Tuesday, 5 April 2011

I Should Be In Charge? YOU Should Be In Charge!

Bob & Roberta Smith's new solo exhibition - You Should Be In Charge, launched last week at the new and independent WORK gallery in London's Kings Cross.

I steal a quick ten phone minutes with the Turner Prize Shortlisted artist to find out a little more.

You Should Be In Charge, controversially and sometimes humorously focuses on Esther's Law - inspired by Jacob Epstein's sculpture of his daughter Esther, the idea is based on proportional gender representation.
Having being raised by his mother and sisters Bob & Roberta Smith never understood why the world of politics was so dominated by middle class white men in suits and why weren't there more women in charge of running the country?
"Women are stewards of society and have a lot more power than we think, we have equality in the home, so why not in politics, we should not be pushed around, politics can be empowering", he adds with a serious yet lighthearted tone.

The politically fueled pieces include 'The New Magna Carta' - an interactive response to the cuts in arts earlier this year, 'Art Gallery Closed' - a rather comical response to private galleries and 'We Need A New Counter Culture' - suggesting the lack of a good 'under-ground' scene.
Accompanying the work, is a book that sparked off this conversation - I Should Be In Charge - "showing the full breadth of the colourful and explosive contribution of artists Bob and Roberta Smith to the contemporary art scene", to which the artist adds, is an "autobiographical monograph of over five years of investigations, photographs and works exploring Esther's Law", published by Black Dog Books.

Essentially art emancipates us and the key to the exhibition and the book is Esther's Law, when I looked at the sculpture of Esther (by Jacob Epstein), she did not look like she wanted to be interpreted by her father and seemed to stick a sharp pair of scissors into the male hegemonic world."

The exhibition quite literally spells out Bob & Roberta Smith's message - 'We/You/I Should Be In Charge' of the decisions made for us. Their brightly coloured sweet shop sign-writing pieces do make an impact, they are often comedic and bite-size, but unfortunately will never get you up off your comfortable sofa to start a revolution. Saying that, I hope that this friendly political approach continues, most of us would rather have the information and make up our own minds and as Bob puts it "I've never been good with people telling me what to do, I'd much rather find out for myself. My work is not preachy, and it's more of a signature than design. I'm not demonizing politics, I just feel we should all take interest".

Coming up at WORK will be a series of innovative and provocative exhibitions and talks, including Bob & Roberta Smith in conversation with Bidisha, journalist, feminist & broadcaster, asking who is really in charge and should 50% of parliament be women by statue?

Exhibition runs until 3rd June 2001.

For more information on Bob & Roberta Smith visit here.

WORK Gallery visit here.

I Should Be In Charge book is available through Black Dog Publishing here.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Flash Projects present: Street Fighting Man

Ev’rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy…
(The Rolling Stones, Street Fighting Man, 1968)

The 1960′s was the decade of change, a decade of love, of the pill, the Rolling Stones, and of sweeping changes in hemlines. It was also a decade of activism, of protests and demonstrations, aimed at overthrowing old prejudices and promoting a new liberalism.

In 1968, Mick Jagger wrote his most political song, Street Fighting Man – influenced by the rallies in London and violence in Paris, he attended the anti-War demonstration outside London’s U.S. embassy during which the police attempted to control a crowd of 25,000. Sound familiar?

This April, Savile Row’s Flash Projects present Street Fighting Man, an exhibition of photographs demonstrating the power of rock and roll as a focus of rebellion, including extended series of photographs documenting riots at Rolling Stones concerts, as well as Caroline Coon‘s celebrated photographs of punks including The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Slits, and The Buzzcocks ; the exhibition also traces a wider sociological context of street protests that include CND marches, civil unrest in Ireland, inner city riots, and the Poll tax riots. As we saw over the weekend of 26th March (and the bright spark that threw the fire extinguisher from a roof during the student fees protests) almost fifty years on, the exhibition is as close to some of the most recent world affairs as we’ve seen in decades.

28th April - 4th June 2011 Flash Projects, 5 Savile Row, London, W1S 3PD



Thursday, 24 March 2011

Close Eyes To Exit – An exhibition and launch by LE GUN and Bare Bones

After some adventures in mainland Europe, LE GUN are back with the launch of Close Eyes To Exit, an exhibition at Red Gallery in London.
Including a collaboration with Rough Trade for a night of live bands (April 8th) and the launch of their eagerly awaited LE GUN 5 which is “set to grace lavatories, boutiques, bars and bookshelves far and wide.”

The main attraction, claim LE GUN, will be the Unknown Room, which will show life-size drawings of the bizarre based on the contents of George Melly’s Briefcase.

“Melly, the trout tickling, dada loving jazz pirate, provided the source of inspiration having purportedly left his briefcase in the basement closet of the LE GUN curiosity shop. Created by LE GUN’s core artists Neal Fox, Robert Rubbish, Chris Bianchi, Stephanie von Reiswitz and Bill Bragg, the black and white installation is filled with pictures showing scenes of the city of Legundon, James Ensor’s Belgium, an outlandish Interzone and an ancient lost civilization".

LE GUN 5 is set to include contributors such as the Polish graphic artist and long-time contributor Andrzej Klimowski. Nick Blinko the outsider art artist, writer and front-man of anarcho punk/Deathrock band Rudimentary Peni. Emma Rendel, the spearhead of Swedish surrealism, provides Aquiring Success in Your Professional Career Through the Science of Personal Achievement. James Unsworth presents his Ninja Turtle Sex Museum and watch out for camp taxidermy from Hernan Bas, more bizarre scenes from Charles Avery’s Imaginary Island, the macabre tableaus of Laurie Lipton and writing from Hunter S. Thompson of Hartlepool.

Imagine the weird and wonderful, including tarot interpretations, tattoos, haunting portraits, a lot of monochrome, and of course, limited edition prints and pulp.
Bare Bones “the promiscuous mutant sister of LE GUN” No.6 will also be out, independently published with paper funded entirely by it’s contributors. Distributed free – it is an outlet for artists and writers to say and do what they like.

Private view 1st April 2011, 6pm till late

Exhibition from 2nd April – 18 April 2011, Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington Street, London, EC2 3JL

For more, visit Le Gun

Leif Podhajski Interview

Alicja McCarthy talks to Leif Podhajsky, the Melbourne based artist and creative director, about his imagination, favourite colour and Lykke Li.

Publicly, Leif’s work is known to explore connectedness, nature and altered experiences, but where do his ideas actually come from? Do I dare mention mind altering substances or can these dreamscapes really come from within?
Leif says he get this question a lot and explains that his ideas come from the collective consciousness of everyone and everything filtered through his own personal experiences and made almost tangible through his imagination. That it’s mostly a feeling and the exploration of things he feels are true but cannot see or touch. Such as the existence of intelligence on different frequencies or higher states of awareness, the feeling that nature is core to the balance of all things.

“I believe these things are true and through my imagination I try and put them into something which people can see, this in an attempt to justify, explain, gain wisdom from, or just marvel in the beauty of, firstly for myself and hopefully for others also. One doesn’t need drugs to experience these things, they can defiantly help facilitate your exposure to them, give you a taste. I am more interested in using other techniques such as meditation, music, yoga to get insight into these altered states and bring some of the knowledge I think we can gain back into the everyday”.

So what are the top three things that inspire you the most?

“Love, knowledge and creativity”.

Colour and tone appear to be of utmost importance in your work, so I have to ask, what’s your favourite colour?

“Colour and tone are central to capturing a certain mood or feeling in my work. Black is defiantly one of my favourite colours (tones). It’s like it has absorbed all the frequencies of light and therefore contains all colour and no colour. Other favourites are forest green, Burgundy and deep aqua”.

The record labels love your work, how important then is music to you when you create an artwork? Could you tell us what you do listen to when creating?

“Music plays a big part in how I create, and not just for record labels or bands, across everything I do. I find it helps me turn the part of my brain that over analyzes and makes things logical switch off. This helps as it lets me form compositions in a more natural and fluid way.
I listen to a very wide range of things when creating, I find it doesn’t matter so much what it is, just if I can lock into that feeling and be transported away”

Interestingly adding,

“I have just finished two mixed tapes (which you can download on my site). One is a mixture of Psychedelic, Kraut-rock and progressive songs from bands like German Oak, Can, Brainticket, Sun Araw.
The other one called ‘The Solstice Mixtape’ was compiled with good friend Isaac from the band Young Magic whilst we where in Mexico over the new year and has a lot of old African/beats/psych and folk music we both where listening to at the time, I have been into a lot of this old Nigerian, Ghanian and Turkish music which just has the best flow for working. Plus a lot of the new beats coming out of the LA scene like Teebs and Fly Lo. So a bit of a mixed bag

You worked with Lykke Li on the artwork for her new album, Wounded Rhymes, how did that come about?

“Yeah I have just finished working with Lykke. It was sort of strange how it came about, kind of felt like it was meant to be. I actually randomly got into contact with her creative director which I didn’t know at the time, and was trying to get him to look at my work for a different reason, and he though I was getting in contact about the Lykke job which I was oblivious to. They both had a look at my work and thought it was perfect. Lykke and I where exploring a lot of the same ideas in our work and so I think it was natural that we worked together. I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time”.

How well did you get on in terms of creativity?

“Creatively we got on great! She has great vision in all aspects of what she is doing, and was very open to pushing and exploring the limits of what we could achieve.
I went to New York and worked with her face to face which was so much better than over the internet and doesn’t happen as much these days.
I really think we captured the mood of the record and the concepts she was exploring on the album.

So… what’s next?

“I really want to keep working with great musicians creating visuals for their music. I have a few exhibitions coming up this year which will keep me busy. I am also in the process of setting up an online shop to sell limited edition prints of my work which will be up very soon.
But mostly to try and enjoy life and have new experiences, lots of travel and sunshine”.

For more info about Leif, visit his site here.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Pick Me Up – Contemporary Graphic Arts fair at Somerset House.

This year’s Pick Me Up saw familiar artists & collectives like Print Club London, No Brow and Kate Morros, described as some of the best, most innovative and avant-garde graphic artists, collectives and galleries stand along-side a handful of international talent, including Victo Ngai, Revenge Is Sweet and Yoh Nagio.

Mostly inspiring, the fair is a bold, colourful and sometimes psychedelic experience. It’s also an excellent opportunity to buy some affordable art, limited books, post cards and more. There is a real sense of energy, the hand made and collectible about many of the exhibitors works.

Here are a few of my highlights.

Themlot presented ‘There City’, a model cluster of hand made colonies, a refuge, ‘a place for Them to be’ – inviting you to star in THERE city. With set up cameras and spotlights inviting the visitor to engage in their mini city.

For two evenings (17th & 24th March), Heavy Pencil, are presenting evenings of live music and live drawing by some of the best illustrators in the land, which is projected on a large screen for all to see. Artists include Jiggery Pokery, Andrew Rae and Luke Best.
The Hong Kong born artist/illustrator Victo Ngai prints stood out for me. I found it so difficult not to call the bank for an over-draft increase to but her joyful and beautifully coloured prints.

Revenge Is Sweet presented a series of graphic and tonal works, but also a mirrored art deco typographic piece, which again, I mostly wanted!
And if course Anthony Burrill & guests multi-media in house studio.

For a full list of artists, galleries + collectives visit The Somerset House website. Pick Me Up: Contemporary Graphic Art Fair will take place at Somerset House runs until 27th March 2011.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Latitude Contemporary Art Award Shortlist Announced

In 2010 Latitude Festival announced the launch of Latitude Contemporary Art (LCA) Exhibition and Award with the aim to “continue and expand Latitude’s enormous commitment and devotion to the arts” with a whopping £10,000 up for grabs to this year’s winner.

The LCA team comprises creator of Latitude and managing director of Festival Republic Melvin Benn, independent arts writer Louise Gray, Artes Mundi chief executive and curator Ben Borthwick, curator/deputy editor of The Wire Anne Hilde Neset, and managing director of Lavish, Ami Jade Cadillac.

The winning artist is set to receive the £10,000 LCA Award which is chosen by an independent panel of judges on site at Latitude Festival. The prize covers research, development, production costs and artist fees for a new piece for the LCA exhibition at the following year’s Latitude.

Here are the nominees…

Alice Anderson, an ex Ecole Des Beaux-Arts student she completed her studies with a fine art MA at Goldsmiths. For Latitude, she will present FOLLOW ME, a large site-specific sculpture made of dolls’ hair and wax. Visitors will be invited to follow a metamorphosing hair rope through the woods in order to discover what is at the other end.

When asked, what was the first this you did when you found out you was nominated, she replied “I imagined the wood and started to WORK straight away.

Graham Dolphin, is yet to unveil his plans for LCA award, so we wait with anticipation. If his past work is anything to go by – appropriation of objects and icons in the fashion and music industries, reforming them to reveal the obsessive and formulas of mass culture, we’re in for a statement and a treat.
What was Graham’s reaction to being selected? “Ermm great, what the hell am I going to make!?

Andy Harper is a UK based artist with RCA MA under his belt primarily working in painting. For LCA he will create An Orrery for Other Worlds, fabricating and painting an internally lit sphere that will be suspended in the woods.

Delaine Le Bas works primarily in painting, textiles and three-dimensional constructions. For Latitude she will create – The World Turned Upside Down In The Cathedral Of Erotic Misery (after Kurt Schwitters), a woodland installation which explores the witch hunts of Matthew Hopkins, best known as the 17th-century Witchfinder General. Her secret space, part relic, part hide-out, will offer a place to reflect and contemplate.

Maslen & Mehra, UK based duo, working in the medium-format of photography will present, Common Ground. Figures from different historical periods and cultures are juxtaposed in compositions, which have been painstakingly created using hand-made mirrored sculptures and drawing.

So what was the first this you both did when you found out when you were nominated? “We had dinner with the Aussie rock band Grinspoons guitarist, Pat Davern. We might have had a couple of very nice cocktails and told him their reps should look into Latitude. A Festival which is going from strength to strength“.

Last year’s winner, the theatre-maker, composer and artist Graeme Miller will be returning this year with a new specially commissioned piece unveiled at the festival.

Latitude Festival runs from 14th – 17th July, for more info on all five artists, the weekend’s events and music line-up visit the site here.

Alicja McCarthy

View it on FAD here.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Birds Eye View – Sound & Silents

One of the highlights to this year’s WOW – Women Of The World festival at the Southbank Centre, in association with International Women’s Day, was Birds Eye View’s Sound and Silents. Which included specially commissioned live scores by cutting-edge female musicians alongside seminal silent films by women pioneering gothic, surreal and horror cinema.

Lotte Reiniger’s 1955 ‘Hansel and Gretel’ animation was for me, one of the two Sound and Silents highlights. Beautifully cut silhouettes and shadows with creepy motion and movement were accompanied by Micachu’s even more disturbing sounds of screechy rubber and twisting notes giving the animation a much more intense feeling of the macabre, highlighting the grim tale. Those of you not familiar with Lotte Reiniger should definitely check out her work.

Maya Deren’s 1943 ‘Meshes of The Afternoon’ is one of her (and her husband Alexander Hammid) most experimental and dream-like films. Full of symbology, it was beautifully and rhythmically accompanied by Seaming. As a modern sound track to the the film, this is one of the most fitting scores to the nature of the film, varying in pace, responding to movement, the score ended intensely towards the end with Seaming’s vocals and sound clashes.

For the the 1913 ‘Suspense’ by Lois Weber we saw Tara Busch’s performance almost over shadow the one-reel silent thriller. Despite both being brilliant, one could only watch one or the other as Busch’s performance was so enigmatic and layered, you couldn’t take your eyes off her multi-instrumental handy work.

The final score and the second highlight was composed by Grammy award winner Imogen Heap. In the form of a capella sound track to Germaine Dulac’s 1928 ‘La Coquille et le Clergyman’, one of the first surrealist films ever made, it was boldly accompanied by beautiful and hugely haunting vocals lead by Heap and Holst Singers. The sad tale of a priest’s lusting hallucinations for a married woman were thoughtfully portrayed by the voices and harmonies. Heap’s score was brilliant, I even got goose bumps, revving up emotions of longing and forbidden thoughts.

Thanks to Birds Eye View, I became much more aware of the female film makers of the last century. Now a charity, co-founded by Rachel Millward in 2002, it aims to be a a positive response to the fact that only 7% of films are directed by women. It launched the first major UK festival of women film-makers in 2005 supporting and developing new talent as well as showcasing the female film makers throughout the decades.

Review by Alicja McCarthy

The Birds Eye View Festival runs until March 17th and for more information, visit www.birds-eye-view.co.uk
For more events at the Southbank Centre, visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk

More by me on FAD - http://www.fadwebsite.com/2011/03/15/birds-eye-view-sound-silents/

Photographs thanks to Sophia Schorr-Kon