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December 16, 2013

LATELY, IN MOVIES

I had barely heard of Blue is the Warmest Colour when I decided to take myself out to TIFF to see it. From my brief research before seeing it, I had come across things like "intense/ explicit sex scene" and "needs a cold shower" but also things like "beautiful" and "honest depiction of love". That coupled with it already in the Criterion Collection, I was intrigued. It definitely was an honest, beautiful movie with yes, an extremely long explicit love making scene. I was captured the entire film, but it didn't leave me with an overwhelming feeling of bliss that I've experienced with other films (most recently 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her). Whether there is a sequel or not, I love the way in ended coming full circle and yet new. Frances Ha, also a recent addition to the Criterion Collection, has been on my list for a while as I love Greta Gerwig (her movies also here and here). It was super relatable (female, mid20s, career/ soul searching), beautifully filmed in black and white, and honest. It's also one of those movies that you can easily rewatch right away.
Life of Pi is one of my favourite novels of all time. We had to read it in high school and I did an intense project on it (I got an A+, nbd) so it always stayed with me. The movie exceeded my expectations. Its about life, belief and strength. Body language of animals is so fascinating. Your Sister's Sister was also on my list for a while. I was expecting something else however, and I feel like the ending left me wondering only about the plot and not about much more.
TIFF programs a series called The Free Screen which hosts monthly free, that's right free, screenings of experimental films and video works. I saw both of the following films during these nights. Backbone: Vancouver Experimental Cinema is a documentary about the emergence of experimental filmmaking in Canada. TIFF showed a series of short films by the artists in the documentary, which is the film that I saw. I was working on my own very first short 'film' (which I will show soon!), so it was inspiring to see the magical images these artists were creating between 1967 and 1981. twohundredfiftysixcolors is a two hour film with over 3000 GIFs. It was interesting to see the narrative that was created based on their editing decisions and my own tendency to create links between subject matter. It was also silent, as GIFs naturally are, so listening to my own internal soundtrack was fun.

November 26, 2013

HANDMADE PRESSED FLOWER CARDS

Big news!! I've finally opened up my Etsy shop where I am selling Handmade Pressed Flower Cards! I have been foraging flowers from around Toronto throughout this past spring and summer and drying them in my home. Wild flowers, flowers from gardens (okay, I'm respectful and try to collect fallen flowers only), leaves and weeds are my favourite.
I've been creating cards of my own design for about a year now, my first series featuring clipped leaves and needles from coniferous trees. Then the spring and summer came and produced the most beautiful blooms, so that's when I began collecting and passively making cards for family and friends. I love making these cards (among other things) when I need a creative outlet. I have a huge collection of dried flowers and blank cards, so I figure I might as well try and sell them and see where that takes me.
These are photos of some of my favourite cards I've created. All of them (21 one of a kind cards, to be exact) are now for sale here! Finally the Shop button of my website no longer says "Coming Soon", just in time for the holidays! Check out my shop and let me know what you think! I'm also available to create any card specific to your needs or featuring your favourite flower (pending availability of course!). Thank you for your support :)

November 25, 2013

FIRST SNOW FALL

We (Toronto) experienced our first snowfall of the season this past Saturday. That evening I went to go see one of my pals DJ her first solo Motown set, which she owned, so I had about a half hour walk in the freezing cold. The best part of winter is how everyone longs to be cosy and warm inside with friends. The streets were silent, but life was buzzing indoors. In the end, I thought it was a romantic solo walk and I saw some incredible 'city' moments. Here are some photographs of my walk before and after the bar along Bloor Street West.
1. The streets are quiet but this electronic shop is alive and making its presence. 
2. Ladies were laundering clothing late into the night. The heat of the machines meet the cold weather outside on the surface of the windows. 
3. An Italian deli proudly showing off their goods, ready to unveil their meats for Sunday morning customers. 
4. A restaurant overwhelmed with red lights makes it seem as warm as it probably feels, packed with patrons.
 5. The chairs in this barber shop, draped with towels and cloaks, silent but ready for customers.

November 20, 2013

LATELY, IN MOVIES

Scenes of a Sexual Nature was a movie of interactions and relationships of varying degrees, all taking place within a park on one afternoon. It wasn't anything that blew me away. The documentary Tent City, U.S.A. explored the self-sustained homeless community in Nashville and really made me think about the rights of the homeless. It also reminded me of Toronto's own self-governed Tent City, which shut down in 2002.
The following two films are both documentaries by Michael Glawogger that deal with similar subject matter of cities, humanity, and survival. There is also a third in the 'trilogy', Workingman's Death, that I have yet to locate. Megacities blew me away, for obvious (to me) reasons. It's a beautiful portrait of four cities - New York City, Bombay, Mexico City, Moscow - and the humanity and common struggles/ beauty we all share regardless of location. This particular view of cities is expressed through twelve stories of survival. It's a MUST see. Whores' Glory is absolutely stunning. Glawogger has an incredible ability to capture the raw reality of sex work (particularly women)  in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico, and the emotion and true needs and desires of the subjects. There is no escaping this truth and the resourcefulness of these women who are doing what it takes to survive. If you are interested in cities, these films are a must see as the imagery and life that is captured is so stunning.
Lately I've been watching as many films listed in the Criterion Collection as possible, well because they are magic. Hiroshima Mon Amour has one of the most beautiful starts to a movie: scenes of Hiroshima, before and after and during destruction, paired with a loving embrace. It's also a beautiful story of a magical love affair, if you're into that. You know when you see a movie and it blows you away? Well, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her did exactly that. It's only my second Jean-Luc Godard movie I've ever seen but I'm instantly hooked. Everything from the themes (politics, language, reality vs illusion) to the colours, to the way the actors interact with the camera. It's just perfection. I'm so inspired by Godard. If you appreciate film, add this one too your list ASAP.

November 5, 2013

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM

The Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan is another example of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural genius. This building is definitely a favourite, right after Falling Water of course (seen here and here). Interestingly Frank Lloyd Wright did not want to build in New York, as he thought that it was overpopulated, overbuilt, and lacked architectural merit. But in the end, he chose its location on Fifth Avenue across from Central Park due to its proximity to nature which offered relief from the noise and congestion of the city. Unfortunately, Frank Lloyd Wright passed away before its completion in 1959.
The building is unlike any other. Its beautiful, clean white exterior is so pleasing to the eye. Wright understood the problems with museums in that visitors would explore artwork and artifacts in a series of connected rooms but then have to retrace their steps to exit the building. In order to avoid this problem, you enter into a beautiful rotunda atrium, take an elevator to the top floor, and walk down a winding ramp where the work is then placed. This is directly translated to the exterior of the building with its round curves that speak of such beautiful movement happening in the interior.
Because of this design, the museum can then be experienced in an entirely new way. The flow of circulation becomes the means in which the work is viewed, at a slow, leisurely pace. The ramp off of the large rotunda gives the visitor a unique way of viewing the work on different levels simultaneously. It also is an interesting way to view others viewing work, which is my favourite aspect of this design.
I was so fortunate to see the James Turrell exhibition this past summer at the Guggenheim because he completely transformed the building. Turrell enclosed the rotunda using a series of scrims which were highlighted with beautiful lighting, altering the perception and very essence of Wright's design. Here are some vines (here and here) I created inside the museum, where you can see the white scrim blocking the atrium rotunda. I highly, highly suggest you visit the Guggenheim when in New York if you haven't yet. Frank Llyod Wright is a dream.

All photos taken by Natasha Basacchi.

October 31, 2013

DEFINED SPACES

Designated Smoking Area vs No Smoking Area
Toronto Western Hospital

October 23, 2013

BARRIE: SIDEWALK AND PATIO EXTENSIONS

As most of my family lives at least an hour bus ride north of the city, I often find myself in Barrie. However that isn't quite accurate of me to say because I'm either at my sister's home or the Barrie Bus Terminal. A few weeks ago I had a half an hour to kill so I decided to walk around 'Downtown Barrie' and finally explore the city. This area sits on Lake Simcoe, more specifically Kempenfelt Bay, which is just a quick walk from Dunlop Street where all the action is happening. There are large, beautiful galleries and performance theatres, lots of small businesses, pubs and restaurants, which isn't out of the ordinary. What I didn't expect and what I saw was a relatively 'hot' urban intervention: a section of the sidewalks extended to give some restaurants more patio space.
The first time I ever saw something like this was in San Francisco. Parklets take over a parking space and in replacement add a public (not private) space where seating and tables can be added. It completely changes the feeling of the street and becomes a more inviting, social atmosphere. Toronto is starting to get our own examples of parklets with the first pilot project taking place on Church Street. This 'new urbanism' intervention is something I didn't expect to see in the suburbs, but its so inspiring that it is. The pictures I've taken are only examples of a cut into parking spaces when restaurant/ pub patio spaces have been extended, but there are also sections where in essence the sidewalk size is doubled. These interventions will be taken down in the winter.
It was such a treat to stumble upon these urban interventions because you can really start to understand and investigate how people use public space. Dunlop Street is a vibrant street, I'd compare it to Queen Street here in Toronto, so by refreshing the public realm there is a new opportunity for people to spend a little more time on the streets, to have more interactions, and to notice the changes around them. Maybe it's just me, but successful or not its a dreamy idea and I hope to keep stumbling upon more of these 'parklets'.
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