guille and bel

November 18, 2009

After a foiled attempt last year, the Midgets and Associated Persons Society (MAPS) successfully convened in Stockholm for a thoroughly enjoyable weekend together. In between airport antics and chocolate tastings, we managed to squeeze in a bit of culture at the excellent Kulturhuset downtown. It houses everything from an art filmhouse,  a (comic book) library, dance and theater stages to kids’ space on the fifth floor for reading, drawing and playing, complete with a traffic light visible from street level so parents can see how busy it is before making the trek upstairs.

Appearances can be deceiving, as we found out when trying to decide what to do. The best poster was for Hyun-Jin Kwak’s frankly baffling Girls in Uniform photo exhibition, while Alessandra Sanguinetti ‘s photo biography of two Argentinian cousins turned out to consist of arresting images of a pampas coming-of-age friendship. The photo above was the first one she ever took of Guille and Belinda in 1999, and the forty photos on show follow them through to today. The contrast between the ultra-realism of rural life and the surrealist scenes the cousins created through their games is striking, as is the abandonment the girls quickly showed as they became more comfortable with the camera.

barely there

November 16, 2009


Ms. D not only tipped me off about Liu Bolin’s work, but also complained when a post didn’t immediately appear. And Ms. P took me to task quite seriously during our recent and thoroughly enjoyable trip to Malaysia, about my blog name being a misnomer. So, high time to make the final dash to the finish line of 365 posts! And here’s the bribe: if you tune in right to the end, you’ll be privy to the next Myyear project, preparations for which are already seriously underway…

All this to say, I’m still here! Which is debatable for Liu in his Camouflage series, in its painstaking detail. My favourites are above and below, but check out more of his work here. At a time when all artists are busy shouting out their presence, it’s calming – if slightly disturbing – that someone is doing his very best to disappear into the background.


staff benda bilili

November 3, 2009


Last night’s hoped-for sneak preview of Staff Benda Bilili turned out to be more indirect than expected, due to the members of this band from Congo needing a bit more time to adjust to a wet and November-y Oslo. But French filmmakers Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye who are busy getting their documentary about the most famous handicapped band in Africa did a great job in whipping up enthusiasm, not only for Benda Bilili’s show tomorrow at Rockefeller, but also their singularly no-nonsense approach to everything that life deals out to them.

After being thrown out of various other bands in Kinshasa (for always being late, since moving around town in their home-made wheelchair-trishaws isn’t trivial), the various members decided to start their own band, playing on the street, and rehearsing in the zoo (which is why you can hear toads on their track ‘Polio‘). In between all that, they also find time to protect street kids from the cops and take care of their own families – and now be the hottest new rumba funk band on the planet.

Don’t believe me? Just go to their show, I’m planning to tomorrow and can’t wait. They’re also playing in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Bristol and Oxford this month – that should cover all six remaining Myyear readers. Sorry though toc – their show in Copenhagen was on Sunday, but you guys gave them the Womex 09 prize, so you rock anyway!

great white bear

September 8, 2009


Only polar bears can make curling for a snooze up on an ice sheet look so inviting.  I’ve had a thing for polar bears ever since Little Jacket and I went to this exhibition in London, which traced and tracked down every single polar bear that ever made it to the UK… stuffed. The photos of some of their final resting places (pub entrance, cobwebby attic corner) were a little sad, but some of the (very large) individuals who made it in bear-son were imposingly impressive.

Now Steve Kaslowski (who possibly has even more of a polar bear thing than me) has photographed several of them in Norway’s remote Svalbard archipelago, in quite different, distinctly un-stuffed states. Visit here for a view that will transport you thousands of kilometers up North in an instant. Happy travelling!

unfolded origami

May 20, 2009


Art that almost isn’t there, unfolded origami. Simon Schubert‘s amazing 3D-in-2D art has to be seen to be believed. A preview above, or if you’re lucky enough to be in Berlin, live here. Some of the pieces are surprisingly large!

awkward family photos

May 19, 2009


Awkward Family Photos is the latest addition to my RSS feed. This photo is entitled The Cling-ons.

It’s mean, really, but I feel justified in my giggling, if only because I know my own family album is full of similar gems with big glasses, big hair, and yes, day-glo clothes (so cool). I just hope I won’t find myself featured as an entry one day…

aya of yop city

May 7, 2009


Another complete gem from that unique Montreal-based comic book publishers, Drawn and Quarterly. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen any comic books set in an African country before. Marguerite Abouet’s main aim was to tell a different African story, one that did not involve war or famine. Her resulting books on Aya, in collaboration with her illustrator husband Clément Oubrerie, is the funnest, and funniest, trip back to 1970s Ivory Coast I have (n)ever taken.

I won’t spoil the fun by giving too much away, but Aya and her girlfriends, like teenagers all over the world, are occupied with homework, chores at home, clothes, plans for university, gossiping, and of course… boys! All against a backdrop of a regular Abidjan neighbourhood, which, again like the rest of the world, appears not to have been immune to the delights of disco music and bell-bottomed trousers.

I raced my way through Aya, and its sequel Aya of Yop City (go here and here to read full-colour excerpts of both) and am now awaiting with bated breath the newest book in the series, due for publication in September 2009, Aya: The Secrets Come Out. Ms. Super-G is in the same state after her May Day visit last weekend, and Mr. Snow is ¾ the way there, having finished 1½  Aya books as of last night. Maybe you will be too?

waltz with bashir

April 26, 2009

Almost May, really? Time flies when you’re having fun! I’m still planning on making good on my 365 post-promise, and the good news is that I’m cherry picking the best of what I’ve seen, read and eaten the last few months for your pleasure.

To start with, a serious, but visual delight of storytelling. Waltz with Bashir was on my Film Fra Sør shortlist last year, but it took me till now to get to see it at the cinema. The first animated film to be nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, it tells the story of how the director Ari Folman uncovers his long buried memories of his personal experiences in the Lebanon War.

If you are at all a fan of the graphic novel, this film is definitely for you, as it’s a graphic novel come to life, grippingly and heart-stoppingly so. Few judgements are made on what happened, why and how, but a solemn reminder that every armed conflict affects and marks individuals, people like you and me.

leonardi baa vinci

April 26, 2009

Mr. Snow\’s cousin tipped me off on this one. I\’m sure this has made it into the Shepherding Hall of Fame where he lives. Watch and be azamed. Tusen takk, D!

tapas in oslo

March 24, 2009


I am not quite sure what to think of the restaurant that Special K and I went to before Christmas. So i think I’ll just tell you what happened and you can decide for yourselves.

We had decided on tapas and choose Toro Toro as I hadn’t been there before. Our suspicions should maybe have been raised when we spied the fireplace playing on the TV, or when the (authentic) Spanish waiter seemed quite astonished when we indicated we wanted to order some food. The menu wasn’t huge but adequate and we chose a mix of veggie, fish and meat tapas.

Our drinks – a perfectly serviceable red wine – came quickly,  as did the food, though this requires rather more clarification. I suppose my main issue with Toro Toro’s tapas was the wildly varying quality. For example: great olives (harder than you might think to source). Good (but not amazing) Serrano ham, but light, perfectly seasoned deep-fried calamari. The grilled shrimp were full of finger-lickin’, garlicky flavour.

But then there was the slightly odd. The aioli seemed to have more than a passing resemblance to sandwich spread, and the dip for the patatas bravas (in themselves alright) was simply unidentifiable. The bizarre artichoke hearts in blue cheese were a step further along the oddness scale. We thought the chef might have known something we didn’t in combining the two, but sadly, he didn’t.

Finally, definitely terrible was the sorry excuse for Spanish tortilla that was put on our table, soggy and mushy in the extreme. It kept being left as we finished off the other tapas. When the Australian chef happened to walk past, we stopped him to ask just what had happened the tortilla that had led to its pathetic state. I’m not sure if it made things better or worse, that the chef then open-heartedly apologized for its poor quality, saying how he’d been away with his newborn baby, and hence hadn’t had time to prepare fresh tortillas.

To be fair, a fresh dish of tortilla was subsequently delivered to our table, much improved in texture, though sadly not in flavour. Our complaint to the waiter about the first, soggy version elicited a dark muttering of ‘Well, in Spain we don’t reheat our tortillas in the oven’. Even so (and the arrival of new babies notwithstanding), that’s no excuse for trying to sneak out food so clearly past its best.

For that alone, only 1 star out of 5, despite the great calamari. I have no idea what the other (strangely positive) online reviewers for Toro Toro are on about. Because, who knows what that might be like next time around? For your money, Delicatessen is a safer, if slightly too-kool-for-skool, overly crowded bet. And, my new favourite with nice big portions, is Barcelona on Markveien. Good food, friendly service, and you don’t even have to shout to make yourself heard. Bonus!

1/5 stars Toro Toro Ruseløkkveien 14,0251 Oslo. 22 83 25 50

3/5 stars Delicatessen Søndre Gate 8, 0550 Oslo. 22 71 45 46

4/5 stars Barcelona Tapas Bar Markveien 42, 0554 Oslo. 22 37 05 00