With only a week left till our launch party, here's a sneak peek of the films that will be showing on the night from incredible filmmakers Anna Ginsburg, Kaj Jefferies, Naomi Berrio-Allen, Tyro Heath, Bafic, Ellen Pearson and Stroma Cairns. Tickets are going fast, so if you haven't already get yours here and come join us for a night of even more films, panellists, DJs, jelly-brains and lots and lots of magazines!
Dr Meg John Barker is an activist, psychotherapist and senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University. Internationally recognized as an expert on sex and gender, as well as mental health, Meg John personally identifies as non-binary, and much of their work focuses on the necessity of rethinking traditional classifications for identity. Ahead of their appearance as a panellist at the Ladybeard Launch Party, Meg John explores the mad/sane binary, and how we can move beyond it. If you haven't got your tickets for launch yet, get them here.
At our Mind Issue launch on 12 November, we will be bringing together three extraordinary Ladybeard contributors to discuss ‘Mind: Myth-making and Taboo’. Today we reveal our panellists, plus a taste of what they’ll be exploring. Get ready to follow us down the rabbit hole; get your tickets to the launch here.
Sarah Roberts interviewed writer, author and archivist of 'femoribilia' Lynn Peril about the darker undertones of our age-old infatuation with the 'personality quiz'
Personality quizzes have long been tropes of women’s magazines. Generations of girls like me have clawed over Cosmo quizzes, seduced by the promise of finding out how they rate in bed or what kind of ‘sexy’ they might be. Although I know they come without any scientific or psychological merit, I find them irresistible. Even when I’m not affirmed as a goddess in the bedroom, there’s something about the process of taking the test and being assigned a category that I find deeply satisfying. But what are the psychic consequences?
Lynn Peril has been collecting personality quizzes and other pop-culture detritus for decades. The author of three books on the subject, she uses the word “femoribilia” to describe the specific breed of pop culture that tells women how to think and behave. Fascinated by the way the personality quiz exploits the dubious pleasure of rating ourselves, she has charted its development from the 1950s to the present day. I went to meet her at her home in Oakland, California, to discuss the uneasy lessons personality quizzes have to teach us about womanhood and identity, and why we’re so obsessed with them.
In the lead up to our launch we're sharing an interview from our most recent issue with inventor of the Anxiety Box: Paul Ford. A writer, blogger, editor, programmer, and businessman, Paul created the Anxiety Box as a characteristically witty response to the serious condition from which he suffers. Anxiety Box is a spam bot that emails the individual about their worries. Transferring the uncontrollable nature of anxiety to an electronic cipher, it literally turns anxious thoughts into spam. You sign up, giving details about what worries you, and Anxiety Box “will take over and send you anxious, urgent, deeply upsetting emails. Delete the email and POOF! the anxiety goes away.” Inspired by Paul's invention, we've created our own anonymous submission box for you to dispose of your anxieties in. These can be anything and everything: a word, an anxious dream, a paranoia, a thought that keeps you awake at night ... We encourage you to post your anxieties to us in physical format as well; writing them on whatever material you have on hand and sending them too 39 Hillmarton Road, London, N7 9JD. Every anxiety we receive will be reincarnated at our launch as part of a physical anxiety box, which will be open all night for guests to absolve themselves of any more worries and anxieties weighing them down. If you haven't already, get your tickets to the launch here.
CN: FLASHING IMAGES
It's been a year but we're BACK and celebrating the release of our second issue with a party at The Hackney Showrooms.
Come join us on November 12th for a night of live music and DJs, interactive mind games and audio-visual displays, a panel on the myths and taboos around the Mind, featuring contributors from the issue, a series of film screenings, and lots and lots of jelly-brain shots.
Get your tickets here NOW before they sell out again!
From the Demon Series, 1999, Oil, gloss and varnish on board, 79x109cm
The Demon Series, 1999, was conceptualised by artist Peter Harris as a visual exploration of the 'demons' of human consciousness. From 'success' to 'loneliness', Harris focused on things that provoke feelings of panic and anxiety, wreaking chaos on our psychological states. He personified these through the creation of rubber-moulded masks worn by his friends, who, under Harris' direction, acted out these internal struggles. Harris captured the role-plays through photographs, which went on to inspire the paintings seen here. With their ominous captions, deep red backgrounds and the contorted faces of their masked protagonists, the series embodies the absurd and irrational anxiety that can engulf our minds.
If you haven't already, order your copy of the Mind Issue here.
Named after enigmatic conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader’s last known performance, ‘Searching For’ began in 2015 and currently consists of Emily, Rachel and Colette who are based in the United States and Canada. Interested in learning how people in the creative community are making their careers happen, the group describes itself as “cultivating a virtual conversation” by seeking out the most exciting artists available online today, asking them compelling questions, and putting together their visual responses in an interview format. This approach was motivated by the collective’s desire to steer away from the classic or cliched interview formats, and challenge people to respond creatively, using any medium of their choice, from selections of their own work, to film stills sourced online. “Connecting with and creating connections between diverse creatives working from disparate geographies”, the results span languages and continents, playing with our notions of communication. Here, Ladybeard feature a ‘Searching For’ exclusive interview with illustrator Annu Kilpeläinen.
Lettice Franklin explores the metaphor of mind as flower and its role in literature and art as a means for imagining the wild workings of the human brain
This summer, like many a summer before it, people took to the fields, to the meadows, to the beaches – for festivals and parties. Many did ‘lose their minds’ and many did so wearing cheap floral wreaths that bloom in profusion from campsite stalls. In doing so they join a long tradition of crazy crowns and of blooming brains.
The blooming of the brain is almost impossible to describe – directly at least. To overcome this difficulty, we turn, over and over again, to horticultural metaphors. ‘Ideas are plants’ is a common, quotidian metaphor: it has been identified as one of the “metaphors we live by”, metaphors that are embedded in the human consciousness and shape the way we look at the world (George Lakoff, Metaphors We Live By, 2003). Think of ‘fertile imaginations’, of ‘seeds of thought’, of ‘ideas coming to fruition’.
Metaphors, we assume, make things easier to understand. They enable us to re-imagine something intangible and complicated – ideas, brains – as something controlled and simple – gardens. But wild, unweeded mind-gardens grow with particular power throughout literature, often straight from characters’ heads, and are not so easily pruned. Perhaps it is here that the metaphor actually approaches perfection, vividly representing the vagaries, the tangles, the briars of thought.
In short, flowers both represent the mind, and bloom abundantly within and from it.
Aitan Ebrahimoff on the emergence of spiritual polyamory and the wealth of female healers facilitating it via the online realm, their varying spiritual prognosis readily available for YouTube viewing.
“If they think I’m cheating – I’ve ridden a bicycle blindfolded. How can I just dodge cars and all of that?” Child mystic and Youtube sensation Yogamaatha is responding to the accusation that her Third Eye, the hidden organ that allows her to see when blindfolded, is a sham. A nine-year-old girl from North Carolina, Yogamaatha claims to have awakened her Third Eye at a meditation and initiation course in Bangalore. Over the last year, she has toured the US demonstrating her abilities to doctors, government officials, and leading financiers. But her biggest audience is online. The youngest in a wave of female audio-visual healers who are breaking the Internet, Yogamaatha’s most viewed video boasts well above 2.5m hits. Spirituality has gone viral, and YouTubers are battling for the truth.
A survey carried out by Milan’s popular science magazine Focus revealed that 76 per cent of Italians believe in ghosts, with around 50 per cent claiming to have seen one. Fascinated by these statistics, Italian photographer Barbara Leolini decided to join the dedicated ghost-hunters conducting nightly searches across the Italian countryside. Visiting dilapidated villas, abandoned warehouses, and cemeteries, they carry with them special electronic equipment in an effort to locate and experience paranormal activity.
We travelled around England with photographer Anton Gottlob exploring the sites of four former mental hospitals. Previously located 'round the bend', in secluded places physically segregating the 'mad' from the sane, today many of these buildings have been given to new uses markedly distinct from their former function. Here we've put together a selection of outtakes from the shoot that we wish we'd had the room to feature! To see the story in its entirety order your copy of the Mind Issue NOW
From excessive nights out to running a marathon, Josie Mitchell on why we actively pursue temporary escapes from the everyday.
We go out and play at night. Sometimes we go all out. We are excessive, we push back against moderation. It’s fun, it’s liberating. On the dance floor – amid the music, the alcohol and the drugs – we lose ourselves and it’s glorious. I associate these moments with a sense of arrival. Harmony between my inner and outer selves. Or the liberation of putting on a new skin entirely, an alter ego that expresses adjectives that don’t otherwise apply to me (extravagant, boisterous, vain, high-heeled).
I use various substances, costumes and people to take me to this place. Alcohol and drugs, like MDMA, disinhibit. We take them for this reason. Conversation begins to flow, physical intimacy becomes intuitive. Connection comes easier. Sex comes easier. Those voices in our heads quieten. Yet, wonderful as they feel, such behaviours can have unhealthy manifestations. We can lose interest in (or track of) our daytime existence. We flirt with addiction and risk our mental health.
Opening today at the Wellcome collection, the exhibition 'Bedlam: the asylum and beyond' explores the tumultuous history of the mental asylum and how it has shaped the landscape of mental health. On display are a number of works taken from the historical archives of the Adamson Collection, one of the major international collections of art objects made by people who lived in European mental asylums. For the Mind Issue, David O'Flynn, Chair of the Adamson collection since 2006, explores the story behind the collection and the therapeutic potentials of art as espoused by its founder Edward Adamson.
Julia Serano is an author and activist. By her own account, she “took a circuitous route” to where she is today: she worked for many years as a biologist and a musician before coming to activism around the time of her transition. In her book Whipping Girl (2007), which has become a 21st century feminist touchstone, she coined the term ‘transmisogyny’ as a way to talk about the intersections between sexism and transphobia. Provocative and deeply researched, her analysis exposed the way the demonisation of femininity shapes society’s attitudes towards trans women, as well as to gender and sexuality as a whole. She spoke to Ladybeard about the messy intersections of biology, society and language, the pathologising of queer and trans folk, and the activist’s struggle to change people’s minds. In the run up to the release of the Mind Issue this Friday, we're sharing the interview here.
When you put on the headscarf, or niqab, or burqa, you become a symbol. In the context of rising Islamophobia across Europe and America, visible Muslim women are reduced to a canvas onto which we project a set of conflicting, insidious stories. Every day, unspoken hostility slips over into outright aggression. In the week following the 2015 Paris attacks, there was a 300 per cent rise in the number of hate crimes perpetrated against Muslims in the UK – the overwhelming majority of the victims were women and girls dressed in traditional Islamic dress. This is a pattern repeated across Europe and the USA after every major terrorist attack, and every bogus poll purporting to reveal ‘What Muslims Really Think’. What does it feel like to bear this burden of representation? And what motivates women to wear the veil today? For Ladybeard's Mind Issue, we spoke to three Muslim women to find out. Here, we share Amani's testimony.
We have drawn a strict dividing line between the mad and the sane in our society. Wary of slipping over it, we work to maintain the illusion of self-possession and perfect happiness. ‘Losing your mind’, we have been taught, means weakness and isolation, and so we try to live on the ‘right’ side of the binary, while really most of us are in flux, or occupying the blurred space in between.
The Mind Issue aims to open up our expectations by telling stories that embrace this complexity. Here are four of nine experiences featured in the magazine that reclaim and reimagine what it means to ‘lose your mind’, taking us through death and breakdown, to infatuation, transformation, and spiritual fulfilment. Some of these testimonies are distressing, and some are joyful, but all show that periods of mental intensity and unrest are a part of life.