Who is that ? answer at the bottom of the page

I was really tempted to start the blog with the title of the TV series Who do you think you are  , which recently featured Judge Rinder and his Jewish background. partly because of my own background ,which I will return to  later and partly because of the way the phrase was used in my childhood. A very English usage: Who do you think you are to undertake that –  ie what right have you ?  So this blog is more  :

How is that ?

What  is my identity … post Brexit ( oh yes I am afraid that IS relevant) See purple text  In a time of change for me – both familial and  artistically  (oh yes that is relevant too) and how does my companion Fudo fit in to this puzzle … My friend Susan (using her blog (The Belated Writer ) described her complex identity thus on working with family genealogy He was spared the more than discomfort (I would imagine) of having a possible relative who is gay, Jewish, left-wing and a practising Buddhist. My grandfather was Jewish,Now which is she ?  You may already be trying to work out the answer without being able to ask her. Or you might ask me the same question

I am certainly  not wholly Jewish even Jews think that –  as ones Jewish identity is carried through the maternal line. ( click the  blue Link to a Huffington Post article.) However Hitler thought me and my family were Jewish ‘enough‘ to be worth persecuting as Susan’s, and Nancy’s families. So how Jewish is enough to make it an identity ?  Especially now let’s get away from the Is it a race or religion argument ?

Am I LGBTQ ? or whatever non standard sexual behaviour is described as this month. I recently went to a rather good poetry workshop led by Edward/ Edina Day ( Actor and Performer) where it was £10 if you were straight and less if you were LGBTQ or anything else non binary .. I paid £10 because the workshop was worth it and did not feel this choice made a mockery or a statement of my identity but How non binary did you have to be to get a discount …  fancying it a little bit ? experimented once ? full genital contact but in the dark ? …

So am I left wing ? Once I belonged to the International Marxist Group and I have moved right since then but how far right ? Right enough to think

  • a universal income might be a good idea ,
  • that the Tory Government is killing people
  •  the pacifism I started my political journey with is still a good idea
  • but I don’t think J. Corbyn is the JC of the political firmament.

Am I a Buddhist because I am  a companion to the wonderful Red Fudo ? Although He is part of the Tibetan Buddhist Pantheon .Well no because although he fights ignorance. That’s what the bloodied sword is from.  I’ll continue to try and do fight ignorance with him however I can,  I do not try and do the wonderful spiritual discipline that Bhuddism   needs in daily life.

So perhaps unlike Susan, I am German. I have recently applied to have my citizenship restored from the German Government as I was stateless at birth. Although born in Welwyn Garden city. My family have no relatives left  in Germany  but have roots in Berlin, my brother and I have both worked and lived in Germany, my nephew studied there and most members of the immediate family speak some German. If I have a  German passport am I then German ? 

Or could I be English as I have lived here most of my life ?    ( see above)

  • So have you decided on my identity yet?
  • Is it your choice ?

Perhaps I am a Tribe of Susan

Here’s a picture Quiz : who is this person?  A) Local politician,  B) the Tattooed Toff  C) Zoe Perry ?

Answer YES !!!

zoe againZoe AfterZoebefore

Of course the answer is YES  be what you choose and  in my opinion  – be bold- be different identities at different times according to need or whim until the fascist ideology wins again. Then preserve your lovely skin, whatever colour ( including green, blue decorated or plain)  and flee with me and Fudo.

Here’s a poem.

 

Stateless

My mother chose this name perhaps for prettyness

more likely for the ancient links to Hazel

and the healing ascribed by cunning women.

Here’s the easy one usually hidden in initials,

A single clean European stem, Ann

A name that would not stumble in anyone’s mouth

You can flee with that, my father said.

You look for the roots in the last name

but there’s no clue, Hammond

chosen straight from the telephone book

avoiding the English ‘r’, hiding his accent

and keeping the ‘H’ on the silver forks

he brought with him.

Born stateless I had his name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Identity is neither fixed. complete or life long

 

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Getting the bigger picture

lara

Where is he , Red Fudo, no sign of him in this pic. – its not that I have abandoned him or he abandoned me. After all every piece of learning has its context… but this life class is my new context for a few weeks.( Once a week ) So he is hiding here tapping his feet , while the life model rests. This weeks’ model has a mobile which rings every fifteen minutes. He heaves himself into a robe, resting his stillness by moving among the easels examining the images we have made. He is very polite  and  moves  his bulk easily among us all.  I am relieved to find most of us students are using pencils and graphite sticks like me. As to how I compare as a visual artist … too early to say… my first effort  in  more than thirty years, below.

 

life2

section of my first attempt

Beforehand I wondered if I would last two hours concentrated  observation and mark making  but I take the same breaks as the model  and all is well. I think of this as a holiday in a manner of speaking. Away from the stresses of every day.

I now have a much better appreciation of Lucien Freud’s work. portraiture,  in particular the civil servant  model , the one in  ‘All too human ‘ exhibition mentioned in the last blog She is/was also very corpulent and they had, perhaps have, interesting bodies to draw. I think I can draw a body like that without judgement, having been pretty heavy myself.

Sonnet on my body

I miss my luscious body

buttocks spreading, cushioning my bones on a bench

breasts billowing over bra cups

the texture of a good marshmallow

now they are thin pour like a reluctant liquid

 my ankles are bony like a girls

thighs like soft slack tubes

rather than supportive columns

 a backside that could take a music hall slap

a seaside wobble

self image takes a long time to learn

this was not the body I wanted

wrinkled , meagre and slack

but generous, given over to pleasure

and up for just one more !

hh.2017

I wrote this after losing weight because of having diabetes, and I am grateful to be symptom free but see the cost above.. All the images of Fudo are thin and muscular, well I am not muscular, but having a body which no longer causes comment makes for a new learning context. This is the body which acts as  others first introduction to me. The assumptions made  by strangers about me are noticeably different ( less judgemental ? ) now I am thinner.

There are other places to discuss the disappearance  of middle and older women. https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/life/…/invisible-middleaged-women-are-fighting-back or google dissapearing women   So I will not do that here but needless to say it’s a real  lived experience and the purple hair mitigates some of the worst effect of that I find. Back to the weekly mark making and more on Fudo’s role.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All too human – not visited yet !

Leigh Bowery

An image from the current Tate exhibition ‘All too Human,

The current exhibition Tate Gallery in London which concentrates on the portrayal of humans in paint looks like a real treat for Fudo and I. But why ???

Why I am I not afraid to come out as a person who goes to posh art galleries, enjoys paintings… ( let alone a dancing alter ego of a Japanese Demon !)

  • I am not intimidated by the fact they cost millions and will never belong to me – the art market is a big con and you need to know that when you go to a gallery
  • As you get older you lose inhibitions about what people think of you – so I feel more secure in my choices
  • Art can feed the inner life  and memories – my grandfather collected pictures and knew London Artists in the later thirties so the Tate  exhibition has people he knew in it.
  • I am in a time of feeding my creativity so I allow myself a few galleries – most recently the Photographers Gallery  where I saw Undercover. (Click the link for more ) And Grayson Perry’s Album .drag1Treats both.

so I don’t feel guilty, or snobbish or that I should conceal my interest but continue as I have in this blog to bring you what I learned.

At the Photographers gallery I saw Undercover – a history of drag – so many lovely, intriguing images divided into categories jammed next to each other in small white rooms. small white frames.   sections such as

‘transformations,

prisoner of war camps,

looking like a man,

mock weddings  

 Focussing on women  presenting as men. Each one copiously illustrated. with photos from the last century (hence black and white) having a nostalgia tinted view  added to with a text which has a a slightly ‘This is was curious …. tone. There  was virtually no  colour and no links to the present state of drag and feminism.  It intrigued Fudo but provoked no dancing . Merely sadness  at the shame and confusion that permeated some photos but manifestly was not there in some others. The Gallery describe the exhibition thus.

 

Sébastien Lifshitz was born 1968 in Paris, France.  An avid collector of photographs Brought together, the photographs reflect a range of styles and attitudes from theatrical, defiant, shy, proud, subversive and understated; showing individuals and groups from different classes, professions, genders and nationalities, whose only commonality is that they dared to play with dress codes in front of a camera, even if unable to do so in public.

Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross-Dressers celebrates the collective inventiveness and liberation that the seemingly simple act of dressing differently provides. The exhibition offers a fascinating context for today’s Trans community and looks towards a world where personal choice is celebrated.

Emboldened by this I decided to attend a one off poetry workshop based on gender . At which I wrote, or rather drafted this poem. The stimulus by the leader was to identify that moment when we knew we were different and to give it some context.

See Me

Now I am old and my gender seems less visible

the identity and sexual encounters I treasured

are no longer open to me, the prejudice against age

rolls over me like early summer mist

When I kissed her, felt that sweet waist

the flesh against the scented leather belt

pressed her to me- I knew-

but the denial started at once , lasted most of my life

Now as the mist occludes me I shout into the folds

I am like this , more kisses, love this, like this

my denial is effected – no one hears me still.

 

 

Last tango of Brighton’s belle

This weeks dance is the tango Not the Argentine tango with all those flicking knees and exacting joint manipulations but the one where the couple move smoothly, extraordinary stuff, across the floor with legs and feet doing the tango

This is the last week of preparation, and the last but one  weekly blog. The next one will cover the opening, the private view . After that I shall wait to blog  till  Andi and I go to Brighton to return Marietta’s clothes to John ( her partner of many years)

Preparation 0

Yesterday we framed up the prints, I could feel Fudo tip tapping away – ready to start the dance as soon as the first one slid into place. His footsteps matched only by the  butterflies in my stomach. At last the prints were done and carefully wrapped in blankets for transport.

Preparation 1

In the mean time the  I am packing the emergency box for the gallery. It contains tea bags, fruit teas, milk, sugar, toilet roll, coffee pencils  So you can write in the comments book   and I can offer you a drink if you have time.

Preparation 2

Preparing the tailors dummies and dusting the garments we’ve chosen to display.

Preparation 3

We have been thinking about how to secure items  and display them safely  so they dont slip if visitors knock them … secrets of the fishing line .

Preparation 4

Negotiations with the delightful Amber Chin Own who will document the exhibition

Enough detail on the preparation… all the artistic decisions are made and there is not much to do now except wait for the time to hang the work… This is much more of an art than I imagined until I saw Nick Moore , then working with Studio Upstairs    demonstrating how to make each piece shine by contrast with its neighbours and using the colour balance in one piece to illuminate its fellows. I have been doing this on paper  and am ready now. See you soon I hope. exfloor

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okey dokey …

How to characterise this weeks dance? Its been very busy and both Andi and my blood pressure has been up and down. We have both been in out – in out and the exhibition has been shaken all about so this weeks dance must be the Hokey Cokey !!! Fudo has certainly held my hand tightly this week.

Firstly there were the original pictures taken by Luke Adams on his mobile phone some of which you have seen already, all to go IN the exhibition.

The printer said most did not have enough pixels so they had to go OUT. We had to re shoot a new set and choose new ones to go IN.

At this seasonAt this season

So I’ve put the right photo in taken the right photo out in out  – in out  swapped it all about, and with some help from Andi lunches, coffees and discussion we have put together some Jpegs showing the layout of the big pieces  for the exhibition.

Andi has also prepared final word documents  of the poems So I’ve put the right word in taken some commas  – out,  in out  – in out  swapped it all about between  documents  and at last we have the poems ready to combine with the images.

Lastly today hokey cokey  on down to the printers to choose the paper and the type face

This is Liberation serif

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG

This is Callisto MT

the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

 The next task is to arrange the images and poems in the order they will hang in the gallery  and this is an interesting task.

Interesting is always a good word in my view

and the, so called, Chinese curse of

May you live in interesting times

does not apply. to me.

 

Its is interesting because the poems and images read slightly differently when set against one another in a different order -in, out shake it all about.

exfloor

I’ve turned around. the ideas in my mind .. I really do hope you will enjoy finding Marietta  your own way through to Marietta…. WHOAAAA hokey Cokey !!!!  that’s what its all about.

flat

Home to the comfort zone exhausted … thanks Andi !!!

button up !!!

Fudo and I have been trying the cha cha cha  with the exhibition this week. A curious form of it where other dancers have joined me

Andi,  A photographer, A poet, A  student, A printer and

a  guilty conscience

not necessarily in that order, more later and names will be revealed. 

The cha cha cha needs a rock step  where the couple ease into the dance as well as  steps  which initiate the movement across the floor. It is this process where easing into working together – the rock step-   is an integral part of the preparation.

Andi and I have worked together for a while now so are used to the odd rhythms that this preparation for the exhibition has produced but  this  section of the dance was followed by a wave of decision making. We had to re-shoot a number of  the garments. And I need to give a big shout out and thanks to my friend Dave Brown who came over for the day. Dummies were used, clothes carefully eased into place, light and effects of folds and fabrics considered. pixels discussed and shots approved.  It was a very busy day – punctuated with tea and as the daylight levels dropped curry, The new photos lack the rosy cast of the originals and  will prove a better foil to the ghostly light and shadow show by Otherstory.com

This week , thanks to Pat Simmonds ,  fellow poet,  I met Claudia a fashion/ textiles student who was entranced by the collection of Marietta’s clothing and Marietta’s Wardrobe and has decided to take on the  some of the work I have done as a platform for her photographic project. In exchange she will make sure there is a documentary record of the exhibition.claudiaand this photo shows her taking notes on the original display held at the Easton Arts Trail with a pile of  framed poetry/ photo images at her feet.

Now to choose the final images from the selection and get them to the printer. Our contact is Toby Abbott … still haven’t invited him to the private view… there’s another job for today.

button2

Can you spot it ?   I think the mend is invisible – as this lovely item was eased over the dummy a button came off. Not a problem you would think – just sew it on… well yes BUT a this is a vintage piece =  its buttons. were originally sewn on with black pure cotton.  To maintain the integrity  of the piece and the dress makers work ,which I celebrated in the poem, I would need to source some pure black fifties cotton.  I sewed the button on with invisible nylon thread. So guilty conscience. … may the the dressmakers of the past  and Lucy Worsley forgive  me.

 

More next week…

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