The rise of ‘eco-anxiety’ in an Extinction Rebellion era

In the midst of the US President’s continued active denial of climate change and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s unclear stance on the issue, we sit in the most brutally severe heatwave we’ve had since 1911. It’s easy for anybody to feel discouraged and anxious about the environmental trajectory.

As a student or young person, there are a lot of things in life that tend to make us feel anxious. The looming dread of adulthood, rising rent prices, feeling lost about what you’re going to do with your life, Brexit, the temperature, the temperature, the temperature.

The warmth was nice for a little while but isn’t it getting a little, I don’t know, excessive? And people are protesting at the Houses of Parliament? And stripping naked in the House of Commons? And protesting outside the houses of MPs? Who are the Extinction Rebels?

The full notion of the tragedy that is climate change is unravelling before our eyes. And it’s extremely overwhelming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, we have 12 years to fix the crisis. However, a recent BBC article argues that the next 18 months are absolutely vital to acting on our global warming crisis.

According to environment correspondent Matt McGrath, the loss of biodiversity “threatens to unravel the planetary web of life.” One million species are at risk of extinction and human civilisation faces total collapse if radical changes to our socioeconomic system are not made now.

For some people, climate change may feel like an inevitable event that is totally out of our control. For others, the knowledge of this can be overwhelming to the point where they feel powerless.

Yet, since the pioneering 16-year-old Greta Thunberg popularised the climate strikes late last year, the awareness surrounding just how dire the climate crisis is has risen and become more pressing. This has been good for action and productivity, especially with social media becoming a catalyst for global issues and bringing them to the forefront. Many countries, including the UK, have subsequently declared climate emergencies.

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Image Credit: World Economic Forum via Flickr

In one of her most powerful speeches to British MPs, condemning their stance on climate change, Greta said, “You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. “You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in the solutions that will enable you to carry on like before.”

However, being aware of the current state of the environment doesn’t come without compromise. In this case, it’s towards your mental health – it has a name and, most notably, it’s nothing new. The group that this disorder tends to heavily affect are indigenous communities that live close to the equator as well as those that depend on the natural environment, who can experience disproportionate mental health impacts.

Climate anxiety is a relatively recent phenomenon, but the concern is spreading. The phrase doesn’t have an official meaning, yet variations to the definition exist; such as the broader description explaining it as the “worry or agitation caused by concerns about the present and future state of the environment”.

Eco-anxiety, then, is ultimately having a strong feeling of unease surrounding ecological disasters and threats to the natural environment, such as pollution and climate change. An issue that doesn’t only show physical symptoms, such as insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability and panic attacks, but also the results of a constructive or adaptive reaction associated with pro-environmental attitudes and actions.

A very small number of mental health professionals in the UK have begun to mobilise against the phenomenon, but there are plenty of online forums and support groups gaining momentum.

Whether you’re feeling the heat of eco-anxiety or not, here are just a few simple steps that can help make a difference if you are feeling resigned to climate change doom. As we all know, charity begins at home and no man is an island, yet if we all collectively commit to these small acts, the world will ultimately become a better place. Plus we’d be doing our girl Greta proud.

RECYCLE – Use different bins for different things. Compost, plastics and glass should NOT be going in the same bin.
GO ‘SORT OF’ VEGAN – If you’re not vegan, I am not going to shame you into cutting meat from your diet entirely. However, I will encourage you to eat less pork and beef, and eat more food that uses fewer protein sources, i.e. organic soy.
PACKAGING – A recent viral internet thing has happened where people are calling out supermarkets for their unnecessary amount of plastic use. Think about packaging before you buy products.
BE PROACTIVE – Look around you. If you see rubbish on the floor, pick it up. Encourage your local community to do more. Or at least tell your friends, family and whoever you want to do their piece.

If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder or panic attacks, visit your local GP or wellbeing service to find out how you can be supported. For more information, visit Mind.

An album guide for when you’re going through it

This is more of a laid back July post. So right now we’re sitting in my least favourite season, summer. Yes, you read me correctly- summer is my least favourite season as I’ve mentioned previously in other blogposts. Anyway, the last couple of months have been rather tumultuous for me to say the least. There have been significant changes going on in my life and everything is spread messily like when you’re rearranging clothes in your closet resulting in a huge mess across your bedroom but then you know it will be tidy again, eventually? You understand what I mean?

Even as we speak, I’m writing this at a hostel in central New York after a totally bizarre yet fun night with a few strangers that I met along the way, but whatever it is that’s going on in your life that is making you feel anxious or stressed, one of the best methods for recovery (at least I have found) has always been through music. Corny and unoriginal? Sure, but it’s totally true. Whether it’s a tough break up or rejection from an opportunity that you really wanted, music is a brilliant way of helping you go through the motions of false confidence, happiness, sadness and everything more.

That being said, I have curated a playlist of just some of my favourite albums that I play for when I’m “going through it”. In other words, the phrase is a vague yet also a very specific way of referring to the aftermath of a temporary yet crappy event that’s taken place. As a mUsiC jOuRnALiSt, I decided to include various album genres from different eras that are important to me and my overall personal healing. Listen away folks and I hope this helps you too in some shape or form !!

 

Tyler, the Creator- IGOR

In his review, famous music YouTuber The Needle Drop described Tyler, the Creator as polarising and uncompromising. However, within this latest album IGOR– Tyler single-handedly debunked all of that. With heart wrenching lyrics and nostalgic riffs, Tyler not only compromised, but unashamedly gave himself way entirely. Facing the aftermath of an emotionally tumultuous relationship, he’s exhausted- which is a universal feeling. I get that this album is recent. Like really, really recent. So it’s a little soon to place it in such high esteem as one that makes you feel better above others, but it really does. This album got me through my personal troubles in more ways than I can describe as well as being one of the only albums I can listen to in full- front to back. And trust me, that’s a big deal for someone with ADD.

Tyler, the Creator- IGOR

 

Best Coast- Crazy for You

This is an album that instantly takes me back to my over-journaling-teen-angst “no one understands me” filled days. That was a lot of words in one sentence, but you get the drift (I’m functioning on little to no hours sleep here so please bare with me lol). What I would like to say about this album is that despite some of its themes, the instrumentals are playful and overall rather euphoric. I know the title says that the albums listed are for when you’re going through a tough time, but in my eyes it’s important to not entirely indulge or fetishise negative emotional anguish and rather just revel in the more positive ones. Crazy For You absorbs all the simple pleasures that Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino’s fills her life- from her cat, to snacks and the overall feeling of being in love, but through a dreamy 60’s lens. I think we should all take note and do the same.

Best Coast- Crazy For You

 

Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago

As well as the being the debut album of the indie-folk band Bon Iver; this was the first Justin Vernon record that I listened to in full. The project in it’s entirety oozes with feelings of isolation, loneliness and longing through acoustic strums and nature, while mirroring these are common emotions that are- especially throughout the summer. Especially during a break up. For context, taken from Pitchfork, which is what mostly inspired it. In 2005, Vernon’s former band DeYarmond Edison moved from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to North Carolina. As the band developed and matured in its new home, the members’ artistic interests diverged and eventually the group disbanded. While his band mates formed Megafaun, Vernon– who had worked with the Rosebuds and Ticonderoga– returned to Wisconsin, where he sequestered himself in a remote cabin for four snowy months. During that time, he wrote and recorded most of the songs that would eventually become For Emma, Forever Ago. Anyway, in summary, the album relishes in feelings of melancholy that replicates hope and joy, and feels just as vivid.

Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago

 

Lorde– Melodrama

From the moment I came across Lorde’s debut album Pure Heroine, I listened to it in it’s entirety throughout the challenging years which were my adolescence. After that, I spent the next four years thinking “When is Lorde gonna drop another album and save me from this hell…..its been 84 years……don’t get me wrong i would listen to 400 Lux till the end of my days but damn gurl where u been”. Then finally, something amazing happened- around this time two years ago, Melodrama dropped and so I haven’t been the same since. At least, emotionally. There is a consistent tenderness in Lorde’s vocals that transcends you into a calmer place of healing that you never want to return from, a state that is between tender daydreams and brutal awakenings. It’s an album that sends me to and from therapy, it’s night and day, an album that hits you then hugs really hard. I know I’m being dramatic but it is so, so true.

Lorde- Melodrama

 

Fleetwood Mac- Rumours

Last but certainly not least, I’m going to add the ‘going thru it’ super group themselves… Fleetwood Mac. Prior to the albums release, there was a shed ton of drama from cocaine, to heartbreak and totally lunacy. The context to this body of work is as tumultuous as it’s content, but a beautiful one at that. The musicians’ personal lives permanently fused within the grooves, and all who listened to Rumours become a voyeur to the painful, glamorous mess. Drama aside, Rumours is among the finest work the band ever produced. “We refused to let our feelings derail our commitment to the music, no matter how complicated or intertwined they became,” Fleetwood later wrote in his 2014 memoir, according to Rolling Stone Magazine, quote- “It was hard to do, but no matter what, we played through the hurt”. I’d conclude with a positive quote about learning to dance in the rain or something but we’ve gotten the general consensus now of this post. You’ll be fine.

Fleetwood Mac- Rumours

Djuna Barnes, gender trouble and lesbian desire

A piece exploring the impact of Djuna Barnes in queer literature. Originally posted on The National Student.

Dying on this day in 1982 at the age of 90, it’s difficult to say that the poet, artist and novelist didn’t live a significant life with impact within queer literature.

Djuna Barnes was at various times a poet, journalist, playwright, theatrical columnist and novelist who then liked to be called “The Barnes.” A recluse, the writer’s avant-garde and “most famous unknown” literary work won wide acclaim in the 1920’s and 30’s, was once a writing talent of the Lost Generation era. The tag the ‘Lost Generation’ came from a remark by Gertrude Stein to Ernest Hemingway when she said, “All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.”

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Barnes’ work was mostly given attention to by academic professors and students. Other than fitting within a the category of being a modernist text, she got kudos from writers like T.S. Eliot, who referred to her “a living genius”, as well as Dylan Thomas who called her works “one of the three major prose works by a woman” (probably a back-handed compliment). These comments were made alongside the praise of Graham Greene, Samuel Beckett, Janet Flanner, Lawrence Durrell, Kenneth Burke and Sir Herbert Read, and The Spectator compared Barnes to Virginia Woolf, declaring ”It is clear that a writer of genuine importance has made herself known to us.”

Even the New York Times referred to her as “The American Woolf”; the work is an important milestone on any map of gay literature – even though, like all the best books, its power makes a nonsense of any categorisation, especially of gender and sexuality, this anti-categorisation tendency in Barnes is perhaps due to the ways in which society pathlogizes differences.

Au Café, famous photo by Maurice Brange, depicting Solita Solano and Djuna Barnes in Paris, 1922

However, Barnes never kept it peaceful. Though her works have remained obscure to the broader reading public, she started earning notoriety, starting with a preformative piece the New York World Magazine, where she was force-fed to illustrate the fate of hunger-striking suffragettes, and the accompanying photo shows her stoically being held down by three men while a doctor snakes a tube up her nose.

She also began using herself as a pawn in what she called “My Adventures Being Rescued,” in which she put herself in peril at a firemen’s training session, hanging several stories up in a long black dress. Barnes became a regular on the set of the women’s boxing beat. Her writing is full of misfits, eccentrics, socialists, free thinkers, immigrants and the homeless.

Djuna Barnes was never cautious, and so, because ”Nightwood” in large part concerns a doomed lesbian love affair, the novel would be highly praised despite claiming to not even being gay. She was quick to offend without even checking on herself, while continuously breaking barriers.

“So love, when it has gone, taking time with it, leaves a memory of its weight.” – Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

Andrew Thomas Huang: nature, aliens and the resurrection of FKA Twigs

An interview with American-Chinese director Andrew Thomas Huang on collaborating with artists such as Björk and FKA Twigs, connecting to his heritage and finding inspiration within nature.

Andrew Thomas Huang is someone that has never been just regular, proving himself time and time again that he is a creative force within the art world and beyond. Expressing his passion and interests through a deep immersion of digitally-rendered figures, puppetry, fine prints and surreal live action performance; Andrew has cemented his mark as a truly unique and pioneering individual who is definitely worth keeping on your radar. Just ask J.J. Abrams. Seriously.

I actually reached out to Andrew a few days after a very recent and special project of his became popular, in which to my surprise he responded almost instantly with great enthusiasm!! But due to exams, planning my 3-month trip to America and other errands, I’ve had to unfortunately delay the publishing of this interview. However, we are finally here and this feature is something that I have been looking forward to getting out for such long time as I couldn’t get enough of his saturated and phantasmagoric visions; and so with that in mind, I spoke with the artist about the creative process behind Cellophane, reconnecting to his roots and finding inspiration within nature.

Image courtesy of Andrew Thomas Huang

Since graduating from the University of Southern California in Fine Art and Animation, he has become a master at intertwining futuristic elements of future folklore, ultramodern queer cyborg and mystical surrealism; ultimately creating a universe of his own. Andrew’s imagination began to run wild through elementary and middle school when he was first introduced to puppeteer Jim Henson and his iconic 80’s films such as The Muppets (duh!), The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth; which originally inspired him to begin playing with his video camcorder where he would start creating stop motion. As he got older he got more into the fantasy adventure franchise of Star Wars which then further inspired his work “I would watch the behind-the-scenes making of those movies and try and replicate the process on my own. I started learning Maya and After Effects in high school and got hooked on building my own worlds!” Being such a diverse creative who works across an array of mediums, his catalogue of pieces and instalments stretches far and wide, however, when it comes to his favourite type to work with, he tells me “I think puppetry is the best combination of everything – performance, dance, bringing inanimate things to life, while also being sculptural and craft-driven”.

After his successful debut Doll Face in 2007, he has brought forth many other moving pieces; from his nine-part video series titled Flesh Nest, which explores and constructs a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by digital immortals “It is essentially my sci-fi Fraggle-Rock inspired trash opera, and so I built this project around the concept of afterlife. I wanted instead to construct imagery that had the same efficiency, weirdness and mythic vastness as a Hieronymus Bosch painting in which a multiplicity of characters and edifices are building up and crumbling down in the same hellish scrolling tapestry-like space. It was important for me that there is an honesty about the artifice of this universe”. To his newly short feature Kiss of the Rabbit God which premiered just a few weeks ago at the Tribeca Film Festival, where Huang explores his own personal identity, cultural heritage and queerness to which he proclaims to be a form of personal revelation.

The film follows a young Chinese restaurant worker’s journey of self-discovery through a sexual awakening, after falling in love with an 18th century Qing dynasty God named the Tu’er Shen (兔兒神) “This is my first narrative short in 10 years and also my most personal film to date! I started out directing narrative films, but left to pursue more art and experimental video-making. Rabbit God is my attempt now to return to narrative but more on my terms. The film is really a love story and I’ve never been brave enough until now to create a romantic film between two queer Asian men. So, this film in a way is a confession as much as it is a love letter to my LGBTQ+ Asian community”.

Everything about Andrew’s work opens up a portal to illustration of a digital multiverse- which hasn’t gone by unnoticed. He has championed a collection of awards and honours for his creative work, becoming more popular through music videos that he’s directed for the likes of Björk, Thom Yorke’s supergroup Atoms For PeaceKelela, Perfume GeniusSigur Ròs and many more; emerging through the mist. He tells me, Music videos are a wonderful medium to experiment and build worlds and draw people into the emotional message of a piece of music. I’ve learned nearly everything I know about directing from creating music videos: how to collaborate, delegate, communicate with a team of people. But, I would also say it’s my own personal work that has informed my videos. Doing the work on music videos has helped build my vocabulary of techniques to bring to my own work as well as my own practice that has fed the ideas that I bring to the music videos. It’s a two-way conversation! I need to know what each artist is trying to say and where they’re coming from in order for me to formulate a clear concept. I prefer to have personal conversations with each artist and really get to know them as people. I don’t like to go into a collaboration guessing what they’re going to like or what they’re going to respond to. Making videos with artists, in the best scenario, is building a relationship with them and dreaming the same dream together.”

Image courtesy of Andrew Thomas Huang

Back to the recent and special project that I mentioned earlier, just last month he collaborated with FKA Twigs on her emotionally charged single; Cellophane. A video that is filled with vivid mechanical creatures and bionic figures, accompanied by a blend of renaissance imagery and dystopian scenes, showcasing a contrast of life and death, birth and destruction. An idea that embodies a new chapter, to start anew and welcome a path-breaking world that hums with possibility; Andrew also added that it is an “miraculous Icarus tale: a dance-of-death striving towards unattainable perfection, the fall from grace and the fragility of putting yourself back together”. Alongside him and Twigs graced production designer Fiona Crombie, who was nominated for an Oscar last year for her work on The Favourite. “We really did have the perfect team come together on this. Cinematographer Dani Abello came on board who shot beautiful videos for Rosalía, and pole choreographer Kelly Yvonne, too! I actually started to develop the story with Twigs in June 2018, and then Twigs, Kelly and I would rehearse together in a dance studio in Los Angeles where we brainstormed to create some of the emotional and physical beats of the performance”

Since it’s release, Andrew has been extremely candid about the inspiration behind Cellophane, admitting to outlets that the concepts of the video stemmed from Twigs’ own personal struggles; from laparoscopic surgery that she underwent to have six fibroid tumours removed from her uterus, to public scrutiny and blatant attacks regarding her ex-fiancé Robert Pattinson. Yet, the formation of the video did not arise as naturally as the ideas behind it seemed to, the process to creating such a visually compelling film was complex as it was enjoyable. “I drafted my own visualisation and storyboard for a couple months before we shot the film in Kiev, Ukraine for two days. Fiona also worked with the Ukrainian team to build some beautiful sets, namely the 360° curtain world and the large clay pit. I edited the video myself and then worked closely for four months afterwards along with Analog Studio in London to create the visual effects”.

Taken from ‘Cellophane’.
FKA Twigs in ‘Cellophane’.

Despite the constant use of extraterrestrial figures in his art, it isn’t always deliberate, confessing “I actually always thought that Martians were kind of boring! (with the exception of the Martians from Mars Attacks). Extraterrestrials aren’t though, alien life is always fascinating…like the aliens in The Abyss or The X-files”.  yet, with everything that’s been going on in Andrew’s life, I concluded the interview by asking him what he does to unwind and how he finds new creative energy “Hmm. Detaching from society, for sure! And going into nature are the most nourishing things for me. My most vivid and connected moments in life have occurred when I’m hiking or by the ocean, or just spending time with my grandmother! I’m eternally working on the challenge of being present in the moment”.

Keep up with Andrew and his work;

Website- http://www.andrewthomashuang.com/Art.htm

Facebook Page- www.facebook.com/AndrewThomasHuangAndrewThomasHuang

Instagram: www.instagram.com/andrewthomashuang/

Twitter: @Andrew_T_Huang

Youtube Channel- http://www.youtube.com/andrewhu

Vimeo Channel- https://vimeo.com/user1293099

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Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, climate change and virtual reality

How Daniel Steegmann Mangrané effectively expressed the damages of climate change and colonialism through a virtual utopia.

From the 16th February 2019, Nottingham Contemporary has been exhibiting the work of Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, showcasing his debut major show. A Catalan-born artist whose primary focus is the effect of post-colonialism in the rainforests through radical anthropology, aiming to investigate the prospects and abilities of technologies and diverse mediums. Curated by Abi Spinks, the show features new and existing works of hypnotic installations, a 16mm film, architectural sets and virtual reality goggles where spectators can explore the essences of nature from the gallery.

The Rio de Janeiro-based artist portrays bearings of the Mata Atlântica, Brazil’s Atlantic tropical rainforest, one which has suffered more within its ecosystem than any other large forest in the world. The Atlantic Rainforest is one of the most important biodiverse areas in the world, yet preserving only 7% of its original surface left. Originally stretching across Brazil’s coastline, it once covered parts of Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay but today only survives in small, degraded patches and protected areas. Since as early as the 16th Century, Mata Atlântica has been through many conflicts; ranging from territorial, human, geographic and historical factors to scientific, ecological and economic components.

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These pressures have subjected the rainforest to a significant shift in its environment, with an array of competing demands of the territory creating a stimulation of relationships and a complex and impervious network. “The rainforest is a metaphor and model of thinking” Steegmann personifies. Influenced by the work of fundamental Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, who coined the term ‘Perspectivism’ in the 90s, a movement that supports the view that perception, experience, and reason all change according to the viewer’s relative perspective and interpretation.

Perspectivism is based on the Amerindian belief that everything has a form of spirit that is alive and well. This mirrors with Steegmann’s installations and the way he conveys his work, blurring the lines between material and immaterial. By applying differing patterns, configurations and technologies he uses different mediums to show how the environment can be represented. This approach highlights the limits of representation, also actively going against the opposite to Western thought since the onset of modernity making spectators rethink nature as we know it.

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April has seen over 130 galleries, museums, and creative institutions across the UK declare a ‘climate and ecological emergency’, calling for immediate action to combat the climate change crisis; an exhibition such as this one would deem fitting. Upon entry, we are immediately engulfed by Steegmann’s vision of a disintegrating ecosystem. The brand new 2019 installation of _C_A_N_O_P_Y_ demonstrates geometric forms in an organic fashion, by cutting certain shapes into the ceiling and letting the light seep through in a dark room in order to mirror sunlight penetrating the forest canopy.

The same room, contains a surreal virtual reality environment which is accessed through a HTC Vive Pro headset experienced with a Oculus Rift headset titled Phantom (Kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name) (2015). A piece designed to engulf it’s users into a 3D scan of the deteriorating Mata Atlântica, the interactive yet devastating reality informs through a full headset that covers all your main senses while the VR-user describes their environment to onlookers through their movements, almost feeling the anxiety of the disappearing nature as it’s happening.

Just before entering the next gallery, within a small hidden room, is 16mm (2009-11) a 16mm film with synchronised 4-channel digital sound as part of this piece is a film that draws into the depths of the rainforest at the same pace as the footage roll, linking the film and the rainforest mechanically and abstractly and through a Structuralist approach, we are immersed into a montage of this verdant verdure.

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The final room exhibits the brand new 2019 artwork, Living Thoughts (2019). At first glance, the glass and epiphytic plants look as though they’re floating in thin air. Working alongside London-based glass-maker Jochen Holz, the two created hand-blown branches that are attached to orchids; mosses; cacti and bromeliads alike to mirror the multiple lives and layers that exist within the rainforest that coexist yet fight to survive.

Incorporating his interest of biology since early childhood, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané expresses his feelings of admiration yet reasonable concern over the earth’s current environmental state. While highlighting themes of climate change we are also made more aware through an interaction that is given beyond a way that we’re used to, but are able to consume-through technology. The Word For World is Forest gives an escapist feel of fantasy yet once you delve in deeper to its context, a brutal realisation surfaces that not everything is as it is perceived.

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What sobriety taught me about being a better friend

Most of the blog posts I write are heavily influenced by events that have taken place in my personal life, I would love to say that everything I write about is thoroughly and thoughtfully planned out, but the majority of the time, it isn’t.

Why do I say that? Well, the other night (I would give specifics but I’m not sure which date I will publish this on) I met up with a longtime friend of mine from secondary school, and like all Brits so typically tend to do in the evening (any time after five, most of the time) we met up at the local student bar and had a few drinks whilst catching up with one another’s lives within the last six months.

Then while sitting at this bar with said friend, I suddenly realised that it had been six months since I even had a ‘proper’ drink, and even more surprising- I hadn’t actually gotten drunk in an entire year. My last honest feeling of a pounding headache, aching stomach, sickness, embarrassment, regret, overbearing self consciousness, and overall sense of self-loathing hadn’t surfaced (least, via intoxication) in a very, very long time.

I’ve always had a decent relationship with alcohol, especially recently. In secondary school I often exaggerated how drunk I really was and never suffered from severe hangovers. I’m not sure whether it was because my tolerance was significantly higher so I was able to drink vodka like it was water, or what. But I think students can universally agree when we say that from the age of eighteen onward, usually indicates a shift in everything, and hangovers become more severe.

When I first moved to Nottingham I tried to fit into the culture by drinking everything in sight; which I did. It was bad, but only freshers week bad- I woke up with a massive receipt from Subway (yes, the sandwich place), I’d have other people’s clothes on (God knows how that happened) and at some stage I was spiked which resulted in me losing feeling in my legs for the night. I took it easy from then on onward, I mean, I got really messed up (accidentally) during a day drinking session once but that didn’t stop me.

On my 19th birthday, I got into a random mans’ car and didn’t get out of bed for over 24 hours. Then on my 20th, it was more or less the same thing. It was all okay, though. Right? I’m a young, university student, I’m British and it’s the way of life. Which is fine. But it’s about time we had an honest conversation about how alcohol really affects our mental health. In an era where drinking to excess has become heavily normalised, it can be difficult to navigate the culture; to see who is just like everyone else and who is actually struggling.

At the age of 21, I’ve come to a realisation that getting drunk casually isn’t for me. And, no. I don’t hold some sort of god complex (that’s exactly what someone with a god complex would say) and I certainly don’t look down on those that drink, at all. Especially as the summer approaches along with the alarmingly high temperature rise, causing people to crack open ‘a cold one’ before the afternoon. I can fully understand the urges. But the U.K. has a drinking problem. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t drink less than the recommended units and the shared mentality has always been “As long as no one is getting hurt then there’s no problem with it”. If alcohol were a new discovery, this wouldn’t be okay, but because this is what we have always known, heavy drinking has become glamorised and almost celebrated. Whereas drugs, understandably, are still a massive taboo. Depending on where you live.

The NHS recommendation of 14 units per week, which is about 6 pints or 7 glasses of wine. But who can keep track? Drinking is everywhere. We drink to celebrate, we drink when we are sad, we drink to relax – we drink on any occasion for any excuse. As a collective we normalise blackouts, frequent puking and humiliation. We need more awareness that alcohol affects our mental health as well as our physical health: while we may be enjoying ourselves, alcohol is also a depressant, the viscous cycle of feeling miserable and anxious was something that I personally couldn’t handle anymore.

Whenever I tell people that I once went an entire year without drinking (that’s a story for another post) it is always met with all kinds of strange reactions, as if I told them that I just won the lottery. Actually, more pitying than that. As if my dog just died. I mean, I don’t have a dog- but you get the gist. However, you never gain this sort of reaction when you tell people that you went on holiday and binged for an entire week? Last summer, I was the only one not drinking at a garden party and a girl there felt the need to tell me that staying sober was really sad and pathetic.

Look, I’m not trying to convince people to stop drinking. The total opposite, actually. However, the main point of this blog post is to explain how the idea of getting too intoxicated regularly is one that seriously needs to be looked at and re-evaluated. That we need to look at how much we consume and start being more responsible. I learnt a lot in my year of sobriety. Did I ever miss drinking? Absolutely. But I became more focused on my work and priorities, I saved money, I felt fresh everyday to the point where I just never wanted to turn back. And I felt like I was overall becoming a better version of myself. Believe me, I am far from perfect, but since leaning more towards regular sobriety I have just been happier. And as a generally rather unhappy person, I am continuously aiming towards that. It’s a peculiar feeling- like stepping from the clamour of a street riot, stepping into the house, and locking the door.

Mandy Wu and her cinematic take on the muse

It’s no secret that I’m seriously infatuated with art and photography, especially when created by self-identifying women (no discrimination, I’ve interviewed Male artists too!) and so, when I find one that particularly inspires me, I like to grab them for a quick Q&A and feature them here! So, for this months ‘Rookie Girl’ feature, Mandy Wu is gracefully in the spotlight and taking centre stage. I came across the stellar photographer through I-D magazine’s ‘young talent’ page, where she humbly showcased her photos for all the members to see. Almost immediately, Mandy was met with a wave of like and love reacts, compliments and collaboration requests; one in which, were from me.

Woven with detail and bursting with colour, the photographer’s landscape photography and poignant still-life portraits depict poetry and stories that make you feel like you’re experiencing an old memory that you never had. Inspired by Zhang Jiacheng and his stylised documentary, Mandy Wu found herself mesmerised by the colour drenched dreamscapes “my life philosophy, my fantasy about love, my observation of the world- is my inspiration!” She muses.

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When did you began taking photos?
I started taking photos during the first year of my university while doing my bachelor in history. So it’s been around 6 years!

Why did you begin taking photos?
My dad gave me a camera as my birthday gift. I started playing with it since then. I always want to capture a moment and let it live forever and taking picture enables me to do that.

What or who is your biggest muse?
My biggest muse now is Zhang JiaCheng. I just discovered him at the end of last year but I really enjoy his portraits. Each one of them is like painting.

Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from films, my life philosophy, my fantasy about love, my observation of the world!

Ongoing

 

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How would you describe your style of photography?
I have always found it hard to describe my style. I guess my style is a bit cinematic, nostalgic, dreamy and sometimes sensual.

Exactly what is it you want to say with your portraits and photography?
I think I just want my photographs to make people feel how I feel. Sometimes others will see my work and feel something completely different, which is also what I love so much about photographs. They make people feel, and sometimes the feelings can’t be described by words.

How do you get your photography to say what you want it to?
By being genuine and honest. Feel it all and express it all.

What type of camera and lens do you use? If you use more than one, what is your favourite? And why?
I use both digital and analog cameras. I use 35mm, 45mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses. My favourite is my contax g2 and its 45mm lens. It’s easy to focus and make solid. Since I travel often and take lots of portraits, I find 45mm to be a perfect lens for me!

What made you decide to pursue photography as a full time career?
I love photography and I want to devote my time and energy into it. It was also a hard decision because I didn’t know if I could support myself with it. Even until now I struggle sometimes with not being able to have the freedom to create fully in order to meet the clients’ needs.

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What motivates you to make art and photography?
To be able to express myself through art and photography.

What is the best and worst thing about being an artist?
The best part is the freedom of creating. The worst part for me is when there’s no inspiration and feeling stuck in a place with no energy motivation creating. It happens sometimes and I never know when to expect it.

How do you educate yourself to take better photographers?
Reading lots of books, watching heaps of movies, listening to songs, etc. For me, it’s all about feelings. I sometime look at other photographers’ work and try to understand what’s the reason that I find one certain piece of work so intriguing.

Talk to me about your “Wasted Youth” portrait photos.
During the time when I was studying in Milan, there’s a cultural centre called Macao, an abandoned slaughterhouse, that I went to every weekend. This is a documentary project about the place, which has transformed me in lots of different ways. The place feels free and liberated. I found a missing piece of myself there.

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Talk us through your ‘Duo’ collection in the portrait gallery section of your site.
I met these two when I was in Milan. They were really cute together when I met them so I thought it’d be really great to document the feelings they have for each other. We chose the location and the outfits together. The light was perfect on that day and I’m really happy with the results.

 

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Your “Beautiful Imperfect” project is stunning, tell us about the process of creating that.
Thank you! Those photographs are little pieces that I have collected over the years from my travels since I was 20. I hope I can keep on travelling and adding more to the project.

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You’ve previously said “Oftentimes, photographs has the power to bring back those long-lost feelings, be it joy or sadness. Through my works, I try to make those feelings tangible so that people can relive those moments again. ”– why is it so important to you for to keep memories?                                                                                     I think it’s all because I’m a very nostalgic person. I often look back at memories. Probably because I’m not living at the present but anyway I find it really interesting how a photograph can be so powerful to bring back those lost and forgotten feelings even just for a second.

It is also mentioned that you decided to pursue your passion for photography in Italy. Why did you decide to go there? Do you get a different feeling every time you enter a another country? Does each new country bring something new to your work?
I used to live in Umbria and during the time I worked there as an au-pair. I travelled to many different towns in Italy. I found the country full of history and beauty. The place inspired me to take more pictures. The country also put lots of effort into restoration of historical buildings. After going back to Taiwan, I started taking Italian class. After I graduated from university, I felt like Italy would be a good place for studying art since It was easy for me to find inspiration around me and it could also help me improve my Italian.

Yes, I do! Not even just another country but a new place tends change my feeling drastically. When I’m in a new place, I become more sensitive and more observant and I end up having more motivation and inspiration to take pictures. I remember during the time when I was living in Yangon, Myanmar, I was very intrigued by the dark old streets in the old town of Yangon and I did a series on the different colours of neon lights there. Definitely brings lots of new perspectives to my work but at the same time, I’m also trying to be observant in the place I’m living, which can be quite difficult at times as everyday the life becomes pretty much the same.

Is there a general message behind your work? Are you challenging the ‘male gaze’ or anything of the sort?
I’m often told that my work has warmth in it. Maybe that’s the general message I want people to see subconsciously.

What is the ultimate goal with photography? What do you hope to achieve in 5 years time?
I hope I get to create freely without any limits and I can bring something to people, the people around me as well as those that don’t know me personally.
in 5 years time, I’d be 30! I hope I will be an artist that can touch more mediums of arts and express myself through them. I also hope to be able to share and create with like-minded people from different places in the world. Hopefully I can also make some music for my photographs or vise versa.

What quote motivates you most to keep going?
Bill Evans, ”My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise… a part of yourself you never knew existed”. 

 

All work copyright © Mandy Wu

 

Keep up with Mandy and her work here;

Website- https://www.mandywuphoto.com/

Instagram- https://www.mandywuphoto.com/instagram

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What I learnt from celebrating ‘Galentine’s Day’

The closing of a year is often lead with great anticipation. Halloween, bonfire night, Thanksgiving (for my American readers), Hanukkah, Christmas celebrations and then finally…the New Years build up. Then creeps in January, dragging its oversized shoes on the floor. January is like the Maroon 5 performing at the Super Bowl of months, despite my own birthday being during this month, I too, have to admit that it overstays it’s welcome. A guest that you were once looking forward to seeing, but is now refusing to leave.

Then, after this excruciatingly dull month of broken resolutions and “I’ll start tomorrow”-s, comes an infamously suffocating day for singles and even couples alike. Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept of the day because it allows you to show appreciation to your significant other, plus the aesthetic of pink and red hearts everywhere may appear as obnoxious to some but I personally think they’re beautiful and uplifting. In a world that seems to forever filled with fake news and depressing headlines, then to suddenly be hit with flowers of all colours and love hearts is pretty encouraging to me. Lord knows we all need it.

But there is also a capitalist, ‘do it for the gram’ element involved which takes the real fun out of it. An haughty, pompous aspect that places couples to compare themselves to other couples. As though your relationships’ depth and meaning is measured based off of your financial income. A factor that is unfair and shallow to say the least. Personally, I’m a working-class student with low earning parents. Therefore, I don’t get any help from them. I simply rely on myself and how often I work, when I can. But with juggling a degree, a long distance relationship and other prospects; it can all get a little (VERY) strenuous. So with this continuous obligation to flex our lives on social media adds even more pressure on this particular occasion, minus the others- birthdays, Christmas etc.

In fact, just yesterday I was speaking to a work colleague who did not hesitate to tell me all about the expensive trips and gifts that her much older boyfriend so lovingly gives. Of course then, this was met with my own romance interrogation; “Where did you go?” “How much did they spend on you?” and “How much did YOU spend on THEM?” So whether you’re in a relationship or not, Valentine’s Day can be a bit of a pain. Don’t worry single people, least you can treat yourself to a cheap bottle of wine and a Netflix marathon then call it a night, it’s not as pathetic as everyone makes it out to be. I promise.

Anyhow, so due to my long-distance relationship circumstances, this year I decided to celebrate my first ever Galentine’s Day with my single friends. Because being single doesn’t mean that you’re alone, at all. This is a holiday that, among other things, highlights the political power of female friendship: Galentine’s Day. To quote main character Leslie Knope, “What’s Galentine’s Day? “Oh, it’s only the best day of the year!” So for context, back in February 2010, NBC inaugurated the holiday on its sitcom Parks and Recreation, starring Amy Poehler’s iconic character Leslie Knope, a described ‘civic crusader’ and ‘friend extraordinaire’. As Knope explains it, each year on February 13th, she gathers together all her best female friends, including her mother, to celebrate what she loves about her female companions over waffles.

However, the biggest lesson that I learnt from Galentine’s Day isn’t to only challenge hetero-normative romantic relationships and gross gender roles and forever pining over ‘the right one’ but of also finally normalising the idea that being single IS NOT something to be distracted from. As someone that is currently in a relationship, I can understand why you’re reading this whilst rolling your eyes. Or how this advice would fall on death ears. Take this with a pinch of salt if you must, but the most significant rule to remember is that you’re able to be by yourself and not hate it. I know right, wild(!) I apologise if this sounds patronising, but you’re allowed to be single on purpose and enjoy it.

Galentine’s day doesn’t have to be surrounded by the concept of filling some sort of ‘romantic void’ otherwise you’re not full. That’s a complete lie. People speak to me nowadays as if by having a boyfriend, I have been “blessed” and that I have been changed for the better. As much as I love being in a relationship, I can be strong and empowered whether I’m in one or not. Galentine’s Day is for all female-identifying folks celebrating themselves, no man-dominated underbelly included, please.

As well as this, Galentines Day should be as inclusive as we can possibly make it. Not everybody has this Sex and the City and Pretty Little Liars-esque girl group. Sometimes our closest friends live in different parts of the country and so seeing all these cliquey squads can emphasise on the loneliness. I often feel it. So another lesson I have learnt is to keep open-minded and productive when it comes to this kind of thing. Galentine’s can be a beautiful day, but always remember to show love and support for women throughout all the other days to.

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Erasing “toxic positivity”

“Be confused, it’s where you begin to learn to new things. Be broken, it’s where you begin to heal. Be frustrated, it’s where you start to make authentic decisions. Be sad, because if we are brave enough, we can hear our heart’s wisdom through it. Be whatever you are right now. No more hiding. You are worthy, always”.

S.C. Lourie

It’s been exactly five months since I’ve last published a blog post, which is pretty unbelievable to me! Not only have I failed to keep to my manifesto of coming up with new content every calendar month, but this realisation that five whole months have passed by is something kind of surreal altogether. Alongside the dreadful pressure of maintaining an online presence despite having no cool social life to flex, I’m also having to continuously convince you (my very limited audience) and myself that I’m vaguely fun, creative and relatable to read about. However, these feelings of doubt and inadequacy don’t need to be acknowledged or explained, only lived. So anyway, I’ve recently noticed a growing trend of people becoming overly positive. Though there is nothing wrong with seeing the glass as always half full, it can be ultimately damaging to entirely dismiss any natural emotions of anger, sadness or any feeling that isn’t completely positive. I understand the need to surround yourself with “positive vibes” which is mostly good, the majority of the time it can just come across as disingenuous and forced. So without further ado, here is an update on why I personally believe that we shouldn’t focus too much on what the chemicals in our brains are weighing and my newfound mentality of not caring. Not to seem generally insensitive towards people with genuine mental health issues of course, I couldn’t recommend therapy enough. However, this is just a personal mantra that keeps me afloat.

Okay, so I’m currently living in a house with three other girls, and in typical student-house fashion we have seen the worst and the best of each other. Emotional breakdowns over deadlines and assignments, momentary, short-lived ‘heartbreak’ over guys that won’t text us back anymore, financial restraints further exacerbated via fast fashion, year-long next day delivery and Klarna (you know, that whole ‘buy now, pay later’ deal that’s going on?) ASOS, Pretty Little Thing, Nasty Gal, Missguided- I’m looking at you, please let me live my life.

But once I came to discover that 2/3 of my housemates were on antidepressants and anxiety tablets, whilst regularly making appointments with therapists, the realisation forced me to have a serious think about my generation and our newfound outlook on mental health. Despite stigma decreasing by over 6% within the past decade, the overall outlook hasn’t REALLY changed all that much, I recall one of my housemates telling me “I just got tired of not feeling normal, I felt so embarrassed about crying all the time!”- which is of course, a very much valid emotion. But, I have to meet it with some critique.

Why has it become an embarrassment to say how we feel and why must wesolveor fix” these emotions? Throughout my time in higher education, whether that be in secondary school or university, the main lesson that I have learnt is to just tell people how you feel. The collapse of a lot of my friendships penned from being dishonest, antisocial and just an overall lack of real communication on how I feel. I’m still working on it, actually.

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary,” observed Cecil Beaton, who was born in 1904.

For so long, I thought that the past 2-3 years had been dedicated to recovering. I fully committed myself to feeling better about things. I wanted to recover from the trauma that secondary school brought me, my home life, and other disappointments. Then I learnt that there’s absolutely no avoiding it. You can go your whole life insisting that it only gets better from here onwards, but you’ll always be faced with something new that will kick and punch you. And you’re not wrong for feeling bad about these things.

For example, when I was seventeen I went through my first brutal heartbreak. It’s never been easy for me to talk about, even today. Without going into too much detail, he was a drug addict with eyes for someone else and I was a lovesick teen with no sense of self-worth, we were only 16-17 but it had a profound experience on me as a teenager. It may not have been real for him but it certainly was for me, and it was one of the worst emotional experiences that a 17-year-old could go through. So after that, I recall thinking “Okay, I’ve experienced this thing and now it’s over” but then once I turned 18, it happened again, but with a slightly different narrative. Cheating boyfriend, not a drug addict but instead emotionally abusive; and on top of that he quickly began to hook up with my friend who I thought would never do that sort of thing, and nobody seemed to mind, either. Nobody checked in to see how I was doing. As if this was just “normal”.

Then throughout the years as I became older, things took another bad turn. I was having very bad family problems, I lost jobs, I lost friends that I thought would stick around forever, I hated my university and began doubting my place on this earth (I’m going somewhere with this, don’t worry) I knew that I wanted to be a journalist but I began to hate my course and the people in it, so I didn’t see the point anymore. I had completely lost all motivation. And I felt bad about it.

People will always tell you that you serve no purpose being sad, that it’s a major sign of weakness and that someone out there is always going through something worse- which is indeed true but that in no way should invalidate whatever it is that you’re feeling. There we are again, feelings. I used to hang on to that word by a thread, like I said earlier, there was always this belief that you would experience something tremendously bad but it was okay because it will eventually stop. One day you’ll wake up and everything will calm down a bit and be…better. Which is to some extent true, but let’s not dismiss the fact that this is real life. Bad things happen all the time, but so do the good.

I read a quote on Man Repeller once which said You’ve been around long enough to know that dark places aren’t locked rooms, but tunnels“. And that’s it, bad emotions aren’t exactly bad overall, we often treat our uncomfortable feelings and emotions as if they had no real right to exist, inconveniences to be anesthetized or bludgeoned into extinction. But emotions aren’t really the enemy. They are feedback sent from within, messages sent from our deeper self that tell us how we are doing. As such, there really are no bad feelings — only comfortable or uncomfortable ones.

I know that there is this ongoing pressure to always seem busy, I get questioned all the time on what it is I do all day. I also know that there is this urgency to escape the hardship through grit and sweat, that any form of negative emotion has to be immediately wiped or otherwise you’re a depressed failure. Like say, if you submit one exam or essay that didn’t get the best grade, then you felt like you weren’t made for academia and that you should give up wanting a degree. But that’s not the case, it took a very long time for me not to treat these emotions as a blanket diagnosis but rather a stepping stone to something else. And I like to think that being able to bare this in mind keeps me up a level. You’re not doing it wrong, sadness and frustration aren’t just the shitty parts to make the good parts feel better, but just parts — the logical means through which get through to the next one.

Maybe I’m not the best person to take emotional advice from, and within the many times in life that I’ve been wrong and have poorly misjudged a situation, I can guarantee that I’m kind of right about this one thing. Without sounding corny or tedious, you can’t appreciate a good meal without having starved (not literally, I mean don’t deliberately go hungry) and you don’t appreciate a hot shower unless you’ve been out all day and you don’t appreciate the summer without going through the miserable months of January, February and March first. There’s something amazing in just riding it out and going through it. It’s not always good, but it makes a hell of a story to tell afterwards. Life is a far more interesting that way, like literally every movie that you will ever watch will have a point where something supposedly sad happens halfway through- both the cheesy and the epic ones. So don’t feel weird for having negative emotions, do not apologise for the inconvenience and then try to immediately jump to fix them. They always say it’s better to have felt something rather than nothing at all, it gives everything substance and meaning, and isn’t that what they’re meant for anyway?

Still I Rise: ‘Feminisms, Gender, Resistance’ Exhibition review

On October 26th, the Nottingham Contemporary art gallery launched a new effervescent exhibition titled ‘Still I Rise’ which runs until 27th January, 2019. The name stems from Maya Angelou’s empowering poem from 1978 which tackles subjects of prejudice and injustice.

Similarly to the poem, the exhibition showcases themes of resistance, gender, feminism and resilience as well as exploring the roles that women played in the history of resistance movements. It also refers to artists spanning centuries and continents who are protesting and exploring new, alternative forms of living.

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Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 1, Nottingham Contemporary, 2018. Image credit: Stuart Whipps
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Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 1, Nottingham Contemporary, 2018. Image credit: Stuart Whipps

Coinciding with the centenary of women’s suffrage within the UK, this major group is a demonstration of endurance around the world, spanning across the time periods between the late 19th century to present reforms.

The exhibition also references key historic moments including the Civil Rights Movement, resistance against dictatorships in Latin America in the 1960’s–70’s, independence movements against colonial rule in Africa, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the AIDS crisis and the Stonewall Rebellion, exhibiting pieces from a multiplicity of perspectives, from minor cases on the domestic sphere to larger scale uprisings.

Since opening in 2009, the Nottingham Contemporary has been the city’s chance to make a larger cultural mark in the global art scene, highlighting social upheavals and movements through art.

What is most compelling about this new exhibition is how it captures such a pivotal era, showcasing art as a form of protest, declaration and revelation. The exhibition itself signifies the abuse of power by those who sit in high government positions, as well as the judiciary and people within the police force. For the public, it sends out clear, repeated messages of hope. For those who understand the meaning of repeated wrongdoing, the title ‘Still I Rise’ becomes an anthem, a beacon of hope for the oppressed and downtrodden.

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Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 1, Nottingham Contemporary, 2018. Image credit: Stuart Whipps

Upon arrival, spectators are immediately faced with a giant board with pens and coloured paper on the side. On each piece of paper, visitors are addressed with questions such as “Blank page – Share your thoughts and feelings about the stories and themes in the exhibition” and “What does resistance look like to you? Share your acts of resistance”.

Not only do these types of statements engage viewers into the exhibition and facilitate individuals to involve their personal input, but they also help to widen conversations for future observers, opening up a much-needed discussion. This form of interactive art enables visitors to build their own versions of the accompanying publication, reflecting a history of self-publishing as a form of resistance. Answers were often playful but pressing, with answers written in permanent marker such as “TRANS RIGHTS R HUMAN RIGHTS” and “BEING WHOEVER THE F@#& I WANT TO BE!”.

Within the exhibition, there are different rooms for each gallery, and each one of these rooms is arranged thematically across different practices and waves of feminism. Above the artworks themselves, the exhibition displays have been designed by f-architecture, a research-based architectural practice which explores issues surrounding the spatial politics of bodies and subjects.

As well as the catalogue, which is by OOMK (One of My Kind), the London-based collaborative publishing practice that has produced a book with rearrange-able pages to allow the reader to structure their own thoughts.

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Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 1, Nottingham Contemporary, 2018. Image credit: Stuart Whipps

The first artist to be gazed upon is none other than feminist artist Judy Chicago, with a pink-peach background for a wall, Chicago’s explosive colour pieces are complimented marvellously. It’s been over 50 years since the artist debuted her flame, fireworks and smoke performances on print, yet the pyrotechnics of Smoking Bodies in the Californian desert still ignites the same passionate reaction today. Chicago created this body of work as a reaction to the male dominance of land art created in the 1960’s.

Other standout pieces were displayed proudly within another gallery room titled ‘A Rumour’. This area features an array of protest posters showcased a decade later, during the 70’s, by the See Red Women’s Workshop, covering topics from abortion rights to Margaret Thatcher’s benefit cuts. There are also Suffragette Mary Lowndes’s detail-orientated and crafted banners that were designed for the 1908 National Union of Suffrage Societies procession, alongside a selection of prison photographs of female anarchists affiliated with the Paris Commune of 1871.

Queer artists, however, made the most significant impact in this particular area; a tower of Zoe Leonard’s infamous poem ‘I WANT A DYKE FOR PRESIDENT’ was distributed to visitors of the exhibition. The piece highlights the need for a wave of politicians which represent marginal voices across the spectrum. Despite being published in 1992, it recently regained recognition and relevancy as it was performed as a rap by Mykki Blanco for a video, during the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential Election.

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Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 1, Nottingham Contemporary, 2018. Image credit: Stuart Whipps

The erasure of minorities and the outvoted isn’t uncommon within history. There have been many examples in recent years which show that many important movements and advancements within biographies involved more than the white men who were accredited. I recently read a line inside the Stanford Daily about representation which said “Representation can make disadvantaged groups become real people” and I think I’ll continue to use this quote in the future because it’s true, and that’s why exhibitions like these are so engaging: they help us to realise that there is a lot going on outside of our echo chamber.

There are patriarchal hierarchies and that’s the brutal truth about the world we live in, within all sectors. Whether we agree or understand it all or not is irrelevant because not everything is our story to tell and a lot of the time, we want to be heard more than actually understood. Isn’t that what Maya Angelou fought for her entire life anyway?

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Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 1, Nottingham Contemporary, 2018. Image credit: Stuart Whipps