Halloween. All hallow's eve.
Whether the roots are pagan or Christian, we cash in on this secular chill that thrills.
The suspense is killing me, so take me back, take me back.
Back to reflect on my interest in horror that started in childhood.
It is more than just academic and festers deep with psychology:
Role playing, body image, transgression;
Canny and uncanny ways to escape from terra firma into incognita.
Here are three of my favourite zero degree chills.
I take all my modern inspiration from Jennifer Kent's Monster.
The suggestive shadow play rather than the yawning gore.
The construction of creeping tension is far more effective than in her feature-length adaption, Babadook.
The domestic image of pots and pans that can never be cleaned
As a mother and child are trapped in a world of their own making
Shattered by the jarring horror in fast motion when we first see the entity as it slices up a staircase.
This is a lovely echo of the stately paced movement of Nosferatu in the silent age.
A modern day fairy tale that is far from Grimm.
It seemed fitting that the possessed mother in Bababook should be supplementing her nightmare
With pills and a diet of TV horror and one scene has her watching Mario Bava's Black Sabbath.
I evoke Mario Bava for this second instalment of being scared and excited at the same time.
His 1966 film, Operazione Paura (Operation Fear) which a slick American producer
Renamed in classic exploitation manner as Kill, Baby Kill.
This story of a village cursed by the ghost of a dead girl is old school
But so compelling is the rolling ball of tension and a set design
Fleshed out in exquisite lighting that old is memorably made new.
Continues the childhood theme.
Rosemary's Baby brought to life by the dark imagination of Roman Polanski
And given a kiss of death by Krzysztof Komeda's haunting score.
The lullaby, la, la, la, figure of eight on a glacial and fragile surface
That will culminate in a poignant maternal instinct;
Red raw seeds of the devil are shaped by the human milk of kindness.
Minus three, two, one.
All hallow's eve. Halloween.
What do you want to communicate with wood and bronze?
The idea or emotion or desire?
The repetitive action: the hammer, the chisel.
The wood and bronze speaks a secret language.
New inner worlds beneath the surface of touch.
Space within and without as we move around the Tate galleries
Transfixed by the idea, emotion and desire.
I return to my studio and sketch a homage to those repetitive actions.
The hammer, the chisel.
Recalling my father, the carpenter.
The hammer, the chisel
The story so far.
An alien space ship is drawn to the mythic high rise structures and Westway (A40) in North Kensington. TX1 the leader of the alien race has decided this was a suitable location to make contact with earthlings rather than equivalent structures at Stonehenge and the Houses of Parliament (too much static and interference detected at the latter).
A local ritual, a fair, is taking place on the green which the locals call estate. Those assembled are feasting, singing and dancing and the universal translator has detected a rap in Christian religious style. There is no threat level although the atmosphere contains noxious hydro-carbons which are a by-product of the engines they use in four-wheeled mode of transport.
TX1 after eight light years of travel through cosmic dust and zero gravity is impressed by the colours of life, especially the shades of green which reminds her of the fertile fields of her planet.
This word, cool, is used a lot and the children like the gladatorial sports, especially football. Should I tell them that their local tribe, QPR, will one day win the double? Bobby Zamora seems to be a local God.
These humans live life in alternating patterns of work and domestic relaxation. The younger ones are happy to write these words on a sheet of paper: awesome, cool, delicious. I do not tell them that I cannot stomach the food they offer, it does not agree with my metabolism. But I find the flowers growing nearby very edible. Who planted these? They should be praised.
As TX1 flies away from Silchester Estate and planet Earth, she takes away memories that are cool and has a few seed cuttings that will be transplanted into the soil of her home planet.
To Μικρό ταξίδι
To Micro Taxithi
The small journey.
This is the name scholars gave to the 8km journey across the azure stretch of Aegean sea
From Anatolia, Asia-Minor, Turkey in-the-making
A red-blooded journey once made from that landmass to the Greek island of Oinoussa.
My family and other animals were empire builders, well versed in trading, seafaring.
Of late they had settled into tilling the Ottoman soil and and selling crops to market.
This bucolic existence prepared them not a jot for twentieth century war, famine, genocide.
Forced to flee and cast out to sea, my grandparents made that small journey from Anatolia to Oinoussa in 1922
While over a million Greeks (not to mention Greek and Turkish muslims) were displaced from their ancient homeland.
Modern refugees from Syria and other conflicted regions are making this self-same journey
Across the Aegean to Oinoussa and the nearby islands of Chios and Lesbos.
Where will their journey take them ?
I am compelled to tell of another more expansive journey in 1943.
The phoney war was dead real and my father limped on foot and by boat from Poland to England.
He joined the Polish Free Army and armed with wings of freedom parachuted back into Europe
Only to experience a bitter victory as Communism replaced Nazism.
He joined the ranks of over 200,000 Poles who settled down for a new life in England.
A small journey from Włocławek to London, boy to man, soldier to carpenter.
Return back to the future on the island of Oinoussa.
In 1959 my mother makes the painful decision to wave goodbye to her father for the last time.
Her sister has already made the move and tempts her with dresses from Shepherds Bush market.
Another journey is made by boat to the white cliffs of Dover and a sterling new world.
A small journey from Oinoussa to London, girl to woman, servant to dinner-lady.
While my father's earthly voyage has ended, the diaspora is beginning anew.
Today more desperate migrations are being made by air, land and even under the English channel.
Bodies are once again being washed ashore on the beaches of Oinoussa, Chios and Lesbos.
Where will all these journeys take you?
If one day you arrive on this fair isle of England, I will be there to welcome you.
Polish Parachute Brigade, 1945
Farewell party for Moshoula Christofis
The house my Grandfather built in 1922 on the island of Oinoussa
The transmigration of Greek souls
16x12 " oil pastels
The small journey across the Aegean
64x41 " oil pastels
Tune in next week for the next exciting instalment of............... Alien vs Silchester Estate
Art work created by residents of Silchester and Lancaster West estate
(With a little joined up drawing from an artist in residence).
Radio and television electromagnetic signals have been beamed into outer space for over a century now. If alien life forms had the requisite equipment to decode these signals, what on earth would they make of them? Would they be inspired to mount a response or simply be turned off?
While we wait for a friendly signal or an invasion force, I settle down to watch Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot.
Sugar Kane has befriended Josephine and Daphne. She is now "making love" to Junior, a sugar daddy who talks like Cary Grant. If Sugar could just look beyond the plane of phallacy, she might cotton on to the fact that Junior multiplied by Josephine, equals Joe. Joe incidentally is a saxophonist in between blow jobs. With knickers and boxer shorts all twisted, the travails of Sugar Kane echo those of Marilyn Monroe and comedy overdoses into tragedy.
I'm experiencing the film on a Sony Wega LCD digital t.v. that will receive an analogue signal until 2012. Marilyn Monroe as viewed in analogue is perfectly stable. Digitally, she appears more ravishing but there is a spanner in the works. Completely unscripted, her monochrome digital image will fragment and decay turning into colourful strips of pixellated chaos. Sugar and Marilyn are threatened, not by men or drugs or fame, but rather the electromagnetic interference caused by a boiler or fridge or washing machine in my kitchen.
Perversely, I welcome these non-advertised breaks in my viewing and catalogue them using an SLR loaded with film: Match of The Day Lineker with crinkle-cuts in his image (bless him!); David Tennant possessed by the boiler-fridge monster; Celia Johnson with the mother of all grit in her eye; Gregg Wallace as a mashed potato; Gordon Brown in a recessive spin; Jonathan Ross, self-imploding; and Kylie unveiling a new fangled cubist look.
Footnote for Extra Terrestrial cultures:
Marilyn Monroe - iconic film actress of the 20th century who died in 1962 of a drug overdose.
Gary Lineker - former footballer turned sports broadcaster and Walkers crisp advertiser.
David Tennant - Scottish actor who found fame as the 10th Doctor Who.
Dame Celia Johnson - actress who starred in the 1945 romantic drama Brief Encounter.
Gregg Wallace - chummy bloke on MasterChef who likes pudding.
Gordon Brown - gruff Prime Minister of Britain from 2007-2010.
Jonathan Ross - tv and radio personality who has difficulty pronouncing the letter 'r'.
Kylie Minogue - Princess of pop, singer, song-writer and actress.
First published in London Independent Photography, Spring 2009.