johanna hedva – my body is a prison of pain so i want to leave it like a mystic but i also love it & want it to matter politically (2015)

Event presented by the Women’s Center for Creative Work at Human Resources on October 7, 2015

Go here for a version of this speech adapted for Mask Magazine.

Johanna Hedva’s Sick Woman Theory proposes that sick bodies are the 21st century’s sites of resistance: chronic, pathologized, and historically feminized illnesses ought to be read as modes of protest against the unlivable conditions of neoliberal, imperialist, white-supremacist, capitalist cis-hetero-patriarchy. Sick Woman Theory insists that the definition of “wellness” is a capitalist one — to be well enough to go work — that needs to be rejected. SWT redefines the body with its vulnerability as the default, so therefore, we are constantly (not only sometimes) in need of care and support. Because society has eradicated such infrastructures, what are we going to do now?

From here, Hedva (herself a spoonie) has wound up at mystical anarchism, which proposes a communal politics of love, where the “self” has been obliterated in favor of the Many. This talk will try to converge the feminist mystical tradition of Marguerite Porete, Simone Weil, etc., who proposed rejecting the body for the sake of love, with an intersectional-feminist, anti-white-supremacist, queer, and crip politics, which foregrounds the body as primary matter.

A question for the audience: Are these two positions irreconcilable?

bio:
Johanna Hedva is currently a Research Fellow with “at land’s edge,” under the mentorship of Fred Moten.
#JohannaHedva (vimeo.com/user1845185)

Johanna Hedva. Photo: Mask Magazine

 

the xx – npr music tiny desk concert (2013)

Whoa.

“It’s easy to think of The xx as a fashionable band: Its members have a sleek all-in-black look, its typography and cover art is coolly and distinctively styled, and the group itself has been showered with validation, including Britain’s 2010 Mercury Prize. But beneath all that tightly controlled image-making lays music that’s raw and vulnerable; shy, worried tentativeness is wired into a sound that shimmers powerfully, but remains as fragile and delicate as a soap bubble.

“The xx’s second album, Coexist, came out last fall, and it plays like a series of tensely lovely interludes, each building to a climax that never arrives. Plopped in front of Bob Boilen’s desk and asked to play a few songs from the record, singer-guitarist Romy Madley Croft and singer-bassist Oliver Sim have reason to look slightly ill-at-ease: The setting and band configuration robs them of cover. No beats from member Jamie Smith, who opted to hang back at the hotel; no shroud of darkness or bright lights pointed outward to blunt the crowd’s stares. Throughout their characteristically compact seven-minute performance, Croft and Sim avoid eye contact, as they visibly try to ignore the huge throng and cameras positioned maybe 10 feet away from them.

“What comes out of their performance is not just beauty, but humanity — the sense that, in all of The xx’s songs, all the calm chilliness in the world can’t quite contain an exposed heart.”

Set List
• “Angels”
• “Sunset”

Credits
Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Becky Lettenberger, Claire O’Neill, Maggie Starbard

connie converse – talkin’ like you (c. 1950s)

During the 1950s, Converse worked for the Academy Photo Offset printing house in New York’s Flatiron District. She initially lived in Greenwich Village, but would later take up residency in the Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem areas. She started calling herself Connie, a nickname she had acquired in New York. She began writing songs and performing them for friends, accompanying herself on guitar. During this time, she adopted smoking and drinking, which starkly went against her strict Baptist upbringing; her still-religious parents rejected her music career, and her father died without having heard a single one of Connie’s songs. Converse’s only known public performance was a brief television appearance in 1954 on The Morning Show on CBS with Walter Cronkite, which artist Gene Deitch helped to arrange. By 1961 (the same year that Bob Dylan moved to Greenwich Village and quickly met mainstream success), Converse had grown frustrated trying to sell her music in New York. That year, she moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her brother Philip Converse was a professor of political science at the University of Michigan. She worked in a secretarial job, and then as Managing Editor of the Journal of Conflict Resolution in 1963 which she also wrote for. Following her move to the midwest, Converse appears to have mostly ceased writing new songs. She disappeared in 1974. [Read more here.]

molly drake – i remember (c. 1950s)

Molly Drake (1915 – 1993) was Nick Drake‘s mother – clearly his talent was hereditary. This recording was made during the 1950s at the family home in Tanworth-in-Arden by her husband, Rodney Drake, on a home Ferrograph recorder. A collection of these recordings and poems was released by Bryter Music as a limited privately-pressed edition of 500 copies in 2011. It came out as a single CD with a booklet of poetry housed in a black card portfolio. The album was later released by Squirrel Thing Records in March 2013. The released versions of the recordings were engineered by John Wood and produced by Cally Callomon. John Wood was the sound engineer on her son, Nick Drake‘s albums.