Introduction: Staying and Learning
Oreet Ashery, 2009
Page 4 of 4
At the end of the interactive part of the project, I found the characters so appealing and archetypal and with such an artistic potential that I decided to create a series of 12 cards, one for each character. The cards can be used as topics for discussions, or as a starting point for an art piece. We dedicated a photography session to this end, where each participant chose an image from the internet related to their character and drew the projected image. Looking at internet images was a useful way to discuss artworks and other related topics, and also a good way to bring the characters into an external discourse that connects to the participants’ real lives. The internet images related to the characters raised lively discussions around subjects like: rubbish, care, the nature of rebelliousness and the subculture of Studs.
A second invited guest to the sessions was the black lesbian filmmaker Campbell X. Campbell showed us a film she made in which she goes back to Trinidad and talks to her parents about her sexual orientation and she also talks to gay men and lesbians about what it means to be gay in Trinidad. Campbell also talked about ways of making films about one’s own life with little to no budget, and the possibilities of distributing them on the internet. We looked at examples of such films. Following this session, the group conducted a series of short video interviews. The transcribed texts are in each character’s chapter.
The last visitor was the poet Cherry Smyth. Cherry performed a reading of her own and other poems and took the women through a series of poetry writing processes, which produced the poems you can read in the book. I love the explicitness of some of the poems and the diverse cultural references used.
The last and most unusual character is Super Lover. Super Lover is not a participant’s character, it is the group’s character, created by the group members through discussion, improvisation games and photography. Super Lover was developed in order to discuss sex, erotica and relationships, topics that seemed extremely urgent for the women to share with each other. We talked about what good lesbian porn might be like, and what the problems are with it as it stands. Super Lover is the perfect lover for everyone, and so she yelled the question: ‘What is the perfect lover for you?’ The group’s discussions around Super Lover were some of the most vivid and animated. People were extremely open and engaged, and I rejoiced in what seemed to be the nearest I am ever going to get to be part of those mythical feminist awareness-raising women’s groups of the 1970s, when women apparently shared information, their desires and their anatomy with one other. As you may read in the Super Lover chapter, the discussion explores sexual acts, power relationships in sex, daring to ask for the fulfillment of fantasies from a lover and the use of sex toys. This last topic unexpectedly seemed to be highly provocative. I felt in this session the political value of sharing experiences and opinions about sex in a group situation, especially when people’s cultural backgrounds are diverse, and that what seems obvious is still worth talking about because no knowledge can ever be taken for granted.
I learnt so much from that particular session; the one thing that stuck with me particularly is that if you want to ask your lover to take part in a sexual fantasy but feel too shy to ask them in person, leave a note on the fridge door. Right now I can’t think of a better idea for a script.