On Misogyny in Industrial Music

Industrial music patron saint Cosey Fanni Tutti.

In 1975, Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti consumed blood, semen and piss onstage in the UK. Government officials labeled them “the Wreckers of Civilization.” A female sex worker, Cosey examined “how men and women interact in a sexually charged/volatile manipulated situation” by fearlessly, shockingly putting her body on display. This was the beginning of industrial music, a genre rooted in taboo and transgression.

The tradition continued. In 1985, Coil’s cover of Tainted Love addressed the AIDS crisis at a time when huge stigma still surrounded the discussion. The release of the single constituted the first AIDS benefit in music history. In 1988, Skinny Puppy spoke out passionately about animal rights through a series of live shows that involved animal blood and graphic, distressing portrayals of vivisection. During the Siege of Sarajevo in 1995, Laibach’s NSK diplomatic passports literally saved lives by enabling people to escape from the war zone at a time when Bosnian passports weren’t considered valid. The giants of industrial used subversive tactics to challenge audiences and create new awareness.

Still from Suicide Commando’s “Die Motherfucker Die” music video

But something happened. Once industrial music had fully transitioned from avant-garde venues into nightclubs, the stench of Axe body spray began to dominate the subculture as a certain douchey, bro-tastic vibe emerged. Where the goth/industrial scene had once existed as a safe haven for artists, weirdos, outcasts, geeks, dreamers and rebels, a disturbing trend of sexism, racism and anti-intellectualism is driving people out.

Beards, Corsets and Jewels – Oh My!

Today’s “I’ll be in my bunk” moment brought to you by… fashion designer Katarzyna Konieczka! Previously featured on Coilhouse here and here, the Kraków-based fashion designer has outdone herself in this incredible collaboration with photographer Sylwia Markis, model Kwiesatz, and hair/makeup designer Katharina Armleder.

See the larger images here.

"I Have Your Heart" is LIVE!

Guys! “I Have Your Heart”, see a tale of love and organ transplantation by Molly Crabapple, Kim Boekbinder and Jim Batt (previously on Coilhouse) is live, and it was totally worth the wait! Check out the interview with the creators on BoingBoing, and watch the animation here:

Two Surreal Takes on Augmented Reality Glasses

In his fascinating article “The World Is Not Enough: Google and the Future of Augmented Reality,” Alexis Madrigal points out that the information displayed in the Google Glass demo that came out earlier this year is all rather banal: the weather, the time, an appointment, a text message, directions, interior directions (“within a bookstore? right.”), a location check on a friend, and a check-in.

Care for a darker, more dystopian view of what augmented reality glasses could bring? In addition to the numerous Google glass parodies (ADmented Reality being the best of these), and Episode Three of Black Mirror, titled “The Entire History of You,” here are two chilling examples.

The video above, Sight (via @sfslim), focuses on the creepiest aspects of dating with AR. The video below, made in 2010, shows AR as being eerily mundane. If you have a pair of 3D glasses lying around, there’s also this version!

"Metamorphosis" by TwistedLamb and Malakai

TwistedLamb is a unique fashion blog curated by Mary Lee that’s been featured on Coilhouse many times before. Malakai is a fashion designer and artist who first appeared in Coilhouse 05’s feature on Tiffa Novoa. The two teamed up recently to style Metamorphosis, a fashion editorial shot by Julia Comita, featuring the Malakai’s new headdresses and leather accessories by Zana Bayne. The editorial premiered on the TwistedLamb blog.

Zentai suits, sculptural headdresses, mermaid tails, aerial silks, abandoned buildings, and some poised, incredibly flexible model-performers… what more could you ask for? See the entire fashion series here.

Renegade Biker-Druid King Arthur Says "Take No Shit."

Vice profiles Arthur Uther Pendragon, a UK biker-turned-druid who is best known for forcing the British Government to allow public access to the Stonehenge during the Solstice holidays. Arthur’s case was heard at the European Court of Human Rights, and it is thanks to him that over 20,000 people – “around one third tourists, one third pilled-up teenagers in sportswear, and one third neo-druids” – come to party in and around the ancient monument each summer.

According to Wikipedia, Arthur, née John Timothy Rothwell, used to belong to an outlaw biker gang called The Gravediggers. He became known as “King John” after throwing parties at a ruined castle in Odiham that was colloquially known as “John’s Castle,” but became known as “King Arthur” in 1986 after coming to believe that he was a reincarnation of the legendary monarch. In the Vice article, Arthur good-naturedly discusses his memories of 16th 6th century England, knighting Ken Kesey and Johnny Rotten, and how he came to be in the possession of the sword Excalibur.

His last quote in the piece is particularly epic: “Stand. Stand and be counted. If you believe it, go for it. No regrets. Fight for truth, for honor and for justice. Take no shit.”

[via Bryce Jamison]

Better than Coffee: Nakotah LaRance

Columbus Day has been rebranded as many things – from Indigenous People’s Day to Imperialist Day to Exploration Day. To celebrate this holiday, we’ll be publishing a three-part series of blog posts by guest writer and Coilhouse Issue 01 contributor Rachel Waters, a.k.a. Io, about modern native art and culture.

Io writes, “I’ve gotten pretty weary of the Diane Sawyer/Lisa Ling poverty porn about natives and I felt it was time someone focused on the massive renaissance of native art/music/dance as it relates to decolonization and forging a 21st century native identity which pays homage to the traditional whilst being thoroughly cutting edge. I mean, these guys are creating genres of music like Powwow-Step, creating really strong public art, mixing breakdance and grass dance and holding Sacred Cypher competitions with all native hip-hop and dance troupes.”

The first piece in the series is going up imminently. For now, enjoy this video of hoop dancer Nakotah LaRance dancing to a song by New York-based electronic duo The Knocks. LaRance, 23, is a six-time world hoop dancing championship winner who was just 19 years old when Cirque du Soleil discovered a video of one of his performances, and invited him to go on tour. In this video, Nakotah takes to the desert to perform a stunning dance routine. [via Io]

Eijiro Miyama, Japan's Kawaii-est Older Gentleman

Photo by Geoffrey Gray

Eijiro Miyama, also known as B?shi Ojisan (“Hat Man”) or Harajuku Ojisan, is an outsider artist living in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. He’s known for crafting strange hats adorned with dolls, live goldfish, candy wrappers and other adornments.

From l’Art Brut, Lausanne:

Eijiro Miyama was born in Mie Prefecture, Japan. A loner, he never married and has always led a wandering sort of existence. He has had various jobs, notably as a day labourer in the construction industry and as a lorry driver. When he was around fifty-five, he settled in one of the boarding houses for impoverished working men in Yokohama’s Kotobuki district, where the unemployed and the socially excluded, homeless, tend to congregate. Today, aged seventy-four, he divides his time between free karaoke and his parades in town : every Saturday and Sunday, Eijiro Miyama goes to the Chinese district in Yokohama, a very lively place. There he meanders through the crowd on his bike, decked out in his brightly coloured hats and clothing, with messages of peace and fraternity written on cardboard packaging attached to his back.

One day, about ten years ago, Eijiro Miyama walked around with a cup of instant noodles on his head. People turned to stare as he went by. This act, provocative and liberating, gave him a huge feeling of exaltation. He gradually created eccentric headgear that he adorned with toys and sundry objects found discarded at flea markets. But this creator also applies his ingenuity to the clothes bought at jumble sales that he dons for his weekly appearances, turning his body into a support for expression.

Here he is being photographed by the Gothic Lolitas of Japan. Awww! More images and information herehereherehere, here, here, and here.

Photo by Gregory Flynn.

More images, after the cut!

“I am so goth, I was born black.”

Clockwise: Ms. Sally Bonetta Forbes, Cathleen Naundorf, Untitled (check out the rest of the “gothic lolita” tag as well), Roni Zulu

While there’s still never been a black model on the cover of Gothic Beauty Magazine (in fact, having looked the past twelve years of covers up close, it’s clear that even models with brown eyes appear to be a rarity among the blue- and green-eyed cover ladies), and while most spooky fashion designers still prefer white models for their branding, a host of blogs dedicated to multicultural dark fashion are bringing greater visibility to the people that these venues ignore. Just on Tumblr, there’s Darque & Lovely, DarkSKIN (subtitled “I was so goth, I was born black), and Black Sheep Goths. On Facebook, groups such as Black/African American Goths foster lively discussion.

Of the Tumblr communities, Black Sheep focuses most specifically on people who are othered (providing a platform for “queer/fat/trans/non-binary/disabled/POC” goths), while DarkSKIN delves most deeply into different time periods (from Victorian photographs to seventies album covers to a friend’s most recently-uploaded snapshots), pop culture personalities taking a turn for the macabre (from Eartha Kitt singing “I want to be evil” to Aaliyah playing a sultry Anne Rice vampire) and media (from high-end fashion shoots to grainy self-portraits)

Many of the images come with empowering and, at times, defensive captions. It seems that even in 2012, some try to claim that the goth scene belongs to white people only. One caption on the Darque & Lovely blog, below an image of tattoo artist Roni Zulu, reads: “this is for the chicken-shit anon who said black people shouldn’t ‘do’ goth or punk. At certain points in history to be black in America was (still can be) a pretty gothic experience, to say the least.”

Clockwise: Asha Beta/Silentinfinite collaboration, Neon Leon, photo by Mert and Marcus, Actress Vonetta McGee as Princess Luva in Blacula, photo copyright Everett Collection / Rex Features

Is the goth scene unfriendly to people with dark skin? What do non-white goths think about the fetishization of paleness in the gothic subculture?

“The only time I experienced anything racial in the scene was at Death Guild [a San Francisco goth night],” says Shamika “Meeks” Baker, a San Francisco-based writer, artist and model. “A guy walked up to me, shouted ‘scuse me!’ and shoved me aside. Of couse, when I grabbed the back of his Fun Fur coat and yanked him back to demand an apology, he started screaming ‘get your black hands off of me!’ Happily, after I finished scaring him and turned around, I discovered several of my friends behind me and ready to back me up. [Other than that incident], I’ve found that the goth scene has been really welcoming and open.”

“For me, the fetishization of paleness in beauty in general is very much a class issue as opposed to straight race,” says New York-based artist/maker Numidas Prasarn. “The ‘ideal gothic beauty’ of being pale comes from this sense of otherness. When mainstream de mode is tanned beach babe, the pale contrast is taken up as the signifier of an Other that defensively puffs itself up. The problem is that it’s a microcosm that doesn’t necessary carry the sense of self-awareness to realize that it’s also othering people.”

Clockwise: Amanda Tea, Barron Claiborne, Leif Podhajsky, Unknown from Burning Man by Iñaki Vinaixa

Asha Beta, a sculptor, jewelry designer and musician currently living in Prescott, Arizona, comments on her invisibility within a community that borrows aesthetics from her cultural heritage:

The “traditional” ideal of the scene as the pale-faced, black-clad individual definitely never applied to me, but because of my instant and deep connection and attraction to the music and atmosphere of the scene I had to set that aside. I always felt that I was not perceived to be as attractive, as beautiful or even as “goth” as girls who were paler than me. I never attracted many suitors and I reconciled myself to never being able to approach the “gothic ideal of beauty” very early on, although I felt within myself that my personal way of being “goth” was very sincere and creative and very much true to what “goth” was all about. The one part of the scene that obviously made me uncomfortable was the military/Nazi/Aryan faction of it, although I understand that for many of those people it was a fetish or history obsession type of thing, and not necessarily based in racism.

Many of the aesthetics of goth culture are taken from my cultural heritage (Asian/East Indian/Middle Eastern, African/Egyptian/Voodoo/Haitian-Caribbean) so I still felt and feel strongly that my connection to it is natural and instinctive and powerful. It was achingly difficult to be a minority within the subculture I deeply loved because it’s within these that we find acceptance and understanding where the larger society rejects us. I was a loner within the scene just as I was in society. I found a personal solace and creative outlet, but I never found the community I was searching for. I am overjoyed to finally see our subcultures mirroring the multicultural quality of our world, and so glad to see the younger generations of subcultures finding and creating communities to connect with and support one another.

Meeks Baker agrees. “I love that more emerging blogs/sites focus on us dark-skinned gothy types. To be honest, I never really cared much for gothic beauty magazines because they didn’t really reflect my aesthetic, but I did still feel marginalized. To this day I am thrilled to see ethnic diversity represented in alternative culture.”

Help Build a Hackerspace in Baghdad!

GEMSI’s 3D printing workshop in Baghdad with TEDxBaghdad

A Kickstarter project (currently in its last 7 hours!) hopes to foster innovation, learning and creativity in ravaged post-war Iraq. Bay Area-based maker Bilal Ghalib, the creator of GEMSI (the Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space Initiative), is raising funds on Kickstarter to create a popup hackerspace in Baghdad.

As part of the initiative, GEMSI is collecting stories from “everyday superheroes” living in Baghdad who have used DIY hacks to solve problems in their neighborhoods. One such story, Murtadha Fills In, has already been published in comic form on GEMSI’s site. During the two-day hackerspace event, GEMSI will host skillshares, talks, and workshops structured around the collected stories. The stories will be also be published in a graphic novel available in both Arabic and English.

GEMSI workshop in Cairo during Maker Faire Africa 2011. Photo by Mitch Altman

“The challenges that Iraq faces are vast, but the solutions to those challenges are already inside the country,” says Ghalib in the Kickstarter video. Ultimately, Ghalib hopes that collaborative community spaces become more prevalent in Africa and the Middle East. In the Kickstarter project description, he describes his vision for Baghdad:

Imagine you are a young Iraqi student, just graduating college. Opportunities to work in the country are few, and working outside Iraq is difficult due to strict visa requirements. Your country still experiences violence weekly, while also facing many technical challenges characteristic of a developing country. You want to build the country, you want to share – but you feel isolated. You hear about a group of people who have an open space near the center of town where you can build almost anything. One day you decide to see what it’s about. There, you find others like you: looking at the world around them and thinking about how they can start creating solutions. They are creating open source medical devices, filling potholes in city roads, creating clean street initiatives, or making alternative energy products to fix the intermittent power issues of Baghdad. These are people taking initiative. They are looking to take ownership of their cities and build the change they want to see – serving their communities on the most direct level. At this open space, you have finally found a home to put your talents and energy to work. You’ve found a group you can trust, they are courageous, curious, and want to help you create a better future. You feel happy, you feel capable, you’ve found your people.

GEMSI’s Kickstarter campaign deadline coincides with YouTube disaster “The Innocence of Muslims” (a diametrically opposite example of American-made grassroots activism aimed at the Muslim world) and Newsweek’s incendiary “Muslim Rage” magazine cover (which has been deconstructed beautifully by Twitter).

It’s at times like this – when governments and news media fail on both sides fail to repair the damage – that we need to step up, use crowdfunding, set up our own workshops, and help one another. So – hackers of the world unite. Donate here.