Musician, Songwriter, Artivist
From May 17 to May 24, 2019
Monique Mizrahi is a musician, songwriter and LGBTQ+ artivist performing as Honeybird. Originally from Los Angeles, she has called Italy home for nearly 20 years. As an artivist she has presented Bi at the Brooklyn Museum, performed at the US White House under the Obama Administration, and in 2015 released Out Comes Woman, an album chronicling her coming out experience as bisexual.
As a musician/songwriter she has toured internationally, including performances at European festivals such as Primavera Sound and Eurosonic, performing on guitar, charango and vocals. In 2017 and 2018, she was invited as visiting artist to Berklee College Music, Valencia, Spain, presenting Innovation and Bravery in Lyric Writing, Diversity and Inclusion Beyond Borders and Genders, and Activism Through Music. Her mission is to listen to intersectional LGBTQ+ community voices and transform the daily struggle into song.
I’m writing an album exploring gender nonconforming identities through the eye of Cyclops cat. They are a non-binary cat with one eye and prefer the pronouns “they/them/their”. Therefore, all of the song lyrics are per their preference.
My project at Faber will thus be researching, composing the music and writing the lyrics to this album, entitled Cyclops cat, using the classical guitar, 10-string charango and my voice.
It’s an exploration of the usage of “they/them/their” pronouns in a poetic and implementable way, a healthy exercise in the infinite possibilities of language and song.
Artivism and the Art of the Unexpected
Monique Mizrahi | INS Castell d’Estela (Amer) | May 22, 2019
It was an empowering day at INS Castell d’Estela, a high school in Amer, about 45 minutes from Olot. My fellow Faber resident, Kenyan poet and lecturer Christopher Okemwa and I went together. The students were so engaged our stay lasted unexpectedly long! The experience was a multi-cultural adventure, a splash into the power of creative works to open dialogues, four hours of sharing songs and storytelling with two classes of students of different ages. Here I’ll share my part of the talk.
My talk began with a discussion about the role of music in society, then led to the topic of artivism – how music can act as a medium to express one’s opinion/dissent, to provide visibility for marginalized communities, and to raise awareness around important issues. I projected my song lyrics and performed them on charango, including songs on climate change, genocide, and LGBTQ+ realities. During “TMBLGBT” both students and teachers sang along and snapped their fingers to the beat.
They were quite curious about the 10-string charango I play (a traditional Andean instrument) as well as issues regarding LGBTQ+ community. The latter led to a post-talk impromptu sharing circle with a handful of students about being out and proud, gender identities, “they/them” pronouns and how to be happily nonheteronormative in a small town. They mentioned sometimes experiencing homophobia, islamophobia and xenophobia and I suggested they hold a sharing circle regularly, like the one we did today.
The students seemed to genuinely appreciate the approach to activism via music and art. I would love to imagine that it inspired some students to go out and create artivism of their own.