Monday, 15 February 2010

(not so)lonely hearts club


After the not-so-goodness that was Thursday, me and The Kitten decided to take matters into our own hands. When I was in my first year at Uni, I took a creative writing course. In that course, I wrote a story about two girls who sneak back stage at a rock concert by tricking the security guard. It was a shit story, but it was probably better than if I tried to write up what actually happened on Friday. The Kitten suggested we head to the Fanfarlo gig even though it was sold out, so after a sneaky pit stop at the Three Kings along to ULU we went. No scalpers were in sight so we sneakily joined the guest list queue and rattled off a few possible possibilities for blagging our way in. The people in front of us had tickets but they still seemed to be arguing about being on the guest list - we never quite figured out what was going down. They left in a huff after giving their tickets back to the guest-list lady. We decided that honesty was the best policy and so looked at the lady with the list as if we were in desperate need of some entertainment - which we were - and when she asked us if we were on the guest list, we said no and that we didn't have tickets and that we knew it was sold out, but what were those tickets the people in front of us had just given back and could we, like, maybe prettypleasewithacherryontop have them. Amazingly, the lovely lady gave us the tickets and we scampered downstairs like two girls who just won the lottery! The gig was great: lovely band - a sort of Beirut-lite - lovely vibe, lovely night.


After my usual Saturday morning ritual of the Ambassador + FT, I thought I'd head to the Tate Modern. I don't know why I keep going back to the Tate Modern. I'm beginning to think I'm a glutton for artistic punishment. The last show I saw at the Tate that I rated as a few degrees warmer than acceptable was the Cildo Meireles show last January. Thank god for the Level 2 gallery, though, as this seems to be the only place open to interesting contemporary work by people who are still alive. The Jill Magid show last fall was excellent and Michael Rakowitz' show, The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one's own, was the only thing that saved this visit from total irrelevance.

I suppose I shouldn't be so harsh. Everyone's experience of art is different and one of our lovely interns went to visit the exhibition when it first opened and was totally taken with the multi-disciplinary van Doesburg. Having said that, you're reading my blog so you probably don't care what our lovely intern thought...and I thought the exhibition was tedious and boring. If you're into Mondrian and Kandinsky, chances are you'll like van Doesburg, but I don't like Kandinsky and I'm not very into Mondrian and I certainly won't invest in an art movement that reduces all of life's complexities down to straight lines and primary colours.

But because I don't want anyone to accuse me of being an art nazi, I'll tell you what you should do. Skip the van Doesburg on level 5 and head straight to the level 2 gallery, which most people seem to skip for some reason even though it's free!! As my friends will attest, I typically hate anything to do with science fiction, but Rakowitz' combination of Star Wars and Saddam Hussein was provocative, hilarious, and strangely insightful. I'm not really a Star Wards fan, but I laughed out loud when I turned the corner into the last room - the set up and delivery of the central premise of the exhibition is absolutely delightful, yet so other and so creepy. Because I study ancient Rome and do a lot of reception, I always come across the comparison of Mussolini and imperial Rome, but to find that Hussein used the helmet of Darth Vadar as a model for paramilitary helmets is quite something else altogether. All the findings are presented by Rakowitz as half social history/half art and it all feels like peering through some kind of window into another world. Really wonderful stuff.


Part one - super hungover brunch (eggs florentine on brioche with gallons of earl grey tea) at what used to be the Patisserie Valerie on Brompton Road, but which is now something else even though it looks exactly like the old Valerie and seems to offer the exact same menu. Weird.

Part two - post brunch, The Designer and I headed to the V&A for our anti-Valentine's Day digital extravaganza to check out the Decode exhibition. Apparently most of the child-bearing population of London had the same idea and the place was rammed full of kids. Interactive exhibitions are a lot less fun when they're full of children. You have to wait politely for the midget drunks to finish so you can have some fun too, but the thing about midget drunks is that they have no conception of sharing and never realise that someone else would like to play too. And you can't really say anything to the kid like - dude, you've played long enough, piss off - as the parents look at you like you're a child molester.

Having said that, we still managed to have a laugh and we got to play with all the toys in the end. I think my favourite of all the displays was a bed of electronic reeds - you know, like reeds that grown on the sides of river banks - they had light and noise sensors in them so when you brushed the reeds with your hands or walked through them, they lit up and sang. There's also an interactive version of Radiohead's House of Cards video - you can use your fingers on the screen to move Thom Yorke's head all over the place.

Probably the most fun we had all afternoon was playing with a video camera. There's a screen set up that's divided into 25 smaller screens. In front of the screen is a monitor and a camera. You stand in front of the camera, push one of the squares on the monitor which then activates the camera which records a one-second video clip. The video clip is then speeded up and repeated endlessly in its section of the screen. I don't know if it was because we were hungover or if there's something about being in front of a camera that brings out the bonehead in people, but I could have played with that thing all day. Playing is the best! I think I laughed more yesterday than I have in ages. Though that may have also had something to do with the woman outside the V&A who looked at me like I was a crack whore when I said something to The Designer about how much I missed being able to open the door wearing nothing but a trench coat and saying, 'take me now!' Your lady turned around and gave me the death stare at which point my friend and I dissolved into hysterics.

Good weekend. Good friends. Good times.


J. Harker said...

I said something to The Designer about how much I missed being able to open the door wearing nothing but a trench coat and saying, 'take me now!'

You know, I'd have raised my eyebrows at that comment, too. Then again, it probably wouldn't have been so much in disapproval...

Phoenicia said...

My sentiments exactly! How could anyone disapprove of such a proclamation? Unfeeling woman!!