Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Bobby Baker inhabits a peculiar space within the British art world. Dedicated to art and performance, not particularly interested in theatre, Baker has a magnificent reputation among performance folk, but does not enjoy much recognition outside that circle.

Ask the average person about Bobby Baker and chances are, that the answer will be negative.
Listen to that name. Bobby Baker.
Very likely to be a man (a point to which she draws her audience’s attention at the beginning of each of her performances). Could be a jazz musician perhaps, with that alliterative vibe of the BB, the informal Bobby, the surname Baker reminding us of Chet and Anita.

But on the performance scene, Bobby is a star. As is often the case for a woman, her work is mostly read autobiographically, but Baker has done little to dispel with this practise, hinting at marriage and labour and domesticity and openly referring to her mental health problems, which seem to act as both catalyst and barrier for her artistic output.

Baker usually uses food as means through which she tells a story. The story is often bound in her own experiences and the food symbolises births, deaths and other important events in her life, big or small.

Bobby Baker is now launching her ‘bumper package’, consisting of a book, her DVDs and a new website, by performing for two consecutive days at Toynbee Studios. The package will chart almost 30 years worth of dedicated work and is bound to be a must-have for Baker fans. At the performance we are promised 'abundant toasts, toast, specialised buns' and 'complimentary customised cakes and boxes of beverages will be provided.' Well, it doesn't get much better than that.

See Bobby Baker at Toynbee Hall on 8th or 9th March, from 5 to 7 pm. Tickets can be booked through Artsadmin, here.

I was quite excited about the prospect of The Last Enemy. Those lucky enough to get preview tapes had been positive, the trailer looked snazzy, and I am, openly and honest-to-God, rather taken with Benedict Cumberbatch – officially of course because he is an outstanding actor, in actual fact because I have a thing for skinny boys with deep, posh voices.

To write that I am disappointed is probably an overstatement – ultimately I didn’t care enough to be so. But it sure wasn’t great. Cumberbatch was lovely, he does awkward so well – but the story – oh, the story. Now, I had been warned that it was all a bit outlandish, and I have no problem with that. What was so annoying about it was:

a) If it looks like Spooks, and it walks like Spooks –is it Spooks?
b) If Cumberbatch’s character can find someone on the all-seeing surveillance system, why can’t anyone else?
c) If you have OCD and don’t want to touch people who are ill, is it then okay to touch people, who have touched people, who are ill?

So, reviews were mixed – some were less than impressed, others called it mesmerising and moreish. I’m not sure why.

And I’m not sure I can be bothered tuning in again next week, not even for Benedict Cumberbatch.

Monday, April 30, 2007
If you haven’t yet seen the Alvar Aalto exhibition at the Barbican, you really should - at least if you have the slightest interest in architecture and design, and in exploring how this can be combined with a thoroughly humanistic worldview. Aalto’s design of the Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium from 1933 shows an architect concerned with usability and aesthetics but more than that with a concern for the human being. The patients’ room are designed with the comfort of the patient in mind; lights are placed high on the wall and are upturned so as to not bother the eyes, curtains can be stowed away – all so that the patient, who would be lying down for most of the time, can be as relaxed as possible. To Aalto, architecture is for everyone - not just the privileged should live in beautiful, comfortable surroundings.

The exhibition has been curated by the Japanese, American-based architect Shigeru Ban. Ban is the winner of the competition launched by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, to create a new arts centre in Metz. The Barbican has a small showing of Ban's independent works as well as an investigation into the similarities to style and approach in Ban and Aalto's works. Highly impressive are Ban's paper structures, most of which function as temporary shelters, office spaces and exhibitions. The Paper Church, which was built to serve as a community centre/church shortly after the Kobe earthquake in 1995, has since been used in Taiwan and can be folded and/or recycled after use. Ban has also built shelters for tsunami victims in Sri Lanka and is generally concerned with using architecture in humanitarian aid.

Alvar Aalto: Through the Eyes of Shigeru Ban is at the Barbican until 13th May.

If there is a God then why does he allow one sock to go missing in the laundry?
At least he could take a pair.
How do you fashion a butterfly out of papier-mâché?
Why does the bus always arrive the moment you've lit a cigarette?
There is now a place for you to go for answers to these all-important questions. Advicebooth on Brick Lane will make sure that you're never in doubt again and will even throw in a lollipop! It will only cost you a pound and you will be given this vital information on a typewritten piece of paper for you to consult from time to time. The good folks behind Advicebooth will be at your service every Sunday. You can track opening hours and activity on their myspace page.

Saturday, April 28, 2007
Watching Martin Crimp's 1995 play Attempts on Her Life at the National in London, is not unlike zapping the remote. 16 seemingly disconnected scenes attempt to show various part of the life of Anne, or various types of Annes, or, in a broader sense, how we all are constructed by what we like, where we go, who we know and how we do what we do. Consequently, Anne is shown to be a terrorist, the girl next door, a type of car even, and is characterised mainly by her absense - there is no definitive Anne. The one weakness within the production is not the liberal use of references as such but how precise the references are. Creating a scenario that is pitch-perfect Newsnight Review is funny but when Tom Paulin and Germaine Greer are so clearly being impersonated, one feels as if watching Bremner, Bird and Fortune. If I should ever want to watch Bremner, Bird and Fortune (which is unlikely)I should hope to find them at a market fair for free. Similarly the musical scenarios are tiresome, especially the ABBA segment - haven't we seen that time and again?

In the 21st century theatre, not many people are offended by swearing or the occasional nudity (unless this is undertaken by Harry Potter) but what does offend is when people cannot decipher what is going on. If they cannot root the action somewhere recognisable (in time, in space), they cannot comprehend how they are supposed to feel. Attempts on Her Life does not tell you how to feel or how to act but notices society the way it is right here and now. The flaw in an otherwise interesting 2007 production is that it seems as if we were still in 1995. This is mainly due to the direction of the play and however much I admire Katie Mitchell I wish she would have acknowledged how interesting this play still is by keeping it all fresh and new.

Monday, October 23, 2006
A fat naked man is running across the screen smeared in blood. Five minutes later Danish audience members are asking silly questions apropos of nothing, created and asked only to show the director and cast that there are Danes in the house. Yes, it's the LFF and The London Film Festival is being treated to Danish director Christoffer Boe's new film, Offscreen. Boe's main protagonist Nicolas Bro is played by the actor Nicolas Bro who is a well-known face in Danish theatre, film, advertising campagns and gossip columns. Even though the film initially questions what is real by having the actor Bro filming the actor Bro playing the private Bro, it is ultimately engaged with love and obsession. If Bro and Boe were only playing hand-held tricks on the audience the film would quickly have run thin, but there is a heart at the base of the film, a great mourning of a loss of something that has to end. In this case it is the fictional Bro's fictional marriage to his fictional wife, Lene. The breakdown of the relationship may have been the catalyst for the breakdown of the protagonist, as there is a sense that both relationship and Bro's mind have started to crumble before the start of the film.

At the Q&A session after the film, as well as Danes vying for Boe and Bro's attention, a woman in the audience is confrontational and offended in any which way but particularly because of the alleged misogyny in the film. The director tries to explain that on the contrary - it's about love of and failure to understand women. The actor tries in the same vein but gives up. Another woman follows up on the misogyny theme. Everyone suddenly look tired.

I wonder if the film is as much, if not more, about Christoffer Boe and not Nicolas Bro? Even though Boe pretty much gave Bro free reign, he has 'inserted' himself into many scenes - he is the helpful experienced director teaching Bro how to film and edit, he is the distanced hard working man who firmly brushes Bro off when Bro asks him to stay for a talk, his previous film Allegro is being used as set for a major fall-out between Bro and Boe and in key scenes Bro is wearing a sweater onto which is printed 'Fuck Boe'. Is the film an answer to all the metaphorically fat, naked men who run across screens dripping with metaphorical blood in the Danish film world? Or is it a deeper investigation into Boe's psyche, a chasing of demons, a ridiculing of the self-obsessed self?

This film sank without a trace, apparently, in Denmark. I am not surprised. It is very difficult to be allowed to do something that is different, perhaps harder work for the audience than the usual variety style sing-along shit that is often being hailed as fan-frigging'-tastic. Boe is one of the few directors in Denmark who seem to want to move forward and who dares experiment with film making. He is also one of the few who does not seem as if he spends his budget making films solely for him and his actor friends to sit around and find hilarious on a Saturday night. He is a natural progression of Dogme 95 and thus no better or no worse but simply a next step. The film has since been awarded the Altre Visioni prize in Venice and the general reception in London was good. Does that say anything about the film or does it say more about a Danish audience?

Although not perfect you might want to watch this and view it as an interesting experiment rather than a fully rounded film. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

NB! Nicole Kidman's nose, Charlize Theron's weight gain, Natalie Portman's shaven head...these ladies have nothing on Nicholas Bro - female actors are always applauded for going ugly, but I think this year's award goes to Bro who acts without any vanity whatsoever.

Thursday, July 13, 2006
If I had £50,000 right now (well, probably actually this morning) I would get myself a-shopping (from Londonist). This ties in neatly with today's bookish polemic.

Alas, I don't have £50,000 but I am going back to university so I hope to be around here much more than I have been recently. And to get the comments working again. And perhaps move to ...(dare I speak its name?)

...word press...

Friday, June 09, 2006
Pride of Place

So this bloody pollen cloud, I say, coming all the way from Scandinavia...
It's not from Scandinavia, my mum says, it's from Russia!

Saturday, December 03, 2005
Stuck at a particularly boring fair yesterday, I decided to find out what I should wish for, for Christmas. Given that I have no personality or will of my own, I thought it very useful that the Guardian provided an article to help me along. The only thing I had to do was to find my own category and read on.
Unfortunately there was no such category as charlotte, 30s, married, no children, employed full-time, cultural age: 19.

But I gathered that Mrs. Wilson, mum, 30s was the nearest I would get (I particularly liked the way it was implied that Mrs. Wilson's main reason for existing was 'mum', and that being a 'mum' was the reason why Mrs. Wilson would to listen to Stock, Aitken & Waterman. I'm rather pleased that I am not yet a 'mum' and thus would have to a) listen to and b) enjoy Pete Waterman's back-catalogue of shite - even if it were in an ironic way).
I am also being told that I can choose Ian Brown's ramblings - Ian Brown: the man kept alive by great musicians, interesting songs and loudly-coloured track suits. Can he sing? Neither for shit nor supper.

And then of course there's the Son Cubano NYC album with which I am not familiar, so it may very well be splendid, but please:
After a quick blast of this, she'll be ready to take advantage of a generous wad of "salsa lesson vouchers" while Dad holds the fort at home.
I feel patronised and insulted in so many ways.

In the eyes of the Guardian I must seem as an intriguing juxtaposition of the entire family, which can mean two things: that I am in severe need of psychotherapy or that this is the most pointless article ever written. Who is this meant to apply to? Are people supposed to read this and think: 'Oh, well I am a mother in my 30s so I better rush out and buy Jerry Springer the Opera'? Or, as I suspect would be the defense: it's just a bit of fun?

Pointless and stupid. Perpetuating the notion of stereotypical roles and values in life (ie do you have to be a mum just because you are a woman in your 30s?).
Interestingly written by men only.


Listening to


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«expat express»

Lives in United Kingdom/London, speaks Danish and English. My interests are no sheep. Just sleeping.
This is my blogchalk:
United Kingdom, London, Danish, English, no sheep. Just sleeping.