Friday, 21 September 2012

theatre : legends of magic prague

photo by Lukáš Žentel and Hana Smejkalová
Since I'm in Prague again, in my head at least, a heads up for pre-Halloween performances from Oct 10-13 of the Legends Of Magic Prague, Laterna Magica's multimedia telling of stories about the Faust house, Emperor Rudolf II and Rabbi Lowe (and his Golem), the building of the Old Town's Astronomical Clock, and Chanina, who refuses all suitors and instead follows the lord of the river into the water to re-emerge as a green cat. No words; instead projections, movement, sound, costumes and backdrops, and suitable for all ages.

echoes : jindrich styrsky & jindrich heisler - on the needles of these days

"Your look dies in horror of the nights of madness which bring only dreams like the flowers on frozen windows, or dreamless plains like the sheet-metal of lowered blinds."

Image by Jindrich Styrsky, words by Jindrich Heisler, from On The Needles Of These Days, produced by the Czech surrealists in 1941. More about Styrsky and further links at Weimar, and a feature on the recent exhibition of Heisler's mystical art in Chicago at Tablet.

1968 ka-bala boardgame

You've turned out the lights, the room is bathed in an eerie green glow, you place your trembling hands on the sinister board, and your first question is ... "Will I ever pitch a winning game?" That's your first question? Seriously, that is not your first question. After actually looking at the mystical eye of Zohar in all its plastic glory, your first question is, "aw, but how can something so cute be all occulty and evil?" And that, friends, is how you build a cult.

magical nature : kathleen lolley

Wild Flowers by Kathleen Lolley
Art and commentary from the wonder-conjuring site of American artist Kathleen Lolley:

"When I painted this body of work I was experiencing nostalgia for my mother's garden. When I was a child I envisioned the secret life of every creature around me, real and imaginary. I suspected they were up to something special when humans weren't around.

Everything seemed magical and mysterious. Even inanimate objects had life. I watched the bees buzz and the birds sing. I even made friends with a dead animal. I had no idea what death was, I just thought that the creature had taken off its coat. I was not afraid of its bones. I whispered all my secrets into its skull. It kept the secrets safe and sent them into the earth. Which everyone knows, secrets help the garden grow."

Monday, 10 September 2012

1950s French medicine ads

Beautifully illustrated and vaguely creepy, the adverts below seem like a particularly French take on attracting the consumer. But the contrast between the designs, which draw on surrealist and abstract art, and even children's book illustrations, and the products they advertise - barbiturates for anxiety, analgesic creams for rheumatics and eczema, antibiotics for infections - is all the more so since these seem to have been trade adverts, aimed at the doctor rather than the patient. Worthy of framing for the waiting room, or turning into billboard posters for imaginary psychological horror films.

Friday, 7 September 2012

randomness : always be on the lookout for what has never been

A few bits and bobs of art. In the Irish Times the weekend before last, an essay captured the Haunted Houses Of A Dead Boom (google that phrase to see the article, otherwise it comes up with a subscription-only type page), as seen in the photography of Anthony Haughey and David Creedon, and an animated film by Aideen Barry. This Irish art of the ghost-estate house has resonances, not only of the mass emigration of the past, but of the modern ghosts created by the boom and slump – unfinished housing estates, abandoned shops and houses in rural Ireland, and the homes bought at the economic highpoint that with financial collapse now possess the owners like demons.

On Wednesday this week Echo Park in Los Angeles hosted the latest Spectral Psychography outing of Christian Cummings and Michael Decker, two artists who've spent the last eight years creating drawings, poems and sculptures with a Ouija board, blindfolds and the help of spirits from the other side. Among their creative guides: Walt Disney and Gertrude Stein, which is handy, in a phantom-like way.

Shahzia Sikander: Fleshy Weapons
Lastly, Women's Mythopoetic Art, part six of an academic art writing series by G Roger Denson for the Huffington Post about female artists making new myths out of the male-dominated old ones, diving into the unconscious to "cross the homosocial divide". If that sounds like the old male surrealists are going to get a pounding once again, then yes indeed they do. Ouch. Wrong. Imagination has no gender. Try not to shout at the computer too loud. The ghost inside the machine'll get scared. Skip past that to what there is about myth and the works of Louise Bourgeois, Claudia Hart, Shahzia Sikander, Marina Abramovic and Mariko Mori, and the many pictures of works by those artists among ideas about how this feminist mythopoetics is challenging the past across different cultures – whether Pakistan miniature paintings and colonialism, Japanese Shinto and Buddhist religions, European fairytales or the Olympian gods and Batman – and recasting myths in order to go forward into the future.

randomness : september - some things old, some things new

The autumn winds blew in a couple of days ahead of the calendar, and then, right on cue on September 1st, like some Edwardian timekeeper had held up a large clock to nature, suddenly there were brown leaves on the ground and green ones turning yellow in the trees. Do I really need to mention the 1612 Underture, the Pendle Witches tribute by actress Maxine Peake and the Eccentronic Research Council, or likewise the "psycho surreal thriller" (with hunks of Dario Argento and David Lynch thrown in) Berberian Sound Studio? Well, there you go, I have anyway. Chris Hatherill explores the missing link in the Ridgeway walk between Avebury and Stonehenge in a piece about the Great Stones Way. I know animated GIFs are a pet hate just now, but then there's the Living Movie Stills tumblr, which I'd forgotten about. Maybe I wish I had. It's still creepy. Reading Things Magazine on listening to The Ear Of Dionysus makes me want to save that for the imagination too (because it's evocative, not because it's creepy).

aztec camera, tarot cards and voodoo

Oblivious, from the early 80s, introduced by the lovely Ivor Cutler. I can't believe I've never seen this before. What's it all mean indeed, Roddy?