Meet You in the Burning Hellfire

Salt ‘N Pepa said it best “Let’s Talk About Sex.” That’d be great but, the reality? Boys always talk about sex. Girls get embarrassed whispers and wives tales passed from generation to generation.

     Guys are told “you’ve got to try on a lot of different shoes before you find the right pair,” or “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Girls are told they have “a special gift” and they “can only give it to one person whom they love very, very much.”  Guess what, whore? You and I are both S.O.L. We didn’t save ourselves for marriage –we’re broken. We’ve shit on the one precious gift we had to give to the world –the most sacred part of us. I’ll meet you in the burning hellfire.

     The fact of the matter is that there are serious consequences in the different ways we discuss sex with guys and the way we discuss sex with gals. Women are told to be embarrassed by sex while men are told to revel in having had a lot of it. A woman is told –consciously or unconsciously –that if she has sex before marriage it’s her fault that she squandered her virginity. What may seem like a passive comment, “you can only give yourself to one man you love very much,” puts the entire weight of the sex act on her shoulders. As if it doesn’t take two to tango.

     Whether you believe what I’m saying or not, it’s still important to realize how messed up society makes women feel about sex. Let me give some examples of the ridiculousness we, as women, are bombarded with.

1. If you have a lot of sex, you’ll get all worn out down there. Do men’s penises get all worn out and droopy when they have a lot of sex? Is the woman’s body just not properly equipped to deal with the act of reproduction? That seems evolutionarily dumb.

2. You ever heard of the movie Teeth?

3. Sex hurts like hell

4. When you have sex –you’re completely giving yourself over to a man. Yourself is just for you. Do you ever hear fathers tell their young sons that when they have sex with a woman their giving themselves to her? No, you don’t.

5. Sex is going to suck for a while -probably a long while. Yeah, if there’s one deterrent to scare girls away from sex this is it. Sex is going to hurt like hell and it’s just inevitable. You just gotta grin and bare it. In what world does that sound like an okay plan? Grin and bare it?

An article by Julianne Ross titled 17 Lies We Need To Stop Teaching Girls About Sex deals with a lot of these issues and the ridiculousness of some of the things we tell young girls.

While not telling your children anything or telling them to let their freak flag fly (in regards to willy-nilly unprotected sex that is -other types of freakage is totes cool) is damaging in it’s own right, we can’t with good conscience continue to feed them these lies about sex.

     If we do –we’re going to scare the human race to extinction and to me, that sounds like a dumb plan.

Rian Lussier


Performance with found text


 The artist transcribed 50 comments appropriated from articles on the internet regarding rape, rape culture, or “rape culture,” wrapping from the bottom up of the gallery’s foundational column.  The performance began crawling and circling the base of the column and eventually involved climbing a ladder to reach the 20+ feet height.  The duration of the piece was slightly less than 3 hours.

Within the first half hour of the performance a male audience member attempted to scribble out the text Lussier was writing. Shortly after another male audience member began to doodle cartoon images of penises, female characters and bubble letters claiming that the piece was ‘too serious.’ An hour or so later another male audience member attempted to erase the text from the column. He instructed the artist that there were “too many good guys for rape culture to be a real issue.”


Opens tonight, Sept 11, 6-8p:“Once Everything Was Much Better Even The Future” Nir HodPaul Kasmin Gallery, 515 W27th St., NYCexhibition of painting and sculpture features a large sculptural work, a snowglobe containing a moving scale model of a pumpjack encased in oil and swirling “snow” comprised of gold-colored flakes, a reflection of the immense wealth generated by the oil trade. Characteristic of Hod’s work is a dark glamour that is both alluring and menacing, exemplified in his three new series of paintings. In I Want Always to be Remembered in Your Heart, smoldering flames are superimposed on delicate flowers, alluding to the paradoxical coexistence of beauty and destruction. - thru Oct 25


Opens tonight, Sept 11, 6-8p:

Once Everything Was Much Better Even The Future
 Nir Hod

Paul Kasmin Gallery, 515 W27th St., NYC

exhibition of painting and sculpture features a large sculptural work, a snowglobe containing a moving scale model of a pumpjack encased in oil and swirling “snow” comprised of gold-colored flakes, a reflection of the immense wealth generated by the oil trade. Characteristic of Hod’s work is a dark glamour that is both alluring and menacing, exemplified in his three new series of paintings. In I Want Always to be Remembered in Your Heart, smoldering flames are superimposed on delicate flowers, alluding to the paradoxical coexistence of beauty and destruction. - thru Oct 25

Sleepless in Social Practice

“Marx defined ideology as the substitute for a real but impossible change: the change is lived at the level of the imaginary. Modern man is in this situation as extended to every realm. He no longer transforms anything except into images. He travels so as to rediscover the stereotype of the foreign country; loves so as to play the role of the virile lover of the tender beloved etc. Deprived of labor (transformation of environment and self) by wage-labor, the proletarian lives the ‘spectacle’ of change.” – Jean Barrot

 “Punk is the admission that music has got nothing left to say, but money can still be made out of total artistic bankruptcy with all its surrogate substitutes for create self-expression in our daily lives.” – Dave and Stuart Wise

 In May 2013 Randy Kennedy offered up this working definition of arts activism “Known primarily as social practice, its practitioners freely blur the lines among object making, performance, political activism, community organizing, environmentalism and investigative journalism, creating a deeply participatory art that often flourishes outside the gallery and museum system.” If you’ve kept a batting eye on contemporary art practice in the twenty first century, you’ll have taken note of ‘arts activism’ and social practices growing ubiquitous- nearly a buzzword, if you will. 

 When I Google the term ‘activism’ it delivers the concept as a noun: “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.”

 The world is in a dark place: we are constantly pursuing wars, the tides are rising from the ice melting and the bees are ‘dropping likes flies.’ That is not to touch on the scroll of atrocities we’ve experienced, witnessed and (in certain cases) had a hand in over this summer alone.

 But one does have to wonder – are all of these groups and activists truly living up to their mission? Do they at least even try? Or is it some term to be tossed around, as it is timely and, say, hip.  And when activism (if it was ever that to begin with) becomes controlled and operated at an administrative level it becomes denounced from its position and is instead bathed, shaven and cologne to become a charity.

 Oscar Wilde penned on charity:

 “[Charity] is not a solution [to poverty]: it is an aggravation of the difficulty.”  

 Theoretically, the cultural tidal wave of social practice and arts activism is amazing.

We could use help to awaken change for the better. We could benefit from the arts divine morphology to help us grow.

Let me make this clear – I want to believe in arts activism, I want to have faith in social practices. In certain cases, I full-heartedly do. As much social justice as possible as quickly as can be done, please.

 Yet my experience over the past four years of working in these fields has made me weary. Numerous artists whom I’ve had the privilege of interviewing have expressed an identical concern – not that they are afraid of being tagged as activists for a thirst for a more conservative audience, but that they do not want to be associated with something that is being packaged, bought and sold like frozen TV dinners.

 It often seems like activism has spawned into something people want a hand in to say that they have one for the sake of possession and association, like the newest piece of technology or a moral compass purely for ownership, not for use.

 Heartbreakingly, activism has been castrated into neither a medium nor a message. It is another pawn to be played in the game of marketing, PR and advertising.

 This is not to dissuade social justice fighters; it is to encourage genuine positive social change as a verb, not an adjective.

 It is not enough for a title or category if it does not put its tautology as its primary means and motivation. It should consider itself a failure if it has not done what its claim facades.         

 One cannot due this under the system plumbing of bureaucracy, but must do so despite of it.  It is not an aspect of the bureaucracy, and should never degrade itself to dance that dance.

 The mission, the crises, the cause must come before all else. It is to be the message and the medium.

 You can’t just say it, you have to show it.

You can’t just say it, you have to show it.

You can’t just say it, you have to show it.


the words come out in a cloud of whiskey,
another bearded stranger in a dingy bar
asking the one question that always sets my head reeling
where are you from?

would you understand if I said that the world is where I’m from,
that I change directions as easy as a leaf riding the wind?
that I need air and I go where it easiest to breathe?

would you laugh if I said I’m from love and when I want to go home, I go to where love is
and when that love hurts,
there is always somewhere else to go?

I have something everywhere and,
in the particular way my heart refuses to choose,
nothing anywhere

there is the place where my mother was in labor for 2 days before I was finally pulled screaming and bloody from her aching body
there are a few places where my younger self smiles out from dusty picture frames perched on aching wood dressers

there is the place that still has my blood stained on the carpet from a childhood accident
and the place with pencil marks on the walls charting my growth

there is the place where my heart was broken
and the one where it was fixed only to be broken worse

there is the place where I can find generations of my family, all the way down to grandparents buried side-by-side
and one where I doubt I even have a last name

there’s the place where I go when I need to forgive
and a different one where I go to forget

there is the place where my hand is always held and I never sleep alone
and the one where my bed takes up the entire room but I’m the only one ever in it

they are all different
and they are all mine

I try to make it sound beautiful because if it is not beautiful, it is lonely
and on certain days,
it is a twisted combination of both that leaves me aching with pain and love until they’re entirely indistinguishable
from each other

-Fortesa Latifi

Boobs With a Controller: A Real Big Deal


“Girl gamers.”  You’ll see memes all around the Internet.Type it into Google once and see what pops up. Make sure your mom isn’t in the room when you do either.

How the hell has this become such a phenomenon? Suddenly, everyone seemed to collectively realize that there was an entire different gender that had to spend their free time doing something other than sitting around waiting for the dust to settle.

Just in the last couple years it seems that somebody finally opened their eyes, came out of their dark bedroom, put down their controller and talked to a woman. Why is it such a big deal and such a desired trait? Women have been playing video games for years. We grew up with brothers and guy friends who played videogames all the damn time –is it so surprising that girls wanted to play the newest, latest thing too? Is it really such a shock that girls saw commercials for new consoles and new titles and wanted to do something other than play tea party?

Let me tell you something. It isn’t a big deal. Just because a woman does or doesn’t play videogames doesn’t make her more or less of a (desirable) person than any of her peers. Some girls love to play video games in dresses and heels, some love to play video games in jeans and combat boots. But society says in order for her to be a “true gamer girl” she has to clash with other societal norms of women. She has to dress down, she doesn’t wear make-up, she swears, she gets angry at the screen, she drinks Monster all night and wipes the Flaming Hot Cheetohs residue on her pants. She burps. She shits. She farts. She has to do all the above in order to be a true “gamer girl”.

But, guess what, she is still held to old societal standards when she isn’t gaming. She should be pretty and dress nice to meet the parents. She should cook. Be polite and petite. Wear make-up, take care of herself, make your guy friends jealous.

You’re asking for a robot and dismissing every woman who doesn’t fit this exact mold. And now women are doing it to each other–putting down other women who they don’t think are “worthy” enough to be called gamers so they can seem more desirable to gamer guys. It’s disgusting. Nobody should be putting down anybody. Gamer or not. Male or female. It’s as if the gaming culture is going through it’s own “middle school” stage where everyone is just crappy to each other and we need to stop it.

Okay, let’s switch topics. Enough of that, hopefully you get the point. If you don’t, re-read it or leave.

Now how do I feel about gender in video games?

The first thing I thought before I began my rant was, “maybe I’m just a bad feminist but women representations in video games don’t bother me.”

Thinking back on what I said, I was wrong. I’m not a bad feminist. I’m just a realist. Women representations in video games had never bothered me because that’s the way it has always been. I grew up with video games. My only choice was to play a male character. No matter what game I was playing, I was a male avatar (with one or two exceptions. Why was Mortal Kombat my favorite game? Jade –that’s why).

Lets imagine for a moment. What if that had been the other way around? What if there were only women leads. Could you imagine the shit that would have caused? How much of a backlash there would have been? “This is bullshit, I don’t want to play as a dumb chick.”

Again, my realism kicks in. I know about target markets. I realize how negatively this would have impacted the gaming industry. It would have never taken off like it has. Fine. I’ll forgive them that. I understand how marketing and advertising works. But the problem is –it hasn’t changed.

Only recently was there an uproar when Ubisoft said that creating a female character in their new Assassin’s Creed game would have been double the work.

Isn’t that paid work? Do they have employees working for cookie crumbs? Isn’t that, like, your job?

Maybe it would have been double the work but it probably would have been double the revenue and double the good press and double the pay for workers who would have designed that game.

But guess what –they still didn’t do it because, no matter what, they know women who play that game are still going to buy it because it’s always been that way. We’ve always had to play male leads. We’re used to it and that is exactly the problem.