links: American women artists

15th April 2017

Three current shows in the States, each featuring American women artists, that I really really wish I could see.

• A groundbreaking show to confront the gender bias in art: ‘Women of Abstract Expressionism’: Christopher Knight for L.A. Times reviews the show that is currently at Palm Springs Art Museum (until 28 May); an installation view is above, photographed for L.A. Times.

Kara Walker, Karon Davis and the black female artists retelling US history: Matt Stromberg reports for the Guardian on ‘Power’, a major commercial gallery show at Spruth Magers, Los Angeles, of work by African American women from the 19th century to now (until 10 June).

• At MoMA, women at play in the fields of abstraction: for The New York Times, Holland Cotter writes on ‘Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction’ at MoMA (until 13 August), and here’s a video discussion at the opening featuring MoMA director Glenn Lowry and curators Starr Figura and Sarah Hermanson Meister:

links: Hamlet

15th April 2017

Today is the last day of the run at the Almeida of Robert Icke’s staging of Hamlet with Andrew Scott as the Prince. The production transfers to the Harold Pinter Theatre, 9 June – 2 September. These are three essential responses to the production.

Hamlet, Almeida – Islington: Andrew Haydon at Postcards from the Gods:

This is simply, a very sad story about some people in Denmark. Where this production draws its metaphysical extra dimension from is from a rather dizzying feeling of this living act of theatre connecting you tangentially with 400 years of culture, and the fact of just how good it is.

• Hamlet (Shakespeare; dir. Robert Icke) Almeida, London; Mar. 2017: Holger Syme at Dispositio:

Andrew Scott’s performance is extraordinary, but I have seen extraordinary Hamlet’s before; what makes this one so truly remarkable is its ensemble work, the consistency of approach and commitment and attention across the entire cast and the aesthetics of acting and design. And that doesn’t come out of the blue, it can’t happen overnight. It requires growth over time, it requires the building of a shared vocabulary and a shared set of experiences, a familiarity with other performers’ instincts and habits, boundaries and freedoms.

Propwatch: the watches in Hamlet:

There’s lots to say about the genius line-readings and surprising additions. But I just want to think about the watches for a bit.

links: Eduardo Paolozzi

14th April 2017

Long ago, back in 1971, I went one Sunday afternoon to what was then The Tate Gallery to see the exhibition of work by Eduardo Paolozzi. It was one of the very first contemporary art shows that I had ever been to – I was 16 – and I was thrilled and excited to discover that an artist could fill the central Duveen galleries with toy robots and pages torn from comics and shiny geometric blobs. That day remains a special memory, and flashes of it came back as I visited Eduardo Paolozzi at the Whitechapel Gallery this morning. The show is somewhat austere, but full of fascinating things, especially from the late ’40s and early ’50s, and is accompanied by an excellent catalogue.

For more:

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi: Frank Whitford’s 2005 Guardian obituary.

• How Eduardo Paolozzi channelled the chaos of modern life: Simon Martin reviews the Whitechapel show for The Art Newspaper.

• Where to find Eduardo Paolozzi’s sculptures in London: an illustrated guide by Tabish Khan for Londonist.

• On BFIPlayer you can watch (for free) Lorenza Mazzetti’s 1956 film Together, an eccentric, poetic fiction with Paolozzi and the painter Michael Andrews wandering the streets of East London.

• New Brutalist Image 1949–55: ‘atlas to a new world’ or, ‘trying to look at things today’: a richly interesting academic paper by Victoria Walsh and Claire Zimmerman published in the excellent British Art Studies; the authors focus on the exhibition Parallel of Life and Art held at the ICA, London, in 1953, for which Paolozzi was one of the collaborators.


I have been wrestling with how best to contribute regularly to this blog while I am much preoccupied with a number of productions and several more extended pieces of writing. The Sunday links columns have been the only ones that I have managed to post in recent weeks, and now I am going to try a variant of those, spreading them through the week and contributing each day a group of – as it were – linked links. There will be times when I’ll feel I can write something a little more substantial, but for the present I want to try to find a rhythm that involves a short post each day which builds over a week to something more substantial.

Image: Eduardo Paolozzi, Wittgenstein in New York (from the series As is When), 1965 (detail) Courtesy Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art: GMA 4366 K © Trustees of the Paolozzi Foundation

Sunday links

19th March 2017

As usual (or given recent experience, on occasions), a list of links to articles and videos that have engaged me over the past week. Many thanks to those who alerted me to a number of them.

Senses of Cinema 82: terrific new issue of the online journal, including a clutch of critical ‘love letters’ to films made in 1967.

• Game Theory – Paul W.S. Anderson and the filmic board game: at, Chris DeFalco is immensely interesting on the links between video game spaces and movies made by the director of, among others, Event Horizon, 1997 and The Three Musketeers, 2012.

• The Rerun: film theorists and video essayists par excellence  and   make their first music video, for Melbourne indie rock group undergroundLOVERS.

Has the video essay arrived?: Peter Monaghan’s valuable overview of the audio-visual film essay, with lots of additional links, for Moving Image Archive News.

read more »

Sunday links

12th March 2017

I know it’s pointless gently flagellating myself in public for failing to post more regularly. So I’ll save that for the privacy of my keyboard (as well as being both rueful and grateful for how busy I am), and offer up instead a group of links to articles and videos that have engaged me over the past fortnight or so. Many thanks to those who alerted me to a number of them.

The Empty Screen: a compelling video essay by Mark Rappaport (below) which he introduces like this:

The screen is a neutral element in the film-going experience. Or is it? It projects dreams but is also the receptacle of our dreams. It’s the vehicle for delivering the image to an audience — but does it also watch the audience at the same time? Is it a complicitous membrane which audience members can penetrate and which interacts with the spectators, despite its seeming passivity? Maybe — to all of the above …

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Sunday links

26th February 2017

Since I have failed for the past two Sundays to compile a list of links to things that have interested or intrigued me recently, let us begin today’s (acknowledging the usual thanks to those who have alerted me to many of these) with a couple that take on the burning cultural question of the day. Whether the movie wins big or not tonight at the Oscars, what after all the fuss do we think of La La Land (above)?

• Love La La Land? Hate it? So do we: smart back-and-forth with the culture staff of The New York Times.

• La La Land deserves its 14 Oscar nominations for asking us, quite simply, to feel: Rebecca Harrison is very good on the movie for The Conversation.

The empty exertions of La La Land: the estimable Richard Brody for The New Yorker is among the most (cine-)literate of those who are anti-.

La La Land and the Hollywood film musical: smart thoughts by Steven Cohan at the OUPblog.

How La La Land is made: David Bordwell is predictably excellent on how the film ‘accords with the craft of studio musicals’…

La La Land – singin’ in the sun:… and for further thoughts then David Bordwell gave over the ‘Observations on film art’ to three colleagues: Kelley Conway, Eric Dienstfrey and Amanda McQueen.

• La La Land’s inevitable Oscars win is a disaster for Hollywood – and for us: contrarian David Fox for the Guardian. read more »

Art in shorts

23rd February 2017

For the last few years I have been invited to give a group of classes for the Royal College of Art’s Critical Writing in Art & Design MA programme. Across four weeks a group of super-smart students help me explore some issues about the history of television and the current state of digital media, mostly as they relate to the visual arts. For the final class, course tutor David Crowley and I ask the students to contribute a short film or fragment of online media about the arts that they find distinctive or stimulating or especially engaging (or all three). Following are three pieces put forward today, plus a perennial favourite with Ice Cube.

A Brief History of John Baldessari

Tom Waits narrates this dazzling brief bio of the LA-based artist (pictured above in the film). Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the makers of Catfish who work collectively as Supermarché, this was produced for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s inaugural Art + Film gala.
read more »

Imagine a library…

22nd February 2017

John Wyver writes: Earlier today I spoke on a panel at the Archives, Access and Research conference at BFI Southbank. Co-organised by the Centre for the History of Television Culture and Production at Royal Holloway, University of London, Learning on Screen and the BFI, this proved to be a valuable and ultimately positive day of discussions. Contributing to the first panel I wanted to offer a provocation about how limited is our access to the BBC archive – and that’s the text that follows. I recognise that there have been important advances in recent years and the current state of play is perhaps not as bleak as I paint it here. So in a follow-up post I’ll outline some of those welcome changes.

I want you for a moment to imagine a library filled with the books of four nations. Published over the last seventy years, and paid for by a hypothecated tax on the people, these books contain much of the political and cultural and social life of those nations. They record fleeting appearances by hundreds of thousands of those who lived and who still live in those nations. They feature humans of every age, of every class, of every sexual orientation, of every religion and of every ethic background. Animals too, they feature lots of animals. read more »

No fear

15th February 2017

On Monday Alice Saville wrote an article for Exeunt about streaming and filming theatre. ‘Why theatre needs to love film, not fear it’ is intended as a provocation, so perhaps unsurprisingly I found interesting and irritating in about equal measure. Similarly predictable is my wish to respond, which is what this post is intended to do. Let me start with this from near the end of the article:

Theatre’s relationship with filmed media has historically been defined by fear.

Which, with respect, is nonsense. There is an incredibly rich tradition, both in Britain and elsewhere, and across more than a century, of theatre, film, television and digital media collaborating and collectively exploring and enhancing performance, and together extending its audiences and engaging them in new ways.

The partnerships go right back to Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s King John (1899, illustrated above), which appears to have been shot to bring audiences to the eminent actor’s forthcoming stage production. This is really a topic for another piece, but I am certain that the more we know about the intimately intertwined histories of stage and screen then the richer is our understanding of the possibilities and potential now. That said, let’s consider the finer grain of Alice Saville’s argument. read more »


13th February 2017

On Sunday afternoon Beware of Pity, an adaptation of a Stefan Zweig novel created by Complicite and Schaubühne Berlin, was live-streamed from the stage of London’s Barbican. The much-praised show sold out its theatre performances but along with around 1400 others looking in on the YouTube page, I happily watched the feed on my laptop at home. I was delighted to do so, although the experience felt somewhat reduced, at least when compared with viewing a full-blown, fully resourced live broadcast of a theatre show in a cinema.

As this perhaps suggests, I want to offer some comparative points about the Beware of Pity stream and the live broadcasts that I produce for the RSC and that NT Live similarly takes out into the world. I am going to be critical about aspects of yesterday’s stream, although I hope in a supportive way. I’m cautious about doing this, not least because I recognise the budget disparities between the approaches, but also because I don’t want simply to appear to be justifying my practice and that of the RSC. And pleasingly you can make up your own mind, since the stream recording remains online until Sunday 26 February. read more »