Sunday, October 25, 2009

Zoo Art Fair

This year I finally managed a couple of art fairs, I have been planning visits for a number of years but never manged to get to any. Autumn seems the time of year when all the fairs are happening, literally some at the same time. I suppose this is to encourage visitors/buyers from abroad to come over and see them all.
I didn't manage Frieze, but I got to Zoo, which this year was held in some old industrial buildings near Liverpool street station. There seems to be a trend to use old semi derelict buildings for exhibitions, the danger being some times that the buildings can be more interesting than the art shown in them.
At Zoo there were several buildings in use, one housing video work others with individual artists and galleries and there was some really good work there.

I really responded to Harald Smykla's work, Movie Protocol, which involves him watching films and transcribing them into a visual language. Info here There was something about these drawings that was really full of life and vitality. I talked to the artist for a few minutes about his work, which started when he was watching TV and thinking about what he could do with that time. I thought the work was full of life because it was done in the moment, fresh and without much deliberation.

In the building showing film and video work I watched and really enjoyed Kathrin Sonntay's film Dracula's Ghost 2009. It was witty and made good cultural and political comments about our love of vampires and our insistence of their history in Transylvania.

Other work I enjoyed were Per Kesselmar's Wide Screen series of paintings, oil on aluminium, which were beautiful pieces full of subtle and concentrated light. Info from the gallery here

Monday, October 19, 2009

Photo Month Photo Fair and Fools and Angels, Cecil Collins

I went to the Photo Month Photo Fair at Spitalfields Market to check out the new format of the show. There weren't as many stands as I thought, though there was a mix of people and organizations there showing work and services.
I think it is a much more competitive market for photography now than it was even 5 years ago, with most people able to take their own photographs now, with many mobiles having built in cameras.Photography has lost it's mystery and darkroom skills are no longer needed. I do think there is room for photography as an art form, but those photographs need to be able to stand out in some way.
There were a surprising number of prints for sale from £5 to £25 at that price I bought a little landscape from Catherine Ames which I liked very much. her website here.

You have to sell quite a few prints at those prices though to make the cost of some of the stands.
On the one hand I like the undefined nature of Photo Month fairs, on the other I wonder about separating different aspects of photography, like reportage/documentary, portrait/figurative, art/abstract, design/craft applications and so on. Each could have a day for exhibitions for instance. May be that would attract more exhibitors and visitors.

There is a really wonderful exhibition of Cecil Collins work "Fools and Angels" in the gallery at St Martins College near Holborn station only on till tomorrow. details here

It's the best show I've seen of his work so far, it includes prints, paintings and drawings and of course many include the image of the fool or angels. I enjoyed really studying some of the work and making some little quick sketches in response to some of them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cloud Gate Theatre Wind Shadow

Last week I went to see the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, their website here at the Barbican. I had heard their director speak at the conference of Buddhist Arts at the V&A and he had shown clips of their performances.Im was impressed by their work and looked to see if they were coming to Britain.

This performance,Wind Shadow was a rather darker production than those he had showed us, but impressive. The choreography was by Lin Hwai-Min, good article about him here with dancers as light and shadows in monochrome colours.

At first their was one kite hanging and blowing in the wind, then dancers appeared some with shadow dancers seemingly attached to their ankles some waving large flags and some dancers appeared to have wings.
Slowly it seemed as though there were more and more of the rather ominous shadow dancers taking over the stage and the artist Cai Guo-Qiang's, (visual director for the Beijing Olympics) gunpowder drawings were projected behind and captured on fabric by the dancers.
There were some deafening explosions and lasers near the finale as the dancers were caught in smoke, as were we near the front of the stage, it was as if we were caught up in a battle ground with torrents of black pieces of paper, like ash also showered down on the dancers and blew across the audience at the front. The dancers moved into a huddle seemingly caught up in a final catastrophe a tunnel of smoke and ash lit up by erie green lasers. Good review of the performance here

So we left rather somberly after the performance and it's vision of a type of hell. Really great dancing and staging and I think perhaps the first overtly political work from Cloud Gate.
Another good review here

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Photomonth Photo Open Exhibition

I have 3 photographs in the Photomonth open exhibition this year, at The Old Truwman Brewery site. F Block, T4 15, Hanbury Street E1 6QR
I sent in 3 of the series of photos I'd taken of the monks from the Tashi Llunpo Monastery, when they came to London earlier in the year. In this exhibition some work will be printed and hung in the space and some will be part of a continuous slide show in the gallery. (I don't know which

mine will be yet).
The preview is on Thursday 15th october 6-9pm.
Photomonth has some great exhibitions and events happening, I hope to get to some including the Photo fair on Saturday 10th which is taking over the Old Spitalfields Market for the day. I decided not to have a stand this year as I have had rather a lot on, but it will be interesting to see all the stands.
Details of all the shows and events are on the site here