Posts Tagged ‘Art’

So Banal It’s Profound

October 14, 2011 8 comments

I’ve read the Facts and Arguments page in the Globe and Mail steadfastly for years. Truthfully, some days it’s the only page I read; I thumb past the political hoopla more quickly than I should and head straight to the back of the Life section. (The Saturday Arts section is also divine and renders me weak in the knees, but on weekdays I have to satisfy myself with the essay.)

On the Facts page they showcase an essay submitted by random Canadians, and run a clever illustration alongside. Often they are lighthearted musings, occasionally poignant, and sometimes delightfully funny. There’s enough space for the writer to delve into the heart of the matter, and dissect it accordingly.

In retrospect, I should have given more thought about my topic, which unfortunately is my love/hate relationship with the mall, but I’m seeking solace in the fact that Adam Gopnik‘s topic for the upcoming Massey Lectures is simply winter. And he’s speaking for a whole week on that one.

When someone asked Gopnik “why winter?”,  he replied he was waiting for a bus on a cold day in NYC when he received the offer to give the lectures, and he decided then and there to talk about winter. Right then and there! Shouldn’t he have perhaps consulted Margaret Atwood or Douglas Coupland? Or at the very least Googled “top ten interesting topics for scholarly discussion”? Past topics of Massey Lectures have included The Unconscious Civilization and Globalism and the Nation State. Winter is so simple it’s profound, perhaps.

(In any case, it works for me: winter holds more appeal for my simple mind, I refer you to my  aversion to politics.)

Not to draw similarities between myself and Gopnik, because surely there are none besides sharing a few letters in our names and a country of birth, but I stumbled across my topic in a similar fashion. My daughter had asked me for the umpteenth time that week to take her to the mall, when I felt the bile rising in the back of my throat at the thought entering its revolving doors. Instead of taking this frustration out on her I very maturely picked up my laptop and wrote about them. Then for some god-forsaken reason I emailed it to the Globe, and the rest, as they say, is in today’s broadsheet.

Click here to link to the article, and keep in mind I was using the mall as a metaphor for suburbia itself, of course.

We Interrupt This Program for a Poetic Interlude

February 24, 2011 1 comment

As promised, today I am reproducing three of many beautiful poems I discovered on bentlily, a blog by Samantha Reynolds, dedicated to posting a poem a day. She has embarked on this project in an effort to remain more present in her life and find the beauty that lurks in mysterious places.

Always one for shortcuts, I’m hoping to achieve this same result by reading her poetry. Enjoy a moment of savouring language.

The short story

I know people who hate short
stories. I don’t
blame them.
They are arrogant
and gorgeous. They are literary
one night
All intimacy and no
Just as you are falling
in love
they disappear. You knew
all along
there was no future
but you can’t help it,
the wondering.

Those tiny things

It’s nice to be appreciated
for hard work and
our best qualities
like grace

But those are only
the bullet points
of my being.

What makes me crumble
with love
is when you adore
the poetry
that is smudged around
the edges of me:

those tiny things
about me
that I didn’t know

We are not so innocent

In German
the word for nipple
is breast

It’s no wonder
they grow so many

But we are not so

Consider the effect
of telling a child
they have

I always imagined
my little body
young and running and free
and suddenly
a wall.
Now, I watch myself

What if we gathered our young
and whispered instead
with sparkle in our voices:

How exciting,
you are about
to meet
your adult

Samantha Reynolds is Founder and President of Echo Memoirs, a company which captures memories of individuals and companies and turns them into storybooks. These poems are reprinted with her permission.

‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ Review

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment
Close up shot of graffitti by Banksy near Park...

Image via Wikipedia - an example of Banksy's work in Bristol

Warning: spoiler alert

What is your definition of art?  Just when I think I have my definition locked and loaded, something changes and it reinvents itself, widening and becoming more inclusive, like my definition of marriage, and God.  We are organic, after all. defines art as “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” I would interject “thought provoking” somewhere in there to complete my definition.  This film certainly succeeds as an art form; and exposes how easy it is to scam even the brightest of art dealers and unsuspecting public.  Call it art, and they will come.

Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film explores this topic by using either a real life example of the art world’s fickle nature, or else a completely fabricated story, we’re not sure.  That’s Banksy for you; always provocative.  The film’s director is Banksy himself, the infamous and elusive British street artist.  My friend who knows more about art than I educated me about Banksy’s prolific and irreverent graffiti on a trip to London.  We happened across a mobile stall selling pictures of Banksy’s clever, less traditional art which has been showing up in Tube stations and on the streets of London since the early 1980’s.

I bought the prints, had them framed, and they now hang proudly on my staircase wall.  I love them –  they are Banksy, I make sure to whisper to admirers. (Incidentally, I paid much less for these prints than I did for my personal favorite in our modest art collection, my daughter’s grade five class art piece that we won under shady circumstances at last year’s school art auction.  It was dog eat dog, I’ll leave it at that.)

Banksy’s film chronicles the life of Thierry Giuetta, a Frenchman who takes up videography, and accidentally becomes notorious in street art circles as the man who is producing a documentary on street art, when in fact Thierry has never viewed one of his own tapes.  He embeds and endears himself with street artists like Space Invader (his cousin), and Shepard Fairey, who lead him by chance to the secretive Banksy.  When faced with the inability to create a coherent documentary on street art, Thierry reinvents himself as LA street artist Mr. Brainwash, and pulls a show of his art together haphazardly.  The art community eats it up, and spend millions of dollars buying samples of his work at his unlikely art show.

In an effort to showcase his beloved street art for the innovative art that it is and save Thierry’s years of work, the muli-talented Banksy takes over the boxes of footage with the promise of making a movie, and not surprisingly knocks it out of the park.

In the end, whether any of it is true remains unclear, which Banksy pulls off beautifully: instead of being annoyed, we are charmed.