Issue 180
View this email in your browser


Within seconds of entering Gas Hall you'll sense that the Young Turks of the Birmingham Museum team have stuck their necks out on I Want! I Want!, the city's latest and loudest exhibition. It's a fearless and feverish experience quite unlike anything BMAG have previously put their name to, and you can almost hear the gallery's old guard wriggling with discomfort from the safety of the Staffordshire Hoard. Let them wriggle. This is thorny, boundary-busting stuff that hits and misses and hits again.
The crowds are drawn, phones in hand, by Tony Ziegler's towering pineapple sculpture made using computer-aided design. It sums up — if a whopping, stealth bomber of a fruit can sum anything up — the exhibition's theme: Work by artists who have all been influenced by the rapid development of technology. There's an at times sinister menagerie of computer animation, video, audio, photography, drawing and gaming technology to test your mettle.
The title is inspired by I Want! I Want!, an etching created by the artist William Blake over two hundred years ago. It depicts a tiny figure standing before a celestial ladder that leads up to the crescent moon. The image acts as a metaphor for humankind’s ability to dream and turn ideas into reality. But reality goes missing on regular occasions throughout this most unreal of exhibitions.
Probably the most ethereal experience, and undoubtedly the most unnerving work, is the candy-coloured nightmare stew that is Rachel Maclean's film Feed Me (above). The footage explores the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. Take in the full hour long, stomach hollowing experience, or catch just a minute or two. Either way the message resonates long after you've left.  
On a much needed lighter note there's Paul Pfeiffer's triple screen video sculpture showing three collapsing footballers, rolling around and clutching at fake injuries having gone to ground without an opposing player in sight. It's a comment on the rise and — literally — fall of sporting heroes. Elsewhere you'll find Girl In Two Halves by Clare Strand (pictured, below), one of a sequence of perturbing pics exploring trickery historically used in paranormal photography and magic. 
And weirdness. Nought to 60 in 3 seconds, shirt in tatters weirdness on a level that takes this exhibition into truly brave territory. And Brummies owe it to BMAG to reward that bravery by going along. Even if it might cost you your sleep for a night or six. (I Want! I Want! is on until October 1 and entry is completely free. More)


Jay Gatsby would be older than the oldest verified person ever if he were alive today. So maybe don't revel exactly like him, but have a good old whirl at recreating F. Scott Fitzgerald's Long Island gatherings with the touring party inspired by his book, coming to Brum via Singapore and Zurich. On May 27, tickets are from £26.50. Jeanne Calment made it to 122 years and 64 days by the way. More


A new arts festival tackling the entirely uncomplicated subjects of death and dying is in townage from May 8 to 14. Including end-of-life related events, exhibitions and workshops, willow weave a coffin on May 12 if that's your thing. Or maybe join the inimitable Annabel of Conjurer's Kitchen for Death and Dine — a jolly skip through how death relates to food via edible tasters and a cocktail (May 14, £14). Ever cheery, her cakey death statue is pictured. Full programme


This is the 15th film in the Marvel cinematic universe and with every passing movie extra layers of plot complexity have been added. Gog 2 (as no one’s calling it) is the exception. There’s no need to know who has which Infinity Stone — or even what an Infinity Stone is — to enjoy this tremendous, but not quite as good as the first, neon-drenched blast of outer space action comedy. The main issues here are those of family. Human space pirate Star-Lord, real name Peter (Chris Pratt), finally meets his dad — who it turns out isn’t human at all, but a god-like ‘Celestial’ fittingly played by Kurt Russell. Fellow Guardian Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is forced to spend time with her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) who’s trying to kill her. But MVP (again) goes to Dave Bautista whose overly literal Drax comes out with such snort-worthy lines as, “I have famously huge turds.” What? We said “snort-worthy”, not sophisticated. Times


The Balcony's new seasonal menu launched last night. And rather than detailing the skinny, it's you doing the hard work on this one. Not all of you, that would be insane. But for one subscriber to our entirely beautiful sister title, Bell & Smokey, there's a three-course meal pour deux, plus a Goji Blush cocktail — think organic berry liqueur, Virtuous vodka, raspberries and Selfridges' fizz. Choose from new, nourish-filled plates like the superfood Detox Jar (£9.50), which we're confident could heal 90% of ailments ever, or get some comfort inside you, with the team's Lake District beef and Applewood cheese burger (£14). And if you're not familiar with the The Balcony's precise location, turn right at Selfridges' really good shoes.


In the days following Brexit, we were at Glastonbury — which was a great decision. Though what some would call a more constructive bunch were on the streets speaking to people aged 9 to 97, to hear their views on our country post-vote. In a series of deeply personal interviews, the team from the National Theatre heard reactions to the ballot that were emotional, funny, honest and extreme. My Country: A Work In Progress brings the words of ordinary people to the stage, with real testimonials spliced between speeches from party leaders, packaged in a chuckle-inducing way. This new play by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and director, Rufus Norris, is at The Rep's Studio from May 16 to 20. Tickets are between £10 and £15. Trailer
Venue: The Distillery, 4 Sheepcote Street, B16 8AE; website
Choice: Lamb Shawarma (£12.50) Chooser: Waitress

Ever tried to stare out a heron? You won't win, but you can now eat happy, oaky plates while you attempt to, from The Distillery's huuuuge, bricky, canalside locale. And be sure to opt for the slow roasted lamb's leg shawarma while you do. Served with house flat bread, garlic yoghurt and a tangy tomato harissa sauce, the lamb is at once charry, pink and mouth meltingly finished, as well as being deceptively filling. If you can work out what the brush which accompanies the dish is for, let us know — we went full on handsy and dippy with the extras, which is totally allowed when it comes to Levantine cuisine. On gin, which is kind of a big deal at what is The Button Factory's sister spot, there's a decent opening list to pick from, but there's also a lot more to come — in the form of a gin school and copper stills from which small batch Roundhouse gin will be produced. And if we're ever persuaded to cheat on Otto, we'll be back to try the sourdough pizzas. Dinner menu
  • Reggae, rum and jerk chicken are happening at St Paul's Square on Bank Holiday Monday from 12pm. More
  • The RBSA is now accepting entries for its 2017 portrait prize. The deadline is June 7, with results to follow a month later
  • Last night Dr Black was murdered at his own dinner party. And yes Cluedo is coming to the city this weekend — though only a really small person's fistful of tickets remain for the free, immersive event
  • Accountants, lawyers and property developers rejoice, Primitivos is re-opening its Barwick Street doors on May 12, ending all and any debates about where to have those leaving drinks
  • Starting his career at Le Manoir, James Goodyear is part of the team that won three Michelin stars at Maaemo. And he's briefly in the kitchens of Hampton Manor, with a lunch on May 13. Happiness
"It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Subscribe free
WORDS: Tom CullenKaty Drohan, Leo Brammer
IMAGERY: Rachel Maclean - Feed Me, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Arts Council Collection; Toby Ziegler - Portrait of C.L. (third version), 2006. Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery, London / Hong Kong; Girl in Two Halves (2008, Clare Strand); Caryatids, by Paul Pfeiffer

I Choose Birmingham, 2 St Philips Place, Second Floor, Birmingham, B3 2RB
Copyright © 2017 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences