Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

look, matter

The last time I went to an art gallery was Tuesday evening. The gallery in question is known as First Site and it has shows every two weeks featuring work from RMIT students. They have openings every Tuesday night with free wine and nibbles, which is a lovely way to end a hard Tuesday at university, as you can imagine. Anyway this fortnight in the gallery there are three different shows. One is 'Wondernamel', which is enamel jewellery. Another is a the deterioration of ceramic sculptures and the third consists of postcard-sized canvases that just looked really nice to me and I didn't really ingest their meaning.

For a student gallery I have to say First Site usually has good work. I like going there because my sister and all her friends from painting go to the openings and it's the only time I get to see them. First Site is a bit of a weird gallery space, being in a basement, but it's usually used to great effect. A lot of the shows reflect the nature of the space, oh there have been some good ones there! You can do a lot with lighting and there are different nooks going round. People always walk in craning their neck around in peculiar awe. The curator is also a really cool dude.

I chose this topic initially after I went to NGV with my dear pal Jordan. I was walking through the giant rooms looking at 100 year old portraits, big old scenes in gaudy gold frames pretending that I was a lady in a difficult dress with a parasol viewing them for the first time. The rooms are so big in that place! Then Jordan took me to the contemporary part and told me all about gestural work. I liked the colours. We then went to the park.

Anyway it just struck me that people can get weirded out by galleries because they have a bit of stigma about them - I know some of my friends at RMIT get a bit annoyed by the 'art scene'. And some worry about 'not knowing about art'. But it's not necessary to know about art! Any opinion is fine, including no opinion. At NGV I was trying to make up stories about the people in portraits and the artists but there were too many things there and we were going around too fast. That's a really enjoyable part of going to galleries for me. Actually that was the first time I've been inside NGV for about ten years or something so it was kinda nice. Even though really it's just a collection, just showing off all the expensive acquisitions that the Gallery has.. it's still nice to be in a giant building and be surrounded by so much interesting stuff.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Art Fart

The last time I went to an art gallery, it was at Artspace (where we took you and there was that scary plastic bag thing). The show was basically a bunch of beautiful instruments inside of this massive dome. From what I remember of it, we were afraid to go and get free wine and I couldn't find the loo. Me and Sam stood around the dome for a bit and admired the instruments. Then we left. Art galleries make me feel odd, and actually I don't like art galleries that much at all now that I think of it. I prefer bookstores because books are like art to me. But I am going to this exhibition of lomo photography at Sam's uni which should be good. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

art star

Next blog topic is a bit more involved. I require you to write about the last time you went to a gallery or if you can't remember that, go to a gallery and see something. Then write about your experience. Just a response to your time in a gallery or at an art show, not necessarily about the art itself..

small answers to large questions

What is the meaning of life?
there isn't one

Is there life after death?

How would you describe your personal philosophy?
Most days I wake up, I do things, I go to sleep.

What amazes you about the world?

What do you see when you look up in the night sky?

What are we here for?
no real reason

What are you here for?
I was told there'd be free sex.

What does beauty mean?
it's subjective

What does truth mean?

What does happiness mean?
happiness is when you aren't thinking

What's the most important stuff in your life?
the other beings I know

If you were gone tomorrow, what would you have left undone?
my fly.

What are you most passionate about?

What motto sums up your approach to life?
"I love Nigella Lawson's writing and I love her recipes" - Delia Smith

My Big Answers

What is the meaning of life? There is no inherent meaning of life, and it's no great mystery that we have yet to discover. I just think that we each choose a meaning that suits us best. As to what I think, four words: meaningless but not valueless.

Is there life after death? No, and it makes me feel silly about being afraid of ghosts in scary movies.

How would you describe your personal philosophy? Still in the market for one.

What amazes you about the world? Humans, animals, science, nature.

What do you see when you look up in the night sky? The teacup constellation, usually. I don't know what it's called.

What are we here for? Evolution.

What are you here for? A good book and really good food.

What does beauty mean? Beauty can be a song, an object, a place, a concept, a drawing, a feeling; anything.

What does truth mean? Subjectivity.

What does happiness mean? To me, it is playing in my parent's backyard with my dog, feeling accepted and secure, having a full tummy, tea and toast, browsing in bookstores, and feeling accomplished.

What's the most important stuff in your life? Comfort, animals, books, Sam, family.

If you were gone tomorrow, what would you have left undone? A life.

What are you most passionate about? Animals, human rights, literature and potato chips.

What motto sums up your approach to life? Mottos are lame.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Big Questions

I was reading through the latest Frankie magazine, and there was a bit where 5 "creatives" answered the big questions of life. I thought that it would be an okay idea to put these same questions to both Susie and myself.

What is the meaning of life?

Is there life after death?

How would you describe your personal philosophy?

What amazes you about the world?

What do you see when you look up in the night sky?

What are we here for?

What are you here for?

What does beauty mean?

What does truth mean?

What does happiness mean?

What's the most important stuff in your life?

If you were gone tomorrow, what would you have left undone?

What are you most passionate about?

What motto sums up your approach to life?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

February by Boris Pasternak

February. Get ink, shed tears.
Write of it, sob your heart out, sing,
While torrential slush that roars
Burns in the blackness of the spring.

Go hire a buggy. For six grivnas,
Race through the noice of bells and wheels
To where the ink and all you grieving
Are muffled when the rainshower falls.

To where, like pears burnt black as charcoal,
A myriad rooks, plucked from the trees,
Fall down into the puddles, hurl
Dry sadness deep into the eyes.

Below, the wet black earth shows through,
With sudden cries the wind is pitted,
The more haphazard, the more true
The poetry that sobs its heart out.

This has been a favourite of mine for a few years now. Regina Spektor sings some of the lyrics in Russian in her song Apres Moi. Pasternak also wrote Dr Zhivago, for those of you playing at home. Perhaps when I am alone I will record myself reading it. Not right now though because I am watching A Bit of Fry & Laurie.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Izumi Shikibu

If I could read a poem, I would read Watching The Moon by Izumi Shikibu


Watching the moon

at midnight,

solitary, mid-sky,

I knew myself completely,

no part left out.

I would read it in a whisper.

As it happens, I hate my voice because I sound like a man and my accent is horrible.

Izumi Shikibu was a Japanese poet who is estimated to have lived around 1000 CE. She was a politician and a courtier.

Here another of her poems:

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

Monday, May 10, 2010

ways of reading

The other night I went to a poetry reading. My friend Laura organises some at a cafe in my suburb, it's so close I have no excuse not to go. Rhys Rodgers, a pink-haired poet-boy who I met at This is Not Art festival last year, was the feature poet. He's utterly lovely and generous and an amazing performer. So theatrical. They usually have an open mic night, and I had planned to take a poem of mine to read out, but I attempted to read it aloud earlier in the day and I wasn't feeling confident. There are a few different ways you can read poetry, I think. The wafty, timid, middle-aged woman way. Sometimes at these readings there are women who write about people they see at the pool during their morning swims; they usually do that voice. There are the writer poets, who don't really think about how their poems sound when they read them out, not really anyway. I am mostly one of these, I have to say. You might read them out to yourself, but that's just reading not performing. Lots of poets just read poems like they are reading a book. You have to make poetry with your voice, not just your words and your voice, well, it's an instrument so you have to sing.

A few beers later, after the reading, Zoe came back to the flat with Kym and I and we pretended to be poets. We pretended to be different styles of poets, using recipe books, textbooks and packets of bird seed for the poems. It was really fun. And hilarious. I read out the ingredients from some recipe book in the style that Rhys would do and it turns out that I'm actually decent at it. I suppose the beers probably helped slightly, but it was really amazing, I just acted like I was a really great poet, using my hands and giving the words crazy emphasis and playing around with the pace and volume of my voice. Zoe and Kym suggested I read my own poem like this. I DID AND IT WAS GREAT. 

Now, at the moment for university I am writing about the time I visited the Keats-Shelly museum in Rome.I It's been a poetic weekend, I suppose. Now young Stacey, you might not remember this, but it definitely happened when I visited you last year. We walked past that pub on the corner of K Rd and your street, whatever it is, and there was going to be a reading and for some reason we mused about the poets we admired and whose poetry we would read out. At Sospeso, the mc lady commended a person who read out a Tom Waits song for her open mic, saying that often people forget you can just read other people's. The Tom Waits person did a really nice version of it, but frankly I think she fell into the trap of half-singing it anyway, you could tell.

So my question, Stacey, is this: if you were to read at an open mic and were to read out another poet's work, whose poetry would you read and why? The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to record yourself reading this poem! I'll post mine in the near future. I encourage any other literary (and non-literary!) folk to play along!

Friday, May 7, 2010

American Idol

So I've been thinking about idols a lot, and I'll write a list in my head, erase it, and then start all over again. Because the more I think about it, the less I even know what an idol is. But here goes:

Stephen Fry - Because every time I watch any of the shows he has been in I immediately enter a state of swoon. He does so much good, and is so much to so many people.

Richard Dawkins - He is the face of atheism and he really is making such a difference. When he toured New Zealand he was almost like some kind of rock star. I admire his intellect and fervour.

John Darnielle - We have been discussing him here recently but he needs a mention. He is not only my idol because of the effect his music has on me but because of what he has made of himself and his life. It can't be easy to be physically abused as a child, and not many people can get out of that a healthy, creative human being. But he managed to take all of that hurt and make it in to something beautiful.

As for my real life, I admire my sister not because she is changing the world, but because she is kind and patient, and has always been there for me.

As for my imaginary idol, I really like Oskar from Extremely Loud and Close. I just thought he was so brave, to drag around his heavy boots day after day. I wish I could be so brave.

I also admire Celine from Before Sunset because she is smart, thoughtful, and because she seems so free.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

five idols and another

Stephen Fry, for he is hilarious, intelligent, handsome, literate, geeky, wonderful.

Rebiya Kadeer, because I watched a documentary about her and I am so proud of her.

Jean Rhys, because she wrote "oh I am only twenty and I shall have to go on living and living" and that's exactly how I feel now.

My mum, your mum, most mums.

Meryl Streep, cause I think she makes some fine movie choices.


M'colleague, this topic was far too hard for me to feel like I was doing it justice. I wanted to think of idols who weren't celebrities or ones that weren't too cliched and found myself at a loss. Runners up included many of my teachers and friends. Although frankly I don't have any proper idols; in keeping with my general diplomatic tendencies I like a lot of people in equal amounts.

I would like to subvert this topic and now ask you who your imaginary idol would be, in the fictive sense.

Mine is Maude from the film Harold and Maude. Maude is 79 when she meets Harold, a 19 year old boy who constantly fakes suicide to get some attention from his old fashioned and awful mother. His mum keeps setting him up on dates with awful girls his own age, but he sees Maude a few times at the funerals he often goes to and they strike up a friendship. Of course their age gap is a bit frightening, but I assure you I was in tears towards the end. Maude is so vivacious. She takes a yellow umbrella to funerals. She constantly steals cars, rationalising that people will have to let go of life so they should be freer with possessions. She and Harold rescue a tree from the street and plant it in a forest. They dance lots.

I don't want to give the film away, so I will stop. Maude is my idol. I don't necessarily want to be with a 19 year old boy when I'm 79, but honestly you never know.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Best songwriter in the universe

No Children - The Mountains Goats

I hope that our few remaining friends
Give up on trying to save us
I hope we come out with a fail-safe plot
To piss off the dumb few that forgave us

I hope the fences we mended
Fall down beneath their own weight
And I hope we hang on past the last exit
I hope it's already too late

And I hope the junkyard a few blocks from here
Someday burns down
And I hope the rising black smoke carries me far away
And I never come back to this town again in my life

I hope I lie
And tell everyone you were a good wife
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
I hope it bleeds all day long
Our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises
We're pretty sure they're all wrong

I hope it stays dark forever
I hope the worst isn't over
And I hope you blink before I do
And I hope I never get sober

And I hope when you think of me years down the line
You can't find one good thing to say
And I'd hope that if I found the strength to walk out
You'd stay the hell out of my way

I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unlovable hand

And I hope you die
I hope we both die

Saturday, May 1, 2010

New topic:

Who are your idols and why?

Also, I was just looking through the blog and realised that I have twice mentioned that I hate American spelling. Spooky. But not really.