Artists Remake the World
The Author

The Author : Julien Bécourt


Julien Bécourt is a writer and an art critic. He has written for Chronic’art, Vice, artpress, Audimat, Images de la Culture, RBMA, and collaborates on a regular basis with Mouvement, Grazia and Trois Couleurs. His main focus is on avant-garde and ... [ read more ]

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Bonus :

Benjamin Kahn, Sorry but I feel slightly disidentified


Thesaurus :

Sexual Empowerment corresponds to increasing autonomy and self-determination, the sexual emancipation of women and the sense of having power over one’s decisions and body. This notion refers to the rejection of restrictive, normalising labels, and focuses on the recognition of relationships of oppression, domination and sexualisation exercised on the body through engaging in a process of taking on power and self-confidence. The process is also aimed at legitimising speech and the place occupied in space, largely colonised by the presence of men, and affirming one’s position by creating relationships of trust, esteem, patience and benevolence.

Gibberish rap refers to Mumble rap, a controversial term because of its reductive, pejorative nature and the fact that it does not refer to any specific kind of rap. Invented by singer-songwriter Wiz Khalifa in 2016, it refers to a subgenre of rap music that emerged in the United States in the early to mid-2010s (identifiable by its lyrical content and sound, linked in particular to the extensive use of drum machine kicks). It is characterised by the lack of importance given to the text, which is mumbled and hard to understand (an opinion contested by critics of the term), as well as recurrent themes related to drugs, money, jewellery, branded clothing, etc.

Intersectionality is a term proposed by the American black feminist scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989, and refers to the simultaneous discrimination, through racism and sexism, experienced by African-American women. Intersectionality demonstrates that systems of domination and oppression related to sex, gender, class and race are cumulative. This approach also informs the field of Postcolonial Studies and Queer Studies.

Queer theory emerged in the early 1990s and initially focused on the study of the history of LGBT movements and the experiences of queer people, and then hybridised with other fields such as biology, sociology or philosophy, etc. Queer theory offers tools to analyse and critique dominant systems: hetero-normative, cisgender and white, theorised by people on the margins of these systems. By analysing the academic form, Queer theory allows new forms of exchange to emerge, whether political, cultural, scientific or emotional.

Postcolonial studies Postcolonial studies were born in the 1980s in the United States, inspired in particular by Edward Said’s Orientalism, published in 1978. It is a body of work and research that takes note of the colonialist dimension and thinking in order to develop critical thinking towards the West and its claim to universalism.

Originally called reality rap in the mid-1980s (rap that described the social situation and difficult living conditions in poor neighbourhoods), gangsta rap appeared in the late 1980s in the United States, where it became a major success in connection with the music industry. It plays on and uses codes of virility, notably linked to the figure of the gangster in the ghetto, a violent, lawless lifestyle, with recurrent themes related to drugs, sex, money, hatred of the police, homophobia, women or pimping. Rappers, often gang members, recount the stories of their lives, and the scenes of violence and domination associated with them (racism, police persecution), in the first-person. It is also characterised by a language and way of speaking known as gangsta, by an attitude of superiority and ego tripping (an attempt to flatter or enhance the ego).
Appearing in the 1990s in the Houston hip-hop scene in the United States, and widely launched by DJ Screw, chopped and screwed (screwed and chopped or slowed and throwed) refers to a mixing technique that involves slowing the tempo down to 60 and 70 bpm (beats per minute) and applying techniques such as scratching (a mixing technique obtained by quickly scrolling back and forth the short sequence of a disc as it plays), stop-time and changing portions of an original composition to create a “chopped-up” version.

Ball culture is an underground subculture created in the 1970s in the United States by trans women and Afro-Latino drag queens in response to perceived racism within the LGBT community, where white people consistently won the drag queen contests. The community is made up of different Houses (families), each with a mother and father who pass on the learning to the kids. These spaces are designed to be non-restrictive, made to celebrate different identities. Voguing is a dance practised in Balls, where the different families compete, with various performance categories such as Old Way, derived from mannequin poses, New Way, which introduces contortion, or the very feminine Vogue Fem, and movements like the Duckwalk or Spins and Dips (where the participant turns on the beat and drops to the floor).

Around the text
15 October 2020

Cherish Menzo
Distorted Rap Body

On stage, Cherish Menzo’s stature is impressive: steel body with protruding muscles, oversized false nails, long braids, teeth covered with a grill and vindictive expressions. After having performed for numerous choreographers and as a soloist under the direction of Benjamin Kahn (Sorry, but I feel slightly disidentified…), the Dutch dancer and performer reappropriates in her solo JEZEBEL the aesthetics of the Video Vixens, those athletic and outrageously sensual young black women who appeared in the mainstream rap videos of the 1990s. Female empowerment or commercial exploitation? What remains of this figure once transposed into an abstract universe? Gendered and racialized stereotypes are deconstructed in order to establish a new identity: that of an uncanny, post-gender Jezebel.

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