Saturday, March 08, 2003

Publicness - The ICA
(29th Jan-16th March 2003)

This show features the work of three artists - Jens Haaning, Matthieu Laurette and Aleksandra Mir.

It seems to be about interventions that artists and obviously these three in particular, make in the real world. It is really quite a lame show and its language speaks to those already initiated in the art world yet it trades on the pretext of being inclusive.

The downstairs room features jokes translated into arabic and then posted on to advertising hordings in different cities. Also letters written to various countries requesting citizenship for the artist so she can show under their name at the Venice Biennale.

OK I admit that I didn't look at all of it as carefully as I could of because it bored me, it (the show) was lazy and required too much work from the viewer. It also seemed to patronize the "ordinary" non-artists it was seeking to engage.

Best bits - lookalike pictures from different countries and a collection of wine bottles with artist designed labels.

This is Butterfly Girl - one of the paintings from Alleyoops. She is based on a photograph from the 60's of Mia Farrow at a masked ball with Frank Sinatra

Thursday, March 06, 2003

This morning I am waiting at home for some postcards to be delivered. This is the third day that I have been waiting for these cards. It is making me very frustrated as I have about five thousand other things I should be / would rather be doing. The cards are invites for the next four shows coming up at Transition, one of which "Daying" previews next Thursday (13th March) so we urgently need the card so it can be sent out!

When these arrive I am going over to my studio to finish a painting which I am entering for a competition. The painting is called "The Green Flash" and was one that was in my Alleyoops show but I've decided it needs to be changed. This means it must be dry by Saturday when I am delivering it, so I must finish it today, so the postcards must be here soon! The competition is The Jerwood Painting Prize. It is won every year by really well known artists so I have no chance but I've paid my entry fee so what the hell.

Monday, March 03, 2003

So... today I'm taking down my show. A little sad but also quite glad its over as it means

1: I did it
2: I don't have to worry about anything breaking down anymore.

I forgot to mention before that I am the "director" of the gallery as well as the other things I do. We're working on the programme of shows at the moment which are
Scritch Scratch
Sense and Sensibility
Arty Tecture

I'm also thinking about new art I want to make, but as so often happens post show, can't decide which idea to follow first. So I'll probably check out some other shows this week and write my piece for the new Arty - scandal issue.

Anyway - saw Arsenal yesterday and they won 2:0 against Charlton which means we are 8 points clear. Thierry Henry was great and it made me very happy.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

This is the first entry on my blog. I am an artist and writer and publisher of the art fanzine ARTY. Today is the last day of my show at Transition in East London (110a Lauriston Road, London E9) and I am going to include a review of the show by my fellow artist Alex Michon below

Phantoms of Unease (Reflections on glamour, fetish and transformation)

Alleyoops: Cathy Lomax

Transition Gallery
110a Lauriston Road London E9,
7 Feb – 2 March 2003

“So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test”
Changes – David Bowie

On entering the gallery (through a narrow corridor) the viewer is confronted by a full-length mirror which inadvertently screams. The effect is disconcerting, inducing a slight gasp which literally makes the viewer take a step back (in skateboarding terms alleyoops means to skate backwards) this feeling of being “tripped up” or caught in the site of unknowing is further explored in the main room of the gallery which is filled with various portraits of masked figures. They range from paintings of children1 to images taken from fashion magazines (Blitz Girl, Fashion Girl, Wonder Girl) to the more sinister Fetish Girl (with all the inherent connotations of sexual deviance and to the music hall grotesque of Victorian pornography in The Deadly Phantom The titles suggest both a secret anonymity (the exotic pseudonyms of call girl cards) and the comic book potentiality of the superhero. The what if pretending of multiple personality. These figures guard their secrets behind their masks.

The walls in the gallery have been painted a steely grey which adds both to a feeling of containment (these faces are locked forever in the mausoleum of their painted frames) and to dislocation, the figures float in their own hypnagogic phantasmagoria. Vintage chandelier crystals hang from the ceiling, disrupting the solidity of the painted frames whilst a barley audible soundtrack of glass tinkling replays a manic cacophony of hallucination.2

In Alleyoops we are in the “upside down world” of subjectivity, where nothing is quite as it seems. In Phantoms of the Brain (Human nature and the architecture of the mind)3 VS Ramachandran, reflects on the nature of personality and surmises that “Everything I have learnt from an intense study of ‘normal’ people and from patients who have substantial damage to various parts of their brain, points to an unsettling notion that you can create your ‘reality’ from mere fragments of information, that what you see is a reliable but not always accurate representation of what exists in the world”.

Thus, the mirror screams out its refusal of reflection and repositions the desiring abracadabra of fascination4. But this scream is also the scream of adulation, the teenagers’ scream of idol identification the lure of a dip into the pool of promised glamour.

This kinaesthetic twinkling world of tacky magic is haunted by the ghost of its own melancholia. Like the beautiful Orpheus’ catastrophic gaze as he ascended from the underworld, looking back he was lost for ever, the spell was broken.

1: The painting Sick Boy delineates that “indecisive moment” of a photograph which never makes it to the family album, the bleary eyes of a poorly eight year old hidden behind an oversized “lone ranger” mask, In Cat Boy Lomax paints a kind of goofy anthropomorphic figure (boy becoming animal)
2: Marina Warner - The Inner Eye (Art Beyond the Visible), The South Bank Centre - 1996 (a national touring exhibition organised by the Hayward Gallery).
Warner follows her introductory essay in this catalogue with a short dictionary in which are explained some of the principal manifestations and exponents of the Inner World that is her subject:
“Hallucination: distinguished from illusion in that its subjects while materially absent, are true cognitive experiences overpowering the capacity to discriminate between fantasy and reality.”
3: VS Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee, Phantoms in the Brain and Architecture of the Mind - 1998, fourth Estate Limited.
4: The word fascination has an origin in Latin for casting a spell by visual means (as does the word glamour)

Alex Michon