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Modern Art Oxford host one-day festival celebrating ‘otherness’

On Saturday, 25th May, the Modern Art Oxford (MAO) gallery hosted the Young Women’s Music Project’s (YWMP) one-day festival, ‘No. 80’, that ran from 3pm until late. 

The exhibition’s title came from the race/ethnicity designation of the UK population census, as the label for a checkbox for those who did not identify with any of the other listings. With these origins, ‘No. 80’ was a celebration of the margins and otherness. 

The YWMP website notes that the location of Oxford for this festival is significant, as a “colonially-led city, to make a stand against the stigmatisation of those who have felt powerless in society.”

Headlining the festival was Wild Mix, a queer ensemble of five singers, drummers, and “a kickboxing drum section,” led by Jenny Moore. Other performers included Assia Ghendir, Leo Hermitt, Casual Wednesday, Street Soundsystem, and a range of other experimental, queer performers. One student told Cherwell that throughout the performances and the exhibition more broadly, “there was a real sense of awe, vulnerability, and community – we were all aware that we were sharing something special.”

Various other local organisations, including Cowley Climate Collective, Divine Schism, Hyperstition, Mom Was Right, OCM and QBear, were also involved in the event. Several workshops were available, based around music-making, ecology and environmentalism, or a fusion of these elements – including a ‘Slime Trail Music Box Composition’. 

The festival closely followed YWMP’s guiding principles: to create an “inclusive, supportive space for young women, trans and non-binary people to make music, learn new skills, and express themselves”.

This eclectic, unorthodox expression and exploration of queer and marginalised identities came near the end of MAO’s crowdfunding campaign to £25,000, which had been exceeded by 16% by the evening of Sunday 26th. The gallery is to close for the next four months for ground floor redevelopment.

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