Videos/ LinksPosted by Artfeelers Oct 27, 2012 14:56 Semiconductor is the combination of two people - Ruth Jarman &
Joe Gerhardt and Magnetic Movie is one of the most beautiful animations I've ever seen. What you could see if you could see it/ them/ the beautiful 'hairy balls' that surround us.
The wonderfully cosmic trio that is Cosmicmegabrain screened this at their most recent TRIAL exhibition at Shoreditch studios on October 6th. They are already planning their next event for February. Stay tuned as ever.
Videos/ LinksPosted by Artfeelers Sep 15, 2012 14:09 Sao Paolo Series I, 2010 Digital photograph printed on brushed gold
aluminium. 595 x 457mm
"The work stems from a fascination with the centres we construct, the forms they take and what they reveal about us, at a time when more than half of the world's population live in cities, a proportion that is expected to rise to three quarters by 2050."
Nye came on an Artfeelers tour - a First Thursday tour for the Whitechapel Gallery - not so long ago. It was a strange tour. The last stop on our tour, the one I was looking forward to and building the group up for, was most inconveniently closed. Embarrassing is not the word. I was fuming. But Nye saved the day. She'd picked up a flyer for the BMW art car exhibition which happened to be a two minute walk from the closed gallery in the car park on the junction between Great Eastern Street and Curtain Road, EC. We wandered over and wound our way through the car park. On the top floor overlooking the grit and glory of East London, beyond the artist designed cars - designed by the likes of Warhol, Rosenquist, Holzer, Calder - we saw the giant red moon preside over Olympian London and we were happy once again. And so when I got an invitation from Nye this week to come to the CASS MA show at the Metropolitan School of Art across from the Whitechapel, I happily accepted. There was quite a bit of decent work and it was clear that the students were a mature bunch, their styles firmed up and despite the pretty poor exhibition spaces the art looked pretty good. One artist stood out. There's always at least one. This one was Jaykoe. I'd seen him at the Other Art Fair. He stood out there too. His fellow students are clearly aware of his talent too, using his image for the exhibition poster. Obsessed with cityscapes and delighting in diverse media, Jaykoe's shimmering depictions of urbanity were clearly head and shoulders above his peers' work. Jaykoe's explanation of his work is a stimulating mix of quotes from the Situationists International and Toni Morrisson's advice to us to; "Do what you please in the city, it is there to back and frame you no matter what you do. And what goes on there on its blocks and lots and streets is anything the strong can think of and weak can admire."
I bid you to watch out for this artist, as long as he remains one of the strong that Morrisson speaks of, he should continue to interact urban life and to create art for the rest of us to admire.
The image above conveys little of how the sunset/ sunrise of Sao Paolo is brought to London by Jaykoe. The brushed gold alluminium scintillates before us. I often think inferior art can look better in reproductions, mechanical or digital and that true art cannot only be deteriorated by it. Jaykoe's is definitely to be seen in real life. So basically what I am trying to say is - keep an eye out for him and go see his work, don't just take my word for it.
Recommended ExhibitionsPosted by Artfeelers Jul 21, 2012 14:43 The whole situation of my visiting Galerie8 on Wednesday evening was pretty close to perfect. I had wondered if there was gallery behind the austere glass of the building on Richmond Road, as I live just on the other side of Mare Street, but in true Londoner fashion I must have always been too busy, tired, distracted or all three to bother my ass and check. But I did on Wednesday after a tip off from a friend and wandered into the pre-opening-opening. There was really just me there as the audience and lots of attentive Galerie8 people. One in particular, who seemed to be the curator but not totally sure, was a very smart and friendly guy who gave me a tour of the exhibition entitled Impossible Heap, yet another Samuel Beckett inspired concept/ mood/ take on life through art:
The Impossible Heap is a group exhibition that takes its title from the opening lines of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame. The original play elucidates the cyclical and somewhat senseless reality of human existence, and borrows from the last moves of a chess game wherein the outcome becomes inevitable, but is drawn out regardless of the last futile countermoves. " (Press Release)
Until I have time to see it again, ask for images and then write about this exhibition properly I just want to highlight a few artists for now - explanations will follow...
- Chris Jones' burnt out car collage (bit of a genius - fantastic artwork which unfortunately I can't find an image for but earlier work above of the horse and carriage that'll give you some very vague idea) - Alexis Milne's Riot - below - Zavier Ellis's Tombstone painting - Sarah Pager's The Skinny
Recommended ExhibitionsPosted by Artfeelers Jul 11, 2012 08:10 Grayson Perry's superb Vanity of Small Differences, an exhibition of six fantastic tapestries tracking the mobility of one young man from a babe to a body bathing in its own blood on an A road, mirroring Hogarth's Rake's Progress, will soon be over and I really don't want you to miss it. While Hogarth used the medium of prints to disseminate his ideas as depicted in the Rake's Progress, Perry has used Channel 4, accompanying the series of Tapestries (another forray from Perry into reviving a dying art and making it thoroughly relevant to a contemporary audience, employing an important Belgian tapestry company) with a 3/4 part series on social mobility in UK today - looking at the laminated working classes, the self effacing middle classes and the dying animal that is the upper crust, hanging onto their crumbling castles for dear life. Made in Belgium and choc-a-clock with reminiscences from the dutch golden age of painting the tapestries are masterpieces together and add the documentaries in and you realise what a dude Perry is.
This blog needs a bit of colour and no better person than Grayson Perry to bring it some -
Recommended ExhibitionsPosted by Artfeelers Jul 10, 2012 23:50 The best thing about the exhibition at Rove Gallery in Hoxton Square for me today was the unexpectedness and what that opened up. I didn't expect the gap between two meetings to be 45 minutes and therefore I didn't expect to have the time to jump into a gallery and see an exhibition. The White Cube was installing, 20 Hoxton Square is no more, the installation in the square's park wasn't inviting nor was the shitty weather so I hopped into Rove - Kenny Schachter's weird space on the east side of the square. Inside I saw what looked like a promising exhibition and which indeed was after it was explained to me by Marina Kurikhina. Consisting of 10 works, very carefully curated to bounce meaning off each other and around the room, by five mexican artists who are all seemingly recognised as 'relevant' yet who have never been banded together to demonstrate the importance of their work as a generation who have come of age more or less at the same time from the same soil before.
Each work is a heavy statement piece in itself, and although Marina explained succinctly why each was significant and why each was chosen she left the whole thing fairly much open to interpretation. These Mexican artists are concerned and exploring the very same themes through much the same mediums and mechanisms as their dry counterparts in Europe. Reflecting the heavy history of minimalism, referencing Albers, the ascetic definitions of Kosuth spliced with the tongue rammed-irredeemably-in-cheek Richard Prince, concrete and neon, black wall and stark white text extolling Ideology to be dead, bolex camera noisily churning out the positive and negative possibilities of Gozola Lebrija running away from us until no more than a dot - we are being shown what you would expect from any of 'our' artists, but not what you would necessarily expect from an exhibition showcasing exclusively Mexicans. This is why Marina is keen to point out that they are all Mexican, not because that is the reason in itself why they are there, it is part of it of course, but it is not a show about Mexican art as such, far from it. She is keen to point it out because you wouldn't otherwise know. It is not parochial, they are not communicating to an outside world about their country. They are true global citizens, engaged in themes that transcend the borders of their nation.
Marina is hosting a brunch this Sunday to discuss the exhibition and more:
Round table discussion with Pablo Leon de la Barra, Mathieu Copeland and Filipa Ramos, Sunday, 15th July 2012, 12pm
33—34 Hoxton Square
London, N1 6NN
For more information contact:
Maybe just maybe I'll see you there...
All this talk of Mexico reminded me of Francis Alys, Belgian artist who lives in Mexico city. There are certain living artists, that I am not necessarily sure I would like to meet because I would be so nervous and it's not necessary to meet them as their art is what is important for us, like Cindy Sherman, Doug Aitkin, Christo, Balka...that I am fascinated by and am very happy and honoured to share the same moment in the world with and Alys is seriously up there, the artist as Shaman, the artist as visual poet, visionary and 'realisor', he is a true contemporary artist. He allows you to download a heap of his films from his website www.francisalys.com. Here's one you might like:
If you have just a couple of minutes spare - fill in this little survey for artist and psychologist Eleanor Lindsay-Fynn who is investigating the relationship between loneliness and the role of the artist. A worthy topic indeed.
Do NOT MissPosted by Artfeelers Jun 04, 2012 00:00 Please please go see this. I went last Wednesday to the opening at the Parasol Unit, really just to meet a friend (have a natter) but I was blown away by this exhibition. Only for the sun on the canal, I would have stayed all evening - enjoying the plush carpets and slow perspectives. I will definitely return for a double dose with at least an hour up my sleeve and this no doubt will be insufficient. You may have heard of Claerbout, I had, didn't know why, do now.
David Claerbout: The Algiers' Sections of a Happy Moment, 2008
"As one of the most innovative and acclaimed artists of his generation working with moving image, Claerbout has created a striking body of works within which the media of film and photography appear to co-exist.
Claerbout's works often depict some everyday activity or event that seems to be the subject of the work, but as time passes we as viewers face a dilemma in how to decipher the artist’s intention. The works not only alter our established understanding of time and the narrative process but also our notions of reality, illusion, and the relationship between them." Parasol Unit David Claerbout. the time that remains 31 May – 10 August 2012 http://www.parasol-unit.org/index.php?id=687
Recommended ExhibitionsPosted by Artfeelers May 23, 2012 00:02 I happened upon something very cool at Cambridge Heath train station last Thursday - an intervention orchestrated by Julie Hill. Hill got two young talented actors - Kristoffer Hubball and Madelaine Ryan - to re-enact the final scene from the classic Brit film Brief Encounter. It's a classic tear jerker and sure enough, as the couple embraced on the platform a little longer than planned due to a delayed train, their extended goodbye pulled tightly on the heart strings of the knowing few of us perched on the platform bench and frightened an alighting passenger, who touched Madelaine's arm comfortingly and asked her if she was ok, and was she sure she was ok. The actress looked completely lost, standing alone and crying her eyes out, her handbag abandoned beside her on the yelllow line. The perfect intervention on an otherwise humdrum day for most.
After this performance Catherine Anyango and Julie Hill invited us to their show, currently on at Guest Projects at the south end of Broadway Market. The exhibition explores 'the historical view of women as objects perpetually on the brink of hysteria – dripping with emotion, their bodies ready to overflow, blurring and overriding social norms' (http://cryingout.tumblr.com/). Two pieces really stood out for me. The first by Anyango, is a convincing effigy of a women bent over a sink in the corner, the water streaming onto her hands as she endlessly washes he china. Her hands are cast in soap, and as the water washes them away the plates inevitable smash into the belfast sink and echo around the exhibition. The other piece is also by Anyango - an animation of a women crying hysterically over her handbag. The image of the women was taken from found material - cctv footage on youtube of an anonymous woman in this distraught condition. Each frame was drawn very small and the effect of blowing the animation up large on the wall is one of pixellated confusion and disturbance.
Both the intervention by Julie Hill and the animation by Catherine Anyango reminded me of a video piece by the fantastic Norwegian artist A K Dolven 'between the morning and the handbag' which I saw at the Temple Bar Galleries many moons ago whilst studying in Dublin. I'll leave it up to you to look up more on this if you wish to.
There are lots more interesting works in Crying out Loud, as per usual too many too mention. The exhibition runs till 31 May. I hope you get a chance to see it.
Recommended ExhibitionsPosted by Artfeelers Apr 25, 2012 13:53 My Dog Sighs is a very sweet name and this is a very sweet idea. Keep an eye out for his flickr inspired free art around East London as he's currently exhibiting in Pure Evil Gallery on Leonard Street. So far he's given away over 1,500 art works, recycling what he finds so as not to adding anything negative to the environment.
I know a musician who once told me when he goes to a new city he is very aware of how it sounds. He says each city sounds very different. I am quite sure this sensitivity is linked to his chosen occupation. No outrageous connection there. Traditionally photographers show us what a city looks like. This makes sense too. But Stephen Gill, Hackney based photographer, says he wants to include as much as he can of what a place feels like. Gill therefore "started collecting little bits of stuff from actual places, and then putting them inside the camera. Bits of plant life, seeds, or glass: I drop them in just before loading the film. I've even used insects. These objects then sit on the film emulsion when I'm taking the picture. It's a way of encompassing the actual essence of a place in an image, the visual noise and chaos."
'Where intention meets chance' … Stephen Gill's shot of a Hackney street
This sounds like a quirky school project that could easily look crap but the results are simple and beautiful. Full of texture and punk. Gill claims to love and rebel against photography in equal measure. Speaking about Hackney he hits the rusty nail on the head - "Hackney is a place that attracts obsessives. It's something to do with its contradictions: you can be in a beautiful spot with canals and meadows, and then the flipside is chaos and dirt. That's what I'm trying to grapple with." (Interview with Guardian - 3 March 2010)
Stephen Gill is included in a group show aptly called 'Et cetera' curated by the formidable Tom Jeffreys of Spoonfed at Hoxton Art Gallery, opening tonight:
Recommended ExhibitionsPosted by Artfeelers Apr 02, 2012 00:46 Samuel Beckett's influence on contemporary art is seismic. I use the word seismic because the more I look and see, the more I feel his energy and legacy rumbling underneath like the undercurrent motion of lava influencing on varying richter scales. Miroslaw Balka is one artist more obviously influenced by Beckett ('How It Is', 2009 - read my article on the subject here) and Graham Dolphin is another. Dolphin's latest exhibition, currently at Seventeen Gallery is a presentation of his exquisite pencil works on paper replicating famous writers, artists and thinkers' last words, Sylvia Plath's gravestone - 'Stone' and the fans last words on the memorial wall for Ian Curtis - 'Wall (Walk in Silence)'. Included is a replica of Beckett's last poem ever written 'Comment Dire' meaning 'What is the Word' in French or more literally 'how do you say', a characteristically tongue in cheek title for the last poem by one of the 20th century's greatest writers and deemed by Dolphin the most apt title for his related body of work.
Along with 'Comment Dire' is Aldous Huxley's last scrawled words, written in his last few moments; 'LSD - Try it 100 intramuscular', as he just had, dying under the influence of the mighty hallucinogenic, the last known work by Charles Bukowski a witty 'fax poem', Allen Ginsberg's last poem 'Thinks I'll Not Do', among others.
The content of the drawings is so intense - captivating historically important documents - and emotionally charged with our own fear of mortality and act of sharing in the direct thoughts of those who faced death head on, their time spent, now behind them, that you actually forget just how beautiful the graphite renderings are. Faithfully portraying the lined page, the indentations of folds and fingers, the shadows created by the accidental landscaping of the paper. The realisation that this is the work of Dolphin's own hand adds a dimension of time, meditation and complete absorption to the works, demonstrates the dexterous craft of draftsmanship, let it be unfashionably said, and a physical assertion of the artist as living mediator between his deceased heros, and the audience - us.
The most poignant perhaps though is 'Last Diary Entry' Frida Kahlo's parting words of grace. Kahlo died at 47, the official cause of death was said to be a pulmonary embolism, although it's suspected that she may have deliberately overdosed. A few days before her death she wrote (as translated in Seventeen's press release):
"Thanks to the doctors Farill - Glusker - Parres and Doctor Enrique Palomera Sanchez Palomera. Thanks to the nurses to the stretcher hearers to the cleaning women and attendants at the British Hospital Thanks to Dr. Vargas Th Navarro to Dr. Polo And to my will Power. I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return. FRIDA"
Lucía and Luis y el lobo (the wolf) by Niles Atallah, Cristobal Leon & Joaquin Cociña and Der Kleiner Raume by Cristobal Leon and Nina Wehrle
These two extraordinary animation pieces (please watch Lucia below) were shown in the excellent screening room and programme at the Whitechapel Gallery last month. I came across them by accident - which is always the best way I find.
Since then, apart from the videos, which are easy to find on youtube and vimeo, I haven't been to able to learn much more about the artists, which is a shame. It is also a shame, as a friend pointed out, that us non spanish speakers have to read the subtitles as well. One remedy to this is to watch the videos a number of times. I did find another 'manual animation' called 'Der Kleiner Raum' (The Small Room) by Cristobal Leon in collaboration with Nina Wehrle, one part of a quirky Berlin based illustration duo http://www.itsrainingelephants.ch. Once again, due to lack of info found, I can only really say how good it is - an eerie and dark folklorish-fairy tale about a young boy trapped in nightmarish enclosure with a wolf that materialises from his mouth, as berried trees grow around him crushing him into his chair while crows and rats teem into the small room only to disintegrate again. The sheer effort and dexterity of execution in these three animations is invigorated with what I can only guess to be Cristobal Leon's elegantly dark aesthetic.
Videos/ LinksPosted by Artfeelers Dec 01, 2011 00:26 have been stacked on top of each other by a collaborative duo going by the name of French Riviera. Now, this is brand new to Bethnal Green high street. It must be. I haven't noticed it before...
I arrived home from work to see a strange sight. I saw what 'an opening' or 'private view' of an exhibition in East London must look like to the average punter for the first time. My neighbour Margaret and I stood together on the balcony on the 6th/11th floor of our council block watching a huddled crowd on the high street. They looked a little chilly and a little confused. In fact Margaret was convinced it was a party but I thought it was an accident because I could see that the crowd were all looking at the same thing and not at each other. But what they were looking at was obscured. I could just see something flashing. I imagined for a moment it was a magic cash machine - malfunctioning and thereby coughing out money to an orderly crowd of youngish people.
Alas no. It was, as I said, a stack of tvs showing video pieces; short, interspersed, by 16 artists, playing intermittently on 20 or so little 12ish inch black box tvs. After a visit to a friend later this evening, I saw another strange sight, lots of young non east London natives (blow ins like myself) in the local, overly lit Marquis de Cornwall. You'd never normally catch a crowd like that drinking there. This was when I realised that the flashing must be an exhibition. Sorry for the long winded explanation. It's just that it's the first time I felt what it was like to be on the other side of the fence. I really enjoyed it. So I stopped outside 309 Bethnal Green Road. The strobes and general flashing coming from the little screens are serious eye-catchers. The effect was a bit like the living in London, from my perspective at least. At first I was extremely distracted and couldn't keep my eyes on one screen for longer than a few seconds. Then my eyes calmed down, my concentration adjusted to the distractions and after a little while I was able to watch one at a time. Within five minutes I realised that each video was somewhat interesting in itself but nothing spectacular, yet combined they did become far more interesting. Each screen and video, made separately by different artists, have been brought together in this humble window display to become one body. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole you could say and worth a look if you are kicking about Bethnal Green before 21 December when it finishes. It's also very close to Gourmet San - the best chinese I've ever been to (chilli green beans).
Recommended ExhibitionsPosted by Artfeelers Nov 28, 2011 22:55 Some people have their priorities straight. I seriously think that the adventures in Magda's blog are more important than most the exhibitions in most of the galleries I visit.
Magda lives in a council block in East London and has brokered a friendly and creative relationship with her Bangladeshi neighbours. Her blog is an online journal ranging from just a few words and a few photos of the kids she makes art and organises parties with to longer more thoughtful reflections on what happened that day and how it made her feel. Seriously heartwarming. I've picked out two of the blog posts that I really like for you to take a look at, but all of them are great and the blog is really a story so it's good to read as many posts as possible. Like any journal it makes more sense and gets more interesting the more your read. I think. Thanks and well done Magda, hope to meet you sometime.
It's fun to have a mooch around a gallery taking notes on a pretentious press release isn't it. And with so many hobby-blogs like this one knocking about the internet, we all have easy access to some dissemination point or other for our excited or scathing words.
Surprisingly perhaps, there are more art writing prizes popping up too. For my job as a marketeer for London Art Fair, the Burlington Magazine asked us to post their writers prize on Facebook, which we did and I will post it again here in case there some writers reading this because you could win 1,000 smackeroos, which is not to be scoffed at: http://burlington.org.uk/art-world/the-burlington-contemporary-wr
A less well known recent start up called BreeseLittle contacted me to tell you - in their words "that [they] the itinerant contemporary art gallery that has recently set down roots in Clerkenwell ...are extremely proud to announce the fourth installment of [their] writing prize and excited to inform you that the prize money has now gone up to £600 for the winning entrant." Their email to me is practically jumping up on down on my little laptop screen right now. So get excited too and share your talented writing with the world - and make some bloody money out of it for a change: http://www.hrlcontemporary.com/#/prize-for-art-criticism/4543108486
It's First Thursday this week by the way. Maybe I'll see you prowling around with a pen and flimsy press release in your hand too as I try and look over some beer swigging trendy's shoulder at some crap on the wall!
Good luck with the prize entries everyone.
1) The picture is funny eh? It's by someone calling themselves Moggee the art dog ... There's lots more funny doodles poking at art on his blog (the subject of all the random blogs on art deserve a post in its own right really): http://moogee.wordpress.com/
There are many a reason why cameras and photography took off
like box paints and pleine air painting never could.
death of painting is a fashion to herald. It’s obsolete - had its day, all
that. At this stage it is ridiculous to even entertain such statements as we
see people paint, continually, consistently, in new ways, in old ways, brilliantly
and disastrously. That is not to deny that the pluralist, everything goes
nature of contemporary art has not caused painting to be toppled from its former
pedestal. But, with the likes of Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter and Takahashi Murakami still
developing the medium and exploring its possibilities to our delight and
intrigue, it can not be said that painting is irrelevant. That said it is quite
rare to find impressive and interesting painting here in London. The current fashion is pastiche
plagiarism and gothic game play. So when I was given a small taste of Liz Barile-Page, a photography graduate, a member of the East London Printmakers group and first and foremost a painter, I was interested to see more.
moving to the UK from the US in 2007 to
study photography and fine art further, Barile-Page was awakened to the
significance of red in this new cultural setting when a lecturer remarked of
her shoes - that he never wore red, he thought it so ‘vulgar’. The
comment, and slight in the young Amercian student's direction, incited a series of paintings focusing
on single object, close-up studies, exploiting red; charging it and the
paintings with the artist’s own personal mythology. Crack Donkey, pictured
below, is Barile-Page’s favourite of this series and it is a good example
of her mischievous and wry humour combined with skillful technique. Red is not
just the descriptive colour, it is the subject too. It is used as a little ‘fuck
you’. The paintings say ‘red is mine’, ‘look how rich and sumptuous it is’ and
‘if that’s vulgar to you - fine’.
painted her first ‘proper painting’ in 2004 while studying photography in Florida. The result is
astonishingly accomplished; a self portrait of the artist applying red lipstick
in a bare bathroom with a striking blue towel draped over its rail (pictured
above). Looking at a reproduction of the painting on screen, the subtle and classic techniques employed to make the painting work are explained to me.
Regardless of these techniques of compostion, paint application or
verisimilitude, it is the intense gaze, concentration and the painfully honest
depiction of the deliberated and self conscious act of a young woman
transforming her mundane identity into a potential object of sexual attention,
into potentially a more confident being, and undoubtedly into a more noticeable
figure - simply by applying the colour red to her lips. She paints
herself as she literally paints herself.
describes her art as ‘a documentary of visions and working out of technical
ideas or problems.’ The working out of technical ideas is clearly evident,
whether it’s in her painting, photography or print making and there is a
playfulness and will to experiment that may lead Barile-Page onto a more
defined trajectory in her own good time. There is also an element of ‘visions’
in the works I have seen, particularly ‘Skeleton boy’; again a single object -
a young boy in a skeleton costume, awkward and vulnerable in his innocent attempt to
appear frightening, immersed in the deep red background of the painting. For
the most part however, the works appear to be a means to document her own world
through an honest and quirky mind’s eye. Currently working on not-a-portrait
but a painting of her husband James (see detail below), she is concerned this time with the
overall blue hue and the autumn evening melancholy as the slouched subject is
hypnotised by his browsing and eerily lit up from below by the screen light
from the laptop on his prostrate body. (The detail and reproduction does not allow us to see the blue unfortunately).
clear that this is a painter, suitably unconcerned with whatever the status or
general condition of contemporary painting, happy to set new challenges for
herself while somehow simultaneously allowing her practice to develop
organically. Keep an eye on this artist.
Recommended ExhibitionsPosted by Artfeelers Sep 12, 2011 23:42 Bored of East London art? I get a bit bored of it sometimes too, truth be known. It can be exhausting and I suppose exhausted from time to time. So...anyone want to read a piece I wrote on two provocative works by an Irish artist; Tadhg McGrath, educated at Central St Martins but hailing from and firmly rebased in my home town of Dublin in Ireland.
'Gardai' is the Irish word for Police.
The article starts with a quote from an artist I love, Francis Alys and discusses the notion of political art somewhat and artists such as AiWeiWei, Jeanne Claude and Christo and Alexis Milne.
'Poetic licence operates like a hiatus – an “agent provocateur”, a short circuit – into the atrophy of situation that finds itself in a state of political, social, confessional, ethical, economical or military crisis or lethargy. Through the absurd and sometimes impertinent nature of the poetic act, art provokes a moment of suspended meaning, a sensation of senselessness that may reveal the absurdity of a situation. Via this act of transgression, the poetic act makes one step backward for an instant from the circumstances. In short, it may make us look at things differently.’ Francis Alÿs
Inspired by the above disturbing image of a monkey being prepared for space travel and many more like it, Darren Hayman is one of five artists going by the collective name Vostok5 currently exhibiting in The Outside World Gallery on Redchurch Street. It's a teeny tiny gallery and as you can imagine with the network of five artists, the gallery itself and passersby attracted by the buzz, the opening was a crowded affair. But deservedly so. In fact it was the saviour of a disappointing First Thursday ramble through Viner Street and Redchurch Street.
Of the five artists Hayman's work stood out the most and when looking at the collective's blog it would appear his is the leading voice. The pathos in his humble illustrative paintings is moving. I have previously brushed over this blatant animal cruelty activity, which to be fair is not just another to add to the long list. It is an extraordinary thing to do - send a defenceless creature into outer space. We are such cruel, bizarre beings. The exhibition is worth going to see and you can pick up a screen print from as little as £20 or a framed painting for £90.
Hayman's work reminds me of another animal cruelty outlet that is becoming more common - contemporary art. The most recent example I can think of, one which was completely farcical and represented so much of what I hate in contemporary art, was Shimabuku's My Tortoise Teacher at Wilkinsons Gallery in May/ June (2011). Basically it was a live tortoise creeping around a foot high wooden pen.
The premise seems fine - 'Contemplative and wise are the often fabled characteristics of the tortoise, correspondingly, in the context of the exhibition, the tortoise is emblematic of Shimabuku’s suggestion that we ought to slow down and reconsider our often unconcerned appreciation of the present.' Nice thought I suppose, but there are plenty of other (imaginative and creative) ways to demonstrate this or provoke it without having to place an animal in such a strange environment for people to wander past, peer at, snigger and swig cheap beer over. Oh well.
Votek5's exhibition is only on until 7 September so be quick.