TANK Magazine internship, 2018

The following are online articles published during a one month internship at TANK Magazine from September to October, 2018.

The Black Image Corporation 

Preview: Fondazione Prada celebrates the legacy of Johnson Publishing Company. 

In the company of

I reviewed In the company of, a new exhibition at TJ Boulting, curated by Katy Hessel of @thegreatwomenartists.

This Happened © Nick Paton
Double Sign (2017) by Jessie Mackinson, courtesy the artist and TJ Boulting.
Juliana Cerqueira Leite_Concentric_01_crop
Concentric #1 (2016) by Juliana Cerqueira Leite, courtesy the artist and TJ Boulting.

Read My Lips

A preview of the first UK exhibition of the work of Gran Fury, the arts activism branch of ACT UP, formed thirty years ago.

Yayoi Kusama

The new Yayoi Kusama exhibition is the artist’s twelfth at Victoria Miro Gallery. Read my review here.
IMG_1292
Slow Fashion to Save Minds

A short interview with the multi-disciplinary artist Georgina Johnson, who founded The Laundry and their new mental health and sustainability movement, #SlowFashionToSaveMinds.

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Georgina Johnson, Campbell Addy, Sara Radin, Seetal Solanki and Tamsin Blanchard at the #SlowFashionToSaveMinds launch event. Photographed by Sara.

Eczema!

A visceral new spoken word EP by art critic Maria Fusco, examining the chronic skin condition. Read my review here.

 

SAVAGE Journal: Territories Print Edition

The below article – Our Bodies – was published in the seventh print edition of SAVAGE Journal, TerritoriesAs President, I contributed to the creative direction, editing and curating of this issue. You can read the full issue here.

TW: sexual assault, sexual misconduct

Our Bodies Territories 1our bodies territories 2our bodies territories 3The article introduces the social initiative I am co-founder of; you can learn more about Our Bodies here. Look out for more information coming soon!

SAVAGE Journal: AWOMENfest Preview

This article was initially published on SAVAGE Journal

Picture the scene: nestled in a DIY arts venue in Peckham, a group of rugby lads sit around a table to discuss the relationship between tears and feminism with The Colour of Madness Project. In the next room, more of these men – stereotypically masculine and disengaged – compare notes on the artwork of Damaris Athene and Fee Greening, whilst others, perched in the zine corner, soak up the atmosphere and contemplate the body positive life drawing session they just attended. This is AWOMENfest founder Raniyah Qureshi’s ideal for the new feminist festival. “The people you want to come the most are not the ones who are already engaged. In my dreamworld, the room would be full of rugby lads who don’t give a shit.”

This might seem like a strange statement for the founder of a feminist arts festival to make, but AWOMENfest is no conventional feminist space. The festival celebrates “radical softness”: the idea that feminism doesn’t have to be a fight or a militant struggle; it can be imbued with softness and emotional vulnerability. For Raniyah, “Feminism can be an avenue for possibility instead of this difficult battle that lies ahead of you, because that can be really exhausting.” Radical softness is about engaging people who previously felt alienated from feminism; it reframes the movement within a calm, comforting and healthy space where anyone and everyone is welcome.

Raniyah discovered the term through the artwork of Lora Mathis, so art seemed like a natural means through which to explore it. The universality of art, as “everyone loves beautiful things”, offers a unique chance to capture people’s imaginations and engage them with difficult and sometimes confronting topics in a gentler way. “The really nice thing about art,” says Raniyah, “is that you can completely expose yourself, but through a beautiful thing that doesn’t leave you as vulnerable or emotionally exhausted.”

AWOMENfest is about provoking a gentle revolution, starting with the people around you. “The way people think is so informed by their background. How do you unpick that at a micro level to affect the macro level? We’re engaging in this feminist dialogue because we believe that the people can improve; the oppressor has the capacity to get on our side.” Many of the issues AWOMENfest is trying to tackle are systematic, something which Raniyah and her co-curator Alina Khakoo have accounted for: “At some point you have to detach bad actions from the person themselves. Of course people can read and educate themselves, but some people need more help. Just one conversation can go such a long way, so if you can change the people around you a little bit then maybe they can change other people and, slowly, everyone will get nicer.”

Every element of the programme has been carefully curated to fit with their ethos of radical softness. “We’ve either seen or experienced every workshop or artist’s work before, so we know their vibe fits with ours.” The festival is split into four main topics: spirituality, vulnerability, solidarity and desirability. It kicks off with a party on the Friday night, where Drag Kings from The KOC Initiative will get the ball rolling before a series of female and non-binary musicians take to the stage. In the “comfort haven”, there will be tarot readings and a zine corner, offering a taste of the calm to come. Over the course of the weekend, this optional approach will reign, as events and workshops run simultaneously, offering festival-goers the chance to step outside or sit and reflect if they become overwhelmed.

The first topic they chose was spirituality. For Raniyah, this addressing faith prompted the realisation that feminists really aren’t all on the same wavelength: “I’ve always had quite a complicated relationship with feminism, just because I’m quite religious – not that religious, but enough that a lot of the strains of feminism I was exposed to when I was younger were alienating. That’s where my feminism has hit the biggest stumbling block.” Raniyah and Alina saw that feminism “affects you mentally, it affects you bodily and it affects your engagements with other people.” From there, desirability, vulnerability and solidarity seemed like natural choices.

Throughout the curation process, Raniyah and Alina championed intersectionality and accessibility. “When people think of feminist art, they often think of bodies. There are a lot of nude paintings, or bold red lettering on a white background. That’s great, and it definitely has its place in the feminist canon, but it doesn’t work for radical softness.” For film, this meant turning to animation and more experimental forms, all within an accessible framework. For performance, intersectionality meant staging productions from Transgress’ ‘Everything is Going to be KO’ to a female-led tisch (a Jewish song-prayer and transcendent ritual) and poetry readings by female and non-binary poets of colour from Octavia Collective. The people involved in AWOMENfest represent a whole host of voices, from myriad backgrounds, covering topics that others involved won’t ever have considered before.

There isn’t a set lesson they want people to learn here: it’s not about dictating a feminist dogma or indoctrinating people. The emphasis of AWOMENfest may be on learning, but its founders aren’t trying to narrow people’s views. “We don’t want it to feel like there’s a set view,” says Raniyah. “I want people to come away from the workshops wanting to go home and do more research, so they can form their own views. I’m very aware that I don’t have all the answers. Also, silent reflection is key: everyone’s best thinking is done in the shower.”

At the end of the day, radical softness is about balance. Balance between pushing an agenda and accounting for other people, between being bold and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, between unapologetic political feminism and self-forgiving self-care. It’s about a revolution at your own pace. Reflecting on her feminism before she discovered radical softness, Raniyah says: “I was terrified that if I became more of an activist then I would lose the soft parts of myself. But then I didn’t want to be overly palatable and water down my feminism.”

A big part of this is about promoting frank and open dialogue in respectful, safe space. “I know we’re called the snowflake generation,” she laughs, “but it takes five extra seconds to go through a programme and give people a trigger warning.” Fittingly, attendees can email their triggers in advance, so they can feel as comfortable as possible on the day and not be confronted by a difficult topic without warning. A little extra effort goes a long way in making people feel comfortable and safe; it’s just part of the radical softness package.

Raniyah and Alina aren’t naive about their goals; they know that a radically soft feminist revolution will take time. “There’s so much performative wokeness, and a lot of it is just creative aestheticisation. People talk about it being really cool and will happily list all the grime artists they like, but they don’t really engage with what that means. I know a festival isn’t going to solve that, but it’s a start.”

AWOMENfest is a pioneering feminist arts festival with a focus on intersectional activism and support. It will take place at DIY Space for London in Peckham from 23rd – 25th March. Tickets and further information are available here. The event is in support of My Body Back, which support women who have experienced sexual violence.

Featured image courtesy of AWOMENfest. 

Roundtable Journal: Fashioning Confidence

A challenge about taking up space with the clothes we wear, and finding a voice through colour.

Although I’m hardly a wallflower when it comes to dressing, a lot of the time I also hold myself back. I’ve noticed that I tone down my most conspicuous tops with black jeans, ditch the flamboyant  accessories as I rush out of the house and continuously dismiss certain items because I just don’t know how to wear them. I wonder if it’s a question of taking up space; if sometimes my clothes draw too much attention to me on days when I don’t feel confident enough or ‘worthy’ of the space.

So, for one week I challenged myself to push the boundaries. The shoes bought on a whim would finally get their star turn. The earrings I had forgotten about would dangle free and uninhibited. My initial urge to cower in a corner wearing all black would be firmly ignored. And somewhere, in a sea of colours louder than my voice, I might just find some confidence.3.jpgMonday: Fifteen-year-old me was something of a magpie. My friend and I used to rock up to antiques fairs at weekend and trawl through stall-upon-stall of bric-a-brac to find hidden treasures. These brooches have been adorning my bookshelves ever since, largely unworn due to how excessive they can feel for an average day of running errands and haunting the library. But, I actually really liked this look, and somehow wearing three brooches together (although one is technically an estranged earring fastened with a safety pin) made them feel less ostentatious. The beret presented its own challenges: I’m not normally a hat person, and the beret raised the question of what to do when you go indoors. I soon realised that the red line it left across my forehead was not a good look, so it stayed firmly planted (‘casually perched’) on my head all day.


5Tuesday: I look really tired in this photo and that’s because I was. Tuesday was a pretty dull day, and whilst I was still partially boycotting colour here, the snazzy shoes did brighten up my day a little. This was the first time they had gone out for a spin, and I didn’t get very far (they’re not the comfiest kicks in the cupboard). That said, I really liked how prim this look was and it made me feel like the kind of person who spends their days mooching around galleries.


2.jpgWednesday: This top is one of my favourites, but it needs ironing before every wear and that’s normally beyond my early morning capacity. I finally made the effort this week and it made my Wednesday in the library feel like a Friday on the beach. The earrings were mostly just my attempt to balance out those ballooning sleeves, but they also make me feel all cultured and arty because I bought them at the V&A. I guess I was dressing aspirationally in that sense. The unexpected consequence of this outfit was that it made me take up space, not just physically (those sleeves are BIG), but also emotionally. It gave me a nudge when my self-confidence started to ebb and stopped me from shrinking into the background as soon as my energy started to fade.


4.jpgThursday: Most of the clothes I buy are second-hand or high street, but this Shrimps coat was a treat to myself after a really hard time, and therefore makes me smile every time I wear it. Between the pink faux-fur collar and the animal print (though which animal I have no idea), it’s pretty out-there, so it’s not the kind of coat I can wear everyday. But the most challenging part of this outfit was the necklaces. I normally find them too fussy and my complete lack of jewellery organisation means they took about twenty minutes to untangle. Whilst they looked quite cool standing still, every time I moved I was reminded why I don’t do necklaces. Fun for a day, but I don’t think they’ll become a permanent fixture.


6Friday: Wearing white trousers past October can feel quite brazen, as if you’re taunting the inevitable English mud, but this challenge was craving some white flares. The blazer I paired them with was a kilo-sale find, and hasn’t seen much wear since I pulled it out of the bargain bin. Admittedly, this is more of an evening look, and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable in it until sunset. What I did love about this look though was the red lipstick. It’s called ‘Lady Balls’ and I think that sums up how it made me feel pretty well. I’d been apprehensive about red lips, but by the end of the week it had become my signature.


7.jpgSaturday: This outfit was my favourite by far and I think it shows in the photo. The skirt – which is Kenzo Kids but somehow wound up at Portobello Road market – has an unparalleled way of brightening a dreary day. It’s like a beaming middle finger raised to the lack of sunshine. There’s not really much else to say on that one.


1Sunday: I love this dress. It’s insanely comfortable for something that looks so good and the colour/print combination is (in my humble opinion) one of the best things I’ve spotted in Zara for the last three years. Normally, I do it a slight disservice by covering the top half in a bulky jumper (my lazy attempt to make it appropriate for daytime), but this cute little jacket shows off the dress in all its glory. Of course, my new favourite lipstick made a reappearance, and I topped the look off with another pair of V&A earrings (can you tell I’m a little obsessed?).

By Sunday, I had gotten into the swing of dressing up. In fact, I actually felt more productive having wholeheartedly committed to my outfits. And whilst wearing heels on a daily basis still seems like something only steel-toed, taxi-takers can maintain, it was nice to let my lesser-worn shoes see some sunlight. By the end of the week, I fell into the stride of confident clothing choices (albeit a slightly slower stride than my usual trainers would allow for). Overall, I didn’t feel as self-conscious as I thought I would. I suppose that living in London, where people tend to express their identities more freely, it was easier to explore a different aesthetic. But the small changes I made had a bigger impact on my mood than I thought they would. I felt more confident, less restricted by other people’s opinions and just generally happier when I was wearing brighter colours. This challenge cracked the invisible wall I had built in my head and has given new life to some items I’d long since given up on. I might just keep dressing this way…

This blog post was written for Roundtable Journal. You can read it in its original context here. Photography by Sophia Gaede, collages by me. 

Our Bodies: Sexual assault & harassment at UCL

TW: sexual assault

Every day, more stories of sexual assault and harassment surface and more people suffer at the hands of this epidemic. This goes beyond Hollywood, it happens everywhere, and our university campuses are no exception. In my first year at university, I was sexually assaulted by someone I had previously considered a friend. This wasn’t the first time I had experienced sexual violence, nor the last, but it is the moment that has stayed with me. I could write a million words about the effect this has had on me – and hopefully at some point I will – but for now the words escape me. As survivors, we are silenced during the event and in the aftermath; our agency is taken away. This week, we are launching a new photo series on SAVAGE Journal called Our Bodies, which aims to give agency back to survivors by offering them the chance to tell their story in their own words and be believed. If you would like to share your story, know that it is on your terms. If you want to remain anonymous, you can. If you want to be photographed, you can. These are our bodies, our survival, our stories and our voices. We will not be silenced anymore.

In the next few weeks, we will also be hosting a panel discussion in collaboration with The Cheese Grater (another of UCL’s student magazines), looking at the policies currently in place and asking what more the university could be doing to support survivors and to prevent this behaviour from manifesting in the first place. Further details will be announced on the Facebook event soon.

If you are a current or former student of UCL and would like to share your story on Our Bodies, you can email ourvoices@savageonline.co.uk or direct message the Instagram account (@_ourbodies_).

SAVAGE Journal: graphic design work

Graphic design work produced for SAVAGE Journal between September 2015 and June 2018. 

Promotional image for the submission deadline of our seventh print edition, Territories:

Header image for a Facebook event page:

Front and back of a flyer designed to promote the Intersect print edition launch:

Also formatted as a Facebook event header image:

showcase header

Front and back of a flyer designed to promote a new section on the website, Our Voices:

Poster design for a collaborative event with Advaya Initiative:

a3 ecology poster

I also re-formatted the above poster as a flyer (front and back designs below):

Poster advertising the Dirt print edition launch event:

poster showcase

Promotional images to be shared on social media, advertising the Dirt print edition submission deadline:

DIRT split 3DIRT split 2DIRT split 1

Poster design for the Free Speech print edition launch event:

FINAL POSTER SHOWCASE

Poster advertising the Free Speech print edition submissions:

FREE SPEECH GRAPHIC2

SAVAGE Showcase & ‘Intersect’ Print Launch

SAVAGE Showcase & Intersect Print Edition Launch
Tuesday 12th December 2017, Archspace

Our first print edition launch of the new academic year was held at Archspace London. Under the arches, we created an atmosphere alight with creative energy, and hosted one of the most interesting line-ups we have ever had at a showcase event (details below). This event marked the launch of Intersect, the first print edition of my presidency. I’m exceptionally proud of this edition and the ongoing commitment to diversity that it marks. You can read the issue here.

showcase poster.jpg

Poster design by me
Trailer & featured photo by Nick Mastrini

Programme

Two original films by SAVAGE Broadcast: UoL Protest Against Outsourcing and Brick Lane in Flux.

Spoken word by Olivia Robbins, Ava Davies, Wendy Min Ji Choi and Simon Westby.

In conversation with Roundtable and Thiiird Magazine, mediated by Shalaka Bapat (BME Rep, SAVAGE Journal). You can watch the video here.

 

 

Live music from Sam Bates/Totem (DJ set).

Event sponsored by Nix And Kix and Hippeas