Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2013, pt.6: Kiini Ibura Salaam

A Sampling of What I Enjoyed This Year
by Kiini Ibura Salaam

 Bottle Caps, Tin Cans, and Chainsaw Sculpture
El Anatsui at the Brooklyn Museum 
Color, scale, texture, and sweeping movement. What looks like luxurious folds of cloth is actually sculpture made from bottle caps—sculpture that can be rearranged and reformed by art handlers at every new exhibition.

“What I do is a combination of painting and sculpture.”—El Anatsui

Watershed of Images and the Scarred Beings Who Navigate Global Greed
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Layered, unrelenting unraveling of a nation, of a cadre of characters who live at the margins in a dystopic future based in a reality we see unfolding today.

“If she were to scrub for a thousand years she would not be clean, but she is too tired to care and she has grown accustomed to scars she cannot scour away.”—Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl 

Organic Forms That Reclaim That Which Is Unwanted 
Ann Weber’s Cardboard Sculptures
Delightful discoveries of textured forms made of discarded cardboard that organically tower, bulge, balance, and hang.

“How far can I build this before it collapses?”—Ann Weber

Passion and Full Throated Voice
Alice Smith at Bowery Ballroom
A captivating performer, Alice Smith delivers full-bodied, incandescent, startling performances that are moving and emotionally rousing.

“Where are you going with your life? What kind of chances will you take?”—Alice Smith

Multi-stranded and Maddening, A Torrent of Non-traditional Fleet Imaginings
Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters
Like downing a bracing double shot of something homegrown and bathtub-brewed, reading The Salt Eaters was a confusing, destabilizing experience that left me stimulated by Toni Cade Bambara’s bravura to write an entire novel with her own narrative structure, heedless of the reader’s needs.

“Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?… Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.”—Toni Cade Bambara, The Salt Eaters

Melancholy, Passion, and Meaning
Christian Scott at Weeksville
A young jazz artist who plays in the tradition while bringing the heart, fearlessness, and restlessness of the young to audiences through his horn.

“His jazz chops are impeccable, it’s coming up as part of the hip-hop generation that adds bite to his playing.”—The Village Voice’s Phillip Miynar on Christian Scott

Dead-ends, Senseless Death and Alienation
Fruitvale Station
This Sundance Grand Jury prizewinner is film I had not planned to see, did not think I could stomach, yet it became the tonic and the witnessing I needed after the verdict was rendered in the case against Trayvon Martin’s murderer. The bodies of dead black Americans continue to pile up with little or no justice, retribution, or consequence. It was and is absolutely necessary to witness to the people/spirits who live(d) in those bodies, the lives we snuff out with our laws, prejudices, and phobias.

“At the end of the day, when I first made this project, it was about humanity, and how we treat the people who we love the most, and the people who we don’t know.”—Ryan Coogler, director of Fruitvale 

Tar Baby Doll, Reconstructed Sculptures, a Torrent of Words
Tar Baby Jane: A Documentary About Vanessa German 
Refusing to let class, color, weight, insecurity, mental health challenges stifle the electric pulse of creativity that flies through her soul.

“What if these figures were not worthless?.. What if we lived a different way? What if we believed different things about each other?”—Vanessa German

Graphic, Gorgeous, and Deliciously Weird
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples
The bounty hunter with a woman’s head and torso and spider legs, the murderous bounty hunter nursing a broken heart and on a mission to save a child sex slave, the planet that is an egg, the tree ship, the ghost nanny, a wildly imaginative ride with stunning illustrations and some new bizarre creation to ponder at every turn. This is not something to read, it’s something to inhale.

“What kind of assholes bring a kid into worlds like these?”—Brian K. Vaughn, from Saga, Volume 1

Raucous, Irreverent, and Random
 Seasons 1 and 2 of Misfits on Hulu
Out-of-control teens who suddenly have superpowers yet no privileges and no freedom in a dark world.

A Moment of Sweetness
Matthew Schuler’s rendition of “Hallelujah” on The Voice

 Kiini Ibura Salaam is a writer and painter from New Orleans, LA. Her work is rooted in eroticism, speculative events and worlds, and women's perspectives. Her fiction has been published in a number of anthologies, including Dark Matter, Mojo: Conjure Stories, and Dark Eros. Her essays have been published in Essence, Ms., and Colonize This. She is the author of the KIS.list, an e-column that explores the writing life. Her first collection of short stories, Ancient, Ancient, was published by Aqueduct Press in May 2012 and was a co-winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award. She lives in Brooklyn.

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