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  1. Culture
30 May 2008

Fast and furious

By Heather McRobie

Sebastian Faulks’s new James Bond book received mostly positive reviews this week, with the New York Times noting “Devil May Care obeys the Bond series’s most fundamental command: keep the action coming fast and furious.”

And the action online also came fast and furious in response to the book’s launch, with Neil Smith speed-reading Devil May Care and live-blogging his chapter-by-chapter review on the day of its release. This was criticised by Richard E Rogers on the Guardian blog, who deemed Smith’s shallow critiques nothing more than “a big fat plot spoiler.” The idea of live-blogging books isn’t completely new, with the plots of the later Harry Potter books revealed online by speed-reading bloggers days after the general release, and we’re likely to be seeing more of it in the future. Rogers asks whether this trend of what he calls ‘live-spoiling’ benefits anyone, asking “to what end is this bearing of the lifeless bones of a story that so many of us will want to read in full?”

This sporting life

Perhaps the oddest compliment paid to Faulks was that the extended tennis match scene in Devil May Care “shows that Mr. Faulks knows his way around a racket.” And elsewhere this week, tennis has been having its moment in art: The Independent reported that tennis champion Martina Navratilova has collaborated in a series of art ‘happenings’ with Czech artist Juraj Kralik, which entails Navratilova hurling paint-covered tennis balls onto canvas. Kralik christened the method ‘tennising’, and explains that the fascination came from noticing the indentations left on tennis courts by shoes and balls after a match. As exciting as they may be to produce, the results are mixed: Laura Barton at The Guardian compared them variously to Jackson Pollock and a Smarties advert.

Sporting activities were also central to events at the Tate Modern this week, inspired by the Fluxus art movement of the 1960s which emphasised action and event. Over the bank holiday weekend, the Turbine Hall was transformed into a ‘Flux-Olympiad’ stadium, giving visitors the chance to box each other with enormous gloves, play football on stilts, and race each other in an ‘invisible hurdle run’. The Telegraph’s Mark Hudson claimed that the last few years have seen a surge in re-enactments of Fluxus events, including Alison Knowles’s Make A Salad, which entails Knowles, well, making a salad.

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Context is everything

New EU regulation on advertising means that theatres can no longer print misleading quotes or ‘half-quotes’ of poorly-received shows: recent
research has shown that up to a third of theatre billboards use media quotes out of context. Theatres can no longer manufacture the quote “book now!” out of “if schoolboy innuendo is your thing, book now”, or turn a one star review into the more positive “a star!”.

The artists Jake and Dinos Chapman defended their controversial newwork, which ‘defaces’ Hitler’s paintings, against critics who argued that the dictator’s work should not be displayed in any context. The brothers bought a series of “bland” watercolours painted by Hitler as a failed art student in Vienna, then unveiled them again yesterday covered in painted hearts, flowers and rainbows. Jake Chapman argued “the idea of redeeming Hitler is bad, the idea of redeeming his work is a staggering work of genius.”

The works are part of a new exhibition by the Chapman brothers, If Hitler Had Been A Hippy How Happy We Would Be, at the White Cube gallery.