Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Juan Munoz et al.

Nicolas and me, looking at a Juan Munoz piece (obviously I can't remember the name of it. It's a self 'portrait' though, this much I remember)

Went to the Juan Munoz exhibition at the Tate Modern and found it brilliant. I liked his balconies, the way viewers have to get quite involved to see everything there is to see in his sculptures, which were quite poetic, despite the highly disturbing factor sometimes! The other good thing is that there weren't too many kids around. There were hips in the members' bar though, which is pretty annoying, though I guess people with young children should have the right to a bit of culture too.

However, there was a little girl yesterday in the audience at the Royal Opera House, watching 3 short works, 1 a modern piece by McGregor, the other the Rite of Spring (sacrifice the maiden!) and another about a soldier who murders his girlfriend. Not exactly the Nutcracker is it?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mayra Andrade on Later with Jools Holland

The Cape Verdean singer Mayra Andrade was on the music show Later with Jools Holland last week, here in the UK. Here is a special performance recorded for the Later website. The song is called Tunuka.

Mayra will be in concert at the Barbican in London in March!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Funny parody of Celine Dion

World Press Photo 07

World Press Photo prize winner, 2007
by Tim Hethrington
First published in Vanity Fair

More photographs and winners here.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What European toys say about European views

A very interesting article in The Economist on Europe's biggest toy brands, Lego (Denmark) and Playmobil (Germany). I tried to explain to an English friend what Playmobils were and failed.

A few extracts:

"Study these little people, and you learn much about European views of globalisation, violence, creativity, America, race, gender equality and what makes a good job. For example, says Playmobil's chief executive, Andrea Schauer, “the dream of every German mother” used to be to have an engineer for a son. Parents liked to see boys assembling elaborate structures in their bedrooms; Lego is the top toy brand in Germany. In contrast, the French shun construction toys, preferring the world of the imagination. Playmobil is their leading toy brand.

Europeans are squeamish about warfare and armies. American shelves groan under tanks and muscle-bound action heroes; European parents are less keen. Playmobil tanks and warplanes “could certainly make big money,” says Mrs Schauer, since children write in demanding such things. But Playmobil will not make them. Europe's history, especially Germany's, rules it out.

Yet go farther back in history and violence triggers little concern. There are Playmobil knights and barbarians, pirates and Roman legionaries, all wielding lethal weapons. Europeans can even live with American military toys, if they are old enough: there are Playmobil cowboys from the Wild West, and soldiers from both sides in the American civil war.

The difference is philosophical, says Mrs Schauer. There are no more knights and pirates, so their combat is a “resolved story”. Modern war is “really horror”. "