by Judy Ann Seidman
Drawn Lines contains the autobiography of artist and activist Judy Ann Seidman, a personal truth that might be categorised as an alternative history to the dominant narrative of the post-World War Two years. A bare-bones framework of Judy’s life defines the context: from a childhood of female, white and middle class albeit in a counter-culture left-wing enclave during McCarthy’s 1950’s America; to secondary school in Nkrumah’s Ghana; to Madison Wisconsin in the anti-Vietnam war period; to Southern Africa awash in liberation struggle; to surviving in Johannesburg’s post-apartheid ferment. Each of these carried their own cross currents of class, race, gender and social identity. This story describes one woman’s attempts to negotiate these rip-tides: to find own voice both for self and collective, using whatever tools come to hand – visual arts and culture more broadly, private reflection and group discussion, political mobilization and direct action. In 1982 in Southern Africa, Judy was part of the conference of cultural workers against apartheid that declared: culture is a weapon of struggle; this she argues forms a key approach going forward. But also, as another cultural worker pointed out, the revolution is not won by art alone, but by political and mass struggle. Judy’s diary entry from 1994 sums up how she sees her story: Like so many other women I weave stories around my life. I am the heroine – courageous, loving, ecstatic, hurt, and then courageous again. Sometimes life tries to live up to the stories. But then again it turn around and sticks its tongue out – you are never who you think you are, nah nah nah.” Feminists say “the personal is political”: this is one woman’s narrative, blow by blow, told through visual image, diaries (written at the time), memory and reflection, and of course, reconstruction with hind-sight.