Thursday, August 15, 2013

Totally Girl Powered screenings in Berlin and London

Still from Totally Girl Powered by Val Phoenix
I am pleased to announce that Totally Girl Powered will be screening this Friday at LaDIYfest Berlin in sunny Kreuzberg. Apparently, the venue is an adult education facility. Cool.

Then TGP moves south of the river to screen at Wotever Festival in London on the 27th.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Sounding the Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957-1984

A pretty specific title, that. And yet.... I have been meaning to get to this exhibit in sunny Shoreditch for ages and finally made it down this week. Most enjoyable it was, too. It's often difficult to appreciate sound art in the confines of gallery spaces so associated with visual art. Calvert 22 made some effort to display the works in accessible and aesthetic ways, with displays of notations, music stands showing scores and quite a lot of associated visual material.

In fact, the newsreel footage of Poland's Experimental Sound Studio was among the most strking--gorgeous black and white shots of gleaming equipment. One darkened room was showing Kalah, a film with Richter-esque visuals accompanied by bleeps and blips that reminded me of video games.

What was missing for me was context. Who were these artists? What conditions informed their work? The time span encompasses the post-Stalin era to the Solidarity movement, but there is very little in the captions to explain what was going on. I wasn't even clear on what countries some of them came from, although quite a lot of the artists seem to be Polish. And, where were the women? I counted only three female names (Katalin Ladik, Dora Maurer and Zofia Hansen) from more than 25.

The accompanying sheet does drop tantalising bits of info about "happenings" and the downstairs exhibit mentions post-Prague Spring movements, but the captions don't really relay this. Perhaps one needs to read the accompanying book mentioned in the notes, but not having seen it, I cannot say.

Definitely worth a visit, but you probably need to do a lot of research pre- or post-visit to get the most out of it.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

In Herne Bay

View from Neptune, Herne Bay; photo by Val Phoenix
Gingerly applying cold tea to my rather red skin today after a gloriously sunny day yesterday in Herne Bay. Following on from last summer's expeditions to Margate and Whitstable combining sea and art, I turned up hoping to see some of the attractions from the Duchamp in Herne Bay festival (tagline: I am not dead. I am in Herne Bay), celebrating the artist's summer stay in the town 100 years ago. It didn't quite turn out as I expected.

The first surprise was the lack of signage at the train station. No indication as to which way to turn to find the seaside, let alone the festival. I eventually made my way to the museum to see what was advertised as a free exhibition, only to find there was an admission charge. Couldn't find the festival shop and the HQ showed no signs of any festival doings either. Most puzzling.

My first 99; photo by Val Phoenix
I did, however, catch the live music-live cartoonist combo at the very lively Bandstand. I thought the pedal-powered cinema was also meant to be there, when I saw a poster for it right next to the cartoonist one. Only later did I catch the tiny, tiny print listing another destination, one I'd passed some two hours earlier! Ach. So, no cinema for me. I did at least catch some of the artfully designed bicycles parked in various locations. I didn't get the sense that most visitors had any idea why they were there.

Still, I enjoyed my ramble through Herne Bay, from the mesmerising Neptune outcrop stretching out to meet the pier (with its giant Fountain a la Duchamp), to my unsteady attempts to wade on the edge of the sea. I eventually made my way to Kings Hall on the eastern stretch of shore to watch a couple throwing a ball for their dog to fetch from the sea. Quite tiring for the dog, I would have thought. As I returned to London, I thought how handsome the city looked, bathed in pre-twilight sunshine.

The Duchamp festival continues through the 17th. Catch it if you can.