The Grammy Awards were handed out this past weekend and as usual it was full of unexpected winners and losers. The big talking points were the continuing marginalization of hip-hop and the under-representation of women in the muci business in general. Only one female artist, Lorde, was nominated in the major album of the year category, and adding fuel to the frustration was the fact that she alone, of all the album of the year nominees was not given a chance to perform live. Her album, Melodrama, deserved it's nomination and it would have been great to see her perform for such a large audience. The excuses for her exclusion were very thin, 'too many performers, not enough time...' just doesn't cut it when other artists were given a space with no real necessity (no offense but two songs from Sting and Shaggy?) Apparently Lorde was offered an opportunity to perform as part of a tribute to Tom Petty, which she declined to do. Grammy President, Neil Portnow, only added to the frustration by commenting that women needed to raise their creative game if they want to be represented better, which is so naive it is hard to imagine anyone could think such a thing.
Initially she wasn't going to attend the event at all, but in the end she showed up and made one of the more powerful statements of the evening by being there in spite of the snub and also by what she wore. She wore a bright red evening gown with a sheet of paper sewn onto the back. The paper carried a portion of a work by artist Jenny Holzer from her Inflammatory Essays project. It read,
Rejoice! Our times are intolerable. Take courage, for the worst is a harbinger of the best. Only dire circumstance can precipitate the overthrow of oppressors. The old & corrupt must be laid to waste before the just can triumph. Contradiction will be heightened. The reckoning will be hastened by the staging of seed disturbances. The apocalypse will blossom.
She said that the piece was her demonstration of solidarity with the #metoo movement. Other artists wore white roses as a means of showing support, but Lorde cut her own path, much as she does with her music, and in so doing perhaps made the most powerful statement of the evening on a couple of fronts.
Later this year, I'll be speaking at an event called Wake, in Belfast and the theme is apocalypse and I was planning on using this very text as a launching point for the things I want to talk about. If you want to join me you can find out more here.