Posted By Sandra Alland

Ladyfest Edinburgh put on a grand show at The Bowery on Saturday, thanks to them for a superb adventure. And special thanks to the newest Zorra, Ariadna Battich, for all her amazing video and technical work. We would be so fucked without you, Ari! And we'd be having less fun too...

Yesterday I passed by GoMA and checked out the exhibit they've mounted in the space where Dani Marti's work was meant to be (see previous entries for info on the cancellation of Marti's show). The first balcony has been used to highlight all GoMA's social justice work in the past (which to me seems a bit like they are protesting too much that they do good work with marginalised communities). The second balcony is slightly more interesting... it features newspaper articles about the Sh[OUT] exhibition, as well as responses from GoMA, artists, curators, gallery visitors and (other) LGBTI community members. I was impressed that GoMA presented the statements of people who were accusing them (or more specifically Culture and Sport Glasgow and City Council) of censorship and homophobia. However, the information still seems quite biased towards the gallery, as well as incomplete or inaccurate in places. GoMA maintains that Marti's work was never censored, but the reasons for rejecting his work keep changing, and in the end seem quite flimsy. Also, I still cannot grasp why a major gallery would care so much about, or even think about reacting to, what The Daily Mail says. This is the paper that yesterday said refugees are riding a "gravy train" and wasting millions of taxpayers' pounds. If something is queer or trans, they are going to find a way to make it into "porn at the cost of taxpayers." A better strategy is to target positive publicity from papers with a brain and a conscience. But this has not really happened, and from what I understand from Sh[OUT] participants, they were told their shows would be promoted LESS, in order to avoid controversy...argh. Hopefully things will improve, but it seems there is no real dialogue continuing between GoMA and the LBGTI advisory committee to Sh[OUT].

Here are two recent updates in The Guardian regarding the situation: www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/sep/22/goma-censorship-row and  www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/sep/29/goma-shout-exhibition

In other news, I saw El Nino Pez (The Fish Child), the newest film by stellar Argentine filmmaker Lucia Peunzo (creator of the amazing XXY). See both films if you can. Puenzo is an amazing director (and writer), and both films also feature the stunning actress, Ines Efron. El Nino Pez is the unlikely love story between a middle-class Argentinian girl and the native Paraguayan girl hired as her housekeeper. It's stunning.

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Cachín Cachán Cachunga! just keeps getting better and better! Last night both Stuart Crawfrod and Pat Cunningham had their debut performances, and both were stellar! Crawford's inspired Nick Cave-esque singing was accompanied by his excellent and creepy photos. Cunningham's poetry was accompanied by gorgeous drawings by Rabiya Choudhry. We were also treated to a new film by Anna Urbanowska and dance by Lily. Zorras performed two new poem/song-like entities, and people seemed to dig them. Yay for Cachín! More queer and trans poetry, music, dance, video and photography next month. Info here.

In other news, here's a Guardian article about the censorship of queer art at GoMA (and elsewhere...)

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Zorras are in the current issue of Diva (The Fat Issue, yay!) in the Queer Tribe section.

In other news, we went to the opening of Dani Marti's show last night on Parnie Street in Glasgow. The Glasgay! gang have put on a fabulous show, despite not being able to do the planned show at GoMA. I was really moved by many of the films, which are primarily of men lying in bed talking about intimate subjects. I really cannot believe these films were cancelled at GoMA, and that one of the main "reasons" given was that one man talks about doing drugs. These are beautiful, important films about HIV+ gay men. They are a celebration of life, and of the bravery of these men to speak openly about difficult subjects in Scotland.

Protests against the removal of Dani's work continue, piles of red scouring pads (hand-made by African women in support of HIV+ people in Africa) are being left as reminders around Glasgow. 

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

I'm trying to make my blog more accessible to the visually impaired by using a bigger font, but my stupid provider, Doteasy, first of all limits the number of words I can use in a blog entry (annoying), and secondly limits the words according to their size (bigger font = shorter entries only). So if I want to be accessible I'm not allowed to say very much. For more info on the annoyances of digital accessibility (for creators and visitors of sites) go to the blog of deaf and disabled artist, Alison Smith.

Here's an excellent article by Jennie Kermode on the ongoing problems regarding the reported censorship of Dani Marti's work by Glasgow Culture and Sport.www.eyeforfilm.co.uk/feature.php

In other news, I promised more thoughts on great Canadian stuff I've been reading. So next in line is Stuart Ross's new book of short stories, Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books). I love this book. I devoured it in a couple of hours, then read it again. Each story is a bizarre, surreal voyage. As usual, Ross moves you from the hilarious to the tragic in two words, and leaves you not quite sure how you ended up crying. I especially love "Three Arms Less" (an unusual meditation on war and race), "Me and the Pope" (where the Pope comes to crash at Ross's apartment during his visit to Toronto), and "Language Lessons... with Simon and Marie!" (a parody on learning a foreign language, in a war zone). The book has numerous references to war and its absurdities, particularly the Contras and Nicaragua, that leave you with a chill. I said "as usual" above, but perhaps actually Ross's short stories are emotionally scarier than his poetry, and not less funny exactly (because they are still really funny), but a more edgy kind of funny. A funny with something waiting behind it you're not sure you're ready for...

Speaking of war zones, I watched El Norte, the 1983 independent film by Gregory Nava, about two indigenous Guatemalans who flee to Mexico, then the United States, after their family is slaughtered for planning a strike. It's a stunning film, and shows the brutalities illegal immigrants face to get to, and then also survive in, the supposed Land of the Free. It's sad to see how little has changed... if it weren't for the production values I wouldn't necessarily have known I was watching a film from 25 years ago.

xox


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art has been the centre of much drama this year. A quick background to catch you up:

1. The LGBTI exhibition for Sh[OUT], GoMA's fourth Social Justice programme and exhibition, started last spring. There was some mild "outrage" from crap "media" The Daily Mail (like the Enquirer in North America, only local crap reporting), about a Robert Mapplethorpe photo from the 1970s being "pornography." This was no shock, as such papers always write this kind of shite. Nonetheless, GoMA and the Council took it VERY seriously. Which was perhaps the beginning of the problems which have compounded until now.

2. Glasgow City Council also banned all minors and schools (including high schools!) from seeing the exhibition, which -- let's be frank -- is really quite tame. People showed up in droves because of the "shocking" works, only to leave somewhat bewildered and disappointed. LGBTI high school students missed an opportunity to feel they are humans (including an exhibition by LGBT Youth Scotland).

3. Made In God's Image opened in the summer, an LGBTI work by various artists and religious groups from Scotland. One work by a lesbian Christian minister invited people to "write themselves back" into the Bible. Some visitors wrote rude things, mostly people criticised religion for denying them human rights. But the Daily Mirror reported that people were being invited to "deface" the Bible. Several right-wing Christian groups, without having seen the show, protested and threatened staff at GoMA, and wrote hate mail to the artists and gallery. In total, GoMA received the small number of 650 letters of complaint, the majority from people who had NEVER SEEN THE SHOW. Several other crap newspapers picked up the story, exaggerating it slightly more each time. Perhaps most importantly, several city councillors received letters and panicked.

GoMA responded by removing the "offensive" pages, placing the Bible under glass, and also posting a sign: "This work may be offensive to some." This is the first time in the history of the gallery that it has modified a work of art. Can it be a coincidence that this took place with an LGBTI work?

(Side note: In the Rendering Gender exhibit one floor down, the comments book  began to fill up with hate-notes against queers and trans people, but nothing was done to censor these comments and they remained until the end of the show...)

4. This brings us to Dani Marti's autumn exhibition, which was to focus on older gay men and issues around HIV and homosexuality in Scotland. The Council, and Culture and Sport Glasgow (who own GoMA), put pressure on GoMA, who in turn decided not to show Marti's films. See this Herald article for some background. They felt it was "bad timing" and that they could not show films that discussed "drugs," sex and HIV. Never mind the audience that might desperately need to see these films. The decision was made that the works MIGHT offend...and who we are not sure... The Daily Mail? The same Christians who were offended by the last work (even though this new work has nothing to do with religion)?

This is the kind of anti-queer hysteria I thought we had battled against (and won) in the 1980s. It is a huge betrayal of the LGBTI community's trust to create a safe space, a "social justice" program, for them -- and then to capitulate to homo- and trans- phobia without a real fight. More news as it comes in. xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Scragfight, who should receive awards simply for their name, also happen to be a fantastic band. Catch them anywhere you can! Likewise with the The Fnords. Both Glasgow bands make harder music than this pansy generally gets down to, but they won Zorras over to the other side Saturday at Stereo. What a great night!

In other news, I had a picnic with Dr. D and Sir V in the cemetery yesterday, which was divine. I'm sad to see the doctor go back across the ocean, and soon Sir V will be gone again too. Thanks for the good times, dear ones. You soften the sharp edges of the world.

xo

 


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

A big warm welcome to Dr. D, who has arrived with poetic timing from Canada via Manchester. And also to Sir V from Ireland!

Please join our gang of philosophers, poets and punks at Stereo in Glasgow tomorrow night at 7:30 for Cherry Bomb, featuring Zorras, The Fnords and the brilliant Scragfight.

xoxox


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

The most recent exhibits as part of Sh[OUT] at Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art are full of intriguing and powerful stuff. Please check them out!

There's Made In God's Image (Anthony Schrag & David Malone, in collaboration with Metropolitan Community Church, Quest, Al Jannah and individuals from a range of faiths). These works explore faith and LGBTI issues. The photos that most interested me were by the Muslim participant (names are missing from the website, in some cases purposefully I think...), I liked that he not only explored issues that pained him but also had some fun. I was also drawn into the Bible-eating and participatory Bible-rewriting project by a young Christian woman. Overall I would have liked to see more of a focus on the quality of photographs in the show, but I also understand that the content was the more important issue here...

And then there's Rendering Gender (David Sherry, in collaboration with Transgender Alliance's Transforming Arts). Here's the link to some images from Rendering Gender, although it attributes the artworks to David Sherry, when they are in fact from a variety of people... http://www.shoutdocuments.com/david_document.html. I liked almost everything in this exhibition... but the work that affected me the most was by Kristi Taylor, who contributed stunning and often hilarious drawings, as well as a sculpture and video, about her experience as a trans woman. Taylor is definitely someone to watch. Her work truly made my day.

Okay, gotta fly.

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Here are two really good websites for the street community, particularly in Canada.

www.homelessnation.org and www.povnet.org

They are also worth visiting to see excellent models for peer support through online social networks. And there are some excellent videos on homelessness and the working poor.

In other news, I'm looking for collaborators for a photo and zine project for my job at Sh[OUT]. Click here for details.

xo

 

 


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

So Michael Jackson died. There's of course more news coverage on the death of a pop star than on the stepped-up wars in Afghanistan, or the new reports of torture in secret U.S. prisons (and the Brits who lent a helping hand). Nonetheless it is one of those... historic moments? When I was ten, I wanted to *be* Michael Jackson. There's that, too. In the end I never knew what to think of the man, except that he was talented and knew how to move people...

But Farrah Fawcett died yesterday too... and Charlie's Angels were pretty damn cool. I also wanted to be her when I was 10. Bad timing, Farrah. I'm afraid no one's gonna notice now... there's too much cash to be made off of Michael.

In better news, Y was on fire last night. Zorras played to a small but delicious crowd at the lovely lovely Bowery. Thanks to Jane for the gig! Hailey Beavis was great too, she's quite a composer and plays guitar superwell. And I super super dug The Debutante Hour, a trio of women who are hilarious and fun and gooooooooooooood. Some of the best lyrics I've heard in ages! Too bad you can't see them, cuz they're off to Poland, but check them out if you can. Y joined them onstage for a couple of songs, one of which was a Ukrainian song that brought the house down!

In still other news, I saw on the news the other day that Prince Charles spent 3 million pounds of taxpayers' money on travel last year! I've never been a fan of the royal family, yet I'm more infuriated than usual. And that's just *one* of a huge family of idiots. But instead of doing away with the royals (I mean, really, don't they have enough of their own money??!), the government does things like focusing on the tiny number of people committing "benefit fraud." They encourage people to spy on their neighbours and report those living in poverty who may have "stolen" 200 pounds, when the real thieves are the banks (that have been bailed out with our money), the car companies (also bailed out with our money), and here in the UK -- the royal family. Millions of pounds for non-essential travel is never justifiable, and even less so in these times.

Lastly, check out the new shows as part of Sh[OUT] at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. Anthony Schrag collaborated with LGBTI faith communities (including Al Jannah, Metropolitan Community Church and Quest), and David Sherry worked with The Scottish Transgender Alliance.

And speaking of the queers, tomorrow is Pride Scotia. The parade kicks off at 1pm on The Royal Mile.

xox


 


 
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