Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Associates again

Tonight's entry on this blog is brought to you courtesy of FIREFLY, the healthy drink to help you wake up, detox and chill out!

I'm up at Associates again, like a dog returning to the kill. And tonight there is definitely something happening. I walk up Hoxton Street and see a small crowd standing outside the gallery. As I look at this crowd - young, arty, bearded, smoking, drinking, chatting - I think back to all the many, many similar groups I have seen over the last year of going to openings. So many times I have turned a street corner to approach a new gallery and never had to worry about where or what number on the street it was, the location always announced from afar by this same group. It in its own little way it's quite comforting. As I get closer I also notice that some of the people here are drinking FIREFLY, the healthy drink that is helping them chill out!
It's cold outside again tonight but hot and close, like my mother's breath in a hankie pressed into my eye, in the gallery. The windows are steamed up. Ryan Gander is by the front door, acting like a sort of doorman. I say my hellos and he offers a thanks to me for putting an ad for a studio manager for him into my weekly mail out. 'I owe you one,' he says, 'you may want to mark that down in your black book.' 'Already in there,' I say, 'already in there.'
I go in and my glasses do the same thing as the windows and completely steam up. I take them off and stand in the middle of the gallery wondering what on earth is going on in front of me. Rebecca Mmmmmmm comes out of the blurry colours and says hello. We chat. I tell her I was here on Sunday night but there was nothing going on, all shut up and quiet. Oh no, she says, we were here until about 9.00, then we decided to close up. We're sending out emails saying if you turn up and we're not here just give us a call. She tells me that they left a note on the door the other night saying they were in the pub and when they came back there was a little note from someone saying they had come along but didn't want to disturb them...
It's a very laidback vibe, as I said before.
Anyway, what's happening tonight? There's a whole bunch of people in the gallery, there's the sound of a voice, heavily microphoned, speaking calmly in the the back and some small objects arranged around the room, mostly hanging from the walls. The recorded voice is referring to these objects, describing them, alluding to themes and meanings, but it's hard to hear above all the chattering. I make out the words 'Figure one...coastal erosion...' I have a wander round. Lots of people are happily drinking FIREFLY, the healthy drink helping them to detox! Well, you know, it is January, so I guess that's why...
I go back outside, opening the oven door, like a chicken breaking free from the imminent Sunday roast and gulp in the cool night air. Rebecca Mmmmmmmmmm is outside now too, drinking some FIREFLY!
I meet Andrew Bonacina, Rebecca Mmmmmmmmmmm's co-organiser of this 12 step programme. We talk about what is going on. He tells me there are 12 days in this show to mirror the 12 months that the gallery is going to be open for. And then, not wanting to do a group show, and wanting to find different approaches to showing generally, they came up with this one day/one artist approach. There's a certain freedom that this gives too. There is the opportunity for artists to try things out, to experiment and investigate, a little less pressure to make the big statement show and a little more space in which to fail. And that's a good thing. He talks about these shows and viewings acting as a social space as well as just simply a place for showing art. This is a place for people to come, to meet up. I'm very taken with this. The whole thing that the two of them are doing is great. They both talk about how the performance on Saturday, Anne Low's presentation of a recording of Glenn Gould's Bach's Goldberg Variations, was an experience in audience expectation. For the first 25 minutes of the recital no one spoke. I imagine everyone was treating it like ART. Then, finally, someone said something and this broke the tension and soon everyone was talking and it was marvellous.
I get to meet Matthew Smith who did the first show at Associates and which I saw, though got so drunk that night that the only thing I can say to him tonight is - oh yes, you did the wonky shelf thing. I can just tell he's impressed by my acute summation of his work...
Anyway, he graciously stays to speak to me for a moment. He has a show coming up at Store and and has some work in East. That's great, I say. Ryan leans over and says, and White Columns, don't forget that, eh? Matthew hurriedly looks for a bushel in the the street under which he can ram his now burning light...
He looks uneasy. Yeah, you know, ..he says.
I have to take a photo I say. I blast him. Love the background, he says. Hmm, I say, red chickeny things. Like my eyes, he says.
Ryan, who has consistently refused to have his photo taken every time I see him is now taking delight in moving people forward and saying, 'here, take her photo - she's the artist. Go on, get a photo of the artist.' I flash at the people in front of me. They look uncomfortable. I wonder if Ryan is enjoying this....
And talking of enjoying: we're all enjoying some FIREFLY! Seems like everyone is drinking this stuff tonight. Heck, it's better than the beer!!!
I go back in for another look round. I see Tom Woolner and Mike Cooter in there. They look woken up, detoxed and chilled out! They're drinking FIREFLY! I also see a girl drinking FIREFLY Love Potion and another guy drinking FIREFLY Sharpen Up! Hey, he looks sharp! And she, well she looks, you know, loved up, I guess...

Associates is doing something a little special here. There are more views over the next few days - including a birthday for art itself - and I'll be back. Andrew says London needs a place like this for people to come to, to gather and to be.
He's right. That little crowd of people - young, arty, bearded, smoking, drinking, chatting - will always need somewhere to stand outside.

Don't forget now:
FIREFLY - the healthy drink to help you wake up, detox and chill out!



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