Shirin Rastin is an Iranian-born artist based in Orange County, California. She is exhibiting her latest series, Forced Entry, at the Dollar Art House in St. Louis, Missouri. The exhibition opens on Friday, March 24. The Dollar Art House interviewed her about her work before the exhibition opening.
Dollar Art House: In this series you combine commercial puzzles with puzzles you’ve made using images from the news media. In particular these include puzzles that show an idyllic “western” or “American” life (the former) and puzzles that depict the ongoing refugee crisis (the latter). Can you tell us something about how you arrived at this concept?
Stephanie Dinges is a working-class socialist, artist and activist running as a Green Party candidate for alderperson in the 13th ward of St. Louis. Dinges is running against a largely absentee pro-corporate law-and-order Democrat. On March 7th the aldermanic and mayoral primary was held in St. Louis. The general election takes place on April 4th. Red Wedge’s Adam Turl interviewed Stephanie about her campaign in late February.
Consumer Grade Film is a U.S. Midwestern collective of filmmakers focusing on low-budget, socially-conscious films. Their current projects include the short film Ubercreep, the feature film In Circles and the YouTube channel VHS Girl.In Circles tells the story of three teenagers, Carmen, Stephen, and Virgil, who "sell stolen prescription drugs in order to pay for an abortion, while the small farm town they live in is being threatened by a drilling company." Ubercreep tells the story of two women who are stalked by a driver from a ride sharing service. In late August Red Wedge’s Adam Turl spoke to Consumer Grade Film founders Carson Cates and Andrew Laudone.
Jesa Dior Brooks is a musician and artist. Their work positions the individual experiences of anti-racist and anti-capitalist struggle in an art historical context. They are part of the “Afropunk” duo Thee Mistakes and a member of the band Meathorse. Brooks will be performing and participating in the inaugural exhibition of the Dollar Art House, “The Hard Times Art Show,” on September 30 in St. Louis. I interviewed them in the lead-up to the event.
Capitalism, contrary to really any architectural experience, is not concerned with memory or with nostalgia or with remembering anything at all. Rather, capitalism is out to expand and reconfigure its gains, to exploit and, as you say, disavow. It forgets, and it forgets purposefully in order to expand further, and in its forgetting there is a bleaching forgiveness that is so total and permanent that it is negating in its testimony.
Can America ever truly face its racism – both past and present – for what it truly is? Or is the history of forced migration, bondage and slave labor, legal apartheid, incarceration and horrific state violence too much for it to survive such a revelation? Can it endure the psychic shock and endeavor in some kind of pursuit of truth or reconciliation? Or will it simply implode, come apart at the seams and make way for something new? Something which, hopefully, would not have genocide running through its veins? Langston Hughes tells of a man urging us to “let America be America again,” but Hughes is not so sure such an America ever existed. Neither should anyone today.
Michelle Cruz Gonzales (then known as Todd) played drums and wrote lyrics in Spitboy, one of the most important hardcore bands of the 1990s. Along with bands such as Grimple, Econochrist, and Paxton Quigley they were part of an explicitly political corner of the East Bay punk scene. With an all woman line-up Spitboy’s performances defied expectations of what “women and rock” and “feminism” were supposed to mean at the time. Gonzales’ new book Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band (PM Press) defies expectations once again. People of Color have been part of the punk scene from the beginning. Gonzales is part of a lineage that includes Detroit’s Death, The Bags (Los Angeles), Poly Styrene and Pat Smear. Spitboy Rule makes the invisible visible. It is both a walk down counter culture’s memory lane as well as a serious exploration of identity, gender and race.
What does it mean to be “unrapeable?” It can mean, among other, almost limitless possibilities, that the labor we perform, the industry we work within, those that consume the products of our labor, and those that try desperately to deprive of us self-determined working conditions, somehow belongs to everyone but us. It means that our bodies are meant for others. It means we are robbed of control over our art and our labor, which are ultimately the same. To be “unrapeable” is to presume nymphomania. It means consent is rendered irrelevant. It devalues our bodies, our art, and our labor to the point of only ever being (to the chauvinist) in service of male desire.
If there were ever a walking, talking, bloviating illustration of the American political tragicomedy, it is Donald Trump. The man who very well may win the Republican nomination for president due to his bottomless cash reserves is, for roughly the same reason, given carte blanche to say more or less whatever he wants under the guise of "it's what everyone is thinking." It bears pointing out that very few of his comments or platforms are "what everyone is thinking." A more apt description might be "what the anxious and insecure white male middle class is thinking."
This is likely why the art of Sarah Levy went so phenomenally viral during the month of September. The socialist, feminist and artist's rendition of the duck-faced one was a clever inversion of his words about Fox News' Megyn Kelly's menstrual cycle.
One could be easily forgiven for believing that theater is indeed “dead.” Every medium of culture and creativity struggles with issues of relevance and vitality, but the common conception of theater in particular seems to be one that has been most flagrantly geared merely toward parting tourists with their money. Of course, it’s not entirely true; the reality is far more complex. But the fact remains that there appears to be a gap between what we learn the live performing arts once were (or could be) and their present anodyne state. How is a play supposed to be relevant to working people? How can it be when it costs an arm and a leg just to go to one?