Quipu Womb

The most impressive artwork in EMST venue of Documenta14 in Athens within the category of spectacles was the artwork of the Chilean Cecilia Vicuna (b. 1948), Quipu Womb (the story of the Red Thread) (2017), Dyed Wool (fig. 18). It took almost two floors of the building, and it was visually impressive. Cecilia Vicuna presented a soft sculpture, quipped, (an ancient pre-Columbian art of the quipu) a form of writing involving intricated knotting patterns. Vicuna referred to these particular works as quipoems- a contraction of poem and quipu (Documenta14, 2017g). This particular quipu consisted of giant strands of untreated wool, sourced from a local Greek provider and dyed a bright red of honour of a synthetic religious tradition that via the umbilical cord of menstrual symbolism-connects an Andean mother goddess with the maritime mythologies of ancient Greece (Documenta14, 2017g).

Vicuna’s artwork entailed all the concepts that run in this exhibition including, language, rhythm, Greek history and global traditions. Additionally, it gave the extra value of this most spectacular piece of artwork that has been made by a woman dealing with woman’s body function. The most hidden and taboo function, the woman’s period, which in many societies is perceived as dirt, becomes in Vicuna’s hand a poem, a celebration.

IMG_5161Fig. 18: Photo: Dia Mexi, 2017

 

Extract from Dia Mexi’s MA Thesis “Documenta14: Learning From Athens: How to Unlearn What to Expect From A Contemporary Art Exhibition”

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For Most of History, Anonymous was a Woman

The other day, I had dinner with one of my new friends, a prominent female figure in her country, Kazakhstan. We talked about many things and mostly we were exchanging small information about our past as it happens in every new relationship.

She was telling me stories about her family and images-1how they coped after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Kazakhstan from the motherland Russia. She described this period as “the years of starvation”. No jobs,no money,no food.

Interestingly, she mentioned herself and her sister as the main force of rescuing her family. They went out to find any kind of job they were able to do in order to support their mother and 3 brothers. And they weren’t the only women that they did so. During this harsh period, mostly the women went to work  as unskilled workers, no matter of their education and status. The men, like her brothers, stayed at home cocooning with company their pride. My friend added “sometimes women didn’t want their man to work in low skilled jobs, so they took all the responsibility, in order to protect them from humiliation”.

During my friend’s story telling, I was contemplating about the women in Greece of the crisis and the uncountable examples of Greek educated women who are working in supermarkets cash counters, painting jobs … Many of them are the sole breadwinners of their family because they Can(for multiple reasons).

When the real crisis knocks the door, the masks come off and we can see how far we have come from the time that Virginia Woolf said “for most of history, Anonymous was a woman”.

Lean In

Lean In is the title of the new book of the wonder woman of the Facebook Sheryl Sandberg. In her book and new website, she urges women to create a supportive circle among them, in order to move forward in their career, their life and even to get help with their problems.  A concept that in many ways,  women and people in general, who are in a weaker and underprivileged position have already adopted it in order to carry on with their everyday life.

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The first time I came across  a very sound supportive circle of women was the  Georgian women in Greece. After the collapse of their country’s financial system, many  women came alone-most of them without husbands and family- from Georgia to work, either as cleaners or looking after elderly people in Greece. They created a supportive cluster among them  by sharing apartments, finding jobs to each other, replacing each other in their shifts when a problem was arising and generally being supportive physically and emotionally to each other. Since I have quite a few acquaintances among those women,  I’m watching their way of life all these years and I noticed that they are getting happier by being altogether and trying to support their families back to their country.

51bRawVMdcL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_Another example of a supportive circle of women that I came across, this time in a novel, was in Elis Shafak’s (turkish writer) book  “The Bastard of Istanbul” . The theme mainly is based on a circle of women  living  in the same house. After the death of the men in an extended family, the women decided to live the same house  and support each other. At the beginning, I found a bit unbelievable the story but when I asked my mother, who has extended family in Turkey and she has experienced their way of life, she reassured me that it is not at all strange in this society, for women to live together or at least to have a very strong supportive circle among them.

Living in Kazakhstan lately, I realized that the above phenomenons are not limited to the female circles. Everyone , in some way, depends on  each other for carrying out everyday tasks. The oxymoron is that despite the widespread reputation of Kazakhstani being corrupted, the common people really support each other. It took by surprise the fact of how easily trust each other. An illustrative example is the way of finding a taxi : simply by raising one’s hand to stop the first car that passes  – the way we are doing hitchhike in the West. When I asked my Kazakhstani friends, how they  trust a totally stranger to drive them , they responded by shrugging their shoulders -meaning that it’s a common practice for them.

Perhaps the West  has  to adopt  new ways of thinking and practice the “Lean In” concept to get through during  the hard times of this never ending recession. The Thatcherite era of individuality and independency -with her own words “there is not such a thing as a society”- may have come to an end for the time being.

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In the background, woman stops a car in a main road of Astana.

The multitasking woman syndrome under dispute


Το σύνδρομο της γυναικείας πολυπραγμoσύνης υπο αμφισβήτηση
‘Γράψε κάτι που να ενδιαφέρει τις γυναίκες’ μου είπε ο υπεύθυνος σύνταξης ενός γυναικείου περιοδικού. ΄Ενα θέμα τόσο πλατύ και χωρίς περιορισμούς κάνει ακόμα πιο δύσκολο το επιχείρημα γράφειν. Θα ήταν ποιο εύκολο να γράψω ένα άρθρο σχετικό με αυτά που δεν ενδιαφέρουν την γυναίκα. Ισως κάτι για τα όπλα, αλλά με την τελευταία λέξη ήρθε στο μυαλό μου η φωτογραφία της Σάρας Πέιλιν με το μπίκινι και την καραμπίνα στο χέρι και σκέφτηκα ότι είναι και μερικές γυναίκες που έχουν και αυτά τα ενδιαφέροντα! Ισως κάτι για το ποδόσφαιρο, αλλά πάλι μου ήρθε στο μυαλό η Ντέλια Σμίθ, η Αγγλίδα μαγείρισα σελέμπριτι στην Αγγλία και πρόεδρος μιας ποδοσφαιρικής ομάδας, μαζί με την Λώρην, την γειτονισσά μου που πηγαίνει κάθε σαββατοκύριακο και περνάει ατελείωτες ώρες στις ποδοσφαιρικές προπονήσεις των δύο αγοριών της. Ισως κάτι κατασκοπικό αλλά ο Ηρακλής Πουαρώ της Αγκάθα Κρίστι δίπλα στο κομοδίνο μου διέγραψε και αυτήν την ιδέα. Τα τελευταία γεγονότα με την κατρακύλα των χρηματιστηρίων με έκανε να σκεφτώ και αυτό το θέμα, αλλά μόλις προχθές περιμένοντας στο Χήθροου τις βαλίτσες μου από την Νέα Υόρκη, δίπλα μου στεκόταν ανυπόμονα η πολύ κ. Νίκολα Χόρλικ η πιο διάσημη χρηματίστρια στην Αγγλία. ‘Ετσι άφησα κατα μέρος αυτή την ιδέα περί μη ενδιαφερόντων,γιατί δεν ισχύει, και αποφάσισα να συγκεντρώθω στην χαώδη λίστα των επί των πλείστων ενδιαφερόντων και προτιμήσεων των γυναικών. Αμέσως ο νούς μου πήγε στην γυναικεία ροζ λογοτεχνία που τόσο έχει κατακριθεί από τα τρία φύλα και που όμως τα βιβλία αυτής της κατηγορίας βρίσκονται τις περισσότερες φορές στις λίστες των πρώτων δέκα μπέστ σέλλερ. Κορίτσι αγαπάει αγόρι και τανάπαλιν. Αυτό αρέσει σε ένα μεγάλο ποσοστό γυναικών και αυτά διαβάζουν και νευριάζουν τους άντρες και τις άλλες γυναίκες και τους βιβλιοκριτικούς και τους κουλτουριάριδες. Αλλά, ακάθεκτες αυτές, εκεί τα διαβάζουν και περνούν καλά, και στο τέλος κάτι τους μένει. Εκτός από τα ‘μέλια’, κάτι μαθαίνουν, ένα διαφορετικό τρόπο ζωής ίσως μία διαφορετική νοοτροπία και ίσως την κουλτούρα μίας διαφορετικής χώρας από της δικής τους. Ταυτίζονται με τις ηρωίδες ανεβαίνει η αδρεναλίνη και ξεχνούν τα ντέρτια της καθημερινότητας. Και το οποίο φαινόμενο δεν το βλέπω καθόλου ανησυχητικό, ίσως πιο πολύ ανησυχητικό είναι τα βιβλία γύρω από τη βία και τους πολέμους, των οποίων το κυρίως αναγνωστικό κοινό είναι οι άνδρες. Αλλά τα τελευταία δεν έχουν ποτέ κατακριθεί, για τον απλό λόγο ότι οι άνδρες δεν διαβάζουν αρκετά ωστέ να εκτινάξουν αυτά τα είδη βιβλίων στις λίστες των μπεστ σέλλερ και να προκαλέσουν όλους τους προαναφερθέντες.Οι περισσότεροι άνδρες προτιμούν να περνούν τις ελεύθερες ώρες τους κρατώντας το πηδάλιο της οικιακής ελληνικής διασκέδασης , το τηλεκοντρόλ και να βλέπουν τους ‘τηλεκαντραρισμένους’ στα κανάλια ή να φτύνουν την οθόνη της τηλεόρασης όταν ο Κουτσουπίδης έχασε ένα γκόλ και η Βαζέλα δεν πέρασε στους ημιτελικούς.
Ενώ οι γυναίκες έχουν καταφέρει να τους ενδιαφέρουν τα πάντα και οι πάντες και να προσαρμόζονται και να ευδοκιμούν σε όλους τους τομείς, η προσωπική μου καταθλιπτική ίσως θεωρία βάση διαφόρων εγκεκριμένων στατιστικών, είναι ότι οι εργασίες που έχουν αξιολογηθεί πιο υψηλά, σύμφωνα με το αδιαμφισβήτητο καπιταλιστικό μέτρο σύγκρισης, το χρήμα, κατανέμονται κυρίως στον ανδρικό πληθυσμό.Και καταλήγω σε μια υποθετική ερώτηση ότι μήπως θα πρέπει να θεραπεύσουμε το σύνδρομο της γυναικείας πολυπραγμoσύνης και να συγκεντρωθούμε σε ένα μόνο σκοπό και στόχο? Ισως τότε να ανταμειφθούμε περισσότερο και ίσως τότε επέλθει ακριβή ισορροπία στα δύο φύλα.

Ντία Μέξη-Τζόουνς (copyright)

Write something that interests women” the editor of a Women magazine said to me. A subject so broad and without limits makes the task difficult. It will be easier perhaps to write about things women are not interested in. Perhaps about weapons but the image of Sarah Palin with her bikini holding a rifle came to mind and I thought some women have those kinds of interests. Perhaps about football but again Delia Smith, the British celebrity cook and the manager of football team, as well as Lauren, my neighbour, who spend all her weekends with her sons in their football training matches, came to mind. Perhaps something involving mysteries murders etc.. but the book of Agatha Christie next to my bed made me to forget it. The latest news about the stock market diving down made me to think about the above subject but just some days ago as I was waiting for my luggage’s from New York at Heathrow airport, next to me was standing the super woman Nicola Horlick, the most successful hedge fund manager in the City. So I decided to forget the idea about the women’s non-interests because it is not applicable and I decided to concentrate in the real chaotic list of their interests. Straight away my mind went to the girly books which have been so much criticized by the three sexes, despite the harsh criticism, these titles are in the top ten bestsellers lists. ‘Boy loves girl and the other way around’. This is what the majority of women love to read and at the same time upsets the book critics, the men, the rest of women and the labelled ‘cultured’ chaps. But the women are unrestrained, they are reading the love stories with voracious appetite having good time and getting something out of it. Except the ‘syrup’ which is leaking from everywhere, they come across to a mentality and culture different from their own country and which at the end of the day I don’t find it at all worrying. On the contrary I found more disturbing the books about violence and wars whose main reading group is men. But the latter have never been condemned by the above groups, for the simple reason, men do not read enough, so they never propelled those books on the top ten bestsellers list. Most men are enjoying to lie down in the sofa holding the TV control make zapping and occasionally spitting out on the TV screen when Beckham didn’t score a goal or Manchester united has failed to be qualified for the next game.

Despite that women have multiple interests and they adapt and thrive everywhere, my personal perhaps depressed personal theory based on the approved statistics that the jobs which have been valued higher based on the undisputed capitalistic comparing measure, the money, are distributed mainly to the male population. Summing up I have concluded the following hypothesis that perhaps women need to treat the syndrome of ‘polypragmosyne=multitasking’ and to concentrate on one target. Perhaps then their financial rewards will be better and a real balance between the sexes will be established.
Copyright Dia Mexi-Jones