That smell. No matter where you are or what you are doing the smell of vomit has a uniquely revolting odour that's hard to define but instantly recognisable: nauseatingly too familiar and enduringly unpleasant. And it doesn't matter how many video, digital, film cameras and mobile phone snaps are taken of her as she squats in the middle of the road, nothing can adequately capture the stench which accompanies the action of her pushing her shaking fingers down her throat and sicking up a torrent of brightly coloured liquid.
Yep, I'm sorry to say, that's what we are doing this afternoon: watching a girl squatting in the street puking up the red, orange and green contents of her stomach so that it soaks the white T shirt she has stretched over her knees...
Well, ok. It's not too hard to see lots of ways we could go with this. Painting, body art, performance, actionist intent, pornography even. But I'm not going to go those ways, because the only way I'm going is down the street away from that smell.
Each time she finishes puking up a particular colour she stands and presents herself and her work. Quite a few people applaud.
And let's not forget, either, what else is going on around her. Hang on a moment, though, John Summers is on the phone to Lucy, explaining things: 'There's some girl barfing up colours, kneeling in front of some dude who's like got a bit of a gut and is like really white, and he's, like, covered in horseradish. And he's sitting underneath a little dude, who's like a jockey and he's taped to a lampost.'
I wonder what it was exactly that she said to him following this description? I can only posit that it may have been: 'And what about the little japanese lady who is saying things through a tiny microphone? Why didn't you mention her?'
Maybe she said something different though, I don't know.
Who knows, really, what this is all about? Well, maybe Mark McGowan does. It's his piece. He is walking around dressed in some crappy cardboard headress. He also moves around this whole mad scenario with total calm. And, despite myself, I find it inexplicably affecting when he gently and carefully wipes the mouth of the girl when she has finished being sick. McGowan's such a strange character, making all these works about the very nature of taste and decency.
So I guess it seems no surprise to find that this piece is part of a group show being presented in Jake Chapman's house. It's called RIGHT ON WRITE OFF and there's some really interesting names in it. Not least that of Simon Bedwell, who used to be a third (or some such fraction) of BANK. I remember seeing their stuff in the early 90s. Or rather, not seeing their stuff, as the whole thing scared the shit out of me. I can remember titles like Zombie Golf and Cocaine Orgasm. They were so full on I never even went near them. They were ferocious. From afar it looked to me like they were totally part of the artworld and totally outside it too. What I found out later was that they were exclusively the latter. Anyway, Simon's here tonight. He says they were totally obnoxious to everyone when they were doing the BANK stuff. They thought it was fun, a laugh. Just that no one else did. He used to wonder why none of the galleries were interested in them. Now he can understand why. I can't help but think that the whole story of BANK hasn't yet found its proper place in history.
And standing here in the street, the skin on my face crisping in the heat (it's such a hot day), talking to Simon, smelling the vomit in the warm afternoon air, I feel a very long way from Rokeby on Store Street, where I was earlier today, watching the first half of the England v Paraguay game. The tension in the gallery was cracking like neck muscles each time the big screen went black and a small blue box appeared in the middle of the projection with the words 'NO SIGNAL'. And then watching the second half of the game at Keith Talent. (For those of you now reaching for a copy of your London A- Z and calculating the distance between these two galleries, can I just say that I had to really work out my transport options in advance here). Keith Talent is not only watching the football, but also roasting a whole pig. Simon and Andrew have never done things by halves. They are recently back from art fairs in the States and I have a chat with both of them, though I still don't know who is who. They're just the Keith Talent geezers. I look around at the show. Ben Woodeson (New Contemporary 2003, factlovers) is there. I take his photo and get him just at the point he is saying, 'don't take my pho-'. So it doesn't look too good. So I take it again, this time just after he has said, don't take my photo, then kindly held his face towards the camera long enough for me to get the shot. Someone taps me on the arm. It's Matt Bryans. I keep seeing him recently. But I don't see much of his work. Which is a shame because I really like it. We talk about Christmas trees (he did a work using bits of trees - I saw it at his Kate MacGarry show where this blog started - all those months ago - and which I called at the time: Funny Little Wooden Things) and we talk about how it's good to be able to say what you are. I tell him I am artist and a shopkeeper. And some people don't like this at all. But luckily he does.
Anyway, back to that nice girl puking up her insides. The show also includes work by Mustafa Hulusi (he is one of the curators of this show). Regular readers of this blog will know that I am very keen on his work though I have never met him. And when I say keen, I mean in the way that when I give my card to people over the course of the night, at least three of them look at it and say - 'oh, so you're doing work like Mustafa Hulusi.' So, I figure I really ought to meet up with him tonight. Except I don't know what he looks like. Luckily Jen Thatcher, who I know from the ICA, is there and she points to the back of a guy in a striped shirt who is walking away from us. I clock him and take note of as many details as I can. Right, striped shirt, shaved head. That'll narrow it down, then...
But actually it does, because as we are going into the Whitechapel after the Love Parade I see - sorry? Did I not mention the Love Parade? How could I forget. At the end of the show at the Chapman's house there's a bit of standing around and then some nice ladies dressed in pink and purple outfits, wheeling an enormous phallic inflatable lead us, to the accompanyment of some excellent drumming and percussion, and a short detour to hear an indian song sung by a guy in a shop doorway, to the Whitechapel Gallery. The large inflatable turns out to be a balloon firing rocket launcher and we all watch as purple and pink balloons rise up the front of the Whitechapel, then seemingly burst into light up as they catch the last rays of the sun above the roof. And that was the Love Parade, brought to you by Zoe Walker nad Neil Bromwich, leaders of the Friendly Frontier Campaign, and very nice it was too....
So anyway we are going into the Whitechapel late night and as I go through the door I see a guy with a striped shirt and a shaved head, just to my left, standing outside, but it's too late to say anything as I'm through the door and he's gone.
If you can be bothered to look through the photos at the end of this entry you'll see him in a few of them, inadvertently caught by my camera. In fact, you can play your own game of Where's Mustafa? I think he might even like that.
OK. Maybe not.
Yeah, pretty definitely not.
Ingrid Z from the Residence is there. 'Hi, Zed,' I say. 'It's Zee,' she says irritably. We talk a bit about the Residence and about a guy who had a private view there recently with no work (fabulous, I think to myself). I say I'm gonna take her photo. She holds up all the bags of shopping she has with her and says 'Madonna and Child'. I take the photo, thinking how much, bizarrely, I quite like Z.
I mean Zee.
Anyway, we are in the Whitechapel and we have a few drinks and we talk to Jen Thatcher. 'I need to go for a half an hour and see JJ,' she says. Charlesworth? I ask. 'Yes,' she says. Jen and JJ are together. (JJ is also one of the curators of today's show). We all leave. I bump into a couple of girls in the street, one of whom I vaguely recognise. And then I remember. She came into the shop and I took some fabric patches she had made, with really gross, offensive, sick sentences printed on them. We all exchange cards. Hers says Fleur Charlesworth. I have to laugh. 'JJ?' I say. 'He's my brother,' she smiles.
The world is so small sometimes.
I don't know whether to laugh or throw up different coloured liquids...