‘The Red Shoes: Working Creatively With Trauma’ was the name of the workshop I attended this morning. It took place in a conference room at The Holiday Inn, which has carpets reminiscent of ‘The Shining’ and a tacky central chandelier that threatens to crash to the floor at any moment.
When I arrived, I was not up for it. I didn’t want to think about the relationship between a dancer in a film getting her feet hacked off and the disocciation we all experience from our past traumas. Normally I love that sort of thing, but today I just wanted a chocolate twist and was sulking because I hadn’t managed to grab one on my way there.
“Oh my goodness, there’s a communist looking after my accounts!” Says one of my company’s most lucrative clients, as he spots my Jeremy Corbyn screensaver. Great. Now I’m trapped in a basement office full of Tories, ones that pay my wages, charged with the task of defending my personal politics, sans profanity. Rats. Perhaps I should have opted for a less controversial image instead; maybe the 2015 equivalent of Anna Kournikova picking her knickers out of her bum-crack, or Tom Hardy waving a big gun around.
On Saturday May 30th, some hackers impose themselves on St. Mary’s Church in Kemptown for a day of code-breaking, patch-sharing, idea swapping and tubthumping. Afterwards, something skin-sploshing and nerve-tingling happens. This is NOT how it happens:
“Hello Vicar, do you want to raise some money towards fixing this leaky old roof?”
“Well yes boys, of course!”
“How about letting us put on an experimental electronic noise gig?”
“Oh yes, we’re very progressive here in Brighton, that sounds wonderful. I love a bit of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.”
Wrestled up the grassy knoll, dragged through the graveyard and then placed inside the building to tower over pews like an icon, the piece is a tribute to industrial modernity exhibited within an archaic religious structure. Coley has appropriated the words from George Bernard Shaw (a known atheist) and is now installing his views in the sacred space of believers. The philosophy of architecture is Coley’s recurrent theme, with his work always asking us: What is my relationship to this space? What does this structure represent in relation to the society in which it was built? The piece is visually bold, politically rude and endlessly thought-provoking, well worth the uphill trek.
On Tuesday, I went to see Coley in discussion about his work at St. Nicholas’. He opened with a disclaimer along the lines of hating being asked to justify himself because the Art should speak for itself. Arrogantly insisting that he was “not trying to be provocative”, that “he didn’t care what viewers thought”, Coley, a Glaswegian, seemed most concerned with repeatedly congratulating himself on keeping his vote in the Scottish referendum on independence a secret. In response to questions from the public about ‘You Imagine What You Desire’, he said the statement was “ambiguous” and that he “wasn’t sure what it meant to him.” Fair enough I thought, but if you haven’t got anything to say, don’t take the stage.
Actually, I briefly considered asking for my six pounds back but then decided I like it when public figures don’t behave. It wasn’t quite as thrilling as that time Tracy Emin ripped off her mic and stormed out of a live channel 4 broadcast about the Turner Prize, but I did find myself fancying Nathan Coley, just a little bit, for having the ego to be so unduly hostile towards innocent fans of his work.
#TWO. The Same Face by Joseph Popper: A 1:1 scale model of a drone command centre installed in the basement of The Regency Townhouse, 13 Brunswick Square, Hove.
Jesus flippin’ Christ!!! Just watched Milibrand: The Interview. Apart from the repeated sexism that flowed from ‘heart in the right place, but in need of an education on gender equality’, Russell’s mouth, it played out like the best propaganda speech Labour could ever have hoped for. Ed has become eloquent. He must have won over a hell of a lot of ‘to vote or not to vote’ fence-sitters with his carefully agreeable approach. If Labour whips another few ballot-papers from betwixt the fingers of the Cons, it will be a small mercy, but it will be down to Russell. How is not being willing to engage with the current political system conducive to interviewing its champions? If Russell wants to maintain his stance that party-politics in the UK has become farcical and irrelevant, he probably shouldn’t be thrusting home the opposite message by inviting politicians to share his platform.
Lately, I haven’t been capable of engaging with poetic sadness in art. When it comes to focussing on society’s ills, I’ve felt more like ripping up newspapers in corner-shops with my teeth, throwing my hands in the air and swapping my tactical vote for a shit-stained ballot-paper. Perhaps that’s why I’ve waited so long before going to see Marlene Dumas’ major exhibition at Tate Modern; I know I’ll need to drop my current personal force-field of anger to empathise with her sensitive portrayal of subjects vulnerable to socio-political agendas beyond their control. Art exists in that space between the object and the viewer; the subject defines their experience of the object – and I want to be moved, not have my fire stoked. With Dumas, it’s going to be a fine line.
Elizabeth Bernholz (aka Gazelle Twin) speaks openly about her hyper self-aware creative process and the perks and pains of neurosis, before performing a set from 2014’s critically acclaimed album ‘Unflesh’. If you don’t know Bernholz, imagine a demurely dressed, eloquent thirty-something with a political mindset and an aggressive artistic drive. If you don’t know Gazelle Twin, picture a demonically possessed teenage girl, slow body-popping to dirty synth beats in her school P.E. kit.
Despite having read the Sick Festival blurb, I arrive at Fabrica to see Christopher Green’s ‘Prurience’ with two minutes to spare and the invented notion it will be an informative lecture on the evils of Internet porn. And to add insult to flawed logic I’ve decided the event must be billed as an ‘interactive performance’ due to the usual bit of Q & A audience participation thrown in at the end of such things. Oh no, it’s going to be a far less comfortable experience. Confusing, anger-inducing and at times excruciatingly embarrassing immersive theatre – set in a ‘fictional self-help group’ – that’s what I’ve inadvertently paid for.
Curse my last minute ticket purchase! – Resulting in ‘worst seat in the house’ at Brighton Dome Theatre; Row Z, half behind a pillar. Even with glasses, I can’t quite get the nuances in Stew’s facial expressions. It probably won’t matter. I’ve had a crush on him since the Fist of Fun days and should be able to predict exactly where the eyebrow raises, denoting the commencement of each carefully monitored pregnant pause, will lie within his material. After all this time, his stand-up may be formulaic and predictable in flow, but Stew is the original creator of a winning recipe and surely, inimitable in the flare and precision with which he delivers it, every time…
My only shenanigans tonight have been eating homemade chocolate brownies at a friend’s house just up the road from my own. Out-of-this-world tasty. Oh wherefore art thou self-control? I can’t stop feeling horny. I literally cannot stop…
I hadn’t heard these before. Very entertaining. I just listened to them in the kitchen with my housemates whilst we attempted to make three separate meals in one square foot of space. It lifted the atmosphere, which had been charged with frustration and exasperation from all the clambering over each other and fighting for utensils. Sometimes I wonder if it’s every British mans destiny to end up a dirty old perv, having surreptitious lonely wanks over the sprawling tits of brainless, hapless females they will never meet.
Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, the Internet connection at work was non-existent today.
So yes, it did induce feelings of happiness; followed closely by guilt with a hint of self-loathing, but I’m over it now. Nevermind. Tomorrow is another day and all that, one that can be filled by the gaping void that will replace smoking and eating calorific food.
I am very well, thank you. I do hope your poor shoulder isn’t causing you too much pain. A six-pack is something to do with American beer isn’t it?
It took me four hours to put up a window blind (that included a lot of running back and forth to the hardware store). Then I had my hair cut and my ‘friend’ did not do it how I wanted. I’ve written NOTHING, until now.
An hour was spent on the phone to my Aunt who kindly told me how to live my life. Apparently I’m doing it all wrong, and should be setting up a nice little nest for when I have children. I corrected her with ‘IF’, which she ignored.
Some Buddhists came round to chant with my housemate and instead of chanting with them I stayed in my bedroom drilling holes in the wall and wishing they would fuck off.
My dear, you are a master of concoction. The feast of literary delights you have produced is both sublime and disgusting. To attract and repel so forcefully through the power of each sentence is talent indeed. I can only imagine how your audience must be filled with the desire to mount the stage and throw themselves, lust-ridden and half-crazed at your feet whilst simultaneously scanning for the nearest exit from which to run, screaming.
I’ve been in all day. Got cabin fever. Managed to write a little bit more of my dominatrix dream sequence, have two successful wanks (bit tender now though, I had to try really hard, don’t know why) and then The Duchess came round for tea bringing with her a box of pop-tarts. Mmmm.
That video is hilarious. The auto-tuned backing vocal is terrifying, but overall I think I quite like the song. I see what you mean though, now that you’ve pointed it out, it is a little bit camp isn’t it.
Emailing is shit. You try and write something humorous and when you read it back you just sound thick.
My housemates have fucked off to Wales and Glastonbury so I am home alone for a couple of days. Bliss, this has never happened before and probably never will again.
Heavy Water is fantastic in its renaissance style imagery. I instantly thought of Persephone, Goddess of death and the many romantic paintings of her and in turn, the Cocteau Twins – always a dreary joy.
My day has been fucking unproductive but quite nice. My new housemate came home and we spent all afternoon having in depth discussions and cooking. I’ve just spent two hours on the phone with an old friend who I don’t see enough of, unravelling each others deepest darkest emotions – quite exhausting! He was the bassist in my old band and we were reminiscing about gigs. One of them was at the Carling Academy, perhaps the worst show I’ve ever played. We supported the usual black-clad anorexics, who sounded, of course, like a bleak, boggy landscape. They wouldn’t let us share their dressing room because we weren’t very good.
I confess that I used to be rather fond of ambient metal. I don’t know why, it’s very depressing.
This week I have been mostly fantasizing about claustrophobic sex. The kind where your bodies are pressed so closely together you can barely move. Hands over mouths, eyes locked, no sense of time. Spiritual sex I suppose… whilst masturbating with my ankles tied together.
Do you mind if we don’t? I didn’t realise you lived that side of London. I’ve just looked at the trains and to be honest, it’s put me off the whole idea.
Words and image by Rachel James
in the cramped basement of retro emporium cocktail bar The Black Dove. It’s Sunday evening and we’ve dragged ourselves out of our roast dinner coma’s to attend the first NEW SPACE: a low-key bi-monthly event showcasing new experimental/digital sound, visual and performance art. The night is run by audio-tech creatives Wesley Goatley and Danny Bright. Having experienced their work during Brighton Digital Festival, I know I’m in for a treat, I just can’t yet imagine the form it might take.
Just over a year ago, I was grabbed by news of Shia LaBeouf’s sky-written apology for his cinematic plagiarism of a story by graphic novelist Daniel Clowes. I began keeping an eye on his profile, noting public reaction to his subsequent acts of artistic appropriation, and the bizarre media downplay of LaBeouf’s claims that he was raped during his #IAMSORRY performance piece. More recently came the rumours about his method acting techniques for the film ‘Fury’; he joined the US National Guard, experimented with self-harm and underwent a Christian baptism. And now, in January 2015, he’s at the epicentre of a hysterical media shit-storm over Sia’s beautiful and moving Elastic Heart music video. I guess I don’t need to tell you any more about that, you’ve already seen it – 36 million You Tube hits in seven days. Hungry for more Shia, I delve into the pages of Winter’s Dazed and Confused. What delicious tidbits will Aimee Cliff reveal in her interview with this passionate and flawed controversy junkie?