Friday, 31 August 2012

Goya - Saturn Devouring His Son

Saturn Devouring His Son is the name given to a painting by Spanish artist Francisco Goya. According to the traditional interpretation, it depicts the Greek myth of the Titan Cronus (in the title Romanised to Saturn), who, fearing that he would be overthrown by his children, ate each one upon their birth. The work is one of the 14 so-called Black Paintings that Goya painted directly onto the walls of his house sometime between 1819 and 1823. It was transferred to canvas after Goya's death and has since been held in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Various interpretations of the meaning of the picture have been offered: the conflict between youth and old age, time as the devourer of all things, the wrath of God and an allegory of the situation in Spain, where the fatherland consumed its own children in wars and revolution. There have been explanations rooted in Goya's relationships with his own son, Xavier, the only of his six children to survive to adulthood, or with his live-in housekeeper and possible mistress, Leocadia Weiss; the sex of the body being consumed can not be determined with certainty. If Goya made any notes on the picture, they have not survived; as he never intended the picture for public exhibition, he probably had little interest in explaining its significance. Fred Licht said that the painting is "essential to our understanding of the human condition in modern times, just as Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling is essential to understanding the tenor of the 16th century."

Lower floor of the "Quinta del Sordo" : "Witches sabbath". The "Saturn devouring his son " and "Judith and Holofernes" in the foreground.

Take the painting that for most people is the most melodramatically horrible of the lot. Saturn Devouring his Son. Actually, the gory cadaver may be a son or a daughter, its gender is undecidable; but its proportions are certainly those of an adult body and not, as in Ruben's painting of the same theme, which was the origin of Goya's idea, a chubby infant. Originally, as noted earlier, Goya had a standing figure, doing what seems to be a dance step, against a mountainous landscape; this may have even been an image of life's joy. But then the darkness closed in, the background was painted out, and Saturn – god of melancholy and, presiding over the saturnine temperament, the deity of painters as well – filled the whole frame.
Robert Hughes

The image is ineffaceable: the cannibal god on bended knees, engulfed in darkness; the mad haunted eyes and black-blooded mouth; the rending fingers, threaded with blood, and the ravaged figure in their grasp--a work of such indelible power, it seems to have existed before it was created, like some deep-rooted, banished memory, inescapable as nightmare.

It is the painting known as Saturn Devouring One of His Sons, by Francisco Goya, an image that has been imprinted on my psyche since I first viewed it in college, in 1969. Critics have called his Saturn a symbol of evil, a Satan, a monster, and that is how I first saw him--like a huge, mad Richard Nixon, devouring the young men of America through the Vietnam War: a cannibal father, jealous of our freedoms, determined to destroy us, our ideals, our hopes.

Thirty years later, the painting still evokes in me an interior terror, a sense of isolation, loneliness, grief--this god on his knees, tearing apart his own child, enshrouded in a blackness that is like a psychic tar, clinging to me, clinging me to him, to a drama of primal murderousness, so that now I seem to be participant as well as viewer. I look upon him, and I am implicated in the crime.

Human beings are made free only by their admission of their darkest fears and impulses, and this admission, unalterably expressed, seems to have granted Goya a sense of well-being, as did the entire series of Black Paintings. Javier, writing after his father's death, "referred to the pleasure Goya had experienced in viewing daily in his house those pictures he had painted for himself with freedom and in accordance with his own genio."

The ancient myth that once provided him with the subject for an unmemorable drawing, becomes, in this late period of his life, the inspiration for uttering the unutterable. The irony would not, I believe, have been wasted on Goya: the very painting the world sees and shudders at--the image it considers one of the most horrifying in all Western art--had given its creator peace.
Jay Scott Morgan 

Quinta del Sordo, c. 1900

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Abominable Dr. Phibes

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a 1971 horror film starring Vincent Price and Joseph Cotten. Its art deco sets, dark humor and performance by Price have made the film and its sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again cult classics.

Critic Christopher Null wrote of the film, "One of the '70s juiciest entries into the horror genre, The Abominable Dr. Phibes is Vincent Price at his campy best, a former doctor and concert organist (go figure that one out yourself) who is exacting revenge on the nine doctors he blames for botching his wife's surgery, which ended with her death. Through a series of tortuous means that would make a Bond villain green with envy, the hideous Phibes is matched by Joseph Cotten as the doc at the end of the road. A crazy script and an awesome score make this a true classic."

Calling this 'Horror' does not make it justice. I wouldn't call it 'movie', either, but 'film'. It's pure art. The sets and art direction are incredible, the whole movie shows the 'aura' of 1920's Art Deco, giving it that 'classy' touch. The script is also very original, and there's even room in it for lots of laughs, without sacrificing style or rhythm. Vincent Price is PERFECT as Phibes, as the other reviewer just said. He IS Phibes, and succeeds where others would probably fail miserably, fitting in perfectly in the 'tone' of the movie. Great direction by Robert Fuest, also. He managed to mix the perfect amount of horror, drama, romance and comedy in a single movie.

There is a tendency in critical analysis to view every aspect of a work as being the product of a conscious aesthetic or symbolic decision by its creator. Specious though the technique may be, applying it to the opening of Vincent Price’s seminal The Abominable Dr. Phibes yields some tantalizing results. A robed Phibes first appears seated at his massive, art-deco organ hammering out a virtuosic performance of a piece well-suited for a horror film. The work is Felix Mendelssohn’s “War March of the Priests,” an organ standard that originates from a Biblical play about a queen murdered by a man who had been hiding for years, patiently waiting to mete out divine punishment.

The origins and meaning of the piece go unremarked upon and have no bearing on the events of the film. The work is used simply to establish mood; an aural set-piece chosen for its sensory, rather than symbolic, qualities.  The scene performs its function excellently, effectively establishing Phibes’ style of high gothic mingled with Technicolor modernism. Such visual and aural indulgences are Phibes’ hallmark and sensory engagement is the film’s primary and possibly only objective. Motive, logic, and realism are discarded in favor of the sumptuous visual, a methodical tempo, and the emotive power of Price’s eyes. It is an illogical film, filled with contradictions and anachronisms; to look for “meaning” in the individual parts is to miss the point. Scenes – and to a certain degree, the entire film – must be digested whole; each element empty save for what it contributes to the mise en scene. For these reasons, it is possible to view The Abominable Dr. Phibes as the quintessential horror film—a triumph of style over logic.
David Carter

This unusually beautiful horror classic features Vincent Price in the title role of Dr. Anton Phibes, a genius who specializes in organ music, theology, and concocting bizarre deaths for anyone who wrongs him. Discovering why is half the fun, so for now let's just say that Phibes is a little mad and very, very angry. With his assistant, the lovely, silent Vulnavia, Phibes begins cutting a gory swath through London's medical community, with the dogged Inspector Trout hot on his tail. Phibes contains many pleasures--exquisite art direction and a dark sense of humor among them--but the real treat is in watching an old pro like Price at work. Whether he's playing his organ, staring down a victim, or drinking through his neck, Price is at the top of his game. He mixes dark menace with wry comic touches, revealing both Phibes's maniacal obsession and offhanded confidence in his own genius. Settle in for an evening of elegant gore and if an attractive, mute deliverywoman comes to the door, whatever you do--don't answer!
Ali Davis 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012



Francis Picabia - Untitled (Match-Woman I), 1920

Extract from David Foster Wallace - Infinite Jest:

Orin Incandenza, who like many children of raging alcoholics and OCD-sufferers had internal addictive-sexuality issues, had already drawn idle little sideways 8's on the postcoital flanks of a dozen B.U. coeds. But this was different. He'd been smitten before, but not decapitated. He lay on his bed in the autumn P.M.s during the tennis coach's required nap-time, squeezing a tennis ball and talking for hours about this twirling sprinkler-obscured sophomore while his doubles partner lay way on the other side of the huge bed looking simultaneously at Orin and at the N.E. leaves changing color in the trees outside the window. The schoolboy epithet they'd made up to refer to Orin's twirler was the P.G.O.A.T., for the Prettiest Girl Of All Time. It wasn't the entire attraction, but she really was almost grotesquely lovely. She made the Moms look like the sort of piece of fruit you think you want to take out of the bin and but then once you're right there over the bin you put back because from close up you can see a much fresher and less preserved-seeming piece of fruit elsewhere in the bin. The twirler was so pretty that not even the senior B.U. football Terriers could summon the saliva to speak to her at Athletic mixers. In fact she was almost universally shunned. The twirler induced in heterosexual males what U.H.I.D. later told her was termed the Actaeon Complex, which is a kind of deep phylogenic fear of transhuman beauty. About all Orin's doubles partner — who as a strabismic was something of an expert on female unattainability — felt he could do was warn O. that this was the kind of hideously attractive girl you just knew in advance did not associate with normal collegiate human males, and clearly attended B.U.-Athletic social functions only out of a sort of bland scientific interest while she waited for the cleft-chinned ascapartic male-model-looking wildly-successful-in-business adult male she doubtless was involved with to telephone her from the back seat of his green stretch Infiniti, etc. No major-sport player had ever even orbited in close enough to hear the elisions and apical lapses of a mid-Southern accent in her oddly flat but resonant voice that sounded like someone enunciating very carefully inside a soundproof enclosure. When she danced, at dances, it was with other cheerleaders and twirlers and Pep Squad Terrierettes, because no male had the grit or spit to ask her. Orin himself couldn't get closer than four meters at parties, because he suddenly couldn't figure out where to put the stresses in the Charles-Tavis-unwittingly-inspired 'Describe-the-sort-of-man-you-find-attractive-and-I'll-affect-the-demeanor-of-that-sort-of-man' strategic opening that had worked so well on other B.U. Subjects. It took three hearings for him to figure out that her name wasn't Joel. The big hair was red-gold and the skin peachy-tinged pale and arms freckled and zy-gomatics indescribable and her eyes an extra-natural HD green. He wouldn't learn till later that the almost pungently clean line-dried-laundry scent that hung about her was a special low-pH dandelion attar decocted special by her chemist Daddy in Shiny Prize KY.
   Boston University's tennis team, needless to say, had neither cheerleaders nor baton-twirling Pep Squads, which were reserved for major and large-crowd sports. This is pretty understandable.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Philip Best collages

Philip Best is a pioneer of power electronics who formed the band Consumer Electronics in 1982 at the age of 14. He joined the group Whitehouse, led by William Bennett, in 1983. After a nine-year hiatus starting in 1984, Best rejoined and remained with the group until departing again in 2008.

In 1998 Best published his doctoral thesis at Durham University entitled "Apocalypticism in the Fiction of William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard and Thomas Pynchon" and later received a doctorate in English literature.

In 2010 a collection of Best's artwork entitled American Campgrounds was published by Creation Books with a foreword written by Peter Sotos.

AMERICAN CAMPGROUNDS, the first book by Philip Best, is a radical photo-collage novel of primal fear and predation. Taking as its starting point the shocking abduction of 8-year-old Shasta Groene and her year older brother Dylan from their Idaho home in 2005, Best's modern jeremiad conjures a nightmarish landscape stalked by natural and man-made catastrophe, relentless media perversity and almost unimaginable cruelty. Like Night Of The Hunter restaged by the ghosts of Max Ernst and the Marquis de Sade, AMERICAN CAMPGROUNDS is a trip into the fractured, infernal underworld of human souls in jeopardy.

Drawing upon Best's extensive collection of lyric and scrapbooks, and further developing the themes of his 2009 gallery show in New York with Peter Sotos, AMERICAN CAMPGROUNDS offers an obsessive compendium of images and tropes that have regularly haunted his challenging yet compelling work. Notoriously reticent concerning his often ambivalent artworks, Best nevertheless positions “Shasta's tale, or Book, as one of hope, redemption and exemplary resistance to black, titanic forces”.

The book also features BODYGUARD, a brand new, 40-page text by Peter Sotos.

AMERICAN CAMPGROUNDS contains 280 full-page artworks, with over 60 pages in full colour, and is printed on high-quality coated paper.


Collages (2010-2011)

Exhibition at Rumpsti Pumsti (Musik), Berlin

February 5, 2011 - March 22, 2011

This came out late last year, but I didn't see a thread about it already. It looks like the Hardcover is sold out and I've been checking for around a month and the paperback has been unavailable for ordering the whole time. Does anyone here have it? I really want it, it looks like it'll be similar to the photo collages he posts on his blog, which I've always been a fan of.

I'm not a huge fan of Best's work but I am a huge fan of Sotos so I was thinking about grabbing it just for that (and maybe something Best does in the book can spark interest). I thought that the A4 photo collages he was selling for $150-$400 was insane. I mean, he doesn't take his own photographs, it's just a collage. I guess I just don't get him, way over my head.

Yeah I was split as to whether to do it in the general section or the philia section. Ended up trying to play it safe. I will definitely agree that its price gouging, I guess I just ignore all that because everything that announces itself as "art" price gouges you. I think the book is fairly priced, especially considering how much these things usually cost. But the A4s were ridiculous. I think these collages are the sort that if you had them on your wall or just looked at them everyday they'd become a lot more valuable to you mentally. A lot of visual art is that way to me, it might have an initial appeal but its only over the long term of being confronted with it that it either works or it doesn't.


Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Scene

The Scene was Detroit’s answer to Soul Train, a now-legendary local TV dance show which aired from 1975-1987, and became known for breaking early techno records alongside the usual disco and funk.  AFTER THE JUMP… WATCH the show’s most famous clip – a stoopid fresh 1982 dance line to seminal Detroit techno record, A Number of Names’ “Sharevari.” (The dude with the guitar is THE MAN.) The Scene, SEEN!

The Scene, a daily dance show that featured many national and local guests artists as well as many youngsters from the community. The show ran for a record twelve consecutive years from 1975 to 1987 and retired as one the most popular and successful shows in the history of WGPR-TV, Channel 62. The Scene had a strong loyal following of viewers that grew to include city and suburb, white and black, the young and the young at heart. Nat Morris, executive producer and host, provided opportunities for unknown artists, launching many careers that went to national and international fame. The Scene paved the way for all the Detroit local entertainment TV shows that followed and had the impact on Detroit Black television in much the same way that Soul Train and Don Cornelius had on a national level."
Richard Metzger

Most people of a certain age automatically think of the New Dance Show in terms of a classic Detroit television show to feature local dancers, but a lot of people aren’t readily aware of the fact that the New Dance Show had a local predecessor. And when you consider that they called it the “New” dance show, that should make it even more obvious. The Scene, which aired on WGPR-TV 62, is in fact the New Dance Show’s predecessor and ran from the late ’70s to early ’80s. It was essentially designed to be a local version of Soul Train, but what’s cool is that The Scene featured a lot of local music of that era, some of which immediately sounds like the music the Belleville 3 (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson) were beginning to make around the same time.
Jonathan Cunningham

old school Detroit TV show called the scene had a contest called rap a dance and this crew called rdc crew and this song was the shit i loved it,they did not win a crew called s p x 90 won with the gumby dance another song i loved wish i had that too.Check this out the year was around 1987or1988 Nat Morris was the host 6oclock channel 62 every body in Detroit used to watch is a little fuzzy but hey it was v h s tape enjoy

This is a real shout out to Detroit. With all the mayhem, devastation, and death the media claims to be running the city right now, here is something that hollers back to the “olden days” of the city. This was a time when jobs were plentiful and Mayor Coleman Young was still alive to see the city being run with love. The city has its own local television and radio station, channel 62 and 107.5 WGPR. And after you got off at the plant, you could hear MOJO, one of the baddest DJ’s ever to spin a record on the radio. But on the TV channel, you were privy to The Scene, the local dance show hosted by none other than the infamous Nat Morris. Young people gathered to show off their best moves, clothes and be entertained by the latest local group or national sensation.

Yeah, those were the days when the city popped.

I’m not saying that there wasn’t any crime because that element of Detroit has been known for a long time in the place I like to affectionately call the D. But, in 1987, the community still stood strong. The Pistons reigned supreme in basketball; even against the best, Mr. Michael Jordan. There wasn’t a Hockeytown downtown, there was no Comerica Park or Ford Field, just Joe Louis arena, Cobo Hall and Tiger Stadium and the authentic people of the city who liked to have a good time after 5pm when the whistle blew for many at the Big 3. 
The Scene was on and on this day, we were watching Gumby Live. Enjoy, Detroit.

J.C. Brooks

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Jason Rhoades - Black Pussy

Jason Rhoades (July 9, 1965 – August 1, 2006) was an installation artist who enjoyed critical acclaim, if not widespread public recognition, at the time of his death, and who was eulogized by some critics as one of the most significant artists of his generation. Better known in Europe, where he exhibited regularly for the last twelve years of his life, Rhoades was recently celebrated for his combination dinner party/exhibitions that feature violet neon signs with African, Caribbean, Creole and hip-hop slang for the female genitalia.

Art critics tend to say a lot about Jason Rhoades, if only because his intentions weren’t always easy to figure out. Listen to some tell it, and he was one of the most quietly influential artists of the past decade or two. In any case, the consensus is generally that Rhoades’ work was, to say the least, seriously imaginative. Most notably, Rhoades was known for his installations, which pieced together elements of his own lifestyle with sprawling messes of kitschy objects and arrangements.

The last of Rhoades strange experience-oriented pieces produced before his death in 2006 was entitled The Black Pussy, which presumably took its name from the piece depicted here. All in all, the installation boasted 427 slang terms for vaginas, spelled out in hanging neon lights. A commentary on the pervasive nature of sexuality in our culture? A clever “fuck you” to art snobs? Despite the strange claim that the project was inspired by Islamic religion (the title being a not-so-subtle allusion to the Black Box), pinning down Rhoades’ “intent” isn’t easy to do. For some artists though, words like “intent” or “point” don’t always apply.
B. Williams

As many of Jason Rhoades’ pieces, Black Pussy is not what it first appears to be. Or at least not only, although even on first seeing it there is already a lot to take in. Like Sheep Plug, this gigantic installation made of thousands of heterogeneous objects, neon lights and sound is both a testimonial and the result of an on-going process of accumulation and events. Indeed, Black Pussy was both the décor and the stage for ten Black Pussy Soirées Macramé parties that Rhoades held in his Los Angeles studio.
Virginie Bobin

Sex, religion, power and money: their conjunction is inevitable. Jason Rhoades' Black Pussy ... and the Pagan Idol Workshop, which opens tomorrow at Hauser & Wirth on London's Piccadilly, is an assault on the senses, as well as an affront to sensibility. If it is a calculated insult, it is also somehow indiscriminate, a babble and a confusion.

The Black Pussy of the title has nothing whatever to do with cats. It is the vagina by anything other than its proper name: sprangalang, jelly roll, the choo-choo train and many other ribald, ridiculous, affectionate, obscene and offensive names, written in ultra-violet neon, an eerie black light that makes your teeth fluoresce and your dandruff sparkle. The 427 pussy-words (selected from a much longer, though by no means exhaustive list) are hung and dangled like so many Christmas tree baubles about a mountainous accumulation of stuff.

The words themselves are a philologist's wet dream of gangsta rap, hip-hop, Creole, African and street jive euphemisms. Alone, these darkly shimmering signs would be no more than a mildly entertaining, if ultimately depressing record of the male mind-set. No one uses the word vagina in workaday intimate speech. But in the context of a work that also draws its inspiration - if that is the word - from the idols that were once housed in the Ka'bah in Mecca, before Muhammad cleared them out, their presence here gives one pause.

For Rhoades, then, we might take the gallery as a sanctuary for useless fetishes, unless, that is, art really does contain a message, the message being more than a smokescreen for the trade in art as a commodity. Black Pussy presents the antithesis of the gallery as a quasi-spiritual space, where succour may be sought. Private galleries, let's face it, are shops. Art is not a religion, or even several competing religions, however often the idea is bandied about. Museums are not the new cathedrals. I have no idea what Rhoades really intends in his allusions to Islamic culture, or indeed to anything else. Maybe the journey is the thing, the endless ravelling and unravelling of the world's confusion ·
Adrian Searle 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Satellite Zine Launch, Issue 8, Performing Worlds @ Duncan of Jordanstone 23.08.12 - pictures

To Dundee's art school after work, for the launch of the latest Satellite Zine. I took a few photos and here they are:

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

brandy and soda

Brandy has an extended history, and is made by the process of distilling wine. It became popular as an export from Europe in the 16th century, while the invention of soda water occurred much later, in the late 18th century. Surprisingly, both were considered healthful drinks. In fact, combining brandy and soda was thought to take advantage of two medicinal favorites, brandy with its calming effects, and soda water, which was considered to be inherently good for people.

You can find references to brandy and soda in journals dating back to the early 19th century. Soda could help cut the taste of inferior brandy, and it was drunk as both a medicinal, and simply for its flavor. Civil war participants write about the amount of brandy and soda consumed, and the drink occurs in numerous examples of Victorian autobiography and fiction. It is often particularly associated with England, where brandy remained more popular than whisky and soda.

Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Drinking and Drugs - Brandy - Brandy and Soda
Whisky at this period was literally an unknown beverage in London - possibly because the supply could never have equalled the demand, or more probably because science had not yet evolved  the diabolical concoctions that now do duty for the wine of Bonnie Scotland. And so it came to pass that the staple drink at Lane's was brandy and soda. Come in when one chose, there stood battalions of soda with brandy in reserve, and rarely did a wayfarer return at the small hours without calling for a libation from old Peter. Occasionally, after an unusual run, the supply might become exhausted, but no temptation could induce the old janitor to retail what had been reserved on "special order."
'One of the Old Brigade' (Donald Shaw), London in the Sixties, 1908

I am a life-long fan of this drink. I was nearly ejected from a Boston restaurant for sending back the "Brandy and Soda" three times. It seems that someone had reversed the Sprite hose with the Club Soda hose on the beverage gun, and I was getting brandy and Sprite… a sickening mixture. On the third time, I insisted that they were doing it wrong, and suggested that the waiter AND barman try it themselves. The barman did and confirmed that the soda hoses had been switched. Vindicating my claim, he offered me another, but the waiter suggested a different drink instead: "Can I bring you something fresh? How about a bourbon and ginger [ale]?"
"Thank you, but we'll take the check and our coats instead." 

Acronym  Definition

B&S  Brothers & Sisters (TV show)
B&S  Bait and Switch
B&S  Briggs & Stratton
B&S  Belle & Sebastian (band)
B&S  Brown and Sharp (wire gage, same as AWG)
B&S  Brandy and Soda (cocktail)
B&S  Bell and Spigot (pipe)
B&S  Bridges & Structures (Canadian railways)
B&S  Bachelor & Spinster Balls (event)
B&S  Broadcast and Select Architecture
B&S  Bartholin and Skene (glands)
B&S  Bach and Schilke (trumpet manufacturer)
B&S  Blechblas- und Signal-Instrumenten-Fabrik (musical instrument maker; Germany)
B&S  Blade and Soul (gaming)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Got paid so I bought a few items:

Nico - Fata Morgana: Nico's Last Concert (SPV) CD, £10.64

Nico - The End (Island) CD, £2.06

M.B. - Regel (Urashima) Red vinyl LP, £13.99

ViLLan X / 2AM/FM ‎– HeartBeat Crazy / Don't Front!!! (Nation) 12", £9.99

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Luke Fowler - The Poor Stockinger, The Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott @ The Hepworth Wakefield

To the Hepworth Wakefield today for a look at their new commission, an elegiac hour-long film essay by Duncan of Jordanstone alumnus and 2012 Turner Prize nominee Luke Fowler. The Poor Stockinger, The Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott reflects on the life of Marxist historian Edward Palmer-Thompson, whose Workers’ Education Association sought to teach night classes in literature and history to miners, factory workers and the unemployed across the West Riding of Yorkshire. The film cuts together archive TV clips of Thompson’s speeches with footage of the current Yorkshire landscape, as Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans reads out a selection of Thompson’s class reports, occasionally cursing the noises clattering away from the mike in his kitchen. The film nicely conveys the optimism and utopian impulse evident in the original WEA programme, all now forgotten in our present moment of neo-liberal individualism-above-all-else. We see a contemporary poster that advertises the reclaiming of Payment Protection Insurance against the banks, and we cannot help but ask: is that really all that’s left for us?

'The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott' by Luke Fowler (excerpt) from Film and Video Umbrella on Vimeo.

Friday, 17 August 2012


Daisies (Czech: Sedmikrásky) is a 1966 Czech film directed by Věra Chytilová considered a milestone of the Nová Vlna movement and the modern surrealist cinema.

Made with the support of the state-sponsored film studio, it follows two teenage girls, both named Marie, played by Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová; throughout the film they engage in strange pranks as acts of rebellion against the world in which they live.

Innovatively filmed, and released a couple of years before the Prague Spring, Daisies was labeled as "depicting the wanton" by the Czech authorities and then banned. Director Chytilová was forbidden to work in her homeland until 1975. 

Chytilová has set herself against the notions of mainstream cinema and produced a new kind of record thanks to which she has been able to revise and re-imagine the category of femininity, a category that has been always described in terms of traditional gender interpretations. Despite formal and ideological difficulties, Chytilová developed in Sedmikrásky a subjective vision, filled with a sense of irony and humour, of the painful adolescence of two "spoiled" (zkažené) girls, Marie I and Marie II, who are trying to act out their lives. The unconventional plot revoles around a series of unconnected escapades as the two girls use their femininity and mock naivity to run rings around a succession of older men. The audacity of their rebellious spirit culminates in a spectacular food fight in a hall, laid out in advance for a grand banquet. After this, the two promise to mend their ways and make attempts to repair the damage they have done.
Małgorzata Radkiewicz

On the surface, Daisies’ assemblage of outlandish scenarios enacted by two ferociously antiestablishment figures would seem to mark it as simple anarchic slapstick, like a New Wave Marx Brothers comedy. But Chytilová has called her film “a philosophical documentary in the form of a farce.” The Maries are not merely railing against a society that views them as little more than objects (in the opening scene, Marie II calls herself a panna, which translates as both “doll” and “virgin” in Czech, and the girls play with, and at one point remove, their limbs as though they were the plastic appendages of mannequins); they are also existentially angry. Early on, they decide the world is meaningless, “spoiled,” which they use as justification to spoil themselves. By refusing to cultivate a psychological connection between audience and character, and by confounding any sense of narrative momentum, Chytilová and her screenwriting partner Ester Krumbachová create protagonists who seem to have no future or past. Blank slates, they have been interpreted over the years variously as embodiments of healthy rebellion and the banality of evil. Either way, they are good representations of Chytilová’s belief that “people are primitives and aesthetes at the same time.”

Though Daisies remains playful to its climactic orgy (a mega food fight), it is ultimately a dark, subversive work, aggressively critiquing those who might find it offensive before they even have a chance to complain: its closing dedication is to people who “get upset only over a stomped-upon bed of lettuce,” over the sounds of firing artillery.
Michael Koresky

After a few minutes of the film’s free, unpredictable energy you see what made people nervous. The two young women turn a food-filled banquet table into a catwalk, prank older male suitors on humiliating dates, and get drunk at a nightclub and upstage its performers. They lounge half-dressed in their green-accented flat, the walls covered with phone numbers and flower engravings, munching on pickles and sparring playfully in singsong tones. 

Their creativity and destructiveness are “two sides of the same coin,” Ms. Chytilova said in an interview during the 2002 Prague on Film Festival in London. The twinned heroines — one blonde and laureled like a nymph, the other a taller brunette — act like dolls run amok, but they’re also impish adolescents tweaking society through their experiments in self-definition. “We can try anything once,” they exclaim in their existential repartee. 

But especially amid the flux of 1960s Czechoslovakia their free-spirited activity was open to unsettling interpretations. Do their games represent the dangers of idleness and ideological shapelessness, or do the women personify a punklike liberation? And what to make of the archival war footage that opens and closes the film? 

“It’s very ambiguous!” Michal Bregant, director of the National Film Archive in Prague, wrote in an e-mail. “It looks like an anarchist statement, but the director wanted to warn what might be the consequences of irresponsible human behavior.” 
Nicolas Rapold

Monday, 13 August 2012

Throbbing Gristle - Heathen Earth

Heathen Earth is a live album by Throbbing Gristle. Tracks 1- 8 document their performance in 1980 on "Saturday the 16th of February between 8:10pm and 9:00pm". Track 9 is from a performance on July 06 1978 . Track 10 is from a performance on May 18 1978.

The first pressing was limited to 785 Copies on blue vinyl. The second pressing was on black vinyl.

CD tracklisting:
  1. Cornets - 4:38
  2. The Old Man Smiled - 6:39
  3. After Cease To Exist - 7:17
  4. The World Is A War Film - 7:46
  5. Dreamachine - 7:44
  6. Still Walking - 4:56
  7. Don't Do As You're Told, Do As You Think - 7:33
  8. Painless Childbirth - 1:05
  9. Adrenalin - 3:59
  10. Subhuman - 2:53
  • On the CD release, only tracks 9 and 10 had titles, though Genesis P-Orridge later revealed the names of the untitled songs.

An exceptional piece. TG started playing live in a studio right at 10 p.m. in front of a small selected audience. At 10:50 the playing stopped and without *any* post-production the tape went to the plant. Who believes that classic industrial is noisy and agressive only, will experience TG at their most contemplative and sometimes almost jazzy recording. Wonderful.

When I first found Throbbing Gristle's live album, I expected it to be the ultimate TG time capsule--preserving TG's live sound for future generations—but the band had other plans.  Rather than a live recording made at a public gig, Heathen Earth was a contrived and controlled affair that captured the sound of Throbbing Gristle performing for an invited audience in their studio. Rather than a blistering assault, it played more like a subdued (albeit menacing) jam session. They never made it easy.

After all these years, the aspect I find most striking about Heathen Earth is how it defies TG's confrontational image.  The track list seems to be chosen specifically to avoid the freakout energy of tracks like "Hamburger Lady" and "Subhuman," and while Heathen Earth is far from easy listening, it is generally smoother and less difficult than many other TG records. The record's most abrasive moments come early in "The Old Man Smiled" and are then followed by a noisy jam of synth noodles, hisses, and feedback on "Improvisation," the creepy if relatively mellow "The World is a War Film," and the synth-driven "Something Came Over Me," that serves as a blueprint for early Skinny Puppy if ever there was one.
Matthew Jeanes
Brainwashed review

A live-in-the-studio séance recorded in one take in front of a posse of friends and associates, I've always regarded Heathen Earth as the dog in the manger, sounding slightly stiff relative to the unhinged and abrasive live sound captured on the TG24 boxset, which archives their scalding live gigs before frequently hostile crowds with less fidelity but more heart. The opening salvos of this concert draw upon songs and rhythmic tapes already deployed on 20 Jazz Funk Greats, and they sound tentative, fragmentary, slightly inhibited. But things begin to erupt when the whistling-led mirage of "The World Is a War Film" dissolves into a ripping version of "Something Came Over Me", turning that single into a propulsive, masturbatory launchpad for a swirling noise-dub overload which Carter's remastering has pumped into startling new prominence. Gen holds back from taking much of a vocal frontman position, and the result is a greater awareness of TG's ear for texture. It would take a spicerack of adjectives to do justice to the gnarled, twisted, flanged, and serrated soundworld conjured by the band's unique gear and more-is-more approach to processing. But it's a testimony to their precision that, for all their influence, nobody quite sounds like them when they are truly on blast, as they are here. Things come to a suitably frenzied peak in the stomping, cornet-led "Don't Do as You're Told, Do as You Think", in which Cosey's horn-through delay finally makes good on the clammy flirtations with jazz from 20 Jazz Funk Greats. Having promised a séance on a rainy afternoon, a relaxation technique cassette concludes the jam.
Drew Daniel

Throbbing Gristle - Recording Heathen Earth (1980) by lostfiles

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Robert Mapplethorpe - Louise Bourgeois

The photo, everyone knows. Louise Bourgeois, 71 years old, wearing a mischievous grin, with a latex and plaster phallus tucked under her arm like an oversize evening clutch. When Robert Mapplethorpe photographed Bourgeois in 1982 holding her iconic sculpture Fillette (Little Girl, 1968), he captured the artist in a wry, gleeful moment; she appears menacing and aloof on one hand, nurturing and grandmotherly on the other. While the notorious photo is instantly accessible, Bourgeois, for all her renown, remains elusive.
Claire Barliant

Louise Bourgeois - Fillette, 1968

Robert Mapplethorpe’s iconic 1982 portrait of Louise Bourgeois, who died recently at 98, speaks volumes about Bourgeois’ free-spiritedness, grace, tenacity and the kinky perversity of her work. In it, the 71-year-old sculptress looks like a shaman seductress, one of Munch’s vampiric castration queens, a maker of voodoo dolls and a diva grandmother rolled into one. Under her arm she casually cradles her 23-inch long, seven-inch circumference latex-over-plaster sculpture of a phallus, Fillette (1968). In French the term means "helpless little girl." While Bourgeois was no little girl, there’s something radically vulnerable about how she’s holding the work -- she almost seems to pull back the sculpture’s foreskin and give the thing a little tickle. Bourgeois said this gnarly abstract penis, with ovular testicles and a hook at the top, was "the shape of my husband, the shape of the children" (she had three sons). "I wanted to represent something I loved," she said. "I obviously loved representing a little penis." Little? Anyway, as Bourgeois later said, "It’s very complicated." Indeed it was. As she said, "I have nothing against the penis. It’s the wearer."
Jerry Saltz

Is Louise Bourgeois smiling because she no longer has to envy the penis, now that she has one in her clutches? You are looking at Robert Mapplethorpe’s famous photograph of Bourgeois in 1982, carrying Fillette, a sculpture she made in 1968. Speaking about the work in 1998, Bourgeois said, "When I wanted to represent something I loved, I obviously represented a little penis." But Fillette is not such a little penis -- a clitoris, as the title suggests. It is huge, almost as huge as the giant phallus a naked woman carries in a picture painted on an Attic vase by the so-called Painter of Pan. As Peter Webb tells us, such enormous phalluses were dedicated to Dionysus, and ritually carried in ceremonial processions by naked women, who often straddled them to ensure fertility, and as Webb adds, "for more immediate pleasure." It was clearly an act of worship, in which the apotheosized penis -- the erect penis as a sacred totem and fertility symbol, and thus of the generative or creative power of nature -- was put to practical personal as well as religious social use.

Fillette is Bourgeois at her most dialectically perfect, for it combines beta and alpha elements in a singular yet universal form even as it shows their difference and opposition. Fillette is the all-powerful phallic breast, caught in the act of asserting its power. Contained by Bourgeois’ receptive mothering arms in Mapplethorpe’s photograph, it nonetheless remains aggressively raw -- not exactly a pet on a leash, as the Greek woman’s phallic breast seems to be -- suggesting that it remains young and fresh however often it is used. Bourgeois’ phallic breast -- phallus with a nipple, as it were -- has the power to perform the alpha function, which is the fundamental act of creative origination, but it seems to have been just created itself, which is why it remains mired in materiality.
Donald Kuspit - The Phallic Woman 

Friday, 10 August 2012

1000 Candles Reprise @ DCA 10.08.12 - pictures

To the DCA this evening for William Mackrell's relighting of 1000 Candles, a sculpture constructed of one thousand individual tea-lights. I took a few photos and here they are: