Two Ways of Seeing: Review of Exhibitions by Kazimir Malevich and Dennis Hopper
Tate Modern is currently home (until 26 October) to a major Malevich retrospective, the likes of which has not been seen in Britain before, while at the Royal Academy there is an exhibition of over 400 photographs taken by Dennis Hopper and on show in Britain for the first time. Malevich and Hopper are both regarded as radical figures who challenged convention but their differences outweigh any perceived similarities. This is not down to painting and photography being different art forms but to the uncrossable gulf between someone who revolutionised the nature of art and someone who happened to be around at a time of social change and captured aspects of it with a camera.
Malevich experienced the October Revolution and then enacted it artistically, dramatically tearing down the old canvas and inaugurating a new way of representing reality. But like most such sweeping summaries, it occludes the history that leads up to a significant moment, washing it over with a rhetorical flourish that rinses out a meaningful understanding. What distinguishes the Tate retrospective is its resolve to show Malevich developing as an artist in a particular place, Russia, and at particular times, from pre-revolutionary tsarism through to Stalinism.
Born in 1879 into a Polish family in Kiev, Malevich travelled to Moscow as a young man, discovered impressionism, saw the work of Van Gogh, Gauguin and Matisse and began to develop his own style of painting while still feeling he had to speak the language of the western avant-garde. This shows in his Self-Portrait of 1908-10 which takes from Gauguin a compositional ploy which positions the image in front of a painting – a just discernible scene of bathers in this case – while presenting himself as dapper and urbane. Room Two of the exhibition shows him as an artist drawn to Russian themes and styles, painting rural workers using simple forms and expressive colours to portray their hard-working, honest lifestyles. The Scyther of 1911-12 reveals the influence of modernism without sacrificing allegiance to a Russian cultural identity. The figure is barefoot, as poor peasants would have been, set against a warm red background signifying the rye harvest; the farmer’s form and mass is far from traditional representational art but the word for the colour red in the Russian language also denotes something beautiful (hence, Red Square) and this is also part of the painting’s iconography.
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Progressive Film Club
Saturday 22 February at the New Theatre ·
43 East Essex Street · Dublin 2
2:30 p.m. Dream Apocalypse (UK)
Dream Apocalypse tells the poignant tale of what it is like to be a student in England today. We follow Joel Muckett’s life experiences and his hopes of hanging on to his dream of going to university, in spite of his disillusionment with the commodification of higher education. The increasing cost may put this education beyond his means, and his dream may be a dying dream. This is Ismael’s first film. ¦ Directed by Ismael Ahmed (University of Bedfordshire). Running time: 10 minutes.
2:45 p.m. The Colour of the Soul (India)
A documentary that seeks to address the principles on which the caste system in India is based. The social system is not without controversy and paradoxes. In India, birth has a colour. ¦ Produced and directed by Alberto Martos (Spain). In Spanish, with English subtitles. Running time: 47 minutes.
3:45 p.m. National Identity (France)
In France, for more than thirty years, foreign nationals have accounted for about 20 per cent of the prison population, even though they represent only between 6 and 8 per cent of the total population. This over-representation is explained by political choices since the end of the 1970s, particularly the repression of immigrants. National Identity spotlights the plight of former foreign-national prisoners who were sentenced to deportation after prison, which amounts to a double punishment. In the film there are interviews with victims of the system, justice professionals, and politicians, with analyses by research workers. A little-known side of the French state’s relationship with foreign nationals, many of whom hold French passports, is revealed. ¦ Produced and directed by Valérie Osouf (Granit Films / Divali Films). In French, with English subtitles. Running time: 80 minutes.
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In the autumn of 1913, as the social and political maelstrom of the Lockout raged around them, legendary union leader James Larkin faced his nemesis William Martin Murphy across a conference table in Dublin Castle. It was here, in the seat of British power in Ireland, that the two men passionately articulated their respective visions for the coming Irish state.
With the centenary of the Lockout having passed, THE INQUIRY ventures beyond the rhetoric to offer a compelling account of the Askwith Inquiry, a seminal event in Irish history never-before presented on the big screen.
The film steps back from Dublin’s seething streets to explore the complex personalities and ideologies of key figures such as Larkin (Stephen Murray), Murphy (Bosco Hogan), James Connolly (Patrick O’Donnell) and Timothy Healy (Gerry O’Brien). Shot in crisp black-and-white, THE INQUIRY captures the political ferment of a country on the brink of a decade of violence, through powerful performances and a gripping narrative thrust.
See The inquiry @ the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
The Lighthouse Cinema
Saturday 22nd of February
12.30pm – Screen One
Photo credit: Kate Bowe O’Brien
The Inquiry – Official Trailer JDIFF ’14 from DCTV on Vimeo.
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At the Galway Film Fleadh, which takes place annually in July, a film called The Runner caught my eye. The short blurb promised the story of a long distance runner that competed under the flag of a country that did not exist. That country is Western Sahara and that runner is Salah Hmatou Ameidan.
The screening served as the film’s premier- with Salah and director Saeed Taji Farouky present. After the screening the two took questions; Saeed, a Palestinian, who has picked up a bit of his current London home in his accent and style and Salah, who carries the gauntness of a soldier balanced by his athleticism. The next day we met to talk about the film and the situation in Western Sahara.
I talk through Saeed, who translates for Salah and myself, though the subtle differences between Salah’s Sahrawri Hassaniya Arabic and Saeed’s Eastern Levantine Arabic sometimes make things difficult. They met in London and as Salah tells me their origins in struggle brought them together, though he uses sport and Saeed uses his camera to fight oppression. Saeed first visited Western Sahara with Salah to film the 30th anniversary of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic declared on the 27th of February, 1976. Western Sahara is Africa’s last colony, the territory originally colonised by Spain was handed over to Morocco and Mauritania who made historical claims to the lands.
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Guests of Another Nation, the independent documentary by John Fleming and Mark Stewart, is now available on YouTube.
Shot over six short, dark and bloody cold days in December 1987 this half hour film, which aired on RTE in August 1989, looks at the young Irish in London in the 1980s.
Over its 27 minutes, the film locates various subjects as anything but the successful role models the Irish media at the time was selling as part of a need to be positive about emigration. Arguably far more accurately, it paints the Irish migrant in London more as a lost and lonely outsider driven by something other than economics. The tone is wistful, melancholic and unsettled. A time capsule in whose favour Ireland has once more unfortunately turned.
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Meeting Room, the 2010 documentary film by James Davis and Brian Gray about the Concerned Parents Against Drugs movement is now available on YouTube.
As Padraig Yeates, author of Lockout: Dublin 1913 and one of the contritutors to the films says: “This film rescues one of the most important social movements in Dublin’s history? from oblivion.”
The following is taken from a press release to announce it's showing in the Dublin International Film Festival in 2010, posted on Cedar Lounge Revolution.
“The film shines a powerful searchlight on a controversial moment in recent Dublin history. Meeting Room tells the contested story of the Concerned Parents Against Drugs movement from its emergence in Hardwicke St and St Teresa’s Gardens in the early 1980s to its decline with the imprisonment of some of its leaders at the end of that decade. The film includes an interview with Tony Gregory and features Christy Moore, John ‘Whacker’ Humphries, Bernie Howard, Mick Rafferty, Padraig Yeates, Chris McCarthy and Fr Jim Smyth.
CPAD began in response to the explosion of drug addiction in Dublin in 1982. A lack of action from the authorities meant that residents of the flats complexes where heroin was available were on their own. A mass movement was born in response and dealers were confronted with meetings, patrols, checkpoints and late night evictions. These tactics saw the movement spread throughout the city.
But CPAD’s direct action strained its relationship with the authorities and the media. Charges of vigilantism and republican infiltration dogged the movement and undermined it. Hostility in the press, prosecution in the courts and a violent response from criminals was all balanced against successfully tackling the dealers as the movement rose and fell during the 1980?s in Dublin.
Beautifully shot by Palestinian American artist Nida Sinnokrot, Meeting Room reconstructs the social history of CPAD through archival newspaper, film and photographic sources and through the voices of those who participated.
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Progressive Film Club News
Cuban Film Day At the New Theatre · 43 East Essex Street · Dublin 2
Saturday 27th July 2013
Our next presentation is on the 27th of July when we celebrate Cuba National Day, with three films which are having their first Irish screenings. We have decided to dedicate the day to the memory of Bernie Dwyer. Bernie, a journalist and film producer, worked tirelessly in defence of the Cuban Revolution, particularly with regard to the quest for the release of the Cuban Five (also known as the 'Miami 5'). Her research on aggression and terror directed against Cuba was the subject of her two films: Mission against Terror and The Day Diplomacy Died.
El Ojo del Canario [The Eye of the Canary]
The Eye of the Canary deals with the early life of José Martí, the hero of Cuban national independence. The film is described as “a look into the inner world of José Julián Martí Pérez and the formation of his character as a fair man” and “not a biography, but rather a spiritual journey.”
The director explains: “José Martí was a truly sensitive man who marked the history of Cuba. But he was also a normal human being, like any one of us. I think that is what makes great men great. My film will delve into the day-to-day complexity that helped form Martí’s character during his childhood and teenage years.
The point of view will lean more towards the personal than the historical; more subjective than biographical. Each Cuban has their own Martí.
In this film, I would like to express my own.”
Directed by Fernando Pérez. In Spanish, with English subtitles.
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Progressive Film Club Update
Firstly, we would like to thank all of you who supported our recent fundraiser. We didn't get a full house but what we received will help pay off some debts. Unfortunately the screenings coincided with one of the nicest days, so far this year. We would also like to thank all of you who support us with donations throughout the year and who come along to our shows.
We are back again with our normal free screenings and this month we have two shows within a week of each other
Please, please, please note that the screenings are at different venues.
The Condition of the Working Class
Followed by Q&A with the film makers
Saturday 22nd June 2013 – 3pm
in The New Theatre, 43 East Essex Street, D2.
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This was originally published on Raymond Deane’s blog, the Deanery on the 16th of May.
As everyone knows by now, The Gatekeepers is a 2012 Academy award-nominated documentary film made by the Israeli director Dror Moreh. Moreh succeeded in interviewing the last six heads of Israel’s General Security Services, better known by its Hebrew acronym Shin Bet. These gentlemen display considerable frankness about the nature of their past activities, their belated advocacy of a two-state solution to the Palestine issue and their negative views of successive Israeli governments.
It’s not my purpose here to write another review of this much talked-about but surprisingly uncontroversial film. Interesting articles, both of which discuss it in conjunction with the Israeli/Palestinian film 5 Broken Cameras, may be read here and here. Instead, I wish to reflect on some worrisome aspects of the film’s framing and reception in public discourse, and to suggest that its propagandistic effect is dependent on such framing.
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Progressive Film Club – at the New Theatre · 43 East Essex Street · Dublin 2 · Saturday 27th of April
Labour Rights and Immigrant Workers
Admission free. (Donations welcome.)
Living as Brothers (2012)
Living as Brothers looks at the lives of Jamaican migrant workers toiling in the orchards of Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada. In their own words, these men, some of whom have been returning for more than twenty years, tell of the second life they have created for themselves in Canada, the reasons for their making this journey, and their struggles at home in rural Jamaica. Told over a season of picking fruit, their story is arduous, stressful, and precarious, one that offers few second chances. · Produced and directed by Kevin Fraser.
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Progressive Film Club at the New Theatre · 43 East Essex Street · Dublin 2
Venezuelan Stories: In honour of Hugo Chávez
Saturday 13th of April
Admission free. (Donations welcome.)
Tocar y Luchar [To Play and to Struggle] (2006)
The captivating story of the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra System—an incredible network of hundreds of orchestras formed in most of Venezuela’s towns and villages. Designed to bring the wonders of music to rural children, the system has become one of the most important, and most beautiful, social phenomena in modern history. To Play and to Struggle is an inspirational story of courage, determination, ambition, and love—a fitting tribute to the memory of Hugo Chávez.
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The following are the upcoming showings this saturday, but check out the full program for February, March and April here.
Saturday 23rd February: Urban Finance and Suburban Sustainability
The New Theatre • 43 East Essex St Temple Bar • Dublin 2
2pm: The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream (2004)
Since the Second World War, Americans have invested much of their new-found wealth in suburbia. It promised a sense of space, affordability, family life, and “upward mobility.”
As the suburban population exploded in these years, the suburban way of life become embedded in the American consciousness: it became part of the American Dream. But as we entered the 21st century, serious questions began to emerge about the sustainability of this way of life.
- Directed by Gregory Greene.
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1. Motivation and history of the movie
Marxist theorists, beginning with Marx himself, did much to illuminate how capitalism moves, to reveal its laws and demonstrate the necessity of its replacement by socialism, when it becomes a hindrance to historical progress. This criticism was always applied “from outside”, starting from the class position and perspective of the proletariat, the class destined to overthrow the capitalist system, and aimed at orienting the actions of that class towards the directions dictated by the broader social conflicts of each period. In his latest film, “Le Capital” (“Capital”), Costas Gavras –Karim Boukercha and Jean-Claude Grumberg also contributed to the screenplay– proceeds to give a catalytic criticism of capitalist globalization from within, a criticism which, though not focusing directly on the social and class struggles of our time, is still, in its way, highly penetrating and effective.
“From within” in no way implies that Gavras contents himself to show the decay and corruption of the world of capital, to write the record of its decline and to highlight its manifestations in the lives of its representatives. All these things certainly abound in his film. Yet had he limited himself to that, it could result to an improved version of soap operas like Dynasty, even making the representatives of capital likable within their degradation. The film is mostly an anatomy of capitalism’s general objective motion, taking an X-ray of the banking and finance system, whose impunity triggered and impels the current global economic crisis. But if Marx had presented the inexorable logic and inevitable results of this movement using the objective language of science, here its reality is refracted through the artistic prism in a realistic representation of the world of its actors, the leaders of modern capitalism.
Gavras is undoubtedly not only an extremely gifted, but, in the best sense of the word, a militant filmmaker whose entire work contributes positively to the understanding of the conflicts and meaning of our times. In “Le Capital” we can see though the climax of his creativity. Having started from uncovering authoritarianism, anti-democratic aberrations and conspiracies of the holders of power, the engagement of the state with para-state apparatuses, etc. in films like “Z” and “Missing”, he ends up here capturing and reconstructing the molecular processes of capitalism which inevitably generate these results. A look at the occasion and history of the film, as recounted recently by the director himself in an interview he gave to the Greek newspaper Vima, will better clarify his intentions and motives.
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Details of Upcoming Screening – Next Saturday – 26th January
To mark the centenary of the 1913 Lockout, the Progressive Film Club plan, throughout 2013, to include films on the themes of labour struggles and workers rights.
We kick-off , on the 26th of January with our first screening of the year, which features two films about factory occupations, one in Argentina and the main feature, which is set here in Ireland. The Argentinian film “The Women of Brukman”, tells of the take-over, by the workers, of a clothing factory, which had been abandoned by the owners.
The main feature “161 Days”, recounts the story of the workers in another clothing factory but this time, here in Ireland. After their agreed redundancy payments had not been met, the Vita Cortex workers made a decision to occupy the factory, which they did for 161 days, making it one of the longest industrial disputes in Ireland. This will be the first public screening of the film in Dublin.
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