*Review of Fatimah Tuggar: Home’s Horizons, at The Davis Museum, Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA through December 15, 2019
Eccentricity is an undeniable factor in Fatimah Tuggar’s art. Her most renowned pieces are visually dissonant. Like the inkjet-on-vinyl photomontages Voguish Vista and Lady and the Maid, where she juxtaposes cherry-picked images from the past and the present (the lo-fi and hi-res, understated and glam, the rural and the scenic) in order to confront matters of globalization, unrest, societal roles and the inquisition of what technological advances really entail for humanity. Such as in Robo Entertains, a robot with a Mona Lisa smile is the server of a traditional African gathering.
These artworks are a part of Tuggar’s biggest solo exhibition yet, Home’s Horizons, at the Davis Museum. Assistant curator Amanda Gilvin chose to focus on Tuggar’s collages, and along with the commissioned augmented reality project Deep Blue Wells, Home’s Horizons is accompanied by a monograph, a first for the artist.
Divided into six sections, most of the iconoclastically repurposed art has a uniquely African vantage point and a neutral-colored palette. Minus, the bolder installations of Fan-Fan, Broom and the splicing of vintage videos.
Then there’s Fai-Fain Gramophone created in tribute to a woman’s musicianship, workmanship, and clever hacks as it is a crocheted raffia disk that (from an obscured MP3) plays the music of late Hausa singer Barmani Choge (1945-2013). The record’s also in defiance of what’s been reduced to “world music” in the West, a term Tuggar disdains.
“What does ‘world music’ even mean?” she asked with a laugh. “It’s as if there’s everybody else and then there’s ‘Western music’!”
Noticeably, Tuggar has fandom for music and pop art aestheticism. But states to rarely looking at other art while creating. “I try to focus on what I’m trying to communicate.”
And while there is a high sense of blackness in her art, for Tuggar, born in Nigeria, she feels that when appraising a woman’s work, and biology and identity are noted, there’s a fine line between genuine acknowledgment and disturbing fixation.
“There is an exoticization of me when you mention my gender, ethnicity and [then] that I’m an artist,” she said. “I’ve earned being an artist regardless of being a woman and what color I am.”
Reviewed and written by C. Shardae Jobson
*The review above is the draft I submitted for publication in the November/December 2019 issue of Art New England‘s The Photography Issue. As what commonly happens to journalists and writers everywhere, sometimes the version that is circulated to readers is not what the writer intended. In the second to last paragraph, I made a specific edit out of courtesy and respect for the artist, Fatimah Tuggar, whose work I reviewed. What I believe happened here was that my review got looked at one last look by a copy-editor and 90% of the time, they have no connection to your assignment and unaware of the heart behind it.
Tuggar is referred to as a “Nigerian-born” artist, in the final copy I submitted, I made the following GoogleDoc comment as I had changed that part from “Nigerian-born artist” to “born in Nigeria”: “And in mentioning that Tuggar is Nigerian, I prefer that it is mentioned here, out of respect for the quote she offers and that is featured in the review. To me, it would just be dismissive and contradictory to introduce her as a Nigerian artist, when later on she gave interesting insight on how that tends to only happen to women of color artists.” – CSJ
Because it commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the uprising that took place outside of the Stonewall Inn bar in June 1969. Canonized as a groundbreaking moment for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility, it was the breaking point of a community tired (read: TIRED) of the harassment and brutality from the police. As well as the general discrimination from the public and society towards their homosexuality, and sexual, gender and sartorial fluidity. Even in a city as cavalier and colorful as New York City was in the 1960s, the discrimination was rampant towards LGBTQ+ folk.
To mark fifty years of PRIDE, though the first PRIDE parade actually took place in June 1970, a year after the uprising, the sentiment and act of standing with LGBTQIA folk is larger than ever, and this has transferred over to rainbow banners and signs of support across Lord & Taylor storefront, banks, eateries, apparel (H&M!), and for sure, beauty retail.
This year, the PRIDE theme is something to reckon with. This could have a lot to do with so many beauty YouTubers who are also out as LGBTQ + men, MUAs have become rock stars, fandom for female gay icons, and the rising advent of drag queens who have been crowned as beauty and glam icons in a post-RuPaul’s Drag Race landscape, which is fantastic. This is most reflected through Hank & Henry’s latest liquid lips and the Anastasia Beverly Hills x Alyssa Edwards palette. (Drag queens were contouring long before we bought our kits and desperately attempted to brush on dreams of looking as sculpted as MarioDedivanovic still has Kim KardashianWest looking. Until then, contouring was really regulated to the runway, the drag and ballroom scene, and lastly, editorial fashion, as Cindy Crawford shared in her beauty how-to book from the 1990s).
This spring, I thought to myself: are PRIDE products well-meaning? Or are they merely capitalizing on a hard-earned movement? As one of my close friends, when we passed by an OGX display in Target, with their conditioners and shampoos clothed in PRIDE colors, commented –and I had to laugh–that “PRIDE is the new pumpkin spice.” (To their credit, OGX is under Johnson & Johnson, and J&J have been in association with Care with Pride since 2011, as noted on the top of the products for PRIDE season). And my concern was lifted when I saw that Isabella of Musings of a Muse did a quick post, also asking the same thing about PRIDE products. (Her bringing it up was fair game, but the comment section was a bit abhorrent for my liking).
While there may be some truth to the beauty industry taking advantage of PRIDE, the brands I’ve seen release these themed products have declared that proceeds from sales will go to LGBTQIA organizations and charities. I know most will and have already responded cynically to the donation claims and promises. But I feel it’s so much better than releasing products with rainbow color stories and thinking that’s enough to show solidarity.
There are three PRIDE 2019 palettes that I’d like to briefly review, and now would also be a terrific time to mention that M.A.C. Cosmetics advocates for the LGBTQ+ year-round as a part of their far-reaching Viva Glam annual campaigns for the M.A.C AIDS Fund. (They too collected a handful of vivids for their 2019 M.A.C. Loves Pride set, and then there’s the Art Library: “It’s Designer” palette). 100% of earnings go towards the initiative.
Celebrating twenty-five years in 2019, the Viva Glam lipstick debuted in 1994 with a super queer ad campaign starring RuPaul. The drag queen icon was complete in a shiny red vinyl bodysuit, matching thigh-high boots, and a huge, high yellow wig. (Read: WE (still) STAN!)
As some of us know, a fan favorite of the Viva Glam legacy was when Lil’ Kim and Mary J. Blige were spokesmodels, giving us overt hip-hop chic and girl power in the name of feel-good charity. (Though these images were sorely missed in M.A.C.’s timeline currently available online). This year, the original Viva Glam 1 is encased in a ruby red glitter tube. Y-A-S.
PRIDE PALETTES for PRIDE 2019
Morphe announced their Live in Color palette right at the turn of May becoming June, with a video ad that starred makeup artists, including Erika LaPearl who paints Cardi B, Lipstick Nick, YouTubers, and Morphe cohorts, including one that dressed up like a drag queen! Delightful and heartwarming as by the end it stated proudly and defiantly, “Because if the world was just one shade, rainbows wouldn’t exist,” (Is that a tear forming in my eye?!), in their Instagram caption, Morphe further shared that 100% of net proceeds would be donated to the Trevor Project. Wow!!! (There goes another tear forming. Fancy candy company Sugarfina declared the same, donating 100% of net proceeds to GLAAD from three of their Rainbow offerings in the month of June). The Trevor Project is an organization that provides crisis and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.
Morphe. You’ve got my heartstrings and possibly my wallet once the palette and its matching brushes are released, exclusively in Morphe stores and its website on June 5.
The color scheme itself is nothing new. It’s a standard rainbow outlook, and even recalls bits of the James Charles palette. But the meaning and purpose of its existence make it a standout. #MakeLifeColorful
I first saw Tarte’s “Let It Rain-Bow” palette on TrendMood and thought the swatches were great. Super bright and bold, I pretty much whispered to myself: “Want.” They appeared so rich! As noted on Tarte’s site, the palette is an “Influencer Collab” with Jessie Paege. I hadn’t heard of her until this product. But she is a YouTube creator (with a million subscribers), actress, author, and, as I learned from the Musings of a Muse comment section, identifies as bisexual (which in that same comment, the person behind it had the temerity to proclaim they were none too pleased with Paege being bisexual. Ugh. Exclusionary feminist, are we? HARD PASS).
Tarte also said that the palette is a partnership with one of Paege’s favorite organizations, The Trevor Project. “In celebration of pride, she’s partnered with tarte to bring awareness to important LGBTQ+ issues & support her favorite organizations, like The Trevor Project.“
And thank goodness I did some closer reading, as further down, Tarte confirmed that a corresponding donation of $25k was given to The Trevor Project, to accompany the release of “Let It Rain-Bow.” Super nice and what a relief to know!
Makeup Revolution’s “Spirit of the Pride” palette I saw yesterday when I was at Ulta with said friend I was also with in Target. Like Tarte, I oooohed and ahhhhed. I could feel my hand just about to reach for it and drop right into my Ulta shopping bag. But I knew, I already knew, I had palettes similar to it. The shimmers looked especially gorge and the pan size is generous.
There was no mentioning of LGBTQ+ charities on the store display, but on Makeup Revolution’s Instagram, the brand confirmed that in UK dollars, 25,000 will be donated to The Human Dignity Trust and that the brand will be joining PRIDE parades globally.
The “Spirit of the Pride” is joined by two other PRIDE palettes: a larger, but smaller pan-size eye shadow color story and a cream palette that may remind you of Wet ‘n Wild’s Fantasy Makers cream set that they release in at least three separate stories for Halloween, annually. In America, you can purchase Makeup Revolution at ULTA, and online once you make the switch to the USA flag for USD.
OTHER PALETTES YOU CAN USE FOR PRIDE 2019. BUT PLEASE CONSIDER THIS:
Now as a makeup fiend myself, I’m sure that some of you are going through a “No-Buy,” or attempting a “No-Buy.” So below is a list of palettes you may already have that you can use in commemoration of PRIDE, especially if joining in the festivities and glamming for the historic occasion.
But with that said, I implore that in lieu of purchasing a new PRIDE palette or using a palette akin to one, to donate your time, and money if you can, to your local LGBTQIA charities, and absolutely towards charities and organizations that aide LGBTQIA of marginalized communities such as people of color and the disabled.
Happy PRIDE 2019!
Lorac: Neon Lights
BH Cosmetics: Take Me to Brazil, Take Me to Brazil: Rio Edition, ItsMyRayeRaye
Pinky Rose: Bright Lights
Violet Voss: The Rainbow, Flamingo, or Fruit Sorbet
SEPHORA Pro: Editorial
NYX: Glitter Goals Cream Pro Palette or Ultimate Eyeshadow Palette
Juvia’s Place: The Zulu or The Masquerade
Rude Cosmetics: The Lingerie Collection Naughty Nights
March 9, 1959 is an important date in toy world. It was the date Barbie Millicent Roberts was “born”, as in the fashion doll, created by Ruth Handler, made her debut as both a blonde and brunette at the American International Toy Fair at the Javits Center in New York City.
Sixty years later this past weekend, Barbie returned to New York City to celebrate her 60th birthday! Mattel, the company that’s manufactured the doll since ’59, threw a shindig in the form of a free pop-up shop and exhibit in the heart of New York City’s Soho on 505 Broadway.
Shockingly, because of the kind of fame and large fan-base Barbie has acquired in the past six decades, “Barbie 60” was held for only one day which was Saturday, March 9, 2019, and from 10 AM to 7 PM. Tickets that offered priority entry were offered on Eventbrite in late February, and the tickets reportedly “sold out” the same day.
On the day of, hopeful fans, without a ticket, waited in line to get into the pop-up that was said to offer a fun, interactive, and immersive look into the history of Barbie. It was slight mayhem outside, but no one behaved out of order. There was just a heavy sense of eagerness, as among the waiting, some wore Barbie-inspired outfits and logo-wear, lots of adults were there with children and pre-teens.
Thankfully, I was able to get in a little after 5:30 PM, and it was easy-peasy from there as the Barbie attendees and ushers were friendly and excited for all of us.
At the end of the pop-up, after attendees took photos in “Last Generation of Firsts” booth, girls twelve and under received a free Barbie doll as a thank you for visiting. While for the rest of adults, it was our choice to whip up the wallet for what the small shop had on display to purchase, such as special edition Barbies and merch, at reasonable prices. I bought a Barbie Signature doll, with the blonde Afro, styled by Marni Senofonte for $30, and a Barbie beanie for $12.99. I was beyond satiated with my goodies. (I had been eyeing the Marni doll the past week on the Barbie website! I’m a little obsessed!)
The one con about “Barbie 60”: I wish the event was held for the entire weekend and for longer hours so that more fans could get in. At one point, Barbie’s official Instagram account wrote that they were no longer accepting attendees, via their Instagram story and while I had already experienced the pop-up, when I read that later that night, I felt bad for those that missed out.
On a much lighter and higher note, “Barbie 60” was a super fun, really cute, and thoughtful tribute to her legacy as an influential doll and toy. Leaving out the more interesting aspects of her beginning, such as how Barbie is Handler’s amalgamation of the sultry German doll and comic strip character Bild Lilli and paper dolls, it spoke proudly of her reach as a (albeit, controversial; as explored in the Hulu documentary Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie) beacon for girls and women worldwide to respond with verve and drive when reaching for the stars through hard work and belief, and acts of self-love. This endeavor on Mattel’s part is more evident than ever with their Sheroes collection, the Dream Gap Project, fantastic Barbie vlogs on YouTube, and Inspiring Women that honor women and their trailblazing and altruistic accomplishments.
And while this isn’t a con but rather an afterthought, I wish “Barbie 60” had a wall showcasing their Dolls of the World series that I remember from the 1990s. But at least their “We Are Barbie” presentation covered that ground, as it was a beautiful, exceedingly adorable showcase of the diversification of the Barbie in recent years. And speaking of the ’90s, where was Totally Hair Barbie! We also needed an iconic Malibu Barbie section.
Of course, it would’ve been a joy to see Colored Francie, the first Black doll by Mattel that debuted in 1967, and then re-imagined as Christie in 1968. Christie was re-modeled again between 1979-1980, in effort to be more reflective of African-American features; and she was joined by Theresa in ’80, the first Latina Barbie.
Below are photos I took at “Barbie 60.” I’m so glad I was able to be there and revel in the excitement. I still got a hold of my Barbies from childhood, and I treasure them very much.
A few years ago, my mother and I made a trip to Montreal, Canada to observe the Barbie Expo, another exhibit of Barbies, wall to wall, and celebratory of her icon status and fashion. It is fab! So, it only felt right to visit her American fete!
Happy Birthday, bb!! #YouCanBeAnything #Barbie60
-C. Shardae Jobson (selfie-based photos, and a few more from the pop-up, will posted on my Instagram page).