Skip to main content

w/e 2019-11-03

Three exhibitions this week, all good!

Photo of three dresses on mannequins, two of which are wearing masks
Zandra Rhodes dresses on Flickr

§   Today I went with some friends to see Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous, an exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, which was good (a few photos on Flickr). I can’t admit to knowing much about her or her work before but it was interesting – a dress from every one of her 50 years in the business, plus lots of her printed fabrics, and a few other things. Our friend Piers gave us a tour which made it even better.

At college there was often an emphasis on keeping a sketchbook, and collecting anything and everything that grabbed your interest. I did this but I’m not sure I’d seen such a good example of why this could be useful before this exhibition. So many of the textiles and dresses have obvious influences from things Rhodes saw on her travels: New York’s skyline, banana leaves, Uluru and the Outback, Egyptian pyramids, Indian saris.

When she’s away from the studio she makes a point of sketching every day which, on top of Ben’s lovely One Sketch A Day sketches, makes me more determined to get back to sketching.

§   Also this week I went to Tate Modern to see the Nam June Paik and Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life exhibitions. I liked both more than I expected, so that was nice.

Paik was fun and works I’d already seen photos of, like TV Garden, were more interesting in the flesh. The final room, Sistine Chapel, was pretty bonkers and fun, although it lost some of its impact when the sound stopped (which I assume was intentional).

The one bit of video I sat and watched with headphones was this 1988 performance by David Bowie and La La Human Steps, part of a broadcast event Paik was involved in, which I liked a lot:

It’s hard to believe Olafur Eliasson wasn’t conjured up purely for the age of Instagram given how photogenic his works are, and there was a lot of phone photography happening in his exhibition. There are some interesting and beautiful things to see, and the densely foggy Your Blind Passenger corridor is quite something to experience, delightful with an edge of fear.

I did get frustrated in Big Bang Fountain, a room that’s supposed to be completely dark, and has a sign outside asking people not to take photos as it spoils other people’s enjoyment, and oh my god people what’s wrong with you and your glowing screens, enjoy the moment! I did end up thinking that “people are selfish and awful” is why humanity is doomed, which maybe is the environmental message Eliasson is trying to convey in his work?

§   Before Mary headed to Nepal for a month we finished watching Giri/Haji which we enjoyed a lot. The plot felt like a slightly odd shape, which isn’t a bad thing as such, just unusual. It was fundamentally a thriller but sometimes seemed slower than one would expect from the genre. I wondered if it was just a couple of episodes too long, which sometimes happens with 6-8 episode thrillers, but then some of the slower, most easily excisable-in-terms-of-plot, scenes were lovely (one on a beach springs to mind).

I loved Will Sharpe’s performance as Rodney and I always enjoy Kelly Macdonald although I wished her detective constable had a bit more oomph. Charlie Creed-Mills’ Abbot was a bit “we’d like you to do an over-the-top cockney gangster” but he did it very, very well.

But, aside from the decent story and acting there were two other great things about Giri/Haji. First, a prime-time terrestrial TV show with lots of non-English dialogue! It shouldn’t be amazing but given it’s rare to find any non-English-language movies across all Freeview channels each week, and probably no non-English TV outside of BBC FOUR’s Saturday night “continental detective with a troubled personal life” slot, this was so nice to see. It’s always been assumed here that most anglophone people won’t read subtitles but given lots of people now choose to use subtitles, even for English-language shows, maybe that’s nonsense?

The second great thing involves a SLIGHT SPOILER so skip ahead to the next section if you’re still watching the show. I’ll put a bit more padding in here to give you time to skip ahead. OK? Right. In the final episode, at the very climax, when everyone comes together and everything threatens to finally fall apart on a London rooftop, the scene suddenly changes into a dance sequence. The tangled relationships and past events between the characters are represented by them dancing while classical music plays, before they return to their “real” positions. For a moment it seemed daft but it went on and it was beautiful, a release and a reflection, lives flashing before eyes, and a brave thing to do in an otherwise conventional TV drama. I so wish there was more non-naturalistic stuff on TV. If you want to watch the scene, out of context, and can access iPlayer, it’s 43 minutes into this episode. Beautiful. More like this please.

§   That’s all. No weeknotes from me next week so here are some people whose weeknotes I’m enjoying, in case you’re not reading them: Alice Bartlett, Anna Goss, Giles Turnbull, Mark Hurrell, Michael Dales, Nat Buckley, Simon Pearson, Simon Willison and Tom Armitage. (Sorry if I forgot you!)

Have a good week. Do a sketch or two, or whatever your equivalent is.

Mention this post

If you’ve mentioned this post somewhere, enter the URL here to let me know: