Sluice Magazine, Autumn/Winter 19-20

Sluice Magazine, Autumn/Winter 19-20

The latest issue of Sluice magazine is out now. The theme this time is looking to the natural world and to deep time for survival strategies. As usual I wrote an article for the magazine, and there's the now traditional cheeky decontextualised quote from it on the back cover... Londonians may wish to join us … Continue reading Sluice Magazine, Autumn/Winter 19-20

Sluice magazine: Don’t Look Down

Sluice magazine: Don’t Look Down

My column from the previous issue of Sluice magazine is now online, on the pervasive metaphorical debt of the art world, the perpetual actual debt of artists, and lazy little millennial fucks. The new issue is out very shortly, with more of my columnage.

The Portland Office for Imaginary History

The Portland Office for Imaginary History

The Portland Office for Imaginary History re-opens for b-side Festival 2018, and I'm allowing myself an exclamation mark for it! Walking tours on the 8th, 9th, 15th and 16th September, bus tour 14th September, mobility scooter and wheelchair tour on the 16th. Top quality lies, direct to the public. Plan your festival visit here, there's … Continue reading The Portland Office for Imaginary History

Odeum at Milan Design Week

Odeum at Milan Design Week

As is now traditional (well, three years in a row), I collaborated with CTRLZAK Studio and JCP to provide names and narratives for a collection of hybrid but functional art-design objects for sale, with their premiere at the Salone del Mobile of Milan Design Week 2018. We got particularly kinky this year, with references to … Continue reading Odeum at Milan Design Week

All real artists get turned into a doll

All real artists get turned into a doll

    I was inspired– negatively, so... unspired?– by the fuss about a recent Frida Kahlo Barbie doll, of which the doll itself was probably the least offensive thing. Yes, it somewhat cleaned and prettied up a woman rightly famous for being a feminist and a communist who was ahead of her time in foregrounding … Continue reading All real artists get turned into a doll

“ARTIFICIAL, ESPERANTO ART” AND ITS DISCONTENTS

“ARTIFICIAL, ESPERANTO ART” AND ITS DISCONTENTS

CAREER SUICIDE

20150327OUTSIDER-slide-44G0-jumbo Costumes by Vahad Poladian. Photo by Hiroko Masuike, The New York Times

Some gems from Raw Creation: Outsider Art and Beyond by John Maizels. Regular readers of this blog will know that I like a bit of O/outsider attitude.

“What country doesn’t have its small sector of cultural art, its brigade of career intellectuals? It’s obligatory. From one capital to another they perfectly ape one another, practising an artificial, esperanto art, which is indefatigably recopied everywhere. But can we really call this art? Does it have anything to do with art?” Jean Dubuffet in L’Art brut préferé aux arts culturels, 1946.

This was in 1946 and it’s still just as true seventy years later. Very, very depressing. This tale of masterful gallery fucking-uppery is much more comforting:

“Scottie Wilson (1888-1972)… had been a junk dealer, making a living by salvaging what he could from the bits and pieces that…

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PIGGIES

PIGGIES

CAREER SUICIDE

monopoly man

When I and a few enlightened colleagues started talking about the art world and money in about 2009, hardly anybody was interested and we were very often asked why we bothered. Within a few years, nearly every agency and artist-facing organisation was talking about artists, art and money if they had any sense. The mainstream art magazines like Frieze still don’t talk about it very much except in a celebratory way, as if there’s nothing at all problematic about the whole high-end art scene, because their reason for being and their main income is from courting the (rich) hand that feeds or fists at its own whim.

Likewise, I have asserted for many years that the real story at the top end of the art world is not how bad, irrelevant and vapid most of the art and most of its suppliers are– don’t get me wrong, they are all…

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ZOMBIE PROFESSIONALISM

ZOMBIE PROFESSIONALISM

CAREER SUICIDE

zoc002

An interesting article by Daniel S. Palmer about what ArtNews calls the “hyper-professionalization” of some artists. I’d go further and call it something like “jobification”; the reduction of a vocation to a mechanical and wholly uncreative grind. As Palmer points out, it’s not even the best way for an artist to make money or for anyone to make money from an artist’s work, because it’s so shortsighted:

“The entire system seems designed, predominantly, to disappoint. What has arisen from these failures is a marked distinction between product- and project-based artists. Product-based artists have been led to think of an artwork as a product serving a demand, rather than a single step in a longer, sustained development, as is the case with project-based artists. Consider the most visible trend in recent years of Zombie Formalism, a kind of reductive, easily produced abstract painting, sold quickly to collectors queued up on…

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“GLORIFIED SHOPPING MALLS”

“GLORIFIED SHOPPING MALLS”

CAREER SUICIDE

Some magnificent verbal kamikaze quotes from Australian gallerist Evan Hughes, on the occasion of closing down the business founded by his father and then run by himself.

Top Sydney gallerist launches blistering attack on the art world

PRODUCT FOR DICKHEADS

ArtWorldDickheadsE_Hughes “… It was almost as if we were given permission to declare that the art world had been taken over by dickheads. Too much of the commercial art trade has become about the selling of product and the accumulation of capital, much to the confusion and disillusionment of young artists. ”

REALISTIC PORTRAITURE

Greedy_EHughes A commission for Malcolm Turnbull, Australian prime minister: “In the 1990s, when Malcolm was still a merchant banker, the Turnbull family commissioned one of my father’s artists, Lewis Miller, to paint a portrait of Malcolm. Unhappy with the work, Turnbull confronted my father at a function and exclaimed: “That artist of yours is no good; he’s made…

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NOBLESSE OBLIGE

NOBLESSE OBLIGE

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Chatterton 1856 by Henry Wallis 1830-1916 “Unfortunately we have no budget to pay fees or expenses.”

a-n the artists information company have just published their draft recommendations and guidance on the payments and fees that should be due from publicly funded galleries to artists. FYI I’ve worked on the Paying Artists campaign and I work for a-n sometimes. I also think artists based in the UK should have their own look at it, so I won’t offer too much commentary except to pull out:

NOBODY IS ASKING FOR MUCH

Despite stiff resistance from an insignificant and usually bonkers minority of the public and a significant minority of people who work for public arts organisations, all of whom are baffled or bitter (or both) that an artist should get paid anything… the suggested fees for artists are far from outrageous and usually amount to no more than a few thousand or even a few hundred pounds…

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A MESSAGE TO ARTISTS IN 2016

A MESSAGE TO ARTISTS IN 2016

CAREER SUICIDE

Bastards1 By Martin J. Walker, 1968.

Just like half the salaried people who work in arts organisations, Career Suicide has been on leave since the start of December “because it’s nearly Christmas” and has not resumed normal service until well into January because “we’ve been snowed under with work since we came back into the office”. OR SOMETHING. More soon, though.

The print above was made by Martin J. Walker in 1968, when Hornsey College of Art (later part of Middlesex Polytechnic, then Middlesex University) was occupied by students after a dispute about Student Union funds lead to an opportunity for the students to express a more general dissatisfaction with their art education. Plus ça change, etc. For some reason a reproduction of it is currently available to buy from the Victoria & Albert museum in London.

PS: Really… don’t let them.

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DEPRESSING BUT PREDICTABLE SURVEY OF THE WEEK

DEPRESSING BUT PREDICTABLE SURVEY OF THE WEEK

CAREER SUICIDE

(Image via the sadly long-defunct http://lookatmyfuckingredtrousers.blogspot.co.uk )

Findings have just been published from a national survey about the working lives of cultural and creative workers in the UK. It was carried out by Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Sheffield and LSE as part of their project Panic! What Happened to Social Mobility in the Arts?

The findings provide hard evidence for the common impression that the arts sector is a closed shop where most people are middle class and it also makes revealing discoveries about how gender and ethnicity can affect a career in the arts and how higher wage earners view the sector in comparison to lower wage earners.

They’re not kidding. People who earn over £50,000 PA tend to believe it was their hard work and talent that counted, while those earning under £5,000 (over a quarter of the respondents) believe that it’s not what you know…

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RACHMAN STYLE*

RACHMAN STYLE*

CAREER SUICIDE

PSY-gangnam-style-33209760-1320-743 Ehhhhhh… nasty landlord.

(* Link for those too young and/or too not from London to get this reference.)

South Korean pop star PSY, of Gangnam Style infamy, is not only trying to force an artist-led organisation out of a building he owns in the gentrifying Hannamdong neighbourhood of Seoul (so he can renovate it, presumably for higher rents) but has also launched defamation lawsuits against four of the artists for publicising his actions and criticising him. Don’t like going viral quite so much when it doesn’t flatter you, Mr Park?

Of course this is just one of many instances of the same crap that is happening in London and in other major cities in the developed world; as the rich get richer and the poor get punished, artists, the low paid and even reasonably well-salaried key workers like nurses and teachers are being exiled from the cities where…

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NEO-THOREAU

NEO-THOREAU

CAREER SUICIDE

henry-david-thoreau

Discussions of economics and making a living from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854):

SELLING AND AVOIDING THE NECESSITY OF SELLING

MiffyArtistRijks

“Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood. “Do you wish to buy any baskets?” he asked. “No, we do not want any,” was the reply. “What!” exclaimed the Indian as he went out the gate, “do you mean to starve us?” Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off—that the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed—he had said to himself: I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do. Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man’s to buy them. He had not discovered that it…

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Lives of the Necromancers: Orpheus

Lives of the Necromancers: Orpheus

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northcote20portrait20-20col1 William Godwin.

Some interesting stuff from Lives of the Necromancers (1834) by William Godwin, the proto-anarchist and father of Mary “Frankenstein” Shelley, nee Godwin. Well, interesting if you’re into necromancers anyway. And who isn’t interested in necromancers? Nobody I want to hang out with, is the answer.

William Godwin also wrote a novel called St. Leon (1799), about a man who artificially attains immortality. Without taking anything away from Mary– she was undoubtedly the most talented of the famous four who played at writing stories near Lake Geneva in 1816, not to mention being only eighteen years old at the time– it’s obvious that her super cool father with his love of fringe science and radical politics was a big influence on her. Godwin’s wife and Mary’s mother was the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, though Mary senior sadly died of septicaemia shortly after giving birth and so never knew her daughter…

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Some advice for writers, from Satan

Some advice for writers, from Satan

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Photographs ©2011 by Alistair Gentry Photograph by Alistair Gentry

From Marie Corelli’s The Sorrows of Satan (1895), about a failed writer who makes a deal with the devil in fin de siècle London. It’s actually a terrible, repetitive and badly structured book. Nor has Corelli’s prose style aged well. She was very popular at the time, but like many popular writers then and now she hardly bothered writing anything but complete shit once she’d found her audience, with more concern for quantity than quality. She also wrote a (likewise popular at the time) book inspired by Jack the Ripper but the only thing she succeeds at in The Lodger is making the Whitechapel murders seem like a total bore as well. Her not very fictionalised, undigested chunks of rant about the publishing industry are enjoyable, though, perhaps precisely because she was so looked down upon as a writer and took the opportunity to vent her…

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Lookbook for Autumn 2015 season

Lookbook for Autumn 2015 season

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Congo Ngbende initiates, North Congo, late 20th century. Photo by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher.

Samburu Young Samburu woman with nubility necklace stack, Kenya, late 20th century. Photo by Angela Fisher.

MaasaiWoman1960 Maasai woman with neck coils, 1960s, Kenya. Postcard by S. Skulina, Pegasus Studio, Nairobi.

Padaung1979 Padaung woman with brass neck coils, Burma, circa 1979. Photo by Jorgen Bisch.

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BARBARA HEPWORTH COSPLAY AT TATE BRITAIN

BARBARA HEPWORTH COSPLAY AT TATE BRITAIN

CAREER SUICIDE

Margaret_Howell_Artists_Duffel_Coat_16692 Artist duffle coat, £425.

What better way to celebrate a major* exhibition of Dame Barbara Hepworth’s Modernist art at Tate Britain than spending £1200 in their gift shop to dress like a Hepster? Luckily the costumes clothes don’t have bloody great holes through the middle of them like her sculptures. Rather than a real artist of Hepworth’s vintage, they’re more like the sort of slightly-too-on-point-to-be-real ensembles you’d see worn by a beatnik artist Don Draper was knobbing on Mad Men. They’ve also wisely stuck to mod and steered clear of Babs’ occasional sartorial forays into getting herself up like a forest witch from a Russian folk tale. Designer Margaret Howell says “She was a woman to roll up her sleeves, and a woman who needed pockets – for chisel, pencil, and pebbles from the beach.” Do my eyes deceive me or is this woman actually mansplaining pockets to women?…

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TOP TEN THINGS TO SEE AT THE VENICE BIENNALE 2015

TOP TEN THINGS TO SEE AT THE VENICE BIENNALE 2015

CAREER SUICIDE

Aper

PPBorborygmusArtCriticBY GUEST CRITIC PP BORBORYGMUS, CONTEMPORARY ART CORRESPONDENT AT LARGE FOR TEMPORARY CON ART MAGAZINE

1. THE FRIEZE PARTY

It’s fabulous because hardly anybody can get in, so no riff-raff will be there to see you trash the place and talk shit about the person you’ll then turn right around to, air kiss and and be all smiles with. You’ll see lots of peons outside, though, trying to blag their way in as you sail through like an oligarch’s yacht (see No. 2) deliberately ramming a Mediterranean immigrant raft. That’ll show them who’s important and who isn’t. Matthew Slotover is a darling and almost never strangles people then stuffs them into weighted suitcases to dump into the lagoon from the back of a water taxi in the middle of the night a bit like that chap in American Psycho. Don’t forget to appreciate his tasteful business card and you…

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ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE: DOG LOVERS SPECIAL

ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE: DOG LOVERS SPECIAL

CAREER SUICIDE

doge

Dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism. All real! Oh how I wish they weren’t. In this super special edition with added PERFORMANCE ART that will make Marina admit defeat, pack her money bags and retire at last:

Q: Does your promotional material and critical text need to have any relation to or mention of what is actually in the exhibition?

A: Apparently not. Just write about looking at a dog in a sort of vaguely prose poem that reads like some stoned high school kid’s notebook scribbles. Apart from listing the names of the artists and mentioning that it’s an MA degree show, there is no mention whatsoever of what we might see, what’s interesting about it, what media the artists are working in, or why we might want to go. So it’s not just a horrible, pretentious piece of writing, it’s also…

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Good tight, sleep night

Good tight, sleep night

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zebra-zentai-suit

I’m sure there have been no end of articles and blog posts about ゼンタイ zentai: skin tight, faceless body suits. Originally they’re from Japan, of course, like many other cross-cultural mutations. The term is an abbreviation of 全身タイツ zenshin taitsu, “full body tights”. It’s also a safe bet that most of these articles fall into the categories of a) LOL weirdos b) LOL perverts or c) both of the aforementioned. Frankly, I would advise against uncontrolled internet searching on the subject unless you’re broad-minded because some of the people who are into it are absolute FREAKS and you might well see some obscure corners of the porn world that you’d really rather not. Also beware of YouTube’s “up next” autoplay…

Being an absolute freak is fine by me, actually (just wash your hands and probably have a shower too, before you do anything else) but perhaps especially for those who

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The Making II: Makerer

The Making II: Makerer

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Daruma_doll_sai2011

Even more from the series of Japanese short films about crafts and manufacturing, which was featured yesterday: this time the videos feature the making of clockwork and tin toys, daruma (達磨, the hollow good luck dolls supposedly modelled after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism), oil pastel crayons, oil paint for artists, and mosquito coils.

The film about daruma shows equally fascinating traditional hand-made techniques, and slightly more industrial manufacturing of them. Even so, they’re all still finished individually just like the other items shown in these videos, the paint and the mosquito coils included. The pastel one is a bit tedious at the start, but if you’re an artist like me or otherwise just get excited about colours, stick with it and the one about paint for some huge, lush blobs of intense, glossy pigment erotica. The film about mosquito coils is initially rather alarming because…

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