This morning i went to the press view of Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union at the Saatchi Gallery and I’m not sure that the artists participating to the exhibition heartily agree with Joseph Stalin’s statement. Although this survey of contemporary art in Russia contains humour, balls and a few satisfyingly good pieces, the show is not exactly cheerful.
Take the gentlemen portrayed by Sergei Vasiliev. Their skin is their biopic, their tattoos carrying political messages and details about their criminal life. The motifs were drawn using whichever tools and ink they could get their hands on: melted books, urine, blood, etc.
Today in the radio show Neal White from The Office of Experiments will be talking declassified materials, underground bunker housing alternative Cabinet War rooms, cold war archive footage, Atomic Weapons Establishment, sites used by the UK Nuclear peace protestors, etc. I’d tune in if i were you
Time to close these reports about the Frieze Art Fair with plenty of images and almost no text because sometimes that’s all i feel like producing
Biro portraits of ‘Criminal Women’, live crime drama installation and gruesome collection of front pages of PM, the local tabloid in Ciudad Juárez, a city sadly renowned for the violence perpetrated by the drug cartels
Between 1966 and the turn of the 1980s, APG negotiated approximately fifteen placements for artists lasting from a few weeks to several years; first within industries (often large corporations such as British Steel and ICI) and later within UK government departments such as the Department of Health and the Scottish Office
The Frieze art fair dismantled its tents a few days ago at Regent’s Park in London. Over the next few days, i will submit the blog to an avalanche of images and works from the fair. Let’s start light and very fast with a few art pieces that demonstrate that even artists shown at art fairs have a sense of humour
Some artists comment on real estate, some real estate developers are interested in art but i doubt that many people can be both artists and real estate developers. Actually i only know of one: Theaster Gates. He is an urban planner, a visual artist, a musician, a curator and an activist
The exhibition includes several hundred pieces of previously unseen material from private archives and collections: homemade cassettes, fanzines, posters, handbills, records and clothing. Highlights include work by Gee Vaucher, Jamie Reid, Gary Panter, Raymond Pettibon, John Holmstrom and Penny Rimbaud, alongside numerous anonymous artists
A quick post about The Art of Chess, an exhibition of 16 chess sets designed by some of the biggest names in contemporary art. Hirst has a medicine cabinet, Tracey Emin a chess set that looks slightly unhygienic, Paul McCarthy adds ketchup, Yayoi Kusama goes for dots, and the Chapman brothers do it dark and provocative. Most of the artists are playing their usual tricks, then. But somehow i didn’t mind because many of the works are spectacular
For people working at the Yuri Gagarin Training Centre, a military complex where all cosmonauts have been trained since the 1960s, Gagarin remains a hero while space is the only reality they know, almost blending with the surreal machines they work with, they seem to be trapped in a window of time. In the shadow of faded dreams, thus sheds the light on a close-knit community of space-lovers, still clinging to the decaying legacy of the 1960s Space dream
The works exhibited by the 9 participating artists are extremely strong. As much as i admire Ai Weiwei and his opinion of the show, i do believe that artists can create meaningful, valid works even if they are not openly criticizing their country’s politics. Besides, some of the works exhibited did comment on political issues such as censorship and international relationships. Ai Weiwei is probably right though when he writes that “The Chinese art world does not exist.” At least probably not in a uniformed, self-conscious fashion
I must have been pretty desperate for distraction the day i went to see Island Stories: Fifty Years of Photography in Britain at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This Summer now seems like it was a long, relentless photo exhibition dedicated to London, England and/or Great Britain. I thought that even an anglophile like me wouldn’t stomach yet another exhibition celebrating the joys and wonder of the country. But Island Stories: Fifty Years of Photography in Britain is such a gem of a little show, i’m on my way to see it for the second time
The show is no postcard pictures party. It is less about the parks and monuments than it is about the Londoners. The photographs selected in the exhibition depict the social history of the city in black and white. I guess i’ll never cease to be amazed by the photos of Shoreditch before the hipsters and by the sartorial audacity of Londoners (though i can’t imagine anyone nowadays loitering around town with ‘Destroy London” written on the back of their leather jacket)
I haven’t been consistently overjoyed with what the Olympics brought to London in terms of public art. However, i can’t fault Frieze Projects East’s six commissions for the Olympic Host Boroughs in East London. The works commissioned are accessible without being condescending. And they probably have enough bite and wit to fulfill their mission to connect with the communities in East London
The exhibition page of The Bruce Lacey Experience show at Camden Arts Center filled me with embarrassment. There i was visiting a show dedicated to “one of Britain’s great visionary artists.” Lacey has been making art for approx 65 years, he participated to Cybernetic Serendipity (the now legendary exhibition of computer art which opened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1968), worked with Peter Sellers, he had a show with The Alberts called ‘An Evening of British Rubbish’, etc. Yet, i couldn’t remember having heard of him before
Foto8 is my go-to gallery for documentary and photojournalism. Whatever they have up, i go and see it. Right now, the gallery is presenting the 159 photo works selected for its fifth annual Summershow. There are portraits of homeless people, of Palestinian girls dreaming of peace, documentation of the Libyan civil war, stories from some of the coldest parts of the globe, disorder in the streets of London. Mundane moments and dramas
The nine eyes are the cameras mounted on the pole on top of each vehicle that Google sent around the world 5 years ago. The technology of Google Street View has sparkled moments of deep humiliation, interest from the press photography community, privacy concerns and brilliant artistic reactions.
Jon Rafman was one of the first artists who spent hours looking at the images collected by the cars and searching not just for the amusing, the ridiculous and the fortuitous but for postcard perfect moments. And does he have an eye for stunning images…
Glasses, lipstick, false teeth, the contraceptive pill and even your mobile phone – we take for granted how commonplace human enhancements are. Current scientific developments point to a future where cognitive enhancers and medical nanorobots will be widespread as we seek to augment our beauty, intelligence and health.
Superhuman takes a broad and playful look at our obsession with being the best we can be. Items on display range from an ancient Egyptian prosthetic toe to a packet of Viagra, alongside contributions from artists such as Matthew Barney and scientists, ethicists and commentators working at the cutting edge of this most exciting, and feared, area of modern science
The London Festival of Photography is one of my favourite events in town. The theme this year was as broad as it can get: Inside Out: Reflections on the Public and the Private. I’ve seen a magic lantern performance, archive photos of Libya before and during Gaddafi’s regime, documents from Apartheid era South Africa, a photo film of the world’s biggest festival for dog lovers
For some obscure reason i haven’t been able to locate the wikipedia entry about Haus-Rucker-Co. but if you’re curious about their work, there is a lot to (re)discover at the retrospective of the Viennese group currently hosted by WORK Gallery, near Kings Cross: inflatables capsules for two, parasitic structures, breathing devices, utopian ideas, helmets and pneumatic prostheses. It’s critique of architecture and architecture as critique at its best
An empty plinth cursed by a professional witch, a Playboy Centrefold erased over the course of one week till no trace is left of the glamour girl, evidence of a movie that was shot without film in the camera, a canvas of invisible ink, a diary written using water. Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957 – 2012 deals almost exclusively with immateriality and emptiness. Yet, it is one of the most turbulent, humorous and captivating exhibition i’ve seen this year.
Invisible is historical, yet contemporary. It tells wonderful stories, seems to be acutely conscious of its own apparent absurdity and more importantly, it leaves so much up to the visitor’s imagination
Sadie Hennessy – Strange Hungers delves into the mysterious workings of desire, and the insistent lusts and yearnings of the sexual appetite.
Hennessy’s prints, collages using vintage housewives magazines, sculptures that adorn mundane object with sexual innuendos are relentlessly campy and witty
For some reason, London’s festival of photography is probably not getting all the attention it deserves. Hence this first hasty story to try and convince you to flock in droves to some of its exhibitions before they close. If i had to recommend just one venue it would be the Fitzrovia Community Centre. All the artists exhibited in the show are new to me and their work is of the ‘documentary and heavy in urgent-social-issues’ genre, just my kind of photo show!
Today i’m talking to Tom Keene, an artist whose work investigates technological objects and attempts to understand their agency and how they act as mechanisms of control within contemporary society. Our conversation will focus on topics such as the social impact of the Viterbi algorithm (with a previous explanation on what the algorithm does exactly) and wireless infrastructures, the loss of public space in cities, in particular in London and in the area surrounding the Olympic sites.
If you peruse the Wide Open School class catalogue, you will encounter a remarkable diversity of topics and approaches to learning. It includes material that is under the radar of mainstream culture – things that are overlooked or neglected for one reason or another. It also features classes that involve looking at familiar subjects in a new light
object to paying £7.50 to see and exhibition which title starts with the name of a brand. I feel cheated when the show closes with a shop selling goods manufactured by the above-mentioned brand and i don’t look kindly to being forbidden to take pictures (which i do purely for documenting reason) because that would mean that i won’t shell more ££ to buy the booklet of the exhibition. That said, the photos selected and exhibited are so remarkable that i still feel like recommending that you go and see the World Photography Awards if you’re in London
In Prager’s part film noir, part fashion shoot work, heroines wear impeccable make-up, pose as if they were in a Hitchcock movie, breathe through an atmosphere worthy of David Lynch, and are submitted to ordeals inspired by the images of crime photographers Weegee and Enrique Metinides. The stories might take place in Hollywood-like settings but they promise to never end on a happy note
You might never have heard of Abkhazia and that’s probably because only a handful of countries regard it as an independent state.
Abkhazia broke away from Georgia after a short, violent civil war in ’92-’93 and only Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and the atoll of Nauru recognised it as independent state in 2008.
The artists spent four years witnessing and documenting the country’s attempts to repopulate with new immigrants a country that is ravaged by the war, almost empty and in great economic distress
Brains: The Mind as Matter has a seemingly very specific, very narrow focus: the brain and not even the mind, just the physical organ. Yet, the exhibition branches out into issues of ethics, history, and reminds us that while some of the moments in the history of neuroscience are glorious, others are downright disgraceful
The collaboration between artist Ania Dabrowska and social scientist Dr Bronwyn Parry gives a visibility to the medical research on dementia. The photos demystifies what happens behind the doors of brain bank laboratories, and in so doing actively seeks to rehabilitate, even celebrate, the practice of bodily donation in the public imagination
Jeremy Deller does art outside galleries. It thrives in ‘low culture’ and it is usually ambitious, socially-engaged and unexpected. Indeed, most of his career is built on looking for art in the most unpredictable places, working with the public or with people who have particular knowledge or skill but who wouldn’t otherwise be associated with the contemporary art world. They include unemployed miners, brass bands, a campaign banner maker, fans of Depeche Mode, a glam rock wrestler, experts in re-enactments, etc. He even collaborated on an art project with nightclub owner and trendsetter Peter Stringfellow
It might appear that London doesn’t spare much thought for art & technology. The capital doesn’t host any institution specifically dedicated to art & technology, like FACT in Liverpool. Nor does it have a media art festival with an international reputation such as FutureEverything in Manchester, or the AV Festival in the North East of England.
But look closer, and you’ll realize that there’s no reason to despair…
Reading the mini catalogue of the show i realize that during my visit i missed ‘the artist’s hoard of personal toenail clippings’. I’m glad i did. But i did smile when i saw the big LOOK AT THIS sign on the terrace, the corpse of a rat left on the floor that you might never see if you don’t happen to look down, the taxidermy dog standing on its rear legs to brandish a message that confirms that its is indeed dead, the row of boots that seem to come straight out of a cartoon, the carelessly sketched silhouettes, etc.
Hexen 2.0 charts the coming together of diverse physical and social sciences in the framework of post-WWII US governmental and military imperatives. The art works represent Suzanne Treister’s research into the development of cybernetics, the history of the Internet, the rise of Web 2.0, mass intelligence gathering and the interconnected histories of the counterculture. Through her work she explores the implications of new systems of societal manipulation and the development of a ‘control society’ alongside historical and current responses to advances in technology
You’ve got until the end of the month to ‘run don’t walk’ and see 10 x 10, a fascinating video screened at the new Carroll/Fletcher gallery just off Oxford Circus.
The camera of 10 x10 slowly scrolls down 100-storey building, going from one floor to the one below, looking through the windows, room after room. The result looks like a strip of film
I’ve visited 5 photo exhibitions all over London yesterday. Here’s a few words about the ones i found most interesting. Starting with ‘Last Days of the Arctic’…
The exhibition finally gave me the opportunity to see some of the works i had missed at the Venice Art Biennale in 2009 when Teresa Margolles was selected for the Mexican pavilion.
Her works took the form of mundane and ‘luxury’ objects that embody the trauma of violent deaths in Mexico, more precisely in Sinaloa. The Northwestern state is the home of a cartel regarded as “the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world.” Every day in Sinaloa people are victims of drug related gun violence
Some of the works on show at Kinetica this year are candidly whimsical, others explore responsive architecture, pay homage to Jean Tinguely or to Newton’s third law, take the form of small models of celestial mechanics, or of experimental music gigs on modified Fisher Price Turntables
The Kinetica Art Fair brings together independent galleries, art organisations and curatorial groups who focus on kinetic, electronic, robotic, sound, light, time-based and multi-disciplinary new media art, science and technology. The art fair features installations, robots and small sculptures but also live performances, artists presentations, demos and a cheerful atmosphere that makes it easy to talk to the ‘exhibitors’
Black, illegal street vendors in Venice are paid to get their hair bleached blond. Couples are geometrically arranged according to the colour of their skin and asked to have sexual intercourse. Junkies have a line shaved on their head in exchange of a shot of heroin. Drug addicted prostitutes have a black line tattooed across their back. Asylum seekers spend hours inside cardboard boxes. Veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq face a corner. Others are paid to remain tied down to a block of wood, stay in a ditch, block a museum entrance, hold an object against a wall, etc.