Saturday, January 31, 2009

About winter, books, escapism

I love winter, especially on a walk during a fresh snowfall, when tiny white dots twirl around and change the city into a spectacular winter wonderland. Cold months are also perfect for reading away, snuggled cozily in bed, while storms rage outside. Some books I've truly enjoyed:

Quartiers de Pamplemousses, a novel by Alain Gordon-Gentil, is a collection of stories told candidly by a teenager who grapples with a world of eccentric and lovable personalities. Gordon-Gentil writes with great economy of words, and sensitive attention to details. He brings out the absurd with humour and kindness. It was a pleasure to read the quirky things people do in Mauritius, things that I had forgotten, but now seem so precious and uproariously funny. I laughed so hard that I felt as if I was floating, you know that good feeling when your spirits are up. Some of the stories reminded me of Stephen Leacock's Sunshine sketches of a little town.

La révolte du pronétariat, written by Joël de Rosnay, a well-known French scientist with family ties to Mauritius, is a fascinating book that challenges us to look deeper into the internet revolution, the way it has democratized our information system, giving power to the mass, which De Rosnay aptly calls the "pronétariat". The book analyzes the positive as well as the negative aspects of the communication power we now have in our hands. Many ethical questions are raised, and their ramifications overwhelming, even scary. I'd like to believe that goodness of humankind will prevail, that we will use the web as a collective conscience to better our world. Vous pouvez voir De Rosnay parler de son livre ici

Mister Pip by Loyd Jones was another book that I read avidly. The story is told from a young girl's point of view. Matilda lives on a small island during a civil war, and finds a most unlikely friend in Pip, a character in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. Jones' novel is a tribute to the power of books. He takes us into the innocent, yet fertile imagination of Matilda who absorbs Dickens' story to the point where it becomes part of her life, guiding her through difficult situations while providing solace and hope from the horrors of war.

As we face the gloom of a sinking economy, deteriorating environment, ongoing wars, and our own personal problems, it's therapeutic to indulge in books as a form of escapism. Perhaps, while we're stimulating our mind, dreaming of happier times, who knows, creative solutions may sprout up.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sidespace Gallery Exhibition

Sidespace Gallery is holding a group exhibition titled Life in the Cemetery. I'm taking part in it with a few photos and a poem. Please drop by if you're in the neighbourhood.

Cemeteries have always been a mystery to me, a bit overwhelming with all the past lives they represent. For this project, I happened to be at Prospect on a foggy day. I felt as if I was walking into a giant cloud, its mistiness softening contours of scraggly branches, people visiting graves of their loved ones. It was eerie yet peaceful, a cemetery yet a pleasant garden to stroll by.

Invitation from Schuster Gindin, curator of Sidespace Gallery:

LIFE in the Cemetery

January 18 – February 20, 2009

Opening Sunday, January 18, 3 – 6 pm

Prospect Cemetery is the largest greenspace in our neighbourhood. It is a stop along the flightway for migratory birds. It is an arboretum where trees mature uncrowded, and expand to their natural shape. Within it are gravestones with slowly fading inscriptions, fading silk and top-heavy plastic flowers inclining toward the grass, a beech grove, stilled artillery and candles fizzled in the rain.

What here is transitory and what permanent? In a group exhibition of painting and photographs, artists consider life amidst the dead.

1080 St. Clair Ave. W