Elevate Difference

Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction

Live Through This is truly a feminist work. It takes the expressed experiences from individuals coming from a wide array of backgrounds, who candidly and publicly share their experiences with issues labelled taboo and private, offering strength and conscience to readers everywhere.

The format of this work is an anthology of pieces from some of the most groundbreaking American cultural producers. The magnificent list of contributors includes photographer Nan Goldin, academic and feminist bell hooks, trans activist and writer Kate Bornstein, porn star and perfomance artist Annie Sprinkle, and DIY artist Cristy C. Road. Live Through This is a collection of expressions and artworks from powerful women and transgender activists expressing their survival from a multitude of issues ranging from depression, sexualized violence, abuse, and self-destruction. It is successful at invoking both outrage and sympathies, leaving one galvanized. Each selection is unique and powerful in its own way, and takes a wide form of presentations. There are essays, photographs, poems, comics, and more - truly something for everyone - and I found myself digesting each work separately from the other. It's that good: all of the short selections stand out with their own message.

Perhaps what I got most out of Live Through This was a curiosity about the presentation that some of the strongest, most beautiful, and talented individuals suffer through unthinkably trying tribulations, that what doesn't kill us certainly makes us stronger and experiencing some of life's most unwanted traumas is by no means correlated with failure. Easier said than done, but the public vocalizing of pain and suffering from these amazing figureheads offer hope and validation for a diversity of individuals everywhere.

In a society inundated with oppressions stemming from difference (in gender, race, sexuality, class, ability, etc.), it is a remarkable thing to have survived the unliveable, as these contributors so bravely put forth. Captivating, concise, and humbling, Live Through This is easy to put down between pieces and become just as immersed upon picking it up again.

Written by: Yujean Park, August 20th 2008