JEAN WATT explores the performance of reading and social aspirations to appear ‘well-read’.  I am one book behind schedule on my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge. The app smugly informs me of this fact as I decide to give up half-way through a book I had stopped enjoying. I feel panicked. To get back on schedule I have to quickly read two books to ensure that I don’t fall even further behind. I eye up my bookshelf, trying to select something that’s not too long. My only consideration is the speed at which I can finish it. I ask myself if I have stopped choosing books for my own enjoyment. If reading isn’t for me anymore, then who is it for? I downloaded Goodreads a few years ago. The app allows you to create reading lists, record books you’ve read, want to read and are reading. I’m a big reader when…Continue Reading

On Performative Reading

ISABEL JACKSON details the ongoing struggle and persecution of the Rohingya.  Despite being ‘the most persecuted minority in the world’ according to the UN, the Rohingya receive an almost negligible amount of coverage in Western mainstream media. The Rohingya people are a Muslim minority ethnic group in Myanmar, who have been routinely discriminated against and terrorised by the Buddhist majority state. This continues despite the fact that the Rohingya have existed in the area for thousands of years. This hatred towards them culminated in what was effectively a genocide in 2017. Now they are left without future prospects or a nation to call home, forced into dependency on limited foreign aid. To outsiders, the problems facing the Rohingya may appear to have diminished since 2017. Yet this is far from true, with the Rohingya needing action and change now more than ever with the onset of COVID-19. At the start…Continue Reading

Rohingya: Stateless and Neglected

GABRIELA FOWLER explores her mixed race identity, reflecting on the racism experienced by her family and what it means to be anti-racist.  I once told an ex-boyfriend that I wasn’t comfortable with his racist jokes, that I didn’t find them funny, and not that it should matter, but that I was mixed race. His reply? ‘Well, you’re not really.’ ‘My mum is from Mauritius, a tiny tropical island off the east coast of Madagascar,’ is a sentence I’ve become used to repeating, a glossy way of labelling my racial and cultural identity. I use it when someone sees a photo of my family, saying ‘Wow! Your mum is so dark!’ Or when I’ve been out with my cousins, and we run into one of their friends who can’t believe we’re related. We usually laugh off the discomfort, joke about it, ‘Yeah, well I do get pretty tanned during the summer,’…Continue Reading

“You’re Not Really”

OSCAR CRABB is an artist in his third year at the Slade. Working mostly in textiles, he explores sustainable practices and uses art as a means for political discussion. JEAN WATT interviewed him about his practice, how he’s staying creative at the moment, and how this lockdown period might affect his future work.  What have you been working on at the moment?  I haven’t been able to make any of my usual work, so I’ve been mostly planning what I could do when I’m able to access my materials again, as they’re currently locked inside my studio at the Slade. In the meantime I’ve been doing some weaving at home on a loom, drawing and a bit of writing, just trying to keep up momentum.  And what else have you been doing day to day?  Cooking, lots of cooking, making cocktails…  Tell me more!  I’ve been trying out some new…Continue Reading

Interview: Oscar Crabb

INNOKA BARTLETT interviews artist Aysha Almoayyed regarding her exhibition piece at the ArtBAB Pavilion. Aysha Almoayyed’s Lost Paradise was showcased at the 2019 Art Bahrain Across Borders (BAB) Pavilion as part of Bahrain’s International Art Fair that took place in March – Manama, Bahrain. Displayed in the pavilion were selected works by thirty of the most creative Bahraini artists. Born in 1988 in Manama, Bahrain, Aysha Almoayyed studied Marketing at Bentley University. She then completed her MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths University. Experimenting with mediums including drawing, photography, and installation her artworks explore societal forces in Bahrain and the transformation of the artificial and natural environment. Almoayyed is the youngest recipient of the most renowned art award in Bahrain, the Al Dana Prize. She shares her opinions on contemporary art in Bahraini culture: –Your work is featured in the ArtBAB Pavilion – what is your interpretation of this idea of ‘Bahrain Across Borders’, and how…Continue Reading

In Conversation with Aysha Almoayyed

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

PHYLLIS AKALIN reviews Beautiful Boy, Felix Van Groeningen’s testament to the Sheff’s family story. Based on the life stories of Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) and his father, David Sheff (Steve Carrell), Beautiful Boy vividly portrays the struggles of addiction and recovery. Building from the memoirs of both, director Felix van Groeningen provides an intimate and authentic insight into a family life which has been tainted by the son’s addiction to crystal meth. Set in the stunning scenery of sunny California, the film follows David Sheff’s relentless efforts to understand and assist Nic. Flashbacks to Nic’s complex childhood, stained by his parents’ divorce, alternates with scenes from his late teenage years. We witness both David’s sleepless nights, burdened with paralysing fear for his son, and Nic’s cycle of recovery and relapse. This tumultuous father-son relationship forces us to question if one can ever love someone else enough to save them from…Continue Reading

Beautiful Boy

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


HEATHER DEMPSEY delves into the cult of ‘bad films’ through the example of Tommy Wiseau’s famously mediocre take on the love-triangle. ‘Right, I’m just going out to get some spoons, and then when I get back we’ll go over the rules.’ With this perplexing statement I was left standing bewildered in the kitchen of my flat, clutching a G&T, wondering what exactly I’d agreed to participate in as I heard the click of the closing front door. It was the long-awaited evening of our flat night out to one of the Prince Charles Cinema’s infamous screenings of The Room, the inexplicable cinematic clusterfuck spawned by Tommy Wiseau. Widely acknowledged as the ‘so bad it’s good’ film to rule them all, it has accumulated a sizeable cult following since its 2003 release. In 2009, the fan-favourite cinema, much loved for its themed all-nighters and special screenings, begun hosting Rocky-Horror-style participation showings…Continue Reading

The Room at The Prince Charles

DANIEL LUBIN covers Elizabeth Rosner’s talk at Jewish Book Week 2019. This year will mark 74 years since the end of the Holocaust, nearly a lifetime. Its legacy is prominent: in textbooks, in memorials, and, for some, in memories. But where else does the Holocaust linger? American writer Elizabeth Rosner addressed just this issue and more while discussing her 2017 book Survivor Café with psychotherapist Jane Haynes at Jewish book Week. Rosner engaged with not just the vivid ways in which the Holocaust survives in the consciousnesses of those directly or indirectly affected, but how trauma is universally inherited across generations. Rosner is consistently calm and articulate while discussing deeply personal histories that are not easy to carry. Born and raised in New York, she is the child of two Holocaust survivors. But ‘survivor’ is a term she uses in want of a better word. Much of Rosner’s discussion highlights…Continue Reading

Survivor Cafe: The Legacy of Trauma

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