Earthquake Bird. Eeerie

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Earthquake Bird is a movie directed and written by Wash Westmoreland. It has been released at the London Film Festival on the 10th of October this year. It tells the same story as the book Earthquake Bird, written by Susanna Jones.  In spite of its negative reviews and average rating, I found this movie inspiring and unsettling in an artistic manner. Right from the start, a heavy atmosphere, a sense of peculiar and tension floats in the air. The streets of a 1980s Tokyo, the faded colors with a tint of sepia transported me directly into the movie. Alicia Vikander’s character, Lucy Fly, is surrounded by an air of tragedy and guilt that accumulates slowly and stimulates curiosity. Her acting is excellent and throughout the movie she divulges fragments of information and secrets that build up this dramatic aura around her. In one of the scenes, where Lucy is with Teiji, a Japanese photographer that is equally as mysterious as her, she exclaims: ‘Death follows me!’. This proves to be a strong statement that defined her past, but also a prediction about the path of her relationship with Teiji.

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Lucy Fly is a complex character that has definitely not been explored enough. She is an introvert person that carries an overwhelming feeling of guilt. She escaped Sweden to forget, to start anew, but she never managed to do so. Japan was supposed to be her second chance, but bad luck followed on her footsteps to the new, faraway land. Lily, the new girl in town, vibrant, naive in a way, but also a bit mischievous, is the opposite of Lucy. She seems to be quite superficial at the beginning, and Lucy considers her a burden. However, she somehow manages to get under Lucy’s skin. She starts to reveal details about herself, but everything is cut short by a speeded up twist and her being suddenly murdered. Her character is and could have been more complex, but the director chose to keep her as a standard antagonist, a woman who simply betrays her friend in search for intense, momentary passion. During her friendship with Lily, Lucy has an amalgam of mixed emotions towards her. She starts to like her as a friend, she is intrigued by her energy, by her contrasting persona and is at the same time, subconsciously fantasizing about closer, physical touches. All these contradictory emotions are mixed in the end with unbearable envy and Lucy’s desire to kill Lily. The intolerable urge to have Lily removed from her and Teiji’s lives stems from the fact that Lucy considers Teiji to be the only person that saw her for who she really was and Lily is a threat to her connection with the photographer.

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Teiji, the photographer that documents the scenes and objects in the city and nature, maintains that he does not photograph people. He starts taking photos of Lucy and brings her back to his small studio apartment in an old, rusty, rundown building. His creativity, his silent nature, his good looks, his special enjoyment in photographing Lucy charm her. Teiji requires from the beginning that there be no pretense between them. He is a mysterious character that does not reveal much about his life. He definitely does not like small talk and is extremely private about his collection of photography. Lucy seems to be a photographic object for him, not a real person with feelings and desires. He is more stimulated by her images in the dark room, rather than by the real Lucy. He keeps all his photography in a locked drawer, which suggests that he is hiding either some dark secret or puzzle pieces from a traumatic past that he would rather dump in a locked drawer, but also in an imaginary, sealed safebox inside his mind. Teiji is a criminal and his photographs document the transformation of the victims, the paths of the murdered women and their final grimace and body posture after they have been murdered. Teiji murders Lily and only his sudden shift in passion possibly saves Lucy’s life. The movie cuts short any explanations or details of Teiji’s murderous instincts and motives.

 

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The love triangle between Lucy, Lily and Teiji is part of  a plot that blends in several spicy themes: love, shifting passion, twists of life, betrayal, guilt, death, murder, art, bad luck and peculiar circumstances. In spite of the fact that the second half of the film is rushed, and that the characters could have been developed more, the beauty of the scenes, the photographic facial expressions, the passive, faded warm colors, the eerie mystery, the build up of tension sprinkled with random, shocking exposes, the black and white photography collections, the old film camera, the rhythm and sound of the camera clicks, Lucy’s dark, timid and shaky personality, her longing for company, for love, her submissiveness to a tall, dark, mysterious and cold stranger and Lily’s unconstrained nature make up an exquisite, dreamy movie.

 

Fancy Pantsy and Company!

 

 

 

Bubble wrap,

Wrap your head

In tin foil and fish oil!

Cook your smile

For a little while

In scented candles

Cinnamon sticks,

And all that crap!

Bourgeois baloney.

Swim in a whim

Become a shark’s fin!

4D, 10D, 107 million D

Immerse yourself,

Forget the spirit.

5G and a pumped-up

Steroids-full, plastic-looking geezer.

His name is Deezer

Just swallowed

A few dozen of Hello-Kitty

Fig-wine flavoured Xanax.

The Rhythm of ‘Requiem for a dream’

Causes anxiety

Women wanna be equal

But women wanna be slim.

Your grandma’s underwear,

VR, trendy HR

Neurotic creatures, empty-headed ghosts

All those highly functional

Individuals.

Zombies, feeding on residuals.

Ingesting, digesting, dependent on

Life coaches, hogwash success stories

Drown in consumption.

Too much information,

The pace is the race!

Forget the assumption

That life is deduction.

Goods and goals

Kill our souls!

Yayoi Kusama: All about love speaks forever

As a lover of art, I am still a beginner. I am a person who does not know the latest, the most trendy art currents or the most avantgarde painters, the most creative urban artists or the darkest, most mysterious sculptors. That is because I like to enjoy the art itself and not the name behind it. In exceptional cases, when I am emotionally touched by art, I make an effort to know the person behind the piece.

I always appreciated art and considered it one of the most amazing and worthwhile human endeavours on Earth. When it comes to art I lose every bit of realism I might have and all I want is the realm of pure creativity, dreams, obscene thoughts and provoking feelings. I love art so much that I can always discover parts of myself inside most pieces of art. The hard part is to find the most relevant parts of your being in other people’s art. Art speaks to me, but to be honest, I only remember or try to engrave on my brain the names/ figures that impress me the most. And they are, but a few. 

Last week, I stumbled upon an exhibition of Yayoi Kusama. I knew nothing about her, but after wandering through the exhibition ‘All about love speaks forever’, I wanted to know everything. I discovered a quite well-known Japanese artist, whose art pieces communicated directly to the realms of my dreams and connected to the various life forms of my fantastic kingdoms. 

Who is Yayoi Kusama? She is a 90-year-old contemporary artist, who was born and raised in Matsumoto, Japan. For a period of time she lived in the US and exhibited her pieces of art all over the world. She received various prizes in Japan and the US and played around with distinct forms of art, from sculpture, painting, to film, fashion and poetry. Her name seems to weigh a lot in the contemporary world of art. But fame matters nought to me. I decided to get to know the woman behind the art because my curiosity got the best of me and my interest was stimulated by the vivid colors she used in her paintings and by the intersection of a multitude of art forms in her installations. 

 

Personal Interpretation of her artwork:

1.The colors she used in her paintings and installations remind me of animations and make me feel like I am walking or living inside a dream become reality. The similar face shapes that predominantly appear in the paintings remind me of lucid dreams and somehow of the multiplicity of beings I experience in life, of my alter egos.  

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2. The world of the ocean combined with the terranean world. The strong yellow of sun, the light, the force of life with the deep, strong blue of the sea, the night, the dream. A fantastic cohabitation of terranean creatures with sea creatures and mushrooms. Yayoi Kusama’s paintings made me think of hallucinations at first. I seem to be right since I read that she played around different magic mushrooms and all sorts of drugs to produce her artwork. 

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3. A recurring theme in movies based on fantastic lands and in animations is the land of giant flowers. These colorful, breathtaking plants appear as a piece of heaven on Earth. That is until these giant flowers open up and reveal themselves to be a threat to humanity because they are carnivorous flowers. 

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4. An enormous octopus-like creature extends its dotted tentacles to form a labyrinth of imagination in a yellow world. What if the world was a giant octopus and survival meant meandering and running through the constantly moving tentacles? Sounds like a horror movie created by a Pointillist artist. 

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5. Reflections of lights and self in a never-ending mirror room. The mirror room is a finite space, quite small actually, but creates the illusion of infinity of selves and space. Quite like the inside of a human being. 

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6. The human brain on drugs or the realm of optical illusions or a 90s’ music disco club after unusual mixes of strong alcohol. Reflection of lights and self, mirrors and dots are signature marks of Yayoi Kusama. 

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7. The artist singing a poem composed by herself. It is a performance created and curated by Yayoi Kusama. The stage presence of the artist, strong colors, dots, the orange wig, the playful mixture of song, poem and non-verbal gestures, brings us to a world of fantasy tainted by the recurring sadness of reality (sadness creeps into Kusama’s world through the title: A Manhattan suicide addict)

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8. Reflections characterized by a fisheye effect. The multitude of selves and others, various dimensions of reality exposed in mirror-like dots. Theme: You only see yourself as reflected in the eyes of others and of the environment around you. 

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The skill of procrastination


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This morning, I saw a job ad.

Like all the other job ads,

Like yesterday’s job notification,

Received by email.

Sinking in a bathtub of:

Skills, capabilities, abilities

And the sort

Hard and soft

– What can you do for us?

Personality, emotions

Creativity, uniqueness

Useless.

Praise yourself?

Advertise your skills?

Package your persona, neatly!

Desirable skills:

Teamwork, communication, organization

Leadership, problem-solving

Meeting deadlines, flexibility

Describing aliens

Peeping into neighbors’ houses.

Ups, I got carried away!

 

Don’t have them? Next!

Mass-production, conveyor-belt

Possible job seeker no. 249.

And while I adore the sound

Of abstract sounding donkey-dust skills

I, myself, am the queen of procrastination.

Here’s to my leadership skills of:

Peeling oranges, cutting potatoes

Collecting postcards, gazing at the stars

Spreading butter on toast, window shopping!

I had a dream last night:

Every newspaper’s headline was:

“The coolest job of the 21st century

Requires…..tadam!

The skill of procrastination!

Welcome to my kingdom!

 

The fantastic life of the absurd

 

 

Imagine an all-encompassing society

A ridiculous one, for that matter

So absurd, so out of this world

Even ludicrous stories would stop

And stare!

The most preposterous happenings

Would choke

And swallow nervously.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Fluffy, flying mini pigs

In airplanes, and cars, and subways

Ruling countries, being leaders.

Because it’s the year of the pig, after all!

Fair and smart pigs would commit

To a society of the animals

For the animals.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

You, offenders and criminals!

Obey the chain of command!

Walk on a leash,

Do house chores

Help the poor

Live a life of silence

Submit to your master!

You, helpless house pets!

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Art, colors and cubism

Are the new currency.

We trade in oil paintings

Sketches and charcoal pencils.

Cash, banks?

All gone!

We trade in beauty, and imagination!

We all get to share!

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Fat, slim, white, Black

Short, tall, fit, or not

It’s all the same.

No rules, no stereotypes

No ethnicities, no beauty standards.

A meal’s nutritional value

Got into a fight

With the good looks of models and actors.

They both lost.

They vanished.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Bookshops and libraries

Sprinkle and twinkle

In their new roles

As therapists and psychologists.

-For an anxiety and stress-free life

Please, step inside a book, or two

Become a character

Deconstruct your body, your mind

Run in the wild

Of stories and poems

Come back, anew!

 

 

 

 

New Year’s resolutions or how I lost myself

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This is a story of regression and confusion. This is a story of lost paths, mistakes and blind choices. This is a story that does not have a happy end or an end at all.

01.01.2019: I woke up startled that morning and I knew that 2019 is just an illusion. Measuring time was invented by human beings and thus, 8 changed to 9. Because I was conditioned to live by the rules of society my brain acknowledged the coming of the new year. However, I wasn’t about to start making an interminable list of crap with what I want to achieve in the new year or add new fantasies to the all too popular bucket list. It is absolutely unrealistic because you just don’t know what life throws at you everyday. I used to believe that the unpredictability of life is awesome because it does not allow you to settle into routine. I was ,thus, convinced that all you have to do in life is adapt, be flexible and go with the flow. Just see what happens, and go with it, a bit like in Daoism, or a lesson we might have learned from Don Quixote. Do not fight the windmills, do not go against dao, against the path! Just flow with the river ,and nature in the direction they dictate. That sounds about right, nope?

Well, not really. Not for me, at least. I was startled on the first morning of January 2019 because I was lost, and I started to analyze myself and view my entire life under a microscope. I had a great life so far, full of exceptional, happy moments, intense emotions and various experiences that included both gratifying, but also extremely hard and challenging occasions. So far, so good! I lived my 27 years of life by, somehow, following this principle of ‘the path’, following a kind of invisible line that life opened up for me. But all of a sudden, it just didn’t work anymore. It took me places that I didn’t want to be at, it made me travel dark routes outside and inside of myself. After graduating from my master in Belgium, my journey as a responsible adult was supposed to start. Taking into consideration that my family invested financially and emotionally in transforming my being into a succesful and happy adult, I believed I was somehow guaranteed to get there. I mean, I did very well in school, university, master, I managed to be by myself and organize everything in various foreign countries, I had amazing, smart friends, I was creative, clever enough ,and I got involved in the occasional volunteering or other artsy projects. I considered myself motivated enough to achieve what I wanted, I believed I deserved it because I was a good, kind and empathic person that somehow decided that she wants to contribute to other people’s wellbeing. But who was about to contribute to my own wellbeing? Well, everything started to spiral downwards. I just couldn’t find my way, I was struggling in the dark, I was lost at sea. Choices to make, career goals, what job to pursue, where to live, who do I wanna be, what are my desires and most of all, how do I balance what makes me smile and feel good inside with this new-found responsibility to sustain myself financially, and be responsible for myself and my adopted dog? I just couldn’t find any answers at all, and life was crushing me.

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I wish I could say I found what I was looking for. But I didn’t. I can just say that I struggled with being an English teacher in Shanghai, a tourism lecturer in a university in a 3rd tier city in China and a tour guide in Turkey. Now I am back in Shanghai, doing a second master because I still haven’t found my path or I don’t have the courage to wander in the dark aimlessly. I don’t have resolutions for 2019 because I need to learn how to function again as a human being in society. I need to start again, by being a baby, a child, a teenager ,and finally an adult.

I lost my motivation ,and determination to fight and achieve what I want in life.

I am lost at sea, I am just floating endlessly, I am reading too much, watching too many movies, reflecting too much and feeling like a wreck, a failure. I keep wondering where did I go wrong? I mean, where did I lose my real self?

The self that desired to travel the world for a year or two and discover, discover, discover ….without plans or too much money? Well, I am afraid to let go and just travel. I am afraid that I will lose out on precious work experience to add on my CV when I am away on my year travel. I am afraid that I won’t have enough money and I will get stuck in the middle of nowhere, broke and vulnerable. I am afraid that I will spend money that otherwise I could have used to do something else with, like saving to be more financially secure.

I want to become a writer and publish my poetry ,and maybe in the future, short stories or a novel. Am I doing anything to achieve that? No. I am afraid to send any of my work to any publication or contest. I am not confident enough that I have what it takes ,and I am so scared to get rejected.
Where do I want to be? In a middle-sized European picturesque city where I could draw inspiration for my life, and poems just by walking on the streets and breathing in the spirit of history. I want to be able to admire the exquisite, old buildings touched by lives lost and lives yet to come. Where am I? In Shanghai, a giant glass-like city, full of impersonal skyscrapers, commercial shopping malls and ugliness.
I want to be economically independent, and have a job that fulfills me. What am I doing? Well, after a year of looking for jobs in various places and not finding anything suitable, getting rejected too many times and not even discovering what exactly I should be doing, I am now doing a second master in political theory. Gosh, I don’t even wanna do that, but I am too scared of not having anything to do at all. And I am so disillusioned with politics and leaders. I have always been. It is a pain for me to analyze and learn about political systems because I can only see failures in them, just like I see myself now.

I lack self-discipline and motivation, I eat too much and I even put on 10 kilograms since I have come back to Shanghai. I am highly disappointed with myself and it is hard to admit that ,by my own standards, I have become a failure. How can I say that? It is painful and I don’t know where it all went wrong. The hardest thing right now is to start addressing all these issues. And sadder than everything else is that I am clueless.

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There are too many doors, and choices in front of me or maybe not enough. I remain numb, and unable to open any of them. I have this recurring dream where I have to run away from this terrible, bulky man, who wants to hurt me and touch me. I am in a fancy mansion that has never-ending rooms and doors. I always open too many doors and I see theatre-like scenes full of everything that one can imagine. The horrible man can never catch me because we always choose different doors. What to choose now? In my dream, I never stop opening doors and exploring rooms until it’s time to wake up. I would appreciate any comments with advice or suggestions!

Stories and histories

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. These antiques live down at Mu Lan Warehouse, a two hours away trip by metro and bus from the center of Shanghai. Spiced up by layers of dust and erosion, by dirt and hundreds of engraved fingerprints, they routinely inhabit an old, covert secondhand store in a space forgotten by the fast pace of the big city’s hustle and bustle. The spirit of these objects’ previous owners live on through them. The lives, stories and trajectories of their owners are deep inside the core of the antiques. At the same time, these broken down, malfunctioning and in a way ‘dead’ items tell a story of their own existence. They have a life of their own and possess an acting energy, a life force to call it so, that exercises an influence on owners. Of course, the owners had an agency of their own that guided the trajectories of the objects.

In a material culture world, these articles are more than lifeless things, they are actors that impose their will on people and spaces. What might their stories and histories be?

Their beauty and uniqueness lies in the dust that covers them, in their cracks, in the faded paint, in the fingerprints that touched them. Antiques have soul or a multiplicity of souls that can touch your inner self, your life, your space, your house. They come with a vibe that bounces back and forth between past, present and future. Antiques kick ass in comparison to new, mass-produced, hollow items.

I don’t want to make a case about how sustainable it would be if we were to adopt these antiques and give them a new home, instead of buying new articles all the time, whose production requires the use of too many resources!

But let’s imagine the stories of the antiques  in the pictures!

Female silhouette frame:

The deceased Mr. Weng Zhou purchased the object at a flea market during a business trip to Beijing on the 12th of September 1955. He hid it in a secret compartment of his brown leather suitcase and never revealed it to anyone. When he got back home to Guangzhou, in the middle of the night, he locked it up  in the drawer of his desk. He was fascinated by the female silhouette, attracted by its shapes and by its apparent nudity. He imagined its nudity, he played with it. Every midnight he would slip out of his matrimonial bed and go to his desk, take out the female silhouette, gaze at it for hours on end and get lost in imaginary scenes of passion and perversion. His wife was a shy lady that never wanted to experience anything new in bed and had a totally conservative notion of what their sex life should be. The female silhouette incited Mr. Zhou’s and his midnight fantasies made up for his wife’s lack of imagination. When Mr. Zhou died, his children inherited his possessions and decided to get rid of the ‘useless’ decorative objects. They frowned when they found the female silhoutte and threw it in a bin never to talk about it again. The female silhoutte was meant to burn with a pile of rubbish in an incinerator outside of Guangzhou. However, the antique collector, nicknamed Tintin (yes, like the Belgian comic book character) rescued it during one of his collection journeys and brought it back to his Shanghai store.

 

Broken typewriter:

My name’s Jack the Ripper. I killed a few, but I also gave birth to a few…books, satires, novels, poems, letters, newspaper articles, love notes, etc. My keys moved with the speed of light from morning ’til dawn, at very  odd moments. I slept very little, if at all. I never took a rest and I almost never had time to replace my ink. My life was long and painful, whereas my friends, the poor paper sheets, were regularly doomed, destined to die as soon as they were picked up by my master’s fingers. During my entire lifetime, I gave birth to 3 novels, 4 love letters, 12 break-up letters, 3 satires, 55 poems, one nonfiction book and a bunch of newspaper articles. Should I be content? I killed, ripped, cut the throat and abdomens of other 113 letters, 12 novels, 5 books, 89 poems, 27 love notes and 43 newspaper article. I am surely an innate murderer. Despite, my life was nothing but miserable. I fretted the writing pace of my master, he struck me down various times, he tossed me in the middle of the room, he threatened to burn me and terrorized me with abandonment. He poured whiskey on me, he smashed glasses of wine on my keys, he took out the letters he hated,  he punished me for his writer’s block and every second day he would pathetically apologize to me. He liked to call me “The industrial-strength machine” since I was highly resistant to his constant abuses. I felt more like ‘Jack the ripper’, guilty and full of shame. Of course I wasn’t psychotic, but one day I couldn’t take my master’s temper anymore and I broke down for good. He put me out angrily in the middle of the road, hoping that a car would run me over and smash me into little pieces, However, his will was not to be. It so happened that Tintin saw me when he was crossing Wuding Lu, picked me up and took me to his antique store with the taxi. I get peace, company and a lot of affection from visitors in the store. Look, I was even given  a voice by a visitor and now hundreds of people will get to see me and know my story. Boy, I am happy!

Can you imagine the stories of the other objects in the pictures?