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.