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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Capsize the Stars. Acoustic Festival, 19 May. Peckham

Last Monday, I was intrigued by a warm and nicely designed postcard in Hackney. On one side, it indicated a weekly acoustic/folk music evening called Woodburner; on the other side, an acoustic festival on the 19 May in a chapel in Peckham. It projected me back to the time when each nerd of a specific music tribe would gather in the village wood around a fire in our distinctive attires. Only the hippy guy would think of bringing a guitar… and sing. Surprisingly the most heavy metal geezer would sing along and we would follow clapping our hands or rolling spliffs. At the time, there were no mobile to capture the moment… The following exchange of emails with some guy called Theo Bard is rather welcoming and he invites me to the next day session. Theo is chatty, enthusiastic and explains that he started Woodburner (see its website for more specific details) in 2010 because “I am a musician myself (obviously) and massively enthusiastic about folk and acoustic music. Woodburner started because demand was already there and our group of friends wanted it to happen; I didn't plan to build it into the thriving scene it has become”. Coming from the 90’s when raves and clubbing were all the rage, I was wondering if there was a return to a more couples dancing as opposed to dancing alone in a crowd “To be honest I'm more interested in people coming together to share in live music in intimate settings. I find that this fosters a more positive interaction between the people present. I often find loud electronic music alienating, unless I've taken drugs!” Theo informs me there are many woodburners gathering in London and “I mainly book acts that I know. I have been playing music my whole life, and gigging for the last 6 years so I come into contact with a very large number of other artists. We get a lot of gig requests via email and facebook, and I listen to them, and sometimes book them. But the best discoveries are almost always made in person, or by recommendation by musicians I trust.” And where does that passion for this genre of music comes from? “I used to sing folk songs with my family, and I attended summer camps where folk song was a really central part of what we did. I have always loved singing with other people, it is an amazing way to interact.” Are you going to stay @ the Russet for your weekly events? “We are moving to Dalston Eastern Curve Gardens on 28th May.” And what’s good about your festival in Peckham on 19 May? “It's got amazing light because of the stained glass windows, an amazing acoustic due to the stone walls, and it looks spectacular. It's also nice and quiet, which is important for acoustic music. Its capacity is 200 inside, but given the duration of the event and that people will come and go, there will be room for more, particularly if the sun shines. It's in Asylum, which is a really beautiful venue (pix on our BLO’s FB), and the venue has extensive gardens out front and back. Hopefully it will be a sunny day, and people can sit out on the grass, eating, drinking and playing backgammon!” Theo has organised his festivals in different venues like St Marks Church Hall (Dalston), St Mary’s Chapel (Stoke Newington), Priceless London Wonderground Festival at the South Bank Centre, and Vault Festival at The Old Vic Tunnels. I asked him to explain about the changes of location “It's much more fun and interesting finding the Woodburner crew in different venues across London. I really like the idea that each event is special and unique, and put together with a really strong concept. Different spaces give you different ideas! The concept behind Capsize the Stars is to connect our community (which is mostly based in Hackney) to Peckham, via the East London Line. Because we've never done an event in Peckham before, we have programmed acts which are closest to our community socially, rather than booking bands with a big following. We are lucky to be close friends with so many incredible musicians! Almost the whole line-up is comprised of acts I have known and been friends with for over 5 years, including the food, poetry, and storytelling! The idea is that locals in Peckham will find out about Woodburner, and the door might be open to putting on more events in the area in future. But first and foremost, we just want to create a really magical experience for all the people who come!”.
Woodburner and the Old Accord are proud to invite you to this most beautiful South London venue for a whole day of acoustic music, storytelling, poetry, food, drink and backgammon!
Music from:
THE MELODIC (Formerly Melodica, Melody and Me) Recently signed to US label ANTI records, The Melodic have toured with the likes of Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling.
KIDNAP ALICE Red hot bluegrass band from Woodburner's hotbed of Hackney. They also run their own nights under the Two For Joy banner.
MAX BAILLIE PLAYS BACH Max Baillie is one of the most diverse and interesting musicians working in the UK. From playing top-level international classical music, to making his own beats, collaborating with electronic artists, sessioning with the likes of Plan B, and fusing his music with traditional West African music, he is a favourite with the Woodburner family.
THEO BARD "Catchy folk-pop choruses and carefree vagabond spirit recall the Levellers at their best… Both lyrically and musically there is timelessness to the highlights on this album that place it in the company of the very best folk music…" Songlines Magazine
GWENDOLEN CHATFIELD AND THE OLD ACCORD Gwendolen Chatfield's songs provide a new take on folk music, but demonstrate her love and mastery of the trad folk genre.  
ELLIE ROSE Ellie has an incredibly distinctive voice, which manages to be heart-achingly beautiful, poignantly vulnerable yet full of resolve. Her deeply personal songwriting reveals a humility and honesty which only captivate her audiences further. She is releasing her debut EP 'Pathts' on 12th May and will continue celebrations with us on the 19th!
REGGAE ELEMENTS CHOIR  A late addition to the bill, the Reggae Elements Choir will show that music and singing can for all, sharing their enjoyment of Reggae music.
Plus   Storytelling from JAMES MORGAN: a Woodburner favourite for his humourous stories and engaging telling style. He also runs a beautiful intimate storytelling event called Tales from the Tower.
Poetry from ANGRY SAM BERKSON: Sam Berkson is a strongly evocative poet and a large part of the London spoken word scene. Ranging from darkly humorous to deeply political, he leaves a strong mark on the memory.
Backgammon Corner with ALICE RUSSELL
1pm - 9pm, £5 or £7

Friday, 26 April 2013

Pieter Nooten. Haven. Rocket Girl. Album out 29 April 13

Pieter Nooten
Rocket Girl - CAT NO: rgirl92
RELEASE DATE: 29 April 2013
FORMAT: 2CD album/download

Following my quest of underground music after my return to Europe early 80’s, I came across a pirate radio broadcasting to some villages around. Post war punk music was dead and the cold wave was born. The radio crackled sounds from X Mal Deutschland, Fra Lippo Lippi, Modern English, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Clan of Xymox and other wonders that only nerd villagers worshipped. Once every six months, I would go to the capital and buy anything from 4AD. On radio, you don’t get to see the vinyl’s sleeves (and internet was light-year away): the label produced one of the most innovative and minimalist artwork available on earth and the man behind it was Vaughan Oliver.
Behind the Dutch members of Xymox was also Pieter Nooten who recorded as well with Michael Brook on the Sleeps With The Fishes album. In spite of Xymox becoming mainstream, Nooten left the band in 1990 and went as a solo composer in order to explore new musical directions. He was intrigued by the emerging dance and ambient music culture and produced countless 12inches.
Mid 90’s, he created Vaselyn with Anka Wolbert (also ex Xymox by then) and signed to EMI NYC.
Tired of major record industry, Pieter Nooten wrote music occasionally for theatre, TV and film projects, art and other media.
In 2010, Nooten found a new cosmic peace as he signed to the very interesting independent label Rocket Girl in London.
His musical explorations have taken him to new levels with the Mac Pro, and being one of his tools of choice for Haven, his latest opus is being released in a few days time.
From beginning to end, this two hour long album might take you on a deep sea space (or maybe it is far beyond the stratosphere?) as its consistency drifts you into ethereal “unconsciousness”.
Pieter’s instrumental strength leads you without being authoritative although a penetrating sadness might gently “bruise” your brain. Perhap’s a remain from his musical past, a return to the roots looking ahead of him: a futuristic melancholy in search for aesthetic renaissance.

CD1; 1 Here Is Light I, 2 Slowed I, 3 Transit, 4 The Waiting I, 5 Paik Theme I, 6 Der Abschied,
7 Unbroken I, 8 Overflight, 9 The Waiting II, 10 The Long Goodbye I

CD2; 1 Slowed II, 2 Paik Theme II, 3 Unbroken II, 4 The Long Goodbye II, 5 Here Is Light II, 6 Slowed III, 7 Unbroken III, 8 Different Planet, 9 Paik Theme III, 10 El Encuentro

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A BFI release: Roberto Rossellini’s JOURNEY TO ITALY (Viaggio in Italia)

Courtesy of BFI
On the 10 May 2013, the BFI releases Roberto Rossellini’s JOURNEY TO ITALY (Viaggio in Italia) (originally released in 1954): a return to the BFI Southbank, Edinburgh Filmhouse plus selected venues nationwide in a new restoration by the Cineteca di Bologna. It is the centre-piece film of The Roots to Neorealism season at the BFI Southbank which runs from 9 -31 May.
Journey To Italy is the film by excellence that shaped the French Nouvelle Vague since they regarded it as the future of cinema. Mostly because Truffaut worked with Rossellini (having being introduced by André Bazin) ‘intermittently’ as his assistant between 1955-1956. Although the Italian director didn’t make any films in these years, Truffaut gained pre-production’s experience in the preparation of scenarios rather than the process of practical production. Rossellini was the man who invented a new film-making practice for Europe in the postwar years as well as giving importance to the location shooting: an introduction to landscape and people acting around dramatic surroundings or restricted spaces. The couple in their Naples’s terrace “overshadowed” by mountains for Journey to Italy versus the couple in their south of France’s terrace surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea in Godard’s Le mépris. Or, the couple driving through Italy being filmed inside the car from inside or outside versus Godard’s Breathless.
In 1955, Jacques Rivette wrote about the film in Les Cahiers du Cinéma:” With the appearance of Journey to Italy, all films have suddenly aged ten years; … Here is our cinema, those of us who in our turn are preparing to make films (did I tell you, it may be soon); as a start I have already suggested something that intrigues you: is there to be a Rossellini school? And what will its dogmas be? … first, to come to an understanding about the meaning of the word realism, which is not some rather simple scriptwriting technique, nor yet a style of mise-en-scène, but a state of mind: that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points; (judge your De Sicas, Lattuadas and Viscontis by this yardstick). Second point: a fig for the sceptics, the rational, the judicious; irony and sarcasm have had their day; now it is time to love the cinema so much that one has little taste left for what presently passes by that name, and wants to impose a more exacting image of it….” That same year, Eric Rohmer also wrote “so new that it defies all definition” about the film in les Cahiers du Cinéma.
Despite the Cahiers du Cinéma support, Journey to Italy was largely dismissed by the critics in general and ignored by the public at the time of its release.
Synopsis from Monthly Film Bulletin, n565 1981:
Alex (George Sanders) and Katherine (Ingrid Bergman)
 Joyce are travelling to Naples to arrange the sale of a property recently inherited from an uncle. Alex wants simply to conclude a straightforward transaction, while Katherine would like to use the holiday to assess their relationship and their “suitably restrained” eight years of marriage. After a chance encounter with a group of old acquaintances, during which Alex flirts briefly with Judy, the couple are taken to their villa where they meet the agents, Tony and Natalia Burton. Over the next three days, finding Italy to be a country of sloth, noise and boredom, Alex takes trips to Capri, where he can live in style like the emperor Tiberius, and where he meets Marie who, he subsequently discovers, is happily married. But Katherine, affected by the country’s antiquity and mystery and reminded of the poet, Charlie Lewington, with whom she was in love before her marriage, visits the Archaeological museum of Capodimonte in Naples and the cave of the Cumaean Sybil with the Temple of Apollo and the Campi Flegrei on the side of Vesuvius. The two only meet at night, first in the apartment of the Duca di Lipoli where Katherine is besieged by admirers, then on the last night when her jealousy is aroused by Alex’s late homecoming. On the fourth day, Katherine is taken by Natalia to the Catacombs of the Fontanelle church, leaving Alex to meet the potential property buyers. Their increasing estrangement leads to a petty argument on her return and their sudden decision to divorce. They are persuaded by Tony to witness the unearthing of a cluster of skeletons at Pompeii, but the sight of a couple overcome by the lava in an ‘eternal’ embrace proves too much for Katherine, who has to be taken away. Travelling back to the villa, Katherine and Alex continue to taunt each other and discuss the details of their separation, until their way is barred by a procession allegedly celebrating a miracle (that of a lame man, now able to walk). Shocked momentarily to find themselves physically separated, they reaffirm their need for each other, and their desire to start all over again.
Now widely regarded as Rossellini's greatest achievement, the film was the culminating masterpiece of Italian neo-realism: an extraordinary, groundbreaking film, Journey to Italy is now especially celebrated for the remarkable, painfully real performances of Bergman and Sanders and for its unforgettable final sequence. This long awaited restoration offers UK audiences a chance to rediscover a profoundly moving masterpiece.

For those living abroad, there is a possibility to buy the BFI DVD here
Roots to Neorealism season @ BFI
Sight & Sound Panel Discussion = the Roots of Neorealism
Neorealism film on BFI DVDs 
Film critics and film directors voting for the film, here

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Rock N Roll News

single cover for Fuxa's Photon
Designed by almighty Anthony Ausgang

Photon (track originally recorded in 1996)
Rocket Girl
The modern photon concept was developed gradually by Albert Einstein to explain experimental observations that did not fit the classical wave model of light. In particular, the photon model accounted for the frequency dependence of light's energy, and explained the ability of matter and radiation to be in thermal equilibrium.
Füxa returns with a remastered track Photon: the very limited edition single (250 copies) features a newly mastered standalone version of the beautiful and timeless track.
The fuchsia coloured vinyl is released today on Record Store Day 20th April 2013 and the artwork and etching on the B side are provided by the talented Anthony Ausgang. Repeat after me: Anthony Ausgang (Ausgang now shows regularly in Amsterdam, Holland and Bologna, Italy. Commercial clients include the Boredoms (Warner) in Japan and Apollo 440 (Sony) in England. Collectors include Nicholas Cage, David Arquette and Perry Farrell)
You can listen to the track =, check Anthony Ausgang’s work =
Played on BBC by Lauren Lavern & Tom Ravenscroft sits in for Gideon Coe, and Gideon Coe again

Again for music lovers, you have a week to wander in Covent Garden to pop in the pop up gallery set up by Jill Furmanovsky. Rockarchive is open until the 27th April and rock fans will be able to view and purchase some of the most celebrated rock photos of all time. The shop will feature original and limited edition prints of musical legends including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd plus a host of contemporary artists such as Florence & the Machine and many unseen images that are exclusive to Rockarchive. Adorning the walls of 46 Monmouth Street, in Covent Garden’s shopping village Seven Dials, are works by photographic greats Storm Thorgerson (RIP), Don Hunstein, Mick Rock and Jill herself. From the all-time classic album cover of Dylan’s ‘Freewheelin’’ to never-before-seen Oasis recording sessions. Jill Furmanovsky is delighted with the opening: “I feel like I've come home. Gallery manager, Jane Ripley, and I were both members of the Beatles Fan Club, which was based at 11 Monmouth Street in the 60's. Now all these years later we are back celebrating over 50 years of rock photography and offering fans the opportunity to own and enjoy classic moments“. For those unable to make it to the new pop-up store there is opportunity to view the extensive gallery of rock and roll prints at Rockarchive's online site
About Rockarchive = it was established by award winning photographer Jill Furmanovsky in 1998 with a view to make her own work, and that of other rock photographers and visual artists, more accessible to fans and collectors. It now has a worldwide network of outlets and galleries which stock the most iconic rock photographs taken over the last 50 years. Rockarchive’s Islington gallery is currently being refurbished but due to re-open in Summer 2013.
Address = 46 Monmouth Street, London WC2H 9EP. Open every day 11am – 7pm until Saturday 27th April 2013.   tel: 020 7267 4716. Free entrance.

Another Rock’n Roll news = an extremely rare and complete sub-fossilised elephant bird egg will be auctioned @ Christie’s auction house in London on 24 April. The egg was laid by three-meter-tall giant bird  in Madagascar and is thought to have been discovered by archaeologists in the late 19th or early 20th century. The species became extinct sometime between the 13th and 17th centuries. James Hyslop, scientific specialist at Christie's said, "the egg is the largest egg ever laid by any animal, they are bigger than dinosaur eggs." The egg is likely to fetch between $25000 and $35000:

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

David Bowie Is... @ V&A

Self portrait. Drawing by David Bowie
being adapted for the Heroes album

French version, here

Coming back to Europe in 1983 after spending years in the Horn of Africa was a bit of a shock. There, the main worry was to dive into the Red Sea, eat fish and honey served on a local Afro-Indian Newspaper in some dodgy areas while listening to Imagination, Tainted Love or Kim Wilde.
Landing in a supermarket with never ending aisles selling what seemed to be thousand of pasta shapes and brands required a siesta straight afterwards. Then it was TV or radio that was exhausting: David Bowie or Kajagoogoo. The search for something more RedSea-esque was essential and soon Bowie was a joke compared with The Cure’s Robert Smith or the late Joy Division. Visually, with some great effort, one could compare the Afro-antennas with back combed hair styles. Then Boy George and Demis Roussos were strong rivals to Bowie or Bob Smith.
Years after years, David Bowie was not an option until he disappeared from the screens and radio waves. That is when the interest started. Not because he actually “retired” from people’s life but because each time, digging CDs in a record shop, libraries or at people’s places, I would pick a Bowie, listened to it and to my surprise, liked it. After all the commercial presence, this man was not so banal!
Funnily enough, I asked my David Bowie Is press pass for the 9th of April (what could I say to the connoisseurs of Mister Bowie at the V&A opening? “Hi, don’t ask me, I’m only a tourist here”) and be amongst other mortals. Funnily enough, it was the day the Iron Lady was officially dismissed.
So the exhibition is curated by Geoffrey Marsh and Victoria Broackes (she also curated the nice but small House of Annie Lennox) in partnership with Gucci and Sennheiser. Now, we don’t really have to mention the partners. However, anybody with a hearing deficiency will appreciate the effort invested in the sound, whether voice or music. All waves or wind like interferences have been reworked (hours for a few minutes of interview at times) as to give a near perfect sound. You wander around with a guidePORT audio guide system and immersive 3D sound simulations. The experience is simply agreeable.
All art is unstable. Its meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author. There is no authoritative voice. There are only multiple readings” David Bowie. This is the entrance room with the Kansai Yamamoto striped bodysuit for the Aladdin Sane tour below the reading.  
To my horror, I didn’t plan that my day with the common of mortals included being surrounded by kids (half term). However… I found them either wide eyes open or dancing politely. I imagined them in 10 or 15 years time being musicians or artists and telling journalists that their biggest influence is David Bowie.
On the Creative Influence board, one can read “All artists take ideas from the world around them; few spread the net so wide or create something so new with what they find. Bowie visits art galleries around Europe, reads a lot of books, watches films, goes to the theatre, engages with the Avant Garde and talks to people, really loves music, not just his own… Bowie’s energy is seeking out new ideas and his skills in filtering them, and to find exactly what he needs is a major contributor to his success. Always moving on.
The exhibition has no specific chronology and “tourists” can stop or move on from one spot to another, get lost and go back wherever. Apart from symbolic objects like lyrics, music sheet, costumes, shoes, stage maquettes, photos and 300 other materials, I found really interesting to hear and watch extracts of films and interviews. It doesn’t last long but gives so much information that one can search deeper outside the exhibition. Bowie’s creative process should not only be an inspiration to young creators but it also gives a deep insight of how he uses technology, (viral) marketing and creators. After struggling for years in the 60’s, David Bowie was inspired in 68 by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 69, he released the single Space Oddity to coincide with the first moon landing which granted him critical and commercial success. Was the Next Day release a total coincidence in March 2013 just weeks before the opening of the exhibition?
Bowie is no naïve and no artists want to retire, not even Cat Stevens: “Bowie is taking advantage of what the moment offers. He controls his music, album covers, costumes, merchandising on sale on his tours… to realise his vision, he works with choreographers, artists, photographers, fashion designers, etc. famous or unknown.” Apart from Bjork and perhaps Madonna, few major artists like Bowie have given opportunities to emerging artists and have created trends as opposed to be trend followers like U2. (It was not rare to see Bjork @ the Blue Note for the Anokha sessions when Howie B was already Pussyfoot’s boss and an established music producer when he toured with U2).
So Bowie is a musician, an actor, a decent calculator, an archivist, an alien and… a painter. The Berlin room is a glimpse of his time in Berlin with Iggy Pop and Brian Eno, a break from his addiction time in the States. Seeing the paintings, I actually thought there were Egon Schiele paintings that David Bowie had acquired. He composed three albums there and when Chris Petit asked him if he could use Heroes for his film Radio On (produced by Wenders), Bowie accepted generously (and so did Kraftwerk for Radioactivity).
The David Bowie Is trek is almost finished: sitting in the “concert” room watching shamefully what I have missed all those years…
The passage obligé into the V&A shop seems a bit much at first, but then again you don’t go to a foreign land without bringing back home some exotic souvenirs!
David Bowie Is is @ the V&A until 11 August, more info here
The exhibition will then tour:
AGO - Art Gallery of Ontario 25 September - 27 November 2013
Sao Paulo Museum of Image and Sound 28 January - 21 April 2014
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago September 2014 - January 2015
Philharmonie de Paris 2 March - 31 May 2015
Groninger Museum 15 December 2015 - 15 March 2016

Selected Related Events (more on the website):
-          Bowie Weekender = 26-28 April
-          British Sign Language TALK and touch tour (free) = 14 & 31 May
-          Michael Clark: Inspired by Bowie = 9 June
-          Family events = 25 May – 2 June

BBC 2 will broadcast a feature length profile of David Bowie at the end of May (no dates specified yet) + a wealth of other David Bowie related content across BBC radio and TV this spring.

David Bowie has humour, click here
Tilda Swinton opens the David Bowie Is, click here
Documentary on Bowie, click here

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

RIP - Rot in Piss

Her guest list = chef Marco Pierre White, London Mayor Boris Johnson, Maurice Saatchi, Michael Crawford, Katherine Jenkins, John Major, Tony Blair + 1, Gordon Brown + 1, Lord Archer + 1, the German Queen of UK + 1, Jeremy Clarkson the engine, Antiques Roadshow “give me your gold” presenter Hugh Scully, Shirley Bassey minus the Propellerhead, Tim Rice, Joan Collins, the Pinochet KKK + some foreign “dignitaries” attending are the Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubark Al-Sabah, the son of the ruler of Kuwait, Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al Sabah, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and some thousand more.

Even worst news: a policeman had to resign as he tweeted about his joy on her death; Spain is planning to name a street in Madrid: La calle chica de hierro. France is planning to do the same in Paris. London wants a statue… but they have to wait a good 10 years and it looks like some people will go against! Surprise, surprise. But as Rachel Whiteread said before la chica’s death “... What I am not into is what I call ‘plop’ art. Making things and just putting them in places for the sake of it. I don’t like much sculpture in the street. It really needs a reason for being there…

Early 80’s she had a dream and she funded the Entreprise Allowance Scheme: an unemployment scheme allowing people to create their own bizz with their own money first, which didn’t work but helped some like Alan McGee (Creation Records), Grayson Perry, Rachel Whiteread or Tracy Emin to rent studios (now Olympic Stadium) . She also gave birth to social filmmakers and writers like Ken Loach and Mike Leigh for the international famous ones, but also a series of controversial dramas painting a shocking picture of Iron’s Britain (Tales Out Of School) and how individuals within society cope with social breakdown: David Leland with Alan Clarke, Mike Newell or Edward Bennett. And surely, the lady could pride herself for the Cool Britannia, YBA or Brit Pop waves which generated some wicked songs.
For Elvis Costello, click here
For Morrissey, click here
For Billy Bragg, click here
For Hefner, click here
For Pete Wylie, click here
For Brixton rejoice, click here or click here
In Tom Hunter we trust, so we read this funny piece as he told us to, click here.
We should be thankful to the lady for being such a great art producer, but with or without her, GB has always produced great thinkers, songwriters, artists, writers or visualmakers and they will always be remembered worldwide without the need of a statue.

Friday, 12 April 2013

A BFI release: Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Theorem

Theorem, a film by Pier Paolo pasolini
Courtesy of BFI

Today the BFI releases Pasolini’s Theorem (originally released in 1968) to coincide with a retrospective of the director’s films at BFI Southbank (until 30 April) and in anticipation of a season devoted to Terence Stamp (1 – 27 May, BFI Southbank).  Terence Stamp will be in conversation with Geoff Andrew on Wednesday 8 May (tbc).Theorem will also play at venues nationwide.

“Who is that boy?” None knows. The handsome boy, Terence Stamp, enters unexpectedly the life of a bourgeois household in Milan for a few days. The boy (or imaginary friend) accepts gently to have sex with the maid Emilia (who doesn’t speak), then the son Pietro with whom he shares a room. The following day, the wife Lucia observes the divine guest playing with the dog, strips in the chalet and lies in wait. The young man also gratifies the desires of the daughter Odetta as well as the father Paolo who eventually succumbs to the young man charms. A very minimalist dialogue takes place as we don’t actually see any sex scenes. While very little interchange happens within the superficial life of the family’s cocoon, a telegram arrives at lunch time summoning the “guest” away. Like a messenger, he has profoundly “awakened” each member of the family of what seems to be their deepest fear and who separately “protest” his departure in a long monologue while he listens gently.
When he leaves, those short moments of emotional liberations the household has enjoyed, will have each member to cope with a mourning state of mind: they will seek an answer in their “escape”. Emilia returns to her family village where the opium of people takes over and she becomes a “Saint”. Odetta has to be taken away on a stretcher as she becomes “insane”. Pietro takes refuge in an art studio, re-invents abstract painting where he even pisses on one of his œuvre. Lucia drives restlessly, seduces young men and leaves her prey like a praying mantis after the unseen sexual act. Paolo gives his factory to his workers, strips naked in a railway station, which vanishes in a desert grey landscape where he walks, runs and screams.
After winning a prize for Best Actress (Laura Betti as the maid) in Venice in 1968, the film was then banned on an obscenity charge. Pasolini later won an acquittal on grounds of the film high artistic value.
Despite its non script (Stamp realized much later that Pasolini wrote the film after it was shot, so no-one knew at the time of its making what was in his mind), Theorem left an impact we can guess on Louis Malle’s Black Moon, Francois Ozon’s Sitcom, Fassbinder’s Chinese Roulette, Joanna Hogg’s Archipelago, or even Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ painting, etc.
The theory-interpretation on Theorem still fascinates today and as Marc Gervais wrote in Sight and Sound in 1968-69 “… Teorema contains its passion, its torment and anguish, behind a façade of fashionable calm and elegance: a cool, gem-like creation, clear, mathematical, precise. The pace is slow and controlled, the camera in repose as it captures elegantly framed images of crystalline beauty. Once again, to be sure, we are pulled in by the film’s intense beauty and passion. But true to his aesthetic, Pasolini achieves a certain distantiation by making his presence overwhelmingly felt as he moves his characters in preordained fashion, figures in some strange liturgy, working out his intellectualised pattern in a structure whose outline is deliberately open, visible. The cinema qua geometric theorem, indeed. But a cinema of hot ice, where every glance reveals a devouring human need...”. And Gervais to conclude “Ambivalence, perhaps; but the final word is mystery”.

In 1997, BFI released the DVD Theorem (Teorema), A film by Pier Paolo Pasolini with Terence Stamp, Massimo Girotti, Silvana Mangano, Laura Betti: Released for the first time in the UK, the BFI presents Pasolini’s Theorem complete and uncut in a new high-definition digital transfer with restored picture and sound. It is accompanied by a new interview with Terence Stamp, and a feature commentary by Italian film expert Robert Gordon.


For Pasolini’s screening @ BFI, click here
Geoff Andrew on Theorem, click here
A BFI introduction on Pasolini, clik here

More pix on

Monday, 8 April 2013

Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Harlequin and Companion, 1901
Oil on canvas, 73 x 60 cm
© The State Pushkin Museum, Moscow

When Jeff Buckley released Grace in 94, he played @ Bunjies (a 400 years old wine cellar music venue that welcomed Bowie, Dylan Cat Stevens, Jarvis Cocker from the 60’s to its closure). An angel faced man singing beautiful sad songs. The brilliant photographer Jill Furmanovsky was there to capture the Moment. Buckley, not a star yet, went also to Rough Trade’s basement in Neal’s Yard, performed and signed his name on the ceiling. On one afternoon, while he was recording his second album on the other side of the pond from us, we packed the Garage for Morphine’s Like Swimming sublissimo gig. The next morning, on the 30 May 97, I called Chris @ Ché Records for Kirk Lake. “Buckley died yesterday… he went for a swim in the river near his recoding studio…” La fractura! The world lost a brother, a son, a friend and we had to deal with it.
In February 1901, Carles Casagemas shot himself in front of his lover Germaine Gargallo in Paris Montmartre @ the Café de l’Hippodrome. Casagemas was Pablo Picasso best friend. Picasso was not yet Picasso and he would turn 20 later that year.
In Autumn-Winter 1900, Pablo was in Paris living the bohemian life with Carles when Cézanne’s Art Dealer Ambroise Vollard noticed Pablo “le Petit Goya” and offered him an exhibition from 24June –14 July 1901. Pablo returned to Madrid in January and came back to Paris early May to live in 130 ter, boulevard de Clichy, Paris XVIIIème where Casagemas had his studio. He worked frenetically as far as three paintings a day in a mourning period and produced 64 paintings between May and the exhibition. The brilliance of his palette with its chromatic contrasts, the brushwork broken in a thousand stabs and strokes, the fiestas’ paintings changed into melancholic individuals and the colour blue became dominant. Pablo becomes Picasso that year, his mother’s name. It sounds more dramatic, more painful and brutal like a picador. From the Blue Period, Picasso settled in Paris and in 1904, Blue became Pink; then Pink drifted towards Cubism; and in 1907, from Negro masks and totems, he produced the Demoiselles d’Avignon, and with this one picture, larded with the new look of Congo barbarism from which Cubism was to develop. It is perhaps not so usual in paintings to change style so often like it is in music. David Bowie, Bjork etc. can move trends and change their styles from one album to another, but Picasso seemed to be at ease in any genre and was very aware of his gifted talent.
Becoming Picasso offers 18 paintings in two rooms @ Coutauld. The smaller room is devoted to early 1901 by his Spanish style. His Spanish Woman on a couch is an evocation of Velázquez; the French Can-Can is the possible response to Toulouse-Lautrec and At the Moulin Rouge a somehow response to Degas. In the larger room, the paintings seem to be executed in Paris as he added more female figure subjects like the women’s prison in Saint Lazarre (South of Montmartre) where infants were confined with their mothers or the subject of mother and child. The very early Blue paintings are of the Harlequin subjects and the absinthe drinkers. Months after the 1901 exhibition was over, Picasso returned to the suicide of Casagemas: three post-mortem imaginary portraits of his friend and an idea for an apotheosis. In here, Picasso transcends pain and sadness into art as one way of dealing with loss. As mentioned in the Middle East’s post previously, if you don’t intend to go to Qatar in the next few years, then go to see the Child with a Dove before 27 May as the painting will leave London in June 2013 for… ever.
Becoming Picasso, Paris 1901 runs until 27 May 2013 @ Courtauld
Courtauld talks: There will be a full event programme to accompany the exhibition including curator’s talks on 1 May at 5 pm, late-night gallery events, lunchtime talks and a Picasso Study Day on 27 April 2013.
Lates: 18 April and 23 May until 9 pm.  Dress as a 1901 Parisian for free admission from 6 pm.