The other day I was on Twitter and read that M.I.A.’s book was released via Rizzoli. Complex magazine promoted the release with a feature titled “M.I.A.’s New Book Documents Her Greatest Work Of Art: Herself”. I couldn’t agree more with their title. The book begins with a forward by Steve Loveridge, documenting his first encounters with M.I.A. (full name Mathangi Maya Arulpragasam) in the film department, at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Loveridge lays out Mays’s early influences that sparked a sharp, distinctly creative style. Her chaotic, politically charged early years in Sri Lanka, and her love of rap and hip-hop meld to form a fiery perspective.

 

M.I.A. is my favorite artist next to Daft Punk. I remember a few years ago when I was living in suburban, Redmond, Washington. A friend showed me a video from M.I.A.. It was “Bird Flu”, and I was very confused. The video sounded and looked too alien to me, so I disregarded it. Shortly after I heard “$20”, from her second album Kala on a big sound system, and everything clicked. I was ready to take in her music. From then on I became absorbed in her work, constantly listening to Arular and Kala, buying up any magazine with her on the cover and searching for other typed/video interviews online. My quiet suburban upbringing was shaken by her third world mentality, in the first world art community.

The forward in the book documents M.I.A.’s debut art show, at a boutique fashion store called Euphoria. Maya had a part-time job there, and the shop assistant (Carri Mundane), would later become one of her creative collaborators for the Arular and Kala album campaigns. As someone whose searched out every possible article on M.I.A., I was hyped to learn some new background, tying her visual art background to her approach as a music artist. At this first art show, she showcased TV screen photographs of Tamil culture and Tamil Tiger propaganda, a video installation of animated stencils and stencil paintings on canvas and wood offcuts. This substantial work ethic was then translated onto the graphic designs for her first 3 records, label N.E.E.T. and Vickleekx mixtape. Brilliantly laid out pages showed all the artwork created for each of M.I.A.’s projects, with footnotes explaining their purpose.

I believe M.I.A.’s mindset is needed in today’s world, more than ever. With the first world, capitalistic framework crumbling, her fresh take on life and politics is something to take notice of. She seems ahead of the game in so many areas; envisioning a world where people win over money, truth wins over lies and the world town is supreme.

 

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– Jimi Jaxon 

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