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March 12, 2007 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-12

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8A - Monday, March 12, 2007 ..a The Michigan Daily - mich

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A'Transition' told
gracefully with art
By PRIYA BALI type of vulnerability and lived
Daily Arts Writer outside the stereotype in mascu-
linity. Sligh the did the name with
With compelling art, some- women who seemed to be antith-
times all it takes is a good story. It eses of femininity. Exploring
isn't necessarily beautiful or elab- gender through these deviations
orate, but it's remarkably hon- from societal norms presented a
est, the kind of greater question of what makes
work that fort- each of us male or female.
es the audience Jake in In her lecture, Sligh ques-
out of a com- Transition tioned if every part of an individ-
fort zone and ual's body was assigned a gender.
into a dialogue from Female "Do muscles have gender?" she
with the both to Male asked. Sligh attempts to answer
the subject and such gender-based questions in
the self. It chal- Through her exhibit, and in some cases the
lenges you to April15 physical line between both gen-
look beneath ders may seem quite thin.
the actual At the Lane Hall Sligh tried to include an
image for the Gallery, 204 expression of her own changing
work's soul. S. StateSt. identity, as Jake's transformation
Artist Clarissa Free caused her to examine her own
Sligh presents identity as a black woman. "As I
this challenge observe and support Jake in his
in her photography exhibit "Jake changes so that his body can pass
in Transition from Female to as a white man, I cannot help but
Male," running through April 15 think about the fact that I will
in the Lane Hall gallery on State never be able to change my brown
Street. skin to escape the layer of oppres-
The 44 black-and-white imag- sion one experiences from being
es tell the struggle of a man who black in America," Sligh states in
felt trapped inside his female the exhibit's catalogue.
body. Arranged chronologically, The accuracy of Jake's photo-
the photographs follow Jake graphs depends on Sligh's will-
(then known as Deb) as a woman ingness to become part of the
through her sex change to the process. She learned that the
final aftermath of an arduous and camera became a safe place for
her and Jake's exploration to take
place and allowed her to slowly,
A life narrative yet fully, accept Jake's transi-
tion. Standing opposite of Sligh's
f the audience lens allowed Jake to do the same.
or "aIt became a mirror for him to
and the artist. explore his body and his feel-
ings," Sligh said.
Sligh found herself facing the
same challenge she indirectly
emotional process, many featur- gave people through her artwork.
ing Jake's own super-imposed "I saw my own vulnerability. I
words. saw my own fears - and I had to
In order to tell a true story, face that," she said. "I was look-
the photographs are understand- ing at a situation in a person that
ably graphic in their portrayal of brought out all this terror inside
Jake's sex change. In a brown bag of me."
lecture given by Sligh during the The artist and the witnesses of
first month of the exhibit's open- the product experience the same
ing, the artist admitted it was disarming feeling of despair -
initially disturbing to see Jake's this is where the catharsis comes
physical transformation, mak- from: shared humanity.
ing it more challenging to accept Perhaps we aren't as deeply
Jake's new identity. involved, but we can certainly
Before Sligh met Deb in the fall attempt to undergo the transition
of 1996, she had been photograph- from outsider to insider, especial-
ing men who had unusual norms ly in this exhibit.
for their male identities. These Difficult? Yes. Impossible?
men were willing to show any Never.

Ember
burns
FOLK ARTIST'S TRIO
IMPRESSES AT THE ARK
By ANNA ASH
DailyArts Writer
It's a tough dig when everyone considers
you the Canadian (and blonde) version of Ani
DiFranco. Yes, Ember Swift started her own
record label. Yes, she uses
her music as an agent for her
activism. And yes, she's a hot Ember Swift
babe who can kick ass on the
guitar - but do not let these Saturday
similarities fool you. Swift and AtThe Ark
her trio are far and beyond any
need for Ani comparisons. In
fact, while the scads of Ani-Ember comparisons
may be accurate in regard to the veneer of a solo
Swift, they are terribly derisory in regard to the
entirety of Swift and her trio.
Anyone who saw Saturday night's show at
The Ark would understand why. Accompanied
by the distinctive pluckings and bowings of bass
and electric violin player Lyndell Montgomery
and the percussion beats of Adam Bowman,
Swift and her social import were enthusiasti-
cally received by the Ann Arbor audience, most
of which only knew of the group because of their
brief January performance at the Ann Arbor
folk festival.
After beginning the night with a taste of her
bilingual lyrics (English and French), mouth
trombone and opinions of our privileged culture,
Swift strayed away from the overtly political

No DiFranco stand-in here, Ember Swift and her band have a sound of their own - and it's good.

saturation for which her music occasionally gets
criticized. Instead, she opted for a bit of humor.
"This is really a song about alternative thera-
pies," Swift told the crowd, "... like bowling."
While this tune rounded out the lyrical con-
tent of the evening, it wasn't until her modified
version of the jazz standard "Summertime" that
the full breadth of Swift's vocals was exposed.
In almost every previous song, her vocals
(with exception to her mouth trombone skills)
had unfortunately fell into constant simile. In
one song her voice sounded like Gwen Stefani,
another like Fiona Apple and a third - of course
- like Ani DiFranco. All it took was a slow, sul-
try, minor key jazz standard to bring out her
own signature voice.
But the musical climax of the show was
undoubtedly at the end of the first set with the
Middle Eastern instrumental "Pek." Swift's
occasional chanting and rhythmic accompani-
ment gave her band members a few minutes of
due glory. With Montgomery's bow alternat-
ing between her violin and an acoustic guitar,
and both Bowman's hands and mallets taking
their appropriate spotlight, the two made a very
strong argument that this group should official-
ly attach trio to Ember Swift's name.
Montgomery's experimental violin chops and

distinguishing bass slappings and plucks partic-
ularly warrant this modest, Mohawked wo$ian
some well-deserved recognition. Fortunately,
Swift's latest album, The Dirty Pulse, featues a
few co-written tunes of hers.
Although the second set couldn't quitellve
up to the feverish culmination of the first, it
wasn't completely lackluster. For a '50s-style
tune, Swift used her loop pedal to create three
part harmony do-wops for her backup singers.
The song itself, with its old sound and mildly
fervent lyrics about a 10-foot tall, bulletproof,
beer-drinking person was strangely entertain-
ing, but Swift's excessive dialogue leading into
the song drew it out beyond its allotted atten-
tion span.
After 11 years of writing and performing
music, it's no surprise that Ember Swifthas poise
and skill. A successful D.I.Y. musician, Swift has
released nine albums under her label Few'll
Ignite Sound, ranging from folk, jazz, funk and
even punk. Though a few of the songs played last
Saturday merely echoed the expected activist/
guitarist/Ani DiFranco counterpart role many
critiques have thrown her into, a tune like "Pek"
and that version of "Summertime" overturn
these expectations to reveal a group - not just
an artist - that is unlike any other.

6
6

Like all bad parties,

By ANDREW KAHN
DailyArts Writer

bly inconsistent throughout the
album.

But it's not
Those who purchase Math- the production
ematics Presents Wu-Tang Clan t that prevents
Friends: Unreleased expecting a Unreleased from
heavy dose of Wu Tang will be dis- reaching its full VariOUS
satisfied. The project is saturated potential. It's the AtIStS
with the friends, but appearances lack of Wu-Tang
from actual Wu Tang members are rappers. Of the Mathematics
few and far between. 20 tracks, only Presents
DJ Allah Mathematics, the pro- seven feature Wu-Tang Clan
ducer of many of the Wu-Tang any of the origi- Wu.Tan Cla
Clan's hits, has compiled a disc full nal nine mem- & Frends:
of remixes and previously unre- bers of the Clan, Unreleased
leased material. and only three Nature
Given Mathematics's reputa..of those feature
tion, there are high expectations. more than one on
And while he doesn't entirely did- the same song.
appoint, the production is palpa- It's too bad, because the Wu-

too little Wu-Tan
Tang tracks are, unsurprisingly,
the best on the album. Raekwon Compi
spits street tales over simple keys la11tion
on "Treez" and joins Inspectah lacks
Deck on the dark "Rap Burglars." C On L
But a few true Wu songs aren't
enough to elevate the album from relevant artist
mediocrity. The (misleading) title
aside, you can make a strong argu-
ment that this shouldn't even be the original. "Da 'N' (Remix),"
considered a Wu-Tang project. though, has a laidback vibe and
Mathematics' remixes are hit or is a pleasant take on a classic Wu
miss. Some don't improve on the track.
originals, like "Maxine (Remix)," With the first group album since
which replaces the grit of the 2001 expected to be released 's
original with a light guitar that summer, Unreleased could e
clashes with Ghostface'sdelivery. e e r a great preparato t.
The funky horns on "Wu Banga Instead, the few bright spot
(Remix)" don't compare to .he .oershadowed by the glaring k
piano-driven soul sample used on of Wu-Tang members.

___________________________________ -~ ~ -~
U I El

Gain real world

FRESHMEN! SUMMER
SOPHOMORES!. AND FALL
JUNIORS!
INTERNSHIPS!

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