So far, 2015 has started out with a whimper, rather than the bang I was hoping for. Still, this year is going to be the year of big changes. The craptacular vestiges of 2014 will haunt me no more (Get thee behind!). I’m especially excited to have my sista and friend Tina Chang in Toronto now and ready to kick some serious ass in the fashion photography scene. I’ve recently started assisting her again on and off and it’s been great to be back in the studio with people who truly give a damn about what they do.
Do I find the whole thing absurd sometimes? Sure! But, too often I’m stuck behind a desk, wasting away on other people’s problems. Well, no more. Time to dust off the gear and make some shit! And so, I dedicate this inaugural post to Tina, who inspires me to get my art on!
To celebrate this new arrangement here’s a comp of behind-the-scenes shots of models being sprayed in the face in the name of fashion.
Well good people, the end is nigh and it’s time for bloggers to post their top whatever lists of whatever the hell to wrap another year. One such list is Co.Design’s 22 Videos We Couldn’t Stop Watching in 2013. Some really great vids/time killers on there so do get to it. It’s in the same spirit of sharing and reflection that I write this post.
But, since this is a lazy year end post I present not a list of agreeable things I’ve seen in 2013, but just one thing that I remembered. Filmmaker Marc-Antoine Locatelli’s Nuance. The first time I saw it I was totally mesmerized. Beautiful choreography, understated photography, and a totally blissed-out soundtrack. Let’s all agree to end the year and ring in the new one like a living version of this video — with nuance, poetry, beauty, and of course music.
Nuit Blanche activates. Introducing the Directors Collective – Class of 6:51pm.
Last night was the 2013 edition of the City of Toronto’s annual contemporary art festival Nuit Blanche. I’ve participated in past Nuits as a curatorial assistant in 2008, researcher in 2008/09, and solo artist in 2010. This time around I participated as 1/5th of The Directors Collective, staging a project at the Gladstone Hotel’s Fly By Night event called, Picture Day. In Room 214 we created a backdrop of an elementary school gymnasium complete with an actual gym bench (kindly lent to us by Ryerson Community School) and cubby holes made from milk crates. Visitors – friends and strangers alike – were invited to come and sit for a class portrait.
We were interested in exploring broad themes of commemoration and nostalgia through a re-staging of the classic annual school picture day which many Canadians can recall with either fondness or dread. I’m personally interested in the topic because for me, picture day was a pointless exercise that we had to go through every year. It was just another photograph to add to the archive of the self. But, I was soon to find out that picture day was actually a really significant event in people’s lives. Although picture day essentially commemorates nothing, the act of going through picture days, the rituals associated with preparing and sitting for the photographs, was what was significant. I’d never really given it much thought until now.
Regardless of my own perspective on the project it turned out to be a really fun night, which is saying a lot considering I didn’t get to see anything this year. The reactions of visitors was extremely positive. I was surprised by how enthusiastic the crowd was. Some couldn’t wait to finally sit on the bench having always been relegated to the back when they were in school because they were too tall. Others recalled the trauma of picture day and preferred to watch as their friends hammed it up for the camera. One of the more memorable conversations I had was with a lady who told me, “Whoa this is awesome! I always skipped picture day to get high.” I was surprised by this comment because I don’t recall school picture day happening beyond sixth grade so skipping picture day to get high really takes badassery to another level.
Me looking deranged and ready for bed.
Picture Day was the first project I’ve ever done that was participatory and I gotta say, it was real pleasure to watch people perform and to chat with them about their memories of school picture day. It clearly meant a lot to them. For a first project with my fellow Directors, I’d say it was a success.
What do you think of picture day? Pointless? Dreadful? Good fun?
You can view class pictures from Picture Day on twitter at: @DirectorsCo with search terms: #pictureday #snbTO
This weekend was exhausting, but in a good way. In addition to my unofficial, Toronto version of Cultivated Wit’s #whiskeyfriday (unofficial because it was really just a regular TGIF hangout session, super unofficial because I forgot to mention to the group that it was #whiskeyfriday), I went and checked out a film at the Canadian Art Foundation’s Reel Artists Film Festival at the TIFF Lightbox.
The documentary I saw was about photog. Alex Soth called, Somewhere to Disappear (directed by, Laure Flammarion & Arnaud Uyttenhove). The tag line for the film, “It’s not about running away, it’s about the desire to run away.” basically sums it up. I guess I was expecting a film that explores a romantic notion of escape – the flaneurs of the world losing themselves in vast expanses of space and time – dreams, cities and endlessly winding streets. This was not that.
It’s an interesting film though – slow, meandering, handheld, choppy. Somewhere to Disappear is a meditation on the desire to escape through a series of encounters orchestrated by Alex Soth as he travels around the U.S. is his minivan documenting various places of escape and the people who have effected their own escape.
The encounters that unfold are sometimes unsettling and often moving. On the one hand there’s the reality of (troubled) individuals who have chosen to foreswear society for various reasons. On the other, there’s this artist who claims time and again that his project is not about actually escaping, only the idea of escaping. And yet, as the film ambles on the viewer gets the sense that Alex is himself on the cusp of disappearing.
As we follow him on his creative journey we are witnessing his actual escape into the world he constructs. You realize that although motivations for escape differ the end result is not romantic, rather, it’s lonely, isolating and ultimately that there may be no return.