Episode 14: REVISITED: THE ULTIMATE WHITE PUBE REVIEW
Download transcript here or read below.
We revisit the ultimate White Pube review: a 2016 text Gab wrote about Jesse Darling's show, The Great Near, at Arcadia Missa.
Speakers: Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad
Jingle by Toynoiz
GDLP - Hello and welcome to the latest episode of The White Pube podcast. My name is Gabrielle de la Puente…
ZM -…and I’m Zarina Muhammad.
…and we are back for our first major podcast of 2023. Hello, hope you are OK. Today’s episode is going to be a Revisited. So, The White Pube’s been knocking round for quite some time at this point, we started writing about art in 2015 and it means that we have this embarrassing archive of stuff that is literally on the internet for everyone to laugh at. But we want to laugh with you, so… we’ve chosen a text from 2016 and we’re going to re-read it today. Dont judge me! I mean, judge me, but, like…
…listen. There’s no excusing it. First of all, I think it’s good, we’re jumping the gun. I think it’s good, I love this text, but when you sent 2015 and 2016 something inside me felt deeply ill.
Yeah. It’s 2023! Blurgh!
That’s a long time ago. We graduated in 2016! Which is actually disgusting, when you think about it. We’re aged.
We are mature art writers. Anyway, so, we are going to be re-reading a text which was a review of an exhibition by the artist Jesse Darling and it was in Arcadia Missa when it was back in South London in one of the railway arches, and that’s all I’m going to say. OK. Don’t laugh at me.
I remember a party last year where I was justttt not having it. A friend turned to ask if I was okay and it wasn’t that I was upset about anything, but I wasn’t happy either. I said, ’I’m comme ci comme ca.’ And it was the most focused stability, this stiff middle-ground, as I was stuck amongst chatty people and coke and depressants and music, present and quiet. I really didn’t want to speak to anyone, or to myself. I didn’t need to.
I didn’t like The Great Near but I didn’t dislike it either. I was near ^ and okay, even as my body shifted awkward through this soft apocalyptic fantasy set. I didn’t have to speak again, I was just fine with the decisions and arrangement, that particular and insular rationale of ingredients and appendage. Fine going about witnessing formula (and wanting a better word than formula. It’s what I want the 🔶 emoji to mean, the insideness of the person, what they bring, what they lean into), while the friends I went with thought the three gatekeeper sculpture-bodies were ominous and the train over Arcadia Missa was music, intermittent and aggressive. I missed that reaction. I was levelled, even as I recognised upset in the pieces; in the crutch-protrusion, the burny-burny-skin-skin, the wood off-cut supports, the poking horse heads. I thought that maybe it was a good thing that I’d missed affect completely, my aloof satisfaction safe, okay. I haven’t made my mind up about this ambivalence yet. I don’t know what I want. Like, I know my body, how after I’ve been sick, I’ll play it safe and have a piece of toast when really I want orange juice and lasagne, even if I suspect I’ll throw it back up. Kind of a drag, inoffensive, safe, present and quiet, I think. This exhibition is like a stomach settling.
(deep breath) … The End. Super-fast, two paragraphs, a review, early days. What happened next was that we got a tweet about the text from the artist who I was writing about, which was quite unusual - we had 100 followers on twitter, and we were just writing into the ether, loudly. Shouting, banging a pan into a cave or something. So it was kind of amazing that an echo came back out and it was the artist who tweeted…
I know it off by heart. This is my time to shine… not facetious or ironic, this might be the harshest, most true review because the White Pube channel somatic currents, not just fucking with discourse.
Yeah. So, let’s break that down, for a second. We starting writing about art because we thought that the way essentially newspaper critics approached art was like, fucking boring and irrelevant and just like, safe to the point of being pointless. Because all they would do is describe what was in the room, three stars and I’m out. We thought that it would be fun for us to try to write about art in a different way, a way that said something. What that was, or how it was, we didn’t really know at this point, it was only five-ish months before we published this review that I’ve just read out. So we were in that kind of really amazing stage in creating something where you don’t know what it is yet, and I think that was one of the most surprising things that I discovered in the process of doing a fine art degree, because we were third years at the time. Sometimes you make something and it’s like - where the fuck did this come from, and what is it?
What’s it doing in the world, where’s it going?
Yeah, because it’s come from you, and maybe there is a way to attach words to that. But sometimes it would take making the thing absolutely without consciousness, and then having a crit or a tutorial or a chat with someone else in the studio, in order to decipher it and work out if there was any fucking point to it. We, both of us, early days, didn’t necessarily see The White Pube as applying to that same logic.
Yeah, we didn’t see it as work.
We thought art was art and writing was writing. It wasn’t until the artist tweeted that, that I stopped and thought oh my god, yeah, maybe we have been needing this strange outsider perspective in order to show us what the fuck we’ve been doing. That’s kind of important that it came from an artist, because they were the people… they had become the subject of our art. When you’re making your art in your studio maybe you are the subject, or the subject is this thing that doesn’t exist. It was important for us to realise that one, we were responding to a real living human being, and two, to hear back from that person about the effect that we’d had on them. Because this isn’t a good review. I’m not saying this is like, the best thing I’ve ever seen and it’s changed my life and these are all the ways that I found value in the artwork, and also I recommend that you go and see it… I’m not saying any of that. I’m saying, this made me feel completely blank. So…
Yeah. And actually, that ambivalence - that’s the word you use - that ambivalence, for me, is why this review, it doesn’t matter how far we move or how many years down the line we get from it, this is, in my mind, the White Pubiest White Pube review. In the same way you say these newspaper critics don’t talk about anything beyond the description of the room, so did like, the critics in low key Art Review and all these journals that our tutors would recommend we read and we never would. That’s the point that all criticism moves from, right? The critic has something to say, it’s an opinion. And you were just like, it’s left me blank. Ambivalence. That’s honest!
Yeah, what I like about this review is its speed, and how little I worry about the reader, in the process of putting it together. What I’m doing IRL on Monday 23rd January is panicking about a review I’ve got to write this week, a review of a video game called God Of War: Ragnarok, which is a huge title that has come at the end of 1 million games in a series, and I have to make a decision about whether I’m going to write for people who’ve played it, people who haven’t played it, write for people who’ve played it and got to the end and are OK with spoilers, or write for art people who don’t even own PlayStations. It is this new, stressful audience size that has made me super self-conscious. Sometimes that isn’t stressful, it becomes like, a really nice puzzle to figure out what the answer so that is and how I want to speak, but back then I wasn’t thinking about any of that and I wasn’t thinking about whether someone had or hadn’t been to the exhibition. Maybe I was thinking about the artist, if anyone? Because the artist knows and I don’t have to describe too much about what’s in the room and I’m just offering that reaction, and that’s it. But even that… I don’t know, I’m looking at it, two paragraphs, and thinking - fucking hell, I don’t have the balls to do that anymore.
What, just the brevity, the lack of explanation?
Yeah, now our texts are like 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,000 words… and this is probably like, 300. There’s something happened, as the audience got bigger, I felt the need to give people more in return. When we got a Patreon account and a few hundred supporters, it’s now around 700, if those people are giving us money month on month, even a pound, I think - I’ve got to give them their money’s worth, I’ve got to write 6,000 words! Actually, some of those 6,000 word essays I’ve written are not as successful or effective as this.
I think it’s more than just length as well, because we’ve got to give them their money’s worth not just in terms of the length of the content we’re putting out, I want to take time to explain because not everyone will have seen the show, or know the artist, or even seen Instagram photos, the install shots. We’ve got to cover our bases now, haven’t we? This is what it looks like, this is the room, the vibe, the journey, the lead up, the mood I was in entering the room, that’s why I think this in relation to these paintings or whatever… I want to explain a wider, the radius of the circle has expanded beyond me, myself and the artist. I need to explain, I need to cover more ground in my explanations. Do you feel that way?
So everyone can be involved.
And can read from the beginning to the end of the text and stay on track. I feel that way, I also feel reminded of the fact that between that 2016 point and where we are now, we’ve had many interactions with readers, some good, some terrifying and many in the middle that were just, oh, here’s a question that I had for you about the text. When I’m writing I’m trying to predict what those questions could be and answer them before it’s even published. Not so that I shut off any conversation but so that person is provided for. There’s some generosity in the more recent length of the texts but also a little bit of fear. We always talk about it between us as trying to make a text watertight, like, I don’t want any major leaks. Now it means that I try to start writing a text as early as possible so that I’ve got enough run-in time to stop, think and zoom out, where the leaks might be. When you’re up close to a computer screen all day sometimes you just can’t tell what you’re missing. But in contrast, I didn’t do that for this. For this exhibition review that we read at the beginning of the podcast, I wrote it so fast. Probably took half an hour to edit it, and then I was like yep, cool, whatever. It’s just making me reflect on the sheer difference in the approach and maybe there’s something to be reminded of in the posts like this, so we can bring it back a little bit. A little bit?
Maybe it’s not bringing it back like a regressive move, maybe it’s bringing it back like, always having the same anchor point that you return to, no matter how far you move over in one direction. There’s still an internal compass of what you’re trying to do.
I think the anchor in the middle of it is that Jesse Darling tweet, and maybe we should very quickly break down what it actually meant from our end, because we kind of skipped over it. So go on, repeat it, from memory. Do the trick.
Not facetious or ironic, this might be the harshest, most true review because the White Pube channel somatic currents, not just fucking with discourse.
The second part of that is saying that we are writing from the body, somatic meaning relating to the body, so rather than us fucking with discourse, relying on theory and art history and just like, the general contemporary trends in philosophy - we’re so turned away from it and looking in ourselves and at the physical reaction that we had in the process of encountering an artwork. That is what feels true, the word true in that tweet - I really have taken that to heart, and come to feel that there is some kind of performativity in everybody else’s objective approach to critical writing, whether it’s food writing or art or whatever. I am the most important critic in the world and you’d better agree with what I say because it’s important, I’m important, and what I say is true. Like, I don’t think that’s true just because you say it is, I think our approach of like - what happened to me when I went into this show? I know that is true, that is what happened, I felt that way. So if I just put that out of myself and onto paper that feels more on a level, and there isn’t too big a performativity that comes along with it, because I’m pulling something from inside myself and giving it to the artist or the reader. I love that. I think yeah, now when I’m struggling to write something, I just have to stop and think well, how did I actually feel in that moment? Yesterday I was out for Chinese New Year celebrations in Liverpool and they have kung-fu schools out on the street doing the Lion Dance and it’s really exciting, there’s super loud firecrackers and smoke. I was stood really far away, I was having to hold my phone up and zoom in fully on my phone to be able to see what was happening. So like, when the moment hit that the firecrackers went off and all the smoke went into the air, I missed the reaction of it because I was arms up, tired, on my tiptoes, trying to see it through my phone. I just felt like, what? Something’s getting in the way of that moment. I’m never going to write about that moment and I never thought I’d mention it on the podcast the next day. Just the physical angle that I had to put my body at to see something happening really far away, made it pass me by in a way where if I was up close I would feel really rocked by it, and really stunned and amazed, I could smell the smoke and see the flashing lights and I’d be able to see how close the performers were to the fire. Things like that, so, there’s just something about the methodology of channeling somatic currents that I love, I love it. It’s with me all the time now. It’s huge.
As an example I think that’s really good because so many people in academia or the arts, so many people that make up the discourse, they have this shorthand for this way of writing, channeling somatic currents… it can be really cerebral as a thing, what you’re trying to do. It can be manufactured… not manufactured, but intentional, right? Most people do it and they call it, addressing positionality or positionality. Every time I’ve heard that word, like oh, acknowledging the subject’s positionality? I’m like, what the fuck does that mean! Are you fucking crazy! I think that, as an example, it makes it spatial, right?
It’s literally about your position in the crowd, and that, I feel like my brain is getting hot just thinking about this. Your position in the world, in a room, as you enter the gallery. What does your position feel like spatially and emotionally? And in other ways?
The fact that can apply to disability is also so interesting to me now, even more than it was in 2015/6. Stood there, trying to strain to see the Chinese New Year performances - I was dizzy, I was really hungry and nauseous because I was so hungry, I was aware of my energy and thinking - I’m going to have to go and find a seat soon, maybe I shouldn’t actually wait for the finale, because is it worth me feeling this rocky just to hold on to see some loud bangs? Or is it more important that I physically feel comfortable somewhere else… actually weighing up which one is more important to me is now how I approach galleries in general. The other day I went on a pure marathon around Liverpool, going to like, Tate, Bluecoat, FACT, and then the Bridewell to see an exhibition, and it was 9,000 steps or something crazy. There’s a constant assessment of - is it worth it? At times it felt worth it because art was able to put me into such a loopy space that I felt yeah, like, the world was slippy because I’d seen all this strange abstract art. But other times it isn’t, the art on the wall is not worth feeling dizzy for. That is making me want to write about art again, after writing about games for a year or two, to re-assess that positionality - the spatial and the physical, can the art stand up to it? It’s so much effort to leave the house! Not just for me but for everyone - travel, everything is terrible and it costs money to go outside.
Fucking, have at it. I am thrilled, getting really close to I’m-so-excited, because I’ve been wanting you to return to art now with, I don’t know, having been through- writing about games has readjusted or recalibrated your aesthetic compass or the compass of your expectations as you’re walking into a gallery. I think you’d have like a completely different set of expectations and criticisms to air with an artist or with a gallery or with an audience even - it gives you such an interesting angle, so I’m fucking jazzed for that.
Can I ask a question, because I actually wonder about this when you do it. We whip this out in every lecture that we do and every time it’s a little bit different, or you edit live and direct in the moment, in the lecture hall or on Zoom. I want to ask about the logic behind that, first of all, why do you edit? Second of all, what do you find yourself changing, or wanting to change?
That’s a good question, I do live edit this, so I’m always just reading it on my phone so the audience can’t see what I’m changing and I can get away with it. I edit it because there are certain words in certain places that I don’t like, or especially words that are repeated too many times and I don’t like the repetition. I’d rather put different things there or cut a sentence completely, because it feels a bit lazy or something, not imaginative enough or something.
Yeah, even the fact that I just said “or something” twice. It just wasn’t tight enough in the original version. I also add a detail at the beginning, so I say I remember a party where I was just not having it… and then I say, because I’d taken MDMA. Which is a huge part of it, that I’m surprised I didn’t put in the original, and there’s a regret there because in terms of responding to the way your body feels, it’s worth putting the explanation as to why your body feels that way, in the thing.
It’s weirdly prudish of you, to not have mentioned it in the text.
Yeah!!! I don’t know why, honestly I don’t know why I didn’t do it. So it was a house party in my flat, the one on Caledonian Road that I used to live in at the end of university. I’d had MDMA before, but it was always a much more energetic reaction and kind of like, just excitable and wow, the lights, the colours, how good does this music feel, super positive, nice, up reaction. Then, maybe it wasn’t even MDMA, maybe I’d been given something else, but it felt like the party around me came so close to boring. I just wasn’t interested in it. Which is why when I came to the exhibition that came back to mind, because it was such an interesting, weird evening. I had been enjoying the party and been chatting to people, playing music, taking fun pictures, everyone was dolled up, it was a real fun house party. Then post taking illegal substances, it was so fucking like, what’s the point? Not in an existential way, it felt really physical and like everything had just come to a standstill. I don’t know what it was or why it happened, it was like, I just want this to be over done, because I’m done. Then when I went to the show I felt similar. Part of me also, since writing this, has been- when things like that happen, if you take something and you feel this particularly interesting state - if your body is able to add a new state to its experiences…
Yeah, it’s worth keeping those in mind because maybe they can be referenced in order to make a cultural review way more, er…
Are you trying to make a case that this molly was tax-deductible?
No, no! In terms of justifying how we feel about a cultural object in reviews, and those texts getting like, bigger and bigger and more intricate, part of the reason for that is, I just want to make sure people know where I’m coming from. I want them to know my compass points for good and bad. We’re never in each other’s bodies in that way, to know how we each react to certain stimulus. I want to be able to put that kind of biological description into a text, or a psychological background, whatever it is. Just so someone understands the truth of it to me. Does that make sense? That’s what happened here.
Bear with me on this one… I’ve been thinking about, years and years ago, we went to Dublin to teach a day on a summer school with Morgan Quaintance. He was presenting this text that someone else had written entirely and it was really plain, not in a bad way, just sparse, direct, plain language, one simile to describe a really grotesque thing that was happening in and around this thing. The way everyone spoke about it, I was listening but not really thinking too much, a passive observer, ear on the wall. Everyone spoke about it like, this plain language, the lack of adornment within the text, it’s very matter of fact, this is how people are moving and behaving and then the simile hits… sometimes using a simile is like, you want it to be there, on the button, describing. I was thinking about this recently because my reaction at the time was like, oh shit! I have never realised, I use similes all the time - it’s just the way that the feeling comes out. Because, I thought this at the time and I’ve not been able to kick it out of my mind since - I think, you know those videos on Instagram of people shaving soap, visual ASMR? Slowly you chip away at this shape and it’s soothing. That’s what the similes do, it slims down the area and takes away… by describing how it feels in one way, another way, a third way a fourth, fifth way, you get closer to the actual feeling itself. If you don’t know what this exhibition felt like for me, let me give you a couple of examples and maybe we can locate the common overlap on that venn diagram.
Each one is like a foothold for the person, yeah.
Yes! I don’t know if there’s something about… maybe someone cleverer than me would have a really good thing to say about similes and parallels and finding a likeness, commonality. They’d have a good reference, a sentence to sum it up in. If you’re that clever person, please let us know. Because I think out of all the things we’ve said today, that’s the one that I really wonder about, because not just in this text, in so many other of your texts and my texts we between us have a shared language of this is what it felt like.
I wonder what that does, I think that’s the next thing. Seven years in, we’ve got to figure out what that thing does. Is that just relationality, relatability, relating?
I don’t know, you’re losing me a bit.
I’m losing myself!
I was thinking a little bit about parasocial relationships when you were speaking and how we can’t be known from any one of these texts but over the course of seven years, if someone has read every single one of them, they probably know us pretty well. That’s frightening.
That makes me feel a bit ill. No shaming - if you’ve read all of the texts over the last seven years please write in, we should be mates at this point. You need to give us seven years of yourself back.
But maybe it should be like on paywalls, it says you have reached your limit of five articles… if we don’t want to be known we should only let people read two a year. You can’t see the full picture, it’s too intimate. I say that, I’m absolutely bullshitting and just making a joke because actually I really love that about the whole thing. Part of me thinks, what are the criticisms of this type of way of working? The criticisms it gets are fairly obvious, like there’s a really good research article by Sarah Stang on close reading methodologies in game studies, and she says, these are a few quotes, she says - “social justice oriented approaches to media analysis such as those that employ feminist, queer, crip or critical race theory emphasise the centrality of identity and positionality in their interpretive analysis and work to connect mediated messages to real world oppression,” which is sort of what you were touching on but maybe not oppression. She goes on to write, “close reading centralises the scholars perspective, subjectivity and experience, which is particularly important when the scholar occupies a less privileged subject position, and can speak to systemic oppression as it is intertwined with mediated content.” I think sometimes we forget how relevant that point is to the White Pube, because the typical critic is a middle class white man who just exists in a completely different sphere to the two of us, so isn’t intertwined with mediated content in the same way. So it is worth us putting out our reactions to offer different views.
What does mediated content mean in that context? Maybe run that last bit back to me again.
“It’s particularly important when the scholar occupies a less privileged subject position and can speak to systemic oppression as it is intertwined with mediated content.”
So the art would be the mediated content?
Yeah. “The closeness, intimacy and vulnerability of close reading is what makes it compelling as a method.” But then she says the criticism of it, “those who occupy a less privileged subject position are now conducting what D.A. Miller calls a too close reading of media, are forced into two roles - a confidante, to whom the media object whispers its closest secrets; and an overly suspicious or paranoid viewer, worried that they are projecting their own insecurities onto the media object. The burden of subjective interpretation therefore necessitates that the too-close reader put a lot of effort into supporting their analysis, ie proving their interpretation in as much as that is possible.” We’ve been doing that anyway.
But, I think this is the exact kind of clever person sentence that I need in my life. I find myself wondering about this, and academics must have an answer - and this academic has an answer. Because I often wonder, is it not far more interesting and crunchy for us to just be like, look at me, look at me now, I’m the critic, look at me in my eyes, I’M THE CRITIC! Is it not more hilarious, but also crunchy, interesting, academically valuable for us to just be like, move over, Jonathan Jones, Adrian Searle, fuck off, all these art critic people in their polo necks. We are here and we are speaking objectively, because our subjectivity is now the truth. Our opinions are now the truth. Maybe this is the turning point - New Year, New Pube. OK, maybe, fuck subjective criticism, fuck somatic currents, we speak with objective authority. What if we just did that? What if we just went, well I hate the colour pink, and anyone that uses it is… I don’t know what’s the worst contemporary art insult? …is passé. Engaging with a dead discourse, it’s not very cutting edge.
I can’t even do it as a laugh, I can’t put it on. I’m just like, so conditioned to tell the truth.
But it can be the truth! It can be your truth but you can just be like, listen, everyone has to think this. Because we say this anyway. It’s the things that come out of you naturally, right? Like, whatever pops out of your brain, slips through into the real world. We always say oh it’s just my opinion, it’s just how I feel, my reaction to it. What if we went, no! It’s just, this is true, it’s not just for me, it’s for everyone. We’re establishing a discourse!
I was chatting with someone last week for the first time and he asked what it was like to be a critic and said that he often watches this music critic on YouTube and sometimes he’ll see in the comments things like oh, thank god, I was waiting for so long for this video, I wanted to see what you thought because… this person hadn’t made up their mind so they were waiting for the critic to tell them how to feel, and he was asking me like, do you ever have that in your mind? Or does the reader ever say things like that to you? I think readers definitely say things like that to us, but that terrifies me, because it’s like picking at the parasocial, but also picking at the terrifying world of influencers. The fact that we are art critics that are probably most known for an Instagram account with like 80,000 followers - I don’t want that. I know I’m being a killjoy but I can’t do it!
It’s not killjoy vibes, it’s hitting on a fundamental truth that I’ve never really clocked on to. And it’s that critics are the OG influencer, before influencers exist, before NikkieTutorials came on the scene, there were all these OG art critics writing their missives in esoteric journals telling people how they should feel about an abstract painting. The model for influencers already existed out in the world, right? A critic was that.
Maybe some people like to be told how to feel… is that, I think that’s true. You’re doing a face, what are you doing a face for?
I had a flashback to Fleabag season 2 where she’s in the confessional and she’s like, I just want someone to tell me what to do, and he’s like - KNEEL. It’s really sexy.
Yeah! Some people just want to be told what to do. And it can be HOT.
I love that.
That’s a very real human desire, to have something as simple as an opinion just given, handed to you. Not even in a way where it’s like, I’m an empty vessel, give me the answer, mighty critic. Sometimes it’s as simple as hearing what someone else thinks helps you ask yourself what you think. You can use someone else’s opinion as a sounding board, to get your own answer back. Other than the fact that it is seven years old, this text, do you think, if you’d written the same thing now with the same thing in mind, the same vague feeling and reaction but in today’s language or today’s vocabulary - do you still agree with what you thought?
If I went to the same exhibition now, as me?
Would you say the same fundamental thing?
I think my reaction would probably be a little bit different now. Just because I know now that a lot of Jesse Darling’s work references the experience of disability. In preparation for this podcast episode I was doing some research and there is an amazingly long PDF press packet that is on Arcadia Missa’s website because they still work with this artist, and the quote at the top of it says “Over the last ten years, Jesse Darling has explored how systems of power, government, religion, ideology, empire and technology can be as fragile and contingent as mortal bodies.” I think that might be a more interesting way to look at the approach to sculpture, and how often it is metal that is twisted in really awkward, useless ways. It’s not a chair that is functional anymore, it’s a chair that is like, leaning into the wall or towering up, nobody can reach it. That play of materials, all of it I just think I would have a different approach to it now,
Yeah, and that’s good. It does mean as two critics who write online, we often then come to disagree with the shit we’ve said, very quickly.
Yeah, it doesn’t even take seven years. We’ve been like seven different people in those years.
Sometimes it makes me think. In my writing, I will go hardest on stuff that I think is hateful - not that I hate it, but it is being hateful, therefore I hate it. That somatic current approach, it’s like the whole body is leaning into the text and trying to push it away. What I’m noticing in this lovely hour of reflection is that when I love something, I don’t think I go as hard in expressing the joy of it and using the text to pull it in or pull it towards me or describe why I want it to stay close. I think maybe we should be more fervent when shit’s good, do you get me?
That’s so interesting, I do get you but I think I do the opposite. Last year I started doing this more consciously, I only want to write about things that I love.
You did say that! Yeah, true.
I didn’t want to write about shows I didn’t like anymore, not in a hashtag, no negativity way, hashtag positive vibes only, not in that way. I wanted to write more consciously towards that fervour, and I think it meant that last year I was way happier with the texts I produced. I think writing about something you disliked can be so educational for yourself to figure out why you didn’t like it, and I never really found or saw the value in writing about something that I loved. You know, you just love it - but no, I found I discovered way more about myself, about what I thought, my own internal compass for what is good, bad, shit… interesting, crunchy… I discovered that I really like horses. I am a horse person. If I see a painting of a horse, I’ll lose my mind. It’s as simple as that, but I didn’t know that! I think that fervour, of trying to write towards an answer of like, yes but why, yes but why do I like this. There’s just as much if not more value in it for me. I don’t know if that’s universal for everyone, I spent so much time, so many years writing about how shit institutions were that I just needed a balance.
Are you going to do the same this year?
Yeah, I think, I don’t know. I want to write about shows I enjoyed but I think I also want to spend a lot of time chatting to people. I want to chat to more people this year, I’m sick of mining myself for my opinion, asking myself questions. The world is so interesting, people are so fascinating and they’ve got so much to say and I just love talking and listening and being nosey. It’s interesting to return to this text and this moment in time, 2015/16, we were writing this while we were still at uni. You wrote this as a student.
At the end of third year, yeah.
I think it’s so interesting to return to this mental headspace, emotional space, I don’t understand what the art world is, or what’s out there. I’m not in it, not really. That moment of naivety, where you’re trying to write towards an understanding, it’s a process of discovery, writing. But also relating to things like they’re brand new. I think it’s nice to hang on to that naivety.
We don’t know all the answers, as much as I just about being critics and also law makers. As much as I joke about that, it’s just not true. Anyone who does that is lying. There’s no objective truth. Maybe I’m just a nostalgic person. I’ve got so much love and generosity for baby Gab and Zarina. I love them, I really do. I look back on our 2015/16 selves and I’ve got so much patience and generosity and love for that moment in time and the people we were, it doesn’t matter how shit the writing was looking back, I’m still like… you baby geniuses. How did you manage to do that? We amaze me!
I’ve not written a better sentence than ‘this exhibition is a stomach settling.’
It was the particular and insular rationale of ingredient and appendage for me, that’s good. That’s my most favourite bit. You’re spitting these words out like you don’t even know what they mean to you until they hit the page. It has like a poetry to it, that text.
Jazz poetry, jazzzzz poetry.
Poetry doesn’t work as verbal coherence, it works as like, ambient coherence, right? It’s about mood and flavour and feeling and vibes. It’s just like a vibey thing. I feel like that’s what this thing is doing - speaking in the same rhythm as the exhibition. I think you managed to do that really well.
This review is a ten out of ten for me!
I think that’s why I’m like, spinning my wheels on how to write this God Of War review, because it’s not got as much elasticity between me and the game, or something. It’s just not there, it’s a tight object that is covered from every angle. It is, in a sense, watertight - so the review that I write about it feels like it would have to be in response to that. Whereas exhibitions are full leakages, the room is flooded, so writing about it feels like it has more space and magic. I just don’t know where to start. I think maybe because it’s the first review since we began the year but also since we had our December break… part of me wishes I would have started as a more poetic beginning as an exercise to lean into the rest of the year. But I dunno. I’ll figure it out. Put some similes in there, make us proud.
The White Pube playbook is just simile. Rule number one, commit to similes.
The other thing is, usually I’m in the routine of - experience cultural object, make notes, and then write about it and publish. It’s a very tight week or two week period. I played God Of War in November and now I’m writing about it. There’s a gap and I feel more out of touch with myself as the writer of the text, and the notes I made at the time were not sufficient. So I fucked myself.
I don’t know what I think until I write it so it doesn’t matter often what notes I write in the exhibition. It just kind of, you can’t take notes to predict your own discovery of a response.
I don’t know how many people listening will be writers but that’s just a writer thing, it’s something that writers know, and maybe not artists so much I think. It’ll be fine, now I’m just sharing the anxieties on my mind. But sharing the anxieties is also true to this podcast - do you know what I mean? Sharing what’s on the inside as a way to colour why the rest of the things are being said.
White Pube playbook rule two.
Meta pube .
Similes, meta. By the time this podcast goes out, will the God Of War text be out already?
It’ll be out.
You should link that in the description. This is a really good trailer for the text! Marketing genius!
That was the plan all along.
That was smooth.
Thank you for listening to this revisited episode, we’ve got a few more things planned podcast-wise, we’re going to be doing some interviews with artists in the next few episodes, and we’ll find some more texts to revisit too. Thank you especially to our Patreon supports, and PayPal and Ko-Fi, and to everyone on the Discord who makes it such a nice place to be. We have recently resurrected our YouTube channel so if you’ve been listening to this on podcast platforms, FYI, there was a video up as well. If you’re someone who prefers visuals, that’s there in the future.
And also Gab puts videos of her vlogging! Plug that, because I love it!
There will be hopefully a new vlog out by the time this podcast comes out, so that’s disgusting, but it was my New Year’s resolution to try and film more stuff in life and I am having fun. I just hate the word VLOG! I hate it so much. It is such an ugly word.
As I said vlogging I was like, I wish there was a different… Gab’s become a real life film maker.
Everyday film maker.
Visual diarist, cinematic diarist…
It’s not that good. Don’t get your hopes up or expectations. OK, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you on the next episode of the podcast. Byee!