Working backwards, sort of, with viewds heards and beens that stand out in my mind from the last 12 months
Last night I saw Star Wars at last. The Rise of Skywalker at Vue Cinema, Piccadilly. Not so many places are showing it anymore as it was out in December… The amount of things I’ve seen and been to instead! I will miss being able to plan to see Star Wars and then go to see something unexpected and unusual. It was starting to feel wrong to sideline Star Wars so much; as though it would always be there. I was becoming complacent, as it happens it was the last one (probably) and I might have missed seeing it on the big screen. As it is I was there after a holiday had been cancelled due to Storm Dennis and 100% enjoyed. I had heard it wasn’t very good and a bit of a mess but seemed great from where I was sitting! In the middle, with a beer, no popcorn.
The night before was Parasite at PeckhamPlex. I liked how it didn’t have any goodies and baddies, just a story with characters responding to their circumstances; you could see how and why they made the decisions they did and didn’t blame them, even when they were smashing each others heads in with rocks. Whilst watching Star Wars I thought how all those incredible CG bombs and exploding planets felt far less violent than seeing someone get hit on the head with a rock in Parasite. Late last year I felt the same way about the Joker, he was a man who works as a clown, with mental illness and deprivation whom kills, using a handgun: single shots. One person at a time; far more disturbing (and real) than earth being destroyed by a baddie in a cape etc.
...Omar Souleyman gig at Earth, Hackney... The supporting acts were Still Moving and Auntie Flo. So good to have a dance at last! There is less dancing in my life than ever before, why? So often at parties and gigs people don’t dance when I’m sure we would have in the past. I don’t think it’s age.. Anyway, this was a great stomp. The only disappointment was when it ended it just ended - cut. Close. Bit shocking. We all expected another one and then gradually drifted in the direction of the door. Stricter curfews? Late 2019 Twilight Sad at the O2, Kentish Town - supported by Man of Moon had a crazy ending! The mic just stopped working, I’m sure it was a technical fault but such a shame as they had been really enjoying themselves and were clearly happy to be there. Bit of a let down. In the end they just dropped their instruments and trooped off. Was a good gig though, I really enjoyed Man of Moon, singer and drummer so equal. Unusual, it really worked.
Hidden Gems (film). Another film with murder that is also a comedy. Three all in Jan! Really good, a few images came to mind when I would have preferred didn't quite a bit later, but not too bad.
Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
Bridget Riley Exhibition of eye popping paintings. Incredible body of work and great to see some of the background sketches and preparatory paintings on paper.
Knives Out (film). Funny, interesting murder mystery, a few unexpected twists, well shot, Hollywood slick without obvious effects, the actors seemed to love their characters.
Touching The Void (play), incredible how much was communicated from the stage with basic furniture, scaffold and climbing gear. As Daniel Craig's detective character put it re the Knives Out situation; this story is like a donut, with a donut shaped hole in it and a donut hole that fits that donut hole perfectly is in the hole but that has a hole in it too, the hole within the hole of the hole isn't immediately obvious but it is definitely there.
Loved it. I hadn't planned to go, so was plonked right at the front with no expectations. Left in a very light mood.
Duke of York's Theatre, London
Blue Story (film), true story? My intention was to see Star Wars, instead I found myself watching a film set in Peckham, in Peckham, revolving around friendships killed by postcode wars, gangs, stabbings, shootings and arson; which are very real things in London today. The film was well made, I was very caught up in it and couldn't watch the violent parts. The acting was all top rate and the storyline strong, though very close to home and incredibly sad. I made sure to let my cinema companion know I was back home safe and to check to he was too.
Negotiating Conflict in Lebanon: Bordering Practices in a Divided Beirut, 2019. Mohamad Hafeda (Book launch)
Beautifully designed compilation of art / research / socio political work supported by a background in spatial design; a culmination of years of theoretical study and creative actions. My copy is my treasure.
Mohamad was joined by Dr Nishat Awan of Goldsmiths University and Professor Anthony Downey of Birmingham City University and The Bartlett's Professor Jane Rendell. Publisher - Bloomsbury
Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, London
Wonderful Things, Tim Walker, inspiring regarding photography and how serious frivolousness can be.
Victoria And Albert Museum, London
'Three great shows under one (big) roof at Tate Modern at the mo. Dora Maar til 15 March Olafur Eliasson til 5 Jan and Nam June Paik til 9 Feb.
In the current climate I find the ability of art to help step back, think, feel and see the bigger picture is amplified. No wonder the arts get cut first, all those photos of melting glaciers and informative thought provoking photographs and installations.. Inspiring to see this unapologetic and self directed collection of Dora’s (with and without Picasso) too.
That was such an odd day... started off so light and sunny, people laying around with their faces turned to the sun, I got 'discharged' from being a hand trauma NHS patient after about six months (for a finger), had a celebratory and reality bending art binge at Tate Modern and then wandered up to London Bridge to go home where it seemed like something big and terrible had happened. My phone had died so I couldn't tell what or which transport would work, Borough Market cordoned off, London bridge too with traffic on it, station entrances closed, police blocking most routes and funnelling people along, loads or police vehicles, helicopter noise constantly overhead, ambulances tearing around. It felt like there were about 10 bombs! As I was walking I have to admit I was worried - filled with dread, then saw in a pub window the TV and terror info. with two people dead from a stabbing. Continuing my walk I couldn't help thinking how people get stabbed every day, most don't make the news other than as a statistic. They were calling it terror. Loads of journalists in the area reporting. Terror, scary, scared people, anxiety creates desire for a 'strong' leader, more votes for fascism. Then I remembered the far right racist attacks are now labelled extremist, which was comforting. Hours later I'm home having taken the boat and had a read of the news, but won't listen to the politicians talking shit about it. What. a. bizarre. day.
Tate Modern, London'
Oriole (gig) at Jazzlive at The Crypt, Jonny Phillipps Andy Hamil, Marius Rodrigues, Alam Nathoo, Andres Ticino, Shanti Paul Jayasinha, Nick Ramm - just beautiful. Great energy between the musicians, all truly accomplished with their instruments yet humble, clearly enjoying themselves, awesome sax solos, some drumming surprises; warmth of the sun's rays in this crypt of a South London Church.
St Giles Church, Camberwell, London
Tate Liverpool had a great solo show of Keith Haring, Antony Gormly at the Royal Academy was impressivo! The White Cube in Bermondsey Anselm Keifer exhibition was maybe one of my favourites of the year - his paintings somehow remind me of heartbreak but in a beautiful and pain free way. They were massive! Filling entire gallery walls yet still compelling and holding a gaze, getting people walking up close to check out the textures then stand back again taking it in. Big incredible views and detailed theory, which was a bit inaccessible.
White Cube Bermondsey, Tate Liverpool, Royal Academy, London, Liverpool
Two exhibitions in Albania sharing documentation from communist rule. I need more time to write about that. It was a learning curve and unsettling to see how fast things can change.
The first House of Leaves showed a lot of spying devices and some of the outcomes of that - including rooms full of names of political prisoners whom had perished in jail. Another Bunk Art 2 in a bunker and underground tunnels showed more of the slide toward this scaling up of control and emancipation of disempowered politicians and civilians. Both were in sites of torture / murder and imprisonment, though House of Leaves had started out as a maternity hospital. . Well put together and frighteningly real - people I met had grown up under this rule.
House of Leaves, Bunk Art2, Tirana, Albania
Winter and Summer, Tom Richards with mini oramics (hand made instrument), at the Clockwork Orange film set in Thamesside, Greenwich (at TACO) and also at The Design Museum, in both situations he was invited by other artists as part of their shows. I got to have a go and draw some music in the Design Museum. I'm getting lazy now.. just getting a few things down while they are in my mind - entering freeflow. Yuri Suzuki was at the Design Museum, his bigger works were shown photographically but there was plenty on site to investigate. At TACO Frances Scot had translated the film score from Clockwork Orange to play through mini oramics - built by Tom, designed by Daphne Oram.
Taco, Thameside, The Design Museum, South Kensington, London
Also at the Design Museum in summer the Stanley Kubrick exhibition was excellent, some insights to his techniques and props that it was surreal to see on screen let alone in person.
Welcome Collection exhibition Misdirection shared magicians tricks to an extent and certainly got me thinking about propaganda more deeply, also in December an exhibition on the Importance of Play in child development 'Play Well' was informative and fun.
The Welcome Collection, London
Think it's time for me to play now, well, this is sort of playing - writing for fun - but breakfast and a climb beckon and are maybe more 'playing well' ?!.
This afternoon I'm going to see a prelim of a play about psychiatry, acted by a psychiatrist. I don't know what to expect but the experience of the therapy room being brought to an audience I imagine will be uncanny.
The first half of 2019 feels a long way away now. The Venice Biennale blew my mind, I tried to to see too much in one go - or was it that the main exhibition 'May you live in interesting times' curated by Ralph Ruggoff, reflected the state of trepidation and overwhelm that for many people seemed a hallmark of 2019?
A documentary film 'Solidarity' by Lucy Parker exploring trade unionists fight against secret blacklists of construction workers. A Q&A with Lucy included people who were in the film; workers and their families whom had been spied on in their personal lives. The rage and hurt was palpable and understandable. I felt a physical reaction to descriptions of what they had suffered and shock at the scale of covert industrial surveillance that takes place in the U.K..
Regent Street Cinema, London
Dark Matter offered a peak at physics, including the laws of cartoons at The Science Gallery London and now I'm more than ready for breakfast.
It feels a little wrong to be noting these works and events so casually. Maybe I'll come back to give it an edit later on. This blog is intended as points of reference for people who might be interested and as a memory aid for me.
I like to think that I'll add more before long - and maybe some pictures.
Pattern Recognition, Daniel Fone, Mills and Boon pages, coloured, texted, strung.. I now have one on my wall.
No Format, Deptford, London
That exhibition about ships, told through photographs and films was brilliant. I really should have made a note of it at the time, it was spring in Central London, I went by chance after the RA print fair and learned a lot about what a corrupt mess life at sea often is. Seafarers... an oil spill being pinned on a worker who raised the alarm. I wondered if gaps in information displayed were to protect the gallery sponsorship..
Below I'm pasting an old post that was on a different page. The photos won't show but I might add them later.
Some pics from the above events are on instagram: instagram.com/l.a.simmons
Today and yesterday I added Yoko Ono and John Lennon retrospective at Museum of Liverpool, Francesca Woodman / Egon Schiele at Tate Liverpool, A House for Essex, Grayson Perry - Essex, and Dorothea Lange at Barbican. All of these are still showing at the time of writing (12th August '18)
My 'reviews' are often in note form and I don't particularly back up my responses as they are mainly a nod of appreciation to the artist and / or a log for my own future reference. My writing approach tends toward the social, psychological and practical; for similar reasons that the artwork I make is rarely to discuss art itself. When experiencing work and thinking of the economics (practicalities) behind it, I often consider creative output as political so prefer to view work in a wider landscape than that in which it is typically placed and played or contextualised. I like to think that for people in different areas of practice to my own this might add something; alongside art critics' well referenced reviews available in the press.
There are many pieces / shows / events I haven't got around to adding yet, though would like to, including Christo at the Serpentine Gallery and in the lake. If I did write about that you'd get something like this:
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Christo’s sculpture really did change colour with the light. I walked all the way around it, taking my time so the sun could set. It was a surreal yet charming spectacle: people in their pedalos in front of the brightly coloured barrel structure. The accompanying show in the Serpentine Gallery was also pleasant and easy to digest. Background drawings and maquettes had a creative and playful feel to them. They did the job, though it is probably helpful Christo was self-funding the project.. unless he keeps a bunch of CAD drawings hidden away out of the public eye.
An event I intended to log but didn't was An Evening Of Meat immersive dinner at The Vaults, London Waterloo. This was apparently feminist showing how women are not only meat, but I'm not sure the message came across in the way it was intended to. I was reminded of boxing matches where people at the front might sit at tables eating and drinking, in close proximity to fighters damaging each other in the ring. When the performers on our tables really went for it I feared they were hurting themselves, I also found it unpleasant when people laughed at them.
The food was great, very tasty and well styled - it looked like blood and raw meat even though mine was vegetarian (lots of beetroot).
I could write a lot more about this and would like to re-visit Barthes in the process... however writing eats time. Even by adding this short post for no external reason there are many things I'm not doing that really should be, so it will have to do for now. You get the gist.
When really short of time I write things like this:
Aktion: Conceptual art & photography (1960-1980)
Richard Saltoun Gallery 12 July- 25th August 2018
This was good but felt very commodified, when much of the work was political and there were so many artists in a small space so it was hard to get a sense of them individually.
Brief notes sometimes just have to do too -
Lunar Voyage, Tom Hammick, Flowers, London
16th March to 15th May 2018
Flowers surprised me, I went in looking at a father and son show ('Two Journeys' Bernard Cohen and Nathan Cohen) then wandered upstairs to find lovely woodblock prints. It turned out the artist (Tom Hammick) was giving a talk that evening so I stayed on to hear the motivations.
The show downstairs wasn't bad at all, both painters had refined practices with consistency that would delight many a nervous collector. The painting / print / graphic novel hybrid aesthetic of Hammick's reduction woodcuts and conversation / Q&A session held my attention though.