Euro Art Happening on the beach at Ramsgate

The other Sunday I took a ride down to Ramsgate to film Bob and Roberta Smith’s EU Referendum inspired art happening on the beach in Ramsgate. Bob installed a large painting on legs in the channel with France behind in the distance – the work baring the statement WE HAVE ONLY GOT EACH OTHER – a phrase used by Bob’s 92-year old mother when they discussed the forthcoming referendum on EU membership.

 

“No recession of the imagination” – March Against Austerity

The atmosphere at March Against Austerity was positive and enthusiastic – laughing into the gaping jaws of Tory Austerity. I went along with Bob and Roberta Smith with his brilliant ‘Art For All’ painted placard. We soon wound through the crowds assembled outside the Bank of England to find the Arts Emergency bloc where comedian Josie Long supported one end of a banner. Actor Samuel West came over to say a few words, and Green Party Councillor and potential Mayoral candidate Caroline Russell gave a great interview, declaring that “Austerity is economically illiterate’.

 

Psychogeographical intervention in the General Election

With the General Election looming it seems an apt time to post this video of an psychogeographical intervention I was invited to stage by artist Bob and Roberta Smith in Michael Gove’s Surrey Heath constituency where Bob is challenging him on May 7th.

Employing an algorithmic derive seemed like a good way to unlock hidden aspects of the principle town in the constituency – Camberley. The Situationists had developed the derive as a form of reconnaissance mission for the eventual transformation of everyday life – in this case it would be launching Bob’s election campaign.

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The algorithm (above) that we used, and the overall idea of algorithmic or Generative Psychogeography was developed by Dutch artists Social Fiction who experimented with the process over the Summer of 2001. I’d used these in a psychogeographical remapping of High Wycombe working with my sister throughout 2004-05 to great effect. What would happen in Surrey Heath?

In their essay, Algorithmic Noise as Free Culture: The Hot Summer of Generative Psychogeography 2002, Social Fiction write of the experience, “Participation in a generative psychogeographical experiment forces you to adopt the characteristics of a machine, you are pushed through streets like an object in almost closed loops which are connected by sudden rushes straight forward.”

Camberley

As the algorithm took us into a series of carparks linked by flytipped alleyways this prediction appeared to be borne out – Camberley was perhaps a perfect ‘generator’ of psychogeography.

The process does come with the warning that, “the algorithm which should be able to produce a walk without navigational friction repeatedly produces more confusion than certainty: the algorithm becomes chaos.” Which certainly seemed to be the case as we crossed and re-crossed roads, and skirted a multi-storey carpark that Bob sketched.

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I had stated that we would follow the algorithm for exactly one hour. Our final turn took us off the main road opposite Sandhurst Military Academy and into the carpark behind Argos. And there at the very end of the derive, dead on 1 hour of walking, we found ourselves outside Camberley’s one and only Art Shop. From the chaos the algorithm had produced the perfect conclusion to the exercise.

Vote Bob for More Art

Leytonstone Centre for Contemporary Art

Leytonstone Centre for Contemporary Art - a short documentary from fugueur on Vimeo.

Here’s a short documentary I made about the Leytonstone Centre for Contemporary Art – a shed in Bob and Roberta Smith’s garden with an international reputation.

Ultimately several replica LCCAs were made and spread all around Europe (one was at the Serpentine), some were burnt, broken up etc, I think one still survives up in Warwick. I went to Brooklyn to interview the first artist to show at the gallery who then set up his own space which has become a huge success.
My fascination with the shed round the corner from my house was the reason I made the feature documentary about Bob which is screening at the ICA on 26th August.

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.