Tuesday, September 23, 2014

when your teacher is an ecology activist or whatever

It's all started like this:
woke up at 7:30 am, left M all alone, came to college to listen to cultural studies lecture, and the lecturer decided to dedicate it to global warming, animal extinction and the importance of preserving nature. i hate this type of mornings.
And continued like this:
regardless my point of view on these issues i want to say a big big thank you to the today's lecturer because oddly enough i left the building with a clear idea in my head what my essay will be about [...] i’m going to write about ivory craft and how it helps to maintain the population of elephants in africa!
And ended like this:
[in two words

if you want elephants population to grow, breed them like cows. here you can say that you're a vegetarian and don't want cows to be bred, you just want them to be left alone. but people are omnivores by nature, so not eating meet would be a step against nature. animals kill animals. and this is ok. this is how it always has been. here you can also say that while killing animals to eat them may be ok, killing them for aesthetic purposes is not. but the only thing that should matter is the end and not the mean.

we kill animals as any other carnivores animals do. but we're the only ones who can breed those who we kill. so let's just do it! duh.]

And here is my essay (well, a couple of key paragraphs from it really):
This essay addresses the social authority of historically ruling classes over the subordinate classes, i.e. the process  of  hegemony. I want to look at the intervention of the First World countries in the cultural affairs of Africa and China and its negative impact. More specifically, the ban of elephant hunting and ivory trade forced by the international environmental organizations, and how it leads to the complete eradication of the whole brunch of art, ivory carving.

Ivory has always been the symbol of wealth in Africa. After the trans-Saharan trade route was established in the 15th century, North Africa became one of the main ivory suppliers in the world which played an important role in its economic development. Thus, not only Africa developed its own national art practice, but it has also made a great contribution to the development of ivory carving throughout the whole world especially during the Gothic period and Baroque era.

As a result, the population of elephants in Africa significantly decreased. Recently, the international environmental organizations such as the World Wild Foundation and Greenpeace addressed this problem by lobbing the ban on ivory trade and elephant hunting. Since the ivory trade sanctions were introduced, prices on raw ivory increased in arithmetic progression, the First world countries such as America, Britain, France and Japan are attempting to completely close their domestic ivory markets. New rules will ban import and export of ivory, and make it harder than ever to sell. It has further compromised the existence of ivory craft in Hong Kong. 
Seated in his workshop where he has meticulously transformed elephant tusks into intricate ivory artwork for four decades, Wong Cheong-lam knows the days of his craft are numbered. 
"I'm the only one left," he sighs, looking around the workshop where six carvers once worked [...] "Ivory carvers usually do not have much education" he said. "It is too late for them to learn another skill and doing other odd jobs will barely make ends meet."
Meanwhile, the elephant population in Africa dropped even more since the elephant hunting ban was enforced. 
In the states of Africa where the ban was introduced, the illegal ivory poaching has only increased. For example, the number of elephants in Kenya dropped from 65,000 to 19,000 between 1979 and 1989, the number of elephants in Zimbabwe increased from 30,000 to 43,000 where elephants were legally sold and private ownership of elephants were allowed, and the private owners of the elephants provided all the security to the wildlife to prevent poaching.
Kenya banned elephant hunting in 1977. Poachers subsequently butchered the herds, as supervision of the animals also declined with the loss of revenue from hunting. In less than two decades, Kenya's elephant herd went from 150,000 to less than 6,000. Botswana, in contrast, permitted big game hunting, and in the same period of time, their elephant herd has quadrupled.
  1. Subsequently, the ban led to the gradual decrease of the traditional ivory craft practice in Africa and China, as well as made it impossible to successfully develop the contemporary ivory craft.The dependency in one field and the exploitation in others show that the hegemony process and neo-colonial politics continue to deprive countries of their artistic heritage as well as the economic growth.
  2. By prohibiting ivory transactions western culture continues to oppress African contemporary art practices and replaces it on the international art scene. All the aforementioned sanctions prevent Africa from competing on the world market with finished goods and services, i. e. ivory crafts and wild animals hunting. Nowadays, Africa's role in the world economy is imposed by West and can not yet go beyond. The sanctions are also the reason why the ivory carving as an art branch is ceasing to exist in the developing world.
  3. The fact that we are now in the situation where the political authority dictates the evolution of the art practice, and where the contemporary art is being shaped by the bureaucracy instead of artists themselves is a serious problem. Instead of letting artistic expression be the primary drive behind the art we are faced with a situation where the political bureaucracy has a similar if not a bigger part in the contemporary art practice and its role in the public realm.
  4. All art is inherently political and while making a political statement by creating a piece of art is healthy, to be dependent on the authority and allowing it to dictate the medium means surrendering the agency as an artist to the political class. It makes one question the whole art system, its political independence and integrity.
  5. The only way to get rid of the problem is to stop intervening in the weaker states affairs without the understanding of their mentality, ethics and traditions. Otherwise, the intervention may only be in the interests of the interveners and for their own gain.

In conclusion, it becomes obvious that there is something else hidden behind the so-called help the West is persistently trying to enforce. Because what the world has now, after all the sanctions were imposed on ivory trade and elephant hunting, is the degradation of the ivory craft threatened with complete eradication, further decrease of the elephant population, steady increase of the illegal ivory poaching and continued existence of the neo-colonialism. As well as uncertainty in the integrity of contemporary art in the developing countries and the whole world.


Monday, September 15, 2014

So this book is for my two friends, and millions of others like them

I have ADHD, and sometimes (all the time) it makes my life (and M's life) really annoying (just unbearable). Normally, I watch a movie in 2-4 sessions. When drawing at home I need to take breaks all the time. I can work in a studio for 5-7 hours straight though, however only under stress. But one of my main frustrations is reading books. While I read news and articles all the time I'm online (and I'm usually online 12/24), I find it extremely hard to concentrate on a book. I can read a 200-300 pp book for weeks, no matter whether i like the story or not (and I happened to like 90% of books I read). However, oddly enough, I almost never have a situation when I can say "I'm not reading anything at the moment". There is always a book I started weeks ago and haven't finished yet ha haaa :/ 
But despite all this I genuinely like reading. And I'm not willing to feel guilty about my  of reading speed and a short attention span I happened to have. I don't see my life without reading and always have dozens of books in my reading list. But yeah, my relationship with books is complicated. The only nice thing about it I can think of is that I'll never run out of the best of the best in literature and will always have something to read.
We are all from different countries. We have our own cultural heritage, our own ethnic background. Which means all of us have certain fields of interests and hobbies to read about, and our own number of classics to add to a reading listsThat's why I think of books as something intimate and don't talk about them as often as I talk about movies here (or anywhere actually). However, today I wanted to talk about a couple of books which are not as popular as I'd like them to be, and I don't understand why.

I'm talking about the elegance of the hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (ok, this one is quite popular but mostly among French). It's a French novel about a girl from a wealthy family named Paloma (who tells you straight away that she is going to kill herself on her 13th birthday), and an old concierge lady living in / working for the the families from the same house. I absolutely enjoyed it from cover to cover, and when I looked through a couple of reviews on goodreads, I was confused: all I could see on the front page were one star reviews. I already started doubting myself when I realised that the arguments people used against the book I'd use to actually advertise it!

  • The two main characters [a 12yo girl and an old lady] are hypocritical snobs who accuse others of snobbery. Have you heard of Daria? What about Aubrey Plaza? They both are 10 out of 10, and Paloma is just a younger/cuter version = awesome! The concierge rocks as well.
  • Actually, the concierge and the 12 year old girl sound pretty much alike. The characterization is that thin. ... This is one of the main points of the story? ... 
  • Asia and Asians are characterized as "mysterious". Because they always were and always will be (in the most polite way, of course). I mean, it's obvious that the author just fancies them very much! There is a lot of admiration of Japanese/Chinese culture in the book.
  • It’s not clear why, in all 12 years of existence, I’ve never discovered a friend, teacher, neighbor, or relative who might complicate my unilaterally dark feelings about humanity by actually having some positive qualities. If you're a teenager from a showy shallow family who has to go to school full of children of same qualities, and you don't hate most of people around you, there is something wrong with you.
  • In fact, I spend so much time sounding intellectual that, except for my melodramatic suicidality, there’s little hint of the fact that, emotionally, I’m really just an early adolescent. Sounds like a perfect combination to me.
  • Also, readers accuse the author in name-dropping when she lets her characters talk about philosophy. This remark made me especially angry. Just thank this 12 years old girl for giving you a quick lesson in philosophy and widening your vocabulary and relax!

Anyway, I had a great pleasure listening to (and had a lot of sympathy with) a little hater and know-it-all twelvie. Moreover, I found the book quite anti-socialist, so it's all good. There is also a movie based on the book but it lacks so many details that it's really impossible to understand what is going on if you haven't read it yet. It's a nice illustration to the book though.

OH WAIT, can I just quickly draw your attention to Paloma's impressive collection of striped shirts and checkered pajamas?

* * *

The second book (it's a 10 pp story in a book of short stories, to be precise) I'd like to mention is a perfect day for bananafish by Salinger (you can easily find it online). I'd also like to be short with this one: this is my absolute favorite story of all time. Three years ago I showed it to M and made it one of his favorite stories too (regardless the fact that he doesn't like Salinger that much). It's a story about a deeply sad man, with his extroverted young wife, and 3-5 yo little girls (whose company he enjoys way more) as supportive characters. It's only 10 pp long but there is so much happening in this story, you won't get it until you read it several times.

[When you grow tired of catching all the nuances, you can read this review, the lady mentions some important moments there.]

Well, that's all I had for today. I guess, the reason I write about all this on the internet is that I simply don't have anyone around to discuss these things with, so I end up talking to myself and then write it all on my blog to get it out of my head. Plus, some people message me from time to time asking about books I read / movies I watch / music I listen to. So, everyone benefits in the end, right? Anyway, hope you all are ok.

Till next time! (◡‿◡✿)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

movie reviews! AGAIN

Three MUST SEE movies about mentally ill girls and psychiatric hospitals.

G O D   H E L P   T H E   G I R L (8/10)

(I downloaded this teaser right after I watched it)

Recently, there was a film festival in Auckland, so M and I decided to check out at least a couple of movies they were showing. The movie I suggested was an indie musical directed by Stuart Murdoch (Belle and Sebastian) himself. Basically, it is an adaptation of the songs by the band God Help the Girl (aka his side project). GOD I LOVE THIS MOVIE. It became one of my favorites right away. I was v quiet when we left the cinema analyzing what just happened and broke into speech as soon as we ordered our dinner. We were talking and talking about all the thoughts and feelings the movie evoked.

Eve is a girl with emotional problems who's getting a treatment in the mental hospital where she constantly trying to run away from and pretend that she is not ill.

I'm bored out of my mind
Too sick to even care
I'll take a little walk
Nobody's going to know
I'm in Senior Ward
That gives you a little free time
I'll just use it all at once
Took the fence and a lane
The bus then the train
Bought an Independent to make me look like
I got brains
I made a story up in my head
If anybody would ask
I'm going to a seminar

[This song is also very very important (like every song in the movie), go and read the lyrics (i need to print them out and stick them to my wall)!]
  • I love how Eve stays a girl even though she is going through so many mental / health problems (severe depression, anorexia) and just pour all her emotions in the songs she writes all the time making them her diary.
  • I love the costume designer! I've never been so impressed. I want all these clothes (except for creepers. yes).
  • I love how Stuart goes about the storyline inspiration: "a better summer, or at least a summer when something happened".

  • And I also love his description of Cass, another main character:

Cass is 16 going on 17, is into dressing up (especially berets), playing scrabble by herself in cafes (right hand against left) home baking, and feminist literature. She has a dog called Captain, and she rides a tandem bike that her parents bought her in the hope she would make a friend... She has opinions on most things, though most of them are pretty wonky.

Another issue raised in the movie is never ending problem of two people in love when one of them wants to move on (uni, career, LIFE) and another doesn't want anything to change. Although, I never faced this disaster myself, I'm very concerned about it for some reason.

But anyway, enough said. You simply need to watch this movie. I think, it's already in cinemas. Except for US. The release date in US is Sept, 5.

*  *  *

G I R L, I N T E R R U P E D (7/10)

(The trailer is very good)

Another movie about mental institutions. But this time, based on a true story (autobiography to be precise) about a girl who was sent to a mental hospital and spent there a year and a half surrounded by the girls who unlike her do need help.

Susanna: I didn't try to kill myself.
Dr. Potts: What were you trying to do?
Susanna: I was trying to make the shit stop.

Why I like the movie:
  • All the girls are different. Each one is ill in her own way but all of them are so real, there is no shallow characters in the movie. They are in no way just superficial labels, they all have personalities and are interesting to watch.
  • Always-was-always-will-be-cool Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie hamming throughout the whole movie.

  • This quote from a review: "The most striking and yet most frustrating part of `Girl, Interrupted' is that everybody that's been 19 years old can relate to Susanna, the main character".
  • And this one: "there is nothing actually wrong with [Susana] Kaysen, except that she is a typical teenager, and refuses to conform to the life her parents want for her. However, after spending some time with her ward mates and numerous doctors, she starts to believe that she is insane, but can't understand why or what exactly is wrong with her."
  • And also this (you rock, mom): "My eighteen year old daughter and I went to see this movie last night, it was excellent! A must see! Even though I cried through the whole last hour of this movie, it was not a sad film, but a lifting of the human "spirit"!"
  • Everyone made parallels between Girl, Interrupted and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest because, yes, the movie was made this way. I don't know many (any) examples when writers / directors change the male characters to female and it turns out to be good but this movie is an exception. And the good one.

Sorry for the picture quote but this is the most obvious reference to Ken Kesey's novel ("It still made me smile a little to think about it: I have to keep on acting deaf if I wanted to hear at all") I found.

Susanna: [narrating] Have you ever confused a dream with life? Or stolen something when you have the cash? Have you ever been blue? Or thought your train moving while sitting still? Maybe I was just crazy. Maybe it was the 60s. Or maybe I was just a girl... interrupted.

*  *  *

R U S A L K A (or   M e r m a i d   2007) (9/10)

One of ten(?!) absolute must see Russian movies. Furthermore, this movie is one of the best movies about girls ever. You must find English subtitles and watch it watch it watch it!

This is how it sounds in English:

Her name was Alisa, she lived by the sea. Her life was pretty ordinary. She dreamed about the ballet, sang in a children's choir and studied at a school for the mentally challenged. At the age of six she stopped speaking. At 17 she moved to Moscow and at exactly 18 she met Him. and disappeared. That sort of thing happens all the time in the big city.

When I was 11 (or maybe 12) and watched the movie for the first time, I became obsessed with it. I played it on repeat for several days and then showed it to Mom (she never liked it (like 99% of movies I showed her)), and then to my best friend with whom we painted the DVD with copic markers, that's how we liked it!

It seems like every one who watched Rusalka and write about it thought of Amelie:

"Amélie Poulain in Moscow ... however, "Rusalka" goes farther than "Amélie", openly showing that City is not only a place of romance and unexpected adventures, but in fact a get-together of very very lonely people who find each other to remain alone."

I hope you enjoy the movies! Or maybe you already watched them all which is also v cool (you have to message me your thoughts on them)! Have a nice weekend, everyone! (=^・ω・^=)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

american beauty / ginger and rosa / white oleander / wasabi

can you send me this list of your favorite movies about girls?

I can, I even can write little introductions to each of them, and this is what I'm doing now, because I want to introduce to people as many movies worth watching in this "genre" as I could, especially when I was asked to do it. And I'm happy to do it :)

[ I'm the kind of person who enjoys watching somebody's (especially girls') stories, to observe their behaviors, to mark their oddities etc. That's why I can rewatch movies countless times without getting bored once they become my favorites. I like to literally "learn how to live" from the protagonists of this movies. I'm a bunch of girls. ]

  • These four are about the girls' and their fathers'/mothers' problems

a m e r i c a n   b e a u t y

There was a girl

she had a kind-of-friend-but-not-really hot classmate

she also had a father

and her father had a vivid imagination (and a mid-life crisis)

Both daughter and her father go through their own crises. And even though the father was being all "today is the first day of the rest of your life", he was the one who failed to escape. And the girl didn't seem trying at all. We all had this phase of depression when we were just a big *sigh*, absently watching the world and skeptically waiting for something to change. And often it does change. For Jane Burnham this change happened to be a weird neighbor guy with a passion to...conceptual art?

And even though it's obvious, that 5 oscars, 93 wins and 74 nominations goes to the movie not because of the "a girl dealing with her life" part, but because of the "a middle aged father with a mid-life crisis who is also craving sex with his daughter's classmate" part, it's cool that it got so much attention. It's always nice when the film is two sides of one coin, i. e. equally perfect for both teenage girls and adults.

P.S. There is one message in this movie which i don't like. When Angela, the Hot Girl, says "I don't think that there's anything worse than being ordinary". I disagree. There is nothing wrong with being ordinary. Ordinary people are cool, they don't fall over themselves to seem so enigmatic and stuff. They just err live? accepting everything as it is, feeling ok with their everyday life? We'd better learn from them to appreciate simple things, sometimes it really helps to make your life a bit happier.

g i n g e r   a n d   r o s a

First of all: Elle Fanning (she was 13 when she played 16 yo Ginger, and got 2 awards for this role. she is just a ball of emotions in this movie and all are so accurately performed)! And then, it's London, 60s, two girls trying to figure out how people live in this world. It's just so comforting to watch their friendship blossoming, and intriguing to follow its brutal decay.

The reason of everything falling apart... society's fear of the future, confusion, never ending pro-peace movements? All this absorbs two not-formed-up-yet girls. And while one of them stays a father's girl interested in politics and anti-war organisations, the other girl, Rosa, chooses love (which also means craving sex with Ginger's father).

While one girl chooses to grow up, trying so hard to become a desirable woman, another girl stays a child, letting adults (her new elder friends as well as family friends) influence her interests, taking the events of 60s very seriously, and helplessly watching her dad's affair with her 16 yo friend. She is not ready for any of this. The movie is somehow similar to American Beauty, only there is more girl's than father's feelings are shown (which means -100 points to public attention), and the friendship between girls i(wa)s real.

P.S. the colours!

w h i t e  o l e a n d e r

Aghh, I want to rewatch this movie.. Ok, sorry. So, this movie has a tagline, which is so accurate, that all I'll write below it, will be just paraphrasing of this one line: Where does a mother end and a daughter begin?

It's a very strong, powerful movie about mother-daughter relationship, where the mother is an absolute leader with her daughter, Astrid, as a subordinate, who feels no need to free herself, and then can't figure out how to do it, asking her mother to let her go.

Ingrid: No! No, no, no. You don't just walk away from me. I made you, I'm in your blood. You don't go anywhere until I let you go!

Her mother, well, a truly smart and strong woman, goes to prison for life after poisoning a man who betrayed and humiliated her (this kind of women doesn't forgive) at the very beginning of the movie, leaving her tamed daughter to a child support center. For the next ten years Astrid moves from one foster family to another trying to find herself, but her mother still doesn't let her go.

And it's a really sad situation. You have a strong worldview and a couple of good life principles to share with your daughter, but you are a bad teacher if you fail to teach her to create her own world where she is the protagonist.

w a s a b i

One of my favorite movies ever! This, and another two movies (Kill Bill, Memoirs of a Geisha), instilled a love of Japan in me when i was a kid. It has so many aspects, and it's SO fun to watch. I rarely love funny films, but this is Luc Besson, so it had to be good. And it is good.  Japanese 90s pop culture overlaps the "old Japan", police still fights yakuza, a japanese teen, Yumi Yoshimido, loses her mother and is left to solve all the mysteries, and find her father whom she saw and knows nothing about.

Yumi Yoshimido: I never spend more than I have.
Hubert Fiorentini: That's a good principle.

I actually mentioned her in a post i wrote a year ago (!bad english alert!). She was and still is my ultimate hero. I beg you to watch this movie when you feel like watching action-comedy about 90s-00s japan.


Ryôko Hirosue aka Yumi Yoshimido from Wasabi

Saturday, April 19, 2014

p e r s o n a l m e s s a g e

i promised some very nice anon to update my blog today. and asking me to update my blog is one of the most effective ways to make me write more here.


Personal message are the first and only guys in my life whose "pictures with words" artworks i really like and appreciate. truth is, i was surprised to realise how many artworks i downloaded while scrolling backwards through their blog. 

because, usually pictures with words on them...

...are never any good.

but these guys are completely different. they're funny, they're witty, they're sarcastic, and they never want to teach you how to live. they just make you feel things.

these are my absolute favorites:

p.s. i and M are on holidays in japan (M didn't want to miss cherry blossom + we had to pick up 80kg of our stuff from our friends and transport it to new zealand somehow), so if you want pictures, you're always welcome to my tumblr / instagram.

have a nice day/weekend/spring/life you all! (❁ ˘ ◡ ˘ ❁)*✲゚*