LE GUN ‘The Family’ exhibition took place yesterday where the Issue 4 of their annual art annual was introduced to us eager beavers. We hot footed it down to get a glimpse of what was moving and shaking in LE GUN land.
Their website introduced the show with, viagra order abortion ‘Dear patrons, please charge your glasses and drink heartily for tomorrow you may die’. This perfectly encapsulates the dark, twisted, gin drinking world of the collective. Legunddon, was one of my favourite pieces which spanned a wall full of loose women, cream cakes and gin.
Murky streets, tired, drained men in bars whose floors swill into oceans inhabited by whales-yes this is all a bit surreal. I couldn’t help but feel I needed a swig of gin to better get into the mindset of these warped individuals (‘warped’ said in a good way!)
There was even a cardboard room where everything (yes everything) was made of cardboard-from the mantelpiece to the welcome mat! It felt like you were sitting on a set of another realm of reality, or possibly a scene from one of Michel Gondrey’s surreal films!
charles reclining on a cardboard sofa
Amongst the multitude of tiny scenes illustrated in works hanging on the wall, I spotted James Unsworth‘s work (he was featured in issue 8 of amelia‘s mag). Melted faces and monsters chuffing on cigarettes-yes I had certainly entered another dimension.
The feel of the exhibition is satirical, certainly dark yet with a sense of fun. Intricate illustrations with a keen eye on detail adorned the gallery. However the unnerving feeling that around the corner was the unexpected kept creeping in my mind. Le Gun’s collaborators have perhaps drunk too much gin, but it’s not a bad thing where this results in poking fun at reality; subverting it to a new form-where smoking rabbits, monsters, and 1950s dressed women walking leopards rule.
I’m definately a fan of Warp Records, stuff but not in the “Yeah i’m really into breakbeat and I only go to parties held in squats” kind of way. In fact, buy I always prefer their releases from bands. Apart from Maximo Park of course, medications but then I suppose they have to fund pretty much everything else on their label somehow.
The thing is, I can’t help but feel that Warp have cottoned on to this way of thinking. What with recent albums from Born Ruffians and Pivot, it’s nice to see them widening their image. Although I suppose they’re hardly bands that you’d refer to as ‘chart-toppers’.
Anyhow, that’s enough about the guys in the suits with the cash. As artists Gang Gang Dance is sheer awesome, and this album has more than the capability of being the album of the year for me. It seems to incorporate so many things that often really annoy me, but make them amazing. Like the deep house style blips at the start of ‘Interlude’. This, by all known musical knowledge, should sound awful and be confined to the far off reaches of Ministry Of Sound compilations, but it works. And the vocals from official “star of the hood”, aka “stryderman” or, as his mother would call him, Tinchy Stryder, on ‘Princes’ work too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m adverse to grime, in fact I’d go as far as to say i’m more of a lazy fan of it – I just tend to get put off when all they talk about is money. Which is almost exclusively what Tinchy does on this track. He does add something though, and the track underneath his vocals is really good, I mean, almost untarnishable good. What it does do for me though is add humor (unintentionally), as hearing him say “Earning ice cream money”, gives me a mental image of him spending all his pocket money on ice cream. Though i’m sure ice cream is probably slang for something else nowadays, it’s so hard to keep up.
It’s easy to listen to the album as background music, but here and there are sections where everything seems to come together and, quite subtly, make you take notice. This is what makes you gradually fall in love with the album. There aren’t any songs that become favourites, which is what sets it apart. All the songs are non-formulaic and differ greatly from one another, but they sit alongside one another really well. You know that music you listen to and it sounds all turgid and rubbish, this is the opposite of that.
The story is about a villain – Mr. TV, the owner of the city’s only television channel, who steals the ability of speech from an entire city in Argentina. However, the characters are still able to communicate through words, though it is his plan to eradicate them also. The characters are able to read the subtitles – which gives the film a very interesting feel. They interact with the subtitles at many points, which was a little confusing at first, but it was something quite unique.
The plot has a very ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ feel about it, but only because it’s is so similar in style and plot to that dictatorial literature. I couldn’t help but think though, that there was something very cartoonish about it – largely due to the obscure, larger than life characters.
Apparently, the film was produced on a tiny budget, but I have to say it looks fantastic. The use of visual trickery to recreate the look of old films works really well, and is complemented wonderfully by the use of sound throughout, which in a way makes up for the lack of speech. The constant whirring sound in the background also makes it feel like you’re watching it in a cinema where there is an interlude and tea is served.
La Antena is definitely worth a watch, even though it wasn’t a film I would have gone out of my way to see just hearing about.
Now, pill my friends have been raving about Shambala for a good few years, more about but until now I have not been able to judge this most independent festivals for myself. So it was with an excited feeling that I set out with a group of friends, all squashed into a very small hatchback car. We arrived as the sun was setting on Friday night, and after a bit of confusion over gates of entry (I was officially press, they were artists) we parked up and decanted the gin and tonic – the first official public celebration of my friends’ engagement.
And as night rapidly fell we determined to get to The Beat gig at the mainstage, one of only a handful of bands that I could actually claim to know from a thoroughly obscure line-up.
The Beat were great and had the happy audience bopping up and down a treat. I don’t know them that well but recognised a few of their tunes, including Mirror in the Bathroom, and Stand Down Margaret– which became a call for both Brown and Bush to stand down, much cheered on by the liberal crowd. The adorably bouncy Ranking Junior, who thrilled us towards the end of the long set with a bit of his own style nu-school emceeing, now fronts the band. How sweet to operate a pop band as a family business, passing the lead vocals down from father to son! On the strength of his performance I might even forgive him a recent collaboration with the Ordinary Boys.
Once the main stage had closed down we wandered towards the woodland lakeside area, which featured a fantastically lit sculpture walk. As we crossed the decorative bridge into the woods an eerily lit green monster rose out of the lake to greet us, and as I stood transfixed I lost everyone else.
But that was okay, I wandered past some people hiding amongst the dense foliage on the shoreside in a drug addled way, and discovered some gingerbread bodies bound together on a log like voodoo dolls from a children’s story.
I caught up with my brethren at the Monkey Do nets, one of my posse’s many ventures, which were nestled in a cute little grove where trance music provided a back drop to the incessant wooosh of people inflating balloons to inhale. The nets were full to drooping point, and I was amused to hear people in an impromptu karaoke sing-off amongst the trees.
I then crossed the tiny site for a brief sojourn at the Nicky Blackmarket set in the fabulous geodesic dance dome, which was aggressively rammed with drum n bass heads, in stark contrast to the atmosphere of the festival as a whole.
Apparently there was even a bit of a fistycuffs later on, well well! It was then early to bed for me because I had earlier spotted that there was to be a whole day of dance lessons, and I wanted to be up and ready.
So there I was at 11am, ready to tackle my first ever belly dancing lesson with a bunch of other similarly perky ladies (and the odd brave gent) in the solar powered dance workshop dome. And I have to tell ya, I am hooked. We were taught by Sam of Horizon Hips – based in Hertfordshire – in the modernist style of tribal belly dance, which takes bits of belly dancing from all traditions and mixes them up, including the dress.
A further search on google reveals that tribal belly dancewear is characterized by bold and innovative dressing in bright jewel colours – sounds like my kind of thang! When performed by a troupe the dancers will take turns to lead isolated body moves which are quickly picked up and echoed by the other dancers. Isolated body moves are hard! They require intense concentration to get right, a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, but also in time to the beat; not easy to get right.
After a short break it was time for a reggaeton class with Louise of Bristol Salsateca.
Now here was some booty shaking I could get into – that girl has a great ass! Reggaeton is a Latin American dance that has grown out of hip hop, salsa and a variety of booty shaking moves inbetween. Louise taught us some of these moves, including the chicken step and “open the door” move. I loved this class so much that I jumped over-enthusiastically onto my ankle and fell clattering to the floor as we embarked on a reggaeton danceoff. Watch my video to see how much fun was had.
Luckily this did not impede my movement for more than a few minutes, and I soon sprang back into action and was able to attend the Charleston class. This was held outside the tent as the crowd engorged with the waking masses, and we spread out into a big circle. On my wander to get a cup of tea I bumped into Cutashine violinist Christina and persuaded her to join me – I think she enjoyed the catch-your-breath poses in between more dynamic moves – here she is doing the “pout and stick your bum in the air” pose that is a personal favourite of mine.
You might think by now that I would be bored of dancing, but oh no, I’d just got started. And programme-less as ever I had no idea who might be playing on any of the stages so instead became determined to try every dance workshop available to me. During the break I visited my friend Bart over the way, who was there with his homemade digeridoos and green woodworking workshop. Every day he did a digeridoo workshop where those intrigued enough could learn how to play this most interesting of instruments.
Bart has just purchased some acres of woodland in Wales and I think I am going to angle for a visit. Some of the kids with our extended party also got really into making some baseball bats… I am not sure what they intended to do with these…
Next up was salsa. Now, I will confess that I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to salsa – I always relate this most sexual of dances to sleazy men. Why would that be? I’m not sure… but anyhow I thought I would give it a try. Now, I like the moves, I like to dance and wiggle around and generally shake my thang, but you know what? This was the only dance workshop which defeated me. Maybe this was because we had to change partners and then I lost my place in the circle when I went to get some water, or maybe it was because there were a few too many men trying to get a bit too up close and personal, surrounded by that invisible but tangible air of desperation. Yes, for me salsa was I have always envisaged it… not my favourite dance style by any means. I think I prefer to choose my partners rather than have them thrust onto me.
I finished my day of extreme dancing with the most extreme and tiring of all – krump, the dramatic dance style pioneered by the street gangs of LA.
Ebony skinned Nigel, who sounded like a true Brummie through and through, stripped to his waist and led us through a series of moves starting with a slide not unlike Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, and finishing with some extravagant floorwork not designed for me in my short dress. Luckily this meant that I got some great footage.
Late on Saturday afternoon the main fancy dress parade did a tour of the site, and on my trip back to our campsite I passed two small hyperactive girls who took one look at me and demanded to know, in no uncertain terms, why I wasn’t in fancy dress.
By golly they were cute, if precocious. And damn them, I hadn’t brought any fancy dress – but at this point I will fess up to another problem I have with festivals at the moment – there is just too much enforced fancy dress! It’s just not fun to dress up any more! It used to be special when only a few people did it, but all those whacky outfits make me want to dress in something thoroughly ordinary!
Having said that the standard of fancy dress at Shambala is definitely a cut above the rest – I suppose that what I really don’t like is the straight off the peg fancy dress outfits that anyone can buy nowadays – you don’t look whacky and imaginative my friend! You look like an uncreative prat! However, I did come across a number of truly inspired outfits at Shambala, all of which had clearly been individually fashioned with great care to detail. Here are some of the best ones I saw, and not yet another crappy plastic Indian headress manufactured in China amongst them.
I was also delighted to see the familiar Climate Caravan penguins were putting in yet another appearance in their stride restricting outfits – love them!
Following the parade break up (I wasn’t exactly sure where it went to, or who it was for, as it seemed to head into a dead end in the family camping area) I went in search of my friends dressed up in copper paint and stilts with High Rise Rubber, a performance group that fellow Cutashine caller Vic has been bringing out at festivals for many a year.
I must confess that even they lost some of their grandeur amidst the festival wide fancy dress party, but still managed to do their customary freak-the-punters-out with gooey blue dripping gobs trick. Trying to escape their copper paws is always particularly difficult when you are a mate in civvy clothes but I think I managed okay.
Come evening time it was time for Cutashine to hit the stage, so all and sundry popped a bit of red gingham on and headed for the Lakeside stage, where my band rocked up a storm with Vic at the helm, freshly rid of her copper stage makeup.
My favourite participants were the girls who had fashioned beds to sleep in upright – I mean, what kind of mastermind comes up with that idea? I told you the fancy dress was a cut above the usual dross. They danced every dance with verve, and never once got out of bed!
Afterwards I raced over to catch the last of Kid Carpet‘s set – since all his kid’s toys were stolen a few years ago he seems to have grown up a bit and his sound has evolved too – more dancey and fun than what I remember. We had a good ol’ bop before heading backstage to catch up with him and his missus, an old friend of ours who is now preggers with a Baby Carpet.
Then we all hung for a while in a shish tent before I snuck off to bed again – my friends are notorious caners and I just can’t do it anymore, and anyway, I had my sights set once again on joining some early morning dance classes….
On Sunday I did my faves, belly dancing and reggaeton, all over again, and I have to say, get me to some dance lessons quick! I am so down with that shit! I am definitely going to look up some classes in my area once I get back from India.
With plans to leave mid afternoon I then did a quick round of the site to check out what else was going on – and discovered willow basket-weaving workshops, raku pottery firing, permaculture talks, how to inoculate a log with mushroom spores (a shame I couldn’t do this one – I really fancy doing this at home) a packed make-your-own jewelery class, and perhaps best of all, a man in a spangly top carving an intricate wooden owl sculpture!
I managed to persuade a bearded man in a distressed wedding dress to fill my bottle with some of his homemade nettle beer, which was absolutely yummy, and from thence I went to pack my bag to leave.
So did Shambala live up to my mates’ hype? Yes – it’s a festival to inspire even the most jaded festival goer.
And I was mightly impressed with the way that it has remained resolutely independent, with no corporate sponsorship whatsoever, a fact that you only realise once you note its absence. What it lacks in terms of a well known line-up it more than makes up for with in spirit and workshops, with a bit of something for everyone to take part in.
It even had the best compost loos I have yet to encounter, the lovely thunderboxes, which were an absolute joy to use. Bring on next year!
Monday 1st September
Tuesday 2nd September
Glam Chops anyone?
A great line-up, but I have to admit the main draw for me would be Eddie Argos’ glam side project Glam Chops. I find glam rock quite detestable, but Eddie Argos is nothing short of genious.
Wednesday 3rd September
Vessels, Eat Lights: Become Lights, Semaphore and Island Line – Buffalo Bar, London
Santogold – Koko, London
Laura Marling – Star of Bethnal Green, London
Micachu, Let’s Wrestle and Smokey Angle Shades – Paradise by way of Kensal Green, London
Dead Pixels and The Shebeats – Metro, London
Poems, Dirty Weekend and Collapsing Cities – Death Disco at Notting Hill Arts Club, London
Gig of the week
Friendly Fires – Pure Groove Records, London
Friendly Fires are just a really enjoyable band. They manage to stand out amongst a group of very similar bands – which in itself is impressive.
Thursday 4th September
Roots Manuva – Rough Trade East, London
Roots Manuva for free? Awesome! His new stuff is actually really good as well. Especially the Toddla T produced ‘Buff Nuff’.
Friday 5th September
I really like Mucha Marcha. I’ve never been, but it has a really good name and pretty consistent line-ups. Man Like Me always mean a good time as well.
Kool and the Gang – IndigO2, London
Hands On Heads, Revenge of Shinobi and Eugene Machine – The Luminaire, London
The Brute Chorus, Fight Like Apes and The Molotovs – The Last Days of Decadence, London
Saturday 6th September
A Fistful Of Fandango 2 w/ Camera Obscura, The Clientele, The Wave Pictures, The Week That Was, Frightened Rabbit and Laurence Arabia – 229 Great Portland Street, London
X-Ray Spex and Goldblade – The Roundhouse, London
Sunday 7th September
Piaz Is a small contemporary boutique where specially designed pieces, no rx sit alongside contemporary artwork. The items are all exclusive and only available for 30 days, more about the concept bears a slight resemblance to Commes des garcons’ guerrilla shops that open and close before you can say arty farty. Except it stays in one place! Apparently ‘One step into the store often leaves shoppers feeling like they just had a date with Andy Warhol and Alexander McQueen.’
Check out some of the fashionable items for sale, malady displayed on podiums as if they were precious sculptures,
It looks like a really cool place to go for artists and designers to meet and collaborate, Its a merging of two worlds that belong together. Located In Chicago’s trendy River West neighbourhood its clear that there is plenty of local talent to display.
and here’s some more of his work, mmmmmm monochrome.
September this year sees a feature on James Marshall, Otherwise known as, ‘Dalek’, the opening reception is on Septmber 19th, 7-11pm, If i were in America I would certainly go!
His work involves these massive explosions of colour, and at Amelia’s we love massive explosions of colour! especially when they seem to be creating a little world, and this work certainly seems packed full of hyper landscape ideas and amazingly brilliant visual treats.
Its really admirable to see a place promoting local artists and designers and encouraging collaborations that happen so frequently, with almost a complete revamp every month you can go really often and be excited at seeing different installations each time.
Last Thursday myself and Tanya had a wee art gallery marathon. First up on the circuit was Pascal Rousson at the Vegas Gallery. Walking down the stairs into the basement gallery, stuff the first thing that I saw was a bunch of 5-6 year olds, viagra all of them just casually hanging out. Ooh, for sale I thought to myself, when did kids start turning up at opening nights? When I was that age (at the risk of sounding like a grandma) I never would have been taken to an art gallery opening night, let alone on a school night. The cultured times we live in! But I digress I am here for art and not a trip down memory lane.
Pascal Rousson’s use of the DIY metaphor continues in this current show, but unlike previous work this body strays into much darker territory. Taking centre stage, once past the gaggle of kids, is a garden shed like structure constructed from Rousson’s pulp pop paintings. Yes, you read correctly a shed made from art. Rousson’s paintings are re-interpretations of American pulp novels (the in-house Mills & Boon artist should watch out) and hung together on the frame of the shed are a collage of pop references. And what an assortment of references there are for your eyes to feast on.
Film noir is showcased through a variety of scantily attired ladies and gents caught up in behind closed doors bedroom behaviour for all to see (goodness, there are children around!), negligee clad foxy ladies lounging on beds, posing for painters and Y-front posturing hunks. Other paintings hark back to school days (maybe this is a trip down memory lane) with Strawberry Shortcake like cartoon figures, but it is the more adult references that steal your attention: Animé money shots anyone? These more adult references add a distinct voyeuristic element.
With the amount of paintings hung on the shed I found myself not knowing where to look, not least because of the many buxom peanut smuggling nippled ladies. It took a few circulations of the shed to ensure I had covered each painting. It was on one of my circulations that I noticed the daubed block lettering of male artists such as Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Sigmar Polke over-typed on some paintings highlighting the macho dynamic of the high priests of the artworld. Further highlighting this aspect was a series of paintings paying homage to Picasso depicted in a stereotypical breton striped tee teamed with a pair of y-fronts. But I found that this message was lost and also had a distinct whiff of another Frenchman’s advertising campaign for perfume. Further, stepping inside the shed installation the viewer is supposed to be to reminded of the the “trickery of painted film set façades” but it felt more reminiscent of what it actually was; the canvas backs of paintings.
At times I found it difficult to decide if Rousson’s work took too much inspiration from his pop culture references, he seems to walk a tight-ropers walk of homage and re-produced. None the less the Rousson’s body of work displayed are interesting for anybody who has even a slight leaning towards film noir and the unusually hanging of makes Rousson’s exhibition well worth a look.
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