“The problem with Organ and your art coverage is that you’re always so damn positive about every damn thing you go to see” said combatively loud man holding his free bottle of warm beer and blocking our view of the art at yet another East London opening the other night, “I’d have far more respect for you lot if you told it how it really is!” he shouted, “mind you this is a great show, I hope you say good things about this one” continued slightly drunk man gesturing towards the art on the walls of his friend’s show. “Not really” came the reply, “I don’t think we have a single positive thing to say about anything in this show, about the unremarkable art on the walls, about the dreadfully aloof attitude of the gallery, about any of it. You are right we do only bother covering the art and such that excites us, e d oonly write whe nwe feel positive”. The gallery we were in at the time, him talking loudly and getting in the way of his friend’s art, us not really getting that excited about any of the art his friend and the others had on the gallery walls as part of a four person group show, the art that he was blocking or any of the other bits others were blocking at they talked as loudly as he was while taking very little notice of the actual art on show at the opening.
One of the problems is that the place we’re in is one of those galleries, one of those places, one of those art spaces that manages to suck any of the potential excitement out of the art they shoose to hang their walls or place on their floors. I do suspect the art they choose to show kind of reflects that aloof attitude they manage to radiate if you do have the audacity to knock on their unmarked door and disturb their day. Is it just the unfriendly gallery? Would this art be any more exciting if it were to be exhibited anywhere oter than this gallery? Really don’t think so but the aloof elitist art-is-for-the-chosen-few attitude of the place really doesn’t help it that much.
No shouty man, we don’t have that much of a positive nature to offer in terms of this show and we have no wish to clutter up our pages or waste our time or yours (or shouty man’s) asking questions like what the f*** is this mundane nothingness doing cluttering up a potentially beautiful gallery like this?
Okay, you are right, we could run with a piece telling of a gallery full of art that didn’t excite, art that didn’t offend, didn’t engage, didn’t do much in any way, we could run a piece about the art aloofly hanging on the walls basking in self-importance and clearly not really wanting the likes of us to look at it. we coul run a critical piece yes, we could write a piece and tell of how unwelcoming the whole experience was, how it looked and felt like the work of a whole bunch of recently ex art students who haven’t quite got over being art students yet and how it looks like they spent more time on the artist statements than the actual work itself. We could write a piece about how that particular potentially beautiful East London art gallery never fails to leave us with more than a feeling of “is-that-all-they-have-to-offer?” All the exciting art to be found in this city and this, once again, is the best they can come up with? We could run with a piece like that but why bother? Why clutter up your day and waste our time with the mundanity of it all? What would be the point?
And while we’re here, why don’t they have a sign outside anyway? Why do so many art galleries go so far out of their way to make you feel as unwelcome as they possibly can and then fill their walls with so much blandly average and mundanely unexciting unengaging art while they run shows that go on and on (and on) for months when really anyone who gives anything like a shit comes along to the so-called private view and drinks the cheap wine while talking loudly and blocking the paintings (or maybe, at a stretch, they come along on the first weekend if they can’t make the opening night?). Why do so many gallery people run their spaces like they’re piloting giant oil tankers? What the hell do these gallery people do all day behind their closed doors with no signs and rooms full of art that no one comes to see because no one knows the art is there anyway? If I ran the Arts Council (and I really should be put in charge don’t you think?), if I ran the arts council I’d cut all funding for any gallery that didn’t have a clear sign and an open door or at least an indication as to how you get in without jumping through hoop after hoop after unwlcoming hoop.
And no, there really no point in naming this particular gallery or the artists loud man drinking cheap larger thought we should cover even though he has no respect for us or what we cover because we only ever write positive things and can’t be taken seriously until we get a little more critical or end our sentences properly (actually I met an artist the other day who said she was worried about us being at her show because we were so damn critical and do tell it like it really is). We’ve been to the gallery in question, the one with loud shouty man drinking cheap larger blocking the view of the art he wanted us to cover, we’ve been to the place about half a dozen times in the last couple of years (they don’t put on many shows, oil tanker of a gallery, they could do so so much more with their beautiful space), we’ve been to the place about half a dozen times and not once has anything really engaged or excited us enough to make us want to rush home and write about any of it, there’s really been nothing worth cluttering up our fractured pages with, nothing in the politely mundane nothingness they consistently show to excite us enough to fire up the keyboard and share an excited link and a typo or two with you….
No, I see little point in bothering to name the gallery or the artists involved in the show loud man drinking cheap larger wanted us to cover even though he has no respect for anything we write or for that matter in naming any of the other shows we go to that don’t excite. We’ve been to about two dozen exhibitions, shows, openings and such in the last couple of weeks (we do like to go to several in one night when we’re out exploring), in the last ten days or so we’ve drunk cheap larger in Shoreditch (so you don’t have to), we’ve endured cheap wine in the pursuit of art worth covering in that positive way that loud man doesn’t respect, we’ve encountered churn-it-out pop art flavoured street art flavoured urban art non-adventure in Bermondsey, we’ve encountered a gallery full of nothing worth really bothering about in Hackney, been to a couple of openings in East London not really worth writing anything about, we’ve avoided another show in that dreadful Black and White Building in Shoreditch (why the hell is that Nasty Women show happening there? Why do any of you artists allow your art to be defiled in the damn place?), we’ve stuck our noses through the doors of another couple of those crassly insincere Art Fair cattle market things that claim to care so much about the art and artists as they laugh their way to the bank with their pockets bulging with the outrageous entry fees they almost swindle out of the participating artists and galleries, vut why bother with covering any of it? Why waste time covering any of the art that didn’t excite? Why clutter our pages with negative thought? What would it achieve?
Organ has always been about the exciting art going on out there, the things, the music, the painting, the bands, the events, all the exciting underculture that comes our way that we think you really should try to check out if you have a moment, we’ve never really had the time for naming or covering or shaming the things we don’t feel that positive or excited about – although I will take a moment (while I’m on a roll) to name that damn annoying (and awkwardly named) Art Bermondsey Project Space. Last time we covered an art event happening in their rather up-itself space (a rather impressive painting show covered here in a very positive way) the gallery people responded by moaning publicly (via social media) about how we hadn’t done it in the “proper” formal way that’s required when covering art (and no hint off a thank you for bothering to cover said rather good show of course), apparently there are ways to d othese things and gallery woman has a degree in talking art-shit, she knows what she’s doing and we don’t. This time the gallery people just refused to let us in even though we’d been invited to come cover their latest opening. Yet another person at a gallery door deciding who looks right and who isn’t deemed good-looking enough or dressed the right way to be part of the chosen few allowed to come in and view the art in their rather aloof rather up-itself, rather rude gallery space. Okay, so once we’d established “which company we were from” (what kind of question is that?!) we were eventually invited in, but hey, by that time who’d want to go in to view a load of photography (mostly shots taken of the Verve by Chris Floyd) anyway? Art really can be unfriendly and unwelcoming at times, the Art Bermondsey Project Space is a particularly unfriendly aloof up-itself place, everything that’s wrong with art and galleries and those who run the spaces and places.
And another thing while we’re here and oil tankers are being turned and curators are watching paint slowly drying on their walls (and filling in their wordy funding applications) before they can get on with opening the next show, what about the curator who’s response to a question posed at the closing of a rather minimal art show that’s been running in her space all summer, a question regarding what might be coming next in the not very big or difficult to curate in space, her response was, “nothing for a month until mid October, I need to update the gallery website and write the statement for the next show” jezz! Come on! September has only just started!! We could put on three or four exciting shows and have the place buzzing with art and people and engagement while you’re thinking about updating the website and that gallery statement that no one ever bothers to damn-well read anyway!
What is it with art and art shows and gallery people and curators, it really is the bittersweet symphony of something or other, it really is like the notions of punk rock that hit the rest of us years and years ago are yet to hit the slow plodding self-important mostly tedious world of art galleries! Enough of this, I need a piece of toast, art annoys!
So yes, I know, shut up, enough already, So yes, the problem with Organ and our art coverage is that we’re always so damn positive about everything, we never criticise anything. I’m surprised loud man swilling cheap larger while shouting about his friend’s cocaine habit even knew who we were anyway. No idea who he was, he brough up Organ and the nature of our coverage without any kind of prompt or engagement on our part, we were just trying to see the art. I like to not be recognised in galleries, I rather like lurking in the background, I rather like that the bloke at that gallery over there thinks I’m just a free-loader who comes to his space on opening nights for the cheap larger, I’m amused by the way that he can’t help but glare while he digs his mate in the ribs and moans in a loud whisper about me drinking his beer and hasn’t yet worked out that I’m the same person he sends invites, e.mails and social media messages to asking us to please come and cover the latest openings and the art he thinks will excite us over at his gallery (he’s usually right, most of the art he shows does excite, even if his shows do go on for far longer than the shows surely need to?). I love taking an extra beer just to annoying him… (sw)
So yes, the problem with Organ and our art coverage is that it is always so damn positive about every damn thing we ever go to see, here’s another five we’re rather looking forward to in that annoyingly positive way shouty man with beer doesn’t like…
FIVE CURRENT OR FORTHCOMING ART THINGS (in no particular order)….
1: DEBORAH LANYON – Space, Time and Place: New paintings by Deborah Lanyon at Coningsby Gallery, London W1. On until September 16th with a late evening opening from 6pm until 9pm on Tuesday 12th September
“An exhibition of the new body of work from established abstract landscape artist Deborah Lanyon: inspired by journeys over the past two years in France, the Lake District, Italy and Slovenia. The title of this exhibition – ‘Space Time and Place’ – reflects the key ingredients of Lanyon’s work. The culinary term “Ingredient” reflects the sensory quality of the paintings. ‘Space” – the first ingredient – is the primary inspiration for the work. it offers compositional value and immediate engagement with the landscape. “Time” determines how Lanyon physically connects with the subject matter. This can be as sensory as taste or smell. “Place” is where everything comes together. It is the presentation and identification of the complete work. For Lanyon, paint is very physical and she endeavours to exploit it fully. Paint is an organic substance with which she engages and which she seeks never to restrict not led by emotion but not denying it has its place within the work. Lanyon works on the edge of both intellect and vision, whilst giving the paint permission to develop its own identity.
The paintings for the exhibition have come together over the last two years from time spent in England, Italy, Slovenia and France, where Lanyon absorbed from, and was inspired by, the places visited. Some of the smaller works were created in situ and comprise more figurative elements. The larger works were painted in the studio in Wandsworth. Deborah Lanyon says: ” I enjoy the lapse of time between first seeing a space – when and where it was – to the moment when the painting is realised. This lapse allows ideas to be digested and synthesised. As a painter this enables me to keep the work fresh, hold my engagement and keep the work alive.”
Coningsby Gallery is at 30 Tottenham Street, London, W1T 4RJ. More from www.coningsbygallery.com
2: STINKFISH at BSMT Space – “For 15 years Stinkfish has been painting on the street, this September BSMT Sspace will host his first solo exhibition of works on paper. This Colombia-based artist considers himself a Graffitist, his life revolves around graffiti and its principles of independence, anonymity, freedom and illegality. Painting with conviction without permission! The street is important to Stinkfish, he sees the common neighbourhoods and free spaces as an opportunity for people to politicise and observe at the same level. ‘Portraits in Transit’ is a story of the journey of his works, portraits that come from the street and transcend these spaces to return to the street. They are ordinary people captured by photograph, their image translated into his signature bright colour palette and re-imagined in a new context”.
‘Portraits in Transit’ will be running from September 22nd to October 8th, with a private view on September 21st, 6pm. BSMT Space is open Tues -Sat 12-7 and Sun 11-5. You can find the gallery down in the basement at 5d Stoke Newington Rd, London, N16 8BH. Facebook event page
3: RACHEL WHITEREAD – Now we’re pretty sure this one doesn’t need our coverage, but hey, we’re rather looking forward to it “Celebrating over 25 years of Rachel Whiteread’s internationally acclaimed sculpture. The most comprehensive exhibition to date of one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists. Using industrial materials such as plaster, concrete, resin, rubber and metal to cast the surfaces and volume of everyday objects and architectural space, she creates evocative sculptures that range from the intimate to the monumental. Born in London in 1963, Whiteread was the first woman to win the Turner Prize in 1993. The same year she made House 1993–1994, a life-sized cast of the interior of a condemned terraced house in London’s East End, which existed for a few months before it was controversially demolished. This momentous show tracks Whiteread’s career and brings together well-known works such as Untitled (100 Spaces) 1995 and Untitled (Staircase) 2001 alongside new pieces that have never been previously exhibited”.
The Rachel Whiteread show takes place at Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG and opens on September 12th until January 21st, 2018, more details via www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain
4: FOURTHLAND with ROSALIND FOWLER – Permissible Notations of is on now and runs until September 16th at Peer (99 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6QL
“This is a project collaboratively devised by Fourthland, Rosalind Fowler and a gathering of people from across the world whose paths converge on the Wenlock Barn Estate in north London.
At PEER, the artists present a new film and sculptural installation that focuses on a staged performance enacted in the public spaces of this housing estate, informed by Fourthland’s nine-year engagement with people living there. The film has developed out of a series of what the artists refer to as ‘visits home’; as they accepted invitations into people’s individual dwellings they held conversations, gathering materials and cultural acts that could be made public through collective enactments. These performances feature crafted objects that the artists see as an embodiment of the reference points they encountered, as well as an elementary mobile stage setting or backdrop. The objects and reenactments create a liminal space for stories to collide and take on new forms using the language of myth and symbol. The project aims to use the idea of dreaming, or the unconscious imagination, to shift ways of thinking and allow new forms of kinship to emerge.
Captured on 16mm film this performance becomes a collectively produced constellation of moments, memories and histories that people carry with them; the Estate no longer just a place of residence, but a living archive of cultural inheritance. “An endless walk, a notation of the sole – this wandering tale of potential and encounter materialises the intangible complexities of experience into something with edges and ambivalence – exposing, cyclical and binding.” – Fourthland with Rosalind Fowler
Permissible Notations of was shot on 16 mm film and hand processed before transferring to digital format for its presentation at PEER. This will be screened alongside an installation of the objects used within the film. Throughout the exhibition period, the gallery will be activated through gatherings and an open seminar and discussion. This is the first time Fourthland and Fowler have worked together, and they have collaborated on all aspects of the project.
Fourthland (Louise Sayarer and Eva Knutsdotter) is an artist collective that uses objects, ritual, storytelling and enactment to co-create public space and performances. Recent and forthcoming solo works include BearMotherHouse, SPACE, London October 2017, The Storm within Jeremy Deller’s Utopia Treasury Somerset House (2016) and back to where we have not quite been, Arnolfini (2015). Other art commissions include Resilience Lab, Aldo Rinaldi and Everything Happens on The Street, PEER (both 2015) and Public Dreaming, Errant Bodies, South London Gallery.
Rosalind Fowler is an artist and filmmaker, with a background in visual art and anthropology. Her work explores the politics and poetics of place and belonging in the contemporary English landscape through the prisms of folk culture, alternative communities, science fiction, pre-history and the language of dreams. Her recent ACE/Barbican funded film installation was presented at William Morris Gallery, the Barbican and Somerset house’s Utopia season. This work evolved out of a recent artist residency at the William Morris Gallery”
5: CONSTELLATIONS will happen at Lumen Studios, The Crypt, St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA, on Thursday 28th September (6pm until 9pm). “Lumen London is an art collective, focused on themes of astronomy and light, regularly exhibiting in churches as well as galleries. Through art, exhibitions and…”
“Lumen Studios present a unique installation at the Lumen Crypt Gallery in The Crypt at St John on Bethnal Green, a church designed by Sir John Soane, who was known for his research on light and its’ relationship to architecture. The presentation will include a variety of experimental projection-based installations that refer to the constellation Orion, which will be in the sky following the exhibition. By doing this, Lumen aims to highlight the stars and constellations that are visible within the urban environment”. Artists: Mario Abela, Helen Cawley, Eunjung Kim, Melanie King, Scott Massey, William Mokrynski and Lisa Pettibone – and here comes the link to the Facebook event page
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