Sunday, February 6, 2011

A whole day of culture

Recently, a friend invited me to spend the day with her exploring some free exhibitions in the city of Melbourne. I’m on school holidays I thought, why not.

After navigating my way out of the eastern suburbs on bus and train, the wonderful steps of Flinders St were before me. First stop: ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) and the video installation, The Raft by Bill Viola We came in halfway through the video, which having seen the whole thing I was glad about as I could go back and think about what had happened. The video is less than 10 mins but what the people go through in the one shot scene seems to go on forever. I found it really powerful and thought provoking.

From ACMI, our journey continued to the State Library of Victoria. After a coffee at Mr Tulk, the library’s cafĂ©, we ventured upstairs to the exhibition, Mirror of the World: Books and Ideas It was enchanting to be walking amongst books of such importance and which such history. It’s prompted me to investigate the Penguin Great Ideas series further, though I must confess it’s the type of reading I aspire to but seldom engage in.

The library was followed by a photographic and text exhibition at the City Gallery It explored the presence of religion in Melbourne with an emphasis on the monotheistic religions and their places of worship in the CBD and inner suburbs.

Transport and Movida Next Door provided nourishment of a more physical kind and rounded off the day perfectly.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Wow, I can understand what he wrote! It had to be all that highly dramatic and explictly expressive acting.

The Comedy of Errors is playing in the Royal Botanical Gardens at the moment. It’s set in 3 or 4 different locations in Ephesus (Ancient Greece) utilising one stage/set and some groovy music. The costumes and acting are apparently in the comedia dell’arte style, yet they had me thinking of the Muppets and Saturday morning cartoons from the 70’s. The acting is to be highly commended for it’s slightly modern interpretation of a play that’s a few hundred years old. 

I can’t believe I was worried that I’d have trouble keeping track of the action. Holy cow! That is so far from the truth. When Shakespeare is acted out it’s simple – actually too simple, to the point of being cartoonish. I knew how it was going to end even though I’ve never read or seen the play before and that had me peeved. Of late I’ve been reading or seeing narratives that keep me guessing for the majority of the time. I seem to have grown immune to the charms of a simple plot. Do I really need to be constantly pondering whilst I engage with the text? Is it wrong to think, ‘I know exactly how this is going to play out’ and be irritated by this?

It also reminded me of A Servant of Two Masters, a comedy by the Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni written in 1743, which I saw perfomed by Assumption College students two years ago.

“Take a picture. It’ll last longer”

I just watched Roman Holiday for the umpteenth time. It’s been a year or two since my last viewing of this fabulous film and I still gain something new from it each time I see it. Having also spent the last half hour downloading photos and sharing one or two on facebook (no, I wasn’t multi-tasking, the film was viewed before the computer was dragged out), my latest revelation concerns the use of technology in film. Or at least the use of photography in said film. 

As Gregory Peck’s Joe Bradley shows Audrey Hepburn’s princess the sights of Rome, his friend Irving (Eddie Albert) takes photos of their mini adventures. When Irving firsts meets Joe and his ‘new friend’, Joe asks him if he’s brought the lighter. At first I thought he was talking about the famous camera brand, Leica, but it turns out that Mr Peck’s character is referring to an actual cigarette lighter that contains a hidden camera. Every 15 minutes cigarettes are lit, which gives Eddie’s photographer another photo op. with his trick camera.

Roman Holiday was made in 1953 and I’m guessing that this was considered rather sophisticated technology at the time. Or was it just like the shoe phone that popped up 15 years later on television’s Get Smart? Just the visual realisation of someone’s fertile imagination – nothing more than a sophisticated prop. 

I like to think not.