The dust of January’s rejuvenation has settled and you’ve reacquainted yourself with red meat and cigarettes… the Blood Moon has doffed her hat and you find yourself skimming the internet, in search of cultural respite from the blizzard of political turmoil…
As we know full well, a freelancer’s week can so often become an unstable agglomeration of multiple jobs, upturning our weekends and forging Sundays out of Tuesdays. Beyond exercise, sleeping, eating and whatever else you might indulge in, culture is something which a freelancer has to pencil in, and can so easily fall by the wayside under work pressures.
Whilst there is a lot of hot-air and snake oil surrounding self-care, it’s important to delineate pleasure between the cracks, and, in the sage words of Meghan Trainor’s newest album, ‘Treat Yourself’ (25th January). Come together, Kon Mari’d weekend-vegans and Bougie London Ladies, Ellie’s here to take you by the hand and give you some restorative and politically-palliative artsy pointers.
If you’re strapped for cash after forking out on smashed jackfruit burgers and skimpy gym kit, look no further than the V&A for their tri-monthly evening concerts hosted by musicians from The Royal College of Music. The concerts are free and housed in their very own Europe Galleries (although who knows where they’ll be beyond the 29th March).
With tickets between £5-16, it’s worth weaving your way south of the river for the final weekend of Anni Alber’s exhibition at the Tate Modern, providing you’re a fan of pleasantly intricate tapestries.
Following the winning announcement of 2019’s T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry last week, (Faber Poet Hannah Sullivan’s Three Poems), why not tucker down with a copy of the winning collection to gain those sweet, cultural brownie points? (+10 if you don’t Instagram it).
Second on the must-read pile is Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer (Atlantic Books). It’s an instantly recognisable package with early rave reviews, praising Braithwaite’s electrifying prose which recounts the tale of Ayoola, whose unquenchable predilection for slaughtering her boyfriends has her sister cleaning up the mess. Sure, it’s not exactly soothing, but who doesn’t love some light butchery to quell the nerves?
If joyfully distracting cultural happenings aren’t your thing and you’d rather bask in the scalding rays of reality, then there’s plenty of artsy affairs which revel in the anarchy. Netflix’s FYRE plates up the intricate failings of the doomed eponymous festival, founded by rapper Ja Rule and scamming entrepreneur Billy McFarland.
As any meme-loving social media user will know, the festival was advertised as dizzyingly upmarket where its reality was infamously apocalyptic, serving the viewer a delicious taste of schadenfreude in these trying times.
Closer to home and in a painfully raw state-of-the-nation address, Channel 4’s feature-length Brexit: The Uncivil War stars Benedict Cumberbatch, with direction from Toby Haynes. Kudos to Haynes for tackling such an unpalatable topic. One would imagine, a whopping 52% of viewers were polarised.
In a similar vein of political buffoonery, Aleksandra Mir’s Pre-Presidential Library exhibition archives two metre high covers of US tabloids from 1986 to 2000 from the New York Daily News and New York Post in the Southbank’s Hayward Gallery until the 4th February.
In theatre, ‘Shipwreck’ takes to the Almeida’s stage from the 11th Feb, cryptically inviting you ‘to dinner with the 45th President of the United States.’ With direction from Rupert Goold, underground posters tease Fisayo Akinade looking concernedly into the camera with a large projection of Trump’s silhouette occupying the background. Going off this limited information, I’m all aboard.
Whatever your chosen mode of escapism, I hope you’ve found a conciliatory gem to scribble in your day-planner and wedge between the madness of modern working and modern living. When the going gets tough and work grinds you down, administer yourself a heady dose of culture in whatever form that might take.
Culture is Iceland pizza, Culture is shaving your legs at 1 PM on a Thursday, Culture is the velveteen Shiba Inu who occupies your phone’s wallpaper. As Cardi B postulates in her newest single ‘Money’; ‘I was born to flex, diamonds on my neck/ I like boardin’ jets, I like mornin’ sex/ But nothing in this world that I like more than Kulture’.