21 Tracks for the 21st Century is a series of playlists organised in collaboration with Q-O2, a Brussels-based space for experimental music and sound art. Each time, we invite one artist, thinker or musician to prepare a playlist of those sounds, songs and pieces of music that will best equip their listeners to approach what is left of this young century. This month: Marnie Slater.
Marnie Slater is a visual artist from Aotearoa New Zealand, currently living in Brussels. ‘My work engages with multiple formats, including sculpture, collaboration, editing, performance, DJing, painting and installation. In the last ten years I have been working in two parallel ways: engaging with archive material and developing long-term collaborations. My interest in archives started in 2010 when I began working in the company of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, stepsisters, lovers and artists whose photographic work and legacy have formed the framework for many of my projects. Like my solo work, my long-term collaborations are led by queer and feminist politics and desires. I am co-curator of Buenos Tiempos, Int. and a team member of Mothers & Daughters – A Lesbian* and Trans* Bar*. I am currently teaching on the AdMa programme at St Lucas School of Art Antwerpen, where I am also undertaking a year-long research project on process tools for queer, feminist and anti-racist collaborative art making.’
- Austin Mark – otis flip!
I played this as an opening track at the wedding of two dear friends recently. Marriage is a complex and politically loaded question in queer lives and activism, but I love that I got to spend a day celebrating the love of my friends and felt so privileged to DJ for them. I find DJing and writing share a similar process for me in the sense that I spend most of my time finding a first track/sentence, then the rest flows from the situation, tone and rhythm they set up.
- Le Tigre – Hot Topic
Hot Topic is an iconic song for me, and Le Tigre was so important in my creative and political trajectory – in particular the radical permission for non-conforming female gender presentation that JD Samson embodies. I added this track here, because what follows is my version of some hot topic legends that have changed my life and that I call on to inspire and challenge my life and artistic practice. And an extra wink to the brilliant artist and musician Wynne Greenwood who directed this music video.
- Audre Lorde interviewed by Judy Simmons
This is a WBAI recording from 1979. The first half is dedicated to Audre Lorde reading her poetry and a wide-ranging discussion between her and Judy Simmons. There is so much wisdom here, and a kind of intimacy that makes it feel really immediate. In the second half of the recording, Simmons and Lorde respond to questions and rants from live callers. It’s sobering how much of the racist, lesbophobic and sexist content from callers is still on the table today, and humbling how Lorde and Simmons have the capacity to listen and connect while also calling bullshit when they need to.
- Jay Bernard – Surge
I saw Jay Bernard read for the first time in London some years back when Castillo (from Buenos Tiempos, Int.) and I made an eccentric trip to London to see Eileen Myles read at the same event. After the reading, we did what any self-respecting fan would do and hung around until we could tag along to the pub with the poets. I regret that we did not go to the queer bar when Jay invited us later that night, but hearing them read was an amazing moment. This poem is from their 2019 book Surge, that came from their archival research into the New Cross house fire of 1981, in which 13 young black people were killed.
- Fred Hystère aka Aio Frei – Becoming Stone
I first heard Aio Frei perform when Mothers & Daughters – A Lesbian* and Trans* Bar* made an edition of our project at Kunsthalle Bern in 2018. We invited Aio to DJ and organised a dancefloor in front of the DJ booth. Aio played remarkable music (I saw many people, at different points in the evening, frantically ‘shazam-ing’ to try and get the name of tracks they played), but also insisted on the dancefloor as a place for slow thinking, too, by playing sections of lectures and poetry. Aio performed a new version of Becoming Stone at a research presentation week at Sint Lucas Antwerpen last year and knocked everyone’s socks off.
- The Royal Family – HHI Worlds 2013
Collaboration is a super important part of my artistic practice, but I also need to spend time alone in my studio. When things are going really well, I often find myself dancing in my studio. I cannot pretend I dance to the level of The Royal Family, but my favourite element of Parris Goebel’s choreography is how it slips between elegant, precise grace and the kind of bedroom dance moves we all invent to express the powerful joy of music. The Royal Family’s femininity is powerful, aggressive and playful, and their masculinity is camp, butch and theatrical – and they work so hard in collectively supporting each other on stage.
- Tirzah – I’m Not Dancing
One thread of queer party organising that I totally agree with is that dancefloors are simultaneously places of resistance and political awakening, and joy and celebration. Tirzah’s instance that we’re not dancing, we’re fighting brings this thread into clear focus. Mica Levi aka Micachu is not only Tirzah’s producer, but joins her as a back-up dancer and T-shirt- and short-wearing comrade.
- Porsha Olayiwola – The Joke
I am cheating a bit in this 21-track commission by sharing two tracks by the same artist. The first time I encountered Porsha Olayiwola’s work was actually in a music remix of her performing ‘Capitalism,’ and when I finally googled my way to the original video (see #9 below), I threw away the rest of my afternoon plans to watch every single video of her that I could find. Some years later, I managed to convince Mothers & Daughters to organise the Slamposium at Kaai, so that I could finally have a good reason to invite Porsha to Brussels. She said yes! Alongside many brilliant poets, Porsha performed some of her poems at Kaai, including ‘Joke.’ If you listen carefully at the very end of this video, you can hear someone in the audience yell, ‘C’mon now’ followed by another person, ‘Oh my god,’ which is a pretty accurate rendition of how the crowd at Kaai responded, too.
- Porsha Olayiwola – Capitalism
- Zoe Leonard – I want a president
American artist Zoe Leonard wrote the poem / desire manifesto ‘I want a president’ in 1992. This video was made in 2016 when Leonard and other artists gathered to mobilise the energy and resistance of this poem in the face of the unfolding political situation in the United States.
- Kōtiro – Force Field
Listen to this with the best speakers or headphones you can get your hands on.
- Lady Shaka – Boiler Room Aotearoa New Zealand: FILTH
Anyone who knows me well probably wishes I would stop talking about Lady Shaka, but they are not here, so I can say, not for the last time, that Lady Shaka is hands down the best DJ ever. I don’t get homesick for Aotearoa New Zealand very often, but when I saw this video of Shaka playing in Tāmaki Makaurau all I wanted was to have been there to see it. There is Māori Pasifika genius, glimpses into the thriving ballroom scene, sweaty enthusiasm and everything in between.
- Joan Armatrading – Me Myself I
I was really privileged to grow up in a household in which music played often. I’m old enough for that to mean we listened to vinyl records, and not in a nostalgic sense. Many of my parent’s records had a little white sticker on the front where my mum would note which tracks were good for playing at parties. Joan Armatrading was a favourite, and this track takes me straight back to my childhood living room.
- Lucas Johnson – Conflict Resolution
Together with James Parnell and Laura Deschepper, I recently organised Hear Me Out: A Teach-in on Conflict Expression at BUDA in Kortrijk. Through James, I was introduced to the work of social healer Lucas Johnson, who appeared via video during the teach-in. In this podcast, Lucas talks about his experiences with non-violence, healing, faith and moving forward in the face of complexity. I think there are many invaluable wisdoms in this recording for collective organising and creating.
Link: Bar Talks
- Tierra Whack – Heaven
This track by Tierra Whack never fails to slow me down and ground me. It’s a song about loss and grief, and about all the celebration and sadness involved in saying goodbye.
- 070 Shake – I Laugh When I’m With Friends But Sad When I’m Alone: A Colors Show
Listening to this performance by 070 Shake might be how fans of the genre of opera feel. It’s a song, it’s epic storytelling, it’s her voice used with high emotional range, it’s funny, sarcastic, heart breaking and empowering.
- Kae Tempest – Hold Your Own
Kae Tempest’s mouth seems so close to the microphone in this recording that their voice sits right next to my ears as if I can almost feel the hot air. Their poetry asks us to embed ourselves in the beauty and complication of everyday experience as a place of political and creative emancipation.
- Stephanie Collingwoode Williams, Olave Nduwanje and Mohamed Mimoun – Redefining Activism: Climate Justice Camp 2020
This is a bilingual French and English conversation between Stephanie Collingwoode Williams, Olave Nduwanje and Mohamed Mimoun that was recorded in Brussels in 2020. The three speakers chart their own personal journeys in, out and around feminist, queer and anti-racist activism, and tackle the complexities of collective self-organising. I am especially inspired by Olave’s breaking down of why the recognition, appreciation and emulation of emotional labour is so important in any radical political or creative project.
- Dolly Parton interviewed by Willie Geist – Dolly Parton Tells The Story of “9 to 5” Song
The central role of acrylic fingernails, and Dolly Parton’s mastery of playing them, is a true high-femme power moment in feminist music herstory. In this short interview, she explains her artistic process for the title track that accompanied the 1980 film 9 to 5.
- Geo Wyex – WHO U GONNA CALL
Artist and musician Geo Wyex lives in Rotterdam. We met many years ago in Amsterdam and I don’t get to see them as much as I would like to at all, so I am really thankful that they make music and share it online because it means I can hear their voice whenever I need to. Geo’s work carries many wriggly truth nuggets, and I find that when I listen to their music, I dream weirder. This track and the next one can be listened to in sequence.
- Geo Wyex – MUCK SIGNAL
For the September issue of GLEAN, Marnie Slater provided the visual contribution to Jessica Gysel’s monthly series of artist contributions, I See / You Mean.