Friday, March 10, 2006


I'm invigilating today and tomorrow at Transition where we are showing the zany, Godwottery a show by Jacob Cartwight and Nick Jordan. The show is made up of a series of small pieces which are like bits of a jigsaw which don't quite fit together. My favourite pieces are Minotaur - a speaker from an old gramophone fixed on to a miking stool which croaks like a bullfrog, Edgar - a creepy black and white film about a magpie and a crane which references hanging and gallows and The Last Dream of Francois Mitterand - a triptych of paintings by Jacob Cartwright which is jam packed full of references, including stories about the little bird that appears in painting c. Jacob has sent us a whole ream of stuff about it and I am pasting in a bit below -

"When François Mitterand, the former president of France, realized that he would soon die of prostate cancer, he engaged in a stupendous act of abligurition; that is, he squandered a small fortune on a lavish and bizarre meal for himself and thirty friends. The meal included oysters, foie gras, and caviar, but the piece-de-resistance was roast ortolan, a tiny songbird that is actually illegal to consume in France. Traditionally, the two-ounce warbler is eaten whole, bones and all, while the diner leans forward over the table with a large napkin draped over his head. The napkin, according to food lore, serves two functions: it traps and concentrates the aroma of the petite dish, and it conceals the shameful exorbitance of the meal — the abliguration — from the eyes of God. In origin, the word abliguration derives from the Latin preposition ab, meaning "away," and the verb ligurire, meaning "to eat delicately." Even further back, ligurire evolved from lingere, meaning "to lick," which is also connected to cunnilingus and linguine. As for the ortolan, the tasty object of Mitterand's abliguration, its name means "gardener" in Provençal, and it derives from the Latin hortus, meaning "garden." "

There is more about Jacob and Nick in the current issue of Garageland magazine which is available at Transition, and all good bookshops!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tate Triennial

I have been to see the Tate Triennial today and it has made me very depressed. I saw the review of it on Newsnight Review on Friday night and Mark Kemode and Ekow Eshun remarked that it was impenetrable and it surely is that.

It is curated by someone outside the British art scene and although the overall theme of appropriating and reusing material is fine, the artists that she has chosen are bizarre. I have never heard of loads of them and what Cosey Fanni Tutti has to do with the current art scene I really am not sure... blah blah blah.

As far as I'm concerned London is the most exciting art producing place in the world at the moment, there is a whole new movement afoot that combines making and thinking. So why the Tate has chosen an outside curator I'm not sure and maybe because of this the show is all about that old style thinking art, that same boring old conceptual "I don't need to make any work myself its all about the ideas" stuff (yes I know there are painters in it but they are mostly so tight, there is none of that 2006 exuberance). How much more exciting would it have been to see the inclusion of artists such as Zoe Mendelson, Stella Vine, Sigrid Holmwood, Andrew Bracey etc etc.

The image I have included is from pretty much my favourite piece in the show and is by Jonathon Monk. However when you read the show notes everything is ruined when you find out that "Monk has pinned a different coloured drawing pin to the ear of each woman depicted in these anonymous portrait drawings from the 1930s, found in a flea market in Berlin. Through this simple act he attaches the work to the wall and claims another artist's work as his own, questioning notions of authenticity and authorship." - I only have one word for this - Lame - this has been said and done before so many times. He should just make some beautiful drawings himself or display these and make apparent their origins. The drawing pin authorship debate is nonsense and cliched.

I may well write a proper review for the new issue of The Critical Friend. So look out for that at The ICA etc, soon.