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Archive for March, 2010

At 6:30pm (approximately), a male nude walks through the crowd. Champagne sippers replenish their glasses once more and gather as the artist approaches the stage.

Other Criteria, on Charing Cross Road, was the scene last night for the launch of Fiona Banner’s new book, Performance Nude– and the accompanying ‘performance.’

For half an hour, the model stands in one corner of the platform as the artist applies her candid observations to the surface. But the marks on the dividing plane do not make up your ordinary sort of life drawing. The marks are letters, the figures are words, the sentences, flowing, all culminate in a narrative that is (at times) almost poetic:

“Floor slightly scuffed, feet turned out, toes red…” she begins, as instinct dictates the narrative chain.

As the story progresses, and as she bends lower, eventually kneeling with her neck curved down, it becomes a humorous take on the conventional depiction of figurative gestures:

“…bollocks rest dark in shadow, scribble of pubes, and cock, quiet at the tip, blinking a shadow onto his hairy thigh….”

That said (and novelty aside), it’s hard to watch without that niggling thought rearing its ugly head: is this really art? Without the artist’s oeuvre constantly in the forefront it’s hard to see the display’s artistic merit. Anyone to come without knowledge of Banner’s previous achievements would leave very confused indeed. Her past projects have included sculpture, drawing, performance and film, and since the early ’90s her focus has not strayed far from the tension between private, internal worlds and public spheres. Language- Banner’s “word-scapes”- has remained through this the chosen device. The written word poses problems, but also presents possibilities.

The experience of the show was, on the whole, underwhelming. Perhaps this was because I was caught in a corner at the front- a great view of the artist at work, but with the nude completely blocked by the board. Then again, perhaps this was beneficial in terms of the work’s intentions- I was witness only to the artist’s translation. Was this the real performance?

Performance Nude may not inspire, but Fiona Banner’s Duveens commission at the Tate Britain, to be unveiled on the 28th June, hopefully will. Between you and me, a little birdie has sung high praises of the future installation…

….but that’s another spectacle (and another blog) that you’ll just have to hold out for.

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Alright, so there is no Ode. I am just feeling more poetic in anticipation of the long-awaited Sun. With the Spring in my (no longer booted) step, I have rediscovered an appreciation for the fun, funny, and downright silly. Art and design at its most light-hearted (“light-arted,” you could call it). Here a few from the last few days:

Jessica Atkinson’s ‘Lonely Glasses’ have not yet been swept up by highstreet stockists, but they ought to be. By Summer-time, you mark my words, everyone will be donning a pair.

Little People is a tiny street art blog.

“Little people, left in London to fend for themselves.”

How cruel, and yet how wonderful!

My favourite is the little man sailing in the milk puddle-

I would like to put him in my pocket:

Urban Screen’s 555 Kubik at the Hamburger Kunsthalle takes on the title, “How would it be, if a house was dreaming?” Dissolving the strict architecture, the story is re-narrated through the aesthetics of graphics and movement. The building beats and breaths, musing on itself and drawing you into its self-perception. Check. It. Out.

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If you are really after a poem, here is one of my favourites, by one of my favourites. Frank O’Hara brought a refreshing spontaneity to poetry to a culture bogged down by the staid Modernism of T.S. Eliot, E.E. Cummings and Ezra Pound. O’Hara made moving verse out of the conversational or delirious at once.

A True Account Of Talking To The Sun At Fire Island

by Frank O’Hara

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