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
Notes on two new exhibitions of work by queer artists.
New edition of Sluice magazine out now, May 2017.
Saturday 30th April at IMT Gallery, London E2, 6-9pm
Writing workshops for artists based in Northumberland and the Borders.
Joseph Devlin’s book from 1910, How to Speak and Write Correctly, is like many similar books in that much of its advice still has relevance and is still ignored by (or unknown to) many people who describe themselves as writers or work as writers but are not worthy of the term except in the most literal sense.
“Don’t imagine that a college education is necessary to success as a writer. Far from it. Some of our college men are dead-heads, drones, parasites on the body social, not alone useless to the world but to themselves. A person may be so ornamental that he is valueless from any other standpoint. As a general rule ornamental things serve but little purpose. A man may know so much of everything that he knows little of anything… Cant is the language of a certain class — the peculiar phraseology or dialect of a…
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Some good advice for writers who would like to get better and a comprehensive demolition of clichés by bad writers in William Zinsser’s book On Writing Well. As I point out every single damn time I do a post about good writing, forty years on from this book’s original publication, people are still making all the mistakes Zinsser pointed out as ancient and trite even at the time. Many a supposedly professional author or journalist is still allowing themselves to be “a writer lives in blissful ignorance that clichés are the kiss of death, if in the final analysis he leaves no stone unturned to use them, we can infer that he lacks an instinct for what gives language its freshness. Faced with a choice between the novel and the banal, he goes unerringly for the banal. His voice is the voice of a hack.”
Old never meets…
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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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Thanks to my colleague Dany Louise for pointing out this great article by Sola Agustsson at Alternet: Why the Contemporary Art World Is Insufferable, Corrupted by the Super-Rich. Spoilers:
- Art collectors treat art as an investment.
- Art is a spectacle.
- Conceptual art is a joke.
- Art factories steal souls.
- Art school is kind of a scam.
- Women artists and artists of colo(u)r are sidelined.
- Money for art in public schools is dwindling (the USA kind, i.e publicly funded, not private schools)
Agustsson is absolutely bang on with every one of these points and I know a lot of the Career Suicide Squad will agree too; read the article.
THREE QUOTES FROM BRUNO MUNARI, ‘DESIGN AS ART’, 1966 (ON SUBJECTS THAT STILL HAVEN’T BEEN SORTED OUT BY THE ART WORLD FIFTY YEARS LATER)
“It must be understood that as long as art stands aside from the problems of life it will only interest a very few people… The artist must cast off the last rags of romanticism and become active as a man among men*, well up in present day techniques, materials and working methods.”
* Obviously this applies to women as well, and I don’t endorse automatic 1960s sexism.
“A thing is not beautiful because it is beautiful, as the frog said to the she-frog, it is beautiful because one likes it.”
Courtesy of one Nickolas Calabrese and the Art-agenda [sic] mailing list from the reliable nonsense mongers at e-flux. There appears to be little or no information available online about Mr. Calabrese, although in May 2012 he was described as an “artist and philosopher”. Please, no. By this week he was just an “artist and writer in New York.” Maybe the philosophy didn’t work out. Somebody’s intern, possibly? His oeuvre so far amounts to three reviews, but each of them is loaded with clumsy metaphors, malapropisms and other examples of what not to do in professional writing. Art-agenda apparently has editors. I feel like invoicing them for doing their job. I’m just reproducing the greatest (s)hits here; you can read the reviews in full elsewhere if you’ve nothing better to do.
“The site of the apocalypse is not spatial, but temporal…
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Otherwise known as the now traditional lazy retrospective listicle
We all know by now don’t we my little blackguards my pretty roadside fartflowers of the friggingfields my dearest filthy fuckbirds yes we know yes yes yes oh yes that the top pages on the site are invariably James Joyce’s paeans to using the tradesman’s entrance and the translation of Hokusai’s tentacle hentai. Tens of thousands of you, constantly, from all over the world, day and night. You must have massive right arms by now (if you’re right handed).
But there is so much more to explore, and some of it doesn’t even involve sexual fetishes. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.
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… or at least the last word that isn’t from a “slopebrowed weaseldick”
The shrill conspiracy mongering and toxic threats of Gamergate [sic] are the side effects of Western culture, and US culture in particular, finally getting around to saying out loud to a certain type of obsolete man that the rest of us have come to a consensus in which degrading women and denying the rights of sexual or ethnic minorities to equal treatment is not acceptable. Nor should anybody have to endure constant insults and discrimination because of what they are or how they choose to live, or have to see constant, unrelenting and unapologetic images of people like themselves being treated as subhuman. Anyone who thinks that “social justice”– to use the Gamergoatfuckers favourite insult apart from saying they’ll rape or kill you– is a bad thing needs to sit down and shut the fuck…
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Some good advice for aspiring writers from successful writers, who are usually far better sources of such guidance than all the writing gurus who write nothing but books about how to write. These are all extracted from Shaun Usher’s splendid and beautiful Letters of Note book, based upon the always interesting and inspiring site of the same name in which the famous are humanised and the unknown are honoured.
Ernest Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1934:
“You can study Clausewitz in the field and economics and psychology and nothing else will do you any bloody good once you are writing. We are like lousy damned acrobats but we make some mighty fine jumps, bo, and they have all these other acrobats that won’t jump.
For Christ sake write and don’t worry about what the boys will…
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“Paris will become a winter garden; espaliered fruit trees on the boulevard. The Seine filtered and warm – an abundance of fake gemstones – a profusion of gilding – the houses lit up – the light will be stored, for there are bodies that have this property, such as sugar, the flesh of certain molluscs and Bologna phosphorus. The fronts of the houses will be made to be daubed with this phosphorescent substance, and their radiance will light the streets.”
Visions of a lovely biotech future Paris from Gustave Flaubert’s unfinished draft of Bouvard and Pécuchet, the novel he was working on when he died in 1880. I suspect he may have had more than one sip of the laudanum on the night he wrote this. If it was the 1980s instead of the 1880s I’d say Ecstasy. It has that kind of E’d up I LOVE YOU SO…
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The interest in Artbollocks Theatre has been so great– including the prospect of some live onstage thespianism later this year– that I’m making a special effort to collect more of the worst press releases and artist statements for future performances. Here are some recent acquisitions that have attracted my wrathful gaze like the angry lighthouse in the Lord of the Rings films. Meanwhile, there’ll be a new episode of Artbollocks Theatre tomorrow (27th September) at 12.30 GMT.
FILLS THE SPACE, CONTAINS THE SPACE INSIDE ITSELF
“The space of the white cube is normally used to display objects. What Senstad is showing us are different works that have the removal of the object as a theme. In Color Kinesthesia and Color Synthesthesia IV she shows us light perceived as color. Small technically [sic] modifications in the perception can alter even an empty space into a massively colored place.
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Today, the 16th of June, is Bloomsday: the annual celebration of the life and work of James Joyce in general, and of his landmark Modernist novel Ulysses in particular. It’s a landmark in the literary sense and also in the geographical sense, a dauntingly huge and dense wodge of cellulose. If ever a book was better read weightlessly as an e-book, Ulysses is it. June 16th 1904 is the Dublin day described in hyperreal detail by the book’s protagonist Leopold Bloom, and re-enacted by Joyce fanatics every year since 1954.
The 16th of June was also significant as the date of Joyce’s first outing with the woman who would become his beloved wife, Nora Barnacle. So why don’t you celebrate Bloomsday by starting on Ulysses if you haven’t already? To be honest you might regret it and give up in frustration as many have done before, but you definitely won’t…
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In 1973 archaeologists digging at Vindolanda– the former site of a Roman fort, about halfway along Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England– uncovered a store of letters and files on wooden tablets. Between about AD 85 and 122 the wall was being built to mark the farthest extent of the Roman empire. Boudicca and the Iceni had kicked off and destroyed several Roman cities only a few decades previously, and the tribal people of Britain were still far from pacified or assimilated, but Hadrian made the strategic decision to physically isolate the Picts who lived in what is now called Scotland because they were even more troublesome. Most of the tablets seem to date from roughly this frontier period. Ironically the documents may have been preserved because they were dumped out periodically with the rubbish, which led to them being buried instead of taken away or lost.
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(*Too long, did not understand.)
Either I just succumbed to some kind of reading disorder, or the reliably daft e-artnow list has delivered another payload of grade-A twaddle. I’ll make some allowances for Bildfrost (“Frozenness”) being an exhibition at a German gallery, but on the other hand although I’m pretty confident that I speak German I’d still want to run my German press release past somebody who was a native speaker to make sure I wasn’t making ein Arsch of myself.
I’ll just pull out the silliest phrases and paragraphs at random from what is quite a lengthy screed, but trust me: it all makes about as much sense out of context as it does in context, i.e. virtually none. There’s also a lot of telling us what we’d be able to see with our eyes if we could see the art, which is redundant, patronising and controlling if…
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The venerable ART-ALL academic mailing list is nowadays mostly a silent void. And Darkness and Decay and fifty thousand pointless conference papers about art hold illimitable dominion over all. Very rarely a small, absurd item still scuttles across ART-ALL’s dead face, like this recent call for participation associated with the University of Glasgow and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, specifically two entities that in all seriousness call themselves respectively the “Performance and the Body Working Group” and the “Performance and New Technologies Working Group”. “Working groups”, as if they’re engaged in vital research or something, as if the fate of the world hangs upon their deliberations.
Behold the sheer bollocks that these people write:
Title: Embodied Engagement: Participatory And Immersive Performance
The Performance and the Body and Performance and New Technologies Working Groups are joining forces this year to explore different bodily, aesthetic, political, ethical and economical aspects of participation in the current performance milieu. In…
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