Dirty Girls: 1996 Teen Riot Grrrls YouTube Sensation

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In high school, Michael Lucid was an artsy, friendly kid who floated around from one cam­pus clique to the next. “I was more approach­able and kids felt com­fort­able talk­ing to me,” he says of his time at Santa Monica’s Cross­roads School, where he grad­u­ated in 1996.

Because Lucid was like­able and trust­wor­thy, his teenage peers granted him the kind of insider access into their lives that most film­mak­ers only dream about cap­tur­ing on film. Film­mak­ers like Larry Clark (Kids, Was­sup Rock­ers), Cather­ine Hard­wicke (Lords of Dog­town, Thir­teen) and Pene­lope Spheeris (Decline of West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion, Sub­ur­bia) all launched their careers by mak­ing films that depicted the harsh real­i­ties of Amer­i­can teenagers’ lives, but Lucid had an advan­tage over all of these film­mak­ers: he was him­self a high schooler when he shot his gritty, painfully inti­mate doc­u­men­tary Dirty Girls, which has now become an instant cult sen­sa­tion ever since it was uploaded to Youtube this month.

It was ini­tially shot by a 17-year-old dur­ing the course of just two school days. Maybe you’ve seen the still frame of two messy-haired young girls being inter­viewed in a high school audi­to­rium — an image that’s become ubiq­ui­tous after hav­ing been reblogged thou­sands of times by fans on Tumblr.

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Lucid’s short doc­u­men­tary starts out with the fol­low­ing text: “In Spring of 1996, my senior year of high school, I doc­u­mented a group of 8th grade girls who were noto­ri­ous for their crass behav­ior and allegedly bad hygiene.…” The eighth grade girls he’s refer­ring to are the film’s epony­mous dirty girls, a clique of fem­i­nist riot grrrls led by sis­ters Amber and Harper, who became cam­pus leg­ends when they put on a punk rock show at the school’s beginning-of-year “alley party” and smeared lip­stick all over their faces. Lucid remem­bers the per­for­mance being provoca­tive and angry, so much so that it sparked an ongo­ing flurry of gos­sip — and the coin­ing of the term “dirty girls” — that con­tin­ued through­out the school year of ’96.

That Dirty Girls is Lucid’s biggest Inter­net suc­cess is ironic, con­sid­er­ing his day job writ­ing, per­form­ing and upload­ing web videos for World of Won­der, the pro­duc­tion com­pany behind shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and fea­tures like The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Party Mon­ster. And, in an oddly fit­ting twist of fate, he’s returned to inter­view­ing and report­ing — but through his drag per­sona, Dami­ana Gar­cia, whom he refers to as “an intre­pid lady reporter,” appear­ing in World of Won­der videos online.


Federico Fellini’s Juliet Of The Spirits

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Juliet of the Spir­its was directed and co-written by Fed­erico Fellini in 1965, and is one of the wildly imag­i­na­tive visual nar­ra­tives that solid­i­fied his rep­u­ta­tion as a world-class pio­neer­ing film direc­tor.  It stars Giuli­etta Masina as  a betrayed wife whose inabil­ity to come to terms with real­ity leads her along a hal­lu­ci­na­tory jour­ney of self-discovery. Haunted by, among other things, the infi­delity of her hus­band, a prob­lem that is solved with insights from, for starters, a friendly pros­ti­tute. Masina was Fellini’s wife, mak­ing her naked­ness here – emo­tion­ally, that is – all the more intimate.

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Cin­e­matog­ra­pher Gianni di Venanzo’s mas­ter­ful use of Tech­ni­color trans­forms Juliet of the Spir­its, Fellini’s first color fea­ture, into a kalei­do­scope of dreams, spir­its, and memories.

The very rich score by Nino Rota, com­poser of many of Fellini’s films has done an exquis­ite job here. The uptempo, 60’s jazzy music has an ethe­real feel as angelic sopra­nos are singing in the back­ground. Nino Rota has a cer­tain trade­mark style which is his com­po­si­tions uti­lize very heavy eclec­tic organ sounds along­side the con­ven­tional instru­ments. Alot of his music sounds weird and mys­te­ri­ous which is com­pli­men­tary to the films scenes. The cir­cus style music is a sta­ple in many of Fellini’s films and here it is used when Juliet is flash­back­ing to her child­hood when they went to the cir­cus and the grand­fa­ther takes a lik­ing to Fanny, a beau­ti­ful cir­cus enter­tainer. There’s music to sym­bol­ize Juliet’s com­ing to terms with her­self; rip­ping the bondages in a child­hood play where she was the mar­tyred saint– as if she was finally free­ing her soul and real­iz­ing she doesn’t have to be intim­i­dated by her mother ever again.

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Simply Divine Cut-Out Doll Book


Finding Vivian Maier

The story of this nanny who has now wowed the world with her pho­tog­ra­phy, and who inci­den­tally recorded some of the most inter­est­ing mar­vels and pecu­liar­i­ties of Urban Amer­ica in the sec­ond half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury is seem­ingly beyond belief.

An Amer­i­can of French and Austro-Hungarian extrac­tion, Vivian bounced between Europe and the United States before com­ing back to New York City in 1951.

Hav­ing picked up pho­tog­ra­phy just two years ear­lier, she would comb the streets of the Big Apple refin­ing her artis­tic craft. By 1956 Vivian left the East Coast for Chicago, where she’d spend most of the rest of her life work­ing as a caregiver.

In her leisure Vivian would shoot pho­tos that she zeal­ously hid from the eyes of oth­ers. Tak­ing snap­shots into the late 1990′s, Maier would leave behind a body of work com­pris­ing over 100,000 negatives.

Addi­tion­ally Vivian’s pas­sion for doc­u­ment­ing extended to a series of home­made doc­u­men­tary films and audio recordings.

Inter­est­ing bits of Amer­i­cana, the demo­li­tion of his­toric land­marks for new devel­op­ment, the unseen lives of eth­nics and the des­ti­tute, as well as some of Chicago’s most cher­ished sites were all metic­u­lously cat­a­logued by Vivian Maier.

A free spirit but also a proud soul, Vivian became poor and was ulti­mately saved by three of the chil­dren she had nan­nied ear­lier in her life.

Fondly remem­ber­ing Maier as a sec­ond mother, they pooled together to pay for an apart­ment and took the best of care for her.

Unbe­knownst to them, one of Vivian’s stor­age lock­ers was auc­tioned off due to delin­quent pay­ments. In those stor­age lock­ers lay the mas­sive hoard of neg­a­tives Maier secretly stashed through­out her lifetime.

Maier’s mas­sive body of work would come to light when in 2007 her work was dis­cov­ered at a local thrift auc­tion house on Chicago’s North­west Side.

From there, it would even­tu­ally impact the world over and change the life of the man who cham­pi­oned her work and brought it to the pub­lic eye, John Mal­oof. Cur­rently, Vivian Maier’s body of work is being archived and cat­a­loged for the enjoy­ment of oth­ers and for future generations.

John Mal­oof is at the core of this project after recon­struct­ing most of the archive, hav­ing been pre­vi­ously dis­persed to the var­i­ous buy­ers attend­ing that auction.

Now, with roughly 90% of her archive recon­structed, Vivian’s work is part of a renais­sance in inter­est in the art of Street Photography.


Delia Derbyshire — Sculptress of Sound

Delia Der­byshire was born in Coven­try, Eng­land, in 1937. Edu­cated at Coven­try Gram­mar School and Gir­ton Col­lege, Cam­bridge, where she was awarded a degree in math­e­mat­ics and music.

In 1959, on approach­ing Decca records, Delia was told that the com­pany DID NOT employ women in their record­ing stu­dios, so she went to work for the UN in Geneva before return­ing to Lon­don to work for music pub­lish­ers Boosey & Hawkes.

In 1960 Delia joined the BBC as a trainee stu­dio man­ager. She excelled in this field, but when it became appar­ent that the fledg­ling Radio­phonic Work­shop was under the same oper­a­tional umbrella, she asked for an attach­ment there — an unheard of request, but one which was, nonetheless,granted. Delia remained ‘tem­porar­ily attached’ for years, reg­u­larly deputis­ing for the Head, and influ­enc­ing many of her trainee colleagues.

To begin with Delia thought she had found her own pri­vate par­adise where she could com­bine her inter­ests in the the­ory and per­cep­tion of sound; modes and tun­ings, and the com­mu­ni­ca­tion of moods using purely elec­tronic sources. Within a mat­ter of months she had cre­ated her record­ing of Ron Grainer’s Doc­tor Who theme, one of the most famous and instantly recog­nis­able TV themes ever. On first hear­ing it Grainer was tick­led pink: “Did I really write this?” he asked. “Most of it,” replied Derbyshire.

Thus began what is still referred to as the Golden Age of the Radio­phonic Work­shop. Ini­tially set up as a ser­vice depart­ment for Radio Drama, it had always been run by some­one with a drama back­ground. Der­byshire was the first per­son there with any higher music qual­i­fi­ca­tions, but as she wasn’t sup­posed to be doing music, much of her early work remained anony­mous under the umbrella credit ‘spe­cial sound by BBC Radio­phonic Workshop’.

On being told at the Work­shop that her music was ‘too las­civ­i­ous for 11 year olds’ and ‘too sophis­ti­cated for the BBC2 audi­ence’, Delia found other fields where the direc­tors were less inhib­ited — film, the­atre, ‘hap­pen­ings’ and orig­i­nal elec­tronic music events, as well as pop music and avant garde psy­che­delia. To do this she encour­aged the estab­lish­ment of Unit Delta Plus, Kalei­dophon and Elec­trophon, pri­vate elec­tronic music stu­dios where she worked with Peter Zinovi­eff [com­poser and inven­tor], David Vorhaus and Brian Hodgson.

Delia’s works from the 60s and 70s con­tinue to be used on radio and TV some 30 years later, and her music has given her leg­endary sta­tus with releases in Swe­den and Japan. She is also con­stantly men­tioned, cred­ited and cov­ered by bands from Add n to (x) and Sonic Boom to Aphex Twin and The Chem­i­cal Broth­ers.


Seven Easy Pieces by Marina Abramović

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For Seven Easy Pieces Marina Abramovic reen­acted five sem­i­nal per­for­mance works by her peers, dat­ing from the 1960’s and 70’s, and two of her own, inter­pret­ing them as one would a musi­cal score. The project con­fronted the fact that lit­tle doc­u­men­ta­tion exists from this crit­i­cal early period and one often has to rely upon tes­ti­mony from wit­nesses or pho­tographs that show only por­tions of any given performance.

The seven works were per­formed for seven hours each, over the course of seven con­sec­u­tive days, Novem­ber 9 –15, 2005 at the Guggen­heim Museum, in New York City. Seven Easy Pieces exam­ines the pos­si­bil­i­ties of rep­re­sent­ing and pre­serv­ing an art form that is, by nature, ephemeral.

About the pub­lic … I do not want the pub­lic to feel that they are spend­ing time with the per­for­mances, I sim­ply want them to for­get about time.” Marina Abramovic, 2005

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Filmmaker’s Orig­i­nal State­ment writ­ten in Feb­ru­ary 2006:

The film of Seven Easy Pieces by Marina Abramovic is about the per­form­ing body and how it affects vis­cer­ally the peo­ple who con­fronts it, looks at it and par­tic­i­pates in the tran­scen­den­tal expe­ri­ence that is its pri­mary affect. From an art event to a social phe­nom­e­non, the seven per­for­mances became the talk of the town because it cre­ated among the vis­i­tors a sense of sub­li­ma­tion like prayer. The film attempts to reveal the mech­a­nisms of this tran­scen­den­tal expe­ri­ence by just show­ing the performer’s body liv­ing the events inscribed in each pieces with details that out­line the body fragility, ver­sa­til­ity, tenac­ity and unlim­ited endurance.

The fas­ci­na­tion comes from the rev­e­la­tion of the phys­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of Marina Abramovic”s exposed body due to the rig­or­ous dis­ci­pline of being there on dis­play each day for seven hours with­out any restric­tive bound­aries. The relent­less progress of time is revealed each day by the acoustic of the build­ing with its waves of crowd that roll like an ocean and mar­vel at the performer’s stead­fast­ness with respect­ful silence. That the performer’s required dis­ci­pline had to be so dif­fer­ent from one piece to the next is one of the mys­ter­ies. How the atten­tive audi­ence feed into the art and Marina’s aes­thet­ics is what is explored. It is as if a monas­tic urge attracted the mys­tic among us view­ers that were there to par­tic­i­pate. And the film, by focus­ing on Marina’s minute changes and strains along the long seven hours of each piece, explores in a sys­tem­atic way a body with­out limit and increases the aware­ness of how par­tic­i­pa­tory body art is.

The film will be 90 min­utes long and fol­lows the lin­ear­ity inscribed in the week event, from body pres­sure, audi­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion and con­fronta­tion in the first three pieces to the cer­e­mo­nial in the last four pieces as mapped out by Marina Abramovic’. It is only after the fact that the film viewer will real­ize how much the project con­cept enlight­ens us on aes­thet­ics that priv­i­leged phys­i­cal expe­ri­ence over rea­son, process over iconog­ra­phy and tes­ti­fies to the power of audi­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion over pas­sive spectatorship.


Mafalda

A kid grow­ing up in a Span­ish speak­ing coun­try in the 1970s and 80s was likely exposed to Mafalda, the comic cre­ation of Argen­tin­ian Joaquín Sal­vador Lavado (also known as ‘Quino’).

Mafalda is a pre­co­cious, out­spo­ken six-year old who wor­ries about world peace and hates soup. She is sur­rounded by her quirky friends (Felipe, a smart kid who hates home­work and tor­tures him­self for his fail­ings; Mano­lito, a cap­i­tal­ist kid always with a scheme; Susanita, a friv­o­lous antifem­i­nist; Miguelito, a dreamer and philoso­pher, and Lib­er­tad, a tiny kid named “Free­dom”) and fam­ily (her father who’s bent on destroy­ing the ants that eat his prized plants; Guille, her baby brother, fan of Brid­gett Bar­dot; and her mother, a housewife).

Mafalda was cho­sen in 1976 by UNICEF to be a spokesper­son for the Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child. The strip, how­ever, never received a wide audi­ence in the English-speaking world, per­haps because, as Quino put it, the strip was ‘too Latin Amer­i­can’. While Mafalda con­cen­trated on children’s views of the world, his later comics fea­tured char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally cyn­i­cal humour about ordi­nary peo­ple, often pok­ing fun at real-life sit­u­a­tions and using worldess visual com­edy to per­fec­tion. Among his admir­ers was Charles Schulz, the cre­ator of Peanuts: ‘The kind of ideas that he works with are some of the most dif­fi­cult, and I am amazed at their vari­ety and depth. Also, he knows how to draw, and draw in a funny way. I think he is a giant.’

Joaquin Sal­vador Lavado, known as ‘Quino’, son of Andalu­sian Span­ish immi­grants, is born in the city of Men­doza (Argentina) on July 17. How­ever, his birth date is incor­rectly reg­is­tered in the offi­cial records as August 17. From the time he was born, he was called Quino in order to dis­tin­guish him from his uncle Joaquín Tejón, a painter and com­mer­cial artist, with whom Quino dis­cov­ered his own life voca­tion at the age of three.

Mafalda will be  50 in 2014. Mafalda was first pub­lished on Sep­tem­ber 29th, 1964 in Primera Plana Mag­a­zine. For Quino, that is the day Mafalda was born as a strip char­ac­ter. Accord­ing to Quino’s affi­cial web page, any other birth­day cal­cu­la­tion is wrong. Watch below a few short exam­ples of the the ani­mated series.


Florence Foster Jenkins, The Glory(?!?!) of the Human Voice

I think we have made it clear here at “The Remains” in pre­vi­ous arti­cles how we love out­casts, the aes­thetic of fail­ure, sub­cul­tures, etc., and part of it can be sum­ma­rized in a sen­tence by Mal­colm McLaren that we used on a pre­vi­ous arti­cle and from which I try to con­stantly draw inspiration:

Authen­tic­ity believes in the messy process of cre­ativ­ity. It’s unpop­u­lar and out of fash­ion. It wor­ships fail­ure, regard­ing it as a roman­tic and noble pur­suit — bet­ter to be a flam­boy­ant fail­ure than any kind of benign success.”

Flo­rence Fos­ter Jenk­ins tal­ent or lack of it, exem­pli­fies many of these ideals. Every day I strive to be like her. Well per­haps strive is much of a strong word if fail­ure is the aim, but you get the point.

Decades before Amer­i­can Idol, a rev­o­lu­tion­ary artist proved that ter­ri­ble singing can be passed off as great enter­tain­ment. She had enthu­si­asm, and she had enough money to finance her oper­atic career. What she didn’t have was talent.

For 30 years, Manhattan’s upper crust paid good money to hear this hefty woman mur­der the melodies. Her name was Flo­rence Fos­ter Jenk­ins: the dire diva of din, the cat­er­waul­ing count­ess of cacoph­ony. At pri­vate recitals, she usu­ally donned her Angel of Inspi­ra­tion cos­tume, a tulle gown and a tin­sel tiara but­tressed with a pair of feath­ered wings that made her resem­ble an over­grown turkey. To the accom­pa­ni­ment of a belea­guered pianist who rejoiced in the name Cosme McMoon, she would launch into her open­ing num­ber, usu­ally the Queen of the Night’s aria from Mozart’s “Magic Flute.” The audi­ence got caught full-blast with a sound like alley cats pitch­ing whoopee.

Believe it or not, Flo­rence man­aged, despite being famously awful, to sell out an entire con­cert at Carnegie Hall. She had many admir­ers (among them Enrico Caruso). This has to be heard to be believed. As a par­tic­u­lar point of inter­est, after she recorded this song, she told the sound engi­neer that no sec­ond try was needed as it was perfect.

Flo­rence Fos­ter Jenk­ins “A World of Her Own” is a doc­u­men­tary, writ­ten, pro­duced and nar­rated by Don­ald Collup, telling the com­plete and uncen­sored story of this cult fig­ure who enter­tained Man­hat­tan audi­ences for over three decades.
Until now, very lit­tle was known about her life, her wealth, her loves and her tragic end.

There is also a play about her life, named “Glo­ri­ous!” Flo­rence Fos­ter Jenk­ins was born in Penn­syl­va­nia in 1868 and left home because her father refused to allow her to ful­fil her ambi­tion to sing in pub­lic. Now, many might say that Pop Jenk­ins had it com­pletely right and the daugh­ter had it wrong, but those who we think are losers are often win­ners and vice-versa.


The Art of Narcissister

Nar­cis­sis­ter is the stage name of a female per­former, who was once a for­mer dancer with the Alvin Ailey Amer­i­can Dance The­ater troupe—or so the bio says; she also seems to pre­fer to stay under her cover name for rea­sons that become clear through the performance.

Since this tenure, Nar­cis­sis­ter, has been per­form­ing a series of what could be called neo-burlesque acts which have taken place mostly in clubs, but also recently in the con­text of per­for­mance spaces and art exhi­bi­tions. These pieces have ranged in the past from “reverse” short stripteases where a naked per­former pulls out an entire cos­tume hid­den within an over­sized afro-wig and gets dressed with it, to an exer­cise rou­tine fea­tur­ing a bicycle-weight machine hybrid out­fit­ted with mov­ing dil­dos and the like that caress the user to give new mean­ing to the term, “run­ners high”.

She never shows her face and prefers to keep any ref­er­ence to her­self firmly in the back­ground, mak­ing her acts even more eerie.

Nar­cis­sis­ter, tack­les the prob­lems of sim­ple voyeurism and its darker side of exploita­tion with her litany of stereo­types and related oppres­sions that all end in dis­re­pair. Yet, taken as a whole, these typ­i­cal fan­tasies point to a lack of inspi­ra­tion as each is ren­dered in at-hand taboos as if from a role-play menu sheet.

In my show Ass/Vag I embody a life-sized vagina who emerges from a large hand-made woman’s ass and pro­ceeds to plea­sure her­self’. One of Narcissister’s  skits sees her being dressed as a life-size Russ­ian doll. ‘It was inspired by a set of dolls my Dad brought me back from Rus­sia. I hide one of the dolls in my vagina and push it out stage. The first time I did it, I had sev­eral smaller dolls inside me attached to strings so I could pull them out like a tam­pon, but the string broke! Luck­ily I was per­form­ing with an accor­dion player, so he kept the music going as I fin­ished them out. It took quite a while. I was horrified!’


Martha Rosler: Bringing the War Home.

For a long time Martha Rosler was con­sid­ered to be an “under­ground artist”, as she pio­neered using dif­fer­ent media and com­bin­ing them.

Her work fre­quently con­trasts the domes­tic lives of women with inter­na­tional war, repres­sion and pol­i­tics, and pays close atten­tion to the mass media and archi­tec­tural structures.

Over the last 40 years she has com­mit­ted to an art that engages a pub­lic beyond the con­fines of the art world, Rosler inves­ti­gates how socioe­co­nomic real­i­ties and polit­i­cal ide­olo­gies dom­i­nate ordi­nary life. Rosler uses a vari­ety of medi­ums, but her most rec­og­niz­able medium is photo-collage and photo-text. She also works cre­ates video instal­la­tions and per­for­mance art.

We think of pho­tomon­tage works by the Ger­mans of the 1920s (John Heart­field and Han­nah Hoch) we also recall the Sit­u­a­tion­ists in France who, as part of their attack on the “spec­ta­cle” of media-capitalism, altered comic strips and advertisements.

In the 1960s she made pho­tomon­tages that protested the Viet­nam War and the objec­ti­fi­ca­tion of women. Dur­ing the 1970s she became known for her videos — some quite hilar­i­ous — that cri­tiqued female social roles.

She began mak­ing polit­i­cal pho­tomon­tages to protest the Viet­nam War, and reac­ti­vated the project dur­ing the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, in response to the Iraq war. They are com­pos­ites con­structed from the incon­gru­ous pho­tographs com­monly found cheek by jowl in com­mer­cial news media: adver­tis­ing images of ide­al­ized Amer­i­can homes con­joined with com­bat scenes from overseas.

The ear­lier series, made from about 1967 to 1972, brought the war home; she intro­duced Viet­namese refugees and Amer­i­can troops into images of sub­ur­ban liv­ing rooms. The pieces were intended to be pho­to­copied and passed around at anti­war ral­lies in New York and Cal­i­for­nia, where Ms. Rosler, a Brook­lyn native, lived on and off through­out the 1970s.

The pho­tomon­tages of the 2000s dif­fer in that they are large, vibrantly col­ored, dig­i­tally printed and hung in a com­mer­cial gallery. In them Ms. Rosler often col­lages Amer­i­cans onto scenes from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ini­tially Ms. Rosler felt some trep­i­da­tion about reviv­ing the project. “The down­side was that peo­ple could say, ‘She’s revis­it­ing some­thing she did 30 years ago,’ ” she said. “But I thought that actu­ally was a plus, because I wanted to make the point that with all the dif­fer­ences, this is exactly the same sce­nario. We haven’t advanced at all in the way we go to war.”, “Tout la change, tout la même chose.” — Martha Rosler, on “Bring­ing the War Home: House Beautiful”.

Martha Rosler teaches at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity and the Städelschule in Frankfurt