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I’m what’s left of when we
swam under the moon
-Mitski, “I Don’t Smoke

In the summer following my completion of grad school, my boyfriend Jonathan and I moved into an apartment in East Vancouver. Our search for a home had been an exhausting dead end until the final days of June. We were driving around the city, windshield wipers on to clear the summer rain, a sense of hopelessness sweeping us forward, when we saw the vacancy sign.

That’s always how it goes — you wait in a constant state of impatience for something to happen, and then suddenly everything turns on its head. A couple had already signed for the apartment and were meant to move in the following day, but they’d had to break the lease — a domestic dispute, the landlord whispers as he hands us the papers to sign.

The apartment is on the top floor of a three-story walk-up. There are ten apartments in the whole building, all of which are empty, because the landlord says that they’ve been renovating the building for the last year. More… “Ghosts Live Forever”

Gena Ellett’s writing has appeared in literary magazines across North America, including Slice, The Malahat Review, EVENT, and Gulf Coast. She lives and writes in Vancouver, BC. @HeyGenaJay

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When we think of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, the first thing that comes to mind is his masterful Journey to the End of the Night. After that, we maybe remember he was a frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Semite.

Hunger by Knut Hamsun. 240 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $16.

Ernst Jünger, the German writer, remembered in his journal the typical conversation to be had with Céline: “He said how surprised he was that, as soldiers, we do not shoot, we do not hang, we do not exterminate the Jews — he is astonished that someone in possession of a bayonet does not make unlimited use of it.”

It wasn’t just his charming conversation — as recounted in Alan Riding’s And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris, Céline also wrote propaganda pamphlets, dedicated one of his books to the hangman’s noose used… More…

The day K. came in and said, “I don’t care anymore,” was a revelation. By then, the communal living space/art collective housing 17 artists and hangers-on that was my home had been battling bedbugs for three months. Only four of the 17 rooms (mine not included) were actually infested, but communal living as it is, we all had to share in the initial bedbug cleansing procedures familiar to anyone who has had or read about bedbugs — the thorough packing all personal items in plastic, the taping of holes and cracks in walls and furniture, the wrapping of each bed in a plastic sack not unlike those used to wrap corpses at homicide scenes. We tried not to let hysteria get the best of us as we emptied our rooms of every doodad, every picture, and watched the mountain of 17 people’s-worth of belongings mushroom in the gallery space. We… More…

Is he a cliché? That’s the question you keep coming back to when you look at the paintings of Edward Hopper. On the face of it, the current show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, “Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time,” doesn’t help answer the question. The show gives us paintings like “Soir Bleu” from 1914. We’re at a café in France somewhere. Patrons sit at the tables. Right there in the middle, facing us, is a clown. He is wearing a white, frilly get-up and his face is painted white, too, with red lips and a couple of red stripes down the eyes. He is smoking a cigarette. This may, in fact, be the sad clown we’ve all heard so much about. I’ve toyed with the idea that “Soir Bleu” is making fun of itself. Or maybe it is making fun of us, the viewer? But, no…. More…

One year ago, Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau museum and New York’s Museum of Modern Art staged a massive exhibition of the Bauhaus school of Weimar, Germany. Bauhaus was rooted in daily life, the fusion of high and applied arts. The exhibition was arranged much like the school itself — playfully and with much experimentation. It may have opened with Johannes Itten’s stunning “The Fire Tower” sculpture, but it also explored the education process that brought things such as “The Fire Tower” to life, the building blocks of art and the often messy learning process.

Diaghilev: A Life by Sjeng Scheijen. 560 pages. Oxford University Press. $39.95.

The walls of one room were hung with variations on a homework assignment. The art students were asked to take a photograph from a newspaper and relay the information of the piece through artistic representation. One wall was dedicated to color wheels, another to experiments with… More…

I came across the frog rabbit in the basement of the Petit Palais in Paris. A medium-sized plaster sculpture, the frog rabbit is a hairless beast with a pointy reptilian nose, rabbit ears, long talon-like toes, and a stubby rabbit tail with no fur. He is a monster, though it is unclear whether he bodes something evil or merely something strange.

 

Jean Carriès sculpted “The Frog with Rabbit Ears” in 1891, a couple of years before he met an early death at the hands of an obscure lung ailment the likes of which regularly robbed the world of starving young artists in those days. It was, after all, the fashion: a little art and then a terrible death. It is particularly unfortunate that Carriès wasn’t given a few more years. He was hard at work on his unfinished… More…