Monday, December 31, 2007

End of Year Reading List

This past year, I decided to keep track of books read just because. And also because reading stimulates the mind, and I think its important, as academics and non-academics, as people who love to read, to try and keep up with.

I figured I would include books I actually finished for classes as well, cuz really I did have to take the time to read them whole, and most of them were pretty good, so why not...Though this list certainly does not include all the numerous journals, essays, articles, and chapters I've had to read for school...then it'd be considerably longer...muahahaha...

I'm also including the MUCH MUCH shorter list of graphic novels...

While my list isn't terribly long, it's more than I thought I could get in between working and going to school.

To a literary 2008!

Legend: *--book read for school
%--re-read

And in no particular order: Books in 2007

The Lovely Bones--Anne Sebold
Middlesex--Jeffrey Euginedes
Halfbreed--Maria Campbell
Stone Butch Blues--Leslie Feinberg
Past Due--Anne Finger*
The Loss of El Dorado--V.S. Naipaul
Player Piano--Kurt Vonnegut
Slapstick--Kurt Vonnegut
To the Lighthouse--Virginia Woolf
Witches of Eastwick--John Updike
Brideshead Revisited--Evelyn Waugh
Rendezvous with Rama--Arther C. Clarke
Mostly Harmless--Douglas Adams
A Perfectly Good Family--Lionel Shriver
Breakfast of Champions--Kurt Vonnegut
The Fire-Dwellers--Margaret Lawrence*
Beloved--Toni Morrison*
I Don't Know How She Does It--Allison Pearson*%
We Need to Talk About Kevin--Lionel Shriver*%
Vagina Monologues--Eve Ensler*%
The Good Body--Eve Ensler*
Of Woman Born--Adrienne Rich*
Waiting in the Wings--Cherri Moraga*
God Bless You, Dr. Kervorkian--Kurt Vonnegut
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves--Lynne Truss
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix--J.K. Rowling
The Colour Purple--Alice Walker
The Rez Sisters--Tomson Highway
Baghdad Burning--Riverbend
The Crone--Barbara G. Walker
Women and Social Transformation--Judith Butler, Lydia Puigvert, Elizabeth Beck-Gershiem*
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories--James Finn Garner

Graphic Novels:
We Are On Our Own--Miriam Katin
Late Bloomer--Carol Tyler
The Job Thing--Carol Tyler
The Little Man Comics--Chester Brown
Chicken With Plums--Marjane Satrapi
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home Vol. 1--Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty

Happy New Year, witches.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'm Not A Grinch But...

What do you get when you add being broke + picky teenagers/kids to shop for + a feminist ethic in regards to what you are buying?

Answer: NOTHING FOR CHRISTMAS!

Seriously! I hate Christmas shopping...

This witch hails from one large-ass family and this year we decided out of mercy on our credit card debts that we would buy only for the kids this year. That still leaves me with eight people between the ages of 19 and 1 1/2 years old to shop for. And an extremely tight budget. Not easy. Especially as I realize that the older these kids get, the less I really know about them. What the hell do I get for these kids?? And when did I start to become the distant aunt?

I saw things that I know I would love to get for Christmas. But then I remembered that I'm the "strange" aunt, so I ended up second-guessing everything I picked. Then I would get really frustrated, because, FUCK, why can't the thought count just as much as the actual gift? Christmas shopping really kills my holiday buzz. Thank god/dess for vodka.

Then of course, because I'm on a budget of $20 MAX per kid, I wasn't left with a lot of great ethical options. I've found decent gifts in that price range before at places like the Gap, but my conscience wouldn't let me do it this year. I can't shop at BabyGap and hand-over gifts of sweatshop origin. But shopping so conscientiously doesn't leave me with a lot of options when a witch is poor.

*And I'll bet you anything that I get a Gap shirt this year under the tree too. Sigh.*

I also don't want to promote gender stereotypes by giving my six and seven year old nieces all the pretty and pink princess merchandise they so crave. But all they want to do is bask in pink princess-ness!

Oh wait, I've just been told they've outgrown all that. Now they're into "Hannah Montana" and "Zoey 101", the latter starring a now-pregnant teen. And I only know of these shows because of such gossipy smut (I fucking LOVE gossipy smut--secret shame revealed)! If it were Degrassi, at least we could all look forward to a poignant, honest, straightforward addressing of the issue with a message that I would be willing to support with a cheesy keychain purchase. But it's a Nickelodeon show so probably, it will get swept under the writers' table. Still, I must walk into stores that make me feel old in my mid-twenties by being tailored to the Hilary Duff/Avril Lavigne brands of "individual" style. I suppose I should be happy that its not the Britney-style over-sexualization of children that's all the rage.

None of this helps me with my Christmas selections.

What's a witch to do...

Well, I did this:

For Julian (19), I bought him some warm house slippers and a Portugal Soccer toque. He's getting comfort this year.
For Dane (17) and Erik (16) I bought them a copy of Maus I and Maus II respectively, that as brothers, they can swap. My sister told me that though they're not big readers, they do enjoy war literature, and I love that book, so therefore I shall command them to love it too.
For Adam (12) I bought him the first volume in the Scott Pilgrim series. He's into video games and anime so I thought Scott Pilgrim, though neither, would be a relatable but decent break that doesn't undermine his age.
For Abby (11) I bought her a Lenore collection called Noogies. I love the Lenore comics, they have a dark sense of humour that she will appreciate (I hope and also command) plus the drawings are great.
For Emily (7) I bought her a Roald Dahl treasury that she can enjoy having read to her and also enjoy as she continues to learn to read.
For Serena (6) I bought her socks, cuz my sister told me she desparately needs new ones, but also a purple-ish and comfy bath robe that was on sale for 50% off at Bluenotes.
For Liam (1) I bought him a stuffed Snoopy doll where five bucks off the purchase price went to a children's charity.

I hope I did okay. If not, well, there'll be lots of wine at dinner for me anyhoo.
I really wish I wasn't so weak and could go to my family dinner and just honestly say "I'm broke, I'm sorry but at least we're all together, right?" I just end up feeling unreasonably guilty...Sigh...such a product of my culture...

Off to work I go so I can make rent this Christmas.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

War on Terror - and disorganised rambling...

I actually stole this from a friend's blog:

US Army at its finest...

If you're interested, and can stomach a lot of complete stupidity, the comments are somewhat interesting in a "Holy shit, I can't believe you said that" sort of way. Every so often it seems someone says something intelligent in the sea of moron.

I'd like to stipulate that in essence, I don't see war as such an inherently bad thing: I think it is an outpouring of our territorial instincts as animals, and has become a worse problem than it should be because we have managed to create technologies that make killing far too easy for us. Killing someone should never be easy. I do not think that as a society, or even "civilization" we can ever manage to eradicate war. In a world where there is only a finite amount of resources, as well as a population too large for those resources, we must accept that war will be a reality. The problem I have with war as we know it right now is our level of technology. We have proven, time and time again, that we have the technology to kill thousands more of "them" than "they" can kill of "us". (And, yes, I am talking in terms of Us and the Others). It is the fact that we participate in unfair wars that make us such terrible creatures. It is the fact that the populations our armies are keeping down are already being kept down by politics, by economics, by our own actions in the past...

It is sad that although we are such intelligent creatures, we will still fall prey to the natural laws of populations: we have allowed our population to expand over the limits of resources available, and, as such, we are going to experience (eventually) an incredible population drop due to starvation, because we lack resources. Naturally, this is likely to affect those of us living in the West less than it will affect those people living in "third world countries" (and I don't think many of them would be "third world" if not for the economic sanctions that we use to keep them down). (This, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with the video linked to up above). Sadly, it is also likely that populations that are traditionally subjugated (like women) are probably also going to get the raw end of the deal.

I don't really have a solution, nor do I feel like going on about this for much longer right now. All I'm really trying to get across here is how sad it is that for all the intelligence, all the design, all the progression that our population has gone through, we are still animals. We must remember that we are still a part of the natural world, and we cannot remove ourselves from it. We can speak of enlightened ideals, of philosophy and art, of gods and spirituality, but when it comes down to it, we must eat and drink and breathe to survive, and we are creatures of the earth. What I am trying to say is that maybe we should accept that we are animals. We are not perfect beings, and anyone claiming sainthood is likely a hypocrite - we should recognize our own sins (not to suggest that I am a believer, I am, in fact, an athiest) and struggle to control them for the sake of ourselves as an entire population. If we have a defining intellect, why the hell can't we use it for something other than technologies that simply inflate our worst instincts (war, greed, being territorial) to a point where they are obviously uncontrollable?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Upcoming Events: Montreal Massacre Remembrance Day

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre that occurred December 6th, 1989. I attended an all-girl high school in downtown Toronto, and every year we spent a week remembering the victims of this brutal femicide, as well as other murdered victims of domestic violence. For a few years after I left high school, that week of awareness started to fade into my memory, something that is dangerous to let happen, especially as so many women are already forgotten because of racism and classism. Fortunately,York and its Women's Studies program, as well as other universities and organizations continue to commerate this day to raise awareness on violence against women.

The Female Eye Film festival remembers women killed in Montreal Massacre
In partnership with York's Winters College, the Female Eye Film Festival will commemorate the Dec. 6 Montreal Massacre with seven films by national and international female directors, along with a panel discussion, to be held this Thursday, Dec. 6.

The program, In Memoriam of the Montreal Massacre, is designed to remember the 14 women killed there 18 years ago. All of the films look at issues of violence against women. A question and answer period with the directors will follow the screenings. The program will take place at the Nat Taylor Cinema, North 102 Ross Building, on the Keele campus

On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine walked into l'École Polytechnique, a Montreal engineering school, separated the men from the women and opened fire. He shot 27 women, 14 of whom died. In 1991, Canada's Parliament declared Dec. 6 a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

The program runs from four to ten p.m.


In some of the old articles covering the massacre, it was noted how some students were sobbing that they weren't even feminists.

I've made this comment before, but I think it bears repeating. Marc Lepine, despite what he may have stated, did NOT really kill these women because they were feminists; he killed them BECAUSE they were women, and he felt entitled to violently take from them what he couldn't get for himself. Even if every woman he killed was a feminist, that is certainly no justification for murder.

We need to stop thinking that feminism(s)is(are) no longer relevant.

Thoughts On Buying Nothing

Of course I'm late on making comments on a campaign that happened a few weeks ago. Of course, I am. I'm a student; can't expect much in terms of keeping up with me.

However, I did recieve an email last week from AdBusters' Culture Jammers Network about a wrap-up on Buy Nothing Day. In it, they express Buy Nothing Day as a success that garnered media attention, and asked for people's experiences related to that day. Though I am NOT sending it to their blog, I am here offering my thoughts.

Here's the thing; I love Adbusters and their often spot-on critiques of capitalist consumer-based degradation of culture. I appreciate their work, and will continue to support the magazine (ironically, when I can afford to again). However, I really can't get behind "Buy Nothing Day." It's too flawed a campaign.

I appreciate its sentiment. In theory, buying nothing should disrupt the capital flow of consumerism, hopefully highlighting a message of the need for a more sustainable economy that closes the gaps between the haves and the havenots. It should also pose a threat to the fat cats on top who play the capitalist strings to the tunes of their own greedy hearts. I agree, we need to spotlight consumer waste; we treat this planet like the pigs depicted in the ad for Buy Nothing rejected by MTV.

However...

The problem with this campaign is that it doesn't really address the structures of economy nor the pyramid scheme of power that is capitalism. Buy Nothing is far too simplistic an approach to thoroughly analyse the issues of consumer waste that define its economic concerns.

When I was invited to participate in "Buy Nothing Day" on my facebook, I was ambivalent about it. Initially, I said "maybe attending." Eventually, I declined all together. Buy Nothing Day is not a campaign I can support.

Let me illustrate the issues for you.

For one thing, when big capitalists lose money in their ventures, it is not their bank accounts that suffer, or any of the CEOs that lose their jobs. Rather, the first people affected by an economic slump are the people at the bottom, the people whose backs that money is made off. Let's look at the film "The Take" (Avi Lewis, Naomi Klein) for example. In it, we start with a prosperous Peron-era Argentina, enjoying the spoils of capitalism in all its consumer-happy glory, backed over the continuing years by IMF and World Bank, conditional of course to Argentina's adherence to their policies. Then fast-forward to Argentina's current economy. Here we see total collapse, wherein capitalism is forced to break its own rules. The economy can no longer sustain itself at the consumerist pace it was going. Of course it couldn't for other issues I am not even touching upon here, and the Buy Nothing campaign is right to highlight this. But again, going back to the documentary, let's see who suffers the fallout of such a collapse. The wealthy in Argentina suffered minimally, because they had invested in true capitalist fashion in offshore accounts keeping their money safe and free. Rather it was the middle and working classes that suffered, since they had no such backups, and had all their accounts frozen and made inaccessible. Factory owners shut down thier production sites without warning or severence pay, safeguarding their own money while devasting the country's economy. Working class Argentinians were forced to rethink their strategies and build a new type of power that was collective and horizontal in order to reclaim the deserted factories. Its not like when this capitalist collapse happened, that the rich were forced to give up their wealth and re-distribute it equally amongst everyone. And that's ultimately the problem with Buy Nothing. I'm not suggesting this campaign would have the fallout effect that Argentina suffered. What I am saying is that when capitalism fails and we are not careful about how it happens, its the bottom that gets knocked out, not the top. We have to be really thoughtful about the way we imagine a revolution of economy. And Buy Nothing doesn't address the structural distribution of capital resources.

Case in point: Why I Can't Participate.

I work in a restaurant. As a server, I am paid less then minimum wage because it is expected in this industry that my wages will be supplimented by tips (15% standard, thank you very much). I am also a part-time worker, due to not only being a student, but often also to overstaffing that seems to occur when restaurants decide to hire a lot of students. That means the amount of tips I can make is directly related to the amount of time I can work. If I am only able to work a couple of days a week as a result of these circumstances, and Buy Nothing Day falls on one of those days, to put it brashly, I am totally screwed. If no one comes into the restaurants, and buys nothing nor tips, it is I who suffers. If the restaurant is having a slow day, it is my shift that gets cut, at an already meagre wage. If my higher level managers have a short day, their pay is not compromised like mine is since they work on salary. And the CEOs of the company certainly don't see a hit, since they save money lost by cutting my labour. In the end, its a slow day for the people on top. For me, it means I have to wait til my next shift til I can buy groceries. I already live on the benevolence of the tipping system, which is often fickle. My chances of doing well are shortened by such campaigns to end consumerism. In an economy that is in fact so consumer driven, it is the people at the bottom of the chain like me who get cut first.

And it is people like me who Buy Nothing days hurts before it challenges the big business structures. Do you think Buy Nothing day makes any sort of real threat to the disgusting, unadulterated capitalists like Kevin O'Leary on Dragon's Den?

I'm sorry if I am coming across as being selfish here, but I do have to survive in this world. Too many of my days are already Buy Nothing days by economic default.

I think, too, that Buy Nothing Day does not ask its participants to question their own every-day spending habits enough. As the boy pointed out when we discussed this at home, most people who participate in buy nothing not only probably have enough things like food and transportation to get themselves through the day, they probably bought everything the day before, thus invalidating any claims that the actual event day is trying to make. It also means that it is mainly those who are already comfortable who can really do the significant part of protesting for this day.

We need a better campaign. I don't necessarily have a better answer; I just know we need to really do more thinking about how to dismantle this particular machine. Especially when we are up against cringe-worthy folks like Kevin O'Leary and company.

I don't think Adbuster's attempts are without its worth. I will continue to be intrigued and grateful for the alternatives this magazine/organization attempts to offer. Buy Nothing Christmas, with its return focus on the spirit of the holiday rather interests me. Though I might ask them to dump the Christmas part of it and remove its religious strings so that becomes a more open holiday idea for those of us who do not follow Christianity.

Everyone: Let's keep working on this.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Just in time for the season...

I thought I'd post this, although I can't make it (damn the distance to Montreal!).

Bingle Jells
An electroacoustic project by Philémon
presented in articule's washroom

December 2007 - January 2008
articule, 262 Fairmount O., Montréal


'Bingle Jells' is a reaction to the way the ubiquitous mercantile 'spirit' manifests itself during the Holidays. The poor quality of the components of an electroacoustic system transform the well known 'Jingle Bells' ditty. It is their relative drag that reframes the song. The juxtaposition of the electromechanical music boxes, whose mechanical 'guts' of the system are exposed to view, highlights the inherent entropy of real time. It is the variability-inducing friction that produces the 'desynchronisation' within which 'Jingle Bells' dissolves in a quantic cloud over time.

In "Bingle Jells," Santa's elves don Indonesian garb to emulate "gamelans." Within the gallery's washroom, the location of the sonic construct optimizes its potentially laxative effect. The space's intimacy privileges an individual perception of the acoustic phenomenon.

articule
262, Fairmount ouest
Montréal (Québec) H2V 2G3
T 514 842 9686

http://www.articule.org

(There website actually doesn't have this show up yet... It's a little bit lost back in October/November... sorry I haven't loaded the picture that came with the email either...)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Name Change.

So yeah. Not particularly world-rocking, but I've decided to use a new alias. I'm thinking it might be interesting to change it up as I continue to navigate my mind within the blogosphere, as I change, develop and grow. Originally, I went with "Electric Furr" because it came from my favourite line in my favourite e.e. cummings poem :
"i like kissing this and that of you,i like, slowly stroking the shocking fuzz,of your electric fur, and what is-it-comes over your parting flesh..."

Also, it is the name of the last litho project I spent all of last school year working slavishly on and really held personal and artistic meaning for me.
Fuck, I still may end up changing it back.

At any rate, this name change has been on my mind, especially as I was growing tired, and out of, this Electric Furr. I found the term 'revista' instead. I was researching names for another blog author, who shares the same cultural background as me (Portuguese-Canadian)and came across 'Saudade' (loosely translated as mournful longing but my portuguese is crap so I could be wrong). I also came across 'Revista', meaning social or political commentary, sometimes in the form of dramatic satire. I think if this was a Portuguese-language blog, that name would come off as a little too simplistic. Perhaps in time, I will find some other appropriate words to augment it more specifically. Until then, I really do like the ring of that word/name as it sounds and means in English.

I myself am probably not nearly so deep as this new name suggests. But it struck a chord with me about the ways in which I'm learning, and the ways in which I am thinking about the world. I may change this again. I may even eventually use my real name, and really claim the things that I say. We shall see...

In the meantime, Electric Furr=Revista. For now.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bad Politics

Sorry, this is yet another blog that really isn't specifically about feminism or women or anything except politics.

Now, I am not American, but I have American family, and through my family, I have received this email, indirectly from the Democratic Party. Now, before I copy and paste the body of this email here, I want to say that, really, I do think that the Democratic Party is shitloads better than the Republican. But... this is really dirty campaigning.

And so, commence:

Dear 'X',
I've got something for you.

For a few months, we've had Democratic Party "trackers" recording hundreds of hours of Republican candidates in the field. From event to event, we've got footage of some pretty revealing moments. Some are regular Americans putting a candidate on the spot with a tough question. Others are blatant contradictions. A lot of it is just the standard candidate stump speech.

The footage isn't high quality, but it's straight from the field -- and there is a lot of it. Since there's more than my team can realistically process, we've decided to throw it up on the web and put the Party's most powerful asset -- you -- to work.

As soon as a tracker leaves an event in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or wherever they're taping a Republican candidate, they'll head to a computer and upload it directly to a special section of Democrats.org called FlipperTV. That means you'll have a chance to go through the latest video the same time we do.

Nobody has ever done anything quite like this before, but with the Internet giving ordinary Americans like you access to the tools you need to change an election with the click of a mouse, we need to make sure you have everything you need to do just that. The video is yours -- you can just let us know what you find, or you can take it, re-mix it, add music, and make your very own ad out of it. It's up to you.

Take a look:

http://www.democrats.org/FlipperTV

Back in March, I told you about our program to hold the GOP accountable for everything they say on the 2008 campaign trail. We launched a website dedicated to the Republican presidential hopefuls, and created a rapid response group in PartyBuilder that people like you could join to get the latest campaign news.

This video is part of that program -- and part of the work that the Democratic Party is able to do because of your help.

Take a look at the video, forward your favorite clips to your friends, and make a contribution of $20 to keep this and other programs going strong through the 2008 election:

http://www.democrats.org/FlipperTV

What are Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson telling voters in Iowa and New Hampshire?

I'll give you a hint -- it's not what they're going to say in tonight's Republican debate.

As the Democratic Party's Research Director, I spend a lot of time watching what the candidates say when they aren't on CNN or Fox News. Believe me, they're like entirely different people when they're speaking to just a few dozen people in Des Moines or Manchester and don't think the cameras are rolling.

But don't just take my word for it -- watch the video yourself, and let us know right away if you find something noteworthy:

http://www.democrats.org/FlipperTV

People like to say that Democrats have a tactical advantage because we're better at using the Internet. Let's show them just how far ahead we actually are.

Let's get started,

Mike Gehrke
Research Director, DNC

P.S. -- Be sure you join the PartyBuilder group on that page so we can get you the latest clips everyone finds.


Now the thing is, although I do think that people should be aware of some of the things right wingers say/do... because a lot of them are much more hypocritical than all that. But to do so much intense smear is just... I don't know... immature.

And I'm not saying this to point a finger at the Democratic Party. The Republican Party is just as bad (maybe worse). At least in Canada, the further "right" a party gets the more it seems to feel it can depend on smear instead of intelligence. And unfortunately, in ad campaigns, the public seems to really go for that.

I don't know what to say or do about this. I really don't. I feel, looking at it, like I'm looking at some really horrid moment in a highschool movie. Or else one of the ultra-low points of the girl-politics that happened in elementary school (because as much as I hate to generalize, most girls were fucking vicious at the end of elementary). One way or the other, this is far too immature for any potential world leader to be engaging in. Any potential leader should be a little more grown-up than that.

That being said, I'm very tempted to watch through and snicker in horror at some of the shit that this big right-wing douche-bags have to say. I can't admit that I'm not sort of very enthralled at the very idea of actually catching the really shitty crap they're saying.

Which makes me a hypocrite, yes.

But currently, I am in my early 20s. I smoke weed, drink alcohol and mess around when I'm not busy with school work (which I currently should be). Still... I am not running for office.

Our "leaders" need to grow the fuck up. Like, really, guys. Get passed that stupid adolescent phase where it's cool to make fun of the other kid. Grow up. This goes for both American parties. And all the Canadian parties also. Elevating immaturity like this to such a powerful level is not "rad" or "awesome" or "killer" (well, maybe it's killer, but not in the "really cool" meaning of the word).

Now, if only the voting public would realize that also.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Voting and not Voting

"The Daily Telegraph carries the results of a poll which suggests that more young people have voted in reality TV shows than are likely to vote in the next election.

The paper says fewer than 42% of first time voters think they will vote for a political party, yet 46% have already voted for contestants in shows like Big Brother and Pop Idol."
Source BBC News.

That is disgusting. But I think you could make an easy comparison to the US and Canada both.

I am meaning to write something about how our electoral system isn't working. It's not that voting doesn't work. It's just that our candidates all have somethings in common, with few exceptions: They are either businesspeople or they are lawyers. They are all living well above the median. There is something wrong with that picture. First off: I trust a businessperson less than I trust a lawyer, unquestionably. Second off: most of the time businesspeople and lawyers have about the least "hard life experience" in that they are rarely from impoverished backgrounds, single mothers, visible minorities, etc. Thirdly: most businesspeople and corporate lawyers (social lawyers are sometimes actually quite wonderful people) have vested interests. Bias doesn't disappear because it's not right on the surface. Friendships don't end just because So and So doesn't work directly for the company anymore... Businesspeople are trained to have one thing prioritized: the bottom line, at all costs.

I think that if we ever want real results in our government, we need to start electing educated people who have lived among the majority of people (ie. low income bracket). I think that we also need to stop electing businesspeople, especially. I think getting real results in elected government would stimulate the interest in actually participating in the electoral process. I think it would also begin to stimulate positive change within our society - we have to start deciding what's more important: the fullness of people's lives or the fullness of our "GNP".

Speaking of which, there was a interesting segment on CBC's national about Bhutan wanting to remain under an absolute monarchy rather than move towards a democracy. I won't make much discussion about this... I really don't know much about Bhutan at all, but the latter part of the video talks about the king promoting "GNH" (Gross National Happiness) rather than GNP (Gross National Product). Now, of course, issues are always more complex than that, and much more complex than shown within the video. But the idea of promoting the happiness of the people rather than the average wealth (which isn't a very good way of calculating how well people are faring within any given country. Here is a link to the video, if you're interested. It's only about four minutes long, and it's definitely worth discussion and attention. And of course, if (I reiterate the "if", I know nothing about Bhutan, and that little video was suspiciously happy-go-lucky) the majority of people are happy with traditionalism, why modernize? I ask that question, because, as a modern state, we are constantly finding that people aren't very happy - that things like depression are more frequent, etc. Of course, that's hard to tell, and possibly lost within "are more people depressed, or a more people being treated for depression?". But that's a whole other discussion that will have to wait until some other day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In Her Own Words: Artist Talk

This is a supplementary post in regards to some work I reviewed at Ladyfest back in September. I featured an albeit blurry picture of a work by Nicole Stoffman, but didn't really talk about it. Nicole, however, has left a comment on the review that I would like to partially re-post here. It's always interesting to hear an artist speak of her own work, in her own words.



I'm sorry I don't have a better picture. But hopefully, we'll see her work around in various spaces soon.

Here's Nicole:

[Regarding]the two matching gold frames full of tourist postcards is another piece called, "Snail Mail: New York, Toronto". It is my answer to Toronto bashers everywhere. I spent 28 days in each city respectively (no reference to the menstrual cycle intended) writing a postcard home to my family (who live in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood) everyday. I discovered that while New York is endlessly fascinating, Toronto is a progressive urban utopia that encourages individual expression and is dense with the living arts. I familiarized myself with it's British heritage and appreciated the fact that although Toronto is a cosmopolis, it is still very close to nature. Although I have lived in Toronto my whole life, I found many new things to write home about. As you can see, the Toronto frame overflows.


Thanks, Nicole!

From the Inbox:

Two Events Coming up in Toronto, Ontario:

Number One:
Toronto Women's Bookstore Presents:

book launch for
Unleashing the Unpopular:
Talking About Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity in Education(Association for Childhood Education International)edited by Isabel Killoran and Karleen Pendleton-Jimenez

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 30, 7pm
toronto women's bookstore
73 harbord st.
partially wheelchair accessible
free admission


This amazing new publication is a unique teacher education resource that strives to improve understanding of issues related to sexual orientation, gender diversity, and education, and how they affect students, teachers, schools, and the community. These narratives and essays are offered as an invitation to make room for the questions and discussion that will hopefully lead to more equitable communities. The authors discuss barriers to successfully supporting LGBT students, teachers, and parents; and explore the reasons behind action or inaction, the effects of not having supportive policy around LGBT issues, and possible solutions to the concerns.

Readings by...
Tonya Callaghan
Dale Callender
Hilary Cook
Carter Cook
John Guiney Yallop
Celia Haig-Brown
Didi Khayatt
Isabel Killoran
Karleen Pendleton Jimenez
janet romero-leiva


Number Two:
Searching for the Islamic Feminist: Religious arbitration in Ontario
with

Kseniya Zaika
Visiting Scholar, Centre for Feminist Research
State University Higher School of Economics - School of International Affairs, Moscow
&
Tabassum Ruby
Ph. D Student, School of Women Studies
York University, Toronto

Monday, 26 November 2007
1pm
201 Founders College
York University, Keele Campus


I, of course, will be writing essays and finishing my art projects for the semester crunch. Sigh.

Art Progress Report

Ah, some pictures.

Also, clearly I have lied about keeping these posts short and readable. Whoops.

Right now I'm almost finished with the lithography element of the project. I've done lithographic editions of the elderly women (nine so far--but I'll be adding another three or four to the project in January) after which I will try to learn screen-printing in like ONE DAY and print their costumes (on separate pieces of paper to be either collaged or chine colled in some manner or the other).

Of course I should be doing the research for an essay right now instead of posting. But I figure that since this project is school-related, it's not too horrible of a distraction. Right? Fack, I'm totally the cause of all my own stress...

Here we go:

This is one of the litho presses we use at school. I totally own litho press #1. It's my favourite, and I'm superstitious so its the only one I use.



Meet some of my ladies:



This is Wonder Woman and Snow White, getting all ready to be printed. I should mention that in this project I did not reference any actresses who may have actually portrayed some of my figures...I am not interested in reproducing those faces as much as I was interested in aging the characters themselves...So don't expect Wonderwoman or Xena to look like Linda Carter or Lucy Lawless in their 80s. That isn't the point itself of this project.

Moving on...

Prints Galore!


In the tatami natural paper, I've made editions of ten of each lady, which will remain untouched as a lithograph. I've also made editions of five on this brown linen wrapper paper over which I will screen some text under each figure as well as collage on their costumes. Yep, that's the plan, anyway.


Snow White.


Wonder Woman.

Moving on...


Xena, Warrior Princess and Princess Jasmine. I had done some nice tonal work on Princess Jasmine, that I ended up over-etching, which I am totally disappointed about. At the point that I was working on this stone, I was feeling overwhelmed by a seeming lack of time so I didn't try to counter-etch and redraw (which I would have to do later with another stone anyway), which I now regret, as I have no intention of "whitewashing" these characters, but I think what I will do, when all twelve women are completed in January, is go back in and give some colour to every woman with some hand tinting. I'll either go with a pochoir or pastel technique or maybe some watercolour. I'm going to have to test how those mediums will work out with my paper first though.




Princess Jasmine


Xena, Warrior Princess.

A new stone, a new set of drawings...



Introducing Storm, Vixen and Pocahontas:



Once again, due to using a pencil that wasn't greasy enough, when I went to do a second etch, all the skin colour I did came right off. What a horrible limitation of an artist; who can't portray colours of skin! Bullshit! What a weird way for racism and art techique to collide. Calling myself on my own bullshit--this having happened before with attempts with tusches and cross-hatching--I decided to take a step-back, counter-etch, redraw and carefully etch yet again. There was no way I was gonna let this mistake go uncorrected.

So here I go again...


Time for a brand new etching...


And now, to introduce Max Gueverra (Dark Angel) and Foxy Brown:

Yes...I've been double-stoning...




Dark Angel


Foxy Brown.

I'll be printing off these two stones over the next couple of days, barring me running out of paper, anyway. The second etches on the last two stones seem to have come out okay so far, and my images look pretty stable, so I'm hoping for the best.

Because I've had some issues with the etching of skin colour (recently and even in past projects) I've also been thinking about how fucked-up it is that many of today's notions of race are predicated on skin colour, making it so monolithic with no nuances. Such an obvious observation, yes I know. But I can't help think that notions of "people of colour" is that...colour and not colours, not to mention all the politics, history and social practices that we attach to this notion...What scares me about this project is the potential for merely reproducing hegemonic notions about race, gender and age and how freaking easy it would be to do so...and I wonder for myself, how many people would really care to notice if all I did do was re-produce and not venture into something critical...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

No Poppy for the Forgotten

The year that I stopped feeling comfortable wearing a poppy was 2001. My change in attitude towards the poppy had everything to do with the “Post 9/11” political drama playing out under George Bush. It might have also had everything to do with reaching a certain level of maturity which solidified my political sympathies.

Immediately after 9/11, like everyone else, I felt shocked that the US had been attacked. I was amazed that such a thing had happened in my lifetime. It took, however, maybe two days (tops) before I started returning to my regular sentiment about the United States: serves them right.

Now, lest there be some poor survivor or family of a victim reading this, I’m not saying “serves the people within the tower right”, because it doesn’t, and yes, it was very tragic for people involved. I’m saying “serves the United States right” because of the way that they have been bullying around in the world arena. Conversely, the media’s sentiment on the attacks was “Everything changes now” about the rolling-back of rights in the United States (and, yes, up here in Canada too, for wherever big brother Sam goes, we must stupidly follow…) and, once the blame had been assigned, then the lead up to the attacks in Afghanistan, followed the very soon after by the attacks in Iraq.

How this all relates to me wearing (or not wearing) a poppy is that around that November there was plenty of “still we must protect our freedom” and “we still stand strong against the enemies of democracy” and, then, most despicably, the whole “axis of evil” bullshit. I do support wearing a poppy in remembrance of the veterans who went away to the World Wars. I do feel that, in the western world, the two World Wars were an incredibly large turning point in our history (although in hindsight, they really were just one war, weren’t they?). I have, since learning about the Holocaust, felt that World War II, in particular was a “just war”, if such a thing exists. I’ll even support wearing a poppy in remembrance of veterans from the war in Vietnam to an extent – because in the end, they got fucked almost half as bad as the Vietnamese did, and a great number of them weren’t there by choice. But I must draw the line when “remembrance” is extended to the current wars that the US (and, by extension, Canada) are involved in. And the propagandistic mix-up of rhetoric about these “wars”, as unjust as the Vietnam “war” was, and the World Wars and the connection to “protecting democracy and freedom” just ruins the poor poppy. Add the bullshit of the entirety of the Cold War to the mix - where western nations supported numerous brutal dictatorships over democratic socialist or communist parties to keep a death grip on the world - and I'm about ready to vomit.

I don’t classify myself as a complete pacifist. I do feel that war, however, should be avoided at almost all costs, engaged in under two circumstances: the first being when another country attacks yours, the second being when another country is engaging in genocide or other serious human rights infringements.

That really wasn’t the case… you could argue that the Taliban or Saddam Hussein were spitting on human rights, but the wars that followed were quite obviously about profit for big business. And it’s not exactly like the western countries involved (for it really isn’t all just Uncle Sam’s fault, we’re all as responsible) were being subtle when they ran straight for the oil wells. The US even lied to its own citizens to get people to support the war. And it’s not like the United States and its gang of back-up bullies are respecting human rights any better than the previous regimes (women may/may not be doing a little better, but our media really couldn’t care less about the civilian livelihoods whenever one or two of our home boys get killed). The sexually-charged abuse of prisoners-of-war by American soldiers ought to prove that. The fact that torture is an ongoing occurrence at Guantanamo Bay ought to prove that (why hasn't there been any real international outrage here?). Consider the death count of every single war waged in the middle east right now – although the media mourns wildly when one of our good boys from home gets killed, it forgets to mention that five or more people from [read Afghanistan, read Iraq, read Palestine in the case of Israel, read Vietnam if you want to be historical]. These are not equal wars. Our veterans were fighting wars where they had about the same risk level as their enemies. Today, our soldiers are fighting wars where they are in a considerably safer place. And, yes, they do still get killed sometimes. And that is hard on their families. But what about the people they are killing? Have we forgotten that Afghans and Iraqis are people too? Remember: wars are made for killing people. One should not be surprised if someone gets killed in active duty. It's WAR. That's the way war works!

How can I wear a poppy, then, without a hint of irony, the symbol of “lest we forget” when we have completely forgotten any lessons we claim to have learned from the past wars? How can I honour the achievements of old veterans when new veterans are knocking them down unceremoniously? There is no "honour" in any war, let alone a war where one side has a "smart bombs" and much deeper pockets.

The poppy itself isn’t so innocent a symbol as I once felt it was, either. Although it is a beautiful symbol, the poem, Flanders Fields does not reflect any real desire to somehow avoid war. Nay!, in the last stanza it so clearly states:
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. (McCrae 1915)

So, basically, the poppy is a symbol of a poem encouraging us to carry on the fight. And that distresses me. World War I was completely senseless. The only reason that World War II was not completely senseless was that it put an end to the slaughter of millions of people. Of course, however, not a single country stepped in on the behalf of the Jewish people, nor any other group victimized by the Nazis. Britain and France did not move until Poland, their ally was swallowed up by Germany. The United States, for all its flaunting ideals of “freedom” and “democracy” didn’t bother to lift a finger until it was attacked itself (and although the Japanese empire was not innocent of human rights violations, I do believe they were fully justified in attempting to take on the Americans at that time; the Americans were trying to bully them into submission).

Don’t tell me to remember the lessons you’ve already forgotten. The symbol of the poppy leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The hypocrisy of it. How dare we wear such a symbol when we attack innocent countries? How dare we wear such a symbol when we allow genocide and human rights infringements to continue on unabated around the globe for our own profit? How dare we? How dare we wear this symbol, sport “support our troops” ribbons and proclaim that we need an army for protection when we have not needed to defend our own borders (not since our dear neighbours the States attacked us at least) for almost two centuries? When we do not use our army for useful things? Sure, the Canadian army says that it is a “peacekeeping” army, but our mission in Afghanistan is no longer “peacekeeping”. How dare we, when we allow our “friends” to ignore basic human rights, for example, the United States’ “secret prisons” where they happily submit suspects to a witch-hunt torture system to prove terrorist allegations? How dare we look the other way when our own economic system is reliant on stomping other nations down, looking the other way as our very own corporations take away the sovereignty of other countries, violating basic human rights in the process? (Don't look the other way when the World Trade Organization and the World Bank are involved, because they enable these atrocities, as well as give us a bloody leg up.) And Israel, the most bitter of all ironies, which has proven the trauma of Holocaust survivors by allowing them to treat Palestinians almost as poorly as the Nazis treated them? How can we still hold our heads up, let alone wear a symbol saying “lest we forget”?

How dare we, again: we remember our veterans, but have not a word to say to the victims: the survivors of not only the Holocaust, but both victims and survivors of the nuclear bombs. Yes, we have memorial days, but on no such scale as that for the veterans. And no, still, I am not saying we should forget our veterans. I am saying we should also remember that every war has its civilian victims. Not only military victims, but consequences for the unfortunate, and truly innocent civilians who were not fighting the war. Yet they are forgotten.

The final thing that really bugs me about Remembrance Day is the unfortunate timing of it. Ironically, the armistice signed on November 11th was not a very good armistice. It was an unfair treaty, condemning Germany to poverty; creating the sort of situation that allows for an extremist leader such as Adolf Hitler rise to power. Consider how impoverished desperate situations leads to extremism in much of the middle east today, especially. Do you think people who are leading comfortable lives will turn to such violence easily? People who are content are not easily swayed towards violence. People who have little to nothing to lose because of desperate situations, however, will turn to violent actions because they know they cannot continue living as they are. If we are to remember something on November 11th, perhaps it should be the dooming sentence we forced down upon Germany that ultimately led to the outbreak of World War II.

I do not want to downplay the role our veterans played in our history. I do, however, want to separate the differences between the wars then and the wars now. There is a difference. I want people to remember that there are two sides to every war, at least, often more, and there are always innocent victims. In fact, the number of innocent victims in any war has been going up continuously since the advent of "modern warfare" (pretty much World War I and after). While we honour our veterans, we should not forget: World War II was won only when the US dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - a nuclear bomb on civilians, not soldiers. Today, we "remember" the lessons learned, but we still allow numerous countries to hoard nuclear weapons. We still look the other way in the case of genocides. We look the other way, for that matter, in the case of a much more mundane killer: the poverty that our own nations force upon many third world nations. We forget that "the other side" (and is there ever really an evil other side?) is being killed too. And we forget that in both Afghanistan and Iraq, we are the aggressors. Sorry, guys. We're not the heroes anymore. We're not liberating people from concentration camps, we're not helping anyone any more. We've simply torn down the existing political structure and now we wonder why there is chaos and anarchy.

Remember that war is much more complex than "Lest we forget". Even World War I and II, it is far more complicated than the good "us" and the evil "them". And until we can figure that out as a society, I won't be wearing a poppy for Remembrance Day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Angry Mulroney Rant

Ok, so I really should have posted this a few days ago when the article was in the paper, about how fucking "Right Honourable" Brian Mulroney swindled lawsuit money out of the federal government for alleging that he had a part in a fraud case that he said he didn't have a part in but turns out he did...

I really really want to start a petition to exile him. Like, force him to give up his Canadian citizenship and ban him from our country. He's a fucking traitor! He sold us out to the American corporations with the Free Trade Agreement. He swindles the government for his own monetary gain. At the very least he should lose the "Right Honourable" title granted to all Prime Ministers. I mean, GAWD, Jean Cretien started bar fights and is a more decent person! Stephen Harper is a fucking robot and scares the SHIT out of me, but I still hold more respect for him. (Well, respect in that we don't really know exactly what he's up to yet. He still really fucking scares me.) This is about as nationalistic as I will get: someone who so totally betrays his or her nation from a position of such power, should face consequences. But then again, I suppose it does not befit us to go up against someone who has so much money for lawyers, and therefore can get off of every charge thrown at him.

The other thing about this is the fact that if he was a liberal ex-PM and the Liberals were in power the press would be ALL THE FUCK OVER THIS. But here's a Conservative ex-PM doing fucking outrageous acts of ridiculous greed (he's already too rich for his own greedy-ass good) during a Conservative government and the media kindly turn head. I mean, this should blow up. Like, it should blow up like "Dumbledore's gay" big. 'Cause you know, what Dumbledore's doing in his fictional bedroom means more to us than what our Prime Minister is doing with our TAX MONEY. You know, the money that's supposed to somehow make its way to benefiting Canada. You know, our country.

FUCK. I hope Brian Mulroney regrets his life. Somehow, I hope he looks back and realizes: "Oh, I'm a greedy fucker. How terrible a person I've been." But we all know he has too much money for regrets.

So, instead, I hope he goes bankrupt and is forced to spend a miserable, lonely end to his life on welfare.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Art Progress Report

Okay, so that proposal was submitted some time ago, and this project is due in a couple of weeks. I have to admit I've stagnated BIG TIME with it, in part at frustrations with my drawing abilities but mostly due to ideological insecurity surrounding certain issues that I noticed as I was working on imagery. I decided to reach out to Carmen at Racialious for some help. She posted my email for me today on the blog, and it generated quite a response, so I'm re-posting my email here. I've also decided to use that email, and it's resulting comments as my artist statement for this project, since one of the aims of this project was to start a dialogue about the subject in question. I can only hope my final results will yield as much discussion as my email did over at Racialious.
Hi Carmen,

I am a visual arts/women’s studies student in Toronto, Canada. I am emailing you in the hopes of generating some advice or reference material about how to address some issues I am coming across with an art project I am working on.

My project is about the lack of visibility of aging women and also how in Western iconography of women, vitality and strength are directly linked to their attractiveness and youth. So my idea was to take fictional, iconic female characters, i.e. Wonder Woman, Buffy, Xena, Catwoman and so on, and age them with their costumes intact, and hopefully also, their dignity and the wisdom I like to think that comes with age. I have these subcategories: Film/T.V, Fairytales (which is really Disney depictions–which for some reason kind of irks me that as visual, recognizable icons they all come from there), Superheroines.

My issue is that many of the icons I am referencing are white (as am I), and while I am addressing the invisibility of aging women, I don’t want to in turn make invisible women of colour in my project. In my women’s studies degree, which informs most of my art, we talk often of how race/ism is made invisible or ignored or not properly considered in both canonical academic discourse and pop culture: I don’t want to contribute to that. I can actually come up with a number of Black-American icons to depict: Catwoman (who I am actually on the fence about after researching since there have been so many incarnations of her, far more of them white than Black), Storm from the X-Men, Foxy Brown (Pam Grier) and so on. But again, I don’t want to address racial inclusivity as either token or as simply about black and white.

I have thought about including some more Disney characters as I am already including Cinderella and Snow White (particularly because of the idea of aging them potentially puts them on the same side as their stepmothers they so revile): Mulan, Jasmine from Aladden, Pocahontas–but this does not seem satisfactory to me. Particularly Pocahontas, as she is based on a real figure straight out of colonial history–there are many issues of racism that come attached with her that could not go without addressing. I thought too about the character of Miss Saigon but again I think there are political issues there too that I’m not sure how to deal with. I am adding text to these images that will describe these women’s lives as I have aged them–I could address racial issues there. But how? Who else can I use? How do I address why I am having trouble coming up with iconic characters of colour or the overwhelming whiteness of my project? How can I make the issues of gender, age and race/ism intersect in this project? Can you recommend to me some resources I can look into? Recommend some iconic characters even that I am just being blind to?

I’m sorry if I am coming across as ignorant but I really feel like I need to address this in my project, especially since it is about the visibility and iconography of (Western) women. I’m just not quite sure how to go about it.

Thank you for your time;

Maureen.


Pictures of the actual work I am doing will be up shortly as I finish up this project. I realize now that it will never be perfect, but I am making an earnest effort to make some art that is meaningful and that at least attempts to work through the issues I mentioned in the email.

Original Post Here.

Art Progess Report:Army of Age (Tentative Title)

It's my last year at York as an undergrad, and also potentially my last chance working in a print studio for an unknown time. So I've decided to document my process this year, as I work on my art projects, which are completely informed by what I learn in the Women's Studies portion of my degree.

Any other authors on this site should feel free to do the same =)

I'll try to do this in small-ish posts so they are readable and not too overwhelming. So I'll start with my artist proposal in this post, that I had to submit earlier this year.
Taking inspiration from pop culture images of women such as superheroes, fairy-tale heroines, villains and other icons, this semester I wish to explore both the invisibility of aging women in visual mass media, and the direct link to youth and sexual appeal that these iconic women of strength, like Wonder Woman and Xena, Warrior Princess must maintain for their popularity. What I would like to do then, is to dedicate my time in next few months, re-drawing these women, the Supergirls and Catwomen, in the image of my (or anyone’s) grandmother. I want to see what happens to the vitality of these sexy crime-fighters, fairy tale princesses and vengeance-seekers when I age them to about eighty years old. What becomes of their power when their youthful appeal slips away as they age like the rest of us? What becomes of their costumes, designed more to catch the eye than to meet the practical requirements of their work? Do these characters become ridiculous when they age? If yes, then why is that so?
It seems to me that we are surrounded by a cultural climate that does not like to see women age. We praise actresses and pop stars, as they get older, for their ability to keep approximating youthfulness. As well, actions that are seen as liberating in our youth become silly in old age. It seems like women’s strength, even in positive pop cultural images remains attached to the way women look, and the way that they look must always be appealing. What I would like to do then, is to take various well known characters from comic books (Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Sailor Moon), t.v./film (Foxy Brown, Charlie’s Angels, Buffy, Xena), fairy tales/legends (Cinderella, Snow White, Pocahontas) and so on and make various series of lithographic portraits of themselves as the elderly women of our society. I am interested also in how their stories must change as I age them. Will Snow White become the Wicked Step-Mother she spent her youth fleeing from? Will anyone want to see Wonder Woman in her halter-top costume when she is eighty years old? Will these new images I create be able to maintain any element of these women’s past feisty-ness?
I plan to print multiple images of these elderly women and superimpose their costumes through the stenciling process of pochoir. I would like to find a way to work some text, perhaps the continuing saga of these women’s lives into the work, though I am not quite sure yet how I will do so. Currently, I am reading Barbara G. Walker’s The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power in order to work out the direction I may want to take their stories. As well, I will be conducting further research into the stories and ideologies that already exist around these characters. I want to make large and varied editions of my elderly heroines and fantasy figures so when they are displayed, not only do they overtake the viewer’s visual plane, these older women are no longer rendered invisible.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Ladyfest: Has Come and Gone...



And I realize I took forever to post about it...yeah, I'm over a month late with a post, but here we go, FINALLY, cuz I did take me a lot of pictures.

May I remind you, I'm a printmaker and not a photographer lest ye judge my photo-aesthetic sensibility. Cool?

Here we go:

While Ladyfest was set for four days of feminist fun, I was only able to attend the day that I was part of, despite all-access passes due to work and school obligations. So while I would love to be sitting here, writing about Allyson Mitchell's films and the many other performances and workshops I would have loved to be there for, this review is limited to the art show on Saturday, September 29th, 2007.

Yep, another post about me.

:P

Nonetheless, I did stick around for most of the performances and checked out ALL of the art so I can speak of others as well as myself.


So initially, things were worrisome, due to a fire in the Kapisanan Centre, where the art show was supposed to have taken place the night before. Fortunately, we didn't set up our art the night before, so no one's artistic accomplishments parished in tragic fate, and we relocated to St.Stephen's. Not only were my often-naked images available to be seen by an all-ages audience, but I got to show my hairy girls installation, "The Electric Furr" in a freakin' church!

Awesome!
Hey, I've never made any claims to maturity...

Here are my ladies...



I know that as an artist, I'm supposed to always be confident about my work and never betray any misgivings about it. But I am weak, and of low self-esteem when it comes to art. I love these images, don't get me wrong. However, I have to admit, I'm not too crazy about how I ended up putting them together. I sewed black thread into some of the images, and that comprimised some of my prints so they looked crinkled, as well I feel like I never resolved properly the issue of display with my hairy girls that I re-drew from FHM magazine (as seen in the first two images above). Okay, I've aired it out, I feel better now, and I'm gonna do better this year.

That being said, I am proud of my stories in this piece.

And quite frankly, I'm actually pretty shocked that I have the nerve to call myself an artist in this post. Muahahaha.





The intent for this project was for people to read my narratives surrounding body hair, as told in lithographic form, but to also be able to move the velcro-text panels around to create their own. But alas, the new location forbade any nail-banging into the walls, so my panels had to be gingerly placed against the walls, disallowing the audience interaction I was going for. Fortunately, I still managed to get a response out of people, however passive it was limited to...


Now on to the rest of the show

Featuring the music of:

123TEN


This was the first act me and the boy caught. We were late due to traffic on College St, making a normally 15 minute ride over forty minutes long. However, we were just in time for these ladies.

I have to admit, I was caught a little off guard by their style. Unpolished, yet totally fearless, initially this band had my boy, an experienced musician and performer, with his jaw dropping. Featuring pre-recorded sound, and three young women jumping and singing like Napolean Dynamite was their hero (probably amongst a pile of fierce women heroes too), 123TEN was probably the most creative musical display I've seen in a long time. I had stepped out for a minute to place a phonecall to my boss, and by the time I came back in, this band won my boy's heart with their infectuous tunes. I was surprised, mostly because of his usual musical snobbery. But 123TEN certianly owned it by the end of their set.

Rae Spoon


He stole my heart. I'm not usually one for country-folk, but his melancholy and sardonic flavour reeled me in. What a haunting voice! Here my music snob boy companion too was impressed by the prowess of Spoon's guitar skills; me, he just stole me away from my seat as he alternated between song and anecdote. Part of this festival as a transgender artist, Rae Spoon was my favourite act of the night, and I hope to see him perform again soon.

Forest City Lovers


This was a pretty tight band. Wonderful musicians with a sound that reminded me of Feist and Sarah Harmer. They were pleasant to listen to, and combined with all the musical acts that we managed to catch, were part of a power house lineup of Ladyfest talent. In fact, after this show, it makes me mad to still see the prevalent attitude of the music industry, wherein a lineup this gender-diverse is still not the norm.

And of course, the artists:


What I love about taking part in events like these is meeting other artists outside of the classroom, making connections both artistically and intellectually and sharing each other's work. I'm proud to say that so far, my [limited] experience in the art world has been collective rather than competitive. Here is where I also found a feminist politic more readily available.

Meagan O'Shea



She is an established Toronto-based performance artist who was participating not only in Ladyfest that night but also Nuit Blanche. Her work "Something Blue" featured a discourse about divorce; particularly from the perspective of women, culminating from her own recent experiences with it. Originally a performance piece, for Ladyfest, O'Shea had only displayed the wedding dress she had designed and made (from various women's dresses) for the show. Sewn into the dress were recordings of women's stories about their divorces for which O'Shea had provided a listening station so that the audience could hear them. It was a beautiful dress, and a moving piece. I wish I could have seen her performing this work, but I made due with the installation.

Nicole Stoffman





I actually spent a bit of time talking with Nicole. (It was a pleasure, and thank you for the song recommendation, if you happen to be reading this!) Her work is titled "The Topless Metropolis" and featured a series of postcards wherein the artist posed topless with some of Toronto's finest graffitti. I took quite a few home with me, so some people should be expecting some racy cards in the mail soon...muahahaha...I really enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek nature of these cards. While totally describing the cheesy nature of the cheese-cake city postcard, Stoffman's cards transformed them into a literally naked appreciation for her city, while owning the control of her body within it. At least, that's how I read it...

That is in fact me being a perv while browsing through Nicole's display...muahahaha...

Tamiko Winter



Winter's work featured a disruption of the nude photograph with splashes of paint. As such, it begs the viewer to make a closer inspection of the poses represented. Aligning her work with an examination of the performance of the model, Winter invites us into some pretty private, and potentially provocative moments. I think it would have been interesting to see how this work could be potentially transformed by a printmaking process such as photo-intaglio, and maybe some poignant text would have forced the viewer into understanding the performance aspect of it a little more, but I do appreciate the amount of herself that Winter put into this work. Definitely a thought provoking work surrounding the constantly contested issues of female nudity.

***

So that's my review. I had a great time, and it was definitely an important experience for me in terms of learning where my art fits in but also in collective activism. I didn't love how my art had to be displayed, but the circumstances were understandable (though my critical self also disallows me from ever loving how my art comes out totally anyway...all I do is pick out how some parts don't work out as well as others...sigh). Next year, whether I participate or not, I will definitely be making a more valiant effort to attend more of the planned events. Ladyfest forever!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

On the topic of news...

These are actually two posts from another blog:

24 October 2007 @ 02:25 pm
Oh My God! Buy More Potter Crap if you're Gay!

Yesterday, I was disgusted.

Oui, oui, je sais. How surprising. Quelle suprise. I am so easily disgusted. So often disgusted. Perhaps I just have a low tolerance to disgust. Perhaps I am not suited for this.

I was disgusted because yesterday, I picked up the Toronto Star (yes, the Toronto Star) which as we all know is at least a semi-serious newspaper with in-slight-depth news articles. I opened the paper, the front page, to get to the index. There, on page A3, which is a very prominant page, because of where it is placed, you cannot skip A3 if you intend to read your paper, was a PAGE-SIZED ARTICLE on how apparently Dumbledore might be gay. (Ok, so it's really more a half-page coupled with other "Gay Rumours in Literature" and a 1/3 of the page going to an ad for some stupid rich person's watch).

No, nevermind anything else in the world. Anything else in the fucking city. STOP THE FUCKING PRESSES! BECAUSE A FUCKING HARRY POTTER CHARACTER MIGHT BE GAY. This was an entire fucking page worth of speculation based off of an off-the-cuff comment that J.K. Rowling made at a book signing about a fucking FICTIONAL CHARACTER. I know that many, many, many people hold the Harry Potter series in high regard (oftentimes higher regard than I believe it desserves) but why must we pretend that Harry Potter, nay, a Harry Potter sub-character is more important than: Dundas Square new home of Citytv or Family awaiting answers in dogs' shooting deaths or Educated people get dementia later but decline quicker: Research or Pedophiles tend to be short men, study finds, which were all on the next page?

Ok, so none of this is really what I feel is "serious news". Well, I feel sorry for the family that lost its dog, sure, but I don't give a shit about Citytv moving, I don't care if I get dementia faster later on in my life because I'm nowhere near that yet, and it's really too simplistic to pin pedophilia on short men alone. So maybe it's just that newspapers need some fucking help. Because, really, this isn't making me go "NEWS". The next page is about new Taxlaws in Toronto. That would be more important news. Then there's a bunch of trivial and serious Toronto crap and then a bit about Canada's Peacekeeping Stance questioned real brief-like in the back... That and also Canadian soldiers being douchy in Afghanistan, but really, that's not trendy in the news stories anymore.

Ok, so, still. With all this stuff going on, WHY DO WE GIVE A SHIT ABOUT A HARRY POTTER CHARACTER BEING (MAYBE) GAY? I mean, the books are out, you've read them, you can make your own assumptions, and DOES THIS CHANGE ANYONE'S LIFE? Like, does this actually make a difference in the world? I open the paper and I'm actually more interested in things like global conflicts that we don't hear about (like Israel marching into Syria sort of deal, wait, was that actually in the news?). In the Toronto Star, the "A" section doesn't cover that, only the "AA" or "World" section. But I'm pretty sure there's a hell of a lot more going on in TORONTO itself than J.K. Rowling saying "I always thought of Dumbledore as gay" in (wait for it, wait for it) NEW YORK. Or somewhere. Where ever she was, she wasn't here, so there were no dramatic Harry Potter fans running round the streets going "OH MY GOD!" causing accidents and bodily harm and such.

All I'm saying is: PLEASE WORLD. GET THE FUCK OVER HARRY POTTER ALREADY. If you're going to be coo-coo over some piece of fiction, please, choose a piece of fiction that has at the very least spent enough time in an editor's office.

All I'm REALLY trying to say is: PLEASE WORLD. GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE REAL WORLD AND NOT A PIECE OF FICTION, BE IT FILMED OR WRITTEN. Like, who cares if Dumbledore might be gay. That doesn't change things in the world. Gays, etc. are still getting one of the many short ended sticks. Oh, wait, this just in, no, their stick is a long one because Dumbledore is now on their side.


27 October 2007
Re: Oh My God! Buy More Potter Crap if you're Gay!
So, apparently page A3 in the Toronto Star is NOT a news page.

On Thursday there was a huge article on how to barter for things. You know, shop cheaper? Now, I don't have anything against bartering (although I do think there is a time and a place for it) but one of the last things that people here need is: How to buy more stuff!

Oh my God! Buy more crap if you're breathing!

My last entry was not to just hate on Harry Potter, although I find a large enough group of its fan-base so irritating that it's incredibly tempting... but the way that our news system works is so problematic. Now, I know that there's a lot of crap going on in the world, and you can't represent all of it at any given time... but newspapers could do a lot more than what they are doing now. But news is becoming a form of entertainment too, and you can tell by the pictures they choose...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Alas, another great post link...

Feminisms for everyone at ALAS:

Feminism is not your expectation

Great post, with links to all sorts of good stuff.

Try keeping feminism/s in your little box NOW! I dare ya!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Shakesville MRA Post

The post that keeps on giving!

It came out a week or two ago, but the comment thread keeps on keeping on, and since it's a post that I both enjoyed and found made the arguments against the concept of the "MRA" (Men's Rights Activist: aka Patriachy aka Completely Nothing To Even Remotely Do With Even Those People Who Would Rather Claim To Be 'Humanists' Then Feminists')perfectly, I think I'd like a permanent link to the post on my blog. I know I'm not the only one who linked to it: so go check it out!

What's MRA?

So yes, I still haven't posted Ladyfest/Zinefest reviews, but I consider this a decent sidetrack, don't you?

Update, Anyone?

I'm trying to keep up. I WANT to keep up! I like the idea of this blog as a record of my life, my questions, my reflections, as well as anyone else's, and whatever else is going on in the world outside of me.

(I'm not always about me me me, as re-reading my previous statements seem to suggest).

So yes, Ladyfest came and went, and I've yet to post a review, though I had a great time, and took tonnes of pictures.

And the WARC 'Zinefest passed as well. All summer I meant to post about my volunteer time there, and didn't...then meant to post my reflection of my time there following Zinefest...and didn't...


and now my phone rings...


I'll be back.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

From the Inbox: Upcoming Film Event (Toronto, On)

This just in, from my women's studies listserv:


Join us at the National Film Board Mediatheque for the Toronto premiere of Nomad's Land, followed by an intimate panel discussion Wednesday October 17 at 7PM!

When Claire Corriveau's husband joined the Air Force, she soon discovered her needs were subordinate to those of the Canadian Armed Forces. Her first film, Nomad's Land, is a powerful look at the hard existence of military wives, women who inherit a lifestyle that is often lonely and isolated, as they find themselves forced to move repeatedly, with little control over their lives.

Join us for this explosive documentary on Wednesday October 17 at 7PM with director Claire Corriveau, Dr. Margrit Eichler, Professor, University of Toronto, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, Dr. Deborah Harrison, Adjunct Professor, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and Rebecca Christie, St Lawrence College.

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 17
7PM
FREE ADMISSION

NFB MEDIATHEQUE
150 JOHN ST (at RICHMOND ST W)
TORONTO
416-973-3012
www.nfb.ca/mediatheque

Sounds like an interesting film, but alas once again my academic studies ironically thwart me from attending. I have a class at that time, and I can't skip it because I have a presentation to do for it that day. Boo.

Voting Day in Ontario!

P.S Everybody who can (and should!), go vote today!

It's Election Day for the provincial government of Ontario, fuckers! GO VOTE ALREADY! I'm on my way.

I myself am not particularly crazy about any candidate, but neither am I crazy about the idea of giving up the chance to have some sort of say.

Today is also the referendum over electoral reform: do we keep "first past the post" or do we switch "to mixed member proportional" (MMP)?

I've considered both: I realize that it seems like you're losing representation by not specifically voting in the officials who will make up the seats that the MMP takes up, but I've decided that the good of MMP outweighs the criticisms. With MMP, the popular vote will finally actually represent the way we voted versus with the number of seats actually won, and parties like the NDP and The Green Party may actually be given a real chance to truly mix up the government practice. A lot of people have decried that MMP means there will never be a majority government, but I'm okay with that. I'm for a government that works together with a cross section of beliefs and ideas; I've never been crazy about bi-partisanship, and hopefully we can get the best of every party this way. I know this idealistic of me, but any naysayers of electoral change in the form of MMP would do good to remember that we've yet to come across a system of government where corruption hasn't been a feature. So why be so fearful of something new?

Disagree with me?

THEN GO VOTE NOW!

Should You Be Male or Female?

Ripped off from Daisy's Dead Air:


Should you be MALE or FEMALE?*
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Either

You brain is neither specifically male, nor female in the way you perceive your surroundings. As bad as this may sound to some, it can easily mean that you are capable of combining both gender aspects to your advantage. Rather than being genderless you are possibly able think freely. This does not mean that you are bisexual or androgynous or indecisive, but it might.

Either

75%

Female

50%

Male

39%

Neither

29%

Seems kind of a ridiculous question for someone who believes that men and women are social constructs, but I can dig this answer.