Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 5 – Feminist Art…

This is the day I was anticipating most…and it did not fail to infuse powerful inspiration.

Since we didn’t have to be in Brooklyn until 11, the Virginia girls were going to FedEx to retrieve my phone. Found a cab…then he told us he didn’t know how to get to the Bronx. (We were on the Upper West Side which is across the river from the Bronx). We walked…couldn’t find an empty cab, talked to some MTA people, found out were originally at the right place on the upper West Side, then said fuhgetaboutit when time was creeping away. So…we asked another MTA person where to find bagels and found the mecca of bagel goodness.
I now understand what a good bagel is. Everything bagel with veggie cream cheese…HEAVEN!!! We ate on the bench in the middle of Broadway and relished in heavenly goodness.
Off to Brooklyn…the subway is getting easier to maneuver and found our location…much like a choose your own adventure, we came up to the address and found a building to call up. Luckily someone was walking out so we jumped through the open door. Since we had directions to Powderkeg on the third floor, we started climbing stairs. On the third floor was an unmarked door and we were unsure if this was right at all. We knocked..hoping for the best…and happily..we were in the right place. Being the first ones, we got to relax in this awesome space. Powderkeg is a writing center that rented this space in which several books have been produced. It is reminiscent of theater space with eclectic chairs. Katie chose the old fashioned wheel chair which was the scene of later accidents as there isn’t a graceful way to enter and exit the chair.
Once everyone gathered…we met with the Guerrilla Girls. WOW!!!
It was so great to meet a few of the Guerrilla Girls and hear first had their amazing grassroots work. Their approach is fresh and their history shows how in tune they are with the world around. We started our activity spouting off what feminist topics need to be addressed. After picking out top 4 topics and breaking into groups, we worked on a video piece addressing our topics. In 20 minutes, there were 4 videos that were stellar. Once they are compiled I will post the link to them all. It’s powerful to see what was able to be done with a hand held video camera or by using the video option on our own personal digital cameras. I am in awe of the collective.

We then met with Arts Effect.
I can’t say enough about the work being created here. First, these two ladies quit their non-profit work to follow their dream. Another real life example of following your dreams. The stories they shared about the middle school girls and their experiences were powerful. So many of us experienced people like the Boob Inspector whose job as a middle school boy was to fondle the newly emerging breasts of the girls. The juxtaposition of hating this violation and feeling adolescent acceptance is one of the many struggles for girls in this age group. When the girls get together in this space, they are able to talk about their experiences and gain the knowledge that they aren’t the only ones going through this. Through theater arts, they create change both within and externally. They revamped a hip hop song to represent feminist power…the link which I will post when I receive it. It is super powerful and to know that it is the collective voice of middle school girls was emotional. We were led through an Arts Effect activity and journaled for a few minutes about a memory of when we first noticed injustice or something that led us to feminism. We broke out in groups and created a theater piece around the one or two sentences that resonated through our writing. Interestingly, our group of 5 had 3 people write about their fathers. We had to incorporate the lines that resonated in our freewrite. In short, our group’s scene was a girl and her father, Tommy Hilfiger. It was after a whole day of the girl and her mother getting everything ready for the party and Daddy T was criticizing the daughter for reading her book and not having combed her hair for the party that was about to start. This triggered her reaction when he was vicious about the fact that she was reading Smut Manifesta and the daughter raged at him. His only reaction was to look down at his empty drink and ask her to get him another beer.
The other 4 presentations were immensely powerful and brought up so much emotion within. I treasure the space that allowed this beautiful work to come through the collective groups and to have witnessed how the ideas came together. I am thankful for Angi’s powerful performance on the window ledge, the strength in 4 words still drawing emotion from the depths of my spirit.
With this full morning of inspiration, we ventured to Streb.
This is a new way of movement and there were rumors of trapeze. Amy Richards did do the trapeze for her birthday but there were other things on our agenda. This space also holds a tightrope workshop taught by Phillipe Petit who is known for walking the tightrope between the World Trade Center buildings. Once we learned pop action and how to fall from a standing position full body face down, we split into groups. First, my group, 5 at a time, stood on top of the rafter that usually holds lighting in theater spaces. In the air, we did 90 degree pops and jumping formations. A few of us wanted to go higher which we did. When you are high in the air and the skinny platform you are on is moving from the 5 people jumping together at once, it is pretty scary.
We switched spaces and learned to jump on the trampoline launch. After a running start, we took one jump and landed on the mat. Then we took a jump and landed on the mat in a full crouch face down position. How amazing…
Our final acrobatic adventure was for groups of 5 to hang from the rafter as it was lifted to see who could hold on the longest. There is something surreal about holding onto a metal framework and feel it lifted until your feet are no longer on the ground. Lack of upper body strength made my journey short but most of felt the affects for days after.
6:00 and our day as a collective was done. We had yet to eat the famed NY pizza so we found a place and happily was not disappointed. Chicken bacon ranch pizza is a must try for pizza lovers. We searched for a gelato place and weren’t disappointed. Knowing I still had yet to conquer my phone debacle, I started planning my way to the Bronx. Lizzy joined me and I was so grateful. We had an hour before FedEx closed. Unknowingly, we jumped on the express train and passed the stop needed. Now we had 30 minutes. We jumped off the subway and decided to catch a cab. Thankfully we did since we would have had to maneuver through an industrial section and with 5 minutes to spare, I ran into FedEx. With phone in hand, I did the victory whoop exiting the building. We took the subway to where Lizzy was staying and I made my way back to the hostel. After finally getting to hear Cassie’s voice, I went to bed exhausted but happy.

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