Sunday, 19 May 2019

Art Night, State of Affairs and talking at Tate Modern

Another few months, another delayed blog post. Again, as they always do, a lot has changed. I thankfully have another job now, as for a month or two I unfortunately only had one, which didn’t pay me enough to survive long. So, back to two jobs, with this new one paying me a lot better than my previous one, giving me the flexibility to produce new work and live comfortably in London. It’s also freelance, allowing me to choose my own days in a given week. Alongside this I have of course been continuing to make new work for myself, preparing for my solo show in Copenhagen in August and waiting for the Daata Editions exhibition to go live, now launching as part of Art Night in London in June. I’ve also been going to lots of shows, watching lots of TV shows and films, playing some video games and beginning to buy and swap art from fellow artists.

As I now have some money and a steady production of painterly works I have begun swapping art with fellow artists. It’s a fantastic way of sharing and gaining new work to have on the walls of my flat, alongside essentially getting rid of old work that people might enjoy more than I do. As I mentioned in my last post, I first swapped a piece with Aaron Scheer, and more recently I did an art swap with Sam Creasey. He received A Walk in the Snow and I received a study of a F35 stealth fighter from him. I was also reminded that I have a small work from Puck Verkade, who I showed last year at Duty Free and since has become a friend of mine, so I owe her a work. She’s requested one of the Disguised Office Infrastructure sculptures. I’m also in the process of swapping the painting A Walk in the Woods with Stine Deja, who I’ve worked with on so many projects. As she doesn’t really produce physical work I think she’s going to make something specifically for me, or something like that, which I’m super excited about. I’ll also be swapping a piece with the director of Salon 75 in Copenhagen, the gallery where I’ll have my solo show. To sum up, swapping work is quite addictive and exciting. I’ve also bought a work from Mathew Zefeldt, whose work I have loved for quite some time, and exhibited in late 2017 for the third issue of the isthisit? book. So, again, if anyone out there, reading this, likes my work, feel free to contact me for a swap.

Anyway, when I last updated this Trust Is The Ultimate Currency at Harlesden High Street was still open. Whilst it was open it received some great critical feedback, the podcast from Artipoeus came out and it was amazing. Here’s the link for anyone interested - – it was such an honour that Susie Kahlich decided to dedicate so much time and research on reviewing and focusing on the show. As I posted online when it came out, I’ve been listening to the podcast for over two years now, so it's a real pleasure to be alongside a so many other great reviews, and to be a part of the Artipoeus archive. Thinking back to when I first listened, I really fell in love with the way Susie speaks about art and how slick the podcast was produced and could only dream that she would decide to do an episode on one of my projects. So yeah, it was such a pleasure and reinforced for me that these are the type of moments that I like when putting together a show. I also had the chance to meet Susie in real life a while back when she came to this talk I was doing at the Tate Modern, so that was also very cool. Anyway, Yasmine Rix also dedicated some time to write a short review on her blog, you can read that here - – she curated the group show in Cambridge that I was in earlier this year. The more I work with artists and curators, and the longer I do it, the more you see how much everything is linked together. You work with someone, then a year later they invite you to do something, and vice versa. Tzvetnik , OFluxo, Daily Lazy, AQNB and Tique Art were also really great with reposting pictures from the show too. That then ended on the 13th April and I’ve been thinking about future things since.
I also spoke to Jyni Ong from its nice that about the sixth issue of the book, you can read about that here - - that was fun.
Since last posting I also decided to put together a book of my own, full of my own texts and a selection of stills from my new video piece that I’ve produced for Daata Editions. It’s called State of Affairs, both the title of the book, my new video piece and my upcoming solo show in Copenhagen. It’s a big, quite broad title, so I thought I may as well use it for multiple projects. It features a bunch of texts that I’ve written over the past year or so, all the fictional writing I produce for press releases alongside my dissertation, again. I’ve re-titled all the texts too, each of them have the title of a different Philip K Dick novel or short story. Here’s the little promo text:

State of Affairs is a new book by artist, curator and writer, Bob Bicknell-Knight. The book contains a number of texts that have been written over the past few years, from exhibition press releases to academic essays, concerning new technologies, future fictions and simulated spaces.

The texts are placed alongside a series of stills from State of Affairs (2018 – 19), a video piece that compiles footage from the YouTube channel News Direct, in which daily news stories, from self-driving buses to social media bots, are transcribed into 3D rendered animations. Non-linear in presentation, the re-appropriated video work illustrates current and future modes of technological interface, from facial recognition software to drone surveillance. Executed in a Y2K aesthetic, the work is dystopic and utopic all at once. Akin to the unconscious rituals implemented while existing on the internet, opening tab after tab, clickbait after clickbait, the piece mirrors the inconclusive narrative of our digital lives. The visual content is accompanied by a soothing, melodic soundtrack and augmented voiceover, forewarning of the future of gamified spaces and digital death. The artwork was commissioned by Daata Editions, and will be available to purchase and view online in 2019. The work's debut will be a part of Beyond The Door, a new online exhibition featuring newly commissioned artworks curated by Bob Bicknell-Knight on Daata Editions.

The font used in the book is Roboto, developed by Google as the system font for its mobile operating system Android, developed to be modern, approachable and emotional. The texts are presented in columns, mimicking how articles are formulated in newspapers and magazines, compressing the news into bitesize digestible chunks of data.

To pre-order a copy for £12.00, head to

I also gave a talk at the Tate Modern last month, on the 4th April, as part of Lives of Net Art, an event exploring how artists use the internet in a day of talks, workshops, and interactive experiences. I was in conversation with Ruth Catlow, co-director of Furtherfield. I think it went well, probably the best talk I’ve done so far. I think I’m slowly learning to be less nervous and surer of myself, but I still find public speaking to be quite tough. I’m good with 1 to 1 and small groups, but when you’re on a stage and there’s like 40 or 50 people in the audience it gets a little stressful. Here’s some professional photos of me, courtesy of Hydar Dewachi. And thanks so much to Tanya Boyarkina and Rebecca Sinker for the invitation.

I’ve also received a bunch of submissions for the next issue of isthisit?, with submissions being closed on the 31st March. I still haven’t had the time to go through them just yet, but I do need to fairly soon. I also want to apply for funding, alongside spending time working on this issue, as well as getting a good venue for it. It’ll definitely come out in 2019, I just need to be on it a little more, especially as people work hard on applications. It’ll be on digital love, more info here -

I also gave a short talk at the Tate Modern again to accompany Offprint London 2019. It was fun, although very informal, sitting in the middle of the Turbine Hall, with children right in front of you, makes talking very difficult.

I’m also currently putting together a group exhibition for the website, the first I’ve curated in quite some time, over a year in fact. It’s going to be called Please don't stand in the middle of the road waiting for me to get you on camera and will focus on how human beings are increasingly reliant on digital technologies, navigating through offline environments utilising online tools such as Google Maps, alongside the crating of digital, online identities, to be monetised and utilised when traversing offline space. Currently the artists Aram Bartholl, Petra Cortright and Pilvi Takala have responded positively, I’m just waiting for a few others, then I can work on a press releases and the layout, etc. Having not curated one for a while, it is quite lovely to return to, seeing how easy and simple it is to put together the show, with no serious money involved, no real time involvement from the artists and very little pressure. It’s a sort of stripped back curating, where it becomes about the actual art rather than the bulk of other crap involved in putting together an offline exhibition. Anyway, that’ll go live on the 23rd June.
The work I made before, Kennel Chaos, is part of a group exhibition which opens later this month at Galerie Manique in New York. I still haven’t made any more of these, I probably will in the future, it’s just about ordering some more aluminium dibond.
I’ve also been working with Rosa Nuutinen on a project, focusing on The Big Four tech companies, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Here’s the vague brief that we’ve produced for the project:

The Big Four is an exhibition that considers the technological impact that humans have on the planet, considering the Big Four tech companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple) and how humans and new forms of technology continue to assist in major environmental change.

The exhibition will consist of new drawings and sculptural installations from Bob Bicknell-Knight and Rosa-Maria Nuutinen.

Bicknell-Knight will exhibit a new series of sculptures, built on and around an aluminium modular extrusion system. Developed to resemble information stands, the different sculptures will include new ceramic pieces utilising the Big Four company logos, imagining a not so distant future where companies have created autonomous household pets, that play your favourite song, speak to you about your day and help you cook your dinner. The stands will function as informative advertisement displays, informing the viewer of what their new pet is capable of.

Nuutinen will exhibit a new series of drawings, responding to Bicknell-Knight’s sculptures, imagining future scenarios whereby the pets have become fully autonomous, pulling themselves apart, forming gangs and ravaging the earth. Within the drawings, the autonomous beings become relics of our current world, where humans no longer exist but their technological creations continue to have an ongoing impact on the earth. Life is seen to continue forwards, with or without the presence of human beings.

For the show, which is yet to have a venue if anyone out there is interested in lending us a space for a week or two, I’m currently producing a number of sculptural ceramic works of the different companies logos, alongside a number of digital works too. Rosa is drawing them, in various environments alongside picking themselves apart at the seams, akin to how these companies seemingly battle with each other for technological dominance, as well as making mistakes and landing themselves in various haphazard scenarios. Once the work is produced, who knows where it will be shown, or maybe we’ll have to rent out a space for a bit, either way it should be a great collaboration.

I continue to make the Mark Zuckerberg trophy hunting portraits, two of these will be exhibited as part of my solo show. I’m getting them printed fairly small, both for transport purposes but also because I quite like small work right now, how it fits on a wall and has a presence surrounding it. So these two will be in the show:

I also made another new piece for the solo, titled Mark’s House. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, is a private person with a carefully crafted public persona. In public he preaches about digital transparency and encourages users of his social media platform to share as much as possible about their daily lives, stating that the world will become more open and connected by doing so, that a world that’s more open and connected is a better world. Simultaneously, in his private life, Zuckerberg purchased four houses around his home in Palo Alto, California, in 2013 for a total price of $30million. This was due to fears that a property developer was going to build a tall building behind his home, enabling the owners to see into his backyard. Mark's House was created by studying Google Maps’ in-depth satellite imagery of Zuckerberg's residence.
I’ve also been working on the press release for the exhibition, here’s the work in progress write up:

Salon 75 is delighted to present State of Affairs, the first solo exhibition in Denmark by artist Bob Bicknell-Knight.

Working within several different mediums, Bicknell-Knight’s work responds to the hyper consumerism of the internet, drawing from a unique sensibility influenced by participation in online communities and virtual games. Bicknell-Knight’s work explores the divergent methods by which consumer capitalist culture permeates both online and offline society. Utopian, dystopian, automation, surveillance and digitization of the self are some of the themes that arise through Bicknell-Knight’s critical examination of contemporary technologies.

In State of Affairs, Bicknell-Knight exhibits new and previous work in and around an aluminium modular extrusion system, used in office partitions and conveyer belts, concerning the news media, data hacking, and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook.

Zuckerberg is a private person with a carefully crafted public persona. In public he preaches about digital transparency and encourages users of his social media platform to share as much as possible about their daily lives, stating that the world will become more open and connected by doing so, that a world that’s more open and connected is a better world. Simultaneously, in his private life, Zuckerberg purchased four houses around his home in Palo Alto, California, in 2013 for a total price of $30million. This was due to fears that a property developer was going to build a tall building behind his home, enabling the owners to see into his backyard. A transparent 3D printed sculpture of Zuckerberg’s home (Mark’s House, 2019) is present within the show, created by studying Google Maps’ in-depth satellite imagery.

In a series of new paintings (Mark’s First and Mark’s Second, 2019) looking into the psyche and moral compass of the Facebook founder, Zuckerberg is portrayed as a trophy hunter, individuals who hunt wild game for recreational purposes. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stated that there was a year when Zuckerberg was only eating what he was killing and had a penchant for goat meat. Supposedly he would stun goats with a taser, cut their throat with a knife and have their bodies sent to a butcher to prepare. Being served goat for dinner whilst attending a dinner party at Zuckerberg’s house was Dorsey’s most memorable encounter with Zuckerberg. The new paintings imagine that Zuckerberg took this interest in animal killing further, becoming a trophy hunter. At the end of a successful hunt, the hunter will usually pose next to the slain animal for a photograph, to be distributed to friends and family members.

Other works in the exhibition include a replica of Zuckerberg’s grey t-shirt (Mark’s Shirt, 2019) that he wears every day, a Facebook employee ID card (Mark’s ID, 2019), and a custom printed zip top handbag (Unattended Bag, 2018) depicting a slogan that was part of Facebook’s advertising campaign after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Inside the bag is a USB embedded within gold 3D print of the CEO’s head, containing Bicknell-Knight’s Facebook data from the past ten years.

The final artwork in the exhibition is a recent video commissioned by Daata Editions (State of Affairs, 2018 – 19), a compilation of footage from the YouTube channel News Direct, in which daily news stories, from self-driving buses to social media bots, are transcribed into 3D rendered animations. Non-linear in presentation, the re-appropriated video work illustrates current and future modes of technological interface, from facial recognition software to drone surveillance. Executed in a dated Y2K aesthetic, the work is dystopic and utopic all at once. Akin to the unconscious rituals implemented while existing on the internet, opening tab after tab, clickbait after clickbait, State of Affairs mirrors the inconclusive narrative of our digital lives. The visual content is accompanied by a soothing, melodic soundtrack and augmented voiceover, forewarning of the future of gamified spaces and digital death.

I’m probably going to add in a few bits and pieces, but this is almost done.

What else? I continue to produce the faux paintings, and I have almost figured out the best way to produce them. Printed onto canvas, stretched and then painted onto as well as the sides slightly too, then it creates a truly faux painting. If you look at the sides it’s actual acrylic, but the front is not, which is an attempt to throw the viewer off, as well as continuing to make it about a collaboration between myself and the digital artwork I originally produced on the computer. I’m also continuing with the faux studios, which, again, will soon be their own physical works as well. Here’s a few from the past few months:

Last week I was in an exhibition at Lewisham Art House, curated by Kristina Pulejkova with myself, Rachel McRae and Sarah Derat, Stine Deja and Kristina Pulejkova. It was a really nice group of artists. I had a few old works and some new, unexhibited stuff too, mostly in the faux grass category, which is still a fun material to use. Also seeing these works in a proper exhibition space has made me want to work with the material some more, so I think I might at some point soon. Anyway, here’s some photographs from the show:

Recently I had a short interview with Tom Milnes, director of Digital Artist Residency, about isthisit? and other things, readable on the Modern Art Oxford website here - part of Activating our Archives, a project that culminated with This Image is No Longer Available, a one day event of talks, workshops and discussions that happened on the 27th April 2019.
Let’s also talk briefly about the Daata Editions exhibition. It’s going to launch as part of Art Night London on the 22nd June at the Every Man Cinema in Kings Cross, more info here - I’ve never actually been to Art Night, last year I was elsewhere, then the year before that I was in Venice, etc. It should be a great evening, and I’m super thankful to David at Daata for trusting me with commissioning these works. It’s been really great.

And I think that might be everything I’ve been working on? Maybe? Now that I’m back to working 4 days on an average week it’s reduced the amount of time I have for my work, alongside fitting in general life stuff too, but it’s moving forwards, as always, slowly but surely.

Anyway, let’s move onto exhibitions I’ve seen over the past few months. We’re only 3500 words in and I’m already a little tired. Let’s start with Alice Morey’s solo show, titled She doesn’t love, she just devours at The Ryder. It was fine, a little too messy for me, complete with pheasant hides and urine bags, although it used Ryder’s multidimensional space really well.
Joy before the object, a group show at Seventeen Gallery featuring Brian Bress, Simon Cunningham, Hannah Hewetson, Joey Holder, Anouk Kruithof, Erin O’Keefe, Simon Linke and Richard Paul. It was also curated by Hoxton Distillery. I’m unsure whether that’s a pseudonym or a literal distillery, but it may explain why the whole show felt a little off and very ‘let’s put some paintings on the wall over here’. To be honest, I went for Joey Holder’s work, which I really like, but aside from that and Simon Cunningham’s odd, very literal visualisation of an old online illusion, I was slightly bored. I love seventeen and their artists, but sometimes they just show very basic painting shows. Of course everyone wants to buy a painting and that’s ‘easy’, but it does feel a little cheap sometimes to show abstract painters when you represent very tech driven artists like Jon Rafman and David Blandy. I don’t know, maybe I’m forcing my own bias and interests onto Seventeen, but that’s just how I view the gallery. Maybe someone who hates tech driven work sees it as a gallery showcasing painters, who occasionally exhibits their small oeuvre of boring tech artists? Who knows.

Morag Keil’s solo show Moarg Kiel at ICA felt like such a cop out, only showing previous artworks within the space. I loved her solo show at Project Native Informant last year, well considered and a properly thought out show, but this felt super cobbled together and just a mish mash of work, work that actually wasn’t that interesting and felt super liminal. So yeah, not the best ICA show I’ve been to, that’s for sure.
Jemma Egan’s solo show Family Member at Lily Brooke was quite nice, focusing on digital and physical pets and our human connections to them. It was nice, but not great, I don’t know how it could have been great, but I didn’t feel as connected to her work as I have been previously, when seeing her duo show at Assembly Point or her solo at the Zabludowicz. Unsure, I guess I don’t think the actual work lived up to the press release, speaking about Tamagotchi’s and our connection to them. I think I was ready for a digital focused show, but in reality, it was about dogs and hoovers. Maybe I missed the point.
Thomas Yeomans’ solo show Dusk at xero, kline & coma was nice, stepping away from his interest in flags to an interest in fascist architecture. More light boxes, a large symbol on the wall, potentially a cross between a hashtag and something more menacing (?) and a framed blueprint of a building.
Mandy El-Sayegh at Chisenhale was not for me.
Whale Fall at Gossamer Fog was fun, a huge group show curated by Most Dismal Swamp, which also has an iteration at arebyte Gallery too, titled Swamp Protocol. Both shows are great collaborative ventures, consisting of sculptures made by a number of the participants and two epic videos. It’s the type of videos that look good and include general, corporate, AI, life quotes and sayings, with no real narrative that I can identify. Generally, both shows looked cool and included some great artists, but that’s as much as I chose to dig into. I’m sure swamp aesthetics/ideologies do have significance in the current political climate, but I either can’t or can’t be bothered to see it. The booklet that arebyte produce for every exhibition probably explains it, but, again, I don’t actually want to read it. The aesthetics are not mine to be interested in. Artists included in Whale Fall are @baojiaxiang  /  Scrabulous Anomaly in the Re-write Department  /  Confraternity of Neoflagellants  /  Department of Decay  /  Lewis Den Hertog  /  Plastique Fantastique  /  Bianca Hlywa  /  AGF HYDRA  /  Marija Bozinovska Jones with MBJ Wetware  /  Natalia Janula  /  Alexandra Koumantaki  /  Peter Lee  /  Christopher Macinnes  /  Piano Princess  /  Hannah Rose Stewart  /  Marta Stražičić  /  Tea Stražičić  /  Theo Triantafyllidis  /  Jennifer Walton.
Artists included in Swamp Protocol are David Atlas, Iain Ball, Lara Joy Evans, Samuel Capps, Holly Childs, Lea Collet and Marios Stamatis, core.pan, Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Marija Bozinovska Jones with MBJ Wetware, Will Kendrick, Rachel McRae, Benoit Ménard, Sarah Montet, Anni Nöps, Eva Papamargariti, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Viktor Timofeev and Kyle Zeto Thorne.
I was really surprised by Lindsey Mendick’s The Ex Files. I have previously not been such a big fan of her work, as she generally makes messy ceramics and I don’t really want or care that much about the context, but this show was different. The subject matter of this solo exhibition, reflecting on the various partners she has had and speaking honestly about the raw nature of the relationships, does work well with the medium and the messiness of the work. So finally, I have been drawn in. Perhaps it’s Castor and Andy’s curatorial insight?
A weird non-art exhibition was the London Mithraeum at Bloomberg Space. Basically going down into part of a Roman temple that was once discovered right beside the Thames many years ago. Although it wasn’t the real ruins, but ones that had been made by an archaeological studio somewhere. It was super weird and kind of a waste of time…
Sara Knowland’s solo exhibition Mostly Women at Soft Opening was fine, big kind of ugly paintings.
Daniel Blumberg’s solo show UN-ERASE-ABLE at Union was fine.
Caroline Wells Chandler’s solo show Storybook Life upstairs on the other hand was fantastic, with a series of hand crocheted artworks of various childlike figures. It was very nice and I would totally have one.
Kato Six’s solo show State of Matter at Vitrine was fine.
Playful Aggressions, a group exhibition with Guendalina Cerruti, Holly Hendry, Zoe Williams, and a story by Charlie Fox at Greengrassi, was fine. I’m a bit of a sucker sometimes for Holly Hendry’s large sculptural works.
Upstairs, Sam Bakewell’s solo show Time For Waste at Corvi Mora consisted of some quite beautiful little assemblages of sculptures.
Dennis Buck’s solo show +491522414NAME at Roman Road was fine.
The Theory of Concentric Spheres, a group show featuring Alan Warburton, Naheed Raza, Oliver Laric, Rosie Carr and Jayoon Choi at South Kiosk was fun, Alan Warburton makes truly fantastic video works, and so of course does Oliver Laric.
DIM LIT, a solo show by Charlie Godet Thomas at Assembly Point, was really great. Charlie continues to make great, cartoon inspired drawings and sculptures. They’re always super delicate and feel extremely considered.
A Fortnight of Tears, a solo show by Tracey Emin at White Cube, was awful.
The Drawing Biennial at The Drawing Room was pretty great, tons of fantastic artists. If only I had the money to bid on some.
Ed Fornieles’ Cel at Carlos/Ishikawa was fine, loud and angry.
Michael Queenland at Maureen Paley was fine.
Gardar Eide Einarsson downstairs however at Maureen Paley was fantastic. I’m going to quote the press release and leave it at that: The second is a series of small paintings based on the (then classified) 1965 Department of the Army Field Manual FM 5-31, Boobytraps published by the Department of the Army, which describes ways that everyday harmless objects can be turned into explosives - though mostly in anachronistic, quaint and seemingly not very efficient ways. So, really great basically.
The group show by SPACE Art + Tech was good, featuring Clarice Hilton, Shinji Toya & Murad Khan, Chris Wood, Josefina Nelimarkka, Stine Deja, Sarah Derat & Rachel McRae and Hannah Silva.
I, Spider, a solo show by Kenneth Bergfeld at Project Native Informant was fine.
Augustas Serapinas’ solo show at Emalin, February 13th, was fun. Basically snowmen in a gallery space, so that was very cool.
John Bellany and Alan Davie’s duo show Cradle of Magic at Newport Street Gallery was fine.
Jan Kiefer’s solo show Schwarz - Weiss at Union Pacific was fine.
Bendt Eyckermans’ Yellow Leaves at Carlos / Ishikawa is fantastic and I would highly recommend it. His paintings are truly beautiful.
Chloe Wise’s Not That We Don’t at Almine Rech was good, beautifully painted paintings although the content felt a little off. Paintings of rich people by a rich person. I dunno…
Flora + Fauna was a group exhibition at Sadie Coles featuring Michele Abeles, Don Brown, Monster Chetwynd, John Currin, Urs Fischer, Hilary Lloyd, Laura Owens, Simon Periton, Ugo Rondinone, Borna Sammak, Wilhelm Sasnal, Daniel Sinsel, Christiana Soulou and Nicola Tyson. It had some very lovely works, and they all fitted in, and yeah? It was a big group show. Nothing more, nothing less.
Lawrence Lek’s solo show AIDOL
at Sadie Coles was quite the commitment. I really love his work, how they’re made with video game software, the stories surrounding AI and the future, but this video work was just too much. It’s 80 minutes, almost double his last major work Geomancer. I just felt myself falling asleep and becoming bored by the plot, a plot that stretched on forever. I think next time someone thinks about making an 80 minute film they should speak honestly to their friends and family about it, as I think it’s very rare that an artist is able to pull something like that off.
Hannah Rowan’s solo show at Assembly Point, Prima Materia, was good. Pretty much what I expect from their work now, work about the environment collapsing by utilising large blocks of ice and watery machines. Yeah, good but predictable due to seeing lots of their work before in other solo and group shows.
Anna Barriball’s solo show Fade at Frith Street Gallery was fine. A piece of work looked like a window, I guessed it was called Window. It was.
Rosie Grace Ward’s Yield at Hannah Barry Gallery was fun, with a nice story attached to a room scale installation. Again, very cool.
Allan Sekula’s solo show Photography, A Wonderfully Inadequate Medium at Marian Goodman was fine.
Bea Schlingelhoff’s KINGSDOWN at Arcadia Missa was fine.
Pippa Eason’s The Ball of My Foot, a solo show at Seager Gallery, was good. Nice squiggly shapes.
Victor Seaward’s solo show at Lily Brooke Isabelline and Other Colours was fine, basically a show revolving around a specific shade of yellow, alongside lots of 3D printed objects. Yeah, kind of cool.
I was also invited to the private view of AI: More than Human at the Barbican. It was uber busy, so I didn’t actually get to go into the curve exhibition space, but they were serving incredible drinks, so it was basically worth it just to sit outside with a free mojito.
Piotr Lakomy’s One Foot Bone Box at The Sunday Painter was super weird, featuring ostrich eggs and ripped canvas. Very much not my type of work.
Emily Mulenga’s Electric Lady Land at Enclave, curated by Julia Greenway, was fun. Both people I’ve worked with before, showcasing one of Emily’s previous video works, projected onto
three walls with a zebra carpet and glowing nightclub stools.
Alan Magee’s Data Dust, Dust Data at Castor was pretty great, featuring a number of ceramic sculptures of various body parts, produced by sculpting the clay whilst the artist had a VR headset on, allowing him to observe a 3D digital version of each body part. A really nice idea that connects the physical and the virtual really well. I do really like Castor, slowly becoming one of my favourite small spaces in London.
Winnie Herbstein’s Brace at Jupiter Woods was fine.
World Capital by Felicity Hammond at arebyte Gallery was fun, basically a waterlogged architectural paradise, an exhibition imagining how London City Island (where the gallery is based) used to be, and how it will slowly become (and arguably already is) a haven for the rich.
Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern was interesting, her early work is so much better than her more abstract pieces made later in her career. It’s interesting to see.
Franz West, also at Tate, was fine, I wasn’t that interested.
Draw Art Fair London at Saatchi Gallery was fine, my favourite artist there being Marie Jacotey, whose work I have enjoyed for some time now.
Anthea Hamilton’s The Prude at Thomas Dane Gallery was exciting and Instagram worthy. Huge butterfly sculptures that were akin to pillows. All very nice.
Kate Cooper’s Symptom Machine at Hayward Gallery was quite astonishing. It’s the first time I’ve seen her videos, as she hasn’t had a show in London for some time (aside from the Vitrine solo show which annoyingly contained no video work). They’re comprised of a series of different female avatars, in various states of degradation, going through different activities. From cleaning a large bronze female bust to crawling along a treadmill. This is accompanied by a soundtrack that’s intent on grating your ears away. So yeah, very cool, highly recommended.
I also went to the Slade BA degree show. Highlights for me were a series of paintings by Esmond Loh, with sci-fi aesthetics and an impressive painting technique, alongside some wall based aluminium sculptures by Cassandre Greenberg. Let degree show season begin, I guess.
Moving onto the final few exhibitions, we have the large group exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection. World Receivers, featuring work from Kevin Beasley, Hayden Dunham, Lizzie Fitch, Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin, Aaron Fowler, Isa Genzken, Tau Lewis, Athena Papadopoulos, Signe Pierce, Puppies Puppies, Cindy Sherman, Anj Smith, Jasper Spicero, Ryan Trecartin, Anna Uddenberg, Chloe Wise and Issy Wood. It was a bit too mental for me, a bit too packed in, accompanied by some not that great art. I felt a little like a kid in an overstuffed candy shop, lots of great stuff but it needed someone to take a step back and realise how freaking packed everything was going to be before all the work arrived and it was too late. So, lots of great work but curatorially it felt like a lot.
I dislike a lot of Jake Elwes’ work and have for a while, so did not like his work for his invites show at the Zab. As a lot of artists are doing now, he made some work using neural networks and I found it incredibly trite.
Akin to that was Hito Steyerl’s exhibition Power Plants at Serpentine. The show was truly disappointing, neural networks and AR, a fantastic mix of software that continues to be not so interesting in an art context. I loved the old work, but this is just meh.
Ah I also went to Brighton for a day, finally visiting 650mAh, a gallery in the back of a vape shop, which is just a fantastic premise. Oddly enough, the exhibition, titled 650mAaaah, was vape focused, the first exhibition that they’ve done which is vape focused since they opened. So, both a shame, because it felt like a show that hadn’t been fully realised (lack of press release, etc) but also great, because it was so suited to the venue. It was a show of various vape liquids that a number of artists, Paul Barsch & Tilman Hornig, Débora Delmar, Joey Holder, Lloyd Corporation and 650mAh had produced. So yeah, cool but a tiny bit annoying, although I knew what it was going to be. Either way, it was great to see the space and how easy it is to get there from London, if there’s an exhibition that looks too good to miss.
And finally, the last exhibition that I’ve seen, Anne Imhof’s completely crazy exhibition and performance Sex at Tate Modern. Literally, it was possibly my favourite performance art that I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing, even better than Foust, which I inhabited at Venice in 2017 for about an hour. This, on the other hand, surprisingly, was far more unhinged. I saw members of the audience get dragged out of the exhibition for interrupting the performance, audience members slapped and hit in the face because they didn’t move out of the way fast enough, cans of beer being thrown over audience members, among other things. Towards the end of the 4 hour experience I was truly exhausted and slightly afraid to step, being incredibly aware of where the different performers were at all times, weary of being knocked into or worse. Some of the best moments consisted of a performer pouring multiple bags of sugar over another performers head, wall whipping and angrily running around in circles. Yeah, it was truly fantastic and exhausting to experience.
I think that’s it for shows, next up is films and TV. Beginning with The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which was of course fantastic. Not quite as amazing as the first one, but that is the norm for sequels, we can’t all be Toy Story 2.
Ricky Gervais’ After Life was surprisingly heartfelt and quite beautiful, it felt genuine and honest. Although not a rarity for Gervais, he hasn’t really dealt with a subject matter such as death so directly before. This was good.
Dirty John, a TV show focused on the true story of a man conning a woman through acts of love. It was very addicting and intense, especially as a true story, although ultimately kind of trash. Whilst you’re in it though, it’s fantastic.
Love, Death & Robots, a series of short animations on Netflix, was interesting. Some of them were fantastic and clever, posing questions and bringing new ideas and sci-fi plots to my attention. Others were incredibly misogynistic set pieces, featuring unrealistic depictions as well as nudity for no good reason. A bit hit and miss.
I did watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and it did inspire me to give away some of my clothes and to cut back on a few things, although I already have very few things. I just need to make sure to fold my clothes more often.
Happy Death Day 2U was very knowing and fun.
Ricky Gervais: Humanity was fine.
Game Over, Man! was terrible, I regret everything.
Santa's Little Helpers, a minion short, was of course fantastic. What’s not to love?
Stan & Ollie was both sad and lovely to watch. I haven’t really watched/seen much of Laurel and Hardy, but it still worked as a story and inviting film.
Behind the Curve was both hilarious and worrying all at once.
Unicorn Store was bad.
I don’t think I can play Michael Jackson anymore after watching Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me. Ultimately you should watch it, even if it is extremely oppressive.
A Bronx Tale was okay, although it felt very dated, as old films usually do.
Glass was dumb fun.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post was another that made you laugh whilst simultaneously making you worried that conversion therapy and conversion therapy centres are very real and will fuck you up.
The Perfect Date was fine, quite dumb, a rom com for social media obsessed young people.
The Kid Who Would Be King was, again, not really aimed at adults, but felt like a nice reversion to kids films that are a lovely mixture of PG fun.
I’m not sure if I liked Alien News Desk, an animation where two aliens report on various things that humans do, misjudging everything that they see. Fun for an episode, but the whole series kind of dragged on a little.
Nerdland was fine.
Louis Theroux: The Night in Question, a newish documentary by Theroux focusing on a sexual assault case in the US, was interesting, although slightly flawed. I did like it, and did well to deconstruct the assaulter, his motives, his side of the story, etc, but (as a lot of reviews have noted) it spent a lot of time on him, rather than the victim(s) of sexual assault. Who knows why this decision was made, and as I say his side of the story was deconstructed and ultimately destroyed, but it did feel like he had a little too much screen time. Again, though, that is what people want, two sides of a given story, but still, they didn’t have to give him so much.
Bonding was fun, a TV show about a dominatrix and the assumptions/stereotypes that accompany the occupation.
As a side note, I’ve been really into a new podcast called Business or Pleasure, featuring Cleo and Zuzanna, professional sex workers in Berlin. Obviously a sex worker is different from being a dominatrix but the podcast has definitely given me new and varied perspectives of the industry, the assumptions/stereotypes and the double standards. Either way, great podcast, not that great of a TV show.
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson was okay, most of it wasn’t actually funny, which was disappointing.
Whisper of the Heart was a very lovely Studio Ghibli experience. It’s been a while since I’ve watched one, and it’s always fantastic to return.
Dead to Me was very enjoyable. The basic story is that the main characters husband was killed by a hit and run driver. She then goes to a weekly therapy session, meets another woman and they become friends. Turns out the new friend was the hit and run driver, with distress and hilarity ensuing. Christina Applegate is fantastic.
Tuca & Bertie is a beautiful new animation on Netflix and is a fantastic combination of Broad City and Bojack Horseman. Focused on “two 30-year old bird women who live in the same apartment building”, the show has a lovingly crafted art style, full of tiny details and references, with plot lines concerning sexual harassment in the work place, friendship, alcoholism, death, etc. It’s really good and I would highly recommend it.
Unstoppable: Sean Scully and the Art of Everything was a painful to watch documentary about the famous painter. I was laughing (at him) throughout, high points being when he compared himself to Martin Luther King, Jr and Donald trump whilst riding around in his private jet. It was truly awful.
Pretty Woman was a negative and unrealistic portrayal of sex work. A portrait of its time, although not of how sex work was in the 90s, but how the media portrayed (and continues to portray) it.
Mid90s, on the other hand, was a beautiful slice of 90s skateboarding culture. It felt lovingly crafted (directed by Jonah Hill) and included some amazing performances by professional skateboarders who were first time actors. All very good.
Tiny House Nation is crap, fun TV.
The Twilight Zone, a revamped version of the original TV series, continues to be fun. I do trust Jordan Peele (one of the creators of the show) and his greatness, although I kind of wish that they’d just made it under a different name.
Weird City, another show that’s twilight zone esque with a Jordan Peele stamp, is a little weird. It’s fun and a lot less serious than the new iteration of the zone. I would definitely recommend it, as a light-hearted look at future technologies and social hierarchies.
Wine Country was not so good, great people involved but a humourless comedy.
I managed to make it to the cinema for Pokémon Detective Pikachu, which was a lovingly crafted world with a nice, family friendly plot. If you’re a fan of Pokémon you’ll love it, if not, you’ll still definitely enjoy it. I’d say it’s the best video game film that’s been made so far.
I also started watching the newly rebooted version of Fruits Basket, an anime focusing on a 16 year old girl and her friendship with a family who transforms into different animals.
I think that’s it for films and TV. I also managed to play A Way Out, a video game I’ve had since Christmas. It’s a co-op experience, which can only be played with two people. It’s a split screen game, where each player controls a different character, although the screen changes in shapes and size, depending on what’s happening within the plot. It’s a very well made co-op experience (from the developers of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, a game that made me cry whilst playing) with a fair story.
And that may be it. For now I guess I’m still working on a number of projects, Daata work is going live next month, heading to Venice next month too to see the biennale. More sculptures, planning for The Wrong Biennale, thinking about making a new video, going to more degree shows, swapping more work. Hopefully working more on issue 7, and fitting everything in whilst living and working. Reflecting on where I was a year ago, I think it’s been a great year, full of shows and life changes.