Archive for October, 2009

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October 28, 2009

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People

October 22, 2009

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I love this project by photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek. Since 1994 they have been working on Exactitudes, which documents and reveals the dress codes of various social circles all over the world. I believe there is also a book.  Since I love watching people this is something I enjoyed a lot and spend, probably too much, time looking at today. Check out the Geeks, Jennyd´Enfers, Bonitas, Homeboys and all the others.

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Tiny Plays

October 19, 2009

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I have just finished  a book with collected miniature plays about life in the UK, written by Craig Taylor. First published in the Guardian I became only aware of them now. I guess the reason why they are so appealing to me is because I like to overhear conversations – it´s hard to avoid at times – and very often find them quite poetic. You can read some online and here is one of my favorites from the book.

Play no. 20 (A woman stands at a newsagent´s stall)

Woman          (holding up a copy of Cosmopolitan) Isn´t there one more recent than this?

Newsagent    That´s this month´s. New one not for … two weeks.

Woman          Fine. And a Coke please. (pause) No, sorry. Diet Coke.

A serious man

October 17, 2009

Because it´s the weekend, and because everything else is always serious here is some work of one of my all time favorite artist Erwin Wurm. A random collection. Enjoy.

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Haus auf dem Mumok, 2006/2007

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Dog that swallowed a letterbox, 2006 and Fat house, 2005

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Truck, 2005

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The Artist Begging for Mercy, 2002

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One Minute Sculpture, 1999-2000

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Outdoor Sculpture, 1998

A message

October 16, 2009

Yesterday I received a message from the Mayor of London himself – Boris Johnson. It reads:

Dear Londoner

I have today announced Transport for London’s (TfL) fares package for 2010. You will see and hear a lot about it in the media, but here’s my case and what I believe is the context. I have written this for the Evening Standard but I think it is also important for me to write to you directly. Full details of the whole package are available on the GLA website.

I’ve also posted a video message on YouTube

Public transport is critical to the health and success of London. And this is a critical moment for the health of public transport.

We have a pioneering tube system that is about to celebrate its 150th birthday, and which is still the envy of many other capitals. Our buses are carrying two billion passengers a year – the most since the 1960s.

And yet our system is in desperate need of repair.

We cannot expect Londoners to put up with ever more crowded and stifling trains, with the misery and frustration of signal failures.

Every time your train is stuck inexplicably in a tunnel, every time a service is cancelled, the experience is not just eroding your quality of life. It is eating away at our city’s global competitiveness.

Every time you inhale the fumes of a heavy, noisy, diesel-fuelled bus you are being exposed to the one of the prime culprits in London’s struggle to meet decent air quality standards.

With a population set to grow by 1.3 million over the next 15 years, we cannot just creak along as we are. We cannot submit to an intensifying rhythm of delay and decay.

That is why Transport for London is engaged in the biggest programme of investment for the last 50 years. We are upgrading eight tube lines, and introducing air conditioning on 40 per cent of the network.

We are expanding the Docklands Light Railway by 50 per cent, and we are pushing ahead with Crossrail, which will increase London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent. We are continuing to invest in cycling and low-carbon technology for our buses.

We are making these investments because they are the bare minimum we need to give London commuters the transport system they deserve and which this city needs to remain economically competitive with other capitals.

And yet TfL is trying to pay for this, while coping with the deepest recession for 30 years. We have seen the biggest fall in tube ridership since the late 1980s – and though that may not seem to make the Tube less crowded, it has blown a £700m hole in the budget.

We are coping with the colossal costs of the failure of Metronet and the disastrous PPP, and we are dealing with the costs of years of irresponsible politically-motivated jiggery-pokery in setting fares.

That is why I am announcing these rises today. They give me no pleasure whatever. But I believe passionately that they are reasonable and in the best interests of London.

It is a fares package that has been produced after long consultation, and Londoners should know that it is being accompanied by a sustained and determined assault on costs at Transport for London.

London Underground has already shed 1000 backroom positions. We have cut £220 million on consultants and £130 m on accommodation costs, as part of a programme that will take £5 billion out of TfL’s budget by 2018.

We have taken some very tough decisions to slow down projects such as some station renewals and step-free access – because it is there that we can find savings that do not compromise the great prize: to increase capacity, and to allow more people to travel in speed and comfort on public transport.

We have been ruthless in finding savings, and that is why we have been able today to restrict the scale of the fare increases.

These are not the biggest fare hikes of the last ten years. That dubious honour belongs to the increases of 2005 and 2006.

Even when these rises come into effect, from January, average bus fares will be ten per cent lower than in 2000, and tube fares have not kept pace with the rise in earnings.

The simple fact is that in a bitter recession, and with such huge pressure on public finances, we cannot keep providing a service at a price so far below cost.

Bus subsidy has soared from £24 m in 2000 to £620 m today. With almost 40 per cent of bus passengers allowed to travel for free, I have of course been urged to take those benefits away.

I have been told that 60 is too young to have the right to 24 hour free travel. I have been advised that we should take back free travel for kids. I disagree.

I believe those concessions are valued by Londoners of all ages. Together with our help for those on income support and those in search of work those schemes are especially important now, in a recession, and I will not take them away.

Having cut costs to the bone, having begun the painful process of shedding thousands of employees, we are then faced with a clear choice.

We could flunk the test, and expand the black hole in TfL’s finances. We could cancel vital infrastructure projects and do long-term damage to the prospects of this city. We could impose new charges on the young, the old and those on benefits.

It is obvious that none of those options is right for this city. That is why I am today announcing a package of measures that is fair, that protects the vulnerable, and will allow us to get on with vital infrastructure investment we need.

London has a fantastic future over the next few years. We are going to harness the Olympics to drive change and improvements of all kinds in what it feels like to live in and move around the city.

But we can only deliver those changes if we now take the steps – too long delayed – to sort out the finances of Transport for London.

We must put those finances on a firm footing, and we must do it now. It is the only way to ensure we can make the investment that London needs in buses, trains, track, tunnels, bridges and signalling.

If we make those investments, we will deliver huge returns in the quality of life in this city.

And if we fail to make them, the long term cost to Londoners will be infinitely higher than any increase in fares.

I have been using public transport in London for 2 years now as much as I find it amazing how the system carries millions of people each day and still somehow works, I find it incredible how much you have to pay. Since I am not a student anymore I now have to pay 100 GBP for a monthly travel card,  with the increase possibly more. If it would all be used to improve the system it would be somehow feasible but it seems that it it is not. I have spoken to people who have been living here for ten years and more and even though fares rose and rose nothing has significantly changed. Ok, so there is the shine Jubilee Line, which is shut down EVERY weekend for `planned engineering work ´- causing thousands of people travel nightmares if they want to visit a concert at the O2 for example.

So when Boris says that the increase is due to the mistakes of former Mayor Ken Livingston and how much we’ll regret it ‘in three, four, five years time and longer’ if we don’t invest now I have to laugh. As if he really cares about improvements and is just not trying to find a quick way to fix the hole in the transport pot. As one comment put it, Seriously… this is not cool.

Laura

October 15, 2009

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Everything is OK

October 14, 2009

Sometimes it´s the simplest messages that are the most important ones.

Here is a form of protest which I support and enjoyed watching for the last couple of days! Charlie and Danny are two guys, based in London, equipment with a megaphone and opinions and messages worth spreading. And they do it in a very bold, yet peaceful and satirical way.

London is the ideal place for it. They are exposing the madness of why the powers-that-be feel that it is OK to film the public but are not happy about the public turning round and filming them back. The most ridiculous thing is, that these videos are only interesting because the police always tries to intervene and prosecute. If they would just not bother they would be nowhere funny as they are. It also shows how important it is to know your rights so you´re not intimidated by someone, just because he is wearing a uniform.

Danny+Charlies YouTube channel cveitch and some of my favorite videos:

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The Royal Edition Part 2

My favorite one is The Happy Carriage, only because I go on the tube almost every day and keep on thinking, why is everyone so miserable and is just trying to ignore everyone else. As Danny and Charlie are saying, it is sad how we are afraid of each other and the world around us, because fear is what keeps people controlled. Sometimes all you need to break that is a smile and a hug. Cheesy, maybe but true.

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Material, silver buttons and ratio

October 11, 2009

Currently all four nominees for the Turner Prize 2009 are exhibited at Tate Britain. The four artists are Enrico David, Roger Hiorns, Lucy Skaer and Richard Wright and there is something intriguing about all of them.

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Enrico Davids weird sculptural body on rocking chair legs. How Do You Love Dzzzzt by Mammy? 2009

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Roger Hiorns atomized yet engine. Untitled 2008

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Lucy Skaers coal sculpture. Black Alphabet 2008

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Richard Wrights labor intense wall paintings.

The most impressive for me though was definitely Roger Hiorns. Born in 1975 he graduated in 1996 from Goldsmiths, London and has lived and worked here since. When I first entered the room I saw a big mess of what looked like sand in all shades of grey. I thought, this looks nice, but what is this supposed to mean. Beside it hung some weird looking pale yellow sculptures, a bit like giant cut up sea shells. When I found out that the grey sand was actually an atomized yet engine and the sculptures were made out of plastic and powdered brain matter I was surprised. As described in the exhibition catalog Hiorns

work in sculpture is driven by his continually-evolving and analytical exploration of material and form. His works often employ a straightforward or formal material presence that is subverted by the introduction of an incongruous element, triggering a sense of the uncanny or the metaphorical.

In other words, if you know what it´s made of you think, oh! I love the way he uses materials and how they have a certain obscurity about them. You could almost say there is a bit of Beuys in his work.

In 2008 Hiorns did an amazing project. Being interested in the autogenic properties of copper sulphate and the problematic ideals of modernist social architecture, he filled an abandoned, and ready to be demolished, house in South London with 75,000 liters of liquid copper sulphate, which eventually turned into blue crystals and covered every surface. It was called Seizure and looked like this. At that time I heard about it but, even though living in South London, never went. Big mistake!

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At the end of the exhibition at the Tate was a space where visitors could leave their opinion or feedback as well as taking silver buttons with names from each artist. The only ones left where Lucy Skaers and Richard Wrights … I wonder if this says anything. Not that it matters because the judging is done by a panel of important people from the art world, whereas the public is only allowed to make recommendations for nominations. We will find out after the 7th December when the winner will be announced at Tate Britain.

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A note on the side. So far there have been 24 Turner Prize winners. The first women to win the prize was Rachel Whiteread in 1993 followed by Gillian Wearing in 1997 and Tomma Abts in 2006. 3 out of 24 seems like a pretty poor representation of contemporary British art. Surely there are more talented female artists out there? Reveal yourself, because apparently the committee can´t find you.

Tavi

October 8, 2009

This is Tavi Gevinson the sensational 13-year-old blogger of The New Girl in Town (Vogue.com)

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Tavi has a blog where she writes about fashion, her own styling and her inspirations. She also is sits in the front row of international fashion shows, is featured on established fashion magazines blogs and appears on covers like the LOVE magazine. She is something like the new must-have for the fashion industry.

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I have been reading quite a bit about her recently, and don´t know what to think of it. She definitely has style and is weirdly fascinating, but then I look at the face and I think, this is a child. I don´t know if she´s making fun of all this and just goes with the flow, or if this is all part of her master plan. Then again, can you expect a 13 year old to be so calculating? When I was 13 I was wearing whatever my mum gave me and didn´t think the slightest bit about my style or checked out worldwide fashion trends. It´most likely that she was just bored and spent some time on the computer and for some reason someone thought she was “different” and from there the world wide web helped her to fame. Amazing.

This is what she writes about herself

Tiny 13 year old dork that sits inside all day wearing awkward jackets and pretty hats. Scatters black petals on Rei Kawakubo’s doorsteps and serenades her in rap. I have no where near 4 million readers. Rather cynical and cute as a drained rat. In a sewer. Farting. And spitting out guts.

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Moving without moving

October 5, 2009

Being on the train, going through the countryside, listening to new music made me think me of this video by the Chemical Brothers from 2006.

It reminded me how going on a train always puts you in your own music video, making everything magically beautiful. The sky seems promising, the cows metaphorical and the houses nicely sad. You don´t even have to move yourself – you get moved.

How nice.