Friday, February 27, 2015

Dancing as a form of resistance

Small towns, inappropriate body contact, rebels teens, love and age gaps, pregnancy, a ban on rock music and dancing, religious communities, challenges to traditional masculinity and DANCING to sort it all out. 

     Footloose                                                  Dirty Dancing
    1984                                                           1987

Kvinnan med handväskan (woman with handbag): photo, sculpture, debate

Kvinnan med handväskan
1985 by Hans Runesson
The moment before a woman hits a marching nazi-skinhead with a handbag. The photograph was taken during a demonstration of the Nordic Reich Party supporters.

The Swedish sculptor Susanna Arwin made a miniature statue based on the photograph and was to 
erect a life-size bronze version in the city of Växjö (2014).  This has been blocked saying that it promotes violence. 

The debate is ongoing and can be followed in the Swedish news.d

It was the smack seen ‘round the world. 
It’s 1985. Danuta Danielsson, the Polish-Swedish daughter of a Holocaust survivor, steps out into the street during a Neo-Nazi march in the Swedish town of Växjö, and swings her purse directly into the head of a passing skinhead. Photographer Hans Runesson is nearby, and captures the moment in a picture he unambiguously titles “Kvinnan med handväskan”  (“A Woman Hitting a Neo-Nazi With Her Handbag”). The image goes viral and Danielsson becomes something of a folk hero as a result. 
image via
Flash forward thirty years to today. Danielsson has since passed away, never speaking publically about the incident. But her purse-smacking legacy of standing up to European fascism lives on. It’s understandable, then, that artist Susanna Arwin would want to memorialize this act of ordinary heroism by erecting a bronze statue of Danielsson, purse in hand, near the site of Runesson’s now-iconic photograph. Arwin has even created a small mock-up of her design, which she posted to her Facebook page this past Spring: 
The town of Växjö, however, isn’t interested. As Radio Sweden reports, the municipal Culture, Leisure and Recreation Committee last week rejected Arwin’s proposed statue, partially due to an alleged request from a member of Danielsson’s family, but also out of a belief that the installation could somehow be interpreted as supporting violence.
As city councilor Eva Johansson told The Washington Post
"We in Växjö work for democracy and free speech. Of course, we don't like Nazis. But we can't accept that one can hit a person because one does not like him or her."
Given that we’re talking about the daughter of a Holocaust survivor swatting a Nazi with her purse, Johansson’s non-violent explanation has felt, to many, just a bit thin. In a show of solidarity with Arwin, people across Sweden and beyond have begun hanging purses, handbags, and satchels off various sculptures in their respective cities, blasting the images of their tributes across social media, using the hashtag #tantentillVäxjö:
image via twitter
image via twitter
image via twitter
image via twitter
Following Växjö’s rejection of the proposed statue, The Washington Post points outthat other Swedish communities have offered themselves as homes for the Arwin’s installation. And with purses popping up on sculptures across Europe, it’s clear that Arwin’s tribute to Danielsson has become much more than just a statue: It’s become a movement. 

Suffragettes refusal to be photographed

Evelyn Manesta “I am a political offender.”

'A Policeman’s arm restraining Evelyn Manesta round her neck was removed from original photograph when the picture was used.'

Surveillance and doctored photographs

'The Home Office funded prison officials to secretly photograph the suffragettes as they walked about the prison's exercise yard. After the women’s release, copies of their photographs were given to the agents assigned to follow and keep tabs on them, and to the guards stationed at places the suffragettes had already attacked or seemed likely to attack in the future. Each suffragette had a police file containing photographs, physical descriptions, and surveillance reports.'

Ann-Sofi Sidén, Fidei Commissum


Studies for Fidei Commissum, 2000/2001
b/w photography
103 x 146 cm, 2 parts
Ed. 1/6

Fidei Commissum, 2000 (view at The Wanas Foundation, Sweden)
bronze, pump, water
ca. 100 x 60 x 70 cm
Ed. 6 + 2 a.p.

Kanye West on 'Saturday Night Live' performing laying on his back

Grey outfit, hoodie, colored contact lenses, cut off gloves, diamond grill

Hands up, Pharrell Williams , Grammy's 2015

''The gesture is the same used that has recently been used demonstrates protesting the death of unarmed black men at the hands of police. 
The use of hoods was used after the death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in 2012.   
However the 'hands up'' refers to Michael Brown, who was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. 
Some accounts of the deadly incident claimed the unarmed black teenager had his hands up when the cop shot him. 
A movement which followed adopted the slogan 'Black Lives Matter' and has been used by various celebrities during high profile events and awards ceremonies. 
Prince was one of the stars who used the phrase during the ceremony.  
Before presenting the award for best album, he said: 'Albums... remember those? Albums still matter. Like books and black lives, albums still matter.' ''


Read more:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Choreographer Yanis Marshall, "Why the heels?"

"Yanis Marshall is there to create change and reinvent his art. His characteristic is to be one of the few men in France to dance and offer dance classes in heels, both for girls and boys. And when he is asked  » Why the heels?  » He replies simply,  » Why not? « . More than that, the heels are his favorite accessory in dance. It is also a way to show us that he fully accepts himself and does not impose any limit to his creativity. Like his idol, the sultry Madonna, he likes to challenge the established codes."

Monday, February 23, 2015

Centrefold by Lynda Benglis, 1974

She's WAY more than the image below..but wow what a statement and work that is.


Lynda Benglis: ‘You cannot kill creativity’

Feminist icon and art provocateur Lynda Benglis astounded the world when in 1974 she photographed herself in the raw for Centrefold in Artforum, wearing nothing but cateye sunglasses and clutching a dildo against her groin in a stand against male-domination in the art world. Somewhat prompting her significance, some of the editors quit the magazine in protest. Benglis, now 73-years old, prolific in name and revolutionary in nature, emerged as part of a new generation of artists fashioning original approaches to sculpture and painting in the wake of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Pop Art.
Now, 50 years on, she has generated a momentous body of work discussing ideas of femininity and masculinity, nature and forms with countless different unconventional materials – from the labial-like beeswax piece Embryo I and her huge latex ‘floor paintings’ to Female Sensibility, a sensual video piece which sees Benglis kissing colleague Marilyn Lenkowsky in response to the 70s belief in a necessary ‘lesbian phase’ for ‘female artistic sensibility’. Even though she views all her works as either “drawings or paintings”, it is with her unusual choices for mediums that provoke differing feelings that are far from simply a sketch or a canvas. Her monumental structures and radical sculptures have won her the attentions and gratifications of artists like John Baldessari and Cindy Sherman who, referring to her photo in Artforum, said, “She kicked ass!”
This month she will exhibit the largest presentation of her work in the UK yet, with approximately 50 pieces on show, spanning the entirety of her career to date. The exhibition will hold several new pieces, like her recent ceramic and polyurethane works, along with several paper molds, which will be shown publicly for the first time. Ahead of the occasion, she told us how the industry’s changed, that Artforum piece and gives us some compelling advice.
Your career has spanned over 48 years and you have made a lot of work challenging the male ethos and male domination in the art world, especially in the 70s, has sexism in the industry changed?
Lynda Benglis: I don’t think of the art world now as being male dominated. There are so many woman artists since I began and I really think of both energy and talent as coming from both men and women equally. Women feel their bodies differently from men because they have different resources. I did think specifically always about the politics but I found I needed to comment at different times in my life because it seemed to be an issue, however most of the women artists I know that do work think of themselves as empowered by themselves and as women artists. It’s not really an issue now.
I remember many times I was maybe one of two women artists in an important exhibition. The numbers have changed and gone up, and there were a lot of talks and meetings. I didn’t happen to go to the meetings because I’m not really a meetings person, but if a person happens to be a woman, the confidence level has to be there in order to make the presentation of art because it’s really about art – not about whether it’s a woman or a man. It’s an issue wherever there is inequality and there are still issues in different areas of the world that exist and it is an issue. As an art form women have always made art, whether they were under bondage or not, they have always created. You cannot kill creativity.
“I don’t think of the art world now as being male dominated. There are so many woman artists since I began and I really think of both energy and talent as coming from both men and women equally. Women feel their bodies differently from men because they have different resources” – Lynda Benglis
Have you noticed anything else in the art industry change over this time?
Lynda Benglis: Yes. I’ve heard about it quite a bit that, as art is being publicised, it’s more about money since the 80s. It’s not all about it, but there are so many promoters of the situation and the talk is always about money. I think when one does have the money to produce work, which is needed, then one should do it, but to publicise it in that way and context is not of my generation. I don’t think we ever thought about the money aspect as we were happy to do it, and I think most artists of that time developed in that way. There are perhaps a lot of artists that are making works that have to do with the context and realisation of money.
You’ve been described many times as controversial, notably for Centrefold, did you feel what you were doing was controversial at the time?
Lynda Benglis: I knew it was a raw thing to do, even though it’s plastic [the dildo]! I wanted to do something that was very humanistic to challenge the ideas that I was dealing with. I knew it would be a potent image and a challenge to my work, but I felt I had to do it at that time. That was the right time in terms of the medium and Artforum was the right magazine. I had no doubt that I had to do it in the right way and it had to be the right photo, so I worked on it quite a bit.
Do you feel the piece in particular made a positive impact in terms of gender equality in the art world?
Lynda Benglis: People, particularly women, tell me that and I think that’s positive. I made them feel good about the image that wasn’t a threat or a challenge, but was an understanding that it was okay – we don’t any longer have to be the victim of the gaze. In other words, this work looked back at you, that famous saying. That’s what I intended to do. 
In your new exhibition, there’s going to be over 50 pieces of work exhibited – do you have a favourite piece?
Lynda Benglis: Well, they’re pretty much all my favourites because the intensity of something very small and something very large is usually the same in a strange way. Although the ideas may be similar as well, the intensity and ideas play off of one another so one follows the ideas and contexts to do with the variation in materials. I’m always surprised when I see a show – one that does have such a broad history – that it does seem like somebody else [curated] them. I always think, ‘well, here I’m doing it this way but then I did it that way’. Then I can identify that it is me instead of someone else.

Lynda Benglis, feminist artist
Centrefold by Lynda Benglis, originally published in Artforum November 1974Photography and © by Arthur Gordon, image courtesy of the artist and Cheim & Read, New York

When you see such a large show you feel like someone else did them?
Lynda Benglis: I feel there’s such a distance in the way it was done and how it was done. I remember doing it and I remember the time and the way these works mark the time and the origination and history, and they very much reflect the time we were in. So I was really always experimenting with different similar ideas all through the ages here. I’m 73-years old and the times are very different, but I guess I allowed to become more sophisticated because I had so many opportunities to work through my growing experience with various different materials.
So over the past 50 years, you’ve divided your time between studios in New York, Santa Fe, Ahmedabad in India and Kastelorizo in Greece, how have these places influenced your practice?
Lynda Benglis: You can say you are what you eat or you are where you are. I think everything we do comes into the experience of the expression, absolutely.
You’ve worked with uncountable materials, from polyurethane foam, glass, bronze and stainless steel to beeswax and poured latex, why do you not limit yourself to one medium?
Lynda Benglis: I think mediums are all about form. They’re mediums that I can make sketch as I think of myself as doing drawings and paintings in these different mediums. I think of them as forms from nature, about nature and having illusion. Some are dependent on the walls, some are dependent on the floor and some are outside pieces.
What has been the best or biggest thing you’ve learned throughout your career? 
Lynda Benglis: To be yourself. If I’m teaching I encourage those young artists to find their own ‘handwriting’, so to speak, to find themselves and to be strong enough to express their ideas. 
Lynda Benglis will be on show at the Hepworth Wakefield from 6 February – 1 July

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jefferson Pinder's "Dark Matter"

Jefferson Pinder is an artist I met while we both lived in Washington, DC.  
His work amazed me then and it continues to inspire.

Featuring Lionz of Zion

"Under bright police lights, break-dancers dressed in black perform a series of actions that references the Ferguson events from August of this year. In this work  B-boys physically reference the actions from the murder that took place during August 9th and the ensuing riots. This performance pairs athletic movement with social struggle."


On Claims of Radicality in Contemporary Art

Thanks to
Lorenzo Cardim for pointing out this conversation to me on art and radical politics.
Lorenzo is an artist TO WATCH OUT FOR!!  I was happy to meet him earlier this year through his work with Red Dirt Studio in Mt. Rainier, Maryland

"Lorenzo Cardim is currently working on a Master of Fine Arts degree at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco, California. Cardim’s sculptures and performances use philosophical theory as a guide for teasing the absurd out of a view of the human condition. Recent works include That Which Is Seen and That Which is Unseen (slave of desire), a performance featuring a 39-foot puppet of Queen Victoria that slowly ascended from floor to ceiling of the Corcoran museum’s main level atrium, its movement punctuating cycles of birth and labor. The piece responds to the writings of David Hume while referencing Frédéric Bastiat’s Parable of the Broken Window."


On Claims of Radicality in Contemporary Art

e-flux conversations

"This first conversation is on the relationship between art and radical politics today. Despite the artworld's ever-increasing integration into the realms of high capital and the culture industry, much of its discourse currently centres on vehement claims regarding the revolutionary nature of contemporary practice. Especially in the context of large-scale exhibition projects, curators regularly claim that contemporary art has the capacity to open up a space for social transformation, often implicitly or explicitly using the language of the radical left. This conversation seeks to probe these claims – to consider what historical circumstances might have led to their prominence in recent times."

Converation convened by:  David Hodge, Hamed Yousefi
Contributors:  Pil and Galia KollectivNina PowerJohn Roberts and Gregory Sholette.