On Masculinity and Relationships: “When I’m Alone”

andreev

I’m pretty sure she fucked her ex at a wedding once. I mean I can’t be sure but I think that’s probably what happened.

When she’s away I wear the same pair of underwear at least two days in a row. I throw a little party for myself in the kitchen with a bottle of wine and I cook food that I know I won’t have to share. I always thought, Why does dad make spicy food when mom’s gone? Why does he cook steak?

            When we first got together (yes it was summer, and yes it was humid, and yes the light on her face through the lace curtains in her room was dappled and soft) we would talk about how we’d never cause each other any pain. We would talk about how we should never leave the bed and we would wish we never got hungry or thirsty. We would scrunch up our eyes and wish we never had to get up to go to the bathroom.

            She goes away on business sometimes or to visit her mother in Vancouver. I don’t know what she does while she’s there. I send her text messages and ask her what she’s doing. But I don’t tell her I’m sitting by the kitchen window eating a whole pizza, getting drunk and chain-smoking to reruns of Seinfeld with my laptop on the table.

            The two of them went to this wedding together and it was no big deal because we’d just spent a whole week in bed wishing we didn’t have to go out to buy milk. Now that we live together, I think about it. Some time I’m going to ask her, Did you sleep with Bryan at the wedding? (I won’t say fuck him, I’ll ask if she slept with him.) Or I’ll say, I know you slept with Bryan at that wedding. 

            I always clean the apartment before she comes home. She brings it up when we fight, that I don’t ever finish cleaning the place. I’ve always got laundry to do and it takes a long time to vacuum the carpet. I’m usually hungover so it takes more time than I thought it would.  

            Once she’s back, I apologize. I ask her how her trip was and I make a salad or pasta for dinner, then we eat in front of the TV.

              When she’s home I go out for walks by myself.

these words by Sandy Martin were inspired by the colour of Alex Andreev

On breakups: “Almost”

rivet 1
word by Hannah Chubb
colour by Stephanie Rivet 
 
I don’t care what anyone says, it’s the almosts that hurt the most.
breakups 
It kills me to watch this go down the drain.
 breakups 
You must have dipped your tongue in ink before you said those three words because I can’t find anything strong enough to erase those eight letters. My mind is black and blue with thoughts of you and my sclerae scream red because I can’t categorize these feelings I have for something I may have just created in my head.
 breakups 
You were almost there.
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I have no label for you and it hurts because I need to know that I’m not delirious and that my feet were on the ground. I swear to god I remember yours being there next to mine because your shoes were too-white and the left one was always undone and I just wanted to tie it back together for you but I didn’t know how to say it.
 breakups 
I almost told you.
 breakups 
I swallowed a different brand of turquoise pill than you did and I never knew why but maybe that was the problem. Mine came on a shelf and killed the pain while yours was handled by grimy hands crusty with tangerine-tinted drugstore lipstick and made you feel anything at all. You always swallowed more than you should have but I let you because I didn’t even know that version of you and maybe you never wanted to know me anyways. I guess I’ll never know if you wanted me to stop you.
 breakups 
You almost felt like reality was enough.
 breakups 
We never held hands but we spoke in colours and sometimes you walked me home at night. Your mother never knew my name but your roommates sure did because your yellow walls were thin and your voice is loud when you drink enough to drown the monsters in your skull. I swear I could have slayed them but our time ran out too soon.
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You almost asked me to stay.
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I almost did.
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Your mother should have named you Almost because I think that’s all you’ll ever be. I can’t stand you and your stupid razorblade tongue of promises slicing down my already raw throat. I think I belong up North because my head is a messy Aurora Borealis of the colours you used to turn my skin before you left and everything around me turned to black. I tried to be your fuchsia sky but you never told me you were colourblind.
 breakups 
I am a catastrophe of colour aching for the comfort of canvas, but darling, almost is just never enough.
 

 

Motherhood, Work: “On Her Bike”

word by Cora-Lee Conway
colour by Michael Ward
michealward2

I watched the late afternoon sun cast shadows on the structures in my eye’s view. Dark, distorted silhouettes danced on the wall in front of me and I let myself be drawn into the hypnotizing sway and I closed my eyes. You know when you close your eyes and turn your face towards the sun, all the colors you see in the darkness? I closed my eyes for just a second.
  motherhood
I was so tired, physically and then some.  It was hard raising Maggie on my own, it was a constant struggle. Looking for free everywhere: food, clothes, programming… I worked so hard and it never seemed to be enough. I was determined that she would have everything she needed, I was just determined, period. She had just turned six and all she wanted was a bike.
  motherhood
After seven years of working in the increasingly defunct catalog department of Sears I saw children come in with their grandparents to order gifts of all sorts at all costs. Some of the kids were sweet, some were brats and some engaged in full body melt-down tactics of manipulation and subterfuge. So when my pudgy-fingered baby girl asked me for a pink bike for her birthday I was not inclined to refuse. I just didn’t know how I would make it happen.
  motherhood
I managed to get her into some religious charter school on a scholarship and that was no small feat, but then the uniform costs and the regulations about school lunches and books and extra-curricular activities all came fast and furious. I have a high-school education, but a PhD in working the system; I appealed on compassionate grounds for reprieve, looked for more funding and sometimes I just had to say no. Maggie never ever complained, she never made me feel bad; so when this issue of the bike came up I felt compelled, as a mother. I rarely succumbed to the pangs of consumerism but I was completely vulnerable here.
 motherhood
I worked a six am start shift in inventory and then nine to three on cash in order to pick Maggie up from school every day. One of the school’s resource teachers picked her up in the mornings and took her to school. It really takes a village. So after school, like every other day, I was inordinately tired. At the supposed to be tender age of 27 I had developed permanent bags under my eyes, and I hadn’t purchased a pair of shoes for myself in five years. Maggie wanted to ride her new bike after school. I picked her up from school and she had taken off her little short-sleeved button-up and a huge mustard stain graced her brand new tights. She was happy to see me and happier still to see the bike I picked up from home. I was late and all the other kids had long since gone. She peddled up and down, her gap toothed smile and loud giggle echoing in the street. I closed my eyes, heavy with exhaustion and lost myself for a just a second. 

“Two Faced: On the Consequences of Beauty Standards”

proppe

“Two Faced”

The secrets of a woman’s mind are written in the details of her face.

Look closely.

Every expression, every line, and every crease has a tale to tell. They grow and change and multiply, just as the years do. Then, why is it that when I look in the mirror, I am consistently dissatisfied with what I see?

The root of my dissatisfaction lies in a variety of pubescent acne scars that have yet to fade; in the darkened circles under already dark, deep set eyes; in the thin but unmistakeable wisps of hair, around the corners of my lips and at the base of my nose, that bridge my eyebrows together.

I look in the mirror and I see an amalgamation of imperfections arbitrarily plastered together.

But there is a rawness in the way I choose to present myself. This amalgamation of imperfections is unassuming, unforgiving, and unafraid.
This is how I present myself to the world—this is how my story takes shape.

Why, then, is this what I am taught to dislike about myself? Why is this what I am taught to find fault with?

Every expression, every line, and every crease has its own tale to tell:

These acne scars are battle scars. My skin is my armor; tattered and trampled on, it shields my inner vulnerabilities and insecurities. These scars represent the years I spent hiding, covered in layers of foundation and concealer, failing to realize that beauty is more than skin deep.  These scars represent my development and growth, on both a physical and psychological level. While it is still imperfect, I’ve grown comfortable with my skin, in my skin.

It is often said that one’s eyes are the windows of the soul. Well, my soul shines out through them—they open wide, and bright, with excitement. Other times, these eyes are tired, showing exhaustion from late nights and sleep deprivation.
They crinkle when I laugh, just as tears pour out of them when I cry.

Hair grows relentlessly and freely all over my body—and, why wouldn’t it? Am I not human? Am I not alive and healthy?
Hair is the not-so-subtle reminder of my humanity, of my autonomy and my ability to choose. It can be both liberating and restricting, depending on how I choose to tame it.

My mouth is the vessel through which I articulate my thoughts; it is the vessel through which I express my emotions. The corners of my mouth curl up when I smile, and turn downwards when I am unhappy. It is with this mouth that I say, I love you, and with these lips that I let you feel and believe it.

The secrets of a woman’s mind are written in the details of her face.

Look closer.

Look deeper.

word by Fiona Williams

“The rawness of the artwork by Proppe caused me to reflect on how I view myself, particularly in light of the beauty standards perpetuated in the mainstream media. Whereas the female figure in Proppe’s art is depicted without inhibitions, I reflected on what I constantly find unsatisfactory, and then why I am unsatisfied with what I see: the immense amount of pressure we feel to be beautiful.” 

colour by Rebecca Proppe

“I’ve been making art my whole life, drawing story books and cartoons since I was a little kid. Now I’m an adult, and I still love to draw.

I’m currently studying art history mixed with some painting and drawing classes. Like most people I don’t know where my life will take me after graduation, all I know is I love art in all its forms and will be making it for the rest of my life 🙂

I hope some of you can enjoy my art as much as I did making it.”

 

High School Visionaries

randeecrudo2

Rebecca Platt is and continues to be a member of an unrecognized but nonetheless elite club: Senior Superlative Actualization.  Rebecca Platt’s Willstown High School Class of ‘12 voted her Most Likely to Find The Meaning of Life.  As senior superlatives go, Ms. Platt’s was considered one of the more unachievable ones, along with Most Likely to Steal the Statue of Liberty, which Damon Quinn has still had no luck with.

The Class of ’12 had no good reason to believe that Rebecca was going to Find The Meaning of Life.  This is because Ms. Platt is as dumb as a doornail.  For example, she is known around Willstown High as the girl who infamously commented, ‘Is this Pennsylvania?’ on Hank Wiley’s photo in front of the Eiffel Tower.  She has regrettable tattoos.  E.g., a trail of generic lips runs down her oblique and beneath them reads, “Christ Was Here.”  Her fridge is empty because she spent her $300 monthly allowance on a Sun Conure, which she named JFK.  And with no additional money for a cage, JFK has been shitting everywhere.

It’s a boring story of how Rebecca Platt came upon The Meaning of Life.  She didn’t have a vision; there was no beam of light.  What it was was a series of mundane events that gave her some insight into the way the world is.  It happened on her 22nd birthday.

Rebbeca Platt was on the subway to work.  She sat across from a woman whose triceps were loose flaps of fat.  The man next her said, ‘Happy Birthday, Beth.’  ‘What?’ Beth said, leaning closer; she couldn’t hear him.  Beth was a mirror for Ms. Platt that day.  Fifty or some odd years separated them.  Beth’s arms were in some metaphorical sense a signpost of what Rebecca had to look forward to.   Ms. Platt imagined herself with her own flaps of fat, her own hearing aids, and sensed that she was deteriorating, nearing the end of her visit here.  Everyone has a Beth, and Rebecca observed that she could either neglect her eventual decay or accept it.  So she decided to bow to her mortality instead of avoiding it.

The subway stopped.  ‘Someone on the train needs medical attention.  We appreciate your patience.’  Work started in ten minutes and if Ms. Platt were late again she’d be fired.  Surprisingly, she didn’t get irritated.  Other people on the train are probably in similar or worse conditions than I am, she thought.  Rebecca didn’t know what to call it, but what she understood there on the stalled train was the importance of compassion.

Ms. Platt then learned about forgiveness.  ‘I’m sorry I always said that your brother was the smarter one,’ Rebecca Platt’s mom said through a teary happy-birthday call.  For most of her childhood, Rebecca was blue.  But daughter forgives mother, and by waiving her inner rage toward her mom, Rebecca relieved herself of a lot of psychic pain, and grew steady.

When Rebecca Platt got home from work later that day, though, she was unemployed and hungry, and still had to clean up all of JFK’s shit.

word by Jacob Goldberg

“If there is a meaning to life, I think it has to do with the stuff in the story.  And if you were to come across it, I imagine that a palette of colors might merge as they do in the artwork, and people would realize that deep down we can blend, too.  It’s important to always keep in mind that even if you think someone is stupid, they might in fact be worlds smarter and more capable than you think they are.  People are mirrors, and we shouldn’t miss out on opportunities to see ourselves in them.”

On Homelessness: “Walking past”

Shalak3

“Look. I know. But I’m telling you, we, like, run in the same circles or something.”

“Which fucking circles are you running in?”

“I dunno, man, just…I’m telling you, I see him everywhere.”

“Give him some cash, man, he’ll leave you alone.”

“I dunno. Do you think he, like, stalks me?”

“Who knows, man. You know what he’s after.”

“Think he can hear us?”

“Probably. Keep looking forward don’t want to give him the wrong idea.”

The subject of their intrigue happened to be a well-recognized face on this street. His salt-and-pepper beard perpetually caked in sweat, eyes bloodshot, if ever opened, fingernails speckled with dirt.

When he wasn’t pacing the corner of the main street, he would lie curled on the ground, enveloped in a makeshift bed, a mattress formed from warped cardboard and a newspaper pillow.

A Styrofoam coffee cup rest at his feet to collect spare change—its position was far enough from his person so as not to elicit too intimate an interaction between hopeful donors and himself, yet close enough to grasp in the case of a thief lurking uncomfortably nearby. This was his domain.

The men who passed him daily found themselves split between curiosity and repulsion as they, in American Apparel, wondered how one could end up on the streets, and why the man couldn’t pull himself up by the bootstraps “and just find a job,” as they all had done for themselves.

The day he disappeared, those who questioned his absence primarily didn’t know who to confront with their concern, or why they felt they needed an answer in the first place, and never did anything about it.

word by Annie Rubin

“With such ease, passersby devalue or dehumanize the lives of homeless people. This story’s focus on the interactions of one man tries to demonstrate a lack of compassion and emphasize the societal conditioning that our culture perpetuates towards those who are not able to work or find a home.”

colour by Shalak Attack

“Shalak Attack is a Canadian-Chilean visual artist dedicated to painting, muralism, graffiti urban art, and canvases. Shalak  has manifested her artistic expression on urban walls across the world.  Shalak is a co-founder and member of the international art collectives “Essencia”, the “Bruxas”, and the “Clandestinos”. 

Shalak also works with several other mixed media approaches such as tattoo art, jewelery, illustration, installation, sound, and video making. In the past ten years, she has participated in numerous artistic projects and exhibitions in Canada, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Palestine, Jordan, Isreal, France, Belgium, Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Senegal and recently in Sweden for the Artscape Mural Festival. 

Shalak shares her passion for freedom of expression, and has facilitated visual art workshops to youth of under-privileged communities and prisoners in various countries across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and in Africa.  Her artistic work and community art-reach is rooted in the social and cultural values she received from her family growing up across Canada.  Since then, her most impacting education has been learning from different communities around the world. Public walls has become her favourite place to paint, she uses graffiti as an art form to create accessibility to culture for diverse communities.” 

Is Mural Fest an Art Festival?

Montreal hosted its third annual Mural Festival this year on Saint Laurent Boulevard; lasting 11 days and featured 20 different artists from all over the world.

This year’s murals, in addition to the final products of the 2013 and 2014 festivals, certainly leave a feeling of awe – but street art does far more than add colour to a neighbourhood.

Most artists don’t create for the sake of creating.

The very nature of street art is accessible to all by being outdoors, free, and easy to appreciate, and there is a strong belief amid the street artist community that there is a certain degree of responsibility to criticize, to create debate, or to denounce injustice through murals and street art.

Namely, Spanish-American Axel Void is known for acting as a witness in depicting the homeless and the persecuted in order to create relatable symbols out of people who are generally discounted by the rest of society. As a part of his series titled “Nadie”, Axel Void painted a homeless man he met on Boulevard St. Laurent. The mural is calledPersonne, and the man in question is at first glance easy to miss, almost concealed, behind the white letters stamped over his face. His mural is a testimony and a criticism to the fact that itinerants are often seen as invisible in society.

P1060999Mural by Canada’s ASTRO

Mexico city based Curiot is known for blending animal forms in creations inspired by Aztec art and Mexican traditions. His Montreal mural is no exception, and his chalk looking figures call for a heightened connection to nature and between human beings and animals.
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Austria’s NYCHOS- read his Word and Colour collaboration 

Argentinian Jaz is known for his political graffiti, often depicting scenes of conflict, confrontations, or combats. In his contribution to this year’s Mural Festival, he created a scene depicting cultural and identity clashes between two bulls with human bodies. The bulls are covered in tattoos of maple leaves, fleur de lys, and other Canadian and Québecois symbols.

Another interesting facet of street art is in its reflection of globalization. In addition to their murals in Montreal, you can find Reka One’s aboriginal inspired art in Australia, Italy and Austria, Seth‘s outward looking children in France, Tahiti and China; Etam Cru’s scenes of young girls in Poland, Germany and the United States.

If the artists strive to denounce inequality or injustice through their murals, the process of commercializing said art may strip it of its very purpose.
P1070006A mural by Brazil’s Bicleta Sem Freio 

The nomadic nature of street art allows for a presence of these recognizable characters all over the world. This creates a certain “fil d’attache” between street artists and enthusiasts, as well as between different countries, each faced by their own societal issues.

While Inti‘s mural in Montreal warns that our greed in exploiting Canada’s natural resources will in turn leave us waterless, his mural in Istanbul, Turkey encourages resistance to the government’s austere policies in solidarity with the 2013 Gezi protests. Through their murals, street artists encourage global solidarity in facing world issues.
And yet, when artists are commissioned into creating murals during a festival that clearly has commercial goals – commercial goals that became quite obvious through the street shopping component of the festival – we are called to question the subversive impact of the presence of capitalism in such a festival. Can art be critical of capitalism if it is created by and for capitalism?

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Moreover, many artists criticize capitalism through their work, but also struggle to pay for the materials necessary to create their works of art. Benjamin Moore sponsored most of the paint used by the artists during Mural Festival. Does art play the same role and have the same mission when its creator was sponsored, or commissioned, by commercial entities?

Though the muralists themselves may want to create art that criticizes capitalism, injustice or austerity, the fact that there was no platform to for them to discuss such themes with the public testifies to the fact that the organizers of the festival are perhaps not as concerned by activism as they are by capital.

In response to the commercialization of art within Mural Festival, the Anticolonial Street Artists Convergence has created a grassroots festival promoting anti-capitalist street art; Unceded Voices will take place from August 14 to 23 with the goal of sharing anticolonial values and indigenous resistance. Unceded Voices brings attention to the fact that Mural Festival takes place on unceded Kanien’kéhá:ka and Algonquin territories.

Contrary to Mural Festival, Unceded Voices will create spaces for artists and members of the community to discuss political issues and how art can act as a platform for such debate.

Check out the murals on St. Laurent, and support Unceded Voices this August.

word by Jiliane Golczyk

Review: Howl! and CKUT host panel on austerity

image via Ecole De La Montagne Rouge

As part of the Howl Arts Collective Festival, CKUT FM invited four panelists to discuss artistic resistances to austerity in a live broadcast at Casa del Popolo. In discussing the relation between art and the movement against austerity in Montreal, the chief question was: What is the role of artists in the fight against austerity?

According to the panel – which included artists Edith Brunette and François Lemieux, graphic designer Kevin Yuen Kit Lo, and photojournalist Amru Salahuddien- artists have a choice: they can use their creativity to smooth over the bumps or they can reveal societal tensions through their creations.

However, if art can be used as a space where it is possible to dream, to envision a new future and to picture new social relations, then artists have not only the option, but the responsibility to define and depict an anti-oppressive future in order to raise awareness about austerity and engage discussion.

In addition to the discussion by the four panelists, La Chorale du Peuple, founded in 2011 during the occupation of Square Victoria, denounced neo-liberal policies and inequality through their songs: “Que la vie est belle” and “Ça fait rire les Libéraux.”

A problem underlined by Amru Salahuddien, an Egyptian photojournalist who was on the ground during the Egyptian uprising, was the lack of connections within the international anti-austerity movement. Though the fight against capitalism seems to be a fight that has a certain level of continuity across time and space, the lack of links, not only on an international level, but also within our own communities, has rendered the anti-austerity movement quasi-ineffective.

Salahuddien parallelled the Egyptian and Quebecois students, stating, “while in Egypt, bullets were used against the protesters, the weapon used by the government against Quebecois students was neglect.”

Despite the possibility of connections between these two groups of protesters, Salahuddien criticized the fact that very little support was given to either group by the other: that, though our world is said to be shrinking through technology and social media, there is little global awareness or concern for movements that do not affect us directly.

Concluding the discussion was a conversation about hope, where panelists suggested that if art is used as a tool in the fight against capitalism and the structures of power, it is because artists have hope for a better future, despite their use of seemingly sinister artistic tools, like irony or dystopia, in depicting their criticisms.

Thank you to Howl Arts Collective and to Casa del Popolo for hosting this interesting panel discussion- click here for more events happening this weekend!

Jiliane Golczyk, 23 Apr 2015, Montréal

On memory: “self and other”

image

Despondent at the sight of her, waxing caramel and silk, bruising blue from apathy. Who it is I am looking for in the shape of her, the curve and weight of her bones. The scrutiny of this survey has everything to do with consumption. Mass of flesh, scent of jasmine, soap, talcum powder.

I become suddenly thirsty and my legs fold in like a hand. From every angle calls some small adjustment, something not quite in place, not quite concealed. I remember the shirts I wore in highschool, carefully selected from your laundry pile and big enough for my body to move beneath them unnoticed.

Meanwhile she moved with such a lightness I had never been empty enough to feel, spread her toes across the bathroom counter smoothing lotion into her calves; she had six children for the institutions of God and marriage. What I saw for the sake of this story was the width of her waist on an inhale, saw her spinning across the living room floor. She praised my poetry then stopped calling altogether.

Of course I never expected she would, and this is not really about her, or the blue light of my new apartment where no one eats and everything is covered with a film of dust and the smell of smoke. I blink into the mirror and take a sip from a white, enamel cup stained with her lipstick. I know that I will see her in the kitchen and she will have cut her hair again. She will be quietly frantic, pouring cream in her coffee and letting the filter drip. The garbage can is full of dust and the ends of her cigarettes stained with lipstick.

If the weight of my bones were a little less dense. If I did not bruise under the touch of her fingertips. I could step into this room unfeeling, dressed in animal prints and steel, chewing a stick of gum.

word by Alisha Mascarenhas
colour by Gan Chin Lee 

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