Girl Power: Tschabalala Self at Parasol Unit
Written by: Victoria Highfield
Girl power at its best: Erotic and empowering show depicting the human figure in all its glory. It’s the lead up to international women’s day and what better reason to celebrate all things girl power than to see the first UK solo show of Tschabalala Self; a fantastic female artist who is pushing figurative painting forward in a diverse way.
Self is a 26 year old New Yorker whose subjects consist largely of young black females (like her) presented as distorted yet hypnotically beautiful shapes. Through synchronised painting, print, collage and sculpture she depicts the concept of the black female body within contemporary culture and questions themes of race, gender and sexuality in a vibrant and powerful way.
Self’s works are bright and daring not only in their content but in their use of colour and movement too. Backdrops of bright blue and yellow hues stand to attention whereas slices of orange and indigo highlight generous vicinities of the female form. Her paintings are loud and confident and include collage. Pieces of collected fabric – sometimes African or African inspired cloth – are sewn directly onto the work, bringing us closer to the artist’s roots and personal identify. The cloth is sewn in a precarious manner with loose threads visibly hanging down which seems like a deliberate move by Self to hint at the wildness to her work.
Working with mixed media allows her to play with the concept of reality vs imagination as she explores the Black female body’s purpose as a social and political symbol.
What is most striking about the images she presents is the sense of ownership that the subject – or as she prefers, character – expresses. Each character owns the space it’s been given and draws the viewer in with rapid, sporadic movement. Figures’ limbs intertwine and multiply like Hindu gods, their facial features elongated and contorted. There are hints of Picasso, Picarbia and even a contemporary George Condo in Self’s fragmented and fractured bodies, whilst also showing the beauty and grace of Matisse’s dancing figures.
Silhouettes leap across the canvas, legs spread, buttocks large and prominent, mouths open. Each one oozes in sensuality and erotica and asserts their own self-defined identify and thereby fulfils the artist’s intention.
A key feature in Self’s work is voyeurism, the act of watching and being watched, and this links seamlessly with the sexual nature of works such as My Black Ass, 2016 which sees an enhanced sense of liberation in the carefree approach the women express. They expose their naked bodies through dance indifferent to the watchful eyes of the viewer. The women never give off any sense of vulnerability or victimhood but instead use their sexuality as a sense of empowerment; Self is deciding how she wants these bodies to look, no one else.
Anyone who says you can’t be a feminist and get your tits out (aka Emma Watson bashing fools) should really see this exhibition. Self exposes a number of topical issues women still have to face in the 20th century. An important exhibition on defining the body through art – not one to miss!
Tschabalala Self (Free entry), 17 January – 12 March 2017, Parasol Unit foundation for contemporary art, Wharf Road, Islington.
Hivemind are coming to the Hen and Chickens Theatre this Summer with a cracker of an innovative show. Three directors try to win over the audience with improvised stories acted out by the rest of the Hivemind cast on the spur of the moment. As each scene ends you decide whether to “stick” and see where the story goes or “twist” and let the next director take over. The director who ends up with the least scenes acted out has to pay a ‘terrible forfeit’. Told you it was harsh.
We have been wondering whether or not to share this secret gem with you for a while now. Having walked past Cazenove Road on many a drunken occasion, we’d spotted The Lacy Nook A Board luring us inwards with a siren’s call of cocktails and beer garden. But unfortunately we’d get the timing all wrong and they’d rarely be open. “Closed at 4am! How ludicrous?” we’d holler, slurring and swaying up the road. Until now. Opening last year, The Lacy Nook is a collaboration between two friends who turned to Kickstarter to help them achieve this culinary dream . Think small and large plates of fusion Balkan BBQ, salads and carpaccio alongside
This year, Playing Up have commissioned a new play by Sophie Ellerby (HighTide First Commissions Writer and NYT REP Company 2013), Three, which will be staged at the Arcola Theatre from 20th to 22nd July. The urban and domestic drama, directed by NYT Associate Director Anna Niland follows three sisters who fight to keep track of reality as their world is turned upside down.
Tonight, on this dull yet sweaty Monday, what you may well need is to show your confectionary based fillings to the ceiling and let it all out with a huge bellowing guffaw about nothing in particular. Let the likes of quick witted Josie Long, surreal twosome Max and Ivan and the downright uproarious Tom Parry help you escape the chocolate lacking reality of 2017.
Registered charity, All Dogs Matter are a dog rehoming centre based in Archway. They use a mixture of foster homes and kennel spaces to house their dogs, who are each looking to be fostered or adopted. Occasionally we look through their profiles of beautiful singletons looking for love and feature one at random. We interviewed one newly single lady in particular called Lottie. A fun spirited character with smooth hair and a huge grin, Lottie was a right laugh.
Next Sunday it’s the Cally Road Jumble Trail, run by the community. Think a car boot sale but on the street with vintage clothing, accessories, toys, original creations and cakes if you’re lucky. The whole of the trail is set up online over at jumbletrail.com where visitors get a colour coded map to explore and discover all the hidden treasures on offer from your neighbourhood.
You’ve got your socks pulled up but no Cliff Richard in sight. You’re all white shorted up with nowhere to go. It’s time to find out where your white headbanded self will fit in. Here's our top four Wimbledon screening hang outs to try this Summer.
Until five minutes ago I would’ve believed Pet Nat was a holistic dog food brand / veterinary business in Wood Green. I’m half right actually*, but in the boozios world it’s a fizzy wine. Pétillant Naturel is light and fizzy, usually pretty low on the alcohol scale and rather sweet. Think the opposite of a dry red wine.
Abney Public Hall is hosting a market of world food delicacies next weekend, having gathered together the creme de la creme of planet Earth’s cuisine. Prepare for a mass fusion of cultures, great food, drink and music just off Stoke Newington Church Street.
Otherwise known as the shoredification of London, there are four stages of denial when it comes to dealing with the inevitability of gentrification. Are you a dilapidated ol’ boozer clinging on to the same threads since 1989, or more of a craft beer-swilling/moustache-bearing pop up type propping up the bar at a cookie dough cafe? Let’s find out before your bedroom’s transformed in to a pop up belfie gallery.
Poop poop! Get your driving gloves on and tweed jackets ready, for Toady has invited us down to Toad Hall for a banquet on the riverbank. Join The Literary Hour for their all new immersive supper club experience this Summer. It’s the eighth in their series of book themed events with multi-sensory five course meals featuring additional surprises… Ooh ratty!
Every last Thursday of the month a motley crew of performing acts shuffle off to the skinny little Moustache Bar on Stoke Newington Road for a night of microphone hogging. It’s Open Mic night and the stage isn’t just available to acoustic guitar yielding crooners. The floor is open for all you comedians, rappers, poets, hell even actors are welcome to come tread the boards at Moustache Bar this Thursday 27th July.
Ah Stokey. You chilled out little rebel of North London. The seemingly easy breezy, laissez-faire attitude that appears to exude from every award winning eatery and baby clothes shop of Church Street is all but an organic hessian veil over it’s anarchic and rebellious history. Nonconformists, anti fascists and dissenters built the area as we know it.
Trying our luck, we decided to ask the wonderful Raina and Saira of Joginder Supper Club to give us some unseen insight in to their centuries old Punjabi recipes. Amazingly they agreed to shed some light on one of their most tasty dishes: the Bhoolghobi Tamatar (cauliflower with tomato and potato). Over to the experts...
So this July 198 cyclists head over to Germany to start the Tour de France. If you think that is weird, wait till I tell you it started in Yorkshire a few years ago. Anyway after the three days of the Grand Depart the spectacle of the world's biggest sporting event heads back to France and the action really begins.
Did you take one look at the ticket prices for Glastonbury, vomit in your mouth and close your laptop slowly? Did you get a debilitating case of FOMO scrolling through your friends Glastonbury pics and “oops lost my phone at Radiohead” status updates? Or did you actually go to Glastonbury, witness Jon Snow drop the f bomb and now know that life will never get any better