‘Self-portrait 3’, 2003 © Brenda Goodman,
I have stepped upon shifts and moves. Landscapes tumble I am bleeding. And I am falling. And I am trying to hold happiness courses through my rippling veins at the utter it all.
Confusion is hope. On its basis we can build communities of imperfection.
Confusion is fundamental to navigate the feminisms, their maze of experiences and standpoints. Confusion is a courtship of identity, whereby whom I’m with and where I’m at change how I identify in the world and with myself. Critique begins in confusion.
Confusion is in the standard discourse rendered as that which is “not yet understood”. Confusion may be legitimising the current system. The system may be using confusion strategically to survive.
The shard that around me. And on. And a wild abandonment of
A DEFINITION BY HYSTERIA COLLECTIVE
Gia Bar贸n, Lobas Furiosas, 2014 漏 Lobas Furiosas
VIRAL SINTHOMOSEXUALITY: TOWARDS A POST-HUMAN SEXUAL POLITICS AN ESSAY BY THE ABSENTOLOGY COLLECTIVE … Early Victorian photograph
The reproduction of heteronormativity may be broken by the sinthomosexual uprising. In this essay, we hope to show how sinthomosexuality as a concept can help ground a post-anthropocentric theory of society. One important element of Lee Edelman’s discourse, the author who introduced the term “sinthomosexual” into queer studies, is the negation of anthropocentrism (Edelman 2004). Our essay seeks to draw on the viral power of this non-anthropocentric term and contribute to the ongoing construction of post-human sexual assemblages. Our discourse seeks to connect more generally to social theories that transcend anthropocentrism (Latour 1993). Judith (Jane/Jack) Halberstam argues that queer studies must integrate into itself a myriad of non-human sexual assemblages, unusual pairings, and activities. We must, he states, make room for “transsexual fish, hermaphroditic hyenas, non-monogamous birds, and homosexual lizards” in speaking of sexuality (Halberstam 2011: 39). Sinthomosexuality, for Edelman, is sexual and political praxis that denies the appeal of reproduction, sexuality that explicitly or implicitly founded upon the rejection of any future. (Edelman 2004: 35) This kind of sexual practice would, we argue, constitute a refutation of the inevitability of social reproduction.
status of passive victim. This passivity has, as Halberstam notes, a radicalism that may be conducive to the undermining of heteronormative institutions (Halberstam 2011: 88). Otherness could very well be our own victimisation. The meeting with the Other can often be fatal to the Self, as the meeting is always unequal. We are less than the world around us. The birds have access to a kind of sadistic violence, a jouissance that destroys the institutions of heterosexual romance and reproduction, while also, and significantly, erasing the Child. Edelman summarises the birds-as-sinthomosexuals trope in the following section:
It is no accident that in his analysis of sinthomosexuality, Edelman reads Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds as an allegory of sinthomosexuality’s non-politics. The birds symbolise “synthomosexual resistance” against the oppressive constraints of heteronormativity, subversive agents that “wipe the smile off Melanie’s face” (Edelman 2004: 127). Through their attack upon the human characters, the birds invade and occupy the screen; they fly without giving “a flying fuck” for the human presences obviated by their advent (Edelman 2004: 132). Our own human arrogance is reduced by bearing witness to this non-human invasion, to the point where every single one of us is reduced to the
The meaning transmitted by the bird-sinthomosexuals is beyond all human signification. Sinthomosexuality transcends signification, for the power of the Symbol resides in repetition engendered by social conditions, and this is precisely what sinthomosexuals fail to commit themselves to. (Edelman 2004: 105) These wild, feathered nonhumans seek to destroy the very basis of (human) intelligibility. They debilitate intelligibility, until the entire screen becomes black with the feathers of crows. Initially, in the context of heterosexual patterns of sociability, to be a sinthomosexual is to be ostracised, to be labelled as a misfit, as it made apparent by the labelling of Scrooge as
Insofar as the birds bear the burden of sinthomosexuality, which aims to dissociate heteronormativity from its own implication in the drive, it would, in fact, be more accurate to say that the meaning of homosexuality is determined by what the film represents in them: the violent undoing of meaning, the loss of identity and coherence, the unnatural access to jouissance, which find their perfect expression in the slogan devised by Hitchcock himself for the movie’s promotion, “The Birds is coming.” (Edelman 2004: 132)
“wretched outcast” by Charles Dickens and Victorian society in general. (Edelman 2004: 44) Edelman’s Scrooge is the outcast, the one without place. Nevertheless, labelling has the paradoxical effect of uniting these outcasts into one organisational unit, the seething armies of birds that erase society, the very possibility of any society and social reproduction. The meaning transmitted by the bird-sinthomosexuals is beyond all human signification. Sinthomosexuality transcends signification, for the power of the Symbol resides in repetition engendered by social conditions, and this is precisely what sinthomosexuals fail to commit themselves to. (Edelman 2004: 105) These wild, feathered nonhumans seek to destroy the very basis of (human) intelligibility. They debilitate intelligibility, until the entire screen becomes black with the feathers of crows. Initially, in the context of heterosexual patterns of sociability, to be a sinthomosexual is to be ostracised, to be labelled as a misfit, as it made apparent by the labelling of Scrooge as “wretched outcast” by Charles Dickens and Victorian society in general. (Edelman 2004: 44) Edelman’s Scrooge is the outcast, the one without place. Nevertheless, labelling has the paradoxical effect of uniting these outcasts into one organisational unit, the seething armies of birds that erase society, the very possibility of any society and social reproduction. When homosexuality, as one particular form of sinthomosexuality, enters “the field of vision,” it can trigger “a powerful disruption of that field by virtue of its uncontrollably figuralizing effects” (Edelman 1994: 168). Insofar as it rejects allegorisation as a somewhat different, but nevertheless fundamentally conformist, form of sociability, homosexuality can remain “bereft of the master trope of difference” (Edelman 1994: 104). The subversive and revolutionary potentiality of alternative sexual assemblages lies precisely in their bereftness and bereavement, their agonizing lack of difference. Within the bird-swarm, there cannot be differentiation; the viewer fails to differentiate one bird from another. It is a consequence of Edelman’s negative queerness that the reproduction of the symbolic must be rejected. Identity, in his view, must be liberated from its bind to futurity, for it is belief in the utility of
reproduction that keeps the entire heteronormative institutional system intact (Edelman 2004: 13-4). To stand outside the logic of symbolic reproduction, one need not be, strictly speaking, a member of some sexual minority (Edelman 2004: 17). The minoritarian element of sinthomosexual identity stems, rather, from its radical rejection of reproductive logic. It is a stand, so to speak, that situates itself on a groundless ground. Sinthomosexual praxis is groundless, for it is not predicated upon illusions of futurity. In Edelman’s view, queerness has nothing to offer, and this is precisely what constitutes its allure. (Edelman 2004: 31) Another consequence of Edelman’s thinking is the impossibility of any revolutionary “subject.” The sexual alternative outlines by Edelman and Lauren Berlant in Sex, or the Unbearable is a “sex without optimism” (Berlant & Edelman 2014). This hypothetical form of sexuality is a polymorphic entity that undoes and destroys the personality as such, as well as any subject of sexuality and sexual politics (Berlant & Edelman 2014: 4). According to this approach, the subject of sexuality is radically non-sovereign, and this non-sovereignty may be harnessed to accentuate the enjoyability of sexual stimulation. Libidinality is, in Edelman’s words, “the shock of discontinuity and the encounter with nonknowledge” (ibid). In another section of Berlant and Edelman’s dialogue, we find an interpretation of Larry Johnson’s photograph, Untitled (Ass) (Berlant and Edelman 2014: 16). What interests us is the donkey-as-ass, whose rear end is erased by an immense human hand (a fist, perhaps?). The fist belongs to the artist, who grips an unmistakably phallicised pencil. The image is interpreted by Edelman as a kind of performance that, by way of its multidimensionality (the photograph is composed of a hand erasing a drawing of a donkey), erases the primordially non-xistent fictionality of the donkey’s asshole: The asshole is what the eraser at once erases and points out. Expunging from visibility what it directs the eye to take in, the eraser here enacts the intertwining of encounter and relation, negativity and attachment, which is why it can be seen as variously penetrating, concealing, or erasing the asshole, and with it, the donkey’s
ass, and, by extension, the donkey itself as ass. (Berlant and Edelman 2014: 29) Erasure is not simply pure destruction, but the radical recoding of that which never was given in the first place. In this instance of erasure, the asshole as object of desire is effaced and, through this act, revealed as empty, a hollowness without ontological relevance. Another interesting instance of recoding is the example of the tattoo. The tattoo is not merely a sign that has been engraved upon the body, a mere reinscription of some corporeality, but also, because of the legibility it introduces into the world, it is also formative of a community capable of reading the code. Tim Dean has identified an extraordinary and extreme form of tattooing in his masterful study, Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking, which examines deliberate infection by HIV-infected sperm (Dean 2009). The homosexual men who subscribe to seroconversive praxis define HIV as a community-building substantiality: Gay men have discovered that one of the things they can do with HIV is use it to create solidarity and form communities. The “bareback community” is not merely a derivation or subset of the “gay community,” based solely on imaginary identification and symbolic affiliation, since barebackers repeatedly cement communal relations through acts of viral exchange. HIV transmission has the potential to create social bonds that are both symbolic and material; membership is etched into the body like a tattoo. (Dean 2009: 77) The “gift” which is the virus is chiselled irrevocably onto the internal surfaces of the body. In bareback narratives, HIV is an ambivalent gift, but also the concrete materiality, the concretion of a relationality-without-mutuality. Once received, the HIV cannot be returned, only transmitted. This innate lack of recompense is the reason Dean states that such behaviour, strictly speaking, fulfils the requirements of ethical exemplariness, at least insofar as both parties agree to the seroconversion voluntarily (Dean 2009: 79). Only the gift given without hope of recompense may be said to be purely exemplary (ibid).
Anything we give and receive willingly can be interpreted as a gift. We ourselves interpret the bareback subculture as a form of community centered around the acceptance of finitude. In Dean’s view, this subculture is a kind of embrace of finitude, a rejection of modernity and modern medicalisation of a death that is, for all intents and purposes, inevitable (Dean 2009: 66). Unlimited intimacy is a striving for communion that is also an anti-modern praxis, an inoperative performativity that rejects the very logic of operativity (ibid). An important metaphor of mainstream homosexual discourse and seroconversive praxis in general is breeding. To breed is to impregnate and, true enough, the passive anal acceptance of “positive” sperm brings with it, to certain subcultural participants, a sense of wholeness and pregnancy (Dean 2009: 87–88). Viral impregnation gives birth to new narratives and kinship relations, as the chain of infection unites several individuals (including the living and the dead) into one community. Dean’s integration of a nonanthropomorphic actant into the debate resembles Edelman and Halberstam’s invocations of nonhuman queers. Similarly to Edelman and Halberstam’s invocations of bird swarms and transsexual animals, Dean focuses on HIV as non-human actant: Not only an ambiguous gift, HIV fulfils several roles in the new narratives that gay men are creating. As a putative object of exchange, it allows men to bond with each other; as a shared substance, it permits those bonds to be conceived in kinship terms, thereby materializing a sense of brotherhood. In view of HIV’s role as an object of exchange, we might say that cum swapping represents the form that homosocial bonding takes among gay men. (Dean 2009: 78) Cumswapping is the cyclical exchange that forms the basis of this particular community. It cannot be overemphasised that the centre-of-gravity of this assemblage is the virus itself, the object of exchange, the gift that focuses social relations around itself. HIV is the substance that connects the living with the dead; the undead virus ceaselessly breeds new life, impregnating myriads of assholes daily. The homosocial ties engendered by the overcoding presence
of HIV convey “the impression (...) that a culture’s elders are transmitting to the younger generation a material substance along with their wisdom and experience” (Dean 2009: 83). It is, furthermore, a brotherhood within which the infected are brought together, connected to a multitude of bodies, so much so that the deepest internalities of their bodies are fused into one body, the body of the seroconverted One: It is the fact that viruses are not biologically alive that facilitates their immortality and enables them to be imagined not only as the offspring of a human mating but also as the bearers of an imperishable connection. The virus itself permits unlimited intimacy, in the sense that it traces the persistence of multiple prior bodily contacts in the present moment. Thus the virus may be considered a particular form of memory, one that offers an effective way of maintaining certain relations with the dead. (Dean 2009: 88) The meeting with alterity is a fatal connection, a submergence in negativity that nevertheless gives birth to ‘imperishable connections,’ nearly infinite chains of seroconversion. Seroconversion is also the collapsing of corporeal boundaries. This undermining and ungrounding is an ecstatic release from the Self; it is essentially release as such, which is the real object of viral exchange and HIV-positivist fetishisation. Once exposed to alterity, the body becomes defenseless, an exercise in vulnerability, in spite of the fact that the techno-industrial complex is fully prepared to keep alive even those who are already dead, so to speak. Consumer society is really an accumulatory society, as it is predicated on the maintenance of individuated selves. The logic of voluntary HIV infection rejects any accumulatory logic in favour of complete (self)dissipation through “internal tattooing” (Dean 2009: 172).
the unparalleled gratification of destroying oneself. Intimacy, in Bataille’s discourse, holds in reserve something foreign from the manifested world, “the moment of transgression” (Bataille 1991 : 58). Seroconversion is a festivity, for it conforms to what Bataille terms “the cessation of work, the unrestrained consumption of (...) products” (Bataille 1991 : 90). Ritual consumption is the unworking of production. Viral community is an assemblage organised around the unworking embodied by subversive, anti-human materiality (Dean 2009: 80). As against the modern attempts to marginalise death, the thought of finitude finds its expression in a concrete subcultural praxis and a negative, anti-vitalistic non-essentialism (Dean 2009: 66). In the particular section of the bareback community discussed by Dean, death is not marginalised, but accepted and received. As a consequence, theories of queer negativity may help us reconceptualise sociality and help us imagine a post-human community grounded on the acceptance of finitude. REFERENCES Bataille, Georges (1991 (1949)) The Accursed Share. Vol. 1 (New York: Zone Books) Berlant, Lauren and Edelman, Lee (2014) Sex, or the Unbearable (Durham and London: Duke University Press) Dean, Tim (2009) Unlimited Intimacy. Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) Edelman, Lee (2004) No Future. Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham and London: Duke University Press) Edelman, Lee (1994) Homographesis. Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory (London and New York: Routledge) Halberstam, Judith (2011) The Queer Art of Failure (Durham and London: Duke University Press)
As Georges Bataille writes, “the gift is itself the renunciation, the prohibition of immediate, unreserved, animal gratification” (Bataille 1991 : 65). What we may see in the introduction of HIV-positive semen into the body is a reversal of gifting: to receive HIV is to embrace immediate, unreserved gratification,
Latour, Bruno (1993) We Have Never Been Modern (Cambridge: Harvard University Press)
Lola Flash, ‘dean’ from [sur]passing © Lola Flash
DIGITAL HYSTERIA A PROPOSAL ON VIOLENCE AND HUMANISM BY RAMON AMARO
Towards the end of World War II, between November 1944 and December 1945, an experiment was conducted to measure the physiological and psychological effects of extended starvation. Prior to the war, little was known about the effects of famine and how to alleviate it in a post-war context, yet Allied forces were faced with the enormous task of feeding millions of starving civilians and concentration camp prisoners back to health. To learn how to restore their health a team of private citizens at the University of Minnesota’s Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene began what is known as the Minnesota Starvation Experiment to investigate the minimum number of calories needed to treat famished war victims. The study involved a three-month control period, followed by six months of “semi-starvation”, and an additional three months of re-feeding. The objective was to mimic the process of weight loss during a famine , marked by a loss of 24 percent of pre-starvation body weight. The study drew from observations of starvation victims in the Warsaw Ghetto, which saw cases of weight loss at 30 to 50 percent at death (Russell, 2005; Kalm and Semba, 2005). A controlled diet of brown bread, potatoes, cereals, turnips and cabbage, coupled with occasional meats, butter and sugar, was administered to 36 test subjects. Interestingly, the subjects were all conscientious objectors to the war: Quakers and Mennonites and all men. And although they knew they would be subjected to ‘a long period of discomfort, severe restriction of personal freedom, and some real hazard,’ (as quoted in Russell, 2005: 68), the men told researchers that they sought to participate the experiment as an alternative to combat or imprisonment, having previously refused to register for the draft. One test subject noted, “I am proud of what I did. My protruding ribs were my battle scars…It was something great, something incomprehensible” (as
quoted in Russell, 2005: 68). Another remarked that joining the experiment was more than a war time responsibility, but a means to provide a sense of collective belonging: “[W]hat finally got under my skin more than anything else [was] the sense of not sharing the fate of one’s generation but of sort of coasting alongside all of that; you couldn’t feel you were part of anything terribly significant in what you were doing” (as quoted in Russell, 2005: 69). For this subject, any objection to taking another human life appears independent of offering one’s own in service of a collective sense of nationalism and duty. Much of what he illustrates is violence as being representational of not just national identity, but a demonstrable check on one’s citizenship, whereby the individual is allowed nonviolence only in as much as they are willing to comply with nationalist efforts. It is clear from these accounts that the boundaries between violence and the individual are obscure at best. In the logic of violence, any separation between the individual’s sense of self, belonging or patriotism is visible in their choice of how best to engage in their own potential demise, whether that be in mandates of combat, confinement or in this case, voluntary starvation. Also apparent in this description are the tensions that arise between the body and ecologies of war in which individual health rests in subservience to wider cultural sentiments. Of the test subjects, nature and science author Sharman Apt Russell (2005: 69) writes: Partly out of the desire to share the fate of their generation, conscientious objectors became medical guinea pigs. They wore lice-infested underwear in order to test insecticide sprays and powders. They were deliberately infected with typhus and malaria and pneumonia. They ingested feces as part of a hepatitis study. ...
They were willingly too hot, too cold, anemic, jaundiced, feverish, itchy.
That the experiment sought to improve the conditions of the post-war civilians and prisoners by testing the limits of harm on others is illustrative in itself. Throughout her study of the Minnesota case, Russell suggests that disengagement with war is futile as the subjection of the body to extreme physiological and psychological duress is either determined explicitly by the conditions of combat or by one’s subjugation to patriotism, including the consequences of pacifism. This extends to the objectification of bodily response – in this case, hunger – and the willingness of the test subjects to dispose of and abstract self-nourishment in exchange for a sense of national belonging. By the end of the experiment, the Minnesota researchers identified just how many daily calories were required to restore the body’s physical functions to normal levels after semi-starvation: 4,000. However, most of the test subjects suffered some form of severe and unquantifiable damage. Physical symptoms included what one would imagine starvation to look like: thin faces, pronounced cheekbones, sharp clavicles, protruding ribs, baggy knees, hanging skin, stick thin legs, weakened muscle tone and posture, edema, shrunken hearts and irreversible shrinkage of vertebral thickness. The test subjects also experienced depression, suicidal thoughts, violent tendencies, hypochondriasis, delusions, schizophrenia, psychotic episodes and “hysteria”. Hysteria is one of the oldest described conditions in the history of medicine (Micale, 1995; 2008). Hysteria is medically understood to be a pathological phenomenon. In Greco-Roman medical writing, it was theorized to be induced by the female reproductive system – specifically, the uterus – when dislocated, inactive or starved from sexual dissatisfaction or inactivity (ibid.). According to Hippocratic tradition, it was believed that the appearance of disharmony produced by some erratic and mysterious physical symptoms could be alleviated by massages of the pelvic area, ovarian pressure, and other pelvic treatments. Later views by
Charcot and Freud characterised hysteria as the conversion of psychological stress into physical symptoms or a change in spatial-temporal awareness (see Micale, 1995; Micale, 2008). However, more recent (and notably more gender aware) treatments of hysteria by British cultural historian Richard Webster dispute these claims. Webster (1996: 139) associates hysteria with ‘any symptom or abnormal pattern of behaviour for which there is no apparent organic pathology and which is therefore believed to be a product of emotional distress, anxiety or some other psychological cause’. Webster makes an important distinction between the physical and emotional states of the body and diagnosis of the unexplained. Whereas Freud located the origin of unexplained physical symptoms in the subject’s emotional realm, Webster accounts for the effects of external phenomenon on the state of individual well-being. In his essay, “Hysteria, medicine and misdiagnosis”, Webster writes: Those who propose that hysteria might be an entirely unnecessary concept readily accept that it is sometimes difficult to find an organic pathology behind certain physical symptoms. … Since, in the current usage of the concept, this is tantamount to claiming that a particular patient is suffering from physical symptoms which cannot be explained, it would be much better, in the view of some thoughtful psychiatrists and neurologists, if the term ‘hysteria’ were abandoned completely (Webster, no date). As much as Webster is willing to question the reduction of unexplained phenomenon into generalized medical classifications, he appears overly concerned with the omniscient attitudes of the medical profession and the shortcoming of medical misdiagnosis, or what he calls a diagnostic darkness (ibid.). What is overshadowed in his attempt to liberate the symptoms of the hysteric from misrecognition are more complete acknowledgements of the consequences of freeing bodily experiences from recognition and categorisation. Left unresolved is an understanding of the phenomenon that is both independent of the body, yet very much incorporated into the way the body reacts to its environment.
Crucial here is the realization that within the complex dualities that Webster is trying to avoid, the body (the hysteric or the Other; the properly or misdiagnosed; or in the leading case, the healthy or unhealthy) and its environment are not separate entities but one in their shared influence on each other. For instance, the willingness of the hunger study subjects to disengage from direct violence yet accelerate and produce the conditions of warfare within their own bodies is illustrative of the limits of the subject’s opportunity for decision-making in environments of conflict. This is not to avoid the influence of oppressive and reductive mechanisms like violence, but to call attention to the interrelation between how the body responds to the world and how the world responds to it, whether it be by direct or indirect engagement with war. In this way, hysteria is no more of an unexplained phenomenon than an articulation of the body’s surroundings. Russell writes: The body is a circle of messages: communication, feedback, updates. Hunger and satiety are the most basic of these. Every day, we learn more about how this system works. We know what hormones run through the blood screaming “Eat!” We know which ones follow murmuring “Enough.”... We know exactly what to do (Russell, 2005: 82).
These corporeal sensitivities (or disengagements) bring into question the mechanisms by which certain bodily sensations are activated and articulated by their environments, not to mention how specific interactions within the logics of social contribution supersede any direct relationship with disruptive stimuli like person-to-person conflict. An abstract-ness exists here where the individual’s willingness to participate is inconsequential in terms of the latent effects of pervasive cultural ideologies, whether they be war, surveillance, security, or others. So if the body is a mechanism of communication, feedback and updates as Russell states, then how can we position ourselves within the pervasiveness of duress? Do our bodies remain in constant states of
‘certain uncertainty’, as Franz Fanon would claim, in relation to dominant logics such as war (Fanon, 1967: 110)? And more importantly, what would a new humanism look like in the face of other types of contemporary violence? An object in this world To begin to answer these questions is to attempt to isolate the body from the world. Whether these attempts are made through modes of violence, starvation or technologies that can collectively enable the previous two is of little consequence against a hysterical view of human relationships. Beyond the pathological, hysteria offers an ecological space to consider the modalities of social order and deviations from normalised behaviours. Relations in these systems allow both individual and collective modes of deviancy to enter into complex environments without prescription or prediction. Such environs are present from local to international levels in the forms of bullying, racism, race-based domination, sexual violence, anti-queer sentiments and a myriad of other modes. What the individual is faced with are not just the microaggressions based on group belonging, but expectations for the individual to demonstrate authenticity as a pre-condition for their belonging in the first place. Instead, dichotomies of repression versus visibility like the ‘war on terror’, unrestrained incarceration rates, militarized border enforcement, and other axioms of ‘us versus them’ stand in its place. But how can a new hysterical world be realised with respect to human dignity? How can society, as Stuart Hall would ask, divorce the expectation of representation from the already categorised body (Hall, 1979)? Irigaray (2008) suggests that such a provocation would require a sharing of the social space that encourages the projection of a different human reality where one sees the other as irreducible to one’s own experience. Irigaray argues that this world is constituted through ‘respecting the other within oneself, and not by projecting the totality of what exists outside of oneself’ (Irigaray, 2008: xviii). Irigaray calls for a sense of conviviality in excess of a passive acceptance of ‘difference’ that, as I argue, has failed to articulate itself
within existing solutions to violence. In this way, the fundamental heart of the social is revealed in its most explicit realisation: that the conditions of the human reality are irreducible to the relation of the other. Becoming human would then depend on, as Irigaray writes, our ability to achieve ‘another world, another nature, and not on our transforming this world and our own nature’ (ibid.). It would also depend on the circumvention of reactionary postures by the operations of war that paralyse social relations. Simply put, the authenticity of the social must become an authenticity that is difference in itself – quite simply, a hysterical difference. Another perspective can be found in the humanist philosophies of Franz Fanon. In one of Fanon’s most important chapters of Black Skin, White Masks (1967), translated into English as “The Fact of Blackness” or what Anthony C. Alessandrini (2009) writes could be more accurately translated as “The Lived Experience of the Black Man”, Fanon (2006: 127) states that he ‘came into the world imbued with the will to find a meaning in things, [his] spirit filled with the desire to attain to the source of the world, and then [he] found that [he] was an object in the midst of other objects’ for ‘not only must the black man [sic] be black; he must be black in relation to the white man.’ Although distorted in its gendering and disregard for the nuances of self-identification, Fanon’s statement is inwardly profound as he calls attention to both the embodied experiences of violences upon the body and particularly, how racialisation ‘fixes’ subjectivity into a process that prevents the full emergence of potential. Here, Fanon questions the place of the human body when it is subjected to forms of domination. When the body is split and categorised into otherness, object, or dissenter at the hands of something or someone outside of oneself, then how can the body regain a sense of self-representation without relying on an externally-based truth? What is the place of this body in a segregated and dissected world, now translated into data? And most importantly, how can we regain our freedom through consciousness of our
own sense of environments?
For Fanon, the solution is far-reaching. In Black Skin, White Mask (1967), he argues that the legitimacy of struggle is mitigated when the individual is allowed a refusal to representation. Fanon states that the individual who refuses to stay in past representation or consider the present as definitive is disalienated, or lodged free of oppressive representation. This idea has a considerable impact on contemporary thoughts concerning the mechanisms of violence. Fanon’s humanism asserts that the reclamation of individual freedom is found by prioritising the future as creation, whereas violence uses the past to prioritise predictive action upon the uncertainty of the future. In the conclusion of Black Skin, White Mask, Fanon states: I am not a prisoner of History [l’Histoire]. I should not seek there for the meaning of my destiny. I should constantly remind myself that the real leap [le véritable saut] consists in introducing invention into existence. In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself (Fanon, 2008: 229). Fanon’s disengagement with historical circumstance is crucial in understanding the capacity to adopt a neutrality to representation, which Fanon argues is already owned by systems of oppression. I argue that this process, although not void of historical influence, is not only a necessary element of freedom but a politic in itself – particularly as data and new technologies become increasingly important factors in war, and the subjection of various groups and individuals. It is interesting to view our contemporary relationships with data in terms of war particularly since it is claimed widely that we are in the age of ‘big’ data (Kitchin, 2014). It is thought that these data — in their capacity to pattern, predict, and disclose — are the agents themselves, the storage devices and vocal boxes of real human intent; and the precursors of hidden desires that human agents have yet to realise we posses. Tie this in with our
continued forfeiture of agency in forms of privacy, affect, and geopolitical manoeuvrability and we’re back at the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, where seemingly mundane modes of existence (our searches, purchases, and gaits of walk) are monitored and regulated by research into the optimal levels of health in times of acceptable ways of living. Today, we are suffocated by the sentiments of data, as it monitors the functioning of our personal and global relations. By no means do I suggest that we have entered a new age without war or that data has somehow mitigated the effects of violence. But calls to action by Eric Schmidt, then executive chairman of Google (now of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.) are telling when we consider what’s asked of the individual in the age of big data. ‘You let Google know things,’ Schmidt says, and ‘Google will help you’ (Whiteside, 2014). In other words, give us your data, and we’ll make the decisions for you. In this sense, the ‘Google’ Schmidt refers to, is not merely a team of highly skilled digital and social engineers, but a repository of an ever increasing war room of data, if we can label it as such. This command centre, held in cohesion by its secretive status, is like a digital food bank – a virtual diet plan, waiting to reform their interpretations of the future and present the body in new types of being, where one continues to grapple with their own sense of belonging. This is an important consideration since data, like violence, is often viewed as if separate from human experiences, or as if data rests isolated in a machine with human realities on the outside. Brian Massumi articulates this concern as a command paradigm that approaches experience as if we were somehow outside of the body, looking in (Zournazi, no date). According to Massumi, data enters into a virtuality of the corporeal experience. It serves as a projection of the body into an anticipation it cannot yet reach. Anticipation of this capability grows into what Massumi describes as a process of conceptualising the body as ‘already on the move to a next, at the same time as it is doubling over on itself, bringing its past up to date in the present, through memory, habit, reflex, and so on’ (ibid.). In other words, data is locatable only in its ability to reveal the
body’s response to classification. Left unresolved, however, are the social deficiencies that we have carried with us throughout human history. These patriarchies, racisms, homophobias and other violences, are not regressed away as the math and algorithms would claim. These mechanisms may be sufficient to gain some insight into behaviour, but quantifying our existence does little to help us understand human conditions or motivations (see Kitchin, 2014), much as quantifying the healthy restoration of war victims does little to eradicate the problem of hunger or an individual’s willingness to starve themselves in the first place. To the contrary, these social conditions are re-enlisted into new ecologies of relation. In terms of data, they are most readily articulated as discriminations and prejudices that precede social experimentation. The Open Technology Institute (2014: 2) defines data discrimination as the ‘processes of algorithmically driven decision-making and their connection to injustice and unfairness in society’. Since algorithms are code instructing computers how to perform and data comprises discreet elements of our identity as representatives of the real, then it is safe to say that discrimination in this new age is the process by which data is continually instructed to drive unfairness into our cultural landscapes. In other words, what is articulated through data are mechanisms of power, and the real threat of this power is that algorithmic decision-making will disproportionately burden the most marginalised in society by preferencing certain individuals over others (who gets what judicial, administrative or literal nourishment, and when). Still, the question of situating the hysterical, certain-uncertain body remains unanswered. In order to take Fanon’s humanism into full consideration, we must reject the temptation to enter into research from perspectives based on the quantification of the body and neither are we to seek an origin of the body’s subjection. By this I mean the reduction of life to the numbers of their disadvantages, or calories to their extinction or salvation, runs the risk of associating the fragility of existence with the
ability of those satiated to incorporate the body into the secret logistics of governance. The body as a data point can then be normalised into a systematic relationship with the dominants’ ability to engineer solutions for the manoeuvrability or restriction of movement without accounting for the individuals’ or groups’ ability to design their own process of resistance, as Fanon suggests. The question of the body’s survival in data-driven societies and the ongoing attempt by agencies to predict and thus, restrict the free movement of individuals through war and violence, is at the heart of what Fanon’s ontology means today. What I propose is a return to these understandings to address the ways that ecologies of violence and patterning intervene in the cultural practices of communities in terms of disadvantage, social segregations and the use of the body as a surface of social experimentation. Russell writes in her book Hunger: An Unnatural History (2005: 9), ‘hunger only made me want to eat’, so perhaps the question then is how can we to stand ‘outside established powers and successes, outside the state, outside capitalism — outside satiety’? This question is relevant today and will be in the near future as algorithms replace human decisions, and data become representative of individual experience.
Hall, S. (1979) ‘Drifting Into A Law And Order Society’, The Cobden Trust Human Rights Day Lecture, London: Amersham: Robendene. Irigaray, L. (2008) Sharing the World: From Intimate to Global Relations. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. Kalm, L. M. and Semba, R. D. (2005) ‘They Starved So That Others Be Better Fed: Remembering Ancel Keys and the Minnesota Experiment’, Journal of Nutrition, 135(6), pp. 1347–1352. Kitchin, R. (2014) The data revolution: Big data, open data, data infrastructures and their consequences. United Kingdom: SAGE Publications. Micale, M. S. (1995) Approaching hysteria: Disease and its interpretations. United States: Princeton University Press. (2008) Hysterical men: The hidden history of male nervous illness. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Open Technology Institute (2014) Data and Discrimination: Collected Essays. New America. pp. 33. Roper, M. (2010) The secret battle: Emotional survival in the great war. United Kingdom: Manchester University Press. Russell, S. A. (2005) ‘The Hunger Experiment’, The Wilson Quarterly, 29(3), pp. 66–82. Strauß, S. (2015) ‘Datafication and the seductive power of Uncertainty—A critical exploration of big data enthusiasm’, Information, 6(4), pp. 836–847. doi: 10.3390/info6040836.
REFERENCES Fanon, F. (1967) Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove Press. Fanon, F. (2006) The Fanon reader: Frantz Fanon. Edited by Azzedine Haddour. London: Pluto Press (UK). Gandy Jr., O. H. (1996) ‘Coming to Terms with the Panoptic Sort’, in Lyon, D. and Zureik, E. (eds.) Computers, Surveillance, and Privacy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 132–155.
Webster, R. (no date) Sigmund Freud: Hysteria, somatization, medicine and misdiagnosis. Available at: http://www.richardwebster.net/freudandhysteria.html (Accessed: 2 January 2016). Webster, R. (1996) Why Freud was wrong: Sin, science, and psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Basic Books. Whiteside, L. (2014) Google: We’ll make you smarter ... If you share your data. Available at: http://money.cnn. com/2014/10/16/technology/innovationnation/google-data/ (Accessed: 15 December 2015). Zournazi, M. (no date) An interview with Brian Massumi. Available at: http://international-festival.org/node/111 (Accessed: 2 January 2016)
SUBURBIOS AN ARTWORK BY SERGIO ZEVALLOS
Lima, 1983 Performers: Frido Martin, Sergio Zevallos and guest Camera: Several “street-photographers” This work was made as a part of the Grupo Chaclacayo projects This work contains the following series: Ambulantes, Libreta Militar, Martirios, Cuartel, Velatorio, Casona, Basural SUBURBIOS shows moments from a life of ‘mythic’ homelessness, myself. During adolescence, as I recognized my dissident way of living, desire and political interests, I felt that there was no “official” home for this body and state of mind. I created this personage as a fusion of all these pictures that are sold on the streets of Lima: mode magazines, comics, devotional pictures, pornography, yellow press, etc. The locations for the shootings were abandoned places and houses under construction in Lima. For the black and white photographs, I worked with the so-called ‘street-photographers’ of Lima, to integrate their improvised photo technique into the aesthetic of the project. The ‘street-photographers’ are anonymous portraitists, working in parks or in front of public offices. They used an old lens and a wooden box around it as a dark-room. The special character of their self-made cameras also comes from the fact that the photographs are directly exposed onto paper sheets. No negative film is involved.
FRESH KILL A FILM BY SHU LEA CHEANG
Fresh Kill tells the story of two young lesbian parents caught up in a global exchange of industrial waste via contaminated sushi. The place is New York and the time is now. Raw fish lips are the rage on trendy menus across Manhattan. A ghost barge, bearing nuclear refuse, circles the planet in search of a willing port. Household pets start to glow ominously and then disappear altogether. The sky opens up and snows soap flakes. People start speaking in dangerous tongues. Fresh Kill premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, Berlin in 1994.
OPEN SOURCE GENDERCODES … Tuli Litvak, ‘Third
AN ESSAY BY RYAN HAMMOND
Eye_Second Skin 7’, 2015 © Tuli Litvak
”Open Source Gendercodes” (OSG) is a sci//art project striving to create an open source sex hormone bioproduction platform for gender-hackers and trans people. The nascent science of synthetic biology (deploying novel techniques of metabolic pathway engineering, and gene editing) is allowing companies to re-design organisms: creating a new sort of factory worker to biologically manufacture drugs, new materials, and industrially useful compounds. If thoughtfully repurposed, such biotechnologies could enable people to grow companion plants (biological factories) in their homes for hormone therapy, or alternatively - enable collectives of trans people to halt reliance on the pharmaceutical industry. Despite the seemingly utopian nature of this idea, the science supports it and there is already a precedent for hormone producing plants. In 2008, a research team at the National Academy of the Sciences of Belarus successfully introduced Bovine genes into tobacco plants, to produce pregnenolone and progesterone (precursors to testosterone and estradiol). The successful introduction and expression of these bovine ‘transgenes’ indicates that plants do contain mitochondrial transport mechanisms and other cellular ‘infrastructure’ necessary for mammalian sex hormone production. With international corporations like BASF and DSM already utilising bioproduction systems, one of OSG’s priorities is to navigate the patenting system and dedicate this technology to serving the commons. The project seeks a functional outcome: a gender political power grab, an organ owner’s manual, a hormoculture transdisciplinary transorgasmic queery. A biotechnical future for all requires active public engagement, open experimentation, and collective ownership of biological materials. As theorist Paul B. Preciado points out: “In terms of political agency, subjection, or empowerment do not depend on the rejection of technologies in the name of nature, but
rather on the differential use and reappropriation of the very techniques of the production of subjectivity. No political power exists without control over production and distribution of gender biocodes… emancipation of subaltern bodies can be measured only according to these essential criteria: involvement in and access to the production, circulation, and interpretation of somato politic biocodes.”1 Historically, medical and psychological frameworks for gender have been developed by white cis males. Trans people have been research subjects, labeled mentally ill and subjected to diagnostic and treatment protocols created by people who don’t understand trans experiences. Rather than observing, diagnosing, and regulating gender variation, OSG will develop tools to free gender from existing power structures. ON NATURALITY and TECHNOSCIENCEOSG treats the status of “natural” as myth, and seeks to utilize available technologies to hack gendercodes and biocodes which regulate gendered subjectivity. Nature has been (and still is) used to rationalise the oppression of groups of people, reinforcing structures of power and modalities of being. From ideas of women’s natural status as weak and emotionally inferior, to the labeling of homosexuals and the ‘sexually incongruent’ as ‘unnatural’, to the classification of darker skinned peoples as animals and savages - the binary rhetoric of naturality defines political validity. Feminist and LGBTQ movements quickly get trapped in the game of trying to prove their natural status, in attempts to gain power in a white, cisheteronormative hegemony of scientific authority. This project seeks to push past binary understandings of naturality and uncover our performative and generative relationship to biology in the 21st century. 1. Preciado, Paul B. “The Pharmacopornographic Era.” Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era. New York City: Feminist, 2013. 92. Print.
In the spirit of Xenofeminism, “‘[N]ature’ shall no longer be a refuge of injustice,or a basis for any political justification whatsoever! If nature is unjust, change nature!”2 Right now, I am running a crowdfunding campaign to go to Pelling Lab in Ottawa, Canada, to develop OSG for a year. During this year, I hope to explore new strategies, produce prototypes, and publish a paper on my methods. In the coming months, I’m working to flesh out a document cataloging my research thus far 2. Cuboniks, Laboria. “Xenofeminism.” Laboria Cuboniks | Xenofeminism. Web. 23 Dec. 2015. <http://www.laboriacuboniks.net/#overflow/3>.
and opening it up to anyone who’s interested. It will lay out each biotechnological strategy considered with its pros and cons, the reasons I chose a plant based platform, the studies that support the validity of this method, and the protocols/methods I plan on using. Simultaneously, I’m seeking grant funding to pay a trans person with a biotechnology, molecular biology, or other relevant background to co-develop with me in Ottawa. As a queer person, I am interested in the ways science and industry regulate gender, but I have not
personally gone through hormone replacement therapy. Up to this point, Iâ€™ve approached accountability through transparency and discussion. Speaking with trans friends and acquaintances, getting their opinions, learning about their experiences, and having those personal connections is great. But there need to be people whoâ€™ve personally been through HRT making decisions and sharing the responsibility of forming this project. In other words, the project is not about me and not about my voice alone, and needs to be opened up. When it exploded in the media with recent coverage by Vice Motherboard and The International
Business Times, I became the face of the project. The articles written about the project are just as much about me as they are about the work, which makes me increasingly uncomfortable. If youâ€™re interested in getting involved in any way, have suggestions, critiques, ideas, or thoughts of any kind, I welcome the input. You can write to me at email@example.com <3
BEARING CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION A SUBVERSION BY A. JOSEPHINE BUDGE I have a pair of rainbow booties. Soft, like a perfectly preserved fossil of the revolution that every privileged white woman believed was at the tip of her fingertips at the dawn of 1969 - tinged with acid and cooked in free love. They live inside a brown box. Inside are also the last pieces of my dead grandmother’s jewelry and the precociously unself conscious clip on earrings that my own mother wore in the 80’s. A legacy of female adornment. Some to rebel. Some to conform. The booties were mine. Ever since I was old enough to associate the softness of the fabric with an object outside of my own imagination, I envisaged them being worn by the next daughter in her turn. My daughter, who I have already named, already shouted out, already cried in front of, shared dreams with, already grown old with, died in front of. This subversion is for her. Despite the empathy-numbing oversaturation of the topic, I must begin this piece now as I originally wrote it some months ago, discussing migration. Discussing the images of bloated bodies washed ashore, and bodies in pens like pigs for slaughter with bread1 thrown at them for which they reach and fight and snarl, and a baby girl climbs the bars of a mesh fence, trying to reach for the bread , bodies described as ‘a sea of terrified eyes’, described as numbers, described as too many mouths, described as coming to steal your council tax, decapitated and disjointed by media reports until I find myself turning away, curling up, growing hot and ungainly. In her book Biopiracy about the historical and contemporary plunder of nature and knowledge by the colonial, imperialist, capitalism of the Global North, Vandana Shiva urges:
1 See Europe migrant crisis: Hungary ‘will arrest illegal migrants’, 11 September 2015, www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34224999 (accessed January 2016)
“The land, the forests, the rivers, the oceans, and the atmosphere have all been colonized, eroded and polluted. Capital now has to look for new colonies to invade and exploit for its further accumulation. These new colonies are … the interior spaces of the bodies of women, plants, and animals. Resistance to biopiracy is a resistance to the ultimate colonization of life itself.”2 So when I am told of the “breeding masses” that are choking our planet from across the continents of South America, Africa and Asia, I think about the fact that – “The average long-term carbon impact of a child born in the US is more than 160 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh.” Or that “In the US, each child ultimately adds about 9,441 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average female – which is 5.7 times her lifetime emissions”3 Or that my carbon footprint is already over 100 times bigger than that of the average Ethiopian’s. And it is the body of the ‘average Ethiopian’ that we are talking ‘of’ talking ‘about’ and talking ‘at’ when we speak of “breeding masses”. Yet those are not the mouths that are eating the world. Those are but the human voices echoing from outside the borders of this “Fortress Europe”. As my Facebook fills with the white faces painted 2 Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy, (Natraj Publishers, 2012) p5 3 See If you care about climate change, should you have children?, March 2015, www.newint.org/sections/argument/2015/03/01/ climate-change-children/#sthash.TSgA87N8.dpuf (accessed January 2016)
in red and white and blue like crusaders of a reborn imperial empire and each face has the shadow of a thousand fleeing brown bodies who will die because of America’s dirty wars and Europe’s bloody colonial legacy and these are the white savior’s faces that will survive when the water dries up, the Middle East is burning and the oil finally runs out. So I will not speak as though my body was built to bear babies for the revolution. I will not speak as though there weren’t too many mouths, too many rich, greedy, insatiably hungry mouths sitting behind this fortress. Hungry for electricity and foreign foods, for gap years and bank accounts and multiple cars and fossil fuels and fracking and faster planes, for wasted paper and over-packaging and Apple Macs and smart phones and cheap labour. And all I can think of is why. Why do I think I have a right to bear a child in this city, in this country, on this continent when that child, no matter how loved, no matter how beautiful, no matter how feminist, how activist, how subversive, how radical, how revolutionary, will go on to perpetuate a world in which bloated bodies are washed ashore, and bodies in pens like pigs for slaughter with bread thrown at them for which they reach and a baby girl climbs the bars of a mesh fence trying to reach for the bread… So I will not speak without trying to decolonize my ‘maternal instincts’ – the ‘good breeding’ that tells my body I am entitled to breed, entitled to a child, entitled to reproduce my conditioning. What I want to talk about is empowering women in the Global North to consider that their bodies are the world. We must reclaim patented codes of DNA from pharmaceutical companies, and resist governments who would farm our children to fight their political battles, and media propaganda that would teach us that our bodies were built to bear children to reinforce their constitutions, to whitewash our ancestry, to careerize the radical and institutionalize the feminist until blackness is just another word for liberalism and feminist is just another word for capital. I refuse to aspire to a world in which the white liberal West is allowed to survive ‘terrorism’, to survive climate change, whilst the criminalized brown body remains collateral damage of the neoliberal project.
So when I hold these booties in my hands that my mother gave to me, that I imagined giving to my daughter, maybe I don’t have to bear that child to make it true or real or important. Maybe it’s an act of resistance in itself. And so, by questioning this divine right to bear children I am not judging other women, I’m not condemning babies born but I am trying, in the words of Naomi Klein, to ‘stop looking away.’4 I am trying to really look at this world that we have built square in the face. And I begin to understand that everything in me wishes to conform because that is what it has been taught to do. I begin to understand that now is the last chance to resist and that it is a “resistance to the ultimate colonization of life itself.” My womb is a site of resistance; my daughter has already been colonized and is already colonizing others. So I allow the naively soft material of the booties that she would wear to slip through my fingers, to cease to be the definitive future and become only perhaps. And maybe I don’t have to bear that child to make true the legacy they were given to plant. Maybe the seed is already sown. Maybe it’s an act of resistance in itself.
Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything, ( Penguin, 2015)
Cendres LAVY, ‘screenshot of various lithographies’. 2015, 21x30cm © Cendres LAVY
PERSONAL BOUNDARIES BEYOND STATE BORDERS A INTERVIEW WITH HUNGARY’S ABORTOURISM
“Rather than understanding men as the norm and women as artificial facsimiles of men, it makes far more sense in a biopolitical framework to understand women as the norm and men as their copies. It is the womb that has become the predominant biopolitical space, it is women’s bodily borders that have been displaced onto national ones, [and] it is thus the citizen with the womb who has become the political neutral - and rather than grudgingly granting women the artificial phalluses assumed by liberal theory, one can in fact advance an argument that men instead have been granted the artificial wombs assumed by its biopolitical counterpart” -Ruth A. Miller The Hungarian Abortourism Office publishes up-todate information for citizens of Hungary and the region about contraception and abortion. With its slogan “Personal Boundaries Beyond State Borders,” it aims to highlight how, in certain countries, women are not able to exercise their rights for bodily autonomy and human dignity, as their access to reproductive technologies such as contraception and abortion are limited. The particular modes through which reproductive rights and reproductive technologies become curtailed reveals how relations between the state and the citizens are negotiated. The Abortourism Travel Office compares the different health care protocols of different states to highlight the politics governing the legislation, standardization, and distribution of these technologies. The aim is to unmask the oppressive propaganda, the patriarchal hysterics and false beliefs, and through this to highlight the medical system’s role in reproducing misogyny. Abortourism would like to draw attention to the fact that abortion is a social issue, not a “women’s issue,” so putting the blame on women and inducing guilt is unacceptable.
What is the situation in Hungary? Abortion on demand is legal, but only surgical, not medical. ‘Promoting abortion’ is forbidden by law. It is an effective strategy to gag media and campaigners who have to start by stating that abortion is always a hard decision; it should be the last resort; we do not encourage it, so on and on. This ties in with the abortion legislation itself - women have to refer to a ‘crisis situation’ if they request abortion on demand. The medical and the legislative system is indeed there to produce a ‘crisis situation.’ First, the pregnancy needs to be confirmed by a doctor. This is usually done by a transvaginal ultrasound, similarly to the USA abortion ultrasound legislations. At least in the USA they have the mock informed consent law about ‘a woman’s right to know’; in Hungary they just expect women to either not know that the ultrasound is not medically necessary at all, or to shut up and suffer the violation. There are two compulsory counselling sessions with a compulsory waiting period in between. There is a compulsory stay in a state hospital. The fetus has to be at least 6-8 weeks old for a successful surgical abortion. Social insurance does not cover abortion on demand. There are reductions for those on benefits. Minors in children’s homes and orphanages, institutionalised adults, and refugees are entitled for full insurance coverage, ‘free’ abortion. Of course people often avoid the whole system, they either travel abroad or just get the abortion pill on the internet. The doctors are notoriously rude and condescending. We think, as they are members of the ruling elite, it is no surprise they subscribe to all the outlandish neoconservative beliefs about women’s roles and the conspiracy theories about the white race dying out and the immigrants flooding Europe. There was a recent scandal involving a doctor posting an
image of a ‘vaginal operating theatre’ on his Instagram with the capture ‘all of them end here’, and the comments were jokes between him and other doctors about gypsies and sluts. Women who have natural miscarriages are often booked into the same room as women who have abortions. The morning after pill is still on script, both Levonorgestrel and Ulipristal Acetate, despite the recommendation of the relevant European Union Health Committee. We have a map [http://abortourism.com/ prescription-free/] for the nearest pharmacies to the Hungarian border, where one can buy it over the counter. A spokesperson from a pharmaceutical company has commented in the press that “no medicine can just be freed on society.” These people have no shame, they think they are infallible. They boast so plainly to national media about wanting to preserve the control over women and of course their business ventures. There is lots of creepy nation state propaganda material around the topic - I could go on and on. For example, in a Hungarian town, women who breastfeed receive a letter signed by the Mayor thanking them “for the life enabling treasure”. How easy is bypassing the state protocol? The overwhelming majority of Hungarians support abortion on demand. According to this research only 13% of the respondents would further restrict access to abortion. The most shocking thing for me was to learn how easy medical abortion would be to obtain on one’s own. It might not be legal, but this does not mean that it would be hard to access. Misoprostol, the main component of medical abortion is available over the counter in the neighbouring Ukraine, and in most of Europe it is registered under the brand name ‘Cytotec’ to treat stomach ulcers. It is also branded as an arthritis drug. The specialised pregnancy tests required are cheap and easy to get hold of from any pharmacy. For an early pregnancy, buying and taking Misoprostol would be less invasive, easier, cheaper, simpler and safer than going through the official protocol in a place like Hungary. However, when we
did street flyering, and tried to talk about medical abortion, it just sounded too good to be true; it was too outside the expected frameworks of engagement between patient and provider, of the expected norms of self- care. Some women told me that even if the abortion pill was available, they would nonetheless do the procedure “the decent way”. Despite Misoprostol itself being not hard to obtain, it is very effectively guarded by deeply embedded cultural norms and social practices, such as the aggressive promotion of cancer screening and the figure of the ‘responsible women’, or birth control pills available only on script despite any medical evidence for such necessity. The way women are duped with cancer screening especially ties in to normalising surveillance, control, and data collection. It is just shockingly, shockingly, bad technology used to screen for a cancer that has always been rare in the industrialised world. It was founded on false scientific premises, and the population programme was set up without clinical trials. It is not standardised, neither sensitive nor specific, developed in the 1930s by a man with a PhD in zoology [http://annals.org/article. aspx?articleid=713473], [http://archive.spectator. co.uk/article/26th/august/1989/8/the/shibboleth/of/ smeers]. Before the readers would start commenting about how 5 of their friends would have died without it- please read about the popularity paradox: [http:// ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pnc/articles/capital2647432/]. Despite all of this, this test is sold as a mature, responsible thing to do, a sort of no-brainer, and women who weigh up the pros and cons, and make an informed choice to not have it, are called silly and uneducated. It is shocking how our society has a blind spot for this test, and how much pressure there is on women to have it. I read about this London clinic aimed at survivors of sexual violence [http://mybodybackproject.com/ services-for-women/mbb-clinics/]. They do not treat medical conditions such as endometriosis or infertility, they only offer cervical screenings. The website neglects to inform women that not having this test is a completely valid and ‘rational’ decision. Can you
imagine what could go on in the mind of a woman who is subjected to an advertised lunchtime speculum inserting session followed by aromatherapy (and cake), thinking that otherwise she is going to die of cancer? They also offer STD self-test kits for rape survivors (no mention of HPV self testing instead of smear tests). Any woman living under patriarchy is a survivor of violences to some extent, so why on earth does a woman have to be a survivor of rape in order to access self-testing? Why is it assumed that if not for a major trauma, women do not mind invasive and intrusive tests? You seem very concerned with our relationship to technology. In the age of the 100-dollar mug that tells you what liquid you poured into it, or the Hadron Collider, or the Mars missions, women still have to put up with so much bad technology. Technology both embodies and perpetuates social norms, so that is why not subjecting oneself to such prescribed technologies is such a transgression. We are still fed nonsense about how ‘it is no big deal’ or ‘if you feel violated wait until you give birth to children’. This sort of rhetoric is still too normal, and even the NHS gets away with funding outrageous initiatives like the one mentioned above. Our misogynist society is afraid of unchecked vaginas, of leaving women alone - it all neatly ties in to control of reproduction, and misogyny based on the idea of the inherently faulty nature of female biology, and let’s not even get into the matters of corporate profit. I think the biggest problem is that people have internalised identities and narratives based on these constructs. Shaking off this surveillance and lifelong dependency consolidated in the rhetorics of identity politics is the crucial matter - women have to believe that they’re exerting agency over their own bodies and reproductive lives is indeed right. Comparing different countries, which ones seem the worst?
When it comes to women’s health, the USA seems to be the worst. On one hand, they are closing abortion clinics based on politically motivated, non-evidence based demands, on the other hand, they are forcing all these unnecessary, sadistic and dangerous medical interventions, like yearly pelvic exams on asymptomatic women [http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1884537]. Teenage girls really are expected to spread their legs for a doctor ‘for a visual inspection,’ just because it is the ‘expert opinion.’ Even in Hungary, if a doctor would want to touch the vagina of a woman presenting with a headache, he or she would be prosecuted, and yet I’ve heard that in the USA they do get away with things like that in the name of the ‘Standards of Care.’ And let’s not even get into the hysterectomy rate, or birthing protocols... However, there is one important similarity with the USA - Misoprostol is available from a bordering country, Mexico, and technology such as sensitive early pregnancy tests, or pregnancy tests measuring the drop in pregnancy hormone levels, are really cheap and accessible as well. Within Europe there are large differences, especially in pregnancy care. For example, there is a study that shows that the amount of prenatal exams are inverse to the GDP. There is no reason given why. In the same study they mention that in Poland they routinely check the PH value of pregnant women’s vaginas. From an other source I know that in Lithuania they used to require gynecological exams for a driving license. The UK seems quite good, at least they have the rhetoric about choice and women-centered care. Of course there are a lot of problems - the cuts affecting maternity wards; the shortage of midwives; there is no money for pregnancy counselling, therefore the so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centres’, funded by USA fundamentalists are coming over; Northern Ireland, of course; yet there is money for revolting campaigns [http://youtube.com/watch?v=NZzthnYXgtM] and cash incentives within the framework of target-based medicine. It seems to me that saving the NHS is now an utmost priority.
We choose the format of the fake business with keeping all of the above in mind. We have this mock facade of a travel office laying out all the respective medical protocols for women to choose from. At some point one needs to stop believing the whole ‘doctors know best’. Why are these protocols so fundamentally different if they are all respectively scientific and enlightened and so on?
protocol. Also let’s not get frightened by the backlash - feminists should not ever be afraid to tell anyone who tries to silence and shame women who talk about their lives and their experiences and their bodies to just shut the fuck up. It seems to be that now biology is somehow ‘dirty’ in the feminist movement, which is just another dangerous kind of essentialism.
Do you believe in lobbying for legislative changes? Tuli Litvak, ‘Third Eye_
I believe in trying everything we can, but when it comes to reproductive rights, there is simply too much at stake. In my opinion it is easier for women to empower themselves by learning about using Misoprostol than waiting for legislators to establish a women-centered medical infrastructure, where women could just have the drugs necessary for a medical abortion prescribed, and they could take it at home or wherever they prefer to do so. We need new narratives about medical abortion, we need both good fiction and real women to tell their own stories, or the anomalies become representative again - every misogynist media outlet will pick the very rare case who needed to go to hospital and got thrown to prison and so on and on. A friend has asked me what our resources were (EU reports, statistical agencies, medical journals, academic publishers such as SAGE or Routledge), whether it was not the local esoterics magazine, because what we say is so unusual and so outside the framework of mainstream media discourse concerning reproductive rights. What do you think should be urgent, how could activist initiatives move forward? The access to safe medical abortion needs to be widened, by all means. Feminist organisations have a lot to do besides counteracting the misleading information in the media. For example Mifepristone; the other component of the protocol is an anti- progesterone, and I am sure there are a lot of cheap, easily available progesterone blockers (Vitamin C for example is associated with such effects). It is time for someone to work on a reliable home version of the
Second Skin 10’, 2015 © Tuli Litvak …
RE-DEFINING GIRLINESS: SEPARATING THE ENJOYMENT OF SUBMISSION FROM PATRIACHAL INFANTALISATION OF WOMEN A CRITIQUE BY JAK SOROKA The UK has an obsession with hair removal adverts and anti-aging creams. For an aging population, we spend a lot of time thinking about staying younger. I am aware that there are parents, academics and feminists all over the world concerned with the sexualisation of children and the infantilisation of women. I see it on TV and in movies. I see the effects in the way the older women in my family talk about their bodies, scolding and scorning them for not being what they once were. Yet I also see a danger that out of attempts to reject this patriarchal removal of women’s agency arises the condemnation of girly-ness and dismissal of submission as a possible route to empowerment. These were the thoughts swimming in my head as I made my way to Camden People’s Theatre to see a show as part of their Calm Down Dear Festival of Feminism. The performance Baby Face, by artist Katy Dye, was to explore stereotypical images of female infantilisation and unpick the complexities within it. I was more than happy to see a performance that delved into this, and to now further delve into it for myself.
Dye splices the piece with sound clips of songs and adverts that demonstrate the societal fixation with innocence and girlhood. The more the performance continues, the creepier these 1950s/60s pop tunes sound. She covers herself in lotion, whilst performing a text made up of anti-aging advert lingo. I had not thought about the ways that these age-defying techniques might have come out of wanting women to not just look younger, but look like girls. And not just look like girls, but be like girls. That hair removal and younger looking-skin may actually be popular because we want our women younger. We literally want them to be girls. Near the beginning of the show Dye comically takes on the recogniseable schoolgirl porn scene, writhing on a notepad, asking us to help her “do” her homework, and eventually ending in frantic climax. Later, an audience member, a man who is picked on throughout, is given food and asked by Dye to feed her. The obedient audience member gingerly obliges, taking the pink plastic plate and spoon while Dye sits in undersized girl clothes and a ribbon.
I’m just 24, but when somebody says to me, ‘you look younger’, I take it as a compliment. ‘You Look Younger’ – oh – thanks! You’ve made my day! How young is still a compliment? 17, 16, 15? Baby Face Baby Face certainly presents a memorable array of images. Taking on the naughty schoolgirl porn scenario, the woman infantilised by her boyfriend, and a saucy high chair baby dance (yes, you read that correctly), Dye asks us to confront our responses and reactions to these provocations. As sex and youth is something of a taboo, I felt I was being offered something gritty to chew on in seeing a performer plunge head first into this area.
“My Heart Belongs uncomfortably.
Of course, Dye is parodying tropes from the mainstream media and pornography to problematise the automatic and unexamined focus on girlhood as desirable. There are clear ways in which these tropes further patriarchal notions of women as docile and consumable, and construct passive ‘female sexuality’
as fixed in opposition to active male sexuality (notably usually just referred to as ‘sexuality’). The coded ways we understand masculine and feminine in relation to sexuality is not just perpetuated by mainstream media. It seeps into our everyday. Dye explores this by providing her insight into the ways in which romantic gestures, such as being carried around, can actually encapsulate layers of power and control within a relationship. She describes how she has experienced this herself in various relationships, how sometimes she enjoyed this as a simple act of affection, and how other times it made her feel unequal and passive. This sheds further light on what underlies the automatic and unknowing inhabitation of girlhood by women that society encourages. What we are really talking about when we talk about men (or anyone else) treating women as girls is women being reduced to less than adult humans. Being reduced to inferior, less whole, less empowered and therefore more fragile, more submissive (even more than they already are as women). Girl implies easily and unwillingly dominated. This is why being called a girl, when one is any gender or age of which that description isn’t fit, is derogatory. This leaves lots to be examined in our relationship to the word ‘girl’ and our expectations of them as actual beings, a point I shall return to later. Let’s be clear, treating someone as inferior simply because they are a woman is misogyny. By characterising female sexuality as submissive in nature, misogyny becomes an unconscious, imbedded relationship dynamic and goes unquestioned. These learned behaviours, dressed up as romance, go unchallenged and the desir-
ability of girlhood stays in place. This critique of enforced girlhood is important; however I am concerned with the gendered way we understand submission. I worry when I read material addressing infantilisation that includes sweeping statements and judgments placed on women who do enjoy being submissive in relationships; or on relationships that consciously play with dominance and submission (sexually and/or full time). After the show, Dye and I discuss schoolgirl and AB/DL (Adult Baby/ Diaper Lover) fetishes. In queer and kink communities, acceptance of a variety of relationship dynamics and fetishes is the aim, be it Pup/Daddy, Master/Slave, or AB/DL. There has long been debate on whether partaking in BDSM and Kink is “unfeminist”. However desires to dominate or be submissive that are conscious and attended to are different to those that are unconscious, unexamined, tied to gender roles, and enacted outside of consensual, open environments. Women who are submissive due to internalised gender roles or societal pressure are very different to those who choose submission to pursue their own pleasure. Indeed, submission can be incredibly empowering – if that’s what one wants. That doesn’t mean I’m a fan of the age-old ask for women to be both deviant and innocent, the temptress and the naïve schoolgirl. But, I do think we have to unpick the underlying issues and be careful not to continue to demean and dismiss feminine qualities or so called girliness. When it comes to the infantilisation of women, it’s the unwilling and unconscious part that is of particular concern. Policing the ways bodies are allowed to desire and
be desired is a prime way to keep that pesky patriarchy in place. Awareness of internalised gender dynamics, and knowledge of how my wants correspond to this is my tool for regaining ownership and agency over my sexuality. Nevertheless, the Western obsession with feminine youthfulness is something with which I have a less straightforward relationship. Similar to Dye, I’m young looking, also around her age. I too often get told how young I look. Different to Dye, I identify as queer, am questioning my gender identity and am committed to playing with my gender expression so I am often not read as female. My short hair (and generally short self) added with my youthful looks often results in me being read as male. Mainly, as a boy. If I wear make-up, or “feminine” clothing, to most perhaps I’m a young girl. In being read as either, I see the difference in the way people treat me depending on what gender they think I am, and, how this makes me feel. Knowing that because I look so young I am unlikely to pass as a man, I feel like I have failed. To be a boy is undesirable, my masculinity and sexual maturity has not yet bloomed, and I’m clumsy and unthreatening; the muscles and hair of a man is my “goal”. But when read as female, I’m meant to be grateful for my youthfulness. As a girl there’s no failure in not being woman-enough as I am supposed to hold on to girlhood for as long as possible. In one section, Dye gives a long list of well-known phrases and cultural references that use the word ‘girl’, and performs a monologue including clever word play of ‘stop being such a woman…’ I’ve started paying attention to the word. In the days since I’ve noticed how much it is used constantly in place of woman,
which is reserved for those who are older or more accomplished. We say girl when we mean woman, and yet I don’t see the same happening with boy when we mean man. As stated earlier, if we understand ‘girl’ as synonymous with unconscious passivity and fragility, why is it that the word is so interchangeable with ‘woman’? One suggestion is that we not only see ‘female sexuality’ as inherently passive, but as having no evolution or progression. Where boy to man is to go from clumsy to in control, girl to woman is to proceed from unknowingly sexualised to unwillingly sexualised. Where male sexuality is linked to the increase of desire, I don’t seem the same progression linked to female sexuality. This way manhood becomes defined by coming into active/dominance, whereas womanhood is defined by its distinct lack of agency, scarily similar to the perception of girlhood. Girl is done to, as woman is done to. In the move to adulthood the gender binary remains intact. Perhaps it is due to the negative connotations of ‘girl’ that we hold low expectations of girls and allow ‘girl’ to remain derogatory. This halt in their flow of desire from a young age, disturbing as the thought of thongs for toddlers and bras for 6 year olds is, denies that children have sexuality. When I was younger no one told me it was ok to explore sexuality, and my gender. If someone had been there to tell me pre-puberty that I didn’t have to run from my masculinity once puberty hit, that growing into a sexual being didn’t mean I simply had to adhere to desires of the men around me or shave off all my pubes, I probably would have had an easier time as a teenager. We don’t want girls to be excessively sexualised, but an antidote to this may be empowering them to actively explore their sexuality in its multiplicity.
The climatic ending is the high chair dance. Dye reaches for baby wear in a sultry fashion, donning a hat and dummy. She humps and prances to “Let’s Get It On”. She’s going there. Unlike the porn routine, this is every ounce uncomfortable as it is hilarious. It’s defiant in its ridiculousness. I sit in the audience, now full of chuckles and gasps, and feel that Dye becoming this heightened version of imposed girldom is a massive Fuck You. The final image is the removal of the dummy; Dye says good-bye to being a girl once and for all. As puffs of talcum powder fall into the air, the specks land all around – along with the layers of complexity. We idealise youth, but the young are unheard. We sexualise girls, but don’t want them to be sexual. We infantilise women, and are horrified by paedophilia. We want women to be girls, but ‘girl’ is an insult. Girliness is not silly. Expecting people to not be themselves, to not grow or progress, is silly. Perhaps the word girl needs its integrity back. Girl is more than the sum of its stereotypical parts - flouncing, giggles and pink dresses. To be a girl is to be child, a sexual being, beginning the messiness of growing up, and in the chaos on the cusp of adulthood. There’s nothing silly about that. That said, I think it’s time for us all to follow Dye in spitting the dummy out.
I don’t want to be the me back then, I want to be me now. Baby Face
Katy Dye’s Baby Face was performed as a work-inprogress at Camden People’s Theatre on Wed 7 Oct. To keep up-to-date go to www.katy-dye.com or follow her @KatyDye1
REPORTING SEXUAL ABUSE A POEM BY RACHEL DLUGATCH
before we begin says the police officer can you give me an example of a truth versus a lie? i am eleven years old a lie? she points to her yellow shirt if i said my shirt were green is that a lie or a truth? they treat me like i am lying until i can prove i am not -reporting sexual abuse as a child
Avita Yan Guo, ‘inner empire of violence 1’, 2014. Oil on canvas, 60x80cm © Avita Yan Guo
DON’T TURN MY BROWN EYES BLUE A SCRIPT BY PHOEBE COLLINGS-JAMES
It’s sticky. Poor tar baby, on the long, long road. He just wanted to rest his globby limbs but, it was not meant to be. This bunny was looking for trouble. What it is? Baby mumbled as the frantic cottontail approached. Tar Baby sensed danger, One. paralysed by terror, Two. helpless and afraid. Three. Br’er rabbit wound back his floxum paw and let it fly straight into the tar moshys face. Can I live? Yelped the moshy babe. Can I live? There was no turning back. Quite literally stuck in the violence he had pitched. The bad bunny wriggled and struggled. Each blow further encompassing until, at once, his body was gone. Gulp The final morsel of baby’s soul disappeared Terrified by the darkness he had so gleefully tormented Br’er Rabbits eyes grew wide reeling back, boggling as in the distance, the new danger approached.
Avita Yan Guo, ‘inner empire of violence 2’, 2015. Oil on canvas, 60x80cm © Avita Yan Guo
DIAMONDS A TESTIMONY BY ÞUNOR I’m going to take a big risk here; I’m going to let you, as readers, into my mind. If you’d like to know what it’s like living with C-PTSD, trying to maintain a relationship, and trying to survive in a capitalist society that couldn’t care less about your mental health – one that actually causes many mental health problems with its corporate children – please continue reading. I’ve been living with PTSD for most of my life. I live with it now. Now Imagine waking up in the middle of the night unable to move. You can feel someone standing over you but no one is there. Maybe you’re going to die; in fact, death would solve this. Imagine calming down as the sun rises and returning to sleep. Imagine dreaming about the dishes you didn’t do because you’re too tired to even think about cleaning your own home after you’ve cleaned an entire establishment’s dishes and floors and counters. Imagine being woken by your loving partner who demands you wake up and spend time with them. Imagine getting scolded by your partner because you haven’t done the dishes you’ve been dreaming about doing. Imagine wishing that you could jump in front of the train after leaving school after an eight hour shift and seven hours of classes. Imagine living that way for five years. Imagine being poor and without health care. Imagine surviving multiple atrocities. Imagine where they’d put you if you’d dare utter the things you think about doing Now
Imagine yourself being misunderstood every time someone touches you and you flinch. Every time he touches you is a reminder of what happened to your body. Imagine trying to escape the sexual abuse you sustained for years and somehow, it still finds his way to your doorstep because rape is about power and control. I didn’t have control over myself. Imagine being afraid to call it rape because you’re afraid your partner won’t believe you. Imagine fumbling your words to describe the violence, trying to explain to him what really happened, and then imagine the colour draining from his face and thinking, “Maybe he understands,” only for him to ask, “Did you let him cum inside you?” as though you had any choice in the matter. He blames you. Imagine him struggling to trust you after that and every time you argue he mentions that “time you kind of cheated on me.” Imagine that he is disappointed when you tell him he’ll be getting sex. Imagine the guilt trip he gives you when you change your mind. Now Imagine trying to explain your mental health problems only to be met with his resistance. “You’re embarrassing me and I deserve better.” When he woke you in the car you thought you were dying. Your heart palpitated. Your stomach growled with hunger but your lethargy kept you from eating. Imagine trying to tell him this while he firmly and whole-heartedly tells you, “that’s no excuse to act like a child, but I love you anyway.” Imagine coming home after admitting to your therapist your suicide fantasies. Imagine this wonderful person you love so much waiting patiently at his computer with several tabs of your male Facebook friends open and the interrogation that follows. “Did you fuck him? Did you fuck this guy? What about him? Did he cum in your mouth?” Now Imagine telling your boss that you think about killing yourself at work. You tell her that this is why you are slow at your job.
Imagine her triggering your anxiety and inducing panic attacks with every unnecessary critique only to be told, “I have a business to run.” She documents your inability to do your job. Imagine crying on the bus because just thinking about walking into work makes you want to jump out of your skin. Imagine spilling tea at work and you need to fill the beans, the milk, the sugar, the napkins, the syrups, the soap, the dishes, and the cups all need attention right fucking now Imagine, “Mitchell, what’s going on?” The simplest question from the kindest people makes you want to hurt them. Imagine living off of student loans while your partner makes twice as much money you make with a little bit less labour. You are short on rent because you’ve run out of loan money and the $700 salary just isn’t quite working. Imagine being five minutes late and feeling that you actually are the worst person in the entire world because you feel inadequate and the inadequacies only continue to multiply with every forgotten drink modification, every dropped lid, every forgotten ingredient, and the pain that comes with, “Mitchell you’re on register today,” and forcing yourself to work through an eight hour panic attack… Imagine being told, “Control it,” when you have to force yourself to drink water because nowhere feels safe. Imagine fighting tears in class because you’ve slept maybe six hours this week. Imagine, finally, you’ve gotten to sleep and someone wakes you because “You’ve been asleep ‘too long.’” Now I knew I wouldn’t spend my life with you but I didn’t think it would end with such treachery I’ll know next time that a man who disturbs my silence who intends to colonize my mind is imperial and violent Maybe he fucked you and maybe you liked it or maybe he raped me
because I couldn’t fight it I’m and and and
tired because I’m working everything makes me tried for once I’d like sleeping it’d be nice if you were quiet
when does my labor benefit me because I’m always on my knees sucking capital cocks, my shoes are the roots and my hands are the bees there’s a cliché, “you can’t grow the money,” but the people are trees and our blood is the honey. a quarter for you is a diamond for me so will you shut the fuck up and please let me sleep
On the next page...
Agata Cardoso, Artist
Agata Cardoso, Blood
journal with 3 contact
is so much more than
Agata Cardoso, SelfPortrait, post-op re-
sheet squares and paint,
you think, Four meo-
moval of right ovary,
part of the Archetypes
pour-plasters sewn to-
research book, 2016
gether, 2015 © Agata
© Agata Cardoso
© Agata Cardoso
INVISIBLE KNIFE A POEM BY MUESSER YENIAY
My heart is lying, like a smashed animal in my body I am the harvest of sorrow I am the vintage of blood invisible knife of life like a chef cutting me into pieces Still I am inside with my eyes walking outside with my mind walking outside with the people towards me that I created by the pieces of myself I am becoming night
GÖRÜNMEZ BIÇAK BIR ŞIIR BY MUESSER YENIAY
Bedenimde ezilmiş bir hayvan gibi duruyor yüreğim acının hasadıyım kanın bağbozumu görünmez bıçağı hayatın usta bir aşçı gibi doğruyor bedenimi yine de içerideyim dışarıya yürüyen gözlerimle dışarıya yürüyen aklımla kendi parçalarımdan yarattığım insanlarla karşımda gece oluyorum. (in Turkish)
On the next page...
Phoebe Beth Garcia, ‘remember’ from note,
Phoebe Beth Garcia,
Phoebe Beth Garcia,
2015 © Phoebe Beth
‘enough’ from note 2015
‘easy’ from note, 2015
© Phoebe Beth Garcia
© Phoebe Beth Garcia
SUNDHEDSJOURNAL ET VIDNESBYRD AF SOFIA MARIA CERQUEIRA
Jeg er kendt fra indlæggelser, der er en personlighedsstruktur, der driller. Jeg er psykomotorisk urolig, tænker på de samme ting igen og igen, efterhånden ligner de hinanden. Ligesom dagene. Når I kommer ind på min stue er jeg i gang med at vandre op ad gangen. Så går tiden, og efter det er dagen slut. Jeg føler generelt et fysisk ubehag. Det former sig lige så stille i mit baghoved og blander sig med smerterne i min mave. Ville ønske, jeg kunne skille mit hoved fra min krop. Jeg har ingen suicidale tanker eller planer i dag, men jeg går og håber på et anfald, herinde hvor jeg kan bedøves og lægges i søvn. Jeg har overvejet de røde piller, men det er ikke hensigtsmæssigt i forhold til mit køn og min alder. Faldt i søvn på en rød pille, men havde et voldsomt mareridt. Fik noget beroligende af en ung mand. Han spurgte, om jeg havde tankemylder. Det havde jeg ikke, kunne bare ikke sove, fordi jeg mærkede en anden person i rummet. Det er derfor døren står åben. Det er svært at skelne virkelighed fra fantasi. Jeg så en dame, det kan jeg fuldt ud bekræfte, men jeg er ikke længere med i en film. Jeg har problemer med at skelne virkelighed fra fantasi, og så holder jeg mig for ørerne og siger lyde. Nogle gange føler jeg, at det ikke er mig, der snakker. Derealisation og depersonalisation. Mistænksom og paranoid. Selvmord og selvskade. Optur og nedtur. Der bliver grinet af mig i sociale sammenhænge. De mener, jeg er mærkelig. De lægger særligt mærke til mig, jeg kunne være noget helt særligt, besidde helt unikke evner. Hvis de kendte mig, ville de være forelskede i mig. Der er en baby på gangen. Fødselsdepression. Alt føles så nyt, og jeg føler mig nærmest opløftet. (in Danish)
Avita Yan Guo, ‘family portrait NO.2’, 2013. Ink on paper, 20x30 cm © Avita Yan Guo
DRUG OF CHOICE A POEM BY ELLE PERIL
Ask the doctor for instant gratification and get prescribed a girl instead. The remedy comes in childsafe packaging. Break the seal to unscrew the head. If you don’t like the taste going down, write the manufacturer for a refund. False advertising entices lawsuits. The warning label reads like foreplay for the bereaved. Know the side effects before ingestion: hypertension, insomnia, headaches, paranoia, anxiety. There was the year I didn’t look in the mirror because I didn’t want to know what I would see.
There was the year I didn’t look into the mirror because I feared the woman staring back at me. There was the year I counted calories and unlearned how to eat. There was the year I lost ten pounds, my appetite, and the taste for meat. I don’t do well without structure, and as much as I hate routine, I take a dose of daily self-loathing like a vitamin for my teeth. I hoarded secrets in my cabinets like poetry but I didn’t dare to peek for fear of what I’d find. Every masochist has their favorite way of hurting, and you were always mine.
‘Umbilical Vein’, 2015. Ink & collage, 8.5”x11” © Cindy Rehm
RESISTANCE A POEM BY ROSE GIBBS
Resistance has scuttled into a cave and stuffed her ears with wax. She has filled her hoarse throat with flour â€“ her voice emerges in puffs of white that fall and settle doughily on her knees. She is on her knees. They are sick from standing. They have stood too much, are over extended and are hurt from muscle. Her eyes throw murky images back to their origin. She has become such an expert in this move, that they do not even reach her retina. Her nose is filled with screws of tissue, ready to catch the blood that will pour from them in a few hours time, or may be now. It will not be enough, and soon dough and blood will mix in a promise of something that will not happen. Nothing will rise. The mix will slowly rot, her toes will wrinkle in the damp, the skin will creep in to the floor, lichen like. Each pore and cell, which has pushed outwards her whole entire life, making a her shaped space that no one can see in this dark cave, will soften and relent. But the rock will push back, refusing entry and she will remain above, on, separate. Her own thing.
DREAMING IN ANOTHER LAND A POEM BY RATI SAXENA
CRY A POEM BY RATI SAXENA
MEMBRANES AN EXCERPT BY SOPHIE HOYLE
TÄND ALLA LJUS EN SÅNG AV SILVANA IMAM
[Vers 1: Säg till Säg till Säg till Säg till
Silvana Imam] spriten att jag becknaren komma mitt ex att jag prästen att jag
saknar det hem till mig saknar bazz åkte fast
Säg Säg Säg Och
till Stockholm inget räddar mig till din son och passa sig till din dotter och skydda sig säg till folket att hylla mig
Säg Säg Säg Säg
till till till till
pengar att regna ner sommarn att den är sen Beyoncé jag vill ha henne Bill Gates ge mig pengarna
[Hook x 2] Tänd alla ljus så alla vaknar och kan ge mig allt Pengar pussy tid och en massa tjack Feta guzzar ny bil och en nöjespark Så jag lever mitt liv motherfuck allt
[Hook x 2] Tänd alla ljus så alla vaknar och kan ge mig allt Pengar pussy tid och en massa tjack Feta guzzar ny bil och en nöjespark Så jag lever mitt liv motherfuck allt [Brygga] Kan nån tända alla ljusen för det är så mörkt Be dom skina på mig genom molnen innan allt är klart Kan nån snälla tända ljusen jag har inget kvar Pussy power pengar svär på allt jag ska ha allt en dag [Hook x 2] Tänd alla ljus så alla vaknar och kan ge mig allt Pengar pussy tid och en massa tjack Feta guzzar ny bil och en nöjespark Så jag lever mitt liv motherfuck allt (in Swedish)
© Refune Music Rights AB under exclusive license from Naturkraft Silvana Imam AB
[Vers 2: Säg till Säg till Säg till Säg till
Silvana Imam] dom som aldrig saknat mig dom jag är tillbaks igen silver att jag klär i guld ångesten att jag inte känner skuld
Säg till dagen att jag lever nu Säg till natten att inatt ska vi fucka ur Säg till dom som aldrig fått nåt sagt Självförtroende är pengar fitta krig och makt Säg Säg Säg Säg
till till till till
sömnen att jag sover sen tiden ge tillbaka den Rihanna jag vill ha henne kungen ge oss pengarna
Gia Barón, Lobas
Gia Barón, Lobas
Furiosas, 2014 © Lobas
2014 © Lobas Furiosas
Furiosas, 2014 © Lobas
SLUK ALLE LYS EN RESPONS AF EMMA HAAS
Sig Sig Sig Sig
til til til til
gaden at jeg hader den livet jeg forlader det skoven at jeg kommer hjem glemslen at den var min ven
Sig Sig Sig Sig
til til til til
betongen krigeren dronning Lars han
Sig Sig Sig Sig
til til til til
vinen den bedøver dig snakken at den rager mig lugten at den kommer hjemmefra mama at jeg ville ha en far
Sig Sig Sig Sig
til til til til
lykken den er hjerteløs angsten at den er en ”tøs” tvivlen at jeg dropper den magten at vi rejser os igen
Sig Sig Sig Sig
til til til til
bossen at jeg trækker mig slaven at vi vandrer samme vej døden at den er en fucking leg fascisten han bør gemme sig
Sluk alle lys så folket Tag mig til mørket hvor Penge, pussy, tid og en Vores indre oprør er et
Sluk alle lys så folket fatter at vi lukker nu Tag mig til mørket hvor jeg ved at der venter du Penge, pussy, tid og en masse tjald Mit indre oprør er et fucking kald Sig til kroppen at den vænner sig Sig til kussen den er alt for bleg Sig til lebben hun skal være harm Og til pigen, at hun skal holde sengen varm
Kan nogen slukke Lad månen lyse mørkeræd I mørket mærker stilhed overdøve (in Danish)
at vi bryder den hun er min ven gi’ os pengene ska’ i fængelse
fatter at vi lukker nu jeg ved at der venter du masse tjald fucking kald
lyset for vi vågner nu op vor verden, vi blir’ aldrig vi at pulsene de slår i takt. Lad ordene, og alt er sagt…
ON THE GENDER OF DICK A POEM BY RAE LANDAHL ILORIN
EVERYONE THINK ABOUT DICK. Think about dick pics, dick portraiture, the n端-dick phenomenon. Somewhere along the line, dick ran away from the body and started a life for itself. The disembodied dick sits at its computer and takes selfies, the dick is a three-pointed star begging for the limelight. Who does this dick belong to? Or, who belongs to this dick? Dick owns your gender, dick walks first and chooses for you. THE GENDER OF DICK IS SUPERIOR, OMNIPOTENT. THE DICK SPEAKS BEFORE IT IS SPOKEN TO AND IT SHINES BRIGHT, BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND IN THE DARKNESS. The gender of dick eclipses all thought. You become nothing more than a presence or absence of its overbearing self.
‘Colin’, 2015 © Ella Justine Frost
STOP DATING WHITE MEN A WORD OF ADVICE BY RAISA LYRA
I have been colonised enough. Until two years ago, I exclusively dated white men. I wouldn’t even look twice at a brown man, considering him weak and a horribly repulsive creature. White men were the pinnacle of my desire. Growing up in Texas, where I was on the lowest on the pecking order as a brown girl, dating a white man was like winning the lottery.
I didn’t realise that the extension of my self-hatred and desire for white men was symptomatic of white supremacy. That concept did not exist. My Houston suburb was a diverse one, but there was always a tinge of inferiority among the many minorities – a feeling that no one could quite grasp. Not being able to name your oppressive system –that’s oppression.
But heterosexual, middle class white men are shit – absolute shit. They look upon my skin, and only see a colonial fantasy, asking me to twirl around and demurely smile. Whiteness demonises women of colour. We are sexually subservient beings that must be saved from our men. We are to be conquered by white men. We are to begrateful for this valiant heroism.
Then I joined the feminist society at my university. My mind was liberated in confronting my gendered oppression. However, there was no conversation around race. I continued dating only white men, and the supposed intersectional feminism at university, dominated by white women, did not step in to say I was a victim of white supremacy. Instead, feminism was broadcasted to me as exclusive to white women. There was nothing within feminism that analysed the intersectionality of being both a woman and a person of colour. My daily existence of grappling with both sexism and racism that comes from being a brown woman was never addressed. Beyond excluding my identity as a person of colour, my ethnicity was treated as an impediment to the movement. Brown men were represented as more disgraceful than white men – after all, white men did not beat their women into submission. My identity hindered women’s liberation. I was left behind.
Once, in the middle of fucking, one smugly asked, aren’t you glad I’m going gently? A brown guy would hurt you. I received these sentiments frequently, but who says that in the middle of vanilla missionary sex? Another man, while walking down the street hand in hand with me, stated matter-of-factly: I’m glad I’m your knight in shining armour. Can you imagine what would happen if you walked down the street alone with these brown men lewdly looking at you?”
I was finally introduced to the intersectionality of race when I met my best friend, a fellow brown girl. For the first time in my life, I had someone who understood the insidious, covert nature of white supremacy. We finally gave a voice to each other, realising that our brownness and gender could not be separated. We both craved white men’s desire, arising from a need to be accepted as beautiful by the white supremacist structure. After all, if a white man says we’re
I was undesirable as a brown girl, automatically rejected on the basis of my ethnicity. Even without coming near me, I would receive comments like You can’t date – she’s South Asian. Probably smells like disgusting curry. After facing rejections, white strangers, friends would tell me that I might be pretty for a brown girl but white men still didn’t want me. It was a confusing time. Why did no one want to fuck me? Why did only brown men desire me? I considered myself repulsive.
beautiful, we must be. Right? White women are pious yet sensual goddesses – we are the women on the side. White women are the women these men marry, viewing them as perfect wife material, while we are to provide them with a few adventures. We are treated as exotic side dishes, eaten hungrily, but to be forgotten for the awaited main dish. The patriarchal construction of good and bad women not only applied to white women, but separated women of colour into a lower sphere of fallen. If a white man chooses us, for a split second we can be elevated to their status. kept dating white men, but my rage grew. On one hand, I knew the faux-sweet words they mouthed were problematically racist. Yet on the other hand, I couldn’t see past my compulsion to be desired by these Norse gods. The climax arrived one night when I discovered my then boyfriend texting underage brown girls, sexually harassing them. When I confronted him, he shrugged, stating, You all look the same – sexy and submissive. How can I not go for every single brown girl? Intersectional feminism had seeped from the subconscious to conscious, as I unleashed all my fury at this fucker. I was no longer going to be another doll for his collection with no soul but only an outer shell for him to play out his ancestors’ fantasies. So then, I stopped dating white men. I started dating men of colour. We understood and gave voice to each other’s frustrations with racism. Yet, I never truly had a sense of true solidarity against the patriarchy with them. Their male mediocrity shone through their entitlement, telling me that although we can fight against racismtogether, I was being too militant in bringing up my gender. Once again, I was left behind. I started bringing home women of colour instead, developing strong romantic and friendly bonds. The black, brown and yellow girls I went home with are found on the fringes of queer theory classes, living
scant or mint from private school. Gathering for direct action movements; the sister outsiders sitting together, bitch-bonding about being left out by our white so-called sisters. We’re sisters. We treat each other like sisters. We come together because we’re both being fucked over by the same people. I have never felt more liberated in my life than after saying goodbye to white men. Brown men as well – they acted as if we were fighting for justice, but it was only on behalf of our colour. Gender was taboo, not to be mentioned as our cultural norms still sought silence from its women. I found solidarity in understanding theintersectionality of my identity only with women of colour, as we shared a mutual, deep understanding of the injustice that we faced daily. I am no longer an object, a fetish to be conquered and thrown away in pursuit of the next conquest. For the first time in my life, I have felt free to voice my anger, and be met with similar anger,growing into beautiful, radical feminist organising. I am done with being the White Man’s colonial project. Rather, my being has flourished in precisely the communities I was told were an obstacle to women’s liberation: the communities of women of colour, a brilliant explosion of identities intersecting where true radical feminist politics plays out in daily existence.
Lucía Egaña Rojas, ‘tesis’, 2015-2016
MASK A MULTIPLICITIOUS PROPOSAL BY LAURA FERNĂ NDEZ ANTOLĂN the mask as a metaphor of our own body, a landscape that is drawn by different elements, producing associated effects. a landscape can be a plain, a plateau, a cliff. all those are meanings that we associate with a set of elements. women as layers of our own body, the result of the sedimentation of information about its functions, performances and languages. getting dressed as a ritual in the construction of the mask of femininity. by code repetition, gender is reified in our bodies. the body is the cloak and the garments are the bonds. but the mask is the only possible space for subversion by the uncontrollable repetition. garments are re-learned in the common experience of the dressing ritual. simulacra that build us. being the garments:a sample of the binary dichotomies of gender construction, replaced by proposals of multiplicity as cracks in the landscape.
EVERY GIRL NEEDS A POEM BY LADY GABY
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IF EVERY WOMAN A POEM BY LADY GABY, 2013, BERLIN SOUNDCLOUD.COM/LADY-GABY
If every woman woke up each morning satisfied with the way she looks, how she feels, and who she is The economy would crumble down overnight If every woman woke up each morning with a smile on her face Divorce rates wouldn’t exist If every woman woke up each morning with a song on her lips Unhappy husbands wouldn’t think with their fists If every woman woke up each morning with energy just to be herself The world would be a beautiful place If every woman woke up each morning with only love on her mind The children would grow up satisfied If every woman woke up each morning without fear living rent free inside her head The morning dew would be a jewel to be desired If every woman woke up each morning without worries heavy on her shoulders The fountain of youth would become a reality If every woman woke up each morning to say hello to herself in the mirror There would be no burnout syndrome, because time would be on her side If every woman woke up each morning without her gender marking (BORDERING) her reality The world would thrive with equality, respect and humanity If every woman woke up each morning not to be a promised wife Family Honour would be a thing to live and not die for…
CANT A TESTIMONY BY DEBORAH HODGE
I want to shout “CUNT” I need to think of another word. So I ask my friends. I want to scream it from the bottom of my lungs. A long guttural cry of elongated rage. I want to shock old women and go into the church I used to go to and scream it at the pastor. The word rises up inside me and is on the tip of my tongue. It is the worst word I know. The most base, derogatory and certainly the most cutting. But it dmj work now as the feminism bubbles inside me. Why should my vagina, which has born such glorious fruit, be used as hate speak? Cunt /ˈkʌnt/ is a vulgar term for female genitalia, and is used as a term of disparagement for females and males. The earliest known use of the word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was as a placename for the London street Gropecunt Lane, c 1230. Scholar Germaine Greer said in 2006 that cunt “is one of the few remaining words in the English language with a genuine power to shock.” I laughed out loud at this definition. Germaine Greer: a woman I no longer listen to or think worthy of my time. It seems to me she has been reading too much Katie Hopkins and they have begun to morph into each other. What is the worst word I can use? sum up how I feel?
A word that will
I am told Felching.
You felch fuck.
Sucking semen from an anal cavity is dirty but somehow intimate There is an anger inside that burns with a fury so bright. I am angry at the world and want to change it. Everything seems fucked and I need something stronger than cunt to tell you how I am feeling. “can’t” seems a good one.
A clever play on cunt.
To me it sums up everything that we won’t do. We stop ourselves from doing things. To be limited is the saddest thing I can think of. Without the interesting.
cant (Kant) hypocritical and sanctimonious talk, typically of a moral, religious, or political nature. “he had no time for the cant of the priests about sin” It feels like the whole world is hypocritical at the moment, a great huge lie; consumerism placates us to the place where we just don’t see it. But it’s still not enough.
I want to say cunt. I want to scream it louder than anything I have screamed before.
Then, alone in the bath I remember. tell you how I feel. Rape.
But it doesn’t feel
I know how to
To me this word encapsulates all that is bad. Without consent: to take. RAPE: NOUN the crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will:
“You dirty parasitic disgusting village idiot” I visualise myself screaming. I did not go to the police straight away because we were in a relationship. How many times had we had sex before?
“he denied two charges of attempted rape”· archaic the abduction of a woman, especially for the purpose of having sexual intercourse with her: “the Rape of the Sabine Women” the wanton destruction or spoiling of a place or area: “the rape of the Russian countryside” VERB (especially of a man) force (another person) to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will: “the woman was raped at knifepoint” synonyms: sexually assault · sexually violate spoil or destroy (a place): “the timber industry is raping the land”
“You rapist. You filthy scumbag rapist” I want to scream it in his face. I want to see his eyes as I say it.
But after his accident he was different: a simpering slack-jawed idiot wiping away the saliva and shuffling through life. He repulsed me and I grew cold inside. Having to pretend that I still found him interesting and that I still loved him was my Oscar winning performance. His incessant need for my closeness made me physically recoil. Making me stroke his hair or rock him to sleep like my fifth child. And why was he even allowed to be around me? Why was he not sectioned sooner? Nobody would believe how bad he was behaving: could they not see. To the world I had a cold, calm exterior: inside I was screaming.
· My children were terrified of him. He just lay around in bed during the day and the amount of posters we had to put over the holes in the walls where he was head banging just kept growing.
The dictionary definition doesn’t really do justice to how it feels though. We have become desensitised. Unless you have felt the hot sharp pain and the sinking feeling that a part of you has been taken forever, it’s hard to explain.
His parents were angry at me because they thought I had sent him mad. His stepfather actually shouted at me “no child I have brought up can have a mental illness”. They didn’t blame Afghanistan or his previous mental illness. No, they blamed me.
To rape is to take away dignity. What he took from me I could never fully explain but I have to thank him too. It was that final act of defilement that made me stop and say “no more”. No one else will ever treat me like he did. else will take, or hurt, or wound me.
I was powerless in my own home and had nowhere to send him as his parents would not help. If I threw him out I would be a bitch. So I retreated from the world. Stopped using the Internet and closed the doors. I couldn’t tell people what was going on so I tried to hide my sadness.
That night he raped me things had felt almost normal. We had been drinking Jack Daniels, but he shouldn’t have been drinking at all. Antipsychotics of that strength should not be mixed with alcohol. We were on holiday and I had help with our baby; for the first time in months I was relaxed. He looked like the man I met for a brief window in time. He changed quickly though and his eyes darkened to black. He was hard and wanted me to satisfy him. He became aggressive and his physical strength overpowered me. I still feel his cock inside me and I still feel cold like I have nothing left. He left me with a repulsion of man. Of cock. Of that pathetic quivering member. I just don’t feel anything anymore. left. Only for my children.
There is no love
The thought of another man makes me feel physically sick. I tried but the amount of alcohol needed to make it possible makes me ill well into the next day and it just isn’t worth it. I long for intimacy, for that touch and that passion but I just don’t think it’s inside me. He did that. My deranged rapist. He made me seethe with an anger so fierce I want to scratch out his heart singlehandedly, I want to stop bloodshed and war and pain. My anger makes me feel guilty for my nice house and ordered life. I open a drawer at home and my things are safe and clean. I think of those right now who have nothing. I am angry at global warming and the disparity of the world. I am angry that some idiot could make a decision to press a button meaning my children die in a nuclear attack. He did this. Deborah
He made me see the rape that is going on to our planet and of innocent lives dragged into war and misery. But I am grateful. Never again do I look to others to make me feel whole. My children are enough. He ripped off the sticking plaster over my eyes. made me see.
So, what of me now? I prostitute myself in the media glare, draw attention to my femininity and you may misjudge the exterior I give you. But that is my mask: I don’t let you see my anger.
I had been in an abusive relationship for two years before and met him too quickly after that. I should have learned from the scars I still bear as a permanent physical reminder but his beatings were not enough. I needed this final act of violence to shake me free from my middle class trappings.
It is my driver. But we all know one day I will crack and the anger will spill out. The facade of pleasantries will be gone. Those inane conversations will just not happen. I won’t humour you or tolerate mediocrity.
Toni Morrison talks of anger as a paralysis in her interview with CBS radio host Don Swaim, September 15, 1987 “Anger ... it’s a paralyzing emotion ... you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don’t think it’s any of that — it’s helpless ... it’s absence of control — and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers ... and anger doesn’t provide any of that — I have no use for it whatsoever.” I see it as the touch paper to finally jump start my life. For 42 years I was passive. I just stayed in my safe world. Now, with the responsibility of three girls born of my womb and one gay son I have to see the world through their eyes. What legacy will I leave? How will I teach them that they have a voice that can be heard. Could one of them be the person to change things? My anger is now a constant presence. Yes, I hide behind the smile but look into my eyes: you will see the determination. Every act of violence or hatred to someone because of their sexuality I take personally. It happened to my son: yet another shock to make me sit up and wipe the sleep from my eyes.
Celebrity culture is raping innocent minds in its vulgarity. The get famous quick mentality is disgusting. I view fame by what that person does for the world: how do they use that power? A few celebrities I admire but they have a passion and a cause they follow. Put me in a room with Kim Kardashian ... I dare you The world is fucked but, for now, I quietly use the surreal universe that has been created to slither viper-like into the public eye. You won’t see me coming or, rather, you will see who I let you see. But for now the written form is my weapon of choice. I still balk at confrontation in person but the anger makes me stronger until I will be in a place to fight. But not with weapons or bombs. So I have to thank him: my rapist. For shocking me out of my coma and catalysing this constant, pure anger. He made me see. Cendres
‘screenshot of various drawings’, 2015, 21x30cm © Cendres LAVY
STILLE KROPPE / SILENT BODIES A STORY BY SARA TRIER Vi er kostskolebørn med mørklagte stenansigter. De tavse kroppe under dynerne, under døde fugles fjer, hvilende i fosterstillingerne. Vi er fossilkroppene, lange og sammenkrøbne ben under dynerne i sovesalen. Morgenen er fedtet og grumset, søvnen er klistret i øjnene, de blommefarvede mærker på benene, den evige forårssløvhed. Vi er de tavse kostskolepiger der vrider sig, vores bækkenbunde gnubber sig på lagnerne, at vågne op fra den lange søvn, at være skyldbetynget, at slæbe fødderne hen over marmorgulvet. Se os når vi klæder os på i uniformerne: nyvaskede og rene og identiske. Halse der strækker sig i spejlene, hoveder der løfter sig, dukkeansigterne. Vores samlede hænder bag skolebænkene, med skjorterne knappet op til halsen, skjorterne der strammer ved halsen, silkebånd i fletningerne. I klasselokalet med de udstoppede fugle bag glas, de konserverede ræve med glasøjne, der stirrer på os og ser levende ud. Vi lytter. Vi drejer hovederne på skrå og ser gådefulde ud. Vi venter på forstanderinden med hænderne samlede foran os bag skolebænkene, vi kan høre hendes skridt i korridoren, langsomt nærmer de sig, med den sorte lak, de lange hæle. Utrolig elegante sylespidser at betræde gulvet med. Forstanderinden der træder ind over dørtærsklen, forstandeinden der stiller sig ved kateteret med sin pegepind, den med krogen, vores øjne der følger bevægelserne, vores sultne øjne. Videbegærlige, tørstige efter kundskab, siger de. Vi er de forårskåde kostskolebørn i hvidt, vi har hvide tennisskørter på og sorte laksko med slangeskinseffekt. Vi løber hen over gulvene i spisesalen, vi er langbenede og nervesyge, rygmarven blævrer som gelé, hjernerne rør sig og løsner sig fra kødet. Der er jord under sålerne på de sorte laksko, der er lange brune spor på gulvet i spisesalen, på trapperne i forhallen, snavs der sætter sig i øjnene som små pletter, mørke skyggeringe på nethinden.
We are boarding school children with darkened stone faces. The silent bodies below the covers, below the feathers of dead birds, dormant in our foetal positions. We are the fossil bodies, long and cowered below the duvets in the dormitory. Morning is oily and turbid, the sleep stuck in the eyes, the plum-coloured bruises on the legs, the endless drowsy of spring. We are the silent boarding school girls that squirm, our pelvic floors rubbing against the sheets, to awake from the long sleep, to be weighed down by guilt, to drag one’s feet across the marble floors. Watch us when we dress ourselves in the uniforms: newly washed, clean, identical. Necks that stretch in the mirror, heads that rise, the doll faces. Our folded hands behind the school benches, with shirts buttoned up to the neck, shirts that tighten around the neck, silk ribbons in the braids. In the classroom with the stuffed birds behind glass, the preserved foxes with glass eyes, starring at us, seemingly alive. We listen. We tilt our heads and look mysterious. We wait for the headmistress with our hands folded in front of us behind the school benches, we can hear her steps in the corridor, slowly approaching, with the black lacquer, the long heels. Incredibly elegant needles to tread the floor with. The headmistress that enters, across the doorstep, the headmistress beside the catheter with her pointer, the one with the hook, our eyes following the movements, our hungry eyes. Eager to learn, thirsty for knowledge, they say. We are boarding school children, playful in spring, we are dressed in white, wearing white tennis skirts and black patent leather shoes with a snakeskin effect. We run across the floors in the dining hall, we are long legged bundles of nerves, the nerve chord springs like jelly, brains move and loosen from the flesh. There is dirt below the soles of the black patent leather shoes, long brown tracks on the floor of the dining
Snavsede fingre på skydedøre der åbner sig i forhallen, døre som smækker i, et højt smæld går gennem forhallen, gennem forstanderindens porcelænskinder, dette lag af hvidt og blåt og violet, et pudret ansigt, et alkoholiseret ansigt. Vi løber ud i haven mellem blommetræerne, vores latter er skinger når den presser sig gennem strubehovederne, der er alt for meget luft, der er alt for meget dissonans i vores lyd. Se os når vi springer hen over græsset: kattekillingsimiterende, tøjleløse og hyperventilerende. Se os når vi bøjer os ned efter nedfaldne frugter i græsset under træerne. Se os når vi sætter tænderne i kødet på en overmoden blomme, når saften driver ned ad hagerne, når den langsomt løber ud af mundvigene. Vi slikker vores fingre rene, én efter én, kattekillingsimiterende. Vi krydser benene og ser blufærdige ud. Vi sætter i løb, vi er en sværm af pigekroppe, der tværer blommer ud i græsset når vi træder på dem. Vi har lange fletninger, vi har klaverfingre, som stryger hen over strømpebuksebenene. Vi har fantasifostre i hovederne og tennisskørter, der er for korte til benene. På gyngerne kryber skørterne sig op når vi svinger med benene, vi svinger os op, op i luften, vores lange klaverfingre glider ind under skjorterne. Vi presser fingrene ind mod knuderne i brystet så det svider, vi bliver ømme og svimle, vores hænder bliver kolde, vi får kvalme og føler opkasten trænge sig på. De små og gule klatter, som ligger i græsset. Når hun åbner døren, forstanderinden, og kalder os for sine ‘honningdug’. Når vi løfter hovederne, hvidklædte, når vores trætte øjnene glipper op mod solen.
hall, on the stairs in the vestibule, dirt that nestles in the eyes as tiny spots, dark shadows around the retina. Filthy fingers on sliding doors that open up in the vestibule, doors that slam, a loud noise resounds through the hall, through the headmistress’ porcelain chins, this coating of white and blue and violet, a powdered face, an alcoholised face. We run into the garden, between the plum trees, our laughter is strident when it pushes itself through the larynxes, there is way too much air, way too much dissonance in our sounds. Watch us when we skip across the lawn; like kittens, unbridled and hyperventilating. Watch us when we bend down after fallen fruits in the grass below the trees. Watch us when we sink our teeth into the flesh of an overripe plum, when the juice runs down our chins, when it slowly runs out of the corners of our mouths. We lick our fingers clean, one after the other, like kittens. We cross our legs and look modest. We set off and run, we are a swarm of girly bodies that smear plums into the grass when we step on them. We have long braids, we have piano fingers that skim across our tights. We have fancies in our heads and tennis skirts that are too short for our legs. On the swings, the skirts crawl up when we bend our legs, we swing ourselves up, up into the air, our long piano fingers slide under the shirts. We press our fingers against the lumps in the breast, it stings, we get sore and dizzy, our hands get cold, we get nauseous and feel the vomit forcing its way. The tiny yellow dabs in the grass. When she opens the door, the headmistress, and calls us her ‘honeydew’. When we raise our heads, dressed in white, when our weary eyes squint towards the sun.
‘Having A Domestic’ 2015
FINGERS THAT SLIDE A SPOKEN WORD PIECE BY HELEN WHITNEY WERLE Each push against you released lighting but I hear the thunder erupt a pain that you paint over with love It made me feel strong to hurt you and watch you still want me Maybe now you know how hard it is to enjoy living in a world that continuously tries to break you with fingers that slide swiftly past your most fragile places and gut you. Empty. Draining your ability to love yourself let alone another and you wonder why people of colour need self care? Audre, you taught me to preserve my soul To say no, that my body is not always needed at the forefront. My job is not to explain to you and When I do my voice will not be restrained to fit into the distorted narratives you bestowed upon us without even taking into consideration that you used to, still own us My fingers slide painfully. Rightfully injecting 500 years worth of oppression so that for a few minutes you will feel Our pain I know that I am also my white fathers daughter But I refuse to allow the skin of my mother To dissolve, again, so that my life will be less harder Because even when you quote bell hooks And reference all those anti-racist academic books I donâ€™t care! because you are still racist Step one - Acceptance
Yasmine Akim, ‘Neither Here Nor There’, 2015. The project was supported by Autograph ABP, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England. © Yasmine Akim
Paola Daniele Love is never a sin. Menstruation is not a punishment. Make love during menstruation and let it bleeding. Original Sin ÂŠ Paola Daniele - hicestsanguismeus.com
NIHILISME, CONFUSION, CHAOS UN ESSAI PAR MATHIAS CLIVAS
C’est sale ici, nous dit-elle. J’entends Alain*, à côté de moi, sourire de la remarque. Le sourire d’un squatteur convaincu que si l’on veut parvenir à ce que des individus s’autogèrent, il faut laisser exister ce désordre jusqu’à ce qu’ils s’en saisissent. Avec toujours cette question à l’esprit : qu’est-ce que la pédagogie dans un contexte de migration ? Gloria* est venue avec ses enfants aujourd’hui, et elle ne veut pas les laisser jouer par terre. Personne ne lui donne tort. Nous sommes dans l’espace cuisine, au rez-inférieur de la partie habitable d’une usine désaffectée — près de Lausanne, en Suisse — où résident depuis un mois des migrants venus du Nigéria, de Gambie, du Mali, du Sénégal et d’ailleurs, ainsi qu’une douzaine de Suisses, par intermittence. Cette maison, nous l’avons obtenue à la suite de plusieurs mois d’occupations. Nous y habitons désormais légalement, après que l’Etat soit venu en sous-main négocier une convention de prêt à usage. 150 personnes environ, seulement des hommes, dans une évidente surpopulation qui met l’intimité de chacun à rude épreuve. Ils n’ont pas de permis de séjour et leur cas tombe sous le coup des accords Dublin. Ils ont à souffrir de l’interdiction de travailler qui leur est faite, des interrogatoires de police, du regard des gens : 150. Et s’il y avait plus de place, il y aurait plus de monde. Gloria est aujourd’hui la seule femme sur les lieux. Elle n’habite pas ici, elle est venue voir comment se débrouillent ses compatriotes, si elle peut être utile, si un peu de commerce serait envisageable aussi. Avec son mari et leurs deux enfants, ils sont arrivés du Nigéria il y a six mois, via l’Italie. Ces faits sont là, dans l’attente d’être interprétés… tandis que derrière nous des gars arrivent avec des casseroles et que nous sommes tous invités à manger. Bientôt Alain doit filer. Nous continuons de discuter des conditions de vie de la maison, de ce qu’on pourrait faire pour améliorer les choses. Entre les différents groupes ethniques, les six ou sept langues parlées, entre les différents intérêts en jeu, la situation est difficile à tenir et nous ne sommes pas à l’abri d’une bagarre qui pourrait dégénérer et remettre en question l’existence de la maison. Gloria me dit qu’elle pourrait nous trouver un gardien, un « ancien » que les hommes respecteraient. Ce n’est peut-être pas une mauvaise idée, mais je sais qu’elle risque de mal passer auprès de certains membres du collectif, très attachés aux idéaux anarchistes. Et nous discutons. Quand soudain Gloria me pose cette question : c’est vrai que la Suisse est le deuxième pays du monde avec le plus haut taux de suicide ? Pourquoi ça ? — Je commence par lui demander ce qu’elle en pense, elle me dit les gens sont peut-être seuls, mais qu’elle ne comprend pas. Elle me demande : qu’est-ce que les gens font avec leur argent ici ? Je réponds : ils améliorent leurs conditions de vie matérielle, ils voyagent, ils contractent des assurances pour leur vieillesse et leurs maladies. — Elle voit vaguement ce que je veux dire… Elle dit son incompréhension face à cette société qui d’un côté se protège de dangers invisibles et de l’autre crée les conditions d’autant de suicides. Que penserait-elle du rapport 2015 de l’ONU sur le bonheur mondial, qui donne la Suisse comme le pays « le plus heureux » du monde ? La novlangue de 1984 en tirerait un slogan grinçant. Pourquoi des suicides ? Certains répondront : « manque de repères », « confusion et crise des valeurs », « nihilisme ». Prenons donc le problème par ce bout, et avançons dans la compréhension de ces concepts. Parmi les premiers philosophes à avoir parlé de nihilisme à l’époque moderne, Nietzsche trouverait une telle
réponse biaisée. Parce qu’il n’appelait pas nihilisme le fait de ne croire en rien, mais de croire en des systèmes de sens et de valeurs qui n’ont d’existence que par l’intercession humaine, en ignorant cette intercession. Le racisme, le nationalisme, le christianisme, le phallocentrisme, la main invisible, mais aussi le féminisme, l’humanisme, le scientisme, etc. sont des nihilismes dans cette mesure précisément où l’on fait l’impasse sur le rôle essentiel de l’opérateur. Ce n’est pas tant le caractère fantaisiste de telle ou telle croyance, que le fait que chacun trouve dans l’oubli de soi-même une opportunité d’assigner du sens à des événements sans un second regard. C’est dans cette perspective que l’on parlera d’une « période nihiliste », lors de laquelle cette discrépance — entre nous et nos catégories de compréhension du monde — apparaît en pleine lumière et occupe le devant de la scène. En d’autres termes, le nihilisme couvre un spectre large, qui va de l’adhésion aveugle à un système de sens et de valeurs, au refus systématique du sens et des valeurs, avec pour point commun cette volonté d’écarter l’opérateur. De la confusion, nous en produisons donc de plusieurs types. La première, qui est celle de Gloria face à des modes de vie qu’elle ne connaît pas, est une confusion en tant qu’état mental, qui n’a en soi pas grand-chose à voir avec le nihilisme. Je m’en trouverai affecté de même au Nigéria, comme en bien d’autres lieux dont j’ignore les us et coutumes, les mots-clefs, les attitudes, langages corporels, etc. Mais les autres formes de confusion dont je viens d’esquisser les contours sont bel et bien exacerbées par l’ethos nihiliste. Nous y sommes saturés de certitude à l’égard de certains « faits », mais en même temps nous changeons de valeurs au gré des contextes, dans une culture hors-sol qui autorise à se tenir quitte de tout approfondissement, malgré des dysfonctionnements et des catastrophes répétées (imaginez un diabétique qui un jour sur deux s’empiffre de sucreries au motif qu’il n’est finalement plus si « sûr » que le diabète existe). C’est dans un tel contexte que certains crachent tout d’une traite : « l’anarchie, le chaos, la confusion », dans une crispation motivée par la perspective de tout ce qui risquerait d’échapper à tel ou tel ordre qui les avantage. Mais ces trois mots, s’ils peuvent être utilisés comme des synonymes, peuvent ouvrir à bien plus de sens dans la mesure où nous nous en faisons les opérateurs. Je parlais de Nietzsche, et une phrase du philosophe tombe ici à propos — une citation qui est sans doute parmi les plus rabâchées de toutes —, tirée d’Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra : « il faut avoir du chaos en soi pour enfanter d’une étoile qui danse ». Le chaos ne décrit pas ici un état de confusion, mais un rapport d’intensité à l’expérience. C’est un mode de vie et de connaissance : le chaos, c’est nous parmi le devenir de toutes choses, nous en train de nager dans le fleuve du devenir. Or c’est en le regardant de l’extérieur, comme si nous étions sur un rivage, et — quoiqu’y étant tout entier — craignant d’entrer dans ce flux, que l’être humain produit de la confusion. Cette crainte n’est bien sûr pas sans motifs, elle trouve ses racines dans les désastres les plus quotidiens, à commencer par la mort, la maladie, l’agression et la mésentente. Des événements qui sont autant d’incitatifs à la fondation de relations causales, à en prendre parti pour la composition de coutumes, de sagesses, de lois, etc. Mais lorsque la peur prend le dessus, nous modifions notre connaissance pour l’orienter vers la préservation, avec pour corrélat une occlusion du réel via une catégorie de « confusion » projetée sur tout changement indésirable, sur tout ce qui mettrait en péril notre position actuelle stable. Nous créons des espaces intouchables, séparés du flux. Et bien que tous ces rivages ne cessent d’être déconstruits — par ceux à qui ils nuisent, c’est-à-dire en premier lieu par nous qui les avons créés —, au lieu d’apprendre à nager nous nous efforçons de les reproduire « à l’identique », par un réflexe issu de notre conditionnement. Une telle occlusion ne subsume néanmoins jamais l’entier de notre expérience. Aussi radical que puisse être un positionnement politique ou religieux, il n’est jamais absolu, il y a toujours une part de prostitution
avec « le monde », et le moins que l’on puisse dire est qu’elle est rarement assumée avec toute l’exigence qu’une probité dont beaucoup se réclament devrait faire preuve. À la crainte et à l’identitarisme, s’ajoutent ainsi aux facteurs de confusion le sentiment de puissance, et la lassitude, la grande fatigue comme l’appelait Nietzsche. Typiquement, lorsque des contradictions entre des systèmes de valeurs sont vécues côte à côte, dans un relativisme qui se défie de toute mise en relief et tend à émousser les arrêtes du sens, la confusion est alors introjectée, détruisant la capacité décisionnelle des individus. On peut promouvoir le néolibéralisme et en même temps adhérer à l’idée chrétienne de charité ; on peut être pour la liberté d’expression et en même temps interdire les paroles racistes ; on peut être pour la démocratie et en même temps ne pas aller voter ; on peut vivre dans le pays le plus heureux du monde et hausser les épaules devant le nombre de suicides. Malgré cela, il est aussi des lieux où nous pouvons sentir le chaos. Être confus parce que nous manquent certains éléments d’information, produire de la confusion parmi toute la grande fatigue de cette époque, ne nous empêche pas d’être avec l’autre à bout touchant, et de nous questionner et de conclure, d’agir, de penser. N’avons-nous pas d’ailleurs potentiellement plus de chances de nous entendre dans le chaos, Gloria et moi, que je n’en ai avec un autre Suisse, dont presque chaque mouvement me sera familier, et dont certains appelleront en moi aux domestications que j’ai moi-même subies, aux habitudes que j’ai contractées, aux identités que j’ai assignées ? Parce qu’un Suisse aura ce réflexe de revenir vers l’une des interprétations qu’il connaît, qu’il sait tracer et parcourir à son gré, et où il n’hésitera pas à me convoquer. Qui plus est, les gens de même culture, parce qu’ils partagent des conditionnements et des intérêts, sont souvent plus lâches les uns envers les autres ; tandis que les gens qui se considèrent comme des étrangers ont pour point de départ un horizon plus labile et leurs yeux sont plus critiques. Or, je peux considérer mon interlocuteur, nigérian ou suisse, comme un étranger quoiqu’il en soit. C’est le point focal où je touche en lui à ma propre existence, le connaissant désormais comme ce qui me rapporte à moi-même. C’est à partir de là que nous pouvons nous rapporter au devenir non comme à une alternative entre ordre et désordre, mais comme à une impression transcendantale, opérant des conditions de possibilité. L’usine est l’un de ces lieux où le chaos peut être vécu, pour autant que nous y vivions, individuellement et collectivement, en tant qu’opérateurs du sens. La situation est assez singulière pour nous pousser sur nos bords ; et si la peur ne nous gagne pas, nous sentirons le fleuve. De légitimité, aucune, ni institutionnelle, ni commerciale, ni religieuse. Nous sommes des bâtards, nageant dans une mer où personne n’a encore nagé. Et nous sommes seuls à pouvoir apprendre comment faire. Nous pouvons poser les fondations d’un univers, ressentir la joie d’un tel acte. Nous mettre à créer la forme de notre transition, donner corps au chaos : « une étoile qui danse ». Face à nos erreurs et nos échecs, nous ressentirons non pas lassitude mais désir, puisque c’est par là qu’adviendra la synthèse de nos mouvements, le cosmos du créé, dégagé par l’intercession d’une suite de catastrophes initiatrices. Ce sera aussi le moment de mettre en place des règles. Avec une autre question à l’esprit : comment éviter que ces règles produisent à leur tour de la confusion ? Des règles sont utiles et bonnes en tant que les distinctions dont elles procèdent sont issues d’interactions collectives que nous connaissons et d’entre lesquelles nous décidons notre désir. Les distinctions que nous opérons à travers nos sens, nos intellects, nos émotions, à travers nos ventres, nos valeurs et nos buts. Dès ces niveaux-là, les distinctions sont la résultante des distances que nous saisissons d’entre les choses, où chaque distance est la mesure d’un rapport entre des potentiels d’attaque et de défense, d’agression et d’adaptation. Que les règles en viennent à promouvoir un groupe sur un autre, contre un autre, et nous aurons perdu. Notre vitalité est au contraire à trouver des règles qui soient la manifestation de ce que notre expérience produit entre nous de commun. Certains des gars de la maison demandent à ce que soit mis en place un système de lois et de peines, amende ou expulsion, afin de dissuader les comportements asociaux.
Par exemple, celui qui provoque une bagarre, doit-on le punir ? — Ma réponse : le punir, non. Mais le mettre à la porte quelques temps, pour que chacun puisse continuer avec l’intelligence de ce que des bagarres ne sont pas désirables dans la situation présente. Idem pour la participation au ménage de l’usine. Idem pour certains comportements qui détruiraient notre respect mutuel, cette trêve que nous avons conclue pour vivre ensemble quelques temps et créer les conditions d’autre chose. Ces règles ne sont donc pas des lois, mais du désir et de la connaissance. Elles sont faites de distance, elles sont une mesure de notre expérience. Le discours qui pose qu’il n’y a pas d’ordre possible sans répression nie cet empirisme de la vie collective. Le meilleur moyen d’éloigner les humains de cette expérience c’est toujours de leur faire peur, en leur disant que la rue est dangereuse, que le monde est dangereux, que les étrangers sont dangereux ; ce qui vaut aussi pour les anarchistes, dans la mesure où avoir peur des règles et se définir uniquement par opposition se fait au détriment de la création de relations significatives. Être radical, dans ce contexte, n’a de portée qu’à trouver comment tenir dans le chaos, pour y faire sens du milieu des choses. * Faux prénoms.
ÂŠ Hamideh Zolfaghari 1 & 2 on the next page â€Ś
Freedom’. The project was supported by Autograph ABP, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts
England. © Patricia Ng’ang’a
I REALLY WISH YOU HAD TOLD ME THE TRUTH A POEM BY NATASHA MARIN
Throughout our conversations my cousin is paralysed from the waist down let me check my email in your eyes Throughout our conversations eyelids cradle tears and he would poke himself in his legsâ€” Sharp objects fork openings forget opiates and narcotics, such mediocre bandwidth Throughout our conversations tin baths rust, unreasonable keywords linger salt drips and crystallizes, hands part barley Fingertips rake scalps Throughout our conversations artisan signs and ejaculation If you put something in my hand I can correspond with bruises.
TOO MANY BLACKAMOORS A SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHY BY HEATHER AGYEPONG
On 11 July 1596, Queen Elizabeth caused an open letter to be sent to the Lord Mayor of London and his Aldermen, and to the mayors and sheriffs of other towns in the following terms: Her Majesty understanding that several blackamoors have lately been brought into this realm, of which kind of people there are already too many here...her Majesty’s pleasure therefore is that those kind of people should be expelled from the land, and for that purpose instruction is given to the bearer, Edward Banes, to take ten of those blackamoors that were brought into this realm by Sir Thomas Baskerville on his last voyage, and transport them out of the realm. In this we require you to give him any help he needs, without fail. Extract: Staying Power, Peter Fryer (1984) The work was inspired by a 19th century Carte-de-Visite of Lady Sarah Forbes Bonetta. Sarah was the West African adopted goddaughter of Queen Victoria who came to live in England at a young age. The images are based on my own personal experiences as a young black woman, dealing with the macro and micro traumas of racism encountered while travelling around European countries. The format was based around Rosy Martin and Jo Spence’s ‘Re-enactment Phototherapy’. Too Many Blackamoors aims to challenge the ‘strong, independent, black female’ narrative that can burden and often entrap black women. With Sarah as my template, the project attempts to illustrate the effects of such perceptual limitations whilst exploring my own internal conflicts of falling short from such mainstream ideals. The project was supported by Autograph ABP, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.
FUCKITALLUPISM THE DOWNFALL MANIFESTO (PART 1) BY RAE LANDAHL ILORIN
To live within the concept and confines of feminism is to exist in a constant state of comfortable discomfort. Every self-identifying woman, and every person who has the title of ‘woman’ forced upon them, who is conscious of their position in a society which continuously subordinates them, bears feminism on their head and on their back like a cross or a crown of thorns. The struggle is uphill, we do not choose to exist this way, we do not choose to exist as feminists, we suffer the choice made for us. I want to fuck feminism up the arse with my fist, wear it as a trophy and shout “I’M FREE” and instead I sit and I discuss and I look backwards and I struggle. Who put this burden upon me? What force obligates me to feminism? Why am I a woman? Who gave me this name, who exists in my group, where do I belong and how? When a man who exists at the centre of patriarchy chooses to proclaim himself as feminist, he makes just that; a choice. He makes novelty of a struggle he will never truly lay eyes on, while spouting impressive facts and numerical data depicting which women earn what and which women do what job and etc etc. Hear me clearly when I say that I do not want to be a feminist. Feminism is fused to my skin, it exists in my every word, in my appearance and in the air around me like a lifelong sickness. This sickness I will never share with this man and only out of spite would I wish it upon him.
… Heather Agyepong, ‘Too Many Blackamoors’ 2015
LA METAMORFOSIS EN MARIPOSA BY ANNA KOPECKÁ
Hoy me levanté guerrera Sé que no puedo fallar Y si fallo Que de mis lágrimas se hagan Perlas Un collar triple Del dolor envuelto en Amor Chci tři řady perel A ne tři obruče černokněžníka
Nací como mujer Y no lo sabía hasta que un hombre me lo dijo De ahí todo un discurso mundial se vino De lo que es ser mujer y lo que no Y así Acabé encarcelada en las pautas del sistema patriarcal Separada de mi misma De mi conciencia Mimo sebe sama Nekompletní já 2
Mi universo terminó siendo dividido por fronteras Frontera entre mi mente y mi cuerpo Pianista pero mujer Estudiante brillante pero con culo grande
1 Quiero tres collares de perlas Y no tres aros del hechicero
2 Fuera de mí E incompleta
Del mes la mejor empleada pero con ese sueldo bien explotada Y no es todo Las fronteras se multiplican En una intersección interminable y creciente como la burbuja inmobiliaria De mi condición como mujer, como checa, como becaria, como empleada, como autónoma, como hispanohablante y como habitante de Barcelona y Argentina Estoy en el centro o en la periferia? No lo sé Cuando vivía en Brasil era la mujer blanca, europea, colonizadora y moderna Viviendo en Europa soy mujer de Europa del Este, campesina, tradicional - de periferia Trabajando para ganarme la vida, explotada en prácticas poco pagas, por que con carrera de antropología no encontré trabajo, estoy en una empresa donde soy una hippie Y me ven como una mujer rara - que no compra zapatos y no le interesa la moda Yendo a encuentros marxistas y círculos literarios, con mi ropa de oficina soy una niňa empresarial, dicen - y por que luchan contra los capitalistas luchan contra mí Al final del cabo a todos les interesa el parecer Pero yo esa enfermedad no quiero padecer Mas como escribió una mujer muy sabia Hay tantísimas fronteras que dividen la gente Pero por cada frontera existe también un puente 3 El puente es nuestra conciencia co-lectiva Una co-lección de pensamientos críticos Conciencia feminista y unificadora Unificadora de todos los elementos de la vida Que el sistema nos quita V tomto smyslu Jsme všechny do jedné mestizas 4 Ese puente hacia mi misma Fue la lengua española Que me permitió la concientización De mi pre-determinada condición En mi idioma no tuve esas palabras
3 Gina Valdéz, in Glória Anzaldúa, Borderlands - La Frontera, p. 107, ISBN 879960850 4 En ese sentido Todas hasta la última somos mestizas
Tampoco la libertad Pero como mestiza cultural Yo a mi lengua eso se la puedo dar Jsem mestiza mnoha idejí a mnoha kultur Jsem jako mnoha řek soutok 5 Nací Soy la mariposa Con alas muy fuertes Llenos de vida Y de colores Que no se rompen Por más vuelen lejos Mujer fuerte Co tě nezabije, to tě posílí Jak pevná jsou tá křídla motýlí
Initially, I wanted to write this poetics of feminist hysterical confusion of my life in English. However, after considering it twice I decided to feel free of the academic-linguistic oppression of English as the most powerful language in the world and chose to use the two languages of my soul: Czech and Spanish. I am Czech, Czech is my native tongue but Spanish was the language of my connection to myself, of my personal growth and healing. According to Ruth Behar, ‘translations are stories born again with an alien tongue.’ How to translate my own language into academic language? For this reason I decided to write a poem instead of an essay. As with every other movement, feminism is also constructed culturally; what is considered feminist in one place can be thought the contrary in another. How to translate feminism across borders? Does the word feminism sound too binding? Gayatri Spivak offers a theoretical solution when she states: ‘There is no pure feminist realm outside of patriarchy.’ Through this dialectic position, Spivak suggests that women find their place in patriarchy, since there is no category of “woman” outside the patriarchal system.
5 Soy mestiza cultural y de ideas Soy como la delta de muchos ríos 6 Behar, R., Translated women: Crossing the border with Esperanza´s story, Beacon Press, Boston, 1993, p. 18
Aisha Mirza, ‘Self Portrait’ 2015 © Aisha Mirza
OCCUPY BABIES AN AFFECTIONATE UP YOUR ASS BY JORDAN SARTI
Anna Block, Untitled from Elements series, 2016 ÂŠ Anna Block
Olivia Mathurin ‘A home away from home’ refuses to let the work of Amy Ashwood Garvey and Sam Manning be forgotten. In 1936 the pair opened the Florence Mills Social Parlour in Carnaby Street in 1936.
The parlour was a cross between a community centre, a restaurant and Jazz club. It was where you went to see familiar faces, find your favourite foods and to feel somewhat like being back home.
There is no English heritage ‘Blue plaque’ anywhere but now we know, we mustn’t forget.
It is a project that reaffirms, celebrates and is a testament to our staying power of the Pre-Windrush Black Britons.
This project is a start It is a provocation We need to re-remember
It’s significance deserves to be highlighted and celebrated.
Saying its name keeps it alive.
OCCUPY BABIES AN AFFECTIONATE UP YOUR ASS BY JORDAN SARTI
I prayed the revolution would be quiet. I am sick of having a body. The tattoo on his left arm says Oktober and makes me cringe but my body responds so we have sex until he runs out of condoms (“I have one left, but I want to save it”). Everyone else I know is sick in bed from their break up with socialism. These warnings from dead intellectual men swirl in my mind, emerging to the forefront as I write. Art should interrogate the world, not seek to explain it, says Barthes in an authoritative serif font, but at my core I am essentially a self-help writer, and self-help is not Art, unless appropriated by someone cynical.
power for freedom. Desk littered with post-it notes like Coca-Cola Wednesday, married and remarried to soulless salesman, she says she can walk away at any moment. But she never does. I see her for what she is: fundamentally trapped, and in turn I mistake my opportunism for a viable politic. The boy understands but is displeased. If all the radical chicks pair off with silicon-valley douchebags, whom will he fuck? He does not like his exchange value. So we drink more, eat oysters, the bill comes and delicately with two fingers he slides the bills from a tattered wallet. The measured gesticulations of a broke boy. I turn my face away because it is ugly. ***
The boy with the tattoo puts his hand on my thigh across a smelly dive bar couch and asks about plans. He bought a ticket to Mexico; he’s leaving soon to be a militant, Chicago’s sexiness sapped, demilitarised two years post-NATO. He got the tattoo before general assemblies grew fragmented and tiresome, an old man rising to his wobbly knees with his long thin finger pointed shouting, “Violence! Violence!”
“Unable to relate or to love, the male must work. Females crave absorbing, emotionally satisfying, meaningful activity, but lacking the opportunity or ability for this, they prefer to idle and waste away their time in ways of their own choosing - sleeping, shopping, bowling, shooting pool, playing cards and other games, breeding, reading, walking around, daydreaming, eating, playing with themselves, popping pills, going to the I don’t need to explain why the tattoo is significant. movies, getting analyzed, traveling, raising dogs and I got my first on my right arm with him one night, a cats, lolling about on the beach, swimming, watching moon tattoo, “for women,” but really against men, with TV, listening to music, decorating their houses, gara man because I was too afraid to go alone. In Mexico, dening, sewing, nightclubbing, dancing, visiting, he casts aside romantic love for militancy while I `improving their minds’ (taking courses), and absorbing grow ever more dreamy, tapping away at midnight on my `culture’ (lectures, plays, concerts and `arty’ tarot card app. Love gives me this ancient clairvoymovies). ance: on the new moon, blood stains my sheets like magic. Therefore, many females would, even assuming complete economic equality between the sexes, prefer living “I think I will marry someone with money, so I can with males or peddling their asses on the street, thus write,” I guess. My story is a new classic. The having most of their time for themselves, to spen ding second-wave career mother with the Starbucks Gold Card many hours of their days doing boring, stultifying, and suburban Taco Bell dinners who mistakes her earning non-creative work for someone else, functioning as
less than animals, as machines, or, at best - if able to get a `good’ job - co-managing the shitpile. What will liberate women, therefore, from male control is the total elimination of the money-work system, not the attainment of economic equality with men within it.”1 Valerie’s vicious critique of men, married women and other degenerates belies an intensely utopian feminist disgust; belief in a humane world. An intermittently homeless panhandler and sex worker, Solanas’ devotion to leisure studies was often at her own expense. Despite her homage to the bored feminist revolutionary, Solanas was also fiercely devoted to her texts, endlessly refining SCUM and her play, Up Your Ass. The vibrant, irreverent play has only been performed a handful of times. In it, she asserts a gender politic that is far more complex than a reductive reading of SCUM might suggest. Her characters’ gender identities are multifarious and mutable, self-conscious and celebrated. *** Hours later in his bed we are drunk and naked with an ASMR suit-fitting video playing in the background. His window frames a night scene of a playground and the empty church that owns his building. In the dark we decide he will run for sheriff and begin our manifesto. “No, I guess I’ll have to go to law school so I have enough money to marry you,” he jokes. In the dark I feel so callous. “I don’t know why I say things like that,” I sigh, pulling the hair from my temples. “It’s so great to see you undress yourself,” he replies. In the morning the light is hard and yellow and God fearing children scream beneath his curtain-less window. I struggle to pull my tights over my hips horizontally.
brutally depressed. Sitting on a ledge at the outskirts during white-blue twilight he approached us to ask if we would be a part of some guerrilla activist group. They let my friend pose for pictures but she was too young and girlish to organise. Cops greeted her by name in the street. In June of her freshman year, studying for finals, she called her exiled Iranian father in panic as she peered out her apartment’s window at an undercover car. That night, one of their primary organizing spaces was raided. And then Homan Square, Chicago’s CIA black site, one of the protestors arrested at NATO was handcuffed to a bench for seventeen hours, then briefly disappeared. Almost three years later, no one really cares, except his parents. That summer a charming Marxist boy broke her heart; she quit the revolution and drank gin in bed for months. *** After years of revision, getting by selling conversation and sleeping on concrete city rooftops, Solanas finally thought she might have a shot at producing Up Your Ass through Warhol’s factory. As Breanne Fahs notes in her book on Solanas, even her feminist contemporaries balked at her selection of Andy Warhol as a target for her shooting, thinking him an odd symbol of patriarchal culture because he was queer, passive, and the opposite of hypermasculine.2 This suggests, though, that Andy’s passive masculinity afforded him an ambivalence to female pain, an aloofness set against Solanas’ rhapsodic assertions that the female function is to groove. Warhol refused to produce her work yet used her arresting energy in his own films. She appears in I, A Man, negotiating letting Tom Baker into her apartment from a shadowy staircase. Then he lost her play. ***
We met at a protest, me with a friend who went on to become an activist poster child, then later
I have a post-heartbreak persona that becomes more decorated with each appearance. I don’t want to work.
1. Valerie Solanas, SCUM Manifesto.
2. Breanne Fahs by Liz Kinnamon. BOMB Magazine.
A part of me would like to marry my upstairs neighbour. He and his roommate never have girls over, when they come home and I’m smoking on the stoop they greet me politely and let me be. Alexander Olsen, School of Business. I’m so pretty when I’m idle. “Sex is so mired in power dynamic,” I told the boy with the tattoo, “it’s inescapable.” “Well,” he hesitated, “I feel like when we have sex… it’s pretty equal, right?” I shrugged sadly, forcing an innocent enough Marxist poet into the role of male oppressor. Maybe I set up this persona to be broken cause I’m a masochist and it’s romantic to be Changed By Love. I approach romance like a dog. I earnestly believe that it is untenable yet: what else. What else is there for me. Not Mexico, not militancy. The boy goes somewhere new every few years in search of direction. Being an old-fashioned communist today is like loving a dead girl. He affects a lisp to mock his yuppie conservationist comrades. His is a healthy, masculine politic. But all the fashionable kids turned nihilist, make net art of their faces layered with Nike logos, speeding up our presumed self-destruction. My mom talks endlessly about my small inheritance: freedom? Second wave women martyr themselves for indifferent daughters. I got a $12 cheque in the mail from a camming website. For days of labour, messaging with men who try to bargain: $20 for a ten-minute video of me and a dildo. I cash out tips from the pseudo-intellectuals I chat with and delete my profile. I’m sick of having a body that’s free to look at. The boy goes to Mexico, I lie like a doll in my room and earn nothing. Daniela Gale, ‘separate absurdity/remembering your absence’ © Daniela Gale
THE OTHER WOMAN AN POEM BY MICHELLE ISAVA
I first discovered her by her hair, And I found it everywhere; In the washing machine, in the fridge + vertically clinging onto bathroom tiles. I knew they were not mine because my hair has never been dyed. The colors of her hair faded from gold to black, it was also much longer + straighter than mine ever was. One day I mustered the courage to ask him about her + I was easily dismissed, Forcing me to make up my own answers. And as I thought long + hard performing mental gymnastics around + over + under what I had seen, I finally realised that she must be my sister + so I could love her too! Through his body we found each other. She was more womanly than I could ever be, + could satisfy him in ways I was not designed for. They used things we never did + I would always find the remains. Her invisible presence made us a family once more. Him, a man grieving for the family he never knew he lost, While distracting himself in a young woman who would enthusiastically call him daddy, As hers was mentally gone. Now, she is older with a son of her own, And his father, too, must search for benevolent thighs, ample hips + a venerable embrace. Her bosom that does not leak gives full permission to his grown manâ€™s grasp, As he plunges deeper his member into her soft.
Dig, dig deep to bury yourself. Plant yourself, to be reborn, In the ever ready release between a womanâ€™s thighs. The deprivation of a motherâ€™s embrace can always be surrogated. She is everywhere to be found, Ready + willing, To forgive, Moisten, Facilitate, Come Inside, Home + Peace. This one is younger + free like you, Travelling in the ether for the meantime. When you two find each other, You will grow again out of the soft. The soil is nourishment for the endless cycles of repeated connections, that cause one to chase out, leave + cling anew.
Yasmine Akim BJØRK,
P L A S T I C ’ , 2015 © Yasmine Akim & BJØRK
FOREPLAY AN EROTIC STUDY BY FRANKI COOKNEY As part of the Erotic Objects project (2015) by Bad Mouth / Eva Cookney My fingers grip the slim, hard handle. It’s cold. The metal takes on the heat from my hand, from my body. I only have to wait. A minute passes. I touch my tongue to its edge. It doesn’t hurt but the sensation of that narrow metal reminds me of sharper, more dangerous toys. I imagine my tongue rent in two, the blood, the saliva. Slowly, I begin to rotate it, tilting my head back to allow it to turn without losing contact. I feel the cold stripe of it slide against the tip of my tongue. I press it inward and it makes a dent against my flesh, a temporary forked tongue. My breath mists against the bowl. I’m not ready. Lifting it up, I gaze into the dark, smoky, distorted hollow. It is almost the exact size and shape of my eye socket. I turn it on its side and bring the ellipse towards my face, watching the light glint off it and the colours and shapes transform from blocks to lines, to barely discernible smears of skin and hair, brown and black, white and red. I hold it over my closed eye. It cups me like a second eyelid. A protective shield, evolved over millennia. Or developed by scientists: created, patented, distributed. Enforced. To stop me from seeing what I shouldn’t. It might work, as well. But no amount of protection could stop me from thinking it. I press harder and feel its coolness. It’s good. The body is hot, so hot. Every inch of me radiates. Some inches more than others. Beneath my bionic lid, I try to open my eye. My lashes, squashed against the steel, cast black patterns across my vision. It’s uncomfortable. The surface is just millimetres from my eyeball and the precarity of it feels like a sort of test. Am I ready? I used to do this as a child. Not this, exactly. But I used to play. I’d hold it up to my eye just as I am now. Then I’d hold to my nose. A child’s nose fits perfectly into its curve. An adult’s nose is too big. Nevertheless, I bring it to my nose and gently run it downwards over the end. Then, slowly, I stroke it back up again, feeling the damp condensation of my breath on its scooped-out surface. It’s still cold. Twirling it in my fingers, I examine my reflection in its bulging rear. My lips look enormous, laughable. Thick sacks of pinkish play dough encased in fine, flaking flesh. Only with thousands and thousands of nerve endings. I’m nearly ready. I tilt my chin up and pout, bringing my hand-held reflection closer. I close my eyes and press the back of it to my pursed lips. The breath from my nostrils bounces back at me. But there’s no mist now. I turn it over, part my lips and softly slip it into my mouth. It clanks as it touches my teeth before settling comfortably over my tongue. I release the handle and find I can hold it quite easily in my mouth, my tongue exploring it languorously from below. Then I wait, my wet mouth smacking noisily against the steel as I suck. A minute passes. It’s warm. I’m ready.
THE STORY OF THE AGENCY OF CUNNILINGUS BY TESSA NOEL
albatross of desiring, creatures from the absence of the sun excluded from transcendent endeavor yet longing for fluctuating liquid exchange then striving for different consistencies of flesh so our desires we become with cause of all my presence an imaginative imperative that holds the condition of my very existence as you electrify shapes of swarms and particular masses feeding our appetite of becoming so we live in the agency of cunnilingus and rather in mutual intensities we trust raw melodies of cha-cha-cha palmeras translating pink noise desire in the floating world impermanent and ever changing the projection of categories or an old version we demur like who really cares that performs carnal knowledge with an octopus because in the moment of climaxing we all are the same one with our senso-technical interface mingled with a catalytic power so I become octopussy the sea gave birth to our species, many microbes desiring our bodies, to religions, to new continents now it leaves its territory hissing its constant changing realm with ubiquitous noise We are part of Nature as a whole whose order we follow.1 spinoza but I cannot transform my being human through a libidinal utopia I wanted to feel how it is to embody an image of a world too fluctuating to catch something I desired that only got accessible by the death of an entity It comes from a raging sea as my substantiality spells my desire of becoming with this raging sea becoming cosmic humming the refrain of its striving waves for becoming with another stage of materiality In virtuality I become with the ocean, my sister, the sun just like an infinite choreography I call the idea of a raging sea waltzing with the wilderness of wifi streams and acid nights a synonym to the discontinuity of a romantic idea of nature to compensate our finite imaginary perversities ignoring boundaries between human and nonhuman but transcendent supremacy and its shining doors will not dissolve our isolation rather in mutual intensities we trust
D i g g e r ’ , 2015 © Mandy Gerrit Niewohner
carnal conatus and striving eyes catching bucolic temporalities oh woman what eyes looking at your skin self climaxing canons and perchance a placebo-pill to cover our melancholia of the absence of the promised eternal osmosis of our all flesh dance me strawberries and we become spring be my paradigm for a while my world has become flat again matter gaia, imagine the floating world a one of polymorphous perversities ignoring boundaries between human and nonhuman the politics of the cosmos are at stake not the issue of an expanded internationalism the oceans surface is rising, a raging sea that draws possible forms of ever changing modalities of being not with ships but with our desires and imaginaries as infinite oceans of possible identities intensity will expand horizons, the infinite geography of our desires becoming a sphere not based on common soil
FEMINIST AMBIVALENCE A POEM BY MADELEINE STACK
but all worlds being equal we’ll stagger in out of minds
of dryness like a dune of a wasserfall façade let me not feel hunger
in the sleeper carriage the basin mirror makes incomings recede; two cities fly from one another like how I always go both ways
woffering: one golden fleece a nectarine infant’s fingernails dripping emeralds a pink swimming pool the usual a woman dislodged from time
o my cool comfort o my red flag o my little curdled milkpie o you all burning in the morn at the sink wanting head through these all concrete aquariums sheep meadow I couldn’t settle. fine zigzag land sky music playing kinda violetmuted. building that italianate red we only ask for the floral sublime in which we all live to be recognised. kiss the ring on the hand of my dead mistress las vegas prayer for liquidity beauty passivity o lord let me accept the ebb & flow of capital & youth
the way I’m casually appalled when the light dares to change wreath of curds puttering spring the glass snake hanging half-inside me slow death in america little death in america a pool that is money who small lucky god comes by with a bouquet of reeds do we mistake wanting to give pleasure for feeling like a man I’m always this unholy innocent never the agent of my own destruction
‘M’s Wet Dream’, 2015
‘Eve and Adam’, 2015
‘Die Hard’, 2015 ©
‘Origin of One Possible
Orgasm’ © Anna-Stina Treumund
A HOT TEMPER IS ITS OWN GOOD ROMANCE AN EXCERPT FROM A NOVEL IN PROGRESS BY ALEX ALVINA CHAMBERLAND Tenderness deep like the ocean wrapped up softly in barbed wire. I am set free in this world of my own words, without turning in an entirely different direction, thankfully connections aren’t always those careerist things that some people get through their parents and others get through opportunism while other others don’t get them at all. May my expressed emotions extend beyond the constraint of whether or not the dictionary contains words for them. I will not allow you or anyone to interrupt me with your hang overs, cynicism, drunkenness, tiredness, jadedness or made in America and honed in New York short attention span. Our deal with each other is to say what’s real inside and speak to each other as if the whole world was going up in flames and remember that this is not far from the truth. And after I’ve opened up wide, said AHH, told you everything, you can open up wide, say AHHH, and tell me everything and then maybe we can sift through all our personal turmoils and proceed to tear down ALL the advertisements in the subway. It is a certain sort of fever, dying so often inside that one finds the map to immortality: Following the uneven path, crooked, striding over the roots blasting through the earth in a rough-and-tumble. Tripping and falling. PASSION is my gift. Casting myself into the flames with no fear of failure or annihilation, it is an honor, as is taking care of the world: My mission in life, I was born with it. Pay close attention to the world in an ant path, the world in each little ant, do not miss it. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Claric-eeeee. Claric-eee Lispector, goddess of thoughtfeelings, you changed my perspectives amidst accusations of gender essentialism from coherent mutilators of imagination who’s view of disorder is missing a shot at the tennis court. Clarice and I prefer the smell of manure to the smell of newly
painted pharmacies. I find that it is okay to lay there in that pile of poop and it is not because it is SUBVERSIVE for feminine people to talk about EXCREMENTS. Man, Woman, nonsense, I am nothing but a lioness splintered with arrows, foolish humans who think penetration kills oh believe me you’ve tried, by the time your 10 hour work day is finished I have multiplied and disappeared from your sensory field. HA! What a dirty trick I have played on you, I am water dirt blood and dead skin cells crammed down the drain on a journey to the sewer presenting a present to the rats scurrying away from the cats attempt to present death as a gift for the killer in you and the killer in me. When I die my blood will be scared shitless by the six feet of dirt overhead, clueless to the fact that it is too late for an infection. Bonjour Violette Leduc! It is impossible to be friends with her, everybody knows that. The diamond needs the sun in order to shine bright. The fog is lending a shape to the air. I do not wish to be a slave to the senses of my eyes. I see a watermelon on a table and it is tears making space for solitary in solidarity. Covet my internal world I much prefer it to the actual loneliness in the company of club kids who are just like the popular kids in high school only with better outfits. I am standing completely still and it is not a waste of time. What did I do to not belong? Nothing, darling. Thank you, Thank you – that nothing was the best thing you have said or done all day. Are you beginning to understand now? If not well, then I guess I will stop doing nothing (for now, I’m longing for the next time already!), and start digging deeper. Everything is moving slowly. It used to go faster. When I was 20 I thought I knew almost everything. The truth was that the only reason I thought that preposterous thing, was because I hardly knew anything at
all. I could read a book about a subject and believe I knew everything about that subject. Nowadays I can write a book about a subject and still feel uncertain. It will take me at least 4-5 years to finish this book and by then some quick and trendy person has probably finished a book on a similar subject and gotten credit. My mother took two weeks to pack for a trip and chewed her food 32 times. I refuse to speed up. Exhausting forward-success-striving mode our world will not survive for long at this pace just ask the marathon runner who knows she can not run as fast as a sprinter. You came and heightened a keen capacity of physical sensation in me. “I cut you out because I couldn’t stand being a passing fancy. Before I give my body, I must give my thoughts, my mind, my dreams. And you weren’t having any of those.” Sylvia Plath IsOnRepeatAgainAgainAgain a siren cry from us alpha femmes. The warmth of his mouth moulds me into molten lava delivering me from the very center of the earth where I have burned with a Y and another heat than the sunlight for so long. Is there a name for what I am transforming into inside?! Yes, VOLCANIC LIGHTNING! Yes, this hot temper is its own good romance. The death of reason is not pitchblackdark but another kind of light with emotions that follow no logic and desires that are like so long farewells. I realize this fiction is a fixation and shall go as I came. Intact. With the burdened torture of countless flaws, too much passion for the impossible pressed against my lips by the solitude in the eye of the storm. I emerge as a flame removing all your lies and masks. He kisses me hard exposing a bleeding open wound, but I’m used to residing in the BLOOD EVERYWHERE rooms of the heart filled with blood. You see a bike ride around the block. I see an enthralling adventure around the world. Volatile and Vulnerable. I stopped and I looked at you. HOW COULD ONE PERSON BE SO BEAUTIFUL!? HOW COULD ONE MOMENT BE SO PERFECT!? It would be a sin to forget this, promise I won’t. It means the world to me and then tears it to shreds. Understand my tears as words asking, are you readying yourself for leaving me now or will you follow a river to the depth of the sea at the space of continental plates for further definitions? Stop and inquire there: Volcanic Lightning does it
exist, ask the scientist, the secret is: Yes! Didn’t answer anything for real for the real question is how do you morph into it and that’s where the scientists become confused messes of chaos, they fade away, as I enter, and the clarity of the incomprehensible takes over the room. Breath it in. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood. My first love 7 years ago, I tried to save him from killing himself, but had I continued the noose would have only grown big enough for both of us. A dear friend later also took his life and I was too busy with my own problems. Oh, Claric-eee, you know what I know and so much more that I one day hope to learn. Can I call you up in the middle of the night and tell you that the panther doesn’t frighten me one bit, we look into each other’s eyes and we transmit ourselves into each other, but I can not sleep because I’ve lusted for and loved so many men with blank expressions on their faces hard as rock as they move forward, they move on, and they hurt me so much more than the guys who catcall, punch my face, pinch my ass. Clarice and I took Valium to put a pillow over our screams, but we are still screaming, you just can’t hear it. Alas, I have spread myself out wide again, maybe I should get back to the point, although I believe there is always more than one question to be asked like: Are you afraid of being alone? Why? And if the answer to the first question is no, then, are you afraid of being together? Why? When Fiona Apple wrote the lyrics “If you don’t have a date, celebrate, Go out and sit on the lawn and do nothing, cuz it’s just what you must do and nobody does it anymore?” it was in a time before social media and smart phones. I wonder if Fiona Apple is just like me and doesn’t have a smart phone and doesn’t like social media? And I wonder if she is just like me, big on stage and in writing, smaller in life and though she has many friends and fans on facebook the only person who has called her in the last week is the doctor confirming that she doesn’t have strep throat, but perhaps a bad case of hypochondria. If she also feels that our shared experience of being raped may have led to more sensitivity and vulnerability, but that this is an asset not a defect. We met by waterfalls and in bingo halls and created arenas for ulterior realities with windows vanished
into thin air exposed to the four winds giantesses far from loneliness. Care to join us or would you prefer to stay in your neat clean house sitting atop the point of a needle? How can I find the language to explain to you how this means nothing and very much at the same time, bidibidi-bom-bom, insywinsyteenyweeny, as I am simultaneously wide open yet still missing pieces and the subway leads to Coney Island and the sunrise and the waves. Stillness. I love this. But we don’t even see them in all their glorious detail and we don’t even know three living beings under that surface yet we claim to know shit. I always attempt to venture under the surface too quickly but the waves this season are seemingly cool and I am warm with intensity and brightly colored broken glass scattered all over the ocean floor lighting up the dark. You may never understand, but these are my anchors. The ground is not quicksand. Allow your running to come to a halt. I fucking dare you to stay with me for a minute in these words because I smell of you and for a second that’s the kind of thing that makes us forget that we have created a pile of garbage the size of Texas smack in the middle of the beauty that we haven’t proven (BUT I HOPE) that (ONE DAY) we (WILL) deserve.
Daniela Gale, ‘The Edge of What We Know’ © Daniela Gale
LOGIC IN ANGER AN ACCOUNT BY SOPHIA E. TERAZAWA
The stone is lodged in my throat, there, at the base of my neck. If I curl up like this, it may pass, too. A video triggers a memory, flickers a sound. On. The p-ain, the p-ain punctures my lips. A hailstorm falls out. Mami, do you remember the way the waiter laughed at your accent? Later, the media will call this kind of mockery, with slanted eyes pulled back and dirty gapped teeth, free speech. Mami, do you remember how moms in mini-vans shout at us in the parking lot? In the name of free speech, let you smile to show you are a “good Vietnamese.” Bite our tongues and drive home in silence, for we do not have the words to recover from the bullet wounds of everyday racism, everyday “free speech.” “Do not think about it,” you say. Then what am I supposed to do with the venom that falls freely? Fuck you. I want to say. White pig. White devil. White. White. Laughing faces. White motherfuckers. Fuck you. Fuck you. “Sophia,” you say. “Try.” Mami, let’s dream of palm trees again. The ones you plant keep dying. The ones you plant keep dying. Mami, make another brother if you can. The ones you birth keep dying. The ones you birth keep dying. If I learned your language, could we talk like sisters again? The words I write keep wilting. The words I write keep wilting. Mami, make another boat if you can. The ones we leave keep waiting. The ones we leave keep waiting. I visit my grandfather, Le Van Tan, once a year. If I ever had the chance to meet him in person, Mami, you would have nervously reminded me seven times on the plane trip over to bow with my arms crossed properly. “Arms like this, emi-chan! Arms like this!” “Okaasan, I know! Okay?!” Daniela Gale, ‘Something
Simple Happened’ © Daniela Gale
Instead, I call for him once a year. Le Van Tan. Le Van Tan. It is always a short visit. For the most part, I am mute, unable to even say a proper hello in a language that evaporates from the tongue. He thinks of my name as “Little One,” and I don’t mind. I don’t mind. I look more like my Japanese father anyway and his name translates to just that: “One.” Grandfather, here is a picture that I traced. Here, some of my poems. Grandfather, would you like to hear a song? It is in Japanese, but I hope you don’t mind. I hope you don’t mind.
You become a crow, watching. Touch the window. I’m on the other side. The tide is waiting, stones falling. Grandfather, we are losing time. “Little One,” you say. “Do not cry. I am free.” How does freedom taste in Sài Gòn? My eyes are ground to fine, black powder, and my bones, my bones, they kindle the flame.
DEDICATION AN ACCOUNT BY SOPHIA E. TERAZAWA Mami, you devastate me with your quiet. So much is are blackened from running. In the occupied streets of Trịnh Công Sơn. For now there are no words, only the lips of every loudspeaker and radio broadcast, home, I do not bother to wash my feet.
happening, but you do not move. The bottoms of my feet of the exploding city, there is the music, the sad music a weeping violin and classical guitar. Revolution is on but there is more to be sorry for, you feel it. Coming
“Mami!” I shout. “The police are outside. You can hear them, rusty, like geese. One pointed a gun at Uncle Huynh down the road. I had to leave him there and came running home as quickly as I could. I lost my shoes and my way, my way. Mami, can you hear me? Mami? Mami! We have to go. Let’s go.” Mami, you stand there. Why, Mami? Why? Last night, I went to bed with a pen and a scrap of paper. The light stayed on for even as an adult, I am still afraid of demons. Isolation splinters the mind in funny ways. We are still trapped, unable to leave, even today at the end of a cul-de-sac. My father as a ten-year-old boy releases a kite. He has never, in his small life, suffered any direct devastating loss. His concerns are that of playthings. Things that go round and round. “I like the cold at night,” he says. “Keeps the comforting ones close.” I, too, carry talismans in the shape of plush animals. They jump and sing songs, never sad. Other than this, a mirror and one fistful of family stories, I do not know how to placate the noisy. The noisy hiss and rattle. I yell, “Stop! Stop!” Here, I want to make it known that there is no voiceless made a voice, no triumph in the narrative of dying. Many will return with many faces. Hatred returns as hatred with love. Armies kill people in the name of freedom. Citizens kill brown bodies in the name of community safety. Men rape women out of admiration for softened bodies. The mind plummets to an inaudible SPLAT! on the concrete and corporations stop to take a photo of the pulp. Civilization and cures happen through taglines alone. It is my wish to infect you with such tongues. Trust me if you love me. Trust me if you know me. If you think to know me. Touch. Don’t touch. I have simply a plush animal, a mirror, and one fist. Show your face and I will translate what the dead have to say upon your body.
PALESTINE A SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHY BY BABAK SALARI Babak Salari is a Montreal-based photographer and educator who chronicles lives at the margins of society. His documentary projects include: Iranian artists in exile; matriarchal, indigenous communities in Mexico; and gays and transvestites in Cuba. Recently, he documented those displaced and brutalized by war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. His interest in photography began as a teenager in his native Iran where he contributed to various publications. At the age of twenty-one, his political activities resulted in his imprisonment for six months by the Khomeini regime. Upon his temporary release from jail, he fled to Pakistan and, a year later, arrived in Canada where he resumed his study and practice of photography. His new documentary work Traumas and Miracles: Portraits of Northwestern Bulgaria deals with disorientation, loss, pain, and isolation. Babakâ€™s work has been exhibited internationally including the following spaces: National Art Gallery of Sofia, Bulgaria, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece, and Centro Historico in Merida, Mexico. He is also published in several magazines. His four main publications Faces, Bodies, Personas: Tracing Cuban Stories, Remembering the People of Afghanistan, My Street Cuban Stories, and Traumas and Miracles: Portraits from Northwestern Bulgaria, were published by Janet 45 in Bulgaria in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively. He has received many awards including a Gold Addy from the American Ad Federation in 2004 for his work Locating Afghanistan.
Babak Salari, Palestine, Outside Jenin Camp, A horse looks forward at Jenin Refugee camp. Feb 2004, 26”x17” RC print © Babak Salari http://babaksalari.com Babak Salari, Abu Dise, East Jerusalem, Palestine, The Israel wall dividing Jerusalem is being completed. Feb 2004, 26”x17” RC print © Babak Salari Babak Salari, Abu Dise, East Jerusalem, Palestine An old Palestinian man is observing the completion of the wall. Feb 2004, 26”x17” RC print © Babak Salari Babak Salari, Abu Dise, East Jerusalem, Palestine. Palestinian crossing the Israel security wall. Feb 2004 © Babak Salari
SEOUL AN ACCOUNT BY HAE SEO KIM
I am dozing off in the middle of a lecture that I helped organise for an NGO called “Human Rights Network” in Seoul. Before I decided to stop paying attention, the speaker was saying something like “Human rights is human rights. There is no point in questioning what it is, or what it means. It is what it is.” The speaker, Mr.Oh, is a well-known activist - also my dad’s good friend - but a huge misogynist as far as I’m concerned. I have never liked him. The lecture was the first one of a series of lectures organized for university students in Korea who are interested in “human rights.” It was being held at the seventh floor of a neat gray brick building next to a subway station. The building is now a police station that also hosts a human rights education center. The building has a longer history though, as Mr. Oh is about to demonstrate. “Follow me, I will show you the real side of the building.” He takes us outside into the rain. He takes us in through the side entrance of the building. “The rain is nothing compared to the tears and sweat of the students who fought for democracy in Korea,” he declares. Water is the life, sowing and giving life, generously, graciously, to all. Rain, tears, sweat, water. The building was a torture chamber for political dissidents during the military dictatorship in South Korea, that lasted until 1987. Numerous political activists who demanded democracy, “freedom”, and open elections, were brought here for interrogation and torture. Many of them were college students. They were accused of being communists, of working for the North Korean government. If you are against the U.S. backed South Korean government, you must be a communist.
doesn’t matter if the government is a dictatorship as long as it is capitalist, the U.S will support it. Funny how little changes over time. According to testimonies from survivors, they were snatched off the streets by security agents, driven in a van, blindfolded and taken through this side entrance which leads to a narrow, winding staircase with no sunlight. It was purposefully designed as a winding staircase so that you can’t really tell how far you’ve gone up. Up and up, you are told to keep on stepping, until you are led through a lead door which clanks with a thunder behind you. You are in the torture hall. Trapped, you are trapped, and the only light in sight is the air you are allowed to breathe. You aren’t allowed to breathe if you don’t give names. Names of your comrades, colleagues, friends. Accomplices. They will hold your breath hostage underwater if you don’t tell them. Waterboarding. Names. Admit that you are a communist. The only light in sight is the fluorescent of the desk lamp that clunks each time the guard slams on the table for names. Just a clunk because it’s nailed to the desk. The desk is nailed to the floor, along with the chairs: security measures to prevent the prisoner from harming him/ herself. You can scream, but no one will hear you - not even your friends next door. You see, the room is soundproof. Look, the building was designed by a genius architect Kim Soo Geun, celebrated as the father of modern Korean architecture. It is 1987. Park Jong Chul is a third year student in linguistics at Seoul National Universtity. He is snatched off the streets around midnight by national security officers. Blindfolded, he is taken through the stairs into the narrow halls of the fifth floor and into one of the soundproofed chambers. The security
guards want to know the whereabouts of his friend on their wanted list. Name, or waterboarding. Park Jong Chul refuses to give names, and after a few hours at this gray of a building, he is no longer of the earth. He is back in the water, swimming, back. In the moment of death is the moment of birth in all its celebrations and beauty in its meaningfulness. If only it were so. If only life wasn’t also full of meaningless violence, pain and tears. The security officers initially claim that they just slammed their fist on the table, nothing else, and that Park Jong Chul dropped dead. To conceal the torture, they order the corpse to be burnt. A prosecutor intervenes, and fortunately, his body is subjected to investigation. Investigations reveal that he was a victim of not only waterboarding but also electric torture. Infuriated people from all over Korea rise up against the regime in protests, eventually leading to democratic elections and “democratization.”
was like he was being a dictator too.” Thanks for that, I want to say, but I keep quiet. “People would have complained about this so much if he talked that way in the States. It’s so dumb to say that we shouldn’t think more about how human rights is constituted. He can only say that because he’s a man.” And then my friend goes on to complain about all of us collectively having come to the Korean fast food restaurant, instead of individually having gone to find different restaurants. “Are things really that different in the States?” Someone asks me. River flows in Seoul, river flows in New York. River flows in us, all of us. We are a river and rivers us. That summer, the rain flooded Gangnam.
We are let out of the building for a lunch break and it is still raining. The brief tour of the building had taken quite a toll on many of us. Many of us are upset and indignant at learning of the “dark” history of the building. In the swift whim and confusion of the collective decision making process characteristic of the Korean people, we end up at the Korean fast food restaurant across the street. Ramen and don-katsu and dumplings. The summer rain of Seoul can be quite draining. The rain tirelessly drums on the streets, cars, buildings, peoples. Rain falls to clear out the damp, the humidity of the middle season, and to make way for autumn.
Gangnam literally means south of the river. Through Seoul flows the Han River, the river of the Han people, the Korean people, the river of sorrow and lament. In elementary school, you learn that sorrow and lament, or Han, is the defining characteristic of the Korean people and Korean history. We were perpetually attacked by outsiders, we are taught. The Chinese empires treated us as a tributary state, the Japanese imperialists colonized us, and then the American capitalists and the Russian communists divided us in half. Lament and sorrow. Gangnam is now the center of shopping, capitalism, materialism, beauty stores, private education, English tutoring, plastic surgery, and home. Through Gangnam flows the river of amnesia, of forgetfulness, of money. Money flows. Through Gangnam also flow many tributaries of the Han River and beautiful walking trails around them.
I want to complain about Mr. Oh’s tour of the building. It was overly dramatic: he didn’t really have to slam that lead door shut to make a point about the violence of the dictatorship. Instead, I keep quiet, slurping in the ramen noodles, when my friend from high school, who studies literature at an American college, starts complaining about the tour and the talk. “He was overdoing it, and I didn’t like how he made every one of us go through the staircase in the dark without asking if that would be okay first. It
Red for the bikes, green for the pedestrians. Some of them are even cushioned. The district government is perpetually fixing up the always already walkable paths because they need to spend up their yearly budget, or they will get less allocation next year. Why they can’t spend it on public education or welfare is a perpetual mystery. My friend Eunhee and I, like many residents of Gangnam, would take advantage of those walking trails and go for a walk every night. Sometimes I would bring my family dog Camus along. He
is a black poodle. Camus sounds like the word “black” in Korean. Camus, the existentialist dog. We play songs from our phones as we walk, changing the songs depending on our mood or the speed we want to walk in. We play songs like Gangnam style when we want to speed walk, and Korean indie bands (oh they are slow) when we want to stroll and chat. We sing along, we hum along. Eunhee gets embarrassed when I start dancing rambunctiously to the songs, screaming at the top of my lungs. My dance is not quite so gracious. I jump up and down, twist to the sides; in the dark of the night (except not at all because there are still many lights and cars and people), I am invisible, invincible. Camus dances to my dance, his eyes intently gazing at me and his furry little body copying my every move, his tongue happily sticking out. Eunhee is the only skeptic here. The night breeze brings new light and air to Gangnam. Drunken businessmen walk down the streets with arms around each others’ shoulders, singing folk songs from the 80s. School kids off from endless tutoring and homework play basketball on the side, and people gather around street vendors for a drink. After all, Gangnam is the south of the river, home to the Han people. We sing, we cry, we lament, we laugh, and we karaoke and dance, even on the streets, always already. Traffic lights, located within a symbolic order and policed by an invisible cop, may be forced to signify and regiment obedience during the day, but in the middle of the night and in the heart of darkness, when the traffic cops are all asleep, they become again ghostly apparitions. They mean nothing. Visions, being invisible, have an inroad to the hidden reservoir of signs, where they secretly but publicly signate beyond any significant control. Eunhee studies economics and psychology at Yeonsei University. She is taking an introduction to international relations class for her summer session. As we stroll the green pedestrian street with lulling soft Korean indie band music, she asks me about constructivism in international relations. “Maybe you can help me, you are a politics major.” Help. Major. Politics, political science, political scenes,
political signs. All the theories about the world and their (non)intersections with life, with the night lights of Gangnam. How do I theorize the lack, the interstices, the fullness, the meaninglessness, of life, of meaning that we construct and deconstruct, that we know and don’t know, that we love and hate. Sorry, I can’t help you with constructivism. From what I learned in political signs, constructivism starts with the assumption that reality is socially constituted. Not to take things as they are given. To question and interrogate the context, to be intently curious, to be vulnerable, always to be ready to be baffled, to revel in the bafflement. Always to make room for something else, to make room for the possibility of interpretative change. But by explaining it as such, it is constructed as such. So I can’t say more than that constructivism is a constructivism is a constructivism. Explanations, our languages always fall short of the world, and yet they are what construct the world. I don’t want to construct constructivism right now, I want to dance, dance with my Camus, dance with your non-dance, Eunhee. My dog is a dog is a dog. My dance is a dance is a dance. Signs, restored to their originary power, signate. They do not signify. They mean nothing. They are made (as in forced) to mean, in some formal symbolic order, against their defiant will. That will is inherently anarchic, subversive, and anxiety-provoking. The counter-will to make signs signify is a repressive measure to incarcerate their defiant energy.1 Dance it out, the glaring city. Dance out the blurry lights and the blaring headlights. Exorcise the stifling expectations and the vain desires. They will only coil you up in the cold casket of the ever-consumptive self. Let the night breeze take you elsewhere, let your dance sway the night breeze. Our predecessors fought for the homeland, for democracy, for rights, for what they thought was the right thing to do. For the right to lament and sorrow, many laid down their lives. I lay down all fight, all anger, all pretenses, with my dance. My dance is for the people and animals who taught me to allow love, to heal and to grow in 1. Hamid Dabashi, “On Signs and Signation,” The World is My Home, p.239.
love, to give forgiveness a chance. For that joy in giving and letting, for Eunhee, for the drunken men on the streets, for the school kids who pass the basketball on to us as we walk past them, for the fried squid and soju from the street vendors. May I dance on and on, to meet the streets that come, inside out, always with the anxious chaotic and anarchic energy that helps me breathe, helps me be. May I dance with the cathartic release I find in chaos. May the streets let my dance be. May I be more generous in letting others be, may I be more gracious in letting be their (non) dance. May my dance flow into the Han River, the river of sorrow, and out and out to meet the ocean.
KAN POU TROUV LALIMIER? A POEM BY GITAN DJELI
Kan pou trouv lalimier? When is enlightenment? Now. Here. The whole world is asleep. Now is the moment. It is never when .. is ..? It is always in the present. With oneself. Within a body. beyond constructed normativities. The classified body does not receive light in the age of enlightenment. The gendered body is incapable of seeing with senses all blocked. The racialised body battles the darkness enlightenment With sporadic flickers of light.
Why enlightenment in maturity? in academic progress? in professional development? in inherited colonial wisdom? in pharmaceutically engineered health? in the religion of my ancestors? in a justified atheism? in an enlightened despot? We forget the enlightened despot Came from a radical cunt. Who bled on the square Displayed her pain Publicised her labour Opened her vagina To legitimate its burden To be heard.4 of
The one who finds Confusion a rationality Doubt a response to arrogance3 Liberation (not freedom) a philosophy Non-linearity sacred narrative Self-reflection a daily practice re-invents itself in questioning oneself in nurturing probabilities in in in in
hesitating the excitement of trepidation the reality of humanhood the ontology of oneself.
But then Realities are erased. Burnt like witches Pathologised as hysterical Confused Mental Mad. For having a body made of flesh made of desire Able to create Support Allow life. So sweetly discarded. Silenced. 4. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter: on discussing the appellation mother-tongue - ‘muttermund meaning in German both the literal mouth of the mother as well as the opening of the uterus
1. When will we see the light? translated literally from Mauritian Kreol. Sedley for double
5 From an exquisite present, the little red book The moon and menstruation (Thx Oana): Amongst
checking the orthography according to Grafi-larmoni 2004
both ancient Greek and some surviving Native American nation cultures, it is believed that insects
2. Mijke The Necessity of Nonnormativity: the Dynamics of Trans Bodies as well as precious
and worms were killed by menstruating women walking in the fields; menstrual blood as talisman which
conversations and meticulous editing December 2015
Ainu men rub on their chest, amongst the Warundi the menstruating girl touches and blesses, the
3. Oana Why is self-doubt so threatening to job interviewers? Endless overlapping discussions
Déné fasten the unwell child’s neck with cloth covered by menstrual blood, however, menstruation
Marquis of Granby to midnight chats December 2015
has more often been a primitive taboo exploited by both historical and contemporary
History beautifies the effrontery. Painted all saintly in painless sanitised depiction. This body disappears. Wiped out nicely for those to play the yoyo between â€˜enlightened governanceâ€™ and freedom for all. To secure patronage to ideas ideas of accountability ideas about how to think how to contemplate freedom where freedom is for some only. Who speculates about freedom In chains? Those who enslave? Or the souls who are enslaved. Those who vote for bombing others? Or the lives who are bombed. Those who rape? Or the bodies exploited by the system who created rape. Despots are always enlightened. Chosen by a democracy the fickle crowd applauds. And knowledge from that centre is not allowed to be questioned. The visceral body Confused to have produced such monsters. Who leave the womb to rule and colonise. But the womb on the square is still on the square. You bleed every four weeks with rituals performed across times and communities5 To be able to swell in roundness.
Vagina exploding Left beautifully deformed. Numbed of pain Carrying all the pain. You expel dead bodies which patriarchy and capital Send to war from birth. Patriarchy needs capital which exploits these corpses as free labour. Capital needs reproductive and domestic labour6 to raise labouring bodies for free. Neoliberalism needs the labour of strong bodies To clean the shit as free as possible. So the throne sparkles with Sweat and Blood. Sweat and Blood Produced by the radical cunt! Everything else is expendable Minerals Material memories Souls living with a land that was violently stolen from them. Everything that does not conform. Different bodies made homeless on their own planet For the inability to speak. For refusing to speak the language of the oppressor. Patriarchy Empire Neocolonialism Ki to ete twa? Bizin ferfout ar twa Kan kann-la pike Kan kann-la koupe Disik la amer dan dite Bizin vir tas anbalao7
6 Revolution at Point Zero
Scarred permanently With silver lines.
7 What are you? We need to get rid of you. When the sugar cane pricks, cuts and, sugar tastes bitter in tea, we need to topple the cup over.
MAPPING PARADIGM SHIFT A PERFORMANCE BY DIMPLE B SHAH Performance at Le Stendhal, 5 Rue Erard, Paris This performance mapped the oscillating experiences of the mind through processes that are in flux, and the dichotomous roles of the bodies and minds of women. There is a boundary line drawn for women in every society and this performance highlights the cultural variations of this boundary. Mapping Paradigm Shift dealt with the oscillation between purity and impurity, mind and body, spiritual and material, right and wrong. The performance relied on audience participation and intervention. I asked my audience to share their ideas of what is pure and what is impure. This opened up a whole new world to me since many things that are uncommon in my city or culture came to my notice. Queer and feminist ideas, thoughts and theories prevailing in Europe came to my attention; matters that are not often discussed in India. After our conversation, I asked my viewers to shower me with turmeric powder which is a natural herb that heals wounds and cuts and metaphorically symbolizes purity. They subsequently poured soapy water on me, over the turmeric. The turmeric dust reacted with the soap and turned red, symbolizing blood and menstruation. This addressed again the question of purity â€“ what is pure for some will become impure for others. During the performance, I physically rolled myself between two spaces that I created with transparent cloth walls. During the final moments of the piece, I drank a bowl of milk, yet again symbolizing purity. I also distributed small cotton bags washed in turmeric water with two words pure/impure for audience members to take as a token. Mapping Paradigm Shift was a significant and transformative event for me - it not only placed me in front of a Western audience but it also exposed me to Western ideas of feminism. In many ways, there are no parameters with which to compare Indian Feminism with Western Feminism. It begs the question: what is Indian Feminism? Some women have inherited great liberty and some have inherited less; their roles are always defined within a specified cultural framework. There is a constant debate on where to draw the line of control. What do women deserve? What can they do? Each country has its own set of rules that implicitly dictate the position and behaviour of women in that society, yet those rules also remain in constant flux. The experience of the performance placed me in a state of confusion. I questioned whether I am a feminist or not, since the definitions of feminism differ so greatly. I found it difficult to find synergy between Western and Indian ideas of feminism. The societal and cultural roles of women differ greatly between India and Europe. In India, the feminist movement deals with the practical and basic needs of women in towns and villages. This stands in contrast to the Western conversations in feminism that are dealing with much different issues. When we study Indian feminism we need to look at it from where it started and what is at its roots. We need to look at its core issues â€“ diversity, secularism, religious caste and poverty. In nearly two decades of art history you donâ€™t see these issues highlighted in Western feminist work. An inescapable and problematic question of culture arises - cultural identity, cultural difference, and cultural diversity. As a result, contrast, tension and conflict of various kinds have been characteristic of the relationship between the political, the social, and the cultural.
During my research I came across the following quote that perfectly embodies my observations. “Even if we teach Western feminist theory, we still use examples from our own milieu.” – Malabika Karlekar “The Indian women[s] movement has a history of its own,” asserts Urvashi Butalia of the Kali for Women publishing house. “No doubt some urban activists may have been educated in the West, but our agenda comes from a reality rooted here.” While the West may have fallen prey to “introversion” and “de-politicization,” Indian feminism is in the summertime of its campaign years. While the rather narrow sphere of sexual politics may occupy trans-Atlantic thought, it is here in India that the nuts and bolts of the female predicament are central. We are asking how to secure one’s livelihood, how to stop men from consuming too much alcohol, how to ensure that women receive quality post-natal care and how to guarantee literacy for children. In the turmoil of modernizing India, campaigners must be made of sterner stuff than theories. Of course, doubts could well be raised. Why should the West be brought in to discuss complex Indian issues such as personal law, religion, communalism, secularism, diversity, classism - problems that are so identifiably ‘ours’? Should the West not rather be ideologically and strategically excluded, left to focus its power on issues of liberalization, globalization, and new imperialism in the Global North? My answer, quite simply, is that the West is an intrinsic part of our current entanglements. This is what needs to be explored. Feminism is and has always been complex, nuanced and diverse in Indian contexts. It needs to be seen and understood in multiple perspectives.
Fail ÂŠ Rakel Stammer http://hejmoar.blogspot.co.uk
CROW A POEM BY JESSICA ANDREWS
It is almost winter and we are not wearing enough clothes.
A crow drips across the night and I think that she is like both of us.
Soggy in wet wool our coffee’s cold and full on the table.
Experts say that most crows are adaptable but often shy when persecuted.
The café is carpeted in fake grass and I hate it. The bad things that happened to you last night cling to the window like condensation. We walk across the common as it gets dark. There is orange fur over the city. I can’t tell the difference between sunsets and street lights. We pass a dark body of water. I can’t tell the difference between puddles and paddling pools. We decide that vaginas smell like soil and roots and dirty, earthy things and that cycling in the dark makes us feel clever and brave and alive. I want to wrap you in brown paper and carry you, your head a heavy hydrangea in the crook of my elbow.
I keep on pressing my fingers into my hip bones and pulling the sleeves of my jumper over my hands.
ART IS LIFE & CREATIVITY HEALS A POETIC ESSAY BY LOUISA YAA Louisa Yaa Aisin aka Yaa Lioness operates in the intersection of performance art, music, poetry, sound installation and film/video-art. She seeks to performatively unfold parts of our being and being together relating to existential taboos, here within spiritual existence. In a society where apathy and over-indulgence are standard, Yaa Lioness facilitates spaces where the themes: stagnation, separation, sexuality, savage, civic, androgyny, feeling and primordial vitality are explored and examined. With futuristic ideas, Yaa Lioness works on communicating intimate rituals of nemesis and catharsis by bringing ancient knowledge to life through modern interpretations. For 11 years Yaa Lioness has been active in the performance art scene. Now turning 30, and with a diploma as a body therapist, she wishes to manifest her inherent potential of bringing hope and healing through performance art, body language and poetry. Speaking my truth also means defying silence. I find comfort and discomfort in silence. When I first found silence, it was because I was overwhelmed by the violence words and intonation could have in regular conversations. Silence was an act of rebellion. Silence helps me focus my forces – sensing psyche, feeling heart, centering mind, knowing spirit. Recognizing and attaining patience in my endeavor toward union. Later, I found that I had difficulties breaking out of the silence – was I being silenced? Why was I being silenced? Ever since childhood I have been subject to neglect. It’s been an overwhelming Olympic [exercise:] trusting my reflection and falling in love. My story is one of discrimination and survival. It has been a struggle accepting the neglect from my family and friends - I have felt luminous. It has been a struggle to accept anger – I have felt crazy – for a long time what stirred inside of me was undefinable. Through a lot of faith and perseverance, I slowly but steadily found places and environments I could trust. I discovered I also had a talent for sensing anguish, frustration, beauty and potential in and on other people. I had a strong desire to move people into their temples. So I found the handcraft needed to heal. While studying the techniques of massage I went through a very big transformation. I understood that for a long time I had put myself aside – I had not really cared for myself – I had taken the role of being inferior so that others could feel superior – I had thought I did this out of love. But it is the wrong course – it is not my nature. Inside I would feel that I was the cause of misery, a black hole. Guilt was standard where I grew up - so I felt obliged to sacrifice my wellbeing for the sake of others. This was a very complex Christ mentality. I had compassion for others – but not myself. During this education I learned about my limitations - how I can be stubborn, fanatic, too impulsive overtly angry and fearful of neglect. By recognising this – a lot of my qualities and divinities would begin to reveal themselves so that I could begin to feel the sweetness that I was/am sharing. As a mother it has been important to realise what I give! Chanting/singing self-realization is a big tool which helps me achieve this centering in heart. In the first years of being a mother, I felt everything inside of me had become undefinable havoc – by chanting and singing I accepted and felt my anger –anger coming from being silenced and involving myself with partners oppressing my intellect and making me doubt my motivations. Now all of this - endurance, challenges, heartache - is something I can witness. The vibrations that my voice
resonates throughout my body connect to the areas of hurt. By being persistent and contacting the reservoir of compassion I own I open my heart to receive healing. Our voices are a powerful channel. Letting my voice soar helps me surrender to the sweetness of our cosmos. Pain transforms itself into a sensation like a hurricane – a sensation resembling the independence super novas spark from. A force of nature is inside of me roaring and when I understand and integrate this fully – I can achieve the transformation – the mission of turning grief into grace. A metamorphosis of our globes condition so I remove myself from projections and feelings of victimisation - realising that my human revolution is to build the Bridgetown of Hope. I feel it is a grounding experience excelling and excessing through art. In this field I feel I can vent and transform the misery I have felt. So through performing arts I manifest sanctuaries and will continue to do so. I see poetry and art is life. My mission is feeling completely belonging to earth everywhere I go – by growing my roots and to keep opening up to receiving. Stepping into the realm of receiving – where I cannot even count my blessings – trusting that karma shall favour the people that bleed, meaning that we who are courageous enough to be open and sensitive to our atmosphere also will face obstacles but when we pass through the needle eye – we get closer to equilibrium. My mission is to manifest and unfold the magnitude of our promised present – the present promise. And this I can only achieve by owning compassion for my core. I want to do this with humbleness and confidence to expose unhealthy pride and prejudice. To bring justification to my soul – your soul – the soul governing the whole. I gain confidence in this wisdom by singing a universe
ORACLE AN INCLUSIVE FEMINIST AFRICAN FUTURE BY THE NEST COLLECTIVE
- African Women in Africa
Social mobility for African women has been traditionally achieved through heterosexual marriage or partnership – which, of course, was only tentatively secured by continued patrilineal allegiance, and not individually owned or guaranteed. More recently, social mobility has come via education at varying levels where the demand for skills acquired leads to employment or entrepreneurship. Opportunities available for working-class women in the 55 African states vary widely, but entry-level jobs are generally skewed towards smaller scale business or individual service provision. This might refer to anything from maids to sex workers – jobs which have limited potential for growth and promotion. These aforementioned tend to be in urban scenarios, whereas in more rural areas, women tend to be involved in subsistence or small-scale farming – often coming together as groups for economic empowerment. Many women across the urban-rural spectrum are also housewives, whose most time-consuming work is domestic labour and childcare. Well-documented gaps in infrastructure and social service provision combine to create a perfect storm for economically disadvantaged women – a vicious cycle which many find very difficult to mitigate. Furthermore, a troubling red herring conversation about disadvantages faced by the boy child is starting to brew loudly in the public arena. Patriarchal frames of thought are thus repurposing the idea behind affirmative action with the rising number of girls in schools and increased competition from women in the job market being viewed as a direct threat to men. This is because the number of opportunities for all is not growing concurrently. Advancement for women is being touted as a reason for both the disenfranchisement of men and the re-affirmation of traditional African patriarchal masculinity. In this context, therefore, any feminist agenda
must first value and honour the economic potential women have. It has to begin with the essential decision to value women workers above the disadvantages of hiring someone who might take paid maternity leave and who is often the primary care giver for her children or primary breadwinner for a household. It means that political matters traditionally (and erroneously) referred to as women’s issues, such as the provision of sanitary towels, gender-based violence and children’s rights, need to stop being put in a pink silo for only female parliamentary representatives to deal with, and should be discussed with the same seriousness that is given to internal security and the national budget. While the number of women in politics and professions regarded as ‘skilled labour’ is increasing, their numbers remain alarmingly low in relation to poor and uneducated women. A truly feminist agenda must therefore be honest about the wide socioeconomic class gaps between women in African society and the potential for abuse because of these gaps, as well as do the difficult job of creating room for an honest dialogue across the divide, creating the potential for authentic relational work. Further to this, there are historical divides between countries and regions – old wounds that continue to fester between peoples, and therefore, women, coming from different places: the Africa of the Sahara and the Africa below it, South Africa and “the rest” in Southern Africa, and the frictions among countries that are trying to figure out economic cooperation as though they were equals when in many ways, they are not. All of these issues – the stories of the past, and any visions of what can come next – need to be dealt with in a manner that erases neither the truth nor the possibility of moving past it. There is a not-so-thin line between women’s rights and feminism, one that will need to be discussed and debated, and which is an area that confuses many. It
is perfectly possible to work for a future where “well-behaved” women are well provided for by a benevolent, affluent African government, without actually challenging the patriarchal spirit and forces behind the decisions made by African states and the evolution of modern African societies. This is the glass ceiling that plenty of human rights work is gearing towards and is satisfied by. When, however, “dangerous” sentiments like the woman’s right to her own body and therefore, to autonomous sexual pleasure and reproductive choice, are mentioned, the unchallenged forces of Culture and Religion rise up to decry the Demon of Western Influence – also used as an excuse for practicing homophobia, and its resulting violences and hatred. We need to face the sad reality that the default of Being is ascribed to heterosexual masculinities. Women and queer people spend shocking amounts of time just negotiating their marginalization in hostile environs, and are therefore, functionally denied the opportunity to contribute to building society alongside everyone else. This denial of personhood to some holds the whole continent back in very significant ways. Both women’s rights and feminist movements on the continent have generally disregarded or been patently unwelcoming to the LGBTIQ community, focusing most efforts and dialogue on grassroots movement building to liberate cis-identifying heterosexual women alone. This is particularly grievous as it endorses functional sub-patriarchy by propagating the same inequality on others that they themselves have suffered, ascribing rights only to those who belong to men in societally acceptable ways, and continuing the harmful us/them mentality. II – The Continent And/Versus The Diaspora We’ve reached a place in the exploration and liberation of belonging to ‘the race of black people’ where we must accept that it is bigger than Africa herself, or African origins, and is also bigger than the diaspora. We need to acknowledge the deep divides between us that were originally caused by white supremacy – by the massive trans-Atlantic slave trade, by the colonial project, by apartheid. Just acknowledging them may be a sufficient beginning before even trying to consider or map out any paths to healing.
We need to authentically dive into our complex histories because slavery is indeed a story of irredeemably cruel slave masters and thousands of stolen innocents, as well as a story of many complicit Africans who remained at home thriving while their compatriots were struggling for life and dignity. The occurrence of the Scramble for Africa formalized by the 1884 Berlin Conference, and the subsequent occupation of the Continent put many Africans in terrible positions that were like slavery in some ways, but very distant from it in others. The diverse ways in which different colonial powers occupied different states must here be acknowledged. However, comparing these histories in some kind of Oppression Olympics becomes harmful and is more about erasing some experiences than about listening to and learning about all. We also need to be wary of the ease of attacking low hanging fruit. In our bid to get away from our blood-drenched pasts, those of us with national or individual head-starts can be confused into easily attacking those who have been left behind, in the race to develop and win global parity. The dilemma here becomes – how can we do the slow unlearning of decolonization as individuals, as communities, and as nations, without creating and entrenching new ruling classes who continue in the spirit of what we are trying so hard to leave behind? Diverse blacknesses must be acknowledged and given true room. For instance, the continental and diasporic experiences of racism are not the same. A particularly difficult example is that of the Black Lives Matter movement. A lot of African commentary has been much less about solidarity, support or empathy than it has been about wrongfully advising African/black Americans to embrace respectability politics, saying that if they behaved and dressed “well”, they would not be shot dead by white police officers. It is important to note that continental Africans and people of African origin in the diaspora have engaged in destructive conversations about each other, stereotyping and making assumptions about one another in very negative and destructive ways. Among activists and in movements that affirm black power, ownership and consciousness, the desire for numbers and for the acceptance of the mainstream can confuse and distract us into diluting
the message that true change must be radical and revolutionary. It will be like nothing we have ever seen before since the forces controlling our histories have worked so hard to keep us disempowered. We easily forget how “critical mass” must remain critical to be effective. Diasporic representations of continental Africa are often fraught with offensively unthinking and unrepentant errors even when facts are easily available with surface research. “Coming to America”, for example, or “Being Mary Jane”, which remains careful to negotiate the issues of single, middle-class contemporary African American women with remarkable nuance and delicacy, but repeatedly makes reference to the same one-dimensional Africa represented everywhere else. Words have been exchanged about “cultural appropriation” by the diaspora – of ornaments and tribal artifacts as fashion and nothing else, with little meaningful referral to their origins or identification with their belonging. Continental references are usually through mainstream (predominantly white pop culture lenses where diasporic blacknesses are packaged in stereotypical ways for a certain kind of (often derogatory) entertainment. The controversial use of the word “akata”, meaning a cat that doesn’t live at home, on African/black Americans is a good example. It should also not be assumed that all blacknesses aspire to any kind of future oneness as a combined utopia. Many black people of diverse origins have no desire to explore areas of commonality, or to identify as African, and this request for individuality should be respected. Furthermore, the sheer number of countries, tribes and languages in Africa means that there can never be a universally African experience, just like there is no solitary diasporic one. Aside from this, we need to find trans-racial solidarities in fighting racial inequality. Whilst black/ white tension and violence remain hypervisible, the black experience is not the only experience that is valid in the fight against white supremacy. If the possibility exists that whiteness can take on another face, can see and express itself differently – if indeed there is any potential for different
conversations among races - this possibility is more likely if these solidarities among all the people of colour are woven and tested. The one group that is best equipped to handle this complex intersectionality of experiences and move towards a functional, purposeful dialogue is the feminist movement, with its inherent values of inclusivity, honest acknowledgement of difficulty and pain, as well as commitment to doing the often slow yet always rewarding work of building relationships and aiming for lasting change. Feminists of all shades and genders as well as across all continents can be united by their black origins and piece together their histories, negotiate their present and imagine their futures together. III - African Women as Valid in the Universe African womanhood has had a defined place in universal stories. We have always propped up the existences of others – borne their children, cleaned their houses, tended to their sick, entertained, encouraged and ministered to them. We have enabled them to be and do and hold on to the things that are most important to them. But when stories are told of people who discover things, who make things, who do brave things, who stand up for things, who lead all people into new worlds and new frontiers – the default human remains white and male whilst African female and femme-identifying persons are completely blocked from view. We can watch a thousand movies about one white man conquering the whole of outer space, but any story about blackness doing the same would have to be a fantasy tale, employing magical realism and myriad exoticisms in order to be remotely believable - only to then be ghettoized as Afrofuturistic art. This, of course, is noting that no future from any other region in the world needs a prefix before it - perhaps because the art world remains shocked by the existence of Africans, especially African women, even in imaginary futures. Considering the assortment of oppressions so many people mindlessly ascribe to all African women, it’s a wonder we live even just a few years when everything
is apparently so unrelentingly dark and hopeless, in this place where ‘progress’ is viewed as a myth. Perhaps the rest of the world desperately needs to hold on to the idea of Africa as a jungle to feed their fantasies about new worlds still waiting to be discovered (because, as we know, things only truly exist when they are acknowledged by whiteness, even if they have been around for centuries). The world has clearly shown its dependence upon the fertile ground of endless African need in which to sow the largesse of charity. From this, we reap the White/ Western Savior Industrial Complex and a veritable league of extraordinary (sic) aid workers of all races, even black ones. These people easily find upward socioeconomic and career mobility in becoming Africa experts in a number of weeks because they deigned to live among “real Africans” in the “real Africa”. Maybe we, as African women and femme-identifying people, need to stop being shocked by the idea of us boldly occupying an uncharted, infinite future. We need to stop believing the lie that our glass ceiling is achieving sustainable development goals like secondary education and freedom from infectious disease, while other nations figure out ways to access extraterrestrial minerals as they simultaneously bleed African mines dry. We need to continue fighting for our rights to travel and work wherever we choose without being called immigrants, without being oppressed in foreign lands, and without living in the constant fear that our visa or residential status can be reversed at any moment. We are forced to watch while white and more privileged people have the right to adventure thrust upon them, together with an existence as carefree expatriates. Maybe African female religious experiences and leadership will feed into global understandings of spirituality instead of being labeled as inherently evil. Maybe we will be more free thinking, re-evaluating how to own religious experiences that were foisted upon our ancestors in irredeemably violent ways in a manner that accords us dignity and wholeness – if we choose to ascribe importance to religion at all. Maybe African-ness will stop being directly conflated with primitivity or lack of culture and refinement, as per globally accepted, racist Hegelian
philosophies. Maybe African stories will be seen as human stories and will stop having to - or being forced to - carry the weight of protest and bloodshed and injustice. There is an infinity that has been taken from Africa. It is no wonder the word “reparations” makes so many world governments shake. There are also infinities that Africa has already given the world. Africans - including women and femme-identifying people - have done and continue to do groundbreaking research and discoveries, make stunning art and build immortal legacies. As the world sees less and less value in human rights-based conversations, we as African women and femme-identifying people will have to continue to claim the space to exist and thrive on the continent in the diaspora and in the world, and reach into futures that we ourselves have designed – because we want them, because we need them, and because we can.
Zeynep Dagli ‘untitled’, collage © Zeynep Dagli
“You’ll probably be remembered for three things: The day you’re born The day you start a revolution And the day you die.”
- Kudzanai Chiruai, Black President (2015)
THE HYSTERIA COLLECTIVE AGATA CARDOSO ALEX ALVINA CHAMBERLAND AMA JOSEPHINE BUDGE ANNE MARI BORCHERT ANIA CATHERINE ASHLEY BOHRER BANA SAKER BIANCA SEMBRANO BJØRK GRUE LIDIN BRINDA GANGOPADHYA LUNDMARK CARINE SCHERTZER CARMEN DE BAETS CARMINA RAVENERA CAROLINA CANCANILLA CHARLOTTE CHARLOTTE DEA BUSK LARSEN DEBORAH HODGE EMMA SAPERSTEIN ELLA FROST GUSTAV J. HODER JACK RICE JAGO RACKHAM JULIE CECILE ERIKSEN KAMELYA OMAYMA YOUSEF KATIE O’REILLY-BOYLES KATRYA BOLGER LYNX SAINT-MARIE LÆRKE CECILIE ANBERT LULU-OKR MARIO LA ROSARIO MADELEINE STACK MAËLLE GROSS MAI CARINSDOTTER
MALISE ROSBECH MARTINE SEEDORFF MARYAM ALA AMJADI MATHIAS KLITGÅRD SØRENSEN KOTRAVAI NYASHA MANGERA-LAKEW PATRICIA PRIETO BLANCO PRUDENCE CHAMBERLAIN RACHELE MEGNA RAE LANDAHL LLORIN RAISA LYRA RASMUS JOHAN NIELSEN RIDHI MALIK ROSANNA MCNAMARA SABAH CHOUDREY SALOME KOKOLADZE SARA BADAWI SOHINI CHATTERJEE STEEN LINDHARDT TAMMY LAKKIS TANYA ANDRUSIECZKO TOVE LYSSARIDES WANDA VRASTI YASMINE AKIM ZARA SHAKIRA ZEYNEP DAGLI ZSOFIA GODE
with guest hysterics BRETT BISHOP PENNIE KOLIOUPOLOU
HYSTERIA PRESS www.hystericalfeminisms.com firstname.lastname@example.org