Tag Archives: Writing

Opposite Ends

Super excited to share two recently published articles – on opposite ends of the content spectrum no less!

I had a lot of fun writing for Yeity because their style is sarcastic and cheeky. Site tagline? Travel that will put hair on your snatch. Ha! It felt good to vent about my experience jogging in Kampala and share some pics. Here’s a peek at what running through town looks like:

A little bit hectic, a little bit rock n' roll...

A little bit hectic, a little bit rock n’ roll…

And now for something completely different…

My favourite Kampala-based publication, Start Journal, is an arts and culture magazine a bit outside the box in terms of content. It publishes many local Ugandan writers’ work on happenings in the art scene here, The criticism in it is meant to question the social-political context in which art (all types) are created.

 And yet, like so many other dictators, not only was Amin a frightening, deeply disturbed man, but he was also effortlessly capable of ineffable charisma and charm. The president clearly enjoyed putting on a show.

The Bad and the Beautiful is my review of the filmic portrayal of former president and mass-murderer Idi Amin Dada in The Last King of Scotland and General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait. The piece is the result of a discussion on this topic with some of my fellow cinephiles here at 32 East. My essay ended up also being influenced by David Foster Wallace’s brilliant write-up of his experience on the set of David Lynch’s Lost Highway. That is – literally – a topic for another post.

“Art film is essentially teleological; it tries in various ways to “wake the audience up” or render us more “conscious.” (…) An art film’s point is usually more intellectual or aesthetic, and you usually have to do some interpretive work to get it, so that when you pay to see an art film you’re actually paying to work (whereas the only work you have to do w/r/t most commercial films is whatever work you did to afford the price of the ticket).” -D.F. Wallace

Advertisements

Distortions

Photo from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

Photo from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

In a photo historical context, it is natural to place Kertész’s nudes in line with later experiments by Brassaï, Hans Bellmer and Paul Strand, wherein different forms of manipulation created distortions of forms.[…]

Kertész’s pictures can also be read as a comment on the space women occupy; a space which is completely destabilised due to the use of mirrors. Usually, we have no problem with identifying the physical frame around the body, but here it is not the body that is photographed, but the reflection of it in its physical surroundings. In that sense, one may argue that the pictures are not at all about the body, but about the disintegration of a spatial perception to which one has become accustomed. In that sense the pictures can be argued to have developed from the Cubists’ deconstructed and fragmented spaces. The ruling disorder becomes an attack on the endeavour to instil the human body in a lucid space, which provides it with a defined place. The body is, in Kertész’s photographs, transformed into an object we no longer have a firm grasp of; the body avoids us as a slippery bar of soap. Consequently, it escapes the kingdom of the gaze.

Pg. 9, ANDRÉ KERTÉSZ • DISTORTIONS

What an excellent interpretation of Andre Kertesz‘s innovative, seminal Distortion series. Women – and men, for that matter – certainly live in an inherently destabilized space. Consumerist-driven irrational social and gender constructs create this unhealthy, upside-down environment that has devastating effects on people.

In these works, the image is not about the subject itself – instead the focus is placed on the lens through which the subject is seen. This distorted manifestation becomes how the subject – in this case, ‘woman’ – is perceived, questioning the fragmentation that has occurred between a more authentic ‘reality’ and this final perception (distortion). The series points out how ‘true’ – real – these perceptions seen. Our fragmented, distorted view of women (‘woman’ as subject) seems organic when it is indeed not. Rather it is the result of myriad fragmented pieces haphazardly – yet meticulously and purposely – reconstructed by consumerist social constructs.

I highly recommend reading the write-up in its entirety if you are interested in learning more about Kertesz’s fantastic work in general or his Distortion series specifically.

#1 from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

#1 from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

Introverts

Dahab

A few days ago, I read this lovely article on introverts and their ‘woes’. Needless to say, I related to it: Introverts Explained: Why we love you but need to get away from you.

The author writes:

Introverts are not all recluses hanging out in dusty homes with cats and classic books (not that there’s anything wrong with cats and classic books;). We get out and rock it, but then we need to withdraw from that buzz because if we don’t we will feel like an overdone steak, no life, no juice.”

Yes! I am not a recluse (though sometimes I think I could be quite happy living as one); I just need to be by myself sometimes. Or, often. Totally alone, no one else in the vicinity. Even sitting in the same room as another person quietly can be much too energy-draining.

“The other day I heard a fun-loving morning show radio host say she needs to be in the house alone often in order to be civil.  Having someone in another room of the same house isn’t good enough.  She can feel them there.”

I have a beautiful friend who is very sensitive like me. She makes sure to nurture and care for her introversion with love and kindness rather than force herself into situations in which she feels uncomfortable. She inspires me to make ‘the world work for me’, rather ‘me work for the world’. Sensitive people need to create our own safe space away from the world in order to flourish when we enter back into it.

“It’s especially difficult for children.  I’ve seen my daughter’s friends question her relentlessly when she says she is going to play with her dolls after school instead of playing at the friend’s house. You mean you’d rather play alone than play with me?” 

Yes! As a kid, I remember frequently feeling guilty and abnormal for not wanting to be social more often. Instead, I preferred to read by myself, draw, or sit quietly. I even thought that there was something wrong with this. (Not so, dear friend!)

Our brains process everything so deeply it’s tiring. We need time to live in our inner world. We need to recoup bubbly energy by visiting our thoughts, creativity and feelings. We need to go internal in order to express ourselves generously externally.  Solitude expands us (and everyone really). It makes space within us so that we can take in more from the outside.

If you happen to first meet me on a random night out when I’m in social butterfly mode, you might quickly conclude that I’m an extrovert with energy for days. Au contraire: after a bubbly night out, recuperation time begins. Lots of time alone, to be. Peace.

I highly recommend reading the article – linked above – in its entirety if you or someone you know has introvert qualities. We are all special, in our own ways. 🙂

Self-portrait, Dahab

Self-portrait, Dahab

Writing inspiration

General intro: I stay at an arts trust when I come back from trips to the village. Internet, charge camera, upload images, work, read, watch, cold shower, sleep. In the library (they have a library!) live books, stacks of texts, dvds, art crits, pop culture commentary, Criterion Collection films; inspiration in general. I pay a modest amount (even for me) to inhabit one of the charming rooms on site for the next few months ’til the next artist from somewhere across the continent swoops in to create/make/play/achieve. I feel charmed and grateful as usual these days. (Yay!)

Digression: A mish-mash of adults and kids who sing, dance, paint all day, sometimes all night. It is noisy. Yet, incredibly, the sound doesn’t bother me like it normally might. As my ongoing hearing issues become more and more a part of my daily life, I’m proud to say that I am slowly (slooowwwwly) learning to cope with it in more peace than before. The past lingers literally in my eardrums, an invisible scar that aggravates. It’s like I’ve taken up permanent residency as a character in The Conversation, a film which, with its brilliant use of heightened sound, somewhat mimics my everyday experience. Digression point: Psychologically, the sound doesn’t disturb me here. This is, to me, astounding. Hyperbole: And, well, amazing. Wonderful, too.

Initial main point intro: I ask my new friend here, how did you learn to write? I read a lot, he says casually. No system, no schooling, no formula. Read, write, read, write, rinse, repeat. Lather. Obligatory eye-roll inducing sexual innuendo: (Are you wet?)

Initial main point: At my prompting, he sweetly recommends a few articles plus a Sontag short-story, which I leave here with you today. Cheesy pun: No drum roll needed, these works have (loud) noise of their own. If you have a slice of time in your possession and brain in need of nourishment, consider ingesting one of these, free of charge.

Catchy-plus-enticing hook: Satiate those synapses…

A Rumi of One’s Own by Rachel Aviv  – Gush: Cutting, witty, subtle, hilarious. Manages to skewer America’s sheep while remaining fairly objective and fact-based. Rumi-lovers, beware!!! You’ve been warned.

On Quitting by Keguro Macharia – Drool: Brave, heartfelt, intimate, challenging. Strikes numerous emotional chords, sans cliche, through unapologetic honesty, shakes brains with vocabulary and heady concepts. Complementary visual art by another talent here too.

The Way we Live Now by Susan Sontag – Fawn: in 1986, on the lives of people living with the affects of the AIDS epidemic. Run-on sentences, conversant, familiar circular self-indulgent chit-chat between friends who’ve know each other longer than they’ve known themselves. Can be found in full pdf version online.

Yangon Calling

A few months ago I wrote an article on the documentary Yangon Calling, a film about punk in Myanmar.

You can read the article via South East Asia backpacker here. Scroll to page 58, under Arts. Here’s a brief excerpt from the interview..

Over the years, hundreds of documentaries have been made on colourful chaotic punk life. The best ones give us a look at the vulnerable, passionate people behind the hard-edged exterior. Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline of Western Civilization does this for LA’s early 80’s hardcore scene, while Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten shows an intimate view of the complex person behind one of the most influential punk bands ever. Yangon Calling, a film by German-based filmmakers Alexander Dluzak and Carsten Piefke, now adds to the list, offering a look at the challenges faced by punks living in the capital city of Myanmar. Filmed in 2011, just before the country began undergoing significant socio-political change as it switched to an open economy, the documentary explores this lesser-known side of the country…