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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Walking in the footsteps of JG Ballard

To commiserate the passing of JG Ballard, who died last week, I visited Sutton Road multi-storey car park in my hometown Watford:

(Click to Enlarge)

=In 1971 JG Ballard used the towns then futuristic parking structures as a location for his short film CRASH!

He referred to Watford as ‘the Mecca of the multi-storey car park’.

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Shot for the BBC two years before his notorious novel of the same name was published, the film followed Ballard as he outlined some of the ideas that would later form the basis of the book (itself adapted for the screen by David Cronenberg in 1996).

When I first saw the short film, specifically the moment I recognised Sutton Road multi-storey car park, it was the second nearest I've ever come to having a religious experience.

(Click to Enlarge)

no longer seems to exist on the internet, although I do have a copy on vhs somewhere, which I shall endeavour to locate, digitise, and upload.

Ballard said of Watford's car parks:

'I was quite interested in the gauge of psychoarchitectonics.'

And one can't say fairer than that.

Further reading:


Grebmops uploaded CRASH! two days ago:

Friday, 24 April 2009

New Media Nigeria

In a country with the third largest film industry,new steps are being taken into developing Video Art.

New media is no longer that new in the West but it remains a media that has yet to be fully explored here in West Africa, specifically Nigeria. In a country were the film industry is the third largest in the global market, after Hollywood and Bollywood, it was inevitable that the desire to develop Video Art would be high.

Working in Contemporary Art here in Nigeria is really exciting as I feel like there is such a big shift taking place. Our Traditional artistic practice and background have paved the way for for the current artistic elite but their is a thirst for the exploration and implementation of the modern. It feels like the beginning of an era and I'm here to record it, via my blog and various other media.

I recently co-ordinated a Video Art workshop here in Lagos, my second since moving last August. The workshop was facilitated by...International Video Artist Miguel Petchkovsky (Angola), taking Lagos as its primary theme. Alongside Miguel, participants were led by Goddy Leye (Cameroon) and Eustaquio Neves (Brazil), both prominent Video Artists.

The workshop aims were to provide artists with a good grasp of the concepts of Video Art within contemporary artistic practice and to create projects based on experimentation of the video image on the classic forms of art like painting, sculpture, music and theatre, while introducing new elements like performance, installation, photography and sound.

Outage - Outrage by Lillian Pilaku from CCA Lagos on Vimeo.

Outrage By Lilian Pilaku

This work explores the nature and scope of power supplies and the consequences of failure imposed by neglect in the basic needs of large urban centers and the peripheral communities around the city of Lagos, as well as the consequent impact on individuals. This audio-visual exercise suggests the critical failure of Institutional power to ensure long term sustainability of improvements and questions (metaphorically) all society and the well being of future generations.

Carbon Blues - Uche Joel Chima from CCA Lagos on Vimeo.

Carbon Blues By Uchay Chima Joel

Uchay was the first prize winner with a residency in Amsterdam being facilitated by Miguel.

Lagos is a city that is well known as being over populated. The masses streaming from diverse background and multiple ethnicities contribute largely to the socio-economic make-up of the city. Like other mega-cities around the world, Lagos is also challenged with environmental degradation and pollution.

Carbon Blue focusing on air pollution depicts what goes un-noticed by some in the atmosphere, in and around Lagos.

Dreams (Smeard) Smeared by Jude Anogwih from CCA Lagos on Vimeo.

Dreams [Smaerd] Smeared By Jude Anogwih

2nd prize winner of a residency in Brazil to be facilitated by Eustaquio Neves

The work investigates the anticipations expectations, hopes, aspirations, ambitions of an individual and his/her dreams in the society. The elements interactively aid in determining the realization of these dreams, or the sometimes disappointments. Dreams are imaginary. They are threads that link the real and the imagined (illusive). They are imaginary lines of possibilities influenced by thinking or from bygone activities. Read more...

Pick of the Week 24.4.09

Welcome to Pick of the Week. Here's your guide to all that’s good to see, listen to, and do for the last week in April. This week there's a frenzy of film, theatre, art and some night-time fun for you, all recommended by our wise and well-informed gang of Artsbloggers.

Film– Chosen by Joanne
'East End Lives' Dir: Hazuan Hashim / Phil Maxwell
Rich Mix, Saturday 25th April, 6pm

Showing as part of the East End Film Festival 2009, this is a fresh and compelling exploration of the East End by an eclectic group of individuals who were born or have spent most of their lives there, all living in social housing on former Council Estates. A question and answer session with the Director follows. The festival kicked-off yesterday and runs until 30th April, focusing (as the name suggests), on London’s East End, and featuring an inspiring mix of homegrown filmmaking talent alongside larger independent releases.

Event - Chosen by Carly
DIY WOMP at 93 Feet East, Brick Lane, London
30th April 2009

DIY WOMP (Do It Yourself Word Of Mouth Promotions) are a lovely arts-y/music-y collective hailing from Watford originally. Working both there and in London, they help to connect and promote artists and musicians of all sorts and shapes through magical word of mouth - see what they did there?

On April 30th, they are having a spanky fun night in London at 93 Feet East in Brick Lane. The theme is 'Seeing Pink Elephants', and the place will be full of fabulous new art and joyous new music. It starts at 7pm and best of all, it's free, free, FREE! Go, go, go!

Exhibition – Chosen by Rosalie
Ran Huang and Nika Oblak & Primož Novak
VIVID, 140 Heath Mill Lane, Birmingham
30 April-16 May, Free

This show presents new work produced during the artists’ Spring residencies at VIVID. Huang has created a moving image piece that examines the relationship between East and West from a comically absurd slant. Nika Oblak and Primož Novak have previously toured the globe taking amusing pictures of themselves shearing sheep, drinking beer and pushing wheelbarrows. Sounds like fun. Here they have created a billboard displaying pictures of themselves, and then hidden it in the middle of a Welsh forest. Even more fun. If you’re anywhere near the Midlands, go and check it out.

Workshops - Chosen by Alison
V & A Digital Studio, Sackler Centre
Wednesdays from 15 April, 14.00-17.00
Free, drop-in

A series of open afternoons are running at the V&A Digital Studio at the moment, excellent for those of us with computers that creak or if you wanted to try something new. As their website says: ‘one afternoon a week the digital studio will open to allow visitors to drop-in, experiment and play. Explore the V&A collections using digital technology, create a digital drawing, try your hand at composing a piece of music or simply come and chat to one of the team.’ This kind lady pictured might even be there to help you out.

Exhibition - Chosen by Lisa and Frank
Cindy Sherman at Sprüth Magers, London
16th April – 27th May

Some had feared that Sherman's work was running a bit dry, as she has been using the same basic idea for years now. However, her newest self-portrait photography is still rather stunningly perfect, capturing colour and texture in such an unreal way that the images look almost like beautifully detailed paintings. Definitely worth having a look.

Festival - Chosen by Sam
Accidental Festival 2009
The Roundhouse, 22nd – 24th May

The Accidental Festival is produced and managed by students from the Performance Arts Pathway at The Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. Now in its forth year, the festival is happening at the Roundhouse this time around. An impressive selection of performers are involved, including Artichoke’s Helen Marriage and BAC’s David Jubb, and there’s a series of intriguing-looking discussions taking place too. Billed as a ‘celebration of talent, eccentricity and innovation’ in the arts, this should be of interest to practitioners and the just-vaguely-curious alike.

Gig – Chosen by Rosalie
Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard
Touring UK and beyond
22nd April – 16th May

New York comic-book maker and musician Jeffrey Lewis is back in the UK (and then on to France, Germany, Switzerland and Holland) touring his new album. His website describes his music as ‘lysergic garage rock’ and ‘tragi-comic folk’ (meaning...erm?), but really, don’t let that put you off. He’s toured with the likes of Devendra Banhart and Beth Orton, the tunes he makes are great, and his lyrics make you wish you were his friend. How many musicians can make you laugh out loud while they sing about devastating heartbreak, bringing down the capitalist system and doing too much acid? There are hand- illustrated projections to accompany this tour too. Go and see him!


Monday, 20 April 2009

'Sneak Preview'

It really is all consuming putting on an exhibition, I'd forgotten how much work is involved! The whole process of getting it organised and publicised has been quite stressful due to lack of time and this weekend was lost to framing and hanging; a tiresome task - bring on the day when I have my own minions to do such things for me! As if! I have been questioning why the hell I'm doing it and who it's really for - I feel a bit guilty for being so absorbed by it all - as if my work is so important! But I've committed - my head is on the block and it's gotta be good!

Here's a statement I wrote for it:
Emerging from collaborations and adventures with friends and muse, these photographic pieces seek to capture a child like innocence and a playful spirit within adult themes. Un-posed, subjects are caught semi-unaware in an attempt to capture intimate moments with themselves or a playmate. The work subverts the idea of a so-called masculine, feminine and 'gay-gaze', and concentrates on members of the gay community in London, to which the artist is drawn. The show also includes the beginnings of a project based on the artist's experiences and identity as a 'fag-hag' and invites other ladies and their gay friends to take part in a collaborative project. The artist also desires new 'muses' and welcomes any 'gorgeous' gay men to satisfy her artistic needs!

This is the first time I've exhibited in a while, since becoming a teacher over 4 years ago. The work I've been making is very different to that which I did previous to teaching and to be honest is quite the opposite to the more 'socio-political' work I try to advocate. Since falling into teaching photography as a subject, rather than general fine art, I have moved into a more photographic practice of my own and have been inspired to experiment with new skills and media... which is good for me and for my students and the resulting work is often quite beautiful to look at. I have always used photography but more as a documentary tool for my own performances and interventions or set up ideas and observations. I never made 'pretty pictures'; they were more like statements or comments.

So over the last few years I have collaborated sporadically with my friend and muse Nate, who is a gorgeous young gay dancer. He has been a great source of inspiration and encouraged me to get out there and show off the fruits of our labour. The work is quite self indulgent I guess, it's been fun to make and was possibly an escape from the reality of full time work. It is nice to look at (mostly) and I feel almost apologetic for that because there isn't a hard hitting message in there. It's quite ironic because I'm also working on some critical, theoretical work about photography and digitalisation for my MA in art and education. I have also worried (unnecessarily I think now!) about the content of some of the images which are a bit 'saucy', because of certain ideals of how teachers should be... and wondered whether I should invite colleagues and students - (I did in the end).
But what the hell - here I am exhibiting in what was once one of our locals and was in fact where I first met Nate when he was working behind the bar. And now it's all up and looking fabulous, i do feel quite proud and excited!

Friday, 17 April 2009

POTW 17.04.09

Hello, I'm Rosalie, new Artsadmin Intern, and as of today, new assembler of Pick of the Week. I've never done any blogging before, but I'm very over-excited about this whole prospect. So... hang on, I write stuff, and people actually (maybe) read it?! Yey! Even better, is that it's related to Pick of the Week - meaning I can find out about all kind of great art related goings-on. As a relative newcomer to London this is just what I need. This week seems to be a good one, with a load of intriguing things happening, including the rest of the joyful SPILL festival.

Festival - Chosen by Eleanor and Richard
Until 26th April 2009

With just over a week to go, make sure you try and see some of the array of events at this extravaganza of performance, live art and experimental theatre. A good start would be Mitch and Parry's 'I Host You. Now Tonight, Let Me Show You How' (National Platform 18 April). Tickets are free, but you need to email SPILL to reserve a place.

Talk - Chosen by Sam
Artists & Boundaries
Monday 20th April
Go and listen to the artist and Artsblog blogger Richard Dedomenici, Mark McGowan and Mad For Real discuss "artists and boundaries" this Monday.

Exhibition - Chosen by Frank
Whitechapel Gallery
Passports: Great Early Buys from the British Council Collection

If you haven't been yet, get yourself to the freshly re-opened Whitechapel Gallery. After an impressive refurbishment programme (costing £13 million!), the Whitechapel is now glowing with health and substantially expanded. Watch a video about the new space here. 'Passports', just one of the interesting exhibitions currently showing, features a selection of works from the British council's collection of over 8,000 pieces. Iconic early works from artists such as Peter Doig, Sarah Lucas and Lucien Freud are included.

Exhibition - Chosen by Alison
The Hayward Gallery
Annette Messager: The Messangers
click here for information. This retrospective of Annette Messager's work presents an overview of the artist’s career and reveals her use of an astonishing and affecting repertoire of forms and materials (among them soft toys, stuffed animals, fabrics, wool, photographs and drawings).I went to the Hayward a few weeks ago, meaning to see the Mark Wallinger show upstairs, and quickly pop into this and was so blown away by Messager's work that I stayed for two hours, and had to have a stiff drink afterwards (leaving the Wallinger show sadly neglected).

Exhibition: chosen by Holly:
Five Hundred Dollars
12 Vyner Street, London E2 9DG
07794 695789
email here
Friday to Sunday.
Can't tell you much about the show as there isn't much writing about it anywhere on the wonderweb, so you will just have to take our word for it and go!

Exhibition - chosen by Lisa
Wallace & Gromit present a World of Cracking Ideas
Science Museum
28th March - 1st November

A bit young-person orientated, but here is a fun little show that illustrates how to put your wackiest ideas into good and practical use... an interesting little thing for creative designers to think about, Aardman fan or not.


Monday, 13 April 2009

Excess Visions of Visions of Excess

Judging by the large number of cameras flashing and chirping in a variously distracting/annoying/rude manner, I'm sure there is already an outpouring of documentation pertaining to yesterday's Visions of Excess live art all-nighter at Shunt Vaults, so instead I present a single image, taken betwixt scheduled performances, which I think neatly encapsulates the tone of the evening:

(The chocolate bar and the lipstick are analogous to the bodily functions and fluids displayed in much of the work, while the indistinct morass of human flesh in the background alludes to the visceral nature of the evening's programme.)

My brain is still struggling to interpret most of the things I witnessed, and indeed has erased some of the more extreme content, so it is impossible for me to offer a full review at this juncture.


Saturday, 11 April 2009

Imagining the wonder of a communicative police force

At the start of this, month I, like many of you I suspect, was out on the street protesting to try to get my small voice heard by the g20 leaders meeting in London.

I spent the day mainly at the climate camp near Liverpool Street and was pleasantly surprised by the nature of the policing. Protesters and police chatted happily and the only thing exchanged other than kind words was a flower given to a smiley policeman. What a joyous scene!

But as night fell the attitude of these previously so amiable coppers changed and they donned their riot gear. This sudden change of character was a little surprising, but what really surprised me was the lack of any type of communication to the protesters about their plans. Being mostly peaceful hippy types, the protesters were relaxed about the situation, wanting to protest, but not to the point of getting their heads beaten in. However there was no indication from the police if or when this time might come. It seems to me foolish to think that action without warning will not cause at least a little confusion and thus bad feeling.

There was no sense of attempting to work with the protesters to work out a solution for both sides, but more to beat or break them in some way to show some type of supremecy. It is this strange mentality of competition and confrontation that made the situation more difficult for both sides. The protesters, because of the unpredictable and intimidating tactics of the police, and the police, because of the resolution that they had brought out in the protesters to fight for what they believe in, even if it meant sitting down and waiting to be physically picked up and moved.

It is however not the individual policemen that I am criticising, but their tactics of intimidation and unwarned violent action, that can clearly only breed bitterness. This leaves you considering, in a street of only protesters and police, who are these people protecting? Are we not the people that they are supposed to "protect and serve"?

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Performance artists on

Here I am, minding my business, being a (that's Fashion, folks!) slave, checking out what's happening in the word of Style, as one does, and who do I find on's social pages ... MARINA ABRAMOVIC!!!

This is almost as good as Carrie Bradshaw going to an Abramovic performance, no? Except this is real life!!! OK, granted, the shot was taken at the opening of artist Terence Koh's newest show, but still ... STYLE.COM!?!?!!

I think this is brilliant and I'm super glad my love for fashion and performance has made such a tangible crossover. In layman's terms: Marina Abramovic = performance art, = fashion, therefore: MA + SDC = tangible crossover of fash and p-art! Now fashionistas across the globe can unashamedly show their true colours (i.e. that they 'like' fashion) when attending live art events! Yay!

Next thing Marina will be front-row at Marc Jacobs ... sitting next to Anna Wintour (talk about influential, iconic women) ... and we know what that means ... a Vogue cover isn't far off!

ALLRIGHT!!! CAN'T WAIT!!!Abramovic with Koh (pic courtesy of

Friday, 3 April 2009

Love your free art institutions

After a recent trip to Holland, I have come back with far more than waffles and photographs of the crooked, beautiful houses. I’ve come back with an appreciation of our free art institutions.

Being a student, I was basically skint for the whole of the trip and was banking on my ability to spend long days wandering through many of Amsterdam’s world renowned museums and art galleries. Amsterdam is home to some very important and revolutionary works by artist such as Rembrant and Van Gogh. Unfortunately I was astounded by the fact that vast majority of these are inside very costly museums and galleries with no free collections.

This was in such contrast to the scatter of small and large free galleries in London that it really made me appreciate the ease at which we can wander out our door and into some of the finest galleries in the world for no more than the price of a train ticket.

I have often criticized these places for the hierarchical, self congratulating and some times just plain boring art that they perpetuate, however this trip really made me appreciate the fact that although they may not be perfect, they're there for everyone.  So I say to all those living anywhere near a free art institution, love it! There’s those that don’t have one.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Pick of the week 03.04.2009

Time to say good bye! Today is my last day here and this is my last pick for you. Enjoy it!

Exhibition - Chosen by Joanne
Anish Kapoor - Blood Rleations
10th April - 24th May
One of Anish Kapoor events/exhibitons, as part of the Brighton Festival 2009 curated by the artist. This is an early event in the festival, with more to come in May.

Collaboration - Chosen by Alison
The Collection - a collaboration between the Victoria Miro Gallery and The Sioban Davies Dance Studio. The Collection is a series of ambitious collaborations that look at the interfaces of contemporary art and dance, where these worlds intersect and how they might inform one another. At the heart of The Collection is a mutual curiosity for potential exchanges across both art forms, and an exploration of the connections and disconnections within them.

Exhibition - Chosen by Lisa
Wait! By Lindsey Copeland
A visual investigation into the importance of the word "Wait" and the value of patience.
Dreamspace Gallery, 6th April-10th April - FREE

Art Fair - Chosen by Oyinda
Johannesburg Art Fair
2nd - 5th April 2009
Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg
Following the remarkable success of last year's event, the next Johannesburg Art Fair
will take place in April 3-5, with more exciting programming and hopefully more gallery participation. Presently the event will feature 25 galleries, 8 special projects and 33 artist-talks. Among the 8 projects, I am particularly curious, that is to say highly enthusiastic, about the "Featured Artist" project for which Jane Alexander--to my mind one of the most powerful figurative sculptors working today--will present her installation piece, Security; of equal interest should be the show of film works by artists from the "Global South," organized by my friend Tumelo Mosaka of the Brooklyn Museum.

Fair - Chosen by Marion
Only 2 days to go until The Affordable Vintage Fair hits Bethnal Green!
Get your reusable carrier bags and oyster cards at the ready and come down to the Fym Fyg Bar, 231 CAMBRIDGE HEATH RD, E2 0EL on SATURDAY 11:00-16:00!

1000’s of bargains, vintage clothing, accessories and homewares including Rag&Bow’s marvelous vintage treats!
Kilo stall, get 1 kilo of clothes for £15!!
Fully loaded bar serving drinks and sandwiches
Lady Luck’s Pop up Tea Shoppe with themed retro tables, handmade cakes and glam waitresses
Queens of Vintage providing free hair & make up tips with Forties pin-up model Fleur de Guerre
What more can I say…it’s going to be a good’un!!
Some of our stall holders accept cards but best to bring cash as well (there is also a cash machine located within The Fym Fig Bar)

Skart - On the Origin of Wishes
Where: Space, London E8
When: Sat 4 Apr - Fri 22 May 2009

Belgrade-based art activist group Škart present their first UK retrospective, covering more than 20 years of socially engaged work, heavily influenced by the tumultuous political and social history of former Yugoslavia.

Opening - The Whitechapel Gallery
After 2 years wait the Whitechapel reopens on Sunday 5th April. With Isa Genzkin, Ursula Mayer's and many other hot picks on show we are happy to see the doors open again.
But don't forget to also head to the Shop on Toynbee Street (the Whitechapels off site space) to see Minerva Cuevas' S.COOP project more info here.

Dance (well kinda) - New Art Club
The Place
The Visible People
4th and 5th of April
£5 - £15

New Art Club is Tom Roden and Pete Shenton, they have been working with a group of "non professional dancers" to create The Visable People, a take on their hugely successful show the Visable Men.
The show aims to create a world where the familiar laws of physics are unreliable, where things and people appear, disappear and re-appear somewhere else. With some dancing, some talking, some simple gags and some subtle surprises, New Art Club and gang explode the myths hidden behind the theatrical curtain.
I'm in!