THE COURTAULDIAN The Courtauld Institute of Artâ€™s Official Student Newspaper
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THE EDITORIAL TEAM
Deputy Editor Harr-Joht Kaur Takhar
Editor in Chief Ellen Matin Charlesworth As I write this, Harr-Joht and I are staring forlornly at an empty Domino’s box, desperately trying to wish more potato wedges into existence. At three minutes to twelve I think the amount of time spent on this issue could be counted in the hundreds of hours, and it’s a testament to the editorial team’s dedication (or our procrastination) that there are five people still actively working on it at this hour. But we succeeded! You hold our pride and joy in your hands. We can safely call it so, now that we’re no longer cursing it three times a day as it clashes with essay deadlines and presentations. Yet, this labour of love is as much yours as ours. Without your contributions, The Courtauldian simply wouldn’t exist. We are so thankful; for the first time since any of us have been at the Courtauld, the paper has been inundated with articles and illustrations. Just to incorporate them all we’ve upped the number of pages to 36. We’re a veritable tome at this point! Of course, the force behind this upswing in popularity is our wonderful editorial team. Frazzled though we may be, I will continue to believe that every single one of them is capable of working miracles. Even at this late hour, Harr-Joht continues to drop gems of wisdom, summarising the issue as, ‘wrapped in a Berger coat, with a molten Berger centre, perfect for February’s freezing temperatures.’ A tag-line for our social media campaign if ever I heard one. Matt and Tom continue to debate about our front cover, and thanks to the marvels of Facebook I watch as the team pour over four different copies of Ways of Seeing. It’s well past midnight now, and with no potato wedges forthcoming I think I might have to brave the cold and head home. But I can leave safe in the knowledge that this issue is one to be proud of.
Head of Illustrations Anna Seibæk Torp-Pedersen
Editor in Chief Deputy Editor Design Head of Illustrations Editor without Portfolio Art, Architecture & Design Editor Books Editor Assistant Stage, Screen & Music Editor Assistant Fashion Editor Assistant Debate Editor Sundries & Diversions Editor
Illustrations by Sabina Jardim, Brittany Richmond and Emily Knapp
The Courtauldian c/o The Students’ Union The Courtauld Institute of Art
Ellen Charlesworth Harr-Joht Kaur Takhar Julia Craze Anna Sejbæk TorpPedersen Matt Page Tom Powell Amy Page Lorna Tiller Bianca Schor Beatrice Speelmans Barbora Kozusnikova Amelia Young Shayan Barjesteh Van Waalwijk Van Doorn Ryan Cigana
Somerset House Strand London WC2R 0RN
The Courtauldian is the editorially independent student paper of the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the individual authors to whom they are attributed and do not necessarily reflect those of The Courtauldian, the Courtauld Institute of Art Students’ Union, or any of their staff or representatives. Every effort has been made to avoid inaccuracies, to reproduce content only as permitted by copyright law, and to appropriately and fully credit the copyright holder(s) of any content reproduced.
Contents Current Affairs
Statement from the Welfare Officers Upcoming Events: TEDxCourtauldInstitute ‘Not only do we need to talk about Donald Trump, we mustn’t stop.’
Art, Architecture & Design
Supreme x Louis Vuitton: Is this the Future of High-End Fashion? Remembering Lord Snowdon Mimalism and Materiality
Herb Ritts: Super – A Catwalk Down Memory Lane Transcending Boundaries Australia’s Impressionists The Female Gaze A Closer Look: Jacob Epstein’s Bust of Charles SpencerChurchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough Artist Spotlight: Annabel Neikirk Karina Akopyan – Feature Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World Reflections on A Woman’s Afterlife Robert Rauschenberg ‘Every utopia contains a dystopia.’ – Feature Artists’ Lives: Speaking of the Kasmin Gallery
Feature John Berger: ‘Never again shall a single story be told as though it were the only one.’ 21 Illustration by Emily Knapp
Feature Interview with Karina Akopyan
12 Stage & Screen
La La Land: Musical Dream and the Reality of Relationships Manchester by the Sea Delves into Deep Waters The Big, the ‘bandu’ and the Ugly Giselle, or the Perfect Dream Woody Allen: Where we at?
Illustration by Jordan Butt
Dublin: The City of Books Art in Fiction: Autumn by Ali Smith & The Muse by Jessie Burton Watership Down by Richard Adams Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and Civilisation by James Stourton
‘Is Tristram Hunt the right person to lead the V&A?’
Sundries & Diversions Neutrality Seasonal Snaps Broke Guide to London: Art Lovers Edition Crossword
Statement from the Welfare Officers By Courtauld Students’ Union Liberation and Welfare Officers In light of recent events in Britain, America and internationally, the Students’ Jacqueline Kent, Union Liberation and Welfare Officers wished to issue a statement reiterating Women’s Officer the Union’s position towards discrimination. Jacqueline.Kent@courtauld.ac.uk As an internationally diverse community with students and staff from around Robyn Sampson, the globe, the Liberation and Welfare Officers wanted to reassure current and Dsability Officer and Head of LGBT+ Society prospective students that the Courtauld Students’ Union always has and always Robyn.Sampson@courtauld.ac.uk will have zero tolerance of discriminatory behaviour, attitudes and actions. Harr-Joht Takhar, Last Monday, the Students’ Union promoted attendance to a demonstration Black and Minority Ethnic Student’s Officer against President Donald Trump’s #MuslimBan. As a Union, we exist to Harr-Joht.Takhar@courtauld.ac.uk represent each member of the student body and safeguard their needs and welfare. As such, the Liberation and Welfare Officers will continue to promote Sarah Williamson, activities and events that affect our student population. The Courtauld Students’ International Student’s Officer Union will not stand by any activity that endangers or discriminates any of its Sarah.Williamson@courtauld.ac.uk community, both within the university or in the outside world. All the policies surrounding complaints and discrimination at the Courtauld can If you have experienced any form of discrimination or have been made to feel be found on the SU website. The Courtauld also has two dedicated counsellors, uncomfortable whilst at the Courtauld, please contact any of our Liberation Nancy Bell and Ia Tollstam (maternity cover for Carla Preston). You can make and Welfare Officers. They can help resolve your concern or assist you through an appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays by emailing counselling@courtauld. submitting a formal complaint. ac.uk and they can assist you with any longer term issues you may be facing. ■
TEDxCourtauldInstitute Upcoming Events
By Hannah Marynissen
TEDxCourtauldInstitute is returning on Sunday 12th March 2017 and sets out to unravel its ‘Connections’. The exciting conference will consist of live speakers, performances and prerecorded TED talks presented by the Courtauld Institute of Art. Inspired by the connections made at previous TEDxCourtauldInstitute events, ‘Connections’ will aim to bond with the communities, organisations and individuals that surround the Courtauld to hear their stories. Taking the Courtauld Institute of Art as a point of intersection, we strive to bind its fibres closer together, expand its network and ask ourselves: where might the ties we establish today lead us tomorrow? Let me ask you, what does a Japan-based ultra-technologist, curator of twentiethcentury fashion and comedian have in common? They will all be speaking at the event! Once again, the platform provided by TEDxCourtauldInstitute has attracted an exciting range of speakers who have travelled from far and wide and have an equally broad range of interests. It is our aim to unite these individuals in the consideration of ‘Connections’ at the inspirational one-day TEDxCourtauldInstitute conference. Tickets are now available online on our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram as well as on our website: www.tedxcourtauld.com ■
February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Current Affairs
‘Not only do we need to talk about Donald Trump, we mustn’t stop.’ By Jordan Butt Since his inauguration on Saturday, it has swiftly become apparent what can be expected of Donald Trump’s presidency. In a sadly unsurprising turn of events, it appears that a reality TV star, upon becoming the leader of the free world, doesn’t care about much more than his image. For what it’s worth, I think it’s important to understand his media strategy from the beginning and leading right up to the election. Whether or not his presidential bid was legitimate or simply history’s worst ego trip doesn’t matter at this point - it worked perfectly. In the interest of comparison, it’s worth skimming through the announcement speeches of his Republican rivals from 2015; for instance, Ted Cruz’s speech focused on the ‘promise of America,’ ‘the incredible opportunity of the American dream’, a ‘legal immigration system that [would welcome and celebrate] those who come to achieve the American dream’. Of course, the ideas put forward in this speech were miles away from the Democrat policies the world has grown accustomed to over the past eight years, but they were traditional Republican ideas that appealed to the American Conservative voter: while not universally agreeable, not chosen out of malice. Donald Trump’s announcement speech a few weeks later was anything but. It’s easy to forget the full litany of problematic things that have since come out of the man’s mouth, far easier to forget exactly when and were he said them, but it was from the absolute beginning that he was referring to Mexicans as ‘rapists’ to Islamic terrorists as people with whom he was ‘in competition with’ in the Middle East. One quote that particularly stands out in hindsight is ‘when you run, you have to announce and certify to all sorts of governmental authorities your net worth. So I said, “That’s OK.” I’m proud of my net worth. I’ve done an amazing job.’ It was a speech of anecdotal evidence, unsubstantiated claims, defamation of America’s ‘enemies’ and more than anything, how that related to him personally. More importantly, it set the standard for what was to become the Trump Trademark Speech. Trump’s strategy of keeping himself in the headlines, and therefore in the minds of the American electorate through his unflappable use of hateful rhetoric was a masterful piece of PR, especially in an age where people were ‘tired of experts’. Any criticism was, and still is, easily disregarded as the words of the ‘liberal elite’, the ‘snowflakes’, the ‘libtards,’ making serious debate impossible. It suddenly became appropriate to tell an opponent you’d put them in prison. Politics has become a game of one-upmanship; grind down
your opponent, check if what you said was remotely true later, if ever. Exposure was all that mattered, positive or negative.
number one in inauguration ratings. They were many times higher than FAKE NEWS @CNN public is smart!’ It is clear that coverage of the truth about his presidency upsets him, hence his need for Where this strategy went wrong was that it ‘alternative facts’. In the past months, ‘alternative’ didn’t account for a loss in the popular vote. An has become the euphemistic prefix de jour. There is inauguration as the president with the worst of course, another term for ‘alternative facts’ - lies. incoming approval ratings since polls began. In a country where the majority of voters didn’t actually Trump’s ego cannot deal with the fact that the vote for Trump, it makes sense that the majority of majority of voters in America now dislike him as media outlets will be critical of him, and it is clear a person, as president, rather than in a love/hate that he is unable to handle the backlash. reality TV way, and he is responding in the only way a reality TV star knows how; attacking the media he Of course, it would be expected for media outlets believes are responsible for perpetuating this hatred. to be critical of the President of the United States It does not bode well at all that advisors are not able no matter their majority - this is the role of the free to stop his temper tantrums on Twitter, that they press; to hold those in charge to account. It’s part were not able to stop him from demanding that Sean of the job. However, according to the Associated Spicer call a press conference in order to denounce Press, Donald Trump’s first weekend in the White the claims of these media bodies and simply lie to House has left him unable to ‘enjoy’ it because of his their faces. Rather than accepting the fact that he negative coverage in the media. lost the popular vote, he has blamed it on 3 million illegal immigrant voters voting instead for Hillary - pretty convenient for him that not enough of them voted in the rust-belt states that gave him his electoral seats. Trump’s attitude to the media is in itself incredibly worrying, and with the latest revelation from one of his advisors that his administration is considering evicting the press corps from the White House, it is chilling to think where this will end. With a man in charge who called his own countrymen his ‘enemies’ in a New Year’s tweet, a word reserved for use by George W. Bush for Al-Qaeda, by Barack Obama for ISIS, it seems to be a slippery slope before his inability to handle criticism is directed at another country, with disastrous consequences. Five days in to his Presidency, he has already threatened Chicago This sentence is worrying for a number of reasons; with martial law. it is almost as if Trump went into the election with a totally juvenile idea of what being president It is for this reason that we, and the global media, actually entails. This is clear from his failure to mustn’t stop showing him the highest possible attend briefings, his reasoning being that he is a amount of scrutiny. Saturday’s international protest ‘smart person’. His inability to comprehend the was an incredible display of strength in the face responsibility of the presidential position has led, of a man woefully unprepared to be President; and will lead, to an attack campaign on anyone who whose policies will usher in an age of suspicion and dares to point it out. He has got what he wanted, decline of minority rights. His every action must and it is clear that he thought the media would be be analysed; his every word fact-checked; every lie nice and respect him once he was in charge. called out. Failing to do so risks normalising his behaviour. He and the Republicans will be effectively Although tweets are limited to 140 characters, unopposed for the next for years in government; a they have the ability to say so much more, and lack of opposition in the media on top of this will what they tell us about Trump’s attitude to the be nothing short of disastrous. ■ media is beyond worrying. In response to coverage of the size of the audience at his inauguration, he Illustration: author’s own tweeted ‘Congratulations to @FoxNews for being
Art, Architecture & Design
Editor’s Note By Tom Powell I don’t know about you, but I’m probably not the most assiduous reader of exhibition wall texts. If I find something particularly interesting, instead of getting out my notebook and pencil while attempting to dutifully scribble down the artspeak, I’ll sooner whip out my phone and take a quick photo. Harmless, right? Well it seems that art critic Waldemar Januszczak recently found out that’s not the case. Having been turfed out of Turner Contemporary in Margate, Januszczak took to twitter to rail against the gallery and its no-photography policy. Obviously not serious in his suggestion that he might be water boarded by the gallery for taking photos of their captions, his twitter storm did have a serious outcome. Turner Contemporary have since decided to allow visitors to take photographs of their captions! Hurrah! A moral victory! Another piece of red-tape cut away. How dare they inhibit my right to fill my own iPhone with reams of decontextualized gallery captions that I’ll never look at again. We recently heard from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport that museum visitor numbers were down between April 2015 to March 2016 by 6.2% compared to the same period in 2014-15. These figures also show that a smaller proportion of total visitors are from the UK. What can this mean? That Nigel & Co should have been focusing on the culture tourists, coming over here and looking at art that Hard Working Families have paid for with their taxes? Probably not. Does this mean that,
as Jonathan Jones has said in the Guardian, the drop in visitor numbers is an indication that we’re an aspirationally impoverished nation? I wouldn’t go that far. But it can’t be helped by the constant bashing the arts and humanities keep getting. The focus on STEM (Science, technology, engineering and maths) in education is exclusive, and it’s no wonder that there are fewer school trips to galleries if they are seen to be taking away from important time studying the ‘important’ subjects. Instead, the report blames a combination of factors on the fall in attendance, citing a lack of big name blockbuster exhibitions as one reason. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I could stomach another Picasso exhibition. Oh… Lack of aspiration didn’t stop Matt Page getting to see Fear and Love at the new and improved Design Museum (p. 14). And I’m not aware of any water-boarding at Tate Modern, where Sean Ketteringham went to the blockbuster Rauschenberg show (p. 15). We have feminist readings of Egyptian burial rites (p. 14), Herb Ritts’ supermodel snaps at Hamiltons (p. 6 ) and reversals of the male gaze (p. 8). Ahead of an appearance at Courtauld TedX, Fred Shan reviews TeamLab’s show at Pace (p. 7). I’ve been listening to the voice of the artist at Tate Britain (p. 7) and you can read our regular Artist Spotlight interview, this time with Annabel Niekirk (MA, History of Art) (p. 10). Illustration by Jasmine Clark
Herb Ritts: Super – A Catwalk Down Memory Lane By Jennifer Strotz With the return of the slip dress and the choker, now seems the appropriate moment to revisit another 90s fashion icon: the supermodel. As if on cue, Naomi, Christy, and their elite circle have strutted into Mayfair, where they grace the lapis walls of Hamiltons Gallery in black and white. The occasion is Herb Ritts: Super, an exhibition conceived by Hamiltons, the unique representative for the late American photographer in the U.K. Partnering with their associates at the Herb Ritts Foundation, they have scoured the archives to deliver exceptional gelatin silver prints that best showcase the continued impact of ‘anti-glamour’ photographer. While today’s models rise to stardom via Instagram filters, industry hopefuls at the cusp of the 90’s became ‘supers’ through Herb Ritts’ light suffused lens. ‘You just fall in love with that light,’ Naomi Campbell raved, ‘it’s Herb’s light.’ And the body-conscious photographs at Hamiltons are unmistakable as the work of the L.A.-based, Bard-educated art historian. Citing Greek sculpture as inspiration, Ritts dissolved the boundary between commercial and artistic photography by removing ‘fashion’
from the equation. Abandoning staged studios, he manipulated hard light to focus on tonal contrasts and emphasize mannerist bodily contours. The result is a series of minimalist portraits framed against oceanic and arid backdrops that sold a generation on the concept of easy-breezy, laid-back California cool. Like Manet’s Olympia, the bare ‘supers’ at Hamiltons lock eyes unabashedly with their viewers. As Ritts’ contemporaries Robert Mapplethorpe and Bruce Weber sought to use the body to shock audiences or sell male sexuality, Herb seems to have sought to normalize nudity by making it secondary to his composition. The subject of the iconic 1989 group portrait Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, for instance, is not their entwined bodies, but rather the angles and shadows cast by their languid limbs – and their piercing stares, which dare you to think otherwise. Visitors to Hamiltons will likely be drawn in by the allure of these ‘supers’, but walk away enchanted by their maker. ■
Stephanie Seymour, Hollywood (A), 1991 © Herb Ritts
February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
Transcending Boundaries Review By Fred Shan
“This is an interactive exhibition, guys, feel free to touch the walls and walk around the room,” our guide explained as we were ushered into the first room of teamLab’s exhibition Transcending Boundaries at Pace Gallery. Seasoned museumgoers though we are, our training in moving silently from one thing on the wall to the next – subtly switching our gaze between an artwork and the catalogue text – hardly prepared us for engaging with the immersive experience created in teamLab’s exhibition. But gradually we allow ourselves to succumb to the wonder of teamLab’s creation; and it proves to be an experience unlike any other. The exhibition consists of three rooms, and as we progress from one to the next, the experience becomes increasingly more intimate and introspective. We begin in a room which is nothing short of a visual feast – a waterfall descends in the distance, extending into a river that flows across the room. The stream magically parts as it reaches us. Red, yellow and green butterflies flutter surround us and fade away as we reach out to touch them. Inherent in teamLab’s works is their desire to conjure a world that the audience could inhabit. Placed into the context of European art theory, this concept could be seen as a continuation of the
Gesamtkunstwerk, the idea popularised by composer Richard Wagner, where art totally immerses and engage the audience through multiple senses. But while the audience of the Gesamtkunstwerk remain passive spectators, teamLab’s audience become active performers in the art.
Could the installation imply that, despite our physical and ideological differences, we are all composed of that same humanity which binds us and overcomes our superficial distinctions? In a dystopian age where human compassion for one
another comes under increasing threat from divisive This idea is most eloquently expressed in the last demagoguery and sectionalism, the artwork could room of the exhibition which, when devoid of carry a potent message. But do teamLab envisage visitors, is pitch black. As people come into the their art playing an ideological role? And how room, flowers begin to grow and blossom on and adaptable is their art to the Western audience? around them. This is an artwork whose very existence depends on the presence of the viewer. But there Interest in their work on this side of the globe is is another layer of complexity. The viewer cannot clearly phenomenal; their exhibition sold out on make out the flora on their own body. To them they the very first day. But thanks to TedX we will have appear as beams of light, blurry and abstracted like another opportunity to engage with teamLab. One the dots in a pointillist painting. The significance of the group’s directors will speak at the event, of these light patterns take shape only when seen which takes place at the Courtauld on March 12th. by others standing in the room. The viewer is at TeamLab is among a guest line-up that reflects once the subject and object of the spectator’s gaze. the diverse, interdisciplinary community which constitutes the creative industry today. Such a unique As we sat together, flowers grew around us until opportunity to listen to and network with these they joined us together like jewels adorning inspiring leaders of their field shouldn’t be missed. ■ a diadem. Feeling as though I am under the limelight, I feel an urge to deliver some poignant line, but remain silent. Words have no place in this realm of collective, ritualistic contemplation. Images: author’s own
February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
Australia’s Impressionists Review By Elena Caslini
Raise your hand if you knew there was an Australian Impressionism. If by chance you didn’t, there’s no need to worry! The National Gallery is here to help with an entire exhibition dedicated to the topic (the first one of this type organised in a European art institution). With 41 paintings coming from Australian art museums (mostly the National Gallery of Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales) and private collections, Australia’s Impressionists is a small but effective way to discover the main artists who, inspired by European Impressionism, brought this pictorial language to their continent and defined it in a specifically ‘Australian’ way. The exhibition begins with the ‘9 by 5 inches
The Female Gaze
Impressionist Exhibition’ held in Melbourne in 1889 where some of the paintings executed by Tom Roberts (1856-1931), Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) and Charles Conder (1868-1909) were painted onto small cigar boxes measuring, you guessed it, 9 by 5 inches. This was the first time an Australian audience experienced this style of painting in their own country – a style derived from a direct observation of nature, and of luminous and atmospheric effects. The birth of an Australian Impressionism is credited to these three artists, whose paintings are characterized by an extreme clearness of light, which runs as a thread throughout the whole second section. Here, grand landscapes are transformed by Australian
Impressionists into history paintings. Rocky coasts, unlimited beaches, infinite landscapes hosting both the work of the soil and of the mines become the real protagonists of Australian history. Nevertheless, light is also the indisputable focus of more intimate images documenting life in Australia in the late nineteenth century. In A Holiday at Mentone (1888) by Charles Conder, a small painting documenting bourgeois enjoying a sunny afternoon at the beach, a crystalline light illuminates the scene and transfigures the trousers of the proper dandy with the bowler hat, almost making them transparent. ■
To explore this concept, I decided to paint a male In my work I wanted to focus on creating an friend of mine. To some his body might be seen image that emulated all the problems surrounding By Elly Stephenson as aesthetically pleasing. However, rather than the female nude, projected on the opposite sex. ■ If the ‘male gaze’ is a term used to describe empower him, I wanted to establish an awareness the relationship between male viewer and of nakedness and, in turn, objectify the subject. I a female object, surely the ‘female gaze’ decided to incorporate a length of white drapery, rich can be used to describe the opposite? with symbolism,suppressing his identity and further bringing to the fore questions of objectification. John Berger in his book and television series Ways of Seeing looks at the female nude as an object: I was inspired to paint by the Rococo artist François “to be naked is to be oneself, to be nude, is to be Boucher, by both his technique and his subjects. seen naked by others and yet not be recognized Usually, he depicts voluptuous females, often lying as oneself, thus the nude has to be seen as an on their fronts, displaying their plump curvature object”. He goes on to explain the origins of amongst silks and satins. In contrast, contemporary the perception of a female as an object in art. artist Celia Hempton paints male exposed backsides in graphic detail and in other paintings she focusses In some of the most famous classical depictions of on male genitalia and masturbation. Her work moves women, they are seen shying away under drapery, beyond what one might consider bodily beauty and such as the Statue of Venus (the Mazarin Venus) 100- becomes erotic in an almost uncomfortable way; the 200AD. Usually seen as a device meant to exaggerate concept of the 'female voyeur' is hence conveyed vulnerability it also has the effect of increasing her through a reversal of preconceived gender roles. allure. In Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Venus is seen covering her modesty, evidently self-conscious Berger, when referring to Manet’s Le Déjeuner of the viewer, but at the same time knowingly so. sur l’herbe, highlights the visual distinction between the humiliating nudity of the woman who is juxtaposed with the clothed male figures.
February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
Jacob Epstein’s Bust of Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough A Closer Look
By Freddie Heacock
The Spencer-Churchill family have inhabited the Baroque seat of Blenheim Palace in North Oxfordshire since 1705, when the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill (1660-1722) decimated the French army of Louis XIV in Southern Bavaria. His reward was not insignificant; 2,000 acres of land and a £300,000 gift from the government of the day. With the assistance of the up-and-coming Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726) the grounds of Woodstock Manor were worked into a balanced, and yet at the same time overstated monument for his family home. English Baroque is inherently contradictory. Eleven subsequent generations of aristocracy have lived in the palace, collectively adorning the walls and corridors with trimmings of high art to embellish the cold stone of the interior. Amongst the Neo-Classical marble busts in the grand hall sits an unlikely bronze sculpture of Charles Spencer-Churchill, the 9th Duke of Marlborough (1871-1934) by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) Affectionately, and perhaps facetiously, nicknamed ‘Sunny’ from his formative years as the Earl of Sunderland, Charles, who assumed his ducal title in 1892, was anything but Sunny. Glacially patrician and superciliously self-assured, the Ninth Duke was a vehemently reactionary man; he converted to Catholicism after divorcing his first wife and held a peerage in the House of Lords where he
spoke against women’s suffrage and a broadening enfranchisement. His previous commissions for the palace included works by Waldo Storey (18551915), John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) and Carolus-Duran (1837-1917); works ennobled by their classical styling and grand manner format and thus an authoritative presence in any stately room. The Duke was as anti-modern as any grandee in British society who felt their divine right slipping away at the turn of the Twentieth Century.
Lautrec as personal friends. She too was an unlikely match for the Ninth Duke – an eccentric socialite whose quest for the perfect Greek profile led her to misguidedly undergo pioneering plastic surgery whereby paraffin wax was injected into the bridge of her nose. Over time, the insertion slipped down to her chin, distorting her natural beauty unremorsefully.
Her affinity with the textured profile sculptures of Epstein led her to invite the artist to Blenheim Palace and have the hapless Sunny sit before him Cast in 1925 from a preparatory plaster bust, for an initial Plaster Bust Head in 1923 which Epstein renders the ascetic aristocrat in an informally now belongs to the Tate Gallery, before the modernist way as he languidly fills the plinth, bronze portrait was completed two years later. upright but at ease. The peremptory Duke rests his right hand leisurely on the block, directing the On his first visit to the palace, Sunny had shown viewers’ gaze downwards to his plaque as if to reassert Epstein around his stately home, finishing the tour his peerage with the most wearisome of expressions. with a visit to the Chapel. In this strangely visibly Shroud in roughly tactile garments, the emphasis secular place of worship, the sculptor was curious of Epstein’s work is by no means an incidental about the presence of a marble memorial sculpture by-product of the artists’ material handling. The made by John Michael Rysbrack, showing the figure garments are ceremonial; not ducal but chivalric. of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Jacob Epstein’s sculpture, with its modernist handling of materials is an unlikely item to be found “What about God?” inquired Epstein in Blenheim Palace and an unorthodox commission by the Marlborough family. The sculpture was “The Marlborough’s are worshipped here” replied the actually commissioned by the Duke’s second Duke, with more curmudgeonly conviction than wife and close friend of Epstein, Gladys Deacon. twinkling witticism. ■ Deacon had been an American debutante in fin de siècle Paris, boasting Rodin, Degas and Toulouse Illustration by Laura Chiew-Fah Costard
10 February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
Artist Spotlight: Annabel Neikirk Interviewed by Matt Page Annabel Niekirk studies the MA in British Modernism at the Courtauld. Prior to this she completed a BA in Fine Art at the University of Newcastle, spending one year of it in Sydney, Australia. In this interview, we discuss her work, which combines digital and analogue process to produce abstracted images which deny their digital origins and produce comments on the balance between what we share and what we obscure. MP: Where did the idea to produce images using MP: Do you think there is something quite invasive a simultaneously digital and analogue process about the location tagging to the videos? You were originate from? saying that if you are on a bus, or something, the tagging knows where you are even if you don’t. Is AN: I take loads of videos on my phone, like there something disconcerting about how now when random videos of anything that I think is relevant you take pictures in an art museum, or wherever, to my life, or to what I am doing. A lot of it was to your phone will say “tag this photo”? do with the location that I was in at that moment. You know how on your phone when you take a AN: That means that someone else knows video it comes up with a really specific location of where you are at that moment too. And I didn't the video? I would take some out of bus windows like that, so then I made these abstract pictures and it would assign a place to it. I was annoyed that to be like: where am I? Find me if you can! [the videos] were so horrible to look at and throw away, as they are just a video on your phone. I was experimenting in the darkroom, because I did a lot of darkroom photography, and I ended up using my phone instead of putting the negative in the holder. I put my phone in the holder and the light from the phone acts as the light. I played videos on to the paper. They are not double exposures, they are ten seconds of video in one picture. MP: In your profile for your degree show it is stated: "The work asks; can you take back control over what is shared, what is used and how your data is viewed?". Images such as those in the encrypted_files series (2016) demonstrate an assertion of control over what is revealed and what is concealed. Do you think that we can fully control personal information in the digital world? AN: No, I don’t think you can. I think what I am trying to do is more comment on that as opposed to saying I have found a solution, because I think the conceptual nature of what I am working with came from personal anxieties about sharing things online, and the physical method of making the art didn’t come together straight away. I was experimenting and I was always having these thoughts and I realised it was the same thing. So the videos that I started taking became more personal, but I always titled them really abstractly, I would never say what it was and I always got rid of the videos as soon as I make the pictures.
MP: Do you have an opinion on why people like analogue photos? AN: It has become trendy again to develop your own black and white film. There is another level of involvement with the process which is completely different, anyone can pick up a digital camera and click a button but there is the other level, the developing of the picture which is a very personal thing, everyone has their own way of doing it and thats what changed it from being more documentary to then being able to play with it. That’s why I like it. MP: Your desire not to share personal information, has that deterred you from using social media? AN: No, but I have a constant battle with myself because part of me is quite addicted to it, it is weird. But I am controlled about what I would put on social media. But there is a weird connection, a false feeling of connection which you get which I am quite interested in as well. MP: Do you think it is partly out of control? When you are on the bus and your location is tagged you don’t have control over it but with your Facebook or whatever its curated. AN: I suppose I have control over what I share. It is more just that you don’t have much control over who then uses that. That’s why I just like making one image… although now I am going to give you the files…
Image from the encrypted_files series, 2016
MP: It is interesting how you are working against the grain, everyone wants to save everything and when you want to get rid of something then it is a lot more challenging.
MP: Do you think that having the images on your tumblr contradicts what you are doing?
AN: It does, it completely contradicts what I am doing. I am more interested in the battle that seems to be going on as opposed to coming down on the side of “we shouldn’t share anything”, it is more like I am wondering if there is a way AN: I have always loved analogue photos, the feel of sharing and obscuring at the same time. of them, and the depth of them. And something really weird happens when you use digital media MP: A selectiveness? MP: Is that counterintuitive to how digital mediums to make them because usually the negative is work? Erasing rather than storing? For example, grainy. [Annie points to an image of her work on AN: Yeah, there is something very cathartic they have cloud back ups and tell us not to worry, my computer screen] With these you get pixels about it. It is almost like saying your problems that they wont lose our data because they are stored instead of the grain so it is weird, you think its a — it makes you feel better, in a way. ■ in three places at once. really tactile, yummy photo and then you look at it more and you see that there are gaps in it and the AN: It terrifies me. I hate that so much. The strange negative space of where there isn’t the information. thing about my work is though that through It is really strange. There is less information on a making these images I have to take videos in the digital file than there seems to be on a negative. first place. So I end up playing into that anyway.
11 February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
Image from the Hypervisible Transparencies, 2015.
12 February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
Karina Akopyan Review
By Lucy Korzeniowska
Russian artist Karina Akopyan had her first solo exhibition - entitled Martyrs & Matryoshkas - at the Old Truman Brewery last December. Her work is a curious and alluring blend of her strict Russian Orthodox heritage and the escapism of the London fetish scene, and seems to find more similarities between the two themes than it does differences.
living in London she started becoming involved in the fetish scene and even after 10 years or so of her involvement she still cites fetish clubs like Torture Garden as one of her main inspirations, using the people she meets as characters in her work.
She is also influenced by a diverse selection of artists: Pierre Molinier, Louise Bourgeois, Karina's work brings up questions around Marcel Dzama, Matthew Barney, Henry Darger, tradition, ritual, religion, patriotism, and Nobuyoshi Araki, Egon Schiele, and, of course, sexuality, all of which she is always sure to leave Frida Kahlo. In literature, her influences are no unanswered: “why do you need to do all the work less significant - along with Russian folktales heard for the viewer? I think it's much more fun to let in childhood, she cites Nikolai Gogol, a who delt people find their own interest or meaning in it." with topics surrounding superstition, and Mikhail Bulgakov, famed for The Master and Margarita. Yet "One of the themes that catalyzes my attraction to it is Russian cinema that comes through so strongly religion is concept of suffering or denial of things in Akopyan’s work – namely Andrei Tarkovsky. to yourself in order to reach humbleness. It’s a rather masochistic concept and this where “I don’t think my work would be anything close it crosses with my interest in fetish." to what it is if I haven’t seen Tarkovsky’s films. His work changed my life more than any other artist." Karina grew up in Russia but left to study Karina's cultural influence does not only come illustration at university, and you can still see from Russia. She's also fascinated with American illustration as the foundation of her work. While culture that marries violent imagery and religious
imagery. Karina also notes Japanese influences in her work - both in the formal study of illustration and in their bold and unapologetic approach in fetish art, for instance in the work of Toshio Saeki. "At some point I asked, if Japanese culture is fetishised like that, why can't Russian culture be?” Martyrs & Matryoshkas ran for 10 days but was the result of months of planning and preparation. It featured some old works, but also pieces that Karina produced specifically for the show. She used a mixture of media to create these pieces including painting, photography, costume, and sculpture. As a result, the work varied from giant Hieronymus Bosch style illustrations, to painted wooden Matryoshka dolls, to full latex costumes. All epitomise the convergence of fetishism and Russian tradition that is so intrinsic in Karina's work. ■
13 February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design LK: How would you describe your work if you had yourself much better. I don’t have it as my target to give it a genre? to make people think of Frida when they look at my work, but to someone who is familiar with KA: I often use Russian Fetishism if I her work her influence on me is not hard to spot. have to describe it quickly and simply. LK: What was your favourite piece from the show and why? KA: Big Samovar Orgy. I naturally built a strange relationship with that piece that took me over 4 moths to complete. It took me on quite a journey from total frustration and misery at times to hyperactive ecstatic moments. It was a mind map and I have memories and moods connected to different sections of it because it took so long, for example I can remember exactly what I was going though in my life while looking as small sections of it, can even remember what songs I’ve been listening to. I left my imprint on it and it left one on me. I would spend so long alone with it sometimes I would literally start talking to it. It was traumatic and took a lot of dedication but the result was worth it and I really love that piece. LK: For some of the works, like the latex costumes, you commissioned friends to help you. Do you feel differently about this work than you do to your illustrations and works you’ve produced entirely on your own? KA: I used to, but I think the more time passes, the less I start separating it. At the end of the day, they could not exist without me. I still think painting is my foundation. I like going though certain creative progress and it gives me satisfaction to see an idea travel from painting to a real thing I can hold. I do still sometimes feel insecure when I realise I need help with something but you just can’t learn everything - but limiting your ideas’ potential if you know it needs to be certain media is kind of wrong too. Also, with the costumes I often still feel they are my things and my possessions so I have a harder time letting them go.
to this day, but everything was talking so long to complete, eventually I started looking for new media to put my ideas across. Then I discovered Aubrey Beardsley and my drawings because more line based. As he was inspired by a lot of Japanese art, I looked into that area and found a lot of fetish art, which I found was very imaginative. I was already going to a lot of fetish parties at the time so I asked myself why if Japanese culture can be fetished like that Russian cant? So this where Russian element joined it. LK: Some of the works are quite graphic or shocking, and you’ve mentioned before that occasionally your work is misread as showing a “hatred” of Russia. Would you be able to produce works like these if you were still in Russia? KA: 5 years ago probably not, but things are slowly changing and I think now it’s possible I can exhibit there. Of course it would get very mixed reactions but I don’t think it’s as bad as it used to be. I think contemporary art is very very slowly finding its way to general masses in Russia when before it was just demonised as degenerate art. ■
LK: I’ve noticed one of the characters in Big Samovar Orgy has exactly the same tattoo as you and was interested in the idea of you drawing yourself into the work. Why did you include yourself in this particular work and did you intend for people to notice? Are you hidden in any of your other artworks?
KA: What makes you think it’s me just because I have the same tattoo? That character is not in any way more representation of me than any character. I designed my tattoo and it is a symbol for me and used as a symbol. I often get asked if various characters in my work are me. And my answer is: always. They are all me, even the animals and male characters, but not really exactly me at the same time. I do think of all my work as some kinds of self portraits in general, because all of my work is what I feel most passionate about, it’s linked to my memories, relationships, worries, aspirations so I can’t really separate my LK: You use yourself as the model in all your work from me, we are linked at the hip. Some artists photography work, and you’ve mentioned before are quite good at separating their personal stuff that you’re influenced by Frida Kahlo - are these self from their work, but that’s definitely not my case. portraits intended as an allusion to her work? LK: Has your artwork always focussed on these KA: I mean it’s a very old concept for artists to do concepts of Russian tradition and fetishism, or has types of self portraits. Nearly every single artist it evolved from previous ideas? Were you producing must have done one at some point. That’s because work like this when you were studying art? you are only person you know best, only person you know for sure. You can analyse yourself, you KA: No it wasn’t. Bits of Russian culture came in can experiment on yourself and you are always about 3 years ago and stayed for good. I was always there with you as a subject. Frida is indeed a strong attracted to darker topics and imagery though. At influence for me because she didn’t just paint visual school I was trained more as a painter and worked self portraits, she painted emotional portraits and mainly with oils and did reproductions of Italian stories linked to her life. She dissected herself for paintings. At college I was a big fan of fantasy art, her portraits. It takes bravery to expose yourself artists like Brom, who I still really like actually. I still like that but also does really make you understand worked with oils at that point. I do miss the media
Left: Borsch is Thicker than Blood - ink, watercolours, and acrylics on paper - 39 x 39 cm Centre: Bad Matryoshka - wood & metal - 35 x 20 x 20cm Left: Karina Akopyan with her work Big Samovar Orgy at the exhibition opening - photo credit: Bojidar Chkorev
14 February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World Review By Matt Page
There is something eerie about furniture stores. The objects contained within them are out of context, displayed in a state detached from their intended purpose. Tables, chairs, soft furnishings and lighting are framed by large windows, exhibited like art objects. They are suspended in a commercial space, currently commodities, the step before they become the functional objects they were designed to be.
As an installation this is called The Pan-European Living Room, and it is the most subtle meditation on design and its place in a complex world in the Design Museum’s exhibition, Fear and Love. Far from simply being furniture, the objects are a comment on the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, postBrexit. Each item of furniture originates from a country within the EU, ranging from that IKEA Walking into the exhibition space of Fear and Love bookcase we all have, to pieces of design history. and seeing furniture arranged like a living room is The vertical blinds are not garish due to poor taste, akin to passing the glazed facades of these stores. but in fact are representative of the colours of But instead of being in a shop, an ensemble of the flags of EU nations — notably the red, white chairs and tables, bookcases, a excessively arched and blue vane is limply outstretched on the floor. lamp, and red carpet, sit in a space half enclosed by flower-patterned wallpaper and colourful vertical The Pan-European Living Room along with the blinds. Perhaps we would expect this ensemble conceptions of ten other design practices form of furniture to be a straightforward display of ‘Fear and Love’, the Design Museum’s experimental twentieth-century design. Surely they are on show exhibition which seeks to re-present design in as a celebration of their functionality and form? contexts outside of just the ideas of form and In this context, no, they are not. OMA/AMO, the function. The exhibition is formed of eleven artful architecture practice founded by Rem Koolhaas, installations which could be easily categorised as has imbued these items of furniture with an contemporary art, rather than contemporary design. artfulness which extends beyond their intended use. Like the eclecticism of furniture in a furniture store,
Reflections on A Woman’s Afterlife Review
By Janette Aquilina
While artists like Marilyn Minter and Jeremy Deller are hot on the roster of current exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, on the third floor of the museum something equally as exciting is on display. At the very back of the Egyptian Galleries, visitors will find A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt. Organised by Edward Bleiberg, Curator of Egyptian Art, this display is a part of the Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, which features ten exhibitions and displays that aim to promote feminist art, history and research. By presenting new discoveries, this display puts forward exciting revelations on the role of women in the ancient Egyptian afterlife; it declares that in order to reach the afterlife and be reborn, women had to first temporarily transform into a man. This answers the puzzling question of why women are often depicted with male attributes, like red skin, and pronouns on coffins. These transformations were executed by a priest and lasted only long enough for a fetus to be produced, as it was believed that men carried the fetus and implanted it into a woman during sexual
Fear and Love is made up of diverse parts, ranging from an analysis of dating apps to humanising an industrial robot, but despite this it has a surprising flow. The conceptual approach, anchored by the themes of anxiety and optimism, is the curators’ effort to suggest that design is method of understanding the world. The exhibition's experimental methods successfully switches our focus from viewing design as purely a collection of objects, to seeing how embedded it is into the contemporary world. ■
on what more can be discovered and brought to light about the past; what more can the past reveal about not just ancient Egypt, but other historical cultures? By revisiting the past armed with a contemporary intercourse. Once created, the woman returned to consciousness and receptively, new knowledge can her female state and carried on into the afterlife. possibly be mobilized and generated, knowledge Two large coffins in the middle of the gallery depicting that may hold particular relevancy in our society. women with red flesh, along with the approximately other twenty-five objects in the space illustrate these Arguably this looking back to the past is not an beliefs behind the conception process. For example, extremely recent or innovative methodology, but at a a pair of earrings, kohl jar and comb emphasize time when conversations concerning identity politics the eroticism and sexual attractiveness that was seem almost inescapable from discussions about the believed to be required for a successful rebirth. state of worldly affairs, this feminist re-examination of a distant history seems very timely. What is This display transported me back to Frances particularly exciting is that through these discoveries Morris’s, Director of the Tate Modern, ‘Facing intellectual space to challenge assumptions and the Future: Museums and the Next Generation’ authorship of the past can be created; a space talk at The Courtauld on 9th November 2016. where voices, histories, and narratives that were When discussing some of the influences behind once dismissed and silenced may be unveiled. strategies of contemporary collecting and artistic practices, Morris paraphrased T. S. Eliot’s statement Consequently, this display provokes thoughts on on the tendencies to continually reflect on the how our current society may be perceived; what will past through the lens of the present. The fact future civilizations know and apply to our histories that A Woman’s Afterlife effectively does just this and how will we, as a global society, be translated? may be the reason why I am so inspired by it. While the answers to these questions are currently unknown, by posing them I am forced to think about There is an air of anticipation within A Woman’s legacies, collectively and individually, and as a student Afterlife; its conceptual frameworks elicit questions of the arts, the possible implications of my studies. ■
15 February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
Robert Rauschenberg Review
By Sean Ketteringham
Robert Rauschenberg is at Tate Modern until in his Combines. A series of facts are April 2nd. declared in each room and too few questions are raised. But perhaps this Multiplicity, variety and inclusion is inescapable for a show whose task is were three active principles in Robert to condense decades of artistic tumult Rauschenberg’s art. As you would hope, they into eleven rooms. On the show’s are also the defining impressions produced own terms it is an essential success. by Tate Modern’s current retrospective Another issue is the presentation of the of his work, the first exhibition of such artist in question as an isolated genius scale since the artist’s death in 2008. singlehandedly reshaping American art for the post-war generation, a solitary There is a consistent value in these major innovator beyond Abstract Expressionism. retrospectives, which currently form the There is undoubtedly a clear effort to backbone of Tate’s programme: they are counteract this. Merce Cunningham, perhaps the most effective way of taking John Cage and the collaborative elements visitors preconceived notions of an artist of Rauschenberg’s practice – like his and radically reshaping them according establishment of the Rauschenberg to their particular narrative of an artist’s Overseas Cultural Exchange and work life. For instance, it’s a welcome shock alongside Trisha Brown and Yvonne to see Rauschenberg’s Mud Muse (1968- Rainer – feature heavily and build a 71), a bubbling vat of viscous beige vivid picture of his creative environment. mud, punctuating the mid-point of the Still, the contemporaneous work of show. I can’t have been the only one who Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Jean wanted to jump in and splash about Dubuffet sits at too great a distance, in it; “warning” the sign read, “this art compromising our understanding of work splashes”. An invitation? Surely. Rauschenberg’s part in a networked But as a tactile, dynamic, disruptive, movement counteracting Greenbergian and intensely material oddity bracketed modernism. Once again, perhaps between solvent transfer drawings and the image of the lone, world-shaping sculpture like Albino (Jammer) (1975), creative surfing the crest of institutional Mud Muse reminds us of the ceaseless authority will always be a spectre these innovation and collaborative instinct monographic shows struggle to escape, Rauschenberg personified. Between or knowingly accept as a necessary part the sanctioned spaces of technology in a trade off providing massive rewards and conceptual art he establishes elsewhere, namely an unprecedented his own orbit of haptic effulgence. appreciation of Rauschenberg’s multifarious and synthetic oeuvre. This jolt in our perception of an artist remains valuable but I wonder if certain Clearly these problems, looming as they do cracks are showing in the monographic over Tate’s broader corporate strategy, do curatorial strategy, taken to new heights by little to diminish the invigorating diversity Tate in recent years. Such shows tend to be of Rauschenberg’s output and the joy of neatly categorized according periods and this exhibition. His is an interplanetary art styles superimposed by the narrative arc of set on its own orbit, drifting through the the exhibition. Discrete units of creativity in-between spaces of art-making. “Painting are neatly packaged for the audience’s relates to both art and life” Rauschenberg easy digestion. Fraught boundaries where declared in 1959, “Neither can be made the artist hovers between approaches (I try to act in the gap between to two).” to art-making and more searching Acting the gap as a performed position contrasts between styles and periods are between established conventions of art lost or ignored. For this show, the taste making is a major part of his legacy, but is clinical, and the texture smooth and with this in mind we ought to feel free to rigid, despite the wonderfully dirtied, raise questions regarding the curatorial associative vernacular often deployed approaches used to present such an attitude by Rauschenberg and represented best and their enduring validity in the future. ■
Robert Rauschenberg, Bed, 1955 Credit: © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York. Image: The Museum Of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence
February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
‘Every utopia contains a dystopia.’ Feature By Fred Shan
‘Every utopia contains a dystopia, any dystopia contains a utopia.’
man’s wisdom and action. Once a part of the mainland, Utopia’s separation was organised by enlightened king Utopus who, having brought good So wrote Ursula K. Le Guin in an essay featured government to the unruly population, ‘ordered in a new edition of Saint Thomas More’s Utopia, a deep channel to be dug’ around their lands. published in 2016 in celebration of its quincentennial anniversary. In More’s book, a traveller-philosopher The spark of utopianism survives in our modern called Raphael describes an island he has visited society in the figure of the designer. Artist and on his many travels. Located south of the equator, polymath Bruno Munari perfectly captures the Utopia is a nurturing land with green pastures and designer’s utopian aspirations in his seminal work, life-nourishing rivers, which support the farms and Design as Art: the designer ‘has the humility and cities of the island. The island’s population adhere to ability to respond to whatever demands is made of laws and customs incredibly different to More’s own him by the society in which he lives… he responds to England, and yet its people live in jolly peace, in the human needs of his time, and helps people to solve harmony with the nature surrounding them. At the certain problems without stylistic preconceptions or end of Raphael’s narrative, More conceded that his false notions of artistic dignity.’ Through unremitting own society had much to learn from the Utopians. planning and innovation the designer moves forward by resolving the problems of the present. Whereas earlier conceptions of utopia, It was in acknowledgement to the connection like the Garden of Eden and Ovid’s between More’s man-made Utopia and modern Golden Age, were places of nature ruined by design that the first London Design Biennale chose man’s discovery of wisdom (and loss of his ‘Design as Utopia’ as their theme in 2016. The innocence), More’s Utopia is the creation of exhibition, which took place in Somerset House
in September, invited thirty-seven countries and territories to present their interpretation of utopia. Israel’s industrial designer Yaniv Kadosh particularly stood out in his focus on facilitating aid distribution in disaster zones. Mimicking the shape and aerodynamism of sycamore seeds, Kadosh’s AIDrop are cardboard cartons capable of carrying up to three kilograms supply packages and dropped into inaccessible or dangerous areas. These pods could be easily produced and transported en masse and, when released in mid-air, would rotate and slowly descend, safely carrying the packages to the ground. Perhaps it is no coincidence that such a design emerged from Israel, whose expansionism over the decades have left parts of the Levant desolated and innumerable civilians displaced. Kadosh’s design sharply contrasts the bombs dropped by military jets onto Palestinian settlements, countering destruction with compassion. Three months after the exhibition 2016 came to an end, and with it, the anniversary of More’s Utopia. The Design Museum, in its newly opened South Kensington venue, took over the role of publicising designers in their quest for utopia. The winner of the annual Beazely Design of the Year award, Better Shelter, tackled humanitarian crises by designing secure temporary housing for refugees. The project began in Stockholm with a small team in 2010 and has, over the last seven years, developed into an international social enterprise involved in ten countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Each emergency shelter is packed into flat pack boxes, which can be assembled by four people over a few hours’ time, but can stand to last for up to three years. The shelter not only offers families protection from the elements, security their possessions and even electricity through a solar panel. Most important of all, the solid structure offers the displaced the privacy and dignity which tents simply could not. The shelter’s design, so elegant in its simplicity, harks back to the Vitruvian ideal of the primitive wooden shelters built by men. Returning architecture to its basic function and form, Better Shelter combines European architectural tradition with modern assemblage techniques to serve the needs of the most vulnerable. Since the end of the year of Utopia we seemed to be plunging ever deeper into a dystopian nightmare in 2017. This is precisely the time one’s yearning for utopia and willingness to work towards it becomes vital. Even if the idealistic island of Utopia could never be replicated in reality, the spirit of utopianism very much lives on in the modern designer. Inherent to their work is the refusal to concede to the problems of our age, and the desire to transform the physical and socioeconomic landscape of the world for the better. ■
17 February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Art, Architecture & Design
Artists’ Lives: Speaking of the Kasmin Gallery Review By Tom Powell, Editor
One school of thought is that galleries should let the art do the talking. Aside from the often bland voice of the institution, nothing can rile more than interpretation that leaves no space for original thought or reaction. Therefore, it might seem odd that Tate Britain’s latest BP Spotlight exhibition, Artist’s Lives: Speaking of the Kasmin Gallery focuses not so much on the art displayed, but the narrative surrounding its conception and consumption. Except it’s not Tate doing the talking. The British Library’s National Life Stories: Artists’ Lives project began in 1990 with the aim of collecting an oral history of British art. Since then the project has amassed hundreds of hours of indepth interviews with artists, curators and dealers. Surrounded by paintings and sculpture displayed and sold at the Kasmin Gallery, visitors can listen at a central console to a vast array of interviews that detail the importance of John Kasmin, and the gallery he founded, to the development of the burgeoning London art scene in the 1960s. The Kasmin Gallery opened at 118 New Bond Street in 1962 and was one of the first commercial art galleries architecturally designed for the purpose of the display and sale of modern art. Kasmin’s tastes were pioneering, given the atmosphere in London at the time was, as he said himself in one interview, ‘grey’ where a ‘great number of people still went to work in bowler hats and with rolled up umbrellas’. Meanwhile, the Kasmin Gallery,
with its white walls and the huge vivid paintings by the likes of Frank Stella and sculptures by Anthony Caro was brash and bold. Kasmin championed the media-conscious mod art scene and as a result the gallery didn’t struggle for attention, noting in one soundbite that you ‘didn’t have to chase when you represented someone like David Hockney’.
The BP Spotlight slot allows Tate to do something different. There are a lot of interviews available for visitors to listen to, all in short bursts, with Kasmin himself, with artists like Robyn Denny, or with independent curators and Tate staff who worked with or helped to acquire art sold at the Kasmin Gallery. Interestingly in this exhibition, the relationship between art works and archive material is less hierarchical; the interviews physically take centre stage. Somewhat disappointingly, Anthony Caro’s Yellow Swing, 1965 sits in a corner - so too does Frank Stella’s Hyena Stomp, 1962. However, the images displayed on the screens and the wall panels tie the aural archival aspects of the exhibition to the visual – creating a conversation that extends beyond the recordings into the room. It’s a question posed rather than one answered. This exhibition is about highlighting the possibilities of projects like Artists’ Lives; possibilities in terms of research, in terms of exhibition making and how we conceive of art within the social and economic networks it exists in before it reaches the public gallery. The exhibition seeks to bridge the gap between the archival and experiential aspects of an exhibition, and it’s through listening to the interviews, surrounded by art that passed through the Kasmin gallery, that the display comes into its own. ■
The Artist’s Lives project offers something new to the art historian and gallery visitor alike. While an institutional voice is often intensely measured and neutral in tone, the testimonies of artists, curators and collectors can be confessional, anecdotal, confrontational and are always partisan. It’s not all positive – art making is a messy business – but the different stories layer over each other, sometimes contradicting but always connecting as they become increasingly intertwined. We’re reminded of the everpresent networks that exist outside of the isolating environment in which art is usually offered up. This allows other histories to be present; one of which is Tate’s own. Self-evident is the influence Kasmin had over the acquisitions made by Tate, with the result that you can now sit in a room full of works he sold all drawn from their permanent collection. This also allows Tate to show off the international nature of their collection within Tate Britain (Kasmin brought together American and English artists in the 60s) and it reminds us that art objects have their own history Artists’ Lives: Speaking of the Kasmin Gallery is at Tate of sale, movement and ownership that is more often Britain until Autumn 2017. told in the auction house than a public collection. John Kasmin photographed by David Hockney
Dublin: City of Books Editor’s Note By Amy Page
Books are often considered escapist, or a refuge from contemporary life. This can be true, especially in recent times when politically everything has gone tits-up. However, despite the urge to look away, this is exactly the time to be listening and paying attention. When the rolling news is too much and the complexity of evil is baffling, fiction can provide a filter that helps us to digest what is going on. The perfect example is Autumn by Ali Smith, which was written during and after Brexit last year. In her wondrous, incomparable way, Smith makes Brexit and our society’s divisions a wee bit more comprehensible, while still stoking our outrage at the injustice and inequality that pervades Britain today. In this edition we consider the nature of home and what happens when home is threatened in Lorna Tiller’s review of Watership Down and explore Dublin’s rich literary offerings in Bianca Schor’s account of her recent visit there. I take a look at two new books that have incorporated art and artists into their narratives in a way that gets me all excited, and Jack West-Sherring reviews the new Kenneth Clark biography, a figure whose legacy still haunts art historians whether they like it or not. With recent reports reiterating that most writers don’t earn a living wage and have to seek supplementary employment, it is helpful to remember that most books are not vanity projects that the author has written for fun. They are the products of dedication and hard work, written because the author believes they have something of worth to share. I urge you to continue reading, buying from your local bookstore and looking somewhere other than the Guardian for an interpretation of our flawed, vibrant, messy, (mostly) decent society.
By Bianca Schor, Stage, Screen & Music Editor Illustration by Laura Chiew-Fah Costard
From the grand libraries that are full of wonder, to the small second-hand books stalls and independent libraries with cosy armchairs, book-lovers cannot dream of a better place than Dublin. Not forgetting the lovely people that welcome you with a smile and all the fun you will have in Ireland’s capital, my first impression of Dublin was sheer amazement at its fantastic books collection. It is no surprise then that Dublin has been a Unesco City of Literature since 2010. It all started when my dear friend who studies at Trinity College, Dublin, opened the door of the Old Library for me. The visit starts with a permanent exhibition on the treasures it contains, with a strong focus on the Book of Kells, a richly decorated copy of the four Gospels of the life of Christ from the ninth century. The exhibition provides useful details about the making of the book and its exceptional aesthetic and symbolic characteristics in a very approachable manner. The enlarged colour reproductions are also useful to unpack the intricate arrangement of details that fill the pages. Unfortunately, the contrast with the two original manuscripts on display at the end of the gallery is slightly anti-climactic, due to the necessarily feeble lighting that preserves them, which does not do justice to their rich polychrome. Yet their aura is still very much felt. You then proceed to the library itself, an impressive high-ceilinged gallery flanked by dark wooden shelves with thousands of old and precious books. These include the official declaration of Ireland’s independence, which is currently on display, as well as a large collection of medieval manuscripts. Trinity’s library is only two minutes away from other important libraries such as the National Library of Ireland. The NLI currently has an interesting show on William Butler Yeats with impressive scenography, probably aimed at a younger audience. It can boast the world’s largest collection of manuscripts by the Irish poet and so the display of a diverse range of primary material is a great way to delve into his world. A few steps away is Merrion Square where W. B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde lived. An unsettling statue dedicated to Oscar Wilde now stands in the gardens, in case you ever wanted a portrait with the artist! But for me the most impressive literary landmark of all was the Chester Beatty Library, right by Dublin Castle. Set in a light and modern addition to the Clock Tower Building,
the CBL hosts a breath-taking collection of manuscripts, books, religious texts and has a strong focus on Islam and the East. Chester Beatty (1875-1968) was a wealthy American mining engineer with a special interest in the different cultures and religions around the globe. His private literary collection is so vast and full of well-preserved gems, that it is hard to leave once you have entered Ali Baba’s cave. The permanent exhibition Arts of the Books will appeal to all students of art history and presents treasures from major centres of literary production such as China, Japan, Persia, India and Europe. The amount of finely decorated masterpieces and their world-wide origin truly makes you wonder how he managed to collect so many of them! I was also delighted to come across in the intimacy of a small, quiet room, Chinese jaded books – the library owns the largest collection of these items outside of China, outstanding manuscript Qu’rans and woodblock prints by Hiroshige and Hokusai. After so many wonders, we finished off our literary journey with a relaxed Sunday stroll on Don Laoghaire’s pier and Sandycove, which leads to the Mortello tower. The 1804 defence edifice built against Napoleon has become the James Joyce Museum. Although the Irish author only stayed there for four nights, the building had a strong influence on him as he set the opening of Ulysses there. I recommend you pop by people’s park market, where you will find a nice spot to buy second-hand books, and who knows, maybe the view on the Northern sea will inspire you to write about Dublin? ■
February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Books
Art in Fiction: Autumn by Ali Smith & The Muse by Jessie Burton When fiction attempts to incorporate art and far better. Set in 1960’s London and 1930’s Spain, Review artists, it can often end badly. Descriptions of the it follows Odelle, a young woman who has come By Amy Page, Books Editor
act of creating can read like bad erotica, or pages of too much art historical detail disrupt the flow of the story. Both feel like the author is showing off how much research they have done; they’ve read some Gombrich or have sat in an artist’s studio for a day, hovering at their elbow.
to London from Trinidad to pursue her career as a writer, and Olive, a girl who paints in secret and finds inspiration in both the Andalusian landscape and a handsome young revolutionary called Isaac. The mystery behind a painting links the two stories together to great effect.
So when two books come along that do it right, I rejoice. This is no surprise for readers of Ali Smith, but The Muse is an unexpected joy. The two are very different but both explore the impact art can have in one’s life, why one creates, and the role art history has in society.
It is obvious that both Burton and Smith understand the impact that art can have on one’s life and each treat it both with reverence and playfulness. In The Muse, Odelle works as a typist at the Skelton Institute (a thinly-veiled fictional Courtauld) and learns about the mechanics behind provenance, exhibitions and how cut-throat the art world can be, whereas Olive realises the harm that art and passion cause, to devastating consequences. For Elisabeth in Autumn, art is a healing tool that aids her in better understanding the world. Her research into Boty leads her to question the authority male artists are automatically given, and how women are relegated as amateurs, and how she in turn relegates herself.
Autumn is the first in a quartet of books, Seasonal, by Ali Smith all about life in Britain now. And by now, I mean that Autumn is about Brexit and Jo Cox and the aftermath last summer, yet it was only published in October. It is about Elisabeth, a zero-hours junior history of art lecturer, and her friendship with her old neighbour Daniel and what he teaches her about life, art, humanity, identity, politics and death. They have a shared interest in the sixties pop artist Pauline Boty, an extraordinary In these books, the incorporation of art enriches figure whose work and biography Smith weaves the story and allows Smith and Burton to use into the storyline. visual culture as a conduit for abstract thought and feeling. This is the beauty of art. A way to uncover The Muse is Jessie Burton’s second novel, following and express that which is deeply held, and to better her bestseller The Miniaturist, and I think this is understand the worlds we inhabit. ■
Watership Down by Richard Adams Review By Lorna Tiller
With the recent passing of Richard Adams, an author, father and service man, I wanted to bring to your attention a much loved classic that is often forgotten, Watership Down. Generally considered a dark children’s novel, it tells the tale of a young rabbit, Fiver, and his adventures all through the warren. Fiver has the ability to sense when something terrible is going to happen, so when he worries for the warren’s safety he sets off on his own journey with a group of fellow rabbits. The group’s adventure tests their loyalty and strength. Although Adams tells a story about rabbits, the characters and their difficulties are relatable and real; I believe that everybody can sympathise with Fiver’s struggles. Sometimes considered to ‘anthropomorphise’ the rabbits, Adams’ has created a diverse group of personalities, each portraying the vital attributes required for their survival.
threats of the warren and Adams’ personal exposure to the brutality of war and the terrible acts humans are capable of committing. The struggles Fiver’s new warren reminds me of the plight of the millions of refugees today that have had to uproot their homes and travel across dangerous lands because home is no longer safe. Watership Down exposes the heartache The sense of pilgrimage and battle in Watership Down and inevitable vulnerability of losing the security of creates an engaging and ultimately charismatic story your home and community. of survival and friendship; a novel that will always be relevant, relatable and responsive. My copy Adams developed the story of Watership Down of Watership Down has been read and reread, and from a tale he used to tell his two daughters when despite its battered appearance will remain the most they were travelling on long car journeys, and his cherished book on my book shelf. I believe that children helped him to edit and create the novel. Adams’ epigraphs throughout the novel summarise Adams dedicated Watership Down ‘To Juliet and the overall nature of Watership Down: ‘“Courts and Rosamond, remembering the road to Stratford-on- camps are the only places to learn the world in … Avon.’ Growing up in the English countryside, Take the tone of the company that you are in.” The Adams’ family experienced firsthand the threats Earl of Chesterfield, Letters to his son.’ ■ to wildlife, naming the novel after a hill in the Illustration by Anna Seibæk Torp-Pedersen Through my discovery of Adams’ long service during surrounding area. the Second World War, I can see a link between the
20 February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Books
Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and Civilisation by James Stourton Review By Jack West-Sherring Illustration by Matt Page
What does an art historian do? In May 1983, The Times was unambiguous: ‘Authority, author, television performer and lecturer… Eloquent art historian who drew audience of millions.’ News of the death of ‘Lord Clark of Civilisation’ had filled the world’s media. ‘Kenneth Clark gestorben… Kunsthistoricus overladen…falleció el critic de arte’. The New York Times hailed Kenneth Clark as ‘the most naturally gifted art historian of his generation.’ Clark was the first Director of the National Gallery to become a household name, embodying to the general public what an art historian should be. Yet as his celebrity grew, and his lectures and articles became ever more accessible and popular, ‘pure’ art historians stopped viewing Clark as one of their own. From Tancred Borenius to Brian Sewell, the academic sphere has disowned Clark. Even at Clark’s funeral, John Pope-Hennessy found it necessary to recite Clark’s scholarly achievements as if in answer to Clark’s detractors, prompting Roy Strong to wonder whether ‘on the Day of Judgement God would not turn out to be an art historian raising us up or casting us down into oblivion according to the quality of one’s articles in the Burlington Magazine.’ ‘Divided between populism and academicism, Clark
chose the former. It was a choice between Scylla and Charybdis that Clark never wished to have to make. James Stourton’s new biography of Kenneth Clark addresses this emotive question with regard to Clark’s career, presenting a balanced but sympathetic view of Clark which identifies his ‘peaks’ of academic brilliance while acknowledging moments when he oversimplified or gave too sweeping an art historical statement. Clark published his first book, The Gothic Revival, at the age of twenty-five. His subject was a brave choice given how fervently detested in the 1920s were the Victorian ideals of his father’s generation, and it was by describing how Burges, Pugin and Barry transformed these ideals into art that Clark reaffirmed their talent. The book was ‘art historical’ in every sense: it examined the Gothic Revival’s origins in philosophy and literature, blending word with image in notably Warburgian fashion. As Surveyor of the King’s Pictures, Clark produced a groundbreaking catalogue of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings at Windsor Castle, followed by a highly original biography of Leonardo that became a future model for single-artist studies. Stourton writes that Clark’s Leonardo da Vinci remains ‘the most readable introduction to the subject,’ but that
was exactly the problem. Admired by the novelist Vita Sackville-West for its beautiful prose, Clark’s work was already drifting from what Stourton calls ‘art history for its own sake.’ Changing forever our perceptions of art’s intended audience, Clark can truly be said to have democratised art. Stourton confirms Clark’s deeply-held belief in Ruskin’s dictum that art was ‘the birthright’ of every human being; it is fascinating, if debatable, how Stourton connects Clark’s secluded childhood and Winchester education with his later pro bono works. Civilisation (1969), remarkable though it is, was but one unforeseen facet of Clark’s amazing career. Stourton tells how in organising the National Gallery’s lunchtime concerts by Myra Hess during World War II, Clark revealed art’s uplifting spiritual power in the midst of chaos and misery. In the postwar period Clark campaigned to preserve historic buildings alongside John Betjeman, founded the National Theatre, and sat for three decades on every arts-related government committee. Not the work of a ‘pure’ art historian perhaps, but as Courtauldians studying in the ‘KCLT’ we are never far from Clark’s legacy. Stourton’s biography is a must-read. ■
John Berger John Berger: ‘Never again shall a single story be told as though it were the only one.’ By Tom Powell, Art, Architecture & Design Editor Illustration by Anna Seibæk Torp-Pedersen
John Berger died on 2nd January 2017. Many obituaries begin with the most basic of facts, such as his age (90), or his occupation. And yet here is the first hurdle; Berger was many things. While it may suit the reader to be informed that he was an art critic, Berger resisted the term himself. Even his own output defies the prescriptive, and perhaps tired, title of ‘critic’. Novelist, painter, teacher, theorist, playwright, poet and farmer; Berger did it all. In his own words, he often described himself as a storyteller. In Bento’s Sketchbook Berger wrote that ‘hope is a contraband passed from hand to hand, and story to story’ – and this is how he saw himself; defying borders and boundaries by telling stories that passed on, above all else, hope. It’s for the 1972 TV series and book Ways of Seeing that Berger is popularly celebrated. Ways of Seeing was a gauntlet thrown down to the status-quo, the artistic elites and to received ideas about our visual culture. Berger wanted to disrupt what he saw as the harmful bourgeois approaches that plagued discussions of the visual, and so the series set out to challenge views on the framing of art, reproduction, advertising and depiction of women. Although relying for the most part on works by others (the first episode / essay is a retelling of Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction) Ways of Seeing continues to open eyes and minds. And for those who explored his work outside Ways of Seeing, there is another connection. This is the Berger depicted in the 2016 films, The Seasons in Quincy and John Berger or The Art of Looking. Here Berger, while characteristically intense and thoughtful, is unequivocally generous, warm and kind. This is the John Berger of the small rural village of Quincy; the Berger of long discussions over the preparation of an apple crumble. When talking about the role of the storyteller, Berger had said that if he was a successful one it was only ever because he listened. This is the John Berger that we know through his essays, his poetry, his fiction and conversation. A recent collection of his writing, Confabulations brings together some of the essence of Berger beyond Ways of Seeing. Including poetry, memoir and his own illustrated short essays, Confabulations meanders in places, and yet characteristically is often intensely specific. Often funny, but always illuminating, Berger’s ability to turn a situation on its head is born of the ability to see with other eyes – that is to resist the easy interpretation, to play with language in its relation to the visual and to recognise that the cultural and political are inextricably bound up in our consumption of visual media. Most mainstream political discourse today is composed of words that, separated from any creature of language, are inert. And such dead ‘wordmongering’ wipes out memory and breeds a ruthless complacency. – John Berger, Confabulations It’s therefore not hard to see why Berger was fascinated by the Dutch philosopher Spinoza. When he wasn’t philosophising, Spinoza earned a living grinding lenses to be used in telescopes and microscopes. Berger ground his own lenses in the form of language, and will therefore go on, through his writing, helping others to see with clarity and precision for what can feel like the first time. ■ Those who read or listen to our stories see everything as through a lens. This lens is the secret of narration, and it is ground anew in every story… – John Berger, And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief As Photos
February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | John Berger
Ways of Reading John Berger By Tom Powell, Art, Architecture & Design Editor I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; John Berger was more than Ways of Seeing. That’s not to downplay the importance of his influential TV series and book, but to go no further with him is criminal. With this in mind, here’s a selection of places to start exploring the work of John Berger beyond Ways of Seeing.
John Berger: Collected Poems
You couldn’t not include this. Portraits is a physically beautiful book – though, at almost 600 pages and in heavy duty hardback, perhaps not one for the tube. What’s more, this is Berger’s personal ‘history of art’. The essays are arranged in chronological order, but rather than a Gombrich-esque trawl through the history of human creativity, Portraits presents Berger’s own individual responses, in varying forms, across his lifetime to the art he experienced and wrote about. What makes this an interesting read is seeing Berger’s own reactions change to the same artist over the years (for example see his pieces on Henry Moore or Francis Bacon).
Although he’s written poetry for a long time, you’re more likely to find it smattered throughout Berger’s essays, memoirs and novels than the poetry section of your local bookshop. However, Smokestack, a left-wing publishing house, have collected Berger’s poems in English for the first time. Berger’s poems are sometimes delicate vignettes, perhaps of a fleeting summer moment spent in his garden, and sometimes more polemic pronouncements. With poems ranging from 1952 written up till about 2008, this collection brings together some of his more well-known but also previously unpublished verse.
A Painter of Our Time
Berger’s first novel. A rumination on art and exile. Set between 1952-56 A Painter of OurTime follows the disappearance of the Hungarian artist Janos Lavin during the repression of the Hungarian revolution by soviet authorities when his diary is found by John, a friend and an art critic. Outspoken once again, but something worth thinking about (even if you end up disagreeing) as Berger, through Lavin criticises the “art which gets over its problems without a glance at anything outside itself. The formalist work is self-sufficient. It is a commodity. The market for such commodities is made up of those who believe that they are also self-sufficient – members of the mincing cosmopolitan art world.”
Bento’s Sketchbook is based on the premise that the philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who we are informed was generally known as Benedict (or Bento) also enjoyed drawing. However, to this date no sketchbook belonging to Spinoza has ever been found. In its absence, Berger muses on what sketches and notes might have been included in the lost volume. Rather than an approximation, or an attempt to replicate what Spinoza may have sketched, Berger almost becomes Spinoza and pulls from his own life a series of stories and musings, sometimes illustrated with his own drawings, that take inspiration from the philosopher’s writing.
In some ways About Looking feels like the logical progression from Ways of Seeing. The first essay, Why Look at Animals, is an enlightening look at the relationship between humans and animals. From the depiction of animals in cave-painting to the domestication and use of animals for sport, Berger takes apart why animals look the way they do to us (and at us). Berger also examines, through other writing in this collection, the role of the viewer as participant and revelations made possible through photography.
Hard to write about Confabulations without it becoming just a contents page – it’s full of quite short but diverse essays. Camus? Check. Globalisation? Check. The problems of language in translation? Again, check. Add Berger’s own sketches and poems and you’ve got Confabulations. My favourite is the last essay, ‘How to Resist a State of Forgetfulness’ – I’d recommend this as required reading in the era of Trump. Berger offers counsel in a world where everything that is being publicly said ‘promotes a kind of civic and historic amnesia. . . meanwhile what is happening around us is going from bad to worse’ and yet ‘we have inherited from the past the courage to resist and keep on resisting in as yet unimaginable circumstances.’
PS – In the spirit of John Berger, avoid heading straight to Amazon. We don’t want him spinning in his grave any more than he probably is at the moment. Try a real bookshop.
Addendum By Harr-Joht Kaur Takhar, Deputy Editor Illustration by Anna Seibæk Torp-Pedersen
A Jar of Wild Flowers: Essays in Celebration of John Berger Another way of reading John Berger is through how he has been read by others. The humanity he has inspired is profound, deeply moving and incredibly hopeful. A Jar of Wild Flowers was released by Zed Books in celebration of Berger’s ninetieth birthday and it offers insights into how his various collaborators respond to his work. The essays act as springboards into new perspectives and individuals. Each one frames ideas in a distinct way that truly captures how broad Berger’s intellectual engagement was. The preface, written by the Punjabi poet Amarjit Chandan, encapsulates Berger’s oeuvre in the Sanskrit word karuna (‘compassion’) and offers a measured yet heartfelt ode to Berger when he writes that “John Berger is our conscience keeper”. These essays are important not because they celebrate a single figure, but because they emphasise the power of conversation. Difference is presented as something that can contribute to the rounding, translation and value of ideas to strive towards positive change and understanding. ■
February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | John Berger
Supreme x Louis Vuitton: Is this the Future of High-End Fashion? By Jem Leslie, Guest Contributor |
Illustrations by Zac Woodhouse (left), Ema Inigo-Jones (center) & Lucy Key-Sratton (right)
For its Spring 2017 collection, Vetements collaborated with Dr Martens, Eastpak, Reebok, Alpha Industries, Carhartt WIP, Champion, Juicy Couture and Hanes, Comme des Garcons, Manolo Blahnik, Mackintosh, Brioni, and Church’s. It has also riffed on skateboard magazine Thrasher’s logo, mimicking Gosha Rubchinskiy, a streetwear label that, like Supreme, nurtures a cult following through staggered stock drop. Gucci even took a leaf out of Louis Vuitton’s book to collaborate with a graffiti artist last year: Gucci Autumn/Winter 16 incorporated the work of Trevor Andrew, or ‘Guccighost.’ Louis Vuitton and Stephen Sprouse, eat your heart out.
This month saw Louis Vuitton collaborating with Supreme in the hotly anticipated Autumn/Winter 17 menswear collection that debuted in Paris. For those who haven’t yet given the collection a scour, it In the past, Louis Vuitton’s response to its street boils down to this: red leather bags and accessories, culture emulations was notoriously combative; the denim monogram shirts and bespoke skateboards. fashion house filed a cease-and-desist order against Supreme after it produced a skateboard mimicking its If the collaboration feels like a curveball, this is monogram. However, high fashion’s attitude towards because Supreme specifically markets itself to be its street culture interpretations is shifting. Through exactly this and Louis Vuitton menswear’s creative using Guccighost, Alessandro Michele effectively director Kim Jones is making clever use of it. acknowledged and incorporated his imitator as part This collaboration is as predictable as clockwork; of Gucci itself. In a similar vein, Vetements recently but that’s not to say it doesn’t make a salient released its own copy of Vetememes’ counterfeit statement about the landscape of menswear now. raincoat. To Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia, the brand is not comprised simply of its designs, but The collaboration is a stimulating idea; Supreme x includes its interpretations. Louis Vuitton has Louis Vuitton is an intriguing combination. Louis taken this concept one tantalizing step further by Vuitton is one of the oldest and most revered not only directly partnering with its imitator, but of fashion houses. Its monogram belongs to the the complete volte-face it performs in so doing. hallowed rank of fashion emblems that exist virtually Where in 2000 it took Supreme to court, now its self-sufficiently, signifying exclusivity almost designs are literally part of the Louis Vuitton brand. independently of the fashion house. Supreme, meanwhile, is a skate label founded by James Jebbia How we dress has changed. Customers increasingly in 1994 that commands intense hype; its red box combine luxury with lower price-point brands, logo symbolising subversive fashion practices. while a new breed of brand loyalty sees customers ally themselves to a number of different brands for Jones’ foray into street fashion is not unprecedented specific products only. Leading streetwear brands, for Vuitton, however. In 2001, Marc Jacobs, the then creative director of womenswear at the house, collaborated with Stephen Sprouse, an artist best known for his use of graffiti; an idea reportedly spurred after seeing a Louis Vuitton trunk defaced with black paint at Charlotte Gainsbourg’s apartment. The collection was hugely successful and paved the way for collaborations with artists including Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince. I would not be surprised if these partnerships had been at the front of Jones’ mind recently. No discussion of the current fashion climate is complete without the Vetements name check, after all, and that brand is not shy of a collaboration or two. In the Vetements book, no sartorial reference is deemed too vulgar to handle if approached with an artist’s eye. It questions what constitutes high fashion by closing the gap between itself and street culture and one of its methods is more collaborations than you can shake a stick at.
Supreme among them, have grown to become influential beyond the sphere of fashion, with connections to modern culture that render them as potent as designer brands. Louis Vuitton and Supreme are competing for an increasingly similar space. In 2017, Supreme and Louis Vuitton met as equals. The collaboration was pitched as the ultimate wallbreaker between high fashion and streetwear. All in attendance were hoping for groundbreaking stuff. Was it groundbreaking? The jury is out. The New York Times' Guy Trebly wrote that the collaboration was "the fashion version of a murdersuicide” while Dazed and Confused’s Emma Hope Allwood saw it as “a perfect symbol of today’s fashion culture.” There were some exciting ideas: the focus on leather spoke to Louis Vuitton’s own origins; there was a nod to Dapper Dan; there was even a skateboard reference to LV and Supreme’s run-in, which was charming if a little weird. But by far and away, the biggest statement of the collection was that it actually happened. It is a statement by way of confirmation. It confirms streetwear’s rise and the changing habits of luxury consumers. It points towards a new approach to branding within high fashion; namely that the fashion brand encompasses itself and its cultural ripple effects. Later this year, Louis Vuitton will bring out a new product line that won’t bear the fashion house’s monogram, but will instead feature a ‘new distinguishing marking’ which is currently a closely guarded secret. The collaboration with Supreme has proven Louis Vuitton is game for change. The fashion cognoscenti, myself among them, is keen to see what this will be. ■
February 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Fashion
Remembering Lord Snowdon
By Harriet Nelham Clark
Picture the scene. Princess Margaret, the Queen's glamorous sister, in nothing but a sparkling tiara, soaking in a tub of hot water in conversation with her husband. Snap! Immortalised. The oft-Instagrammed image of the late Lord Snowdon’s most significant subject is one of many iconic photographs of theatre, fashion and society figures, captured in his Pimlico studio. Damien Hirst in a goldfish bowl; a gap-toothed Laurence Olivier sneering beneath thick eyebrows; a corseted Helen Mirren framed by light bulbs in the dressing room; Marlene Dietrich in a cloud of smoke. Young Tony Armstrong-Jones’ interest in photography was initiated by working aged 7 or 8 for his uncle Oliver Messel, the stage designer. Graduating from the Box Brownie to room above a chemist on Windsor High Street - having restarted the Eton photographic society - ArmstrongJones sourced scarcely available photographic paper from a jeweller’s. His Cambridge career did not last a year, and after eschewing natural studies and architecture, was apprenticed to the famous society photographer Baron for three years, for the sum of £100, paid by his father. And so it was that six months later an impatient Armstrong-Jones set up by himself at number 22, Pimlico Road, gutting an ironmonger’s shop to install studio and darkroom. Many of his sitters lounge in the same, carved wooden chair, devoid of props, against hand-dyed backdrops in this setting; all excess stripped away to leave the personality exposed. His charm and cheek - which would later endear him to the Queen and Queen Mother as well as Margaret and a host of debutants - earned him
commissions with Tatler, Picture Post, Queen, Vogue and The Sketch; he would also go on to work as art director for the newly launched Sunday Times colour magazine in 1961 (living on Marmite on foreign assignments). In time, his photographs would appear on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery, where a retrospective of his work was held in 2000.
artist Lady Sarah Chatto, and Lady Frances von H - director of Snowdon’s archive and designer of a line of coats for Dover Street Market, who also recently launched Luncheon magazine.
A natural bohemian, full of boyish enthusiasm tempered by courtesy and a sensitivity to his subjects’ vulnerabilities; all these qualities are Crucial to his portraiture was daylight, a deliberate evident in his images. ‘Thank you so much for use of grain (often the result of large prints enlarged your interest in my work,’ Snowdon concluded an from 35mm film) and a documentary style, interview in 1983. The pleasure, sir, is all ours. ■ resulting in a realism that is evident in his first book capturing the ebb and flow of London life by means of his Leica (even if he would later dismiss the images as overly nostalgic). Virtually immobilised by polio at the age of 14, Snowdon would develop a great social awareness and ability to identify with the disabled. ‘I want to know the relationship between nurse and patient, and all the love and care involved’ he told the British Journal of Photography. ‘Not do-gooding pictures…but pictures that simply inform people and encourage them to think more deeply about things that are too often swept under the mat.’ Snowdon’s maiden speech in the House of Lords focused on the challenges of disability; all his professional fees during his marriage to Princess Margaret went into a trust, established in 1981 as the Snowdon Award Scheme, to fund disability projects. His legacy? His involvement with the Royal Family (and no doubt his various extramarital affairs) will forever be a primary association with his name. But hard work will out; and the popularity of his photographs shows no sign of waning. Snowdon appears to have passed his creative genes on to his children who include furniture maker David Armstrong-Jones (Viscount Linley),
Illustration by Brittany Richmond
Minimalism and Materiality
By Anushka Tay, Guest Contributor
There are many types of love for objects. As students of art and history, we learn new and ever more sophisticated ways to understand this love. We deconstruct the visual signals that take us to different places and periods. We manifest the past and the future according to photographs in a book or images on screen. Occasionally, we are presented with the object itself, in full view – or even the chance to handle it ourselves. But more often than not, it remains in the museum, separated from human touch by the glass box. But at some point, the desire to look is overcome by the desire to touch. White cotton handling gloves are not enough. We change from onlookers to owners, from critics to collectors. An object is an object is an object, but as our relationships to treasured artefacts morph, they seem to shimmer and transform, growing and receding
as the themes of each decade come and go. Tendencies towards minimalist living styles have made headlines in recent years. As we have amassed ever-greater collections of objects in our abodes, a tide of polemic urges us to throw them all away. The idea of truly minimalist living was previously associated with ascetics and hermits, those forsaking the lures of comfort and human connections – with each other, with objects - to focus on their selves. But who truly desires to be isolated? When we own an object, we imbue it with value. Minimalism encourages us to appreciate the items that we hold on to. But is it just another trap, a pitfall that ensures that we will always continue acquiring new objects in order to replace those that we have discarded? Daily living with next to no objects requires a radical rearrangement of our personal tendencies – and a lack of creative interests to boot. For what
scholar can study without books, what musician can practice without their instruments, what artisan can create without their tools? Surely the idea of having nothing is nothing more than a first-world fantasy, a problem that would plague us less if our personal circumstances meant that we already had nothing, and had nothing to lose. The democratisation of the market allowed more people to purchase more goods, at the expense of makers hidden away on foreign shores. But this access doesn’t lead to fairness: it’s an equality of consumerism, allowing even those with limited disposable income to partake in capitalism. It takes great strength of will not to buy, to use what we have, to love what we already own. As with everything else, it’s balance that we should be seeking. Choose your objects wisely, and keep them with love. ■
Stage, Screen & Music Editor’s Note
By Bianca Schor
La La Land: musical dream and the reality of relationships By Ellen Harris
The Rio Cinema on Kingsland High Street, the art deco pride of Dalston and favourite of London film lovers, could not have provided a more perfect setting for Damien Chazelle’s homage to the golden age of musicals. Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood hills, the film revolves around Mia, a young struggling actress (Emma Stone) and Sebastian, a young struggling musician (Ryan Gosling). In many ways, their story is age old. Boy and girl meet. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl try to manage their relationship while simultaneously striving to achieve their respective dreams and deal with the disappointments and setbacks which go handin-hand with being a small fish in a huge, overwhelming, glamorous pond. Yet, there is nothing too clichéd, nothing too saccharine about this sun-drenched Los Angeles romance. And herein lies the intelligence. Chazelle, who both wrote and directed the film, strikes a perfect balance between old and new, idealism and pragmatism, dream and reality. From fantasy to reality, Stage and Screen in the UK this month With Valentine’s Day just over, February can often seem a cold and emotionally difficult month to go through. But it should also be remembered as the celebration of LGBT+ History Month. In this section, we will consider whether the shows and films in London these days manage to depict varied narratives and characters to represent us all, as we are, i.e. different and complex human beings. The following articles represent a minuscule part of what is available at the moment in the UK, but they reflect the shows and films your fellow students think are important to point out. I suggest you start with the unmissable and fantastic ballet Giselle, as a logical sequence to the classical Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, always put on at Christmas time. Ellen Harris brings us to the cinema to discuss whether La La Land takes on board how our lives and relationships have evolved since the heyday of Hollywood musicals. Claudia Mia Hobbs explains how Manchester by the Sea is surprisingly stark and on point in her opinion; Harvey Shepherd’s analysis of Woody Allen’s plethoric oeuvre, on the other hand, raises the question of how we can relate to it beyond our personal (dis)liking of the director, and whether his selfcentred, heavily introspective films might still be worth watching. We will end with what is still left to be seen in our media, with our Guest Contributor, Shuranjeet Singh, and his sharp unfolding of Dev’s body, as it is created for the Western eye in the web-television series Master of None’
Illustration by Brittany Richmond
Offering an initial insight into this balancing act that will pepper the entirety of the film is the opening number. A song and dance on scale with a big budget Broadway production, the viewer is confronted with a sweltering hot day and a traffic jam that stretches the length of a three-laned freeway. It is a situation any driver knows is hopeless. Yet optimism perseveres, and a radio tune morphs into a full on choreographed extravaganza complete with lifts and high kicks on car bonnets. Perhaps, in isolation worryingly close to a scene from Fame, we are quickly snapped back into reality by disgruntled passengers and car horns. This is when Sebastian first sets eyes on Mia, while angrily overtaking her Prius. Here again, is this teetering set of scales. We have Mia’s fuel-efficient Prius and Seb’s red leather Buick Rivera, 1950s fashion and mobile phones, classic jazz and the ‘Take on Me’ singers, A-HA. Indeed, it is not immediately clear when the film is set. Of course the Prius is a giveaway, but these references to a near past add a sense of timelessness to the picture and a dream like quality that absorbs and transports us to a different reality somewhat detached from the reality of our own lives. Following Mia and Seb through the seasons I was completely swept up in its candy-box technicolour, its fuzziness and unapologetic froth. Simple, eloquent dance routines that edge into the unbelievable and frantic, rolling jazz piano are perfectly set off by a tender soundtrack and Stone’s fragile, wavering voice. For me, this is Stone’s best role to date, doe-eyed and full of wit, she soars on the wings of Gosling’s quiet, ‘tortured-genius’ sardonicism. Importantly, Mia and Seb’s relationship hits some steep speed bumps. I won’t give these away. But this is a romance for the digital age, and therefore must retain a fragment of life’s inherent difficulties and love’s struggle to remain buoyant in a drowning world. Without this, the film would fail. If for nothing else, see La La Land for the joy of old Hollywood – for Gene Kelly and Catherine Deneuve, Funny Face and Singin’ in the Rain. This city is unforgiving. Allow yourself some escapism and wrap yourself in the warmth of the story’s clever humour, quiet intelligence and flickering yet constant hope. ■ Illustration by Brittany Richmond
nothing too saccharine about this sun-drenched Los Angeles romance ...its fuzziness and unapologetic froth ...simple, eloquent dance routines ...see La La Land for the joy of Old Hollywood
February 2017 | Issue15 | The Courtauldian | Stage, Screen & Music
Manchester by the Sea Delves into Deep Waters By Claudia Mia Hobbs
I rarely like to watch films that don't promise to have me gasping for air with laughter, or that don't induce a wrinkled frown of intrigue (the only time my eyebrows ever unite) but Manchester by The Sea stood out for its unapologetic starkness. I went with mum (we all do it, it means a free meal and overpriced cinema ticket), whose main reasoning for seeing the film was the protagonist, being the brother of universal heart-throb hunk Ben Affleck. I won't deny that was also a good reason enough for me. And so, we sat, and were met with otherworldly scenes indicative of its Oscar nomination for best picture- depicting glorious snow-capped mountains surrounding the plot in America's Manchester that was purposely not sugar coated (I thought I'd be seeing a film based in our Manchester... a little upset the curry mile never featured). The plot develops in flashbacks. These little nuggets of much-needed explanation for the stoic and deadpan character of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) from the opening scene stand as impressive proof of the now Oscar nominated actor's ability, and explain how Lee had ended up as a janitor in Quincy, a Boston suburb. The stark surroundings that welcome him to his hometown of Manchester upon his return following his brother’s death are contrasted by drama and pathos, and we feel as if we too had suffered the heart numbing catastrophes Lee had. He is not exactly leaping over the moon with joy at the news that he has to become the legal guardian of his brother’s son and nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), a fact that he feels is a lethal puncture to the (figurative) tyre of his meagre existence. Seemingly mundane scenes of his everyday life as a handyman -fixing the shower of Mrs so-and-so from apartment 5 for example- serve to reinforce his utter withdrawal from the human world, and his insistence on emotional disengagement and solidarity; living away from the traces of his past traumas. This tremendously emotional tragicomedy left me wanting to find an Oscar myself to give to Casey Affleck. His compelling performance leaves you, well, downright compelled (and then some). Go see the film, and for god's sake bring a tissue, you'll need it. ■ Illustration by Anna Seibæk Torp-Pedersen
Febrary 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Stage, Screen & Music
Giselle, or the Perfect Dream By Amelia Young
The current Giselle at the London Coliseum is a revival of Mary Skeaping’s traditional production, restoring the ballet’s 1841 roots and emphasising its Romantic style. The story is based around Giselle, a peasant girl who is romantically betrayed by Albrecht, the aristocrat in disguise. This betrayal leads her to go mad and die of heartbreak in the first act. The second half sees her rise as a ghost, joining the vengeful Willis who forces men to dance to their death.
by her floating across the stage. Her portrayal of Giselle is so natural and truthful that you can feel her emotional heartbreak. Her communication with Albrecht is so delicately clear that the audience can easily piece the dialogue together between the two characters as they move in a trance like state, utterly absorbed in one another. This naturalism is beautifully emphasised by the rest of the cast, who portray the story of everyday life.
The production features the ethereal Alina Cojocaru The second act of the ballet was the most as the fragile heroine. The fine boned dancer is the mesmerising. I was taken into another world, centrepiece of the show; the audience is enchanted which starkly contrasted the idealized, pastoral
Woody Allen: Where we at? By Harvey Shepherd Illustration by Emily Knapp
When I was asked to write an article about Woody Allen for the paper following my showing of the maestro’s Stardust Memories at Film Society, I have to confess the task seemed like an alluring yet overtly poisoned chalice. Even the name seems to have become bracketed with those of Mephistopheles and Beetlejuice where if one says them too often, they might just pop out of the ether and corrupt your soul. Of course, Woody Allen isn’t a malevolent ghoul but a human being. A flawed human being, certainly [and this article would like to get as far away from the maelstrom of that court case as quickly as possible], but nonetheless one of the most visionary and interesting directors in the history of cinema. I nearly considered writing a kind of meta-article. A sort of: how does one write about the problem of writing about Woody Allen. The man undoubtedly has an incredibly influential, certainly intensely referential and critically acclaimed oeuvre. But he also suffers, especially in the contemporary generation, from an image crisis. Even in the film Weiner Dog, released last year, his name is held up by an alternative, experimental film student as the defining frumpy character trait of the ageing Danny DeVito’s character as their dolorous pedagogue [‘ew, he probably has the Woody Allen box set’]. The peanut butter coloured outfits and cavernous slacks, stalwarts of the obsessively un-sexy costumes of both Allen’s life and films, don’t help to ease the problem in any way.
However it is here that we have just come to an interesting insight: that of the relationship between Allen’s films to his life. One might call it narcissism, but then we compare Allen to a director such as Federico Fellini and we start to see that maybe this image crisis is one of the things that gets in our way of seeing the real Woody Allen. Fellini is, in mine and a lot of other people’s opinions, the greatest auteur of cinema ever: ceaselessly inventive, decadent, self-referential, able to discuss neuroses and the problems of the human condition in such wonderfully elaborated, and, also, briskly economical terms. Allen also does these things. They are actually, cinematographically rather similar with their love of flashbacks and the constant innovations they make to describe how the world of the inner mind plays itself out in that external to oneself [think of the
scene of the first half. The highlight of act two was the intense and impulsive group dancing from the vengeful betrayed lovers (Wilis) which was both frightening yet entrancing. Laurretta Summerscales’ act as the Queen of the Wilis is most striking with her electric, bold jumps and grand turns. In total, the Coliseum’s production of Giselle was utterly absorbing; an impossible world which was made to seem natural through the detailed, spellbinding dancing of the cast. ■ Illustration by Anna Seibæk Torp-Pedersen
subtitles during Annie Hall and Alvy Singer’s first conversation in Annie Hall]. Both are also obsessed with self-image and frequently rely on the same actors to play themselves; in Fellini’s case: the wonderful Marcello Mastroianni, in Allen’s case: himself. The difference between the two directors, however, is their relationship to culture in the more general sense. Allen is a compulsive parrot, his films peppered with quotes, paraphrases and namedropping everyone from Mozart to Freud, Balzac to Beethoven to name four of the entire pantheon encompassed in the invisible footnotes of Allen’s films. Here we get to the real crux of the genius of Woody Allen’s film making. The world of his films is an aggressive middle class one where an Ivy League degree is mandatory and most people wear glasses from having spent their life peering at the pages of untold numbers of books. The genius, however, is that Allen’s films are actually about the joy of life. Once one has read x number of books, one is equipped with lens upon quote upon paradigm by which to view realty but what Allen is saying is that those moments when one can’t quite find the right Stendhal line or the exact Liszt concerto to describe sensation are real and tangible. Allen’s films seem pessimistic, but they serve to teach us that life is about living and having lived, where the tissue of citations and quotations serves only as armour to protect us from feeling. This is the fundamental misunderstanding of his films and the reason he is closest, cinematically, to Fellini than any other director. Life is lived in the simple cracks in-between moments of clarity and these are the precious, elliptical points that make it worth living and are worth a thousand Jung quotes. ■
Febrary 2017 | Issue 15 | The Courtauldian | Stage, Screen & Music
The Big, the ‘bandu’ and the Ugly By Shuranjeet Singh, Guest Contributor
To understand the structures that govern world politics, it is necessary to take a synecdochic approach to popular culture; that is when a part is indicative of the whole. The construction of our lived realities occur at multiple sites and through various medias which seek to shape the way we view other actors, be them as individuals or as collectives. Popular culture largely presents abstractions, generalisations and caricatures of individual and collective identities – these characterisations are not innocent, they are inherently political. Western popular culture lacks diversity. Whether this diversity is raced, gendered, classed, differently-abled or any combination of these subject positions, for many years Western popular culture has projected reductive representations of identities that have come to construct our current worldview. The language and knowledge used to produce character representations embody unequal power structures that serve to purport the position of the dominant in society – therefore, an analysis of such caricatures can reveal historical and political inequalities that permeate popular culture and, therefore, our global outlook. Master of None is a webtelevision series which seeks to confront this lack of diversity by the inclusion of actors, characters and storylines that divert from various Hollywood norms. Critics have heavily praised cocreators, Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, for the work that this series does in diversifying Hollywood and Western popular culture, but I read the representation of the central character, Dev Shah, to be reproductive of historical, colonial discourse. I was unaccustomed to seeing a lead-character
with brown skin, and even more unaccustomed to seeing sex scenes with such a body. Dev’s characterisation veers away from the desexualised portrayals of South Asian males such as Raj from The Big Bang Theory or the inherently stereotypical, and problematic, representations such as local shopowner Apu from The Simpsons. Throughout the ten episodes Dev’s body is praised, criticised and is,
is consolidated through the symbolic dualism of masculinity and femininity – strategies of feminisation serve to categorise, subordinate and control society. The British sought to feminise some groups of South Asian males. Described as soft, frail and lascivious, linguistic descriptions of the continent were saturated with gender to discursively feminise and control its inhabitants through the ‘effeminate Bengali’ trope, also known as the ‘Bandu’. Such structures are imbued within Dev and his relationships. His body is exoticised, estranged and ultimately feminised in order to render him submissive within a Western gender framework. Master of None demonstrates the dynamism of gender, its wholly unnatural foundation and how it has been used to historically subordinate raced subjects. When considering character representations in Western popular culture it is difficult to escape the clutches of problematic tropes that have embedded themselves within wider society. Even though some aspects may allude to progression, it is important to consume such popular culture with a critical, analytical lens. My reading of Master of None considers how gendered power structures, relics from colonial occupation, direct Dev’s relationships with lovers and friends.
In this piece, I present ultimately, contorted to resemble a ‘feminine’ form. my general thoughts and some context to them Dev is persistently feminised in relationships with his regarding Western popular culture, diversity and friends and lovers. Thanks to post-Enlightenment Master of None. I wholly recommend watching ‘developments’ in philosophy, politics and the this series through an analytical lens that focuses arts, coupled with the rise of industrial capitalism on Dev, his relationships and his feminisation. ■ and expansive imperialism, the West is largely Image: author’s own structured by gendered and raced hierarches. Power
‘Is Tristram Hunt the right person to lead the Victoria and Albert Museum?’ Oh yes, couldn’t agree more! I rather like the idea of putting former politicians such as Mr Hunt into a museum. Encased inside a glass display cabinet, I am sure Tristram will be an exceedingly popular attraction to visitors. ‘What a strange specimen’ they shall remark; ‘what on earth do you think it was used it for?’ they shall query, before wandering off to the gift shop to purchase a postcard of the former Stoke Central MP’s face. Indeed, museum curators from across the UK could also soon acquire a former Labour MP for their collection. If dire electoral forecasts regarding Labour’s chances in the Copeland by-election hold true, and prove emblematic, then the market for ex-Labour MPs could become buoyant indeed.
I was talking with my friend Laura about female museum directors and we found it hard to name a single one. I checked Wikipedia and in fact the V&A did have a woman in charge a couple of decades ago. As the V&A is a public institution I think the public should get the chance to vote and participate in such things as this. In any case the voice of the public should be heard, and what the BBC does (even though I love the BBC) is not enough. I don’t know about Tristram’s credentials, but surely a woman could have been selected too? (I won’t press this point in case Penny is writing too. She says these things much better than I ever could).
The female director of the V&A was Dame Elizabeth Anne Loosemore Esteve-Coll DBE FRSA (née Kingdon). I listened to her appearance on Desert Island Discs and Ella Gibson
Ambrose Robertson The Daily Mail has brought the following to my attention: Mr. “Hunt’s” predecessor, Martin Roth, earned a salary of £145,000£150,000 as part of a total package worth £225,000-£230,000 in 2015/16 – well above Mr “Hunt’s” salary of £74,962 as an MP.
parachuted in who as usual have little connection with the city. The “Conservative” Party (what do these Blue Blairites - to borrow a phrase from my good friend Sam Robson actually conserve? God only knows.) Should do the honourable and decent thing and not campaign for this seat so as to ensure The Sun concludes that Mr. “Hunt’s” move the right-wing vote won’t be split and a has to be approved by the Culture Secretary proper political party (UKIP) gets a chance. and is signed off by the Prime Minister. Reliable sources (one Tory insider) informed Nigel Farage predicts that Tristram Hunt’s The Sun: “We’ve been working on it for resignation from Stoke will be followed months.” But they didn’t have to work hard by many others and states that Labour methinks. Everyone loves an entertainer, is doomed. I agree. But what else could and Mr. “Hunt” is just that, an entertainer, one expect? Disintegration was bound to a TV Historian. Did Mr. “Hunt” face happen to a party of Grauniad readers. any actual competition? Methinks not. I suspect Stoke Central will have candidates
As a soon to be unemployed young person with a humanities degree, I am disheartened to hear that Tristram Hunt’s new job as Director of the V&A was not advertised publicly in any form, but simply given to him. Is he passionate and knowledgeable about history? Yes. Is he experienced in overseeing large projects and budgets? Yes. Is he photogenic? Yes. So to sum up, I have no major problems with the appointment of Mr Hunt. But, until the allocation of prominent and very highly paid positions such as his are made transparent and thus outwardly fair, I fear that the wrong message is projected – one of cronyism, inscrutability and (most emotively) unfairness. Terry Shelf
she is really well-spoken and enthusiastic and tough and a great role model I think. Very erudite. She was appointed head of the V&A Museum in 1987 (at the time that Margaret Thatcher was functioning as the UK’s first female Prime Minister) and resigned in 1995. She weathered many storms, but was intent on making the museum, the V&A, accessible to everyone. She was not only the first woman director of the V&A, but in fact the first woman director of a national arts collection. She is someone who inherited an obsession with collecting books, and since Tristram Hunt is a fairly prolific author on History and Urban Landscape (so Wikipedia, again, tells me) perhaps his appointment is defensible in the end.
It required the prompt of the editor of this section for me to discover that Tristram Hunt was making such a bold move from shadow politics to the command of one of Britain’s finest institutions. This is no surprise as I do not read The Guardian, who appear to be the only news outlet to devote so many articles to this news. Why could that be? Well, perhaps because Mr Hunt was the sole remaining qualified, experienced and sane member of the Old Guard who was granted any power in Mr Corbyn’s rather pitiful cabinet of odds and sods.
member of the Shadow Goverment being forced to quit due to the hopeless and ineffectual leadership of the consistently unpopular Mr Corbyn. How will Tristram fare in the new job of running the V&A? Splendidly, I am sure: he is bound to bring boundless effort and determination to the position. After all, he finally has the opportunity to effect change, just in the much smaller world of Cromwell Road instead of Downing Street.
While The Guardian and Labour are running Mr Hunt through with the proverbial lance, I can only feel disappointment in the news of another qualified Martin Thrust
Sundries & Diversions
Neutrality Welcome to Neutrality, a new feature for The Courtauldian which was designed to draw in original creative content. To begin with, our Editors have attempted to define the term. Responses to this theme will then follow. Neutrality is a position as well. A sign that refuses to signify is still a sign. Anna Seibæk Torp-Pederson
To be neutral is to not have an opinion, but what if I do have an opinion and instead I am not allowed a voice. Have oppressors learnt nothing? What we presume of others is often our biggest mistake. ‘The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality Lorna Tiller in times of moral crisis.’ – Dante Amelia Young Neutrality should not be conflated with indifference. Neutrality can mediate, without it we would jarringly shift between extremes. Sat at her desk she squinted against the brightness outdoors, burdened by frus- Matt Page tration and censored words. The blizzard had muted the landscape just like his refusal to take sides. Ouch! I feel splinters. [Image: sitting on the fence] Amy Page Ryan Cigana ‘Nature is neutral.’ – Adlai E. Stevenson Barbora Kozusnikova
Beware those who claim absolute impartiality, who claim to have laid their hands on that Holy Grail. There can be no humanity without a vision, no philosophy without commitment. A loyalty to our ideals is surely preferable to The impartial nature of one’s ideas, attitudes and actions. Someone who repre- being, literally, disinterested? Crafting a noble person with a neutral disposition sents everything but nothing at the same time - essentially a figurative ‘no-man’s is like crafting a man with a backbone out of a banana: it cannot be done. The land’. adversarial method enables us to penetrate the inner sanctum of truth all the Beatrice Speelmans better; allows us to challenge, contradict and rock the giant statues of Orthodoxy until they fall headlong to the earth. Neutrality is toxic, and the unbiased Neutrality is not taking sides, staying in the middle, or being objective. Neu- masses deserve to be treated with due contempt. trality is not engaging in war or conflicts. Being neutral is being neither positive Shayan Barjesteh Van Waalwijk van Doorn nor negative, being in-between and on the line. Bianca Schor As an ideal attitude of Freudian psychoanalysis, ‘neutrality’ may bring to mind long sessions on a couch baring one’s soul to a ‘silent analyst’. However, translaNeutrality /nju:’traliti/ tion does him a disservice; Freud himself was rarely neutral. Instead, he relied n. The illusion of objectivity or impartialness; most commonly found in on a ‘moral attitude of attentive tolerance’. Neutrality in this sense is more Western academia succeeding the ‘Age of Enlightenment’. benevolent and perhaps more useful to us in our everyday lives. Ellen Matin Charlesworth Tom Powell Only works in retrospect, try changing the brand of your ketchup. Harr-Joht Kaur Takhar
A Throne for a Queen The narrative of Denmark is often a one-sided fairy-tale comprised of free education and hygge. The story of 750,000 enslaved Africans transported to the Danish West-Indies is forgotten and silenced. Instead, history books will tell you the story of Denmark as the first nation to abandon slave trade in 1803. However slavery continued until 1848 and, without being able to buy more slaves, they started breeding them as cattle. In 1917 Denmark sold the Islands to the USA making them become U.S Virgin Islands. They exist now as a non-self-governing territory; an organised, unincorporated United States Territory. This means they are tax paying American citizens without rights to vote in the presidential election. This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the sale of the Islands. However, one must ask what exactly there is to celebrate. To raise awareness of Denmark’s past the artist Jeanette Ehlers has proposed a Statue of ‘Queen Mary’ an enslaved woman of the Virgin Island who led a rebellion in 1878. Although slavery had officially ended, the conditions had not. Ehlers’ statue of Queen Mary will be situated outside the old West-Indian warehouse, which currently holds the Royal Danish Cast Collection. The warehouse that used to store enslaved people’s hard labour – sugar, rum and coffee – currently holds the unwanted copies of the most celebrated statues of the Western world. ‘Queen Mary’ will be seated at the entrance, next to Michelangelo’s David. She sits in her throne with a whip as the ultimate symbol of slavery and power relations, now securely held in her hands. The pair will match in material and size. But as the artist notes, when Mary stands up, she will be taller. The Danish government is yet to give an official apology to the U.S Virgin Islands. By Anna Seibæk Torp-Pedersen | Image from Daviid Ranloev
Sundries & Diversions | The Courtauldian |Issue 15 | February 2017 Neutrality is impossible. Detached is a state that does not exist. Dispassionate is a word with no meaning. Hurtling at the speed of life towards death, we are not once neutral. The only constants we have are The awareness that time is desperately slipping through our fingers and out of our grasp. The awareness that absolutely nothing can last forever, And that absolutely everything must come to an end, And that according to the laws of entropy, We are constantly descending into ascending chaos. Neutrality is impossible. The awareness that we will never remain together as we will rip ourselves apart, And distance will come between us by chance or design And if not by ourselves, Death’s inevitable and inescapable hand will do the ripping for us. Neutrality is impossible. The awareness that when you say ‘I love you’ such a statement can only be assumed To be true in the few moments it took to utter the words, Yet they assume it to be true from the moment you said it until you are ripped Apart and maybe ever after, which makes it an awfully dangerous few words to utter. Neutrality is impossible. The awareness that when they said ‘I love you’ You assumed such a statement remained true From the moment they said it until you were ripped Apart and maybe even now, which makes it an awfully painful few words to remember. Neutrality is impossible. You dare to suggest we can be neutral? And we flow on, we float in the sea of feeling. These constants our only buoyancy. Battling alongside the current, and everything is washing away. And we manage to find rafts, And sometimes even rocks Here and there along our journey Towards our demise, And while holding onto our rocks, Our enjoyment of travelling is poisoned By the constant and unchanging knowledge That either the rock will disintegrate right beneath us, Or that we all fall off the rock in the storm Or grow too comfortable with it in the peace, And have to find another That will most likely not make the ride as fulfilling And so we flow on, Desperately grasping for air Both drowning in the flood of our experiences, And yet craving more Caught in the space between the calm And the storm Wanting peace, But craving torment, Never fully settling for one or the other, Remaining in a position of flux, never neutrality, masked by our current circumstances, Which remain ever present Yet could not feel more distant. A poem by Hannah Khalique-Brown, Guest Contributor
Sundries & Diversions | The Courtauldian |Issue 15 | February 2017
Desert Island Discs Neutrality is stuck on a desert island. Luckily, before getting stuck there, it grabs the things it needs to survive. The seven pieces of music: Whatever Goes Around – Jerry Butler You’re Blasé – Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass Just War – Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers No More Wonderland – Little Simz Sundown Syndrome – Tame Impala Always – James Blake The single book: Colorless – Haruki Murakami The single luxury: SPF 60 We sought to reconnect with Neutrality after a couple of weeks but we had no luck. After searching long and hard, we learned that the things it thought it needed to survive could not sustain it. It ceased to exist on a desert island, as it was a product of the city. And so, it disintegrated into the sand. By Harr-Joht Kaur Takhar
The Haunting Idle The War on Drugs Instrumental No. 2 My Bloody Valentine Size 178-79-55-91 Tipsy Caves of Paradise Actress For Belgian Friends The Durutti Column Deep Blue Day Brian Eno Girls Death in Vegas Tommib Squarepusher — Interlude: I Love Kanye Kanye West
How can we put Neutrality into context? If we consider somebody to be neutral we automatically think of somebody that has a lack of opinion. But what if instead they are not permitted to have a voice? Who decides who is and who isn't allowed to voice their perspective? Hierarchical structures already lawfully oppress members of society from expressing personal opinions. Consider our history for a moment; do we truly have an equally expressive society? Have oppressors learnt nothing? What we presume of others is often our biggest mistake. Are you enforcing Neutrality? By Lorna Tiller
— Dreams Fleetwood Mac Souvenir Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark You Don’t Care Terry Callier Ceremony Galaxie 500
A Child of The World A child who is born in a country not native to their parents, A child with multiple passports and nationalities both by blood and by birth place, A child who identifies and embraces multiple cultures and speaks multiple languages, A child who has travelled their entire life being exposed to extreme poverty and wealth along the way. A child with an open-mind to religion, tradition and new people, A child brought up in a diverse international school environment, A child who understands racial diversity and embraces it, A child who feels rootless but at the same time grounded, A child whose worst fear is being asked ‘Where are you from?’. A child who lacks a true sense of ‘home’ because they identify both everywhere and nowhere, A child who takes pride in representing different parts of the globe, A child who is a global nomad, globally neutral and a third culture kid. A poem by Beatrice Speelmans
Amelia Joni Mitchell Anemone The Brian Jonestown Massacre Still Life (Connan Mockasin Remix) The Horrors #9 Dream John Lennon A playlist by Jordan Butt
Sundries & Diversions | The Courtauldian |Issue 15 | February 2017
Runner-up: Aymeric Chappell
Winner: Minnie Nabali
Sundries & Diversions | The Courtauldian |Issue 15 | February 2017
Broke Guide to London: Art Lovers Edition London boasts a plethora of galleries and events, it's enough to keep an art lover entertained for a lifetime. Yet, as students you'll often find your cash runs out long before your enthusiasm does. Despite the array of free galleries and private views, it's impossible to ignore the steep price tag of the more fashionable events. We're here to help you make the most student deals, and prove that the London art world can be enjoyed on a budget. National Theatre Entry Pass: FREE Free membership scheme for anyone aged 16 – 25. With this you'll get access to workshops and events along with £5 tickets to all NT productions. Plus, discounts at the bookshop, cafe, and backstage tours at the NT. A pretty solid shout for anyone who wants to develop, or continue, an interest in theatre. And if you're really inspired by what you've seen, you could write us a review.
This is a great deal. The ICA is not limited to current exhibitions; you can enjoy up to twelve free film previews for two, engage in artist talks and enjoy a 10% discount at the fantastic bookstore on-site. Limiting yourself only to exhibitions is no disappointment either; you can enjoy discounts on all exhibition tickets and attend at least four private views for two. This deal really can’t be missed. * Grab one while you can! Available for a limited time only. Our final tip is to make the most of your friends and networks. Don't forget there are plenty of people around the Courtauld with museum staff cards who are more than happy to let you into blockbuster exhibitions. In some cases, it can be as simple as 'ask and you shall receive'.
Interested in Contributing? The Courtauldian is always looking for eager students, alumni, and guest contributors. Contributions and ideas are always appreciated: whether they are articles; reviews of exhibitions and concerts; or illustrations, artwork, or photographs. Our Artist Spotlight is a brilliant opportunity for practitioners. Come autumn a new roster of students are needed to edit, design, and produce the paper. online: www.courtauldian.com e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Oliver Mitchell
ACROSS 1 Anglo-Australian cricket series (5) 7 From Manchester (9) 9 Play (3) 10 Natural (7) 12 Premier (5) 13 Cut back (5) 15 Flatten (4) 16 Waste of time (4) 17 Foul (5) 20 Jordanian rock city (5) 21 Muted (7) 23 Hair piece (3) 24 Foolish (9) 25 Uncanny (5)
DOWN 2 Forgo (9) 3 Ache (5) 4 Bulbous flower (5) 5 Binary digit (3) 6 See picture insert (5) 8 South Asian bread (4) 10 Diffusion (7) 11 Made (4) 14 Egyptian queen (9) 17 Yield produce (5) 18 Fool (5) 19 Graven image (4) 20 US VP (5) 22 Weaken (3)
Across (1) ashes, (7) Mancunian, (9) act, (10) organic, (12) first, (13) prune, (15) iron, (16) faff, (17) fetid, (20) Petra, (21) subdued, (23) wig, (24) imbecilic, (25) eerie Down (2) sacrifice, (3) smart, (4) tulip, (5) bit, (6) gnome, (8) naa, (10) osmosis, (11) created, (14) Nefertiti, (17) fruit, (18) dunce, (19) idol, (20) pence, (22) ebb
Editor Contribution: Harr-Joht Kaur Takhar
Institute of Contemporary Arts: £10 per year *
John Berger, 1972, Ways of Seeing, London: Penguin Books Ltd. pp. 7, 25.
The Courtauldian is the student paper of the Courtuald Institute of Art. Issue 15 of The Courtauldian was published in February 2017.
Published on Aug 2, 2017
The Courtauldian is the student paper of the Courtuald Institute of Art. Issue 15 of The Courtauldian was published in February 2017.