Sunday, 26 April 2009

How does it feel?

So, Bob Dylan, the 02 Arena. I don't think words can express just how good this was. Maggie's Farm to open, the song he turned electric with much to the distaste of Newport Folk Festival? Check. The Times They Are A Changin, Chimes of Freedom, The Ballad of Hollis Brown, even Hattie Carrol?? Yes, protest songs were out in force. If this wasn't good enough, how about Like A Rolling Stone to end? After this we sat tentatively anticipating an encore (does Dylan do encores?) and he did not disappoint, reclaiming All Along the Watchtower from Hendrix before leaving us with Spirit On The Water and, no less, Blowin' In The Wind. Every time he broke into song I was astounded at what I was witnessing, this icon of '60s counter-culture playing all the songs that made him who he is, that defined an era. I was expecting to hear a set of unfamiliar songs, with, if I was lucky, maybe a couple from those era defining first albums. But no, it was not to be, Dylan and his band belting hit after hit, punctuated with his more recent material (Modern Times featured heavily, plus a few from Love and Theft).

A lot of critics say he's past it, and that the 'Never Ending Tour' is just a showcase for an ageing rocker mangling his old classics. This, I feel, is utter crap. His voice was powerful, matured with age, and his band definitely did the songs justice. I am still in awe of what I saw last night (even the abysmal bus service could not put a dampener on the night) and it will certainly be hard to top this.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Unordinary people

Last night was a rather busy night, a moustache party (seemingly the new in thing for house parties) was preceded by Will and I going to the Royal Albert Hall for a lecture on the history of street style and youth culture. The speaker was Ted Polhemus, an American writer/anthroplogist, who curated the accompanying exhibition 'Unordinary People', a photographic documentation of youth culture from the '50s to the present day (cue new rave Hoxton heroes..). When I read about it on the internet I couldn't believe my luck, as it was so perfect for my project. After walking as fast as we could from Knightsbridge for fear of being late we arrived just in time and were led to a small room somewhere in the heart of the building, and sat down with a glass of wine and waited for it to begin.

The talk charted the ever changing appearance of street style and its generational divide, from the democratisation of fashion in the '50s with the Beats in America through to hippies, glam, punks, new romantics and ravers, taking in the relevance and effect of youth culture and where it came from, the importance of music to define sub-cultures, such as mods and skinheads, (in particular the crossover of black and white music in Britain) and the lack of achievement of the baby boomer generation. Yes, it was rather exhausting. Even so it was interesting to hear and think about how youth culture affects so much of society, and how street style and sub-cultures are so tied in with the concerns of the wider world: for example, the rise of teddyboys in the '50s asserting the working class allows us to understand how a Labour governmet came to power and kicked out Churchill. A key theme he also emphasised was the importance of authenticity and how it is now endangered, with fashion houses looking to the kids on the street for their next collections, and then recreating these looks and claiming them as their own.

I'm failing miserably at trying to sum up the whole talk, and I guess I shouldn't really try. The conclusion he came to however was that fashion as we know it is dead - in today's society the emphasis is on the individual, expressing your own identity and demanding attention, as opposed to labelling yourself with a sub-culture such as mod or rocker in the days of past. The modernism of the'60s or '70s has been replaced for a post-modern world which, if it were to be categorised, would be under individuality. It's a bold statement and whether it is true is debatable, clearly the fashion industry still has an influence on the way people dress, and everyone striving to be individual often leads to us buying the same things anyway. But it's true that there are no longer the movements of old, no rebelling punks or united hippies. Which, after the talk, left Will and I discussing modern youth culture and whether it's possible for our generation to leave it's mark as happened in the '60s, '70s '80s and '90s. Do we have a purpose, or sense of unity? If not have we just become disillusioned, a youth facing global recession and with nothing to fight for? Our generation no longer seems to have a voice, no Kerouac or Dylan or Lydon or Strummer, and without one we are in danger of being lost.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Strike on the victoria line

Today I had planned to visit the Tate, but the closure of the Victoria Line (yet again) and a snap decision at Sloane Square tube station led me to a rather unexpected day of Middle Eastern art and a walk along the Thames.

This was done enitrely in biro.

These were rather intriguing - prosthetic people freewheeling in electric wheel chairs..

After the Saatchi I decided to see if the Tate was in walking distance, it was a beautiful day and thought hell, why not. The bus route took ten minutes, so I went for it. Turns out it was about a forty minute walk, but in the glaring sunshine along the river with Death Cab to accompany me it was actually quite lovely, and felt positively summery.

I even stumbled upon Battersea Power Station along the way.

Altermodern, my original destination, felt slightly smaller than I remembered (?) but I actually enjoyed it more this time, as I was able to devote my time to the pieces I liked and were relevant to my work, rather than trying to take everything in and have some form of art/information overload.

Parliament Square on the bus home.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Where did the time go?

I'm savouring my last day at home, it's slightly lonelier than the last few weeks have been but the sun is still shining at least. I actually have no idea where the last five (?!) weeks have gone. As much as I don't really want to go back quite yet (home comforts currently feel more desirable than the student lifestyle of box room, no food and inhumane sleeping patterns) I guess I do have quite a lot to look forward to - Bob Dylan, Wavves, Ryan McGinley exhibition, end of year show (though I need to produce some work first..) and house hunting. Plus I'm determined to finish 'On the Road'.

Did I mention Bob Dylan? Yes, I am actually going to see the man in concert. He may be considered old and past it and unable to actually perform anymore, and he'll probably play loads of obscure songs that I've never heard, but to be honest I couldn't care less, it will still be amazing and in my mind it will be 1965 all over again. Perhaps someone will even shout 'Judas'. Or perhaps not. I'm just going to pray that he plays Ballad of a Thin Man, and if not, I will still have seen Bob Dylan. Live. It still feels a bit 'unreal'..

Friday, 10 April 2009

Cut and paste

I was starting to feel I was becoming the very embodiment of disengaged, disillusioned, disaffected, so today I was in need of some serious creative output. I don't think i quite achieved this, but I did make some collages that I'm kind of pleased with. It's a start, but I think I'm back on track..

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Hello again

After blogging so furiously last month I suddenly feel like I've forgotten how to write blog posts. So much has happened in the past week or so, the holidays suddenly seem to be passing so quickly. Dulcie came home, I went back to London for a visit to Maureen Paley gallery and to buy a rather nice, Ripley-esque suit which I am very much in love with, I have a new haircut, and I went to a wedding, wearing said suit. I even attempted the King's Lynn nightlife again, but never made it past the globe. It really is appaling.. With all of this going on my blog seems to have been neglected. Along with my work..

Anyway, Dulcie and I ventured into town today to visit Bookends, a tiny book shop tucked away opposite the Customs House in the 'nice' part of town, hiding behind its humble door three floors of treasures, pretty much every book that you could imagine. Unfortunately, what with the credit crunch and all, it is shutting down, which is a shame, as it seems that soon we'll have no shops left like this. Nevertheless, this meant that everything was on offer, and it certainly had a lot to offer. After perusing three floors of what felt like someone's house, just filled with bookshelves, I am now the proud owner of a 1949 First Edition copy of Ralph Hill's 'The Symphony', a Pelican Book dedicated to the history of, er, the symphony. One day I may read it, but for now it's a very nice aesthetic addition to my book collection. I also have a very dated looking 'From A To B And Back Again - The Philosophy of Andy Warhol' and 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?', which I'm told is astounding.

This is probably of little interest to anyone reading this. Jesus and Judas are fighting on Gilmore Girls right now, and five minutes ago two college students had a discussion of the merits of The Smiths over Hooty and the Blowfish, whilst Rusholme Ruffians played in the background. This may be my new favourite TV show.