Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Reasonable Change


“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” -Leo Tolstoy

Although absolutes are rare and hard to come by in this world, we humans tend to be creatures of perpetual habit. Even when something is diminishing our personal satisfaction, it can take quite a long time before we even consider instigating change. Too often we seek to change the things we cannot control. Wishing to alter the world around us leads only to frustration and circular behavior. Rather, we must look within and discover what little things we can do within our immediate spheres to produce ripples that may spread across the waters of the world around us.

Bertie Brandes has just wrapped the tenth issue of her own magazine called Mushpit. The magazine began as a reaction against mainstream women’s media which, while representative of her white female demographic, didn’t reflect her personal experience or that of her peers. Mushpit began as a zine circa 2011 and has since grown into a full color, biannual magazine. Through the magazine, Brandes has found branded consulting projects. Recently Mushpit partnered with Converse to create an A5 branded zine. Distribution of the magazine and branded zines is print copies rather than digital issues. Brandes, who has worked with extreme creative freedom over the years, has discovered that creating within set parameters can give rise to new and interesting challenges. Before Mushpit, Brandes wrote a column for Vice. In this role, she began to develop an understanding of the journalism industry and women’s place therein. Mushpit became a way to reach out to women in an honest, relatable, non-patronizing manner and to evolve as they grow. Apart from circumventing the traditionally male-dominated field of journalism, Brandes is also able to reach beyond the privileged class who largely control publishing in the UK and beyond. For the latest issue, released in December 2017, Mushpit brought on Richard Turley as art director. Turley stripped the magazine down to bare bones, revealing the true, original identity of Mushpit. Reception of the December 2017 issue has been extremely positive. Brandes and creative partner Charlotte Roberts are the force behind the magazine. By doing every aspect of production independently they are able to maintain creative control. To hear more about the latest issue and see images of the magazine, visit the complete interview page.

Ron Athey has been working on a hybrid piece titled Gifts of the Spirit. The piece is based on texts taken from Athey’s childhood memoir and uses 35 performers. Texts are drawn from the Pentecostal story and incorporate automatic writing, a kind of writing said to be rooted in spiritualism and a sort of psychic ability to receive words. Work on Gifts of the Spirit is done while in deep hypnosis. Typists record everything they see and the texts are later edited for content and clarity as texts are cut and pasted together. In Athey’s work, his own body and flesh have played prominent roles. In this most recent work, the body plays less of a role so much that for the first time in his career, Athey has invited members of his family to view the work. Performance of Gifts of the Spirit will take place on January 25 at the Cathedral of St. Vibiana, the oldest church in Los Angeles which is now de-sanctioned. This work is a departure from Athey’s typical physical work but does not signal the end of this signature style. Many of the physicalities Athey performs arise out of some sort of question. One of the most extreme he performed on his 50th birthday. Athey says he rebels against the notion that he must be less physical as he and his body age. To hear more about Athey’s extreme physical performances, his thoughts on the use of the body, and other thoughts and philosophies listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

One mustn’t look at a still pond and wish to conjure tides; instead simply pick up a pebble and watch the ripples grow.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Bertie Brandes has been reading works by one of her favorite poets Maggie Nelson. User Nancy Newman Rice is reading The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry.

Opportunities / Open Calls

Allianz Kulturstiftung…for Europe promotes cultural exchange and collaboration between artists from different nations. Submissions for individual and group grants are currently being accepted. See website for further details and eligibility. Deadline is March 1.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here