Monday, February 16, 2009

Was in London this weekend...

and went to an exhibition on Russian Constructivism at the Tate Modern. On display was art from 1917 onwards and shows Russians such as Liubov Popova and Aleksandr Rodchenko struggling to develop an aesthetic by which they could move art forward in a progressive way. They were attempting to develop a more objective aesthetic to better articulate the new, the modern, the revolutionary world in which they were caught.

The exhibition shows this really well through paintings, sculpture, geometric models but also how they tried to develop a proletarian art celebrating the ordinary. In a country where the majority could neither read nor write they sought to harness an art for the revolution and for the everyday. For instance they developed street posters that were loud and brash, designs for cigarette packets that were colourful and challenging, even adverts for biscuits (cookies) using collage and photographs. These artists challenged conventional views of stage design and film, or street aesthetics such as in posters and adverts. Overall the exhibition shows all of this really well. However, for all their virtuosity and visual bravery there was something cold about the aesthetic, certainly in the paintings that were mainly shapes and lines. That said, and given these artists were battling against the dominant romantic aesthetic where the artist is king and the single point of view is truth, what they produced was very impressive.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A bitterly cold wind...

is currently sweeping westwards into the UK from Russia. It's impossible to turn on the TV or radio without being terrified by expectant tales of freezing conditions and arctic weather. It will be so cold tonight, we are warned, that anyone foolish enough to expose even a leg outside the duvet shall wake tomorrow with said leg frozen into a block of ice and most probably also stuck to the bed. Rumours abound that Health chiefs have hired teams of crack Italian knife grinders to keep hospital instruments sharp for all the cutting and hacking that's expected to be done. In Southern England the government has commandeered all the saws so someone must be expecting the worst. Worry about amputation therefore grips the populace forcing many into feverish re-readings of the limb clauses in their life insurance. In every town trembling fingers trace actuarial lists pausing over 'C' for Compensation but then moving to 'L' for Loss only to further discover sub-sections for the arm, leg, nose, ear. Ear! How long has that been a limb?

Fearful for their ears people today have rushed to purchase hats and it's even become impossible to buy a tea cosy such is the panic. From Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, the two counties expected to bear the icy blast's brunt news arrives of knitwear factories looted, sheep pillaged and babies robbed for their cute headwear. Early cases of mitten death have begun to surface.

Below zero temperatures are forecast to last until Wednesday.