invisible cities

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There are books so fantastical you just want them to be real.

Italo Calvino’s, ‘Invisible Cities’ is such a book.

I first came across Calvino’s work when I was studying Italian at university. In my delusions of becoming an art historian, I needed a language, I chose Italian. Quite frankly, I suck at learning languages as my head seems so preoccupied with English  - reading it, writing it, dreaming in it – but I stuck with Italian and one of the texts we had to read was Calvino’s ‘Marcovaldo’. Intrigued, I checked out more of his writing and discovered, ‘Invisible Cities.’ I loved it. The writing alone is beautiful poetic-prose. And I read it in English – of course!

It’s a story of Marco Polo recounting his many and varied travels to Kublai Khan. After each journey, Kublai Khan asks Marco Polo to describe the cities he has been to. And so it goes, the explorer gives the conqueror a vision of a world he has not seen, and most likely, never will. For each city is wondrous and impossible, yet Marco Polo is only ever describing one: the city of his birth, Venice, Italy. 

The story is woven with memory, desire, dreams, longing, and the constancy of change in trying to capture what is closest to our hearts.

Here’s a tantalizing sample of an exchange between Polo and Khan:

‘I shall tell you what I dreamed last night,’ he says to Marco. ‘In the midst of a flat and yellow land, dotted with meteorites and erratic boulders, I saw from a distance the spires of a city rise, slender pinnacles, made in such a way that the moon in her journey can rest now on one, now on another, or sway from the cables of the cranes.’

And Polo says: ‘The city of your dreams is Lalage. Its inhabitants arranged these invitations to rest in the night sky so that the moon would grant everything in the city the power to grow and grow endlessly.’

‘There is something you do not know,’ the Khan adds. ‘The grateful moon has granted the city of Lalage a rarer privilege: to grow in lightness.’ 

miles

Photo: Recording 'Kind of Blue' l-r: John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and Bill Evans

Photo: Recording 'Kind of Blue' l-r: John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and Bill Evans

Here's a 360 degree turn around music-wise from the previous post. Chilling out with Miles Davis and my all-time favourite recording of his, 'Kind of Blue'. Here's 'Blue in Green' - a classic and truly beautiful. 

monkey safari

Photo: Monkey Safari, Halle 

Photo: Monkey Safari, Halle 

Been on the go all day and listening to these guys - Monkey Safari. Here's a sample from the beginning of the podcast, 'From Halle with Love #59' (can listen in full on SoundCloud here). If you're not into deep house/techno and Tibetan throat singing (huh! - it's fabulous), probably should skip this.

    

street stuff #25 humanKIND

 Photo by John Parra

 Photo by John Parra

Here's the latest work by SETH (@seth_globepainter) for Wynwood Walls as part of the 2017 Art Basel Collection in Miami. The theme for all artists participating was 'humanKIND'. Fantastic as usual. 

 

dark side of the lens

Love this! A riveting glimpse at an ocean photographer's passion for what he does, and what it means to live his life capturing the sea with his lens. The sheer power of the ocean and beauty of this isolated stretch of Irish coastline, accompanies a poetic narrative that is a meditation on this rarely considered art form. Directed by Mickey Smith and produced by Helen Hayden, Astray Films.  

alien blue

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Kind of drowning in words - writing, editing...need an escape! This popped up on my IG feed - and since my favourite colour is blue, it was a bit of a magnet. A cross between Yves Klein and James Turrell - Pamela Rosenkrantz's, 'Alien Blue Window', 2017 (@artbasel).   

Cool title. And pretty tempting to walk through it - or dive into it - to see what's on the other side.

Awesome portal!

bloom

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Water, water everywhere at the moment. It's been a squally, drenched few days. Trying to get into a writing headspace, listening to Radiohead, and a fave from 'The King of Limbs' - 'Bloom'.

   

white

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Ever had that feeling of being at the edge of the world?

Obviously not literally, but a sensation, feeling that if you stepped off the place you were standing, you’d be heading into an unknown?

There are places on the planet some would dub, ‘the end of the world’. My aunt just sent me a photo from Ushuaia in Argentina. Located at the southern tip of South America, it’s known in tourist hype as ‘the town at the end of the world’. I’m a little jealous having wanted to go for a long time, but never finding my way there (I have a thing for llamas – she promised to bring me back a t-shirt with one on it – huh!). Then, she and her husband are off to Antarctica. And to my imagination, that is a place that feels like journeying into an unknown. 

Before going, I told her to read Marie Darrieussecq’s novel, ‘White’. 

Darrieussecq’s writing is evocative, immediate and exciting. I came across her work while doing my PhD in art history/installation art (which I walked away from), and a wonderful fictional story she wrote to accompany an exhibition of Louise Bourgeois, ‘Dans la maison de Louise’. It was a text that influenced my own ‘Art Stories’ project. I’ve avidly read her work since then. 

‘White’ is the story of two engineers, Edmée and Pete, both escaping their lives, to work on Project White in Antarctica, at a station 15 kilometers from the South Pole. Both seek a kind of tabula rasa – a beginning, an end; an emptiness that might wipe clean traumatic experiences they want to distance or inure themselves from. An escape that threatens to become a journey into a blanketing nothingness. Soon, the very landscape - isolated, magnificent, primal, dangerous – takes a hold of their lives, becoming a mirror for their inner struggles; a force that brings them together in a kind of fateful vortex. And then there are the ghosts. Trapped spirits who are the observers of this tale, they swirl around Edmée and Pete, a tightening web of unseen influencers.

It’s a love story at the end of the world.  

I hope she reads it, but I have a feeling she’ll be too caught up in her own adventure.

parallel dive

Image: @oneocean_onebreath

Image: @oneocean_onebreath

Listening to this on repeat. If you're into deep house/electronic, this new release from Akali Akali, 'Parallel Dive', Endless Music Records, is definitely worth checking out.

Mesmerising.

  

street stuff #24 L.E.T. - repost

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A repost of one of my favourite street artists, L.E.T. (l.e.t._les.enfants.terribles) - 'I'm not beautiful like you, I'm beautiful like me'.

Sometimes we just need reminding.

And to quote another of L.E.T.'s paste ups- 'Stay Weird'. 

 

 

ghosts of the arctic

For those who love ice-scapes - and polar bears.

Here's a stunning short film of photographer, Joshua Holko, searching the sea ice of Svalbard to document the elusive polar bear.  

Quite breathtaking. 

Presented by Untitled Film Works, directed by Abraham Joffe ACS. 

blissing me

Aaah Bjork - she's in love! Here's her song, 'Blissing Me' from her newly released album, 'Utopia'. 

Gorgeous.

 

 

amok

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Okay, chilling out now, thanks to Thom Yorke. Here's Atoms for Peace's single, 'Amok'.

need some air

Rob from BRMC at the Paradiso 2017, current tour. Photo: @tmeimardes

Rob from BRMC at the Paradiso 2017, current tour. Photo: @tmeimardes

I feel like I've just surfaced from cave spelunking (love that word!). Gaaaah! I've been editing, editing, editing... The light is too bright, it's muggy, hot, and I need a serious infusion of caffeine (of the tea variety - yep, I'm a tea drinker), chocolate (of the dark variety), and some high energy music. BRMC will do.

Here's Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's 'I Need Some Air' from their album, 'Baby '81'.

silk

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Some books are simply this – unforgettable.

Stories that graft onto imagination, memory, even our bodies as they seep through our senses, winding their way beneath skin. We don’t simply read, we feel, travel, escape and for a moment, live these tales.

Once read, we carry them with us. Such stories can even change us. 

Unforgettable.

After curating a particularly difficult exhibition (non-existent budget, tricky exhibition space, 12 hour work days, an impossible deadline etc. etc.), another curator working with me gave me a gift as a sign of appreciation for what I’d done. While I’ll never forget the kindness motivating the gift, the true treasure was the gift itself – a book.

‘Silk’ by Alessandro Baricco.

As the curator passed it on to me, I’ve been recommending it to people ever since. 

Told as a fable, in 1861 a French silk merchant, Hervé Joncour, travels to the end of the world: Japan. His mission is to find and buy silk worms. Here he meets with the most ‘invincible’ man in Japan, Hara Kei, and on that first meeting there is another, a concubine with eyes that do not have an Oriental shape.

So it begins.

A love story lit by an unfathomable desire and a subtle eroticism, spanning time and a vast distance, and is compelling for having a will all its own.

A truly unforgettable story.  

 

the sky is broken

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Last Saturday afternoon the clouds rolled in, lightning cracked the sky and the power went out. I stood outside and I could feel it - the absence of the switch-flow of energy, an undercurrent we're barely aware of, but now that it was gone, there was a null space. An eerie silence. So, I put my headphones on, chilled out, and filled it with sound. 

And in the shuffle came this song and it was kind of - perfect. Moby's 'The Sky is Broken' from his album, 'Play'.  Pared back, poetic, hypnotic and achingly intimate.     

100 Love Sonnets

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Recently I was gifted a book of Pablo Neruda's poems to add to my collection of his selected poems and 'Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair'. This book is special for having come all the way from Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris (I love that place!), and for featuring 100 of his love sonnets (Cien sonetos de amor). I've been savouring them, a truly luscious and sensuous collection.

So far, a standout for me is Sonnet XVII:

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

 

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

 

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way

 

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

 

surfing life #14 the ocean doesn't care

Film by Finisterre and Huck. Directed by Mikey DeTemple.

'The ocean doesn't give a fuck about you.'

A blunt statement from this short film about four New Yorkers escaping their everyday lives and why they surf. 

The ocean doesn't care - it's all about why you care about the ocean and your relationship with it. Check it out.