Thanks to Bertie, we headed down to hit the Met before hours to enjoy the last day of the Heavenly Bodies exhibit, then ran up to the Cloisters to see the other location. Oddly enough the medieval setting worked well with the fashion inspired by the church. And there was even a good bit of greenery in the garden still. A selection of photos here, the rest on the ‘book in two albums. Yes, I took a lot of pictures despite the fact that the members-only event also came with a tote and the two-volume catalogue! The elbow room was nice, but the quiet was the best part. The din at the Cloisters seemed enormous after that.
Fifteen hundred years right here
Oh, burning witches, burning books
Burning babies in their looks
Burning everything that’s sacred in my genes
It’s a tough week for a lot of women you know, whether you know it or not. Maybe they’ve shared their horror stories with you: maybe you have some yourself. I hope you’re coping: if you’re not, I hope you can turn away from all this to take care of yourself. You deserve to thrive.
The week started off badly with news that Alex Hunt (@heykidzcomix) died unexpectedly. Only 37. Another startlingly intelligent, funny woman gone far too soon. In recent years one of the late night voices on Twitter that helped so much in living out of joint on this side of the pond. After the gutting sorrow came the anger: why should Alex be gone and these vicious old men live on, these sneering plunderers for whom too much is still never enough, who cannot be satisfied as long as someone else has something, anything, who despoil all they touch.
Anger is an energy. Let Artemesia show the way.
Artemesia Gentilieschi: Judith Beheading Holofernes
I’m a Magickal Woman! Which is to say that I will be speaking at the Magickal Women Conference in London next June. They’ve only announced the first set of speakers but I’m already excited at the breadth of fantastic women who will be speaking about fantastic women. I will be talking about sound in Leonora Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet, an opportunity to focus on some of my favourite obsessions: Carrington, art, surrealism and sound. Very exciting!
I dropped by the DCA to check out the latest exhibit by Eve Fowler, ‘What a Slight. What a Sound. What a Universal Shudder’ — pieces all influenced by Gertrude Stein’s writings. I was unprepared for how hard it hit, even in the first piece, ‘with it which is as it if it is to be’ — disorienting because you step through black out curtains into a darkened room. I have poor night vision so I had to stand there for a moment. I was instantly mesmerised:
This 16mm work is an intimate portrait of some of Fowler’s closest friends in the LA artistic community: the camera focuses on several female artists working in their studios with an accompanying soundtrack of their voices reading from Stein’s 1910 text Many Many Women. Yin Ho, writing in Artforum, described this film as “a quietly explosive work: a subtle, simple document of female camaraderie and process, and the subdued magic of everyday life.”
We so seldom value woman–full stop, yes–but especially as artists. Think of all the loving docos of male artists in all their seriousness. The attention to technique, the fawning po-faced attachment to their importance. To see these women creating like this while Stein’s words echoed filled me with such a joy. I needed this. I need to see these women working. I need it to keep working myself.
‘This one is one and she is that one. Each one is one. There are many. Each one is different from any other one.’
I finally understand Stein and her orality. I think delving much more into sound studies has helped my brain make that connection. When I was first exposed to her back in my younger, literalist days, I could only approach her in literary terms. A big misunderstanding.
I need to go back and see it again. Great exhibition.
Corinne Mikael West
Thanks to the fabulous Pam Grossman mentioning this in an interview, I have been recharged by the great quote from the always delightful Tori Amos:
“You have to out-create the destruction
– it’s the only way.”
(By the by, have you been listening to Native Invader? It’s really terrific.)
I realise that this is what I feel subconsciously in these (make no mistake about it) perilous times. Yes, work to undo the evil at every step. Yes, raise our voices in protest, in resistance, in outrage at the seemingly endless venal obscenities!
But I am not a politician. I am not an organiser. I am a creator and I will create because that is my path of resistance. Create and re-create everything they try to destroy. Create the community and its strength that we need. Create the vision that will give us hope. Make every day a resounding yes to all that they claim is impossible. Do not give in to their selfish mediocrity.
I’ve been filling the well of my head with artists like Corinne Mikael/Michelle West (I love this image because it looks like she’s lecturing on how abstract-expressionism will sort things out) and of course my trimulierate Varo, Carrington and Fini. Reading The Militant Muse which has fed that need for examples of unruly artists making their way through explosive, soul-sapping times. Hanging on to the hope of a better future:
“When the heroic male narratives of modernism begin to fade, we may, eventually, be ready to recognize this amazingly idiosyncratic body of work.”
Prophetic words on Hedda Sterne but much more widely applicable, I hope, in the coming days.
Cities and Memory have a new project up which includes my photography! Check it out to find a fascinating random connection between art and sound, evoking a sense of place from images anchored to a specific location inspiring sounds that know no bounds.
I love it when a plan comes together. Wander through the memories and sounds…or scroll down to Scotland to find my Orkney picture.
The SpeakEasy dames are hosting Ione’s Dream Festival this week: check it out on Facebook. Here’s our Sunday poetry offering by Wendy Goldberg; I think it’s got just the right touch of melancholy for an ending.
We’ve had a wonderful time sharing our writing, music and art. Keep dreaming, remember refill the well, and as the dames would surely tell you, make sure someone’s got your back while you dream.
Perhaps it would be like no poem would ever be forgotten,
if we remembered every dream we ever had.
The day would be as surreal as the night,
populated with a memory that does not exist,
a narrative running counter to the light.
Would people say in the café, wiping sugar off the table
I am a flyer or I dream of water?
Would lovers whisper sexual non-sequitors
about images that abandon all sense of plot?
Perhaps those taboos would go silently unshared,
and if nightmares could not be broken with the day,
we might keep those secret yet.
But, we would remember all —
from an angel in the deep midnight womb
telling us the mind of God
to our last twilight vision in sickbeds
where dreams glide away like a grey sky
sliding its palms on an endless, still sea.
As we breathe at night, we breathe in day
like the way we dream
about the dead in that first year of grief.
Instead, mornings have merciful hands,
wiping a fogged-up mirror, and we see
the same story we keep telling ourselves.