SICK THREADS – ILLNESS AS AN AESTHETIC

By Vyvyan René

In Sanatorium, Abi Palmer likens illness to a ‘lack of access’ to the world. But could we view this feeling of being ostensibly unmoored from reality as merely a different manifestation of it? Ableism is a prerequisite for the doctrine of optimum productivity and consumption endorsed by capitalist ethos, rendering healthcare essentially meritocratic. For women, BAME people, marginalised genders, queer people and anyone lacking cultural capital, who consequently struggle to be taken seriously by medical professionals (an experience that Palmer vividly evokes), performative illness becomes a grim necessity.

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POP-UP GALLERY: MARIA LUISA AZZINI

by Carmina Masoliver

I recently moved to Forest Hill, and amongst the shops, pubs and restaurants, I found a pop-up gallery displaying the work of local artist Maria Luisa Azzini. Normally found in Greenwich Market, Azzini is originally from  Florence, Italy, though she has been based in London for nearly twenty years now. 

In the present times, the visual arts is just one of the many industries that needs support, with arguably very few industries not heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s possible to buy Azzini’s work from as little as £45 for a print (£55 framed), to a few hundred pounds for an original painting. Each print is unique as Azzini touches them up with small strokes of silver and gold.

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HEAVEN IS A PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTINE SLOAN STODDARD – REVIEW

by Ananya WilsonBhattacharya

‘I do not take photos/I give them/as I always give/in love’, the protagonist of Christine Sloan Stoddard’s poetry/photography collection Heaven is a Photograph declares, a characteristically bold admission of vulnerability. These lines, taken from the poem ‘Unrequited Pixels’, evoke an overarching theme of the collection: the emotional intensity of the protagonist’s relationship with photography. Charting the protagonist’s journey, from a childhood as the daughter of a photographer to becoming a photographer herself, Stoddard’s brief and beautiful collection explores the power of both photography and photographer – through a deft and deeply meta combination of verse and photography itself.

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DOES ANYONE ELSE HYPERSALIVATE?: QUEERING RABIES

by Vyvyan René

cw: mentions of ableism, homophobia

The creature is grinding its face against the glass door, the reptilian gape of its fangs no more than a few inches from the camera on the other side of it. Salivating, tongue fully extruded, its jaws open and close convulsively. 

After perhaps thirty seconds, the creature stops what it is doing, raises its head and looks directly into the lens. Its eyes, suffused with hate, are strangely vacant. In a sudden rush of aggression it claws at the door, which audibly rattles. This lasts only moments before it drops back to all fours and resumes its frenzied drooling and chewing. The video ends with a freeze frame of that moment of eye contact: that intense, fixated stare.

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LOVE, HONOUR AND FOREPLAY – LAUREN KAYE’S I’M ALL IN, FIVE YEARS ON

By Carmina Masoliver

August saw the five-year anniversary of Lauren Kaye’s ‘I’m All In’, a poetry collection described as a ‘seductive collection of romantic and sensual poems that speak on the inevitable episodes of love, sex and relationships’. The occasion was marked on social media – at a time where artists are forced to be more resourceful than ever when the stage is taken away. As Kaye outlines in the introduction, her poetry ‘is written much how I speak’, and it is best to have seen her live or see live videos so you can then hear her voice as you read coming through the pages.

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THE BARGING BUDDHI AND OTHER POEMS – SUNITA THIND – REVIEW

By Carmina Masoliver

Content warning: brief references to sexual assault

The Barging Buddhi and Other Poems takes us on a journey from human expectations that are created within a set culture, to more cosmic climbs, from which we are brought back to earth with the fragility of life, to then be connected to a wider sense of nature. Sunita Thind’s poetry is rich, sensual and visual. Although her numerous questions throughout the collection hint at self-doubt and uncertainty, she shows a strong sense of voice that is not easily contained, like the ‘pyrotechnical parrots’ she describes, how humans ‘clip their wings to capture the fury of their rainbow constellations / humans devouring them like black holes / sequestered in monster iron cages.’ The collection is strongest when assertive, using imperatives: ‘delete the tears’, ‘stain me’, maroon me.’

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BRAVE NEW WORLD IS (STILL) HERE

By Vyvyan René

CW: sexual assault, rape

David Wiener’s TV adaptation of Huxley’s classic dystopia launched on Sky One and Peacock on July 15th 2020.

Set in New London – in a society where class is enforced by genetic engineering and hypnopaedic indoctrination, the use of the euphoric drug soma is universal, public orgies are wholesome fun and ‘mother’ is a swear word – Brave New World is a novel with many themes. One of them is misogyny and the mechanisms by which it is expressed and perpetuated. Consequently, the portrayal of the novel’s central female character, Lenina Crowne, and her relationship with John the Savage (the emotional core of the story) are huge contributing factors to the success or failure of any adaptation. Wiener faces the challenge of depicting a society he describes as ‘hugely problematic’ without condoning it, which raises questions about how the problematic aspects of the novel could, or even should be, adapted.

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NORFOLK LOVES SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE, BUT WHERE’S THE COMMITMENT TO ANTI-RACISM?

sound system coghlan

by Lisa Insansa Woods

Norfolk’s music, gig and free party scene is a vibrant stream of colour, with bright red, gold and green gushes moving through the illuminous pool. Reggae, dub, jungle, drum n bass and techno can easily be discovered blaring from a stack of speakers in a venue or elusive field in and around Norwich. Norfolk loves sound system culture, but many of those same people who dance to this music are quiet in the struggle against racism.

“Babylon A Fall,” they shout. But what does that actually mean? Continue Reading

‘JUST A NOTHING’: ASEXUAL ERASURE IN ADAPTATIONS OF THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY

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By Vyvyan René

Few novels with openly queer protagonists are as enduringly loved, or have achieved such acclaim, as Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley.

Tom Ripley is a charming, Machiavellian antihero whose talents include ‘forging signatures… and impersonating practically anybody’, and whose unreciprocated worship of Dickie Greenleaf, the prodigal son of a New York shipping tycoon, leads him to kill Dickie and assume his identity. He is also asexual, yet not a single adaptation of Highsmith’s work has addressed this. With a new adaptation in the works, in the form of a Showtime drama directed by Steven Zaillan and starring Andrew Scott, it’s important to acknowledge and reflect on the ways in which this aspect of Ripley’s character has been erased.

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REWRITING THE DICTIONARY – PROFESSIONAL VS SEMI-PROFESSIONAL IN THE ARTS

poetry takeaway yaffa phillips

by Carmina Masoliver

When I was asked by a friend to think about the difference between being a professional artist and a semi-professional artist with regards to my own practice as a writer and a poet, the distinction between the two seemed – to quote author Daniel Piper – arbitrary and unnecessary. The word semi-professional is not something that has been in my vocabulary, because my ideas of professionalism go beyond the dictionary definition of these two words.

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