Monday, November 2, 2015

Recommendations: Sophie Calle's 'The Chromatic Diet', 1998

I really enjoyed Art and Food: Rituals Since 1851, the section of the Milan Expo dedicated to art, held at the Triennale. It's a huge exhibition — we had about four hours there, and had to really rush through the second half. The exhibition begins with impressionist paintings of markets, dinners and chefs, moves through a late nineteenth century Campari bar, early and mid-century design, some fun Lichtenstein sculptures, before moving on to recent, playful pieces like Tom Sach's 'Nutsy McDonalds'. There are clips from films playing throughout, and a wonderful cabinet of nineteenth century menus and books about food.

I particularly liked Sophie Calle's 'The Chromatic Diet,' which I hadn't seen before.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

London Summer


I spent two months in London this summer; these are some pictures (from my cellphone, again).

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Selgascano's 2015 Serpentine Pavilion

I went to see Selgascano's Serpentine Pavilion today, with a friend. I liked it and, now, a few hours later, I like it even more — because I keep thinking about it and enjoying it and wanting to go back, again, to see it at different times of day. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Last Days in Paris

I left France on the 27th of July, and so today, it seems, marks a month since my last day there. The last day was a Sunday, and Nick and I spent the afternoon on the Île de la Grande Jatte.* We walked in the rain and visited the Maison de la Peche et de la Nature, where fish ate out of our hands and we were introduced to a crayfish named Alice.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rainbow Roses at Columbia Road Flower Market, London

I took this photograph quickly, with my phone. It didn't even occur to me, at the Flower Market this morning, to buy these roses. I have never bought a bunch of flowers for myself. I'll write something, someday, on my complicated feelings about living alongside cut flowers. I do it only when somebody has given me flowers and I find it difficult. And so it was only a few hours later, looking at this photograph, that I realised I could have bought these roses, played with them for the afternoon, taken more photographs. I may go back to buy some next weekend.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Parc Disneyland, Paris

I went recently, to mark the end of my time at the École Normale Supérieure, to Paris Disneyland.* It was wonderful. I don't know why I'm not writing my PhD about Disneyland — except that, well, I'm not not writing my PhD on Disneyland, given the site's resemblance to a world's fair, and I did take some mental notes on the 'It's a Small World' ride that might make their way into my conclusion. 

But anyway: these are some photographs I took.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Covers of La Femme de France, 1926 - 1938

I've spent most of the last month working, but luckily work included reading old issues of La Femme de France, a delightful interwar magazine for women.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

'How Much Longer Will We Be On This Page?' at Litro Magazine

'How Much Longer Will We Be On This Page?' is now up at Litro USA. I wrote this story quite a long time ago, but I'm still fairly pleased with it. It is, I think, the first piece of fiction I've had published.

You can read the whole piece on Litro's website, but the first sentence is:

"There were words strewn like spilt cereal all over the kitchen floor that morning, piles of subjectivity to be pushed aside before breakfast."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Recommendations: Isabel Magowan

I've just discovered the photography of Isabel Magowan, one of this year's Yale MFA graduates. Her work is in Danziger Gallery's exhibition 'Lovely Dark,' which closes later this week. I didn't see it there; I stumbled across it on the internet. It's a group show, but the title works really well with Magowan's photographs, which are extremely unsettling images of beauty and privilege. I can't always pinpoint precisely what it is that makes the pictures feel so unsettling or disturbing, but there's a constant sense of threat in all of them, as if something is lurking, just out of frame, planning to pounce when the camera isn't looking. It feels as if all the subjects are held hostage, trapped. This image is from the 'Cygnets' series; I would recommend looking at the whole series on her website.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Roses at Night, 2015

I've just returned from a trip to the Archives d'Outre Mer in Aix-en-Provence. I'm not feeling well, though, now. I may have caught an illness from the 1920s, locked in an archival box.

I took these photographs at the École Normale Supérieure on Sunday night, before leaving for Provence. The roses at the school are beautiful at the moment, tall and pink and crowding around the fountain, and I wanted to get some pictures of them at night, when they're not — without flash — really visible and so feel more mysterious, all scent and outline sometimes blowing in the wind. I'll probably also post some pictures from during the day soon, and maybe also some pictures from the evening with fewer light leaks, but I like the way these turned out, smokey and strange.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Recommendations (and Hesitations): On the Hierarchies of an Australian Strip Club, by Sam George-Allen

"It’s hard to explain to him how it can be okay, after I’ve told him, fidgeting and angry, about the threat of harassment every time I walk somewhere alone. It’s hard to explain the weird protection that a place like the club—a man’s place, a fantasy place—provides me, with its rules and friendly security guards, protections I live without in real life. And it takes me a long time to recognize the triple reward that I gain from being willingly desirable: not just safety, but the power to remove those who threaten that safety—and the sweet compensation of a lot of money."

As a piece of writing, I really like 'On the Hierarchies of an Australian Strip Club,' by Sam George-Allen, from Issue 26 of The Lifted Brow. I'd certainly recommend reading it, regardless of your views on strip clubs. George-Allen writes beautifully, and the piece offers an interesting look into a world with which I'd guess few would have first-hand experience.

Politically, though, it makes me a little uncomfortable. George-Allen is critical of the men who frequent strip clubs, and acknowledges the ways in which it makes her own life outside the strip club more transactional. And yet this idea that the club offers women power ("they are less dancers than athletes, I realise, and wonder how many other female athletes make a thousand dollars a night") and protection (as in the quote above) recurs throughout, and it seems to ignore the way in which these clubs fit into society more broadly, that the same forces which drive strip clubs drive a culture where men harass women on the street.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Google Map Photography: Potash Ponds near Moab, Utah


I can't drive and I also can't fly, so there are many places I can't visit. I haven't been sleeping well lately, and last night at about three am I found these ponds, strangely blue, in the deserts of Utah, near the Colorado River. I think they're beautiful, and they reminded me of just how astonishing it is that today we can see places on the internet that are really difficult to access, even for those living nearby. The closest town to these bodies of water is Moab, twenty miles away, and there is a road that runs through them, but I doubt it's open to the public.

But what are these ponds, exactly, and why are they there?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sylvia Plath on Cambridge

I found a photograph of this letter, which Sylvia Plath wrote to a friend from Smith College, today while doing research, trying to sort documents out on my (now-fixed, luckily) laptop.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Recommendations: 'I Love Dick', by Chris Kraus

"There's not enough female irrepressibility written down. I've fused my silence and repression with the entire female gender's silence and repression. I think the sheer fact of women talking, being, paradoxical, inexplicable, flip, self-destructive but above all else public is the most revolutionary thing in the world. I could be 20 years too late but epiphanies don't always synchronize with style."

I think I Love Dick is one of the most important books I've ever read.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waiheke Island on The Island Review

My laptop completely broke yesterday, which isn't at all good, so I can't post any photographs on this blog today, but The Island Review have just published some of my pictures of and paragraphs on Waiheke Island.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Exhibited at Brussels, 2015

I really loved the labeling of all the plants at Kew, and all the history behind them. This plant, exhibited at Brussels in 1864, was quite close to a plant labeled 'GHOST PLANT'.

Monday, April 27, 2015

At Kew Aquarium, 2015

I haven't been perfect at posting pictures every day recently. I've been in the UK for a conference, and then on Wednesday I'm flying to Canada for another conference. I went to Kew Gardens for the first time on Saturday, though, and it was like a Virginia Woolf story. I drank tea and aeroplanes flew over us as we walked; their direction changed with the wind. I hadn't read about the aquarium in the basement of the Palm House, though, and it was lovely trying to photograph fish and seaweed.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Paul Géraldy, in L'Architecture Vivante, 1925

“But, he asked the president of the commission, by what criteria should we recognise that a work is modern?
It is that which resembles nothing else, he responded to him.

On which the juror, stunned, resigned.”

Cours de Danse, 2014

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Le Progrès, 2014

I took this photograph in November last year, at about five pm. It's so strange, now that it's light until after eight, to think of how dark it was in winter.

I had a short story accepted this morning; I'm happy about that.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Recommendations: More Love Letters

Recommendations: Isabel Martinez at Paris Fashion Week

I'm absolutely enamoured of Isabel Martinez's photographs of Paris Fashion Week, which have been published as a slideshow for W Magazine here. If you're not able or inclined to flick through over a hundred images, some of my favourites are here, herehere, here, and here. I think the collection is best seen together, though; it's dreamlike, being guided through a world so full of fantasy. I love the way Martinez's photographs hide and reveal things, the way faces disappear and the focus is turned upon the details, like the embroidery on a collar or a bracelet dripping onto a bag.

I did my eyeliner today like the eyeliner at Anthony Vaccarello's show. I enjoyed it, but received from strange looks from strangers in my building. It also doesn't really work with a fringe and glasses. I might try Vivienne Westwood eyebrows tomorrow.

Sheep at Castle Howard, 2011

This is another photo taken with my now-broken half-frame film camera.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Deconstructed Pavlova, Christmas 2014

100 Days of Public Scrutiny

I'm terrified of showing people anything I do (writing or photography) before it's been approved by some external body, and this kind of gets in the way of things — I'm afraid of sending enquiries or pitching articles to editors I don't know well, and even posting on Twitter makes me nervous. As such, I've decided to use The Great Discontent's 100 Day project as an incentive to change this, to gain a bit more confidence in the value of my work, by putting something I've done into the world on a daily basis.

This is largely because I'm a bit worried about what I'll do after my PhD, and I think a major thing holding me back in life is my fear of self-promotion, which often just manifests itself as a reluctance to engage with the wider world, to email strangers or post on Twitter. I'm hoping this helps me gain confidence in sharing my work.

I would aim to send a pitch to a different publication every day, but if I tried to do that I'd never finish my PhD, so I've decided I'll be a little less grand with my ambitions. Each day I'll either post a photograph on this blog or submit something to a publication, and I'll also count presenting (on academic work) at conferences. I'll put something I've created out into the world each day, and hopefully this daily deadline, combined with the fact that I do have to finish my PhD soon, will mean that I'm not too precious/obsessive about proofreading and meticulously editing my own work.

I'm very nervous about this, so if anyone has any advice (on this or on anything, really), I'd like to hear it!

Recommendations: 'Songbook' by Alex Soth

These photographs by Alex Soth, currently on show at San Francisco's Fraenkel Gallery, are really great.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Recommendations: 'ISIS to Exhibit Floating Pavilion of Art Destruction at Venice Biennale'

"We are tapping into the increasingly experiential and embodied nature of aesthetic experience. Everyone is talking about the potential for art to go viral, and we know how to do that better than anyone.”

Hyperallergic's article on #ISISinVenice is the funniest thing I've read in ages.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Recommendations: Wherever Magazine

I'm very interested in travel; it is, broadly speaking, the subject of my doctoral dissertation. And most of my own writing is, I suppose, travel writing. I tend to say "writing about place" or "geography," though, because I think most "travel writing" is actively awful, making the world worse.

But anyway: I like Wherever Magazine.

I remember walking around bookstores in central London last October, trying to find a copy of the print edition, and I didn't find one until December. But I associate it with that walk in October: a magazine worth asking about in Selfridge's (and oh, Selfridge's is such a nightmare to navigate, and so crowded with people, and sometimes you're sprayed with perfume or blasted by a hairdryer as you turn a corner). I found it in Chiltern Street, though, in the end, in a tiny magazine shop that I love which doesn't seem to have a name.

I read 'Conversations in the Sand: Nha Trang, Vietnam' on Wherever's website this afternoon, and I found it really interesting. I like the approach: a series of snippets from various people on a beach, some there as tourists, some for research, some working. It shows, I think, ways in which a place can be different for different people, and also shows how oblivious many travelers can be to the lives of locals.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Recommendations: 'Shakespeare in Tehran' by Stephen Greenblatt

"A twinge of disappointment is built into the fulfillment of any desire that has been deferred for too long, so it is not surprising that my experience of paradise, in the form of the Bagh-e Fin, was a slight letdown. So too Shiraz, the fabled city of nightingales and wine, turned out to have more than its share of traffic and dreary 1970s architecture—and, of course, enormous photographs of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the omnipresent martyrs."

                      - Stephen Greenblatt on visiting Iran, in the NY Review of Books.

Recommendations: History in Miniature

I love thinking about souvenirs, objects intended to conjure places. I'm fascinated by this practice of purchasing cities or countries, carrying them home in a suitcase, keeping them or giving them to others, who often have never been to the sites represented by the souvenirs. History in Miniature gathers images of these objects from around the world. It's part of an academic project by Dr Jessica Hughes, looking at souvenirs of classical Greek and Roman sites, which also really interests me.

Monday, March 9, 2015

I have a website!

As of last week, I have a proper website: It has links to articles I've written and photographs I've taken, and I'm hoping it will give me a little more confidence emailing strangers (which is, really, the hardest part of writing, I think).

I'll probably continue to update this blog in the same way that I do now: sporadically, with photographs and links to pieces I've written for the internet. There is, though, a blog on the website, which I think I'll use for recommendations, as I keep reading or seeing brilliant things and just saving them in folders entitled 'Excellent Pieces of Writing' and 'Photography'.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Recommendations: King's Review

My favourite piece in the most recent issue of King's Review is Lauren Berlant's 'DO YOU INTEND TO DIE: Intimacy After Suicide'. We've just put it online here, and it's really worth reading.

I also really enjoyed Katrina Zaat and Ina Linge's interview with and reflections on Jacqueline Rose, which we also published online last week and which can be found here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in Summer

It was too hot at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, really, and too crowded. I hadn't been in years, though, and it was nice to see so many different colours of water and rock and mud. It was interesting, too, to contemplate as a tourist phenomenon - so many of Rotorua's attractions have their origins in the nineteenth century, which was the same period in which the idea of 'landscape' and viewing from above or outside became popular. It was also the same period in which theologists argued that New Zealand was proof of the existence of God. I haven't thought about this deeply, but I'd like to do so at some point.