Editors’ Note: Soft
With this issue of cléo, we wanted to try a little tenderness, as the song goes. It might not seem like the time for a soft approach to, well, anything, but in order to commit to showing up for each other and the earth for the long haul–and we’ll need to–we’re thinking about all the ways the work of resistance can be done. In other words, hard times call for all kinds of responses, even soft ones.
For the first issue of volume five, our contributors approached SOFT from all sides. Editor Mallory Andrews takes it tactile and decodes the costumes of 9 to 5 to talk about women in the workplace. Angelica Jade Bastien questions the concept of film as an empathy machine to examine what’s lost in universalizing Moonlight. Sophie Mayer writes against the philosophy of the phallus with an ode to soft cocks and Veronica Fitzpatrick thinks about how hard it is to fuck a hard robot in Ex Machina. Katrya Bolger ponders the erotic and political possibilities of touch in Blissfully Yours and editor Lydia Ogwang looks at the use of gentle aesthetics to examine violence in the documentary The Prison in Twelve Landscapes. Justine Smith takes us through the titillating and spiritually loaded genre of nunsploitation films and Nel Dahl through the career of cinematographer and director Babette Mangolte. Jaime Chu writes on Jane Campion’s films of “fine excess,” and Debbie Frempong unpacks soft and sharp focus in Mother of George. Finally, Dennis Vetter profiles video artist Vika Kirchenbauer.
As always, there’s a fairly wide range of films and topics in this issue, but they’ve been encapsulated wonderfully by cover artist Winnie Truong, whose works, as she says, “challenge our ideas of beauty and discomfort.” An idea that’s inspiring, motivating and one that we hope you keep in mind in reading this issue and beyond.
We also wanted to express our deep love and respect for Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, as this will be her last issue as an editor. Manisha began writing for us in 2014 (see her piece “Killer Waves: Beach Girls and the Monster” in our PARTY issue) and then joined our editorial team in 2015 with the GRACE issue. Her input, interviews and energy have been integral to cléo over the last few years. We’ll always have a soft spot for her in our ever-grateful hearts. <3
– the cléo editors: Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Mallory Andrews, Lydia Ogwang, Kiva Reardon, Kathleen Kampeas-Rittenhouse
Soft Light and Focus in Mother of GeorgeDebbie Frempong