Monday, July 31, 2006


Silvio Berlusconi’s influence pervades Italian society, his reign as Prime Minister is now, probably, over but no doubt his control over Italian television and news media will continue. He continues to own the largest share of Italy’s media.
Sabina Guzzanti’s satirical show was cancelled a few years ago by RAI after she singled out Berlusconi for criticism. Guzzanti’s documentery ‘Viva Zapatero!’, currently showing at the Odeon Covent Garden is a chronicle of the events leading up to and the aftermath of the cancellation of her show, she also focuses on other broadcasters who have lost their jobs after criticising Berlusconi.

Guzzanti’s show RAIot was pulled after one episode and within hours the press had begun a campaign of criticism of Guzzanti’s show. Many arguments were used against the show which revolved around definitions of what ‘satire’ really meant. The conclusion of Berlusconi’s supporters both in parliament and in the press was that Guzzanti’s show was not satirical because it was not humorous or amusing and was unnecessarily harsh in its portrayal of the Italian Prime Minister and other political figures in his party, they concluded that therefore Guzzanti was not producing a satirical television show but something that created an image of itself to the public as an alternative news programme and as such outside the remit of its commission. Guzzanti has since then campaigned against the decision by the managers of the RAI media company and a subsequent legal ruling determined the shows status as satire and therefore RAI’s decision to cancel the show was unlawful. The show was never reinstated and Sabina Guzzanti continues her campaign by asking those involved in its cancellation to answer for their actions.
‘Viva Zapatero!’ follows Guzzanti as she asks a variety of satirists (including Rory Bremner) in other countries about their view of the course of events and how it relates to issues in their native countries. Italian journalists, comedians and broadcasters who have suffered a similar fate recount their experiences of the Italian media machine under the control of Berlusconi. Many experienced broadcasters have been removed from their jobs, several who are familiar faces from 20 or 30 years of television journalism in Italy remain out of work despite their experience and the respect by the Italian public. Newspaper journalists explain the threats to their careers or the indiscrimate editing of their work if their criticism of the Italian political classes is deemed too harsh. Editors of national newspapers have been forced to resign and even the centre-left political parties seem unwilling to enforce existing laws or pass new ones to limit the influence of Berlusconi over the media.

During the recent Berlusconi reign Italy’s press has seen it’s reputation fall from one which was considered ‘free’ to only ‘partly free’. It remains to be seen whether the recently elected centre-left coalition will redress this but for now despite Silvio Berlusconi’s removal by the Italian electorate Guzzanti’s film is still relevant due to his continued ownership of so many media interests.

Guzzanti’s film comes across as a little self-indulgent but the stakes for her fellow performers, broadcasters and the Italian people are high.
The ownership of the media in Britain is less concentrated than Italy but I left this enjoyable film with the slight nagging feeling that the manipulation and interference in our lives by the current political elite with the support of the British media is not too dissimilar. But then again Blair and his friends often holiday in Italy, I wonder who they holiday with?.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lore Sjoberg Does a Dan Ashcroft

Sent this today, very Dan Ashcroft......,71410-0.html?tw=wn_index_6

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Three Night Masterplan

It is a terrible admission but until last night I had never heard Pharaoh Sanders play live. I have liked his playing for years but somehow he has always existed on the periphery of my musical radar, my record collection is littered with his tracks both as band leader, member or guest artist but I have never really got into his music in a coherent manner. All this is surprising as I have a real sense of the music of his peers, John Coltrane, of course, Yusef Lateef, later recordings by Charles Lloyd, the Blue Note recordings of Wayne Shorter and Jackie McLean and latterly Tubby Hayes and Joe Harriot.
It is no doubt that any saxophonist will always be measured and referenced by the playing of John Coltrane, the heritage of Coltrane’s music still flows through every jazz musician and in particular saxophonist.

Pharaoh Sanders started one of three consecutive nights at the Jazz Café last night and it was a treat. An appreciative audience were captivated by Sanders playing, this was augmented by some high level playing by the three other band members on bass, drums and piano.
Sanders ambled on to the stage some way into the intro for his first number and began his set by testing out a few passages on the sax. It was an inauspicious start and did not bode well as his looks to the sound booth conveyed a real problem with the quality of the sound, the majority of the audience took these glances and grimaces as a motivation for them to give some encouragement to the band. However, due to the warm reaction of the crowd and some tinkering by the sound booth Sanders playing became more fluent and expressive as he weaved his way through an extended version of ‘My Favourite Things’. After 20 plus minutes of music, during which Sanders walked to the far edge of the stage to give the band members freedom and the spotlight to construct their solos and some great collective playing, he announced the culmination of the finality of this first track. This was achieved with is much talked about way of creating sound from his saxophone by releasing a note and removing his lips from the instrument as it plays on, it resonated with the note and continued playing by percussive tapping of the saxophones keys. A little showy perhaps but all in all it brought the audience to even greater appreciation.
It was obvious that this first passage of music had one great intention, Sanders was announcing that he was the true carrier of Coltrane’s musical legacy. As witness to this for the first time in my life I would not argue.
The second piece was another recognisable track from the Coltrane back catalogue, the altogether softer and more conventional ‘Say It (Over and Over Again)’. As before Sanders and his band showcased their musical versatility by taking a piece of music which lends itself to some straight ahead playing and expanding the lyrical themes of the song into an extended version. The varying passages moved between soft, lyrical playing and hard, aggressive bop. All the problems of the first few minutes of the gig were forgotten as Sanders once again gave centre stage to his band during their solos, as the music developed into a real swinging nature he danced with his saxophone at the side of the stage, eyes closed and his face pressed lovingly into the instrument. This was another epic piece of music and all that was left to take us to an hours worth of music was a version of his own ‘The Creator Has a Masterplan’ with small elements of ‘I’ve Known Rivers’ thrown in the mix. The band duly acknowledged he left the stage to great applause and appreciation by the audience. Everybody hoped for an encore but with such hard playing and another two nights of his residency left this was not forthcoming.
If ever an encore was not needed it was tonight, the purity of the playing was enough, I think I will carry this gig in my memory for a while to come. And next time Sanders returns to London I will not be so tardy in seeing the great man play.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Radio Gallery

'Radio Gallery' is a series of 12 commissioned radio programmes that treat one hour of radio as exhibition space. The contributors are artists and curators most of whom have not worked with radio before and whose practices do not necessarily have a relationship to sound. Thus, free of any convention attached to radio-making, they have been invited to develop and expand their artistic or curatorial practice onto the radio format. Responses to the invitation range from exhibitions devoted to Electronic Voice Phenomenon, propaganda or audio time capsules, to meta-radio shows.
CONTRIBUTORS Âbäke Thibaut de Ruyter Raimundas Malasauskas Dirk Fleischmann, Nav Haq and Tirdad Zolghadr Loris Gréaud and Karl Holmqvist Jeremy Deller andAlex Farquharson Olivia Plender Matthieu Laurette Siniša Mitrovic and Susan Philipsz Ryan Gander andFrancesco Manacorda Konst2 and International Festival Steve Webber

Monday, July 17, 2006

Show Me The Monet

Resonance FM will be broadcasting this show between 3 and 4pm on Thursday 20th.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Summer Selection

Radio Rebelde's Sounds of Now and Not Quite Now-Summer 2006

1.Joe Henderson-El Barrio (1964 'Inner Urge', Blue Note Records)
2.Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto-Love, Love (1974 'Love Love', ECM)
3.(re:jazz)-Inner City Life (2006 VA-'Kings Of Jazz-Jazzanova' CD2, BBE)
4.Eddie Gale-Song Of Will (Jazzanova’s Rhythm Happening Mix) (2005 'Jazzanova-The Remixes 2002-2005', Sonar Kollectiv)
5.John Barry-Main Title (2002 (1965) OST-'The Ipcress File', Silva Screen Records)
6.Troubleman-Where We Stand (2005 'The First Phase', Far Out Recordings)
7.Zero DB ft Heidi Vogel-A Pomba Girou (2006 VA-'Gilles Peterson Back in Brazil', Ether Records)
8.Archie Shepp-Song For Mozambique (2004 VA-'African Spirits', Soul Brother Records)
9.Bill Evans-Peace Piece (2006 VA-'Kings of Jazz-Gilles Peterson' CD1, BBE)
10.Curtis Mayfield-Mother’s Son (2001 (1974) 'Sweet Exorcist/Got to Find A Way', Charly)

A Corking Show

The crypt at St Pancras church is a wonderful space, next to the roaring Euston Road is a piece of architecture from a quieter time. At the edge of the West End at the traditionally recognised border of real London and the ancient suburbs sits the church. Underneath the church are the vaulted brick arches of the crypt, the large cavernous expanse is cool and slightly dusty and perfect respite from the hot, sweaty rush hour Friday night traffic.

And this is the site for Mr Corking and Katsunobu Yaguchi’s current exhibition “Futari-Melten”. Amongst the subtly lit arches and rooms of the crypt sit sculptures incorporating corks. Several quiet, subtle paintings can be seen, all painted with wine, prints of the ‘corking’ project appropriate Warhol’s Campbells soup, they are dotted around on pieces of clothing and collaged cardboard and a suit with wine brandings printed on them is hanging up.
The sculptures are a variety of poetic situations all incorporating corks. A map of the United States references globalisation and its effect on the cork industry, A prone Mr Corking lies on a bed of corks, but hold on didn’t I see him outside in the grounds of the church showing his cork shoes to a visitor of the exhibition?.
Corks pour out of a wine bottle into a puddle on the floor and somewhere else a lone cork sits in isolation under the gaze of a large anglepoise lamp.
Many other pieces are dotted about the building but in all cases the strange combination of melancholy and whimsy permeate the works.

Yaguchi and Mr Corking have created a wonderful show, they embrace the architecture of the crypt, the building rewards the art by complementing it perfectly

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pish and Chips

Another great summer evening. More art, free beer, newly discovered grungy bar and unexpected musical find.

Hauled my lazy arse onto my bike yesterday afternoon and went into Whitechapel to meet Liz. It was a lovely evening to cycle, sunny with a nice cooling breeze, I whizzed down Holloway Road passing many a cyclist and got my knee down round Highbury Corner dodging busses. The worst part of the journey over I slowed up and enjoyed the evening as I cycled into the City and the rush hour slid past me on the other side of the road. I reached my destination just past that particular part of Whitechapel Road with its odour of pish and chips. If you have been down the Whitechapel Road you will know where I mean, just after the Aldgate roundabout before the Whitechapel Gallery.

I lingered over a pint and waited for Liz and then we headed off to Vyner Street. Modern Art was opening its two gallery spaces, paintings by Wawrzyniec Tokarski can be seen at its smaller gallery space and the summer show is in the larger space opposite. Tokarski has created some large scale paintings, sort of modern day pop art in watercolour and oils. He combines typefaces, images and graphic design to produce large canvases that echo urban life and the advertising drenched visual culture we currently inhabit. The most amusing (and vast) of these canvases raised a chuckle with its brown, red and black panels with the legend “it doesnt matter what it is as long as it takes enough space”. I am intrigued at where the comment is aimed, a crass art viewer like myself who might be impressed by the scale of the work, the buyer with money to burn and the space to show off their buying power or the gallerist or dealer who needs the wall space filling to complete the ‘look’ of their latest show.
The selection of work for the summer show in the gallery opposite is very disappointing (Barry McGee’s combination of drawings excepted), it is the grungy trash on canvas that now passes for the fashionable look of the moment in some galleries. If you were born before 1975 you have seen this done better a million times before on album covers, gig posters, 70’s punk fashion and numerous later rip offs of the punk aesthetic. And each generation that comes up with slogans and images to shock for the sake of it in this style without pushing the art form forward don’t shock they just bore me even more than the last time I saw it. These young artists may tell you they are paying homage to their ‘70’s heroes. Frankly I wouldn’t believe it, I have heard modern day ad men who have long since appropriated this visual territory say exactly the same thing.
I grabbed a drink and went outside for a chat with some friends and soon forgot the dire art. I relaxed in the sun as the breeze flowed up this normally desolate street and gently tweaked the label off my icy cold beer and then supped up before we rode on towards Old Street.

I have never been inside The Foundry on Great Eastern Street, there is always a crowd outside and on occasions I have thought it was ever so slightly ‘Nathan’. In any case I am always on my way to somewhere else, this night however Liz and I were stopping to catch another exhibition opening. We stumbled into the bar and got two organic beers. The Foundry is quite a spectacle on first visit, it looks like a squat and some of the punters don’t disabuse you of this idea with their appearance, Liz's staement sums it up "look at the state of this place, its appaling, I love it!". The main bar upstairs had some art on either wall, I had seen a brief listing and as it was on our way home I scheduled it into our evening ramble (or whatever the cycling equivalent of a ramble is). The art was fairly nondescript but The Foundry manifesto which explains their curating policy was very interesting indeed, all I can say is good on you guys, the art world needs more people like you.
Then we were approached by a young lady who energetically explained that if we made our way to the downstairs space we would see some art and there would be music and other stuff too, so down we went. In the large basement under the main bar a mix of paintings and photos by a variety of artists was placed around the walls and just in front the far wall a girl was playing keyboards, a kind of lounge folk, jazz pop, improv thing, it was a chilled atmosphere. The art was a great antidote to the previous Vyner Street experience and although put together on a shoestring had a purity and honesty. We made our way back out renewed by the art and were once again approached by the energetic girl who said that she would be playing some of her own music soon, as I had my art head on (and the art schedule fulfilled) and had left my music head behind I could only think heading foodwards.

I asked for a flyer with details and on later inspection I now see that energetic girl is in fact Kate Nash. I checked out her page on myspace and have to say cocked up by not sticking around. She plays a folky style with a great London slur to her vocals and an edge to her acoustic backing that I imagine is fairly difficult to achieve. Despite listening through a tinny laptop I can tell that I would appreciate hearing some more. One to watch maybe, I’ll be keeping my eye on the listings in any case.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

London Super Scale with Blisters

Phyllis Pearsall is a true London hero. It is not often you can say that someone has truly touched thousands if not millions of lives but Phyllis Pearsall has. Since her death in 1996 she continues to affect huge numbers of Londoners lives every day.
Pearsall was the creator of the A to Z.
My knowledge of the geography of London is often viewed through a mental map of the city, when referencing places, names or journeys around London the A to Z appears in my minds eye. I visualise these things through my own mental reinterpretation of those yellow streets, white roads, green public spaces, brownie pink houses and white expanses of indeterminate blocks. The variety of typefaces and text sizes transform soon to be visited places into evocative sites that carry ideas before I even understand the reality of them.

Phyllis Pearsall was not a cartographer and the idea of the London atlas was not a winner in her fathers eyes, from his office in America where he ran a map making company he left Pearsall free reign to create her vision, with little or no support she embarked on an epic journey to chart, map and record every street in London. In a city as huge as London she was probably the only Londoner in modern times to know literally and at first hand every inch of this unknowable city. With some persuading her fathers workers, the cartographers in his London based office, helped Pearsall realise the amazing book that probably every Londoner owns.

Pearsall was loved by all her staff at the A to Z company, those that worked with her have nothing but praise for her philanthropic management style. She treated all her staff as friends and was unflinchingly supportive in their times of need, something many companies could learn from in current times. The loyalty showed to her staff by Pearsall was exceptional, she placed the company in trust to enable it to be protected from being sold to best protect its workers.
Due to Phyllis Pearsall’s exceptional life and work Southwark Council unveiled a blue plaque on the house of her birth yesterday.

On a personal note I can vouch for the enduring success of the A to Z. I am currently working on an art piece that requires 2 copies of any A5 black and white A to Z. I have trawled a variety of second hand bookshops and although newer colour versions occasionally appear I have been told that it is highly unusual for the black and white version to be given to them as the books are used to the point of destruction and are not fit for any place but the bin.

With that in mind if anyone has an old A5 black and white A to Z they wouldn’t mind donating to an artist for his work, let me know.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


How do they do it?. How can all those people visit every private view from Hoxton Square to Brick Lane in one evening?. And you know they have a couple of beers at each one and talk to all the right people and their friends as well.

Thursday night was a big opening night, the White Cube on Hoxton Square opened their summer blockbuster starring Damien Hirst, Gavin Turk, Andy Warhol and a host of others. A huge crowd assembled both on the square and in the gallery, many grabbed their complimentary Asahi and hopped over the fence and chilled out in the square (shut for parched grass related reasons, but that didn’t stop them). I nabbed a freebie bottle and waited for Liz to turn up, once she arrived and we had necked our beers we went into the gallery. The show ‘Dark Matter’ is all very impressive but despite enjoying several of the numerous black pieces of work, especially Gavin Turk’s bin bag, I just felt somewhat overwhelmed at the huge power wielded by Jopling. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this was an exercise in self promotion for the gallery, rather than an exhibition it seemed more an advert to impress those wealthy enough to purchase their art from the White Cube.
Then things took a turn for the weird with Liz deciding that Damien Hirst’s multiple flies on a canvas piece reminded her of those chocolate rice crispie things, with our thoughts turning to dinner plans we left to make our way across to Kingsland Road to see Rob Ryan’s papercuts at the Seventeen Gallery. We navigated our way through the crowd on Hoxton square trying not to crush the other freebies on offer, Felix Gonzales –Torres effort endless copies of black paper which was being wielded by a fair few people by now.

I like the Seventeen Gallery, they seem to select work that I wouldn’t normally like and make me like it. Rob Ryan’s papercuts are no exception, this series of theatrical images abound with men with tophats, dancing girls, stars and Victorian styled horticultural patterns. The series is titled “The Stars Shine All Day Too” and the two largest scale pieces are epic, the efforts Ryan has put into these 87”x75” pieces are prodigious and his honest endeavour adds to the charm of the images he produces.
Liz and I made our way for some beer at the back of the gallery, we had Brahma beer as I needed the bottle for a collection of bottles I am using in an artwork and Liz wanted the unusual shaped bottle to use as a vase.
We went outside to the street to cool down from the full and very hot gallery, the staff at the Seventeen Gallery had laid on beer on tap (the first time I have seen such a thing in a gallery and very impressive it is too) and the crowd was filling the already muggy room.
A friend met up with us and we strolled back across the square and onto Coronet Street to see Standpoint’s opening of their ‘sweetex’ show. Of note in this show are the quirky bike bulbs in brown bags installation and some photos of a small Barbie-esque doll in a variety of situations.

Finally we completed our tour at Studio 1.1 with Ron Meerbeek’s paintings and sculptures series titled T.O.E (Theory of Everything). With paintings called ‘God Fucks Dog’ and ‘Boiling Babies’ and images which run from the cast of the Simpsons, Bagpuss and dogs in amoebic form and an installation of a toilet surrounded by walls wallpapered with Meerbeek’s cartoon and comic creations it is a truly peculiar look into Meerbeek’s mind. But we were hot and thirsty and with the artviewing crowds thinning for the evening we headed off to meet up with another friend and some food on Old Street.

And with the free beer all gone and being too late for the openings on Charlotte Road or at The Reliance, we ducked in for some Vietnamese noodles whilst avoiding a trio of people wheeling their bikes and carrying rolled up pieces of free black paper

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Late Bloomers

A couple of days ago I picked up an intriguing flyer for an exhibition which opened yesterday evening, the flyer gave no real impression of what to expect but due to the location and having a football free evening I took the opportunity to pay a visit.
‘Drawn from Experience’ at 148b St John St in Clerkenwell is curated by Nobuko Asakai and features the work of 15 artists whose practice as artists is informed by their previous professions or are embarking on a career as an artist at a later than expected time in their lives.

I expected the work to be different to the predominant contemporary stylings of the London art world but for these late bloomers these stylings already wheigh heavy in their work, maybe a little too reliant on the ‘trash’ aesthetic. Fashion photographer Leigh Keilly’s photos in black and white with splashes of colour on the hair and lips of the models seemed particularly obvious, as fashion photography this is run of the mill stuff but technically competent and no doubt he will be much valued as he continues his studies at the London College of Fashion. Unfortunately to sidestep such images into an art context just doesn’t work.
Of other exhibits, many of the small paintings on view in the exhibition can be seen replicated in art schools across the country.

The artists that caught my eye were those who took the grungy materials used in their work and rendered them with a light touch to encourage an engagement with the overlooked objects and subjects they were handling. Lea Louvray’s Jellyfish chandelier in a lightbox was visually arresting and Christian Legnar’s copper pipe sculptures seemed ambiguous but caught the eye nonetheless.
The most successful pieces were curator Asakai’s bubblewrap suitcase titled “How to Cross Borders and Get Back Safely” and Karling Wong’s disturbing piece using a silk surgical gown. The gown had been hung simply on the white painted brick walls of the exhibition space and was stained and torn, I was drawn to the subtle colours and lightness of the material, first viewed it can be seen as an abstract form but after a short while the practical use of the gown begins to creep in to your consciousness.

On the whole Wong’s piece sums up this whole exhibition, I found the show slightly unsettling but captivating without quite knowing why.