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Thursday, 28 March 2013

in defiance of being here. Richard T. Walker @ Carroll/Fletcher Gallery

© Richard T Walker
in defiance of being here
Carroll / Fletcher, 2013

Last night, I was privileged to go to the UK première of Ryoji Ikeda’s superposition: a spacescape’s catwalk. An intense exploration through quantum mechanics combined with a powerful display of technology, electronic minimalism sound sculptures and visual infinite landscapes.
When used to a specific landscape, do we still look at it? Do we still trust our eye? Wim Wenders’ Lisboa Story was challenging the issue when “unseen images” are captured with a sellotaped camera in the back of a sound engineer's head. British-born, San Francisco-based Richard T. Walker with his back to the camera talks, sings and plays music directly to the land, problematising these images of a familiar and seductive beauty with his own presence as protagonist, confronting the spectacle with the complexities of his very human concerns “I have become far too familiar with these places… I have forgotten the beauty of a vista, or what is actually meant by a view”.
Photographs and multi-channel videos offer expansive and compelling views of landscapes, primarily of the American West, where Walker has lived for the last 6 years “we need to return to the understanding that I am a completely separate entity… then we can long for a time when we can be together again”. The artist has worried, debated, cajoled and declared unending devotion to the landscape which has remained steadfastly impassive. These almost comic scenarios in which the artist agonises over the intricacies of his feelings in the face of an emotionally detached natural world are Walker's attempt to reposition an idea of nature as essentially independent of human involvement.
His narratives take the form of diary entries, letters or imagined dialogues: communication that allows the figure in the landscape to speak straight from the heart. The matter-of-factness of his tone is in direct contrast to the grandeur of the visual material, which seduces the viewer as much as the artist wishes to be seduced by his unresponsive lover “we must establish this as a space that exists outside of all the things within it… including, most importantly… myself… yourself… ourself…”.
Richard T. Walker offers a meditative exploration of an ambivalent relationship with its subject/exhibition titled in defiance of being here: a spare minimal work that reduces the principal elements of Walker’s practice to their bare bones. Mountains have become outlines, and music a single continuous chord. The photography room titled proximity of longing is a series of 27 pictures taken over the course of a sunset in an unsuspecting Ocotillo shrub in the midst of the Anza Borrego desert in Southern California. When Walker seems to be lecturing the landscape, we/he soon realise/s that this recalcitrant nature is teaching a communion with it that so elude us/him. Next door, the multi channel video room the speed and eagerness of meaning is shot in the Death Valley and shows the artist addressing the vista with a combination of words and music. Downstairs, let this be us is an elegantly composed narrative in which the figure is seen traversing the planes and ridges while carrying what appears to be a photograph of the same landscape mounted on a poster board. Next door, outside of all things, Walker constructs a more portable landscape photo, strapped to his back as he searches the deserts for the horizon line that fits the bill, using an image of the snow capped Mount Shasta in Northern California. Back to the entrance that I decided to dismiss for some unknown reasons is an installation of neon light combined with a chord that presupposes a song that never quite gets going. The constant chord manifests the kind of repetition that forms such a crucial feature of all Walker’s projects.
Next film accompanying the exhibition is 3rd April-free but booking essential:
Carroll/Fletcher Gallery; 56 - 57 Eastcastle St, London W1W 8EQ

Further landscape’s exhibitions in London:
- Ryoji Ikedasuperposition, 28 March 2013 @ 
-   Mark Fisher and Justin Barton, On Vanishing Land, till 30 March 2013 @ Showroom:  
-   Ansel Adams, Photography from the MOUNTAINS to the SEA, till 28th April @ Royal Museums Greenwich:

references: Wim Wenders’s Lisboa Story

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Ten: Brian Eno, Ken Loach, Saadi Yusef etc. for a benefit evening from The Stop the War Coalition

original artwok by Peter Kennard
credit: kennardphillipps
On the 15th of February 2003, 10 of us were meeting @ Waterloo Bridge: lecturers, two musicians, a BFI worker and a photographer. The purpose of the meeting: demonstration against the war in Iraq. It was bitter cold and we were all seriously hung over. The 10 of us slept in a South London flat and eventually one of us realised that we didn’t have to wait for anybody else on the Bridge as the 10 of us were there. We headed to Embankment where the demonstration started. We had packed a picnic for Hyde Park, the final destination and we planned to stop en route for some drinks in pubs. We honoured almost every single pub on the way to Hyde Park. Everyone in the pubs was demonstrating and we met many more friendly people on the road unhappy about the war. Those who were British citizens had voted Tony Blair and those who were not would have voted for him. So we really hoped Tony, then labelled by the press The Tony Blair Witch Project after the Blair Witch Project film, would rethink his Bush position! We had faith and we sang with people singing, we danced with people dancing, we shouted “Don’t attack Irak” “Not in my name” “Stop the War”, we played with kids holding their tiny banners. Surprisingly enough, we arrived on time in Hyde Park for the talks, music etc. and ate our sandwiches with wool gloves… that was a first for all of us. We knew we owed to Ken Livingston, then Mayor of London, for making it possible to be in Hyde Park and other famous people involved were Banksy who made “Wrong War” banners, Kate Moss, Alexander McQueen, Bianca Jagger, George Galloway etc.
The demonstration was organised by The British Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and we learnt later in the evening that we were nearly two millions in the street: that was the biggest political demonstration in London’s history. Tony Blair declared that evening that the number of people disagreeing with him would not alter his decision!
Sunday 7th of April 2013 at 6pm: The Stop the War Coalition will hold a benefit evening, Ten, at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq – and to celebrate the enduring anti-war movement. TEN comprises ten, ten-minute pieces with specially commissioned new plays, music, poetry and comedy from British and Middle Eastern artists, that so far include  BRIAN ENO, SAADI YUSEF JANIE DEE, ROGER LLOYD PACK, AHMED MUHKTAR,  JANE LAPOTAIRE, SHAPPI KHORSANDI and TIMOTHY WEST. Each play will be introduced by a leading political figure from the anti-war movement, including Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, Lindsey German, Jeremy Corbyn MP and Ken Loach. There will also be an exclusive screening of Harold Pinter reading poems from his collection War in 2004.  Top price tickets to the benefit will include signed prints of the now iconic image Photo-Op by anti war artists Kennard Phillips and a programme. Organiser Jan Woolf of Rootball Productions said: «Ten years on and the effects of the Blair – Bush invasion of Iraq still resonate. As they must! As they will. Iraq still has an occupying force and remains in chaos, while the ‘war on terror’ swallows ludicrous resources at a time of forced austerity on the people of this country.  We know that there was no base for al Q’aida in Iraq and that WMD were a fabrication, ensuring Blair’s historical legacy as a warmonger.  In TEN, we both commemorate the dead and celebrate an anti-war movement that has deepened and grown. An astounding range of talent has come together voluntarily – actors, musicians, performers, politicians, activists - playwrites writing five new plays – to express that the outrage was ‘Not In Our name.’ Brian Eno says – ‘Far from admitting it was a mistake, there’s now a vigorous effort to rewrite history and convince us that, in the end, it has all turned out for the good. In order that we don’t embark on yet another stupid war – In Iran, or Mali, or anywhere else, we need to remember what really happened in Iraq.’  Ten is at the Royal Court Theatre on Sunday 7 April at 6pm. Tickets £20-£50 available online at or from the Royal Court Theatre Box Office 0207 565 5000. -ends- Note to Editors: The Stop the War Coalition was founded in 2001 to stop the military intervention in Afghanistan proposed by the United States and its allies against ‘terrorism’. In 2003 it brought together up to 2 million - Britain’s largest demonstration - to oppose intervention in Iraq. Listings Information Ten: Stop the War Benefit Sunday 7 April 6pm Jerwood Theatre Downstairs Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS Tickets £30, £25, £20, £50 (£50 tickets include a signed poster of Photo-Op poster)

Monday, 18 March 2013

I stalked a window cleaner on Woodkid.

album = Golden Age by Woodkid
After a long night of libertinage in Soho, I walk down Shaftesbury Avenue to get the 38 bus to Clapton Pond. 7.30 am and our window cleaner is already highly energetic: top half, soapy and dry, bottom half, same. From window to window, shop to shop, I follow him walking back up the avenue. Window cleaners have fascinated me as far as I can remember. I guess he owes his speed to the stuff he is listening to. He is packing up and I ask him what the music is? “Woodkid… some new album called Golden Age”. Woodkid, what a name! Probably more catchy than Pinocchio though! I invite Keith the Window Cleaner for breakfast, so hopefully I can listen to the album. Keith, what a name! It reminds me of Mike Leigh’s Nuts in May: no parents in their right minds should call their son Keith. It should be illegal by now. But our Keith is Australian.
We enter a breakfast-all-day shop in Covent Garden. As we order some copious breakfast (no eggs, no bacon for me). Keith explains he nicked the album in a record label he volunteered for before and after his music business studies. The label received it from another rec label and Keith liked it. His Oyster and lunch expenses were paid for as well as being on many gigs and clubs guest list. He met his Lithuanian girlfriend @ an Amon Tobin London gig in 2011. An unexpected baby went on her way and they lived together. No proper job on the way and the relationship falling offshore, he took a night security job as well as cleaning windows.
The cyber-good-looking-punk waiter is coming with food and we ask if he can plug Woodkid. Our cyber punk Raj volunteered for a graphic design agency where he came across Woodkid AIDS campaign video. He is actually better known internationally for his video works (music videos and ads).
As the music plays, I realise that Woodkid universe has nothing to do with those famous names he videoed for. His music is a fusion of soft acoustica and dramatic industrial/orchestral romps while his vocal texture is sombre and rich which takes you off beyond the stratosphere.
“Why do you want two jobs if you can pay the rent with one?” Keith explains he is under 35 and won’t get any Housing Benefit money for a two bedroom flat when his one year old daughter comes around. At present, he is in a studio flat and it is not so convenient when she visits. She will grow up and neighbours will be quick to find anything suspicious. He is saving up for a deposit and he produces some music sounds when he is not looking after her. Keith tells Raj that there are always security jobs if he needed extra cash. One can wonder if anything has really evolved since David Leland’s wrote Made In Britain and other TV wonders?
The 38 journey home is a long way at this hour, but Metro is sitting next to me to entertain me: Kate Middleton is revealing by mistake the sex of her baby. Boo hoo + Yayee! We, subjects of United Kingdom are so happy that the little princess will have lots of rooms to play around “I Want my Potty!”
Back home, I have just watched three videos Woodkid made for his songs. It is visually as astonishing as its sound. If Bowie latest album says at some point “I am a seer, but I am a liar”, I would place the wooden kid on that level without its long nose. Pure gem.

Golden Age UK release is on the 18th March 2013
Woodkid videos for other artists:

References: Amon Tobin, Mike Leigh’Nuts in May, David Leland’s Made In Britain,

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dollmania @ 20 Horse Hospital Years.

Works by Morton Bartlett
She is coming from Stoke Newintgton High Street and I from Stamford hill. I notice her Alice in Wonderlands looks pushing a double pram. As we meet at the Junction of Stoke Newington High Street-Stamford Hill and Northwold Road, I realise that she is quite an antique Alice. Her pram is filled with dolls. As I walk toward the Film Shop to drop Jane Arden dvds and borrow Julien Temple’s London, The Modern Babylon and Petit-Sinclair’s London Orbital, I keep thinking of Don’t Look Now!
I am on 73 bus to the Horse Hospital wearing a John Peel badge. I have worn it ever since the HH had a special celebration when John decided to breathe out for ever in Peru. 20 years that the HH has been raging against the machine and tonight is a screening on a dolls theme to go along with Morton Bartlett’s Dollmania exhibition. Bartlett’s photographs show his beautiful intricately-carved, life-like, plaster dolls made between 1926 – 1963 in an oversize print edition. For 27 years Bartlett dedicated all his free time and resources to the creation of 15 beautifully crafted plaster children. Suspended in relaxed, photogenic poses or mid action, dancing, crying, translucent resin tears fixed on flushed cheeks, frozen in time, forever immersed in the intimacy, unselfconsciousness and wonder of childhood: from pre-pubescence to adolescence.
Bartlett influenced the likes of Cindy Sherman and the Chapman Brothers. In 1996, I saw the Jake and Dinos Chapman exhibition @ the ICA whose faceless human size dolls were largely inspired by Bartlett. I remember some years later watching a TV program about Justin Frishman and Damian Albarn (then living together) and who had just bought one of their doll.
I have always been intrigued by people who “manage” dolls. It gives me a strong feeling of discomfort but the subject fascinates me as I never touched a doll (or a car) and there were lots of them in the house when a child. I was mainly bored until I could read!
The Horse Hospital is the only existing unspoilt example of a two-floor, purpose-built stable remaining for public access in London. Situated in the heart of historic Bloomsbury and built originally in 1797 by James Burton, the building may have been redeveloped sometime after 1860. The shell is constructed with London Stocks and red brick detail, whilst the interior features a mock cobbled herringbone pattern re-enforced concrete floor. Access to the both floors is by concrete moulded ramps. The upper floor ramp retains hardwood slats preventing the horses from slipping. Each floor has five cast iron pillars and several original iron tethering rings.
In 2004 the HH team consulted the DCMS about saving this historical and beautiful building from the imminent threat of redevelopment, it was promptly awarded a Grade 2 listing by English Heritage, thereby ensuring this piece of living history will be preserved for posterity long after we have gone.
So… since 1993 the HH has not only been fortunate enough to have shown a vast amount of B-artists amazing work by some of the underworlds true visionaries such as Helen Chadwick, Gee Vaucher & Crass, Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren, Franko B, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Lydia Lunch, Bjaarne Melgard to name but a few, but HH has also had the privilege to support and introduce literally hundreds of obscure artists, performers, filmmakers and writers, who may otherwise have been denied a voice by more mainstream organisations, to an ever-growing, receptive and appreciative audience.
2013 will welcome more artists and interesting events and HH will surely recur for many years to come.

Morton Bartlett’s Dollmania exhibition: Sat 2nd March – Sat 30th March 2013, Mon – Sat, 12 – 6pm
SCREENING Weds 20th March, 7:30pm: ‘The Love Statue LSD Experience’ + more TBC.
BOOKING now for free screening on the 20th March:

Monday, 11 March 2013

The beauty out of the ugly, Les Fleurs du Mal

2 Years After, remembering 11th March. The Great East Japan Earthquake Press Photo Exhibition: 5-17 March 2013 @ Oxo Tower Wharf, Southwark

So strange the last post (Bowie’s Next Day) finished with the whales swimming (changed from the original dolphins in Heroes), referring to a film made on board of the Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru. The next post was to be about fashion, but I have just come across this 2 Years After exhibition.
10 years ago, I set a walking journey from Barnes Bridge to Tower Bridge. Two days filming the River bank and its passengers (animals, humans, buildings, objects) and the bridges (I love London Bridges) on 7x1hour DV tapes.
The 35 bus from Camberwell drops me @ London Bridge, the first London road-crossing of the Thames, where I intend to walk to Waterloo Bridge and stop @ BFI Southbank for the Pasolini screening. No weather has ever prevented me from my weekly street walking on the Thames south bank listening to the waves smacking the beach up. A stop over @ 1615 build pub The Anchor for a Guiness and a ciggie is my usual pleasure while “admiring” Hmpresident moored opposite the beach (Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London from there but we don’t care either).
Passing by the Tate Modern and before reaching the National Theatre, I find myself lured into the Oxo Tower Gallery’s photographic exhibition. Like a rare collectable stamp, the first image that attracts my attention is a four identical photographs piece going clockwise in a four minutes space. The first image is a tranquil urban set while the last one is immersed with water. The other day, I saw the marvelous Kris Martin’s grave stones @ White Cube arranged in the formation of dominos. The effect expected is of a fragility sensation: a kick and the whole game falls however heavy is a grave stone. Kris Martin’s artwork was well cordoned off. Here @ 2 Years After, most photographs give you the feeling of a no-escape perspective. It happened. It is beyond fragility. It is the violence of the unexpected. It is the surrealist beauty of real life. Had Dali painted a cruise ship on the top of a house standing alone in a vast empty space, a smile or a “whatever” emotion would have been the reaction. Had a photographer collaged pictures of débris surrounding a human being, we would understand its tragic situation. Perhaps our mind is set up on a remote control feeling. However, when the beauty of these images is a real happening, it leaves at times a stucked tear in the eye. Another photo is that of teenager Ruri Sasaki mournfully playing her trumpet beside the rubble of her former home. The moving scene gained national attention and led to Ruri receiving an invitation to play alongside professional musicians at a charity concert in aid of disaster-struck areas. The song she performed outside her ruined home and at the concert delivered that same message of enduring hope, with Makenaide translating as ‘Don’t Give Up.’ This determination to persevere in the face of unimaginable tragedy encapsulates the spirit that carried Japan through the disaster and into the fresh sense of optimism that prevails today.
The 2013 exhibition marks the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, offering an opportunity to both remember the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region and gain a sense of the progress made towards recovery. The exhibition will also be held simultaneously in Paris and Hanoi.
Free entrance. Oxo Tower Wharf, situated on the South Bank riverside walkway between the National theatre and Tate Modern, open daily 11am to 6pm. Underground: Southwark Tube Station, Waterloo Tube Station, Lambeth North Tube Station. Rail Stations: Waterloo Railway Station, Waterloo East Railway. Twitter: @2YearsAfter

For other events taking place on the 11th March in regard of the earthquake, check these website: 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

David Bowie the Next Day (the First Day of the Rest of your Life)

album = The Next Day by David Bowie

The gate is open but the sign reads « private property, trespassers will be hung and left to rot in the Baobab Tree”. She stands in my garden quite happily. I shout “you can’t stay here, this is private”. “Can I come in? I’d like to visit”. “It is not for sale”. “I’m not buying… you !§?!X”. I am sure she said “you idiot” although I didn’t hear it, but I saw her lips moving after “buying”. “Just for a coffee, please”. “I haven’t washed”. “I come later! What time?”. “Come tomorrow at 10am”. Why on earth did I just say that? What demon pushed me?
The next day, 10 am. Like a long medieval absence, dogs and cats throw a party around her and she is happy to indulge, giving back the honour. She sits in a chair, exhausted. “Coffee? Milk?, Sugar?”. “I saw Bowie and other people in the night!”. That’s precisely why I don’t want to socialise anymore. I have met enough nutcases in my life. “Bowie in London?”. “Bowie in New York recording. Out Of Body Experience”. Of course, some nuts interest me more than others. I give her black coffee, leaving milk and sugar on the side. I haven’t spoken to Bowie for two decades but have heard from a mutual friend that he had written some materials. She describes the scene and how Bowie is surprisingly looking for the most minutious exactness. She thought he was all over the place. “Just black… the coffee!”. “I’ll make a fresh one”. “Better keep this news for yourself” I suggest. “Better, yes. People will think I am crazy. Not that they think I am sane, but no need to dig it further”. We decide that the Bin Laden trauma and his death probably triggered the OBE. Then we have lunch, dinner, sipping Chablis all along with a selection of cheeses Made in UK from Neal’s Yard Dairy shop “You should write a book about your life”. “I am too old, lazy and unknown, beside I am no writer”. “A blog maybe?”. That was roughly two years ago. Now she’s back for good and Bowie recurs by revisiting Heroes for The Next Day, his 24th studio opus. Where Are We Now? is the lead single ballad to prepare us, earthlings, for his come back when speculation about his imminent death were raving around the world. Heroes n°2 provides moments of déjà-entendu, miming memories while injecting nerve-singing vibrancy. Wasn’t Bjork talking about revisiting moments of one’s life at specific moments in The Inner or Deep Part of an Animal or Plant Structure?
Like an observer from the cosmos, el maestro comes back down tongue-in-cheek-teeth-at-your-throat-angst-ridden-vocal to sing his bright and aggressive lullabies: “I’d rather be flying, I’d rather be dead, than out of my head and training these guns on those men in the sand.” Stomping rhythms, visceral guitars and brutal honking baritone sax will sweetly bruise your brain as the album conveys, with apt anxiety or disgust, the fears of a world driven by conflict and superficial VIP: “burn you with their radium smiles and trap you with their beautiful eyes”- “Here I am, not quite dying, my body left to rot in a hollow tree.”-“will take your lands...slaughter your beasts...I am the spirit Greed”-“How does the grass grow? Blood, blood, blood!”-“I can see you as a corpse, hanging from a beam... Oh, see if I care, Oh please make it soon,” sings Bowie with exquisite, beautiful poise. “Oblivion shall own you, death alone shall love you.”-“I am a seer, but I am a liar.”
No tour dates for the Next Day, but that doesn’t mean Bowie will not take the stage anymore! Visconti warns: “More next days to come”! He knows what he is talking about… right now, he is walking the New York streets and parks, headphones on, listening to His Master’s Voice new material… I will be king and you will be queen, I wish you could swim like the whales,  like whales can swim... Oh we can be heroes for ever and ever.

The Next Day' is set for release on 11 March in standard and deluxe versions
also @ the V&A;

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Passage @ the Wapping Project

14 Feb
Today I woke up feeling shïte. Not that I felt good yesterday, so no surprise! I had breakfast, then lunch one hour later. My mission of the day: going to see Passage @ the Wapping Project.
En route from Roman Road-Parnell Road: bus n°8 to Cambridge Heath Road. My vintage Ipod is blasting LCD Soundsystem, starting with Too Much Love (never managed to get the Daft Punk is Playing at my House track). Too much love. How funny! I don’t think so. I am not even religious about the 14th of Feb, but that must be a curse.
By the time it shifts to Tribulation, the bus has not moved from the bus stop I got on. Eventually, on the top deck, the red lights sign goes “Bethnal Green Station – Bus Stopping”. It is now playing On Repeat. I have reached a dreamy state of mind and move my ghost body to the exit. I walk to the D3 stop. It seems waiting for me. Mirage ou miracle? French lesson tonight with a French girl who does work experience in the City. She does prostitution too but she is not as connected in London as she is in Paris, so she has to teach. In Paris, it pays for her studies and a 70m² in the 3rd arrondissement. Her mother doesn’t understand how babysittings and McDonald shifts pay it all, but she is on a cocktail of Prozac and other “uplifting” substances. I am not on any cocktail. She suggests I watch Malgoska Szumowska’ Elles from the Film Shop.
By the time the D3 crosses Commercial Road, I shuffle to Kruder and Dorfmeister remix of Depeche Mode’ Useless. I hit the “repeat” button and I swiftly move to Wapping Wall.
Wapping Hydraulic Power Station is probably my favourite site with gallery in the world and once again I am not to be disappointed.
Passage is a two screens installation slung adjacent to each other fusing colour slideshow photography and B&W video, immersing the viewer into a hypnotic and scary world. Hypnotic: cars gliding along the interminable Gotthard Tunnel, headlights flooding past the lens. Scary: victims or pursuers (is it drug, is it love, is it jewels, is it politic?) shot in wide angles set on dramatic European landscapes’ backdrop. The whole tension experience is wrapped into a chilling music score by Billy Cowie. The Wapping Project director Jules Wright and photographer Thomas Zanon-Larcher pay tribute to films such as The Third Man, Don’t Look Now or Solaris. Inspired by key cinematic moments, Passage explores the point where film, realism and installation blur to form a new and disconcerting reality. Shot on location in Cambridge, London, Paris, Vienna, Trieste, Milan, and Switzerland, you will rapidly find yourself sitting in an über freezing desolate cinema, itself engulfed in the Gargantua-esque belly of a factory…
Buses back home, David Bowie’ Heroes playing on Ipod from door to door. 47’22’’.
My mind is filled with sounds and images. Not a single word spoken today. What a luxury day!

Passage is at The Wapping Project until 10 March 2013. For more info,
 click here.

Other Wapping related posts:

See also in Exhibitions section