John Russell, Vermillion Vortex

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John Russell Vermillion Vortex
2010
23 minutes

Former Bank member, John Russell's new video work, commissioned by Art Review for their November 2010 issue.

High quality version here.

Moon Wiring Club, The Jayston Mix

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Oh! A new mix by Moon Wiring Club from a wonderful new discovery, Pontone, an excellent independent music site. Coinciding with the release of their new album, A Spare Tabby At The Cat's Wedding, an album released as a 2-part vinyl and CD coupling, Moon Wiring Club venture out of Clinkskell to share some more self-confessed silliness in a mix dedicated to English actor Michael Jayston.

Ian Hodgson's output as Moon Wiring Club takes us on a creepy and somewhat confusing adventure into the imaginary world of Clinkskell, home to Gecophonic Productions and a host of unusual characters. Through the website, full of texts and illustrations painting a picture of this lost and timeless place, and a series of recorded releases and mixes, Hodgson invites us into an imaginative fictitious place filled with references to the past, occult explorations and pop cultural borrowings from the '70s and '80s.

Initial rummaging round the Pontone archives also turned up mixes by Clark, kpunk and Mordant Music.

Mark Fisher Talk at Chisenhale Gallery

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Wednesday 17th November 2010
7 pm Free

Alongside Hito Steyerl's new exhibition at Chisenhale, Mark Fisher, author of Capitalist Realism, known to many as blogger kpunk, presents a talk in which he asks the question: ‘Can anything genuinely new emerge in a political landscape that is clogged with ideological junk?’

Mike Nelson, The Coral Reef, Tate Britain, London

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Mike Nelson The Coral Reef
Tate Britain
Millbank, London, SW1C 4RG
10am - 6pm daily
Free

Mike Nelson's The Coral Reef is currently on show as part of Tate Britain's collection displays.
Having first been exhibited at Matt's Gallery in 2000, 10 years on it remains one of the most strikingly original pieces of contemporary art you could wish to see. It is an immersive installation that takes the form of a labyrinthine construction of rooms and passage ways in which carefully placed objects act as clues to the characters that have recently left.

The experience of walking through it is disconcerting and unsettling while also being rewarding and full of entertaing surprises - make sure you've got a few 10 pence pieces with you as the arcade machine really works, and watch out for rooms that seem familiar, they may be exact copies of others...

The Nelson installation is worth the trip on its own, but be sure to take a look at Fiona Banner's breathtaking new commission for the Duveen Gallery, Harrier and Jaguar, while you're there, and also catch Francis Alÿs' Guards in the Lightbox space downstairs.

John Bock, Curve-Vehicle incl. Π-Man-(.), Barbican Curve, London

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Barbican Curve
Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, United Kingdom EC2Y 8DS
10th June - 12th September 2010
Daily 11am - 8pm, Thursdays until 10pm
Free

John Bock's practice is a visually stunning amalgam of sculpture, assemblage, performance and video that traverses the mundane, the absurd and the grotesque in a reference-laden language that is seductive, exciting and at times unsettling. Inhabiting the Barbican's large, curved gallery is a series of sculptures taking the form of ceiling- and wall-mounted 'parasites' - pod-like living spaces whose insectoid limbs break through the space's walls - and a large vehicle echoing the forms of these in a tower of pods mounted atop a taxi chassis.

Having opened last week minus a film of one of Bock's 'lectures' - the artists' preferred name for his performance works, one of which is currently being made in the space- the exhibition is due for completion by this Saturday, 19th June and is certainly not to be missed.

Photocredit Lyndon Douglas.

Gig: Patten, Arch M, Forest Creature & Kaleidoscope DJs, 18th June, The Woodmill, London

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Click to enlarge.

A fundraiser at one of South East London's newest studio and gallery complexes, The Woodmill. Expect glitches, beeps and lush, off-kilter electronics from Patten, Arch M, Sheffield's Forest Creature, Kaleidoscope DJS and more.

Stan Douglas, Broadcast Works

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Stan Douglas Broadcast Works: Television Spots and Monodramas
1987 - 1991
7 minutes 51 seconds

"I hope to be surprised by the meanings that these works can generate, so that by putting the right materials together, they can do more or result differently from what I expected. This process is opposed to metaphorical constructions, where artists expect to control the meaning of a work by defining how it is to be read symbolically. I want to work with what an image means in a public world. So when people bring their understanding of how images work, and how things are in the world, they can do something completely different from what I anticipated when I put them together."
Taken from the UbuWeb archive, artist Stan Douglas' Broadcast Works were originally created to be inserted unannounced amongst the regular programming schedule and in advert breaks on a Canadian TV station. Seconds-long and intentionally ambiguous and open ended, viewers ended up responding to the videos by calling the station to find out what they were.

The Television Spots (1987/88) are Becket-like constructions depicting banal and incidental non-events in which our expectations of a focal point or conclusion are conflated when the piece comes to an abrupt end. More developed, and slightly longer at between 10 and 30 seconds each, the Monodramas (1991) appear like ads without branding or inconclusive snippets from a larger narrative.

Fullscreen here.
More Stan Douglas videos here.

Quote from Stan Douglas in Conversation with Diana Thater, from Stan Douglas, Phaidon 1998.

The End Is Nigh! Apocalyptic Visions In East London

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A recent trip along the Regent's Canal to two of East London's best contemporary art spaces led me into two dark, apocalyptic video installations filled with the terrors of imminent catastrophe: Jennet Thomas's All Suffering SOON TO END! at Matt's Gallery (currently in its final week) and Melanie Gilligan's Popular Unrest at The Chisenhale.


Jennet Thomas All Suffering SOON TO END!
Matt's Gallery
42–44 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR
April 14th - June 6th 2010
Wednesday - Sunday 12 - 6 pm
Screenings begin on the hour and at 30 minutes past

Jennet Thomas's All Suffering SOON TO END! is a two-part installation based around the end-of-world predictions disseminated in an evangelical Christian pamphlet delivered to the artist. Extrapolating from the Revelations-esque Last Days prophecies, Thomas has created a menacing character in the form of The Purple Preacher - a combination of an imagined embodiment of the writer of the pamphlet and the Marvel Comics villain, The Purple Man, a character who possesses the ability to control enemies through incredible powers of persuasion.

The 30 minute video features The Preacher paying a visit to an elderly couple and detailing the evidence that our increasingly secular world has lead to an enormous increase in the amount of suffering experienced by humankind, that we have angered God by ignoring Him and that he is punishing us for this. But do not worry - for all this suffering is to end very soon, thanks to His salvation. Following this, a car journey and a rather unnerving trip to a model village with a stern Green Nun character, and a few poorly performed musical numbers act as features of The Preacher's evangelical repertoire, before life-sized living dolls of Adam and Eve wreak havoc in the pensioners' home and attempt to recruit school children to the cause.

Strangely (probably unintentionally?) reminiscent of absurdist left-field comedy sketch shows such as Big Train and Chris Morris's Jam, the video is blackly comic and by turns quite unsettling and somewhat endearing. Spliced with flashes of destruction and doom, the video meanders through repeated scenes of the purple figure preaching his message, edited to a soundtrack of pulsing glitches, ambient electronics and reverberating dialogue. Images of a hypnotic TV screen featuring an animated motif reminiscent of both a cross and that biblical root of sin, the Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil. The image becomes central to the work's visual language when it recurs in filled-out sound-emitting three-dimensional form as the centre-pieces of the adjoining installation.

The film is compelling and at its heart thoroughly enjoyable, creating a comical parody of these doom and gloom religious ramblings. It manages to do what good satire does best, and subverts what is actually in real life a scary and sinister practice (frightening the elderly and indoctrinating the young) into a ridiculous and bizarre farce.

Melanie Gilligan Popular Unrest
Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road, London, E3 5QZ
7th May - 20th June 2010
Wednesday to Sunday 1 – 6pm
Thursday 3rd June until 9pm

Melanie Gilligan's Popular Unrest is a 5 part film-installation with a total running time of 75 minutes. Spread across 5 flat-screen monitors divided by office screens, visitors are presented with wireless headphones and may move between the various episodes playing in sync, tuning in to the sound from each as they go.

Taking on the form of an episodic drama the series tells the tale of a not-too-distant future in which a digitised system known as The Spirit monitors and manages human life the world over. As the plot unravels we learn of a mysterious spate of killings being carried out across London by a seemingly super-natural force, and of a bizarre phenomenon arising across the country in which groups of people are mysteriously drawn together by an uncontrollable urge to be with one another. I won't say any more about the plot for fear of spoiling the suspense of the work for you if you see it yourself.

Reference points claimed in the accompanying literature fail to gel with me - claims of allusions to David Cronenberg's Body Horror films don't wash; while the first death we see is remarkably violent and genuinely quite shocking I'm wondering if they blew the budget on it. The remainder of the film's fatalities seem to be made up by repeatedly using one technique (knife stabbed through clothing into dummy/blood bag) to unconvincing effect. Again, the claim of taking cues from American crime dramas such as CSI, Dexter and Bones doesn't really work for me, the final effect, I must say, is more like the BBC's poor cousin of these (think more Spooks than HBO). I can't help wondering, however, if these reference points were Gilligan's own, or were added by the gallery as their reading of the work.

While I understand that realism is not the aim here, and this exhibition was clearly not produced on a Hollywood budget that ran into the millions of pounds, the work requires a certain suspension of disbelief in order to achieve some of the effects it seems to be trying to get to. The wooden acting doesn’t help, and blatant staging of the filming in the gallery (complete with Florian Hecker’s speakers from the last show) doesn’t either, and comes across as poorly done rather than knowingly flat.

I remember an interview with Paul McCarthy which I saw online (maybe this one?) in which he discussed the increasing scale of his installations and the enormous budgets he is able to command for their production. To paraphrase, he argues that if you really want to critique Hollywood and Disney, you need to work at their level. I’m wondering if Gilligan bit off a little more than she could chew with this piece, if the ideas she wanted to get at might have required a bigger budget to execute well. I was left feeling that work failed to establish a strong sense of critical distance from the medium it emulated. A fairly interesting (and compelling) narrative it was, a thought provoking and artistic exercise? I'm not so sure.

While the similarities between the two exhibitions are really fairly few - both are video installations, both deal with a prevailing sense of impending catastrophe present within contemporary society, and both seem to be more inspired by televisual language and devices than those of the cinema or video art - it is interesting that two galleries located in such close proximity should have concurrent shows exploring this terrain in this medium. If art is indeed a mirror to the world, then looking at these pieces you might think we are living in bleak and frighten(ing? ed?) times. Let's take the cue from Jennet Thomas and laugh at how ridiculously over the top all the doom, gloom and worry really can be.

Janek Schaefer, Recorded Delivery

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Janek Schaffer Recorded Delivery (7" Edit)
1995
12 minutes

Janek Schaefer's Recorded Delivery was created by packaging up a voice-activated dictaphone and posting it to the exhibition space. The resulting piece is predominantly comprised of the incidental clatters, rustles and bangs of a parcel passing through the postal system, interspersed with snippets of music and conversation, plus some quite blue language and bawdy backroom banter from some postal workers. This is an edit of the original 72 minute recording of the parcel's 15 hour journey.

London Literature Festival, Southbank Centre, London

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Taking place across the Southbank Center for four months this summer, The London Literature Festival brings together a broad range of writers, performers, critics and theorists in what promises to be a lengthy and stimulating series of talks, performances and discussions. Speakers this year include Slavoj Žižek, John Cooper Clark and Bret Easton Ellis.

Alongside this is an exhibition entitled Certificates Of Readership by emerging British artist Sara Mackillop in the Saison Poetry Library.

Tickets have just gone on sale here.

Cory Arcangel, Drei Klavierstücke, op. 11 I, II and III, 2009

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Cory Arcangel Drei Klavierstücke, op. 11 I, II and III 2009


In Cory Arcangel's Drei Klavierstücke, op. 11, the artist has remade experimental atonal composer Arnold Schoenberg's piece of the same name (translation: Three Piano Pieces) 100 years after the piece was written out of videos of cats 'playing' pianos that he found on YouTube.


Discussing the piece on his website, he says that the piece was inspired by the increasing similarity of YouTube content to his favourite art videos - stating that the videos there increasingly surpassed those of his favourite artists. He also said that it was "Probably [his] proudest "net" moment ever as it wz featured on Cute Overload."

Be sure to read his page on the piece. He lists the videos used, tells you exactly how he made the piece (even offering the code he wrote for you to use to try something similar) and allows you chance to listen to a specially made comparison piece which plays the cats in the left speaker and the recital by Glenn Gould that he based the piece on in the right.


If you want more on his work, watch this lecture, and be sure to check out his website and YouTube channel.

Ryan Gander, Lisson Gallery, London

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5th May - 5th June 2010
Monday - Friday 9.30am - 6pm Saturday 11am - 5pm

Ryan Gander's first show at the Lisson, and also his first London solo show since the excellent Ikon-curated Heralded As The New Black at the South London Gallery in 2008. Gander's oeuvre is never easily defined and intentionally difficult to pin down. Promising a new body of work constructed around the history of art, film and media, I have high hopes for this show.
If you can't make it, you can view it online here.

David Blandy, Choose Your Character, The ICA, London

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David Blandy Choose Your Character
The ICA
The Mall, London, SW1
May 6th 2010
12 midday - 1 am

David Blandy kicks off David Gryn's Live Weekend at The ICA with Choose Your Character. Extrapolating from some of the recurring themes found in his work, Blandy will celebrate a variety of different fan-behaviours and sub-cultural obsessions that reflect his own passions.

The day will include a Street Fighter IV tournament hosted by fighting game tournament organisers Neo Empire, music from Big Dada/Ninja Tune's Infinite Livez and King Cannibal, turntablists Ben Phaze, DJ Shorty, DJ CutWild, g-man and Priority Deluxe, with record stalls from Ninja Tune, Rough Trade, Soul & Dance Exchange and Flashback, and cosplay.

During the day in the ICA Theatre Artprojx will present films and videos including:

Ashish Avikunthak – Kalighat Fetish
Shoja Azari – Windows
David Blandy - My Philosophy
Brian Catling & Tony Grisoni – Vanished – A Video Séance & The Cutting
Mark Leckey – Cinema-in-the-Round & Shades of Destructors
Lynne Marsh - Plänterwald,
Jo Mitchell – Concerto for Voice & Machinery II
Damon Packard - The Untitled Star Wars Mocumentary
Francesco Stocchi - The only system is a sound system
Matt Stokes – Long After Tonight

Entry is free.

For details of the full series of Live Weekends at The ICA this month click here.

View trailer.

Kid Koala

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A truly mesmerizing bit of turntablism from Kid Koala.

Susan Collis, Since I Fell For You, Ikon, Birmingham

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Enter, us 2009

Susan Collis Since I Fell For You
Ikon Gallery
1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2HS
31st March - 16th May 2010
Tuesday - Sunday 11am-6pm

Susan Collis's Since I Fell For You is her first show in a public gallery and brings together a collection of works spanning from 2002 - 2010. The show occupies one floor of the 3-storey space - one of the Midland's longest-standing and best-respected contemporary art spaces, which has in recent years played host to the likes of Martin Creed, Ryan Gander, John Wood & Paul Harrison, Lisa Milroy and Richard Deacon.

Entering the show uninitiated, the viewer could not be blamed for believing the gallery was still installing - Collis's work appears like the incidental ephemera of exhibition installation and the supports that are usually concealed by the exhibited artwork. This Too Shall Pass is a new work in which the artist has painstakingly recreated a wall from her studio - scratches and scrapes in the paint work, bent nails, Rawlplugs, a missing door and it's paint-stained frame. Upon closer inspection of the pieces (and the exhibition guide) the scratches and scrapes are revealed to be not the products of wear and tear, but an immaculately produced simulacra comprised of precious wood veneers and mother of pearl. The Rawlplugs are precious stones, the screws and nails, white gold or platinum. Enter, Us, above, is made of 18 carat white gold, white sapphire and turquoise.

While signaling the support materials and detritus of a typical exhibition set up on one hand, the work also nods towards a certain Lo-Fi aesthetic prevalent within contemporary art in which pieces of refuse and detritus are carefully selected and imbued with a sculptural quality (think Ian Kiaer, Sara Mackillop or Sean Edwards for example). Created using craft techniques of incredible skill, there is a double-play at work in the laborious creative process set to work to ultimately create an illusion of utter banality to be found throughout the exhibition - what the artist has described as being in a state of 'it is and isn't'. 1

There is a sensual, aesthetic delight in witnessing such cleverly chosen materials so expertly manipulated. Pieces such as Continue Whispering 2010 have the appearance of piles discarded timber (bent nails and all), broken door frames, and bent and misshapen carpet grippers disregarded while screws poke out from under the walls. It's also nice to see an early precursor in the shape of Work On It, 2002 - a sourced and purchased table with imitation stains and smudges akin to those of a painter's table rendered in vinyl upon its surface.

I am, however, left wondering where it all goes. Beyond the surface and the trompe l'oeil, what is there left? It's easy to see why these works have become popular in art collections - a perfect blend of cultural and material capital that's sure to grab the attention of the magpie-eyes of the contemporary art market's elite. Beyond the sheer spectacle of such ornately made objects and attention to detail, there is little left for the mind to work on.

A previous project, SWEAT 2008, at Seventeen Gallery, London, involved a sweatshop-style scenario in which a gallery full of assistants slaved to create Collis's beautifully crafted ink-patterned paper laundry bags (below). Laying bare the production behind the work hints towards a form of critique that I do not find present in the pieces here. Having first seen these pieces at last year's Frieze Art Fair, I am left wondering if they are more than quirky fetish objects to be prized by super-rich art collectors.

On Vacation 2008 (Detail)
Biro inks and pencil on paper

1 Susan Collis, exhibition guide.

Moon Wiring Club, ASDA The Music

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As a follow up to my recent post about The Wire's Salon Series at Cafe Oto, I thought I'd let you know about this fantastic 2-part mix by Moon Wiring Club.

Delving through retrograde electronics and synth sounds seeped in the fuzz and distortion of the ancient TV sets I remember from watching Channel4 Schools programs in primary school, the mix is laden with samples taken from the television of yesteryear, the music reminiscent of theme tunes and jingles of 70s, 80s and 90s prime time.

You can download the mix and some lovely cassette-tape artwork absolutely free from here.

Image from djfood.org/.

Marcel Duchamp's Problem With No Solution

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White to Play and Win

In 1943 gallery owner Julien Levy invited Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell and Yves Tanguy to present a selection of miniature artworks in an exhibition entitled Through The Big End Of The Opera Glass. Asked to each submit an image for inclusion on the exhibition announcement card, Duchamp - a world-class chess player - created the problem shown above, printed backwards with the instruction 'White to Play and Win'. To an even moderately experienced player it seems as though White will surely be able to win (crossing the pawn currently positioned on the B7 square to gain an advantage by promoting to a queen).

Printed on the reverse Duchamp included a hand-drawn image of Cupid, it's arrow pointing to the B file when one follows the written instruction, "Look through from the other side against light," and the images are overlaid with the chess board now right-side round (a black square in the bottom left - below). However, rather than indicating a solution, this merely adds to the image's ambiguity. Attracting much analysis, many experts have concluded that this problem, in fact, has no solution. Exhibiting his trademark mischievous and playful sense of humour, the artist clearly anticipated the hours many chess journalists and even Grandmasters would spend pouring over the quandary to no avail.


As Francis Naumann concludes in the below linked article:
The rigor and intensity of this endgame problem stands in sharp contrast to the means by which Duchamp presents us with a hint of its solution: a cupid aiming his arrow toward the ground (or into the sky, if we consider that the cupid is presented upside-down). Cupid is, of course, the mythological god of love, and his arrow is usually aimed in the direction of an amorous target; a direct hit can cause the recipient to fall deeply and blindly in love. Knowing this, and knowing that when Duchamp designed this brochure he had recently met and fallen in love with Maria Martins— a Brazilian sculptor, married with three children, and in almost every respect, unattainable—one is tempted to speculate that Duchamp might have had a personal situation in mind when he decided that a cupid should indicate the path to follow in pursuing a solution to this vexing problem. Duchamp was well known for having said: “There is no solution, because there is no problem.” In the end, the problem that he faced with Maria Martins was insurmountable, demonstrating that in both chess and life— and perhaps in art as well—there are, indeed, problems without solutions.
Problems which are, never-the-less, compelling, all-consuming and deeply engrossing.

For more on Duchamp the Chess Player I heartily recommend watching the excellent and enthralling Jeu D'Échecs Avec Marcel Duchamp (1963) from UbuWeb's extensive video archive, in which the artist plays the game with avant-garde composer Edgar Varese and discusses his work.

For more on Duchamp's Problem With No Solution click here.

Mark Leckey, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore

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Mark Leckey Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore 1999

Fullscreen version here.

Continuing on a bit of a rave theme, here's another gem from the UbuWeb film archive.

Taking
Elio Fiorucci's iconic Italian fashion label as a point of reference, Leckey's Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore is a video exploring myriad forms of youth culture and fashion emerging and evolving in Britain in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Created through a process of appropriating, manipulating and editing home-video footage, we are treated to a reveler's-eye-view of a progressing procession of discos, dances, raves and their attendees.

Jeremy Deller, Acid Brass

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Jeremy Deller Bless This Acid House
2005

Jeremy Deller's Acid Brass is a project in which the artist initiated the composition, recording and performance of a host of early rave anthems. Arranged by Rodney Newton and performed by The William Fairey Brass Band, the resulting pieces are uncanny, entertaining and undeniably phat.




Posted here are the band's version of The KLF's What Time Is Love? and a diagrammatic illustration detailing the social, historical and cultural links between the 2 seemingly disparate forms of music; tying together elements such as 'Melancholy,' 'The North,' 'Ibiza,' 'Advanced Capitalism' and 'Civil Unrest,' he shows that they are not quite so different as you might at first assume.


Jeremy Deller A History Of The World 1997

Want to know and hear more? Click here.

The Wire Salon Series at Cafe Oto, Dalston, London

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First Thursday of each month 8pm, starting 1st April 2010
Tickets £4 on the door only

Next month sees Cafe Oto begin a series of salon-style events revolving around thinking and talking about music, presented by experimental music magazine The Wire. The series promises readings, discussions, panel debates, film screenings, DJ sets and the occasional live performance.

April 1st : Revenant Forms: The Meaning Of Hauntology

The first event in the series, Mark Fisher (K-punk), Adam Harper (Rouge's Foam) and Joseph Stannard (The Outer Church) will discuss the essence of the spectral, uncanny qualities of much contemporary audio, from dubstep to hypnagogic pop and beyond.

The night will also include screenings of a number of short films by Julian House (Ghost Box, The Focus Group), which feature soundtracks by Broadcast, Belbury Poly and others; a live set by Moon Wiring Club; and eldritch vinyl interludes courtesy of Mordant Music.



May 6th : Sonic warfare: The Politics Of Frequency

For the second event in the series, author Ken Hollings (Welcome To Mars, Destroy All Monsters) and Steve Goodman (Kode9, Hyperdub), author of Sonic Warfare (sample chapters here), discuss the uses and abuses of sound and noise in policing the urban environment, by the military-industrial complex, in the era of the soundclash, and beyond. Plus related films, DJs and other participants TBA.

John Cage, Water Walk

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John Cage
Water Walk
1960

John Cage performs Water Walk on popular American TV Show I've Got A Secret. Exhibiting an unusually light-hearted approach, Cage introduces and plays a composition on a water pitcher, an iron pipe, a goose call, a bottle of wine, an electric mixer, a whistle, a sprinkling can, ice cubes, 2 cymbals, a mechanical fish, a quall call, a rubber duck, a tape recorder, a vase of roses, a seltzer siphon, 5 radios, a bath tube and a grand piano.

Slavoj Žižek on Children Of Men

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Slavoj Žižek gives an enthusiastic review and reading of Alfonso Cuarón's 2006 film Children Of Men.

Crash, Gagosian Gallery, London

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Rachel Whiteread Demolished 1996

Gagosian Gallery
Februaury 11th - April 1st 2010
Tuesday - Saturday 10 am - 6 pm

Gagosian Gallery presents an exhibition of a mixture of relics, influences and works inspired by the dystopian ficiton of J G Ballard, in particular his most famous novel Crash. The novel - made into a film in 1996 by David Cronenberg - is a psycho-sexual tale of car-crash fetishism (Symphorophilia). We are treated here to an all-star line up of artists in an expertly curated exhibition that moves between pieces that by turn inspired Ballard (Dali, early British Pop Art), or reflect his concerns and fascinations - autophilia, crashes, accidents and disasters, high rises and suburban wastelands, destruction, and an often sexually charged mixture of the organic and the mechanical.

Installation view Crash, Gagosian Gallery, foreground: Adam McEwan Honda Teen Facial 2010

Upon entering the gallery we encounter the disembodied undercarriage of a Boeing 747 - Adam McEwan's Honda Teen Facial (2010 above). The piece resonates with a sense of disaster and sets the tone for the exhibition. The rooms are arranged thematically, begining with a selection of surrealist works that inspired Ballard to find a "fiction for the present day"1, works that traverse similar territory to his writing in the main galleries and a 3rd gallery of works inspired by or made in honour of the writer. Against the somber grey walls of the 3rd gallery, Rachel Whitereed's Demolished (1996 above) stands out, activated and invigorated by the context.

Jane and Louise Wilson's Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard (2000), a 4 screen video projection, depicts shots of the abandoned sites of the former USSR's space program - a depopulated mixture of desolate wilderness and awesome technological construction. The bassy rumble of the soundtrack permeates the entire exhibition intermittently.

The list of artists included (below) is an undeniably impressive one and the pieces selected are all fine examples of their work, arranged in a structure that creates a looming and prolonged discord. Locked within the visual language of a show loaded with associations, the works function to create a fractured, rhizomatic network of signs, informing one another in counterpoints and harmonies in order to extract the dark, foreboding, and perverse terrors of Ballard's vision of society. The powerful sense of narrative allows the work to operate in interesting new ways, generating new readings of familiar practices. Damien Hirst's arrangements of surgical implements, Jenny Saville's grand-scaled, expertly daubed images of mutilation (below), and Roger Hiorns' crystaline BMW engines are cases in point. Paul McCarthy's Mechanical Pig (2003 - 2005) was perhaps the most striking example of a piece to under go this transformation for me; it's combination of the mechanical and organic, the maternal and the monstrous, with it's working parts laid bare, is so perfectly situated within this context, it's almost as though it were created with this exhibition in mind. Jeremy Deller's Another Country (The Mall London 3/9/97) 1997 was one of the more surprising inclusions in the show. A collection of photographs of floral tributes and a poem to Diana, Princess of Wales, taken in the aftermath of her death in 1997, it was a somber and poetic record of a moment in the collective consciousness, that abounds with associations of an underlying widespread public fascination with death.

Jenny Saville Witness 2009

One of the best contemporary art shows I've seen in London this year, Crash is at Gagosian, Britannia Street, until April 1st. The full list of artists included is as follows:

Richard Artschwager, Francis Bacon, JG Ballard, Hans Bellmer, Glenn Brown, Chris Burden, Jake & Dinos Chapman, John Currin, Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Paul Delvaux, Cyprien Gaillard, Douglas Gordon, Loris Gréaud, Richard Hamilton, John Hilliard and Jemima Stehli, Roger Hiorns, Damien Hirst, Dan Holdsworth, Carsten Höller, Edward Hopper, Allen Jones, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Vera Lutter, Florian Maier-Aichen, Paul McCarthy, Adam McEwen, Dan Mitchell, Malcolm Morley, Mike Nelson, Helmut Newton, Cady Noland, Claes Oldenburg, Eduardo Paolozzi, Steven Parrino, Richard Prince, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, George Shaw, Cindy Sherman, Piotr Uklański, Andy Warhol, Rachel Whiteread, Christopher Williams, Jane and Louise Wilson, Christopher Wool and Cerith Wyn Evans.

Images here.

1. http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/2010-02-11_crash/

Armando Iannucci Talk, Tate Modern, 17th October 2006

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Sorry, your browser doesn't support the embedding of multimedia.Armando Iannucci at Tate Modern
17th October 2006
1 hr 23 mins

Comedian Armando Iannucci talks about the roles and positions that comedy plays in the media today. Insisting that it is not the job of comedians 'to talk about what you can and cannot say and do because, thankfully, by definition [they] are irresponsible', he discusses when it is deemed appropriate to make jokes about serious issues, and the relative failings of our broadcasters to adequately explore them through other means.

There's a few clips he refers to during the lecture - it was a little frustrating not being to see them, so I've done my best to find them for you:


Francis Alÿs

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Railings Francis Alÿs
2005
7 minutes

I'm already getting excited about the Francis Alÿs exhibition at Tate Modern this summer. Here are 3 video works by him.

Sitting somewhere being poetic, allegorical and occasionally absurd, Alÿs' ephemeral actions often have the feeling of an old tale recounted - 'The man who pushed an ice block through the streets of Mexico City', 'the man who moved a sand dune' (both below) - and often grow out of stories recalled by the artist or incidental happenings in his day-to-day life. With a strong participatory element, the works have a socially-engaged, politicised quality, while avoiding any explicit political message. Though largely comprising of actions and their documentation, his practice also includes drawing, animation and painting.

When Faith Moves Mountains Francis Alÿs
2002
7 minutes
Fullscreen version from UbuWeb


Algunas Veces El Hacer Algo No Lleva A Nada
(Sometimes Making Something Leads To Nothing)

Francis Alÿs
1997
5 minutes

Chritian Marclay & Others Live In London This Weekend

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Saturday 6th March 8pm
Tickets £8 adv/£10 otd

Following last week's post, I have just read that Christian Marclay will be playing live as part of Steve Beresford's 60th birthday celebrations at Dalston's Cafe Oto this weekend.

The line up will feature the following:
Christian Marclay on turntables, Veryan Weston and Tania Chen on pianos, Lol Coxhill and John Butcher on saxophones, Satoko Fukuda on violin, Ute Kanngiesser on cello, Guillaume Viltard on contra bass and Steve Beresford on piano and electronics.

Expect an atonal celebration of all things free and improvisational.

Slavoj Žižek, Maybe We Just Need a Different Chicken

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Slavoj Žižek Maybe We Just Need a Different Chicken

2008

My second Žižek post is a talk that was meant to be about his book, Violence, delivered in Portland, Oregon in 2008. Instead Žižek talks, in his usual wandering style, about politeness and censorship and their function in ideology today. In his inimitable style, he extrapolates metaphors from a joke about a psychiatric patient who believes he is a piece of grain, terrified of being eaten by the chicken of the title. Žižek discusses how ideology manifests itself in the media and politics today, while covering cinematic references that span from Batman to Hitchcock's Vertigo to Kung Fu Panda.

Christian Marclay

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A mini documentary, a video work and some links to performance documents by Christian Marclay.

Marclay emerged from 1980s New York's experimental music and performance scene. Developing turntablism in parallel with, but entirely separate from, Hiphop artists such as Grandmaster Flash, Marclay's approach is abstract and more inspired by experimental and avant-garde music than soul and funk breaks. Preoccupied with the cracks, pops and skips as much as the recordings on his records, he puts his records and turntables through some unbelievable abuse. Perhaps none quite so severe as in this piece though.

Here's another relic from the UbuWeb archive,

This video features a 15 minute performance on 3 turntables and a range of samplers, and interview in which Marclay discusses a number of his most famous pieces including Record Without A Cover and Guitar Drag (below). The presenter is a little bizarre, but Marclay explains his thoughts on his work and methods eloquently.






Guitar Drag 2000
14 minutes

This video, an audio and visual document in which Marclay ties an amplified guitar to the back of a truck before driving around the town of San Antonio, Texas, is rich with cultural references; Fluxus performance, incidental music, rock'n'roll stage-trashing and road movies are all apparent. More specifically it addresses the racially-aggravated murder of James Byrd Jr. who was dragged to his death behind a pickup-truck in 1998.

If you're left wanting more, there's another performance from 1989 here.


Bas Jan Ader

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Bas Jan Ader
Fall 1 (Los Angeles 1970), Fall II (Amsterdam 1970), I'm Too Sad To Tell You (1971), Broken Fall (Geometric) [West Kapelle - Holland], Broken Fall (Organic) [Amsterdamse Bos - Holland], Nightfall
1970 - 71
B & W 11 minutes
Fullscreen version available here.
My second post from the UbuWeb archive is a selection of works by the Dutch/Californian conceptualist Bas Jan Ader. Quoting from his website, UbuWeb recounts this fascinating biography:
"Dutch/Californian artist Bas Jan Ader was last seen in 1975 when he took off in what would have been the smallest sailboat ever to cross the Atlantic. He left behind a small oeuvre, often using gravity as a medium, which more than 30 years after his disappearance at sea is more influential than ever before.

Bas Jan Ader was born to idealistic ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church on April 19, 1942. His father was executed by the Nazis for harboring Jewish refugees when Ader was only two years old. A rebellious student, he failed art school at the Rietveld Academy, where friend Ger van Elk recalls that he would use a single piece of paper for the entire semester, erasing his drawings as soon as they were finished. At the age of 19 he hitchhiked to Morocco, where he signed on as a deckhand on a yacht heading for America.

The yacht shipwrecked off the coast of California, and Ader stayed in Los Angeles where he enrolled at Otis Art Institute. There he met Mary Sue Andersen, the daughter of the director of the school. They married in Las Vegas, where he used a set of crutches to symbolically prop himself up during the ceremony. Ader then taught art and studied philosophy at Claremont Graduate School. In 1970 he entered the most productive period of his career, beginning with his first fall film, which showed him seated on a chair, tumbling from the roof of his two-story house in the Inland Empire.

In 1975 Ader embarked on what he called "a very long sailing trip." The voyage was to be the middle part of a triptych called "In Search of the Miraculous," a daring attempt to cross the Atlantic in a 12 foot sailboat. He claimed it would take him 60 days to make the trip, or 90 if he chose not to use the sail. Six months after his departure, his boat was found, half-submerged off the coast of Ireland, but Bas Jan had vanished."

The Library Of Babel/In And Out Of Place, 176 Zabludowicz Collection, London

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The Library Of Babel/In And Out Of Place
176 Zabludowicz Collection
176 Prince of Wales Road, London, Nw5 3PT
25.02.10 - 09.05.10
Thursday - Sunday 12 am - 6 pm, and by appointment.
Preview Thursday 25th February 2010 7 - 9 pm

A new show at North London's 176, curated by Anna-Catharina Gebbers as part of her year-long residency with the Zabludowicz Collection. Promising a salon-style hanging, the curator-in-residence has selected over 200 works works from the collection for inclusion in this exhibition.

The title The Library Of Babel comes from a 1941 short story by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. In the story inhabitants of an infinite library search for the absolute interpretation of the information around them. The website explains:
"The Library of Babel/In and Out of Place encourages the visitor to embark on a similar quest for meaning... Seemingly incongruous works belie carefully disguised threads of meaning waiting to be uncovered and interpreted."
The exhibition promises an extensive public programme featuring invited professionals and visitors acting as guides conducting tours for the public, as well as an accompanying series of lectures and discussions with scientists and theorists from backgrounds including neurology, psychology, sociology, philosophy, linguistics and literature, alongside an illustrated publication with specially commissioned texts.

For a full and extensive list of included artists click here.

Personal favourites include:
John Bock, Spartacus Chetwynd, Larry Clark, Ryan Gander, Brian Griffiths, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Graham Hudson, Juneau Projects, Jim Lambie, Louise Lawler, Mike Nelson, Nam June Paik, Paul Pfeiffer, Richard Prince, R.H. Quaytman, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman, Keith Tyson and Banks Violette.

Amanda Beech, Sanity Assassin, Spike Island, Bristol

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Amanda Beech Sanity Assassin, 2009, installation views.
Photos: Stuart Bunce, courtesy of Spike Island.

Amanda Beech Sanity Assassin
Spike Island
133 Cumberland Road, Bristol, BS1 6UX
23.01.10 - 11.04.10
Tuesday - Sunday, Screenings every 20 minutes, 11 am - 5 pm

Sanity Assassin is an installation in 2 parts with an accompanying publication, produced by British artist Amanda Beech during Spike Island's 2009 main production residency. Beech's practice often grows out of research visits to sites in which exercises of power and law are manifested in architecture and manipulations of social space; Sites such as Los Angeles - the source for this piece - and Harlow New Town, which features in Statecraft, one of a number of earlier works on show alongside the new project.

The audience are encouraged to enter the first room at 20 minute intervals in order to take in a dazzling sculptural installation, followed by a intense and enthralling 3-screen video installation.

The sculptural element (photographed above) is an immaculately presented set of bright yellow chain-saws, at first glance all identical, yet on closer inspection all subtly different models. Arranged atop a mirrored plinth and lit from above with floodlights, the piece is a spectacular piece of 'pure display' 1. It is an explicit comment on commodity fetishism, with a substrate of suppressed violence and a nod towards horror movie cliches. Apparently based on the corporate lobby of a real Los Angeles showroom, it sets an ominous tone for the coming video work.

After a few minutes in this space the lights drop and we are compelled by sound emanating from the adjoining room to move on to the second part - a multi-channel video installation projected across 3 large screens positioned at differing heights and awkward angles. Beginning with a CGI rainstorm reminiscent of a classic film noir device of mood-setting, the installation is permeated with an atmosphere of imminent violence.

The new video work is an abrasively composed edit of scenes of LA, pithy statements and digitally manipulated photographic elements, cut to a throbbing soundtrack of electronic noise; the buzz-saw pulses reminiscent of the installation we have just left behind. The vision of LA - portrayed through shots of a mixture of public and private spaces, by day and night, which bounce and repeat through an array of filters, effects and physical rotations across the screens - is a nightmarish, Lynchean one. Spliced in in a style that brings to mind both MTV and political sloganeering, are texts collaged together from a mixture of appropriated and original narratives - sources range from an interview with LA photographer Julius Shulman, a reworking of émigré German philosopher Theodor Adorno's Dream Notes, pulp literature, FBI files and song lyrics. For some reason I can't help but think of Brett Easton Ellis' dystopian visions of America throughout.

Sanity Assassin is divided into two distinct halves, each exploring the philosophy of a character of Beech's creation - Arnold Rottweiler and Artemis Star. Rottweiler's dialogue explores culture's alienation of nature and ideas of self-enforced seclusion, Starr's echoes with New World Order paranoia. In both we see beliefs that descended into psychosis, leading to suicidal despair and physical violence. The experience is submersive, dizzying and terrifying.

The accompanying screening and reading area serves as an introduction to Beech's highly idiosyncratic, polemical style, and penchant for aggressively electronic sound-tracking. Sparking myriad associations that coalesce around questions of the relationships between culture, politics and public space, and the rhetoric employed to espouse them, the works are exciting in tone and reinforced with deeply thought-provoking subject mater.

1. Spike Island exhibition guide.


Dan Graham, Performer/Audience/Mirror

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Dan Graham Performer/Audience/Mirror
1975
B & W, 23 minutes
From UbuWeb.
For full screen version click here.

UbuWeb is a vast non-commercial online resource of avant-garde material. They have one of the largest archives of sound and video works on the web, all available to view without charge or registration. I will be posting personal favourites from the archive over the coming weeks and months.

This first posting is an unfortunately incomplete video document of a Dan Graham performance from 1975.

Text from UbuWeb:
"This work is a phenomenological inquiry into the audience/performer relationship and the notion of subjectivity/objectivity. Graham stands in front of a mirrored wall facing a seated audience; he describes the audience's movements and what they signify. He then turns and describes himself and the audience in the mirror. Graham writes: "Through the use of the mirror the audience is able to instantaneously perceive itself as a public mass (as a unity), offsetting its definition by the performer ('s discourse). The audience sees itself reflected by the mirror instantly while the performer's comments are slightly delayed. First, a person in the audience sees himself 'objectively' ('subjectively') perceived by himself, next he hears himself described 'objectively' ('subjectively') in terms of the performer's perception.""

 
Copyright 2010 ///////Postproduced