Cultural Bulletin
Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that provides an international view of creative work. We look to film, music, design and art as signifiers of our cultural moment.

IN REVIEW: Celine Gillain - Bad Woman 

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Label: Antinote

Maybe we know the truth deep down, and maybe that is the role of art — to articulate what we know but can’t express. As if a mirror, Celine Gillain’s record Bad Woman puts sounds to feelings of contemporary life. Last track ‘I’m Grateful’ seems to conclude that even if the mirror that reflects reality back exists virtually or is in essence an illusion it can still tell you something useful.

We live in a uniquely cynical moment in history that is both relentless and soft, so it is understandable that people should come from a naturally sceptical perspective: what do they want? Is that what they really think? What’s in it for them? Do people really live like this? The CGI glass of water is always half empty, to see it another way is a delusion. To be wary of drinking the water is appropriate, it is probably contaminated. So, what is sacrificed as a result of our contemporary perspective?

‘In the arena we meet each other, in the arena we eat each other.’  

Often perceived as a hyper competitive life, we are now keeping up with a billion Jones’ on social media and yet reluctantly talk to our next-door neighbours. Through the carefully curated fictional versions of our lives, we quickly see the fraud in others as perhaps a projection of our own disingenuous behaviour. We are bad.

‘Your friendship is like poison, paved with good intentions – I saw the fraud in you.’ 

What can be felt as an optimism across Bad Woman is the willingness look at our situation as someone who is complicit in it. There is no doubt that as reality changes with the increasing complexity of technology so will our perception of the world. With the limitations of the human mind laid before us by superior algorithms (that do our jobs), the idea of being factually certain will be laughable. 

Bad Woman is such a storied and yet abstract record that feels like a journey, the end point of which is as much a moment of happiness as it is a realisation or integration. The idea of the individual is absorbed into the collective multitude, as if realising you are less could be the only gateway to seeing that you are more. It is a contemporary kind of enlightenment that Gillain refers to, one we are still figuring out – together. AG

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