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Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.
Congratulations, you’ve made it through 96% of this trainwreck year (can we even call it a year? We feel like we’ve lived through at least 5). Dan Albergotti’s “Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale” is a poem we read way back in the third year of 2020, and what was 2020 but a giant Moby Dick who refused to let us be?
Whatever this year was for you, we hope you’ve created something you’re proud of or discovered a new artist whose music you now play on repeat, or grown attached to a new show, or finished reading that book you had been putting off for years, and that the next one brings you more of these fabulous things. Thank you, also, for sticking with The Yelli Pages!
While we’re not going to tell you the next year is gOinG tO bE beAutiFul (carpe diem, apparently) or any of that nonsense, but what we can do is quote Joe Brainard writing about the year 1970, and hope to enter this new one with a similar amount of smugness:
is a good year
if for no other reason
than just because,
I’m tired of complaining.
~ Joe Brainard, Joe: A Memoir of Joe Brainard
Reading Time: 3.5 Minutes
I have never actually been a part of the TikTok community, as a content consumer, or a creator. But even now, that it has been several months since the TikTok phenomenon has stopped being a problem for us, I often reminisce of the times when it was ‘cool’ to diss TikTok and its users. Even if giving away data to the Chinese government, and reducing attention spans are two reasons kept aside, there was definitely a more than average amount of disdain presented in that direction. ‘Cringey,’ is a word that most accurately captures the sentiment most people I have heard talking about it seem to use. And while at the time I agreed, I have now taken the time to ask, ‘who decides what is cringey?’
This belittling of the medium could find its roots in a far more complex issue. From ‘chick flicks’ and romantic novels, to Taylor swift’s songs and Barbie dolls, there has always been a steady source of criticism for the products of pop culture which ‘lack sophistication.’ But if you really think about this group, the only thing they all have in common, is the fact that it is created by and for those lacking cultural capital (young girls, and in Indian TikTok, a lot of ‘lower classes.’) Those who seem ‘basic.’ But is basic really that bad?
Certainly not when it’s coming from those in possession of cultural capital, because then Picasso’s paintings and hot wheels toys for young boys would be considered as shallow as One Direction was for a teenage girl. This is definitely not the first time we as a society have noticed this issue either. Marcel Duchamp used his Dada piece, The Fountain, to mock concepts such as ‘high art,’ which were only the selections of those who seemed to have the privilege of a large amount of cultural capital (ie, rich white men)
In an attempt to decode this phenomenon, David Inglis writes in his book “Culture and Everyday Life,” “Just because a particular social group, even a powerful one, defines something in a certain way, does not mean that we should uncritically accept that definition.”
He also goes on to explain how what is decidedly ‘high art’ is a result of the context in which it is bred, “…jazz started out in the early twentieth century as a type of music made by poor black musicians; by the middle of the century, certain aspects of jazz had been defined—mainly by white middle-class aficionados—as ‘art’, with its own ‘canon’ of ‘great works’.” Which, after all, makes me question if old men wearing suits, holding briefcases were to use TikTok, would it still be considered ‘shallow’ and ‘meaningless?’
None of this is to say, that we are not allowed to have our own choices, and dislikes. But Inglis further describes how a lot of our choices, comforts, and appreciations are a result of our childhood, claiming “The less cultural capital you have, as a result of upbringing, the more you will think poetry is a waste of time and that opera is just unpleasant noise.” My point here is not to make you like or dislike TikTok. That’s up to you. But perhaps, reconsidering why it is that we all collectively decided it makes us flinch could help us recognize our own understanding of cultural capital in a new light.
This article explains what I could not elaborate on teenage girls’ lack of cultural capital. And now, having used a lot of fancy citations, I believe a suitable conclusion to this article could be the confession that a lot of the concepts in this article were introduced to me in a Youtube video titled ‘turning myself into an E-girl+ my thoughts on TikTok’(5:14-8:23 if you aren’t interested in turning yourself into an E girl).
1. If cheesy cards aren’t your thing, have a look at this one made out of a paper bag. The general sentiment feels familiar, doesn’t it? And while you’re at it, have a look at Terry Gilliam’s silly hand-animated Christmas cards. Gilliam, one of the six members of Monty Python, is a master of such wacky animations, which are some of the best examples of found art you’ll come across. Watch him talk about how he does it here.
2. Macquarie Dictionary recently announced that Karen, along with Covidiot, is one of their top words of 2020. You know Karen, but what about “names that have the potential to become Karen”? We’ve been feasting on The Pudding’s amazing data-driven visual essays, so here’s something to get you started.
3. If you know Appupen, you know satire. In yet another satirical poster series relevant to India here is some ‘pure propaganda’ to make light of some very serious issues, like the affordability of justice, the war against spitting in public places, and even an opportunity to become a master milkman!
In a fiercely cynical song about the existential angst that surrounds making entertaining art, Bo Burnham sings about the commercialization of creativity. He also raises a familiar doubt about whether the word ‘art’ sometimes thinly veils self-indulgence, and outlines the futility of some “lights”.
Imagine you get enrolled into an art program at the age of 10 and you reach there only to realise it is just for adults and now you’re stuck there, somehow, making art.That’s pretty much how my awkward relationship with art started to take form and I began painting all sorts of things that I could imagine as a child. Oil paints became my favourite medium to play with and palette knives, my baton. Through the years I have explored and experimented with many different art forms, mediums, forms and colours but my love for drawing still-life has always been consistent. Emotions and unexplainable feelings attached to the mundaneness of day-to-day objects is something I like to explore through still life. Odd lighting, play on perspectives and unrealistic proportions is something I really enjoy to put into my work.
In 2018, I got introduced to Urban Sketching and started my Instagram page @krileidoscope to post my sketches and engage with others doing the same. During this time I met some amazing people, travelled along with them and sketched places, people and their stories. A newfound love for storytelling and live sketching emerged during this time. Ever since then every time I go out, I try to carry a pocket sketchbook with me to draw and retain some interesting memories. It surely is coming in very handy now during the pandemic, to look at those drawings and reminisce about the good old times.
Speaking of the pandemic, this year has been very experimental and transformational for me as I used art as a medium to express my feelings without any filters. I made sappy zines about how I like my hands and how I still don’t have a signature art style and what not. I started drawing with my non-dominant hand and that is something I’m really proud of. It has given me a new opportunity to unlearn and relearn a lot of things and look at my art in a very different way.If there’s one thing that this year has taught me, it is to not be afraid of taking up new things and to keep trying them out consistently without giving much thought. I try to draw with both my hands simultaneously and I encourage you to do the same.
As Neil Gaiman says, “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.”
Never stop making art 🙂
Tales From the road begrudgingly traveled :
a comic in ten parts.