REPORTING ON ART AND FOOD from Troubled Places

Warning : This is a modern-primitive writing website, of impressionist rather than informative character.

Women Can Everything @Laaf. Elis and Tony

We can do it @Laaf. My childhood friend turned Highgate Housewife Elis, teaching Tony to read - what wouldn’t Tony do for a piece of apple?

🌞I🌻W⭐D🌷 and Free All Women March

Today, the eve of 8 March, International Women's Day; and after a year spent in more or less strict lockdown, my thoughts go with my sisters locked by treacherous family members or imprisoned by cowardly regimes in countries around the world.

After a year spent in one or another confinement tire and despite my "golden cage" being glorious London, in more or less sunny weather; and despite having the freedom to walk, run, roam or ride my scooter, or Boris’s bike round and about, nearly, as I wish; and despite the good company of a playing Hawkwind while cooking “cell-mate”; I saw my independence decline. My personal financial situation declined despite Chouchou Richy - read Shoushou Rishi -’s self-employment scheme. Having worked only five months in 2020, I saw my self-confidence and esteem falling freely too. Furthermore, despite my luck to be able to travel to my native Bulgaria and run up and down its mountains, rivers and beaches in the company of old friends and new Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian, Norwigan and Iraqi acquaintances I still have the feeling of not having travelled, met people and encountered strangers enough.

I felt lonely and isolated despite the clear awareness that I am being "alone" together with half of the world locked in the same pandemic situation. And despite the freedom to pick up the phone at any given moment and talk to my friends in Austria, France, Germany; send them and receive books, postcards and birthday parcels. Lately, despite all the physical exercise, awareness and will power I find it particularly hard to control my food consumption, which again affects my self-esteem and confidence; therefore mood; just like last spring my partner found it hard to control his alcohol intake, hence mood.

Thus, today my thoughts go to the suffering in solitude of the princesses locked behind tall walls and closed gates in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; and the simple girls closed in their little bedrooms in Iran; and the women-prisoners of conscience jailed in Saudi, Iranian and other prisons around the world for the simple reason of being women and possibly women with an opinion.

While there are women in this position all women are vulnerable and none truly free; for our, women’s, condition would always be measured and compared - not to their, say Muslim women’s, benefit, but to our, say non-Muslim women’s, detriment.

Therefore, I suggest that we, fellow sisters - brothers are not excluded - freedom and justice lovers, human dignity ecology supports should organise ourselves and march the Free All Women March on 26 of June 2021 - protesting at the Embassies of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran in London in one. The starting and finishing point to be precise near the date.

In the same vain and the same occasion: The Meghan Markle/Oprah Winfrey interview: Nothing can compensate for the loss of Freedom - no love, no palace, no gold, no honours. Actually, the more love, palace, gold and honours one has, the more one - if normal - strives for freedom. Obviously, freedom of speech is one of the biggest and most beautiful feathers of the paradisiac Freedom bird. Having it, often compensates for the lack of smaller feathers of the same bird.

It’s not per chance that I am writing this blog like a mad person: it’s my ongoing, three-turn- four- year Oprah Winfrey - alas free - interview. It’s my personal sacrifice-turn-award for my personal freedom. For freedom, a paradisiac bird as it is, is also - some say a two edged sword - a carnivore predator asking to be fed with one’s own and often one’s beloved ones flesh and blood.

Long live all dutches, nurses, waitresses, queens, policewomen, journalistesses and princesses - not sure about yoga instructoresses though, they go on my nerves.

Happy International Women’s Day

P.S We are not taking the Free All Women March to Buckingham Palace because of solidarity with the Queen, in her capacity of a woman - which is another sort of a monarch by default.

 

News of the Day, 5 March, the Pope has landed in Baghdad

News of the Day, 6 March, Holding Hands - PopStani

If Only

If only all Christians were as...Christian as the Pope and all Shiaits as Muslim as Al-Sistani - what a glorious place the world would be 🌎 ...and much less Gazprom-Communist. Gazomunist is a word as of today - 6 March 2020

Next, the Pope should visit the Sunnis in Mosul.

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'I as a Budget Item'  also known as 'Gov.uk & I' or 'My Home Office Odyssey, season N' under Establishments here 

The Face or the Dangers of An Easy Counterculture

Is becoming a dissident and a countercultural element in nowadays UK as easy peasy as it was in communist times or as it is in ayatollah's lands?

You don't remember how it was then or how it is there cose you weren't then or there, but contraculture was easy in Eastern Europe in pre-Fall of the Berlin Wall Times...it sufficed to wear an ankle long black skirt or a large wooden cross around the neck to be labeled "enemy of the people" and to get stopped and temporarily - not much, only couple of hours - detained at least once a day. It is even easier nowadays in Iran: play rock'n'roll if you are a boy or sing or don't put a mop around your head if you are a girl and you already are.... what do they call it?....Enemy of God? Enemy of God’s Republic? For it is easy to deprive of rights and freedoms or even hang somebody when they are labeled an "enemy" be it of people or of God.

In nowadays London you can be controversial by merely not wearing a mask on public transport.

No mask = ?

How do we call it?

I am writing this because yesterday on my way home from a volunteer interpreting - I’d rather volunteer than do three hours of combined traveling, admin and interpreting for the lump amount of £17 ♧ (this trifle means stick it up your two cheeks you Fat Joke); those who work for the Fath Joke could take an example from Uber drivers and search their work rights. This obviously includes me. Hence, since about two years I am asking up and down (including my local MP’s office) about a free work-rights solicitor, alas with no avail - I saw this … I will call him handsome - I hesitate for now I am not sure was he really handsome or it’s just the eye-hunger -… forty something barefaced man. As in NO MASK JUST A FACE MAN. And I kept staring at him, then started talking to him uncontrollably, as if struck by a Tourette turn glossolalia fit, and eventually took off, momentarily, my own mask to show him my face…

Today I am thinking: Was this deviant? Was my attitude on the DLR as deviant as the attitude of men in Muslim countries who when seeing an unvailed woman feel free to chat her and only few moments later, if the place is relatively quite, show her their penises?…

Dangerous, very dangerous can be the state of affair where a simple piece of cloth - tinier than a hanky - could send one straight amidst the contraculture - as I judged upon the man without even thinking for a second that he might have medical rather than contracultural reason for his… what looked like libertinism - or on the deviant - it’s clear who - spectre.

Note: I wear a mask at all recommended places and don’t have a more - than mask wearing - efficient suggestion in regards to the current health situation. I merely try to describe the effect that mask un/wearing is having on me.

Note to the note: the fact that I’ve written the note above also troubles me lots.

Oh, why is easy contraculture dangerous, you wonder… Because it can never shelter a real achievement. It doesn’t generate genuine changes.

3 March - Bulgaria's National Day 

Take One Picture exhibition artwork displayed on Ocean Outdoor's screen at Holland Park Roundabout, London (c) The National Gallery, London

NG's 'Take One Picture' is Now Outdoors

"While the Take One Picture exhibition had to close in Trafalgar Square after just a few days in line with Government guidance, this partnership will be an opportunity for a much wider audience to see a selection of these artworks. They will appear on large format screens nationwide for two weeks, from 1-15 March.

At a time when the physical spaces of museums and galleries stand silent, we are increasingly turning to innovative digital ways of viewing and experiencing art. The Ocean Outdoor and the National Gallery partnership will bring artworks by UK schoolchildren to streets across the nation. The campaign will be displayed on more than 60 screens in six cities: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Manchester". NG's press release

My Jab Stars and EU's Vaccine Snobism

While Angela Merkel, afraid that her communism cradled body won’t be able to support something as Western as the Astra-Zenica vaccine, is waiting for her Sputnik jab - that comes complementary with Nord Stream and with Gazprom’s special compliments; my 79 year-old mother based on her pre-retirement experience as a biologist in an interdisciplinary team that has two inventions in the sphere of the early diagnostic of cancer, has long ago decided that she wants to get vaccinated with the Astra-Zenica vaccine “because it’s classically constructed”; has taken my 81 year-old father by the hand yesterday and after a two-hour tour around the vaccination centres in Sofia, got lucky at the fourth, which hadn’t yet ran out of vaccines and got the jab. Now the pair of them are very happy and proudly showing off their vaccination booklets.

Bulgaria might well be conjugated as “the poorest country in the EU” by her bullish, more equal EU sisters; but Bulgarians are amidst the best educated people in the EU which explains why almost all my friends in Sofia are already Astra-Zenics vaccinated.

"It's cheap and Germany doesn't want it, that's why we - as in we in Bulgaria - have it" my friends said, went and got happily vaccinated.

According to my mother at Alexandrovska hospital my parents didn't have to wait much - the young people in the queue, "most of them about fourty and younger, let us pass ahead". “Where is your coathanger?” my father asked the doctor “We don't have a coathanger” the doctor answered “but we have electricity and heating with which I am very happy”.

Bulgarians are poor, indeed, but also sane and, now on, Astra-Zenica COVID free.

P.S. My mother asks Angela Merkel to send the unused Astra-Zenica vaccines to Bulgaria, so that my father and she can have their second jab in a month's time.

Conclusion: Whoever drinks pure Siberian gas doesn’t need vaccines also known as the anti-viral Gazprom effect on 26 February 2021.

For more on the anti-viral Gazprom effect watch channel4’s Moscow Noir.

We were wrong to call it "vaccine nationalism". What nationalism chez Gazprom? It's more correct to call it "vaccine snobism" like in the 90s joke about the two Moscow thugs that met while wearing the same leather jackets "How much did you pay yours?" The first asked "$500" answered the second. "You are a fool" commented the first "See I got mine for $1000". Such is Gazprom logic. Such is Gazprom socialism. A whole other level of equality.

I was wrong to call it "Champagne socialism" for it is a "Gazprom socialism" - stinking and filthy(-rich) and Noscow-style thuggish as in Ursula's move to block vaccine exports across the Irish border.

@Soheila Sokhanvari I found this photograph of my previous life, omg so many years ago. I want to also set a record correct, I worked for Cambridge University under my married name, Swanton, I didn’t get my degree from there. I worked as a research Cytogeneticist in the department of Haematology researching adult Leukaemia. I have nightmares about still working there and in my dream I am about to present a talk and think to myself “omg, I’ve been painting all the time, what am I going to present ??” 🤷🏽‍♀️anyways, can you spot the drawing on my table? I couldn’t stop being an artist even then.

Dancing Queen©️ Soheila Sokhanvari. Sketchbook drawing, portrait of Jamileh, 2021, Ink on paper. Jamileh is the stage name for Fatemeh Sadeghi, before the revolution she was one of the most famous international dancers of Middle East and the highest paid cabaret dancer of Iranian origin in 1974. She performed for Onassis and Henry Kissinger as well as other prominent guests. She was born in Tehran, her father was a walnut seller who later became an actor in the local theatre scene . As a child she became proficient in belly dancing and often performed with her father. After fleeing Iran, due to the revolution, she continued her career in LA by dancing through her fifties and only stopped about 15 yrs ago. She is the subject in my “Dancing Queen", 2019, egg tempera painting.@Shoeila Sokhanvari.

Mushroom on My Mind or Essex Road - London's Culinary Red-light District

At the moment when Boris Johnson is setting a good example to the nation by running more, eating less and looking younger and younger with each passing day, my hood is turning into a gourmet jungle.

Admittedly, we've never risked starvation living where we live, but what once looked like a handy convenience now looks more and more like alimentary Las Vegas - even if you've never had food related problems, you may well develop such in its food-traps filled environment.

As if the best baker, Raab's the Baker - now with a new technologist whose low-sugar inventions may proudly compete with the best Japanese patisseries in town - Steve Hatt, the best fishmonger - clams, samphire and swordfish; James Elliot, the best lamb and mint burgers in town and Ali Baba's Cave - called so because it displays "bird’s milk" as goes the Bulgarian saying to describe the accumulation of Iraqi dates, North Macedonian pickled cabbage, South Macedonian sorry Greek κουλούρι, Turkish şeker halkası, Bulgarian краве сирене, Ghanaian Shito fish paste, Indian हरी सब्जी in a jar at one timespacepote otherwise known as the Food Bazar - were not enough; now the dry cleaners have become an Italian deli selling playful aubergines and purple carciofi e cacocciùli frivolously distracted by primitivi, chianti and trebbiani; the print shop had turned into a maaaasssive XXXL natural farm food exhibition hall - called Kazan, how else would one call a gastronomic shop in London’s N1 if not after the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan? - featuring oversized freshly roasted chickens on its windows infusing the air with blasphemous grill-fragrances for the joy of the sweaty pavement runners; and the only art gallery on Essex Road metamorphosed into ... Gigantic - maaaasssive X X XCLIV size -English cheeses and selected English wines shop....

Excuse me, trapped amidst this mad food galore how exactly am I supposed to grow younger? sorry, slimmer despite all the running up and down? No wonder nowadays croissant is the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning and mushroom veloute the last thing I think about when I lay my head on the pillow in the evening.

While P, who after his 7am visits to Sainsbury’s Saturday morning, on his way home has to pass through this two-side parade of bottled bacchanalic spirit starts asking, about 9am, what is the earliest appropriate convenience to open a bottle of wine; to which I like to say “According to the Rushian Ship Etiquette : The first popping of corck happens at 11:30 am”.

Behind Bars,.We Used to Call it a Civilisation, the British Museum as seen on 21 February 2021

The Wrong

The only thing wrong with the British Museum is its fast and tightly shut gates.

Just as the only thing wrong with the Victorian wooden cabinets and the typing machine written notes to the exponents of the Cairo Museum is that the Cairo Museum has vanished and gone.

The only thing wrong with Antony Gormley is what he thinks about the British Museum.

The only thing wrong with what Antony Gormley thinks about the British Museum is that he hasn't noticed that the British Museum is not euro but foodo- centric - with the restaurant being the central piece under its dome and the various cultures - African, Sumerian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Mexican, Inuit - galleries revolving around it like planets around a sun - and there is nothing colonial nor post-colonial about food. Indeed, the love for food is the absolute cultural equaliser; a total civilizational iquity rather than iniquity.

The only other thing wrong with what Antony Gormley thinks about the British Museum is the timing: In the post-George Floyd era equality would mean to stop patronising people of colour by fighting their fights and working out their equality - whosoever has done this prior George Floyd's death has been an activist and well done; whosoever is trying to catch the train now is remarkably late...

Musée du Quai Braanly in Paris is fantastic doubtlessly; but why couldn't it co-exist with the small diamond that was the African Collection at Le Louvre? The disappearance of which from le Louvre is a senseless loss for the Museum and its visitors. I have turned Quai Braanly twice in search for the African gems previously exposed at le Louvre with no avail, and I terribly miss them.

In a similar fashion Musée de l'émigration exhibits interesting collection, but doesn't correspond with the architecture of le Palais de la Porte Dorée which shelters it instead of the initial Exposition coloniale international. Fortunately, the building's architecture itself carries the memory of what was its initial purpose and function.

The British Museum's African collection is a good one - I love the throne made of guns - et je m'en fiche that it is in the basement.

Other than that, deprived of art - I particularly miss the British Museum with its new Islamic Gallery, the National and the portrait Galleries and the Royal Opera - as the most efficient form of self-medication, my poor brain starts giving signs of depression.

21 February 2021

Lockdown or Christo in Lewisham? 28 January 2021 @vaskostefano


LAAF 2020 Favourites 

@saudi_in_london

Weapon of Vice, by Bambi, Pipckerying Street or how the symbolism of a piece of art might change from one day to another during a pandemic, mid March


Shamsia the Clairvoyant, Women By Women exhibition, see bellow. 8 March or couple of weeks before the quaranteen.

In the Times of COVID19

I wonder what France does with its ban on face covering...?

"The bill prohibits the wearing of face-coverings in public places and also applies to foreign tourists visiting France. The law imposes a fine of up to €150, and/or participation in citizenship education, for those who violate the law." Wiki

Other contemporary practice that in the Times of COVID19 strikes a particularly rotten pose is the one of the Admin*-Abattoirs as I call them.

Think of the new Camden Municipality building, the one next to Google at the otherwise so luring new Pancras Square, with the exciting postcode N1C. Or also think of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation HR, the one at Chelsea Harbour (this shamelessly boggling expression of greed that hadn't allowed the growth of a single tree amongst the sardinesquashed buildings...posh? mon queue). I am saying these admin-abbatoirs where up to hundred people are jammed desk to desk with not as much as a cubicle, like the ones in American films, to separate them; and where staff 'meets clients' in massive equally unpersonalized lobbies (overheated or hipper cold respectively), I mean these monstrosities are as a pure health hazard as a chemical attack.

And before my Lady of Elevation, the Starry Badger ** nags me for sueshoutingattea***, which is the contemporary English for unconstructive criticism, I will say : Nay, I am not sueshoutingattea and here is my sconeandclottedcream which is the contemporary English for "having a positive idea nearly solution":

Whenever you've created a workplace for humans - step back, squint your eyes and examine the creation. If it looks like admin-abattoir, start again thinking aesthetics and respect. If aesthetic and respect are incorporated health conditions would be bettered too.

Admin Life Matters.

*By Admin I mean all working for public institutions.

**Caitlin Moran aka CW

*** For contemporary English entry 'sueshoutingattea' follow the link and read N1 ' Yorkshire Tea' here

 

Shield! by Shamsia and Shamsia by Tahmina, at Women By Women exhibition, by ActionAid at OXO Tower, until 8 March

Women By Women and Niqab for Men

An example of strongly talented clairvoyance : Shamsia wears a mask before everybody else. Unfortunately the photos on this exhibition are not dated, so we don't know how much before everybody else exactly.

Shamsia was born as Afghan refugee in Tehran, where the Women-Fearing regime did not allow her to study art (as in addition to Women-Fearing the regime in Tehran is also a Muslim-slaying one - not only it slays Syrians but it also deprives from all rights and dignity the Afghani refugees seeking shelter on its lands).

Today, Shamsia is a street artist, fine arts lecturer and professor in sculpture at the University of Kabul. And hopefully for many a year to come despite all manmade wars and batmade viruses. Else to speak despite all Batmen.

Shield!

By the way, suddenly, in the eternal match Iran vs Saudi Arabia, SA scores yet another goal - Saudi women's gear is more en vogue with the last virus fighting trends. Lately, I am thinking shouldn't we all, women and men, start wearing full niqab?... for couple of months at least. 

Women By Women exhibition, by ActionAid is at OXO Tower, until 8 March


Extinction Rebelion visiting Antony Gormley

Fly now Pay Later - Extinction Rebellion at Antony Gormley

An endearing, lonely extinction rebellionist was a live female sculpture amidst Gormley's Iron Men.


Sea of Tranquility Sea of Plastic by Polite Extinction, @politeextinction

Sea of Tranquility Sea of Plastic

Mare Tranquilitatis is a lunar mare that sits within the Tranquilitatis Basin on the Moon.

Polite Extinction, went to Goldsmiths BA, MA, Museology in Ed, PGCE university of Brighton and is currently in artistic residence at Budapest.