Hello & Welcome ...to this first ‘almost proper’ edition of The Mirrored Hammer. Those of you that picked up our pilot issue at Beacons Festival earlier this year will be familiar with the format: we’re attempting a cultural magazine that informs, celebrates, entertains and does critique and critical laughs in equal measure. The name The Mirrored Hammer is a nod to radical playwright Bertolt Brecht’s quote (following Trotsky) that ‘art is not a mirror with which to reflect society but a hammer with which to shape it.’ We believe it can do both simultaneously and aim to illustrate this through the stuff we cover and the manner in which we treat it. The publication of this issue coincides with Leeds International Film Festival, at which the organisers have kindly allowed us to distribute our rag. The theme and focus for this issue, then, is on material that might pique the interest of the discerning film goer. We’ve set aside directly film-related content in favour of reflections on issues of performance, representation, narrative and the politics of all that, hoping to compliment a fantastic film programme and provide some light reading between screenings too.
UNIVERSITY OF BRADFORD
“Home to some of the boldest and most interesting work in the region.” Yorkshire Post SUPPORTING NEW WORK BY INNOVATIVE ARTISTS THEATRE * LIVE ART * DANCE * SPOKEN WORD
CO MIN G U P Sat 1st Nov
VEIL - MAMA QUILLA
An immersive installation and performance created in response to the stories of Muslim women Thurs 13th - Sat 15th Nov
THE S PINNING WHEEL UNF INISHED BUSINESS
A celebration of the life of Steve Ben Israel; a New York jazz musician, stand-up comic, countercultural activist and member of the iconic ‘Living Theatre’. Combining spoken word, video and live music by Yako 440. Sat 29th Nov
MAN DELAY - N ICK BLACKBUR N
Remembering and dismembering Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, in collaboration with legendary alternative cabaret artist David Hoyle.
As usual, a huge thanks to all our contributors and to our designer, Ben Holden for pulling the issue together with precious little time or resources. We’re keeping The Mirrored Hammer a physical only thing at the moment so there’s not a dedicated website but if you want to catch up with the radio programme of the same name broadcast on BCB 106.6FM, do a google; it’s all on there. Hope to see you out and about! Keep it real ale. Andy Abbott CONTRIBUTORS Andy Abbott Javaad Alipoor Amy Charlesworth Amelia Crouch Loud Ribs Luke Drozd James Islip Steven Nuttall Chris Summerlin Adam Smith David Allen
EDITORS Andy Abbott James Islip CONTACT content: email@example.com advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN Ben Holden
The Crisis of Representation Javaad Alipoor. PHOTO: Hurr by Javaad Alipoor. Designed by Uzma Kazi, Photograph Imran Manzoor.
Like a desert father, half starving to death in an Egyptian cave, I have engaged in terrible acts of mental and physical mutilation as a form of research for this article. My weak-willed human heart sought no respite through the challenges of this journey. Even when Lord preserve me and deliver me from sin - I watched half an episode of Downton Abbey. All for you, dear reader. All for you. That’s not strictly true. In fact, someone told me about half an episode they watched. It was about the people who lived in the Abbey at the end of the First World War, and the controversy caused by a memorial to dead soldiers. You are likely to be familiar with the huge social upheaval at the end of WWI: the Bolshevik revolution in Russia; Red Clydeside; gunboats being sent up the Mersey to prevent the declaration of a Soviet of Liverpool. Downtown Abbey manages to reduce this explosive class war to a fall-out between a butler and master over who should open the memorial. You might wonder why we should concern ourselves with this Sunday night opiate. Normally I wouldn’t. What interests me, though, is that here is an example of the mainstream (or what Novara might call “pro regime”) media, telling us about the history of class in this country; a self congratulatory and paternalistic voice telling a story where the limit of working class ambition is to get some credit from the master for fighting his wars. I have begun to discuss this as illustrative and symptomatic of a “crisis of representation”. It’s a far from a fully rounded concept but, in short, I think there are two related problems: First, the fact that, increasingly, the spheres of public life – spaces in which one can stand up and tell ones own story - are inaccessible to all but those who grew up pronouncing the word “Surrey” as one syllable. In the past, the twin ambitions of a good life and a smidgen of power for talented working class people could be achieved via two routes: making it in a band, or becoming a Labour MP. This was tied to a whole host of social policies that came into being after the second World War - the introduction of the NHS, free universities, the welfare state and so on - that helped give rise to the notion of the working class lad (almost
always white and male) done good. To be fair, neither of these possibilities for a working class voice in society were realistically achievable, especially if you were a woman, ethnic minority or any combination thereof. At best - to use an old fashioned analogy - the working class and other exploited sections of our society rise and fall together sharing the few crumbs that fall from the table. The promises and dreams on offer after the Second World War were never anymore than that; scraps, for a few lucky people. The only realistic way for the marauding masses of non-posh, non-white and non-male artists, audiences and communities to get any real say in politics and culture – then as now – would have been through a radical change in our political system. Nevertheless, we can see that the relationship that people from so-called working class backgrounds have with the production of pop music, pop culture and ‘small p’ politics in this country has changed radically over the years. Fundamentally, they don’t get to make it anymore. And, the thing is, pop culture does make a difference to the way people see themselves; it draws those complex contours of confidence and ambition, that curve around lived reality that renders what is possible, possible. A recent article at the New Socialist Project - as well as in the Daily Mail for some reason - showed how there has been a dramatic increase in pop musicians that come from public school and privately educated backgrounds: bands like Mumford and Sons, Coldplay and so on. The same is true of Labour MPs. Fifty years ago, over half of Labour MPs were people from working class backgrounds who came up through the (very much imperfect) trade union movement, and had more in common with ‘the people’ than those on the benches opposite. Nowadays you can say that about Dennis Skinner and pretty much Dennis Skinner alone. This not to say that the Labour party is as crammed with posh people as the Tory party is, but to make too much of that is a bit like letting Sting off for writing “Every Breath You Take”, because it was slightly less awful than Puff Daddy’s version. So in politics and music, as well as in narrative art like film and theatre, large sections of society literally don’t
get a say. As increasing sections of the political and cultural industries demand voluntary time from those who wish to participate in them - through internships and placement schemes - and as the economic situation worsens, it’s going to be a smaller and smaller section of society that are able to shape the national conversation. In this way, the vast majority of society will only see themselves represented, insofar as they are re-presented by someone, and something, else. And to be represented, as always, means to be translated. And this problem remains whatever cultural context we translate it to. Even when those who preside over the culture industry flatter themselves into the belief that they are engaging with “other cultures”, they look across the world and see their own image. The second problem contributing to a crisis of representation is best illustrated with an anecdote. The Te’atre i Shahr in Iran is a prestigious venue that I would cautiously suggest is roughly equivalent to the UK’s National Theatre, in as much as the main house shows have actors and directors drawn from successful films and TV series. Whilst visiting Theran I walked to this theatre and saw a traditional Persian garden set back from the main road. There was a craft festival, with some quite interesting exhibits: I was drawn in particular to a series of western style mugs that were clearly ‘in conversation with’ old Iranian “Jaam” style wine glasses. I felt that the artist was looking at place, space and history in a loosely similar way to that which I attempt as a writer of plays and a poet. All my plays and poems tend to have quite a strong sense of place. I have written more poems than I probably should have about Sheffield (I have written one), and some about Bradford. They are about different ways of seeing England, in a way. Despite this affinity something about the cross-cultural mugs at the craft fair rubbed me up the wrong way. I found it jarringly celebratory - at best a relic of a Clinton and Khatami world of “dialogue between civilizations” and the general thawing of international relations and the introduction of basic personal freedoms to Iran.
I struggled to get on board with what I perceived to be a piece of work celebrating a moment that passed twenty years ago. I have problems with the static and reified notion of culture that a “dialogue of civilizations” implies: it renders invisible the inconsistency in each “civilization” itself, the myriad of struggles and conflicts that make up everyday life, whether they be around gender, race, ethnicity or class. I caught myself thinking: if you really want to make something about how these two worlds interact, look for the thing that divides them both - think about how class intersects across both cultures. Later, I went to see the play Taraneha ye Mahali (Local Songs). The story followed an Iranian musicologist who lived in America on his journey back to Iran to collect various folk songs. As the protagonist went from town to town, he met characters from legendary Iranian new wave films (Bashu the Little Stranger, The Runner and so on). These films are famous for featuring incredibly strong casts of non-actors from far-flung parts of Iran. The play wasn’t great. It was a poorly directed, unflinchingly episodic middle class guilt/redemption fest, in which our hero went from place to place feeling bad about how the people of the area were misused and abused by filmmakers. There were moments where I felt that something genuinely interesting was being said, but throughout the film the “local characters” confronted the protagonist as would Spike Lee’s “magical Negro”: they were characters with no teleology of their own who seem to exist only to teach the protagonist about themselves. This brings me back to Downton Abbey’s butler, whose sole narrative duty it is to allow their master to under-
stand the changing nature of the times. There is never a moment when you felt like characters of this sort have learned anything about themselves, or had a way of leaving the story. They are trapped to be instruments in someone else’s story.
the stealing from the boss and the little acts of rebellion his workers engage in. These acts constitute the authentic story of people excluded from power, not the pliant stereotype that the boss thinks of, and that we often live up to. Genet’s proposal to make a story of perfectly irreducible pieces would account for and represent this fractured and partial nature of a world defined by class.
So, whether in Tehran, Yorkshire or America, the song remains the same: only one class of people have a voice. This class may sometimes exploit, sometimes We also have to ask questions about who it is we tell soothe, or even sometimes feel guilty about other social classes. The question is this; how and where can stories to. Many critics have noted the falling levels of engagement in theatre and art, and a tightening we make the kind of work that departs from this? up of its traditional upper and middle class audience Sadly I can’t address such a big question in this article, shares. So part of the challenge is to find ways to conbut I think one place to depart from is the idea of ‘epic nect to new audiences. I have spent the last couple of years trying to do this through my company, Northern theatre’ developed in the 20th Century. For Bertolt Lines through which I have learned you can only really Brecht and Erwin Piscator, this form had a very clear expect people to come and see your stuff if you make way of bringing working class stories into narratives. it with, around and for them. One thinks, for instance, of Piscator’s work for the KPD, where huge hydraulic engines would show the different levels at which a society would operate. A fractured theatre - a storytelling arising from the communities it wants to talk about and an art that makes working class people its subjects and not Another, less grand and easily commercialised, tradiobjects - is not only possible, but is being practiced. It tion is revealed in the letters Roger Blin wrote to Jean exists for the most part in the margins, the fringes and Genet. Talking about the epic style Genet wrote; “Each scene, and each section within a scene, must be the underground of the mainstream. We can hope that the institutions will take note and one day we see an perfected and played as rigorously and with as much episode of Downton where the workers are shown to discipline as if it were a short play, complete in itself.” snigger, steal and piss in his Lordship’s soup. For Blin and Genet, representation needn’t - indeed shouldn’t - be huge and unwieldy: it should be small Javaad Alipoor is a director, writer and poet from Bradenough to show the breaks in social fabric. ford. He is Artistic Director of Northern Lines Community Theatre, and Co Artistic Director of Soroush. His Let’s return to the Abbey. What’s the basic problem next play My Brother’s Country will tour to The Lowry, with a story that only comes from master’s point of The ARC and Theatre in the Mill in February 2015. view? It’s that the fractures and breakages of the master’s rule is hidden; the scheming and piss-taking, He blogs at www.attheinlandsea.wordpress.com
By Luke Drozd from his publication Threnodies available from www.lukedrozd.com
is an ‘artist / performer / writer / director / producer / curator / idiot’ based in London but originating from Leeds. Some round this way may have seen her in the mid 2000s as front person of Bradford-dwelling creepbeat trio Ruby Tombs before she moved away to study. Having recently experienced some of her excellent ‘is it/isn’t it’ character-based performance work Andy Abbott caught up with Laura over the internet:
One of the most fun things about this format is that I can work with lots of different performers every time. When we are on stage, we feel invincible, like we are a force to be reckoned with, a hard nut family with a heart of gold that everyone wishes they were part of. You have described your performance work as exploring facets of your own identity through ‘exploding’ autobiography. Can you give a couple of examples of this that you have found particularly rewarding and the sort of responses you get from audiences.
Hi Laura. Dee’s Klub Karaoke singers at the Arts Lick Party the other night was a lot of fun and for something so seemingly ‘nonAll of my work comes from me; it’s all an unpicking of serious’ has stayed with me. How was it for you? Can you fill me in on a bit of the think- my personality and experiences. I fully admit to being ing behind it? Thanks for saying so! Klub Singers’ Klassik Karaoke Klub is a lot of fun to perform and (I hope) to experience. I originally came up with the piece for the Impossible Lecture stage at Beacons Festival in August this year, where we premiered it and went down a storm (no pun intended, even though Hurricane Bertha was unexpectedly on the line up). I wanted to come up with a roadshow performance that can go anywhere and drag in a load of people who are “up for it”, both as performers (I call them “turns”) and as audience/participants.
‘Donna Kebab’ Photo by Kevin Ryan
I do love a working men’s club, having spent a fair bit of my youth in a few, not least the Brudenell Social Club where I cut my teeth on some incredible alternative live music as a teenager. I love the glitter next to the grime, the fake tan and the false teeth all in one room. When it comes to a venue like Brudenell, Bethnal Green WMC or the Peckham Liberal Club for example, I am overjoyed by the way art, music and subcultures can sit side by side with old fellas drinking cut-price bitter and kids messing around in the car park. It’s like I’ve finally found a place where some of my weirdest friends can hang out with some of my weirdest family and there’s a bit of an air of animosity but ultimately no threat. So, I decided to make my own, nomadic social club just for me, for my kind and for anyone I chose to invite along. I called it the Lower Rankin Workin Wimmin’s Club and made a show set in it a few years back. Basically, the setup of the show is that I, as my alter ego, Dee MacDonald, lead a troupe of “professional” club turns in a karaoke extravaganza. Each of us comes armed with a few songs, which we perform to get the crowds warmed up. We also invite audience to sign up for karaoke, but on the proviso that it’s a bit of a laugh and that no emphasis is put on talent at all. Kudos is given to the most ridiculous performance a participant can muster and we often give instructions that songs are sung entirely in the style of, say, Jonathan Woss (Ross) Sings the Hits. There’s a degree of risk for participants, which is exciting! Ultimately though, there’s a shared responsibility between performers and audience, for being absolutely absurd and outrageous, so everyone feels like they are in it together.
This is a bit of a stinker but I know you work in a lot of ‘live art’ contexts. What does ‘live art’ as a discipline/genre mean to you and how did you get into it? I don’t really care what name anyone chooses to assign to what I do. Some would refer to it as live art, some performance art. I doubt what I do would be called theatre and I hate that term myself, but if someone wants to call it theatre, who am I to object? I know some people hate the term “live art” because it could imply that other art forms are “dead” but I don’t see it like that; the emphasis is on an experience that is fleeting and ephemeral, not a document or a static object. Definitely while I was living in Leeds I had a double life as an actor and being in a band. What I realised eventually was that the two could morph into another format that is basically what I do now. I reckon performance art, live art - whatever you call what I do - is dancing somewhere between being in Ruby Tombs and being in a play or a film. It’s everything and nothing I was looking for when I was in a band and in a theatre company. It’s much more liberating and flexible than either of those things and can encompass both. You seem quite happily to wear many hats and occupy many roles as an artist and art worker. Is this cross disciplinary approach your preference or is it a necessity? How are you finding London as a place to live and work in comparison to the offer ‘up North’? It’s not a preference - I’d love to be one of those people who are focussed and determined in one area! Neither is it entirely necessary, although it does help to be have multiple skills when trying to make a living and be an artist in London. Rather, it’s a result of my innate desire to learn and be and do as much as I can in one lifetime. As I mentioned, I have a short attention span, which I’ve now learned to use to my advantage a bit. I am basically greedy and want to be everywhere, trying everything out.
London is my home, to be honest. Part of me feels bad saying that as I am proudly a tiresome narcissist. One of my most successful pieces Yorkshire born and bred and I emblazon a ridiculous amount of my life (and friends, and lovers) with a I suppose, in terms of audience reaction, is InValid, Yorkshire White Rose, but I do feel the most comfortwhich I’ve performed twice in London and once in able in London. Of course it’s expensive and often Paris. It’s a durational, physical performance where I drag myself along the edges of an industrial or public just silly, but I love the choice here. Plus, everyone in London is united by the fact that it’s so bloody dear to space while other things are going on. It’s physically live here... and I love a good whinge! and emotionally very draining and I set myself some impossible physical goals that frustrate and often make physical marks on me. I’ve been told, even by those who know me best, that the performance gets something across physically that I can’t express in words. I also love that sometimes people forget (or pretend to) that I’m there at all, which is always what I’m trying to do in my work - to disappear - even when More information on Laura and her work can be found at www.lauramilnes.com. I’m really showing off.
‘Invalid’ Photo by Marco Berardi
‘Carriage’ Photo by Eva Rowson
Shellac “Dude Incredible” Touch & Go Records
I was once a huge fan of this band, not that you should care. It’s just worth noting as I think that most of us have a band or musician whom because you have been a huge fan of, you sometimes can spend a long time persuading yourself that they aren’t shit anymore, despite knowing deep down that their powers have been waning into the brown for some time. After seeing them play live a few times in the early 2000s I watched Shellac become a self-important parody of themselves, culminating in 2007 when they released ‘Excellent Italian Greyhound’, an indulgent, terrible record made by the worst type of band - an arrogant band. Post 2007, having severed touch with the group like an old friend that you still care about but now find utterly tedious, I recently noticed the release of ‘Dude Incredible’ and it vaguely piqued my interest. How relevant is a new Shellac album in 2014? Not very. On the one hand, there isn’t much wrong with this album if you like the band. It has the sound; the roomy thunderous drums, the fantastic scratchy guitar sound, Bob Weston on bass. It attempts the cocky Albini swagger, but unlike the 80s and 90s he doesn’t have much to be upset about anymore. The music industry is now dead and everyone listens to vinyl again.
U2 Ravioli Me Away “Songs of Innocence” “The Inevitable Island Records Album”
Shield Your Eyes “Reciprocate”
On September 20th, 2014, the world recoiled in horror, as people awoke to find that Bono & his band U2 had somehow infiltrated their personal cyberclouds. U2, like a sick demented mole, had buried their way onto every Apple product ever made. Not since 1941, when the upper echelons of the Nazi German government issued themselves as a set of Top Trumps has the world seen a less welcome publicity stunt.
Prolific doesn’t really do this band justice. London-based blues rock power trio Shield Your Eyes are rapidly churning out albums with consummate regularity and ease. ‘Reciprocate’ is their 6th long-player in almost as many years, the first to feature new bass player Dearblha Minogue, and probably their finest record thus far.
It’s not surprising that U2 managed to pull this feat off. One glance at Bono’s Wikipedia entry tells you all you need to know; he does in fact own The World. Bono’s ‘invasion of Poland’ if you will was a subtle tactic, appearing in every single music documentary, regardless of genre, made between 1989 and 2011. Care not did Bono that he knew nothing of the artist being featured. ‘I saw De Levellers play in Dublin and it started a revolution’ he would drone. Very soon, Bono had more time on your TV screen than Ant, Dec and Moira Stewart put together. All of a sudden, Bono owns Facebook, Burger King, BP, Primark, Tesco. Even The Edge is famous. Next step, full on blanket coverage of the media. Bono is in your bed, he is tapping your phone calls, he is trying to date you on Tinder. It’s not that Bono wants you to hear his new record; that is the disturbing part of all this. He just wants you to know that he is watching you. And if he wants the new U2 album in your life, it is in your life. This is Big Brother Bono-reality.
Good Job Records
In their ‘Inevitable’ debut long-player London trio Ravioli Me Away have effortlessly hit the sweet spot where rhythmic know-how, irreverent delivery and unrestrained imagination converge into a sprightly mulch of irresistible body-moving songs that stylistically stitch together both the minimalist post-punk and overtly pop sounds of the early 80s with scraps of new wave mutant disco and synthesiser music. The palette is a sparse one that echoes the reductive aesthetic of bands like Young Marble Giants or Delta 5 in that every component of the sound - the strident, upfront ESG-funk of the bass, the tribalistic clattering of the pared-down drum set and the crystal clear twinklings of the keyboard - is clearly defined, hanging in its own isolated space. The three-part vocals work in perfect counterpoint to one another - Sian Dorrer flitting between snappy Bethan Peters shout-outs and full-lunged Siouxsie-style bellow, Rosie Ridgeway’s drawn-out almost indecipherable chatter and Alice Theobald’s dry, frequently hilarious spoken word.
The thing that seals the deal with RMA is the ever-present humour at the root of subject matter that certainly doesn’t lack substance. Interpretations of feminist politics, infatuation, casual misogyny, professional aspirations, female biology, unrequited love, the economy under David Cameron (who unknowingly makes a cameo at the beginning of At their best, Shellac were the perfect the supernatural narrative of ‘Imaginaanti-rock band. A blend of the best riffs And the music? Songs of Innocence. tion’) are subjects all smartly dealt with of AC-DC, the silliness of Cheap Trick, in neat, song-sized appraisals with an backed with the solidity of John Bonham. There is nothing innocent about this endlessly quotable stream of lyrics. “Do bullshit. If you thought ‘Discotheque’ The problem is that classic rock music doesn’t exist anymore. No-one listens to was mind-numbing and ‘Beautiful Day’ you remember Faithless at Creamfields ’98? You tore off my tights with your it, no-one cares about it. So what exactly like having your toe-nails ripped out by are Shellac trying to de-construct? They Adrian Chiles, then you need to prepare teeth in your Volvo estate” goes the fauxyourself. I would rather be strung upside nostalgic reminiscing of ‘Romantic Amjust sound like a band recycling riffs, down inside a shipping container in nesia’, “You’ve got a small head but it’s running out of ideas and flat out of Guantanamo Bay, watching endless epi- right on your body” is one of the many intensity flawed compliments in ‘Hit By Love’, and sodes of Emmerdale, whilst electrodes are poked into my eyeballs, than ever the unexpected “Can I get an XY/Can I By Mike Botting hear this album ever again. get a Y” call-and-response of ‘Estrogen’ is just the tip of it. For those of you looking for something new to slide in next to By Mike Botting your Bush Tetras, Beards, Raincoats and Cleckhuddersfax records: permit yourself to be Raviolied Away. By Souki
Romac Puncture Repairs
Released on their own ‘Romac Puncture Repairs’ label, this record comes with little in the way of fanfare or self-acclaimed plaudits. It feels like a functional release, something to support the band’s touring schedule and a record in the mould of their live show. The instantly notable aspect to the refreshed line-up is that the bass plays a more refined supportive role, allowing Stef Ketteringham’s guitar-work to come to the fore. Stef is one of the greatest guitar players I’ve had the pleasure of seeing play, with a style, tuning, technique and subtlety of his own. The guitar work leads us through 11 tracks of progressive modern blues rock with more obvious influences of Taste, Axisera Hendrix, whilst also reminding me of the classic rock components that made Spy Versus Spy and early Karate stand high above their emo-rock peers in the late 1990s. Stand out tracks include the laid-back slacker daze of ‘Perpetual Blues’ and the haunting ‘False Neutral’, the latter propelled by the controlled but chaotic drumming of Henry Grimes. The album has a loose, live feel which suits the more extended instrumental passages. The two tracks that were recorded livein-concert appear and fade, seamlessly slotting in with the rest of the album. Perhaps it takes being this prolific to get to stage where Shield Your Eyes currently are; technically great with an effortless ease. ’Reciprocate’ is testament to the amount of touring the band has done over the last few years, a real beacon for the perhaps lost art of honing your craft on the stage, gelling as a unit and ultimately allowing your music to do the talking. By James Islip
Anand Patwardhan A Cinema of Songs and People Review by Amelia Crouch
Near the start of Anand Patwardhan’s 1985 documentary Hamara Shahar/ Bombay: Our City a female interviewee says: “without money I have no voice.” Then the film cuts to a shot of three musicians, singing a protest song. It begins: “Listen to our Story, listen to this workers’ tale” and it continues – threading throughout the film’s 75 minutes – to recount a story of power, corruption and oppression. The lyrics echo the words of slum dwellers interviewed in the documentary who speak about their struggle to live in Bombay in the face of persistent demolitions and attempts to move them on by the city authorities. Along with three more recent shorts by Patwardhan, made in slum communities, Hamara Shahar/ Bombay: Our City strives to give voice to impoverished inhabitants and workers who have been essential to Bombay’s (now Mumbai’s) economic development but who have been marginalized and ignored. The films have a social-political objective intertwined with a concern for the politics of representation. How can the filmmaker give voice to the slum community and what potential do artistic representations have to enfranchise people and effect political change? Hamara Shahar/Bombay: Our City unfolds slowly through interviews and via footage of daily life in the slums, counter-posed with images of high-rise, glitzy Bombay. A shot pans around the lavish home of the city commissioner whist he inveighs that others cannot just put up homes where they like. Later we hear from slum dwellers that work in construction, building swish apartments for a meager salary whilst their own makeshift homes are repeatedly destroyed. We witness a meeting of city advertisers being cajoled into making positive representations of the city, as if the hutments are only a problem of image. A slum dweller retorts, they want to “push us into a corner, [to] make it shine.” There is no voiceover monologue to cohere what is depicted, the film’s’ success is its pointed juxtapositions and multiple voices. Running in parallel with the interview and documentary content is the protest song and several scenes of street theater by Vilas Ghogre, a Dalit musician who Patwardhan collaborated with. The film periodically cuts to Ghogre’s band and to street performances watched by a large, amused crowd. For slum resi-
on me as I read the subtitles on screen for their meaning. Having said this, the films’ strength is in the empathy they elicit and where We are Not Your Monkeys looks to the past and the importance of a specific history The Children of Mandala foregrounds the universal experiences of childhood and play, with children in one situation reaching out to children in another.
The question remains: can the films themselves be agents for social change? A 1986 press release, included in the exhibition, suggests uncertainty. In the release Patwardhan struggles with whether to accept a national award for best non-feature film for Hamara dents – for whom access to education Shahar/Bombay: Our City because he is is difficult and literacy presumably low aware that the film has not changed the – these performances are likely to have Patwardhan acknowledges the potential situation of the slum dwellers depicted. served a communicative role in addition We know today that slums persist and it for his work to objectify impoverished to their entertainment value. For the film is hard to watch the film without thinking people – one woman in Hamara Shaviewer the humor and creativity of these har/Bombay: Our City reprimands him about the subsequent children who have scenes humanises the slum dwellers. saying: “you take photos to make your grown up in these dire conditions. This They act as a counter to depressingly faname…don’t take photos of the poor.” ambivalence – around the films’ impact miliar comments made middle class city – makes this exhibition more complex; But his films are nuanced and though residents who bemoan that slum dwellthey represent a particular situation, the it does not pretend to present simple ers don’t mind living in sewer conditions answers to the complicated problems questions of power, wealth and corso long as they can buy a fridge or TV, of global capitalism. Patwardhan’s films ruption raised by the films transcend a that they have too many children who specific place or time period. This makes have not been widely seen in the UK they can’t look after or that they should and I think it is important that they are them affecting and important even 30 go back to the villages they came from. shown here. Bombay’s slums may seem years after Hamara Shahar/Bombay: Ghogre’s music is intricate, the lyrics reremote from us but the issues foreOur City was produced. flective and the theatre is darkly comic. grounded in these films ought not be. In one sketch the distress of a man The films may not with diarrhea at a directly help slum broken community dwellers, howtoilet is interrupted ever they can – like by a visit from an Ghogre’s street electoral candidate. theatre – raise The candidate says awareness and he brought taps to influence opinthe slums last year ion. In Hamara and if they vote for Shahar/Bombay: him again, he will Our City we learn bring water to those that some of the taps. police mobilised to demolish slums are Patwardhan’s use former slum dwellof song and rhyme ers themselves. The continues in the two security of a mushorter films We are nicipal job and the Not Your Monkeys resulting ability to (1996, 5min) and support their famiThe Children of lies compels them Mandala (2009, to act against their 5min). The former is peers. Similarly we structured around an anti-caste song coall, as global citizens, make individual The final short film Occupation Mill written with Dalit poets that criticises the Worker (1996, 22 min) has a particular choices complicit in the oppression of Hindu epic Ramayana. The latter shows resonance in Bradford, bearing in mind others. We try to push poverty into a children from Mandella slum playing, corner, out of our minds, in order to live this city’s textile history. Bombay – we learning the alphabet and chanting a are told – had a thriving textile industry comfortable lives. Patwardhan implores message of support to children in the us to look and to listen. Hamara Shauntil mill owners discovered they could Swat valley. For me, We are Not Your make more money by closing mills and har/Bombay: Our City is harrowing but Monkeys was harder to get a handle on it too finishes with a call to action and selling off their land. The film docubecause I am only superficially familiar a glimmer of optimism. Ghogre’s song ments events from 1992 when workwith the epic, however the film’s incluends: “When the workers rule, there will ers forcibly entered Bombay’s New sion made me conscious of the posbe food for everyone” and, as he sings, Great Eastern Mill after a four-year sibility for misinterpretation or simplistic the camera pans along lines of police lock out. Workers hold protests, watch interpretation of unfamiliar cultures. I men, stopping for a moment from their film screenings and attempt to clean had previously assumed the Ramayana job of demolitions and simply listening. old machines. They are confronted by to be a straightforward representapolice and some are arrested. Then, tion of historic Hindu beliefs; this film after a two-year struggle, they achieve suggests that it is contested. Watching a court order to reopen the mill. The Patwardhan’s works I am aware that my film finishes here and we do not know understanding may only be partial. It is whether they were ultimately successful. clear, for example, that the Dalit songs Nonetheless Patwardhan’s choice to end A Cinema of Songs and People are much more musical in their original ran at Gallery II, University of Bradford on a positive note demonstrates optirhyming Hindi and some of this is lost mism about the potential for change via 18 September - 23 October 2014.
AN INTERVIEW WITH Anand Patwardhan By Amy Charlesworth Amy Charlesworth, who organised the A Cinema of Songs and People exhibition as part of her role as Curator of Art at University of Bradford, asked Anand Patwardhan how he felt about the way his films are disseminated and the contexts in which they are experienced, specifically as part of a gallery exhibition in Bradford. This was his response. In the first instance I make films that speak to my own immediate concerns in a cinema language that I feel comfortable with, but somewhere at the back of my head is always the hope and desire that these films become useful. As most of my films typically were born in response to a set of human rights violations or to combat one or the other man-made disaster, they often focus on moments of human tragedy and injustice. In these situations I do not feel I have the right to film at all unless I can convince myself that the films will be useful to the people they are about. Of course such a film’s “job” is not merely to be a morale booster or a dialogue initiator for the subjects of the film, but also to cross pollinate the world with the voices of those who were traditionally denied a voice. So it is important that these films get seen not only within the communities they are about, but travel to other parts as well.
It is in resolving these seemingly separate impulses that one can fall into the dilemma of choosing a primary target audience, and consequently, one’s mode of address. While my entry into the art world is both new and somewhat
in this world. If I do not use these, it is a matter of choice. Despite the fact that it would have given me much greater financial stability I decided very early in the game not to make films according to what was easy to market in the first
accidental, over the last 40 years I have travelled to enough international film festivals and met enough gate keepers of the television and cinema space in the first world to know exactly what cinema language and treatment works
As for the art world, my experience as I said is very limited so I hesitate to talk beyond first impressions. I see a new interest in political engagement, which is welcome, but I also see how surfacelevel it sometimes can be even when well meaning. It may have something to do with who engages with this art, to understand why even slight political world. I believe that the first world does allusions and poster level politics are itself a disservice when it dominates the considered to be radical. Bradford is a cultural space and determines taste and working class, ethnically diverse city and sensibility rather than listen more atten- I’d be interested to know how people tively to what is already out there. Today here engage. TV channels and film funds are willing
to pump money into “co-productions” and films that take them on board editorially and stylistically but their budgets to acquire and screen work that did not originate or get nurtured in the first world are virtually non-existent. I decided that the only concession I would make for audiences outside would be to subtitle the films. Despite the fact that I’d like my films to travel well, I am not willing to reduce complexity and local nuance, nor willing to couch peoples’ resistance in a language that makes it palatable to distant consumers. Specifically I want my first world audiences to work hard and if they do, I know they will be rewarded much more than if they restricted their understanding to good looking travelogues.
By Luke Drozd from his publication Threnodies available from www.lukedrozd.com
On Artist Film by Derek Brainhurt
In our occasional series on facets of contemporary art we have asked Ilkley’s premier armchair art critic, Derek ‘I know what I hate’ Brainhurt, to pick an issue upon which to reflect. Whilst, like any right-minded art lover, I have a preference for the true art forms of representational drawing and figurative painting, I have come to accept that ‘new media’ such as photography, collage and, now it would seem, even the moving image, are here to stay in the galleries I so often love to get wound up in when visiting once every few months. Indeed, it was only recently that an authoritative national paper revealed that London’s The Turner Prize - always a haven for depraved abstraction - features no less than nine and a half hours worth of ‘artist film’ to endure. A haven for workshy layabouts no doubt, but what of the rest of us with the real life obligations of work, family and serial complaining? Well, for one thing, I have learned that in this context one should not approach the work as one would a proper film. It would appear that the artist who chooses film as his form of expression cares not for entertaining, nor for telling a story with a beginning, middle and an end - as centuries of civilisation have taught us. Instead these ‘video artists’ prefer to subject viewers to ‘installations’ of overlaid nonsense, with little or no consideration for when or where the viewer enters. And take heed: DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT setting up a seat in front of the screen (even a portable one), nor order a small tub of rum and
ing. What kind of sane person is going to opt for 90-minutes of looped handprocessed 16mm film with a soundtrack made from processed field recordings interrupted by contact mic feedback, when they could be watching Liam Neeson saying ’I will get you’ and then going out and killing baddies. I know which I’d rather let my grandchildren watch on a Sunday afternoon! My advice to aspiring artists wishing to take advantage of the current fad for moving pictures, would be to spend a little less time studying the Flux Films of Yoko Ono, or the fast cut documentation of Otto Muel’s ‘actions’, or the durational likes of Empire by Andy Warhol, and instead spend that time getting acquainted with the tight and masculine performance by Matt Damon in The Bourne Ultimatum, or Tom Cruise being lithe and charming in Mission Impossible raisin ice-cream, unless you want to in- shame as I had up until that point found (One, Two or Three; they’re all brilliant). cur the indolent and disrespectful wrath it quite hilarious. It is this sort of classic craft they should of the gallery staff. be teaching in art schools unless we risk Artist films, so I’m told, aim to chalerasing traditional skills from our once Nor should one hold out for any famous lenge and expand minds rather than great nation’s culture and suspensenames or recognisable faces in the cast bow to the standardising pressures of filled action thrillers become a relic of mainstream consumer taste. If this al- not even a cameo from a TV funny a past age, replaced by the BARBARIC lows filmmakers to earn a living from man like Wogan or Clarkson. During a FILTH of site-responsive projection mapcreating epilepsy-inducing flash-fests I recent film that I was subjected to in a ping and multi channel mixed format gallery it occurred to me that the female can see exactly why you may take that time-based sculpture. option over the years of craft that went lead who walked around in decreasing into honing a Hollywood classic like, for circles whilst reading aloud a cut-up textual score comprising found elements instance, the Die Hard series. Given the Til next time, art lovers. of takeaway menus and junk mail mixed choice between sitting through a threeNext time Derek casts his eye on ‘social hour video essay about the politics of with fragments of Samuel Beckett’s popractice’ that aims to work with peoetry was none other than Dinner Ladies’ class in postindustrial Africa or watchple from different ethnic and economic Victoria Wood. But there was no mening Bruce Willis crawling around in a tion of her in the credits so it must have filthy vest targeting terrorists with exotic backgrounds as co-producers of an artwork. just looked a bit like her - which was a accents, I know what I’d rather be do-
FOOD REVIEWS by Bernd Palate
This month, Bernd has some less than favourable eating experiences in Leeds.
A cursory look through the menu in the recently opened Leeds restaurant and never have you seen such confused branding. One burger is called ‘River Phoenix’ whilst none of the other food dishes are named after people. Is this simply because poor River is dead? Dead as a burger, a fine legacy.
Fresh from their recent debacle in Leeds, where they decorated their bathrooms in text promoting sexism, vanity and general self loathing, I just had to try out the Leeds restaurant, almost to see myself how silly this wave of UK BBQ is becoming.
‘Cheers you fucking bitch magnet’ I said as he gave me the change. He smiled meekly. I’m really not going to end up talking about the food here, which is OK if you like over-salted fast-food with the authentic flame-grilled taste of a botched insurance job.
I had the misfortune of eating in this sexist techno-dungeon whilst it was operating in Manchester. Almost Famous was ‘almost’ gaining a good reputation, before it burnt down.
pissing River Phoenix, well done, with a from the local Iceland on one of those 3 portion of Pho-King Crack Fries.’ I didn’t pack for £10 deals then this is the place feel very cool as I gave my order, I think for you. the barman thought I was a bit weird, inappropriate almost.
There’s some misogyny thrown in for good measure, ‘Bitch Juice’ is the first name on the ‘controversial’ cocktail list. Who does this appeal to? Surely the average ‘meathead’ would go to a more mainstream food outlet or am I simply being a bit uppity and easily offended? I tried to relax into the atmosphere and lingo a bit more so I went up to the barman to order; ‘Yo Bitch, I’ll have a
MSG laden, brightly coloured sweet gloop envelops every piece of mystery meat and frozen veg. You’ll have a hard time differentiating between any It’s perplexing that this Jeremy Clarksauce that isn’t black bean and the batson-inspired genre of BBQ / Meat tered chicken golf balls are obviously restaurants have not yet realised there inspired by the current trend for twice is a very short shelf life to this ‘banter’ fried chips. If by twice fried you mean banqueting. As far as I’m concerned, it’s cooked to death, left unsold overnight already run its course. and then cooked again the next day to ‘refresh’ them.
In order to escape the Leeds burger BBQ meat fetishists, I headed down to Bento King for a palate refresh. If you like your Chinese food like it was bought
Muck. Plain and simple.
CHERRY KINO Martha Jurksaitis aka Cherry Kino is an artist filmmaker and photographer who’s lived and worked in Bradford and Leeds for the last ten years. Coiner of the term ‘wondermental film’ to describe her work, and lover of all things analogue and natural we posed Martha a few questions by email:
What’s Cherry Kino up to at the moment? I’m editing a film I shot with three friends in Evoramonte in Portugal last December on 16mm. I’m also crowdfunding to self publish a book: Feels Like Velvet, Feels Like Rain: Polaroids and Poetry from the Finnish Forest. I’m also preparing to move to Portugal to live in a tiny wooden house in an olive grove. You collaborated recently with musician Kathy Alberici as Polymitas. Can you tell us a bit about the creative process and how it turned out? Kathy’s a great musician! We spent a free week in an old cottage in the South of France seeing what would emerge, based on a shared love of the sound work of Pauline Oliveros and the cinema of Franco Piavoli. We spent many hours having really interesting discussions about concepts and techniques, and
immersed ourselves in our environment, and the result was The Garden of Polymitas (premiered by The Wire Magazine). We then won a commission from CTM Festival in Berlin to create A Cine-Sonic Portrait of the Funkhaus Nalepestrasse: a triple 16mm projection performance with recorded and live sound, based on the old radio broadcasting complex of the former DDR in former East Berlin. We spent four months making field recordings – both cine and sonic - in some seriously dilapidated buildings as well as some opulent retro concert halls. Much of our work was done by stealth, as there were lots of places we weren’t really supposed to go.
its sensual reception. I’d say that the more the material is given room to kind of ‘come into being’ (i.e. the more the filmmaker merges with the material), the more sensually it is felt by the audience.
ers to do film gigs, and also I now collaborate with some musicians too in live performances. The DIY gig scene made me really aware that cinema could be experienced like a music gig, and that this format makes it differently accesThis idea means I tend to really take my sible. I still love the traditional cinema time with my filmed material. I never format too though, and the Hyde Park cut on first glance. One thing I learnt Picture House is my favourite in the is that footage that seems at first to be whole wide world! ‘deficient’ in some way, often reveals hidden depths. I watch the footage over What’s in the pipeline for Cherry and over and over again, sometimes for Kino for us to look forward to? nearly a year (like for the current film I’m editing), sometimes a bit quicker! I I want to make a hybrid experimenguess I try to cultivate a sensual aptal and narrative feature film shot on proach myself, so the images have as 16mm and Super 8 about vanilla which much room to speak as possible. I do could well take me to Mexico, Madagas-
I know you’re a music fan and have made some music videos. How do you approach maka lot of digital editing but am moving ing these? back to hand-splicing a lot, as I find it So far, I’ve been very lucky to only make encourages a more sensual connection with the footage, even though it can be music videos of my own choosing, and more time-consuming - and perhaps not out of desperation! I’ve been apbecause of this! proached by bands as an artist, and given free reign to make what I have in Do you take inspiration from mind, inspired by the track. I wouldn’t like to work in a directed way being told your surroundings in your work or consciously respond to the a narrative to work to. I’d absolutely contexts you work in? How do love to make a music video for Mount you feel Leeds and Bradford imKimbie, Anna Calvi, and Bjork! pact on what you do? You have an interest in synaesthesia. How does this phenome- My films are quite varied, but many of na influence your work, if at all? them are rooted in a place, and some of these places are very local, whether it’s Chapeltown Carnival, Saltburn I think it’s possible to generate a sypier, Malham, Ingleton Waterfalls or naesthetic effect through cinema that is the Leeds Corn Exchange. Quite often, made ethically, through letting the film material enter you to such an extent that though, I just respond with my camera it tells you what to do with it, rather than to wherever I am. But I’m thinking of you putting a structure onto it, and with a few new approaches at the moment, involving more theatrical set ups, and a collage-like approach to analogue film material. I believe we’re all synaes- staged acts. thetic, and only need to find ways of The DIY music scene in Leeds and Bradaccessing this kind of perception, and that the method of production of a work ford definitely influences my approach, in that I used to invite a lot of filmmakof cinema can be totally connected to
car and Canada for filming. Another is a live performance of ‘alchemy’ films based on alchemical elements, where the image and the sound are made by the same material. I’d love to do this at Alchemy festival in Hawick, a gorgeous intimate film festival in the Scottish borders that has a wicked programme. I’m also talking with Derelicht sound and art agency about the possibility of working with them on some sound and visual art projects. And me and Kathy are also thinking about a new rhythmical cinesonic piece inspired by sufist whirling.
The Cherry Kino website is now up and running so watch this space! www.cherrykino.com
The Summerlin Engineer Artist Dictionary by Chris Summerlin
“In the begining was the word. And the word was sound” The Bible. In many respects, the creation of the known universe by a single bearded man can be likened to the process of a gig (or a ‘show’ if you’re American, or a ‘concert’ if you’re my Mum). The only point needing clarification in that simile is: who plays the role of God? Is it the band, who have crafted
their music for you the audience, possibly in 7 days (probably resting on the Sunday)?
at best, a test of diplomacy and compromise and, at worst, an ego war that both sides lose.
Or, is it the sound engineer who ultiWith that in mind, here’s a handy mately controls this micro-universe with (though by no means comprehensive) just their fingertips? guide to translating those heat of the moment comments and actions. It’s This age-old battle of wills is why taken from actual events (from both successful (i.e. wealthy) bands travel sides of the battle). Cut it out, refer to it. with their own engineer and why the process of touring for smaller bands is,
Through monitor, mid-gig: “Turn that amp down, you little bastard”
“The guitar is making it hard to hear the other components of the band in the way I assume is required and thus I am distressed”
“My amp tone isn’t the same at lower volumes”
Observing band setting up: “2 drumkits? What’s the point?”
“I have limited experience with 2 drummer bands and I either do not have the mics to amplify the extra drums or I simply cannot be bothered to plug them in. Either way, your artistic decision has made my existence harder”
“Years of playing toilet venues with a double stack have rendered me utterly without hearing facilities. I know my amp is putting out about 110db but it sounds like the wind rustling the trees to these ears. I essentially lip read my way through life”
Band member who isn’t the vocalist: “Can you turn the vocals down in my monitor please?”
“I hate the vocalist. I hate that they always get the bed and I’m on the floor. I hate that they never ever help me load in my gear. I hate their voice. I hate their face. What I am actually asking for, Mr or Mrs Sound Engineer, is that you turn down the vocalist in my life”
Vocalist: “Can I have more of me in the monitor please?”
“Please find me a new band. I hate this band. As soon as this tour is over I’m going solo”
Band member at soundcheck in huge empty room: “Is that reverb on the snare/guitar/my voice/electric violin/sousaphone/electric oboe/ keytar?”
“I do not understand the difference between reverb (the naturally occurring acoustic phenomenon) and Reverb (the artificial audio effect)”
“We have to stand in these positions onstage, our band is a natural, living, breathing entity and music is like telepathic communication between us so sight lines are vital”
“Our bass player has to stand near the hi hat so they can cue the changes for the drummer by way of pelvic thrusts. Please don’t make them stand elsewhere or we’re screwed”
Guitarist, having just been instructed to turn down by sound engineer: “Is that better?”
“I have not touched the knob I just pretended to turn. And if I have, I’m going to turn it right back where it was once the gig starts”
Guitarist, having just been instructed to turn down by sound engineer: “It’s on 1! If I turn down any more it’ll be off!”
“It’s actually on 8. I am calling your bluff because I know you will not walk over here and check. I am not turning it down and, if I do, I will turn it right back where it was once the gig starts”
Bass player: “Can you mic my amp please instead of DI-ing it? The tone is much better from the cab”
“As soon as I’m done soundchecking I am rushing to the toilet because I think my arse has popped out of my arse as I have just carried an Ampeg 8x10 up 3 flights of stairs and I’m going to damn well use it.”
Pointing at (large) amplifier: “Ha! You brought the wrong amp! I don’t even know why they make 4x12s any more...”
“My experience of larger amps is that it makes my job harder. I am also fresh out of sound engineering school and cannot comprehend of a band playing a venue that doesn’t have a full PA because my life experiences are thus-far limited”
Walks onstage mid-song and without warning adjusts knobs on amps
“You are too loud/too quiet/too bassy/too trebly and I have no respect for boundaries or property. If you lived with me you’d probably want to start putting name tags on your cheese, milk etc”
Observing band loading in: “You’re going to have to roll the treble off those Fender amps”
“I can identify equipment brands and I wish to judge you negatively based on these choices before I even know what you sound like. In summary: I am the boss”
“It’s not Wembley Stadium son”
If gig is not happening at Wembley Stadium: “Your instrument is disproportionately loud to my preconceived idea of how your band should sound in this venue” If gig is happening at Wembley Stadium: “I have geographical confusion”
Points to kick drum with front head and no hole: “I’m going to have to cut a hole in that”
“I do not credit drums as an instrument or drummers with the intelligence and ear to select their equipment based on how it sounds. Drums are drums, they all sound the same”
Male sound engineer to female band member: “Would you like me to get up there and play it for you love?”
“I believe that time is becoming an issue and would like the band to speed it along a bit. I also communicate with the opposite sex badly. As a result I will never truly be loved.”
“You know Brian May built his guitar from a fireplace. He plays it with a sixpence”
Drummer: “Can I have less guitar in my monitor please?”
“Our guitar player can’t play in time”
Walks onstage mid-song, mid-gig and covers snare with tea towels
“I am the in-house engineer at Birthdays in London and many of these examples are actual things I have said or done”
Band member gestures wildly and loudly berates the sound engineer for a perceived failing in the onstage sound, all visible to the crowd who begin to look at sound engineer.
“We probably could have done with one, maybe two more practices”
Turns house lights out and applies bright flashing stage lights for the band’s soundcheck leading band to stop in confusion, shielding their eyes from the blinding rays and ask why: “Well, this is how it’ll be in the gig lads”
“I am absolutely hat-stand, pant-shitting insane. You’ll be doing well if this gig even happens”
“I don’t care where you normally stand onstage, I’m not moving the drum monitor/bass DI/vocal mic. It’s not possible”
“Years of doing this job without reward have left me as the human embodiment of a shrug” Or “Everything is superglued to the stage” (Probably the former)
Slowly adds reverb/delay/flange/chorus/all of the above to the mix as the gig progresses
“I am very high right now”
Pointing to keyboard being loaded in: “That’s not on the tech spec so you can’t use it”
“I was bullied at school”
“Of course I read the tech spec”
“I did not read the tech spec”
Music / Art / Culture / Critique