Cultural Critique

Otherness in Society

Art by William Wallace

William Wallace is a Philadelphia-based painter and metal worker. Originally from Seattle, he received his Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. While at Evergreen, Mr. Wallace juggled welding for the campus’ metal shop with academics, created a student-led workshop series and assisted the President’s Diversity Fund in workshop development. After graduation he took to the road, exploring different corners of the U.S. while developing his ideas and techniques as a visual artist.

Mr. Wallace’s work explores how one may view oneself through the lens of “otherness”.  As a queer black artist, he examines the experiences of those who are excluded from society’s narrative of what constitutes a normal or acceptable identity. William has created a distinct contemporary style, mixing his own paints and using found items - such as windows and door frames - as canvas. 

William Wallace has exhibited work in the Toshiro Kaplan Building for Seattle’s Arts Walk, at Phila Moca for their 2014 “ ‘Murica” group exhibition, and at the 3rd Street Gallery in Old City, Philadelphia . He was also a Visual Arts Director for Mastery Charter Schools Summer Institute. 

Check out more of Williams work on Instagram!

Dickotomy: Fitting Into Gay Culture

Dickotomy: Fitting Into Gay Culture

A certain dichotomy is developing over these past couple of weekends as I find myself in the midst of Fire Island rush hour on the Long Island Rail Road. Just this past weekend, for example, I left mid day Friday to head to Nassau County to visit my parents. In doing so I caught the extent of seer-sucking, aviator wearing homosexuals heading east towards Sayville. The gay man’s life has always seemed a bit fanciful to me, unobtainable even, something out of a movie that I was never able to achieve – which has always led me to feel a slight disconnect from the community. Somehow they have the time to work a job that allots them the freedom, luxury and finances for a Fire Island share; but also have the time to maintain a glamorous social life and participate in a gym routine that results in a perfectly sculpted body. I on the other hand can barely allocate funds that allot me the freedom to ride the MTA Subway system on a weekly basis, and despite rigorous efforts, still have the physique of a prepubescent girl.

Increasing Doses of Adderall

A Narrative By Brandon Beckelheimer

Well my name is Brandon Beckelheimer. I'm 21 years old. And I have been prescribed at least 19 different medications for mental health related reasons. I have been diagnosed with virtually every major disorder. Doctors have been unable to decide what my main problem is. One told me I have mere ADHD. Another one says it is major depressive disorder combined with generalized anxiety disorder. Another says it is bipolar disorder, whose antipsychotic treatment nearly had the opposite effect...

One doctor suggested my problem is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, which is different from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCPD is a disorder of the personality that doesn't include the fear of something going horribly wrong all the time. It's defined as "preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, excessive attention to details, mental and interpersonal control, and a need for power over one's environment, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency." Absolutely NOT me.

Point in case, even medically trained doctors really have no clue what they're doing. To dabble with a field as ethereal as the mind is a large undertaking. Consciousness is a subjective reality. I imagine the experience of consciousness in another form as a means of leisurely pleasure. In other words, I create 'imaginary friends' who I know absolutely do NOT exist except within my own consciousness. However, that does not stop me from being able to create a figure that apparently comes to life and adapts its own traits. I talk to them. I pretend they are real. I do this out of a desire to communicate with my own unconscious mind. When asked if he believes in God, famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung responded that "anytime someone says God, they are truly referring the unconscious."

I'm intrigued by many things, but what most intrigues me is psychology of consciousness. This includes animals, even the ones which rely on mere instinct. Is instinct something that we don't rely on? Are we not merely a response to the previous stimulus? Does Free Will exist, and is the mind truly in our control?

Along with this, I play volleyball competitively. I graduated with an athletic scholarship out of high school with a volleyball scholarship to one of the top ranked teams in the nation. I was so excited to go there, but when I took Adderall to help me with my AP exam, I was doomed. I found a way to get this absolutely addicting and euphoric drug prescribed to me by using the excuse that I have ADHD, and then I took it with me to college. I was living in a dorm, shut away in my room mostly, burying my body in pills, 6-7 in a day sometimes. I was finishing each bottle within a week and waiting three weeks for my parents to ship the next bottle. I lived through this state of heavy binge-ing followed by three week crash and managed to survive my first semester of college with a 3.5 GPA, making me eligible to play on the team.

The second semester I increased my dosage. Then came the collapse. I did not go to class beyond the first week. I attended every volleyball practice as normal, knowing my coaches wouldn't know about the condition of my grades. I quit the team a month before the season was to end, with intentions of signing to play with another school. I signed with another school, and never showed up. Instead I buried myself in my bedroom, zombifying myself with Adderall binges with a laptop as company for intense research.

During this time, which lasted for quite a while, I discovered the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. It is a personality test rooted in the work of Jung which reveals key insights to the processes of the human mind. So I discovered my type (ENFP) and studied it fervently, almost as if I was trying to find myself in another man's book.

Next came my discovery of the Enneagram of Personality. This was like a paradigm shift of understanding to me about how the Universe works. This subject goes into such depth about the human mind that it can be used to transcend your self. Mental health issues often correlate to Enneagram of Personality, as described by Claudio Naranjo in his book Character and Neurosis. He also explains what the purpose of his research: 

"The broadest distinction in the body of Fourth Way Psychology that I seek to outline, is between 'essence' and 'personality -between the real being and the conditioned being with which we ordinarily identify; between the greater and the lesser mind. Where Gurdjieff spoke of personality, Ichazo spoke of ego-more in line with recent usage (ego trip, ego death, ego transcendence, and so on) than with the meaning given to 'ego' in today's ego psychology. The distinction is similar to that proposed today by Winnicott between the 'real self' and the 'false self,' yet it may be misleading to speak of essence, soul, true self or atman as if the reference were something fixed and identifiable. Rather than speak of essence as a thing, then, we should think of it as a process, an ego-less, unobscured, and free manner of functioning of the integrated human wholeness."

My goal is to unify the existing structures and psychological models to form an Equation of the Psyche that can be used to describe the aspect of a person's behavior, desires, needs, wants, fears, motivations, essentially their "I". I'm pretty far away from where I want to be, but know I will survive in the end. The key to life is just to live and that's enough to be grateful for.

Relationships, Betrayal and Fashion

Julz Hale Mary

"Relationship Hook" shows how romantic relationships often cause the loosing of one's intuition, preferences, and sense of right and wrong.  It highlights the confusion and cognitive dissonance one experiences in the abusive relationships.  Ultimately, it explores socially sanctioned attractions, and their entrenchment in heteropatriarchal narratives of masc and femme.  The clips used in the film pull from Buffalo 66, Fight Club, and Gossip Girl. 

"He Will Protect Them, He Will Grope Them" is an outfit by Julz Hale Mary.  Julz externalizes betrayal, trans dysmorphia and sexual abuse/harassment.  The outfit questions the promises of protection by an exploitive white patriarchal society, exposing the 'protector' as the abuser.

Julz Hale Mary is a multi-media performance artist who exposes the absurdity of polite society.  Julz is especially focused on interrogating the white patriarchy by creating campy renderings of feminized pathologies.  Influenced by somatic therapy and alternative mental health, Julz utilizes modern dance, Colorguard, objects, video, pop culture, fashion, drag, and music to obscure "common beliefs" based on the traditional lens of psychoanalysis.  Inspired by their own trans narrative, Julz critically engages western binaries, capitalist ladders, and one dimensional sentimentalities.  Their work has been featured at SomArts, The Lab, Artist Television Access, Submission, The Stud, Seattle LGBT Film Festival, Boston LGBT Film Festival, and The Center for Sex and Culture. 

Find out more about Julz here