By Debbi Kenote
Debbi Kenote interviews artists at the “A Day Without A Women” march and strike in Washington Square this Wednesday. Q & A featured inquiries into sign material, reasons for participating and most importantly, what role do artists play today?
DEBBI KENOTE: Hello, hello New York City. Good evening and welcome to Open House. Open House is a production of myself, Debbi Kenote, and my creative collaborator Til Will. We are currently broadcasting from Bushwick, in Brooklyn, New York, and I’m going to be your host for this evening in celebration of International Women’s Day. This is a surprise special feature–a mash up or collage–of brief interviews I collected yesterday evening while participating in the event A Day Without a Woman.
The international event brought women together across the globe, to walk out of work in solidarity for the holiday, in protest of inequality, misogyny, and many other issues. I had the opportunity to speak with a few fellow creative ladies at the event, as we marched from Washington Square to Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. In this short broadcast you will hear responses from artists who attended the rally, marched and were kind enough to pause and participate in some Q and A. Special thanks to my interviewees: Kathleen, Reno, Lisa, Debbie and Sophie. So, without further adieu, this is Debbi Kenote on Open House at New York City’s “A Day Without a Woman.”
DK: Alright, can you tell me your names?
RENO and LISA: Reno! and Lisa Silvestry.
DK: Great. And why are you here today?
R: Well, many, many reasons.
LS: Why aren’t we here?
R: But we are though. I happen to be a woman myself, and I’m an internationalist, and I have a big problem with Trump. And pence, and the right wing in America…
LS: And Steve Bannon.
R: Oh hell ya. What an ugly freak. And you don’t even have to, it’s like when Jesse Helms was senator. People would make fun of his nose, like he looked like such a cracker, and I would say don’t, don’t even go that low, because everything he does is already reproachable.
DK: And you’re artists?
R: Yes. I’m a performer.
LS: I like to make photos.
R: I’ve had an HBO comedy hour, in fact apparently according to Rosie O’Donald when she introduced me on her show one time she said I was the first woman to have her own HBO comedy hour. So here we are, come full circle, because I’m broke now, because of politics.
DK: And can you tell me what’s on your sign?
R: It’s a bunch of those “twat” hats, which I do not have, with a piece of yarn trying to topple the statue of Trump. I assume that’s what that is.
DK: That’s what it looks like to me.
R: A fan gave it to me, I don’t know. Yea it’s good.
KATHLEEN ADAMS: Sure, my name is Kathleen Adams.
DK: Great. And why are you here today?
KA: I’m here for the women’s march, or women’s strike, because I consider myself a feminist and I thinks it’s really important for we, as women, especially working women, to come together in solidarity and let our voices be heard.
DK: Great. And you’re an artist, can you tell me what you like to make?
KA: I actually like to paint. I like to paint pottery. It’s a craft that I’m working on. I really enjoy in terms of pottery making, throwing clay and making unique figures. It’s hard to do in New York because of space, but it’s something I like to do.
DK: And what does your sign say?
KA: I did it really quickly. It says “WE CAN, WE HAVE, WE WILL.”
DK: Wonderful, great. Thank you so much.
DK: So what’s your name?
S: My name’s Sophie.
DK: Alright, and what did you think of the “Women’s March?”
S: I thought it was great. I thought it was…it felt like a genuinely exiting and cathartic experience to participate in.
DK: You’re an artist or art enthusiast, you said?
S: I am. I am indeed. I work in the arts, I have a degree in art history and I’m trying to break into the gallery scene.
DK: Wonderful. And so why do you think art is important, in this current moment?
S: Because art is simply the forms that which humanity expresses itself. And in this time, when we are being repressed as a nation, it’s all the more important to rebel against that repression and rebel against it my expressing ourselves through art.
DK: That’s beautiful. Alright, thank you so much!
DK: Can you tell me your name?
DEBBIE ALLEN: Sure. Debbie Allen.
DK: And I love your sign, can you tell me what it says?
DA: It says “Feminist” on the front, and on the back it says “Fuck the patriarchy, check your privilege.”
DK: And…did you…is that felt on there?
DA: Yea, yea that’s felt.
DK: Amazing. And you cut that out by hand?
DA: Yea, yea.
DK: And what kind of art do you make usually?
DA: Well I’ve got a t-shirt accessories line called “Hissy-Fit” it’s a feminist brand that I’m trying to push right now. I got laid off on Friday, so now I’m gonna focus 100% of my attention on not working for anyone but myself! But yea, I do…I paint, I make stuff, I make candles.
DEBBIE ALLEN FRIEND: She’s a great illustrator.
DA: Yea, I illustrate.
DK: And do you have any insight into why artists are more important now more than ever?
DA: Yea, because the arts are getting cut. All the funding for, all the shows we loved on PBS as a kid are now losing money so it’s important. And there’s not that many spaces left in New York for artists to do what they want. I mean I had to have a home studio because I can’t afford artist’s space, so it’s important.
And all the areas that used to be artists run are now luxury condos and everything, so…
DK: Great. Thank you very much.
DK: That outro music was a recording of “I Will Survive,” by Gloria Gaynor, being sung in unison yesterday by thousands of women in Washington Square Park in New York City. Intro music is also Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
This has been a production of Open House. Recordings from this podcast are by myself Debbi Kenote and mixed from the wonderful Til Will. Stay tuned for more next time.