Christian Marclay


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


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

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

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


Dan Graham Performer/Audience/Mirror
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.""

John Baldessari, The Pencil Story

John Baldessari The Pencil Story
Two B-Type prints on board with coloured pencil

Florian Hecker, Chisenhale Gallery, London

Florian Hecker
Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road, London, E3 5QZ
11.02.10 - 28.03.10
Preview Thursday 11 February 2010 6.30 – 8.30pm
Wednesday to Sunday 1 – 6pm
Thursday 4th March until 9pm

Musician and sound artist Florian Hecker presents a new installation at one of London's best established and most consistently interesting contemporary art spaces, East London's Chisenhale Gallery. The public gallery undertakes 5 shows each year, each an ambitious newly commissioned solo project by an emerging international artist.

Hecker's installation at Chisenhale comprises of 4 separate works, displayed in a sequence which guides the viewer (listener?) around a sparsely empty gallery space, ornamented with slick, black, ceiling-mounted speakers. The collection of works utilise immaculately produced electronic noises to lead us aurally and physically through a shifting landscape of auditory experiences; At turns disorienting, intriguing and captivating, the largely multi-channel works give us an awareness of the physical contingencies involved in the process of listening, and invite us to explore modes of interacting with what we hear.

The most visually striking work is an untitled new piece featuring a single speaker pointing concentrated bursts of sound at a ceramic-tiled section of the gallery wall. Beautifully lit, the speaker casts a symmetrical shadow across the minimal white-on-white of the tiles on the wall, while the sound oscillates and reflects back to the on-looking viewer.

The pieces are durational works that, through a variety of approaches - sounds generated through the audience's movements, exercises in three-channel panning that alternate between clockwise and anti-clockwise rotations and works spread between speakers placed a gallery's width apart - form a continuation of the artist's exploration of sound in relation to the body and space.

Hecker's list of collaborators includes Carsten Holler, Cerith Wyn Evans and Aphex Twin. This exhibition of 4 new sound installations is definitely not to be missed.

Read more here.

Rachel Reupke, 10 Seconds or Greater, Picture This, Bristol


Rachel Reupke, 10 Seconds or Greater
Picture This
Corner of Sydney Row & Mardyke Ferry Rd, Spike Island, Bristol BS1 6UU
23.01.10 – 06.03.10
Thursday to Saturday 12 - 5.30pm

10 Seconds Or Greater, is a new video work by British artist Rachel Reupke. Her multidisciplinary practice employs video, text and sculpture to examine ideas of taste, status and social position as defined and expressed in the mainstream media.

Produced as part of Picture This' residency program, the video is made using a group of actors to construct scenes reproduced from royalty-free stock footage; Formally a composite of unrelated scenes, that are here tied together by the uniformity created through the film's limited cast and small set, it is a fascinating and novel take on the process of creative appropriation. The title suggests the arbitrary kind of search term one might use when browsing through the bank of sources utilised in the creation of these shots.

Set to a score that alternates between long draughts of silence and a specially written R&B soundtrack, the video presents a group of attractive young adults carrying out scenes of domesticity and sociability, channeled through interaction with a range of products. The tracts of silence create a situation in which our voyeuristic position gives us the sense having of an objective eye into this situation. The real effect is in fact far from objective. Inevitably when faced with a world that we do not take part in (nor want to take part in), we adopt a critical stance and begin passing judgement and examining opinion.

Reupke is an artist who 'engages in the artisanal production of the generic.' 1 The look and feel of the setting of this film - the kind of pristine interior we can imagine existing in a suburban new-build, punctuated with functional objects displayed with a designer's precision - is an exercise in blandness that appears like an advertisement stripped of its logos and slogans. Intentionally reminiscent of the language of the corporate promo, everything is utterly devoid of human touch and believable personality, everything contrived and paired down to portrayal of a kind of self-satisfied success that induces a cringing distrust bordering on disgust.

Through the formal act of gathering these unconnected scenes into a lingering gaze, Reupke creates an opportunity for us to reflect upon the kind of the world promoted in the ideology of consumer capitalism. Scenes of social interaction, the hand-shakes re-shot again and again, endless introductions and unheard conversations, are played out repeatedly by a succession of recombinations of the 5 or 6 characters. Lingering product shots, the occasional, unnerving, long look or smile into the camera, and the underlying banality of stylised acts such as food preparation and the use of communications technology, point us towards the language of aspirational lifestyle marketing. The scenes take on a hyper-reality that sits at an awkward intersection of the idealised and the vacuous - a misplaced or misguided ideal of aspiration and self-actualisation.

1 Marina Vishmidt, Reverting To Type (accompanying essay)

A clip from the new video can be seen here.

Žižek! 2005, Directed By Astra Taylor


Žižek! 2005
Directed by Astra Taylor
1 hr 09 mins

This film, the first of a number of Žižek videos I intend to post over the coming weeks, is a documentary in which filmmaker Astra Taylor joins the Slovenian writer, philosopher, sociologist and theorist on various packed (literally to the rafters) speaking engagements around Europe, the USA and South America, and at his home in Ljubljana. Set to a specially written score by A Hawk And A Hacksaw's Jeremy Barnes, it serves as an excellent introduction to his all-encompassing thought, rigorous approach to analysis and enthralling manner of speaking.

A charsimatic and compelling individual, Slazoj Žižek examines society through discussing the complexities of phenomena including ideology, politics, and Hollywood cinema through the lens of Lacanian analysis. In this film he shares views on amoungst other things, 'the post-ideological era', Utopia, catastrophe, his audience, and vegetarians ('degenerates, they will turn into monkeys').

Michael Rakowitz, The Worst Condition Is To Pass Under A Sword Which Is Not One's Own, Tate Modern, London


Michael Rakowitz The Worst Condition Is To Pass Under A Sword Which Is Not One's Own
Level 2 Gallery, Tate Modern
53 Bankside, London, SE1 9TG
22.01.10 - 03.05.10
Sunday - Thursday 10am - 6pm, Friday & Saturday 10am - 10pm

Michael Rakowitz's The Worst Condition Is To Pass Under A Sword Which Is Not One's Own coalesces around a series of bizarre and uncanny crossovers in American popular culture and Iraqi military history from the 1980s to the end of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. The stories, told through a series of drawings, texts, artifacts, found objects and sculptures, reveal unexpected links between the Hussein family's interest in George Lucas's Star Wars franchise, American Politics of the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, the fantasy and history found in Jules Verne's adventure stories, physicist Gerald Bull's dream of building the world's largest gun, and the career of an Iraqi former WWF wrestler.

At times the stories seem simply too good to be true - the tale of a 15-year-old Uday Hussein's fascination with Star Wars, and subsequent design for his father's army's new uniform, complete with Darth Vader-inspired ski mask and helmet, would be unbelievable were it not for the collection of helmets that the artist has acquired on display in the nearby case.

The sculptures and framed works are executed with a handmade quality that adds an aesthetic delight to a narrative that is largely told through a straight-forward written prose. The pencil drawings that accompany these episodes have an illustrative quality that suggests appropriation, but we are left to wonder. Found and acquired objects, such as copies of magazines ranging from Wrestling editions to Time, toys, books, articles relating to those found in Saddam's palaces, soldiers' photographs and a video clip from YouTube are selected with curatorial precision, and serve as some kind of 'proof' for the far-fetched story the artist is telling us.

The exhibition is one of the best contemporary art shows I've seen at Tate in a long time. The Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde exhibition is well worth seeing while you're there, as is Miroslaw Balka's How It Is in the Turbine Hall, if you haven't seen that yet.

Oliver Laric, Versions, Seventeen Gallery, London


Oliver Laric Versions
Seventeen Gallery
17 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8AA
13.01.10 – 13.02.10

Wednesday to Saturday 11am - 6pm

Seventeen Gallery presents a solo show and curated exhibition by artist and contributor, Oliver Laric, featuring a 4 screen video installation of four versions of his film, Versions, and a series of individually made, moulded polyurethane sculptures, also entitled Versions.

The show explores the circulation, manipulation, and interpretation of images and their ideological functions, historically and in the contemporary digital-information age. Laric describes his practice in the version of Versions featuring his voice-over, as being a process of ‘cropping,’ and talks about his delight in embracing the abundance and endless variation that can be accessed via digital media.

Laric’s curated show Real Talk sits alongside this exhibition in Seventeen’s basement space; A show of 4 video-based works by Seth Price, Aleksandra Domanovic, Marjolijn Dijkman and Samuel Beckett. Bringing together a mixture of influences, peers and artists who explore similar territory to that traversed in Laric’s work, the show offers a satisfying extension to both the processes and the themes found in the work upstairs.

If you can’t make it to the gallery 3 of the versions of Versions on show can be seen here.
Copyright 2010 ///////Postproduced