Sunday, 24 August 2014

Please Disobey

Of all places in London the venerable Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington might seem the least likely place for a show about revolt. And yet, "Disobedient Objects" at the V&A is not only free, but also freeing.

The exhibition introduces a range of items that were instrumental in social, political and economic protest movements in the last 40 years. These include the Egyptian revolution, Polish Solidarność and Occupy. Of course Queer Liberation was present too, with some great objects of empowerment. 

Protest flag, New York, 2011
Picture from Charlie Porter

Badge from the Act Up AIDS protests of New York 1986-87

Poster designed for Act Up AIDS by Keith Haring, 1989 (not in the show, but almost)

Bust Card for arrested gays, Scottish Homosexual Rights Group, 1979

Fierce Pink power - Queers against authority. Protest banner, USA, ca. 2012

Toy Terrorism: 
Barbie Liberation Organization, 1991 

Overall, a mind-opening and strangely optimistic exhibition. Walking out of the V&A I already saw myself smashing the shopfronts of Kensington in protest against 21st century consumerism. But then I changed my mind, and went to Harrods instead. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014


Remember Sex? Madonna's scandalous book came out in 1992. I was seven then, and whatever I heard about it at the time probably scared me. But last week I rediscovered some of its images in the murky depths of the world wide web. And I cried out: How have I not seen this before? How is this not part of our basic visual vocabulary?

Threesome with Naomi

Frolicking with Isabella

Dragging it up

Bowing to Udo Kier 


The answer is probably a mix of 20th century prudery and the censorial power of the pre-internet age. Can you imagine Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus making a similar book today and it not being seen by every being with a screen?

Racy, huh? These days most singers use sex to sell, but no one does it with so much omni-sexual conviction. Of course Madonna wanted attention, but she fought back against criticism of the book and spoke out against misogyny and heteronormativity:

"There are guys who say 'I have never fantasized about being with a man.' They are lying. And the least offensive men I've been with in terms of their sexual politics and how they view me as a woman, have been men who have either slept with men, or at least kissed or held a man once. It opens up your thinking. You don't think that women are less-than you are."

"Deeper and Deeper" 1992

True speak, Madge. And to see that she doesn't cease to surprise, check out this clip for 'Deeper and Deeper', featuring hot n'creepy Udo Kier and an extremely unexpected cameo by Sophia Coppola. Damn, 1992 was a good year. 

Monday, 4 August 2014


Birth she gave without knowing, maybe, that
What's given isn't yours.
Thinking of it, though,
Was never that easy to tell
Where she ended and I began,
And who was whose.
Happy giftday to both of us.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Running Fence, 1972