Wednesday, November 28, 2007

HIV Then and Now, AIDS Awareness week, Hulbert's Cafe

I came to support Alfredo as he gets back into the lounge singing swing of things, but I stayed for a panel discussion that spanned almost 25 years. Summed up into one sentence: Not much has changed. Drugs are more available, but tolerance is still the biggest hindrance. HIV drums up all the fears of society: otherness in poverty, queer identity, racism, and DEATH. In this disease hides all of humanity's anxieties and skeletons and it's a shame that the awareness is but a week, not a month, or always.

Though the discussion was mostly based around HIV from the queer perspective with some insight from drug use, the fact that today's perception that HIV is an issue in a lesser developed nation (and not an issue for your friends and neighbors) is the largest problem in reaching today's youth. Everyone knows what HIV is now thanks to media, but not everyone still thinks that they can get it. that deathly message is what's still being hidden in mainstream media, as HIV is a disease that's plaguing communities elsewhere without clean drinking water or education. But what needs to hit home is that HIV can infect anyone anywhere and that we each have to take responsibility for our own bodies.

On the way home, Alfredo, who has been living with HIV for 20 years, felt out of place tonight. He had one more song, but it was too late. He was active in home care for his community and awareness, but as he says, that was so long ago, it seems like another life . . . I don't doubt the truth in that statement. He lives his life, openly as a mature gent with HIV in a prominent professional position, HIV activism is not in his life, but in his being, the subtleness in the way he can live his life, that might be the biggest change we've seen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pina Bausch, Tanztheatre Wuppertal, NAC, Ottawa

okay, so this isn't what I saw, bausch herself doesn't dance anymore, but this is far more apocalyptic and enchanting, but what I did see, "Nefes", was gorgeous nonetheless. I couldn't just include a still, as you need to see the movement. this piece, which was inspired by Bausch's trip to Turkey, surrounds itself with water (much like Turkey is also). Obvious images of servility, the city/bazaar/bathhouse, and a magical roaming carpet sequence (text encrypted light?) filled in between moments of pure exhaltation and moments of trickery.
Far less ironic than the works I've only read about, there was certainly more colour than what I was expecting as well. the beautiful tapestries that were the costumes, the music that was everything from modern berlin electro to turkish to tom waits, this was a very elaborate and theatrical piece with a string of solos, the whole show lasted close to three hours in length (I am use to 50 minute pieces, so this was a treat and an endurance test). the surrounding comments I overheard were about how grey everything was, how the set needed colour, how this is boring compared to la la la human steps, and some actual overheard comments included: "their physicality reminds me of circus de soleil." (maybe in the second half, but this comment was made during intermission) / "I love all that combine fever with jazz!" (they didn't actually) / "If I see that move one more time I've going to scream!" (what move, not sure, but it was a treat to see some of the world's best dancers like Rainer Behr, Daphnis Kokkinos and the others who I can't match a name to their static photographs.) for dance of this calibre, especially since it's a restaging of a 2003 production, I don't want to critique, but just enjoy. you can't just think about dance, but settle into your body and feel it.
beautiful, exhiliratng, the accumulation of sound-image-movement-in presence, it's all there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Writing in the city . . .

Maybe this should be called writing in the city, but then writing and walking seems intrinsically linked activities. Yes to Rebecca Solnit.

Had a meeting with the AFA on Monday about community presenting, another hat I may try on this year, but while talking to the appropriate program officer, the issue of multidisciplinary activities came up. As a non-fiction writer (and non creative in the traditional 'biography' sense), there was no other category but multidiscplinary that I could apply for. A catch all, I was discouraged from applying for this program again as it was too hard to fit this time around. Because the field of art criticism has commercial appeal, same with graphic arts, no support has been provided for someone like me who falls through the cracks (their words, not mine). Only, looking at fellow freelancers both text and graphic, especially those with roots in the weeklies and dwindling funding of arts magazines, do the morsels of change in the commercial realm really count for sustainable income? are not these underfunded artistic pursuits also contributions to the vitality of the arts? I am forced to sound utopic, a voice I often discourage, but the sting of being displaced from the system (shrug, what you do just doesn't fit in) is making me ponder about my place in this city. This just all continues to reaffirm my thoughts on the future of corporate funding. As it snowed on Tuesday, new beginnings. Fresh start.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's been a while . . .

Not that I haven't been walking, but mostly writing, and working, and forgetting. Prairie Artsters has taken up almost all of my online writing time, and my misadventures across the city are lacking.

As an update, I am leaving the ranks of the day job once again. The point of getting a job is to secure credit, obtain a house, and all of that, but it's now done, why am I still doing it? Maybe I have yet to recognize that you need to do keep doing something you don't enjoy to obtain material possessions you don't necessary want. So we will see what happens now.

As part of looking into my independent career, I had asked Pamela Anthony for advice. In turn, she invited me to her 'Art Babes' potluck. Very gracious and a good point of reference for contacts. A beautiful house just off 99 St on the southside, the main floor with a major grouch living below. Brought Gerry and Nutto and some stinky cheese, ital bread and grapes that I don't think anyone remembered to eat. ladies can get pretty raunchy after a couple bottles of vino, so yes, it was fun. Saw a lot of faces that I never knew the names to, but gathered together, there was an immediate bond. But one of the older women (whose birthday it was) who I gave a lift home had very pessimistic feelings about going back to the arts. But was burning out from working 5 jobs at a time. My future? Not how I wanted to cap off the night, but it's not stopping anything. Not yet.

Hope to check in more often than not.