CHARLES STEVENSON, from Fossil Free UCL, recounts the recent activity of the society amidst signs that UCL might finally be divesting. Earlier this term, climate activist group Fossil Free carried out their latest protest at UCL’s investment portfolio: a die-in outside the office of UCL provost Michael Arthur. On Friday 16th November, students marched under a red ribbon intended to symbolise the human and environmental rights violations associated with climate change. The protesters then lay down in solidarity with the victims of climate change. Spokespersons for Fossil Free said the aim was to remind the university of the student and academic bodies’ continued rejection of the use of their money to support the fossil fuel industry. In this way, they hoped to emphasise the urgency of transitioning away from fossil energy in order to avoid climate breakdown. ‘Like tobacco funding health research’ is how Ben Franta, US Climate Activist and Stanford…Continue Reading

Fossil Free UCL: Update

ESME MILLER reviews The Whisper of the Jaguar as part of SAVAGE’s coverage of Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival. In the context of Jair Bolsonaro’s recent victory, a man with an unashamedly hostile attitude towards women, homosexuals and indigenous Brazilians, The Whisper of the Jaguar is desperately needed in the current socio-political climate of Brazil. In opposition to the conservative values promoted by president-elect, the film serves both to express LGBTQ+ pride and to highlight the beauty and current endangerment of the Amazonia. Within this framework, directors Simone Jaikiriuma Paetau and Thais Guisasola explore a myriad of dichotomous themes: the indigenous vs the colonial, the expansion of industrial capitalism vs the preservation of the Amazon rainforest, and sexual emancipation vs historically ingrained female oppression. The plot is introduced by the voice of Ana, a punk musician from the inner city. She is retracing the steps of her late trans sibling, Sebastian, an…Continue Reading

The Whisper of the Jaguar

JASPER NEWPORT explores the decadent party age of the 1920s and its moral implications in Fitzgerald’s literature. The Great Gatsby, perhaps the finest work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, encapsulates the Jazz Age. Immersing the reader in the extreme highs and lows of the time, the novel explores the doomed, tragic-heroic figure of Jay Gatsby as he seeks the love of his past in the decadent world that surrounds him. His story is a reflection of the context that inspired it; America is immersed in the gaudy, outrageous excess of 1922, visible in the rich imagery that catapulted Fitzgerald into literary fame. By examining the chaos of Gatsby’s parties, the extent of the cruel and corruptive wealth of this period is exposed. Readers feel the guilt and damage that decadence exacted on Americans, and understand Gatsby’s futile attempt to be a quiet, noble alternative to these extravagances. Let’s consider the significance…Continue Reading

Gatsby’s Parties: Uproar and Extravagance

CHIARA MAURINO analyses the representation of the environment in Seamus Heaney’s poems ‘Act of Union’ and ‘The Bog Queen’. The landscape has always been a vital theme in poetry. Artists of all ages have looked to their environment, be it natural or social, as inspiration for their works. But all too quickly we tend to associate natural imagery with romanticism, and with the sublime, the spiritual and the healing. We forget, perhaps, how the natural environment tells a story of its own, how it combines and couples with history to give its inhabitants a sense of national identity. Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney portrays the Irish landscape as a victim and an aggressor in his poems, thus exploring the connections between history, violence and the natural environment. Conforming to ancient Irish poetic traditions, Heaney creates an unbreakable bond between women and nature, which critics have taken to be a reference…Continue Reading

Violent landscapes: poetry and identity

ENERZAYA GUNDALAI reviews Space Shifters at Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery. Beaded curtains, mirrors, translucent columns, and shining stainless steel orbs: these are the forms that inhabit Space Shifters. The Hayward Gallery’s recent group exhibition consists of a haphazard circus of repurposed objects. Unified by refined curatorial work, the artworks challenge preconceived notions of form and identity. Featuring 20 artists, almost all of the pieces in this exhibition relate to two major American art movements in the 1960s known as ‘Optical Art’ (or ‘Op Art’), and the Los Angeles-based era of art production, ‘West-Coast Minimalism.’ Artworks from these movements often explore ways of capturing objectivity. Space is warped to subvert the artist’s presence. This manipulation of form and space produces an ambiguity of shape that ultimately gives the viewer the agency to conceive and interpret the artwork. The exhibition spaces are constructed to transform the physical art object into an immersive…Continue Reading

Mirror, Mirror

BEATRICE KANIKA TECHAWATANASUK reviews Birds of Passage, a postcolonial take on the South American drug trade. Going beyond drug warfare and blood splattering, Birds of Passage is a true story about the Colombian narcotics trade that refuses to follow the established formula of the mafia genre. Unlike Narcos (the hit Netflix show on the same subject), the film does not employ glitzy caricatures, artificially fast-paced rhythm nor contrived dialogue. Instead, Oscar-nominated director Ciro Guerra and co-director Cristina Gallego have crafted a nuanced portrayal of the indigenous Wayúu people as they grapple with the challenges of the drug trade. The resulting product is a distinctly postcolonial story – it is refreshing, intriguing, and will not be easily replicated. Birds of Passage is foremost about family and bloodlines. At the start of the film, the Wayúu people chant: ‘if there is family, there is respect. If there is respect, there is honour.…Continue Reading

Birds of Passage

SAYEH YOUSEFI reviews an event at the British Library delving into Sylvia Plath’s personal letters and the light they shed on her as a writer. Decades after her untimely death, the life and works of Sylvia Plath are regarded as one of the pinnacles of literary curiosity. One of the most acclaimed poets of her generation and a pioneer for women writers, Plath’s personal life is often overshadowed by her grave, her public reputation and her, at times, tragic work. In an effort to gain a greater understanding into the life and thoughts of Plath, editors Karen V. Kukil and Peter K. Steinburg have curated The Letters of Sylvia Plath Volume II: 1956–1963. Published by Faber and Faber, this new volume consists of a collection of letters from the later years of Plath’s life, providing readers and scholars insight into her work and personal life. They give a new look…Continue Reading

Triple-Threat Woman

A poem by XARA ZABIHI DUTTON. (for the boy who goes to the gym after his lecture) His soles step worn pavements, Jumping recognisable cracks Building the palace of the body His soles pad inside the grey obelisk Seeking amber-lit convocation Engineering the palace of the mind One holds a protein shake before his torso The other clutches a leather satchel at his side   Both share a grim demeanor instead of a smile, Lips pinned by unpronounced cases.   Monochromatic concepts strike the lines of his brow Engorge the folds of his eyes,   Yet they are one in inflections which concord: deconstructing Demonstratives by hand Spines exhorted to curvature, by their labour they are hardened. Repeated patterns wear paths into trenches, Intensity transmutes into dogma. Seeking to establish a stable identity, They sacrifice their porousness; calcify. As brittle as they are dog-eared, They close in on themselves, Drawing…Continue Reading

How Old English Works

JADE BURROUGHES explores the noise of protest art by neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. In a 2017 survey, Spanish visual media artist Daniel G. Andújar claimed that ‘democracy has become an aesthetic matter’. He is not alone in this analysis. He is one of many to recognise art’s political potential. To me, Andújar’s mantra starkly resonates with the work of neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. Since the 1980s feminist wave, Holzer has demonstrated an unrivalled capacity in tearing through dominant socio-political narratives which stifled critical democratic conversation and pacified populations. Noise is vital in intercepting these top-down induced unilateral discourses: one can think of no noisier art genre than protest art. Holzer stands as a frontline proponent of this. In the current political climate, silence is utilised as a weapon to repress the propagation of justice noted most overtly in the use of gag orders to silence #MeToo victims. It is necessary…Continue Reading

Exercises of Democracy and Aesthetics

A poem by SOPHIA WALLS. I stumbled then fell, the water’s surface a door closing everything behind me. I banged, pulled, slammed, thudded, dialling numbers, numbers, numbers. But the surface was fading away. Answer, answer, answer, answer, please. Hannah, Amanda, Peter, Fred. Who would answer? Someone get me out of here, get me out: Drown out these voices drowning out me. Who will accept me into the world above? Bring me back to the surface? Who? Who? Who? Let me out. Beeps and ‘’sorry your call is not available right now’’. Why should anyone answer my desperate cries for acceptance when these worlds of mine, will not? Name after name and number and loud speaker and red, unhopeful hang-ups, glaring all the hope out of me. Where was my existence? Where the was it? Get me out of here so I can find it amidst the long, long chats, the…Continue Reading

Mute

NICK FERRIS interviews Aliza Ayaz, founder and president of UCL Climate Action Society, in anticipation of the society’s flagship event, The Sustainability Symposium, taking place on 16th November. It is September 2017. Students are returning to UCL, ready for a year of twelve-hour stints in the library, lectures in the Royal National Hotel and striking academics. Swarms of bright-eyed freshers flood the Bloomsbury Campus, hopelessly searching for Medawar and Rockefeller Buildings as they struggle to make it to 12pms following the previous night’s Freshers’ Week antics. Come the Freshers’ Fair, thousands eagerly sign up to everything from Chocolate society to Ultimate Frisbee, Muay Thai to UCL Marxists. Amongst this new cohort of undergraduates was one Aliza Ayaz, a half-Lebanese, half-Pakistani permanent resident of Dubai studying the tiny specialised course of Population Health. She was among the attendees the Freshers’ Fair, but unlike most, she left feeling uninspired. For Aliza was…Continue Reading

Interview: Aliza Ayaz

MAILI NEGI iterates the Swiss Passport Office art experience at Galerie Thaddeaus Ropac. Tom Sachs’ 24-hour live art installation, Swiss Passport Office, gave privileged art enthusiasts a watered-down experience of applying for citizenship to a foreign country. Sachs chose to imitate the issuing of Swiss passports because, to him, Swiss citizenship is ‘the ultimate status nationality, representing wealth, neutrality, and freedom.’ By handing out Swiss citizenship for 20€, Sachs symbolically sold the right to travel freely (without a visa) to many counties. When asked about the experiential installation he declared, ‘I am making the world not the way it is, but the way I want it to be. I want everyone to have the most prestigious passport in the world so they can travel and trade freely’. In today’s political climate this is a statement heavy with meaning. His installation alludes to major social and political issues such as the…Continue Reading

Tom Sachs: Worlds Without Borders