'our creation is that guru; the duration of our lives is that guru; our trials, illnesses and calamaties is that guru. There is a guru that is nearby and a guru that is beyond the beyond. I humbly make my offering to the guru, the beautiful remover of ignorance, the enlightenment principle that is within me and surrounds me at all times.'
Guru Stotram

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

I learned something about myself this week-end. Philip Seymour Hoffman is great. But I’m not a chubby chaser. I only went to see ‘The Boat that Rocked’ for PSH. And he is wonderful – think ‘The Savages’, think ‘Capote’. But really, let’s be frank, there isn’t a woman alive who isn’t a teeny bit enthral to Bill Nighy. Tall, skinny hipped, humorous, academic… oh no wait, that’s someone else. Anyway, Notting Hill’s own Richard Curtis serves up another Sunday afternoon treat at The Electric. A plot line that oscillates perilously between blatant absenteeism and profound banality and characterizaton that makes my office chair seem complex. And yet, what fun. I probably wouldn’t go quite so far as to describe it as a must see. You could do, or not, as you please. But Bill Nighy. Ladies, you know what I’m saying.

I did though see something this week that really left me reeling and wondering quite what I’ve been doing with my life for the last thirty-something years, that I haven’t visited this wonderland before. I can only think we must have pitched up at a particularly tantalising moment. Surely no-one could sustain this level of intensity indefinitely. That, and the fact that I really hate to over cook the thing because in fact it usually only serves to make it harder for others to enjoy by virtue of elevated expectation. So I guess, take it with a pinch of salt, in fact, take it with a shed load. Really, I’m not sure why, I’m struggling to rationalise it, but Paradise Row blew my mind. I was quite literally experiencing pains in my solar plexus. It was very odd. Maybe it was nothing to do with Paradise Row. Maybe something unusual was going on in the constellations, maybe I’d eaten something funny, or someone doped my drink. I don’t know, but last Thursday’s ‘First Thursday’ was a very singular evening down Brick Lane way for me.

Two artists seemed to be enjoying solo shows in the one divided-up space of the ramshackle converted town hall that constitutes Paradise Row. Firstly, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s ‘Triumph of the Sign’. From the title it sounds dull as hell, but it isn’t. ‘All that is solid melts into air,’ and more from Marx’s gripping Communist Manifesto. But I promise you, no tedious Rodchenko show this. Master paintings reproduced to scale by commissioned technicians in China, and over painted with sign of the times consumer labels from Dior to Pizza Hut, by another group of the same. I know, I know, we’ve heard it all before, a million times, but I liked it nonetheless. Maybe the all-consuming rubix cube wallpaper sent my head into a spin from which it never recovered.

Meanwhile in the next room Russian Gosha Ostretsov was telling us the tale of ‘The Adventures of Robbing Good’. This is one major kick-arse installation and no messing. The power and raw energy coming off this was dizzying. At the same time Gosha himself is striding around like some sort of Dada throwback, standing on a table in a Wright brothers-esque outfit that had me wondering where he’d parked his flying machine, sporting a perfectly bizarre gas-mask, surrounded by helium filled balloons with photocopies of more dratted Marxist texts hanging from their strings. All in the room had to be photographed with this nutter - by order of Nick Hackworth, aka Mr Paradise Row - before the Cuban-heeled one led us outside, drunk on his charm and quirky je ne c’est quoi, to release our balloons and ironic Marxist sympathies, into the night sky of Hoxton, E2.

It was all utterly peculiar and entirely intoxicating. Maybe I entered a parallel universe, or passed through a chink in the space / time continuum. Very strange indeed. One rabbit hole I will definitely be giving a thought to hopping back down at some point!

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