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DRAWING BLOOD

— JASMEEN DUGAL

Beauty and Brilliance! Model, Burlesque Dancer. Activist. Artist. Reporter. NYC native Molly Crabapple gave 'Occupy Wall Street' artistic expression. She travelled the world, sketchpad in hand, drawing what she observed. And channeled it into witness journalism in 'the most censored place in the world' Guantánamo to report on prisoners; Syria's natives forced out of home by the war; Abu Dhabi's labor camps; a racist prison. She's Contributing Editor at VICE and her art is showcased as permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Barjeel Foundation and The New York Historical Society. Her books include 'Discordia' on the Greek economic crisis and art books 'Devil in the Details' and 'Week in Hell'. And this is just the tip of the apple-berg!! Her illustrated personal memoir 'Drawing Blood' was recently unveiled at ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. I attended her session and was fortune to snag a copy of the artistic book that opened a whole new world… it's the memoir of an artist who represents her generation as much as depicts it.

 

Artist and journalist Molly Crabapple, instead of pursuing a degree at 17, bought a ticket to Paris and lived in the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore with "all the dark romance of Miss Havisham's wedding dress… as perfect as a stage set, dirt and all." Her stay there is only the beginning of her adventures. From posing nude for website 'Suicide Girls' which heralded itself as a 'punk rock pinup community' and for art students at $10 an hour with "all the fascination of sitting on a cross-country bus ride with no book" to opening a burlesque class Dr. Sketchy's and making her way into notorious club 'The Box' from a dive bar where "the money came with a cruelty that was absent from the cheerful stages I'd once danced on. Simon would demand that dancers f*** themselves onstage…"

 

Through it all, she sketched posters for Occupy Wall Street in NYC though she maintained even after spending a night in prison that "I am an artist, not a political organiser. During Occupy, I drew pictures, marched, and helped however I could. Impassioned but peripheral, I was more loyal to my sketchbook than any movement" and reported on Hurricane Sandy where "The next day, lights snapped back on, On Wall Street. Far Rockaway and Staten Island remained dark. In the wake of the storm, Occupy Wall Street morphed into a disaster relief organisation—one that was quicker and more helpful than the Red Cross…" From Guantánamo — "During the commissions,  Guantánamo forbade members of the press to see the prisoners themselves. So I sat in the courtroom, drawing KSM because he was there… Khalid Sheikh Mohammed smirked at me through the glass…The other men, 152 in all, remained entombed… I drew signs flaunting the base's motto 'Honour Bound To Defend Freedom'… The prison may have had guns, razor wire… but I had pictures." In the final pages of the book, she zips through International journalism, reporting from Syria and Dubai—becoming "nothing but an eye, soaking up the world." What will she do next? Whatever they are, they will surely be urgent, celebratory and livid. "I continue to draw, out of a gluttonous desire for life in all its beauty and horror… Art gave me a way to see, to record, to fight and interrogate, to preserve love and demand reckoning—to find joy where once I could see only ash. I'd take on the world, armed with only a sketchbook. I'd make it mine."
 

DRAWING BLOOD, MOLLY CRABAPPLE
 
DRAWING BLOOD, MOLLY CRABAPPLE
 
DRAWING BLOOD, MOLLY CRABAPPLE
 
06-MAY-2016
 
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