MIER FOO explores the obsession with beauty and the use of Ancient Greek concepts in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. The Secret History subverts the usual murder mystery plot line. In the very first sentence of the prologue, Tartt’s narrator Richard confesses his role in the murder of a boy named Bunny, alongside his close-knit group of friends. Bunny is described as a handsome, Kennedy-esque young man with aristocratic tastes but without the money to show for it. The first half of the novel focuses on how and why the murder takes place, while the second half is dedicated to the aftermath of Bunny’s death. Most striking is the novel’s obsession with beauty, blended with tributes to classical mythology. The characters view the world of the Ancient Greeks as the epitome of measured beauty and aspire towards their aesthetic ideals. Richard’s hamartia (‘fatal flaw’) is revealed to be ‘a morbid…Continue Reading

Beauty is Terror

ENERZAYA GUNDALAI reflects on the role of technology in art through the Saatchi Gallery’s most recent exhibitions. Nothing can escape the glare of blue light in our digital age. Blue light emanates from every computer, smartphone and television screen. Most will agree that these technologies have become inseparable from our daily existence. Contemporary art has kept pace with these developments. At the Saatchi Gallery, Georgii Uvs utilised ultraviolet (UV) light as a central component in his arwork; within a neighbouring exhibition space, the digital art studio and collective Marshmallow Laser Feast employed virtual reality (VR) headsets in their installation, We live in an Ocean of Air. Both artist and art collective manipulated light through the vehicle of technology in order to shift (and to some extent, control) the viewer’s perspective. Was it the artists’ aim in their use of artificial light to illuminate the direction of fine art in the…Continue Reading

Bluelight

ENERZAYA GUNDALAI presents the highlights of UCL MODO Fashion Society’s 2019 Show: SENSES. Under the railway vaults of London’s Steel Yard, SENSES showcased MODO’s latest designs. But I, along with the enchanted crowd, was met with more than just clothes; otherworldly beings seemed to surface, governing the living realm for a moment or two. Nathan Vandevelde opened with his two-part exuberant series entitled ‘Spirit Jungle’ and ‘Spirit Jungle pt 2.’ Ethereal sea nymphs took their first steps on land in ‘Spirit Jungle’. They moved gracefully across the runway. Four drag queens with their airy gowns and delicate face masks were prominent features in ‘pt. 2.’ Their bodies were spotlit and dressed in shimmery, figure-hugging tunics. Vandevelde’s tribute to the LGBTQ+ community was both empowering and spectacular in kaleidoscopic ways. While ‘Spirit Jungle’ was dramatic and provocative, it was Vandevelde’s line ‘Soul Searchers’ that made its appearance during the second half…Continue Reading

Sense Me

KRISTIE LUI examines works from Hyon Gyon’s solo exhibition at the Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art. Scorched holes in fabric reveal layers of burnt turpentine in Hyon Gyon’s thick impasto paint. Her subjects are abstract and emotional. They manifest in an explosive portrayal of energy which combines the use of Korean textiles, Japanese paper, and haunting symbolism. Hyon Gyon is a South Korean painter who received her doctorate from the Kyoto City University of Fine Arts, before going on to practice in New York City in 2013 where she began her indefinite residency. Encompassing two floors in the minimalist space at London’s Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, her work comprises of both two and three-dimensional artworks. Gyon’s compositions produce colourful motifs of spirits and demons proliferating ceaselessly across an abstract background. Her works often bridge imageries of the spirit world of Korean or Japanese shamanism, with the human…Continue Reading

Incarnate

ENERZAYA GUNDALAI critiques Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Museums are special places of worship for me. Walking through the European temple-like halls and devoting two hours to a single porcelain jar in the Rijksmuseum, for example, is a joyous experience. Contemplating the reasons as to why curators have placed such objects alongside each other is fascinating. Hence, when I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) to see the ongoing exhibition Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, I was ready for an informative, yet playful showcase of a sentimental part of my childhood. I was curious to see how the world’s leading museum of art and design, which houses artworks and artefacts spanning over 5,000 years of human history, would frame these modern-day platforms of entertainment. Seeing how the V&A might add to the growing culture of artistic production within video games is an exciting opportunity for viewers and curators alike.…Continue Reading

All Work and No Play

MARCELA KONANOVA reviews Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde at the Barbican Art Gallery. Laced with elements of originality, Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde offers a unique insight into intimacy in relationships. Paramount figures in European Modern Art explores the bonds that negotiate their creative processes. As opposed to many current exhibitions devoted to the development of a work of a single artist, Modern Couples understands art production as an organic process fuelled by the human connection. The rise of Modernist art styles from the late-19th to mid-20th century is seen as the product of the inevitable collaboration and influence rather than the product of a solo genius. ‘Couple’ is an elastic term encompassing all manner of intimate relationship that the artists themselves grappled with. It was not defined exclusively as monogamous, but inclusive of polyamory, friendship, or any relationship defined by devotion. Each couple brings to…Continue Reading

Love Making Art

RICHARD SANSOM reviews Gaspar Noé’s latest about a dance troupe’s macabre descent into a psychotic hell. Climax is the most recent work in a series of disorientating horrors from the Premier of New French Extremity, Gaspar Noé. Following on from 2015’s penetrating 3D porno Love, his fifth creation is yet another fantastic, woozy nightmare seemingly dreamt up in the menacing glow of Quartier Pigalle. In a grotty Parisian suburb, a troupe of young dancehall glitterati drink sangria in celebration of a successful final rehearsal for an upcoming US tour. Unbeknown to them, the punchbowl has been spiked with acid. As the drug kicks in, the jubilant youths, who had hitherto been krumping and waacking so gracefully, descend into chaos. Over the course of the night, they are contaminated by the substance in a sequence of events that echoes the indelible cruelties of Greek tragedy. We bear witness to homicide, suicide,…Continue Reading

Climax

LYDIA DE MATOS reviews The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos’ unruly take on the period piece. The Favourite is an intense deconstruction of what audiences have come to know as the typical period film. Despite its 18th-century English setting, it comes much closer to Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette than to Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice. There is a distinct sense of anachronism emanating from the modern overtones of this film – characters forgo any sense of formality in favour of screams, swears, and temper tantrums. But what else could be expected from a film whose credits include ‘Nude Pomegranate Tory’ and ‘Wanking Man’? The Favourite is undoubtedly Yorgos Lanthimos’ most accessible film, immediately recognisable as his doing but at the same time an obvious departure from his previous works. This is most likely due to the fact that the director had no hand in the writing of the script, instead working with an…Continue Reading

The Favourite

MAEVE ALLEN reviews Widows, an unnerving heist thriller with feminist overtones.  When four career criminals are killed in an attempted robbery, their widows take up the task they could never complete. Harry (Liam Neeson) and his gang owe two million dollars to grassroots gangsters on the brink of political ascendency. The Mannings brothers are angry. They want their money back. Fulfilling Harry’s plan for a final heist is the only way for the widows to satisfy these malevolent men. In Widows, Director Steve McQueen reinvents the traditional heist movie by plunging these average women in the criminal underworld their husbands operated in. He infuses the film with female power, squeezes in social criticism and sensitively explores grief. Co-written with Gillian Flynn, Widows fizzes with the same tension that made Gone Girl a white-knuckle, lump-in-throat thriller. Brace yourselves for a masterful ride through inner city Chicago. Widows is explosive from the…Continue Reading

Widows

THOMAS NGUYEN reviews M/M as part of SAVAGE’s coverage of Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival.  Drew Lint’s M/M is a modern-day tale of obsession. It follows Matthew (Antoine Lahaie), a lone man living in Berlin. Disillusioned with city life, he spends his days scrolling through dating apps, hoping to break free from his monotonous reality. That is until he meets Matthias (Nicolas Maxim Endlicher), a mysterious love interest who does not shy from his attraction for our protagonist. There begins a game of seduction, as Matthew becomes vehemently drawn towards this young man whom he knows nothing about. The plot comes to life through a vista of ethereal shots of various places in the city, which are the only elements one is likely to remember from the film. A lack of directorial vision makes M/M a lethargic watch, as Lint lazily attempts to scrutinise a worn out concept. Berlin provides a…Continue Reading

M/M

THEO MERTEN-MANCER reviews The Accountant of Auschwitz, a documentary about the recent trial of Oskar Gröning, a surviving member of the SS. A study released on Holocaust Remembrance Day this year found that two thirds of American millennials are unaware of what the Auschwitz extermination camp was. Survivors in their late 70s or older may remember experiencing the Second World War as children, however it seems that details of the conflict and surrounding events are fading from living memory. Matthew Shoychet’s new documentary serves as a contemporary reminder of the dreadful atrocities committed in the concentration camps of World War Two. Beyond this, The Accountant of Auschwitz explores crucial questions of justice and accountability. The documentary revolves around the 2015 trial of Oskar Gröning, a 94-year-old former SS officer who was charged as an accessory to the murder of over 300,000 victims in Auschwitz. His defence is one of moral disengagement:…Continue Reading

The Accountant of Auschwitz

HEATHER DEMPSEY reviews The Daughters of Fire as part of SAVAGE’s coverage of Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival.  In The Daughters of Fire, Albertina Carri reimagines the road movie through a daydreamy prism of eroticism. An unflinching take on female sexuality and desire, the film follows an ever-growing group of women on a cross-country trip through Argentinian Patagonia, and the making of a porn movie along the way. Expanding from core couple Violeta (Carolina Alamino Barthaburu) and Agustina (Mijal Katzowicz), the group can be loosely described as polyamorous lesbians, but the iridescent sexual identities of the women elude restrictive definition in Carri’s radical and intimate investigation of onscreen sensuality. A trip in every sense of the word, the plot veers indiscriminately from reality to fantasy, and through hazy amalgamations of both. Shunning the traditional trajectory of the classic road-trip narrative, it offers no distinct endpoint beyond a half-planned visit to a…Continue Reading

The Daughters of Fire