MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION
Not having previously wanted to lose any considerable length of time under the influence, Ottessa Moshfegh's exploration of one woman's attempt to recreate herself via a year long experiment in narcotic hibernation feels unsettlingly attractive.
Like Moshfegh's earlier novels, as well as being typically frank and wryly observed (darkly funny at times, acutely uncomfortable at others), the unnamed narrator – a privileged twenty four year old living alone in New York's Upper East Side – despite tender moments, is fundamentally unlikeable. So what?, you ask. An unlikeable woman in literature is not something we feel alarmed by any longer - this is 2018 after all. Except, however, we do feel mildly alarmed. Seeing much in Moshfegh's protagonist that we dislike – her inherent narcissism and wilful blindness to any outside events as examples - and yet still having even the faintest inclination to do what she does, feels repellent. There is a disconcerting familiarity about it all. Even the title feels like an echo of current self care and wellness trends. If the ending jars, so too does the realisation that for all our eyes-wide-open rhetoric, it seems we still desire, even if only vaguely, dreamless oblivion and the promise of a pain free rebirth.
AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON
In his review of Yasujirô Ozu's film An Autumn Afternoon, legendary film critic Roger Ebert writes, 'From time to time I return to Ozu feeling a need to be calmed and restored. He is a man with a profound understanding of human nature, about which he makes no dramatic statements. We are here, we hope to be happy, we want to do well, we are locked within our aloneness, life goes on.'
Riffing on the same themes as My Year of Rest and Relaxation (Loquet's book of the month), where the aforementioned disquiets, An Autumn Afternoon soothes. Filmed in soft colour, in Ozu's characteristically minimalist style, the film is a tender exploration of the relationship between a father and daughter. Neither particularly demonstrative but both intent on sacrificing their own needs for the sake of the other's.
Well known for creating a sense of mono no aware, a Japanese term which refers to a poignant feeling of transience, Ozu's last film will stand you in good stead for the specific, family-orientated, often bittersweet period between November and New Year.
A brisk autumn walk along the Southbank is always a joy but never so much as when you are headed towards an eagerly anticipated exhibition at the Tate. Documenting the full breadth of her pioneering career, the new Anni Albers retrospective doesn't disappoint.
From the small scale 'pictorial weavings' (hand-woven pieces made 'not to be sat on, walked on, only to be looked at' – Albers), to large, complex wallhangings, and the unique textiles she designed for mass production and for specific architectural projects, as well as her work as writer and teacher, Albers has transformed the way weaving can be understood, marrying this ancient craft with the language of modern art. Not least because its subject deals primarily with the tactile, the exhibition feels warm and expansive; Albers’s influence, both personal and professional, entirely without measure.
To delve deeper, before or after your visit, we suggest reading co-curator Briony Fer's essay Anni Albers's Object Lesson in the current issue of the Tate's in-house magazine Tate Etc. Anni Albers continues at the Tate Modern until 27 January 2019.