Born in Dublin in 1971, artist Eva Rothschild is best known for her large-scale sculptures. In 2009 she was awarded the Tate Britain annual Duveen Commission, for which she produced Cold Corners, a vast zigzagging sculpture, and in 2014 she became a Royal Academician. She represented Ireland at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. She lives and works in London. Her latest exhibition, Our Life, Our Sweetness and Our Hope, is at Modern Art, London SW1 from Thursday to 25 June.
I read this recently and was totally transfixed. It’s a book about a small town in Mexico, and it starts with the discovery of a body. It’s not a crime novel, it’s about the relationship of different people in the town to the dead person, who is known as the witch. Everything shifts the whole time: who the witch is – whether she’s male or female, what she is to different people – becomes completely blurred. It’s about poverty, abuse, drugs, violence against women – it’s amazing, but not for the faint-hearted. I’m looking forward to reading her new book, Paradais, which was released this year.
Compartment No 6 (dir. Juho Kuosmanen)
I was interested in watching this because it’s set on a train, which I always enjoy – probably because of the [Richard Linklater] Before Sunrise films, and reliving memories of travelling when I was younger. It’s about a Finnish woman and a Russian man who end up sharing a compartment on a journey across Russia, to Murmansk. It’s set in the 90s, so pre internet, and everything’s very unpolished. There’s a 90s Europop soundtrack, and she’s listening to music on a Walkman, which obviously seems quite luxurious, something from the west. I found it really moving.
The strapline is “giving new life to old books”. They have two presenters, John Mitchinson and Andy Miller, and every week they have a guest talking about rediscovering a book, and how it reads now. Earlier this month they had Stephen Fry on, discussing De Profundis by Oscar Wilde. They’ve also had episodes about Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon and Nuala O’Faolain’s Are You Somebody?. Sometimes I feel like contemporary fiction is always to the fore, but I do find it really valuable reading books from the early 20th century – it’s a different style and pace of writing that I find really interesting.
I tend to watch TV with my youngest son, so it’s usually what he wants to watch. We’ve been watching this Irish comedy show about two complete eejits from Cork called Conor and Jock, and their long-suffering mum, and I just love it. I love the gratuitous swearing, the violence, the thieving, the mishaps, the complete gormlessness of the main characters. Regardless of whether they are stealing bikes, stealing a tuna, trying to rescue a duck, all of these ridiculous situations they get into, there’s something about the relationships in it that is really tender and sweet.
Botis Seva is a choreographer and dance artist from south London, and he has a dance company called Far from the Norm. This was a fantastic piece about urban masculinity. It had an amazing soundtrack, which was a mash-up of a father reading a story to his son and some quite heavy beats, and it was really atmospheric. I’m really interested in boys, in masculinity – I have three sons, and I made a film called Boys and Sculpture some years ago.
Usually I listen to classic rock, but over the past few months I’ve been listening to a lot more bluesy music, specifically this artist from Mississippi, who died in 95. I was listening to somebody like Townes Van Zandt, and then this came on with the dreadful Spotify algorithm. Usually that really annoys me, but I was stopped in my tracks by this guy’s voice and the directness of his singing. It ranges from joyful and funny to incredibly abject – there’s a song called The Lost Ones, written from the point of view of a child asking for help, which is devastating.