Thursday, April 27, 2006

Truck Art


'Well, look,' I said to him a few months ago on the phone, 'I'm sorry but it's bad news. I'm not going to offer you the job.'
Maybe some of you have heard me say that too. See, you ain't the only ones and I say the same thing to every last one of you. What happens next after those words is kind of up to you. And in this case, Joe Frazer (above) took it in his stride. OK, he didn't get a job working with me (and, quite frankly, lucky him) but he did get my email address. So tonight, I'm following directions.
I've just come from a preview screening of Chris Shepherd's new short film Silence is Golden (very good, and a ton of stuff packed into fifteen minutes) and I turn onto Old Burlington Street, see two police vans and three police cars and think, uh, oh, guess it all kicked off before I got here. But no. The police are just sitting in their vehicles having sandwiches and tea (or whatever police do when they are sitting in stationary vehicles). So I go on. Past the private view at Alison Jacques, past the private view at Stephen Friedman and finally find I'm there. I'm at Truck Art.
This is Joe's baby - or monster, I'm not sure which. A large truck that serves as gallery and performance space. The back is open and there are some steps leading up in to it. Various bits and pieces are inside the gallery, none of which I can make head nor tail of, but then I'm not supposed to. That's the job of Mr Endon. And it is for his arrival and subsequent performance that we are all eagerly gathered here.
'It'll start in about 20 minutes,' says Joe. 'You said that 20 minutes ago,' says someone. 'OK, OK,' he says. 'It'll be four minutes.' We wait. I pick up a beer from Stephen Friedman.
It's slightly tricky this Truck Art business. Nearly always taking place outside the opening of a conventional gallery, there is a delicate relationship which has to be negotiated between gallery and truck - but which, bizarrely, isn't. The galleries come out and look, quizzically, and Truck Art keeps its head down... It wants to be noticed and not noticed at the same time. It wants its cake and the galleries cake too. Would you like someone outside your private view, its audience drinking your beer, cluttering up your street? Thought not. Joe says they have their own supplies of beer, but looking round the audience in the street there's a lot of bottles from Stephen Friedman. (But then again, what's new, huh? I know people that move from PV to PV just chasing the beer. Well, heck, I've even done it myself on a few occasions....). Maybe that's part of it. The Truck Art site states: TRUCK ART WILL DEMONSTATE (sic) AGAINST THE HEGEMONY OF THE CURRENT ART SCENE, PARKING ITSELF OUTSIDE GALLERIES IN LONDON'S WEST AND EAST ENDS, DURING PRIVATE VIEW OPENINGS.
Anyway, I'm looking around and here's Mark McGowan. We have a chat. Mark is, as usual, talking loads about various things he's doing and is planning and is working on. He's a busy man.
I check in with Joe. When will Mr Endon arrive? When will this event begin? People are just beginning to start moving away, drifting off. Maybe there's nothing to this Truck Art thing after all....
'Here he is,' says Joe.
It begins. Mr Endon walks along the street towards us, his long red coat and fixed stare marking him out as quite definitely peculiar and really not from round these parts. He climbs up into the Truck and begins. He takes some bottles out of a box, he pours their contents into a bucket, he takes a plug out of the bucket, it all goes over the floor, he sort of cleans it up, he writes along the inside walls of the truck, then gets down to some other business....
While all this is happening various cars are passing down the street, necks craning through windows to see what's going on. 'Thought it was a fucking soup kitchen,' says a cabbie. And, of course, there's documentation. Documentation, documentation, documentation. As well as me with my little camera there's about a dozen more and at least two video cameras. Ho hum.
...and then finally he's off, the strange Mr Endon, marching away down the street.
No idea. Not a clue what that was all about.
'It's just like the Brian Catling thing the other day,' whispers Mark. 'Did you see it?' I shake my head. 'I bet he saw it.'
Whatever. That was Truck Art. I talk to Mark for a bit. He talks about all sorts of stuff. Running taps, the gherkin, recycling, Bloomberg, Charlotte Church, Ken Livingstone, baked beans, james's bedroom, doors, three legged races, Gary Glitter....
I can't keep up.
I say goodnight to him and to Joe's Truck Art.
Sometimes it's good when people don't get a job with me...
pics

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