September 27, 2008

two 'gigs' to see

Next week I am in Bertinoro, Italy for the European Museums Forum Workshop “Museums And Local Resources: A European Perspective” I will miss two gigs that I would like to have seen:

Marianne Eigenheer is doing a talk about her work and the current Bury Art Gallery Exhibition "the Irony of Flatness" at 12.30 lunchtime on Tuesday 30th September.

and the other is
The Other Room
Wednesday 1st October 2008 at 7.00pm
The Old Abbey Inn, 61 Pencroft Way, Manchester
David Annwn, Caroline Bergvall, Joy as Tiresome Vandalism
I've not seen Caroline since the last Text Festival so I am disappointed by the clash. I can highly recommend both events.

September 20, 2008

the nature of bury

As a curator no matter how much you trust your judgement that an artist will do something interesting, it is still a scary moment when the artist proposes an installation that starts with an ‘empty’ gallery. Whether you take a hard-line on the degree of rigour which an audience faces or not, curating an empty gallery at the start can be daunting. Conceptual environmental artist Kerry Morrison ostensibly started from just that point in her current show ‘the nature of bury’ at Bury Art Gallery.

Actually the gallery turned out not to be empty, it is filled with a question: “where can I discover the nature of bury?” Kerry has for a number of years working in collaboration and dialogue with the scientific method – the gallery opened with the pregnant ‘scientific’ equipment which would be used to gather the samples, statistics and observations of the nature of bury – the display of a methodology of enquiry. I am pleased to write that Morrison’s query was instantly a sort of consciousness of the gallery space, an almost tangible ontology of her question. Having asked six people the question, she mapped their responses and began a series of artistic-scientific field trips, returning with specimens, new knowledge, new insights.

She writes “I choose my next exploration site from the conversations have with passers by at the current site. A map drawing of the next destination will accompany the first map drawing of the first. Travelling with my cabinet of research materials - a camera, sound recording equipment, jars and receptacles of various kinds, observation logbook sheets, crayons, pens, pencils, and a map of bury - I proceed from the gallery to the selected site of investigation. Upon arriving at the given destination I explore this nature of bury. Meeting people, and talking to them about what I am up to is an important element of the work. Through conversations I hope to discover anecdotes and points of interest relating to ‘place’ and the nature of the place. Each conversation I have will end with, “Where’s another good place discover the nature of bury?” (I paraphrased that lot)

What I find remarkable is that the question she leaves ‘hanging’ in the gallery has gained weight as her researches have begun to fill the space. Her exploration of the identified sites of the nature of bury has, as she intends, returned apparently scientific objective samples and observations, and in this very action she draws the parallels (and exposes) the subjectivity of scientific and artistic investigation of the world. She illuminates the ambiguity inherent and the greening-soon-to-be unquestionable nature of what n(N)ature actually is. In this regard even her lower case title is an insightful touch (I do like an artist who sees the subtler points of the language).

Personally I have no interest in nature or the environment – countryside is the dismal gap between cities as far as I am concerned. I recall Picasso once said that if he went for a walk in the landscape, it gave him green indigestion which required him to relieve the overload of his senses with green or landscape paintings. This always seemed daft to me – one because there is no comparison between the sensual overload of a city street with the monotony of the rural and two, sharing the metaphor of green indigestion, a more sensible care of one’s ‘stomach’ is not to ingest in the first place. When Kerry asked me where the nature of bury was I replied an old chemical site (which has become a site of special scientific interest due to the eco-systems evolved from contamination) and Radcliffe town centre. All that said: I have to own up to a great and growing fascination with the discoveries and objects of nature that Kerry is accumulating in the gallery. Maybe this is how I want my nature anyway – in a gallery (or a good park is acceptable) – either way the in turns beautiful, organic and clinical reification of nature, its artistic scrutiny, draw me (of all people) more frequently back than any recent show to see what new insight her accrual of the nature of bury has to offer.

The show runs 19 July - 8 November

After all I have said about the problems of galleries as crèches, the gallery had just such a out of control children problem overflow into Kerry’s installation. A more thoughtful piece on this to follow.

Peace Demo

WE have the annual irritation of New Labour's party conference this week - Manchester streets are sealed off, police patrol in vast numbers, helicoptors hover overhead night and day. On the first day on which the sun seems to have shone all year, it was great to see the End the Wars Demonstration roll into town.

September 09, 2008

"The decision to withdraw the poem was not taken lightly"

The banning of the Carol Ann Duffy poem "Education for Leisure" in a GCSE poetry anthology has ripped around the world understandably with the outrage against censorship and also simple-minded stupidity.

As I read this story the thing that struck me was not the fact that the Educational bureaucrats could be so easily bounced into Reaction - it is the defining characteristic of such people - be it in health services, local government or education. The thing that stands out, which sadly isnt being said by anyone, is that the poem is a stinker. Apparently they only had 3 complains and it was withdrawn; wouldnt the world be a better place if 3 complains that it is bad poetry could have got it withdrawn - that wouldnt have been censorship, that would be saving poetry itself from the banality which is its fate.

September 03, 2008

Cairo : Sound Constructions

Group exhibition from 7 till 30 September 2008
Location: Factory, 1st Floor
7 September, 8:00 pm: Opening
8 September, 8:00 pm : Viennoise – a performance by Mahmoud Refat
Voices, melodies, and sounds fill the space of every city. Noises waft through the air, their origins often unknown. In the ebb and flow of sound, we find our way through the world, or get lost in it—dissolving into a sea of cell-phone ring tones, and re-emerging with the call of a name. Voice and identity are inextricably linked, connecting us to each other while defining us individually.
The sounds of a city can feel like an embrace, but at other times they threaten and disturb. In the privacy of the home, city noise is shut out—but complete silence is rarely achieved. Thus, the artists featured in this exhibition do not attempt to quiet Cairo but instead add their own sounds to it: Their works layer and echo, interpret and describe, both acoustically and visually. Sounds will not only be heard, they will also become visible.
Featured artists: Barbara Armbruster (Germany), Marianne Eigenheer (Switzerland), Zoe Irvine (UK), Hadel Nazmy (Egypt), Mahmoud Refat (Egypt), Beat Streuli (Switzerland).

القاهرة: تراكيب صوتية
معرض جماعى من 7 حتى 30 سبتمبرالمدير الفنى: باربرا أرمبروسترالمكان: المصنع والدور الأول
7 سبتمبر، 08:00 م : الافتتاح8 سبتمبر: 8:00 م : فيينواز - عرض لمحمود رفعت
تملأ أصوات البشD8 والأشياء والنغمات فضاء كل مدينة. وتنطلق ضوضاء عبر الهواء غالباً ما لا يعرف مصدرها. وبين علو وانحسار الصوت نجد طريقنا عبر العالم، أو نتوه فيه – غارقين في بحر من نغمات الموبايل، لنعود مع سماعنا نداءً لاسم. يرتبط الصوت والهوية بشكل لا يمكن فصله، متجلياً في ربطنا ببعض عندما نعرّف أنفسنا كأفراد.

يمكن لأصوات المدينة أن تبدو كما ل و كانت تعانقك، ولكنها في أوقات أخري تهدد وتزعج. في خصوصية البيت، تُحبس ضوضاء المدينة بالخارج – ولكن يندر تحقيق الهدوء الكامل. لهذا، فإن فناني هذا المعرض لا يحاولون تهدئة ضوضاء القاهرة، إنما يضيفون أصواتهم الخاصة لها: أعمالهم تتقابل وترجع الصدي، وتفسر وتصف، سمعياً وبصرياً. لن تُسمع الأصوات فقط، ولكنها ستصبح مرئية.

فنانو الم9رض: باربرا أرمبروستر (المانيا)، ماريان إينير (سويسرا)، زوي إرفاين (المملكة المتحدة)، هديل نظمي (مصر)، محمود رفعت (مصر)، بيت سترولي (سويسرا)
Gallery hours in Ramadan
Saturday till Wednesday: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm.
Thursday off, Friday 7:30 – 10:30 pm.
مواعيد الجاليرى فى رمضان
السبت حتى الأربع: 11:00 ص – 2:00 م و7:30 م – 10:30 م
الخميس مغلق، الجمعة 7:30 م – 10:30 م