Tuesday, 29 November 2016


This piece seeks to represent working class experience under neoliberalism initially imposed in the UK by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1979. The cage represents the ‘capturing’ and constricting of the working class as their economic, political and social power has been deliberately dismantled over the last 35 years via what has been described as the 'economics of class war' (1). The piece also references Max Weber’s concept of the working class experiencing industrial capitalism as an ‘iron cage’ (2). Within the cage there are various artefacts that anesthetize and distract the working class to/from their experience. Referencing ‘1984’ (3) these include lottery tickets, sexualised images and alcohol. The wine bottle is from Chile where neoliberalism was first imposed under Pinochet in 1970s. In the top corner of the structure is a CCTV camera representing the preventative surveillance and control exercised by the state upon its citizens.
The title 1979-2016-? implies an uncertainty about where society in now heading.


(1) Harvey, D. (2005) A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

(2) Weber, M, The Iron Cage (1985) quoted in Bowman, M. (et al) (2001) Religion, Modernity and Change: Course Introduction, Milton Keynes, The Open University and Cole, N. Understanding Max Weber’s “Iron Cage” and why it’s More relevant Today, http://sociology.about.com/od/Key-Theoretical-Concepts/fl/Understanding-Max-Webers-Iron-Cage.htm

(3) Orwell, G. (1949) 1984, London, Penguin.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

'Talk of Violence' by Petrol Girls? Stunning!

Petrol Girls take their name from a group of women in the Paris Commune who-at least mythically- burnt down parts of Paris in the last days of the Commune as it was being overthrown by Versaillais troops in 1871(1). I saw the modern day Petrol Girls at The Owl Sanctuary in Norwich earlier this year and they were absolutely stunning-a set of full on melodic post-hardcore punk with intelligent, angry lyrics challenging sexism, structures of violence and injustice. This is a band fuelled by feminist convictions, left politics, compassion and righteous anger with an integrity backing up their words. The two original members, Ren Aldridge and Liepa KuraitÄ—, have been joined by Joe King on guitar and Zock on drums and have had a couple of previous physical releases; the 3 track Petrol Girls and another 3 new tracks on Something Else released earlier this year.
I ‘ve seen the band a couple more times and they seem to keep getting better so I was interested to see if they had managed to transfer the intensity and energy of ‘live’ on to album...and glad to say they have!
Of the 10 tracks on Talk of Violence only one has been previously released physically so basically you’ve got an album of new material, though fans will recognise some of the tracks from gigs. And that seems like a good place to start! What have they done to ‘Touch Me Again’! They’ve turned a good song into something amazing! Complete ferocious anger at the experience of sexual harassment and assault that women have to endure in a misogynistic culture that apparently has infected even the punk scene. The repeated line “Touch me again and I will fucking kill you” is delivered with all the indignation and anger it deserves. This track has gone up another level in recording.
The album kicks off with the sounds of a protest and the declaration “We want to stop the false peace” (‘False Peace’), it’s here that reviewing without access to lyrics became problematic but I can report that both ‘Clay’ and ‘Fang’ keep up the energy level, with ‘Fang’ living up to my hopes after hearing it live.
Another track fans will recognise is ‘Treading Water’ which has been online as a taster for a few months, it seems to confront the violence of Fortress Europe and its response to refugees ( a situation that Europe seems to frame as it’s own crisis rather than that of the refugees!) before going on to list various forms of insidious and structural violences that are often ignored or justified.
‘Phallocentric’ critiques men’s preoccupations with themselves and their dicks in both public and private life, “Erect shaft-like monuments for your wars’...’Phallocentric we're not done when you are, Phallocentric I'm bored of your art, I want to play not perform a routine, I want pleasure not just here to please”.
Over the 10 tracks Petrol Girls are focussed, intelligent and intent on highlighting inequality, oppression and injustice wherever and however they are expressed- if you’re offended by this band you might want to have a think why.
All in all ‘Talk of Violence’ actually exceeds my expectations in so much as it does the Petrol Girls I know from gigs complete justice. Live they are ferocious, articulate, angry and confrontational- somehow they’ve managed to translate that into this album. Faultless.

(1) Petroleuses. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A9troleuses

Monday, 7 November 2016

Essentialism II

We all live with gendered expectations; the characteristics ascribed to, and expected of, a person on the basis of their biological sex (which is itself interpreted- in Europe via a 2 sex model).
This piece expresses some of the most common gendered ascriptions to, and demands of, women made by our society on the basis of a body interpreted as female.
I decided to include 'sexy' after hearing a business women talk about how a woman was expected to bring 'sexiness to the table'.
The fact that the model is hollow can be interpreted as an implied critique of essentialism.