Sunday, August 24, 2014

Time, Suspended


As I entered the room, bathed in silence, a man dressed in black came and took my hand and guided me to the central pedestal. And there we stood, quietly, breathing, eyes closed, surrounded by others, stoic and immobile. People descended, new people were guided, hand-in-hand joined to their guides or solo, standing, waiting, stilling the mind. A breathing human monument, a moveable Stonehenge.

Experiencing Marina Abramovic’s '512 Hours' at the Serpentine is transcendent. With an open spirit and respectful demeanour, the entire experience becomes a meditation. In an adjoining room, cots, scattered in no particular order welcomed participants to lie and ponder and dream and rest. They were covered in colourful sheets by members of Abramovic’s black-clad team of assistants. A quiet room of contemplation, a peaceful ward brightened with pops of colour, all bathed in the to and fro of sunlight streaming in through the windows above. I stood and watched, and breathed as, in silence, a room full of people lay in their own meditations. On individual journeys but on parallel paths. As a woman arose from a cot near me, she caught my eye and invited me, silently, to take her place. The simple connection, the simple act of guidance – like the man dressed in black taking my hand – was contagious, somehow that parallel path we were traversing together in this exhibition space came to an intersection in a simple yet powerful way.

The final room features the most amount of motion (which isn't really saying much). It also had an incredible cinematic quality. From the doorway you see people walking along the length of the room with very slow and painstaking care, their measured movements slowed down, conscious of every move of every muscle that makes up the experience of walking. The scene reminded me of those from theatrical plays where all but one actor freezes – a tableau of a moment in time. But here, the movement, in extreme and personal slow motion, was stunning.


A truly powerful experience, especially for me who values introspection and meditation so much. I can only imagine this is a preview of the Marina Abramovic Institute planned to open in upstate New York in the coming years (designed by OMA). There is incredible potency in locking up all your time- and communication-devices and just bathing in pure quiet, experience and connection. Slowing down, reflecting in, connecting back ... after a few moments, you can hear your breath, and hear your own heartbeat pulsing subtly through your body.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Just Visiting




Driving into Montreal, the Five Roses Flour sign blinks red above its silos, an unofficial welcome back to the city after a drive down to the United States.

It is my last full day of a two-week trip back to Montreal and it has been filled with lots of family time and special moments. No matter how many phone calls or Skype calls, nothing really replaces time spent with cousins, sisters, brothers, parents in real time, in real presence. There is something affirming about family time, at least for me; we've had a whole life together, a constellation of moments we all share, people we cherish.

Even for all its maddening qualities, challenges and quirks, Montreal will always be home for me. These streets are familiar, this mixing of English and French, the great diversity, the funk and the fabulous. The sometimes languid pace of life here can leave something to be desired, or, conversely, it can be wholly instructive; time to check in, slow down, enjoy. The formation one gets growing up in this city is so incredibly unique and irreplaceable, and there is something ticking in the heart of this little metropole.

Perhaps it's just an ideal summer foray that has me in a deeply reflective mood. Maybe I would not say the same in the frost of winter. And it is not to say that I am not incredibly blessed with my life in London at the moment; I am exactly where I need and want to be. Just throwing out some mad props to MTL, ma ville, ma patrie. Cheers to Montreal.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Get in the boat.


At Frieze New York 2014 opening today, artist Marie Lorenz is offering tours of the East River in a handmade rowboat (below). 



It reminds me of Joana Vasconcelos and the Portuguese pavilion (below) at the Venice Biennale last year with its wild interior and azulejos decor also went for a meander from the fairgrounds.



There was also an incredible 2011 project a few years ago at the Wapping Project featuring the finale wedding dress from Yohji Yamamoto's 1998 collection worn by an illuminated mannequin suspended from the ceiling above a flooded former boiler room. The only way to experience the work was 2-by-2 in a rowboat. The installation project was part of a feature of the artist on in and throughout the V&A.



So are you getting in the art boat? 

I am a fan of committing to these meditative voyages, as the usual modality for viewing art (art fairs especially) seems to crave immediate impact at a speedy pace. Getting into the boat and going at the slower pace, swaying with the water, or advancing with the human efforts of the paddle,  rewinds our technological evolution, it acknowledges our roots, the path traversed. There is a journey. There is another perspective to embrace. I come back to the art, back to close observation, getting lost in expression, experience.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Heavy with Lightness


About this time of year, the trees float, their branches
disappear, blossoms from head to toe, 'Symphony
in White Number One'. Bare, stark, jagged turns
lithe, bright, ethereal. Winter's heavy white gives way
to spring's delicate hope, fluttering. Blinding erasure, sun caught
in your eyes staring up, enchanted, heavy with lightness.

James McNeill Whistler, 'Symphony in White No. 1', 1861-62.
Oil on canvas, 215 x 108 cm (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)


From National Gallery of Art website:

When Whistler submitted The White Girl to the Paris Salon in 1863, the tradition–bound jury refused to show the work. Napoleon III invited avant–garde artists who had been denied official space to show their paintings in a "Salon des Refus├ęs," an exhibition that triggered enormous controversy. Whistler's work met with severe public derision, but a number of artists and critics praised his entry. In the Gazette des Beaux–Arts, Paul Manz referred to it as a "symphony in white," noting a musical correlation to Whistler's paintings that the artist himself would address in the early 1870s, when he retitled a number of works "Nocturne," "Arrangement," "Harmony," and "Symphony."

Whistler used variations of white pigment to create interesting spatial and formal relationships. By limiting his palette, minimizing tonal contrast, and sharply skewing the perspective, he flattened forms and emphasized their abstract patterns. This dramatic compositional approach reflects the influence of Japanese prints, which were becoming well known in Paris as international trade increased. 

Clearly, Whistler was more interested in creating an abstract design than in capturing an exact likeness of the model, his mistress Joanna Hiffernan. His radical espousal of purely aesthetic orientation and the creation of "art for art's sake" became a virtual rallying cry of modernism.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Quotable Quotes: Nigella in Observer Food Monthly

Nigella's London cheesecake. Photograph: Martin Poole.
(I like to think of baking as a mixture of chemistry and poetry.) All human beings have a deep-seated belief in, and need for, transformation and I feel that baking appeals to that instinct, in a way that - at the risk of sounding naff - soothes the soul.

-Nigella Lawson writing for the Observer Food Monthly, 16 March 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Return.

To be honest, leaving Montreal and returning to London, I was on the fence. I had been home for 20 days and had enjoyed a luxurious amount of time spent in the simple but profound presence of family members and reconnecting with a few friends. It was full of comfort (well, with an intermittent spat of drama, as is to be expected around the holidays). But mostly my heart was full from the time being back with my parents, my brother, my sister, brother-in-law & nephew and so many more. My aunt and uncle, my 99-year-old grandmother, were all just a short car-ride away. There is something lovely about the proximity of family. So London seemed to be tearing me away from all that, I've begun wrestling with the future and whether a move back to North America made sense in the long run, questions, doubts, all those ruminations of the new year and time away from the daily flow.

Yet, fresh off the plane and immersed right back into the workplace, I quickly remembered the community I have become a part of. I am blessed to work with a group of people who bring a wide smile to my face. Especially in the art world, it is unique to find a work environment that feels almost familial, the respect and fondness that exists between employees. 

And then the weekend, a return to Broadway Market and all the familiar faces of vendors waving hello and friends milling about, small dogs and small children, such a beautiful humanity about the place. I couldn't help but smile. And to my surprise, I ran into a few friends, unplanned, at the market, at a random train station -- life's serendipity and happenstance. Here is the life I have built up, slowly budding and presenting itself. Here it is a celebration of life and community. Here it is where I am and where I am meant to be.

Sunshine over Broadway Market

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Flaming December


I saw the cover of Vogue for December 2013 and my brain set on fire. I'd seen this pose before, I knew it from art history. Without intending it, a voracious need to Google and solve this compare-and-contrast suddenly overtook me. And after too long searching various iterations of reclining women in dresses, I found the match in Frederic Leighton's 'Flaming June' of 1895. Quite the thrilling evocation, demonstration of timeless inspiration. Would make quite a thrilling start to a high school art history class...