Some thoughts on fighting FGM

Michael Gove has finally agreed to write to schools in England about FGM after the recent campaign led by 17 year old Fahma Mohamed. I recently read Alice Walker’s novel ‘Possessing the Secret of Joy’, 1992, and will attempt to discuss some of the horrors of FGM, and thoughts on fighting it, through a reading of this powerful text.

Possessing focuses on a fictional African tribe, Olinka. The fictional element enables Walker to explore the results of the most extreme form of female circumcision, infibulation, enacted upon her protagonist Tashi without blaming any one real tribe. Thus, Walker can be as outspoken as she likes, heavily criticising Olinkans’ reasons for female genital mutilation (FGM) and rallying for collective responsibility to stop it. Olinkans ‘validate’ their reasons for FGM by using religious myths and presenting the procedure as initiation into adulthood and eligibility for marriage. Particularly, Olinkans use the tale of God and the termite hill, which represents female sexual organs, to affirm God’s wish for FGM and naturalise male control over female sexuality. This is because God mastered the earth by “[cutting] down the termite hill, and [having] intercourse with the excised earth”. Therefore, in the eyes of the Olinkans, as God has initiated it, FGM is justifiable and an eternal phenomenon. In this way, as the writer Gourdine has noted, Walker positions FGM as “a brutal ritual so tied to culture and tradition that for thousands of years women have been powerless to stop it”.  Continue reading

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How to Stop Worrying and Love (running)

KaiSyngTAN_Film_1

This interview is published on the UCL Art Museum blog

Working up to the event on Wed 26 Feb 6.30 – 7.30pm, held in UCL Art Museum.

On 26th February there is the chance to meet the artist and Slade School PhD Graduate Kai Syng Tan and take part in her experimental, multidisciplinary event based around the positive powers of running. This is the opportunity to learn about running as a potentially playful and subversive activity within an artistic framework.

Kai is sprinting forward with latest research that focuses on the body and its dialogue with technology and social media networks. Her website creatively communicates this unusual project, which is constantly evolving. Come expecting to be made curious, surprised and energized.

Intrigued to find out more before the event, I met up with Kai to talk about how her work explores notions of playfulness, natural endorphins and the meaning of life.

You have many different roles and identities, being an artist, educator and researcher. How do you see them interacting and influencing each other?

Many artists today have multiple identities. I have been an artist for nearly 20 years, but I have done many different things within this role. It involves showing my work in public spaces and online in spaces not always considered part of the art world. As a new media artist I have also had a parallel career; lecturing is how I bring home the bacon.  Continue reading