Posts Tagged ‘language’

If you’re chatting loudly enough for me to hear, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not a private conversation.

The Bugged initiative, a new project in celebration of eavesdropping, has got me very excited indeed. On the 1st July, writers (in the loosest sense imaginable….meaning anyone who can hold a pen….meaning YOU) are being asked collect snippets of conversation you’ve heard during the day and pen them as either poetry, prose, or script – poems of up to 60 lines, stories up to 1,000 words, flash fiction up to 150 words, scripts up to five minutes long.

The judges are National Poetry Day director and Glastonbury festival website poet-in-residence, Jo Bell, and novelist and playwright David Calcuttthe, and they’ll be selecting the best to be posted on the Bugged blog, and the very best to be published in October in a printed anthology.

Think of the yawnsome hours spent in sweaty tube carriages, noisy buses and stuffy waiting rooms – languish no longer….pick up the pen and write! Some people are naturally inquisitive/ ear-sensitive/ nosy, some people are natural writers…..in this project it is advantageous to have both venerable qualities – but if you’re not in this camp, there’s a great collaboration to be made, I’m sure of it.

Things to remember:

1. “Your life story would not make a good book. Don’t even try.” Fran Leibowitz advises you not to pen your own life…try someone else’s instead.

2. As Daphne Du Maurier once said, “Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard.” Try not to piss anyone off tooooo much. Discretion is the magic word.

3. Submissions open July 2nd, and close August 15th. Keep an eye out (and an ear) right here.


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At 6:30pm (approximately), a male nude walks through the crowd. Champagne sippers replenish their glasses once more and gather as the artist approaches the stage.

Other Criteria, on Charing Cross Road, was the scene last night for the launch of Fiona Banner’s new book, Performance Nude– and the accompanying ‘performance.’

For half an hour, the model stands in one corner of the platform as the artist applies her candid observations to the surface. But the marks on the dividing plane do not make up your ordinary sort of life drawing. The marks are letters, the figures are words, the sentences, flowing, all culminate in a narrative that is (at times) almost poetic:

“Floor slightly scuffed, feet turned out, toes red…” she begins, as instinct dictates the narrative chain.

As the story progresses, and as she bends lower, eventually kneeling with her neck curved down, it becomes a humorous take on the conventional depiction of figurative gestures:

“…bollocks rest dark in shadow, scribble of pubes, and cock, quiet at the tip, blinking a shadow onto his hairy thigh….”

That said (and novelty aside), it’s hard to watch without that niggling thought rearing its ugly head: is this really art? Without the artist’s oeuvre constantly in the forefront it’s hard to see the display’s artistic merit. Anyone to come without knowledge of Banner’s previous achievements would leave very confused indeed. Her past projects have included sculpture, drawing, performance and film, and since the early ’90s her focus has not strayed far from the tension between private, internal worlds and public spheres. Language- Banner’s “word-scapes”- has remained through this the chosen device. The written word poses problems, but also presents possibilities.

The experience of the show was, on the whole, underwhelming. Perhaps this was because I was caught in a corner at the front- a great view of the artist at work, but with the nude completely blocked by the board. Then again, perhaps this was beneficial in terms of the work’s intentions- I was witness only to the artist’s translation. Was this the real performance?

Performance Nude may not inspire, but Fiona Banner’s Duveens commission at the Tate Britain, to be unveiled on the 28th June, hopefully will. Between you and me, a little birdie has sung high praises of the future installation…

….but that’s another spectacle (and another blog) that you’ll just have to hold out for.

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