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Friday, 27 February 2009

Pick of the week 27.02.2009

Welcome once again to the Pick of the week, check out our bloggers (well mostly Oyindas) top choices for this weekend and the upcoming week. We hope you'll like it! Let us know what you have seen anything pick of the week worthy.

Documentary - Chosen by Oyinda
In Prison My Whole Life
(2007, USA, Dir: Marc Evans)
Sat 28 Feb 2009 (19:30 - 21:45)
The Rich Mix, 35 - 47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther and radical journalist who was arrested for the murder of a police officer. He has always claimed his innocence but he was sentenced to death and has been awaiting execution ever since. Over the years, he has received international support, from Amnesty and Nelson Mandela among others. In this documentary several commentators, including Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker and Mos Def, help provide a context for Mumia’s story.
Followed by a Q&A with filmmaker William Francome, Kim Manning-Cooper from Amnesty International UK, producers Colin Firth and Livia Giuggioli

Part of 6 Billion Ways, a day of events mixing debate, politics, film and party Every day seems to bring a new crisis: financial markets in turmoil, energy price rises, food riots, violent conflicts and environmental disasters. And whatever the disaster, poor and marginalised people are always affected the most.
It doesn't have to be this way. Every person on the planet can make change happen. 6 Billion Ways is a day where the arts meet ideas, discussion and action to explore the causes and find solutions to these interlinked global crises. Including discussions on: the financial crisis and economic alternatives, conflict and liberation in Palestine and Iraq, climate catastrophe and building a green new deal, the future of feminism, the impact of Obama on race politics, when resistance is successful and how to change consumer culture. With international speakers, films, music, and a chance to learn and practise new skills, 6 Billion Ways is your chance to get inspired and join local and global networks building a better world.

Exhibition - Chosen by Holly
Sean Snyder 'Index' @ Institute of Contemporary Art
12 Feb - 19 Apr 2009
Sean Snyder, Index is the first solo exhibition in a British institution by this leading American artist. Snyder is one of the most important proponents of the research-based practice that has emerged in the last decade, and is fascinated by the ongoing life of documentary information and images, from the Cold War to the Iraq War.

Exhibition - Chosen by Oyinda
Santu Mofokeng @ Rivington Place
A major exhibition by South African photographer Santu Mofokeng. Through photographs of landscapes associated with events in the Free State, Namibia, Auschwitz and Hanoi, Mofokeng positions himself and South Africa within a global context of trauma and memory. This exhibition will be a major retrospective featuring photographs from virtually all of his major bodies of work.
Gallery opening times:
Tue, Wed, Fri: 11.00 - 18.00
Thu: 11.00 - 21.00
Sat: 12.00 - 18.00
Wed 14 Jan 2009- Sat 28 Feb 2009
Rivington Place, Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA

Exhibition - Chosen by Oyinda
Calling Africa
Mon 09 to Sat 21 Mar 2009 (10:30 - 17:30)
Diverse Gallery, 62 Atlantic Road, Brixton, London SW9 8PY
Calling Africa celebrates the work of artist Jerry Blankson. The exhibition features recent paintings and drawings that capture the rich drumming and dance traditions of the Ga people of Ghana, West Africa. Growing up in Jamestown, a district in Accra, Blankson immersed himself in the festivals and celebrations that are a hallmark of the region. This exhibition shows how the influences of his childhood inspire his work today. As well as the stunning use of colour in his canvas paintings, Blankson explores the ancient Asante tradition of Adinkra symbols to express the spiritual and sacred meanings behind traditional Ghanaian ceremonies.

Theatre - Chosen by Oyinda
The 14th Tale - Arcola Theater
18th March - 20th March 2009
Starting time: 8.15PM
£9 / £7 conc
“I’m from a long line of trouble makers, of ash skinned Africans, born with clenched fists and a natural thirst for battle, only quenched by breast milk. They’d suckle as if the white silk sliding between gums were liquid peace treaties written from mums. Their small thumbs would dimple the soft mounds of brown flesh, goose-pimple chests till the ceasefire of sleep would creep into eyes, they’d keep till the moon sets…”
Poet, performer, graphic artist and friend of the Festival (he performed with Benin City last year) Inua Ellams has been hard at work developing his one-man show The 14th Tale, to be premiered March 18-20 at the wonderful Arcola Theatre in Hackney.
Originally a BAC Scratch, The 14th Tale is being produced by Fuel Theatre, directed by Thierry Lawson and is one of three very special London Word Festival Commissions, supported by Arts Council England. We're really excited about this show... it's a free-flowing, mellifluous narrative that tells of the exploits of a natural born mischief-maker who grows from the clay streets of Nigeria to the roof-tops of Dublin and London. As with everything Inua does, expect deft and beautiful poetry, poignant imagery and challenging ideas.
Produced by Fuel. A BAC Scratch commission.

Exhibition - Chosen by Oyinda
Mircea Cantor Exhibition - Camden Arts Centre
20 February - 19 April 2009
Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG
Romanian artist Mircea Cantor exhibits a new installation of golden cages inhabited by two peacocks. He elaborates on the theme of uncertainty, migration, and thevisible and invisible limits that surround us.
In 'Chaplet' he uses his thumbprint to create a poignant rosary of barbed wire on the walls of the gallery.
Join an exhibition tour with Curator Suzanne Cotter on Wednesday 25 March at 7.00pm.

Installation - Chosen by Allison
19 February – 5 April 2009

Private view Wednesday 18 February 18.30 – 20.30
Wednesday – Sunday 12.00 – 18.00. Admission free.

Monika Grzymala’s installations function somewhere between an
architectural intervention and immense line drawings.

Screening - Chosen by Oyinda
Screenings 'Smashing Time' & 'Fahrenheit 451'
Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG
Smashing Time
(dir. Desmond Davis, 1967)
Saturday 14 March, 3.00-4.30pm
Davis' rollercoaster tale of two young women struggling to make it in swinging London. Selected by the artists curating the Liz Arnold exhibition.
Fahrenheit 451
(dir. Francois Truffaut, 1966)
Wednesday 18 March, 7.00-8.30pm
This classic, dystopian, sci-fi drama is about a society in which books are banned. Selected by exhibiting artist Mircea Cantor.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Art and Design - or, How to Impose Your Opinions Upon Others

I never thought myself a particularly prudish person… in face, I think myself quite open minded when it comes to the human body and animal nature… however, a suggestive depiction of nudity in a gallery can quite upset me. Going to see Helmut Newton’s work in Berlin a few weeks ago was something of an assault on my sensibilities;

just the twenty-foot high images in the main hall of women standing defiantly in nothing but their shoes made me feel uneasy, let alone the more suggestive poses displayed deeper within the museum.

Ghada Amer’s thread-drawings of naked women in erotic poses was what sparked my priggishness. Not knowing the context of her work at the time, I found myself suddenly accosted with multiple pornographic images after having been in a totally innocent state of mind beforehand. The effect was (as intended) upsetting and vaguely sickening and has quite spoilt nudes and sex within art for me since.
Kudos for the effectiveness of your work, Amer!

But it’s not only naked people that I really don’t want to see. There are messages everywhere that I never wanted to see. In October I wrote about the then new Atheist Bus Campaign which assured everyone that "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life", a sentiment that I agreed with but wasn’t sure that it was right to insist to people who believe otherwise. Last week I saw an almost identical bus poster which said "There is definitely a God. So join the Christian party and enjoy your life".
I laughed out loud. Getting me some strange looks from my fellow bus passengers.
But much as I appreciated the wit of the visual comeback, I didn’t want to be told that, either. I cry for the trees that die making millions of religious leaflets that are handed out on the street by a person saying “God bless you” to everyone who passes by… it’s not even that I don’t think that people should impose their religion on others, it’s mainly because those leaflets are ridiculously ineffective.
“You don’t believe in hell. But you should and you should believe in God, because otherwise YOU’LL GO TO HELL! Ahhh, you’re scared now, aren’t you!!” is the gist that I get from these leaflets.
Maybe I’ve just been handed the wrong ones.

But the fact of the matter is, as an art and design student, this is exactly what I intend to one day do to other people… so in the hope that karma exists, I say to these people, THAT’S RIGHT! PHOTOGRAPH YOUR NUDES AND PROMOTE YOUR BELIEFS (disclaimer: so long as it doesn’t promote hatred and violence) BECAUSE ONE DAY I WILL BE MAKING THE SAME ATTEMPT TO MAKE YOU THINK WHAT I WANT YOU TO THINK!
My graphic design teacher shocked me once in a conversation about Banksy. When one of my classmates pointed out that if Banksy’s identity was discovered, he’d be in major legal trouble. “Good!” my teacher remarked, “You shouldn’t impose art on people.”
Surely he was being ironic? A man who specialises in designing adverts and promotional material intended to infiltrate the public’s daily visual information? Perhaps he was referring to the use of other people’s property as a canvas, rather than the use of public space to display the work, but that was the point at which I decided that I was never going to condemn any art (other than bigoted propaganda… call me fascist but I’m not gonna put up with that…) even if it makes me feel vaguely like I want to throw up. It would just be far too hypocritical...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Pick of the week 20.02.2009

Right now I'm finishing off the pick of this week whilst sitting in my Greek friend's house in Central London. I am stuffed with delicious homemade food from Samos and Greek music is playing in the background - oh life is sweet and here's our bloggers picks to make your weekends a little sweeter...

Artist talk and panel discussion - Chosen by Joanne
Digiville: Danielle Wilde
3rd March, 7pm
Danielle Wilde will present her current research outcomes: a range of interactive concept garments and body extensions that encourage people to explore and move in playful ways. The different interfaces allow the wearer to hear the shape or dynamic of their movements, to dance sound, to draw pictures by moving their hips, to interact with each other with rays of light extending out from their bodies, to navigate through “invisible” vibro-tactile displays, as well as to “try on” another’s deformity or physical limitation, or to change the shape of a garment dynamically through movement.

Event - Chosen by Lisa
Song is King - Launch Night
23 February, From 8pm - 11pm
A new (mostly) acoustic Songwriter's night with open mike slots based at the legendary Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel, East London. This is the first night of a long line which will take place on the last Monday of every month, and entry is free!

Exhibition - Chosen by Carly
Mark Wallinger Curates: The Russian Linesman
Hayward Gallery, 18 February till 4 May
My pick of the week is the new collection at the Hayward Gallery, 'The Russian Linesman' curated by Mark Wallinger. Highlights include a klein bottle, a mirrored Tardis and and other such liminal curiosties!

Event - Chosen by Deborah
TAKEOVER - Royal Festival Hall
Friday 27 February 2009, 8pm, Tickets £6
Southbank Centre's multi-talented and eclectic Emerging Artists in Residence (EAR) are a group of London's hottest new artists covering the breadth of contemporary music, from folk and world to hip-hop and jazz. They are singer-songwriters, rappers, multi-instrumentalists and beatboxers, as well as spoken word artists and MCs. They bring their residency to an almighty climax as they take over the Royal Festival Hall stage for one unforgettable night. Renowned saxophonist and composer Jason Yarde is artistic mentor for the show.

Exhibition - Chosen by João
Le Corbusier at the Barbican Gallery
Until Sun May 24
Barbican Centre, Silk St, London, EC2Y 8DS
'The Art of Architecture' is the first major survey of the influential French polymath's interiors, drawings, furniture, paintings and sculpture, in addition to his utopian architectural models and designs.
Times: Main gallery Mon, Fri, Sat, Sun 11am-8pm, Tue and Wed until 6pm, Thur until 10pm; The Curve Daily 11am-8pm
Price: £8, concs £6

Night out - Chosen by Felix
Feb 21st | £10 all night (5PM - 4AM)
with DJ Franco Ze Carioca + LIVE: Ritmos da Cidade
Although the mighty Samba Parade is the most widely known feature of RIO CARNIVAL, it is the hundreds of local 'BALLS' that are the main attraction for many carioca (natives of Rio) insiders. These include plenty of impromptu parties that come and go but one that has stood the test of time - the BAL MASQUÉ. To make the most of the party, just wear a beautiful, mysterious, seductive and glitzy MASK. RITMOS DE CIDADE will be pounding out the grooves in serious carnival style with the most funked up DANCERS allowed and DJ FRANCO ZÉ CARIOCA will be spinning the latest and greatest carnival tunes. (FREE Masks will be available at Guanabara, don’t forget to grab yours!) Oh, and fancy dresses are also welcome, after all is a BAL MASQUÉ!!
Guanabara,Parker St, corner of Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PW
Price: £10

Book - Chosen by Giles
Palestinian Art 1850-2005
by Kamal Boullata
This pioneering book offers an insider's analysis of the development of Palestinian art from the 19th century to the present day. Kamal Boullata's diverse selection of pre-1948 paintings through contemporary media works highlights the political concerns of Palestinian artists and their unique contributions to modern Arab culture. Work by artists who continued to live in their homeland is examined alongside that of artists of the Palestinian diaspora, including art world luminary Mona Hatoum. Particular attention is paid to the role of women artists, revealing how strategies of resistance have been employed against the dominant artistic expression.

Theatre - Choosen by Marion
The Stone - Royal Court Theatre
Written by Marius von Mayenburg
Translated by Maja Zade
5 - 28 February

International Playwrights: A Genesis Project
1935: A young couple buys the house from a Jewish family, and so the myth begins
1953: The couple's daughter discovers the stone
1978: The family returns to claim what's rightfully theirs
1993: The house is back in their possession
As a house passes from owner to owner, and from generation to generation, the secrets buried in the garden and seeping from the walls reveal themselves.
Marius von Mayenburg's (The Ugly One, Fireface) new play examines the reverberations created by 60 years of German history.
60 years since the foundation of the Federal Republic and 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Royal Court presents Off The Wall, a season of new plays about Germany. This includes Over There by Mark Ravenhill (Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat, Pool (No Water), Shopping and F***ing) and a series of readings of new plays by German writers.

Theatre - Chosen By Marion
The Royal Court Theatre presents
Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza
Written by Caryl Churchill
6 - 21 February
Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill is a ten minute history of Israel, ending with the bombing of Gaza. Thirteen performances will take place on the main stage of the Royal Court Theatre after Marius von Mayenburg's play, The Stone. There will be no admission charge and a collection will be made for Medical Aid For Palestinians (MAP): Emergency Appeal for the People of Gaza, after the show.

Angry? Sad? Confused? Come and spend ten minutes with us.

Tickets Free - A collection will be made for Medical Aid For Palestinians (MAP): Emergency Appeal for the People of Gaza.

Special - Chosen by Emma
Science Museum Lates
25 February 2009
18.45 – 22.00
Free entry
Pre-booking not required

Explore the science of attraction and the depths of obsession at this month's Science Museum Lates. From the infatuation of Van Gogh to the electrostatics of Van de Graaff, see sparks fly. Enjoy comedy shows, our IMAX 3D Cinema, a silent disco and much more besides at this adults-only night.
Become obsessed with our famous interactive gallery Launchpad and enjoy a shameless playtime – blowing bubbles, spinning like a skater and capturing multicoloured shadows – without having to let the kids go first!
If you can’t make February’s event, remember Science Museum Lates is held every month on a Wednesday night, with each event having a different theme. So come back soon to find out more details.


Monday, 16 February 2009

Foundation Art and Design Trip to Berlin and Prague: Teacher Perspective

Now that me and the 17 foundation art and design students that i took to Berlin and Prague are all safely back in Blighty, I can breathe and say "Wow, that actually went quite well!"

Now that we've been back a couple of weeks, I've had time to digest our week away and pat myself on the back for organizing it all! Being my first time taking students abroad, I was quite anxious as to how it would go and convinced that I'd forget something crucial or lose a student... Of course there were some blips along the way but generally it went very smoothly and I was impressed both with the students and with myself!

It's such a privalidge for students and staff to be able to get out of the classroom for a week and have this experience,and although the main purpose is to give students the opportunity to witness art and design, galleries and museums in a different country experiencing other cultures... the overall educational benefit is far greater. It turns out that one of the main things our students took from the trip was mine and my colleague's ability to eat like hamsters at the all you can eat breakfast buffets in order to maintain enough energy to walk the many miles required each day! I don't know why but despite having enough money these days to pay for a decent meal, I still cant help myself if it's 'free'! Luckily by the end most of our gang of adolescents had cottoned on and we didn't look like such pigs in comparison!

Another lesson we all had to learn was patience and optimism! Particularly at points where we had no idea which direction to take or how to buy a train ticket - such situations can be trying at the best of times but when you have a big group all looking to you for the answers, you really feel the pressure! Having traveled alone quite a bit in the past, I tend to be fairly relaxed in such situations, knowing that I always get there in the end, despite my dispraxic tendencies! A solution to my poor map reading was to put the students in charge of navigation - a nice idea until we realized that most of them were worse than me and anarchy arose at the first crossroads, plus it was taking even longer to get from A-B! I also found that I was slightly oblivious to the sensitivities of others in the group at times - a leaning curve for me! As a large multicultural group from east London, it did not surprise or bother me that we attracted attention from passers by, taking a good look at us, but many of the students found it intimidating and thought people were quite hostile towards us, particularly in Berlin.

I think that such experiences are a significant part of their education and believe that they will grow from them and they are lucky to be able to do this with their peers and educators. Although some of the students returned feeling slightly jaded by Berlin for example, I hope that in time they will appreciate all that they witnessed and learned there and hopefully be inspired to return one day as there is so much more than we were able to fit in... I went on a solo mission to Berlin in 2000, whilst doing my degree and it is has changed significantly in the last decade with far more shops and finished buildings, it was like a different city but it still has plenty of edge to it once you get your bearings and delve into its nooks and crannies...

It may have been a little ambitious going to 2 cities in the short time we had, we certainly would have benefited from more time in Berlin as the 2 and a half days we had couldn't do it justice, but doing this gave us the benefit of 2 very different experiences and Prague really was quite magical. It was my first time too, a bit of a perk! We spent much time simply exploring the winding cobbled paths and bridges, soaking up its Gothic charm. For me this was where we found the most exciting gallery too - in amongst all the twee painting studios was the City Gallery showing '1960 - present: Slovak art + Czech Hosts'. It was contemporary but with a very different feel to anything I've seen elsewhere... and in the context of Czech history it was very interesting. The gallery itself was also quite wonderful, with extra rooms appearing here and there like a maze, with lots of hidden gems!

Overall I feel really proud of this trip and think that we saw a lot of stuff from warehouse art shows to holocaust memorials to dancing houses, and then some, not to mention the many culinary delights such as the goulash in Prague, a personal fav, that I enjoyed introducing some of the students to and the saurkraute of course, not to mention hot chocolate to die for and some very odd looking sausages served in a pot of water!

It's funny but the one thing that really stressed me out or made me feel anxious was worrying whether the students were enjoying it or felt that they got lots from it, that it was worth it etc. I really hope that now they've had time to digest it all, that they feel fulfilled and inspired, and confident to pursue more adventures...
Its so hard to tell what young people are thinking and I know it's uncool to show too much enthusiasm! I hope they can appreciate the stuff they didn't like as well as what they loved and understand the value of their experience!
It will be interesting to hear Lisa's student perspective of the trip (link to follow)
I'm interested to hear other perspectives on art school trips abroad from other teachers and students - what have you gained from such jaunts?

Last week I was back in London on an introductory trip to some west end galleries with my AS photography students, again anxious that they enjoy it and develop the confidence and passion to return independently... The photographic portrait prize at the National Portrait gallery was a squeeze just 15 minutes after opening it was packed with school kids... Cork streets Waddington gallery on the other hand was empty and spacious but unfortunately my east end teens were greeted with contempt by the gallery assistant and only 10 were allowed in at once, despite the amount of space.. they were then observed like shoplifters and we all felt very uncomfortable. I really hope that the students were not put off by this experience and I did explain that normally the smaller galleries are pleased to have us... They did find some compensation though (well the girls at least), in the 'hunk' up the road at Abercrombie and Fitch, who they were photographed with (some bizarre campaign)!
We ended our day at Liberty for the Photographers gallery off site show of Landscape photography, I was worried we might get more hostility but not at all - the show is a real joy and the balconies at the top of the department store provide a delightful viewing experience - see pick of the week.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Pick of the week 13.02.2009

Oh Gloomy day today, you either hate it or love it. As 13 is my lucky number I have nothing to fear! and if you survive today you can enjoy plenty of love tomorrow...

Night Out - Chosen by Joanne
Cooing love-birds, strutting peacocks, broken-hearted poets, and courtly lovers- come celebrate the feast of love as The Twilight Club teams up with Dorthy's Shoes to create a night of heady romance, cheeky games, interactive performance, melodious muisc, flirtatious dance and high mischief .

Exhibition - Chosen by Frank
Exhibition continues until 21 February
Arts Gallery, 65 Davies Street, W1K 5DA.
Open Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday 11am – 4pm. Nearest Tube Bond Street. Admission free.
A solo show by emerging Japanese artist Yuko Nasu, presenting a series of imaginary portraits which capture a unique personal vision that fuses the artist's native Japanese culture with a contemporary British lifestyle. The works explore issues of identity, perception and recognition, but then what doesn't!.

Exhibition - Chosen by Holly
British Landscape Photography show at Liberty department store - an offsite project from the photographers gallery.
'A beautiful viewing experience'
A celebration of our recent move to the soho neighbourhood has resulted in a collaboration between The Photographers’ Gallery and Liberty, a store synonymous with style. British Landscape Photography shows the work of eleven contemporary artists represented by Print Sales at The Photographers’ Gallery.
The landscape has provided inspiration for all of these artists yet they have each approached the subject with a unique and individual vision, resulting in a diverse look at our environment.

Theatre - Chosen by Marion
King Lear at Young Vic
Pete Postlethwaite, loved for his work on stage and screen, takes on Shakespeare's greatest role.
A daughter's love is spurned/ A family ripped apart/A country disintegrating.
.. yadda yadda, you get the idea!

Festival - chosen by Richard
National Review of Live Art
Wed 11 Feb – Sun 15 Feb, Glasgow, Scotland
It’s time to welcome our community together again from across the globe to celebrate the National Review of Live Art in Glasgow, Scotland. Once more, an exciting and eclectic mix of seasoned international artists, mid career artists with new ground breaking works, Elevator artists (appearing perhaps for the very first time at a major festival) and you the audience all get to rub shoulders, exchange stories, business cards, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. Be it your first visit or an annual migration, enter with an open mind and enjoy.

Installation - Chosen by Alison
Etiquette at Cafe Oto
10am until 5pm, daily
Etiquette is a half-hour experience for two people in a public space. There is no-one watching - other people in the cafe or bar are not aware of it. You wear headphones which tell you what to say to each other, or to use one of the objects positioned to the side. There is a kind of magic involved - for it to work you just need to listen and respond accordingly. Some say it's good to do this with someone you know, someone to share this with. Others say it works well with a stranger.

Featured Season - Chosen by Marion
Stanley Kubrick Season at BFI Southbank
13 february - 25 March 2009
We celebrate an enigmatic monolith of modern cinema with a two-part retrospective, which includes an extended run of Barry Lyndon.To accompany the season there is an installation by acclaimed British artists Jane & Louise Wilson, based on an unfinished Kubrick project about the Holocaust, in the BFI Southbank Gallery

Weekend fun - chosen by Sam
Duckie Bexhill Weekender
De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-On-Sea
£15 (includes coach trip there and back)
still a few tickets left
Come on down to Bexhill and enjoy a posh performance and dance event for St. Valentine's Day where you can bring your swoonie, your straight mates, your mum, and your nan. This night is for an unusually mixed audience of over 60's and the younger Duckie fraternity. Looking at real romance - across the ages, across sexualities, over the years. This whimsical quintessentially English night of wooing will warm your heart and help you fall in love.

Guests of honour on the Saturday will be 100 local Bexhill OAP's


Never let the truth get in the way of a good story

The truth is that this exhibition is now over. The truth is that my poor time keeping means that no matter how much I expound the qualities of this exhibition, none of you can go and see it (sorry) BUT also true is the fact that you can find most of these films on our old faithful Youtube and on Lux online so I'll harp on about them anyway, cause they're all amazing! FACT.

Before you begin I implore you, contrary to the exhibition's title, DO make sure to let the truth get right in the way of the story because this is the whole point. Let it wriggle its way into your understanding of the film, as here lies the 'good' in the story.

The 'truth' here refers to getting to grips with how we understand or come to know about a film. Revealing the truth means exploring the realm of feelings through which we experience film. Methods vary but what the artists in this exhibition share is an ability to force the viewer to sit up and pay attention by unsettling the traditional, taken-for-granted cognitive register, which can to often render the viewer passive, a therefore having that unfortunate tendency to miss the good bits.

I recommend, Drive-In by Stuart Croft, who invites the audience on a rainy road-trip with a middle-class male and female, driving in a middle-of-the-range car in the middle of town. Through this dreary façade, the woman, in a very prosaic American accent, begins to tell a desert island tale. Outside it is raining but inside we are told about sunshine, love, nature and art. Notions of wet-dry; hot-cold; drizzle-idyll, collide as we manoeuvre between what we know of a desert island; and what we know of a road-trip, which often represents a journey to existential discovery. Dizzyingly, the narrative seamlessly starts again and loops three times to last a total of 26minutes.

Wilhelm Sasnal examines the primacy of language over image in his text only film, Europa. The film is a homage to 16mm film and crams a scene into that uncompromising and unyielding 2 minutes 40. The story begins and ends, yet the limitation of 16mm means that the characters, the plot and the scene are only briefly alluded to and questions are posed to be left deliberately unanswered. A soundtrack kicks in and the text tells us that the Arab has just enough time to peel off his shirt to the beat of the music. The film ends but only our experiential knowledge of the film's referents; our own mnemonic system; and our subjective memory, are left to apprehend the scene.

John Smith's The Girl Chewing Gum takes the role of language in film to another level. Smith plonks us on a busy street in London, looking across the road to a shop with a big window. In nasal, Partridge-esque tones, he appears to command the scene, for cars to move; for the French women and her son to walk in from left after the women in the shop has come to window; for the man in the boiler suit to stop by the lamppost and to fold his arms; for the clock to move once every hour. After a while we realise that the instructions or narrations have been added during post-production, and were recorded by Smith shouting into a microphone in a field outside London. What Smith does is to his detailed account to transform an otherwise this banal street scene into a stage of overlapping plots and interweaving characters.

The exhibition also offers a rare viewing of Hollis Frampton's seminal work, Nostalgia, in which a calm voice narrates a story, which we assume alludes to the footage of a burning photograph before us. Only later is it revealed that the story is instead about a photograph which appears later on in the film. Our battle to retain our memory of what has past impinges on our ability to comprehend present. If you fall behind, the plot simply slips through your fingers.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story is a compelling exploration into the regimes of truth, which underlie the making of, and our experience of, film. Each film featured in this exhibition, I feel, are much greater than the sum of their parts, as what I was left with was a desire to remember not an end and polished product; but rather the cognitive battles, the multiple layers, the intricate mechanisms, and the messiness which made up my particular experience.

The exhibition was formerly at Site Gallery in Sheffield. For a full list of the films featured in the exhibition, click HERE

Framework Art Collective

While at the performance arts festival Experimentica, I met one of the performers, Adele Vye and was invited to Swansea to check out her interdisciplinary performance group, Framework.

Framework is an art collective based in Swansea made up of 6 artists whose common aim is to engage with the community through pieces which involve the public. They hold a social every first Tuesday of each month, where artists are invited to participate by performing or sharing ideas.

I went along one Tuesday and didn’t know what to expect, though I was told that I had to bring something to swap. I only remembered this during the train journey there, so proceeded to draw some tattoos on my banana, hoping it would pass off as clever and inventive.

It was held in a humble social club with a stage area, chairs and a bar. We were told to interact with each other by swapping our items, so I took a deep breath and approached various people, banana in hand. After much swapping, we had a game of bingo and watched a couple of films made by local artists.

It was an excellent way to spend a Tuesday evening, for a banana, some ink and a train ticket, I gained a mix tape, a skirt, half a carrot, plastic jewellery and was filled with the hope that there are groups such as these out there, where all sorts of artists can integrate in a supportive environment, where people are doing what they love.

I have been back there a couple of times since (the Christmas social was spectacular, with poets, performance artists, films and a dance) and hope to make it a regular “every first Tuesday of the month” thing.

Poster © Framework Photos ©
Yasmine Boudiaf 

Friday, 6 February 2009

Pick of the week 06.02.2009

Well, I do apologise for the wrong forecast last week...Maybe i am the next Michael Fish. But hey, we've survived 24 cm of snow and the city slowly but surely recovers from horrible blizzards and icy streets. For your own recovery here is a mixture of diverse performances and venues waiting for you this weekend and next week.

Performance - Chosen by Joanne
'I'm thinking of you (Part 1)' by Franko B
13th February at The Arches Playroom, Glasgow
National Review of Live Art
'I’m Thinking of You' presents a surreal, dreamlike image... a romantic vision of childhood fantasy and abandon. The body is central, but we are also presented with objects and music, which takes the viewer through a contemplative, personal experience.

Theatre - Chosen by Carly
England People Very Nice - National Theatre
Looks like an amusing and relevant romp through the history of immigration in London.
Tickets: £10 only - thanks to the good old Travelex promotion!

A riotous journey through four waves of immigration from the 17th century to today. As the French Huguenots, the Irish, the Jews and the Bangladeshis in turn enter the chaotic world of Bethnal Green, each new influx provokes a surge of violent protest over housing, jobs, religion and culture. And the emerging pattern shows that white flight and anxiety over integration is anything but new.

Exhibition - Chosen by Holly
Superflex: 'Flooded McDonalds' - South London Gallery until March 1st.

The South London Gallery presents a new film work by Danish collective Superflex entitled 'Flooded McDonald's'. Despite their international track record over the past 15 years, this will be their first solo show in London. From large-scale installations, through to long-term process-based projects and, more recently, films, Superflex’s work is founded in economic and political awareness. They create works inspired by the points where definitions and possibilities of art become blurred.

Performance - Chosen by Marion
Complicite / Simon McBurney at the Barbican Theatre
30 January 2009 - 21 February 2009 / 19:45, 14:30
Tickets: £10-40
£2 off all tickets from 30 Jan-2 Feb

Inspired by the work of one of the most important Japanese writers of the twentieth century, Jun'ichiro Tanizaki , Shun-kin tells the tale of devotion, passion and power, where beauty is unforgiving and love is blinding.
Moving between the neon glow of Japan and the vanished world of Meiji, Shun-kin discovers the moments of light in a world of darkness. Emerging from traditional Japanese culture, this powerful performance shows us just how close beauty and violence can really be.

Film festival - Chosen by Marine
London Chinese Film festival part of the China in London Season 2009
Saturday 31 January to Sunday 22 February

A season of Chinese films organised in association with the Chinese Cultural Centre is being shown at: BFI Southbank, Odeon Covent Garden, the Winston Churchill Hall in Ruislip and the Museum of London in Docklands.
The China in London season in 2009 gets under way on January 24 and provides a unique opportunity to celebrate Chinese arts, heritage and culture at many different cultural institutions, galleries, museums and visitor attractions throughout the capital.

Exhibition - Chosen by Alison
David Rayson (although it's the last day tomorrow!)
The Everyday Fantastic at Marlborough Fine Art.

David Rayson lives and works out of a suburbia that could be anywhere
and is everywhere. Washing up, shopping, parking the car, weeding and
watching TV are made joyously surreal and become gateways into an
alternative world. This is escapism on a day-to-day basis through the
event of drawing, which for Rayson has been a very private world for
the past four years.

Performance - Chosen by Eleanor
Theo Adams' Tonight Is Forever - Centre of the Universe

On Sunday the 8th of February The Centre of the Universe will be set in motion by TONIGHT IS FOREVER, the first solo-show by artist Theo Adams.Directing dancers, an orchestra, audio, video, staging and lights, Adams will present one forty-minute performance, of a new and ambitious production.

And for this weeks shameless Artsadmin plug...Choosen by Artsadmin

Tune your tv screens into Channel 4 to the 3 Minute Wonders at 19.55
Monday 9 February: Lemn Sissay - What If?
Tuesday 10 February: Graeme Miller - The Thinking Path
Wednesday 11 February: Lucy Cash - Requiem for the Redhead?
Thursday 12 February: Curious - Fit to Survive?

or watch them here


Thursday, 5 February 2009

On Tuesday I attended the wedding of two friends at university. I had been asked to be the best man and although this 'marriage' was in fact a series of performances using the ceremony as a format rather than a 'real' wedding I still took my responsibility seriously....

I knew I had to make a speech and this was something that had played on my mind greatly in the weeks running up to it. I'd jumped from one idea to the next of what my best man's 'performance' was to be yet when finally confronted with the situation (the wedding itself) I simply couldn't go through with what I'd planned this not being down to overwhelming nerves but more from a desire to get something sincere across rather than the contrived, solipsistic things I'd been considering doing on the day.

When the time for me to do my thing came I abandoned my planning, got up and spoke. My immediate experience of marriage and the subsequent attitude I've formed towards this has almost solely been formed by the breakdown of my parent's relationship and as a result I now view it with great suspicion. This was one of the first things I mentioned and it relates to something that's been playing on my mind very much recently; an overwhelming sense (or preoccupation with the phenomenon) of failure in much of the work I'm making at the moment.

I brought up The Daren Aronofsky film 'The Wrestler' in relation to this. I really enjoyed this film (I'm not sure that 'enjoy' is the right word) because it reminds me so much of a great Elizabethan tragedy; in 'The Ram' we have a character who ruins any opportunities he has for redemption, at repairing the relationship with his estranged daughter or when given a possibility of finding happiness in Cassidy, this is turned down. The protagonist ends up destroying the opportunities given him not because of circumstances out of his control but because his very nature lets him down, his personality flaws bring about his demise. Despite its unrelenting tragic qualities there is, nevertheless something very redemptive about the film, in that it portrays us as we are; extremely fallible and very fragile.

I think this is where interest in the phenomenon of failure stems from; the strange fascination in why as human beings we seem to get things wrong over and over again even when (and especially in some cases) when we have an easy solution staring us in the face. What I found strangely compelling about 'The Wrestler' in relation to this is how even though the audience can clearly trace Randy's demise out ahead of him, he still embodies a perverse heroism...the short-fallings in his personality that have driven his daughter away from him and push him to desperately pursue his final battle imbue him with a strange grandeur.

The 'marriage' of my friends Richard Grange and Hayley Dixon although not a 'proper' wedding ended with the two of them both signing a piece of paper, a gesture symbolically cementing their friendship. The gesture implying a commitment just as would be made during a real wedding ceremony; what I find really interesting about this is that to my mind the commitments and the subsequent risks that an artist takes pale almost into insignificance when faced with the difficult personal choices we end up having to make throughout our lives. A phrase that is often put about at college is 'risk taking' as an important element in artistic practice, yet in some respects being involved in the 'wedding' and reflecting on this on a personal level has made me re-asses this; that these so called 'risks' would be better viewed as opportunities, as chances to fall yet also to come across something different and exciting.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Psychogeography or "goal-orientated walking"

There seems to be a lot of exhibitions about the city on at the moment. Last weekend I purposely made my way across London to visit two. First was Paul Caton's An Internal Bleeding of the Heart at The Bearspace Gallery, Deptford. Caton's pencil drawings tell surreal stories that are both quaint and sinister: "Two hoodies wait in a ruined abbey. One, holding a large medieval sword keeps watch while the other sleeps. The blade glistens against the backdrop of dark trees and stone." .

These troubling, and yet also humerous myths set two protagonist hoodies against various idyllic countryside scenes. At first they seem to be transported straight from the urban environment into a romantic landscape, out of place and alienated. This is exactly the point Caton's making, he says "Their styling is just a post modern device to show that I mean what I'm talking about. This is a serious subject. If I have to rip-off Dutch masters to make a point then that's okay. The most important issue today is what is happening to the children. Art so far has ignored it. It isn't interested. It is too occupied by its own self."

Heading north, I then went to see Laura Oldfield Ford's London 2013, Drifting Through Ruins at Hales Gallery in the T Building. The exhibition consisted of a striking grid of over a hundred ink drawings that were distinct but also connected. Walking from one side of the room to the other, the viewer is taken through post industrial wastelands, weaving into living rooms and council estates. Oldfield Ford is as much an activist as an artist and also produces the zine Savage Messiah, documenting her psychogeographic "drifts" through London.

Compared to Caton, Oldfield Ford's drawings are more energetic and less fathomable. This layered style of drawing often seems to come out of a practice of psychogeography, a bit of a tired term for a way of exploring urban environments that has been around in various guises since the nineteenth century. It generally involves bringing together
the physical landscape and something more subjective as a way experiencing the city and can often express an element of dissatisfaction and a desire for change.

Set in 2013, Laura Oldfield Ford's drawings are nothing like the shiny, optimistic architectural renderings of the Olympic sites, but instead form a sense of foreboding about the regeneration to come - the "failed utopias".

I found these two exhibitions interesting to see side by side. Paul Caton's drawings aren't the result of an urban drift, but they are an intriguing combination of personal references - more of a walk through the artists brain: the Yorkshire landscape where he grew up post miners strike, a ruined 16 C building from Ken Loach's film Kes and titles borrowed from a bird watching book
are skillfully combined.
Oldfield-Ford on the other hand observes an area of London as it is now, collapsing time into where it's heading. There's defiantly a feeling of big change around at the moment that includes the city seeming to swing between the
pessimistic and the Utopian. I'd be really interested in hearing if anyone recommend any artists that might be picking up on this or working somewhere in between.

Monday, 2 February 2009

A nation of snowman builders we aint!

Last night as the snow started to fall on ye olde London town I did what most Brits tend to do, I threw a massive Mighty Boosch style parka over my i <3 pajama bottoms and squeezed into some ill fitting wellies in an attempt to capture some precious few minutes in the snow before it turned to the usual few snowflakes on car roofs and the odd icy puddle.

So at 2am I am on Chiswick High Road, looking like a mad cat lady, I am trying to create my first snow man in 19 years. I'm sure most of us are a bit out of practise but then again I studied sculpture so in my mind i think i will be able to knock up some kind of Henry More or Giacometti type creation. umm well here is the best i could come up with:

and so on that note I will head out to my nearest piece of green (well white) and try to beat lasts nights endevours.
ok I'm back and here is my afternoon attempt

i didn't think this was too bad until I saw what my neighbours had made (please note the pennys for eyes)

nothing tops the one my friend emailed me a photo of on Berners Street:

Ok so maybe we are getting better at this snow building business, if this weather carries on maybe sculptures like this will start popping up on the Old Kent Road.