It was arguably a strange year for lipstick. Galas and vernissages have fallen from the calendar. The rendezvous nights remained; energy breakfasts have migrated to Zoom. The red carpet remained rolled up. Of course, a crisp red lip has found its place in the virtual world – the iconic gesture of a TV personality, as we all become thinking heads on the screen. But the most compelling use of lipstick turned out to be a low-tech use: on a wrap.
The act of writing letters has seen a resurgence in recent months, as people rallied around the postal service and created quaint penpal clubs. With 2021 looming, it seemed like there would be no better parting gesture – no better kiss, so to speak – than pairing a forgotten lipstick with a newly revived mail. We asked six cultural voices – astrologer, data journalist, director and more – to mark the envelopes with the latest nuances and send back their thoughts on this New Year. What happened in hand made for a good mail day indeed.
Mona Chalabi, journalist and data illustrator
Paper is such a fragile medium that every time you touch it, you leave a mark. This is what 2020 has shown more than anything else: how fragile our health is, our political systems, our planet. I guess I’m trying to let go of this a bit.
Marilyn Minter, artist and activist
You were a real bastard. I blocked you on social media, deleted your number, and tore up your photo. Hope to never see you again, baby. It’s not me, it’s you.
Kiss my ass,
Miranda July, director, Kajillionaire
I don’t want to condemn 2020 for being so difficult. It seems wiser to recognize that we have been humiliated, awakened, brought to our knees and on the streets. And we’re all so much older now – what a bunch of whiners we were in March, not understanding the extent of the problem. I will carefully distribute my hope over 2021, to last until the vaccines arrive.
Chani Nicolas, astrologer
The year 2021 is here to remind us that collective care is personal care and that collective power is where we need to focus. Brutal individualism is not only outdated, it is harmful, dangerous and that is precisely what got us into this mess.
Joy Harjo, USA poet laureate
Do not look back
Kiss the sky
Alex Cameron, musician
Today I could be 70 years old. I go down the stairs of my house one at a time. Limping, with each foot resting together on each step. Icy and steep from over-sleeping. My partner is already mad at me before we said hello. And I start the climb, like I do on days like this. Forge a whole new reputation in the eyes of the only person who matters to me. I try, sometimes I fail, to regain their respect. With small actions, like cleaning the kitchen or maintaining an erection. And when it’s time to sleep, they tell me they love me. And they turn around because they don’t like privacy. And I fall asleep thinking that tonight I might be 17.
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