Sunday, 1 February 2009

Goodbye Astoria We Love You

I was lucky enough to get the Annie Liebovitz show on Thursday, at the National Portrait Gallery. It was very busy but that seemed to add to it, rather than being frustrating. It was a very 'full' show, encompassing all aspects of her work.

I was particularly interested in the family photos and photos of her lover Susan Sontag, which documented their life together, Sontag's illness and eventual death in 2004. Strong and emotional stuff. Liebovitz had her first child at the age of 51 (and I was thought I was old having Sam at 36!) and her photos of her little girl and subsequent twins, born to a surrogate mother in 2005, were beautiful and compelling.

The best bit of the show was at the end, where in a contructed side room were hundreds of photos and contact sheets, pinned up under glass, in an informal and intimate way. All life, its ups and downs, happy and sad times, blissful and tragic moments was reflected here. I particularly liked the photo of Patti Smith with her two children and the photos taken in Sarajevo.

I also went to Anthony's show (of Anthony and the Johnsons) at the delightful Isis gallery. A very small but pleasant space in Hanway Street. I was sorry to have missed David Tibet's show there but funnily enough he was there with his partner Andria Degens who is Pantaleimon, whose music I have written about on here before. I was too shy to say hello. I didn't want to be the 'gushing fan' but I do love the music they make.

I then went to look for the October Gallery to see the Bryon Gysin show but somehow I kept missing the street it is in and walked all round Bloomsbury for hours, coming across places I have never seen before but in the end feeling very tired and pissed off that I didn't get there. Never mind, there may still be time...

I shouldn't really have been out at all as I still have a chest infection but desperately needed to get out and do something before going back to uni. I walked past the Astoria, which has now closed and will be demolished soon. They have promised that another venue will eventually be built to replace it, but of course it will never be the same.

I really have lost count of the bands I have seen there but a few would be: Revolting Cocks, Nine Inch Nails, Loop, The Happy Mondays (an early gig where they were suppporting and got bottled off), On U Sound System, The Cramps... and loads of others that are lost in the mists of time.

London seems to be going through some big changes at the moment. I am sure the credit crunch and approaching recession will see it change in many more ways which cannot yet be predicted. The city is always changing but it does seem to have some sort of momentum and different energy about it at the moment. Like a purge...I don't know. I may write more about this... But it is still the most unfathomable, beautiful, and inspiring place.

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