A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), elegant New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) moves into her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) modest apartment in San Francisco. Jasmine is in a fragile mental state and depends on anti-depressants and vodka. She doesn’t cope well with her undesired new life and still behaves like an aristocrat, and calls her sister’s boyfriend and ex-husband ‘losers’. She reluctantly works as the receptionist in a dentist’s office, with a improvised goal to study to be a successful interior designer with her sophisticated taste. One day, Jasmine meets Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a diplomat who is quickly smitten with her beauty, sophistication and style, and finds a hope to get back to high life. However, her lies about her past lead to another catastrophic blow to Jasmine.
This comedy-drama hilariously but painfully portrays fall of a woman who had everything but lost everything except her pride. I was annoyed with Jasmine’s arrogance at the beginning but gradually started to feel sympathy and to pity her. She is forced to live like an ‘ordinary’ people that causes her a nervous breakdown, but she tries to cope with hardship in her own way though a bit clumsy and bit unrealistic. Cate Blanchett did play the role perfectly, and I can’t think about any actress who can do better than her. Also I am impressed Woody Allen as a man, can perfectly describe woman’s nature – closing one eye on her husband’s infidelity and illegal activity or telling a ‘little’ lie to protect her own happiness. I give this film a 5-star.
I didn’t go to Angel’s cinema Screen on the Green (past blog) for a long time, and during the break, the cinema has become a part of Everyman Cinemas. Accordingly, comfy sofa seating called ‘Premier Seat’ is introduced at the last two rows, and there you can enjoy a film like you are in your living room, with extra £2.00. There is a café/bar at the back that serves you a refreshment at your own seat. The cinema is also recommended.
Two popular American burger chains, Shake Shack and Five Guys, opened their first UK venues, both in July this year and both in Covent Garden, only few minutes away with each other, coincidentally or not. We lived in US before we came to UK and miss American burgers (I can’t explain, but something is different from British counterpart), so we tried them both.
First, Shake Shack from New York, started in 2004 as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan. It was named “Best Burger 2005” by New York magazine. As of 2013, the chain has 20 restaurants in USA and 9 international locations including London.
London brunch is located at the heart of Covent Garden in the Market Building. There was a cue to order, but it moved quite fast. You don’t have to wait at the counter to pick up your food – you are given a small device that beep when your food is ready at pick-up counter outside. Very practical system. They have huge seating area inside the Market where you can feel al-fresco but protected by the roof, as well as smaller space on the other side, outside the building. Plenty of seats so that you don’t have to dash when you spot an empty table.
As you can imagine that the chain is from design-conscious New York, their logo and food packaging are cute, as well as the presentation of the food such as simple white grease-proof paper wrapping and silver tray. Healthy food is important for health-conscious New Yorkers, like Londoners. Their burger is made of freshly grounded 100% all-natural Angus beef cooked medium, and you can add lettuce, tomato, pickle or onion on your choice. Single size is rather small, so choose double if you are hungry. Their fries are 100% free of artificial trans fats and cooked in 100% soybean oil. Their burger with traditional soft bun is fresh and juicy, and real American. I like it.
テートモダンの「William Klein + Daido Moriyama」（10月10日〜2013年1月20日）展は、アメリカ人フォトグラファーで映像作家のウィリアム・クラインと、1960年代の「プロヴォーク」ムーブメントで名を上げた森山大道という二人の写真家の、1950年代〜現代までの作品を展示。スナップショット、ブレやボケの意図的使用、粒子の粗いモノクロ写真といったヴィジュアル的に似た作風、そして、都市の貧困やグローバリゼーション、反戦デモやゲイ・パレードといった、人々の日常生活や政治的抗議行動を作品対象とするなど、共通点の多い二人の作品が同時に鑑賞できる。また、写真のみならず、グラフィックデザインを取り入れた、パイオニア的作品も展示されている。
Tate Modern’s “William Klein + Daido Moriyama (Oct 10 – Jan 20, 2013)” is double retrospective of the influential American photographer and filmmaker William Klein and Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama who merged from Japanese Provoke movement of the 1960s. With work from the 1950s to the present day, the exhibition demonstrates the visual affinity between their urgent, blurred and grainy style of photography and also their desire to convey street life and political protest, from anti-war demonstrations and gay pride marches to the effects of globalisation and urban deprivation. The exhibition explores not only photography itself but also pioneering use of graphic design to their works.
First seven rooms showcase Klein’s street shots in his native New York as well as Tokyo and Rome, fashion shoots, early paintings incorporating typography, photograms, satirical films of Mister Freedom and Who Are You Polly Maggoo?, and painted contact sheets, to prove his diverse talent as abstract painter, filmmaker, documentarian and graphic designer. Unlike Klein’s wide-ranging works, Moriyama’s 6 rooms after Klein’s focus more on photography, especially his well-known cityscapes of Tokyo, as well as scenes from the various routes and highways throughout Japan, close-ups of everyday objects, slideshow of northern island of Hokkaido, and the issues of Provoke magazine in which Moriyama and his contemporaries showcased their works.
Both photographers captured the ordinary people and lives in grainy black & white photos. But impressions from their works are quite different. Klein wanted the viewer to be aware of his own presence at the scene and interacted with his subjects to provoke a response. His photos are vibrant and powerful. On the other hand, Moriyama emotionally detaches from his subjects, and his photos of urban life often provocative and sensational, disclosing darker side of the city that you don’t want to see. The scenes of the isolated countryside are sad and depressing, instead of peaceful or picturesque. Overall, I have to say that I prefer Klein to my fellow Japanese, Moriyama in this exhibition.
→above photos: Klein’s / below: Moriyama’s. More photos: BBC / Telegraph
A while ago, we missed our flight due to severe delay of a train to an airport. Next flight was 7 hours later. M was furious and insisted to go back home and to take the next day flight. But I wanted to fly on the day as we planned, and then I remembered about YOtel at the airport, and persuaded him to kill the time there.
Inspired by Japanese capsule hotels, YOtel is a mini-hotel chain and was launched by Simon Woodroffe, a founder of the sushi chain YO! Sushi using the Japanese style ‘kaiten’ conveyor belt in 1997, which has contributed Sushi boom in UK and now have its branches mainly in London but also in other UK cities, Europe, and Middle East. Currently YOtel are in four locations; London Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, Amsterdam Schipol Airport, and Times Square in New York.
YOtel Gatwick where we stayed, it was £70.34 for twin room for 4 hours (minimum stay), but it is much cheaper (£42.50), if you pay in advance online. It was worth it when we imagined of doing nothing but killing 7 hours at the airport. We walked through dim corridor lighten up in purple to our room. It was basic simple room with no window but pull up work desk, small chair, 2 bunks (one upper and one lower), and toilet & shower – it was like a cruise ship cabin. However, service was not bad. The room was equipped with flat screen TV and free WiFi. Hot drinks were free, and you can order food, beverages, snacks and amenities from their “TO GO” menu. The room was clean, and their beds with good quality sheets were quite comfortable to sleep. M was grumpy at first but became in a good mood after sleeping well. We could leave on the same day, without cancellation of a hotel room, and were on an itinerary as we planned – happy ending!
長野県松本市出身の草間さんは幼少時からアートに興味を示し、若くして才能を開花。日本画を学んだが旧弊な日本画壇に失望、雑誌や本で独学でヨーロッパやアメリカのアバンギャルドを学ぶ。「too small, too servile, too feudalistic and too scornful of women（狭小で独創性がなく、前近代的で女性を軽蔑する）」だった当時の日本を離れ、1957年に世界のアートの中心・ニューヨークに渡る。当時西洋人男性が優勢を誇ったNYアート界で、アウトサイダーであるアジア人かつ女性という二重ハンデを負いながら、ドナルド・ジャッド、アンディ・ウォーホル、ジョゼフ・コーネル、クレス・オルデンバーグ等有名アーティストと交流を持ち、コンテンポラリー・アーティストとしての地位を確立した。1973年に体調を崩して帰国。幼い頃から幻聴・幻覚に悩まされていた草間さんは、現在82歳と言うご高齢ながらも、自身が「自宅」と呼ぶ入院先の精神病院からスタジオに日参、日々作品を創り続けている。その強迫的ともいえる制作活動は、自身の心理的トラウマからの逃避、言わばセラピーのようなものなのかもしれない。
A Japanese contemporary artist, well-known for her repeating dot patterns, Yayoi Kusama‘s retrospective “Yayoi Kusama” is currently running at Tate Modern until June 5th. The exhibition gathers her artworks over 60 years of her career in variety of media, including painting, drawing, collage, film, sculpture, performance art and installations. Kusama is the second known Japanese female artist in UK, after late John Lennon’s soul mate, Yoko Ono. Kusama came to UK on the opening of the show, and appeared all in red, not just red but bright red – red bob cut and the same red dress with big white dots (the Guardian article).
Kusama’s works are characterized by compulsion, repetition, and rhythmicity in a wide variety of mediums. In the exhibition, you see Accumulation sculptures such as phallus-covered Sex Obsession series (the second photo) and Food Obsession, consisting of objects covered with dry macaroni; Walking Piece, a series of colour slides with Kusama wearing a bright pink kimono walking the streets of New York; Self-Obliteration (YouTube Part 1 / part 2), a film documented her Body Festivals in 1967, in which naked participants were painted with brightly colored polka dots, along with images of her paintings and installations; large multi-part installations such as The Clouds and Accumulation sculptures; recent paintings with repeating motifs of eyes, flowers, hieroglyphic self-portrait in profile, and dots in an intense bright colours (second bottom photo); and mesmerising Infinity Mirror Rooms (bottom photo) that concludes the show.
Born in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, she developed her passion for art from a young age, but at the same time started to suffer neurotic and obsessional symptoms. She studied Nihonga painting but was frustrated by its conventionality, and started to teach herself about the European and American avant-garde from books and magazines. After her certain success in Japan, she decided to go to New York, center of the art world, in 1957, leaving Japan where is “too small, too servile, too feudalistic and too scornful of women.” Kusama came into contact with renown artists including Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, and Joseph Cornell. She established herself as a prominent contemporary artist, with an identity of “outsider”, both as an Asian and as a woman in a male-dominated Western art world. In 1973, she returned to Japan in ill health. As an age of 82, she commutes to her studio from a mental institution where she lives and calls ‘home’ , and still work vigorously. Her obsessiveness in making art is largely coming from a desire to escape from psychological trauma, and art seems to be very therapeutic to her. →reference: LOUIS VUITTON×Yayoi Kusama site
Kusama’s life is more intriguing than her works for me. Her vitality and strength that helped her survive the tough period when the status of women and ethnic minority is subordinate, and made herself the most prominent female artist in Japan, is truly exceptional and amazing. However, the exhibition doesn’t succeed to fully express her power and intensity, unfortunately.