Thursday, 30 April 2009
Last night's Critical Review event at the Word of Mouth café in Edinburgh was a success, about 30 people managed to fit into a very small venue and it was an evening of some fairly lively debate. Yuck 'n Yum and the new Edinburgh-based fanzine Bareface Mag made short presentations and answered questions about the production, distribution and practicalities of artist-run publications. Thanks to all who attended, and to the event organiser Rocca Gutteridge of Critical Review.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Mark Fisher's k-punk blog today features links to a fair few tributes to Ballard, and most make a good case against his inevitable middlebrow appropriation: LINK
"Far better, for Ballard still to be condemned as evil than that he is smugly assimilated into Britlit."
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
My friend Kevin brought this to my attention, it's a film of the lovely Glasgow-based performance artist (and former singer of Life Without Buildings) Sue Tompkins. This routine at Tate Britain is called Grease, and it had me vainly scouring for a good pressing of the hard-rocking Frankie Valli original.
Her sister Hayley once taught me at art school, and she's also supercool.
Monday, 27 April 2009
After many laborious weeks of intense training, my brother Nick ran the London Marathon yesterday. He really outdid himself, raising more than £2000 for the MS Society and finishing the event on a time of 3 hours, 17 minutes and 43 seconds. He has updated his blog with an account of his heroic day: LINK
Saturday, 25 April 2009
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Extract from Iain Sinclair, Lights Out for the Territory:
Dates and times of assignations that will never be kept. Cruisers, sex vampires, occult geometers. You don’t have to walk, you can slipstream. One of the expeditions in Patrick Keiller’s film, London, took this route. Of course it did. Where else? The intention, to pay their respects to Edgar Allan Poe’s boarding school, to the doppelgänger William Wilson, had been aborted. No visible trace remains, nothing you can catch on film. (“Let me call myself, for the present, William Wilson… I feel the refreshing chilliness of its deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance of its thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with indefinable delight at the deep hollow note of the church-bell…”) Keiller’s character, Robinson, settled instead for traces of Daniel Defoe, dissenter, double agent, eyewitness to events that had passed him by. Stoke Newington: the extramural settlement of Crusoe exile; a village where failure could be enjoyed in the grand style.
The glass-fronted police station is designed, head on, to present the illusion of openness, access for all. There are huts and cabins tucked around the back to take care of the everyday stuff, armed juveniles, purse-snatchers. Cautions are administered as casually as enquiries about the weather. The building is no more than an advertisement for itself, the new look doing nothing to eradicate the evil reputation that has hung over the place for generations. The photographs of the old brick hulk that stood in for any hard information about the arrest of the Angry Brigade still infect the ground. Pedestrians cross the road, fearful of searching in vain for reflections in the darkened glass.
Friday, 24 April 2009
Dennis Cooper's ever-excellent blog this week featured a post about the Marquis de Sade's old castle in Provence. The former house of debauchery has fallen into some disrepair over the years but has now, intriguingly enough, been purchased by the elderly haute couturier Pierre Cardin.
There's a fair few evocative photos and a good lot of saucy stories to be had: LINK
Thursday, 23 April 2009
Some more information about Wednesday's event:
Critical Review presents two artists run magazines: Yuck 'n Yum (Dundee) and new venture Bareface Mag (Edinburgh).
Bareface is a peer-on-peer enterprise of young artists and writers. Born from the frustrations of stock-rotation, sock sorting and spit-polishing. Brazen, focused and foremost intent on exploring a contemporary dialogue between participants and readers.
New website to be released on the evening.
Yuck 'n Yum is quarterly, downloadable, online viewable, black and white and outgoing. Based in Dundee but interested in the world beyond they WLTM creatives for discreet liaisons, public meets, online flirting, networking, art projects and maybe more.
Topics raised during the evening will include:
i) The relevance of the fanzine format as an exhibition space for artists
ii) The outcomes of global exchange through an online presence
iii) The importance of physical events within their programme
iv) How funding (and the lack of) can create freedoms as well as hindrances for the release of such projects.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Next week, on Wednesday 29th April Yuck ‘n Yum is due to appear at the next Critical Review Session in Edinburgh.
Also appearing will be the new Edinburgh based artist magazine Bareface Mag.
The Review sessions have been set up to create discussion and dialogue between the speaker and audience involved around a particular topic relating to artistic practice. The dialogue will be around 'artist run publishing projects'.
The event happens at 7pm in the Word of Mouth cafe just off Leith Walk on Albert Street, Edinburgh.
Full reportage with colour pictures to follow in due course!
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Kenneth Anger, still from Lucifer Rising
Extract from Dante, Inferno:
"Vexilla regis prodeunt Inferni,"
my master said, "closer to us, so now
look ahead and see if you can make him out."
A far-off windmill turning its huge sails
when a thick fog begins to settle in,
or when the light of day begins to fade,
that is what I thought I saw appearing.
And the gusts of wind it stirred made me shrink back
behind my guide, my only means of cover.
Down here, I stood on souls fixed under ice
(I tremble as I put this into verse);
to me they looked like straws worked into glass.
Some lying flat, some perpendicular,
either with their heads up or their feet,
and some bent head to foot, shaped like a bow.
When we had moved far enough along the way
that my master thought the time had come to show me
the creature who was once so beautiful,
he stepped aside, and stopping me, announced:
"This is he, this is Dis; this is the place
that calls for all the courage you have in you."
How chilled and nerveless, Reader, I felt then;
do not ask me- I cannot write about it-
there are no words to tell you how I felt.
I did not die- I was not living either!
Try to imagine, if you can imagine,
me there, deprived of life and death at once.
The king of the vast kingdom of all grief
stuck out with half his chest above the ice;
my height is closer to the height of giants
than theirs is to the length of his great arms;
consider now how large all of him was:
this body in proportion to his arms.
If once he was as fair as now he's foul
and dared to raise his brows against his Maker,
it is fitting that all grief should spring from him.
Translated by Mark Musa
Monday, 20 April 2009
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Friday, 17 April 2009
Duracel, Den Haag
The discourse around Italo disco has sadly never done any kind of justice to the music itself. That said, having seen the Guardian carry a typically woeful feature on the essential online music station Intergalactic FM today, I had a ferret around the IFM site looking for something worth reading. This list, "Italo Hammers: 10 Bad-Boy Gems of Italian Disco" is a useful article for any neophytes looking for a way in to the genre. Maybe mainstream music journalists might think to research something similar for themselves in the future.
These related photos are great too, if you enjoy looking at guys surrounded by keyboards and records.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Extract from Dante, Inferno:
Midway along the journey of our life
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
for I had wandered off the straight path.
How hard it is to tell what it was like,
this wood of wilderness, savage and stubborn
(the thought of it brings back all my old fears),
a bitter place! Death could scarce be bitterer.
But if I would show the good that came of it
I must talk about things other than the good.
How I entered there I cannot truly say,
I had become so sleepy at the moment
when I first strayed, leaving the path of truth;
but when I first found myself at the foot of a hill,
at the edge of the world’s beginning, down in the valley,
where I first felt my heart plunged deep in fear,
I raised my head and saw the hilltop shawled
in morning rays of light sent from the planet
that leads men straight ahead on every road.
And then only did terror start subsiding
in my heart’s lake, which rose to heights of fear
that night I spent in deepest desperation.
Translated by Mark Musa
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
Monday, 13 April 2009
The internet's been down for a few days, hence no posts, and tomorrow I'll see about getting a service that I do actually have to pay for. Anyway, plenty to catch up on but for now I'll hand over to my cup-winning brother Nick, for whom the London Marathon looms ever closer: LINK
Thursday, 9 April 2009
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Anyone wonder what that delightful music was, playing between acts during last week's Yuck 'n Yum launch? No? Well, it was a mix by schmoltz of Russian love songs performed in a disco-funk style, cribbed off the R4R forum. The direct link is here: LINK
Monday, 6 April 2009
Illustration by Cajun884, deviantart.com
Extract from Edgar Allan Poe, Berenice:
There came a light tap at the library door, and pale as the tenant of a tomb, a menial entered upon tiptoe. His looks were wild with terror, and he spoke to me in a voice tremulous, husky, and very low. What said he? - some broken sentences I heard.
He told of a wild cry disturbing the silence of the night - of the gathering together of the household - of a search in the direction of the sound; and then his tones grew thrillingly distinct as he whispered me of a violated grave - of a disfigured body enshrouded, yet still breathing - still palpitating - still alive!
He pointed to my garments; - they were muddy and clotted with gore. I spoke not, and he took me gently by the hand: it was indented with the impress of human nails. He directed my attention to some object against the wall. I looked at it for some minutes: it was a spade. With a shriek I bounded to the table, and grasped the box that lay upon it. But I could not force it open; and in my tremor, it slipped from my hands, and fell heavily, and burst into pieces; and from it, with a rattling sound, there rolled out some instruments of dental surgery, intermingled with thirty-two small, white and ivory-looking substances that were scattered to and fro about the floor.
Sunday, 5 April 2009
My brother Nick's long and arduous preparation for running the London Marathon is almost at an end, and he has updated his blog accordingly: LINK
The big day is just three weeks away. As long as he stays off the sauce and keeps free of footballing injuries then I'm sure he'll flourish.
Saturday, 4 April 2009
Towards the end of a long and iconoclastic career, the archetypal playboy aristocrat Francis Picabia was to create a series of paintings that would baffle most of his contemporaries as surely as they would chime with the glossy new post-modern critical consensus some 60-odd years later. These canvases of cheesecake nudes, overlapping transparencies of mythical figures and obscure awkward abstract arrangements were destined for the walls of North African brothels long before finding their way into the blue-chip galleries and museums of the 21st century. Picabia’s art would seem to simulate his own opium-induced visions, the work’s all-pervasive dreamlike aura, the Buddhas and sphinxes sat beneath a soft varnished glaze all serving to play out the blissful synaesthesia of the opiate high.
It’s an unexpected feeling of clarity that arrives with the hit of euphoria. I’d always imagined the perfect moment for a dose of the opium-derived alkaloid morphine to be a quiet night in sat safely snuggled up on a cosy sofa with Nico’s Marble Index on the stereo, ready and waiting for the warm embrace of the Greek god who so kindly lent the drug his name. Lying strapped down in the back of an ambulance in some considerable degree of discomfort, rattling along down Union Street having a leg straightened that was locked bent back double by a fractured hip, well beggars can’t be choosers after all. That unveiling of the real might well be an illusion brought on by the sudden relief from agony but still. In his 1821 Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Thomas De Quincey would describe this rush of lucidity:
“The minutest incidents of childhood, or forgotten scenes of later years, were often revived… placed as they were before me, in dreams like intuitions, and clothed in all their evanescent circumstances and accompanying feelings, I RECOGNISED them instantaneously.”
Such access to secret knowledge may well be a phantasm but the prospect is surely a seductive one, an alluring spectre all set to leave so many seekers of truth as ravaged victims in its wake. By the 1920s the drug’s well-known pernicious side effects would eventually lead Picabia to seek help in a Swiss addiction clinic, a refuge admissible only to the moneyed few. The situation is replicated today when access to even a medicinal drop is restricted to the world’s richest 10%, that elite group so fortuitously destined never to know pain for very long, reliant on the refuge of Edgar Allan Poe’s opium-dream Lady Ligeia – “an airy and spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies which hovered about the slumbering souls of the daughters of Delos.” The nightmares of the global lumpenproletariat will just have to go on in the meantime, their source a dread synthesis of failed social policy and the trauma of hard economic fact. The insights afforded to a poetic clique will serve to light a way out. Any would-be visionaries take heed, this sleep produces monsters.