Weekend links 35

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Marian Bantjes designs the cover of the latest Creative Review and there’s a feature about her work inside.

• “…the question: ‘was Shakespeare gay?’ strikes me as so daft as to be barely worth answering. Of course he was. Arguably he was bisexual, of sorts, but his heart was never on his straight side.” Don Paterson throws the cat among the pigeons in an examination of the Shakespeare’s sonnets. Related (sort of): Shakespeare and Company: The bookshop that thinks it’s a hotel. Also related: Jeanette Winterson revisits Shakespeare and Company.

100 orbs of light float in the Schuylkill River. Also in Philadelphia: Animators Amok in a Curiosity Cabinet: the Brothers Quay are making a film in the Mütter Museum. Can’t wait to see it.

• More Alan Moore: Fossil Angels, a lengthy essay about magic and the occult, was written in 2002 but hasn’t been given a public airing until now.

Alberto Manguel is always worth reading:

As Borges was well aware even then, the history of literature is the history of this paradox. On the one hand, the deeply rooted intuition writers have that the world exists, in Mallarmé’s much-abused phrase, to result in a beautiful book (or, as Borges would have it, even a mediocre book), and, on the other hand, to know that the muse governing the enterprise is, as Mallarmé called her, the Muse of Impotence (or, to use a freer translation, the Muse of Impossibility). Mallarmé added later that all who have ever written anything, even those we call geniuses, have attempted this ultimate Book, the Book with a capital B. And all have failed.

• Here Comes Everybody: Wake In Progress is a self-described “foolhardy attempt to illustrate Finnegans Wake”. Easier to illustrate than make a film of the book, I’d have thought, and Mary Ellen Bute already attempted the latter.

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Psychic Explosion: Adolf Hoffmeister’s illustrations for a 1967 edition of Lautréamont’s Poesies at A Journey Round My Skull.

Craig Colorusso’s Sun Boxes can be seen at Turner Falls, Massachusetts, during November.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins has a book and retrospective exhibition of his art due next year.

• A sneak peek into The Steampunk Bible to which I’m a contributor. And also here.

• “Human or other; depends who comes”: the Ballardian films of Paul Williams.

Transmission (1979) by Joy Division; Transmission (1995) by Low; Monkey (2010) by Robert Plant.

Weekend links 2

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A picture for embittered lovers.

Among other things this week I’ve been working on the design for another CD featuring photos by Liz Eve, a photographer whose pictures are always a pleasure to use. (Our earlier encounters can be seen here, here and here.) The latest set have this anti-Valentine for an eye-popping cover image. I’ll be posting the finished layouts once everything is approved by the label.

Crash: JG Ballard’s artistic legacy. Iain Sinclair on Ballard and a new art exhibition inspired by the author’s fiction.

• More art: Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Artlog is essential reading. Lots of insights into his beautiful work.

Raw Power by Iggy and the Stooges will be released in an expanded edition on April 27th with outtakes, documentary, book and other extras.

• Sonic Youth dude and fellow Arthurian Thurston Moore has a blog.

• “That’s all it comes down to in the end, though, isn’t it? Put it in and jiggle it about a bit.” Alan Bennett & John Fortune discuss sex. A hoot.

• “I wanna walk through Sodom with a boy on my arm / Who’s so damn pretty I don’t know where I am…” A song from 1984 for Valentine’s Day: I, Bloodbrother Be (£4,000 Love Letter) by Shock Headed Peters.

Salomé scored

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Alla Nazimova as Salomé (1923).

I wrote a while ago about Alla Nazimova’s luscious silent film production of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé, a suitably Decadent affair with an allegedly all-gay cast, and costume and stage design based on Aubrey Beardsley’s celebrated illustrations. The film is currently touring England and Wales with a new score for four musicians by composer Charlie Barber, an extract of which can be heard here. I like the Middle Eastern sound of this, a shame the film isn’t coming to Manchester.

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By coincidence, artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins sent these photos of an impressive Duncan Meadows and his equally impressive sword as additions to the burgeoning Men with swords archive. Meadows is shown as the executioner in a Royal Opera House production of the Strauss opera, appearing at the end of the drama bearing the head of John the Baptist. Given the way that Salomé’s body has always been the focus of attention in this story, Meadows’ appearance makes a striking change, one which Wilde himself might have appreciated.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The men with swords archive
The Salomé archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Equus and the Executionist

Equus and the Executionist

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I wrote about Peter Shaffer’s fascinating play, Equus, in September last year, and in passing touched on the horse and Mari Lwyd-inspired paintings of Clive Hicks-Jenkins which seemed to complement the play’s themes of sexuality and passionate obsession. Callum James had been having similar thoughts about Clive’s art and urged his friends at The Old Stile Press to bring play and artist together. Clive was in touch last week to let me know that his illustrated edition of the play is now in print. The Old Stile Press produce limited collectors’ editions of books to the highest standard. Consequently these are expensive works but then they’re as much art pieces as books, as you can see from the care which has been lavished on this particular volume. Nice to see one of my favourite typefaces, Bodoni, used for the text.

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Also in touch last week was photographer Gray Scott with news of this striking picture entitled Executionist which also happens to be a limited edition print. This is another expensive piece—as limited prints tend to be—but there’s no law that says the best things have to be cheap, is there?

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Dark horses
Gray Scott

Dark horses

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A juxtaposition of old and new theatre posters in the New York Times caught my eye this week, part of a feature about the current Broadway run of Peter Shaffer’s play. The news there, of course, has been Daniel Radcliffe’s on-stage nudity; understandable, perhaps, but celebrity trivia has overshadowed appraisal of Shaffer’s work as a piece of art.

What struck me seeing these was the two very different approaches to the same design problem. Given the subject matter, using an image of a horse is somewhat unavoidable as well as being immediately attractive since horses nearly always look good. The freight of historical and cultural association they carry is also one of the themes of the play. I really like the spare treatment of Gilbert Lesser’s 1976 poster for the National Theatre (left) and much prefer it to the new version used for the London and New York shows. The Lesser poster has the quality of a puzzle, matching the psychological piecing together of the story and Alan Strang’s accusation that Dysart the psychiatrist is always “playing games”. It also has a sinister quality lacking in the contemporary version; Shaffer’s Equus is an unforgiving god and the black eyes could refer to the blinded horses. The Photoshop horse looks altogether too mundane and is it my imagination or is the horse head misshapen slightly in order to fit the torso?

Continue reading “Dark horses”