I recently had an opportunity to see David Lynch: The Art Life, a wonderful documentary about the American filmmaker David Lynch, directed by Jon Nguyen. The film offers unparalleled access to Lynch, and cobbles together a series of telling anecdotes about Lynch’s childhood in the suburbs, and his early days as a painter. ‘The Art Life’ refers to a lifestyle choice that Lynch adopted after reading Robert Henri’s book about painting, The Art Spirit: “The art spirit sort of became the art life, and I had this idea that you drink coffee, you smoke cigarettes, and you paint, and that’s it.” (more…)

Lorraine Sim discusses how the women of modernism allow us to reimagine the ordinary and the everyday
Lorraine Sim, Ordinary Matters: Modernist Women's Literature and Photography (Bloomsbury, 2016)
Lorraine Sim, Ordinary Matters: Modernist Women’s Literature and Photography (Bloomsbury, 2016)

What inspired you to write Ordinary Matters?

The idea developed from my first book, Virginia Woolf: the Patterns of Ordinary Experience. Towards the end of that project I realised there was much more that I wanted to explore, both in terms of the concept of the everyday and its applications to modernism and cultural histories of early twentieth-century modernity. I remember reading H.D.’s fascinating wartime memoir, The Gift, while I was working on my book on Woolf, and seeing some of Lee Miller’s photographs of London during the Blitz around the same time, and I felt I needed to extend my exploration of the ordinary to a broader range of women writers, artists and contexts. The final chapter of Virginia Woolf looked at what I termed the ‘ethics of the ordinary’ in her oeuvre. This idea, of the ways in which the ordinary functions as a site of value (be it personal, social, moral or political), really fascinated me, and I wanted to explore it in a more comprehensive way. Also, many canonical and contemporary theories on the topic view the everyday negatively, or as requiring radical transformation, and I felt that this was a critical habit or commonplace that itself required interrogation. (more…)

Bethany Rose Lamont on a print journal that discusses mental health issues through art and literature

What inspired you to start Doll Hospital?

I started Doll Hospital in 2014 when I was 23 and a suicidal master’s student at Oxford. I’m 25 now and a suicidal PhD student at Central Saint Martins, so, like, ‘inspiring’ may not be the best word but hey, in two and half years we’ve put out three 150 page plus full colour issues which is cool. My reason for starting it wasn’t particularly worthy. I was literally just told by my friends to stop tweeting about killing myself as it was freaking everyone out so I was like ‘screw you guys I’ll find another space to make people uncomfortable!’—which is a hilarious backstory in my humble opinion.

Could you tell me how you chose the provocative title?

I came across the phrase ‘doll hospital’ in the 2012 Spring/Summer edition of Another Magazine, the author Joe Dunthorne had curated a photo series, pairing quotes with interesting images. One of the quotes read something along the lines of ‘this is the doll hospital, they come to me broken and I bring them new life’. I just became totally taken in by that line! I had also recently read The Bluest Eye, and the notion of deconstructing white supremacy via the imagery of the doll, of Shirley Temple, was so powerful to me. From then on all my social media was under the handle ‘doll hospital’. I just thought it was the best combination of words, so inevitably when it came to choosing a title for the journal I went with Doll Hospital too! (more…)

A secret charity auction with contributions from major artists and emerging talent

Art on a Postcard raises money for The Hepatitis C Trust through an annual secret postcard auction and ‘postcard lotteries’ which occur throughout the year. In recent years, work has been donated from established artists such as Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Harland Miller, Gavin Turk, Rachel Howard, Gilbert and George, Polly Morgan, John Wragg RA, Stephen Chambers RA, Micheal Craig-Martin and Cecily Brown and emerging talent such as David Shillinglaw, Hayden Kays and Daisy Cook as well as urban artists, Ben Eine, Pure Evil and Inkie and photographers Dougie Wallace and Rankin. The project was founded by Gemma Peppé.

“I’m delighted to be part of this year’s The Hepatitis C Trust’s Art on a Postcard Secret Auction. While the secret auction democratises art, funds raised will help The Trust in its work towards ridding the county of hepatitis C, a killer disease which disproportionally affects an underprivileged community.”

— Grayson Perry

I caught up with some of this year’s artists to ask them about their involvement with the cause, and how they met the challenge set by the project. (more…)

The author talks about his new book, his influences, and his fascination with modern urban spaces

What made you choose the title “Imaginary Cities”?

Darran Anderson, Imaginary Cities
Darran Anderson, Imaginary Cities

I had more romantic or esoteric titles in mind but it had to be something simple to give, what is a fairly sprawling and extremely rambling text, a sense of coherence. I’ve always liked books with minimalist titles; The Castle, The Plague, Notes from Underground, The Tin Drum, The Lottery. They seem far more evocative to me than The Lighthouse-Keeper’s Daughter-type titles you see a lot. At the same time, my intention was to write something that isn’t self-contained; a book that somehow spills out of its pages and into the world. Reading Susan Sontag’s On Photography, I was initially frustrated that she hadn’t included the photographs she was writing about. Later I came to realise this was a godsend as it sends you out searching and you end up finding entire worlds you didn’t know about – Diane Arbus, Roman Vishniac, Weegee, Vivian Maier. I tried to do the same with Imaginary Cities. I wanted to send people out looking for Sant’Elia or Chernikhov or whoever. It would be as much a map as a book.   (more…)

An article for NYC’s Lincoln Center exploring the writer’s presence on social media
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@SamuelBBeckett: An online resource for quotes, photographs, news, and events

Samuel Beckett is on Twitter, and perhaps we should not be surprised. As a playwright, he was what we would now call an “early adopter” of modern technology. His 1958 play Krapp’s Last Tape made revolutionary use of the reel-to-reel tape recorder the same year RCA manufactured full-size cassettes for home use. His works for radio and television—including All That Fall, which is being presented as part of the 2016 White Light Festival—stretched each medium to their technical limits, producing sights and sounds that had never before been broadcast. And it’s not just his engagement with technology that makes Beckett a natural candidate for Twitter: his compact observations and incisive remarks are perfectly trimmed for our social media age.

Beckett always had a talent for pithy observations about birth, death, and all the pesky stuff that happens in between. In 1984, when The Times (London) asked him about his New Year’s resolutions, he replied: “resolutions colon zero stop period hopes colon zero stop beckett.” His short, sharp telegram cuts to the quick, but also makes us smile at our own obsession with self-improvement. This is the kind of wit and economy that became his signature in plays like Waiting for Godot, Endgame, and Happy Days. (more…)

Innovative arts journal promotes the work of Welsh-born writer, critic, and librettist
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Music & Literature (No.7): Paul Griffiths, Ann Quin, Lera Auerbach

Today’s artistic landscape can often feel like a busy marketplace, where voices compete for attention and creative validation. And, as a result, some voices do not get heard. Since its launch in 2012, Music & Literature has been a torchbearer for writers and artists that are often neglected by the mainstream: its first issue was notable for its discussion of avant-garde composer Arvo Pärt, offering an unprecedented glimpse into his life, work, and motivations. Scott Esposito points out that the journal offers ‘the kind of thing that’s unavailable anywhere else’, and he’s right. Music & Literature is a fascinating read for enthusiasts, and a valuable cultural resource for scholars.

Now publishing its seventh volume, Music & Literature is celebrating the work of Welsh-born writer, critic, and accomplished librettist Paul Griffiths. His first novel, Myself and Marco Polo: A Novel of Changes (1989), is a work of speculative fiction that reimagines the life of the world traveller through his memoirs. More recently, Griffiths translated eleven Japanese noh plays, published as The Tilted Cup: Noh Stories (2014) in a beautifully illustrated volume. Paul Griffiths has written five librettos, and is an insightful commentator on modern classic music; he is the author of a number of critical works on topics ranging from electronic music to the history of the string quartet, and was a music critic for both The New Yorker (1992-96) and The New York Times (1997-2005). As if that wasn’t enough, Griffiths is also the biographer of a number of modern composers, from György Ligeti and Bela Bartók to John Cage and Igor Stravinsky. (more…)

A celebration of veteran cinematographer Frederick Elmes
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John Turturro and Riz Ahmed star in HBO’s The Night Of
For the last eight weeks, Sundays have been the night of The Night Of, a dark HBO crime story set in New York. The show blended police procedural, courtroom drama, and character study to produce mystery, suspense, and black humour. Based on a five-part UK drama produced by the BBC in 2008-9, the mini-series centres on a man accused of murder after a night of drugs and heavy drinking. Riz Ahmed is excellent as the young Muslim defendant, inspiring sympathy and suspicion in equal measure. And John Turturro steals the show as an opportunistic lawyer who leads the defence (a role originally intended for late Sopranos star James Gandolfini).

(more…)