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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Pink Floyd legend rocks up to the Pop-Up. Nick Mason tonight in Covent Garden

Nick Mason, photo being signed tonight
©Jill Furmanovsky

Rockarchive, the iconic rock photography collective and gallery network, is delighted to announce that legendary Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason will be holding a signing at their pop-up gallery in Monmouth St, WC2 on Thursday 30th May.
In a rare public appearance, Mason will be available at the Rockarchive pop-up between 5-6pm to sign an edition of 50 exclusive photographic prints of the world renowned drummer made specially for the occasion by Rockarchive, available at a reduced price of £100 for the night only. Pink Floyd fans are also invited to bring along one item of personal Pink Floyd memorabilia that they wish to be autographed. In addition to meeting Mason they will also be able to admire the extensive collection of Pink Floyd prints displayed in the gallery, including works by the late Storm Thorgerson and enter a raffle to win a signed pair of Nick Mason’s drum sticks.
The event is being held as part of a special 20% off traffic free shopping evening running throughout Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard between 5-9pm. All prints displayed at the Rockarchive Pop-up Gallery are being sold at a 20% discount for the evening.
The Rockarchive Pop-Up Gallery is running until 3rd June, in the Seven Dials shopping village and offers fans of all ages the opportunity to view and purchase some of the most celebrated rock photos of all time. Works include original and limited edition prints of musical legends including Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix by photographic greats Storm Thorgerson, Don Hunstein, Mick Rock and Jill Furmanovsky.
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

Jill Furmanovsky left Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) @12 years old with her family to live in London. At the same time, in the mid 60’s Pink Floyd and Storm Thorgerson (RIP) began one of the most creative unions between music and design (p34; The Moment, Jill Furmanovsky).
In 1969, Jill became a fan of Pink Floyd, started a textile degree course @ the Central School of Arts & Design in 1971 and was hugely influenced by Thorgerson’s album sleeves’ design.
In 1973, she showed Thorgerson her portfolio and @ 20 years old, Jill was sent to spend six weeks with Pink Floyd for their Dark Side of the Moon Tour.
Since then, Jill Furmanovsky has become a great friend of Storm and all members of Pink Floyd whom she photographed extensively (amongst other music artists- Oasis, U2…) and created Rockarchive.

Rockarchive 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 Pop Up Gallery, 46 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, London WC2H 9EP. Open every day 11am – 7pm until Monday 3rd June 2013. Free entrance

Seven Dials, Covent Garden’s only Village, brings you seven streets of independent boutiques, heritage brands and indulgent beauty and grooming salons all carefully selected for shoppers of discerning taste. Stores to love in the area include Poste Mistress, Coco De Mer, Orion London, Diesel, etc

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Chronicle of a Summer. Jean Rouch & Edgar Morin. On 27 May 2013 the BFI releases the hugely influential French documentary, newly restored, on Blu-ray and DVD (in a Dual Format Edition) for the first time in the UK

Marceline in Chronicle of a Summer,
1961. Courtesy of BFI

Chronicle of a Summer (Chronique d'un été). Jean Rouch et Edgar Morin. 1961.

After A Bout de Souffle (Breathless) was released in 1959, filmmakers and critics such as Luc Moullet, Truffaut etc, referred to Jean-Luc Godard at the time as the 'Jean Rouch of contemporary France.'

France, 1960 = France and Algeria are at war. Albert Camus dies. JP Sartre writes Critique of Dialectical Reason. The 5th République has just been born with the comeback of Charles de Gaulle. The French Nouvelle Vague is surfing on worldwide waves. Crisis of accommodation. Alienation at work. The Yéyés are about to explode (French genre of music). The French colonies are becoming independent. France is getting ready for May 1968…
“Are you happy?” “How do you live?” Shot in Paris during the summer of 1960, Chronicle of a Summer is the compelling result of a collaboration between anthropologist filmmaker Jean Rouch (Moi, un noir, Les maîtres fous) and sociologist Edgar Morin. This cinéma-vérité film redefined the documentary form as it portrays samples of French society: an Italian immigrant, artists, factory workers, a future famous politician, French and African students, an Auschwitz survivor, etc.
At the time of its release in 1961, this new way of filming was revolutionary and adventurous: both in technique (16mm camera is lighter and can record sounds synchronically) and in aesthetic (handheld cameras) innovation while interviewing and observing spontaneously. Chronicle of a Summer is not only a search to extract some truth from its interviewees but is perhaps, little by little, a mean to unveil the masks that hide these individuals once they become more accustomed to the “game”.
We observe Angelo, a Renault worker, who uses his tiny garden as a boxing ring and who will later befriends Landry. Landry is a student from Abidjan who would like people to think of African people for other things rather than just their dancing movements. There are talks at a dinner table about “what would you do if you were sent to fight against Algeria” when everybody seems against that war. There is Marilu, the Italian immigrant, who lives in a chambre de bonne (ex-maid private room) because she can’t afford a better place with her Cahiers du Cinéma’s secretary salary. At first, she didn’t mind her condition in Paris, but after three years, we can feel she is deeply affected. The camera goes even closer to her face as to reveal the discomfort of her situation.
And there is Marceline (who became Joris Ivens’s wife years later) who makes Nadine hide behind her hands (hide from the camera) when she reveals the meaning of her tattoo. Marceline appears from the very first moment as a very strong and joyful woman. Marceline who made me stop the DVD player so I could watch the swans swimming by. Lucky me, I had a break… Marceline walks in Place de la Concorde and talks/remembers “… tu es jeune, tu reviendras (you are young, you will come back)” “I’ll never come back” “I came back and you didn’t” she is now walking in le Marché des Halles (destroyed since) “… when I saw you, you asked about Mum and Michel?... you called me your little girl” the camera moves away “… when I came back, I was hardened. It was hard… they kissed me. My heart was a stone.”
The next scene is Marceline dancing in a guinguette and the camera continues to interview the participants. Rouch and Morin invited their “guinea pigs” for the projection of Chronicle of a Summer at Le Musée de l’Homme in Paris. They were not greatly enthusiastic about how they saw themselves, but then again, no-one ever did what Rouch and Morin did. There is always room to improve, but also room for others to adapt. Chronicle of a Summer has aged pretty well and is unfortunately still so relevant and far too contemporary.
To those discovering Jean Rouch = he started filming communities in Africa in 1941. Rouch was also friend with Jean Cocteau, Pierre Schaeffer, etc. Morin asked Rouch in 1959-1960 if he knew anything about his own country and they started their concept on filming people’s feeling in the summer of 1960. The film was “called” un été pourri (a rotten summer)… Rouch was against and said “if there is no title, there is no film”.

The 75 mns documentary that accompanies the DVD is produced by Florence Dauman, daughter of Anatole who produced Chronicle of a Summer. Un été + 50 (a summer + 50 – released in France 50 years after the film’s release) is a reflection on the film. Out of the 20 hours shooting at the time, we discover new footages of the film and Edgar Morin, Marceline Loridan, Régis Debray etc, (Rouch died in 2004) comment on these unseen footages.

Jean Rouch in conversation @ the NFT in 1978 is a pure delight if you don’t mind a French accent, and English imperfections-but-perfectly understandable. He retraces the very beginning of cinema which was actually anthropological based and then Méliès films which were more dreams based. One was a scientific tool and one was an entertainment tool. He talks about his influences who were Vertov and Flaherty, and he also mentions Ivens. Those he influenced: Goddard, Truffaut, Rivette etc. He also talks about the evolutions of cameras, sound etc. Rouch is loquacious, passionate and the end of the conversation shows how he was probably very generous.

Below is a selective list of people around Rouch with some links. If this BFI’s release is a good occasion to (re)watch Jean Rouch œuvres, it is also an excellent opportunity to (re)watch Joris Ivens with whom Rouch was very good friend and who married Marceline Loridan Ivens. Stéphane Breton has developed “the man with a movie camera” and is probably more controversial than Rouch was and an equal excellent story teller as Rouch.

Info on DVD = the film is 90 mns. Special features include Un été + 50 (2011) a 75 mins documentary on the making of Chronicle of a Summer featuring new interviews with the participants including Edgar Morin and Régis Debray. In French with English subtitles. Jean Rouch at the NFT(1978) an audio recording (in English only) of a lecture delivered by Jean Rouch on Dziga Vertov and Robert Flaherty’s influence on his work and that of his peers. The accompanying booklet features a newly commissioned essay by Ginette Vincendeau, Professor of Film Studies @ King’s College, London.

Xtra info around Jean Rouch =
Jean Rouch International Film Festival (in French and English) =
Marceline Loridan Ivens, actress in Chronicle of a Summer on France Inter, 3 May 2013 (in French) =
Joris Ivens Foundation (in Dutch and English) =

Friday, 24 May 2013

Aurora. Cristi Puiu. New Wave DVD release. 27 May 2013

Courtesy of New Wave Films
El Juanito was my local bohemian bar in Barranco. It was also my next door neighbour (almost): the best bocadillos in the world. Before I left the capital to go back to Europe in 2008, I sat in that crowded bar set up nearly a century ago by a communist man Juanito (RIP). He grew up in extreme poverty and fought for people’s rights. A group of bohemian artists-intellectuals were sitting with me, some of them had been in prison for years without any proven reasons and no judgement. They explained to me what they endured over the dictatorship years and how difficult it was to readjust to a society that also looked at a western way of life as a reference point to art and culture. The difficulty to express themselves in art or literature. We were all drinking jars after jars of local beers and I ventured “but you have been freed for nearly 10 years” “10 years is nothing mi querida. Democracy and freedom is a long process and we never know what can happen next… censorship is still around. Your visa has expired over a year ago and you will pay a dollar fee per day at the airport (which I even negotiated with customs), most of us can’t even get a passport”.
Cristi Puiu’s Aurora is a slow-burning post-Ceausescu film screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Like The Death Of Mr Lazarescu (Puiu’s first film), follow up Aurora is part of a cycle of six tales set in a depressed contemporary Bucharest’s outskirt and is a tribute to Eric Rohmer. The film too takes place over a 24-hour period and portrays middle-class Romanians haunted by poverty.
When Mr Lazarescu is a 150 mns film witnessing the slow death of the protagonist, Aurora emphasises the pain and confusion of a man’s life named Viorel for 180 mns. Here, time is the main narrative tool with little dialogues for this thriller film genre: Kaurismaki and Tarrantino have a son. Cristi Puiu. The film is a “cowboys” marriage of deadpan actions and comico-tragic’s conversations.
Viorel (played by Puiu himself), a recently divorced father of two young daughters, is a 42 year old taciturn metallurgical engineer. With his new rifle (Czech ones are cheaper), Viorel is on a mission around town to sort out a few people’s life in order to end the instability that rules his own. We follow his 24 hour journey at work, in a rifle shop, in his car, alone in his empty apartment, with his mother and her unlikeable partner, with his neighbours, his ex-wife, ex-in-laws or picking up his daughter at school… the banality of a man’s life who mutes into a devil. Rigorous plans-séquence builds tension through absence, silence and pseudo-passivity.
In the interview that accompanies the DVD, Cristi Puiu thinks of cinema “as an anthropological device, an instrument to investigate reality, to learn about the intimate space of others and the mystery of human being.” A mystery leading to an existential issue as the murderer is a solitary and remote person. Puiu thinks that “artists can change the world, the sense of it but in a homeopathic dosage”. He feels the film has changed him a bit because he had to get in touch with the killer inside him to play the role and it led him to try to understand something about himself. “There are traces of killers inside ourselves”, Puiu pursues “but there are very well hidden”.
In the end, when Viorel gives himself up to the police and get questioned, one can wonder whether it is actually him challenging the law system that doesn’t seem to understand the complexities of the human mind.

Info on DVD = AURORA, a film by Cristi Puiu. A New Wave films release. RELEASE DATE = 27th May 2013. BBFC: 12.
EXTRAS: The DVD includes an exclusive interview with Cristi Puiu and a Trailer

Thursday, 23 May 2013

JOSEPHINE KING: ‘I told him I was an Artist. He said, “Can you cook?”’. Riflemaker Gallery. Upstairs gallery, on view until July.


© Josephine King

Riflemaker is the quirkiest gallery in Soho and my favourite in the area. Housed on five floors of an historic gunmaker's workshop, built in 1712 (the oldest public building in the west end), Riflemaker worked closely with English Heritage to preserve this unique architectural building.
As you enter this wooden house, the ground floor exhibits its main artwork. Behind the door, the corridor is tiny and dark. You may continue your visit upstairs or downstairs. The gallery often projects a film in that corridor. This is how I discovered the work of Jane Arden, when the BFI had the excellent idea with Jane’s son to unearth her wonders (the only known British woman to make films in the 70’s).
Josephine King (b.1965 London) makes ink-paintings on paper - a flat 'cut out and keep' portrait framing text which documents the often traumatic experience of the artist's life. Her second Riflemaker exhibition, started in March, is entitled 'I told him I was an artist. He said "can you cook?"'
"In painting Modern Woman, I am looking outside of myself rather than just looking within.  Showing myself naked in both mind and body depicts how it feels for me to be going against the grain of society. As a woman painter, I have nothing to lose" Josephine King
The subject of Josephine King's (now upstairs) exhibition at Riflemaker is the artist’s relationships with men. King’s self-portraits document her battle with life. Her acclaimed debut exhibition ‘Life So Far’, explored the trauma of the artist’s extreme bi-polar mania. The series later led to a nomination in the category for Best Visual Artist at the South Bank Show Awards.
In this exhibition, Riflemaker presents King’s new ink paintings made during the past two years. The sensuous full-length portraits and the sardonic, disarmingly honest texts which frame them, document personal relationships, her devotion to her work and the isolation of her illness.
The poster-like composition of King’s paintings point to an innate faculty for an interest in design, perhaps influenced by the work and also the collections of her father, the designer, photographer and curator David King. The painting style takes from the design world, haute couture, Fauvism, early 20c Russian painting, Victoriana and Art Nouveau.
King grew up in the bohemia of late 1960s north London and has spent prolonged periods in Amsterdam, Berlin, China, India, Moscow and in Portugal, where she modelled for Paula Rego. She appears as the stepmother in Rego’s seminal 1995 work ‘Snow White and her Stepmother’.
About King’s exhibition, Rego says “They seem to me to be totally truthful pictures, from the heart. Many people will identify with these images".
On the ground floor’s main exhibition is 'The Sculptors of Grand Rue' - apocalyptic sculpture from Haiti curated by LEAH GORDON - until 29 July 2013

JOSEPHINE KING: ‘I told him I was an Artist. He said, “Can you cook?” ’
Riflemaker 79 Beak Street, London W1. Free Entrance
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday 11am – 6pm

Monday, 20 May 2013

Cría cuervos (Raise Ravens). Carlos Saura. BFI releases on DVD/Blu-ray for the first time in UK. 27 May 2013.

Cría cuervos (Raise Ravens), 1976, Carlos Saura.
Courtesy BFI

Cría cuervos (Raise Ravens). Carlos Saura. BFI releases on DVD/Blu-ray for the first time in UK. 27 May 2013.

La película (109mn), la intervista con Carlos Saura en BFI Southbank en 2012 (23mn) y el documental (63mn) estan en castellano con subtitulo/traducción en ingles.
With Geraldine Chaplin and Ana Torrent.

Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos = Raise ravens and they will pluck out your eyes. This is a Spanish proverb that partly titles Saura’s film shot in the summer of 1975, the year of Francisco Franco’s death (November), Spain dictator since 1939: a film under Franco’s regime against Franco. A film that had to go through strong censorship like any other Spanish films at the time and like any films in other countries suffering dictatorship! Elías Querejeta, the producer of many Saura’s films, managed to produce other subtly denouncing films under Franco.
Subtle as it is set in a “sepia” Franco-ism household representing Spain gangrened by a severe Catholicism of state and an authoritarian army leaving its children scarred by its submissive and repressive brutality.
Cría cuervos is the kind of film that will print onto your brain Ana’s contemplative wide eyes. Eyes who observe, judge or don’t judge the world of adults: what exactly does she understand when she witnesses her father’s mistress escaping his bedroom the night of his death? Both of them exchange glances. One in a panicking state, the other one strongly stoical.
Eight year old Ana (Ana Torrent), burdened in an agonising ocean of austerity will travel her world between reality and fantasy resisting the world of adults and refusing the condition of “feminity”: while playing with her sisters, she says she will never wear bras when she grows up. Ana and her two more docile sisters, 11 year-old Irene and five year old Maite are left orphans after Ana poisoned her high ranking military father whom she silently accuses of her mother’s death played by Geraldine Chaplin. The disciplinarian aunt Paulina - “nobody has taught you good manners at the table?” – comes in as a carer when she is obviously not comfortable in her newly mother role.
When Ana escapes the reality, she resurrects her mother (who appears dressed in the same boring two-pieces suit). They embrace, play piano, share jokes. Cria cuervos is a formidable love tale between a mother and a daughter, a fusión of complicité that allows the film to breathe when intensity becomes unbearable for Ana or perhaps for the viewer…
Chaplin plays also Ana as an adult reflecting on her past, 20 years on.
When left alone in the care of the outspoken housekeeper Rosa or the wheelchair bound and mute grand-mother, the girls use their aunt’s wigs and make-up to improvise scenes of their parents’ disputes, dance on Jeanette’s Porque Te Vas, or play around their disused/”abandoned” swimming pool (maybe a sign of the end of an era).
The strong moment of the film is when tranquil Ana coldly says in cadence fixing the camera with her wide brown eyes “que te mueras… que te mueras… quiero que te mueras” (die… die… I want you to die). This is addressed to her absent aunt. Ana will then repeat the same gesture (as she did to her father) of pouring poison to her aunt’s glass of milk. The next morning, Rosa wakes the girls up as it is their first day back to school. Summer is over. There is a moment of play time and joy under the bedsheet until the aunt comes in. Slowly, in disbelief, Ana comes out of the bedsheet. Can’t she decide of people’s fate?
Raise ravens and they will pluck out your eyes. Ravens are the children of future Spain in need of a deep spring clean. The girls walk now freely in the busy Madrilenian street, on their way to school but it is hard to know how far they will move on as any newly gained freedom needs time to readjust to “normality” and find a new existentiality.

Six months after Franco’s death, Cría cuervos won the Golden Palm in Cannes in 1976 as well as various other prestigious awards worldwide.

Xtra info on CRÍA CUERVOS (Raise Ravens) = A film by Carlos Saura. Spain, 1976. BFI DVD B1139. BBFC cert: 12. Feature:  109 minutes. Language: Spanish. Subtitles: English. DVD Special features: a portrait of Carlos Saura (José Luis López-Linares, 2004, 63mins. On-stage interview with Carlos Saura @ BFI Southbank (2012, 23 mins). Booklet featuring new essays and notes from Maria Delgado, Mar Diestro-Dópido and writer and film historian Michael Brooke. Presented in both HD and Standard Definition.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Resident Ghosts. Hackney Museum. until 18th May

This group of Asian people were probably attending the Salvation Army Congress in 1886. The glass plate negative from which this photograph is produced is etched with the name Colonel Nichol. Alexander Nichol was a missionary and scholar of Hinduism and a high ranking Commissioner in the Salvation Army. He must have taken the group to Eason’s studio to be photographed.

A huge apology to Sue McAlpine for giving me all info super professionnally and for me thinking the exhib' finished the 28 instead of today.

AN exhibition of the borough’s earliest photographic portraits, dating as far back as the 1840s, has opened in Hackney Museum.

Resident Ghosts displays a rare collection of daguerreotypes – the first commercially successful photography process – of Hackney people in a time when the art form was in its infancy.

They were collected by Caton: “I found photographs of former Hackney residents in the strangest of places: a hotel photo fair in upstate New York, a former junk shop in Greenwich, an antiques shop in Glasgow to name but a few.”

On display are also photographs from one of Hackney’s earliest portrait photographers. Thirteen years ago more than 2,000 glass plates were found in a cellar in the old Parochial School in Wilton Way, E8. They used to belong to Victorian photographer Arthur Eason, who had a Dalston Lane studio that attracted a fascinating mix of East Londoners from music hall performers to members of the Salvation Army.

Resident Ghosts runs at Hackney Museum until 18 May. Free entrance.

 Wong Ock, Hong Jong, Wing Wong
It is likely that these three came to England as delegates to the Salvation Army’s International Congress in 1886. Arthur Eason himself had been a Christian missionary in China. He had joined the China Inland Mission which was set up by James Hudson Taylor. By the early 1900s there were 800 missionaries in China and 125,000 Chinese Christians.
 Mae was the daughter of Arthur and Minnie Eason. They adopted her whilst working as Christian missionaries in Hudson Taylor’s China Inland Mission. Mae grew up to become a teacher in England.
Elizabeth Drabble
She was an extremely committed member of the Salvation Army. Her embroidered jersey proclaims her lifelong commitment to God, a large Salvation Army badge is fastened to the neck of her jumper and she shows us a copy of the Salvationists’ newspaper ‘The War Cry’. As staff captain at the training homes in Clapton, Elizabeth would have been involved in preparing hundreds of recruits for officer roles in the Salvation Army who would be commissioned to preach and serve in all parts of the world.
 A display of the earliest photographic portraits taken in Hackney and some curious personal articles related to them.

Historic photographs from the private collection of Caton, including the rare early portrait daguerreotype taken in Hackney, in 1848 by Timothy Le Beau and the St Leonard Chruch School for Girls taken in c 1845.

This display is the fruit of over 15 years of intensive collecting. I have found these incredibly early photographs of former Hackney residents taken during the 1840’s and 1850’s, in the strangest of places: a hotel photo fair in upstate New York, a former junk shop in Greenwich,
eBay, from an antiques shop in Glasgow, a second hand bookshop…to name but a few sources.

I have been associated with Hackney both professionally and creatively since the late 1980’s and have a deep affection and regard for the people and the diverse culture of Hackney. Naturally, I am very interested in learning about the people who lived here in different
centuries, especially in the mid 19th century when photography became more widely available to the general public and people had their likeness ‘taken’ by a professional photographer. At the start of this project I wondered if it might be possible to find pictures of people who walked the streets of Hackney during the 1840’s and 50’s and stare
them in the eyes. Over the years I have painstakingly put together an ensemble of images that show us in astonishing detail how people looked, dressed, and portrayed themselves in the mid Victorian age.This small collection initially developed from a chance encounter with the discovery of a daguerreotype portrait*, taken in c 1848 which led me to search for other examples in an endless cycle of possibilities that has taken me across continents and involved the expertise of photographic historians, local researchers and experts in genealogical research.

Here are some of the oldest and rarest photographs in existence taken of the people who lived in Hackney at the dawn of the photographic revolution. Finding them has taken a great deal of time and effort. I have enlisted the enthusiastic help of others to source them over the
years. We now take it completely for granted that we can make a photograph of someone on a mobile telephone camera in a matter of a few seconds. In these pioneer images, obtaining a good quality likeness of the sitter would require them to sit or stand perfectly motionless for
up to 30 seconds so as not to blur the picture and ruin it. Photography was very expensive and exclusive to the wealthy classes only. However, in some of these pictures you can clearly see people from less privileged backgrounds who have been photographed alongside a patron or mentor and who may not have been the principal subjects of the photographer but provide us with a fascinating glimpse into life 160-170 years ago.

The photographs chiefly comprise of the world’s earliest photographic processes: namely the daguerreotype and ambrotype (or collodion positive). The daguerreotype was the world’s first photographic process invented by Louis-Jacques Mande Daguerre in the 1830’s and used extensively from 1839 until about 1860 when it was phased out. Daguerreotypes are unique direct positives on silver coated copper plates. They are remarkable for their incredible quality of detail, sumptuous tonal ranges and beautiful ‘holographic’ quality that far surpasses any photograph printed on paper. In this display you can see the earliest known portrait photograph ever taken in Hackney, a portrait of a youth by Timothy Le Beau, an artist’s colour man and paint supplier who also doubled up as a photographer. This photograph dates to c 1848 when Le Beau had a studio near Hackney Road. Incredibly, the building still stands today but it is no longer a photographic studio. There is also a daguerreotype of the St Leonard Shoreditch Church School taken in Hackney in around 1845, showing us a glimpse of the ‘students’ lined up outside against a giant canvas backdrop hung between two trees.

The Ambrotype or collodion positive on glass plate was also a unique positive photograph, invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851 the process swiftly superseded the daguerreotype as it was cheaper to implement and manufacture the plates from glass rather than silver
coated copper. Ambrotypes had a much longer run and were still being taken up until the 1890’s.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Night Train. Jerzy Kawalerowicz. Second Run DVD release. First time in UK. 27 May 2013


Night Train (Pociag) 1959, Jerzy Kawalerowicz
Courtesy of Second Run

Close confinement and enforced intimacy, a constantly moving landscape background, a percussive, momentum of underlying sound and a pre-determined appointment, at speed, with destiny; trains and railways, especially of the photogenic steam age, were destined for preservation in the great museum of the cinema. Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes was so successful that Caroll Reed almost duplicated it with Night Train to Munich and later in North by Northwest Cary Grant and Eve Marie-Saint were stealthily enchained on a brilliantly constructed train journey. My own favourite, along with Keaton's The General is Sternberg's Shanghai Express, a giddy, highly stylised confection in which the extravagantly evening-attired characters seem to be travelling for no real reason (Shanghai Lili- Marlene Dietrich's character says she is going to Shanghai to buy a new hat!) and where the characters not only speak according to the monotonous rhythm of the train but also seem to start and stop speaking in the quick-slow-quick manner of the train beginning to move. A deft, beautifully constructed but forgotten, entirely train-bound film from Poland from 1959 has just emerged from the vaults of Second Run dvd- the invaluable boutique label which specialises in eastern European masterworks of the 60s. Jerzy Kawalerowicz's Night Train (Pociag) has many Hitchcockian elements; an anxious middle aged man (Leon Niemczyck) who may or may not  be a murderer on the loose, sharing his cabin with a cool, romantically scarred blond (Lucyna Winnicka), her ex-lover confined to the cheaper carriages (played by the great Cybulski), a sexually frustrated woman frequently flirting with the Niemczyck character amongst others and several minor figures including a gentle insomniac pre-occupied with motivations for murder who was once imprisoned in Buchenwald. There is also a superbly atmospheric almost abstract chase scene in which nearly all the train's passengers are pursuing their quarry across a mist wreathed field ending with a near lynching in a cemetery. Here the painful experience of Polish near history looms large. The director hovering over this scene and much of the film though is not Hitchcock but Antonioni who had recently made Il Grido. Languid, silent compositions of the back of Winnicka's head gazing yearningly through the train window at the moving landscape seems to eerily anticipate similar shots of Monica Vitti in Antonioni's early 60s trilogy-(Winnicka, like Vitti was to become the lover of their director). Other scenes- a travelling shot back through the train corridor with all the characters choreographed to move one by one into the shot, each with some bit of business, recall a technical virtuosity which Antonioni was apt to deploy. What Kawalerowicz's film lacks though is an ability to sustain the mystery of the characters beyond the end of the film. Trite resolutions are to the fore and to dissipate this mystery after so much silent, subtle interplay between Niemczyck and Winnicka when they are forced to share the carriage, is a shame. Watching these scenes in isolation- her reading, him chain smoking and pacing- one might think that they are re-playing old games of a relationship they once shared many moons ago.
This film serves mainly to remind us in the end how good Antonioni's films are in comparison to his many imitators. Jean-Marie Straub said that "Films have no interest unless one finds something that burns somewhere within the shot". Note that he means every shot- not just once or twice in the film. That burning comes not from technical mastery but deep emotional empathy with the characters and the verities of the filmed space. In this film, good as it is, there are flickers of heat but no burning.
Allan Bairstow
Xtra info on NIGHT TRAIN = A film by Jerzy Kawalerowicz. Poland, 1959. SECOND RUN DVD 065. BBFC cert: 12. Feature:  94 minutes. Special Feature: 7 mins. Language: Polish. Subtitles: English. Venice Film Festival, 1959 / Best Actress - Lucyna Winnicka. DVD Special features: an extract from a documentary on Kawalerowicz. Booklet featuring a new essay by writer and film historian Michael Brooke. Presented from a new HD digital transfer with restored picture and sound.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Alex Proud and The Strand Gallery present the first UK exhibition from performance and installation artist Millie Brown: Muted Chronology. 14th – 18th May 2013


credit: © Millie Brown
Vomit = Erbrochene = vómito = zvratky = vomito = рво́та = استفراغ = αργκό = vomitus = kusmuk = vomi
Before each session, I would eat a banana and two piranhas I had proudly fished. That would be the last meal at 12pm before the session. Then my Barranquinos friends and I as the only foreigner would go to the pineapple field where a big tent was set up for the 9pm session. We all had a bucket for our own vomit. I discarded it as I never vomit or if… I can hold it until I find a private space. On the first two sessions, I went out to give Mother Nature of the Amazonia a bit of my own self. On the third session, my head was spinning, my body was knocking and the hallucinations were powerful. I stayed out in the field for a very long time, looking at the full moon like a trapped animal dripping litres of dark liquid. Eventually, I went back to the tent, sat there until dawn and walked for an hour to my hut. My body ached but I felt liberated with a strong energy.
The majority of Brown’s current work involves drinking coloured Soya milk and regurgitating the liquid over large canvas or white clothing while recording the process. The resulting films are stylised and choreographed which makes the viewer in a slightly voyeuristic position. The corporeality of the scenes directly confronts issues of the body, human nature and gender by drawing on current issues and ancient symbolism. Her art is not vulgar and one can feel a lot of beauty in it (she doesn’t eat for a day or two and the vomit is a non smelly liquid). On that occasion at the Strand Gallery, one can regret there are only one vomit-art canvas and a “Nam June Paik” video installation showing recorded vomiting sessions.
Brown is primarily renowned for her colorful performances where she 'vomits rainbows' in various forms of media; live, short film and on canvas. She says of her work: “I have an inherent desire to push my own boundaries within my art. By creating art from the very depths of my own physical being I am able to challenge people's perception of beauty, expressing raw elements of human nature and in turn challenging myself both physically and mentally”. Both Millie Brown and Marina Abramović’s work explore the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. When one hits the physical body inside first, the other one hits it on the outside, creating a high level of meditating process one way or another. Abramović’s work stands for a longer stamina. Body rejection-wise, Millie’s work is also a reminder of Pasolini’s Theorem (the son pissing on his painting), Warhol’s Oxidation, Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, Chadwick’s Piss Flowers or Gavin Turk’s oxidisation (presently @ RiffleMaker Gallery, Soho).
Brown has collaborated with innovative talents such as Nick Knight, music director Ruth Hogben and her work is celebrated by global phenomenon Lady Gaga who chose Millie Brown to feature in her own performance video: Brown vomits shimmering liquid over the singer in an experiential and grotesque pop music video.
Millie Brown was born in England to bohemian parents and spending much of her youth in Spain and the South of France where her nomadic tendencies originated. Aged 13 and unable to relate the French children of her neighborhood, Millie befriended local street punks. From then on, sleeping in abandoned buildings and driving around Europe in trucks became part of her everyday adventures. After a brief summer stint in L.A., Millie returned to London at the age of 17 where she embarked upon her artistic journey in performance art and film.
A founding member of London’s !WOWOW! collective -- which has produced such luminary talents as fashion designer Gareth Pugh, jewellery designer Dominic Jones, photographer Matthew Stone and artists Adham Faramawy and Boo Saville -- Millie Brown makes up part of London’s new youth talent pool in the heart of the world’s cultural hot bed.

While recently acting on a panel of expert art dealers for Channel Four’s newest series of Four rooms, Alex Proud acquired a unique vomit-art canvas made by Brown and has now commissioned a special exhibition of her video installations to go on display at his central London gallery. The Strand Gallery will exhibit an on-site video installation (showing a series of Brown’s films and collaborations) and a large work on canvas: titled ‘Muted 01’.

Until Saturday 18 May 2013: 11am till 6pm. Free entrance. The Strand Gallery, 32 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6BP.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Tony Garnett = first retrospective of TV producer = May-June 2013 and in conversation on 4 June. @ BFI SouthBank

Tony Garnett.
Courtesy of BFI
The first ever retrospective of the controversial producer of TV dramas including Cardiac Arrest, The Spongers, Law and Order and This Life. In a career that has spanned over 50 years, Tony Garnett remains at the heart of all that is best and most controversial about British television drama. To quote former BBC Director General Mark Thompson: “He is “simply the best television drama creator and producer there has been.” For the first time this intensely private man has agreed to a full review of his remarkable career and throughout May and June BFI Southbank will embark upon the most complete retrospective of his work to date. The season will also offer audiences a rare chance to hear/see Tony Garnett In Conversation on Tuesday 4 June. He will discuss his remarkable career onstage with writer and broadcaster Mark Lawson.
The issues that his work has raised over the years are now even more pertinent, and this is precisely why Garnett has chosen this moment to speak out about his work: "It gives me no pleasure that these films are now even more contemporary than when first shown. It fills me with shame. Society is retreating; painfully achieved gains in dignity and mutual support are swept away; everything and everyone are commodified and our humanity is reduced. Misery and despair are ignored by shiny wealth. But there is no alternative. We must renew our fight for humanity. We are truly all in this together". Garnett’s work is always fervently political and never fails to ask difficult questions of the government and the state; he asserts that trying to get these kinds of dramas made today would be simply impossible. Focusing on Garnett’s rarely seen works rather than the more frequently screened (such as Kes and Cathy Come Home), Part One of the season deals largely with radical plays of the 60s and 70s which were made with collaborators such as Ken Loach, David Mercer, Mike Leigh, Jim Allen and Roland Joffé.
With the fortunes of the single drama on the decline, and a sharp move to the right following the election of Margaret Thatcher, Garnett decided to spend a decade working in the US. On Garnett’s return to the UK in the late eighties he established World Productions through which he produced a highly successful run of programmes using what he describes as the “Trojan horse” method of production. He reinvented the medical drama and the police procedural respectively, removing the soap elements and adding layers of depth and his trademark gritty realism.
Screenings taking place in the season:

The Gangster Show: The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui. BBC 1972. Dir Jack Gold. With Nicol Williamson, Sam Wanamaker, Peter Frye. 105min. Thu 16 May 18:20 NFT2

Days of Hope: 1926 (The General Strike). BBC 1975. Dir Ken Loach. With Paul Copley, Pamela Brighton, Nikolas Simmonds. 133min. Thu 23 May 18:00 NFT2

The Spongers Play for Today. BBC 1978. Dir Roland Joffé. With Christine Hargreaves, Bernard Hill, Peter Kerrigan. 90min Fri 31 May 18:20 NFT2

Law & Order–A Detectives Tale BBC 1978. Director Leslie Blair. With Derek Martin, Alan Ford, Roy
Stone. 80min + Between the Lines –Some Must Watch BBC 1993. Director Roy Battersby. With Neil Pearson, Francesca Annis, Michael Pennington. 50min. Sun 2 June 16:00 NFT2

Tony Garnett In Conversation with Mark Lawson & Q&A
Notoriously reticent to receive any accolades, the BFI is proud to present the most complete screening of Tony Garnett’s work to date and finally to be able to highlight the significance of his extraordinary achievements. When he got a BAFTA award, he didn't turn up to receive it. He went to the football at Aston Villa instead! A fact that speaks volumes about the man and his values. Illustrated with clips from his films, don’t miss this opportunity to hear one of the most important and influential television and film producers providing his controversial views on the state of the industry and the strong beliefs that have always guided his work. Tue 4 June 18:30 NFT1

Blooming Youth BBC 1973. Play for Today. Director Leslie Blair. With Philip Jackson, Colin Higgins, Peter Kinley. 70min + This Life BBC 1996. Director Sam Miller. With Jack Davenport, Amita Dhiri, Daniela Nardini, Andrew Lincoln, Jason Hughes. Thu 6 June 20:30 NFT3

Prostitute Kestrel Films. 1980. Director Tony Garnett. With Eleanor Forsythe, Kate Crutchley, Kim Lockett. 97min  Fri 14June 20:40 NFT2

Cardiac Arrest BBC 1994. Director David Hayman. With Helen Baxendale, Andrew Lancel, Ahsen Bahatti. 28min + The Cops BBC 1998. Director Harry Bradbeer. With Katy Cavanagh, Rob Dixon, John Henshaw. 50min  Wed 19 June 18:20 NFT2

Handgun Kestrel Films. 1982. Director Tony Garnett. With Karen Young, Clayton Day, Suzie Humphreys. 97min Sat 22 June 20:40 NFT2

Beautiful Thing Channel Four/World Productions. 1996. Director Hettie Macdonald. With Glen Berry, Linda Henry, Scott Neal, Ben Daniels Thu 27 June 18:20 NFT2

Hostile Waters BBC/HBO/World Productions. 1997. Director David Drury. With Rutger Hauer, Martin Sheen, Max Von Sydow, Colm Feore. 90min. Sat 29 June 18:10 NFT3