Jacklyn Janeksela

Heather Benjamin: Doing Erotica Right

Take 70s porn, let it collide with 1950s comics, add a dash of cartoon humor and dirty lines and you’ve got something called Heather Benjamin. Well, that’s almost right. To look at a work of Heather Benjamin is almost like looking at your own vagina in the mirror. It’s both breathtaking and strange, it reminds you of both sex and death, baby animals and all things floral. You see, when we talk about erotic art, it’s much more than just tits and ass, it’s the egg that waited for the sperm, the creation of life, the unfolding, the folding of body parts, like labia, and the covering up of the male gaze with a few glorious petals. Get a whiff of that, guys. Feminist erotica speaks to the masses and it says all things coming from the female body is gold, golden, will be turned to gold; all things that touch the female body become transformed, a liquefying phase like caterpillar to butterfly, like zygote to fetus. Erotica is more about the gift of the vagina, what we do with it, how we praise it and it’s less about fetishizing the vagina in ways that fail to honor it.

Although Benjamin has been cited as saying that her work is strictly personal, inspired by her own personal sexual voyage, she is thrilled when her audience can identify with her characters. Each piece is an autobiographical clip of her, of an experience, of her perception of herself as she rests and thrusts against this world. And when scrolling through, no doubt, there’s a piece that speaks to even the most prude for in Benjamin’s work is a vulnerability that all females can identify with on some level. Benjamin seems to dig a hole into our psyches and pull out that which we dare not speak, that which we bury deep inside like a danger in a broken heart or any other phallic symbol demonstration inserted here.

While she has been censored several times, that doesn’t keep her from producing work. She is a determined erotic stylist who risks nothing by exposing her own body as she sees fit. What she is not doing is representing other female’s bodies, which is the misconception of some viewers. As a result, she finds the censorship lewder than her lewdest piece. Her work dissects her own body, no one else’s, however gallery rejection and censorship speak on behalf of how society treats women’s bodies in general. As though erotic comes in only one package, or nudity in only one form. They are dismissing her freedom of expression, her private world of erotica and that seems to go against all that art stands for. The art world needs to loosen its hold on the female body, give permission to explore and express, and embrace a world of erotica that is as personal as a fingerprint or a vagina mold. Nothing to demystify here, just Benjamin eroticizing her own body –nothing more, nothing less. It’s her right as a female on this planet. She’s giving praise to Pluto, people. That erotic planet that has us digging deeper and deeper.

Benjamin only desires to delve into that which is hers: her body, her T&A, her sexuality. She is not trying to speak of the woman in general. She goes into her erotic abyss, then drips out on the page without abandon. Certainly, there’s a voyeuristic feel; and admit it, you like it, don’t you.

All the criticism hasn’t stopped Benjamin in the slightest. If anything, it’s a catalyst for her work and a flame that ignites a new brand of erotica inside her heart. She has a huge cult following and with good reason. Whether studying a drawing, comic, or cartoon, the work is thrilling. It entertains and if that’s not what erotica is about, then somebody correct me. The excitement lies in the taboo, in the naughty, in the dirty talk –that and so much more has been incorporated into Benjamin’s art. Yes, it’s erotic, but it’s also like going home because for every single human, the vagina is the door to our first home –the womb.

Benjamin isn’t trying to be fearless or brave. She’s doing what comes natural to her. She’s making her own version of self and adding sexually explicit layers because she can. And she does it well. Boy oh boy does she ever do it well. You can’t take your eyes away, can you? You dirty little human spirit *wink*.

Find Heather Benjamin’s work here & here.

 

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

The Operating System: Détournement Radical Documentation with Lynne DeSilva-Johnson

The Operating System is not a conventional place in any sense of the word. It is a press, a community, a space for building, growing, and sharing –it’s a village of humans doing what they love most, what they feel the world needs, and giving what they can from deep within themselves. It might be better to say that The Operating System is a concept, a technology, a municipality unto itself and the world.

I don’t want to spoil the interview, so I won’t say too much more. However, The Operating System is an entity you should know about. By embodying more than one identity, The Operating System represents ourselves, really –a mirror reflection of who we are as humans, as visionaries. Ready for reform, reader? Join the movement that is The Operating System. Whether you’re a pioneer or an artist, there is plenty of information to be absorbed and plenty to distribute. And the force that drives it all is one single, incredible human, Lynne DeSilva-Johnson. The truth is this interview in itself is a blessing as Lynne wears several hats simultaneously, but does so graciously, effortlessly and with all the ethereal buoyance of a Venus child.

It was such a pleasure to learn about what makes The Operating System tick and hear the soundtrack to The Operating System’s formation. Lynne DeSilva-Johnson talks myth, digital traces, notions of healing and time, mirrors, and being an eco-system to herself and unto the world.

 

The vision of The Operating System is rather broad and ever evolving; and while I love what you’ve said in the Wave Composition interview about how flexible the concept is, could you express the mission in less than 100 words?

The OS is a queer run small press, arts organization, and online platform/magazine based in Brooklyn NY. We focus on underrepresented voices, mixed-genre, avant-garde, and politically critical work, as well as on community engagement with process writing and storytelling across creative disciplines, geographies, and language barriers. In 2017, the organization will publish 20+ titles, and is expanding to include a Bowery Poetry imprint and other coalitions. The OS seeks to be an empowerment organization, transparent in our administration, and promotes an open source environment in which creative practitioners collect and redistribute intellectual and material resources for community development.

For those who have never heard of The Operating System, gasp, how might you entice the public to follow the work, the mission, the religion?

We live in a deeply palimpsestic, richly chaotic, high volume environment – I’m never surprised if someone hasn’t heard of The OS! But for anyone who lands on our doorsteps, there’s surely something here for you; and not only to read, but to do. The OS is all about permission and offering agency — as well as providing practical strategies and resources. Whether you’re looking to publish, wanting to be a better, more involved citizen, trying to kick start a creative practice, or seeking to simply learn more about groundbreaking, innovative individuals and organizations in the arts and beyond, there are deep channels of inspiration here for you.

In terms of entertaining futurist ideologies and generations, what would you hope that those who have yet to come into existence would take away from The Operating System?

One important thing that The OS stresses is that the archival nature of what we produce is of equal import to the “end result” art form. I’m very concerned with the future of born digital media, and with the uncertainty with which we look ahead at what will remain for the archive — when we consider the myths around art and artists from all mediums, we can see so clearly that these stories have been built from a combination of fantasy and a smattering of “facts,” drawn from newspapers, magazines, and then various ephemera. Artists and writers for centuries have left their work behind, but so too letters, independently produced publications, and so forth and so on. We write (and, critically, correct) the histories of these times not only from the institutions and periodicals that produce the ‘official’ story, but, whenever possible, from whatever evidence the practitioner leaves behind that can offer hints as to their process, relationships, and so forth. And ultimately, while artists work of course is vitally important, these stories about artists’ lives and practices have such massive impact – more so on future generations than on their own, really — and so especially in an age where we have to wonder whether our digital traces will even be recoverable, whether we will offer the rich ephemera up for future study, I stress for The OS that we write directly for these stories, ourselves, by including commentary and back matter in every volume. I also facilitate the production of documents for ephemeral performances that might otherwise have years of rich collaborative process history totally lost to the record. And, I’m working actively to open source and document the process of building this organization, and to build resources and infrastructure. All of these things have significant ramifications in the future — whether for individual or organizational modelling of personal, professional, or collective creative practice, as much as for serving as a historical touchstone for future generations seeking for insight, wisdom, or even simply case studies of art making in this time.

You mention that, for you, The Operating System is like looking into a mirror, but would you say that this same philosophy applies to your viewers? And in what way(s)?

I don’t know if I would want to say The OS is like a mirror for me without the rest of the context within which I said it being immediately legible and making a frame for the statement. But I can still approach an answer, which is: yes and no. Yes, insofar as I feel a true mirror (which is to say, one that’s more that reflective glass) would in fact reflect back to any viewer a swirling, evolving, energy — a complex network of systems, requiring upkeep and modification to thrive. So in this way, The Operating System seeks to be a mirror of not only us as individuals but also of humans as an ecosystem, and we can learn more about ourselves as individuals when we can see these aspects of ourselves (singular and plural) in the theoretical “mirror.” However, the answer can also be no, but conditionally: whether or not viewers have the capacity to see themselves in a space where duality and the in-betweens are explored and celebrated has less to do with whether The OS reflects them than it does their comfort level with uncertainty. But whether most people can “see” themselves, in mirrors theoretical or actual, might be the real question we’re dancing around here, n’est-ce pas?

How does healing ourselves and reshaping our notions of self and society better prepare us for art, the future, and transitioning?  

Healing ourselves both individually and at the systems level is so essential to the mission of The Operating System. A spiritual teacher of mine, Eileen O’Hare, told me once that this practice was my medicine practice (of healing myself and others) and I believe that deeply, though it’s not necessarily what I speak to immediately in interviews, etc (when I’m not asked directly). I don’t need to force that language or understanding of the work on those not comfortable or familiar with the idiom. However, in more general terms, I land on Krishnamurti: this is a sick society, and therefore if we cannot seem to adapt to it, that is actually a sign of our health. But we must, must, heal ourselves and each other if we are to live here much longer. I don’t feel that mincing words is helpful anymore. The earth will recover, and time is very different for a planet than for a human — but if we’d like to be part of that transition, we need to heal on many levels. Art is essential in that healing process, and healing is essential for us to make (and be able to receive) the art that will help us remember our humanity (and our planet, and our birthright as star stuff with the capacity to sustain or destroy).

What is your artistic routine like? Do you have a schedule or are you spontaneous?

You can plan for spontaneity. I have to be very, very rigorous and disciplined with the amount of work that I do (ie: right now I am teaching at Pratt Institute, working on 30+ OS titles, leading a workshop at Bowery Poetry club, performing frequently, working to create two different imprints with coalition organizations, writing a series of 50 articles about NEA funding in all 50 states for Drunken Boat, and leading ACLU people power activism events, among other things), which means that my own artistic practice looks more like structuring in hours that I sit with particular art materials or pen and paper, and make work. That said, I always have a notebook with me, and certainly am I open to flashes of inspiration while doing other things, and I’ll certainly open another window on the computer, or jot down phrases or conceptual ideas to come back to. I make lots of lists. Art ideas and scheduling time for play — are on the list. Some days, I don’t get to write or make art — but I try to at least draw every day, a little bit. Constraint helps. I give myself little assignments, and also do ekphrasis.

Name three people who have inspired you in creating The Operating System.

Diane di Prima’s book, Recollections of My Life as a Woman, has been inspirational to me on many levels — and in many ways informed the founding of The Operating System. What I took from the book was more about composing a creative life than anything specific, but it helped me see possibility and promise in this different kind of life (as well as in different kinds of relationships) than most people seek out. The sort of DIY ethos that she and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) brought to The Floating Bear certainly played into not only seeing myself able to build this life but also to physically, personally, make something like this real, with limited resources.

Then, too, always, Buckminster Fuller, whose ethics and vision have inspired me for more than twenty years. His maxim about not trying to fix the broken system but rather building a new model that makes it obsolete has been my mantra for as long as I can remember. I do have an Urban Design masters, which might make this make more sense, but I found Bucky before I got it! Ha. I’m a systems thinker, and so Fuller, and folks like Gregory Bateson (I also spent a lot of time as an anthropology scholar) have been hugely influential on my thinking in ways that have deep impact on The OS.

And then, well, Ammiel Alcalay, who was my professor at the Graduate Center, he was sort of the lynchpin in helping me shake off whoever I was trying to be for other people, through really engaged, informed exposure to the cross sections of politics and poetics across the 20th century. His love for Olson, and seeing Olson leave a government job for a life of poetry, and working through Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone, and all the little magazines, all the independent work that came through pure will, and always in resistance — there was no question these were my predecessors, and I realised that with his encouragement.

Who would you love to see at The Operating System?

Courageous, disciplined, radical creators of all stripes who are ready to really live a life dedicated to change rather than attempting to consume “activism” in those hours of the week that don’t conflict with their existing calendars. This is the time for sea change, and we’re building a crew.

If you could give The Operating System a soundtrack, who would be on it?

Anyone who makes any person working with me inspired, driven, or happy. But —

If you’re asking what *I* listen to when working on OS stuff… how much time do you have?

I’m very inspired by Brian Eno’s approach to music, and I listen to a lot of Boards of Canada when I need to get work done. Spotify says I listen to a lot of hard bop and “post bop.” “Passages,” a Ravi Shankar – Philip Glass crossover, is one of my favorites. All the Ethiopiques recordings, The Bad Plus, Hiatus Kaiyote, D’Angelo, Blonde Redhead, Thundercat, Dirty Projectors, Kamasi Washington, Bonobo, Message to Bears, Ali Farka Toure… my cat really likes jazz piano. I also just will put on WXQR or WBGO — classical or jazz radio — for the whole day. When I run a workshop I like to play Nino Rota’s Fellini soundtracks and other gypsy jazz, Django Reinhardt stuff. It’s got great circusy-play energy.

 

Find The Operating System here and here.

 

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go With Vic

Vic Oh invites you on a mystical adventure, a land you may or may not have seen, but one that connects you to the universe. Whether or not you hold her hand doesn’t matter. She’s more concerned about you holding your own hand; about you being your own guide and partner. She wants to take you on a journey, one that you may or may not be ready for, but that’s not the point. Dive in anyways –get your spirit right with the creator and go for it.

Looking at Vic Oh’s work is transcendental. Whether you gaze into one for hours or a few minutes, the same results will take place. You will awaken. And it is in this moment you will feel all the cords tied one to the other, one to you and me, one to she, one to Vic Oh –forever outward, searching, digging, swimming, wondering, winding, wielding.

Do not hesitate a second longer, steady yourself for artistic immersion with Vic Oh and her spirit clan.

There seems to be a vision beyond mere visual pleasure, a vision of ancient and futuristic proportions –one that tethers us to a past and future we can only realize by going inside of ourselves. Her pieces beckon us to be still, silent. The meditative flow that comes oozing out makes us both us and not us, old and young, him and her, yes and no, within and without. To engage with Vic Oh’s work is to engage in self-exploration, to create missing pieces, to uncover past and future links.

© “Cosmic Falls” 24x24cm Commissioned work

The ethereal floating is stunning and should be experienced time and time again. Keep looking, stay focused, don’t look away. Close your eyes and Vic Oh’s pieces will be there on the retina, spinning, vibrating, asking you questions. What is it all about? What does this shape mean to me? What is my shape? What does it mean to the universe? How do these shapes connect? Only you have the answer, viewer. The inward looking feels like Vic Oh’s mission. Do not confuse this with naval gazing, this much more profound–this is chasing planets and stars far beyond our reach.

 

© My first artwork on a black Canvas
“Dark Matter”
2016 26 x 20 cm
Posca and plastic figures on canvas

The mission comes alive when the viewer understands that interacting with an Vic Oh work is engaging in self and in the universe. Yes, it’s that deep. It’s sacred. Her work comes in black and white forms that are amoebic and speak of altered states, they cyphers twirling on themselves and gyrating the tie between your body and spirit, they are codes ready to be deciphered.

© “Rosahringur Minni Revisited II” Circle of Protection in Icelandic magic. 100×100 cm Acrylic – Posca – Rothring

Vic Oh seems to work with a steady hand and an even sharper mind. Combining colors and lines as if sent to her from above; as if she’s in good with the spirits and they translate their language to her in pattern and palette. There’s something omnipotent about what she’s doing and it feels like there’s more to come, much more. It feels like we’re watching the unraveling of an artist who is tangling us into her very work. We become the work. We are stitched in.

Paintings feel like diagrams to a heart center, directions to another galaxy, formulas to how to get where you need to go. While there is great methodical care give to each piece, the free-form energy is tangible. There’s a weaving in and out, being between spaces, understanding how significant having spaces above and below are for expansion and evolution. She gets something that some of us don’t, but if we become followers, if we follower her lead, her belief system scribed on canvas and paper and wood, we’re sure to be the thing we need to be. Vic Oh persuades a self-journey process in all of us. She conjures those who have come before, heeds advice and listens to wisdom, then she gets to work crafting bodies of work that are bodies of us.

 

© “Draumstafir Revisited II”
Magical icelandic rune to dream about what the heart desires.
2016 – 20cm – acrylic and posca

Vic Oh’s works transpire together as a collective. They do not conspire, but they might if that’s what the universe thinks you need. You see, Vic Oh’s cosmic paintings are what you need them to be, what you want them to be, and even what you might not want them to be. For the universe presents us with art like this because we’re ready. We’re ready for the trip. Don’t close your eyes, stay alert, and let yourself fall deep under the influence of geometric shapes, runes, and ancient symbols. Be ready to astral travel, find yourself in another dimension, connect with source. All of this could happen when you stare directly into her work, but what is sure to happen is that you will get out of her work what you need to get out of it. It’s that simple. Yet equally complex. Much like Vic Oh’s work.

Find Vic Oh in Paris @ Rivoli 59, Tumblr, Instagram, or Facebook.

 

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

Kenya (Robinson): Cheeky AF

Artist Statement, No. 032714

I have been blessed with the privilege of blackness and femaleness, and sometimes, queerness on Karaoke Thursdays, or even on a regular Monday when the Rainbow is Enuf. My neighbors-in-otherness, borrowing sass and sugar from next door to spice the “T” we can all serve on the regular. I am fiscally a member of the working poor and culturally a member of the shrinking middle class. A graduate of an Ivy League University, I am also a college dropout. Go figure.

But ultimately I am an artist whose personal contradictions are not simply confusing, but fodder for my in-and-out-of-studio practice. I use social media, the comment thread cacophony of ‘the internets’, google alerts, information doppelgangers, contact microphones, contact paper, oil pastels, corduroy crotch shots, chalk, ink, combs, plastic action figures, the mythologies of identity and blonde hair as material to create experiences. Someone once told me that I was “all sparkle and no substance”. I was so shocked at it’s timing that it took nearly two hours before the tears fell, but now I think it a fitting description. You can’t hold love in your hand either. And that’s what I’m really serving. All “T”, no shade.

Apparently, chicks from Gainesville got game, serious art game and Kenya (Robinson) is proof. Although originally from Germany, she claims Florida’s swamp as home, as the place that spawned her, as though creeping and crawling, springing from beneath and above like a bayou creature, a faerie draped in handwoven glittery garb, ready to spit venom, spit knowledge. She does just that, by the way. Herself, an amalgam of characters created from moments, hours, and years, spent considering gender, race, and consumerism. For it really does take a lifetime, and more, to tackle such subjects. Her Florida roots got her unearthing that which has been planted, that which has touched soil and grown; she challenges us to think, re-think, reprogram, reboot. Here lies the re-cultivation of everything you perceive art to be. You will be changed. You will be submerged. You will find yourself wading through marshland, hand out, searching for that microphone cord that is tied to Kenya (Robinson), aka “CHEEKY” LaSHAE, as if umbilical in nature. She was born for this, she was born of this; she wants to make you aware that you, too, are the product of your surroundings, that you are a product. Did you hear her? You are a product, dear reader, dear public. Let her many personas teach you a thing or two about the society in which you find yourself.

With The Inflatable Mattress and #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET, she explores and excavates social implications that lie behind privilege and marginalization. She pulls back the curtain. But in pulling back the curtain, she not only aims to reveal the puppet-master, she also becomes one. She paradigms her own personas in response to social constructs and in doing so addresses her experience as well as those of others. The experience is not singular, she seems to be chanting; and she draws us into a universe where layered questions and solutions speak to the same room.

What is social consciousness and how much does it affect mass consumption? What is mass consumption and what does it do to our social consciousness? The answers fall upon audiences from inside a box that stands before a microphone. Enter “CHEEKY” LaSHAE. This is Kenya’s (Robinson) super and alter ego, a group of critics, a line of ancestors, a cast of satirical individuals, and a sage –”CHEEKY” LaSHAE does it all, has been it all, and tells it all. As mentioned by Creative Capital, “To date CHEEKY LaSHAE is a heavy metal performer, self-help guru, sex worker, motivational speaker, author, fashion icon, educator, KJ, financial planner and interior designer.” One wonders how the artists feels to embody real life avatar status, then approach art from that state, then face ideas as a language slanging notion slayer.

“CHEEKY” makes and breaks boundaries. That’s her thing. And she’s good at it. It seems that under the guise of “CHEEKY” Kenya (Robinson) shifts energy; not just reinventing the wheel, but taking it apart, perhaps even destroying it, and not making a wheel, but any other technology that will get the job done instead. The goal is efficiency minus capitalism, the goal riding a fine line between awareness and humanism plus product. What is it to be human and what is it to live in a capitalist world? Beyond thinking and speaking outside, and from inside, the box, there are so many solutions. “CHEEKY” utters those solutions and if audiences are quick enough, extra present and awoke, they’ll hear them.

Project 497 or the John Henry and the Patchwork Petitionary is her opus, an accidental one, but one in which she takes immense pride. It’s a piece 12 years in the making.

Her primary focus, though, seems to fall on Americanness. What is it, what it means, how it transforms, how it stagnates, how it binds, how it betrays, how it produces. There are so many narratives. Through each performance and exhibition, she intends to unravel and then sew those narratives –each time becoming a version of self and imposing other identities. Curiouser and curiouser, we draw closer to the core, but the center of Kenya (Robinson) could be just as close as it is far away. It is in her rendition of life’s players and personas that she makes us face our own.

Her works have appeared in various venues such as, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Brooklyn Academy of Music, RECESS Activities, New York at RUSH Arts Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, The Kitchen, and Creative Time. They leave a lasting impression on those who are fortunate enough to encounter her energies.

Kenya (Robinson) posted on her site, a quote turned sacred text, highlighting another social construct that has indelibly influenced her artistic experimentation:

“Our entire pattern of socio-sexual interaction is non-existent here. The Gethenians do not see one another as men or women. This is almost impossible for our imaginations to accept. After all, what is the first question we ask about a newborn baby?

Yet you cannot think of a Gethenian as “it.” They are not neuters. They are potentials; during each sexual cycle they may develop in either direction for the duration of that cycle. No physiological habit is established, and the mother of several children may be the father of several more.

There is no division of humanity into strong and weak halves, protected/protective. One is respected and judged only as a human being. You cannot cast a Gethenian in the role of Man or Woman, while adopting towards “him” a corresponding role dependent on your expectations of the interactions between persons of the same or opposite sex. It is an appalling experience for a Teran…”

-from The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (or a Sacred Text of CHEEKY LaSHAE)

Find more of Kenya (Robinson)’s work here, here, and here.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

E. Jane: The Trifecta of a Triple Goddess

They come strong. But they come soft. They challenge and embrace notions about black women, femmes, art, music, feminism, protest, gender, life. They defy most social constructs because they are awake like that. E. Jane brings game to the art world. If you’re not ready for them, then you’re not ready to face life, to face truth.

E. Jane: The Trifecta of a Triple Goddess

Jane is E. Jane. They are Mhysa; they are the other half of SCRAATCH, digital art and sound project that includes lawd knows, aka Chukwumaa. E. Jane makes no real distinction between the three versions of self; as they say in NOPE: a manifesto, “I am a Black artist with multiple selves.” A genuine triple goddess, E. Jane is a gift. They float on clouds and come down like rain. One begins to wonder, what can’t E. Jane do? And then one is reminded of black girl magic.

E. Jane: The Trifecta of a Triple Goddess

E. Jane pushes themselves, pushes boundaries. They break and make molds of themselves and their alter-egos, of their divinities, of their spirits. The transformation is like witnessing a sunrise and sunset simultaneously; it’s that stunning. Should you take the time to be mindful, be still, rest, stare into the horizon –take it all in. You will be seeing art as a form as only E. Jane can does it. With a mission of softness, softer than anything you can imagine or have yet to experience, they pursue a path where black femme, queerness, and feminism intersect; at this crossing, a field of lavender so ready for QTWOC + POC to come rest, be safe, survive and persevere. They transform the image of black woman artist, they are beyond categories yet understand that society hasn’t quiet caught up with their altered consciousness.

This article isn’t about their accolades, although they are plentiful. From private shows to group events, E. Jane is no stranger to being on stage or being the stage. Voice and sound are the foundations of what they project. They use body as canvas, and their art collective brings a triad of voices. Listen closely and you can hear the voices of ancestors and the Afro-future selves that anticipate majestic birth, majesty, royal as any royal purple. Their art does manifesto, speaks against capitalism, calls out white supremacy. Their art gives voice to the millions of black bodies murdered, incarcerated, enslaved. Their art rises and rises and it’s like a balloon full of sound therapy, words, flowers, glitter, ribbons. Their art is ritual and selfie. Their art does not stop, does not quit and looks like it never will. Long live the manifestation of E. Jane.

E. Jane: The Trifecta of a Triple Goddess

From text to sound art to online installations in protest, E. Jane embodies so many energies. They are not one thing, one person, they are many and they like it that way. What captivates the viewer lies in E. Jane’s ability to tell story in multiple mediums for the artist who rejects and accepts classifications who grows into the blossoming iris. E. Jane is any and all flowers, lavender, purple. Even the sounds they produce feel purple, passionate, ripe with grape smudges.

E. Jane: The Trifecta of a Triple Goddess

Their Twitter and Instagram praise and protect black femme bodies, cover them like mothers and Mother Earth. Each selfie, each tweet, each post is a magic spell. Like from a sheer pastel purple curtain, they hide behind and come forth. She is the ghost of past and present and they will ghost into the future with the high bright intention of the seventh chakra, as violet as aubergines and amethyst impressions. They exist through empowerment and words that cut up white privilege, cut out innovative shapes, cut out beautiful paper dolls that lie down with her in lavender fields to sleep the sweet sleep of possibility.

“The avant-garde won’t save you, but the fugitives might.” – E. Jane / E. Scraaatch

Find more of E. Jane on Instagram, on their website full of visual delight and brilliance (get schooled), and Facebook.

 

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

 

Das Naiz: The Selfie God Guru

When you are the most epitomized duo in Indian history and you gotta get the selfie just right… Screw exile. #nofilter

If you think taking too many selfies is a waste of time, you might be right. If you think filling up your Instagram account with selfies is an indication of narcissism, you also might be right.  However, Das Naiz is here to remind you that the selfie is a powerful tool that should be used time and time again; and just to be sure, one more time.  All those selfies do serve a purpose, believe it or not.  So go ahead, snap away, take a few dozen selfies, feel good about self, do self-care via the selfie, live vicariously through the selfie, be the selfie.  There is no wrong or right way to do it.  The only point is this: that you should be hashtagging the selfie life to death, the selfie life is where it’s at; and when you mix selfie with art you spiritually transcend.    

Das Naiz: The Selfie God Guru

When the girls are out having fun and someone announces a selfie and everyone’s hands go up like, wait dude- let me fix my hair. #girlsjustwannafixhair

Das Naiz is here to challenge your notions of selfie and the selfie culture.  Armed with armfuls of Hindu gods and goddesses, the selfie gets put to work –transitioning meditation realms and battling against the powers that be, the selfie concept reworks itself into a state where all beings pray for happiness and teeter between bliss and dismiss.  A little tongue in cheek, but something resonates like a Tibetan bowl chiming us into a deep state of mindfulness.    

Das Naiz: The Selfie God Guru

‘The Last Cupcake’ feat women in art history (From left to right: Mughal miniature, Egyptian hieroglyphic, Mumtaz Mahal portrait, Rajasthani miniature, a Buenaventura José painting, Olympia by Manet, a Eugene Delacroix painting, persian miniature from Firdausi’s Shahnameh, persian miniature by Ostad Hosein Behzad, Japanese miniature, Artemisia Gentileschi, Leonardo DaVinchi and another mughal portrait.)

 

The selfie is not much different than a commissioned painting of yesteryear.  Das Naiz hints at the obvious self-proclaimations made by both –the need to self-gaze, to navel-gaze, to self-worship, to document self, to leave self behind as legacy.  Selfies will be, for future generations, a type of Baroque painting, highly stylized and coveted; except now, according to today’s technological artifice, the selfie is much more accessible and easy to do than an artistically contracted painting on canvas.  Yet, one needs to consider the proper equipment.  Just as funds prevented people from hiring an artist for portrait, certain people don’t have access to the means to take a selfie, they don’t have the capital to buy the phone or camera with which to selfie out into nirvana.  The selfie is the modern day response to a portrait; albeit both equally as expensive and exclusive in their own rights.  One must consider the status symbol that both paintings and selfies imply.  

Das Naiz: The Selfie God Guru

When you at a crazy house party and shit gets real: Must. Document. Everythinggg.

A selfie can be used to conjure.  Whether you’re looking to combat patriarchy or parody any pop culture reference, the selfie is here to enlighten us all.  It comes for the Tinder account scroller, the selfie pole tricks at social events, and Snapchat bae.  What can glorify the selfie more than putting the selfie in the hands of Krishna and Radha?  What can open our third eye better than seeing the Instagram logo beam from the heart chakra of Buddha?  Das Naiz captivates us with the selfies that speak to our selfie souls.  With modern day technological jargon and cultural references, these pieces of art are a product of our times.  We feel at peace looking at them because they break us into pieces that can be seen as a reflection of our previous lives should you believe in reincarnation; they allude to future versions of selves that will evolve far beyond the selfie –god and goddess forbid.  

Das Naiz: The Selfie God Guru

A “Casualie”, (noun):The act of taking a selfie as though by accident, with no intention of looking pretty.  #casualie

So while you’ve over there pondering whether or not another selfie is one too many, one too much, Das Naiz encourages your behavior; Das Naiz pressures the selfie into existence and persistence.  Das Naiz, aka Adrita Das, is an “illustration and visuals laced with dark humour intended mostly to make people feel better about their lives.”  Therefore, if the selfie brings you happiness, then by all means, take a few more, make entire folders for selfies, turn all social media accounts into a shrine for the selfie.  There are no limits; let the selfie make you limitless.  Just as the elite were painting themselves time and again, reinventing poses, changing costumes, we, too, can model our current actions after those who came before us and in that way become mirror images of previous selves in order to replicate onto future selves.  Selfie away, selfie until the future has swalows the selfie whole and we are nothing but a floating nebula of selfie ecstasy.

Find Das Naiz here and here.  

 

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

hustle*: Hardcore Boxed-In

Being a stripper is hardcore.

It’s not about the acrobatics or the art of stripping that makes it hardcore, that stuff comes later; this is if you want those tricks of the trade to be part of your repertoire. Some settle for their own version of stage work, I being one of them. It makes no difference, anyways. Guys are in it for the t&a; ready to scheme on set of lap dances or underpay by accident. They might want company, sure, fine, whatever; but the majority blabber away with their pricks all stiff and sticky with pre-cum.

It’s not about the drugs or drinking, the binges, the tirades, the blackouts. It’s not about the underground full-penetration work that happens in the backrooms; it’s not even about the sleazy hand jobs that can’t be detected by most.

What makes stripping hardcore is that it’s a chosen life of both recklessness and control, of objectification and empowerment. I know you can understand those words and see what I’m getting at. But until you spin on a greasy pole in platform stilettos with a g-string just big enough to cover your vagina slit and get 1) just stares, no tips 2) a couple of bucks, torn or 3) rained on, you can’t know the ups and downs of the game and how they can directly and indirectly affect your self-worth. You cannot know the lengths of stripping if you don’t let it insert itself into you, that’s just how it goes. No one here is asking for your sympathy. We not even talking feelings here, that’s how hardcore we be. We don’t talk feelings, not real ones, at least.

I never thought of myself as hardcore. Sure, I might have wanted to be hardcore or even acted the part, but deep down I was sensitive, one might even say a poet by nature. I rebelled, but nothing memorable or worth mentioning in this piece. However, I did feel boxed-in. The feeling stemmed from home and trickled into any romantic relationship I would try to entertain. There was this feeling of me being a girl I couldn’t be or didn’t want to be in the first place. A me that was never pretty enough; perhaps I was worried about my feminine measure, my coolness, my feminine-coolness in the game of life and stripping.

I was the girl who put on a good show, talked the talk, but was terrified of walking the walk. No one would dare call me afraid because I had fearless written all over me– right down to my combat boots. But deep down, I shook in those boots like a baby deer taking first steps. And walking in platform heels for the first time having never even worn regular heels looks even worse than it sounds. I dreaded those wobbly first steps, yet the call of the wild, the call to be wild, was so strong in me that ignoring it would have been going against nature, against self. Even at a young age, I knew I had to stay true to some semblance of self I had been given upon birth. No, I wasn’t born to be a stripper, but I was born to be my version of hardcore. The girl was becoming a woman; and the process was one I couldn’t turn away from.

There was no stopping me. No convincing me otherwise. No telling me it couldn’t be done. I was fresh from the box, store bought and paid for; and I was debuting myself before the world –the sex worker world. It might have been easier to walk on stilts and join the circus had I not been so focused on capitalism.

So there I was, all bloody from the amniotic sac –wet, dripping, animated. I learned that tightening the ankle strap too much would prevent mobility, thus falling. It is such a sad thing to see a pretty girl stumble and crash after recently gyrating a pole or another human body. It’s that embarrassed-for-others feeling and the fact that it could, and probably would, eventually happen to you, to me.

All the non-thought and the moving, forever moving, and being semi-human is pretty hardcore; it’s like spending half the day with zombie, robot, vampires who all play the part of human and get three stars out of five. Which isn’t bad –not bad at all– not for some amateur, b-movie scene. Most of these bodies were born to be that type of hardcore anyways; the full of heart and not much brain kind –the kind of hardcore that makes us all question existence and energy and sucking the exhaust pipes with hopes of laying down forever, the deepest sleep ever.

When you have just flattened the box to which you were born and don’t realize your jumping head first into another box, life feels liberating. It almost feels like flying. I spread my arms out. I am mid-air; I recognize birds, I greet them, they greet me, then I think I see clouds. The moment is in both slow motion and sped all the way up until I feel nauseous. So I open my eyes. It’s dark, like pitch black almost. I have just enough time to grab the slippery pole before I fall. The stars are holes poked into a black sheet that line a florescent painted wall; the black light makes everything feel trippy and almost happy.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

Art Baby Gallery, Where Digital Art Comes to Kick It

When you go to Art Baby Gallery, you realize you should’ve been here a long time ago. When you arrive, you feel a big yes building up in your throat and you get kind of obsessed at first click. When you witness Art Baby Gallery, you know you’re seeing something that must continue to be in this world for as long as man and machine co-exist–– which is like forever, we suspect. Art Baby Gallery is sure to spawn babies and siblings, fetuses, floral and fauna, and more; she is on the brink of birthing a whole future generation of Internet art and artists.

Art Baby Gallery

Rebecca Storm

 

Digital art is nothing new. Nor is the idea of producing or displaying art online. We’ve been making digital art as early as the 1970s; since humans have formed relationships with machines, we’ve created some pretty amazing, radical, and sometimes strange things –there’s no stopping the unstoppable duo. And it’s obvious that computers and humans go hand in hand; the chemistry is tangible, so thick you can cut it not only with a knife, but with a digital knife or a pixelated tongue or computer-drawn switchblade.

Art Baby Gallery

Gabby Bess + Samantha Conlon

Founded and run by Grace Miceli, who is an internet artist herself, Art Baby Gallery expands notions of what a gallery should and could be. The challenge lies in the traditional space that an art gallery normally evokes. Miceli deconstructs that. She’s built an online platform where viewing can be done in private, at one’s own pace, at the complete pleasure and leisure of the viewer, and without any pressure from the outside world. Just going into the world can be hard these days; and entering art galleries can sometimes feel intimidating. Art Baby Gallery lets you browse and admire from your cozy bed, messy desk, and/or bathroom. You can literally see several exhibits in one day and all in your underwear. How dope is that? Miceli’s approach might not be novel, however, she is exclusive in the art she includes on the site; which seems to be selected from digitally-based artists, artists who make art for art’s sake, marginalized and anti-establishment artist. Not to mention that fact that she’s opened a space for artists who might not have had the opportunity or a place to display their work. Miceli is an internet art faerie with her own brand of glittery magic dust.

Art Baby Gallery

Ayqa Khan

Shattering standard notions about what an art gallery experience should look and feel like, Art Baby proves to the art world that ideas are meant to be messed with and challenged. Giving the viewer an in-home art gallery experience where one doesn’t have to even leave the couch demonstrates the power of art and empowers artists to reach beyond the walls of a typical gallery setting. Now, the possibilities are endless. Now art not only breaks boundaries, but breaks the forth wall. It’s not just up close and personal, it’s all up in your private space, in your face. Art like this is intimate and raw. And this is the future of art, thanks to Art Baby Gallery.

Art Baby Gallery

Jazmine Weber

The goal is to empower artists in every which way. Whether that means supporting work that might be less mainstream, granting space to art that might not be otherwise chosen by a gallery, or praising work for its genuine content and not its ability to commodify the industry –Art Baby Gallery indulges art for the sake of art. And in doing so is building a community which is what art is all about in the first place.

Art Baby Gallery

India K

India K

More so today than ever before, online sectors for art and artistic endeavors is growing. Art Baby is one step ahead of the game and is already doing IRL exhibitions and teaming up with other galleries to throw functions and hangouts that promote art and not dollars. In a world where money fuels the majority of projects, Art Baby seems to be giggling, blowing bubbles, and creating despite the capitalist monster. Art Baby seems to be saying, Take that art world. She can do that because she’s got her own mission and vision; she’s already got her own scene. So go ahead and jump into the waters, surf the inter-waves and webs of Art Baby, and chill out for a minute; there’s always time to kick it with art when Art Baby Gallery is around. And she’s around, she’s but a few clicks away.

Art Baby Gallery

Mariana Pacho López

Art Baby Gallery can be found here & here.

Grace Miceli can be found here & here; her shop Art Baby Girl here.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

Decolonize This Place: Truth behind Museum Walls

The world is for the taking. It can be bought and sold like any slave because we are slaves; this is about color, yes, but the issue being highlighted is the socio-economic infrastructure of this country and others. These systems have been put into motion to keep the rich in place, to keep the elite prospering in the process of world domination. They pit the colonizer against the non-colonizer. The non-colonizer is black and brown, but today, more so than ever, the non-colonizer can be other colors, too, because the haves keep taking from, humiliating, subjugating, denigrating, and killing the havenots.

And if we thought that safe zones might be places like museums and art galleries, where the other 99% of the population can support each other’s projects made against the backdrop of illusions and lies created by the 1%, we were and are wrong. Even in the face of police brutality, the increasing 1% take-over, the alt+right, the comeback of so many hate groups that have been in hiding, the hate groups that refuse to hide, and the sheer refusal to recognize human rights –some artistic spaces seem to align with a subversive stance. The truth rests behind the curtain; museums are puppets that propagate peace, yet demonstrate one-side collections of art. That’s against total fairness, against humanity. A museum stands for freedom and justice, right?

Decolonize This Place: Truth behind Museum Walls

But what does a museum really stand for? That’s the purpose of a museum? Is a museum’s objective to speak to the wound or make it bigger? Is the museum’s goal to support artistic voice or the dollar? How does a museum grant space for artists who are fighting against the powers that be? Is the museum just a wolf in sheep’s clothing? These are the type of questions Decolonize This Place pose to the public.

Decolonize This Place rejects the borrowing of artistic spaces for 1% summits and holds museums accountable for housing exhibitions that foster inequality. If Occupy Museum sounds familiar, then consider Decolonize This Place their cousin. Decolonize This Place recognizes the illegal activities in Israel, against Palestinians, and they are calling for action.

Decolonize This Place: Truth behind Museum Walls

Decolonize This Place is attacking Brooklyn Museum. Decolonize This place is protesting against an exhibition titled This Place that highlights Israeli artists from the West Bank, yet carelessly left out the Palestinian existence altogether, not just lives, but the taking and disregard for human life. Decolonize This Place created Agitprop! in response, and it continues to grow as protestors demand answers. What is happening to our museums and how can we preserve integrity? What is a museum anymore, anyways?

Decolonize This Place: Truth behind Museum Walls

As it says on their about tab, “Decolonize This Place is a movement space, action-oriented around indigenous struggle, black liberation, Free Palestine workers and de-gentrification.” And they are not alone, they have some heavy hitters among their collaborators:

Aida Youth Center—Palestine, AKA Exit, Al-Awda NY, Black Poets Speak Out, Bronx Not For Sale, Chinatown Arts Brigade, Common Practice New York, Direct Action Front for Palestine, El Salón, Global Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.), Hyperallergic, Insurgent Poets Society, Jive Poetic, Mahina Movement.

They come strong and they are not backing down.

Decolonize This Place offers workshops, gives benefit concerts, and educates the public. They are behind #NODAPL, #BlackLivesMatter, and #FreePalestine.

Should you be called to action or be moved by the fearless audacity behind Decolonize This Place, have a look at their site where you can learn about upcoming events.

Find them on here and here. Find them and support them in a neighborhood near you.

If you’re in New York City, Insurgent Poets Society will have an even on December 7th and two open houses on Saturday, December 10th and Saturday, December 17th. Link up, stand up, raise up.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

hustle*: Clients Oh Clients

hustle* Clients Oh Clients

Most of my clients were of the seasoned variety; retired, or very close to it –grey or greying, at the very least salt and peppered. With their working life behind them and not much left ahead, they wandered in bubbles of pre-existing youth and unrequited dreams. They stumbled between death and dying. Some were even fulfilling fantasies of yesteryear, going for the really hot chick that, as young males, they didn’t dare attempt to approach.

Some, I could be almost certain, had a granddaughter fetish, mesmerized by supple skin that has long left them, the grip on decade old photos. Perhaps they hoped to verify their masculinity through the purchase of female flesh because real men can buy things like flesh. Hello colonizer. My clients didn’t mean to be misogynists, at least that’s what I told myself. Such perceptions are so tangled with and an integral part of their generation. It’s hard to take the dominator from his pedestal –it comes with their whiteness. Almost all of my regulars were old, white men.

Since retiring they returned to fishing, a pastime of tradition and boyish wonder, virility, splendor in the grass. This time around, no fancy lures or hooks. What attracts a fish most? Valuables, something shiny and gold, and money, of course, lots of it. Jewelry in fistfuls can be got from these guys; wear the pieces for a while until they lose their initial luster, then pawn them later. Money flows like a river teeming with excited and excitable salmon; hungry for the hunt, money just another commodity. They are generous which makes the guilt a little strange, but backstage counting those stacks wipes away any semblance of negativity and whoosh. You’re off paying your bills and buying bottles of pills, groceries, new thongs.

Ain’t no stripper happier than when she scores herself the timeworn client.   No stripper will turn away the old man customer, no matter how old, no matter how perverted. Okay, there are limits, I guess, but old man winter’s company is always welcomed and met with a smile or a coquettish glance. At times, these clients are even fought over; tooth and nail type stuff. With gifts like villas in Italy, furnished apartments, the latest in electronics. The sugar daddy is a highly prized perk of the sex worker business. Not every stripper will have the pleasure, though. Some watch from the sidelines, gawk, covet, hate.

Why is this type of client so desired? He’s simple, that’s why. He tells you what he wants and sometimes he hands over money just for talking. This client-stripper relationship is hand in glove: less pretentious because no one has to fake anything, less stressful because he’s not looking for a $20 hand job, less work because sometimes all he wants is to sit next to a pretty girl and feel youth shine from within. And he’s forgetful which makes getting an extra few bucks easy. He doesn’t like to argue because he spent a lifetime arguing with his wife.

Not all are so ideal. But most are, hence the battles between bitches.

Not all are so old, some are outright elderly. One ends up being more of a nurse than a companion; there are the unexpected bodily fluids and the cane to deal with. Some girls cozy right up to this and feel at home being maternal than fetishized.

Not all are so innocent. Some are freaks while others use their age as an excuse for being handsy.

The seasoned client wants a reminder that he is still living. He stumbles into the black box, fumbles through the dark, and finally witnesses Candyland. It’s the gleaming eyes, like baby boys, that give away the repeat customers from the newbies. What the mature guys got going for them is that they never seem to get bored of the divine female figure whereas the young’uns, the hustlers and players all got something to say. Everyone’s a critic, but no one’s been asked to critique. The older gentleman loves all the shapes and sizes. He’s a real connoisseur, alright. But don’t let him fool you, he’ll tell you of his army days, he’ll tell you what a playboy he was and how he took advantage of foreign women overseas and at home. Once a colonizer, always a colonizer.

The seasoned client delays the most, out of all customers, in adjusting to the dark in so many ways. Some talk about the guilt they feel for having thought about entering, for entering. Some use that as a sympathy tactic, others are opening their hearts. He brings up a dead wife, his prostate, erectile dysfunction, eating soup alone.

All of them are tanned. They soak up the Florida sun as if winter were nipping at their heels. They smell of outside, sunscreen, and singed hair. They often talk about the sun, how it brightens their day just a bit, how it gives them a reason to get out of bed, how it reminds them of their childhood. If they talk about their younger days, you can be sure they will convince you they were something of a stud. And while that may be true, until you have proof, it’s all speculation. If they bring in photos of their army days, make a copy so you can prove that he once existed. If they gift you a military metal, politely decline because it’s his only legacy. If he tries to touch you, let him, these are his last moments in life and we all deserve a little feel.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.