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Friday, 22 May 2009

Pick of the Week 22.05.09

Pick of the Week is your guide to all that's good coming up in the world of culture - compiled by the Artsbloggers and released every Friday. Today's edition is extra special, because we're celebrating the approach of Artsblog Live Week, which starts this Monday, 25th May. During Live Week - a series of events devised and led by the Artsbloggers - we'll be taking over Toynbee Studios, parts of the area around Commercial Street, large chunks of the internet, and yes, then the world. In the meantime, read our recommendations for a whole range of exhibitions, performance, books, events and music to get yourself involved with (when you've got a spare minute in the gaps between all the Artsblog Live events you'll be attending, of course!).

Event – Chosen by Carly
Site-Specific Panel Discussion, The Roundhouse, 23rd May
Part of Accidental Festival, 22 – 24 May

Fancy a bit of intellectual debate? Interested in challenging your assumption of what site-specific performance consists of and how it can work effectively? Or just want to listen to some fascinating people for a little while? Then you need to get to the Site-Specific Panel Discussion at the Roundhouse on the 23rd. Curated as part of The Accidental Festival and chaired by Nick Kaye, it promises to be an interesting and varied discussion on the definition of site-specific theatre, and how it is evolving through various practice. The other speakers include Hilary Westlake, Felix Barrett, Cressida Brown, Joel Scott and Julian Maynard Smith and following their opinions the discussion will be opened to the floor. It's only a tenner, and it really is worth it, as some of these guys are in high-demand!

Also while you're at The Roundhouse , check out Parrot {in the} Tank's 'Excursions', happening throughout the venue, also as part of the Accidental Festival. A nice tie-in for all you site-specific enthusiasts, particularly as The Roundhouse is a labyrinth of brick corridors and glass doors! I'm confident this fairly new company will have pulled something magnificent out the bag once again. Immersive, unusual and beautiful - go see! See the full and extensive line up of The Accidental Festival here.

Event – Chosen by Holly
White Mischief – Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
May 23, 9pm - 4am, Scala, King's Cross, London

In a collaboration between promoters Whoopee and White Mischief come this astounding night featuring vaudeville, aerialists, escapeology, chainsaw juggling, interactive art, theatre, sideshows, six live bands, DJs and more. For further details on White Mischief, including group discounts, how to get tickets in person with no booking fee, dressup inspirations and how to get discounts on costume hire, click here. Reviews of previous events have been glowing: ‘More fun in one night than most venues can manage in a whole year’ (The Guardian), ‘Event of the week, the month, the year’ (Time Out), sounds like it’s worth checking out.

Book – Chosen by Joanne
'The Plague' (La Peste) by Albert Camus

One of the best books that I have ever read! In the town of Oran, thousands of rats, initially going unnoticed by the populace, began to die in the streets. A hysteria develops soon after, causing the local newspapers to report the incident. Authorities responding to public pressure order the collection and cremation of the rats, unaware that the collection itself was the catalyst for the spread of the bubonic plague. The daily number of deaths grows and grows and eventually the town is sealed off and all travel prohibited. The separation affects daily activity and depresses the spirit of the townspeople, who begin to feel isolated and introverted, and the plague begins to affect various characters.

Event – Chosen by Frank
Tony Benn Introduces Two Plays for Gaza – Seven Jewish Children and The Trainer
Thursday 21 May, 7.30pm
Hackney Empire
Book online or call 020 8985 2424

Proceeds from this exciting evening go to the Gaza School of Music and the Stop the War Coalition, with performances by Roger Lloyd Pack, Janie Dee, Jana Zeineddine and others. Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children will be introduced by Churchill herself, and include some of the cast members from its Royal Court premiere in February 2009. This will be followed by a one hour performed reading of The Trainer by David Wilson & Anne Aylor, exploring a love story between a British Jew and his Palestinian fiancĂ©e. Also appearing on the bill will be renowned Palestinian singer, Reem Kelani, rap poet Lowkey and ex-SAS soldier Ben Griffin who will read from the Winter Soldier Investigation into the Vietnam war. The benefit will be introduced by Tony Benn and directed by Tom Platten.

Exhibition – Chosen by Oyinda
William Hunt: "I don't believe you, you're a liar" Open Studio, Camden Arts Centre
and Saturday Night TV an evening of live music and performance in King's Cross.
Midland Goods Shed, off York Way, King's Cross, 30 May 7.30pm, £4

Artist William Hunt has transformed the Artists’ Studio at Camden Arts Centre into a recording studio, and will be based there throughout May. Visitors to the space can book a slot to perform with a lie detector or take in the view from the production box and see recordings of singer-songwriters hooked up to the polygraph machine. The finale of Hunt's residency takes place on 30 May in King's Cross when Hunt will present a major new installation and performance work. A battle of the bands/ X Factor hybrid, the work features live music and tough-talking judges. Call 020 7472 5500 to book a performance slot with the lie detector.

Magazine – Chosen by Rosalie
Notes from the Underground – distributed at major underground stations, free.

Set up as an alternative to the crappy free papers that litter London’s Tubes and Busses, this interesting little magazine comes out monthly. Their aim is to publish the ‘best in new writing covering fiction and arts based non-fiction’, and in their latest offering – issue four – they seem to have done a pretty good job. Included are interviews, poetry, short stories and some random illustrations (particular favourite: Andrew Viner’s bizarre graphs. One compares ‘my siblings’ and ‘things that are heavy’). Tom Kingsley’s ‘Adventure Story’ about a gorilla high on e-numbers, spread in coloured boxes throughout the magazine is another gem. It’s time to stop numbing our brains with the Metro and while-away those commuting hours with something a bit more stimulating. They accept submissions too, so if you’ve always wanted to write but never actually done it, now’s the time. The next edition’s about to come out, and will be distributed free at major underground stations between 8am – 1pm all next week (see here for times/places).

Exhibition – Chosen by Frank
Annette Messager – The Messengers
Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, until Monday 25 May

Annette Messager (born in 1943, lives and works in Paris) is widely regarded as one of Europe's most important contemporary artists. This retrospective presents an overview of the artist's career and reveals her use of an astonishing and affecting repertoire of forms and materials, among them soft toys, stuffed animals, fabrics, wool, photographs and drawings. The work ranges from the smaller conceptually driven pieces Messager made in the early 1970s to the very large sculptural installations of the past 15 years, in which movement plays an increasingly important role. It is an affecting and deeply moving show, instilling discomfort in the viewer through its sense of over-intimacy, yet funny and silly in places too. Despite the occasional flashes of humour, it leaves behind a sense of unease that is hard to shake off.

Performance – Chosen by Joanne
21st to 23rd May
Wondermart by Rotozaza at ASDA
Part of BURST 2009 at BAC

Take part in this exciting new theatre performance that takes you on a journey of re-discovery around the local ASDA supermarket. Wearing headphones and listening to a pre-recorded narrative, you’ll become a player on a magical audio tour. Anonymous behind your trolley, you are both actor and audience – interacting with the drama of an ordinary supermarket unfolding around you.

Event – Chosen by Mark
Transition Towns National Conference, Battersea Arts Centre
22 May - 'Energy Descent Plan', 23 May - 'Speakers to Inspire' both events at 7.30pm
Book online or call 020 7223 2223 for tickets

The Transition movement is a fast-growing, bottom-up response to peak oil and climate change. If you ever feel like these problems seem too big, and you too small, getting involved with the Transition Towns network, and through it the thousands of Transition communities around the world, provides a positive way to start making a difference. Part of the Transition Network Conference, these events at BAC offer an inspiring introduction to the Transition concept and its various aspects, as well as an opportunity to meet others involved and get a sense of the huge possibilities that these challenging times present. The event on the 22nd will introduce the concept of the ‘Energy Descent Plan,’ and subsequently create the largest of these ever made. On the 23rd, an impressive collection of speakers – including co-founder of the network, Rob Hopkins; David Strahan, author of The Last Oil Shock; and eco-psychologist Mary-Jayne Rust - will talk about their involvement, and various issues surrounding the Transition Towns movement.

Talk – Chosen by Alison
Dexter Sinister, ICA, London
Part of Talk Show
30 May 2009

Dexter Sinister's True Mirror Microfiche is an illustrated talk performed by twenty performers at the ICA on Sat 30th May as part of Talk Show. This season of events runs until the end of the month and features a range of live events and artworks all examining different aspects of the act of speech. Dexter Sinister is made up of Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt who explore alternative distribution strategies and have set up a bookstore/workshop in New York that prints-to-order using machinery in the shop – should definitely be worth a look in, especially as it’s free. The accompanying exhibition looks interesting too, including a Tower of Babel version of the Jungle book by Pierre Bismuth and other art pieces that investigate the
human voice in subtle, humorous or unexpected ways. Book for the Dexter Sinister event by calling 020 7930 3647.

Music - Chosen by Rosalie
La Roux, Quicksand - autoKratz Drags to Riches Mix

Really good remix, which won't fail to stick in your head for whole evenings if you listen to it before going out.

Festival – Chosen by Richard
Junction Sampled: Live Art Weekender
The Junction, Cambridge

This two day exploration of Live Art is a great opportunity for those interested in the genre to immerse themselves in two days performances and discussions, and for those who are new to the art form to dip their toe in the water. Tickets for some events start at just only £2 and there’s a brilliant range of performers.

Exhbition – Chosen by Joanne
The Demographic of a Pigeon Fancier by Victoria Melody
18th to 25th May
Jubilee Square Brighton

What do Northerners think of Southerners? What does Brighton look like when cameras are attached to pigeons? This exhibition presents previously received messages from the public of Cumbria of their opinions of southerners, which were delivered by pigeons to Brighton. Also being exhibited are video portraits of pigeon fanciers, filmed footage of a pigeon's flight over Brighton in March 2009 and an art installation of the piece 'Talking Heads' which plays with dialogue between fanciers. Victoria Melody is an artist who spent 2008 travelling around the UK living with pigeon fanciers, researching stereotypes, Northern-ness, class and Britain's disappearing traditions.

Event – Chosen by Lisa
London MCM Expo, London ExCeL Centre
23 May 11am-6pm and 24 May 11am-5pm
£10 for 15+ years, £5 for 11-14 year-olds, FREE for under 11 year-olds.

This is one for all you geeks out there. Japanese and Western comics, games, cartoons and films are celebrated in this weekend convention that only comes to London twice a year and to the Midlands annually. Guests such as Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor, 'The Terminator') and James Duval (Frank, 'Donnie Darko') will be appearing, as well as hundreds of cosplayers dressed as their favourite characters. It'll probably be too late to make a costume by now if you don't have one, but if you do, or can throw something together in a jiffy, you could enter the cosplay competition to show off your outfit!

Exhibition – Chosen by Holly
Luke Fowler, Serpentine Gallery
Until June 14th

This series of films by Glaswegian winner of the first Jarman award, currently showing at the Serpentine, focuses on obscure underground music movements and counter cultural figures. Fowler’s films have often been linked to British Free Cinema of the 1950s, whose distinctive aesthetic came out of a conscious decision to engage with the reality of British society. Fowler uses similarly impressionistic sound and editing, and avoids didactic voice-over commentaries and narrative continuity. The results are atmospheric, sampled histories that reverberate with the vitality of the people he studies.

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