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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Olympic Mascot Hurdles

The Olympic Mascot design application process has got more obstacles than the 100m hurdles..

The Olympic Mascot design application process has got more obstacles than the 100m hurdles, after the athlete in front of you has spectacularly tripped over the first hurdle and caused a massive pile up of tangled flesh and blood blocking your path to the finish line and you are in a wheelchair... with no wheels.

Once you've gone through a lengthy and humiliating registration process, you are faced with the following:

London 2012 mascots - Design, launch and 360 marketing and communications plan.

Full details for this opportunity are shown below.

Use the options below to respond to or track this opportunity. Once a contract has been awarded, select View Results to view shortlisted suppliers and feedback from the buyer.

Opportunity Status: Open
My Response Status: -
Tracked/ Matched: -
Opportunity Details
Opportunity Title London 2012 mascots - Design, launch and 360 marketing and communications plan.
Awarding Organisation The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd
Description Background

The introduction of a mascot is one of the highlights in the journey to the Games. It is an important opportunity to build the brand of London 2012 and in turn add increasing value to the Olympic and Paralympic Committees.

Past mascots have shown great ingenuity, imagination and artistry. Early mascots were based on animals unique to the host country. More recent examples have been a variety based on humans, animals and creatures, both mystical and invented. Creativity and personality are always the hallmark of an Olympic and Paralympic Mascot.

The mascot(s) is a valuable ambassador to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and a plays a crucial role in setting the tone and style for the London 2012 Games in a multi dimensional way.

In summary:
– Mascots are a one of the key deliverables of an OCOG
– They play an important role in raising revenue via licensing.
– They provide a warm welcome to athletes and visitors from around the world and spark excitement and laughter
– Having your photo taken with a mascot is a must have Games souvenir!

London 2012’s vision is to use the power of the Games to inspire change.

London 2012’s mascot needs to be more than just a cuddly toy. It needs to capture the imagination of young people, it must be loved and help to create a sense of excitement and pride about the London 2012 brand.

Our aim is to develop mascots that help build London 2012 into a much loved brand. The desirability of the mascots will need to not only communicate and demonstrate the Olympic and Paralympic values, but must lead to the purchase of products. It is therefore essential that the mascot works across a multitude of licensing applications and be commercially viable.

To be successful the mascot (s) will need to demonstrate wit and humour that reflects London and the UK. They need to be accessible and appropriate in a tone of voice that is understood by children and young people, as-well as reflecting the culture and people of the host city/country.


• To develop a mascot (s) for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
• To develop and deliver a 360 marketing and communication plan to support the launch of the mascots and rollout plan for; 2 years to go, count down to the games, at ceremonies and competition venues
• To provide full guidelines for the on going management and licensing of the mascot (s)

In addition to responding to these questions on CompeteFor, applicants should prepare the following in a maximum of 3 pages to supply on Friday 28th November in the event of being shortlisted:
• Evidence to your responses to the customised questions
• Two case studies of your organisations favourite characters or mascots summarising:
o their commercial success.
o how your characters live in a 2d and 3d world
o How you introduced them to the world
• Provide short biogs of the team who would create the London2012 mascots
• Explain in no more than 100 words why you would like to create the London 2012 mascots.
London 2012 Reference Number 1041Mar
Nature of Opportunity Services
Opportunity Type London 2012 Supply Chain (Private Sector)
Delivery Point London
Response Deadline 21/11/2008 12:00
Estimated Tender Close Date 03/02/2009
Estimated Contract Award Date 31/03/2009
Estimated Contract Start Date 01/04/2009
Estimated Contract Value (GBP) Not disclosed
Additional Information for Supplier CompeteFor is an e-brokerage tool. The advertisement of LOCOG opportunities does not constitute the start of a tendering process, but an expression of interest. LOCOG regrets being unable to provide feedback at the short listing stage of CompeteFor.

Suppliers will be required to sign up to LOCOG Terms & Conditions which can be found at
Website n/a
Business Categories
  1. Film distributors
  2. Toys and games - wholesale
  3. Dressmakers
  4. Design consultants
  5. Comics and magazine suppliers
  6. Advertising services
  7. Marketing boards
  8. Toy shops
  9. Toy libraries
  10. Entertainers
  11. Designers - graphic
  12. Writers - technical and commercial
  13. Designers - jewellery
  14. Arts centres
  15. Toys, games and sporting goods - mnfrs
  16. Computer games
  17. Graphic arts materials
  18. Theatrical agencies
  19. Museums
  20. Theatrical costumes, equipment and supplies
  21. Designers - garments
  22. Model makers
  23. Literary agents
  24. Artists and illustrators
  25. Graphologists
  26. Theatre companies
  27. Arts
  28. Design engineers
  29. Marketing consultants
  30. Advertising - agencies
  31. Entertainment agencies
  32. Film studios and production services

Opportunity Response

London 2012 mascots - Design, launch and 360 marketing and communications plan.

  • Step 1 - Essential Questions
  • Step 2 - Other Questions
  • Step 3 - Submit

Complete all of the following steps to respond to this opportunity. You can save your response and return to view, edit, or submit it any time before the deadline.

Opportunity Details
Opportunity Name London 2012 mascots - Design, launch and 360 marketing and communications plan.
Response Deadline 21/11/2008 12:00

The buyer has set the following questions as essential criteria for a successful bidder.

Will your company be able to obtain the amount required by the applicable law of Employer?s Liability cover at the time of entering into the contract?
Does your organisation have experience of creating 2D/3D characters or mascots that appeal to young people?
Have characters or mascots created by your organisation been used commercially in any of the following areas film, TV, 3D animation, publishing, licensed products?
Have characters or mascots developed by your organisation been developed into ?plush? products?
Does your organisation have experience of working with a large sports events?
Have characters or mascots created by your organisation been used internationally?
Does your organisation have experience of developing a full 360 marketing and communications plan to support your characters?
Does your organisation have the expertise in developing graphic standard manuals?
Are you able to demonstrate how you have worked with sustainable materials?
Has your organisation engaged in major public participation activities?
Have you/your organisation got access to exciting and new talent?
Have you/your organisation got experience of working with an existing brand and bringing the brand to life through a character?
Is your company willing to accept LOCOG Terms and Conditions?
Can your company provide evidence in respect of all the above questions? Evidence will be required on shortlist and should be prepared for the request on 28th November 2008.

The buyer has asked for the following additional information.

How many employees are there in your organisation?
What percentage of the work carried out for this opportunity will be by contractors?
How many years has your business been trading?
How many references can you provide relating to this opportunity?
Does your company have a Human Resources Policy or Policies in place that demonstrates it meets all necessary statutory requirements?
Does your company have a system, either formal or informal, for checking and recording the quality of work delivered? If yes are you able to provide evidence?
If you have 5 or more employees, do you have a Health & Safety Policy? (If you have less than 5 employees, please answer ?yes?).
Do you have a Company Policy or Policies relating to sustainable development or Corporate Social Responsibility (e.g environment, health & safety, equal opportunities, etc), and do the Policies extend to all the Products and services supplied?
Do you have effective arrangements to ensure equality of opportunity within your organisation?

My mascot idea is for a massive robotic filing cabinet with a machete.

The Beijing Olympics had five mascots though, so if anyone has any other ideas, let me know in the comments below - we've got until 21 November to register our concepts.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Ekow Eshun and the gas chamber for Live Art

Artistic Director of the ICA to close its Live & Media Arts department
Ekow Eshun, the artistic director of the ICA, in one of the most ridiculous decisions and making use of the most unbelievable arguments of recent times, has just announced the planned closure of the instutition's Live & Media Arts department justifying it with the lack of "depth and cultural urgency" of those art forms.

Now if we consider the birth of Live Art as a strongly political art form concerned with discussing issues so broad as identity, politics, freedom, the place of art, etc., in this so called "post-everything" world; if we take a look at important events that took place also at the ICA and that are still today (so many years after) the epitome of the experience of the possibility of freedom, we cannot but be sad and regret the mess that goes in this person's mind to suddenly take such a sad decision.

But then again art institutions are above all institutions of power and thus instutitions of control: through the exercise of the power attributed to them, they participate in a kind of natural selection or, in this case, an operation aimed at some sort of "ethnic cleansing" as it were - at the destruction of an art form that - you are right - could have the power, HAS the power, to question and bring change.

In this times where people are willing to sacrifice their freedoms in the same of (a fake) security, in this Orwellian times where "I-don't-mind-being-watched-24/7-if-that-will-save-my-life", in this present in which institutions and the State Apparatus are regaining more and more control over the populations, this is just another reactionary decision of another of those instutitions. Thank "god" (if he'd exist) that art practices can still live outside the realm of established art institutions.

Just to finish, I can't help to remember a quote from that very interesting film "V. for Vendetta":
"More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives."

Monday, 27 October 2008

The Atheist Bus Campaign

I’m a student right now and I haven’t actually decided what kind of career that I want to follow once I’ve got out of education. Not that I should be worrying TOO much, I’ve still got three and a half years before I’ve done my degree and need to go out and make my mark on the world, but it’s still something I’m trying to think about.

My speciality is probably Graphic Design. The problem with this is that the natural path for a graphic designer would be to work in businesses for big corporations, advertising, mainly, although I guess there’d be some scope for designing packaging, sleeves, etc. I’m all for getting consistent work at a decent pay, but I’m not entirely comfortable with brainwashing the masses into paying businesses lots of money for goods and services they don’t really need. But I don’t have to…

People wouldn’t usually be so picky about who they’d work for, but I’m tempted to offer my services only for ethical causes. Charities, raising awareness about social issues and similar need their own advertising, and working for clients in those areas would cover both “doing my bit” for people as well as putting food on the table.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, now, and I’ve had my eye out for various advertising campaigns with purposes other than rinsing people for money. Last Tuesday, a news report about buses with this slogan written over their sides caught my eye:


The Atheist Bus Campaign launched on the 21st of October and aims to cheer up atheists who do not have a God to rely on to get them out of the looming depression caused by the Credit Crunch. But, as expected, there’s been a bit of a stink about it.
Okay, the word “probably” was a good move, it’s certainly not as insistent or insulting as the religious propaganda you sometimes get handed by people on the street, telling you if you don’t believe in God you’ll burn in Hell for all eternity. But then the second line doesn’t make all that much sense… if this is to cheer up Atheists because they’re worrying as they have no faith to turn to, surely more denial of God’s existence isn’t what’s going to help… okay, maybe I sound like I’m being a bit pedantic, but they’re spending £11, 000 on a crap joke that’s going to piss off a large percentage of Britain.
Yes, it is refreshing to see Atheists’ words being heard for a change, but is this really worth it?

The organisers say this will “help raise awareness of atheism in the UK, and hopefully encourage more people to come out as atheists”. I wasn’t aware that atheism was something to be ‘aware’ of… Sure, it’s good to learn about religions, their customs, their way of life and such, but learning about atheism… well… they don’t believe in God, isn’t that the long and short of it? It just feels to me that this campaign is a waste of time and money, with the effort far surpassing the reward.

And if anyone’s interested, I’m agnostic.

For more information about the organisers of the Bus Campaign, see

Pick of the Week 27.10.08

Welcome one and all to this week pick, including goulish bike rides and hairraising theater. Let us know what other interesting things are happening by leaving us a comment....

Theatre - Chosen by Carly
La Clique!
You've seen the propaganda on the tube and now you can see it for reals. La Clique is the Edinburgh cult hit now firmly set in its London home of Leicester Square’s historic Hippodrome.
Acts includes: Norwegian contortionist Captain Frodo; Spanish stripper Ursula Martinez; Germany’s David O’Mer (pictured), who has re-invented the pleasures of a nice soak in the tub; hula hoopist Yulia Pikhtina from Kiev; the English Gents performing their inconceivable feats of human strength and skill; London’s own PVC-clad fetishist Miss Behave; the puppets of Montreal’s Cabaret Decadanse; and New York alternative comedian and Freddy Mercury reincarnation Mario.

Poetry - Chosen by Jen
Ian McMillan, Talking Myself Home
Barnsley based poet, Ian McMillan tours with his new biography, Talking Myself Home. A rare chance to see memoirs in poetic form let alone being read live!

Exhibition - Chosen by Giles
Juan Fontanive
Riflemaker gallery

Photography - Chosen by Holly
Talk by Tom Hunter
7pm Whitechapel Gallery
Tom Hunter "famed" for his modern day, "gritty" interpretations of renaissance paintings does the usual past and present works talk as part of photomonth

Music - Chosen by Joao
Klang - a tribute to Karlheinz Stockhausen, 1-9 November at the Southbank Centre.
"This is a must go event for both the ones who love and the ones who hate him, the composer that used to be told his compositions in dreams and who has been assumed as a reference point by many even outside the box of 'classical' music"

Blog/ Debate - Chosen by Sam
Not technically a pick of the THIS week but good to see so many responses to Lyn Guardner's post about the ICA closing their Live and Media Department has accumulated. Have a read of the comment, very interesting! all 44 (and still going) of them.

Theatre - Chosen By Mark
Super Night Shot
By Gob Squad
"It’s one of those shows that makes you believe in art again" Having its Manchester debut this week.

Fun bike times - Chosen by Chris
Critical Mass
The friday night date we should all have in our diaries!
Critical mass, a semi-protest, semi-party and always good fun bike ride last Friday of every month in London (and different regular dates all across the UK and the world). Meet from 6.00pm outside the National Theatre/BFI Southbank under Waterloo Bridge. Riders chat and meet each other for half an hour or so and then the ride sets off around London on an unplanned route for a couple of hours.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Manifesto Marathon, Sunday 19th October

SpRoUt - 'Manifesto for Mulitplicity'

Nick Laessing - 'The place of the material world in the universe is that of an exquisitely beautiful precipitate or varied cloud-work in the universal ether'

Tino Sehgal & Hans Ulrich Obrist

Claude Parent - 'Paris noyee, Londres au fond de la Tamise, quelle architecture?'

The text on the back of the program states that 'This futurological congress presents manifestos for the 21st century. This event is urgent' and in spite of this and other such statements as 'This is a declaration of artistic will and new-found optimism' such fervor seemed misplaced. The event in its own right held host to some insightful talks by the likes of K8 Hardy, Rem Koolhaas, Fritz Haeg and Stephen Willats yet with the parameter being monitored by a troupe of hefty looking security guards and the use of red ropes to section the event off like a film premier, the sense of exclusivity created by the separation between those that had bought tickets and those that stood, ticket-less outside the periphery seemed too much in contradiction to the ethos of the event. The highlight of the event was however, when K8 Hardy pointed out this massive contradiction; that an event which makes reference to the 'avant-gardes of the early 20th century and the neo avant-gardes in the 60's and 70's' should end up reeking of an exclusivity that such movements aimed to put an end to. Hardy illustrated this point well pointing out that she "would not have been able to have come to this event unless she was invited"; she wouldn't have been able to afford the ticket cost for the event that she was speaking at at which point she proceeded to take down the red ropes lining the perimeter and invited those without tickets to come in (interestingly enough you could hear what was going outside the Pavilion just as well as if you were inside).
I turned up as Manifesto Club were coming to the end of their talk about alternative models for art education. What the speaker had to say was interesting but as someone within that system, for me the points he made seemed somewhat obvious and quite general; that career centered teaching ought to be rejected in favour of an open experimental approach, embracing risk taking "without the sense of possible failure". Nevertheless the most valuable point was made about the incompatibility of the art school environment with that of the art world beyond this; that the way in which works of art produced within the system of an 'art market' is very different to the risk taking and plurality of meaning and medium that an ideal art school would embody.

There were many other manifestos, probably better described as performances. Fritz Haeg employed some bizarre voice manipulation for his London: A Manifesto for your Animals in which he became the mouth piece for the animals of London, animating the lives of Hedghogs, Foxes and Herons and how they might experience city life. Stewart Home opted to repeat the web address where his offering for the Marathon could be found with the use of his ventriloquist puppet, "Mr Dog", (""and so on and so on) the two of them threatened to on for twenty minutes, which they thankfully did not. Tino Sehgal and Hans Ulrich Obrist had a chat about something at some point, this was then 'opened up' to the audience, I didn't understand a point he'd made earlier so I asked him to explain this to me...he explained his point but I still didn't understand. Jimmie Durham's with his offering No More Silly Hats made some valuable points about the way in which the categorization of 'Art' serves as a convenient yet artificial definition for particular human activities and went on to state how encouraging it was to see that 'Art' is now coming to be seen as this 'false category'.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

My reaction to the scathing comments put up at the Turner Prize Exhibition...

Incidentally, I made sure I pinned it right next to the "I breezed thru pretty much everything" comment.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Oligarchs Form An Orderly Queue

Oligarchs Form An Orderly Queue
There’s Never Been A Better Time To Invest In Art!

Richard launches the independent artspace in his wristwatch - Black Cylinder Gallery - at Frieze Art Fair 2006

Richard: I've got an art gallery in my watch.
Lady: So you have.

Richard: While you decide what to purchase, help yourself to a glass of wine.

As capitalism careers around the lip of the abyss1, London’s art establishment is mopping up following the frenzied circle jerk spending spree that is Frieze week.

Since Frieze Art Fair’s inception five years ago, sales have seen rapid year-on-year growth, from £20 million in 2003, to £33 million in 2005. Although exact figures have not been released in subsequent years, sources claim that sales could now be as much as £100 million2.

This recent boom is fueled by super-rich non-domiciled residents, as ‘the number of high net-worth individuals in Europe continues to soar’3. According to the New York Times’ Roger Cohen, ‘Wealth is not so much diminishing, as it is shifting to emergent recession-resilient elites in places like Russia, China, India, Dubai and Brazil’4. Prominent among this group are the Russian oligarchs, who are transforming the capital’s art scene5.

If, as many are predicting6, takings at Frieze are down this year then perhaps the recession has finally reached the art market. If however revenue is up, then it may go some way to proving a theory posited in an essay by Sahil Malik in the September 2007 volume of Mute Magazine7, namely that the global art and financial markets have decoupled.

The crux of Malik’s theory is that art is less of a liquid asset than stocks and shares – ie. not as easy to trade – and thus subject to different risks than the stock market. Distribution of risk is key to ‘spreading the bet’ so investing in art is a hedge against the instability of the market.

By this rationale, as investors clamour to find safe havens for savings, the art market should thrive, or as Malik puts it:

‘A crash in the stock market need not result in an accompanying crash in the art market, but instead to an increase in art market prices as a compensatory investment’8.

Also, unlike other financial instruments, the sale of art isn’t regulated.

The reason I am telling you all this is because I have some sculpture for sale.

[1] Quote by broadcaster Michael Burke on Radio 4’s ‘On The Ropes’, 2nd October 2008

[2] International Herald Tribune, ‘Frieze week is a catalyst for London art’ 12th October 2006

[3] Quote by Jonathan Breeze, CEO of boutique airline Jet Republic interviewed on Radio 4’s ‘PM’, 23rd September 2008

[4] New York Times, ‘Premiumize or Perish’, 14th September 2008

[5] The Guardian, ‘Prices soar as world's super-rich invade London art market’, 26th June 2008

[6], ‘Crisis Imperils U.K. Art Fairs’, 12th October 2008

[7] Mute. I can highly recommend picking up a copy of this issue - a lot of the essays have proven rather prophetic, including some very interesting pieces about the Olympics; Did you know that ‘the IOC enjoys tax-free status despite not being a charity, a religion, or a non-profit organisation. And to be on the safe side, its members enjoy diplomatic status’? Mute is published in Whitechapel and is available from Freedom Press Bookshop, just round the back of Artsadmin.

[8] Mute Magazine, A boom without end? ‘Liquidity, critique and the art market’, p92, Vol 2, #6, September 2007

Monday, 20 October 2008

Pick of the Week 20.10.08

Welcome once again to the Artsadmin Artsblog, check out our bloggers top picks after the jump to see what they will be up to...come on join in!

Visual Arts - Chosen by Jen
Millennium Gallery
August 2008 – 14 January 2009
A graphic animation which highlights the plight of a city whose ardent pursuit of the new threatens to nullify a place for the past.
Kongkee is currently the Breathe Artist in Residence at the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester.

Book - Chosen by Lisa
Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb.
Out in paperback now.
If you are a fantasy lover than try this on for size

Exhibition - Chosen by Holly
Sarah Lucas - Penitralia
Sadie Coles Gallery
south audley st
Oct 14 - Nov 15, 2008 - Open Tue-Sat 11-6
If you haven't already been shocked by plaster casts of penises in galleries then head on down to Sadie Coles Gallery for Sarah Lucus's new cacophony of cock!

Spoken word - Chosen by Eleanor
Brian Fuata performs in The Spoken Space,
The Poetry Cafe
22 Betterton St
22 October at 7:00 - 7.15pm.
A text piece working with a series of monologues, movement, carboard signs and improvisation.
Eleanor says "This performance is definitely worth a look, Brian's way with words is truly beautiful".

Theater - Chosen by Joanne
Complicite - A Disappearing Number
The Barbican
10 Oct - 1 Nov
Tickets from £10 - £35 (£2 discount on all tickets from 5 - 10 Sept)
Taking as its starting point one of the most mysterious and romantic collaborations of all time, this is a story about connections between ideas, cultures and times.

Talk - Chosen by Oyinda
Where now for Political Culture?
Thursday 23 October 7.30pm
Bishopsgate Institute
special ticket offer of £8 (original price £12) and £5 concessions call 020 7392 9200 and quote 'Penned in the Margins offer'.
Can culture deliver a political message? This is the question poet Blake Morrison and Independent columnist John Walsh will be discussing with Editor of the Poetry Review Fiona Sampson in the first ever Poetry Review Speaks Out debate.


Audience Protocols
I was taken to see Alan Bennett’s play Enjoy at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. I went along with prejudices as I usually do. I don’t often enjoy straight plays (in the traditional sense), four actors talking and talking and shouting all on the backdrop of a room with one wall cut away. I think the only play that I have thoroughly enjoyed was at the Old Vic a couple of years ago featuring Kevin Spacey (I think it was called A Moon for the Misbegotten or something) and I think that I only enjoyed that because of Spacey, who was encapsulating, I think he put me under a spell, I really could not keep my eyes off of him!

Anyway, the characters were sitting in their front room shouting in their booming voices about being poor and being re-housed. It was supposed to be a depressing drama (as Allan Bennett goes) but I just didn’t get it. The actors were so focussed on saying the words in the script that the feeling was getting lost. There wasn’t enough action, and the audience was sitting silently with these two old people sitting in the same position just talking, I admit I was rather board.

In drastic comparison, I went to see Punchdrunk’s Masque of the Red Death in April this year; it was thrilling and the most interactive. Based on Edgar Allan Poe's story of the same name, the performance is set in a large house and you are free to wonder wherever you please, following whichever scenario you please. At the end everyone is brought to a large hall where the performers bring the show to a finale with aggressive ballroom dancing. The audience are placed in the middle of the action, almost part of it. It was close to immersion.

A lot of the audience had no idea what to do, where to go, one sheepish looking boy was led into a tiny cupboard by a seductive character and the rest of us didn’t know when he was to return. Punchdrunk are known for considering their audience in a particular way and for (forgive for the expression) ‘doing something different’. Why does this have to be different? Mainstream theatre is full to the brim of actors sitting in a room with one wall cut away, facing the audience because they dare not turn their back on us! How rude!

I also know the expression ‘too much of a good thing’, but I do not know if it would apply here and Punchdrunk do have a particular aim. What I am trying to say is that the audience / performance relationship needs to shaken up in theatre. In Shakespeare’s theatre times the audience used to holler and shout at the actors and throw things, I guess one can experience this sort of thing watching pantomime or stand up comedy, but that is a little different. When did audiences become so silent, so scared?

Protocols have been created and followed over years, whether set by the audience or the production. I was listening to Front Row on BBC4 (19.15, 15/10/08 by Mark Lawson feat. David Benedict), and it was said that when watching a performance, an amount of attention is required and when this attention is not repayed then boredom sets in. I think that sums up my thoughts on both of those performances and straight plays. It was also mentioned on this show about the recent deal for readers of the Sun, who went to see Don Giovanni and apparently there were laughs in places where before the audience were silent. This is a step in the right direction I suppose?


Friday, 17 October 2008

Peter Saville: Accessories to an artwork

“It all looks like art to me now”. So says Peter Saville and, if his latest exhibition is anything to go by, he’s onto something. For his new exhibition at the Paul Stolper Gallery, Saville has taken a look at the plinth – art’s go-to support-method for props or objects in galleries, museums and studios alike – and turned it's function upside down, metaphorically, at least.

Saville has taken the traditional plinth and recreated it in white cardboard flat-pack, undermining this subconsciously revered object by questioning its status of supposed neutrality. He questions the plinth as an object just as one would question the art it usually supports. He questions whether there is a difference between plinth-as-object and art-as-object. What differentiates a white plinth and the objects we put upon them and label art?

But Saville has done more than reveal the fact that plinths are perhaps no less ‘art-status’-worthy than the things placed upon them. He has invited a series of creative types to display anything they want atop his flat-pack plinths. In addition, he is selling the 96cmx35cmx35cm plinths in an edition of 200, with the first 100 being sold for a clean £50. Not a bad price for the privilege of owning art, one might say. I do wonder, however, what will be done with the creatives’ chosen objects. Are they granted ‘art-status’ by being put up for sale as well? Or are they simply a support to the work, – the Accessories to an Artwork – the plinths? Who would want to buy the artwork’s support-method?

It is an interesting situation, particularly when we consider the names that have been selected to choose an object for the Saville plinths - Wolfgang Tillmans, Cerith Wyn Evans, Brian Eno, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Richard Kern, Jarvis Cocker, Slater Bradley, and Neville Wakefield, among others. One can be sure there will be people interested in buying the prop rather than the work. Or was it the other way around?

Lastly, and with a risk of sounding obtuse, it must be said one is automatically reminded of Antony Gormley’s work for Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth, One and Other. This jumped to my mind instantly, though others have mentioned Duchamp’s infamous Fountain, which was likewise a seemingly inconsequential object assigned ‘art-status’ simply by the artist deciding to assign it.

The difference, of course, between Gormley and Saville’s works is that Gormley has recruited volunteers to spend an hour each atop the fourth plinth and do what they choose. So the subject is being scrutinised, rather than the object. This subtle difference separates the works greatly. Where Gormley questions the subject’s role in stimulating the viewer to consider "diversity, vulnerability and the individual", Saville’s work ultimately begs the question: what is the value of an object?

Peter Saville: Accessories to an Artwork runs from October 10th to November 22nd, 2008, at the Paul Stolper Gallery, 31 Museum Street, London. For more information visit

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Turner Prize

I went on Sunday, it was full, and contrary to my expectations and what others told me about the show, I was really impressed.

I'm not sure if this is something that everyone experiences but whenever I go and see shows I tend to only remember what I enjoy, and rather than disliking art I'm usually just indifferent to it and so forget it. Mark Leckey's entry for the show was something special and the most enjoyable aspect of this was his a lecture series he'd given in different locations which were filmed and exhibited. What was really fascinating for me were the connections he made between still images with the development of these into film and animation. The way in which Leckey pulled associations between Fischli and Weiss and the Roadrunner cartoons together as examples of animation's capacity for making the impossible real was completely convincing. This is what made his lectures so compelling: the way in which he made no distinction between what would commonly be delineated using the terms of 'high-brow' or 'low-brow'; an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer becomes three dimensional after walking through a wall behind his bookcase is given the same attention as Jeff Koons' Rabbit or a video by Gilbert and George.

It was this this incredibly pluralistic approach to medium that attracted me so much to Leckey's work and I was drawn to the way in which theories surrounding still image, film, animation and popular culture were made accessible and didn't require specialist knowledge for these to be read; references such as those from The Simpsons or Garfield could make connections with most people in his audience because they are such widespread cultural phenomena. What made the most lasting impression on me, however was a slideshow that had the viewer gradually zoom in on an image reflected in a mirror found in an unnamed room, I enjoyed this so much because it reminded me of a scene in the 1982 film Bladerunner in which Rick Deckard played by Harrison Ford is examining a photo in a similar way. I think Leckey must have had this film at the back of his mind whilst making this and I imagine anyone who had seen Bladerunner will have made that connection also.
Seeing Leckey's work in many respects reminded me of why I became interested in art in the first place and why I feel it is important, as something with an enormous capacity to communicate or connect with other people.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Give them Back their Art!?!

Repatriation of Art, is this a good idea? What would the consequence for this be?

Photograph credit: Franko Khoury

I have been in Nigeria for approximately Two Months but I'm only on week three at work. I'm on the second stage of my youth service which is comprised of Eleven Months work experience in a national company (so no big multi-national companies can benefit from our cheap labour, only our government). I was posted to Ocean Beach Golf and Leisure Resort where I am programming the public and educational programme for Awo House ( a cultural centre) and they have offered me two days free to work with Bisi Silva (curator and Artistic Director) at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos. Its an interesting Mix as half my week is spent focusing on Historic Culture while the other half is focused on Contemporary Art. No complaints!

So while looking through the papers here I fell across an article about Colonial Africa. Highlighted was Namibia, a country who's people faced genocide under its German colonizers (it was a horrific read but so is the majority of this type of history). More research produced a similar article where the focus was on the repatriation of the remains of 47 Namibians currently being held at a German museum ( I realised that a lot of what is on display in the West as 'African Art' may slowly but surely find there way home, and what will replace it?

The struggle we as arts professionals/ artists (promoting contemporary Africa) have faced for such a long time has been this image portrayed as our art in the rigid form of 'Masks' 'Wood-carving' and 'Cloth'. To be fair there is truth to this, however there is a need to include post-colonial art to theses permanent displays/ collections. It was the Africa Remix exhibition at the Hayward that not only made me fall in love with art, but caused me to rethink my career goals of working in health, to promoting art and African art in particular.

Perhaps Arts organisations around the world need to re-think and re-invest in their Africa collection or fight to retain ownership of these pieces. What do you guys think?

Further reading:


Pick of the Week 13.10.08

This week feast your eyes upon some leg warmer action and some revolting factory workers and enjoy a Frieze Free weekend! all coming up in this week Pick of the Week...

Film - Chosen by Frank
The Take directed by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein about workers taking over and running a factory in Argentina and the implications of this on the globalization debate.

Arty Night Out - Chosen by Eleanor
Run Riot No Shame Party
16th October
Moustache Bar in Stoke Newington
The monthly No Shame party an alternative party, of "100% pleasure and wayward distraction", encompassing performance art, burlesque, participatory performance/partying and plenty more.

Dance - Chosen by Jen

17 - 26 October 2008
Various venues across Nottingham
Nottdance is the annual international festival of experimental dance and performance. This year Dance4 have created the most abundant timetable of treats to date.

Exhibition - Chosen by Richard

Landscapes in Perspective

15 Oct to 12 Nov
Private View - 14 Oct 6-8.30pm
Gallery 32, The Embassy of Brazil
Featuring new 'Shops' work by FrenchMottershead, plus new work from other participants in the England/Brazil Artists Links residency initiative.

Photography - Chosen by Holly
Photo Month - east London photography festival throughout October and November
This is now the largest photography festival in the UK, don't you know!

DVD release - Chosen by Giles

Logan's Run was released on DVD last week for all you lot who don't remember this 70's classic Sci Fi series. But remember while you are sitting in your flat with the curtains drawn watching Sci Fi Box sets, in the words of Jessica
"There's another world outside! We've seen it!"

80's pick - Chosen by Sam
Fancy Footwerk at the electricity showrooms
I am not usually one to recommend this overtly, wanna be trendy night spot however the mention of Olivia Newton Johns classic track Physical and leg warmers has got me reaching for my high legged, belted leotard!

Theater - Chosen by Mark
Lone Twin
Daniel hit by a Train
At Chelsea Theatre
Thurday 16 October 2008 - Friday 17 October 2008
Inspired by late 19th Century tales of people losing their lives trying to save the life of another, Daniel Hit By A Train tells each tragedy in turn, in all their heart-wrenching, comedic, vaudevillian glory.

Music - Chosen by Marine
undGretel? presents Sam Amant and Hissing at Swans
The Arts Bar and Cafe, Toynbee Studios E1 6AB
16th Oct 7.30 - 11.00pm
This is no ordinary music event but a night where you get to be the headline act!
Interlaced with great sets by some London's hottest new bands you will be trained up by a selection of undGretel?'s team leaders to become the first Kazoo Orchestra of Great Britain, culminating in a storming headline performance at the end of the night.

Theatre - Chosen by Carly
Once and for all we're gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen
Sat 25 Oct - Tue 28 Oct 2008
The latest work from internationally renowned Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed was a runaway success at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival, receiving a raft of awards and five star reviews.

Performance - Chosen by Yasmine
Experimentica 08
15/10/08 to 19/10/08
An arts festival in Cardiff, offering a mixture of performance, installation and sonic art, with a healthy mixture of established as well as relatively un-known artists.

Film - Chosen by Alison
Future Shorts
a short film label that puts together a monthly programme that tours cinemas worldwide. See the above link for when and where.

Can terrorism be art (be terrorism)?

People gather on both sides, the lights are still off. The photographers at the end of the catwalk, cameras in hand wait for the gold shot. The atmosphere is tense; this is definitely not London Fashion Week.

Suddenly the lights are switched on revealing the catwalk made of canvas - the show is about to start. A fat naked man appears at the top and starts walking down towards the cameras; his body is covered in white paint and there is silence. The fat white man bleeds from both arms the blood that paints the canvas red. The gold shot.

The air is fresh, fast and confident like in any other September morning. The yellow cabs, the rush, the success, the smell of coffee, money and hope, that weird feeling of "today I'm gonna make it. Today I won't fail." It's morning in downtown Manhattan and in a couple of minutes and three blocks down two sister towers will give birth to a monstrous hole covered in blood and anger, (another) bastard child of Humanity.

These two events - one taking place in the space of an art gallery turned institution of global art and the other in a financial district turned institution of global trade - have at least two things in common: both offer themselves for aesthetic judgement and both have a strong political intent in the sense that both can potentially change the order of things.

When writing about the aesthetic judgement, Kant pointed out its division in two categories, the Beautiful and the Sublime. If the pleasure of the beautiful comes with the apprehension of an object that is in harmony with the ideas of our understanding, i.e. with the world-as-we-know-it, the pain of the sublime happens when our understanding is presented with an object that is so big and/or so powerful that (1) it refuses to be thrown into one of the boxes in which we usually try to fit the world and (2, and by consequence) it immediately and painfully questions our knowledge of it.

It is easy to grasp the political character of the sublime. The sublime is the violent and painful feeling that is generated in us when we experience something "too big for words." Something that challenges the way we order the real. Something that might ignite change. The unspeakable.

Let's know think violence. Let's say in a simple way that violence happens when a force A meets another force B and ends up changing the properties (intensity, direction) of the latter, changes that B would never suffer wouldn't it be for A. (An object always offers resistance to any change in its condition - this is what physics called 'inertia' and philosophy, via Spinoza, called 'connatus').

In consequence, we arrive to the point where violence equals politics (equals violence). If violence is the action of A that will cause - or contribute for - a change in B, violence is politics. And it is my view that politics cannot be made without a certain degree of violence. Violence is always already at the very core of becoming (something else).

My question, or better, the problem I would like to throw at you as it were, is an ethical one. To which extent shall one embrace violence in order to bring change? To which extent shall art embrace violence? When is it better to stop (and maybe rethink the strategy)? Is there an absolute limit or is it all about negotiating the limits along the way? Will the aim ever justify the means? What can one do? And how? On an ethical level, what makes the difference between the work of, let's say, Franko B and that of a terrorist group that hits towers with airplanes? WHere does art end and terrorism start? Could (some) terrorist acts ever become art?

Franko B once said:
My work focuses on the visceral, where the body is a site for representation of the sacred, the beautiful, the untouchable, the unspeakable, and for the pain, the loss, the shame, the power and fears of the human condition... Detractors will say that I make monstrous work, and in a way it is: the Latin root monstrare means to show. If a monster is therefore something that shows itself as much as it is seen by you, then let me be a monster.*

(*from Franko B, "I Miss You!" in, Adrian Heathfield (ed.), Live: Art and Performance, 2004, London: Tate Publishing)

Friday, 10 October 2008

You're all protesters

A favorite pastime of mine while on the tube, after flicking aimlessly through the metro looking in vain for anything vaguely interesting, is to write small messages on the side of particularly infuriating articles. One of my most recent little additions was made to an article that heavily suggested that Boris Johnson was responsible for the open house weekend, when it was actually started in 1992.

For me this is no more than a way to pass the time while giving the newspaper editors a very small and polite kick in the teeth. However it occurred to me that in its own way my little habit, one which I am ironically a little embarrassed of (I always pull the paper up so no one can see what I’m writing), is my own way of protesting against wrongs that I see in the world.

Yesterday I chanced upon a sticker near the south bank picturing an oyster card with the name oyster changed to voyeur. This seemed to me to be in the same vein as my note writing and it got me thinking about how many people are out there making these little protests. I then started asking people “what do you do that you could consider a protest”, and I discovered that everyone I asked did something that could constitute a protest if not every day then definitely every week.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that in our own way we all protest every day, when we disregard a stupid rule or we refrain from buying a certain product. I like to think that in there own little way they change the way the people around us think and that simply expressing yourself is in the end the best way to change the world.

so what do you do?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

It's all about Meees

‘Meees’ translated into English from Welsh means ‘Baaas’ – the sounds that sheep make – in Arabic it is ‘Maaas’. Meees is a Welsh children’s TV show, similar to the Tweenies or Teletubbies, consisting of colourful animatronic heads and costumes worn by trained actors enacting educational and often moral scinarios, with the aim of making the innocent ones of today the PC-minded citizens of tomorrow. Meees Takes this further; rather than hinting at racial equality and freedom of lifestyle by, say, pastel coloured outfits, or subtle statements such as the sex-less purple one sporting a red purse, Meees conspicuously has a dark skinned sheep as the mother (ethnic minority), a father sheep from Greece (immigrant) and a daughter sheep and her partner, who is step-dad to her 2 children.

The TV network Al Jazeera recently bought the first series of the show and is in the process of translating it into Arabic, to be broadcast to Arabic speaking countries. Tanya El Khouri is one of the vocal artists and is well aware of the radical cultural differences; “The show is very open-minded … they are not used to seeing this”.
Having watched Arabic channels via satellite over the years, I have seldom come across such forward-thinking concepts, perhaps they do exist and are just not openly broadcast. The reaction to Meees will be a good measure of tolerance in the Arab world (where it is allowed to be shown) and I will be keeping an eye out for further developments and reactions.


Monday, 6 October 2008

Pick of the Week 6th October 2008

Here it is again
the wonderfully democratic and not at all chosen by anyone in the Artsadmin office Pick of the Week
This week you can choose from....

Film - Chosen by Jen
Times and Winds
Reha Erdem

Time and Winds carries us through the seasons of rural north eastern Turkey, traversing the intimate relationships between husband and wife, father and son, between brothers, friends, man and nature, religion and modernity. Panoramic vistas of a sublime seascapes; a must see on the big screen and will truly one of the best films I've ever see.

Talk - Chosen by Sam
The Centre for the arts and learning series
Engaging Others: The dynamics of appropriation and collaboration in the
works of Sonia Boyce since the 1990s.
7 OCTOBER 2008
6:00 TO 8:00 PM (drinks at 7:30 PM)
Ben Pimlott Lecture Theatre

Sonia Boyce was born in London in 1962 and emerged in the early 1980s as a
figurative painter, quickly gaining critical attention as an emerging
figure in the black British arts movement, for works that spoke about
racial identity and gender in Britain.
Since the 1990s Boyce has worked increasingly with other people in what she
likes to call 'improvised collaborations', bringing the audience into
sharper focus as an integral part of the artwork and demonstrating how
cultural differences might be articulated, mediated and enjoyed.

Campaign - Chosen by Frank
Fund Chris Morris!
"If you are interested then with a little bit of searching on the net you'll work it out".

Exhibition - Chosen by Joao
Tate Modern
Date: you've got a while 26 Sept '08- 1st Feb '09

Highly recommended is room 3,
"it's a GIANT room with GIANT paintings on the 4 walls that simply blow you away".
Joao also said
"For if many people don't seem to see the point of Rothko's paintings, that room will prove them wrong as it is only in space, acting/playing in space, that his paintings make sense."

DVD - Chosen by Phoebe
Half Nelson

Exhibition - Also Chosen by Phoebe
Heart of Glass
Shoreditch Town Hall
Date: 2nd - 19th October
The Artists have been selected by open-submission – a panel of art-world luminaries including Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Rachel Campbell-Johnston (Art critic), Paul Hobson (Contemporary Art Society), Irene Bradbury (Associate Director, White Cube) and Philippa Adams (Saatchi Gallery) will select the most interesting work in show with the artist winning a solo show in CONCRETE & GLASS next year. Artists have submitted work in response to the eerie atmosphere of the space.

Dance - Chosen by Marine
Nigel Charnock - Stupid Men
The Place
Date: 6 October 2008 - 8 October 2008
Time: 8:00 pm
Stupid Men promises to question gender, sexuality, ageing - and a good deal more - within a physically and emotionally charged atmosphere. Each performance is a unique experience - approximately 60 minutes of completely free improvisation - an act of raw, fearless theatre.
We are told to "Expect the unexpected!"

Music - also chosen by Marine
Sic Alps
Barden's Boudoir
Tuesday 7th Oct 8:00 £6
this is an Upset The Rhythm night

Exhibition - Chosen by Mark
The Wharf Road Project
Opened on Friday
Go and see the new collection selected by Martin Westwood and Martin Creed.
Martin Creed has selected Lucie Stein and Joanne Robertson for the V22 Collection, we will be showing selections of their recent work. Martin Westwood has selected work by Alice Channer, Dick Evans, Elizabeth Price and Covadonga Valdes which will be on display in The Wharf Road Project.image by Covadona Valdes

Exhibition - Chosen by Joanne
John's House by Patricia Osses
Beaconsfield,22 Newport St, SE11 6AY
Until 26th Oct

John’s House is a digital body of work in progress: a response to the spaces within and beyond the former home of the playwright John Osborne. In solo performance, photography and in collaboration with improvising singer Phil Minton, Osses re-awakens the spirits of place.

Nigeria Diary

Should the UK bring back National Service?
I will give you a peek into the life of a Youth Corper.

Having lived in the London all my life, I found that until recently I had very rarely questioned my safety. Slowly but surely the media found their way into my mind and instilled a fear factor, one I couldn't shake when walking home at night, or whilst seated in a nearly empty carriage on a train or simply taking the 142 when schools were ending for the day. Nothing felt sacred any more as paper after paper where covered in images of yet another violent attack, usually carried out by 'youth'. Many called for tougher penalties, metal detectors where installed in schools and at events, others cried out 'Bring back National Service'!

This brings me to my predicament. In a bid to start a fresh I decided to move away from the madness I called home, to Nigeria, where my parent originate from. As a matter of duty all graduates who wish to work in the country must have first completed a year of National Service. Three weeks are spent in a boot camp of sorts followed by 11 months of work experience.

Having never lived in Nigeria I romanticised the idea of attending the programme, believing it would make me 'more Nigerian' or 'more in touch with my roots', Ha! It was the longest three weeks of my life as I did all I could to break out (think Prison Break). The bedrooms were enough to make a grown man cry, with up to 30 people all competing for bed space (I have friends who had to stay outside due to not enough rooms during their orientation). The bathrooms almost had me going insane as I proceed to damage my bladder in a bid to never have to enter them (food and drink intake was kept to a minimum). A friend told me she had stopped telling people to 'go to hell' and instead started saying 'go to camp', I had to second that!

Now the daily tasks consisted of:
4:30am wake up
5:30am meditation and exercise
7:30am Breakfast and Shower
9am Parading (marching)
1pm Lunch and siesta 3pm lecture
5pm Parading
7:30pm dinner and socialising
10:30pm lights out

I'd like to say I took part in most of these activities but my body just was not built for this kind of strain. Firstly I don't really believe people should be up before 8am, a fact I am slowly dispelling, secondly most of the activities take place in temperatures of around 30oC, now that cant be safe! Plus I fell ill- Gastroenteritis.

Now it would be wrong for me to say it was all doom and gloom, cause it really wasn't. I spent many an afternoon, having a few drinks with my new camp friends, who I had met due to our common desire to get out. We laughed, danced and almost forgot we were trapped.

All in all this experience changed my life, for the better I don't know, I'm just happy to be out!

End Note:
I will be reporting on Nigerian culture and all things pertaining to art soon but here is a little snippet of my month in Art:
September 6th -Launch of 'Journeys with Kongi' by Gerd MeuyerWole Soyinka himself was in attendance!
September 13th -Book club which is currently focusing on African literature starting with Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adiche, moving on to Everything Good Will Come by Seffi Atta.
September 17th -Started working at CCA,Lagos a contemporary art centre run by Curator Bisi Silva.
October 1st – A visit to the Awo House Museum, where I will be programming the public and educational events.

Gillian Brent - Thicket

Persistence Works in Sheffield plays home to Gillian Brent's technocentric urban oasis.

The architectures of modern industry and technology have long inspired many an awestruck artist compelled to capture the inherent weakness of the subject against the sublime forces of the machine. Such abstraction; the subtle juxtaposition of tangible and intangible; local and universal, is what has led we technophobes to marvel at the often terrifying techno-terrains of the contemporary world.

Many of us, unwilling to accept the mind's superiority over the senses, prefer to see the architectures of modern technology as either flora or fauna, subject to movement, to growth and even to the nuances of intrinsic emotions. I recommend dissenters of this tradition to step into the retreat of Gillian Brent's most recent installation, aptly entitled 'Thicket'.

Brent's metallic masts, which ascend the heights of the exhibition space at Persistence Works in Sheffield, emerge from grassy knolls like majestic limbs, forming a protective canopy of leaves (or lenses) for the visitors below. Beyond the sea of transmitters, CCTV cameras, lamp-posts, aerials or electrical pylons, is a habitable enclave, which exudes the latent beauty of our technologically saturated contemporary landscapes. Their ambiguous forms are, however, evidently functionless, transcending the mathematical formulas that underlie technology and human mastery of nature.

Though fleetingly dystopian, with subtle and irresolute statements about man's relationship with nature, Brent's installation is a playful exploration of those mystical and seemingly superfluous sculptures, which animate our everyday drifts across the city.

Thicket is on until 31 October, 10:00-5pm, except Thurs 10.45am - 5pm, ADMISSION FREE
Persistence Works, 21 Brown Street, Sheffield S1 2BS
0114 2761769