March 22, 2014

Life On Mars

I am currently re-watching Life on Mars, one of my favourite sci-fi crime dramas of all time, and I felt like writing a little something about it, in case some of you have never heard of it before.

It was the title that initially lured me in (said the sick Bowie lover) but soon after the first couple of scenes (I'm quick like that), I realized that this series had actually something to say. Well-written and produced, with an amazing cast and an incredible soundtrack, it got me hooked since episode 1.

Mars originally aired on BBC (there have been several remakes since then but the UK version is the best by far), and it tells the story of Sam Tyler, a policeman who gets hit by a car in 2006 and wakes up in 1973.

During the course of the series, it remains unclear whether Sam has died, gone mad or into a coma, or has actually travelled back in time (as the protagonist states himself at the beginning of each episode). A series of surreal events and strange clues lead Sam out of one labyrinth only to get him trapped into another.

"Whatever's happened, it's like I've landed on a different planet. Maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home" – sorry to disappoint you Sam, but I find it highly unlikely (spoilers).

Life on Mars only run for two seasons (16 episodes in total) but I can’t really complain because after Mars concluded (with one of my favourite series finales ever – although I would have preferred the last scene to be the one on the roof), Ashes to Ashes followed.

A sequel to Mars, Ashes was the story of a cop who gets shot and awakes in a different time. Only this time the cop is a girl (Alex Drake) and the year is 1981 (yay!).

Ashes to Ashes was not as sharp nor complex as Life on Mars, but a really good show nonetheless, with Philip Glenister on top of things and a myriad of songs that went straight to my playlist. Make sure to watch Mars, first though. The stories are linked.

The Gene Genie will haunt me forever. So will Steve Strange performing ‘Fade to Gray’ at the Blitz. If only I could travel back in time to see that (and other things as well but since I am talking Ashes…).

And, to be fair:

March 11, 2014

Woodman On Monday

Every time I start this post, I leave it unfinished. Mainly because it either ends up as a cold informative Wikipedia-like bio or a make-believe postmodern interview (with the latter being my favourite, while not appropriate for eyes other than my own).
Francesca Woodman is one of the few artists I can emphatically say I can naturally connect to.

I was in my (tortured yet creative) teens when one of my teachers just looked at me out of the blue and said "make sure to join us on Monday; we’ll be going through some photos that I know you are going to love". I guess I laughed in my head at that bold statement (be not mistaken, nobody was brainy enough to get me, let alone deduce my fancies).

Born in Denver, Colorado in a family of artists, Woodman took an interest in photography from an early age and by her mid-teens she had already produced several black and white medium format photographs.

"As a student at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence between 1975 and 1979, she was accepted into the Honors Program which enabled her to spend a year at the school’s campus in the sumptuous Palazzo Cenci in Rome. During that year (1977-78), Francesca frequented the Maldoror bookshop-gallery, which specialized in art books on Surrealism and Futurism. It was here that her first one-woman show was held. She also met the young generation of the Roman Transavanguardia.

After returning to the United States and completing her studies at Providence, Francesca Woodman moved to New York, where she embarked on more ambitious projects, making large blueprints on blue or brown paper as well as designing several books of her own photographs. «Some Disordered Interior Geometries», the only one of her books to be published, came out in January 1981, at which date she took her own life". Source

A couple of movies were made about Woodman: “The Fancy”, a short experimental video filmed in 2000 by film and video maker Elisabeth Subrinand and “The Woodmans”, a full length documentary about Francesca and her family (George and Betty Woodman), directed by Scott Willis in 2010. In the “Woodmans”, we can actually see Francesca herself (from archive footage), in the process of making some of her most recognized photographs.
I found both “The Fancy” and “The Woodmans” far from what Francesca Woodman would find aesthetically acceptable; but one should watch both, regardless.

"Woodman created at least 10,000 negatives which her parents now keep. Woodman's Estate consists of over 800 prints of which only around 120 images have ever been published or exhibited". Source