The Menteur Magazine
PERSIST Summer 2018
Literary magazine produced by University of Kent Paris School of Arts and Culture
I saw you in the water ÂŠ Alice Gauthier 2017 stone lithograph 30 x 40 cm
Contents Part I: Cycles
Persist – Katie Allen Beautiful – Heather Cripps Dog Mind – Charlotte Lewis One of Many – Amy Lewtas Wall Paint – Haymon Rahim Portrait of Georges Helft – Catherine MacDonald Another Sketch – Sarah Timmerman Doubting Tom – Matthew Small Get in Line – Savannah Gerlach The Devil’s Diary – Ryan Davies Working at Hastings – Lauren Briscoe
Part II: Resistance
Transmutation – Claire Watt Unfortunate Truths – Mairead Randall Internal Persistence – Leela Chanterelle Protesting in the Age of Social Media – Rachel Poxon Persist – Billie Stubley Nevertheless, We Persisted – Eliza Burmistre Back to the Drawing Board – Danielle Ureta Spontak Coward’s Hiss – Zoheb Mashuir
Part III: Resolve
dysthymie – Cole Wilson Back to the Drawing Board – Olivia Toulmin End of Eddy Review – Alice Helliwell Dear Frost – Danielle Ureta Spontak Scars – Gabriella Domenica Ascent – Dante Wilcox Contributors
Team Eliza Burmistre
Co-Editor in Chief
Co-Editor in Chief
Mairead Randall Fiction
Amy Lewtas Poetry
Sarah Timmerman Poetry
Michel Houweis Art
Dante Wilcox Poetry
Claire Watt Poetry
Adjoa Mensah Art
Lora Aziz Art
Note from the Editors Revolution is in the air! 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the events of May 1968, when the established order was challenged here in Paris. What started out as students protesting for educational reform rapidly escalated into a series of violent clashes the law, which included the largest strike in French history. The events gave way to a heightened awareness of everyday life in modern society. Reforms were made not only within the political sphere, but across the arts too. Today we live in a constantly shifting environment. The world never stays the same for long, with global warming, politics and the international lifestyle many people live nowadays. It’s much harder to know exactly where we stand. The term ‘post-truth’ is used often. On a daily basis, monumental changes are taking place, many of which are rooted in ideologies of division, exclusion, and, ultimately, fragmentation. In this issue, we take a journey through ideas and values that persist within this landscape, which while familiar, question the fabric of everyday life. Charting the pattern towards reform in three parts, we move from Cycles, which enclose us into the realm of Resistance, and, finally, Resolve in the wake of adversity. The design decisions were revolutionary, breaking the style of previous edition of the Menteur. We’ve used a pattern throughout the magazine, our words and the ideas we stand for persist throughout. By carefully ordering the writing, the images are interspersed to weave the narrative through many different ways we can all persist. Produced through a remarkable collaboration of MA students here at the University of Kent in Paris, we’re delighted to be able to present the outcome. We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we have enjoyed working on it.
The Menteurs Eliza, Haymon and the Menteurs
Runner on the Moors ÂŠ Alice Helliwell 2018 Ink and chalk
PART 1: CYCLES
Untitled Â© Elena Amoros 2018 35mm analog photographies
by Katie Allen Dedication with assertion Boldness in your personal bliss. Forthright yet gutsy Taking initiative to become Proactive. Chiselling to enhance yourself, Eradicating toxic areas, to radiate health Maximising life and bursting at The seams. Realising Your wildest dreams. Not listening to detractors Just keeping, going Above, beyond Overcoming obstacles, resolving challenges Evaluating for future improvement. Never giving Up At the final hurdle.
Untitled ÂŠ Elena Amoros 2018 35mm analog photographies
By Heather Cripps The day that Lissy finally lands her back somersault in gymnastics class, Theresa bottles it. She falls on her back on the crash mat. The gymnastics coach, who wasn’t looking at Theresa because she’s been doing back somersaults since she was nine, runs over from where he is congratulating Lissy. “I’m okay,” Teresa says, standing up quickly and giving a thumbs up to everyone in the gym. Lissy’s mum picks them both up as she always does on a Wednesday when Theresa’s mum is working. “Good session girls?” Lissy is grinning, “I did my back tuck!” “You did? I’m so proud of you,” Lissy’s mum hugs her. “Well done,” Theresa says and they hug too and then Lissy’s mum takes them to McDonald’s for a McFlurry to celebrate. No one mentions the fall. It’s not a big deal – at least not yet. Theresa is the best gymnast in her age group at the club. This is what she does. She lives and breathes it. She watches the Olympics and the National Championships. She knows she probably won’t make the Olympics but she hasn’t really thought about the fact that one day she will probably have to live and breathe something else. Maybe she will just have a few hobbies in between work and friends and kids. Right now, she frowns briefly before she goes to sleep (in Lissy’s pink queen bed because they’d begged for a sleepover) as she watches Lissy’s lips pucker and un-pucker in the light from the corridor. Then she closes her eyes. The next day when Theresa is putting on her school uniform, which is crumpled from spending the night in her gym bag, Lissy is putting on lipstick. “When did you get that?” Theresa asks. “For my birthday.” Lissy just turned thirteen. Theresa will turn thirteen in two months. “I didn’t see you open it at your party.” “Amanda got it for me, you know from Year Ten. She didn’t come to my party.” There is a pause while Theresa ties her tie. “Want some?” Lissy says. “Okay.” Theresa kneels down in amidst Lissy’s skirts and leotards and pouts her lips like Lissy did in her sleep. Lissy laughs, “Not like that, relax more.” “I can’t relax,” Theresa giggles. “Stop talking.” Lissy accidentally draws a line of bright pink across Theresa’s cheek. Lissy’s mum hears them laughing from downstairs. “I look like a clown.” “You moved your mouth!” “You were talking to me.” “You put it on then,” Lissy says and hands Theresa the lipstick. Theresa wipes off all the lipstick Lissy put on and then reapplies it, filling in the lines like she used to do in colouring books. “Hey, I did it.” “Well done,” Lissy says. She takes a perfume bottle off her dressing table and sprays herself with it. It smells like flowers and honey. Theresa stares at it until Lissy asks if she wants some. “A bit.” 14
Lissy hands her the bottle.
In their next gymnastics class Lissy is nervous when she has to do her back somersault. “What if I’ve lost it?” “I’m sure you haven’t. And if you’re a bit wobbly on the first one you’ll probably get it back on your second or third go. That’s what usually happens. You just have to keep trying.” The coach stands in to spot Lissy but she doesn’t need it. It’s not a perfect somersault but she does it by herself and lands it. “You need to tuck your knees in tighter to your body,” says the coach. “Watch Theresa.” Theresa is running when she realises this is the first time she has done her back tuck since the other day when she fell. She remembers at lunch break at school today that Lissy had reapplied her lipstick and Dylan and Jake both kept looking at her and trying to wipe it off to annoy her. As her hands hit the tumble track and chalk flies up around her face, she realises that she needs to do this back tuck perfectly to show Lissy how it’s done, and she tries to remember how she did it the thousands of other times when the coach stood by and yelled ‘Yes Theresa, that was beautiful’ and she panics because those times seemed automatic and she didn’t need to tell her body what to do and now she is trying to tell her body what to do and she doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be doing. Theresa lands on her back again with a thud. She lies there for a second, smelling chalk and stale sweat while everyone runs over to her again. Her coach and Lissy, her best friend, are leaning over her. “Are you alright?” “Yeah. Fine,” she sits up. “You didn’t respond for a second then,” the coach says. “You didn’t hit your head, did you?” “It was just the shock.” “Does your back hurt?” “A bit.” The coach lets Theresa sit on the side and drink some water while the other gymnasts continue. She bends her arm round to her back awkwardly, holding an ice pack there. It doesn’t really hurt but she knows she doesn’t feel right. Lissy’s tuck gets better and better every time. Today is Friday so it’s Theresa’s mum who picks them up. Her eyes widen when she sees Theresa slumped over on the bench with an ice pack. “She had a slight fall,” the coach says. “If it still hurts in a few days, go to the doctor.” In the car Theresa’s mum complains over the Top 40 that Theresa is only twelve and that coach pushes her like she’s the next Simone Biles. “That twisty thing he was trying to have you learn last week was crazy. What was that? Should a human body even be able to do that?” Theresa is thinking about how in a few weeks maybe her mum won’t need to say that at all because the coach will have her re-learn her back tuck and Lissy will probably move on to straights and halves and doubles. At any minute Lissy could say that it was just a back tuck that Theresa fell out of, but she doesn’t. They usually both make fun of Theresa’s mum when she gets like this but today Lissy is looking out of the window and grinning instead. At around eight Lissy’s mum rings and says she’s sorry she is late to pick Lissy up but she thought the girls would be begging for a sleepover again, especially because it’s Friday night. “I think they’re tired,” Theresa’s mum says. “They’ve just been watching TV. And Theresa hurt her back at gym today. I know. I know. They push her so hard. They just got excited when she started progressing so quickly, I guess.” 15
The girls are slumped on the sofa watching a Nickelodeon show about mermaids. They rouse only when the doorbell goes. Lissy had dumped her stuff in Theresa’s bedroom when they got back, so they both go upstairs to get it. “Don’t you think this leotard is so pretty?” Lissy says, holding it up before she stuffs it in her bag. “Yeah. It reminds me of the one I won last year. For gymnast of the year, remember?” “Oh. Yeah. This one has more glitter though.” As Lissy is about to leave Theresa notices that the lipstick Amanda got her is still on her dressing table from when Lissy was reapplying it after gymnastics. “Lissy,” Theresa says. “Yeah.” Theresa pauses and then says, “I think Jake might like you, you know.” “Oh my god, why didn’t you say this earlier!” Lissy is grinning. “I forgot.” “I’ll ring you when I get home, okay?” “Okay.” They hug and Lissy goes downstairs. “Aren’t you going to say goodbye?” Theresa’s Mum calls up the stairs. “I already did. I’m lying down because my back hurts,” Theresa yells back, her lips partly open and her fingers holding the lipstick. She hears her mother say goodbye and then the door shutting behind Lissy and her mum. Theresa carries on colouring her lips bright pink.
Untitled © Katherine Petridou 2018 Photography
by Charlotte Lewis Last night, still light, the old dog barked through the gate. Though anticipated he shocked and woke the child in me, leaving behind the age currently occupying. The entirety of my being questioned by a dog’s night duty. So, I’ve this feeling, coming up like a Sunday wearing spandex that stretches ‘round my body, clinging like a hiding place made of fire ants and stinging nettles. Mind like a dog, tail between its legs, rolls over to kiss your feet, has run off and waits patiently for the return of its owner; it’s a wonder it has no collar, or by now you haven’t called it by its single syllabic demeanour. in light of it all, I see my Dog. So loyal, and willing, and waiting, patiently. Sit; stay. Mind like a truck, runs over and backs up. Mind like his mistress-- coming home past 10 and telling me I won’t amount to it, with the smell of fear on its neck, behind its ear: Indulge and rest unconscious. Mind that’s been 12 times reduced, wired with anxiety, but tenacity is not absent. During the peak he tells me “can’t you just watch the washing machine spin?” A space to slip into when I slip out of myself. But the counter needs cleaning, and I have to call my mother, and I said that thing that I can’t help but go over, and over And I’m starting to think about the effort that goes into everything: The weaving of threads in my clothing, the soap, the spinning. I’m spinning in murky water, looking out from the drum. All I can be sure of, what draws forth some sort of temporary meaning, is everything I’m experiencing is in its nature so fleeting. 18
One of Many by Amy Lewtas
Everything comes back to flowers. In the paintings you admire and the tattoos you wish you had the balls to get transpire into illicit dreams of Romantic futures. Sunflowers in a vase on the mahogany coffee table of the household that is so traditionally nuclear. Marigolds in the flower beds your husband the avid gardener tends. You do the same in yellow gloves at the kitchen sink watch from the window. Destruction is taught at an early age. You grew up ripping flowers from the grass poking tiny nails into green stems and making daisy chains. Chains at a time when it seemed the sun would always shine onto checked school dresses. And the yellow glow lingers on cotton soft baby chins. For ultimate confirmation most of us like butter. Unspoken rules apply to every situation. Auntie needs picking up from hospital Sunday evening calls for f l o w e r s from Spar. As unsatisfactory as progress in recovery. There aren’t so many flowers around in January the parks are grey. Mother’s Day is soon. You won’t see her but fifty quid you can’t quite spare on a bouquet you selected when scrolling a preference of pixels will surely show her that she is the most vital part of your life. Just like every mother.
by Haymon Rahim I remember when we were painting the hall last spring we had narrowed it down to three colours Willow Green Mangrove Yellow and Vermilion Red The green I said it makes me think and fields that smell I don’t know you said of olives or moss growing What about the yellow the tone is quite soft I see what you mean though it is also like old books
is nice of forests like peppermint it reminds me in drainpipes you said and mellow I said a bit sickly with musty pages
The red though it’s fairly strong Ketchup blood maybe you’re I’ll pick up a pot
what about the red but it could work and motels aside right I’ll sleep on it let’s just go with that
Now it is winter and besides those three strokes the hall is ghost white.
Untitled © Lora Aziz 2018 Watercolour on paper
Portrait of Georges Helft Â© Rob Miles 2018
Visit with Georges Helft – Collector Extraordinaire by Catherine MacDonald
On a magical Paris evening in autumn 2017, students from the University of Kent were privileged to visit the home of Georges Helft to view his private art collection. Although the art, (Klee, Picasso, Durer, Duchamp, etc.), was amazing, the real treasure was Georges himself. He generously shared the works and his own journey as a collector. Having advised internationally renowned organisations and curated over 150 shows around the globe, he has known some of the greatest artists and collectors in the world. To share this inspirational story of persistence and dedication, I spoke with Georges one February morning for this interview. With respect to the beginning of his interest in art and artists, Georges said: “My grandparents were antiquarians in Paris. My father was born in their shop on rue La Fayette. As soon as the First World War finished, he started his business with his brother and they too, were antiquarians. Although my father was self-taught and never went to school, he became a world-renowned expert on eighteenth century silver and wrote major works on the subject, many of which are still in use today.” He went on to say that their household in Paris was immersed in art. Despite his father’s business and knowledge of seventeenth and eighteenth century tapestries, furniture, porcelain, decorative arts and bronzes, due to the rigorous authentication requirement, he did not buy eighteenth century paintings, unless they illustrated French silver. While the furnishings in their Parisian home reflected his father’s work, contemporary art hung on the walls, purchased from his uncle’s art gallery. From an early age, Georges’s interest was sparked by the works of such artists as Picasso, Matisse and Braque hanging on the wall. Being of Jewish faith, the family was forced to flee Paris during the Nazi invasion when Georges was six years old. They lost everything and excluded from French citizenship they had no travel documents. They left their prominent business and comfortable life to run from city to city and finally to another country. Months later, they were in New York but after the war in 1947, they moved to Buenos Aires. Georges told me his parents were truly a team working together to open another business and build their lives again. While in New York, his father took him to modern art museums and the studios of his friends. After the war, on short trips to Paris they visited others where he was drawn to the Impressionists and to more contemporary art (now known as Modernism). In their Buenos Aires home, as in Paris, contemporary art hung on the walls. It was a natural progression for Georges to choose contemporary art to buy. When I asked about his exceptional “eye” Georges responded: “I believe that my eye is one of the most important and one of the most valuable things that I acquired. It was my father’s intention, when he began taking me systematically to museums when I was about eight to teach me the basics, the ABC’s of what art is about. My father knew what was more important when looking at a work of art and that made a huge difference. Today people say, “oh you have a great eye.” It comes all the way back from there and of course, the next 60 or 70 years which I have lived and have dedicated to art. I have read tremendous amounts, visited museums hundreds and hundreds of times, have had long discussions with the most famous and prestigious art dealers of different nationalities. Having decided to retire very young and dedicate myself full-time to my hobbies, I was able to achieve this and it has now been 35 years that most of my time, I have dedicated to art, music and opera.” Regarding his dedication and passion for the arts, Georges smiled. “A major feature that is not fully comprehended by people 23
who know me is that Georges Helft art collector is one thing, but Georges Helft is primarily a collector and I am a collector of everything! This was already noticeable when I was extremely young, even before my teenage years, when I was collecting stamps, and I was collecting stamps obsessively…. I always say that collecting is an illness that cannot be cured with antibiotics!” I was told that his remarkable collection contains such items as 1199 Opera programmes in chronological order, 5000 musical event programmes, organised by locations like Carnegie Hall, Teatro Colon, plus out of print books for his huge library. He looks for things that interest him and when he finds them, he buys them. He does not buy them only to collect but to read and explore. Later in life, he started collecting the works of Georges Luis Borges. Borges was an Argentine short story writer, essayist, poet and translator; internationally celebrated, he remains a key figure in Latin American literature. I asked Georges how he became interested in the writings of Borges and he said: “I wanted to leave a mark on our cultural world and I decided to put together a private foundation. I did that simultaneously with my retirement and ran the foundation from 1980 to 1993. It has left a mark on the cultural world of Buenos Aires and two different groups are interested in writing the history of my foundation even though it closed twenty-five years ago.” Georges then wove a fascinating tale of his first encounter with Borges. His foundation, was totally private, extremely poor but filled with ambitious plans for their inaugural year. Georges consulted a friend regarding potential ways to publicise without a budget. His friend suggested something spectacular that would draw the press and provide free advertising – perhaps inviting Borges to speak. Remarkably, at his friend’s suggestion he found Borges’ number in the phone book: the housekeeper answered and passed the line to Borges himself. Borges was very gracious even saying he would call Georges his neighbour. He told Georges that he hated to talk on the phone and invited him to his home. During the visit, Georges explained what the foundation was trying to accomplish and Borges told him he’d be delighted to accept Georges’s request to speak about his friendship with the famous Argentine artist, Xul Solar. Their conversation continued for hours with Georges so impressed by Borges that he almost forgot to ask about his fee. When he mentioned this, Borges said he understood that a new Argentine foundation dedicated to culture was very poor and offered to come for zero pesos, suggesting Georges think about it. This was unnecessary as he accepted immediately and proposed giving the planned fee to a student at the university. Borges then reached out his hand and grabbing Georges’s said, “You see Mister Helft, I’m over eighty but I have not forgotten my arithmetic.” He told me what a great influence Borges was for him. “Why? Very simply because the man was outstanding, a real genius. One of my Argentinian friends always used to say ‘He is the only encyclopedia with legs.’ It was fabulous to talk to him. He was humorous, extremely kind and modest.” When Borges died in Geneva six years later, Georges felt that he owed something to Borges. He researched venues where Borges played a significant role, looked up heirs, met with the University and even searched the National Library - but the books had all been stolen. Nothing had been maintained anywhere. Georges decided to stop collecting art and to collect Borges. After notifying friends everywhere, he travelled to bookstores and meaningful locations to make it known he was searching. His son now handles this exceptional collection of 16,000 items but continues to search for new items all over the world. It even contains the complete photo album of the Borges family. In 1992, the Centre Pompidou housed a 1,000 square metre literary exhibit of Borges and 74% of the loans were from Georges’s 24
collection! When I asked Georges about the highlights in his collection, he told me that his interest in collecting art has always been extremely varied and he pointed to an open guitar displayed in his living room. A work may not carry great monetary value or fame but understanding the emotion behind it holds the greatest significance for him. Even though he may not like a particular piece because it does not speak to him, he credits his father with teaching him to still explore it. His collection is dominated by those works that inspire his passion. “Others immediately mean something to me and if we stay in the twentieth century Klee, Picasso, and Duchamp mean a lot to me. Picasso, because it’s Picasso, he’s unique, he’s the greatest. And why is he the greatest? Because every picture – good, genial or bad, and there are many bad Picassos, have such creativity in them that they mean something to me. I don’t like it if it is a bad Picasso. I have enough eye to say this is a good one, this is a mediocre one, this is a really bad one – like for any artist. But even a bad one has so much energy, so much creativity and the new image is presented in such a way that it means something to me, that it gives me an emotion. With Duchamp, more than the objects themselves, it’s the re-conceptualisation of what art is. It tells me – beware, many things in a certain context can give you the emotion of art, completely in a creative way. That’s why Duchamp is a special passion for me because he has redefined what art is and what art is about. That’s of the utmost importance. Klee, it’s through poetry, poetry and music. Every time I see a Klee, even if it is not a very good one, there is always a poetic content, there is always a reference, which may be completely hidden or difficult to follow, related to music. So, there you have the three stars of my world. This doesn’t mean that I don’t admire others. For example, this guitar. It has no, or very little monetary value, but I love it!” When I asked Georges about the advice he would give to young and emerging artists he told me: “Young artists have to study. I don’t believe that a young artist has to go to university. In the United States, they ask a young artist when they come to a gallery, where did they go to university. I feel that art is one of the last fields in today’s world where you don’t need a formal education but you do need education. So, although you can be self-taught, you have to read, you have to go and see, you have to try to understand. Of course, you have to understand that only very, very, few will succeed. Really succeed! And, in the meantime, there are many alternatives to being a creative and of course, I always excuse an artist for seeing something and then copying it. It does harm to oneself knowing that it is not creative but it solves a temporary monetary problem and there is an excuse to it.“ Georges’s visionary insight to realise that the most valuable commodity in the future would be free time prompted him to devote himself to the arts through early retirement. He realised this dream at the age of 48. The reward for his dedication has been the privilege to know many international collectors and artists with whom he can share his passion. “I have been lucky thanks to my parents, and then because of my activity, the cultural world. I have been lucky to meet many of the very greats of this world - great artists, collectors, conductors, violinists, pianists, and even politicians (the few interested in culture). These are the joys of being in this world.”
by Sarah Timmerman
thin girl pressed under thick sky , retching up the day each rib stood empty for something sufficient swallowed years ago something to which this great bone- -whitetenderness
portioned with sharp charcoal strokes , rationed into lines open mouth her champagne lips tilted toward an absence of space. trying to suck it in, the lack sticking in her throat could
Doubting Tom by Matthew Small
He was sat in a corner of Starbucks, minding his own business, when he heard a car backfiring on the street outside, or a gunshot made with a powerful rifle, or a small explosive device. In years past it would have been nothing more than backfire. But now, he lamented while staring down into the foamy brown mess of his skinny latte, he waited for one gunshot to be followed by another, then another, then one hundred more, and for panic to rush past the tall glass windows, shrieks of terror drowning out the day to day hum of the city. He would sit there in his corner and, distracted by a cold dread, he’d wonder what he might have done differently could he be born again. He will wait for a bullet to find him. No, it doesn’t have to be like that, he told himself. Think it through, Tom. Tom Croft hadn’t contemplated such things when he had chosen the table under the stairs. It was just where he sat, if it was not already occupied, that is. On such occasions he would sit in the opposing corner next to the toilets. In the alcove, however, and now surveying the coffee house, he saw that there were a good many tables and customers between him and the entrance. If they burst through the doors, them with the faces he cannot picture, would it be better to run or fall to the floor? Play dead? Think, Tom. He looked over his shoulder. The barista was steaming a silver jug of milk and sending a high pitch wail echoing off the walls, filling the noisy quiet trailing behind the gunshot. See, Tom, you’re very frightened today. What makes you conclude it was a gunshot? At the end of the bar a businessman was staring down at his phone checking the service on the Piccadilly Line. There was a closed door behind him, for staff. There, Tom. If they come then run in there. Got it? Got it. There was always so much to think about, and he tried to limit some thoughts like succumbing to the ghastly theatre in his mind which had him up on stage being shot in the head by a perfect stranger, a dipshit stranger who probably had a master’s degree along with a deep resentment and hatred for something of which Tom was supposedly a part, even though Tom reminded himself most days that he should try to be a part of something, the local gym or a society. Anything, really. He drank the last dregs of his coffee, wiping the foam from his lips with his sleeve. The wailing milk had stopped, the glass door closed behind the businessman, and the café returned to the normal muddle of noises; ambient indistinguishable music, overlapping voices, beeping phones, ringing phones, vibrating phones and, increasingly, crying babies or vocally bored toddlers, quickly handed babyccinos and daddy’s iPhone to placate them. There weren’t so many children in Starbucks at this hour, mind. They were instead at home being fed or the older ones doing their homework or kicking a football against a brick wall in the fading light. It was mid-autumn and the nights were closing in. Some of the kids, Tom suspected, will be hanging out in supermarket car parks across the country, smoking cheap hash before tripping over their feet on their way home to quiet houses where they will eat cornflakes out of boxes on the sofa, their heads and thoughts gloopy and heavy like mud. They’ll sit and watch Netflix, waiting for their parents to return home from work. Alone at his table under the stairs, his coffee finished, Tom Croft took his phone from his jean pocket. He wanted to see if anything new and worth watching had been added on Netflix. Outside on the street Tom buttoned his jacket against the cold. He pushed his hands into his pockets, finding an old Mars Bar wrapper in one. He kept a good pace despite the busy pavements. He’d learned a city stride and seldom looked into the eyes of the many people he passed. He sometimes wondered how he would appear to them. If he, in some way, stood out? Doubtful, Tom. Very doubtful. 27
He wasn’t so much as bad looking, simply not very good looking either. Tom had the face of a punched puppy, a little flabby in the cheeks which made it hard for others to ascertain when he was smiling. He was one of those unfortunate souls who looked sad even when happy. It was perhaps a blessing for Tom that he was so rarely light in spirit. All in all, life was like a wet dog turd. Once you stepped in it you have to keep walking until you’ve walked far enough to wipe it away, until the next wet turd you fail to see. His eyes were blue and wide, and almost always circled by shadows of tiredness. His work didn’t require him to wear a suit, just jeans—he had three pairs of the same blue jeans, all from Next—and an inoffensive, un-political, un-anything other than plain t-shirt. Tom shared a co-working space on the third floor of a building not so far from Bethnal Green. He believed it housed a brothel in the basement and a mail order catalogue service for god knows what on the first and second floors. Tom shared the third floor with six other Toms, twenty-to-thirty-something men who also wore blue jeans, canvas shoes and all spent their evenings kissing faces with their fingers as they swiped their way through Tinder, except for Charlie and Len who found their dates on Grindr. Tom had forced himself to go and meet some of the women who were a likely match, but they always seemed to deflate before his eyes as he approached the table, holding out his hand and saying their name. “Judith? Hi, I’m Tom.” “Rachel? Hi, I’m Tom.” “Miyako? Hi, I’m Tom. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He normally met them at Pizza Hut on Oxford Street, taking advantage of the all you can eat salad bar. The women normally made their excuses before their pizza crusts could be cleared. Sure, he was younger in his profile picture, perhaps a little leaner too, certainly less defeated in the eyes. But Tom wasn’t expecting fireworks, simply someone to share a stuffed crust pizza with, to drink tall glasses of Diet Pepsi, to take a night off being alone, to try and see if it was possible to feel carefree. He felt worse by the end of the evening after returning again and again to the Ice Cream Factory, filling his bowl before sitting back at his table and stuffing himself while looking at their empty chairs. It was like being punched in his bloated gut when he asked for the bill. You’re at it again, he said to himself as he waited at a crossing. The traffic was thick and moving slowly. Tom, staring fixedly up at the red light and once again rubbing shoulders with strangers, felt ashamed after jumping at the sound of a skip being filled with concrete rubble further along the street. The pedestrian light turned green and Tom Croft hurried home.
Untitled © Sophie Sheppard 2018 Photography
Get In Line
by Savannah Gerlach I arrive at your romantic stone building, ready to tell you how I feel, only to find there’s already a line of people leading up the stairs. I’m feeling bold, but I have to act quickly, so I clutch the stems of my plastic-wrapped bouquet and passive aggressively shoulder a few people out of the way to reach the elevator shaft, but the guardien knows why I’m here. He whistles at me, Madame, veuillez patienter dans la mezzanine. Vous êtes pas la seule. The others are holding large offerings: irises, peonies, jewel-toned chocolate boxes and fruit sculptures, and they turn to shoot me dirty looks as I sulk to the back of the line and crowd myself up against the door so I’m crushed every time someone new steps in out of the snow. I didn’t know you liked chocolate covered fruit. I sweat in my winter coat and it’s too crowded to take if off as I’d planned. I’ve made the wrong choice – my offering is thornless and artificially coloured and by far the least impressive. My coiled hair begins falling down and soon I’ll have completely changed shape. I count the backs of heads spiralling up the stairs. Some men, some women. Beautiful, otherwise. 6 feet tall, 4’11”, platform heels, curling moustaches, necklines like Valentines. An assorted box of lovers. I have no idea what you like though I thought I did when I dressed this morning. We move forward. Up one carpeted step. Shift to the other hip. Ascend in a circle, end up in the same place. Someone is reciting poetry under their breath, oh god. Who do these people think they are? Did they all meet you at a Christmas party like I did? Did you really mean I should drop by today or were you just being polite or were you talking to someone over my shoulder? Were you dancing with me or did I forget to feel the whole room moving to your rhythm? You made me feel like the only one, but here we all are, multiplied on every step. I’m no longer certain you’ll remember my name or that you’ll feel like chatting after refusing dozens of perfumed offerings. Or maybe you’re not turning them all away. Some of these people ahead of me are irresistible and charming. No one has made a rejected pathway coming back downstairs, but we’re all slowly entering your door and I haven’t prepared anything to say. I’m counting up all the things that rhyme with your name and too many things do but nothing sounds right. I’m not ready to plead my case. I see it now, your door. It’s a floral shrine besmirched with a rainbow of kiss marks. Your voice, delightfully surprised, greets a new guest. And then my phone trills. I let it ring. This earns me a few dirty looks but what do I care? I answer on the final ring and it’s a man’s voice. He repeats his name twice, and yes, that sounds familiar, I left him at a bar several months ago. He wants to meet me in a nearby park. Give me ten minutes, I say, no I’m not busy at all. 30
The others make a path for me as I descend, but now that someone has given up they start checking their watches and phones and maybe it’s getting a bit late. They’re considering their options. Look at it this way, there will always be you, up in your apartment adorned with stone cherubs and Aphrodites on every ceiling, your Sacré-Cœur at too great a distance. You won’t miss me. I punch the exit button on the golden keypad and jog through the snow out of your quartier of reflective cafés, stone angels, and floating terraces. I glance at my watch. I’m around the corner from the park and still holding the bouquet.
Working at Hastings by Lauren Briscoe
My butt on the counter, comic book in hand, pictures drawn on the backs of receipt papers, most of them scribbled out. In this place I can be anyone, I’m like a no one. I am the captain of a ship, manning the front of the store. Karen and Jason come, tell me stories. They are story tellers in a shop of stories. We are all entertainers— introverts, outcasts. Stories of painful pasts, shared in present humour. I’m ignoring you, because I like you. I try to get to know you, but our ending comes quickly. All stores close messy, tearing of flesh from our bones. Shit-stained bathroom walls, empty packaging under book shelves. We begin to get to know each other, finally, when pressure causes mutiny, and now, we hardly know each other at all.
Subject Matter ÂŠ Rob Miles 2016 Panel oil paintings 80 x 100 cm
The Devil’s Diary by Ryan Davies
I’m glad you have found me, dear reader. For hundreds of years I have been all alone, trapped upon this page, bound in ink and wrapped up in the cursed leather you now hold in your unlucky hands. I was once like you, a young and naïve reader, but now I am a ghost, an echo of my former self and all that remains of my spirit and my mind are these mad ramblings, written down for the doomed to read. I worry about my soul, dear reader. You keep me alive but I wonder if I only exist when I am being read. Do I cease to exist when my words lie here unread, unspoken and unthought? In order to live on, must I lead readers further into this wretched book, tearing your mind from your body until you become like me? Just another chapter in this sad, sad story. I finish reading the first paragraph and pause to think, wondering what I had just discovered. I had found this strange, ancient book whilst searching through the loft of my family home. The book was piled with a load of others, paperbacks, hardbacks, pocket sized, travel guides and encyclopaedias, but this particular one stood out from the rest. The dust that lay over it seemed thicker and was not as recently disturbed as that which covered every other item. I took the book downstairs to investigate, admiring the smooth leather cover stitched onto the front, over the spine and onto the back. I turned it over in my hands, stroking every surface. I opened it up and flicked through the reddish pages. I noticed that most of them were empty and a good portion of it was written in another language, however I found a few pages in English. Having read the first paragraph, I must conclude that the writer is a madman, rambling about losing his mind and soul to this book, yet it makes me shiver to think that he believed every word he wrote. I begin to read again. I stumbled upon this book inside a little antique shop in Brasov, Romania. The building was full of unwanted treasures, cursed items and beautiful things which quickly struck fear into the heart of anyone who dared to take a closer look. So here they remain, gathering centuries of dust. Back then I was not a superstitious man, nor was I easily frightened by the folk tales that surrounded the mutilated taxidermy, shrunken heads, demonic teeth and evil dolls. The shop was not to my taste; however this book, the one you are holding now, dear reader, attracted me to the ancient leather cover and its interesting, uneven pages. I blew the dust off its front, stroked it and pulled it open, the first person to do so in God knows how long. If there is a God. I remember feeling the book’s hunger as I held it and its sick pleasure as I rifled through its rosy pages, whispering its secrets to me. From that moment, even without reading a word, the book had a hold over me and I asked to buy it without even checking the price. “Are you certain, sir?” The shopkeeper asked me, her eyes darting fearfully between mine and this book which I clutched in my arms like a sick child. “That is the Devil’s Diary; nothing good has ever come from that thing.” She pointed at it accusingly with a long finger which was almost as crooked as her nose. “It was found in a small village not far from here after it had been dug up from an old, boneless grave. Over the next few days, twenty five of the twenty seven residents suddenly disappeared, leaving only a blind old woman and an illiterate young boy. The book was found with twenty five written accounts from the missing villagers written inside; cursing the book into which they had written for the last time.” I was foolish and bought the book anyway, dismissing the shopkeeper’s tale as superstitions embellished over time. I have seen the truth since then and I implore you, dear reader, to reconsider your position at this current time, for this moment may be the one you are forced to relive forever, like this timeless hell I am trapped in. When I think of the writer and his return to Britain and to this very house, I wonder if he was an ancestor of mine. I do worry if by reading this strange text I am getting myself into danger, exposing my mind to whatever dark secrets lie upon these pages. Surely not! I must believe this to be a work of fiction, a story written by someone with a crazy imagination and an unhealthy 34
interest in the occult. I feel ridiculous now for thinking my soul could be in trouble by reading this old book. I return once more to this strange story. When translating the twenty five horrific accounts of the Romanian villagers who had disappeared that time long ago, I was able to piece together the true history of this book and the source of this demonic hunger which we are both feeding. A few centuries earlier, the land was Transylvania, and its rule had changed hands many times, causing civil unrest and royal bloodshed. One day the King passed through the village, having heard about the remarkable skills of the local bookmaker. His books were said to be so beautifully bound that he had sold his very soul to the Devil in order to perfect the art. The King sought the man out and ordered him to create the greatest, most grand book there ever was for him to record his heroic deeds in battle and of his righteous rule over the kingdom. The bookmaker, however, had campaigned and fought against the unwanted king and refused the request. The King became so angry he imprisoned the bookmaker until he complied with his order, sending his son, the Prince, to guard him and learn his skill, for he too was drawn by the craft. In revenge, the bookmaker killed the Prince with his own sword and proceeded to make the book, chanting demonic curses he had supposedly learnt from the Devil. He drenched the pages with royal blood and bound them in the Prince’s own skin. Yes, dear reader, I shuddered too when I discovered that this lovely leathery cover is, in fact, human skin. It is to no surprise when I tell you that the King’s anger outweighed the sadness he felt over his son’s murder, so he had the bookmaker chained up and ordered the villagers to dig a grave for after his torture. However, before the King could heat up his iron pokers, the bookmaker had vanished entirely, leaving his still-locked chains in a pile upon his cell floor. He was never seen again and the King was forced to leave his son un-avenged, so the villagers took the ill-made book and buried it in the grave reserved for the missing bookmaker. Now, dear reader, you must understand what evil you now hold in your hands, what curse has befallen us and what sad fate you are now facing. My past will become your future if you carry on reading and you will soon lose yourself to these writings. I beg of you, poor reader, stop now and destroy this wicked artefact of sin. Save your mind and destroy the memory of myself and these other trapped souls and break the chain to save others from losing themselves within these blood soaked pages. I look down in shock as I realise that the whole time I have been reading, I have been unconsciously writing into the book. I try to stand up, to move my arms and let the book drop to the floor, but my muscles will not let me do so. Suddenly I understand the curse this book holds but it is too late, I am already under its spell. I can feel myself disappearing, fading from this world, forgetting my memories. All I know now is the book as it absorbs me in this endless present. I am still furiously writing as I become trapped inside the page but I feel compelled to read the last little bit of my fellow prisoner’s warning. Here I am in this hell between life and death, preserved in pages bound between tainted covers which separate us from the reality of our passing and keeps us from our eternal peace. Dear reader, I know we’ll never meet, but now I fear we’ll remain in the same space as neighbouring chapters in this collection of innocent, unlucky souls, sentenced to our paragraphed prisons. Your story is exactly the same as mine, just happening further down the line. I hope the next poor reader who discovers your story is lucky enough to avoid our fate and break the curse, though I fear you are trapped as soon as you begin reading. If you, future reader, find yourself reading these final words, then I am truly sorry.
PART 2: RESISTANCE
Refugees crossing the Mediterranean Â© Daniel Medina 2018 Digital painting
Transmutation by Claire Watt
If I take my hands and grapple with the rubble of your words the ebbs and flows of your sound waves and save the meaning that fell out of your lungs that hung there, airborne, beside my finger tips like an obdurate spider’s string to be caught If I take my hands and knead my fingers together, under and under, and over until the process is over, transmutation complete, and the kinetic energy of your mass, DNA, your ETA, held in those words, is preserved, palm-embalmed, synthetically If I unbuckle the no’s and bolts of time to produce, reproduce mechanically from the heat of my knuckles: your advice, your nerve onto a page If I take my hands and calm the bucking horse of tangibility and wrap it up with love and a shiny cherry on top and take your exhalation of CO2, that was once you the gas, which meant so much to me and by the powers vested within me, of alchemy and A-B-C, and the printers’ Inkjet-73 I clonk it together like Dorothy’s red shoes and say, there’s no one like you There’s no one like you clonk, clonk, clink, clink print, print, ink, ink turning your air to words in black Well, they were always words but they gain some form, gain tract some space, some page Some stamp of an editor’s approval, my own age If I do all this, and immortalise you 38
in a Parisian student magazine that nobody will ever read Now, does that mean that you can live? If I rub the bits of you that I have left can the magic lamp of temporality spew out a concrete, deep-seated version of you, polished to precision by an editor, yes/yet, nevertheless, a duck that will sit upon this page forever, because
not mine. Tell me, does that mean youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be there too because your your assumes a you?
Tarot card Â© Alice Helliwell 2018 Drawing
Unfortunate Truths By Mairead Randall
It was the lotus flower that caught my eye. I’ve always loved them, ever since I was a little girl. My parents owned a pond in their garden; it was awash with them. Pale pink, flushed dark at the tips, like a child’s hands in the cold. In summer, they’d attract dragonflies - vibrant sapphire jewels whipping past our ears, their delicate wings humming as they danced around the flowers. Lorena and I, we loved those dragonflies. The lotus flower on the sign before me was nothing in comparison to those that bloomed in my parent’s pond. But, pulsating, neon, garish; it was enough to make me pause. A wash of memories splashed across my mind as I remembered those flowers, and the many summers Lorena and I had spent, gazing at them as they skimmed across the water. PSYCHIC READINGS £10 & UP TAROT PALM TEA LEAVES Perhaps I was feeling particularly idle that day. Maybe I was subconsciously searching for a distraction, or a way to pass the time until I had to fetch the kids from school. Whatever the reason, I found myself tugged towards the door. I pushed through the beaded curtain, my wicker shopping bag clasped at my side. Once I was inside, it was really too late to leave. A woman with a sharp chin and fierce blue eyes stared at me from behind a desk. It would have been too awkward to just turn around and walk out, so I approached her, all bashful smiles, and told her I wanted to know my future. She spoke kindly, with an air of someone who was used to such inane requests. She told me that fortune-telling does not always mean a prediction of the future. It can simply be an insight into one’s innermost feelings. For just ten pounds, I reasoned that I could suffer hearing what she had to say. I thought I’d pick a Tarot reading. I’ve always liked the look of that when I’ve seen it in films. I paid her the ten pounds, and she led me around the desk, into a tiny room. It was rather gloomy in there; when I said this to her she laughed, but made no move to switch any lights on. She’d placed a lamp on the table but draped a thin, purple scarf over it, so even that was dim. The lack of space made it difficult to even sit down. She’d crammed the small area with all sorts of paraphernalia. I gazed around at it all as I struggled to squish into the chair, feeling out of place. Crystal balls and statues of dragons, pretend skulls and dangling gemstones. It was fascinating, but I sensed it was mostly for show. All I could think was that if I so much as moved a fraction, I’d probably send a 41
hundred trinkets flying. The psychic sat down opposite me, her slight frame moving with practised ease amongst the ornaments. She removed a packet of cards from a wooden box on the table between us and allowed them to fan out in her heavily ringed hands. They were bigger than the packs of cards I was used to. I peered at them, amazed by the intricacy of the strange pictures. There were no numbers, no suits, nothing I could familiarise myself with. She gave them to me to shuffle and asked me to pick three that I felt drawn to. I did so, laying them face down in front of me. “These represent your past, present, and future.”. Deftly, she flipped them over, three strange illustrations staring upwards, bizarre and intriguing. The Latin letters seemed worn from overuse; I wondered how many fortunes they had told, how many secrets they had revealed before now. It was as I lifted my gaze to meet the serious expression of the woman before me, that I began to feel a little foolish. Boredom, coupled with a brief wisp of nostalgia from a tacky neon sign, had momentarily obscured my sense of reason. I’d allowed a half-forgotten childhood memory to push me into spending money on an absurdity, and I berated myself for it. The cards began to drain of charm, and I shifted in my uncomfortable seat, wondering whether it would be feasible to fake an important phone call in order to leave. It’s strange that, out of all the many threads of whatever ideas the psychic found in those cards, she happened to pull on the one that would make me want to stay. “A girl,” she said softly, her thin lips curling around the word. “A comet of a girl, searing across your life while it was still finding its way.” I saw Lorena in the dark garden of my old house, bathed in the moonlight, her fingertips extended to the sky - skimming the stars. The psychic’s hand hovered over the central card; a woman stared up from within, her eyes lidded with a heavy sadness. Regina Batons, the card read. “The Queen of Batons,” the psychic translated. “Does my description bring anyone to mind?” I shook my head, lips pressed together. I pictured the waft of corn-golden hair falling across Lorena’s bare back. The psychic said nothing, but her eyes were loaded with disbelief. “Quod Amans,” she read, focused on the next card. “The Lover.” My cheeks burned. A light trickle of fingers passed over my skin, raising goosebumps in their wake. As I lifted my eyes to the woman in front of me, I saw the unmistakable flash of warm, chocolate-brown. I blinked, and they were sharp blue again, the steel of them cutting into my skin. “My husband, I imagine.”
The psychic narrowed her eyes. “I do not see a man in these cards.” “What is that supposed to mean?” The psychic didn’t respond; she moved her hand to the final card, the one on the far right, and I leaned back in my seat, heart thumping. I realised that I had become vexed with this woman, presuming to know everything about me from some picture cards she’s drawn from a dusty box in a back room. She could not begin to comprehend the intricacies of my relationship with my husband, nor did she have the right to cast her silent judgement over me. I tried to remain calm, to tell myself that there was no need to anger myself over a cheap parlour trick. Still, my palms dampened, and my fingers curled into fists. “The final card is Diabolus,” she told me slowly, her hand drifting across to it. “The Devil. A dangerous love affair. Tumultuous, bringing distress and heartache.” “I’ve never had such a thing. My husband was my first relationship. He’s always been faithful, as have I. We’ve been together since we were eighteen.” I paused. “I think the cards are mistaken.” “If you choose to believe in the Tarot, then they never are.” A light, trickling laugh sounded by my ear. I’d have known the sound of it anywhere. I closed my eyes for only a moment, but it was enough for the flash of a girl in a blue summer dress to propel itself across the void I saw behind my lids, her arms flung through the dewy, chartreuse grass. “I’m not sure what you’re implying,” I said, feeling my voice grow stern. “A mysterious woman, a sordid affair... I’m happily married.” “Would you like to pick three more cards?” The question threw me, and I hesitated. I tried to study the face in front of me, to pick out the intentions behind the blank, passive expression. “Will it cost another ten pounds?” The corner of her mouth twitched. “Free of charge.” After a moment of deliberation, I decided that there was no harm. I nodded, and she swept up the three upturned cards in one, easy glide of her hand. I shuffled and picked three more. Still, they revealed nothing to me, but my heart began to thump now, frightened of what they might be whispering to this stranger. One of the cards was upside-down; I reached to turn it around, but the psychic stopped me, resting her hand lightly atop mine. “You mustn’t interfere,” she told me. “Inverted cards have different meanings.” 43
Chastened, I retracted my hand, and stared at the card, able to make out the form of a woman. “The Queen of Cups, when reversed, is an indication of unobtainable love,” the psychic explained. “She is in the arms of another, as are you. See here, on the right, Pocula Miles. The Knight of Cups. You are caught between them.” I stared at her, speechless. “Caught between who?” “A woman you love, and a man you wish you could.” Fury, hot and stinging with mortification, whipped through my veins. I glared at her, wanting to sweep the cards off the table, or throw the whole pack at her. “If you are trying to claim that I don’t love my husband-” “The cards speak for themselves,” she said calmly, unfazed by my hostility. “You are applying your own situations to them. I am simply an interpreter.” As difficult as the words were to hear, I could see that there was some truth to them. “What’s the middle card?” It unnerved me, knowing that her mind was working to solve some riddle I could not begin to grasp the parameters of. “The Ace of Swords,” she read out. “A decision lingering in your path.” There seemed to be a thousand more details hidden in the whirlpools of her irises, but she said nothing more. Perhaps it was the specific way the hair was drawn on the Queen of Cups, or maybe it was the crease in the cheek of the Knight. They resembled, in that moment, the characters I had given them in my mind, and I faltered. Lorena slipped into my mind as if she had never left it. I could picture her as easily as if she were still sat before me. The real her, with laughter lines, etched into the corners of her eyes, and teeth lightly yellowed from the cigarettes she smoked now. She had, of course, aged. She had settled into her later years with an admirable ease, seeming to welcome the ravages of time with an amicable embrace. “We should have run away,” she’d told me, as we dined beside the river, our food rich and our wine sour. “Back then, when we were still young and stupid.” “Where would we have gone?” A faint smile graced her gossamer lips. I had to tear my eyes from them; the memory of their touch was too invasive as it was.
“Oh, that wouldn’t have mattered,” Lorena said. I landed, suddenly, back in that dark, cluttered room, jarred by the sudden tsunami of emotion that forced its way up my throat. That evening spent with her - the last evening - had haunted me long after it became a memory. Lorena’s words, spoken into the candlelight between us that night, seemed to catch on some long dormant ember, deeply buried in my chest. It blew on the sparks of something that had almost flamed into existence, back at the brink of pubescence, when she and I were young, and light, and full of a love we couldn’t comprehend. Run away, she’d said, as if it would have been that simple. A thin perfume of wistful nostalgia coated her words, rendering them hopeless. “Thank you for your time,” I said to the psychic, my voice a husk of itself. “I must be getting back now.” She watched me stand, with some difficulty, rising from the chair whilst attempting not to knock anything over. In the balmy darkness, after the sun had set in our back garden, I would thread my fingers through Lorena’s hair; the whites of her eyes would become iridescent in the moonlight. Sometimes, in the twilight, fireflies would emerge. They’d catch on her skin, weave themselves between her fingers. “I think I’ve already made a decision.” The psychic nodded. “I hope, for your sake, that it’s the right one.” Before ducking out, I turned back one last time. “I love my husband,” I said, loading my voice with a conviction I did not trust. “We have a life. One that I am very lucky to have. I don’t intend to destabilise my family over some… years old fancy.” “Persistence is an admirable trait,” the psychic replied, gathering up the deck at last. I stared at her, watching as she shuffled, straightened, and put away the cards. She seemed to have forgotten I was there. Without a response, I eventually found the strength to turn from her, and pushed my way back outside.
Internal Persistence By Leela Chantrelle
What isn’t a part of my vagina? Even my stomach melts into it, my feet drown in it, my fingers dig into myself to find an ending. I once finished a Sentence, I once went to the doctor to see if I was a Woman, to see how things were going down there. Whatever the test results, it’s always disappointment. I identify with an off switch a little too closely to question why I cannot call it an on switch. What is eating feminine about the letter X that we have two of them?
the body? What is so
Why we accepting our emptiness as fact? Crevice is a really gross word to describe vulnerability, who wants their core to sound like a crustacean. I love the ocean too much to question why. Dear, I’m barely accepting what’s in this body these days. Blame my insides For the ocean’s end. I sought death and found it in my womb. There’s no such thing as an oxymoron within the body, there’s only misidentified body parts.
Untitled © Katherine Petridou 2018 Photography
Protesting in the Age of Social Media by Rachel Poxon
“Protests never work, what’s the point?” I hear this question asked a lot, and have myself fallen victim to this pessimistic view of protesting. In the midst of what could be considered an over-saturation of public demonstrations, it is difficult to keep track of every protest, march, or online petition I should be taking part in. After all, our lives are busy enough as it is without the pressure of conforming to the political branding we assign ourselves through our choice of social media posts. But is there any point to our online political endeavours, or are we simply aligning ourselves with the most popular movement in order to seem cultured and engaged? In recent years, political activists seem to have taken to social media the way that they have previously taken to the streets. Although street protests still occur, arguably more than ever, the success of their political agenda appears to be linked with their online popularity. Some protests, such as the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter campaigns, rely almost entirely on social media for their expansion and success. The positive effects of campaigning online in a society saturated in social media needs little explanation; their message reaches more people and unites supporters globally in a way that street protests alone cannot. However, the drawbacks of online protesting can be detrimental to a political movement. Thanks to live-streams and news feeds, we have grown accustomed to the instant gratification of accessing information about events as they occur in real-time. Long gone are the days of waiting for the news networks to publish articles on an event the following day. Most news network apps nowadays feature an endless scroll format, making it virtually impossible to keep track of events that are of personal importance to the reader. With the constant coverage of events occurring across the globe, the top news stories are forced down the page and out of sight within a few hours. If we were to rely entirely on the mainstream media and news networks to dictate the importance of a protest, they would soon be reduced to nothing more than a trending hashtag, outdated and historicised by the refreshing of a news feed. A major flaw in the online popularisation of political movements emerges when journalists use the same language to describe protests as bloggers use to describe this season’s hottest accessory. This tendency to trivialise protests has been an uphill struggle for political movements for a number of years, exemplified by an article published by The Atlantic in April 2014, titled ‘Why Street Protests Don’t Work’. The first line of this article reads ‘Street protests are in’, immediately solidifying the writer’s position on street protests as nothing more than a trend and encouraging their readers to believe the same. In addition to questionably worded articles, protests have also been appropriated by large corporations as a marketing tactic. The most prominent example of this in recent years is the infamous Kendall Jenner Pepsi advert. For those of you who missed this scandal, the advert begins by depicting a crowd of people taking to the streets carrying signs decorated with slogans that read ‘Join the Conversation’ and the nuclear disarmament symbol. Along the way, seemingly enraged Pepsi-drinking creatives (photographers, musicians, dancers, and Kendall Jenner) join the street protest. The advert recreates scenes from many famous images of real protests throughout history; from the nuclear disarmament protests of the 70s, to the famous ‘Flower Child’ image from the Anti-Vietnam march on the Pentagon in 1967. In the ‘Flower Child’ image, a young woman, Rose Kasmir, presents a flower to a line of National Guardsmen who are poised with bayonets toward the protester. In the final scene of the Pepsi ad, Kendall Jenner replaces Kasmir by presenting a can of Pepsi to a line of armed police, resolving the conflict and all issues it represents. Not only does this kind of appropriation reduce the political struggle and police brutality associated with real protests throughout history to mere iconography, but it also exemplifies and perpetuates the view of protests as trivial and inconsequential. There’s no need for protesting or political activism when we can simply hand our oppressors a can of Pepsi and resolve all issues.
4 Waves of Feminism ÂŠ Daniel Medina 2018 Digital art
With the press drawing focus on protesting as a trend, alongside the glorification and misappropriation of political movements by social media and big corporations, it is easy to understand people’s lack of confidence in protesting as an effective form of activism. Often our online encounters with political movements come in the form of impressive images on Instagram or Facebook. While these platforms can be a useful tool to view uncensored images of protests seen from the viewpoint of a protester rather than through the eyes of a journalist, they also run the risk of remaining a distant image that is difficult to engage with. Street protests in particular are depicted as incredible shows of human spirit and determination, but are often reduced to mere spectacles by the mainstream media, offered up to us in bite-size pieces that we can enjoy from the comfort of our own homes. This ease of access often breeds apathy amongst people who may have been otherwise engaged with a political movement. After all, why travel to a protest when we can show our support through a carefully crafted status? We have the opportunity to use social media to align ourselves with particular political movements without moving off the sofa. Although this comfortable engagement with political activism allows for a wider support network of like-minded individuals, it also attracts widespread criticism and mockery from adversaries. This double edged sword is both inevitable and important in any political movement - it allows the voices of the people to be heard and contested, and most importantly allows people to ‘Join the Conversation’ of politics. The #MeToo campaign is an excellent example of when social media facilitates the success of a political movement. For as long as there has been Hollywood, there has been a patriarchal sovereignty over female actresses; a clear gender hierarchy. Many women have attempted to overcome these gender biases to no avail, including a recent incident in which actress Rose McGowan spoke out about sexual harassment within the industry and was subsequently blocked from Twitter, silencing her online voice. She had previously made allegations against Harvey Weinstein in the ‘90s, but was silenced with a large payout from the producer. Only after enough women in the industry had come forward with similar stories of sexual assault and harassment was any action taken. Shortly after multiple allegations were made, the #MeToo campaign rapidly gained popularity online and heavily influenced the firing of Weinstein and many other powerful male aggressors in the industry. The apparent immediacy of action taken in response to the #MeToo campaign was astonishing, but the sexual aggression and manipulation displayed by people in positions of power is an ongoing battle that began long before it became a trending hashtag and hit the headlines. Even with the success of this campaign within Hollywood, its wider influence is still questioned. We can only hope that this campaign continues to grow and develop, affecting wider societal change and not be limited to the temporary triumph of female Hollywood A-listers. The Black Lives Matter campaign (BLM) is another example of how social media has been effective in influencing political and social change. Originally starting as a hashtag in 2013, #BlackLivesMatter has continued to gain widespread support on and offline following the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. The online campaign was soon taken to the streets by supporters; its first march was held in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown. The online popularity of the original #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has ensured the rapid growth and expansion of the movement as a whole and has created a community that unites supporters and victims across the globe. Without the use of Twitter and other social media apps, this movement may have been localised to Florida in 2013, and may not have been heard about globally or considered an international issue. However, social media provides us with a platform on which our voices can be shared and heard around the world, contested and opposed. It provides a space for an open dialogue about social and political issues away from the bias of news outlets. Although protests may not initially appear to affect immediate change, their publicity and presence both on and offline continues to challenge social ideals and opinions, and has successfully engaged thousands of individuals in political activism of some form. Public opinion is arguably the most difficult thing to influence, and so with every hashtag, tweet, status, or article discussing a particular movement, the conversation about political issues is being normalised and opinions are being challenged. The key is to persist.
We struggle for our future © Thomas Dutcher 2018 Photograph
by Billie Stubley A couple of weeks ago, I read a story A story of a woman fighting for truth and justice For truth and justice in the bleak environment Of the American senate This story moved me and reminded of me Of the others who fought before her Before the Romans took over the city in which We sip our pints and dive into these words One woman stood against them. She saved herself and her daughters from rape and abuse After her husband died, she led the Celts With fiery red passion and blue inked skin Even on her final day, she fought gallantly with poison Racing through her. Nevertheless, she persisted. Three women sit in the reading nook of a moorside parsonage They read, they write, they explore each other’s imaginations On pocket books the size of credit cards They create magical worlds and far fetching lives They wrote full novels together But they have less chance of being noticed than Their gambling, black sheep of a brother So they change their names But nevertheless, they persisted. At the turn of the century, women were fighting for change Suffrage was bubbling up from the factory floor through The upper-class heights. One woman fought alongside us. She was of regal blood, her father’s land taken by the British Raj. This princess turned to a suffragette rock star. So much so the king said: “Have we no hold on her?” Nevertheless, she persisted. A one-woman creative hurricane is born in Mexico Her life starts La Caza Azul Followed by polio and dreams of being a doctor, of help 52
Those dreams ended with a bus crash and a brittle body Bed ridden, she lived dying. She left that bed through Self-portraits and surrealist worlds. She fell deeply for a man who was married twice over But she loved him. Through a life of affairs and bodacious breaking more and more each day So much so she was carried on her bed to galleries But nevertheless, she persisted. She was born, not who she was told she was. She attempted to leave this fight because she didn’t think she was that Act like society told her someone with her body was supposed to act She was born a man, but she was always a woman. She is a righter, a dancer, an actress and an advocate. When she got her break out role as one of Litchfield’s finest She was still doing drag on the Lower East Side But now she’s breaking records and paving the way And Nevertheless, she has always persisted. A young girl sits in one of the safest places any child can be A school She sits and she learns while a few minutes away She would become the bravest person I could think of She stood for hers and every other girl’s right to an education She battled for this with her life She was to survive and thrive to be the voice we need today Because she persisted. She tells me she can’t take it, she doesn’t know what to do She says she can’t stop feeling this way I see her struggle, I watch her fight her inner war I know with every fibre of her being she is trying She needs to know that I believe in her, I know She isn’t done, she is not stuck. She needs to know that I am so proud Of how she is trying to be better and go further She needs to know I am so proud Because she is persisting. She stood, in the senate, stared at by mainly male eyes She stood in an uncertain time with a monster Newly in the highest seat of power She stood and spoke out against a fellow senator 53
She was silenced but she continued. And well Let me quote the minutes She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted. Elizabeth Warren. Everyone here. Please continue to persist.
Snow or shine ÂŠ Eliza Burmistre 2018 Photographs superimposed
Nevertheless, We Persisted by Eliza Burmistre
Every revolution starts with a spark – embers of unrest set alight by corrupt hands, kindled with catchy poster boards and rage fuelled by political inaction. Freedom and peace demanded by students, the working class, steadfastly standing for the common-sense rights: to live and love. Their cries ignored, the problems continue – a catch 22 etched in history books. Men in suits on podiums saying they know better, telling the masses what to think, what is real or fake, slogans of prosperity to make us “great again”; confetti lies met with an iron will. Generations pass the mantle of caring about causes – adding amendments to the demands written 50 years ago. Children worrying, adults taking away their right to live; “thoughts and prayers” do not cut it when we need action. So, we wait. Inhabit limbo between tragedy and falling apart, before anything at all happens. No one knows which way things are going to go, but we keep going anyway. Tweeting the modern rebellion, typing emails into petitions – small actions better than none, we band together, crowds demanding justice, the first sparks of a worldwide movement, our measured expressions conceal the thunder we are bringing.
Untitled © Sophie Sheppard 2018 Photograph
Back to the Drawing Board by Danielle Ureta-Spontak
Back to the drawing board– emotions gone wrong caused by parents who longed to feed their greedy needs– I learned how hard it is to play God– I sent it to agents, my contagion of impatience spreading, unsettling– feeling like a prostitute selling– words, stories, chagrin seeping in– take my submission, receive the transmission: my contritions for being human, they’re all I have, since I cut out my tongue for this craft. Back to the drawing board– people are contradictions, walking oxymorons, somehow unsurprised with their own existence. My back’s to the drawing board, pinned against emerging stories screaming to come into being– cross-eyed woman walking doped up on dopamine inducing drugs, I hear her sigh and I can read your face but I don’t know why it looks that way– What is the beginning? What is the end? Why is it you do what you do going from point 1 to point 2? 58
They tell me I think differently and I don’t know what to do! How do you create people who aren’t you? I see me in you and you in me, tell me, why do we think so differently but connect at light speed? The idea that’s inside, the glimmering thing behind your eyes encased in calcium, carbon, and dihydrogen monoxide. Every story ever written is an existential cry. Figure. Out. The Why.
Coward’s Hiss by Zoheb Mashuir
If you hear the scream that claws red out of my throat You will find me. With nostrils flared You will hunt this terrified, adrenaline-sweat body and with the rope, the baton and the butt of the gun destroy all that makes me. So I must bar the way for this scream Lock the door, clench these coward’s teeth This honest tiger roar becomes an impotent snake hiss Through the gaps between. And though I fear what will be And doubt what I am And none but I can hear this voice – Tiny in halls that rung once with titan howls Weak when your fists that pummel children are strong – My silence would sink like an anchor Into the red of my heart. I would choke in my dusty throat. Coward, I may be. Exile, I may be. A snake in the shadow of the tiger I may be. But I will hiss through these teeth Those things you fear from me. I will hiss until you find me out. And on that last day Before you silence me With your strength, your cowardly force I will roar. You shall hear me.
Men 1 Women 0 © Lora Aziz 2018 Watercolour on paper
PART 3: RESOLVE
Make America Great Again Â© Thomas Dutcher 2018 Photograph
by Cole Wilson Observe another curtain rise and fall, réagissez! it says, but you dismiss the day and lose a staring contest with the wall. No path compels the spirit to persist, immersed in atmospheric wrath, désœuvrement. in tandem, pain and nothing coexist. Diurnal voices echo, slip away, you snort their words, like coke, to cope, to feel the burn, but choke upon their hollow résistez. Hang up the phone and fight off the withdrawal alone; remember to retain courage while you observe another curtain rise and fall.
Reflections on Paris, © Alice Helliwell 2018 Photography
Back to the Drawing Board By Olivia Toulmin
LOCAL ARTISTS, ALICE GAUTHIER AND ROB MILES, MAKE A FRESH START WITH A NEW EXHIBITION AND A NEW HOME FOR THE CROCOLITHO STUDIO. Fresh from the Vernissage of their latest exhibition ‘Back to the Drawing Board’ at Reid Hall, I meet with Paris artists Alice Gauthier and Rob Miles in their new studio just outside of the city. The studio as it stands is a work in progress. Starting entirely from scratch, Rob and Alice have been hard at work since their arrival in January making the room fit for purpose and building all the equipment they should need. Unpacked boxes and bags are placed around the room and of course, the all-important lithography machine of the Crocolitho studio stands half-built next to us while we talk. This new studio is not just the result of Rob and Alice’s labour, but of months of searching for just the right space. After two years at Les Grands Voisins, a disused hospital turned cultural hub in the 14th Arrondissement, the time came for the artists to move on as parts of the building were to be knocked down to make way for new apartments. They tell me moving studios is a common challenge for professional artists, but it seems to be a challenge they have risen to. “We knew it was temporary”, comments Rob, “so we built it to work but not the sort of fine detail.” Rather than a carefully built desk complete with functioning drawers that Rob proudly shows me in the corner of the room, the artists improvised a desk in Les Grands Voisins by laying a door flat across a table. Hoping to stay longer in this studio, the two artists are making themselves at home in a new space that is entirely theirs: “It’s a dream to be able to make every single decision in the studio,” Alice says, “it’s a chance”. Before making Paris their home, the two artists studied printmaking at the Royal College of Art in London and it is there that the pair first met and became fascinated with the process of lithography, where an image created on a stone is reproduced onto the page using a mix of water and inks on a printing press. Whilst Rob completed the final year of the programme in London, Alice travelled to Albuquerque, New Mexico to study a year-long technical training course in lithography. Such an in-depth study of the printing process is unusual as printmaking would often be the role of a technician reproducing other artists’ work rather than the artist themselves. Alice even spent two years when they first arrived in Paris helping other artists to print their drawings, but after this time, she decided to focus on her own work. Having their own press and the skills to use it is what gives Rob and Alice the independence to create their images themselves and their experimental use of the materials makes their work truly unique. “We want to use the lithographic mark as a painting tool” says Rob; rather than just replicating a drawing, the studio of Crocolitho creates new and interesting images by using the printing process itself as a way of drawing. Once Rob had finished in London and Alice in New Mexico, they chose Alice’s home city of Paris to set up their studio. They considered it a good time to swap positions; for Rob to now be a foreigner in Alice’s language. He remembers the move to France as a very “humbling” experience: “In art school you’re used to talking extensively about your work and there’s this kind of confidence that you have of being able to say what you’re doing and suddenly you don’t have any of that and I found that quite nice in a way. I found it quite relaxing and beneficial because it meant I could not concentrate on explaining it and just had to do it by doing it, rather than talking about it.” Now in a new city with a new language, the work had to speak for itself. Alice remembers a similar experience, admitting to being “tired of speaking about it” after finishing her undergraduate degree in Strasbourg. “I don’t want to call it a language barrier” she says, the challenge of moving to London and saying only “the minimum, maybe the focus point” in English, Alice considered to be “a good exercise to summarise” what she was trying to achieve.
Hungry Dogs Eat Dirty Pudding ÂŠ Rob Miles 2016 Stone lithograph 40 x 60 cm
Natural History ÂŠ Rob Miles 2016 Stone lithograph 40 x 60 cm
[Above] Live drawings projections during the opening night ÂŠ Alice Gauthier 2018 Photography
[Below] Sketchbooks of Alice, at Back to the drawing board show in February ÂŠ Alice Gauthier 2018 Photography
Fittingly named ‘Back to the Drawing Board’ whilst they are in the process of building their studio, Rob and Alice demonstrate a return to beginnings in their new exhibition, be that the beginning of an artistic process, of ideas themselves or of life experiences. In the show, Alice exhibits a number of sketchbooks filled with drawings not ordinarily put on display: “It’s nice to think that I don’t make them to show them” she says, noting how some drawings would be developed further into other ideas and others might stay hidden in the pages. The drawings displayed range from images illuminated by light and shadow to others coloured with vibrant inks. When choosing which ones to show, Alice says she looked for “variety” and drawings that she particularly remembered making: “Sometimes you have strange ideas, it’s small but it marks you”. Alongside these, Rob exhibits paintings from a series titled ‘Subject Matters’ that he created when he first came to Paris. The paintings feature simplified and abstract forms that Rob refers to as kinds of “hieroglyphic” figures, a visual language that aims to communicate fragments of ideas that hold the possibility of being explored further. The figure of the crocodile can be spotted in one of these paintings, reminiscent of the crocodile in Les Jardins des Plantes that Rob would visit and write letters to when he first arrived in Paris. This writing project would reconnect him with English conversation to inspire his other passion: songwriting. His “muse”, as he calls it, would also become the inspiration for the studio name, Crocolitho. At the Vernissage of their show, the artists bring their process front of stage with a set of live drawings. They show that art is not just something to be viewed whole and completed, but something that can be performed. The two demonstrate their talents as both artists and musicians, taking turns to create images projected onto the wall by an overhead projector musically accompanied by the other, Alice playing the clarinet and Rob singing and playing the guitar. Although the drawings they tell me are a product of “half being prepared and half experimentation”, the addition of music perfectly suits the movement of the drawings, creating a sense of rhythm and careful choreography. Rob muses on the “magic” of the overhead projector, a technology that is nostalgic now in an age of smartphones, as the projection of light and shadow is happening live in front of you. Up on the wall, guests could see the shadow of Rob’s hands moving across the page, the drawing seemingly appearing from underneath the silhouette as he draws. The final image is created from a mix of his drawings and cut-out shapes, and with a quick glance and a “voilà”, he wipes it away: “I didn’t really even look at what I did”, he says, “I thought that’s nice to make a drawing and not have the preciousness of going, oh I must keep that!” Back to the drawing board, the stage is cleared for Alice’s drawing, which features an outline of two faces in profile. As Rob sings, Alice fills the outline by dropping coloured ink into water: the ink travels across the picture, changing colour as it moves, overflowing from the outline of one face into the other. The movement is mesmerising and is as vibrant as the pictures displayed in some of her sketchbooks. “It’s quite close to the way I can draw”, she comments, “I would leave quite a big amount of water and the ink drying flat on the drawing and come back the next day and see what happens”. Like the spontaneous movement of the water, Alice refers to her approach to artwork as “improvisational”. When making a lithograph she describes making the drawing on the stone and printing the first layer without knowing what is to come next. Rob on the other hand is quite the opposite and is very methodical. “I construct an image from start to finish” he tells me, always knowing what he plans to execute in each layer of the lithograph. Their approaches to music are much the same when they perform in the band ‘Rob Miles et les Clés Anglaises’. As the guitarist and singer/songwriter of the group, Rob constructs the song as carefully as he would a lithograph. With Alice playing the clarinet, Rob observes that “Alice has parts but there are things that will change every concert”: she is as improvisational in her music as she is in her drawing. Although Rob and Alice have a very different way of working individually, their collaborative prints demonstrate their teamwork: “I haven’t really worked with many other people that I can do a drawing on the same piece of paper with other than Alice” comments Rob. That being said, it is not often that the two artists collaborate on one piece of work, but rather work alongside each other in the studio on their own projects. Their main collaboration comes in the shape of how they help each other with both the physically exhausting process of printmaking, which can involve a lot of heavy materials, but also in how they support 69
each other when moments of doubt creep in. Alice tells me that “In my studio I don’t even know if I’m going to show what I’m doing… it’s quite hard, I find it quite hard to be sure” and in these self-questioning moments, Rob agrees that it is valuable to have “Someone who knows you and who knows what you’re trying to do, say, I think it’s good keep going. It’s something we both appreciate, that we try and keep hold of”. For now, the creation of new artworks from Rob and Alice is on pause as they focus on building their studio. “We do everything we can to afford this studio and to feel good in it”, Alice says, “We need to make it good so at the moment this is a priority.” They aim to finish the building work in the next few months where they plan to welcome visitors and of course, to start work on new projects. By going back to the drawing board, Rob and Alice give themselves the best possible chance to move forward in a direction that is entirely their own.
Sous l’eau © Alice Gauthier 2017 stone lithograph 30 x 40 cm
Portrait of Eddy Â© Alice Helliwell 2018 Painting
Review - The End of Eddy by Alice Helliwell
The End of Eddy is “courageous, necessary and deeply touching” according to the Guardian. In fact, the autobiographical novel is widely acclaimed; few people have a critical word to say on France’s new golden boy. It is undeniable that Louis is a highly intelligent and engaging individual, who speaks eloquently and with passion on political and social issues, as I discovered when I attended “a conversation with Eduoard Louis” at the Mona Bismarck Centre in Paris. However, I feel that Louis has failed to be truly challenged on some problematic elements on his debut, The End of Eddy; issues around the treatment of women, the ambiguity in the proportion of the book that is autobiographical vs. fiction, and the upper-class following that Louis has garnered, given his treatment of the working-classes. Disgust is a recurring theme within the book; the disgust described in Part I is focused on the lives of Eddy’s family and the working-class people of the town where he grew up. Instead of inspiring pity for young Eddy it instead creates a plethora of unsympathetic characters and feelings of disgust. The words “repulsive”, “foul” and “disgust” are repeated over and over; if Louis feels disgusted at the lives of the working classes, it is hard for us as readers to see them as those that need our help, despite their harsh conditions. In speaking about his work, Louis states that he expected people to feel sorry for him, and was surprised when they did not; he shows some understanding, but little empathy for others in his story. His father, siblings, and mother are given the odd reprieve but are mostly lambasted, as though he comprehends why they were the way they were, but couldn’t help blaming them anyway. Perhaps this is why The End of Eddy has been so adopted by the bourgeois circles that frequent his readings, and less by the queer community (at least, this is how attending his talk felt to a young queer woman). They revel in the idea that they are better than the working classes after all; whilst contemplating what can be done to help these poor people, they enjoy the affirmation of a violent, racist, lazy, alcoholic, dirty working class. They have accepted into their ranks this young white gay man, so rejected by his own upbringing, and they pat themselves on the back for being tolerant without making real moves to improve anything. Whilst it is refreshing that the struggles of a young, queer person are being listened to, is the experience of being bullied as a LGBTQ+ person whilst growing up unique in any way? No. The unique factor may be the upward mobility of the protagonist; however, we need to remember that the author did not magically become a best-selling author, and that this is the missing part of the story. How exactly did this young, working class gay man come to be a widely recognised author giving talks to Ivy League Alumni in Paris? This part of his story would be an equally fascinating insight; perhaps into the privileges of the white male in today’s left-wing circles. Maleness is a large element of the novel, in fact. Not only are the women given a unfair treatment in the text (a chapter dedicated to describing his mother ends with an affirmation of his father’s penis size), but in the depiction of queer sexuality women are reduced mostly to a body; a female body, and the rejection of female physicality. The use of horrific imagery to describe women’s bodies is something that comes up repeatedly in conversations and writings by gay men, however this massively alienates women - LGBTQ+ women included. Describing a woman’s breasts as “abnormal growths, masses filled with pus” doesn’t cease to be misogynistic because it comes from the mind of a young gay man. It is possible to affirm your queer identity without the denigration of women, despite what many gay men seem to think. As a queer woman, I don’t appreciate feeling the excitement of attending a LGBTQ+ event and leaving feeling that it was not a space where I was welcome; furthermore, reading the novel prompted to me to find repeated mentions of repulsion and 73
the female body and poor depictions of women who ultimately have a narrower and more abusive future than the men in the novel. The book touches on race and sexuality, yet its progressiveness fails women. Louis talks with authority for example on the struggles of black women in America, mentioning his encounter with Toni Morrison and his affinity with her work; yet he misses some nuance in the distinct struggle of ethnic minorities and women, simply equating these experiences with his own. While he acknowledges that his is a white, gay man, he fails to see the impact of being a different kind of queer, a different race, or a different gender, on a person’s experiences in society. Another large issue with this book is its lack of clarity on how much is based on true events; when speaking about his work, Louis states that he feels like he “has no time for fiction”, particularly relating this to his youth in working class family; however, the book is marketed as a “best-selling novel… inspired by the author’s own [childhood]”.* So, this begs the question, how much is truth and how much is fantasy? Is this just embellished reality or total fabrication? This lingering question removes some of the power of the story; and I think perhaps this adds to the feeling of unsympathetic characters who fail to seem truly three-dimensional. The redeeming feature of the novel was the slow discovery of queer sexuality, and the shift of the protagonist from someone who is labelled and shamed by others to someone who begins to own their identity. These moments, whilst brief, are considerably more successful in capturing realness; they feel genuine and exhilarating in all their un-glamorousness. I just wish that it went a step further towards self-awareness. Despite my issues with the text, I do think that Louis’ work is important, as it is still rare that the voice of queer youth is given a platform in our society, and I look forward to reading the translation of his second novel A History of Violence, due for release Summer 2018, which I hope will provide insight into the adult life and development of Louis’ character and promote further important political debate. *Taken from the back cover of the English edition. It is worth noting that this is a translation from the original French; there is nuance in the application of colloquial French that is lost in translation, much as it would be for example in translating a novel by Irvine Welsh without the Scottish dialect in-tact. If one is able to read with fluency the original French edition there may be more subtlety revealed in the words, that I have been unable to access.
Untitled © Lora Aziz 2018 Watercolour on paper
By Danielle Ureta-Spontak Dear Frost, These cells are swiftly moving in every direction doing the only thing they know how to do: persist. Floating globules of blue and green soaring over skin, making their way over the valleys of fingerprints, sun-kissed scars, and blemishes that make the giants bashful. To them, the landscape of flesh is the most succulent, and so beautiful that they must feast upon it. It is the only thing they know how to do since sex is out of the question. They colonise the tissues, systems far more intricate than their own simple makeup. It is in their programming to conquer the erratic environment. Chemicals are released like lacy lingerie to break down the walls of such complex structures, delicately dissolving them to a digestible black. The holes they leave behind grow larger and larger as the meaty surface is consumed. It is divine, this flavour, filled with proteins and memories of touch. The cells thrive and multiply, peaking like teenagers discovering their lives. The possibilities are endless. The cells keep pressing forward and lowering the pressure, gliding past defences laid down millions of years ago. It is a battle between the elders and the evolved. The cells slip in and out of life’s adaptations, outmanoeuvring the body’s obstacles. They are unaware of the big picture. They are oblivious to their own effects. Each as unique as the next, working together because they too, want to live forever. There is a woman lying awake in a small hospital trying to centre herself as best she can. Her wide eyes are forced open, her mind is spinning rapidly, as if she can purge the fear through sight of the real. A deer in headlights, more common in sterile, syringed rooms than on a dark road facing an accelerating beast. What she sees in the vicious light are moments imbued with loss she never knew existed. She didn’t know what she had to lose until now. Her eyes are awake with the anguish that they may never open again if she shuts them for a second too long. She didn’t do so many things, the list hurts. The doctors inform her this infection claims the lives of over half of those infected. The odds are not in her favour. She stares at the disturbing part of her body now blistering and swelling, unable to hold itself together. It looks unrecognisable from even a few days ago. The mangled limb looks alien to her, and this foreign flesh-eating entity wants even more. She never fathomed that her body was a territory she could lose. The woman’s hands grip the bed to hold on, to fight through this night and the next and the next until she has won, until she comes out alive. She refuses to be eaten from the inside out. I do not know who will win. Sincerely, Snowflake P.S. You got it wrong, Frost, on your walk down the road less travelled by. Life goes on, but it persists too.
Untitled © Elena Amoros 2018 35mm analog photographies
by Gabriella Domenica I never invited you in my skin my space my memories Yet here you are breaking into my sleep branded onto my soul burning into my brain I’ll wear my hair down I’ll hold my head down I’ll keep my hands down but inside beats a resilient heart in my mind blooms a brand new start I’m not entirely broken, just a part
Untitled © Elena Amoros 2018 35mm analog photographies
for every wanting, wandering child, to feed them life.
by Dante Wilcox
I sat by the oldest man I could find, and asked him to show me.
The hills were full of pleasure – trees, weighed down by fruit, dripping, and families, sitting by the trunks, with hands outstretched to the bitter branches. I stood up by the mountain apple and as I looked, I saw, further up the slope, a more luscious tree, than any my eye has since beheld. But, my Lord was not in its fruit; it was fed by the rivers of the plains, a tree fattened off man’s strife. The fruit was neither rotten nor full of poison; it was good for food and tasted like heaven, for God himself had left it there long ago, abandoned and aged. For a moment, the fruit brought pleasure, but I saw further peaks, spread to every horizon, on each stood a tree of perfect pecans or immaculate oranges, each as enticing as the last. Then I knew, the vanity of climbing mountains only to taste fruit. I found a road down to a small town, wondering what it is like to be a fisher of men and to care for an orchard that will not wither in the rays of the sun, but would fruit in season 80
Souterrain © Joe J Robinson 2018 Digital montage
Contributors Katie Allen Elena Amoros Lora Aziz Lauren Briscoe Eliza Burmistre Leela Chantrelle Heather Cripps Ryan Davies Gabriella Domenica Alice Gauthier Savannah Gerlach Alice Helliwell Charlotte Lewis Catherine MacDonald Zoheb Mashiur Daniel Medina Rob Miles Katherine Petridou Rachel Poxon Haymon Rahim Mairead Randall Joe Robinson Sophie Sheppard Matthew Small Billie Stubley Sarah Timmerman Olivia Toulmin Danielle Ureta-Spontak Claire Watt Dante Wilcox Cole Wilson
Special thanks to: Alastair Ross Alice Gauthier Crocolitho Ellen Ffrench Georges Helft Rob Miles Rob Miles et Les Clés Anglaises Sarah Bolwell University of Kent, Arts and Culture University of Kent Paris School of Arts and Culture and staff University of Kent School of Architecture University of Kent School of Arts University of Kent School of English University of Kent School of European Culture and Literature University of Kent School of History
STUDY IN PARIS – IN ENGLISH Kent’s Paris School of Arts and Culture offers advanced humanities degrees, taught in English, in the heart of the French capital. Study exclusively in this remarkable city or take a split-site programme, where you spend your first term studying at our Canterbury campus, followed by a term in Paris. PARIS AS YOUR CAMPUS Living and studying in Paris - one of the world’s most intellectually and culturally influential cities - will inspire and stimulate you. Beyond our centrally-located study centre in historic Montparnasse, you can also explore the exceptional architecture, libraries, museums and art galleries the city has to offer. With regular study trips to sites interest and intellectual significance, Paris releases and encourages students’ potential for advanced study. TOP FOR RESEARCH Consistently praised as one of the UK’s top universities for its research intensiveness, Kent continues to lead the field at its study centres on the European continent. Running a variety of postgraduate programmes in Paris, Brussels, Athens, and Rome, Kent affords its students access to Europe’s cultural capitals whilst offering the advantages of belonging to a large research institution. To find out more visit kent.ac.uk/paris