Category Archives: Art Bitch

DISTURBED BLONDES

The world is transfixed with the virginal and the vacuous blonde but there is also a space for the deeply disturbed blonde. She is not psychopathic as her male counterparts, she rarely strikes out but sometimes she does,  slicing away wrongs. She is complex, beguiling and not to be categorized–she oscillates, she slinks, she morphs, try to hold onto her and she slips through your fingers like sand. Sometimes she is punished by patriarchy but often she becomes ‘otherwordly,’ haunting the peripheries of frame, knocking, scraping and digging away at rational linearity. I love disturbed blondes.

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[JUNE] IN THE RAILROAD EARTH

Railroad Train by Edward Hopper

“The restlessness and the longing, like the longing that is in the whistle of a faraway train.
Except that the longing isn’t really in the whistle—it is in you.” 

                                      – Meindert Dejong, The Little Cow and the Turtle 

I have been thinking about Trains of late, I recently went to see a Miyazaki double feature, Spirited Away and The Wind Rises, where those beautiful iron beasts carry the wanderlust/lost on a spiritual trip to the afterlife or to an other life. I spent a good solid month in a small town in Wisconsin called Prairie Du Chein, and every night I was serenaded by the whistling soliloquy of the distant train and it was true, it was a displaced wail for a longing inside of me, a longing I knew couldn’t be fulfilled in a tiny town (no matter how much I romanticized it). The trains whistle still haunts me inside, I can feel it like a force of breath between my ribcage.The wailing between the rails guarding my unconscious. I long, so I play Vashti Bunyan’s Train Song.

I am on a bit of train binge at the moment, I am, as it were, loco over locomotives. It especially amuses me that trains petrified Freud, he suffered from Siderodromophobia (fear of train travel) through his childish eyes the steam jets from a train looked like souls burning in hell. In his self-analysis he said the rocking of the train reminded him of the loss of his mother, love thy mother.

The following is a list of my favorite train tracks, films, books, poetry ladeda.

LITERATURE

pawprints

Ghost Cat by Joy Cowley 

A couple years ago,
A deaf old cat named Mack
Went for an evening walk
Along the railway track.
He didn’t hear the whistle
Of the midnight train.
‘Dead!’ said the engine driver.
‘We won’t see him again.’
Me-ow!

The driver was mistaken
The ghost of Mack came back
To haunt the midnight train
On the section of the track.
The driver said he saw him suddenly appear.
His coat was grey like mist
His eyes were cold and clear.
Mee-ee-o-ow!

And sometimes lonely travellers
Bound for the distant places,
Woke up after midnight
With pawmarks on their faces.
They gave a cry of terror
As a pale grey shape slid by,
And through the darkened carriages
They heard the ghostly cry.
Mee-ee-ee-ee-o-o-o-ow!

This poem by children lit darling Joy Cowley was probably my first exposure to terror, the accompanying picture drawn by a child called Waaka Harris didn’t help to nullify the unease. Between the whistle of the train, the callous response of the engine driver, the iridescent haunting of a Cat, with such a congenial name like Mack, I was absolutely petrified but also disturbingly beguiled on my first train trip.

 

Railway Rhymes by CL GravesRailway Station

“When books are pow’rless to beguile
And papers only stir my bile,
For solace and relief I flee
To Bradshaw or the ABC
And find the best of recreations
In studying the names of stations.”

Ah to escape by train from life’s shit, now that would be a great adventure. There is something therapeutic about studying the names of streets and stations. The best part about studying train stations from a moving train is that it flashes by and it is gone, and it’s on to the next one. Ponder and release.

Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Train lit. has been embroiled in the world of what I am going to call hard-boiler crime. The Train in Patricia Highsmiths psychological thriller opens a platform for a psychopathic playboy to prey of those in transit-physically and mentally. An A to B journey for Guy Haines is derailed by a strangers proposition-a moider swap, he will kill his unfaithful wife, if Guy kills his father.

 

 

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

What appears to be a formulaic whodunnit on a train, opens up a space for derailing ideas of crime and punishment. It sparks on the terrors of train travel, being cooped up in space of compartmental collapse with strangers, who could perhaps kill you. Exotic landscapes are rendered  impressionistic by the trains speed, and whodunnit becomes a landscape to the shaky forefront of human ethics. 

 FILM

In 1986 the Lumiere brothers created the first unintentional horror film, when their train sent audiences (unfamiliar with how film worked) screaming from the auditorium, solidifying the symbolic power of the train on screen. The terrible, terrific imprinted forever on the collective unconscious.

Click on the pictures to watch a scene from these films.

North by Northwest

North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock, 1959

The reason why I attribute train travel to sexy espionage, slinky martinis and comfortable sleeping lounges, Amtrak quickly dissolved those romanticized views. The end of this film has the best sexual innuendo involving a train.

Once Upon a Ti

Once Upon a Time in the West, Sergio Leone, 1968 

Trains have and still are intrinsic to the myth building of the West in the American consciousness. Sergio Leone capitalizes on the ‘traveling’ nature of the Western to redress the mythological expansion of the iron horse across the west-frontier building on crack. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack, accentuates the plodding, dying whistle of the demi-gods on horses, as the train makes tracks across the western narrative.

Spirited Away

Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki, 2001

There is something so peaceful about a train taking spirits home, train as travel to the afterlife. The train scene lulled into a slumber by the medicinal music of Joe Hisaishi is like a meditative pause. It opens a space for a long sigh after life is done.

La Bete Humaine

La Bete Humaine, Jean Renoir, 1938

Jean Renoir’s poetic realist masterpiece takes us into the coal clogged, hellish belly of the industrial monster. In this locomotive infested world, the plights of suffering male,sacrificial woman and popular front are fought in the slinky, oilskin shadows.

The Music Man

The Music Man, Morton DaCosta, 1962

The opening scene where a honky salesman rap coalesces with the rhythm and sounds of the train, as if the men are having synchronized sex with the train, not to mention each other is just brilliant. The fact they are salesman (prostitutes in suits) jostling in synchrony with the grind, steam and steady thrust of the locomotive will have you in hysterics.

The list could go on and on so here is a montage of train scene from the films I love.

TRAIN TRACKS


Click on the picture below to  listen to my  Spotify playlist, TRAIN TRACKS

Trains

DERAILED LOVE
5:15 The Angels Have Gone – David Bowie
All Aboard – Muddy Waters
Jumping someone else’s train/another journey by train – The Cure
Downtown Train – Tom Waits

LONGING WITH A LONESOME WHISTLE
500 miles – Peter, Paul and Mary
Train Song – Vashti Bunyan
Blues in the Night – Ella Fitzgerald
Homeward Bound – Simon & Garfunkel

THE GREAT ESCAPE
The Draize Train – The Smiths 
Gone Darker – Electrelane
Long Black Train – Lee Hazlewood
High Speed Train – R.E.M

REEL ROAD
The Sixth Station (Spirited Away) – Joe Hisaishi
Farewell to Cheyenne (Once Upon a Time in the West) – Ennio Morricone
Conversation Piece (North by Northwest) – Bernard Herrmann
Lara’s Theme (Dr Zhivago) –  Maurice Jarre

Train

“In this fast movin’ world that we live in nobody rides ’em much these days
Maybe I’m a little sentimental cause I know that things have to change
But I’d still like to go for a train ride cause I’ve got a thing about trains .”

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Kitchen Sink

I have been obsessing over Dada artist Hannah Hoch at the moment so I am experimenting with my own collage dadaism, looking at fatalistic females in kitchen sinks. Will see where this goes. Quite possibly this will be another, ‘I started something I couldn’t finish.
Ophelia Thinks Harder

 

MOTHER

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the shower, Mother is watching.

The House

The House by the Railroad by Edward Hopper, 1925

OBSESSIONS: Michaël Borremans

I am obsessing over the these solemn studies of the phantasmic by Belgian painter Michaël Borremans.

Purge

I see

Masked

 

Kitchen SinkDo your ears hang low?

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STORY TIME WITH ALICE GLASS

Storytime

so I finally did get my proper dose of gyrating against sweaty flesh, whilst being digested by the apocalyptic distortions, primal yelps, and winsome cries of Alice Glass and Ethan Kath. If you haven’t seen Crystal Castles live, do so when they infiltrate your neck of the woods.

A few days later they released their third child–Crystal Castles (III) and there is one track that has become my bedtime story– Child I Will Hurt You. The euphonious melody is accompanied by lyrics that conjure Little Orphant Annie’s warning, An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you, Ef you Don’t Watch Out!.’ It is Blakean indeed–an oscillatory odyssey between innocence and experience. LISTEN BELOW

An artist I have wandered across, who captures a similar oscillatory odyssey is folk-artist Juliana Swaney, here are some of her creatures–lost in the woods.

 Adulescents Boy and Horse

THE UNDERBELLY TO CATS

While the world has been swept up in the cat-cophony of cat cuteness, I prefer instead to collect images/videos of creepy cats–the morose and melancholy underbelly of the cute cat world. Here are some …

Val Lewton presents…
CAT PEOPLE
Dir. Jacques
Tourneur
Cat People
 Click here to see the classic stalking scene from Cat People. Remade in 1982, here is a video from that version featuring Bowie’s Cat People.

CRYSTAL CATS
Alice Glass and Ethan Kath
Imagine finding yourself trapped in a laundromat with these creepy creatures. It would be fuckin’ cool but creepy.
Crystal CatsWINTER BLUES
Anne Emond
A morose companion to melancholy.
Winter Blues
CAT EATS A BIRD
Pablo Picasso
Cats ARE killers
Killer Cat

KATZENVERSAMMLUNG
Quint Bucholz
Doors frontman Jim Morrison once said, ‘Whoever controls the media controls the mind,’ well it’s the Cats. This picture reminds me the Cats are watching.
katzenversammlung

GHOST CAT
Joy Cowley
A book called Paw prints in the Butter: A collection of Cats by Joy Cowley and friends, was always a treasured read from my childhood and surprise, surprise my favourite cat poem was Ghost Cat. A poem about the ghost of Mack, a deaf cat killed on a railroad track, that comes back. Before I learnt about Freud’s ‘Return of the Repressed,’ I was already fascinated by it. The poem evoked in me a sense of loneliness, isolation and haunting, these feelings I would later ascribe to the NZ unease.
ghost cat

THE BLACK CAT
Animation based on Edgar Allen Poe’s short tale

THE BALLERINA EFFECT

“Yesterday I spent the whole day in the studio of a strange painter called Degas. After a great many essays and experiments and trial shots in all directions, he has fallen in love with modern life, and out of all the subjects in modern life he has chosen … ballet-dancers. When you come to think of it, it is not a bad choice.”

[Edmond de Goncourt, 13 February 1874]

Before The Performance

Group of Dancers

I too am obsessed with those heavenly creatures and am titillated when I gaze upon them, looks like I am not the only one …

Fleshy Statuesque

Im[prism]ed

Photo by Cameron Smith (well this is what Google images tells me)

 Some Ballerina/Ballet shit I adore … click on the picture to see a clip.

The Red Shoes [1948], Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Before Black Swan, this 1948 film explored the dark-side of ballet and obsession.

The Red Shoes

Ballerina-supplemental material for Inland Empire [2006], David Lynch
An eery creature of memories past, spins a 12 minute piece of unease. Unfortunately I cannot find any link.
Inland Empire

An American In Paris [1951], Vincente Minnelli
The prowess of Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron shine in this ballet fantasyscape.
An American In ParisI have been watching this on repeat
An ‘unheimlich’ seashore ballet promo for “Year of the Rabbit,” featuring Sufjan Stevens.

Year of the Rabbit

At Sixteen

BODY ART BY A 16 YEAR OLD

Zipper en Abyme Plug Me In