Friday 1 February 2002

Jerry Springer: the opera

Battersea Arts Centre, London

It’s a tall order to make something that is already an absurdity and parody it without making it cliché and trite. Yet Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee’s Jerry Springer: the Opera is able to do it wonderfully and hilariously.

With a witty sense of mockery and sympathy, the two-act play/musical/opera gracefully glides through the foolishness of the show without simply turning to bashing the people who partake or Springer himself. And just when the second act seems on the verge of veering into generic altruisms, the script gets back to the hilarity that made it engaging and amusing in the first place.

The first act takes place with a simple enough setting: a musical rendition of the Jerry Springer show. After a prologue from the studio audience singing “Jerry, Jerry” and the warm up man Jonathan (Ian Shaw) chiding on the audience, Springer (Rick Bland) comes down the centre aisle, shaking hands with the audience and begins the show, “Guests with Guilty Secrets.” The first act is all hilarity and laughs, seemingly lifted right from episodes of the show and put to music, right down to the commercial breaks advertising Prozac. They even have the “Jerry cam” follow around Chucky after he proclaims his only guilty secret is that he likes flowers more than people and expose him for a cocaine-snorting Ku Klux Klan member. The clan then comes on stage and a brawl ensues between the guests. However, unlike any episode broadcast thus far, Springer is shot and the lights close on the first act.


When the second act opens, (a little clumsily) Springer finds himself in hell, face to face with the devil. Satan himself demands that Jerry host a special performance of his show, mitigating a battle between the Dark Lord and Jesus. When this first started I had to cringe, fearing the worst type of moral posturing, but it actually turns out to be the best part of the show. All the divine figures (Adam and Eve, Jesus himself) turn out to be no better than the guests from the first half of the show. Adam sings that all women are no better than “whores and sluts” and Eve mocks Adam’s sexual stature.


Richard Thomas’ music is sublime and wonderfully carries the plot. The only member of the cast who doesn’t sing is Bland playing Springer. The rest of the script is sung and it gives a nice sense of what Springer has perfected: engaging with the guests without ever really seeming a part of them. He remains separate, but is forced to confront his separation by the end of the play. The snippets that Thomas wrote for the play are used briefly, sometime for only seconds. But the best bits recur, such as when Chantel (Adey Grummet) sings “Talk to the ass,” or “I just want to dance.” Thomas features the same songs when Grummet plays Eve, allowing the music to draw the comparison between the biblical figure and her mortal counterpart.


On the whole, you could criticise Stewart Lee and Thomas for simply using the people featured in the show for pot shots and absurd situational gags. But there’s also an underlying sympathy to it all. You can’t help but feel for the characters. They want some way out of the lifestyles they lead, but have been given no other choice and know no other alternatives. Lap dancing seems like a better life than being trampled all the time. The play is able to take the humour of the show and meld it with an understanding for the people of the show. Oh, and it’s simply great for a laugh.

 

Jerry Springer: the Opera is at Battersea Arts Centre, London until 23 February 2002

Now showing at the Royal National Theatre until 5 July 2003

 


Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

Devil’s Playground

Whitechapel Art Gallery, London

‘There’s a feeling of voyeurism that pervades Nan Goldin’s ‘Devil’s Playground’ exhibition in London’s Whitechapel gallery.


You feel as if you’re seeing something you shouldn’t, peering into intimacies that are normally kept behind closed doors and shuttered windows. Yet, strangely enough, you’re drawn inexplicably to the images of Goldin’s closest friends’ sexuality, drug use and sicknesses. Goldin’s work-as she herself has identified-is a realistic depiction of her life and the people surrounding her.

Goldin’s work is literally crammed into Whitechapel: every wall on the ground floor is densely packed with photos divided up into sections such as “Devil’s Playground” (the breathtaking titular selection of landscapes offers quite a different take from the rest of the exhibit), “First Love,” and “AIDS.” Each section is a documentation of a certain aspect of Goldin’s life and her relationships with her group of friends. Particularly affecting are the series of photographs documenting her friends’ AIDS related deaths in the 70’s and her depictions of her friend’s sexual relationships. They feel a little intrusive and awkward, but in certain instances (particularly the series with Simon and Jessica) the close proximity of Goldin’s camera catches the intimacy and passion of their love making.

The first floor contains a retrospective of Goldin’s career, capturing some of her more well-known work, including the 45-minute slide show “the Ballad of Sexual Dependency.” The slide show divides her photos into individually themed sections and lends some narrative structure to her massive body of work, developing some of her central themes-the inherent dependency of relationships, the love and suffering that we inflict through relationships, and empowerment and self-reliance.

The early photos allow you to develop a better sense of Goldin’s portraiture and style and to appreciate her latest work even more. While her early portraits are skilled, I was particularly captivated by the beauty of her landscapes in “Devil’s Playground,” and was able to realise that Goldin is still progressing. And doing a fine job at it.

One element that I noticed she utilises particularly well is the use of soft focus. The way her lens seems to mould to her subjects rather than simply depicting them gives the photo a sense of life and a feeling of sympathy and love.

Goldin’s snapshots of her life might make the viewer a little uncomfortable: you feel like you’re seeing something you’re not supposed to. Then you realise that it’s because they’re rare glimpses of life and the fleeting, intimate moments normally kept private.

Devil’s Playground runs at Whitechapel until March 31.


Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

Culture at the Crossroads

Charles Landry and Marc Pachter

Following the so-called ‘culture wars’ and the rise of postmodernism, postcolonialism, poststructuralism and various other ‘isms’, it is little wonder that the cultural institutions of Western society are going through something of an identity crisis.

Having been ignored and under-funded by the political right, and then made to feel emotionally insecure by the cultural left, the museums, galleries and libraries of Europe and America are fraught with anxiety about what role they should now play in contemporary society.

Culture at the Crossroads is an attempt to preach comfort, confidence and purpose to our cultural institutions in their time of need. Written by Charles Landry (Comedia Consultancy and author of The Creative City) and Marc Pachter (Director of the National Portrait Gallery, The Smithsonian, Washington), the book was produced in consultation with leading cultural figures and proposes a vision of what cultural institutions could achieve in the future. It is a timely work and asks probing questions about the relevance of cultural institutions in light of New Age values, new technologies and the new political landscape.

The book helpfully charts the life of our cultural institutions, beginning in the 19th century with Victorian social ideals about civilising the masses and then moving onto the fraught love affairs with agenda-led politicians in the 20th century. First the cultural world was plundered and ravished by the market economists of the right in the mid 80s, who argued that the ‘consumer is always right’ and that the effectiveness of the arts was to be measured in quantitative factors. Next, the institutions were made to feel ashamed about the superiority of the cultural objects in their possession by the cultural left who argued that the ‘Dead White European Male’ had dominated the canon for far too long. Landry and Pachter recognise that it is not the scarcity of funding alone that has brought about the curious sense of vulnerability of cultural institutions. Rather, the writers understand that it is the very values that these institutions were founded upon and purport to preach which are themselves under attack, ‘the crisis in our era’s willingness to make judgements’ (p16).

Certainly this crisis in mission is deeply felt throughout the cultural sphere. The traditional role of museums and galleries was to be guardians of ‘high culture’. But when the concept of ‘high culture’ fell victim to the culture wars, museums and galleries lost confidence about their work. Today, they seem only too happy to busy themselves with new ways to contribute to society - from tackling social exclusion and crime in the inner city to preaching to young people about the dangers of teenage pregnancy. In the words of journalist Josie Appleton, ‘Under the banner of social inclusion, museums are now busying themselves building community relations, challenging prejudice and tackling unemployment.’

As Landry and Pachter recognise, these institutions have become vulnerable to an instrumentalist view of culture. The magic of art is only justifiable if it can be explained as a contribution to social problems.

However, the insight into what has brought about the identity crisis in culture does not produce a convincing solution. Whilst Landry and Pachter argue for the importance of culture for itself, they too cannot resist the temptation to see culture as a panacea of social ills. Rather than lie down and be abused, they want cultural institutions to be more proactive and ‘to play a central part in the emerging social and economic landscape’. Their vision for culture remains an instrumental one, albeit in more holistic and subtle way.

The result is a manifesto for culture that sounds like therapy, a sort of stand-up-and-be-proud attitude, which bolsters the self-esteem of the cultural institutions. Rather than being side-lined by politicians, Landry and Pachter argue that in fact, culture should take centre stage and reach the parts that politics has failed to. They argue, ‘One task of cultural leaders is to build cultural leadership elsewhere - in public, business and voluntary bodies of all kinds so contributing to the pursuit of widespread change rather than sectional or personal interests’ (p.76).

Cultural institutions are being asked to create a vision, The Next Big Thing because it is clear that in a political vacuum, no-one else will have the courage to do it.

Some might argue that this is a positive thing, a welcome change from being rejected and exploited for decades by politicians. However, the flattery of cultural institutions in suggesting that they could possibly provide the ‘vision’ shows that we may in fact have too great expectations of them and too low expectations of our politicians. As Politics and Economics have lost the power to command people’s interest, Culture enters the scene to pick up the pieces. No longer a victim, it rises like the phoenix from the ashes, a new victor in the barren landscape.

However, it could be argued persuasively that if there were one group of people who should not be running society, it would be museum curators. With their particular expertise in special objects they may be guardians of our past but are they equipped to deal with the planning of our future? Can an understanding and passion about art substitute a lack of political leadership in society?

It is understandable that Landry and Pachter would much rather our cultural guardians were in charge of running society, because at least they display a passion and commitment to their field. They faithfully turn up to gallery openings and display the pulse of an intellectual life. How often do we see the House of Commons full? And when Tony Blair admits that he preferred to spend his time at university rehearsing in a rock band than being engaged in politics, it is not surprising that our political leaders seem an uninspiring lot.

However, the solution is not to ask the cultural institutions to adopt a new social role but to interrogate the political problems we have and demand that political leaders take responsibility for tackling them. Only then can cultural institutions be left alone to do what they do best.


Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

Warhol

Tate Modern, London

‘More than any other artist of his generation, Warhol showed us that the ubiquitous imagery of mass culture had come to reflect and shape contemporary life.’
Donna De Salvo, Senior Curator, Tate Modern


Prior to my visit to the Tate, Andy Warhol existed in my mind as a 20th century American cultural icon, the guy with the crazy blond hair and the artist who created the Campbell soup prints. Although his name was always familiar, I knew little of his life or the context for his work. Walking through the 21 showrooms of this exhibit, I viewed the origins and evolution of Warhol’s innovative art and gained a comprehensive picture of the man behind the silkscreen.

The exhibit begins with a selection of Warhol’s flower paintings from 1964. It then goes back to the beginning of his work, with his early paintings and sketches of popular culture, and proceeds sequentially throughout his career, showing the link between his life experience and his artistic transitions. Using objects and people consistently portrayed in the mass media, Warhol weaves a theme of media influence and mass culture into his pieces. Evolving from bright portraits of Marilyn Monroe to stark scenes of the electric chair, these well-known images make Warhol’s work immediately accessible and meaningful even to people outside the art world.

After viewing the familiar prints of dollar bills, Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell soup cans, I moved on to the room titled ‘Stars’. 16 Jackies, a mixture of Jacqueline Kennedy headshots before and after JFK’s assassination, stands out and gives human complexity and emotional depth, in my opinion, unseen in his earlier work with inanimate objects. By unveiling the vulnerability of a national celebrity under the media’s scrutiny, Warhol evokes sympathy and awareness.

At this point, the exhibit drew me in; perhaps, similar to the way Warhol tempted his followers in the 1960s to hang around his studio waiting for his next insightful creation.
As I left the first half of the exhibit and wandered through the café area, I felt compelled to scribble down the Warhol quotes painted on the walls.

‘I never read. I just look at pictures,’ he declared in 1968.

‘When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums,’ he said in 1985.

Warhol had the power not only to generate provocative art, but also to develop an enticing ideological and cultural movement apart from his artistic creations.

By producing a comprehensive, in depth look at Warhol, including an informative program that ties his life to his work, the Tate Modern’s exhibit keeps the viewer fixed on the artist and his intentions at all times; probably just as Warhol would have hoped. The inclusion of his many self-portraits, in which he assumes the position of popular icon, also heightens the viewer’s connection to him. Whether you see these images as self-indulgent or self-explorative, or both, you will likely leave the exhibit with his portrait planted in your brain.

From his harsh depiction of the death penalty and violence in the United States to his fascination with popular cultural icons, Warhol’s colourful commentary on the media influence and American society combines abrasive truth with casual wit. And his insight continues to entrance viewers and stir debate. For this reason especially, the Tate Modern exhibit succeeds.


Warhol runs at Tate Modern until 1 April 2002.


Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

Tuesday 1 January 2002

The Autograph Man

Zadie Smith

Alex Li-Tandem, the Autograph Man, is one of those romanticised losers you often encounter in novels. His self-absorbed, haphazard lifestyle, complete with adolescent job, is endured by his friends, who all, through oversights or mistakes on Alex’s part, are made in some way to suffer for it.

Alex is overweight, he is a drunk, he spends his evenings getting high or watching old films; his flat is no better kept than a student’s. Yet his friends would move mountains for him, he has a beautiful girlfriend (whom he cheats on), he owns a sports car (which he totals while on acid) and he is able to jet off to New York at the drop of a hat without giving it a second thought. People like this only exist in novels; they wouldn’t last a day in the real world, but we like reading about them nonetheless.

The Autograph Man follows Alex though some kind of early-to-midlife crisis towards a resolution of sorts. Alex’s heart isn’t in it: the resolution being offered is more a product of an intervention on the part of his friends than any growth or epiphany on Alex’s part. Alex rather likes his haphazard life. That’s what life is, haphazard, he concludes, there is no need for resolution, for growth.

For all of the above, Alex as a character, as a man, isn’t as bad as I have made out: he is capable of acts of compassion, of selflessness for the sake of it, not for the recognition; and all this is portrayed well by Zadie Smith. The portraits of Alex’s friends, his girlfriend and all the other minor characters that Smith populates her novel with are interesting, lifelike, and as such elicit our empathy. We can be moved by the situations they find themselves in and by their actions, decisions and thoughts, even if they pass out of the novel in the space of a few paragraphs and are only slightly glimpsed. Above all this is what Zadie Smith is famous for, or should be famous for: she can draw people.

This, however, is why I only managed the first half of Zadie Smith’s first novel, White Teeth. Plenty of great characters that simply run out of steam and don’t do anything particularly interesting. The Autograph Man has a larger fault, however. In many ways it is a good novel, in many ways it is a ridiculous novel.

White Teeth was hailed as a great tale of multicultural London, told by a young multicultural woman. Overnight Zadie Smith became a celebrity. The Autograph Man is clearly a response to the stereotype of Smith’s first novel, and of Smith herself. The themes of multiculturalism and fame are amateurishly tagged onto The Autograph Man.

Alex Li-Tandem is half-Chinese, half-Jewish. His friends consist of a progressive rabbi, who in is youth was caught sleeping with a Hindu girl; a black Jew, who is learning Russian; and a little man who seems to be half-German, and who is gay. His girlfriend is black. His idol, Kitty Alexander, a half-Russian half-Italian American 1950s movie star, in Alex’s favourite film plays a young Oriental girl seeking stardom in the most multicultural of all cities, New York.

It is fair enough for Smith to react in her second novel against the pigeon-hole she was forced into after publishing White Teeth, but it would have been admirable rather than merely understandable, if she had risen above such considerations. Her reaction is amusing at first, then a little tiring, then just plain annoying, serving only to get in the way of her characters and her story.

The second tagged on theme is that of celebrity. Under the dust-jacket, like a little private joke for everyone to share in, in large gold type are the words: ‘Fame! I’m gonna live forever!’ Alex himself chases after autographs, the ultimate abstraction of fame, merely the name itself, not attached to a person, an achievement, anything said or done. Again, nice gag. Zadie Smith writing about celebrity, get it? The truth is Alex could have been doing any job that the average teenager might dream of and The Autograph Man would have been much the same novel, just lacking one joke.

Zadie Smith’s strength is in her characters - which is a rather nice strength to have as a novelist - and not just the ones that walk and talk. The descriptions of London, the trains, the streets, pubs and hospitals all point to what Smith might still accomplish: they are felt rather than merely described; they take on their own character. Her storytelling is lacking, however. In White Teeth it was almost nonexistent, or maybe just drawn out and placed in the last 200 pages of the novel. In The Autograph Man, it is ruined by a childish desire to tag on some point, as if her characters and story were not enough.


Fiction

Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

Sunday 1 July 2001

Experiencing Eminem

A New Labour man contemplates one of the weirdest events of his life

Have you ever wondered what your reaction would be if you met someone whose views or actions you strongly objected to?

I would like to think that if I met Prince Philip tomorrow, I would kick him on the shins. I’m not a violent man, but I think a kick on the shins would provide just about the right level of humiliation for that reactionary old racist. But when I consider what I would say to one of the most disgusting figures currently in the public eye, Eminem, I find myself at a loss.

Earlier this year I attended the Brit Awards - the annual shindig of the British pop industry, plastic to the core (with just a bit of frankly very boring guitar music - Coldplay - around the crust). I felt pretty incongruous - despite my youth, I am more into Bob Dylan than Westlife. However, hanging out as I was with the great and good from one of the trendiest Labour constituencies, I don’t expect Michael Cashman and company found me to be much of an annoyance. But still, I could not help but feel out of place, and none more so than when the American rapper Eminem performed.

I was genuinely surprised that some of the people in the same party as me were looking forward to seeing Eminem. I should point out that my objections to the man are purely political, and this is a political article; I do not like rap music in particular, but I do not have any objection to it as a musical form which people can enjoy. When it comes to Eminem, I could not care less about his musical genre of choice. But when I protested to my colleagues that Eminem was homophobic and mysogenistic, moreover that via his music he encouraged violence towards the objects of his hatred, I was hit with what is best described as a barrage of reactionary tabloid cliches. “He doesn’t mean it”. “It’s all ironic”.

How did my colleagues know this? Have they ever read or observed Eminem attempt to paint himself as some sort of social satirist, with hidden meanings, reversed messages between the lines, and dark humour all interwoven into his lyrics? (I didn’t phrase my retort quite like this, you’ll be relieved to hear.) No. In fact, the only people who make these explanations are fans of the rapper. In an article in the Guardian in February, Giles Foden does his best to fall into this category. Advising critics of Eminem such as myself to “relax a little”, Foden correctly admits that Eminem makes “deliberately inflammatory statements”, but then plucks out of nowhere the assertion that in doing so the rapper is merely “parodying less thoughtful rappers”. Where is his evidence for this? There is absolutely none. To support his claim that Eminem’s incitements to violence are not sincerely meant, Foden offers us “the younger fans who buy Eminem’s albums probably understand this instinctively”.

If this is the best he can do, then I am afraid he has no case at all. Knowing that no evidence of the type I am demanding exists, he tells us that young people might somehow have an instinct for recognising the lyrics’ unproven irony. To be fair, he does quote Eminem in non-song mode once, saying “There are kids out there who, believe it or not, want to be the have-nots”. So it is okay for him to encourage violence towards homosexuals and women, because the people who might do it want to do it anyway? Eminem sings disgusting and potentially very dangerous lyrics; he offers no justification or qualification, from which we can only assume he means it; people like the lyrics; they realise how distasteful they are; and so they invent an excuse. To excuse yourself admits a weakness - hence the ideal solution is to excuse the performer instead. But Eminem seeks no excuse, and deserves one even less. His songs are anti-gay, anti-women, and pro-violence towards gays and women.

But let us return to the Brits, where Eminem received a rapturous reception and performed a song for us. When he came on, I moved away from my table, as I was keen to shout my protest at him and did not want to embarrass my colleagues too much (very New Labour, I must admit). So I moved nearer the stage and began making what was very much a one-man protest. This was a waste of time, other than for getting my adrenalin pumping in a way which I have only really experienced at demonstrations, as the music was extremely loud, and I soon noticed some security men prowling about.

Instead, I decided to wander around the arena, trying to gauge the reaction of people to Eminem. This proved to be, without any exaggeration, one of the weirdest events of my life. The teenagers at the front of the house were going absolutely wild. I have seen footage of Beatlemania, and I guess this was something similar. Even the motivations of the thirteen year olds were probably similar - they were going wild about the latest pop star. But at the time, the Beatles were saying She Loves You, Help, I Feel Fine, for god’s sake! Eminem, on the other hand, was inciting violence against certain groups of people. Did any teenage girls go out there after that and beat up a gay person? Well, probably not. But this country is a long way from eradicating prejudices such as homophobia and sexism. It is without question a social good that all people are treated equally and can live free from the fear of violence, and free from any form of prejudice simply because of what type of person they are. To achieve this will take a hell of a lot more struggle. Should we as a society be paying Eminem to preach his prejudiced gospel? Given that it threatens the mental well-being, self-respect and, yes, physical safety of some people?

The young people, then, went wild. They went hysterical. It is difficult to describe quite how disturbing it was for me to witness such a reaction to this man, considering the sentiments he was expressing. I am not interested in the face mask or the switched-off electric drill; these were just pathetic attempts at scaring people, made by a pathetic man. In fact his intentions in that regard were, in my mind, a touch ironic, as he did not need such sidelines in order to scare. Of course, I realise that there was not a direct relationship between the lyrics and the reaction. But in a way this is more worrying than if there had been - at least then it would be clear what we faced. But as it was - do these young people listen to the lyrics at all? If so, to what extent? Do they approve of the prejudices? If so, what hope is there for those of us who desire - and strive for - the creation of an equal society? What scares, or at any rate worries, me most is the possibility that these questions cannot be answered.

Eminem will probably fade away, like most modern pop stars. But the effects of his bigotry may remain.


Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

Thursday 1 February 2001

Inside Out

Esther Cawley - Quay Art, Kingston-upon-Hull

Esther Cawley is Quay Art’s First In-Studio Award winner for this year.

The award is designed to encourage creative development by giving ‘an artist time, space and money to research, experiment and make new work.’ Yippee! At last, money is going to artists rather than administrators. I hope this continues.

For Quay Art’s money Cawley has produced five oil paintings each featuring a human figure. At first we assume that the figure is female, portrayed as it is in a tradition and a product of a culture that has long objectified the female form. On closer inspection our assumptions are soon challenged. Feminine poses, and long, painted finger nails conceal what seems at times to be a masculine body: big boned, wide shoulders, flat chest and muscular arms.Cawley paints the torso, a life study if you like, rather than a portrait of her subject, so as to conceal the identity of the sitter.

Cawley’s work concerns itself with the way we view the body, and is challenging our (male) gaze. Esther Cawley’s art questions notions of identity as she presents us with a series of images of what we discover to be a pre-operative transsexual. This notion of transexuality is suggestive of a body in flux. Rather than viewing a female figure, we find ourselves gazing at a body which is neither female nor male and yet presented as seductive and sensual.

Cawley rejects photo-realism painting for an expressive realism and a painterliness that is not in vogue these days. On studying these works one can find similarities with the painter Jenny Saville who also goes for an aggressive and loose brush style that emphasises the fleshiness of the subject’s body and concentrates on the craft of painting and making of art rather than on the concept. How else but through realism can we register the world’s contradictions and complexities? One wonders whether Cawley, having left some art school in the southeast, has reacted strongly against the dominance of the ready-made and ‘conceptual’ art and the shallowness in which these styles and forms have too often been used to fill gallery spaces. We may well be witnessing resurgence in realism and a new objectivity in art in Britain.


Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

TERRAIN VAGUE - JOAN FONTCUBERTA

Beverley Art Gallery, East Riding of Yorkshire

Joan Fontcuberta produces works that resemble paintings; grattages, frottages, decalcomania or the hand printed solvent transfers that feature in the works of Robert Rauschenberg.

On closer inspection we observe that they are large format black and white photograms that bring together elements of photomontage and straightforward photography. These pictures are made in the darkroom using these combined techniques to produce semiabstract images.

The pictures mix photographic images of buildings and solarised industrial landscapes with mechanical objects floating over the representational to create a photomontage effect. A mangled mess of wires in what seems to be a whole photogram, actually overlaps an obscured industrial scene in a tangled web of the natural and manmade. X-ray images of circuits and valves float in industrial smoke and sometimes jostle for space with newsprint splashed across the sky above what looks like a contemporary industrial landscape.

In these works we are confronted by visual puzzles where we find clues. The newsprint that appears in a bleak sky turns out to be the headlines from a local Sheffield newspaper. From these clues of objects and printed material I sense a curiosity into the death of Britain’s industrial base.

The artist is acting in the role of archaeologist, making recordings and collecting artefacts, scouring wasteland in the North of England, scraping away the dirt to find traces of the past. He discovers various objects that include cogs, wires, pipes, valves and pistons. The wire used in a number of the photograms at first resembles the effects of action painting. In context it may represent a freeze frame of light in motion or a ghost like image of sparks from a factory furnace that once blazed and spat molten metal. Are we meant to be nostalgic of these relics from some golden age of manufacturing? Of course now this country does not have a traditional manufacturing base; it is now replaced by the creative industry of which Fontcuberta is a part, or the new virtual industries that dominate our lives and mainly exist apart from the physical world.

Moholy-Nagy in his photograms and montages seems to celebrate the industrial and mechanical. In contrast, despite the use of similar photographic techniques, Fontcuberta could be mourning the loss of the industrial and the traditional communities through the scouring of its ruins in these urban twilight zones. He also could be expressing criticism of the industrial revolution’s effect on nature, since nature encroaches on industry’s ruins and reclaims the wasteland in many of the images. From further observation we sense a feeling of distance between the artist and his subject, which is exacerbated by the use of a combination of photographic techniques, which are mainly produced in the darkroom, away from the environment that fascinates him. Ultimately, these works exist at the interface, between nature and industry, the real and the virtual and the taking and making of visual images.

Beverley Art Gallery
Champney Road
Beverley East Riding of Yorkshire
Tel: (01482) 883903
Until 18 March 2001


Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

Gender and Genre in Impressionist Portraiture

National Gallery, 16th January 2001

In the nineteenth century, the portrait form explored and celebrated the individual as a unique and dynamic identity.

By isolating a person on the canvas, the artist recognized him as a subject with a character and will of his own. Genre, on the other hand, was the painting of social scene, a sketch of the modern metropolis, where characters represent static social ‘types’, rather than unique personalities. Tamar Garr’s lecture gave a fascinating account of how the Impressionist artists used portraiture and genre to construct and comment on the process of constructing individual identity in relation to social expectations.

In the nineteenth century, it was widely held amongst the artistic community, that only certain individuals could be painted in portrait - namely, bourgeois, artistic or aristocratic men - as only they could be understood as dynamic ‘subjects’ with a sense of their own unique identity. Consider Pissaro’s portrait of Cezanne, a rustic character built up through minor detail (the fragment of a radical newspaper in the background, the torn peasant clothes, the size of Cezanne’s body overpowering the canvas). Or portraits of bourgeois factory owners, dressed in expensive suits and assertively facing the viewer head on. These are representations of men able to act and think independently. In comparison are the fragments of social scenes typified in Manet’s ‘Music Hall’ (1862) or ‘The Tuilleries’ (1873-4) where characters fit within a wider social panorama, not examined as individuals in their own right.

Of course, such distinctions between individuals and social types were closely related to gender and the representation of women. At the risk of reciting a cliché, women were beautified ‘objects’ in nineteenth century art, possessing no subjectivity to be understood or explored. Women were often painted indoors, behind net curtains, or as a diminutive part of the painting. Renoir’s ‘Woman at Embroidery Frame’ captures this division between the idealized stasis of women and the social dynamism of men. The woman is properly dressed and seated, concentrating on domestic tasks. Yet in the background are men, stood casually with hands in their pockets, staring at paintings on the walls. They seem to be in a social space (a gallery or the Salon) discussing art with each other, whilst she sits still in the foreground, being a piece of art and nothing more.

However, the Impressionists liked to stir things up and according to Garr, there were constant discussions in the nineteenth century about the irreverent use of portraiture for women. Critics were astounded that men were being represented as diminutive figures behind curtains whilst women were being painted reading newspapers and dominating the canvas space. Contemporaries of Manet attacked his portrait of fellow artist, Eva Gonzales, at the easel because it was considered too realistic a representation of her features. Garr suggests that the painting deliberately overlaps the forms of genre and portrait to attract attention to the way women are constructed as social types. Gonzales is posing as an artist but unsuitably dressed in eveningwear, with a foot raised on the footstool (which was thought to be indecent in the company of men at the time), and she appears to be painting a finished canvas (one of Manet’s, rather than her own). Manet even signs his name on a scroll within the painting, stamping his presence as the real artist, whilst she is only pretending. Is she a social type, created solely by the artist, or is she an individual identity, with a character independent of the artist’s brush? Garr suggests the former.

Garr does not explicitly provide a motive behind this play with gender convention in Impressionist painting though her subtle hint that some of the Impressionists were proto-feminists is unconvincing. It would be interesting to enrich her analysis by widening the net of her study to other ‘unsuitable’ subjects of portraiture at the time (i.e. the Parisian working class) and not be confined strictly within gender. More than viewing these paintings as social commentary and the liberation of women on the canvas, they perhaps say more about the Impressionists’ fascination with the construction of identity and subjectivity more generally during the late nineteenth century.


Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

The Politics of Art

Gustav Metzger and Mark Wallinger at the ICA, London, 8 February 2001

Society cannot function without visual art, said Gustav Metzger, after spending an hour and a half apparently arguing for the extermination of humanity.

In fact, I suspect this man cares as deeply about humanity as he does about art (and not just because one depends on the other). Metzger looks about a hundred, and talks like a crazy East European emigre, which I guess he is. He began his talk by making clear that he had agreed to speak only on the understanding that he would talk about politics and not art.

Actually his proposition that an international tribunal should be established to try humanity for crimes against nature had the feel of an outlandish work of conceptual art. Speaking under a slide showing an iguana on a rock set against a seascape with a large ship, Metzger said that we should at least consider abandoning the planet to the hard-done-by animal kingdom. The only consideration he cited in favour of staying alive was that it may be necessary for humans to protect the earth from a meteor shower.

There are people who really think like this, but Metzger is not one of them. Many years ago, Metzger proposed a three-year international moratorium on art as a way of making both artists and the public think about the meaning and importance of art. His modest proposal concerning humanity itself seems to have been made in the same spirit. A thoughtless belief in humanity is not really a belief in humanity at all, and the same can be said about art.

By the end of the meeting, Metzger was explicitly lamenting the proliferation of non-art, complaining that the growing demand for art has led to a celebration of mediocrity, with art students expecting and getting their own shows straight out of art school. He argued that artists must be prepared to struggle with obscurity and failure. Maybe if they did, the public wouldn’t have to.

Mark Wallinger took a different approach to the politics of art. His art is political in the straightforward sense that it addresses social issues. In Capital (1990), he painted a series of portraits of homeless people (actually Wallinger’s friends in costume) standing in the doorways of banks. The rather obvious juxtapostion of wealth and destitution aside, Wallinger was challenging the hierarchies of traditional art by portraying social outcasts in a form usually reserved for the elite. By using his friends, I suppose, he was also drawing attention to the individual humanity of ‘the homeless’, an entity whose forebears might have been represented only in sprawling landscapes or bustling street scenes.

For Wallinger, painting as a medium in itself is finished. It is impossible to paint without irony, and so artists have to work with the cliches. Perhaps it is not so much that his art carries a political message then, as that the political message is the art. Significantly though, Wallinger has elsewhere been critical of theoretical excesses in contemporary art. Along with Mary Warnock, he edited Art For All?, a recent collection of essays opposing the UK government’s arts policy. His own essay is a polemic against lazy conceptualism that depends on curators and critics to make sense of it for the public. Wallinger’s art at least refers to reality.

In fact, he has been criticised for being too narrowly British in outlook, though not in a patriotic sense. Oxymoron, a union flag in the colours of the Irish tricolour, demonstrates Wallinger’s intrigued but not enamoured approach to the nation. (Actually this piece made me think about colour more than politics.) Metzger asked him to comment on his preoccupation with Britain, especially as he will be representing the country at the Venice Biennale this year. Wallinger expressed some anxiety over whether he was making art for the Venetian bourgeoisie or for someone from Plaistow in East London. Clearly, the nature of the art public and whether it is constituted nationally, politically or aesthetically, is central to any discussion of art and politics.


Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

Tuesday 1 August 2000

Chanson:The Space in Between

Barb Jungr

In her sleevenotes to this album, Barb Jungr writes:

“I include the Harburg and the Porter because they set the scene for a Paris which probably only ever existed in the imagination, but is no less real for that.”


This conviction, that a Paris of the imagination is in its own way as vivid and real as the Paris that you’ll find in northern France, underpins the whole of this magical album and gives it its power.

The album is a journey through just such a Paris of the imagination, a city of atmospheric haunts and perpetual fallings in and out of love. The selection is eclectic: the aforementioned Yip Harburg and Cole Porter; new translations of songs by Jacques Brel, Jacques Prevert and Leo Ferre; and material of a more contemporary origin. Jungr has an impressive reputation as an interpreter of cabaret, a tradition whose popularity seems only to grow with each passing year. But the title of Chanson suggests that the French tradition Jungr works with here deserves to be considered as an entity distinct from cabaret.

What, precisely, distinguishes chanson from cabaret? We can turn to Jungr for a clue. Earlier this year, she wrote an article for The Singer magazine in which she asked the great HK Gruber why he termed himself a ‘chansonnier’ rather than a cabaret singer. Gruber’s answer:

“Because what I sing is not always funny, and cabaret suggests being funny. In Vienna or Berlin, a cabaret number suggests being able to make the audience laugh, and of course the cabaret is a place in which bands and music play, but most of all we expect someone who tells jokes and stories with political subjects, taking the mask off the heroes which then are demystified so they are not heroes anymore. That is the function of cabaret.”

So beyond the French subject matter and setting, the chanson is distinct from cabaret because the cabaret singer has a remit to entertain at the level of humour, and the chansonnier does not. More specifically, whereas the cabaret singer has a duty to authenticity (revealing the true colours of the people and institutions that are its subject matter), the chansonnier has a duty to sincerity. Most of the songs on Chanson would be impossible to sing if they were treated merely as a role to be played and then discarded. These songs beg to be made the singer’s own; one cannot imagine them being sung by somebody who had not loved and lost with the best of them.

Jungr’s task, then, is no easy one. The transmission of sincerity through music is one of the most intangible and difficult challenges a singer can undertake. Jungr, it must be said, rises to the occasion magnificently. Her voice shifts gear from song to song and within each song to bring these diverse pieces to life, but the sincerity behind the voice is palpable and constant. A haunting version of Jacques Brel’s Ne Me Quitte Pas sets the scene for her Paris of the imagination, beginning the album, appropriately enough, at the end of a love affair. Already this Paris is no blank slate, but awash with memories. The music shifts into the present tense with Robb Johnson’s song Sunday Morning St Denis, a showcase for Jungr’s skilled band of accompanists. The Eastern European flavour of this song, in an arrangement by Kim Burton, is reminiscent of Greg Cohen’s more exotic arrangements for Tom Waits. As Jungr’s voice weaves through the accordion and double bass like the River Seine, Paris really comes to life in this song - it carves out a little self-contained pocket of the city as its own.

Much of the album is spent flitting between the past and present tense. In the past tense, we have Ferre’s Quartier Latin (a song about revisiting memory-soaked settings) and Brel’s Marieke (a song about the accumulated memories of travelling to and fro to visit a loved one). Porter’s I Love Paris straddles the past and present, encompassing the recurring seasons of the year. In the present tense we have Brel’s Les Marquises (the immediate prospect of death) and most memorably, a version of the defiant Edith Piaf classic Cri du Coeur, whose enthusiasm is infectious.

The centrepiece of Chanson: The Space In Between, and the greatest vehicle for the both the versatility of Jungr’s voice and the sincerity of Jungr’s soul, is her heart-stopping rendition of Brel’s La Chanson des Vieux Amants. Brel’s depiction of undying devotion in the midst of spiritual wilderness hinges on a mood that is very difficult (not to say draining) to pin down, and credit is due here to Des de Moor, for his masterful new translation of the song. But it is Jungr who has the job of pulling it off, and pull it off she does. The album is worth owning for this song alone.

After La Chanson des Vieux Amants, Jungr can go no further inward into the heart of her imaginary Paris; Brel’s song really is the nadir of anguish. So in the remaining third of the album she strikes outward, on a note of conciliation and forward-looking. If I have a problem with the album as a whole, it is that two of these more upbeat songs, namely Elvis Costello’s New Amsterdam and Jungr’s own composition The Space In Between, feel somewhat out of place here. They seem to dissipate the web of complementary moods and settings that the album builds up beforehand.

This aside, Jungr’s album is a wonderful thing. Its greatest achievement is to take a collection of songs, mainly love songs, and deliver them living and breathing into the 21st century. A great love song has a life all of its own - as we grow older and grapple with our own changing concerns, the love song waits in the wings, eternally young. It takes custodians such as Barb Jungr to breathe life back into the love song, to remind us that it never really went away.


Music

Enjoyed this article? Share it with others.

Page 136 of 136 pages « First  <  134 135 136

Resources

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical

Contemporary Writers
New writers, new works, databased by the British Council

Pen Pusher
London-based free literary magazine

Story
Celebrate the short story!

Orange Prize
Only the fairer sex need apply

Man Booker Prize
Literary Prize of the Finest Quality

Granta
The up and coming speak

The Bookseller
Infused with news from the world of books

International Pen
Writers around the world campaign for freedom of expression

Serpent’s Tail
Independent publisher for experimental voices

Random House
Fiction from the biggest publisher around

Edinburgh Book Festival
Books books and discussing books galore

Jewish Book Week
Celebrating, discussing and critiquing Jewish Lit


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Contemporary Writers
New writers, new works, databased by the British Council

Pen Pusher
London-based free literary magazine

Story
Celebrate the short story!

Orange Prize
Only the fairer sex need apply

Man Booker Prize
Literary Prize of the Finest Quality

Granta
The up and coming speak

The Bookseller
Infused with news from the world of books

International Pen
Writers around the world campaign for freedom of expression

Serpent’s Tail
Independent publisher for experimental voices

Random House
Fiction from the biggest publisher around

Edinburgh Book Festival
Books books and discussing books galore

Jewish Book Week
Celebrating, discussing and critiquing Jewish Lit


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Contemporary Writers
New writers, new works, databased by the British Council

Pen Pusher
London-based free literary magazine

Story
Celebrate the short story!

Orange Prize
Only the fairer sex need apply

Man Booker Prize
Literary Prize of the Finest Quality

Granta
The up and coming speak

The Bookseller
Infused with news from the world of books

International Pen
Writers around the world campaign for freedom of expression

Serpent’s Tail
Independent publisher for experimental voices

Random House
Fiction from the biggest publisher around

Edinburgh Book Festival
Books books and discussing books galore

Jewish Book Week
Celebrating, discussing and critiquing Jewish Lit


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Battle of Ideas

Institute of Contemporary Arts

Intelligence Squared

Gresham College

LSE Public Lectures

Fabian Society Events

Exhibitions and Talks at the British Library



Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for this year’s Battle of Ideas festival.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival

Internet Movie Database
IMDB - does exactly what it says on the tin

BFI
British Film Institute’s Finest

BFI’s Sight and Sound
World cinema eating its heart out

They shoot pictures, don’t they?
Dedicated to the art of directing

Barbican Film
Some of the most innovative films in town

ICA Film
Independent, political and art-house gorge-fest

National Media Museum
Not nearly as bad as it sounds

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival

Internet Movie Database
IMDB - does exactly what it says on the tin

BFI
British Film Institute’s Finest

BFI’s Sight and Sound
World cinema eating its heart out

They shoot pictures, don’t they?
Dedicated to the art of directing

Barbican Film
Some of the most innovative films in town

ICA Film
Independent, political and art-house gorge-fest

National Media Museum
Not nearly as bad as it sounds

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.