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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Welcome to Iraq - 11 Iraqi artists from Venice Biennale 2013 @ The South London Gallery, SE5, Free, Until 1 June

Saddam is Here
© Jamal Penjweny

After visiting Burnt Generation @ Somerset House (also ending 1 June), an exhibition by Iranian photographers, I read Newsha Tavakolian saying “There is more freedom in the art world than in journalism now”. How sad as it is and most probably as true as it might be, I was recently blown by Jamal Penjweny bold body of work presented @ South London Gallery.
He has garnered attention with his photography series Saddam is Here, featuring Iraqis in everyday places – on the street, in hotel rooms, in shops – holding a photo of the former dictator over their own faces, demonstrating the lasting impact of his brutal regime.
However, it is his two short films that had a profound effect on me documenting illegal trading on the border between Iraq and Iran. Another Life follows the lives of Iraqis smuggling alcohol to Iran. Why do they smuggle? Because they have no other jobs! Do they family agree? Most reject them! Is it risky? Instead of rolling credits, we are explained that some of the men appearing on the mobile phone footage that shot them got shot by customs police. There is no drama. Just blank facts!
His other short, There the Gun, investigates the illegal weapons trade in Iraq and how easily traders can access guns. Prisoners who have committed murder describe nonchalantly their crimes.

The South London Gallery presents a restaging of the group exhibition, Welcome to Iraq, curated by Jonathan Watkins (Director of Ikon Gallery, Birmingham), originally shown as part of the National Pavilion of Iraq in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Works in a variety of media by contemporary artists, most of whom live and work in Iraq, were selected to highlight the breadth of artistic practice in Iraq and a creativity borne out of necessity in extraordinary historical circumstances.
11 Iraqi artists in a pavilion documenting their lives in extreme conditions versus one artist in the Irish pavilion “documenting” RD of Congo! – I couldn’t help that one!

Other artists attracting my attention were Abdul Raheem Yassir for his “innocent” political and ironic humour cartoons; Hareth Alhomaam’s short film Buzz, for the way of communicating between the sexes in modern Iraq; Ali Samiaa, sort of telenovela film, The Love of Butterflies, a story in which dramatic tension is derived from a balance struck between marital infidelity and family commitment.

Other artists include Furat al Jamil, Akeel Khreef, Cheeman Ismaeel, Bassim Al-Shaker, Kadhim Nwir and WAMI, an artistic partnership quite rare in Iraq from Yassen Wami and Hashim Taeeh.

There is a convivial atmosphere when you navigate between sofas, extraordinary throws, Iraqi books or books on Iraq, a long table with Iraqi tea and addictive biscuits. A soothing effect that doesn’t condemn Iraq but shows it as it should be... as it might have been.

Installation view at the South London Gallery, 2014

Visitor information: South London Gallery (SLG) – 65-67 Pekham Road, London SE5 8UH Admission: free; Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday 11am-6pm, except Wednesdays and the last Friday of the month until 9pm. Closed Mondays; Until 1 June; Contact: - 020 7703 6120 - 

Other posts on Iraq by bbldnrbtl =

Sunday, 25 May 2014

HISTORIC HORSE HOSPITAL ARTS VENUE TO BE SOLD! – event 2 June 2014 @ 6.30pm, London WC1N

Last time I wrote about the Horse Hospital, I was celebrating its venue and wished them another 20 healthy years of avant-garde, alternative events in their unique and splendid venue “... I am on 73 bus to the Horse Hospital wearing a John Peel badge. I have worn it ever since the HH had a special celebration when Peel decided to breathe out for ever in Peru. 20 years that the HH has been raging against the machine and tonight is a screening on... The Horse Hospital is the only existing unspoilt example of a two-floor, purpose-built stable remaining for public access in London. Situated in the heart of historic Bloomsbury and built originally in 1797 by James Burton, the building may have been redeveloped sometime after 1860. The shell is constructed with London Stocks and red brick detail, whilst the interior features a mock cobbled herringbone pattern re-enforced concrete floor. Access to the both floors is by concrete moulded ramps. The upper floor ramp retains hardwood slats preventing the horses from slipping. Each floor has five cast iron pillars and several original iron tethering rings.
In 2004 the HH team consulted the DCMS about saving this historical and beautiful building from the imminent threat of redevelopment, it was promptly awarded a Grade 2 listing by English Heritage, thereby ensuring this piece of living history will be preserved for posterity long after we have gone.
So… since 1993 the HH has not only been fortunate enough to have shown a vast amount of B-artists amazing work by some of the underworlds true visionaries such as Helen Chadwick, Gee Vaucher & Crass, Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren, Franko B, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Lydia Lunch, Bjaarne Melgard...
Where else could these events happen? They are at the right space, right?..........

15 May 2014, the email title read: Historic Horse Hospital to be sold (event on 2 June, see at the bottom)


In an unexpected move by the owners of the building it was announced on Tuesday 13th May, that the Horse Hospital will be put it on the open market next month for £2.5 million. After 21 years of hard work establishing an important, alternative arts organization in this unique building we are of course totally shocked and heartbroken over this terrible news.

Thankfully we have managed to negotiate a contract to stay here and continue with our scheduled program until the end of March 2015. Although it leaves us no time at all, we have decided to do everything within our capacity to secure the building and somehow or other raise the necessary funds.

The Horse Hospital as an arts organization is intrinsically tied into the fabric of the building and in 2004 under the imminent threat of redevelopment, we thoroughly researched the history of this beautiful building and upon application to English Heritage it was promptly awarded a Grade 2, making The Horse Hospital a slightly less attractive prospect for property developers, we hoped..!

Built originally by James Burton in 1797 as stabling for cabby's sick horses, The Horse Hospital is the only existing unspoilt example of a two-floor, purpose-built stable remaining for public access in London and is now an important Grade II listed building which has operated a Not For Profit policy, and provided space for underground and Avant-Garde media since 1993. It also houses and is supported by the ‘Contemporary Wardrobe Collection’, a fashion archive that specialises in post-war street fashion, sub-cultures and British design.

Genuinely inclusive, accessible, and welcoming both artistically and socially, the Horse Hospital has not only maintained a space for what might still be called the counter-culture in an ever more formalised and even corporate arts environment; it has nurtured and grown several generations, favouring the hybrid and the unclassifiable, the risk-takers and visionaries. The central stream of any culture relies on those edge dwellers for its constant renewal. With pressures on funding, public performance spaces and the time it takes to make invigorating work, the Horse Hospital is an oasis of opportunity in a city that, while vibrantly creative, remains genuinely challenging for those without significant finance behind them. Gareth Evans - Film Curator, Whitechapel Gallery

So, however challenging it has been, the rewards of being nonpartisan keepers of culture in this magnificent and idiosyncratic building have been manifold and profound. We are incredibly proud of the fact that since 1993 we have not only been fortunate enough to have shown a vast amount of amazing work by some of the underworlds true visionaries such as Joe Coleman, Helen Chadwick, Brice Dellsperger, Dennis Cooper, Cameron Jamie, Laurie Lipton, Bruce Bickford, Gee Vaucher & Crass, Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren, Franko B, Morton Bartlett, Craig Baldwin, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Lydia Lunch, Bjaarne Melgard to name but a few, but that we have also had the privilege to support and introduce literally hundreds of obscure artists, performers, film makers and writers, who may otherwise have been denied a voice by more mainstream organisations, to an ever-growing, receptive and appreciative audience.

Whether we can raise that kind of money remains to be seen, but having invested over 20 years in the building we intend to do everything in our power to make it happen, it's a massive task but we remain firmly optimistic that with everyone’s help it is possible.

In a climate where any grass roots, alternative or independent endeavors are being swept away into the dust of history it is vital that the spirit and ethos that we wholeheartedly embrace as an organization is given a chance to survive in these ever more capitalist, corporate and homogeneous times.
Any and all suggestions welcome! This can not happen”

Following a meeting, HH is currently looking at:
• Arts Council Funding
• Heritage Funding
• Community Right to Bid
• EIS Share Holding
• Crowd Funding

The Chamber Of Pop Culture -  –   
The Horse Hospital, Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Futurismo Ancestral: An Offering to Peru by Sixe Paredes - 21 – 26 May 2014. Somerset House, London, WC2R. Free

The Chakana aka The Inca Cross

So, last night the Peruvian Andes invaded the lower levels of Somerset House: the exhibition Futurismo Ancestral, Pisco Sour, grilled salted corns and Cumbia music.

Graffiti artist Sixe Paredes (who painted the river façade of Tate Modern for the first time) ‘s exhibition is inspired by the indigenous art and culture of Peru and the Andes.
The Exhibition features colourful tapestries, totems, ceramics, masks, quipus (a system of knotted cords developed by the Incas to communicate and record important information, or otherwise known as ‘talking knots’) and chichas cartels (hand-drawn concert posters decorated with fluorescent inks) made in collaboration with the indigenous community of the Andes.

Working on all senses – sight and sound as much as taste and touch – Futurismo Ancestral: An Offering to Peru is an all-encompassing exhibition experience. The exhibition represents the richness of the Peruvian and Andean art world, with a collection of works crafted by Sixe Paredes in collaboration with the local Andean community. A lively line-up of daily events captures the soul and spirit of contemporary Peruvian Andean culture, from food and film, to music and dance.

Blending tradition and modernity, Sixe’s approach is full of bright, bold bursts of colour and geometric patterns which depict the primordial – whether animal life, adolescents or ancestors – but all in his signature Surrealist style, much like the street art for which Sixe is famed. Influenced and inspired by folk art and art brut but reinterpreting it for a modern generation, Sixe has termed this approach as ‘futurismo ancestral’ (or ‘ancestral futurism’).

Last night, I loved looking at people who were wearing the Inca cross aka Chakana that represents Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire. Its meaning is of “a bridge of crossing” and is made of four steps representing the elements of nature; cosmology and the theory of three worlds. I have crossed the Peruvian Andes many times and stayed there for some time. The colours are vibrant and people seem to be hiding some mysterious secrets. Last night, an Andean couple was there in their traditional clothes and we smiled at each other. There is always a silent vibe when people know we’ve been there.

More info on food, exhibition, events, films =

About Sixe Paredes
Since 2009, Sixe has spent periods in Peru to engage with and enrich his knowledge of Peruvian and Andean art and culture. He has collaborated with the creative community in the region and has learnt about the local art traditions and techniques from celebrated ceramicists, chicha artists and weavers.
The South American country is somewhere he feels at home, where he feels comfortable in the “rhythms of life, in the informality”, a place that opened his “heart and eyes to new interior dimensions”. It is also a place where he can “paint in many places without problems”, reminiscent of how his beloved hometown of Barcelona used to be. An autodidactic artist, Sixe developed his style solely on the street and started by spraypainting his suburb during the 1980s. Moving his painting practice to the studio in the 1990s and creating characters on his canvases in sculpture, his work went from street to gallery with great success.
He is represented in major collections around the globe and his artwork has been exhibited alongside that of Joan Miró and Antonio Tàpies. In 2008, he was one of six international artists invited by Tate Modern to paint its river façade for the first time. He has not participated in any UK shows since, with the Somerset House residency marking his return to London.

Dates: 21 – 26 May 2014
Opening Hours: Exhibition open 10am – 6pm daily, event times vary (please check website for details)
Address: Great Arch, Lightwells and Deadhouse, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA Admission: Exhibition free; charges may apply for some events (please check website for details)
Transport: Temple, Embankment Charing Cross, Waterloo
Somerset House Facebook:

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Fruitvale Station, directed by Ryan Coogler. 8.30PM, 29 May @ Stratford Picturehouse, E15. Out in cinemas on 6 June

Fruitvale Station
Directors: Ryan Coogler
Produced by Forest Whitaker & Nina Yang Bongiovi
Cast: Melonie Diaz, Michael B Jordan, Octavia Spencer
85 mins
Cert: 15

Awarded at Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Festival in 2013

Yesterday, The New Black invited me to Fuitvale Station preview. It surprised me on many levels: its humour, its very well described community spirit, the poignant loneliness and helplessness of a woman watching the ambulance going away; the strong love between a father and his young daughter. It is a case... that shouldn't have been a case, another derive by the US police! Ryan Coogler shoestring budget film is unmissable. 

Below is my previous post to announce the film.

The New Black (TNB) Film Collective presents FRUITVALE STATION - produced by Forest Whitaker – directed by Ryan Coogler followed by a debate.

First time film director Ryan Coogler was intrigued with Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) being gunned down. The true story was well known within the Black community in Oakland, California, but didn’t really go beyond its border.
Grant, a then 22 year old, was going back home in the early morning hours after celebrating the New Year in 2009. Following a fight on a train platform in Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), some of his friends and himself were held and handcuffed on the floor by police when a White police officer shot him in the back.
Fruitvale Station focuses on the last 24 hours of Grant’s life. Oscar is a young ex con who takes no shit from people, loves his mother, cheats on his girlfriend but wants to go straight. He and girlfriend Tatiana drop their daughter at day care. He goes to his ex job and gets rid of his skunk to prove his good will... hours later, an ex inmate recognises him on the return train and a fight starts.

The film, shot on a shoe string budget, asked the meaning of a young African North American person in a still White dominating society. Without any pretention, Fruitvale Station eventually showed in over 1000 screens, ending up winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S in 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It also won the award for Best First Film in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

The screening will be followed by a panel debate, with activists and filmmakers, to question whether it is 'lawful' to kill Black people today in the wake of the recent controversial Mark Duggan and Trayvon Martin cases.

More info on The New Black Film Collective =  
Stratford Picturehouse, East London, Salway Road, London E15 1BX –
Box Office Number: 0871 902 5740 - email:  

Monday, 19 May 2014


© Denis Forkas Kostromitin

Quite simply, cameras were invented to capture the instant, the moment... the fraction! That lapse of short time that can tell a tale and can’t be reproduced in its same shape or space. Only elsewhere. Otherwise known as KAIROS. A sort of opposition to CHRONOS. Two ways of defining time in a world living a two time dimensions: a circular one and a linear one. And then of course, KLF came up, kicked preconceptions and asked “What time is love?
Shade Themes From Kairos is simply not about that kind of love!

Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O'Malley and Randall Dunn invite us to sleep walk on lucid dreams made of sounds “lost” in a psychedelic labyrinth.

Their sound project was first born in 2009 when Alexis Destoop asked them to soundtrack his short film project Kairos: “... an apocalyptic event that brought an end to linear time, the company Collective Time Flow (CTF) developed a technology to extract crude time and process it into a quantifiable commodity, reinstating a new era of human history and civilization...”

Experimental sound makers Ambarchi, O’Malley & Dunn cut the umbilical cord and carried on with Kairos, adding extra texture, rituals and lasting “mantras”. An out of body sonicscape experience sucking your inner senses into ethereal abyss.

If you are lucky to get lost in their sound labyrinth, chances are you will need wings to escape. Or, in the worst case scenario, you’ll be half a bull.
These tracks are not lullaby for nice kids, but sounds that’ll trap you inside... deep. A dark cerebral contusion of analog experimentation intrigue that will empower your imaginative faculty.

Let’s not forget also the incredible artwork of Sir Forkas.

Pitchfork will be streaming this week on their site. It should be up as I am writing this. Check it out!

Shade Themes from Kairos tracks:
1. That Space Between
2. Temporal, Eponymous
3. Circumstances of Faith
4. Sometimes
5. Ebony Pagoda

Stephen O’Malley:
Denis Forkas Kostromitin:

Friday, 16 May 2014

A Nos Amours. Chantal Akerman 9: Un jour Pina a demandé (One Day Pina Asked) + L’Homme à la valise (Man With a Suitcase) @ ICA, SW1Y - Thursday 22nd May, 8pm- £7 / £10

Courtesy of A Nos Amours

A NOS AMOURS “We are delighted to announce that Chantal Akerman will join us for this screening”

Chantal Akerman 9: 
Joanna Hogg & Adam Roberts’s A Nos Amours continues a retrospective of the complete film works of Chantal Akerman with two contrasted works from 1983: a film about the great choreographer Pina Bausch, and a Keatonesque or perhaps Kafkaesque comedy in which Akerman plays herself.

Un jour Pina a demandé - One Day Pina Asked, 1983, 61 mins
L’Homme à la valise - Man With a Suitcase, 1983, 61 mins

When I was five, my parents suggested I took up dance. From my eyes level to theirs, I firmly said I wanted to study harp, thinking secretly I would make stunning sounds and move my body around. That was my idea of happiness. That and read. My parents looked at each others, remembering in retrospect, as if accusing one another “not in my genes”! Of course, moving from one place in Africa to another was not only a “traumatic” experience to travel with an imposing instrument, but surely the issue of finding the right tutor, if any, could become a headache. So, I moved my frail body to sounds my brain created, all alone in my bedroom. I hated classical dance and men in tights.

A few years before I was born, Chantal Akerman perhaps decided that happiness would be to be a film maker. She had seen Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou and that was a revelation to her.

As I grew up, I realised that some dancers / choreographers were about body movements. Because of geographic position, I have never been able to see any of work by Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch and so on, apart from Michael Clarke who started in 1983.

2011 was a big year in the dance scene... at least for me. Le Centre Pompidou proposed a 2000 square meters of dance celebration from 1900 to the new millennium first decade: DANSER SA VIE (Dancing its Life). I had to visit it three times. Isadora Duncan, Kazuo Ono, Merce Cunningham, Matthew Barney, Henri Matisse, Josephine Baker, Daria Martin, Nijinsky, Olafur Elliason etc.
Mary Wigman embodies perfectly life and death in her famous Dance of the Witch. Within her work linked with the German expressionism, Pina Bausch created Theatertanz (danced theatre).
That same year, Wim Wenders released Pina, a wonderful film-documentary on Pina Bausch.

Back in 1983, Pina played the role of La Principessa Lherimia in Federico Fellini's film And the Ship Sails On.
Un jour Pina a demandé - One Day Pina Asked, 1983, 61 mins
That same year, Chantal Akerman boards Pina Bausch’s “boat”. With her sylph body, Pina “hypnotises” film makers (Akerman, Fellini, Almodovar, Wenders,...).
Male-female interaction is Pina main theme found throughout her work. In Un jour Pina a demandé (One Day Pina Asked), Akerman shoots Bausch and her troubadours for five weeks in summer from Germany to Italy and France. From town to town and dance festivals summer, Akerman offers a travelogue of body movements, capturing strong moments of political choreography.
Akerman shoots simply, no extravaganza, wonders what Bausch wants from her dancers; what does Bausch ask of their intimacy? Is it love? Is it sex? Does she ask them to search around them like Mike Leigh does with his actors? One Day Pina Asked is a precious flacon of essence extracts of scene and life moments, sometimes of stolen moments lived with intensity.

L’Homme à la valise - The Man with the Suitcase
After letting her flat to some friends, Akerman comes back home to find a friend of a friend still “squatting” her space. Gradually, she “locks” herself to her own bedroom, letting outside sounds (toilet flush, footsteps...) invade her space for a month. This is a funny story on an invisible intruder, his sounds and of course the use of Akerman sounds for this soundtrack. A study of space and sounds... from hell!

Thursday 22nd May, 8pm @ ICA Cinema, Institute of Contemporary Arts, 12 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH. Introduced by artist film-maker Lucy Cash
More info =
Lucy Cash =

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Burnt Generation – photography from Iran. Until 1 June 2014. Terrace Rooms, Somerset House, London WC2R. Free

Abbas Kowsari, 
Shade of Earth 2008,
 Talaiye, Iran © Abba Kowsari

On the wall, it reads “I haven’t seen the revolution, but my rap is revolutionary; this pen is my weapon and I got my burial shroud in my backpackSalome MC (Iran 1st female rapper). My mind travels back a few years back when I saw the excellentissimo Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats. A film describing the difficulty to exist in a controlled country. A film about youth playing clandestinely rock music.

The Burnt Generation’s exhibition presents recent work by eight contemporary and intellectually engaged Iranian photographers, many of which have never been seen outside of Iran.

To mark the arrival of the Persian New Year, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to move to a place beyond cliché; a moment to forget the stereotypical images of Iran.
The worlds of eight artists who have lived and worked there include: Azadeh Akhlaghi; Gohar Dashti; Shadi Ghadirian; Babak Kazemi; Abbas Kowsari; Ali and Ramyar; Newsha Tavakolian; Sadegh Tirafkan.

Gohar Dashti, Iran, 
Untitled 2013, Tehran,
 Iran © Gohar Dashti

As Martin Barnes, Senior Curator at the V&A, says “some of the most exciting photography being made today is coming from Iran” and the range will reflect reality for modern Iranian society, whether it be coping with the consequences of constant conflict to civilians caught in the middle, conforming to class ideals or colourful celebrations of Shiite rituals.

Burnt Generation is curated by Candlestar Director, Fariba Farshad, who explains that her aim was not only to present work from as wide a perspective as possible but also to show work that takes a sideways look at both public and personal histories: “The selected artists work in various ways. Some make documentary photography, others portraiture, others still fine art, conceptual work but their subjects are caught in the web of history be it personal, historical or geopolitical. Shakespeare said it far more eloquently than I can when he wrote, ‘These our actors / As I foretold you, were all spirits and / Are melted into air / into thin air… We are such stuff as dreams are made on...

The highlight, in my opinion of the exhibition, is
Babak Kazemi (born 1983) with Number by Number and Souvenir from a friend and neighbour country are two photographic series that showcase real house number plates and bullets from the Iran/Iraq war that took place between 1980 and 1988 and that left both countries with a great number of displaced families and huge financial losses.
Abbas Kowsari (born 1970) light is a strong source of power. Every religion contains elements of light that help their followers to find their ways in life. The series Light is a perfect documentation of popular culture exploring the relationship between Iranian’s society;
Ali and Ramyar (born 1976 and 1980) have worked collaboratively in the field of photography for a long time documenting the duality that Iranians experience in their daily life due to their religious and political history.

The other artists are :
Azadeh Akhlaghi (born 1978) unifies Iranians in a common theme, in this case, the many dramatic, tragic deaths that mark the modern history of the country.
Gohar Dashti’s (born 1980) setting changes once again. Based on the outskirts of Tehran it gives us a nostalgic and silent landscape surrounding us. We see small life shots, echoing the grace of the traditional Japanese haiku, renowned for being able to put down the intensity of an emotion into words.
In her series Look, Newsha Tavakolian (born 1981) uses the view from her bedroom window to examine the lives of those around her. Her subjects are people that she has known for years and who live in her building.
Tavakolian brings her story of a nation of middle-class youths to life – her work examines their daily internal battles, the loneliness of their conformist society, and their lack of hope for the future.
Sadegh Tirafkan’s (born 1965-2013) work is characterised by the role of male in the traditional
Iranian society as he expressed in his series Body signs and Body curves.

Quite disappointed with the series White Square and Nil, Nil by Shadi Ghadirian (born 1974) who places military objects out of their context in a domestic space transporting us to a world where war has a very silent but powerful role. She is very famous for confronting her subjects with women housewife roles or placing them with traditional outfit and their westernised objects. Here... seems a bit easy.

Dates: Until 1 June 2014
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm Daily.
Address: Terrace Rooms, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA
Admission: Free

Somerset House Facebook:

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

FÉ play HOXTON BAR with SUN this Thursday 15 MAY. £7. London N1

After a great run of shows at The Great Escape last weekend, is back in London this Thursday 15 May at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen for their last hometown show before a summer of festivals and recording.
In short, you won’t see them in London for a long time. I had the privilege, thanks to mister Bad Life to see them @ Lexington early February 2014. As I mentioned in my February post, they possessed physically everything I wouldn’t naturally fall for. Almost as if they were coming out of The Little House in the Prairie.
Apart from the fact, their stage performance is quite Chameleon-esque and atmospheric... orgasmic when it comes to Time! Come with condoms!

Fé - BBC Radio 1 Session from Maida Vale =

Venue: Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU
Date: Thu, 15 May 2014
Price: £7

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

An Autumn Afternoon. Directed by Yasujiro Ozu. A BFI release from 16 May at BFI Southbank and nationwide

Courtesy of BFI

(Sanma no aji)
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Japan, 1962,
112 mins,
In Japanese with English subtitles
Cert PG
With Chishu Ryu, Shima Iwashita, Keiji Sada, Mariko Okada

New 2K restoration - Opening on 16 May 2014 at BFI Southbank and selected cinemas nationwide

A semi neo-realism feel runs through the last Yasujiro Ozu’s film vein. An Autumn Afternoon aka The Taste Of Mackerel is a sweet and sour opus blending Japanese traditions with a Japan post-war westernisation, fusing loneliness, cruelty, humour while women discreetly take power. 

Shot after Ozu’s mother death with whom he lived all his life (Ozu will die a year after the film release), An Autumn Afternoon meditates on age, time and shapes of places. An hymn to women. a rare tale of father-daughter love.

A widower, Shuhei Hirayama, lives with his 24 year old daughter Mishiko and her younger brother, Kazuo. The older son, Koichi, is married to a woman who takes time to eat grapes before doing her housewife duty when asked to.
Meanwhile, his old professor, Sakuma (the Gourd) lives with his unmarried daughter who has been taking care of him and his house.
Meanwhile, his friends are either remarried or had their children married.
The older generation, the widower, his friends and the professor gather around a meal to celebrate their past. A sort of melancholia where the sake’s warmth burns their lives: wearing western clothes, talking virility pills and marrying their daughters.

While alcohol is pouring, whether sake, beer or whiskey all along the film, the father navigates between austere interior Japanese décors and exterior publicity flashing signs. A hedonist Rabelaisian lifestyle constricted within a patriarchal duty. The father consumes himself and is consumed by the invasion of post war new structure. The samurai image is being replaced by a capricious golf player. The submissive woman blossoms fiercely with her new power of decision making.

Ozu is a master, in this particular film, of shapes and colors: a constant neutral tone of greys and browns punctuated with primary colors and lines that “imprison” its characters. Each narrow corridor ends with a door. Each frame embraces horizontals and verticals. A perpetual static dance of perspectives.

Despite its permanent juggling between two worlds and without emitting any judgement, Ozu centres his film subtly on the issue of education. Universally, in order to achieve a great separation between parents and their offspring, parents have to accept to let them go. This is the shadow that Shuhei is facing: does he want to mirror a life of his old professor and keep his daughter on his side or can he accept a lonely life and let her get married...

Thursday, 8 May 2014

London Analogue Festival - Submissions for 2014 now open! Free entrance – Festival = 2nd week of September 2014

August 2013. I came across an interesting event. The London Analogue Festival. First edition 7 & 8 of September. LAF invited me for their PV on the 6 and I was quite impressed by the range of “toys” exhibited. From sound to images to old cinema projectors. A retro experience within a cutting edge era.

The second edition will take place the second week of September 2014. People from all over the world can submit their work. No entrance fee but they will have to take care of their postage.

Previous related posts on LAF =

Oh, and it was my favourite 1st time festival on my 2013 Xmas list.