Monday 14 July 2008

Introduction to issue 3. April 2007


Earlier this year I was present at a feminist art performance which was aiming to address and observe, and ultimately challenge and raise discussion about aspects of Power within, and acting upon our lives. Power present in culture, in media, in society. The two DIY artists involved had brought this performance to a mainstream gallery, fully aware of just how much such establishments traditionally uphold such power, express such power, and maintain such power. As the performance developed I was allowing myself to become more and more aware of the power that keeps women from such art establishments, from expressing themselves, and from connecting and communicating sufficiently and rewardingly with others – artists, audiences, and even ourselves. It's a power that we're taught exists, yet those women up there in front of me knew just how much power and creativity they themselves held, regardless of nay-sayers. They knew they had a power, a consciousness, a need to raise such discussion as a political statement.
As trite as it may sound, as I half stood, half sat in my seat a sense of urgency cursed through me; a strong desire to communicate and connect further with the artists, a huge desire to shake everybody in the room in a conscious attempt for them to give back as much creative energy to the artists as they were giving to us, a huge desire to take ideas away into my own life in order to challenge aspects of power that impinge on me and my creative output, a huge desire to hug my friends.

I hadn't really thought of this zine in terms of 'power' before. I hadn't fully appreciated how in the act of creating a collective, collaborative zine that shares artworks, ideas, and thoughts it could be acting as a challenge to power. To be able to share art in this way is almost an act of community – allowing creative and artistic energies to be explored and communicated between us via interviews and accessible galleries of artwork – creating our own power over this 'art' thing rather than somebody doing it for us.
Ok, so that sounds vaguely hippy-ish and a bit too worthy, hell I used the word 'energy' for god's sake! But it's because I'm struggling to put into words just what this zine of art means to me, and what I hope it shares with and amongst others.
The two artists mentioned above are k8 Hardy and Wynne Greenwood (both contributors, incidentally to Colouring Outside The Lines, k8 this issue, Wynne issue one). At a DIY music event last week I was talking, coincidently and inspiringly, to a friend of theirs, Bendan Fowler after his band BARR had played. Talking with him was a huge fluke, yet somehow a perfect, comfortable, and natural connection of communities; a communication between allies, continents apart, bonded by artistic, political, feminist and creative activities. That it happened showed me further the potential of our power – power to connect with like minds outside of conventional establishments upholding 'power', but within our own lives, as a result of our own DIY contributions and creativities. It was like k8 and Wynne's performance realised within my own life, our own lives, rewardingly and inspiringly.
Brendan performing that night sang lyrics within BARR's song, 'Half of two times two'. Those lyrics, on reflection, began to ring so true to me:

'Politics is not necessarily just guerrilla fighters, prime ministers. It is also who am I in relation to you, who are we, and the way we can see our selves in relation to the other kids, the ones in the magazines, and the ones who miss out on stuff […] And if we're all here then we're also probably also special art rebels anyway. So lets all be special art rebels together. Same level.'

Maybe 'it', this collective power I'm talking about is all about notions of working together, in relation to others, and on the same level with each other; whether it be me writing this zine of a small-scale level, getting a little zine about art into peoples' hands. Or be it the fact that a gallery has built up within these pages featuring well known artists and allies such as Enid Crow, Tara Jane O'Neil, Dawn Cook, Sarah Utter, Leonie Moore and Celeste Welch sat alongside and slotting in with work by friends and allies (of mine and the other artists) - those who maybe had never shown their work on a large(ish) scale before, or who perhaps weren't previously as confident with their work; Portagen, Bee Barker, Amy Gray, Michelle Moore, Nell Smith, Emma C-A. Or even the fact that all the artists interviewed in this collection work on a 'same level - in relation to' way with their modes and means of artistry, creativity, and communication (and hence they were willing to be a part of this project of mine); from Juliana Luecking's videos of interviews with everyday people, to k8 Hardy creating live performances for audiences such as myself and other 'non artists', and artists alike too, or Leia Bell's gig posters on street corners or peoples homes, or Erika Moen and Nicole J. Georges sharing their work on a lo-fi street level via zines and comics, or like Ozge Samanci and Elena Stohr creating photographic or drawn documents of their everyday lives. It's about communicating sufficiently and rewardingly with others – artists, audiences, and ourselves. It's in relation to others. It's being everyday 'special art rebels' together, same level. And this little creative art community is really neat, and powerful from where I'm sitting!

Melanie Maddison
April 2007

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