Archives for the month of: August, 2013

The final talk in the Whitechapel Gallery programme ‘To Make a Tree’ was from Ivan Morrison (Heather was busy in rehearsals for their travelling puppet show tour of Wales)
A great raconteur Ivan presented an overview of their practise concentrating on key interests and their overriding belief in the importance of integrity of materials.
Making something have more depth by doing it the long way even if the end result looks the same, he strongly believes that the commitment to an object though a long making process imbues it with a value beyond the visual.
He is also a great believer in the importance of failure –  natural entropy. From the ashes of disaster…

He decided the best way of forming a direct engagement with nature within an urban environment was to become involved in gardening.
This involvement was to become one of his first projects; the documentation of his gardening experience in Birmingham.

Postcards were printed and sent out to selected people stating the progress of his gardening endeavours.

Heather and Ivan Morrison

Ivan Morrison

He listed the colours to be found in the garden at certain times of the year.

Ivan Morrison

Ivan Morrison

As time went on the success and more often the failures were documented in what became an ongoing narrative of the battle every gardener faces in order to maintain control and defy attack.

Ivan Morrison

Ivan Morrison

The Morrisons are inspired by the passions of other people, the importance of family and ancestors, of staking a claim in the soil by planting an arboretum tended through generations, or the spirit of the idealist who builds an escape vehicle on the back of a truck and heads for the open road.

Heather and Ivan Morrison Tales of Space and Time

Heather and Ivan Morrison ‘Tales of Space and Time’. Converted Bedford Green Goddess, Douglas Fir, books, other media

This idea of an escape vehicle became translated into other forms of refuge.

Heather and Ivan Morrison 'I am so sorry, Goodbye'

Heather and Ivan Morrison ‘I am so sorry, Goodbye’

Ivan Morison explains; ‘The conjoined domes of ‘I am so sorry. Goodbye.’ are inhabited by a guardian whose task it is to keep the stove lit, water boiled and visitors supplied with hibiscus tea. The guardian has the vocabulary of the words: I, am, so, sorry and goodbye. These words were first conveyed to us whilst staying in an old upmarket hotel on Alexandria’s corniche. Late one night I received a call in which the only words that were said, by the slow doleful male foreign voice, were ” I am so sorry sir… I am so sorry sir… Goodbye sir.” After putting the phone down I felt witness to something I didn’t fully understand, but felt that we had been given the task to pass on this cryptic message.’
The refuge is hand built from naturally fallen trees in Tatton Park. Made from its own environment it looks both archaic and futuristic. Dystopian or utopian it could come from any era. An apocalyptic future or the idealisms of a hippy commune. The Morrisons are interested in social architecture and how architecture impacts social behaviour. These thoughts are also influenced by science fiction and dystopian novels such as  J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel, High-Rise. The idea of the building design having a direct effect on the social relationships of the inhabitants was part of the thought process for the Morrisons in creating a site specific structure ‘Plaza’ in Vancouver.

Heather and Ivan Morrison Plaza

Heather and Ivan Morrison Plaza

‘Plaza’ looks about to fall down. It is made of reclaimed dark heavy wood, burnt black. In contrast to the pale linear city it looks like the bones exposed at the moment of collapse.

A reminder of all the great cities that have fallen over time. It is an exciting place because it is dynamic. It creates a shift in perception.

The Maldives are facing a very direct impact on their environment from climate change, not a natural entropy.

Communities come together to build sandbanks to try to keep the sea at bay.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

At the Venice Biennale the art collective Chamber of Public Secrets explored east west views of nature. Where western thought considers nature and culture to be in opposition, eastern thought considers nature as a guide, a source of inspiration and harmony.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

For the pavilion they presented the culture and nature of the Maldives as one aesthetic experience in line with the concept of contemporary Environmental Romanticism.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

The crumbling brickwork of the pavilion was a perfect backdrop to the video projections of nature giving an ethereal ghostlike quality to the images – a disappearing landscape.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

For many the Maldives is synonymous with paradise.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

A place for the western romantic to escape to has become a place that its own people want to escape from.

Portable Nation

Portable Nation

Simryn Gill for the Australian pavilion fully embraced entropy in her work.

Australian Pavillion

Australian Pavilion

‘Here art grows on trees’  allows the elements into the Pavilion.

The drawings of insects on paper made from the pulp of decayed plants will over the seasons return to a state of decay, exposed to the rain and sun and insects of the Giardini.

The work is about the passage through time of paper, the artwork, the pavilion, the artist.

Simryn Gill Eyes and Storms

Simryn Gill ‘Eyes and Storms’

Looking at cycles, at circles. Eyes and Storms are photographs of mines. Huge circles carved into the earth.

It will be interesting to see how the work has changed when I return in November with the RCA study trip.

Another artist undertaking a similar project at the moment is Matt Calderwood on the roof of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

Matt Calderwood Exposure Sculpture

Matt Calderwood Exposure Sculpture

The paper covered steel frames of ‘Exposure Sculpture’ will remain on the roof, at the mercy of the elements, over the summer period to be taken into the gallery and reconfigured later in the year.

Terike Haapoja in the Nordic Pavillion at the Biennale questioned the human view of nature and wanted to express the interdependency of all living things, the energy passing between us and through us.

Nordic Pavillion

Nordic Pavillion

By talking or breathing to the CO2 sensor next to a branch on the trees in the Pavilion the visitor can activate the lights and open the glass chambers.

Terike Haapoja

Terike Haapoja

Breathing together.

Nordic Pavillion

Nordic Pavillion

The loss of heat from a body at the moment of death is recorded. It is a poignant witness to the warmth of life slowly dispersing.

Terike Haapoja

Terike Haapoja

Thinking about the natural processes of life and death can lead to thoughts of the spiritual.

Our ancestors had other than scientific explanations for things they didn’t understand and believed in spirits.

Mark Leckey’s exhibition ‘The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things’  looks at the objects we interact with today in a similar vein. As things possessed.

His concept is of ‘techno-animism’ – the blurring of the animate and the inanimate.

Mark Leckey

Mark Leckey

At the Biennale a digital taster was showing of the main exhibition held at the De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill on Sea.

Mark Leckey at The De La Warr Pavilion

Mark Leckey at The De La Warr Pavilion

Felix the Cat – the first image ever transmitted on TV

Mark Leckey The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

Mark Leckey The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

The exhibition was presented as a collection of objects that all talk, literally or metaphorically, to each other.

Mark Leckey The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

Mark Leckey The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

I was interested in the backdrop image which is Piero di Cosimo The Forest Fire c1495-1508.

The painting is thought to show the birth of civilization as man gained supremacy over the animals through the use of fire and language.

Concerned with the history of early man, inspired by passages from Book 5 of De Rerum Natura by Lucretius (98–c.55 BC), who traces the origins of life on earth and the birth of community life, emphasizing the role of fire as a catalyst for change.

Roger Hiorns

Roger Hiorns

The machine encrusted with crystals making its original purpose defunct it becomes something else.

Nicola Hicks Maquette for Crouching Minotaur

Nicola Hicks Maquette for Crouching Minotaur

Imposing presence of a minotaur skull, a symbol of the unnatural. A monster created from desire that cannot be controlled.

Doesn’t feel impossible.

William Blake believed he was visited by spirits from other worlds in his imagination.

William Blake The Ghost of a Flea

William Blake The Ghost of a Flea

This is his record of the spirit of a flea which has undergone a demonic transformation inhabited by the souls of bloodthirsty men.

Possession.

At the Biennale in the Belgium pavilion Berlinde De Bruyckere created a mausoleum.

Berlinde De Bruyckere's 'Cripplewood'

Berlinde De Bruyckere’s ‘Cripplewood’

A tree is cast in wax, it is then traced with blood red veins and pink mottled flesh. A process of metamorphosis has begun.

Berlinde De Bruyckere's 'Cripplewood'

Berlinde De Bruyckere’s ‘Cripplewood’

Bound with what appears to be bloodied bandages and laying on its side, the trees limbs take on the fragile nature of the bones of a giant disfigured human corpse.

The circle of life, the exchange of energy is something that Lin Xue wanted to convey in his detailed fantastical landscape drawings made with sharpened bamboo and ink.

Lin Xue

Lin Xue

The “Treasuries of Knowledge” exhibition by Khaled Zaki and Muhammad Banaw for Egypt looked at the two cycles of the universe – the first infinite cycle of nature and the second cycle of humanity continuously walking the earth.

“Treasure of Knowledge”  Khaled Zaki and Muhammad Banaw

“Treasuries of Knowledge” Khaled Zaki and Muhammad Banaw

At the point where the two cycles overlap is the point of creation, of wisdom and where such mysteries as knowledge of the afterlife might be found.

Lara Almarcegui is also interested in renewal.

Lara Almarcegui

Lara Almarcegui

Working at the boundary of urban regeneration and natural decay she filled the Spanish pavilion with builders rubble.

Mirroring the unpredictable power of a landslide the mounds of rock look like they could keep pouring into the room.

There is a strong smell of brick dust also filling the space and adding to the slight sense of claustrophobia, that you might be trapped, or can’t breathe.

Lara Almarcegui

Lara Almarcegui

The mound of smashed glass though is quite seductive, it sparkles like ice. You want to make crunching footsteps over it and gather it up to see the light play on its shattered surface.

The materials of construction are presented in their raw form. Buildings mechanically broken down to be reused and dispersed into other landscapes.

Gina Soden’s painterly photographs on the other hand depict nature slowly reclaiming abandoned and derelict buildings left to ruin.

Gina Soden

Gina Soden

Showing at ‘Natural Selection’ at The Fine Art Society she captures the beauty of decay. There is a nostalgia here, a sense of the past crumbling away before us, returning to the earth.

Where Gina Soden looks at nature reclaiming ancient buildings, Paul Davies celebrates the dynamic juxtaposition of the clean lines of architecture in an organic setting.

Paul Davies

Paul Davies Modern Cathedral Invert

The balance of power between nature and the manmade is explored in his highly textured paintings of modernist buildings in dramatic landscapes.

The forest becomes the cathedral.

I was intrigued to find that the name for the unfurled heads of fern is shared by a Bishop’s staff of office – Crosier.

1308 Succession ve 1 1308 Succession ve 3 1308 Succession ve 6

I have finished this set of prints. The title is ‘Succession’.

As the ice retreats; from first life to ferns to first trees to forests to man to religion.

A few people have seen the prints now, the majority do not spot the embryos tucked in the furls of the fern unless I push them to look harder.

I like things to be hidden so I think it’s OK this is the case.

I also did some with more colour but am happiest with the grey tone ones.

1308 Succession ve 2 1308 Succession ve 4 1308 Succession ve 5

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Who gets more visceral than Matthew Barney.

Matthew Barney 'Cremaster'

Matthew Barney ‘Cremaster’

I went to hear him in conversation with Jonathan Bepler. Together they are developing a new film project ‘River of Fundament’.

River of Fundament

River of Fundament

The starting point for this project is Norman Mailers 1983 novel ‘Ancient Evenings’ which tells stories of reincarnation, mythology, violent and hyper sexual gods from the age of the pharaohs in Egypt. I haven’t read this book but it is described by readers as anything from a literary masterpiece of astounding brilliance, the greatest gay love story ever told though to disgusting grotesque violence and simply masturbating shit onto the page.

Matthew Barney, Ancient Evenings: Ba Libretto, 2009, Ink, graphite and gold leaf on paperback copy of Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer, on carved salt base

Matthew Barney, Ancient Evenings: Ba Libretto, 2009, Ink, graphite and gold leaf on paperback copy of Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer, on carved salt base

Matthew Barney always appears so serious and deliberating. He doesn’t give the impression that the work he will produce will be messy and sticky and barely possible to look at.
Unphased by a question from the audience about his feelings regarding an afterlife he replied in the same thoughtful manner giving respect to an off the wall interjection from someone recently bereaved.
We were shown unedited film excerpts from the work so far. They get under your skin.
There is beauty and majesty in shots filmed at a steel foundry and there are the basest bodily functions performed as ritual celebrations. It is operatic in conception and mixes the filming of live performance with more choreographed staging a scene to be filmed.
His response to why he chose such a character as Norman Mailer as inspiration is that he prefers to work with a subject that repels as well as attracts him.
He believes this dichotomy of feelings gives his work an edge, a challenge – like the artist Andrew Salgado explained when asked why he chose to paint a serial killer.
Don’t make it easy.
Those feelings are translated in to the work and the audience becomes challenged too.

Matthew Barney 'Cremaster'

Matthew Barney ‘Cremaster’

The definition of visceral – relating to deep inner feelings rather than the intellect.
So a deep spiritual experience could be visceral but not unsettling.
I think ‘River of Fundament’ will be intellectually challenging and visceral and quite unsettling.
There will also be moments of wonder that will be the reward for having to watch some of it squinting through your fingers.

Also as part of The Manchester International Festival was a Tino Sehgal performance piece ‘This Variation’ which tapped into the visceral.

Mayfield Depot

Mayfield Depot

Directed into a dark space of the Mayfield Depot the first reaction is to reach out – when these tentative approaches touch another body the reaction is to pull back.
The lighting level is so low that on entering the space the new participant is blind. In the space are an unknown number of performers beat boxing, singing, or calling out questions.
In the pitch black I decided the best policy was to remain immobile. Voices chanted and bodies began to move, dancing and stamping and sweeping past so close the air was alive, brushing my body so close while I stood, not believing they could see me, waiting for a major impact. I imagined I had been captured in the forest and was at the mercy of a wild and uncontrolled people, unable to escape. It went on long enough to worry how I would ever get out but eventually my eyes or the light levels adjusted and I was able to witness more people stumbling into the space before I left feeling I had truly been transported elsewhere.

In Venice at the Biennale there were more artists who delivered work that also had a visceral impact.
The most unsettling was perhaps at the pavilion of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva was ‘exploring the effects of the silk route and how mobility can spread disease as well as commerce.

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva  'Silentio Pathologia'

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva ‘Silentio Pathologia’

A route through the pavilion was mapped out in curtains made from the flayed skins of albino rats and the woven cocoons of silk worms.

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva 'Silentio Patho;ogia'

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva ‘Silentio Pathologia’

It was the smell that was most powerful and also the sight of some live rats in wire cages trapped amid the stench of the death of their own kind.

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva 'Silentio Patho;ogia'

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva ‘Silentio Pathologia’

Another but very different bodily impact came from Poland.

Konrad Smolenski created a sound installation which was so loud as to be unbearable to approach.

Konrad Smolenski 'Everything was forever, Until it was no more'

Konrad Smolenski ‘Everything was forever, Until it was no more’

Kimsooja in the Korean Pavilion also plunged the visitors into darkness but it was not a threatening space, aware of the other people who had entered the small space alongside you by number system it was not isolated or long enough to develop any real sense of displacement.

Korean Pavilion

Korean Pavilion

The entrance however was a more alarming experience, supposedly a kaleidoscopic light diffraction experience it was in fact an embarrassing realisation that the mirror flooring showed right up your skirt.

Petrit Halilaj for Kosovo used memory to dig into the psyche of everyone who grew up able to dig and play in the soil.

Petrit Halilaj

Petrit Halilaj

He created an earth tunnel inspired by memories of a rural childhood before displacement, destruction and exodus reshaped his world.

Petrit Halilaj

Petrit Halilaj

Able to enter this dark space sprouting with twigs and roots like the lair of some large beast I was glad to exit without encountering some living thing to make me shriek.

I might have had a rural childhood too but now I am firmly urban and terrified of those tiny creatures that inhabit the wild.

Ali Kazma for Turkey explored the reactions we have to our own body in his video installation ‘Resistance’.

Ali Kazma 'Resistance'

Ali Kazma ‘Resistance’

A line of body builders flex their muscles on the giant screen; a group of young girls in the audience squirm in disgust.

Ali Kazma 'Resistence'

Ali Kazma ‘Resistence’

Not sure how I would bring these sorts of feelings into my own work but it is an interesting exercise to think about.

These feelings which are so fundamental, so deep within that to stir them is to feel alive, be conscious of mortality.

130731 (2)

work in progress

Thinking on an international scale can be daunting.
I have been trying to imagine a world before religion which must of course be a world without man but how long was man around first, as religion in some form seems to have been something that emerged very early in our development.

When I think about snowball earth and the coming of the forests I do think globally. Those seeds growing and spreading.

Cross pollination. No borders.

I have been working on adding the fern embryos to the iceberg landscape.

1308 Fern Collagraphs

I made some relief plates of the ferns from cardboard and gave them a bit of texture with acrylic medium and carborundum.

Then I gave them a coat of shellac to give them a bit of strength.

1308 Precursor in progress

I am using them to give a background texture to the fern images.

I will then screen print on top of these to add detail.

What was so great about visiting the Venice Biennale this year was that I found so many of the artists I really like were showing there.
Alfredo Jaar makes work that hits you bodily. I can still feel the power of his work I saw in Brighton years ago about the photo journalist Kevin Carter.

The Sound of Silence, tells the story of one photograph taken in Sudan 1993. You sit in a dark space and the story is told in simple sentences, on a black screen.

Alfredo Jaar 'The Sound of Silence'

Alfredo Jaar ‘The Sound of Silence’

The photograph is shown briefly before a blinding flash of light scores into your retina.

You are left blinking in the afterglow. I can still feel the sadness.

Kevin Carter’s suicide at just 33 is so poignant, he had just seen too much suffering to cope with his own problems.

Should you intervene?  Lucy Kirkwood’s play Chimerica also addresses this issue. On the Headlong website is a link to a bbc interview with war photographer Don McCullin who discusses how ‘ there came a natural limit to looking at what others can’t bear to see.’

In Venice Alfredo Jaar looked at the Giardini and its political and economic posturing of pavilions built before the second world war. He then made a model of the Giardini which gets submerged underwater – we see it disappear into obscurity then emerge, green and dripping only to vanish again.

Alfrdo Jaar 'Venezia, Venezia'

Alfredo Jaar ‘Venezia, Venezia’

It might signify the highs and lows of economic powers but of course being in Venice the water rising is a very real threat.

The whole idea of a national pavilion in the art world is questioned now that artists work internationally, moving and exhibiting around the world.

France and Germany have swapped pavilions and to push the international crossover further Ai Weiwei is showing along with 3 other non-German artists in the German Pavilion.

Ai Wei Wei 'Bang'
Ai Wei Wei ‘Bang’

BANG is an expanding,  rhizomatic structure made from the once ubiquitous wooden stool which has now been superseded in China by manufactured models in metal and plastic.  These simple objects that hold the traces of their life in the patina of years, are part of the cultural identity of a nation being lost to globalisation, just as the individual is swallowed up and forced to conform.

Gilad Ratman for Israel also wanted to question the national boundaries that such a setting as the Biennale constructs and he also made work about  transgressing boundaries.

We see a group of people making their way though underground passages, crawling and dragging themselves through the earth.

Gilad Ratman 'The Workshop'

Gilad Ratman ‘The Workshop’

Eventually they emerge into the light from a hole in the ground straight into the gallery space.

Gilad Ratman 'The Workshop'

Gilad Ratman ‘The Workshop’

Underground there are no borders.

Gilad Ratman 'The Workshop'

Gilad Ratman ‘The Workshop’

Once in the gallery each member of the group begins to sculpt a self portrait in clay.

Like a birth, some new body is forged and given voice.

Joana Vasconcelos also looks at the journey, navigation and passage.

Joana Vasconcelos 'Trafaria Praia'

Joana Vasconcelos ‘Trafaria Praia’

Addressing common themes that Lisbon and Venice share she created a floating pavilion – well a boat.

It has a gift shop and art books, cultural history and then in the depths you can climb down into a dark and warm space, soft and feminine and full of wonder.

Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos

Reduced to basic sensory levels of pleasure like a baby in the womb, soft dark warmth, gentle undulation.

The Instituto Italo-Latino Americano a forum for cultural exchange between Europe and Latin America  is all about how cross fertilization can impact cultural identity.

The cavernous pavilion is scented with spice.

Latin American Institute

Latin American Institute

I loved the animation ‘Los Andes’ by Cristóbal León & Joaquín Cociña.

A primal spirit possess an office causing drawings to appear on the wall and plants to emerge from the furniture.

Latin American Institute

Latin American Institute

The spirit appears in the form of a giant growing in size and then crumpling away.

Leon & Cocina Loa Andes

Leon & Cocina Los Andes

Jasmina Cibic for Slovenia looked at how national identity is portrayed and guided by the state into what is acceptable.

Her project ‘For Our Economy and Culture’  looks at art as a token of national identity and how the integrity of the art commissioned for public arenas may be compromised by institutional hierarchies intent on influencing its presentation..

Jasmina Cibic 'For Our Economy and Culture'

Jasmina Cibic ‘For Our Economy and Culture’

Art by committee.

The Pavilion is lined with wallpaper depicting a beetle which has become endangered because of its ideologically charged name – Anophthalmus hitleri.

Anophthalmus hitleri

Anophthalmus hitleri

The beetle which is only found in caves in Slovenia could have been a national cause celebre were it not for it being named by a fascist species collector.

The official Chinese representative Simon Ma had been to the rainforest of Southern China and come back to a life in the city that now was too grey.

He had been inspired by the dramatic landscape, the colours of the forest and the magnificent height of the trees.

Feeling overwhelmed by the power of these colossal living forms he was aware of how deep the roots much reach to support such heights which in turn made him think about the scale of the cities sprouting up all over China

and the need for people to also have roots.

Simon Ma

Simon Ma

His oversized rain drop sculptures gave a good photo opportunity against the dramatic architecture of an ancient palazzo.

Simon Ma

Simon Ma

Simon Ma

Simon Ma

These plastic raindrops were left over form a performance piece.

At the Manchester International Festival Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack and film maker Adam Curtis got together to create a new kind of media experience combining film and music on a mega scale.

The result of their collaboration tells the story of a new system of power that has risen up in the modern world to manage and control us. It is a fake, but enchanting world which we all live in today – but which has also become a new kind of prison that prevents us moving forward into the future.

Massive Attack v Adam Curtis

Massive Attack v Adam Curtis

So many ideas are set off by this ‘gilm’ as they called it. I was spellbound by the scale, the decibels vibrating through my chest, the wonderful eclectic music set, the pure voice of Elizabeth Fraser and the stream of images – my era in soundbites. There were mixed reviews but I loved it. It wasn’t all news but there was a lot of things I didn’t know about –  Russian Punk Yegor Letov for instance though whether the story we were spun was actually true or not I can’t quite work out. The history is mapped out in personal stories such as the tragic case of Pauline Boty who died at 28 after she refused cancer treatments that would have harmed her unborn daughter.

Pauline Boty

1308 MIF 2

The daughter, Katy ‘Boty’ Goodwin went on to study at the California Institute of the Arts, Walt Disney’s idealist art college, but she became obsessed with her appearance, developed an eating disorder, took heroin and died.

The Japanese gambler Akio Kashiwagi known as ‘The Warrior’ got into a row with Donald Trump’s casino when his system finally failed and he left owing 10 million dollars. Trump never got the money however as the gambler was stabbed to death with a samurai sword before the debts were paid.

Risk management.

1308 MIF

Lots more info about this and other ideas of Adam Curtis can be found on his blog

Mayfield Depot

Mayfield Depot

After a chilling look at the recent past and the nature of control and illusion the crowd is channeled through a subterranean world under intense spotlight to the ferocious barking of the guard’s dog.

Mayfield Depot

Mayfield Depot

Despite the dystopian exit route we were left with the message that now it’s up to us to change the world.

Artist Maria Cristina Finucci is having a go.

There are huge patches of rubbish floating in seas around the world like islands and so to bring something tangible to the debate she has got the U.N. culture agency UNESCO  to grant the “Garbage Patch State” symbolic statehood. This brings them onto the world stage. They are a global problem.

These “garbage patches” are areas of high marine debris concentrated in the North Pacific Ocean, the exact size and content of which are hard to define.

The patches are mostly invisible to the naked eye as the debris – chiefly plastic – breaks down over time, without ever fully disappearing.

In Venice there was an immersive installation using plastic bottle tops to highlight the problem.

Maria Cristina Finucci 'Garbage Patch State'

Maria Cristina Finucci ‘Garbage Patch State’

Every time you throw away a bottle top you are part of the problem.

She is hoping to give direction for good behaviour rather than an apocalyptic message.

In the Emergency Pavilion, a multinational event took on the topic ‘Rebuilding Utopia.’

40 years have gone by without us realizing it.

This exhibition will be a game, what happened during
the last forty years? What worked, what didn’t, what
appeared and what disappeared? When did the world
begin to change? Was it 1973 or 1989? When did
“imagination in power” die, was it in ‘68 or 2012?
Or was it on the first of January, 2013?
Jota Castro ' Here comes the rain again'

Jota Castro ‘ Here comes the rain again’

It didn’t really offer much optimism for a better world it felt full of sadness and lost hopes.

However, these artists from all parts of the world are thinking about a better world, and how art can contribute to imagining such a world.

Emergency Pavilion - Rebuilding Utopia

Emergency Pavilion – Rebuilding Utopia

During the early 60’s when Pauline Boty was studying at the RCA and involved in the anti capiltalist students movements of the time she followed the ideas of the german political theorist Herbert Marcuse.

A year after her death he gave a speech titled “The End of Utopia”. Marcuse said he didn’t mean that utopia was impossible but now we had the technical and scientific means to achieve what had only once been dreamed of, utopia was a real possibility no longer an imagined idea. Poverty and hunger could be solved.

I’m not sure that anyone any longer believes utopia is a real possibility certainly not on a global scale. Even Jesus said there will be poor always.

We have to try though.

Adam Curtis encourages us to look to the future and to think about what sort of a world we want to live in. Our origins are important too.
How much changes how much we learn is debatable.
Pauline Boty is posthumously going to have retrospective of her paintings this year – the show is to be called Pauline Boty: Pop artist and Woman
I suppose that has to be taken in the context of history.
Pauline Boty 'Colour Her Gone'

Pauline Boty ‘Colour Her Gone’

Thinking about being a part of something, how we view and treat others.

Inclusion and exclusion are themes here.

Starting with the exciting news that ‘Incidence’ had been selected to be a part of the HOT-ONE-HUNDRED show at Schwartz Gallery.

IMG_7571

Despite the fact that the gallery quite clearly states the show title is an ironic comment on the trend for power lists to create hype, it does as they also say, perpetuate the phenomenon.

It was a nice buzz to be part of.

1308 Hot One Hundred

‘Incidence’ had been hung at the entrance. I was really pleased with how it looked, hung low against black and the shadows were working.

With 100 artists it could seem packed in but it worked well and with every circuit of the space something new would catch your eye.

1308 Hot One Hundred 2

It was great to find Hannah Williamson also had a piece selected.

Hannah Williamson 'MM Dreaming'

Hannah Williamson ‘MM Dreaming’

Another favourite was a painting by Simone Fontana Reis.

Simone Fontana Reis 'Water Inside the Room'

Simone Fontana Reis ‘Water Inside the Room’

Jeremy Deller representing Britain at the Venice Biennale with his ‘English Magic’ exhibition was very popular.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

He is not afraid to appeal to the masses and to celebrate ordinary people.

It was amazing he managed to pack so much into this pavilion.

Class status symbols, tax injustices, ancient history, Russian oligarch’s, warfare, media corruption, escapism and the idiosyncrasies of the public.
He used the socialist beliefs of William Morris as a motif in opposition to the arrogance and greed of Roman Abramovich who selfishly moored his yacht at the 2011 Biennale restricting others access to the site.

Morris comes back from his grave to cast the oligarch’s luxuary yacht asunder.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

The status symbol of the Range Rover suffers a similar ignoble fate, being crushed to a cube at the scrapyard, and also being subjected to a hen harrier taking its revenge for a pair of these extremely rare birds being shot at Sandringham with all evidence pointing to Prince Harry and his friend.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Tea is free for all and an orderly queue forms.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

A diverse picture of England is presented through film in “English Magic” and is reflected in the accompanying soundtrack; that draws on three episodes in UK music history. Recorded at the iconic Abbey Road studios in London, the South London The Melodians Steel Orchestra were asked to interpret Vaughan Williams’ ‘Symphony in D minor’, UK acid house track “Voodoo Ray” by A Guy Called Gerald and David Bowie’s 1971 pop refrain “The Man Who Sold The World” all songs from different eras and generations but all products of British culture. Listen here.

Birds of prey swoop. swivel and focus their eyes on us,  the public are unleashed on a bouncy Stone Henge, and a ceremonial procession with banners of all trades marches through the city.

We were able to handle a 6,000 year old and 250,000 year old hand axe, to feel the weight and balance and contemplate who spent the 100 hours or so chipping this stone into shape.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

It is believed these axes were for ceremonial use, cast into the Thames as offerings to a god which could signify an ancient sense of community and early religion.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Much of this exhibition is about social justice all woven together with cultural icons, and the British public.

Photos taken throughout Britain on days when David Bowie conducting his 1972 tour map out a country of economic depression, industrial action and IRA bombings in contrast to the colourful escapism that Bowie offered.

Not only are William Morris’s beliefs acknowledged but his beautiful woodblocks and sample prints are on show.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

There is a hands on opportunity

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Only allowed out for 2 hours a day due to the humidity in Venice we were lucky to be able to get up so close and see the detail and craftsmanship.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Definitely came out smiling and proud.

British Pavilion

British Pavilion

The Central Asian Pavilion explored ideas of community and voyeurism. Cultural boundaries and social justice.

The title of the show was WINTER – to describe a cultural climate in which public discourse is frozen but also one that offers the potential to develop into spring.

The yurt is usually a social structure but here it is made into a transitory space for an isolated journey.

Kamilla Kurmanbekova & Erlan Tuyakov 'The Way'

Kamilla Kurmanbekova & Erlan Tuyakov ‘The Way’

The role of the contemporary female and regional identity are explored in the video work by Aza Shade.

Aza Shade 'The Disappearing City' video still

Aza Shade ‘The Disappearing City’ video still

A mother stages a traditional environment specifically to sell to tourists in search of exoticism while the daughter expresses her frustration at being held in stasis and battles to trade her indigenous clothes for short western styles.

The extraordinary development of Astana the new capital of Kazakhstan built in 1997 the second coldest capital in the world is captured in Ikuru Kuwajima’s photographs.

Ikuru Kuwajima Astana Winter Urbanscapes

Ikuru Kuwajima Astana Winter Urbanscapes

Showing the stark contrast of the icy steppe with the tropically themed resorts, recreational facilities and opulent monumental government buildings these Winter Urbanscapes reveal a government with a strong man over nature statement and a lot of oil.

Eva Kotatkova looks at institutions and their effect on social behaviour. The nature of a country’s prisons, schools and mental health facilities are explored in her work.

Eva Kotatkova 'Asylum'

Eva Kotatkova ‘Asylum’

In ‘Asylum’ she collaborated with psychiatric patients to look at the social hierarchies of people who live outside the normal social order.

In the Iraq Pavilion the artists are attempting to establish some idea of normality through performing simple everyday tasks.

Welcome To Iraq

Welcome To Iraq

A determination to make positive use of what they have, and to begin a free cultural exchange with the rest of the world. There is a moving film of young alcohol smugglers risking death on the borders trying to make a living in an extreme and harsh environment while in the kitchen tea is offered.

Maxine Peake’s timely reading of Shelley’s political poem The Masque of Anarchy at the Manchester International Festival was beautiful and passionate.

Stand ye calm and resolute,

Like a forest close and mute,

With folded arms and looks which are

Weapons of unvanquished war.

Maxine Peake The Masque of Anarchy

Maxine Peake The Masque of Anarchy

On 16th August 1819  a peaceful rally of 60,000 pro-democracy reformers, men, women and children, was attacked by armed cavalry resulting in 15 deaths and over 600 injuries.

This was the Peterloo Massacre described in Shelley’s poem that shocked the nation.

As Sarah Frankcom the director of this recital says ‘It continues to be such an uncompromising reminder that collectively, even in the most difficult of times, we have the power to change the world in which we live.’

Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number,

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you-

Ye are many — they are few.