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Chewing matter for eyes, ears, brain

by @Rombren

Jonopoly! 25th birthday card for a great person I know. (His name is Jono.)

#1- Handpainted board of some of his favourite places at home & university. Had to be a little liberal in interpreting the district colours as I only had 5 paints. Teach me to be a cheapo! I only smeared the paint once (…bottom right).

#2- He likes giraffes. Cheekily borrowed this one from the imgur logo

#3- Custom chance & community chest cards. We never had Monopoly in our house when I was a kid so I hope I did these right…

#4- Player pieces! Charm bracelet trinkets from eBay. The 2nd one is a clock.

Finishing touch: stole the die from a game of ‘Riotous Applause’ in my brother’s closet which everyone in my family hates playing

7 months ago
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Dürer/Coutauld | Ausstellungskritik auf Deutsch | German Exhibition Review

BILDENDE KUNST: Der Junge Dürer, The Courtauld Gallery, London, bis den 12. Januar 2014

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Martin Schongauer A Foolish Virgin in half-length, c. 1470-1482
© The Trustees of the British Museum, London

Es gibt Ehrgeizlinge und es gibt Ehrgeizlinge, aber Albrecht Dürer war so frühreif wie man es nur sein kann. Die neuste Ausstellung der Courtauld Gallery in London, die viele der frühen Zeichnungen und Gravuren des seminalen Künstlers der Frühneuzeit ans Licht bringt, und den Titel “Der junge Dürer: Die Zeichnung der Figur” trägt, stellt einen jungen Mann dar, der schon mit 13 seine erste Selbstporträt erschaffen hatte, mit 19 dabei war, sein Werk kommerziell zu vermarkten, und schon mit 20 wusste, sich die derzeit bahnbrechende Druckertechnologie zunutze zu machen.

Die Ausstellung handelt sich um den krönenden Abschluss einer 4 Jahre-dauernden Zusammenarbeit mit dem Nürnberger Germanischen Nationalmuseum, und beschäftigt sich prinzipiell mit Dürers Wanderjahre von 1490 bis 1494. Während dieser Zeit reiste der 19-jährige Dürer durch die Länge und Breite des Rheinlands auf der Suche nach neuen Inspirationen und Erfahrungen, bevor er zur damaligen Kultur- und Wirtschaftsboomtown Nürnberg wiederkehrte, um sich dort niederzulassen.

Sie finden also in dieser Ausstellung keinen von den atemberaubenden Meisterdrucke, die Dürers damaligen Ruf festigten. Sie finden aber stattdessen eine Sammlung von formativen Skizzen, die Zeugnis ablegen von einem ehrgeizigen jungen Zeichner mit erstaunlichem Kenntnis und Bewusstsein vom eigenen Körper. Die sehnige Detailreichheit des Ausstellungskernstücks “Studie des Künstlers linken Bein von zwei Perspektiven” (1493) und die wunderschön kreuzschraffierte Grübchen im düsteren Selbtsporträt (1491-92) bezeugen Dürers Hang zur Selbststudie.

Hinzu kommt, dass sich Dürer seiner Leistungsfähigkeiten äusserst bewusst war. Von den stilisierten Monogrammen, mit denen er seine Werke ab zirka 1490 kennzeichnete (grossgeschriebenes ‘A’ mit tür-ähnlichem ‘D’ mittendrin, welches auf die Etymologie seines Namens anspielt) bis zu der pingeligen und zu der Zeit relativ ungewöhnlichen Art und Weise, mit der er seine Zeichnungen annotiert und katalogisiert: das war ein Künstler, der weit vorausschaute auf seinen künftigen Erfolg.

Nicht zu verpassen ist das Exemplar von Sebastian Brant’s Narrenschiff aus dem Jahre 1494, worin wunderschöne Beispiele von Dürers frühen Vorstöße auf die Holzschnittkunst, was seinen späteren Erfolg zementierte, zu sehen sind. Wir haben uns auch in die umwerfend schöne Gravur “A Foolish Virgin in Half Length” (1470-1483) von Dürers Vorgänger Martin Schongauer verliebt, die fast die ganze Schau stiehlt. Die detaillierte Anatomie und Drapierung in diesem Werk geben einen Einblick in das, was Dürer anstrebte, und die Furchen und Kritzelmarkierungen im Papier verraten eine ähnlich herumziehende, energische und frenetische künstlerische Praxis. 

Der junge Dürer is bis zum 12. Januar 2014 in der Courtauld Gallery, London, zu sehen. Klicke hier für weitere Informationen

9 months ago
1 note

A life in waiting


From the Collins Complete British Wildlife Photoguide, 1997:


BROOK LAMPREY 
Lampetra planeri                              Length 12-15cm

Intriguing resident of unpolluted streams and shallow rivers. Most of three to five year lifespan spent as larva living unobtrusively buried in silt; filters organic matter. Adults seen in April to May after metamorpohosing from larvae. Adult does not feed; dies after spawning.

1 year ago
2 notes

Secret Theatre rebuilding theatre - Lyric Hammersmith

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The Lyric Hammersmith is rebuilding theatre in more ways than one. Outwardly a construction site (for the duration of a £16.5 million redevelopment), on Monday I popped myself down to the launch party of its new venture for September 2013: Secret Theatre.

‘Announced’ is the wrong word. It’s not saying what’s on, how many shows there’ll be, how long they will run, or who’s playing who. ‘There’ll be some classics, some adaptations and some new plays,’ states the press release noncommittally, adding: ‘We feel hungry for change. We hope confusion can be revealing.’

A lot about Secret Theatre screams revolution – not just the language and visuals of its bright red “manifesto”. This is theatre that’s been stripped of the marketing, big names and big-business superficiality which the Lyric’s Artistic Director Sean Holmes believes has turned theatre into a commodity.

He explains: ‘Secret Theatre is an attempt to challenge every aspect of how we make work at the Lyric, building new structures that could lead to a new type of theatre.’ The idea being that this new theatre focusses on the stage rather than the page, and is the antidote to production-making that restricts itself to the structures imagined in texts. Hence, of the 20 resident actors, the 5 male and 5 female performers will share equal prominence in all productions, and Holmes further guarantees that ‘there will always be black actors onstage; there will always be a disabled actor onstage.

What to expect, other than something hugely different to the standard theatreland offering, is anyone’s guess. Shows 1 and 2 open in September, after which you’ll have a year to get in on the secret – but it looks like there’ll be high demand for tickets, so book while you can. 

 

Secret Theatre launches on the 9th September 2013 and you can book tickets here. The photo above is of talented secret theatremaker Nadia Albina, and was taken by Joe Dilworth. Ace!

1 year ago
0 notes

Tube maps! In Lego!

A labour of love in 1,000 bricks popped up at Green Park tube this morning. From a promotional leaflet found for me by a kind ticket officer who was as impressed, bemused and up for finding some way of taking the map home as I was:

To celebrate the 150th anniversary [of the London Underground] LEGO has built five Tube maps ranging from the early pre-Harry Beck map where the lines follow their geographical position to Beck’s 1933 original and a future gazing map. Each LEGO Tube map is made up of 1,000 LEGO bricks and measures 140cm x 100cm. The maps have been made by Duncan Titmarsh, the UK’s only LEGO Certified Professional.


From 12 June for 12 weeks the maps will be displayed in ticket halls at Piccadilly Circus, South Kensington, Green Park, King’s Cross St. Pancras and Stratford Tube stations, before being moved to the London Transport Museum.


Pretty neat!

1 year ago
25 notes

Faber Social - Power, Corruption and Lies

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Last night I had a gander at the Faber Social’s monthly literary salon. The theme was Power, Corruption and Lies, and to be honest I expected it to be more about the arguing than the books. Now that I’m 19 hours older, and in full possession of all the extra wisdom that brings with it, I put this down a) to not having been to a Faber Social before and b) not knowing from Adam what to expect. But you might have forgiven me.

We were marking the 30 year anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s second term, and the literary lineup was headed by boyish Establishment-assassin and chief Chav flagflier Owen Jones. Flanking him were Thatcher-scrutiniser Damian Barr, frontline feminist Kat Banyard and the be-accoladed writers Louise Doughty and Owen Sheers. As lineups go, this seemed like a gospel choir of left-wing polemic and set to echo loudly around the narrow underground bar at The Social (Little Portland Street).

The preacher/converted dynamic did occasionally rear its head, but the speakers were compelling to a man-and/or-woman. Owen Jones was particularly convincing on the way the law is rigged to benefit the wealthy – a well-worn card of his but one he played with practised articulacy.

But it was the literature, of course, that took centre stage - and brought a personality to the night that exploded the party political readings of Power, Corruption and Lies. Damian Barr’s autobiography Maggie and Me shifted focus from the coiffured behemoth herself onto the young man whose life her political power shaped, and the warmth of his memories. But the showstopper was Owen Sheers’s newly-published ‘Pink Mist’ – a poetry anthology that uses the same poignant observation to tell the stories of three soldiers who set off for Afghanistan together but return apart. It’s a captivating insight into how “the old lie” of dying for one’s country has been propagated and refracted through the last century – and spellbindingly performed to boot. Well worth it. 

Faber Social’s next event is on 4th July 2013, and it’s got Beck in it!
http://fabersocial.co.uk/2013/05/beck-performs-song-reader-live-at-the-barbican-with-jarvis-cocker-beth-orton-and-more
 

1 year ago
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Lines Dedicated to the Dead Frog I Just Found in my Pond

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Dead frog, I saw you in the pond just now,
Lying on a pondweed lilo a few inches down
As if on holiday from another garden
And this were the Costa del Frog.

O frog, in death you were flanked by a hundred tadpoles,
A hubbub of your offspring:
Huddled around you in mourning.
Or perhaps eating you - 
It was hard to tell from their expressions.

Inscrutible tadpoles!
I beseeched them relinquish your weirdly turgid carcass,
Before you poisoned the water,
Which would have been a hassle.
I think I might have cut a worm in half while burying you,
With my goodly trowel,
So if you see one behind you in the queue to heaven
Please apologise to it for me.

1 year ago
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Ingeborg Bachmann: You words

Ingeborg Bachmann was one of the most important writers to emerge in the German-speaking world after the Second World War. She died in a house fire 40 years ago last month, age 47.

Here’s a translation I’ve done of a poem of hers. It’s called Ihr Worte (You Words), and it’s about what the heck the point of words is. You can see the original here if you like.

You words
For Nelly Sachs, poet and friend, in reverence.

Rise, you words, and follow me,
And when we’ve gone further,
too far, there’ll be
further to go, with no end in sight.

Shedding no light.

All a word
will do
is drag others in after it,
sentence for sentence.
So the world
might force itself on us,
in the end,
having already been spoken.
Do not speak it.

Words, follow me,
and make not final
- not this word lust,
diction and contradiction!

Let for a moment
no feeling speak,
let the heart muscle
occupy itself otherwise.

Let off, I say, let off.

Not into the highest ear,
nothing, I say, be whispered,
may you think no thoughts of death,
let go, and follow me, not mildly
nor bitterly,
not comforting,
but without comfort
Not signifying,
and yet not without a sign -

And spare me this: a picture
in the gossamer dust, empty junk
of syllables and dying words.

No dying word,
you words!

8 months ago
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Late, but not too late - Germany’s Nazi criminal appeal posters

Thought I’d translate what it says on the 2,000 anti-Nazi appeal posters that have gone up Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg today - a Simon Wiesenthal Center initiative under the slogan ‘Operation Last Chance’:


"Operation Last Chance

Late, but not too late.

Millions of innocent people were murdered by Nazi war criminals.

Some perpetrators are still free and still alive.

Help us to bring them to trial. There is a reward of up to €25,000 for information significant to our enquiries.” 

 

The posters were triggered by the conviction of 90-year-old Ukranian Treblinka guard, and later Ohio mechanic, Iwan Demjanjuk in 2011 - so the Austrian Tiroler Tageszeitung. He had been charged with 27,900 counts of being an accessory to murder.

1 year ago
0 notes

Guess what, I made Parks and Rec Russian dolls!

Making Russian dolls with the faces of friends or celebrities on is something I do from time to time, and constitutes part of my stupid idea of fun. These took 3 evenings, using acrylic paints on blank dolls. I hope that you like them!

1 year ago
39 notes

How to Cricket, by J M Barrie

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For the past few weeks I’ve been making a mini documentary about Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie (for the magnificent Eagle Radio). More specifically the piece is about the amusingly inept, semi-competitive cricket team he cobbled together from prestigious literary pals including Arthur Conan Doyle, PG Wodehouse, A A Milne and Jerome K Jerome. For real. 

This was a team who in the words of one of my interviewees did ‘about as bad as you can do in cricket’. But my God they had a good time. With a self-awareness that compensated for aptitude, they called themselves the Allahakbarries (believing ‘Allah akbar’ to mean ‘God help us’), and here are some of my favourite snippets from one of Barrie’s 1893 match reports.

Listen to my documentary here on Thursday 21st June! Images from David Rayvern Allen’s Peter Pan and Cricket (Constable: 1988).


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1 year ago
4 notes

The Many Faces of Baconface

It’s All Bacon - Soho Theatre, 10/06/2013


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Maybe you haven’t heard of the stand-up comedian Baconface before. Baconface is a hut-dwelling recluse who for 32 years has performed the on Canadian circuit wearing a Mexican wrestling mask on which he glues fresh rashers of meat every other day. To those in the know, he holds a legendary pedigree: “Canadian stand-up comedy’s past, and perhaps its future,” boasts the Soho Theatre’s website boasts of the meaty maskwearer Stewart Lee recently cited as a primary sources of inspiration for his earliest routines.


Baconface is, however, Stewart Lee – a fact which becomes immediately, thrillingly apparent as soon as the character steps onstage. It seems heavy handed to unmask Baconface in such blunt terms, and it is. But it’s difficult to talk about the show, or the character, without doing so. Baconface is all Lee: a sausagemeat of long pauses, looks askance, and mic-stands grasped at arm’s length – all wrapped in bacon-rind and a lumberjack shirt.


Of the many reasons there’s little to gain in picking a sticky pink mask from the face of a squanderer of cured meat – one of the most compelling in this instance is that Lee doesn’t seem interested in using his mask as a disguise.


Chinks in the porcine armour aside (dodgy pronunciations of “Canad-err” and e.g. “opening the daw” dent the characterisation a bit), Baconface is in true Stewart Lee style the product of careful build up. Interviews with him appeared in TimeOut and Chortle as early as April, and equipped the character with such a degree of plausibility as could successfully draw a credulous audience of ~150 to the Soho Theatre’s downstairs space at 9:45pm on a Monday night. Baconface confesses of himself in TimeOut:


I don’t wear a mask to be in a character, I wear it to hide a disfiguring injury I sustained as a younger man. The irony is, my actual face looks very similar to bacon anyway. So I’m not hiding anything. In fact, I’m using a mask, if anything, to amplify the essential notion of what I am.’

 

 

Correspondingly, what comes across in his act is the material of a younger, less self-conscious Stewart Lee - to the point of lifting jokes such as the piece of string gag straight out of his 1990s sets. The showopens with a long, Lee & Herring-esque send-up of seventh-day adventists, and ends with a long segment of fanciful linguistic examination of bears, shitting, and the woods. It’s refreshing, in a nostalgic sort of way.

Describing his relationship with Stewart Lee in Chortle, he says:


‘Here is a guy who to all intents and purposes is in danger of disappearing entirely up his own ass. What he got from me 25 years ago, there’s a straightforwardness about it, there’s an unpretentiousness about what I do. It cuts straight to the heart and he’s hoping that I’ll be able to bring some of that to some of the essentially self-indulgent material he now peddles to uncritical audiences. I think bringing me over, its not just an awareness of the debt he owes me when you look at his early stuff. Its also an awareness that he’s in deep trouble and looking for a way out. I’m a lifeline.’


It’s difficult not to think of the
Pueblo Clowns study to which Lee often returns in his writing – the madly made-up Mexican village jesters who use masks as a license to step outside the bounds of convention. For Stewart Lee, Baconface is a means of stepping outside the cult of appreciation that has built up around him in the last five, six years – of reclaiming the productive outsider perspective that recently shot him to the zenith of his popularity but which his unwitting rise into the mainstream has necessarily compromised. He lets Stewart Lee be Stewart Lee, in a way that ‘Stewart Lee’ doesn’t quite do. 

 

Baconface is at the Soho Theatre until Friday 14th June. Come on down and taste the bacon!  http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/baconface-its-all-bacon/

1 year ago
6 notes

Cigarette butts, orange peel and weird brown marks

Dieter Roth at the Camden Arts Centre 

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Great news if you’ve ever wondered what a 40-year-old orange peel looks like! “Je hässlicher’s aussieht, desto besser sieht es aus” scribbles Dieter Roth on the inside cover of one of the hundreds of boxfiles that fill the entrance of the Camden Arts Centre’s new exhibition of his work: “The uglier it is, the better it looks.” Which is to say if it’s gross, it’s in there. Cigarette butts, napkins, fruit rinds that have spent the last decades crisping up a treat, and other detritus from Roth’s residencies in Switzerland, Denmark and Iceland, sit in ringbound transparent wallets forming a blurry collage of weird brown marks. It’s a kind of anti-exhibition, in that Roth wants his work to include everything, ever, in no particular order.


The video piece
Solo Scenes (‘97-‘98) is probably the most visually arresting of the exhibition, and works on the same principle. It’s a showing of 128 simultaneous, looping videos of Roth in the final year of his life, going about the tedious things that give ballast to existence: making coffee, working, showering, wiping his arse. Don’t let that put you off. What it really is is a fascinating, shits-and-all attempt to capture the fullness of a life, with all its banalities, unglamorousness and unsophistication – fittingly displayed on 128 elderly-looking, flickering CRT televisions.


At the centre of the exhibition are Roth’s diaries: a technicolour Moleskine-esque anthology of doodles, densely packed diary entries, inkspills and scrawled observations. These offer a more intimate, private testimony to Roth’s refusal to literally draw a line between the messy, the incidental, the un-aesthetically pleasing, and the deliberate. “Mal sehen, was hier wurst bliebt” Roth has scrawled at the top of one of the pages – “Let’s see what stays rubbish.”

Dieter Roth is at the Camden Arts Centre until July 2013. Click here to whet your appetite: http://www.camdenartscentre.org/whats-on/view/ex-28#13

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© Dieter Roth Estate. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth Photograph: Michael Pfisterer, Hamburg

1 year ago
1 note