The not quite final Witch blog 18/11/14
How does the show demonstrate the ideas in the Press Release now the show is UP? Press Release is lower down..
Blackbird, Nicola McCartney’s image which successfully represents our show.. the pale, composed, profile yet with blood on her neck; the blackbird, is it a hat or a bird – her familiar or her veil? Is she ‘seeing’ through the bird i.e. ‘as a creature’? She is too composed to be ‘blocked’ by the bird.. Blackbird recalls Rebecca Horn’s works with feather, as soft, shielding; preventing, screening.. the ambiguity of witch.
It presents woman as un-yet unknowable in her potential and this is echoed in Oriana Fox’s very successful performances – funeral orations for ‘Traditional Woman’ (re-enactment of a piece written in 1968 as part of the WLM), and for the ‘Have It All Woman’ .. sexual, smart, professional, mother, fit, worker, partner.. exhausted… [Lets give up the ‘trying to be everything’, and find a non-media-controlled persona].
There are two subtle video animations,using images to create modern myth or folk tales, from Vika Verb and Maureen Burdock. Vika’s animation weaves together strands from many aspects of wo/man – eggs, apples, serpents, while The Terrible Longing represents our desire (women and men) to be properly/deeply recognized, to be nourished… and when she has fed her Terrible Longing everything she has, they both fly fly fly..
Woman/witch .. different personas.. Sadie Hennessy’s Still Bewitching, a photo of Elizabeth Montgomery from the 60’s series ‘Bewitched’ the pretty, normal housewife who makes spells when no one is looking. Glancing sideways mischievously, it mocks the misogynistic ‘old, whiskery, ugly’ witch of ptrky (patriarchy). You do not see the bristles and whiskers she has grown in the intervening 60 years, until you are closer up.. Sadie’s humour is repeated in the bold, red ‘I am a woman over 45’ Cloak of Invisibility.
Older woman will recognize this and yet know our accumulated knowledge. As the 60’s generation, we are fighting for older women to stay as news readers, as war correspondents.. as everything!.. Witch has gathered women aged 18 to 70, from diverse backgrounds, and from Paris, San Francisco, South Africa, Texas, Whitstable, London and elsewhere.
‘We Are Not Witches or Wizards.. [my work]’, is a quote from children themselves, in Africa, accused of being witches and exiled in Witch Villages. Here the show highlights the persecution which can be found also in the streets of London. A recent ‘mainstream art comment’ on this work was that it could/should be seen like a painting (?). Yes I was confused too.. why avoid seeing it as a fine art piece (well because Fine Artists don’t like to associate with crafts like knitting much, do they!) But wild knitting it is, with a particular content. It is both catapult weapon and holding sling, made of threads of everyday life, the way African art frequently creates from what can be found and used again. The dolls heads, see also Gerard Quenum’s work, are separated from bodies, tossed away as the children have been, and they demand notice and thought.
‘From the Archtype Series, Show us your meat’ by Agata Cardosa, [ex Cass School of Art] which I bought a few months ago, is one of the most challenging works. At first, it is a startling shout for our blood and our sexualities, a declaration of power and pride.. then gradually the vulnerable, at risk, shameful, soiled ideas present themselves, reminding me of old style sanitary towels that split in pieces (if you played hockey) in the 50’s! Pride is mixed with shame [forced upon us..] To accept and allow the vulnerable side of humans, is so needed in our militaristic, capitalistic thrall to war and money.
Agata’s second work, From the Archetype Series, Flesh Crawl, equally if not more challenging, shows that the terrible longing for women to be whole beings can become an internalized self-destructive force. Similarly in Kitchen Tool [Isabella Della-Porta) a whisk becomes a weapon or cruel beauty, and both acknowledges and rejects the traditional role. (…Martha Rossler’s kitchen utensils performance piece in the 70’s come to mind)
Witch, the show, laughs at the binary good/bad witch from centuries of patriarchal stereotypes, [yes these words are as relevant as ever], focusing on ‘quirkymagical’ notions relevant to women right now; things that fly away into everywhere, things, like Witch Ladder (mine), which demonstrate we don’t need conventional forms like the steps of the ladder, we must, and do, simply ‘take off..’
to be continued
The press release:
Witch is outsider, powerful, inhabiting myths, folk and fairy tales, contemporary books for adults and children, films; persecuted in the everyday, across centuries and across continents.
As an image Witch can be seen as wise, caring, magical, but she is often shown as dangerous, represented as ugly, old, hunched, or as a seductress, presented to children as tantalising, frightening, strange. Misogynist, stereotyped ideas about women are deeply embedded in these images. She is so full of ambiguity that patriarchy aims to contain her in good or evil, but she eludes this binary as one female stereotype outside patriarchal control.
Like Witch, women are magical, quirky, determined to reach our unknown potential, as the powerful people we are and can be. Witch is reclaimed, a new dynamic icon.
FANS OF FEMINISM’s fourth London mixed media show, WITCH, connects – with ladders, office cabinets, menstruation, longing and birds – to this diverse and fascinating concept, and to the persecution which it may entail. WITCH will be magic’d up, unbound, by contemporary, well known and emerging feminist artists, who conceptually re-imagine her intertwined facets.
Witches are NEVER AFRAID (Sarah Sparkes).
Witch the Show is up and running for another 8 days. See it if you dare.
If you were planning to come to the interviews on 18th Nov at 6.45 dont get the broomstick out as we have had to cancel due to illness. We’ll be up for witch discussions on Sunday 23rd and broomstick making and selling stuff.. come along then 12 – 3pm..
WitCH work which work. How to ‘isrupt’
Witch is the archetype not controlled by/owned by/used by ptrky. Magical outsider, No, not outsider, but an idea in its community with its ways, it’s words. Community of all genders, LGBTI community, witches and wizards and definitely queer. Inspiring, mythical; myths are stories that have truth and imagination.
House. I have a pentaptych (5 of a series) of painted, scratched, collaged works that together represent danger, pleasure and safety, grief, absence and danger. The last has scratched on it ‘we always went in’.
I realise this is a witch connection, the attractive, inspiring, half ruined place full of ‘beyond the everyday’ for us as children. Beyond our ken. Magical, risky, a challenge.
This is what ‘isrupt’ can be. Something that IS, and is also a rupture with what we ‘are supposed to be’. The thing that creates music, and poems, beyond our ken.
So far I have refused to separate these 5 connected works. Now ‘we always went in‘ steps into the foreground with WitCH. Then other elements shift into my awareness. Writing from my book ‘Bare Feet Keep You Safe’ a key passage…
As a feminist, lesbian, old and looking into the unknown of the next ten years, and wanting magic, I’m finding repeated connections with WitCH. So the 13 inch square of scratched and painted house ‘we always went in’ will have a broken slate roof tile below, on the floor of the gallery, engraved
‘what would happen what could happen what might befall if we are not careful enough don’t know what we have to do to be careful except be ourselves but that may not be enough seeing as how we have been told not to come here what is it that might happen what is it that might happen what is it ‘
Once upon a time I was a writer and before I had a heart attack in 2002, I would have written about WitCH just as I wrote about Medusa another of my favourite images.. the goddess of life and death, through one side her veins give life and through the other they give death. (I am not a goddess type of feminist). Somehow though growing up as a girl I registered that Medusa had ‘power’, the power to protect herself against invasive things, which as a girlchild I did not seem to have. I had no such relationship with WitCH but I am discovering it!
How does a new piece of art come about? From bits and pieces, from research, from a concept? For me, the coalescing of these 3 things over what could be several years. This piece came from a panel of old wood drawer which I had used in 2009 in an earlier work and did not want to break up or throw away. I liked the the fretwork of the old dovetailed joints, its matt blackboard paint surface and the pale green drip all the way down.
I’ve been collecting the single gloves you find dropped around the streets.. a hand from the past let this go.. and they were nearly all black..here a connection with Tracy Emin child’s glove (in brass) on the railings near the Foundling Museum. This one leather,surface creased like an old hand. Lastly from a series of photographs I took of old light bulbs, their fragility/toughness/iconic shape/symbolism as we moved into the ugly energy-saving ones, I took the centres from the original broken bulbs.. all these things around my studio gradually made sense together.. Voila.. new work. At the time there was no WitCHness there.