Monday 24 August 2015

Response to Fun Home

Last week I finished Alison Bechdel’s comic book Fun Home, which I thought was a fantastic rendering of the inner workings of family dynamics and the ways in which individual sexualities affect such systems. The story more closely follows Alison’s relationship with her father and the manners with which they each separately accepted or rejected their homosexuality as well as found an outlet to explore this side of themselves. The narrative bounces back and forth in time, whereby we get a sense of the characters, especially of Alison, as a child but also as an adult throughout the non-linear telling.

Throughout the story, Bechdel compares her father with writers such as Fitzgerald and Wilde and tries to draw links between his life and theirs in order to make sense of his non-traditional behaviours, such as decorating the house to the extent of an obsession with the ornamental. I can definitely relate to trying to see myself in other characters in novels or films for example, in order to normalize my own behaviours in my mind or even just to feel some sort of alliance with other humans. In fact, I think I’ve done this so much that I’ve, in some ways, coordinated my life so that it looks more like the life of some fictional persona, which has often felt more comfortable than pursuing something entirely unknown. In Fun Home, Bechdel tries to unpack her father’s suicide in conjunction with the events in the lives of these writers, as she projects that her father must have been aware of them and would have chosen the dates for his actions accordingly.

What I particularly loved and really, respected, about this book was its transparency and its honesty. I can imagine the challenges in writing something so confessional about the people you wish to continue to love and receive love from. I think books like these are so important because of this risk, because they had to sacrifice comfort and privacy in order to make others feel at home with themselves.

Thursday 13 August 2015

"Fake it til you Make it" at the Fringe

Over the weekend, I went to see the show "Fake it til you Make it" written and performed by Byrony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn. Broadly speaking, the performance was about clinical depression and men. But more specifically, it told the story of the real life couple and the ways in which they work together to manage Tim's depression. In all honesty, I thought the play was perfect. There was just the right amount of humour, reenactment, confession, even dance. And what was especially delightful was hearing their story with their baby making a small appearance in the form of a bump in Bryony's tummy. While Bryony is a performance artist, Tim left his job as a an account manager at an advertising firm to go on tour with her to present this show and to try to reach people who deal with the same issues, whether it is with their own depression or living with and loving someone who suffers from depression. 

The show was both hilarious and deeply moving. While Bryony and Tim appear to be quite different, Bryony being an extreme extrovert and a innate performer, Tim was shy, and true to their agreement, hid behind masks or some sort of eye cover so that he wouldn't have to look the audience in the eye. Probably the most heart-wrenching of these disguises was a full head piece made out of tangled rope. What was special about these costumes was the effect it had when Tim revealed his eyes to the audience and spoke candidly about his experience. And yet, what was perhaps most touching was the mutual love and support the two had for one another and the constant affirmation on the part of Bryony that she was there with him, when Tim was sharing the hard bits. I would recommend this show to everyone and truly believe in the importance of the work its doing. 

Here is the link to their website:

Saturday 8 August 2015

Sachli Gholamalizad at the Fringe

Yesterday I saw Sachli Gholamalizad's performance "A Reason to Talk" as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After the show, I was shaking and in tears and had to tell Sachli just how moved I was.

Throughout the show, Sachli was sitting at a desk with two computers as she typed her fears, her thoughts, and messages to the audience, which appeared on one of the screens amongst the a multi-screen installation. Her face typically occupied one or two of the screens as she looked into the webcam on one of the laptops. Through her own voice, her typed messages and pre-filmed interviews with her mother, Sachli tells the story of how her family moved from Iran to Belgium when she was five years old and how she struggled to understand her family's situation. The story focused on her troubled relationship with her mother and the ways in which family members try to understand each other and ultimately have to accept one another for who they are.

The performance was incredibly gorgeous and discussed issues of identity, which, as a Canadian coming from a family of Middle Eastern immigrants, I can relate to.

Below is a trailer of the brilliant performance.

Portrait of my grandfather in his late 20s early 30s

Monday 3 August 2015

Feeling Wet

I recently bought a video camera and this is my first attempt at experimenting with it. I started with the script and then recorded things around me that came to mind when I thought about the story I wanted to tell. I've been working on using a confessional style. This is not to say that the script or video is autobiographic in some way. Rather, I am adopting a confessional voice to tell a story in a non-linear way, which is often how memories are experienced anyway.

Photos I took at the Carl Andre show in the Retiro Park in Madrid (Reina Sofia exhibition)