My Skin My Logo

This piece is in response to my overconsumption of media and how it has both exhausted and angered me. The lyrics are lines from Kanye West’s (problematic, I know), “Black Skinhead” and the South African anti-apartheid song, “Senzenina”. The latter encapsulates my exhaustion at the attack of black bodies, how “our crime is that we are Black”. Black Skinhead captures my rage and a defiant pride in my race and skin. Black women are centered in this piece; we started the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and we support Black men and our community as a whole. I’m sick and tired of the dehumanization of Black people and the exertion of control placed on our bodies. Our skin is ours, and our bodies are our own. We are not a vessel for your hatred and insecurity. Phumakim’! (Leave me alone!) 

Simone Hadebe is a graphic designer and artist with a BSc in Studio Art from Skidmore College.

colorless campus

NYU Abu Dhabi is one of the few university campuses in the world that is still operating. Many students and staff still remain on campus, while struggling to stay safe, retain a sense of community and safeguard both individual and community health. Both the editors of this magazine are part of this community. The following images document, subtly, the emotional and psychological impacts on young students whose lives have been interrupted by the looming virus, as the numbers of cases climb daily by the hundreds. NYUAD is also one of the most diverse campuses in the world; travel restrictions and other realities created by the pandemic, affect various students to different extents. What unites us is the common experience of uncertainty and that we are all somehow still in this space, together.

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“I check reported cases daily. I have tabs full of articles open, I know all these facts. I was just reading these diaries from Wuhan before you came over. “

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“I stayed up watching anime for six hours”

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“It’s my last one – fuck it.”  (shot over Zoom)

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“My family’s in Jordan. They’re okay. But a lot of people back home rely on daily wages so the lockdown really affects them. I had never really thought about that before. It makes me feel so bad.”

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“They cancelled my flight back home. I don’t know where I’m going to be, really.”

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“I look outside to see who’s not wearing a mask.”

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The big questions on our minds: is it going to come to campus? What will happen to the borders?

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“I’ve been drinking instant coffee every day five minutes after waking up for a zoom class.” “You need to stop doing that, that’s sad.”

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“I literally played Subway Surfers for two hours straight. Nothing else! This is terrible. My work!”

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My thesis project is all about migration, movement, And suddenly, the whole world’s stopped moving. 

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“I’m just going for a smoke with my dinner. This is the highlight of my day.”

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“My immune system is crap. I can’t take a single risk.”

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“I’m good. I stay inside watching movies on my ceiling.”

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There’s something really comforting about laundry machines. The soft, rhythmic whirr, the promise of warm, clean sheets. To help me sleep at night, I listen to a sleepcast on the Headspace app, called  Midnight Laundry.

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“There’s a big sticky note on my doorknob saying BARBIJO. It means mask in Spanish, so that I never forget.”

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My photography professor asked me: why the fixation with black and white? But that’s how everything feels rights now, I told her. Colorless.

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It’s funny how the whole world suddenly understands this feeling of being cramped up and staying in bed and having life reduced down to the smallest tasks, like washing your hair. Everyone’s just trying to manage and do the bare minimum. It’s like all of a sudden they understand a lifestyle that I’ve known for so long. Having depression interrupted so many things for me before; it’s almost like I feel prepared for this. The difference is now more people understand.

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I bought an orchid plant at the beginning of senior year and named her Lizzo. She just started blooming again. Sometimes, that fact of her unfurling, again, is the only thing that manages to cut through the fog in my head.

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My parents are everything to me. They urged me to come here. I just wanted them to be here when I graduated. I wanted to see the pride and happiness on their faces, and take pictures under the palm trees in my gown and cap.

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“Theater students have had to take their capstone projects online. We can’t perform them. I’m full of loss and questions.”

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I guess life is monotonous. I don’t do much.

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We ended a while ago. It’s been months. I don’t know why every morning, after scrolling over updates for the UAE, I still check the number of cases where he lives.

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My dad sends me daily GIFs on messenger, usually of animals or cartoons doing weird dances. I forward them to my roommate and we get a good laugh. 

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I’ve started deep listening to albums, and making mini themed playlists. I made a space-themed playlist inspired by my astronomy class. It’s called “moonshine”

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One of the highlights of my day is seeing Ravi in the dining hall, one of the cashiers there. We both speak Hindi. He always asks me how I am, always smiles and offers a joke or two. 

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Every day I wonder why there are still so many construction workers on-site.

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“Oh yeah, everyone’s doing these now.”

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As a senior, I wish we had known exactly, that that was gonna be the last time we’d be in a classroom together.

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“That book is hot. I would have sex with that book.”

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Before lockdown began, I rushed out to buy a yoga mat. I started doing fitness classes on Zoom about a week or so in,  because I noticed my body hurt all the time. I realized I was always crouching, and when I slept I curled up rigidly into a fetus position, putting strain on my neck and back. My therapist says this position is something I go in because I subconsciously feel threatened or anxious. I needed to get loose.

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“I’ve been working on making this shelter but it keeps breaking into pieces.” Are you building a home? “I don’t even know.”

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“Now I get time to journal. I haven’t done that in ages.”

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“I just woke up now. But it’s good. I gotta work.”

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“The same song’s been playing for the past 45 minutes. I guess apparently I’m obsessed with it.”

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“How do you normally spend your days?” “I guess…I’m on the phone a lot.”

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“Shoes off before you enter! This is a virus-free zone.”

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“I can hear the conversations of people outside.”

 

All images taken by the author.

You can find more photography, and a continuation of this series, here

The Soft Place by Kellie Lehr

My work is an amalgamation of real and imagined images. I’m interested in creating sensations of movement and visual rhythm that feel caught in states of either becoming or dissolving.
My source material often comes from the natural landscape, and I use it as a jumping-off point. I combine this with an ongoing questioning of the impact of technology and underlying psychological states. Surprisingly, I’ve noticed my work has become brighter and more whimsical as the world has become darker and more dystopian.

Edges play an essential role – both soft and dissolving, as well as hard and abrupt; the place where one thing ends, and another begins; the soft place to fall and the wakeup call. Forms, as well as negative space, often become structures with patterns to be explored and questioned. The result of my process is an image that usually lies somewhere between reality and fantasy, digital and natural, and confusion and clarity.

Painting by Kellie Lehr

Unavoidable Mistakes by Kellie Lehr

The Split by Kellie Lehr

Painting by Kellie Lehr

Kellie Lehr is an artist living in Fayetteville, AR. Lehr holds a B.S. in International Economics and spent 2013–2018 studying in the Drawing and Painting program at the University of Arkansas. In 2019, she was selected for Art File by The Painting Center in New York and the 2019-2020 National Museum of Women in the Arts juried registry by it’s Arkansas committee. Recent exhibitions include 21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville, AR and the 59th Annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Tapped at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnatti and New Optics at The Painting Center in NYC. Her work is in private collections throughout Arkansas, California, Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, New Jersey and New York.
Lehr is the Gallery Director for 211 South (formerly The Gallery at Midtown), a contemporary art gallery located within Engel & Volkers NWA at 211 South Main St. in Bentonville, AR.

Sign of the Times: A Photo Essay

Scenes of Abu Dhabi, UAE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young masked men play pool outside Madinat Zayed. Others seem to be selling fake designer clothes in an illicit secondhand market. A lone man in a polo shirt has erected jumping castles to make extra cash outside the Gold Center. The castles are deserted. He listens to something on his phone, absorbed with all the intensity of the clouds gathering above. Life — the exchange of capital and conversations — must continue to rumble even at this off-kilter pace.

Laborers in the city must continue to earn money. Juice shops, cafeterias, carpet sellers, cobblers, tailors, honey vendors…all remain. They sip tea in their shops, trying to sell. In 48 hours, they will have to pack up and stay home for two weeks. Almost everyone on the street is masked. Small cigarettes and “massage cards” lie motionless on the pavement. Malayalam, French, Urdu, Wolof, Bengali: all the languages of the streets, of the working class, dance. They filter through masks and mix with the air like steam rising from the chai at Happy Cafeteria. Life — the exchange of capital and conversations — must continue to rumble even at this off-kilter pace.

Small groups of young West African men swap cigarette boxes, thin rolls of money, and bottles of hand sanitizer as they congregate outside an apartment building. I try not to look. I, girl with the zooming camera and lens-corrected eyes, am looked at. I stumble upon a shop called MASK FASHION nearby. Life — the exchange of capital and conversations — continues to rumble even at this off-kilter pace.

 

 

Vamika Sinha is a co-founder and editor-in-chief of Postscript. Find more of her photography here.

Tracing Identities by Tóia Azevedo

“No models were harmed in the making of this collage”, mixed media collage

Tóia Azevedo’s main artistic research is on the concept of identity. She uses her own body to make this search: in self portraits, mixed media collages, embroidery, performance. Additionally, she likes to look at the faces of the strangers she sees in magazines, and imagine what stories lie behind them. Who are these people? What can their features tell us about them? And about us? And about Azevedo herself?

In the following works, Azevedo has burned some faces to show what lies behind a perfect pair of model’s eyes: some could say that it’s an act of uprising against our society’s ruthless beauty standards, a kind of revenge against the perfection persisting in the spotlight. By burning, Azevedo takes away their identity or showcases things that we don’t usually see in them. She has used embroidery to draw facial features from people she doesn’t know under a thin layer of tracing paper: the result is some confused lines that we identify as human faces. It is a projection of the real humans under the paper as if they are immersed in dim waters.

Finally, Azevedo has covered herself in pink organza fabric in an attempt to hide her body as a sacred unseen goddess – but it isn’t enough. She is forced to trace the lines which both shape and imprison her at the same time. It’s all about lines, really. It’s all about finding maps, locations and therefore, identities in the body’s features. What all these works have in common is the necessity of finding unknown places, hidden identities, that one would not be able to see if there wasn’t any kind of burning or hiding or covering of the lines.

“No models were harmed in the making of this collage”, mixed media collage
“No models were harmed in the making of this collage”, mixed media collage

 

“Tracing Identities”, mixed media collage
“Tracing Identities”, mixed media collage

 

The High Priestess, self-portrait mixed with embroidery

 

Tóia Azevedo lives in São Paulo, Brazil, where she currently studies Visual Arts at São Paulo State University (UNESP). She works with portrayals of her own body in space, time and society. Tóia’s research involves goddesses and primordial feminine elements and how they manifest in our era. Some of her media includes photography, collage and embroidery, ceramics, performance, painting and poetry.

Space/Time by Ziba Rajabi

To Ooze
Acrylic on Canvas, Thread, Nail

As an Iranian female artist based in Arkansas, Rajabi’s work revolves around the desire to reconcile her relationship with two distinctive spaces: Tehran (her native land) and Arkansas (where she resides now). In her paintings and installations, she re-creates intimate moments torn from her home and neighborhood in Iran. Because she is far away from her homeland and not allowed to return without being trapped in  Iran, Rajabi can feel her memories of home fading away. She uses memories and images that have been rendered unrecognizable by the passage of time and turns them into shapes that allude to her homeland. Consequently, aspects of everyday life such as architecture, furniture, gardens, or a specific time of a day become the basis for her work. Her desire is to create a situation where the viewer looks at abstract paintings or installations and feels a familiarity, but can’t quite place what it is or why they sense a kinship. By creating this kind of scenario, she can show that regardless of nationality, religion, or gender there are commonalities for all individuals – that in a way, the masks of identities we wear may look different but are made of the same things.

Blue Petals from Green Arkansas 
Acrylic on Canvas, Mixed Media
First-Person Narrative
Acrylic on Canvas, Mixed Media
Bleeding to space 
Acrylic on Canvas, Thread
Untitled
Acrylic on Canvas, Mixed Media
About Being
Acrylic on Canvas, Thread

Ziba Rajabi (b.1988, Tehran, Iran) received her MFA from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and her BFA from Sooreh University, Tehran. She is the recipient of the student artist grant for the Artist 360 Grant, a program sponsored by Mid-America Arts Alliance. Her work has been included in a number of exhibitions, nationally and internationally, such as Masur Museum, LA; CICA Museum, South Korea; Aran Gallery, Iran; Art Fileds, SC; Pensacola Museum, Florida; Site:Brooklyn, NY; Amos Eno Gallery,NY; Millersville University, Indiana University, and Mim Gallery, Los Angeles. Find more of her work here.

Portrait of the Artist by Gabriela Kucuruza

Between painting and poetry, Gabriela Kucuruza is a young Brazilian artist who works with the expressions of bodies, existence, colors, feelings and femininity. Inside the world of paints, canvases and words, her artwork is how she finds a way to breathe. There is no clear distinction between who she is and what she creates, especially when her art is a continuous process of giving life and giving death. Her artwork is, finally, a way to unveil and to explore the identity that is embroidered on her body and on her mind.