Friday, 28 July 2017


I have a new job. It's a great project working with Commission Projects on a new housing development for Essex County Council on the site of the former Essex County Council Libraries Headquarters and storage facility in Chelmsford.  The site has an intriguing history which I am just starting to uncover. My first foray into the archives has thrown up a link to a Mercury Press on the site around 1930-40 which has provided a strand of research. It was also a space of 'knowledge storage' for all you psycho geography people out there. Books ordered in, held there before being disseminated within Essex library service. This flow of stories is another strand, thinking about words and how we use them. Finally walking around the site, the work is beginning and seeing the buildings rising from the ground one connects to the making process. The plans have mirrored formats within the design and the process of building involves moulds so an inside and outside or negative and positive. I'm interested in how this relates to the idea of the puzzle and how good public art makes you think but you can also ignore it until one day you engage. The work begins here......

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


A war against forgetting - on a plane returning from Documenta14 and I can't remember where I picked this up from but it has felt like that from the first day in Kassel to the last. The role of the artist at Documenta14 is firmly one of pointing stuff out that is going on in the world - almost all of it bad, in fact actually all the work has acted as a form of testimony, the artist performing duties on the front line and reporting back. Sergio Zevallos - A War Machine examined and repurposed the use of eugenics on the evil people of the world, including various bankers, despots from Golden Lion and Theresa May. This display used measuring devices and various display tools and diagrams to create a number shrunken heads that sum up evilness. On the historical front pieces like the body of work by Marilou Schultz highlighted a protest of American Sioux indians, connecting weaving skills, land rights, capitalist corporations and the computer chip. Treading a middle ground, using both archive and the new, a work by Maria Eichhorn Some of the places where Jews were robbed in combination with Sarah Gensburger's book Witnessing the robbing of the Jews was just astounding. The piece highlighted the archive work around the appropriation and repatriation of books from individual and national libraries - just stunning.
Other highlights include Prinz Gholam - speaking of pictures explores images of the body, poses and statues. Koken Ergun - I soldier - a video of a rally - presenting the preposterous poverty of military aspiration.  George Hadjimichalis piece - crossroad crossroad where Oedipus Killed Laius, images and film of a landscape created from a huge metal sheet covered in black pigment and resin. Allan Sekula - middle passage 3 - a documentary piece that presents elements of the ship building and fishing industry. Britta Marakatt-Labba stitched piece of Finish history - a kind of cooler better designed Bayeux Tapestry. Thanassis Totsikas - silent journey - a stoic man carries a stoic man on his back as if a donkey through a wood. Nikos Navridis - looking for a place - extraordinary film of balloons and masks and masks as balloons.
Andreas Angelidakis - walking buildings - a video deconstructing ideas around artists using decommissioned buildings. Bill Viola - the raft - with all its connotations. The spare and stunningly moving film I had nowhere to go by Douglas Gordon.
One of the true delights of a festival of this nature is access to spaces usually unavailable to the general public;  a former underground station, factories, offices and a flat were all explored as well as the more formal spaces of museums where the work is interestingly contextualised by the collection. 

Just remembered where the words A war against forgetting comes from, it was in the excellent film by Naeem Mohaiemen Two meetings and a Funeral, re-presenting the many issues around the nonaligned nations in the 70s at various congresses' and the subsequent interference in the nation states by factions within and associated with America. The past is a foreign country.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


two extraordinary films - for different reasons the handmaiden - full of planning and plotting - it will be okay - wait for the 3rd 'version' and notes on blindness - a stunningly visual film about not seeing - I love the strapline "a film about losing sight but gaining vision",and then there is Alien: Covenant - it feels like the franchise has turned some kind of corner and moved into a fright-fest-splurge-horror-space but Fassbender is excellent as two robots underpinning the roots of everything. Attended a fascinating meet up as part of the incollusion organisation/network - Sherry Dobbin talking about her impressive work with Times Square - Dan Clarke from smart Cambridge talking about how much data Cambridge Council is collected and thinking about how to use it for betterment! they appear to be involved in good work but there was an air of 'data questioning' in the room - There was also some interesting thoughts around data and ownership - two sites - and

Monday, 17 July 2017


The MA private view at Camberwell was a great night - so many Book Art alumni conversations amongst the thoughtful work. The excellent catalogue explores the book and presents the students in an intelligent publication.

Latitude - volunteering to introduce Suffolk primary children to a music festival is such a great call. this years experience was even better than last - in the light of how the world feels it was a joy to introduce the idea of fun! once the job of chaperoning children and supporting teachers was over it was off to engage in the experience that is Latitude - some recommendations from the mass of eclectic cultural activity - Sheffield Documentary Festival  had immersive VR - the most extraordinary film was step to the line about transformation in an American maximum security prison, I was so effected I 'steamed up' the goggles. Martin Creed was just punk at its best - I loved his word play and his dedication of a song to terrorists set just the right tone. Mark Thomas was ferociously on the button - I almost died with laughter at his description of the DUP going to buy bread!!! Mark Kermode talking with Paul Greengrass was a consummate interview, I was moved by Pauls description of Setright’s thoughts on Senna's flow as well as where to stand when making a film. I never fail to be astonished and moved by Linton Kwesi Johnson's strong, respectful stance. Max and Ivan had gentle narrative comedy sketches with a neat twist. In terms of dancing late night disco shed was a winner as always but if you wanted something harder DJ Semtext, was the answer, Kurupt FM is confusing - so knowing that it becomes the thing it is questioning - or is it!  FatboySlim was a hoot - big beat with all encompassing visuals - and finally - Dave a winner - very cool, intelligent danceable beats.

Friday, 7 July 2017


still thinking of Venice - whenever I am not there I find it difficult to imagine that such a place exists - as if it only occurs when I am present and even when I'm there it's as if it is only in existence if I can see it - it ceases to happen behind me as if it's very being was a magic trick, an illusion - like something out of a Calvino story.

the book the circle was a must read moment a few years ago, in some ways it presented a future but maybe one that was already here. the film the circle suffered from expectation and also that the future was defiantly already here. Not a bad film but I did love the book. Wonder woman was a glorious jaunt but along with the action packed the photograph we last saw in Dawn of Justice took on a poignancy that was beautiful. I enjoyed the reading of this part of the film in

The exhibition at White Cube is a really interesting female surrealist overview - for me the stand out pieces are by Shana Moulton, especially the piece My Life as an INFJ the projection which interacts with objects and then one can never not be stunned by Lee Miller's photograph Untitled (Severed breast from radical surgery in a modern setting 1 & 2). 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017


a system for mass producing life-size Christ's made of mould, raining inside a building, a football sized reflection of a factory, a room of wool, an alternative history of Alien human interaction, truly huge projections in post industrial settings, questioning of questionable person aesthetics and national values, giant statements in Nationalistic settings  - it must be Venice Biennale... as Christine Macel states in the catalogue 'art bears witness to the most precious part of what makes us human at a point when humanism is precisely jeopardised, art is the ultimate ground for reflection'. four days in Venice going to the Biennale exhibition gives one a real sense that artist are doing their job, observing, pointing out, calling to order and celebrating what it is to be human. The highlight was the 2 hour performance in the German Pavilion by Anne Imhof. It was stunning, challenging and thoughtful, the room divided in such a way allowed performers to move under the audience, performing tasks while we observed and always out of control. Then there was the Spanish Pavilion which celebrated nomadic culture through a group that supports their rights - the idea of a DICKtatorship and the COCKocracy of our lives was wonderful. Most Nations pavilions looked at where we are now and if felt that those that didn't missed out on the opportunity to actually say something.  

the whole Arsenale space felt highly curated and as an audience member one was taken on an excellent journey. Some of the work that sticks is .....Shimabukn's Snow Monkey video which comments on isolation and dislocation from what we understand, Guan Xiao's David asks do we know anything anymore? Kader Attia moving and physical representation of transgender voice pattern through Indian movies. There is lots of what could be described as cultural appropriation but the work of Enrique Ramirez felt genuine and heartfelt but then it was filmed in an extraordinary space. lots of artists working with the book and showing their working process Sam Lewitt's work with light as books was an example of both, Jeremy Shaw explore states of transgender the moving documentary got to the heart of searching for meaning but constantly failing.....mournful, Pauline Curnier Jardin gave me my laugh out loud moment - in her film a woman lifts her skirt to reveal the head of Jesus talking to her from within her pubic hair, at first the cute video by Nevin Aladag of instruments being played by street furniture and children's playground rides was fun and frivolous but the absence of musicians started to take on a sinister tone. There is some excellent Book Art from around the world included in the main exhibition in the Arsenale - starting with a great show of work by John Latham, the obsessive notebooks of Abdullah Al Saadi, exquisite paintings of books by Liu Ye, glowing coloured books by Geng Jianyi, the truly gorgeous textile books of Maria Lai, the stunning research project around the idea of book as symbol by Sam Lewit , the solid earth books by Michelle Stuart and the obsessive text works of Irma Blank

2 days seeing collateral pavilions around Venice and I'm left with thoughts of the Welsh and Scottish Pavilions spinning in my head. Already a fan of Rachael Maclean but her video was gloriously blunt to the point of obvious when creating a fairytale for our time with good and evil well in their place. James Richards representing Wales has a combination of sound, video and print that worked so well in the space and with great content it was just beautiful.

then there was Damien Hirst at Punta Della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi - Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable Damien Hirst - excessive, unnecessary, brash  and overbearing but truly wonderful. The whole pointless show has clues if you look for them armed with a little bit of pop culture knowledge - an Egyptian goddess revealed itself through its tattoos to be Riannon, the likeness to Farrell Williams on another is startling, bodies based on Barbie, one of the weapons has to be out of a video game and I'm sure John Merrick was the model for Proteus - it is truly excessive - go see. I wish there was a book revealing all the hidden stories - I would buy.