Vénus.Not.Valentine

Meet Liédo the giant wanderer who, one mild autumnal night, made a stop to Wolubilis to tell the world the story of Venus.

Venus is the journey of one man lasting several decades. We follow him on his path to exile when he had to leave his country in the brink of war; upon returning thirty years later he retraces his past, revisiting his origins. The two paths will collide and the shock will be violent; the fall inevitable.

Venus evokes the paths we traverse throughout our lives; paths marked by inner conflict, escapism, errant paths: how does it feel  to be a total stranger – even to oneself? A stowaway, hiding from your own life?

It is the story of a man walking, stumbling, kneeling, rising. Liédo is the straw giant with the kind heart and helps us see further, far beyond the horizon, far beyond ourselves; his gaze is a guideline to the scrupulous, fragile, life-long learning process that is Love.

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Vénus is a dreamlike creation by Compagnie l’Homme debout, written and directed by BeNoît Mousserion. Check their website for news because, who knows where Liédo – or one of his fellow gentle giants – will come to next…

Part of the Fêtes RomanesFestival des Arts de la Rue, on 27 & 28 September 2014
Wolubilis, Woluwe Saint Lambert
Brussels

Esio trot, esio trot, emoc no esio trot…

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In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer
Albert Camus (November 7 1913 – January 4 1960)

There is no way you can escape the charm of  this film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ”Esio Trot” by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, directed by Dearbhla Walsh, briskly narrated by James Corden and starring Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman.

The two living legends meet on-screen and you instantly know they were meant for each other. It isn’t so much their brilliant, effortless performances -this has become second nature for them by now- but their obvious rapport, a bond they share that seems to go deeper and beyond the set; and the fact that they seem to enjoy themselves immensely in doing what they do best: acting.

Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman is one of the most endearing, charming, loving couples you’ve ever seen on-screen. Such a perfect match it will have you wonder why on earth did they have to wait so long to start working together.

All the while, they’re being supported by ”Mr Potato-Head-Pringle”, Richard Cordery who gives a perfectly irritating performance, ranging from mildly annoying to downright malicious, the lively narration by James Corden and about a hundred tortoises of various sizes, from small to large to enormous, this touching, feel-good story is your instant pick-me-up when everything else fails.

For Esio Trot is a story about love, an ode to life and a reminder that there is neither age limit nor expiration date to happiness.

It goes like this:

Mr Hoppy is a quite, shy man who lives alone in a nice flat in an apartment block in London

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Besides jazz and fishing, there are two loves in his life: one is his flowers, the other is a secret love he keeps all to himself

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Mr Hoppy is in love with the girl downstairs

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- I’m Mrs Silver. Lavinia. Facebook status – Widowed.
– Ah, my Facebook status is ”I’m not in the Facebook”

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Mr Hoppy is so shy he doesn’t dare ask Mrs Silver out. Fortunately, there are those brief encounters in the lift. Days, months, whole seasons go by and Mr Hoppy loves Lavinia every day a little more… Well, wouldn’t you?

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Yes you would…  And if you found out that the love of your life was raising money for charity at the Dance Marathon, you’d sponsor her for ”a pound-a-minute” too! Mrs Silver danced her socks of for four hours fifty minutes – a true dancing queen

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But there is something that bothers Mr Hoppy: Mrs Silver doesn’t live alone. She did for many years until she decided to do something about it. Now, Mrs Silver lives with Alfie

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She nurtures him, cuddles him, talks to him, reads him stories… she has only one concern: no matter how hard she tries, Alfie refuses to grow

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- One day I’ll find the right food, and the right exercise regime, and the right vitamin supplement…. Then at last we’ll both be happy, wont’ we darling?

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So Mr Hoppy sets about to make Lavinia happy. Because he thought, if he could maker her happy then maybe, just maybe he might be worthy of winning her heart

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Mr Hoppy suddenly ”remembered” an extraordinary tortoise-size-related secret from a Bedouin tribesman: a Bedouin tortoise chant!

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Esio trot, esio trot, teg reggib reggib, emoc no esio trot. Worg pu, ffup pu, toohs pu…
Gnirps pu, wolb pu…

Mrs Silver is to whisper it to Alfie three times a day before meals, without fail. With these magic words Alfie will grow bigger and bigger. Actually, the words are reversed: Tortoise, tortoise, get bigger bigger! Come on, tortoise, grow up, puff up, shoot up! Spring up, blow up… but it ”must be read backwards because tortoises are very backwards creatures. So they would only understand words that are spoken backwards”.

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Mrs Silver: … Gnirps pu, wolb pu… (Well, thank goodness I’m not asking you to sip up anything)…
There’s a lot of pu’s in it…

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So Mr Hoppy puts his cunning plan into action: it involves several trips to local pet shops, frequent dipping into his savings box and the invasion of his apartment by hundreds of Alfie’s cousins that come in all sizes 

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Meanwhile, downstairs…

Esio trot, esio trot, teg reggib reggib, emoc no esio trot…

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By the way, did you know that tortoises love strawberries?

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And once Mrs Silver leaves her apartment, Mr Hoppy springs into action – up goes Alfie 1, down goes Alfie 2. Over the next eight weeks, Mr Hoppy goes on switching ”Alfie” with a slightly larger one, so that Mrs Silver won’t notice:

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Until one day…:

- Mr Hoppy! Something very extraordinary has happened! And quite marvelous! Alfie can’t get through his door! He must have got bigger! Oh you did it Mr Hoppy! You’re my miracle man!

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Mrs Silver invites Hoppy downstairs to see for himself how Alfie has doubled in size:

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Hoppy: I’d quite forgotten it was Christmas!
Mrs Silver: Oh, it isn’t. I just like to get my tree up on the first day of August. What’s the point in getting old if you can’t break the rules?

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Mrs Silver: Can I ask you a question? Would it be alright if I came up later and had another look at your balcony? I think it’s one the Seven Wonders of the World.

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Mr Hoppy: Oh I’d be delighted. Can I ask you a question too Mrs Silver?
- Yes of course.
- Will you marry me?

But before Mrs Silver could answer off went the doorbell, and:

Mr Pringle: Might this little chap belong to you?

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The doubt… the realisation…

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The confrontation… the sadness…

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The forgiveness…

Because:

A man that would go to such trouble to make a woman’s dreams come true, must be very exceptional indeed

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Mrs Silver: The answer to your earlier question is yes. I will marry you. Thank you very much for asking!

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You can read more about The Story Behind The Making, in an interview with Richard Curtis here.
Roald Dahl’s books are adorned by Quentin Blake’s distinctive illustrations. More about the artist and his work can be found here.

Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot (2015)

Viewed on 25 January 2015

The House of Future

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The Futuro House

 

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Pop furniture by Verner Panton

 

Originally designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen for a friend who wanted a mobile holiday chalet. It is made of Polykerm fibreglass and is a rare example of Pop culture architecture from the heroic Space Age, encapsulating the utopian themes of the 60s and 70s, when advances in technique fired the inventiveness of uninhibited creators. With some 60 m² of living space, 8 m in diameter under a 3,35 m-high roof, its design remains revolutionary today. Stream-lined, sound-proof, sustainable, it resists temperatures ranging from pole to equator and can be put up in just 36 hours!

Only about a hundred of these sci-fi earth-designed UFO’s were constructed between end of 1960s – beginning of 1970s. As we can observe from the plan, they come fully equipped and despite their small surface they can actually sleep eight people. Combining futuristic design, practicality and mobility, this could be the house of my dreams:

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From 1968 to 1986, the Futuro house stood on the esplanade at Paris-La Défense where it felt at home sitting in front of the Centre of New Industries & Technologies (CNIT) and the futuristic highrise buildings that were springing up around it. It served as a café, the ”Resto Bulle”:

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Re-discovered by art dealer Benoît Ramognino in 2007, it was refurbished and landed anew inside the enclosed marché Dauphine at the renowned Saint-Ouen Flea Market, where it can be seen on week-ends and Mondays.  Now, instead of modern glass towers and office complexes its neighbours are second-hand bookstores, vintage clothes, antique and bric-a-brac shops where one man’s junk is another man’s treasure:

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What a pity the future those designers envisioned did not turn out to be what we know today as present! Imagine being a nomad and never have to worry about digs. Just pack up the Futuro and ship it to next destination. All you need is 36 hours, a 3m height x 8m diameter and you could call any place on planet Earth your home!

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According to French press, it will remain at the Saint-Ouen Flea Market – at least – until October 2016.

If you’d like to know more about the houses, their history and whereabouts please check The Futuro House website. Although many more articles and websites can be found on-line, this one seems to be kept constantly updated. The Futuro here is not merely an object of design – it is a passion.

Photos by Konstantinos Implikian

Paris, 17 August 2014

Aleah Chapin | More than skin-deep

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AUNTIE  (2011) Oil on canvas, 58 x 38 inches. Won the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2012. ”Auntie” is a friend of her mother’s and was actually in the room when Aleah was born

In the aftermath of the recent Charlie Hebdo insanity that scarred – and scared – our ”civilized” society deeply, I turn to the most effective soul healing remedy I know – Art.

Timeless and contemporary, inspired and  inspiring, fresh, unsaturated – art that can restore one’s faith in humanity. Like the work of Aleah Chapin.

A young artist whom I first discovered on the occasion of her recent exhibition at the Flowers Gallery in London. And while I missed the exhibition I was instantly enthralled by her organic, penetrating and moving art. I think what excited me most is the feeling of intimacy, authenticity and humanism exuded in her every brush stroke.

For her ongoing project ”Aunties”, Chapin painted women she grew up with and has known all her life. She works from photos she composes and takes herself because ”I can see the person as they are, and their personality can come through instead of me imposing an idea on them by way of making them stand in a certain pose for 100+ hours”. The ”aunties” seem perfectly at ease in their nudity, there is playfulness, complicity and a sense of togetherness in every composition.

Chapin paints her friends; she paints wrinkles, scars, nature’s gifts upon the body of those extraordinary women who took their cloths off in the knowledge that their nude images will travel the world. There is a certain bravery and confidence in displaying imperfections, pubic hair and sagging bosoms so nonchalantly. In their way, the aunties remind us that it is okay to grow old; it is only part of the process of being human.

And that’s what I find  incredibly moving about Chapin’s work; in her loving study of the female body, her extraordinary depiction of skin and her beautiful – almost pagan – compositions, Chapin paints women in all sizes, shapes and ages. Women who grow old. Graceful, vibrant, dignified. Real women. Like you & me.

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INTERFOLD (2012) Oil on canvas, 72 x 120 inches

 

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IT WAS THE SOUND OF THEIR FEET (2014) Oil on linen, 84 x 120 inches

 

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ZEPHYR (2014) Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches

 

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STEP (2012) Oil on canvas, 74 x 61 inches

 

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Aleah Chapin in front of THE TEMPEST (2013) Oil on canvas, 82 x 82 inches

Born in 1986, Aleah Chapin grew up on an island north of Seattle. She received her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in 2009 and her MFA from the New York Academy of Art in 2012, followed by a Postgraduate Fellowship. Aleah attended a residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in Germany and in the fall of 2013 she was a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. She has been the recipient of several awards including the Posey Foundation Scholarship and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant. 

In 2012, Aleah won first place in the BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. She was the first ever female American artist to win the award. She has exhibited her work in the US, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. 

Aleah lives and paints in Brooklyn, New York. 

Find more about the artist and her work on:

«Website»

«Facebook»

«Instagram»

ring out, wild bells

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*Oh no … Not them …

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace…

LORD TENNYSON, 1850

*Illustration by Tommy