Why criticism of the government’s handling of students is unwarranted

Like all good Brits, I tuned in to watch the Prime Minister’s announcement last night. It was a shame that he did not mention anything about brexit, but I suppose there was no need to mention how great a success it has been when that would just be stating the obvious. As always, I found the measures he announced to be firm, but fair. Yes they will be hard on us all, and the new lockdown needs everybody to make big changes quickly, but there was absolutely no way for anybody to predict that we would end up in a…


A (highly personal) ranking of the year’s best culture

Despite it often seeming like there was nothing else left to do, I found myself reluctant to watch, listen or read something new, or anything at all, for that matter. Just keeping up with work, studying and all the daily mundane tasks of life have felt particularly exhausting and sitting down at the end of the day to enjoy something requiring even the least thought has not always been appetising.

There’s been a number of things released this year that have looked incredible and have been really well-received by people I tend to agree with when it comes to culture…


How the currency of recognition became its own worst enemy

The last few months have seen a number of (really rather good) pieces written proclaiming 2020 as the year the concept of celebrity finally met its end. Celebrities, the argument goes, were so elevated from everyday life that they failed to grasp the horror that was life in a pandemic while the rest of us no longer had the emotional energy left to enjoy their displays of ostentation as amusing quirks.

There’s certainly a wealth of evidence from this year to back this theory up, from Gal Godot’s notorious cover of Imagine, to Ellen’s treatment of her staff once again…


Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s windows into art history

The power of Degas’ studies of ballet dancers lies in the fact that they are off-duty, as it were. Seeing the figures, slumped over, moody and stone-faced, the very premise of ballet, and indeed, all art is exposed. The figures we watch moving across the stage, perfectly symmetrical, perfectly in time with one another in their perfectly bleached white outfits are a temporary sight. As the audience, we surely know this. …


In 1973, Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery unveiled the exhibition Towards a Common Language. In it, blank ‘works’ were installed above boxes of art materials with visitors asked to make the art themselves. Once finished, they could take their work or leave it on display. Despite being such a stark departure from the Walker’s usual grand exhibitions, the public were far from put off, and the exhibition received 3,475 visitors in the week that it was open.

Towards a Common Language was the first of a number of participatory exhibitions organized by the Black-E, a community art organisation operating out of…


Seeing the news of Qasim Soleimani’s death doing the rounds on Twitter, my first reaction was relief. As a British-Iranian, his name wasn’t new to me and I’d heard about the horror he was unleashing across the Middle East. He was also doing this with a growing share of the Iranian regime’s budget at a time when sanctions have the left the country’s domestic economy in the gutter. People are struggling to afford basic supplies and yet Soleimani’s Quds forces were given carte blanche access to the regime’s resources.

Though not framed in this way, he was a threat to…


How Olivia Laing’s Crudo plays with the middle-class liberal to question their privilege

Rarely is a novel so targeted to a specific audience as Olivia Laing’s fiction debut. Its cover uses a photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans, astro crusto to be precise. Those who recognise the image feel a certain pride at having done so, a testament to their intellectual and cultural proficiency. They feel capable of understanding the content wrapped up within the cover better than a reader who failed to pick up on the cover. As such, they become far more likely to buy the book.

This is not a case of simply judging the book by its cover as each aspect…


Jordan Wolfson, Coloured Sculpture (2016) — installation view at David Zwirmer Gallery, New York

I

In the centre of a white platform lies a boy, still, limp. The only sign of life is to be found in his eyes, blinking, moving around the space, staring pleadingly at those of us in the room. This eerie reverie is shattered with Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman being pumped through the speakers. Chains rattle and are wound up. The boy is shackled to these chains, one is fixed to his foot, another to his hand and a final one to the top of his head. We see the child suspended in the air, then dropped…


Nestled away in a smaller gallery away from the bustle of the Royal Academy’s main space, a visitor to this year’s Summer Exhibiton would be able to see Patrick Dalton’s SELLFRIDGES, provided that they are able to spot it, given that it is surrounded by a number of larger, more colourful and louder (quite literally in the case of Michael Landy’s Closing Down Sale) works.

The image itself is unremarkable. Dalton’s photograph has captured two men, framed by their bold red and blue tops, stood in front of a row of fridges, themselves in front of a grimy, grey/brown brick…

Siavash Minoukadeh

Wow, words! More words! at siavash.cc

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