sinus pressure building up in my forehead ever since passing the lady
at Passport Control at Heathrow on the way home. In some poor homage to
Bataille my pineal gland needs to explode, splitting open my skull like
a pomegranate in order take over certain areas of my life: cooking, and
reading, I think, as well as my record and video collection. I have a
large section of ginger root sticking out of one nostril and it's starting
to cause night terrors with the local kids. So, I'm very spaced out, my
brain drunkenly lurching from subject to subject and finally keeling over
in a shower of asterisks.
*Mr Franco Noero from Galleria Franco Noero, Torino, Italia.
** I'm filming him and two of his friends destroying a sapling then rebuilding it, and dressing it. We figured out this was a good use of our time.
*** "Design for a Carnival" is something I'm working on. Here in classic press release tone: "....it exists simply as a series of images and situations that together suggest the outline of an event; a carnival ( the medieval anarchic kind, not a baton twirling commercial 'parade') - a way for a community to engage with each other for a moment; full of play and disorder, free from commerce, words, reason, and fixed hierarchies or identities. But this 'community' is fragmented, its 'carnival' migrating across a number of spaces and times. And is what we see the carnival itself or preparatory work for its future existence?" …more tangibly it is a series of images, drawings, videos , objects and events which put together lace makers with wind turbines, the opening moments of house music in the mid '80's, Turin anarchists and Kentish poor white teenagers, base-ball hat pyres and ant designs....." etc etc etc
**** Catherine Herbert. She is assisting me at the moment.
***** Jo and Bridie Jones's, a gypsy family based in a field outside Canterbury. They worked with me on my slide projection "The Gorgies Centre" (2002) which (partly) shows them being established as the offical archive for a social housing project in Manchester. They are being evicted from their land by a vicious and racist group of middle-englanders represented in part by the Friends of Fordwich, a blue-rinse bunch of tedious Daily Mail-readers and their wives. The establishment of the archive was meant to stop this process…
****** Seth is my tiny son; part boy, part frog.
******* Martin Clark: Whitstable neighbour, curator of the three KIAD spaces, writer and artist. With partner Rosie has just had a baby, Kitty.
******** Hyperbole: "Fondazione Nicola Trussardi presents: IF I HAD YOU. A project by Darren Almond. Palazzo della Ragione. Via dei Mercanti. Milan… In the monumental space of Palazzo della Ragione, Milan, the Nicola Trussardi Foundation presents a new video installation by British artist Darren Almond. The exhibition, … will transform one of the historic treasures of the city into a crisscrossing tapestry of geography and history. Darren Almond, one of the most original voices in contemporary British art, is a tireless traveler. For his recent projects he has explored his own native country in search of memories and personal experiences: he has plunged himself into Kazakhstani mineshafts to capture remote landscapes and ancient rituals, stretched time by ploughing the waves of the ocean with an enormous digital clock, and brought into a museum environment the white visions of the Antarctic. For this new project, his first solo exhibition in Italy, Darren Almond will bring to Milan the melancholic atmosphere of the small seaside town of Blackpool: the lights of the dance halls reveal the landscape of this old-style amusement town, while old women dancing in Almond's video inspire slow and moving reflections….etc etc" And I, who can tear the heads off minotaurs whilst orphan children tattoo my name on their ankles, can do nothing but bow before ye. Whitstable, 5 Oct 03
A small elfin boy followed us home in the dusk from a Moscow street market, then sat on the end of my bed, wrapping himself up in an old Kit Kat wrapper he'd found in one of the pockets of my bag. He sucked thoughtfully on a battery he'd removed from my camera. As I stared outside at workmen packing up tools on the roof of a new sports centre he was giggling to himself in Russian, I kept hearing Bakhtin's name mentioned. And then in English he listed, from memory, the last download of spam in my trash:
Lawson Saturday 1 you are so great
He asks about the names Doris Lawson, Williams Crawford, August Sheppard, Valentin Mccormick., Wilfred Moseley. I tell him that is the current style of pseudonym I've been getting. The spammers have accessed the mailing lists from pre-raphaelite group shows, a cast of Dickensian extras, Mormon parish rosters and 1950's Westerns. Some of today's are:
Pickens 9:08 am 19/9/03 2 reach her g spot
I had been
expecting an email reply from a company on the Isle of Wight that makes
Wind Turbine blades. I am making a costume for a wind turbine in collaboration
with a fashion designer, part of "Design for a Carnival, " a
new piece I'm working on. I wanted to film the blade factory. There was
no reply so I kept hassling them. Eventually I found their increasingly
irritated replies in the trash. They had been filtered somewhere in the
subject "Kentish Flats, Wind Turbines, Whitstable." I'd put
in loads of filters to eliminate the subjects: penis/celebrity/pussy/farmyard/ron
mueck/britney/viagra/paul morrison etc. It took me ages to figure out
that it was the word "win" in "wind". Because I would
never trust the offer to "win".
Met with Jeremy Millar on the beach in Whitstable yesterday to discuss 'raft'. He was looking after his daughter, Florence and I was looking after my son Seth. "Hah!" elfin boy interjected, (now in some kind of dialect local to Chechenya) for Seth had a distended lip and bloody nostrils from a fall on the way to the meeting. 'Raft' is a new space based in Whitstable which Jeremy (post Brighton Photo Biennale) and Martin Clark (post baby you have to be a parent to run raft) are directing. There are a number of huge Baltic tankers which moor themselves in lay-bys on the shipping lanes, having off-loaded grain or timber in Rochester and Gravesend, waiting to depart to China with fine UK goods; country kitchen jams, National Trust tea towels and All Saints memorabilia. In between the hulls are empty and perfect for film/video and acoustic works. Retrospectives by James Coleman, Zeena Parkins and Juan Atkins would be the first 3 events. The audience would arrive by tug from the Isle of Grain and then, I guess, would have to find their own way back from China. Whitstable, 19 Sept 03
I have been staring for some hours at a piece of paper taped to the wall on the 11th floor of the Renaissance Hotel in Moscow. There is some building work promised, to take place behind a dust-sheet as curtain and the sign declares in English "You are not going anywhere!" Because, if you go anywhere near the construction work you will suffer immeasurable misfortune? Or maybe it is imploring: "Please do not go anywhere else! We will be finished soon and you will enjoy! Please believe us! It will be good, you'll see!" We do not go anywhere. Captain Mark Beasley, Luke Fowler, a Russian cab driver and I decide to stick it out there for the day, at least as long as our fruit supply lasts. Pondering the sign we consider the 'Electric Earth' show. After a silence that seems to last for ever , Vladimir the cab driver says he isn't sure about the Tillman's piece. I splutter an agreement. I like Wolfgang's work but was struggling to see the point of his video of night club lighting set to the most anodine piece of techno I'd heard. It sounded like low budget library music for a corporate video and the visuals showed what looked like library cut-aways for night club scenes in '80's Brazilian soap operas. Despite this, (although having described it, I'm now beginning to get it. With this crazy 'library' thing, Wolfgang might be onto something!) it had commandeered the biggest physical space in the show for itself.
"Interim here,…we insist; if you want the German, it has to have its own space, a goose down DVD cover and be really quite loud and big. And build us some walls!" Luke and I wondered why we don't ask for walls to be moved a few inches in order to affect the "intense -commitment-to-our- project" routines.
As part of a conversation about stroppy gallery technicians, pedantic artists, and neurotic gallerists at the 1997 Venice Biennale, Captain Mark Beasley freely improvises an analogy about when the band he was in, "Ned's Atomic Dustbin" supported "Screwdriver" the pin head 'Oi!' band championed by Garry Bushell and other Neo -Nazis. Beasley 'supported' them in the gladiatorial sense of "you can warm up the crowd" rather than 'support' as in the sense of counselling, deep empathy, 'we share your pain' kind of a thing.
We had been having a lot of our fruit confiscated on the entrance to bars. We carry bananas around in our bags under the illusion that it is 1983 and this is our only hope of eating plant life in Russia. Russian bouncers guard fruit bowls at the doors of clubs and painstakingly have to keep on altering their elaborate displays as kiwi fruit, coats and Kalashnikovs are returned to their departing owners. Fruit and vegetable bouncers should be established in Whitstable, where I'm living. Whitstable is very little and is in East Kent. Kent tried to sell itself as "The Garden of England" (more garden centre than garden). Kent's other angle is as "The Gateway to Europe", (making it simultaneously one of the most xenophobic counties in the UK). So, you can see where I'm coming from with my familiarity with the guarded threshold/fruit combination.
Vladimir doesn't like Whitstable much and turns the conversation to the night before when Luke was amazed. He found out that Mascha, (Alexei's friend from the talk who had made us dinner,..you remember, her with Mayakovsky's shoe?) had told him that she had been, for many years, the partner of Sergey Kuryokhin, Luke's hero. Kuryokhin was a musician, a show maker, a composer, an actor... a leading avant-garde composer/musician who has performed around the globe with Popular Mechanics, has written dozens of works for movies and theatre, was an uncomprising performer who fused all media imaginable and an ever uncompromising and unpredictable public figure. Perhaps his greatest strength was the fact that he has avoided being branded, categorised as one thing or another and put on a shelf. Kuryokhin was born in Murmansk on the June 16, 1954 and moved to Leningrad in 1971. He started his career as a pianist and played mainstream jazz and hard rock and then moved on to free jazz and improvised music. Later he combined his music with terrific on-stage shows. He has performed with many great musicians including Vladimir Chekasin, Valentina Ponomareva, Henry Kaiser, Keshavan Maslak, David Moss, Boris Grebenschikov, Viktor Tsoi, John Zorn, Bill Laswell and many others. Kuryokhin was hospitalized since May 7 and died on July 9, 1996, from cancer of the heart. There was not enough money for the operation and that's scary. It's scary that such a person lost his life because there wasn't enough money. Sergei Kuryokhin is buried in Komarovo, near St.Petersburg. Now, I've copied all this Kuryokhin sleeve-note stuff off a web site but remember, we are a small group still obliging a sign that says ""You are not going anywhere!" in a Russian hotel corridor, so there is no hurry.
"What was he like?" Luke had asked. "He was boring!" Mascha replied. "Boring?!!" "…oh, er no!…I mean bored" she says, "…he was bored!" 16 Sept, Moscow
On Friday a small village in the Urals who had only just dedicated a new section of fencing in honour of the late Leni Reifenstahl had to dedicate another, on the opposite side of the road, to the late Johnny Cash. The ceremony was the signal for "the biggest mass prison break-out in history" which took place almost immediately in Georgia. Three artists had travelled from Siberia to join us for a discussion and show us their video. It showed their portraits, made of sunflower seeds scattered in the snow, being eaten by pigeons. The pigeons had problems consuming one of their beards. Someone had told the government to tell the British Council to send fine things to Russia, so along with a small display stand of Jamie Oliver cookery books, a calendar of the Lake District and Unilever's annual report was an exhibition of UK video work entitled "Electric Earth." The Russians were hoping for a swap at the very least; "We know what you lot do, but the West hasn't the slightest idea what Russian artists have been making over the last seventy years!"
One of "Electric Earth's" curators, Captain Mark Beasley, high on Pringles and post-traumatically impressed from seeing his art work annhilated by an angry mob in Wales was developing flash-backs but tried to maintain calm. Luke Fowler from Glasgow, the other artist sent over to accompany the Moscow leg of the tour began a dream which involved trying to convince Alexei, the Russian man appalled at our ignorance, to build him a therimin driven Midi player. In a panic I had made some highly dubious claims about the allegiance of "Electric Earth's" artists with the cinema of Vertov and Eistenstein but when I needed to justify this to Alexei discovered instead, that by holding my breath for a very long time, I could see small stars oozing across the table. Later Alexei and his friend Masha took us back to her apartment for dinner. It was in the first high rise blocks in Moscow. They told us that Mayakovsky had lived there at one point and apparently had left a shoe which they had found. Now I'm suspicious that this was a good Russian joke but if it is, it is not in English; A google search on Mayakovsky+shoe gives only this:
stumbled at the start but recovered and pulled to the lead, angled in
and set ... Came Home tore off a shoe in a Thursday morning gallop that
could very ..." www.wizardpicks.com/
So I believe
To make clear the distinction between themselves and North Americans Moscovites don't clean their cars and instead prepare a thick layer of grey powdery dust to coat each one. It is a much better look, this non-look, and should be encouraged. Moscow, 13 Sept 03
Adam Chodzko's work is an evolving question about what we might imagine (particularly concerning life's endings, edges and disappearances) and how we attempt to describe this. Working with members of the public and many media, Chodzko uses the activity of the 'search' and the form of the 'meeting' to propose new social spaces such as assemblies of owners of a particular jacket, the children 'murdered' in the Pasolini's film Salò; a god look-alike contest; strangers asked where The End should take place, lighting - technicians asked to advise on the light in heaven, or a London gallery's entire archive given to a group of Kurdish asylum seekers to edit and hide outside the capital.