SCHOLAR WAVE

ART STUDENT, PART II

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I just got back to Toronto after spending two weeks in Nova Scotia. I was thrilled to be invited as a resident artist — or “rabbit” — for the seventh annual White Rabbit Arts Open Air Art Festival in a rural community in Upper Economy along the Bay of Fundy. During this time, 19 of us artists lived, worked, and played communally at Red Clay Farm, where we were invited to take part in workshops, skill sharing, pirate radio programming, site responsive installation and performance, and more! The three ballast artists — Lindsay Dobbin, Helmut Lemke, and Sally Morgan — guided us in creatively enriching workshops such as “Deep Listening,” “Water Drumming,” “Body Mind Centering Movement,” and “Contact Mic Making.” Matthew Whiston, a Halifax-based pirate radio enthusiast, warmly encouraged each of us to develop programming for the pirate radio on Red Clay Farm, which was transmitted to radios across the surrounding area.

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At Red Clay Farm we were served three delicious meals each day, with nourishing alternatives for all of our diverse needs — vegetarian, gluten-free, sugar-free, and so on. It is amazing, the role that healthful and delicious food can play in one’s life. These meals were what sustained all of the other elements of this communal living situation — the art production, the conversation and the collaboration. While I felt quite anxious upon arrival, having had a particularly difficult week in Toronto before I left, I found that my body soon became attuned to the ‘tones’ of Red Clay community and the landscape: I felt at ease in my lack of amenities, capable in my lack of usual routines, strong in my capacity to be socially engaged for sustained periods of time despite my introversion. It’s great to be able to have the opportunity to take part in non-academic spaces of learning, growth, and artistic development. Being a resident artist (rabbit!) at White Rabbit Arts felt a lot like going to art camp. While I am embedded in the Academic Industrial Complex, and have consistently had success within these institutions (receiving grants, scholarships, and so on), I remain ambivalent about its efficacy and ethics as the University system becomes increasingly modeled as a business. Are students consumers? What do we lose if and when students become consumers and professors and teaching assistants become providers of a particular product? We already live in a world in which our agency tends to be seen solely in light of our status as consumers, rather than citizens. Yes, we are all implicated in our capitalist context. And yet it is important for us to find little ways in which we can ‘loosen’ these contexts, create space in which different ways of living, different ways of existing and being in this world, can be realized. Red Clay Farm is one of these spaces.

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The piece that I made for the White Rabbit Festival was entitled “Moon Hut,” a site-specific audio installation work situated in a willow dome structure behind the farm’s two large ponds. I also created a radio play and book work entitled “Mleko the Leaky Goat: A Farm Tale of Abject Feelings.” I installed this book project as loose pages in what had been, up until a year ago, the home of Red Clay Farm’s resident goat. The goat is no longer with Red Clay: the work is installed in the empty pen, existing temporarily in the absence of the goat who once lived here. The text takes up issues of anxiety and what I have loosely termed “abject feelings,” using the metaphor of a leaking goat. Other social and political issues, including psychiatric institutions and experimental anti-psychiatric movements (like Felix Guattari’s La Borde) is referenced alongside different approaches to farming and keeping animals. For all of my institutional embedded-ness — as a PhD student at York University, for example — I remain passionate and interested in learning more about alternative structures of organizing. During my time in Vancouver, many of the people I spent time with were skeptical of Universities, some of them viewing my decision to do a Masters as highly suspect. I feel immensely privileged to be able to have some funding to assist me as I undertake this PhD. It is my hope and goal that I will be able to enact real change in my communities.

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During the artist residency, Matthew Whiston, a Halifax-based pirate radio enthusiast, warmly encouraged each of us to develop programming for the pirate radio station at Red Clay Farm, which was transmitted to radios across the surrounding area. I did a great on-air interview with Helmut Lemke, a UK-based German sound artist who creates evocative analog sound performances (for example, one of his performances at the festival involved fishing wire, contact mics, an electrical belt, and large felled tree branches). During our on-air interview, I played tracks by some of my favourite German artists — Can, Holger Czukay, Guru Guru, Xmal Deutschland, Kraftwerk, Einsturzende Neubauten, Malaria! — and Helmut Lemke gave his feedback on the tracks. He is brazenly outspoken (even curmudgeonly), refusing to pander to Canadian politeness, but also has a lot of warmth to him. He provided some interesting critiques of Krautrock, approaching their 1960s psychadelia from the perspective of a sound artist who also identifies as a political activist. He also recommended one of his favourite German bands, a proto-punk powerhouse called Ton Steine Scherben. We had a great time talking about German music, art, and politics.

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The two dresses that I am wearing here were both purchased in Toronto at vintage stores and consignment shops over the past two years. The first is a tight-fitting halter-style dress made of a cotton and spandex blend. This is the dress that I wear on those occasions where I feel sexy and strong: indeed, one of my personal goals is to hone this feeling of strength and confidence on a daily basis, holding myself up in public spaces (urban or rural) even when I’m experiencing anxiety. The other dress was found at Kind Exchange, a Toronto-based chain of consignment stores. This dress is my new ‘witchy dress’. It holds its own shape in a way that makes me feel like I’m wearing a work of wearable sculpture. I feel comfortable and safe when I wear it. Here I am wearing my black beret and my green beret with the dress. There is a sweet story here about when I first moved to Toronto. I had plans to stay with a friend who I had not seen in over five years. I was wearing a leather jacket and a black beret on this rainy day when I arrived in Toronto from Vancouver, a large suitcase stuffed with most of my belongings in tow. When I arrived at the address that my friend had gave me, I noticed there was a piece of paper on the front door with the image of a bird wearing a black beret. It read “WREN.” The beret was sheer coincidence, and the “wren” denoted my nickname to this friend (my name, Lauren, is actually pronounced “lah-wren”). Me and this person have been dating ever since: it’s been 2.5 years now.

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Thanks for tuning in! Until next time.

You can check out more photographs from my time out east here: https://selfcareforskeptics.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/white-rabbit-arts-residency-2015-red-clay-farm-upper-economy-nova-scotia/

You can check out White Rabbit Arts and what they are up to here. If you are an artist, I encourage you to apply to their summer residency! : http://whiterabbitarts.ca/

Lauren Fournier is an artist and writer currently based in Toronto.
She is working on her PhD in feminist theory and performance art at York University.
http://www.laurenfournier.net

Photography credits: Lee Henderson (www.noattainment.com)

ART STUDENT, PART I

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I don’t know if I qualify as having ‘gone to art school’, since I hold a BA and an MA (rather than a BFA and an MFA). I did eventually transfer to the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Regina for my undergraduate degree, after having started in “pre med” and completing all of the science prerequisites for medicine at U of S. I had always felt evenly pulled between arts and science, and had been taking English and Art History electives alongside Organic Chemistry and Biochem. My official move to Fine Arts was prompted by a trip to Europe in 2008 and my experience in Introduction to Intermedia Studio with Rachelle Viader-Knowles (RVK). RVK’s approach to art-making forever changed me. The notion that I could begin with a concept — such as anxiety or ‘getting all existential before bed’ or ‘gathering myself as a 19 year-old after the foundations beneath my feet began to crumble’ — and then choose a medium that best fits the concept to then realize my idea was hugely inspiring to me. I had never seen myself as a painter or a drawer or a sculptor, but after taking intermedia I began to see myself as a video artist, or a performer, or an installation-maker. I did not necessarily need to be skilled at representational drawing to constitute an artist. At the time, this realization meant the difference between life and death for me. I could now see the possibility of my agency — as an artist, as a creator, as a maker of conceptual and artistic experiences! I had experienced so much loss at this time — the loss of all of the things that had constituted my life as a teenager (friends, boyfriend, religion). It was in my studio art classes and my art history classes that the ‘new chapter’ of my life began: the chapter of my life as an adult, finding my own footing, being a bit of a loner, making my own decisions even if they were decisions that seemed foolish or strange to those around me. I felt elated in my newfound recognition of all things art-related, and spend the next few semesters making all sorts of more or less sad (maudlin) video art installations to process my young grief. We all have to start somewhere.

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I found this long purple floral nineties dress on a thrifting adventure in Toronto. Here I am wearing the dress with my trippen platforms, which I purchased at a trippen outlet last summer in Berlin. My hair is DIY: I used Manic Panic’s “Electric Lizard,” purchased from Shopper’s Drug Mart at Yonge and College (my neighborhood!) in Toronto. This long purple floral dress is one of my favorites, and I transition the dress from ‘summer wear’ to ‘winter wear’ by adding a sheer long-sleeve black crop top over it. The shorter pink floral dress, which I am wearing here along with two nineties-style ‘tattoo chokers’, was found at Front & Company, a half consignment and half new clothing store on Vancouver’s Main Street. If you want to take the nineties look even further, this dress goes great with a pair of combat boots. I like the kaleidoscopic feel of this pattern. It evokes the “hyper-natural,” a Baudrilladian notion that I’ve been reflecting on lately. I recently had a wonderful conversation with Betty Julian, a brilliant professor at OCADU here in Toronto. She was lamenting the fact that young feminist artists still seem to be turning “back to the Earth, back to nature,” like our ecofeminist predecessors back in the 60s/70s. “Aren’t we past that yet?” she asked. During my open air arts residency, where the desire to turn back to the earth is very much encouraged by the surroundings of forest and sea, I reflected on this tension between nature and culture and where my art practice and personal philosophy fits. For feminist aesthetics, ecofeminism (long critiqued for its essentializing thrust) seems to mark one polarity, and Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto” marks another. We have the desire to turn back to goddess mythology, back to the earth, and yet we do not want to essentialize women as being inherently more ‘natural’ than men. And yet, environmental politics and ecological disaster prompts all of us to cultivate deeper connections to our natural environments. Sally Morgan, a dancer, PhD student, and dear friend of mine, has been encouraging me to read Jane Bennett’s “Vibrant Matter,” which is next one my reading list. But I digress. I’ll leave it here, with the term “hyper-natural,” in light of the cyborg feminism alluded to in Scholar Wave episodes past.

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Turning to the third dress: I’ve had this little beige dress for a long time, so long that I can’t remember where exactly I got it from! It was found at some point during my time in Vancouver, very likely at a Value Village, a consignment store, or a vintage store (the three places where I did my shopping when I lived out west). The pattern of the dress is what some might call “tribal,” though I’m resistant to using this culturally loaded and problematic (re: issues of cultural appropriation, deeming ‘the other’ more ‘primitive’, etc.) term. I love the little drawstring around this dress, which I believe is meant to be tied around the back (to cinch in the waist without the string being visible), but which I like to wear so that it is visible in the front. This ‘making visible that which is supposed to be invisible/hidden’ reminds me of a wonderful project called “Visible Mends” that an artist named Nancy Cole did as part of her residency project at White Rabbit Arts this summer. I recently spent the past two weeks out in Nova Scotia, where I was an artist in residence at White Rabbit Arts in Red Clay Farm, Upper Economy, Nova Scotia. I will speak about that experience at more length in my next T+A post (“Art School, Part II”). One of my favorite dresses — at least my most frequently worn dress — is an ankle-length black rayon sleeveless dress that I found at a Value Village in Vancouver. It has had a large hole near the bottom at the back of the dress, which I have been ignoring and wearing regardless of this ‘defect’. Then, during a workshop with German sound artist Helmut Lemke, in which I was learning to make a contact microphone, Helmut accidentally burned my dress with the soldering iron! (I was lucky that the iron only hit my dress … it just missed my thigh) It was then that I knew the dress should be hemmed: I planned to cut a few feet off of the bottom of the dress, hem the dress, and then use the remaining fabric to make head wraps. Instead, I had Nancy hem the dress for me as part of her “Visible Mends” project, and she created the following hemline which reads “Art is a Verb, 2015.”

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I’m a passionate lifelong learner and an art student. Learning new things and developing my intellect is something that has been fueling me for as long as I can remember. I’m a lover of all things artistic, conceptual, aesthetic, feminist, sonic. I ‘came out of the closet’ as an artist/art freak back in 2008. By queering the spaces that I had been raised in, I found myself losing many of my old friends as we went separate ways. I ‘came out of the closet’ as an artist/art freak back in 2008, even if I wasn’t aware that that was what I was doing. Indeed, it has only been recently, at the age of 26, that I’ve started to have some confidence in identifying as that — an artist. It’s still a complicated thing for me to do. “Are you an artist?” I will be asked, as if on cue, at any given art opening in Toronto. Yes, I suppose I am.

Thanks for tuning in!  Until next time — Lauren ☾

Lauren Fournier is an artist and writer currently based in Toronto.
She is working on her PhD in feminist theory and performance art at York University.
http://www.laurenfournier.net

Photography credits: Lee Henderson (www.noattainment.com)

Clowning Around with Onesies

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Remember playing dress-up as a kid? My sister and I would go through this antique chest in our basement filled with my mother’s clothing items that she no longer wore — dresses with shoulder pads, large glasses without their frames, lycra body suits. We’d cover our little bodies with different fabrics, textures, cuts, and colours — wearing whatever configuration suited our mood that afternoon.

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Once we were dressed, it was performance time. I would put a song on the CD-player from one of the few albums that my parents owned — The Proclaimers or the soundtrack to My Best Friend’s Wedding — and my sister and I would put on a dance show in front of my parents and whoever else might have been at our home that day. My sister would run as fast as her three year-old body could around our oval coffee-table, while six year-old me would mouth the words to every song, providing accompanying arm movements and expressive hip shakes for emphasis. As we grew up, my sister and I continued to play dress-up — albeit in a not-always-consensual way. She would take an item from my closet and I’d take an item from hers, both hoping that the other person wouldn’t notice the other wearing it at high-school that day. The (blessing and) curse of wearing the same size as your sister.

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Since moving to Toronto, I’ve found myself dressing more conservatively than I did when I lived in Vancouver and Regina. Nowadays, I tend towards black on black on black, with little colour or pattern deviation. This is starting to change, as I rediscover some of the fascinating items hidden in my own closet. Take this stylish black pant suit-style onesie that ties up in the front. When paired with a floppy black hat and witchy boots, you get an outfit circa Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice (1988). Since summer is quickly approaching, I’ve decided to wear the onesie pant suit with my Trippen platform sandals, wonderfully eccentric and surprisingly walkable shoes from the Trippen outlet in Berlin.

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I found this black and white polka dot onesie at Little Miss Vintage on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. Somehow, I feel both classically glamorous and comfortably clownish in this outfit. Wearing this makes me feel a bit like Marilyn Monroe, especially when I wear it with bright red lips. I love that the top of this onesie is a tube top — a style which I anticipate will experience a resurgence this summer as the 1990s continue to inform the latest fashion, makeup, and design trends.

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This grey onesie is my personal favorite. The fabric — 100% rayon — feels phenomenal on my body. I found it at Community Thrift and Vintage in Vancouver’s gastown, a store with excellent selection that also functions as a Social Enterprise initiative in which all profits go towards PHS Community Services Society in the Downtown Eastside. For those of you in the Vancouver area, donations are accepted at the Community Unisex shop located at 41 West Cordova (http://www.communitythriftandvintage.ca).

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Wearing each of these onesies reminds me of how much fun it can be to play dress up in our everyday lives. I encourage each of you to play around with clothing items that you might not typically wear … it can be a lot of fun, and you’ll be building character in the process.

Thanks for tuning in!  Until next time — Lauren ☾

 

Lauren Fournier is an artist and writer currently based in Toronto.
She is working on her PhD in feminist theory and performance art at York University.
http://www.laurenfournier.net

Photography credits: Lee Henderson (www.noattainment.com)

Cyberpunk and Bird Songs: Nineties-Inspired Jackets for Spring

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Without a doubt, my favorite seasons are autumn and spring. My constitution favors the moderate temperatures of these liminal states. I want nothing more than to go for a long, meandering walk through the city that I live in (currently Toronto, previously Vancouver and Regina) wearing a seasonably light jacket. At long last, I can shed the cocoon of my ankle-length ‘sleeping bag parka’ and salt-smeared winter boots of frigid months past, boldly emerging like a delirious butterfly beholding the first signs of spring. The birds are back, flittering sweet songs at my window. Final papers are being submitted as students make arrangements to occupy their summer months. I wander outside, wearing comfortable walking shoes and a jacket that fits me quite literally like a glove. I find a spot in the park to sit and read some science fiction, cyberpunk, and cyborg theory: Donna Haraway’s “The Cyborg Manifesto,” William Gibson’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” and Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness.”

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The jacket featured here is in my Top 10 Best Value Village finds. I had been a frequent Value Village forager during my time living in Vancouver: my friend Melodie and I would go on regular day trips out to the suburbs (Burnaby, Surrey) and discover wonderful wares in the VVs there. Now, having recently moved to Toronto, I had not yet discovered the local VVs. On our way up to York, my friend Sally stopped by Value Village to find a Halloween costume for her daughter. I decided to join for a quick perusal. This streamlined, shiny black jacket caught my eye as soon as I entered the store. It looked glorious but tiny, and I had assumed it wouldn’t fit. I decided to give it a try anyway.

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Sally told me that I looked like I had walked straight out of The Matrix, which sealed the deal. I would definitely be buying this jacket. The tag signals that the jacket is from Le Chateau in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Made from PVC (polyvinylchorlide), which is a compound similar to rubber, this jacket fits like a glove — like a latex glove used toward kinky ends. I could definitely see this jacket moonlighting as bondage wear. Wearing it makes me feel like I’m a dominatrix-type character in a 1980s-1990s cyberpunk future, circa William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

LINK OF THE DAY: INCLUSIVE STYLE (http://nclsvstrtstyl.tumblr.com/)

Thanks for tuning in!  Until next time — Lauren ☾

 

Lauren Fournier is an artist and writer currently based in Toronto.
She is working on her PhD in feminist theory and performance art at York University.

Photography credits: Lee Henderson (www.noattainment.com)

Weird Girls, Cool Aunties, and Psychadelic Batwing Sleeves

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What does it mean to be “weird” these days? I’ve been re-watching Friends on Netflix, which has been an enjoyable way for me to turn my brain off for a couple of hours between studying for my comprehensive exams and going to sleep. Aside from Ross Geller’s insidious misogyny, the show has stood the test of time. Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) has long been my favorite character on the show, her quirky ways and eccentricities having inspired little art freaks like myself over the last two decades. It’s true — Phoebe Buffay is the quintessential “weird girl.” Creative? Check. Musical? Check. Vegetarian? Check. Pagan propensities? Check. A well of strange life experiences to draw from in seemingly random situations? Check. Comfortably cool maternity-style dresses? Check. Crystal necklaces? Check. Chokers? Check. Not afraid to speak out about bisexuality and pubic hair? Check.

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Weird girls. Popular culture is full of them. While some weird girls are beacons of refreshing self-expression, others serve a pointed mystical function in male-driven narratives. I encourage you to google “Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG)” and let yourself get lost in an internet vortex for a couple of hours. So what does it mean to be weird, anyway? If you stand out in public? If you dress differently than your friends? If your worldview lies somewhere outside of the hegemonic mainstream? Are you born weird, or can you develop a solid sense of weirdness over time? I’m being tongue in cheek, but I’m definitely curious about the status of the “weird girl” (or weird boy, or weird genderqueer individual … indeed, gender is a spectrum!) in a time when neon armpit hair is a viral feminist trend on Instagram. Is there a necessary shock appeal to being weird? Is “weird” synonymous with “quirky” and “cute”?

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One of the things I loved most about living on the west coast was how welcomed it was to be weird. The slogan of Portland, Oregon is “Keep Portland Weird,” a phenomenon made infamous by the lovable weirdos Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen.

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Flashback to four years ago in Vancouver, BC. I was twenty-two years old, walking through dark alleys with a couple of my close friends, drinking beers out of paper bags, listening to Austra playing from someone’s Iphone, and smoking Djarums (all wonderfully irresponsible behaviors that I do not officially condone!). We were on our way to a party in east Vancouver. My friend turned to me and said, “You look exactly like what an eccentric auntie looks like!” I was swaddled in fabrics of various patterns, colours, and textures, adorned with delicious oddities like my ‘moon face’ earrings and forest green hair. I rocked the “eccentric auntie” look for a few solid years of living on Commercial Drive. Lately I find myself longing for those “eccentric auntie” days of lore. I still cherish my eclectic blouses thrifted from suburban Value Villages out west. These blouses that function as landscape paintings, blouses that depict flying cows and cherubim, blouses that manage to incorporate ‘power clashing’ into their very fabric!

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I have fond memories of going to my first Arcade Fire show back in 2010 wearing my psychedelic bat-swing sleeved dream coat featured here. Me and my black bowl-cut and orange lips, stepping into a stadium filled with hip-looking humans, not feeling very secure in my own skin back then but nonetheless knowing that I loved what I was wearing. A statement piece, one could say. One of a kind. Clothing can definitely function as a conversation starter. This is one of my statement pieces.

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We often hear of the power of scent in invoking strong memories. Our mother’s sugar cookies, our grandmother’s borscht, the patchouli incense you used to burn in your very first apartment. But what about the power that an item of clothing has in taking you back to a very specific time and place in your past? In my own experience, each item of clothing incites vivid memories. My closet is an archive that I can page through at whim.

Thanks for tuning in!  Until next time — Lauren ☾

Lauren Fournier is an artist and writer currently based in Toronto.
She is working on her PhD in feminist theory and performance art at York University.

Photography credits: Lee Henderson (www.noattainment.com)

Diane von Fürstenberg, Wrap Dresses, and the “F*ck Flattering” Movement

I’ve always been a big fan of the wrap dress. With its cinched waist and its deep neckline, the wrap dress is a form that I have known and loved since I was a teenager. Why, you ask? I have been told that it is flattering for my body type.

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I tend to feel supremely comfortable and beautiful in a wrap-style dress. In 1974, Belgian-born American fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg launched the wrap dress as a fashion style. The wrap dress quickly became Diane von Fürstenberg’s signature dress.

I am lucky enough to own two vintage Diane von Fürstenberg dresses from the 1970s.  I found them both on suburban thrifting adventures when I lived in Vancouver, BC.

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One of the dresses is in Diane von Fürstenberg’s signature 1970s style and pattern (featured on the cover of 1976 Newsweek magazine above), but without the plunging neckline and waist tie.

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As you can see here, the boldly cut collar and matching cuffs place this dress undoubtedly in the era of the 1970s. The pointed collar and cuffs evoke a classy vampire feel. There is something very Morticia Addams about it, which I like.

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The other is a more loose-fitting dress that reminds me of a 1970s country-style muumuu. According to the tag, the dress is quite a few sizes larger than I normally wear: during my early twenties, when I found this dress, I preferred wearing oversized shirts and dresses to form-fitting ones. I often pair this dress with a denim jacket and black leather boots.

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I first discovered the wrap dress in my late teens, when I became conscious of my supposed ‘imperfections’ and sought to subtly hide my tummy. My tummy was my so-called ‘problem area’— the part of me that I didn’t like as much as my arms and legs. On those weeks when I felt particularly off, the wrap dress always managed to help me feel comfortable in social settings. Of course, this was when I was particularly uncomfortable in my own skin, and before I had the community of feminists, queers, and the body positive movement in my life.  Indeed, this was before the “f*ck flattering” hashtag had graced the screen of my Macbook.

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I had never thought to think critically about this notion of wearing “flattering” clothes. I am lucky enough to have a mother who is immensely loving, supportive, and non-judgmental: and yet even she, with all her good intentions, gently guided me into this world of wearing clothes and colours that are “flattering” on me.  For example, baggy pants and boxy shirts hide my “cute figure” (her words, not mine) and should therefore be avoided. Similarly, beiges and pale yellows “wash me out.”  Today I am opting for a middle ground.

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While it can be useful for us to know what types of forms, styles, shapes, colours, patterns, and fabrics make us feel the most comfortable and beautiful, it is also worth keeping in mind the ways in which this discourse of “flattering” prevents certain bodies from being able to wear what they want to wear due to this rather arbitrary and socially sanctioned standard.

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I still wear wrap dresses from time to time, though I’ve also gotten more comfortable with wearing forms that I used to think were “unflattering” on me.  Recently I discovered a red and black patterned wrap dress in my parents’s basement: the dress, reminiscent of the 1980s, was one of my favourite scores from Le Chateau Junior Girl when I was fourteen years old.

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Back then the dress hung off of my thin and boyish frame: I was thrilled to discover that it still fit me after all these years.  Now, at the age of 26, I feel healthy and happy with the way that I look.  Who knew I’d ever come this far?

 

Thanks for tuning in!  Until next time — Lauren ☾

 

Lauren Fournier is an artist and writer currently based in Toronto.
She is working on her PhD in feminist theory and performance art at York University.

Photography credits: Lee Henderson (www.noattainment.com)

Witchy Boots and Handpoked Tattoos

My mother always told me that shoes make or break an outfit. This was a rather traumatic realization for me, as I had stubbornly despised going shoe shopping from a young age and resisted my mother’s coaxing into this world that, according to the plots of rom-coms, all women were supposed to love. Shoes, chocolate, and wine — these are things that adult women are made of. I tend to spend more of my money on the latter two than I do on shoes, though I’ve grown to appreciate the pivotal role that shoes play in forming an outfit.

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While I am not a fetishist, connoisseur, or avid collector of shoes, I do have a soft spot for a really interesting boot. I found these Victorian-style lace-up heeled boots, which I lovingly call my “witch-ay boots,” at Chosen Vintage on Queen West in Toronto. The detailing on the leather is incredible. My favourite part of these boots is the dramatically pointed toe: wearing these makes me feel like I have supernatural powers.

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The “witchy boot” style works really well with 1990s-style dresses, both long and short. Here I am wearing mine with a long red paisley-patterned number from the nineties, recently gifted to me from my mother’s closet.  It’s pretty great when you get to wear your mom’s hand-me-downs!  The dress strikes that precious balance between loosely flowing and comfortably form-fitted: something I always look for in a dress.

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If you prefer wearing pants, witchy boots look great with a pair of high-waisted Levi’s jeans (for a vintage feel) or tight black pants (for a more contemporary feel). I suggest rolling up the bottoms of the jeans so that more of the boot can be seen.

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I’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned my mother a number of times in this post. Perhaps it is this perpetual mention of witches.  I am lucky enough to be very close with my mother, but there are certain points that we disagree on.  There are two things that I have to hide from my lovely Christian mother. One is my fascination with witches and paganism, and the other is my stick-and-poke tattoos.  Both of these things are taboo — especially in the context I was raised in.

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Stick and pokes have become quite the fashion trend.  Indeed, I just came across an article that has been making its way around Facebook: the article states that, if 2014 was the year for septum piercings, then 2015 is the year of the handpoked tattoo. My friend Eva, a Vancouver-based artist and stick-and-poke tattooer, gave me three handpoked tattoos: a crescent moon on my thigh, a female sign on the inside of my finger, and two hands on my shoulder (seen here).  Apparently I am not alone in my inherited shame complex, as Eva’s tumblr page can be found at “makeyrmomsad”.  I suggest you browse through Eva’s whimsical tattoo art — she travels up and down the west coast, so perhaps she’ll be in your area soon!

http://makeyrmomsad.tumblr.com/

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As a young woman and artist studying feminist theory and performance art, I am intrigued by the cultural weight that ‘witchery’ possesses (pun intended) in our society. In the worlds of both alternative and mainstream fashion, witchery is being taken up as a style — gothic pagan wave, for example, is my jam! In the awesome queer-feminist art circles that I frequent, witchery is being re-appropriated as a radical way of viewing ourselves in relation to nature, astrology, animals, and our bodies. I have found peace in my love of witchery. This Easter weekend I will be performing a femi-pagan piece with my friend Jen MacDonald entitled No Future Fertility Ritual at White House Studio Project in Kensington Market in Toronto.  Come by and check it out if you’re in the area!

 

Thanks for tuning in!  Until next time — Lauren ☾

 

Lauren Fournier is an artist and writer currently based in Toronto.
She is working on her PhD in feminist theory and performance art at York University.

Photography credits: Lee Henderson (www.noattainment.com)