11th Day of Unbound: Charlotte Cooper

11 Items total

Homosexual Death Drive

I’m disinclined to celebrate xmas for all the usual reasons why a pagan, atheist, anarchist, queer, neurodivergent vegetarian would be uninterested in it. The season, with all its family family family, forced jollity, stale sentiment and spend spend spend turns me right off. But I do love a solstice, and the winter one is special because it means that the dread darkness is going to lift at last and I will no longer feel like burning and robbing. I ignore xmas as much as I can and focus on the things I like instead: time without interruptions, narcotic sleep and of course reading and looking at things. Here’s a bunch of books and visual treats that will definitely get you through the season whether or not you’re a grinch like me. Dig in.

acts of memory, Monica Ross and Co-Recitors

Monica gave me one of my early forays into live art. This work documents a project about human rights and feminism. Sounds dry, it isn’t. Monica showed that thinking small is a fool’s game. But she made the monumental human-sized because she was brainy, imaginative and had integrity. Hello, that is what live art should be and do.


Awkwoods: Daniel Oliver’s Dyspraxic Adventures in Participatory PerformanceEd. Daniel Oliver

Daniel is a total hunk of spunk. He makes messy performances and is into thinking carefully about disability access. He tells good stories. He transforms those things you feel ashamed about: failure, being weird and wrong. He should write more books because this one feels nice in your hands and is easy on the eye.


Bad Reputation: Performances, Essays, InterviewsPenny Arcade

 Penny is from a time when queers were not assimilated, commodified or gentrified. Yes, that time did exist once and it wasn’t long ago. For obvious homosexual reasons I am really drawn to tough women and Penny is one of the greats. Get with it and read her shit, you will feel better about being alive in these hellish times.


Bite The Hand That Feeds! The Disabled Avant-Garde

The DAG were a rotten pair who spent their time upsetting normal people for shits and giggles. Piss-takers extraordinaire. I almost have no words for them, I mean, how the fuck did they get away with it all? Some mysterious crip power, must have been. Here’s a load of their greatest hits.


Fat Activist VernacularCharlotte Cooper

You didn’t think I’d showcase a whole load of things without plugging my own?! How else am I going to keep a roof over my head and dinner on the table? Look, I’ve stuck it slyly in the middle so as not to arouse suspicion. This is a super-duper bumper glossary of fat activist ideas and language. It’s funny and serious and will save your life once we get into the new year when everybody’s on a diet and you feel like arse.


Feelings are Facts: A LifeYvonne Rainer

 I wish I was Yvonne. Actually, I wish I was a fat Yvonne who could memorise dance steps, a skill that would improve my life no end. This is her autobiography, it’s got lots of great pictures and is remarkably readable for someone as avant garde ultimo as she. Yvonne is ever so cool and this book will make you look cool too.


Guillermo Gómez-Peña: Conversations Across BordersEd. Laura Levin

I didn’t know about Guillermo until I saw a strange and almost unwatchable video of him over the summer on the LADA website. He had this gadget that made a terrible sound and covered his big craggy face in white paint. His accoutrements are not of my world, and therefore compelling, but his words are. Some artists obfuscate and mystify, Guillermo goes straight to the point poetically, beautifully and with great power. I want to eat him up.


Scottee: I Made ItEd. Jen Harvie

 This is a great read, and very good-looking too. On the one hand it’s a coffee-table monograph of Scottee’s career, but it has a subtext that I read like this: if you are a working class fat queer with big ideas, some support, talent and massive ambition and drive, you might be able to make it in the arts but it isn’t easy and here is why and how and when. Useful information, no?


salt. Selina Thompson

This is the script for a project about slavery, travel, grief and home. I heard about salt. early on and was thrilled by the scope of it. I was also disquieted because the work entailed quite a lot of danger. Historically lots of live artists have played with risk, but I don’t see so much of it these days. And then comes Selina with salt., a visionary, courageous and powerful show.


The Live Art Almanac Vol. 5Eds. Bojana Janković, Megan Vaughan and Lois Keidan

Fun fact: the Live Art Almanacs are my favourite books in the Unbound cannon. They are like a bumper annual of the kind that some of you might have found in your pillowcase on xmas morning when you were nippers, only these are for grown-ups. They’re beautifully edited and loaded with tid-bits, gossip, sandal, intrigue and righteous rants by extremely interesting people. I’ve included one here but you should read the whole series.


Uncle DavidDavid Hoyle

A Christmas family favourite, perfect for whiling away an hour or two with the in-laws, a bottle of Bailey’s and a plate of mince pies. Features romantic euthanasia, a creepy intergenerational gay romance and a horrible dance scene in a caravan. Five stars!


-- Charlotte Cooper

Our eleventh guest editor is Dr Charlotte Cooper, a psychotherapist and cultural worker living and working in East London, UK. She has been making zines for the past 30 years. Her research and writing on fat defies categorisation. She published Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement with HammerOn Press in 2016. She performs as Homosexual Death Drive.

Image by Christa Holka.