I went to a lecture the other day at the Royal College of Art, which although about art as resistance, mostly addressed its opposite, a phrase I have heard more and more lately in relation to the art world and art education: "the manufacture of hopelessness." The phrase sounds like a joke, but it’s not. Expressed by many students at a school that now costs thousands of pounds a year, it’s the feeling that the capital A, capital W, Art World is an impenetrable whole, top fed by astron... [more]
We've not been hugely supportive of institutional presentations of graffiti previously: too often they put out unresponsive, stale, or simply haphazard exhibitions that do not render context or format. They assign too much concept or none at all, and each is as bad as the other.
But this massive group show, Mapping the City, in association with A(by)P at the new wing of Somerset House, London (ironically, a former tax office) looks like a well-balanced approach to circumventing this problematic art fo... [more]
Launch Pad was founded in London in early 2014. It is described as a commissioning program intended to serve as a platform for emerging artists who have not previously exhibited in the UK. Three artists per year are invited to create a new work that responds to the domestic space, history, or environment of the founder’s home. The founder is Sarah Elson, an art historian and seasoned art collector as well as an active philanthropist.
The project sounds simple enough: publicly accessible... [more]
Peckham's Arcadia Missa, founded by Rozsa Farkas with Tom Clark as assistant director and head of publishing, and Tenderpixel, founded by Etan Ilfeld with Borbála Soós as director and curator, are two broad and interesting London gallery projects worth getting to know. Both have evolved over the past few years beyond the typical gallery's scope, by pushing strong research collaborations and rigorous publishing programs. As such they both represent unconventional and expansive gallery m... [more]
Opening this weekend at Raven Row London is a series of events about the intersection of literature and art called Plastic Words, which will run throughout December and January. There has been a resurgent interest in the overlap of contemporary literature and art recently. The development of the independent Art Writing MFA at Goldsmiths and its swift subsumption back into the MFA in Fine Art neatly demonstrates the sometimes contested, sometimes happily shared, ground these modes of working occ... [more]
On the wall of the gallery space at Chelsea College of Arts there is a screen on which a monochrome film plays out. It’s a transfer from an old tape marked at the edges with braided lines, strange interference artifacts of spooling marks in stark black and white framing the scene.
The image of a room looks smoky, misty, colloidal, but that’s just the video. A man with a tight buzz cut stoops over a fire bucket, poised, an end-blown flute to his mouth, using the opening and the moveme... [more]
From Emma Watson's recent "game-changing" UN speech, to Petra Collin's banned-from-Instagram bikini line debacle, gender equality is back on the mainstream social issue agenda—and of particular concern in our visual-centric culture is how to reinforce positive images of women.
The radical French feminist writers Helene Cixous and Anne LeClerc theorized about women's bodies as a currency in advertising, refering to the process of "tampaxification"—an example of the oppression of women... [more]
I recently came across Matthew Collings’ mid-nineties book Blimey! From Bohemia to Brit Pop, a no-holds-barred, bystander-style, verbal diarrhea of a monologue about the London Art World and its eccentricities. It’s so delightfully outdated not even two decades on that it makes you both inwardly cringe and want to read on in a “why isn’t art like this anymore?” kind of way. I was momentarily left mourning an irreverent art attitude I was too young to experience. For a... [more]
Jonathan Jones writes an art blog for the Guardian newspaper. I read his column with the same morbid fascination I used to reserve for those times when I’d come across a piece by Julie Burchill. Which is to say I begin with the nascent thrill of knowing my pique is going to be stimulated, followed by a good bit of private outrage, and finally a satisfying wallow in indignation. None of these are particularly attractive human characteristics; they are, however, pleasurable and best practic... [more]
It has been announced that fans of Damien Hirst describe themselves as moody, love TV's Ross Kemp, and eat vegetarian bangers and mash, according to a remarkable new web app launched this week by internet pollsters YouGov.
The app, which collates data from over 190,000 UK YouGov members has already kicked off a Twitter storm as people can find out for themselves what the most leftwing cheese is or the remarkable fact that if you like Tracey Emin, your third most likely favorite film is the Samuel L. Ja... [more]
Daniel K. Sparkes (a.k.a Mudwig in a previous incarnation) is a British artist whose offbeat approach has seen his work pop up in the most unusual spots all over the world, including Wroclaw, The Hague and Sheffield—alongside weighty venues such as Jonathan LeVine NY and Somerset House London (as part of upcoming Mapping the City). Sparke’s take on everyday life mixes surreal playfulness with humorous textuality: a "fur" print t-shirt was a recent eye-catcher. Thematically, he sets about... [more]
Christopher Kulendran Thomas is an artist/art strategist whose approach I have long admired. When I invited him to realize a project at my London gallery the Agency, he brought me The Air Inn Venice (TAIV) and its creator, LA artist Kristin Luke. Christopher met Kristin when she originally curated him at TAIV, along with her own practice and contributions by Ed Fornieles and Renzo Martens, in her California pad. Now Christopher is curating TAIV for the Agency. A three-way dialogue ensues as the... [more]
Just over a week ago, legendary East London gay pub The Joiners Arms announced it will be closing its doors (not the first announcement of this sort we've covered lately). At the heart of Hackney's LGBT club scene since 1997, the pub has been an institution that helped combat homophobia in the area, and remains an important venue for the growing gay and transvestite culture that has since become a community.
As if on cue, a new series of photographs documenting and celebrating the East London tran... [more]
The terrorist group ISIS, the proclaimed Islamic State, has done an overwhelming amount of work to inject images—and fears—into the minds of the West. Their professional use of modern language, entertainment industry tropes, and technology blends with medieval horrors to generate what could be considered the most successful PR campaign of the year. Its success reflects an age of instant shared information and the extremes of visual branding. That a reactionary organization with anti... [more]
In an Italian restaurant on Broadway Market in East London a poster hangs in a nice, clean frame above the heads of diners. Centered squarely, slam in the middle of flag colors, mock-up parts of vintage Fiats, and a certain nostalgic tint of the chrome Rome of fashion and Fellini, this poster advertises the 2004 Mark Wahlberg American remake of The Italian Job, itself a remake of the extravagantly xenophobic anti-Italian original.
Further deepening the fascinating role of cultural misappropriation in the... [more]
The marking of the centenary of the First World War seems to have provided a good excuse for many galleries to revisit some of the greats of Expressionism. Namely, the unholy, and unholily popular trinity of Dix, Grosz, and Schiele, three men who, in recording their everyday lives and tumultuous surroundings in lividly-colored, pinched perspectives, also let the burgeoning sexuality of youth pound priapically against the quivering doors of the traditional nude. Ahem. Grosz’s early portfolios a... [more]