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Preview: made in china '69: culture in east london

made in china '69: life and culture in east london

Somewhere to put the things that I can't put anywhere else.

Updated: 2015-09-17T09:07:41.788+01:00


Gillian Wearing at the Whitechapel Gallery


I was thinking today as I was reading Chris Mullin's diary covering 2005-2010 that Damien Hirst is like Tony Blair (or The Man as Mullin likes to call him) while Gillian Wearing is like Mullin - they're the kind of people who quietly get on with their business rather than worrying too much what people think about them.

A day of fantastic art in Central London: Bianca Brunner, Mona Hatoum, Diana Thater


On a rare day off work [as a freelancer you take the work when it's there] I went to see three art shows in Central London. The choice of galleries was determined in a large part by proximity as I had a limited amount of time and galleries two and three were close by the one show I definitely wanted to see. As a criteria it seems as valid as any other. The first show was Diana Thater: Chernobyl at Hauser and Wirth on Piccadilly. I only went in as I was passing but I like the way that the overlapping video projections montage themselves in the space that's been constructed for them. By placing the projectors in the space, cross-projecting so to speak it's almost impossible for the spectator to not be in the space of the work. I didn't really understand the work itself, the loaded title is hugely suggestive of some kind of meaning, but I loved the mix of static video shots and hand held travelling ones. This is taken from the press release I didn't read:A new video installation by Diana Thater fills the interior of Hauser & Wirth's Piccadilly gallery with images of the post-nuclear landscape of Chernobyl. For this work, Thater spent time in the 'Zone of Alienation' which surrounds the site of the nuclear disaster, filming the eroded architecture and wildlife of the one-hundred mile wide radioactive territory. The animals she films have managed to survive amid the devastation of the only existing post-human landscape, demonstrating a wilderness of man's making. The installation focuses on the rare and endangered Przewalski's Horse. Once facing certain extinction in its native habitat in central Asia, this sub-species of the wild horse now roams freely in the 'Zone of Alienation'.The desolate remains of an abandoned movie theatre in Prypiat, a city founded to house the Chernobyl nuclear plant workers, form the backdrop of Thater's installation. The city's decomposing architecture is juxtaposed against the footage of the wild animals living in the 'Zone of Alienation'. Through this installation, visitors experience a world where a man-made catastrophe has abruptly halted all progress and animals inhabit an irradiated landscape. Overlaying physical and filmic spaces, Thater confronts the successes of civilisation with its profound failure.I think the show is actually better than the press release lets on. The second show was Bianca Brunner as 401 Contemporary in Mason's Yard which is the show I'd planned to see. There are lots of shows you can talk about and make them sound good, there are few shows that you go and see and they completely blow you away and at the end of it nothing really needs to [or perhaps can] be said. I admit that unless you saw the show or know Bianca Brunner's work then that isn't much help. The show mixes a few colour shots with black and white ones. Pithy, not usually a word seen in art show reviews, is probably the best description of seemingly simple images doing a lot. It's a difficulty the press release struggles with. So what would I say? Brunner's pictures make you aware of the act of looking at photographs, how it differs to the kind of seeing we do in our day to day lives abstracted from the ordinary and the tangible. There's an essay available from Brunner's website [Brian Dillon 'All That is Properly Perceived', Bianca Brunner, Gap in the Real, Published by Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess AG 2010] that may help or you'll just have to take it on trust. The work really is that good. This is my favourite [Bianca Brunner Sky, 2008, Silver Gelatin Print, 50 x 35 cm, Edition of 5 + 2 AP] from the show [my not very good camera phone pic will have to do until you get a chance to see it]:The last show, just a brief mention, is the Mona Hatoum at White Cube Mason's Yard. I'd seen Hatoum's equally stunning piece at the Whitechapel the week before and the cumulative effect and the idea of the these pieces co-existing in different parts of London is something that really appeals to me. The works play with location in a way that's unique to installation and sculptu[...]

Central Line, 13 September 2010



Heading home on the tube I've taken a leaf out of Rockmother's book and started taking pictures of fellow travellers. This is Hipstamatic on the iPhone.

Even a klutz like me takes good pictures with Hipstamtic (sung to a 'fifties US TV jingle).

Eastside projects, Birmingham: Cerith Wyn Evans


Artist Cerith Wyn Evans (from Llanelli) looking like a demented James Ellroy (if such a thing is possible). To be fair to the artist hearing him talk on the video the still's taken from he sounds a lot like a demented James Ellroy.

Here's a picture of James Ellroy, one of my favourite authors. You decide.

Good Reads: The Big Sleep (or Le Grand Sommeil as Guillaume would call it)


(image) The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There's a very reasonable chance that any page of this book is better than the book you're currently reading. Genius.

So way only 4 stars instead of 5, you may ask? As I get older I'm less sure than I was that books can transcend the limitations of their genre. Crime is a great genre and this is a great book but it ain't Updike.


View all my reviews >>

Wednesday 26 May 2010: Toby Young is a Mitchell brother


Arseholes. Fucking arseholes, fuck the lot of them.

Toby Young on last night's Newsnight looked like a Mitchell brother. I was going to say a posh Mitchell brother but I realised he looked worse than Grant, so like the middle one. Not the poshest but not the scumiest. No one does lowlife like Phil Mitchell.

Not today's link, yesterday's, and then it became last night's. The girls next door made it and brought it round. How good is that? I love my neighbours.

Moctezuma at the British Museum


Originally uploaded by Catfunt

Probably not worth £12, worth £6. If you don't go, wait a bit. A lot of the best stuff (like these masks) are actually in the British Museum collection and will reappear there eventually.

My friend Maria's FashionvFashion site


I've been looking at my friend Maria's new fashion blog: fashionvfashion. She's been asking me for tips on how she should make it more search friendly as it doesn't show up in any search engines. We had a long conversation and then I realised she'd only just made it. I explained how Google's elves probably hadn't got round to looking at it as yet.

She has pics of Brooke Shields on her blog.

Viggo Mortensen at Bafta Q&A with Francine Stock


Viggo Mortensen at Bafta Q&A with Francine Stock
Originally uploaded by Catfunt

Went to a Q&A with Viggo Mortensen (well, I went with Yol actually) at Bafta last night. What a nice man! Generous in praise to his colleagues, thoughtful, self-deprecating. We're going to have a small Viggo Mortensen retrospective in his honour round at our place later this year.

Tom Ford, Colin Firth and Jason Solomons at Bafta


Tom Ford, Colin Firth and Jason Solomons at Bafta
Originally uploaded by Catfunt

Saw Tom Ford's quite amazing debut feature A Single Man at Bafta last night. It's based on a Christopher Isherwood story following a single day in the life of a lietrature literature professor at a Los Angeles university. The film's magical and most reminded me of Steve McQueen's Hunger and Julian Schnabel's Diving Bell and the Butterfly in that all three were made by non-directors who're hugely successful in their own fields. There are moments of real freshness of vision that it's hard to imagine them coming from a battle-hardened Hollywood director.

There was a Q&A with Colin Firth who plays the university professor and the director Tom Ford. Sadly it centred too much on the fact that it's Ford's first feature and the problems that might have created. When a film's this good you know it's no fluke and the result of a real determination and vision.

The other slightly irritating thing was the near constant returning to the idea of it being a gay story rather than one of loss, loneliness and how we might find redemption which far overshadows the sexuality of the cast. Similarly, there were several questions to Firth about a straight man playing a gay character and how that works. Er, he's an actor for fuck's sake - they pretend, it's what they do!

There was an interesting moment when in describing the fact that Nicholas Hoult's mohair jumper need Tom Ford's constant attention with hairspray to stop it fluffing up (fashion tip!) Colin Firth said something like "You can see from that Nicholas is very secure in his masculinity." What caught my attention is that he said "masculinity" when I think he perhaps meant "sexuality". So not "heterosexuality" versus "homosexuality", which is the usual binary opposition that is made, but one of "homosexuality" versus "masculinity". Does this mean that male homosexuals can't be masculine?

Finally the beautiful John Lautner house (more pics) that was used in the film is for sale.

Flying to Perpignan


Flying to Perpignan, originally uploaded by Catfunt.

Ryanair flying near to the ground. Apparently it uses less fuel.

Grayson Perry book signing at Victoria Miro, 2009


Went to Grayson Perry's opening at the Victoria Miro gallery last week. He'd had some insane tapestries made and he signed some books.

Fossils radically alter ideas about the look of man's earliest ancestors


(image) From the LA Times. Looks like she had a good night out.

Matthew Barney by Elizabeth Peyton at the Whitechapel


Saw this a few nights before it closed. I'd never really thought about Peyton's work before and I'd never seen a lot of it together which means I'd never properly realised how influential her work is. Looking at it made me want to go home and paint and I think that's probably the highest accolade I'm giving out at the moment.

Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges - Farocki (1989)


(object) (embed)

Harun Farocki



(image) Back from holiday I decided to try and make the pics a bit more interesting by mashing them up with some Lomo and Holga effects scripts. The scripts (available here) are pretty good and the guy who wrote them has said it's OK to mess with them. I did tweak them for each picture otherwise you do get Donatella-ified: totally overdone and distracting from the thing you're meant to be looking at. Pics here.

Glenn Ligon at Thomas Dane


(image) Typically for me and disappointingly for you I went to see the excellent Glenn Ligon show at Thomas Dane the day before it finishes. It's a small show consisting of one room with a film-transferred-to-video projection; a larger room with a single large scale neon light and a corridor space with two small neons and three drawings made of oil stick, coaldust and gesso on paper. The central piece and the one that offers the most clues is 'The Death of Tom', the 24 minute long video set to a jazz piano soundtrack. It's based on the final scene from Uncle Tom's Cabin, Edwin S. Porter's 14 minute silent made for the Thomas A. Edison studio in 1903. Ligon had set out to recreate Tom's death scene where Tom lies on the floor of the woodshed while visions of the future pass over his head. However, after the film was processed the images were both blurred and degraded but Ligon, liking the chance effect pressed on and transferred the 16mm film to video and added a commissioned score by pianist Jason Moran based on the vaudeville song 'Nobody'. The video is very dark, an all-black screen interspersed with flashes of light, so dark in fact that there's a real likelihood of falling over the viewing bench in the middle of the floor. What could be pure visual abstraction is held together by Jason Moran's plaintive soundtrack and the darkness of the room becomes a place for contemplation of what the gallery notes, quite correctly, call 'unfinished business'.

Private Eye: Kangaroo


From the mighty Private Eye.

The end of the project


There's something strangely sad and a little poignant about seeing a stream of meeting uninvites pop up on your screen in the last days of a defunct project. It's the bit they don't show you in Downfall.

The smartest journalist in town



Killing the Kangaroo: a bad case of analogue thinking in digital Britain

"Killing the Kangaroo project is a perversely stupid move which begs the question whether anyone on the Competition Commission has ever actually used the internet.

Viewed from one direction, the project looks enfeebled: the commercial video on demand service for the UK terrestrial broadcasters excluding Five seems like a somewhat lightweight offering compared with the global well of video output currently freely available online."

Read more>>

By way of some resolutions


Having some time off work leads naturally enough to spending some time thinking. Not necessarily high quality thinking but this is what I've come up with so far (somewhat spontaneously and more for my benefit than yours and in no set order):

* The Modern Defence as the universal answer to any move by white (Steve, that's 1...g6 regardless of what white does).
* Read a book about the Modern Defence (or just make it up as I go along - the jury's still out on this one).
* Persist with The English as the universal white opening but with a more aggressive bent.
* Look at endgame play. Basically if I haven't won (or lost) when there's still a reasonable amount of material on the board then I will once we get into the endgame.

* Read more books.
* Read less shit books.

*Watch more films.

*Spend more time painting.

So this is what I have so far. Should I surmise certain facts from the fact there are whole areas of life that aren't covered? There's no mention of relationships, friendships and social stuff. So should I assume that all these areas are OK or just that I'm ignoring them? Maybe I'll go and think about these things next.

The picture, BT, is of Mikhail Tal.

Things I like today


Because I'm essentially a very very lazy busy person I've started a much smaller bite-sized blog on Tumblr that you can have a look at. it's called 'Things I like Today' and the idea is that it makes me do something nice everyday or failing that think about the things that I like doing or even just things that make me happy (sometimes).

Check out 'Things I like Today'.

Awopbopaloobop, Transition


Originally uploaded by Catfunt
This is the painting that I did for the current show at Transition. This is what the website says about the show:

The synthesis of music and art has a long history from pop to post modern, with particular songs becoming integral to the making of individual pieces of work. As Peter Doig recently remarked when asked if he listened to music whilst painting, 'don't all artists?'

Lyrics can develop a particular artistic poignancy and with this in mind Transition have asked over sixty artists to make a new work inspired by a favourite lyric for the show Awopbopaloobop.

My lyric is from Robert Johnson's Rambling on my Mind: "I got mean things, I got mean things all on my mind."

Things I like today...


(image) The Wrestler: Mickey Rourke has the hair to end all hair (think David van Day meets Nicola big-tits-whatever-her-name-is) and is stunning as an aging wrestler in this new wave-ish Darren Aronofsky film.
Places to eat: Tre Viet near me and Soho Japan (for the lunch specials) in town.
Netherland by Joseph O'Neill: mostly for the cricket and Trinidad in New York.