Art, Activism, Success and Aging

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Anyone with the drive, focus, energy and passion to make it in New York, deserves kudos. If they keep a sense of of morality, self and spirit intact, all the more power to them.

This is a driven city, and when they say it never sleeps it is partially because there is no time to rest if you want to get things done.

Yesterday was my usual art gallery/museum day (more on that in another blog) though I started with a bit of out the window ‘entertainment’ whilst having breakfast, as three large policemen and two police vans surrounded a woman in her car for an hour or so. When that weirdness finished a large man in a huge black car, drove by taking photographs of me smoking on the balcony before conducting a conversation with me, still on said balcony, (there was no way that I was letting him in). He said that he was from a mortgage company checking occupancy on the house I was staying in. Airbnb provides yet another interesting accommodation experience.

Anyway I closed my day with a visit to Williamsburg Music Hall to see Psychic TV’s Alienist Record Release show, which also included performances by Lydia Lunch and RETROVIRUS and Forma.

I staggered out of the theatre at two in the morning, had a magical mystery subway adventure for an hour or so until I discovered the trains weren’t running to Newark. Five in the morning saw me finally arriving home in a dodgy black cab held together with jump leads, driven by a obese man in a djellaba, seemingly in the advanced stages of emphysema.

Okay digression aside. Lets talk about the concert.

Lydia Lunch and Gen. P. Orridge are both of a similar generation to myself; I grew up to their music. Lydia’s art was goth punk street fighting and strong feminism, ground in dirt and blood and spunk.

Gen. P Orridge was magic and art combined. Cutting edge, mind bending, magical subversion. Together with Modern Primitives, William Burroughs and a mash up of counter cultural expressions that ranged from cut ups to NLP, they were very much part of the radical self expression of the 80’s.

You see the 1980’s was considered to be a pre -Apocalyptical era. Everything was dark and crazy and we were protesting oppression through art…be it ‘zines, industrial music, tattoos piercings and body mods, creative political protest or new ways of presenting subversive imagery and art.

There are a lot of comparisons of that era to this. A feeling of being controlled, of rising right wing elements and an increasingly abusive power structure.

In my presentations I often pose the question, how do the younger generation react to what is happening in this world? How is it reflected in their art? The present generation’s tools are different than my era’s were, but in many ways we had more freedom to express ourselves.

We could drop out, live in squats, have habits, exist on subsistence level, and make art.

This really isn’t an option for a younger generation, especially in places such as London and New York, and if it does happen, it’s more difficult not to simply drop through the cracks and disappear.

This ramble is leading somewhere by the way!

I’m going to talk about a concert where two of my peers, now older and more conventionally established, were performing and how their art seems to have progressed in the face of success. Success of course being subjective. They’ve survived and make a living out of their art work, which in my mind is success.

The first band Forma, are a young American electronic band and were superb. A New Yorker I attended the concert with said this was more typical of the New York sound; electronic, high quality, dance.

Then Lydia Lunch and RetroVIRUS came on. She was magnificent. Using words, music, imagery and hard punches she knocked down the establishment on every level. Contemporary politics, gender issues, sexuality…it was all looked at, packaged into hard hitting art, then thrown at the audience who grabbed at it without really knowing what they were receiving I suspect.

She squatted at the side of the stage smoking a cigarette taken from her large red handbag which was sitting by the drum kit; heavy bosomed, dressed in black and completely magnificent.

Then onto Psychic TV. Gen P Orridge is the master of manipulating, subverting and reflecting modernity. From her work with Burroughs, Gysin, Tibetan Buddhism and TOPY her genre spans music, film, art and her own body and sexual and emotional expressions.

Okay she is now being exhibited in major galleries, and photographed for advertising campaigns for Marc Jacobs and I read somewhere that she was at a party recently with Donald Trump’s daughter…has age have diluted her?

A resounding NO! The light show which integrated dream machine like strobing, cut ups and subliminals was fantastic. The band were great and technically superb as well as being fun, subversive and politically outspoken , making particular reference to the North Dakota pipeline.

I think most artists would agree that art work changes with the focus and perception of the viewer and a savvy artist can use this to raise and change consciousness.

All of the performers at the Williamsburg Music Hall worked with this premise of manipulating the audiences consciousness. Forma did it for dance, and Lydia Lunch and Psychic TV did it for love, radical transformation and good old fashioned kick-arse art.

The tickets were cheap too, which is a subversion in itself.

 

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About charlottejane2002

Author of 'P is for Prostitution', 'The Bloody Sacrifice' and co-editor of 'A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead' which are all published by Mandrake of Oxford. Italian publisher Roberto Migliussi has recently released 'The Sky is a Gateway, Not a Ceiling', a book of Charlotte's collected essays printed alongside images of his own art work. Charlotte is also an artist who creates spiritually directed art works from road kill and found objects. She has had her written work printed in anthologies and various magazines and on line publications and has given presentations at many events and institutions including Edinburgh University and Brooklyn's 'Museum of Morbid Anatomy'. Her art work has been exhibited widely including at London's Chelsea Gallery and The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, and is soon to be shown in New York.
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One Response to Art, Activism, Success and Aging

  1. Ramble on. Led Zepplin did. I enjoyed this even if not a big fan of the eighties.:(

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