A year of some returns —while the world at large still feels tenuous and chaotic. But patterns of daily life, of work resuming a bit of normalcy. Opportunities to travel, returning to some loved places, discovering some new, including a long deferred trip back to India. Feeling motivated and energized by new music and art. Making a short movie.
Below are some highlights from 2022 and hopes for a productive and adventurous 2023.
Highlights & Recommendations
As I reflect on what 2022 brought, it was a surprisingly rich year. My aperture was open — this year brought small treasures from far and near, including some lovely, strange movies from all over the world, a range of great music, a lot of which I was able to see live, and unintended runs of novels about climate apocalypse and dives into what I guess is called autofiction, and which I guess I like.
Here’s the stuff that stood out in 2022.
Movies, Books, and Music
Drive My Car
I’m Your Man
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Worst Person in the World
Pather Panchali at Metrograph
And the treasure that is Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers & Official Competition.
For all its flaws, the World Cup — the magic of Messi, Mbappe, and Morocco.
Also, the Joe Pera show.
Some wonderful albums from 2022 and a few things I slept on from recent years that came to the fore either through close listens or live performance.
Sudan Archives — Natural Brown Prom Queen
Cate Le Bon — Pompeii
Charlotte Adigéry / Bolis Pupul — Topical Dancer
The Bogie Band ft. Joe Russo — The Prophets in the City
Arooj Aftab — Vulture Prince
Mdou Moctar — Afrique Victime
Cassandra Jenkins — An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
Dawn Richard — Second Line: An Electro Revival
A completely unintentional run of books that dealt with climate anxiety in different ways was a return to my undergraduate work thinking about sustainability, development, and climate.
Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry of the Future begins with extreme heat and horror in Gujarat, where I was born, and paints a picture of the coming apocalypse and how we might find a way out that is both harrowing and hopeful. Sandrine Collette’s The Forests explores a societal collapse that’s even more terrifying. Yoko Tawada’s Scattered All Over the Earth traverses time and cultures, exploring future displacement and current.
The latter two books both in translation — and one of two themes in fiction that I’ve come to appreciate more and more. The first, reading novels in translation, which hold more elegance and mystery for me than contemporary fiction from the US. Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall also holding a tension and drama in its metaphor of Alpine isolation.
And then what I guess gets lumped into autofiction, works that weave the loosely biograhpic with reflection and thoughtfulness, which I’ve come to enjoy. Discoveries and highlights including Rachel Cusk (Outline, Transit), A.L Snijder’s collected zvks in Night Train, translated by Lydia Davis, and Daniel Mendelsohn’s literary meditations in Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate.
Art, Performance, and Food
Returning to live brought good food, some great live music, and decent art.
Big King — a final meal at a really special restaurant in Providence that will be missed.
Winona’s — hosting a superb, delayed 2021 holiday dinner for Studio Rodrigo in April. Great food and vibes.
Nene’s Tacos — dangerous.
Adda — a little higher end, but totally legit.
47 Jobner Bagh — eating whatever Ajit has prepared for dinner in a lovely garden guest house in Jaipur.
Performances and Exhibitions
Sasha Walz in C @ BAM
Deana Lawson @ PS1
Dakota Modern — The Art of Oscar Howe @ National Museum of the American Indian
Assembly, NY curated by Bosco Sodi in Monticello, NY
Helado Negro — good vibes @ Brooklyn Steel
Dawn Richard — incredible, more energy than anyone deserved @ BAM
Mdou Moctar — joyful & hypnotic @ BAM
Stuart Bogie and the Bogie Band — pure joy @ Brooklyn Bowl
Cassandra Jenkins & Arooj Aftab @ Knockdown Center
Unstored at Bosco Sodi’s Assembly in Monticello, New York
Mary Manning’s Ambient Music at Canada, New York
La Cocina de Humo in Oaxaca, Mexico
Deana Lawson at PS1, Queens
Helen Molesworth’s Death of An Artist podcast
Severance’s Defiant Jazz
Travel & Making
Perhaps the most important return of 2022 was a return to some far flung, adventurous, and meaningful travel along with a more modest return to making for fun, not just for work.
The year took us to places both old and new, including Brooklyn, Hollister, CA and the Central Coast, Ann Arbor, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Queretaro, San Miguel de Allende, the Hudson Valley / Cold Spring, NY, Berkeley, CA, Lisbon, Alentejo, New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and ending with New Year’s Eve in Jodhpur.
In Brooklyn, the Center for Fiction became a new space to explore, while BAM and Metrograph continue to be homes for movies and culture.
Studio Rodrigo celebrated 2021 at Winona’s in April, then a 10 year anniversary with a wonderful brunch at Di an Di, and finally 2022 with a feast at Sofreh. And we also launched Amp Club, exploring and enriching our understanding of Brooklyn and the city (https://www.ampclub.nyc/).
A jaunt upstate brought us to Bosco Sodi’s Assembly, NY, the always fun DIA Beacon and Storm King, and a surprise delight in the UFO Museum in Pine Bush, NY.
Aldo & Rachel’s wedding allowed us to explore Queretaro and San Miguel de Allende while Caroline & Tony’s gave us an excuse to revisit Portgual, this time in the vineyards of the Lisbon countryside and Alentejo.
Erin and I ended the year with a trip to India — the longest travel I’ve been able to make in 10+ years. Distance and time have come into my relationship with India over the years, in how frequently I am able to visit, in how I understand myself and the country in which I was born, and how quickly the country and its people are evolving.
But each trip to India brings layers of depth — to my personal understanding of self, to how rich and complex and beautiful the world is, and to the how history twists and turns and thoughts about what the future may bring. This trip was no different — returning to India for the first time in 10 years, and to Rajasthan and Gujarat in more than 25.
Seeing the Taj Mahal again, the Hawa Mahal again, the wonder of stepwells for the first time, and thinking about the Mughal’s art and excess, the stonecraft of Hindu and Jain temples, the folk craft in textiles across Gujarat and Rajasthan, and the deep, complex, and layered history of the subcontinent and its religions, philosophies, and traditions.
For more photos: https://www.instagram.com/rdholakia/
We centered the trip partly around tourism and partly around craft, exploring Erin’s interest in textiles, print making, natural dyes, and the economies that surround these heritage crafts. Being able to explore India through that lens, in addition to our normal approach to travel, added more richness and is something I would highly recommend.
New Year’s Eve found us in Jodhpur and the new year continuing on through Rajasthan, exploring palaces made new and those forgotten by time, and on to Ahmedabad, where I was born. Hopefully that start to 2023 proves auspicious.