Category Archives: Attire

Rebecca Horn, Unicorn (1970–2) and Performances II (1973)

Unicorn appears in Horn’s 1970 film of the same name, and in her 1973 film Performances II.

Unicorn is a white sculpture designed to be worn by a female performer. A series of vertical and horizontal white fabric straps serve as a kind of bodice that binds the performer’s naked body, with further straps connecting the neck to a tall, conical, horn-like structure that extends vertically from the top of the performer’s head. In an interview in 1993 Horn explained the development and original manifestation of this work, one of her earliest sculptures for the body:

[I had a vision] of this woman, another student. She was very tall and had a beautiful way of walking. I saw her in my mind’s eye, walking with this tall, white stick on her head which accentuated her graceful walk. I was very shy, but I started talking to her and proposed that I measure her to build this body-construction that she would have to wear naked and that would terminate in a large unicorn horn on her head. To my surprise she agreed … I invited some people and we went out to this forest at four AM. She walked all day through the fields … she was like an apparition.
(Quoted in Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1993, p.16.)

Developed from a 1968–9 preparatory sketch (Tate T12783), Unicorn is part of a series of body extensions – including Trunk 1967–9 (Tate T07855), Arm Extensions 1968 (Tate T07857), and Scratching Both Walls at Once 1974–5 (Tate T07846) – in which unwieldy prosthetics are used to emphasise the fragility and vulnerability of the human body. For Unicorn, however, the layers of meaning are more complex: the single woman clad in white, the original forest location and the symbolism of the unicorn reflect what curator Germano Celant has identified as Horn’s ‘intentional manifestation of white magic, in which woman tries to win out over reality and society’ (quoted in Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1993, p.44).

Emerging onto the art scene in the late 1960s, the German artist Rebecca Horn was part of a generation of artists whose work challenged the institutions, forces and structures that governed not only the art world but society at large. In art, this meant a renewed critical focus on the human body, contesting the commodification of art objects by foregrounding the individual. This focus on the human body took on a particular personal resonance for Horn, who was confined to hospitals and sanatoria for much of her early twenties after suffering from severe lung poisoning while working unprotected with polyester and fibreglass at Hamburg’s Academy of the Arts.

Horn has made work in a variety of media throughout her career, from drawing to installation, writing to filmmaking. Yet it is with her sculptural constructions for the body that she has undertaken the most systematic investigation of individual subjectivity. Her bodily extensions, for example, draw attention to the human need for interaction and control while also pointing to the futility of ambitions to overcome natural limitations. Similarly, her constructions, despite their medical imagery, are deliberately clumsy and functionless, while other works attest to the unacknowledged affinities between humans, animals and machines.

Further reading
Ida Gianelli (ed.), Rebecca Horn: Diving through Buster’s Bedroom, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 1990, pp.38–9.
Germano Celant, Nancy Spector, Giuliana Bruno and others, Rebecca Horn, exhibition catalogue, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 1993, no.4.
Armin Zweite, Katharina Schmidt, Doris von Drathen and others, Rebecca Horn: Drawings, Sculptures, Installations, Films 1964–2006, Ostfildern 2006, pl.25.

Lucy Watling, August 2012″

sculptural horn

[credit]

Apollo 11 Moonwalk (1969)

Footage from the Apollo 11 moonwalk that was partially restored in 2009.

[credit] “July 1969. It’s a little over eight years since the flights of Gagarin and Shepard, followed quickly by President Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon before the decade is out.

 

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Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong working at an equipment storage area on the lunar module. This is one of the few photos that show Armstrong during the moonwalk. Click image to enlarge.
Credits: NASA
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Smoke and flames signal the opening of a historic journey as the Saturn V clears the launch pad. Click image to enlarge.
Credits: NASA
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Buzz Aldrin climbs down the Eagle’s ladder to the surface. Click image to enlarge.
Credits: NASA
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Crater 308 stands out in sharp relief in this photo from lunar orbit. Click image to enlarge.
Credits: NASA

 

It is only seven months since NASA’s made a bold decision to send Apollo 8 all the way to the moon on the first manned flight of the massive Saturn V rocket.

Now, on the morning of July 16, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sit atop another Saturn V at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The three-stage 363-foot rocket will use its 7.5 million pounds of thrust to propel them into space and into history.

At 9:32 a.m. EDT, the engines fire and Apollo 11 clears the tower. About 12 minutes later, the crew is in Earth orbit. (› Play Audio)

After one and a half orbits, Apollo 11 gets a “go” for what mission controllers call “Translunar Injection” – in other words, it’s time to head for the moon. Three days later the crew is in lunar orbit. A day after that, Armstrong and Aldrin climb into the lunar module Eagle and begin the descent, while Collins orbits in the command module Columbia.

Collins later writes that Eagle is “the weirdest looking contraption I have ever seen in the sky,” but it will prove its worth.

When it comes time to set Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, Armstrong improvises, manually piloting the ship past an area littered with boulders. During the final seconds of descent, Eagle’s computer is sounding alarms.

It turns out to be a simple case of the computer trying to do too many things at once, but as Aldrin will later point out, “unfortunately it came up when we did not want to be trying to solve these particular problems.”

When the lunar module lands at 4:17 p.m EDT, only 30 seconds of fuel remain. Armstrong radios “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mission control erupts in celebration as the tension breaks, and a controller tells the crew “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.” (› Play Audio)

Armstrong will later confirm that landing was his biggest concern, saying “the unknowns were rampant,” and “there were just a thousand things to worry about.”

At 10:56 p.m. EDT Armstrong is ready to plant the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbs down the ladder and proclaims: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” (› Play Audio)

Aldrin joins him shortly, and offers a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: “magnificent desolation.” They explore the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs.

They leave behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs. It reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Armstrong and Aldrin blast off and dock with Collins in Columbia. Collins later says that “for the first time,” he “really felt that we were going to carry this thing off.”

The crew splashes down off Hawaii on July 24. Kennedy’s challenge has been met. Men from Earth have walked on the moon and returned safely home.

In an interview years later, Armstrong praises the “hundreds of thousands” of people behind the project. “Every guy that’s setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, ‘If anything goes wrong here, it’s not going to be my fault.'” (› Read 2001 Interview, 172 Kb PDF)

In a post-flight press conference, Armstrong calls the flight “a beginning of a new age,” while Collins talks about future journeys to Mars.

Over the next three and a half years, 10 astronauts will follow in their footsteps. Gene Cernan, commander of the last Apollo mission leaves the lunar surface with these words: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind.” “

Michèle Magema, Across the Souvenirs (2010)

This work has multiple sections: déambulation, where the artist silently walks across the screen carrying two bags wearing a white dress; Expansion, where the artist walks up stairs and across the screen – the image is doubled and reflected with reduced opacity and there is piano music playing; Transcription, where the artist walks across the screen in a white dress with a piece of chalk drawing a hip-height line across a black wall, then erases the lines with water – again the image is doubled during the drawing, but not the erasing, and music is present for the erasure.

“My work exists within an intermediary zone, a sort of matter space of a frontier I have produced and that I situate within the countries of France and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am a cultural hybrid endowed with a composite identity. The plurality of my parents provide me with the authorization to interrogate my own history and that of a nation, the place of my birth, as well as the continent of Africa at large. The relationship that I maintain with my own personal history or histories and to history as a larger entity permits me to formulate a critical acquisition to write the concept of exitism. Exitism is a representation that is largely shared with history and even with practices at times. As the material of my work is always simple. I use historical facts that I interpret through the prediction of scene. Through these frontal images I expose my body that I use as a metaphor for the relationship between the human being and the world at large. My work sets up a direct relationship that centered on the world the field of society and politics. – Excerpts from Global Feminisms: Michèle Magema 2010″ [credit]

Michèle Magema, Oyé Oyé (2002)

Oyé Oyé / screen 2 from Michèle Magema on Vimeo.

Oye Oye, 2002
Video, 5:30 min.
Michèle Magema
* 1977 Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

“In Oyé Oyé Michèle Magema deals with the Memory of the father and an entire generation of men and women who were eager to achieve a modern Africa. Oyé Oyé is about nation-building, a stop on the journey to a so-called « utopialand ». It is the raving story of a man who seized power and perverted history, Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) from 1965 to 1997. Mobutu pursued a phantasmagorical vision of an «  authentic » Africa. (« Autenticity » was political, social, economic, and cultural ideology implemented in 1970 with the goal of shaking off all colonial influence, to the point of banning Western poducts and prohibiting Christian names.)

Magema’s Oyé Oyé is a two-channel video installation; on one side the artist, shown without a head, mimes a military march; on the other are public images from the Mobutu era, such as parades. In both the African female body is shown as an instrument of propaganda. By parodying the political concept of identity, Magema forces us to reconsider a country’s past.

Yvonne Rainer, Trio A (1978)

woman dancing

Yvonne Rainer, “Trio A” 1978. Video (black and white, sound), 10:21 min

“Yvonne Rainer—regarded as a foundational force in American contemporary art, film, and postmodern dance—began her career in New York in 1956. After a false start in acting, she entered the Martha Graham School, a dance school and associated company named for its founder, who is largely credited with revolutionizing modern dance. There, Rainer discovered a passion for this art form. She was trained in a style of movement characterized by expressiveness and virtuosity and in narrative choreography filled with drama and psychological intensity. But Rainer grew dissatisfied with the conventions of modern dance and the traditional relationship between dancer and audience. As she has explained: “Early on, I began to question the pleasure I took in being looked at, this dual voyeuristic, exhibitionistic relation of dancer to audience.”1 Fueled by such questioning, and her opposition to the tenets of classical and modern dance, she created Trio A.

Rainer choreographed Trio A in 1966, and performed it for the camera in 1978. Written for a solo performer, it incorporates no music and features a seamless flow of everyday movements like toe tapping, walking, and kneeling. “[It] would be about a kind of pacing where a pose is never struck,” the artist once described. “There would be no dramatic changes, like leaps. There was a kind of folky step that had a rhythm to it, and I worked a long time to get the syncopation out of it.”2 Trio A positioned Rainer as a leader among the dancers, composers, and visual artists who were involved in the Judson Dance Theater (which she co-founded in 1962), an avant-garde collaborative that ushered in an era of contemporary dance through stripped-down choreography and casual and spontaneous performances.

Yvonne Rainer’s “No Manifesto”
A year before creating Trio A, Yvonne Rainer wrote her “No Manifesto” (1965). Through it, she declared her opposition to the dominant forms of dance of the period—typified by Martha Graham—and outlined the tenets of her radical new approach:

No to spectacle.
No to virtuosity.
No to transformations and magic and make-believe.
No to the glamour and transcendency of the star image.
No to the heroic.
No to the anti-heroic.
No to trash imagery.
No to involvement of performer or spectator.
No to style.
No to camp.
No to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer.
No to eccentricity.
No to moving or being moved.3

Early Recognition—a Double-Edged Sword?
Sometimes, artists find that groundbreaking work produced early in their career may overshadow the rest of their output. This was the case for Rainer with Trio A and “No Manifesto.” In her words: “It’s a little unfortunate, because it eclipses everything else I’ve done. [It’s] the most out-there, visible signature of my career. That and the ‘No Manifesto.’”4 In the 1970s, she stopped dancing altogether and turned her attention fully to filmmaking, producing films including Lives of Performers (1972), Kristina Talking Pictures (1976), and Privilege (1990). It was not until the 2000s that Rainer would return to choreography.” [credit]

Kubra Khademi, Kubra & Pedestrian Sign (2016)

Live Performance by Kubra Khademi
16 Feburary 2016, Paris, France

“PE: When you moved to France, you continued to put on walking performances. For Kubra & Pedestrian Sign (2016) you walked through Paris in a black dress and high heels with a pedestrian crossing lightbox tied to the top of your head, except the green sign in the box was a female figure. I’m curious about how you found the experience of reclaiming public space in this new European context.

KK: The challenges are different here: the texture and sense of the landscape, the cityscape, the people around me. Public space in France and the Parisian art scene are still very masculine, but in a far more subtle and sophisticated way. No one harasses me in Europe like they do in Afghanistan. I don’t need an armor to walk here. The city is like that blank white page again. That was the first performance I put on in a public space after then one in the Kabul. It was a few months after I arrived. The image of me is almost funny. I was looking into people’s eyes and allowing them to talk to me. Most of the reactions were similar, but one woman screamed at me from the other side of the street, “That is sexist! Skirts are sexist!”” [credit]

Kubra Khademi, Armor (2015)

Images screen captured from video documentation

Since 2015, the Afghan artist Kubra Khademi has been based in Paris. Khademi moved to France due to the violence she faced in the wake of her 2015 performance Armor, for which she walked through a busy area in central Kabul dressed in custom-made metal armor: an artistic gesture meant to highlight how women are sexually and verbally harassed in public spaces. After studying fine arts at the University of Kabul, and later at the University of Beaconhouse in Lahore, Khademi committed herself to the continuous reflection of the condition of women’s lives in Afghanistan. Her work spans performance, painting, and drawing. In the last year, Khademi finished a series of large-scale paintings and drawings. They are inspired by the way Afghan women express their sexuality through a coded and subversive poetic language that remains unrecognizable to men. The art critic and editor Philomena Epps met Khademi for V/A and spoke to her about the assertive and unapologetic presence of women in her work as a form of resistance against the patriarchal order. Their conversation is published here as a contribution to our current thematic focus “disappearing.”

Kubra Khademi Power and Destruction
Kubra Khademi – Drawing from Power and Destruction

PHILOMENA EPPS: I wanted to begin our conversation with the concept of “disappearing.” I’m thinking about how your work might be framed as the antithesis to this theme, because it insists on the presence of women. There is an insistence on the body, on being seen, and a profound emphasis on the female subjectivity, all as a form of resistance. Could you, as an artist and as a woman, speak about this refusal to disappear in relation to physical presence as a political act?

KUBRA KHADEMI: Much of my work comes from my personal life experience and stories about the women I know. I talk about them; I talk about myself, about my mother, about my sisters. Someone once asked me, “Where are the men in your family?” This question was asked out of curiosity, but I received it very violently; I was disturbed. I thought, “Why are you repeating what my society, where women don’t exist, has done to me? Why should I reproduce what it has done?” My work is becoming more and more feminine. These stories can’t be told another way. It’s all about liberty; it’s about saying whatever I want to say.

PE: Your artistic practice has been engaged with the condition of women’s lives and questions of violence and repression. Both issues are historical as well as deeply personal to you.

KK It reflects the heart of popular Afghan society: the men are outside, and the women have to be in the kitchen. Women have to serve the soldiers; they have to cook for them. That is how they get their value. Religion plays a big role in serving the patriarchy, or perhaps it is patriarchy that serves religion. And women also practice patriarchy. People tell me that men are also imprisoned by patriarchy, that it is also violent to men, that it tells them they should not be soft, they should not be feminine – of course, but I don’t care. I have five sisters and four brothers. When my father died, my brother took over. If it wasn’t him, it would have been another man: an uncle, a neighbor. This isn’t a theoretical argument – it all comes from my life experience. I’ve grown up in a culture and society where being an artist and a woman is a terrible thing, because art is all about self-expression. When I was a child, my mother took us to bathe in a public, woman-only hammam. It was a very secure and trusting environment; I saw so many free, female bodies. It was there that I saw the adult female sex for the first time. I didn’t understand what I was feeling, but when I got home, I was looking for paper. I was already drawing a lot then, so I took my sketchbook and started drawing what I had just seen: all these female figures. I then hid my drawings. I tore them up and hid them under a carpet because I had this fear. My mum was cleaning and found the drawings a few days later. I was so scared. She got the electric fire and hit me with it. I’ve forgotten the pain of it, but I haven’t forgotten the feeling of guilt she gave me. I hung my head in shame for months; I could not raise it. My mum didn’t buy sketchbooks for me again, and I didn’t draw for a long time. Paper was very expensive anyway. When I draw today and leave expanses of white space, it is such a celebration for me, that I can buy these big sheets of white paper. I draw sexually liberated women, and I also practice leaving all this white space that I wasn’t afforded when I was a child.

PE: It’s interesting that your primal instinct was to record what you were seeing, even when you were so young, because this formative moment ended up shaping the direction of your work as an artist.

KK: I am so happy that there is no guilt anymore. We have to celebrate living without any guilt. The guilt was more painful than that electric fire on my body. I remember so clearly how my head was down for months, the feeling of pain in my neck. I was paralyzed. I could not draw.

PE: The physical toll shame takes on the body is unsettlingly overwhelming.

KK: No one spoke about it. When I came to France in 2015, after twenty-six years, I started talking about these experiences. I tried to re-draw that image from the hammam. I won’t forget it. I put colour on their bodies, and I called it Twenty Years of Sin. When people see that drawing, they do not fully understand what it means to me, neither back then nor now.

Kubra Khademi – Twenty Years of Sin (2016)

PE: I’d like to go back to 2015, to the performance piece Armor that led to you moving to France: you walked through a street in central Kabul, a public place in which you were highly visible, dressed in custom-made metal armor that emphasized your breasts, belly, and bottom. You had made it in response to the violent patriarchal politics of Afghanistan, particularly to how women are sexually assaulted and harassed in public spaces. Could you say more about what motivated the development of that performance, but also how the impact and severity of the performance’s fallout ended with you fleeing the country.

KK: I’m an artist who finds public space very inspiring. It’s fluid and free, the world as my studio. Before Armor, that was how I was working in Afghanistan. But I also come from a world where I should not be present. I have been sexually harassed like millions of other women in Afghanistan. We live in a culture of systemic sexual violence. If you’re raped, it’s your fault. It’s your destiny because you’re a girl. It’s taboo to bring this up. Very few women feel able to talk about it. I find that so disturbing. While I was performing Armor, the number of men around me increased every few seconds. I felt fear but also assured. That was what the performance was about: this is the way it is. I was prepared to be mocked, insulted, laughed at – those are daily things we experience as working, active women. That’s everywhere; I was ready for that. However, my performance was not an image that people saw daily. After I arrived at the end point, where my friend was waiting for me in a taxi, people started jumping on the car. The driver was frightened because he was in danger, so he started driving without looking back. When I turned on my phone the next day, I saw that it was all over the news and social media. My image was shaking the country. I assumed that it soon would be forgotten, but that was naive. It didn’t die down. The performance was presented as a project of the United States against Islam values, as blasphemy, as encouraging female prostitution. The image then started circulating internationally, which made it worse because people in the Western world admired it. It was out of control. The world was in shock; my country was in shock. Once again, local media spoke about it, as I was being criticized for being a spy and a puppet of the United States that wanted to gain the attention of the West. And outsiders perceived my work as activism. That was painful for me. This wasn’t activism; I’m an artist. By the time I moved to France, I was in significant danger. I was lucky I stayed alive. To this day, I still receive messages of hate on Instagram from Afghan people.

Kubra Khademi performs Armor in Kabul (2015)
Kubra Khademi performs Armor in Kabul (2015)

PE: I see it as an artistic work. The suit of armor, the costume of war, creates a striking image of protection and aggression, but it is contrasted with this enhancement of the female form, exaggerating the softness and vulnerability of the unclothed body. The act of walking is also reminiscent of female artists who used their body as artistic material in the 1970s. I’m thinking about performances and images made by women such as Valie EXPORT, Marina Abramović, Anna Maria Maiolino. These artists developed revolutionary ways to speak about violence against women, about censorship, or harassment, through a performative language and by provocatively staging feminine vulnerability and endurance in the act of spectacle. Seeing your performance only as a protest piece minimizes the depth of these artistic considerations and intentions. Of course, there are gestures within the work which could be thought of as activism, but it is art.

KK: Seeing it as an activist project implies judgement. It is an art piece. When I was a child, I already used to say, “I am an artist.” That is unbearable for my society. My society wanted to imprison me, make me a wife, a mother, but I wanted freedom. I am unmarried. I do not care about it.

PE: When you moved to France, you continued to put on walking performances. For Kubra & Pedestrian Sign (2016) you walked through Paris in a black dress and high heels with a pedestrian crossing lightbox tied to the top of your head, except the green sign in the box was a female figure. I’m curious about how you found the experience of reclaiming public space in this new European context.

KK: The challenges are different here: the texture and sense of the landscape, the cityscape, the people around me. Public space in France and the Parisian art scene are still very masculine, but in a far more subtle and sophisticated way. No one harasses me in Europe like they do in Afghanistan. I don’t need an armor to walk here. The city is like that blank white page again. That was the first performance I put on in a public space after then one in the Kabul. It was a few months after I arrived. The image of me is almost funny. I was looking into people’s eyes and allowing them to talk to me. Most of the reactions were similar, but one woman screamed at me from the other side of the street, “That is sexist! Skirts are sexist!”

Kubra Khademi – Drawing at the solo exhibition From the Two Page Book at Galerie Eric Mouchet (2021)

PE: Earlier this year, Galerie Eric Mouchet in Paris presented your solo exhibition From the Two Page Book. The gouache paintings depict a matriarchal society, in which nude women engage in sexual and vulgar acts. I’d like to ask you about the erotic dimension of these paintings. The series draws on the writings of the poet Rumi in a homage to the particular form of language that Afghan women use when they discuss their sexuality.

KK: I have a clear position toward the women in my drawings. This is how I show femininity. These women in my paintings are not nude. To me, they are not naked; they are just bodies. If I was to clothe them, then in what clothes? Which identity? Do I dress them in the clothes I wore in Afghanistan or the European style I wear now? Clothes are dictated by geographical and religious borders. When I was a child, I drew what I saw, and I still see women this way. I chose Rumi to set up a parallel with the dialogue between women I know. All of these drawings come from a feminine universe that exists within Afghan popular culture. It’s fascinating how religion has divided women and men into two specific spaces. What women have constructed in their own space is another world that is poetic and liberated, where they trust one another. Men occupy space in a very brutal way. With my mother and her friends, when they come to talk about things, they are constantly laughing. This doesn’t mean they are happy or naive. They talk a lot about sexuality. If you were to arrive in an Afghan village, you would think, “Oh my god, the women are so repressed here,” but you would be wrong to think they don’t know anything about their sexuality. It comes out in another very beautiful way. We talk about fetishes and sexual fantasies, but it is not rooted in pornography. We talk about sex in a very funny way. When women talk about their sexual experiences, which they do woman to woman, they do not name their husbands. A friend of my mother’s calls her husband “a donkey,” which both mocks him and raises his sexual power. We use a lot of metaphors. This humor is so present in our society, but it is invisible to men. In my paintings, the body of the donkey has been removed, leaving only his sex. We say, “Cut it and keep it under the bed so it can serve you whenever you want,” because we do not want anything else. Men are just useless creatures.

Kubra Khademi - Power and Destruction
Kubra Khademi – Drawing from Power and Destruction (2021)

PE: It’s like another dialogue or even a code. Your painted images are another manifestation of this coded language in visual form.

KK: Yes, it’s all about code. When I showed these works to my sister and my mother, we all knew what they were about. It wasn’t anything new. These are daily conversations. It’s fluid among us, we practice it. It was necessary for me to create a feminine universe. There is one work called Frontline (2021): women end up on the frontline very easily. One woman is pregnant, the other woman next to her is shitting. Women are called dirty, yet they have to be pure. The choice of being pregnant doesn’t exist in Afghan culture. I’m navigating between all of these issues. It’s a fight against the history and a system protected by religion. All the images are deliberately huge. These women have to be bigger than men. They are all two meters, and the drawing itself is 6 meters by 2.5 meters.

PE: They dominate the space. They are larger than life. This month, as part of The Enchanted exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and an offshoot of the events programmed by Nuit Blanche, you will destroy a series of recent drawings in a public performance. Titled Power and Destruction, these images depict sexually liberated warrior goddesses.

KK: Last year, I made a lot of drawings. It was fascinating to express myself in this way. The medium allows for exploration and imagination. You can create another world, unlike performing in front of the camera. I wanted the drawings to mirror live performance art, and the way it disappears after the event. I also decided to take the power back regarding the destination of my work. I have drawn mythical goddesses inspired by my Afghan origins. They are all extraordinary women. I want to exert my power as an artist as both the creator and destructor of these works. The only person to remain is the artist, who is alive.” [credit]

 

 

Women’s Suffrage Procession (1913)

“Thousands of women gathered in Washington, D.C. to call for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. While women had been fighting hard for suffrage for over 60 years, this marked the first major national event for the movement.

The huge parade, which was spearheaded by Alice Paul and the National American Woman Suffrage Association, was held on March 3, 1913. Riding atop a white horse, lawyer and activist Inez Milholland led over five thousand suffragettes up Pennsylvania Avenue, along with over 20 parade floats, nine bands, and four mounted brigades.

parade with horses and flags

Women suffragists marching on Pennsylvania Avenue led by Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson (center on horseback); U.S. Capitol in background. (Library of Congress

The organizers of the parade also maximized attention on the event by strategically hosting it just one day before the inauguration of President-elect Woodrow Wilson. This tactic worked. As the women marched from the U.S. Capitol toward the Treasury Building, they were met by thousands of spectators, many in town for the inauguration.

Not all spectators were kind. Some marchers were jostled, tripped, and violently attacked, while police on the parade route did little to help.  By the end of the day, over 100 women had to be hospitalized for injuries. However, the women did not give up; they finished the parade. Their experiences led to major news stories and even congressional hearings. Historians later credited the 1913 parade for giving the suffrage movement a new wave of inspiration and purpose.

suffrage parade

While it took another seven years for the Nineteenth Amendment to be ratified on August 18, 1920, the women who marched on this day in history accomplished their goal of reinvigorating the suffrage movement. As the official parade pamphlet read, they gave “expression to the nation-wide demand for an amendment to the United States Constitution enfranchising women.” Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, and the others who marched in 1913 are just some of the women who made a more just and prosperous future possible for all Americans.” [credit]

Nando Messias, The Sissy’s Progress (2014)

A person in a red dress with a parade behind them

Nando Messias, The Sissy’s Progress (2014)

by Nando Messias
Musical director Jordan Hunt

Nando Messias was beaten up on the street in an act of homophobic hatred. After years of dreaming up his response, he presents The Sissy’s Progress, a spectacle of provocation, celebration and hyperflamboyance.

Part dance-theatre, part walking performance, The Sissy’s Progress leads its audience out onto the streets with a live marching band playing original music composed by Jordan HuntThe Sissy’s Progress confronts the harsh contradictions of gender and violence of city life, standing up for sissies everywhere. ”