Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Creative vibes in Toronto

Today, I soaked in the creative energy of Toronto. Checked Contact, the Toronto Photography Festival. Loved the public exhibits in St Andrew and St. Patrick subways. The photographers made a strong and dramatic statement by doing a series of photos which repeat similar elements. Gu Xiong's series of portraits, I am who I am, show proud Chinese Canadians, their adaptation to the Canadian culture emphasized by comments written at the bottom of the photos in Chinese, French and English. Stephen Waddell did a series of pedestrians going up and down a set of stairs, and it's amazing to see that something so mundane can bring out the personality and beautiful movements of each person. Stephen Gill's Lost series show people asking or looking for directions. It's extremely effective, the way he captures the expressions and body postures which say it all, giving the familiar feeling of yes, we've been there. Ryerson's collection of historical black and white photos at BCE place are priceless. From Jackie Kennedy to the Civil Rights demonstrations, these photos impress more than history in the mind, they bring out the emotional connection to that time.

Tonight, we went to a poetry reading of Frank Giorno, a friend of R. The Gladstone's long room facing Dufferin Street was packed. The Lyricalmyrical press was launching six poetry books. It's inspiring to hear these talented writers and to see their work in handmade books. They're one of a kind, individually bound in different colours. Fifteen dollars for all that work seems like a bargain. Well, they're only about 20 pages but still. I don't know how small presses like these make money but I admire the publisher Luciano Iacobelli, his dedication to writing and writers. I was surprised to see a book by Bruce Meyer, one of my U of T teachers from four years ago. When I talked to him, all I could think of was this erudite man's incredible knowledge of classical literature, the way it spilled in the class with such enthusiasm that one had to be quick to catch them all. He's written twenty-three books and yet he's going with a small publishing company because he loves the handmade book.

I'm excited about the artistic vibes I feel in Toronto these days, as if creative juices are really churning in this city, their driving force beyond the limitations of financial gains.

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