Thursday, 28 July 2011


Summer Exhibition
Hackney Wicked Art Festival 2011
29 July - 31 July 2011
Opening Friday 29 July 6 to 10 PM


32 Felstead Street
Hackney Wick
E9 5

Pop-Up Space courtesy of Premier Foods
Nearest Station: Hackney Wick

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Mayonnaise Hypochondriac?

Whilst the world grieves Amy Winehouse for probably dying from an overdose of Smack, sometimes I think about myself eating lots of mayonnaise and thinking well, we're all gonna go one day, I'll probably get a heart attack and she got a painless death. I don't mean to be a hypochondriac but sometimes I feel like I'm gonna die from the stuff but I like the taste, particularly Hellmans.

I've heard they give Methadone to old people anyway so they lose pain and fear. Death is inevitable, we'll all go one day. and If I haven't completed my work here due to a mayonnaise filled diet, it will be a shame but I'll be gone already so no more worries! Whilst I like this unknown expression "too many cemeteries filled with unfinished business", what if that was the way it was meant to be? So many legends have died at 27 - what's known as the curse of 27.

I wonder if I'll die at 27? I've got three years left. Better eat all the mayonnaise I can in that case and if I survive...then I'll have at least another 5 years left maybe? Plus smoking on top and my clogged arteries will really have fat to spill. Sometimes I get vaso-vagal just thinking about it. Jeez I must be a hypochondriac!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Accidents of Genius

Looking further into "accidental genius"... I came across nine other inventions born from mistakes or accidents that we probably, I probably took for granted these days.

Corn Flakes

In 1894, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was the superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. He and his brother Will Keith Kellogg were Seventh Day Adventists, and they were searching for wholesome foods to feed patients that also complied with the Adventists' strict vegetarian diet. When Will accidentally left some boiled wheat sitting out, it went stale by the time he returned. Rather than throw it away, the brothers sent it through rollers, hoping to make long sheets of dough, but they got flakes instead. They toasted the flakes, which were a big hit with patients, and patented them under the name Granose. The brothers experimented with other grains, including corn, and in 1906, Will created the Kellogg's company to sell the corn flakes. On principle, John refused to join the company because Will lowered the health benefits of the cereal by adding sugar.

Microwave ovens

The microwave oven is now a standard appliance in most American households, but it has only been around since the late 1940s. In 1945, Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while doing research for the Raytheon Corporation. He was intrigued when the candy bar in his pocket began to melt, so he tried another experiment with popcorn. When it began to pop, Spencer immediately saw the potential in this revolutionary process. In 1947, Raytheon built the first microwave oven, the Radarange, which weighed 750 pounds, was 51/2 feet tall, and cost about $5,000. When the Radarange first became available for home use in the early 1950s, its bulky size and expensive price tag made it unpopular with consumers. But in 1967, a much more popular 100-volt, countertop version was introduced at a price of $495.

Silly Putty

It bounces, it stretches, it breaks -- it's Silly Putty, the silicone-based plastic clay marketed as a children's toy by Binney & Smith, Inc. During World War II, while attempting to create a synthetic rubber substitute, James Wright dropped boric acid into silicone oil. The result was a polymerized substance that bounced, but it took several years to find a use for the product. Finally, in 1950, marketing expert Peter Hodgson saw its potential as a toy, renamed it Silly Putty, and a classic toy was born! Not only is it fun, Silly Putty also has practical uses -- it picks up dirt, lint, and pet hair; can stabilize wobbly furniture; and is useful in stress reduction, physical therapy, and in medical and scientific simulations. It was even used by the crew of Apollo 8 to secure tools in zero gravity. This also makes me think about the film "flubber" with Robin Williams.

Post-it Notes

A Post-it note is a small piece of paper with a strip of low-tack adhesive on the back that allows it to be temporarily attached to documents, walls, computer monitors, and just about anything else. The idea for the Post-it note was conceived in 1974 by Arthur Fry as a way of holding bookmarks in his hymnal while singing in the church choir. He was aware of an adhesive accidentally developed in 1968 by fellow 3M employee Spencer Silver. No application for the lightly sticky stuff was apparent until Fry's idea. The 3M Company was initially sceptical about the product's profitability, but in 1980, the product was introduced around the world. Today, Post-it notes are sold in more than 100 countries.


Saccharin, the oldest artificial sweetener, was accidentally discovered in 1879 by researcher Constantine Fahlberg, who was working at Johns Hopkins University in the laboratory of Professor Ira Remsen. Fahlberg's discovery came after he forgot to wash his hands before lunch. He had spilled a chemical on his hands and it, in turn, caused the bread he ate to taste unusually sweet. In 1880, the two scientists jointly published the discovery, but in 1884, Fahlberg obtained a patent and began mass-producing saccharin without Remsen. The use of saccharin did not become widespread until sugar was rationed during World War I, and its popularity increased during the 1960s and 1970s with the manufacture of Sweet'N Low and diet soft drinks.


In 1943, naval engineer Richard James was trying to develop a spring that would support and stabilize sensitive equipment on ships. When one of the springs accidentally fell off a shelf, it continued moving, and James got the idea for a toy. His wife Betty came up with the name, and when the Slinky made its debut in late 1945, James sold 400 of the bouncy toys in 90 minutes. Today, more than 250 million Slinkys have been sold worldwide.


If you can't eat just one crisp, blame it on Chef George Crum. He reportedly created the salty snack in 1853 at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York. Fed up with a customer who continuously sent his fried potatoes back, complaining that they were soggy and not crunchy enough, Crum sliced the potatoes as thin as possible, fried them in hot grease, then doused them with salt. Of course the customer loved them. "Saratoga Chips" quickly became a popular item at the lodge and throughout New England.

Eventually, the crisps were mass-produced for home consumption, but since they were stored in barrels or tins, they quickly went stale. Then, in the 1920s, Laura Scudder invented the airtight bag by ironing together two pieces of waxed paper, thus keeping the crisps fresh for longer. Today, crisps are packaged in plastic or foil bags.


Fireworks originated in China some 2,000 years ago, and legend has it that they were accidentally invented by a cook who mixed together charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter -- all items commonly found in kitchens in those days. The mixture burned and when compressed in a bamboo tube, it exploded. There's no record of whether it was the cook's last day on the job.


One smell most people remember from childhood is the odour of Play-Doh, the brightly-coloured, nontoxic modelling clay. Play-Doh was accidentally invented in 1955 by Joseph and Noah McVicker while trying to make wallpaper cleaner. It was marketed a year later by toy manufacturer Rainbow Crafts. More than 700 million pounds of Play-Doh have sold since then, but the recipe remains a secret.

Imperfect World: Basis for New Work

In Kabbalah, it is understood that this world is like a corridor to the next. We are to understand it as a sort of experimental, accidental space. Perhaps an imperfect place.

I've always pictured this world to be an accident and imperfect, often without thinking Kabbalistically, but that this world is an imperfect accident of genius! A world in which there is so much knowledge to delve into, to gain, and numerous areas of research to discover, unearth and explore. Infinite places to go, activities to do, leisures to occupy oneself with, hobbies to in which one becomes immersed. But at the same time, the question is always there saying to me inside "what is the purpose?" Where is the ultimate definitive point? What is the goal and why? the target boy, what's the target..? ha! Just like the song, "there's no beginning and there'll be no end..."

In some respects all life becomes repetitive. An endless cycle with endless amounts of heirs and inheritance. To which point are we to progress? And why should the next generation pick up the pieces of a world which, at times, could be seen as futile for such reasons. Endless procreation. A new generation having to deal with the problems in the world. Metaphorically speaking life is like the wagon replaced by the car, the purpose is to get to places quicker, but why do we need to get to places?

I ask myself what is perfection, what is the cure? This leads me to consider utopia. I would say that equilibrium is certainly a state of perfection. One direction then leads me to consider socialist utopia, which I explored in my installation Oil-Of-Course. And though it makes perfect sense where everyone is equal, there are still plain and simple black and white differences in ethnicity, identity and culture which means we will never all be the same, and will constantly be identified as different by some stupid person. I rule that philosophy out. But it is that type of perfection that is absolutely impossible to achieve in this world. A world of dualities where there is always going to be oppositions, "chalk and cheese" as I love to call it!

Perhaps that is why in a democracy it is okay when a politician is elected leader and proceeds to make constant mistakes. We all shout angrily, but we all know prior to election even, that making mistakes is only human, and that the responsibility of making big decisions is not something we desire to take on board. Steven Poliakoff is great at making films about rich and wealthy people, those with money give it to others to make decisions for them. They hate responsibility and do not want to be left with ethical and moral decisions. (The corruption of NGOs) do I dare slip that in. Better have others making decisions for so long as it doesn't affect yours truly!

An imperfect world means that in some senses of those words we are all imperfect in our characters and our being. Unbalanced? Caught between ethics and morality? to be good or bad, right and wrong, but of course never really knowing what this is? ...And who decides? Why?

Well perhaps it is this strive to reach infinity, an impossible destination that is the imperfection of our life. Aiming for the ultimate thing, the source, the shelf we cannot reach. Taking father's works and continuing his research. Or perhaps the mason trade. Like daddy who was in the Navy, I think I'll join the navy. Spewing repetitive cycles like a bad acid trip. But look at how beautiful the colours of the ride is! (get my drift?)

Aronfosky's film Pi is a visual way to imagine this futility and imperfection. The source, the code, the numerical value, the philosophical equation to eternal, infinite wisdom and understanding is what we supposedly gain in the world to come. To seek perfection one cannot live in a world of imperfection, and as Danny gets closer and closer to the number, the key to solving the absolute impossible causes his seizures get worse and worse.

We could take Tarkovsky's Stalker, when they enter the Zone and similarly, each professional wishes to gain wisdom and understanding to answer their ultimate questions and reasons for being on the earth, but as they get closer and closer to the source, existence gets harder and more dangerous, more complex and more surreal, booby traps. At one point, one man seeks to sabotage the zone with a stick of dynamite so no one can ever find out the meanings to their lives.

Turning back towards the world, our world, it seems as though we are inevitably trapped within boundaries and limitations and that no matter where we go or how far we get, we are always caught within a set of brackets. (Birth Death) (Left Right) (Here There)

We are, so to speak, like life caught in a condom, wriggling around inside, alive (and arguably dead), yet unable to swim towards that source, (and metaphorically speaking :[] )...that egg on the other side.

This is the basis for a new piece of work, sketches, I put down onto paper...

Berlin: Spreepark Video

After Amsterdam I visited Berlin. This is a video by Ying who is a photographer, but this time I'm taking pictures when we all hung out in the abandoned theme park in Treptower called Spreepark. He made it on his iphone. x

A'Dam: NDSM-Werf & Eddie the Eagle Museum

Amsterdam Centre can get a little touristy, and mainstream. Apart from commercial galleries, cool markets and the usual smart shop coffee shop drib-drab that so many people wind up getting wasted, (I'm a little past all that) I wanted to see something different and exciting whilst I was there. I had heard rumours from people of great places across the waters that were exciting. So one afternoon I decided to head out of the Central parts and get on a ferry boat (free and only 10mins) directed towards "NDSM-Werf". (The ferry runs from behind Central Station in case you wanted to go yourself).

NDSM Werf is an old Shipping yard which has been occupied by artists in residence. When I arrived, there was actually a big perfomance festival going on called "over het festival". There were lots of crate containers in which you could pay to see each act. The initial greeting was overwhelming and a surprise to see such life and activity in such a remote place. But leaving that aside I ventured further in to find this residence.

Along the shore there were lots of disused trains that people lived inside. The big crane in the back of this picture has massive tracks to go all the way down in the water with a massive bay used originally for tugging in large boats. All along they were setting up for performances. I saw there was going to be parkour and urban-freeflow acrobats doing some amazing stuff!

The Noorderlicht Café serves very good food inside a former greenhouse. It was very popular as you can see.

Eventually after a lot of dilly dally I got inside the NDSM-Werf complex. A beautifully large hung space, I was bewildered and reminded of the Charlie Kaufman film "Synechdoche New York" (if you've seen it you'll know what I'm talking about), the place is massive! They even had a £4 Million skate park built by the authorities, almost suspended inside (apparently this was a later development which has annoyed many founder artists due to noise, but I still think it's pretty cool!)

Inside there were self built ateliers and studios, workshops the lot. I got talking to a few people, all friendly and happy to see English speaking people. One guy was a set builder working on commissions for Burning Man Festival. I was surprised that it's not only Visual Artists working there but a whole range of professionals doing such diverse work.

Massive sculptures too. When you have enough space who cares! This I liked. I'm always upset that the commercial and mainstream often sub/consciously demands smaller works because they sell more easily. Sometimes I like to see people who make what they want to make and just don't give a shit about how they'll shift it or where it goes to!

It was really nice to experience and hear from Dutch people how different their art world is to how it appears to be in London. European artists don't seem to be struggling as much as in London where we often have to battle several jobs, maintain studio space, no chance of squatting, and anything that is underground or slightly counter mainstream seems to go unnoticed or a black X gets put over your name.

I'm led right now to talk about Aukje Dekker, a good friend of mine who I met up with in Amsterdam. She has in the last year received huge amount of acclaim for setting up her Museum space Eddie The Eagle, an underground art space (Counter Mainstream) in Amsterdam Noord - (another ferry takes you there). click to watch good video of the space

We talked for a while at the Rembrandt Café (apparently one of the oldest cafés in Amsterdam) about the space and how it promoted exactly what I seek to do with my own ideas for space which is involving a whole range of artists doing what they feel passionately about in an ungoverned or uncontrolled space that is only tied to integrity. It appeared that the artists got to take the power back. They have had some mad installations by the looks of pictures.

Since setting this space up and during the course of the year, The Dutch government have been cutting huge amounts of funding to the arts hitting all kinds of projects, which means the amazing residency De Ateliers may also cease to exist(?) and the Reijks Akademie being hit immensely. No longer will there be funding to bring in all those fantastic visiting artists...

Aukje's museum space came just at the right time, giving the right incentive to others, and bigger people started to listen to them. Now she is in talks with the Stedelijk Museum (Like the Tate Modern of A'Dam) for her shows to travel/become bigger so I'm really watching this space for her.

She continues to support me telling me to make the work I want to make... It's always reassuring to hear this from someone who shares similar opinions and that what the world needs are people who believe strongly in themselves. And she is living proof. People with great ideas however random and complicated or strange and unfitting, making these happen by creating the opportunities, and that is what people will want to talk about in the future.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Amsterdam XXX Voor Fotografie

There is some debate over what the three Xs ( X X X ) of Amsterdam stand for? Some people could imagine it stands for adults only! Others think it has to do with the coat of arms and three famous virtues, either way Amsterdam's photography is extremely good!

I visited the Huis Marseille Museum Voor Fotografie to see the amazing photographic work of Adam Fuss. Fuss became a distinguished artist by embracing a range of historical and contemporary photographic techniques to capture a broad set of emotion-laden subject matter. Art critics often describe the artist’s work as speaking to the ephemerality of a moment in time and life itself. Fuss’s images have depicted babies, water droplets, christening dresses, moving light, snakes, sunflowers, rabbit entrails, and human skulls. Perhaps Fuss’s best known images are those of babies on their backs in shallow baths of water with ripples and droplets of water capturing the youngster’s motion. My favourite photograph was the peacock but I also liked his latest works from the Ark series which capture concentric waves originating from a single water droplet.

Then I popped into FOAM and saw an amazing Anton Corbijn exhibition "Inwards and Onwards" which exhibited many photographs of artists and fame. I particularly liked the shot of Anselm Kiefer with some of his enormous installation structures.

Strange feeling when I saw this photograph of Alexander Mcqueen. It's beautiful and mysterious.

There was also a smaller group show "Continuity of Chaos" in which I particularly liked the series Traces from American photographer Aaron McElroy. His close-ups of bodies and body parts blurred into hazy misty contours where identities are concealed and abstracted creating new forms and visual landscapes. He had a solo show at dalla Rosa Gallery (London).

Monday, 18 July 2011

Amsterdam Travels & Media Kunst

We were in Amsterdam for four days last week, staying in the luxurious centre of town, on the Prinsengracht canal in one of my Dutch aunt's apartments. Though this apartment does not face towards the waterfront on the Canal, the back is spacious with a lovely peaceful shared rooftop. Tables and chairs for summer dinner parties. Just one block away from Anne Frank's house off Westerkerk (West Church), you can hear the bells chime beautifully every half to full hour. (we would later climb this tower for only €7 on the guided tour which gave us a beautiful view of Amsterdam).

My cousin arrived on her bike arround 22:00 to let us into the flat and in return for the hospitality I bought a strong bottle of Spiced Rum from Duty Free for her, which we cracked open together and caught up to speed on things. The last time I escaped to Amsterdam was two or three years ago an a journey of self discovery, and a lot had come to pass for both of us since. Last time I stayed by my cousin for a while in Postjeskaade, in the West. A cold attic but with the most beautiful window overlooking the swans on Rembrandt Park. I just want to say: Jess you are strong and I admire your Dutch courage. You have such character, I'm a firm believer that this strength will take you far in life.

We got to sleep early in a lovely double bed (or was it quite late by the time we arrived and finished catching up, said goodnight to Jess) and slipped into something more light. Earlier we'd shared a lavish "steak" meal at an Argentinian restaurant by the Jordaan with candle-light and a little vin rouge, and by the time we'd finished we were on time to meet. The bedding was divine and could make you sleep for hours!

Mornings. Shopping at the Albert Heijn. Eggs, bread. Home cooking. Love cooking. The kitchen has a lovely old match lit stove and oven cooker. On the kitchen table is an old tape cassette player. I rewound the tape and clicked play. If I remember, the sweet music that I heard was from Hendel. Hendel and eggs sizzling on warm buttered toast! Stroopwaffels and Tea!

Later that early morning we ventured out for a walk. I allowed us to conveniently pass by the Nederlands Institut voor Mediakunst. A bird caught my eye swooping a long the Keizergracht and my spirit was lifted. Most astonishing works were on display. We spent a while together sitting, watching the most mesmerising video pieces, a three part video installation in separate rooms called Nostalgia (2009) by Israeli artist/film maker Omer Fast.

What links all three pieces is this memory of an African Congolese immigrant giving an account of how he used to catch partridges using a spring trap made from sticks. At first it appears to be white man building the trap with a voice over. Then in the next room an African man speaking on his own. We see the man become questioned by what appears to be a British authoritative director of some sort. Through words and distant communication he tries to give an account of the place he used to live in the Congo. At some point these positive memories of the house or fields become hard to relay when the man starts to talk about his experiences of being forced into fighting and war. Communication becomes broken and instead he is only able to communicate his experience of catching a partridge and how it can be used to catch enemies or somebody by the neck.

The third and more lengthy part sees a rather strange twist. In some sort of post apocalyptic yet period feel, we follow a group of white people escaping from London and the UK through tunnels, We later find out that they are trying to immigrate to the DR Congo.

There is a strange dialogue running between an African lady and her lover/husband in which the passing of this story for catching monsters using branches and sticks is passed on. She also talks about her experience travelling to London as an aid worker. We start to assume something bad has happened in London, an epidemic.

It then turns out that the daughter of this couple repeats this story in front of all her class mates at the same time as a white man (who appears like an immigrant worker or caretaker, there to clean the bins) has interrupted their class. He too overhears the story of catching animals using this simple partridge spring trap.

What we are then made aware of finally is that everything is reverse. The black African people have all the power and the white Westerners are the immigrants trying to escape into Africa.
This white man is fortunate to have escaped through the clutches of a group of Black soldiers, dressed in British colonial costume. We see what happens to the rest of his group when they get caught in the cave they are trying to get past. The guards beat her down, pour petrol over her. For an instant the soldier is unable to light his match. The camera pans out of her mouth and we see loads of fruit that looks like sick but it's beautiful. You can only imagine what happens when the guard eventually strikes the match.

Finally cutting back to the last scene the interrogation officer of the school offers this white man the ability to gain citizenship if he rats on his friends who are helping other white people to smuggle in.

The piece makes me think about immigration and how the British govern/ed their turf, questioning what it would be like if Westerners were on the other side of the coin. What if it was the white Westerners who suffered from African Colonialism? it makes us think a lot about the problems in Africa in relation to our borders, our immigration laws, and the Wars in their parts. It's almost like dark irony and sarcasm can be felt throughout this whole third part because we know that we are not helping these people to survive, to get better, and it makes real the idea of being in their shoes. Seeing things from their perspective.

I remember watching "A Time to Kill" and remembering when Samuel L Jackson says to his lawyer that the only way to convince an all "white Jury" to win his case as a black man, is for a his Lawyer, a white man, to actually make this white Jury see no difference between colour and as such, at the end his lawyer conveys the most awful rape/torture scene which we imagine to be Jackson's black daughter throughout. But then at the very end as he starts to cry, he says "Now picture that this girl is white". I guess what I'm trying to say is that films like these expose so much about the struggles and reasons for the Black Diaspora, and often its very difficult to see the other side/be on the other side. It takes a strong sense of imagination, art and movies to convince ourselves, to make us feel like we are in other people's shoes. To see their perspective.
This film does that. It helped to open the heart and to open the conscience.

His other piece "Casting" was quite funny/scary, where two stories seem to be spliced together, one about a man who is supposed to be having some sort of sexual/relationship encounter with a "freaky chick", how he ends up randomly in front of her whole German family at Christmas time, and how she has lots of cuts on her arms and scars.

The other story is that of an American soldier in an army truck that has been hit by a landmine or a rocket, who then accidentally shoots an innocent man in an approaching car. The juxtaposition on four screens, two back to back was simply exciting, terrifying, humorous and surreal.

We left together and headed for lunch... Then later would head together to Huis Marseille to see another fantastic photography artist, but it's late and I'll talk about that some other time.