Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Psst, you wanna buy a word? - Part Six

The Evening Standard runs an article about Cosi Fanni Tutti whose work is appearing in the Tate Triennial. Tino also has a piece in the show. The Standard, to give some context, refers to the ICA show thus: 'an ICA show where people can pay to have word whispered in their ear by the gallery bookshop manager...'.
No mention of the actual work he is showing. His whole show is now reduced to me whispering...

Monday, February 27, 2006


The new issue of Tangent is out today, Karen D'Amico's little labour of love and self promotion...
It's a neatly designed little thing and free (until the next issue) and it's created its own little niche - that's to say, there's not really anything else quite like it at the moment. It's always questioning the practical bits and pieces of being an artist - how do you get money, how do you keep going, what does success mean, how d'you get on in the artworld? Which is pretty much the way Karen also runs her blog. There seems to me, in a lot of what she writes, the unformed question of 'how do I be an artist like other artists?' There she is in her studio, working away on some objects and projects, typing away at the blog, putting together her zine, and thinking 'how come I do all this and yet I still don't feel like an artist?'
I could be wrong, but that question seems to hang around her work like a little guilty secret. And in trying to answer the question, she is making Tangent a very interesting piece of work.

And, of course, I ought to mention Garageland.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


A quick jaunt round to catch up on some stuff. First, to White Cube in Hoxton Square to catch the Gilbert and George SONOFAGOD show before it closes. Obviously not at all controversial to anyone who visits the gallery, the spectacle is, in the end, of beauty: the colours, the production, the scale of these pieces. Red, green, yellow and blue - you can't go wrong.
Then to the Agency to see Gabriel Acevedo Velarde and a very, very long twenty minute film, called Pre-Historia. It's an animation - well, it's a filmed storyboard, which is sort of animation. There's a guy who survives a plan crash, wanders off from the wreckage, gets hungry, eats some dirt and then masturbates (I still don't know why he suddenly does this). Anyway, his 'seed' then grows into the beginnings of another person - which he then eats. This then goes on and on. Masturbating, growing more people, eating them, and so on; with some variations in that some of the people he grows have indiscriminate sex with him/each other. At one point he becomes a woman. And then there are all these tree things which keep growing (I think they might come from where he has a poo, but I'm not sure). By this time I'm beginning to long for the colourful pieces at White Cube again. Masturbate, grow some people, have sex,eat them, masturbate. It begins to drive me crazy. Then it ends. It's followed by a different three minute film. A bunch of kids are standing in front of a stage in the middle of a field. Furthest away from the stage, at the back of the crowd (there's maybe fifty kids there), some kids are lining up to see if they can be allowed on the stage. An adult inspects them, sending most back to join the crowd, but selecting one in every four or so. Once selected, an adult leads him up, stands him in the middle of the stage. A blast of light from a raised structure in the middle of the field, like an almighty camera flash, hits the kid and he falls, stunned and blinded, backwards onto the floor. The adult then carries him back into the crowd, whereupon the whole thing repeats itself. This film was apparently 3 minutes long. It felt like I watched it for 8 hours, and even then had to stand up and leave before the finish. (Don't worry, nothing happened in the end, just the same thing over and over...).
I leave, quickly, and go along to artwords, desperate for some colour and light and company. I check out the stock to see if there's anything we need back at the shop and pick up issue one of Issue One magazine. How satisfying is that? It's one of the big format, fashion tablets that we all know and recognise from countless other titles. But even so, I can't resist the weight of the thick, glossy, heavy pages, sliding voluptuously about and flopping lasciviously onto each other like a bunch of wet fish. Bliss.
And it's fashion magazines that have formed a basis for many of the works by Kirsten Glass, whose latest show I pop in to see at Hales. I remember her work from the Beck's Prize in 2002 and here she is again, but this time her work has a lot more bells and whistles on. Or, more precisely, mantlepieces, tinsel, hats, telephones, glitter, gold paint, frames, mannequins, shells, fabric and all manner of glitzy bits and bobs. It's hard to deal with this kind of trash since Jim Lambie made it his own, but I like the stuff here. I just feel it should be a lot more fun than it is and wonder why Hales have put all the pieces in a room lit like a mausoleum. Still, not much time to wonder before it's onto Museum 52 and a quick glance at Richard Louderback's paintings and then swifty across the road into Trolley to check out Mario Consiglio. There are some seductive pieces here, and beautifully made.
I have a date in town so head back to the centre. Check out magazines at The Pineal Eye on Broadwick Street, which always makes me feel very old and square (but that might just be because I am old and square) and then nose into Beyond the Valley on Newburgh Street. There's a small exhibiton space there which is currently hosting a show called Case Study. Somewhere amongst the disastrous display is a really interesting exhibition. Far better to check out the website: Case Study, where the works are all given a bit more breathing space and context than was afforded them in the shop.
Then, finally, to treat myself: to Hauser and Wirth for the Warhol portraits. Nicely hung and very clean. Bad photos which are now good photos. And also some footage of Warhol TV, which was execrable at the time and is no better now, bless him. Downstairs too is open - the basement safe room - which is always pretty scary. A few self portraits, buried away underground. And here he is, an artist who really knew about trash, glossy magazines and beauty.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Psst, you wanna buy a word? - Part Five

Yes, actually I do want to buy a word - and yes, thank you, Valentine, I'll have it at the bargain price of £5.51.
Just picked it up off ebay...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Psst, you wanna buy a word? - Part Four

This appeared at Guardian Unlimited:

First there was the word...
Evening Standard reporter Valentine Low left his prejudices at the door when he was asked by the paper to buy a "word of art" at London's Institute of Contemporary Art. For £25, the gallery's bookshop manager whispered a single word in his ear, one of 100 words that are being "sold" by artist Tino Sehgal. When they have all been snapped up, the "owners" will be invited back to hear Sehgal put them into a complete paragraph. The excitement! Only problem is that Sehgal doesn't believe in transactions that leave a physical trace, so Low couldn't get a receipt. No receipt? Then he can't claim it on expenses. So Low has put his "word" on eBay with a starting bid of £4.99. Six days later, and there has not been a single bid. Sure, it's sight unseen - Low isn't revealing which word he bought - but, as he says himself: "I would have thought that £4.99 for a limited edition artwork worth £25 was a bit of a bargain." You never know, it might be "banana".

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Why Pearse thought that putting a bar towel on his head would make a good photo is beyond me, but there you go. Maybe I was the more fool for taking it. Anyway, we're at Rokeby and we're at the bar talking to Pearse the barman. Pearse has been the barman at every Rokeby private view (except one) since it opened in April 2005. And since that opening Rokeby has made quite a name for itself. Not least, I think, because of the people who run it: Ed and Beth Greenacre - two of the nicest gallery owners in the artworld I've ever met. And then, of course, there have been the shows. Some truly interesting stuff seen here over the last few months. The location of the gallery helps too: slap back in town centre, just off Tottenham Court Road. OK, admittedly a bit tough if you live in Nottingham, but great for me...
And tonight there's the work. A solo for Danish painter Kathrine Aertebjerg. I hadn't seen her work before except for some press stuff approaching the show and I had come along expecting to use words like 'surreal', 'oddball' and 'unhinged', but strangely, I ended up using words like 'engaging', 'subtle' and 'captivating'. The paintings were lovely. And she has this trick of writing the titles of the works directly onto the wall in big lower case black lettering. When I ask her: 'What's with the lettering?' she replies, 'I love the way childrens books look.' And I thought, 'I'll drink to that'. Which, with Pearse behind the bar, is a very entertaining thing to do.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

5 go to 39 to see 54

I go up to Old Street and the 39 gallery for the first time. Checked the place out on their website and they seem to have an interesting programme going on: a succession of shows asking a wide range of artists to respond to a specific proposal. Check out their shows here. Tonight, it's the opening for the 39 pack of cards: 54 artists re-presenting a card from the traditional pack. This is a neat formula, if only because it ensures that the private view is gonna be stuffed with people. I do the math: on previous experience I can usually count on getting probably 25 to 30 people to see anything I do solo. Employing this figure as a bench mark, and multiplying by the 54 artists involved, I figure we could be looking at nearly one and half thousand people turning up...
I get there around seven. The place is still reasonably quiet but steadily filling up. I have an arrangement to meet John Hayvend, but he's a no show for a while, so I have to do that thing you do at private views when you are on your own and you don't know anyone else there: I HAVE TO ACTUALLY LOOK AT THE ART ON SHOW. It's bizarre. Not the art, but the having to stand looking at the art. For goodness sake, I'm at a private view, I don't expect to be looking at any artwork. But, that's what I do. I hold the ubiquitous little green bottle of beer and take some time to look at the art. Except, of course, I don't. I can barely see anything. All I can think is that I must NOT look like I am waiting for someone. So what I do is look REALLY INTENTLY at the art. And then, shame on me, as I do this: I let a slight, smug, knowing smile carve into the geometry into my face, to indicate to anyone who looks at me that, of course, all these works are by artists who are all friends of mine. I know them all personally. By looking at their art I am sharing some private joke, some resonance from their previous work, which, person-who-is-looking-at-me, doesn't get. That is what I do.
And then I realise what I'm doing and think: 'stop it, you twat.' And that's when I start looking around the room and seeing lots of other single people holding their little green bottles of beer and looking REALLY INTENTLY at the work.
I realise we are all waiting for the private view to start happening...
More people arrive. I drink more beer. I think about what it means when a 'private' view is more stuffed full of people than will ever visit the show when it is open to the 'public'. Then my head starts to hurt. And then John arrives.
And then Lena and Sara Preibsch arrive. They have just come from openings at Vine and Modern Art. A busy night.
We are joined by Anushcka Wiese and we say hello to various people, (hi, there, again, Kate Street!) and have little conversations (some good, some awkward, some just catching up) and the gallery fills up and I think I may have got the math right. The place is really heaving. We are right in the middle of the gallery. It's like being at a festival. I'm waiting for a band to appear, someone to sell me a bag of parsley and everyone to go mad. It's full on.
Yada, yada, yada...
Eventually, we get herded out and head to the pub. As this is happening the Beautiful Boy turns up with, of all people, Jonas Mekas's son, Sebastian. They escort us the The White Lion. The front bar is attempting to break the record for most amount of people in a pub following a private view ever. It's like hacking thru a jungle, but we get to the back room and have a few games of pool - Lena 'Hurricane' Nix wins everything. I have a chat with John. I wonder what the story for the night is.
It's late and we start to leave. As we do, I notice a girl in a hat by the bar. I've seen her at the gallery earlier and I've seen her all night in the bar as well. I have to get a photo. 'You have a great hat', I say, ' Can I take a photo?'. She's up for this and tells us that the hat was given to her by someone in a public toilet. Whatever. I don't get her name but I do get the photo.
So then, as we leave, I decide to propose a show: 1500 artists choose and wear their favorite hats. I'll propose it to 39. And come the private view, I'll stand there with my little green bottle and pretend they're all close personal friends of mine....

Psst, you wanna buy a word? - Part Three

The piece in The Times is picked up by the Evening Standard who come in and actually buy a word. Article above.
Which, of course, means that later, London Tonight turn up for a small bit of filming (hello, Mum!)...and they too buy a word.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Oh yes! Just when you thought SuperSuper was the best fashion magazine of all time (ok, obviously apart from Cheapdate) here comes RUBBISH MAGAZINE! This is a great piece of work and so beautifully put together. There's a whole bunch of ideas in here to love - from the price (£12.34) through to the photo shoot of rubbish bins at fashion shows, the article on Graydon Carter's hair through to blindfolded styling (pay particular attention to the caption writer's confession at the end of this last piece: 'I can't remember all these fashion credits 'cos it was all such a jumble on the day...') Fabulous stuff! Also has some illustrations by friend of the bookshop, Sarah Doyle.
The only thing I wasn't too sure about was the hardbound cover - I get all purist about the whole magazines have to be paperback thing.... But hey, just as I am thinking this I read the last page: 'Is RUBBISH a book or a magazine? Or perhaps a Bagazine/Magazook?' There you go then. It's a Bagazine.

Also just out is latest issue of Cattelan's Permanent Food. And of course we all love it and it's great and clever and not clever and audacious and all those things. I just wonder how many more pictures of dead people, hideous mutilations and injuries I really want to look at....

And, of course, I ought to mention Garageland.

Psst, you wanna buy a word? - Part Two

A small piece in the Times today by Dalya Alberge about the Tino edition. Seems like we all think in the same way for headlines on this one. Also includes a photo of me whispering a word into a buyer's ear. But, of course, this being the magic of newspapers, I'm actually whispering into the ear of my longest serving part time bookseller, Emma Bennett.
And that one photo took about an hour: 'just try whispering a few words, now move your hand down, can you look down, can you look up, can you do this, can you do that'....yada yada yada. For an hour.
Anyway, we have sold five words.
Maybe now they'll be a rush...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Quick One with Martin Bricelj

It's Valentine's and I have a romantic meal to go to, so it's only a quick glass or three of wine at the opening of Everlandia by Martin Bricelj (above) at ICA Digital Studio. These are never big events but this evening is quite nice as the studio has been wallpapered and decorated - not its usual dark, forbidding, clinical and cold look. It's the first time the studio has been noticeable and that's to be commended. Here are some pics.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Night Out with flaca

Lena and I off to Flaca in Broadway Market for PV of show with Matt Bryans, Sam Basu and Lillian Vaule. We meet up with John Hayward, we say 'hi' to Tom Humphreys who runs the place, and get chatting to the lovely Nina Madden, who we all like and adopt for the rest of our evening. She is introduced as a high profile art critic/writer - she denies the high profile bit - but we like her anyway. She is five weeks into giving up smoking and says things like: ' I want to be 44 and to be able to say, yes, darling, I gave up smoking 10 years ago'; and 'I don't smoke anymore, so now I just google all the time. Google, google, google. I will google you all later'; and finally: 'I really want to smoke a cigarette'. (Later, at home, I google her. This I what I get: she is in fact not even a real person (!!), but the fictional heroine of the bestselling trilogy by Mariah Stewart. Who would've thought that? How bizarre. Then I came across this.)
We see a few people there we know and I say hello and well done to Matt Bryans and Lillian.
Water starts dripping through a light fitting in the ceiling above us. Tom races out of the lower gallery and bans anyone else from using the toilet...
We retire to the Dove; me, Lena, John and our new friend Nina, and drink until closing. Spilling out back on the street a small, committed bunch strike forth for the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, all of us following Tom, who is now riding a bike...It seems to take hours. When we finally get there it's dancing and music and people in fabulous outfits. We bump into Jamie from Plexi and I say is it ok to take your photo? 'Sure', he says, 'I'll do one of my poses. When I was young I got three rolls of film and photographed myself in the mirror. I now have any one of ten poses I can do successfully when someone photographs me'. I can't decide if this is a) suitably cool b) stunningly narcissistic or c) something I should have seriously considered in my own life...but hey, what a pro, eh? Guy's a genius.
And then there's a little more drink and then it's quite late. Lena and Nina have melted away some time before and John is confused. They have similar sounding names and he can't quite remember who was who. I can barely remember who I am. I look around the club and see Tom, still dancing. As he whirls around on his heels I think: In the future, I'll be able to say, 'oh, yes, darling, 10 years ago I was on a night out with flaca....'

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Showroom Annual

I detour on the way home tonight to take in the launch of the Showroom Annual. It's a quiet night. I arrive to a few people politely standing in the gallery, so massively overcompensate: start speaking far too loudly, boom an introduction to the entire room, drink down a bottle of beer, sweat profusely, nip to the toilet, run round taking photos, get introduced to Richard Hughes (one of this year's Beck's artists) and his son Gene (above), tell Bridget Crone and Kirsty Ogg how I'm going to sell loads of the Showroom Annual during Beck's and then leave...


A good time for magazines lately. Great excitement today when the first issue of SuperSuper arrives, the mad new fashion rag; a mutation of the equally irreverent SuperBlow, which, I guess, for those with long memories (and I have one of those), follows on from the starkly produced, hugely influential (on me at least), iconoclastic Blow magazine of the 90s...
I think it got to issue 12 or 13 in the end, which was some achievement. Issue one was half lo-fi bitching and teasing about the fashion world, and then the back half was endless photocopied covers of glossies with Linda Evangelista on. The whole magazine was just a photocopied thing, one sided pages and all. They really don't make them quite like that anymore.
Also in today the second issue of 'ordinary' magazine, Karen, of which I am a fan. I get sent a limited edition one with that all too rare free gift in of a pressed leaf. How nice is that?

And, of course, I ought to mention Garageland.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Tino Sehgal

The new Tino show opened at ICA on Friday. I went round it. Or rather, I was taken through it. Or rather, I was it, for a short while. Or rather, I was part of it, for a while...heck, who knows?
'This Progress', as it is called, takes you on an accompanied journey round the lower and upper galleries, through the bar, up to the Nash and Brandon rooms and down the back stairs and then back out into the foyer. All the while having a continual conversation with one of the four 'interpreters' (who get successively older - starting with a small boy and ending, for me, with John, I think he was called, who was 81).
Having seen Tino and the interpreters rehearsing this over the last week, I had resolved not to go through until the first 'real' day. And even now, I'm not sure what I thought of it all. When I reached the foyer again, and was told this was the end, there seemed to be so many small emotions which had been touched on through the preceeding 5 minute or so journey (why did that girl run away from me on the stairs? Mummy! Mummy! Don't leave me here on my own!!!!) that I found myself in a gentle state of not entirely comfortable shock. Very strange. It was: controlling, exciting, frustrating, illuminating, refreshing, funny, surprising...all of those and more. Visually though, it's great: it takes you round the empty galleries, which look lovely with nothing in them. There are minor flaws, obviously, but this is a pretty good piece - and certainly I like this much more than last years show.
Everyone comes out with their own psychology delicately prodded. One guy was just standing in the shop after it going, 'that was amazing, I saw the stuff last year, but this was something else, sorry, sorry, I just needed to say something to someone...', someone else said it was like a therapy session (hell, maybe that was me...), and a lovely girl came out and said, 'hey, that was just so much fun!!'
So I obviously just need to lighten up...
Well worth a visit. Check it out.

Psst, you wanna buy a word?

Tino has done an edition.
We are selling it in the shop.
It's a paragraph, 100 words long.
Each word costs £25.00.
You can only buy one word per person. Payment is cash only, no receipt. Nothing is written down. If you buy a word, I tell you what it is and then the number, chronologically, that it appears in the sentence. We have been selling them starting at the first word and then the next one then the next, so on.
Get yours before it sells out.

Buy one get one free!*


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Crash Report 1983 - 2006

A freezing thursday night and we head up to Islington and the Screen on the Green to see (as Time Out described him: 'maverick') David Ellis perform Crash Report: a half hour of words ordered, rejigged and reworked on the fascia of the cinema; a sort of (un)autobiography of words from the last 22 years (covering the period he has been involved with the place). From Semtex to the demise of Letraset, Pol Pot to the number 38 bus. A haphazard and misspelt half hour to be sure, but nonetheless moving and affecting. A whole bunch of us shooting photos and film in the street, bemused passers by and a good audience from the windows of the Slug and Lettuce opposite.
A strangely resonant piece of work.
Then drinks and a chat with the Beautiful Boy who I've met on a couple of things before. He has just come back from Paris, from Agnes B's house with Jonas Mekas, Harmony Korine, Sophia Coppola and, lordy, who knows who else. For this, I completely take the piss out of him and rightly so. We exchange email addresses. He will send me stuff. I will - what? Email and say I am having dinner with Bobby de Niro and Marty...