At the Festival of Love

In summer 2014, London’s Southbank Centre hosts the Festival of Love. Visitors can play games and dance, attend exhibitions, or watch performances: they are encouraged to engage with the structures of meaning around exhibitions of intimacy. Anna Blair reflects on the Festival’s nostalgic aesthetic, and on the ways in which engagement with others can be shaped and formed by place.

Jeremy Deller Confronts the William Morris Myth: Problems of Biography and Image

William Morris is celebrated as a British hero, a craftsman who fought for equality. Jeremy Deller’s ‘We Sit Starving Amidst Our Gold’ celebrates and queries this legacy, summoning Morris to throw Roman Abramovich’s yacht into the Venetian lagoon. Kim Clayton-Greene looks at Morris’s biography and popular image, and the ways in which his intent and impact have at times conflicted.

Cinema of Intimacy: Steve McQueen at Espace Louis Vuitton, Tokyo

The 8-metre-high glass-walled space is cocooned in aperture-like darkness; the film is projected on a loop, and we find ourselves at sea in Caribbean sunlight. Ashes is not a film about death. Though its title might evoke cremation, ultimately it celebrates life. We enter the installation, and Ashes’ life, in medias res, with no context to his earlier life or subsequent misfortune: only his buoyancy.

The Elasticity of the Artwork: An Interview with Fabrice Le Nézet

The artist Fabrice Le Nézet’s latest sculptural works, exhibited online in a number of photographs, are distinctive works — not least because they do not exist in real life. This has been the cause of significant confusion (and, in some cases, embarrassment) for art critics. Chris Townsend had the chance to speak to Le Nézet about this work, the nature of truth and lies in art, and the relation of artist to critic.

Australia’s refugee crisis and the normality of exception

The phantasm of the illegal asylum seeker has haunted Australian politics for the past fifty years. The measures successive governments have taken to tame the beast encroach increasingly on their human dignity. As the Abbott government introduces ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’, Nikita Simpson questions what happens when the exception becomes the norm.

‘I lived once in a grave’: Palestinian writers respond to the attack on Gaza

Blockades surrounding the Gaza strip prevent essential supplies – food, building materials, medicines – from crossing the border. But rarely do we think of these blockades as cultural and literary barriers, which stifle the voices of those living in the Strip. Decca Muldowney considers a range of Palestinian writers and poets, and meditates upon the power of literature to represent human experience, even across borders.

Careful: Do touch

Historically, the dominant paradigm of care has been providing acute for infectious diseases, rather than chronic treatments. Yet in light of the rising prevalence of chronic illnesses, care is becoming a more and more long-winded affair. It offers the most intimate insights into human nature: its lows, its highs, its errors, its embarrassments, and its inspiration. “But how can intimacy and care be combined?” asks Tobias Haeusermann, and illustrates how simultaneously maintaining empathy and professionalism means walking a thin and fragile line.

You’ll find Virginia in the City. A review of Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision at The National Portrait Gallery

Georgina Parfitt visits the National Portrait Gallery in London to review Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision, a collection of artifacts that tell the story of Virginia’s life, from photographs of her as a baby to the original suicide letters she wrote to Leonard Woolf and Vanessa Bell in 1941. How did Woolf’s love of the energy of the city and her perception of her own persona, within this tumult of life that she loved so ardently, change through time?

“Can we do some real music now?” – Practice and the pursuit of perfection.

If practice makes perfect, and nothing’s ever perfect, why practise? This piece considers the various different kinds of practice that go into making an adept and talented musician. Thinking through the problem from a range of viewpoints, from that of neurology to that of a six-year-old child, Anita Datta reflects on attitudes towards practice and considers the array of possible results.

Palimpsestic Townscapes: Gilbert & George’s Scapegoating Pictures

Gilbert and George’s new exhibition, Scapegoating Pictures for London, stirs controversy, as per usual: for going too far, by portraying their immediate environment and including, for the first time, many references to Islam. Are these criticisms as empty as their canisters of
laughing gas? What are these works really depicting?

Pro-sex, and anti-prison, but what about kink?

This June, Gay Shame, a radical queer anti-assimilation group, led a protest against a prison-themed kink party. They say they are ‘Pro-sex and anti-prison’ but neither they nor their opponents have a clear sense of what to say about kink itself.

Madcap

Madcaps and mad hatters: this piece stems from the feeling that there is something a little mad about a hat. Polly Dickson thinks about Magritte, and Carroll’s Hatter, and about seeing faces in things.

Abbott, Indigenous Australians and the Politics of Invisibility

Australia is often portrayed from within and without as the ‘Land of Milk and Honey’. With the new Abbott government in office, this fantasy has become politicised to the point of infatuation. Nikita Simpson questions what amnesia makes this possible. Beginning with the plight of Indigenous Australians, she questions if the mentality of Terra Nullius is by no means dead.

Tracking Keynes through King’s: Economics, Genes and the Possibilities for Our Grandchildren

In a famous essay he published in 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted a future of material abundance and abundant leisure. Keynes’s essay has resurfaced today with the growth of automation and high levels of unemployment. In the interim his fellow King’s graduates advanced and chronicled the scientific and technical improvements that Keynes wrote characterize the modern age. In this essay, William Hoffman tracks computer genius Alan Turing, the technology entrepreneur Hermann Hauser, Charles Nicholl, who wrote a biography of Leonardo da Vinci, and the science journalist Nicholas Wade.

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