Category Archives: Media and Life

Viv Albertine’s pioneering women (and what happens when we meet our idols)

*Guest post by Laura Cofield*

A moment of pure joy washed over me last Wednesday as I  watched my two favourite feminist icons sit on stage together and chat about pioneering women in music as part of The Odditorium series of events for Brighton Fringe Festival. Viv Albertine, writer, artist and guitarist of The Slits was invited to talk in conversation with Lucy about the women she had come to recognise as influential in her life. It was like ‘grasping at straws’ she described, born in the fifties and with so few women visible in the public eye, let alone pioneering in alternative and subculture.

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Do I know anyone who has worked on Jersey in the 80s?….. well funnily enough…

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(Thanks to Claire Langhamer who excelled herself as travel companion/carer)

I’ve just got back from the launch of Jersey Heritage’s new exhibition ‘Bergerac’s Island: Jersey in the 1980s’.  I’ve been working with the team throughout the project’s development and can honestly say the whole experience has been brilliant. This exhibition is clever stuff. It speaks across generation, to the local and the global. But it is also touching, funny and engaging – that’s pretty much what I want history to be.

Continue reading Do I know anyone who has worked on Jersey in the 80s?….. well funnily enough…

#emergencydemobrighton

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These are the words I gave at last night’s amazing, angry, joyful, loving, demo against Trump and his muslim ban.  I know most of the thousands of people couldn’t hear what the speakers were saying. Because there were just so many of you there. Your bodies filled the space, soaked up the sound and responded with chants, shouts and woops.  (Note, just because you might think you’ve got the biggest megaphone, doesn’t mean you have. Believe me I know, I’ve tried them all)

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#MoreThanAssistants: Smashing Patriarchy one Doll at a Time

Over the last few months a  new feminist project has been occupying a small group of feminist historians at the University of Sussex.  #MorethanAssistants is inspired by the history of feminist interventions in Historical practice.

We are concerned with

  • The burden of responsibility on those few female figures who manage to earn a space in the public realm.
  • The disproportionate shaming of young women for unruly behaviour.
  • The power of playful, messy, feminism.
  • The importance of carrying our sisterhood with us, whether physically, virtually or emotionally
  • The power of being in the wrong place.

You can hear more about the assistants on this PRBH radio interview from 1.07 to 1.31

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KISMIF: Process not subject – it’s the way that we rhyme

I’ve just got back from the most mind-blowing conference I’ve ever been to.  Keep It Simple, Make It Fast, is a conference/music and literary festival/art show organised around DIY cultures, Spaces, Places.  Events were held across various venues in Porto, bringing together academic presentations, some celebrity guests, live performances, exhibitions with daily book launches and a summer school. The event is convened by Paula Guerra and Andy Bennett with an incredible team of international volunteers. I went with my Subcultures Network army (Matt Worley, Petes Webb and Ward, David Wilkinson and stayed in a seminary with the Punk Scholars Network and Steve Ignorant from Crass).

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A week ago we stood together: is it fixed yet?

 

I’ve been out of the country for a week at a great workshop in Berlin “How to Write and Conceptualize the History of Youth Cultures” organised by Felix Fuhg, Doctoral Student, with the Centre for Metropolitan studies.  I was travelling with the histrrry girls and The Subcultures Network, so there were Harringtons. There are always Harringtons.  We spent one day working and talking in the Archiv der Jugendkulturen.   Its an incredible community archive and library that has brought together all the different traces of resistance in youth culture and subcultures.  From magazines made by school pupils to the Love Parades’ backdrops and giant cut outs of Nena – the transational and hyper local are boxed up together and are being carefully catalogued by local participant experts in each scene.

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Europe not Europe

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I remember being canvased for the 1989 European election.  I was a nineteen year old mother of a two year old, living in a shared house. It was the first election I’d been old enough to vote.  It was also the first time I’d seen the Green Party as an electoral force. Something interesting was going on.  I can’t say that Europe itself really mattered to me very much, but it opened up ways to think things through, that we couldn’t really find space for elsewhere.

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On Pride

So in keeping with the more recent tone of NTWICH I’m going to start this post with a confession.  I avoided seeing the film Pride for nearly 16 months and only eventually watched it because I had to.

In the end I watched it because Catherine Grant very kindly invited me to speak at an event that she organised with Diarmaid Kelliher, on Pride and its Precursors and I was too honoured, and too embarrassed, to say no. When the film first came out I ducked and dived out of numerous press requests to comment on it. I had toyed with the idea of presenting at the symposium without actually having watched the film, maybe as a sort of thought experiment.   I’d floated the idea over drinks with the talented historian Ben Jones from UEA but lost my confidence after he described some of the scenes I might have missed out on  (the alien invasion and massive shoot out at the end).

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Cringe, in more ways than one, (but don’t tell my Mum)

 

On 19th November I stood in the Latest Music Bar Brighton and read out bits of my teenage diary from the year 1984-1985.   The event, ‘Cringe at Mass Observation‘ was jointly organised by Cringe and Mass Observation as part of ‘Being Human: The Festival of Humanities’.  London Cringe organise events where “Funny ‘grown-ups’ read aloud from their teenage diaries”.  It’s a model that was picked up from New York and spread from there.  Fiona Courage and Jessica Scantlebury from Mass Observation had been to one of the events and had immediately recognised Cringe’s resonance with Mass Observation writers who also share their private experiences and analysis for public consumption.

You can hear a bit more about Cringe, where it came from and the Brighton event on a podcast of an interview myself and Cringe organiser Ana McGloughlin did for Radio Reverb with Melita Dennett. (at about 22 minutes in)

Continue reading Cringe, in more ways than one, (but don’t tell my Mum)

Persons Unknown

Over the past few weeks Class War and LSE’s Lisa Mckenzie in particular have been taking a lot of stick for their choice of target and tactics.  For months Class War and the Women’s Death Brigade have been standing up against the relocation of young teenage mothers by supporting E15 Mums’ campaign, opposing Poor Doors, challenging Gay Pride’s for profit associations with big business and international banking,  and exposing the dodgy deals and marketing of working class women’s bodies for profit at the Jack the Ripper Museum in Cable St.  All pretty straight forward.  Not everyone likes the shouty, irreverent style of the brigade, but its pretty hard to defend kicking out teenage mums, humiliating social housing tenants, censoring gay activists in the name of Pride, or possible shonky negotiations for planning permission.  But then Class War went too far.  They went for the hipster – and the infamous Cereal Killer Café.  Jokes were made on Radio 4 quizzes. Newspapers dug around in activist’s private lives and recreational choices for a few exposes.  Friends of mine argued that these were the wrong targets and the wrong tactics.  I’m not going to get into analysis of cultural capital and bearded entitlement (but honestly doesn’t your face take up enough space already?). But I found it difficult to see the cereal café as the biggest victim in the struggle around austerity.

Fair enough, the other side of that coin is that the bearded cereal sellers might not be your biggest problem either.  In fact you might not have heard about all the grassroots activism that Class War and the Fuck Parade had been doing if they hadn’t annoyed Shoreditch. [disclaimer – I am gluten and lactose free so cereal prices are never going to be my biggest issue]  But the issue of personal taste, and personal tactics really isn’t the problem anymore.  The truth is, it doesn’t matter what your personal political style is.  It doesn’t matter how your particular political form and content sit together.  Because whether you like it or not, whether we like each other’s style or not, we really are all in it together. If we didn’t know that already, the CPS have just made it very clear.

Continue reading Persons Unknown