Archive | August, 2013

GEORGE ORWELL ‘Animal Farm’

28 Aug

“to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole”- George Orwell

• I finished reading the book I bought at the British Library last week. It is quite short so it didn’t take long to read.
• It is also deliberately simply written so it is easy for everyone to understand. (No matter the time that has past).
“I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages.”
• Written at the end of 1943 but almost not published for its attack on Britain’s wartime ally Stalin. (The book reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalin era in the Soviet Union).
• The Ukrainian translation of ‘Animal Farm’ was intended for Ukrainians living in the camps for Displaced Persons in Germany under British and American administration after World War II. These were people who supported the October Revolution and who were determined to defend what had been won, but who had turned against ‘the counter-revolutionary Bonapartism of Stalin’ and the ‘Russian nationalistic exploitation of the Ukrainian people.’ They were simple people, peasants and workers, some half-educated, but all of whom read eagerly.
• an allegorical and dystopian novel
• A devastating satire of idealism betrayed by power and corruption.
• The novel addresses not only the corruption of the revolution by its leaders, but also the ways wickedness, indifference, ignorance, greed, and myopia corrupt the revolution. It portrays corrupt leadership as the flaw in revolution, rather than the act of revolution itself. It also shows how potential ignorance and indifference to problems within a revolution could allow horrors to happen if a smooth transition to a people’s government is not achieved.

SUSAN ALDWORTH

27 Aug

Susan Aldworth: The Portrait Anatomised (National Portrait Gallery)
Produced as part of a commission for Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster, the portraits by Susan Aldworth in this display depict three individuals with epilepsy. Expanding a notion of contemporary portraiture, the artist appropriates the illustrative vocabulary of medical science in her innovative printmaking process and in doing so asks how this material corresponds or contrasts with the subject’s sense of self.

I’m not a huge fan of print making, so I actually found the method and ideas whilst creating these portraits more interesting than the final pieces themselves. Perhaps because they were large pieces created quite quickly and perhaps because of the strong connection to health and science that runs through the process.
I feel like a great deal of thought and emotion went into these portraits (the artist has a strong connection to the theme), and I think that is probably why they are so successful.

ERIK RAVELO

25 Aug

Los Intocables (The Untouchables) 2012
The right to childhood should be protected.

Provocative photographs addressing systemic and institutional child abuse. The images capture children pinned up crucifixion style against the backs of adult authority figures .The first one speaks of paedophiles in the Catholic Church, child prostitution in Thailand, child army recruitment in Syria, child organ trafficking in Brazil, free guns in USA and child obesity (McDonalds). I love this piece. I find the concept really political, moving and powerful. I also like how it addresses the responsibility of adult figures with regard to the harming of children in various contexts. Placing the children at the forefront of issues such as military occupation, tourism, healthcare, religion, and school violence, asks viewers to consider the potential for abuse within these issues and institutions.
I’ve read some comments that people feel that the McDonald’s image seems very out-of-place amongst the others. I disagree, because to only feed a child junk food, let it reach obesity and damage its health, is abuse in my opinion. I do however, agree with comments that point out that a black child is missing. “Or maybe it’s because we don’t see black kids as kids, but rather as hoodlums, and thugs…” Perhaps the artist could have included an image of a black child crucified on a white male cop..?

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EXHIBITION: Keep Your Timber Limber (ICA)

24 Aug

• Explores how artists since the 19040’s to the present day have used drawing to address ideas critical and current to their time.
• Ranging from the politics of gender and sexuality to feminist issues, war, censorship and race.
• The works can all be viewed as being in some way transgressive.
• Using traditional and commercial drawing techniques to challenge specific social, political or stylistic conventions.
• Could be retitled ‘The Penis Exhibition’ because there are that many drawings of dicks.
Works that stood out for me:

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• JUDITH BERNSTEIN
• Sexual violence and acts of war
• Male power
• Pop art and abstract expressionism (historically dominated by male artists).
• Vietnam war
• Against the decisions made predominantly by men on behalf of society

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• CARY KWOK
• Studied fashion
• Beautifully detailed, delicate ballpoint drawings
• Men at the moment of ejaculation (revealing a moment historically associated with defencelessness and weakness)
• Religious figures (universal, regardless of faith)

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• TOM OF FINLAND (aka Touko Laaksonen)
• In opposition to the dominant image of the homosexual in the 1950’s
• Adopted the tougher image (the rebel of the time, the biker)
• First artist to depict ha homosexual man as happy, healthy and masculine.
• Establishing the gay man not as a pervert, but as a joyful person.
• Sometimes with the message ‘Clothed is sexy’
• These images were so popular that the images and ideas that they depict have become somewhat of a cliché

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Loved the little book shop at the ICA. Found about 10 books of interest that I will try and find in the UAL libraries (or add to my Christmas wish list 😛 )

EXHIBITION: Medicine Man and Medicine Now (Wellcome Collection)

23 Aug
  • ‘Medicine Now’ reflects the experiences and interests of scientists, doctors and patients since Henry Wellcome’s death in 1936.
  • The main topics examined are: the body, genomes, malaria, obesity and the experience of medicine.
  • Items exhibited include artistic responses to the issues presented.
  • My favourite works were by Irish/German artist MICHEAL HOPKINS. With white ink on slate Hopkins has created abstract x-ray compositions. The fact that they are slightly abstracted makes them really interesting for me because they look like they could be real x-rays but its uncertain what bones or creature they’re depicting.

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  • SENSE was a sculpture by ANNIE CATTREL illustrating the activity patterns of the human brain as it responds to the five senses.

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  • ‘Medicine Man’ is a vast stockpile of evidence about our universal interest in health and the body.
  • The objects exhibited are from Henry Wellcome’s own collection. They range from diagnostic dolls to Japanese sex aids, and from Napoleon’s toothbrush to George III’s hair.
  • It also provides and very different perspective on some of our own obsessions with medicine and health.
  • Some of the objects are examined by a variety of commentators from different backgrounds, to show that one object can mean many different things and tell many different stories.

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  • The exhibition also contains real human remains, which I find cool and interesting to look at. I also like the display of past instruments used in operations and amputations.  

Collage Portraits

21 Aug

The Homeland promo poster has inspired me to look at other collage portraits.

ANTHONY BROWN
Artist from Liverpool

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  • Oil painting portraits on newspaper cut-outs about the individual.
  • People with a unique contribution to Liverpool life
  • 100 heads. Thinking as one
  • People from recent history
  • Multi layered process of news print, magazines, books, written words and photographs. Then oil and acrylic to create the image. Almost like a visual ‘diary’ of their life.

Collage of Apple CEO Steve Jobs made completely out of Apple products.
Created with the mosaic screen saver in Leopard OS.

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JOHN STEZAKER
Film Portrait Collages
black and white
surreal and fragmented

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DEREK GORES
Recycled magazine art Image

LUCIAN FREUD’s portraits can sometimes look like a collage because of the way they are painted. Each individual mark and brush stroke that builds up the image is visible.

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Homeland

20 Aug

I’d heard a lot of good things about showtime’s ‘Homeland’ (and some unnecessary bitching about how “unattractive” Claire Danes is…clearly people are just jealous)! So this summer I caught up on the first two seasons. It didn’t take me long to get hooked.
A CIA agent (Claire Danes), suspects that a rescued American POW (Damian Lewis), may be an Al Qaeda sleeper agent plotting a spectacular terrorist attack on the USA. The acting is great and I find the plot realistic, fascinating and exciting. You can’t predict what is going to happen next and you’re never really sure who is good or bad, who is going to live or die.
Danes’ character Carrie, is strong, intelligent and willing to risk her life to fight for what she believes in. However she also struggles with a mental health disorder and this makes her unpredictable, impulsive and emotional.

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I came across a promo poster for the second season and I loved it so much that I had to share it. On a pin board, photos, scribbled notes, highlighted information etc. make up the portrait of suspected terrorist St. Brody. With the addition of agent Carrie Mathison standing in front of the board and the tag line “The Obsession Continues…” it really is a brilliant and poetic image that examines the lead characters’ relationship and the hidden truths that they and the audience are yet to find out.