Last weekend, self-identifying Nasty Women artists, comedians, musicians, spoken word poets, workshop panelists and arts volunteers came together in London in one glorious fuck you to the current president of the USA. Donald Trump’s “such a nasty woman” aside to the microphone while Hillary Clinton spoke during the final presidential debate has galvanised a global arts movement in a show of resistance and solidarity.
With an aim to give everyone who has ever felt silenced a voice, Nasty Women UK is an intersectional movement bringing together people of all genders, races, faiths and LGBTQIA identities. Nasty Women UK Co-Director and Producer, Kasia Uscinska, explains: “The last twelve months have seen a spate of sexist news stories, with women’s rights being threatened, both here and around the world. The political climate has normalised intolerance in our culture. An estimated 100,000 people attended the Women’s March in London in January. We want to carry that momentum forward, ensure our voices are heard and inspire new generations of Nasty Women.”
Deux Furieuses marched on that Women’s March and when we were invited to play Nasty Women UK’s event, we were determined to find a way to play a part. As we could not perform our normal drum-powered assault in the gallery space we decided to make our acoustic debut. We very much felt that there should be a nasty element to the music at this event. We challenged ourselves to put across Deux Furieuses without the power of drums and a Marshall stack. Ros played ‘Can We Talk About This?’ and ‘Are We Sexy Enough?’ on acoustic and changed the lyrics from “Are we angry enough?” to “Are we nasty enough?”. Vas joined in on vocals and tambourine for new song ‘Let Them Burn’. The response to our short set on the night and the following day has encouraged us to get our message out in as many ways as possible.
Following the crowds round from Hackney Wick station to Stour Space on Friday evening, we found the opening night in full swing. We wanted more of Bishi on her sitar; we were introduced to the wonderful Phillippa Egerton who has created Donald Trump’s head in fruit cake form and invited us to the slicing and eating event at her house on 15th October; we were thrilled to find that rock photographer Iona Dee had a photo print of Ros playing guitar at our album launch at The Lexington in the exhibition… Guess who bought it?!
On Saturday night we were welcomed to Stour Space by moonlighting Southbank Centre volunteers who showed us to the performer green room. We looked down to a packed audience sitting on the floor and laughing uproariously in recognition at the comedy of Sindhu Vee. We loved that she was smart and could handle her British-born son but was quite defeated by the ‘old people logic’ of her Indian parents. Fatiha El-Ghorri also had us laughing while allowing us some insight into her struggles as a female Muslim Londoner in a head scarf who clearly leaves the house armed with a cutting comic retort. A drink with Saturday night’s DJ and Clit Rock founder Ms Mohamed led to a discussion about female musicians’ isolation in London and her idea for a monthly meet up.
We squeezed our way into the Art As Activism workshop on Sunday and felt our own struggle reflected back by the many other artists there. The panelists told us about their work, talked about female artists often suffering from imposter syndrome, and during the Q&A an audience member asked about the soul destroying need to measure the impact of your art for the purposes of funding – “GO SMALL!” said panelist Sam Roddick.
As we came down the stairs from an inspiring workshop, we heard singer songwriter Madame So soundcheck in the main space. As sound engineer Isabella Dibi adjusted the sound, people milled around looking at the art as photographer Suzi Corker captured everything with her camera. From the organisers’ production grid to real life, here was Nasty Women in action; at its best when the different sections of curation overflowed and merged together in one common creative endeavour.
Later Feral Five front woman Terry Tyldesley (whose photo on stage giving it her all in a home made Nasty Woman T shirt pretty much nails it) encouraged us round to witness Selena Godden in full flow spitting out her spoken word to a spellbound audience. Here was all the depth, power and comment that we aspire to as musicians and songwriters.
Nasty Women’s weekend event has raised over £7500 for End Violence Against Women and was a smash of a success. But it is not over. It feels like it is just beginning – and, as we look at the photos and find each other online and plan to meet up, the work starts again! This is an art movement on the march.
Words: Ros & Vas, Deux Furieuses
Photos: Suzi Corker