I May Destroy You

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I May Destroy You

A staggering 6 weeks ago, when lock down restrictions were beginning to ease, our TV screens and minds were illuminated by: ‘I May Destroy you’. I, myself, who fared badly from the pandemic, was starting to recover from a long tail case of Covid-19. This drama series was the primary broadcast I was desperate to watch. Its impact is set to last far beyond the 6 hours of air time which the BBC allotted. 

The main narrative centres around the rape of the Arabella; the feisty, strong-willed, leading lady. Michaela Coel who wrote starred and co-produced the series plays Arabella. The realistic screenplay leads us through flashbacks of her being raped. In reporting the matter to the Police they were able to establish that she had been subject to date-rape drugging. Perhaps not so realistic: the Police are shown to be professional, compassionate and supportive. Inevitably the case had to be shelved until a DNA match presents itself to the investigation. However, what is ground-breaking is we see Arabella: a hard-partying recreational drug user, convincingly being able to differentiate clearly between being secretly drugged, then subject to intercourse and simply, narcotic indulgence followed by consensual sex. At no point is the viewer directed to blame Arabella due to volatile lifestyle choices or to consider her to be unreliable as a consequence.

Arabella’ response to the violation could be considered from varied viewpoints. Promiscuity as a result of a sex attack liberated sex-positive behaviour or further examples of not fully consensual sex as a result of drug and alcohol usage. This leaves her vulnerable to a further sexual assault, interestingly in the form of stealthing: removal of a condom without the consent of the sexual partner. I and many viewers, male and female, were unaware that this was a criminal matter, the show was surprisingly informative.

We are offered some reasoning as to why Arabella’ sexual conduct presents us with a large variety of partners, many of whom are little more than acquaintances. The series takes us back to her infancy, parents who reside separately, but are still in a relationship. A father who indulges in a ‘Fancy Woman’ and to a degree, neglects his parental duties.

Breathtaking to see greater diversity on our screens, the main characters all being from ethnic minorities (Within the UK, not Globally). I found Arabella immediately appealing, the funky jacket and the wilds of pink hair. Terry, the loyal friend that every girl need to have, both are: fun, alluring, party goers. In opposition to this, the only more than minor white female: Theo, is overweight, unattractive and morally warped. A wondrous mid-series episode takes us back to secondary school, only done successfully in Romy and Michele’s High School Union during the late nineties. The retro-fun element of camera phones being new, hilarious in comparison to the multi-faceted smartphones of today. We see the only significant white, female character, falsely accuse a black man of rape. Equally to this, it becomes clear that Arabella’ rapist was white, herself being of colour. Is this a lesson for white supremacy, are matters being transformed in terms of traditional villain, victim roles in terms of race?

As a white female, I found some of the script a little isolating, the dialogue of:

‘I don’t like white people.’

stated by Terry. The scene in which Arabella takes extreme offence from being referred to as being from an ‘Afro-Caribbean background’ as opposed to simply of ‘African background’. This combined with making the medical professional linger while they shoot a podcast. This did not appear to be an act of standing up to racism, more the conduct of adolescents that belonged in a classroom seated next to Catherine Tate’s Vicky Pollard.

The range of taboo subjects brought to the drama was radical, in the extreme. The casual use of sanitary towels, menstruation no longer to be hidden and ignored. However, I found the scene in which she brings home a Man which she has just met in a night club off-putting. They endeavour to have intercourse while she is on her period. This combined with them both playing with her heavy, ‘Squishy’ discharge bordering on vulgar.

We are introduced to group sex on several occasions and internet dating, which pre-Millennial’s didn’t indulge. Significantly, the concept of social media addiction is raised, something we are all beginning to ponder over as a result of lock down and periods of isolation. Primarily, we are embraced by the subject of male rape, a major taboo, the public only being widely aware that this happened since the turn of the Millennium. Although the male rape scene was convincing, I was deterred by the response of the character. Devastation, regret and self-blame were not conveyed convincingly.

Although there were some downsides, this is a monumental step forward in challenging the many failings within our society; primarily rape culture. The ambiguity of the concluding episode adds to the mental turmoil over violation and redemption. The series instigated discussions and debate, a drama which will get us talking about rape.

Set to take the short trip over the pond, let’s hope Arabella & Co, can do the same for the Americans!

Watch the Series

Stealthing

The Green

the Green

The Green is an extract from the novel: Casual Nexus, written by Alison Little, she is looking to publish the novel later in 2020.

Stood aback from the green space, intersected by cars negotiating the rather complex one-way system, a moderately plump woman stands, examining an item of jewellery. She has just left the small countered repair shop which has presided on the green for over three generations. Excitedly, she opens the locket and looks adoringly at the miniature photograph inside:

‘I’ve got you back, mother!’

Caitlin McBride mouths internally to herself. Examining the clasp, a fitting repair job, her hand run over the shinning silver gleaming after the buffer wheel treatment. She slips the primal keepsake she has of her mother carefully into the upper zip pocket of her jacket. As she secures the zip her eyes scan over the green, her mind re-encounters the fair she went to as a teenager. Churning of the stomach as she remembers the lad she had met and their liaison in the undergrowth. Vomit rises into her throat as she recalls taking him in her mouth. Giggling at the time, now remorseful, it was simply another tangled interlude she had engaged in as she was too confused to determine her desired course of action.

Eyes rotate around the central space attention focusing on the swing park. A father playing with his children. Reminiscing over the few times her father has taken them to any form of a playground, but he had always been so busy with his work and the band. Her expanding gaze then halts, she looks at the Father in greater detail, her vision fixated, anguish overcomes her thoughts:

‘J-A-C-K’

She vocalises statically, the volume reduced but out loud. The man, then boy, who had determined the turmoil of negativity through her teenage years and transcended into adulthood. Jack who she had hidden from fearful of his advances. Jack whose manipulation had overcome her in the end. Jack who had a happy family, children, a wife and a house. Jack who had stolen her childhood, Jack who had taken so much from her and what her future would have been. Jack who her brother had never stopped, Jack who had never paid for what he had done to her during her teenage years.

She wipes the tears straining through her face as she makes haste towards the far side bus stop. As she moves further from Jack and the falsehood of the family man, the more composed she becomes.

Bongo Bongo Bangs…

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James Bongo bangs on…..about many matters. The conscious Poet, humanitarian and ascending master performed at last weeks Fringe Festival Open Mic Night at Frederiks. He talks to us about poetry, life and beliefs.

In choosing from a collection of over fifty poems to perform at the event last week his work reflects his varied beliefs. He doesn’t abide by any religious controlling mechanism or any other ‘isms’, feeling that they are detrimental to society. However, he does believe in God, the Universe and the energy of love. His interests lie with social unrest and true history, not the nonsense we have been force fed.

Born in Liverpool and raised in the city centre, then Croxteth the youngest of eleven of an extensive very loving Catholic family. His parents and siblings liked a drink , this seemed normal to him, after his Mum and Dad passed away he drank to mask the pain. Things escalated:

‘I hit the wall with the booze.’

He knew he had to stop, he was harming himself, his family and his partner. They helped him through alcoholism so he could face life again. In cohort they fun an exciting family business, ‘Practical Magic Vintage’ based in Newington. James has been free from alcohol addiction for six years.

Attending college in old Swan he decided against Uni in favour of self-education. He looked at many sources of literature including Sumerian Texts and the Gospel according to Thomas. Studying ancient symbolism, he re-addressed the Bible, the Quran and other religious readings. In terms of writing, he began to produce works relating to the control of the masses through religion and schooling. Reflecting his view; ‘We are born free, we enslave ourselves in the mind prison, we need to free the mind and free the soul.’ His major works include ‘The failed indoctrination of a broke entrepreneur gospel, according to Jimmy Bongo’, this will be published in the autumn. In addition to the poetic works, he includes writings about his life and growing up in Liverpool under ‘Thatchers Iron Fist’ and those he has seen dye from drug and alcohol abuse.

Organizing several nights in Liverpool he is a leading figure on the spoken work front. ‘Freedom of Speech’ is a platform for performers: poets and musicians, to do their own thing, building a community of people to voice their beliefs. Second to this he holds fundraisers to help a domestic abuse charity, ‘Out of the Corner’. A friend of his, Dr Karen Johnson, set up the charity and is a survivor of domestic abuse herself. The night is a mix of poetry and music and a cause James is passionate to support. He is helped with both nights by his friends. His other life long friend peter, an expert with filming and technical matters we all strive to master.

The next Freedom of Speech night will be held this Sunday (05.05.19) at Dr Feelgoods, 57a Bold Street, Liverpool. There will be performances from many including, Electric Shakedown, Just Joe and not forgetting 1 cool Poet.

I shit my Pants

Jesus was a Chonger

Grab a Granny Night

Maggies Children

More about Out of the Corner

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All the Fun of the Fair

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Last week saw the ‘All the Fun of the Fair’ installation take over at Bold Place. This weeks blog shares the original fiction works which was the intial sourse point for the installation.

All the Fun of the Fair

She felt low down, sank down, fallen through into a space only six foot by two foot. Crammed into a recession, three similar sized walls behind her to head height, two long stretched walls either side of her tapering off towards her feet with a small final surface encasing her body. Her weighty box-like cell, mahogany Formica panelling, lined with a thin cushioned faux silk, imitation gold handles surround the outer casing of the coffin.

As she begins to regain consciousness she raises, lying flat, floating upwards in a gravity-defying motion, out of her prison. The coffin was not real, the mahogany panelling on the walls of a cheap motel room. The handles belong to the dresser, the faux silk is the bed sheets, but they are not sleek and satiny, they are rough and bobbled and begrimed with the spills of what had occurred. Unable to move fully she can feel the presence of a body beside her, a giant of a man, not fat but colossal in size. Although he seems to be moving slightly as he breathes he appears to be unaware of her presence on the tiny mattress space she is embedded upon.

What had happened? She thinks, her brain encircled by storm clouds from being unconscious, she begins to place last night’s activities, her short term memory had been shredded into a thousand pieces, the sections still there, but only making sense when entwined together. How had she got to the tiny mattress space she occupies? She had been out drinking with one of the girls she had been working with for her summer job. They had been around a few bars and were really quite inebriated. Approached by a man, her friend first, then she remembers kissing him on his direction. Next, he grabbed her arm, almost dragging her, plucked from the bar, a predator choosing his prey; not being hauled through the doors, but not fully consenting.

To the unbeknown, nearby motel room, he took her, unsure of what to do she kept walking with him, still quite tipsy from the evening; should she try and push him off her? From entering the motel room he lashed her down on the bed, in a frenzy, he was on top of her, she was morphed like a giant lobster engulfing her, its claws gripping her down as she was smothered by the body. The antenna’ worming over her face and the walking legs combatting the struggle of the body. She couldn’t move and she couldn’t breathe, his chest pushing in around her throat and nostrils. She struggled with an inward thrusting motion like the crusher claw had reached down from its front line position, forcing its path with no care for the flesh it rips open. Her groyne muscles were trying to fight it, clenching together at their full will, trying to push out in conflict. No oxygen, no more strength, then black.

As she begins to come round she cannot move, in placing together what had happened she couldn’t fully understand, not then, not for many months, then many years later she would be able to accept what had taken place. She found some safety in the fact he seemed to be asleep and unaware of her presence. She still could not move as she lay there for what felt like an eternity: static and unreactive.

ceiling tiles

wall panels

carpet

eyes moving

body still

motionless

over and over, rhetoric

unresponsive body

thoughts, idea’s, existence

Then salvation comes: a feeling like water rushing through her body starting at her head then zigzagging across her form, over her spine and down to her feet, she could move again. Purity flowing through her being, release from deadlock, allowing her muscles and head to function in sequence. From this she managed to get up, moving as quietly as a semi-functional person could. Unsure of her clothes and her bag, she seemed to have most of them on, she began to look for the door but she couldn’t find it. Fumbling over the mahogany panels as they engrossed the space, she tried them all looking for an escape hatch, her vision blurred, only capable of seeing a few feet in front of her. One must open, but which one, then he spoke:

‘Doors over there’

He had been awake the whole time not asleep as she had imagined. Dismissive in the way he casually said the words, like nothing, had happened, dis-guarding the girl after she had been stripped bare to her skeletal form. Oblivious to what he had put her through, no remorse, no sorrow, no regret, nothing…

Alison Little

Take away Lobster to Liverpool

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‘All the Fun of the Fair’ is the latest installation from Liverpool based artist Alison Little. As part of the Liverpool Independent Biennial, it is being exhibited at 5 Bold Place. She presents a scene based in the American seaside resorts of Maine Country where the lobster is king and sold from the takeaway food stalls which litter the coastal towns.

Alison Little is an Artist and Writer, though her work she looks to combine her creative practice across visual arts and literature. ‘All the Fun of the Fair’ in its first concept is a short story of a young student who is raped during a summer placement in fairground town in the United States. This was written by Alison Little and has been published on her Blog in addition to several zines. This has been developed into a full chapter for the novel she is writing: Casual Nexus. In combination with the creative writing process, Alison produced a giant, man-size Lobster made from a process of creating a polythene shell and filling this with shredded paper. As an artist, she has been developing this technique for several years and often identifies similar subject matters of sexual violence and mental health. The lobster was exhibited for Sound City in the Baltic Triangle in combination with a reading of the original fictional source in May of 2018.

‘All the Fun of the fair’ the installation suspends the giant lobster form in the windows of Bold place. The inner side of the works contains statements related to the violation which can be read when looked at the mirrors located on the lower level. Sand runs across the bottom of the installation, covered by an arrangement of broken beach toys and discarded low-cost trinkets. These elements suggest American, Maine County, in particular, beach holiday debris. We present a New England seaside town where the lobster is prominent on the takeaway food stalls which line the Seafront.

In the initial short story, the rapist is transformed into a giant lobster, the girl unable to move throughout the act. To the underside of the shelled creature, we have a collection of statements relating to sexual predication. ‘Invade’, ‘Assailant’ and ‘Molestation’ are all prominent terms amongst the others present. The broken mirror is positioned to the lower side of the giant sea creature, this allows the viewer to position themselves to read the terms from different angles.

The ground space of the installation is cover with sand to suggest the golden beaches of the North American seaside towns. However, the beach area is covered in litter to suggest adverse lifestyles. The discarded freezer blocks and pick nick cups, in addition to food stall waste, set the scene for an unpleasant beach holiday. The prominently positioned coffee cup displays a label from Maine County, combined with a Portland Take away lobster box indicate the New England North Atlantic Coast. The end of games and childhood fun are presented through the broken and lost assemblage of outdoor toys. The burst and deflating paddling pool suggest an end to the innocence of infancy. An indication of celebration but also destruction are introduced by the exploded firework and the burst balloon. Could this be a fourth of July party gone wrong? Cheap State side Larger is forefront in the window display, Budweiser cans convey a seafront drinking party where the cans have been swigged down at pace. The presence of rough sleepers, or more commonly terms vagrants is given through the squashed, toxically coloured cider bottle. The American term these individuals ‘Bums’, they are present in these towns during the summer months, they travel to the resorts when the population swells to solicit the tourists. On a darker note, we are presented with narcotics, the indication of a luminously coloured crack pipe, surrounded by packets of Rizzla, cigarette papers used to inhale cannabis. Do we have a scene of destruction where intoxication of controlled substances is a factor? Ultimately, we have a final item of sexual debris, a Durex wrapper, the Transatlantic term being ‘Sheaf’. Has there been a sex act gone wrong, a liaison which has ended in devastation?

On first inspection we see a Transatlantic beach holiday representation, on deeper investigation we see a holiday gone wrong. We see destruction and devastation, we see negativity and hostility.

Dates: 3 August – 3 September, 2018
Location: 5 Bold Place, Liverpool, L1 9DN

See Map

Times: 07:30 to 23:00 daily (viewing from street)


Art In Windows is a small organisation that works with landlords and artists to commission and curate temporary and permanent art works for display in empty windows in and around Liverpool.
Art in Windows

The Liverpool Biennal Independents runs from the 18th of July until the 28th of October.
Independents Biennial

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