A Regular Schedule of Regular Disruptions

5 February 2008

Emailing a little with Christine Tomeh about participating in Home Works: A Forum on Cultural Practices, a festival involving performance, video, installation etc., the next edition of which which takes place in Beirut this April. I loved this description she sent:

The first edition of the Home Works Forum opened in early April 2002, coincided with the outbreak of the Second Intifada in Palestine, the second edition opened in late October of 2003, after a six-months delay due to regional upheavals caused by the US invasion of Iraq, the third edition was due to take place in mid-November 2005, again after a 6-months delay due to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in February 2005. At this point the Home Works Forum has (we think) settled into a regular schedule of regular disruptions. This unpredictable dynamic has become a rhythm, a paradoxical routine. Because the practical and political circumstances around our work are always breaking and shifting relevant questions about dislocation and disruption have imposed themselves repeatedly.

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Two days after No Country For Old Men I’m still in an enjoyable shock about how casually at a certain point it throws away one particular narrative tension, and how much (very cruel) fun it has at the viewer’s expense in denying access to a certain scene. (If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what I’m talking about – if not, I’m not spoiling the surprise). In a not-unrelated conversation just after the film M. asked “Oh yes. What did happen to the money in the end? Who got it?” Took us most of the ride home to remember/figure it out, and even then we weren’t totally sure. I loved this sense of certain things (characters, plotlines, events) moving slightly in and out of focus as the film went on. Loved also the film’s mini-theme of very badly wounded guys buying clothes off of strangers for disguise, bandage or tourniquet purposes.

Not Wearing A Shirt

4 February 2008

Ant Hampton sent me info on upcoming London showings of the Rotozaza performance Five in the Morning. It’s next week –  February 13th and 14th – at 7.15pm at the Shunt Lounge, London Bridge. Tickets are £5 – free to Shunt Lounge members. Here’s more info on the show, including a very nice New York Times review.

Also got mail from Michael Thomas of the Chicago based performance outfit Lucky Pierre who says they are “collecting short writings (memories/fragments/ http://timetchells.com/images/analysis) about a big topic, the Vietnam war”. Contributions in the form of writing or images are welcome, and are held anonymously, being gathered on the project’s web-page in digital stream of consciousness/fragment archives titled Collective Vietnam. Here’s one fragment of the text submitted so far:

I have a memory of my eldest brother burning his draft card in our backyard in Kansas City. I don’t know whether this was an act of civil disobedience, a celebration of the war’s end, an empty “high draft number” display, or a false memory. It was summer and he wasn’t wearing a shirt. Or that’s how my memory has it. I was born in 1961 and he was born in 1952 or 1953. That is the only thing I remember about the Viet Nam war. And it might not actually have happened.

For myself I can’t decide which of the fragments from Michael Herr’s amazing book Dispatches I can pretty much quote from memory would be best to send them. Think it might be this one:

I went to cover the war… behind the crude but serious belief that you had to be able to look at anything, serious because I acted on it and went, crude because I didn’t know, it took the war to teach it, that you are as responsible for everything you saw as you were for everything you do. The problem was that you didn’t always know what you were seeing until later, maybe years later, it just stayed stored there in your eyes…

No Punctuation

2 February 2008

Came across this in my notes from a few years back, quoting an interview with Christopher Walken in the New York Times.

When he first started in film, Walken would immerse himself in researching a role, but it didn’t take. Instead, he adopted a novel line-reading technique. When he received a script, Walken would immediately cross out all the punctuation. Nowadays, he no longer has to mark up the pages he just doesn’t see full stops or commas any more. ‘It lets you decide what the important word is,’ Walken says. ‘It might be the noun, it might be the verb. It might be a word you never thought of.’

Walken also does his lines in various voices. He gives me an example. He pretends he is going to the gas chamber and says, ‘I don’t wanna die.’ First, he does it straight, then in what he calls his ‘Mamma mia what a pizza’ voice, followed by that of a Gestapo officer and, finally, in one of his favourites, Bugs Bunny. ‘That’s why I love listening to people with accents,’ Walken says. ‘They’re always emphasising the wrong word, and it makes me think.’

 Searching for the above online I then chanced upon this:

“Sometimes,” says Walken, “in a scene, without telling the other actor, I’ll pretend that I’m Elvis. I’ll just pretend I’m Elvis and the other actor will not know. And it’ll make me smile. Or even just smile inside. I’m doing Elvis and this guy doesn’t know I’m doing Elvis. I do it when things are getting stale. I’ll do it to, like, juice things up a little.”

The full interview of the above quote (from The Guardian, in 2003) is here.

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