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may happysnaps

in between the megalith of that previous post and the monstrosity of the next one, i thought i might pop in something light and fluffy.

earlier this month i posted about my flickr happysnaps - my aim at being interesting by taking random pics and uploading them to flickr (although as i type that, it actually sounds rather mundane). anyway, seeing as it's the end of the month, i thought i might put a couple up here, so you can have a peek at what i've been seeing this month.

more happysnaps








a gallery per day: may week 4

the subtitle for this blog is: the week i didn't see any art.

it's going to be a relatively short post becuase, believe it or not, i visited a gallery per day this week and managed to only actually see 3 shows, thanks to most of them being shut or fucked up in some way. thank goodness i have a sense of humour!


ICA (institute of contemporary art)

i went to the ica to have a gander and check out the reputable contemporary art gallery (not to mention clash pilgrimage stop). when i got there, there was no exhibition on, it's opening tomorrow. loaded with attitude. when i asked about buying a ticket to the david eggers talk on thursday (which i had heard about and was really looking forward to), i got 'it's all sold out' and about as much human interaction as a piece of fucking box board.

so, instead of storming off and bitching about the rude fucking british, i hung out in the very excellent bookstore. i can't really afford to buy anything at the moment (finances and space, etc), but i watched someone buy pretty much everything in the store, and turned a very lovely shade of pantone 365. i looked at wonderful books on theory, books with pretty coloured covers, magazines from around the world and even picked up a very cool looking freebie on Cool London Brands. I left feeling slightly renewed, went to use the toilets, closed. fucking gallery.

don't worry, i'll go back next week to see if i can reclaim a shitty first impression, but for today, the ica sucks. it does absolutely nothing to prevent absolute alientation from contemporary art, even by contemporary artists, for fucks' sake!


stolen space, chloe early

after lounging in my fav. cafe, i popped in to see the show and got to see precisely 1.5 paintings before the gallery staff kindly told me that it actually wasn't open and that the private viewing was tomorrow.
they really shouldn't have had the signs (note the plural) out on the street, advertising the gallery as open. however, the paintings that i did see looked really great actually and i'm hoping i can skip back in there another day soon, before the show closes.


tate modern, material gestures (ubs openings)

in the next round of tate modern adventures, young will and i met for coffee again and gasbagged for ages, before heading around the material gestures on the third floor.
material gestures started with a huge fibreglass piece by my favourite british artist (at the moment) anish kapoor. i go weak at the knees with everything he does, and this one was no exception.
highlights of the floor included the wrong gallery (you may remember that i heard massimiliano gioni from wrong at the melbourne art fair forums a while ago), and the rothko room. mayhem and i were supposed to rendevouz there a while back and never managed it. it was fucking amazing and i'm so glad he decided that it was all wrong for a hotel and so, so right for a gallery. in fact i could sit in that room for hours on end, just being all, hummed out is the only way i can explain it.
i don't want to reduce rothko to associations with my childhood, but there was something about the room that reminded me of my grandparents' loungeroom - all that deep red and charcoalness had something to do with it.

the influence of american action painters and inaction painters (like barnett newman) was really well shown, while given enough room to treat the works individually as well. I'm not sure if the whole effect of world war II was quite impressed as much as it needed to be, but overall, it was hot.t.


victoria & albert museum, surreal things

i had been looking forward to going to the v&a for a while, especially the surrealist ball. it sounded like such a great idea - totally free, encouragement to dress up, late night time in a museum, and, as it turns out, a chance to tweet (meet a twitter friend) Helen. turns out she had free tix, so i actually got to see the Surreal Things exhibition, rather than wander around the museum (which i would happily have done, but it was so much better seeing the show.)

i'm not really a huge fan of surrealism. In fact, as response to the madness of world war I, i much prefer dadaism. however, the surreal things was more about the design aspect of surrealism, which was far more interesting and engaging - set design, costume, product design (including works by Carlo Mollino and groovy couches by Isamu Noguchi). It also featured the Bestegui Apartment, designed by Le Corbusier and although Dali is my least favourite, the Mae West lips and associated homewares by Dali and Edwards were fantastic.

The Magritte paintings on display were pretty good (not the best, but still pretty ace) and i was quite surprised by how many surrealist works by Albert Giacometti were included.

If you're into design of any kind, I thoroughly recommend going to see the show 'cos while Dali is one of the most overrated painters in history, other artists in the Surrealists were responsible for some truly brave and inspiring works.


coningsby gallery, natalie abadzis, the leafsweeper

i stumbled upon this gallery, looking for another one, and it was nice to pop into a show that was quite delicate and innocent and clean. natalie is a designer and illustrator and her paintings were quite cute - little moments that captured little perspectives of life. her small artists' book was for sale, so i bought one. it was nice to engage with something a little more whimsical.


situation leeds, various locations, leeds.

i went to leeds for the day to check out the last day of situation leeds, a festival of situationist works in the centre of the northern town. it sounded fantastic, and with situation work totally up my alley, i jumped on a bus for 4 hours each way to check it out.

the weather was totally shithouse, but that didn't bother me too much. that was until my experience of the festival was a whitewash. the promotion and website for the festival was absolutely fantastic, but the actual event was really badly organised and totally lost me. although it was the end of the festival, according to the website and other guides, i could at least check out the work on the free city bus, the bus stops and at the university. well, when i got to leeds, i found out the hard way the the free city bus doesn't run on sundays, which meant that i drastically reduced what i could see. never mind, i went to the festival hub to check out what else i could see.

the festival hub was at the met gallery in the metropolitan university and for a 'festival hub' it was appallingly signposted. in fact, it wasn't and i wandered around a desolate university trying to find where the fuck i was. finally i found the gallery and was hoping to find out all kinds of helpful information, some keen suggestions as to some cool stuff to check out. all i got was a cursory brush off, a printed guide and some misinformation about the city bus service from a girl who was far more interested in hanging out on the net than in actually engaging with me, or helping me enjoy the art or the festival. what a waste of fucking resources! did these people even want people to see any art or have an enjoyable time?

when i managed to get some sense of where some works might be laying, i had a quick look around the gallery there and it was mostly documentationa about the festival and the cool do.go.see installation.

i went off to the leeds university to find the 10 green bottles which were 'on a wall outside the robert stevenson building' according to the descriptions and when i finally found the building, i walked around the whole thing (in the freezing cold rain) and didn't find the fucking works. i swear, it was laughable and laugh i did! and then, i decided to not put myself in any more pain and walked back into town to find a nice, warm, dry place to sit. i still can't quite believe what a shambles it was, but i consoled myself, buying a kick-arse pair of x-hi converse boots, drafting a blog about cultural tourism and not judging a city on one crap day/event.


hayward gallery, antony gormley, blinding light.

and, to top off a fine week of not seeing any art, i braved the winter-like weather and bank holiday crowds to take advantage of cheap mondays at the hayward, and to see the gormley. i really like antony gormley's works - having seen the asian field and the desert figures in australia. and, so it seems, did everyone else in london. the show was 'sold out' which was not only annoying, but damn hilarious! and instead of going to the national gallery instead (like i usually do on mondays), i decided to laugh, cut my losses, come home, cook a huge lasagne from scratch and blog about it.

next week, i'm actually going to buy a time out and make sure i choose wisely.



blogs that make me go hmmm...

in the spirit of tagging, the thinking blogger has been passing on awards again for blogs that make us think and i'm quite flattered to say that i've been awarded one from dearest jade pegler at spectrescope.

last time i got tagged, i botched it 'cos i didn't really know many other bloggers, but now, my bookmarks list (i don't have de.licio.us) is fucking massive and i wanna give props to some of my crew. sound like a toss? yeah, i thought so too.. ha!

so, in my designer dress I'd like to announce the top 5 nominees for the thinking blogger are:

1. rob campbell from rob@cynic. opinionated and super intelligent sod. totally great guy. planning head honcho at cynic and loving partner to andy and george, the other cynic bigwigs. his blog is solely responsible for some serious thinking on my part and making some really great friends.

2. age conte from in my atmosphere. great (former) copywriter, currentabout to be former junior planner and saviour for SEE life differently. great blogger about a variety of life bits and pieces. all-round nice guy who is solely disproving the theory that they finish last.

3.andrew hovells from northern planner. another all-round nice guy who has fantastic insight about a range of stuff. he also suggests great recipes and is not afraid to sit down and have a nice cup of tea.

4.paul colman from life in the middle. yet another nice guy (although we've not met), planning type with the most deadpan sense of humour i've ever read. the variety of general and personal observations 'from the middle' has this blog high on my list of 'must check before i do anything else'.

5. ben terrett from noisy decent graphics. design god from The Design Conspiracy. Willingly suffers from the design disease and has a great eye for good form, great colour and fun stuff to do.

guys (and sadly for thinking women, these are all guys), if you're going to continue nominating, there are rules for nominating thinking blogs, so check them out before you blog your nominations.

and just so you know, there are loads of other boys and girls whose blogs make me think and if you aren't on this list, i promise that it's not because i don't love you. it's just that i had to choose 5 and, well, that means leaving people behind.



Some cultural comparisons and sweeping generalisations

***warning*** the following post contains rash generalisations and assumptions made on limited experience. things will change, i'm sure of it.

Regular readers will have read my post on Dubai. And while I obviously didn't completely nail cultural comparisons, I received so much insight into Emirati and Indian culture that it blew my mind. When I arrived in London, about 3 weeks ago, I tried to get the same level of insight. I tried to understand London and Londoners (as opposed to the English in general. I understand they’re different species), to get a handle on what I needed to ‘know’ as quickly as possible in order to ‘fit in’ and not make any awful social fuck-ups. I focused on the differences between us, hoping to overcome them and that just got me all tangled up in a psychological mess. Thankfully, last week, I let go of trying to figure it out all at once and as soon as I did that, it seems I’m settling in nicely.

The funny thing is that the cultural differences between Londoners and Australians are so subtle and the whole point is that they don’t really want to anyone to know the intimate intricacies of their eccentricities. I can kind of understand a little more now – thanks to reading DH Lawrence’s Kangaroo, actually. [English writer guy emigrates to Sydney and Wollongong in the 19th Century]

I don’t know whether this is the purpose of travel, but the longer I’m here, the more I totally love Australia and what I have there. Tarty, mouthy, rank Australians still give me the shits, but they did back home, so I haven’t become that wildly patriotic, but I have fallen in love with things about home that I didn’t expect to.

green is for garden waste, the litte red one for rubbish and the yellow one for recyclables.

For a start, I’m proud of how much Australians and Australia gives a fuck about the environment. London can’t seem to get basic home recycling in order, which, for a city of 12 million people, is fucking appalling! They waste electricity like nobody’s business and water wastage..holy crap! Not as bad as it was in Dubai, but still, pretty bloody shameful. And every Aussie I know here (which is quite a lot, considering I’ve basically come from a city of 180,000) is similarly appalled. We actually care about the environment and resources and we’re years ahead. I’m so proud of that!

I’ve also become incredibly proud of our lack of bureaucracy. While it may be misconstrued as a lack of order, fucking hell, we just get things done. And for the most part, we kick arse at customer service. You get your off days back home, where you hit a couple of rude bastards behind the desk, but here, oh boy, it’s a big deal if someone actually smiles at you when you hand over the cash! Yes, rash generalisation, because I’ve lucked out on a few gems recently, but when I first arrived here, boy was I shocked.

The other thing people seem to just ‘totally do’ here, which I’m so unimpressed with, is to hit the cocaine like it’s fucking candy. Most of the Australians I know here have been on it or are on it and it’s fucking filthy, really. I’ve never been anywhere where drug culture is just so cheap (in every sense of the word) and it’s pretty unattractive. I’m glad I don’t do the stuff and by the same token, I’m making sure I just let people do what they need to do. I’m surprised, for such a huge drug culture here that the support services or public service announcements aren’t more visible. Even the Australian government managed to bang together a totally shit campaign about party drugs.

On the good side, the other night I went to the Surrealist ball at the V&A Museum with a birdsnest in my hair, and what I totally loved about it was the people were there, dressed up, only mildly self-conscious, enjoying a museum/performance/cultural experience on a Friday night, without any hint of pretence or snobbery. That’s just what you do, it seems. Which is totally ace. Doing something to extend your mind or elevate your experience is seen as something positive, not something to be looked down upon, like it is in Australia. Little wonder that half our intelligentsia are in London.

And of course, you can’t compare cities with London without mentioning transport. London really needs to congratulate itself on the Underground. Not only is it efficient, but the design of the system, the map, the logo, everything is neat. OK, so some aspects of it may seem filthy compared to people having lived in cotton wool, but it’s fantastic. Even when there are delays on the circle line (which is practically all the time), it means that trains run every 5 minutes, rather than every 2. And if there are major delays on the system, you can get around it. If something fucks out on the systems back home, you’re screwed and waiting for at least 20/30/50 minutes for trains and/or replacement buses. I haven’t had a chance to research the design history of the Underground, but I really want to, because they’ve got the details down pat – even down to the hand rails on the Victoria line trains being Azure, the same colour as the line on the tube map. Fucking brilliant.

While a lot of that may sound like I’m whinging all the time, I’ve actually snapped out of my culture shock quite a bit, and these are only the glaringly obvious bits that still rub me up the wrong way. The fact of the matter is that I’m traveling. I’m actually engaging with seeing how other people live and I can’t understand those that don’t. It is a great way to have a complete opinion transplant and as an opinionate geek, I need that, regularly.

UPDATE: I am actually having a really good time here and living totally in each day and moment, just in case it sounded like i wasn't. While I may rant, it's very rare that I cannot find some good times to live - just in case you were concerned.



the wacky world of keywords and blog stats.

every couple of days i check out my blog counter stats, just to have a sticky beak and where people find me from. you wouldn't believe the search terms that people put in and end up coming to my blog.

i think it's fucking hilarious, but there's part of me that feels sorry for the poor fucks that open up she sees red and find a bunch of ramblings about art (mostly) instead of what google has told them they'd find.

here are some of my personal favourites:

• why is my cat's butt red
• steamy ladies
• woodstock bourbon tshirt designs
• wet ski jacket
• dogs fucking
• russian ladies of the night
• hilarious puns "Have you ever seen a" horse fly
• sexline numbers
• home saves and weapon cabinets
• UAE local chew gum brands

tell me about yours too!



rogier and the studio, jan and text, lauren and her pencils

when i was in the national gallery the other day, i popped into the northern renaissance room and had a brief peek at works by flemish kings jan van eyck and rogier van der weyden. several crazy ideas jumped out at me, possibly from spending too much time hanging out on the blogosphere, but i thought they were interesting to think about anyway.

Rogier Van Der WeydenThe Magdalen Reading, before 1438
thanks to the national gallery

rogier and the studio

my first reaction to the work of roger van der weyden was actually a word-association and i thought of ye olde adlads wieden & kennedy, wondering if dan wieden had any flemish background somewhere back there.
the works by 'the studio of rogier van der weyden' were amazing, filled with such precision and contrast and loveliness and i was thinking about how the whole 'studio' thing works and that it's a badge of honour to be part of a studio and that you can pick the work of a particular studio a mile off.
is the modern manifestation of a studio nowdays actually the advertising agency or the film set? a bunch of people working towards creating a look or idea of a leading director/art director and you can tell the work of them a mile away.

in the age of individual achievements and ego-based creative industries, sometimes i crave being able to work part of a creative team, without having to have my 'name' attached to it. as a balance, you know.

jan and text

als ich kan

while i couldn't really absorb much of the Portrait of a Man or Arnolfini Marriage by Jan Van Eyck (thanks to my time in front of Donatello), i did totally get into the text painted onto the frame of the former work. Painted to replicate engraved text, the As Well As I Can (Als Ich Kan) on top became a feature of the work. And when I peaked at the Arnolfini Portrait, I remembered the Jan Was 'Ere text "Johannes de Eyck fuit hic" elegantly snuck in on the back wall of the lovely drawing room, and i laughed my arse off at the cheekiness of it all.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about text/typography lately, for which i squarely blame ben terrett, and it occurred to me that van eyck might just have introduced text/type into painting very early on in the game.

the text in van eyck paintings is text for the sake of text, as an element of image code, as opposed to an explanation of the image, part of actual 'text' (ie.bible) or incorporated onto something in the image. this is quite an amazing realisation, text as image, right back in the 15th century. i always liked jan, but now i think i'm in love with the man.

could this be the person responsible for graffiti?

johannes de eyck fuit hic

lauren and her pencils

not nearly as revelatory or interesting, and only vaguely related to text or the studio, i thought i'd show you my new groovy pencils. they're not the best for really drawing with, but i was so impressed by what they're made from, i bought a couple. in black, and red of course.

my cute new pencils



how much, love?

Worth and value are such ephemeral things, but i could easily get sucked into this...

My blog is worth $13,548.96.
How much is your blog worth?



a gallery per day: monday

allright kids - i tried it this way, but blogging each day about galleries, doesn't leave much room for blogging about other stuff like the quirky things i'm learning about london, or the weird keywords that people google and end up here, or a supposition about the relationship between jan van eyck and text. and so on. so, this is the last time i'm doing a small one. next week we're back to the chunky digest of 'a gallery per day'. apologies to jade and others who prefer to absorb the info slowly.

the national gallery
sainsbury wing, room 53-56 - paintings 1200-1500

by now, if you've been reading for a while, you'll know that mondays is national gallery day and thursdays is tate modern day. for today's trip to the nat, i hung out in rooms 53 - 56, featuring altarpieces and gilted framed works from the italians up until the beginning of the 15th century and then the last room was the northern renaissance kids - Roger van Weyden and Jan van Eyck. more on jan and roger tomorrow (or the next day).

while i was floating around the italian works, i was transported back to my childhood and the stations of the cross that lined our primary school church. i don't even remember exactly what they looked like, but i remember looking at them all the time. probably while i was tuning out from the service. last year my colleage and i were asked about our childhood art education, as part of creative education research. i spoke about my more traditional visual upbringing in the catholic system - those stations of the cross, stained glassed windows, bible illustrations and mrs vromen, my super-supportive grade 1 teacher. years later, i graduated from a more traditional art school. my colleague, who went to a montessori primary school spoke of coloured forms and brightly coloured curtains specifically made for visual response and she graduated from a more progressive art school. interesting, no?

anyway, back to the sainsbury wing, i realised that i knew, for the most part, what was happening and what the story was in these old works, because i was taught the bible stories in the same way - through visual [as opposed to written] communication. my understanding of the importance of such work has deepened now. not just for pretty pictures, but for education. religious pictograms, if you like.

in one of the rooms, i stumbled upon a Donatello painted relief work, Virgin and Child with Saints and Musician Angels (c.1425-32) (above), and stood drawing that for a while, in awe of the way he created space and what an influence he had.

i credit Donatello with the renaissance. i think hanson & hanson (my first year art history text book) do too, but more people should, in my not-so-humble opinion. when the average joe hears the renaissance, he should think 'donatello' rather than 'michaelangelo', as without one, you wouldn't have the other. but then, donatello wasn't fucking a medici. some things never change.

back to Donatello, i gained a deeper understanding of the context of the period in relation to Dante and his divine comedy, even though they're a century apart from each other. however, donatello, a florentine, created works influenced by dante, a fellow florentine and through being surrounded by works from 13-14th C florence, i grasped a smidgin of the depth of the literary work - each level of hell, just that little bit clearer and more inspiring. this will crop up again later, i'm sure.



a gallery per day: sunday

the wallace collection

according to the google listing for the wallace collection website, it is "home to one of Europes finest collections of works of art, paintings, furniture, arms & armour and porcelain".
i only had a bit of time to check out a portion of the collection today and i've got plans to go back, but i agree and completely fell in love with the back state room. the dining and billiard rooms were impressive and i did love the walnut chair and mahogany writing desk in the billiard room, but it was in the back state room that i fell in love with the details.

the lush cerise wallpaper was classic french rococco style - rich, silk and patterned with just enough gawd to be austentatious, but enough restraint to show class. photography is verboten there, as i guess is taking an impression rubbing, so i just had to settle for a terrible drawing of it instead.

when i got around to the cabinets of blue painted porcelain pieces (probably in lapis lazuli), that was where i went all weak at the knees. the influence from persian ceramics was really prominent, and combined with french taste.... well, as the french couple nearby said "c'est magnifique!".

and speaking of that couple. i was standing in front of the cabinet, drawing, when they wanted to have a closer look and i stepped back to let the lady look. behind me was a chair and i instinctively rested on it, continuing to draw. a few minutes later, the guard came up to me and asked me to please get off the furniture as it's incredibly old and fragile!! oh my god, i had been just resting my arse on an 18th century rococco gilted chair, like it was a fucking armchair at home! i was mortified at my own stupidity and so embarassed. i wanted to go up to the guard and tell him "i'm not like the stupid american tourists in the place who ask if the person who owns this house is dead!" "i'm culturally and historically sensitive, really, i just moved to let someone pass and didn't think!"... but i just would have come off looking even more pathetic than i did.

i finished my drawing and left. too embarassed to even smile at the good-looking door guy. shit.



a gallery per day: saturday

richard serra, back to back
thanks to www.gagosian.com

gagosian gallery
richard serra, albert giacometti, cy twombly and lucio fontana - living, working, making

so, yesterday i went to coffee morning, a cute little institution here in london, and there i met a bunch of people i had never met before. anyway, i got talking to msblogkx, who works for create KX in supporting the creativity in the kings cross area and she encouraged me to check out any galleries in the area and let her know if i blogged about them. i decided to check which galleries were in the area as a plan to go there on monday. lo and behold, i discover that the Gagosian is in kings cross and that the show featuring Giacometti, Serra, Twombly and Fontana was closing today.

i jumped on the tube and when i got out at the station, it was like a ghost town. the FA Cup final had started and it was a nice easy trip down pentonville rd to the gallery.

for those who don't know, gagosian is a top-class commercial gallery, based mostly in new york, with 2 large galleries there and responsible for the careers of some of the world's most well-known artists. the gallery in kings cross is an impressive half a block long with 4 galleries, plus a viewing room (upstairs i presume). the walls are huge and whiter than white, lit by a combination of artificial lighting and huge skylights, giving the gallery a great neutral lighting system. the grey concrete floors and staff all dressed in black provides an austerity to the place which can be simultaneously intimidating and authoratitive and i'm glad that i don't phase easily otherwise i may have missed out on an awesome show.

the group show (if you can still call it that with the amount of heavyweights) was so well chosen. the mix of approaches and focus was perfect - all working in bronze, but giacometti's delicate and figurative works perfectly balanced serra's big, blocky industrial works. cy twombly's works were also on the delicate side, but he worked more with natural colours and found objects - long, lean and angular, which were lovingly opposed by fontana's soft blobs of bronze on the floor.

i stayed in the space for ages, drawing and admiring the works of sculptural kings. the next show at the gallery will be paintings by jeff koons and i'll be looking forward to checking that out. and if other spaces in kings cross are half as good as gagosian, they have a gold-mine on their hands!




shel·lac [shuh-lak] -lacked, -lack·ing.
1. lac (a resinous secretion of the lac insect deposited on trees) that has been purified and formed into thin sheets, used for making varnish.
2. a varnish (shellac varnish) made by dissolving this material in alcohol or a similar solvent.
3. a phonograph record made of a breakable material containing shellac, esp. one to be played at 78 r.p.m.: an LP that can hold nearly 10 times as much as the old shellac.
–verb (used with object)
4. to coat or treat with shellac.
5. Slang.
a. to defeat; trounce.
b. to thrash soundly.

last night i went and saw an amazing band, shellac, featuring an amazing man, steve albini and 5b is what they did. soundly.

if you're not into music reviews, then tune out now, 'cos i'm going to deviate from the path slightly and give you one. (especially 'cos i thrashed my body soundly and didn't get to a gallery today)

firstly, for those who don't know, or have had an unforgiveable memory loss, steve albini is like the willy wonka of music. he has concocted the most amazing sounds for the past 25 years, both from behind the desk and behind the axe. as a producer, he's most noteable for giving nirvana's in utero its sound, but he has also been responsible for a load of other (mostly punk/underground) bands' great albums. i personally love him for what he did with f-minus' last album, but don't hold that against me.

as a musician, he has been in the hugely influencial 80s band big black, the short-lived but influencial rapeman, and then shellac, who have been around now for 15 years! i felt incredibly old when i was reminded of that last night. if you're not into any underground american music from the 90s, then none of this will matter to you anyway, but it mattered to me.

the band are amazing and last night i realised that they not only sound incredibly different from a lot of other bands, but everything about them is against what usually happens in the music industry. albini's guitar has a hollow aluminium neck, he makes his own amps - you should see them, they're the most utilitarian looking things you'll ever see, but they're impressive!; they set up their own gear on stage; instead of idle banter between themselves or wanky directive at the audience between songs, they get the audience to ask them questions (but don't bother asking them if they're playing a particular song or it automatically comes of the list) or the drummer (todd trainer) gets out from behind the kit and does stand-up comedy, they don't sell merch and they only tour every 5 years.

yet they manage to completely sell out gigs and sustain themselves while having a good time. they're the quintessential anti-band and that's fucking admirable. any more anti and they wouldn't be playing instruments.

i didn't feel so great, so i ended up watching them from the back of the venue (not my preferred position), but they were so frenetic yet so completely focused and intense that i still felt involved and will remember seeing for years to come. as much for what they didn't do, as for what they did.



a gallery per day: thursday

Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam!, 1963
thanks to tate modern

what happened to wednesday's gallery? well, i lay in bed all day cultivating a cold. no gallery. oh well.

tate modern
UBS Drawings
States of Flux

After last week's awesome experience of Idea and Object, I was looking forward to this section. I thought it would have been a great investigation of the art up until the 60s, incorporating the conceptual art movement: Fluxus (of which i'm quite a fan). I was sadly mistaken. Overall, i felt like it was called States of Flux because they couldn't find a way to tie these pieces together coherently, so it was easy to label them as flux, which is kind of way off the mark.

Anyway, despite that feeling about the overall flow of the section, it was also a section full of excellent artworks. Seriously fantastic ones, like a couple of important Picasso cubist works with his partner in crime, Braques, The Kiss by Auguste Rodin (swoon!) and a couple of excellent Claes Oldenbergs.

The main image i went ga-ga over was Marcel Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (which would have been perfectly complemented by Bride Falling Down the Stairs - his awesome cubist work). The Bride Stripped Bare, a glass drawing of the mechanics of human relationships and male/female desire is an important conceptual work - more a diagramatic blueprint and narrative than a visually cohesive piece, but it paved the way for all kinds of amazing works based on idea. The work in the Tate is a sanctioned replica by none other than UK pop art king Richard Hamilton and very well done, although i do like the glass cracks and dust in the original.

I drew a horrendous drawing of it, all outta whack, so today, it's a picture nicked from Wikipedia instead.

Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, 1915-23,
replica Richard Hamilton, 1965-6

And just as a little tidbit, while I didn't quite go as loopy about it as I did the Marcel Duchamp, checking out Roy Lichtenstein's Whaam! pick, I suddenly got what i had read and heard in art history and theory about his work. He introduced the idea of craft into that which is normally taken for granted as mass-produced. He painted dot screen! I know, duh. Anyway, the penny dropped and I finally understood the flow on of success and understanding to Andy Warhol (who, by the way, doesn't make me weak at the knees, like he should).



a gallery per day: tuesday

after yesterday's mammoth post, i have a feeling that reading a whole week's worth of gallery visits at once is on the boring and tedious, not to mention ugly, side of the blog. i'm going to try posting once a day for the next week instead. let me know what works (if you're still reading these things).

tate britain
jake and dinos chapman
when humans walked the earth

for some reason, i thought that the chapman brothers were exhibiting the goya works here and although i much prefer their sculptural works, i was amped for a goya/chapman mash-up. however, i must have got it all arse-about and the exhibit was actually a bunch of their sculptures instead. confused? yeah, me too.

the exhibit was a bunch of 'machines' with amazingly rad titles and were typical chapman cheek and smut. the mixed media/found objects pieces replicated machinery that reflected the dark side of human desire and motivation. they actually looked like old machines, with systems that seemed logical and a treatment/patina that replicated metal oxidisation. there was something a little Jean-Pierre Jeune about the pieces too and it was hilarious to spy on a very well-dressed, middle class couple checking out a machine that milked penises, was powered by men sucking breasts and lead by a vaginal mouth. ha!

my first impression of the tate britain was that it was quite a wasteland - hardly populated, although i'm definitely willing to give it another go, especially because i was really only there for the Chapman show.

here's a little sketch of one of the works, just to give you a vague idea as obviously there is no photography allowed (although i got busted photographing the artists' quotes in the BP British Art exhibit).

i put the fun back in funeral machine, jake and dinos chapman



a gallery per day: may week 2A

that 2A business is because i was still obviously jetlagged when i wrote that last post and couldn't manage to count properly. hmm.

so, back to this week's galleries..

anselm reyle, untitled, 2006
thanks to tate modern

white cube - hoxton sq, jessica rankin

jessica rankin in as an australian artist who works with textiles and text and is currently showing in the younger brother of the ' cube. The works were incredibly beautiful and if i had money to burn and a nice, light house to put it in, i would consider buying one. but then, i'm always considering buying work, so i don't know how much of a compliment that really is.

her use of text and stitch was really interesting to me. i'm not really that into textiles and craft, although i'd like to be, so i was really struck by her ability to create depth using the type of stitch, the colour of the thread and the use of sheer material as her substrate. the way that the work was hung, stretched over pins about 2 inches from the wall was fantastic and really did the work justice, creating an ever-so-slight shadow for the works.

elms lesters painting rooms, don't do that - group show of urban and street artists.

before i launch into my rant, i want to give a big thumbs up to Delta and Dalek in this show. Delta's structural-based paintings, sculptures and drawings totally floated my boat and Dalek's graphic work is as crisp and witty as always.

now, the rant.
*warning* this opinion is based on my limited experience in australia and may be wildly off the mark here.

for the first time today i understood why brands, stereotypes and cultivated identities help. not just because i read an interesting post by the northen planner today, but because i've just walked out of a gallery in london with a bad taste in my mouth. the don't do that show was billed in time outas a "group show of urban and street artists" so i (stupidly) had an expectation of what may be on show and the kind of gallery it might be, although the name of the gallery did have me slightly confused.
**[For the uninitiated, PoncyName Gallery/Painting Rooms = Poncy Gallery and loads of trad paintings, usually]

anyway, i went up, buzzed in and saw a bunch of mis-matched graphic artists in a room that was more suited to large Lucian Freuds or James Gleesons than street-level works and my first instinct was 'bandwagon!'.

this is not to say that the artists involved were all bad. some of them were great, but i got the sense that they had been snapped up in a gallery because street art is the big money earner here at the moment - it happens with every 'nextbigthing'. see under Blind Melon.

i felt like vomiting when i heard one of the posh clients in the gallery saying "i've been into graffiti art since the beginning". oh bullshit. you're into graffiti like I'm into Louis XVI antiques: you fucking wish.

calling the show street and urban art was also way off. like trying to squeeze it into the genre that everyone is aware of right now. in fact, only Stash would really come under street/urban and his work on canvas were abysmal. Delta and Dalek are well-known artists, but they're graphic/low-brow artists and are being done a disservice sitting in a gallery that is so off the mark. Ron English was also part of the show and for him to be lumped in with bad aerosol art is an insult. He is a king of low-brow/graphic art.. or what I call Outre art.

now, i'm all for elevating the everyday/street/popular to the high-brow, but that can only be done if the gallery has a real passion or understanding of the art. and i hate to say it, but the gallery (as in 4 walls, ceiling, floor, etc) needs to reflect it. the upstairs section of Elms Lesters sorta kinda worked for this kind of show, but otherwise, it was bollocks. it has made me realise that the way something is presented matters in terms of where it fits and what people can expect.

if this gallery wants to really take on street/urban/low brow art it needs to actually look like the kind of place in which that kind of work fits and huge white walls, enormously high ceilings and dark floor boards aint it. street art/urban art/graffiti is so tied to where it sits - usually on shitty brickwalls surrounded by all kinds of other visual viscera (whether it likes it or not) - that removing it so far from that context just screams ignorance.
[And i think that may be the bit that comes from limited experience of seeing work in these kind of environments].

tate modern.

everyone had been pushing me to go to the tate modern [like i wasn't going to], so i was determined to take it slowly and not do the art appreciation equivalent of skulling a bottle of jack daniels (or whatever).

young will and i were supposed to meet up at angel afterwards, but he decided to also go to the tate, so we met there instead. it was quite nice having an interlude of sorts and a chance to meet up with a twitter/blogger friend who i hadn't met before. we ate at the restaurant, which was very nice, but somewhere i probably won't go again. funds being limited and all that.

so, back to the art.

level 2 gallery, the artist's dining room

before lunch i popped into the level 2 gallery exhibition which featured 3 german artists: Manfred Kuttner, Anselm Reyle and Thomas Scheibitz, concerning themselves with contemporary abstraction through material: bold colours and shiny surfaces - reflection as form. Manfred Kuttner was actually practicing in the 60s and his work has (justifiably) being recently reinvestigated. his line of inquiry and craft seemed far more measured than the youngsters and i really liked the corrugated cardboard piece he did on linear perception.

the whole exhibition there was fantastic and really well put-together; each artist complimented the others exactly and i got a deepening understanding of abstraction through them. and for someone to leave a show with that feeling is a really positive outcome i think.

interestingly, i noticed that a lot of the works in that particular show were Untitled. months ago, someone, somewhere on the blogosphere was griping about the whole untitled thing and to whomever that was, you should go and see this show, if you can. these works were so much about form and material that having a title would have completely distorted the focus into 'what does it all mean' kind of thinking. and in this case, i completely and utterly understood it.

UBS drawings: idea and object (level 5)

this entire show looks fucking amazing and i'm looking forward to spending some serious time in the rooms.

not wanting to overload, i just paced my way through the Idea and Object section, which featured artists from the Minimalists to Installation artists, although i like how they haven't actually used the term of the movement but categorised in terms of focus of inquiry.

i got to swoon by the work of Donald Judd (especially the red copper cube, which creates a red light 'experience'), Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Le Witt (RIP) - his black chalk room was ace and i really wish i could have taken a photo of the emergency exit sign/door - the only evidence of outside life; Joseph Beuys and his survival work plus i had a good chuckle at Rachel Whiteread's 24 Switches work and the projected UK light switch by Ceal Floyer - who would have thought a humble light switch could reveal so much about a culture?

i also really enjoyed the film of the ants transporting the coloured discs by Rivane Neuenscwander & Cao Guimardes and it encouraged and validated an idea i've had about using ants in a similar way.

i was quite comforted by the amount of people checking out the works and their level of engagement - there were art students drawing an Ellsworth Kelly so i also drew one (i can feel quite self-conscious about drawing in galleries sometimes) and i totally loved the Tate Tracks business. I listened to the response to Donald Judd's Untitled (stack of blue bars). I didn't find the point of connection they had at all, but it was great to try, all the while really analysing both the visual art work and the musical work in a way that is normally quite a private or subconscious act.

there will be a weekly visit to the tate modern too and the shop there will be my downfall.


i tried, i really did. but i didn't make it to a gallery. penance has been made.

vyner street galleries, east end.

on tuesday, after visiting white cube, my friend and i popped in to see whitechapel, but it was closed. i decided that i was going to go today. i jumped on a bus towards aldgate east and the weather was so awful that i hopped off at vyner st, hackney/bethnall green and went to a bunch of galleries there instead. whitechapel will have to wait, again.

simon morse
thanks to vinespace.net

ibid projects, guillermo gaivano - ekegrata

from the write up in time out, i got the impression that ibid was going to be a funky, slightly hinky, artist-run space.

computer says no.

the front door is a polished stainless steel door with an engraved 21 and IBID Projects on the door. You have to buzz a very slick buzzer to get in and the silence inside is deafening.
the work, however, was humming. oils on hessian, they had a depth and strength to them that i've never seen on primed canvas or linen. guillermo built up the figurative forms lightly and delicately and the result was quite eery. my favourite one, Equinox of the Apprenticeship>, was something straight out of the occult - the desperate and dramatic worship or ritual, but given a lightness that i can't quite articulate. his palette, while quite dark and limited, was quite sculptural. insofar as there were greens that looked like a copper patina, rust, black oxide and a tumeric kind of colour.

one thing that really struck me was the absolute lack of interest from the gallery staff, whatsoever and without prices on the roomlist, absolutely no incentive to buy. on one hand i kind of like the fact that the work is there, as work on the walls, without an attachment to a commodity. however, i also like to be able get a sense of where artworks lie in the market and whether i could actually afford to buy a work if i wanted. not having a room list available increases the pressure for me to instigate a sale, rather than being able to choose from afar. it didn't really reflect the supposed commercial nature of the gallery. i guess it's just a little cultural difference, but between that and the difference in artist-led-spaces here, i really noticed it.

kate macgarry, luke gottelier

i'm going to be brief: ho, hum.

the paintings were very basic drawings on black canvas with darts inserted into the edge of the stretcher, creating a 'frilly' frame. midly interesting idea, poorly executed.

vinespace, simon morse and kevin wright - light reflecting booster technology

i stumbled upon this gallery, thanks to it being the only one in the area with a sign [even though the sign looked like that of a cross between a mini-cab office and a brothel]. and i'm glad i did stumble upon it - the work was great! especially the work of simon morse - the computer generated images of fabricated technological gadgets (see above). it was extended for an extra week, so i'm glad i got to see it.

artists anonymous, 900 calories

the work in here was amazing and i was pleased to see an artist sitting the space and actually available to talk with. i don't like being hounded in a gallery, but if i want to chat about the work, it's nice to speak with someone who is equally enthusiastic.
the whole gallery had turf laid through it and it was awesome. i had wanted to do this years ago, but with australian summers being what they are, well, impossible. but this was great. it smelled awesome and worked perfectly with the video work i saw, featuring a man, laying on the grass looking skywards, talking to someone on a hands-free phone and confessing to them in detail about his drug-fuelled escapades and the ways in which he hit his girlfriend, also a junkie. it was quite an intimate experience and i was impressed that the topic of violence against women was broached from a perpetrator's perspective. not often seen. i wasn't sure how much it was intended to relate to the name of the gallery, but it worked well.

fred, etc

not open. next time.

whitechapel[finally!], pablo pijnappel

the paris-born, dutch artist showed 3 films about his history and the history of his family and a slide projection of 81 drawings. the films were very entertaining and i recommend seeing them, but for me, the drawings were really delightful. shown as a slide show (a proper one, not online), the projected drawings were large enough to appreciate the composition and craft of it, while small enough to be able to engage with them on the whimsical level intended. the narrative of the story is adorable and i left wishing i could draw that well.

on the way to the bus, i also quickly popped into the brick lane gallery, showing paintings i really didn't like and another little gallery on the corner of brick lane and cheshire st. it was showing cute drawings by all kind of rockin' peeps, like thurston moore, rita ackerman and martin creed. not sure what the gallery is called, but check it.

the national gallery, the sainsbury wing, room 52

this is going to be a slow process and i hope to get through a few more rooms next time. but today i decided to start at the very beginning, the very best place to start.
[actually, that would be at the natural history museum, but for the sake of this post, it's room 52]

this section of the gallery would usually bore me to tears, but today i saw it with new eyes. I had a look at old umbrian icon paintings and early religious depictions of christ and the virgins. i plonked myself down in front ofCimabue's The Virgin and Child enthroned with Two Angels, 1265-1280, a painting which i knew to be a fucking crucial work in terms of the development of pictoral representation. the wall card called it revolutionary and i would have to agree.

it was one of the earliest recognised works that successfully depicted 3-dimensional space in 2-dimensional format through a chair and 2 steps. sounds oh, so, ho-hum to those of us who have grown up with 3D representation in our fucking genes, but looking at this work and drawing it, the fact that Cimabue spent 15 years working against his history of how to represent the human figure, narrative and space was mind-blowing. it even got me wondering if we really do represent things as we see them or do we see things based on the representation that we are presented with? before Cimabue, did people only perceive a chair as a 2D form because that was all they were presented with? sounds patronising, but the concept of learning visualisation amazes me nonetheless.

if i had a scanner or batteries in my camera, i would open myself up to ridicule and show you the ernest but equally unpractised drawing i did from Cimabue's work. i'll be drawing something each week, so maybe next time.

next week - jake and dinos chapman at the tate britain, the design museum and states of flux at the tate modern.



being an interesting person.

Next month, i'm excited to being going to Interesting 2007, a little conference that Russell Davies (kind of a big deal in adland) has organised. There are loads of speakers, whose only premise is that they will talk about "interesting things". I really like the fact that being interesting and interested is held in such high regard here and that a whole day's worth of gabbing on will revolve around it! Fantastic! There's more info here, here and here.

This post, actually, wasn't meant to be a straight up boast "I'm going and you're not, nah, nah, n-nah, nah!", but more of a link to a baby project that i've started, a long with my 'a gallery per day' thing.

Months ago, Russell (yes, that same Russell) posted a list about how to be interesting (and consequently, interested) and a lot of it centred around sharing. One of the ideas was to take a photo per day and upload it to flickr. I quite liked this idea, as the random images I capture can say something about what I'm looking at in the world and encourage others to the same. So, on my flickr account, i set up a monthly set called 'happysnaps'. April was a bit haphazard. May has been a little more frequent and I'm hoping that i finally get into the groove of it by June :) I haven't quite worked out how to organise them well on a free account, so at the moment they're all in one. Once I figure that out, I'll post another one of these lame posts! Yay!

So, basically, this was a very long-winded post to say - hey, check out what i'm looking at. Sorry about that.

UPDATE: My gorgeous friend, super-talented artist and fellow flickr fiend, jade pegler felt sorry for me and bought me a flickr pro account. so, now my happysnaps (and other art pics) are organised and pretty easy to navigate. everyone say thank you to jade. thanks jade!!



that nike rant

When I was in the UAE, we popped in the Sahara Centre mall in Sharjah to do some people watching and really get a ‘normal’ Emirati experience. (see the previous post about malls in the UAE, if you don’t believe me)

I had been doing a lot of thinking about how different it is (for me) over there and how companies wanting/needing to have an Arabic/middle eastern market need to take lots of different cultural things into consideration. Things like how their logo might read in Arabic (Pizza Hut doesn’t translate well, believe me), and whether their ethos is suitable.

Because Age and I have this regular sparring match about Nike, I made a point of going into the Nike store in the mall and analysing whether Nike were doing what I would expect a sophisticated global brand like them to be doing and adapting their brands to consumers, whatever the country or culture.

Considering that arabic is a major international language and Islam is the world's fastest growing religion, Nike are either slow, mad, or strategic beyond understanding. there isn't even an option to read the nike site in arabic, which is quite strange, considering the breadth of languages that are available there.

In the Sharjah Nike Store, the first thing that struck me was that there was Just Do It [and the swoosh] plastered on placards throughout the store. Considering that Sharjah is a strict muslim emirate and that a large aspect of islamic life is the restraint of self-control and the cultivation of measure, a passionate and inspiring, but equally as reckless slogan like Just Do It, is not necessarily appropriate for that particular application.

Similarly, the women's sportswear section was illustrated with images of hot, sweaty, white girls with sports bras and killer abs. Hot to look at, but really only perpetuating the whitey routine of being scantily clad. This isn't to say that muslim girls don't like being sexy. Under their abayas, Victoria's Secret does a roaring trade. But that kind of sexiness is private - between girls only or for their husband, not in front of other men and certainly not in front of them in a huge department store. Nike could easily have rectified this by having a private Nike women's section, where they could have showed all the steamy ladies they wanted to, but respecting a sense of privacy which is inherent in Muslim women's public life.

Another area which Nike are really falling behind on is by not selling their baseball caps (complete with Nike symbol) without the peak, replicating the classic kufi hat. They may already produce them, but the fact is that they weren't in the actual Nike Store in the mall and really, they should have been. It's only a small detail, but it could really illustrate a true understanding of contemporary Muslim and arabic culture and clothing.

And considering that Nike laud itself on their cultural and customer relationships, this is kind of a big deal for them to be so far of the mark with such a huge possible market.

NB: I know that I'm biased against Nike. I could go on about the unethical nature of them as a company and corporation, but I'll save it for another rant. This rant is based on my experience and considering that's how people base their opinions on brands and companies, I'm OK about that. This rant is also especially for Age, with whom I have a friendly Nike rivalry with, so if you have opinions about it, so free to express them, just play nice.



i went for a job today with the arts council of england and didn't get it.

they said i was overqualified and would be bored. i've never been overqualified in my fucking life!

i can't work out whether this is the most patronising thing i've ever heard, or whether i should bask in the glory, despite continued unemployment.



props to the attention-seeking dead guy

a while ago, my blogging friend marcus carked it. disappeared off the face of the earth. we thought it was for good, until he turned up, communicating from the dark side. so far, he's been blogging madly from the underworld and he's even been on BBC Radio 5.

his last-known surviving painting was the moutain rescue painting and it's currently up for grabs, all money going to the boys and girls at mountain rescue, who helped save a friend from a bit of a pickle.

be good and follow the links. it's worth someone's while.



he said, she said update

even though it feels like months ago, he said she said finished yesterday and from what i've heard, went extremely well. i've already posted about how i felt about participating in it, but i thought i'd post the photos and a bit of a blurb about the works for those who didn't get a chance to get there.

the theme of the show was dialogue and i based my works on the conversations which artists with each other through their work.

white, red is a dialogue with UK artist rachel whiteread. it's a response to whiteread's work 25 spaces, which are a positive representation of the negative space of a chair. so my work is a representation of the negative space of the positive space of the negative space.

hello, daniel (the smaller scultpural work on the left) is a conversation between me and, daniel von sturmer, one of my favourite australian artists. von sturmer's work which appeared in the Field Equation show was a slow-moving white disc with a red cube. i reversed the combination as a reference not only to daniel's work, but to the regular motifs and investigations of my own work. the fire hydrant sign is a bonus for the documentation.

as you can see, both of the works were quite bold; different to other works in the show, and for a while i felt really self-conscious about it. thankfully i realised that they actually made a good balance and added diversity - thanks mostly to sarah's fantastic insight.


a gallery per day: may week 2

thanks to travel, my gallery visits have been a little outta wack. hopefully we're back on track.

XVA, zayed university art and design students

on my first day in dubai, we visited a small cultural precinct near the museum. this was amazing in itself 'cos everything in dubai is big. big is better and to go to somewhere that was really quite intimate was damned exciting! XVA is a gallery and cafe, serving delicious local meals at a relatively decent price, plus art works that weren't too bad. the exhibition on at the moment is student works from the Zayed University. The girls' work was obviously student work, but it was still pretty good. Either they had a good printmaking teacher or it's something that the Emirates are good at, but the print works were the best. There were some fantastic artist books and some great aquatint/sugarlift works. I'm not sure if it was 'cos most of these girls had some serious wasta (influence) or whether artworks are just priced as status symbols, but they were pretty hefty. Thankfully i couldn't even think about buying them.

XVB, Malekeh Nayiny
Next door was a new gallery, called ave gallery, but known as XVB (being next to XVA). The work in here was much more like work that I like to see. The Iranian artist had done two bodies of photographic works: The first, home sweet home, based loosely on Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, but more focused on the idea of loss/redemption, they featured two 'children' on a journey through the desert and with associations of personal struggle. They were great, but the work in the second room was better. Or perhaps more to my liking. Backlit photographic works of 'street saints' - mostly Romanian people in Paris posing with a copy of the street magazine L'Itinerant (kind of like The Big Issue) featuring Jesus and his Friends. It had the right amount of kitch, drama, politics and craft to really float my boat.

The gallery is only a month old, according to the gallery assistant and I hope it gets the support it deserves. Contemporary international work in Dubai is few and far between and mostly geared towards tourists or the status-seeking wealthy. I think investigative artwork is only just starting to bloom, but it's great to see the work that is appearing there.

sharjah art museum, sharjah biennial
sharjah is the next emirate over from dubai. it's far more conservative and i had to make sure i was appropriately covered. [tattoo]tank girl's arse could not be seen.

after midday prayer and when the art museum opened, we were able to spend some time going through one of the major venues for this year's biennial. i'm so glad that my trip coincided with this arts festival. i wish i could say that i planned it that way, but i didn't. i should have though.

the theme of the biennial is still life: art, ecology and the politics of change - a fantastic theme, especially for the emirates and right throughout the middle east. it's so charged on all fronts and whilst it's difficult (ie illegal) to speak out openly against the government and its decisions in the emirates, especially sharjah, the artists have been able to tackle important issues with poignancy and even a sense of humour. as i posted previously, the emirates is one of the biggest building sites at the moment and concern for the environment hasn't really come into fashion there, like it rightly has in other nations. hell, even basic kerbside recycling is non-existent! the land is being pushed and pulled about and convenience/luxury comes at any cost. i was so pleased to see, though, that it's not just privileged westerners like me who seem to give a fuck about this, which was a relief.

some of the works from the museum which stood out for me included e-xplo's map of sharjah and conversations with workers (grossly underpaid and exploited immigrants helping to building the place), simon starling's sinking boat - medium format slide documentation of a small steam boat (with its own name, which i can't remember and didn't take note) being consumed by itself to feed it's own power. it was an amazingly powerful analogy that i'm surprised more people didn't go as ga-ga over it as i did!

simon starling,projector

anyway, there were three other major stand-out works for me at the biennial here (and i didn't make notes of their names, 'cos i figured i would get the catalogue - not true): Yellow Cow which was an installation of a supermarket style fridge section and the artist had made up 'yellow cow' milk and cheese which were "ethically reduced" dairy products, a dig at such wilfull consumption; the humidographic work, which raised the temperature of the gallery over the period of the biennial by 2º and plotting the rise and fall in humidity in the gallery during that time. It was a nice dig at climate change and climate manufacture. The other awesome work i loved was by Michael Rakowitz who created a 'museum display' containing replicas of important cultural and archaelogical works that were trashed or stolen when the National Museum of Iraq was looted during the US invasion and fall of the Hussein regime. The works were re-created using the packaging of iraqi products and brands, which was witty but it was shocking to read about the vital clues to history that have been lost forever. It also re-iterated the importance culture has on the identity of a nation. The coolest thing about Michael's exhibit, though, was not actually the thought-provoking works, but the rockin' soundtrack of Smoke On the Water played on the oud and other traditional middle-eastern instruments and sung with a lebanese accent. It was r.o.c.k!

sharjah expo centre, sharjah biennale

so, i really enjoyed the work at the art museum, but once i got to the expo centre, i realised that it had been the poorer cousin. the exhibition in the expo centre shat all over the other one and i was stoked to see some impressive works with a lot more maturity to it. when you first walk in the door, mona hatoum's globe glares at you in bright neon red and well, i couldn't help but fall in love with it at first sight. there were a tonne of great exhibits and i don't have the time to go through them all, but i'll just give shout-outs to the top-guns:
-mona hatoum's globe
-cornelia park - she's my new best friend right now - loving her work - the fire wood hanging cube, Heart of Darkness and the Noam Chomsky in Massechusetts video. Her third video work wasn't working on the day, which was a little disappointing.
-sergio vega's steel pole orchard with hammocks slung from them
-the overhead sol project was great - thousands of white A4 sheets pegged from lines, which looked like waves, sails, solar panels - gorgeous and calm.
-mounir fatmi's video tape city skyline and city skyline tables.
and lara baladi's kaleidescope of electronic images. that was fan-fucking-tastic! i could have watched it for hours, but it did my head in.

the other great thing about the expo venue too, was the character of the actual display. the false walls and the scaffolding were still bare, like the guts and structure - the underbelly of the exhibition were still left exposed. i couldn't work out whether it was from laziness or a desire to express a desire to be transparent and vulerable, but either way, it was a great touch. i think i actually liked being jolted out of my pristine white cube expectations! well, whaddya know.

sincere apologies for lack of details. like i said, had planned to get the catalogue and then realised that it was out of my league, financially.

motherfucking time on a motherfucking plane. no gallery visit.

monday. bank holiday. no time to dilly-dally. in london, plenty of galleries to see!
national gallery of london, permanent collection orientation and leon kossof, drawings from paintings.

being a bank holiday, i was a bit suspect on heading into a major tourist gallery, in the middle of tourist centre (trafalgar square) when everybody was out and about. surprisingly, it wasn't actually too bad. i didn't want to spend ages there because i've made a decision to go to the national gallery once a week for the six months i'm here. so, in preparation for that, i just did a quick squizz around the collection. i didn't go mental, managed to hold back on falling in love every 5 seconds and oriented myself. i have a feeling i'll be spending a lot of time in the reubens room, the italian room and the picasso room.

in keeping with the idea of living in the gallery, i was stoked to be able to see the leon kossof drawing show. kossof, as well as auerbach and bacon, is one of my favourite brit post-war boys and his methodical craft of drawing from the national gallery collection is one which i not only admire, but can see the benefits of. my old painting teacher used to go on about leon's habits in front of the collection and i see why.

the etchings were actually more engaging for me, with sharper lines and richer blacks, but the structure and study in the drawings really reminded me why i love drawing. the national art school drawing department instilled in me a love of this kind of investigation and standing in front of years' worth of "looking and putting" all made sense.

there was a little video that accompanied the exhibition, which was informative to a degree, but i felt like Colin Wiggins was just reading from the catalogue. I would have liked to hear from Leon Kossof himself, and while Ann Dowker, his friend and printmaking master was informative and engaging, it wasn't quite as good as it could have been.

I left the gallery only have spend £1.40 on a cup of tea, but have plans to save up my pennies (literally) and buy a whole bunch of books from the shop as a treat, once a month. well, that's the plan at the moment - we shall see once i start joining the masses of the underpaid antipodean.



i don't know why you say dubai, when i say hello

that's the second pun i've made that makes me groan. i really should stop that, i've got a lot of blog post titles to write and i don't want to a) alienate too many of you and b) run out of material.

so, as you may have guessed, I'm in dubai. it is an amazing place,a bloody anomaly and I think unless you’ve been here, I can’t even really explain it. I’m grateful that I have a sense of wonderment and that I’m willing to accept Dubai on Dubai’s terms. That I’m not expecting Melbourne in the desert (or something similar).

Firstly, I’m glad I came here knowing someone (well). One of my best friends lives here and as a result of that, I was met at the airport this morning by a wonderful lady in a bright yellow jacket who was part of the marhaba service. Dianne from Marhaba took me on a golf-cart ride through the very large airport, whisked me through passport control without a drama (and thanks to my tattoos, piercings and slightly odd hair colour, that's a huge deal) and organised for a porter to carry my bags. all of this was organised (and paid for)by my friend and I’m so grateful for it. If you are ever coming here, take note. The ladies in the golden jackets are saviours.

My first day here was kind of about managing jetlag and saying a quick 'toodle pip' to the place. I was introduced to the heat, the mad traffic and the joy of 5-star hotel lobby bars(including fantastic waffles were great!)as a place to wait for a taxi after trying for 45 mintues in 38C heat on the street. We also went to the Dubai museum, which needs a serious kick up the backside in terms of really cataloguing their exhibits, and a couple of galleries, saw a fantastic exhibition by an Iranian Parisienne and ate some amazing food. Yes, I may have almost passed out from jetlag, but that didn’t stop me. I'll talk more about the art later.

jumeira beach, not the one we paid for.

After another nap, we had some tea (dahl) and then trotted off to the beach park. Coming from Australia and especially Sydney/Wollongong, having to pay to get into the park so you can go to the beach was very strange for me. The beaches and parks are packed at night here, especially in Summer because the heat is fucking unbearable. Mostly Indian,Pakistani and Filipino families hang out in the park (there is a huge Indian/Filipino population which make up most of the labour force), squeezing in some time together before heading back to one of their 2 jobs.

Day 2 in Dubai was definitely tourist day. Otherwise known as art and architecture day. And by the end of it, I was beat. So tired that I didn’t even get the chance to do the one thing that I had wanted to do hear for ages, which was go dancing at the Palm, an Ethiopian club in Dubai. Dammit!

madinat jumeira souk, the canal system and al burj al arab.
otherwise known as the postcard shot

Anyway, I digress. In one day, I got to see the breadth of Emirati architecture here and for me it highlighted the breadth (and confusion) of heritage and experience here. Not that I’ve been around the world to compare, but it feels like the Emiratis have attached status to architecture more than anywhere else in the world. Dubai, especially, is an architect’s wet dream. There are new buildings going up every goddamn second. And I don’t mean the 20 storey monstrosities that we complain about in our whitebread suburbs in Australia (and maybe in other cities too), but I mean some serious buildings going up. Huge 70, 80, 100 storey things with the most amazing and contemporary designs you’ve ever seen. Sydney and Melbourne have some pretty spiffy buildings, designed by some amazing architects, but the architects working in Dubai shit all over them.

a small section of the architecture - in a city smaller than melbourne

There are bowed buttresses, split buildings, wind-tower inspired works, circular buildings, spires, wings, you name it, the new buildings here have got them. I’m sure they’ve been designed with some kind of function in mind, but it sure feels like the kids have been given a massive budget and told to design the coolest looking building they can. And it seems they've also been told not to worry about context, landscape, practicality or ventilation, no need. There is no context because Dubai has only been around as a modern city for about 2 seconds; The landscape is the equivalent of a white canvas (read: desert and a bunch of other new buildings) and ventilation? Allah invented air conditioning, so don’t worry about it.

dubai marina

I really know fuck-all about architecture, but I’m super-interested in it as a manifestation of a society’s identity and its relationship with itself and others. And in this context, Dubai is fucking amazing! and I could spend a lot of time burrowing into the complexities of the place. I’ve bought an architecture magazine to try and get some enlightenment and hope to find a book on the Emirates and its relationship to architecture. If anyone out knows some more or can point me in the right direction, tell me more!

The diversity of environments that I had the pleasure of visiting yesterday included Jumeira - which is s.wank.y, the infamous Burj Al Arab - which I only found out was in Dubai on the plane, Madinat Souk, which is in an amazing resort and based on old mud-brick wind-tower style buildings, the new Dubai Marina -biggest building site in the world, man, Sharjah University City – based on a mash-up of the Champs Élyseès and the entranceway to the Taj Mahal, Sharjah desert, Sharjah Art Museum – an amazing classic building which also houses the Sheik’s [gauche] art collection and the Blue Souk. Then my head exploded and I had to go home and go to bed.

sharjah mosque on the corniche

I think it’s going to take me a good couple of months to really process the intensity of experience I had yesterday, so I’m glad I took photos. I usually hate being one of those touristy types that spends half the time looking through the lens, but with the barrage of amazing sites, I really needed to record it in some way so that I can go back to it.
I’ll do a separate post about the art in the Emirates to include XVA/XVB and Sharjah Biennale 07.

I’m heading to London tomorrow morning so today we’re just going to chill out, check out the Emirates Mall and Ski Dubai. And if you think that sounds lame, hanging out in the mall is what is done here. It’s nothing like Mall Boy or Mall Rats. Malls here are iunder cover, air-conditioned and the main place where people can interact – families and young ones alike. It’s like Cooper Pedy above ground, kinda. And yes, full of western stores and companies. (BTW, Age, i'm going to post about Nike in the UAE, just for you!)

One or two post about the UAE is not enough to convey anything worthwhile about the place, but i'm not going to spend all my time writing, so you'll just have to come here and see it for yourself.