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Requiem for Detroit? Film review + musings on urban agriculture as art

14 Apr

From 'Detroit in Ruins' by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre

The important thing about this film is the question mark at the end of its title. At first, watching Requiem for Detroit? (2010) was like taking a walk through a post apocalytpic novel. With a soundtrack that crams in all the musical references you’d expect from a film about this particular city, directed by music video and documentary man Julien Temple. That’s how I felt anyway when I watched it with barely woken eyes at 10am at the Rich Mix for 6 Billion Ways. But then I gave it more thought, and I realised (or maybe read into it), that it’s actually quite a positive film about creativity. Although it starts off with insightful post capitalist wasteland-esque gloom, it leaves its audience with a strong sense of the utterly inspirational burgeoning creativity (artistic, musical and urban-agricultural) of Detroit’s pioneering citizens, old and new.

From 'Detroit in Ruins' by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre

The film opens with vintage news reels about early 20th Century Detroit as the ‘city of champions’ Continue reading

Voices that Shake: young people in arts, media, race and power

28 Feb

Check out this short video for the excellent Voices that Shake project, which brings together young people, artists and campaigning.  It is a collaboration between Platform London, an organisation that merges art and campaigning on social and environmental issues, and the Stephen Lawrence Centre.  My friend, excellent poet, fellow writer, and co-creator of this blog, Selina Nwulu, was involved in the spoken word and poetry side of the project, which also included music and filmmaking.  They had a preview performance at the Arcola Theatre last Saturday, which was pretty sick.  Check out the video, made by production company/social enterprise Chocolate Films, and hear Selina’s skin-tinglingly good poetry here:

Voices that Shake,

Lyrix Organix, Rich Mix 26th February

16 Feb

Lyrix Organix
Lyrix Organix, who I reviewed late last year, and whose presence at Glastonbury this year looks set to be pretty amazing, have a show coming up at Rich Mix, East London on the 26th Feb. The event will be as live hip hop, spoken word, and lyrically and acoustically infused as you’d expect, though it’ll be probably be even better than that. Plus it’s all in aid of MSF. I met Dan, who organises these events (though I haven’t met anyone else involved, so sorry if I’m missing you out!),and all I’m saying is that you can pretty much tell straight away that he does all this for the genuine next level love of showcasing artists with talent and passion. He’s one of those people who works in a full time day job and does all the Lyrix stuff he does on the side, and makes it so good. I’m really not sure how he does it, it’s pretty amazing. Last time I went the show really had a unique inimitable vibe, and from reading other reviews and comments it seems previous shows seem to have had the same effect on people. Or maybe this is the kind of thing that just couldn’t be more up my street which is why once again I’m struggling not go overboard with the superlatives. Here’s some of the line up for the night:

G.R.E.E.D.S , who’ll be backed by the Remedies, Ed Sheeran’s band:

Dean Atta , award-winning poet and writer

and brilliant UK Spoken Word artist HKB Finn

Buy tickets here:
And visit the facebook page here:!/event.php?eid=134777389919547

Film screening: Videocracy at the Frontline Club

11 Feb

The Frontline Club is screening Videocracy, a documentary by Erik Gandini about Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s TV Empire tonight. If I could I’d go. I studied Italian, and had a chance to watch some of the most shockingly dire neurotoxic crudely sexified Berlusconi-owned TV I hope never to see again.

You can watch the trailer here, though in my dim-witted state of morningness I find it a bit confusing:

And here’s a review.

Creative quote of the day

19 Jan

I don’t know too much about the dude who said it, but this quote makes a lot of sense.  And leads on quite well from my previous post, an RSA Animate video about changing education paradigms.

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms: embracing creativity and collaboration in education

18 Jan

This is a great animated video about changing our perception of education, creativity, the Arts and the rise of ADHD. It’s adapted from a talk by Sir Ken Robinson at the RSA, an ‘education and creativity expert’. For more information on his work click here. Brilliant and a must see for all you genius creatives who didn’t like school.

The Big Fish Fight – Review + ways to get involved

18 Jan

So who’s been watching Channel 4’s The Big Fish Fight documentaries on overfishing? The series, with it’s adjacent campaign, has been utterly brilliant.

Click the image below to read about and get involved in the the campaign, or carry on reading for a brief explanation of the documentaries.

Watch Hugh's Fish Fight hereHugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight documentary focused the practise of discarding in the EU (see video above, a must see). Fishermen are forced to throw up to half the fish they catch back into the sea, whether this is endangered cod or other species. Total waste. It also focused on the fact that we buy almost exclusively three types of fish, two of which are on the verge of extinction (blue fin tuna and cod). The aim of the film was to get us to eat less endangered types of fish, and to sign the petition to lobby the EU to stop the practise of discarding.

Hugh’s been criticised for raising a lot of awareness and public anger (rightly so) but not offering enough in terms of solutions, but at the moment I’d say making so many viewers aware of the issue who may not otherwise be aware of it is already a huge achievement.

The Big Fish Fight on

Watch Shark Bait hereShark Bait, presented by Gordon Ramsay, focused on the trade in shark fins for shark fin soup in China. We were exposed to the reality of how sharks are caught for their fins, with their fins often hacked off while the shark is still alive, only for the still moving body to be dumped back into sea since the rest of its meat is worthless in monetary terms. Many of these sharks are on the verge of extinction, and are caught before they’ve reproduced. Truly shocking, sad and enraging, and refreshing to have it presented by a celebrity chef rather than watching a Greenpeace video on it. If I was to be really fussy, I’d say it was annoying they didn’t have a Chinese tranlsator for Gordon, as sometimes his blunt questioning of shopkeepers in English (and not their own language), seemed a bit brutish. But the documentary definitely served its purpose.

You can see some of Jamie Oliver’s more ethical Fish Supper suggestions here:

Jamie's Fish Supper

Interview with Situationist artist Robert Montgomery in Dazed and Confused

12 Jan

Anything visual that actually manages to stand out and touch me in the ubiqutous white noise landscape of mind numbing advertising is always a huge, welcome relief.  I’d seen this piece by artist Robert Montgomery in Old Street before but because it was totally anonymous, I’d never found out about the artist until I came across this interview in Dazed and Confused.

Robert Montgomery’s pieces follow the Situationist tradition of detournement, which is basically the hijacking of advertising space to replace it with poetry.  Through its anonymous presence in a public space, Montgomery’s art is a very personal challenge to the barriage of ads that usually fill up mental space with restelessness, insecurity, and the desire for things we wouldn’t otherwise get into debt for, or an ideal body type it would be necessary to stop eating/go under the knife for.  A simple phrase or thought can be enough to challenge a psychological landscape that is otherwise so easy to take for granted.

The interviewer John-Paul Pryor puts it succinctly when he says Montgomery’s works provides a “reflective space in which a public so used to being psychologically bludgeoned into a consumerist daze can find some respite from the relentless static of the modern world.” Sometimes it’s just relaxing to be reminded that someone relentlessly trying to sell you something wherever you look is not the way it has to be.  An artist making the effort to do this, for free, is somehow touching. Continue reading

Amelia’s Magazine: “Did PC Mark ‘Flash’ Kennedy ensure my arrest as one of the Ratcliffe 114 ?”

11 Jan

Just a quick one, about the trial of the six environmental activists accused of planning to shut down Britain’s second biggest power station, Ratcliffe-on-Soar.  As was widely reported today, the trial fell through because evidence for the prosecution came from an undercover police officer who had been working with the activists. There seemed to be an unwillingness to disclose any further details about his involvement, which would have been necessary for a fair trial.

Via a random tweet I found out Amelia Gregory, who I interned for at Amelia’s Magazine last year, was one of the 114 people who were pre-emptively arrested in the police raid on the school where the group (including Mark Kennedy) had gathered ahead of the action on 13th April 2009.  This is thought to have been one of the biggest pre-emptive arrests in UK history.

Her piece in Amelia’s Magazine is a personal account of the arrest, the events leading up to it, and her impressions of Mark Kennedy.  It’s definitely worth a read as a personal supplement to the numerous news stories and their latest developments.  It has some great illustrations too (especially the one by Victoria Archer).

Lyrix Organix MSF fundraiser feat. Michael Kiwanuka, E.Amato, Vid Warren and the Leano- Review & photos

24 Nov

All photos:  Zofia Walczak

Oh my word.  I didn’t expect to be quite so blown away by the talent of the artists and the vibe of the night at the rootsy hiphop/soul/spoken word Lyrix Organix gig in the Old Queen’s Head in Islington last night.  One artist in particular stole my heart and warrants a review all to himself… but more about him later, it wouldn’t be right to use up all my gushing superlatives straight away. Continue reading