Thursday, September 08, 2016

Disappearing Women

Over the last few years news reports have provided us with reminders of the dangers of being an investigative journalist, as the cases of Anna Politkovskaya, Marie Colvin and Veronica Guerin attest--all women who were neutralised when their reporting proved too dangerous to the powers-that-be. Many, many other women's names are less well known than these high-profile examples, as the list at the end of the short film, Blue Pen, shows. It went too quickly for me to write them down, but the litany of women with mostly Asian names who died doing their duty shows how deadly a profession journalism can be for women.

An experimental short highlighting the less well known journalist Dorothy Lawrence who "disappeared" after World War I, Blue Pen uses a split screen and voiceover to quote Lawrence, as well as sceptical male figures who were not so keen on her going to the front. Where she went and what she did is not really explained. Nor is her "disappearance", except we know that she ended up in an asylum in her later years. It's a curious piece, part educational film, part installation in waiting. I imagine the staginess is down to it being adapted from a theatrical piece. I found it oddly detached from its subject, although an actress portrays her onscreen at times. I wonder if a documentary on the subject might have had more emotional power. But, if those names at the end become better known, it will be a good thing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


I was very excited earlier in the year to learn of the Punk.London commemoration of the birth of punk. I haven't been to many of the exhibits, but have found them of varying quality. Still, there's time to revise that opinion. And of course there's the whole question as to whether punk should be commercialised in this way.

So far, I've been to the rather skimpy British Library exhibit which appears to really want to be a celebration of Sex Pistols and The Clash, while grudgingly acknowledging there were other bands. Viv Albertine's guerrilla intervention is much appreciated.

Albertine also turned up a couple of weeks ago on Mary Anne Hobbs's show, offering her views on failure, which I found quite interesting. It's not something one often hears acknowledged, much less celebrated and I didn't recall that as a theme in her memoirs, but apparently it was. Something of a punk philosopher is Viv Albertine. 

I was pleasantly surprised to discover my own borough is getting in on the act, with Punk Waltham Forest featuring exhibits and talks coming up this month, including a visit by Gina Birch to the local library. The revelation that Birch and Helen McCookerybook are making a film about women in punk was the highpoint of the BL exhibit. Can't wait for that to see the light of day.