Hey, look at this guy - you know who this is?
Thought not. Pretty hard to tell thru all that beer, eh?
Well, that's just the way he likes it.
We are drinking at Bistrotheque in Wadeson Street, parallel to Vyner Street where we have been tonight to see the Modern Art opening (check out their website here
- then, just for a laugh, check out mine here
). I'm there because I know they have some Ricky Swallow work on show and, as we all know, Ricky Swallow's a genius, right?
Well, no, not according to Harry Burden. Harry gives me a funny look when I say that Ricky's a genius and I can tell that he ain't going to be agreeing with me in that. 'I like some of his early stuff,' says Harry, like one of those guys I knew at school who, every time you asked them about a band they always, only, ever
, liked the early stuff. New Order? They only really liked Joy Division. Pink Floyd? Only really liked Piper at the Gates of Dawn, when Syd Barrett (respect) was songwriting. Bob Dylan? Only before he actually recorded anything at all ever and when he used to play harmonica and guitar with his kid friend and they used to record it on some shitty little tape-to-tape thing in his bedroom which years later was put out as some kind of bootleg which you could only get if you knew someone who....
What is it with guys? Why are we like this??
Anyway, Harry's not quite this bad, no, not at all bad, really, and, in fact, the really cool thing, thank you
, about Harry, is he has a business card. Not enough people do, I find. I give him one of my cards, which, having been in my top pocket all day is consequently, given the ever rising temperature of the day, slightly moist. Harry takes it with a little trepidation.
Once we are done with 'the card thing', as people often say at the start or end of business meetings when cards are dealt across the table like poker hands and everyone's feeling slightly awkward and unprofessional, like they should've been smoother about this whole transaction - or even like they shouldn't have to resort to cards in the first - or last - place and when did we all grow up and have to do things this way (??), I get a photo of Harry. Harry then asks to take my photo. He does a better job of my photo than I do of his. He also takes a photo of his business card sticking out of my pocket. I figure maybe tonight, Matthew, I could be Harry Burden. Or maybe Lisa Penny could be Harry - she tries on his card for size in her jeans pocket. She doesn't look like a Harry, though. She's there with Brian Reed and they are looking at a print out for their forthcoming show in Berlin. They are looking at this and thinking about a game of Art Charades (someone can certainly have this one for free - Brian squiggles his finger in the air - 'painter' - then clutches the side of his head - 'no ear', etc etc ). Then we are looking at the art. We are across the road from Modern Art looking in the other space at the work of a painter called Wawrzyniec Tokarski. It's big stuff. Huge canvases filling the gallery. I really quite like them. The accompanying press release says that he borrows and manipulates 'familiar symbols and typefaces to create a layered and complex critique of the dissemination of information within our media saturated culture.' Blimey, if I read one more press release which talks about our 'media saturated culture' I'll eat somebody's bloomming hat. Wasn't it Basquiat, way back in the day, who was creating images that reflected our 'media saturated culture' and wasn't he, in turn, re-inventing the experience that Andy was himself re-inventing to comment on our 'media saturated culture'? Sometimes, I just think, come on people, look up from your books. Watch Big brother. Watch Love Island. Watch the adverts in between. Buy the logos. This isn't media saturation. This is just normal life...
Talking of Big Brother, though...
I meet someone who loves watching Big Brother.
I meet Reza Aramesh.
We are talking over a beer and he is saying how much he likes Big Brother. We offer this up to the table. 'Who else here likes Big Brother?' Everyone looks noncommittal and a small, gentle, chorus of 'no's waft back towards Reza and I. Until someone mentions Nicky. Then everyone's suddenly talking and having an opinion. Reza laughs. We've all been sucked in, some way or other. Every year I see how long I can hold out. I never make it the whole way through. I'm always tuning in for the final. Usually, then, abruptly wondering why on earth this is drawing a sliver of a tear from my old, cynical eye.
I really liked the Changing the Guard you did in Trafalgar Square, I say to Reza. 'Thank you' he says. Then suddenly, 'Ah, yah, that facking photo of me, that's you, huh? That facking photo with my chin on my facking chest. Man, I hate that photo. Delete it, man, facking delete, will you? Ah, fack it. I hate it.'
So I say yes, I'll delete his photos (after all he might beat the crap out of me). Go back to that entry where I wrote about that piece
and look for photos of him. You won't find any. Not anymore. No siree, they are all gone. If you didn't see them before, well, now it's too late.
The only photo of Reza now is that one up top. Like some kind of alcoholic Magritte. I think it's a pretty neat photo.
Anyway, I'm thinking about this photo but Reza's talking about foxes. He feeds the foxes in his garden. And not just any old food either, he feeds them sushi. Ok, maybe he did this once. He bought some sushi and was going to eat it with his friend Georgina Starr and they were - Hang on a second, there. Georgina Starr? Georgina Starr
?? What happened to her? I used to be so into her work, all that kooky, slightly off-beat mad sixties/seventies trip she was on. Then nothing. For years. I know she was doing all this Bunny Lake stuff but none of that was really coming into focus and I could never really get a fix on it. But, no, she's still around and she's still doing stuff and she's still eating sushi. Which is a shame for her, because it turns out the sushi was little bit off. So she phones Reza and says 'don't eat the sushi, I'm feeling well sick.' So Reza doesn't eat it, he gives it to the foxes. But then, as Reza goes on to say that he takes his dog to restaurants and gets a place set for him, I guess that's not too weird, right?
Anyway, whatever, Georgina Starr. Brilliant name, brilliant artist. And here's someting else. She was in a show at legendary gallery City Racing in 1997, called Thoughts. And that was show number 46 at City Racing, factlovers. And show 46 was an odd show because there were actually three shows happening simultaneously: Thoughts
, Interesting Painting
. And even more bizarre: Reza and I were both in the latter. I was working under the name SR London and Reza had an extra 'i' at the end of his name, so he was Arameshi.
What happened to that then?
What happened to all of us?
I decide to say my goodbyes and take a drift. Down Wadeson Street, left onto Cambridge Heath Road, right into Hackney Road and down, a good walk, past Columbia Road, across Kingsland Road, down Old Street and on to the junction with Great Eastern Street. And standing like a fortress on the corner is The Foundry. Not a place an old geezer like myself would usually go, but I'm going in because it's the launch of issue five of Savage Messiah
, a zine put together by Laura Norder. There's been a bit of word of mouth about this. Two people, within my hearing, independently of each other, have mentioned it. I need to check it out, and I certainly need to check out any girl with the name Laura Norder. So I go in. The place is such a dive. But there's a table with copies of Savage Messiah and there's Laura Norder (aka Laura Oldfield Ford) and I go and buy a copy and I give her the money and I take her photo and it makes me laugh.
On February 16 of this year I've just come out of the view for Pack of Cards at 39
and I'm in the pub and I see a girl and she looks very striking and she's wearing a very cool hat and so I ask if I can take her photo and she says yes and I do and it's her and tonight I say, can I take your photo and she says yes and I laugh.
It's small world, and it's probably a good world and it's all faces and its all names.modern art pics