… went shopping for misty’s birthday present – we bought her a bird necklace, a “make your own monster” and a goats cheese (like you do), plus a beautiful moomin bag to put it all inside
… ate a tasty prawn bun at the vietnamese restaurant round the corner (it’s a noodle dish, not an actual bun made of prawns, or anything weird like that, in case you’re wondering)
…watched the rain from the balcony
…drank coffee, ate bagels
…meandered down Brick Lane for people-watching, window-shopping, bicycle-spotting…
…went to John Lewis to buy luscious Rowan wool for a secret knitting extravaganza
… wandered across the river to Tate Modern to see the Street and Studio exhibition (I liked Wolfgang Tillman’s tube photos and the entertaining yet slightly disturbing two channel video installation by Rineke Dijkstra) – and as always, to covet all the lovely books in the bookshop
…misty’s surprise birthday party at Mildred’s in Soho. I ate baba ganoush, a vegan burrito and vegan tarte tatin (nice but not a fan of the tofu ice cream I’m afraid). I am quite tempted to post a really amusing photograph of me eating the tarte tatin but I’m not sure I’m ready to share my pudding-appreciation grimace with the world just yet.
… read “Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville
… treated myself to a most beautiful ruby slipper necklace – hurrah!
… went to the Publish and be Damned DIY book fair at The Rochelle School and checked out inspiring things from fuselit, strange attractor, 20×20 magazine, the arts pneumonia, impulsive random platform and the archive of shredded catalogues, amongst many others
… took photos of things that caught my eye
“Is that you, Rabbit?” said Pooh.
“Let’s pretend it isn’t,” said Rabbit, “and let’s see what happens.”
— A. A.Milne
Seven Stories is absolutely brilliant, by the way. Everyone should go there immediately. You can dress up as Ratty or sit in Mr Toad’s car, except when I went there the horn had broken because too many children had been pooping it. Great stuff.
… my word, there’s a lot of stuff online about blogging. There are whole blogs about blogging. Talk about self-referential. It’s all terribly po-mo.
Far from “ooh – project!”, in fact I have found that a lot of it quickly becomes rather boring if like me, you’re not especially bothered about the technical stuff (widgets, rss feeds, search engine optimisation and the like), but are more interested in the words themselves, and why this might be an interesting thing to do if you like words (and writing them). I haven’t found much out there about the blog as a literary or artistic form.
However, what I have found on my travels is a lot of actual blogs written by actual writers who are doing actually interesting and challenging things with this as a format. I have started a list of blogs that I like, which I’m going to add to as I go along. It’s over there, on the right, where it says ‘blogs that are good’.
Interestingly, apart from getting to read a lot of fine writing, another piece of important information I have garnered from these blogs is that if I am going to be serious about this whole blogging (and writing) business I am probably going to need to get myself a much cooler hairdo. Oh well. As long as I don’t have to wear a trilby, or gladiator sandals, it will all be fine.
It has been a mixed week so far. These are some of the good things which have happened in it:
I bought myself a really excellent new cardigan.
The sun has come out! You could almost suspect it is summer.
I found out that I got a distinction for an essay I wrote about some brain-melting cultural theory things (I am feeling pretty disgustingly smug about this one, actually).
Tomorrow I get to go to Newcastle to visit the Seven Stories Centre, which in case you don’t know, is an arts centre devoted entirely to children’s literature. I am so excited. The fact that is actually part of my job makes it even better.
…. and some less good things which have also happened:
Now that it is hot, my beautiful sun-allergy blisters are back, decorating my face with their loveliness. Yes, I am allergic to the sun. I am very, very special.
My throat of doom has returned. it is like an uber villain from an action film, possibly The Terminator. Every time you think you have well and truly destroyed it, it is back with a vengeance, seemingly more hell-bent on evil than ever before.
The electronic council tax robots forced me to pay them £956 of council tax. Why the streets are not paved with actual gold here in Didsbury, I truly cannot imagine.
I missed out on this lovely event yesterday which I really wanted to go to, because I was tired and felt ill (see doom, throat of) after a particularly exhausting day at work. It was rubbish.
Still, in spite of all this, the sun has been shining, and I do get to go and see an exhibition tomorrow entitled ‘From Toad Hall to Pooh Corner’.
On balance, I think life is okay.
This week, amongst other things, I went on a little trip to Liverpool for a work-related event. The event itself was very interesting, but a little too participatory for my liking (we had to do a tableau at one point. Yes, really).
However, having survived my day of participation, I took myself over to FACT to see the new Pipilotti Rist exhibition, and I think I have now found myself a new favourite media artist.
For me, the highlight of the show was the installation Gravity Be My Friend, which invites viewers to lie down on heaps of soft carpeting, arranged like islands drifting through calm seas, to watch video projections shown on the ceiling. Moving through hazy, Edenic landscapes, to the background of an uncanny lullaby of strings and bells, we glimpse vague mermaid-like figures moving through an underwater haze. The work is rife with dream-like symbolism, but for me, it’s peculiar power lay in its ability to evoke a strange nostalgia for lost childhood summers, and the most elusive early memories, enhanced by a vivid colour palette of apple-red, sky-blue and grass-green.
Your Space Capsule, in Gallery 2, continues the theme of childhood, re-creating the pleasure of miniature dolls-house landscapes. Peering inside what appears to be an ordinary crate abandoned on the gallery floor, we find ourselves looking down into a tiny, private space, perhaps a student flat, complete with books and records scattered on the floor, a plant in a pot and even a tiny pizza in a box. What makes this tiny space unique is that an enormous planet against a cosmic background of stars has literally invaded this intensely personal territory, making an interesting statement about the relationship of the particular and universal, the individual and the eternal, the miniature fragments of space we occupy and the broad horizons we can fathom. Meanwhile, Apple Tree Innocent on Diamond Hill dangles a variety of clear plastic packaging from the branch of a tree, transforming everyday domestic objects into twinkling, transluscent objéts d’art, seemingly endowed with a strange, almost magical power, as if a part of some secret ritual or unknown child’s game.
Writing for The Guardian here, Adrian Searle complains that this exhibition “sometimes makes me feel as if I’m stuck inside a vegan, possibly even fructarian, new-age indoctrination video” and even compares Gravity Be My Friend to a hair conditioner ad. I can see where he’s coming from – there’s no doubt that Rist’s interest in 1960s art and culture and utopian idealism infiltrate these works, and yes, there might even be a Timotei moment or two. But there is a strong sense of humour implicit behind this throughout all of Rist’s work: an enjoyable, infectious “silliness” which Searle himself acknowledges. This is perhaps most obviously embodied in her 1997 video Energy Is Over All, which is perhaps the best-known work in the show, and clearly reveals the artist’s infectious, anarchic good humour. Here, a woman in a flirty, floaty summer dress dances blithely down a city street, pausing every now and again to smash the window of a parked car with the long-stemmed flower she carries. These unexpected acts of violence are seemingly tolerated by a friendly policewoman, who becomes almost a co-conspirator in the act itself. Of course, I noticed that the woman is wearing red shoes: it’s no surprise to read that feminist theorist and writer Peggy Phelan has suggested that she acts as a parallel Dorothy figure, skipping merrily in her ruby slippers down a modern-day urban yellow brick road.
For me, it’s precisely this sense of energy, irreverence and playfulness which makes these works so enjoyable and engaging, particularly in contrast to some media artworks where technology serves to keep us, as viewers, distanced and unable to access meaning, firmly at arms length. Instead, Rist seems to find a child-like delight in the magic, the sheer imaginative power and the possibility for aesthetic beauty offered by moving image as an artistic form; she gleefully welcomes us to join in the game, to play in her own carefully-constructed fantasy wonderland, as in the installation The Room which physically throws us back into childhood. This sense is, of course, reinforced by the knowledge that the artist’s name ‘Pipilotti’ is a fusion of her own childhood nickname, and the heroine of her favourite children’s book, Pippi Longstocking, giving a clear indication of the enormous importance of play, childlike imagination and innocence at the heart of Rist’s artistic practice. It’s perhaps for this reason that in concluding his review of the show, Searle describes Rist’s work as “a guilty sort of pleasure”, but for me, it’s far less complicated: it’s absolutely this kind of sheer joy and enjoyment which is exactly what the art I like best is all about.
[Image via flickr]