On this night of the Chinese lunar festival, across the mountains, the moon shines down on my daughter.
In Hong Kong lantern festivities of gold dragons wind through streets and light protests glow from the heights. Hong Kong dwellers form an illuminated human chain across Lion Rock.
The traditional Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes once used to transmit secret revolutionary messages are transformed this year with independence slogans in a Hong Kong bakery.
Lit up by a full moon on Georgian Bay, David Young posts a short video of his island retreat.
“Good night harvest moon,” he writes.
The camera tracks an exquisite pan. A solitudinous sweep across wind and water into a gold lit dreaming place signalling to me a domestic retreat from what ails the world.
A lantern on a rock.
Traditional origin stories of this harvest festival tell of the moon goddess disappearing from her human form and floating to the sky.
In the middle of this night of the mid-Autumn Festival, the moon goddess swims in the sky and I awaken sleepless to watch the film Robert Mapplethorpe directed by Ondi Timoner.
The documentary awakened in me the power of this artist’s drive to make work, to break boundaries of propriety, to challenge bigotry, to refine the intensity of beauty.
Panned as “vanilla” Mapplethorpe by some, the film is strangely awkward and stilted, yet still affecting. Even the politics of race that informed Mapplethorpe’s relations and representations of Black men come clear in the rebellion of a Black lover and photography model who dramatically quits Mapplethorpe, trashing some of his work as he departs.
New York’s cruising convivial bars, leather dungeons and white galleries fill with pleasure throughout much of the film. The denouement of Mapplethorpe’s last days in a hospital bed stand in for the bedrooms and hospitals, the thousands of sick and bereaved. By the end, the beauty and daring radical spirit are overlaid with disease. And the legacy of a generation’s artistic production cut through with the horrifying death zone.
The film communicates powerfully a sense of the era. And for anyone with intimates caught up in the epidemic — a tragic pall returns in the memory of your brilliant creative friends who died so young of AIDS.
It’s all there on Netflix in the middle of the night. A glowing screen illuminates the sheets — the moon goddess returned to earth.