Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Bookshelves, Carpentery and The Living End
And so begins another Edinburgh Festival. A few posts ago I referred to it as the Truly Detestable Edinburgh Festival, largely to shoehorn a gratuitous Edwin Collins pun into a moribund review. It's also because every year I feel an ache of apprehension at the invasion of this sleepy burgh by marauding hordes of fledgling PR's with gawping turistas cluttering my normally serene progress through town. Then it starts and I spend the first week manically running around going to a scatter of varied events and staying up way too late. The festivals are what they are and what they are is a fantastic excuse to to run around going to a scatter of varied events and stay up way too late while dodging fledgling PR's and gawping turistas.
First up was the launch of the Edinburgh Art Festival with the Cockburn Street Party joint-hosted by Stills and the Collective Gallery. Thanks to superbly timed downpour the "street party" become "two openings opposite one another with people pegging it between the two". The Stills exhibition of the Martha Rosler Library is right up my street being, well, a library. Had a great time riffling through things finding some superb book titles. Favourites being a translation of Paul Auge's "Non Places: an introduction to the anthropology of super-modernity", "The New Mauve- a collection of flower arrangements by Constance Spry" and the sublime "Grammar of Motives". The library is Rosler's own collection as such has loads of postcards, tickets and other ephemera stuck in as place markers.
It reminded me of Myles NaGopaleen's business idea for "Buchhandlung" in which the libraries of the rich and vulgar are finessed by a qualified person to make it appear that the books had been read. This would be on a sliding scale to suit all pockets:
"Popular Handling" would ensure that all books would be:
"well and truly handled, four leaves in each to be dog-eared, and a tram ticket...or other comparable item inserted in each as a forgotten book-mark"
"Premier Handling" would involved each:
"volume being thoroughly handled...a suitable passage in not less than 25 volumes to be underlined in red pencil"
"De Luxe Handling" would leave smaller volumes with:
"the impression they have been carried around in pockets..., an old Gate Theatre programme to be inserted in each volume as a forgotten book mark, not less than 30 volumes to be treated with old coffee, tea, porter and whiskey stains, and not less than 5 volumes to be inscribed with forged signatures of the authors. "
Then we come, inevitably to the Superb Treatment or "Le Traitement Superbe, as we lads who spent our honeymoon in Paris prefer to call it" in which books are subjected to all manner of thorough and learned handling by master handlers:
"who shall have to his credit not less than 550 handling hours...suitable passages in not less than fifty per cent of the books to be underlined...and an appropriate phrase from the list inserted in the margin, viz:
Yes, but cf.Homer, Od, iii,151.
Well, well, well
I remember poor Joyce saying the very same thing to me."
At this stage Le Traitement Superbe is only getting into its stride,
"Not less than 6 volumes to be inscribed with forged messages of affection and gratitude from the author of each work, e.g.,
'From your devoted friend and follower, K Marx.'
'Dear A.B.,-Your invaluable suggestions and assistance, not to mention your kindness, in entirely re-writing chapter 3, entitles you surely to this first copy of "Tess". From your old friend T.Hardy.'"
This is by no means the full extent of Traitement in store for the hulking libraries of the wealthy illiterate and I would heartily recommend finding a copy of "The Best of Myles" from which these incomplete and completely un-authorised quotes were culled.
Anyway, I digress. The exhibition is a fascinating and compulsive space for a book lover. It could also serve as a fantastic resource for passing new bands who are looking for names! The launch itself was quite busy so not really conducive to the really deep pointless browsing that the exhibition deserves. X and the Living End deserve special mention for providing tunes and flawless crowd control.
Over the road then to Collective and The Golden Record which is a cross platform/cross festival event that looks to recreate a record portraying the diversity of life and culture on earth. More than 100 artists contributed work to the exhibit in the gallery. This is combined with a weekly comedy hustings in which a variety of comedians stand for election in the vote to decide who is the Representative of Planet Earth. There was a projected film in the back with BBC4-esque narration that makes this sound a lot less interesting than it probably is. I have issues with stand up comedy, I enjoy laughter but would tentatively suggest that the last thing Edinburgh needs in August is more comedy. That said, the lineup is good and John Hegley's record cover in the exhibition is a thing of stark brown-baggy beauty. Collective are brilliant at joining things up and have done some great stuff in the past with the Book Festival and National Library of Scotland.
The launch was rammed and good fun with Karen Carpenter (she's looking GREAT) entertaining the crowd. I'd forgotten how much I loved "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft". Entertaining raffle too with Karen and Miss Le Bomb holding court!
There's loads more in the Art Festival over the month and I hope to cover more of it in the coming weeks. More to come from the Book, Fringe and International festivals too.
Comments, quibbles, gripes and declarations of undying devotion gladly accepted.