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.