Kirsty Wark presides over the arts and culture jury as they pass judgement on The Look of Love, featuring Steve Coogan as porn baron Paul Raymond; Levels of Life, the new novel/memoir by Julian Barnes; and a major exhibition of photographs by Sebastião Salgado.
The Look Of Love
Director Michael Winterbottom and actor and comedian Steve Coogan collaborate for the fourth time on a biopic about the life and significance of Paul Raymond, the notorious playboy publisher and nightclub impresario who became known as The King of Soho. Raymond – the founder of the Raymond Revue Bar and owner of Men Only magazine - made a fortune through his empires of X-rated entertainment and property, at one point being named by the Sunday Times as the richest man in Britain, but as this film shows, his private life was blighted by heartache and tragedy. Does The Look of Love - which spans four decades, from the 1950s to the 1980s - present us with a portrait of a pioneering entrepreneur who helped to liberalise conservative attitudes to sex in Britain, or a man whose empire paved the way for the introduction of ever more hardcore pornography?
Sebastião Salgado: Genesis
Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado has travelled to 32 countries over eight years to document landscapes and societies untainted by modern life. From the Grand Canyon to the Galapagos Islands and from Siberia to the Brazilian rainforest, the 200 images in Genesis capture landscapes, wildlife and peoples which Salgado regards as ‘pristine’. Described as his ‘love letter to the planet’, does this exhibition - which is receiving its world premiere at the Natural History Museum - make us feel optimistic or pessimistic about the future of our environment? And will it prove as controversial as some of Salgado’s previous projects, in which he was accused of glamourising subjects such as poverty and genocide?
Image: © Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas/nbpictures
Saloua Raouda Choucair
Now in her 97th year, Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair is receiving her first major museum exhibition outside of Lebanon at Tate Modern. Beirut-based Choucair’s paintings and sculptures present a unique abstract and modernist approach to the science and geometry of Islamic architecture, and the forms of Arabic poetry. Does this exhibition of 120 of Choucair’s works introduce us to an important but often overlooked figure in international modernism, and does it prompt questions about the predominance of western art in our major gallery spaces?
Image: © Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation
Books: Levels of Life by Julian Barnes, Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
This month two major authors publish very different memoirs in which they recount the impact of a central figure in their lives. In Levels of Life Julian Barnes explores a deeply personal subject: the death of his wife, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh, five years ago. As is often the case with Barnes, this book is difficult to categorise: is it a love story, a handbook for grief or simply an autobiography?
By contrast there’s no mistaking Maya Angelou’s book Mom & Me & Mom - a straightforward, powerful, memoir in which Angelou, known for her intimate accounts of her extraordinary life, finally discusses the previously elusive figure of her mother, Vivian Baxter. A figure of huge influence both to Angelou and to her wider community in California, on her death the local council named a park after Angelou’s mother. But the mother-daughter relationship was far from simple.
#aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei
Tackling themes of censorship and free speech, The Arrest of Ai Weiwei is a new play by critically-acclaimed playwright Howard Brenton. Based on real events, the play revolves around the imprisonment of the controversial Chinese artist and activist in 2011. Best known in Britain, for his 100-million sunflower seed installation at Tate Modern and the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, Ai Weiwei is an outspoken critic of the authoritarian regime of his homeland, China and often uses his art to comment on politics. A portrait of the artist in extreme conditions, the play explores the power of art to catalyse change in society.
Analogue Versus Digital
In our digital age it would be easy to think that vinyl records, along with Polaroid cameras and cassette tapes, are all formats consigned to the technological dustbin. But the tangible experience of the LP, with the distinctive scratch of needle on vinyl, unique album artwork and ordered tracklist has attracted a new generation of collectors and audiophiles. On the annual Record Store Day, musicians, independent record store owners and music lovers, gather to celebrate a unique musical experience and the beloved vinyl disc.
British Sea Power
Brighton-based band British Sea Power are firm favourites on the festival circuit. Their first album, released almost ten years ago, sold in excess of 60,000 copies, and earned them the Time Out Live Band of the Year Award. Their third album, Do You Like Rock Music?, earned the band a Mercury Prize nomination, and they’ve just released their fifth album, Machineries of Joy. Tonight they perform a track from that new disc as well as some music from their soundtrack to Penny Woolcock’s new film about the British coastline, From the Sea to the Land Beyond.
|Executive Producer||Pauline Law|