Our story for this episode comes from our friends at the Dead Ladies Show NYC, which is organized and hosted by Molly O’Laughlin Kemper with Sheila Enright. Photographer, professional eccentric, and guinea-pig lover JR Pepper (previously on the pod with Mae West) tells the tale of artist Leonor Fini, a glamorous, passionate iconoclast (and cat lover) with a brilliant creative mind who was fiercely independent — at a time when women were allowed to be muses, not painters.
Like her friend Leonora Carrington, Fini is often called a Surrealist, but she didn’t consider herself one of their group due to their misogynistic views, which included viewing women as either childlike muse or femme fatale. Her paintings utilized the female gaze, and often featured catlike and other creatures inspired by Fini’s own striking appearance, accompanied by languid men. Leonor Fini’s life was as rule-breaking as her art; she had many lovers, and spent much of her life living in a happy throuple — along with about 20 cats.
DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins producer/host Susan Stone to introduce this episode’s featured Dead Lady.
Join us, February 22, 7–9pm at the Red Room, for our twenty-first Dead Ladies Show on American soil, as we do things just a little bit differently! We will learn about two pioneering artists (an aristocrat-turned-Marxist and an Argentinian-turned-Italian) and a death-defying homemaker with a healthy respect for packaged baked goods. Presented by a postdoc, a photog, and a professional performer, respectively. Buy your tickets here, and we can’t wait to see you there!
INJI AFLATOUN (1924–1989) was a pioneering painter and feminist in mid-20th century Egypt. She was born to a traditional family she described as “semi-feudal and bourgeois,” before joining the League of University and Institutes’ Young Women and embracing new, more communal politics. After a two-year painting hiatus that reflected this political transformation between 1946 and 1948, Aflatoun resumed her artistic work, engaged in further political activism, and emphasized in her works a growing solidarity with Egyptian working class communities of the time.
Defying all expectations about what a woman should be, LEONOR FINI (1907–1996) was one of the most fiercely independent artists of her time. Known for her fashionable presence, lion-like hair, and intriguing personality, she was one of the few female artists that the male Surrealists treated as an equal. In a flip of the male gaze, her artwork is characterized by powerfully dominant women, while the men are frail and vulnerable. Openly bisexual and polyamorous, Leonor Fini remains one of the most unapologetically provocative artists in the Surrealist movement.
ANGELINA KATZ (1936–2019) loved a good laugh. She killed bees and wasps with her bare hands, walked barefoot in the snow, and could catch our parakeet Chirpy with a dishcloth whenever he got loose. She worked at Child’s World for decades and loved the kids even though they ruined her back. Her chicken parmigiana was legendary, and she believed Entenmann’s coffee cake could solve all solvable problems. She taught us the essential life rules: a crow is a visit from the dead, and never to follow an empty hearse. She loved to vacuum, especially when anyone’s favorite show was on TV. She once drove straight through the garage without braking.
HUSSEIN MOHSEN is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and a freelance writer who focuses on science and technology and the history and politics thereof as they pertain to the Arab World.
JR PEPPER is a photographer, lecturer, photo retoucher, researcher, cemetery tour-guide and self described ‘professional eccentric”. A New York native, she is known for her spirit photography and her peculiar love of guinea pigs.
CARLA KATZ is a storyteller and comic. She is a Moth StorySlam Champion and has been featured on PBS Stories from the Stage and The Moth Radio Hour. She has graced stages all over NY and NJ. More at www.carlakatz.com.