Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 2011 Diary additionals-too good not to include!

Royal Wedding-a-rama:

The RW on 29th April has stimulated a splurge of RW-related activity around the country. Sadly, I didn't find out in time about the school in Liverpool that put on a 'Big Fat Gypsy Wedding'-themed event which dressed up kids in the mad meringues featured in the show to celebrate the forthcoming RW. Sad, as it would have been a bit of culturally-questionable kitsch. However, passions for the social life, history and place of wedding couture and culture in the UK can nonetheless be indulged in various ways and places. 

Snibston Discovery Museum,

"Getting Hitched" (until Sunday 15th May)

The exhibition of 21 outfits, the earliest from 1780 and the most recent from 2006, looks at the influence Royal weddings have had on matrimonial fashions. Interesting from a general material cultural point of view but also significant in that it includes in it's wedding costume view recent social/cultural shifts as civil partnerships are covered too.

Walsall Museum: (until 5th June)

Walsall provides a smaller-scale costume display showing historic wedding dresses from the 1900s through to the 1970s and a window on the changing ideas about wedding wear, custom and activity as styles and expectations change throughout the 20th century.

Rag Factory, Shoreditch : (no date supplied)In Heneage Street, just off Brick Lane an exhibition created by from an open submission to international artists displays alternative RW invites made from a wide variety of materials and methods from huge illustrated posters to t-shirts. Distinctly non-"traditional" and with a feel of edginess, this response to the pomp and pageantry of a good old-fashionned, flag-waving national event, definately registers as both an antidote and refuge when crowded out from central London by the mayhem.

And finally...

Mass Observation Archive Royal Wedding Directive:

If you want to commit your own thoughts on the RW to paper, the Archive is on the lookout for submissions by writers describing their 29th April. What they are looking are  perceptions and activities on that day to provide an broad view, so adding a dimension of everyday sentiment or critique to the record regarding national events. It was also done in 1981 for Charles and Diana's wedding so perceptions gathered regarding monarchy and the event's significance (or otherwise) will be very interesting in comparison. As the Archive is accessible, this will be possible to see once collated so an interesting source of research data for any interested in European cultures. Sign up to become an observer by visiting the site and clicking the ‘Writing For Us’ link.

OK, that's quite enough about the RW, onto other stuff and moving from the fragrant and orderly world of wedding-bells to disorderly dirt:

Wellcome Trust, London:
"Dirt" (until 31 August)

This interactive and highly media/visual-savvy exhibition was stimulated by anthropologist Mary Douglas' observation of dirt as "matter out of place". Tied-in with the BBC series 'Filthy Cities' (advertised with great retro 'Scratch and Sniff' cards), the exhibition ranges across six different spaces and periods in time providing a view on dirt as captured with, on and through visual arts, objects and media. The exploration takes in different attitudes and practices associated with the disorderly nature of dirt and it's interaction with community in 17th century Holland, Victorian London, mid-19th century Glasgow, early twentieth century Dresden, present-day New Delhi and, projecting grime futures , a New York landfill site in 2030.

The film Q2P by Paromita Vohras (distributed and archived at the RAI is being screened at the exhibition, addressing issues of urban anthropology as it traces the gendering of public space through the difficulties women have accessing public toilets in New Delhi. As the search for a 'Ladies' unfolds, the restriction of activity and presence for women in public space and resulting social effects is described . I tried and failed to find this film last year so it's well worth catching it at the exhibtion.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lucy's Diary April 2011

Hey everyone, I’ve got a busy month coming up, trying to get to as many of the delightful and interesting events occurring all over the country. Naturally, I’m not able to make all of them but I’ll have to figure out a strategy! First up, I’ll look at regional events then move onto London as it’s far too often the other way round! By the way, everything listed is free entry unless otherwise noted.

 Oxford Pitt Rivers Museum:

The Last Samurai: Jacques-Philippe Potteau’s Photographs of the Japanese Missions to Europe, 1862 and 1864 (11 April - 18 September 2011)

A complement to the GOMA exhibition listed below, the Pitt Rivers archive is showing fourteen mounted albumen prints and two related engravings from the Japanese missions to  several European cities in 1862 and 1864. Delegates, in portraits taken by Jacques-Philippe Potteau in Paris show members of the last generation of samurai.

In a Different Light (Friday 13 May 18.00 – 22.00)

This one sounds fascinating, it's an evening event which provides the opportunity to visit the Museum and explore by torchlight plus live bands and world music and a 'Future Shorts One' screening of short films by emerging directors. It's free event entry on a first-come-first-served basis though films are charged at £3 (advance tickets available soon) and shown for 75mins. at 6.30 & 8pm tickets £3 (advance tickets coming soon).

Manchester Cornerhouse:

‘New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK’ (8th April to 5th June) 

Ten contemporary artists’ construct personal journeys literally mapping the effects of colonialism and beyond in the relationship between Algeria and Europe through installation, video, photography and mapping. In light of the forthcoming 50th anniversary of Algerian independence, the pertinence of work gains added resonance due to current local and regional revolution and civil unrest. Current debates concerning colonial, post-colonial and neoliberal influences are addressed as well as subsequent connectivity and boundary between North Africa and Europe. Political and personal movements through space are described through migration, Diaspora, and consequent sense of memory and identity.

Glasgow GOMA:

 Blueprint for a Bogey (until 5 June 2011)

The boundaries, rights and ways of play are explored in this exhibition, making it a good one for the cultural, social and comunity/ youth work-minded anthropologists. Including art work from the GOMA collection of Dame Paula Rego, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Andy Goldsworthy and Graham Fagen which is presented in conjunction with work by David Sherry, Corin Sworn and the collaborative project Women@Play. There are associated events, talks and workshops

China Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872 (until 12th June)

Considered a pioneer of photojournalism in an age of rare long-distance travel, John Thomson took imagery of landscapes, architecture and a cross-section of the population providing a view on everyday life in 19th century China. This is a timely opportunity to see rarely-seen Chinese material culture from a period in which interiority ruled and it would have been practically impossible for outsiders to have seen, either from without or within, the views displayed. This display affords the opportunity to gain a broader perspective on a country until fairly recently shrouded in mystery and supposition. As this prime mover of the emergent BRICs economic forces get to grips with the imminent reality of becoming a superpower and setting world economic agendas, the ‘view from within’ afforded in part by viewing such materials offers a fascinating insight, and challenging corrective, to contemporary ‘Yellow Peril’ fears and Orientalist fantasies directed toward China and suffered by Chinese immigrants in C19th Britain.

Derby Quad Gallery:

FORMAT photography festival exhibition (until 8th May)

Modern China is viewed from many angles in another exhibition forming part of the FORMAT streetphotography festival. Territories of identity, belonging and culture are explored through various photographers work looking internationally at Japan, Turkey, Libya and Germany amongst other spaces, some much closer to home. The visualisation of life and lives though the festival offers opportunities for self-engagement and involvement through the reflections included on the nature of image, viewing and the movement toward participant observation photo-style plus the opportunity to 'have a go' and submit images to the FORMAT site.

Bradford National Media Museum:

‘From Back Home’ (Ongoing in Gallery One)

I confess, I’ve been to this one already so can tell you more about the experience. Two photographers,  Anders Petersen (b1944) and JH Engström (b1969), exhibit work made over years of their homeland, Sweden, in the process revealing an often dark and stark underbelly in the people and places that formed them. In the process they provide a window in time (80’s and 90’s) and space illustrating a spectrum of social and cultural activity in both town and country; providing reflections on personal choice and destiny in Nan Goldin-like portrayals of people. As with the best visual anthropology, these images and their accompanying commentaries by the photographers make you want to follow the characters more, know more because some, uncannily, seem like they could be from your own life and so the edges between observer and observed become blurred beyond boundary.

And so, returning to London and the South East:

London,British Museum:

‘Afghanistan: what makes a nation?’ (12th April)

First up, there is a debate co-run with The Guardian which ties-in with the 'Afghanistan' exhibition to which the charge (£12 concessions, £15 everyone else) gets you access (so a good deal if you’ve not yet got to the exhibition, especially as it will be a lot quieter and so easier to see). Featuring Jon Snow as chair, the discussion will address the diverse peoples, rich resources, and strategic significance of the country in determining the forces that have shaped it.

‘Picasso to Julie Mehretu’ (until 25th April)

This is another one I stumbled across whilst wandering in the Museum the other day and found allsorts of anthropological loveliness in the content of displayed prints by 70 artists of work spanning C20th artistic movements. Fascinating visual takes describe the value of attempting through visual representation to capture and comment on perceptions of the human experience and the interaction between the forms and modes of modernity. The imagery presented underlines and reflects continuity of concerns and interests over time. Work includes Franz Ackermann’s ‘mental maps’ of cultural commodification, globalisation and environments of urbanised modernity observed through ceaseless travel whilst Jean Dubuffet serves a different view with elements of street graf and the art of psychotics incorporated into line forms. Richard Harzman looks at self and others in the form of humanity stripped of feature in simple form, and Phillip Guston’s images of graphic hooded figures, reflective of his experience with the KKK but which chime with current preoccupations with a different kind of equally disturbing ‘hoodie’ figures.

Guilford (venue tbc) St George’s Day 23rd April:

Worth keeping an eye on the Wild Hunt site to check the venue (probably town centre, near a pub) to see the first annual outing of The Wild Hunt Morris dance group, an event truly not to be missed. The Wild Hunt incorporate tradition with dark Celtic and Norse mythology to perform wild and abandoned yet tradition stepped dances with huge, shaggy and masked costume reminiscent of both African masquerade traditions and Iberian folk dancing, with which there is more than a hint of shared tradition. For a dance form thought to have Moorish historical origins, none of these potential connections are unfounded and to see it is to have a truly wild treat as well as connecting with one of the few British folk dance practice left containing vestiges of much older pagan fertility, placatory and celebratory rites. Don’t expect hankies, do expect big sticks, yelling, lots of joy and a few pints after in the local.

 London, The Jewish Museum:

Morocco: Photographs by Elias Harrus and Pauline Prior (until 2 May)

Photography by Elias Harrus from the 1940's and 50's featuring the now almost-forgotten and disappeared Jewish community co-existing with Moroocan Muslims in the Atlas Mountains and Sahara oases are counterpointed by those taken by Pauline Prior in 2008. The images enable a reflection on the links between the communities, their religious life, crafts and traditions and a potential 'vanished world'.Rare film footage is also featured as are material cultural items including ceremonial costume and jewellery plus accompanying events, talks and performances and the kosher cafe for a taste of Jewish culinary delights.

London, Geffrye Museum:

At Home in Japan - beyond the minimal house (to Monday 29 August 2011)

Based on original ethnographical research by Dr Inge Daniels (University of Oxford), and includes project-specific photography by Susan Andrews (London Metropolitan University) this exhibition in the museum dedicated to the home looks at the myth of the Japanese home in the West. Looking at architecture, decoration and style, the careful and orderly construct is examined as a myth and examines the private lives lived behind the doors, after the manner of Daniel Miller ('The Comfort of Things'), considering contemporary Japanese life through an ethnographic lens through a variety of narrative aspects of home including decoration, display, furniture, the tatami mat to domestically-realted practices of eating, sleeping, ‘gifting’, cleaning and hygiene and worship. Entry is £5.