Let’s get political. One could see the main theme throughout the event Day for Night: women and the world’s current political situation. The event started with talks from Laurie Anderson, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Chelsea Manning, accompanied by an eye-opening poem by Saul Williams.
Laurie Anderson spoke of the dangers of myths and false memories. She provided her own personal anecdote about a pillow speaker that led to a trip to the pharmacist after battery acid caused it to stick to the roof of her mouth. Her talk was very well received, audience hanging on to her every word.
Nadya Tolokonnikova and Chelsea Manning spoke next. Manning started off with a poignant, if rather scattered, exposition on the dangers of big data collection and surveillance. She also talked of her time in prison, the need for the country as a whole to come together in solidarity to meet the potential threat of government tyranny and how much more remained to be done in order to right the wrongs of 21st century American politics.While she had a lot to say about a subject she must feel passionately about, Manning’s talk seemed to lack polish, with her nervous demeanor distracting from the underlying message.
Nadya Tolokonnikova seemed much more poised when speaking to the audience. As a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, which has made a name for itself through its anti-Putin activism, she spent several years in a Russian gulag for a protest in a Moscow cathedral. Tolokonnikova stood in solidarity with Manning. Both women had been imprisoned, though the former’s confinement came across as much more arduous than the latter’s. Tolokonnikova likewise spoke of the need for solidarity between freedom-minded people all over the globe, casting this resistance as the greatest threat to “modern autocrats” like Putin.
After Tolokonnikova and Manning spoke, Saul Williams recited a poem of his own that spoke on many of the themes that the two women had mentioned. He brought up issues of police brutality, racist criminal procedures and general alienation from society that minorities can and do feel in modern America, striking a chord with the audience and leaving each member enraptured as he read one line after the other.
These themes were not limited to the talks and poetry, however. Other performers, such as Princess Nokia, voiced their opinions on issues like racism and feminism. Some were grateful for the opportunity to spend time with like-minded artists, while others used their time on stage as a call to action, solidarity or even simple praise for the citizens of Houston for weathering Harvey together. All in all the theme was motivating and positive, helping to keep the energy of the crowds as the weekend went on.
All Pictures were taken by the author. For more information on the event, visit the Day for Night website.