Independence Days

As a punctuation to our weeklong recognition of the anniversary of the Stonewall riots and segueway into the July 4th national holiday in the states, Viva Ruiz and Jason Farrer have interviewed Stonewall veteran and community role model Yvonne Ritter about her experience/s in remembrance to her “daughter”. Their hero and freedom fighter Chloe Dzubilo, indispensable artist, punk rocker, key member of the activist generation after Yvonne, and before us, an extreme and ultimately compassionate trans individual who passed three years ago. We would like to dedicate this interview and Independence Day to Chloe, her legacy, body of work, and relationship with partner and the highly influential living artist and mc, T DeLong. In 2003, Chloe was appointed to the HIV and Human Service Planning Council of New York, an advisory body composed of people living with HIV/AIDS, service providers, and government representatives, charged with ensuring that “people living with HIV have access to appropriate, quality services across the continuum of care, resulting in the best possible health and quality of life.” Chloe was also an astute and empassioned equestrian and loving friend and leader.


An interview with Yvonne Ritter, Stonewall Veteran

Could you please provide us with a bit of background?

I grew up in Brooklyn and went to a parochial grammar school where nuns used to  beat you up and tell you were bad if you looked at a boy or a girl. They would make you feel bad about everything you did.  I was the oldest of the grand children and I remember one New Years Eve, at the age of eight. I was crying about something and my uncle said “Big boys dont cry”, I replied “I’m not a boy, I’m a girl.” As a reaction he slapped me across the room. At that time I didn’t know what to not say to people.

I was a [...]


Istanbul’s transexual prostitutes

Ali Kepenek is the photographer who created a series of portraits of transsexual prostitutes in Istanbul eight years ago. These images are startling on various levels, the power of the material that Kepenek has captured is so raw and unforgiving. There is a reality to the lives of these women which can’t be ignored in how stoic but simultaneously glamourous they appear. This is of course scattered with a kind of unavoidable fragility but Kepenek has so successfully captured moments of a rejected community who have everything going against them in such a conservative country. What is so important about these images is that Kepenek has shown us that issues of gender are universal and how we should approach them should be relentlessly challenged, anyone wanting to question their gender or sexuality should always be supported. Ignorant ideals never disappear but simply evolve but through creating culture around these issues we can all learn how to integrate others into society in the way that they deserve.

We spoke to Ali about how this series of photographs were created and what life was like for these women.

 

 

How did this project start?

My family are Turkish but I was brought up in Germany, so every few years I’d visit Istanbul with my parents. One year when I was about twelve years old I experienced this overwhelmingly strong image, I saw a transsexual prostitute on the street who I assumed at the time to be a woman. When I first saw this woman, I felt amazing. I couldn’t really understand what I was seeing. I saw this incredibly strong woman, fighting against a Turkish guy.

You saw a transsexual prostitute fighting a man on the street? 

Yeah, that was the thing. For me, it was [...]


A Sang Bleu Stonewall Riots anniversary special


To celebrate the 45th anniversary of one of the most important days of the 20th century we have asked Sang Bleu family and friends to share with us their favourite piece of art  or culture which explores a queer lifestyle.

The Stonewall Riots took place on the morning of June the 28th 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of New York. This collective rebellion against the police is widely considered one of the most important aspects of history to help in the fight for gay and lesbian liberation.

Not all of the pieces chosen by our friends necessarily directly focus on homosexuality – but the idea of this article is that by thinking beyond the missionary position different progressive behaviours can and have adapted our human behaviour to make the world a more tolerant place.

By challenging what society deems appropriate through sex we’ve looked at both women and men who have questioned how their sexuality informs their gender or place in society, much like how the brave an important individuals did on the June morning of 1969. Some of these pieces of culture chosen may not have physically opposed legal regulations of their sexuality but by creating culture around these ideas they’ve helped us all live in a more humane and loveable world.

Cottweiler – Fireworks by Kenneth Anger, 1947

Fireworks was made by a teenage Kenneth Anger in 1947 and explicitly explored themes of homosexuality and S&M in a time when homosexuality was still illegal in the USA. The film is typical of Anger’s surrealistic and textural vision but its message heavily lies in Anger’s teenager view of the world and how his own sexuality was considered a taboo at the time. We personally love this not only for its progressive story [...]


Speaking of Sex: The Human Sexuality Collection

This year New York’s Cornell University Library celebrates the quarter century anniversary of its Human Sexuality Collection, an ongoing study and documentation of sex-focused media. From rare books, essays and letters to artwork and pornography, each piece has been collected with the intention of encouraging research on the many topics related to sexuality, topics that that 25 years ago would have been entirely taboo and largely rejected by academia. The hope was that through this study of the various facets of sexuality and sexual study, particularly that of niche or marginalised areas of the community, that we might begin to view sex from alternative perspectives and, ultimately, accept it as not only a commonality, but as a fundamental part of the human existence.

“It is as if this most vital of human concerns is filled with too many dangers to allow it to be studied seriously.” –David B. Goodstein, former publisher of US LGBT publication The Advocate and benefactor of the Library’s archives.

As part of the celebration the library has provided a brief glance into the archives in an online exhibition Speaking of Sex presenting a host of  important artifacts in documenting the place of sexuality in society and the ongoing struggles people across the world continue to endure because of their sexuality, struggles so often forgotten in the smokescreen of crepe paper floats and ghb-laced partying that threatens to cloud occasions such as this weekend’s Stonewall anniversary. Below is Sang Bleu’s selection of images from the Library’s collection of zines, from independent gay publications to a beginners guide to cruising. (Explore the rest of this illuminating exhibition here.)

 

 


EXHIBITION: BRUCE WEBER – DETROIT

 

In 2006, Detroit was just starting to recover from its downfall – hosting the Superbowl and gently caressing the idea of doing a comeback as a cosmopolitan. Most photographers traveling to Detroit, documenting the city where focusing on its vulnerability and gritty image. Bruce Weber
on the other hand, commissioned by W Magazine was completely obsessed with the city’s vitality and its inhabitants. The 54 page editorial aptly named ‘Welcome to the Motor City’ featuring supermodel Kate Moss with her aura and the city of Detroit capturing the culture and people
of the city.

Last year Bruce Weber went back to Detroit, this time to partner with Shinola, a Detroit based company. Teaming up with casting agent Jennifer Venditti and Carolyn Murphy they went on capturing the Detroit small town feel and sustainable growth. These two assignments and a series of portraits of distinguished friends and colleagues with strong ties to the city are now presented as an exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts starting last Friday, 20th of June – ending Sunday 7th of September.


Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Avenue Detroit, Michigan 48202 Monday: Closed Tuesday: 9AM – 4PM Wednesday: 9AM – 4PM Thursday: 9AM – 4PM Friday: 9AM – 4PM Saturday: 10AM – 5PM Sunday: 10AM – 5PM
Free with museum admission

An interview with the creator of ‘The World of Giantess’ a forum to celebrate and explore a fetish for Giant women


Andreas is the creator of a German forum called ‘The World of Giantess’ which explores a fetish for men being scaled down to the size of  insects and women being a totally normal size inducing the notion of the female turning into giants and men becoming vulnerable objects of insignificance.

I found Andreas through flickr where his computer generated images of cinematic scenes showing ant sized men run around the normal sized feet of women in an office space completely blew my mind.

On further inspection I found out that Andreas manages a forum for a cross section of men who all share this fetish and express it though home-made fan art which they share among one another. Andreas’ work explores domestic settings of men trying to escape the attention of these gigantic women, running underneath desks naked and hiding underneath high heels. However the art exhibited on this blog from its various members all explore many different themes of the amazon woman/merciless man relationship.

Many of these men seemed to fantasise about being engulfed by women, either trodden on, swallowed or pressed into crevices of the body – the women having total control of humiliating them. Others seem to enjoy the idea of being invisible to these women, so minuscule in size that they can run all over women’s bodies exploring them without them acknowledging their presence – a kind of female adoration exemplified crossed over with a peeping tom voyeurism.  Some of the images are more explicit than others, taking the form of a more generalised concept of a pornographic aesthetic exaggerating ideas of bodily insertion to the next level. Others resemble more of what looks like a children’s story book where a man goes on some unknown adventure around [...]


Ten Questions: Lars Krutak on “Tattoo Traditions of Native North America: Ancient and Contemporary Expressions of Identity”

While conducting the ongoing “Ten Questions” interview series, it is rare that I actually have the opportunity to sit down and talk face to face with those being interviewed. However, I am happy to say that this interview with Lars Krutak did take place in person and occurred at the recent Northern Ink Xposure tattoo convention in Toronto. This convention marked the North American launch of Krutak’s new book “Tattoo Traditions of Native North America: Ancient and Contemporary Expressions of Identity,” the first book of its kind on the history of Native North American tattooing, spanning, as the title indicates, from ancient to contemporary periods and covering the entire continent. After reading a copy of the book, it is safe to say that this is a landmark text within the discourse of both tattoo history and Indigenous/Native North American studies. Continue reading below for more on the book, but be sure to purchase a copy for yourself. For more information, be sure to visit the book’s Facebook page, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to visit Krutak’s personal website as well.   

Up until now, there hasn’t been a book to survey Indigenous tattooing in North America. Why do you think it has taken so long?

I started this project seventeen years ago and I’ve been collecting archival material, old photographs and interviews. I think because there has been so little written about it before and everything is buried, or in other words, not publicly accessible, or difficult to find, and not to mention funding, I think these are reasons why this material hasn’t been put together in a comprehensive manner. It’s that there is a number of logistical hurdles involved. I find myself sharing a lot of my own information because [...]