Post-capitalist Futures: a covid reading and drawing group

Our final Reading and Drawing sessions are on Tues 28th July, 11th +  25th Aug all at 8pm BST more info here

For Tuesday 28th we will be looking at the work of Joy Buolamwini and the movement for algorithmic justice.

Joy Buolamwini, the poet of code combines art and research to
illuminate the social implications and harms of AI. She founded the
Algorithmic Justice League to create a world with more ethical and
inclusive technology and fight against the Coded Gaze, uncovering
large racial and gender bias in AI services from companies like
Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.
AI systems are used to decide who gets hired, the quality of medical
treatment we receive, and whether we become a suspect in a police
investigation. While these tools show great promise, they can also
harm vulnerable and marginalized people, and threaten civil rights.
Unchecked, unregulated and, at times, unwanted, AI systems can amplify
racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination.

We will be watching these two short videos to draw from and discuss:

AI, Ain’t I A Woman

To join the group contact reading-drawing@swapmarket.infodrawing-a-new-future-008a

Shahmaran and “the cure” guest post by by Deniz Uster


For the July window display of the Swap Market, I  interpreted through drawing an influential female Mesopotamian folk creature, Shahmaran, who is half woman and half snake, and believed to bear the power to cure through her knowledge of herbal medicine and wisdom. I have chosen this figure particularly for its optimistic significations as ‘the cure’, at such uncertain times, in which we were hit not only by Covid19’s physiological consequences , but also the loss of well-being through extensive gender and racial discrimination as a result of the ‘politics’ of this pandemic. I wish Shahmaran ‘the medicine woman’ may become the symbol for cure and wellbeing to the communities in Govanhill, during her time on Swap Market’s window.

Although Shahmaran’s healing powers are not in question in any variations of the story, the widely accepted narrative itself has problematic, underlying male dominant connotations.  Different variations of her story feature in Farsi, Turkish, Iraqi, and Kurdish folklore, yet all these narratives eventually yield to the ratification of the male character’s upper-hand status, which he gains through betraying Shahmaran.

However imposing she sounds – as the medicine goddess who has the power to cure, to kill and to transcend; Shahmaran, in the narrative’s classical form, is depicted as the “other” which positions man against woman, human against beast, culture against the forces of nature, and the “above ground” forces of male dominance against the female forces of the subterranean.

According to the traditional narrative, the queen of Marans, Shahmaran, comes across Camasb, a young man who was looking for the greatest quality of honey, deep down in a cave. Camasb falls in love and decides to stay there with Shahmaran, and learns the secrets of herbal medicine from her, while gaining her trust. Camasb then misses living above ground and wants to leave; he promises Shahmaran that he will not share the secret of her living there.

After years, the Sultan becomes ill and the vizier discovers that the treatment of his illness requires the flesh of Shahmaran. Camasb betrays Shahmaran, and informs the palace about where she lives. The forgiving Shahmaran wants to help Camasb, and ‘victimises’ herself by telling him to boil her body, give her extract to the vizier, and feed her flesh to the Sultan. In other variations of the story Shahmaran is dissected into pieces, and each dissected part has different powers: curing, killing and wisdom. The two-part split representation of my Shahmaran takes its inspiration from this version of the narrative.   Eventually, Shahmaran gets killed; the Sultan eats her flesh and lives, the vizier drinks the extract and dies. Finally, Camasb ‘ingests’ the water of Shahmaran and unfairly becomes the legendary medicine man “Lokman Hekim”, by seizing Shahmaran’s wisdom, and her curing magic. In a way, he embodies Shahmaran’s powers within his male human body.

On the other hand, despite the unjustifiable victory of the male figure in the story, Shahmaran, whose flesh has been ingested by men to seize her wisdom, today has become omnipresent through the countless reproductions of her image. For centuries, Shahmaran pictures have decorated walls of houses in the Anatolian region of Turkey; crafted through a traditional folk glass painting technique called ‘camalti’. These pictures of Shahmaran are believed to bring wealth and health to the household, which means she still holds the power of knowledge through the reproduction of her image; through expansion. Therefore, the male dominant narrative of this folk story has been deconstructed by another folk ritual which attributes a feminist reading to the story. In contemporary Turkey, women wear this image on their t-shirts, carry on their handbags, and on their necks as necklaces. In this way Shahmaran is embodied in many Anatolian women. As an artist originating from Turkey, I keep my very own Shahmaran representation on our wall as a good luck charm for our household.

For my window display, I referred to the traditional ‘camalti’ painting technique and drew Shahmaran split between both windows, in order to broaden her imagery to reach a wider audience. Her image is accompanied by a short but empowering version of the story in poetry form that I have written, and this is integrated into the image, ascribed to the flow of Shahmaran’s lines. This text appears in four languages spoken in Mesopotamia; Turkish, Kurdish, Farsi and Arabic as well as the English version ascribed on the opposite window.

The poem is as follows:

Shahmaran was her name, she was the queen of snakes.

She was the cure, the death, and the wisdom.

She was many, and her flesh was power.
Man betrayed her, but she became omnipresent.

Şahmaran’dı adı, yılanların şahıydı.

اوهمدرمانبودوهممرگوهم ِخَرد

كانتكثيرةًوكانلحُمها ُسلطًة

êr pê re xayîn derket lê ew li ser xwe ma û li her derê

Deniz Uster

See more of Deniz’s work at


A peek at the new Swap Market window

Deniz Uster at work on the new Swap Market window for this month depicting the Mesopotamian folk creature Shahmaran; half woman-half snake, with the power to cure, kill and transcend. Shahmaran’s story features in Farsi, Turkish, Iraqi, and Kurdish folklore

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Call for Artists for Swap Market windows

We are looking to commission four artists or collectives to decorate the Swap Market windows over the months of July, August, September and October this year.


The Swap Market exchange hub will remain closed due to covid and social distancing in these coming months but we will be opening the shutters to use the shopfront to communicate with local residents and passers by.

Previous Swap Market window displays have illustrated Feminist Economics, highlighted Youth Climate Action, depicted Capitalism As A Virus, celebrated Eid, Chinese New Year, Labour Day and the Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. See images below for examples of window drawings by artists Rae-Yen Song, Ailie Rutherford and young activists.

For more information on how to apply visit creative scotland opportunities or contact

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photographed by Bob Moyler and Najma Abukar

Solidarity with National Economic Association Caucus of Black Economists

The People’s Bank of Govanhill and Feminist Exchange Network stands in solidarity with all those who are challenging racism and violence against the black community. We endorse the statement from The National Economic Association (NEA) the Caucus of Black Economists founded to formalize the struggle to research, analyse, understand, and address the systematic and institutionalized practices of anti-Black racism generating the economic and social inequalities oppressing the Black community. Since its founding, NEA scholars have been leaders in researching and exposing the structural conditions by which U.S. racial inequality and oppression creates and perpetuates a desperate and unsafe reality for Black and Brown communities, in the U.S. and around the world.

We also support this statement from the STUC Black Workers Committee, including links to the Justice for Sheku Bayoh campaign, which is particularly relevant to us here in Scotland.

Swap Market meets Bank Job!

On Monday 15th June Dan Edelstyn from Optimistic Foundation will be talking to Ailie Rutherford (founder of Swap Market) about about Bank Job; a project in Walthamstow, London and showing an excerpt from their upcoming film. The film launching this year follows a community coming together to make their own currency, opening a bank in order to examine how money and debt is created in our economy and to ask important questions about how the system of money creation might be altered in their favour.
The film excerpt will be followed by an open discussion about how and why we might want alter the monetary system to work better for people and the planet.

More info and booking here



Imagining Post-Capitalist Futures

This moment of global crisis and the Covid pandemic is likely to transform capitalism as we know it. While this is a difficult time for all of us, can times of crisis also open up space for new possibilities to emerge? It is in these times that large collective shifts in consciousness are possible and major shifts in political and economic structures can happen. We are already seeing lower pollution levels, reduced consumption and new mutual care networks. What else do we imagine happening that didn’t seem possible before?

Join artists Raman Mundair and Ailie Rutherford for online collective drawing Monday 13th April


To take part, you will need your own collective-visioning headset. Follow our simple guide on how to make one from things you have at home:

make your own headset – instructions

Raman Mundair will then be leading us in our drawing with a meditation on possible new futures. All ages welcome!

Join in at

This is no time to lose our nerve. The future will be determined by whoever is willing to fight harder for the ideas they have lying around – Naomi Klein makes the case for transformative change amid the global pandemic in “Coronavirus Capitalism and how to Beat It”