MIER FOO discusses the digitalisation of the fashion industry. A staggering one billion people now use Instagram. Over 72% of these users purchase a product they viewed on the app. Within seconds, carefully curated content can be propagated through millions of users worldwide. As a result, an increasing number of brands are turning towards social media’s immediacy to promote their advertising campaigns. This pervasiveness of digital media, specifically Instagram, has caused a revolution within the fashion industry, permanently altering the way brands interact with their consumers. Sponsored posts, ‘live’ stories, and endorsement from a rising number of ‘influencers’ has allowed brands to target the millennial consumer market at a substantially lower cost than traditional print marketing. It is safe to say that Instagram has surpassed legacy magazines as the main form of advertising. The media industry titan, Condé Nast, reportedly sustained losses of 120 million USD last year after suffering…Continue Reading

Reformations in Fashion

IMOGEN GODDARD explores the continuing relevance of Chaucer within a modern society obsessed with gossip and an increasing disregard of truth. Chaucer’s most well-known work may well be The Canterbury Tales which is full of hilariously bawdy poems and stories, but his dream-vision poems (written prior to this) tend to have a more serious underlying tone. Take The House of Fame (1379-80) in which he explores the distortion of truth and the dangers of celebrity culture. It remains engaging to the 21st-century reader despite its medieval origin by exploring ideas which are without a doubt of current relevance to us. The renowned House of Fame in the poem is filled with a cacophony of rumour, truth, and lies, all jumbled together and all vying for a position of authority and acceptance. This chaos within the house echoes certain struggles of modern society. Voices speak over one another, people gossip and…Continue Reading

Chaucer and the Distortion of Truth

HELENA WACKO explores the juxtaposition of aesthetics and crude reality in the work of photographer Mandy Barker. Every now and again, an image of sea turtles choking on plastic bags or polystyrene trash littered across shores complements headlines on the growing plastic pollution in our oceans. These unpleasant images have become commonplace to the general public. They are perhaps granted a brief concern by onlookers, but rarely a second look. Mandy Barker’s artwork greatly contrasts this salient indifference which plagues the comfortless images. She has devoted her career to photographing discarded litter from oceans collected from around the globe, ranging from the British shores to Hong Kong beaches. Her photographs are akin to celestial constellations. Plastic debris, which are the principal subjects of her images, are laid out to mimic the faraway asteroids mapped out onto our night skies. Her work, much like the cosmos, are a carefully organised chaos.…Continue Reading

Cosmic Plastic Constellations

NIAMH O’NEILL reviews Wild Nights with Emily as part of SAVAGE’s coverage of Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival.  Completely subverting the clichés surrounding its eponymous poet, Madeline Olnek’s witty comedy about the life of Emily Dickinson holds an important feminist undertone. Wild Nights with Emily is an entertaining albeit outlandish film, which highlights the much-needed rebranding of the famous literary figure. Mabel Todd’s (Amy Seimetz) fairytale-esque narration provides a continual reminder of the prevailing view of Emily, as a social hermit ‘who never went out and saw no one that called’. Todd reminds us to challenge any presupposed ideas we may have of the renowned poet. This quirky and unexpected film makes for an increasingly enjoyable watch, as the audience familiarises itself with the eccentric performances from the main cast. Wild Nights with Emily begins with jaunty violin music, which announces yet another period drama – a genre to which…Continue Reading

Wild Nights with Emily

MARIELLA BOMER discusses educational inequality and non-profit Teach First who are determined to change it. We live in a world of hyper-awareness, of instant accessibility to the latest social protests and outrages that ceaselessly clutter screens, radio and print. But from this commotion we seldom stop to pick out the voices silenced by educational inequality. Every social and political issue we scrutinise or condemn pertains to this problem – directly or indirectly – and yet our country has failed its teachers and their pupils. It’s one of the biggest social injustices in the UK, and its consequences are significant: of the global pool of top performers researched by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) the UK represents 4.9%, compared to the 21.7% of the US. Immediate systematic change is unrealistic; change comes incrementally and from within. The vision of Teach First, a teaching enterprise established in 2002, grasps this perspective…Continue Reading

Educated for Silence

CHARLES STEVENSON, from Fossil Free UCL, recounts the recent activity of the society amidst signs that UCL might finally be divesting. Earlier this term, climate activist group Fossil Free carried out their latest protest at UCL’s investment portfolio: a die-in outside the office of UCL provost Michael Arthur. On Friday 16th November, students marched under a red ribbon intended to symbolise the human and environmental rights violations associated with climate change. The protesters then lay down in solidarity with the victims of climate change. Spokespersons for Fossil Free said the aim was to remind the university of the student and academic bodies’ continued rejection of the use of their money to support the fossil fuel industry. In this way, they hoped to emphasise the urgency of transitioning away from fossil energy in order to avoid climate breakdown. ‘Like tobacco funding health research’ is how Ben Franta, US Climate Activist and Stanford…Continue Reading

Fossil Free UCL: Update

ESME MILLER reviews The Whisper of the Jaguar as part of SAVAGE’s coverage of Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival. In the context of Jair Bolsonaro’s recent victory, a man with an unashamedly hostile attitude towards women, homosexuals and indigenous Brazilians, The Whisper of the Jaguar is desperately needed in the current socio-political climate of Brazil. In opposition to the conservative values promoted by president-elect, the film serves both to express LGBTQ+ pride and to highlight the beauty and current endangerment of the Amazonia. Within this framework, directors Simone Jaikiriuma Paetau and Thais Guisasola explore a myriad of dichotomous themes: the indigenous vs the colonial, the expansion of industrial capitalism vs the preservation of the Amazon rainforest, and sexual emancipation vs historically ingrained female oppression. The plot is introduced by the voice of Ana, a punk musician from the inner city. She is retracing the steps of her late trans sibling, Sebastian, an…Continue Reading

The Whisper of the Jaguar

JASPER NEWPORT explores the decadent party age of the 1920s and its moral implications in Fitzgerald’s literature. The Great Gatsby, perhaps the finest work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, encapsulates the Jazz Age. Immersing the reader in the extreme highs and lows of the time, the novel explores the doomed, tragic-heroic figure of Jay Gatsby as he seeks the love of his past in the decadent world that surrounds him. His story is a reflection of the context that inspired it; America is immersed in the gaudy, outrageous excess of 1922, visible in the rich imagery that catapulted Fitzgerald into literary fame. By examining the chaos of Gatsby’s parties, the extent of the cruel and corruptive wealth of this period is exposed. Readers feel the guilt and damage that decadence exacted on Americans, and understand Gatsby’s futile attempt to be a quiet, noble alternative to these extravagances. Let’s consider the significance…Continue Reading

Gatsby’s Parties: Uproar and Extravagance

CHIARA MAURINO analyses the representation of the environment in Seamus Heaney’s poems ‘Act of Union’ and ‘The Bog Queen’. The landscape has always been a vital theme in poetry. Artists of all ages have looked to their environment, be it natural or social, as inspiration for their works. But all too quickly we tend to associate natural imagery with romanticism, and with the sublime, the spiritual and the healing. We forget, perhaps, how the natural environment tells a story of its own, how it combines and couples with history to give its inhabitants a sense of national identity. Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney portrays the Irish landscape as a victim and an aggressor in his poems, thus exploring the connections between history, violence and the natural environment. Conforming to ancient Irish poetic traditions, Heaney creates an unbreakable bond between women and nature, which critics have taken to be a reference…Continue Reading

Violent landscapes: poetry and identity

ENERZAYA GUNDALAI reviews Space Shifters at Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery. Beaded curtains, mirrors, translucent columns, and shining stainless steel orbs: these are the forms that inhabit Space Shifters. The Hayward Gallery’s recent group exhibition consists of a haphazard circus of repurposed objects. Unified by refined curatorial work, the artworks challenge preconceived notions of form and identity. Featuring 20 artists, almost all of the pieces in this exhibition relate to two major American art movements in the 1960s known as ‘Optical Art’ (or ‘Op Art’), and the Los Angeles-based era of art production, ‘West-Coast Minimalism.’ Artworks from these movements often explore ways of capturing objectivity. Space is warped to subvert the artist’s presence. This manipulation of form and space produces an ambiguity of shape that ultimately gives the viewer the agency to conceive and interpret the artwork. The exhibition spaces are constructed to transform the physical art object into an immersive…Continue Reading

Mirror, Mirror

BEATRICE KANIKA TECHAWATANASUK reviews Birds of Passage, a postcolonial take on the South American drug trade. Going beyond drug warfare and blood splattering, Birds of Passage is a true story about the Colombian narcotics trade that refuses to follow the established formula of the mafia genre. Unlike Narcos (the hit Netflix show on the same subject), the film does not employ glitzy caricatures, artificially fast-paced rhythm nor contrived dialogue. Instead, Oscar-nominated director Ciro Guerra and co-director Cristina Gallego have crafted a nuanced portrayal of the indigenous Wayúu people as they grapple with the challenges of the drug trade. The resulting product is a distinctly postcolonial story – it is refreshing, intriguing, and will not be easily replicated. Birds of Passage is foremost about family and bloodlines. At the start of the film, the Wayúu people chant: ‘if there is family, there is respect. If there is respect, there is honour.…Continue Reading

Birds of Passage

SAYEH YOUSEFI reviews an event at the British Library delving into Sylvia Plath’s personal letters and the light they shed on her as a writer. Decades after her untimely death, the life and works of Sylvia Plath are regarded as one of the pinnacles of literary curiosity. One of the most acclaimed poets of her generation and a pioneer for women writers, Plath’s personal life is often overshadowed by her grave, her public reputation and her, at times, tragic work. In an effort to gain a greater understanding into the life and thoughts of Plath, editors Karen V. Kukil and Peter K. Steinburg have curated The Letters of Sylvia Plath Volume II: 1956–1963. Published by Faber and Faber, this new volume consists of a collection of letters from the later years of Plath’s life, providing readers and scholars insight into her work and personal life. They give a new look…Continue Reading

Triple-Threat Woman