Nguva na Nyoka (Sirens and Serpents) by Wangechi Mutu | Review

The immense representation of the feminine, the political and the cultural is very palpable and striking in Wangechi Mutu’s latest exhibition entitled Nguva na Nyoka (meaning “Siren and Serpents” in Swahili). Staying true to the title, her collage paintings are of grotesquely deformed underwater creatures which screams surrealism with the contrasting elements of humans, animals and machines. They also manifest hyperbolism and diversity through the way she forced together an overload of materials, themes and references which you don’t ordinarily see together. Despite the initial jarring sense that her works present, they are both seductive and eerie all at once. 

The exhibition spans the two floors of Victoria Miro’s Gallery in London, showcasing the art works of this New York-based artist with Kenyan origins. Mutu uses a variety of media – mixing both textiles and art materials – to create her hybrid creatures with magazine cut-outs, watercolours, beads, feathers and fabrics. These distorted chimaeras do not only emulate the mythologic core of the exhibit’s theme, but their faces made up of big eyes and lips lifted from fashion magazines also satirise the stereotypes and preconceptions of women’s images and identities in the society. 

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Killing You Softly

Continue reading “Nguva na Nyoka (Sirens and Serpents) by Wangechi Mutu | Review”

Trendy and intellectual, salons are back in London town

There are drinks by the entrance; people are holding foot-tall glasses of beers; some are eating dinner; and, there’s the constant buzz of chatter and natter all around. Loud music is playing and there are also strobe lights. But no, this is not a party or a casual social night. In fact, chairs are lined-up in rows to face the stage at the front of the venue and people are just waiting for the event to start. 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Salon London… I hope we got something for everyone tonight.” says the host. It is Salon London’s last event for the year, where you get dancing and drinking breaks in between speakers. The Salon is also celebrating its 6th birthday in this intimate venue at The Proud Archivist in Haggerston, with the bar just by the door. 

This is part of the the new trend emerging across the capital. The need for intellectual spaces where you can think, debate, socialise and drink at the same time. It’s an academic and aristocratic 18th century concept bleeding into the 21st century of pop culture and mainstream society; it’s the new age of modern-day salons.

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Not That Kind Of Girl: A young woman tells you what she’s “learned” by Lena Dunham | Book Review

Not That Kind Of Girl Book Cover
Vulgar, candid, absolutely hilarious and grippingly dark at times pretty much sums up Not That Kind Of Girl. In her memoir, Lena ‘voice of her generation’ Dunham imparts wit and cultural  significance.

Famous for being the creator and star of HBO’s comedy series, Girls, Lena Dunham declares in one of her chapters, “performing in sex scenes that I direct, exposing a flash of my weird puffy nipple, those things don’t fall into my zone of terror.” So is self-exposing her whole being (well, at least 28 years of it) in a book, it seems.

Continue reading “Not That Kind Of Girl: A young woman tells you what she’s “learned” by Lena Dunham | Book Review”

The spell of slam poetry and compulsion of art

“Prepare to be Varjacked!” This is how fellow artists in the performance scene describes or, more appropriately, warns the audience of writer and contemporary performer Paula Varjack. It refers to the idea of being hit with real and immediate impact with a certain act. “I’d like to kind of leave with something that I think has either a message or creates a certain feeling or makes you think afterwards.”

For more than 6 years now, this British-American performer has been working as a full-time artist and her works has taken a variety and hybrid of forms ranging from spoken words, monologues, devised performance, videography, audio-visual pieces, stories and poems. Mostly in London, Berlin and Washington DC, she has also been touring in different cities not only in the UK but also around Europe. 

Paula’s disposition of being from all the places and prancing around practically everywhere inspired the title of her latest two-month tour Always Back From Somewhere, which sees her performing in England, Belgium, Scotland, Germany and Denmark. The tour started on the 7th of October with the whole month spent guesting in events around London and eventually the rest of the UK. With half of the tour remaining, she’ll be spending most of November outside the country culminating to her last performance on the 21st of the month at South Bank Centre in London as part of the celebration of Polari’s (multi award-winning LGBT literary salon) fourth birthday.

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What is it about YA books: A look at its popularity and fandoms

Over a decade into the boom in Young Adult Literature and 2014 looks like it is still yet the year that the Young Adult genre is going to be cemented as a true force.

There were 30,000 Young Adult titles published in 2009, which is a massive increase from the 3,000 titles in 1997. In the same year, publishing companies’ total sales for YA exceeded $3 billion and it has been publishers’ favourite bet ever since. To add, according to an artice in The LA Times, more than a dozen publishers has launched young adult imprints. And finally, with websites such as Epicreads releasing lists of “The 15 Most Anticipated YA Books Coming” every month since September in 2013 to date, it is evident that YA popularity is as strong as ever if not growing even stronger.

The genre mainly targeted at teenagers has become so popular in the past years that it has been recognized as a separate genre from Children’s and stores and libraries started having entire separate sections with rows of shelves entirely dedicated to YA. Continue reading “What is it about YA books: A look at its popularity and fandoms”

Shoreditch ‘Meows’: The Rise of Cat Cafés

Cats are running the interweb, that’s a fact. Now, it seems like they are taking over the real world.

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Lauren Pears, owner of Lday Dinah’s Cat Emporium

Shoreditch is set to be the home to London’s very first cat cafe. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is opening soon, near the trendy Brick Lane, at Bethnal Green Road. The café was granted planning permission in September and ever since, the team behind Lady Dinah’s have been busy taking care of the cats and working on the building to get the Emporium fit for cats and people.

Lauren Pears, an Australian-born entrepreneur, introduced the idea of a cat café in the UK in a crowd funding campaign at the beginning of the year. It proved to be really popular and garnered much support and raised a total of £109,510. As we draw closer to Lady Dinah’s grand opening, the excitement hasn’t wavered. Continue reading “Shoreditch ‘Meows’: The Rise of Cat Cafés”

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan | Book Review

Unspoken, the first book of The Lynburn Legacy Series, is a book not to be read at night or in the very early hours of the morning. (Yep. I stayed overnight until the break of dawn reading this.) This is a lesson I learned the hard way. Or maybe, I’m just faint-hearted. ‘Sassy gothic’ is the term used by the author to describe this, which cannot be more spot-on. Romance. Check! Horror. CHECK!  (But then again, I’m easy to scare.) Sassiness? Oh yeah… overflowing in every shape and form.

Unspoken tells of Kami Glass, a female protagonist who can defenestrate her own thugs. What can I say? She totally kick ass and quite literally as well because she knows handy self-defense moves. She’s an aspiring journalist who just successfully set up a school paper. With that comes along her strong nose for stories and incurable and sometimes dangerously placed nosiness too. You can easily rule her out as ordinary (and also awesome, of course) if not for her ‘friend’. This friend exists in the name of Jared and only in her head (have no mistake, she’s still awesome). She’s been talking to this ‘imaginary’ friend all her life – from shared lullabies to puberty tantrums. It is both a connection which became her source of strength and comfort and the cause of her estrangement from the rest of her tiny placid ordinary[1] town. Laughing at nothing and staring at empty space while she’s lost in her head are the norms for Kami until Jared turns out to be corporeal and volunteers to throw thugs out windows for her.

Jared is real and incredibly tall and incredibly handsome and incredibly getting on Kami’s nerves. Just like Kami and the author, Sarah, I have no real objections to handsome princes… so, I’m all in for that! However, Kami’s bewildered. All her life she thought she’s mental but now here’s a deal breaker for her craziness or has she only became even crazier? The story continues to unfold as Kami deals with this big revelation. While that’s happening it’s not like everything else around her is helping as a bigger and more sinister reveal is brewing.

Continue reading “Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan | Book Review”

Oh my Gus!

I am usually one of the first people to know news about my favourite books, especially when a particular book is in the process of being adapted into a film. I am all over it! Hence, I am also the bearer of anticipation or angst among my friends. However, this morning, I’ve been hit by a casting news like it was stone. Like being hit by a stone… it wasn’t pleasant.

I am knee deep in revision, so instead of finding a news article about the one of my favourite fictional heartthrob being finally casted I had the pleasure of finding out about it in my Facebook news feed.

Okay. Picture of the Ansel Elgort and just a caption saying “So we have Augustus Waters” + loads of hashtags. No context or other background information provided. Therefore, I didn’t know that John Green said that he like the casting etc etc.

My face contorted in all directions.

I know. Nobody would be the “perfect” Augustus Waters. Am I right, The Fault in Our Star fans?
Augustus or Gus even exists in different ways, shapes and forms in our creative heads. Our illusions of this particular fictional boyfriend are so unique to us. The same goes for any other characters and that is an amazing thing. Having this outlook instilled in my head, I pride myself at being quite good at dealing with casting news most of the time. But there’s also a downside because it also makes the casting news sometimes difficult to process since you already established a certain image in your head and set sky high expectations.

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My favourite insect. Actually, the only insect I like.

I love butterflies. I am obsessed! From bookmarks to candle holders, I love everything butterfly. I bought books because they have butterflies on the covers; they are such an eye-candy on the bookshelf.

As much as I love the metal, plastic or wooden butterfly decors, nothing would beat the real ones. The adorable flutters of their wings and their amazingly vibrant colours are just some of the simple miracles of nature. It just so happen that they are my favourites. Unfortunately for me, the blasted weather here in England doesn’t allow for much butterflies. I came from a tropical country where the butterfly population thrives, so it comes as an immense frustration that I don’t see them around. Even during the freaking summer! Continue reading “My favourite insect. Actually, the only insect I like.”

I am a book person. Literally.

Don’t you just love the feel of physical copies? The pretty covers. That unique smell of new books.  The bliss of turning actual pages. The crease you make on the spines. And that amazing look it has when put in a bookshelf. I love all these things… So, I absolutely hate any electronic devices that attempt to replace books.

I see the convenience and handiness of reading from Kindles, Ipads or any other e-book reader. It’s easy; a lot of people love them. I’m not a particular fan but I do suck it up when it comes to textbooks because as much as I hate e-books, I also hate borrowing books. Textbooks are many and expensive, so I’ll be totally broke if I try to buy all of them. I prefer to spend on luxury reads when I can.

But today I’m found myself faced with the displeasure of reading from my Ipad. THE NIGHTMARE! *rolls eyes* The root of this crisis is the publication of What Really Happened in Peru of The Bane Chronicles.

Continue reading “I am a book person. Literally.”