#OVERHEARD

Momentum

Galz, sitting behind me, talking very, very quickly, in a cafe at university. I sip a coffee whose order was longer than my dissertation essay, and almost giggle out loud in shock at the utter, twisted relatable nature of everything I hear. It’s flippin’ gold, honestly, their conversation, about an ex and a banana and, somehow, Theresa May, so I write it down.

Thus, #OVERHEARD was born. It’s a rolling scrap book for us, the millennial galz, talking nonsense that is the very essence of what we live day-to-day. I put it in cartoon form, the form that, for me, matches best the earnest, frivolous content. Designs are now available to buy online on various merchandise – from mugs, to bags, to t-shirts. Wear your sass on your sleeve, and galz – keep chatting. I’ll make sure it’s #overheard. Who says we can’t talk wubbish?

Buy #OVERHEARD designs at bit.ly/ShopOverheard and share photos of your products to @overheard_galz on Instagram.

overheard

“Overheard” Logo

exnew

“Bored”

hoop

“Bigger the Hoop”

on this day

“On This Day”

indigestion

“Indigestion”

ArtRage life is2_2

“Life is a 2:2”

ArtRage Painting_ Social uprising_001

“Halloumi”

starsineyes

“Stars in Their Eyes”

gimmenuance

“Nuance”

Buy #OVERHEARD designs at bit.ly/ShopOverheard and share photos of your products to @overheard_galz on Instagram.

What’s your wavelength?

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#NotAYes

Momentum

Summer may be over, but the heat is lasting on through September. This means we may have a few more weeks to wear some banging summer looks before the cold sets back in. It also means that there’s still need for a reminder: to wear what makes you comfortable without fear of harassment.

Baring skin in the summer sun can often be seen as an invitation for unwanted comments, harassment or even as excuses for sexual assault. I sought to show that what a person is wearing is not an invitation for sexual harassment or assault.

To help underline this, I turned to my friends. The outfits are varied but all have one thing in common – they are #NotAYes.

Brittany

Brittany

No matter the angle, appearances do not give consent.

AJ

AJ

Proximity does not give you the green light.

Louisa

Loui

Whatever the pose, the only consent is verbal.

Clara

Clara

My smile is not an invitation.

Nat

Nat

It’s a dress, not a yes.

Georgie

Georgie

My body is not an object.

Lucy

Lucy

My time and energy is not yours to take.

These are just a few people and a few outfits – but no outfit is an invitation for unwanted attention. Even when they come off.

Underwear

Fiorenza Menini: fragility in art

Amplitude, Momentum

“No, stop! Do not say another word! I think – just play the video. Just watch.”

Fiorenza Floraline Menini is, perhaps fairly, territorial over her art. She takes time and care to articulate herself, both before her performances and during a Q&A session which follows, even when this means cutting off the introduction to her film viewing.

Série Les lectrices, les endormies, les rêveuses 2015-2017

Série “Les lectrices, les endormies, les rêveuses” 2015/2017, fiorenza-menini.com

Menini’s art ranges from photography to poetry, and as part of her performance tour of the UK, we view her film Les Attractions Contraires after she reads her poem Pourquoi je n’aime pas Francis Bacon. She apologises afterwards: “I feel like it’s… A lot this evening!” And while we have certainly heard some raw autobiography, and her film ends with a note to HIV victims, the entire experience seems more delicate than ‘a lot’ or too much. I ask her if she feels feminine as an artist. Does it make a difference to her work that she is a woman?

“What is beautiful is when you talk about fragility, poetry, it’s ‘feminine’. Like it’s weak. And I think there is nothing more strong than fragility… What’s the most fragile in our bodies? Skin. It’s super fragile, but skin is also extendable, and it can repair very quickly.” Menini is entrancing to speak to as she expresses her ideas of humanity, poetry, fragility. Fragility in particular comes up a lot; she claims it’s central to forming the poetry necessary for resistance in today’s society. “The only thing we can say, with certainty, that we share, is suffering.” Later, she describes how humans treat themselves with brutality. “It’s like taking armour [she mimes a hammer] to your iPad or a complex machine – that’s what we are doing to ourselves! Why?!”

On her website, one can see the strands of resistance she talks about so fervently (and fondly): a photograph of a small child’s dress, lifted at the front, is accompanied by the words ‘I DON’T LIKE DAVID HAMILTON.’ It is difficult to look at. She tells me of the photo, “Other artists at the time, they looked away and try to ignore things like this. Same with #MeToo, with ‘Time’s Up’. I had to say something.”

Ode a fureur 2017 performance

Ode à la Fureur performance reading, 2017 fiorenza-menini.com/performances/

Links are made continually in her performance and talk between the “big things in life” (“Poets change the government! And history!”) and the small. I am particularly enraptured by her comments on poetic moments. “Moments like in the morning when you’re staring at the water turning, spinning, in a cup of tea or coffee… And this moment of attention when you’re just contemplating… For me, this is the source of a poetic moment. It is only if you capture it, if you take it back for yourself, consciously, that you make it a poetic moment. If not, it’s just time passing. This activity of recapturing our poetic inner source, our poetic possibility, is fundamental and is an act of resistance.” Speech beautiful enough to make any amateur or professional pick up a pen…

And that’s her other overarching sentiment: a will for changing the perception of art. It is, she insists to the quiet audience, accessible to all, and that is crucial. “Everybody can do it. People say ‘Oh, I cannot do anything like this by myself’, but it’s the opposite: you can, really, and we have to start now to reconquer our humanity. And redefine our humanity. We are the only ones who can do it; we cannot expect other people to do it for us.”

The evening is contemplative and her answers to questions feed as many new questions as her pieces of art themselves. To end, an audience member asks if she considers herself a story-teller. Her response sums up beautifully her “art-is-for-everybody” approach: “Why not?”

Losing an idol: #TIMESUP is painful. And rightly so.

Breaking, Momentum

Comedian, actor, trending worldwide on Twitter, newest to be exposed for sexual assault. Aziz Ansari, star of Parks and Recreation and Master of None has seemingly had his ‘good-guy’ branding tarnished by an interview on babe.net of a ‘bad date’. The article’s title is misleading: a bad date implies an awkward moment over dinner or tripping on the curb. Rather, the woman, called Grace in her interview with babe.net, describes repeated painful attempts at sex and oral sex despite “clear non-verbal cues” to stop. It begs the question: is it time to fire up another canon in the consent debate – or can we discuss instead that these are competent, intelligent individuals deciding to brush over or blatantly ignore a cue to stop?

As with recent allegations of Kevin Spacey, fans’ reactions are of hurt and all too often, plain disbelief. Particularly with stars like Ansari, who is known for skits and comments on feminism and equality, and even a best-selling book on modern romance, exposure of behaviour like this feels like betrayal, with a brand and reputation built as “the good guy” that the public trusts. It subverts everything we know about him, as if he’s a friend. Such is celebrity culture; you’d feel the same hurt and disbelief, I’d wager, if you found out a close friend had assaulted someone, and thus there is certainly a temptation to ignore or disbelieve the allegation. Grace says in the exposé, “I’d seen some of his shows and read excerpts from his book and I was not expecting a bad night at all, much less a violating night and a painful one.” Sadder than ever is that we do, clearly, expect such behaviour from some men – just exclusively not the feminist, good guys like Ansari?

Grace described it as “absolutely cringeworthy that he was wearing the Time’s Up pin” when Ansari won a Golden Globe on January 7th – and rightly so. It’s more than cringeworthy, it’s ironic in the worst of ways, and it’s throwing the entire debate into realms of difficulty over and over again. A clever use of self-branding means a protective coating when it comes to accusations exactly like this: he’s politically woke, plays endearing characters, and wore a TIME’S UP pin to the Golden Globes. It can be a knee-jerk to ask: is he is innocent? Or maybe the girl is not telling the truth or perhaps it happened differently…

It’s a reflex to consider these things, but regardless: the point is that we are, as consumers of his comedy, his acting, his writing, being forced to question and confront the unflinching potential power of anyone in Ansari’s position, despite attributes of a “good guy”.

I have come to feel that: yes, it is incredibly important to call Ansari out for his behaviour, individually and specifically, because it is a violation of Grace’s human rights. But it is also important to go through, and let all fans or members of the public feel, the betrayal, anguish, anger or upset when a trusted ‘one-of-the-good-guys’ guy is exposed as capable of sexual assault as much as anyone else. It is so ingrained in the film, TV, performance industry, and every other industry that is not in the public eye, that any man like or unlike Ansari can commit a sexual crime, wear a Time’s Up pin supporting the victim’s cause,  and win a Golden Globe doing it.

It’s important to feel betrayal and to feel a tug at your heart, asking to disbelieve Grace because Ansari seems a genuine lad. Sexual inequality is so subversive that he can be, and still commit the same crime. The chasm of untold and suppressed tales of inequality and assault is being chipped open: he was capable of it, others are, and they must be called out until it is no longer acceptable for these things to happen at all (pipe dream, eh? Someone realising it’s not all that moral in the first place…).

Comment or email. What’s your wavelength?

Anon in Adidas

Momentum

Who is that girl? A bloody quick walker, we decide. Constantly pacing uphill, phone in one hand, striding up a near vertical street like the pavement is a conveyor belt. The iconic look is sealed in the puffer jacket and flares and branded trainers. The colours are clashing a little, with delicate purpose. Her makeup is light, and her earrings are not. Brutal blonde sits into brown roots.

It is one evening in the attic room, with the heating turned up high, in between scented candles and floating procrastination, that we discover we all know her. Each one of us is so very familiar with the girl but we all suggest different names. Our collaborative description makes us giggle, our image of her is so precise. We see her often.

The pinnacle of our inquest into the phenomenon of this girl is her voice. It’s gravelly and raspy, decidedly Southern – the voice pegged as “posh” before the second vowel sound careers towards you from her lips – and much lower than expected. She speaks decisively, daring you to disagree, somehow drawling but with purpose. She makes vacant suggestions in class, coated in loud airs of being profound. A voice of cigarettes and late nights? Or perhaps even a sort of accent, the mark of a tribe somewhere ‘down South’?

We wrinkle our noses, quiet at last, individually thinking of her incarnations. Perhaps she’s the one they’ll put in the history books. The girl of now, the face of our generation. God, she must work hard to keep up the image for all of us, maintaining our edges, keeping them sharp like her spiky lashes. She is everywhere, but she cannot be everyone. Her statute drags us along with her, and we trip behind her battered Adidas.