Thursday, April 24, 2008

rug culture

went to an amazing exhibition opening last night at the Textile Museum of Canada...a museum i'd never visited before, though i'd often been intrigued by their exhibit themes. last night, "Battleground" opened, which includes sketches from the Kandahar journals of Richard Johnson, along with an intriguing collection of military patches. but the show-stopping heart of the exhibit is Max Allen's collection of war rugs from Afghanistan. Allen is cofounder of the Textile Museum; he first started seeing these rugs ten years ago and was drawn to collect them as a testament to the wars, battles, and disasters that Afghans have witnessed over the past three decades.

the rugs are eerie for their familiarity--even if you've only ever walked on an Ikea-produced knock-off, you know the basic patterns. but here, alongside the horses and camels, the birds and flowers, there are motifs of grenades and tanks, missiles and machine guns, woven alongside repeating geometric shapes (some of which, tragically, are actually the shape of landmines). the image above is the best for a tiny reproduction, to give you an idea of what these rugs are like--many are far more complex in their design and execution. the exhibition highlights the mystery of the rugs as well as their harsh reality: there's no recognized craftsperson. we don't know who exactly has made these rugs, or why, precisely. but as a testament to a place Canada currently is deeply involved in, the exhibition makes for fascinating conversation.

Jane Jacobs lives

i first read Jane Jacobs when i was living a few blocks from her old New York City neighbourhood. she's one of the main reasons i became so interested in how cities work (and don't work); it seems oddly fitting that now, a decade later, i'm living a few blocks from her old Toronto house.
as a way to commemorate her work & beliefs about the urban environment, Jane's Walk was started last year. local enthusiasts are giving free walks all day tomorrow--in a slew of cities, including, of course, Toronto & NYC. but you're also in luck if you live in Winnipeg, or Guelph, or Salt Lake City, or Vancouver... in fact, for more details, locations, and for the story of the walks themselves, check out this link

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Baron Wormser & the grid

here's a link to my review of Baron Wormser's The Road Washes Out in Spring, for Todd Swift's excellent arts blogzine EYEWEAR

...i'm pleased the review appeared on the same day as Todd's comments on Joe Jackson's latest album. i've always been a fan. once saw him at a bar i love in New York...the Ear, so-named because it's "Bar" sign burned out in rather an odd way.

Monday, April 14, 2008

creative non-fiction

some questionable joys of travel writing... a BBC link about a former Lonely Planet contributor

Monday, April 07, 2008

flame extinguished in Paris

so far it's been quite a day in Paris...we woke up to snow, but it isn't the weather that extinguished the Olympic flame. despite the 3000 policemen, plus armored vehicles and jogging firemen (no joke) the torch relay was interrupted by protests which included banners across the Tour Eiffel. the flame is apparently currently secured in an armoured bus, hidden away by request of the Chinese Olympic officials as pro-Tibetan rights demonstrations escalated.