Monday, August 31, 2009

Laika in Space Space

I was lucky enough to go along to an afternoon put on by the space|space crew over in Paddington called The Enthusiast; a tight nit crew of laid back peeps hanging out in their shed-like space, chatting about what they’re enthused about and chewing on candy whilst being projecting s film. As I perceive, each afternoon (held once a month) will feature a different Enthusiast, enthused about a different subject and projecting it upon the rest of the crew. It was enjoyable and refreshing and we like these guys even more after we attended their first exhibition Cosmic Peephole (featuring a glock light box, a beautiful bird roof installation and a live psychadelic liquid light projection (ala Psychochemical Algae rhythm) with a guitar impro amonst other cool stuff)! These guys are getting the non-pretentious but seriously sweet experimental art show dig!

Enthusiast #1 featured some Laika enthusiasm; the small dog sent to space as a test, and without food inevitably starving to death. The preceding speech of Hallstrom’s film screening came from the heart of Caiti Dircks who lovingly spoke of the sadness she felt for Laika and related to young Ingemar of the film to come. There were book excerpts and we listened to an Arcade Fire track Neighbourhood #2 (Laika):

Our mother should have just named you Laika!

It's for your own good

It's for the neighborhood

Proving how far the story of Laika has spread and affected people.Then she spoke of her ideas about our last moments of life and took a photo of us all to remind her and show others, perhaps when she is old, that she had all these wonderful friends who hung out and did fun things together. Though not in the inner circle, Alex and I hope to attend again and get to know these people better so that our presence in that photo may not be lost somewhere down the track.

The film:

Lasse Hallstrom’s a generous director with a lot of love for his audience. He is delicate and sensitive without resorting to sensationalism or cliché story arches to prompt an emotional response. In both his handling of characters and his projection onto his audience, the human ambiguities present in the story are treated in a European style of filmmaking, easing you and guiding you as you join a little boy’s journey.

Ingemar surveys the world with innocent wonder and an almost alien curiosity as he naively tries to find his place in an adult world. His struggle continues to end in hopelessness, as he fails daily to let his mother rest through her terminal illness, his accidental misbehaving sending her into hysterical fits of screaming and crying. He seems takes control of his own sweet controlled universe where he happily devotes himself to his girlfriend and she he, innocently and shortlived he decides to live out in the field with his dog, with the objective of giving his mother- who he idealises despite her notable absence and negligence- some time to get better.

However well his attempted mature distancing of life’s very real dramas, where worse troubles such as Laika’s plight into space and subsequent death which narrated at the forefront of Ingemar’s galaxy, his naivety only makes his tragedy even more devastating. His mother will die, he will be “left over,” and he will have to figure out how to grow up wondering why “you didn’t want me, Mama?”

When he is cast out, after several incidents such as setting the haystacks where he intended to live ablaze and with his brother and him having to be self-sustaining with a mother in bed and a father out on the horizon somewhere picking bananas, he is sent to live with his uncle in a surreal town of quirky characters; each with an idiosyncrasy and each with a small gift of wisdom to help Ingemar come to grips with childhood and his own worth. He leaves his dog behind, hoping he too won’t suffer the plight of Laika.

Issues of sex and death surround the plot and make it an overwhelmingly relatable experience about the difficulties of learning how to find a place for these in a tiny but growing heart. I want to use the word gem again, but I won’t but this little film has everything so if you haven’t seen it- find it and watch it, it’ll make you feel nice.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mushroom Doodles

A few days before the Know Your Mushrooms Possible World's event at Red Rattler, I asked myself: Can I make a zine as well as help organise all the decorations/installations for the night? Zine making for Punk Monk Propaganda- involved events has become a tradition of sorts for fellow Punk Monkey Alexander and I and somewhat of an obsession since we thought we'd try it out at ALGAE RHYTHM 0.01 earlier in the year.

Crafting this zine was especially fun as I explored the mushroom santa theory, anti- drug propaganda posters, old shaman rituals and ancient cultural practises with mushrooms, subverted penis envy and with Alex's collaboration and ever-valuable contributions doodled my way until completed was a zine.

The feedback on the night was really flattering and I even spied some young men fleeing the scene with more than their share of zines and silver shiny mushrooms, magic glinting in their mischievous eyes. A zine with catcus mushroom smudges lay atop the tinned stash, Director Ron Mann tells me about his research on comics (Comic Book Confidential) and how much he loves our zine is and at the end of the night there are no zines left in the FREE ZINES box and not a single one is left behind abandoned. Very satisfying for what was meant to be a throw together zine.

Additionally we found the cheapest photocopying place thus far in the heart of china town (Thanks Karina for this one!). Listen up fellow zine makers:
"Design and Print"
413-415 Sussex Street, Haymarket 2000
We photocopied something like 210 pages for 15 bucks. The crazy lady running the extremely busy shop said we could have 400 pages for 20 bucks... but we opted to pay 5 bucks less and not have to take care of that many pages. We were in and out in no time chuffed! Our new favourite hangout is Design and Print Chinatown, what an experience!

Ever want one of our zines just contact: (that's me). All our zines are a labour of love and therefore free to all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Before Tomorrow: Why must we die?

Before Tomorrow is a unique cinematic experience. I felt incredibly blessed I was able to watch it- and it was only by random chance that I decided to go. Once the film begun I realized that I was meant to witness this beautiful and tragic tale. The film’s main narrative surrounds a boy and his grandmother dispossessed from their Inuit tribe whose fate they alone escaped. To survive they narrate and create stories. The grandmother leads with great burden in her heart but with complete love speaking of a greater place and they wander two lone seekers towards an unreachable horizon. What would it be like to be the last two people on earth?

The harsh and untamable force of the Arctic environment, the experience of almost complete loss and grief and the physical turmoil of desperate search for life presents a very different and pathos reality over idealized utopia of grandmother’s story. There is an underlying sensation of endlessness which brings out a vicarious fear for audiences, as they imagine the horror of being ‘left behind’. However, the film is an uplifting one, with a beautiful message and a powerful image of the Inuit as joyful, loving humans who depend upon the powerful ties within their tribe and laugh heartily at the very newly discovered oddities of western culture blissfully unaware of it’s threat. The film presents this full circle- the spirits of those passed are called upon for guidance throughout with a beginning and closure of complete joy as given by the gift of family.

Presently lusciously, the cinematography generously documents with great detail and affection both the breathtaking and encapsulating landscape of the Tundra and the genuine presence and poignancy of its inhabitants. Not unlike a dream or meditation, the filmic rhythm slowly laps onwards, each moment savoured and given time to settle and each small piece of the journey moving us towards an enlightened state. The all female Arnait Video collective of North Canada have community, cultural preservation and storytelling down to a beautiful art form. Find and See Before Tomorrow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Spores Have Been Released!

Know Your Mushrooms, gem of Possible World's Canadian Film Festival premiered in Australia last Saturday night alongside a psychedelic carnivale of kaleidoscopic colour, dancing glowing bodies, circus tricks and pure devotion to the fungi. All hailed the man (Ron Mann) who brought us this combination of tripped out adventures, scientific teachings, fungi worship, pop culture pastiche and eye opening knowledge about the magic, joy and healing functions of the mushroom. The message: we can save the universe with the help of this prehistoric fungi, we just need to know it, love it, embrace it- Fungi phobia ends here.

Ron Mann accompanied the Punk Monk faeries and curious Sydney siders, travellers and mushroom gypsies in what he described as the most amazing celebration of his 2008 documentary to date. Who are all these amazing fire twirlers, hula hoopers, musicians, street artists, projection bombers, liquid light alchemists and chocolate cactus wizards? They’re our friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends who have been drawn out of the cracks of Sydney’s underground to do something interesting with their Saturday night and contribute to what makes Sydney such a wonderful place for collaboration and celebration.

The Inner West’s current coolest venue The Red Rattler (Marrickville) played the perfect host for the bubbling activities of the night; an alley way warehouse rescued by five queer women with a mission; to lower venue prices and provide a platform for artist run events and experiments. Anything can go down at a Red Rattler event so check them out:

A copy of the Know Your Mushrooms zine featuring an ominous penis mushroom cover and a short film capturing some of the psychadelia mushroom vibe are coming to Lilith’s blogspot soon.

Stay tuned for a totally different experience as I embark on my next Possible World’s festival adventure: Darryl’s Hard Liquor and Porn Festival at Bobbi’s Pole Studio.

Possible World’s Canadian Film Festival is still running until Wednesday so check it out:

(All photos by Susie Stavert: except this last one by Punk Monk Andy Finn- see more at