All posts by Debbie

Old Stories Told in New Ways: Memory Landscapes Revisited

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Laurie and Debbie say:

Last weekend, we were both at FOGcon, and Laurie presented her Memory Landscapes project in a Saturday evening panel, which Debbie (of course!) was on. Attendance was small, which gave us the gift of intimacy. “Audience” and “panelists” gathered around a table with the artist, to look closely at the work and talk about what we were seeing.

Laurie says: “Since the election, I had been thinking that I would have to put Memory Landscapes on hold, or at least move much more slowly on it, because I felt such a drive to focus on directly political work. What this panel reminded me is that the Memory Landscapes project is political work. It’s about my life, during which I have always been deeply involved with politics and the world. It’s also about the things that have changed in my life and the things that have not changed. It’s about political struggle, and political pain and joy, along with all the other aspects of my life.”
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Handkerchief

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One Memory Landscapes image we looked at was “Handkerchief,” which speaks directly to the murder of Emmet Till in 1955 and the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. By linking these two deaths, Handkerchief invokes the never-ending stream of young black men’s violent deaths in the intervening years, and links both murders to Laurie’s world, to the political struggles of the 1950s, and much more.
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Shawl

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Here’s Laurie again: “Watching the people at the panel interact with these memories, I realized I can’t stop working on Memory Landscapes. Not only is this shared political work, it offers people an opportunity to allow and access their own stories (personal and political) in an entirely new way. When we tell stories in any form of text, or in a linear narrative such as film, we impose a structure on them. We change them by their nature from an associative chain to a structured tale with a beginning, a middle, and an end. In this work which I invented to be the best mirror of my own memories that I could devise, something more happens than my being able to express my own memories in the way they work. Other people start experiencing their memories this way too: they take my framework and apply it to their own lives and to the interaction of my political history with theirs.”

We are both huge fans of narrative, even though we understand the ways in which it is false by nature. Narrative is one thing that got us where we are today. False but compelling narrative is one of Donald Trump’s great strengths, and one of the great strengths of his surrogates, who are our enemies.

Suzy McKee Charnas, in her first novel, Walk to the End of the World, said “New stories must be told in new ways.” Audre Lorde said “The master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house.” What the panel reminded Laurie, and perhaps taught the rest of us, is that Memory Landscapes is a new kind of storytelling which applies to old stories as well as to new ones. And perhaps it will be a new tool to dismantle the house that cannot stand.

 

What’s a Defiant Girl For?

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Debbie says:

First, kudos to State Street Global Advisors for putting up the statue of “Defiant Girl” (also “Fearless Girl”) facing the famous Wall Street bull. The statue went up on International Women’s Day last week. State Street’s intent is to shame more firms into including women on their boards. Personally, I can think of more important issues to defy Wall Street about, but I’m still glad she’s there.

She wouldn’t be making anywhere near as much news as she is, however, if a drunken Wall Street bro hadn’t made an attempt to screw her, apparently to impress the people checking out the new girl on Wall Street.

Plenty has been written about this photo, taken by Alexis Kaloyanides and shared publicly everywhere.

The man in the photo is such an amazingly clear example of several cultural phenomena:

1) He has clearly and unambiguously demonstrated what he and millions of men like him think women are for. The fact that the statue is really of an underage girl rather than a woman only underscores how unacceptably gross the inside of his mind is. It would be lovely if male minds like that were rare, but we all know better.

2) He has clearly and unambiguously demonstrated how completely safe he feels. I don’t think anyone has released his name, but you can still bet he’s licking his wounds and whining about how people aren’t being nice to him. Meanwhile Kaloyanides is the one who bravely put her own name out there, and it’s just as safe a bet that she is actually getting vicious responses from internet trolls.

3) He is in the process of clearly and unambiguously demonstrating the value of defiance. Fearless Girl would have gotten a few days of press, and a small steady stream of people coming to look at her, if he hadn’t brought his dick into the story. Now, she’s the wonder of Wall Street, and no TV station or newspaper can avoid talking about her.

Obviously, we dream of a world where no man would even think of such a disgusting display. But in the world we live in, I can only be grateful to Mr. Bro for making sure the whole world knows about Defiant Girl, and the millions of defiant, fearless girls and women who stand behind her.

He’s probably even more uncomfortable being thanked by radical feminists than he is being trashed by us, so I hope he reads this post.