Thursday, September 29, 2011

Train talk.

I spent the evening riding around in artificial light, watching people, watching the rain streak the bus windows, la plume blowing delicately on my neck from the wind of the metro. As much as a pain the rain can be at times when dry clothes are of the essence, I love it dearly. Keeping in mind that school is what I make of it, I packed my camera equipment and one knight's helmet with the green plume and hit the road. Destination East. Whenever I feel lost, I head East. There is no real explanation for this, it just feels right when considering the options of direction.

On the bus ride to the nearest metro (Place-des-Arts) downtown, I met a young woman named Hana who reminded me so much of Lisa Varga. Slice of home in the simple familiarity of dress and speech. Hana kindly obliged to my camera and gave her face, knights helmet and all. The woman sitting beside me as I shot was also curious about my motive. Welllllllllllllllll. My motive is to explore the intimacy of portraiture through the aid of a prop. This knight's helmet embodies the nerve it takes to approach and be approached. The goal of my artwork is to produce approachable and truthful imagery. Nothing is more pleasing than to witness true character unfold like a flower through my lens, even for a moment. Trust. Is. Imperative. I love exploring this, pushing the boundaries of solitary comfort. The look of surprise and bewilderment on the faces of strangers when asked for their portrait are the mental photographs I tuck away in my mind's eye. Too bad the camera isn't capable of such quick looks.

People watching.

Eastward I went, eight, ten, twelve, fifteen stops. Every five stops or so I got off to walk around underground, open to connection of any sort, camera in hand, feather bobbing alongside like a willing pup. I met one man, no name taken as I forgot to ask. We conversed on a darkened bench in French to begin; my words tumbling out in broken particles like a child and he obliged my humble effort by answering my questions with a deliberate slowness and clarity. Merci, mon ami. I should have asked his name. When I asked for his photo, he retreated backwards on the bench with sudden velocity as if suddenly aware of his work clothes. Little did he know how I love work clothes, how I am drawn to workers. Wished I could have explained this to him in french. Maybe the helmet intimidated him, je sais pas. We shook hands when my train arrived and he carried on collecting crumpled metro journals for recycling. One wave, goodbye. Such kindness in those eyes and a strong handshake.

While waiting for the train at Place-des-Arts, two young men caught my eye. Jeans and leather jackets, big black boots. One man was incredibly tall, his friend short by comparison. I approached them after considering them for ten minutes, knowing that I would lose the image in mind if I waited another second. They were very kind and receptive. Laughter dancing around inside eyes, such a sight upon recognition and incredibly hard to capture. They were from Holland, their accents sweet like dessert. The train came before I could take their names. Shoot. It is very important to me record names and addresses when possible. I found it difficult to meter light underground but shot around anyway, who cares.

Last shot was of a cute french boy who laughed at my crappy french and then gave his face out of pity or mirth, I couldn't tell and shot anyway. He wore the helmet with confidence despite the train full of people. Square shoulders, dancing feather, fluorescent lights streaking the perpetual dark of the underground.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

First Print.

First day in the color darkroom today. It was so exciting to grow more comfortable as the hours went on. Can't believe how long I have been waiting for this day. I began printing around twelve thirty and there happened to be a fire drill as my first contact sheet was rolling through the Kolex processor (I had to call that thing's name all day) and was lucky enough to run into Jeanette! We sat on a curb. It felt good to be around her, gave me hope. Then back I went into the dark. It was a really bizarre experience, exciting, addictive, and frustrating in it's process. Faintly familiar. I love trial and error work, this fits. My first printed photo below, due in a few weeks. I couldn't for the life of me get the hang of printing the contact sheet. So I decided to take a BRAIN BREAK, got some water and then tried my hand at a single photo.

School is about to get wild, exciting times ahead.

"Coming out of 13, heading towards the Kolex". I love the darkroom dance, waiting for bodies to sail pass, calling out to each other. I stood in my open doorway in the pitch dark trying to remember the name of the processor on the right side. The Kolex, nice to meet you. My winter was spelled out for me today and I couldn't be happier.

Color print, yee haw.

Steve illuminated by daylight. Scan of 6.5x9.5 my first color print of Concordia. Sept 2011.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Florescent laundry.

Saw this from Simon's back balcony. Shaky but inspiring to see such color on a line. Ektar 100.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Oh hay. Happy Mabon. Out with the old! Rest dead. Shift gears, soft clutch.

Giv'r shit.

Hay Lisa. Your description in a recent letter created this hilarious image of you in my mind. Jean shorts, wild long bob Lisa, in my head you are on a really cool scooter, not a bike. Zipping on WAVERLY, passin' semis. Running Room club jacket in Lilac. Rouge hair, big smile. Thanks for the image, made my week. I miss you so fucking so.

Hay Erin. I am thinking of you. Flashes in my brain. How are you. Have you painted your house chartreuse? I am hoping that in the wake of shit news, there is major room for creativity elsewhere. Sewing? Cleanse? Your house is like your fashion, wild and strong. I miss being in it and around it, braveface colors. I admire that in you! I miss you. The other day I came across a photo shot by Janelle on the day we cruised to Gimli, Manitoba with Meach and Ginger Rogers. Everyone in a dress! I will never forget that afternoon in the home that is now Milky's when you threw wide the doors of your closet to us. Zipper a go-go dress, my freakin' fave. Great day, miss you. Love you Sister Mary Clarence. 

Hay Rags. I saw a photo of Willa's juicy wrists on Luminary of Day's post this afternoon. Thank god for that place. Great photo album to cruise backwards in. Oh baby, can't WAIT to see this child enough times once the snow flies that we begin to feel comfortable in each other's arms. Can you hug a baby? Please do. I can't wait to feel the growth of your daughter's (and sons perhaps) shoulders in my arms. Aunty Mergs. We will go on family camping trips someday. I will want to be in charge of lighting the fire. Lord knows when, but I look forward to it heartily. Today I thought of you as I sat down to my Fibers 260 class on the ninth floor. Morning grey light pouring on the work tables in the studio like big pails of paint. For some reason my mind goes to you first thing there. Maybe you are with Willa then or sleeping, either way I am with you then. I miss you. I love you.

Hay Giles. Well, you know. I will be there as quick as can be. Get the snowshoes and a good sports outfit ready.

He's related to you
He's related to you
He's related to you
He's nude as the news, nude as the news
Nude as the news, nude as the news
All over, all over, all over, all over

Cat Power through really large forty year old headphones. My Listening Station is complete. Well, as complete as can be at this point. Speakers will become phase two. I am not there yet. For now I have been enjoying my set up. Realistic STA-225 AM-FM Stereo Receiver with Gemini turntable and Sony DR-5A headphones. The sound is so much better now that I have switched to this pair of phones with a jumbo jack. Big sound. Rebecca asked me on the phone what I have been listening to and I had to laugh when it was time to answer. Two records on rotation and nothing else. Cat Power occasionally (only the What Would the Community Think album currently) and Brahms Piano Trios: The Beaux Arts Trio. The album art is incredible for a classical record. It sold me and the piano, violin and cello combination is beautiful and clean. Brahms died just three years before the turn of the century. Apparently he was a workaholic who was constantly burning his imperfections. When my outlets are spoken for by ongoing projects at my work table (majority of the time) I listen to 99.5 FM Radio Classique Montreal. That is it for now. 

Ballet on my mind. 


I read this was a basis for Feminism the other day and I like it. Self-determination. So much better than self-discipline. Okay, school is a discipline but the beauty of it far outshines the shit parts. Today I sat through a safety demo for my Fibers Print and Dye class. Potions, that is what I will be doing through winter. Mixing little bowls of potion. Dyes and pigments are VERY different things. I had never considered the difference until my class this morning. I love the 8:30 classes. Bright eyed and bushy tailed after a quick clip downtown on Alba. Coffeebreak at 10:15 hallelujah. In this time I usually wander the other levels of the building. Back in the studio for a walking tour portion of the demo. It was then I saw my first glimpses of our personal spray room, mixing room, papermaking room (QUOI?!! Nine floors above sea level. I cannot imagine how beautiful it will look in winter).

The yellow room was my favorite as it was well equipped with tools and machines that caused my heart to soar out of my chest upon recognition. It is the room for coating screens, for exposing screens (in a unit that opens like a fridge instead of on it's back like a box, I was so curious), for drying screens in a box (never knew that was a thing [other than old airdry] until today), and for washing out emulsion. Fuck yes. Excuse moi. The spray booths in the yellow room had SAFELIGHTS installed in the backsplash of the basin, covered with plexiglass with the purpose of being able to see if all your emulsion came off and the screen clean for the next project, as those details are often overlooked in florescent light. That might be wrong. I will find out soon enough.

It was an affirming day. Time to shrug the doomcloak. I am in the right place and readier than ever for a room called yellow. Bought a used silk screen for fiber printing at a sale this afternoon and some supplies for printing. WOOOHOO!

Art school is what you make it. As is life. Slowly, I am learning.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Le Poulet goes to school.

First day of preschool. 
This was the moment he realized life was about to change drastically. Poor guy.
Through his papa's legs on the first day of school.
Choosing the right chair.
Leo discovers the miniature kitchen just behind the shelf. Thank God.
Raise your hand if you feel weird.
Thank goodness for dads.
At the end of a hard day; soother in mouth. Pictured with Leo is the class Biter.
Through the looking pane at the end of Leo's first day. Proud nanny!
Back to the place he knows best. Day one, you are OUT.
Balance bike for a tiny tot named Leonard!

Dusk pick up.

Wading through textbooks. An art history reading response shouldn't be that difficult, but it is. Come on brain, switch tracks. Literal to analytical, it is high time. Instead of reading one hundred pages, I am going through photos (not for school). What is my problem? Why is this so challenging? What would life be without its challenges? Boring as hell.

Right now I want to run screaming back to the life I once knew in Manitoba. But that would be too simple. This is hard, this is hard. This is hard. Today I am just too damn literal for art school. I don't understand the technicalities of my camera. Now when I shoot I am unsure where I once used to be sure.

This is so damn humbling. Wow.

For some reason, this photo shot last week while wandering after the sun dropped out of sight on Garbage Day gives me hope. I may never be an art historian, but I recognize beauty in the ordinary and this shot reassures that. Slam the door on self doubt Margot. Pick up your camera, figure it out.

Garbage man. Fujifilm Provia 400X. Shot on Fairmount Ave, Montreal; September 2011.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Drifters.

Hello out there. Ca va? It goes and goes at this work table. Time soars like never before!

Spotlight on James Brown y'all.

Currently grooving in my room to Wilson Pickett. Headphones and vinyl. Sweet spot; this is where I come when I get home from school to feel grounded by familiarity, surrounded by things I do know. The album THAT'S SOUL was chosen at random off my self and the first listen after many moons brought me back to Grade Six when I was first introduced to soul music in Mrs. Lopez's art class. Thanks woman. If it weren't for her, Lord knows where I would be in this world.

Someone marked the back of the record sleeve with the name Skinner W in heavy blue pen, dated March/ 73. Speaking of the Seventies, Virginie handed me her father's old Nikon F2 (a camera body introduced to the camera world in '71 following the F series) the other night. It is a beauty. Heavy, mechanical, chrome and black bodied, attached to a 35mm lens which I had never looked through until that moment at the island in Leo's kitchen. Niiiiiiice. The timing was impeccable as my need for a second lens was dire. Doors flung wide once again with an incredible gesture of trust and generosity.

Merci, woman. I will shoot with love.

Oh Aretha, sing it. I LOVE the song I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You. Super sass.

Today was good. Photo studio class numero deux. I sat around a table nine strong, bewildered by technicalities of the camera flashing on a huge screen before me. Wait! What? In my incomprehension and frustration I thought of my Auntie Marj and my family and the people who have encouraged me relentlessly this year. Yes, this is exactly where I need to be.

Aunty Daryl breathed life and laughter into my system for the millionth time in my life this evening. It felt so damn good to howl into the phone, tears flying, open mouth laughter from the depths all from a single memory. Thanks for putting into words what I was not able to string together on my own. I am a KROEKER. Through and through. Frank KK just to let you know, I am in the messy process of rebuilding my foundation even though I would much prefer to be sailing ahead with production, these things can't be rushed. Never rush production. Even though I am a Kroeker, and rushing and production are what I know.

Devendra! Holy shit, as IF it has been nine months since I last listened to his 2009 release, What We Will Be. Find the song Baby, slap on some headphones, sit down, do yourself a favor and give it a good listen. Babs, how many hundred times did we listen to this over the darkest part of the winter at the Golden Studio, heels on hardwood, wine in hand, shitty make up, fakey fireplace, weird clothes, fur on silk?! Mrs. Banhart to you. I salute you and him both. When I listen to Devendra, I am with you. Now, where have I placed my cauldron of red wine? Where have I placed my dear Rebecca? These things go hand in hand.

Back to rushing and the stark reality of NOT knowing everything. It is okay not to know everything in terms of personal passion, as much as I would like to. I never will. Right now I am studying the history of photography which is deadly interesting, hallelujah.

Leo and I had a slumber party at my house on Friday. Success. Life is good, he still remembers me (irrational fear).

Doll house zeal. I love you Poulet. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pinstripes and poverty.

Monday. List du jour Day. Tick tick tick. Cycle cycle cycle. Just came from L. L. Lozeau, a photo shop where I managed to spend one million dollars on one fistful of professional film. And so it begins, photo studies and poverty. Shot my first assignment yesterday: one roll of 36 color exposures, any speed, any light, any subject. Quoi?!?

Met a very kind man named Panesar in the process. He was wearing a smart dress shirt with blue and white pinstripes. Caught my eye. He shot my portrait and I shot his. I wished I had another lens for my little Nikon EM sitting in my backpack in order to shoot him while he looked through my Nikon F3. It felt like the start of something, handing a camera over to the subject to shoot while being photographed.

The list of Needs is endless. And yet at the end of the day, all one needs for a good shot is trust. Where is the balance between what one has and what one needs?

Life is pretty strange these days, the transition of it all has thrown me for a loop. I am constantly checking my agenda in fear of missing an appointment, assignment, class, meeting. Weird! Excitement trumps daily worry. I have to trust in my organizational skills and stay on top of my work. I will find a rhythm, it is too soon to tell.

Off to the library to study as I have no textbooks yet.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rol + Deb.

Rol + Deb, Chelsea + Chase. Outside Kenora, Ontario; 2010.
Smoking out windows. Cameron Block; Ontario; 2010.
Red Lake pumps. Ontario; 2010.
Tyska does the wash. Sioux Lookout, Ontario; 2010.
Molly on the Block, Dara in the sky. Cameron Block, Ontario; 2010.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


This morning I walked into my first Photo Studio class and sat down in what was clearly a critique room. Big table, magnet walls. Chih-Chien Wang is my professor. He seems very relaxed and I liked him off the hop. There is something about his mannerisms that remind me of John, the man whose kitchen in which I first began. Anyway, it was wild. Twenty photographers around the table, 23 with staff.

After an introduction to the course ahead, we were led like ducklings by JoJo, a sassy Quebecoise woman who KNOWS HER SHIT. Allllright. She led us first into the Photo Finishing room, beyond the B&W darkroom, through a hallway, into the Color Print room, through a revolving door into the Color darkroom, where I will be spending many an hour come mere weeks from here. Wild! I was surprised to find we were beginning with color printing but the more I read, the more pleased I became.

In my meagre experience with contrast and color darkrooms, they are completely different processes. Contrast printing is wet and hands on, color is dry and rolled through a machine. Technically challenging in their own rites. This I will come to know. While standing in a long hallway with 6 or 7 doors leading to small rooms containing enlargers, JoJo hustled (this woman hustles like no other! She is hysterical) away and turned the lights out. Color developing is done in the pitch dark. Oooooh wee!

It was an exhilarating day to say the least. Exciting times ahead! Can't wait to put on my PRINT APRON. Thank the heavens. Tomorrow I begin my Fibres studio with a class called Fibres: Print and DYE. Can't wait.

Here is some recent work.

Love Margot

Room of whimsy. Montreal; September 2011.

Shot from Mikel's window.  Montreal, September 2011.
Stripes for Virginie and her boy. Montreal; September 2011.

A Triumph goodbye. Montreal; September 2011.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Print and DYE.

Rolled out of bed this morn and hustled downtown to run a few errands and drop off some paperwork at Concordia. I wandered around, familiarizing myself within the walls of the university buildings and eventually made my way to the EV building where all of my classes will take place. My studio classes are on the seventh and ninth floor. Came across the Printmedia studios first. Dear Lord, help me. Delicious. I could smell the solvent through the double doors.

Then I found the door to the Fibres Print & Dye studio. Beautiful. Just the idea of taking a class that combines fabric and print makes me want to SCREAM with joy. I so look forward to stepping through those doors this Wednesday. Wild. I saw the screens stacked neatly inside, aprons ready, not to mention so many things I had no recognition of their use. Exciting new tools, new procedures. I live for procedure work with quality production!!!!!!

Just looking in I was reminded of Jeanette, who is set to begin her masters studies in lithography (I think), a labor intensive form of printmaking. GORGEOUS freaking rooms, the print rooms filled with presses. They blew away. Some dude found me lurking in an empty hall and invited me into the serigraph studio for a firsthand look. Since I could smell it, I went straight to the back and inhaled. Sweet familiarity. Work tables, tilted light tables with room to tuck your knees under on a high chair (my favorite place to spend time), spray booths lined with rules and protective gear. Rules! I have a hunch my wild and free color mixing days are dead and gone. Hellooooo Pantone whatever. Shit. It will only be good for me. Anyway, it felt so bizarre to wander through a place totally foreign but also familiar.

Here comes the weekend. I took the day off today with Chanel's advice in mind: before any big change, take a holiday. Sound advice. Holiday mode commence.

Ickle Miel.

Drying the paint of the Third Eye; 3-4-1 party. Montreal; August 2011.