Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fork Handles

In the basement under William Hills bookies on Charlotte Street is the independently run Nancy Victor Gallery. The gallery shows a variety of artists and projects, this small space is best described as leftfield in its curating policy. A previous show had a life sized waxwork of Charles Saatchi in a pose that showed him, well, "throwing his toys out of the pram" I think is the phrase.
The current show, "Who’s Future Is It Anyway?" was instigated by the artist John Logan, inspired by the spaceship Ziggy, celebrity passengers on the spacecraft were invited to fill a small bag or suitcase with items that mattered most to them and best reflected The Earth as they saw it.
The show features small polaroids mounted on a foam backing annotated by the invited ‘passengers’.
Despite an ‘arty and clever’ effort by Sarah Lucas and a couple of other egotistical attempts at humour, the most pleasing exhibitors are those who bring an honest insight into their personality.
The lightest travelling passenger is the practically minded Mark Lamarr with his solitary pack of wetwipes. Suggs will be taking Mr Pie his cat and ‘lots of fabulous things, some upside down’.
Professor Paul Driscoll would like to take tubes of evocative smells from his past in gas form include the smell of his wife and kids, fried bacon and the smell of his old school and unversities musty changing rooms. Most charming is the funny but very genuine choices of elderly and partially sighted and deaf Margaret Jones who will take her slippers, germolene, some cuppa soups and most importantly, fork handles (4 Candles).
The final question before the departure of this show on April 5th is whether Bez’s effects will ever be released from customs where they currently reside.

I have a group of broadminded, music loving, friends whose listening tastes I loosely describe as Radio Rebelde. Influenced heavily by myself and H, our man in Dusseldorf, this is the latest selection in chart form (Guys and their ‘High Fidelity’ lists eh!).
Radio Rebelde’s Sounds of Now and Not Quite Now-Spring 2006
1.Massive Attack & Terry Callier-Live With Me (2006 Single)
2.Zawose & Brook-Haliko Chijende/Let’s Walk (2001 from ‘Assembly’, Real World Records)
3.Roy Ayers-Third Time (Viktor Duplaix Remix) (2006 ‘Roy Ayers Virgin Ubiquity Remixed’, BBE)
4.Abbey Lincoln-Lonely House (1959 ‘Abbey Is Blue’, Original Jazz Classics)
5.Stan Tracey-Under Milk Wood (‘Jazz Suite inspired by Dylan Thomas’, Jazzizit)
6.Toumani Diabate-Mali Sojio (1994 VA-‘Songhai 2’, Rykodisc)
7.Oliver Nelson-Stolen Moments (Telefon Tel-Aviv Remix) (2005 VA-‘Impulsive!’, Impulse)
8.Calexico-Hot Rail (2000 ‘Hot Rail’, City Slang)
9.Darondo-Didn’t I (2005 VA-‘Gilles Peterson Digs America!’, Ubiquity)
10.Seu Jorge-Life On Mars? (2004 OST-‘The Life Aquatic…’, Hollywood)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

"He's not a drunk, he just has that look about him".

The I.C.A are currently showing Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary’s documentary ‘Favela Rising'. The film details the band Afro Reggae which started life as a movement to encourage young children into music and away from drug related activities in the Rio favela of Vigario Geral. Focussing predominantly on the main instigator of the Afro Reggae movement, Anderson Sa, the film follows him and the main members of the band whilst giving a historical record of the band’s achievements over the past 10 years.
Afro Reggae has made real progress in aiding a cultural change in the youth of Vigario Geral, music and art have encouraged the youth away from the glamour and easy money of the drug world. These efforts have been noticed by the authorities who are now asking Anderson and his colleagues to start Afro Reggae programs in other favela’s around the city.
The film adds tension to the story by following the personal thoughts of Anderson and the worries of his girlfriend. She is clearly concerned at the possible problems Anderson’s increasing profile might bring as his anti drug message brings him into conflict with his druglord neighbours. Anderson recounts one such occasion when the band became caught up in tensions between warring factions.
Ultimately we are absorbed into Anderson’s story, an episode where a tragic accident looks to change his life and put the whole Afro Reggae programme in jeopardy makes us consider even more the achievements he and his colleagues have made.
The soundtrack is great and the clips of the band’s performances convey the energy of their music, the film has a gritty feel and combines a variety of interview, TV reports and location filming to piece together a highly watchable film.

Kate Moss has received plenty of press coverage recently with her recreational activities and her relationship with fanzine boy Pete Docherty. So it was with some irony that I went to see Corinne Day's photos of the 15 year old Kate which are being exhibited at the Gimpel Fils Gallery on Davies Street, W1. The photos were those which started Moss’s career.
Day ‘s fresh approach to fashion photography is at its most iconic with this set of images, photographed on a south coast beach they look as they were intended, to catch the personality of your average teenage girl. I must admit if I hadn’t been passing I wouldn’t have made a trip out for this exhibition, despite my reservations I was pleasantly surprised. Corinne Day’s photos made me look at Kate Moss in a different light, despite all the coverage of Moss’s career and associated activities the photographs managed to make me forget the cult of Kate and see her as the teenager she was when the photos were taken.
Four images are particularly telling, the first is of Moss wearing a woollen beanie looking self conscious but happy just farting about on the beach like anybody’s teenage daughter, the second shows her pouting like a ‘model’ but actually looking like your average sulky 15 year old girl.
Right next to this is Kate laughing, her eyes are screwed tight. This image is in stark contrast with the other, it makes you understand how an older brother might feel towards their younger sister, she goes from being a completely unlikeable, pouting brat to charming and amusing in an instant.
The final image is the one that faces you from the distance as you enter the gallery, it is the iconic Kate Moss, cropped close to highlight her features this is the Kate to be, Kate the Model.
The exhibition runs until 1st April and a video by the Thai artist, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook is showing in the downstairs gallery.

In the spirit of ‘those mobile voices’ and ‘overheard underground’ I thought I’d tell you what I overheard on the bus outside Kings Cross yesterday.
"He’s not a drunk, he just has that look about him".

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Antidote to the tuneless blues.

I went to Tate Britain yesterday to see the Tate Triennial to see what the fuss was about, anybody who follows these things will know that this exhibition intends to show all the latest trends in the British art world as viewed through the eyes of an invited curator. You will also know that this time round it has been slated by all the major London based critics including Time Out’s Sarah Kent and Adrian Searle, I am never one to blindly follow on the coattails of others, especially Kent but for once I am in agreement with her. If this is the best of the moment then we need to look further than the dry nonsense churned out for this show at the Tate to excite us about the British art world.
No doubt the invitation of Beatrix Ruf, the director of the Kunsthalle, Zurich as curator has driven the look of this show rather too heavily. Many of the most successful group shows come by a curator with a lighter touch. Perhaps Ruf did not create the space for a few stylistic surprises in the selection of the art on show, possibly the scale of the show does not allow for a collection of work such as this in such numbers. Maybe the art would be better served with the artists showing their work with only four or five others, unfortunately the nature of the triennial does not allow for this.
On a positive note some works still shine through, Ryan Gander’s cork tile wall is very engaging, Gander has reconstructed the cork tiles from his studio wall. The tiles have over time contained a variety of materials, research and cuttings pinned to them, over time gaps between these collected materials have been bleached by the sun to receive a random patterned imprint on the tiles.
Of note is Muzi Quawson’s slide projected photos of time recently spent with her friend and her family in Woodstock. Initially I just gawped at the photos in a slightly bored manner, I guess I felt I had seen it all before, after a short while Quawson’s simple use of available light and subtle framing drew me in. Funnily enough the photos had me chuntering Beth Orton songs in my head rather than the normal tuneless blues that sits there.
Finally despite my aversion to video in a gallery setting Luke Fowler’s documentary film about the Scratch Orchestra almost made me last the full 45 minutes of itsshowing but without a comfy armchair I gave in. So come on Tate do Luke and his great film a favour and give us some comfy armchairs rather than the usual bench in a darkened room deal.
The exhibition runs until May 14th and its free so go see the good film and photos and ignore the bad paintings.
Also at Tate Britain until April 23rd is Jamie Shovlin’s show in the Art Now space, very subtle and engaging I think.