Volume 32 Issue 6, Dec 5 - Dec 19
‘Investigating with the Camera’ Errol Morris’ David Lean Lecture for BAFTA Guru The much celebrated return of the documentary category to the 2012 BAFTAs was welcomed in this year’s David Lean lecture by none other than internationally renowned documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. He has now been making films for over thirty years and is recognised for such works as ‘The Thin Blue Line’, ‘The Fog of War’ and, more recently, ‘Tabloid’. His most famous film to date is perhaps ‘The Thin Blue Line’, in which, through the use of the camera in his investigations, he was able to get an innocent man released from death row. He says, “there are two powerful mysteries that concern me: what really happened- who killed whom- guilty or innocent? And then, there’s a deeper mystery- who are they? Why are they doing what they’re doing? What’s their motive?” It is these questions that led Errol Morris on his quest to find truth through documentary. He shied away from the conceptions of what documentary should be when he started cinema verite and direct cinema, which strive for objectivity with the use of handheld cameras and available light, and decided instead to embrace the idea of subjectivity. “I decided to do everything the wrong way. There is a way to capture truth in filmmaking. Truth is the central goal but it is an elusive one. Style doesn’t guarantee truth.” Instead, he believes the only way to have any chance of capturing truth is to investigate endlessly. When a member of the audience raises the idea that truth may only exist subjectively, he laughs in their face, branding their “nonsense”. “There is such a thing as truth. The truth,” he adds. When there is a murder, somebody was killed and somebody killed them. Although he uses reconstructions and talking head interviews to record his subject, he maintains he always approaches his subjects openly, never
having questions or presupposing answers before he arrives. The talk was streamed live on Guru, BAFTA’s new player. Launched at the beginning of November, this holds the academy’s video archive of talks with a whole range of industry professionals. Aimed at 18-30 year olds, especially those interested in a career in the industry, the site features editorials and blogs alongside the videos to provide vast amounts of information for the avid learner from the “best minds in film, television and videogames.”
Photographers, illustrators, cartoonists and writers - Email: play.editor@
Even more exciting than this, in the New Year they are going to extend the activities of the site so that it can act as a launch pad for young aspiring new creatives to upload their profiles and showreels for discussion. In this way, BAFTA are trying to bridge the gap between young people trying to get into the industry and the people already established within it - and get a correspondence going between the two.
Hearing an admirable fimmaker speak about his craft is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the inner working of the art form. The fact that this opportunity is now available internationally for people who cannot make it to the actual live talk or want to revisit it is an ingenuitive move from BAFTA, and I look forward to viewing many more enlightening talks. For further information see: www.bafta.org/guru Gwilym Lewis-Brooke
Flickr User: Nicolo Paternaster
4-5 Music +jazz +live review: capdown
6-7 Literature +musical marxists +review: The map and the territory
8-9 screen +winter warmers (not) +review: hugo
Kate Bush p.5 10-11 Stage +Review: la boheme + review: grief - mike leigh
12-13 Centre +Benjamin d - the heatwave
The Heatwave p.12-13
14-15 arts + Bloomberg new contemporaries 2011 +Paul Mccarthy
- Breton, Trosky, Rivera.
play editorsgwilym lewis-brooke Jake pace-lawrie
16-17 fashion +the perks of the press +the perks of the dress
Screen editorsaustin raywood, dakid katz
18-19 food +xmas Delights +Interview: Manish mehotra
stage editormatt williamson
literature EditorROBERT KIELY
20-21 travel +vietnam +interview: Emile Filou 22- Listings
We can say without exaggeration that never has civilization been menaced so seriously as today. The Vandals, with instruments which were barbarous and comparatively ineffective, blotted out the culture of antiquity in one corner of Europe. But today we see world civilization, united in its historic destiny, reeling under the blows of reactionary forces armed with the entire arsenal of modern technology. We are by no means thinking only of the world war that draws near. Even in times of â€˜peaceâ€™ the position of art and science has become absolutely intolerable.
ARTS editorTravis Riley
MUSIC EDITORSRICHARD HALL, RINA BUZNEA
FASHION EDITORS FLORENCE CORNISH, KATE VINE
TRAVEL EDITOR EMILY RAY
Food Editor Helena Goodrich
cover designgwilym lewis-brooke
brand designDanny WIlson
Where To Start With... Jazz
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
The Big Band Theory
By Richard Hall
something you'll find unmistakeable soon if performance. This will also give you an idea not already. Check out Duke Ellington of the different eras that characterise and and Count Basie for some fantastic stuff if categorise the vast genre that is jazz. I find Unless you're already familiar with you're into that. a couple of nice places to start are Louis the genre, the place to start probably isn’t Although the lines which Armstrong and Herbie Hancock. These where you think it might be. More to the distinguish genres are often blurred, some are two very different artists at different point, you've probably been exposed to a lot things are undoubtedly jazz and nothing ends of the jazz time-line. They also of jazz without even realising it. Jazz is a else. Perhaps the easiest way to spot jazz is collaborated with a large number of artists, wide-reaching genre and there is something when you hear an improvised solo. This so you'll discover many more names this for everyone. In this piece, I hope to give isn't limited to jazz alone, but solos way. Miles Davis's Kind of Blue - which you a few pointers of advice to in jazz tend to go on much longer, features artists such as Cannonball guide your journey. “break away especially live. Improvisation is Adderley, Bill Evans and John Coltrane – is As a jazz student, I have quite simply the whole point of a also a must-listen. started hearing jazz in nearly from lot of jazz; it's the break away from One massively important aspect of everything. If you don't listen to familiarity” familiarity, the creativity needed in jazz, which I think is often overlooked, is jazz, you almost certainly listen to order to find something new. contemporary jazz. It's all very well something jazz-based. Michael It’s important to remember that no listening to the old greats, but there are Bublé and Jamie Cullum take jazz one likes all jazz, given that it encompasses very few left alive to see and hear in the harmonies and rhythms that wouldn't quite so much – so it’s worth persevering, flesh. It may seem a little old-fashioned sound out of place on a vinyl, but people even if you don’t immediately find compared to internet-based browsing, but simply don't call it jazz any more. This something you love. If you don't listen to one of the best ways to get to know happens because rock, pop, soul and funk much instrumental music, start off with contemporary artists is on the radio. I stem from the same seeds as jazz - the songs, preferably ones you've heard before. personally recommend BBC Radio 3, blues. Sounds which developed as 'jazz' If you're a Muse fan, for example, 'Feeling which regularly hosts new, top-notch artists soon became popular in other genres Good' is in fact an old jazz standard. 'The from across the world. 'Jazz on 3' is a probecause they fit in, and vice versa. Lady Is a Tramp', 'Cry Me a gramme I have found to be parSome bands, like Jamiroquai, River' and 'Route 66' are a few ticularly good, hosting a have taken more contemporary aspects of “a path of more to get you started. Listen to notably diverse range of jazz jazz into the mainstream and this isn't hard versions by instrumentalists and discovery to all artists. to spot. A more subtle example is Stevie try to separate yourself from the Now for the most Wonder; look up the cunningly named sorts of exciting important words. part - seeing jazz Eivets Rednow for a jazz instrumental Once you've started record he brought out. From my musical places” live! Wherever you are in listening, the important thing is London, there will be jazz happerspective, it seems that what I hear as to know who you're listening to. If you hear pening within easy reach, often for a very jazz can easily be called something else a solo you really like, find out who's playing reasonable price. In Chelsea you have the depending on who's listening. it. If there’s an amazing big band sound you 606 Club, in Dalston the Vortex Jazz Don’t forget, it isn’t just bands and like then find out who arranged it. This will Club, while Soho is home to Ronnie singers that produce quality jazz material lead you on a path of discovery to all sorts Scott’s and the Pizza Express Jazz all those Disney films you've seen are full of of exciting musical places… If you use SpoClub. An indispensable publication, vital to jazz! The Jungle Book and The tify or Last.fm, finding similar tracks and all jazz lovers, is Jazz in London. It lists Aristocats artists will be a doddle. If not, don’t worry all the venues and events going on each offer perfect you can do just as much with YouTube, month, and it’s also available online! If examples of with the added bonus of seeing a you’re short of cash and just starting out swing music, By Ross Moore
The University of London Union Big Band is undoubtedly the best student big band in London, playing numerous gigs each year and attracting ULU’s top jazz musicians. On a par with many of the professional big bands in and around London, the group has played at prestigious venues including the 100 Club, the Bull's Head and the Rivoli Ballroom, to name a few. The group’s superb reputation extends beyond the capital, though. They’re in high demand all over the country, with their busy members regularly on the road. Last year, the ULU Big Band won many sought-after awards. Most notably, they gained first place at the London Universities Battle of the Big Bands before a panel of the city's finest jazz musicians. They have also been named ULU Society of the Year for the last two years. For further information on The University of London Big Band, including future gigs and how to join, check out ulubigband.co.uk or search for them on Facebook. with jazz, you should definitely think about hearing some fellow students play. London hosts some of the world’s best jazz institutions and there is no better place to start than the music colleges: Trinity, the Royal College of Music, the London College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall are all excellent centres of jazz education, and you can be sure to hear some world-class performances. It’s also a great way to meet others who are into jazz, as you’ll be surrounded by people your own age. Finally, my message is to share the music and musicians you discover! The more people you know listening to jazz, the more you will hear. Enjoy!
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
Live Review: Capdown
6 November @ KOKO
they masterfully own what can be an an atmosphere ideal for the headliners, UK overshadowing stage. ska veterans, Capdown. If you take the best Perhaps the most memorable of everything on show so far: the bouncy In an interview prior to the gig, moment of the evening came just before the brass of JB Conspiracy, the thrashy punk of Capdown bassist Boob told us how this was band belted out ‘Faith No More’, the The Filaments and the melodic reggae of a “back to our roots tour”. He warned us to opening track from Pound for the Sound. The Skints, then you may begin to expect “more of the older, quicker stuff” All four members gathered to take a group understand what Capdown are “sweat, thrash, double-time”. photo in front of the crowd. Despite having about. Having clarified that this He was not exaggerating. filled out Koko - no mean feat, especially After a warm up show “sweat, thrash, will be the band’s last show for a when they are, in their own words, “a band while, expectations are almost at the Purple Turtle across the double-time” that doesn’t really exist” - Capdown have impossibly high. Somehow though, road, excited fans stream into clearly not let fame go to their heads. With they manage to surpass them with the large-capacity Koko. Unlike no ego or pomp, their personal gratification typical ease. In a high-octane set, Capdown most concerts, the venue fills up nicely from playing live is evident from give the audience exactly what from the moment doors open, providing start to finish. They obviously they are here to see. In fact, lead the first support band JB Conspiracy with “raw energy cherish every opportunity they singer and saxophonist Jake an ample audience. They kicked off proproudly declares that “We like to ceedings with their familiar style of eneras a product have to play amongst fans and friends alike, emphasised by their think we are nothing if not getic ska, followed with a raucous set from of intense absence of late. Having witnessed predictable,” before caving in to UK street punkers The Filaments. As they the audience’s chants for crowddeparted, the crowd swelled in anticipation personal Capdown play live over the last ten years there is one thing that favourite ‘Ska Wars’. Audience of The Skints. excitement” remains consistent in their sets: satisfaction is the name of the Fronted by multi-instrumentalist raw energy as a product of intense game, with the band delivering all Marcia Richards, The Skints provided personal excitement. It’s for this very reaof their iconic tracks including ‘Cousin necessary respite from the punk-fuelled son that they have retained such a loyal folCleotis’, ‘Pound for the Sound’ and ‘A - Popits so far. But that is not to say that the lowing, and we sincerely hope that they will litical Stand of Reasons’ - the latter accomaudience was given time to relax. Instead, be back for more sometime soon. panied by a vicious wall of death, with Jake we are treated to an impressive offering of firmly rooted in the middle. Each song is reggae and dub, giving us an opportunity to To read David’s interview with executed with traditional Capdown fervour. dance the night away. Although deliciously Capdown in full, visit Showing no sign of having aged since the varied, the magical combination of london-student.net release of Civil Disobedients ten years ago, tonight’s support bands manages to create By David Hamilton
Album Review: Kate Bush, ‘50 Words For Snow’ By Faye Maxwell-Carr
Inspired by the captivating myth that the Inuit language has fifty words for snow, Kate Bush’s new release is a welcome change from the clichéd yet catchy seasonal albums that begin to befoul the charts around this time of year. “Set against a backdrop of falling snow”, this album centres around themes of love, loss and nature. Accompanied by pattering
drums and undulating melody, title-track ‘50 Words for Snow’ features an everdebonair Stephen Fry reciting some linguistically beautiful (“swans-a-melting” and “blackbird Braille”) and some downright silly (“ankle-breaker” and “bad for trains”) variations of the word “snow”. Bush heckles him for encouragement in the background: “Come on, man, you’ve got 44 to go!” Almost 14 stunning minutes are devoted to the track ‘Misty’. Giving Raymond Briggs’s children’s classic a voyeuristic twist, a snowman comes to life
in order to seduce the virgin girl who created him. The hopeless trajectory of ‘Misty’ gives all sorts of double meanings to the thinly veiled erotic subtext of Bush’s lyrics: “I can feel him melting in my hand” and “the sheets are soaking.” The hypnotic opening riff of ‘Wild Man’ leads to the album’s uncontested hit. Ethereal backing vocals and Steve Gadd’s pristine percussion accompany Bush’s narrative, in which she unearths evidence of the existence of the mythical Yeti, before concealing his footprints so as to prevent his discovery. The duets ‘Lake Tahoe’ and ‘Snowed in at Wheeler Street’ (with Stefan Roberts and Elton John, respectively) reveal Kate Bush’s vocal brilliance. Although the latter slips into tedium, the former is a rich and beautifully evocative work. The final track, ‘Among Angels’, closes the album with cyclical perfection, as Bush’s innocent vocals evoke those of her 13-year old son, Albert, who is present on the opening track ‘Snowflake’.
Single Review: Deadbeat Darling, ‘Promises’ By Travel Editor, Emily Ray New York band Deadbeat Darling have had an eventful history, despite their relatively unknown name. After finding success in NYC and selling out some of the city’s most prestigious music venues, the four-piece signed up to UK label Spearhavoc Records in March this year and swapped the backdrop of Brooklyn for a recording studio in Wales. But how has the laid-back Welsh air impacted on their musical temperament? Favourably, in fact. ‘Promises’, the first single from their new album, was released on November 21 and has already made its way onto XFM London’s regular rotation. A steady bass beat accompanied by a catchy riff weaves its way throughout the song, with husky tones supplied by lead Joseph King - it’s a tune that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Snow Patrol album. Climatic harmonies conclude in a powerful ending; but this is a band that likes to keep their listeners on their toes. Deadbeat Darling’s new album The Angel’s Share is due out January 2012. With input from Grammy-award winning producer Ken Nelson - who has worked with the cream of British talent including Coldplay and Gomez - you could say they’re not quite so deadbeat after all.
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
Michel Houllebecq, trans. Gavin Bowd, The Map and the Territory (London: William Heinemann, 2011), £17.99 Published 29th September 2011
At birth, the only inevitability in life is that you will die sooner or later. Everything else is, as they say, gravy. Michel Houllebecq’s latest novel, The Map and the Territory, is permeated by death: its main character, the artist Jed Martin, is the son of a mother who killed herself when he was seven. Later, his miserable, retired father, no longer standing the steady decomposition of his ageing body (doubly and bizzarely symbolised by his needing an artificial anus), goes to a suicide clinic in Switzerland to be euthanised. Famously, the book features Michel Houllebecq himself, commissioned by Jed to write the catalogue for his new exhibition. Houllebecq is subsequently murdered in a particularly gruesome fashion. And so it goes. This is an artist-novel which follows the three main creative periods of the friendless, singularly focused Jed Martin. During his prenticeship at the Beaux Arts in Paris, his tutors are fascinated by his project of taking photos of industrial, mechanical objects. Retreating for some years, he bursts onto the art scene with an exhibition, The Map is Better than the Territory: large photographic prints taken of Michelin roadmaps of the French countryside. He is instantly a success, and the prints sell at inflated prices. Jed suddenly decides that he is done with prints, retracts them from the market, and again retreats from public life. Ten years later, he reemerges with a new exhibition, consisting of large oil paintings of traditional and modern professionals, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Discussing the Future of Information Technology. The exhibition is, of course, an immediate success, and the paintings fetch prices of overa million Euros, catapulting Jed into a wealth he is completely indifferent to.
Jed is the central cipher of the novel. He does not seem to be motivated by any normal force. His approach to art is relentlessly single-minded, yet he never reflects on what he will make his next motif, how he will do it, or why. It is always intuitive, and he always reaps unimaginable fruits from his labours; nonetheless, he appears like an artistic idiot savant, completely beholden to unknown forces.
Houllebecq’s world seems to simple; even so, the story hints at something, unreachable, that transcends any schematic world-view. This might be frustrating. Though it is an enjoyable read, one wonders if there anything more to the book than its surface, whether the questions you ask upon finishing are provoked by the author or merely yourself. HALLVARD HAUG
Alastair Brotchie, Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), £24.95 matter for even the most academic of writPublished 1st November 2011 ing. At times the text is a swirl of salons and
Alfred Jarry (1873 –1907) is best known for his play Ubu Roi (1896), a fantastic farce and a forerunner to the surrealist theatre of the 1920s and 1930s in its absurd puerility (it was, in part, the product of school-children). He wrote plays, novels, poetry, essays and speculative journalism. His texts present some pioneering work in the field of absurdist literature. Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Gilles Deleuze, Jean Baudrillard, Philip K. Dick, Paul McCartney, DJ Spooky, Peter Greenaway, and J. G. Ballard are among his many admirers. He also invented a pseudoscience called 'Pataphysics, which he defined as “the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments.” A community of scholars and artists maintain a posthumous dialogue with Jarry's ideas through the College de 'Pataphysique in Paris. Alistair Brotchie’s biography is well-researched and wellwritten. He alternates between chapters on Jarry’s thought, and more clearly biographical, chronological ones. This is the first fulllength biography of Jarry in English, which shows how neglected he has been. This book has been saturated with details, names, and anecdotes. Jarry’s life and work make for interesting subject-
MAHATMA GANDHI BIO
names from Jarry’s circle: Mallarmé, Gide, etc., but such is the nature of a biography of such a well-placed individual. On the whole it is managed well. The book is also very well illustrated with photographs and reproductions of prints, which bring the text alive. There is no doubt that Jarry was revolutionary for his time. But for better or worse, he is no longer so. I am reminded of a great anecdote in the book: to upset people, Jarry painted himself totally green from head to foot, and planned to walk into his local café. However, his friend got wind of this and pre-warned the people in the café. Jarry entered and strode up to order. He ordered, sat down, and no-one batted an eyelid. He approached his friend, and asked him if he noticed anything unusual today. “No, not at all,” the friend replied. Jarry left. To be blunt, and render this explicit: we have been prewarned through his immense influence on figures such as Ionesco, and though he is undoubtedly green, Jarry has little to say to us. Such, perhaps, is the fate of all the avant-garde. Brotchie’s biography is commendable for reanimating him nonetheless, and his work, and this biography, will be a treasuretrove to those interested in movements such as Surrealism. SAMANTHA MARENGHI
Douglas Allen, Mahatma Gandhi (London: Reaktion Books, 2011), £10.95 Published 15th November 2011 We’re all familiar with Gandhi’s inspirational catchphrases. But dig a little into his life and one finds a human being, full of flaws and miscalculations, at times selfish and naive. Douglas Allen’s biography of Mahatma Gandhi is fascinating and insightful. He does not shy away from discussing problematic aspects of Gandhi’s world-view. Gandhi would often retreat from public life to fast and purify himself when, it seemed to others, he was still needed as a leader. But his fasts often provided startling results, such as ending Muslim-Hindu violence in Calcutta in 1947.
Some rather unsavoury aspects of Gandhi are his stupendously naive advice to the Jews, to reach out lovingly to the Nazis and suffer willingly at their hands, and his bizarre "brachmachyara sexual experiements with young women." This included him openly sharing his intentions to sleep with naked young women, especially with his grandniece Manu, to ‘test’ his chastity. Mind-boggling stuff. The educational and economic reforms he advocated were also rather unpractical, and their are arguments that can be made that his views on education led to the early death of his son. Allen’s biography is insightful, and highlights his key inspirations (including Tolstoy), and the ways in which Gandhi’s views changed. After detailing his life Allen
moves on to Gandhi’s philosophy, developing it and attempting to show that Gandhi himself would realise his mistakes with regards to his seemingly predatory sexuality and naive views on the Jews and Nazis. These controversies certainly should not overbear the deserving respect accorded to Gandhi and his phrases; but nonetheless, we must remember he was human, and as such flawed. We would do well to remember this when we hear a Gandhi soundbite, or from an equivalent such as Osho. SAMANTHA MARENGHI
Small Press: The Association of Musical Marxists’ PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
The Association of Musical Marxists have come onto the publishing scene in London with Unkant publishing, and they plan on changing our minds about some things. Their manifestos are playful and invigorating (“For US, music is a test of you and everything about you, and if you fail that test YOU ARE THE ENEMY!!!”), and set out their mission to escalate the current state of unrest, to take ideas seriously and liberate Marx from the academy. They go on: “Capital and Finnegans Wake and Negative Dialectics are only ‘unreadable’ from the perspective of police reality. That's because they invite a new interpretation every time they're looked at. Like Stewart Home's antinovels, these books make us laugh and ACT.” (Stewart Home, an anti-art artist and voluminous writer, has a critique of the magazine and organisation Green Anarchist being reissued by Unkant soon.) Their meetings are a mix of music, poetry, theory and politics. Through this mix, through not respecting boundaries, they hope to foster broad and exciting discussion. They are pro-Occupy, pro-Iancu Dumitrescu, James Joyce, Theodor Adorno, etc. They are anti-kettling, and Anti-Kant (hence Unkant), i.e. anti his divisions between subject and object. At the moment the Unkant catalogue is a blend of history, poetry, and critical writing, a deliberate eschewal of boundaries between these things. “The idea is, people come to the meetings for the poetry maybe, but they should equally read Ray Challinor (a Trotskyist) on WWII, that’s just as important...” Insofar as the AMM have a plan, it is to keep releasing titles which perpetuate this mixing.
Ray Challinor’s The Struggle for Hearts and Minds is a collection of essays which polemicizes against the way the ruling-classes sold WWII to the working classes. The war, he contends, was not simply one of democracy vs. tyranny. This may provoke certain kneejerk reactions, but he is undoubtedly right. The collection also contains some insightful and sometimes entertaining cartoons which liven it up. (See above) Another book from Unkant is Sean Bonney’s Happiness: Poems After Rimbaud, previously reviewed in our pages. Another is Ben Watson’s Adorno for Revolutionaries, a collection of his polemical and
insightful mixtures of musicology, critical theory, and politics. It’s a great collection for it’s mix of music, Plato, Zappa, and Adorno: juxtapositions which surprise and stimulate me, though, as Watson says, seeing these juxtapositions as unusual is precisely the problem with how things currwently are. The whole is rounded off with a playful Joycean coda. The AMM is a four-headed embodiment of dialectics with imposing knowledge of Marxism (duh), Music, Poetry, History, and some other capitalised subjects, subjects they seek to de-capitalise. I met the AMM for a quick discussion, and, oracle-like, it spoke thus: AMM: Anyway, Jack Wright. He’s this free improvising saxophonist. To play good improv you’ve got to be yourself. To be yourself and play is a fantasy to the postmodernist – Wright proves the postmodernists wrong. [Riots and kettling are discussed] AMM: The avant-garde has a whole history of being interested in boredom. And with kettling, you realise the police are using it against us. Boredom has become a weapon. Same with S&M and Abu Ghraib. [Readings that the AMM did at Occupy London are discussed.] AMM: I feel a tension between the aimlessness of the ruling class, and the way these cops are riled up for what will go on tomorrow at the demonstration. Things will get out of hand. They always do. We’ve been at marches before with no camera-phones, no footage, and the impunity of police in those situations.... [A stall with beer and kids is discussed. Seventh beer passes.] AMM: Not being published by Cambridge people – it needs to go through another draft – it was fuzzy. Fuzzy? What do you mean fuzzy? I’ll eat my beerglass if it was fuzzy. Where’s this critique you’ve written? I fucking emailed it to you? [...] The AMM alsoplan on speaking at any University Occupations that will have them, and have delivered poetry and politics to groups in Hamburg and Occupy London. “We're keen to speak at any and all occupations.” If you’re looking for a stimulating night out on 15th December, check out the AMM’s next meeting at The Blue Posts, to hear trombonist Alan Tomlinson (who has recently played John Cage with Stewart Lee) and Lol Coxhill, plus speakers Sean Bonney, Keith Fisher, Andy Wilson, Ben Watson and more. Keep an eye on the Unkant blog (www.unkant.com) for more info on upcoming events and books. ROBERT KIELY
Small Press: if p then q if p then q is a small poetry press based in Manchester. Founded by James Davies in 2008, it focuses on experimental and minimalist poetry, “the more experimental the better.” It does not have, however, a manifesto, though it is “clearly against certain ways of pursuing poetry.” Their minimalist aesthetic is mirrored in the book design, a simple author name and title over a uniform colour. But books are not all they do, or plan on doing: as the submissions page says: “If you see your poetry as being published other than in a book, i.e. on a mug, etc, please explain in email. We are keen on these sort of ideas.”
Some of the press’ titles include photo-poetry compilations by the artist-collective “Joy as Tiresome Vandalism”, with fascinating full-quality photos of surreal imagery and absurd and payful poetry.
Tim Atkins’ 1000 sonnets is a set of 127 minimalist sonnets, a playful sequence, with lines left out (as the epigraph from John Ashberry suggests), and others taking you by surprise: “(Books written by mice)”, and a “search for sideburnians”.
I asked James Davies to tell me more: “The title of the press is a very distant allusion to Wittgenstein. I’d site him as one of the biggest influences on my own work. The term if p then q is a common one in mathematics meaning ‘if this then that’. So after reading an if p then q title you would have the formula ‘if this kind of poetry then this kind of experience’: I’ll leave the reader to fill in the exact word for the experience bit. “I set it up to promote the work of poets who I thought were tremendous. I am growing more and more used to the idea that my own work as a poet is done holistically. By this I mean that I can get similar satisfactions from a variety of things to do with poetry: writing, publishing, organising events and reading. I’d say there are a number of people who feel this way.” Modern innovative poetry indeed functions like this, with a circle of writers whose readers are often also writers. Some see this as clique-ish, but the fact seems to be that innovative poets sell as many copies to their community of writer-readers as any Faber poet. James Davies own work has received some attention from BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, in particular Plants, which has a series of witty ‘Unmades’. He is currently writing a book length poem “which picks up from some of the longer poems in Plants – a merger of the surreal, minimal, absurd and synaesthetic.”
American poet P. Inman’s Ad Finitum is a collection of sparse poetry. It is reticent material, atoms of language spread across a page in a seemingly ad hoc manner, or in tight textual squares, betraying... well, nothing. And I suppose that’s the point. It was a stimulating read for these reasons. Matt Dalby’s blog (http://santiagosdeadwasp.blogspot.com/) discusses the work more fully. Derek Henerson’s Thus & is another humorous piece, an erasure of Ted Berrigan’s Sonnets; notably still © Henderson, I always wondered how that works… The results are evocative, one wonders what has been left out, and have led this reader back to explore Berrigan’s work. Nonetheless Henderson’s pieces stand up by themselves. Most recently the press has published Holly Pester’s Hoofs, reviewed in our previous issue. Forthcoming from if p then q is a collected works of P. Inman. “We're currently typesetting it which is a huge job but very exciting to see such a huge body of Inman's work in one place. It really highlights how important he is; I can't think of any better poet since Gertrude Stein. Craig Dworkin has written a comprehensive and highly insightful introduction for it.” Collections are also forthcoming by Tony Trehy and Matthew Welton. This press’ output is fascinating, as the majority of experimental poetry is. if p then q’s output is consistently humorous and probing. If you are looking for something different, check out http://ifpthenq.co.uk/ for more info and order some poetry. SAMANTHA MARENGHI
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
What To Watch This Winter: A Seasonal Film Viewing Guide similar to all the films previously mentioned is meant to feel cold and bleak. But unlike other settings, this chilly atmosphere is not meant to dominate the film. Instead it is used to compare and contrast with how Joel and Clementine’s relationship is going. The best example of how it works is a scene early on, where love-struck Joel and Clementine are lying side by side on a frozen lake. They are framed and surrounded by images of cold and chill. With your wintry experience, you can even feel it. But contrasting with all this is the visibly strong affection between Joel and Clementine. The point is you feel the emotional warmth of their connection all the greater, for how it contrasts with the images of cold that surround them. Winter then gives us film-watchers greater capacity to feel what these winter-exploiting films want us to. The triggering of recent memories, with images of biting cold, miserable skies and bleak landscapes, can make a film feel more immediate, more real, and as such allows it to affect us more powerfully. For this reason I urge avoiding the inclination to turn to movies only to escape from the winter. Embracing the season will provide rewards as great, if not greater. ADAM BRODIE
Dir: Martin Scorsese
Kurt Russell in The Thing The trees are reduced to grasping skeletons, it’s getting dark way too early and I’m considering wearing an extra pair of socks winter has arrived. Normally, this is a time where people sit back in their comfy chairs, before some handy fire, to watch some similarly warm and comforting movies. Well, I’m here to tell you not to do that. For there is no better time than when you’re surrounded by the cold of winter, to really feel the power of the cold, dark and bleak onscreen. So pack away that schmaltz and read on, for examples of what movies you should be watching these chilly nights, and why. I shall start with John Carpenter’s The Thing. I would like to point out that in terms of quality, all these movies I mention are year-round movies. The Thing for example excels in execution. It’s a fairly conventional paranoid horror, but all its well-worn components are executed so well, that they still grip from start to finish. One especially important component is setting. Like most horror, The Thing is heavily influenced by Gothic literature, which rules that one of the key components of horror is isolation. Well, Carpenter takes that to the extreme, by stranding his characters on a base in the Antarctic. It’s an inspired setting, because it’s not a physical barrier that confines our heroes, but an environmental one. The
characters are imprisoned by the cold, as indeed, are you. At this time of year, every basic instinct you have is urging you to stay curled up and warm in whatever modern comfort has ended up replacing the prehistoric cave. You can empathise heavily with the feeling of being hemmed in by the cold, every morning you’re forced to get out of bed. Except, then imagine that instinctive desire to cling to warmth, conflicting with the fact there is an alien monster in your cosy shelter. That tension, between the danger without and the danger within, is a major part of the horror The Thing peddles. A more immediate comprehension of imprisoning cold makes said horror hit home all the more. But cold is far more than simply unpleasant. When combined with winter’s darkness, the grey skies and the fading away of natural colour, it can become oppressive. It’s very easy to feel weighed down by winter. And this is something Let The Right One In, Tomas Alfredson’s vampire masterpiece, can capitalise on. Alfredson’s film is geared towards creating a spellbinding atmosphere. Its monochrome landscapes, ugly buildings and long silences, reflect how trapped main character Oskar feels by the vicious bullying that dominates his life. If possible, what Let The Right One In’s surroundings convey makes them more important than those of
The Thing, considering how reliant the former is on its atmosphere. As said above, many people in winter-time already feel something like that weighty cloud hanging over them before they even start watching. I can think of no better mindset to get you into this movie. There are other examples of how the surroundings of winter can induce the sort of bleak-mindedness that a similarly bleak movie can capitalise on. My favourite choice for such would be Winter’s Bone. This is a movie which really rewards its audience having a somewhat hopeless frame of mind, with its slow-paced story about the troubles of main character Rhee, set against the backdrop of harsh Ozark society. But sometimes, having winter on the brain isn’t exploited to further enhance a negative tone, but to reinforce a positive feature. Such is the case with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Eternal Sunshine, apart from being both one of the greatest sci-fi movies and one of the most intelligent romcoms ever made, also displays how a commitment to a wintry setting can enhance how heart-warming a film can be. This time of year is a good time to watch movies set somewhere chilly, because you have far stronger memories of what real biting cold feels like for the film to tap into. Eternal Sunshine does all that: the setting,
Here’s a curious film: with this month’s Hugo, Martin Scorsese has been given $150 million to build a fantasy-replica of the Gare Montparnasse at our very own Shepperton Studios, all in service of a narrative concerning an orphan boy’s rediscovery of the presumed-dead early film pioneer Georges Méliès. Looking back to an era thirty years ago when Marty was grasping in a coke-stricken haze for financing, this represents something of a latter-day miracle, and a form of poetic justice for one of the cinema’s most beloved sons. That this huge and potentially lossmaking undertaking has turned out to be superb, and amongst the very finest films he’s made speaks even louder. Orphaned 10-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in the clocktower of a Parisian train station in the early 1930s, winding up the clocks and fixing an automaton left behind by his father. In a memorable turn of events, he stumbles upon the toyshop of the automaton’s creator, Georges Méliès (Sir Ben Kingsley), one of the inventors of narrative cinema, forgotten and consigned to obscurity. It’s at once a believably Dickensian coming-ofage story of a childhoon on the margins, and an impassioned plea for us as filmlovers to never forget the past, and maintain a vested interest in the medium we love so much. DAVID KATZ
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
Review: My Week with Marilyn
Review: Lotus Eaters
Dir: Simon Curtis
Dir: Alexandra McGuinness
The life and times of the Lotus Eaters
Courtesy: Getty Images
This is a touchy subject. It’s not as though people care if young rich people who were denied nothing, and subsequently have absolutely no moral compass are portrayed fairly; it’s rather that it’s just so easy not to care at all. While literature has revelled in the subject of mass consumption by what we nowadays call “the top one percent”, for decades film and television has had a few notable attempts, all failures, to tackle the subject head-on. TV shows like Gossip Girl and Made in Chelsea all revel in the falsity of their characters lives, completely missing the point of their incredible level of self-absorption and utter lack of empathy. These are supposed to be some of the most vacuous people on the planet; you don’t have to lie about them. The last film to try to tackle the subject in any notable way was the 1987 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s classic cult novel Less Than Zero. Ellis wanted a clean adaptation of many of the horrors included in his novel (i.e. snuff films, child rape, murder, heroin addiction, male prostitution, etc…). Hollywood said no, hired top young actors, and made a throwaway anti-drug film. The incredible Lotus Eaters on the other hand makes a valiant attempt to cross the bridge that filmmakers had previously only tiptoed around.
Helmed by new director Alexandra McGuinness, Lotus Eaters tells the story of a group of “friends” (if you can really call them that) who throw parties, drink, powder their noses, and occasionally have sex. That’s the entirety of their lives. Fitzgerald would be proud. While the film’s plot isn’t its strongest point, it really isn’t meant to be, nor is it supposed to be. This film uses its physically beautiful and emotionally repulsive characters to take us through what their daily existence consists of. Whether it’s having indie rock bands play at your house parties, or dealing with the daily troubles of heroin addiction, this is what the Lotus Eaters know and care about. The film revolves around Alice, played by an absolutely brilliant Antonia CampbellHughes, who dates Charlie (Johnny Flynn) who gives the wonderful impression of being a smacked-out musician every time he’s on screen. Meanwhile, both Felix (Benn Northover) and Marlon (Alex Wyndham) plot to leave their girlfriends in order to try to spark a relationship with Alice. Their girlfriends are so lost in their own worlds that they hardly even notice, save for Felix’s insane Suzi, portrayed impeccably by Burberry model Amber Anderson. It’s not hard to see why the boys want her. She’s the only character in the film you can really have any sympathy for, because she’s the only one who isn’t completely souless. This is all occurring as Orna (Cynthia Fortune Ryan) attempts to control the lives of the others purely for her own amusement. Once again, the plot isn’t what’s really important; it’s the depiction of the characters and the world they inhabit. That world is gorgeously photographed in black-and-white by cinematographer Gareth Munden. As limited as the use of black-and-white is these days, when it’s done well and with a purpose, it can really elevate the film, as it does for Lotus Eaters. The soundtrack is packed-out with future indie classics from the likes of O’ Children (famously formerly known as Bono Must Die) and Anna Calvi. But while the plot may be unimportant, the music selection impeccable, and the cinematography beautiful, Lotus Eaters is truly frightening and incredibly sad to watch. Not because of what happens to the characters, but because the film really is a dark mirror gazing upon the rest of youthful society. In a modern world, consumed with fame, wealth and beauty, Lotus Eaters ends up telling us far more about ourselves than it does about them. AUSTIN RAYWOOD
Michelle Williams and Dougray Scott in My Week with Marilyn All cinema and music stars play the role of Marilyn Monroe sooner or later, consciously or not. The last one who was asked to do so has been Michelle Williams in the just-released My Week with Marilyn, directed by Simon Curtis and based on the relationship between Monroe and Colin Clark as narrated by Clark himself in his memoir. It’s the early summer of 1956. She’s a world-famous film star discovering England, he has the freckles of Eddie Redmayne and is a lowly assistant director discovering the film business and the human side of an icon. This is the story of the week in which he escorted her, desperate to get away from the pressures of working. A magnificent London is under the spotlight together with the protagonists, whereas not much space is given to Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), the prominent playwright Miss Monroe is on her honeymoon with before he leaves the country. The film presents an actress forever trapped in the stereotype of a sex symbol, at times begging to be loved like a normal girl, at times willing to play her character. Williams is brilliant at suddenly shifting from sensuality to vulnerability in a way that charms the audience almost as the real Marilyn would have done. Almost – but it’s a heavy role and it’s already an accomplishment not to have yielded to exaggeration. No one could solve the riddles of that personality. Metatheatre is a matter of spontaneity and a deep understanding of one’s character. Williams can’t be just like Monroe herself but represents many Marilyn’s, the public and the private ones, the real and the fictitious. She can’t command her body how to change, but she can be as ambitious as the character she interprets. So on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, which is at the centre of this film, we watch a beautiful and well-built Marilyn that receives criticism and forgets her lines to finally give out a superb performance. Off the set she cries and needs to be reassured about her talent, but she’s still flighty, lascivious in her attitude and her voice marked by the unmistakable hiccup of her accent. The hiccup of her behaviour, now powerful, now fragile, now cheerful and childish. It’s easy to see all these changing states of mind in the light of her mysterious death –it feels like knowing what’s going to happen next. We know it all, and that’s why Curtis maybe overdoes in making her talk so much about family and her problematic childhood. But the one we leave here is a lively Marilyn on the edge of the success of Some Like It Hot, and we still see her singing and wiggling after the closing credits. Fame is a blessing and a curse, and Marilyn Monroe achieved everlasting memory in the Hollywood firmament but maybe not in the way she wanted to be remembered. In the end though, does this actually matter when, “we are such stuff as dreams are made on”, as Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) says, quoting Prospero, at the end of the film? Anyways, to Clark goes the merit not to have closed his eyes to these dreams. SILVA SEMINARA
Review: La Boheme
Following wildly successful runs at the Soho Theatre, La Boheme, the production that rejuvenated the London opera world, has joined the repertory programme at its original home, The King’s Head theatre. They haven’t gone for the traditional operatic approach. The set is dingy: a flat decked out with old sofas, empty bottles of London Pride, a photo collage and bean
La Boheme at the King’s Head Theatre. Photo by Simon Kane.
Mike Leigh’s new play follows the fortunes of a middle class suburban family over a number of months, captured through a series of seemingly insignificant domestic scenes. Gradually, we begin to understand the characters, their situation, their past and their relationships. Voyeuristically peering into the front room, we passively observe Dorothy (Lesley Manville), Edwin (Sam Kelly) her pipe-smoking brother and Victoria (Ruby Bentall), Dorothy’s teenage daughter. The characters slowly decay and isolate themselves, only relieved by brief visits from unbearable friends and the Irish cleaner. Victor, the deceased husband and father, helplessly surveys the sitting room from his dusty photo-frame, joining the audience in watching the collapse of his family. His absence is omnipresent ; the balance of scenes is always slightly uncomfortable, a vacant seat glares, an empty conversation shouts and a tortuous silence waits to be punctuated by his commanding tone. That he is almost never spoken of simply accentuates his presence; he becomes the elephant in the room, the unspoken darkness looming ominously as the play unfolds. The babbling laughter prevalent during the first half an hour or so gradually makes way for awkward murmuring and the chuckles of the less emotionally en-
bags. It’s more student flat-share than site of passion and extravagance. But that is precisely the charm of the show. It captures the grimy world of La Boheme in a way that more conventional and elaborate productions never could. The plot is simple, really. It follows the fortunes of a group of young lads who guzzle vodka, try to get laid and occasionally try their hand at some art. There’s a vaguely Desperate Romantics feel to it all. Writer and director Robin Norton-Hale drags Puccini’s masterpiece into the modern world, and it works. Her adaptation moves seamlessly from raucous comedy to sections in which the emotional potential of the music is allowed full reign. By setting the action not simply in England, but in Angel itself, the location of the King’s Head Theatre, she gives the opera an urgency and relevance that it might otherwise have lacked. And when, in the second act, the action spills out into the pub itself, the effect is truly astonishing. Best of all, the production is free from that perennial curse of the opera world: bad acting. The young cast are not just talented singers, they give magnetic performances. Elinor Jane Moran as Mimi combined an astonishing voice with a face so expressive that she scarcely needed lines. Anthony Flaum as Rodolfo was equally at home earnestly declaring his love for her
Imaginary Friends on... Writing the Student Experience.
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
and engaging in harmless banter with his friends, while Prudence Sanders as Musetta was mesmerising from her very first appearance. Even bit parts, such as Gerard Delrez as old letch Alcindoro, were executed with grace, talent and wit. Those who make a habit of heading to the opera may be disappointed by the lack of a full orchestra. But the quality of the singing is such that, in my opinion, a simple piano accompaniment was all that was needed. Moran in particular had moments of genuine beauty, and there were few dry eyes in the audience by the time the show had finished. Admittedly, the updated setting doesn’t always work. The striking opening image, in which Rudolfo burns the manuscript of his own novel in order to keep warm, doesn’t have quite the same punch when we know that he can simply go and print off another copy from his laptop. And whatever her immigration status, I can’t help feeling someone should have at some point suggested Mimi make a quick trip to the NHS. But these are minor quibbles. In a city where tickets to the opera can cost hundreds of pounds, the existence of a budget price pub-come-opera-house would always be cause for celebration. But what’s really impressive is that the cheap, informal setting never undermines the quality of the production. It’s accessible, without a trace of dumming down; affordable, but classy; and intimate, while maintaining the grand passions of the original. Put simply: this is how opera should be performed. La Boheme will run in repertory at the King’s Head Theatre until December 15. MATT WILLIAMSON
gaged only emphasised this sea-change. Bentall’s Victoria is underdeveloped, as This is black humour at its funniest and its children in theatre so often are, and her darkest. We feel we are wrapped up inside teenage rebellion seems a little contrived, a Leigh’s nightmarish vision, yet in fact we dramatic narrative tool to develop Dorothy simply realise its close semblance to reality. and Edwin, whose characters are satisfyThe characters initially seem ridiculous: ingly multi-layered. Equally the references Dorothy’s oppressively self-infatuated to the cultural liberation of the ‘60s, threatfriends Gertrude and Muriel dominate the ening post-war suburbia are a little blunt. stage with their mindless nattering; while Yet they give interesting historical context Dorothy makes feeble attempts to maintain to a twilight society, constantly grasping for domestic order, chronically forgetting to rean idealised past brutally smashed by Euromove her apron outside of the kitchen bepean conflict fifteen years earlier, and utfore scuttling away in shame; these terly resistant to a re-engagement with a moments are painfully hilarious. Yet gradumodernity in flux. In typically captivating ally the caricatures emerge as merely style, Leigh draws upon the absolute banaltoned-up versions of figures we observe, inity of existence, presenting isolated and disdividuals we know. This ever-so-slight exillusioned individuals sitting around in aggeration is all that’s needed to shunt the their front rooms, waiting to die. characters from reality into the absurd. Grief will run at the National Theatre until Petty and insignificant events become January 28. NICK MITHEN moral dilemmas in which the gulf dividing mother, daughter and uncle is widened. A glass of sherry being offered to the daughter, Victoria, becomes a battle of beliefs: traditionalist regimentation against revolutionary spirit. Dorothy strives to control the minutiae as the tempest roars overhead. The regurgitation of daily narratives reflects the Ruby Bentall as Victoria and Wendy Nottingsuffocating comfort of ham as Muriel. Photo by John Haynes the middle class home.
The new show from young theatre company Imaginary Friends is Bridges and Balloons, a new play which looks at the social and sexual politics of Britain today through the lens of life in a student house. I asked writers Rob Skinner and Daisy-May Pattison-Corney what drew them to the student experience. “University is fascinating” explains Rob. “You’re going into a mixing bowl where every single person thinks that their culture and values are self evident. You’re ideas about the world are really pushed and tested.” Daisy agrees, claiming, “It’s like some nebulous waiting room before life. You’re susceptible enough to influence that you’re not too stuck in your ways, but at the same time you’re intelligent enough to reject dominant ideas when necessary.” Imaginary Friends aim to create pieces of theatre that can function as forums for political debate. I asked them - why theatre? Rob argues that “it’s primarily the feeling of autonomy. “If you want to make a film of any quality you have to generate so much money and get so many different backers, that it’s almost inevitable you start to compromise your work. You’re trying to make it appeal to so many different people that you’ll probably lose sight of your original intentions. Whereas I think when you’re just young people wanting to make theatre you can do an incredible amount yourselves: you just need a space and some actors.” They are reluctant, however, to allow their work to become confined within the boundaries of one form. “A pet hate of both of us” says Daisy, “is when people get so into one medium in the art world that their work starts being about that medium itself. You know, musicians just writing about going on tour, playwrights writing endless plays within plays.” As a result, their work is firmly interdisciplinary. The company “originally started off as a band”, but they soon decided that for each project they would “allow the idea to choose the medium, rather than vice versa”. This was the case with Bridges and Balloons. “We started off writing it as a film script,” says Daisy “but we quickly realised it would be far more suited to theatre.” Even so, points out Rob, traces of the earlier approach can still be discerned in the play. “The script ended up with quite a filmic feel’ he explains. ‘It’s got cuts: we have two rooms existing simultaneously at all times, and we use lighting to cut between them.’ So why should someone buy a ticket for Bridges and Balloons? “Ideological conflict has never been more visible, certainly in our lifetimes,” says Rob. “This is a piece of art which seeks to explore that. I think that right now, the more we explore these ideas, the better informed we’ll be, and the more progress we can make.” “But if you’re not interested in politics,” adds Daisy, “there’s sex, drugs, drama – and you can go for a curry on Brick Lane when it’s finished!” Bridges and Balloons will run at The Rag Factory on Brick Lane until December 18.
Jess Edwards on... Notes from Undergound. PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
Flipping The Bird formed three years ago, bringing together grads from institutions including Oxford University, The Royal College of Music and Drama Centre. I asked director Jess Edwards what the company aims to achieve. “We specialise in new writing and adaptations” she explains. “We work with new texts, and occasionally devise things as well. We try to take things that initially seem non-theatrical, and find the performance within them.” Their new show, an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground, would seem to be a case in point. “The whole book is about one man and on the face of things he’s not a very attractive character” she says. “The opening lines of the show are ‘I’m a sick man, a spiteful man, a repellent man’ –he doesn’t exactly present himself well. And he’s cripplingly trivial, in a lot of ways. He’s left his job in the civil service an undisclosed number of years ago and retreated into this basement just to write. But the reason why he’s compelling and in some ways quite attractive is because he’s an incredible, overt amplification of everybody’s social anxieties. We all recognise ourselves in the underground man.” Adapting a novel that centres almost exclusively on just one character was always going to be a challenge. But Flipping the Bird have found a rather innovative solution to the problem. “It could easily be just a monologue” explains Jess. “But what we decided to do is to take the central character and split him into five separate parts. His personality is so frenetic, delirious and fragmented in the book that we thought it would be really interesting dramatically to have the different aspects of his character physicalised.” Another challenge was creating the text of the play. “We wanted to translate it, rather than simply adapting it from an existing translation” says Jess. “A lot of the extant versions of the text try to replicate a sort of Dickensian English so as to give the feel of the age of the text. But on the stage that can sound a bit ridiculous. We had to create the impression of nineteenth century St Petersburg, but without compromising on the believability of the orations. Fortunately, our writer has an acting background, which I think really helped him get to grips with the text.” Of all the roles that exist within the theatre, directing is perhaps the hardest for new talent to break into. I asked Jess what advice she would give to young student directors. “Find a text you have passion for, and put it on any way you can. That’s the great thing about student theatre – anyone can get involved. Beyond that, I think directing is actually quite simple in its essence: it’s about finding a shared language with which to solve a problem. You don’t want to go into a rehearsal thinking you know everything that’s going to happen. It has to be a twoway process. When you get it right, and you’re all thinking the same thing, it’s hugely exciting.” Notes From Underground runs at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden from December 13 to December 18.
Review: Juno and the Paycock
Second in Sean O’Casey’s Dublin trilogy, Juno and the Paycock is described as a tragedy in three acts. Premiered in 1924 in Abbey Theatre, this powerful play was a frank portrayal of the exigent problems that beset civil war Ireland. However, in its current rendition at the National Theatre, coproduced with Abbey Theatre, the grittiness and pain fail to come through, and the general mood is one of vague, bland niceness. The destitution faced by the Irish is reflected in the impoverished but tireless Juno Boyle who struggles to keep her family together in the midst of troubles that beset her at every turn. They include, amongst many others, a loafer for a husband, a bitter son who lost his arm in the Irish War of Independence, and a prodigal daughter. An unexpected inheritance brings excitement and hope to the household, but ultimately only makes their final fall back into destitution even more tragic. Sinéad Cusock was adept in her role as Juno. However, although she allows the audience to sympathise with her predicament, her character lacks the tenacity and rough edge that someone who is single-handedly dealing with so many problems would surely possess. She may be pleasant, she may be resilient, but as people in distress are seldom nice in the conventional sense, she seldom seems real.
Ciaran Hinds and Risteárd Cooper play the self-styled captain Jack Boyle and his fairweather friend Joxer respectively, and make a hilarious duo in their own right, jostling and fending against the imperious Juno. But these Clare Dunne as Mary Boyle. Photo by Mark characters are too Douet likeable for a selfimportant sloth and weasel. A lightness in the treatment of these characters in the hall). The music in between the acts fails to take them seriously enough for their had a sound reminiscent of boiled potatoes, knavery to be palpable. Even when Joxer’s and in no way conveyed any sense of the hypocrisy was revealed in his betrayal of his play. ‘butty’, the crime never seemed too severe. While this Howard Davies’s staging of this Besides the character interpretation, the set O’Casey masterpiece may suffice for an also failed to impress. Although it paid atevening’s light entertainment, it fails to live tention to details to recreate the decrepiup to the play’s true potential and purpose. tude of the abode, the set was too spacious Perhaps situation has changed and the past (and particularly, the ceiling too high). seem less grave, but to treat Juno and the which lent an accidental air of grandness to Paycock with a levity unbefitting of its what ought to be claustrophic and rundepth is more than disappointing. down tenement. In addition, the sound deJuno and the Paycock is showing at the sign was sloppily done, and often very National Theatre until 26 February 2012 unconvincing (like the sounds of foot steps ZEE YEO
Review: A Walk On Part
The diaries of Chris Mullin, MP and junior minister for the labour party, are brought vividly to life in this sharp, witty adaptation by writer Michael Chaplin. Kicking things off with a predictable blast of ‘Things can only get better’, the production whisks us through over a decade of labour in power. The story it tells is one of broken promises, failure and disappointment, but the manner in which that story is told is hugely entertaining. At its best, the play shines a spotlight on the reality of life at Westminster – at these moments it becomes a sort of mild-man-
nered The Thick of It. The versatile supporting cast glide through a vast number of different roles, and their impersonations of familiar political figures are invariably spot-on. John Hodgkinson gives an engaging performance as Mullin himself; perhaps a little over-ready to slide into caricature, he nevertheless succeeds in keeping the audience glued to the action. And Jim Kitson, whose roles include Gordon Brown and John Prescott, reveals a masterly gift for impersonation. Above all, the play provides an invaluable insight into the mind of a labour minister.
Perhaps unwittingly, it lays bare the extent to which the party bureaucracy co-opts Mullin’s naïve idealism, entrapping him within a careerist approach. Convinced that the labour party presents the sole solution to Britain’s problems, Mullin is forced to climb ever higher up the party ladder, in the forlorn hope of someday reaching that mythical position of power that will actually enable him to make a difference. Unfortunately, the play’s portrayal of Mullin’s work in his constituency is rather less insightful. His constituents tend to be portrayed as idiots who don’t ‘appreciate’ what labour has done for them. And the treatment of immigration was even worse, with diverse cases of injustice deployed, not so much to draw attention to the iniquities of the British system, but apparently to prove that deep down Chris is just a nice guy. Even so, the production is deft, stylish and entertaining; what problems there are arguably owe more to the source material than to the adaptation. If you’re in the mood for an evening that combines a liberal dose of hilarity with a quick trip down memory lane, it is well worth seeing. A Walk on Part runs until December 10 at the Soho Theatre. MW
John Hodgkinson and Hywel Morgan in A Walk on Part.
In Conversation With... Benjamin D of THE HEATWAVE What is that spectrum? Well, I think XFactor is very consciously speaking to an audience it has identified, or created, a sort of 'mainstream supermarket' type audience, and that sounds like I mean a class type group, but I think its more like a taste-group, and it only presents things which will appeal to that groups taste. Although I don’t think that group really exists I think they just create it from market research ha ha. But that makes it very limiting.
We talk to Benjamin D from The Heatwave about X-Factor, popular music and Dancehall in the UK So I hear you like X-Factor?
Errmmmm. I definitely wouldn't use the word 'like' but I dunno, I think it’s amazingly interesting. I watch it with my mum sometimes and she always makes references to people sitting all over the country watching it. Those things that make us feel connected like that, those things which help us imagine ourselves collectively - 'Britain is watching' etc. I think those things are really interesting. And terrifying. But interestingly terrifying. I try not to get swamped by negative feelings about things like X-Factor, because I think that’s a very dangerous sort of trap to fall into, decrying the brutalisation of music by Simon Cowell etc. That in itself seems like quite an elitist perspective. I mean I think we would all be happier if we didn’t watch X-factor, but that’s not really useful, because loads of people DO watch X-factor, so, you know, its not worth having a tantrum about it. Not a lot of Dancehall artists on X-Factor. Ha ha.. right. There's not. I don’t think Dancehall would be that popular, because it’s outside the spectrum that X-Factor deals with.
Rhianna makes a lot of dancehall and bashment, ‘Rude Boy’, ‘Man Down’. Shes a dancehall artist really, ha. But we play a lot of UK dancehall specifically, and thats something different. We did a stageshow with about twenty artists earlier this year, it was called Showtime, that summed it up for me. The level of hype on stage was insane! Its mad, it’s got that vibe that grime emcees have when they go mad on a rythm and Its got the hype and energy of jungle and DnB (Drum n Bass). Because dancehall itself has got a very specific way of dealing with the audience as a group… What do you mean by that, what ways of engaging an audience? Well I mean, like in clubs we play at it feel’s like a different kind of sing along. It is a
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
audience interaction is dealt with in a very specific way in dancehall - the crowd are constantly being addressed directly, as if their approval has to be fought for, as if they are in charge, collectively, the people in the room are the leaders of what can be played. Its not like a concert - when you go to watch, to observe a spectacle, the artistic process taking place on stage, the intense personal journey of the front man fiddling with his instrument or whatever. Fiddling with his instrument ? Ahhh, ha ha no that’s not what I meant ha. Although it is like that, its like watching someone having a wank. In a club environment the right song is the song that will get the biggest reaction from the crowd. It is an exercise in communal decision making. As a group, the crowd decide what they want to
Like, I think its similar to the way the mainstream music industry functions generally, you know, deciding what is fashionable, dictating the trend. But its different because it doesn't even pretend to respond, to engage with trends or fashions, it just goes straight for the jugular, the emotional artery - "this persons mum has cancer, listen to her emotive song about loss, text to vote for her." Its even less subtle than the major label instinct, which is to persuade us that we like something. Its more of just bullying us into liking it. How do you feel about Pop Music ? I love popular music. I'm not sure about 'Pop Music' as a genre, which is the way it seems to be used, but I like popular sing along music. I wouldn't say 'Yeah I'm into pop' Ha haaa. I'm a MC for the Heatwave, so I'm always getting people to sing along, that’s my job basically. And really, singing along with other people is actually very deep. That oral tradition of passing on songs, of singing with a group, words that you all know, that must have continued you know. And I supposed its turned into… like karaoke and pissed pub singalongs (laughing) And pop music and RnB and hip hop. And dancehall. What kind of music do The Heatwave play? We play bashment, dancehall, party music basically. You know like Sean Paul, Vybz Kartel, Movado…? If you’ve never heard it, umm, its like, faster than reggae, and when you hear the beat, the rhythm, you'll recognise it. Stabbing bass and this bouncy vibe, and its got LOADS of sing a longs …. ha. But the best thing is, it’s dancing music, girls dance to it, boys dance to it, its sick. Like
Dancehall on the X Factor? whole room going mad, sharing love for that song, in the immediacy and concrete location of THIS moment, this time, this being the song WE love right now. No ambiguity. Singing the lyrics as loud as possible together. Groups of girls dancing together in a circle, singing out the words to each other, boys getting hyped up about the chorus and running past, through each other, grabbing each others shoulders - drinks in the air. Its mad, but its also powerful I think that moment when everyone's connected like that, to me that’s got a spiritual power and also a political power. And is that really unique to Dancehall ? No, I don’t think so, but because that’s the area I work in I see it clearly. Like I said, the
hear - the songs that get huge reactions get played more. Do you not find some of the messages in popular music problematic? Not really problematic, I'm just amazed at how effective it is. Like, if you take the performance character of someone like Drake, or Lady GaGa, who I see as massively popular, and you analyse their music and their output, you find they are extremely effective at communicating messages. In one of Drake’s songs, a hook line goes "All I care about is money and the city where I'm from." Now I find that depressing, but I can see why it’s a good hook. I know who ever wrote that lyric is thinking carefully about connecting with their audience. In a way it’s genius, evil genius, but still genius.
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6 I find it exciting because the efficiency with which lyrics communicate ideas and meaning is unmatched. And it becomes more than just lyrics, it becomes about lifestyle and attitude and general message, and people understand it in some deeper way, and the meaning and social truth of a message can be communicated. That’s why I see so much political potential in music. I think people understand ideas and adopt lifestyles from lyrics in a way that they have never bought ideology as wholesale from politicians. Not being overly dramatic, but I sort of think as students and young people, we are the people who can control this, and we have a responsibility to do so. We can direct what's cool, what's in demand, what people want, by what we connect to and what we engage with. What about the more negative lyrics in dancehall ? Well, I don’t like the messages in some of the songs, but if I don’t like them I don’t play them. I don’t really think its my role to be moral adjudicator, particularly as a white economically privileged male living in the
derground sources of creativity fuelling the capitalist mainstream. I think those cultures are hugely important for the current system. They are used, and regurgitated as 'counter culture' you know, which costs this much, you can buy a t-shirt with this design that gives you a badge of rebellion, the source is variable, could be skateboarding, graffiti, dancehall, raving etc. but the effect is the same. You are rebelling by buying a t-shirt, which is funny when you think about it. Why do you say it’s got a Spiritual power? Spiritual because its about connecting people, and I think that’s what things like prayer and rituals and meditation does, it connects us to each other and reminds us of our place in the whole sort of unity, god, universe whatever. And in a rave this basically comes down to audience engagement. Lyrically, the songs that sell off most, have hooks that are talking about a subject in such a way that the majority of the crowd can connect with. Like 'I
process I guess - even if it seems natural and organic, there are structures of power, people who are in positions of influence who can get a song played, get a radio DJ to put the tune on repeat. And the mass market scale, the ease with which money can buy a hit song still amazes me : the seamless transition from feature on chat show to review in broadsheet to advert on tube to play list on capital FM and wow, we have a hit record, all oiled by the slick fluidity of label money. So it’s still a very different thing seeing a song blow up on a dance scene - I mean like garage, or dubstep or jungle or whatever, and very much the case in dancehall. There is a big difference in the level of commercialisation - there are systems and patterns and money can help, but essentially its much more about what the punters think. The tipping point. There is a moment when a song gets big enough, when it begins to snowball in a certain way, that makes its audience respond in such a way, that makes it snowball more and so on and so forth. Like I saw it with ‘Hold Yuh’ by Gyptian , when that came out, I just knew it was gonna connect with people, the melody and the simplicity of it. And in a couple of months it
Any artists to watch out for ? I would like the scene to continue flourishing with sick artists like Stylo G, Gappy Ranks, Rubi Dan, Wiley, yeah… Wileys a dancehall artist. Didn’t you know ? Yeah, we stole him, he's a dancehall artist now. Ha haaaa
The Heatwave Showtime DVD featuring Wiley, General Levy, Skibadee & many more plus in-depth interviews is out on the 12th of November, for more info:
www.theheatwave.co.uk Gwilym Lewis-Brooke
The biggest dancehall tunes for winter 2011
western world, I think people like me have a long history of imposing ideas and morals onto other cultures, so that’s not really my intention. What significance do you think dancehall has on a worldwide scale? Dancehall culture, in my personal opinion, is one of the most influential cultures in the world. It’s the output, the music, the fashion, the dances, the language, all those things seep into mainstream US and UK culture and often are used as a sort of exotifying spice, to market products. And without that spice the products are pretty tasteless, pretty bland you know. I mean, I don’t think in any way that is unique to Dancehall culture, it happens in a lot of places, within our, apparently cohesive global village, you have certain un-
Love My Life' by Demarco, when I hear everyone singing that together, I think that’s deep, people connecting over that positive message. People want to connect with each other. That’s the best thing about it. People desperately want to have deep and meaningful connections with other people. And in the most simplistic, basic way, when a song makes us want to sing along together, to get excited and shout out the chorus - we are finding a little piece of that connection. Sounds kind of cheesy but I think its true! Do you not see a commercial element in underground music that changes the way songs get popular? There is always commercialisation of this
1. Cham - Wine 2. Popcaan - Clean 3. Mavado - Settle
was getting pulled up and reloaded I don’t know how many times, everywhere we went. So many smiles and people loving that tune, and that had no major label backing it just buss as the tune, you know that tune. Sick! Would you like to see more Dancehall on mainstream radio ? Well, yeah maybe, I don’t know. I think dancehall has always been healthy in the UK, and I would like some of the creativity and skill of the performers, artists, DJs, selectors, etcetera to be appreciated more. But I don’t think Dancehall needs mainstream acceptance, I think it exists in a space outside the mainstream which is powerful.
Down 4. Mr. Vegas - Bruk it Down 5. Demarco - I Love My Life
Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011 PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
In Conversation with Artist Leah Capaldi. The Institute of Contemporary Art’s gallery space is notably quiet inside compared to other times I have visited. I wonder whether there are, perhaps, less people than usual here but on entering the lower gallery space, I am surprised to see that it is in fact fairly busy. It seems that the people here are just more quiet than usual, concentrating and engrossed in the Institute’s new exhibition, talking only occasionally, huddled around the exhibits. The works everyone is here to see are that of forty recent fine art graduates selected, from over 1300 submissions, by Pablo Bronstein, Sarah Jones and Michael Raedecker; together, these bright, emerging artists form ‘Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011: In the Presence’.
Amongst the forty selected is RCA graduate Leah Capaldi whose performance-based works have also been part of the Catlin Prize final (Allure) and Exposure 10 (Peplos). On the opening day, I talk to Leah about her participation in Bloomberg New Contemporaries.
Joshua Bilton, Post (diptych). Courtesy of Joshua Bilton and Bloomberg New Contemporaries
“I’m thrilled to be in it,” Leah says as we discuss what it means to her to be selected for the show. “It’s a great show to be in and it’s great to know you’re being taken seriously.” As I enter the show the first thing that strikes me is the curator’s subtle, spacious arrangement of works and sensitive treatment of colour. In the first room, I find myself staring into Selma Parlour’s Room, a square oil painting on linen. The depth of the piece is strangely disorientating, with a dull and dirty orange centre, surrounded by flat and soapy pastels. Opposite, the plinths that David Buckley’s curiously distorted bronze and plaster sculptures sit on, mirror Parlour’s colours in similar hues of spearmint and soft greys. Buckley’s sculptures reflect the light at moments: flickers of bronze peering through black patination and remnants of colour flashing across plaster-white. Even here, at the beginning of the exhibition, it is clear just how considered the curation is. When discussing it with Leah, she says: “There’s a real sense of energy to it.” I ask Leah which work might be her favourite in the show. “I really like Joshua Bilton’s photographs and Minae Kim’s piece,” she replies after a little thought; Minae Kim’s work impresses me also. Her subtle intervention is easy to miss, yet commands a
sort of dependency from the space when noticed, as if the space the piece occupies and the space around it needs Kim’s work to stay stable and not collapse. In Leah’s own piece for the show, Allure, a group of men and women, each doused in entire 200ml bottles of the Chanel perfume ‘Allure’, enter the gallery space, dressed casually, wandering through the audience. “There are a few issues and questions I hope to challenge and raise through Allure,” Leah explains as we begin to talk a little about the ideas and reasons behind the piece. “One being gender divides: the different attitudes towards a woman wearing too much perfume and a man wearing too much perfume are striking. If people encounter a woman with too much perfume, people feel embarrassed for them, as if the woman’s trying too hard. She appears as being desperate, whereas if a man wears too much perfume, it’s like fox territory; it’s masculine.” Leah pauses. “And then there’s class, elitism. It’s ludicrous that an £86 bottle of perfume even exists!” The performance of Allure is the only artwork in Bloomberg New Contemporaries that doesn’t take up any consistent physical space. “In a way, although it is completely ephemeral, the piece does act as a quiet and subversive way of declaring space.” Tomas Downes’ steel wall piece downstairs commands space in a different way; a framelike sculptural object turns the gaps between itself flat, the light which bounces off the metal appearing like a natural, slowly moving shading of a pencil drawing. Another striking piece in the show is Nightworker, a video piece by Se-je Kim, hung in the corner of the first upstairs room. Kim’s piece seems to transform the idea of night as a time into night as a place. The protagonist in the work moves through eerie empty spaces with a noticeable slowness as the harsh white of fluorescent light reflects off her face as she stares into the camera.
David Buckley’s sculptures, Marie Angeletti’s photographs, Samuel Williams’ video, and Selma Parlour’s painting. Photo by Steve White
A lot of the work in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011 that I find myself most attracted to deals with space and its transformation and manipulation, such as in Minae Kim’s piece and Tomas Downes’ piece. Being in the presence of a work that commands the space around it, in a way, commands the viewer also. Continuing to discuss Allure, Leah says: “I hope to challenge where people are located in the work. If a visitor to the gallery comes wearing ‘Allure’, they immediately become part of the piece. It’s about incorporating the viewer without asking their permission.” Other works in the show also manage what Leah talks about in different ways, enveloping the viewer in strangely buzzing colours, in the controlling of space
and in obscure narratives through ambiguous places. The selection of work in this year’s exhibition is incredibly varied in subject and impact, and beautifully and sensitively put together. As I leave, I feel a pull of intrigue which will no doubt take me back to the exhibition before it is over: an intrigue which is present in a lot of the work, but also an intrigue of what the show is saying about, not only now, but the future. Bloomberg New Contemporaries is, in a sense, the beginning of things to come. CLAIRE HAZELTON
when returning after battle; psychological problems, problems with relationships, and those posed by seemingly simple things: “crowded places”, “slamming doors”, “train journeys”. The feeling of having been used, disposed of, and betrayed by politicians and the media comes across strongly from veterans of both countries: “recruiters lie”, “the should hold the government ac“I’m pissed people countable”, “I’m pissed off at this The first part of the exhibition focuses on War Veteran Vehicle a proj- off at this country”. Testimonies from the soldier’s wives are also included showing ect that aimed to “bring into focus the how war has changed their husbands: post-traumatic condition by returning country” “There was a look in his eyes and I knew that soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.” The two he could strangle me.” videos show the project being carried out in As well as photos of the project being carDenver 2008 and Liverpool 2009. The project ried out, the exhibition includes both a deis centred on recordings of testimonies from tailed drawing and model of the Humvee war veterans which are played over a loud military vehicle used, showing the way in speaker. At the same time the words of the which it was designed to create a “safe” “psytestimonies are projected onto public walls, chological space between battle and home”; a therefore drawing comparison between the space in which the veterans could vocalise way in which the public and the way in which their stories. The concept is that through the individuals remember and think about war. recreation of the “armour of war,” the vehicle The projection of the words is then replayed encourages an acknowledgement of the psywith sounds of cannon fire replacing the vetchological “armour” that results from war exeran’s voice, the viewer is continuously reperiences and at the same time gives an minded of the background to the stories. The opportunity for the veterans to “disarm” testimonies focus on the difficulties faced
through vocalising their stories. The second part of the exhibition recreates The Flame, an installation first shown at Governor’s Island, New York in 2009. This project plays recordings of the testimonies of war veterans while projecting an image of a flame that moves in sync with the sound of their voice. These testimonies are anonymous, we never see the veterans’ faces, and yet, extremely personal; the content includes soldier’s nightmares, flashbacks, and accounts of watching death. The Flame pushes the focus onto the sound of each voice and the movement of the flame visually shows every stutter and hesitation made by the speaker. The effect is an eerie, almost mesmerizing experience; the feeling that you are being personally confided in. The Abolition of War brings together two of Wodiczko’s projects both of which directly relate to wars in which our government and country are involved. However, Wodiczko brings the viewer to consider the individual effects of these wars which are too often consigned to the realms of current affairs and politics. HERMIONE PAGNI
‘Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011: In the Presence’ at the ICA until January 15 2012. Leah Capaldi’s Allure is performed 4 times a week on Thursdays 6pm-9pm and Friday-Sunday 2pm5pm.
The Abolition of War - Krzysztof Wodiczko The Abolition of War, a two-part exhibition at the WORK gallery, gives an overview of the projects ‘War Veteran Vehicle’ and ‘The Flame’ by Krzysztof Wodiczko. The exhibition contains more than first meets the eye and uses a range of mediums - videos, recordings, and projections- to focus on the experiences of English and American war veterans.
At WORK gallery until January 14 2012. Nearest tube: Kings Cross.
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
Paul McCarthy’s Politics
The King, The Island, The Train, The House, The Ship. Over the last forty years McCarthy’s works have explored the authoritarian underpinnings of commercialisation and media, particularly the American ‘cutesy’ culture, and this exhibition is no exception. Exhibited at Hauser and Wirth’s galleries, McCarthy’s latest work is placed provocatively amidst the well-suited and booted topography of Savile Row, Piccadilly and St. James Square. Shamelessly apparent from the ‘respectable’ Savile Row street is Pig Island, McCarthy’s amass of carefully contrived chaos on polystyrene plinths. Shopping trolleys, food cartons, alcohol, emaciated dolls and sculpted presidents. It’s an obscene and grotesque inversion of the American theme park or film set, reminiscent of a landfill site, although admittedly one full of multiple pregnant George Bush’s giving anal to pigs in brogues. Pig Island is the culmination of seven years of “stuff” congregated without intent in McCarthy’s studio. It was only later, once it had begun to majorly monopolize the studio space, that McCarthy began to think of it as a work, and its accompanying large-scale sculptures followed: Train, Puppets, and T.G in the South Gallery and a massive outdoor sculpture, The Ship, in St. James’s Square. The more organic, random means that led to this body of work forms my reasoning behind thinking that its politics’ are somehow less
thought-out and coherent than McCarthy’s earlier installations and Disney/TV mainstream parodies. Historically McCarthy’s work was a criticism and problematisation of boundaries; presented as the contamination of the symbolic into the real, and the increasing ambiguity between the two in our society. Pinocchio Pipenose House Hold Dilemma required the audience to wear duplicate Pinocchio outfits to the one worn by McCarthy as he performed an array of disturbing and dubious actions. It was a performance that surveyed the degrading effect TV has on its audiences; dumb puppets, numb and benighted, yet simultaneously mapped onto and manipulated by the content. It’s an extreme view, but one that causes pause for thought about just how much seemingly simple and inane mainstream viewing proscribes our behaviour and social structuring. The adaption of real, political celebrities into this most recent work, (Paula Jones makes a special guest appearance in Puppets) prohibits this symbolic dimension and interplay. The exhibition is closer to a frenzied rage at American politics and culture than a considered conceptual piece with multiple layers of interest, and it falls dangerously close to the category of ‘Once you get it, you’ve got it.’ It would be easy to say that McCarthy probably doesn’t really care, but I think the list of plau-
Parasolstice at Parasol Unit
James Yamada: The summer shelter retreats darkly among the trees, 2011 Parasol unit installation view. Photo by Stephen White.
My alarm’s crescendo of major chords, assuming the jolly ringtone Strum, impales my somnolent subconscious each morning. Reflexively, my fingers feel for the snooze rheostat. Nine minutes later the alarm sounds again, breaking in combers on the shore of my slumber. “Ok, Ok, I hear you.” I draw back my curtains to an ashen sky and grumble crabby gabble at its unsympathetic heavens. Sound familiar? It’s the Winter Blues. Whilst this procedure no doubt correlates with the symptoms of Student-AccidieDisorder, it wouldn’t be amiss to associate its course with the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), medically identified in 1984. With the nights drawing in, and with
the morning’s withdrawal altogether, one’s exposure to light is fleeting, and fluorescent tube lighting fills the gaps between. In the winter months, our lives are somewhat light deficient, yet unlike hedgehogs we humans are incapable of hibernation, so we must feast on minced pies to vivify the nocturnal lull. James Yamada however, delivers a more slimming solution with his uplifting installation, The summer shelter retreats darkly among the trees. Just off City Road, in the backyard of Parasol Unit’s vibrant contemporary art space, one can take refuge under a roof of ‘full spectrum light’, unashamedly surrendering to light rays of a therapeutic rather than UV breed. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Ex-
Train, Mechanical 2003-2009. The King, The Island, The Train, The House, The Ship', Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row, 2011 ©Paul McCarthy, Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Alex Delfanne.
sible theoretical associations, and frameworks immediately conjured by his earlier work demonstrates an astute thinking, that understands what separates good conceptual art from the stuff that exists simply for the sake of shock and oddity. I would recommend the show, especially if you are unfamiliar with McCarthy’s work. It’s
cellence (NICE) has recognised exposure to such wavelengths as a highly beneficial treatment for SAD. So I put it to the test. Sitting for half an hour under Yamada’s construction, I watch black clad journo’s waltz in the periphery of its glare, swinging their complimentary glasses of wine in the night’s tie-dye darkness of cerulean blue. Their à la mode auras assume luminous hues, disclosing rogue hairs and fibres that protrude from their shiny skins. Everything is stripped naked by the artist’s 10,000-lux light elements, as photostimulation gives birth to imperfections. Blots and blemishes multiply. The crowd soon disseminates into lamp black corners, cowering from the flicker and flare. At the nucleus of the exhibition I sit alone. Scribbling diffused notes on the back of my press release, my writing suddenly becomes self-conscious. My complimentary glass of wine shivers in the installation’s undulating heat waves. Yamada’s construction seemingly becomes an altar of exposition, as my being is laid bare. I beg to differ with the press release’s preposition that the installation offers “some privacy” to the visitor. Rather, in a city of anonymity, Yamada stages a very public encounter. Perhaps the artist’s maxim is that of an exposé itself, and how long one may chance to paddle in its illumining waters. I personally embrace winter and gladly laden myself with layers of clothing, taking refuge in my knits. It is the time of year when the ‘English Rose’, Britain’s euphemism for a sallow and pasty complexion, willingly wilts in her wardrobe-warren. But perhaps I’m already suffering ever so slightly from SAD, already assuming the role of Don John as the “canker in a hedge”. Perhaps half an hour of 10,000 lux light exposure just isn’t enough. For a truly therapeutic and transforming aesthetic encounter, Yamada’s exhibited phenomenon of light needs to be revisited, revised, re-examined. LIZA WEBER At Parasol Unit until March 18 2012.
free and a nice size for an exhibition (small), and needless to say the geographic position of Hauser and Wirth makes a lovely juxtaposition, but to get a fuller picture of McCarthy’s work, check out his stuff on Youtube as well.
East Wing X
At Hauser & Wirth until January 14 2012.
What’s the best way to introduce upcoming artists to a broad public? Throw an arty party and let the pack dance! Said and done by the East Wing X-committee from the Courtauld Institute for Arts. On January 20 the 10th edition of the biannual East Wing exhibition will be opening, and the taster-session ‘Any New Material?’ in mid-November gave a little sample of what’s to come. The walls were shaking, feet were stamping, and style was in the air at Notting Hill Arts Club on November 14. What has that to do with fine arts? Well, the trick is to keep your eyes open. On the run-down walls the paintings, drawings, and objects of: Dom Callaghan, Wan-Leensiow and Christy Balfour were installed like parts of the wallpaper. Across it a photo-slide-show projected pieces from Laura Ellias, Hellen Higgins, Sam Walker, Craig Harvey, Imran Matteo Peretta and Flora Watson. The works merged into the setting as if they naturally belonged to the interior, whilst a superb line-up of DJ sets did their best to distract. Material Matters is the title of the EWX show, and the pun obviously states the main focus: the use of pioneering media and experimental reinterpretations thereof. While some of the displayed works will wear the signatures of stars like Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread, or Arman, the major stress will lie on young emerging artists. And their works will be up for sale. East Wing is known for having a keen sense of promising talents: many members of the early-nineties Young British Artists movement had their public debut at EW shows. JULIA SCHELL The exhibition is at Somerset House until July 2013. Check-out their blog and facebook for upcoming events!
The Perks of the Press
Having done my fair share of internships over the years (the past 5 years to be precise) you can imagine that I have often wondered when exactly I will be able to make the monumental step out of the fashion cupboard and onto the office desk. To those of you not so familiar with fashion journalisms inner workings, I can assure you this is almost as important a day as getting your first pay cheque. One of the other most exciting parts of a journalists day to day work is being invited to all manner of events, from Fashion Week shows to annual parties and, the one I have most recently experienced, press days. In the past week, I have been lucky enough to attend the River Island, Schuh, Forever 21, Very.co.uk and Office Spring/Summer 2012 press days – and can assure you, they are an experience in themselves.
Many critics of the fashion industry and of its journalism in particular have attacked the way so much of the industry works off of freebies, gifts and tactically sent bouquets of flowers. It is not uncommon to hear of a Swarovski necklace or a brand new pair of Clarks desert boots being offered in the alltoo-modestly titled ‘party bags’. But, however shallow you may think the industry, these material bonuses should be taken in context. The salaries in fashion publications are modest to say the least, with a junior stylist starting at around £18,000 per year. Compare this with an investment banker, fresh out of university being offered £40,000 and all those complimentary lip glosses and vouchers suddenly become much less questionable. The other thing to bear in mind is just how many brands there are in the industry today. Say, for instance, you find yourself on a weekly woman’s magazine, average readership aged between 17-28 and with a
high street budget to spend on clothes. Topshop, River Island, New Look, Littlewoods, Debenhams, Very – the list goes on. There has to be something that convinces you to go. Just the promise of another shift dress or a new mock-designer print is not enough. There needs to be a DJ, an ice cream van, a tea shop, an in-store artist to
the new collection’s look book into your overflowing handbag. If only the press day was how it always was.
just get you through the door. It’s a sale of style and you are the most challenging customer. Press days are also, ultimately, fun. Surrounded by fantastic clothes, offered all kinds of weird and wonderful cocktails, food and gimmicks, it all helps to lighten the strain of what is an incredibly stressful career. Working to deadline is one thing
This Week I’m Making... Lacy Ankle Socks
Step 1: These are great to keep your tootsies warm whilst also looking super cute. Get yourself a pair of socks in any colour you like.
but when you have to consider everything from pleasing advertisers to appealing to your readers to getting a variety of content it becomes a very different ball game. It’s a rarity that the clothes are hung in an easy to see way, that they are categorized by trend and an unbelievably helpful PR agent is there to show you around whilst slipping
Step 2: Get half a meter of lace in a contrasting colour to the socks. Turn the socks inside out and pin the lace all around the top, leaving about half a centimetre to stitch it on.
These few hours also provide a sort of escapism. Especially now, in the midst of grey, miserable November the idea of jumping into August 2012 is something of a luxury. As I was the other day, walking around central London, my hands so cold they felt like they would just about snap off at any moment and trying to force my way through hordes of Christmas shoppers, suddenly finding myself at Schuh’s very own seaside resort with a cup of tea, quintessentially English sandwiches and a ‘beachside beautician’ was more than an enjoyable stop off. It was a veritable mini
Step 3: With a light running stitch sew the lace all around the top of the socks.
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
It’s not all fun and games though. As the name may suggest, press days are for the interest and attention of the fashion press. It is at times like these that my respect for any PR agent goes up tenfold. Often working through the night, spending 12-14 hours in new heels and unendingly being polite, friendly and helpful to even the rudest journalist is a skill to be admired. One woman, who had worked from about 6.30 a.m. setting up her display told me how for a good 20 minutes she had to blow up a gigantic beach ball with a travel hairdryer. Just another day at the office I suppose. On top of this there is the pressure to sell. Now, I am the first to admit that I am a terrible, and I mean truly awful, salesperson. The hard sell, the soft sell, the art of persuasion – quite literally, all of these went so far over my head the minute I realized that I couldn’t even sell a pair of wellies. To a festival-goer. At Glastonbury. In 4 feet of mud. Useless. But the PR’s are incredible. Before you even know it, those creeper shoes that you thought went out with the Spice Girls and believed only a couple of misguided teenagers in Camden were still buying are being called into the office the second they come into store. It is tantamount to hypnotism the way these women work. So when all’s said and done, when the fake beaches have been packed away and the last pair of distressed, pastel coloured brogues put back into their box to be popped on store shelves next summer, what do these press days really achieve? Well, the most obvious point is that they make the brand known. Without press days, there would be almost no determining between the brands that really care about their image, that so want you to buy into their vision and those that feel quite happy to rest on their laurels (American Apparel, I make no obvious accusations). Press days give the journalists a preview, giving the reader the most up to date view of what is in and what is most definitely out. Yes they are a nice little perk, there is no denying that. But they do so much more. Press days are what fashion is all about. Working hard, playing harder and always pushing the industry forward.
Step 4: Turn the socks the right way round and flip the lace over the top of the socks. If you need to, iron down the lace to keep it in place. There you go, lacy ankle socks in a flash.
The Perks of the Dress
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
By Kate Vine The first one I remember was blue. Denim, I think. Atrocious. I fought tooth and nail to get that one thrown away. The next one that sticks out in my memory was pink. Ballooning. I could barely fit down the slide at the play-area. The final one was golden. Although a vast improvement on anything previous, I still ran for the hills. I spent my entire childhood trying to get out of dresses. However, there comes a point for every young woman where not only do we want to get back into them, but we spend ceaseless time and money trying to find the perfect dress. We obsess, we drool, we covet. And, come Christmas time, this fixation goes into overdrive. Suddenly we are five years old again, only this time the tantrum comes when we can’t have the magnificent frock. What is it about the party dress that makes us go gaga at Christmas? Whether it’s for the work party, the uni night out or the long awaited New Year’s Eve, we all want one. If only there was such a thing as a fairy godmother...but for now here are a few tips to help you navigate the party dress maze.
There is nothing subtle about the sequin dress – but that’s part of the attraction. Glamorous and extravagant, the sequin dress is perfect for anyone who wants to stand out. It captures the true spirit of the Christmas ball, glittering like a gift under the tree, while also stepping up your fashion credentials with one of the hottest trends of the season. For the fearless female, this sparkling wonder from Very.co.uk (below) is both contemporary and festive. Wear with matte tights and shoe boots to keep the look eye-catching rather than cabaret. For a more demure take on the trend, opt for this sequinned beauty from Warehouse (right). Golden and gorgeous, it can be worn loose with flats or belted with heels depending on your Christmas occasion. Whatever your sequin surprise, just add tousled hair and mascara and you’re ready to go. Perfect For: New Year’s Eve Don’t Do It: Visiting the Grandparents
Diana Vickers One Shoulder Sequin Dress, £89, Very.co.uk
Sequin Cut OUt Shoulder Dress, £90, Warehouse.co.uk
The print dress is the ultimate garment when it comes to adaptable fashion: it can stop traffic with platform heels, do catwalkworthy clashing with a printed jacket or be thrown on with boots and a scarf for effortless winter style. A print dress is the quirky girl’s go-to garment when it comes to festive fashion, for it is unexpected, chic, and sure to make you the belle of the ball. This colourful creation from Monsoon (below) offers a beautiful peacock print, with sparkling cuffs to get you into the party mood. Wear with bright heels and an up-do for oriental chic. For a more tribal alternative, go wild with this high fashion shift dress from Warehouse (below left) - but be sure to strip back the accessories and let the print do the talking. Startlingly stylish, and simultaneously flattering, it is the best choice for Christmas couture. Perfect For: Festive House Party Don’t Do It: Morning Hangover
Print Dress, £250, Warehouse.co.uk Pergrine Dress, £135, Monsoon.co.uk
One of the reasons we all want to look beautiful for Christmas is the romance in the air this time of year. Some of us want not only a fairy godmother but also a prince charming to kiss under the mistletoe, and the dress is all part of the epic dream. Romantic shapes and fabrics have been popular throughout autumn, taking inspiration from the past to create nostalgic looks. If you long for a piece of old-fashioned romance, go for this velvet wonder by Very.co.uk (below). With a traditional shape and a modern colour, you can create your own contemporary romantic saga. The festive shade and flattering cut make it the perfect dress for mistletoe moments. However, if you prefer your romance with a bit of a twist go instead for this Miss Selfridge dress (right). The shape is perfectly princess, yet the unusual fabric and cut-out collar give it an urban edge. Wear with dangerous heels and bed hair for a more rebellious romance this Christmas. Perfect For: Christmas Ball Don’t Do It: Battle of the Bands
Black Dress (above), £45, Miss Selfridge
Bodycon Lightning Crackle Dress by Dress up Topshop, £125, Topshop
Holly Willoughby Velvet Beaded Collar Dress, £65, Very.co.uk
Mesh Insert Body-con Dress Pink, £10, Primark
For most students, Christmas is the best time to let their hair down and go dancing. If that’s your kind of Christmas spirit, the body-con dress is the perfect party staple to take you from evening cocktails to the late night dance floor. Undeniably sexy and stylish, there is a reason every girl has one hanging up in hope of the next night on the town. High up in the fashion stakes, there are several ways to go about the body-con dress, one example being this ultra modern and utterly courageous Primark creation (left). Taking tips from the latest futuristic shapes of the catwalk, the striking red will get you into the Christmas spirit. Although you may need an additional kind of spirit to get you out the door – it would be well worth the bravery. Alternatively, this creative Topshop number (above) is equally alluring, with a more intricate design and edgy appeal. Don’t forget, sculpting underwear can be a godsend. Especially after a few mince pies. Perfect For: University Club Night Don’t Do It: Christmas Dinner
Liquid Christmas Lunch Festive Drinks: A History
We all know that Christmas is a time for excess. Somehow, all normal eating (and drinking) habits go out of the window and we become super gluttons, feasting as if we’re about to enter a six-month hibernation period. Although this habit is far from instinctive, it is a tradition that has been exhibited since before the birth of Jesus Christ: a little contradictory, no? That sherry which is only kept in the cupboard for semi-continental elderly relatives has in fact been around since 1100BC. The Christmas drinky timeline doesn’t stop there and I’ve collected some of the faves and put them in chronological order, so that you can see the ritualistic piss-up that has been around for centuries and long may it continue. It may not be quite to scale but have a little look:
Sherry 1100 BC
Mulled Wine 1390
Bucks Fizz 1921
My New Recipes! 2011
Should you, on the off-chance, be feeling sincerely Christmassy rather than just looking to drown out the sound of the dog choking on tinsel and Aunty swearing at the gravy, then I have some delightful ideas that are seasonally warming yet not inebriating: Actually Nice Eggnog Ingredients: 1 large egg 50g of golden caster sugar 300ml of full-fat milk 150ml of double cream ¼ nutmeg, grated 1 vanilla pod, seeds only
Method: 1.Separate the egg. Mix the yolk with the sugar, nutmeg and vanilla. 2.Whisk the egg into smooth but not stiff peaks. 3.Whisk the cream to thicken it slightly. 4.Heat the milk and, when it is about to boil, add the yolk mixture, stirring all the time. Heat gently for ten minutes: it doesn’t really thicken, so don’t worry, you’re not making custard. 5.When it’s nice and hot, gently whisk in the cream and egg white. 6.Serve into mugs and sprinkle with a little more nutmeg to make it pretty. The milk will send you to sleep and the nutmeg will give you crazy dreams. Enjoy. Serves: 3.
‘The milk will send you to sleep and the nutmeg will give you crazy dreams...’
Spiced Apple Juice
Ingredients: 1 litre of cloudy apple juice 1 tbspn of golden caster sugar 2 cinnamon sticks 6 whole cloves 4 black peppercorns 1 orange 1 lemon
Method: 1.Place the juice and sugar in a pan and place this over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. 2.Crumble the cinnamon stick and add the other spices. Keep the juice on a low heat so that it is steaming but not boiling. 3.Using a vegetable peeler, peel the orange and lemon, but only close to the surface so that you don’t get the bitter pith. 4.Add the peel and heat this for a further 15 minutes before straining and serving. Serves: 4. EVE HEMINGWAY
‘Seasonally warming yet not inebriating...’
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
The Tale of the Christmas Pudding:
nce upon a time in the 14th century, there existed plum porridge aka frumenty, which consisted of cracked wheat, almonds and currants. As the years went on and times changed, so did the recipe, eventually becoming what is now known today as Christmas pudding. But like all good tales, the story of the Christmas pudding is not as straightforward as one might think. In fact, it is riddled with scandal, religious extremists and royalists. From the 14th to the 15th century, frumenty changed from a runny liquid to a thicker consistency as breadcrumbs, eggs and dried fruit were added. The 15th century brought even more modifications as beef, onions and root vegetables were added to the mix. The 16th century gave birth to the Christmas pudding as we know it, for the meat and root vegetables were replaced by raisins and prunes. The pudding cloth was invented, creating the Christmas pudding shape. But most importantly and contrary to what had been the case previously, the pudding became strongly associated with Christmas. By the 19th century, the first Christmas pudding recipe was created by Eliza Acton and this has lived on to become the Christmas pudding we know and love today, made from spices, suet, breadcrumbs, dried fruit, caster sugar, almonds and (lots and lots of) brandy. Now to the interesting part of the tale: originally the pudding was served as a first course on Christmas day and it’s only since the 19th century that we have started eating it as a final course. Strangely enough, in 1644, the pudding was banned by the Puritans as they believed it to be the “invention of the scarlet whore of Babylon”. Even more bizarrely, the same fanatics tried to make celebrating Christmas illegal but, thankfully, Parliament soon put an end to that. The Christmas pudding was popularised by King George I, who requested it when he celebrated his first Christmas on the throne in 1714. What fascinates me the most about this story is the symbolic meaning attributed to virtually everything associated with the pudding. Thirteen ingredients are used, representing Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles. During the mixing, the pudding is stirred from east to west in honour of the journey made by the Three Wise Men. The holly decoration placed on top of the pudding signifies Christ’s crown of thorns, although in medieval times, holly was thought to provide protection against witches. I had previously thought that the tradition of setting the pudding alight was mainly for entertainment value, however this actually symbolises the passion of Christ. Well all stories must come to an end and I’m glad that the Christmas pudding lives happily ever after as the nation’s favourite dessert. Because let’s be honest, Christmas would not be the same without what the Puritans would describe as the “sinfully rich” Christmas pudding. THE END. SAPNA SIAN
Homemade Christmas Presents PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
Recipe for Salted Caramel Truffles: Everyone loves a tasty homemade gift, especially those who are a little strapped for festive cash. But forget cutesey cupcakes and chintzy cake pops and why not make your loved ones a more grown-up kind of treat for Christmas? The gooey sweetness of these truffles is offset by their surprisingly salty edge, making for an irresistible combination of flavours to impress your friends and family with. This recipe makes about 30 truffles, assuming you don’t munch too many as you make them. You can find jars of dulche du leche, which is a Latin American caramel spread, at all good supermarkets.
You will need:
350g of dulche de leche 200g of dark chocolate 300g of milk chocolate Coarse sea salt Cocktail sticks
-Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. When it’s smooth and glassy, add the dulche de leche. - Combine the two, stirring until the mixture becomes thicker and stiff. - Let the mixture cool and then refrigerate for a couple of hours.
- Once chilled, roll the mixture into small balls, each approximately 3cm in diameter. Place them on a sheet of tin foil and skewer each one with a cocktail stick.
- As before, melt the milk chocolate over boiling water. Take each truffle and dip in the milk chocolate coating, turning as you go to
Interview with Chef Manish Mehotra Manish is head chef at Covent Garden’s ‘Tamarai’, a Pan- Asian restaurant
Tamarai; 167 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, London, UK WC2B 5PG
Tamarai has a special menu offer of 3 courses for £15 running from Tuesday- Saturday throughout the holiday season. See www.tamarai.co.uk to view the menu.
How long have you been working at Tamarai?
I have been working at this restaurant since it opened in 2006. It has been the most creative journey of my life. What’s it like to manage a big kitchen on a day to day basis?
It is often believed that running a kitchen is trite and unimaginative, but the truth is that it’s always very challenging. One needs to constantly struggle for innovation especially considering the amount of competition this city brings. At its core, the work calls for ingenuity. What do you find most satisfying about your job?
The ability to create an ideal dish that people eat and appreciate.
Is there much room for flexibility/ creativity in your cooking?
There is a lot of work that goes into creating a dish. Since the cuisine is Pan-Asian, it has to be a combination of different elements, and aesthetics. Where do you develop your recipes from?
Day to day experiences and travelling inspires me to think up new ideas and ways to create something original. While I travel and meet new people, it helps me reflect upon
get rid of excess and ensure even coverage.
- When coated, place the truffles back on the tin foil and carefully remove the cocktail sticks. - Whilst the milk chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the top of each truffle with a pinch of salt. Go easy, as you don’t want them to be too overpoweringly salty. A very fine dusting does the trick.
- Leave to cool on a work surface and, when totally dry, pop them in a nice box and hand Ithem around. - Relax and let smug domestic spirit warm your cockles. NATASHA BLOOR
my style and how it can be enhanced.
Where do you source your ingredients from? We have different suppliers: Asian suppliers who provide ingredients which are flown in from China and Thailand. Meats and fish are used from local vendors as far as possible. What are the advantages of independent restaurants over chains?
Chain restaurants sometimes follow a mundane setup where the operations resemble a factory assembly line. Cooking for me is nothing less than an art form, so it requires independent thinking that comes in an independent restaurant where creativity is the only norm. Is Tamarai student friendly?
Definitely, especially the new menu which offers 3 courses for £15, giving a chance to savour the authentic pan Asian food without hitting the pocket too hard. Also, it’s a restaurant and nightclub with one of the most happening weekend parties which I think would appeal to strudents. Questions by HELENA GOODRICH
A Victorian Food Diary:
Preparing for Christmas:
rom the bitter chill I am greeted by every morning, I know that Christmas is certainly on the way. Though my preparations began months ago (the fruitcake is resting in the kitchen, having been made in September), there is still a flurry of activity: the goose must be ordered from the butcher, the ham is still to be cured, and the mice pies to be started. This doesn’t even take into account all of the decorations which we will hang tonight: every year, we endeavour to make it a family activity to trim the tree and the children enjoy it very much. For after dinner, I have made a fig pudding; there is little occasion for it but, once it is cooked, the whole house always becomes filled with the smell and it is most heart-warming. Though a little costly for a pudding, it is far more preferable to cheaper options which omit the eggs and have a flavour that is far less rich and enjoyable.
Fig Pudding Ingredients
2 lbs of figs 1 lb of suet 1/2 lb of flour 1/2 lb of bread crumbs 2 eggs A dash of milk
Cut the figs into small pieces, grate the bread finely and chop the suet until very small. Mix these together well and then add the flour. Beat the eggs well and add them to the mixture, followed by sufficient milk to make the whole into a stiff paste when combined. Butter a mould or basin and press the pudding into it very closely. Tie it down with a cloth and boil it for 3 hours. Turn it out of the mould or boil it for more time if it does not come out. Serve with melted butter, wine-sauce or cream. Time: 3 hours or longer. Average cost: 2s. Sufficient for: 7 or 8 persons. Season: suitable for a winter pudding. As seen by LIBBY MEYER
My day with an Easy Rider
It’s not every day you get picked up by an Easy Rider. However, that is exactly what happened to me on the morning of Wednesday July 13. I arrived at DaNang Train station in Vietnam with the hope of catching a taxi to Hoi An, which was a further 30km away. I was, as usual, greeted by the horrific prices of the taxi drivers, “$25” they claimed - no one going any cheaper - “it’s very far”. Then out of nowhere Chien said: “I’ll do it for $5.” Sold, I thought, it wasn’t until after that I realised I’d agreed to have myself and my 20kilo backpack driven to Hoi An on a motorbike. It didn’t matter though, Chien was different, his English for starters was impeccable, which is always an appeal and he had a very friendly manner. So off we set, now at this point I’d heard of the Easy Riders but was not 100% sure what they were. I’d never been on a motorbike before and although I was nervous, I was so excited, and honestly, the journey was worth every cent I paid for it. The journey from DaNang to Hoi An follows the infamous China Beach where the Americans landed during the war and it was breath taking. The coastline felt like it went on forever. We paused at a coffee shop, which at the time did irritate me because I’d been travelling since 11am the previous day from HaLong Bay on a bus to Hanoi then a train to DaNang. It was a big country. However, I’m very grateful for the stop because this is where I learned what Easy Riders were. They were a group of bikers, set up in the 90s, who set about showing tourists ‘the real Vietnam’, for a small fee of course. He showed me tens of testimonials explaining what they’d done, how much of a good time they’d had. He offered me the same service, for the two days I was in the area. I was already worried about money and so the idea of spending $150, as it would have been,
on 2 days and 1 night I just couldn’t justify. So instead we agreed on $70 for one day (which worked for me as I didn’t spend a penny the next day) and in this day he would show me ‘the real Vietnam’. We left at 8am and I was, I suppose, apprehensive of the day to come. We’d spent some time the previous day agreeing what I wanted to see. The only thing in the area I knew I’d wanted to see was the My Son ruins, linked to the Cham people and the Angkor Temples, and he said he could show me waterfalls and the Ho Chi Minh trail, as well as the ruins. If you ever go to Vietnam, I give you one piece of advice, do it on a motorbike. There is no other way to see that country. You will get sunburn on your knees and knuckles, and you will get a numb bum, but you’ll never regret it. I can’t even put into words how stunning it was. Chien first took me to what he called the ‘minority’ villages. I saw parts of Vietnam that you could never see on a tour. I was taken into people’s houses. Each settlement had a theme, for want of a better word. Vocation would perhaps be better. The first house I was taken into had massive cotton machines, and I mean if you caught your finger in it you’d lose it. The noise was incredible. In another village I was taken onto a farm where they made rice paper. They showed me the whole process of pouring and spreading the rice, much like we would to make a crepe, and picking it up and laying it out to dry. They even let me have a go! I went to the ruins after, and I can hardly remember them I was so interested in the things I’d just seen. They paled in comparison.
family in Vietnam had a temple, which is why there were so many and that people would rather
Ho Chi Minh trail Photo from Aidan Casey on Flickr.com
Luxury Travel Fair We rode through village after village, stopping every now and then. He explained how every
On my recent visit to the ‘Conde Nast Luxury Travel Fair’, I half expected to readily find a student friendly travel deal, that satisfied both the authentic appeal and the low budget limitation. Designed for the deep-pocketed, the fair had a ‘Golden Enclave’ set up with worldly examples of luxury hospitality, in the extravagance of the Olympia National Hall.
Most students like to tick things off their travel list. It’s like a premature bucket list, where we can gradually attest to having done a lot of things already in our short time on earth. For most, the greatest sense of achievement is fulfilled by going beyond the scope of familiarity and comfort and cutting all strings of attachment to what we already know.
Each stand stood for a different travel experience, taking you from one corner of the world to another, tapping into a variety of travel means and styles. However, the idea of chic, boutique and lavish travel doesn’t quite sit comfortably in a student’s word bank; the grandiose itineraries planned around excesses of high-end excursions, all exotically rich in culture with plenty of holistic touches at spa retreats. As it stands, a holiday of this nature may not be financially viable at this point in our student lives but is definitely worth dreaming about for the future.
Students and travelling are natural partners in shaping and conditioning someone into a culturally aware, secure and conscious individual. At the risk of sounding a bit ‘gap yah’, travel hones the individual, shedding light on areas of the self that had been previously untapped. Student travel tales make for the best retrospective topics of conversation later in life where the daily grind of ‘life’ is momentarily shunned by unearthing the solo or group journeys taken at a time where summer holidays were at least 3 months short.
For now, its about snagging the cheapest deals with the richest output. As I skirted around the many booths of the fair, I let my ‘studenty’ instincts lead the way, peeling my eyes onto anything remotely accessible for the student body. I cruised around several times in search for the student travel niche, which sadly was largely absent, but I had hope. On my way around I docked at the plush resorts of the Maldives, letting out deep sighs at the dreamy serenity of the intimate locations; made a quick pit stop at the alpine chic travel toget my slice of the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and finally anchored myself at a station more within student means.
With this in mind, I thought students might get on board with ‘Discover Latin America’ facilitated by the travel specialists: ‘Journey Latin America’. As a far fetched exotic way away from Britain, the awe inspiring natural wonders of Latin America are said to impinge and take you aback. What separates this journey from the surrounding sophistication hailed at every corner of the fair, is that the journey is tailored to your taste and budget. Latin America has a long heritage rooted in a unique tapestry of cultures, and historical Legacies. It offers a personalized exploration into the fascinatingly diverse cultures within Central and South America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia. The experience seemed to
decorate their temples than their homes. I saw the
boats that they used when the floods from the monsoon rains meant they had to move and you could see the level it usually got to. I saw graveyards, in which, Chien explained, people from the war who had died were buried. I saw the cashew nuts and the chillies; hundreds and hundreds of chillies. We rode along the Ho Chi Minh trail, which was no longer the old bike dirt track and more like an actual road. We went to a waterfall, which wasn’t a public touristic one, but one the locals used to visit. Just in the middle of nowhere. No big signs, no fancy entrance, just a man and a motorbike parking area. So undeveloped it was beautiful, untouched. We crossed a river on a little boat, the locals fascinated by me, what I did, what I was doing; amazed by the colour of my skin and the plumpness of my cheeks. I was dropped home at around 4pm, sunburnt, bum sore, and tired but in awe. I have to be honest; I hated Vietnam when I had arrived there days before. I was ripped off by a taxi driver trying to charge me and two other girls $250 for a taxi that should have been $25. Everywhere I went I felt like people just wanted my money and wanted me to get out. I went to HaLong Bay, which was stunning, but the boat trip was so commercialised it was almost ruined and I felt like I was being herded around like a sheep. Hanoi was horrible, and Ho Chi Minh not much better. But, by no means did I see all of Vietnam, and this little day trip really opened my eyes to what else I could see. The beauty of the countryside itself is unparalleled. This is the only reason I would go back again, to see it, under my own steam, riding through the countryside on a motorbike.
promote the all-encompassing nature of Latin America existing on a giant scale of dramatic beauty ablaze with spectacular sweeps of colour and vibrancy. Just standing in the bounds of their stand, I got a real sense of the utterly otherworldly experience they were promising; and unlike every other travel package, they dodged the ‘luxury’ label a fair amount. Lodging options are plentiful and varied from hotels to cosy haciendas or guesthouses suiting all preferences and choice. But the focus is more on the adventure and the outdoors rather than seeing all that Latin America has to offer through a pane a glass, resonating more with student demands and interests. The journeys have so many treasures to share, going across a vast topography of Latin America, making sure nothing goes unnoticed. You are the catalyst to your own adventure. The travel specialists key into your desires and expectations putting you in the driver seat, allowing you to set your adventure in any gear you like. Without leading you on too far, I hasten to bring you to the realisation that you’re going to have to save the pennies to a degree (other than towards your actual degree) for this excursion. Working the shops, pubs and restaurants for now might seem drudgingly painful but fixate your romantic gaze on trekking through the wilderness with immense waterfalls cascading over jungle clad cliffs, and I’m sure the will to power through will rev right up. GEORGIE BRADLEY
PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
The Telegraph Adventure Travel Show, the UK’s biggest and only show dedicated to adventure travel experiences off the beaten track, takes place on the 28th & 29th January 2012 at Olympia. The event will be packed with exciting new show features, free talks by leading explorers and adventurers, travel inspiration from the best companies in the business and practical advice to help you plan the adventure of a lifetime. Whether you want to plan an African Safari, go trekking in Nepal, find out about visiting Afghanistan, research your own expedition or take time out to travel the world – you can find all this information under one roof at The Telegraph Adventure Travel Show. London Student readers can receive tickets to the show for only £6 – saving £4 on the door price! Just quote ‘LONDONSTUDENT’ when ordering online at www.adventureshow.com or when calling 0871 230 7159. We also have a pair of tickets to give away! If interested, email email@example.com with ‘Competition’ as the subject. Simply tell us in 100 words where you would go for the adventure of a lifetime! The winner will be announced on the 20th December. Good luck!
An Interview With: Emilie Filou PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 6
According to its website, travel guidebook company Lonely Planet took on only eight new authors out of more than five hundred applications last year. Travel writing is clearly a career in high demand. Emilie Filou (originally from France, now a Londoner) is a freelance journalist and has been writing for Lonely Planet since 2008. She is currently updating Madagascar, which hits the shelves in June 2012. Here she shares her expertise on what travel journalism is really like, how to get involved and, last but not least, gives me some insider’s tips on our very own city, London. After graduating from Oxford, Emilie worked in international business journalism before applying for one of the much sought after Lonely Planet author jobs. She still jokes that fate must have been on her side when she landed her first assignment researching the South of France. “It was a bit of a leap of faith,” she tells me. And it seems to have been well rewarded, as she has gone on to research books such as Provence and The Cote d’Azur, West Africa and, most recently, London.
So, let’s get down to business. Is travel writing actually all it’s cracked up to be? Emilie pauses slightly before answering: “It is my idea of a great job, but it’s definitely not a holiday. You aren’t really there to enjoy, you have a real purpose.” As she explains, loneliness can often come hand in hand with researching a guidebook, especially if you are away from family. Tight deadlines are also a downside, although Emilie doesn’t struggle too much here; she selects her own projects, making sure she always enjoys them. This is a crucial difference compared to other forms of journalism, where stories are frequently assigned by an editor and you might find yourself writing about a topic you have no interest in or, worse, strongly disagree with. And in terms of finances, of course, it is far more profitable to be a banker than a travel writer. Another important issue is that of personal safety when taking these research trips alone, especially as a female writer. Whilst researching in Togo and Benin, Emilie not only received several very serious marriage proposals but, much to her dismay, her gender also came under scrutiny.
Although examples like these can appear quite comical, they can develop into more dangerous situations. In Tunisia, Emilie found the amount of sexual harassment she received quite overwhelming. Despite this, she insists that a little common sense can go a long way and the experience of visiting these countries alone is one she treasures.
Much closer to home, however, London presents few of these problems. In fact, Emilie describes her latest London book as “the most fun gig” of her Lonely Planet career to date. Her tips? Firstly, get your MP to show you around Westminster free of charge and take in a parliamentary debate; then experience some of the free shows offered by the BBC; and finally, take advantage of all those free museums that London has to offer. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true interview with a Lonely Planet author without some tips on the best eateries in town. Emilie’s top picks include affordable Indian joint Mooli’s in Soho; Yauatcha, a Chinese restaurant serving delicious dim sum (also in Soho); and The Providores and Tapa Room in Marylebone if you fancy something more upmarket.
As Emilie knows, these websites serve as a type of “window shopping” for editors and the simple fact is that “having some sort of a presence online is essential” now. With the importance of guides like Lonely Planet firmly established, we come to a final tricky question: are these books actually a force for good or is their effect more a negative one? Emilie admits this is a difficult one to answer. In some countries, such as India, Lonely Planet can make or break a restaurant by recommending it. This is not a general rule though. Emilie explains that, in the end, it is up to the countries themselves to successfully handle the tourism they receive. “Travellers have a big part to play; the book is a guide, not a blueprint,” she adds. We leave this topic on Emilie’s tantalising note that, as an author, it is sometimes her prerogative not to put something in the book in order to preserve it. All this aside, Emilie more than recommends travel writing as a career.
Let us end with her expert advice on how to enter this crowded world. Firstly, keep your options open; she herself is involved in several other projects, mostly to do with socioeconomic issues in Africa. This ties in with her suggestion that using what you know can be a great advantage; Emilie’s French background proved to be her unique selling point. Contacts are also crucial; make them and keep them. Website Gorkana (www.gorkana.com) is essential to finding out about available jobs and, most importantly, who to apply to. And finally, don’t sell yourself short; if your work is good sell it for what it is worth. Check out www.emiliefilou.com and www.lonelyplanet.com for more information on Emilie’s projects and other Lonely Planet publications. ISABELLA NOBLE
London is also the first destination where Emilie found it useful to use a wide variety of technological resources to complete her research. As the modern world plunges ahead, Lonely Planet (like most other companies) is constantly making changes in order to ensure their books remain versatile. At the end of the day though, Emilie tells me, “people will always be asking for recommendations. It’s just that the format you receive it in or the format we produce it in will change.” Nonetheless, she also points out that there are many places where a good old-fashioned book is still the easiest way to access information. The idea of trying to use an iPhone in the middle of the Amazon rainforest just doesn’t seem quite right. It is not only companies as a whole that are being affected by technological change. In recent years, authors have felt the need to adapt the way they approach their work and also how they market themselves. Most writers are now active on networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and many of them have their own personal websites.
Useful Things for Women to Do while Travelling Abroad
It’s a well known fact that, sadly, female travellers have to take extra precautions to ensure their safety when they’re abroad. We can’t grow a beard and slip into Waziristan, take a solo road trip across Saudi Arabia or (apparently) wear trousers in Tuscon, Arizona. In fact, everything from finding accommodation to making friends with locals is far more of a mission than for men. As with most things, however, the fact that it’s harder makes it far more satisfying when you actually pull it off. Keep calm, ignore the wolf whistles and follow these recommendations for a hassle-free trip:
1. Put a ring on it: Although it may make you feel like a mad spinster, it’s a good idea to follow Beyonce’s advice in this instance. Wearing a wedding ring is a sure fire way to see off unwanted attention, especially if you accompany it with the appropriate dance moves. 2. Wear sunglasses: It’s a great way to avoid eye contact with amorous or frightening people, and also gives you an air of mysterious cool to hide such things as being so sweaty your mascara’s melted all over your face.
3. Follow the local’s body language: Although Cosmo may have told you that copying someone else’s gestures is a sure-fire way to pull, when travelling it means that you don’t go proclaiming yourself to be a prostitute by shaking hands with someone. As always: if in doubt, go for the highfive.
4. Go native: People will be much less likely to want to harm you/annoy you off if they think you’re not fresh off the plane. Unfortunately the internet has done more harm than good for the international reputation of European females, with gems such as “Buffy the Vampire Layer” being the only experience that many have had of our daily habits. Thus, do your bit towards breaking the stereotype by wearing similar clothes to local women. 5. Stash money: Being female, you’re slightly more likely to get robbed than a man. Because this is really unfair, turn your vulnerability into comedy by carrying a decoy wallet filled with monopoly money or things pulled out from the communal drain at your hostel.
6. Bring your imaginary friend: It’s hard not to get offended when instead of being impressed at your proactive daringness, friendly locals will immediately start asking after your husband. However, it’s often good to keep your imaginary beloved close to hand (especially if he’s a karate expert with a knife collection and a tracker dot attached to your scalp). This is particularly important as in many cultures the only women who walk around alone are prostitutes.
7. Don’t tell people what to think: Though it’s incredibly frustrating not being allowed to do everything that men are, it’s not going to help anyone if you start banging on about the virtues of equality. Even if you disagree with local views, at some point it’s time to accept that you’re lucky to be allowed entry into the area at all. Besides, if you start quoting de Beauvoir and screaming, everyone will think you’re having a hysterical episode, thus reaffirming opinions about foreign females and their madcap ways. 8. Self-promotion: Even if you’re a puny anthropologist, it’s totally possible to strike fear into people’s hearts by telling them you’re an SAS
soldier/ policewoman on holiday. If they don’t believe you, look at your watch and make a disapproving sound before handing them a folded up piece of paper. Walk away into the sunset as they faint after reading the words ‘you’re next’. 9. Make friends with local women: They’ll give you the ins and outs of how to act appropriately, while providing a certain amount of protection. Even in areas of the world where women’s rights are negligible, mothers and sisters hold a force over their male relatives that is far stronger than a pervasive culture. Or as some will put it, big hard men are scared of their mums because they don’t know how to do their own washing. 10. Don’t be too scared: The vast majority of women who travel do so without anything unsavoury happening to them. Let people know where you are, stuff some emergency money in your bra and you’ll be fine. Just remember to avoid all-male saunas and if in doubt, call your mum. LOUISE CALLAGHAN
JUNO CALYPSO x SUGARLESQUE :: Exhibition opening party :: Sugarlesque Boutique 2nd Floor, Kingly Court Carnaby Street London W1B 5PW www.junocalypso.com | www.sugarlesque.com
LISTINGS The Trouble with Art Criticism at ICA Running alongside the ICA’s current Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition there is a series of talks concerning the problems faced by the new generation’s up and coming: artists, art critics, art curators, etc. The Trouble with Art Criticism is a panel discussion that has attracted some of Art Criticism’s big names, including the Guardian’s chief art critic, Adrian Searle. Book early. Institute of Contemporary Art, December 14. The John Edwards Lecture 2011: Rem Koolhaas and Nicholas Serota at Tate Modern The John Edwards lecture series continues to tick influential cultural figures off of its checklist. On this occasion, Tate Director Nicholas Serota will be talking to award winning Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas about architecture, art, the creative city, and more. Well, I’ll be there! Tate Modern, December 12
Gesamstkunstwerk at Saatchi Gallery The title, a nod to Wagner’s theory of all encompassing artwork, this is Charles Saatchi’s (and his buying power’s) take on current German art. As usual, expect overblown, overexaggerated, oversized, artwork, and lots of it. This is not a comprehensive view of the current German art scene in any sense, and the title doesn’t pertain to the show’s content at all, but it is fun, and it’s worth seeing for Jeppe Hein’s vibrating mirror alone. Saatchi Gallery, 18th Nov 2011 - 30th Apr 2012 Tilt's London Liming, a night of poetry Tilt’s London Liming is a spoken word party transporting the cosmopolitan vibe of Trinidad 'liming' culture to London - a chilled-out carnival atmosphere at which people can mix, drink and dance. UK’s best spoken word performers interspersed with Soca, Brazilian, Reggae, Hi-Life and dance tunes. Rich Mix 8 December Doors 7.30pm Show 8pm £7/5 concs.
Tilt’s London Liming The Association of Musical Marxists 'We still hate the 80s' night of music, politics and literature Rounding up Unkant & the AMM's first, action packed year of operations, join us at our regular haunt, The Blue Posts, on 15th December, to hear sets by Alan Tomlinson ('A Material History of the Trombone') and Lol Coxhill, plus speakers Sean Bonney ('Coltrane's Live in Seattle & Riots'), Keith Fisher ('Report from Hamburg'), Andy WIlson ('Why People Get Stockhausen But Don't Get David Stubbs'), Ben Watson and more. Upstairs at The Blue Posts, Rupert Court/Rupert Street, London. 7pm Thursday 15th December 2011 ATG 24 HOUR NYE-NYD MADHAUS We have DJ's across the board turning up all night and day. Funktion 1 sound system 2 story 6 room madhouse Large outside chill out area with sofas and marquee 2 fully stocked bars Full security on the door, party is yours once your inside Secret venue near Angel and Islington and is very easy to get to location will be revealed closer to the time.Tickets are £20 TICKETS ON SALE NOW- http://ticketfort.com/
Overproof X Dont Watch That TV XMAS JAM FOOTSIE (NEWHAM GENERALS) R1 RYDERS (FUNKITEK) SPOOKY (DEJAVU) MOTIVE (BUMP) DJ HAUS (HOT CITY BASS) DAN BEAN & BENJAMIN D (THE HEATWAVE) JOE GRIME (DEJA VU) SKINNY MACHO (NASTY FM) TIM & BARRY (DONT WATCH THAT) SHAUN SAVAGE (FLESH N BONE) East Village Club. £5 BEFORE 11, £7 AFTER! SO SPECIAL! W/ DJ MAK 10, ACYDE, AND KO!! ACYDE (THE SHINING, UK) DJ MAK 10 (N.A.S.T.Y, EAST LONDON) MUY FAMOSA (NEW YORK CITY, USA) AND KO (TANZAPAN) DAVE THE RAVE (MILTON KEYNES UK) NEW MONEY (RIO DE JANEIRO BRASIL) VAN DER WAVY (CANNING TOWN UK) The Alibi 91 Kingsland High Street Dalston London E8 2PB 8PM - 3AM FREE ENTRY ALL NIGHT ! ! ! ! THE DOCTOR'S ORDERS NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY For the tried and tested never bested sickest Hip-Hop night extravaganza in London this NYE look no further: MR THING vs HARRY LOVE (4 deck set) SPIN DOCTOR KIDKANEVIL CHRIS P CUTS Hosted by Iron Braydz Room 2: Suspect Packages Reggae Room with Disorda & Seroce £20 in advance. http://bigchill.net/house/basics/doctorsordersnye2011 9pm - 5am Saturday 31st December 2011 @ Big Chill House
Musical Fun at the BFI Basslaced Christmas Party Talk about an early Christmas present! Basslaced have pulled all the stops out for their Christmas special with master reggae and dancehall selecta David Rodigan and grime supremo Plastician heading up the bill. Main Room: David Rodigan, Plastician, Killsonik, The Prototypes, Eddie K, Stinkahbell, Soul Circuit MCs: AD, Inja, Koast Room Two: The Heatwave presents Roska & Jamie George, The Heatwave ft. Rubi Dan, Brackles, Seani B, Jack Swift Room Three: Pack London presents Sick Chirpse DJ's, Boyson, Newjack, Robin Hood, Sai, D-Rail, Mr Luna, The Amen Brothers Cable London, Friday December 16th. £11 tix - MOTD Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance! The MGM Musical Over the course of December, the BFI is exhibiting all of MGM's classic musicals from the 1940's and 50's. Many of these films constitute some of the largest spectacles ever made for cinema. Definitely not to be missed! The Prince Charles The Prince Charles cinema in Chinatown (if you haven't been, go as soon as you can!) has dozens of crazy events over the course of the year, and Christmas time is when the real blowout happens. On the 18th, the Prince Charles is showing a double bill of It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. If Christmas films aren't your thing, you could try the theatre's upcoming Labyrinth masquerade ball on the 29th.
A Site For Eye Sores - EVOL The first London show from berlin based stencillist EVOL comes to our very own shoreditch. Turning street boxes in to miniature Berlin squallor he brings a fresh breath of urban art to these shores. December 1st-23rd 46-48 commercial street. London, E1