Alien Invasion of East Village

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How am I supposed to process the latest arrival at East Village. I already feel unnerved by the looming presence of the monolithic blocks – this Mega City One in its infancy then these ‘things’ appear over night like something from an episode of Doctor Who – apparently benign and cheerful but containing an underlying threat of some terrible robot death.

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It seems I am not alone in my fear of this place – whoever was commissioned to create what I suspect is possibly ‘public art’ had a similar reaction.

Poor Door Street Art

Penny Gaff

“V.I.P. Ben – From aristocratic stock. He has no regrets.
Skid Row, Los Angeles, CA 
Oct. 2013″

I received an email from artist Penny Gaff in response to my Trews Report on the Poor Doors at No.1 Commercial Street about her V.I.P project from 2013 that “explores the idea that everyone is V.I.P.”

The project is a series of photos “featuring homeless folk  surrounded by red rope and gold stanchions” shot around South Central Los Angeles. They’re really powerful images that subvert the everyday image of homelessness.

Have a look at the rest of the series on Penny’s website (scroll horizontally)

 

Art Party Conference – Scarborough

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Headed up to Scarborough at the weekend for the inaugural Art Party Conference organised by Bob and Roberta Smith and Crescent Arts.

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I’ve been to Labour Party Conference a few times and performed my satirical comedy show The Soapbox Cabaret on two occasions – but as soon as I stepped inside the Spa at Scarborough it was apparent that the Art Party Conference would be a world away from the murky world of block votes and corporate lobbying.

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The target was clear – Tory hateboy Michael Gove, the man with a mission to remove art from education, and erase the cultural memory of the nation. Where Thatcher was the ‘milk snatcher’ Gove is the ‘crayon grabber’.

Bob and Roberta Smith read out his impassioned letter to Michael Gove making the case for the importance of art in education.

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Artists had come from far and wide to rally to the cause, show their work and generally have a bit of a laugh in the bracing North Yorkshire air. I was there to present my documentary about Bob – Make Your Own Damn Art, a film that focuses on the humorous polemical campaigning heart of Bob’s work.

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Jessica Voorsanger as Salvador Dali

There was a great programme of films shown in the splendour of the Spa Theatre, a space more accustomed to vaudeville than artist film and video. Amongst the films there was Cornelia Parker’s Chomskian Abstract, Ian Bourn’s zen meditation on the cockney staple Black, Green and White – the way of the pie, and a John Smith programme that featured the world premiere of another of his hotel diary films, Demo Tape, as well as classics such as OM and Gargantuan.

Apparently Michael Gove was seen walking out into the sea the next day in his pants before disappearing beneath the waves.

 

 

Nook

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The Leytonstone Centre for Contemporary Art finally has a rival – artist Lizzie Hughes’ ‘occasional project space’ Nook.
I went along on Sunday to have a gander at the inaugural show – Constellations, featuring the work of Ian Bourn, Matt Hale, Robert Ellis, and Pat Naldi and I spent more time in the Tardis-like gallery than I have in many of the rooms at Tate Modern.
Leytonstone may yet reclaim its place as London’s Left Bank.

Opening times and info about Nook here

Reframing Maidstone

I’ve just started working on a new project with Cathy, my sister, down in Maidstone. Reframing Maidstone (Video Mapping) is a event that is part of Architecture Week 2007. We’ve been commissioned to produce a project that highlights hidden aspects of the town. The project will use film and video images to instigate an exploration of the town centre – a kind of cinematic psychogeography, a kino-derive.

It’s very interesting what is happening in Maidstone. Louise Francis and Laura Knight (Art at the Centre Project Officers) are researching the feasibility of establishing an ‘Artists Quarter’ within the Maidstone town centre by: identifying potential artist studio space; raising the profile of the area through temporary art installations, street entertainment and a creative marketing campaign. It’s a really bold and ambitious plan in town that isn’t really looking for arts-led regeneration (in the way that Folkstone is) but seems to be doing it for arts’ sake and the potential benefits for the feel of the place, the genus loci.

We’ll be instigating a number of derives with local people and will mixing up the methods: algorithmic, constrained walks, “sauntering as Charles II, Richard Jefferies, W.H. Hudson, and Edward Thomas sauntered” etc. Then the central event will take place on 16th and 23rd June.

email reframingmaidstone@googlemail.com for updates and information.

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