Cut Out & Keep

david-steans-mood-board-still
David Steans, Mood Board, 2016 (video still). Courtesy the artist.

Think through things. Need to. Need to breakdown to recombine. Need to depressurise the pressure behind the eyes. De-pressed and un-mind. False sense of security — pushing thumbs into sockets — blanket ban on feelings. Hands on table. Scissors in hand, pull out magazine.

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Caroline Achaintre

 

Caroline Achaintre, Double Wurst, 2015, installation view, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, 2016. Photograph: John McKenzie © BALTIC
Caroline Achaintre, 2016, exhibition view, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Photograph: John McKenzie © BALTIC

The French/German, London-based artist Caroline Achaintre has been exploring the peculiar psychology of the mask for more than a decade. This has led her to some unusual places – from the costumes and characters of the European carnival and commedia dell’arte to catwalk fashion, S&M dens and schlocky sci-fi and horror films. Her work is heavily indebted to the German expressionists’ appropriation of primitive forms and the playful permissiveness of pop. Her first major survey, this exhibition brings together 63 works, including hand-tufted wool wall hangings, ceramic sculptures, prints and watercolours. Continue reading “Caroline Achaintre”

duh? Art & Stupidity

duh?
Duh? Art & Stupidity, 2015-16. An exhibition at Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-sea.

Well, I feel stupid. Having arrived at Focal Point Gallery on a free train direct from Fenchurch Street for an exhibition private view I found myself almost immediately in a long queue to get inside the gallery. At this point I was mildly frustrated at having to wait, but only because I assumed that the gallery must be checking off some sort of guest list, which I did not see as particularly necessary or welcoming. However, as I got nearer to the entrance I realised that the delay was in fact due to a small gaggle of women, all roughly middle-aged, who were blocking the doorway with a poorly situated conversation. This, it seemed, was caused by nothing less than their total obliviousness to anyone outside of their group. As it came my turn to squeeze past, I tried to catch one of their eyes, but they showed no recognition of the awkward situation they were creating. People were just about managing to edge themselves into the space one at a time, either by pressing themselves up against the far side of the door, as I did, or awkwardly wriggling through the middle of the women. This provoked a little flash of anger, or at least social disapproval — how could they be so inconsiderate? How could they be so stu… Oh, of course: ‘Duh!’

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Word salad liquidised to make word soup

My meaning is not your meaning. My meaning and your meaning are not meeting. We’re talking at cross purposes: our languages, though they sort-of-sound the same, are faulting at the join. I turn to you like a monkey nut, you look down at me like a cigarette butt. We’re on the pavement not the gutter, but this seems like a bad place for a good time. Blinking, eyelid-less, all that’s passing is people.

Maybe one of us has wisdom, beneath the crust. Maybe one of us can see further, see through. Empath-it to the inside. A route to the root. Do we survive? Do we sustain? What we do is remain. On the sidelines. We’re shrinkage — necessary loss. Or anticipated, anyway. We’re not dirt, although we’re rolling in it. We’re everything that you need to know, though what we know is limited. What we transmit goes nowhere.        

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Blues

I can’t watch Derek Jarman’s Blue. By which I mean I have seen it, I have listened to it, and not just once but several times — more than several, this year it has become a minor obsession — however, I still don’t feel that I have taken it in its entirety. I am not able to feel its edges or recall how it moves, to describe the arc of it in detail, or to even attempt to pull together its seemingly trailing threads into something that makes sense to me. I have also, often, failed to watch it. I have never for its 75 minutes stayed focused on its blue screen. This I understand is not the point, not to stay entirely trained, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to release it in formats where it is untethered from its visuals, but on the other hand, my failure to stay focused, to be immersed in blue, led me to feel distant from it. There are also the times that I have succumbed to its lullaby qualities and been bolted back to consciousness by the gleeful cry of ‘cock sucking’ or the chiming of bells.

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Gutteral Utterances

You make me uncomfortable. You weigh heavily on me. You complain loudly. You are always there and you are always in the way.

I do not think I live a bad life. Not that I believe in moral absolutes; people are not wholly good or bad. But what I mean is that I live modestly, or at least that I try to do as little damage to the world as I can. I detest the popular equation of healthiness with godliness. If a balanced diet, in this navel gazing age, is a sign of the most innocent being, then my nutritional indifference is my guilt.   

You are not indifferent. You are acid, a growling, gurgling monster, that I must give up my time and energies to placate and neutralise. And each day I wake, aware of you and your still quiet demands, but knowing that they will grow in volume throughout the day with no care for my needs, only yours. And I cannot believe that you would choose to loom over my life so exclusively, forever so blatantly cruel. You force me to think only of my illness and my health, though both are you.

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