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Top 10 hottest World Cup players

June 15, 2010

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As you may know, I do low as well as high brow. So this is one for the ladies. My pick of the top ten most gorgeous players to distract you look out for during the World Cup.

For once, dodgy haircuts can be overlooked due to lovely eyes, chiselled cheek bones or a winning smile. I’ve omitted the England players and well-known lookers like Thierry Henry (France) because they get enough media coverage already.

Although I must give a special mention to Michael Ballack (Germany) whose career I’ve followed with interest way before Chelsea signed him.

Football is most definitely a beautiful game…..

1. Gonzalo Higuaín, 22, striker for Argentina (and Real Madrid).

2. Yoann Gourcuff, 23, midfielder for France (and Bordeaux).

3. Kaká, 28, attacking midfielder for Brazil (and Real Madrid).

4. Robin van Persie, 26, striker for the Netherlands (and Arsenal).

5. Samuel Eto’o, 29, striker for Cameroon (and Inter Milan).

6. Daniele De Rossi, 26, midfielder for Italy (and Rome).

7. Thomas Sorensen, 34, goalkeeper for Denmark (and Stoke City).

8. Iker Casillas, 29, goalkeeper and captain for Spain (and Real Madrid).

9. Andrej Komac, 30, central midfielder for Slovenia (and Maccabi Tel Aviv).

10. Fabio Cannavaro, 36, centre back and captain for Italy (and Al-Ahli Dubai).

Feel free to add anybody else in the comments.

*All images have been snaffled from the internet to illustrate my points. If you’d like me to remove an image due to copyright restrictions please contact me.

Gormley’s cubes at White Cube

June 14, 2010

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Ever since I first saw Antony Gormley’s imposing Angel of the North sculpture after it was unveiled in Gateshead (to the dismay of the local papers who banged on for months about the money wasted which could have gone to hospitals), I’ve been a loyal fan.

I’d always feel a sense of delight at spotting the Gateshead Angel from the train window as I headed back up to Newcastle when I lived there. It meant I wasn’t far from home.

Gormley is an accessible, never-stuffy, inclusive artist who always seeks to involve people in his work (his fourth plinth project One and Other in Trafalgar Square last summer where members of the public did whatever they liked over 100 days epitomized this idea).

While Blind Light at the Hayward a couple of years before had people, me included, screaming in fright as we bumbled round a mist-filled glass box as Gormley explored our relationship with space, light and perspective. I never knew a smoke-filled room could be so much fun.

Of course Gormley is renowned for his human forms and there is a roomful of such oxidised people (this time created in a rather cubist brick style) in Test Sites currently showing at White Cube in St. James’s. But it is the installation downstairs that will most surprise you.

Breathing Room III is a series of bright blue, interconnecting glow-in-the-dark squares (“photo luminescent space frames” according to White Cube) made of aluminium which take up most of the dark room. You can walk round and in-between the squares and when you do it’s like being in a computer game. Or an architect’s 3D mock-up of a building. Very surreal.

Once your eyes have adjusted to the darkness and the calming blue glow from the squares, Gormley surprises by switching the lights on full beam which is both painful and disorientating.

“Downstairs, it’s kind of a meditative space cut through by this white light that in some way takes you out of the dreamy, touchy-feely environment,” Gormley tells Dazed Digital in a thought-provoking interview. “It also illuminates everybody else that is locked in that matrix with you, and together you are all interrogated. For me, it’s about the dialectic between interrogation and meditation.”

Another Gormley classic.

Test Sites runs Tuesday-Saturday at White Cube, Mason’s Yard in St. James’s, free of charge until Saturday 10 July.

Electric Hotel is…electric

June 12, 2010

Last night turned into one of those unexpectedly balmy summer evenings. You know the kind. You’re outside with friends having a sundowner…in the shadow of an old Victorian gasworks with headphones on. As we waited for the production of Electric Hotel to start I knew this would be no ordinary show.

Choreography, sound and light are blended to produce an eerie, mesmerizing and unusual performance, complemented by the industrial background of a King’s Cross goods depot. A few years ago I would have been in almost the same spot larging it at The (now defunct) Cross nightclub. How times change.

I loved the sense of being a voyeur of Electric Hotel (actually, after my visit to Tate Modern’s Exposed I fear could be turning into one!). The narrative is less important here than the visuals and sound. In other words, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on.

That said, the surround sound through the headphones was so clever in places that I thought there was somebody right behind me at one point. The magical lighting of the hotel married with a setting sun behind the gasworks added to the drama. The choregraphy…well, it’s a Sadler’s Wells performance…enough said. See it if you can. You’ll remember it for years.

Electric Hotel runs until next Friday 18th June. Book tickets here.

Sky’s summer of plays

June 9, 2010

I love unexpected treats. Having spent a blissful afternoon with a friend in Brockwell Park drinking Proscecco with raspberries on Saturday, I ended up being her boyfriend stand-in later on (only outside the bedroom I hasten to add).

She had a spare ticket for The Typist, a new play by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, the first woman to have a play performed on the main stage at the National Theatre, which you can see live on Sky Arts 2/HD tonight at 9pm (if you’ve got it).

It’s the first in summer series Playhouse: Live in which Sky Arts broadcasts a new play every Wednesday night for five weeks, live from Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. The idea harks back to BBC1’s groundbreaking The Wednesday Play which ran in the 1960s.

We saw what was in effect a full dress rehearsal for the TV performance. As my invite was so last-minute, I didn’t have any preconceptions. So I was pleasantly surprised to find it funny, thought-provoking and poignant. The Typist is a two-hander about the relationship between ageing photographer Mary Parks who is losing her sight and Fit, the young guy typing her memoirs.

Gemma Jones (Spooks, Sense & Sensibility) is outstanding as Parks, a woman grappling with old-age and loss of independence while Tobi Bakare plays Fit with energy and a knack for comic timing. The script is intelligent and witty and the living room set is very well-designed, complemented by photographic-like red lighting and bright flashes to mark scene changes.

Other plays in the series include Juliet Stevenson starring in Mark Ravenhill’s Ghost Story and Here by Eve Ensler (author of The Vagina Monologues).

I highly recommend you tune in as live theatre is so rare on TV these days, especially with actors and playwrights of this calibre. Or contact Riverside Studios to see a play in the flesh.

The Typist is broadcast live on Sky Arts 2/HD tonight at 9pm.

Later footnote: It’s dawned on me that these plays are Sky Arts’ answer to Big Brother which started at the same time tonight. Maybe they’re hoping that people will switch from real life drama to real live drama. The chances are slim methinks.

We’re all…exposed

June 4, 2010

Am I referring to the white limbs on show thanks to the gorgeous weather? Well no, but I am a firm believer in making the most of the sun when we can. Which is why it’s taken me a week to blog about Exposed, the new photography exhibition at Tate Modern. Although I visited on its opening day, it has, gasp, been too hot to blog.

First off, this exhibition is not for the faint-hearted. Or toddlers (there were a few when I was there). It’s seedy in places. Graphically violent in others. And introduces aspects of human behaviour which I found fascinating (not that I’m prone to graphic violence or seediness mind!).

The show traces the history of covert photography from Paul Strand’s use of a faux lateral lens to take secret pictures of poor immigrants in the early 20th century to modern methods of surveillance using satellites and CCTV. It focuses on the paparazzi, surveillance, documenting violence, voyeurism and unseen photographers such as street photographers.

There are some outstanding photographs in this exhibition. If a picture can speak a thousand words then Leonard McCombe’s 1956 photo of Hollywood screen siren Kim Novak being watched by a group of men, does exactly that. Sublime. As is Henri Cartier-Bresson’s man on a bicycle taken from the top of a spiral staircase in 1932.

Although there are a lot of “exposed” women in this show (I sound like a prudish Mary Whitehouse I know), the male form is not entirely overlooked. Girls, look out for Alair Gomes’ Beach Triptych taken with a telephoto lens in 1980 from his apartment overlooking Rio beach. Yes….sublime.

There is such a broad range here and by so many well-known photographers (Robert Frank, Robert Mapplethorpe, Nan Goldin, Helmut Newton for instance) that you’re bound to find pictures and ideas of interest. Or if not pictures, then items, such as shoes and walking canes with built-in hidden cameras.

The photographs may sometimes make you feel uncomfortable (the witnessing violence section which depicts brutal acts of war is difficult to stomach in places) but they’re certainly not boring. Tate Modern have taken a risk here. This is my kind of exhibition.

I found Kohei Yoshiyuki’s series “The Park” rather unsettling so I can imagine the furore when they were shown in Tokyo in 1979. For the first time, using a small camera and infrared flash, he’d captured a secret Japanese sexual sub-culture in which men hid behind bushes in parks to watch shagging couples, often trying to touch them unnoticed in the dark. In a similar vein, Arthur Fellig (nicknamed Weegee) used infrared to capture couples heavy petting at the cinema or on Coney island beaches in the 1940s. Viewing them, I felt like a voyeur viewing a voyeur’s work.

Exposed really makes you think about photography’s purpose, what is art, what is a fetish masked as art (when you see Czech photographer Miroslav Tichy’s pictures taken with homemade cameras you’ll see what I’m getting at), what is voyeurism (is photography merely a voyeuristic act?), and how secret photography reflects society, either accurately or inaccurately.

Exposed
runs at Tate Modern until 3 October. Buy tickets here.

Craft meets Music

May 22, 2010

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If you’re a. female b. like music and c. partial to well designed, unusual jewellery then you’re going to love this post. Though I should probably say now that I’m biased. On Thursday I went to a late night opening of my friend An’s new jewellery exhibition at Craft Central in Clerkenwell.

An, a RCA graduate who exhibits at Tate Modern and many other cool, design-focused places, fashions incredible jewellery from everyday objects. For this new exhibition she’s recycled old vinyl records (yes really!) into gorgeous new wearable rings:

necklaces:

brooches:

and many other fab earrings. Many of An’s pieces are bespoke using gold, silver and diamonds so the price tag isn’t high street. But then with such unusual jewellery you get what you pay for. That said, her prices range from £15 to £3000 so there’s something for everyone.

Her jewellery is a real talking point. Whenever I wear a pair of vinyl bracelets (song unknown – I do hope I’m not wearing Cliff Richard round my wrist) I always get asked about them.

An’s “Craft meets Music” exhibition with Evelin Kasikov’s embroidered paper inspired by album covers runs at Craft Central until Friday 28th May. Or buy online at OXx jewellery.

Malcolm was here

May 17, 2010

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I’m flat-sitting in Highgate this weekend. As well as an abundance of kids, dogs and gorgeous posh houses, Highgate has a huge cemetery which is home to an abundance of famous people.

“Who are you here to see?” asked the nice lady at the gate as if I was visiting someone for afternoon tea. When I told her, she advised me that I’d find him opposite the “Dead” headstone of pop artist Patrick Caulfield (below).

And sure enough I found Malcolm McLaren’s grave as easily as she described. Carved of wood, its epitaph is a simple “Malcolm was here.”

There were a few handwritten notes left nearby including one on top of a couple of fags containing the words “Malcolm, you were many things but never boring.” Amen to that.

It had just been raining so a cleansing calmness hung in the air. Hardly anyone was around which added to the leafy stillness. It was only after I’d walked round, seeing Karl Marx’s monument en route:

…that I spotted a bunch of colourful pens in front of a very plain headstone. As the passing attendant rang the bell to sound the closing of the cemetery for the day, she commented that the pens were new and she’d never seen them before. What a striking way for fans of Hitchhiker writer Douglas Adams to mark his final spot.