Friday, March 02, 2007

Russell Herron's Blog

Well, let's see. What are we drinking here? Ah yes...
Finally. After a year of stumbling round the dirty London artworld this is where it ends. Right here, with me, on my own, hunched over the keyboard, sipping from a glass. I set out to try and make a record of what was happening over a year and, whilst knowingly inconclusive, subjective, incomplete and flawed, I've done it. Over the last 12 - 13 months I've been to over 170 private views, made 130 seperate entries on this blog, seen a great deal of art and met a whole host of artists and gallerists, dealers and writers, wannabes and willbes.
I wanted to write something of what is is like to be in the artworld at this time. It is, although it may be sometimes difficult to see, a love letter. To London, to the London artworld and the people, all of them, who make it happen in so many surprising and brilliant ways. We were all in it together. We were all here, trying to get along.
I wrote it because I wanted to tackle history without hindsght. I wanted to find out what it all looked like now and not have to wait for history to rearrange it all into something that made sense. I wanted to know who was doing what and where and what did it look like? I was looking for what was coming next, or what was just happening or what was still on the way. I wanted The New. And with this in mind, I mostly avoided the big galleries. I sniffed around the smaller independent spaces; the front rooms, the disused shops, clubs and squats.
I undoubtedly missed some of the the key shows of the last year. And I undoubtedly stumbled drunk through shows which may one day be regarded as turning points, beginnings of movements, or seminal moments in artists careers. Well, so be it. I set myself an impossible task and I failed and I also succeeded.
Anyway, this is it.
Or more precisely, this was now.

Thanks to all the people who appeared in different ways in this blog. Thanks to all the people who read it. Thank you to the people who emailed me invitations to come and see what you were doing. And thank you to the people who took the time to leave comments on the blog (even the lovely person who left this one).

The following is a list of all the artists, gallerists, writers and curators, and other assorted people that have been mentioned in the blog - sometimes at length, sometimes merely as a name check/drop, sometimes as something in between - with links to, wherever possible and where I could find it, their own website/blog/myspace/info/gallery page, whatever. And sometimes, where I felt it was particularly relevant, back to an entrance in this blog. Usually a link back to this blog signifies an entry that has some interest more than just a namecheck. If you are interested to see where a name appears in the blog but there is no link to it in this list type russell herron + name into any search engine. It usually gets there.


It's been a ride.

Russell Herron

Artists, Gallerists, Writers, Curators, People

David Adjaye (website), Kathrine Aertebjerg (blog, website), Jonathan Allen (blog, website), Craig Andrews (info),
Artists Anonymous (website), Reza Aramesh (blog, blog, website), Katherine Araniello and Aaron Williamson (website),
Simon Armstrong (myspace), Matthew Arnatt (blog, website), Michael Ashcroft (artnet), Kate Atkin (blog, axis), Raul Ortega Ayala (blog, retitle), Franko B (website), Francis Bacon (wikipedia), Jenny Baines (blog), Jess Baines (info), Sarah Baker (blog, website), John Balderssari (website), Oliver Bancroft (blog, info), Bandism (myspace), Fiona Banner (website), Sam Basu (artfacts), Florian Baudrexel (info), Jibby Beane (website), Olly Beck (blog, myspace), Simon Bedwell (blog, blog, website), Maria Benjamin (guestroom site), Emma Bennett (blog, blog, website), Eva Berendes (info), Ashley Biles (blog), Bjork (website), Blood 'n' Feathers (blog, website), Ryan Board (blog), John Bock (website), Andrew Bonacina (blog, info), Ben Borthwick (blog), Rob Bowman (blog), Charlotte Bracegirdle (blog, saatchisite), Brian who works at Tate Modern (blog), Martin Bricelj (website), Marcel Broodthaers (website), Jemima Brown (blog, website), Millie Brown (blog, myspace), Bettina Brunner (website), Matt Bryans (blog, blog, Kate MacGarry's site), Christoph Büchel (blog, website), Chris Burden (website), Harry Burden (blog, website), Bev Bytheway (blog), C.Cred (blog, website), James Capper (blog), Brendan Michael Carey (blog), Gillian Carnegie (tate site), Luke Carson (blog), Hector Castells (blog), Brian Catling (blog, website), Jake and Dinos Chapman (wikipedia), Fleur Charlesworth (blog, myspace), JJ Charlesworth (website), Gordon Cheung (website), Charlotte Church (website), Oliver Clegg (website), Colette (blog, blog), Anna Colin (website), Laura Youngson Coll (jerwood site), Paul Collinson (jerwood site), Susan Collis (seventeen site), Celine Condorelli (website), Mario Consiglio (artnet), Mike Cooter (blog, website), Matthieu Copeland (blog, blog website),Tom Cox-Bisham (blog), Patrick Coyle (blog, myspace), Martin Creed (blog, website), The Crisps (myspace), Stuart Croft (lux site), Bridget Crone (blog), Andrew Cross (website), Dorothy Cross (website), Oona Culley (blog, website), Stuart Cumberland (blog, web), Will Cunningham (blog), Cyclops (sartorial site), Tom Dale (blog, website), Karen D'Amico (blog, blog, Karen's blog), Virginia Damtsa (website), Charlie Danby (blog, website), Matthew Darbyshire (website), Sam Dargan (rokeby site), Christopher Davies (blog, sartorial site), Liz Dawson (jerwood site), Guy Days (blog), Richard Dedomenici (blog, blog, website), Jeremy Deller (tate site), Andrew Graham Dixon (blog, wiki site), Graham Dolphin (blog, website), Douglas the bar (blog), Sarah Doyle (blog, blog, blog, blog, website), Sarah Dwyer (blog, website), Jamie Eastman (blog, blog), Hugh Edmeades (blog), Lee Edwards (blog, blog, myspace), Einsturzende Neubauten (website), David Ellis (blog), Kate Ellis (blog), Tom Ellis (blog), Tracey Emin (blog, saatchi site), Simon English (blog, Fred site), David Ersser (blog, seventeen site), Ekow Eshun (blog, wiki), Clare Evans (blog), Cerith Wyn Evans (blog, tate site), Flora Fairbairn (saatchi site), Abigail Fallis (bbc site), Tessa Farmer (saatchi site), Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez (wiki site), Doug Fishbone (blog, website), Craig Fisher (rokeby site), Ceal Floyer (blog, Lisson site), Josephine Flynn (blog, axisweb), James R Ford (blog, website), Laura Oldfield Ford (blog, blog), Melissa Franklin (website), Joe Frazer (blog, website), Carl Freedman (blog, counter website), Katharina Fritsch (tate site), Ellen Gallagher (blog, art 21 site), Ryan Gander (blog, blog, blog, store site), Francesca Gavin (blog, blog), Ana Genoves (pilot site), Gilbert and George (wiki site), Antonio Gianasi (blog, website), Sarah Gilham (blog), Liam Gillick (corvi mora site), Kirsten Glass (Hales website), David Gleeson (blog, blog), Michel Gondry (website), Dryden Goodwin (blog, website), Douglas Gordon (wiki), Paul Gorman (blog, website), Anthony Gormley (website), Michelle Grabner (rocket site), Andrew Grassie (blog, sperone westwater site), Andrea Gregson (creekside site), Beth Greenacre (blog), blog, blog, website), Ed Greenacre (blog, blog, website), Nigel Grimmer (blog, blog, blog, website), Lucy Gunning (blog, tate site), Nick Hackworth (website), Matt Hale (blog), Trevor Hall (blog), Lesley Halliwell (blog, website), Nathalie Hambro (website), Chris Hammond (website), Paul Harfleet (blog, website), Ellie Harrison (blog, website), Lucy Harrison (blog, blog, website), Matthew Harrison (blog, associates website), Claire Harvey (blog, store site), Eric Hattan (blog, website), John Hayward/Hayvend (blog, website), Nadia Hebson ( blog, website), Celia Hempton (blog), Knut Henrik Henriksen (blog, website), Russell Herron (blog, blog blog blog myspace), Angie Hicks (blog, website), Damien Hirst (artnet), Jens Hoffmann (blog, blog, blog, wiki), Emma Holden (blog, blog), Will Holder (associates site), Sigrid Holmwood (website), Matthew Holroyd (blog, myspace), Gemma Holt (blog), Paul Hosking (Fred site), Dave Hoyland (blog, blog, blog, website), Graham Hudson (blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, rokeby site), Richard Hughes (blog, modern inst site), Mustafa Hulusi (blog, blog, , website), Gary Hume (white cube site), Tom Humphreys (blog, blog, blog, blog, website), Adam Humphries (artfacts site), John Isaacs (website), Hilary Jack (blog, website), James the bar (blog), Anna-Karin Jansson (transition site), James Jessop (blog, sartorial site), Jasper Joffe (website), Daffyd Jones (website), Reece Jones (website), Jay Jopling (website), Brian Jungen (nativeonline site), Katsonobu (corking site), Tony Kaye (wiki), the Keith Talent boys, Simon and Andrew (blog, blog, blog, blog, website), Ellsworth Kelly (Guggenheim site), Mike Kelley (site), Sarah Kent (blog, iniva site), Calum F Kerr (blog, blog, blog, blog, website), Tobie Kerridge (blog, website), Annie Kevans (blog, website), Neill Kidgell (blog, myspace), Martin Kippenberger (website), Sharon Kivland (website), Tim Knowles (blog, website), Cressida Kocienski (blog, myspace), Meiro Koizumi (blog, artfacts site), Rem Koolhaas (blog, great buildings site), Jeff Koons (website), Thomas Kratz (web), Shay Kun (blog, website), Jari Lager (blog, web), James Lambert (myspace), Jim Lambie (modern inst site), Andrew Lampert (blog, site), Philip Lai (modern art site), Bill Leslie (website), Simon Linke (website), The Little Artists (website), Hew Locke (website), Cathy Lomax (blog, transition site), London Improvisers Orchestra (website), SR London (web), Liza Lou (blog, Deitchsite), Richard Louderback (museum 52 site), Anne Low (associates site), Sarah Lucas (collective site), Luci, Richard Dedomenici's girlfriend (blog), Paul McCarthy (ralph mag site), Tom McCarthy (blog, interview), Sarah McCrory (website), Peter McDonald (museum 52 site), Mark McGowan (blog, blog, blog, blog, blog , website), Alastair Mackie (blog, blog, website), Nina Madden (blog), Fred Mann (blog, website), Christian Marclay (youtube), Rebecca May Marston (blog, blog, blog, blog, Associates), Helen Mason (blog), Matt the barperson (blog), Bob Matthews (blog, web info), Flavia Muller Medeiros (blog, website), Ron Meerbeek (blog, blog, web), Sebastian Mekas (blog), Hugh Mendes (blog, website), Gretta Safarty Merchant (website), Alex Michon (blog, transition site), Minkoff and Olesen (info web), Jo Mitchell (ica), The Mixed Up Insects (blog, myspace), Catherine Morland (website), Jack Morton (blog), Tom Morton (blog, interview), Mr P (sartorial site), Charlie Murphy (blog, website), Rosalind Nashashibi (doggerfisher site), Nathan 80 (sartorial site), Mike Nelson (frieze), Nick, Dave's business partner at Seventeen (blog), Warren Neidich (blog, blog, blog, blog, web), Lena Nix (website), Gavin Nolan (myspace), Benn Northover aka Beautiful Boy (blog, blog), O.two (sartorial site), Dermot O'Brien (blog, website), Hans Ulrich Obrist (blog, books by), Gary O'Connor (about a show), Kirsty Ogg (website), Louise O'Hare (blog, trebuchet mag), Ed Oliver (blog), Sally O'Reilly (blog, blog, info), Christopher Orr (ibid site), Kevin Osmond (website), Simon Ould (blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog), Djordje Ozbolt (website), Matt Packer (blog, blog, website), Maureen Paley (blog, blog, website), Lisa Panting (blog, website), Seb Patane (blog), Simon Patterson (iniva archive), Mark Pawson (blog, website), Pearse the Barperson (blog), Pearse's brother (blog), Lisa Penny (blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, apartment site), Giles Perry (new contemporaries), Holly Pester (blog, blog, myspace), Raymond Pettibon (website), Sarah Pickering (website), Paul Pieroni (blog, myspace), Anne Pigalle (website), Cathie Pilkington (blog, web info), Olivia Plender (web), Chong Boon Pok (imt site), George Polke (blog, website), Polite Cards (website), Christiane Pooley (blog), Simon Popper (project), William Powhida (blog, website), Sara Preibsch (blog), Adele Prince (website), Richard Prince (nymag site), Harry Pye (blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, myspace), Martha Pym (blog), Emma Quinn (blog), Jacques Ranciere (wiki), Olivia-Jane Ransley (blog, flux factory), Niru Ratnam (blog, blog, store), Brian Reed (blog, blog, blog, seventeen site), Vic Reeves (bbc site), Clunie Reid (blog, brooklyn rail review), Richard Reid, the shoebomber (blog), Mari Reijnders (blog, blog), Mandla Reuter (blog, web), Joseph Richards (blog, website), Boo Ritson (blog, saatchi site), Jo Robertson (blog, website), James Rosenquist (website), Dieter Roth (moma site), Paula Roush (blog, msdm), Rob Ryan (website), Giorgio Sadotti (blog, blog, blog, blog), Micheal Sailstorfer (blog, website), Rafael Sanchez (blog), Sarah Scarsbrook (blog, bristol site), Joe Schneider (blog, website), Collier Schorr (info web), Rose Scott (blog), Liam Scully (blog, web), Tino Sehgal (blog, blog), Dallas Seitz (blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, by Sarah Baker), Frank Selby (museum 52 site), Martin Sexton (sartorial site), Chris Shepherd (blog, slinky site), Cindy Sherman (website), Noah Sherwood (blog, artfacts ), Jamie Shovlin (blog, saatchi site), David Shrigley (website), Jason Shulman (blog, web info), Daniel Sinsel (sadie cole's site), Mark Sladen (ica), Florian Slotawa (blog, website), Bob and Roberta Smith (blog, blog, blog, website), Matthew Smith (blog, store site), Rowland Smith (blog), Steph Smith (blog, myspace), Steve Smith (blog, blog, Steve's blog), Terry Smith (blog, matthew bown site), Rosie Spencer (blog, blog, icon mag), Malin Stahl (blog, website), Simon Starling (modern inst site), Georgina Starr (blog, blog, website), Sarah Staton (blog, website), Lucy Stein (blog, blood n feathers), John Stezaker (blog, approach site), Kate Street (blog, blog, website), (website), John Summers (blog, blog, blog, website), Superqueens (blog, website), Ricky Swallow (blog, blog, gallery info), Marcus Sweeney (blog), Neil Tait (white cube), Tomoko Takahashi (tate site), Tatty Devine (Rosie and Harriet) (blog, website), Neil Taylor (blog, website), Jen Thatcher (blog, kultureflash), Russell Thoburn (blog, website), Barry Thompson (blog, blog, blog, blog, rachmaninoff's site), Matthew Thompson (blog, MOT), Mimei Thompson (blog, website), Karina Thoren and John Chantler (blog, recording), Ross Tibbles (blog, modern art site), Wolfgang Tillmans (images), John Tiney (blog, blog, drive thru), Wawrzyniec Tokarski (web info), Sue Tompkins (blog, blog, modern inst site), William Tuck (blog, artnet), Gavin Turk (artnet), Rachel Tweddell (blog, blog, apartment), Simon Tyszko (blog, phlight site), Sally Underwood (blog, artnet), Donald Urquhart (saatchi site), Lillian Vaule (flaca), Gabriel Acevedo Velarde (blog, agency), Julie Verhoeven (blog, website), Stella Vine (blog, blog, blog, website), Bill Viola (blog, website), Banks Violette (website), Jessica Voorsanger (modern culture), Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich (blog, website), Simon Wallis (blog, website), Andy Warhol (warhol museum), Jonathan Wateridge (blog, david risley site), Cecilia Wee (blog, blog, blog, website), Anuschka Weise (blog), Mark Westall (blog, website), Michael Whittle (transition site), Virgil Widrich (blog, youtube), David Wilkinson (blog, apartment site), Bedwyr Williams (blog, blog, website), Nicola Williams (blog), Robbie Williams (website), Rosemary Williams (blog, website), Sarah Williams (blog, myspace), Rebecca Wilson (saatchi site), Sol Le Witt ( website), Roman Wolgin (blog, website), Ben Woodeson ( blog, blog, blog, website), Clare Woods (blog, modern art), Tom Woolner (blog, website), Liz Wright (blog, tate), Angus Wyatt (new contemporaries), Mary Yacoob (website), Haegue Yang (blog, works by), Kiyoshi Yasuda (blog, seventeen site), Ingrid Z (blog, blog, website).


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bad then Good

I thought at first that the whole thing might be some kind of odd, though - I have to admit - impressively detailed, hoax. It began with an article in The Observer which caught my eye, about an artist, Russell Thoburn, who had been making his way into after parties of posh private views using a false name - mostly, from what I could tell, that of 'Alex James' from Blur. The article suggested that he had been doing this for about three years, so potentially I thought this might be quite interesting - if also not a little suspect, underhand, insidious and, quite simply, rude. And he was now putting on a show about his exploits called The Fake's Progress. I wondered what the show could possibly be. There was mention in the article of a work that he had made using matchboxes from the venues of these after parties, arranged like a sort of stonehenge circle, with some matches standing upright inside the circle and then many, many more matches outside it. I wondered, at this point, if this was really the sum total of what he had produced. I groped round the internet for more information and found a couple of sites on retitle, and a website dedicated to the artist himself. It makes for interesting reading on many levels, though none which I suspect the artist intended. Check out the website here. Written with a breathy excitement reminiscent of a 1950s Boys Own adventure there's a lot of text about him and his career. Though when I say career....the main details, as spelt out endlessly by the artist himself are these: in 1997 he made a work about Saatchi's go-kart. This was 'notoriously' mentioned in The Daily Star and launched his art on the world. After this, though, there seems to have a been a period of not making any waves or work until 2004 when he pitches up in the Hay Gallery in Colchester (no, me neither) with a show called Paperscapes. And now this - a show at the Foundry, God bless it, about his adventures in the artworld, and a work, made out of matchsticks, which 'illustrates' this.
Boy, there are so many questions that I want to ask this guy. The quite astonishing thing is how far he is from where he (thinks) he wants to be. I want to ask him about what he thinks of all of this, this little adventure he - or rather, 'Alex James' - has been on?
He believes that if only the right people knew about his work then he would be bought and lauded like all the other artists that he is so clearly in awe of and about whom he is so twisted with jealousy. Now, ok, be honest, so far, so recognisable. You know, I'm not so far from those thoughts. I can get where he's coming from, but, what I don't get, is where he is going. Or rather, what he hoped to do when he got there. Did he really think that by getting into an after party it was all going to open up for him? And surely, once he'd been to one, standing there like a plum while everyone around him said hello to each other, did it not occur to him that this was not going to get him anywhere? And did he really think that by lying to gallerists and artists that this would ingratiate him to them? And what's with the whole 'Alex James' thing? What was he thinking?
Like I said, so many questions.....
Lena and I go downstairs in The Foundry and find a small show and a handful of people standing around. There's the matchstick work. And here are some things on the wall. They look like invites to private views except they're not, they are things he has made, I think, then printed the private view details on. And then overlaid these with the contents of emails from 'Alex James' to various people who work at galleries. There's maybe 8 examples of these. Surely he went to more over three years, I think? I have a closer look. There's one about getting into the Turner Prize and one about getting to an after dinner at White Cube. There's also one about getting into the private view for Surprise Surprise at the ICA. I don't mean to be funny, but a private view at he ICA is not exactly hard to be invited to. You certainly don't need to be Alex James. But, here we are, 'Alex James' has emailed the press department to see if he can get in....
There's some other stuff, about Gary Hume and some weird tarot like cards he has made showing his progress from nowhere to success. Or something.
I look around. Lena is trying not to laugh at the matchstick thing. Me too. It is dire. I'm also trying not to cry. It's such a sad show. What was he thinking? The chasm between where he is and where he wants to be is immense. And the only way he can think to bridge that abyss is by pretending to be someone else. Psychologically, it's all there, isn't it? I almost didn't write about this show at all, thinking that it didn't really deserve the one thing it so desperately craved which was attention, but, well, I don't really think anything will help this show. I've never seen anyone so desperate to be a part of something that they so clearly despise. I wonder what this story will be?
I don't think it will have a happy ending.
Lena and I decide to leave this strange show and head towards Seventeen where there will be some really good, proper, interesting art.
On the way, we pass Standpoint and pop in for a quick look. I bump into Steve Smith who writes the Nooza blog and after about 20 minutes I realise that I have talked incessantly about the Foundry show. I tell him he has to check it out. Which he does, here.
I'm obviously still in a whirl about the show and when we get to Seveteen, it is such a relief to see the restrained, precise, elegant and intelligent work of Susan Collis. I remember a work she did a few years back, exhibiting an old paint splattered boiler suit, which on closer inspection turned out not to be paint splatters but embroidery. Terrific. Tonight's show takes that premise and makes something even more beautiful and interesting. That line of paint drips across the gallery floor? The paint spattered broom leaning near the door? The screws in the wall? Yep, none of it what it seems. All those spots of paint are made from precious metals or precious stones. It's beautifully done. It's a show, if you like, that calls up a few questions about what we value and what we don't - and therefore what is art and what is not, and who makes those decisions. It's also about the overlooked and unvalued; the unnoticed. Strangely, for a show that looks at first glance to have no work in it I'm soon feeling that there may be too much.
There's certainly too much going on in Simon Ould's head. Look. He shows me that piece of paper at the top of this. A scribble of openings and views and odd notes about things. I think his mind looks a little like this. But then again, so does mine. My life for the past year has been defined by the hours 6 til 9pm.
I see Paul Pieroni. He has curated a show in the toilet of a club not far down the road. I ask how it's going. He talks about Christmas trees. I have no idea what he is on about but he is clearly on about it in some detail. I also see Kate Ellis, who almost worked at the shop with us. I see Dave Hoyland and tell him that Jaguar Shoes got a name check in a Just Jack song I heard the other day.
And that's where we go, along the road to Jaguar Shoes. I have a chat with Lena and Kate and then decide to head off.
I'm tired.
I go down Kingsland Road, onto Old Street and then down the tube to home.

bad then good pics

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bargain Basement

I'm walking through the door of 96 Teesdale Street and the first thing I see is Liam Scully, standing on a little stage belting out a karaoke version of Bowie's Let's Dance. All around the space, covering the walls like a bank of TV screens showing warped up versions of daytime/celebrity/reality programmes are his drawings. This is his event at E:vent - a sale of his works to try and raise money to reunite him with his wife. For reasons that I don't understand she has had to return to Australia and he is fundraising to get her back, or to go out there and bring her back. Or something. Whatever it is, it involves love, separation, and then possible resolution. But like I say, I'm not too sure. His works are being sold off at the knock down price of £20 each.
Anyway, he's singing Let's Dance and Dallas Seitz is recording him with a camera and Matt from Vague is there and we say hi.
The lovely Kate Street is there and I say hi to her and Brian Reed is there too and we have a chat. He has some work in the latest issue of Flux magazine and more stuff coming up in the next issue of cabinet; then a show he's curated here at E:vent and then a show at Seventeen. I'm a big fan of his work. We talk for a bit about work and stuff and about Liam's work and Brian points to the work he's bought and I say I'm buying too but I haven't decided. Although saying that, I realise that my eye was taken pretty early on by a drawing of Amy Winehouse, legs apart, showing it off, and with a caption saying Amy Cunthouse. I'm a big fan of Amy Winehouse and this piece branded itself in my brain as soon as I saw it so I reckon I have to have that. Then, one of the other more scratchy, scribbly ones. Ah yes, this one about I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. That's the one. Kate says she was thinking about that one, but wasn't sure about it having Jordan in it. 'Although, actually, I really quite like her,' she says, like she's confessing to killing children. All the works here are pretty much concerned with popular TV shows: Celebrity, Big Brother, Trisha - all of them down with enough scratchy lines to make you think there's a real anger underneath all this. But an anger at what, I wonder? It would be odd to spend so much time drawing and writing about that which you don't like. These drawings may seem critical of what they portray but I'm not convinced. Mostly people get angry about those things which they can't allow themselves to like. Seems to me Liam has a lot of time for all this trash.
Dallas comes up with Matt. They have bought five of these works. Dallas is laughing and screeching. Then he gives me a look. 'Look at him,' he whispers, pointing towards me, 'he's just looking for something to blog. Just looking for material. Searching, searching, searching, all the time...'
I say Dallas should give the karaoke a go. That would make the blog, I say.
I'll pay you. Five quid if you go and sing.
'Are you kidding, dude,' he says, 'no way, like, no way.'
I chat some more to Brian. I go off and buy the Amy Cunthouse work and another one.
There's still a bit of Karaoke going on, and someone tells a bad joke about an elephant having sex with a mouse.
I figure I might head off.

Scully pics

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tom Morton and Tom Morton's Mum and Dad

I'm at Cubitt, looking at some art from the 1970s by Rose Scott and Jack Morton, or, to give them, for this show, their more relevant and, shall we say, more meaningful names: Tom Morton's Mum and Dad. Tom (above) has curated a show of his parents works stretching from the 70s to, so it says on the press material, the present day. It all looks fairly old and dated though; like relics. But, whatever, we are not here to look at the art at all, really. We are here to understand the back story, because this is a show that is not really being shown. Or, maybe, the work on show is only a small part of the show. It also includes the information in the press release, the interview with Tom by the Wrong Gallery, Tom's position as a curator, the current artworld, the last twenty years of curatorial practice, the past lives and histories of Tom, Rose and Jack, and conceptual recontextualising.
The details are these: Tom parent's married in 1970, they both worked as art teachers and produced their own work that was exhibited in the Cambridge area. They separated in 1982 and divorced in 1985. Tom answers questions on the separation and divorce in the accompanying information and you can read the full interview here. The show, of course, is really about Tom. Or about the curator Tom Morton and the questions that are still up in the air about curating. Tom has said, and I'm sure he won't mind me dredging up this particular quote (ok, actually, he probably will, but, he said it, so tough), that 'I am no more an artist than I am a plumber.' Well, I'd say this show suggests that he could, at a push, install a toilet or unblock a drain. Probably couldn't quite put in a whole new central heating system, but there's still time. The whole artist/curator thing has been rumbling on for a while now - and I think, still has quite a way to go - but Tom's show here really is the curator stepping into a relational dynamic with the work on show that we would more comfortably associate with the sort of position taken by an artist.
But the truth of it is, that, despite myself, and the fact that Tom always seems to wear his shirts unbuttoned very low on his chest like some cheesy 70s actor, I really quite like this show. And I know I really like it because it sort of annoys and irritates me. It's too clever clever and too gestural and, in many ways, only as good as the idea behind it, but I do really like it. I like thinking about it. And it's a very rewarding show if you like thinking...
I'm talking to Bettina Brunner who works at Cubitt. We talk about Jens Hoffmann and Jens replacement at the ICA, Mark Sladen, and we talk about Rob Bowman who is also a curator there and we talk about the ICA in general. Bettina worked there for a while in the exhibitions department so she knows the score.
I also see Simon Ould there. You see, I told you: he is at everything nowadays. 'It's because I have nothing else to do,' he says, genuinely and sadly. He fishes a newspaper out of his pocket. 'Did you see MM in this?' he asks. MM is his name for Mark McGowan. There's a picture of Mark in the paper, on all fours with a George Bush mask over his face. This is a work he's doing in New York, asking people to give him a big kick up the backside. 'That was taken in London, though,' says Simon. Behind Mark, in the picture, is a girl, carrying, rather ostentatiously I now realise, a plastic bag with I Heart NY on it. Simon talks about being in MM's shadow and that it's time he moved out of this and made some stuff on his own. 'I've always been the prop maker for Mark - or the prop. Remember when he did that piece about kicking a crack addict along the street? I was the crack addict,' he says. I've also seen him being the gambler in Gambler Eats a Horse - in which he had to eat a lot of horse meat and cover himself in horseradish sauce. And in other things, usually as the stooge to Mark's showman. Like the Ernie Wise to Mark's Eric Morecambe. It's high time he stepped out of all that.
Asking him if he's always worked with Mark gets me the answer that he first met him at Camberwell College and ignored him for the first six months and then struck up a friendship and then they worked together. He also goes on to tell me a long story about meeting Harry Pye for the first time. Initially he was given a flyer by Harry for the Peter Cook Appreciation Society. Then 6 months later he was looking at some work in Winchester, I think, and it was Harry's work - pens and pencil sharpeners with little cut out Harry Pyes on them and then he met him and said: 'Ah, so you are the world famous Harry Pye!'
Then he talks a lot about cardboard and footballers buying art, but I don't think I quite follow this.
Anyway, we move on. I say goodbye to Bettina and head off. It's pouring with rain and I am thinking about the show and Tom's mum and dad's work and then about Harry and his show and him including those paintings he did when he was five and then I think about shows in which the archive becomes the work and how the representation of a subjective reality becomes the basis for a historical documentation. And then my head starts to hurt.

mum and dad pics

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Right Pile of Wank

Up to Sadie Coles place on Heddon Street and new work from John Bock. You have to like Bock. Not least because it's always a treat to see his remarkably striking and attractive face in his video and photographic works. And all that madcap stuff he does. And for Bock groupies tonight there is indeed a video piece here. One of the gallery girls is telling someone how good it is. 'It is 59 minutes long, but it is really good.' I squeeze into the crowd that is watching this piece and take in a couple of minutes. Bock is doing something with a vase of flowers in the grounds of a house. He looks great, but standing up against the back wall behind a load of other people coming and going is really not the way to be watching 59 minutes of video so I sneak off. There's an old scooter in the main space, with what looks like a large octopus made out of swatches of brightly coloured clothing beside it on the floor. I can't work out if they are supposed to be connected in some way. Also, the scooter has had the left handgrip removed and replaced with some contraption which now has a different sort of handgrip on a long lever, too far out to be comfortable to ride, surely. I head upstairs. For some reason the door on the next level is closed and people are walking past, up the stairs to nowhere then coming back down and wondering what's going on. I slightly nervously push the door, wondering what's going on myself. But it's fine. The office is still there and that extra, slightly awkward, space for further work is still there. Inside are two works on paper, with scribbling and notes and drawings and photos of Bock riding the weird scooter. There's also an assemblage with an old bar stool which looks exactly like something Graham Hudson had on Chelsea parade ground.
On the way out I see Mathieu Copeland, which is handy as I need to get some more copies of his curatoral project/magazine, Perfect - a magazine printed with white ink on white paper.
Then it's over to Associates in Hoxton Street.
Even before Ryan Gander says, 'That's the artist, over there,' and points to a girl dressed in a red tracksuit top, who's been laughing her head off with her mates since I came in, I knew it had to be her. She's big, loud, and has a dirty laugh which bursts out her mouth like a drunk falling through a pub door. She's brilliant.
It makes me laugh just being near her. She's down from Leeds and she's brought her mates with her and they're all having a laugh too. The gallery looks a total mess, though, like a gang of asbo friendly kids had been let in with a load of paper nicked from a nearby primary school. There are huge blob-like photocopies of what may be turds, genitals, bananas or just shapes, with big stupid smiles and dumb eyes stuck on them. There's some crappy silver foil sculptures, there's - wait a minute, what is all this stuff? Let's ask Josephine to talk us through it. 'Well, I like tin foil, don't I?' she gurgles. I point at things. 'What's that?' I ask. 'It's a croissant, isn't it, on it's side. You probably can't see that. It looks shit, doesn't it? No one thinks it looks like a croissant.'
'And those teeth at the back of the gallery?' I say, pointing to a scrappily stuck together laser copy of someone's teeth. 'Put teeth in Google and that's the first image that comes up,' she says and pulls out another big, thick laugh. 'I was a bit scared about it tonight, you know. I thought people were gonna come down and say this is a right pile of wank, isn't it? What is this shit? Anyway,' she continues, 'this is me mate Katie, she's come down today.' 'Hello, Katie,' I say and take her photo. 'Fuckin' look at that. You look good there,' she says to Katie when I show her the photo. Then we all laugh together for a bit.
I take Josephine's photo too. She obviously doesn't enjoy this and pulls a face. That's her at the top. It may be one of the best photos I've ever taken of an artist.
Anyway, I don't think anyone here thinks this is a pile of wank. I overhear at least two people use the phrase 'breath of fresh air' in relation to the show. More like a fucking tornado, though, I think. She has filled the gallery with work that just makes me smile. It's awesome. It's a show of pure energy and of a deep interest in what it means to be an artist. I haven't seen anything like this for years. It makes me think of the stuff Sarah Lucas did at the start. That enormous energy that blasted through everything she did. There's a slightly different motor behind this tonight, but no less fierce and powerful.
Later I am talking to Ryan and he mentions an earlier work she's done, where she bandaged her hands for her graduation ceremony. And suddenly, it clicks. This is another work I've loved, but had never connected the names. And now I do. If you don't know that work, there's a picture of it here. At the end of her course, on graduation day, she bandaged her hands and kept them like that for the ceremony and the photograph. It's a shocking, hilarious, angry, passionate, sophisticated, clever and stupid piece of work, that doesn't sit easily into any real genre. But what a work.
And if you too want to join the Josephine Flynn Fan Club you would do well to check out the interview that Ryan does with her here and some of her videos here.
In fact, the interviews that Ryan and Rebecca Mmmmmmmm have been recording with the artists in this gallery are all excellent. Honest, genuine, revealing.
Associates is finding an incredibly rich seam for their programme. It's an important little space.
It's just a shame that tonight's show was such a pile of wank...

Bock and Flynn pics

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Knives are out at Rokeby

Pearce's brother is at the bar. We have a chat. Behind us the wall is dripping with blood and there's a chainsaw on the ground. Upstairs I had to pass a table of knives and knuckledusters. I also noticed a knife resting in a blood soaked sheet. But I'm not worried. Because this is Craig Fisher's show and however much blood gets spilled, splattered and spurted on the walls, it's not real. It's all made of fabric.
As I'm getting a drink I see Ellie Harrison and Adele Prince. They are on their way down to the ICA for Jo Mitchell's re-enactment of the 1984 Einsturzende Neubauten gig - when they had the power pulled on them for drilling into the stage. We say hello and then they have to head off.
I saw Craig's show here last year, when he had made an entire car out of fabric, crashing into the gallery wall. This show seems a little more restrained, despite the blood. The press release suggests that there is some sort of narrative at work, but I'm not at all sure about this. I think I'm missing something. Is there a torture scenario going on? There's a chair halfway down the stairs in that curious little hallway just by the toilet. The chair is made of fabric too. Some kind of premeditated killing? Whatever, Craig can certainly stitch. The knives and the table on which they lay, the knife in the blood soaked sheet and the chainsaw and blood spurts on the wall are exquisitely produced.
Outside I see Simon Ould. We chat. He talks, as he often does, about an upcoming show or piece of work or some strange project that he is involved in with Mark McGowan. I've noticed that Simon is at many of the openings I go to. I think he may always have been there but I've only just noticed this.
I also talk to Beth Greenacre. She is just back from Rotterdam and heading off again tomorrow to join Ed in New York for the Pulse art fair. It's a busy time for gallerists.
We talk a bit about this blog, and about history. Beth talks about having been a student just down the road from where we are and walking along this street, with the weight of art history pressing down on her, never realising that she would one day be running a gallery of her own on this very street. I tell her about sometimes wishing that it were possible to reach thru time, momentarily, for like a few seconds, maybe, to a younger self and being able to offer some words of reassurance or help or support. Occasionally I find myself walking along Whitechapel Road, near where I used to live years ago. It was a devastating and depressing time (for many reasons, and I shan't bore), but whenever I'm there, I almost expect to see my younger self turning out of Cavell Street, looking down at the ground, hunched, unhappy, wishing that life wasn't the way it was. And as this younger self walks along, this me of now, this happier me who knows that the story ends ok, holds out a hand and says, it will be alright. It won't always be like this. It will pass and you will be happy.
Well, whatever...
You never know what's going to happen - or how life will be.
I give a little sigh. Poor Beth, I'm not sure she wanted quite as much detail as all this.
Maybe it was the sight of all that blood...

Fisher pics

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hot and Cold in Hackney

One minute I'm talking to Tom Humphreys in the basement of flaca, the next I'm standing, abruptly, in complete pitch blackness. The lights have all gone out. I reach out and grab Tom's arm. 'What's going on?' I ask the black nothingness in front of me.
'It's -'
The lights come back on.
'- art.' says Tom, calmly.
The lights go off and on throughout the night. They are on a timer. Tom says they're on for the length of time the artist, Mandla Reuter, has calculated it takes to look at the show. I wonder how he calculated that? It could be useful to know for future use - how long it takes to look at any show? I wonder too - does this include thinking time? Does it imply a certain way of looking? In fact, this subtle, but noticeable piece, makes me ask a lot of little questions. I look at Tom. 'Nothing as gauche as a press release to accompany this show, I guess?' He shakes his head, 'Ooh, no,' he says. 'There is some text though, upstairs, near the door. The artist is up there. You'll see him: tall, brown hair, pacing around, chain smoking.'
'OK,' I say. 'And you. You also have some work at Keith Talent tonight?'
'Yes.' He thinks for moment. 'A very cool show,' he says. 'And I don't mean cool as in...I mean icy cool. Cold.'
Yeah. Lisa Penny was cold. Then she was hot. Then she was cold again. Earlier I saw her outside 1000000mph on Old Bethnal Green Road. Too much drink the night before, now suffering, hot and then cold. Couldn't cope with it inside - too, too hot - so is standing outside on the pavement. We have a chat. Don't put this on your blog, she says, but...(people always say this now. 'Here's something, but you can't put it on your blog.' And there will be another two people tonight who say the same thing to me. It's a wonder I actually have anything left to write at all...) Anyway, back to 1000000mph. Or rather, hello for the first time! Regular readers will know the Herculean task it has been to get on the mailing list and now finally, a favourable constellation has brought my schedule and their private view into alignment. I'm also glad to be here as it's the launch of Vague issue 2 and even more pleased because I know that the show has some Sarah Baker work in it - and I'm a big fan.
I go in, leaving Lisa, going hot and cold, outside.
It's packed, naturally. It's loud and busy and there is some art on the walls but hardly visible behind everyone. There are two pallets worth of Vague magazine. Matt, who edits the paper, is there and so too Dallas, who runs this space. He's in his element. I lift my camera to take a shot. He sticks out his tongue, screws up his face. Also there is, hey wow, is that....? Well, yes it is, it's Sarah Baker herself (above). I say hello and introduce myself and she looks at me thinking who is this guy and I ask to take her photo and say I write an online diary of shows and then she knows who I am because it turns out she read what I wrote about her before and suddenly, in her eyes, I go from being weird pervert guy who might kill her slowly in a cellar at some point to ok guy who likes her work and can string a sentence together and, then I say, as further reassurance: 'I'm a friend of Dallas.' 'Oh,' she says, 'I didn't know you were his friend.'
'Isn't everyone a friend of Dallas?' I say.
'Well, yeah, sure,' she laughs. 'Or I guess you are either for him or against him.' I nod in agreement. He seems pretty popular tonight, though, with this crowd. There's always a crowd not far from Dallas. I wonder if Dallas has ever experienced standing in an empty room?
Sarah has some work in this new issue of Vague and also some flyposted up in the gallery. It's great stuff. Undiluted, unapologetic and unafraid to be what it is. In these pieces she is wearing her sunglasses with her familiar signature across the lenses and she's all all blinged up and behaving like a starlet. Her work, of course, suits a magazine format. Part art star, part celebrity in her own right, she happily plays with branding and surface and celebrity and glamour and fashion and icons and image and logos and identity. Phew. But she offers no easy critique of all this stuff; merely posits her own contruct in its place. Perhaps she's trying to see how far this can go. Perhaps it goes all the way. I guess, yet, we none of us know what her work could be. Much of the time what she does doesn't even look like art. How good is that?
In the basement of flaca though I am clearly looking at some art. There are electrical bulbs across the floor, a door with one end jammed up against the wall, the other end on the floor, against a book called What A Life by Georg Herold. This work is by, I think, Haegue Yang. I go upstairs and see the tall, brown haired, pacing, smoking Mandla Reuter. I find the text Tom referrred to. It is four titles on a piece of paper. This at least means that I now know the lights going on and off is called Time Has Ceased Space Has Vanished (and not: Work No.227: The lights going on and off). But there's no other information on the paper. 'It does have the address of the gallery printed on it,' says Tom helpfully '... but I guess you already know that.' I do know that. Yes. The lights continue to go on and off and upstairs I notice that there is a hatch opened up in the ceiling and, just visible through it, a large speaker from which some confused sounds are emanating and dropping down onto the gallery like drops of water from a leaking pipe. There's also a large photograph fixed to the wall. An indistinct, shadowy form. It looks like art and it sounds like art. But it all seems a little bleak.
As I leave, heading north towards Keith Talent, Woodeson phones and says he's heading south and do we want to meet? We schedule a meeting at Talent.
On arriving I see him and also one of the Keith Talent boys - is it Simon or Andrew, I can neve-
'Fuck's sake, that pisses me right off. This fucking 'is it Andrew, is it Simon' shit. Fucking hell, man. You're fucking taking the piss, you fucker. You and your fucking blog, it fucking pisses me off. If you fucking do that again I'll fucking bottle you, you fucking gobshite.'
I'm guessing here that Simon from Keith Talent isn't very amused.
Or is it Andrew who-
'FUCK. YOU. Stop doing that. And you can put that on your fucking blog too.'
Anyway, we do manage to have a chat. Seems Andrew (or Simon) is often also known as Keith. At art fairs and such, it's sometimes easier for him to be Keith Talent. We chat some more - about Charlie Brooker (who we both love), and LA art fairs, selling art, Clunie Reid, spliffs and blowjobs, Miser and Now. It's a curious mix.
I go and have a look at the show. It is a little chill, as Tom suggested. There's Tom, Lillian Vaule and Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez in this show. I have no idea who has done what. Some pieces stand out: three reams of sealed photocopy paper are hanging on the wall, with a rectangle gouged out of each one; there is what looks like the back of a frame in its polysterene holder still; there is a badly drawn, glum looking cartoon Pink Panther gesturing with his hand as if to say, this is it, this is what there is. Other pieces sit awkwardly on the walls. Even for a private view there is a looming tension that these works seem to be emitting.
Just as I'm thinking it's time to go I bump into the lovely Lucy Harrison. I've been following a project she's doing down in Canvey with a series of monthly meetings/walks/conversations under the title of the Rendezvous Club. You can check it out HERE. It's a very interesting piece. She tells me about people she's met on these walks, people she's talked to in the community. It all seems a very long way away from the unhappy Pink Panther in the corner.
I think back to Sarah Baker's work. I think about the lights going on and off. I think about white pieces of paper. And I think about walking along with a bunch of people in Canvey on a brisk, light Sunday afternoon.
It has indeed been, like Lisa said, a very hot and cold evening.

hot and cold pics