big singalong of the day as the crowds began to arrive in the searing heat, with one of the songs of last year, her viral hit Meet Me at the Spot.
She followed it up with a new one of her own, Hover Like a Goddess. “Every woman is a goddess,” she beamed, drawing loud cheers.
Bastille did an early set on Friday evening, having just released an extended version of their latest album Give Me the Future.
They told the BBC that performing at the double header Reading and Leeds Festivals 10 years ago in a smaller tent – and hearing one of their softer songs sung back to them with gusto – was the first time they thought they were really on to something as a band.
“We had to stop because I was it was so blown away, it just was just so overwhelming,” said singer and songwriter Dan Smith.
“That was kind of amazing moment, as particularly as back 10 years ago, Reading and Leeds was much more like rock and heavy music. So as a as a weird little cinematic indie band, and being the massive cynic that I am, I was like, ‘what’s the crowd gonna make of us?’
“So to have that first experience all those years ago was pretty surreal.”
The Leeds leg of the Bank Holiday weekender was officially opened on Thursday evening by up-and-coming Sunderland indie rocker Tom A Smith, who recently supported Sir Elton John. Afterwards he told the BBC it was “without doubt the best [gig] I’ve ever done”.
“We had mosh pits and people singing my songs back,” said Smith. “It was absolutely insane, what an experience.”
Reading and Leeds Festivals take place across two sites and will feature headline performances at each from artists including The 1975, Dave, Arctic Monkeys and Megan Thee Stallion.
On my radar: Moses Sumney’s cultural highlights
theguardian– Singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, 29, grew up between Ghana and California and studied creative writing and poetry at UCLA. His piercing falsetto and genre-defying music have brought him critical acclaim, starting with his self-recorded 2014 EP Mid-City Island, followed in 2017 by his debut album, Aromanticism, and the 2020 double album Græ. Sumney has collaborated with musicians including Bon Iver and James Blake and toured with Solange and Sufjan Stevens. His latest project is Blackalachia, a self-directed concert film created in association with WePresent, shot over two days in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, where he lives.
Selling Sunset (Netflix)
I pity anyone who hasn’t seen this show. It’s a reality show about a real estate agency in west Hollywood, and it follows the lives and deals of the people who work there, predominantly the female staff who are all ridiculously Barbie-ish – essentially “career Barbie on crack”. It’s incredible. I love reality TV – it tells us a lot about humanity. Reality shows are always inherently dated, so they’re a great capsule of the modern era.
Don’t Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty by Yeule
I don’t know what it is about this song, but I’m addicted to it. Yeule is a Singaporean artist based in London who’s kind of new on the scene, and this song is just so hypnotising – it hints and winks at hyperpop while being an absolutely heart-shattering folk tune. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of a lot of different genres, and it’s stunning. I have a lot of playlists – for driving, for chilling at night, a morning playlist, a folk playlist – and this is in all of them.
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
I’m currently reading this – I put off reading it because it looks like a self-help book – but it’s really fascinating. The author is an artist who works largely in digital art and the book is about how to free yourself from the capitalist trappings of the workforce – not necessarily saying “quit your job”, but suggesting a new path for work. It asks the question: how can we construct our identities apart from defining ourselves by what we do and by our income? It’s a very radical book, and it’s often a hard read. But it has been mind-shifting.
Western North Carolina
I’ve been travelling a lot for work, so I’ve been thinking about how much I would prefer to spend my time in western North Carolina, particularly in the mountains, where I live. I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world. I first arrived in Asheville when I was on tour and knew immediately I wanted to live here. You turn around, 360 degrees in any direction, and you’re surrounded by trees, by the sound of animals, and that’s really a rare feeling for anyone who’s spent most of their life, as I have, living in the city.
Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997)
This stars a young Jurnee Smollett, who recently had a resurgence with Lovecraft Country. She’s 10 years old in the film, which is set in a fictional small town in Louisiana. Samuel L Jackson stars as the patriarch of the family, who is maybe cheating on his wife, his daughter sets out to kill him and punish him, perhaps through witchcraft. It was incredibly critically acclaimed and subsequently snubbed by every major award ceremony. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking film. I first saw it last year and I think about it every day.
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