THE VAGINA MUSEUM REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

The mission to create the Vagina Museum began two years ago, when its founder Florence Schechter stumbled upon the Icelandic Phallological Museum, dedicated to the penis, yet could see no equivalent for the vagina or vulva. It’s thanks to crowdfunding and support from Camden Council that the museum now stands amongst the market,  blending in discreetly with its surroundings, its doors wide open and welcoming. There is a fantastic shop to explore alongside the museum itself, where you will find vulva badges, cards, accessories and more. 

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WANT TO KNOW THE SOUL OF WALES? LISTEN TO HER MUSIC

by Jonathan Lee

The oldest known song in the British Isles dates back 1,400 years and it’s written in Welsh.

Pais Dinogad was sung in Rheged, a kingdom of Yr Hen Ogledd (the old North), in what is now modern day Cumbria and the Scottish Lowlands. The song is a simple lullaby, telling a baby of his father, Lord Dinogad, who is out hunting in a time long before Anglo-Saxons or even Gaels had arrived in this part of Britain.

It probably wouldn’t be described as an absolute banger if we’re completely honest (although this lyre-wielding, tattooed, metal-head gives it a real good go). It’s nonetheless incredible that it’s still being sung at all today, and that its lyrics are broadly comprehensible to modern Welsh speakers.Continue Reading

WE ALL NEED A JUNGLIST’S UTOPIA

by Alex Day

Jungle, for those that don’t know, is a music genre that started in the early 1990s. It’s a combination of reggae and breakbeats – fast, moody and disorientating. This sound has, traditionally, been played in warehouses to pleasure-seeking ravers resistant to authority. 

By 1996, a few years after its inception, the sound evolved, and the era of ‘jungle’ came to a close. Commercialised, disfigured by modern production techniques and stamped out by the 1994 Criminal Justice Act; drum and bass (a faster and more polished version of jungle) took its place. 

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THE REVIVAL OF ’90S ASIAN UNDERGROUND CLUB SCENE: DJ ISURU ON “MISHTI DANCE”

by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

The alternative British Asian pop genre, Asian Underground, held a significant place back in the early-mid ‘90s as a uniquely transgressive genre combining Indian classical instrumentation, jazz, the contemporary sounds of dub, drum ‘n’ bass and jungle, interspersed with crooning Bollywood-style vocals. The genre blew up and enjoyed mainstream popularity in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, exerting significant influence on Western hip hop, R&B and urban music at the time. DJ Isuru Perera, better known simply as DJ Isuru, is one of the leading figures in today’s Asian Underground revival, having collaborated with a range of DJs and performers aspiring to reintroduce this strand of ‘90s Dance music to a younger generation. He is also a regular presenter on SOAS radio, where he hosts various (mainly British Asian) musicians from different eras, playing their music with accompanying track-by-track analysis. 

I caught up with Isuru to discuss Asian Underground history and his latest initiative, ‘Mishti Dance’, a series of evening events held in East London. Isuru neatly articulates its ethos as ‘a return to the experimentation of the Asian Underground in the face of commercial clubbing’. The format of Mishti Dance comprises a community-based arts and performance space featuring both poets and DJs, in a radical defiance of the rigid, distinct cultural categorisation of arts events as either high arts- or club music-based.

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SIHLABELELA REVIEW

by Alex Day

An exciting commission, held at St Peter Hungate, features a sound installation responding to the history of the church and what these spaces mean in our secular times.

St. Peter Hungate, like many churches in Norwich, no longer conducts services. It is occupied by Hungate Medieval Art, who exhibit stain glass windows and icons, to a more secular public. It’s both a religious site and a heritage site. Throughout this year, a project called Heriligion has commissioned five artists to reflect on the history of this space.

From 19th July to the 25th August, Mira Calix presented ’Sihlabelela’, a sound installation. 12 tape machines (Sony cassette-corder TCM –939), suspended on plinths, play discordant, low quality sound – a collage of echoes. The recorded voices sing ‘we sing together’, over and over, like a ghostly choir. The tapes evoke the crowds that once sang here.

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BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, YESTERDAY, AND BRITISH SOUTH ASIAN REPRESENTATION IN CINEMA

by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

Racial diversity in Western cinema has been particularly contentious since the Oscars scandal of 2016, when not one actor of colour was nominated for an award. But this was especially shocking falling in the midst of a marked increase in diversity, illustrated recently by two major hit films of this summer: Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light and Danny Boyle’s Yesterday. By now, critics have noted the similarities between the two films: British South Asian male protagonists, small-town lives, fanaticism around sensational twentieth-century Western musicians. However, these comparisons have obscured fundamental differences, not only in genre, but also in their approaches to South Asian identity.

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EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019 – PART 2

by Carmina Masoliver

trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault, mentions of transphobia

My second week at Edinburgh Fringe Festival offered a selection of shows more overtly dealing with Feminist themes. This selection ranged from the role that gender has to play in our experience of the dating world in the digital age, an exploration of the ‘pretty privilege’ set against trans experiences, to an examination of celebrities as female role models.

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