Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft

by Laura Heyenga, Rob Ryan and Natalie Avella
featuring works by Thomas Allen, Hina Aoyama, Su Blackwell, Zoe Bradley, Yulia Brodskaya, Peter Callesen, Laura Cooperman, Béatrice Coron, Cindy Ferguson, Emily Hogarth, Molly Jey, Andrea Mastrovito, Nikki McClure, Heather Moore, Elsa Mora, Helen Musselwhite, Chris Natrop, Mia Pearlman, Casey Ruble, Rob Ryan, Justine Smith, Matthew Sporzynski, Yuken Teruya, Kako Ueda, Emma van Leest and Patricia Zapata
Were you the kind of child that ate your way all around the edge of the hole in the middle of a biscuit bit by bit with tiny teeth in little nibbles?
Were you the kind of child who spent much more time drawing margins and making multi-colored borders and underlining the titles and subtitles of your homework than ever actually doing it?

I know I was. As a consequence, I saw this book in the library, started to read the preface by Rob Ryan and simply could not leave it there. No way.

I like the fact that I don’t need paint or brushes or water or oil or palettes or canvas, just a piece of paper, a knife, and a pencil, and a rubber eraser. So much less — less mess, less waste, less stuff. More time — more time to say the things I have to say without detail getting in the way. No adding on of paint, layer after layer — no more never quite knowing when to stop. Only taking away and taking away, first of all, all of the holes from the middle of all of the doughnuts in the world, and then the tiny slivery gaps that exist in the spaces in some lovers’ entwined fingers, or maybe that tiny little island of nothingness that lives between two pairs of kissing lips.
Now let me ask... Could you leaf through this book and still dismiss paper cutting as a serious art form? No. But I am sure you know somebody like that. Perhaps he spent all of his childhood diligently doing his homework. Let’s ignore him and do some important stuff.

It is not a how-to book. Its purpose is to inspire; and there are no rules anyway. No expensive materials or equipment is needed. Would you like to give it a try?

laForetles Fee0001
Hina Aoyama, La forêt harmonieuse les fées, 2007

Emily Hogarth, Woodlands, 2008

Heather Moore, Waiting, 2007

Rob Ryan, Boat Couple, 2006

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Funny Films of the North

Here’s the blurb that got me intrigued:

Are Nordic films really as melancholic, depressing, and humourless as rumour has it? Four Nordic film journals — Filmmagasinet Ekko from Denmark, Rushprint from Norway, Flm from Sweden and Episodi from Finland — have tasked themselves with finding the exceptions that showcase the cheerful and self-deprecating side to Nordic cinema.
Not that I ever suspected Nordic cinema of humourlessness. It took me a while to go through the whole collection. Truth to be told, most of these shorts are depressing and melancholic, except for a couple of positively sinister ones. As for “funny”... They are funny, but weird funny rather than hilarious funny. Cheerful they are not.

Swedish Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers is probably the best of the lot: both funny and funny funny.

Other delights include Swedish Elixir (that is, a magic formula to transform immigrants into true Swedes); Finnish animation The Irresistible Smile; and Danish Oscar-winning Election Night (which also could be found on Cinema 16: European Short Films collection).

  1. Las Palmas by Johannes Nyholm (Sweden, 2011, 13 min)
  2. No Sex Just Understand by Mariken Halle (Norway, 2011, 15 min)
  3. Äiti ei enää keilaa (Mother Doesn’t Bowl Anymore) by Teemu Nikki (Finland, 2010, 10 min)
  4. Slitage (Seeds of the Fall) by Patrik Eklund (Sweden, 2009, 18 min)
  5. This Is Alaska by Mårten Nilsson and Gunilla Heilborn (Sweden, 2009, 10 min)
  6. Space Monkeys by Jan Rahbek (Denmark, 2008, 8 min)
  7. Sunday Mornings by Jannicke Låker (Norway, 2008, 9 min)
  8. Naglinn (The Nail by Benedikt Erlingsson (Iceland, 2008, 16 min)
  9. Sagan om den lille Dockpojken (The Tale of Little Puppetboy) by Johannes Nyholm (Sweden, 2008, 18 min)
  10. Anna by Helena Stefánsdóttir (Iceland, 2007, 13 min)
  11. Occupations by Lars von Trier (Denmark, 2007, 3 min)
  12. Ilo irti (The Irresistible Smile) by Ami Lindholm (Finland, 2006, 6 min)
  13. Järvi (The Lake) by Maarit Lalli (Finland, 2006, 9 min)
  14. Elixir by Babak Najafi (Sweden, 2004, 26 min)
  15. De beste går først (United We Stand) by Hans Petter Moland (Norway, 2002, 9 min)
  16. Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers by Ola Simonsen and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson (Sweden, 2001, 10 min)
  17. Døren som ikke smakk (Shut the Door) by Jens Lien (Norway, 2000, 10 min)
  18. Valgaften (Election Night) by Anders Thomas Jensen (Denmark, 1999, 11 min)
  19. Pilot for En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron (A Pigeon Sat on a Branch - Reflecting on Existence) by Roy Andersson (Sweden, 2011, 8 min)

Friday, 8 November 2013

Love and Death

a film by Woody Allen

I don’t sweeten my tea or coffee, but I enjoy reading what is written on Spanish sugar sachets. Our last day on Fuerteventura, we had coffee in our favourite pasteleria in Antigua. One of the sachets had this Woody Allen joke on it:

El sexo sin amor es una experiencia vacía. Pero como experiencia vacía es una de las mejores.
Now that we have two teenagers in the house, I thought it is appropriate to watch the source of the above quote with them. They watched and loved Sleeper and Zelig, but I was a bit afraid that the humour of Love and Death would be lost on them (blissfully ignorant of Tolstoyevsky etc.) I really shouldn’t have. The movie was a roaring success. Now they are going to annoy me randomly quoting it. Because every single line is a classic.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Time Traveler’s Wife

by Audrey Niffenegger

Oh well. I finally finished this book. Why it became an international bestseller, I don’t know. There’s enough good and bad books about time travel already. A bit of sci-fi that could have been interesting. In fact, the concept is interesting. But it was explained in the very first chapter. Eighteen pages. It could have been a good, or even great, short story. What we have instead is a pretentious romance going for five hundred something pages. So I was trudging through it for the last month in a hope that something unpredictable (from that first chapter) will happen. No such luck.

All in all, it is not that bad, although some scenes did make me cringe — such as when Clare is in labour and Henry... reads her Rilke (translated by Stephen Mitchell, copyright © 1982, used by permission of Random House, Inc. That’s right, there’s an awful lot of copyrighted stuff used by permission, and none of it is needed at all.) Or Henry going to the opera to hear Tristan und Isolde. Please!

Just one question: why on earth the person who leaves his clothes behind when time-travelling (fascinating theory, although, as any time traveller can confirm, completely wrong) he does not go someplace nice? I mean, if he moved to Fuerteventura, it would be so much easier on everybody. He could appear out of nowhere and sit naked there, without having any job, and read Rilke aloud to his heart’s content, and nobody would give a hoot. But no, he has to be either in South Haven or in Chicago, where there’s always a pressing need to steal clothes, or else people will stare, or beat him up, etc. I guess it is because the author has lived in or near Chicago for most of her life and cannot possibly imagine there could be life elsewhere.