by Asia Patel
by Asia Patel
by Jess Howard
Often, we start out with an initial opinion of a topic, event or article, and end up completely changing sides once we have engaged in an in-depth exploration, and this is exactly what has happened with an article I recently read.
In early May 2016, a particularly scathing opinion piece was written by Guardian journalist Jonathan Jones regarding the presence of magazine covers in gallery spaces. The article, titled ‘Kate’s Vogue shots shouldn’t be in a gallery. They’re not art.’ discusses Jones’ opinions on whether or not photographs of Kate Middleton have the right to be hanged in The National Portrait Gallery. Regardless of how we feel about the photographs, or indeed the monarchy, it does raise an important question. Namely, what constitutes high or low art, and what is deserving of exhibition space.
In the years following the Second World War, Britain had shifted in ways many thought impossible. In the 1950s, amidst the fading colonial legacy of a crumbling empire, with increasing levels of immigration and the decreased faith in the power of the free market led, the country’s middle class felt stranded. These revolutionary changes in the country’s fabric radically challenged the ideas they had been raised to adhere to in the name of success. Middle England was holding out for a hero – and boy did Ian Fleming’s gin-swilling womaniser give them one.
James Bond is a cultural artefact – an ideological snap-shot, emerging initially as the embodiment of the established order, in order to defend it. Such was the archetypal appeal of the character, and so in tune was he to the fears of the middle class, that he soon moved seamlessly between mediums. In a world where Britain’s influence seemed to be waning, and where marginalised races and genders were pushing for equality, Bond showed Middle England could still have it all – no wonder he’s cited as being David Cameron’s inspiration for foreign policy, 007 is a conservative’s wet-dream.
by Jess Howard
Last week a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin sold at auction for £197 million.
Nafea Faa Ipoipo, which translates to ‘When will you marry me?’, features two Tahitian women sat on a stretch of grass in front of a tree. We see the islands formidable mountains and an expanse of green fields behind them. The sale set a record for the most amount of money paid at auction for a piece of art. The work knocked Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players off of the top spot, which sold for £158 million back in 2011.
The television debates are actually a trilogy of the most tedious, trivial events in the course of the UK general election. And I don’t say that lightly. They are a nuisance water-cooler moment at best, where bearded wastrels can gather on Twitter to discuss what a large forehead David Cameron has, or whether Nick Clegg’s shirt is saffron, or more of a dog-vomit yellow. And yet, nobody believes me — and as we begin the ominous countdown to polling day in May, they have become one of the biggest talking points in British political culture. But surely the events of the past few months regarding the Greens prove my point?
by Mike Vinti
Debate has been raging in the US over issues of cultural appropriation in hip-hop and popular music, particularly with regard to the roles of white artists in a traditionally black genre. This debate is a vital one and has highlighted many of the inequalities present between black and white musicians, actors, and other cultural figures. British culture faces its own issues around appropriation and representation, not just of race but of class. The relationship between class and culture in the UK has always been a complex one. From tales of working class hardship by the likes of Charles Dickens and Alan Bennett, to the idolisation of that landed gentry life by the likes of Mumford and Sons and the plague of imitation artists that followed their break into the mainstream, class undercuts British culture as much as it does day to day life.
In the past decade or so however, the evolutions in music and culture driven by the working class have been side-lined in favour of sanitised replicas, stripped of any comment or reflection on the socioeconomic factors that bore them.
I stepped into the New Year by seeing a production at Soho Theatre by a theatre company, Belgian Ontroerend Goed (translated as Real Estate, according to Wikipedia), entitled ‘Sirens’. I knew it was to be experimental and that it would touch on Feminist issues.
It began in darkness. Six women came on stage, making noises that evoked the sound of the sea, alluding to the Greek myth where creatures portrayed as femme fatales would seduce sailors with their voice, leading them to crash against rocks and drown.
In the fallout of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, there are so many avenues of investigation that require a spectrum of analysis – and in due course the tragedy will no doubt be discussed from every angle, and in excruciating detail. Over the past week, there has been comparatively little debate on the idea supposedly central to the Parisian publication itself though – satire. In an age of seemingly perpetual outrage, offensive material is routinely accepted because it dresses in the clothes of ‘satire’. But in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, somebody needs to ask the question “what exactly is satire, and who should it serve?”