Category: The Arts & Design

A thread for Serbia

The publicity machine for Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, has cranked into gear.  The line is that this love story across the ethnic and religious divide of the Bosnian war is stirring passions among those who lived through its three pitiless years.

Murat Tahirovic, who heads an association of ex-prisoners of war, added: “This film is deeply moving for the victims who experienced all of these things.

“It is completely objective and it really tells the facts of what happened during the war. She succeeded in telling the story of the whole war in her film and to show… situations that detainees faced - mass executions, rapes, [being used as] human shields and all the other horrors.”

But Branislav Djukic, who heads the Bosnian Serb Association of Camp Prisoners, had a very different reaction after seeing a trailer. He said that the film “is showing lies” as it depicts only Serbs as rapists during the war and called for it to be barred from cinemas in the autonomous Serbian half of Bosnia. “We’ll do our best to ban the film,” he said.

A commenter on the (at present, very short) thread writes:

A Croatian friend said something that made me think when I was over in Zagreb this summer, whilst discussing the conflicts he said “There are no good guys in this region.”

There is a sense in which the appreciation of the Serb role in the conflict as “no-good guys” but also as victims marks the break-down of the Establishment narrative.  Jolie is still telling it, of course, and she will win all the usual plaudits and probably an Oscar or two.  Coincidentally, another false narrative had an airing on BBC2 this evening.  But the “evil Serb” may not prove as enduring as the “evil Nazi”, and one small light on that may be thrown by the Telegraph comment thread.  So far, it’s hearteningly balanced.  I shall watch it with interest.

Posted by Guessedworker on Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 08:23 PM in Popular CultureThe Arts & Design
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The Trade-In

a sonnet by Alexander Baron

Tear down a forest, pulp its wood to print,
And spend your paper money while you may,
Dig up the Earth, and smelt its ores to mint,
Then stash your precious Krugerrands away.
Drain marsh and swamp: rich reservoirs of life,
Build your apartments where trees used to stand,
Give the lynx to the taxidermist’s knife,
And turn meadow and glade to dust and sand.
Let profit be your aim, and your excuse
Be progress, write that on your balance sheet,
Convince yourself such treasures are no use,
And, when the desolation is complete,
Sit back contentedly to count the cost
Of worthless booty for what’s ever lost.

Posted by Guest Blogger on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 08:03 PM in The Arts & Design
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Music, freedom, revolution

Cadenza – the decorated cadence at the climax of a classical concerto movement; the dramatic penultimate pause which ruminates in freedom beyond the constraints of the classical form’s skeleton.

So begins a recent Telegraph piece by the pianist Stephen Hough on a (then) forthcoming performance by Paul Lewis of Beethoven’s fifth piano concerto, The Emporer, which closed his series of Proms performances of all five concertos.

“Rumination in freedom” has been part of our musical tradition for centuries.  I would like to think that there is a reason for this, that our beguilement by, and openness to, the freedom of the emotions which these special passages afford has its roots in our psychology, and the roots runs deep.  Where they ought to run, of course, is to a kind of permanent interest in standing against the external enforcement of rule and order.  For that is our heritage as stubbornly independent and, I think, particularly northern Europeans, and its something that we, as nationalists thinking at the collective level, have to incorporate in our ideas and not attempt to disavow.


Posted by Guessedworker on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 01:51 PM in The Arts & Design
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Maggots feeding on the body of art

By David Hamilton

An entry for the 2003 Turner Prize was a sculpture depicting bodies being picked at by maggots. Entitled “Sex”, it was by Jake and Dinos Chapman, who duly made the headlines as the most shocking nominees.

Maggots feeding off a body is a fitting out picture of contemporary artists.  They are corrupt, degraded, unimaginative and parasitic as they feed off our great artistic traditions and try to destroy them. Their aim is to destroy our values and something that gives meaning to our lives. Is a urinal, say, an artistic subject? No, it is intrinsically unartistic, even though it might have pleasing curves, and to write about it as such does not make it artistic but conceptually separates artistic form from subject

Contemporary art is not really art at all and should be called something else. But it is a financial asset for the global elites who buy and sell it and run the Arts Councils that manage artistic creativity.

Sotheby’s contemporary art auction in July 2008 raised more than $1 billion which shows how the global elites are investing in art regardless of economic predictions. Their evening contemporary art sale raised 95 million pounds ($189 million), the highest total for a summer contemporary auction held in Europe and just below the overall regional record set in February.  Francis Bacon’s “Study for Head of George Dyer”, the artist’s lover, fetched $27.4 million, including commission; Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled”, was sold by rock band U2 for $10.1 million. Competitors Christie’s sold art worth $172 million at its sale. Only the less important Sotheby’s contemporary day sale is left and the two main auctioneers have sold works worth just over $1 billion during the summer season, which includes impressionist, modern, post-war and contemporary art. Christie’s raised around $552 million and Sotheby’s about $449 million so far.

Senior executives are confidant that the art market will sustain soaring values in spite of falling stocks and house prices with rising oil costs. Russian elites have been a big factor in booming art sales, there is worry they may inflate impressionist prices in the same way Japanese money did around 20 years ago then disappeared causing the market to crash.

“Sex” by the Chapman Brothers

“Study for Head of George Dyer” by Francis Bacon


Posted by Guest Blogger on Monday, July 7, 2008 at 02:43 PM in The Arts & Design
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The true face of Leonardo?

Well, maybe.  Here’s something I picked up off the IHR circular, and thought might be worth posting if the advertising content on the original could be pruned.  It could.

So here is a four-minute presentation by Siegfried Woldhek, a newspaper illustrator with a sideline as a Third World techno do-gooder, on his research into “the true face” of Leonardo de Vinci.


Posted by Guessedworker on Saturday, April 12, 2008 at 05:39 AM in The Arts & Design
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Film review - This is England (2006)

They don’t make big budget films about the far right in Britain.  In fact, it’s rare for any film to be made about it.  But one was made last year based on the personal experiences of its director, Shane Meadows.  These are my impressions of it.

IT’S 1983, the first day of the school summer holidays.  We open with a couple of minutes of genuine archive footage.  Mrs Thatcher appears, tearful crowds see the Falklands fleet out of harbour, then follow shots from some inane TV show – not really a contrast, as all these scenes are part of the same “spectacle”.  Next come some disturbing shots of dead and wounded soldiers being hurriedly ferried away from a Falklands battlefield, and it’s these last that implicitly form a backdrop for the film itself.

Shaun, played by Thomas Turgoose, is a severely undersized 13-year-old North-country boy (the scene-setting is reminiscent of that in Ken Loach’s Kes).  He has lost his father in the Falklands War.  His mum (Jo Hartley) just doesn’t possess the inner resources to help him get over it, and he’s scoffed at and bullied at school.

One day he’s befriended by a gang of older kids - rather patronisingly, perhaps they want him as a mascot.  They are punk/skinhead types, not political, indeed on the verge of criminality.  Membership of the gang (which has one black member, a friendly and gentle boy called “Milky”) takes Shaun out of himself.  The boys play fantasy/hunting games in derelict buildings: - a waste of time perhaps, but now Shaun feels that he’s needed and has a purpose.

But then an older member named Combo (Stephen Graham), whom we haven’t met before, rejoins the gang.  He’s been in prison, manfully taking the rap, it seems, for one of the other members.  He quickly re-establishes himself as the feared leader, and preaches a programme of white supremacy.  A pivotal moment in the film has been reached, and the mood of the action changes.


Posted by Guest Blogger on Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 07:21 PM in The Arts & Design
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From a second Promethean Sunic ...


Oh, tell me the pale Moon

Where has the joyous beat of the heart gone?

In the veinless, bloodless, joyless machine,

Illusion of our time.

Like a sunless gothic cathedral among the skyscrapers,

Without its chime - lost in the yawning heights of time.

Divine heart, you have slept too long in your primeval grave,

Waiting for the thunder to wake you up in your deep sleep!

But all that clamour couldn’t move you

You were falling deeper in your dream.

Until in the darkest darkness of my human heart,

I dreamt of the mysterious sun-ray that has come to wake you up,

Before the delightful dawn of time –from the coldest depths of

Unknown Life; from forgotten timeless spheres,

As soft as the white flower petals in warm summer nights

Comes the unknown delight!

The lost feeling - the old Eros; reborn out of time immemorial,

Deeper and warmer than all those passionate fires of cold modernity.

by Xenia Sunic, wife of Tom and a Croatian poet dedicated to the Promethean spirit.  She lives and works in Zagreb.

Posted by Guest Blogger on Friday, February 2, 2007 at 01:45 PM in The Arts & Design
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There Lie Forgotten Men

The poem I reproduce below was penned by a schoolgirl, Rebecca Sullivan as a (probably rather tiresome) homework assignment.  Her subject matter was Remembrance Day: the 11th of the 11th.  To continue with the BBC News report:-

Her teacher was so moved by the poem - which describes a world in which war dead are all but forgotten - she sent it to the Royal British Legion.

Officials decided to include it in a service at Trafalgar Square after deciding that it stood out from the hundreds of poems the Legion receives each year.

Rebecca wrote her piece after being moved by the poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon which she read as part of a school project.

Here then, with apologies for any excessive lugubriousness, is the poem - which I found myself forced to read from a slightly different but no less poignant perspective.

There Lie Forgotten Men

They lie there in their thousands
The last rays of sunlight
Catching the white of the gravestones
Lending a poignancy to the moment
Numbering in their thousands they lay
Deserving remembrance
And yet the scarred green fields are empty
Nothing remains here
The processions of people vanished with the years
Their sacrifice all but forgotten

She stands there alone
At the edge of the silent place
And she is shocked
New wars brew and these forgotten men
Will play no part in them
The dead silence warn no ears but hers
In great halls in moments of great decision
What they fought for is forsaken
And by days end new gravestones
Appear on the blood red ground

She finds what she seeks
‘Sgt John Malley Age 27’
His life brutally ended
And she stands by his grave
But he can give no answers
And she weeps for him
For the empty hole he left behind
And for the new emptiness
Soon to join the black chasm
And her tears join the flood

Posted by Guessedworker on Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 10:12 AM in The Arts & Design

Ezra Pound Recitation: Rolling The R’s

Listen Here


“Master thyself, then others shall thee beare”
    Pull down thy vanity
Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,
A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,
Half black half white
Nor knowst’ou wing from tail
Pull down thy vanity
          How mean thy hates
Fostered in falsity,
          Pull down thy vanity,
Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,
Pull down thy vanity,
          I say pull down.

But to have done instead of not doing
          This is not vanity
To have, with decency, knocked
That a Blunt should open
      To have gathered from the air a live tradition
or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame
this is not vanity.
    Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered . . .

Posted by leslie on Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 06:57 PM in The Arts & Design
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Traditional art now despised in the British art world

But elephant dung is great!

The Tate was accused yesterday of snubbing one of Britain’s foremost collections after it rejected a gift of 160 paintings that had been given pride of place at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.  Its director, Sir Nicholas Serota, said that the works did not deserve to be in a national collection, even though their five-month exhibition last autumn drew thousands of people to the Walker, one of the outstanding collections of fine art in Europe and part of National Museums Liverpool.

The works were painted by the Stuckists, an international group of artists founded in 1999 to promote traditional artistry, looking to the Old Masters for inspiration. Experts said that the artists had “inaugurated the rebirth of spirituality and meaning in art, culture and society”, with their works worth œ500,000, but the Tate was less than impressed.


Posted by jonjayray on Saturday, July 30, 2005 at 09:13 AM in The Arts & Design
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Horace, for Phil

Many know that Phil, an MR contributor is on vacation. Earlier I recieved a note telling of his wonderment of Rome. Well, Horace is closest I’ll be getting to Italy, Phil!  What a lucky guy.

Don’t ask (it’s forbidden to know) what final fate the gods have
given to me and you, Leuconoe, and don’t consult Babylonian
horoscopes. How much better it is to accept whatever shall be,
whether Jupiter has given many more winters or whether this is the
last one, which now breaks the force of the Tuscan sea against the
facing cliffs. Be wise, strain the wine, and trim distant hope within
short limits. While we’re talking, grudging time will already
have fled: seize the day, trusting as little as possible in tomorrow.


Posted by leslie on Saturday, July 30, 2005 at 12:02 AM in The Arts & Design
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The Message Still Applies

The message conveyed by this WWI propaganda poster still rings true: while a few struggle with the foe most smugly ignore the threat, choosing indulgence. In this war, the Real War, the foe isn’t across the ocean, the English Channel, or even in Fallujah, instead he occupies our very soil.

I found the British archive this morning, while looking at Soviet propaganda.

Posted by leslie on Thursday, July 21, 2005 at 09:58 AM in The Arts & Design
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The Art of Don Troiani


I am not a great connoisseur of Art but I do have a keen interest. The paintings and art work of Don Troiani paint a vivid picture of the immortal battles of a bygone era.

Posted by Phil Peterson on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 at 07:54 PM in The Arts & Design
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Art, cultural vandalism and the public purse

The art world is one of the most corrupted components of British society.  It is filled with talentless professional eccentrics, poseurs and intellectual frauds and lightweights who daub with faeces and trade in pure shock value or boorish mundanity.

What might have been excusable were it no more than the surviving rump of 20th century modernism, refining perhaps the irony of Duchamps and Dali but not their outrageousness, has completely taken over the asylum.  As Prince Charles famously said of architecture, the avant garde has become the establishment.  It seems that there is no way back, for the structure of patronage and schooling which produced the great art of our European past cannot be replicated.  Democracy, capitalism and the state have killed it off absolutely and forever.

The consequence, quite apart from the flight from beauty and the total failure of draughtsmanship, is that the general public has become hopelessly innured to badness.  It traipses along to the galleries to be baffled, amused, entertained by the shock of the bad - in the process, naturally enough, creating a demand for more and yet more and worse badness.  We know it’s all crudely unintellectual schlock of the lowest order, a sublime joke in which some Highfallutin Johnny Expert informs us with a perfectly straight face as to that before which we must genuflect.  But still, it seems, we genuflect.


Posted by Guessedworker on Monday, April 18, 2005 at 06:00 AM in The Arts & Design
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