Posted By Sandra Alland

Friday the 30th was Screen Bandita's exciting The Eruption of Kilauea and Other Treasures! What a fantastic night of screenings of 16mm film projects with live music (and poems and stories) from Zorras, Raise Your Hem, Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo and Will Pickvance! Special thanks to Tim the Sound Guy. More info here!

In other news, as some of you know, I'm currently an artist-in-residence at GoMA and Trongate 103. In July I founded a collective called b)other, and together we've created a zine called A Spot of b)other (plus a lot of other things). See here for a preview in The Skinny!

An exhibition of our work (A Spot of b)other: LBGTI Deaf and Disabled Cultures) starts at GoMA on 25 November, but next week I have an Open Studio at Trongate 103 in Glasgow.

Sandra Alland Open Studio, with members of the b)other collective
Thursday 5 November
Trongate 103 Visting Artist Studio
(located at 103 Trongate, Glasgow)
3-5pm and 6-9pm
Free!

You can drop by, see the work we've been doing and chat with the artists. Also, we will have refreshments! Also, in the evening the rest of Trongate 103 (a fantastic new arts space with many galleries) will also have an open house. Please invite your friends and family!

b)other is Sandra Alland, Stuart Crawford, Nathan Gale, Y Josephine, Jennie Kermode, Rebeca Pla, Alison Smith, Penny Stenhouse and Kristiane Taylor.

You can also have a sneak-peak at my documentary about LGBTI immigrants to Scotland... featuring Nine, Janet, Y Josephine, Kika O and Rebeca Pla.

Other than that I'm out of commission for a while, maybe be back in late November...
xox


 
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

Oh me oh my I have so many films and books and magazines to tell you about. I'll have to go through them a wee bit at a time, so as not to tire either of us out... First off, a few Canadian gems you should get your hands on if you can:

1. By a wonderful twist of coincidence, my dear friend B bought me a new art magazine at my favourtie Toronto bookshop, This Ain't the Rosedale Library, from my old friend and co-worker, James Gunn, without realising that James is an Editorial Director of the magazine! It was so great to read One Hour Empire... one of those moments when you realise your friend has been hiding his immense talents from you. OHE is a wondeful mixture of visual art, poetry, fiction, political, philosophical & personal essays, and interviews. It's actually hard to pick favourites out of this issue, it's so jam-packed with fascinating gems. I was particularly blissed to see the article by Amanda Delaney on Dr. Steven Kurtz and Critical Art Ensemble ("Challenging the Culture of Fear"), as it discusses the frightening loss of civil liberties in the current "terror" climate through detailing the horrific story of Kurtz's arrest and the confiscation of his work because of its political content. Perhaps most importantly, the article shows us Kurtz's refusal to capitulate, and gives hope for artists who are working in situations of censorship and oppression. Other contributors include bill bissett, Lisa Jarnot, Maria Legault (who has some very fascinating and funny things to say about how the French are situated in Canada), Vid Ingelevics, and Lydia Perovic (who writes eloquently about the fluidity of identity, a piece that spoke to me as a Canadian living elsewhere and for the first time being confronted with my "Canadianness," among other things...) www.onehourempire.com

2. I know poetry gets ignored a lot, and queer activist poetry more so, but it's still surprising that we haven't seen much press about the stunning new book by Toronto's (oops, Guelph's) Tara-Michelle Ziniuk. Her poems and prose-poems are divine; she melds political commentary with personal experience in a striking manner. Somewhere To Run From is Ziniuk's break-up book ... but what makes it extraordinary is that it not only grieves the dissolution and pain of personal relationships, but also her divorce from certain aspects of Toronto's activist community (and from Toronto altogether). She examines difficult subjects with precision and wit, but without coming to any easy answers about blame. Particularly haunting are Ziniuk's assessments of her Jewish heritage through the lens of the horrors of Palestine, and also of her isolation from the very people she used to fight alongside, like Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. Here in these meaty poems you'll find a complex analysis of war, class and love, and a poetic and personal bravery we don't often see.

xoxox


 
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

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

Hi,

I remember a huge debate in beginner-level Spanish during my Popular Culture class at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico -- about a blind photographer who was exhibiting there at the time (uh... around 1999). Could a blind person "take credit" for photos they couldn't see? Since photography is a "visual" art, blind people should naturally be excluded. Etc. Bla bla bla.

I also remember: a) realizing that we were never presented with information about artists with disabilities back at school in Canada (thanks Javier the Mexican Supertutor!) and; b) trying to think of the Spanish word for Shut up you able-ist Canadian wankers...

Anyway, Rosita McKenzie is a blind photographer who worked with six other visually impaired people to create Revealed, currently showing at North Edinburgh Arts Centre. I didn't love that the show was really difficult to get to and super-difficult to find, even for someone who can see perfectly well. I also didn't love that they had closed 3 hours early and started cleaning the floors with superbleach because they assumed no one would come on a sunny Friday. I *did* love that they let us in (even though the superbleach almost made me pass out).

It's odd with blindness... seeing folk are suspicious. How come you're looking at me if you're blind? Why does it seem like you can see where you're going? Well, that's because "blind" doesn't always mean completely blind, in fact many legally blind people have times of day, or certain ways, of seeing things. I've heard stories about blind folk being questioned about taking their canes into Edinburgh museums because security guards decided they were "faking"! (and their canes could be used as weapons to attack the displays?)

Anyway, this group is made up of people with various kinds of blindness, and various ways of seeing (or visually imagining) the world around them. My favourite photos were by Andreas Gartner, for me they were the most poetic.

I also liked the recordings by Rachel O'Connor and Jules Rawlinson, though they were a bit hard to hear and only one speaker had a seat next to it and you have to run from one speaker to the other (at opposite ends of the room, which is a bit hard on a fibro-gal). Perhaps most interesting of all were Camilla Adams's tactile interpretations of the photos. Adams worked closely with each artist to create touch-interpretations of the photos. It's a whole new way of  "looking" at art, one I'm curious to feel more of.

Anyway, this show is well worth the trip past Telford College into the boarded-up buildings of Pilton.

xo

S


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Tonight is the opening of Revealed: Photography for Visually Impaired People. It's sponsored by the fantabulous Stills Gallery, but is taking place at North Edinburgh Arts Centre. More info here.

In other news, the lovely Marusya Bociurkiw just departed from Edinburgh... she cooked Zorras a delicious salmon dinner last night. Thanks M, for wonderful soul-boosting food and conversation --you have no idea how good that visit was for Zorras! Check out Marusya's adventures in food and other things on her delicious blog, Recipes for Trouble.

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


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Well, it's still touch and go as to whether there will be a summer in Edinburgh this year... last night was freezing again, but today seems promising...

In other news, I must whinge a bit more about the shoddiness of the National Health Service, particularly the Department of Rheumatology at the Western Hospital -- who booked me for an appointment in May (after a 3-month wait) and then sent me a letter saying I had missed an appointment in April (that I never had) and therefore was kicked off the waiting list and had to be referred all over again. When I phoned they admitted their mistake, but refused to give me another appointment and insisted I must go back to my doctor and start again anyway. Sometimes I really wonder about Scotland... especially this strange business of communicating only by letters (which almost always contain incorrect data). The phone was invented quite a while ago friends...

In continuing NHS rage, one of my many shoddy doctors (avoid the Toll Cross Health Clinic) recently told me he is qualified to give acupuncture under the NHS. How cool is that? (I thought.) But when I arrived he informed me the acupuncture had to take place in 5 minutes (impossible) and then proceeded to just shove needles into "where it hurts the most." My ankles were bleeding, and remained swollen and bruised for three days. Plus, the guy was supposed to write me a prescription during my visit, but had me leave the room and come back so he could double-bill for two visits! Sneaky. And freaky.

In better news, I saw a lovely show that's on into June at The Owl and Lion Gallery in Grassmarket. It's called Story Motel, and features over 50 hand-made artists' books. There is some stellar stuff there, and most of it you can read on the spot if you want. Though there are plenty you'll want to buy!

Also caught the cracking Raise Your Hem at the fabulous Itsy Kabarett on Friday at Voodoo Rooms. Despite one homophobic comic (I started to heckle him but he was bombing so well on his own I just let it happen...), it was a lovely night, with loads of steamy burlesque. The Itsy folk just keep doing it better and better.

What more? Oh yes, Y and I got treated to L'empreinte de l'ange (The Mark of an Angel) at The Filmhouse yesterday. Safy Nebbou's film about the true story of a woman who becomes convinced someone else's daughter is her dead child is surprisingly good (I say this because at the beginning it seems like a stereotypical psycho flick). Catherine Frot is stellar as the lead, and kudos to Nebbou for creating a taut thriller without falling into tired old traps.

In still other news, Zorras have finished recording our first CD, thanks to the lovely and talented Andy Duncan! More on that soon. Today we are off with the dashing and talented E, to take some foppish pics.

xoxoxo


 


 
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