2018, a Retrospective

2018 has been the year of many conundrums. Innocent yet unmistakably urgent, happenstances of everyday sift through time, moulding it to their liking. Things that we need to take care of right then and there, on the spot. Because of such things, at the end of the day we lay back and wonder, where did the day go?
Yet I’m looking back and amidst all that, as always, wonderful life comes through strong with beautiful memories and many accomplishments.
Observing the trends, design took on a new role, that of addressing individuality of style. It was less about a complete, put together image and more about an individual pick-and-choose, in the moment style. In this new curated role, there is room for self-expression. Clothes moved to a looser, casual chic, sometimes a dressing-up for the chores look in a wonderfully quirky way.
from Marni, 2018 collection
Art in general moved toward a new avant-garde that focused on curating as opposed to generating new content. The powerful Reblink exhibit at the AGO offered such an example.
Art at all times has to be relevant. It is hard to make pieces from history relevant to today’s audience. While I believe that art should be admired as intended, I’ve come to realize that ‘as intended’ is uncontrollable and often pushes classical pieces into obscurantism. New ways of getting it to be admired are possible.
Pieces like Artus Wolfaerts’s Saint Bartholomew and Luca Giordano’s Astronomy are only a couple that were reinterpreted in a current and bold look, maybe generating curiosity to go beyond and search for the original.
At Toronto’s 2018 Nuit Blanche 2018 Ibrahim Mahama’s Radical histories piece at the City Hall impressively stood out. The sculptural ramp was fully wrapped in jute sacks of produce. They represent traces of labour placed in an economic dialogue between the unseen hands of production and the distribution stream in the west, symbolically attached to the city halls’ walls.

The materiality and meaning of the piece though were not what I first saw when approaching it. As you walked toward it, the veil was lit up from below and looked solid. Moving silhouettes projected on it and made it feel like a dynamic piece built to stay, nothing like the fragility of the process it depicted.

Generally, though it was a year of colour. The 80’s and 90’s inspired shades of the 2018 graphics where everywhere. Here, when, having aprés theatre dinner in Stratford and within the context of the interior, they look much more traditional and historic.
This year I had revisited Aga Khan’s museum to see a movie. As I entered the auditorium, the stair and light in the foyer gripped my attention. It is a folded piece of paper, white crisp, beautifully twisted as it hangs suspended down from the second floor. The whole building is an ethereal play of solids and light, materiality and immateriality.
The movie, the Yacoubian Building, is a masterpiece of Egyptian culture. Based on the novel of Alaa-Al-Aswany, it depicts a specific fragment of life in Cairo in the 1990s, that of a group of people living in the titular building. Their life stories intertwine and evolve forming a powerful saga, one of those stories that transcend the relevance of time and place and focus on everyday humanity.
Ambitiously this year, I bought many books. Many I did not get to read yet, but they made for great decor, so I’m excited to dive in next, as the year turns.
The trend to the artisanal has spurred everywhere – my favourite result being an increase in artisanal bread. This is a shot I took in Washington DC. Rustic yet modern, the wooden crates set on their sides are quite artistically positioned, framing bread as art. What a clever little storefront.
Travel paths took me to England, a home that I once held for a brief moment. Much of my thoughts this year go back to this trip. I particularly liked being at Stonehenge. Full of archways, passages and views, here you see two gates aligned, one of entry and one of exit. Ones’ gaze is pushed to the future ahead but with the reverence of not passing through present without awareness.
London has changed and has not changed at the same time. A constantly moving city, it has it’s stone walls and green parks travelled by visibly more and more people, little seams between those who inhabit it and those who visit it. The phone booths are there. The city has not removed them probably for the obvious reason; they are a cultural staple that is almost sacrosanct to take down. They add charm to the street and like children on a treasure hunt, they add joy to tourists finding them around a corner or another.
In Bristol and as coincidence had it, months before the Toronto exhibit, I ran into clever Banksy – so appealing and powerful, more so by the unexpected encounter. The street I was walking was narrow, covered in macadam and lined with twisted houses pushed slightly out of order like teeth in need of braces. An archway on the left offered a glimpse of an equally twisted alley that as it turned away in the distance it revealed beginnings of graffiti.
It was a charming little back street with windows of apartments around opening into it; a hidden interior courtyard. Beautiful graffiti was everywhere but this one was clearly standing out. Happenstances like this while travelling give immense satisfaction to the traveller.
And here is our own Toronto graffiti, bright, colourful and alive on Brunswick.
The expectation of great food has been a hallmark of this year. Dining out has reached new peaks and we all now enter a restaurant not just expecting good food but an excellent atmosphere, exquisite presentation, good wine and yes, gourmet tastes. I had some of the best octopus at Polpo, London.
Notting Hill is indeed charming. I’ve been to London before but somehow did not go to this part of town full of colour, good gelato, bookstores of course, and people living charming small-city life in the big city. The market was over when I’ve arrived but you can still feel it in the air.
From the top of the tower in Glastonbury, wrapped in history and mystique, at the dawn of the old day, and dusk of another…
Happy 2019!

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