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Issue No. 16 - Chaos

BOOK REVIEW: BABE BY PETRA COLLINS

Image Above:©Shana Sadeghi-Ray

 

 

 

The autograph has changed contexts a bit. An antiquated understanding of an autograph removes context and sets the art in the present, the maker’s mark officializing it as theirs. It’s pretty spot on that the first instant of interaction with the book is of signatures sprawled on bubblegum pink. incredibly indicative of what is to come, the hyper feminine aesthetic is present throughout and the signatures are a sign of ownership, which is exactly what these ladies do; own it. “It” being their bodies, their art, and their ideals. Theyknow they won’t get what they want by asking nicely, but know they can stay nice and throw a few punches when necessary.

1Left: @Beth Hoeckel; Right: @Beth Hoeckel

 

 

This art collective breaks down and analyzes sexuality, the anatomy of womanhood, and pink. This no-nonsense group of women have a lot to say and have found other women who agree and understand to build an artistic support system with. Each artist's focus is clear and Collins drives a narrative that hasn’t had the opportunity to exist yet, because of the newness of the technology that plays such a large role in identity and knowledge nowadays. Mixing vintage classics like poetry with screencaps of “Sun 4:20” and internet search histories, these clever youths find a way to use participatory media to create a story, one that young women can recognize and relate to. Some things come across as shocking, like a photo of blood smeared and dried on a woman’s intimate zones, even though we as women should be comfortable with seeing the fateful sight we see every month (if you’re a regular), commenting on the squeamishness towards seeing our bodies truly that is taught to us.

Developing their aesthetic with the tools supplied to them, the importance of technology rings clear. How else would these women have found each other in the first place? Formed online, this art collective has had time to mature and grow together, in spite of geographical separations. These girls emerged from the pop culture crazed 90’s. They appropriate many of the icons they were raised with, recontextualizing them and using them like militia rebels collecting and rewiring faulty bombs. Images like Sailor Moon which cater specifically to women are given new life as they are warped and repainted with looming nightmarish figures juxtaposed with their original renderings. They bring things like children’s makeup into the spotlight and question it, along with the standards we were brought up with. Also reclaimed are our bodies, hair and blood repeatedly addressed, making clear this generation of femmes is tired of their bodies’ miraculous cell turnover being treated on par with  n and subject to censorship.

2Left: ©Minna Gilligan; Right: @Arvida Bystrom

 

 

Looking through the book is like wandering through a gallery, Collin’s trained curatorial eye proving successful in telling a female-centric narrative with a whole bunch of hardhitting females who occupy a wide variety of mediums, allowing readers a taste of different methods of expression. Many blur lines between mediums and the collection itself allows for a space of exploration, not limiting itself to just photography or poetry. Although the girls focus on similar themes and have closely related mediums, the differences are obvious and each girls’ signature emerges. Beth Hoeckel’s collages focus on loneliness and belonging, featuring women in places they shouldn’t be, standing on the ocean, sitting on larger than life waffles, exercising on the moon and always remaining anonymous. Clair Milbrath’s photos feature ‘bushes’ and some flowers peeking out of window shades, and a man’s member trying to peek out of his boxer briefs. Her warm colors and full shots are satisfying and comforting to look at, her whites soft instead of stark. Shana Sadeghi-Ray, another collage artist, uses more pop culture based images, as well as food and landscapes to make funny, sarcastic statements. She reminds us that everything need not be serious and that vague absurdism is translatable to the new world we live in. Petra Collins, curator and mother of the collective, also contributes her photography. Featuring girls taking selfies and interacting with their phones, Collins’ focus on technology reflects that of the book as a whole while presenting them in light that exists in contrast to the bright, oversaturated blue toned light we are exposed to from screens. Never idealizing or chastising it, technology use is documented as a part of life, and, if anything, romanticized. Hand in hand with the high speed evolution of technology comes a very clear sense of nostalgia, which also accounts for the references to child like imagery and color, brought forward with a poem by Jamia Wilson. She reminds herself of who she is by facing her imperfect child self and being honest. By separating the two, she can face herself honestly and out of the context of the complications that accompany not just growing up, but also the pressures to stay true to yourself, even though you may not know who you are yet. These artists all face conflict within themselves, and their work is an exploration of how to navigate and resolve that conflict, a scrapbook of growing and the subtle beauty that exists within it. But, that beauty is made, constructed, and these girls know that. Kait Rokowski wrote something quite fitting, “Nothing ever ends poetically. It ends and we turn it into poetry. All that blood was never once beautiful. It was just red.” These women have taken everything that has been served to them, heartbreak, pressures, and the general despair of teenage girlhood and turned it into poetry, beautiful, selective, and imaginative.

By Natasha Zedan

COLOR BLIND BY GORDON PARKS

FILM REVIEW: A BORROWED IDENTITY (2015) DIR. ERAN RIKLIS