Saturday, 5 June 2010
Ok, so the reviews have been..less than encouraging. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian called it "incredibly boring" whilst Anthony Quinn of the Independant thought the makers were flogging a dead horse.
Well Lorna Davies of ..ahem her room, says, it's OK. By this I mean if it's a visual feast with over the top opulance, glamour and unrealistic storylines you're after this ticks all the boxes. The sparkling glamour of the middle-eastern setting is reflected in the amazing outfits and you'll also be treated to a few laughs along the way. If it's excellent acting, gripping storylines and laugh-a-minute dialogue you're after, try eastenders.
Usually the favoured accessory for the sightseeing socks and sandal donning American tourist, yes you guessed it, the bum bag is back. Occasionally the fashion industry throw out a crazy yet practical trend, we had snoods last season and now, it’s the fanny pack.
You have Marc Jacobs to thank for this one; it appeared in his own line as well as in his collection for Louis Vuitton. This time round they are less fluoro monstrosities as of the eighties and early nineties, more tasselled, cowgirl hip-hoverers. Never ones to miss a cowboy theme, D&G also jumped on the, ahem, bum-wagon with an oversized, distressed denim (ooh we do love two trends in one) and tasselled one that you can have over your shoulder if feeling a little bum bag shy.
This fashion shocker comes along with the other retro trends such as cycling shorts and clogs that have reappeared on the catwalks. Now, I know you are dying to find out where you can get hold of this oh-so-stylish practical accessory yourselves; Marks and Spencer will be launching a studded leather-effect version, for around £15, in May, while across the pond American Apparel present a gold shiny one for a similar price. Want one right now? French Connection are doing a floral beauty for around £35 and River Island are doing a white canvas studded one that looks a little like a rockers codpiece.
I am dubious about this one, verdict from Reading students mainly consisted of: “What, seriously?!” However, think about the festival season and gigs, rather than donning a studded belt for festival chic you may well be popping on a bum bag, enabling you to relax with your hands free for beer, and while your friends laugh at you they’ll secretly be wishing they had one.
“Mummy, is it real?” the profound question asked by a child at the Anish Kapoor exhibition to her mother is more accurate than expected. The exhibition at the Royal Academy invites the viewer to ask questions and involve themselves. The organic ambiguities of the sculptures allow them to become states of being.
Indian born Kapoor, is a British installation artist who won the Turner prize in 1991, with notable public sculptures such as Cloud Gate, Millennium Park, Chicago and Sky Mirror at the Rockafeller Center, New York, the doesn’t exactly have to prove himself in his latest exhibition.
This doesn’t, however, mean the works lack enthusiasm. On entrance to the gallery we are met with a glittering sculpture reflecting the Annenberg Courtyard of the picturesque gallery in each of its spheres. Tall Tree and the Eye (2009) appears to be some sort of mathematic structure, its ephemeral presence dislocating the symmetry of the classical courtyard. The day I went was perfect for it as the sun beamed through the courtyard, catching light on the sparkling monument.
Opening the indoor part of the exhibition we see, Hive (2009), occupying the Wohl Central Hall, the large geometrical and symmetrical form looks like an internal space but when you walk around you realise it’s also an object in space.
The most memorable part of the exhibition is definitely Shooting into the Corner (2009) and Svayambh (2007). Svayambh, is one of the most unusual and ambitious installations I have seen at the RA. It occupies the five galleries of the rear enfilade at the gallery. A huge red wax track runs through the rooms with a sold block of wax that slowly makes its way along the track. The block looks as though it just fits through the antique arches, occasionally splashing red wax onto the walls and floor of the white rooms. The word, Svayambh, translates as roughly as ‘self-generated’ from a Sanskrit word. This reflects the way the red block uses the building to shape its form, rather than, as is traditional, using a mould to cast a bronze sculpture, for example. Here, the medium is wax itself. Looking at, Shooting into the Corner, we are invited into a room filled with anticipated viewers as a straight faced assistant loads huge red wax blocks into a canon that shoot out wax into a corner of the white gallery every twenty minutes. The thrill of watching this event is undeniably exciting, murmurs run through the crowd as the canon spits out the shells of red wax, making a surprisingly deafening bang. This drama is what makes the piece so engaging. It also allows the work to be both a painting as sculpture as the walls are piled and splashed with the fired out wax.
The instantly recognisable ‘Kapooresque’ sculptures were the Pigment Works shown together in a room with When I am Pregnant (1992). Kapoor began experimenting with pigment colouring in the 1970’s with his work, 1000 Names. Walking around the rooms we see the organic sculptures at our feet placed together on the floor, they look as if they are natural and self made rather than products of sculpture. The surprises (of which the exhibition has many) are that some of the pigment works seem to be coming out of the wall. This surprise element is reflected in When I am Pregnant, as when you approach it you think the wall is flat, it is only when you get closer than you see it is convex. This sense of ambiguity is seen in most of the works in this collection, such as the emotive, Yellow (1999), that made me immediately smile. This looks, as opposed to the previous work, is concave, but it is only when you approach it that you see how concave it is. This, paired with the extremity of the colour, allows the work to overwhelm the viewer, as though it exists as a living being.
The mirror collection of works or, non-objects, are a concoction of shaped mirrors, distorting the viewers reflection, and are great fun. The whole exhibition itself is about involvement with the viewer. There were many children there when I visited, and I think this is that sort of exhibition that can appeal to all ages. I never expected to be as amused, intrigued, fascinated and surprised as I was on viewing Kapoor’s works. They are playful; form and formlessness intertwined with, at times, uncomfortable reflection. The interactive, awe-inspiring works set your pulse racing and senses raging, leaving viewers walking out with a smile.
Carnivals, coffee, football and forests. There are a few words to describe the vast diversity of Brazil. Squeezing this breathtaking country into a three week, tiny budget trip would not be an easy task. That is, however, what I attempted to do this summer.
We started in one of the largest cities in the world, Sao Paulo. Having been warned by mothers, sisters, aunties, of the dangers of the city (tourist muggings are apparently a common occurrence) arriving in the intoxicating place was quite overwhelming. But Sao Paulo surprised me, in particular the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP). It holds Latin America’s most comprehensive collection of modern art (also great for me to name drop in an art history lecture). Getting into this gallery however, was slightly more difficult then we imagined. I was surprised that hardly anyone in Brazil spoke English, even in the apparently touristy Rio de Janeiro. It was quite refreshing and luckily I had my phrasebook handy, it was very dog-eared by the end. This and mosquito spray are my must haves.
Being a beach bum at heart I decided to head there as soon as possible. So we made our way to Rio de Janeiro. This city really did put Sao Paulo to shame. I have seen some amazing cities: Paris, Hong-Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai to name a few, but none are as beautiful as Rio. Springing up between lush forests and glittering beaches, Rio is Brazil’s most infamous city.
The famous Copacabana beach really is as glamorous and pristine as in the movies. This long stretch of sand emerging from Rio’s vast metropolis was great for people watching. From the amazing football skills to the thong bikinis (much to my boyfriends enjoyment) the diversity and sense of fun of the residents of Rio, or Carioca’s, is amazing to watch.
Football really is integral in Brazilian society. The whole country has a day off when Brazil plays a national game and the skill of even the youngest players in evident along the Copacabana.
The nightlife in Rio is like none I have experienced. The first night we arrived in our hostel, ‘Rio Backpackers’, we were welcomed by a cheeky Irish barman (I swear they crop up all over the world) who told us we had to go out in Lapa. Being an avid Lonely Planet reader, just the thought of this terrified me. The book portrays Lapa as a mugger’s paradise. But we decided to give it a go (sorry mum) and I definitely didn’t regret it. Lapa is famous for the landmark aqueduct, Acros da Lapa, in a style reminiscent of ancient Rome; the 42 arches stand 64m high. Today it is as well known for its nightlife. The streets were packed with people rehearsing for carnival; they seem to do this all year round! At every corner there were talented musicians playing samba tunes with exuberant carioca’s and tourists alike dancing the night away. The great thing about this place for budget travellers is the fact that you don’t even need to go into any clubs to enjoy the atmosphere; it’s all happening on the streets!
The drink of choice in Rio, and in Brazil, is the famous Caprinha. Wishing immerse myself in the culture I ordered one in my best Portuguese. What I had in mind was a refreshing taste of Brazil, what I got was a drink that tasted of nettles. I guess it’s to an acquired taste.
There are an innumerable amount of sights to be seen in Rio. Probably one of the most famous is the Cristo Redentor. Standing 38 metres high, the magnificent statue (Christ the redeemer) looms atop Corcovado Mountain. I didn’t quite know what to expect seeing this sight as the hype around it was so great, but it really was breathtaking. Just the sheer size of the statue is astounding as well as the astonishing views of the city.
As much as I fell in love with Rio, I wanted a more chilled atmosphere for a while. We had been recommended a little place called Itacare further up the east coast towards Salvador. In recent years Itacare has had a bit of a tourist boom but still retains its lovable hippie charm. Our guesthouse, Albergue o Farol, was run by a hippie traveller who welcomed all and provided cheap characteristic rooms. The great thing about this place is the lively reggae vibe along with surprisingly deserted beaches. Although not an accomplished surfer myself (I slightly resemble a baby seal on a board) I can certainly see the attraction for surfers, the waves are massive and the postcard beaches are untouched.
We hopped up the coast heading to Salvador and stopped at some beach destinations along the way. Many highlights stick in my mind, one of which being the ‘natural water slide’ in Paraty. This is exactly what it says on the tin. You slide down a huge rock waterfall into a lagoon below. As you walk up to the waterfall there is a huge sign that reads ‘do not surf’. I obeyed this rule (I was too scared to even take my hands off the rock) but the locals did not. Watching the acrobatics of the locals surfing, spinning, hurling themselves down the waterfall is a sight in itself. Definitely a must do if you’re visiting the area.
Salvador was our last stop on the trip. The bustling centre of Bahia has an African vibe preserved by the descendents of slaves. This merge of cultures provides one of the best carnivals in Brazil but even in low season (when we were there) the party atmosphere prevails and Caporera can be enjoyed on every street corner. This is a kind of martial art crossed with dance that was originally used by slaves to defend themselves from their masters. Now it has become a kind of Afro-Brazilian dance off that takes place around the streets of Salvador. To see a more professional show we visited the Teatro Miguel Santana and saw a breathtaking folkloric show.
The views from our slightly grubby hotel were possibly the best of the trip. Although the owner of the Arthemis hotel obviously had a penchant for large wooden fish that covered the walls of the reception, the included breakfast and panoramic views of the city could not be beaten.
This whistle stop tour has only given me a taste and left me wanting more. The Brazilian people are the most diverse and friendly of anywhere I’ve been and the carnival spirit is addictive. It really is one long party in the South-American country. The trip has left me with a lasting memory of welcoming people, lively nights and chilled beach days. I guess y