Badass Women

It’s painfully obvious to anyone paying attention that history tends to be a little (a lot), well, skewed toward the male side of things. All the big decisions, we are taught, are made by men. Ditto for all the big innovations, and its always men that seem to be making the big differences in the course of nations and cultures. All bullshit, of course: women have been along for the ride every step of the way, insistently making their own difference, and the blatant interference of the patriarchy means that the women who fought hard enough to make a difference are unequivocally badass. Take Anita Brenner, for example, I doubt you’ve heard of her (I hadn’t). A Mexican-born, American Jew, disowned by pretty much all three adjectives in that label, finds herself up in the middle of the post-Mexican Revolution explosion of arts that included the likes of Diego Rivera, Clemente Orozco, and, of course, Frida Khalo. Brenner was convinced that art had a vital role to play in the establishment of Mexican identity post-revolution, and her steadfast efforts to nurture, connect, and promote Mexican art makes her one badass woman, and an absolute hero to me. Let’s face it: the world wouldn’t be worth half the nonsense we have to endure if it wasn’t for badass women like Anita Brenner.

Which makes me wonder: what other badass women am I totally unaware of? Not just Marie Curie or Hillary Clinton, who’s fame matches their accomplishments. Who do you feel hasn’t been recognized? Enlighten me in the comments! Let’s stop talking about outspoken men of weak intellect and self-image issues and talk more about badass women. Demand more badass women in the history books!!!

The Vulnerability of Sensitivity

It seems that the most sensitive souls are able to find the most beautiful things about the world, but that sensitivity is a tremendous vulnerability that many great writers have been unable to live with. Breece D’J Pancake was one of them. This story of his life from The Millions is both a sad and beautiful reminder of the terrible price of open eyes and an open heart. I can assure you, Pancake’s only book, The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, pictured above, is worth a lifetime of re-readings.

Medicine, Magic, and Art

It’s a turn-around jump shot
it’s everybody jump start
it’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts
medicine is magical and magical is art
think of the Boy in the Bubble
and the baby with the baboon heart.

– Paul Simon, “The Boy in the Bubble” Graceland

Evidence

Can the cryptic, strange, and disparate contents of government agency photography archives be art? Of course they can! At least when assembled¬†by artists with the vision to think beyond the more conventional forms of art to realize that everything human beings create carries with it some kind of inherent artistic statement. The book that Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel assembled in the 1970’s, Evidence, did something like this:

All the wealth of information the photographs in Evidence provide, disrupted from their original context and placed into an intuitive visual essay about the ridiculousness of vanity and the pathetic loss of power, makes the pictures themselves essentially unknowable and inscrutable, and more strange and potent for it.

The article does a great job of explaining this. Check it out.

Is is any wonder that art is the only thing that makes any sense to me any more?

– via The Paris Review

The Work of Art

Check out this review of an exhibition centered around the enigmatic (and beautiful) work of secretive artist Waclaw Szpakowski, who produced these drawings in isolation through the turmoil of the first half of the twentieth century. Art, artist, history, idea, form: it’s the work of art, so this is worth a read. 

– via The Paris Review