VICE wrote up a cool panel discussion at Bard on the subject of politically engaged art today, but it was lacking an answer to the question it posed: Can art be a form of political activism?
The obvious answer is, well, yes, of course. I mean, look at Jacques-Louis David’s “The Death of Marat,” or practically any of the paintings that he finished during the French Revolution: It’s basically all political propaganda, and very effective political propaganda, at that (Marat was a revolutionary writer who was assassinated; David’s painting institutionalized him as a martyr of the revolution). Manet’s “Olympia” was a political challenge to the art world, its aesthetics and values, inasmuch as it very clearly depicted a prostitute who, rather than having an idealized body and rather than existing for the aesthetic pleasure of the viewer was painted with an imperfect, human body and a confrontational expression. In the 1970s, Mierle Ukeles challenged the art world on its class and gender politics by publicly performing “low” or “women’s” work at the Wadsworth Atheneum, cleaning the museum and washing its front steps as a way of pointing out all the things that must be done to support museums and keep them physically viable. Their boards of directors, their curators, and the artists displayed might get the public attention, but museums couldn’t function without maintenance work. Keep reading »
I was in an online networking group, for a while, in which there coincidentally happened to be many, many children of narcissistic parents, mothers especially. Well, either it was a coincidence, or there are more narcissistic parents in the world than one would imagine. It sounds horrible. Apparently, narcissistic parents rely on their children for their own self-esteem, keep their kids possessively close to them, and then when the child starts to branch out and become independent, the parent gets jealous. It can be, and apparently often is, abusive. It leaves those children with a lot of baggage. (The link above has good information and resources for adult children of narcissistic parents.)
It got me thinking, though: My mom is kind of awesome. Well, no, she just is awesome. During the conversations about narcissistic mothers in that networking group, I’d just think, “I should probably show myself out.” I didn’t want to rub my awesome mom in the faces of people who struggled with their mothers. Keep reading »
As I write this, I’ve just come home from a new gym. A man training a small group of us shouted personalized encouragement throughout in an effort to spur us along. “Well done, Karen!” “Two more reps, Jaz!” “Knees up, Ellen!” “Bum out, Phhhh … bum out!”
I know that when someone mumbles “Phhh” under their breath, it means me. This happens with relative frequency; if I had to guess I’d say bi-weekly. I decided to tell the trainer how to pronounce my name, because the longer this kind of thing goes on, the more awkward it gets for everyone involved. “Phhhh” isn’t fooling anyone, mate. I have a few variations on the theme of correcting pronunciation, but on this particular day I went with “It’s like the name Lisa, but with ‘fuh’ in front of it.” Earlier, when I picked up a prescription from a pharmacist I’ve seen several times over the past year, I let “fuh-lissa” slide. It’s a pharmacist — we’re not that invested in each other. I’m used to making these judgement calls. Keep reading »
If you’re into pop culture blogs, but not so into Nintendo, you might have noticed that a lot of people are REALLY REALLY EXCITED about the release of the Legend of Zelda franchise title Majora’s Mask for Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo announced the release for early 2015 just yesterday, and now us Zelda nerds are getting a chance to talk about, basically, how weird the game is. Forgive us. Keep reading »
There are two main versions of my name story. The first is the one I like telling, which is that I was named after my grandmother’s best friend, Charlotte. It doesn’t make any sense, I know. But it’s better — although I suspect less accurate — than the second version, which is that my mother was reading a magazine while sitting on the toilet (apparently this was an important detail), and came across an ad for Chanel perfume. Hence, a difficultly-named troublemaker was born.
I hate my name. Okay, that’s not fair. I have a complicated relationship with my name. For a long time, I just wanted to be named Jen, or Rebecca, or anything but Chanel. (I’m an only child, so there’s no one to compare names with, no sibling with an equally complicated name.) Teachers went into a full-on, sweaty panic when they saw my full name, and kids seized upon me with gleeful cruelty, creating every permutation you can think of and referring to me as such. Recently, when I was signing into the apartment building where I was cat sitting, the doorman informed me that my name was “not spelled that way.” Keep reading »