Tuesday, 16 February 2010

VIDEO: Millport (Limmy)

I found this video quite moving and poignant. It is Scottish comedian/actor Brian Limond (Limmy).

PHOTOGRAPH: Lily Allen, Bournemouth.

This is a photo I took at a Lily Allen gig in Bournemouth last year. When I first saw the pic I didn't think much of it. I put it up on twitpic and I got a positive comment on it, then when I looked at it again I decided that I did really like it. I took it on a Canon Ixus; I hadn't wanted to lug my SLR around all night. So it's really just a point-and-shoot pic that has turned out properly exposed and looking good in black and white.
We were sat quite a way back, up on the balcony, so Lily looks fairly small in the frame as she paces the stage. But I think that helps with this pic. Lily seems quite a vulnerable person, and I think the pic emphasises this, as does the fact that she is sideways on to the eyes of the crowd. I think also that her image on the video screen somehow adds to the appearance that she lonely on the stage. It can also represent the way the performer and the performance is captured, re-packaged and transmitted, even for the live audience. Her image is also being captured on the glowing screens of the mobile phone/cameras. It reminds me of a photo of JFK delivering a speech, taken from the back, with a tv in the foreground showing his face in the live broadcast. I wanted to link it, but can't find it anywhere on the web, maybe because it's a copywrited Magnum agency photo.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

ART: The Value of a Giacometti

There is a lot to like, and a lot to dislike about the contemporary art world. Top of the dislike hit parade has to be the obscene sums of money that continue to be paid by super-rich collectors and corporations even in these post-credit crunch times. Alberto Giacometti's statue "L'Homme qui marche" became the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction when it was bought for £65m at Sotheby's in London recently (http://tinyurl.com/yhgy7zd). It was previously part of the collection of the collapsed Dresdner Bank.
The sum paid is over three times the amount the UK Government has pledged to help the relief programme in Haiti. The identity of the buyer is unknown, and there is no guarantee that the statue will be on public view. It is true that some of the World's top art owners keep works on open display and have a real appreciation for art, Saatchi possibly being an example. But for many it is possession and a future profitable return that matters above all. The belief is that ownership equals appreciation, and that ownership make a cultured person of the owner.
Is the statue any good, though? Yes, indeed it is. No doubt many would be as disparaging about this work as they would about modern art generally. "A child could have done it": No, I doubt a child could have sculpted this figure. Certainly there is a child-like quality to many of Picasso's late paintings, but I like to look at children's art; it is difficult for adults to retain the innocence of a child's vision. "It's not realistic": As with most modern art it's not intended to be realistic. Giacometti said that his aim was to express his emotional response to his model, usually a relative or close friend.
I agree with the critics that have said that Giacometti's sculptures express something about the alienation of life in the modern world. The thinness of this figure exaggerates the space around the figure, the space becomes more significant than the figure. There is a grim determination in the figure's stride, but he doesn't move and his destination is never to be reached. In some of his other sculptures, figures are placed close together, but they cannot communicate or interact in any way; they may as well be light years apart. These simple carvings express deep philosophical insights with a beautiful simplicity. That makes them priceless, not in the sense that any of them are worth more that £65 million, but in the sense that they shouldn't have a price; they should belong to us all.

TV: The X Factor

Socialism...it won't work...people are naturally greedy and competitive. If I had £1 for every time I heard that, I would be a rich capitalist bastard. The thing is, competition is forced upon us at every turn. TV seems to be turning everything into a competition at the moment. Think of singing, dancing, skating, cooking, creating a work of art, living in a house for four weeks without annoying too many people...and you'll soon be thinking of a TV game show.
Which leads me to The X Factor. Everything about it says I should hate it and avoid it like I would avoid Louis Walsh in a wine bar. But I am drawn to it. It is strangely compelling, as Capt. James T. Kirk might say. I am drawn to it because it sometimes turns up very real raw talent, in particular I am thinking of...don't throw things at me now...Diana Vickers (more about her later). Of course it's all too possible that X Factor success will lead to being devoured by a giant music corporation that then churns out another teeth-whitened auto-tuned bubblegum popster. But I am STILL entertained by Alexandra Burke, for example, and I can't help it. I will listen to her album again today. And I think Subo's (not X Factor, I know, but the same sort of thing) version of Wild Horses is a pretty good cover of a much-covered song. I agree that XF seems to value only a very narrow spectrum of musical ability, but it is as if the individuality shines through despite production line treatment.
So maybe the competition does produce talent, or at least bring it to our attention. Of course there's loads of brilliant stuff that would fly straight over Simon Cowell's helicopter landing pad haircut, and I still cringe when I see or hear Jedward, or I peep at those hide-my-face-behind-the-cushion qualifying rounds. It was Ricky Gervais, I think, that described them as the bewildered being paraded before multi-millionaires for our entertainment. But I remain an X Factor addict, and there is no treatment known to humanity.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

FILM: The Nasty Girl

When I am in the right mood I like to watch a film with a message of some sort.
I watched a good German film on dvd the other day: "The Nasty Girl" by Michael Verhoeven. A student wins an essay competition and then decides to do a project on her town during the War. Contrary to the accepted version of events she uncovers all sorts of Nazi collaboration that took place by various respected, and surviving authority figures. As she gets closer to the real history she encounters censorship and personal threats, but is undeterred.
Eventually she gains national recognition for her work. There is a great scene towards the end where she is honoured by the Town for her efforts, but rejects the prize as patronising, and as an attempt to buy her off.
Prizegiving of this kind happens so often in life, and only a few have the resolve to reject such patronage. Oscars, Grammys, Brit Awards, medals and memorials...don't they all make you want to ask for FUCK YOU ALL to be engraved on your tombstone?


OK so I have started a blog. Why? Not because I expect anyone to be interested enough to read it, that's for sure. Like most bloggers, I guess, it's a case of have a go and see where it leads. I like writing, so that helps. But what to write about? Well, there won't be any kind of focussed theme or anything, just whatever I feel like writing at the time. If I get even one single reader I will be pleased. So here goes.