Fat Hands

she used to sit in this cafe, and just face the wall. And it wasn’t coffee she was drinking

I Don’t Know What I’m Talking About Half The Time

Posted by Alix on 16 March 2007


Saturday last I went round galleries in Hoxton on one of my all too rare art jaunts. The findings ranged from average to awesome –

Momentary Momentum – video art at the Parasol Unit – I’ve a short attention span, so being sat in front of a screen appeals. The William Kentridge piece was really nice, very well drawn and animated, lovely use of charcoal, and a strangely sombre yet bright story, not sure what I mean by that – Brighton Rock esque sunny day with undercurrent of violence. Of course, I could have got utterly the wrong end of things there.

  • ‘Absent Without Leave‘ at the Victoria Miro gallery had less exciting stuff, apart from the large box covered in 4000 dead bees, wax and ‘honey from the artist’s mouth’ by Terence Koh. It smelled remarkable. Also a considerable number of canvases painted (by Dan Colen) to look like they were covered in bird shit, with reasonable degree of success. Not sure why anyone would feel the need to paint more than one canvas of bird shit, but I guess it’s like repeating a joke – after a while it’s funny precisely because it’s been repeated so much. Not sure I entirely believe this, mind you. Not sure it was meant to be funny.
  • Obligatory visit to White Cube (I see they’ve got rid of that annoying Flash website) – quite good video installation ‘Crossfire’ by Christian Marclay. Four screens, one on each wall of the gallery, you in the middle, montage of actors from various films shooting at you on each one. Not the most innovative use of video, but decent nonetheless. The Koen van der Broek paintings upstairs seemed completely pointless.
  • Popped in briefly to the Tea Building to see Lars Wolter’s ‘Drilled’ which was average, but pretty still.
  • Then went next door to the Hales Gallery for the final day of Tomoko Takahashi’s exhib, where we wandered about a room full of junk with torches looking for stuff to take away (it was ok, the attendant said we were meant to!). Got a pack of Dutch playing cards, and a crappy looking model airplane kit, and a book about the Rubik’s cube, in French.
  • Finally (for Saturday), and best, but indescribably so was ‘Simply Botiful’ by Christoph Buchel at Hauser and Wirth Coppermill. Genuinely confusing, disorienting and the best fun I’ve had for a good while. Like walking into all the worst and best house parties you’ve ever been to, then walking into a crime scene in a factory, then being forced to chuck out any preconceptions about art installations you had, as you work you way round the staggeringly huge maze of industrial junk and emphemera, filled with a sense of people recently departed. I’m not doing a good job of describing it; this is partly my intention – I’m not sure I have enough words in me to do it justice. Basically if you can, go see it.
  • Wednesday I checked out the Geffrye Museum – pretty nice, to my surprise – I liked that they’ve decided to restrict their interest to the history of the middle (or ‘middling’) classes. Particulary nice to see thr 1930’s display room, I really wanted to take it all home with me.
  • Also went to the Museum of Childhood, intending to look at the Dick Bruna stuff then get out of there, but got caught up looking at all the toys. Recognised loads of things I’d forgotten, like Fisher Price playsets I had, and the plastic yellow, blue and red Mecchano. Totally iconic of my childhood, but utterly forgotten by me.
  • Thursday I started with the Whitechapel Art Gallery – it looked rather like the ongoing building work was taking up lots of the gallery, and it was poorly signposted, and I dared not venture into the building-works ish bit in case I was in the wrong, non-public bit, so I ducked into the darkened auditorium without looking at half the art. Turned out alright though, and I watched some films by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, including film of man on motorbike with trumpet attached to the exhaust pipe riding through Puerto Rico. It made a wonderful noise.
  • Next up, The Wallace Collection, dreadful 17-18th Century French shit. Gave it the benefit of the doubt, but really, who needs all that gilt?
  • Then the Serpentine for the Karen Kilimnik exhib – unimpressed, possible uncomfortable with the Georgian/ rococo feel to it, having just escaped the hell of the Wallace. Also, the paintings themselves fell a few wotsits short of ‘charming but inexpert’ and just felt ‘a bit shit’. Vaguely catty description of them in the overview, something like ‘the long and complex titles of the paintings belie the often simple subject matter’ – ie these are not very good really, but the titles might make you think they are for a bit. Or perhaps I am just mean.
  • Next up, Science Musuem to check out Maurice Broomfield ‘New Look At Industry’ photos – nice, competently done, but can’t help feel a bit uneasy about them all being posed. Doesn’t seem quite right, although I can see he was trying to make a point about industry having the potential to be glamorous, I’m not sure I think that industry needs to be glamorous to be interesting, but I can appreciate that at the time this could have been a nice way to get people to see what it’s like inside factories etc. Or something.

(Finally I went to the Natural History Museum to look at the Giant Squid but I couldn’t find it. It would appear I needed to arrange a tour. Oh well).

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