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Monday
Jul252011

Teengirl Fantasy I: Tavi Gevinson, Collage, The Importance of the Altar 

[ED: I never had a subscription to Sassy. Like most timid baby gays in the early 90s, I subsisted on furtive library perusal and the companionship of cool girls with cool moms who did. Tavi Gevinson is totally that girl.

This post is a continuation of themes touched on in the post "Youth Culture in the Bedroom" from February, and the first in a pair on spaces created specifically by and for teenage girls. While it's increasingly strange to see my own formative obsessions reflected back at me by someone half my age, I remain fascinated by teenage bedrooms as a site of individuation, and find Tavi’s inspiration and execution posts remarkably focused and insightful.  Her brief discussion of The Virgin Suicides' Libson sisters as libidinal foils is particularly worth reading.

More teenery of note can be found here, at teenagebedroom.tumblr.com, in these photographs by Olivia Bee, and in the still so worth reading monograph In My Room: Teenagers in Their Bedrooms by Adrienne Salinger.

Also, it’s summer, and I made a mix.

Again, also, if you find yourself free and near Brooklyn this Wednesday, July 27th, Tavi, a via-Skype Jane Pratt, Ira Glass, Janeane Garofalo and Marisa Meltzer are hosting a tribute to Sassy at Littlefield in Boerum Hill. It might be sold out, but if you're creative you'll make some phone calls and work it out.]

 

"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image." - Joan Didion, taken from "In the Islands," The White Album, 1979

"Rather than sticking things on sheets of paper, which is what I’ve done in the past, I decided to take this 'collage your life' mentality (that may or may not be a mentality I decided was real when I was watching Twilight Zone reruns on 4 different meds, so you probs shouldn’t change your life for it) one step further. Even further than Ezra Pound himself took it. I’m making one of my bedroom walls into an enormous collage with layered poetic meaning and more glitter glue than is advisable in any circumstance, ever. Knowing, as I do, that this is a very cliched thing for an overwrought teenage girl to do, I have created the collage to reflect the chaotic, cluttered, conflicted psyche that is so frequently associated with adolescence, with a spectrum ranging from the dark, complex, and sophisticated to the bright, traditionally feminine, and happily childish. There are still some fun juxtapositions, however. There are blurry baby pictures next to photos of multiplying lung cancer cells. There is album art next to poetry. There are plastic flowers next to weird garbage that I found in my dresser. If I liked it, it went on the wall. The adolescence thing is pretty much just my excuse for turning one of my walls into a 3-d, Technicolor dump." [1]

"A shrine (Latin: scrinium "case or chest for books or papers"; Old French: escrin "box or case") is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated. A shrine at which votive offerings are made is called an altar. Shrines are found in many of the world's religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca, Chinese folk religion and Shinto, as well as in secular and non-religious settings such as a war memorial. Shrines can be found in various settings, such as churches, temples, cemeteries, or in the home, although portable shrines are also found in some cultures.

Historically, in Hinduism, Buddhism and Roman Catholicism, as well as in modern faiths, such as Neopaganism, a shrine can commonly be found within the home or shop. This shrine is usually a small structure or a setup of pictures and figurines dedicated to a deity that is part of the official religion, to ancestors or to a localised household deity.

Small household shrines are very common among the Chinese and people from South and Southeast Asia, whether Hindu, Buddhist or Christian. Usually a small lamp and small offerings are kept daily by the shrine. Buddhist household shrines must be on a shelf above the head; Chinese shrines must stand directly on the floor." [2]

"What sorts of things go on an altar? Lots of times a Witch will have statues of the Lord and Lady, or a picture of something that they feel represents the Witch’s idea of God. Often we have a representation of each element, candles to see by (called illuminator candles), and any object that has importance to us. We try not to let our altar get too cluttered. To keep the altar from getting crowded with our special things, many Witches have a shrine area in their sacred space too. Although Witches offer prayers at a shrine they do not normally use the shrine surface in the same way they use the altar.

Since the altar holds great importance in our religion, we don’t put anything on the altar that isn’t holy or sacred—no cups of juice, cans of soda, homework papers, half-eaten cookies, books from school, makeup, sports equipment, or bits of odd clothing. We also don’t let anyone play around on our altar, fiddle with what we’ve put there, or allow other people to remove things from it. This, I know, can be hard if we have curious parents, siblings, or friends.

If you think you will have a problem with others where you live, keep in mind that your altar doesn’t have to look like an altar to be one. For years I kept the main altar in my own home looking like an unusual collection of interesting items, just so visitors to the house would not give me or my family any grief." [3]

"From Weetzie there’s a collage she made and put in a gold-leaf frame painted with pink and blue roses. The collage has pressed pansies, rose petals, glitter, lace, tiny pink plastic flamingos and babies, gold stars, tiny mirrors and hand-colored cutout photographs of my family. In the center there’s a picture of me and a picture of Charlie Bat goofing in this top hat and it looks like we’re holding hands. Something about our smoky eyes and skinny faces makes us look like a real grandfather and granddaughter." [4]

"Temples to worship the gods were built throughout the Roman Empire. Temples usually always followed the same building pattern. The roof was triangular shaped and supported by great pillars. Steps led up to the main doorway that was usually built behind the pillars. The inside of the temple would have been very well decorated and there would have been a statue of the god in it. There would also have been an altar where a priest would have served the god and made sacrifices. People called augurs could also be found in the temples. These people used the entrails of the dead animals to predict the future. The Romans took these predictions very seriously and few ignored the advice of an augur.

Each family home would also have a small altar and shrine. The Romans had personal household gods or spirits called 'lares' which were worshipped every day at home. The shrine contained statues of the 'lares' and the head of the household led family prayers around the shrine each day. The service was considered so important that family slaves were also invited. It is believed that most Romans were more keen to please their 'lares' than the public gods such as Jupiter." [5]

JOAN DIDION TEXT CITED IN PASSAGE; TEXT [1] TAKEN FROM GRRRL STYLE, "THE COLLAGIST AESTHETIC IS EATING MY BRAIN", JULY 5, 2011; TEXT [2] VIA WIKIPEDIA, "SHRINE" ENTRY; TEXT [3] TAKEN FROM TEEN WITCH: WICCA FOR A NEW GENERATION, BY SILVER RAVENWOLF, 1998; TEXT [4] TAKEN FROM MISSING ANGEL JUAN BY FRANCESCA LIA BLOCK, 1995; TEXT [5] TAKEN FROM HISTORYLEARNINGSITE.CO.UK, "ANCIENT ROME AND RELIGION" ENTRY; ALL IMAGES VIA TAVI GEVINSON/STYLEROOKIE, TAKEN FROM "ROOM PART 1", "ROOM PART 2", AND "HEY HEY GUYS LOOK AT ALL MY STUFF"

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