It’s not so often that you get to feel like you’re in the height of the riot grrrl nineties in your very own town. (For those who don’t know, riot grrrl is a radical feminist movement that largely sprang from the punk rock music scene in the early nineties.) But this weekend is your chance to do just that. Enter the fifth annual Big She-Bang, an all-day event of performers, artists, panelists and tablers by and for women-identified artists and community members. The Big She-Bang is presented by For the Birds Collective and takes place this Saturday, August 14 at the Church of the Messiahfrom 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Despite the “for women-identified artists and community members” tagline, the event is all ages, and everyone is welcome. This year’s theme is feminist communication. (Some past themes have been community responses to grief and illness, and a how-to guide to DIY feminism.)On tap is an art show with works by Patty Bowman, Molly Fair, Xander Marro, Beth Slutzky, Meg Turner and Michaela Zacchili; and workshops and panel discussions on feminism through creativity presented by members of Sister Spit and Younity; consent and interpersonal communication presented by Support New York and F*****’ (A);and on Youth and Media presented by Femmedia, Nicole Acosta and Nydia Swaby.As a finale of sorts, there will be musical performances by Des Ark, Bless Roxwell, Aye Nako and Bell’s Roar.
For the Birds Collective has officially been around since 2008 but in actuality even longer as this group of ladies is essentially the Long Island Womyn’s Collective reincarnated—these women have been rallying behind the same mission for a long time. Originally founded in 2003 out of a need for their own female-centeredsafe space in a predominately male-controlled punk community, the LIWC held their first monumental event the next year—a women-run show with exclusively female creators. Hence, the Big She-Bang. When the ladies of the LIWC started eventually migrating from LI to Brooklyn (taking the Big She-Bang with them), they joined forces with NYC feministsand made their clan all the more powerful . . . insert For the Birds.
The theme feminist communication unfolded naturally from the group’s own communication patterns. “Our own process showed us how important alternative communication is, and how unnoticed it often goes,” Kate Wadkins, integral member of For the Birds said. The goal among collective members was “to seek out the ways that other feminists choose to communicate, through what means, and specifically when dealing with difficult dialogues.”
One of the things the girls have struggled with is finding a successful way to reach out to teens. So when the organization and women who currently make up the Youth and Media panel presented themselves, they were just the answer the ladies were looking for. Co-presenters and friends Femmedia will be speaking about the work they do with youth literacy for young girls, zine-maker Nicole Acosta will share from her experience teaching zines to high school students, and Nydia Swaby who taught at Girls for Gender Equity and focused on African American history, will speak about her ventures there. “I’m excited about the thread of youth and media and how that empowers young women, but also the fact that the three people involved are coming from different places and different uses of media,” Wadkins said.
Some musical highlights include Des Ark and Bless Roxwell. Des Ark traditionally plays with either a whole band or as a one-woman show. For her performance on Saturday she will be playing by herself. “She [Aimee Argote] has a really emotional and powerful set . . . It’s pretty crazy to see a performer that can be just as powerful on her own as well as with a backing band,” Wadkins said, enthusiasm echoing in her voice. Bless Roxwellis a rapper that one of the FTBC members saw perform at Hunter and raved about to the group. At a meeting, they all sat around listening to her tunes and got really excited by them. Needless to say, they were ecstatic when she agreed to perform on Saturday.
If you still don’t know what to picture for the Big She-Bang, imagine a punk rock Lilith Fair. Or better yet, go see for yourself this Saturday. The Church of the Messiah is located at 129 Russell Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Big She-Bang-ers will be asking for a $6 to $10 sliding scale donation, although no will be turned away.