WHAT I SAW LAST WEEK: 10th July
i have had yet another lovely beautiful week! what a joy! they just keep getting better & better and i just keep being the luckiest girl in the whole entire world – to get to do my favourite thing in in the world (nosing around, seeing what’s going on) & call it a job – sooo jammy, so cheeky, so LUCKY! lucky me! lucky you too bc i am gona tell you all about what i nosed around last week.
- Athen & Nina: Sleepover @ Glasshouse
i managed to catch this show in the hour before closing on the last day !!! by the skin of myyyy teeeeeef 🦷
Glasshouse is a lil room at the back of Gathering, that new-ish gallery in Soho (i need to narrow it down, that describes like every gallery in Soho lmao). while the main exhibition space houses more established names – their first show was with Tai Shani, i reviewed it last year i think Glasshouse is their lil test space project space for newer younger less established names, which – good. always keen to see that level of activity in zone 1!
i have a bit of a predicament about this show. i want to review it, i hve endless fascination and interest in the two artists, their work and the output of their collaboration. but i have a piece of information about the gallery (Gathering) it’s founder & funding. i need to figure out what to do and how to handle the information. because i don’t think it’s fair to process the artists' work alongside the separate issue of The Information. maybe i need to write a boilerplate or like a primer separate to the review, maybe i need to not write a review at all. i don’t know yet. i will figure it out! but this was a really lovely show and i have so many thoughts about it.
- Rana Begum’s flags on Piccadilly
idk, i saw these on instagram before i saw them irl. i can’t lie, i rly like rana’s work, enjoy her as an artist – good, great! BUT unfortunately, i do not see the point in printing art out and hanging in the street like this. and i wana talk thru my immediate recoil from this bc i think it’s instructive.
i love and appreciate the work of art on the underground. art on the underground feels like a good model of art in public life that really actually works quite well. It executes rly well the aim of inserting art into banal places of transit, making tube stations beautiful, interesting, it inserts the potential for delight into something as unassuming as a tube journey from point A to B.
but piccadilly is a v diff place w a diff vibe to a bog standard tube platform. for one, the architecture is wildly on a completely diff scale. its the west end, highly financialised, the kind of public space that really only functions smoothly and seamlessly if you’re spending money. so it is public space that has a vibe. i’m always wary of the way art is deployed in places like that, in parts of the city that has that vibe. i’ve kinda said it mostly in my review of the Marble Arch Mound (which i genuinely still think is one of the best pieces of criticism i’ve ever written lmaooo).
i think (i know for a fact) i would feel differently if i saw these exact same flags in the exact same position down like… west green road, green lanes, even kingsland road. i enjoy art that makes public spaces beautiful. and i’m not saying art doesn’t belong in public in central london! I’m just saying the kind of motives and forces that put art in central london give me the ick. and i wish that kind of cultural investment was as frequently bestowed on less profitable or financialised public spaces.
love u rana begum. dyou see what i mean about artists getting caught in the crossfire tho!
- TURPS LEAVERS SHOW 2023
in a way, this closed out degree show season for me! the Turps studio programme is really interesting to me because it’s artist-led, painting specific and — it’s just a really interesting decentralised artist educational model. if anyone who runs it is willing to chat, i have a million and one quesstions for u. leme quiz ya, promise i’ll be nice.
but i saw lots of really nice paintings – as promised on ig stories, here are the full version of my highlights – obvs not every artist or every work shown, just the ones that appealed to my particular and personal taste.
- Jonah Pontzer: Fresh Hell @ Rose Easton
the rest of my friday gallery day was out east – popped into rose easton and – i am always so charmed and delighted by the way they always do the floor. it is soooo underrated, but it changes the feel of the entire space. makes it feel like you’re stepping into a little pocket universe that’s full of art, all cut off and cuddled in. i really like it!
the paintings were soo plasticky – like this film over a wood and you could see the grain peeking through, like the image was just laid flat over top and could stretch out over the lumps and bumps. it was really delightful – i couldn’t figure out how it was done, because it was opaque, textured, taut, kinda milky. they were all hung way above my eye level, tilting down on little fold out windows – i really liked that as a presentational method too. something nice about craning your neck, peering up at a weird image.
- Myrid Carten: Preta Act 2 @ mothers tankstation
i wasn’t really sure what i walked into. the show was this austere, focused thing. there were 2 films, the only things in the room was 1 screen, 3 chairs. i entered halfway through the long one – sorrow had a baby. i couldn’t find my footing, looked at the press release and it was so long. i skimmed it and saw the word anorexic – felt myself reel and wriggle like ‘omg, i should leave’ but it was just the word. i couldn’t figure out how it fit in, felt like i shouldn’t be engaging with anything near that but it also wasn’t there when i was watching. the shorter film was more enjoyable because it pulsated. this pounding kind of cinema. rapid beating heart and pace and at times slow, languid, but the bits i remember were like they were keeping a heightened tempo. i don’t know. i just felt like i was there but not really there and i can’t tell if that was the art’s fault or mine. just wasn’t in the mood and wasn’t feeling it. apologies to the artist.
- Narumi Nekpenekpen: where you fit in my palm @ Soft Opening
beautiful sculptures, kinda kitsch in their sentimentality, kinda ugly in their handmadeness – but only ugly because if they were beautiful then they wouldn’t be as crunchy or interesting. their ugliness is a kind of virtue, a way around the pressure of objecthood. heart shaped plinth to make it all sweet but heart shaped plinth to make it glossy, snide, stylish. i thought this show was clever. it stretched the limit of my taste in the sense that – it made me wonder why i (we, you) desire beautiful things when ugly things are much more interesting actually actually (non-derogatory).
- Asteroid City
ok first of all, went to see this at the Hoxton Curzon?? i haven’t been to a cinema properly in a while (excuse me, i am BUSY and netflix is FREE – for me at least bc i am a parasite sponging off my little sister). no one told me cinemas look like that nowadays? had the vibe of a city centre hotel lobby. all marble and matte black fittings, they did COCKTAILS. COCKTAILS. the popcorn was tiny. the seats RECLINED. no one make fun of my childlike wonder, this is truly news to me.
but yeah, i have complicated confusion about this film! i love wes anderson unironically and i think that’s cheugy but i actually don’t care. he does a very niche and recognisable thing exceptionally well and maybe it has become so stylistically recognisable that its almost banal, almost a trope (it is a trope) but i think he leans in sooo far that that’s just like – wes anderson does the most wes andersonest wes anderson – you know what i mean? and like part of me feels embarassed by the 00s indie hipster tweeness, but i think there is a potential for delight in almost every small or slight moment that means it SURPASSES the one hit note of: TWEE.
so like, loved the wes anderson-ness of it. loved the wild wild west wes anderson (because i am fascinated and delighted, i experience real actual emotion at the idea of the wild wild west. maybe in another life i would’ve been an actual cowboy trotting through the saloon doors, shooting the sheriff and lasooing squealing pigs etc). i also really really like the way fiction is placed in a fictional container and literary form is used as a narrative device to drive the plot forward almost against its own will or at a pace not entirely of its own – he has done it before: Grand Budapest Hotel told through novel or memoir (? can’t remember), the french dispatch told through anthology/magazine. Asteroid City is a play that is being played out in front of us and written in front of us and also being filmed in front of us - cool. good w me. groovy and i didn’t get lost, in fact it was relatively smooooooooth sailing until the third act.
i can’t remember if i mentioned this in last week’s entry, but i have been hauling myself over a couple of bad book encounters. atm i am reading into the woods by John Yorke – it’s a rare non-ficiton moment for me, fiction-enthusiast – about the theory behind storytelling and narrative structure. i’m learning a lot about format and literal structure, how stories are composed, what narrative closure means, how to acheive it. i don’t know if it’s useful in the sense that i would use it instructively, but it is interesting bc it’s giving me new vocab and new tools to grapple w the stories i encounter, to think about them in a more zoomed out and functional way. like now i can look at the plumbing and figure out what it all means.
but yea, didn’t find myself satisfied by the third act, didn’t get resolution or closure. i think that’s ok. i liked the alien, i found whimsy and delight in many many little moments that i almost didn’t care about the grand narrative arc. donnnn’t get me wrong, i still liked the whole schtick of using literary form as narrative device – i think it’s clever, interesting, a compelling way to go about telling a story. it makes it slippery – its the kinda itchy cinema i rly get off on, the only kind i rly get off on tbh. but i liked the french dispatch, grand budapest more as successful attempts at that. so my fav wes anderson films are still literally all the others. but it was cute! wild wild west. i’d still go see it if i had to make the choice again bc it’s a cute lil date night and i like popcorn and moments of aesthetic wonder and marvel.
(i don’t wana give away the content of the film, noooo spoilers, but someone sent me this review n it’s an interesting post-film read!)
- read this essay from ages ago about roger federer, by david foster wallace
my boyfriend is very keen to capitalise on my new interest in tennis, and by sending me this essay he is trying to give me the hard sell. it’s working. i hate that it’s working. it’s annoying that he knows how to get me like – i wish i was more mysterious. how dare he? anyway. apparently this essay is a foundational piece of tennis writing – whatever that means. i enjoyed it! i just love reading other writers who are good at writing. i can be made to care about almost anything.
i might j go full on sicko mode and read infinite jest. would u all still be my friends if i spent a year reading infinite jest? would u still tolerate me? i keep talking about infinite jest, i should just read infinite jest. like it’s on the brain. i’m going to read infinite jest!!!
- ANOTHER new gallery!
the bakery! in islington/camden passage! their website says they’re artist-run, a co-op – it looks like an intersting model and i can’t quite tell how it’s working? like is it a bunch of artists going quids in to organise their own continual exhibitions? is it a secret pay-to-play deal? how much they payin for the space, leme innn i wana ask a couple questions plsss i’m sooooo nosy.
anyway – i bumbled in at the weekend by accident, it’s right next to buns from home, a lil actual bakery (not an art gallery) that me n my fella are literally OBSESSED with – such good cinnamon buns!!!! i liked the paintings by Audrey Rapier – they were really really sweet. i think that sweetness is a beautiful, admirable quality. i wish i had more money, i’d have bought one!
- went to a comedy night
this one! & had a coupla laffs! it’s interesting – i feel like atm i am very very aware of how good comedy is just actually good writing. a laugh can be written into existence. i was laughing along and really paying attention to the words people said, how they told the joke, the way laughs were structured in. bc this was a small night, £3 tickets (!!) people i’ve never heard of etc – it was a bit hit n miss. no offence, i think a lot of it was new material people were trying out. and it was INTERESTING! to see what landed and what didn’t.
i think it’s just interesting! a couple years ago i really thought stand up comedy was like – the bleakest art form, where actual funniness goes to die. but i think that’s just the live at the apollo-ification of stand up. rly love stewart lee and think about the way he goes about writing and story telling all the time. i think he does a similar thing to wes anderson where he puts ficiton into a fiction into a fictional coating and sends this layered object rolling out into the world and you’re like encountering it!!! like WWOAHHH. soooo crunchy, clever, fascinating. it makes me want to unpeel it all like a great big roll of tape. fascinating. would keep me endlessly occupied. anyway. more for the refueling restocking refill container that is my great big critic’s brain!!!
if you have made it this far, honestly congratulations! i really enjoy writing these blog posts bc they are part journal notebook and part writing exercise. it’s nice to spend the best part of my monday afternoons sitting still and thinking about anything everything, translating all that into words and formulating opinions in a more casual way. but they are unweildy. i kinda don’t care. this is MY DIARY! get OUT! (goodbye, love u, kiss kiss be good and catch u next week for another week in myyyyyyy life)