London stuff

June 21, 2009

Camden. Cloudy, slightly chilly. Having a latte & carrot cake at Costa Coffee — I’ve developed a taste for homemade carrot cake à la Schmeck. Costa Coffee’s is good but not the same… Decided the London Financial Times isn’t a bad newspaper. Started reading it since it was the only English language newspaper in Sweden widely available. There’s an interesting selection of articles about arts & culture in this weekend’s edition, i.e., the idea of the artist/author as performer — about Malcolm Gladwell, the Canadian author —

“The speaker was the influential journalist, author and ideas entrepreneur Malcolm Gladwell, in town to promote his latest book, Outliers: The Story of Success. But this wasn’t a book reading or a Q&A session of the kind authors traditionally submit to. Neither was it a slide show, as you might expect at a lecture. Instead, the author recounted a single vignette from the book — the tale of… Why a plane ended up crashing, from the perspective of the pilots and those in the control tower — and burnished it into a narrative with all the chill and pacing of a traditional ghost story. Even the lighting was kept deliberately low to create the right atmosphere. The performance lasted precisely an hour and five minutes, and no questions were invited after Gladstone had finished speaking. Rather than a talk about the book, it looked more like a carefully choreographed stage show.”

I also read about Seth Graham-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and then had to a buy a copy.

Saw the exhibition at the Tate Modern on the Futurists. F.T. Marinetti created his own publishing house; epic poems “La conquête des étoiles” (1909); mythic novel Marfarka le futuriste; he even turned his prosecution for the obscenity of Marfarka into a polemic, Distruzione: “Condensed metaphors, telegraphic images, maximum vibrations, nodes of thought” — on “words-in-freedom.”

Valentine de Saint-Point was a counterpoint to Marinetti’s “renowned sexism.” In 1912 Saint-Point’s “Manifesto of Futurist Women” directly addressed his dismissive scorn for women — she did not embrace the Suffragette demand for equality but proposed that both sexes become more “masculine.” She wrote the Futurist Manifesto of Lust — “Art and war are the great the great manifestations of sensuality: lust is their flower…”

I saw the exhibition on Per Kirkeby and the Danish Avant-garde: “In 1962, Kirkeby joined the Experimental Art School (Eks-Skolen) in Copenhagen, which was founded by Poul Gernes and Troels Andersen in opposition to the more traditional Royal Academy of Fine Arts. During this time Kirkeby staged performances and happenings and became associated with the international Fluxus movement. The artists around the school promoted an interdisciplinary approach that combined high art and popular culture, anticipating the multifaceted nature of Kirkeby’s own practice. The rarely exhibited drawings and collages… give an expression of the source material that inspired the artist’s early work. At the same time, Kirkeby took up writing, an activity that has remained important to him. In 1968 he published Billedforklaringer [Picture Explanations], which combines poetic musings and excerpts from comic strips with the artist’s own compositional studies…. Over the course of his career, Kirkeby has published over 80 books, including fiction, collections of poetry and drawings…”

Ate dinner at Somerset House, the Courtauld Institute’s Art Gallery, on the sunny terrace overlooking the Thames.