Monday, 29 August 2011

Sigismund’s Watch: A Tiny Catastrophe. Artist Barbara Loftus at the Freud Museum.

Sigismund’s Watch: A Tiny Catastrophe is an exhibition of paintings and images on paper by Barbara Loftus,
curated by Monica Bohm-Duchen at the Freud Museum in London. It will be on from 5th October - 13th November 2011.

We must rid ourselves of the delusion that it is the major events which have the most decisive influence on us. We are more deeply and more continuously moved by the tiny catastrophes that make up daily life
Siegfried Kracauer The Salaried Masses 1929

Sigismund’s Watch: A Tiny Catastrophe is a cycle of artworks prompted by the recollections of the artist’s mother Hildegard, who fled from Germany to England as a Jewish refugee in 1939. The story is told through a series of oil paintings and works on paper, vividly contextualised by documentary images and quotations from the Weimar period. Sigismund’s Watch narrates a ‘primal scene’ from the early 1920s, recalled by Hildegard in old age, when, as a small child, she witnessed, unseen by her parents, a bitter marital row. The cause was her father Sigismund’s bankruptcy, which inflicted sudden impoverishment on their comfortable bourgeois way of life. Hidden under the table, she saw her mother tear her father’s gold pocket watch from his waistcoat pocket, stamp on it and smash it.

The smashing of the watch becomes for Loftus a potent and poignant symbol – standing for the chaos into which Hildegard’s family and many others were plunged overnight. The ensuing climate of fear, suspicion and destabilization in the collective psyche dealt a fatal blow to the fragile concept of the German-Jewish symbiosis. The historic equation of the Jew and money re-emerged as the scapegoat for the failing mark, and the brutalising effects of hyperinflation helped undermine the Weimar Republic and lay the foundations for the Third Reich and the rise of Hitler.

Loftus’s working methods are complex and distinctive: her mother’s spoken (and recorded) testimony, combined with detailed archival research, enabled her to instruct professional actors to recreate the scenes she imagined in her mind’s eye. Photographs and film of this re-enactment formed the basis for a dramatic sequence of drawings and cut-out silhouettes, which in turn gave rise to a series of oil paintings, which although naturalistic in style, pare the narrative down to its eloquent essentials. Transcending its historical sources, Sigismund’s Watch is a subtle and sophisticated meditation on the meshing of time and memory, gender, marriage and money, power, history and the act of bearing witness.
For further information, images or interviews with the artist please contact Penny Sychrava at 0796 791 5339 or

Born in London in 1946, the daughter of a German-Jewish refugee (who until 1994 spoke very little about her past) and an Anglo-Irish communist, Barbara Loftus trained first at Harrow School of Art and then at Brighton College of Art. Since 1970 she has exhibited widely with exhibitions at the Serpentine, Barbican and ICA. Sigismund’s Watch is the third in what the artists sees as a trilogy of on-going projects dealing with aspects of her mother’s history: the other two are A Confiscation of Porcelain (1994) and German Landscape with Wandervogel (1998).

  • The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Philip Wilson, with essays by art historian Monica Bohm-Duchen and Esther Leslie, Professor in Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck College, University of London.
  • There will be a guided tour of the exhibition by the artist on Sunday 16th October at 3pm
  • Barbara Loftus and Monica Bohm-Duchen will be “In Conversation” on Wednesday 26th October at 7pm.

  • Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SX, tel: 020 7435 2002
  • Opening hours: Wednesday - Sunday 12 – 5
  • Admission: Adults £6.00; Senior Citizens £4.50; Concessions £3.00; Children under 12 free

text taken from press release

Friday, 19 August 2011

Network, a new film about young London women and technology by artist Sonia Boyce

An image from Network by Sonia Boyce

Peckham Space presents Network, a specially commissioned film from artist Sonia Boyce, which explores how forms of social communication such as mobile phones and social networking sites like Facebook have become the most popular ways for young people to maintain their relationships with friends and family. Peckham Space is at Camberwell College of Art, 89 Peckham High Street, London SE15 5RS and the film will be showing from 13th September until 19th November 2011. The launch event is on 13th September, 6-8pm. Click here for more details.

The artist worked with Southwark Council‟s Visual And Performing Arts (VAPA) Young Women's Group to chart the nature of these relationships and the languages that have formed around these technologies. The exhibition will comprise a series of films, choreographed in the gallery space as an installation: a set of dialogues featuring the young people in front of as well as behind the camera.

Shot in cinematic high definition, the Network film follows the journeys of four young women from their homes to their weekly VAPA group meeting through the different street systems of South East London. Once there, the young women explain their networks and friendship groups, previously mapped out in collaboration with oral historian Verusca Calabria. The conversationshappen face to face and on mobile phones, but the identity of their partner is not revealed: all four young women are involved in the same discussion.

Sonia Boyce said:

I was particularly interested in the type of conversations that are generated and amongst groups of young people. I wanted to explore their inter-connected micro-communities, and that boundary between the public and the private that is bridged online and through personal mobile phones. It's fascinating to me that young people‟s communities can reach geographically and culturally distant areas through the use of new technology, and how this can challenge traditional notions of the concept of community.

For this commission, Peckham Space worked with VAPA to draft the project brief and invited two of its young women members to join the selection panel that interviewed and commissioned the artist. Fahmeeda Khan, a member of the VAPA Young Women‟s Group said: “We wanted to work with artist Sonia Boyce for this project because we liked that she wanted to make a film which looked at social networking and mobile phones from our point of view: at school and at home we often face negative opinions of these technologies. I hope that Network shows how these ways of communicating are important to us, and gives people an insight into the way young people today stay in touch with their friends, classmates and family members.”

On 13th October 2011, Artist Sonia Boyce will be in conversation with critic Bonnie Greer, discussing how the artist has explored modern concepts of communities used oral history to develop Network‟s themes.

Sonia Boyce came to prominence in the early 1980s as a key figure in the burgeoning black British art-scene of that time – becoming one of the youngest artists of her generation to have her work purchased by the Tate Gallery, with paintings that spoke about racial identity and gender in Britain. Since the 1990s Boyce‟s practice has taken a more multi-media and improvisational approach by bringing people together to speak or sing about the past and the present. Boyce has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and internationally. Recent exhibitions and monographs include: Devotional, National Portrait Gallery, London (2007); Like Love, Spike Island, Bristol and tour (publication by the Green Box Press, Berlin, 2010); Afro Modern, Tate Liverpool and tour, 2010; and The Impossible Community, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (forthcoming autumn 2011).

Boyce has just completed an AHRC Research Fellowship at Wimbledon College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London with her concluding research project the Future is Social, and holds a Visiting Professorship at Middlesex University, in the Department of Fine Art.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

I Will Tell International Film Festival 2011

I Will Tell is a film festival showcasing a brand new slate of innovative, entertaining and socially conscious world films. It offers a selection of over 100 diverse and inspired films from around the world, in addition to post-screening discussions and special events. All events will be taking place in Euston in London at the Friends House, the MI Centre and The Euston Station Piazza from 10am to 10pm daily.
This year's festival theme is forgiveness. Festival Director Jenny Lee says  
The films are awe-inspiring. But for me the really effective change takes place in the post-screening discussions when ordinary people tell their own stories. Sometimes that story takes the form of a simple question, but it's there nonetheless weaving its way into the interconnectedness of our global village. 

This year actor/producer/director Tim Reid will be joining the festival from the US, along with award-winning Camille Abrahams from Trinidad and Tobago, director Niyi Coker and other speakers and filmmakers from the UK and around the world.

  • The event kicks off on August 30th with an Opening Gala Screening of the critically acclaimed animated film The Green Wave on revolution in the Middle East.
  • The event closes with the Inspirational Yokes and Chains – telling the story of a multi-racial group of people who retraced the steps of the original Africans over 400 years ago in yokes and chains in a potent apology for the transatlantic slave trade. 
  • The short film programme includes the inspirational Where Do I Stand?, which shows the reflections of a diverse group of young people to the South African riots in which they took part.
  • On Monday 5th September The Flaw is a timely reminder that the original causes of the economic crisis have not gone away. 
  • For budding filmmakers there's a Film Pitch seminar and contest on September 3rd. They will be able to meet established film professionals from around the world and win sponsorship and professional support to make their own film. 
  • An i-Screen room will be up and running throughout the festival with touch screens pre-loaded with all the films out of competition in the festival, for those who missed a screening or prefer to watch it in privacy.

As the organisers say:
With all the doom and gloom around, it is refreshing to see a festival that tackles the issues head on but retains its sense of balance and joy. The difference it makes will be entirely up to you. Don't miss this.
The festival runs from 30th August to 9th September, 10am to 10pm daily
The venues are as follows:
  • Friends House, 173 -177 Euston Road (just opposite Euston station)
  • MIC Centre 81 – 103 Euston Street NW1 2EZ (adjacent to Euston station)
  • Euston Station Piazza
  • Day Screenings £5
  • Evening Screenings £10
  • Gala Screenings £15

To book and for more information visit the I Will Tell web site
For press info email or call 0870 8 03 04 0 or 0207 250 8059

all text (c) I Will Tell; text is taken from press release

On rape

I will say as little as possible here. A remarkable woman, Sarah, who I have been contacted by via Twitter, has done a survey on the reality of rape, sexual violence and other types of violence in women's lives. Women who care about women, men who care about women, parents who do not want their children to grow up in this kind of world, deniers, excusers, rape apologists, survivors, judges, police, jurors, Ken Clarke, read it and weep.

Mumsnet rape and sexual assault survey result and reactions.

As a lifelong women's advocate I - we - have tried everything. Rage, wit, sorrow, entreaty, rhetoric, statistics, events, pie charts, festivals, conferences, petitions, demonstrations, articles, activities, education, campaigns, art. We have given our life's energy to achieve one simple thing: we want to be believed. The only thing I can think of to do now is beg. We are not liars. We have never been liars. We have not made a mistake. We didn't misread the signs. We are not confused. We are not overreacting. We are not vengeful. We are not malicious. We want justice - and more than that, we seek a world without violence or the threat of violence.

We have a bravery and a strength that enables us to survive even in this world. There are billions of us. We stand as one. We are telling the truth about what happens to us. Now what are you going to do about it? Don't blame the victims, blame the perpetrators. It is their choice, their fault, their action, their responsibility, their shame and their dishonour.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Sex and Power: 5,400 women missing from top jobs

A new report, published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, shows a continuing trend of women being passed over for top jobs in Britain. More than 5,400 women are missing from Britain’s 26,000 most powerful posts.  The report, Sex & Power 2011, measures the number of women in positions of power and influence across 27 occupational categories in the public and private sectors. For a copy of the Sex and Power 2011 report, please go to: 

The Commission’s report calculates that at the current rate of change it will take around 70 years for an equal number of men and women directors of FTSE 100 companies. It also found it could be up to 70 years before there are an equal number of women MPs in parliament – another 14 general elections.  

Worryingly, the results of this year’s report differ very little from those in the previous report of 2008, indicating that very little progress has been made in the past three years. Figures from this year’s report reveal that, while women are graduating from university in increasing numbers and achieve better degree results than men, and despite level pegging with men in their twenties, they are not entering management ranks at the same rate, and many remain trapped in the layer below senior management.   

Among this year’s findings were:

In politics women represent:
  • 22.2 per cent of MPs (up from 19.3 per cent in 2008)
  • 17.4 per cent of Cabinet members (down from 26.1 per cent in 2008)     
  • 21.9 per cent of members of the House of Lords (up from 19.7 per cent in 2008)
  • 13.2 per cent of Local authority council leaders (down from 14.3 per cent in 2008)

In business women represent: ·       
  • 12.5 per cent of directors of FTSE 100 companies (up from 11 per cent in 2007)       
  • 7.8 per cent of directors in FTSE 250 companies (up from 7.2 per cent in 2008)

In media and culture, women represent:
  • 9.5 per cent of national newspaper editors (down from 13.6 per cent in 2008)       
  • 6.7 per cent of chief executives of media companies in the FTSE 350 and the director general of the BBC (down from 10.5 per cent in 2008)
  • 26.1 per cent of directors of major museums and art galleries (up from 17.4 per cent in 2008)

In the public and voluntary sector, women represent:
  • 12.9 per cent of senior members of the judiciary (up from 9.6 per cent in 2008)
  • 22.8 per cent of local authority chief executives (up from 19.5 per cent in 2008)
  • 35.5 per cent of head teachers  of secondary schools (down from 36.3 per cent in 2008)       
  • 14.3 per cent of university vice chancellors (down from 14.4 per cent in 2008)

Studies have shown that outdated working patterns where long hours are the norm, inflexible organisations and the unequal division of domestic responsibilities are major barriers to women’s participation in positions of authority.   The British economy is paying the price for this exclusion.  It has been suggested that greater diversity on corporate boards would improve business performance and increase levels of corporate social responsibility.  

Commissioner Kay Carberry said:
The gender balance at the top has not changed much in three years, despite there being more women graduating from university and occupying middle management roles. We had hoped to see an increase in the number of women in positions of power, however this isn’t happening. Many women disappear from the paid workforce after they have children, so employers lose their skills. Others become stuck in positions below senior management, leaving many feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.  Consequently, the higher ranks of power in many organisations are still dominated by men. If Britain is to stage a strong recovery from its current economic situation, then we have to make sure we’re not wasting women’s skills and talents.

Text and data (c) The Equality and Human Rights Commission

For general enquiries please contact the Commission’s national helpline: England 0845 604 6610, Scotland 0845 604 5510 or Wales 0845 604 8810. 

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.  It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain.  It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.  The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act.  It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.  

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


ELEGY is a new theatre work inspired by interviews with gay Iraqi refugees in Damascus in Syria, who fled mass killings in Baghdad. It tells a moving story of unrequited love, loss and exile and is being performed as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Performed on a bed of 700 items of discarded men’s clothing, Elegy reflects the tragic reality of over 700 hundred homophobic murders at the hands of militia groups in a so-called ‘liberated’ Iraq. The piece is based on interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch and photographs of award winning photojournalist Bradley Secker. It is directed by Douglas Rintoul and performed by Complicite actor Jamie Bradley, with music specially composed by award winning composer Raymond Yiu.

A trailer for Elegy is viewable at and the work has already garnered great notices, being described as "stunning" by Marie Colvin in the Sunday Times. The team behind it have taken a very difficult and little known current situation, homophobic murders in Iraq, and put it into a form by which the audiences can connect with these complex and harrowing narratives.

Elegy has been made possible by a philanthropic gift from an inspirational woman, Mariann Wenckheim, and a grant from the Performance Rights Society Foundation for Music.

ELEGY @ Whitespace (venue #116), 11 Gayfield Square, Edinburgh. EH1 3NT
Aug 10 - 15, 17 - 22, 24 – 28 @ 20:30 (70 mins)
Tickets: £10.00 (£7.00)
Box Office: or Tel +44 (0)131 226 0000

Press enquiries: Emma Cameron, email
Phone: +44 795725233
TRANSPORT’s work includes the acclaimed revival of David Greig’s Europe at the Barbican and Dundee Rep and upcoming UK and European tour of Tena Stivicic’s play Invisible.

press details (c) the producers and team behind Elegy.