art by nacrowe
i look at female musicians these days and i feel terrible.
its cliche to say that musicians that function in today's media structure have mastered the art of marketing and social media, which largely feels like a race to the bottom. condense anything thoughtful and intelligent into a 5 second video clip or picture that likely will only be glanced at in passing to other more immediately stimulating (and more-than-likely intellectually stultifying ) content.
to me PATTI SMITH represents unimpeachable, uninhibited, undiluted artistic authenticity on par with any of her heroes such as WILLIAM BLAKE, PAUL VERLAINE, ARTHUR RIMBAUD or CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. her first memoir JUST KIDS is required reading as it parses through in detail her troubles and insecurities that she ultimately transcended through her work and indomitable spirit to survive, quite literally. dealing with issues surrounding abortion, poverty, growing up a jehovah's witness, abuse, self-worth and losing friends to HIV/AIDS, it is really quite captivating both her ambition and the depth of her lyrical content.
her inspiring biography aside, she challenged men head on. now that may reveal something about me, given that i am a privileged white male, but from my vantage point her artistry was her selling point. she wasn't presenting herself as palatable to the male gaze. if anything it was her gaze that mattered.
it is problematic to compare her to different eras of female artists, but kind of inevitable. there is a part of me that really appreciates it when artists challenge their audience. when i hear past and present artists like BILLIE EILISH, PJ HARVEY, ADELE, FKA TWIGS, BJORK or transgender artists like ANOHNI and LAURA JANE GRACE, or even male artists like PERRY FARRELL, PRINCE, DAVID BOWIE, LITTLE RICHARD and LOU REED challenge normative prescriptions of beauty it makes me smile. it makes me think there is hope from all these anemic, hollowed-out contorted space alien disfigured bodies that many of these celebrities inevitably become as time paces ever slowly forward.
just accept your humanity. even if your audience doesn't. that to me is what PATTI SMITH represents as a cultural figure.