By Deb A.
In a time when famous people of colour can safely assume that they will be asked about #OscarsSoWhite in practically any interview, and when representations of black lives in the media often revolve around tragedy and the response to it, Zun Lee wants to draw our attention instead to "black love and black joy... everyday moments that are very quiet, but at the same time very powerful."
Mr. Lee is a photographer whose most recent exhibit, Fade Resistance at The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, consists of over 1,000 photos that he did not take.
Four years ago, during the American recession, Mr. Lee stumbled across a box of old Polaroids. He knocked on doors to find the owners, but neighbours couldn't identify the subjects. It wasn't uncommon, he was told, for photos to be left out on the street. Unable to find the owners, he kept the box, and decided to build an archive of African American life as told through similar images.
Thanks to eBay and yard sales, his collection now consists of about 3,500 photographs documenting everything from newborns and family gatherings to hobbies and holidays from the 1970s to the 2000s.
Although Fade Resistance's primary aim is to emphasize the agency of the individuals and families in the photos, Mr. Lee is also acutely aware of the risk of objectification that comes with his exhibitions, telling the CBC, "it weighs on me to not really have the original owners attached to them. They're actual families, who know what these photos meant, and us speculating about them is kind of not OK." He posts his images on social media, hoping that he'll hear from the families to whom they belong, whether it's to reclaim the pictures or to instruct him to remove them from the Internet.
Fade Resistance asks us to consciously confront the vast gap between self-representation of black lives and media narratives about African Americans, and to decide that for all of us, "we are enough as we are".
By Deb A.
Both Harper Lee and Umberto Eco died on Friday.
While some have searched for meaningful commonalities between the two authors--with results ranging from the need for their readers to be curious to the relevance of their lead characters today--there is meaning to be found elsewhere too.
The extremely private author of To Kill a Mockingbird and her more outgoing contemporary both earned reputations as literary greats, but in very different ways. Ms. Lee's most famous tale took a child's point of view to tackle the pervasive racism of the Deep South in the 1930s and quickly became required reading in high schools across America; Mr. Eco's The Name of the Rose is a post-modernist mystery set in the 14th century that quivers with erudite references to everything from medieval history to philosophy to literary theory. Ms. Lee published just two books, 55 years apart; Mr. Eco's bibliography includes novels, children's books and essays.
Had they not died on the same day it is not unreasonable to believe that their names would very rarely appear beside each other, apart from an end-of-year reading list. But taken together, they remind us of one thing: no matter how they're written, no matter what the subject matter, a good book can touch the world.
By Deb A.
You can lift these quotes for your hastily written card, but first you need to guess who wrote them.
"Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up."
"love is the voice under all silences,
the hope which has no opposite in fear;
the strength so strong mere force is feebleness:
the truth more first than sun, more last than star"
"Love is the greatest refreshment in life."
"Love is anterior to life,
Posterior to death,
Initial of creation, and
The exponent of breath."
5. "Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."
"Love is being stupid together."
"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs."
"Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other."
"Love is not just looking at each other, it's looking in the same direction."
"Love is a serious mental disease."
Answers after the jump.
By Deb A.
This week, dear Reader, you get five posts in one.
X, Y, Z, &. Thank-you to Mairead Small Stead and The Poetry Foundation for a fascinating look at the ampersand.
The Guardian is commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death by commissioning leading actors to perform some of the playwright's most famous soliloquies. Go on, let Adrian Lester (as Hamlet) or Ayesha Dharker (as Titania) mesmerize you in Shakespeare Solos.
Jacoba Urist at The Atlantic takes a look into how the AP art history course was revised to tackle cultural and racial bias.
Warning: Reading Sarah Lyall's article on Heywood Hill might make you yearn for the custom library of your dreams. (Or you could just join the bookstore's A Year in Books subscription.)
And finally, Agave Magazine contributor and former Poet Laureate of Texas Larry D. Thomas has released an expanded print edition of his chapbook, The Circus.
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