Category Archives: Humour

In the Land of Punctuation – Tara Books (2)

Italy-icon

For aspiring writers the land of punctuation is often a metaphorical minefield. Recently Indian publishing house Tara Books has released an amazing visual translation of Christian Morgenstern‘s poem In the Land of Punctuation, turning it into a visually compelling tale that restitutes more than the literal meaning. Punctuation_1Beautifully designed by Rathna Ramanathan, the images through which the verses develop are all ‘assembled’ typographically, using only punctuation marks as both independent characters and visual signs forming the elements of the landscape. landofpunctuation_02Written in 1905 by German poet Christian Morgenstern, apparently In the Land of Punctuation is a cute non-sensical nursery rhyme that plays with punctuation marks. They become the living characters engaging in a violent fight against each other and for supremacy. trrops

Defined by its author as a linguistic caprice, the poem is actually a dark satire on the absurdity of intolerance and the pointless but unavoidable violence that comes out of it. Since its beginnings committed with a strong socio-political vision, Tara Books could not miss the occasion for rediscovering this literary gem, translating it into a book to be read both textually and visually. dashesThe making of In the Land of Punctuation has involved a double translation. First Sirish Rao came up with a brand new translation from German to English. Then, designer and illustrator Rathna Ramanathan provided the translation from written language to visual typography. Each page is masterfully animated by the aggressively dynamic actions of the characters. corpsesThe spiral of violence, which is the central thread running through the poem, starts when stops and commas form a belligerent alliance against the semi-colons, seen as parasite owning their existence to them. All the semi-colons are left dead on a bloody battlefield. But violence only results in more violence and the aggressor easily become the aggressed. So, when the blade-like dashes join this civil war in the land of punctuation they direct their hatred against the commas, beheading them. The once commas are reduced to semi-colons corpses adding up to the death field. killerdashesThe design of the book perfectly restitutes the war atmosphere. With its red and black rendition and the dynamism of lines and marks, it is clearly reminiscent of the visual language used by Russian avant-garde in the 1920’s that had in Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge by El Lissitzky its most famous propaganda work of art. But the original reinterpretation of art does not stop here. There is also a homage to Alexander Calder‘s mobiles in the image presenting the main characters of the story, with the lightly suspended semi-colons still unaware of the lurking tragedy embodied by stops and commas. calder

Tara Books has produced yet another gem to its catalogue, confirming the passion and commitment that has made it a favourite of mine (see my previous post here).

To check more gems from Tara Books please visit their website here.

Thanks to Tara Books for the images.

Italy-icon

Rafael Mantesso and Jimmy Choo – An inspiring friendship

01

Italy-icon

Dogs are incredibly inspiring creatures. Brazilian illustrator and designer Rafael Mantesso knows it well. Left in an unfurnished house after a divorce, Mantesso had only his dog Jimmy Choo (a bull terrier named by his ex after the fashion designer) to keep him company and bring up his morale. With clever and witty humour, Mantesso has started to use the white walls as the background for Jimmy Choo’s quirky performances. He draws various backdrops with a black marker on white cardboard. The scene is completed by the hilarious presence of Jimmy Choo who poses in disguise with funnily tender result. Mantesso swears that Jimmy Choo enjoyed all of it. And we enjoy it all as well…

Continue reading

Jorge Miranda – A filmaker’s secret dream

Italy-icon

One could guess that a filmaker’s secret dream would be to make his actors perform the most bizarre, improbable and dangerous tasks in the most unlikely and unusual set. Miami-based Jorge Miranda found a viable solution to make this dream come true, at least in part. The result is an incredibly amusing display of surreal sketches.

y8 Continue reading

Ricardo Solís’s animal creation tales

Italy-icon

The adorable work of Mexican Ricardo Solís depicts a personal version of the myth of animal creation. Solís draws on his child’s imagination and transposes on canvas his whimsical and amusingly bizarre hypothesis on why animal species look the way they are.

01armadillo

Continue reading

In need of Anne Taintor

It is not for making excuses, but! I finally had big plans and fantastic art in mind for this blog until last week, when I got commissioned some new works with deadlines which require me to only focus on them. This, at least until Christmas. I am certainly grateful for this, and yet I feel a bit frustrated in my everyday plans. And when this happens I am glad I have Anne Taintor‘s wit and irony. Since I first came across her work, I always have a positive inspiration for overcoming sadness, anger or frustration with energy and a smile…and I need it, here and now!

001_01584-500x500

01463_multi-tasking-300x30001310_resentment1anne-taintor-medicated-motivated-paper-beverage-napkins-5153

bf646bb8f4d3e0be399f700e8dda2467 And now, let’s set the ‘Christmas is coming’ mood: ANNE+TAINTOR+NAPKIN+resizedholiday-napkins-the-mistletoe-wasnt-the-only-thing-t6a011570aae89d970b012875f74323970c-800wiSee you soon, with some great art!

Film: Liberal Arts (or the graceful art of contentment)

What drives me here after a prolonged absence? And what drove me to go to the cinema alone for the first time in life, at the age of 37? A very delicate, intelligent and touching film: Liberal Arts by and with Josh Radnor.

Curiosity around this film started building up on me when I captured the face of Richard Jenkins (who I’ve loved since he played Nate Fisher senior in the insuperable Six Feet Under) in an ad-poster at an underground station. Then, the title: for a graduate in Humanities, enamoured with art and obsessed with books, sounded like a safe bet. Mix these two reasons with a sudden craving for a rom-com and with a certain sympathy for Josh Radnor and there I was, this afternoon, sitting in the smallest cinema room ever on my own.

To sum up the plot: Jesse Fisher (Josh Radnor), an admission counselor in his mid-thirties in New York, is invited by his favourite ex professor (Richard Jenkins) to go back in his college campus in Ohio. There he meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a sophomore student. Zibby’s enthusiastic aliveness and unusual maturity intrigue and attract Jesse, who finds himself at an existential croassroad between allowing for a 16-years-of-difference relationship to start or not. If the plot sounds very basic (and at risk to be banal), I can just say that this film is extremely good, original and surprising. I won’t give away any other detail of the story. I prefer to say about the so many precious resonances it opened up for me. First of all, an invitation to question the existential dichotomy according to which we are either young or old.  You know that very popular say according to which the important is not your age but to feel young inside? Well, I am not buying it anymore. What does it mean to feel young? We attribute to youth so many positive qualities: innocence, freshness and, even more, a powerful enthusiasm. And then we grow older, we face delusions and that enthusiasm may be hopelessly eroded. True. But, and this is what really makes the film a delicate mediation on life as a natural flowing of existential stages and mutations, does this necessarily makes us bitter, less sparkling, less beautifully human? At the end of the day, if you’re too old (not enough romantic and enthusiastic anymore) for someone, you’re also too young (and still too enthusiastic and romantic) for someone else.

Josh Radnor manages to conjure up loaded questions and doubts with an apparently effortless filmic grace, like those delicious simple recipes made of a pinch of this and a pinch of that. The story develops with a great rhythm. Every character is functional for the successful consistency of the overall feeling. Nothing is gratuitous and nothing is left unsolved. Humour and depth play together in perfect balance. The cast is brilliant and brilliantly assorted.

Liberal Arts is a gentle invitation not to get stuck into the delusional regret for a lost youth nor into the traps of a bitter renounce to all forms of enthusiasm. It rather suggests to attune oneself to who he/she is, to accept the naturalness of the passing of time and its consequential changes in emotional and existential needs.

I proposed this film to some friends before going. Reactions were: to one the title sounded too intellectual and she wanted something light, to the other the idea of a romantic comedy sounded too light for his cultured palate. Too bad for them that Liberal Arts is light, fresh, amusing and also intellectually engaging.

Without giving too much away, when Jesse listens to the CD that Zibby made for him, he starts looking at New York in a different way and he finds himself able to taste things he wasn’t able to taste before. I think Josh Radnor’s film did the same to me, whispering at my mid-thirties ears something about the graceful art of contentment…

Check Liberal Arts facebook page here.

Let me introduce its Frogness…

‘Most toads can swim if they’re forced to, but unlike frogs, they rarely enter water. Since the world is two-thirds water, where would you say the limitations lie: with the frogs or the toads? Frogs are smooth and sleek and moist; toads are rough and dry and warty’ (Tom Robbins, Half asleep in Frog Pajamas)

(a street-art frog via Street Art Utopia(an illustration by David McLimans via Animalarium(sculpture made of metal scraps in Oakland, Ca. Via Vallejo Independent Bulletin(Illustration by Charley Harper, 1961. Via Unruly(From the series New World Transparent Specimens by Iori Tomita. Via Felkx(recycled frog by Andrew Mockett. Via Kickan and Conkers(My tiled street art insertion that someone stole for me…)

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish — you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one’s name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

(Emily Dickinson)

(There is a pair of us – don’t tell! Via Smashing core(3D street painting, via 3D Street Art(Illustration from Leaves by Mehdi Mo’eeni, via Animalarium(Stencil street art frog, via Migraciòn Total)

(Kiss that Frog by Peter Gabriel)

And my frogness stamped on my skin: (my one and only cherished tattoo)