Sunday, November 17, 2013

Anish Kapoor.

His name may ring a bell or not, but he's certainly one of the most influent artists of the era! 

Anish Kapoor was born in 1954, in Mumbai, India. His family is originally from Irak, but they moved to India during Anish's early years, being part of the jewish community of Mumbai. Like many artists these days, Anish started studying something he didn't really like, in this case Electrical Engineering. He had trouble with all the mathematics involved and ended quitting after 6 months. He then moved to Israel and decided that he wanted to become an artist. In 1973, he left Israel for England, where he studied Fine Arts in the Hornsey College of Art and in the Chelsea School of Art and Design. After his studied he moved to London and has been living and working in the city from the 1970's. 

He has won many prizes such as the Turner award and he even received the knighthood in 2013 for his services to visual arts. 

What I wanted to show you is his works: many may find them too over the top, or lacking meaning, but I find them outstanding from an aesthetic point of view and very deep in meaning. 

His early works are pretty simple: geomtric forms, with very bright colours. 

1000 Names (1979-1980)

 "While making the pigment pieces, it occurred to me that they all form themselves out of each other. So I decided to give them a generic title, A Thousand Names, implying infinity, a thousand being a symbolic number. The powder works sat on the floor or projected from the wall. The powder on the floor defines the surface of the floor and the objects appear to be partially submerged, like icebergs. That seems to fit inside the idea of something being partially there."

To Reflect an Intimate Part of the Red (1981)

He then started explorimg surfaces that evoked the "void". He states that these sculptures are a way of creating something that in fact represents nothing. It is up to viewer to fill the empty space before him, and well, get lost into the void!
Void (1989)

Here's project called "No place" that fits with the idea of void
He uses a special painting technique that allows him to create that feeling of an "infinite void".

After his obsession with void, Anish Kapoor started working on stainless steel. One of his most well-known pieces fits this period: 

It is placed in the Millenium Park in Chicago. 

Sky mirror (2001)
                                                        He has declared to want to turn the world upside down! 

He has also used red wax to create his sculptures, most of the time using it to evoke flesh and blood... 
Imagine blue (2003) 
My Red Homeland (2003)
Rooms (2005) 

As you can see, he is a very very prolific artist, working with many types of techniques that allow him to maginify his creating span. This is what makes him one of my favourite artists! He works on a theme, but he also evolves towards new meanings and techniques.
You might know this particular piece, which was presented in the Grand Palais of Paris, in 2011: 

Leviathan (2011)
And here's what he's currently working on! 
Ascension (2010) 


He posts regularly an album called "studio" in his website where he shows pictures of his studio, to give us a hint of what he's doing! Here's the link:


I hope you like Anish's work and you feel as curious as I do to know what he's gonna do next! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

POST 8 : The Wire (2002 -2008)

Here's a trailer for The Wire series:

The show deals with many of Baltimore's city (Washington, USA) problems. It is related to the notion of power in many ways. First of all, and from my point of view, the power of gangs.

Baltimore city is a pretty chaotic place to live in. It has a wide number of african american population, but most of it lives in the most dangerous and troubled neighbourhoods of Baltimore. Indeed, the gangs are in their territory, and they use these neighbourhoods as "marketplaces" for their drug dealing and other illegal activities. The series shows how powerful can gangs be, even if they are in one if the most developed countries in the world: The USA. All through the episodes we can see how the police are powerless before the gangs' actions. Indeed, there is no easy way of stopping them. They enjoy of a great influence in the political spheres, allowing them to get away from many things. Also, a lot of their gangsters start dealing drugs and running errands for them at a very young age, which makes it very hard to catch them for two main reasons: one of them being the fact that since they are mere children they can easily hide in crowds and the other being that children cannot be prosecuted for their crimes until they're16/17 years old (depending on the crime).

The show also reveals the power of drugs, in a very disturbing way. During the show, we see different caracters fall into misery because of them. Indeed, it conveys a sad reality: teenagers living in that kind of neighbourhoods need to face the only reality they live: the drug world. Some of them decide to become drug dealers, employed by rich and powerful gansgters, and accepting that they will die sooner rather than later. On the other hand, some of them, with no parents to take care of their child, fall gradually into drugs, misery and addiction. One of the main characters of the show, a young boy no older than any high schooler, bright, merciful and brilliant, ends up being addicted to drugs, sharing needles with homeless people and living under bridges or such. Unfortunately, drugs do have the power to destroy a person, even a teenager, and lead them into a dark world, from which it is almost impossible to escape.

I personally believe that the most implicit form of power is the power of money. Indeed, one of the policeman shown in the trailer states it: "Follow the money, and you will have everything". The series shows that money drives everything: drug dealers murder and create life dramas for the money, politicians look the other way or make personal favours for the money, and ultimately, it's money what stops the police corps of being more efficient. At one point of the show, the police corps experience budget cutbacks, and since they cannot repair the cars, or pay for the extra hours they would need to investigate on the drug dealers, they are powerless before the cruel war going on between gangs in their own city.

On the whole, the shows deals with many forms of power, mainly the power of gangs, drugs and finally money. It conveys the sad reality we live in, and that unfortunately, much like drugs, seems to not have a way out.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


The movie Redacted by the prestigeous film director Brian de Palma deals with many burning issues. It vividly shows the Iraqi war, and the conduct some of the US soldiers had during that time. It tackles the subject of the denigrating acts the US soldiers comitted against the Iraqi people, even to women and children. Indeed, the movie shows situations of shocking violence, and the desperation of the innocent people in Iraq. In addition to this, the film demonstrates how hard it is for the soldiers who lived such suffering and atrocities to come back to their homes in the USA. 
Another thing that makes the movie particularly efficient in its task of shocking the general public and raise awareness about the subject is the fact that the movie seems uncanningly real: all the scenes seem to be shot by an "amateur" and the atmosphere of the Iraqi cities is extremely realistic and faithful to reality. 
 Moreover, the film is clearly critical and denounces the multiple abuses the US army comitted during the war. 

This movie can be related to the notion of Power because of multiple issues it raises: 
On the one hand, the movie obviously questions the North American power in today's world. It is not the shining beacon of freedom that it pretends to be, and it definitely does not bring peace to the countries in which it "intervenes". But it also shows what the US is capable of...Indeed, they were able to start a war, and to finance it, and for now, getting away with the abuses comitted by their soldiers during that period. 
On the other hand, the film is a clear way of Brian de Palma to try to raise awareness about the subject, to draw attention to the fact that many have gone unpunished, and that world should not be allowing such a thing. Actually, this movie could be related to the power of knowledge and culture. Can a movie change the world? The power of the cultural industry against the political power of the states of the world. 

Here's a review by Mick LaSalle, published in the San Francisco Gate newspaper: 

Fictional documentary. Starring Izzy DiazDaniel Stewart Sherman,Patrick CarrollMike Figueroa and Ty Jones. Directed by Brian De Palma(R. 90 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)
The standard line on anti-war movies is that Hollywood starts making them six or seven years after a war, never during one. "Redacted," the latest from director Brian De Palma, not only goes against that pattern but also is a new type of anti-war film, one that could have been made only during wartime. It isn't elegiac, but enraged. It doesn't look back with sorrow, but forward in dread. And it's made with a clear intention - to stop the Iraq war.
Its historical significance can be summed up in a sentence: "Redacted" is the angriest, most vehemently pacifist film ever made by a major American filmmaker in a time of war. It's a movie devoid of any reflexive sentimentality about the troops or the mission, and it doesn't even bother pretending. If a foreign filmmaker made it, it would seem an unpleasant provocation. But coming from the man who made "Carrie," "Scarface," "The Untouchables" and "Carlito's Way," it has to go down as one of the bravest and most unambiguous cinematic statements of the decade.
De Palma was able to make the movie because he could make it on the cheap, on digital video. And then he turned around and made a virtue of necessity, using various kinds of video and video techniques to tell his story with a maximum of immediacy and innovation. Sometimes we watch the soldiers filming themselves. Sometimes we see surveillance footage or video put out on the Web. Hidden cameras record conversations in some scenes. In others we see footage from a French documentary about Iraq.
All of it is fictional and created by De Palma, who won a completely deserved Silver Lion for best director at the Venice Film Festival this year. The characters are fictional as well. But the events depicted are based on truth, including the film's central incident, in which American soldiers rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, murder her family, shoot her in the face and then set her body on fire.
Video, with its present-tense feel, creates the sense of being there. Sweat trickles down soldiers' faces as they stand at a checkpoint, and the audience waits for disaster - a sniper, a car bomb. The movie conveys the hellish boredom and terror of the front lines and shows the toll they take, and yet it never absolves the characters of moral responsibility. Some would never lose their humanity under pressure, some do, and some use the war as a pretext to be as cruel and demented as they've always wanted to be. The troops are not a monolith, but people of varying strengths and weaknesses.
The flavor of barracks life is presented through footage shot by a character named Salazar (Izzy Diaz), who hopes to get into film school on the strength of an Iraq documentary. The soldier banter is the film's most erratic element. Sometimes it rings true, as when a soldier reacts to the killing of a pregnant woman at a checkpoint by saying, "You can't afford remorse. You get remorse, you get weak; you get weak, you die." It sounds like exactly the kind of mantra that a stupid young man might offer as wisdom. Yet the movie veers into obviousness with the character of Flake (Patrick Carroll), a dead-eyed psychopath who seems to revel calmly in having killed the pregnant woman. He's a character set up for us to hate.
Still, even at its most blatantly manipulative, "Redacted" provokes a response of rage, disgust and anger. De Palma strives to ignite passion, and while some of that passion may end up directed at the film itself, "Redacted" is an antidote to apathy. It's not the easiest movie to sit through, but who said movies are supposed to be easy to sit through? De Palma must have been absent the day they taught that in film school.
Rather than create a perfect, contained whole, De Palma has created a film that finds its meaning in the outside world, in the effect he hopes it will have. His movie is naked and obvious and sizable enough to hate or love, kind of like Charlie Chaplin's speech at the end of "The Great Dictator." Sometimes the world intrudes. Sometimes issues are so big that there's really no point in being elegant.