Monday, May 17, 2021

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia 2021

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.

The date of May 17th was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. The Day represents a major global annual landmark to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, the public, corporations, opinion leaders, local authorities, etc. to the alarming situation faced by people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.

May 17 is now celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal. Thousands of initiatives, big and small, are reported throughout the planet.

The International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia has received official recognition from several States, international institutions such as the European Parliament, and by countless local authorities. Most United Nations agencies also mark the Day with specific events.

Please visit the website for more uplifting and empowering information.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

"Visions" by José González

José González (previously here) has treated us to another beautiful, profound song. Watch the earth fly by, but watch out for the spanner in this video for "Visions" from his forthcoming album "Local Valley," due out September 17, 2021.

Trying to make sense of the now
Trying to make sense of the past
To show us how

Imagining the worlds that could be
Shaping a mosaic of fates
For all sentient beings

Cycles of growth and decay
Cascading chains of events
With no one to praise or blame

Avoidable suffering and pain
We are patiently inching our way
Toward unreachable utopias

Enslaved by the forces of nature
Elevated by mindless replicators
Challenged to steer our collective destiny

Look at the magic of reality
While accepting with all honesty
That we can't know for sure what's next

No we can't know for sure what's next

But that we're in this together
We are here together

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Friday, May 14, 2021

"Please" by Jessie Ware

Oh, I just love Jessie Ware (previously here) and her glorious, nostalgic, disco sound tinged with a 90s club vibe, but perfect for right now. Listen to this dance fantasia "Please" from the Platinum Pleasure version of her album "What's Your Pleasure?" So much fun.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

BEAUTY: Painting--Heidrun Rathgeb

I love the sweet, naïve, pensive sense in the simple, domestic scenes of printmaker and painter Heidrun Rathgeb.

Top to bottom: Boy In The Bath; Coming Home At Dusk; Hermine; Judith and the Neowise Comet; L Asleep; Lights Off; Mirror; Threshold

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

"Chernobyl" by GusGus and Bjarki

I am moved by this fascinating song and video for "Chernobyl" by GusGus (previously here) with Bjarki. The visual narrative is touching and the song is like a soundtrack, propelling our heroine along on her painful journey of memory.

I was in Europe the summer of 1986, the summer of Chernobyl. It was my first trip abroad. There had also been some terrorist attacks (back when such things were relatively uncommon) and between these two dangerous events, the tourist turnout that summer was quite low. I recall having a lot of elbow room in England, France, and Italy. I enjoyed relatively uncrowded streets and very short lines, if any, at museums and cathedrals. But there was an advisory against eating any seafood as the radioactive cloud from Chernobyl had drifted over the open ocean and contaminated the marine life...sadly, I was unable to dive into one of Venice's famed Frutti di Mare feasts.

If you were not around then and are not familiar with the details, I highly recommend watching the HBO limited series "Chernobyl." It is a stunning cinematic achievement that captures quite well what went on. The series won a slew of awards including an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

BEAUTY: Collage--Laura Weiler

Regular readers know I like and create collage art (previously here) but I am quite picky about what type...and Laura Weiler's work intrigues me. I like how she incorporates the deckled edges of ripped paper and newspaper into her compositions, providing an extra three dimensional texture. I suspect I could learn from her technique of using a plain color block as her ground for some images. And the fact that she uses only vintage imagery and antique newsprint completes the feeling of her work.

Monday, May 10, 2021

BEAUTY: Photography--Fiorella Baldisserri

Italian photographer Fiorella Baldisserri's approach is that of a photojournalist and her series Morris the "Cinemaio" is entirely charming and nostalgic (some of these images take me right back to the dark and hushed excitement of the little, red-velvet-draped movie theatre in the tiny town in upstate New York where I grew up). In this series, she documents the sole owner and operator of a cinema in a small town in the province of Bologna, Italy. Morris Donini is dedicated to the magical world of film but like many people in many different professions, he has struggled during COVID. She writers about her series below:

"Cinema has always been Morris Donini’s dream. Everyone knows and loves him as Morris the 'cinemaio', the artisan of the cinema. In this year of forced closure due to the pandemic, he decides to keep showing movies in an empty theater. In the darkness of his cinema, Morris sits on an armchair or on the floor at the back of the room, as he used to do during normal times, as if he is savoring lights and atmospheres that only images can give. He keeps the doors open to allow the inhabitants of the small town to hear the voices and the music of the stories projected, while flashes of light come out as reflections that send a message: cinema exists, the show goes on. Resilience is also and mostly this: Morris (and sometimes his dog), as a sole spectator in a moment of great difficulty, with closed cinemas but with rents to be paid, with strength and determination, hoping that lights won’t switch off forever. Since his childhood, Morris drew cinemas in school notebooks with his flans for posters and his film reviews. From an early age, dreams are created and they later become ideals to be pursued. By chance he met the owner of a cinema in a small town in the province of Bologna and since then, every day, he asked him to become part of that world as he wanted to experience the atmosphere of the room, with its red velvet fabrics, the armchairs and the magical screen. In return he offered to run small works. Years passed and on the death of the owner he was asked to manage that cinema. Morris was 29 and without a second thought he accepted. Today he directs three provincial cinemas: cinema to give cultural identity even to small towns. Morris pursued an ideal of life that with patience and dedication became a reality. In Italy, cinema business has undergone a drastic reduction of more than 70% in terms of presences and incomes, causing an estimated loss of more than 25 million spectators: a collapse that has never been seen or even hypothesized since the birth of this sector which today is an industry."

Sunday, May 9, 2021

BBC Style: Maximalism!

'Cluttercore': the anti-minimalist trend that celebrates mess

By Bel Jacobs
3rd May 2021

Image credit: The Apartment, Copenhagen

Maximalist interiors full of mismatched stuff are a sign of the times. Bel Jacobs explores the rise of creative chaos at home, and why it makes us feel safe and cocooned.

"I've always been fascinated by all types of objects: toys, illustrated books, postcards, porcelain," says Spanish artist Juanjo Fuentes, who is telling BBC Culture about his fantastical home in the historic centre of Malaga, in which almost every surface is covered by a joyous array of baubles and curios. "I get things from flea markets and I've always been the one keeping the family objects. And I'm very lucky because my friends offer me the objects that belonged to their relatives – they are more minimalist than I am," he laughs.

The rooms are filled with gorgeous abundance: light and pattern, inspiration for both the eye and the mind. Artworks, exchanged with fellow artists, swell the walls. It's no surprise that, when the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) was looking for artists to illustrate the act of creative curation, they paired Fuentes with British photographer Martin Parr: "Both collections are generated by compulsive collecting and mass results." That was 2012. Now, nine years later, Fuentes' beautiful eclecticism feels more relevant than ever.

Artist Juanjo Funetes's home in Spain is full of interesting and beautiful curios
(Credit: Juanjo Fuentes)

He's not the only one to prefer an eclectic, cluttered approach. Currently, the UK news is dominated by a story about the refurbishment of PM Boris Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds' flat. In an opinion piece, the Guardian describes the look of Symonds' chosen interior designer, Lulu Lytle, as "two parts Raj, one part boho, two parts anteroom from the set of The Crown". For most maximalists though, the look is less specific.

The pandemic has changed the way we relate to the world, re-igniting a love of loungewear as well as indoor glamour, outdoor spaces and even our ideas of society. And it has changed the way we relate to our homes. Once, spaces that we only saw at the top and tails of days have become busily multifunctional: nurseries as well as offices, battlegrounds as well as sanctuaries. For some, that meant clear outs – charity shops are bracing themselves for the flood of second-hand goods – but for others, that has meant surrounding themselves with things they love.

"People are taking this self-swaddling approach, particularly now," says Jennifer Howard, author of Clutter: An Untidy History. "We want to feel safe, we want to feel comfortable, we want to feel protected and taken care of – stuff can act like a literal cocoon." Social media has anointed this new movement #cluttercore, totting up more than 13 million views on TikTok at the time of writing, and more than 7,000 mentions on Instagram. After decades of being told to put our things away, here finally is a trend that celebrates disorder, challenges restraint, and puts maximalism front and centre.

Those imagining week-old cups of tea and discarded pizza boxes associated with the word "clutter" will be disappointed. Even famous scenes of disarray such as artist Francis Bacon's bombsite of a studio wouldn't cut it. Cluttercore offers vibrant (but never grimy) explosions of colour and texture, patterns and prints, kitsch against classic. "'Clutter' suggests something chaotic to me, so it's fascinating to see this sort of intentional approach to clutter," muses Howard. "It's more creative chaos."

The eclectic style of interior designer Lulu Lytle is said to be admired by Carrie Symonds, the UK PM's fiancée
(Credit: Soane Britain / Lulu Lytle sample image)

Look up the definition of "clutter" in the Oxford English Dictionary, ("A collection of things lying about in an untidy state") and it feels inaccurate to describe this interiors phenomenon. Cluttercore is not about filling rooms with tat; it's about loving what you already own. In a changing world, where constants are being challenged, cluttercore helps people ground themselves in the material, and in beautiful things that often hark from a more stable past. "There's a real sense of abundance that is appealing right now, given how constricted our lives have become," says Howard.

Exuberant mismatching

Fuentes's home is a case in point: a lush exercise in exuberant mismatching in which every piece has its place. In last autumn's issue of Modern House, Alison Lloyd of luxury accessories label Ally Capellino offered readers the "organised clutter" of her home, with its decorated eggs and found objects and the odd quirky touch, like a branch suspended over a fireplace. In this spring's World of Interiors, British designer's Matthew Williamson's Balearic retreat displays a "joyful maximalism". In everything, he asks: "Can I increase the happy factor?"

Founded by Tina Seidenfaden Busck, The Apartment, a design gallery located in an 18th-Century building in Copenhgaen, offers a similar visual joie-de-vivre. Hailed in a recent article in the Financial Times as "one of the pioneers of the mismatched, love-worn look", Busck is a former Sotheby's employee turned art consultant. The Apartment is designed to look like a private home, albeit one that is constantly changing, from which you can purchase anything you see: from the art to the furniture. Nothing "matches" but everything looks spectacularly desirable.

The Apartment in Copenhagen is a design gallery and a pioneer of the eclectic, maximalist look
(Credit: The Apartment, Copenhagen)

Vintage exhibition posters may sit alongside coffee tables by Danish designer Kaare Klint, Murano glass chandeliers and an Italian manila rope doormat made by a fisherman, discovered by Busck while on holiday. "If I don't love it, I don't buy it," says Busck. "When I look around my home, there are so many things with different nationalities and dates of origin but somehow it all comes together, so there must be some thread between the things I'm attracted to." The pandemic, she adds, has reminded us that home should be a place "where you are surrounded by things that you love, rather than those you put up with".

And social media provides inspiration. Take the beautiful New Jersey home of @1920craftsman, whose sleek wooden floors are brightened with vintage glass accents and foliage; mid-century cane-work armchairs with burnt orange seats are a Facebook marketplace find, a vintage glass lightshade was bought in second-hand shop. "For me, these objects tell a story and capture the story of our home. They're a reflection of us."

"Joyful maximalism" is how fashion-and-interiors designer Matthew Williamson describes his aesthetic
(Credit: Matthew Williamson for Belmond la Residencia)

Happiness, exuberance, complexity, storytelling: it's quite a shift from orchestrated minimalism that has dominated design media. Organising guru Marie Kondo has been its most passionate exponent, persuading ordinary people and celebrities to jettison items from their homes that don't "spark joy"; her legacy is continued by blogs and television series including US presenters The Minimalists, whose book Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works is due out in July 2021.

It couldn't last forever; apart from anything else, keeping one's house spick and span is hard work. "One personal organiser I interviewed mentioned that a lot of her clients who aspire to minimalism find they just can't live that way," reflects Howard. "Life is not full of spacious surfaces without stuff on them." Advocates of cluttercore, she says, "admit that they have a lot of stuff but that they're going to take pleasure in that and arrange [their items] in ways they like. As a counter aesthetic to the minimalist hegemony, that makes sense to me."

Sometimes, it's good not to do what magazines tell you to. Cluttercore turns ordinary people into curators. It takes real creativity to think about what goes where and what each item says about the other. Plus, decluttering can possess bleaker undertones. "I have a running list of theories," writes Howard. "People organise and declutter to distract themselves from the seriousness of living in the Anthropocene and its existential threats – a burning planet, the Sixth Great Extinction – inoculating us against the pandemic of anxiety." You'll never tidy your house in the same way again.

And there are yet other benefits to maximalism. Richer nations throw away tons of stuff every year, often dumping unwanted items on poorer countries who lack the infrastructure to dispose of them properly, decimating local landscapes. In this context, cluttercore becomes a revolutionary riposte to the explosion of "stuff" driving just some of the problems Howard outlines.

The walls of Fuentes's apartment are adorned from top to bottom with works by fellow artists (Credit Araceli Martin Chicano)

After plotting the history of poorly made objects and the "resulting crisis of hyper-consumerism" in her new book Loved Clothes Last, Orsola de Castro writes: "As a self-confessed clothes keeper, I am no fan of decluttering." Hailed as "a kind of anti-Marie Kondo," the fashion campaigner describes storing unworn clothes and then digging them out every few years. "The feeling is the same as being contacted by an old, much-loved friend. This year, I rediscovered an incredible midi Shantung silk skirt and have been wearing it everywhere."

De Castro's experience makes it clear: just because an item doesn't spark joy right now, there's nothing to say it won't in the future – which is all the more reason to keep it in front of you. Does Fuentes ever pack away unused items? "It never happens. I know exactly where everything is. Sometimes, as a joke, my family hides things – but I realise instantly." How does living among his objects make Fuentes feel? "I wouldn't know how to live without them. They all have a story. They are part of my life."

Link to original article:

Saturday, May 8, 2021

"The Sea" by Jordan Hunt

Absolutely mesmerizing.

Jordan Hunt (previously here) sings "The Sea" which, dear readers, rips me apart. He says, "When you are classically trained, you’re taught that music is the point. But I’ve grown to believe that an emotional connection with the audience is much more important. Trained singers can be impressive, but you also need that nugget of rawness to draw you in. Without that, there’s no substance, just performance. Iconic singers have both."

Like the other songs and videos from his extended play release "Long Lost," this is exquisite, not only sonically and lyrically but visually as well.

Friday, May 7, 2021

BEAUTY: Photography--Daniel Freeman

English photographer Daniel Freeman loves to travel across the United States capturing images of small towns and villages at night. The atmosphere is lovely and lonely with a single streetlight or neon sign illuminating empty streets and sidewalks...

He has released a collection of these mysterious, moody images in a book called MIDNIGHT ON MAIN. To buy a copy, see the link at the bottom.