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Beating Around the Bush

When three interns at Mother London were set the task of ‘rebranding feminism’ their directors may have imagined many things, but probably not ninety-three women’s nether regions on display in their East London HQ.

Project Bush is a photomontage of the brave ladies who stripped off for celebrity photographer Alisa Connan in order to make a statement about choice. How women tend their gardens is by no means the most important issue faced by women today, but it is synonymous with modern ideals and expectations. As such, the multitude of bushes on display were a symbol of what feminism speaks of today – an array of different choices, each valid in their own right, but, more importantly, chosen freely.

Project Bush cannot rebrand feminism or even define it, but it can present us with what we know already in a (conspicuously) new way.

The photomontage will be on display at Mother London’s HQ from 14-18 November.

Contemplation on life

Here is a ‘Wunderlist’ for this years CPH:DOX. Today, London and Copenhagen is experiencing stormy, rainy Autumn weather. Therefore, I’m in an autumn-mood where all I need is a warm cup of tea, fire by the fireplace and a film about the contemplation on life. The films on this list all have contemplative elements and poetic storytelling methods. I highly recommend you to book tickets for, at least, these films at this years CPH:DOX. The quotes are taken from CPH:DOX‘s own notes on the films.

Manakamana
by Stephanie Spray

How can a film that is exclusively shot in one-takes with a static camera on a cable car in Nepal also be one of this year’s most celebrated cinematic achievements, especially considering that it is only three months old?

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My Love Awaits Me By the Sea
by Mais Darwazah

In her poetic travelogue film, inspired by the artist and poet Hasan Hourani’s dreams and visions, the filmmaker Mais Darwazah sets off for the first time to her homeland Palestine and to the beach-front esplanade in Jaffa, where Hourani lost his life in a drowning accident.

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The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear
by Tinatin Gurchiani

With an open invitation to come to the casting for a film, the director Tinatin Guarchini gathers a group of aspiring youths in a small Georgian village. Hopeful, but still… Filmed flat against a wall and confronted by Gurchiani’s questions, the aspiring actors share their views about the future and about themselves with a striking level of honesty.

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The Real Life
by Arnaud Gerber

A philosophical film work based on the French philosopher Simone Weil’s thoughts, beautifully translated into grainy 16mm footage from early modernism’s absolute center, Paris, and divided into chapters like stations on a night-time ride with the metro.

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After You
by Marius Dybwad-Brandrud

The silent drama of life and death has rarely been treated in such a stylistically consistent way as in the unmistakably Nordic ‘After You’ – and it hits you with all the more force that the film’s director has far more personal matters at stake in his film than the bright and crystal clear images at first suggest.

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Belleville Baby
by Mia Engberg

An unexpected phone call from a former lover becomes the starting point for a tale of love, nostalgia and bygone days. After a long time without any contact, the Swedish film director Mia Engberg receives a phone call from her former lover Vincent.

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In Focus

One of my favourite sources of news has to be Alan Taylor’s blog In Focus featured on The Atlantic. Here, Taylor curates photography of current and historical, global events. Often, I find that the photos he selects, build an even stronger connection with what’s going on in our world than many newspaper articles. Here is a selection of photos from a post about The Broken Lives of Fukushima.

More than two and a half years have passed since the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan, wrecking the Fukushima nuclear plant and claiming nearly 16,000 lives.

Waves break on barriers as a typhoon hits the area near Iwaki town, south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on September 16, 2013. Almost all the beaches in Fukushima prefectures remain closed since the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In July this year, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), a company that runs the crippled Daiichi plant reversed months of denials and admitted that hundreds of tons of groundwater that has mixed with radioactive material may be flowing out to the sea every day.(Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

A table is still set for customers at a restaurant in the abandoned town of Namie, on September 14, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

The decaying control panel of a public address system, inside damaged primary school in Namie, on September 22, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

Messages of support are written on a blackboard in a science class in a primary schoolin Namie, on September 22, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

Copies of Fukushima Minpo newspapers with headlines “M(magnitude) 8.8, largest in the country”, dated a day after the devastating 2011 earthquake, sit stacked inside an office in the evacuated town of Namie, on September 14, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

The Woman Behind Lolita

There is something magnetic, deeply mesmerizing about the opening paragraph of Nabokov’s Lolita. It takes three dainty steps of the tongue to pronounce Lo-li-ta, which is all the time Nabokov needs to showcase his dazzling writing skills and his love for clever word play and literary gimmicks. Extraordinarily simple yet highly ingenious, down-to-earth and “physical” yet brimming with an excess of desire, the controversial novel’s first paragraph draws in the reader in the bat of an eyelid, yet keeps her at an intriguing distance because of the morbid topic, because of the moral boundaries that are so brashly overlooked by the narrator’s thoughts and actions.

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

Image from Stanley Kubricks 1962 adaptation of Nabokov’s Lolita.

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What style! ‘You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style’, Humbert warns us at the outset. That may be true, for a murderer, but in Nabokov’s case it was someone else he could count on for advice, help and inspiration. Vladimir Nabokov wrote his first draft of Lolita (published in 1955) while on butterfly-collection trips in the Western United States with his wife, Véra Nabokov. Not many know the crucial role she played in drawing up the scandalous masterpiece: surprisingly enough she acted as his “secretary, typist, editor, proofreader, translator and bibliographer; his agent, business manager, legal counsel and chauffeur; his research assistant, teaching assistant and professorial understudy”!. It was Vèra who prevented Nabokov from burning the unfinished drafts of Lolita; she believed in her husband’s creative genius, privately encouraging and standing by him all his life — he called her “the best-humoured woman he had ever known.”

Vladimir and Vèra Nabokov

Vladimir and Vèra Nabokov

Now, putting aside the fear of sounding like a despicable child-abuser, have a go at composing a short paragraph in homage to Nabokov’s incredible style, and dedicate it to your own Vèra. Think about your loved one’s name (wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, companion or lover – it doesn’t have to be a paedophiliac, semi-incestous infatuation that drives your passionate immagination), find inspiration in its soothing sound and the meaning it acquires as you spell out the letters. Say it out loud a few times. Now break it up in syllables, listen to the consonants and vowels, draw shapes with the letters and go with the rhythm of the name. Though Nabokov, as Vèra herself admitted, always “had the good taste to keep me out of his books”, we — who lack his fervid imagination and literary status – are free to playfully smuggle our loved one’s real name into our imaginary word game. Try it as a very personalised and poetic card, as a humourous note to leave on the fridge before leaving for work, or as a romantic text message for a high-brow surprise during the day.

Vladimir and Vèra Nabokov

Vladimir and Vèra Nabokov

Sources:
Amis, Martin. Visiting Mrs Nabokov: And Other Excursions. pages 115–118. Penguin Books (1993)
New York Times obituary, “Vèra Nabokov, 89, Wife, Muse and Agent”, 11 April 1991
Brian Boyd’s biography, “Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years” (Princeton University Press, 1990)

Crane.tv

Crane.tv is a perfect site if you want to be inspired. They call themselves a “contemporary-culture video magazine, focusing on arts, design, style, food and travel around the world”. Here is a selection of some of their video portraits.

Kate Moross, Art Director.

Marcio Kogan, Architect.

Jo Ratcliffe, Art Director, Illustrator and Animator.

Maria, Head Sommelier.