Editorial 41: Aged – Dayna McLeod

We are very happy to present you with our guest editor – the amazing Dayna McLeod – for issue no.41 of NMP. Dayna was one of the founding members of NMP and was the host of dykes on mykes for many many years! We hope you enjoy this very special issue.

We thank Dayna with all our hearts. <3

Mél Hogan, M-C MacPhee and Andrea Zeffiro

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AGED, as in:

• Being of advanced age; old.
• Characteristic of old age.
• Having reached the age of: aged fifty.
• Brought to a desired ripeness or maturity: aged cheese.
• In Geology – approaching the base level of erosion.

These definitions were the starting point for this issue of No More Potlucks, but they do not begin to encompass the depth with which the contributing writers and artists approach this theme in their work.

Our cover story features a selection of intimate aging animal portrait photographs by Isa Leshko from her series, Elderly Animals. Accompanying this moving work is an attentive analysis of each image by Teresa Mangum, who also looks at the role aging animals play in our lives, engineered factory farm animals, and interspecies aging. In her essay, Isa Leshko’s “Elderly Animals”— Art, Age, Animals, and Us, Mangum closely examines the fragile, dignified beauty Leshko captures in her portraits, as well as reflects on Leshko’s caring image-making practice that involves contemplative collaboration with her elderly animal subjects.

In his essay The Gift of Dying with Philip Hoffman, Mike Hoolboom guides us through Philip Hoffman’s 45-minute experimental film, Aged. An accomplished and incredible filmmaker in his own right, Hoolboom writes with expert insight and thoughtful deliberation about Hoffman’s poignant portrait of his aging father. With attention to each frame, audio hiss, and film flare, and the textual residue that resides within, Hoolboom directs our attention to the construction of the film and Hoffman’s place in it. Hoolboom discusses the everyday act of aging and its effects on the familial witnesses that surround an aging body, of the care required for its upkeep. He focuses on the performances for snapshot cameras and home movies that we enact and endure, while aging happens and is marked by these nostalgic processes and antiquated technologies.

In Ancient Old Things, Annie Rollins deftly observes that “old is just a word to express the impermanence of everything.” A playful and perceptive introspection about what we think we mean by the terms ‘old’ and ‘ancient,’ Rollins draws on her personal experiences as a maker and researcher of Chinese shadow puppets and their creators to question why we assign value to old objects, but not necessarily to the elderly artists who make them.

Adriana Disman’s poetic Untitled Propositions (a love letter) marks the breaking apart of an intergenerational love-affair between two women. Wringing out the fraught, the scathing, and the absolute over-ness of a relationship, Disman’s list of 36 states of feeling are sharpened with frantic heartache, lustful regret, and devastating loss, while softened by nostalgic eroticism, familiar intimacies, and romantic self-examination.

Finally, multi-disciplinary artist Aiyyana Maracle presents video documentation of her recent performance piece, Death in the Shadow of the Umbrella, which premiered at the Queer Arts Festival in Vancouver this summer. Painted shoulder-to-toe in red and wearing a masked headpiece, Maracle gently offers her aged naked body as a canvas for her audience to mark, write, and draw upon by extending to them a feather dipped in white paint. The audience is prompted by the presentation and offering of Maracle’s naked body, and by various elements in the installation she stands in, which include a literal ‘trans’ umbrella and an outline of a body on the floor marked “transsexual women.” Accompanying this video documentation is Maracle’s passionate artist statement that demands that we acknowledge and answer for why transsexual woman are (still) loudly ridiculed and humiliated, targeted for violence and murder, and denied, decried, and fictionalized by lesbian and feminist writers. Grievously she writes, “Oh for the time when our lives matter, more than our deaths.”

I extend my sincerest and most heartfelt thanks to each of the contributors of this issue. Your talent, time, patience, work, and insight are immensely appreciated. Thanks too, very much to Mél Hogan and M-C MacPhee for letting me curate this edition of No More Potlucks. Both Mél and M-C have been incredibly supportive and kind to me over the years, and their tireless work and free labour on No More Potlucks is a testament to their generosity. Thank you Mél and M-C, and your entire team for all that you do.

Dayna McLeod