Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Russell Herron's 69 Magazines

'Are you going to blog this, then?' asks Alex Michon.
Well, I guess I have to. It won't be easy and it won't be quite like all the other events I've done so far, but if I am going to keep mapping this particular strata of art in London, then I really have to. I hold up my camera and take some crowd shots. Here we go, then. We are in the bar at the Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel and it's the opening of my own show.
Your own private view always take months to arrive. Then when it finally does, after all that preparation and work and stress, like a wee baby coming into the world, the umbilical's snipped, the bum's slapped and it's whisked off, screaming, in a bundle of blankets and you're left standing in an empty operating theatre wondering what happened...
Anyway, there's a good enough crowd - I don't know exactly what number the needle needs to be flickering above on the amount-of-people-at-your-private-view dial, but we are definitely above the number which signifies that everything is going to be ok. People are here and they're drinking and chatting and I am relaxed.
Back to Alex. She is there with Paul Gorman who has written a book called The Look. It's of particular interest for a chapter devoted to Alex herself, a chronicle of her wild days making clothes for The Clash. She holds the book up, open at a picture of her, and I take a photo. That looks like a work, I say.
Brendan Michael Carey, founder, publisher, producer, inventor (and re-inventor) of Nice magazine (the one made out a piece of wood) is there. After I take his photo he asks to take mine, but comes over all way too creative, taking photos of me from different angles without looking thru the viewfinder. Later when I look thru them I find a series of blurred close ups of my teeth...
The lovely Nigel Grimmer is there and we talk a bit about his show at Standpoint and a bit about blogs and a bit about private views. At his, he tells me, it was people coming up and saying 'Your work's really funny', followed by 'Your work's really sad', followed by 'Your work's really funny,' followed by 'Your work's really sad,' followed, eventually, by 'Your work's really funny and really sad.' Tonight I have 69 magazine covers all with Geri Halliwell on them, mounted and framed into one big piece. So what I get are two questions from everyone: 'Are the magazines in any order?' (Yes, chronologically.) and: 'Is Geri going to be here?' (No, categorically.) There's someone else not here tonight too. 'Where's Miss Penny?' asks Nigel, referring to our usual accompanying private viewer, Lisa P. And it's odd, indeed. She is nowehere to be seen. (The next day I get an email from her with some bizarre story about carrying a desk up a flight of stairs and it falling on her serious physical injury excuse enough for missing my opening, though, I wonder?).
Graham Hudson is there, happily chatting and offering critiques of my work. Emma Quinn from the ICA (there are lots from the ICA) is clutching tonight's award for the person who turns up with the most friends. (Did she have to pay them? Do I have to pay them??)
Jamie Eastman is there with a girl called Lynette. I take their photo but they aren't that happy with it. So then I take another. Still no good. Eventually we have to go outside in the street, where it is still just light enough to be doing without flash...and finally get their picture approval...just. Some people can be so difficult to work with...
Simon White is on the decks (it was supposed to be Jonny Trunk, but at the last minute the Arts Council of Geneva - or somewhere - offered him a paid trip of a few days to go promote his book. So he weighed up the balance between accepting their offer or doing a bit of djing at an east end club and he...well, he went to Geneva and Simon came down to the club). Simon is brilliant, though, playing mostly film scores and TV themes (yes, it turns out that was Animal Magic....this one goes out to all you Johnny Morris fans....etc, etc). I go to get people drinks, but keep bumping into to other people arriving. I get caught up in the continual river of: 'hi, how are you? thanks for coming, yes, really, good to see you, the drinks are over there on the table, no I didn't, seriously, yes, thanks, have you picked up a badge? really liked your work at that show, yes, oh, thank you, what's next, when's that...' and all the other half and quarter and smaller slices of conversational pie you eat when you are the artist with the show. I never finish one conversation all night. I feel like I've spoken to everyone and no one. Whatever, it's great to see so many people here -even if I didn't get to say more that one word to some of them...
Then suddenly five hours have passed.
Where did they go? I start to head home.
Karen D'Amico came for a short while. Within 12 hours I am blogged by her (click here). So the picture at the top of this column is by her. I pulled it off her blog... It was either that or a blurred close up of my teeth....
Thanks to everyone who came along.


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