Victoria’s Arts & Culture Round-Up: Drama, Darkness and New Perspectives

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It’s a busy world out there so let’s have a quick round up of what’s new this week.

Music

You’re never going to get bubblegum pop from Lana del Rey but her new album Honeymoon, well, it’s so moody, so languid, it makes Ultraviolence seem positively sunny.

I loved Ultraviolence – its menace, its bite – but this has evaporated in Honeymoon. Now Lana, all she wants to do, as she sings herself “is get high by the beach.” The whole album seems doped out.

Nevertheless Honeymoon is a reminder that Lana remains one of the most interesting artists in pop music today. Always prepared to shun the mainstream and take her own path. And that’s why I will always be excited by whatever she does.

Grace Jones – New York Photosessions – 1981

Books

At the other end of the scale is the drama queen herself – Grace Jones. She swore she would never write a memoir and so, like any true superstar, she has changed her mind. Released this week and, appropriately titled, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, the book is as crazy as the woman herself.

Rambling and totally lacking in self-awareness, Grace leads us through a meandering account of her life. All the gossip is here – parties with Andy Warhol and Jerry Hall, creative collaborations with Keith Harding and Helmut Newton, and cutting observations about all the female artists who quote (and copy) her. There’s the drugs, the sex, the tantrums and the drama. Yet I’m not going to say it’s gripping.

The writing is all over the place – like the woman herself – and you sense Grace isn’t the most reliable of narrators. (In one breath she claims she was the only person who could get Michael Jackson on to the dance floor at Studio 54; in the next she says she only met him a handful of times.)

But, more than this, there’s something disappointing about having the curtain pulled back. Revelations that her lateness is often contractural or that she is insecure about her small breasts seems to dim the light around this goddess. I preferred her as a mystery. Perhaps she should have stuck to her guns, after all.

World Goes Pop Breasts

Art

I say, ‘Pop Art’ and you think Warhol. Maybe Roy Lichtenstein. You’re thinking cans of soup and vivid Marilyns. Makes sense, I don’t blame you. But that is absolutely not what you’re going to get at The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern.

Instead this bold exhibition turns its back on the usual suspects and looks at how artists outside of the U.S. and UK responded to Pop Art. There’s political radicalism inspired by the Vietnam war and post-war dictatorships. And there is some great pieces from female artists such as Jana Zelibska and Nicola L on the politics of the female body and its representation in culture and society. Terrific stuff. Loud, brash and in your face – just as Pop Art should be.

Theatre

Last year, Pomona caused a sensation when it opened at Orange Tree Theatre. Stunningly original and unfailingly dark, this sinister, elusive play about a woman looking for her lost sister appeared in just about every Best Of list in December. Now, thankfully for those like me who couldn’t get a ticket for Orange Tree, Pomona has opened at National Theatre. And, yes, it absolutely lives up to expectations.

Pomona by Alistair McDowall Presented by the Orange Tree Theatre, in association with the National Theatre and the Royal Exchange Theatre Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport 2015, Richard@rwdavenport.co.uk, 07545642134

Pomona is a brutal, pessimistic play that poses tough questions about when we get involved and when we look away. The writing from Alistair McDowell about life in the margins of society – real, imagined or dystopian – is stunning stuff. The piece is always just a bit off-kilter – slightly surreal, slightly obscure – but that just adds to the atmosphere. If I could drag you all in to see it, I would. A production that reminds you how exciting and challenging theatre can be.

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