Friday, October 20, 2006

Zoo Art Fair

Went to the Zoo art fair last Sunday afternoon. It was in a large marquee this year and comprised several 'internationals' from Mexico, LA and Berlin, and some interesting out-of-Londoners. The London component was more or less the same as 2005.

The best stands (is it stands or booths?) in my humble opinion were TemporaryContemporary and Bearspace (fuzzy felt pictures!? LET's GO!!), both near neighbours in south east London, and Studio1.1 in Redchurch St. I also enjoyed Bureau from Salford, who were showing Jacob Cartwright. I enjoyed seeing Jacob's work again (I was bowled over by his show 'Godwottery' - in conjunction with Nick Jordan - at Transition earlier in the year).

My favourite absolute tops was Workplace from Gateshead who were showing Marcus Coates' shaman ceremony. We saw it at the Britsh Art Show in Bristol. It's called 'Journey to the Lower World', and its Marcus wearing a stag skin, doing a shamanistic dance and channelling some pagan horned god in a suburban sitting room supervised by a group of bemused OAP's. He sort of rears up and make stag noises. Workplace were not only showing the piece itself but also the stag skin drapped on the wall, and a large still from the dvd piece. They also showed Jo Coupe's 'Enough Rope'. A old wooden table, with gently rotting fruit piled on top. Electrodes attached to the fruit power tiny cutting devices that chip away at the table legs. It's a lively thing. Humming with electricity, and moving. The table rocks and chatters, like Victorian table tapping. Spiritualism wrapped in wires. You can see it the foreground of my photo, with Marcus Coates behind.

The rest of the place was a bit dull I thought. There wasn't much memorable painting , what painting there was was either flat and lifeless (all a bit 'match the curtains'), or just plain scruffy. There was a tonnage of rather dreary photography, and everywhere you looked paper sheets pinned or taped up bare against the walls (what happened to frames for fucks sake!!!????)... Only TemporaryContemporary, Bearspace, Studio 1.1, Bureau and Workplace seemed to be showing original and innovative work, new ways of working. They made me stop, take photographs, make mental notes. They made me think about my own practice and things I'm concentrating on at the moment. I thought about materials, how to present ideas, how to do improve things.

Also enjoyed meeting Patrick Wilkinson, of Wilkinson Vinters no less - one of the sponsors, was there showing off his rare G&G drinking sculpture from 1972, fittingly displayed above a wall of wine cases. He had a Philip Guston too. I was momentarily concerned for him that the most expensive things in the room were not only eminently carryable but hung only feet away from an open plan entrance.

So a big thank you to the forementioned, and a mild thumbs down for all the others, some of whose stands looked exactly the same as last year.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hot off the press!

Am in this week's Time Out. It's the 'My Favourite Londoner' bit at the back.

I chose Dan Farson who was a big supporter of mine and somebody who's not written about or remembered nearly enough these days in my opinion. The photo they've used of Dan is the John Deakin portrait on the walls of the Colony Room in Dean St. I like the fact that you can just see the edge of a Bacon poster poking into the photo, and a photo of Muriel Belcher, the first proprietor of the Colony Club and the Annie Walker of 50's Soho. All very in-keeping!... Definately Dan in his own milieu.

My only problem is there was some kind of mix-up and they've said I'm showing new work at Nancy Victor in Charlotte St this month. I'm not, it's not until the Spring. But I wouldn't have thought that an article on Dan would actually want to make people come to a show anyway, in particular. It's not about my work after all.

Anyway, talking of Dan Farson I found this recently on a search website for newspaper articles. It's Iain Sinclair on Gilbert and George from the Independent on Sunday in about 1999:-

"It's clear that G&G operate two modes, both equally valid. There's Living Sculptures - with strict rules and Zen discipline. And there is the book buying, pottery collecting, restaurant visiting, chatting up waiters, off-duty existence of unexceptional Spitalfields millionaires. According to official doctrine, they never go to art shows. But locals still speak about the opening of an exhibition of Stephen Harwood's "East End Paintings" in the Art East Gallery in Spitalfields market. Peter Ackroyd and Dan Farson also attended. And the evening climaxed, riotously, in a tapas bar brawl."

The tapas bar is still there but the gallery is long gone. How marvellous to think that not only did one's cultural heroes all have a drunken scrap but that another one of one's cultural heroes saw fit to write about it! I didn't know about either!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Art of Gen

Saturday was Psychic TV at the Astoria with Crazy G and Dawn Right Nasty. Genesis P.Orridge took to the stage in a blast of 'Papal Breakdance', with new gold teeth, a neat blond bob, white mini-skirt, Psychic TV t-shirt (slogan: "Nothing Short Ov A Total Gender") ripped down the breastbone exposing handsome boob cleveage and hints of tattoo. He's even more injected, filled and painted and, in short, fabulous, than last time we saw him at the forum two years ago (imagine Judi Dench in best summer frock thrown to a pack of feral drag queens).

LOVED the music, as ever. Musically they are difficult to describe and with Gen a lot depends on who his current collaborators are. I guess it's part trippy psychadelia, part rock, part industrial dark bits. Plenty of impressive walls of sound and ground shaking cresendos. There was some great new stuff but also 'Terminus' from 'Force the Hand of Chance' (which was cheerfully introduced with 'this one will depress you!'). 'Papal Breakdance', was slightly reworked. 'Roman P' was so completely reworked I hardly recognised it. It had been slowed right down, meaning the sinister lyrics had a chance to sink in in a way they don't normally.

The sound seemed a bit odd for the first couple but they sorted that out fairly quickly. I thought that they sounded better than the Forum gig.

They played in front of some startling projections , including collaged close-ups of Gen being botoxed and surgically adjusted. Not surprisingly, given Gen's background, it was more like performance art than a gig. Like artist Orlan with a Velvets soundtrack. My favourite was the film of Gen and his "other half" (his words) Lady Jaye gliding around Times Square in fur coats, faces wrapped in bandages, but in full make-up, and relaxing, both at home and in medical environments, in four inch black patent heels to a slow New York love-song. Other projections included good old fashoned 'Temple of Psychic Youth' insignia (spinning crosses and wolves) various other operations and gender bending graphics.

Nice piece on him in the Guardian on Saturday (rightly described as 'rock's most notorious provocateur') and I admire Genesis for being uncompromising. But I was disappointed for the band that the place wasn't full to bursting. A half-empty venue can make you feel as though you are enjoying something unattached to the mainstream, but a strong personal vision needs sheckles in the bank and I hope they pull bigger crowds in the States for their sake. Gen seemed in a good mood though and having a great time on stage. There was no 'Godstar', no matter how many people shouted for it.

The atmosphere came crashing down at the end of the night, for me at least, with Jeremy Joseph's urgent tones over the PA ordering everyone out to make way for G.A.Y only about two seconds after Gen had left the stage. I knew that there would be a strict curfew being tight t-shirt night (you have to be at the Astoria on time for gigs on clubnights), but they DID play for two hours so I was more than happy. It was one of those gigs that you come out of blissfully smiling and almost walking on air. Jeremy Joseph would have hated it however and was probably locked away in some ante-chamber wishing death on PTV while unpacking flyers with pictures of Steps on.