Recently I performed at Raconteurs, a live storytelling event that happens monthly here in Toronto. I’ve performed at Raconteurs before, and as many of you know, lots of other Spoken Word events around the world like The Moth, Spark London, GRTTWaK, and Pressgang. I feel like these events bridge a nice gap between writing and performance. I don’t like to act much, I prefer to be vulnerable on the page, rather than on the stage, but Spoken Word and Live Storytelling are a nice way to meld the two.
I told a story about trying to become the Canadian Amélie with a little help from the Bunz Trading Zone. It’s a crazy story of trying to connect with other people — complete strangers, really — and all the foibles and follies therein. You can watch it below! Enjoy!
In this new year, I have lots of things on my plate! So many upcoming publications, performances, and more! I can’t wait to share the news with you. Even though 2016 was a dumpster fire for everyone, I made some huge advances in my career and I’m so pleased with the direction in which everything is going. Small positive steps everyday lead to big things!
Also, I have a new adventure on the horizon! On Valentine’s Day, I head to Helsingborg, Sweden for the first time! I’ve never been (even though I lived in Europe for years and years), so when a housesitting opportunity arose, so I had to take it. After Sweden, I’ll be swinging through London, Brussels, and Amsterdam to visit my friends (and celebrate my birfday! What a crazy 3 weeks this is going to be….), so if you’re in Helsingborg and want to show this wee Canadian lass around, hit me up!
As always, don’t forget to check out Christine Estima dot CALM (har har) to read all of my published articles, watch my performances, and check out my media coverage.
By the time you read this, I will already be out gallivanting through New York City, Brooklyn and Queens, hunting Space Invaders, Banksys, Hanksys, Swoons, and many more of my favourite street artists. I am here for a month, housesitting in the Upper West Side. I end this year the way I began it: on my own terms, and travelling. I have never been more free.
And I win.
Enjoy some of my greatest goofy 2014 hits, in GIF form!
Rolling my eyes at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, leaving Germany for the last time.
Dancing on the streets of Bonn.
Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, built by… uh… Stalin.
The best Klezmer band in Brussels right outside my window!
(hit the volume button on the bottom right corner of the vid)
The Berlin eyes have it.
The ghosts in Shoreditch’s windows
Art imitates life imitates art.
Guns in Copenhagen are beating like hearts.
Brick Lane street art goes largely ignored. (It says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”)
Where’s the Space Invader?
I like to call this one, “Ew, I smell that, was that you?”
I like to call this one, “Oh is that really what you’re wearing? How… brave…”
I like to call this one, “Is that a bee or a fly?”
I like to call this one, “I just had a small stroke.”
How I talk to Cats (part 1), filmed whilst housesitting in London.
How I talk to Cats (part 2), filmed whilst housesitting in Copenhagen
How I talk to Cats (part 3), filmed whilst housesitting in Enkhuizen (the Netherlands)
Now let us go out of 2014 with a bang, just like we did in Paris…
Goodbye 2014. I hope I never see you again.
Thanks to the good-ol’ street art blogs, I found out while I was in Amsterdam that Persian street artists Icy and Sot were having an opening of their work near Het Spui whilst I was there. So of course I made sure to check out the show, and during my unDutchable excursions, found a whole bunch of their stencils and works across the city.
A window-dressage at Het Spui around the corner from their opening.
This gorgeous piece was right next door to the gallery.
And now, to the vernissage! The works for sale were mostly the same ones on the street.
It was really great to find their work on the back streets and narrow alleys of the city before the show. When work is on the city walls, it’s ephemeral and democratic and free for all to enjoy. At the shows, the exact same works are removed from their site-specific power and transferred to canvas, hung on taupe walls. I fully support artists putting on shows (artists need to make money just like the rest of us), I guess I just prefer the wild nature of liveable street art. In French the term “sauvage” is apropos here, and that’s the quality that really speaks to me. I guess I’m just not sure what happens to street art when it’s not on the street. What is it then?
That being said, if I had the funds, I probably would have bought the entire gallery.
Also, there was food, and I hadn’t eaten all day.
Oh don’t give me that look.
As many of you know, I’ve been photographing Laser 3.14‘s street art for well over a year now. I’ve blogged his work so much, that him and I have become friendly. Friendly enough that he even gave me the nickname “Brows” because of my infamous eyebrows (they really are the only reason people like me, let’s be honest). Every time I’m in Amsterdam, he let’s me know the locations of some of his latest works so I can go on a graff-hunt. Anyway, since I had recently been in-and-around the ‘dam for 3 weeks, he sent me on a hunt, and the above piece in question was found on the Vijzelgracht near the Weteringsplein.
I am forever humbled and obliged.
Here are some of his newest works to be found on the streets of my beloved Amsterdam.
The future is already haunting us
Children of the electric funk
Promises of heaven
Giving us hell
I peel off my skin
So I can reach the inner me
The drapes are drawn
Our bodies entangled
(This one is my favourite, obvi)
My favourite thing about this photograph is the shadow of the guy next to me who took a swig from his liquor bottle right as I snapped this photograph, and the shadow of him falls upon Laser’s work, giving it a level of potency, methinks.
Welcome to (my life). This was number 1.
This was number 2.
Versace never reassured me.
This was particularly potent because the street it was on had some pretty upmarket high street shops like Gucci and Ermenegildo Zegna.
The certainty of uncertainty
(this to me is like the flip side of the ol’ Death and Taxes saying)
Yours too? What are the odds!
She controls the knob
Or as I like to think of this one, “She stoops to conquer.” Har har.
Laser told me this one is actually around 3 or 4 years old, so we’re both shocked it’s still kicking around!
Check out my Laser 3.14 category so you can see all of his pieces that I’ve photographed in Amsterdam. And the next time you’re in the ‘dam, make sure you check out his work!
Sorry for not blogging for almost 3 weeks! It’s been crazy around here. I went from Berlin, to Regensburg, to Amsterdam, and now I’m in Paris, where I will be situated for the next little while … ah, the life of resourceful nomad. Expect more photojaculations about all of these adventures!
Anyway, you, my little munchkins, might remember the last few times I have blogged about Laser 3.14, the graff-poet of Amsterdam. Well, I let him know that I would be in Amsterdam for a week, and he sent me all the locations of his most recent bombings. The work, as always, is thrilling and moving. Dude speaks exactly what is on my mind and in my heart, and he has recently had a few gallery exhibitions and openings that have been met with lots of press and accolades. Dude is going places.
This one I found on my own. Someone had wrapped up the tarp & knotted it through itself (see the hole right before the 3?). I had to unravel it just to photograph it. Almost get yelled at the home owner. Totally worth it.
Found this one also by mistake. It’s part of an older batch, hence its poor state. It says “blind idealism destroys reason.”
Found this by accident. It’s one of my favourites.
Another from his older series. “Don’t just murmur your insanity.”
Again, an older one that I just stumbled upon. It says “Travis the streets are swept.” You’ll see in some of these pieces I’m about to blog that he likes to use the names of his friends in his tags….
“Oh you’ll know when it’s too late.”
When I found this one in the pouring rain, that red bike was blocking the piece. I had to pick that fucking tank up and move it out of the way. It was obvious that bike hadn’t been moved in some time because of the cobwebs on it. I’ve seen some pics lately of others photographing this piece and the bike is where I left it.
YOU’RE ALL WELCOME!!!!
“This panorama is for you.”
What a panorama…. cough.
“Mind control is everything, everything is mind control…” upside down.
“Things don’t work that way Timmy.”
Remember what I said about the names?
“Nobody believes the media… except when it’s in their own interest.”
“Reap the tame heart, and all.”
This was on the other side of the previous one! Two tags on one corner= my idea of christmas.
As I’ve noted in past blogs, Laser 3.14 almost exclusively only tags construction boards and tarps. My guess is that he does it so that no one’s property is damaged by his tags. Those tarps and construction boards are only up temporarily. Also, they seem to provide an awfully potent frame for his poetry. The boards act like excellent frames, and the tarps give his words a kind of ethereal beauty. Lately I find myself extremely disappointed when I pass a construction site and cannot find his work.
And this one was on the other side of the previous. It’s like a poetry corner!
“Wrong underdog, try the one next door.”
Again with the friends’ names 🙂
This has to be some inside joke, I don’t get it. Who’s egg man?
This one is my absolute favourite and really speaks to me. “Too much love for after the fact.”
Yes, yes, GOOD GAWD YES.
BACK OFF, GET YOUR OWN IDEALS!
So nice, he tagged it twice.
“The Goggle age questions your ideals.”
As you’ve seen from this huge haul of his work, Laser 3.14 is interested in online privacy, the theatre of the media, capitalist ideals, the state of Europe, personal agency, and of course, as always, matters of the heart. This is what good street art is, people. TAKE NOTES.
Check out my Laser 3.14 category for more of his work that I’ve photographed.
I’ve been on the road for three weeks now, and I’m so glad I decided to throw off the shackles of suspended animation and stationary living that were cutting into my skin (In short, paying rent is for suckers). I’ve been a backpacker for nine years now, and even though I have been to so many places, and learned a lot, I always seem to discover new places and learn new things. So far all the cities on this journey are places I have been to/lived in before (Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and soon Berlin), but it’s hard to be bored in these cities. I’ve forsaken flying, and have been taking the delightful European trains like a civilized person. I’ve been Couchsurfing and house-sitting, which has allowed me to make new friends, snuggle with some snuggle-pets, and take the time to really explore without feeling rushed. My days consist of drinking sweet lattes, writing in my journal while sneaking glances at the pretty bearded hipster dudebro behind the counter, walking around a European metropolis in the sunshine, taking photographs of provocative street art and urban art, indulging in Pain au Chocolat’s without a trace of guilt, going to flea markets, spending hours at enthralling museums, rocking out to Nils Frahm, and partaking in SO MUCH EUROVISION (I had no idea when I came to Copenhagen that I’d be here at the same time as the Eurovision Song Contest, but boy has it been fun! Go Conchita go).
A friend of mine recently sent me this message:
I am forced to agree.
Here are some highlights and urban art from my travels this past month.
In Brussels, of course my first stop was the Jeu de Balle flea market to spend hours upon hours rummaging through boxes to find some love letters. Remember this? Anyway, I found 10 love letters written between a husband and wife from 1956-8 in Brussels. He was a military doctor and so he was stationed away from home quite often. Look at that lipstick kiss in the letter! They totally got it bad for each other. I also found a letter written during WWII (it’s undated but I’m guessing from the letters’ contents that it’s from about 1944) written between cousins about how “les sales boches” (aka The Nazis) have invaded Belgium and the family misses their homeland. They are in exile in an area of France that was not occupied by the Nazis and 12 family members are living in a small flat. The cousin writes to the other cousin, begging him to join her, saying, “we will make space on the mattress for you.”
I love you, Jeu de Balle.
Jef Aerosol has an ongoing exhibit just around the corner from Jeu de Balle.
Of course no trip to Amsterdam is complete without going hunting for a few Laser 314‘s 🙂
I also spent a great deal of time at Amsterdam’s Resistance Museum, and then following a map to all of the important locations in the city during the Nazi occupation, including where Jews had to buy their Star of David armbands, the theatre converted for mass deportations, the Carlton hotel that a war plane smashed into, the bombs that dropped on a home on the Herengracht, the air-raid shelters, and more. Highly recommended if you’re into WWII history like me
This is Laser’s nod to 1984.
When you take the train from Hamburg to Copenhagen, the train (which is only 4 small carriages) goes ONTO THE FERRY. No one ever believes me when I tell them this.
Ah, Copenhagen. I was last here in 2006 (read my post from that time here, and this post has all my photographs from back then). If I’m being honest, my memory of my time here in 2006 is rather hazy, so I’m glad I’m spending a good chunk of time here.
This is wonderful. An underwater sculpture in one of the canals.
The boats have to be careful, otherwise their propellers will be destroyed.
Hans Christian Andersen’s grave!
I swear, Copenhagen is filled with so much antiquity, and so few people, that sometimes, you can walk down a street, preserved in detail for 200 years, and wonder if you’ve stepped through time, without the presence of cars and technology to distract you.
I’m still in Copenhagen, so this section is a work in progress. More photographs to come! I have SO MUCH STREET ART TO SHARE!
Ghost signs (if you don’t know the term) are my current fascination. I can best explain them as such: 100 years ago, instead of billboards, advertisers would literally paint their signs and adverts to the walls of buildings. In many places, those old painted signs, although faded, are still visible. Places like London and Amsterdam are fantastic for ghost-sign-hunting, because there are so many pre-war buildings sporting ’em. I like the calligraphy and fonts, I like the designs, I like the old-timey, antiquated feel of them. It’s the quickest form of time-travel, really. Here is a selection of ghost signs that I’ve been fortunate enough to find. I will endeavour to find more!
This one is my favourite, so let’s start with it! I found it halfway between Herne Hill and Brixton in London.
I find it highly ironic that this is an antique sign advertising antiques! THAT’S SO META. Can you IMAGINE what antiques you could have found 100 years ago? Stuff from the 18th and 17th century, surely.
You’ll notice that the bottom of the sign is cut off mid-sentence. According to the internet, it used to say “bought, sold, or TAKEN IN EXCHANGE.”
This old Bovril ghost sign is quite popular in Brixton, and I’ve been passing by it for years, without bothering to photograph it. Have you ever tasted Bovril? It tastes like battery acid. EAT UP!
This Dean & Co Chemist’s sign was hard to photograph, as it’s situated high up and is almost blocked by the adjacent building. There’s no chemist there now, just a hair salon. This was opposite Clapham Common.
Here’s another favourite of mine that is really faded, but it’s SO OLD-TIMEY COOL! It says, “For your throat’s sake, SMOKE the world’s premier cork**** cigarette.” I can’t make out if it says corklined, or corktrimmed, or corktarred, or something along those lines, it’s so faded.
This is an excellent reminder of advertising standards 100 years ago, where Doctors would tell you that smoking was actually good for you. And advertisers would lie and say it made you healthy, and shit. AMAZING FIND.
I found this near Stockwell tube stop.
Now to Amsterdam, with a cool Albert Heijn paint job. As I mentioned before, Albert Heijn is a supermarket chain in The Netherlands, and apparently, has been around for a long time!
There was no Albert Heijn shop in this building, just a Japanese resto and a sewing machine shop. This was in the De Pijp area.
Across the street from it was this amazing faded sign that says “Salon Voor Scheeren” which indicates a barbershop once was housed there. Not anymore, it’s just homes. LOOK AT THE FINGER-HAND! So cool.
There’s no way to know what this ghost sign above a billiards place used to say. It looks like two signs were painted over each other, and now over time, they’re fading into each other. But I like the calligraphy.
I have already found more ghost signs around that I have yet to photograph, so expect more soon!
From Foam Gallery’s William Klein exhibit.
The luxurious flat that was my home for two weeks in Amsterdam.
It looks like it’s the Bible… but . . .
. . . when you open it up, it has pictures of the Holocaust on the pages. This is from the Gallery Huis Marseille.
An image thematically used in Girl With A Pearl Earring
Speak of the devil!
She’s everywhere in the Delft.
I helped these little guys cross the road and back into the canal. I felt pretty good about that. They were so quacky.
The size of a tree. Delft-oddity.
Embedded in the cobblestones…
… is the earth.
When it comes to bicycles, the Dutch mean business.
Here are some of the gems that I found whilst cycling around Amsterdam for two weeks. Some of these artists I know, some I don’t, but it’s all really great work!
Once again, I have to reiterate that there is so much of your city to discover if you just keep your eyes open. Cultural activities don’t require tickets. All you need is a keen sense of direction, a bike or a walking shoes, a camera, and a curious nature. Art is free! It’s on your walls! Go discover it!
Someone blighted her face. FOR SHAME.
Is that an Ewok? YUB-NUB!
A day without laughter is a day wasted…. I dunno, sometimes a cry feels pretty good.
I don’t know “Karma” but I like that idea.
Boxhead is quite literal.
Why, it’s KID ACNE! I’ve blogged his work before in London! He’s very YAY!
See her? DO YA?
Don’t mess with her, she’s bad to the bone.
Great job Kid Acne!
Tyler the Creator is terrifying.
Haha, there’s a Dutch joke in here. “Albert Heijn” (pronounced HINE) is the name of a supermarket in The Netherlands. So, here they have Albert Heijnstein! WOCKA WOCKA WOCKA. They even changed E=mc(squared) to E=ON(squared)… the “ON” is the logo for the Albert Heijn “on the go” basic shops.
This image is really pretty.
Even prettier when you take into the account the gorgeous building it’s on.
Sexist graffiti. Not a fan. I don’t enjoy this. NEXT.
YES. That’s better.
Because it’s torn, there’s no way to know if it said “should” or “could.” I think both are apropos.
I’m on the fence about this one.
I saw a lot of Fabrice’s work in Amsterdam, and I chose not to photograph it all because it seemed to be commissioned. I’m more of a fan of spontaneous art, rather than state-sanctioned art, but that doesn’t mean it’s not pretty and well-done.
Hey look it’s Albert Heijnstein! He’s even wearing a jersey and carrying a bag with the supermarket’s logo on it.
This kid is the supermarket superhero, apparently.
First, my beloved C215. I found all of these just by cycling around Amsterdam and keeping my eyes open. Always remember to keep your heads up, munchkins! There is so much wonderful art in your city and you’re missing it!
Now some Space Invader! So technically, I photographed this piece last year, but it was a crappy shot with my iPad, so I found it again and photographed it properly. I was shocked how I found it again, this is literally buried within a series of winding and interlocking streets in a community-housing project. I wasn’t looking to find it again, I just stumbled upon it, and was like NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY!
This was on Overtoom. I was lucky to spot this, because I was bombing north on my bike, going really fast and not paying attention to walls, I just happened to look up. ALWAYS LOOK UP!
This Invader looks like he’s wearing a mask!
I think this was on Bloemenstraat near the Prisengracht.
Finally some Curtis Kulig. YES CURTIS, I SWEAR I LOVE YOUUUUUUUU.
Curtis AND an A.S.V.P.! Lucky day!
The Dutch love erecting sayings and quotes on their buildings … bless ’em.
Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and I remember more than I have seen.
TELL ME ABOUT IT.
Men under the guidance of reason desire nothing for themselves which they do not also desire for the rest of mankind.
This was on the wall at Café Brecht, which makes sense, as this is a Brechtian quote. It translates (roughly) in English to, “Because things are the way they are, they will not stay the way they are.” I found this wall last year, when I titled this post.
Haha! So true.
Ok so this wasn’t in Amsterdam, it was in the Delft. I found it when I took a daytrip there to visit the birthplace of Johannes Vermeer.
This was on an abandoned, boarded-up building.
It’s Emily Dickinson.
“To make a prairie,
it takes a clover
and one bee.
and a bee,
The revery alone
if the bees are few.”
Amsterdam is a magical city. Modern and inviting, yet also capable of transporting you into time lost to the ages.
First of all: TYPEWRITER PORNOGRAPHY!
They wouldn’t let me touch it. I WAS DYING TO TOUCH IT.
It even had that old-book smell. They really should bottle that smell and market it to people who are secretly old ladies . . . like me.
I want to put this one on a chain and hang it around my neck.
FONT-SPLOSION! Look at that gorgeous typeface.
This Smith-Premiere was so badly damaged, I think some of the keys had capsized. Also, someone dust that thing, for the love of Gawd!
Speaking of old-book smell…
I found these at the Boekenmarkt that is held once a week near Het Spui in Amsterdam.
Haha, oh the funny things people used to write about.
Best-seller, no doubt.
*Slowly backs away*
GASP! Weird postal crayons made in Czechoslovakia that I have no idea what to use them for! MUST HAVE!
I’m being serious.
I’m sorry, did I just walk into a screensaver?
Back to typewriters! I found this hanging on the wall at Bar Bukowski, which I also visited last year.
I think Bukowski’s books in general are misogynistic, male-bravado, wank-fests, but his quotes taken out of context are damned good.
This reminds me of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”
I actually photographed this little red building back in 2006 but I didn’t record its location back then, so I had no idea how to find it again. I just used my directionally-adept nose and some intuition, wandered around for 2 weeks until I finally found it again. If you don’t know why this building is important, take ANY WALKING TOUR in Amsterdam and they’ll tell you. It’s the smallest building in the entire city.
It has the same depth as other buildings, but it’s only a metre and a half wide. Just long enough for me to lie down in. Someone was working at their laptop there…so yes, people live there.
This wasn’t Amsterdam, it was the Delft… but holy gorgeous amazeballs postcard idyllic nostalgia-ultra-acolyte!
That’s it, I’m moving to Holland. Us old-lady-grannies-in-young-lady-bodies gotta stick together.
Some people go to Amsterdam for the pot. Some go for the ladies in the red-lights. Some go for the bicycles.
I went for Laser314 (whom I have blogged about before). If you don’t know, Laser 3.14 is a street poet. He sprays his unique and original lines of poetry (yes, they’re his words) all over the city in English. Most locals tend to appreciate his work, as it is not seen as typical narcissistic vandalism. The poetry is moving, heart-breaking, ephemeral, and packs an emotional punch. When I found this piece last summer, I needed to sit down on a nearby bench. I just tried to breathe.
It was a glorious two weeks.
I was lucky enough, through the magic of the webernet (heehee), to get into contact with the elusive Laser, and he instructed me to go graff-hunting in certain areas of Amsterdam, where I found many of these pieces.
But I also found many of these pieces on my own, just from using some intuition, a bike, and good pair of walking shoes 🙂
After a while of hanging out in Amsterdam and finding Laser’s work, I started to easily identify possible places he might have bombed. He seems to favour either the tarps that go over construction sites, or the plywood that protects constructions sites. There are very few instances of his poetry-art appearing on anything else (although I have seen photographs of his work appearing on skips and industrial garbage bins). If I were to hazard a guess, I would say he does this because, this way, he’s not permanently damaging anyone’s property. Those construction tarps and boards will come down, eventually. No harm, no foul, no clean-up, no damage. Everyone wins.
Travel beyond the shroud.
I adore this one.
We are always on the verge of something.
Vermin gnawing holes in democracy.
This one was the hardest to photograph because half of the piece was covered by cinder blocks and construction. It says, “Days of confusion precedes the age of reason.”
And the horses waited to be tamed…
Life can be such a lonely place.
Ha ha ha!
Vote Nixon, he’s dead.
Progress. Regress. Regrets.
Hello, I’m your assassin!
I wish I was someone…
I hope to find more on my next journey to the ‘dam. Well, if I’m hoping for things, I hope to meet someone who’ll spraypaint poetry about me one day …. but one step at a time, Chris.
Ah, so much Amsterdam-Awesomesauce.
More street art pics to come from my time in the most magical city on the planet… just you wait.