Been a bit of an arty weekend. On Friday we discovered Independent Cinema MK and the Milton Keynes Film Network and on Saturday I discovered a new bit of the Tate Modern. There were some crossovers between the two adventures which were quite exciting and related to thinking about the relationship between environment, architecture and art/culture.
The Shorts Event at MK Gallery was aimed at film makers primarily, although also open to everybody. It started with a short talk by director and producer Rosemary Hill who was giving top tips for documentary film makers. The talk gave some helpful information and advise about the essential ingredients some of which were also useful to think about when blogging.
The first and, in my view, most significant film was “I Love MK: A film about streets sports issues in MK”. It had originally been made in 2005 but was reedited in 2012 and focused on the skater street culture in the town. The film outlined the reasons why MK had become a world renown centre for street sports enthusiasts and some of the problems which this had caused for businesses and the council. It explained how a creative approach had been taken by a range of stakeholders including skateboarders and the council and showed the results which had come out of the whole process – the Buszy.
This theme of looking at location and culture and their interplay has also been something going on at the Tate Modern this month. In the expanded educational and community area downstairs, on the same level as the Turbine Hall, there was an exhibition by the South London Black Music Archive. This is an ongoing project by Barby Asante working with Leaders of Tomorrow to bring together memorabilia and stories related to black music in South London. There were no exclusions put in and so they were looking at all types of black music, as the contributors defined it. This meant the stories printed on receipts, which had been texted in, ranged from people talking about going to see The Fugees to a 95 year old choir master whose favourite hymn was “master speak they servant heareth”.
Both the MK street sports film and this exhibition were excellent examples of how art and culture capture social history and levels the gap between the academics and the people whose culture and history it actually is. Presented in this form knowledge from the street is valued and available to all to analyse and discuss. Whilst it has gone through the gatekeeper of the curator or producer this does not sanitise it in the same way as when it is represented through the academic who claims to have a privileged knowledge and understanding.
Another Tate exhibit which was giving voice to older woman was The Whisper Minnesota Project from Suzanne Lacy. This was located in the Tate Tanks, a new area in the ground area of the former power station. In one room you had a quilt and in an adjoining tank you sat and listened to the recording. It was enlightening and I found it a real privilege to listen to for some time.
The way level 0 at the Tate Modern has been expanded is wonderful. It gives a new feel of rawness and grassroots engagement which is detached from the more sanitised parts of the building whilst still very much being part of the overall gallery. Not sure that fully articulates the feeling that the lower part of the building, (beyond the Turbine Hall), gives but then as with many other spiritual places there is much to do with the Tate Modern which can’t be put into words.
The other films we saw on Friday tended to focus on comedy, apart from Suzanna Raymond’s Shadows, Little changes by James Static and Eternal in Turn which was produced by Independent Cinema MK to accompany the visit of the Boat Project to the International Festival which I posted about in July. My favourite of the comedy films was In Rehearsal produced by Susan Lee which had a slight Calendar Girls feel to it, although Who the Hell Is Alice directed by Penny Bamborough had a brilliant moment within it when somebody who had been taken for a weekend away with a new date discovered she was on a CU retreat style thing….was a genius moment.
As you can tell I’ve enjoyed engaging with the arts and as usual engaging with them on a shoestring. Entrance charge to get in to the evening of shorts was cheaper than a trip to normal cinema and the bits I saw at the Tate Modern (which also included Otobong Nkanga’s Contained Measures of Shifting States installation) were free. That’s one thing I love about art and the way we have it in this country – doesn’t matter how skint you are you can enjoy it. I think that’s something important and whilst I think some changes will inevitably happen as a result of the recession I hope this affordability doesn’t disappear, although stories such as this Journal article explaining how Newcastle Council are proposing 100% cut in arts funding show how uncertain this is.