Chinese construction sites

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Zhou Jun's photography (on display at Mayfair gallery RossiRossi until August 29) shows the massive construction happening in China.

The black and white photographs show landmarks such as the new Olympics Bird's Nest Stadium, the Forbidden city and CCTV tower.

Swathes of red streak through the photos too - highlighting scaffolding or barriers or coverings. Red is a Chinese colour, not only suggesting communism, revolution and power, but also celebration and occasion.

The red lifts the photographs beyond a mere record of construction, giving an idea of how politically, culturally and socially important these landmarks are.

Olympic posters at the V&A museum

Monday, August 18, 2008

The V&A Museum of Childhood currently have an exhibition of A Century of Olympic Posters (until Sept 7).

For me, the posters that work best are those that use Olympic symbols, and mix them with sporting icons, and add visual elements of the host nation or city.

There was a definite trend - earlier posters were quite illustrative, realistic and detailed, with the lines becoming clearer and more minimal as time went on.

My three favourites were:

Mexico 1968 Olympic poster: Starting with Mexico 68, this adds more parallel lines to give the impression of race track lines and Mayan designs. Overall, an eye-catching and dynamic poster, and very in keeping with the symmetrical OpArt trends of the 60s.

Moscow 1980 Olympics poster: Another simple design but one which is really effective: the lines look like track lines and are a visual link to the Kremlin's architecture.

Montreal 1976 Olympic poster: again, this uses a simple design but really gives an impression of movement which is so part of the Olympics and sport.
London's 2012 logo was featured in the exhibition, and I have to say that, of recent efforts, I think it is the best (certainly beating Beijing and Athens), but doesn't seem to have any element of sport in it which is a shame.

A French poster also caught my eye . If you think the sporno trend of homoerotic sportsman is new - check out these boys from the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Kylie Minogue X2008 tour

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kylie's X2008 tour was on 4Music last night. I loved it - my favourite bits were:

  • Opening song Speakerphone was ace, despite only a little dancing. I imagine this song is about listening to music on a bus, so she could have had a Routemaster on stage too.
  • Kylie saying to the audience, "you're all looking so wow!"
  • Kylie perched atop a sparkling metal skull, for Like A Drug, looking ferocious.
  • Playing the ace Fischerspooner remix of Come into my World
  • The symphonic reinvention of I Believe in You (but what were those shoes about?)
  • Kylie's diva-like face pout to the synthy beats in Your Disco Needs You
  • Frogmarch dancing during Your Disco Needs You
  • Step Back In Time was totally retro - 40s/50s girlgroup singing to begin, 70s disco dancing, 80s fluoro-styling. Brilliant. (See below)
  • In My Arms was the definite shot of technicolour disco the show needed.
  • Kylie sans dancers for the final 4 songs proved that she is very much the attraction. She radiated!

One thing did niggle me, however. Why were the male dancers' heads covered for practically every song? They wore robot heads, football helmets, gas masks, Japanese helmets, Keith Haring-style head stockings and 80s retro BMX helmets.

But that's just a small thing - overall, it was a top show. Here's the retrotastic Step Back In Time

Carry On Peckham

Friday, August 15, 2008

Carry on Peckham
I was in Peckham the other day. These two streets across the road from each other made me giggle. Barbara Windsor would have a field day.

(And somehow I've made Peckham look like Miami - which is no mean feat!)

You Can't Mistake My Neology III

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two and a half years after my last new word, here is another:


An abbreviated version of abbreviated.

As In Rebecca Maria - live review

Last night, I went to see As In Rebekka Maria. Her real name is Rebekka Maria, so I'm not sure what the 'As In' is about. Maybe it's because she's Scandinavian. As in from Sweden or Denmark (I'm not quite sure where).

As In Rebekka Maria

She's following trailblazers Robyn, Lykke Li and others with her very own crazy dark electropop. She's at her best when she sticks to the Scandinavian music plan: catchy vocal melodies over repetitive squilchy, squelchy, twisty, wooshy, fizzy, whizzy, beepy, tweety electropop beats.

She slinked fabulously on stage with a purple scarf draped over her head which was subsequently draped over her shoulders and arms. Halfway through, it was discarded and never bothered with again.

Two songs stood out for me:

  • Yours Truly has a skittering synthy beat which rattles along nicely overlaid with a montage of laidback, melodic vocals
  • Army of Foxy with an ace beat which gets darker as the song goes on, and a catchy playground taunt: "We're the army of foxy little ladies... we're the oh oh ohs, we're the ho ho hos, we're the no no nos, we're the joe joe joes"
Check her out: Rebekka Maria on Myspace // Rebekka Maria homepage

As In Rebekka Maria

Olympics: Togo's first ever medal

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm thoroughly enjoying the Olympics so far. While the Chinese, Australians, Koreans and Americans are winning medals all around them, I love to hear about the achievements of smaller countries.

The two countries I follow - Ireland and Austria - have had some success. Austria has a silver (in judo) and a bronze (in swimming) - not bad for a landlocked country! Ireland came very close today with canoeist Eoin Rheinisch coming 4th in the men's kayaking. So close - but I'm cheered to hear he was beaten to the bronze by Benjamin Boukpeti who has won Togo its first ever Olympic medal. Full story here

So let's be upstanding for the Togolese national anthem - as national anthems are always entertaining.

Queen of the Gypsies in London

Monday, August 11, 2008

I found out today that the Queen of the Gypsies, Esma Redzepova, will be playing a concert in London on September 8.

· details here

Sadly, I can't be there as I'm on holidays, but I thoroughly recommend. Esma is an amazing performer, her voice soars but has wonderful nuances expressing joy and pain, laughter and love.

She may be best known in the UK for her song from the Borat soundtrack, Chaje Shukarije (...although wikipedia says that the track was used without her permission). Esma's singing career has spanned 4 decades - here's the song in two versions, one much older and one more recent.

I prefer the more modern version - look at her go, a spinning vision in mint green!

· Esma Redzepova website