Irving Penn: Centennial at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This article originally appeared at Pairs Project

To me personally, photography is a way to overcome mortality.

Marking the centennial of Irving Penn’s birth, the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents 187 of the celebrated photographer’s finest works from the Irving Penn Foundation. Though primarily celebrated as one of the most influential fashion photographers at Vogue, this major retrospective is an exquisite documentation of his expansive history as an artist. As often ahead of his time as he was lauded within it, it covers every facet of his 70-year career in 10 catalogues from his major series.

A master of photography in its final analogue form, Penn was an image maker in the old style, largely eschewing color photography for black and white prints and teaching himself the laborious, unfashionable platinum and palladium printing in the 1960s. He believed in the camera and the dark room, the camera and the hand, studying the art of Goya, Daumier and Toulouse-Lautrec to enhance his own lighting, focus and reductionist graphic composition. As Jeff L. Rosenheim says, there is a “distilled genius in all those pictures.”

The daylight… is the light of Paris, the light of painters. It seems to fall as a caress.

Penn’s favored backdrop was an old Parisian theatre curtain painted with diffuse soft grey clouds that followed him from studio to studio over a period of 60 years. The classic Vogue photographs of sublime Dior and Balenciaga couture worn by, amongst others, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, display his incomparable fashion nous. Yet it is Penn’s unquenchable thirst for experimentation, such as his bleached and overexposed nudes of “real women in real circumstances”, that give the delighted viewer a sliver of insight into the curiosity of his mind. The Nudes were ill-received in the 1950s, as were his later still life portraits of crushed cigarette butts and decaying flowers. “Why make achingly beautiful prints of something beneath regard?” The fragility and minimalism of that which has “passed that point of perfection”, is testament to Penn’s utter modernity; that which makes an artist iconic.

I myself have always stood in awe of the camera. I recognize it for the instrument that it is, part Stradivarius, part scalpel.

Curator Maria Morris Hambourg beautifully describes The Photographer as often being either the hunter, surreptitiously snapping as did Cartier-Bresson, or a magnificent studio stylist in the manner of Richard Avedon. Irving Penn was “something of a hunter seeking something deeper than the surface, longer than a moment.” Photographing celebrated artists from Colette to Capote and Picasso, to the beautiful indigenous peoples of Benin, New Guinea and Morocco, one senses this deep respect for the idiosyncrasies of each sitter. It is this deft unravelling of a part of the soul beyond the shroud of textile that gives a profound feeling of emotion to Penn’s work, in addition to the delicacy and finesse of his portraits.

Irving Penn: Centennial will be travelling to Paris, Berlin and Brazil.

Dodge and Burn by Seraphina Madsen Review

Kidnapped by the Machiavellian mad scientist Dr Vargas after their mother’s death in a killer bee attack, heiresses Eugenie and Camille Lund are raised in a prison of extreme wealth and psychological torture that they attempt to escape via pagan rites. As adults, they attempt to assassinate Vargas, ‘the mortal enemy of anyone committed to a magical universe in which all is spontaneous, unpredictable and alive’. Eugenie is freed from his clutches, with the unexpected consequence of Camille’s disappearance into another realm.

At a forest rave in the South of France, Eugenie falls for Benoît Del Mar, an anarchic ex-Army deep house DJ with the reflexes of Bruce Lee, who loves her for always and to the death. Later, on the run from casino Mafiosi in a psychedelic road trip across the Nevada desert, Eugenie must re-engage with the changeable borders of reality in her attempts to find her sister and finally revenge herself upon Vargas. She goes ‘deeper into magic, into the shamanic realm where everything is alive, everything has a consciousness constantly sending and receiving waves, currents and vibrations,’ though she is still haunted by the fear of pursuit and discovery. Eugenie and Benoît find aid in an unexpected quarter, as Maynard, a hunter whose ghostly figure was imprinted upon her childhood, is destined to reconnect with her in the present.

Norse mythology, Native American rites, techno-driven magic realism, the ‘jungle sensitivity’ of tribal society, cosmic synchronicity and reflections on the mutable nature of time and space are all deftly interwoven in Dodge and Burn. Madsen’s witty and original journey through multiple continents is replete with extrasensory phenomena and philosophical musings. LSD, snake venom, hemlock and copious amounts of weed take Eugenie to ‘the edge of terror and wonder’ where ‘one could go mad from one ashtray.’ Through it all, these thoroughly charming outlaws, madly in love and perhaps mad themselves, are ‘in the pursuit of masterpieces’. Madsen’s avant-garde debut is peppered with enchanting turns of phrase and her engrossing prose is as delightful as it feels effortless. Allow yourself to be transported.

Dodge And Burn by Seraphina Madsen is available through independent UK publishers Dodo Ink

Originally published in Eclectic Magazine online.  

S&X by Rankin, Created by The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi

“It’s fleeting desire captured in an image. It’s not falling in love, but it’s like falling in love. It’s not sex, but it’s like sex. It’s a relationship compressed into a moment.”

-       Rankin

Rankin, world-renowned photographer and founder of Dazed & Confused, AnOther Magazine, AnOther Man and Hunger, has collaborated with award-winning fragrance designer Azzi Glasser of The Perfumer’s Story to launch unisex perfume S&X. Describing the similarity between the two art forms, Rankin explained that ‘perfume creates presence, similar to portraiture’ and he worked with Azzi to capture the ambiance of his artistic character with a scent she describes as ‘animalistic, visceral and addicting’. 

Over breakfast in his North London gallery and studio space, Rankin praised Azzi’s ‘chocolate shop of perfume, a den of seduction with elixirs and portions’, in which they experimented with smells that would evoke the mystery, sensuality and rawness in his work. For Azzi, it is vital to conjure the energy of her bespoke clients, the way they feel about life, in the most honest way she can. For the S&X perfume by Rankin, they were drawn to the idea of a person’s own unique DNA, the smells of blood and flesh and skin, which when mixed with other ingredients become headily sexual, mysterious and alluring.

The first perfume Rankin became loyal to was YSL’s Kouros at the tender age of fourteen, a powerful smell requiring a strut to his walk, a degree of swagger and bravery. This mood of the fearless provocateur, with a sense of humour, has carried over into S&X, with top notes of poivre, leather and magnolia, a hint of jasmine and base notes of amber resin and white musk. In a beautiful Art Deco inspired glass bottle small enough to fit in your handbag, it imparts a lightly carnal lift to your day.

Launching exclusively October 1st in Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge and online at The Perfumer’s Story, S&X will later be available from independent retailers and Net-A-Porter from December 1st. At £95 for 30ml, it is an ideal gift for friends and lovers. As Rankin says, ‘Now you can give people sex!’

 riginally published in Eclectic Magazine

‘The Gambler’, Directed by Ignas Jonynas Review

We are introduced to director Ingas Jonynas’ eponymous gambler Dr. Vincentas (Vytautas Kaniusonis) rescuing an ODing prostitute by breathing into a defective air pump with his own mouth. She vomits green bile all over his face. Vinc then follows her john, a spindly-legged, stringy-haired old man in dirty boxers, into the next room of the grim apartment. The john protests that he is ‘an artist’, ‘a photographer’, as Vinc confiscates a pile of pornographic Polaroids on the bed. Later, Vinc wins the diploma of honour, a health ministry mug and ten energy bars in his paramedic division for the ninth year running. It is a hollow victory.

Death, exploitation, traffic accidents, potential suicides and gang crime are par for the course in Vinc’s line of work, and he and his workmates cope with the banality of this horror by betting compulsively. When an ambulance journey is cut short by the patient’s demise, the team’s casual reaction is to pull over and start playing on a portable plastic racecourse. We see them roll the dice through the pane of glass behind the dead man’s head. Vinc later shrugs off this cruelly casual attitude with the ruthless logic: ‘Who is one of us? There are only gamblers and money. Someone will always be someone’s one of us.’

Vinc sells the photos of the prostitute back to her parents for an influx of cash, but is still heavily indebted to a loan shark. A passionate love affair with fellow medic Ieva (Oona Mekas), a single mother to a sick child, brings the couple temporary solace. However, Vinc’s macabre solution to his gambling addiction soon sparks off a descent into immorality that will test them both. As he and his colleagues are drawn further into the ‘Deadbook’, Vinc will learn that you cannot choose both love and the game.

Masterfully acted by Kaniusonis and Mekas, set to eerie techno rock by Suuns, ‘The Gambler’ beautifully captures disturbing scenes of mounting chaos with a throbbing tension. Vinc is a man both generous and furious, complex in his anger, pain and ardor, living moment to moment for the rush of chance and fate. The question is, can he choose honour?

‘The Gambler’ is screening at the Future Meridian Festival at Hackney Picturehouse, April 7th at 6.30pm with a Q and A by Vytautas Kaniusonis.

Originally published at Eclectic Magazine online. 

 

The Refinery, Bankside Review

Are you a sports fan with a loathing for sports bars? Fear not, The Refinery Bankside has teamed up with Bacardi to soothe your lust for feats of physical prowess and flying objects with a cheerful holiday vibe. Until the 31st of August, their Great British Summer pop-up is screening Wimbledon and the Olympics on a sunlit terrace behind the Hayward Gallery. They have deck chairs (love a deck chair) as well as rum-based cocktails. Olé!  

We started with juicy green olives, spiced nuts and the Maid In Cuba, a rather culturally insensitive title for a refreshing mixture of rum, lime and cucumber with a subtle Absinthe rinse. Watching Venus Williams duel with someone I was convinced was Sharapova until brought up to speed, we munched on a delicious platter of Napoli flatbread doused with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella. It was so large that I managed to convince myself our crispy salt & pepper squid with lemon mayonnaise was a side dish, not also a starter.

Though the burgers appeared to be the most popular item, it was (miracle of miracles) too hot for us to go comfortably gorge on Wagyu beef and Stilton. Instead, the chargrilled tuna salad with green papaya, cucumber and lime dressing had a zesty oriental flavour, with a delicate spray of roasted peanuts. The Pollock special with asparagus, prawn and squid was tender and light, perfectly accompanied by Roman fries with parmesan, truffle and rosemary.

To round things off, I took a Hooker In Havana (I jest- the Green Tea Punch) a lovely twist on a classic mojito with Sencha and mint tea. It cut very nicely through the richness of the dark chocolate and sea salt caramel tart, as well as a sweet and crunchy strawberry pavlova. Combining an engaging crowd with spacious seating to allow for a proper view, the Great British Summer is a lively lounge spot for a sunny day, spent watching other people sweat.

Originally published at Eclectic Magazine online. 

The Keeper’s House, Royal Academy of Arts Review

‘Keep me safe’, reads the neon Tracey Emin light above the entrance to The Keeper’s House; an apt mantra, as the restaurant is a serene oasis in the midst of central London. Now open to the public for the first time in the history of the RAA, its secret garden is full of lush palm fronds, in verdant contrast to the cool stone of the historic art museum.

We knew from the moment we dipped our warm bread into the golden, thick, salted butter that we would be in for a treat. The modern British menu is seasonal and apparently foraged, for those altruistic gourmands who require their veg to have lived wild and free. We started by sharing the fresh and zesty octopus carpaccio and a heavenly-smooth burrata with heritage tomatoes. This was followed by a perfectly pink lamb atop a bed of pea pesto and a simple, but moreish artichoke tortellini with parmesan.

The apple and almond cake with vanilla ice cream was a dream and the cheese plate generous and flavourful, though rather violently assaulted by its crackers, served with sweet quince and nectarine. Perfectly accompanied by a crisp bottle of Sancerre, the wine list runs the gamut from around 20 to 50 pounds, with champagne also available for big spenders.

Although the terrace unfortunately only serves lunch, The Keeper’s House also has set dinner options, at two courses for £19.50 and three for £24.50. The crowd ran a bit older, elegant and refined; it is a calm, quiet restaurant ideal for a pre-theatre meal with parents or art lovers. If the weather is fine, the garden is a charming venue for an intimate cocktail date in which to flex your cultural credentials, particularly with the Hockney show upcoming.

Originally published at Eclectic Magazine online. 

Scandi Feel with a Brit Twist at KuPP, Paddington Basin Review

Although the canal in Paddington Basin can’t compare to the charms of Copenhagen or Stockholm, you can have a little taste of waterside Scandi style at KuPP, the new fusion all day dining restaurant. Their grazing and sharing plates, sourced from the best British and Scandinavian suppliers, include classics such as smoked pork meatballs, fish and rye bread. However, you can also avail yourself of a burger or steak if you fancy a familiar meal in a cheerful setting. The expansive, colourful and airy room was buzzing with patrons and the faint hum of neon signage.

We started with the pork meatballs in a beer sauce with chicory salad and the Hansen & Lydersen smoked salmon with crispbread and sour cream. Served on cutting boards, they were fresh, light and delicately flavourful, to which the Aquavit cocktails made a refreshing accompaniment. As a main, the half lobster with crispy, skinny fries was a good price at £17, though perhaps the Nordic stomach is made of stronger stuff as it was slightly undercooked by English standards. The warm, comforting textures of butternut squash with roast chicken and wilted kale salad were made more complex by a mixture of aged Danish blue, smoked onion and lingonberry dressing. All the salads look very tempting; for those couples torn between conflicting diets, KuPP offers a range of both healthy and indulgent options.

To finish, we shared the white chocolate and pepparkakor ginger biscuit cheesecake with fresh raspberries. It was just the right balance of sweet, tart and creamy, dolloped on top of a generous, crumbly crust. The toasted banana bread was a thick slab of honey drizzled cake, less gooey than the English style but with a satisfyingly festive taste to its cinnamon ice cream. For a Scandi feel with a Brit twist (or perhaps the other way around?) KuPP is a comfortable café for a leisurely lunch (or breakfast, brunch and dinner), as well as being a good spot to settle down with your computer if you work in the area.

Originally published for Eclectic Magazine online. 

 

Obicà Mozzarella Bar Saint Paul’s, Review

It shouldn’t take much to get any self-respecting gourmand on board with the idea of a cheese bar, but I will try. Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP is a ‘slow food’, traditionally produced in four stages: milking, curdling, kneading and ‘mozzatura’- shaping by hand. While much of the mozzarella bought in supermarkets is made with cow’s milk, the artisan dairies supplying Obicà provide only the freshest, creamy milk of the water buffalo. Flown in directly after packaging, it takes under 48 hours to go from the sunny pastures of Southern Italy to your plate. They serve three varieties: ‘Delicate’, subtle and sweet; ‘Intense’, firm and smooth; ‘Smoked’, with rich flavouring brought out naturally over straw embers. Convinced?

If the Burrata with black truffle and a small plate of prosciutto doesn’t tempt you, the pizzas surely will. We shared the ‘Nuja e Burrata, with spicy sausage spread and organic tomato. The tangy, finely chopped meat and generous creamy splodges on thin, crunchy crust were delicious, though the homemade spinach lasagne with grassfed beef ragu rivalled it. With a menu encompassing a wide selection of antipasti, salads, pizza, pasta, meat and fish, the latest branch of Obicà in Saint Paul’s has something for everyone (save vegans). A bright, high ceilinged outfit, it is all open-planned with a copper pizza oven, deli and modern wine bar encased by metal grating. There is even a terrace on the sunny side of the pavement for warm summer evenings to come.

Relaxed and friendly, Obicà is perfect for a (non-intimidatingly-romantic) date, or for a large group of friends to order an array of Neapolitan delicacies to share. Start with a classic Italian cocktail such as the Americano or a sweet Era Ora martini and finish with springy panna cotta with amaretto and semifreddo with salted caramel brittle. Buon Appetito!

Originally published for Eclectic Magazine online. 

 

Sweet Lovers Paradise at Cutter and Squidge London, Review

When you catch sight of the brightly coloured and prettily decorated ‘Dream Cakes’ through the window, you are likely to be lured in from the streets of Soho to further investigate Cutter and Squidge. Once inside the light and airy café, you will be tempted to demolish an entire row of the signature ‘Biskies’, biscuit sandwiches filled with generous dollops of buttercream and garnished with extravagant toppings. Then you will be distracted by the towering ice cream sundaes on display and completely lose your mind, in a state of ravenous confusion.

Luckily, the new Afternoon Tea offers a very generous assortment of this all- natural baked goodness for £24.50. Served in three layered bamboo steamers, the first is filled with mini sandwiches and scones, the second with a Biskie, Dream Cake slice and mousse, the third with sweet treats ranging from cookies, caramel brownie bites, and a fluffy marshmallow to cake truffle. It is charmingly presented and comes served with a little pot of their homemade soft ice cream, tea and a glass of Oomph-ade, a fruit infusion specialty. We were unable to finish it all, instead having a bite of everything in a taster feast of flavours. When vanilla ice cream is your palette cleanser, you know you are in for an indulgent afternoon!

Though not for the faint of heart (nor savoury tastebuds), the selection of old favourites with more daring combinations makes Cutter and Squidge perfect for a post-shopping sugar rush with friends. The smoked cheese scones with red pepper salsa and cream cheese were a highlight, as was the chocolate mousse and fluffy passion fruit cake. A pistachio, raspberry and rose Biskie was like a homemade, English take on Ladurée and the tea lattes- we tried one with matcha, one with earl grey- were a refreshing cut through the sweetness. If you are suicidal and diabetic, this is the place to go out with a bang. 

Originally published at Eclectic Magazine online. 

Brasserie Blanc, Southbank Review

‘Only a hermit should eat alone,’ is chef Raymond Blanc’s amusing (if blunt and terribly French) motto. Tucked away behind the Southbank Centre, Brasserie Blanc provides an elegant space to gather (en famille, bien sûr!) for a pre-theatre lunch or dinner from a seasonally changing à la carte menu. Sourcing only sustainable seafood, free-range 30 day dry-aged steaks and artisan cheeses from ethical suppliers, the set menu is a bargain from £9.95 for two courses or £13.45 for three until 6.30pm.  

We began with a tipple on the stylish terrasse, which is enclosed by potted plants and romantically lit by tiki torches. A gin-based rose martini and espresso martini were an enlivening accompaniment to the trempettes, a basket of sliced warm baguette served with pots of olive tapenade, saffron garlic mayonnaise and sweet balsamic vinegar. If you are a sauce queen like me, you may find it difficult to resist filling up on these even before you have had a chance to decide if a cheese soufflé followed by steak tartare is really de trop.

Though the ambiance of the main dining room is slightly reminiscent of a hotel restaurant, the staff are friendly and the large party in the private area were having a grand old time. In the mood for something lighter than the more traditionally French fare, we started with chilli and ginger squid, served on a bed of grilled courgette and the Mediterranean fish soup with garlic and saffron rouille. The squid was flavourful and tender and the blended soup rich and creamy. A main of seared king scallops was complimented nicely by a mixture of baby prawns and potatoes. The moules frites cooked in saffron mouclade were juicy and thick, served in a copious crockpot with a crunchy side of chips.

For dessert, we shared a puffy effusion of pistachio soufflé with chocolate ice cream and palate cleansing scoops of mango sorbet. The wine list is reasonably priced and though our meal came to around £50 a head including drinks, the prix fixe option ensures you can also dine well on the cheap. Brasserie Blanc provides a sophisticated start to a riverside evening of art or culture- make sure, like Raymond, you share it with friends or family!

Originally published at Eclectic Magazine online. 

Bottomless Brunch at L’Escargot London Review

One of London’s oldest restaurants, the lovingly restored 280 year old townhouse of Soho institution L’Escargot also functions as a members club for an eccentric mix of artists and foodies. The dining room is both luxurious and cosy, with deep burgundy sofas and inviting banquets. A spacious seating plan allows you to feel cocooned in a private tête-à-tête even as you people watch. Lively young couples and groups of friends enjoyed the new bottomless brunch deal, now available every Sunday from 11am- 4pm for £24.95.

We started our all you can eat session rather unimaginatively, though absolutely deliciously, with the house specialty: l’escargots, accompanied by a refreshing French 75 Laurent-Perrier cocktail. Our over-eagerness to excavate shells dripping in garlic and parsley butter may have sprayed the table, but the rather dishy French waiters refrained from passing comment. Instead, they handed us another breadbasket to mop up the gloriously golden-green liquid from our plates.

By the luminous front windows, chef Felicity can whip up sweet and savoury crêpes of your own design, or you can indulge by filling your plate from the buffet with, among other things, beetroot and goat’s cheese salad, smoked salmon and fresh Viennoiserie. We tried the spinach and wild mushroom and berry and maple syrup crêpes, which were bursting with flavour, light and delicately crisp. Full English or ‘full French’ breakfasts are also on offer, though we opted for the roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. It was a classic roast, done simply and well: the beef was tender, the pudding fluffy, the potatoes crispy, floating in a pool of rich gravy sauce. 

For (minutely) healthier fare, a variety of egg specials are available, including omelettes, avocado and poached egg, eggs Benedict, Royale or Florentine. However, that would be rather defeating the point of the bottomless brunch at L’Escargot- we recommend you arrive early, with good friends and a Sunday paper, order a spicy Bloody Mary and share a little bit of everything at your leisure.

 Originally published at Eclectic Magazine online. 

‘After Dark’ on Saturdays at The Botanist, Broadgate Circle

The narrow pavement outside The Botanist in Sloane Square heaves with be-cocktailed patrons in summertime, and their new branch in Broadgate Circle seeks to recreate this see-and-be-seen energy in the City. Designed with a Victorian steampunk vibe, the expansive bar and restaurant gleams with exposed copper pipes, dusky mahogany wood and windows in the walls displaying wine. Tucked away behind Liverpool Street Station in London’s latest dining hub, with other favourites such as Aubaine, Franco Manca and Yauatcha, the large terrace is likely to draw in a buzzing after-work crowd when the weather improves.

The ‘After Dark’ deal on Saturdays offers dinner alongside a bottomless supply of Prosecco, ETM wine, beer or Bellinis, available for two hours from your booking time and accompanied by easy listening from a live band. The modern European menu offers a tempting mix of jazzed-up comfort food, such as macaroni cheese croquettes with truffle mayo, as well as classics like the kilo pot of mussels in white wine, garlic and cream sauce with French fries. The pan-fried fillet of seabass with king prawn and crayfish risotto was crisp and delicate, with firm al dente rice and an artichoke tortellini dish made for a fresh and simple vegetarian option. The Prosecco, as promised, was plentiful and the Bellinis just the right side of sweet.

We finished with a treacle tart with clotted cream and the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch cornflake ice cream, which were serviceable. Popular with an older banker crowd, at £45 per person for two courses or £50 for three, based purely on the value of the food the ‘After Dark’ menu does not come cheap. However, if you are with a large group of swift drinkers that will appreciate the acoustic-guitar strummings, low lighting and chic interiors, ‘After Dark’ at The Botanist makes a good start to your Saturday night. 

Originally published for Eclectic Magazine online. 

'The Natashas' Book Review

'

Explorations of sexual power, force and identity underpin this beautifully written dreamscape debut by Yelena Moskovich. By turns theatrical and surreal, the novel interweaves three stories of fractured souls, whose aspirations either drift tantalisingly beyond reach or have been snatched from them. A sense of depersonalisation is heightened by cultural and linguistic transpositions from Eastern Europe and Mexico into the languorous streets of Paris.

César, a gay actor, lives a lonely expat life working in telesales as he grapples with the toxic masculinity infusing his past. He must not only face it, but embody it in order to win the role of a lifetime: Latin psycho ‘Manny’. Jazz singer Béatrice goes through life as a cipher, her spirit hanging listless in the prison of her beauty. Dubbed ‘Miss Playboy’ and ‘Miss Monroe’, she is desired, used and then discarded by men who soon tire of her silence and stiff touch. Meanwhile, trapped in a windowless locked room are women who arrived in the bottom of boats, the trunks of trucks, lured by fancy cars and the promise of a better life: ‘The Natashas’. They have all lost their true names.

‘In Spanish we have that expression too. But we say la sangre llama’, César translates to his would-be lover Stefan, before demanding that he hit him. Blood’s calling. When the requested punch is not forthcoming, he takes matters into his own hands and strikes Stefan. This mélange of vulnerability, longing and violence is a constant thread in a story that picks up and drops individuals like a series of changing Sichuan opera masks. They may or may not be projections from the characters’ own damaged psyches.

Moskovich’s background as a playwright and training at the school of physical theatre Jacques Lecoq is evident in her use of repetition and sound. It creates a beating pulse to a novel that slips and slides through space and time, unmoored from linear convention: the Natashas’ wordplay hypotheses of ‘papaya’ and ‘foto’; the doo-bee-doo of Béatrice’s voice; a Mexican folk song. Whispers on the wind in Béatrice’s ear say: ‘Polina’, and she is called forth. A mysterious figure who explains to her that ‘there are people who leave their bodies and their bodies go on living without them’, it is not only the trafficked Natashas who are disconnected. A sense of life propelled beyond our control, of characters that brim with destiny whilst being unable to fulfil them, gives a haunting and suspenseful edge to the free-flowing narrative.     

Originally published for Eclectic Magazine online. 

'The Voice Thief' for Eclectic Society

The Voice Thief is a debut short film recalling the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, with all the high-octane drama of a Spanish telenova and the opulence of Pierre et Gilles. Written, produced, and directed by actor/musician Adan Jodorowsky, the film opens in Lynchian style when bejewelled opera singer Naya (Asia Argento) performs for a black-tie audience that in- cludes her tearful husband Noev (Cristóbal Jodorowsky).

Bare-breasted critics in bobbed blonde wigs make note as her husband, transported, has a vision of his wife giving birth to a serpent. The audience exits with silent, choreo- graphed precision. Noev claps wildly.

The following evening, slurping soft-boiled eggs in aggres- sive power suits and fur, the unhappy couple descend into a violent fight provoked by cutting reviews. When Noev throttles his wife, she loses the ability to sing. Begging Na- ya’s forgiveness, she demands he recover it, or she shall kill herself. Thus begins a husband’s psychomagical odyssey through baroque underworlds, on a quest to retrieve his wife’s voice. Revelling in a camp-provocateur Paris filled with drunken transvestites, saints and vagrants, Noev fol- lows the sound of Opera in order to steal it.

His murderous, homoerotic journey through the circles of Hell leads to Naya’s transformation into a series of freaks and eccentrics. Noev encounters, among others, a Bot- ticelli Venus in gold lamé, singing to a group of mastur- bating marauders. She pisses from the female equivalent of a golden codpiece (cuntpiece?) and they drink. These strange vignettes are typical of a sexually deviant, beau- tifully shot film, richly saturated in colour. Full of Catholic and supernatural references, The Voice Thief is an explora- tion of excess, the macabre and the divine, that eventually culminates in religious martyrdom.

In 2015, The Voice Thief was selected to open the Copen- hagen Fashion Film Festival and will continue to play at film festivals throughout this year. 

Originally published in Eclectic Magazine.

If Novels Were Comedians...

I wrote a blog post on if novels were comedians for Audible, where you will soon be able to buy the Low Expectations Audio Book. You can read it HERE.