Kaucyila Brooke and Jen Smith at Commonwealth & Council
Kaucyila Brook “Tit for Twat: The Release” at Commonwealth & Council opening Saturday, November 6 from noon to 5 PM.
Brooke began “Tit for Twat” in 1993 in response to the then common whine, “If god had wanted there to be faggots he would have made Adam and Steve…” By re-casting the Site of Original Sin characters as “Madam” and “Eve” Brooke at once exposes the utter cluelessness of trailer trash society as to the binary (at least) nature of human gender and also provides those of us in the more enlightened culture (um, I sure hope I’m there…) with several photo-narratives that “deconstruct and question the privileging of universalized systems of knowledge over de-centered, changing narratives of difference.” Let’s hear it for de-centeredness.
Jen Smith of Full Moon Pickles (and wonderful peach jam, too!!!) has “Link Arms and Listen” opening at Commonwealth & Council on Saturday. Smith occupies the storied two week residency at C & C, and during her tenure she constructed a “banner of satin and linen that reads, WE MAKE THE RULES” and bridges Smith’s several practices. I know Smith from her wonderful pickles and I now understand her act of canning So Cal’s seasonal abundance and making use of human scale distribution systems to part of a growing… well if this were another time in history I’d say a “movement” but we’re not (and our culture’s in-place understanding of that term sort of stops further thinking) so I have to try harder. Hmm.
Over the last few years I’m noticing a number of cheerful diy projects that respond to a community or individual need. Most often these address both at once. As an example I’ll offer a few things Jen Smith may have been inspired by to make her business: her own economic need – the aforementioned abundance of LA’s fruit and vegetable gardens – a communal desire for high-quality goods which don’t entail traveling to or supporting large faceless (although often deceptively folksy) corporations – her position as an artist and the opportunities presented by weekly art events where friends and community could, on their usual visits to keep in touch with the art world, bring her their custom.
This is smart stuff. This is a woman and an artist taking a political stance in a powerful way: by living a valuable, considered life. I believe it’s true that we’re each an example by how we choose to live. The way we live is the most apparent thing about us, not the things we say or what we mean to do.
Smith, along with a number of other artists/thinkers/activists about whom I write (and an even larger number I even know) provide a beautiful counterpoint to much of the message we get from whoever it is that makes our culture. Given that today is voting day and the political tone is and the ideas are so dispiriting I’m really glad I can look to my friends. The leaders may be on top right now but the base under them is….. going cheerfully their own way. From here the future looks bright.
By the way – additional pertinent linkage: The Golden Bears from whom Jen borrowed words for the title of her show; The Boy Mechanic, Kaucyila Brooke’s site documenting lesbian bars in Los Angeles over history; Esther Phillips cover of Scott-Heron’s “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” because I can’t stop loving it; Our Bodies Our Blog article about Brooke’s project being censored by the Xxxxxxx Bienniel. (I choose not to further the publicity goals of this execrable curator and institution by giving the name. Publicity would seem to have been their goal. An anecdotal quote I’ve heard from one person who was present is, “If we have to use queer artists, women artists and artists of color (to pursue our political/publicity goals) then we will.” Screw that. Artists aren’t patsies and neither are audiences.)