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Monday, 22 December 2008

'Couture' is the Only French I Speak



A look at my experience at the Pret-a-PARTage workshop, Dakar.

I have just returned from an almost two week stay in Senegal as a participant of the Pret-a-PARTager workshop run by the German Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (IFA). The workshop consisted of seventeen artists from Berlin, Dakar, Douala, Hamburg, Cape Town, Kinshasa, Lagos, London and Stuttgart, coming together to produce a art/work around the theme Art and Fashion.


The participants came from Photographic, styling, performing as well as designing disciplines and were all well established in their disciplines, such as Akinbode Akinbiiyi, co-founder of the Bamako Biennal of photography and Performance artists Athi-Patra Ruga. My role was to document the workshop process through a report so my time was spent listening, observing and conversing with the artists.

The participants were made up of primarily two main languages, German and French although the workshop was designed to be in English, with things getting lost in translation. One thing that was for sure for me was that being at least bilingual French English, would definitely be of benefit to me working in and around West Africa.

As with any trip abroad I had sneakily thought that that could also be a really great holiday in spite of the heavy work schedule. Boy was I wrong. The time was very intense, with work going on around the clock. Even at the dinner table work was being discussed, there was clearly no clocking off time.

I continue to work with the group and IFA on the work created over the period of the workshop but for more info please see:

www.ifa.org

http://www.germanyandafrica.diplo.de/Vertretung/pretoria__dz/en/02__Germany__Africa/modedakar.html
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Saturday, 13 December 2008

Towards a police State

On the 4 December T. Hammarberg, the European Commissioner for Human Rights, presented the Council of Europe with a report on surveillance and Human Rights in the Europe post 9/11. Entitled “Protecting the Right to Privacy in the Fight Against Terrorism,” the report takes very important (even if already obvious for many of us) conclusions on the dangers of the current tactics employed to fight terrorism:

We are rapidly becoming a ‘Surveillance Society.’ This is partly the result of general technical and societal developments, but these trends are strongly reinforced by measures taken in the fight against terrorism.

In the context of the fight against terrorism, this means individuals are at the risk of being targeted for being suspected ‘extremists’ or for being suspected of being ‘opposed to our constitutional legal order,’ even if they have not (yet) committed any criminal (let alone terrorist) offence.

‘Targets’ of this kind are moreover increasingly selected through computer ‘profiles.’ Even if some may be caught, there will always be relatively large number of ‘false negatives’ - real terrorists who are not identified as such, and unacceptably high numbers of ‘false positives’: large numbers of innocent people who are subjected to surveillance, harassment, discrimination, arrest - or worse. Freedom is being given up without gaining security.

(...)

In the process, all of us are increasingly placed under general, mass surveillance, with date being captured on all our activities, on-line or in the ‘real’ world. Such general surveillance raises serious democratic problems which are not answered by the repeated assertion that "those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear."


Now as I said before, this conclusions bring no news to those of us who have since the beginning been concerned with the terrifying dissemination of surveillance systems through the fabric of our everyday lives. Still the point that I think its worth stressing in the conclusions of this report is the fact that the fight against terrorism is one of a prophylactic kind: the policing institutions surveil our lives in order to identify individuals that match a certain profile for then to punish them for a crime they will (most certainly) commit. (Any reminiscences of Minority Report in here are obviously not mere coincidence.) The tactics then is then to avoid the crime instead of punishing the criminal; that is, to surveil and control the population instead of disciplining the bad guys by sending them to prison. Very good idea was it not for the fact that the psycho-social development of individuals is not an exact science and nothing assures us that a certain individual will become a criminal just because he or she fits in a certain criminal profile - hence what Hammarberg calls the ‘false positives.’

This move away from discipline to control brings with it strong and real dangers not only for the 'false positives' like Jean Charles de Menezes, the brazilian electrician shot in the head 7 times by the police in the aftermath of the London bombings, but for the general population in terms of the small but substantial changes happening around us - DNA records, ID cards, CCTV systems, and the possibility of having someone monitoring our lives without us knowing simply because we might look like this or that.

Now what made us, heirs of the western democratic values, agree with this is something I’ve been trying to understand for quite a long time now. Citizens of free countries, inhabitants of multiethnic post-colonial cities, we have suddenly accepted to give away our rights - rights to privacy, to anonymity, to movement, to rebellion - in the name of a supposedly boosted sense of security. But the question is: do we really feel safe(r) now? Was it worth it? And, most importantly, will we regret it?

What do you guys think about this?

SOURCES:
Council of Europe: Commissioner for Human Rights, Protecting the Right to Privacy in the Fight against Terrorism, 4 December 2008. CommDH/IssuePaper(2008)3. Online. UNHCR Refworld, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4937a1af2.html  [accessed 13 December 2008]

IMAGES:
#1 © Isabel Pina Ferreira
#2 © Alexandra Ferreira
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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Methods

I always find the process of learning new working methods an exciting one and after many bouts of second-year-at-art-school-existential-angst it finally seems like many of the ideas I’ve had during my first term in the second year have started to pull together. I’ve been wanting to incorporate sound into my studio practice for a while but its only now that I’ve really committed to learning as much as I can in terms of the technology and media skills involved in using this medium. This is something that has made me very enthused about almost all the work I’ve been doing these last few weeks. The process of attempting to learn things that sit outside what you’re comfortable with however is always a challenge and I often find this nagging little voice at the back of my mind warning of possible failure that I have to suppress at all costs. I found an article about a man that was writing a book on his quest to track down all 43 people formerly in the band The Fall. I was fascinated by Mark E Smith’s reasoning for changing his line-up so regularly; that having a regular turnover of band members promoted ‘creative tensions’ that prevented against the group’s sound becoming stale and set. In a similar sort of way I feel it important to reassess your working methods to ensure these don’t fall into the comfortable and to stop you relying on formulas that may make your work routine and predictable.

I’ve also made the learning that when at University if there’s an area you’re interested in that’s not covered by your course but can be found elsewhere on campus then start going to those lectures instead. I know it sounds obvious but I suppose I think it’s worth mentioning.

Speaking of which, I met Vicky Bennett yesterday, during a lecture for the Sonic Arts degree at university. It was very exciting. I was lucky since I'd only heard by word of mouth that she was speaking about ten minutes beforehand. I had a vague idea of the work she produces from a number of tracks I'd downloaded from The Wire magazine website some months ago but strangely enough I'd heard more of her work than I’d previously thought and had no idea these were her creations. I'd first heard 'On the Rooftops of London' on the former Radio Three show 'Mixing it' (since being removed from the Radio Three schedule this amazing show can now be found every Wednesday evening on Resonance FM under the name 'Where's the Skill in That?') and immediately I liked it. The piece is a montage of numerous waltzes from various films and musicals such as Oliver Twist and Mary Poppins and what was really attractive for me was the emotional connection I had with the memories of these films through their being referenced in the piece of music. Funnily enough I didn't know it was Vicky Bennett (normally under the name of 'People Like Us') who was responsible for this until I recognised some sort of an aesthetic in the pieces she played us during the talk. Her sound and video work is largely constructed from samples, (some of which you can have a look at on her website) cultural artefacts re-appropriated, cut-up, rearranged and reformed in order to create new narratives from recycled media. What caught my attention most of all was the comparison she made between the re-appropriation of narratives and musical arrangements within folk traditions and her methods of making work, as though this could almost be described as a digitised, globalised form of folk art. I was lucky enough to talk to her after the lecture and we found common ground in discussing the sad demise of 'Mixing It'.

Well, I guess the point I’m making with all this rambling is possibly the importance in taking risks and exploring new working methods since the experience can be such a valuable one…and it can often be a great antidote when you’re creatively ‘stuck’.
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Monday, 8 December 2008

Pick of the Week 08.12.08


As you may have noticed there has been abit of a dry spell on the blog as everyone seems to have the dreaded humbug flu. I was off all last week gobbing in a festive napkin and downing paracetamol like it was mulled wine, but you aren't here to listen to my mucus related tales you want to know what our herd of angels and shepard's aka bloggers are up to this week....



Blindness - Chosen by Joao
"The new film by Cildo Meireles, it has had mixed reviews: not as phenomenal as the book by the Portuguese Nobel winner Jose Saramago from which it was adapted but still a great visual experience. And that's the point for me - the film is made of images while the book was made of words. The focus of our attention should be the stunning sublime visuals sometimes so cold and empty, sometimes so human (like when the dog so humanly licks the tears off the face of Julianne Moore's character); no words are needed for conveying such a strong idea of a dehumanized (more primitive? more truthful perhaps?) society where a dog assumes human characteristics.


Place - Chosen by Holly
Sir John Soane's Museum
13 Lincoln's Inn Fields
London
WC2A 3BP
open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10-5pm
free
Wonderful place especially at this time of year

Exhibition - Chosen by Joanne
19 December, 8-10pm
Eileen Simpson and Ben White play a DJ set featuring out-of-copyright clips, blips and loops sampled from 19th Century music boxes, player pianos and other automated music machines. This is followed by a phttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giferformance of a new composition made in collaboration with Felix Thorn for Felix's Machines, and assembled from out-of-copyright material for the player piano.

Group - Chosen by Yasmine
A group of artists called Framework based in Swansea do loads of community focused projects and they're always looking for collaboration,
There is an event on the 9th December, check out their facebook profile here

Book - Chosen by Lisa
British Animation: The Channel 4 Factor by Clare Kitson
Lisa went to see some Channel 4 animations in a special screening hosted by Kitson on Friday night, they were enthralling. This book explores the way animators have used the medium of the moving image to explore creative ways of communication.

Symposium - Chosen by Sam
Art in the Social Sphere
January 29 2009
Loughborough University
£10 (including lunch)
radar.info@lboro.ac.uk
Speakers include: Dave Beech, Barbara Steveni, WochenKlausur, Public Works, Yvonne Droge Wendel, Lisa Cheung
The symposium will focus on current artistic interest in responding to a social context, questioning its ability to be both conceptually interesting and to offer a meaningful contribution to the society in which it takes place. It will focus on issues of authorship, the motivations behind an increase in engaged practice and the degree to which art can ultimately effect social change or social cohesion.
It will analyse specific case studies and look at the motivations behind artists choosing to work within a social context. It will explore the impact of changes in society, particularly in relation to social infrastructures and networks, and the degree to which these have compelled artists to use their work to support both communication and community.


Theater - Chosen by Carly
Pick of the week is definitely Hansel and Gretel at the Barbican - A reinvention of the Grimm classic, the audience are walked through a wintery land and towards a sugary, sweetie house where someone is waiting... Looks to be a beautiful experience!
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Sunday, 7 December 2008

Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005


What most people know of Annie Leibovitz is her prolific work for Vanity Fair magazine. Iconic portrait after iconic portrait of ever-more iconic sitters: from George W. Bush to John Lennon, from R2D2 to Leonardo DiCaprio, from Cindy Crawford to Queen Elizabeth II, from Demi Moore to Patti Smith. They are all here. However, it is the other stuff, Leibovitz’s more personal work – of her parents, of her children, of her lover, Susan Sontag – that gives the National Portrait Gallery in London’s current photographic exhibition real depth.

This show, beautifully curated by Charlotta Kotik and coordinated by Susan Bloom, first opened in 2006 at the Brooklyn Museum and has since appeared in San Diego, Atlanta, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Paris and, after London, will appear in Berlin. The success of the exhibition is evident in the string of renowned galleries and museums that have taken it on, and it doesn’t take a lot to see why they have done so.
Kotik’s successful blending of Leibovitz’s highly recognisable, super-glossy Vanity Fair images with her unknown and very personal works is perfectly executed. We see intimate snaps of Susan Sontag in the same series as a one of Leibovitz’s most famous celebrity shots: the pregnant Demi Moore. This could be jarring, but rather feels like it shouldn’t be any other way, a revelation rather than an obscuration. The personal works actually inform the professional works, giving them a resonance that perhaps wouldn’t otherwise be felt or recognised.

Likewise, we see how the professional works have affected the personal ones. Leibovitz’s relationship with Sontag, Sontag’s death in 2004, the death of her father, her relationship with her children and her relationship with celebrity over the past thirty years, are revealed to be intrinsically linked, each making up a very important part of Leibovitz’s oeuvre and, accordingly, life. This linkage is enhanced by the arrangement of works by feeling, rather than date, subject or genre. Kotik has allowed (no doubt with the input of Leibovitz herself) the emotion conjured by a photograph to precede any sort of curatorial dogma, which often dictates how a photographic exhibit is arranged.

Somehow, the pieces of the jigsaw are made to fit, with even the gigantic landscapes Leibovitz did for Conde Nast Traveller becoming personally relevant through the story Leibovitz tells of their conception. They, like all the works, only add further insight and scope to the exhibition, further depth to this very personal and profound portrait of A Photographer’s Life.

Perhaps the key to the exhibition’s success is the scrapbook room in which small prints of Leibovitz’s work have been tacked to a pin-board. This room, almost completely lined with (relatively) tiny Leibovitz works, is the nucleus of the exhibition. It contains personal photographs, out-takes from epic shoots for Vanity Fair and Vogue, and variations on works in the exhibit. The near-casual nature of their display (though I’m sure it’s well thought-out) encourages the feeling that this is a very personal display; even perhaps that Leibovitz has herself chosen where each photo will be tacked. This furthers the idea – whether grounded or not – that we are here privy to something quite personal: the inner workings of one of the world’s great living photographers.

All this begs the question, however; what is this exhibition about? Is it about Annie Leibovitz, the photographer, or about Annie Leibovitz, the woman? Is it Annie Leibovitz we are after, or is it her photographs? Why does it seem to work so well, having personal images alongside professional ones? Is Leibovitz’s life to be reduced to her photographs? Or are her photographs raised to the level of a life? Perhaps it is both: The photographs are her life and her life is the photographs.

Whatever it is, there is something here that is often missing from exhibitions: the feeling that the Great Artist is a person, just like us. Consequently, we feel a sense of accord with this illustrious acknowledgement of Leibovitz’s work and life. Likewise a comfort that there are two things that render us all equal: love and death.

Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005 runs until 1 February, 2009. For more information visit npg.org.uk.

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Saturday, 6 December 2008

Art vs. Grades



I went to an open day at London College of Communication to find out about their Graphic Design courses last Wednesday. At these things I usually hide behind my hair and try to not make eye contact with anyone (a habit I really ought to break, as I’m going to have to learn to network if I want to get into the design industry) but this time someone came and introduced me who seemed determined not to be put off by my introverted nature.

This woman I got talking to turned out to have no art qualifications past GCSEs. She wasn’t in college, she was working for a web design company, doing the technical side of the job. A spirited young woman, she wanted to be doing something more creative. She wanted to be doing something weird and wonderful with her life. After asking a few people for some advice she had decided to look at doing a Foundation Degree in Graphic Design to nurture her creative potential and to provide her with the qualifications to prove that she has such talents.
The university doesn’t ask for grades, for UCAS points, for experience. The course she was looking at just wants a portfolio to show a prospective student’s thought processes and potential, as well as an interview to determine if they’re the kind of person they want on their course. You don’t need to have sat through college to go to an art university. You don’t even need to have done a Foundation diploma, like I’m struggling through right now. So long as you’re self motivated enough to practice your talents so you can show them off in an interview, you can get into university.
After all, art isn’t about knowledge, it’s about creativity, and you don’t need to sit through college to gain that.
On the other hand, however, it does give artists and designers some bad press, perhaps some people do not consider a degree to have as much ‘worth’ as others if it does not ask for you to have been a particularly good student at school? If it’s what you want to do, though, who cares what anyone else thinks…
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Monday, 24 November 2008

Comlexity vs Simplicity

A Disappearing Number by Complicite and Mind Out by Station House Opera.

The Barbican Theatre is absolutely lovely, I hadn't been there in a while. The doors close the audience in, leaving the rest of the world far away preparing us to be engrossed in a performance. Unfortunately was not engrossing. It was rather shallow.

The piece told the story of an Indian mathematician in the 18/early 1900s and a teacher studying the mathematician's theories in the present day. The company used complex maths as the central topic. There was then a number of threads from this which were a relationship, the mathematician moving to Cambridge and an overall theme that everything in life is connected; something happening in India in the early 1900s is connected to an event in England today.

The piece constantly flipped between India and England, past and present. Flipped in a literal term as there was a screen in the middle of the stage where characters and centuries changed as the screen reversed and characters ran through it.

The play was very visually pleasing, projections of hundreds of numbers running across the screen and live video offering different perspectives of scene. The design was precise and well thought out. However this was the only part of the play that was precise. I found the transitions between scenes too fast and clunky. This play did not seem to have any heart, it was rushed through. I was waiting for a moment of climax in the piece, a moment of excitement but it did not happen. However the play was moving at an exciting pace but it felt that each scene did not have any time to develop. There was so much going on between set, maths, music and costumes that I could not connect with any of the characters which left the story quite, well, empty! The complex maths even more complex layering was just far too confused.

This was an extended run of this play, maybe it had been over done, so that it wasn't fresh? Did any one else seen the play? I would be interested to hear comments!

Mind Out by Station House Opera was incredibly simple and tremendously effective. Each performer was separated in mind and body. Each performer commanded an others actions and there were multiple relationships happening which shifted constantly.

The performance had a good pace with small situations building up to anarchic scenarios as the performers' evil side emerged. Identity and free will were toyed with and the characters personalities were built through their actions, commanded by another. Each performer determined situations to benefit themselves and they became selfish. The performers were all out for themselves!

Mind Out is rather surreal, the occurrence of three musicians with performers in a freeze frame, is a image that comes to mind. Pace, great acting, focus on content and extension of one idea made the piece very effective.

A Disappearing Number was so busy and complicated that I couldn't connect, couldn't feel anything because I could not get through. And Mind Out was honest (if that's the right word) by leading direct route to the heart of the performance as soon as you enter the theatre. No fuss, just performance!
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Pick of the Week 24.11.08


Meat and Cheese by Mike and Jen aka Duotard video by The Selby from the selby on Vimeo.

Some people in the office have been complaining about a feeling of emptiness and general feeling of lethargy. You may think this is because of the arctic temperatures or only having what feels like 20 minutes of sunshine a day, but I know the real reason... its because I was away at sea last week (with no internets for 4 days!!!) and didn't put up the pick of the week and for that I'm sorry loyal followers.
This time round I promise you a selection of Londons most wonderful events, exhibitions and oddities.Come on gang chin up, kettle on away we go with this weeks pick of the week...


THE BEST THING EVER - chosen by Sam
You Me Bum Bum Train
Cordy House
Curtain Road
£15 (includes a free rum cocktail and the best experience of your life)
Ever since I found myself in an abandoned, boarded up pub in Shadwell in 2006 being ushered through a series scenarios that included winning a gameshow and crashing during my driving test and then being rescued by a gang of firemen I have loved You Me Bum Bum Train.
It was taking part in You Me Bum Bum Train that made me make performance and to support new generations of live artists to make work that was both fun and transformational.
And now it is your chance to experience this head down to Curtain Road from 6pm every Saturday til December 20th. Get there after 7.45 and it will be sold out.

Nights out - Dance Party 2000
Friday 28th
9.00pm - late
Bethnal Green Working Mens Club
£5
The UK's premiere husband and wife spandex interpretive dance troupe has decided to ressurect their summer blockbuster Dance Party 2000 once again! Including heavy metal/ragga/gothic/country/rockabilly demographic was sadly being being missrepresented in club culture so the ever spinning genre wheel will be back in action on Friday, November 28th at the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club!

Art Event - Chosen by Mark
Saturday29 November
7:00pm - 11:30pm
The Bluecoat
Mobile Academy presents: Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge
Head on up to Liverpool and hang out with an expert of your choice, you get a staggeringly good deal... 1/2 an hour with your chosen expert for a mere £1.
More info here

Event - Chosen by Frank
Topshop Swap Shop
Buy nothing day on Saturday 29th Nov -
there is a Topshop swap shop in the Top shop on regents street, courtesy of the space hijackers and many other events going on around London. Check here.

&

Hulkdash
Sat 29th Nov
The Korsan Bar
E2 8AL
Experimental music night!
Expect alot of very abrasive but apparently beautiful noise.



Exhibition - Chosen by Eleanor
A Quiet Reverie
A sound installation by Mark Peter Wright
As part of Audio Forensics @ IMT Gallery
Thurs 27th Nov-Sun 30th Nov | 12.00-18.00

A Quiet Reverie explores notions of hauntology, sonic cartography and
places of abandonment and absence. The installation contains field
recordings from four ruined abbeys in North East England, and combines
sounds from the architecture, space and landscape.
Mark Peter Wright's haunting sound installations are a must-hear in London this week.
Haunting then!

Website - chosen by Joao
http://www.supercream.org.uk
Saturday 29 NOVEMBER 2008
Afternoon party 3PM>>>6PM
THE BAR AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY/GSK CONTEMPORARY - 6 BURLINGTON GARDENS, LONDON.
Launching the 00 issue of thier on-line magazine supercream.org.uk
The boys would like to invite you and whoever wants to launch something else to come along.

Bring Photocopies, Flyers, Print-outs, Drawings, Cards - be it your Blog, your Art, Magazine;Fanzine, doityourself project, one off idea...something you believe in, or merely want to advertise and sell out.
They are calling for yourPropaganda!
Go along and share whatever you have to offer on paper - no public is garanteed apart from other promoters and a good enthusiastic chat.
Times are rough.



exhibition - Chosen by Lisa
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2008 at the Natural History Museum
31 Oct 2008 - 26 Apr 2009
"A stunning display of the natural world caught in a heartbeat, with categories ranging from the behaviour of animals to the relationship between humans and nature to under 10-year-olds' fledging photography."

Retreat - chosen by Holly
A yoga retreat
"I went on one last weekend and it was wonderful - from skipping in wet mushy grass bare foot to being summoned by a gong for each yoga session, not to mention being fed lots of tasty veggie food and the peace away from the city!"


Performance - Chosen by Richard
MARK MCGOWAN'S
THE GUY HILTON GALLERY
2pm outside Stockwell tube
This is a free event.
for more info 07828524056
chunkymark1974@yahoo.com

"it sounds dreadful although it might be alright!"

REENACTMENT OF THE MURDER OF JOHN CHARLES DE MENEZES
the event is to start at station and finish downstairs on the underground
platform.

To see a video trailer click on here...
McGowan says,
"I think it is awful that John Charles de Menezes was killed in such a
violent way, but the cover up and blatant lies by the police, who in fact have
been giving false testimonies and perjured themselves in recent weeks is
absolutely terrible."
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Monday, 17 November 2008

The potential for mass mischievery using the internet


450 women posing for Spencer Tunick in New York central station


Ever since (and probably slightly before), it’s creation, the internet has been seen as a potential solution to many a problem. The revival of democracy, creating a responsible media and the education of the world are just some of the small problems lumped on it, and I now intent to add to that list.

It seems to me that the potential to create mass pieces of art by getting, say 0.003% of facebook (about 4,000 people, based on my very dodgy maths), involved could be phenomenal. It also seems to me that, and I may just be out of touch and thus very wrong, apart from flash mobs and events like the circle line party networking sites really haven’t been used to there full potential in this way.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising anyone here, but I just really wanted to see what people feel about the subject. Do you think that there is things that could go wrong when organising in this way? Do you have any ideas about a piece that you’d like to create? Do you think that some of these sites are too heavily monitored?

One of the only reservations I think there is about organising things this way is the slightly unsure feeling about anything arranged over the internet. No matter how many “confirmed guests” there is, there is always a slight inkling that no one will turn up without some real human contact. Never the less I still think that the internet holds a massive potential for some artistic mischief. Ideas anyone?
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Saturday, 15 November 2008

Little Gems




(Image from 'In the way of things' Damien Griffiths)
Last week I took a group of A level photography students from Leyton into Shoreditch to sample some of the lesser known galleries that make up Photomonth this year. Most of the students hadn't visited exhibitions in spaces like these before & it is a bit of a gamble taking teenagers on a such a trip, rather than a safer option like the Tate for example, although the level of intimacy at these smaller galleries can create a higher level of educational value than that offered at bigger institutions. I think it's important to introduce students to alternative spaces that they wouldn't really know about or have had the confidence to visit before, let alone press that buzzer! I was slightly nervous as to how they would respond to our outing, there'd be a fair bit if walking (at student/snail pace) in the rain, and if they didn't like the work they'd find it all a bit pointless, & there's not much worse than dragging 22 miserable teenagers around London in the rain!

The first exhibition we visited was Tom Hunter 'Are you being served', a small show at the V&A childhood museum. My concern as to the success of the trip grew as the students didn't really engage with Hunter's images of east London shops and their keepers, despite its social-cultural content, the work was a little mundane in comparison to his usual contemplative photographs of people on the periphery of society in the east-end. But as we were in a museum, the students were able to go off & find other areas of interest or a corner to hide in! In this case I was both relieved that there were other things that the students were more interested in and could explore for themselves, but on the other hand I was disappointed that they didn't spend more time studying the photographic work. Some of the group had not found anything of interest (ce la vie), & my concern grew as I knew there'd be less on offer at the rest of the galleries, teenagers can be so difficult to please! Next stop was the Gallery Cafe on Old Ford road for 'A walk on the wild side' showing photos of drag queens and counter culture. We piled into the bustling little restaurant & peered over & around the diners to see the work, it was a little awkward at first, with people eating &; relaxing as there were so many of us, but the students soon loosened up & started to study & discuss the work, sitting amongst the cafe goers & in the sofa area. It was probably a combination of the slightly garish content of the photographs & the ambiance of the location that got them involved. This is more like it I thought! A bus up Hackney road & a walk up Columbia road to the Shipton gallery, which is literally someone's living room. I'd called in advance to warn the owner of our imminent arrival & he gave us a very warm welcome as we crammed into his 'lounge', saying he'd offer us a cuppa if he had a kettle big enough. Conversation flowed & questions were answered, the students seemed comfortable in such informal settings & our host Peter was happy to have us break up his afternoon of DIY. Next we slowly snaked our way through the streets of Shoreditch & made our way to Redchurch street. I was aware that we'd probably spent more time on foot than in actual galleries but the group were in high spirits & were enjoying taking in the environment, it's surprising how few of our students have ventured out this way despite living in east London for many years. Studio 1.1 was our next stop, 'In the way of things' by Damien Griffiths, a conceptual installation of mundane, some might say boring photos. My initial thoughts were "oh dear they're not gonna thank me for bringing them all the way in the cold & wet for this!" But upon arrival, we were greeted by 2 men from the gallery who were keen to explain the ideas behind the show, they gave a short talk which fueled our interest. The work considers the photo as image & as object, playing with elements of scale, juxtaposition & variations of mounting, 'demanding the viewer's attention, yet parrying it at the same time'. The students really got into it & made intelligent associations, conversation was energetic, the gallery alive with their responses to the work. This is what art should do & the curators were quite taken with my rabble of east London adolescents, saying they'd fill the artist in on our visit, as he'd appreciate the feedback. Again I think that the intimacy of the gallery & the enthusiasm of the people there helped make the experience. We finished up on Leonard street at AOP for 'Polaroid Retrospective', which was a bit more white space & full of seductive images. Then finally Pure Evil gallery, where we were warmly welcomed again & allowed to explore the basement while they were setting up for my friend Twinkle's private view.
On trips like this, my own personal experience is heightened by the company of my students. The artists are interested in their responses & gain from the experience too, there is more of an affiliation between viewer, artist & gallery, than on other trips i've done to bigger well known galleries & museums. These relationships form a significant part of the creative process, the ongoing conversation & debate is what art is all about...I think more should be made of such galleries & although I love the Tate, it is so packed everyday, while many other galleries stand empty.
Some of my A level students wont continue onto art school & i feel that it is important that they are made aware of the art scene that thrives in their neighbouring boroughs...Students, what do you think? What sort of trips do you prefer? Have you had any particularly good or bad educational experiences at a gallery or museum...?

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Friday, 14 November 2008

Musings from the 10:15 to Manchester

As no one has pointed out, there were a couple of false premises in my recent post 'Oligarchs Form An Orderly Queue'. Firstly it was inaccurate to state that Frieze sales 'could now be as much as £100 million'. The referenced article actually stated:

"the total amount of money that is expected to change hands during Frieze week is around £100 million … and only a small part of those transactions take place at the fair."

Secondly, my assertion that Russian oligarchs are 'recession-resilient' was quite naïve, given a story I've just read in The Guardian explaining that:

"Russia's wealthiest 25 individuals have collectively lost $230bn"

It seems that the oligarchs were given massive loans by the Russian government, which they used to buy shares in Russian companies. They subsequently borrowed even more money from US banks, using those shares as collateral. Now the Russian stock market has lost 71% of it's value, and the banks want their money back, causing a collapsing pyramid of debt.

Things are apparently so bad that Moscow's top restaurants have stopped accepting credit cards.

"Inevitably, the amount of Russian money 'loshing around' the west end of London will diminish" says Chris Weafer, an analyst with the Moscow-based brokerage UralSib.

So I just wanted to apologise for my fallacious assumptions.

Speaking of fallacious, or a word to that effect, I've just googled the word 'loshing' on my phone and found a definition that's far too filthy to publish on the esteemed Artsadmin Artsblog. Just as I am pondering how the word made it past the The Guardian sub-editors, the lady opposite catches my attention by blurting the following phrase into her mobile:

"It was so stiff, Martin!"

There's a sentence you don't hear very often. She continues:

"He was wearing a dicky-bow, it was a load of bullshit really, the only time I loosened up was when Alan's dad threw up over the cheese-board.'

I begin to reflect on the positive and negative effects of mobile phones on trains. One the one hand you have the annoying man to my right who is texting furiously yet has not disabled the keypad volume, only stopping intermittently to call members of his family to explain that he is going to have to give a strong talking to his nephew, who was so rude to his grandma that she locked herself in the bathroom crying.

"I've got to tell him to turn it down a couple of notches" he says, in each conversation.

On the other hand, the same cellular technology allows one to eavesdrop with an unprecedented level of convenience; as I sit here tapping away (keypad volume turned off, of course) everyone else assumes I'm merely texting.

After all, people on trains not using their phones can be just as annoying.

Thus I advocate covert liveblogging about fellow train passengers as an effective way of dissipating your anger. Try it in the comments section below.


NB. Richard reserves the right to alter his attitude regarding train eavesdropping, should he discover that other passengers have been posting pictures on the internet of him picking his nose.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Sculpting a world



My tutor had been recommending the Richard Serra exhibition at the private Gasgosian Gallery for some time, so I was expecting something pretty awe-inspiring. And I wasn't dissapointed; Serra's immense free standing steel sculptures could only be taken inside the gallery by knocking the wall down first, and standing next to them you can't help shake off the small, nagging feeling that they look fit to fall right over and crush you.

Walking inside these sculptures takes you into a different kind of world, pictured right, causes the viewer to inadvertently tilt to one side to mould their body with the space as they walk through, and it filled me with more than a little sense of claustrophobia as I followed its winding path enclosed by towering walls.

It's free to take a look, so the next time you're near Britannia Street before December 20th, pop in and get lost in a giant hunk of steel.
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Experimentica '08

I was lucky enough to go to the annual performance arts festival based in Cardiff this year and here are five of my favourites:


Richard Bowers and Gwilly Edmondez – “Pandæmonium”
You can shut your eyes but you can’t shut your ears. Sonic art takes advantage of this; through sound, an atmosphere is created, it is translated in to a feeling within you, and in this case, it was the same feeling I got when looking at Francis Bacon’s ‘Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X’.
The use of a chair, the body positions and facial expressions silently projected on the wall conjured up feelings of panic and wanting to scream, but being unable to react physically.
The sound quality did this justice. Texture was created by recording sounds made by the performer, then digitally layering it, live. The sounds increased in intensity and layers as the performer became more frantic and physical; the addition of paper ripping and being crumpled, a typewriter, a pencil scratching and his blowing through a straw onto a microphone.
On the video projection, he was making violent gestures and clearly using his voice, but we could not hear it, only fragments of it were weaved into the background sound. Live, he became increasingly violent, as did the sound, then with a burst of frantic energy, he began jolting and created a new wave of hard, fast noise. Then he lay still and there was absolute silence.
I suddenly felt exposed. It all went dark and there was only silence, with some awkward shuffling. He was still lying on the floor.
I’m familiar with music effecting your emotions, where the subconscious attaches itself to a rhythm, but this wasn’t music, only a precisely layered collection of recorded sound played back. Wait – was it music?

Photo © Cathy Boyce 2008.

Tom Marshman - “Hello Sailor (Goodbye Heart)”
He saturated himself with all things sailor; your standard sailor’s outfit and handing the audience rum, but what shocked me was that he got an actual tattoo of a ship on his arm. This, unlike the sailor hat, is permanent. It raises the question:
At what point does commitment to your art become unreasonable? A performance artist relies on the aesthetics and functionality of their body. An act during one performance which permanently affects their body may hinder their next performance physically or limit their conviction visually.

Random People – “Versions 1-5” – Various artists
A very good example of collaboration; 4 different artists, each tackling a common piece of text, expressing it individually at the beginning of the piece, then bringing it together at the end as a group performance.
Because I had participated in the ArtsAdmin Summer School ’08, I was able to detect little performance techniques here and there (audience interaction, dealing with mistakes etc). At the same time, I was absorbed in the piece and constantly anticipated their next actions.
I wondered after the performance, whether being conscious of the process takes away from your experience of an art piece, like watching a horror film but constantly noticing that the monster puppet’s mouth can never synchronise with the sounds it is making, as it only has three basic moves which can never cover our lexical field. I then realised that unlike a horror flick, this performance never tried to dictate how I should feel or imposed any restrictions on what I should take away from it, so I was free to experience the enjoyment of a good show as well as have the satisfaction from my background knowledge.

Andrea Williams – “Car”
A five minute audio visual instillation of a view of the sky from outside the car and then a view across a road with cars driving past. These visual scenes are eerily familiar, I immediately recall them and realise how many precious minutes I have spent waiting to cross a road or falling asleep in a car. A major factor of this installation was its location; in the basement of a very small art gallery, G39. The space was dark and basic, with brick walls and room for only two benches to sit on. You enter through a small trap door in the floor, down steep makeshift stairs. There is nothing to distract you and no space to do quick floor exercises or a random dance if you’re the only visitor, so you are completely engulfed by whatever happens to be projected on the wall.

Adele Vye
She used the G39 ground floor space all night long and could be seen from outside putting on various outfits from her huge transportable cupboard and transforming into various characters. I saw many bewildered passers-by try to make sense of it, which was amusing, (also, it was Saturday night) but I eventually got too cold and went home.

http://www.experimentica08.blogspot.com/
www.richardbowers.co.uk/
http://tommarshman.blogspot.com/2008/06/hello-sailor-goodbye-heart.html http://www.artcardiff.com/website.cgi?place=artists&id=117
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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Pick of the Week 10.11.08

It's Monday, it's pissing with rain, it;s dark by 3.30pm, it's my 5th cup of coffee, it's 3 meetings down and it's the pick of the week YAY......



Book - Chosen by Sam
Launched this month is Lucy Popescu's wonderful book The Good Tourist:An Ethical Travellers Guide,I especially like the suggested reading section for before, during and after your holiday. Available on line or if you are in the westside go to the travel bookshop and chat about ideas and ethics of travelling with the wonderful staff who are always up for a little debate.
&

Check out my new obsession - the cockettes - watch the film - take on fashion tips - keep off the drugs. Gore Vidal said of the cockettes New York debut "Having no talent is not enough." Whatevs Gore Vidal!

Radio - Chosen by Giles
A series of lectures on radio 3 'Free Thinking' it aired last weekend but is still available on Iplayer. Titles such as Being Green Can Be Dangerous sounds controversial and juicy. Get you teeth (ears) into some meaty radio!


Film - Chosen by Joao
Der Baader Meinhof Komplex,
"The course of history as represented in the concept of catastrophe has no more claim on the thinking man’s attention than the kaleidoscope in the hands of a child. With each new twist, everything collapses into a new order. The image is thoroughly well-grounded [hat sein gutes, gründliches Recht]. The concepts of the rulers have always been the mirrors by which the image of an ‘order’ was established. – The kaleidoscope must be smashed." (from Walter Benjamin, ‘Central Park’, 1938)

For the ones interested in appropriation of the writings of Walter Benjamin (philosopher of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory) by the Red Army Faction in order to ground their violent acts, I would recommend the article "Entsetzen: Walter Benjamin and the Red Army Faction" by Irving Wohlfarth, now being published in parts in "Radical Philosophy", a great journal of feminist and socialist philosophy published in the UK.


Photography - Chosen by Eleanor
Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life 1990-2005
National Portrait Gallery
"A beautiful and moving photographic exhibition of Leibovitz's personal and professional work, beautifully curated to portray a surprisingly intimate portrait of a photographer's life through her own pictures"

Exhibition - Chosen by Jen
Svetlana
Pil and Galia Kollectiv
S1 Art Space
SHEFFIELD
Pil and Galia Kollectiv simulate the making of an opera by Waw Pierogi, which never made it to the stage. The mock documentary footage captures the theatricality of military might, the rhetorical force of sound and the political power of art within former Soviet ideology.

Exhibition - Chosen by Holly
AOP gallery on Leonard street Shoreditch - 'Polaroid retrospective'
" I went yesterday and it was beautiful!"
While you're down there pop into 'Never Shall Be Slaves?' at Pure Evil Gallery 108 Leonard street! an exhibition based around themes of Britishness.


Theatre - Chosen by Carly
A Midsummer's Night Dream, from Footsbarn, in a tent in Victoria Park, with puppets and a European cast!
&

Spectacular from Forced Entertainment. How can we resist the call of the F.E.? at the riverside
ED note While you have the riverside in mind head down to the mother of all Peachy Coochy's on Saturday at 2.30pm


Film - Chosen by Lisa
Burn fer Reading
Screening everywhere!
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Pick of the Week 3.11.08 (honest)

Bringing you the hottest picks from our intrepid bloggers bang on time and not at all a day late because you had Monday off, its this weeks Pick Of The Week....


Exhibition - Chosen by Holly - 'Borderspaces'
Schwartz Gallery
92 White Post Lane
Hackney Wick
Private view, Thursday 6th November 6pm - 9
This is the first photography exhibition to be held at the Schwartz Gallery and form part of photomonth. Other off site work is showing around Londonn including Danilo Murru's The London Wall which documents the 11.5 mile blue wall that surrounds the 2012 Olympic site, exciting stuff!

Dance - Chosen by Carly - DV8 - To Be Straight With You
National Theatre
including a platform discussion on the subject of religious and cultural tolerance / intolerance of homosexuality in society with DV8 director Lloyd Newson on the 5th Nov at 18.00 at the National Theatre.


Exhibition - Chosen by Lisa
Alan Aldridge: The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes
Design Museum
10 October – 25 January 2009
£8.50 adults, £6.50 concessions, £5 students, free for under 12s, free for Design Museum Members.
A colourful and psychedelic exhibition of Aldridge's beautiful illustrative work.


Art and Design - Chosen by Oyinda
Wouldn't it be Nice... Wishful Thinking in Art and Design
Somerset House
17 September-7 December 2008
Expect wit, subversion and a constantly-changing programme of events and performance from this major exhibition of contemporary art and design.
This week includes Social Pasta on Friday 7 November in The Studio where Graphic designer Alex Rich and friends will prepare and serve food while you watch a movie, with food chosen to reflect the story of the film. (Limited capacity) FREE FOOD!


Film - Chosen by Sam
Hunger
Steve Mcqueen
An odyssey, in which the smallest gestures become epic and when the body is the last resource for protest. As with everything Steve McQueen touches this is gold!
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Saturday, 1 November 2008

Drawbacks of Dialect: Ian McMillan's Talking Myself Home - UK Tour


Broad, bubbly, Bard of Barnsley, Ian McMillan is currently on a tour around the UK, performing poems live from his new book, 'Talking Myself Home'. I went to see him in Sheffield, a stone's throw from Barnsley so close enough in proximity to attract that all too salient solidarity that emerges when you fill one room with a hundred Northerners.

McMillan's memoirs in poetic form, are detailed and very personal accounts of his life in Barnsley and, more specifically, Darfield. He offers intimate insights into relationships with his teachers, parents, colleagues and friends. As we read we detect a faithfulness to the subtleties of regional dialect, 'An A sez 'Are thy a Gibson?' E sez 'R.' A sez 'Tha looks like thi dad.' He writes of the difficulty of a graduate working on a building site, where he would ritually find his Guardian alight; 'We'll call thi degree cos tha's got a degree'. He takes us to the landscapes of Stanage Edge, to a cloud that looks like his Dad's old hat and he recounts the folk tale of The Owl in the Tower, “A bird of destruction, a ghooast devil fowl...” and he thanks his rhyming Aunt Bella and the Wartime Postal System for instilling in him a love of words.

“We are dwellers, we are namers, we are lovers, we make homes and search for our histories”, so said Seamus Heaney reflecting upon the sense of place that pervades so much of his work. In writing, McMillan himself evokes each of these processes in turn, yet read aloud and these fundamental qualities are sadly lost, jettisoned by the hackneyed discourse of England's great divide.

Despite hilarity between the poems and his charisma as a public speaker, I believe the intimacy, poignancy and nuances of his work are suppressed by the rhetoric of the region of which he writes. I suggest that his writing and his public performances be kept separate by an imaginary line of their own, for his broad baritones undermine McMillan's true identity, not as a Northerner but as a poet with a whole life story to tell.

For more info on his book and tour click here.




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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Olympic Mascot Hurdles

The Olympic Mascot design application process has got more obstacles than the 100m hurdles..



The Olympic Mascot design application process has got more obstacles than the 100m hurdles, after the athlete in front of you has spectacularly tripped over the first hurdle and caused a massive pile up of tangled flesh and blood blocking your path to the finish line and you are in a wheelchair... with no wheels.

Once you've gone through a lengthy and humiliating registration process, you are faced with the following:

London 2012 mascots - Design, launch and 360 marketing and communications plan.

Full details for this opportunity are shown below.

Use the options below to respond to or track this opportunity. Once a contract has been awarded, select View Results to view shortlisted suppliers and feedback from the buyer.

Opportunity Status: Open
My Response Status: -
Tracked/ Matched: -
Opportunity Details
Opportunity Title London 2012 mascots - Design, launch and 360 marketing and communications plan.
Awarding Organisation The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd
Description Background

The introduction of a mascot is one of the highlights in the journey to the Games. It is an important opportunity to build the brand of London 2012 and in turn add increasing value to the Olympic and Paralympic Committees.

Past mascots have shown great ingenuity, imagination and artistry. Early mascots were based on animals unique to the host country. More recent examples have been a variety based on humans, animals and creatures, both mystical and invented. Creativity and personality are always the hallmark of an Olympic and Paralympic Mascot.

The mascot(s) is a valuable ambassador to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and a plays a crucial role in setting the tone and style for the London 2012 Games in a multi dimensional way.

In summary:
– Mascots are a one of the key deliverables of an OCOG
– They play an important role in raising revenue via licensing.
– They provide a warm welcome to athletes and visitors from around the world and spark excitement and laughter
– Having your photo taken with a mascot is a must have Games souvenir!

London 2012’s vision is to use the power of the Games to inspire change.

London 2012’s mascot needs to be more than just a cuddly toy. It needs to capture the imagination of young people, it must be loved and help to create a sense of excitement and pride about the London 2012 brand.

Our aim is to develop mascots that help build London 2012 into a much loved brand. The desirability of the mascots will need to not only communicate and demonstrate the Olympic and Paralympic values, but must lead to the purchase of products. It is therefore essential that the mascot works across a multitude of licensing applications and be commercially viable.

To be successful the mascot (s) will need to demonstrate wit and humour that reflects London and the UK. They need to be accessible and appropriate in a tone of voice that is understood by children and young people, as-well as reflecting the culture and people of the host city/country.


Objective

• To develop a mascot (s) for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
• To develop and deliver a 360 marketing and communication plan to support the launch of the mascots and rollout plan for; 2 years to go, count down to the games, at ceremonies and competition venues
• To provide full guidelines for the on going management and licensing of the mascot (s)

In addition to responding to these questions on CompeteFor, applicants should prepare the following in a maximum of 3 pages to supply on Friday 28th November in the event of being shortlisted:
• Evidence to your responses to the customised questions
• Two case studies of your organisations favourite characters or mascots summarising:
o their commercial success.
o how your characters live in a 2d and 3d world
o How you introduced them to the world
• Provide short biogs of the team who would create the London2012 mascots
• Explain in no more than 100 words why you would like to create the London 2012 mascots.
London 2012 Reference Number 1041Mar
Nature of Opportunity Services
Opportunity Type London 2012 Supply Chain (Private Sector)
Delivery Point London
Response Deadline 21/11/2008 12:00
Estimated Tender Close Date 03/02/2009
Estimated Contract Award Date 31/03/2009
Estimated Contract Start Date 01/04/2009
Estimated Contract Value (GBP) Not disclosed
Additional Information for Supplier CompeteFor is an e-brokerage tool. The advertisement of LOCOG opportunities does not constitute the start of a tendering process, but an expression of interest. LOCOG regrets being unable to provide feedback at the short listing stage of CompeteFor.

Suppliers will be required to sign up to LOCOG Terms & Conditions which can be found at www.london2012.com/business.
Website n/a
Business Categories
  1. Film distributors
  2. Toys and games - wholesale
  3. Dressmakers
  4. Design consultants
  5. Comics and magazine suppliers
  6. Advertising services
  7. Marketing boards
  8. Toy shops
  9. Toy libraries
  10. Entertainers
  11. Designers - graphic
  12. Writers - technical and commercial
  13. Designers - jewellery
  14. Arts centres
  15. Toys, games and sporting goods - mnfrs
  16. Computer games
  17. Graphic arts materials
  18. Theatrical agencies
  19. Museums
  20. Theatrical costumes, equipment and supplies
  21. Designers - garments
  22. Model makers
  23. Literary agents
  24. Artists and illustrators
  25. Graphologists
  26. Theatre companies
  27. Arts
  28. Design engineers
  29. Marketing consultants
  30. Advertising - agencies
  31. Entertainment agencies
  32. Film studios and production services

Opportunity Response

London 2012 mascots - Design, launch and 360 marketing and communications plan.

  • Step 1 - Essential Questions
  • Step 2 - Other Questions
  • Step 3 - Submit

Complete all of the following steps to respond to this opportunity. You can save your response and return to view, edit, or submit it any time before the deadline.

Opportunity Details
Opportunity Name London 2012 mascots - Design, launch and 360 marketing and communications plan.
Response Deadline 21/11/2008 12:00

The buyer has set the following questions as essential criteria for a successful bidder.

Question
Will your company be able to obtain the amount required by the applicable law of Employer?s Liability cover at the time of entering into the contract?
Does your organisation have experience of creating 2D/3D characters or mascots that appeal to young people?
Have characters or mascots created by your organisation been used commercially in any of the following areas film, TV, 3D animation, publishing, licensed products?
Have characters or mascots developed by your organisation been developed into ?plush? products?
Does your organisation have experience of working with a large sports events?
Have characters or mascots created by your organisation been used internationally?
Does your organisation have experience of developing a full 360 marketing and communications plan to support your characters?
Does your organisation have the expertise in developing graphic standard manuals?
Are you able to demonstrate how you have worked with sustainable materials?
Has your organisation engaged in major public participation activities?
Have you/your organisation got access to exciting and new talent?
Have you/your organisation got experience of working with an existing brand and bringing the brand to life through a character?
Is your company willing to accept LOCOG Terms and Conditions?
Can your company provide evidence in respect of all the above questions? Evidence will be required on shortlist and should be prepared for the request on 28th November 2008.

The buyer has asked for the following additional information.

Questions
How many employees are there in your organisation?
What percentage of the work carried out for this opportunity will be by contractors?
How many years has your business been trading?
How many references can you provide relating to this opportunity?
Does your company have a Human Resources Policy or Policies in place that demonstrates it meets all necessary statutory requirements?
Does your company have a system, either formal or informal, for checking and recording the quality of work delivered? If yes are you able to provide evidence?
If you have 5 or more employees, do you have a Health & Safety Policy? (If you have less than 5 employees, please answer ?yes?).
Do you have a Company Policy or Policies relating to sustainable development or Corporate Social Responsibility (e.g environment, health & safety, equal opportunities, etc), and do the Policies extend to all the Products and services supplied?
Do you have effective arrangements to ensure equality of opportunity within your organisation?


My mascot idea is for a massive robotic filing cabinet with a machete.

The Beijing Olympics had five mascots though, so if anyone has any other ideas, let me know in the comments below - we've got until 21 November to register our concepts.
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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Ekow Eshun and the gas chamber for Live Art

Artistic Director of the ICA to close its Live & Media Arts department
Ekow Eshun, the artistic director of the ICA, in one of the most ridiculous decisions and making use of the most unbelievable arguments of recent times, has just announced the planned closure of the instutition's Live & Media Arts department justifying it with the lack of "depth and cultural urgency" of those art forms.

Now if we consider the birth of Live Art as a strongly political art form concerned with discussing issues so broad as identity, politics, freedom, the place of art, etc., in this so called "post-everything" world; if we take a look at important events that took place also at the ICA and that are still today (so many years after) the epitome of the experience of the possibility of freedom, we cannot but be sad and regret the mess that goes in this person's mind to suddenly take such a sad decision.

But then again art institutions are above all institutions of power and thus instutitions of control: through the exercise of the power attributed to them, they participate in a kind of natural selection or, in this case, an operation aimed at some sort of "ethnic cleansing" as it were - at the destruction of an art form that - you are right - could have the power, HAS the power, to question and bring change.

In this times where people are willing to sacrifice their freedoms in the same of (a fake) security, in this Orwellian times where "I-don't-mind-being-watched-24/7-if-that-will-save-my-life", in this present in which institutions and the State Apparatus are regaining more and more control over the populations, this is just another reactionary decision of another of those instutitions. Thank "god" (if he'd exist) that art practices can still live outside the realm of established art institutions.

Just to finish, I can't help to remember a quote from that very interesting film "V. for Vendetta":
"More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives."
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