Apr 032011
I am gently encouraging myself to write an introduction to next Saturday’s symposium ‘How Do We Look?’.  I have just typed the following.  I am not going to use it.  So, I am pasting it here.  It makes no sense other than as a visual to help me think.
Imagine I find a hand-written love letter on the street in LA.  I pick it up, and wilfully, misinterpret the letter as a love letter to the city itself.  Not wishing to remove this letter from its original location (perhaps its author will return), I quickly write the contents of the letter.  My new version is to no-one and from no-one.  It is in my rushed handwriting and I do not know how much it bares resemblance to the original text.
Jan 132011
Here are a few things about my day today.  Driving to Hallam this morning, I was thinking about the loveliness of Rita Hayworth.  I was thinking about the way she is remembered more for the tragedy in her life, rather than the virtuosity of her dancing.  I remembered the quote I am using in my first chapter : 

“Hayworth’s was a frank and open beauty.  Her smile dazzled; her strong lithe body was amazingly fluid.  Unabashedly sexual, she also possessed a playful abandon that the screen had not seen before.”[1]

Then I was interim-assessing my third years – a conversation with them and another member of staff about their work and how they are going to approach their degree show.  Bless them, I love them all and want them to do so well.  All the things you hear about parenting I could apply to my experience of teaching.  I feel, by turns, so proud, so disappointed, and so anxious that they will find their wings and fly.  What I never realised was how teaching affects you, I’m constantly questioning if I am doing ok by students, if I am supporting them enough.  Oh! I want them to do well, I don’t think I will every forget this group of third years, my first to support through the degree show and dissertation.  They are teaching me how to be a teacher.  

Walking up to my car, I passed the star of the Crucible’s Me and My Girl, Daniel Crossley, and so I couldn’t help myself, I blurted out congratulations like a crazed fan.  Perhaps I should own it, I am a crazed fan.  I saw Crossley in A Chorus Line when I worked at Sheffield Theatres and I thought he was such an amazing and highly talented dancer, capable of real pathos in his role of Paul.  In this current show, which he leads, he uses all that real dance-skill and pathos, but adds comic timing and charisma.  Its an amazing show exemplifying the best of the musical genre, and I guess, I am a proud-fan.  But I’m not alone Daily Telegraph Review, and you can hear him here Audioboo.

I got home and found the Picture Post (Vol. 6 No.11, March 16, 1940) I bought on E-bay waiting for me.  I bought it for the ‘Girls in Cabaret’ article, I wish I could type out the whole text, because its difficult to pull quotes from and the whole thing is interesting.  However, what really drew my eye was the wording of the adverts: not only because of their quaint, old-fashioned language, but also because of how current they still feel, in terms of the hard-sell for example:

“At 40 her skin is only 25.  Why do some women look fresh and youthful with a minimum use of cosmetics while the complexion of others begins to age in youth?  Remember that your skin reaches critical age before your figure.  You know that the way to keep your skin young is to keep the pores clean.  You have been told that before.  But you may not know the one cleanser that will do this better than cream, better than water.

This one cream is Avocado Beauty Milk, made by Coty from the oil of Calavo Avocado pear, which has greater penetrating power than cream or water.  Coty Avocado Beauty Milk searches out hidden particles of powder and rouge, buried deep in the base of the pores, and floats them out to the surface.  

If you want to keep your skin young and get the most out of the cosmetics you use, get some Coty Avocado Beauty Milk right  away. Your skin will feel fresher and cleaner.  What is more, your powder will go on better than ever”

I just googled Avocado Beauty Milk, and I can’t find it, I was hoping to get myself some…

Right, its time I get going to my dance classes – tonight its Jazz and Tap – wa-hoo!

[1]  Majorie Rosen (1973) Popcorn Venus: Women, Movies and the American Dream, 1974 third edn. New York: Avon  p.224.
Mar 272010

How to present the ‘Take Out’ project is not a question of how to present the photographs, but how to present my intentions.  The ‘hanging’ of the piece has become more crucial and more integral to the work.  How the practicalities are negotiated reflects on the work.

I must not aim for perfect or bombastic just because its a “show” (ditch the tap dancers then) but must think of how the idea is best translated into 3D space.

Nov 022009

One afternoon in 2005, I came across a tin full of cigarette cards at a flea market. I leafed through to look more closely at the miniature pin-ups. I noticed the backs of the cards with the clipped-1940s-BBC-announcer biographies of the girls on the cards. I selected all the dancers from the tin (there were models, swimmers and tennis players I rejected, no one I had heard of before) and bought all of them. As I walked home, I decided to recreate all the photographs using myself as the model. My desire to explore another identity merged into a kind of wish, ‘What if I were this person in the photograph?’ The photograph represented such a desirable location that I wanted to be there. The details of the location, although totally unknowable to me, were here presented, as though the top layer of that location were lifted off and frozen. How could I thaw it out and get there?