02 December 2010

Bright is the night

Bright is the night
The moon by sea
Carnations, desserts and abandoned daughters
like dolls at birthday parties
Even in war there is always a celebration -
a chance to eat cake, slam doors
and uninvite friends

In a forest

in silence
teeth shine like stars
in the head of a soldier

v.k 2010

25 November 2010



Fifty years ago, when my father was a boy, 
old women still had bound lily feet
in the south, from a train window
mountains jutted heavenward like dragons' teeth
and fishermen-poets by the river like weathered parchment
Two revolutions to thank for this. 
Meaningless digging of a foundation pit.
Until the next chapter erases its predecessor
still. We hold.
and on.
To rivers. 

18 November 2010

Day 12- Stuck in transit - Artzines, Digitalisation of the Nation

The reason why I thought Andrei will be back on Friday may be more profound than mere absent mindedness. After heading to the wrong airport, he made it to the right one (in a speeding cab) only to be stuck in transit, followed by a five hour delay. One missed connection - equals a day spent in a dingy hotel room and a day late coming home. Oh the dramas of international travel.
So here is my TWELFTH DAY.

 Ed Ruscha | 2009

The artist book. These guys are devoted to the cause. There it is. Sigh of relief. 
Books and art are the only two things I really hoard. And postcards. Mix them together and you get brilliantness. I don't really care for the super inventive either. When I get my sweaty paws on an artists book, I   like to have text and pictures in the format of a poet's personal diary. Don't need to make Escher-esque or some kind of complicated architectural construct of old-growth forests pummelled into Japanese kimono prints with abstract typography. . 
I'd take PinCushion Pete's literally bloody drawings over that. The guy is a cockney nut job but there is no denying he writes well.
Pete Doherty

I love William Blake. My first real experience of English poetry was Blake, to see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower. This is an Arts Council (England) collaborative work. The future of books may be here.  

16 November 2010

Day 11 - you are kidding me right?

And you know what? I get to the ripe old age of 27, manage to graduate school and university, spend months abroad without money, I'm capable of paying rent, holding down jobs, organising dates, burying friends, I got married, had a child........ and I don't know what date it is. Andrei is coming home tomorrow, not Friday. I honest to God thought Friday was the 18th. *taps skull* the light is on but nobody is home. 

I've enjoyed thinking about art every day, even though I cheated twice and did double-bills on two occasions because I am more of a crammer than a regular worker. 
I'll end my 12 days of contemporary art on the eleventh day with a send off of assorted things I love and want to share, before running away in a panicked frenzy to tidy up for husband's arrival back home.

My tyosha (mother-in-law) always urged Andrei to make his art beautiful. He argued that art needs to wake people up. I think real beauty astounds, delights and rouses the soul from despondence and half-heartedness. 

bu-bye for now. I may add a 12th day just because I like religiously symbolic numbers...

image 1: Invisible Cities| Italo Calvino | (this city is named Anastasia, like my sister)

image 2: Communist jokes that only people of that weird borscht eating kind get. 

image 3: It's not cool, but I like Stalinist architecture. Stalin himself was a pizdetz. I also like photographs.

image 4: Absent-mindedly doodling stupid things.

image 5: Oscar Wilde fairy tales. An excellent read for those suffering from phenomenon known as baby-brain (that leads you to forget what date it is).

15 November 2010

Day 10- Moving Mountains, Francis Alÿs

On the home streak now. Two more days to go. 

Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Cuauhtemoc Medina and Rafael Ortega
When Faith Moves Mountains,

Born in Antwerp in 1959, Francis Alÿs moved to Mexico in the mid '80s, a time of great political unrest. His works deal with the place of art, of its poetic intention, in highly politicised situations - whether it be in border zones in Latin America or the Green Line in Palestine. Many of his works begin with a big idea and a small step. A lone man pushing a giant ice block through the streets of Mexico City only for it to melt - his visions speak of a kind of human perseverance in the face of political stalling, absurdity, and sometimes, of overcoming futility and disappointment. For his 2002 work, When Faith Moves Mountains, 500 people took up shovels in Lima to move a sand dune ten centimetres. The images recall a kind of biblical scene; desert, slaves banding together to see through an extraordinary task while under Pharaohnic tyranny. Unified, in their uniform of jeans and identical shirts, their individuality cast aside, moving as a single file, they are able to accomplish the remarkable. As one of the participants remarked during the making of the film, "...a group of people, on the base of their faith can do things that otherwise would be impossible. Something totally irrational." The recording was exhibited at Tate Modern earlier this year in a large scale exhibition of his works. Alÿs began recording the every day around Mexico City, documenting the lives of street people in slides, perhaps getting a taste for social justice causes and life's more serious questions. Though video work (his actions and their documentation) is integral to his practice, painting and drawing are also mediums central to his art.
You can watch his videos here.

14 November 2010

Day 9 ---- dedicated to emerging artists

I hate the term emerging artist. Really, you have to earn that strange chestnut of a title with a lot of blood-letting, rejection, sleeplessness, organ selling, prostitution, shit jobs, brown-nosing, flirting with buyers, anguish, doubt, parental disapproval, bullshitting, self-delusion... and in the end you are flavour of the month for three minutes (the average duration of both the art world's attention span and ... well...say a champagne-imbued emerging artist's personal triumph after a well-received solo show.)
Some, like the guys at Phaidon try to nail down the zippity zeitgeist with its publication Creamier -
you can bet the minute you place it strategically on your coffee table it becomes irrelevant.
Whatever you do. Don't stop being you. Make Art. Make it interesting.

Oh yes and if you have facebook and 30 seconds to spare, vote for me to go overseas and blog for Channel V. Search for Varia. Yes, that's me in the funny hat, slightly askew.

Day 8 - Ahmed Mater, Edge of Arabia

Playing catch ups again. I tell you what, I applaud those that have the discipline to write everyday. It's new to me and I like it. Husband is in Shanghai, seeing Chinese jazz bands at the Bund, I'm waking up at 9 with a 15 week old baby and drinking coffee like one of Chekhov's provincial ladies of leisure... soon I'll be whining that I want to go to Moscow and indulge in real so-sigh-ah-tea.

Evolution of Man |  Lightbox | H79.2 CM X W59.4CM | 2010

"Saudis do not believe in the theory of evolution. Like other conservative societies, they firmly reject Darwin’s theory on the basis that humans are perfect..."

Edge of Arabia is a group of Saudi contemporary artists of which Ahmed Mater is a prominent member. Mater was born in 1979 in the traditional village of Rujal Al-Ma’a in the lush green region of Aseer (to the south of Saudi Arabia) and was raised in its capital Abha. A jack of all trades, aside from being a qualified GP, he is a curator, a landscape photographer and the face of a large telecommunications company. He is just as well-regarded at home as overseas; King Fahad has opened one of his solo shows, while in the West, The British Museum has purchased his work.
Mater's work poignantly uses medical imagery to raise questions that trouble his society like suicide and oil, the effect of consumerism on traditional life and religious identity. Pain and society's sickness are expressed through X-ray here. His colours communicate vividly; stained sepia accompanies traditional Islamic motifs and text, the language of science and x-rays is coldly blue. There seems to be a nostalgia for the 'unstained,' a yearning for the time before commercialism drove the hoards from mosques to malls. In his series, Illumination, the X-rayed people long for the impossible - for their x-rays to show their humanity. The soul is to be found in the contrast to the x-ray-   the earthy traditional materials show the chasms between the languages of science and faith, faith and logic...

Illumination (Skull) |105 x 155 cm |Offset X-Ray film print, Tea, Pomegrenate, Dupont Chinese Ink and Watercolour on Arch Archival Paper |2009 

13 November 2010

Day 7 - Into the Void

Today it is bucketing down with rain. The continent has reverted to its primordial state; crawling with arachnids, mosquitoes with wet-gauze wings hum, moths beat at the windows to get in. It's like Gondwanaland, overgrown and green.
Will you let me cheat today and read instead my reviews of some shows for Next Wave 2010?
Failing that, I think you all should see (if you are in Melbourne) this show at Linden Gallery.

Into the Void: The Antarctic Kingdom of Gondwanaland
Wanda Gillespie

Rising temperatures have seen the unprecedented erosion of age-old ice along a mountain chain on the northern coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica revealing an archaeological treasure trove. Remnants from an instinct culture have been excavated and are now being reviewed and carbon dated by researchers at the Museum of London. The painstakingly crafted objects recovered from three initial archaeological missions suggest the culture may have been a precursor to such modern-day indigenous cultures of the South Pacific as Maori, Aboriginal Australian, Polynesian and East Indonesian. The uncovered objects can be viewed as the so-called ‘grandmother’ of present tribal art and share similarites in design motifs. Speculation abounds that this ancient culture may have developed simultaneously, yet independently of the dominant ancient civilizations in Sumeria and Egypt, and flourished on the lands of the southern super continent, Gondwanaland.

ceremonial swing, recovered from Queen Maud Land earlier this year
reassembled for Into the Void (by Wanda Gillespie)

The latest findings are beginning to challenge the belief that Antarctica has been under ice for a million years. The discovery of the controversial Piri Reis map in 1929 – a 500 hundred year old map which detailed the northern Antarctic coast from under the existing ice, was the first clue to this scientific inaccuracy. Geological evidence confirms that the latest date Queen Maud Land could have been charted in an ice-free state is 4000 BCE, raising questions about the map’s origins and established scientific ‘truths’ about Antarctica’s ice age.
It is believed that the oncoming ice age, with a revised date around 3500 BCE, played a tragic hand in eradicating this ancient culture. The majority of people, possibly the lower rungs of the society, (be it agrarian workers) are assumed to have fled the areas of Queen Maud Land prior to a major freeze. The relics, collected and reassembled here, are attributed to a reigning religious class; they enact a spiritual drama of perhaps both fear of the impending end and the desire for transcendence. Rudimentary skis were among the icy findings at the site. The nature of the design and the amassing of these objects at specific locations hint that these were produced for a ritual purpose rather than everyday transport. The position of their discovery, at a significant elevation, on the 70th parallel closest to South America, is crucial to the idea that the remaining inhabitants chose to propel themselves away from the earth that had betrayed them. A swing-like structure, again ritualistic in design, stood on the precipice of this chosen site facing a panorama of limitless sky. The standing hypothesis is that this was used as a device by the faithful to swing into the void of heaven and thus cross through the fabric of time and space, that is to say, cross the threshold of reality. Scholars have drawn links between the apparent voluntary suicide of these ancients and the doomsday cults of today. Further excavation at strategic points below the mountain will perhaps shed light on the fate of these lost peoples and whether they indeed experience a final transcendence. As temperatures rise, these initial objects may be the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of what is to come.

written by Varia Karipoff for Wanda Gillespie

11 November 2010

Day 6 - Dare I cover ceramics?

Whenever I couldn't sleep I used to call my boyfriend (now husband) and ask him very open-ended questions about ceramics - glazes, wood firing, reduction firings, kiln building. I'd be asleep in minutes. The verdict is out on whether it was his soothing voice or the subject matter.
Ceramic-based sculptures and functional pieces are our livelihood and I am needed to remain wide-eyed. No more bed time stories about blue celadon or copper reds.  In Australia, ceramics is an art that is slowly trudging after that 'cool again' craft revival - not tearing ahead into the Contemporary Art world as quick as say, taxidermy or crochet.  The craft art thing (the second time around, the first occurring after the industrial revolution) is again reactionary - against cheap mass production, faceless mega companies, instant gratification. Tarkovsky put it more profoundly when he said,
 Modern mass culture, aimed at the 'consumer', the civilisation of prosthetics, is crippling people's souls, setting up barriers between man and the crucial questions of his existence, his consciousness of himself as a spiritual being
Though I dare say the majority seem content to veer away from questions of spirituality to stitch their own retro owl toys or lino cut bambi to sell on Etsy.  Paper boat press has the kind of marketable cutesy craft ceramics that are coming to define the new craft art movement.
jellyfish installation coe & waito

The thing I have come to love about the ceramic world is for all its anxieties about whether it is a functionable craft or art is that it feels like a dysfunctional family. Even the title given to individual practitioners - potter, ceramicist, ceramic artist.... can be the subject of ridicule, debate, snubbing or more occasionally, fraternity.
So I won't deviate into discussions on art or craft but look at some triumphs of functionality, design and art for art's sake in ceramics.
Takeshi Yesuda | Squirrel-tailed Cream jug | White earthenware, with creamware glaze

Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, In a Garden 2010

Edmund de Waal is one of the artists who is using ceramics as the primary medium for eloquent installations that are high art. His work has been exhibited at the Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The artist is also a critically acclaimed author, here is his book The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

10 November 2010

Day 5- Ian Fairweather - Le Hermitage

Monastery 1961
synthetic polymer paint and gouache on cardboard mounted on composition board 144.5 h x 185.5

Australian painter Ian Fairweather (29 September 1891 – 20 May 1974) had the kind of extraordinary life story that demanded to be told in the form of (a now revised) biography:  From his days as a PoW after being captured by Germans in France during the First World War, to a prestigious art school in London and leading a wandering existence, his is a rich story. Perhaps the most important time in this man's life were the twenty years of solitary existence he lived on remote Bribie Island, off the coast of Queensland. Among the still, dappled trees he spent these last years of his life painting. In this way he reminds me of an ascetic monk, spending his days in quiet reflection, a kind of tanned and hirsute desert father, painting recollections in a rough shack with whatever materials he had on hand. Often he would paint on newspaper, an art conservationist's worst nightmare.  His work straddles abstraction, Aboriginal bark painting and Zen Buddhism, taking all his significant cultural and spiritual influences. The resulting work contains calligraphic lines which draw in and divide creating  an effect  almost like that of a church's stained glass. Suggestions of figures seem to emerge and disappear as on a spiritual plane, the dabs of coloured paint, asking for the viewer's contemplation and stillness. Often wavering between figurative painting and abstraction, Fairweather said, ‘It’s between representation and the other thing, whatever that is, and it’s difficult to keep one’s balance’. One feels that 'other thing' is a highly evolved sensitivity to the spiritual within the man. One story which has become almost as great as the legend himself. After WWII, in a kind of 'dark night of the soul'  he constructed a simple raft and departed Darwin for Timor, almost perishing at sea and making headlines in Australia. 
Ian Fairweather | Epiphany 1962

"Monastery may be considered a recollection of an experience many years before when the artist stayed briefly at a monastery near Beijing. He described it to his early biographer Nourma Abbott-Smith as a place of spirituality. He recalled that the snow outside covered the monastery while the inside was illuminated by hundreds of candlewicks floating in golden bowls, casting flickering shadows and softening the carved aspect of the statues. In a broader sense, as Murray Bail noted in his later book on the artist, Monasteryalso represents all monasteries, all contemplative silences and so summarises this serious artist’s obsessions." 
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

Day 4- Unreal Country - Ilya Kabakov

Day 4.
Well it is now day 5! So today is a double bill. I began this yesterday....

I am supposed to be writing an artist's statement for an exhibition this Friday. I thought I would share the artist's inspiration for her one of her major projects, The Museum of Lost Worlds. I myself  ran into Kabakov's work as a teenager on art camp, it was a working sketch for his 1999 work, Wings which moved me greatly.  It was a very linear, almost Da Vinci-like drawing of a winged contraption that quivered on the borders of invention and imagination. 
The art world is a dream world, a fantasy people live in, it is non-stop here. You make this exhibition in the art world, it is not reality. It is a very happy place because it is like a permanent dream, like jazz, non-stop, it just keeps playing.
Born in the Soviet Union in the 1933, Kabakov began his artistic career as a children's book illustrator which allowed him the luxury of dabbling in bboth officially sanctioned art and being present in 'unofficial' art circles. Now living in Long Island, Ilya Kabakov continues to create installation and sculptural works with his wife Emilia. Regarded as one of the most important Russian artists of the 20th century, he was the first living artist to exhibit his work at the Hermitage in St Petersburg. His work often contains a dualism - between what is real and imagined,  official and unofficial, arbitrary and non arbitrary. Often he will use literature to create an alternate version of history or reality as in his Albums ('70s-'80s) project , where he creates 10 characters to tell his life story because, in his opinion, nothing ever really happened to him. Much of his work attempts to grapple with his ideas on the birth and death of a civilization, the Soviet Union. The work below, The Flying Komarov (komar - mosquito), shows Soviet people, rendered in coffee-stain, old-book brown fly above their static housing, their confines.
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

From the album "The flying Komarov"

From the album "The flying Komarov", 32 sheets, sheet No. 7, 51,5 x 35cm

In an interview, he tried to explain his world-view to a confused American journalist: 
America is more reality, this is your hand, this is your head; and in Russia it is absolutely different. In Russia, I look at you and it is my dreams, my fantasy about you. And this is a general point, a general principal. Like in literature, we talk about reality, but it is not reality.

Ilya Kabakov (1999) Wings (How to make yourself better or how to become an angel)

You need to make two wings from white tulle fabric, using the same sketch that is appended to the project, and also leather straps for attaching these wings on your back and fixing them in place. After this, having stayed alone in your room (this condition is fairly important, for both the productivity of the impending activity, as well as for the avoiding undesirable reactions on the part of other people in the family) you should put on the wings, and sit completely without anything to do and in silence for 5-10 minutes, after which you should turn to your usual endeavors without leaving the room. After 2 hours you should repeat the initial pause again. After 2-3 weeks of daily procedures, the affect of the white wings will begin to manifest itself with greater and greater force. 

Kabakov creates rich back stories to his sculptural and installation pieces, layering fantasy and unreality and weaving a dream state of possibilities. The result is transcendence; the flight of the cheaply shod, reigned-in, coffee brown homo-Sovieticus above his State version of  Utopia. Ilya, an unabashed dreamer, creates a new, imagined, heroically-winged collective history for the Soviet people. 

08 November 2010

Day 3- A Return to Beauty - Andy Goldsworthy

After the bad taste of Sherry was left lingering in my mouth, I went to bed slightly befuddled and perhaps a little bit crushed by Art. Can tawdry entertainment be called art? Can a urinal? I looked to etymology, poets and thinkers for answers to what is art or at least, what was art. 

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truths, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned. The revolt of individualism came because the tradition had become degraded, or rather because a spurious copy had been accepted in its stead. [William Butler Yeats]

My husband called me from his "Ceramic Biosphere" in the Chinese countryside where construction dust and burn-off covers orchards with an inch of sediment. 
'Who's that Scottish artist who does ephemeral, site specific sculptures with leaves, icicles and twigs?' 
'Andy Goldsworthy,' answered the Husband. 
So I propose a change of traction. I will look at art which endeavours to return to  this original concept of heroic and religious truths. I am taking a departure from the 'spurious copy' we are lead to believe is art. The hollowness, lack lustre, empty individualism found in contemporary art. 

sculpture that uses the reflection of the lake to create the impression of a complete circle.
Icicle joined by saliva

If we are looking for a return to beauty we should start as far away from the artifice in art.  
Andy Goldsworthy, a baby boomer born in rural Britain worked as a farm labourer before going on to study fine art in college. He likens building a sculpture to picking potatoes, "...you have to get into the rhythm of it." An environmentalist, he creates works from the raw stuff of nature in its location using his bare hands, reeds, teeth and saliva to join natural materials in an extraordinary way. In their impermanence, his sculptures talk about the fragility of beauty and nature. There is a child-like wonder to his work which, through its seeming simplicity and readiness to astound the viewer, has turned off some critics. 
L. artem (nom. ars) "art, skill, craft," 
Goldsworthy's skill in gathering, arranging, balancing found objects is exemplary, it is both earthy and painstaking work, no wonder he compares it to picking potatoes. Photography is used to document the natural process of decay - the transient way of the environment. He has also created more permanent sculptures at galleries. 

"Movement, change, light, growth and decay are the lifeblood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work. I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials and weather, the earth as my source. Nature is in a state of change and that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather. Each work grows, stays, decays. Process and decay are implicit. Transience in my work reflects what I find in nature." Andy Goldsworthy

07 November 2010

Day 2 - The "Shit" Show - Ann Liv Young

Ann Liv Young as polyester-clad bitch, Sherry
Flipping through ARTFORUM (Sepetember 2010 issue) this afternoon I came across an article about performance artist, Ann Liv Young, better known as her belligerent,  exhibitionist trashbag character, Sherry. 

Sherry is not afraid to interrogate the audience on the extremes of their participation, asking one woman how she would react if somebody were killed on stage. She then demands to know what the woman would do if she were grabbed, hung by a noose and pulled up to the ceiling by "all of us." This prompted the show's booker to jump in in defence of the woman, joining in the free form, yet ultimately contrived drama as a bit player. Young's work is an exercise in extreme behaviour, attracting the kind of fearless deep thinking renegades who murmur, "this is modern art, history being made." And then they can go home and watch it again on DVD because Young records everything to sell as official merchandise. Non-conformists need to pay bills too it seems. An open-minded adult can choose just about any form of entertainment or self expression with other consenting adults, these days you won't raise much ire unless you are using animals or children in an exploitative manner. It will be a sad day when Young's provocative questioning loses its punch or when naked splits do not raise eyebrows anymore. We stand with one foot in the grave of outrage. 

Ms Young dances naked on stage as a naked, pregnant Snow White

Now, I was at the point where I was thinking, damn, a lot of modern art is shit while flicking through this magazine and here I was confronted with someone who, with the audience's help, smeared 'faecal matter' over a volunteer's white t-shirt. The irony of 'shit' art imitating art. Whether this boundary pushing, modern-day Sade is merely cashing in on cheap provocation is up to individual scrutiny. We don't argue about taste. Further enquiry revealed among all the dildos, naked handstands and dirt slinging is a deeper controversy (read below). I ask you. When a tacit moral obligation is not fulfilled, do we require a more rigid edict on protecting innocence? Our freedom of expression should not come at the cost of human dignity, particularly of minors.

"Those who know Ms. Young’s work probably assume I must be referring to some as-yet-unperformed (and perhaps, unimagined) sexual activity. Past performances have included vaginal penetration, penile ejaculation, and mammarian gesticulation. But no. Aside from some perfunctory nudity–Young and her cohorts (Isabel Lewis as “Gloria,” and Miguel Guerrero as “Thomas”) wore nothing but shirts and/or robes that splayed open revealing incidental glimpses of their breasts and genitals–there was no live sexual content to speak of. The scandal, for sure, was the inclusion in the performance of Ms. Young’s (and Mr. Guerrero’s) four day-old child."
Counter Critic - Ann Live Young: A Cause For Outrage 

06 November 2010

Twelve days of contemporary art

Alex Prager, Wendy, 2009, chromogenic print. From the series "Week-end." 

The premise is this, for every one of the twelve days my husband is in X'ian and Shanghai I will explore the works of a contemporary artist. Please feel free to suggest someone. Criticise or correct. I'm just thinking out aloud here. 

Day 1

Alex Prager, born in 1979 in the back room of her grandma's Los Feliz, CA apartment, is a self-taught, high school drop out whose photographic work featured  in this year's "New Photographers" exhibition at NY's Museum of Modern Art. Easy on the eye herself, her images depict heroines of despair and situations that exist in celluloid - a kind of shiny thread of angst and lust binding her series. The manner in which every image is contrived opts for maximum drama, desire, slight incredulity and a recalling of a past we all think we know but never existed. The candy '60s colours remind me of TV series Mad Men. Prager has slipped herself carefully into the stream of today's anxiety - the youngish art set, through misplaced nostalgia appropriate vintage dressing, imagery and objects d'art while living very squarely in the digital age.

20 October 2010


listening to Billie Holiday, sun is out. Baby is asleep. Osip speaks to my heart through silent typography. 

I don't remember the word I wished to say

 I don’t remember the word I wished to say.
The blind swallow returns to the hall of shadow,
on shorn wings, with the translucent ones to play.
The song of night is sung without memory, though.

No birds. No blossoms on the dried flowers.
The manes of night’s horses are translucent.
An empty boat drifts on the naked river.
Lost among grasshoppers the word’s quiescent.

It swells slowly like a shrine, or a canvas sheet,
hurling itself down, mad, like Antigone,
or falls, now, a dead swallow at our feet.
with a twig of greenness, and a Stygian sympathy.

O, to bring back the diffidence of the intuitive caress,
and the full delight of recognition.
I am so fearful of the sobs of The Muses,
the mist, the bell-sounds, perdition.

Mortal creatures can love and recognise: sound may
pour out, for them, through their fingers, and overflow:
I don’t remember the word I wished to say,
and a fleshless thought returns to the house of shadow.

The translucent one speaks in another guise,
always the swallow, dear one, Antigone....
on the lips the burning of black ice,
and Stygian sounds in the memory.

Osip Mandelstam

Crimea 1944

17 October 2010

thoughts from central asia.

my mama's cousin. some time in the mid '60s when they all relocated to siberia from central asia. The album where I got this foto was gifted to my mama for the christmas of '64 when they were in Abakan, Russia.

19 July 2010

record covers, made in the ussr

Monday nights suck. My husband is shooting Nazi Zombies on the Xbox and is about to cop a swift one to the side of the head from yours truly. I got real bored and started flipping through old records at home - I was duly impressed with some of the artwork on old Soviet record sleeves.

P. Tchaikovsky
Dances from the ballet,  
Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Conductor Y. Fayer

Voronezh Russian Folk Chorus
soloist M. Mordasova

The Cat's House
Story by S. Marshak, Music N. Aleksandrov

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils with Wild Geese
Selma Lagerlöf 

Voices of Birds in The Nature
(translation found in cover...) 
(a five lp set- first record - Birds of the Far East)

18 July 2010

photos from my sweetheart the drunk



Daphne fled from Apollo

she knew blood and foam
on bedding, screams accompanying
her birth, she prayed for laurel leaves
Transfigured into knotted branches,
Maiden hair to coarseness, skin to bark
to evade rape

But Daisy, my baby

The Metamorphosis of Daphne into a Laurel tree by Apollo
Charles Sims

16 July 2010


woollen cardies, hot tea, cool blue skies, silhouettes of trees

Best things about a dreary winter in the city

1. Melbourne International Film Festival - 
My pick? Deeper than yesterday a short film by recent VCA graduate Ariel Kleiman, it was one of only 2 Aussie films chosen for Cannes this year where it scored a prix. What's long, hard and full of seamen? Set on a Russian submarine, the trailer promises Slavic hot bloodedness, skinny guys in tightie whities and some even tighter acting.
Running in the Accelerator 1 program Saturday 31 July.

2. Reading. I like to head to the The State Library in my best nerd getup. There's always something to see and do. I like to breathe in the old tomes... mmm sexy.

3. Stay indoors and get crafty. Nikki Gabriel takes the nonna out of knitting with her high fashion patterns. I was the victim of many a Patton's pattern - my mum loved to dress my sister and me in matching outfits. Looking back though, wool is cool.

Bring back high tea, Devonshire Tea, a cup of Lipton with your best mate. Get to know your tea cups and read tea leaves. Get a samovar. Read stories while drinking tea in the misty cold, rugged up like Catherine on the moors. 
Go to a country town and sample their home made cakes and tea.

enjoy hibernating!
xx Varia