In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.
When I cross on the Rosemont/Van Horne overpass to Outremont, I always feel like I'm entering a different world. Down below, on one's bike during better weather, the change is less dramatic but still significant. The Mile End, with its boutiques and restos and young energy, is in the midst of gentrification. But this part of Outremont, close to the more industrial end of Van Horne, which then becomes a shopping street, is an enclave of Hasidic Jews. When I drive or bike on these streets I feel like time has gone backward, and that behind the hurried steps of the black-clad men and the women in black skirts and wigs with headbands or hats, often pushing old-fashioned baby carriages, lies a life about which I know almost nothing. I stop at Cheskies and buy a loaf of challah or some rugelach, but it is a commercial exchange, nothing more: ours are separate solitudes and will remain that way.
Along with what seemed like half of Mexico City, we went to the zoo today. We watched a few animals, including homo sapiens.
The big cats were particularly impressive. I had just finished reading Life of Pi, so the size and majesty of the bengal tiger (not shown here; his body was mostly behind a rock) felt especially immediate today. The panther seemed agitated and paced back and forth on top of his rock ledge, ominous and menacing.
I had never seen a jaguar before. Hold him in your mind, for he's important to Mexico, and coming back soon in a different guise.
It hasn't been that easy for us as artists to move into an entirely new city and new country, where we had no contacts and no history; we left all of that -- a whole lifetime of work, really-- behind in the U.S. Making friends has been quite easy,
but finding our way in the art scene has not, except for my music. Being
included in an exhibition like ABC : MTL has not only been a good experience for J. as an artist, but it's also made him feel more integrated and accepted as participants in the artistic life of the city we've chosen to call home.
There's a comprehensive review of the ABC :MTL show at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in the January issue of Canadian Architect magazine, including a double-page spread of Jonathan's photograph that was included in the show (p.32-33) In her thoughtful review, Louise Pelletier writes:
"Some of the most
successful pieces, however, invite a different kind of participation." They create new places for poetic inhabitation through representing very real conditions. Jonathan Sa'adah's panoramic The Tunnel of Death, for instance, offers an improbable view of the intersection between d'Iberville and Boulevard Saint-Joseph, capturing the complex motions and coexistence of infinite trajectories that share a common space of circulation while inviting the viewer to reflect on the nature of urban space."
Pelletier liked the show, which had as its premise the presentation of a creative, unusual self-autoportrait of the city, and its democratic, open process of inviting proposals from artists, architects, and citizens. She felt the curators had been less sucessful, however, in their stated goal of engaging viewers in dialogue about the future of the city, particularly in addressing some of the problems brought up by the participating artists. I would agree.
However, it's been a very good experience; it was great for him to have a ten-foot print of his work shown in such a public, high-profile venue; he was part of a video interview (2:07) (see image above, or click link to watch the video) with the artists shown at the museum and on the web, and he gave a talk along with several others artists last weekend, quite well-attended in spite of the bad weather. All his interactions with the staff and curators have been very positive and professional; it's been good.
Perhaps it's ironic -- it's certainly poetic, as The Cassandra Pages enters its tenth year -- my partner and husband, the infamous J., has just started his own blog, as part of his professional website. Jonathan has patiently endured and supported my blogging obsession for a decade, and I'm happy to share a link to his new site, and encourage you to take a look.
As some of you know, Jonathan is a very fine professional photographer. The blog is built around his personal photos, but it's not a photo blog exclusively - he's using each one (they'll be published about once a week, he says) to explore and write about a particular subject. He has an unusual and creative way of looking at things, so it should be pretty interesting.
As for me, I'm reminded of a recurrent line in the book I'm reading now, a international espionage thriller called Istanbul Passage, by Joseph Kanon, where the Romanian spy keeps saying, "Turn the chess board. The game always looks different from the other side." Jonathan has always quipped that he reads my blog to find out what's happening in our life, but I will no doubt be rewarded with a different view of the same thing, from his perspective!
This is Manon's favorite position while I'm working. It doesn't look very comfortable for her, and certainly isn't for me, but what can you do? She's the boss. She also likes to lie next to me, with her paws up on the keyboard, watching the screen (hoping for a bird or squirrel video.) Sometimes she encases my left thumb with her right front paw, and won't let go, tightening her claws ever so slightly if I try to pull away. It's like having a little live mitten on my thumb as I type.
Who could say no to those green eyes?
My camera came back from Canon repair today. Inside the box: not my S95, but a brand new S110. Apparently they couldn't fix mine for the price they had quoted, and which we had paid. This is what I call customer service, and it makes me an even more loyal Canon customer than I was before. I'm anxious to get to know this later version of these tiny powerhouse cameras; stay tuned!
Last night we were at the CCA (Canadian Centre for Architecture) for the opening of their new exhibit, ABC : MTL. It was a special night because my husband, J. (below), was one of the artists selected to be part of the exhibition from a field of 250 proposals by architectural firms, videographers and filmmakers, planners, musicians, and individual artists. (I'm sorry for the poor quality of these images - there was very little light in the rooms.)
The CCA is a terrific museum, and it was a real honor for him to have a piece of work included. The curatorial staff has treated him very well in all their communications and interactions; the 10-foot photographic print he provided was beautifully mounted, hung, and lighted. A video interview is part of a documentary presentation that goes with the exhibition, and he'll be on a discussion panel later on.
(click image to read large version of curatorial statement about his work, in French and English)
J.'s photograph shows one of the deadliest intersections in the city, at St-Joseph and Iberville, and illustrates his focus on what happens when residential neighborhoods and industrial/commercial interests collide in an urban context. It's a problem shared by many cities, and particularly difficult to solve when interlayered, old infrastructures are involved.
Some of the other works were a lot more cerebral: in the entrance area
to the exhibition, below, the hanging work is a video that included a changing
pattern over Montreal somehow created from sampled radio frequencies.
The large photograph on the back wall is an artist's attempt to render what the sky over Montreal might have looked like in the early days of the earth's formation.
The CCA put on quite a party; there was a DJ and a band, and an open bar serving wine and beer in Shaughnessy House, the old mansion that was incorporated into the sleek new museum. The multi-level, modern extension is a beautifully designed structure of wood, chrome, and polished black granite with large exhibition and teaching spaces, offices, and a gorgeous architectural library.
We celebrated late, with a decadent dessert at Cacao 70: I actually don't think I've ever eaten a banana split before (remember, I thought I was allergic to bananas for 60 years!) and we did split this one, but...As I said to a wide-eyed man who glanced at our table when it was delivered, "un peu excessif?" He shook his head, laughed, and replied, "I'm not judging!"