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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Bill Viola. Frustrated Actions and Futile Gestures. Video works until 27 July. Blain Southern Gallery

Bill Viola, The Dreamers, 2013 (detail), Video/Sound Installation, seven channels of colour High-Definition video on seven 65” plasma displays mounted vertically on wall in darkened room; four channels stereo sound, room dimensions: 6.5 x 6.5 x 3.5m. © Bill Viola. Image Courtesy of Bill Viola and Blain|Southern
Photo: Kira Perov, 2013

When new in a city, I walk around with no maps and no phones. Somewhere in Madrid, under a burning sun, I came across a Bill Viola’s exhibition. Although fond of his video work, I had never seen any of his exhibitions. Standing in front of his “photo”, I was waiting, scrutinizing the portrait, the slow motion of the moving face. Since Madrid, I was privileged to attend other exhibitions at The Haunch Of Venison and other spaces in London. I am specifically attracted to Bill’s lifelong exploration of elements: mirages, fire and water. Each time, I experience a deep spiritual “invasion”. Here I live in a high speed city and here I am floating in outer space.
Blain Southern offers some new floating moments for these new Bill Viola’s works: Frustrated Actions and Futile Gestures. Completely unaware of what I was going to see, I guided myself downstairs. The Dreamers is a video/sound installation, seven channels of colour High-Definition video where individuals appear to be sleeping at the bottom of a streambed: a child, a retired white woman, a Japanese businessman, a Buddhist, a Middle East woman, a red hair man and a black woman. Presented in a dark space with gentle sounds of water, I contemplated each individual in their peaceful dreams for over 30 minutes.
Upstairs was a bit more “violent” with the large room exhibiting Chapel of Frustrated Actions and Futile Gestures. A grid of nine horizontal screens that depict figures perpetually repeating various activities. Presented in real time, we witness a man pulling a cart up a hill, only to let it roll back down again as soon as he reaches the top – The Myth of Sisyphus which calls into question the significance of our daily accomplishments. In another screen, we observe a man continuously digging and refilling a hole in the ground at night. The central panel shows a glass bowl being filled with water from a jug, which slowly seeps out through a crack in the glass until it has emptied – at which point the bowl is then refilled. Every action is repeated in ritualistic fashion, gradually and purposefully, rendering each unsuccessful endeavour all the more poignant.
Four works from the Mirage series, Ancestors (2012), The Encounter (2012), Walking on the Edge (2012) and Inner Passage (2013), were recorded at El Mirage – a six-mile long, dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert. Presented in horizontal and vertical formats, they portray figures from a distance through the distorting haze of a mirage, becoming increasingly visible as they walk towards the camera. Shot in high definition and slowed down, the vast arid landscape takes centre stage, as the travellers navigate the strong winds and the searing heat of the desert.
For over forty years, Viola’s practice has continuously transformed our understanding of video as an artform, expanding its technological scope and historical relevance. He draws from a range of influences, including Eastern and Western art and the spiritual traditions of Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism and Christian mysticism, to express fundamental truths underpinning human existence. Bill Viola’s profound visual language captures and expresses thoughts, feelings and memories that have a universal appeal, offering viewers a vehicle for the exploration and contemplation of their own circumstances and emotions.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with an introduction by Blain|Southern’s Head Curator and Director of Exhibitions, Mario Codognato, and edited by Kira Perov (Viola’s partner and collaborator for over 30 years).

Trailer =

Blain Southern Gallery. Free Entrance. 4 Hanover Square, London W1S 1BP. Open Monday to Friday = 10am – 6pm, Saturday = 10 am – 5pm

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding. Gigging for Any Port In A Storm’s album around London and elsewhere in July and August.

Craig Dermody for Scott & Charlene's Wedding
Courtesy of Fire Records
On 22 July SACW will release its second album Any Port In A Storm on Fire Records. Australian born, New York based Craig Dermody is back with tales of home-sickeness, basketball, alienation, rock N roll and glimpse of love. The album is an ode to New York City through the eyes of an Aussie caught up in the throes of Hurricane Sandy and feeling homesick for Melbourne life, the breezy, fuzzy tunes belie clever, poignant, lyrics drawn straight from real life.
Pitchfork, Spin, the Guardian and national radio with plays on BBC 6Music from the likes of Steve Lamacq and Tom Ravenscroft have already been featuring the tracks.

If you want to catch his nonchalant melodies at a cross between Lemonheads, Kurt Cobain and… shall I dare, The Go-Between, in London:

26 June: Waiting Room, London, UK
30 June: The Garage, London, UK (supporting Mission of Burma)
6 July: The Victoria Dalston, London, UK = London album launch show! 8pm £6
13 July: Independent Label Market, London UK
13 July: Hoxton Bar, East End Live Festival, London
14 July: Hangover Lounge at the Lexington, London, UK
16 August: Yard Party Festival, London, UK                                     
16 August: In store at Flashback, London, UK

Or outside London:
29 June: Glastonbury, UK Festival 12pm
1 July: The Haunt, Brighton, UK (supporting Mission of Burma)
2 July: Lick (in-store), Brighton, UK
2 July: Green Door Store, Brighton, London, UK
3 July: In Store – Rise, Bristol, UK
 4 July: Undertone Bar, Cardiff, UK
5 July: Southsea, UK Pie & Vinyl Presents
7 August: Shipping Forecast, Liverpool, UK
8 August: Tie Dye Tapes, Sheffield, UK
9 August: Heart Attack & Vine, Newcastle, UK
10 August: Sound It Out Records – In store, Stockton on Tees, UK
10 August: Rook & Gaskill, York, UK
11 August: Urban Outfitters (mid-day instore), York, UK
12 August: Adelphi, Hull, UK
13 August: Wharf Chambers, Leeds, UK
14 August: Arts Center, Colchester, UK
15 August: In Store – Sound Exchange, Nottingham, UK
15 August: The Hairy Dog, Derby, UK

Monday, 24 June 2013

Here, Then (Ci Chu Yu Bi Chu). A film by Mao Mao. China, 2012. DVD release = 24 June 2013 on Second Run.

Courtesy of Second Run

Here, Then (Ci Chu Yu Bi Chu). A debut film by Mao Mao. China, 2012
Language: Mandarin; Subtitles: English. 94 minutes

While Here, Then has received a positive reaction abroad, even winning some awards, it has been screened in some small scale indie festivals back home says Mao Mao in the DVD interview “when you tell a contemporary story with “real” people, inevitably there will be some kind of political & social consciousness or context. For example, those half-finished buildings at the beach – in some stories, it may be explained- but here I just let it be”.
The scene opens on Yangyang (Huang Tang Yija), a young woman singing a song “... the best way to hide in the crowd is to follow the fashion mode”. Not so long ago, the best way to melt in the crowd was to be identically dressed. What does the Chinese move mean to this “lost” rural generation?
The film follows - on a “slow motion” and minimalist dialogues - a group of unconnected and disillusioned young Chinese people. It emphasises the way they inhabit the space and time and how they connect through music, a lost mobile phone and sex.
The world might be staring at China, but who do we become when Yangyang stares back at the camera as if defying us?
Quite often, the scenes are out of focus as if Here, Then is an attempt to describe ambiguous emotions. Something that can’t be explained through any logic or clarity. The characters are free to go anywhere but they don’t have any specific goal to reach. The film seems to be asking all along “what’s the point of freedom if we haven’t got the tools to sculpt our future?”. Even the seaside with its half-finished buildings cries out as a potential escape, but then again... to go where? What for? Is “there” any better?
Harriet Warman has written three in-depth pages on the booklet issued with the DVD. Highly recommended.

2012 Edinburgh International Film Festival / Winner: Best Film, International Feature Competition
2012 Asiatica Film Festival, Rome / Winner: Best Asian Feature Film
• Presented in a new high-definition transfer, approved by the director.
DVD Special features:
• Newly filmed, exclusive interview with director Mao Mao.
• New and improved English subtitle translation.
• Booklet featuring a new essay by film journalist and film festival programmer Harriet Warman.
• World premiere release on DVD.
Release date: 24 June 2013 SECOND RUN DVD 079
BARCODE: 5060114150744
RRP: £12.99
BBFC cert: 15
Feature: 94 minutes
Interview with Mao Mao: 11 minutes

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Nadine Khouri plays St Pancras Old Church on the 26th June. Doors open @ 7.30pm

It was in the intimate atmosphere of the Monarch in Chalk Farm that I met Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters) for the mesmerising Tarnation gig. Mark had just landed in London from the US. He asked if tax was included in his drink’s price. He called me a few times and wrote me postcards from California. In Almost Famous, he played himself. Beautifully sad, nonchalantly angry “what the fuck is going on”. We met each time he was in London and then I left London, leaving the past being the past.
Lebanese born singer songwriter Nadine Khouri will titillate our ears with her tales of heartbreaks, travels and displacements in the intimate St Pancras Old Church on the 26th June. Currently based in London, Nadine delivers slowcore & poetic confessions with her effortlessly powerful voice. A fusion between Heather Nova, Mazzy Star and PJ Harvey.
She has recently been invited by John Parish to sing on a track released on his latest LP Screenplay. Nadine has also collaborated with Al Weatherhead (Sparklehorse/A Camp) and Ryan Alfred (Calexico).
Khouri is at present recording a full-length album on her label One Flash Records and this teasing concert is not one to be missed while we wait for the finished opus. Anna Lena & the Orchids will play as support

St Pancras Old Church. 26th June. Doors 7:30pm

The ticket link to the show:

Saturday, 22 June 2013

JULY AT ROOFTOP FILM CLUB. Queen of Hoxton (Shoreditch). Bussey Building (Peckham Rye)

Bussey Building. Pekham Rye
Courtesy of RoofTop Film Club
London's favourite outdoor cinema, Rooftop Film Club, announces its eagerly anticipated July programme of cult, classic and new releases.
Kicking off proceedings at the Queen of Hoxton (Shoreditch) is Woody Allen's award winning fantasy rom com 'Midnight in Paris' on Monday 1st July. Fancy something with a bit more bite? How about a special Hitchcock double bill with the seminal 'Psycho' on Sunday 14th July and then discover more about the legendary filmmaker and the making of this very film with 'Hitchcock' on Monday 15th July.
 Add to this a whole host of movie greats including 'Big', 'Coming to America', 'Memento', 'Meet the Parents', 'Moon', 'Tyrannosaur', 'Silver Linings Playbook', and 'The Wrestler'.
South of the river at their brand new venue at the historic Bussey Building (Peckham Rye) the film fun continues. Ooh where do we start? How about the return of some absolute Rooftop classics including 'Reservoir Dogs', 'Labyrinth', 'Dr. Strangelove', 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off', 'Top Gun', 'The Goonies', 'Argo', 'Trance', 'Back to the Future', 'Life is Beautiful' and, finally, a special Independence Day screening of 'Team America: World Police' on Thursday 4th July. 'Matt Damon'!
Don't forget the new Bussey Rooftop Bar is open to everyone from 6pm whether you're a cinema goer or not. Head down early to enjoy the phenomenal 360º panoramic views of London and enjoy all manner of drinks and cocktails and experience the bold, fresh flavours of California-style burritos and mouth watering goodness from the Caribbean BBQ.
If that's not enough, July also see's the return of their much-loved Chick Flick Tuesday screenings in association with Chambord. The stellar line-up includes 'Flashdance' (There'll be dancing in the aisles for this one!),'Mean Girls', 'Casablanca', 'Blue Valentine', 'The Devil Wears Prada', 'Amelie', 'Grease 2' and 'Bridesmaids'. A whole month of Chick Flick heaven.

Their big screen, high quality wireless headphones and comfy chairs mean you can sit back, relax and experience film like never before in these completely unique urban environments.
This summer has already seen over 50 sold out screenings, so don't miss your chance to get tickets for the ultimate film experience at a rooftop near you.
Queen of Hoxton, Shoreditch
Courtesy of RoofTop Film Club

QUEEN OF HOXTON, SHOREDITCHTickets: £12.00 for adults
Screening: 5 nights a week – Until September 2013
Times: Doors: 8pm. Screening: Around 9pm
Plus: The newly refurbished Queen of Hoxton Rooftop Bar & Kitchen
Nearest Tube/Rail: Old Street/ Liverpool Street/ Shoreditch High Street
Rooftop Film Club @ Queen of Hoxton: 1 – 5 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3JX

BUSSEY BUILDING, PECKHAM RYETickets: £12.00 for adults
Screening: 5 nights a week – Until September 2013
Times: Doors: 6pm. Screening: Around 9pm
Plus: The new Rooftop Bar & Kitchen serving all manner of fresh food and drinks
Nearest Tube/Rail: Peckham Rye rail station
Rooftop Film Club @ Bussey Building: 133 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Like Someone In Love. Abbas Kiarostami. Film release 21 June in London etc...

Courtesy of New Wave Films

Like Someone In Love. Abbas Kiarostami. France/Japan 2012/ 109 mins / Japanese with English subtitles/ Certificate TBC

For 40 years, Abbas Kiarostami made films in his home country. He is now restricted to film abroad because of Iranian censorship. Like Someone In Love was shot in Tokyo in Japanese with a Japanese cast. Akiko, a sociology female student works as an escort while her controlling boyfriend Noriaki wants to marry her so she will have to answer his questions and stop lying. Meanwhile, Takashi, an old professor in sociology hires her services.
A hushed backdrop, the first Wong Kar-waian “aquarium” scene starts in the high class escort bar where clients and escort women sip Italian wine. A conversation is heard and we search for a while which lips move at the speed of the conversation. In vain. Like an imposing radio playing in the background, the jealous boyfriend wants to know how many tiles are in the bathroom...
The camera now shows Akiko in conversation with her pimp who is quite concerned about her oppressing boyfriend and suggests she breaks up. He wants her to visit a client but she would like to see her grandmother who has come to Tokyo to see her and she has exams to study for. The pimp insists on her visiting this special client. Akiko, played elegantly by unknown actress Rin Takanashi, is Lost in Translation. Too young perhaps to make the right decisions and too oppressed by her pimp to be easily convinced.
On her way to this special client, Akiko listens to her grandmother messages in the taxi. The last message says that she will be waiting at the foot of the statue by the train station. This beautiful Night On Earth scene when the taxi goes twice around the statue to witness her grandmother waiting faithfully is highly moving and powerful.  
Arriving at Takashi’s house, Akiko inspects the books, the photos, the first “western” Japanese painting like an animal investigating a space for the first time. Takashi is no pervert and is willing to revive his youth while hoping to dine quietly with Akiko listening to some jazz music...

Like Someone in Love is a “slow” film shot in a high speed city, subtly avoiding the clichés of that specific city. Most of the scenes are shot within a restricted space: cars, neighbour’s window, bar, apartment, garage. A game of reverberation, mirroring and shadows interfere within that confined space. A space within a space where solitude meets and friction bursts. What transpires mostly is the by proxy meeting between youth and wise age. Akiko might have missed her grand-mother, but she soon realises that as a young person away from home, she finds refuge in an exotic home: distance of roots makes it easier to confide to a wise person who does not judge but listens.
This is a fine Abbas Kiarostami “opus”: a strange and mysterious film extracting beauty without giving any sense. A life in suspension that is a life anywhere in the world but filmed in exile. Now, Abbas is deeply rooted and does not need watering. However, one has to admire the pain it must be to re-start again all over with different codes even though the underlying subject(s) are universal. No one bends a wise tree, but no tree should be displaced against its will.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Withnail & Me: The Finale. Photography exhibition by Murray Close. Proud Camden. From 20 June to 1 September.

Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant, Our heroes relax, Sleddale Hall, 1986
© Murray Close
Can I work here?” “We need ushers” “When can I start?” “Next Monday, come earlier, and I’ll tell you what to do”. I went to the Riverside Studios toilets and looked up my dictionary. I had no idea what usher meant. A year later, I told Ed Lewis, Cinema Director that I wanted to be his assistant. “Follow my shadow” and he introduced me as his assistant to everybody who already knew me. He insisted on the right pronunciation of my name “not the English way!” After Hal Hartley’s Amateur preview in the (late) Lumière Cinema in WC2 (not the French Institute) - “How come you are a nymphomaniac if you’ve never had sex? – I’m very choosy!” Ed decided that writing film summaries for the booklet was also part of my job. Scary but a boost of confidence.
Then the law came up about banning smoking in offices in 1998: “if they don’t want me to smoke in the office, they will have to set it up outside because I will always be outside smoking and unable to work”. He was a pain in the ass, but a real sweet pain. And then after months (years?) of harassing him to take his portrait (he eventually chose one to “publicise” his breathing out for ever), one morning I turned up with my Minolta. “What do I do?” he said. “Try to work for once and forget I am here” He laughed like a drain. “It’s hard to forget about you, you are just standing on my desk with a glued camera on your eye. I will read my posts then... Boring... boring... boring... hand written. Oooh! Richmond. Richard E. Grant.” Richard E. Grant appreciated Ed Lewis’ support for showing monthly or bi-monthly WITHNAIL AND I & How To Get Ahead in Advertising as part of Riverside Studios double bill film programme. Ed was deeply moved.

Proud Camden is pleased to present Withnail & Me: The Finale. Taken by photographer Murray Close, from Camden to Cumbria, this collection of iconic shots and selected unseen prints make up a true celebration of the 80s cult classic ‘Withnail & I’.
In Bruce Robinson’s devilishly quotable and quaffable classic, unemployed actors Withnail and Marwood (Richard E Grant and Paul McGann) decide to leave their squalid Camden flat for an idyllic holiday in the countryside, courtesy of Withnail's uncle Monty's (Richard Griffiths) country cottage. However, their plans for a period of relaxation and indulgence are thwarted, by their inability to cope with ghastly weather, frosty locals and the advances of Monty himself.
First call for the world’s most influential film makers and directors, Murray Close was invited to shoot the cast and crew during filming in 1986. The resulting images are a joyous and revealing collection; single shots astutely summarising the weight and comedy of popular skits, and familiar characters caught off camera between scenes. Revisit the pair’s fateful trip to the Penrith tea rooms, Uncle Monty’s sermon on “flora or fauna” and Withnail’s dramatic culinary attempts in the woods with little more than a pair of underpants and a rifle.
Over twenty five years since ‘Withnail & I’ first graced our cinema screens and following the sad passing of actor Richard Griffiths (Withnail’s infamous Uncle Monty), Proud Camden pays tribute to the script, the actors and the photographer behind one of the most iconic films of the 20th century.

As a great fan of WITHNAIL and I, a BFI worker gave me the “lyrics” book that was released with one of Sight and Sound issue in 1995. Every morning, I read a few lines while drinking my coffee: “You want me to call what’s his name and ask him about his house? – Why not – All right, what’s his number?” As for the film, not only cult but also a hilarious road movie, I watch it many times per year. There is not one boring shot or one boring scene and almost each single line is witty. It actually takes a few viewings to unearth some treasure “quotations”. And of course, Jimmy Hendrix is the guest musician while the film pays a discreet tribute to John Lennon. Funnily enough, years before seeing the film, I drove to Cumbria and spent weeks in a remote 1500 castle that bore the same weather and the same views. I walked the dog all day long with a camera glued to my eye. I loved the journey, the place, and the nothingness. Murray Close’s photography still images complete this admirable film.

Murray Close
Internationally renowned photographer Murray Close began his film career working on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. With this introduction he quickly made a name for himself and went on to be first call for the world's most influential film-makers, creating some of cinema's most iconic images. Iconic images of Mission: Impossible, Indiana Jones, three Harry Potter films, Jurassic Park, Batman, several Clint Eastwood movies, a number of Clive Barker horror movies, Hope and Glory and ‘Withnail and I’ were all taken by Murray. During the mid 1970s he expanded his photographic skills to capture some of the great names from the emerging music scene whilst continuing to forge strong links with the film community. Being Spielberg and Eastwood's photographer in Europe it was clear that new frontiers had to be conquered and he moved from England to Los Angeles in 1991. It was here that he set up his studio and fine tuned his love of portraiture. In 2001 Close felt it was time to up root again and this time he set up his studio in Prague, a city he first visited in 1983. In Prague he also designed and established a film laboratory specializing in providing services to movies shooting on location in central Europe.
An approach from Warner Bros gave him the opportunity to shoot 3 Harry Potter movies and it was in this period that he set up a complete digital 'in house' facility for 'Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire. He was quick to embrace the new world of digital photography but is quick to add that he often returns to one of his great camera love affairs, the Fuji 680 and the Hasselblad Xpan, both firmly rooted in 'the old school' ways.
In 2007 he was asked by the Camerimage Film festival in Poland to shoot portraits of the visiting Cinematographers and returned to London to open his acclaimed exhibition of seldom seen art from 'Withnail and I' celebrating the film's 20th Anniversary at London's BFI in conjunction with a Radio 4 documentary, 'The Reunion'.
Proud Galleries (with galleries in Chelsea and Camden) began their representation of Close in 2009 with 2 hit exhibitions in 2009 and 2010.


Dates: 20th June – 1st September 2013. Monday to Sunday: 11am – 5pm. Entry Free. Address: The Horse Hospital Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

PEACHES & CREAM III CALL FOR ENTRIES. International Photography Competition.

They're back with a third helping of Peaches & Cream!

This will be the third year of Peaches & Cream Photography competition, exhibition and award. The aim of the competition is to host a platform for the exposure of new photographic talents. They received over 2,600 image entries last year, resulting in the selection of work by eleven very diverse photographers for the exhibition.

In addition to the cash amount the winners are also offered 3 year contracts with Millennium and have a strong possibility of seeing their work used on a book cover by one of Millennium’s clients.

Prizes include:

- Three years contract with Millennium Images

- £750 Cash Prize

- Exhibition in Central London at Dreamspace in October 2013

- £250 Special Graduate Award

Submit a series of 3-10 images suitable for a book cover or hanging on a gallery wall.

Entries: Now - 20 July 2012

£10 to 12 July, £20 from 13 July - 20 July

To apply for the competition go on and follow the simple instruction.

Millennium Images is a photographic agency based in Hackney, London, dedicated to providing clients with some of the world’s best imagery for today’s most exciting publications. Milim Gallery is the online print sales gallery launched by Millennium Images. Find Millennium Images and Milim Gallery online at and     For more information contact

Monday, 17 June 2013

Blumenfeld Studio: 1941-1960. Photography exhibition. Somerset House. East Wing Galleries. Until 1 September 2013.

Grace Kelly 1955 for Cosmopolitan ©The Estate
of Erwin Blumenfeld
It is in La casa de Luza that I discovered the art déco-fashion illustrations and other artworks of Reynaldo Luza between 2006 and 2008, thanks to my neighbour, and a relative to the artist. In 1918 Luza left his South American native country for New York, where he contributed drawings to several fashion publications: Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, and Vanity Fair. In 1921 he joined Harpers Bazaar as the principal fashion artist (and art director), a position he was to hold for 27 years. He created the term “Cholo Pink” in the fashion industry, in reference to the colours of the Andes, el fuscia serrano. He travelled extensively to Europe, mainly Paris and London as he worked along with Patou, Worth, Redfern, Martial et Amand, Chanel, Vionnet, Molyneux, Schiaparelli, Hartnell, Steibel, and Balenciaga amongst others. He helped many photographers like Jean Moral (whose daughter I met many times in Paris between 2009-2011) to work for Harpers Bazaar. Whether Luza knew Cecil Beaton and gave German born Erwin Blumenfeld an opportunity to work for HB when Erwin fled Paris in 1941, I don’t know but it seems quite likely.
Until the 1 Septembre, Somerset House’s East Wing is sheltering the valuable photography work of Erwin Blumenfeld; Blumenfeld Studio: 1941-1960.
Support for the Red Cross for the cover of American
Vogue March 1945 ©The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld
Artist-Fashion photographer Erwin Blumenfeld was the most famous, innovative and highly paid image creator between 1940 and 1950 for Harpers Bazaar and Vogue. Sadly, all his photos faded with time and it took four years to the Musée Nicéphore-Niépce (in France) in order to revive successfully his precious work thanks to digital technology.
Blumenfeld was a precursor in colour photography, a virtuoso in compositions and visual experimentations and yet he considered himself an amateur: “I was an amateur. I am an amateur. And I intend to stay an amateur. To me, an amateur photographer is one of who is in love with taking pictures, a free soul who can photograph what he likes and who likes what he photographs. By that definition, I am an amateur, so that is the definition that I accept. Currently, I am absorbed in magazines and advertising illustration, and I remain as true an amateur as when I was 10. The wonder that the camera can really reproduce anything shown to it still astounds me; and I am strongly determined to show the lens a more exciting, dramatic and beautiful way of representing life” Erwin Blumenfeld. Popular Photography - 1948.
Influenced by the 1930 European Avant-Garde, Surrealists and Dadaists, Blumenfeld doesn’t hesitate to juxtapose superimposition, montage, “split personalities”, mirrors, off-centre or diagonally framed shots when he was supposed to highlight the elegance of dresses, hats, make-up and jewels. A visage that is both facing and profiled. A four armed woman with a glove on each arm. A see-through red cross and an opaque woman holding it. An eye-a-mouth-and-a-beauty-spot. A real mink dressed in diamond jewels. A red mouth sticking out of a shadow. A black woman model. Most probably the first in the fashion industry in 1958. There are of course some more standard shots like the ones with Grace Kelly, Evelyn Tripp or Lilian Macusson. The shots that also drew my attention were the ones “undated””untitled”, most probably taken in his free time to experiment new visions.
Lilian Macusson for the cover of American Vogue
January 1951 ©The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

No matter his approach to his subject matters, Erwin Blumenfeld’s images are sophisticated with a hint of subtle erotism. He created a sensual but inaccessible woman. He liked her eyes, her hair, her breasts, her mouth. He loved them all but somehow they are as distant as a dream, as a shadow or a myth. “In starting a sitting, first I must have an idea of what I’m trying to do. Many times of the first exposure I make is far away from my goal; the second better and so on throughout the whole until the last negative – there is the picture! If it takes six exposures to reach this point, I make six exposures. If it takes 20, 20 I make. But I always keep working up to the climax of what I visualised in the first place.” Erwin Blumenfeld. Commercial Camera – 1948.
The exhibition features over 90 original modern prints fully restored in colour, original publication clippings and rarely-seen fashion films from the early 60’s and a documentary including Rankin as an interviewee over being influenced by Blumenfeld.
Evelyn Tripp in a Dior Sargent Dress (variant of
photograph in American Vogue November 1949)
©The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld
Somerset House. The Strand. East Wing Galleries. London WC2R 1LA. Free entrance. Open daily from 10am to 6pm. Late night on Thursday until 10pm. Until 1 September. FB = T = @SomersetHouse   

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Kentish Town’s First Ever Carnival Parade & Street Party! June 16th 2013, 11am-7.30pm

Many Cultures One Community? is hosting Kentish Town’s first ever carnival & street party on 16th June 2013. Through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Many Cultures One Community? project aims to bring history to life and joy to the streets… 
The parade begins at Queen's Crescent Library at 11am and will make its way to the street party on Talacre Road. Music starts on the main stage at midday, with fun and activities throughout the afternoon until the final performances at 7.30pm. Join us on the day for a celebration of the Kentish Town community! 
On the day… 
 A Kentish Town Carnival Marquee where Radio 3 DJ Max Reinhardt will be calling on fellow Kentish Towners to bring the 5 tracks that have been significant in their lives. He will then play them in his 'Tracks of Your Years' slot
An Instant Orchestra conducted by Rob Worby and compered by Max Reinhardt
A Fun Art Bus brought along by alternative theatre pioneer and founder of the City Farm movement, Ed Berman 
A dance workshop run by the London Swing Society, from 2-4pm
A main stage featuring a line-up of bands and live acts including Hamptons, Seamus Foggerty and Jibba Jabba, the Kentish Town Troupe Workshop, plus spoken word artists and martial artists
A mini film festival including submissions to the Kentish Town Kaleidoscope Film Competition – which will be judged by local filmmakers, with prizes awarded on the day
A selection of food & craft stalls  

How can people take part? 

Bring 5 favourite tracks for Max Reinhardt to play in his ‘Tracks of Your Years’ slot (tracks brought on an ipod, CDR or memory stick are all welcome)
Bring an instrument to play in the Kentish Town Instant Orchestra
Help to steward – and get a free lunch!
Hold a stall
Come along on the day and enjoy! 

Sara is looking for people with a talent for filming to come and help her gather footage. You can contact her = Sara Newman,, 07792 143 296

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Vibrators, Peter Gabrielle and The Stranglers’ guitarist JOHN ELLIS to open Electric Kitsch. Saturday 15 June

Saturday 15 June @ 1.15pm, John Ellis will be performing some tunes for the opening of Electric Kitsch.

But what is Electric Kitsch? EK is a brand new creative shop in London’s East End sheltering emerging and more established designers from Hackney as well as across London. The brainchild of London craft scene stalwarts Vixie, Caroline and Fabrice. It will be opening with a showcase party on Saturday 15th June, at its new home on the Village Green in Hackney Downs Studios. The Electric Kitsch three Musketeers have selected items from 30 exciting up-and-coming designer-makers and vintage curators. The privilege local crowd and tourists (off Hackney) who are looking for unique and great value gifts will be delighted to find original jewels, exclusive T.Shirts, cool sunglasses (summer on its way), amazing kitchen glass plates and much more retro-contemporary pieces.

The venue itself has been given over to local artists as a community gallery/shop space, and the shop will take advantage of its great location for a 12 week period, to be extended.

Co-founder Caroline said of the idea: “Vixie, Fabrice and I have been sharing stalls together for some time, at regular craft markets in Tooting and Camden. When the opportunity came along to develop this new venture we just couldn’t resist. We’re hoping to bring together a community of local designer-makers, as well as local shoppers, and to bring new people to the area. We are hosting creative talents and we are featuring their illustrations, paintings, clothes, jewellery, accessories and vintage homeware”.

An all day opening party this Saturday 15th June 2013 will celebrate the hard work of all involved in setting up Electric Kitsch. Shoppers are invited to come along to browse the new space, as well as enjoy cupcakes and tunes from guitarist JOHN ELLIS of The Vibrators, Peter Gabrielle and The Stranglers from 1.15pm.

Come and say hello from 11am on Saturday 15th June 2013 until late.

Electric Kitsch is open from 12pm to 5pm Wednesdays to Sundays, with extra long opening hours on Thursdays from 12pm till 9pm @ Unit 7, Amhurst Terrace, Hackney Down Studios, E8 2BT, London.


to view the map, click here

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Monday, 10 June 2013

Rachid Taha & Souad Massi @ Barbican. 22 June. Part of Shubak Festival.

Souad Massi © Bellaiche

Rachid Taha-Zoom1 © Marc-Antoine Serra

Shubak Festival - 16 COUNTRIES, 15 DAYS, 9 EXIBITIONS, over 5O EVENTS celebrating LONDON CONTEMPORARY ARAB ARTS – opens with a double bill bringing together two of Algerian’s most outspoken musical rebels.
A rocking dervish with a spirit tinged by oriental sensuality, rock’n raï icon Rachid Taha made a much awaited comeback in March with his ninth studio album ZOOM, recorded with guests including Mick Jones of The Clash, Brian Eno, Fashion icon Agnès B, footballer icon Eric Cantona and Justin Adams for its production.
Soulfoull yet steely-songwriter Souad Massi has been hailed as Maghreb’s Tracy Chapman. Fusing everything from chaâbi to American Folk rock and Portuguese fado while mixing electric and acoustic instruments with haunting vocals, Souad’s melancholic ballads bear the imprint of Algeria’s troubled recent past.
Thanks to Wrasse Records, BLO managed to ask a few questions as we were happy to hear through these 12 songs that Rachid didn’t seem to calm down “I remember you in the 80’s with Carte de Séjour. You were quite a révolutionnaire and a provocateur in the world of chanson française. Especially with Charles Trenet cover version of Douce France. Are you today more of a settled provocateur?” ”An artist is always a provocateur and as far as I am concerned, I will never settled”. “You have gathered some famous names for ZOOM. Could you describe how you felt?” “When the musicians, artists and producer said they would participate to the album and during the process of recording… it was for me intense moments of happiness. Unforgettable”. “You have recorded some of your albums with London based musicians, artists and producers. You have played in London many times. What is so good about London?” “London is the lung of rock’n roll. The music is deeply linked with this city.”
Xtra info = early 80’s, the association SOS Racism was set up as racism was rising in France. Carte de Séjour started slightly before that and Douce France (86) was a mockery to the French establishment. The song itself was written in 1943 by Charles Trenet to depict a lost France. A country that used to be so nice but implied was changing in a bad way. Rachid Taha and his band challenged Charles Trenet with his own song as to claim France as their country as well and they added instruments and rhythms from their country of origin. If in UK, people remember David Bowie in 1972 @ TOTP as acceptance of individuality, in France, we remember Taha and Co as an acceptance to the other one (“The Stranger”).
The festival Shubak will pursue its journey until the 6th of July and will showcase films, concerts, plays, talks and family events @ Barbican Centre, the British Museum, Tate Modern, The Mosaic Rooms, Arab British Centre, Asia House, ICA, Serpentine Gallery, Rich Mix and the London College of Fashion.
Barbican for Rachid Taha and Souad Massi =
Shubak Festival =