Artist re: Money by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Dublin, 2015

Dublin, 2015

Why Money? 

Why we like money? Why we dig deep always for that money? Why we take time from our napping and sunning and singing and hunting and gathering for that Green? Not like Green in the grass way, not like Green in the apple in our eyes way but Green in the Green Greedy Goblin cha-ching in the eyes way? 

Why you think that Money Tree don't grow money but twist up and up like your insides when you realize it don't bear a dime or even a dime-bag for when you sad it don't bear a dime. Huh? 

When you gonna think about money like food. Like water. Like shelter. Like freedom. 

Forget about money.

For getting money.

Forge money.

Forage money.

When you recede by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Today was a strange day, I think because last night I had trouble sleeping. I lay there, floating in and out of my body in that cottony space between waking and dreaming. The backs of my eyelids alive with traces of light, exploding from darkness like fish flitting quickly through bioluminescent depths. Part of me is terrified of that vibrant stillness, and part of me wants to remain there forever. It's like being back in the womb, I imagine, where there is no up or down; no close or far or big or small or heavy or light. Just you before you were a You.  And the world turning on its axis, hurtling through space as if to say Silly Baby you don't know anything - you still think I'm talking to you? Psych that was rhetorical. No really shut up you're missing the point.

Today was a strange day, I think because last night I had trouble sleeping. I lay there, floating in and out of my body in that cottony space between waking and dreaming. The backs of my eyelids alive with traces of light, exploding from darkness like fish flitting quickly through bioluminescent depths. Part of me is terrified of that vibrant stillness, and part of me wants to remain there forever. It's like being back in the womb, I imagine, where there is no up or down; no close or far or big or small or heavy or light. Just you before you were a You. 

And the world turning on its axis, hurtling through space as if to say Silly Baby you don't know anything - you still think I'm talking to you? Psych that was rhetorical. No really shut up you're missing the point.

Up in the Air! by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Cappadocia, Turkey, 2015

The otherworldly beauty of the Cappadocian landscape is stunning from any angle, but floating above it at dawn left me speechless. The fantastical rock formations are more than meets the eye. Not only are they a geological wonder, but also home to a network of dwellings, churches and subterranean refuges, carved from the stone over centuries. 

Lickety Split Personality (a riddle) by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

For as long as you can remember you've been putting one foot in front of the other. Occasionally along the way you've stumbled but ultimately you can't help but move forward, as the passage of time demands. You can never beat it - even in death, when gravity buries you deep; the earth isn't frugal with it's centrifugal and you will feel forever that the sky is made of quicksand.

But before all that becomes obvious to you, it's one foot in front of the other, like I said. Throughout many days and nights of walking you'll come to know stop signs and roadblocks and flickering street lights; sharp turns and cul-de-sacs and roadkill; breathtaking lookouts and vaguely helpful information booths. One day you'll arrive at a confounding fork and two brothers will be waiting patiently for your arrival.

One always lies and one always tells the truth, but you don't know which one is which. One fork leads to happiness, the other to despair, and you must find out which to take, but can only use one question to do so. What same question can you ask either brother to continue on to happiness?

First one to guess correctly gets a lollipop and some free bad advice.

 

Out of the Vault and Across the Bridge by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Out of the Vault and Across the Bridge ...

This one's from the vault.

I made this print when I was 13 and just getting interested in photography... back when I was using the real tangible stuff. To say I was rough with my negatives would be an understatement. I sliced them up and scratched designs into the emulsion. I left dust (the arch-nemesis of photographers and housewives alike) where it lay.

Despite this betrayal of the medium's integrity, I felt no remorse as I navigated a summer of experimentation. At that age, unacquainted with failure and brimming with a confidence inflated by chemical fumes in a light-tight room, I became a serial surrealist.

Who are these children split down the middle? If you were to shrink down and travel across their faces, you would be met with a fracture on nearly every plane - an abyss that would keep you searching and hopeless for miles, ever the stranger in a strange land. Eventually, though, you would reach the nose. That vast mountain of common ground. "How could I have missed this?" you'd say out loud (to no one in particular) and you'd proceed to carve "__________ WUZ HERE" into the ground before walking across the bridge.

...

Whirlwind Tour of MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CIRQUE by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

I've been working on this one for a while, and it's been a lot of fun... Take a gander at why Montreal's annual circus festival is a world-class event - not to be missed! Whether you're into flying trapeze, flash mobs or miniature horses, it's all here - and more.

Must Sees - MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTMENT CIRQUE! by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Ironworkers

Welcome to the topsy-turvy, titillating world of Montréal Complètment Cirque!  Although only 4 years old, it has rapidly earned its stripes as a must-see amid the dizzying array of Montreal summer festivals. Bringing together acts from all over the world, the city’s circus festival will redefine what you thought you knew about circus arts... and if you never thought about them at all - well now's your big chance!

It runs until the 14th, so you still have a few days to witness some of the action. I'm working on a video of the fest, so here are some footage stills and a few suggestions (click on highlighted titles for dates/times/tickets).

* * *

LES MINUTES COMPLÈTMENT CIRQUE & BABEL (Free!)

If you find yourself grabbing a drink on Rue Emery around 6:30, you will be treated to the combination of two things very Montréalais: the terrace and a good flash mob. Nothing can adequately prepare you for a flood of 40 acrobats as they take over the street, weaving in and out of crowds, tumbling, flipping and sweeping over terraces, all beckoning you -  dear spectator – to Babel, a truly awesome show at Place Émilie Gamelin outside Berri metro (7pm & 10pm).

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babel

CARPE DIEM (also free!)

When I was a kid, I went to the Verdun circus school, and to this day, at least in my head, I can still walk on stilts. Other wannabes can try their hand(s) on the trapeze at Parc Jean Drapeau from July 11th through 14th for a show and a free lesson with Cirque Carpe Diem.

CIRCA -  “S”

If you’re going to see any show, this should be it. The world-renowned Australian troupe Circa returns to Montreal with "S"… a breathtakingly seductive and transcendent performance. At times funny, always surprising, and impossibly intimate, I would see it again in a heartbeat.

Circa1
Circa3
Circa2

FLIP FABRIQUE  – “Attrape Moi”

Québec’s own gem. Six young acrobats, all at the top of their game, have reimagined a summer reunion at a chalet in this amazingly creative and clever show. This is one of my favourites, and it seems I’m not alone, as two more dates have just been added for an extended run.

flipfabrique

FABRIQUE MÉTAMORPHOSIS - Ironworkers Local 777

Conceptualized within the unique framework of the SAT, this one’ll turn you upside-down. Immersed in a 360 degree projection dome, the constantly rotating imagery casts the acrobats and audience alike in psychedelic light and sound – imagine being a goldfish on the Jimi Hendrix Experience tour. Can’t say I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.

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* * *

Although I have yet to go, I’ve heard great things about Cirque Éloize’s “Music-Hall de La Baronesse” – a cabaret style show celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary at l’Olympia.

There's plenty of free stuff happening outdoors over the weekend (13th & 14th) at Place Émilie Gamelin outside Berri metro (same spot as Babel). So if you need another reason to fall in love with Montreal, check out the programming HERE and I'll see you soon.

Bon spectacle!

What's on Your Bucket List? by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Here is my 3rd vlog for My Destination's Biggest Baddest Bucket List competition!

Winners week in London is drawing closer, and it's got me thinking about my dream trip and where I would go if I win the 6 month trip around the world and $50,000.

So... what's on your bucket list?

If you haven't yet done so, please go to my page to view my original entry video (a 3 min tour of Montreal!) and help me out by clicking "support and follow this finalist" - the green tab to the right:

http://www.mydestination.com/users/nasuna/bbb#tab

Thanks for your support and I'd love to hear your favourite must-sees around the world!

Just Another day at the Photobooth by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Bonjour everybody!

Just posted my latest vlog with a couple words about what I've been up to this week, but mostly some photobooth storytelling... this one's worth watching til the end. I'll let this video speak for itself, so, without further ado: check it out!

If you like it, remember to click "support and follow this finalist" on my page at:

http://www.mydestination.com/users/nasuna/bbb#tab

By doing so, you can really help me in my quest for a trip around the world and 50,000 buckeroos.

Best Ice-Cream in Mtl, Mannequins and Shenanigans by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Hello and thanks to all my wonderful supporters and followers! - your regular programming of travel photos, anecdotes and mini-essays will continue after this, with more content than ever... but in the meantime:

Above is a re-post of my entry into the contest, for those who are just joining me on this journey, and right below that - my first vlog as a Top 10 finalist for My Biggest Baddest Bucket List!

A huge thanks to everybody out there who voted for me in the first round, but did you know that you can do so again?

You, yes, you, can make all the difference in my quest for the final 6 month trip of a lifetime & $50,000, which I intend to distribute amongst worthy NGOs I encounter on my travels. If you haven't already done so, AND you liked my entry, AND you'd like to see the money go to something other than the most expensive chandelier I can find, then please click HERE and click on "support and follow" next to the video :

http://www.mydestination.com/users/nasuna/bbb#tab

...And one more thing... if any of you know anyone in the tourism, media and/or mannequin manufacturing business, please be in touch, as I'll be needing all the publicity I can get!

I can now be found on:

Twitter @NasunaPhoto & Instagram: nasunaphoto & Youtube: Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Thanks again!

TOP 10 PARTY! So close to the trip... (No Pressure) by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

balloon_trap

Today has been a CRAZY day! Found out this morning that I made the TOP 10 for My Destinations Biggest Baddest Bucket List Competition (check out my 3min video submission in my previous post) but I'm not out of the woods yet! Next step: I'm off to the UK on May 18th for a week of challenges to duke it out for the final round the world trip. Looks like I'll be on my toes for another 5 weeks!

I took this picture while exploring a hilarious interactive exhibit by Martin Creed at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa (for more on our capital city, check out my fellow BBB top 10 finalist, Véronique Morissette's video ). It was a room filled with 20,000 black balloons which you could move through, often in total darkness. They were so tightly packed that sometimes a step forward meant that the balloons you displaced would cause one on the other side of the room to be squished until it burst! It was unnerving and exhilarating all at once, navigating this sea of unpredictability... and the exit was all but impossible to find. The balloons were 5 deep overhead, and flung my hair out in every direction. I could hear other visitors laughing or yelping with every snap crackle & pop, yet had no idea where they were. After much shuffling around, I saw some light filtering through. Aha! At last! But as you see, I came face to face against the glass, far from the exit and able to see the stairs up, up and out, but I still had a journey ahead of me.

...but of course some self portraits were in order, and despite the confused and innocent museum visitors outside, I took my time and collected as much static as possible.

Ok, so that analogy got de-railed a bit, but the point is that I'm not entirely sure how I got here, but I ain't done yet! I'm honoured and flabbergasted by this new reality, especially given all of the amazing submissions I watched when the competition was open. To all my fellow entrants I just want to say: wanna come surf on my couch? ... or, can I come surf on yours? If any of you are in Montreal, drop me a line!

And to my dear readers (or watchers, if you only dig pics) I still need your support! You can "follow" me via facebook traipsing around London in the lead-up to the Big Winner Announcement by clicking on the green tab to the right at:

http://www.mydestination.com/users/nasuna/bbb#tab

and...

To get a better picture of the Martin Creed Balloons Exhibit, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QrKvDhcmXE4#!

YIPPEE!  (fun fact: I just had to look up how to spell YIPPEE!)

MONTREAL MUST DOS - the original vid by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Hey all you lovely blog readers/followers... welcome to my 3 minute whirlwind tour of my favourite city: Montréal!

This is my entry to My Destination's Biggest Baddest Bucket List competition, where I can win a trip around the world AND 50 grand! This is the craziest prize I've ever heard of, so I had to give it a shot.

I need your votes, shares & likes, so take a gander and vote away :) You can vote using one or all of the following: Facebook, Twitter, Stumble-Upon, Pinterest & Google+.

10 finalists are chosen in the first round, 5 which are picked by judges, and 5 picked by popular vote, then they head to the UK on an all expense paid trip and a new set of challenges! If I get that far then I'll pee my pants! But I can't do it without your help, so please take a second to vote here:

http://www.mydestination.com/users/nasuna/bbb#tab

Voting closes March 31st (Sunday) so get your share on!

Merci!

PS.    It was impossible to cram everything into this short video, even though I was running around like a madwoman, but I think I've captured at least a little slice of this city. What do you think I missed? I'd love to hear about your favourite spots!

Siesta Eternal by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

mom_hammock

My mother naps, wrapped in a hammock in Mexico. She is alive and well, but here, she seems to sleep eternally.

The other day I watched the film Amour, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and best foreign film at the Oscars this year. It shed light on the final stages of life, which I think few people dwell on until they find themselves there, and then they haven’t got a choice. That’s the scariest thing – getting to a place where you no longer have a say… where you can’t assert your identity. What does it feel like to lose control over your own existence?

I listened to a really interesting podcast this week by Radiolab called “The Bitter End” which wrestled with this question. They found that there’s a surprising gap between what doctors will do for us when death is near, and what doctors want done for themselves. While most of us would say: save my life at any cost, doctors know the invasiveness of many life-prolonging interventions. The majority opt for an earlier death soothed by painkillers, rather than a few extra months with a breathing tube. A study done in 1996 found that TV medical dramas depict CPR as having a survival rate of 75%, but I was stunned to learn that in reality, it's only 8%! And of that, only 3% return to a normal quality of life. No wonder our perception is skewed.

In the end, all living things share the same inescapable fate. I guess doctors think about that more than most. To me, the thought is simultaneously comforting and terrifying – the idea that we’re all in it together, and yet

completely

alone.

… but what can you do?

The World is Flat by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

1_Alumia_Stuart-Ulin

This is an optical illusion.

Years ago, I was given a book called Masters of Deception, a fascinating anthology of optical illusions which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to gain perspective… or lose perspective. Whatever your poison, just like everyone needs a good cry once in a while, so should they pour over that book.

In any case, I can’t look at this photo without being reminded of a mind-bending drawing by Jos de Mey, a Belgian artist, called Uit- en Inzichtraam voor Ars et Mathesisvrienden… whether it’s more befuddling to say or to see is up to you.

Some friends of mine were building their new house in Westmount in the adjacent lot to their current home, and asked me to photograph the foundation in an abstract way. I had a good window to do so during the construction holiday, so I scouted the location and came upon an angle that played tricks on the eyes. The rebar posts, sticking vertically out of the concrete, aligned themselves in such a way that it seemed to create a step in the plane.

The safest passage to the lot was through my friends’ backyard, so they had given me keys to their house while they were on holiday. I resolved to shoot later that week, just before dawn, when the light would be best.

I returned at two in the morning on the last day. The street was dark and quiet – the silence amplified since I had just come from Osheaga, which was anything but sleepy.

I’d arrived with plenty of time to set up and wait for morning. I thought about this as I jostled the spare keys and fiddled with the lock. It took me a while to open the door, but I finally got in and… the alarm starts beeping. Before I could say, “that’s funny, they didn’t mention an alarm”, I hear someone’s voice saying HEY, WHO’S THERE?! And fumbling on the stairs. In my head I said “oh shit” and out loud I said, “it’s Nasuna! It’s me! It’s just me!”

The cops were nearly called, and I had some (very) sheepish explaining to do… they had come back a day early and assumed I’d already shot the property.

… anyway if any of you dear readers would like me to photograph your house and/or break into it while you’re sleeping, you know where to find me.

Frolicking in God’s Pocket by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

adam.facepaint_1 When you find yourself alone in Tasmania, with melancholia and homesickness beginning to creep around your edges, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and swap islands.

Although I was halfway around the world, I’d been invited by my dear friend Claire to join her and a few friends at God’s Pocket - a cold water diving resort near Vancouver Island operated by her relatives. She was taking care of the place during the off-season, and wanted to share its serenity and beauty.

I had planned to continue travelling in Australia (Dive with whale sharks? Ride the transcontinental Indian Pacific line? What about New Zealand? I was so close to New Zealand!). I was paralyzed by choice for some time, sitting in a park in Hobart, ignorant that the Trees had Eyes behind me.

In the end, I flew back for the gathering, and spent an idyllic couple of weeks frolicking, dancing, exploring, cooking, eating, sleeping and skinny dipping every morning in the freezing cold sea – the plunge making me forget everything I know for a clean instant. Those same piercing waters were lit up nightly with phosphorescence, and at the time it occurred to me that the ocean held a mirror to the starry sky, just as it turns blue on a clear day.

Here, a fellow God’s Pocketeer is being decorated by his fiancée, one of many portraits from that adventure. There’s plenty more where this came from, since (as you may know) face-painting is contagious, and I will be posting more as I sift through them, but this is one of my favourites.

The Universal Wavefunction by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

IMG_9772 My friend Sarah is a dreamer and a creator. Here she is, looking over a wall on the boardwalk in Chicago, right before we went to Burning Man. It was a dreamy, spectacular summer of firsts: first time taking a transcontinental train (New York to San Francisco, in the company of Mennonites!); first time couch-surfing (our lovely host Michael skipped his first week of school to hang with us on the beach); first time attending a festival (if you’re a Burning Man virgin, you’re made to slam a big gong at the entrance and yell and scream and roll around in the dust, an initiation that will jolt you out of catatonia like a slap in the belly with a wet fish).

This moment, of Sarah peering over the wall…  for me it has the qualities of a hazy memory: idealized in palette and without the 3rd dimension. No future, no past, just a razor thin slice of what it feels like to look out into the unknown. Every possible outcome under your feet. To quote Stephen Wright (more or less) like having both amnesia and déjà vu at the same time.

I feel like this photograph all the time.

The Everyday Experience by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Caro.in.the.kitchen This is my friend Caroline, and this is what she looks like in between texts in the kitchen. No big deal.

I met Caroline at theatre school in Montreal, where we did weird things like embody characters behind masks, pretend to martyr ourselves on rafts encircled by sharks and test our intuitive orientation through sensory deprivation exercises. I suppose if you’re the paranoid type, you would say that this behavior isn’t so far from the Everyday Experience of a dog-eat-dog world.

For the past few months, I’ve been making occasional trips back and forth to Toronto to work as a background performer on film & tv sets. You know the crowds of people running from aliens or losing their shit at college football games? I’m one of them. It’s extraordinarily bizarre. Lots of people think it’s glamorous, but when they cover you in fake dirt, lather your hair in vaseline and send you out into the world dressed in full combat regalia, sometimes you begin to question your reality.

Anyway, now she’s a filmmaker and a dancer, currently documenting the krump movement in Toronto. You check out her website here:

http://www.carolinebrassard.com/

& subscribe to her youtube channel here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/CaroLion514

Live Free and/or Die - White Sea Turtles by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

tortugas.overlay Yesterday I went to a sea turtle sanctuary called La Tortugranja on Isla Mujeres (the Island of Women) in Mexico.

It's a tiny, beautiful island, despite daily boatloads of tourists being belched onto the surrounding beaches from Cancún. Unassuming and out of the way, La Tortugranja is not only a sanctuary for turtles, but also for lone photographers in a hermit-ish mood.

They keep many different species here (all endangered) but most stunning are the white sea turtles. According to their caretakers, they cannot absorb sunlight properly and so suffer a shorter lifespan. Because of this and for educational purposes, they will never be set free, though I can't help but think that a short life in the ocean is better than an eternity in a tank.

An Award (!) in Applied Arts Photo Annual 2013 - Landscape Series by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

MaunaLoaCabinPano_web Keep your eyes peeled for the May/June issue of Applied Arts Magazine, which will include my series of panoramas from Mauna Loa for this year’s photography and illustration awards!

You can see the announcement here: http://www.appliedartsmag.com/blog/?p=12476

This unassuming summit cabin, perched at a dizzying 14,000 feet, was the last stop on our hike up the volcano. Though altitude sickness was dragging us to our bunks, I managed to squeak out a few shots at dusk. Alas, I will forever kick myself for neglecting to capture the stars. The Hawaiian skies are so clear that neighbouring Mauna Kea is home to the twin-mirrored, big daddy Keck, the biggest optical telescope in the world.

So I didn’t brave the cold that night, but in the morning I made it up to myself and - finally! - donned the lavish gown I had lugged up the volcano, having lacked the self discipline not to indulge in a thrift sale before the hike. It was only two dollars I could tell it needed a vacation.

Near-Death! Phone-Sex! (in that order) by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

Rest at Red Hill Alex takes a rest at 10,035 feet outside Red Hill Cabin, the first stop on our hike up Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world. The attentive viewer will notice the etchings in the cabin door, which read "Mars Hotel" and "When the going gets tough, the going get warm".

Once you're above the cloud-line, the sun can do a number on you, but come nightfall, temperatures can get dangerously low (it snows regularly in the winter). The night before our final decent, we stayed at Red Hill once more. All was quiet. The moon pierced my eyes so I couldn't sleep. It must have been two in the morning when we heard heavy footsteps and the creak of the door... who on mars could it be? It was desolate out there; we hadn't seen another soul for two days and 23 miles.

Alex later said he'd feared it was an axe murderer, but it turned out to be a hypothermic German hiker who had gotten lost near the summit and had walked 11 miles over 14 hours overnight. He'd lost his jacket and his light - using only the moonlight to guide him... and it was his first hike! Just to be clear, the terrain is a never-ending expanse of black, jagged rock, and the trail is marked by other black rocks. His friends had gone ahead of him to the summit cabin (only 2 miles away) and as it got dark he got disoriented and headed down the slope instead, fearing that if he didn't keep moving, he would die.

The next morning we tried frantically to contact his friends, though no-one had reception but me at the top of the hill (pictured) and I couldn't connect to the Swiss phone number. Then I remembered: I have a calling-card! But it wasn't on me.

Completely flustered, I remember it in a flash and with my battery light blinking I dial 1-800...

It rings, a sultry voice says: Hey baby, my sexy girlfriends and I are anxiously waiting to talk LIVE to you...

Ahh!! Did I just call a sex chat-line?! I did! On top of a volcano, with a dying phone and at this crucial moment!

I dial again.

Hey baby, my sexy girlfriends and--

Ahh!! Ok, Nasuna, you can do this. Eventually I remembered the right number and in the end we escorted him down. He was reunited with his friends (scoundrels) and the search party was called off.

... but not before I got a text message which read: Hey Stud - Our busty babes are waiting for your call.

 

You can view a wider shot from outside the cabin in a previous post  here: http://nasuna.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/red-ant-hill-2/