Another beautiful sunny day in Dundee, so to the DCA with a few friends. A few photos were taken:
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Friday, 29 May 2009
Extract from Kristen Alvanson, Arbor Deformia:
Occult forces include a wide range of influences and emanations including imagination, electricity, odic and magnetic force, demonic influences, etc. The womb, according to Renaissance teratological models, is the organ which hungers for external forces. Any ambiguous emotion or obscure force will be absorbed and picked up by the womb. The classic medieval example of the occult influence of imagination upon the embryo is 'a woman looking upon an ape too attentively during her pregnancy and as a result giving birth to a baby with thick black hair covering the entire body and even inside the mouth.' Occult forces can join with other forces to cause deformities. For this reason, occult forces are mostly involved with fraudulent deformities. For example, electricity as an occult force can combine with a mechanical force and give rise to a fraud. A mother bat warmly breast feeding its baby on an electricity wire has been electrocuted. The mechanical haptic bond between the mother and the baby has been captured by electricity; and hence, a motherly contact has been deformed to a monstrous fraud. Occult forces can also work upon themselves to produce further frauds. A person who has spent a long time in absolute darkness can permeate a spectral image joined to his torso or the back of his head. Such spectral forms might be in the form of a second head, a shape-shifting and conjoined twin, etc. Such auric or proto-ectoplasmic frauds are usually associated with odic, magnetic or other occult emanations. Occult forces are able to conflict with singularity or alter the will of God into a fraud. A succubus can have sex with a man while he sleeps, turning his dream of being a man to the awakening of a water beetle.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Saturday, 23 May 2009
Your favourite Scottish art fanzine Yuck 'n Yum will be appearing at the Glasgow CCA book fair next weekend, on Saturday May 30th. Also appearing will be Generator Projects launching their new publication with Mick Peter, as well as fellow fanzine hipsters Bareface Mag. Yay!
Friday, 22 May 2009
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Gustave Dore, Houndsditch, 1872
Extract from Kellow Chesney, Victorian Underworld:
Sheer need drove many women towards prostitution, and there were other social forces that encouraged it. Commercial prostitution is more an urban than a rural institution, and many of the people who were being packed into the industrial and seaport towns had become emancipated from traditional restraints without being subject to new ones. Whatever the barbarisms of agricultural society, the cottager who drew attention to himself - and more particularly herself - by openly flouting conventional morality was likely to pay for it. If life in the industrial jungle was no harsher than in the countryside, it was chancier, more disorientated, and in important ways a lot freer. The promiscuous woman in Liverpool or Salford, Stepney or Bermondsey, had opportunities and inducements to prostitute herself that were not to be found in a country parish.
Paradoxically, some current social attitudes, explicitly hostile to loose living, actively promoted prostitution. Nothing in the literature of the time is more striking than a tendency to lump all unchaste women into one category. Apart from the innocent - yet forever 'soiled' - victim of a single seducer, any woman contaminated by fornication was put practically on a level with the professional harlot. Such conventional notions, however at odds with reality, can have immense influence on everyday conduct. Under their sway appearances become all-important. When social commentators spoke of a young woman who had mothered a bastard as half-way to the streets, they had good reason; for though these girls were not always thrown onto the world with no resource but prostitution, they did carry with them permanent evidence of a debasement that, by common convention, fitted them for just that fate. Careful women drew away, men were emboldened. The fallen girl from a decent family was less likely to be restrained by social pressures than encouraged to promiscuity and the rewards of prostitution. Like most of us, she was apt to do what was expected of her.
If prostitution was often better than the miseries of respectable poverty, there remains the hideous side of the picture. Not every tart was a lively girl, dancing in the casinos or joining a party of men for supper. On city pavements there were plenty of wretched beings worn out with age or disease, alcoholics, semi-imbeciles, female jetsam of all kinds, soliciting an almost inconceivable interest in their dishevelled bodies, or offering to cooperate in the squalidest perversions for a few coppers. Even in the streets of St James's, the focus of smart and competitive harlotry, a number of these creatures were to be found maundering about after dark (sometimes with veils over their pocked faces), scarecrow warnings to the brightly dressed street-walkers.
Saturday, 16 May 2009
They Had Four Years, the annual exhibition of Duncan of Jordanstone graduates a year on from qualification, has by now established itself as a hardy perennial fixture of the Dundee art calendar. Each season will bring a varied crop of a commendably high standard, though the 2009 vintage saw a change to the format in addition to a new line-up. The remit was expanded to take in entrants from all four Scottish art schools, with three artists making the final show. Upon entering, the viewer is dominated by Dundee graduate Iain Sommerville’s self-consciously uncanny life-size monochromatic mutants, their distorted contorted bodies granting the space a tangible chamber-of-horrors frisson. Fellow alumnus Lauren Gault’s DVD You Cad (Flat Loop, Lap Loop) pairs two facing screens, the first displaying an internal view of what appears to be intimate surgery. Opposite this a painted golden hand, seductively adorned with peacock feathers, writhes to make a good go of wooing. The esoteric charm of Gault’s work continues into the following gallery, housing a pair of bold minimal sculptures whose familiar forms (organ pipes, silhouettes of limbs) hint and nudge at implied meanings. What does emerge is a practice beginning to grasp at its own very distinct, arcane language. Finally Kevin Harman, from Edinburgh College of Art, has contributed work encompassing performance, sculpture and collage, with a strategy of recycling and reconfiguring its constituent materials, be they wooden splinters, glittery fabric, live pigeons or humble bird shit. A revolving slide carousel casts light to illuminate a landscape of wooden detritus chipped from a standing ramshackle sculpture, and the projected image implies an act of avian defecation in the merest flickering of an eye. Taken together the whole show may on occasion appear willfully impenetrable, though a more forgiving eye will grant time for the work to gain in fluency of communication and resolution. It is to the artists’ great credit that new potentialities present themselves and new lines of enquiry are suggested. What remains now is for the chance to be taken.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Shot taken by my brother Nick at tonight's game
To the Speedwell earlier tonight with my friend Harry, a fellow Leeds expat, to see Leeds United contest the second leg of the Division 1 play-offs with Millwall. Very sad to say Leeds drew, putting us out 2-1 on aggregate, and all that's left afterwards is a lingering sense of sad resignation. Last year was much the same story, and all that's left now is to ask, is this really it for yet another season? Another year in the third tier of English football? Surely there must be better things to come. Marching on together, we're gonna see you win!
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Continuing the recent theme of revisiting classic Italian video nasty fodder, last night I saw the notorious Cannibal Holocaust for the first time. Certainly unexpected and none the worse for it. A hauntingly gorgeous soundtrack by Riz Ortolani, a surprisingly high standard of acting and cinematography, a startlingly amoral approach to its characters, and a willingness to go one step further than too far. There are no 'good guys' in the storyline, no redemption to be had at the end, and just who is being exploited here? As the final words put it, "I wonder who the real cannibals are."
Monday, 11 May 2009
Extract from Iain Sinclair, Lights Out for the Territory:
Richard Allen, laureate of Plaidstow (its most notable celebrant since Luke Howard), struggled to bastardise the last croak of the London proletarian novel (which was no longer acceptable for publication). Former practitioners were now marginalised: Alexander Baron in Golders Green ("I don't know who the publishers are anymore"), Emanuel Litvinoff still at work, wondering if the latest reissue of Journey Through a Small Planet would find a readership, Bernard Kops knocking out radio plays. Allen could afford to contemplate these matters from a remoter perspective - his comfortable stockade in deepest Gloucestershire. With what the poet Paul Holman perceptively describes as "the genuine pulp writer's trance", Allen's cut-ups of newsprint did achieve moments of prophetic vision. The fireplay of a written-out consciousness at the end of its tether. His suedeheads of the early Seventies, boot boys travestied in mohair, progressed to the Stock Exchange. They were the first jackals of the Me Generation: "An anti-social, anti-everything conglomerate affecting status as their protective cover whilst engaging in nefarious pursuits more savage, more brutal than other cultists have seen rise - and fall - in this past decade."
Yes, Allen is the one to blame, the magician who caused fiction to be brought to life, the man who envisioned the Savile Row knuckleheads of the free-market: Lord Joseph's scum progeny. Even the Cotswolds, where Allen hid himself away as a country squire with a secret life, suffered as its energy field was warped by the aural vampires of Cheltenham, the Listeners of GCHQ, tappers and transcribers obliged to record everything. This whirlwind of bad sound - interfernce, hot sheets, babble - went rogue, manifesting its venom in the corpse gardens of Gloucester, racism in local politics, a cult of Hell's Angels, unexplained outbreaks of meningitis and necrotising fascilitis. The mythical anti-career of Brian Jones. The malign triangulation of royal residences.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
To the Generator and the Craigtay Hotel last night for the annual They Had Four Years exhibition and the associated after-party. I pasted the press information and took a few photos, with a proper review to follow sometime next week.
Generator Projects presents 'They Had Four Years', the gallery's annual exhibition of new work from a selection of recent graduates. This year we have chosen open up the remit to include a shortlist from all four of Scotland’s art schools.
Of this shortlist we have decided to exhibit three of the candidates; Iain Sommerville and Lauren Gault (Both Duncan of Jordanstone graduates) and Kevin Harman from Edinburgh College of Art.
Sommerville’s work is preoccupied with the carnivalesque imagery of past cultures, particularly that of medieval/Renaissance Europe, which compliment a number of his thematic leanings. These include subjects regarding punishment and humility with relation to gender and entertainment.
The rituals and motifs of past European cultures provide a broad range of aesthetic possibilities with which themes regarding the darker aspects of punishment, entertainment and gender are addressed.
Gault’s practice has long been governed by a preoccupation with the realm beyond instinct. Utilising Rene Girard’s philosophical writings on the notion of ‘mimetic desire’, Gault selects and manipulates recurring themes and imagery from a vast area of research spanning cultural analysis, animal behaviours, Greek tragedy and Biblical writings.
Gault selects and manipulates imagery, colour and form in a deliberate attempt to develop a succinct language for a complex field of enquiry. Myth, fact and symbol merge in unanimous defiance of classification in bold abstract form. The bestial and mortal, meet the divine and sacred in a bizarre flirtation that is both charming and unsettling.
Harman’s practice involves creating temporary sculptures with hints of performance with important elements of recycling in our current economic climate. Reconfiguring everyday objects, which are chosen for their gritty nostalgic feel Harman aims to give an access point to the audience to view them in a new light.
The tones, colours, soul, texture, weight and shape of the materials used by Harman are sensitively taken into consideration and is developed with a running questioning of the artists own masculinity, resulting in a sympathetic body of work with often brutal undertones.