to the library
October 13, 2006
My Dead Gallery
is nearly over and I end up on Friday with a bit of history.
Ah, history. You know, old people and bits of paper. That's what history
usually looks like.
And this is sort of true for the Centre of Attention's very selective
review of independent spaces and collectives of the latter half of the
last century. At least three people ask me why City Racing isn't in all
this; possibly one of the most famous independent spaces of the last 30
years. But there you go, there are plenty of others missing from this
and, also, that's history, isn't it? Selective, subjective, incomplete,
The opening is at Fieldgate Gallery which is a pretty big space and more
than adequate to the job of displaying all these bits of paper. The magazine
Women's Art Library, which then became Make which then became nothing
at all is presented as a carpet of magazines in the floor. Other historical
organisations seem no more than a table, a chair and a title. There's
bits of paper from workfortheeyetodo, 2B Butler's Wharf, Artslab and lots
of others that I've never heard of.
BANK, who I have heard of, also have some bits of paper there - as well
as some lifesize crucifixions that are leaning against walls and pillars.
I still like all that mad BANK stuff. It was just so arrogant and angry
and, really, downright childish. I can't think of anyone doing anything
like this now.
But maybe that's no bad thing...
I look around. There's a whole mix of people here - lots of old people
who look like hippies. There are also lots of kids who look like children
of hippies. For a while a few of them play football with an enormous black
Near the back of the gallery there's a video screen showing a short piece
of film of naked women with their bodies painted in a decidedly sixties
type way. It all looks very...free, man. But also beautifully innocent.
There are a few women watching the screen too, wearing expressions on
their faces that I'm sure could only be read as 'look at me there, what
was I doing?' and then taking photos and howling with laughter...
The whole place seems to be a multi pocketed reunion for different groups.
Some of them have faired pretty well, some of them have clearly gone mad.
That Japanese woman who kept screaming and running around and then later,
lying on the floor. Not sure if she was faring too well.
There's some interesting stuff here, but the best bits are actually to
be found sitting down with the website and taking time to read thru the
texts and looking at those old photos of groups of people inside and outside
their galleries. I adore those photos. So of their time, so dated. So
hopeful. It reminds me of some of the photos that I have on this blog,
great people caught up in the little history I am writing; making history
now, instead of waiting fifty years. And we all know what history is like:
selective, subjective, incomplete, random, fickle....
posted by russell herron at 4:05 AM
Blog (16 Oct 2006)
the Blue Room cafe. Then down to Fieldgate Street in Whitechapel for a
really great opening at the Fieldgate Gallery, Fast and Loose (My Dead
Gallery), organized by Centre of Attention. Amongst lots of other 1960s
and 70s British art, this huge show resurrects David David Critchley's
Pieces I Never Did. I thought it had been destroyed, but a suitably distressed
copy was playing in an alcove at Fieldgate Street. CoA's Gary O'Dwyer
comes up to me and asks if I'm going to give an unreliable tour of the
show, but I'm too impressed to mock anything here. The evening ends at
Bistrotheque, out in Hackney, where I meet Susanne from No Bra and actually
get to hear her perform "Doherfuckher" in the flesh. It's powerful
stuff, as she stands there baring her frigid poitrine in the most mannish
way imagineable. There's also a performance from Bishi, who's a young
Bengali singer obsessed by cabaret and circus songs. Wearing a tiny hat
she plucks at a small mandolin, and it all feels very like the Tiger Lilies
shows I used to go to. Somehow London feels more Berlin, sometimes, than
Berlin itself does.
October 15, 2006
So the busiest week of the year in the London art world is over. Visiting
the multiple art fairs this week was on the whole a slightly depressing
experience, regardless of the particular fair be it Frieze, Scope, Year
06 the overall impression was the same, stylistically art across the world
is homogenising into a core of several rigid styles, no doubt this is
market led homogeneity but where is the space for experimentation or risk?.
The Zoo art fair offered a little more variety and risk but the signs
of market capitulation simmered in the background, however the inclusion
of galleries from Mexico and a handful of UK galleries based outside London
provided a small crumb of hope. There were a few galleries and artists
scattered around the fairs who are pushing boundaries and creating something
out of the ordinary and I strongly applaud their integrity and nerve,
unfortunately a huge majority seem to be exerting massive stylistic control
over the market, I am aware that art fairs are by their very nature a
purely commercial, capitalist beast but in the past more variety could
be seen even within this arena, national characteristics were in the past
recognisable and distinct, art from the Far East, Latin America, Spain,
Italy, Germany the US and UK would hold a geographical character despite
its varying media but although this can be somewhat observed the variety
I have no problem with galleries, dealers and artists making money but
for those of us either unwilling or incapable to adopt or appropriate
the market look it is a time of sombre reflection and doubt,
for some, like myself it turns to rebellion and pride in ones own unique
approach but perhaps for younger or unestablished artists the doubts may
weigh too heavily.
gets the art it deserves but how many talented, hard working artists with
strong integrity will be able to tough out this market led obsession with
homogeneity and will be lost. Artists are often alienated from their own
culture with public opinion lagging behind the vanguard of progressive
artistic practice, visual art suffers from stylistic appropriation by
the commercial arts through advertising and graphic design, only the very
successful wealthy artists can test the potential legal implications of
thoughts in mind I was grateful for the respite and warm glow provided
by the Centre of Attentions look at the artistic world of the late
20th century with their show "fast and loose (my dead gallery)"
at the Fieldgate Gallery in Whitechapel, it is a show tinged with sadness
at the loss of projects, galleries and movements of our artistic predecessors.
Karen DAmicos reflection of the past week and the parting
shot of her latest blog entry shows the fears of many artists and reflects
on the losses to come.
of dissent against the current art market trends are there and regular
readers of my ramblings will be aware of the varied galleries, artists,
project spaces and studios across London quietly but strongly developing
their own thing. Perhaps we are not so much a counter culture
but certainly a counterpoint.
posted by golgonooza at 12:08 PM