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Rebel Matters 227 – A Century of Remembrance

Monday, November 12, 2018 10:47 pm Leave a comment

 

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Old City Hall Toronto – Nov 11 2018

 

 

November 11, 2018 was the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the war dubbed as the war to end all wars.   In honour of the Armistice, Special K and I went down to what we, in Toronto, call the old city hall, where the Cenotaph, one of our war memorials, was erected in 1925.  In this country, more than two generations have lived in a time of peace and have no first hand knowledge of the realities and horrors of war.  What would another world war look like?  In the face of some 14, 000 nuclear weapons spread over nine countries, one deployed bomb would almost certainly result in the deployment of many others, decimating the world population and ending civilization as we know it today.  Sobering.   So I think it is important to reflect on the sacrifices made by others and past generations to mitgate the ravages of military confrontation.

 

During breakast at a local cafe, Special K and I had a chance meeting with a woman who was from Sweden.  We struck up a conversation with her and found out she had never experienced a Remembrance day event.   We invited her to join us and I think we may have overwhelmed her with our non-stop anecdotes of Canadian history and military efforts.

This Sunday November 11, at the Cenotaph, we observed the customary two minutes of silence at 11:00am followed by poem recited in English, Oji-Cree, and French,  a thought provoking address by our Mayor,  and a reading of the poem In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae in 1915.  

Have a listen to my sound scene audio of an historic remembrance day.

Part of the program is reproduced here:

Committment to Remember (read in English, Obi-Cree, and French)

They were young, as we were young,
They served, giving freely of themselves.
To them we pledge, amid the winds of time,
To carry their torch and never forget.
We will remember them.

Address by Mayor John Tory

Hymn to Freedom

When every heart joins every heart and
Together years for liberty,
That’s when we’ll all be free.
When every hand joins every hand and
Together moulds our destiny,
That’s when we’ll all be free.
Any hour any day, the time soon will come
When men will live in dignity,
That’s when we’ll all be free.
When every man joins in our song and
Together singing harmony,
That’s when we’ll all be free.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Here’s the audio

 

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War courtesy of: Jamison491
Barking, crying and other sounds of human suffering courtesy of: http://soundbible.com
Photos:  Mine

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Rebel Matters 226 – The Thoughtful and Disturbing Artwork of Rebecca Belmore

Monday, November 5, 2018 7:47 pm Leave a comment
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Fringe 2008 – Rebecca Belmore

 

In 2008 Rebecca Belmore created piece of art called Fringe.    It’s a photograph of a woman, reclining, her back to us.   Sown into her back are fringes, hanging down, some red, some white.  You might see these on the bottom of a skirt for instance.  The scar running the length of her back is obvious and disturbing.    She says of this work:

As an Indigenous woman, my female body speaks for itself. Some people interpret the image of this reclining figure as a cadaver. However, to me it is a wound that is on the mend. It wasn’t self-inflicted, but nonetheless, it is bearable. She can sustain it. So it is a very simple scenario: she will get up and go on, but she will carry that mark with her. She will turn her back on the atrocities inflicted upon her body and find resilience in the future. The Indigenous female body is the politicized body, the historical body. It’s the body that doesn’t disappear.

The Canadian Encylopedia says this about her:

Increasingly recognized as one of the most important artists of her generation, Rebecca Belmore’s performances, videos, sculptures, and photographs starkly confront the ongoing history of oppression of Indigenous peoples in Canada…

Rebecca Belmore was raised in a large Anishinabe family in Upsala, Ontario. She left her small hometown to attend high school in neighbouring Thunder Bay. During the summer, Belmore migrated northwest to spend time with her maternal grandmother — who maintained a traditional lifestyle of trapping and fishing and spoke only her native Ojibwa — in the Anishinabe district of Sioux Lookout.

Ostracized as an Indigenous woman in a largely white high school, Belmore dropped out in her midteens to work a number of odd jobs before deciding to complete her secondary education. Upon returning for her final year, she befriended the high school art teacher who encouraged her to submit a drawing to a local competition where she won first prize. Buoyed by the positive response, the following year Belmore enrolled at the Ontario College of Art (OCA) to pursue a degree in Experimental Arts; she remained in the program from 1984 to 1987…

In 2005, Belmore was chosen as the first Indigenous woman to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale. The piece she produced for the show — a two-and-a-half-minute video loop back-projected on a curtain of flowing water in the darkened room of the Canada pavilion [called Fountain] — took her over a year and half to complete. The video depicts the artist frantically filling buckets of water from the Strait of Georgia and throwing its contents…at the screen.

 

And she said this about her art in 2008:

Part of my interest in making art is to provoke a viewer to think about certain issues. And I do that through creating images that may, on first sight appear to be – hopefully!- beautiful. But when you look closer you may see something that’s a little out of sync with that beauty. That’s where I hope to get people to think about the image they’re looking at.

 

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At Pelican Falls  2017 – Rebecca Belmore

I saw Facing the Monumental, which featured these and more pieces by Rebecca Belmore on Aug 5, 2018 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.    Here is the audio of my experience with her works.

 

 

Find out more about Belmore at:

http://www.rebeccabelmore.com/home.html

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/rebeccabelmore/

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/rebecca-belmore

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_Belmore

http://www.gallerieswest.ca/magazine/stories/facing-the-monumental/

https://ago.ca/exhibitions/rebecca-belmore-facing-monumental

 

 

Rebel Matters 225 – Don’t Trust Steve Lazarides

Monday, August 6, 2018 3:35 pm Leave a comment

 

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Don’t Fall For It

Rebel Matters 225 (47mb 25:42)

 

I am an avid and passionate art appreciator.  If there is a genre or artist I like that’s being shown in my city (or anywhere I’m visiting), I’m in.   But I should have known better in this case.   I should have realized and read the fine print. I should have paid attention when posters read “unauthorized”.  As soon as I stepped into the Banksy Exhibit in Toronto, I saw it right away.   The so called 80 original pieces, were mostly photographs of Banksy attributed works taken in various cities.  At worst they were photographs of other people’s photographs.   There were very few original pieces.   I dutifully went through the spaces in the warehouse wondering whether anyone else was feeling the way I was.  Special K was feeling the same way.  So was Drag-On.   I asked Drag-On.  She didn’t want to talk about it in public.  I wanted to spread the word that we were all being ripped off.    Forty-four hard-earned dollars to see how an opportunist exploits someone else’s art for profit.   Well maybe it was partly my experience at the Yayoi Kusama exhibit. That was massively well attended and disappointing for many who wanted more time in her infinity rooms.  Now there’s someone who got the last laugh.  But that’s for an entirely different podcast.   Then there is the question of the theft of a piece of the art just three days before the opening.  Some are reporting that it was a hoax.  A publicity stunt to entice people into the show.  Well I don’t know. All I know is that I wasn’t expecting mounted photographs out of context.

I wonder if he is just using Toronto to see if it’s viable to take it elsewhere.  I guess we’ll find out at the end of the summer. This is just a money grab by Steve Lazarides,  So, please don’t waste your money if this hits your town.  Stay away.   Here is my sound scene audio of our visit to the event and how we reacted to it.   Enjoy or rather buyer beware.

People’s Names I forgot:  Samuel L. Jackson

Details I left out:   Everything I saw at the Banksy exhibit you can easily find, for just the price of your data provider, on the internet.

Titles of this show that ended up in the Bit Bucket

  • Human Beings are Radically Flawed.
  • The Gorillas are Already in Charge.
  • I’ve been owned

 

Here’s the link again:

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Categories: Art, Ethics, Podcast, Review

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 222 – Photos of HAL. Not Permitted.

Saturday, January 3, 2015 11:30 am 2 comments
Star Child (Taken at the Kubrick Retrospective at TIFF Lightbox November 2014)

Star Child (Taken at the Kubrick Retrospective at TIFF Lightbox November 2014)

I am not an expert on these matters.   I merely know what I like and what I don’t like.   And though there were movies of his that I absolutely did not like, I cannot ignore the profound impact his movies have had on me.   I don’t know anyone who will deny, if they have seen the movie, that when they hear Also Sprach Zarathrustra or The Blue Danube they can think only of 2001 – A Space Odyssey.   There are those of us who saw A Clockwork Orange who will never be able to see it again because of its assault on our morality, senses, and emotions.   I have a friend who can’t listen to Beethoven’s 9th, Ode to Joy, or the William Tell Overture anymore after seeing the movie without seeing the most vicious and disturbing scenes in her mind’s eye. We don’t understand what some of these movies were about but we simply cannot forget them. He arguably redefined the relationship of music to American film, camera work with American film, and even redefined how to tell a tale.   He turned the ghost story on its head with The Shining and confused us about war and violence with Full Metal Jacket. I am speaking of course about Stanley Kubrick, one of the greatest American filmmakers of all time. He made only sixteen movies in forty-eight years, three of which were documentary shorts made very early in his career. Fans waited eagerly for years between movies. Disappointed or not by what I saw, I know that there was great depth and thought into every inch of film he shot. There is so much to say about him as a filmmaker, that I could probably research the subject for years and still not understand his films or his process.   But I cannot stop being compelled and drawn to his work.   In November 2014, the Toronto International Film Festival, mounted a retrospective of his work at the TIFF Lightbox location in Toronto. I eagerly attended and was surprised by the mashup curation of the main exhibit.   I got a new perspective on the man and his movies and learned about some I had yet to see.   My show today is separated into two parts. The first takes place in the main exhibit. I sometimes compete with the cacophony of music that surrounds me, and try to provide a sense of how the exhibit takes you through his body of work.   The second takes place in a quieter section of the exhibit where various people share their opinion on select works by this master.

The Twins Costume from The Shining (Taken at TIFF Lightbox - Kubrick Retrospective)

The Twins Costume from The Shining (Taken at TIFF Lightbox – Kubrick Retrospective)

Listen here (53m24s) :

Download HotFRM222

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The subtlely distrubing statements on war and violence in Full Metal Jacket (taken at TIFF Kubrick Retrospective Nov 2014)

Our Precarious Lives – A Review of Frames of War by Judith Butler

Sunday, August 31, 2014 9:55 pm 1 comment
Im in war by uda dennie

I’m In War by Uda Dennie

It took me more than two years to get through this book. I put it down after page 42 in 2012 because of its dense content and academic language. I am a fan of Judith Butler because she has some unique and thoughtful ways of looking at difficult questions. In this book of essays, (some of which she gave as lectures), she is looking at how we frame war and violence to justify it and give it meaning. She touches on how the media manipulates our emotions to reinforce or create our sentiments. This is not a new idea. Of course we all know the power of propaganda. But she has more to say about how we frame the idea of war so that we can bear its negative affects.

According to Judith Butler, each of our lives is “…always is some sense in the hands of others”.  She points out that we are nothing but social creatures that depend completely on each other for everything in our lives. And she means everything. From the survival of each infant born to the food on our plates to the infrastructure that provides the food on our plates including the plates. Each of our lives is necessarily dependent on others.  She makes a case that our global social entanglement shapes how we view each other as human beings. Or not. Consider that she makes this observation:

“…war [divides] populations into those who are grievable and those who are not. An ungrievable life is one that cannot be mourned because it has never lived…it has never counted as a life at all.”

In a war where the one side (say Hamas) stores armaments in schools, community centres, and houses of worship, the destruction of those armaments means that the people in those places, be they children, women, holy men or teachers do not have grievable lives. Their lives have and had no meaning because they were already dead before they were born. They are not alive and never were. We may believe that the people in those places are being used by the enemy as human shields. Therefore if the enemy does not give their own people the status of living beings worthy of being mourned, missed or valued, why should anyone else? So the bombing of these places becomes justifiable. Butler makes the entire idea of killing ludicrous when seen from this point of view. She is coming from the position that all human life, all interconnected on this planet, is grievable. Yet,we divide the world into those who are worthy of being grieved and those who are not. Otherwise we cannot justify war and violence. In one of her many brilliant statements she writes,

“…war seeks to deny the ongoing and irrefutable ways in which we are all subject to one another, vulnerable to destruction by the other, and in need of protection…[via]agreements based on the recognition of shared precariousness.”

She goes on to assert that “[w]ar is precisely an effort to minimize precariousness for some and maximize it for others.”

Apart from these ideas and some interesting discussion of the impact of media and photography, the essays for the most part left me cold and wanting. I was distressed by her use of language. For example, she uses the word alterity at one point when otherness would have made her point much more accessible. There are also statements and ideas that I found completely incomprehensible. For example, I could not make sense of this:

“The point is not to celebrate a full deregulation of affect, but to query the conditions of responsiveness by offering interpretive matrices for the understanding of war that question and oppose the dominant interpretations — interpretations that not only act upon affect, but take form and become effective as affect itself.”

If you can decipher this, I’d love to know what it means.

I was also shocked that she actually used the (non)-word irregardless (page 178 for anyone that cares). I will give her the benefit of the doubt and consider that an incompetent editor or grad student made the slip-up.

In matters of our global attitudes to war, violence, hatred, and non-tolerance, accessibility of her ideas is important for real change in my opinion. I am not sure she is interested in changing the world so much as she just wants to explore it philosophically and for the fun of it.

frames of war cover

 

(note: this review, slightly edited, was cross-posted to Goodreads on Aug 31 2014)

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 221 – We’re Tall and We Play Music

Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:35 pm 3 comments

 

Matthew (frolick.ca) straps up.

Matthew (frolick.ca) straps in.

This week I caught up with a Brazilian drumming troupe practicing in the park for their summer season.   They call themselves MaracaTall. This is a play on the word maractu, a type of drumming, song and performance genre popular in Brazil. The twist on this Toronto troupe is that they perform on stilts. Their next gig is in Toronto at Harbourfront Centre near the Redpath stage 1:30pm on Canada Day Tuesday July 1 2014.

Listen here for my conversation with several members of the troupe:

Or Download HotFRM 221 (60Mb 31m:37s)

Here are some links to find out more:

http://www.maracatall.com/  – more pictures here

https://halacircusarts.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/maracatall/ – Hala’s site

http://www.frolick.ca/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJseNr10_ck- practice preview video

 

 

Hala warms up (halacircusarts.wordpress.com)

Hala warms up (halacircusarts.wordpress.com)

 

Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 219 – Artists Interpret Climate Change

Sunday, February 9, 2014 9:34 pm 2 comments
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Still from “Beekeeping for All” by Myfanwy MacLeod and Janna Levitt at the Royal Ontario Museum January 26 2014

On January 26, Special K and I were scheduled to participate in an event at the Royal Ontario Museum called Carbon 14 – A Day of Dialogue – The Changing Arctic Landscape.  The Arctic government and policy makers are very concerned about the changes they anticpate in the arctic latitudes and have seen over the last several generations.  As a prelude to this, I visited the exhibit Climate is Culture at the museum where I viewed installations inspired by climate change.  My podcast today is a soundscape of my visit to that exhibit.

0-1:09 – Intro

1:09-5:01 –  What is the Polar Vortex?  Andrew Freedman on PBS Newshour from Climate Central

5:01 – 23:54 – Soundscene at the Climate is Culture exhibit

23:54 – 29:30 – Heidi Cullen’s Senate Testimony on Climate Science

29:30 – 31:32 – Outro

Download at:  Hotfrm 219 (59 mb 31:32)

Listen here directly:

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Still from “Beekeeping for All” by Myfanwy MacLeod and Janna Levitt at the Royal Ontario Museum January 26 2014