The Arts Diary: Eye of the storm
Friday 18 June 2010
Francis Alÿs, the Belgian-born artist who lives in Mexico, and whose oeuvre has just become the subject of a Tate Modern exhibition, told me he spent 10 years running into tornados that swirl around the outskirts of Mexico City to create a new film work, unveiled at the London gallery, but stopped after realising it was just getting too dangerous. "I spent about three weeks every year in the tornado season doing it but a lot of the material was too damaged to be used. I blew six cameras over that time because of the extremely thin dust particles that got into them." When asked what kind of body armour he worked in to protect himself from the violent conditions, he answered: "Um, a scarf around my neck."
The altitude of the these desert outskirts – 3,500 metres high – often left him breathless as he ran into the tornado but once he made it inside, it all felt rather calm. "When you enter the eye of the tornado there is a moment of quietness, of relative silence. The noisiest is when you break through the filter." The vision – all captured and edited in a 40-minute film – is terrifying to behold, and highly worth a trip to the gallery.
Corrie's pride of place
The gay community has found a new champion in Coronation Street, after the soap's producers announced the show would lead Manchester Pride's 2010 parade this summer. Cast and crew will join the Corrie float (the theme is as yet top secret) to lead over 100 entries through the city centre. Kieran Roberts, executive producer of the long-running series, says, rather ominously: "Prepare for Corrie like you've never seen it before". In fairness, the show has had a host of characters – Sean Tully, Hayley Cropper, Todd Grimshaw and, most recently, Sophie Webster – who have helped to raise awareness of the issues.
Black Monday looms for the arts
Budget day may be Tuesday but the crunch day for Britain's arts world appears to be the previous day. The Arts Council (ACE) sent out a note to the press this week warning them of what was to come, first thing on Monday morning, when it will reveal "details of how Arts Council England will implement the £19m cut to its 2010/11 income from the Government."
The briefing led by its chair, Dame Liz Forgan, and chief executive, Alan Davey, is what so many arts organisations have been dreading over the past few months in the lead up to the election.
Few in the industry will have forgotten the sledge hammer cuts implemented by the ACE in 2008, which brought widespread protest and reprieves on appeal for many. Museum, gallery and theatre directors have been bracing themselves for this moment with pre-emptive campaigns laying out the arguments against fierce cuts. Let's see how well they've worked.
As unlikely as it sounds against the backdrop of the capital city's commuter rush hour, a secret location in central London is set to be transformed into a modern-day Stonehenge celebration in what is being dubbed a Civic Solstice. Ordinary city folk will be able to reconnect with the universe through art and music events as well as a pagan wedding (otherwise known as a hand-fasting ritual) performed by the High Priest Johnny Blueeyes. Organisers are not revealing the exact location, so listen out for the sounds of ritual virgin sacrifices on 20 June, the eve of the Summer Solstice.
Cleopatra's story has been the subject of at least a dozen films, including one of the most memorable in which Elizabeth Taylor featured as the Egyptian queen opposite her future husband, Richard Burton. Now, Angelina Jolie is to take on the role of the queen of the Nile, in a film adaptation of the biography, Cleopatra: A Life, by the Pulitzer prize-winner, Stacy Schiff. The book is not published until the autumn, but film rights are already secured, with Jolie pencilled in as lead. It has been reported that Schiff has endorsed the casting, and given the nod to the possibility of Jolie's husband, Brad Pitt, playing Mark Antony.
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