Sunday, October 23, 2005


For this self-portrait I decided to embody a woman who has had a tremendous impact on my views based on the issues of feminism and womanhood: Kathleen Hanna. If you’re not already familiar, Kathleen Hanna made her mark on the world when she introduced her band, Bikini Kill, onto the music scene. This band helped to identify the movement known as Riot Grrl, defined as a form a hardcore punk music, known for its militant feminist stance. Though her present band, Le Tigre, which mixes dance rhythms with politically aware lyrics, has made Hanna a more pronounced name in the music scene, Bikini Kill will always remain spinning in my stereo.
In the CD booklet of “The CD Version of the First Two Records”, Hanna included an original essay entitled “Jigsaw Youth”. This essay, as the title suggests, describes selfhood as a process of reinvention, as well as connection, of the fractional pieces of an identity.
As you can see, I put a jigsaw-like portrait of Kathleen Hanna in the upper left-hand corner and a copy of Hanna’s essay in the opposite corner. In order for this to be representational, “me but not me”, I included the copy of “Jigsaw Youth” that I typed up on a vintage typewriter. This, I feel, incorporates “me” more than enough. I hardly ever use my typewriter because it is so old, and once ink on the ribbon demises, the typewriter will be a mere eyesore. However, this statement meant so much to me that I felt to reiterate it properly, typing it on a priceless typewriter will, therefore, turn her words into a solid, priceless artifact, whose meaning I will only understand.

Here is a copy of Hanna’s essay:

JIGSAW YOUTH by Kathleen Hanna

We live in a world that tells us we must choose an identity, a career, a relationship, and commit... to these situations… as if we know what’s gonna happen tomorrow, as if we aren’t ever gonna change, as if we don’t live in a world of constant flux… which we do.
Don’t freak out cuz the jigsaw is laying on the floor and it’s all the way done and has been laying there for 4 whole hours now, resist the freak out, you will get to it… it’s all part of the process.

To force some forever identity on other people is stupid. Point out inconsistencies in their behavior, explain how they are not truly what they say because you saw them do this one time… why?Because it is easier to deal with cardboard cut outs than real people, cuz a lot of us pretend like we’re the center of the universe sometimes and everyone is just background extras in the movie we imagine we star in. WELL WHILE WE ARE ALL ARGUING ABOUT WHOSE ONNA GET TO OPEN FOR THE MELVINS, WHOSE GONNA WEAR WHAT TO THE PARTY, WHOSE LAME/TAME BECAUSE THEY PERPETUATE THIS THING WE HATE, WHO IS NOT REALLY A PUNK ROCKER CUZ: I remember when he/she used to listen to Duran Duran. THE REVOLUTION IS GOING DOWN… no its not happening without us, it is just plain not happening at all… it is going down under the gurgling sounds of our own voices, reproducing the voice of our parents in a slightly altered way, the tv people…trying to dictate to each other what it is and what it isn’t cool or revolutionary or true resistance, what is or isn’t true in other peoples lives we sit around making all these boxes and labels, nothing to put in them, we are wasting valuable time. FUCK THAT SHIT, LETS START TALKING FOR REAL.

To be a stripper who is a feminist, to be an absurd child holding a microphone screaming all those things that were promised, in one way or another, I won’t tell. These are contradictions I have lived. They exist, these contradictions cuz I exist. Every fucking feminist is not the same, every fucking girl is not the same, okay???Because I live in a world that hates women and I am one…who is struggling desperately not to hate women, myself, my best girlfriends, my whole life is constantly felt by me as a contradiction. In order for me to exist I must believe that two contradictory things can exist in the same space. This is not a choice I make, it just is.

JIGSAW, a puzzle made up of all different weird shaped pieces. It seems like it will never come together, it makes no sense, but it can and it does and it will. Jigsaw, pieces like where you grew up and in what kind of fucked up culture and do you have a penis or not and did your parents have money and did you get teased for wearing the same coat four winters in a row and are you Thai-American or Black or Mulatto? And what do all these things mean when you are trying to resist, do something, have a good time??? I see the jigsaw, fuzzy in my head as everything else, sometimes clear. The fat that he grew up in a working class family has everything to do with how he is gonna express sexism, what kind of music he is gonna like, how I am gonna treat him. Jigsaw girl, she got fucked up by her father, 8 years, people say she’s flakey and inconsistent, lays in her bed eating donuts, resisting going outside where the silence will engulf her, rather sit there eating than always be eaten up… her experience has everything to do with how the pieces are fitting together or not for her, judge her from your place without wondering whats going on in that there Jigsaw mind of hers, and you have pushed her further away from clicking, her hand wants so bad to feel, one edge against another, together, one piece next to another, locking into place… you have to be able to see the puzzle before you start putting it together.

Resistance is everywhere, it always has been and always will be. Just because someone is not resisting in the same way you are, being a vegan, an out lesbian, a political organizer, does not mean they are not resisting. Being told you are a worthless piece of shit and not believing it is a form of resistance. One girl calling another girl to warn her about a guy who date raped her, is another. And while she may look like a big haired makeup girl who goes out may not be fighting in the same loud way that some of us can, and do, it is the fact that she is resisting that connects us, puts a piece together.
Jigsaw Youth, I don’t know what this means anymore than anymore… only what it means to me. Standing proud and saying: I don’t know who I am, I wanna know more, I am not afraid to say things that matter to me.
Assuming that people are either part of the problem or part of the solution disincludes a lot of people, who, at this moment, do not feel and, therefore ARE NOT safe enough, emotionally, physically and/or financially to resist in the same ways you might be… by judging people according to your standards of resistance, or whatever…it makes it harder for people to recognize what they’re doing as being important and political etc…it makes it harder for them to get into safe enough situations and where they can resist in more outward community-oriented ways if they want to.
Jigsaw Youth, the island of lost and broken toys, feminists who wear lipstick, people who envision the land of do as you please, whose lives are not simple and they are sick of trying to make themselves cohesive enough to fit into a box. Jigsaw Youth, listening, strategizing, tolerating, screaming, confronting, fearless, girl soldiers, boy lovers, boofy haired teen girls scraping out the eyes on a photo of Rick Astely. Jigsaw Youth, the misunderstood seeking to understand other peoples reality. Making mistakes… making mistakes… making mistakes… feeling something, knowing you will never see the puzzle us all together but trying anyways cuz each fucking piece really matters and being with friends matters.
JIGSAW YOUTH… inventing and reinventing what these words mean.

Monday, October 17, 2005


I didn't find it that difficult to describe my family history using images rather than words. While it wasn't easier, and quite possibly not the most efficient way to portray the difficult journey of my grandfather and his family, I do believe my point was conveyed thoroughly.