Showing posts from January, 2019

The Body Transformed

Friday night—watched first 3 episodes of the series Atlanta. Good script but uneven acting. GH hated it. The black body as brute and brutalized, as tender and tenderness.

Saturday night—Gina Apostol read from INSURRECTO for Second Saturdays. She began a little unsteadily, as I've seen her do at other readings, and then she settled into it and delivered a passionate voicing of the many characters in her novel. The novel restores my faith in the literary form, in its capacity to revisit the atrocities of history and not merely to recount them, but to re-view them. The colonizer is in me just as I am in my colonizer. There is an essential mystery to the large-scale horrors of history, just as there is to final act of the suicide.

Sunday—The Met's "Epic Abstraction" show was a big disappointment. After two gigantic rooms of Pollocks and Rothkos, one of this and one of that, in a misguided attempt to show the influence of Abstract Expressionism beyond American shores and …

Invitation to an Insurrection

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Dueling Narratives About Colonial Rule

In the early morning of September 28, 1901, Filipino revolutionaries, led by local police chief Valeriano Abanador, attacked the American garrison stationed in Balangigi, on the island of Samar. They killed 36 and wounded 22 in action. In retaliation, the Americans swept through the island, burning villages and killing anyone, men and women, above the age of 10. Their order was to make Samar "a howling wilderness." Estimates of the number of casualties range from 2,500 to 50,000.

In her new novel INSURRECTO, Gina Apostol approaches this historical incident of colonial brutality through the dueling narratives of an American filmmaker and her Filipino translator. In the process Apostol also tells the stories of women artists and revolutionaries, daughters and lovers, coming to an understanding of the truth of their lives, including one Casiana Naci…

Foamy Days

Last night watched Mood Indigo (2013), original title L'écume des jours, which may be translated as "Foamy Days." Like its title, the movie was light and whimsical, until it turned dark. Wealthy inventive bachelor Colin (Romain Duris, who looked stunningly like BV) fell in love with Chloé (Audrey Tautou) who fell ill due to a flower growing in her lung. To keep her alive, he spent his fortune surrounding her with fresh flowers. At their first meeting, they danced to Duke Ellington's "Choe." Directed by Michael Gondry, the movie is based on the novel by Boris Vian.

Today, after a rainy and cold brunch, we walked into the greenhouse of the Urban Garden Center under the railway tracks in Harlem, and came out of it with a Peace Lily. It now sits on our desks between us in our studio. After trying out a few names, boys' and girls', we've decided, I think, to call it Chloe. Welcome, Chloe, to our lives.

New Croton Dam

Spent yesterday with PYR who brought me to see the magnificent Croton Dam. Then a drive through the miniscule downtown of Croton-on-Hudson and lunch of home-made siew mai and popiah at her place. Lovely day, which ended with a Gaudy Boy team meeting at Rasa back in the city.

Happy New Year from Singapore Unbound

"What reprieve the streets could be, what rain
falling endlessly from the eaves of shophouses
as a line of trees becomes the token gesture
nature makes to signify an elsewhere here
where a woman slowly rises to become the shadow of a shadow of me."

—from Lawrence Lacambra Ypil's forthcoming book THE EXPERIMENT OF THE TROPICS

2018 changed into 2019 on a rainy night in New York City. The rain, however, did not dampen the merrymaking on the streets much. Instead, with the right pair of eyes, or pair of light-up glasses, you could have seen the rain signifying both here and elsewhere, as Ypil's lines above evoke, both past and future, not in the style of transformation, but in the method of what English poet William Wordsworth called interfusion, which is the art of both poetry and photography.

Gaudy Boy publishes Ypil's lyrical meditation on photographs of colonial Philippines in April, together with its fellow winner of the first Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Award…


Tuesday, Dec 18—Read Kevin Killian's Fascination. Who would have guessed that the North Shore of Long Island was so full of incident and pathos in the 70s? This three-decker memoir is in search of lost time, the writer's teens and twenties, lived in a haze of drugs and drink and drool-worthy boys. "Move along the velvet rope, run your shaky fingers past the lacquered zigzag Keith Haring graffito: "You did not live in our time! Be Sorry!""

Friday, Dec 28—Saw the Indian's Progressive Artists' Group show at Asia Society. Ram Kumar's "Unemployed Graduates" (1956), F. N. Souza's "Tycoon and the Tramp" (1955) and "Girl with the Silken Whip" (1963), and S. H. Raza's two "Ls Tere"'s (1973 and 1985) were stand-outs. My favorite painting was V. S. Gaitonde's Untitled (1962) abstract work, commissioned by Air India. After the show GH and I had Spanish tapas, Barcelona-style, at the very fine Boquer…