Monday, October 30, 2006

El Roto

In the middle east, we wear the burka to be invisible, and in the west we wear it to be seen.

El Roto publishes daily for the newspaper El Pais.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pieter Hugo

This picture by Pieter Hugo won the World Press prize for best photojournalism picture. The colors are amazing, it really goes with the surrealism of seeing a hyena on lead.

More winners can be seen on the Liberation website.

Monday, October 23, 2006

David Hockney at the National Portrait Gallery

Went to see David Hockney's Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery yesterday and enjoyed it very much.

I knew Hockney for his big colurful paintings, whether portraits or landscapes. I wasnt aware he was also a master of simple drawings and photography.

Sketching to him is an extension of seeing, and he seems to be sketching constantly. He is obsessed with the idea of seeing and representing. I didnt know he had such a fascination for Picasso either, and with the history of art in general. I really want to read his book: Secret Knowledge, Rediscovering the Techniques of the Old Masters.

Amazon says: This book is the fruit of his practical and historical investigation into how artists from the 15th century onward produced such vividly realistic drawings and paintings. Hockney's conclusions are simple but devastating. He argues that, "from the early 15th century many Western artists used optics--by which I mean mirrors and lenses (or a combination of the two)--to create living projections". The results are extraordinary. Secret Knowledge carefully explains how Masaccio, Van Eyck, Holbein, Caravaggio, Vermeer and Ingres all used optical aids, as it carefully takes apart the paintings and recreates the instruments and techniques used by artists from as early as the 1430s.

Interesting no?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Gael Garcia Bernal at the NFT

Mexican actor, director and cutie Gael Garcia Bernal was at the National Film Theatre for a talk on Monday. I couldn't afford to go but that's alright, cause the Guardian has a transcript of the whole interview.

I recommend you read it all. He turns out to be a very politically engaged actor who is really giving all he has to make films with meanings and to improve his country's (Mexico) situation. Among other things, he has created his own production company and is launching a travelling documentary festival in Mexico, Ambulante.

Here are a few bits that interested me:

"It is truly impossible to take politics out of any story made in Latin America or Mexico. The place demands that you involve its history. It would be very disappointing not to use that wider scope. I think Y Tu Mamá También is a truly involved political film that will be more important in 10 years' time because it is a document of something that was happening in Mexico right after the fall of the PRI, the party that was in power for 72 years. So it is inevitable to be political and I must say it is irresponsible not to acknowledge it. It augments the fiction and it is there to be grabbed and used, without the politics having to be spoon-fed to the audience."

"[The Motorcycle Diaries] was a film where, if I'd been a bit detached from it, it would have been a useless experience. You had to give yourself and transform yourself as the two guys on that journey transformed themselves"

" I think that by working together is where Latin American cinema can find its place. I think we should work as a bloc: we share the same language - the case of Brazil is different, but we share the same circumstances and we might as well work together. You go to a film festival and you find one stand called Asian cinema - in Asia, they speak so many languages and the cultures are so very different, and there're more people and it's more diverse there. And then you go to the Mexican stand, the Argentinian stand, the Cuban stand, the Colombian stand and you're lost. We should work as a bloc"

"Almodóvar is one of those people who can give himself that luxury, he can start shooting any time he wants, he can hire any actor he wants. He's a great director. He's very specific - he tells you how many steps to take from here to there. If he says it's nine steps, you have to make it in nine. So that creates a tension, but it also creates a world"

"You asked about the nostalgic feeling in my work - well, that's the nature of it. There is this vision of Latin America as a place of pure celebration, but actually I see it as a cage of melancholy, but melancholy flies a lot and looks like a happy bird. Octavio Paz put it so well, it's a labyrinth of solitude."

"You might have an idea of what you're doing, but when you're on stage, you get lost. And that moment of losing yourself, of not knowing what the hell you're doing and thinking that you're going deep into a whirlwind and hoping that someone will catch you at the end, that is called a performance. That's when a director catches you, and that's when the audience acknowledges your leap of faith into something that's so incredibly unknown"

"I want to say one more thing before you leave, just one little thing. Whoever of you wants to be an actor, or film director, or writer or film producer or whatever. Honestly, I used to be sitting back there. I know this sounds like the biggest cliche ever, but it really is possible to tell a story and just go out and do it. Doesn't matter if only two people see it, doesn't matter if you get up on the stage and one of the lights goes out. It is important to tell a story and be faithful to yourself, be consistent. Just do what you like. So hopefully many people will go from here and do a film one day, even if it's in 10 years' time. I am very, very glad to be here and I'm getting very sentimental, but it's so important to me to be here. Thank you so much."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

We answer to the name of Liberals

A letter, signed by 44 American professors, in the magazine American Prospect, denouncing the failures of the Bush Administration. In there, a very good definition of what being a liberal (ie from the left) and what binds us together in a democracy.

"We reaffirm the great principle of liberalism: that every citizen is entitled by right to the elementary means to a good life. We believe passionately that societies should afford their citizens equal treatment under the law -- regardless of accidents of birth, race, sex, property, religion, ethnic identification, or sexual disposition. We want to redirect debate to the central questions of concern to ordinary Americans -- their rights to housing, affordable health care, equal opportunity for employment, and fair wages, as well as physical security and a sustainable environment for ourselves and future generations"

"Reason is indispensable to democratic self-government. This self-evident truth was a fundamental commitment of our Founding Fathers, who believed it was entirely compatible with every American's First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. When debating policy in the public square, our government should base its laws on grounds that can be accepted by people regardless of their religious beliefs. Public commitment to reason and evidence is the bedrock of a pluralist democracy"

Read the whole letter here and in French here

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Orhan Pamuk Nobel Prize

The Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk was awarded the Nobel Prize for Litterature today.

It is fantastic that he receive such a prize, as he was taken to court in his home country, Turkey, for denouncing the 1915 genocide of Amernians and Kurds led by the Turkish.

It is also great that he receives such a prize today, just as the French Assemblee Nationale voted a law prosecuting anyone denying the Armenian genocide.

Go truth!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Carsten Holler slides - cant wait to go!

The artist Carsten Holler has installed huge slides in the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall. The longest drops from the 5th floor, and that is 27 m high!
Apparently, the feeling is amazing!
What is the link with art?
Well, it certainly has something to do with architecture and psychology, according to Holler.
"For some reason that I don't understand slides have not been taken up," he said. In his view, they provide a safe, fast and efficient means of transportation through and between buildings. The experience of descent also "gives you a moment of relief," he said. "It gives you the possibility to let some of those things go that you carry around as an adult. By letting yourself go you somehow get to the bottom of things."
The slides are on for 6 months, so people, come and visit! Until then, have a look here

Friday, October 06, 2006


London, September 06

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Elie Medeiros - Toi mon toit

This is one of the first songs I loved as a child. I was only 5!
Love the rythm and the lyrics are quite cute ("the butterflies... in the air! and the ants... on the ground!"). Those lyrics are also a bit naughty ("Take a little fish, put it between my legs...") but I just thought that was weird. All I wanted was the fish-dress worn by the singer, Elie Medeiros. And the sparkly one at the end, even better!! :-)

Entrance of a bordel

Michael took this picture of the entrance of a strip club, peep show place, on Great Windmill Street. London, 03/10/06

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mobile phones and sardines in Kerala

A really exciting piece in Liberation today, written by a professor from the Massachussets Insitute of Technology, about the digital divide between developed and developing countries.

Should developing countries try to reduce the technology gap or focus on getting the essentials (water, health...) right first? Both sides have good arguments, and here, Esther Duflo tells a story showing the unexpected advantages of introducing mobile phones on the Kerala coastline (South India).

Mobile phones have helped sardines fishermen increase their profits by 8%, at the same time as reducing the price of sardines by 4% and avoiding wastage all together. Now how is that possible?

Fishermen go to sea, along the coast (max 25km), early in the morning, and by 8am are back on beaches to sell their catch. Those beaches are quite far apart, so they were unable to move from one beach to another if there was too much competition on one beach. The same for fish buyers: if there was not enough fish to buy, they sometimes went home empty handed.

Now, with mobile phones, fishermen can decide before coming ashore who they are selling the sardines to, or what price they will sell them to. All the fishermen have access to all the buyers, and vice versa. Results: reduced volatily of prices, no wastage, better prices and better profits for all.

Good no?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

a good movie!

Watched Shopgirl, starring Claire Danes and Steve Martin, and thought it was really good. I cant work out if it was sparse or too sophitiscated. Let's say it is elegant. I cant work out if the story is believable or not, but let's say I related to it.

It had some great long travelling shots, beautiful lighting, good lines and characters I cared about. And Claire Danes is superb in that movie. Her performance is the only thing critics agreed upon. For the rest, it's very mixed. Only 62% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes...

Some people found unbelievable that such a girl would fall for Steve Martin (born 1945!) but his character is a rich man, a bit shy at the beginning, quite a gentleman. What would people say if that man was a dwarf or a fatty? I say why not?

Another boy is after Mirabelle, the geeky Jeremy. After a not very good first fling, he leaves on tour with a rock band and comes back changed. It is sad that the scenarist (Steve Martin himself) decided to make him change through self-help books, when the reason he changed is simple: he just did what he wanted to do, and through that became more confident and had more to give.

People point to plot-holes and things being a bit too "engineered", but, man, women's favourite romantic comedy tells about a whore who falls for her client, how engineered is that!

Anyway, this is my movie recommendation for this week.