Matt’s Art Journal – January 1, 2021

I’m going to try to keep a journal this year, keeping track of my art explorations and professional activities. By that, I mean that I will be keeping track of the films, music, books and art that I encounter every day. These discoveries are inevitably interconnected with my professional career, as I am a reporter, editor and digital content creator, as well as a lifelong scholar of the arts.

Today, I watched my first film of the year, Abbas Kiarostami’s Where Is My Friend’s House from 1987. I thought it was wonderful and among the most accessible films by the Iranian director that I have ever seen. Touching in its simplicity, the film chronicles a young boy’s journey from one village to the next, as he looks for his classmate to bring him back the notebook he has mistakenly brought home with him.

It’s also quite thrilling to find yourself in rural Iranian villages as you watch it. You become quite fond of the texture of its stone walls and the sunburst, desertic colors. That’s the transportive power of cinema has made me a long time, devoted cinephile. I couldn’t have asked for a better movie to have resumed my film viewing this year.

I also listened to Nubiyan Twist’s self-titled debut album from 2015. This is the second time I have listened to it and I love it. I appreciate this UK jazz ensemble’s multicultural groove, blending tradition and modernity. The influence of Afrobeat is particularly prominent.

I am also still reading Away With the Penguin, a book by Hazel Prior from 2020. It is about an old cranky woman who tries to reconnect with her estranged grandson late in life while also becoming strangely obsessed with an endangered colony of penguins. It’s charming in its own way but it’s becoming more conventional with every page and I am thankful that I’m nearing its conclusion.

I’ve tried to start the year by taking it easier than I normally would. I also ended it too intensely, swamped with work and really struggling to live in the moment. Art was pretty much the only thing that kept me rooted and I am thankful for that. I’m a little concerned about the thought of emails kicking off again soon. I’m trying to prepare for all that the best I can. Mental health is important.

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