"There are a lot of things in life that can go by unnoticed..." - Fabio Moon Reading this week: award-winning graphic novels from other countries: "Daytripper" from Brazil and"Blue is the Warmest Color" from France * Daytripper
"A hauntingly lyrical journey that uses the quiet moments to ask the big questions" - that's how a book review describes "Daytripper". I first thought it would be a book about a traveller, but it really is a book about the journey of life, and rooted in the everday. The story is rather unusual in concept - it's like a kaleidoscope of one story in different versions. At its core, it's a meditation on the theme of life and death, a celebration of the small beautiful moments every day brings, and the question "what if".
Daytripper is the first graphic novel I read that is from Brazil, and also the first that was created by twin brothers: Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá are well-known in Brazil. They were guest at the Frankfurt Book Fair last year, and I had the chance to meet them a week later at a comic fair. It's simply fascinating to watch them turn a white sheet of paper into a colored sketch, in a matter of minutes, and notice their love for details - which also connects back to "Daytripper":
While in Germany, the two artists/authors gave some interviews, and in one of them they talk about Brazil as setting for the story: "Having the story taking place in Brazil, we could focus on what really matters. We could tell a more sincere story. So we could try to reach more sincere reactions from the audience. If we had told the story anywhere else, we could have told the same story, but we wouldn't have the tools or the elements we were searching for, to make the story look sincere."
"Blue is the Warmest Color" is a graphic novel from France. Both the writing and art are fom Julie Maroh, who developed an own, very personal style in it. Reading it, it felt she tells her own story. At the same time, with the anti-gay demonstrations in France, the book also makes a political statement, and one for freedom and love.
The original title of the book is "Le bleu est une couleur chaude", and at first the english version was called "Blue Angel". Based on the graphic novel, film director Abdelatif Kechiche has created a film with a different ending, but the same title. The film was awarded the Palme d'or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival - and it was due to the film that i arrived at the book (haven't seen the film yet, though).
The graphic novel is stunning with its very own style, using black-and-white as the base of the story, with the color blue as sign for emotions and dreams. The story Maroh tells is both a coming-out story of a young woman, and a complicated love story between her and the woman with the blue hair. Reading it gives an idea how painful it can be to be "different", how friends retreat, and how your own identity is questioned: the blue in the story is also the blues of life.
Yesterday's doodle was about a tree and birdnest, and today comes with a fox underneath a street light. Both spoke to me, especially as it is a time of nature waking, and birds starting to show and sing in the morning. Here are the lines I arrived at:
* wildlife crossing— this moment when the hidden steps into the light
* first new spring green showing— when will the birds return?
While typing, i looked for the long dash, which isn't part of the German keyboard. But I knew Emily Dickinson used it often in her poems, so i went looking, and arrived at this verse that connects back to poetry as form, and the power of silent words. (here's more, can't seem to find the exact page again, though)
They shut me up in Prose— As when a little Girl They put me in the Closet— Because they liked me "still"— .
"I want to go and explore that place one day" - that's what I thought every time I drove past the sign "Urzeit-Museum" ("Prehistoric Museum"). Now, finally, I went. Didn't really know what to expect. And found stone flowers that were millions of years old, and learned in a deeper sense that once upon a time, this region here was an ocean. Still moved by the visit. Here are some photos and notes:
The nature museum is set in the South of Germany, near the Swabian hill plateau, and reaches back about 180 million years in time. Back then, this region was an ocean, and some of the animals and plants from that time remained as fossils - some tiny, some huge, like the fish above.
And here's a showroom that gives an idea of how the museum started:
The museum was founded by a family who owned a quarry. Their quarry was specializing in slate, and working there, they kept finding fossils. At some point, they started to collect and prepare them, and founded a museum. It’s in the third generation now, and it is amazing, especially the unbelievable dimension of time and space, and the techniques they developed to bring back fragile elements of the fossils.
One of the most surprising fossils is a group of sea lilie. I blogged about it in the photo blog a day after visiting the musuem:
180 million years ago "Once upon a time, some sea lilies floated through an ocean…. and turned to a fossile. found not far from here. Even standing right in front of it, it’s not possible to grasp the dimensions of time, that their fragile imprints date back 180 million years"
The photo above just shows a small part of the full fossil. Here's the full view of the room - the sea lily fossil is about 18 metres long, and took about 18 years of restaurative work:
In a poetic coincidence, I came across lines about those stone memories from the past just some days later, in the collection of Buddhist poems called "What Book?!" that i am revisiting:
Anita Barrows How many million years before wood turns to stone? How many more million for stone to be ground to sand? We know more about their deaths than about their lives, the great forests that covered the earth before there was a single word to name them, generations of silence of which we can touch only the last, the fragile bridge back to what once was everything
I guess the impossibility to imagine the size of this fragile bridge sparked the wish to take a piece of this past back home. The Urzeit museum actually has pieces of fossil on sale, and the smaller ones have the price of an ice-cream: 3 Euro. I picked one of them, even though it feels a bit weird that they sell ancient things that way, but they have heaps of the small ones. Here's the one i picked:
Ammonite, 180 million years old
The fossils in the piece, they are the most common to be found in the slate: ammonites.
Actuall, the slate has layers, and you can see different layers of ammonites. And the one who prepared it colored 3 of them, to make them stand out. The longer you look, the more you see.
And a final "explore" image: this is just across the street from the mseum: a small quarry, which is open to everyone. It just takes a small fee and a hammer, and then you can go and explor the layers of the past:
* While putting these notes and photos together, I realized it would also fit for the new photo friday challenge “Explore”, just joined and added it to the list.
More museum trips and other visits to nearby places:
January was the month of small mindful moments - which moved on into february, it feels. Not in daily lines, but in a hightened appreciation for all those colors and shapes and instants that are part of a month, and of the flow of time. And in a series of spontaneous afternoon trips to places that aren't far, just some 20 or 30 minutes away: the hill plateau of the Alb, the Aich valley...
For the new year, i didn't put together resolutions, but looking back through the calendar, I notice that there are some themes developing naturally. The afternoon trips, and: art und museums. So far, I've been to 3 museums this year, and now am catching up with blogging about them, here's the first: art, selfie & the first exhibition: Baumeister. And in a really nice coincidence, there's a new art online class starting right now: Live! A history of Art for Artists & Co.
Another theme that developed in the last weeks is: #readwomen2014, an online initiative on a direct reader level. i joined, and enjoy the ongoing flow of reading notes, thoughts and suggestions. i just blogged about it some days ago: reading #readwomen, poetry podcast & a Room of One's Own.
February also brought an early shift of season. last year at that time, it was still deep winter in february. This year, there's spring in the air since january. Now i am curious for March, to see if the themes and the direction of the year starts to settle, or if there are other themes waiting / surfacing.
and now i just revisited the ending note of january and the mindful moments, which also speaks to february with a switch of a word:
small stone by small stone time took a slightly different shape *
This week, a new open online course started at Coursera: "Live!: A History of Art for Artists, Animators and Gamers". I had signed up for it, and now watched the first lectures, and am excited about it. Each course at Coursera is different, some have fascinating themes but are rather technical in the lectures. Just recently, there was one called "Beauty, Form & Function: An Exploration of Symmetry", which turned out to be rather mathematical. But the art course feels like the right course at the right time, escpecially with the series of museums i visited.
And it got me pondering - for the first week, the course invites participants to do a starting assignment called "My World and the Art World" and share it in the course forum.
The Instruction is: ""Make or describe something that stands for what you think art really should be in your perfect world - Then, make or describe something that stands for what you think people in the world think art should be. If your version of what art should be like and what the world thinks art should be like are the same, great! If they are different, then think about those differences a bit and write down your thoughts."
So interesting. I guess the photo above is my simplified and a bit stereotypical answer to the second part, how I think people in the world think art should be: something to put on a wall, or to put in a museum.
While I think, in a perfect world, art should be more like this piece of art: Something that offers a different way to look at our world.
both images are from the square art museum, the one i visited earlier this month. what you can't see in the first image is a brave detail: in the collection of panels, the upper two rows are works of art with moveable elements, and you aren't supposed to touch them. but the two panels in the lower row are "collective" works, and visitors are invited to move the elements.
here's a longer blog post about the museum visit: old stones & modern shapes, or: square afternoon.