Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged art

Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex: Activism, Arts, and Educational Alternatives

As a feminist concerned with social justice, in the past year or so I’ve become convinced that dismantling the prison-industrial complex should be a top priority amongst feminists.

Certified Copy

The latest film from Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, Certified Copy begins with the same joke twice. While waiting for author James Miller (William Shimell) to give a lecture, his translator (Angelo Barbagallo) apologizes for James’ lateness and says, “He can’t blame the traffic; he is walking from upstairs.” The restless crowd responds with no audible laughter. Moments later James walks into the room and, unknowing that it has just been said, re-uses the same joke. This time several members of the crowd emit soft laughter. Within the first few minutes of the film, Kiarostami has already laid out his brilliant thesis: that when it comes to art, history, or even comedy the copy can have meaning in a way that makes it as valuable the original.

The Skin Quilt Project

Without the preservation of historical text, artifact, and art, history can slowly fade from memory. Stories of survival can easily become short-lived memories as they are passed from one generation to the next before they are forgotten. For Black African American women, their history has been and continues to be woven together in quilting. The Skin Quilt Project is a documentary featuring various quilters, artists, academics, and historians discussing the necessity, purpose, benefits, and impact of Black African American women quilters and what their artistry does for their families and communities.

The Scholar and Feminist Online, Issue 8.3 (Polyphonic Feminisms: Acting in Concert)

In hindsight, I probably should have waited to read all of the articles in this issue of Barnard Center for Research on Women’s The Scholar and Feminist Online journal, “Polyphonic Feminisms: Acting in Concert,” before emailing out sections that resonated with me and the work I’m interested in doing.

Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures, 1960s to Now

Signs of Change is both a coffee table book and a full-color history lesson. For those who prefer an alternative to a boring textbook, this book is the ticket. In September of 2008, Exit Art began a traveling art exhibit to showcase the works of artists whose materials reflect cultural and social uprisings around the world, including posters, photographs, and graffiti. The pages are full-color and let the art take center stage, but historical context is provided in a way that is educational without being stifling.

Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion

Before Lady Gaga adorned her poker face with a diamond-encrusted lobster, there was the original eccentric fashionista Isabella Blow, the flamboyant muse to couture designers who, despite being the toast of London’s glitterati, would die at age forty-eight by her own hand. As a fashion director, she survived as one of Anna Wintour’s assistants to later become champion of the avant garde. From hot pink cobwebs to towering peacock feathers, there was nothing that Blow wouldn’t dare crown herself with.

Black Swan

The hype had me prepared for Black Swan to be a disturbing and gory movie. But the truth of it is this: even if you’re squeamish, like me, there’s nothing in the film you can’t look at… out of context.


Before we jump into this it’s important to make something clear: Swanlights is both the title of Antony and the Johnsons’ latest album and a collection of Antony Hegarty’s artwork. Sure, all transgender musical geniuses shouldn’t be lumped together, but I like to think of Hegarty as a more psychically wounded, heartbroken, and unbedazzled Hedwig.

Calyx (Summer 2010, Issue Vol. 26 No. 1)

Serving as a forum for women’s creative work, Calyx, a literary journal of art and literature, has been publishing new, emerging and established female writers and artists for the last thirty-four years. The seventy-fifth issue celebrates Calyx’s success and progress, while showcasing the journal’s continued commitment to providing readers with an eclectic mix of poetry, short stories, photography, and other work.

Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics, 1974-2007

A student of Judy Chicago and Allan Kaprow, Suzanne Lacy’s collection of essays about her performance art pieces showcases not only Lacy’s development as a powerhouse feminist artist of her time but also the changing landscape of political art throughout the past four decades. Following a thoughtful introduction by her friend Moira Roth, Leaving Art traces Lacy’s self-criticism, the intended meaning behind her pieces, and reflections about the effectiveness of her work, at times in journal form (e.g., “While I was working on this piece I figured out why it has been so hard for me to consider myself grown up”) and at times as she reflects about the meaning of art more broadly. As an introduction to Lacy’s work, or as an in-depth look at Lacy’s artistic process, the book will appeal both to those newly familiar with Lacy or with those who have long followed her career.

Max's Kansas City: Art, Glamour, Rock and Roll

The iconic New York club Max’s Kansas City was the art world equivalent of the equally iconic CBGB; it was where all of the beautiful freaks and geeks; aspiring, wannabe, and legitimate artists congregated to see and be seen. Editor Steven Kash has done a magnificent job of compiling photographs that features all of the glitz and grime, genius and depravity that was the New York art scene of the 1970s.

The Air is on Fire, David Lynch (9/24/2010)

A couple of years ago, David Lynch spoke at my graduate school. At one of the top communication colleges in the country, he refused to take media questions and would only talk about transcendental meditation. Flanked by men in suits who sat in high-backed chairs behind him on the stage, Lynch urged us each to dive into the reflecting pool of our soul. One woman stood at a mic in the auditorium aisle and said, “I meditate, and I understand your films.”

Form, Balance, Joy

It is an irony of contemporary aesthetics that accessibility is not considered a virtue. A degree of alienation between the general audience and the creator is a given, and a work of universal appeal is suspect. Any creation that is an uninhibited celebration of color, shape, and motion would go begging in a world of minimalist forms or conceptual constructs. Humor as a quality is particularly suspect. Alexander Calder not only produced work based on these elements, he made the first mobiles as a young artist in Paris.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

When I think of the films of Tamra Davis, a smile comes to my face. I think of the giggly afternoons spent with my college roommates watching such treasures as Billy Madison and Half Baked while ingesting whatever substance struck our fancy.

The Selves

Sonja Ahlers’ The Selves is a visual essay which combines collage, poetry, watercolor, calligraphy, prose and fabric. The result is a multi-layered and textured work that reveals something new every time you leaf through it. Although pastiche and mixed media immediately come to mind to describe Ahlers’ work, it may also be considered a new genre or a new way of looking at our lives as women in relation to mass media.

Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale

I jumped at the chance to review Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale, an unconventional graphic memoir from writer/artist Belle Yang. While I am no expert on graphic literature, I did devour Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis series.

The Blessing Next to the Wound: A Story of Art, Activism, and Transformation

As a survivor of government sanctioned torture in Colombia, Hector Aristizabal was left with unsettled anger and fear. His wariness towards both his country and his future there worsens when one of his brothers is murdered by paramilitary soldiers. Aristizabal is eventually able to cast aside his bitterness, and find ways to aid others in their struggles by holding workshops for prisoners and victims of violence in the United States.


Manchester is taking a photograph of his girlfriend Noon. She’s asleep. He develops the film while she naps and goes outside to lay on a dingy blanket on the gravel driveway that leads to their makeshift garage-turned-apartment. Did she consent to being documented? No one seems to care. When Noon wakes up, she goes outside naked and has sex with Manchester in broad daylight. A seemingly enviable hipster couple sequestered from the world in their own squalid little space, it doesn’t take long for things to go south.

Experiments In A Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project

In June 2009, I participated in a writing workshop with Sharon Bridgforth, not knowing what to expect and not knowing what I was expected to give. I only knew that I loved music, having already pledged my undying love for jazz at a young age, and that I loved writing; but I never intended to leave with a blueprint for the foundation of how I would put pen to paper from that point on.

The Fatal Beauty of Tajooj (7/15/2010)

My artwork offers a glimpse into my world. I hope that it inspires your imagination and leaves you with a lasting impression. - Suzanne Hilal Last Thursday, in a small cafe in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, guests sipped lemon juice and lattes and listened to a number of young men perform modern love songs as Suzanne Hilal transported a sizable audience hundreds of years back to an isolated place in East Sudan through her collection of print works.

Mangos with Chili (7/11/2010)

I was thrilled to be able to attend a special Mangos with Chili show on Sunday night at Bluestockings in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I was thrilled not just because I consider the founders, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Ms.

A Little Middle of the Night

Molly Brodak’s poetry collection A Little Middle of the Night is wide in its range: big dog topics like perceptions of art and the weight of tragedy are sifted through by a careful and talented poet.

Universal Women: Filmmaking and Institutional Change in Early Hollywood

In Universal Women, Professor Cooper launches a multidisciplinary investigation into the mystery of why it was that Universal Film Manufacturing Company broadly supported women directors during the 1910s before abruptly reversing the policy.

See What I'm Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary

See What I'm Saying is an irreverent yet important introduction between Deaf performers and a mainstream hearing audience. The film, which is open captioned, follows a year in the lives of four performers who make up a cross-section of the Deaf community in terms of art form, race, gender, and sexuality.

Women Without Men

The story of director Shirin Neshat is almost as compelling as her first feature. Born in religiously conservative Qazvin, Iran, Neshat has been using visual art to explore gender relations under Islam for nearly two decades, traveling back and forth between the States and Iran to enrich her perspective. But because her work has been so politically outspoken, Neshat has been exiled from her native country since 1996.

Gurlesque: The New Grrly, Grotesque, Burlesque Poetics

The problem with books with two introductions is that one can inevitably doom the other and, at worst, the entire book. This just might be the case with the contra(dictory)dance of introductions to the anthology Gurlesque, edited by poets Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg.

The Woodmans

The prize-winning documentary The Woodmans chronicles the histories of a family of artists through conversations, monologues, journals, and both fine art photographs and family snapshots. The film’s narrative, from its start with the marriage of George and Betty Woodman to its finish with their lives today, is marked by their daughter, photographer Francesca Woodman, whose reputation has skyrocketed in the decades after her suicide in 1981 at twenty-three years of age. After the Tribeca Film Festival screening, director C.

The Truth About Delilah Blue

After first reading The Truth About Delilah Blue's jacket blurb, it struck me as a beach book. It turned out I was only slightly incorrect; it's an airplane book, most satisfying when you really have nothing else to do and nowhere else to go. Delilah, also known as Lila, is working as a nude model in an attempt to absorb the art education she cannot afford.

A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Arts, Politics, and Daily Life

A Decade of Negative Thinking is a collection of essays on feminism, paintings, and feminist art history. As a teacher of graduate students, Schor’s experience provides us with practical and theoretical background to an artist’s commitment to contemporary art. The main theme of the study encompasses the ideas and images from Schor’s earlier life that were significant in influencing her artistic direction.

A Day in LA: A Conversation with Kevin McCollister

Kevin McCollister is a serious and shy man who spends his days working in a Los Angeles office and his nights walking around the city’s less stylish neighborhoods snapping photographs of churches, taco stands, mariachis, the homeless, and LA landmarks like the Fourth Street Bridge, Union Station, and Olvera Street.