Out of the series of Best American Comics series, this anthology was my least favorite. I resented being lectured by the author to “read it like a book… stop skimming,” when I was already following his insistent directions.
Highlights included an excerpt from Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel, and Canadian Royalty by Michael DeForge (I love everything that DeForge does, to be sure).
I had an issue with the presentation of Building Stories in the anthology–what is arguably the best graphic novel of the decade was formatted horrendously. It is an unconventional graphic novel, and any attempt to put it into a book format does it a serious disservice.
The Ama are predominantly female pearl divers from Japan, although their breed is dying out–although new Ama continue to be trained, it is now seen as a grandmother’s job. In a tradition purported to be 2,000 years old, the Ama dived in nothing but a loincloth up until the 1960s. Today, they wear a wetsuit at most. Although this is generally not one’s only job, it is a job that lasts a lifetime–the older divers are reputed to be able to dive the longest.
More can be read about them here, although I prefer to study the images of the Ama through the lens of photographer Yoshiyuki Iwase:
The nude female form in these photographs is presented with awe; their musculature seems asexual in this photo–almost a meditation on human strength. Whereas this:
is a dead ringer for contemporary Western pinup photography. It’s an interesting, mismatched photo series as a whole.
See them all here.
Shenyang’s Oddball Architecture: As I gear up for a year studying the history of Chinese architecture in Beijing, I love reading articles like this (if only to satiate myself!). There’s a great many ‘oddball’ buildings in China–it’s being treated like an architect’s wonderland right now, often with few limits on funding or structure. Sometimes this results in great works of architecture, such as (IMHO) the CCTV tower by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, but then you have the case in point of this article, the Feng Yuan building, a misguided attempt to fuse international modern architecture with Chinese aesthetics.
‘Selma’ Costumes Reveal Class and Consciousness of the Movement: I desperately want to see this movie! I really love seeing costume designers vividly display their characters’ fears, desires, and ambitions in the way they dress themselves.
“Okay. I was walking to the store, and I saw this man on a park bench. He said, ‘come here please.’ So I went over to him. I said, ‘what do you need?’ He grabbed me by the shirt, and he held a knife to my throat and told me he was going to cut me. I told him — I said, ‘go ahead and cut me.’ And I said, ‘I’ll be coming back, and I’ll hunt your ass.’ Oops. Am I supposed to say that? I’m sorry… I wasn’t afraid. And for some reason, he let me go. And I went home.”
The original story was featured on this week’s episode of Invisibilia (NPR), which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Social Issues–A Woman in Uniform: Being a police officer in contemporary America is fraught with issues–it’s a tough life to lead as a man, but I would argue it’s even tougher to occupy that role as a woman. This is an interesting exploration of both one woman’s experience as a NY police officer, as well as an examination of what the literal uniform means to her.
Buzzfeed’s Great Middle California Architectural Road Trip: If I ever get back to my home state, I would love to actually complete this trip. I’ve read about the Watts towers and are desperate to see them! (Check out the comments–seems like everyone who has visited thinks it’s pretty cool, too.)
Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014: This group of stories/plays/peoms/podcasts/what-have-you was chosen by a select group of high-school-aged kids from around the US. The result is an eclectic (and wonderful) mix of literature. My favorites: ‘An Interview with Mona Eltahawy’ by Yasmine El Rashidi, ‘Embarazada’ by Andrew Foster Altschul, ‘The Saltwater Twin’ by Maia Morgan, and ‘Joy’ by Zadie Smith.
Olikoye: Okay, not a book, but rather a (very) short story, from one of the authors I have heard a lot about in recent months. I’ve been excited to read Americanah by this author (Chimamandah Ngozi Adichie), and this was a great story in and of itself. It tells a family history of sorts through naming rites, shedding light on both the family in particular as well as Nigerian culture.
Random Content from Around the Internet:
Monolith Controversies: The award-winning Chilean entry into the Venice architecture biennale 2014. This exhibition is about the prefabricated concrete block and how it came to shape residential space in turbulent 1970s Chile (during that era, Chile faced a 180 degree political turn from the communist policies of Salvador Allende, to the conservative, religious dictatorship of Pinochet via coup).
Check this work out:
Looks a bit like a Norman Rockwell painting was superimposed on a photograph, right? Makes you think about the miracle of photoshop.
That’s a real man.
Alexa Meade is a “25-year-old artist whose work lies at the intersection of painting, photography, performance, and installation.” She paints models in the style of 2D paintings and then sets them free, running through our 3D world, re-compressed into the final product we see here. She straddles the split between reality and perception in her art, and makes us question our own knowledge in the process. Her work brings the art of trompe l’oeil into the modern age.
From the Washington Post:
Meade uses a brush. She paints skin on skin, lips on lips and eyebrows on eyebrows, and the insides of nostrils, using her own mixture of nontoxic paints and unspecified ingredients. Her subjects must sit still for multiple hours as she follows the natural contours of their faces, varying brushstroke and color to exhume their inner essence. When she’s done, they appear banished to two-dimensionality, yet they also seem fuller, more dynamic. She then sets her subjects in an installation, or photographs them. There are no touch-ups or special effects beyond acrylic on flesh and the initial complacency of the observer.
Check out her other work here.
The Snow by Tokujin Yushioka is currently installed at the Mori Art Museum in Japan.
The piece is a part of a larger exhibit called “Sensing Nature.”
Inside the 15-meter tank are millions of feathers that float within.
It must be amazing to behold.