Thursday, 2 December 2010

Waiting anxiously for 2011 people escape to the world of fantasy and imagination

It seems to me that after the raise and fall of the 'optimistic consumerism' - a grand narrative of the early 21-century, people in the UK seem to be 'silenced'. They are put on hold, in between something to which there is no return and something new, a new narrative that hasn’t yet emerged.
Since future is still an anxious question mark they escape to the world of privacy and to fantasy. In this time of ‘little stability’ it's not too bad yet. But doesn’t feel like its going to be any better any time soon. So … why not get the most out of it and… play play play.

A revival of 'vintage'

Welcome to the world of fantasy than! 70-ties are back and back in glory. It seems that grass - root vintage trend entered the high street stores and designer catwalks. East London certainly is a vintage Mecca, but thrift boutiques, vintage markets, retro outlets and retro hair dressers have populated the streets of entire London and far beyond. Not forgetting the big come back of mustache? Or am I a bit too east- london biased?

High street is so uncool!

'Back to seventies' is certainly much more than just a fashion trend. In the anxious, uncertain world, people embrace the color, the kitsch chic, the bigger - then- life forms and compositions. It is a big nod to people's bottom up creativity and courage. Anything goes as long as it resembles what we imagine as 'vintage' . Certainly no one really distinguish between what's 50ties, what's 70ties - Mad Men will tell you. What matters is that next to somebody dressed 'vintage', high street posh brands look lazy and stupid. Who would want a high street outfit when you can have a 'Mad Men' for 35! And trust me, is not about price. High street is just so uncool! Big brands feel so passé. Yuk!

Dress - up and dance like there's no tomorrow

Never seen and attended so many 'dress- up' parties in my life! Swinging 50ties, Cindirella vintage, Welcome to the forest - its just a few of them I attended. And people put enormous effort into dressing up and finding most hilarious clothes for these parties. And trust me it is not only about women! Everybody wants to sneak in to the world of fantasy and dream. This time is not about posh. This time is about carless joy, imaginatation and sharing.

So play play play. Before a new narrative arrives. Before its’ too late.

PS. Realize my fashion expertise might sound not too credible ☺, so I recommend 70s Style and Design by Kirsty Hislop and Dominic Lutyens, 15£ Amazon. Photo in this blog is the one used on the cover of the book.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Student protest in the UK: Where are the brands when people really need them?

In what might become the defining experience of the generation of young Brits, brands, that normally call for ‘breaking the norms’, ‘being rebellious’ and ‘fighting for your rights’ are dramatically silent.

Amazing opportunity for brands to help young people to tell their true story of their protest in the times when Tory -dominated big media are framing demonstrators as violent disruptors of social order. Yes, it would mean political involvement. Yes, it would mean making some enemies. But in the times when brands want to ‘engage in conversations’ and be part of ‘real lives’ of people they cannot simply stay silent. And pretend that nothing happened. Conflict is part of real life of real people. If brands want to get closer to them they need to take sides and support their consumers when they need it.

Britain is facing the largest student demonstrations in decades. Young people, including pupils in their early teens and students from various colleges are protesting against the planned government cuts in education. Proposed changes mean end of large public investment in the higher education and dramatic rise of university fees. Many economic commentators suggest that these cuts have nothing to do with the savings. They are purely driven by conservative ideology. Tory rich mummy boys can pay for education. Working class kids do not have to go to university. Right?

So kids are on the streets. And it is not just about leaving classroom
for few hours. This is serious stuff. The Tory plans mean that for many of them getting a degree will be just too expensive or they will end up in debts for the rest of their lives. So no, contrary to government line of spin and Tory press these are not just ridiculous demonstrations captured by extremists or anarchists. This is about real future or the generation.

And when tens of thou sands people are protesting of course there always will be acts of violence! Yes, someone will scream f*** the police! And some will get really angry. So far they protesters destroyed few shops and 1 police car. This is not terribly bad? In large this is a peaceful manifestation of justified discontent. Led often by female pupils. People march with posters like “I will not have chance to meet my prince at uni” or “Tory farce kiss my arse” or “How will I learn to spel?”. This is not anarchy. This is young people’s legitimate protest about things that matter to them.

I am shocked by the media response. I am shocked as I thought they should be proud of the people that actually bother to do something political. That in the age of meaninglessness they fight for something and do things that mean something! That actually they want to take the future in their own hands instead of counting on parents’ support. Or go to pub presenting themselves as ‘lost generation’.

I am shocked by Labour party response. In theory they support students. But they so much lack the focus of their policy that their voice remains unheard these days.

I am shocked that brands are not using this obvious space. And do something good for their most promising future consumers and trend- setters.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

10 reasons why you should visit Hong Kong if you are extinct European species. A city that lives its future as quickly as it forgets its past

1. Get proper propotions. Arriving at the airport build on the artificial island, pass over 2 km long bridge that links it with Kowloon, get to your room at 30 something floor with the view over Hong Kong .. and see the forest of scyscapers rising in front of your eyes. Have a look at the South China Morning Post at breakfast and even do not try to look at the property price list. Yes, you’ve come from a tiny old village called Europe. The last remaining dinosaur.

2. Resist (or not) the „yellow fever“. If you fancy seeing white- sixty- years- old anglosaxon men attached to sixteen- year – old Chinese beauties - Hong Kong is the place. Apparently white men go crazy about Asian women the moment they come to Hong Kong. What did..Said write about Orientalism? Colonialism is not dead.

3. See the redefined luxury and … feel free to reject it. If you ever felt diminished walking past European most chic shopping streets go to Hong Kong. And see 5- storey Louis Vuitton on every corner. Feels like Mac Donalds. Anti - big brand therapy … oh yeah!

4. Fuel your imagination at Hollywood Road. Walking past little alleys with little antique shops, old Chinese jewellery, beautiful figures and marble animals. Probably the closest existing reincarnation of Bruno Schultz’s Sklepy Cynamonowe.

5. Sense the pulse the city in vertical and horizontal. Embrace Hong Kong‘s‚ unexpected colours, textures, smells and sounds on the ground, below and above. Melt in intense tones and unexpected combinations. Red that is really red and green that strikes with its absurdity. Smell the sea and the fish and the spices. Treat yourself with foot message. This city awakens all your senses. Do not control it. Breath it in.

6. Dine al fresco on the 61 st floor. Nothing wrong in embracing the nouveaux riche sometimes. London roof -terraces – go and hide!

7. Something Cheesy and Romantic: Fall in love with Kowloon – Hong Kong ferry. The most charming and efficient way of everyday commuting ever discovered. Be quick. Land reclaim means the bay is getting smaller everyday.

8. Have Lunch in former Admirality Club at Macao where colonial world meets brutal consumerism. And understand why Portuguese spent there over 500 years. A magical culinary and cultural journey in time surrounded by world’s ugliest casinos. Unforgettable. Only one hour away from HK.

9. Make friends with the Chinese. Hong Kong is probably the most alienating city I’ve ever visited when it comes to contact with indigenous population. Because there is NO contact whatsoever.

10. Come back, as tomorrow will not be same as today. Hong Kong is changing faster than chameleon. Remember present.This city lives the future as quicky as it forgets its own past.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Ain't no country for a revolution

The UK government has announced the biggest cuts since Thatcher’s Government. Guardian has exposed that the cuts will be even bigger that those from 30 years ago. Later on Royal Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates, that, contrary to government's claims that 'the cuts are fair', the cuts will affect the poorest the most. People will loose children and housing benefit. Schools will get less money for pupils. Students will have to pay even more for tuition fees. Government is freezing salaries in the public sector for the next 200 years and freezing large amount of stuff. The VAT will rise. Local councils are loosing amazing amounts of money. And what? What happens next? Nothing!

No, people are not on the streets. Trade unions are not announcing strikes. There is no slightest sign of public anger. Brits are still in pubs drinking beer and dressing up for the craziest Halloween parties. France would be on fire! There would be a proper revolution.

Those people here are just mad! Just not sure if good mad or bad mad.

So if they are „good mad“ it is a sign of amazing responsibility. This would mean that British society has an amazing sense of common sense. This would mean they actually realize the simple fact (that no society realizes) that if you live on credit, you have to pay it back. This would also mean that especially British middle classes, people who have been working really hard for years (harder than les Francaises if I may say so) - are actually totally cool with paying and suffering for not their own sins! Amazing. Because this is what British people do. They are polite and responsible. They mind the gap and wait in a queue.

But there is a chance that actually they are ‚bad mad‘ or ‚desperate mad‘. It might mean that they are so disillusioned that they just do not care any longer and ignore whatever the government do. They know that the only way in which they can save themselves is to mind their own business. They know that there is no pint in protesting - that the Tory government will not give up. And they do not believe in their ble ble ble about Big Society. If this is the case, it is rather sad. It would mean that people are loosing confidence that they could do something together. That they stop trusting that collective action makes sense. That they retreat back to their private lives. And celebrate Halloween like never before – a leap to a world of fantasy and illusion, just to get away from real for a second.

Therefore, where I found this poster at SOAS I felt relieved. Somebody still cares. Something still matters.

Friday, 29 October 2010

The Social Network: It's not where you come from, it's where you speak from

I can’t believe I am actually writing about this, but I am. Just seen The Social Network and I loved it. Not so much the film, but Mark Zuckerberg‘s story. I love the story. Love it to pieces.

The film touches upon few things that are amazing about facebook. Few things that come from such brilliantly simple observations. And get the spirit of the generation.

It is fantastically egalitarian. Get rid of the closed and exclusive. Get rid of the tribal thinking. Everyone can be member. Everybody can be friends on facebook. Those neglected, and those famous. No class, no privilege, no inheritance. Never ever closed doors.

Its not where you come from, its where you speak from. What you say is what matters. Not your parents. Not your titles. Not your business card. Yes, you might want to airbrush the photos you send, sex up your comments but at the end it is your individual expression. You cannot buy it. You have to create it.

It doesn’t break the rules. It reinvents them. The rebellion of my generation is not really about destruction. It is about reinvention.

It’s cause- driven, not- money driven. It made us all global citizens, gave us tools to be heard when we fight cause. And if you earn, 65 billion dollars on the way, by – the – way … well, it is even better, I certainly wouldn' t mind.

Friday, 15 October 2010

My Manifesto. The fall and rise of the life 'in between'

As much as I hate the pain of being in constant carousel of people, landscapes feelings and lifestyles I can’t imagine being in one place for good. I am afraid the only meaning that keeps me going is the open door that are left open for my curiosity, escape and love.

Indeed it may seem quite neurotic. It also means complete inability to make decisions that are final and that could anyhow determine other things and other people. Indeed for the last couple of months I have been not only travelling back and forth between UK, Krakow and Warsaw, but also I moved houses in London four times. Crazy. Hate myself for it. So does dear Pawel. On the bigger picture indeed all my life trajectories, and I honestly think there is more than one, are somehow constantly disrupted, interrupted and never set, never planned and always in the process of partly- planned and partly- spontaneous last -minute creation.

I live in a couple of peoplespaces, ideaspaces, culturespaces. London inspires me and drives my constant curiosity, it takes me to mature – land in the independent and not wifely way. I kind of like myself more here. It gives me energy and yes, pretty often takes me to the state of euphoria as well as complete depression.My friends make it cosy and loving for me. Places I love make it exciting, and addictive, oh and very fast. Yet, certainly I am from elsewhere. Not because I feel alien here, but because I want to feel part of elsewhere. When I come THERE, after initial mixture of weirdness, I do feel home, familiar and in the right place - in my place. I switch to home mode instantly. Mrs Kazia as always sells veggies, saturday newspapers feel like I had never stopped reading them. It all feels like I haven’t missed on anything, nothing has really changed. I switch instantly to my other life – with people I love, places where I meet friends. Back in London, feel alone and alien at first instance, I hate the emotional pain of feeling alone at the airport. Yet it takes few hours to melt into my second life that runs flawless, feels natural, like I had always lived here.

But in between is not only about living in two or more different places at the same time. Life in between is really about not letting to frame you in a one-dimensional way, in one box, in one bubble. I guess first of all is about forcing yourself out of your comfort- zone all the time. For many months I felt so much trapped in the bubble of advertising world – unreal, superficial and workaholic. But yet, certain and comforting in its routine. When I quit Saatchi’s and went back to the university I‘ve suddenly realized that the whole charm of academic looked tempting and fascinating from the outside – deep, inspiring, life and world changing. Inside, I’ve realized that I replaced one bubble with another – claustrophobic, self – obsessed, creating own language and own celebrity culture. Yet, I became a student again, with all exams ahead, with established structure, all the memories of school exams, pain and stress returned. Like Jozek from Ferdydurke. And I cried. And I screamed. And I wanted to get away. I wanted back to my „superficial’ ad world and Ariel brief writing.

So indeed after all this going back and forth I want to officially praise the ‚in between‘ life. Yes it might be annoying for me and Pawel, painful and yes, superficial, cause nothing is for good and nothing is for real. But in essence it helps to draw the most out of my little life, its designed to feed my curiosity. Life in between forces me to look for more and for different, teaches me out –of- the- box thinking, showes the new horizons and indulges my senses to taste the world in all its beauty. It is like a drug that always keeps me walking, sometimes… just for the sake of walking.

Perhaps, I will reach the art of standing still one day. But for now, I need to go.

(to catch 6 am flight tomorrow to krakow)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Czy multikulturalizm jest zagrożeniem dla liberalnych wartości? (English version will follow)

Społeczeństwa europejskie stały się w ostatnich latach wieloetniczną i wielokulturową mozaiką. Islam stał się drugą największą religią Europy. Tureckie budki z kebabem wpisały się na stałe w krajobraz niemieckiej ulicy, a tika masala została daniem narodowym Brytjczyków. Wydawać by się mogło, że liberalny punkt widzenia będzie afirmować ten wielokulturowy stan rzeczy, uznając różnorodność za dar, który wzbogaca społeczeństwa, a nie problem stanowiący potencjalne zagrożenie. W końcu otwartość, uwielbienie wolności i tolerancja dla innych punktów widzenia wpisane są w DNA liberalnego światopoglądu. W teorii.

W praktyce jednak liberalny system wartości zostaje wystawiony na poważną próbę w kontekście wielokulturowych realiów Europy. Multikulturalizm oznacza przecież otwartość również na te systemy przekonań, które niekoniecznie żyją w przyjaznej neutralności wobec liberalnego świata wartości. Symboliczną manifestację tego problemu stanowi tocząca się od kilkunastu lat w Europie "wojna czadorów". Czador (czyli pełne okrycie), lub tylko chusta okrywająca głowy niektórych kobiet muzułmańskich jest dla wielu Saudyjek, Pakistanek czy Turczynek żyjących w Europie elementem podkreślenia ich własnej tożsamości - religijnej czy kulturowej. Stanowi ona o ich odrębności, jest elementem ich autoekspresji, podobnie jak koszulka z Che Guevarą dla lewicowego radykała czy szalik Legii Warszawa dla kibica piłkarskiego. Ta sama chusta czy czador bywają jednak interpretowane, jako wymóg prawa koranicznego i są narzucane kobietom. A to z liberalnego punktu widzenia może być widziane jako próba wprowadzenia szariatu tylnymi drzwiami na podwórko Europy oraz przejaw dyskryminacji kobiet.Podobnych dylematów jest wiele. Co powinien zrobić liberał w sytuacji, w której duński rysownik tworząc karukaturę Mahometa obraża największe sacrum dla muzułanów przedstawiając go jako Taliba? Żarty religijne są przecież elementem wolności słowa. Liberał powinien jej bronić. Ale czy jej obrona w tym szczególnym kontekście nie jest próbą narzucenia muzułmanom własnego światopoglądu? A przecież liberał brzydzi się etnocentryzmu.

Leszkek Kołakowski, w znamiennym eseju "Szukanie barbarzyńcy". O złudzeniach uniwersalizmu kulturowego zastanawiał się czy życzliwe zainteresowanie i całkowita tolerancja względem innych kultur możliwe są tylko wtedy, kiedy przestało się brać własny system wartości na serio. Idąc tropem tego myślenia być może jest tak, że liberał musi przestać być liberałem, aby nim pozostać.Spotkanie "Czy multikulturalizm jest zagrożeniem dla liberalnych wartości?" odbędzie się w czwartek, 30 września, godz. 18 w warszawskiej siedzibie "Gazety", ul. Czerska 8/10 (wejście od ul. Czerniakowskiej).Współorganizatorzy: Magazyn Liberte!, Projekt: Polska, Fundacja im. Friedricha Naumanna - Fundacja na Rzecz WolnościWięcej...,89397,8432065,Debata__Czy_multikulturalizm_jest_zagrozeniem_dla.html#ixzz10pgsoVsR

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Good Pitch is a one-day live event organized by Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation bringing together specially selected partners

Indeed I was a slightly 'tired' after previous night's Saatchi 40 party, but what I saw at Royal Institution was truly groundbreaking. All day was around finding creative ways of supporting films which do good and have ambition to have a lasting impact – be it support education model in Kenya, sports among older people, fight against drugs, understand homelessness, or live with cancer. Each one was a huge social cause in its own right.

Throughout the day eight different filmmaking teams were pitching their films and its associated outreach campaign to the assembled audience with the aim of creating a unique coalition around each film to maximise its impact and influence. Filmmakers were looking for money, but also for distribution, postproduction, different ways in which their ideas could travel. So for every pitch presentation special panel would be assembled, everytime tailored to the needs of the film and the idea – brand people would sit with broadcasters, with academics or think – tank leaders, NGOs, policy - makers. All hosted and moderated by amazing Jess Search, head of Channel 4 BRIT DOC Foundation.

Couple of thoughts.

Amazing format to encourage brands/ marketing companies to engage in social causes that goes beyond sponsoring and actually make them excited. Opportunity to co - create rather than take for granted.

Amazing format to recreate in Poland or anywhere else. I would love to see this happening around ideas, not necessairly ready or half- ready films. I think it's an amazing opportunity to encourage a grass roots participation, fresh artists, non- professionals.

Amazing day of inspiration for my own documentary project about Palestine. And made me realized that making documentary is a huge project that takes much more than just an idea – and I have no idea about any of the important things – do I need dierector? Who will be my producer etc. But, hey nothing is impossible.

Below, the list of films that were pitched - enjoy!

And a trailer of one of the films - One Small Act

Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic

What sort of artist Francis Alys is? What is his artistic discipline? I was trying hard to explain to a friend when I got back from exhibition at Tate Modern. Nope, not a painter, not a pianist, not even a photographer. Hmm I guess the closest I could figure out was that he is an artist of society. Socartist. His work come from observation of culture, society and tensions that exist within them. He's work comes from translating political into poetic. From exposing extraordinary in ordinary. Born in Belgium he lives and works in Lima. He's done couple of spectacular things - like a project about moving dunnes. He convinced hunderds of students to get together and do something that is purely impossible - move amazingly huge dunne. Larger than village, larger than anything that could be seen in horizon. A spectacular example of human collaboration that could be stronger and more powerful than nature, than frustration. And estetically beautiful.

For personal reasons, the most interesting out of his projects was the film called Green Line. Breathtaking documentary where he tries to recrate The Green Line. The line, drawn in 47 (likely) that was supposed to divide Palestine into two independent countries. Alys takes a green paint, makes a hole in the can and walks along the original green line - he starts his joureny well before Jerusalem, corssing Old Town, Jewish Quater, Arabic Quater, East Jerusalem, Palestinian Villages, posh Israeli neighbourhoods, Jewish Orthodox District. His journey makes the viewer think about the complexity of borders - its power to create here and there, to divide, to mark us from the other - but also, in a strange way, a complicty, collaboration of the two sides. It becomes very clear that one side cannot exist without the other. What's the most amazing is that actually we see more than one film. In his trial to portray many different points of veiw, variety of simultaneous narratives that are emerging from recration of the green line - he recorded 12 different voice overs. Each of them marks a conversation that happened spontanously when he presented the film to different people - Jews and Palestinians, architects, campagner, fighters, people living there ... and elswhere. So we hear 12 stories commenting the same footage - different feelings, different angles, different ways of resolving the conflict .. and the same one hope.

If there is one single thing I could ever done in my life - this would be it. Absolutely stunning.