WELCOME TO MAI ISSUE ONE

Dearest MAI Readers,

When we started this journal in summer 2017, we couldn’t have anticipated the support and enthusiasm with which this project has been greeted. Some of you may know of the Swedish actress and film director Mai Zetterling, but many of you will never have heard of her. She’s extremely important to us – a feminist spirit guide of sorts – and we believe she deserves a collective founded in her name!

This is an attempt to form a journal worthy of her feminist, experimental and ground-breaking work; to that end, the intention of MAI is to give voice to those who often find themselves, like Mai Zetterling herself, unable to fit within the confines and strictures of the institutions so many of us inhabit; to bring creative work into dialogue with scholarship; and more than anything, to challenge those hegemonic, patriarchal structures that bind us and prevent us from growing.

Our creative ideas for this journal would not have come to fruition without the dedicated web team who have helped to create a platform for us to share interdisciplinary and intersectional work engaging with a range of visual cultures. We have been strengthened and heartened to see how MAI has brought so many people together from a range of backgrounds to contribute to this conversation – we are, first and foremost, a collaborative effort. This journal would not even have reached issue one without the tireless work of the editorial board. Every single day, we are reminded that we, as feminists, are nothing individually without solidarity and communication.

This issue is our first and it is exemplary of how we would like to continue: here, you will find video essays alongside scholarly articles, poetry alongside short films, reviews alongside personal engagement with artworks; photographic work alongside collages. The common thread that all these pieces share is a radical personal engagement with art from a feminist perspective. MAI does not value one form of thinking over any other: we welcome considered, empathic engagement that is as varied as human beings are. We adore the use of I, the acknowledgement of limitations, vulnerabilities, perspective and subjectivity. Above all, our aim is to produce collaboration and dialogue from the way in which the journal is structured and run to each particular issue and how it comes to exist in this world. Feminism is an action that is performed in collaboration in the world: it is not some abstruse, abstract form of thinking. We honestly believe that feminism can make this world a far better place for many people.

Central to MAI as a publication is open access as an ethical principle. We believe that feminist engagement is the domain of everyone: not just the privileged few behind the walls of institutions with access to academic libraries. We believe that the onus should never be on the writer/artist/poet/filmmaker to pay to make their own work accessible to all. We are entirely against this exploitative model of academic publishing and we are here to be the change that we want to see in the world.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us thus far: we could not and would not be doing this without you! It is our intention to grow from here, to listen, to collaborate, to celebrate the work of feminists everywhere.

Please dig in to MAI Issue One.

Anna Backman Rogers & Anna Misiak

May 2018

Mai and MAI: A Reflection

by

Critical Reflection

Demystifying the worthy figure behind our journal’s name, Mariah Larsson reads MAI Manifesto and praises Mai Zetterling (1925-1994) to show her as the most fitting patron of our work.

1

On Brilliance: Making Light of Women’s Creative Labour

by

Critical Reflection

Rebecca Harrison shares a personal, critical reflection on cultural evaluations of women’s work and the metaphors of light.

2

The Lessons We Have Learnt: How Sexism in American Politics Sparked Off the New Feminist Renaissance

by

Critical Reflection

Unintentionally, in offensive language, the sexist Trump reminded all women that, as Rebecca Walker once said, ‘to be a feminist is … to join in sisterhood with women.’

3

Let’s hear it for the girls! Representations of Diverse Girlhoods, Feminism, Intersectionality and Activism in Contemporary Graphic Novels and Comics

by

Critical Reflection

Agency and activism in comics aimed at young women: a case study of Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, Lumberjanes, and Ms Marvel.

4

Abandoning Happiness for Life: Mourning and Futurity in Maja Borg’s Future My Love (2012)

by with illustrations by Gabriel Maher

Critical Reflection

Backman Rogers watches Maja Borg’s Future My Love (2012) to ponder on our quests for happiness and intimate relationships.

5

Disappearing into the Future Perfect: Spaces of Self-Picturing in the Diaries of Susan Sontag and Alix Cléo Roubaud

by

Critical Reflection

Elkin situates the diaries of Alix Roubaud and Susan Sontag alongside their creative work. A new reckoning of the personal and political.

6

‘My body isn’t my own’: War, Monsters, and Matriarchy in Monstress (2015- )

by

Critical Reflection

Jones views Marjorie Liu’s Monstress to argue that this comic series radically reworks and counteracts the racist and sexist standards of mainstream comics.

7

‘Popular’ Feminism, Pharmacopornography and Media Strategies: Some Initial Thoughts

by

Critical Reflection

A critique of neoliberal recuperations of feminism: women on the market 2.0.

8

How the Light Gets In: Notes on the Female Gaze and Selfie Culture

by

Critical Reflection

Going back as far as 1914 to tell the story of a suffragette Mary Richardson, Mary McGill contemplates the power of female gaze in today’s selfie culture.

9

Neither the One nor the Other: Photographic Errors—Subjectivity, Subversion and the In-Between

by

Critical Reflection

A personal reflection on the nature of the photographic error. Piper-Wright situates happenstance and error as a feminist photographic response.

10

MAI in Conversation with Hope Dickson Leach

by

Interview

In November 2017, the Scottish BAFTA winner, Hope Dickson Leach and MAI contributing editor, Neil Fox talked about women, film industry, privilege, boring and interesting cinema and much more.

11

Ladies Case Almanack

by

Interview

Mairead Case interviews Stephanie Acosta and Daviel Shy who made The Ladies Case Almanack (2017), an experimental feminist film inspired by Djuna Barnes’ 1928 book.

12

Exploring Self-identification through Verbal and Visual Dialogue

by & Yasmine Akim

Interview

Discussing their seemingly distant projects, photographers Patricia Prieto Blanco and Yasmine Akim share ideas on female creative practice and self-identification.

13

Persona Non Grata Sonata

by & Amber Jacobs

Creative Practice

Persona Non Grata Sonata is a video essay (6’32”). Using sequences from Persona (1966) and Autumn Sonata (1978), the essay was made in 2018.

14

Bête Noir

by

Creative Practice

Bête Noir is an experimental narrative short film that illuminates the internalization of the male gaze.

15

Oksana Kazmina’s The Wedding in Docu_Presence: a project by composer/performer Solomiya Moroz

by & Solomiya Moroz Solomiya Moroz

Creative Response

In a deconstruction of Ukrainian wedding traditions, Solomiya Moroz explores Oksana Kazmina’s feminist interventions in archival video footage.

16

Blood Rhythms – Jessica Tillings

by

Creative Response

Inspired by Tracey Emin’s My Bed and Shelley Jackson’s My Body— A Wunderkammer, Jessica Tillings produces a series of artworks concerned with process, self-portrait and the power of blood.

17

Future Feminism

by

Creative Response

Inspired by the ‘Thirteen Tenets of Future Feminism’, Sophia Kier-Byfield writes an affective document in fragments about a series of events and workshops at O space in Aarhus, Denmark.

18

Futurist paratexts of the ‘infamous butter scene’

by

Creative Response

Following the media storm around Maria Schneider’s treatment on the set of Last Tango in Paris, Jazmine Linklater draws on manifestoes, media interviews and Laura Mulvey’s essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ to create a bristling textual collage.

19

Instant Triangle

by

Creative Response

In a personal, cross-genre piece examining female desire, Nia Davies interrogates the three-way dynamic between viewer, viewed and photographer on Instagram.

20

The Funambulist – Paulette Jonguitud responds to Iris Epstein’s ‘Pájaro Funámbulo’

by

Creative Response

Paulette Jonguitud articulates the struggle to continue feminist practice in art, and in life, in this fabular tale of women’s existence during wartime.

21

Woman/ Jeanne Dielman

by

Creative Response

Forty-two years after Chantal Akerman made her film about Jeanne Dielman, Gloria Dawson writes a poem as she watches the woman on the screen.

22

Women with Erections

by

Creative Response

In a fragmentary poetic essay, Amy McCauley examines penises, the act of looking and two works by female artists: ‘Fillette’ by Louise Bourgeois and ‘Action Pants’ by Valie Export.

23

Liberated Sex: Firestone on Love and Sexuality

by

Book Review

A retrospective critical assessment of Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex (1970).

24

Intoxicated Feminisms and the Politics of the Visible: Khairani Barokka’s Indigenous Species

by

Book Review

A review of Khairani Barokka’s Indigenous Species (2016).

25

Reading and Resistance: Re-visiting The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense in Politically Turbulent Times

by

Book Review

A critical look at Kara Keeling’s first monograph The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (2007).

26

Digital Violence: A Symposium

by

Report

A critical reflection on the ‘Digital Violence’ symposium at Anglia Ruskin University: engaging with contemporary digital politics and misogyny.

27

Newsletter

Feeling inspired by MAI? Dedicated to intersectional gender politics in visual culture? Want to keep your feminist imagination on fire? MAI newsletter will help refresh your zeal for feminism with first-hand news on our new content. 

Subscribe below to stay up-to-date.

* We'll never share your email address with any third parties.

WHO SUPPORTS US

The team of MAI supporters and contributors is always expanding. We’re honoured to have a specialist collective of editors, whose enthusiasm & talent gave birth to MAI.

However, to turn our MAI dream into reality, we also relied on assistance from high-quality experts in web design, development and photography. Here we’d like to acknowledge their hard work and commitment to the feminist cause. Our feminist ‘thank you’ goes to:


Dots+Circles – a digital agency determined to make a difference, who’ve designed and built our MAI website. Their continuous support became a digital catalyst to our idealistic project.
Guy Martin – an award-winning and widely published British photographer who’s kindly agreed to share his images with our readers

Chandler Jernigan – a talented young American photographer whose portraits hugely enriched the visuals of MAI website
Matt Gillespie – a gifted professional British photographer who with no hesitation gave us permission to use some of his work
Julia Carbonell – an emerging Spanish photographer whose sharp outlook at contemporary women grasped our feminist attention
Ana Pedreira – a self-taught Portuguese photographer whose imagery from women protests beams with feminist aura
And other photographers whose images have been reproduced here: Cezanne Ali, Les Anderson, Mike Wilson, Annie Spratt, Cristian Newman, Peter Hershey