one month ago, i packed up my entire life (and by that i mean i packed up 9 pairs of shoes, 7 pieces of outerwear, basically no clothing, and nothing else of use to me other than both my laptops, great job emma), hopped on a plane, and relocated to berlin, germany. it was scary. nothing anyone told me, and certainly nothing i told myself, prepared me in any way for the past four weeks. i’ve always published on littlecity in the name of full disclosure, so for better or for worse, here are some things i’ve learned about berlin.
my first time visiting fabian rosas beckman‘s apartment in montreal’s plateau, we had snuck off from an after party to go look at his art — including a piece he was gifting me after i had gushed it on facebook. to say that his apartment was filled with his art would be an understatement. every surface is literally covered in paintings. and not just walls — tables, counters, tops of shelves, corners; all stacked with paintings, planks of wood, and found objects that fabian has repurposed into his own unique canvases.
a mexican-born, montreal-based artist, singer, writer, photographer, and lyricist, fabian has produced over 200 pieces of work; some measuring more than 4 meters wide. if you asked me to describe his artistic style, the first word that comes to mind is “expression.” maybe that’s the obvious answer. maybe not. his paintings are multi-layered, wildly textural, capturing movement in fingerstrokes or freepoured paint so that the whole thing feels dynamic, engaging. each painting takes on a life of its own, abstract enough that it is read differently by everyone, but grounded enough that we all feel something when we look at it. he’s the kind of artist that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty: it might just be the secret to making his art so unsettlingly personal.
fabian and i play this game when we’re looking at his art. he asks me, “what do you see?” i always rattle off a peculiar anecdote or bizarre comparison, one that is sometimes different, sometimes identical to what fabian tells me when i ask him the same question. it’s like those children’s books — the ones with a pointillist image that when you squint at it a certain way, you see a sailboat? this hilarious but poignant conversation of “don’t you see it? right there?”
ahead of his debut solo exposition ephemere at montreal’s le saint jude tonight, we decided to recreate the game for this piece, where you’ll find five of fabian’s paintings, described by each of us. for more on fabian and his work, you can find him on instagram, or check out his expo tonight at 3988 st denis. he will also be hosting paintbending, a night of art-meets-music at lounge l’un et l’autre on october 11th, featuring sounds by swack, ana+one, zeina, daoust, M4CR0, alicia hush, and marc leveq.
a little over seven years ago, i sat in the backseat of my parents’ car, listening to “wide open spaces” by the dixie chicks on repeat, and crying as they drove me from my native toronto to montreal for university. i had spent the previous night having what i would later describe as enlightened moments with my best friends and my high school boyfriend — we had watched the sunrise from the top of the playground at my elementary school. the whole memory has a kind of a rose coloured glow. at the time, i didn’t think it was possible for anything to ever mean more to me than those moments with those friends. when i finally arrived in montreal, i cried for two days straight.
my first couple years here were spent at concordia, and i took on a life that involved frosh week, thirsty thursdays, beerfest, and st patrick’s day, the epitome of a university student. i loved every minute of it. but it wasn’t until i became immersed in the local music scene that i started to really understand montreal, and it wasn’t long before i felt like montreal understood me. i started going out to shows and concerts and having what i would later describe as enlightened moments on the dancefloor.
“we both love going out, meeting new people, new trends, music, and new concepts,” sarah-marie and florent tell me of their new events venture, bolting bits collectif. “we studied in different cities — paris, london, bordeaux — and these cities have really influenced us. we wanted to establish bolting bits by keeping in mind the collaborative cultural models of our favourite venues around the world.” inspired by events like saturday nights aboard the i.boat in bordeaux, which boasts a terrasse, art exhibitions, a bassin-a-flot, and a party in the ship’s hold, florent and sarah-marie hope to bring a similar sense of mix-and-match to their collective’s events. bolting bits will host not only DJ performances, but visuals, mixtapes, and videos. “we want to offer different activities, different media,” they explain, “we want this project to be 360°.”
i have a strange relationship with osheaga. this is my seventh year taking to montreal’s parc jean drapeau for the three day music and arts festival. you might say i’m a veteran. you might also say i have not ever learned my lesson. true, i know how to come prepared, dress for the weather, sneak in booze, and maneuver through the crowd, but i have not yet learned how to party in such a way that i don’t hate myself for the entire week following the festival. maybe some things are just unavoidable.
this year, like last year, i spent most of july shrugging that i was “not even that excited for osheaga” (that didn’t stop me from spending a whopping $250 on the full weekend pass), but i always change my mind when i arrive on site. i have a pretty well documented love of music festivals, but there’s something special about osheaga — sun shining, with my friends, in the city that taught me how to love music. the weekend was definitely not without its lows, though, so my coverage this year will cover both.