i don’t need a husband
don’t need no wife
and i don’t need the day
i don’t need the night, the night…
i’m gonna leave my body
(moving up to higher ground)
i’m gonna lose my mind
(history keeps pulling me down)*
somehow in this, our annual body issue, america is a driving subtext. it’s an unexpected twist but our national consciousness is represented squarely, albeit complicatedly, through our mary gregory’s prism of artistic purview. her objectified and talking walls columns are not the shortest distance to the theme of this issue, but they no less deliver on the promise of being alive in this moment in time.
the subject of gregory’s objectified is whitney curator barbara haskell, with grant wood’s “american gothic” at the center of both the article and the subject’s current exhibit. wood’s depression-era iowan sensibility turned a pitch fork into a symbol and a pair of dour seniors into icons. in talking walls, gregory looks at the romare bearden show at hofstra’s emily lowe gallery. the artist and his work are a time capsule for the harlem renassiance he was born into and post-WWII europe where he traveled and studied. both artists represent american realities. both endeavor these realities with subtlety, muted palettes, subversion and biting honesty. you might think there is some silent conspiracy at play (i want to believe it) but they worked almost 30 years apart, authoring pieces that were both from and to very different realities. yet there is no denying their relevance to their moments in time, to each other and to us two generations later. and at the heart of it all is the human form.
for all its glory, the body—old, young, black, midwestern, corpulent, stoic, grotesque, urban—is the vessel through which we interpret these moments. fast forward to february of 2018 and find bruce soyez-bernard and his high-speed digital camera, a tech station and a bunch of us in a brooklyn studio on a rainy day where that same articulation plays out through the modern vernacular of photography and dance. and the sensuality of skin and youth.
we call it the 7 living virtues in juxtaposed celebration of the 7 deadly sins. it is the mantra of basic life practices your mother taught you, but somehow often forgotten when battling the LIE, a boardroom or throngs at the airport. and we present it for you here, niched into the binding of our magazine, as a tactile account. the grace of soyez-bernard’s light and composition, and the movement of our dancers, testify to the most living bodies in the most visceral way. they are not saying “look like this, or do like me or be this size” they are simply saying, “BE!”
for that matter, so does model ashley graham, whose interview also appears in this issue. the curvy goddess has made a career of being one of the top 10 highest paid models in the fashion industry, but she has made her name for so much more. graham shares her back story with us and through that we learn something about motivation, voice and moxie. she has inspired the fashion industry to change its silhouettes. she has inspired women to love themselves. she has inspired men to accept their lovers of all sizes. but when you inspire mattel to change the shape of barbie so that her thighs touch and her lower belly pots in venus virtue, you have truly reshaped our perspective of an ideal.
as for the soundtrack to set it all to, go rogue with the music of dare to be different. the documentary on WLIR named for the station’s seminal platform headed by dennis mcnamara takes its place in our culture pages this month in anticipation of the showtime debut. it’s spring, roll down the windows and turn it up.
one grand moment,*
* “leave my body,” florence + the machine