Nostalgia

Sitting in a restaurant with my mother and sister, I was recalling our town. In the town square, a bookstore, delicatessen and Cafe Magnolia. Then our street. We struggled to remember the surnames of one of our neighbours; my mom remembered their occupations, dogs and habits, but not their names. We continued with our lunch, and ten minutes later my sister recovered the name of the people lived across from us. Funny, I can remember the smell of pastries in the bakery, the taste of whipped cream at Cafe Magnolia, the feel of the pages in my new book purchased as a reward or bribe. Snippets of memory, incomplete and conveniently missing unpleasant events.

After lunch, I go the art gallery on my own. I start with te Sorel Etrog exhibit. The sculptures are brazenly modern, slick, smooth. I know very little about art, and can only describe my reaction to the exhibit. I liked the 1960’s feel and the humour of some pieces. There was a certain preoccupation with the life cycle and maybe even sex. Etrog’s experimental film “Spiral” was continuously running in one of the rooms. Wasn’t sure about it; meaningful or pretentious? It doesn’t matter, his sculptures are truly enticing. I love walking through the city and suddenly coming across one of his public pieces, usually quite large and simple and complicated at the same time. Most of all, the piece fits the environment surrounding it. One of those things that is somehow right and the place would be diminished without it.

Then I move on to “Lost in the Memory Palace”. This is a multi media installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. The two installations that intrigued the most were “Opera for a Small Room” and “The Dark Pool”. Both tell stories using a room that looks like a chic hoarder’s delight, with things from a period long before now. Records, turntables, books with crumbling pages, and junk (a lot of it) form the backdrop for a story that the viewer can construct. “Opera for a Small Room” has an amazing soundtrack. Definitely not just the opera. Country, death metal-like sounds, rain, train and the narrator who sound a bit off – troubadour meets David Lynch vibe. The viewer peers into the enclosed room. Who is the narrator? Why is the place so dilapidated and yet sort of cool? No idea, but I think that it allows the viewer to be present for the 20 minutes the piece runs, present in the memories of someone else.

Today was the last play I’m seeing at the Fringe Festival. I saw William Inge’s “Bus Riley’s Back in Town” and “Glory in the Flower”. It’s the same story, told in two different ways, one taking place in the late 1940’s, the other in the mid 1950’s in small town America. First time love is relived and remembered, but the past can’t be recaptured. There is a sense of loss in both plays. But contrary to what one may think, acceptance of loss doesn’t always lead to change.

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