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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Brazil in London = CRANIO'S SPECIAL' SHOW ALL TOGETHER FOR A DAY ONLY. Thursday 29th August 6-9pm @ Fun Factory, E2

Courtesy of Cranio

Fabio Oliveira AKA Cranio (Skull) grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. @ 16, Cranio started to “tattoo” the walls of his city.
His humoristic work lures the observer and hopefully makes him/her think about contemporary issues like consumerism, identity, corruption and environment.

Cranio is inspired by cartoons and Salvador Dali. A British collector says “Cranio has developed a unique and significant group of characters who do not are only vibrating, but also please to be seen. Furthermore, the images created by him always pass a message of important concepts we often forget in our lives. These set of qualities is what makes his art excellent to appreciate and great to think and philosophize.

Our Brazilian artist has been working hard while in London from small pieces to large elaborate murals, his bright blue rainforest Indians have been partying across a multitude of surfaces in town.

He also has been busy in the studio working on a very limited series of heavily hand painted prints. They are some of the most exciting pieces that Cranio has given the chance to show all together, for one night only before they go back to their new owners.

Come and join in celebrating Cranio's Brazilian art as his time in London draws to an end and he heads off on a European invasion, second stop: Bella Barcelona.

Fun Factory
133-135 Bethnal Green Road, 
London, E2 7DG

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

London Analogue Festival 2013: celebrating analogue photography, film and sound art. Saturday 7th - Sunday 8th September 2013 in South East London

Retro on the Cutting Edge. London, United Kingdom – In an era when digital technologies are ubiquitous, the first London Analogue Festival (LAF) will celebrate the beauty, power, and aesthetics that come from analogue technologies. On Saturday the 7th and Sunday the 8th of September 2013, the festival will draw together international artists for a weekend of live performances, talks, and exhibitions in South East London.
A diverse range of analogue moving images, photography and sound art will be showcased. Encouraging participation, the LAF will offer workshops, discussions, and networking opportunities. These and door prizes will be offered in collaboration with festival partners, including Lomography, Fotosynthesis, Silverprint, The Impossible Project, Moo Cards, and Room 66.
The venues will provide perfect settings for analogue’s richness. Events will be held in historic Deptford’s most iconic venues, including The Old Police Station, Deptford Town Hall, and the Amersham Arms.
With no entry fee, first London Analogue Festival will give all Londoners a chance to discover – or rediscover – analogue, to meet artists, explore the intersection of technology and our senses, and develop new skills.

I asked LAF people to tell me about the “return” of the analogue era. Here is their manifesto:

“This is what we believe analogue to be and why it is important to preserve it.

- Analogue is alluring. Its products gain depth through the less predictable yield of its alchemy.
- Analogue is intimate. It allows artists to have a more authentic and physical relationship with making art.
- Analogue is hand made. It highlights the skilful craftsmanship, the human centred creativity that helps give the artist's life meaning.
- Analogue is patience. Analogue is slowness, attentiveness and contemplation. It does not conform to the impatience users increasingly experience with digital technology (the ‘tyranny of the email’ for example) and constant pressure to upgrade and keep up to date.
- Analogue is unique. It allows imperfection and thrives on the accidental: distortion, repetition, amplified crackles, rumbles and echoes. Analogue is more than the filters that are electronically placed over digital media that can be endlessly reproduced.
- Analogue is instructive. By learning the skills of analogue, one can easily apply these to other artistic media, including digital.
- Analogue is ephemeral. Fragile in a sense, unique and exclusive. A physical original is not widely available in our age of the internet.
- Analogue is lasting. A digital camera has a limited lifespan, whereas an analogue model can last for centuries.”

Impossible Project, Lomography and Fotosynthesis will all be hosting workshops.

My diary indicates in hand written... one direction for the 7 and 8 of September = London Analogue Fetsival! And it is FREE!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

IN THE FOG (V Tumane). A film by Sergei Loznitsa. A New Wave Films’ DVD release: 26th August 2013

IN THE FOG (V Tumane). A film by Sergei Loznitsa
Courtesy of New Wave Films

IN THE FOG (V Tumane). A film by Sergei Loznitsa. A New Wave Films’ DVD release: 26th August 2013

Germany / Russia / Latvia / Belarus 2012 / 128min / Russian with English subtitles / Colour

Sergei Loznitsa is somehow a human representation of the Eastern bloc: Ukrainian film maker, born in Belarus, raised in Kiev, based in Germany.
1942, Belarus in under the hands of the Nazis. Sushenya and three other men are accused of a rail tracks sabotage. They are to be hung, but Sushenya won’t be.

A long takes - slow burning film set in a cold haunting foggy forest with hunting memories. Sushenya is free but accused of collaboration. Even his wife will say she wished he had died.

One night, Burov and Voitik will come to execute him. The three men embark on a journey through the forest where fate changes its course and their moral is challenged. Despite Sushenya being ready to die... yet again, In The Fog portrays three men dealing with ethical choices, memories, stories, truth and treason surrounded with nature sounds, breathing and minimalist dialogues. Each man in their silent pilgrim pierces the film with their “no one is innocent” flashbacks set within the context of an extreme situation that is a war.

These men are navigating into the clair-obscure of their own state of mind or the forest, confronting themselves secretly in their own paradoxes. Baudelaire’s Every Man His Chimera comes to mind with a slight change of décor – “they journeyed onwards with the resigned faces of men condemned to hope for ever”. The journey comes to an end, the fog has thickened, and the resistant fighter strikes his only hope.

FIPRESCI Award Cannes 2012
Golden Apricot, Yerevan Film Festival
Best Film, Odessa International Film Festival
Grand Prix, Andrei Tarkovsky International Film Festival

The DVD and Blu-ray will also contain the short film Letter by Sergei Loznitsa

AVAILABLE ON DVD AND BLU RAY. BBFC:  12. CATALOGUE NO:    DVD: NW050  SRP:   £15. 99. BLU-RAY: NWB052         SRP      £19.99

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Courtesy State Russian Library

In the 70’s, as a child I had three dreams. To visit or live in New York. To travel around USSR. To go to the moon. So far... I've reached the cosmos from time to time... And I went to GRAD! Enjoy J


SEE USSR deals with the flipside of Russian propaganda, showing a very different aspect of the country to that generally recognised. This is a Soviet Union at rest and at play, a country of leisure, comfort and luxury – the USSR through the looking glass.

These posters contradict the image normally conjured up by the Western mind, transforming the communist land into a tourist haven, and showcasing the pre-war Soviet Union as an earthly paradise. Refuting the widespread belief that Stalin’s Soviet Union was a country almost completely closed to foreigners, SEE USSR reveals the advertising created through economic necessity in the 1930s by Intourist, the organization responsible for foreign tourism. Extending the usual remit of the propaganda poster, these dramatic images, many in the Art Deco style, were NOT employed to educate the Bolshevik masses, but INSTEAD were extended to foreigners in an attempt to draw in funds desperately needed for industrialisation. Demonstrating the cultural bureaucracy’s intention to restrict the function of art to propaganda above all else, these compelling and beautiful graphic artworks nevertheless take their place in the great legacy of Russia’s artistic history


till 31 AUGUST 2013
3-4a Little Portland Street
London W1W 7JB
Free Entrance

Monday, 19 August 2013

Ian Dury: More Than Fair – Paintings, Drawings and Artworks, 1961–1972. Royal College of Art. Until 1 September.

Photo by Darren Gerrish

On my return to London, the first reflex was to buy the Bible Time Out and check the names of those gods responsible for my past subscriptions to this weekly magazine: Geoff Andrews, Laura Lee Davies, Dave Swindells, Gary Mulholand, Pat Callaghan (Photography Editor) and more.
These days, only Lee’s name appears as a Contributing Editor, and she has just made a writing appearance about Ian DuryMore Than Fair exhibition. I obviously had to see the exhibition! Visit planned: 9th of August.
6th of August: I go to D’Arblay Street, W1 for Pat CollinsSilence private screening. Am blown!
7th of August: after a few unanswered emails despite long term collaboration, the PR guy tells me he had to send materials to many important journalists and I was not his priority on that occasion “I like the way you preview but you are only a blog. Try not to take it personally!” Another PR asks me to check the photo credits on FB and suggests putting more photos on blog for the piece I wrote for “her” artist. “What’s wrong with the credits I put?” I asked. She doesn’t know: “I haven’t checked. It is very important for artists that their names appear” “Why don’t you check and come back to me if I have to change something as I always offer?
The day goes on like that and so does the 8th! I write a few emails to a restricted circle of friends and journalists. Am going to stop the blog. I only get some crap from those PRs and I don’t even get paid for it. Bloggers are beggars!

9th of August: I feel like staying in bed all day. But Lee wrote up! And Ian was always up until he dropped. Got on 38 bus on a bleeding grey day. Can’t get a seat at the front top deck and worse... I have to sit next to a common of the mortals. Piccadilly. 9 bus to RCA. Identical scenario. RCA. The room is full of bright prints, paintings, drawings. Ian Dury was more famous for his music - Sex and Drug and Rock N Roll and Hit me with your Rhythm Sticks even though he started in his latish 30’s in the late 70’s when he became famous as the lead singer of Ian Dury and the Blockheads.
Dury first studied Painting at Walthamstow School of Art and then at the RCA between 1963 and 1966 and was taught by the artist Sir Peter Blake. During his time at the College, Dury developed a unique Pop style that combined text, bold colour and photorealist elements to reference a growing culture of music and celebrity.

According to Robert Upstone, director of the Fine Art Society and curator of last year’s 175th anniversary exhibition at the College which featured Dury’s work, his “use of textual and photorealist elements, and his incorporation of celebrities, singers or showgirls, ally his pictures with major Pop proponents such as Peter Blake and Joe Tilson.”

Seeing the way Dury painstakingly assembled the sequins, put together the letters and wrote notes with specific requirements for his print’s frames shows me how dedicated, determined and obsessed he must have been to return to his canvas again and again. The young lady who looks after the exhibition's room asks me nicely if I am a member of Press. My day is brightening up with the whole experience. She advises me to write to Ian’s daughter, Jemima, who curated the show, so I could interview her.

On the bus, still no front seats available, to a WIFI station. Email 1 = “don’t get discouraged. Your blog is new and you have lots of readers. Talk about things you like and work with people who respect you.” Email 2 = “times are hard, one must go on”. Email 3 = “that PR is a real cunt. Don’t beg him. Some of them just want to control everything, especially “smaller” publications. Also, things have changed; organisations employ a young PR who is underpaid and does the job of five persons. I get that too and I work for “recognised” publications. Keep going even if you get a year older on Monday ;)” Emails 4 & 5 are people who have sent me a Press Release without me asking (cool, they want me to look/listen at/to their works). Email 6 = “Thanks BabyLondonOrbital. I am glad you liked Silence. Best. Pat”. “Dear Jemima,...”

Saturday 17th August, 11am @ RCA with Jemima Dury. I was wondering why it took so long to have a first solo exhibition of your father and why wasn’t it possible to exhibit his work before his death (in 2000 from cancer aged 57)?

When my father started to write songs and make music in 1971 with Kilburn & The High Roads, his focus was only in music. It is time consuming to paint, especially that he toured a lot at first. When you paint, you have to concentrate. You can’t start a painting, go on tour and go back to your canvas. Plus, he didn’t think he was good at painting or drawing, so he put all his work in boxes and nobody even knew there was so much work.

How did you discover his work then?

A few years ago. I was researching for a book I was to publish ("Hallo Sausages", The Lyrics of Ian Dury) and there were references to his paintings. So, I went to a huge storage and found lots of boxes and discovered his work I had never seen. I discovered another side of my father. Three or four years ago, I was thinking of exhibiting his work and at the very same time, Kosmo Vinyl (ex The Clash Manager- at times) had found the LP cover of Vera Lynn’s The Wonderful Vera and was wondering if there was more work. Then Kosmo got involved with famed graphic designer Jules Balme and we started the process of contacting different exhibitions places. The RCA responded immediately and it made sense to have a show of my dad’s work here.

The RCA was pivotal in Dury’s life “I spent two years trying to get in. It’s the only achievement I've ever felt, a bit like going to the university of your choice. I’m really pleased I went there, I’m proud of it. I wouldn't have been able to learn about how to live as a person doing what they want to do if I hadn't gone there, allowing your determination and output to control the way things go – my nine and my five.” Ian graduated in 1966 and in 1967 he was a featured artist in the ICA’s group show Fantasy & Figuration. After the Royal College of Art, Ian had some success as a freelance illustrator, working for amongst others, The Sunday Times and London Life magazines. He also designed album covers for Vera Lynn and Frank Sinatra.

Do you think there is more work and how did you contact collectors and owners of your father’s work if you didn’t know about his paintings?

I placed an appeal in the Evening Standard and people replied. Other pieces have been loaned by auction houses such as Christie's or independent dealers. Yesterday, someone lent us these three new prints for the exhibitions: Leda & the Buzzards. I am sure there are more to discover.

I know financial support for the free exhibition has been provided by Robbie Williams, Demon Records, the Royal College of Art, and through a Kickstarter campaign which raised donations from hundreds of fans and members of the public as well as the actor Andy Serkis, who played Dury in the biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010). I am intrigued by Robbie Williams.

Robbie has a real kind heart. He didn’t hesitate when we approached him. My father was really involved with Unicef although he didn’t think that such charity organisations should exist. He thought it was a matter of the government to deal with those issues. Two years before his death, my dad asked Robbie to be an ambassador for Unicef. They both campaigned for Polio awareness (Ian was disabled by polio when he was seven), especially in Africa and had an injection. Robbie is also a big fan of my father’s music.

Would you like the exhibition to tour?

Not just now. Maybe in a year time. It would be nice for people to have my dad’s artwork back to their home. They were really generous to lend us the pieces. Plus, it is also a lot of work to organise and I have three young children – 10, 8 and 5 years old. It would be unfair on them.

As children (Jemima and Baxter) of a famous person who toured a lot in the world, did you see him a lot?

There was some anger. He missed appointments and we missed him terribly. But he was a good influence because he gave us a different view of life and we learnt about shapes, colours and being critical. But sometimes he was also a child when things did not go well. This is what you have to deal with creative/artist people.

Was it a catharsis to unearth his visual work? Did it help to resolve something?

Yes. Definitely. I understand now through his art what kind of person he was truly. How much he gave to people and why he had to be an artist more than anything else. Today, I am a custodian of his art. And I feel really privileged.  

To commemorate the exhibition Sir Peter Blake has produced a limited edition print of Ian which can be purchased for £200 with proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Care, Graeae Theatre and Kids Co. There are also three fine art giclee prints of Ian’s original paintings available for £75 each. For print enquiries visit:

Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU
23 July–1 September 2013
Open 11am–6pm, Sundays, 12–5pm. Closed Mondays.
Free Admission

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Hackney Wicked Art Festival. Today and tomorrow in Hackney Wick. E9. Various venues around

Courtesy of Fantich and Young

Six years ago, I was “lost” either in the Amazonia, the Andes or in Barranco. Last year, should have been my first ever of WickED festival... but Olympics oblige!
2013 sees the return of a 3-day Hackney WickED Art Festival! The Olympic dust has settled. Life has returned to normal (as normal as it gets) in the Wick.
In its 6th year, Hackney WickED remains dedicated to providing a platform for artists to showcase their work alongside established and international names. Championing creativity through Exhibitions, Open Studios, Film, Music, Fête for the WickED, Workshops, Artists Talks and Critical Debates. The festival is open to kids and adults.
I sent my blog to the WickED people like kind of things. Replied. Invited me to the Friday preview. Went there with absolute no expectation on a 276 bus. Ended up in zigzag streets within an industrial environment and some highways around. As I ventured through the microcosm habitable warehouses, I came across "we hate the Olympics" signs, Bridget Riley studio and more agreeable sights. Further down the road is Forman Fish Island where I am on the press list. I supposed it was a pond with a stinky fishery above and some kind of arty farty around... holyhellIthought! A magnificent building very chic indeed. Salmon toasts as petits fours and decent drinks. Within this collective exhibition, I am drawn to Apex Predator and  to Mascot by Fantich & Young, to Paulina Otylie Surys’s I WAnT To L oOK bEAUtIFUL wHEN I Am DeAD... and Decoupling; a sculpture performance. While I wait for the piece to be active, I emotionally visit around the area where the festival spreads. Emotionally, as I lived for some time in a Hackney warehouse before shooting off to Latin America. The Stour Space Counter Cafe is a place to go. It has already sold a few art pieces and I will advice to pay a great attention to Teddy Baden.
Being told that the concrete piece will disintegrate from 8pm, I return to see what I thought was a tribute to Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey. The guy understands why I view his piece that way because of the void, the infinity sensation, the monolith like sculpture, the rocks... but he is also very much focused on space, the space that no longer belongs to space when a building or something has been erected. A space between two spaces that is not included in an architectural construction and “vanishes”. It somehow reminds me of the territory between Ecuador and Peru that the two countries have been fighting for years and that is declared as a no man’s land. His piece is disintegrating and fuming. It is nervously funny, but as I contemplate the piece falling apart, I can view the moment when a building falls down, a monument is taken down, a human being starting to cripple. There is beauty in concrete sadness. From today, people will contemplate the results of disintegration. 

THE DATES: Saturday 17th August 2013 12-6pm; Sunday 18th August 2013 12-6pm

350+ participating artists; 100+ participating open studios; 20+ participating galleries + Food stalls

Hackney WickED has worked closely with authorities to put on a safe, friendly, art-focused event to continue its mission to CELEBRATE ART and SUPPORT COMMUNITY.

Hackney WickED Art Festival Hub will be in Queen’s Yard, Hackney Wick, which will be host of the Buskers Corner Stage sponsored by Crate Brewery; Hackney WickED Head Quarters and Performance Space (HWHQ); Fête for the WickED art market and a variety of pop-up venues serving locally produced food, beers and cider.

Live performance by Sculpture on Sat 17 August at the Glass Factory – RSVP only
Art Roulette: A WickED Game Pop-up at HWHQ, the Glass Factory – Fri 16 Aug 6-9pm
The Tomorrow People 2013 exhibition curated by Elevator Gallery with Hackney WickED, will take place at partner venue Forman’s Fish Island



Hackney WickED maps will be available from the Glass Factory – a brand new venue/art space that has joined Hackney WickED in the celebration of ART for 2013!

HACKNEY WICKED ‘FESTIVAL HUB’ at Queen’s Yard – the epicentre of HWAF13

What you can expect from the Festival Hub from 6pm Friday 16th August onwards…..

Fri 16th 6-9pm, Sat 17th 12-10pm; Sun 18th 12-9pm
Promising a programme of kick-ass artistic and cultural events, Glass Factory will fling its doors wide open for this year’s Hackney WickED and invite the neighbours in, with 3-days of Hackney WickED curated events and the OFFICIAL HACKNEY WICKED BAR… for cocktails & fine things!

FRI 16th August

6pm-9pm Art Roulette at HWHQ with the Glass Factory
ArtRoulette is an independent curatorial concept that challenges the luck of the participants and the artists. Everyone is invited to gamble on the roulette wheel situated amongst artworks that could be yours to keep. The gallery based events feature emerging artists working in diverse mediums; ArtRoulette offers an interactive and fair chance for all partakers to own a unique artwork from talented newcomers.

SAT 17th August

12pm-5pm Steakhouse at Hackney WickED Steakhouse Live has put together a programme of dynamic artists, to deliver a showcase of new and exciting work for Hackney WickED.
5pm-6pm Adam McAlavey ‘The Shrine’ ‘The Shrine’ is a living sculpture/installation. It vacuums the performer into a frozen pose; the vacuum is created by the performers breathing. Adam performed this at the London fetish event Rubber Cult where it attracted worshipers!

6pm-7pm Hitomi Kammai Live painting and video performance "Rain", Music in performance: Hitomi Kammai, Le Phasme  - The combination of a live painting by Hitomi Kammai and a video by Yuko Yama, that shows the rain in Japan that pollutes the ground but still enriches it for a new life.

7pm-8pm Parallel Relay – Glass A site-specific sound and light installation exploring the qualities of glass, by sound artist Esther Ainsworth and light artist Kirsty Dixon.

9pm-10pm Sculpture (Musician, Dan Hayhurst and animator, Reuben Sutherland) generate an unstable agglomerate of post-techno dancefloor mutations, cybernetic electronics, pop, comic strips, mechanical and digital animation, tape loops and computer sequences, heart and head, past and future.

SUN 18h August
12pm-4.30pm /i'klektik/ Hackney WickED is proud to announce a performance cocktail afternoon with a multiform selection of performers curated by Eduard Solaz.
4.30pm-9pm AVTV is a collective of audio/visual artists formed to showcase live cinema, experimental moving image, music and sound art, utilizing projection, LED screens and lighting to present a dynamic live audio/visual experience.

Fate for the WickED

SAT 17th & SUN 18th August

12pm-8pm The annual art market of wondorous things, that this year will include a Graffiti Jam, Site Specific Installations, Cheeky Tiki with a prop sale, performance and surprises throughout the day.

Artists include:
Adam McAlavey, Andrea Schoenborn, Billy AB, Bonzo, David Sailsbury, Box Head, Constantin Cornea, Different Skies with Alistair Cartwright, Geoff Tibbs, Hannah Martin, Jon Siah, Ellin Jane, EsBeStreet, Jason Gibilaro, Jealous Gallery, John Clair, La Bouche Zine, Lucille Clerc, Lucy Storrs - River of Misfits, Mermaids & Other Monsters, Nathaniel Dinham; Nilly Brook, Outside World Allstars, Phillip Hennessey, Ronke Osinowo, Russell Frost, Shadia Hameed, The Demolition Project, The Hackney Wick Festival, Tiffany Winterbottom, Utilitart

SAT 17th August

12pm-10pm  Including  performances by: Spoken Word Group Somaya, Siddhartha Bose, Gemma Rogers & The Mil Men, Pantonic Steel Orchestra, Fear of Fluffing, Unit 15 presents "The Green Door on the Otherside", Avon Terra & Adam Vanni, Caps Eyes - Avon Terra, Chris Furness & Little Alaska, Bryant, Vaness Caspersz,Heart Murmurs, Victoria McCormick, Polaroid 85, Shane Beales, The Sandy Bells 
Local highlight: PSALM SESSIONS is a pop-up gig run by a community of musicians based in and around the Wick, inspired by songs of the Psalms & collaborating in celebration of FREEDOM, PEACE & HOPE to support social JUSTICE causes, including Pussy Riot. For Hackney Wicked each Artist's performance will focus on the themes above.
SUN 18th August

12pm-9pm Spoken Word Group by CALM ,Omer, Amber States, Crash Island, The London Soundpainting Orchestra, Deaf Club,  Portia Emare, Nife, Orchestra Bombo Productions, possibly with special guests from the local Gospel Choir.

Trailer for Hackney WickED=
Trailer for Jim Woodall’s decoupling =

Friday, 16 August 2013

Nocturnal Night… @ WaterWorks Centre, off Lea Bridge Road, E10. Friday 23 August.

Courtesy of Lee Valley Park

At week ends, I walk along the River Lea or Lee, on the wild side. Its name dates back from the 9th century and comes from a Celtic root, lug meaning “bright”. I often stop in the WaterWorks’ “jungle” and pick up some blackberries. Last week, there was an intriguing sign...

Nocturnal Night… Find out what creatures come out after dark at WaterWorks Centre nature reserve on Friday 23 August.
The WaterWorks Centre just off Lea Bridge Road will be hosting a nocturnal night from 19:00. You can join in this guided evening walk, taking you all around the filter beds discovering what night time animals can be found and learn from the experts about how best to find them. You will witness first hand this unique wildlife haven, discover one of the largest bird hides in London and experience this fantastic area all by moonlight.  Of course a much needed cup of hot chocolate is included!

Venue: WaterWorks nature reserve
Address: Lammas Road (off Lea Bridge Road), Leyton, E10 7QB
Date: Friday, 23 August 2013
Time: 19:00 - 22:00
Price: £5 per person

Booking is required for this event, please call 020 8988 7566 or

And since we are talking about Lea Valley, you can also go watch WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TODAY, MERVYN DAY? @ BFI Southbank, Tuesday 27 Aug @ 20.45. The documentary set in Lea Valley is part of a BFI DVD release A London Trilogy: the Films of Saint Etienne 2003-2007 =

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

@ BFI = THE BIG CITY (Mahanagar) Directed by Satyajit Ray, 16 Aug + A season of Satyajit Ray film @ BFI Southbank from 15 Aug to 5 October

The Big City-Mahanagar by Satyajit Ray
Courtesy of BFI

Directed by Satyajit Ray
India 1963, 131 mins, Cert PG
From 16 Aug at BFI Southbank & selected cinemas nationwide
A season of Satyajit Ray film @ BFI Southbank from 15 Aug to 5 October

Not to have seen the cinema of Satyajit Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon. Akira Kurosawa

From the mid-90’s, the British-Asian scene in London was a justified hype: Talvin Singh and his Anokha sessions @ the Blue Note in Hoxton Sq, N1; Pathaan and Ash with their Swaaraj nights @ Mass in Brixton, SW2; Earthtribe and their Sitarfunk episodes @ the Sptiz in Spitalfield, E1; Imran Khan @ BBC GLR; Nation Records with Aki Nawaz; Nitin Sawhney on Outcast Records and the craziest duo of Joi (newly signed on Real World) Djing at one of their nights @ the Dogstar in Brixton. Farook, one half of Joi, was explaining that they were all celebrating the dual heritage of Indian-Bengali-Pakistani classical instruments & sounds mixed with electronic devices. The whole scene wanted to make an impact in the British cultural map unlike their older bros who wanted to be discreet about their roots (Queen’s Freddie Mercury or Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman). Joi’s electronic album was a tribute to their Bengali origins and named it after Rabindranath Tagore’s philosophy = One and One is One. From here... to Satyajit Ray.

On 16 August the BFI brings Satyajit Ray’s The Big City (1963) to cinemas across the UK to mark its fiftieth anniversary. This richly absorbing tale of family and city life from the master of Bengali cinema is set in mid-50s Calcutta, a society still adjusting to Independence and gripped by financial crisis and social values – most particularly on the role of women – The Big City feels as fresh and relevant as ever.
The film’s nationwide release will coincide with a two-month retrospective of the director’s work at BFI Southbank in association with the Academy Film Archive. Newly restored prints of many films will be screened from 15 August to the 5 October.

Subrata Mazumdar (Anil Chatterjee) is a Calcutta bank clerk struggling to support his wife, two young children and both his parents. He laughs gently at his daughter when she mentions a working career “What’s the point in studying, you will be at the cooking pots.” His wife Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee) is smoothly but firmly suggesting taking a job... Reluctantly Subrata reads the job offers in the local newspaper. Arati will start as a salesperson selling peddling knitting machines to rich people. At a time, when women were submissive, Satyajit Ray gave Madhabi a stunning and subtle opportunity to talk in the name of women. Of course, the reaction within the household is diverse. Subrata’s father, a retired schoolmaster, is so ashamed of the situation that he refuses to talk to his son and go around his past students’ houses reminding them their “due” to him (hoping for money). The five year old son only accepts his mother’s absence in exchange of a present; the daughter is the only one who openly celebrates her mum’s emancipation while Subrata’s mother is discreetly annoyed. Subrata himself finds it hard to deal with his wife’s confidence as she reveals to be a successful salesperson and owns a lipstick...
Satyajit gave a modern touch to a rising India and framed faces like a photographer would do which was a new direction in filming. Above anything else, Ray studies characters without judging them. The Apu Trilogy with its music scored by Ravi Shankar blew me away when I first saw them, but Ray’s consistency in his films is remarquable.

This year marks the centenary of Indian cinema, and so in a most timely fashion BFI Southbank presents a retrospective of films by Satyajit Ray, in collaboration with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who have restored many of the titles to screen, in new prints. Ray is probably India’s finest cultural export and his unique cinematic legacy is renowned and revered by directors across the world. Two decades ago Ray received an Academy Award for his Lifetime Achievement just before his death in Calcutta. Since then India has become vastly wealthier but the director’s films have lost none of their power, humanity, humour and topicality for both Indians and the world. Born in Calcutta in 1921, Ray was educated in both Bengali and English, and studied for a fine arts degree, which he abandoned for a job as a commercial artist in advertising. As a filmmaker, Ray was entirely self-educated, except for a brief period helping Jean Renoir, who had come from Hollywood to make The River. The strongest influence on his first film, Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road, 1955), was seeing the neo-realist classic, Bicycle Thieves, in London in 1950: ‘It gored me,’ he said. This tale of a village child established the filmmaker, who went on to make a further two films about Apu – Aparajito (The Unvanquished, 1956) and The World of Apu (Apur Sansar, 1958), which sees the child into adulthood and an arranged marriage transformed by love. Though rooted in Bengal, Ray was also immersed in western culture - European and Hollywood films, but also literature, art and music. This meant that he was virtually unparalleled is his versatility. He wrote his scripts - often original screenplays, he designed the sets and costumes down to the smallest detail, he acted out the roles for his actors, operated the camera, edited each frame and then composed the music, scoring it in a mixture of western and Indian notation. He even found time to design the credits and posters.

Satyajit Ray is the Asian David Bowie in terms of controlling every aspects of his art = of course it's a compliment.

There will be a number of events to introduce Ray’s work to newcomers and long time appreciators. This is a season that will inspire and move audiences and promises to be just too good to miss.

Trailer =

An exhibition of Satyajiy Ray film's posters have just been added. They are all designed by the master himself. It is in the Atrium Gallery in BFI Southbank

To view the season introduction, click here
To view Satyajit Ray part 1 (august listing), click here
To view Samuel Wigley’s opinion and listen to music, click here
To view Satyajit Ray at work, click here

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

British Transport Films Volume Eleven: Experiment Under London. 1961-1969. Two DVD releases on BFI. 19 August.

Experiment Under London
Courtesy of BFI

At the time, the 9 bus was resting by the Sun Inn pub in Barnes, SW13 (I was an Au-Pair there). The first time, the 9 took me to Hammersmith Station to visit London on my own, I ended up in front of the tube map with bright colours. I had three options: the pink line, the deep blue line or the green line. Coming from Paris where the metro lines are a complete mess... London tube was all of a sudden quite challenging to understand. Simplicity can be complicated.
150 years ago, London was poverty stricken and disease driven and yet its population was growing. It was then necessary to build London on a double deck as one of the narrators suggests. The London Underground was born. Today the rails of London underground are the equivalent of New York skyscrapers.

Marking London Underground’s 150th anniversary, the BFI releases Volume Eleven, Experiment Under London: six films documenting the construction of the Underground’s Victoria Line, which were produced by the BTF Unit for London Transport + a documentary on the world’s first underground footages including contributions by John Betjeman, Henry Moore and Jessie Matthews + a six minutes mute footage of the Queen down the tube in 1969 to open the Victoria Line.
During Autumn 1962, engineering work began on the first new underground railway to be built under Central London in over sixty years. Made between 1961 and 1969, the films show, in meticulous detail, the mammoth undertaking of building the Victoria Line, one of the most complex civil engineering projects that London had ever seen. “Digging tunnels has been going on since the Stone Age. Only costume changed” we hear at some point.

While life goes on, on the earth surface, below earthling feet, workers (mainly Irish) dig continuously. We learn that London’s underground has very good clay and it is easy to work. However, some areas of London have not got it which is why those areas are only accessible by overground or buses.

As a foreigner, I’ve always been stricken in this country by the general accuracy of the work done. In this instance, Volume Eleven, Experiment Under London looks like a choreographed work: no wasting time, every gesture had been rehearsed to the millimetre and to the time allocated.
As a person being born in a country being ruled by over 400 kinds of cheeses... of course, it is highly... sexual! Huge steel wheel with teeth; medium phalluses with red end tips going up and down or sideways; huger ones too; white liquid being inserted from one unit to another... naughty, naughty. But I am sure that the collection won’t get classified as 18 +. A pure product of imagination spicing up the doc.

This digitally mastered double-disc collection, which is accompanied by a booklet of film notes, is a must, not only for the transport enthusiast, transport workers and engineers, but also for documentary aficionados and anyone interested in Britain’s industrial history. Those with a hearing deficiency or who are not British might still benefit of the collection as the narrators speak articulately (a good headphone might help as well).

  • Experiment Under London (1961): experimental excavations in preparations for the new Victoria Line underground. Colour. 24 mins

  • The Victoria Line Report No. 1: Over and Under (1965): the chief civil engineer for LT’s new underground line from Victoria to Walthamstow describes the work in progress from early 1963 – mid 1964 at Oxford Circus. Colour. 28 mins

  • Report No. 2: Down and Along (1965): modern techniques of tunnelling, the use of a mechanical digging shield in a running tunnel and the digging by hand of vast underground caverns for junctions and cross-overs. Colour. 27 mins

  • Report No. 3: Problems and Progress (1967): the difficulties met by the designers and contractors, particularly at Kings Cross and Oxford Circus; the diversion work at Finsbury Park and the problem of accurate track laying. Colour. 26 mins

  • Report No. 4: Equip and Complete (1968): installing model escalators, testing new rolling stock and automatic train control, installing power supply and the operation of the Walthamstow – Highbury section. Colour. 22 mins

  • Report No. 5: London’s Victoria Line (1969): the design, construction and completion of the new line showing the various phases and engineering techniques involved. Colour. 40 mins

  • Special Features = A Hundred Years Underground. 1963. B&W. 39 mins + The Queen Opening the Victoria Line. 1969. Colour. 6 mins. Mute.

Product Information = UK. 1961-1969. Certificate = Exempt. Colour and Black/white. DVD region = 2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories. Catalogue number = BFIVD975. RRP = £19.99
The previous 10 volumes and The British Transport Films Collection 18-Discs box set are available from all DVD retailers & the BFI shop.

To view the trailer, click here

For more info, click here

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Las Kellies. Total Exposure. Album release in UK = 16th September on Fire Records

Las Kellies. Total Exposure. 16 September
Courtesy of Fire Records

Just got on 35 bus from Liverpool Street to Baldwin in Elephant & Castle. I am on a Zen mood and in need of essential oils. Top deck, front row, sitting next to someone, my vintage I-pod on (that is a portable CDplayer) playing Las Kellies’s Total Exposure. Don’t look now, it’s out on 16th Sept (17th in US). On Boy, Sweet Boy, my right toe starts moving and by reggae legend Dennis Bovell’s "singing" on Jealousy, the whole body finds it hard to remain still. It’s elegantly/soflty sexy. My next sit neighbour is on the move too. I lend him half of my headphones.
Imagine Elli Medeiros jamming with Blondie and B52’s all supervised by Gainsbourg and Jacno made in Argentina... Caliente el album de las chicas Las Kellies! A concoction of 80’s keyboards-Psychedelic-punk-dub that Massive Attack might be jealous of...
I missed my stop. Without any persuasion, I end up in a house that was built around a huge Hi-Fi system in Love Walk, SE5. Now, on a Guerrilla mood, our mutual beats reach brutally @ minute 33, pil poil the end of Mistico. No time for talking, I still need my essential oils. I leave my mobile (txt only svp) on the kitchen table while the other occupant, a cat, gives me a “WTF” is going on’ kind of look...
The text reads “I’d like to listen properly the first tracks... pls”. He wants a replay ;)

Click here to listen to the chevere track =
Click here to see the Jealousy video feat Dennis Bovell (single released 26th Aug) =

Desde Argentina, Las Kellies estan en Londres... Caliente!
London dates =
09/08/2013 UK London The Windmill
12/08/2013 UK London Shacklewell Arms – free gig.
16/08/2013 UK London Yard Party Festival (Upset the Rhythm)

Other UK dates =
11/08/2013 UK Oxfordshire Supernormal Festival
15/08/2013 UK Leeds Brudenell Social Club

European tour from 20 Aug, please check Las Kellies via Fire Records =