Thursday, 26 May 2011

Empty Galleries in a Post-Postmodern World

In a post-postmodern world there is an empty gallery, full of signs that describe concepts for intangible art. People come to the gallery, read the signs, then sit surrounded by empty walls and contemplate the ideas that lie within.

The "art" world now belongs to philosophers and the term "artist" is considered outdated and trite. And then, one person does something outrageous and paints a picture, without a concept. People flock to this anomaly and try to make sense of it. "What does it mean?" They ask. "How do we see it without knowing what it is?"

Monday, 23 May 2011

From Michel Foucault

"If man did not imperiously close his eyes, he would finally be unable to see the things worth seeing."

Michel Foucault
From: A Preface to Transgression

My Musings..

It's hard to find an exceptional teacher, because it's hard to find an exceptional person.

My Musings..

I dance to the beat of my own drum. Some might think I can't find my own feet, but I know I feel music all over the street.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Buses & The Badass Elbow Brigade

This morning I sat down next to a relatively slender woman on the bus, thinking I'd get an easy ride. As soon as I sat down, she shoved her elbow out and all but winded me, and she stayed in this position for the whole half hour trip.

As much as this annoyed and puzzled me, as I tried to ignore the bony elbow shoved up directly under the right side of my rib cage, it didn't completely surprise me. It's the forth time this week that it's happened. I understand that it's hard to share a bus seat at times, having never owned a car, I've surfed more than my fair share of the public transport wave. However, surely it's not that big a leap of empathy to see the fairness of sharing the other side of the seat with traveller number two?

It makes me wonder what this lacklustre reception to bus seat sharing stems from. It is an increasing wish for personal space or territory, in a city that's growing more and more populated? I hardly think so - look at Asia. From personal experience, when I was in Thailand and Malaysia a few years ago people were crammed into buses and train carriages and didn't much mind sharing their - and my - personal space. So maybe it's a cultural thing? Australia does have more wide open spaces, and an expansive skyline, after all. Perhaps this translates in to expectations of a wider circle of personal space per person in public transport.

I quite like public transport. It's cheaper than a car and I get an extra half to full hour worth of sleep in the morning (if I'm lucky enough to get a seat). Sometimes there are those wonderful moments when you have a connection with another person while waiting for the bus or when someone hops up and gallantly offers their bus seat (there is still romance and chivalry in the world). Even in angry big and scary cities I've seen these moments happen many times.

So I suppose the elbowing phenomenon shouldn't come as a surprise. This isn't my first encounter with the eager elbow brigade either. I've noticed it a few times in the last few weeks, mornings mostly. I tend to fall asleep after about five minutes on the bus and not wake up until my destination (like clockwork). But this morning I was distracted, and awake.

While travelling between France and Spain I spent six hours on a nighttime bus, next to a effervescently cute, but completely hammered Spanish boy. He didn't speak English, I don't speak Spanish but he shared his music and his smile with me. If not for this connection, I would not have known where to leave the bus when I got to my destination. He nudged me to tell me that this was "San Sebastian". I also think that he just wanted to get out and drag deeply on another cigarette.

When my friend Danny and I first flew into Malaysia a few years ago we were exhausted and I was overwhelmed by sights, sounds and the general strangeness of everything. Two days later we were waiting for a train, our weary backs resting up against the slightly slimy cold wall at a train station in KL, to take us to the border of Thailand. We weren't the only young travellers sitting around, patiently sharing peanuts. With us was a young Swedish girl, Malin, that Danny got to talking to. I was too overwhelmed and sat reading the guide book (not yet the 'seasoned' traveller I like to think I am today).

When the tardy train finally arrived Malin sat with us in our third class carriage and over the eight hour trip through bone clattering hell, we made a pact to meet up at the Full Moon Party at the end of the month. And we did, and it was awesome, and six years later I met her and stayed with her in Sweden. Not to mention the other Swedish girl we met through her, who stayed with my friend Kat and I for three months in 2006. But that's another story...

You know that moment, when the person on the inside of the bus seat you're sharing moves slightly, but deliberately against you, and you brace yourself to get up at what will potentially be their stop? Well I felt that this morning, and then she (the elbow lady) made another movement as if she was going to arise from her hallowed seat, but didn't. So I asked, "Is this your stop?" and she haughtily said no and harumpted. That sound one makes when displeased. I smiled, and inwardly rolled my eyes.

So perhaps my lovely (loosely speaking) bus companion of this morning was one of a kind, but I feel a sense of loss for her. There are so many whimsical and entrancing moments I've had on buses, planes, trains, ferries and in shared taxis. Not to mention standing in shelters and waiting for never arriving buses. It's a connecting feeling and it reminds me of the links I share with the people around me. I'm not standing on the outside, in my metal bubble, looking in to the world. I'm in a sardine can of emotion, leaning against my seat buddy as I sleep my way to work each morning. Who wouldn't want more of that?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Cockatoos & Captured Moments

I’ve been using writing as a tool to express my emotions for a while now. The first poem I remember writing and being proud of, was one about cockatoos in an umbrella tree, like the tree outside my parents’ house in Queensland. My brother and I use to play in the cubby house under that tree and swing precariously from the lower branches, challenging each other to go higher and higher until one of us piked and the other won. Both of us elated, yet relieved that the challenge was done.

I must have been about nine, when I wrote it.

Writing with emotion can be a tightrope between poignancy and verbose rubbish. I often wonder which side I’m on. It’s harder with poetry than prose. Words are slippery and often twist away from the meaning that I attempt to capture.

But then, why do I use the word “capture” to describe meaning through words. My purpose is potentially emotional flight and freedom through wordy expression. Some cultures believe when you take a photo of someone, you capture their soul. I wonder if people see my soul through my writing. Or if they just see bad writing.

There was a small group of young kids living in the houses that surrounded the park near where I grew up. It was a fantastic space for creation and play. We would race each other across the green and yellow grass poking up through moulds of dirt left by torrential rains in summer. I can’t remember ever winning a race. One of our favourite games was tying each other up with ropes and pretending we were horse and rider; seems a bit savage now. We made a circular coral out of large sticks. No one ever told us not to touch sticks. We’d be at this for hours, until the light faded or we realised as one that we were hungry and arrived, filthy and sweaty in some poor, unsuspecting parents house, searching for snacks.

We rarely went to my house for snacks, as we were all somberly aware of the peanut hunt substituted for lollies at my last birthday party. This most recent matronly transgression on my mother’s part had not assisted my social standing with the local kids.

I was a quiet and contemplative child. Sometimes I would spend an hour bent in silent contemplation of a lizard sunning or an ant at work. I don’t remember many moments of pure joy. I remember feeling intensely about things, and sometimes even now I remember a thought I had back then, as intensely as I must have felt it at the time. Though these grow more faint, as the years go on.

When I capture collections of memories like this, it reminds me of how much time I had then, and the freedom to explore and use each day to its full potential; although, I perhaps didn’t feel so free at the time.

I don’t know what happened to the poem about cockatoos. It was written in one of my many journals, most of which have sadly disappeared over the years. Perhaps when we try to capture memories, like words and pictures, they too eventually disintegrate, are forgotten or fly away.

Monday, 16 May 2011

My Wings The Drum

I feel as if my wings were clipped the moment they unfurled
My head is spinning, my body is still.
My hand shaking to the beat of water drumming on the window sill.
I feel the throb of the city; its soul pounding out a rhythm I can dance to
And yet, I am so still.

The winds of change are strong now, when once they were so subtle
I barely realised the transformation, before I came undone.
Just one step and I will wake, walk from the rain and step into the sun
One step and I begin to run.

I draw breath into my lungs, one step and I begin to run.
Breaking sunlight shines through me, piercing my skin
I hold my arms out wide, to catch the flowing tide
The city beats beneath my feet, and carries me along

I listen for the muted beat of the drum.
I know it won’t be long.