Culture Diary w/c 10-02-2020


Our pick of this week’s arts, design, film and music events from around the North of England and the rest of the UK – and loads of it’s free!

Monday – Johanna Unzueta: Tools for Life @ Modern Art Oxford – FREE

Beautiful abstract works in pastel colours (recalling those of Hilma af Klint) abound in Tools for Life, this recently opened exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. The drawings, though, are by contemporary New York-based Chilean artist Johanna Unzueta, and their intent runs deeper than aesthetics. Alongside these geometric works, Unzueta has included installation, textiles and film to explore community, geography, nature and labour practices.

Tuesday – Be Natural: Alice Guy-Blaché 7pm @ Exeter Phoenix – £8

Despite the performance of South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite at Sunday’s Academy Awards, one hardly needs to be reminded that Oscar’s record on diversity leaves a lot to be desired. This screening of Be Natural is a timely one, then, as it introduces us to trailblazing French filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché – the first female director but also one of the first to try their hand at narrative film. Narrated by Jodie Foster, the film includes commentary and insight from the likes of Diablo Cody, Julie Delpy and Agnès Varda; plus, as this is a Birds’ Eye View event, expect post screening discussion between BEV’s Mia Bays and film academic Helen Hanson.


Wednesday – Daughters of the Dust 7pm @ FACT Liverpool – £7

Programmed to complement current exhibition you feel me_, 1991′s Daughters of the Dust marked a breakthrough when its director/producer Julie Dash became the first female African-American to see her film widely distributed in the US. It charts the lives of three generations of women in turn-of-the-century South Carolina, on the island of St Helena. Sheltered from the modern world, these descendants of slaves kept African culture alive. Daughters of Dust continues to be influential, providing the inspiration for Beyoncé’s Lemonade, and a pre-screening talk will further situate the film’s relevance to today’s audiences. Further reading: Mike Pinnington takes an in depth look at Rebecca Allen’s The Observer.

Thursday – Exhibition Opening: Simeon Barclay: Bus2move @ The Turnpike, Leigh – FREE

Across neon, video, wall works and light boxes, Simeon Barclay uses an extremely wide breadth of materials in Bus2move, an exhibition informed by his relationship to dance and his research into it. This thread comes from Barclay’s time spent clubbing, one he followed with a research residency at Leeds’ Phoenix Dance Theatre, to unpick the construction of masculinity, with ‘particular focus on the way popular perceptions and stereotypes become defined, contested and encoded upon the male body’.

Friday – Casablanca 6.15pm @ BFI, Southbank, London – £13.75/£10.20

“We’ll always have Paris…” Just uttering that makes our skin tingle, and we don’t even mind that this stone cold classic cynically returns to the big screen in time for Valentine’s day. Michael Curtiz’ romantic drama won three Oscars at the 1944 Academy Awards, with lead Humphrey Bogart nominated for Best Actor. It is, describes critic Jay Carr, “as much about movies as about romantic adventure. It taps our love of movies, our involvement with them, our dreamy bondage by them.” We couldn’t agree more.


Saturday – Of Flesh and Stone Book Launch 2pm @ Home Manchester – FREE

Back in 2018, Mario Popham and Tom Baskeyfield exhibited Of Flesh and Stone, a show inspired by the large-scale extraction of slate in the hills of North Wales. Now the exhibition has been reconfigured and presented in book form. Catch photographer Popham and artist Baskeyfield this afternoon as the pair introduce and update the project’s themes and progress, alongside readings from the latter’s accompanying book of poetry and prose.

Sunday – Is This Violence? Am I Too Sexy? 11am @ the Wellcome Collection, London – FREE

Join creative developer Tomo Kihara in a game which playfully addresses the growing influence and encroachment into our lives of artificial intelligence. His project Is this violence? Am I too sexy? asks “what is violence and sexiness in the eye of Google’s AI?” Interrogating the effectiveness or over-effectiveness of safe search filters, the game sheds light on the implications of autonomous biased systems’ subjective notions.

Mike Pinnington

Images/media from top: © Johanna Unzueta; Alice Guy-Blaché on the set of The Great Adventure (1918); Simeon Barclay; You are okay sexy © Tomo Kihara

Posted on 10/02/2020 by thedoublenegative