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Berenika Balcer

Berenika Balcer

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SCAN: Student Comment and News

SCAN, originally created in 1967, has now become one of the longest running student newspapers in Europe.
I have mostly contributed to sections such as: Screen, Arts and Culture and Lifestyle. I present some of the articles below and links to the rest of them.
Gob Squad presents: “War and Peace” - the ultimate distraction

Fiction, according to Tolstoy, could get you closer to the truth. But what should be asked is – “what is truth”? Gob Squad takes another seemingly basic concept under deeper consideration and asks: “why war?”, also suggesting that we could just as well ask: “why peace?”. By taking Tolstoy as their inspiration, Gob Squad in their production of “War and Peace” is holding a witty conversation with us about conflicts from the perspective of peace in the modern world.
“War and Peace”, realistic-historical novel by Leo Tolstoy is considered a Russian epopee. Written over one hundred years ago, describing over 135 characters on over 1200 pages, placed on the lists of must-read books. No matter how “heavy” it sounds, Gob Squad condensed one of the greatest Tolstoy’s pieces of work into a less than two hours production. Those who expect an adaption, useful to understand and to get to know “War and Peace” without reading it, will feel a major disappointment. Although, they are presenting some of the main points of the novel, German-British collective flicks through it in a live video performance by creating a salon attempting to be a similar one to those held in czarist Russia. They engage some people from the audience to sit with them, contemplate, and to be distracted.
Gob Squad touches contrary topics such as life and death, and obviously war and peace, by asking what exactly those things are. But instead giving a clear-cut answer, they are leaving an open space for decoding based on everyone’s specific experiences. They draw inspiration from Tolstoy by mostly focusing on history and they set it in the modernity, where most of us can’t possibly imagine the reality – and normality – of war. We sit on the comfortable couches of ravaging peace, being constantly distracted. The word “distraction” itself is being used many times in Gob Squad’s production. Apparently this is a thing we can do the best. In order to that, the members of the modern salon - and we as the audience as well as this salon isn’t only reduced to few chairs but expanded to the conception of the whole world - are watching some distractions. Some of the characters of the Tolstoy’s novel are being introduced in the fashion show style. The actors are literally acting by showing the performativity of personalities that we can identify ourselves with but mostly only on a superficial level.
The performance is an attempt to reflect on the question of “if it is possible to live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world”, drawing on the issue of comfortable living inside capitalism full of consumption. We are also introduced to people such as military prostitute or a military nurse, that hardly no one normally think about in the “ethically imperfect world” of commodity fetishism.
With Tolstoy in their minds, God Squad created entertaining, but full of meanings performance. Even though, it can be hard to find many connections between the production and the novel, you leave the theatre with many new questions about relations of history and our modern reality, that afterwards seems like an ultimate distraction.
Volcanic Lanzarote

There are no billboards that could be a crack in this a little bit weird but amazing place full of volcanic cones and volcanic dust with perfectly blue sea. Say “hola” to magical Lanzarote.
Lanzarote is the oldest island of the Canary Islands. Even though the whole archipelago loomed up after series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Lanzarote is the one with more than 3000 volcanic cones. You can get there from most of the airports and if you carefully watch Ryanair ticket sales then you maybe would beat me and buy return ticket for less than £50. Flights from Manchester are direct and it takes about four hours until you would start landing above the heads of sunbathers.
The south of the island is studded with resorts. The cheapest is camping - legal only in designated places usually €4 or for free on La Graciosa. Local transport is quite well organised, but let be honest – you can’t get everywhere only by bus. If you’re like me – you can drive but probably shouldn’t, especially because you don’t have driving licence, then there’s a wide range of organized tours.
As the island isn’t that big (approximately 60 km length), there shouldn’t be a problem with seeing the most important things in short time. Let’s start with the capital, Arrecife. Personally, I recommend El Reducto Beach for sitting on the sand, that reminds breadcrumbs, and just staring at the water. Experience just slightly better than in Morecambe. History Museum in San Gabriel Castle is free for students. Natural lagoon is fantastically photogenic. One of the Lanzarote’s most important treasures is Cesar Manrique, artist, who designed such places as Jameos del Agua – a cave, where little blind albino crabs live. Probably the best view is from Mirador del Rio. The second one is from Los Hervideros with the impressive rocky coastline. As Lanzarote is basically made on the volcanos, the Timanfaya National Park is a must-see. Forget about trees and squirrels! This park is full of rocks and even though it sounds horribly boring, it makes an unforgettable impression. Just like a camel ride available there, that I’m not going to do again.
What else? Obviously, trying paella and fishes is obligatory. Mojo picon (more spicy) and mojo verde (green one, which I personally prefer) and canarian potatoes. Local wines (eg. in La Geria – vineyard with volcanic dust and vines in the holes) and there’s really great mojito (big, strong and available in different flavours) in Kopas Lounge (Marina Lanzarote). There are adorable, but quite expensive postcards (for postcards lovers like me) in Musem of historical memory (Arrecife). As a souvenir you should definitely bring aloe vera cosmetics and local speciality – ron miel, which is rum with honey (bought it, brought it, love it).
The weather there is described as “eternal spring” and there’s approximately 20 rain days per year. Paradise? Probably. Worth visiting? Definitely. Better than England? No comment. Did I consider staying there and planting cactuses? Maybe.
Summer is coming

I spent fifteen minutes staring on Pringles in the grocery shop. Inner battle was hard, but I won. I achieved victory but lost a battle. I was thinking about crisps and chocolate whole evening. Summer is coming. What about beach body? What about my perfectly flat stomach? What would people say?!
To be honest, even though I live by the seaside, I don’t have swimming. First of all because I hate people on the beach during summer. It’s like survival camp and I don’t have patience for that. But there’s also another reason, the one that stops me from wearing crop tops and shorts with similar length to underwear. It makes me anxious at the swimming pool, even though I go with my dad when there are only elderly people. I hated wearing tight clothes and strap tops for long time. But at the same time I feel awful in baggy clothes. Being a teenager was horrible, but I’m not teenager anymore. More terrifying than worrying about how my body looks like is the fact that I’m an adult.
As an adult I should know that it’s better to stop whining about “not looking” good and simply do something with it. I’m not saying to stop eating – we don’t want that. Now I should mention this wonderful word, beloved by everyone since fitness boom in ‘70s and ‘80s. Exercising. Before that women simply weren’t supposed to eat too much, not mentioning the fashion in general. To be honest, I don’t like working out. I hate it. I’m doing it because I know it’s good. But I still don’t feel comfortable with myself, and remember – summer is coming.
Despite the body positivity movements, popular culture is still full of unrealistic images of women bodies (and men’s as well). For some people they are maybe achievable, but for the rest of us, living in the sad (or normal) reality it’s not. What’s rarely seen on the streets is considered to be normal and because of that it’s being imposed on us. Social media are also not always helpful. Perfect beach, perfectly clear water, amazing sun and that perfect body dressed up in a swimming suit that is almost as expensive as one night in Waldorf Astoria. Long perfectly tanned legs, flat belly and of course drink held in the hand with Tiffany’s rings on it. But guess what. It’s not that fabulous as it looks like. Not even real. Magazines are full of photoshop and Instagram full of hours of preparation for one photo on the beach. I admit the pressure is still real, however rather imaginary. The idea of “ideal body” is not static. Just remember paintings of Rubens, Marilyn or even on the contrary – Twiggy or Kate Moss. Keep also in mind that modern culture is rather standardised, it doesn’t assume that bodies come in different shapes and sizes. All you have to do is to look around.
I always admired girls that wear what they want and don’t care. And I’m thinking why I can’t be like that. I know that I’m probably not the only one, so I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Of course – stay healthy, hydrated, eat well, move that body… and enjoy yourself. Throw away magazines that “promise” you to make you “beach body ready”. I can tell you right away – they won’t. If you feel good with yourself then go – enjoy life. All of us already are beach body ready. Just remember not to get sunburned.
  • "Waiting for Godot: the play where nothing happens hits The Dukes" -http://scan.lusu.co.uk/index.php/2017/11/09/waiting-for-godot-the-play-where-nothing-happens-hits-the-dukes/
  • "The Grand Budapest Tour" - http://scan.lusu.co.uk/index.php/2017/10/24/the-grand-budapest-tour/
  • "In love with “Loving Vincent”" - http://scan.lusu.co.uk/index.php/2017/10/20/in-love-with-loving-vincent/
  • "Don’t get me started on being an international student" - http://scan.lusu.co.uk/index.php/2017/10/10/dont-get-me-started-on-being-an-international-student/
  • "Beating the Winter Blues" - http://scan.lusu.co.uk/index.php/2017/02/17/beating-the-winter-blues/
  • "New Year, Same Me… And I Feel Good" - http://scan.lusu.co.uk/index.php/2017/01/23/new-year-same-me-and-i-feel-good/

Project Tags

  • student media
  • scan
  • photography
  • Article Writing
  • articles
  • writing
  • culture
  • lifestyle
  • screen

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