I took a bottle of water and a bleakening worldview. Moving forward, pretending not to be moving away from, following the A-road to the island, on the edge of the asphalt all the way along the causeway. I was attempting to come up for air in that not-quite-defeated repeating way that I do. The little bastard of optimism and the desire to be empty kept me coming round and round to this lurching motion. The island is tied, tethered at its northmost to the mainland; it rises up bluntly and then slumps forward a few miles south into the sea. The cliffside route offers breathtaking views.
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.
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”
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!’
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 eyes, 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.
‘End Matter’ is a project by artist Katrina Palmer, commissioned by Artangel and BBC Radio 4. Palmer is an artist, and more specifically a sculptor, whose works take the form of words, both spoken and written. Her new work ‘End Matter’ is comprised of three parts: a publication of the same name, published by Book Works; a site-specific audio walk, itself divided into three sections, all under the title ‘The Loss Adjusters’; and a radio play broadcast by BBC Radio 4, ‘The Quarryman’s Daughters’. In these multiple formats the artist has explored the Isle of Portland. And explored is, perhaps more than many other projects it is applied to, apt to describe Palmer’s engagement with the small island, a mere 6 miles across and 1.5 miles wide, located just off the coast of Dorset.
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.