Art on the Fringe

The Brisbane Fringe Festival returns next month with a variety of local artists staging performances in some traditional and not-so-traditional venues across the city. Running from August 14 to 31, the Brisbane Fringe Festival (BFF) is a not-for-profit event that is now in its third year.

Fringe

The BFF is a celebration of talent and creativity across the local arts community and provides opportunities for artists to present their work and secure recognition. The festival will incorporate a wide range art styles and forms, including poetry, music, comedy, film, dance, theatre, visual art, cabaret and circus.

To find out more about the various performances or peruse the full schedule of events at BFF 2014, head to the festival website.

The World According to Art

The QUT Art Museum is currently featuring two exhibitions that should be of great interest to anybody interested in artworks that critique and/or showcase the changing social and political contexts of the world in which we live.

Carol Jerrems: Photographic Artist

This exhibition showcases the work of Australian photographer Carol Jerrems and her work in the 1970’s. Jerrems captured documentary-style images of those campaigning for justice and recognition, such as women, young people and Indigenous people, all of whom were still very much marginalised at this point in Australian history. Many of her images have come to define the ‘70’s and the counter-culture movement that challenged the status quo and ultimately brought about significant social change.

Jerrems

Born in 1949, Jerrems studied photography at Prahran College between 1967 and 1970. For her, photography occupied a crucial social role in changing society for the better and her talents as a photographer were widely recognised. She died from a rare form of cancer in Melbourne in 1980 and aspects of her life and work were the focus of the 2005 documentary Girl in a Mirror.

Such was her influence, Jerrems was the first contemporary female Australian photographer to have work acquired by the National Gallery of Australia.

Carol Jerrems: Photographic Artist is at the QUT Art Museum until Sunday, September 7.

Agenda

Whilst all art is political to some extent, recent history has demonstrated how art can be used to influence and control societies, from the Soviet Union to China to Nazi Germany. It is personal experiences and circumstances – including any political, social or historical influences – that shape the perspective of any artist. Whilst art can be used to promote or attack political and social agendas — many artists have experienced strict restraints on their creativity and production through state sanctions. Many governments have used art – either through its creation or destruction – as propaganda to promote political ideologies. However, artists have always used art as a tool of subversion – to criticise and challenge oppressive individuals and ideas – even in the face of persecution and punishment.

Agenda

This exhibition brings together artworks from the QUT Art Collection that have an agenda of some kind, whether it is addressing issues such as Indigenous recognition, gender inequality or politics and government, or simply providing a voice for the disenfranchised.

Agenda is at the QUT Art Museum until Sunday, August 31.

The QUT Art Museum is located at the QUT Gardens Point campus. Admission to both exhibitions is absolutely FREE.

The Preatures Confirmed for Fiesta

The latest line-up announcement for the Valley Fiesta is an exciting one with The Preatures confirmed as the headline act for this year’s festival. Fresh from an appearance at Splendour in the Grass following an extensive international tour, the Sydney five-piece join an already impressive line-up for this free annual street party. Since forming in 2010, The Preatures have ridden a wave of success, winning the Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition for Is This How You Feel? and securing an ARIA Award nomination for the same song.

Also confirmed for the event, which takes place on August 23 and 24 in Fortitude Valley, are local rockers The Creases, who join the likes of Dan Sultan, Remi, Allday and Jeremy Neale on the bill for Fiesta 2014. The full artist line-up is available here.

Valley Fiesta 2014

For more information about Valley Fiesta 2014, head to the festival website or follow the Fiesta on Facebook.

Education Update #18

Education News 3

Online Learning Communities: Why Students and Teachers Need Them

As our society travels further into the Age of Information, we tend to forget how to teach our children to be lifelong makers and learners. Since learning is really a communal activity, community-based education can help children unleash their inner creativity. So, how can online learning communities benefit teachers and students?…read more

How To Cite Social Media Using MLA and APA

YouTube has progressed beyond cat videos. Twitter is more than just sharing what you’re eating for dinner. All of the major social networks are keystones of our online life and make up a big portion of who we are. So it’s no surprise that there are now guidelines on how to cite social media using the MLA and APA standards. In fact, I’m surprised it’s taken this long to see this topic hit the mainstream….read more

How to Effectively Use the Top Social Networks

Whether you’re a teacher, student, entrepreneur, CEO, or just someone looking for some tips … this is the ultimate guide for you. Consider it a social media cheat sheet that you’ve always wished you had ever since you started using any of these social networks….read more

The A to Z Guide to Twitter for Teachers

Getting started with Twitter is not as easy as you may think. Twitter can quickly feel overwhelming and hard to monitor. For a busy teacher, that means you have absolutely no spare time to spend monitoring your feed. That being said, there are a lot of reasons to at least give it a try. The potential connections are worthwhile in themselves….read more

The 50 Worst Synonyms in Fifty Shades of Grey

Remember grade school, when you wrote papers and used big words because you thought that meant you were smart? And now when you look back on those papers, you cringe a little? Well, not E.L. James! The Fifty Shades of Grey author loves her a fancy synonym. And since you probably missed most of her obvious Thesaurus.com moments by skipping to the sex parts, Vulture compiled a list of them for you….read more

A Diagram Of 21st Century Pedagogy

The modern learner has to sift through a lot of information. That means higher level thinking skills like analysis and evaluation are necessary just to reduce all the noise and establish the credibility of information. There is also the matter of utility. Evaluating information depends as much on context and circumstance as it does the nature of the data itself….read more

The Newest Apps To Make Videos In The Classroom

In education, perhaps one of the least utilised talents of iOS hardware is creating exceptional video. While it’s not uncommon for teachers and students to use iPads to create videos, creating stunning videos that are compelling, well-produced, innovative, truly social, and/or something worth sharing with the world isn’t so easy. Here are 22 apps we’ve handpicked as powerful teaching and learning tools to work with digital media in your classroom….read more

25 Reading Strategies That Work In Every Content Area

Reading is reading. By understanding that letters make sounds, we can blend those sounds together to make whole sounds that symbolize meaning we can all exchange with one another. Without getting too Platonic about it all, reading doesn’t change simply because you’re reading a text from another content area. Only sometimes it does….read more

Social Media Made Simple: Free tech to help you get more from your lesson plans.

Thanks to physics teacher Michelle Gould Burgess’ seamless integration of social media into her lesson plans, her students are busy launching marbles out of a catapult instead of listening to a lecture. For last night’s homework, they read Gould Burgess’ blog, watched her lectures via podcast— including a “bonus trigonometry podcast”—and they’ve stored their assignments in Google Docs. Gould Burgess teaches in a “flipped classroom,” so her students complete their “lower-level thinking” for homework, and engage in “higher-level thinking,” like the marble and catapult lab, in the classroom….read more

Kinesthetic Learning: Moving Toward a New Model for Education

How do people learn? Research has found that it is our learning process, not our intelligence, that is the most important factor in determining our abilities — making it vitally important to examine how we teach our students. So we must ask: how are we most effective at learning and retaining information? Is it when we are hearing, seeing, doing, creating, or some combination of the above?..read more

These Final Hours

One can’t help but admire the ambition of writer/director Zak Hilditch in bringing These Final Hours to the screen, even if the execution is lacking somewhat at times. Whilst the film shares many similarities, particularly visually, with post-apocalyptic movies such The Road or 28 Days Later – albeit there are neither zombies nor cannibals anywhere to be seen – this story is actually set in the hours before armageddon, very much akin to the 1959 made-in-Australia Hollywood production On the Beach. With Nathan Phillips in the lead role as the somewhat self-absorbed James, These Final Hours is exactly that; the final hours of life for the people of Perth, Western Australia. Created on a miniscule (by today’s standards) $2.5 million budget, These Final Hours is certainly concise at just 86 minutes and whilst Hilditch has made good use of the available funds in presenting a version of Perth never before seen on screen, my engagement with the film was compromised by a distinct lack of tension (perhaps due to the sense of inevitability that pervades the action) and a group of characters that it is almost impossible to care much about.

These Final Hours pster

Phillips (Wolf Creek, You and Your Stupid Mate) is serviceable enough as James, a young man who abandons Zoe (Jessica de Gouw), the woman carrying his never-to-be-born baby, to spend his final hours on earth at a hedonistic party across town at which is other girlfriend Vicki (Kathryin Beck) is waiting. Of course, myriad obstacles intervene along the way, including several encounters with crazed citizens who, devoid of any hope, are seemingly intent on destroying each other. In one such encounter, James rescues a young girl named Rose (Angourie Rice) from the clutches of two predators and reluctantly finds himself responsible for returning her to her family. Needless to say, his initial disinclination to assist beyond removing her from immediate danger is swept aside as the pair develop an emotional connection. Whilst the abandoned streets are eerily effective and there are some really nice touches, such as the wall constructed of shopping trolleys that serves as the initial obstacle that sets James’ trajectory into motion.

These Final Hours 2

It is the characters that let the film down because almost everybody we meet is strange, but never in an endearing way. Given the effort expended in getting there, the party is actually the weakest part of the film. Yes, the idea that people might decide to spend their final hours imbibing all manner of substances and engaged in myriad sexual shenanigans seems reasonable enough, but the problem is that the only characters we meet here are utterly unlikeable; so much so that the end of the world would be preferable to spending any more time with them. Freddy (Daniel Henshall), the host of this orgiastic farewell bash, is James’ grotesque, psychotic best friend, while Vicki is presented as nothing more than a shrill nut job consumed by jealousy and fear. There is not an ounce of subtlety or nuance in either of these individuals. Even the usually reliable Lynette Curran struggles to bring much verisimilitude to her role as James’ mother.

These Final Hours 1

Yes, the fact that young Rose is exposed to all of the debauchery, including a game of Russian roulette that ends badly for one participant, is provocative, but it seems as though Hilditch was reluctant to really push the envelope with regard to sex or violence, which would be fine if the film was stronger in other areas. The end result is a film that is too slow moving at times to work as a thriller or an action piece and lacks sufficient depth as a character study; after all, we never really find out anything much about James and therefore don’t really care too much about where he ends up or with whom he will spend his final moments. With a radio DJ voice-over (David Field) used as the device by which we are kept informed about how much time remains, typical race-against-the-clock clichés abound, such as a car breaking down at the most inopportune time.

On the plus side, 12-year-old Rice is terrific as Rose, bringing much more complexity to her character than any of her adult co-stars, which may, of course, have more to do with the screenplay than the performances. On a technical level, the film bats well above its meagre budget, with Bonnie Elliott’s cinematography and Emma Bortignon’s sound design both eerily effective in creating a sense of unease and abandonment in the suburbs of Perth. Furthermore, the final frames, in which the advancing tsunami of fire descends on the Australian coast, are actually quite impressive; it’s just a shame that the journey through These Final Hours to reach this point wasn’t more riveting.

Friday Funnies

Looking for an ideal end to the working week? Well, what better way than a few laughs courtesy of the best comedians from Brisbane and around Australia.

Every Friday evening, Brisbane Powerhouse presents Knockoff, a series of FREE comedy performances on the Turbine Platform stage. Whether it be one-liners, anecdotes, improvisation or observational, there will be laughs aplenty every Friday from 6:00pm.

Knockoff

This Friday, July 25, will feature improvised comedy from Impro Mafia, Brisbane’s premier improvised comedy company troupe. The Impro Mafia team will appear on the last Friday of each month, while every other week will feature a selection of local and interstate performers.

To find out who is performing each week, head to the Knockoff page on the Powerhouse website.

Still Life

With only his second film as director, Italian filmmaker Uberto Pasolini has produced an exquisite character study of a man we never actually meet. With Still Life, Pasolini presents a story that seems so serene and simple on the surface, yet offers so much more in its exploration of themes such as friendship, memory and death. Furthermore, the film examines the lasting implications – both medically and psychologically – for those in the military upon returning from combat. Remarkably, Pasolini takes on some serious subject manor with a film that features two of the nicest characters you could ever hope to meet. Eddie Marsan is wonderful as John May, the cypher through which we learn the story of the recently deceased Billy Stoke.

Still Life poster

You see, John works for a London council, charged with tracking down the friends and relatives of those who have died within the municipality. Despite the meticulousness with which he goes about his job – and every other aspect of his daily life – the sad reality is that, in many cases, nobody is to be found and it is often left to John to organise the funerals and burials for the deceased. An opening montage features a series of funeral ceremonies at which John is the only attendee, having made every effort to ensure that each service accurately reflects the history and interests of the departed. John is a solitary man, living alone in a small apartment and working alone in a small office; he is a creature of habit and somewhat pedantic in the way in which he maintains his living and work space. However, his attention to detail has made him the target of council cost-saving measures and it is his last job that lures him down the rabbit hole that is the life of Billy Stoke.

Still Life 2

There are times when you are certain you know where this story is going, such as when John meets Kelly (Joanne Froggatt) and is obviously smitten, but Pasolini avoids the predictable and it is his decision to take the narrative road less travelled that makes the film such a surprise. As John learns more about Stoke through various characters from his life, the story veers into interesting territory and the film that emerges is a wonderful celebration of humanity. John is the type of character whose quirks could easily become an object of annoyance in the wrong hands, but Marsan finds the perfect balance between oddball and endearing. His retrenchment frees him somewhat and he starts to change his staid ways. In fact, with the exception of John’s supercilious boss Mr Pratchett (Andrew Buchan), Pasolini presents all the characters with great affection, including a couple of homeless guys who bring much humour to the piece.

Still Life 1

Poignancy pervades this movie, from that opening montage to scenes of John rummaging through the meagre belongings of those who have died, trying to piece together their life. The score from Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman is affective yet unobtrusive and the cinematography courtesy of Stefano Falivene is terrific; many of the shots evoking a beauty and serenity reminiscent of the best examples of the artwork of the type referenced in the title. There are brief visual interludes, often cutaways to objects seemingly unrelated to the narrative, that elevate Still Life to something that is a cut above the ordinary. There are numerous sweet touches, yet it never becomes saccharine or maudlin or melodramatic. Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky, The World’s End) appears in every scene and it is perhaps his best performance thus far, relying more on mannerisms and actions (rather than dialogue) to articulate his character’s tender, compassionate nature. Likewise, Froggatt (Filth and TV’s Downton Abbey) is wonderful as Kelly, a woman who, like John, leads a somewhat solitary existence.

Ultimately, Still Life is about much more than either John or Kelly, or Billy Stoke for that matter. It takes a swipe at a society in which so many people are left to die alone and the indifference that we demonstrate towards each other, even to those with whom we co-exist in increasingly close proximity. Whilst Pasolini, the nephew of Italian director Luchino Visconti, is perhaps best known as a producer with The Full Monty and 2012’s Bel Ami, he has proven himself a dab hand as a director with a film that is very sedate yet never dull and utterly engaging from beginning to end.