LEONARD was introduced to me by Rebecca Hoffberger, AVAM's director. She is currently preparing an exhibition called "The End is Near" which will explore concepts of the apocalypse as reflected through the work of visionary artists. Of course Heaven's Gate is on everyone's minds. The minute the bodies were discovered in San Diego, a newspaper called Rebecca to find out if comets featured much in apocalyptic thought. "Where do you want to start?" she answered. Watching Hale-Bopp in the clear skies over California, I find it incongruous that a sight so beautiful should be so often held as a harbinger of evil. Still, there is surely enough chaos in the world to justify the doomiest prophecies. Never mind apocalypsists, if you are in the business of creating opportunities for positive change, it can get pretty depressing when you're depth-charged by the collective id. What does it say about us that nuclear power sites the world over are constructed on fault lines (so Rebecca Hoffberger tells me)?
Closer to home, the monitoring group Human Rights Watch has announced that the situation vis-a-vis human rights and the multinationals is drastically deteriorating. One of Gandhi's six sins of the world was commerce without morality, in which case the garment industry has been one of the biggest sinners in the business community. Bill Clinton and leaders of that industry have just announced a code of conduct to combat sweatshops world-wide. A listed criterion of the code's success is how much consumers should be told about violations. The tentative tone of this commitment to transparency is understandable, given the efficacy of consumer boycotts in the past. But I can't believe a signatory such as Nike, with its well-documented worker abuse in Vietnam, has any option. It is, of course, a supreme irony that the business of fashion, a "woman's" business, is largely built on the exploitation of female labour. But fashion thrives on irony. Last week in New York, it was difficult to escape coverage of next autumn's collections, and the big news was the return of power-dressing. Power- dressing is the consummate fashion illusion, all style, no substance, a bone thrown by the fashion world to the relatively powerless woman in the street.
ELECTIONS are marathons. Of course candidates tire. So what is so wrong with letting that show? Surely a vulnerable human being is more appealing than an enamel-grinned superman. But when I applaud Tony Blair for being human enough to let himself look tired, I'm suddenly Labour's loose cannon. At times like this I crave the sanctuary of my garden, where I can say what I like and the flora and fauna get the point. In the midst of all the talk of voter apathy, a number of signals suggest many people, young and old, are engaging more rather than less with the world around them. It just isn't happening in a way that exit pollsters can deal with. Take the foodie boom. An interest in exotic cuisines could reasonably be viewed as an antidote to the culture-crunching fascism of the fast- food chains. And what about gardening? What else is it but a benign form of environmental activism? After all, gardens have personalities. Mine is a woman in her forties, ripe and abundant, blooming and drooping like the poppies I planted this year.Reuse content