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Restricted Frequency #191
Search and Purge
OF COURSE, BLUE BRA LADY, 2014 - Aerosol over 2-color screenprint on paper.
1. Search & Purge
Tech bros, they ruin everything. I swear the number of tiny overpriced studio apartments and one bedrooms have proliferated in the past decade than any time before. It’s gotten to the point where anything else is a complete anomaly. Unless it’s for sale, that’s different. Because the target in that case is typically families. Rentals favor laptop warriors and their terrible lifestyles. It might’ve suited me just fine were I focused entirely on illustration, writing, and/or comix-making, but painting and print-making require space. Without which you simply cannot produce. To put it in very crass terms, every product requires a factory with a particular set of specifications that allow for the production of that particular product. And the “factory” necessary for painting is, quite simply, an open space, which you’d be surprised how incredibly hard to come by it is.
They’re a bit easier to find in Houston the further you move away from the city center, given the city’s industrial/petrochemical roots and all, but with my long-established vow to abstain from driving very much in place (13 years now, woohoo!), such a move would certainly disrupt my entire mode of being, which relies on all my needs existing within a 15-minute cycling radius, at most.
I’ve actually found this to be very easily doable in most big cities I’ve been to around the world, but really very challenging in pretty much every American city outside NYC.
With this hunt occupying much time as well as mental capacity, it’s put me in the mind of going through my archives and making something of a mental catalog of all the things I’d have to move (and thus having a better idea of a space suitable to receive it all). One of my surprising discoveries was a personal artist proof OF COURSE, BLUE BRA LADY, a piece I created in an edition of 30 back in 2014, based on artwork originally created in 2013 in honor of Cairo’s famed “Blue Bra Lady.”
If you don’t know the story, well TRIGGER WARNING! Towards the end of 2011, after Egyptians had successfully removed dictator Hosni Mubarak from office earlier in the year, things didn’t seem to be going as hoped. The military took over allegedly to oversee Egypt’s transition to a true and transparent democracy, during which a number of key maneuvers were carried out specifically for the purpose of cultivating social conflict (along with a few other things I’m not going to get into). But, basically this all resulted in mass anti-military protests towards the end of the year, one such protest where a video was captured of military police beating the shit out of a female protestor, her blue bra exposed in the process. The woman’s identity remained anonymous, but the blue bra quickly became a symbol of defiance.
Fast forward a couple years later as the military began to take political control of the country in earnest—much to the glee and support of the general populace (long story)—I sought to create a series of images that might contradict the then dominant narrative that “the military protected the revolution.” I began juxtaposing that statement against visual evidence of this so-called protection, as is the case with the “blue bra lady” pictured above.
Aside from disseminating the artwork via social media, it also appeared in the New York Times and made it into a number of major collecting institutions such as the New York Public Library and the Met. This is important, because it helps preserve a narrative that is in direct contradiction to the dominant narrative that has overtaken Egypt right now. It may not change anything today (something that took me a really long time to come to terms with actually), but someday in a few decades from now, someone will be looking at this piece on a museum wall and be able to understand exactly what once upon a time took place along the banks of the Nile. And that is important enough.
All 30 pieces have long ago sold out, but I still have my artist proof. As you can see in the picture above, it’s pretty dented, but still a sight to behold.
2. The Free People’s Village
Previously referred to as PROJECT KIM in this newsletter, but given that the beans have been spilled by Sim Kern rather publicly, I s’pose I can speak of it more freely now. THE FREE PEOPLE’S VILLAGE is novel by Sim Kern forthcoming from Levine Querido. It’s hot and beautiful queer anarcho-speculative fiction that hits on the zeitgeist in a way that comes only once in a generation. Not at all lost on me, I may have gone all the way out on the cover(s) for this awesome and important work. The sort of plural I imply in saying “cover(s)” is because the project from my end entails dust-jacket, coverwrap, and endpapers. The results are so off the hook that they’re surprising even to me, which if you’re a maker of anything at all is the best kind of feeling.
Aside from being a fantastic writer, Sim is also a badass zinester who I had the opportunity of meeting in person very briefly at Zine Fest Houston where they were tabling a couple years back. I’d just swung through for what may have amounted to no more than 20 minutes to scoop up a few zines and whatever new weird thing I might find (it’s important to keep your eyes on what comes out from the underground/periphery, kids). And there Sim was, with a few unassuming but very awesome zines on offer. It wasn’t long before I realized that Sim and I very much spoke the same language.
Cover reveal forthcoming, in due time.
3. NYC Soon
I am due to be in NYC on March 8 for a thing that is not public. May not be in town for more than 48 hours, but let me know if there’s anything happening around then that I may want to put on my radar?
Back to work (and more archive digging),