Last weekend did that thing where it was suddenly Sunday afternoon and I had my head in the toilet. The Muv and I concluded on Skype that it was definitely from going for a swim in the North Sea and not from trying to keep up with people who are seasoned to the fact that beer is so incredibly cheap here. The plus side of having one of those life reassessing hangovers however, is that I got much more done this week than I would have otherwise. I’ve now finished a run of prints, started some other projects and carried on having a lovely ponder about life, the universe, and smashing patriarchy.
This was my first time screen printing on paper (since doing the very basic method with paper stencils at school and for my first solo ep). I’ve done loads of textile stuff for House of Astbury and various bands merch so I understand most of the process, but on paper there is definitely more precision involved. The CMYK process feels like magic. I looked up loads about it on youtube tutorials and was getting quite confused over photoshop technicalities, entering specific data for specific inks to avoid over saturating the image ect, but it turned out that at HFBK the digital printer does all of this automatically so all I had to do was take in my jpeg image to the digital print room and then I got my traces to expose. I’m relieved I didn’t have to figure it all out this time, but still need to learn for when I go back to Print Club in October and no longer have access to HFBK facilities.
You can see from the pictures below how the image builds up cyan + magenta + yellow. I decided to stop after these 3 layers because adding the black made the image too heavy and also feel less digital.
I’m really attracted to this technique as a way of hand printing digital images. It means that some of the perceived glitches in the image are from human error in the process of printing. I used a method that involved printing the first print of each layer onto trace attached on one side to the table, then lining up each print by eye underneath the trace. Its pretty much impossible to line it up perfectly, especially as you have to move fast before the ink dries into the screen, but I like mistakes and imperfections, they imply humanity and thats what this piece is about – striving for human connection in a digital realm.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how far making prints can be a political position within the art world. Erik Ruin, in an interview in Realising the Impossible (AK Press 2007) describes printmaking as “paintings low-rent, unfinished cousin”, which is maybe a bit of an exaggeration but a nice idea. In the same interview Miriam Klein Stahl states: “I make prints for the populous appeal. I am in love with the idea of many people having ownership of an image. Prints are a threat to the idea that there is one precious piece of art that hangs for only a few to see.” This idea really appeals to me, it means in the context of buying art, with prints you buy the print and not, or at least far less so, the more conceptual financial value of rarity and the artwork as a potential investment depending on the artists career. For me conceptual money and forecasting are the most dangerous parts of our current form of capitalism in its widest sense, and certainly part of the more grotesque end of the art market. Colin Matthes adds: “Prints are largely accessible, can be made with simple tools, can be widely distributed and sold inexpensively or given away. Prints also retain the beauty of a handmade object and employ a relatively low tech process that complements the craft of the printer.”
That said, I’ve also been experimenting with painting into the print – with painting being this kind of desperate act to try and retain humanity or somehow bring the figure to life within a digital image. Below is my first try (the hair is horrible) but I think its quite a cool effect. I think I’d like to mess around a bit with painting different parts out of the different frames/ planes/ spaces in the image, eg paint in the rest of the hand. I think this would be a new piece in itself however, as the print completely stands in its own right. Maybe I need to print into a photo print of the original digital image then scan the resulting image and CMYK from that.. I’m still keen to produce multiples whilst playing with mixed media.
This kind of ties into a ponder I was having the other day about ‘Mastery’ in the Arts. I was wondering what it might mean to be a Mistress rather than a Master of Art. I was thinking about something along the lines of approaching different mediums in the same way a sex worker (distinct of course from a mistress) approaches men. It turns out the metaphor doesn’t really work in the way I intended it, plus it reinforces the idea of a gender binary, but it still got me thinking about disloyalty to any particular medium/ interdisciplinary practice and deskilling as a strategy. I’ve noticed that everyone I know who is “successful” (/self-sufficient and eating properly) has their one thing which they do very well – a band/ painting/ writing/ print making/ a clothing line. And this makes sense under the logic of capitalism – that’s what they pour their time (=money) and money into, and it then, along with their talent, grows/ increases in value. I just can’t commit like this, I want to be involved in about 4 different bands, contribute to House of Astbury, make massive text sculptures, make screenprints, draw cartoons, write, organise events and a heap of other projects, whilst eating and drinking what I want and supporting myself. So figuring this multidisciplinary strategy is kind of a necessity for me, or at least thinking about what it might mean as a way of working.
Along similar lines, I actually got quite pissed off the other day about the way people try and reduce art to these basic statements – like the ‘about’ sections we all have on our professional websites. It’s just a copy & paste option for marketing art events, making it all nice and digestible so people can consume it at the accelerating rate we are consuming everything. I’m not making art for someone to read about it, glance at it, agree/ disagree then leave. It’s reductive and renders the art itself pretty obsolete or merely an illustration. Art should be a means of making/ disturbing sense of the world, a language and way of creating meaning in its own right; I make art because it starts asking questions or suggesting things I didn’t think of while I was making it. It’s a process/ way of seeing. When I write songs, I look back on them afterwards and realise how I felt and what I knew subconsciously at that time, it helps me see myself clearly, and its this kind of thing I’m striving for with art. Also, of course its vital that its open enough that people can approach it with their own experiences and construct their own meanings. The artist or creator as some kind of authority is something I politically oppose: once its out there, you’re Frankenstein, in the loosest sense of that metaphor. Basically, the conclusion of this thought hole was that I should change the about section on my website to either an embedded link to the arty bollocks generator or “I don’t really feel like talking about it right now :-(” – Robert’s genius rephrasing of me wanting to just put “I don’t want to talk about it” or “I would prefer not to…” Refusing, in varying levels of politeness, is always fun.
Most of this pondering came about as a result of me shutting up and listening more. I’ve been observing (mainly men) who in conversations wait until you’ve finished speaking so they’re not perceived as rude, but then clearly have found the multitask of listening whilst retaining their initial thought all too much because they then take the conversation off on a complete tangent according to what they were thinking about and without reacting to or considering the other person’s contribution in the slightest. Holy shit, it pisses me off. As an opinionated person I worry I sometimes do this, so in class I’m trying to just write my brain down then only contribute what might actually benefit the discussion and relate to what others are saying. I’ve been watching the quieter people silently fume and physically reel and some unconsidered statements made and want to try and make space for their contributions as well, they radiate this feeling that they have something worthwhile to say. I’ve also been having this weird anxiety about speaking in these situations, sometimes getting physically shaky, maybe because I’m over-thinking it, but its made it difficult for me to challenge some pretty fucking problematic statements (eg “if they had education in Iraq” – *smashes face into table*) that were being made offhand. Gah, education.
Alice being very happy about seaside.
Last weeks seminar was all a bit too much for me, so afterwards I met my friend Alice in Park Fiction and ranted myself into a nap with my beer. It is 65 cent for a bottle of Oettinger, which is actually pretty nice beer. This city. I had a very lovely weekend, Alex drove Alice and me to the beach on Saturday! This fulfilled being in the sea happy and being in a van happy in one go – an excellent day! We also caught the end of Downfall of Gaia at Rote Flora – definitely need to see their whole set next time, much epicness.
Now I’ve made some prints I feel much more relaxed about the exhibitions we have coming up. The first is at Dock 7 which over looks part of Park Fiction which Fabio and I might use for outside work. In a little meeting those of us exhibiting had the other day lots of things clicked together in my brain. The context for that exhibition had been troubling me a lot, its such a sensitive area with an incredible history for battling gentrification through art, when art is normally what is responsible for that process. It’s not somewhere I feel I can just go and plonk any old piece of art, especially if I’m selling it. I was thinking about doing some kind of community based project but this so complicated in terms of the position of the artist. Separately, I’d been working on the above image which is a kind of found poem sewn together from cut out bits of band shirts and patches. Robert had pointed out to me that the band tshirt quilt that I have on my bed is similar to this guy who makes collages from heavy metal tshirts and maybe I should try a similar thing. I’d been asking my friends out here if they had anything they could donate me to add to this project anyway, so it seems like a very logical basis for a community piece of art. I can start it with my stuff and my friends stuff, then sew it together in Park Fiction (in some kind of structure) whilst the exhibition is on and invite people to add to it. It’s in an area full of punk rockers, next to a punk bar and some of the oldest squats in Europe on the Hafenstrasse so it seems a good place to try it. I’d make 2 pieces, one with words and one with images. Collage and patch sewing are part of the punk rock culture I’m involved in anyway, so it makes sense to try and make things with it. Hopefully it will be quite big, and I think if anyone wants to buy it then the money should go to Park Fiction or a community project.
On the subject of punk rock, Broezrock, sorry my fingers slipped on the key board, Groezrock is happening this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I still hatched several different plans for hitching there and blagging in to surprise Jack who’s running sound for Astpai and some other bands there and to see some of the bands playing; so its really not like I’m saying this from some high and mighty position of boycott. But apparently there is a grand total of ONE band with women in it playing the entire festival. I already have Broezrock down as a massive sausage fest from the one time I went 2 years ago. I spent the whole weekend watching my ex say HEY MAN to various guys with shit beards and assorted hats whilst being introduced towards the end of these very repetitive conversations as the nameless girlfriend. Also within an hour of arriving, some douche who I refused to share my beer with informed me that he hated women, and it took me a further hour to wrestle the guitar off of all the guys lining up to play weak covers at the acoustic gathering, such creativity.. So I have my beef. Apparently this year there is also a guy who beats women playing and a known rapist. Smashing! I have no problem with most of the bands playing, some of them are friends of mine and I’m really pleased they’re getting to play a quite big festival but I’ve been hoping (/twitter & fb agitating) for some kind of Dennis from Refused style rant on the issue of representation from someone with a mic there because that fully saved my weekend two years ago. That is precisely what men within the punk community can do to change things – use their stage/ platform/ privilege.
I have a very excellent plan that will require their cooperation for next summer. I basically want to do a feminist festival stage invasion tour of all the most male dominated festivals. This will need guys playing to blag us in free and then to give up 5 mins at the end of their set for us to rush the stage (wearing superhero costumes and fake beards), stage a fake cartoonesque fight, take their instruments and play until we’re dragged off stage. I think we should be called the Plus Ones, or Spare Gender Revolution Fuck Front, I guess I’m open to suggestions. If anyone would like to join me – firstname.lastname@example.org. Petrol Girls have a very appropriate song for this: HEY I’M THE FUCKING BIG MAN, YEAH I PLAY IN A BIG BAND I THINK I’M REALLY FUNNY, I GOT SO MUCH TO TEACH YOU HONEY. BIG MAN BIG MAN. I CAN SEE YOU LOOKING AT ME, IT MEANS THAT YOU WANT ME, HEY I’M THE FUCKING DADDY, I RULE THIS SCENE PRETTY BABY, BIG MAN BIG MAN. In fact I see no reason why there shouldn’t be multiple bands doing this. If we wear fake beards they will NEVER KNOW its us..
(obviously minus the mildly offensive tea towels)
Being at such a distance from the music scene I was involved in in London has given me space to see how shitty it often was. Its problems were always swept aside, laughed over and rarely directly challenged. I’ve also had the space to find the confidence to send a message to a ‘friend’ involved in this community who sexually assaulted me a few months ago, which was something I was much to scared to tackle whilst still in the midst of that community. I feel a lot better about that now, and want to figure out what support networks can be made for women involved that I know often experience similar things. It’s so common. I also find that as a woman, the second you step out of line i.e. do not behave as the men who dominate that community want you to, you become peripheral, it doesn’t matter how many shows you run or what you do for people, you will be sidelined because the power structures within it mirror the power structures of society. If punk rock is meant to be antiauthority then it can start with smashing its own constructed hierarchies. I feel like misbehaving big time.
On a more positive note: Good Throb, Fuck Off. This is brilliant. Download it. Its so satisfyingly irreverent and is reminiscent of Crass. I need to see this band. At Storte the other night I also saw another great band who remind me loads of the Exhausts: Kenny Kenny Oh Oh from Leipzig. They were really energetic and old school. I’m pretty desperate to get a band going out here, I think I’ve found enough people and we might call ourselves Fenton, or Fenton JC after everyones favourite youtube video.
My Mayday failed because I woke up late and suck at maps meaning I walked a completely different route to the demo in the opposite direction to try and find the start, then eventually caught up with it at the bottom of my road when I’d given up and headed home. That night was brilliant though because Apologies I Have None were in town, and I took Robert to go see them. I am so excited about the direction that band is heading in. They’ve retained their signature epic build ups but made it bleak – kept the shape but whacked the saturation down and I love it. Loads of other bands including La Dispute and Brody Dalle played. I never saw the Distillers live, so for me it was incredible to see Brody Dalle live and I only got put on to La Dispute a week before the gig, but as a Listener fan it was right up my street. Their live show also involves projected photos which I really liked – anything that disrupts the standard gig dynamic.
I also saw my friend Susuana, which was lovely. We went out for desert and agreed that snacking and resting, new pastimes for both of us, are very underrated. She’s about to become NUS Women’s Officer and is basically leading the intersectional feminist charge in London Student politics.
Finally, send heavy undesirable things to ukip via their freepost because they are RACIST.