Friday

Wake Up Edie


Modes of Writing piece for Uni, 500 words under the theme creative non-fiction.

It happened in November. A Monday evening in Santa Barbara 1971 and she’s kicking off heels after a fashion show. Holding steady a glass and taking her prescribed medication. She sleeps. In the morning her husband tries to wake her. She can’t hear him. The sound of the ambulance doesn’t move her either. Edie Sedgwick, dead.

I saw her in December. A Friday afternoon in New York 2010 and I’m kicking my heels around the MOMA. Her face is on the wall. She’s moving. Trapped in an Andy Warhol frame, her screen test plays and flashes in front of me. There are Warhol screens playing all around the room. Different faces smiling at the camera, huge soundless projections in gravestone grey. The audience crowd around Edie, everyone else is a blur.

Edie is on the wall but she’s on the floor to. There are lots of Edie’s walking around the MOMA, around New York and London to. Girls with acid blonde hair and wicked eyelashes strutting on pencil thin legs. She is the girl at the party dancing freely, the one with the loud laugh smoking too many cigarettes. But there is only one Edie, and she isn’t here now. She is lost behind a screen.

He saw her in March. A weekday afternoon in Lester Persky’s apartment and Andy is looking at Edie. He was making films, he needed a new star. They started working together straight away and Edie became the darling of the New York underground film scene, appearing in films such as Poor Little Rich Girl, Beauty No.1 and Face. What she created was bigger than herself. Edie was a performer; she became the art. The films that made her famous bore her name, the poor little rich girl, the no.1 beauty and face.

But Warhol didn’t see it like that, and refused to pay her for her work. He said it wasn’t acting. For Edie, it was acting. Her drug use was spiraling out of control, memories of her abusive father Fuzzy, the deaths of her two beloved older brothers Minty and Bobby, her trips in and out of psychiatric institutions, her troubles with eating disorders. On screen she was vulnerable, but she was strong to.

So Edie left Andy and the films behind. She was getting worse and need to be around family in California. While being treated for psychiatric problems in hospital in 1970 she met her husband to be, Michael Brett Post. They moved in together, things were looking up.

Fast forward to November 1971 and Edie is attending a fashion show. A guest at the following party approaches Edie with cruel words about the state of her marriage and her drug problems. Edie wanted to leave the party, it wasn’t fun anymore. Michael came to pick her up. At home he poured her a glass of water she took her prescribed medication and went to bed.

Edie Sedgwick died of an overdose in her sleep. She was 28. On her death a friend Bob Neiuwerth said, “Edie was fantastic. She was always fantastic.”

The Ghost Island

Testing out modes of writing for class again...

It was on a sailing trip in the New York harbour that I first saw the ghost island. The water was calm and eerie, a thick layer of mist kissed the horizon line. Inside the boat the cruise operator was pointing at various places of attraction. Up ahead lay a thin slither of land. The buildings in Manhattan looked like fists in comparison to the flat landscape of this new space. “This is Governor’s Island” the tour operator interjected “no one lives there.”

Manhattan is home to the most expensive real estate in the world, and 1000 meters from its shore is an empty island.

Back home I Google searched the Island. I learned that from 1783 to 1966 the island was a military post for the U.S army. Next it became the headquarters for the United States Coast Guard, Atlantic division, until it closed in 1996 as a cost cutting measure. The Island was in limbo until it was purchased by the State of New York for the princely sum of $1 in 2003, and the question of what to do with Governors Island has loomed ever since.

Although the initial outlay was small the island is expensive to keep, with a $12, 000 000 annual maintenance spend. It is not insignificant in size, at 172 acres the island provides roaming ground for the public for a few days each week during the summer months, but other than that is unused.

Now, after years of failed plans and fallen initiatives the island has a future plan. In 2010, going back to it’s roots in more ways then one, a Dutch landscape architecture firm West 8 stood up with a tree planting scheme. Their felt tipped pen sketch of a vertical landscape, or tree skyline, was among the ideas that won them an international competition for regenerating the space. The public was asked to input too. One New Yorker wanted to plant an ambitious 1,000 000 000 trees, some wanted music, and others no music at all. Another ideas person just wanted to “spend time with the one I love”.

Fixed suggestions now range from a hammock grove, a play lawn, a hilled area and a terrace with views of the Statue of Liberty. Plans are still growing and it is this year, the deciding year that the plans will be finalized, ready for construction in 2012.

Of course, the tour guide in the boat didn’t tell us any of that. He was too concerned with telling us about the real estate prices and the financial district and how he was a proper New Yorker. As the boat turned around I remember looking at Manhattan, the great exclamation point of the East coast, and next to it Governor’s island, just a comma in the ocean. Now I know it’s a comma with potential.

I've Been Planning My Next Pair Of Shoes

Testing out modes of writing again, this was under the header lifestyle writing.

“I’ve been planning my next pair of shoes. I’ve been thinking about it and there is no way I can continue to wear my current shoes.” My friend Claire is talking to me in breathless tones again. I’m sat opposite her sipping Rose from a short wine glass. The only thing I’m planning is my next sentence. “Doc Marten’s!” Claire proclaims, “I need a pair, it’s so obvious.” I look at her for a second. She seems serious.

Doc Martens are the Rottweiler of the shoe world. They bite. Literally the toughest shoe around, they come with a lifetime guarantee. Having been on the scene since the 1960s, the boot was popular with skinheads and became a byword for subculture. Something a contemporary audience may be familiar with from films such as ‘This is England’ (2006) by British director Shane Meadow, and the subsequent channel 4 spin off, ‘This is England 1986’. Following the life’s of a group of skinheads in 1983, most of the cast wear DM’s. They’re not pretty, they’re tough.

But my friend Claire isn’t a skinhead. All she wants is a day shoe, but a day shoe with attitude. She isn’t the only one. Making an appearance at New York Fashion Week 2010 the shoe was voted, the 'best counter-cultural footwear of the decade'. They might be on the catwalk but they aren’t there without a scream.

Perhaps DMs are the practical girls nod to fashion, the new kitten heels of the shoe world. Spokesperson for the brand Josephine Hickin said, “They have simultaneously represented both fashion and anti-fashion.” Suggesting that their appearance on the catwalk is more to do with what the shoe represents, rather than their aesthetic value. You put DM’s on to show fighting spirit. Or you used to anyway, then Doc Marten do something strange like team up with Hello Kitty to design a special range of boots. One pair is white with a red faux velvet bow. I think they were missing the point.

What you wear on your feet defines the way you live. Doc Martens are safe, all weather, multiple activity shoes. They aren’t messing around. They’re probably going to be on the shelves, and if you own a pair, in your cupboard for the next 50 years because we trust them. The heel isn’t going to break when you dash for the tube, they’re not going to leak with a sudden downpour of rain. They’re just going to be there, through and through, living it out with you, shoe on foot.

Nobody’s Daughter


Testing out modes of writing in class we had a write an 'academic' piece of writing in 500 words. Here is mine:
Marie Antoinette and a Very Modern Myth.


“Let them eat cake” is a line that represents Marie Antoinette, although she never uttered it. This misquote has defined a woman for generations, and contributed to the idea that Antoinette’s lavish spending was a major factor in the decline of the French monarchy and consequent revolution of 1789. By considering the propaganda that tainted Antoinette’s reputation, I aim to analyse whether it is still pertinent in modern representations of the last Queen of France.

In the 1780’s the French people were experiencing widespread unrest. A bad harvest and rising food prices, due to France’s financial involvement in the American War of Independence, meant that many could not afford to eat. Legend has it that on hearing this news Antoinette responded with, “let them eat cake.” Although, the word she actually used was ‘brioche’ a rich bread typically sold. Antoinette could have intended that brioche was made the same price as bread, in order to increase the amount of food available to buy. A modern reflection by The Times newspaper called this, “the most famous libel in history,” highlighting the injustice of quoting someone out of context.

Although Antoinette reigned over two centuries ago, the phrase has become a fixture in popular culture. In 2007 Sofia Coppola wrote and directed a feature film called ‘Marie Antoinette’ which was dubbed a ‘fresh’ interpretation of the famous monarch. One clip shows the character Antoinette lounging in a bath saying, “let them eat cake”, her lips painted black suggesting a poisonous tongue. Immediately afterwards a clip shows Antoinette talking with friends saying, “I would never say that”. Perhaps this is what is meant by a ‘fresh’ interpretation of events, interweaving rumour with a supposed reaction from the victim.

However, the fact that Coppola chose to use the line in the film at all highlights the blurred boundaries between fact and fiction. Coppola referred to her film as “impressionistic” and “telling it from Antoinette’s point of view”. Although, scenes of the ‘character’ Marie Antoinette reclining on a chaise longue and dipping a finger in various elaborate cakes does nothing to dispel the idea that Antoinette was over-indulgent and disdainful of the countries financial problems.

Coppola is not the only person in recent years who has represented Antoinette using style over substance. Fashion designer Thakoon’s autumn winter 2011 collection cited Marie Antoinette as an influence, as did John Galliano’s spring summer 2010 collection. Typically her name is used in fashion as short hand for excess and over embellishment. In reality Antoinette had much simpler taste, preferring to spend time in simple corset-less dresses in a chateau called Petit Trianon on the grounds of Versailles, in which incidentally she arranged for a small farm to be created.

Revolutionaries put Marie Antoinette to the guillotine in 1793, although she wasn’t buried properly until 1815. In a sense Antoinette has never been put to rest. Although interesting from an aesthetic point of view, films like Sofia Coppola’s do Antoinette a disservice by presenting her in a superficial light. Antoinette was accused of being out of touch with the French people, which I could similarly accuse Coppola of, who’s film really only serves to perpetuate the Antoinette myth.


Still Happy

"I'm getting up earlier and earlier now man. I try and beat the alarm clock. The alarm goes off at six and I try to get up at 5.59 just to do its head in."

Liam Gallagher, still mad as ever.

Saturday

Bodytalk


My friend Sarah, fellow Design Writing Critic and all round talented, nice lady, has a zine called Bodytalk. It's made up of different people writing frankly and honestly about their own experiences in relation to sexuality and health. It's so refreshing to come across something that pushes the boundaries of what we think 'normal' is, it makes everyones experience valid. If you haven't come across it you should definitely give it a read (link above). Oh, and I wrote a piece for the 'size' issue.

Exhibition Time


Over the past 3 months my class and I have had weekly conversations about an upcoming exhibition we're curating. It's called Seeing Voices: Inside BT Archive. The private view is less than a month away, so it's all systems go at the moment. As you can see from the picture above I generally find putting together exhibitions quite stressful, but hopefully we'll put on a great show! More details to come.

Politics

A spread in the Weekend magazine during election time. David Cameron's face is pinched between staples. I'm guessing whoever did this layout didn't vote Conservative. I found this whilst flicking through my photos and it seemed even more relevant to me now then it did last year.

Endless Horizons



A few people have asked me what the weather was like in the big city,
and let me tell you when it snows in New York it
SNOWS.

Violets




As mentioned on an earlier blog, I am currently involved in a letterpress workshop at LCC and have been exploring the typographic possibilities of the phrase:

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.

It's a Tennessee Williams line from the play Camino Real. I always find his language so visual and inspiring. Above you can see me playing with composition. I drew out my design roughly to scale and then wandered around the workshop filling it in with wooden and metal blocks (but backwards, due to the printing). I also got around to locking the type in, so it's now firmly positioned in a frame which you can hold up and nothing falls out. Well, nearly. It was a fun day, although reasonably stressful as I get very particular about details. For example, the photo above is of the 'in the mountains' part of the phrase. It's 'sat' on top of an upside down V, or mountain, and I was determined to have the 'n' 'h' 'n' of the words line up with the point so it would keep pushing the eye up the page. I don't think anyone will actually notice this apart from me, which is why I am writing it down, incase I forget. Even in the photo above it's not exactly aligned, but it will be in the real print!

Below are some photographs I took of other things around the workshop.
I'm definitely going to miss it when the workshops are no more.





MOMA






My favourite bits from the MOMA.
I'm afraid I can only remember two of the credits which are as follows:
Jean Dubuffet
Ellsworth Kelly
Sorry, World.


We've been talking about the MOMA in class recently, particularly in relation to Paola Antonelli, curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum. We read an interview of hers in which she stated how difficult it is for design to compete with fine art within a gallery because it is measured against the same 'standards' as fine art and yet does not share the same aesthetic values. The MOMA has cleverly tried to combat this issue by weaving in design and furniture exhibitions next to painting in order to make a transition between the two. One minute you're taking a photograph of yourself in a dressing room mirror, and the next you're strolling past an Ellsworth Kelly. I wouldn't say the transition is always seamlessly, but it's a good model to consider when thinking about how to present design objects.

Radio City








Interior designed by Donald Deskey, grand opening was in 1932.

Whilst in New York I went on a tour of the Radio City Music Hall, the famous entertainment venue which has a beautiful, fully renovated, Art Deco interior. As you can see from my photos every detail is considered, the textiles, the light fittings, the wash basins... it really is a marvel. The colour in the photographs gives the appearance of somewhere rather brash and gawdy, but on the contrary in real life it is elegant and considered, extravagant of course but that's show business!

Ladies



Photographs I took inside the Radio City Music Hall in New York. The top costume was designed by Vicent Minelli and is still worn by the famous dancing group, the Roxettes. Show costumes are always so ornate and exaggerated, I would love to wear one to a party and become someone else for a while.

Friday

Lucky

Mourning my last bowl of lucky charms. We were friends, you and I.