Thursday, March 30, 2006


Oh yes. It's the Beck's private view 2006 at the ICA and I absolutely love it! (And so does Jens Hoffmann by the look of things above, no?) I'm as excited as a big, bright, shiny bean. As a barometer of what's hot or not, Beck's certainly delivers: we are squashed in the lower bar with thousands of people and it is defintely, I can tell you, HOT. And the temperature is still rising. It's like a big, thick river of people, with currents and undercurrents and bends and rapids. You go with flow or you don't go at all. And so that's what we do. Strapped in, head up, little green bottle in hand. We're off.
Bizarrely, one of the first people I talk to is Andrew Graham Dixon who is there filming for an upcoming programme on BBC 4. I'm used to seeing him on The Culture Show and he looks exactly the same tonight. Like at any moment he's going to burst out laughing and comletely lose the plot and that refined, urbane look he maintains. Moving along the concorse I bump into Virginia Damtsa from Riflemaker, standing in front of Jamie Shovlin's work. 'Hi,' she says, 'have you seen this work? He is with our gallery.' I'm kind of already up with this information (is she hoping I'm looking to buy?), but it's always nice to hear her voice. And if you haven't ever heard it, you must. Let's say that Disney or Pixar or whoever is producing a film in which the lead character is (stay with me here) a piece of luxurious velvet - lush, rich, soft and smooth. Virginia could be the voiceover for it. Her voice would be perfect. You can literally relax in her husky voice like a duvet.
Noah Sherwood's there. I met him at Curatorspace the other day and we catch up: he talks about scuplture - big sculpture that costs a lot of money to make - and that's his bag. But he's also wondering if he could produce smaller, very commercial works under a pseudonym, sell them, and put the money into the the big sculptures. I take his photo.
Bedwyr Williams and his size thirteens are hanging around just off the bar area. He is with Mari Reijnders and Ryan Board. They are both working on the construction of the next Big Brother house. Unfortunately they are rubbish for gossip. They've not got the skinny on Davina at all. Just that the place is buzzed with helicopters all the time. Either that or there's some subterfuge going on and they are actually going to be in it themselves - can you imagine that? Forget Celebrity BB and think on Artist BB. That would be something, no? (Anyway, I don't have the time to get that one up and running so you can have that one for free...)
The people from Guestroom are there, Maria Benjamin and Ruth Hoflich. I tell them how much I am enjoying Kingdom - a year long project involving the monthly receipt of an individual piece of work through the post. It's fantastic. Receiving something someone has spent time and effort on is simply so wonderful and special, and the pieces themselves have a beautuful sense of mystery about them. They are there with Olivia Plender and when I ask to take her photo she says, sure, and reclines on the stairs. And she's not even drinking tonight...Then there's Richard Hughes to say hello to. Possibly the nicest, most polite and lovely man I've ever met. He is just a breath of fresh air (which is exactly what I need in this heat). There's a lot of people in here now. It's getting very hot and sweaty. I see Lucy Stein and Jo Robertson and Seb Patane and Daniel Sinsel. I nearly get them all but not quite...then I bump into Tom Humphreys from flaca. I do like this man. I often think they missed a trick by not casting him as Doctor Who - he would've been great. Not least because despite this heat he is wearing a long scarf. He tells me he's been queuing outside for an hour (why didn't he just use the Tardis, I wonder?). It sounds like there's a lot who didn't even make it in. We talk some more about stuff and he tells me about the time he was on the way home and needed to make a toilet trip so climbed a fence, did the business and then climbed back over. Except that on the way back, as he is on top of the fence, his foot gets caught and he careers forward in an arc, his foot remaining at the top of the fence, the rest of him straight down. Luckily, he says, the fence was exactly the same height as he was so he was ok. Just needed some people to help him down. We talk some more and some more and I say that what he is doing with flaca is really good. He's not really that interested in getting a sunday supplement piece about the gallery or about the artists, he's just interested in trying stuff out, in a social, relaxed environment. I take a sip of beer and look around. There are thirteen artists here and a million other people. The Beck's prize is tricky: for many of them this is the greatest pressure that will have been applied to them and their work, the most vicious scrutiny. It's an exciting, but potentially problematic place to be. From now on for them, just trying something out is going to be much more difficult.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Everything Must Go!

It's the end of VTO on Teesdale street, the gallery that Jari Lager has been running for the past six, seven, whatever years, and which has held over 70 shows. I've been to only a few, most notably Graham Hudson's show last year which I loved - but more of him later. Tonight, there's a sort of salon style exhibition of pieces sent in by those who have shown here over the gallery's lifetime. The idea is to have an auction at the end. According to Jari, it will all go on ebay, but who knows? There's a lot of stuff here. Upstairs there's a bar and DJs. I get a beer and bump into Toby Gerridge (who I find out lives here - 'Yeah, came home tonight and there's a party going on in my gaff..') and get him to tell me about bio-jewellery, something he has been working on for ages which is both amazing and slightly unsettling. The premise is that you can have a piece of jewellery made out of your (or your lovers') bone material, grown from a small sample in a laboratory and then fashioned into a ring or similar small piece of adornment. It's a long and complicated process and I listen while he talks me thru it in detail. Unfortunately I didn't take notes and he didn't come to the party with a powerpoint presentation on him, so there's no way I can relate that process to you here and now...let's just say it's a tricky one, and not something you should try at home.
I talk to Nigel Grimmer. I've been reading his blog recently and enjoying it very much. It's very straightforward and quite charming - you too can read it here. While we're chatting he keeps receiving phone calls and having to repeat the same thing: '...then just walk up Canrobert's just at the end of the street, there's a projection going on, you can't miss it..'. He gives me an invite to his upcoming show at Standpoint. He has some work here tonight. It's framed in perspex and he's getting worried by how much dust it has picked up since being hung. Finally we go stand near it: he takes out a tissue and polishes it. He's much happier. Then his phone rings. 'Hello, yes? Yes, just walk straight up Canrobert Street...'
I catch up with Graham Hudson. He is talking with Dave Hoyland (above). They are both grinning maniacally and getting excited about doing something called 'Sculpture Wars'. Graham is currently on a residency at Chelsea Parade Ground. He is collecting off-cuts of wood for his own work - 'found a lovely piece of beech the other day' - and he's building something. A fortress? A bunker? A whole network of interlinking, underground, booby-trapped tunnels? It's not clear what, but I can't help but think this whole residency could end up quite messy. A few months down the line and they'll be sending in a special task force to take him out. He has that look in his eye. 'The smell of sculpture in the morning. It smells of...VICTORY.'
I go upstairs to the bar. It's filling up. The music's playing, people are talking, the bar staff are looking good. Jari is circulating, talking, serving behind the bar, having his photo taken. It's a good way to say goodbye. I'd spoken to him earlier. 'I just want to take a break for a year, or maybe two years, to have some time off from running the gallery...and yeah, I already have a new space downstairs, yeah, you know, I have the name for it already and loads of ideas...' Everything might be going, but I reckon that everything will be coming back soon...

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Have you ever met Malin Stahl? Me neither, but over the last few months, maybe even longer, a year or so, I've had cause to email him on various subjects - even, at one point, inviting him to participate in a talk I was giving at the ICA. He couldn't make it. I emailed him and he sent some text. Whatever. We emailed each other. And, as is the way with these things, I had a picture in my mind of what he looked like. Tall. Maybe 6.2. Shaved head, strong european features. Thick lips, good bone structure, well built. Works out, often dresses in black. Polo neck, fitted jeans. Maybe at one point he had a moustache - an affectation naturally, but one that he carried with a certain style. Forthright, formidably intellectual, brusque. Appearing sometimes a little arrogant in his delivery.
So, when I went to Hollybush Gardens this evening for the opening of Knut Henrik Henriksen's show, I was caught off guard when we actually met. That's him in the photo above. So, I got that one well and truly, big time, wrong.
Malin is really lovely. And she's a girl. She runs Hollybush with Lisa Panting. Which is good, because I also have a Lisa Panting story. It goes like this:
With all the emailing mentioned above I also, at some point, got to emailing Lisa. She had some work published in Miser and Now (the art rag run by the geezers from Keith Talent, Andrew and Simon). As I recall, it was a one pager, with maybe four small photos of someone in the window of a ruined building, possibly making some kind of symbol with their body (I dunno). The photos were published on a yellow background and across the top of the page in large black lettering was the one word: HADDOCK!
Well, I could make no sense of this at all, but, hey, what's new? I'm always seeing things that don't make sense. Doesn't mean you can't say something nice. So I emailed Lisa and said something nice. I didn't get this whole HADDOCK! thing, but what do I know? So she emails me back and says it's all totally wrong and none of it is what she submitted and they've completey screwed it up and the word HADDOCK! isn't even supposed to be there...
Anyway, I meet her for the first time tonight and say, Hi. Then I say (cause I'm such a funny guy): 'I've just one word to say to you: HADDOCK!'
Am I funny or what?
Lisa turns to look at me. She says: 'I've got one word for you too'. Then she gives me the V sign with her fingers.
So, I figure it's high time to talk about the art here tonight.
Knut talks to me about the work he's done for the show. It's all kind of interesting and I see what he's talking about, but I'm not really there with this stuff. There's some tape on the floor emanating out from the corners of the room, an arrangement of carpet tiles which are a scaled down from the exact floor space of the gallery, a reinterpretation of a Brancusi endless column. Some wallpaper. It's ok, but it's not great. Then he shows me some photos of some previous works he has done at other galleries and in public spaces. And then I get it. Love it, in fact. He builds walls usually. He uses remnants of architectural form to dictate, to instruct, his works, both to resonate with previous histories, but also to comment on the ways people interact with where they are now. Whatever. I'm no good at this stuff. All I'm saying, is that if you go to see this show (and you should), you also need to get the context. Check out the portfolio. Then we talk about Jonathan Monk, who he has worked with. And we talk about Tino Sehgal. I tell him about the edition we are selling in the shop, where people can buy a single word from a paragraph written by Tino. Each word costs £25. He likes this. I do too. Then I wonder how much I could get for the word HADDOCK!
And I could be wrong, but even if I throw in that exclamation mark free, I'm guessing not very much.

Friday, March 17, 2006

People Like Us at No More Grey

The smell of white spirit is cloying around my nose still, having spent the morning daubing pink, white and yellow paint off my coat. I suspect I'm not the only one. Last night was the opening for new gallery space No More Grey in Redchurch Street with a bunch of gunslingers brought in from the badlands of West London and Sartorial Contemporary Art. It's a good, busy night, although the place seems filled with people who have applied to work for me and I've rejected. Always great conversations to have. And these are the ones who made it to interview. God knows how many more of you there are out there who never got that far. So, hey, I'm sorry, it obviously just wasn't the right time. I am truly sorry. Now give me a break...and get me a beer. Here we go.
The place is a good size and there's even access to a backyard where there are paintings attached directly to the outside brick walls; there's a dj and a bar and a couple of toilets (oh yes!). Dominating the end wall is a big new painting by Stella Vine. It's a large breasted, naked stripper pushing money into herself (if you get my meaning). We like this a lot. Stella's stuff is always so big, garish, full on and unapologetic that it totally suits a banging private view like this. Where other works get lost, broken, suffocated (and smeared across my coat), Stella's piece is up for the party. It's easily the headline act in tonight's line up. I'm guessing she's referencing that Tracey Emin photo of her doing the 'money shot' herself. It's a telling resonance.
There's other pieces here worth a note: Harry Pye has some small delicate stuff in the far corner which I'm sure I'd like if I could actually see it. Harry has also produced a new fanzine for the night called The Rebel (inspired both by Albert Camus and Tony Hancock). He's been chipping away at the art landscape with intelligent and interesting stuff for a good few years. I remember his art fanzine from back in the day: Harry Pye's Frank Magazine, a black and white, scrappily photocopied thing which bore a strapline something like 'europe's leading arts and culture magazine'...
Other works: a car full of books by Martin Sexton, and some paintings by Gavin Nolan which were good.
I bump into Luke Carson who runs this space. That's a photo of him at the top of this column with his grandmother. Sorry, no wait, that's his mother. Forgive me. But forgive him more, as he made the same mistake. You can imagine how happy she was. On the far left, in the background is his girlfriend (thankfully he got that one right). Anyhow, I commend him on the show, the space, the music and the barman James, who has singlehandedly been pushing out beers all night. James is certainly in the running for my 'Best Barman at a Private View Award' for this year.
Then I bump into a painting and Luke gets a worried look on his face. I start to head off while other people trawl themselves along the brushstrokes. By the end of the night it will be a completely different painting from the one that started here...not sure if that's what was intended, but it fits with the feel of the view. I think it was Sarah Dwyer's work, but I can't be sure. If it was, big apologies, Sarah. Never mind No More Grey, think No More Pink...White...Yellow...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

All the Fun of the Circus Show

How many nail salons are there in Newham? Answer: Less than you think. I can’t give you the correct figure as this would give you an unfair advantage if you were to play Richard Dedomenici’s latest art game: The Nail Salon Play Your Cards Right Game. We are playing this game on Friday night at Danielle Arnaud as part of the opening night for Day to Day Data, curated by Ellie Harrison. Have you ever been to Danielle Arnaud? It’s only been open 10 years and this is the first time I’ve ever actually been down there (south of the river, you see…). What a beautiful house. (And, private view lovers, it has TWO toilets, ladies and gents, WITH WASH BASINS!). And tonight we are drinking a glass of kir. Lovely. Anyway, there was some art there too. A lot of data (or ‘darda’, as Richard’s girlfriend, Luci, insisted on calling it and adopting, for no discernible reason that I could fathom, an American accent. I say potato you say data. Whatever…). So, there’s a lot of data there. And I mean, a lot of data. Far too much to take in at a private view, so I say some hellos and take some photos and think, I have to come back. I can’t stay long tonight as I have another date to make. I give my apologies to Danielle, who is simply charming, and take her photo with Ellie. I show it to them for approval – ‘I do not know,’ squeaks Danielle, ‘I cannot see a thing without my glasses!’ I think she looks pretty good.
I have to get a move on so grab a cab to take me up to Three Colts and Circus Show, where I reckon pretty much most of London will be. (Let’s quickly do the math on this: there are about 800 artists in the show, each maybe bringing 150 people, multiply those figures together and….hmmm…that makes nearly a million people for the private view…) Anyway, I get there to find that my maths is right, the place is completely heaving. Mark McGowan is just outside the entrance, dressed as a traffic warden and getting people to hit him with some lengths of foam piping. And people REALLY do hit him. It looks painful. Momentarily between his floggings I get to say hello and pass on a greeting from Dedomenici back at Danielle Arnaud’s. ‘Oh, yeah,’ says Mark, sweating in his bright yellow uniform, ‘’e’s really cool, isn’t ‘e, Richard?’ Then suddenly he’s talking about being on Richard and Judy this morning. This whole traffic warden gig has ticked a lot of boxes for the media and he’s had a lot of coverage. (On the way here I told the cabbie where I was going. He laughed. ‘That’s the bloke dressed up as a traffic warden, innit? It was on the radio earlier. Give him a hit from me.’) ‘Richard and Judy – go and have a look at it’. He points into the crowd, then sees my camera and is immediately back on the job, asking punters to hit him. ‘Hard as you can, go on, hit me, go on, hard as you can.’ He bends forward and a geezer hits him really hard across the back. Again and again. I start to wonder if I can actually stand to watch much more of this. It’s brutal. I dive into the crowd and head for the bar. There are people pouring into the gallery which is already packed full of colour and noise just from the exhibits. Including, of course, the sound of a sad old clown called Frankie, who is urging people: ‘Pie me! Pie me! Pie me!’ It’s Calum F Kerr, dressed as a clown, sitting in the corner of the gallery making up pies of cream and pastry and getting people to throw them at his face. If you hit his face, he sings. He’s already covered in cream and all sorts of stuff from multiple previous pies. I take a paper plate of cream and get him on the chin. He starts singing, a sort of dour, bass drone. It sounds deeply sad. Then he ends and starts again with ‘Pie me! Pie me! Pie me!’ I begin to feel like I have stepped back 150 years, when you paid a small price to go prod the freaks and the mentally ill. I think about Richard and Judy and about reality TV and about celebrity and art and then my head hurts and then I see Mark Pawson. I take his photo. He gives me that face that says, oh, not again. Although it turns out that, surprisingly, he has spent the day being photographed. Dressed as a baker. With flour being added to his face, for that real baker look. There was some background to this story, obviously, but I didn’t quite get the details. I see Jonathan Allen and tell him how much I liked his Tommy Angel photo portraits at David Risley. He is busy hiding his exhibit for the show behind the door, worried that it’s going to get trashed by the crowd here. It’s a newspaper headline on a freestanding board which says MAGICIAN HAS ACCIDENT. ‘It’s an original, from the 60s’ he says. It is lovely. Then we somehow talk about meetings and interviews and stuff and he tells me about going to an art school interview where all the interviewers sat holding newspapers in front of their faces. It was something to contend with. Jonathan took a lighter out and put it at the base of one of the newspapers and set it alight. They didn’t even ask to see the portfolio after that trick, he was in. I think he is a very interesting man.
More people pour through the doors of the gallery. I see Sarah Doyle. There’s a lot of drumming or something coming from over the other side of the gallery. It gets difficult to breathe. Then I bump into Rosie and Harriet from Tatty Devine. They are both looking great in their cute little circus outfits (above), stopping off here before heading up to more circus antics at Bethnal Green Working Mens Club. I first met them about two years ago and really love what they do. A few months back I had lunch with them and talked about trying to find a way to talk about the cultural landscape that we are living in. I really don’t know if I made any sense then, but when I ask to take their photo and they ask, ‘sure, why?’ I’m suddenly talking about all this stuff again, but now I can say that I run this blog and that it’s about the cultural landscape and I can talk about the themes of identity, place and history that run through all my work and tell them that the blog IS the work. Then I take their photo. They look great.
It’s been a big night. Everyone was here. Maybe something happened here tonight, I can’t decide. Something shifted, slightly on that cultural landscape. And it won’t be quite the same again.
I think back to a story I once heard about a girl who went to the original Woodstock festival. She came back and when her friends asked her what it was like, she’s like, it was shit. It was muddy and horrible. Then, days later, when everyone started pointing and saying, hey, look, back there, that was a huge piece of history, she was like, yeah, it was amazing, man, it was the best time of my life. I was there, y’ know.
So, there are some things you just can’t know.
Like how many nail salons there are in Newham…

Friday, March 10, 2006

Corpsing at Curatorspace

Corpsing is curated by Lisa Penny and John Tiney, with works by themselves, Mari Reijnders, Giles Perry, John Summers, Angus Wyatt and Rachel Tweddell (above). I drop in here, see lots of people, take lots of photos. I also meet Hilary Jack and Paul Harfleet. We have communicated by email before but never actually spoken. They run the Apartment in Manchester. Hilary has been doing two projects I really like: Turquoise Bag in a Tree and Make Do and Mend. And Paul has been doing a beautiful, sad, eloquent, moving and subtle work, planting pansies as delicate memorials in places where he has received homophobic abuse. I think this is just brilliant. Read about it here.
More talking and more photos. I decide tonight to make sure I get at least one shot of all the artists showing. I do it, just, ending up running down the street to catch up with Giles Perry when I suddenly realise he's no longer at the view.
It's a nice show, the space is good, it's busy. People I meet give me things: cards, flyers, handouts. Mari gives me his latest Trophy Picture postcard: Hitler in my Cappuccino - which is worth it just for the title alone.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake

I just knew it was going to be an odd evening when John Hayvend arrived, fully wired for sound. Hanging on a cord around his neck was a small digital camera, about the size of a fat credit card, looking like some hi tech piece of bling. A small red light visible at one corner, the camera switched to audio function only, this thing is going to accompany us on our evening, documenting everything that can be heard.
'That's going to be quite a job to edit down, though,' we say. 'Easy,' he replies, pointing to an almost invisible button on the underside of the machine. 'It has an index button: if anyone says anything interesting I can just press this button and it leaves an edit on the track. So I can go back and find the good things from the whole evening.' We all agree that the index button is a good thing. I start trying to think of something clever to say.
We head for The Residence tonight, to something that I know is going to be fairly off the normal range, so should therefore be worth having a look in.
We arrive to a small bunch of odd looking people standing around in the front part of the gallery. There's a load of old family photos stuck directly to the wall, a large painting of a man's head, some enlarged photos of derelict houses and the striking and strange looking 'artist' (and founder of The Residence) Ingrid Z.
I'm trying to place her look, and some of the others who are here. There's a smattering of new romantic, goth, blitz, and even something I can't quite place from the 60s. We get some beer and get Ingrid to talk us through what's going on here. She begins by telling us about her parents splitting up when she was 2 and a half, (she points to a photo of her mother), then the years in Canada growing up and setting up galleries and fashion stores and all sorts of things, and then the relationship with her boyfriend (she points to another photo), followed by moving out and tracking down the alcoholic father (points to an old black and white snap of him on the beach) who left so many years ago. John asks how she found him. 'I just looked in the phone book and there he was', she says. (Did he index that, I wonder?) Anyway, she finds him and the next day he dies. No kidding. And she doesn't realise for a couple of days, she just thinks he's sleeping off the drink. But the the chicken meal he had by the chair begins to go off. So, y'know, she had to deal with all that. The large painting of the man's head is him. 'It's done from memory, but I think I really caught him.' She points at another photo, but I am really straining to see any connection here. Then, what happened? Someone else died two weeks after she'd met them. And then, I think there was another death. There could have been more. By this time we are all feeling a little queasy. Plus there are more bizarre people arriving. And Ingrid has been given a chocolate cake. Which she eats by taking bites straight out of it then passes it round. Other people takes bites out and pass it on. Has nobody heard of plates here, I think? Forks and spoons? There's some funny business going on with the toilet out back too - people keep going in and out in a fairly bizarre manner. Also, what happend to the lock on the door? It was there when we arrived. Olivia, the 'press officer' for The Residence starts saying words like 'nebula' in regard to Z's work. I tell her not to use words like that. My companions are giving me looks that say: GET OUT OF HERE NOW.
So we go. I realise what the 60's thing was I kept picking up on. Z and her colleagues are like a tribute band for Warhol's Factory. And now I understand a little bit more about why Andy wanted to photograph these people.
We go to the Macbeth on Hoxton Street. This is another one of those old time east end boozers which have been brought bang up to date by incoming Hoxton art/culture/music/media types. The sunday supplement article about the 'achingly hip' pubs of Hoxton can surely only be days away now. There's a band playing. I think they are called The Horn. This means that the lead singer gets to perform in a T shirt that says 'Have You Got The Horn?' I see an image of fly posters, stickers, stencil grafitti, badges, etc all bearing this neat little line. I wonder what came first: the band or the name? I take a couple of pictures of the band and the bar for record and start getting dirty looks. One of the bouncers stands rather too close to me (or maybe he's just being friendly?). We have a last drink and then I say my goodbyes.
And as I go to the door I can't help but think that, despite my scintillating conversation and incisive comments about art and life throughout the evening, John never once pressed the 'index' button after anything I said.

Changing the Guard

Reza Aramesh, with Tom Dale, has devised a piece of work called 'I Am a Believer'. It takes place in Trafalgar Square in the early afternoon. About 30 or so second generation immigrant men perform a version of the Changing the Guard ceremony (without horses or rifles), dressed in black suits and accompanied by a brass band.
It's good stuff. The ceremony takes about 45 minutes. Being Trafalgar Square lots of people stand and watch. A lot probably think this is some official performance. As with all performance stuff it is done with a plethora of people climbing around documenting the whole thing (myself included) and this also gives an interesting frisson to the whole experience.
It looks great and it's good to see something so unhurried and quiet in the middle of the square. At one point, near the end, there is a subtle move from lifeguard ceremonial movement to some tai chi, which catches me with a start, so unexpected and pleasing is it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Room At The Top

I wonder what it's like to stand, with a cocktail in your hand and your reputation buffed and glowing; exquisitely dressed, comfortably warm, poised, admired, adored, and to look through the window to the the street far, far below where a multitude of students, liggers, turn-uppers, drinkers and mad people are swarming about some bins of beer at the edge of Hoxton square, and turn away again and laugh with your attentive guests in the room at the top of White Cube, on a freezing night for the private view of Liza Lou's new work?
Well, who knows? Not me. We stand outside with our beers and look up longingly and enjoy a sense that there may be a fabulous world from which we are denied - like little starlets who have travelled across the states to realise their dreams in Hollywood. 'One day,' we squeak, 'our names will be up in lights!' It's a romantic notion and we like that.
(The following day I meet someone who has actually been to the top room. 'Well,' he says, 'there were no girls, no drugs, no music. It's just a room. The carpet seemed a little dirty.')
Anyway, we are here for the Liza Lou view. The work is ferociously good stuff. A large fenced off square with barbed wire around the top; an enormous tree branch growing from the gallery wall; a man bent over, head between legs, mouth pointing towards his...knife. The whole of it covered in her now familiar tiny sparkling beads. We all marvel at the sheer amount of time that something like this must have taken. It makes my head spin. It is a mindnumbingly huge amount of, what must be, very tedious work. I wonder how many assistants she has? Enough, I guess. She has certainly made the sort of objects that galleries love. This is big time art world stuff.
I pretty much get asked to leave after having taken a couple of pictures so pick up another beer from the wrapped up barmen outside. 'Hello, Russell,' says one. I look blankly at him. He politely eases my mind back to who he is. 'I was at your opening for the Jordan magazine thing.' I figure there's no wonder I don't remember him if it was my view. I scarcely remember much about those nights.
Anyway, this is Matt, always doing the bar at White Cube. I decide I ought to get a photo to follow on from Pearce at Rokeby's bar. Thankfully he doesn't put a bar towel on his head.
We decide to move (to keep our circulation going) and carry on to the next show: Assemblage 1 at Museum 52. I recognise some work by Kate Atkin who I saw in Second Nature at Imperial College some time ago. And there are some other nice pieces from Peter MacDonald and Frank Selby. There's a good crowd. I bump in to Nick Hackworth, art critic for the Standard and arts ed for Dazed. The poor thing. I am continually nagging him to one day write something about what I do. He has that look of fear that these people have when confronted by an art nagger like me. First there's the apology for not getting back to me, followed by a look which pleads, 'don't ask me about your work, and, PLEASE GOD, don't talk to me about it.' He then looks around quickly to see if he can see anyone he knows, SOMEONE who can rescue him from me....
But it's ok. We talk about Tino Sehgal's work, which we both like. Then we move on, him breathing a sigh of relief and heading off for the room at the top of White Cube and me to the street outside, where Lena says, 'Oh, you must come and meet Barry. He has some work in the show.' We race across the street, me opening up my camera, thinking, I'm sure there wasn't a Barry in this show. We meet up. 'Hi,' says Barry. 'I don't have any work in this show'. I get a photo just the same. As well as of Phoebe, though I have no idea who she is.
We carry on up Redchurch street to Kate MacGarry and Stuart Cumberland's Carry on Painting. Opening the door reveals a floor stewn with the smashed remnants of beer and wine bottles. 'Blimey,' we think, 'it obviously kicked off here..' But no, this is part of Cumberland's schtick: stunt wine bottles made of wax which he has been smashing over people's heads all evening. Not so much Carry On as Benny Hill but it looks like it was fun. There's some big paintings and some photographs. I particularly like the latter. Key famous photos of artists, digitally doctored to reveal an alternative art history: Kenneth Williams as Warhol, Sid James as Picasso, Charles Hawtrey as Duchamp. These are a lot of fun.
I see Warren Neidich (above - author and artist and lecturer and whatever else) - or rather, he sees me and lunges forward: 'I saw you on the subway! I saw you on the subway, man! How are you?' Since I haven't ever seen him on a subway I figure he has mistaken me for someone else, so politely ease his mind back to who I actually am. And no sooner has he caught up with who we both are, he catches someone else walking past and points: 'Hey, I know you. From Anthony Reynolds - you wrote me a note...' The poor girl he's talking to looks blank. I tell her to just say 'yes'. Warren is like a man drowning in a sea of invisibilty, clutching onto people as they pass, hoping they will pull him safely ashore and dry him off, make him visible.

I wonder if he has ever been in the room at the top?