"The erasures are transformational, I think, in that they mutate the original messages of the statements into my own vision of the truth behind them. It’s sort of like wetting a sheet of paper covered in invisible ink and seeing the message hidden there."Read More
Every May 1st, one can perform the May Day Magic ritual to spiritually crown another and receive a crown in return in three steps. One simply creates a magical space, symbolically crowns another, and closes the space.Read More
The Brown Orient's mission is to publish and amplify marginalized voices of women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and non binary folks, especially Brown Asians who are sorely underrepresented, misrepresented, and silenced in the literary and arts communities, in the media, and the global narrative altogether.Read More
Parts of the book are funny and romantic, writing that's easy; the parts about sexual violence were difficult to write. I had to envision the darkness, conduct in-depth research, interview psychotherapists, recall some victim confessions from over a decade ago, and feel the sense of betrayal and shame that a sexual assault survivor might actually feel. I wanted to write with sensitivity without patronizing anyone.Read More
Paper, pen, stapler. Your voice.Read More
Joanna C. Valente is a ghost who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and Sexting Ghosts (Unknown Press, 2018). They are the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017), and received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared in Brooklyn Magazine, BUST, Them, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere.Read More
Aquamarine Space Unicorns is an awe-inspiring musical experience that sends you on an ethereal and unearthly trip to a galaxy far, far away from this god-forsaken world where mystical unicorns exist and are sometimes creatures that bellow like banshees, other times they soothe you like sirens, but never, ever are they tame in their songs that roar and fight for the oppressed and the marginalized. They graciously invited me to their magical woodland so I could interview them about their upcoming LP She Persisted (The Brink).Read More
... @thewildflowerpower is a vibrant archive of green things..Read More
Peter Milne Greiner's work has been featured in Motherboard, Dark Mountain, Fence, SciArt Magazine, and elsewhere, and has been lauded by the likes of Jeff VanderMeer and Claire L. Evans. He studied poetry at The New School under Sekou Sundiata, and is a scholar of the history of the Roaring Forties. In July of 2013 he sent a poem into space through the Jamesburg Earth Station in Carmel Valley, California. He is the author of the chapbook Executive Producer Chris Carter. LOST CITY HYDROTHERMAL Field is his first full length collection.Read More
Poet and performer Valerie Hsiung is the author of three full-length poetry collections: e f g: a trilogy (Action Books, 2016), incantation inarticulate (O Balthazar Press, 2013), and under your face (O Balthazar Press, 2013). Her poetry and interviews can be found or is forthcoming in an array of places, including American Letters & Commentary, Apiary, Black Nerd Problems, Cloud Rodeo, Cosmonauts Avenue, Bone Bouquet, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Diode Poetry Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Mad Hatters’ Review, Moonshot, New Delta Review, PEN Poetry Series, Prelude, RealPoetik, Tammy, and VOLT. She has performed at Casa Libre en la Solana, Common Area Maintenance, Leon Gallery, Poetic Research Bureau, Rhizome, Shapeshifter Lab, and Treefort Music Festival, among elsewhere. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Hsiung studied literary translation at Brown University and is currently based out of Brooklyn, New York, where she works as a modern-day matchmaker. She serves as an editor for Poor Claudia.Read More
"We exchanged energy and it was definitely a trade I’m grateful for."Read More
BY LISA MARIE BASILE
Editor's Note: Theia Mania is a book of poetry by Dallas Athent with illustrations by Maria Pavlovska (Black Square Editions). This book is fiercely feminine, self-empowered, loud, brash, beautiful, and filled with references to gods and the Divine. Here. I interviewed Dallas and Maria about their collaboration and their work.
INTERVIEW WITH DALLAS ATHENT
LISA MARIE BASILE: Ah, the binary. I am addicted to it and your work explores it so well. It's bikinis versus god and bars versus transcendence and the problematic versus self-empowerment. Except here, the light always seems to win. Was that a conscious choice?
DALLAS ATHENT: I used to believe in good and evil. After my studies ofThe Golden Dawn and Platonic elements, I began believing instead in light and dark. Light elements are things that are connected to the divine, the higher powers, spirituality. Dark matter is that which makes us mortal. It's what drives us to be gluttons. This book is really a study of both states. Light doesn't always win because it is "good," per say, it wins because making art is a struggle for our dark matter to be connected to higher powers.
LISA MARIE BASILE: There's not a lot of subversion here, although on first read I thought there was. I think you're screaming, HEAR ME. And I love it. I don't see a lot of work that encounters radical self strength with such bravado. Tell me, were there weaknesses and fears and vulnerabilities you grappled with while writing this?
DALLAS ATHENT: At one point during this I was laid off from my job the same week I was closing on my apartment. It was a hard week for me and that's where on the one hand I was celebrating an accomplishment, but it felt fake, not knowing if I could really afford this thing I had been working towards. A lot of the darker poems were written during that week, and the ones that are more about me feeling like I can do anything were written when I got myself out of the hole.
LISA MARIE BASILE: So, you keep mentioning England. How did England shape you IRL?
DALLAS ATHENT: I love England. I lived there for a short while and I'm always trying to move back. I adore pub culture. A lot of my friends talk about wanting to visit warm places, and how beautiful beaches are, but for me the most natural state is in the corner of a pub on a rainy day with a book and a pint.
LISA MARIE BASILE: You say, "the purpose of art is horror," and I think that's fucking magic. I agree, but I haven't seen it put so succinctly. Tell me about this idea. Did you aim to horrify?
DALLAS ATHENT: The poem that's taken from is about making art, and trying to leave a mark through doing so. That being the last line was just me thinking of how hard we try and end up nowhere. It's like a beautiful nightmare.
LISA MARIE BASILE: I feel like this book is like if contemporary feminist discourse had a baby with the baddest, most rebellious, most sassy Lana Del Rey video ever. It's all girls and alcohol and scum and the body, but it's elevated with these ideas of divinity and Theia and the powerful feminine. How do you approach talking about BIG IDEAS in such an aesthetic way? I know when I was writing Apocryphal, I wanted this landscape of cars and deserts and fabrics and gardens and beaches and fires and tropics, but at the end of it, that was a character all meant to juxtapose the grandiose shit. What about you? Was this landscape and aesthetic conscious or not? Or was it just, "I love these things. They're real to me?"
DALLAS ATHENT: That's a great question. And I actually feel the same way about Apocryphal. You managed to create this classic, desperate, suburban summer on a coast feel — but used that landscape to illustrate what it's like being a young woman.
For Theia Mania, I've always loved cities and lived in cities. I'm obsessed with places where there's so many people and they all live so close to each other but don't actually know each other and have such drastically different lives. I just like how that contributes to the concept of trying to make art to be someone. It's a constant reminder that we will fade into the fabric of the earth no matter how well known we are.
LISA MARIE BASILE: (Thanks, Dallas). I've heard you talk about Yeats before. You write, "there is an oppressive veil separating us from the stars and Yeats." Can you tell me more?
DALLAS ATHENT: A while ago I read this essay titled the The Gnostics by Jacques Lacarriere. What I got from it was that the Gnostics believed there was a veil that separated us from all that is holy and divine, and that's why mortality is always doomed. Because we're always trying to see everything behind the veil but can never possibly. Yeats, being everyone's favorite Golden Dawn member, and a true inspiration to me, seems to have been someone who has achieved crossing the veil. It was a little line to give him a nod.
LISA MARIE BASILE: What does Theia mean to you?
DALLAS ATHENT: Theia Mania is a Platonic theory about how people who are experiencing horrible things, like heartbreak, are brought closer to the divine in those moments, and that's why we make great art. That state is really what the book is about, along with the dualities of being mortal and immoral, and trying to leave a mark on the world. That's how it got its title.
INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST MARIA PAVLOVSKA
LISA MARIE BASILE: Your pictures evoke chaos, but they seem finely, painstakingly deliberate. I'd love to learn about how you approached these works for this book.
MARIA PAVLOVSKA: There is a series of 30 drawings, which was one piece related to each other from the first one to the 30th. Altogether it is one story. They are not meant to be viewed individually, but as a collection. They were originally conceived as part of a show "Black and White Diaries," which included also large canvasses. I wanted to show, as I always do, the progression from drawing to painting.
LISA MARIE BASILE: Something I realized about this book is that there really is a balance between the good/bad or holy/not holy polarity. In your work, I sense that you contributed in a big way to that feeling. I find it very hard to strike a balance; how do you, as an artist, find that median?
MARIA PAVLOVSKA: My work translates topics of choice into pictorial language that demonstrate a quietly powerful eloquence. My drawings and paintings reflect painting as a battlefield, where light and darkness fight and the result is unpredictable.
One sees the lightning bolts of ideas at work, as they are being worked out. That is the balance I look for. This sort of simultaneous image /process / results in a dialectic that lies frozen in space, stimulating the viewer to actively participate in the image creation themselves by way of investigation, inviting myriad readings within a given theme.
LISA MARIE BASILE: You're from Macedonia. What about the culture inspires your work? Is there something you're bringing to your work — and Dallas' poetry — that is related to Macedonia in some way?
MARIA PAVLOVSKA: My inspiration does not specifically reflect my Macedonian heritage. I draw inspiration from who I am and how I see the world, in me and around me, and this is more of a global perspective. The people that see my work, whether they are in Berlin, Vienna, Belgrade, Paris or NYC derive this universal feeling from the art as unique.
LISA MARIE BASILE: What does Theia mean to you? Who is she in your work?
MARIA PAVLOVSKA: In my work, the contrast between light and dark, shadow and brightness, is evident. Theia, the Titaness, has several distinctions: brightness, uprightness, belief. Theia is a good omen.
LISA MARIE BASILE: Each of the works in this book feel like they're unraveling to some sort of secret that I finally learn. Can you tell me a secret?
MARIA PAVLOVSKA: As the viewer can notice, there is a lot of writing in my work. You cannot really make out the words or read it, as it's not a poem or a thought that needs to be read. I need to write inside during my work as the thoughts are coming from me, and i'ts part of the composition. In the end it is part of the piece. So in that sense, it is a kind of secret (obvious secret).
LISA MARIE BASILE: How do you make art from literature, like this? Is it a translation? Or a collaboration?
MARIA PAVLOVSKA: It is a collaboration as Dallas in one of her visits to the studio noticed the drawings realizing that they relate to her poems, and they seem to compliment each other. The drawings already existed, they were not created for the book, but, they seemed to fit with her poems perfectly (what I draw and explain with the lines, she writes and explains with words). We commented that my work would work well with her poems and that we could create this remarkable, new book Theia Mania.
Note: The images above were part of Pavlovska's Black & White Diaries concept. They were developed in a two-month residency studio Pavlovska won in 2014 at Cite Des Arts in Paris. The works were displayed at DRAWING ROOMS Gallery in New York City at the group show "Automatic - Systematic" in May 2014 and then shown at MANA CONTEMPORARY Open House in January 2015.
Dallas Athent is an art reviewer for At Large Magazine, a board member of Nomadic Press and the editor of the short story collection, Bushwick Nightz. Her writing has appeared in Buzzfeed Community, PACKET Bi-Weekly, PANK Magazine, VIDA Reports from the Field, BUST Magazine, Yes Poetry & more. She has been an editor for Bushwick Daily and Luna Luna Magazine. Her work has been profiled in Bedford + Bowery of New York Magazine, Brooklyn Based, Brooklyn Magazine, Papermag among others.
Maria Pavlovska was born in Skopje, Macedonia (Former Yugoslavia) in 1975. BA and MA she receved at the Faculty of Fine Art in Skopje, Macedonia. Her work has been featured around the globe in over 28 solo shows and more than 100 group international exhibitions including Art Basel Miami, The Kunsthalle-Vienna and Kunsthalle-Krems (Austria), Gallery Lang (Vienna), Cite Internationale des Arts, The Dock (Paris), Museum of Contemporary Art, The National Gallery, Museum of the City - Skopje (Macedonia), City House in Nurnberg (Germany), Station Gallery, Gallery MC, The Open Space Gallery, Citibank (New York), FLA Gallery (Connecticut), Viota Gallery (San Juan - Puerto Rico), Prima Center (Berlin), MANA Contemporary and Drawing Rooms (New Jersey). Her work is held in private and public collections worldwide, including embassies, museums, galleries and libraries.
Obviously I was head over heels for THE VVITCH and the coven in that. MALEFICENT is another hero of mine and I still can't believe that Disney made her film anti-patriarchy rape survival story. I love Faye Dunaway in SUPERGIRL as the witch who lives in a funhouse. My very favorite kind of witches are the earthy Satanic dirt witches who live on the outskirts of society and exist solely to terrify and oppose men—women like Meg Foster in LORDS OF SALEM, the witch in the '80s classic SUPERSTITION (it's amazing, try to find it and watch it!), and Gaga in AMERICAN HORROR STORY. I personally identify as a Satanic feminist witch and these ladies give me life. But so do the Sanderson Sisters in HOCUS POCUS. From the witches of childhood stories to the witch heroes in the movies I love today, I can't get enough of powerful women existing in spite of society, being fabulous, and twisting mens' folly to their will. And, like I and three other drag queens endlessly argued over in our intro to THE CRAFT, I am indeed the Nancy.Read More
BY LISA MARIE BASILE
When I watched The Love Witch for the first time, I was fucking floored. Here was this aesthetically gorgeous, feminist, totally nuanced, witchcraft-focused, super kitschy, sexual, glamorous, dark piece of cinema — directed by a woman.
Before I watched it, I realized most people buzzing about it on social media had nothing but absolute praise for it. It's not like any film I've ever seen — and it requires a viewer to let go and just fall into its beauty and the binaries it presents around feminism and patriarchal brainwash. I also felt it was high-time a movie deal with witchcraft in a way that didn't involve overtly goth dress and changing hair colors for fun (looking at you, The Craft), wiggling noses, or inaccurate mixups with Satanist ideologies.
I also know that the director Anna Biller (who is also the production designer, editor, producer, composer, and costume designer), took her time to study witchcraft, which makes it so delicious. I was honored to be able to speak with Anna Biller — about how much I love her work and the nuances found in it. And please read Luna Luna's review of the film here.
Lisa Marie Basile: What drew me to The Love Witch was the fact that it was about a witch, of course, but also the fact that you so unapologetically used glamor and aesthetic as its own character. How do you think its unique look enhances the way the viewer emotionally reacts to the film?
Audiences respond to cinematic images very strongly, no matter what those images are. What’s strange about many movies today is how hard they try to seem unmediated — undesigned, unlit, as if the actors are just “there” and it’s all real, like makeup that takes an hour to put on to make it look as though you’re not wearing any makeup. But these are all choices. Deciding not to have glamour in your movie, not to have aesthetics look like aesthetics – that’s a choice too. I love glamour, so I use it. It’s a personal choice. It’s what I like to see on the screen. But in the kind of lighting I like, it’s not only people that are glamorous. Objects are glamorous too — chairs, mirrors, stairways, gardens. Beautiful lighting and design does produce heightened emotions. It also enhances the story because the audience is being told what to focus on through what is treated with the best shots and lighting.
Lisa Marie Basile: The Love Witch is interesting in that it can be (I think, very wrongfully) passed off as anti-feminist when viewed under the wrong lens. Obviously, this film is all about subversion. With so many people talking about the Bechdel test (which this film passes!) for film, how do you feel about it?
Anna Biller: If think if people are seeing the film as anti-feminist, then they’re either confused about what feminism is or they’re not seeing the film at all. The entire content of the film is about a woman’s life being destroyed by being made into a sex object within a patriarchal system.
Lisa Marie Basile: I know you asked people to stop saying the acting is 'wooden' and you asked people not to assume it takes place in the 1960s. Can you tell me a little about the way you approached the film and why you made these choices?
Anna Biller: I made the choices I made for the same reason anyone makes choices for their film: because they fit the story I was trying to tell, and because of my own sense of aesthetics. As for the acting, it’s good acting done by trained classical actors.
Lisa Marie Basile: What do you think of people who criticize the film for being filled with beautiful girls for the most part? From feminists I know who loved and saw the film, a few (of course, not all) said that was one element that did bug them.
I'm wondering if that was more than a typical silverscreen-casting call — and more an explicit attempt at capturing some of that narcissism and female sexual power you're exploring?
What’s wrong with beautiful girls? What’s antifeminist about that, unless feminists actually buy into a sexist stereotype that only unattractive women can be feminists? That’s really shocking to me. I love to look at beautiful women on the screen. It has nothing to do with catering to what men like and want to see. Also, a very high proportion of working actresses are attractive. Many directors don’t have their beautiful actresses wear a lot of makeup or dress in cute clothes. Does that make those directors more feminist-friendly?
Shouldn’t people look at the text, and not at what the actresses look like and what they are wearing? What kinds of messages are women sending when they become obsessed about the appearance of women on the screen rather than focusing on the complex characters they are portraying? Also, what do these objectors think of the character of Trish? She is Elaine’s foil, a woman who does not base her value on her looks. And Elaine, the one who is obsessed with her looks, ends up being the one whose values are questioned in the movie. That’s why I say that if people think the film is anti-feminist, they’re not following the narrative.
But as I said earlier, I do love glamour, and I’m not going to apologize for that. I am deliberately trying to bring back dignity and pleasure to glamour, which is something that used to give women a great deal of pleasure before they started having to feel guilty about it. It’s actually a political stance. It’s about not being ashamed of being a woman and looking feminine, and about not privileging a male or genderless mode of self-presentation as being better. It’s not better or worse, it’s just another choice. If we are truly liberated, we should be able to take pleasure in any mode of self-presentation we choose, and we should absolutely not have to apologize or feel ashamed for being born with a good bone structure!
But as I said earlier, I do love glamour, and I’m not going to apologize for that. I am deliberately trying to bring back dignity and pleasure to glamour, which is something that used to give women a great deal of pleasure before they started having to feel guilty about it.
Lisa Marie Basile: I recently wrote an article about witchcraft as self-care — and part of that reasoning is that people are finally coming to understand that it's not just hocus-pocus, that it's not only real, but that there can be a feminist, empowering element to it. Your film explores both ends of the spectrum. The magic and feminism — the tampon soaked in urine and the body as power, but also the desperate need for male approval and love through the Craft. How did you approach that binary, and why was it important to you to explore both?
Elaine’s need for respect and love is a primary human need, especially for people who were raised without love. What I have found is that women often turn to witchcraft to find personal power, which is how Elaine came to it. But she also came to it out of desperation, which is always a bad way to approach any kind of religion.
Lisa Marie Basile: I felt that The Love Witch had this Lynchian quality — there were plenty of scenes that had an eerie, uncomfortable undertone. A disconnect from reality, perhaps? It slowly creeps under your skin. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Lynch and your filmmaking inspirations in general.
I’m actually interested in reality much more than I’m interested in disconnecting from it, although I like to construct an alternate reality with cinema. I’ve often been compared to Lynch, but I think he is trying to point out the weird in the everyday, and I am more trying to point out the mythic in the everyday. But I do agree that my work can be eerie.
I think the eeriness comes from the mix of strong, sincere emotions and heightened visuals, along with a slight sense of detachment from the whole thing. When I’m making a film I almost feel as if I am dead, I am that much in a trance. So I am looking down at the whole thing from a great height as if it has nothing to do with me, and I am just a spirit medium teasing the film out of the ether, but it’s based on all the things that happened to me in life and mediated magically through the media of script, acting, lighting, film, and editing.
Elaine’s need for respect and love is a primary human need, especially for people who were raised without love.
Lisa Marie Basile: I respect so much that your film explains witchcraft as a way to manifest intent. I know you studied witchcraft when making this film. Have you thought that previous films showcased witchcraft incorrectly, as something different?
Witchcraft as a way of manifesting intent comes from modern Wicca and from Aleister Crowley. It’s how real practicing witches think of witchcraft. I’ve rarely seen any film that deals with witchcraft the way it’s actually practiced, except maybe the original version of The Wicker Man.
Lisa Marie Basile: [READERS BEWARE: SPOILER ALERT]
When Elaine kills Griff (and when Wayne dies), it is unclear to me how Elaine feels. I struggle with this a lot — and I've watched it a few times. Maybe that's because Elaine herself is both dark and light ("you have two selves," says Wayne). Is she capable of feeling loss? Is she mourning these men's imperfections and rejections?
I think that when Wayne dies, she is very sad. But it’s not the type of sad one usually feels when mourning a death; it’s more the type of sad when you’ve broken your new toy, and now you are bored because you have nothing to play with. So it’s “narcissistic sad.” When Griff dies she’s not sad — she’s more relieved. Now she’s done away with the obstacle of the real man who argues with her and refuses to tell her he loves her, and she instead has the imaginary man, who says he loves her, marries her, and carries her away on a white unicorn. So at this point she has completely lost touch with reality.
Lisa Marie Basile: I've heard a lot of comparisons between Elaine and Lana Del Rey, which is interesting (I LOVE them both) — and between The Love Witch and Lana Del Rey's sensibilities. What do you think?
I don’t know. They’re both pretty girls with long brown hair who dress ‘60s. It’s a pretty superficial comparison. I like Lana’s look and aesthetic a lot, though.
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