Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sound::Gender::Feminism::Activism 2014

Tara Rodgers; photo: Val Phoenix
I have just completed two days of extraordinarily thoughtful discussion about sound, gender, feminism and activism, courtesy of the conference of the same name, organised by CRiSAP. Yesterday I did my presentation on activating an archive, which was a technical challenge (if only I had three hands!), and I was much relieved when it was over. But, I am still pondering what came out of the conference.

At conferences I have attended in the past, it often felt like it built up to something and then didn't deliver: what next? At least at this conference, co-organiser Cathy Lane was explicit in her hopes for it: that someone else will take on its third iteration in two years and it can travel around (much like Ladyfest, I reckon). That would be fantastic. Clearly, there is an appetite to discuss the issues raised, and speakers had travelled from the USA, Europe, Mexico and Southern Africa to be there.

So, to the ideas raised. Well, for me, there was much interesting discussion about connection to ecology and other living things; ways of listenings; different forms of activism; and archival practices.

I think what stayed with me most, though, were the performances, which I don't recall from two years ago, when the conference was one day. I loved the performances. The first day ended with keynote speaker Maggie Nicols leading a group improv piece which ended in us all singing a sustained note, however loudly we wished and with no regard for key or pitch. That felt great.

The second day saw us meeting a puffin visitor from the Arctic Circle, courtesy of artist Elin Øyen Vister. Three of the Mexican performance group Invasorix provided a video/live performance of some of the videos of their work as feminist invaders from outer space. And the Greek troupe Fytini conducted a delightfully anarchic "lecture" on queerification and the possibilities of radical laughter. It was truly animating for me. Which is totally the wrong metaphor for a conference on sound. But, wow.

I am compiling a reading list for myself, based on works cited in the conference. So far, it includes Pauline Oliveros, bell hooks, Tara Rodgers (the other keynote speaker), Cynthia Enloe, Suzanne Lacy and others. It could go on and on.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lydia Lunch on Post-Punk

I am a couple of days late with this, owing to general busyness, but I wanted write a few words about Lydia Lunch's appearance on Thursday. Appearing as part of the Post-Punk Then and Now series, Ms. Lunch held court at Deptford Town Hall before an adoring audience.

I turned up more out of curiosity than reverence and was quite impressed. I have not really followed her career extremely closely and know her more for her outrageous reputation than anything else, but must say she was quite the star turn. She performed two spoken word pieces on New York which had me nodding in recognition. Then she spoke with host Dominic Johnson, who seemed ever so slightly unnerved by her, especially when she gave him a lap dance and made comments about him becoming her next ex-husband. There were also recorded excerpts of her various musical projects, such as Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, as well as her new Retrovirus project.

The event was recorded, and I hope it turns up somewhere, because there were many quotable and applause-worthy moments, not least Lunch's forceful declarations on the state of the planet and her quest to destroy patriarchy. I could not get any decent pictures, but there are some online.

Plucking up my courage, I asked a question about her films with Vivienne Dick, and was rewarded with not only a direct gaze (we had to cock our heads to make eye contact), but a detailed answer about how the character played by Pat Place in She Had Her Gun All Ready was based on Dick herself. Most intriguing, as is Lunch herself.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The return of Sound::Gender::Feminism::Activism

I shall have more to say on this, but for now, I am very pleased to announce that I shall be presenting at the upcoming Sound::Gender::Feminism::Activism conference in London.

Two years ago I presented at the first such conference, an event that inspired a blog post and podcast. And possibly influenced me to return to higher education! The jury's out on that one....

My topic is Activating an Archive, and I am currently putting together the material for the presentation. I am trying to decide how to get in enough sound to fulfil the conference brief while working in my points.

Very exciting!