THE COURTAULDIAN ISSUE 21
But Where Are You From From? p.16
Cosmopolitanism and Galleries p. 30
What The Universe Has Taught Me p. 53
Cover by the ÄąllustratÄąon team
Table of contents
East and West, Orient and Occident Aniela Rybak
The Alternate Universe of Guo Pei Philippa Thomas
Old Girls’ Club Thea Voyles
But Where Are You From From? Kira GurmaillKaufmann
讓我們面向黑夜 (Let Us Face The Night) Daphne Yeh
Who Gets to Define Eastern European Art? Libby Langsner
28 30 34
One Line Reviews: Fons Americanus (2019), Kara Walker
Cosmopolitanism and Galleries Archie Manister-O’Neill
36 40 42
‘If You Don’t Drink Champagne, Go Away!’ Isabella Wilkinson
(Pitchfork) Remembers Me Now Saga Sjöberg
45 49 53
Extinction Rebellion Cas Bradbeer
Dalston, Mon Amour Lewis Duncan
What The Universe Has Taught Me Lissie Mackintosh
L e t t e r f r o m t h e e d i t o r
We live in an era where the whole world can be accessed in a blink of an eye. More than ever, every single one of us can be connected to each other one way or another. Regardless of this, we live in a time where borders are closing, and nationalistic sentiment is rising. With the plethora of issues currently taking place all over the world, it is especially necessary for us to reflect on the things that make each of us unique, be it culturally or socially, and the features that make us all cosmopolites. Therefore, the theme of The Courtauldian’s 21st publication is Cosmo. As the term is quite general, it also poses questions and problems. At the Courtauld, we continuously deal with the problems that arise from studying a discipline that has been mainly established by Western discourse up until recent history. Through Cosmo, we want to straw away from these Western notions and delve deep into the questions of today’s society through a more global perspective. Even with this intention in mind, it has still been difficult to stray away from these preconceived notions, which is why many of our articles in Cosmo do remain Western focused. The broadness of this theme has allowed our writers and artists to approach it in a range of ways, specifically regarding locality. Lissie Mackintosh explores her own personal development as a cosmopolite individual in ‘What the Universe has Taught Me’. Others have focused on London as a cosmopolitan hub such as Aniela Rybak in ‘East and West, Orient and Occident’. Lastly, the theme has been explored in terms of the universe and the cosmos, such as in Daphne Yeh’s ‘Let us Face the Night’. Before you start reading through the pages of this edition of The Courtauldian, take five seconds to remove all your preconceived notions so that you can experience articles, poems, and art, through cosmopolitan eyes. Sara Quattrocchi Febles
Editor - Sara Quattrocchi Febles Deputy Editor - Isobelle White Literary Editor - Ellie Perry Reviews Editor - Saga Sjöberg Events Editors - Naomi Jennings-O’Toole, Lissie Mackintosh Copy Editors - Bea Fomin, Taija Hurri, Sarah Chang, Afrah Allsopp Head of Graphics - Zeynep Koksal Graphic Designers - Audrey Warne, Bronwen Bernstein, Elliot Keim, Yifan Wang Head of Art & Illustration - Grace Han Illustration Team - Rebecca Marks, Himarni Brown, Vitoria Mendes, Katya Timofeeva Staff Writers - Zoe Manset, Thea Voyles, Philippa Thomas, Rada Popova, Sophia Boosalis, Ellen Wang, Lewis Duncan, Margarita FA Chiclana, Aniela Rybak Cosmo was produced by undergraduate and postgraduate students at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. If you are interested in supporting future issues or would like more information about the publication, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Courtauldian is the editorially independent student publication of The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the individual authors to whom they are attributed and do not necessarily reflect those of The Courtauldian, The Courtauld Institute of Art’s Students’ Union, or any of their staff or representatives. Every effort has been made to avoid inaccuracies, to reproduce content only as permitted by copyright law, and to appropriately and fully credit the copyright holder(s) of any content reproduced. 3
East and West, Orient and Occident How the Art of One Inspired the Other Aniela Rybak
Islamic art and culture have been introduced in Western society along with the arrival of the very first Arabs coming to settle down in Europe. Even though Muslims and Christians have been living in the same space for hundreds of years, as art historians, we tend to emphasize the aspects that make us different from one another, not similar. This long history of coexistence was rejected for many years but has recently started to be approached and rediscovered. Contact Zones? Art, Exchange, and Identity in Medieval Spain is one of the undergraduate modules offered at the Courtauld this year. This course offers an insight into Spain’s history during the Middle Ages, emphasizing the relationship between Christians and Muslims that was particularly evident in Toledo. Because of its eventful history, the city was home to representatives of various faiths, which is especially visible in its architecture. Toledo was under the Umayyad’s rule for many years, so when the change in its political regime took place in 1085, there was a strong will to make adjustments in the architectural structures of the city. In fact, Christian rulers were faced with a dilemma: how to approach the many mosques scattered around the city.
Instead of rebuilding numerous sites, they decided to appropriate the Islamic places of worship and turn them into churches, preserving continuity in style.
Toledo is just one of the many examples of cities around Europe that were (some of them still are) the homes of individuals coming from various religious backgrounds. The interest in emphasizing this diversity and showing that Western and Eastern cultures have actually been inspiring one another is growing. As Courtauld professor Dr Tom Nickson explained in one of his lectures, this interest might have been influenced by two events. The first event he highlights is the 1992 commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the fall of Granada, which happened to take place in 1492, the same year as the ‘discovery’ of America by Columbus. These two events, which were key in legitimizing Europe’s power and political domination at the time, turned the interest of many scholars towards the Iberian Peninsula. The other key events that Nickson points out are the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which forced a lot of people to structure opinions in discussing all kinds of relationships between the East and the West.
Illustration by Tessa Carr
Today, many years after the aforementioned events, the British Museum is hosting an exhibition titled Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art (10 October 2019 - 26 January 2020). The exhibition is focused on the mutual influence between the two cultures. Interestingly, the title emphasizes how the ‘world’ of Islam influenced the ‘art’ of the West.
“Does this still underline the differences between the two cultural centres and is it the British Museum’s way of establishing European superiority?”
The exhibition revolves around the subject of ‘Orientalism’, a term thoroughly examined by Edward Said, an important figure who established postcolonial studies as an academic field. The exhibition guides the visitor through rooms filled with European artworks inspired by the Middle East and vice versa. The exhibition finishes with four contemporary female artists, whose works comment on the phenomenon of ‘Orientalism’.
Or is it actually indicating how the Middle East is so incredibly inspiring in every aspect of life --art, religion, food, among others-- that it would be impossible to narrow down its influence to only one category?
“Is this why the general term ‘world’ had to be used in the title?”
The first thing I noticed when entering the exhibition’s space was the darkness of the rooms. It immediately made me think of the stereotypical mysterious oriental nooks, depicted in popular culture. Is it a good idea to borrow such a cliché in an exhibition, whose main point seems to be about forcing us outside of our comfort zone and changing our preconceived Western notions of the Middle East? 6
Unfortunately, the narrative of the exhibition begins with the Ottoman and Safavid empires, so the time frame does not align with the Courtauld course mentioned above. The reasoning behind this narrative might be due to the British Museum not owning a lot of objects from earlier periods (unlike the V&A) and the exhibition focusing on artworks found in the museum’s own collection. Additionally, as one of the aims is to change our ingrained stereotypes, it is natural to start with the period when the phenomenon of ‘Orientalism’ first evolved. Nevertheless, the number of objects presented definitely supports how Islamic culture has been extremely influential on many European artists.
Seeing Raeda Saadeh’s photograph Who will make me real? (2003), a clear criticism of the loved subject matter of the classical nude female portraits, in one of the most visited museums in Britain, says a lot about the current approach towards art history and the term ‘Orientalism’. Even though after leaving this thought-provoking exhibition one is invited to go home with an Oriental souvenir from the gift shop, the change in the Western approach towards the Middle East and the drive to decentralise our discipline is becoming more and more visible. Hopefully, the course at the Courtauld and the British Museum’s exhibition are only the start of the necessary and fascinating turning point that we will all soon be able to experience and witness.
Sadly, there are almost no artworks of Eastern origin in the first section of the exhibition, so we are deprived of an excellent opportunity to compare the native and foreign ways of looking at the Middle Eastern world. However, the strongest and, in a way, the most surprising point of the display is the last room. It shows four artworks by contemporary artists from Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and Palestine. All of them respond to the way women and the harem were portrayed by Oriental artists in the past.
Old Girls’ Clubs
What’s So New About Them
become more confident and to grow their businesses has also led to the success of The Wing and The AllBright. But the price of female empowerment is over £1000 a year. Like the old boys’ clubs they intend to compete with, their membership is restricted to those with the financial means to join. Many of the most important opportunities that they offer are directed towards early career professionals and, despite the discounted rates they offer to under-30s, it remains difficult for many to afford the membership fee.
The Wing and The AllBright are only two of the many different women’s clubs that aim to promote women’s advancement and feminist businesses. Both co-working spaces offer bright mid-century modern office and lounge areas as well as private blow dry bars and elegant dining areas. At The Wing, members also have access to a range of perks such as gyms, childcare spaces, and oil paintings of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In their mission statements, both The Wing and The AllBright mention creating spaces for women and their businesses and offer opportunities for women in different industries to gain skills and network.
Although both clubs use the same girl power lexicon, they are distinctly different and offer different approaches. The Wing, for example, has strong ties to community groups and offers scholarships for women in non-profit work who can’t afford their membership fee. However, applying for membership also requires submitting your social media profile. Their success is rooted in their image as the ultimate Instagram coven—their founder Audrey Gelman even has a Girls character based on her.
One of the most important opportunities these organisations offer is the chance to meet mentors. According to the Washington Post, since the MeToo movement, men have become more wary of spending informal time with junior female employees and less likely to mentor them for fear of being called out for sexual harassment. If men won’t mentor their female colleagues, their opportunities for promotion are radically reduced. Women’s clubs can fill that gap and help new mentorship bonds form. These institutions are also responding to the perennial feminist demand for ‘a room of one’s own.’ The idea that women need spaces free from male energy to
The girl power language being wielded by these corporations is part of a growing trend in the so-called ‘conscious consumption’, which should make us intensely uncomfortable. Reducing women’s lib to millennial pink and
“fork the patriarchy”
Ultimately what The Wing and The AllBright promote, more than female empowerment, is capitalism. They are communities for the #girlboss who hustles well within the system. However, The Wing and The AllBright are a symptom of the problem, not the cause: appropriating social liberation for financial gain is old hat. They aren’t ‘bad’ organisations, they’re just not offering the social revolution they’re selling. Old girls’ clubs are perpetuating the same financial frameworks as the old boys’ clubs that excluded them, they’re just doing it in pink.
grain bowls - even when it’s done with the best intentions - has real consequences. As a political movement, feminism needs to remain radical and not become an (often expensive) aesthetic choice. No matter how much we’d like to, we shouldn’t base the revolution on well-curated Instagram feeds and the financial support of the very corporations that perpetuate exclusionary and exploitative political structures. Cloaking corporate advancement in the language of female empowerment obscures the fact that, like the old boys’ clubs, they offer a narrow vision of success to a highly restricted group of individuals.
Illustration by April Abad
讓我們面向黑夜 (Let Us Face The Night) Daphne Ye Illustration by Sara Quattrocchi Febles
Life is erratic, yet death so absolute The law of all things is irresistible; particles attract without fusion And you and I are but two individuals, lost in the yet to be comprehended darkness
生命飄忽不定 死卻如此絕對 萬物定律無法抵抗 粒子相吸而不融合 而我與你 也不過倆個人 迷失在未曾理解的黑暗裡
Let us face the night Holding your breath at the strike of darkness, the heart beats, vibrating to the star, its after-waves to the sea Flooding into each cold little heart Pushing your body to the point of exhaustion, set yourself in earth, into its deep core and Ignite a world without love
讓我們面向黑夜 在夜中屏息，心跳震盪星空 餘波入海 流入一顆顆冰涼的心 汗流浹背時，軀體鑲入塵土 直至地心 滾燙沒有愛的世界
讓我們面向黑夜 點點星光寂滅，血液沁透暮色 暈染無限 我們回應無垠的召喚
Let us face the night Scattered starlight, blood-permeated-sky, blooming into infinity We respond to the call of nothing
我們擁抱彼此的空虛 在恐懼中無畏，孤寂而有愛 讓所到之處的空虛 填滿一切的存在，然後 重生
We embrace one another’s void Fearless in fear, Love through loneliness Let all reaches of emptiness invade existence of everything, and then reborn
The Alternate Universe of Guo Pei The Chinese Designerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Landmark Show at the V&A
Illustration by Rowan Thomas
The gallery had metamorphosed into a portal entering another world, one where transcendental creatures creeped out of the shadows, draped in opulently embroidered fabrics of ivory and black. The first of these ethereal beings was a pair of ghostly twins. They slowly walked down the aisle, conjoined by the shared pannier skirt of their gown. It was reminiscent of the decadent clothing worn by the likes of Marie Antoinette in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In this realm, however, it was the detail that ruled as queen, as the panels were adorned with highly ornamental needlework depicting griffins, goats and gothic designs. This was the elaborately imagined world of Guo Pei.
“Today she is one of the most imaginative designers on the runway, as she seems to effortlessly combine new fabrics and techniques with her traditional Chinese craftmanship” Reaching prominence in 2015 after designing Rihanna’s famous yellow Met Gala dress, Guo Pei has been a firm fashion darling for over two decades and has dressed a menagerie of celebrities including Beyoncé and Li Bingbing. Today she is one of the most imaginative designers on the runway, as she seems to effortlessly combine new fabrics and techniques with her traditional Chinese craftmanship, earning her the accolade of being only the second born-and-raised Asian designer
to become a guest member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. It was therefore unsurprising when she was chosen as the landmark couturier to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the V&A’s Fashion in Motion series. These events, held in the beautiful rooms of the world-renowned museum, are designed to bring the catwalk to a wider audience and it was Guo’s AW19 Alternate Universe that was recreated in the gallery this Autumn. 13
Speaking on being chosen, the designer admitted her excitement at bringing her first ever UK show to the V&A Museum, a “historic platform preserving and celebrating art and design in many forms, from many cultures, and very often spanning many centuries.” Indeed, it was the influence of these many cultures that was at the forefront of her runway. From the sinuous silhouette of the kimono to baroque English ruffs, Guo traversed the globe in search for the basis of her collection. The outfit that struck me the most was a romantic regency-style dress with billowing, off-shoulder bishop sleeves and a starry illusion neckline. The model wore it with a gold spiked diadem, giving her the appearance of a celestial goddess, whilst on her right shoulder lay a crow.
“A spectacle that traversed time, place, and reality...”
These black birds seemed to be a recurring theme of the night, appliquéd onto skirts, corsets, and even the headdresses. They were the doormen between our world and the alternate one Guo had created. A plethora of other creatures also featured in her collection, all inspired by ancient stories and traditions; the monkeys from Aesop’s Fables were embroidered onto luxurious fabrics along with the snake from the garden of Eden. One dress, clearly inspired by ecclesiastical robes, displayed apes and the crowned heads of goats. It was the fashion equivalent of an illuminated manuscript, both in design and the time taken to make these marvellous creations.
Fashion in Motion:
In a spectacle that traversed time, place, and reality, Guo Pei’s catwalk show was an exploration of the ethereal an otherworldly; an ‘alternate universe’ that coexists and interplays with our own.
This was certainly true for the last look of the show. An illusion dress designed to make the wearer appear to be lying in a grassy field; it was an extraordinary sculptural feat that took Guo Pei’s atelier an astonishing seven years to complete. The quality of the piece was undoubtable as yellow, delicately sewn flowers cascaded down the front of the robe and swallowed up the model whole. Guo had obviously intended for this outfit to be imbued with a sense of life. From the verdant green tulle to the golden marigold applique, it was a vivacious juxtaposition to the more neutral dresses that otherwise completed the designer’s Autumn/Winter collection and was the perfect end to her time at the V&A.
But Where Are You From From? Kira Gurmail-Kaufmann
Kai and Zach, London 24 x 28 in
As a person of colour living in London, I have grown accustomed to the two questions nearly every new person whom I encounter asks me. The first is “where are you from?” and when I answer “London”, the second almost always follows: “but where are you from from?” In the
eyes of most of the population, my skin colour will always be a discussion point; it will always be something of difference. Following the Brexit referendum, Britain has seen a drastic rise in xenophobic and racist discourse. As someone who
has lived in London their entire life and whose parents were born in the UK, I was so shocked to see myself, my family, and friends become so instantly victims of racist abuse that goes far beyond the bounds of those two dreaded questions. I have always viewed London as a cosmopolitan space, a melting pot for other ethnicities and cultures. I was amazed to see that since the referendum, being born in London and having parents born in the UK was not enough for some people to consider me ‘British’; this is simply for the fact that I have brown skin and that when I answer the first question, they refuse my answer and ask me the second, to which they receive the same response.
I decided to embark upon this portrait series entitled But where are you from from? because when I looked at my circle of family and friends, I saw a reflection of London as I had always seen it: cosmopolitan. Regardless of skin colour, everyone was, in my and their eyes, British (ironically, the only person I painted that was actually born outside of the UK was someone with white skin).
Nick, Bushey 24x24 in
Bob, Vilnius 24x21 in
Aysha, Hampstead 24.5x24 in
Each work within this series is thus entitled the subject’s name, followed by their place of birth as is stated in their passport. I wanted to use a plain white background (or rather, no background) to underscore the irrelevance of action and environment.
In this way, the spectator is forced to focus solely on the visual appearance of the individual and see the faces which comprise London. The series aims to dispel the belief that ‘white equals British’ and ‘colour equals Other’, whilst celebrating diversity in London.
Matt, Hampstead 24x23 in
Maxine, Westminster 24x24 in
Sebastian, Whitechapel 24x22 in
Talia, Hackney 24x29.5 in
Who Gets to Define Eastern European Art?
An Exploration of Potential Ethical Dilemmas Regarding the Eastern European Art Market Libby Langsner
The Eastern European art market is one that holds a contentious relationship with the traditional evaluation and appraisal that comes with any art market. However, the idea of a market at all is one superimposed onto the Eastern European art ecosystem, and the concept itself bears skepticism. When the Iron Curtain collapsed in the early 90s, artists in the Eastern bloc were exposed to a completely new system – not one sanctioned or limited by the state, but one with commercial and capitalist parameters. When curating or acquiring works by Eastern European artists, one has to ask: where exactly is Eastern Europe? Does this labelling exactly fit the diverse languages, cultures, histories, and ethnicities that span this huge land mass largely unknown to the commercial art world? My current MA module, Countercultures: Alternative Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America 19591989, is my first experience learning about Eastern European Art post-WWII in a formal setting. This alone points to one of the many caveats when studying art history- many art histories are pushed to the side to focus on canonical narratives,
and this reflects in the commercial and public art world as well. It is also interesting to note the trend of how the exhibition of Eastern European artists in the United Kingdom or the United States are almost all retrospectives, and are often exhibited posthumously or when an artist is well into their 80s or 90s. While museums often try to explain this significant lag on censorship or lack of correspondence with these artists with the international community, many works in these shows prove the opposite is true. One such example can be found at Dora Maurer’s current retrospective at the Tate. Dora Maurer, a Hungarian avant-garde artist among many other descriptors, currently has a retrospective at Tate
Dóra Maurer, Overlappings (detail), Tate Modern © Luke Mckernan on Flickr (brightened)
Reversible & Changeable Phases Of Movements, Etude 4, gelatin silver prints and white pencil on cardboard, by Dora Maurer © dou_ble_you on Flickr
Modern (5 August 2019 - 5 July 2020). One of the most striking works presented is a copy of a British publication, Schmuck (1973), which is a collaborative issue with the Hungarian avant-garde in the 70s. The edition features satirical cartoons, art criticism, and visuals of artworks. This artwork also breaks the paradigm of Eastern European artists constantly looking to their Western counterparts, as in this case, English artists reached out to the Hungarian
artists reached out to the Hungarian avant-garde to take on creative control of the issue. This work, along with many of Maurer’s works, blurs the boundaries that arbitrarily divide the European continent. Maurer also held a concurrent show at the White Cube on her later works this past October. The White Cube’s show was a tribute to her new representation with the gallery. With private galleries’ increasing monetary support of museum
Illustration by Rebecca Marks Inspired by Seven Twists VI/III, 1979/2011 by Dora Maurer
shows, we are approaching an age where galleries have more funds and resources than established public institutions. If this is the case, why do galleries show an increasing support of exhibitions held at museums? Could museums pose as a new venue for commercial galleries to seek a return on their investments in artists? Visitors have to analyze the differences in presenting these artists in a commercial or public setting, and the implications the se have on the artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; careers and the analysis of their work.
Often with museum exhibitions, there is a boost in scholarship and buzz surrounding an artist. If they are not represented by a gallery, they often do get selected by museums as the museum serves as a point of legitimization for an artist. However, this legitimization is largely problematic, as it equates with recognition from the West, and in turn the commercial market. While monetary value boosts of the artistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work are largely lauded, the commercial increase in the 26
Does the success of the artist hinder these newer public museums in Eastern Europe from representing the artwork of their own people? There is no simple answer to this question, and currently no markers in the current art market that address this reality. The increasing popularity of displaying Eastern European artists’ work comes with a set of bittersweet results. While these artists deserve increased scholarship and recognition in the rest of Europe and the West, they also need to be represented in budding institutions with audiences that have often been deprived from experiencing their artworks. But one has to be ever critical of the induction of these artists into the market – artists’ works were incredibly important to art historical development long before they were represented by a commercial gallery or in a Western public institution. When these works are acquired or displayed, in the commercial or public sphere, the ethics regarding these transactions must always be examined. These artists have existed and produced prolific work long before these Western art institutions sought an interest in them. It is important to remember that they have not been newly discovered, and it is up to the viewer, as well as the institution, to recognize their legacy.
Dóra Maurer Relative Quasi Image 1996 © Dóra Maurer Photo: Vintage Galéria / András Bozsó
value of these works can often hinder Eastern European public art institutions. Once an artist had been picked up by a large commercial gallery, their work may become too expensive for smaller institutions to purchase. While the increase in scholarship and demand for these artists poses many benefits to their careers and inclusion in art history, it can also bar them from being included in the collections of museums located in their hometowns and countries.
ONE LINE REVIEWS FONS AMERICANUS Kara Walker
Illustration by Vitoria Mendes
Difficult histories indeed • Tempting!
Sculpture as discourse, memory, and a refusal to be forgotten • Excellent sculptural detail in mashed potato • Disappointing • Incredibly moving and powerful • Finally • Yes now titties • Deserves an applause • Why are artists always trying to outwit each other? • A turbine hall spectacle at its best • A clever commentary on colonialism • As scathing as her sugar baby
Kara Walker, Fons Americanus, 2019, Jesmonite and cork Hyundai Commission, Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, London (2 October 2019 – 5 April 2020)
Cosmopolitanism and Galleries The National Gallery, Gauguin, and a Cosmopolitan History of Art
the National Gallery has curated an exhibition that showcases a cosmopolitan history of European art: The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Gauguin Portraits (7 October 2019 - 26 January 2020).
If cosmopolitanism is simply the process of including people from many different countries, then galleries have been cosmopolitan pretty much since they first opened in cities across Europe. Today, it is one of many terms - alongside diversity and multiculturalism - now essential for European galleries marketing themselves as inclusive, liberal public spaces sharing their nation’s cultural heritage. In line with this trend,
Illustration by Himarni Brown
It is important to note that the National Gallery has not used the term ‘cosmopolitan’ to describe the exhibition, but these ideas are implicitly interwoven in labels, curation, and publications. Currently on display in the Sainsbury Wing, with a standard ticket price of up to £24, Gauguin Portraits tells the story of the artist’s life in Peru, France and ‘French Polynesia’. Each room moves chronologically through the art produced during various points in his life and includes a range of objects, from drawings and pottery to his iconic portraits of Tahitian women.
Throughout, curators emphasise how Gauguin - who always wanted to ‘escape civilisation’ in Tahiti whilst keeping his artistic eye on France - made a radical contribution to the history of art. The exhibition critically reflects upon the ‘nonWestern’ influences which revolutionised Gauguin’s portraiture. It also considers ‘the impact of colonialism through the prisms of contemporary debate’ and hopes to share this with the widest possible audience. These statements encourage us to think: how is Gauguin represented in this exhibition? What was the relationship between colonialism and his art? How are Tahitian cultures, people, and stories displayed? And, most crucially, how does the National Gallery handle these questions?
Gauguin could make art wherever, however, and of whoever he pleased. The gaze which turned Tahiti into paint and canvas is distinctly male, colonial, and white. It does not let its culture speak for itself and has not been adequately deconstructed. Ultimately, leaving the National Gallery I had more questions than answers and met with Sheyamali Sudesh
“Therefore, when viewing Teha’amana’s portrait, we recall Gauguin the revolutionary artist, rather than the story of his abused, thirteen-year-old ‘wife’.”
Gauguin’s abusive history in Tahiti is mentioned, but remains overshadowed by a celebration of his radical ‘genius’ as a cosmopolitan figure. Whilst Teha’amana Has Many Parents (1893) has become quite literally - the poster child of this exhibition, more controversial sketches of naked Tahitian women laying on Gauguin’s bed are not on display. Therefore, when viewing Teha’amana’s portrait, we recall Gauguin the revolutionary artist, rather than the story of his abused, thirteen-year-old ‘wife’.
recently delivered a talk at the National Gallery which highlighted the vast ocean that is the lack of representation of paintings created by, or solely depicting, people of colour at the National Gallery. She also focused on the deliberate choice to exhibit works by Gauguin, whose past sees him abusing young Tahitian girls.
At every turn we are reminded of how Gauguin radically brought the colonising West and colonised ‘non-West’ together through his art. But this is an art history which does not explicitly recall the colonial privilege which made this possible; as a white, European man, 31
(left) Paul Gauguin, Merahi metua no Tehamana, 1832, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago © Art Institute of Chicago (right) Paul Gauguin, Tehura (Teha’amana), about 1891-93, Musée d’Orsay, Paris © Musée d’Orsay
The first thing she pointed out was that ‘cosmopolitanism’ is not a word that many people - particularly in London associate themselves with. It’s not a term she would use to describe herself, her home, or the life she has experienced. In this case, we must ask whether the term ‘cosmopolitan’ is useful for exploring Gauguin’s time in ‘French Polynesia’ or sharing interpretations of colonialism with a diverse audience. Sudesh argues the term skirts around these issues, instead of making them palatable for the conventional visitor to European art galleries. These concerns with cosmopolitanism have sparked criticism with the exhibition. From curatorial choices, such as describing
Gauguin as being obsessed with himself, which potentially makes light of an abusive personality, to the commercial decision to merchandise Teha’amana’s face as you exit the exhibition, the National Gallery undermines their own interpretation that attempts to tackle the nuances of his ‘genius’. “It’s digging at him, but it’s not digging enough … there is no other way of saying it than that they are profiting out of abuse” - Sudesh said of the National Gallery gift shop in particular.
“It is not inclusive to exhibit some of the only portraits of women of colour anywhere in the collection for an entry fee of up to £24.” These decisions were probably made with inclusivity in mind. A less academic tone is far more engaging for the vast majority of visitors, and an exhibition shop is essential for keeping galleries open for free in a time of massive funding cuts. The National Gallery could be praised for this; it is clear they are trying to diversify both their exhibition output and audience input.
Paul Gauguin, Portrait of Meijer de Haan, about 1889–90. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Purchased 1968 © National Gallery of Canada
Or are they? It is not inclusive to exhibit some of the only portraits of women of colour anywhere in the collection for an entry fee of up to £24. The exhibition reflects broader failures across European galleries to diversify curatorial teams, address a distinctly postcolonial educational purpose, or actively decolonise the history of Western art. Sudesh points this out, and reminds us that exhibitions of Gauguin’s art will never be removed from a legacy of “countries which are not in the Western sphere for being exotic, something to look at and appreciate from the outside, take things from, not really respect, [and] paint a beautiful picture of.”
“No emotions are to be felt in a gallery except feelings of awe and beauty - you can’t be angry in a gallery, you can’t be annoyed - if the National Gallery does not change and it only shows white Western art as being art history, the people that come into the gallery, even if they are people of colour, might accept that this is art history” - Sudesh It is in this context that we can critically examine an exhibition celebrating Gauguin’s cosmopolitan ‘genius’ and idolising his depiction of Tahitian culture, people, and stories. It is in this context that we should rethink our cosmopolitan version of the history of art. 33
Extradition Kamran Sajid
a face that rested in perpetual smile will one day be doused in tears
a whispering storm would fill my mouth
blue paper towels would scrape my cheeks when I swapped No More Tears for Head & Shoulders lightning bolts were summoned to the sky my face drew floods in solitary moments and I began to fear the night
I inherited Daddyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s barb wire snare: my tongue incarcerated in my mind how could I make anyone laugh but out of pity or derision? predisposed to tell stories
I became disposed to write them
the pen would now replace my tongue paper would become my confidant but problems are never so simple remedies are never absolute
fluctuations are difficult to foresee
when you reside in your problemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s root
Illustration by Rosie Sluggett
I cry for the self-inflicted pain
you thought it was selfless to feel
I cry when I see your children laugh
unbeknownst of the dysphoria that awaits you carefully ribboned ten gifts with condition back when your child shared your tongue
but your ribbons became wires and your gifts explosives
free thought combusted by ignorance and now I am left in a stupor
and all your assertions are dazzling
cos perspicacity is a flood of tears and idiocy a collective laughter
but when I see you I am reminded
your presence is a negation of mine
your suggestions are self-projections
and your questions are laced with contempt so Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll live my life as I dreamt it
as my privilege permits me to do
Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll trip over my hand luggage more than once and make a living off my clumsiness
‘If you Don’t Drink Champagne, Go Away!’
Step Into the Night at the Barbican this fall… Isabella Wilkinson The Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art exhibition at the Barbican unveils the inextricable relationship between club culture and experimentation in modern art from the 1880s to the 1960s (4 October 2019 - 19 January 2020). Offering a unique insight into the history of modern art, it brings the spirit of exchange, dialogue, and collaboration between artists, performers, designers, musicians, and writers to the forefront. The exhibition takes you on a dynamic journey through the most renowned after-hour spots around the world, where works by modernist artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Giacomo Balla, and Theo van Doesburg can be found along the way. Night-time revelry and artistic creation go hand in hand as Into the Night celebrates the spaces in which artists from all kinds of creative disciplines congregate to discuss their work, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression in the formation of new concepts and movements. These cabarets, clubs, and cafés did not serve simply as meeting places for the likes of Picasso, Boccioni, and Hofmann, but rather they became direct sources of inspiration for the flow of artistic ideas, of-
ten being transformed into artistic spaces themselves. As a result of their elaborately designed interiors and cutting-edge sensory experiences, new forms of expression flourished, producing diverse artistic displays. Dim lighting and cabaret tunes set the scene as you walk up the stairs, transporting you through the histories of individual clubs and cabarets one room at a time. The excellent display of modern art from multiple cities across the globe demonstrates the significance of creative spaces, especially with these in the evolution of modern art over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Starting in 1907 at the Cabaret Fledermaus, the basement of a residential building in Vienna transforms into an extravagantly sensual space, representative of the Expressionist movement beginning to develop in the visual arts around that time. The norms of everyday life are left behind, replaced by a theatrical atmosphere that appeals to the senses through a mix of architecture, painting, costume, music, and dance. Leading on to 1920s Rome, where a neon sign warns visitors ‘if you don’t drink champagne, go away!’ at the entrance of the Bal Tic Tac. Giacomo Balla’s futurist 36
Illustration by Charlotte Alderman
art covers the walls, depicting scenes of light, movement and dance. The brightly coloured abstract shapes on the walls create a wholly immersive environment, radiating energy. A few streets down the Bal Tic Tac, Fortunato Depero designs the Cabaret del Diavolo in 1922. Based on Dante’s Divine Comedy, the club’s multilevel spaces are modelled upon the three realms of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. From the glowing white angels of Paradise to the dark red devils of Hell, this
worked together to transform what was originally military barracks into an entertainment and creative space. L’Aubette promoted and encouraged the interaction between multiple artistic and dynamic experiences, and the architecture and interior design complemented the artists’ collective artistic concept, which sought to channel the energy of the dancing body and the chaotic movement of people on city streets. Now you’re led back to 1980s Paris,
“The foundations of the modern art we see displayed within museums and galleries today are, more often than not, created behind closed doors...” where Loïe Fuller mesmerises through her radical experimentation with dance and costume. Her performance captivates as she dances among silks, poles, and coloured lights, demonstrating the new aesthetic possibilities as a result of new technology. An artistic cabaret, central to Bohemian culture, was the famed Chat Noir, referred to by many as “the Louvre of Montmartre”, complete with sultry décor inspired by faux-Gothic, Japanese, and Neoclassical arts. The exhibition continues as so, flitting back and forth be
eccentric haunt attracted an intellectual crowd, enticing ‘Tutti all’Inferno’ (Everyone to Hell). Moving across the seas you arrive at the Café de Nadie of Mexico City, a central gathering place for writers and artists of the Estridentismo movement. This radical group would come here to debate beliefs and formulate manifestoes addressing themes of modern life and the contemporary city. A similar crowd is found in Strasbourg as you visit L’Aubette in 1928, where a group of pioneering artists 38
tween years and countries. The journey ends in the 1960s at Rasht 29 in Tehran, a vibrant private club influenced by Iranian traditions and Pop Art aesthetics. Not only is there an impressive display of artwork upon the walls, but the social and artistic roles of these clubs are vividly demonstrated in the incredible life-size recreations found on the ground floor. An authentic feel is guaranteed as you enter the Chat Noir shadow theatre, Cabaret Fledermaus and the iconic L’Aubette, each of them brought to life with film, sound and music. Walk into the shadows of the Chat Noir, where fantastical designs and displays inspired by the likes of Degas and Monet hang in the air, or visit L’Aubette on a Thursday evening when it comes to life with live performances. I particularly enjoyed how the exhibition addresses the theme from a global perspective in its varied display of experimental practices, expertly connecting the most renowned social spaces across the world together in their mutual cultivation of artistic exchange. Into the Night reveals how there has always been a place for creatives to express themselves and their work. It serves as a poignant reminder that the foundations of the modern art we see displayed within museums and galleries today are, more often than not, created behind closed doors, in private spaces where artists felt liberated from the confines of social and political oppression. It shows how artists from diverse geographical and historical backgrounds venture ‘into the night’ in order to question provocative ideas, promote radical thinking, and freely challenge and redefine established social and artistic conventions. 39
Carole Nataf 18 x 25 cm Oil on panel 2019
(Pitchfork) Remembers Me Now The festival that showcases international music in the former abattoir of la Villette Saga Sjöberg
ly established their sole objective: to get everyone jumping up and down, leaving any pretense at the door.
On the eve of Brexit, Pitchfork Paris festival held its first of three nights of music. Having been eager attendees aged sixteen, my friends and I thought it fitting to go back and relive the experience six years later. The name of the game was the same: enthusiastic musicians and music lovers, old and young, conversing in different languages, all united under one roof in an effort to remain in the present moment for an evening, with only a love of music needed to join the party. The converted slaughterhouse of the Grande Halle de la Villette is a spectacular music venue. The vast space strikes the perfect balance between contained intimacy and freedom of movement. Thankfully, Brexit only came up once over the course of the entire evening. It was during the set of indie rock giants Belle and Sebastian that Stuart Murdoch replaced the lyrics in “Step Into My Office, Baby” with “I was burned out after Brexit/ We asked President Macron if he could fix it/ He said no.” But the comment carried little weight and was instead amusing and frivolous. By this point the band had ful-
It was precisely the emphasis on having a good time that characterised Primal Scream’s main stage set early on in the evening. As the legendary demand from the 1966 film, The Wild Angels: “just what it is that you want to do”, reverberated through the nineteenth century venue, the audience prepared the response that concludes with the affirmation: “We’re gonna have a good time/ We’re gonna have a party.” And with that, the night kicked off. Bobby Gillespie’s slinky dance moves were mesmerising, made all the more magical by a fuchsia pink suit. Making use of material predominantly from the 1991 album, Screamadelica, the Scottish band delivered the goods. Though Gillespie could be accused of ticking the boxes — instructing hand claps and turning the mic to the audience to answer back: ”I don’t wanna lose your love” in a slightly formulaic manner — the show was still a solid success. The all too familiar hits still resonated as unique in their ability to get everyone in the groove.
Illustration by Vitoria Mendes
Following the safe bet, we decided to try out one of the new stages opened this year called “Le Studio” — an amphitheatre tucked away in the bowels of the venue. It was there that a lesser known star took to the stage. That star was a masked individual who goes by the name of Orville Peck. With the stature of a bull rider, tattooed arms and a fringed leather mask, Orville Peck takes from the country tradition its universal message of a lonesome, heartbroken cowboy, leaving behind the close-minded conservatism. He is the lovechild of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash, fellow Canadian Shania Twain’s ménage à trois. The intimate theatre, reminiscent of David Lynch’s Roadhouse, was 43
packed with people filling the stairways, seated and engrossed in this enchanting performance of a mysterious off duty cattleman. With the energy of one of Madonna’s cowboy backing dancers in “Don’t Tell Me”’s music video, every single song was delivered with the utmost intensity and dedication. A Mexican wave of people rising to their feet washed across the entire room with the fast-paced song, “Pony”, where a sense of something big and important coming was undeniably felt by all. And that’s exactly how we should treat this artist. The energy on stage and the pulsating depth of sound of these highly skilled musicians isn’t easy to come by. Orville Peck got each individual to surrender themselves to that present moment, taking you for a ride that you sure wanted to be on.
Following the end of Peck’s set, we climbed the stairs back onto the ground floor and rushed over to this year’s second new stage, “La Nef ”, for Weyes Blood. The audience stood around an elevated semicircular stage lit by warm lanterns as a majestic, white-suited Mering took centerstage. The first song played, “A Lot’s Gonna Change”, off this year’s album Titanic Rising, immediately got the whole crowd swaying with her seductive vocals. In between each song, Mering would make an effortlessly candid comment, only letting us love her more. “Andromeda” was of course spell-bounding and conjured an otherworldly floating sensation across the entire audience with Mering’s beautiful vocals and purity of sound transporting us elsewhere.
Towards the end of their set, the seven-piece band brought a bunch of audience members onto the stage emphasising the nature of the evening as one big party for all. The final encore song, “Judy and the Dream of Horses”, kicked off with the crowd bouncing up and down for one final chance to partake in the least pretentious party of all time. The atmosphere inside the Grande Halle de la Villette for the duration of the evening was at a permanent high. Walking into the venue you could almost forget you were in Paris. Flurries of different languages fill the space creating an international community united by a love for music. The vast space feels like a city of its own — one that exists a place apart from our political waiting game. Those concerns aside, listen to Orville Peck. You won’t regret it.
We then darted back over to the main stage to await the second scots of the night, Belle and Sebastian, the final act of the evening. Immediately, the excitement and enthusiasm of front man Stuart Murdoch rubbed off on everyone. The packed-out audience were instantly at ease, all laughing along to Murdoch’s attempts at speaking French and his Brexit and Balzac references. Murdoch jumped about the stage with such energy that it became impossible not to get involved no matter how far back you were. “She’s Losing It” and “The Stars of Track and Field” were major highlights.
“The entire evening turned into one massive sing along that everyone desperately wished would last forever.” 44
Extinction Rebellion This is an Emergency, Act Like It!
Cas Bradbeer As ever, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m honestly disappointed in myself. I could have gone to university less and protested more, especially since I strongly believe that this is one of the most important issues within our control at this time. In October, I spent a couple of days protesting with Extinction Rebellion -the international body of activists protesting against the senseless inaction of our society in the face of the climate emergency. At their October Rebellion, I met people who had been camping out for weeks, people who were waiting for those they had travelled with to get released from prison, and people who also got arrested themselves. I only camped for one night, and despite my efforts in blocking traffic, I was not arrested.
I feel ashamed that I didn’t protest more, whether that was against the mistreatment of the environment, the government’s refusal to accept the climate crisis, or the police brutality that I witnessed at the protests. What I’m proud of though are the everyday steps that I take to help save the environment and the voice that I try to give to the cause. So here’s my voice, here’s my protest, to which I hope you listen, because the world needs us all to hear it dying and for us all to change our ways.
“The message of the protests is loud and clear - this is an emergency, act like it! ”
Before the ban, there were talks, displays, and workshops that popped up throughout the weeks. Although it was difficult to find them, as the police kept on taking everything down and seizing materials. Particularly in Trafalgar Square, there were many affective visual displays that really hit it home for me; these informed how the world is already suffering because of climate change, especially in terms of natural disasters, which have dramatically increased over the past hundred years. Over this time, our inactivity has caused us to reach a dramatic crisis level; we can only prevent the impending colossal damage if we take urgent emergency action. This crisis is explained very well in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report made last year stating that we have 11 years to take radical action in order to stay below 1.5°C of warming, which is the only way to prevent irreparable harm.
Sadly, the only emergency action the government seems to be taking is against us. The police treatment of the peaceful protesters was shocking and deeply upsetting for me. I saw police slashing tents, going through people’s belongings, and dragging people by their backpacks without any warning, just to move them out of the way. My friend, who stayed several nights at Trafalgar Square, said that there were helicopters hovering very low over sleeping tents between 3am and 5am each night to stop them from sleeping in an attempt to wear them down. The pinnacle of this treatment was when a ban on the whole rebellion was declared, which terrified me, as I never would have thought that we were in danger of losing our right to peacefully protest in this country. But now we are. 46
Illustration by Katya Timofeeva
The protests reminded me that it is vital that we make huge changes in our lives now, in addition to campaigning for authorities to take emergency action. I feel the former should always accompany
the latter, because if you understand that change is desperately needed, then you should understand that this includes radical change from you as well as radical change from authorities. 47
The people that I met, who were invariably inspirational, also demonstrated to me what these changes could and should be: • We need to understand what’s going on, so read the news. • Embrace the anxiety it ought to bring you, using it to push you out of inaction. • Use the information to inform the petitions you sign, what protests to go to, and what to say when you’re calling your MPs or complaining to the news about coverage.
It can seem overwhelming, but I can assure you that this is much less overwhelming than the idea of our planet as a whole becoming uninhabitable. Earth is crying out desperately for you to change, and unfortunately many of us have not paid attention. Our psychology and our circumstances make it more difficult for us to comprehend such crises. Regardless, the evidence is there and it is time to act in opposition to our impulses. Changing our current unsustainable habits is what the planet’s present and future inhabitants, ecosystems, and physical structure need to be able to survive.
Though what really struck a chord with me is not what extra things people were doing, but what people were willing to give up. If people can give up their beds, their jobs, and their relationships for the cause, we can all work much harder to let go of our bulk of privileges. So I hope you also consider giving up the following: • Meat, dairy, and plastic takeaways you eat • Travelling via planes, private transport, and non-electric vehicles • Your next shopping spree • Some of your civil liberties • We’ve all got a mountain to climb (I’ve certainly got to work on those last couple of privileges), but it is our absolute duty to so.
What you lose by giving these things up, I promise you will regain in the hope that Extinction Rebellion protests, and the climate activism movement in general, will give you. Seeing the crowds at the October Rebellion in London reanimated my passion for the movement. This could have been due to the 30,000 people protesting, the 1,800 peaceful protestors who were wilfully arrested, or maybe just the general infectious fighting spirit. My passion was especially jet-propelled by meeting people who are as scared as I am, but are not pushed to the point of inaction.
“The time to start being radical was about 20 years ago, so get catching up now!” 48
Dalston, Mon Amour Demystifying the Future of the City
Illustration by Vitoria Mendes
I had a false sense of security thinking I was adept to life in London having lived in the city all of my life. Now that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve moved into student accommodation, the
whole experience of the city is transformed. Stepping out of Duchy House you become one member of the recycled crowds that congregate at the crossing, back and forth between Boots and Pret like a game of tennis. The 76, 243, 26, 341, and the numerous other buses are my
I first encountered Lek’s work at the showing of Dalston, Mon Amour, a project commissioned by Open Source Festival in 2015. The film presents a site-specific simulation of the area where I grew up. In taking this familiar space and subverting its reality, all of the attachment and meaning I have of it was altered. The area was however changing anyway; from an immigrant neighbourhood to the growing series of private deluxe apartments. In Lek’s film, an extract from Alain Resnais’ film Hiroshima Mon Amour discusses memory, which is poignant in the face of urban regeneration. The rich cultures are still present and will hopefully persevere in Dalston, Ridley Road Market, at the exhibitions on the community’s history in the local library where I used to revise for exams, and on the streets teeming with a diverse mix of people.
friendly neighbours that rattle the window pane every time they pass by. Familiar but never the same, London’s cold dichotomy remains liquid and unchanging. Trafalgar Square looks full of life but at the same time is empty for us locals. London is no moveable feast because it cannot be pinned down. The city is as transient as those who move through it, evolving and modernising at every blind corner and back-alley. Housing, homelessness, and overcrowding are getting worse and we need solutions. In the (LED) light of ‘tech cities’ I must brace for this experience to evolve entirely, again. What links all of us and maps the city most effectively is technology and the virtual realities in which we all exist in some abstract way. The city contains and communicates in electromagnetic waves, which I imagine as an invisible sheen above our heads, or if we’re being seasonal, as a snow globe. We’re somewhat trapped and under-pressure while also spreading far and wide with links that give the city an intense reach. Alongside the typical London metropolis are different kinds of cities such as Singapore or Hong Kong, with even more awareness of their tech potential. Artist filmmaker Lawrence Lek can be our interpreter and make this abstract and disturbing notion satisfyingly dystopian.
Lekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s piece has no people, and metropolitan life seems in ruin. It is the architecture of the space that survives here, but only in the form of forgotten nightclubs, music venues, snooker clubs and the modern additions of developments. Is this the fate of soulless gentrification and rampant development?
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Is this the fate of soulless gentrification and rampant development?â&#x20AC;?
Dalston, Mon Amour was originally a mood piece and then re-designed as a Brexit Edition in 2016. But it spoke to me from the outset, as the devoid spaces that Lek digitally conjures align with my anxieties about the city and what it will become. Tech is bringing visceral change to cities across the world, but we need to hope that AI and a new tech world that we are slowly morphing into will not conclude with Wall-e-esque wastelands of hyper modernisation. One truth is that the future is indeterminate at this point because climate change means we require another re-evaluation, so tech should be enhanced in cities to make them healthier and more efficient. Lek is interested in a virtual art history and a virtual architecture, which will forever contain our memories of places. Regardless of whatever the future holds in store and of authenticity (we are post-truth anyway), we can use tech attitudinally.
In Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City, Richard Sennet is wary of ‘smart cities’, and argues for a complex and organic city. When a populace becomes reliant on tech, their experience of the city passifies and we are dumbed down. If we take Lek’s simulation of Dalston as a product of a continuing modernisation, then the communities lose agency to the point of extinction; we are assuming the worst. Sennet suggests ‘rupture’ as an option and describes Cy Twombly quoting Nicolas Poussin in his titles as an imagery to create abstract expressions.
Maybe AR can act as this rupture in the same way that an art gallery profits from a transgressive artist. The scary world of AR could excel at creating a new way of experiencing the city. As long as AR gives complexity and puzzles to the city, then consciousness will emerge.
“So too a jarring building or public space means consciousness of place.” Sennet believes it is important to consider impermanence as a step toward the future. The transience that I experience around Duchy House is simply the complexity of the city and citizens, and harmony can be found across the people that live in the city, the structures of the buildings, and the precious climate. AR can help us visualise this. At the recent Dezeen Day, architect and filmmaker Liam Young said architects should utilise their skills in the design of ‘digital urban environments that a billion people play in every day’ to help them become better designers. Moreover, to tackle tech, we should maybe have affinity toward it. By visualising imaginary worlds, Lek is exploring the city in new ways, which in my opinion does more for the world’s industry and preparing for the future than commonly seen mindless and unabashed development. 52
What The Universe Has Taught Me An Open Letter to my Nine-Year-Old Self Lissie Mackintosh Dear nine-year-old Lissie,
ing said this, never stop standing up for yourself. You’re feisty when you want to be and you will only get stronger - use your voice. Never let anyone walk all over you, no matter how intimidating it may seem to speak out. I say this because life can and will be disappointing at times, and the person you need to prioritise looking out for is yourself. People will come, people will go - this is inevitable, but does not define you. Let yourself feel, let yourself grieve, let yourself be angry. Then pick yourself up and dust yourself off... not for anyone else, but ALWAYS for yourself.
Don’t freak out! It’s me. It’s you - just 10 years older and here to tell you about everything I’ve learnt so far. I hope it helps you. Although being as stubborn as I know you are, you will take none of this on board... and that’s okay. Because you will still come out the other side, as strong-willed as ever, with a pretty solid set of life lessons to take away. They won’t be easy to learn, I’ll warn you now, but trust yourself. You’ll do it and you’ll do it and you’ll keep doing it, because you are strong. Good luck Lissie, here’s what I want to tell you before life dances you along and you’re about to leave your teens.
Lissie, I know sometimes you feel out of place, and it’s true, you won’t always feel like you fit the bill. You’ve always been the thoughtful type, the lone-wolf type, perhaps, but when you speak, people will listen. You will continue to share your big heart with everyone and do things to help others, which you will feel so proud of.
Firstly, I’ll just tell you now. Life won’t always be what you think it will be. You won’t be able to plan everything, even though I know you love to be prepared. Life is messy, life is quick, but this is what makes life so full. Roll with the punches and try to lower your expectations. Hav-
On this note, please, please, PLEASE stop beating yourself up. 10 years later and I can assure you: you are still a perfectionist. You will continue to feel like you need to ‘have your life together’ in order for everything to work out, and even though you’re still struggling with this now, it doesn’t mean it’s true. You won’t have time to make everything perfect. Hey, you may not even make every single one of your grades. But you are more than your failures, far more than your weaknesses, because my God, you do have a lot of strengths too. You are the most powerful, resilient girl I know. That’s one thing I can say for sure. Remind yourself to never lose your authenticity, even if everyone around you seems to be out partying every night. Sure, you’ll learn to love a brilliant night out with your friends, even if it ends with a £90 uber clean up fee... but as you get older your definition of ‘cool’ will change. At 19, that means doing the things that truly make you happy and looking after yourself instead of putting everyone else’s needs above your own (especially when they aren’t even nice to you). It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but please remember that you will probably only enter these people’s minds for about 10 seconds in a day. Do you really want to live your life differently for those 10 seconds? So stop second guessing yourself when you choose to spend a Friday night in sat on the sofa watching Gilmore Girls. You need it. You want it. And that is all that matters.
“Let. Me. Tell. You.” Living in London will be harder than you think it will be, and uni will not be what you expected. London can and will be unforgiving, and it will try and make you feel like you shouldn’t take time for yourself. You will experience your mind begging ‘can you please give me some love now’ and it will feel lonely and overwhelming.
Illustration by Afrah Allsopp
“Talk to the people you love, they want nothing but the best for you, and stop trying to please the ones who don’t fit into your life.” When you’re in a hard place, you’ll realise who really has your back.
“Cherish those people. And cherish the moments you have with yourself too.” Even though they seem lonely, you’ll look back on them fondly as life gets busier and more hectic. I know you can get through some pretty tough stuff. You’ve done it, you’re going to keep doing it, and you’re going to write about it one day and think about how far you’ve come. And believe me when I say you can do anything, the universe seems to think so too, and it has a lot more goodness in store for you.
And finally, Lissie... please stop wearing red tights with pink shorts. Or actually, don’t. Do your thing. New advice: wear your red tights and pink shorts, and never, ever apologize for it. All my love and luck, Lissie