Description: A raised fist in the foreground is chained in a wrist shackle with the image of Israeli flag superimposed over the shackle bracelet. Two raised fist holding Palestinian resistance scarf (with black-and-white keffiyeh pattern and Palestine flag on white fabric) on either side of the chained wrist are breaking the chains of shackles. In the background, two more raised fists are breaking the chains attached to the shackled fist in foreground. The bracelet of the wrist shackle begin to break. Release all Palestinian Political Prisoners text is written on top part of the image. The word, Palestine, has image of the Palestinian flag superimposed over it.
Foreground, left: a woman holding a sickle in one hand and a large red flag in the other, and wearing a green scarf over a yellow khadi; behind her, a man in a light orange khadi, a light blue turban, a beard, and raising his fist; in front of her are three ears of corn growing out of green stalks.
Background, center to right: two red farming tractors drawn as if moving up a slight incline, towards the right; one is partially behind the two human figures, and bears a small red flag; the other is fully visible, and bears a small green flag.
Above the two tractors is the text: Unite against corporate slavery of farmers.
Last week, as I walked past my housemate’s room, I overheard her in an online meeting with her dissertation supervisor. ‘My uncle’s a lecturer in the same topic,’ she said, ‘so he can help me with that.’ At the time, I marvelled at how convenient that must be. But then, I started to think about how frequently I see this: middle class students aided by family or family friends in their studies, often receiving a great deal of support and extra resources. Are there any instances, I wondered, where I as a working class student have benefitted educationally from family connections?
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.
‘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.
This is the second instalment of the Interviews with NYC Artists series. Part 1 is available here.
Later on that cold December day, after my meeting with Sally, I battle my way through the New York snow to meet the artist Cindy Ruskin in her apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The apartment is filled with art supplies, paintings and other works, including a renovated garbage can laden with small models and storytelling sketches.
The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.