An MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Notre Dame. I live with my boyfriend, poet Robert Bruno, and our two cats: TaMolly and Rocket.
"I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best."
— Frida Kahlo
Photo by Guillermo Davila, 1929.
Art is a conversation, not a patent office. The citation of sources belongs to the realms of journalism and scholarship, not art. Reality can’t be copyrighted.
David Shields (via berfrois)
If you think pubic hair on a woman is unnatural or weird, you aren’t mature enough to be touching them.
Tangentially related historical note: John Ruskin, the 19th century british painter, had never seen a woman naked before he married, only classical nude statues, so he assumed real women were just as smooth and hairless as the statues showed. He refused to touch his wife when she disrobed on their wedding night, saying she was revolting. She was understandably like ‘wtf is wrong with you brb filing for annulment’ and went on to marry his (former) bff and have a long happy marriage with 8 kids. Ruskin died alone and probably still never having gotten over the whole ‘women have hAIR’ thing.
THE MORAL HERE is that you shouldn’t be like John Ruskin b/c he was a tool and also that media has been delivering unrealistic images of female body hair for a depressingly long time. And that Stoya is absolutely right.
If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”
And I think that this a huge challenge for boys, because they want to pretend they can write girls. Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliche lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight. And if you’re in a writing program and you say to a guy that their characters are sexist, this guy, it’s like you said they fucking love Hitler. They will fight tooth and nail because they want to preserve this really vicious sexism in the art because that is what they have been taught.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherfuckers.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
It’s the same way when people write about race. If you didn’t grow up being a subaltern person in the United States, you might need help writing about race. Motherfuckers are like ‘I got a black boy friend,’ and their shit sounds like Klan Fiction 101.
The most toxic formulas in our cultures are not pass down in political practice, they’re pass down in mundane narratives. It’s our fiction where the toxic virus of sexism, racism, homophobia, where it passes from one generation to the next, and the average artist will kill you before they remove those poisons. And if you want to be a good artist, it means writing, really, about the world. And when you write cliches, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, that is a fucking cliche. And motherfuckers will kill you for their cliches about x, but they want their cliches about their race, class, queerness. They want it in there because they feel lost without it. So for me, this has always been the great challenge.
As a writer, if you’re really trying to write something new, you must figure out, with the help of a community, how can you shed these fucking received formulas. They are received. You didn’t come up with them. And why we need fellow artists is because they help us stay on track. They tell you, “You know what? You’re a bit of a fucking homophobe.” You can’t write about the world with these simplistic distortions. They are cliches. People know art, always, because they are uncomfortable. Art discomforts. The trangressiveness of art has to deal with confronting people with the real. And sexism is a way to avoid the real, avoiding the reality of women. Homophobia is to avoid the real, the reality of queerness. All these things are the way we hide from encountering the real. But art, art is just about that.
Michael Wolf - A Series of Unfortunate Events (2011)
“Wolf spent literally hundreds of hours at his computer, trolling virtually around the world, looking for anything weird or bizarre that had been captured by the ravenous cameras mounted on the top of Google’s special GPS-coordinated Street View camera vans.
When he found an image that fit his project, Wolf mounted his own camera in front of his computer screen, cropped the part of the Google image that he wanted, and made his own picture of that picture.
The final body of work…is completely composed of selected personal calamities (in progress, or about to happen) caught by random chance by the automatic cameras of Google Street View roving vans from around the world — and the results are often quite astonishing and amusing.”
The Sagrada Família church in Barcelona has received a lot of prestigious recognition—despite being a work in progress since 1882. Not only has it been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also been visited by the Pope and proclaimed a basilica (which for churches is kind of like winning the Super Bowl). The Sagrada Família is the brainchild of the famous architect Antoni Gaudí, who spent most of his life building the nature-inspired, symbol-laden cathedral. Tragically he passed away in 1926, after being hit by a tram. His masterpiece, at that point, was less than a quarter complete.
And the massive cathedral is still under constuction. It’s based on Gaudí’s plans and funded almost entirely by the millions of tourists that visit every year. It is incredibly famous, and recently National Geographic did a very interesting article detailing its history, and the significance of the ridiculous number of spires.
One of my favorite places in the world
As cities go, hollowed-out Flint might have the worst reputation in America. But the Flint Public Art Project wants to change that.
See more. [Images: FPAP]
The winners of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards have just been announced. Norwegian photographer Andrea Gjestvang was announced as the Photographer of the Year, for her series of portraits of children and youths who survived the July 2011 massacre on the island of Utoeya, outside Oslo. This year’s contest attracted more than 122,000 entries from 170 countries. The photographs were judged in six different competition categories, including Professional, Open, and Student Focus. The organizers have been kind enough to share some of their winning images with In Focus, gathered below. See also the shortlist of winners, earlier on In Focus.
See more. [Image: 2013 Sony World Photography Awards]