Friday, 24 July 2009

Exhibitionism and a Definition of Passion.

After the meeting I headed off into Trafalgar Square to see what the latest people on the plinth were up to. I've always loved Antony Gormley's work from the Angel of the North, to the men on Crosby Beach to the static figures that occupied the rooftops of London last Summer, but I can't help thinking One and Other, is a disappointing experience both for those who take up their lonely hour amongst the statues of generals and soldiers and for the crowds who flow through a square disfigured by the huge green pre-fab, used as dressing room, security and administrative hub for the work.
It all leaves the performers standing aloof, out of reach of genuine communion, secured by an eyesore safety net, and marshalled by two stewards in fluorescent jackets and rapid response radios (called into action when a girl in a pink tutu began to throw sweets into the square.) I imagine an hour up there must seem like an eternity, to even the most raving exhibitionist - particularly if health and safety requirements stop you from doing anything dexterous.

It started to rain, so I sought sanctuary at the Curzon on Shaftesbury Avenue and caught the wonderfully tender 35 Shots of Rum by Claire Denis - a fantastic film about a widower father (Lionel) and his daughter (Josephine), coming to the end of her schooling. They live calmly, caring for each other in the Paris suburbs. Whereas most dramas focus on the gap between people, the tragedy of missed communication and the scramble to bridge and maintain relationship at all cost - this piece explores the wonderful overlap when two people genuinely love and care more for the other than for themselves. Nothing is overplayed or sensationalised. It is a perfect hymn to functionality, passion and hope.

The most beautiful image of nurture is of a rice cooker. Unbeknown father and daughter buy each other one, on the same day. The daughter realises first what has happened and, understanding her father's pride and being able to give, puts her gift in a cupboard. The father finds it in the last moment of the film - no confrontation is offered. Instead, unspoken, both acknowledge the stages of this ritual of leeway, and honour its meaning. A gorgeous movie!

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