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BONE MUSIC: Recording Communism at the ICA

Resistance to dominant political forces can come in many forms. A small audience at the ICA on Sunday was treated to two excellent discussions about two forms of resistance in the former Soviet bloc and Romania. At the heart of both stories are illegal bootlegging and the remarkable ingenuity people find when faced with censorship…

Jo Varney | November 20, 2016
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PREVIEW: ‘Chuck Norris vs. Communism’ with special guest Irina Margareta Nistor, ‘the most famous voice of Communist cinephilia’ – Romanian Cultural Institute 11/11

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In 1985 Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Romanian dictator, was in his twentieth year of Communist rule. The country was culturally isolated, all forms of external media choked off, and in a cost and energy-saving exercise Ceaușescu cut state TV from two channels to one, limiting broadcasting to two or three hours a day. As in other Eastern Bloc…

Jo Varney | November 3, 2016
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EXHIBITION REVIEW: Soak, Steam, Dream: Reinventing Bathing Culture

Until 28 January next year, Soak, Steam, Dream: Reinventing Bathing Culture is on at Roca Galleries, in Chelsea Harbour. It’s an exhibition primarily of architectural designs for bathing spaces – saunas and bathhouses and the like – and old photographs and archival documents. Roca Galleries was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and opened in 2011…

Jo Varney | October 31, 2016
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EXHIBITION REVIEW: Power and Architecture Part I at Calvert 22

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The world over, architecture has always been, and will likely always be, a potent manifestation of a society’s power, influence and above all, aspiration. Across the post-Soviet world, people today live with the legacies of grand monuments and high-rise cathedrals of Modernism that signified the grand ambitions of rulers past. Calvert 22’s Power and Architecture…

Jo Varney | June 29, 2016
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RCI EVENT: ‘Brâncuși: The British Connection’, reviewed by Jo Varney

There are 18 Romanian Cultural Institutes around the world and on Friday 19th February, from London to Paris to Berlin, all simultaneously celebrated the birthday of one of Romania’s national heroes– Constantin Brâncuși. Born in 1876, Brâncuși was a sculptor who displayed almost unparalleled virtuosity in the way he controlled and reduced forms: eventually liberating…

Jo Varney | February 26, 2016
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‘Poets of the City (Vitka – Blatný – Jan)’, reviewed by Jo Varney

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Poets of the City was a one-off performance, last Friday, at the Oxford House theatre in Bethnal Green – a triple bill of dances performed by the excellent ProART group, a diverse theatre company established in Brno in the Czech Republic since 2004. Their philosophy is to combine traditionally separate media into a multi-genre mode…

Jo Varney | February 4, 2016
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REMEMBERING BOSNIA: ‘Warriors’ (Kosminsky, 1999) reviewed by Jo Varney

Barely four years after the official end of the war in Bosnia, the BBC aired the two-part drama Warriors (1999), a fictionalised account of a British battalion sent to Bosnia from ’92-’93 (the height of the war there) under the auspices of UNPROFOR, the UN peacekeeping force. Written by Leigh Jackson and directed by Peter…

Jo Varney | December 23, 2015