Friday, September 27, 2013

Never Sorry

I went to see Ai Weiwei last weekend with some of the ladies on my street.  We had watched the documentary, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry a while back and he's the current international darling of the contemporary art world.

To be honest, I wasn't a fan of the documentary - I thought it was weirdly fawning and it certainly didn't make you like Ai Weiwei.  He's a big cheater!  His real wife shows up for like, 2 minutes, or just long enough to basically say that they have a strong relationship (but in a weird way - this is before the revelation that he has a child with another woman comes out, so at the time as the viewer you're like, "well, that's a weird way of putting it, but okay, I guess?") and then you find out that he has a kid with another woman.  Ai Weiwei comes across like a bit of a breakcore child - like, someone who is kind of bratty and childish and ego-driven.  I get what he's doing and that China's government is corrupt, blah blah blah.  From the documentary, I thought the cleverest thing he was doing was "hiding in plain sight" as an artist - like using the tools of social media to effectively make himself so visible that he is beyond the reach of the Chinese authorities.  The film doesn't focus too much on his body of work and so I went into the exhibit not expecting much.

I was floored.  

The work is extraordinary.  It is evocative, accessible, and beautiful.  I get why he's such a successful contemporary artist.  There's nothing esoteric in the work - it's very easy to "read" and what it has to say about history, about the Cultural Revolution, about China, about unity, about nationhood, is incredible.  He has a piece where tonnes and tonnes of twisted rebar pulled from the aftermath of a devastating Shenzhen earthquake (where he alleges shoddy construction is responsible for the deaths of upwards of 5000 school children) was meticulously and laboriously straightened and then turned into an undulating sculpture.  He rescued old wood and uses Chinese techniques of wood joining to produce pieces that are modern, tactile, aesthetically pleasing, and speak to the effects of Mao's cultural revolution.

Moon chests - you can see all the phases of the moon as you walk between them.  One of my favorite pieces in the exhibit.

I loved it.  So maybe he is an enfant terrible (my mum called him "sensationalist") - the point is...he makes good art.  All that being said, you know what the documentary I want to see is?  I want to see something where they take apart the relationship between an artist's "helpers" and the artist.  Like, who REALLY comes up with the ideas?  I get that Ai Weiwei is obviously not going to physically put together all the work, but I have a sneaking suspicion that all the ideas don't come from him.  Like, I think that up and coming artists apprentice under him and probably shape pieces and are willing to forgo their name on the piece in exchange for access to some of Ai's connections.  It has to be that way, it's just not made explicit.  So, I bet you Ai is like, "I want to make something out of this old wood" but does he have a say in what the piece actually looks like in the end?  Do they show him iterations and he's like, "yes, yes, more like that, no, no, go to hell, dear god, no!"?  I'd love to see something that peels back the layers on that - I think it would be fascinating.
On the wall of the gift shop.  Super tacky, AGO!  C'mon!  Also: the gift shop is filled with terrible, Orientalist bullroar.  Not impressed.

After the exhibit the ladies and I went to Kinton Ramen.  It was good.  Not as good as my beloved Sansotei, though (what could be?)  I still have to try Santouka and then I will feel like my Toronto ramen comparative analysis will be complete.

Okay guys, yesterday, halmeoni (Korean grandma) came over and CLEANED MY FLOORS BY HAND. I have never felt happier/more guilty in my life.  She is AMAZING.  She came over and cleaned my kitchen, cleaned the kitchen floors, cleaned our hardwood, washed down our stairs, and went to town on our enclosed porch and everything is sparkling and I don't know what to do with myself!  She was like, "I'm not going to tidy, just dust" and I was like, practically prostrating myself before her, saying, "HALMEONI CAN DO WHATEVER HALMEONI WANTS!"  I don't know how I'm going to repay her.  My neighbour had told me that she likes folding laundry, so I had some baskets of laundry and tentatively suggested when she arrived that she might want to do that.  But halmeoni kind of looked at them sideways and never mentioned it and so I was like, "Halmeoni can do whatever halmeoni wants!"  LOL.  I want to repay her somehow, even though she has explicitly said that if I ever try to give her money she'll stop coming over.  I know she goes to church so maybe I can make a donation to her church?  Help me think of something, people!

I live on the best street.  My neighbour won tickets to a Thomas movie screening and said that her husband would take their daughter, and she'd give the extra set of tickets to the Dotytron and the Big Yam.  I was like, "Are you sure there aren't other Thomas-obsessed people in your life you could give the tickets to?" and she was like, "I think the Big Yam has earned this."  LOL!  Being obsessed with Thomas is his defining characteristic (and Totoro).  So they went to the theatre down town on Saturday morning.  I thought it was just a movie, but OH NO.  THOMAS WAS THERE. SO WAS SIR TOPHAM HAT.  They got crowns and there were all these train tables set up for the kids to play with and it was being filmed by Mattel apparently and they came home with swag bags with the DVD for the movie, a picture book, a train, a crown, and Thomas toothpaste (also: a "Thomas and Friends Yearbook" that was basically a Thomas the Bay Christmas catalog of Thomas gear that I promptly hid in the recycling bin).  It was so mint!  His first movie-going experience really set the bar high.

I took the babies to lunch at my neighbour's house yesterday.  Three of us have overlapping maternity leaves so we're going to try to do a weekly thing.  This week was kind of buckshot.  It has been visits every day so I think I need to dial back the maternity leave socializing.  It's just too hard to stay on top of life stuff if I go out every day.  On Tuesday I went on a 3 hour walk and it broke me.  I try to keep the Great Gazoo off the back of his head, so when I walk, I tend to wear him and push Prof. Gantok in the stroller.  I definitely gave myself some epic shin splints and back spasms after doing the death march.  I'm going to limit myself in the future.

Then, the funnest thing ever - SMckay came over to cut my hair and for a sleepover!  I love friend sleepovers!  I miss having a roomie.  I'm just meant to live with other people.  I like it so much.

Yesterday I kept the Big Yam at home with me.  We went to an indoor trampoline fantasy land that holds toddler-only times.  Ummm...BEST EIGHT DOLLARS OF MY LIFE.  It was amazing.  They have 4 or 5 different areas where the floors and sides are trampolines and the kids go buck.  The only reason I have time to blog today is because I got myself some guaranteed nap time out of it.  It was so cute.  I can't even tell you how much fun the Big Yam had.  It was all I could do not to join him - but to avoid the "popcorn effect" (their that universal trampoline terminology?) they group people on the tramps by size, so only littles are allowed.  Parents and grown-ups have to stand on the walkways between the trampolines.

The babies wearing their Werner Herzog and Frank Zappa onesies.  So scary!  

We have hit a wondrous, wondrous milestone with the Wonder Twins - we have smiles!  And cooing!  Prof. Gantok especially, will happily lie on the back and squawk and air punch and spin his arms like a little spastic automaton after a feed.  The Great Gazoo likes to be held upright and mimics sticking out his tongue when you do it, often followed by a big, gappy, open mouthed smile that totally transforms his face.  Love it.  Love this age!

All three of my kids have killer, resolve-buckling pouts.  The roomie was holding The Great Gazoo one time and he was just lying in her arms, his lower lip protruding and she was like, "WHAT IS THAT FACE?!?"  Haha - if she was his mama there isn't anything he wouldn't get with that pout. Luckily, I'm made of stronger stuff.  She has tofu construction!

This week has been horrible for cooking, but here's what we've been eating, lately:

Breaded, pan-fried cod, homemade tartar sauce, kale salad

A Russian feast, courtesy of a Yummy Market run - perogies, salad Olivier (basically, a mayo-based potato salad with chunks of bologna), pickled herring on buttered rye, pickles, dilled beet salad, and Dotytron's special beer braised sausages with sauerkraut

I made a bourbon peach jam and have been obsessed with it slathered on everything.  I put a vanilla bean in and the bourbon gives the jam full-bodied floral, honeyed notes.  This is a farm breakfast of biscuits, jam, and hard boiled eggs.

Nicoise salad with seared salmon - loaded with vegetables from the CSA

The Big Yam is a big salmon fan, so we eat it alot for our seafood meals - salmon burgers with more tartar sauce

Grilled barbecue rubbed chicken, with my favorite grilled peach, halloumi, and baby arugula salad

This past Tuesday I made soupe au pistou, which is like French minestrone.  A pistou is a lighter take on pesto - pounded basil leaves with olive oil, garlic, and parmesan, but without nuts.  It really elevates the whole soup, which is loaded with vegetables and beans and zucchini.  To go along with it, I made us paninis with mortadella and robiola cheese, apparently a pretty classic combination.  Robiola is a soft cheese made with goat, sheep, and cow's milk.  Like a funky barnyard brie.  Combined with mortadella it is DIVINE.  I couldn't believe how long I've been living without this combination in my life.

When you look back, it appears as though I've been eating healthy, but what's not pictured is the 12 cookies I'm closing each night with.


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