Saturday, October 20, 2012

QUOTATION MARKS 35 ~ Bill Cunningham

' Money is the cheapest thing
Liberty, freedom is the most expensive.'


FEATURE 110 ~ Gangnam & Eton Style

The original and the parody ~ side by side.

FEATURE 109 ~ Bill Cunnigham

This is an unassuming documentary film, very like its subject ~ the life and work of Bill Cunnigham. For decades he's cycled ( Yes, cycled!) along streets of New York, attended New York Society charity functions and Paris fashion shows etc looking for what's happening in the world of fashion, for its trends, for individuals with a certain flair and style. Supremely egalitarian, Cunnigham is just looking for great ideas, for great clothes and accessories, he's not that bothered about 'who' is wearing it. Though some of his regular 'subjects' do have egos the size of Brooklyn wanting to be regularly flattered and pandered to. He himself, though appreciative, doesn't remotely pander to the 'street celebrities' he sometimes creates.. For him its great design and the panache of how its worn and carried off. This is his passion, which he's documented in photography for most of his life, after an earlier career as a milliner.

You are presented with a really strong impression of the man and his character. Perhaps infuriating to have to work with, but clearly he knows what he's looking for. Producing two columns every week for the New York times on trends and events he's seen. It is his whole life, and his flat is stuffed with filing cabinets where every single photograph he's taken is cataloged,  whilst he is happy to sleep on a mattress on the floor between them. An eccentric maybe, but no greater enthusiast for the colours and textures of life, which he thinks the ever changing world of fashion embodies, could you find. Living in a complex of studio flats occupied by similarly aging but enthusiastic people, all still alive and creatively kicking.

 He's asked in the film about his sex life , whether in fact he's ever had sex. No, is the answer. Is he gay? Well, all he said was that the fears for him, and what this implied, when he entered the world of fashion that came from his parents, had proved to be true. All of which I took to mean, Yes. But sexual orientation didn't seem to be remotely what he wanted his life to be built around. This film was made three years ago, and he's still working now at the age of eighty three! For myself, as someone whose creative interests have often ranged far too widely, and whose enthusiasms and passions soon wax and wane. It was good to see what this remarkably humble and single minded man has achieved by maintaining this sole creative focus.

Friday, October 19, 2012

FEATURE 108 ~ Marina Abramovich ~ The Artist is Present

I've never seen any of this woman's work live, but this film The Artist is Present does its best to communicate in film what cannot be captured on celluloid. In the main piece, called The Artist is Present there is just Abramovich sat on one chair and members of the public come to sit in front of her, initially with a table between them, but later even the symbolic 'safety barrier' of the table is removed. One can see she had a huge effect emotionally, psychologically (maybe even spiritually) on those who sat in front of her. There is a certain quality to the way she gazes at each new visitor opposite her. It's a warm, compassionate and curious gaze. The piece is all about what happens when you truly meet that gaze.

Sitting and simply taking in a person is not necessarily that new or radical an idea. In the Triratna Buddhist Community we've been doing communication exercises that include a period of just sitting looking at the person in front of you. True they are preceded by some meaningless phrases being exchanged, which judging by this performance piece could be a largely superfluous prelude. If you sit and stare long enough, then things will happen. I think even Sangharakshita got the exercises from a psycho-therapeutic source. In a sense what takes place in this performance takes this one huge stage further, rather than a few minutes looking, Abramovich does it for seven hours a day, six days a week, for three months.

Some folk miss the point that it's all about that simple meeting of one human being with another, as openly and honestly as possible. They try upstaging her by erecting their own contrived artifice in front of her, one woman thinks being naked in front of her would somehow be even more truthful and exposing. It seemed ironic when you think of the extreme things that Abramovich has done in her artistic career, that both these were hurriedly removed. But then this piece was about exposure of a different order, stripped of artistic expectations and individualistic self expression. On the one hand there was something shamanic and magical about it, on the other something deeply sad and affecting that human beings in urban environments can no longer experience such depth of communication. Suddenly peoples daily artifice drops away and there is the real person underneath vulnerable and defenseless.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

DIARY 158 ~ Holiday in Bruge

We had five days holiday in Bruge, but it felt like we were there for a whole lot longer. After the intense activity running up to 'the do' we both really felt fully present and relaxed.  It was quite the most enjoyable and satisfying holiday we've been on together. Good food, coffee, beer, chocolate, waffles, lace, tapestry, art, architecture and weather, what more could one ask for? We just fell in love with the place and its continental culture.

 In and around the streets and canals of Bruge

The Markt & Belfry

The Burg

Basilica of The Holy Blood

Contains a bit of cloth with Christ's blood on it
Casket the relic is processed in

The Stadhuis

The Jerusalem Chapel

Another relic ~ a splinter of 'the cross'

Spooky puppet Virgin & Child

Baroque pulpit in Church of Our Lady

DIARY 157 ~ Formal Photo Album

With thanks to Vidyasiddhi for these lovely posed photos

Both our families

DIARY 156 ~ Ceremony & Party Photo Album

The day after the legal ceremony we had our own ceremony at Abbey House. Just under forty friends and family came to witness us dedicate our partnership and tuck into savouries and cake afterwards. Though the Registry Office ceremony was simple and relatively brief, it was quite moving. The partnership dedication ceremony was more specifically focused on our life together as practicing Buddhists, and was of an altogether different calibre. It felt quite an integrating event, bringing family and Buddhist friends together for the first time. Jnanasalin and I worked really hard during the week before organising, buying and making things. We wont be doing this again for a long while. It was pretty full on right up to three quarters of an hour before the starting time.