MAKING SOME BEAUTIFUL NOISE
It’s sometimes hard to slow down, to make time to reflect on what we do in our lives, let alone why we’re doing it. That’s probably why I find myself writing this post a week into 2018 rather than in the annual no man’s land between Christmas and New Year – the time of year where we’re bombarded with round ups, summations, yearly reviews and a hell of a lot of lists. But hey, I think 2018 is going to be all about transitions into new ways, well that's my hope, that change is afoot.
I think the pervading paradigm shift from 2016 to 2017 is appropriately summed up in the seismic difference between Time magazine’s 2016 Person of the Year - the infamous Donald Trump - to 2017’s Person of the Year 'The Silence Breakers', who are a diverse group of women and men that have broken their silence to speak out about the, “inappropriate, abusive and in some cases illegal behavior they've faced” that Time magazine writes, that spans “all races, all income classes, all occupations and virtually all corners of the globe.”
So a year on from all those Women's Marches what have we learnt? Well, there’s still a lot of assholes out there…And the reality is that making change is a slow, convoluted process. The Internet continues to be controlled by domineering men making money out of whatever we say – whether it’s positive or negative - and a hell of a lot of the time just down right abusive - but it’s not all bad. Just look at how the #metoo campaign filtered through social media platforms offering a place for women to speak out about sexual harassment and other un-invited behaviours. Of course, there’s catharsis in sharing our experiences but also, more importantly, this public vocalisation is a catalyst for solidarity. According to CNN, there were more than 2.3 million #MeToo tweets from 85 countries; and on Facebook, over 24 million people participated in the conversation by posting, reacting, and commenting over 77 million times (since 15 October).
One hopes that the more we normalise these conversations - that it is unacceptable to use power as a predatory tool, the more these concepts weave themselves back into the fabric of our society in a different, better way. But, there’s a long way to go. Horrifyingly, the UN have estimated that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives (with some national studies taking this figure up to 70%). Whilst in cyberspace, 1 in 10 women in the EU have been harassed (for example, receiving unwanted, offensive sexually explicit emails or SMS messages, or offensive, inappropriate advances on social networking sites…)
So how do we make forge safer public spaces for everyone? Artist, musician Lido Pimienta has been challenging the conventions of how we consume live music. She seeks and demands of her audience a greater integration, often reconfiguring the crowd to bring others to the front there’s equality but also a practicality to this. She regularly asks men to move to the back of the venue to making space for women, in particular, inviting women of colour and trans people to come to the front. She has said, ‘I love my audience. I love men. I love all women, and I am inspired by everyone, but I am not blind to the unsettling effects of colonialism and white supremacy," says Pimienta. "I will not stop doing everything in my power to make oppressed people feel safe and show them the respect that they deserve at my shows."
Pimienta is a potent symbol of another way. A compelling performer, she has set herself up as an artist and entrepreneur, taking full control of both the artistic and commercial components of her career and it's empowering and inspiring to see. Her latest album the prize winning, La Papessa, for example was self-released with funding from the Ontario Arts Coucil.
Her music, is an electronic soundscape of loops, beats and bass, accompanied by her searing, harmonious voice, that intertwines the contemporary with elements of musical heritage from her native Colombia… But unlike many of her contemporaries singing about the usual consumer aspirations, there’s purpose beneath the euphoric beats.
“I cannot ignore it. It’s just interesting when you live in this hyphen – like Canadian-Colombian-Indigenous-Black – all the hyphens and all the boxes that I can check off in any application or whatever. I am stuck in this hyphen so it doesn’t matter. If I wanna write a song about flowers, it ends up being political, just because of my body, just because of, you know, not singing in English. Everything that I do, whether I like it or not ends up being a political statement, even if I’m just writing about fucking, you know?” Said Pimienta to Loud and Quiet magazine for their December edition.
And whilst the music does have a message, she sees the execution and delivery as key, “my music is more so activist, rebellious poetry, so I don’t point the finger or patronize; I just say it like it is in a very beautiful way, because I find that beauty is an excellent tool to get a point across,” says Pimienta
So here’s to 2018 and to making beautiful noise that continues to unveil inequality and injustice with creativity and flair.