Where Are We NOW?

We’re at the fag-end of August, almost six years after the moment that set off the series of events that would change Mrs Stroke Bloke’s and my life forever. But no doubt we’ll get to that in due course.

For now, the Edinburgh Festival has just finished and the smell of sulphur from the massive closing fireworks display that rattled our windows last night is fading.

The Devil Offers Zero-Hour Contracts
‘What? No, that was just me running my venue.’

[Check out the Apoplexy Tiny Letter, where the devil always has the best tunes.]

Towards the beginning of the month, I attended a filming of the news and discussion show Scotia (hosted by Robert J Somynne and Michael Gray and produced by the indefatigable Phantom Power) that included coverage of whether, if, and how the Festival works for the city, its citizens, the artists, and the workers.

My joy at returning to an Edinburgh that seemed to have more energy than the one I had left in 1996-ish had left me eagerly consuming what was available on the Festival since 2013.

How Michael Macintyre prepares his sets
‘Would sir care for one more stand-up comedy set?’

I would check out friends’ shows and get tickets for other shows by doing irregular reviewing gigs, and hoard money for Book Festival tickets and larger shows. This year was different, because The Wee Man will only tolerate a certain amount of theatre depicting the credit crunch from the inside of a bad trip soundtracked by Party In The U.S.A.

It was easier to understand the locals’ grumpiness about The World’s Largest Arts Festival™️, particularly with the observations of an episode of Scotia behind me.

What’s wrong with you, Wee Man?! That’s a great choon!

So let’s skip the Festival for the purposes of today’s post. The Wee Man and I stayed on the off-Fringe fringes of town one day and hit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to check out the exhibition NOW.

The NOW exhibitions… reflect the Gallery’s ambition to share contemporary art with a wide audience, highlighting the extraordinary quality and range of work being made by artists associated with Scotland, and placing art created in Scotland in an international context.

As well as Jenny Saville, the exhibition featured work by (among others) South Africa’s Robin Rhode which drew upon this blog’s recent obsession, Le Corbusier, as an influence.

In order to save himself from this chaos, in order to provide himself with a bearable, acceptable framework for his existence, one productive of human well-being and control, man has projected the laws of nature into a system that is a manifestation of the human spirit itself: geometry – Le Corbusier

Looks more Troughton to me
“There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes” – The Fourth Doctor

Rhode’s work is really worth checking out. I may be an artistic abecedarian – I’ve just this minute learned that awesome word – but I was reminded of another artistic hero, Ellsworth Kelly, who was influenced by Brâncuși’s simplification of natural forms and converted leaves and landforms into monumental, geometric, often monochromatic, shapes.

Finally emerging from the Festival, I find that I’ve managed to make it to a couple of shows by playwrights and writers I admire. There’s a feeling that they’re grappling with weighty issues in ambitious shows and seeing if they will fit into the shape of a piece of art.  my visits to the Book Festival mean I’ve got a new batch of books to start reading. Therein, people and protagonists will be trying to find meanings and impose narratives on chaos.

Thanks. I'll leave my shoes at the flapjack
No! Bad chaos!

Unrelatedly, I guess I’ll have to catch up on the news now…

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