Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Dear Diary...

Dear Diary,

The Thinking Girl is back with a spring in her step and a graceful leap into the arms of choreographer Michael Clark!  Clark has invited 100 members of the public - including the Thinking Girl - to join him at the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, where we'll be on show for six weeks as he whips us untrained dancers into something resembling a dance troupe. 

The Tate describes it as a rare chance for onlookers to witness the artistic process that informs live art, but I think it will be the participants - those who *are* the actual art form - who will be most blown away by the experience.

More thoughts to come after Rehearsal #1 on Friday.

~The Thinking Girl x

Monday, 3 May 2010

One-Week Diary

The Pre-Election Night Special [Frontline Club]
Election Party [The Hub]
Grand Vintage Ball [UMI+Co]  Read my review for the Londonist here

Monday, 12 April 2010

One-Week Diary

The Automated Nation [Future Human at The Book Club]
Mat Collishaw [BFI Gallery]
Mat Collishaw, Tracey Emin & Paula Rego [The Foundling Museum]

Monday, 29 March 2010

Political Ethics with Mary Warnock

Morality starts in the home, according to politician and ethicist Mary Warnock, and yet an ideal social system of ethics does not derive from cultural or religious context, but is somehow naturally evident in our common humanity.  Values such as truth, compassion, and trustworthiness need to be instilled when we are young if we are to self-regulate and always seek out the "moral route". 

I'm not sure if it's practical to take Warnock's basic theory of values (existing outside of political, social, and religious structures and being that which is just "the way people want to be treated themselves") and infer that this is a morality which people wish to share. 

A far easier task early on a Monday morning is to take her premise that we wish to live up to the moral standards demonstrated by family when we were young, and consider what has been carried through to adulthood today.  

From my mother: Materialism = Self-Love
Always shop when you are unhappy; it provides a sense of purpose and lifts the spirits.  When seeking the perfect shoe, remember that possessing such an item is secondary to the pursuit of the footwear: the journey rather than the destination gives one greatest satisfaction.

From my father (a man of the cloth no less): Self-sacrifice = Happiness 
You can never be truly happy or free unless you give up all your interests and time for other people.  A sense of self is less important than a sense of what other people want and need: discover this, give it to them, and a blissful existence shall be yours.

Mary Warnock was at the School of Life's Sunday sermon, Conway Hall.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

One-Week Diary

Steve McQueen in Conversation with Adrian Searle [National Portrait Gallery)
Mary Warnock, Political Ethics [School of Life]

Crash: Homage to J.G. Ballard

Ballardian (adj) 1. of James Graham Ballard (born 1930), the British novelist, or his works (2) resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels and stories, esp dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments

On Friday night I watched 'Crash' (the naughty Cronenberg film based on Ballard's novel, not the movie with Halle Berry) in preparation for yesterday's excursion to the Gagosian to see 'Crash: Homage to J.G. Ballard'.

There's a scene at the start of the film where a woman opens her blouse, lifts one breast from her bra, and presses her bare flesh against the cold, hard metal of an aircraft.  It's an erotic fusion of human and machine that recurs over and again throughout the film, although in far more painful circumstances.  

I confess to knowing little about Ballard, and after watching Crash, I was more than curious about what I might find.  The closest I came to Crash's erotically maimed characters was an encounter with Cindy Sherman's Untitled #253, 1992.  Also echoing key elements of the story are Douglas Gordon's self-portraits of James Dean and Jayne Mansfield, created from mirrors such that the viewer becomes part of their tragic end. 

My favourite review of the exhibition comes from Oliver Basciano at Art Review, who makes lyrical observations like this one: "...the strong line in American sublime that pervades here is tempered by the inclusion of a few artists who work within the distinct mode of English melancholia".  His words resonate with my experience: I certainly felt as though I carried myself through the exhibition in a dreamlike trance.

All the work can be found on the Gagosian website, but here's a few of my favourites:

Michelle becomes part of James Dean's tragic end, with Douglas Gordon's Self-Portrait of You + Me (James Dean), 2007

Cyprien Gaillard, View of Sighthill Cemetery, 2008

Jane and Louise Wilson, Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard, 2000

Robert Rauschenberg — Jockey Cheer Glut, 1987

Ed Ruscha, Fountain of Crystal 2009

Dan Holdsworth, Untitled (Autopia) 1998

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2010

Sophie Ristelbeuber may have won 2010's Deutsche Borse Photography Prize, but it was finalist Zoe Leonard's snaps of urban decay and destitution that stole my heart.  In 'Analogue', Leonard ventures around and sometimes beyond her native New York to capture small businesses that have faded or are marginalised by the expansion of a global economy. 

She says her central theme "is that I’m trying to make a portrait of us as a society at this moment in time and what our objects and urban landscape say about us. It’s a kind of archaeology – an attempt to understand who we are and what we care about as a society" (The Telegraph, 11 Feb 2010).

There's a sense of loss in her images, yet the vintage Rolleiflex camera and 11inch by 11inch format lends them a kind of romantic, nostalgic air.  There's even a little bit of hope: in a picture of a wheelbarrow and television for example, one reflects on where they might be going next.