Jan. 12th, 2015

fingertrouble: every nun needs a synthi (holy synth)
I feel guilty that I haven't posted about the new year...mostly because it feels like new year, same shit. Customer service nightmares, banks and supermarkets who take your money and then treat you like shit, and a new year which is mostly a let down / raining. Yeah.

Xmas was quiet - I made Xmas Day Dinner for John, the first time so stress was high... and made the Best Risotto EVAH! as a starter which pleased me no end, because I was really worried about that...had a minor meltdown when I saw the nearly 2 inch Cote De Boeuf massive steak John had brought - I had planned everything to a T, but not checked that...luckily my Hairy Bikers Grill (no, not a fan, they just were on special and are rather good actually) managed to just fit it...with roast potatoes which were cheaty Waitrose ones (Waitrose...grr...The Forbidden Supermarket now, long story involving my chip & PIN card not working and them treating me like I was penniless vagabond - and finally it turned out to be THEIR machine, not my card. I had to do the walk of shame sans groceries. Dumb.) but I also learned how to make real ones. It's all about the fat!

Talking about fat I was glad to get to normal eating habits, because over Xmas we ate very well, then went out with Kirk and had a meal (this year seemed to be Hampstead Xmas, always meeting there...like my flat, everyone LOVES my flat and my area, except me, I get bored of it and want to go far, far away. Preferably Bermuda, Australia, South Africa, anywhere warm and preferably without dumb people talking about politics or queer issues. Or inane chatter.)

I saw my Dad and Christine after Xmas for New Year's Day, again more rich food, and plenty of nice wine...stayed over and watched the birds fight it out in their garden, Robins, great tits, and the odd clueless looking blackbird who seemed disgruntled it couldn't fit into the birdhouse or feeder. We went for a walk along the old A3, next to the old old A3 at Hindhead, the Devil's Punchbowl. Not been there since they closed the road and were just about to open the tunnel, so it was strange to walk along the reclaimed hill and think of all those times I wizzed past there in my Dad's car - or even the odd fraught and unsuccessful driving lesson (which reminds me, Santander seems to think it's the United States here since to take money out without a cash card needs two forms of identity - a passport and a driving license, and that's all they accept. Cos everyone drives, right? More dumb).

As you might have guessed this year has been sorting out long-left financial stuff - even down to sorting out my home insurance which has gone from reasonable ten years ago to rip-off level - at current prices. Loads of odd questions - how the fuck should I know what the roof is made of? It's only contents insurance and I'm not on the top floor! Difference between other places and the UK, someone who has never made a claim and been insured for something like ten years - I phone up my current one and ask how I can reduce my premiums, I take off a few things and am told 'Computer Says No' about reducing the level of cover...I am overinsured since stuff has devalued, broken or been sold. I bet in other countries like the States they would value the loyalty and have a 'deal' or sweetener to stay...not in the UK, you get a harrumph and a like it or lump it attitude. But the 'broken machine' thing is the story of my life atm, so many of other people's systems don't work, and then they force the customer to jump through hoops. Bet you anything when I phone to cancel my old insurance tomorrow after sorting out a new quote (which I sort of have already, roof question allowing) they then try and 'keep' me when it's too late. If at all, the telecoms and mobile people are the same, they don't care until I've left, oddly. Maybe places like EE Broadband should try and keep customers, rather than do damage limitation when you've cancelled (and lie to you about charges, as well!).

Went to the sauna for the first time in years, to the Waterloo Pleasuredrome (I did go to Chariots Waterloo for the first time ever, but it was shit, and the people were milling around doing nothing and looking down their noses, I left and went to Pleasuredrome for the first time in about 10-15 years). I had a nice time but the nicest thing was the jacuzzi. If you don't have a bath you really treasure the moments of being immersed in water...good for the skin, too.

Went to a few great exhibitions recently - the one just closed this weekend on William Morris was beardy and facinating...his life-long batchelor friend Philip Webb raised eyebrows, since victorian times that was very unusual indeed...it was at the National Portrait Gallery - some good photos, socialist history and his design was amazing, of course already knew a bit about him, but not seen his Chaucer in the flesh. Surprised they put Edward Carpenter, Anne Besant, Marx's daughter, Bernard Leach and Sylvia Pankhurst in the exhibition - a little tenuous of the curators trying to stretch Morris's News From Nowhere where he predicted a new socialist utopia in 1952 - of course they stretched it to Festival of Britain (1951). Boos to Eric Gill being there, though. No mention of his crimes.

I also saw the MIRRORCITY exhibition, also just before it closed...I wish I'd seen it earlier...mostly for two works, I became an instant fan of Ursula Mayer's videos, it's queer thing maybe, they just spoke to me (and having JD Samson in one doesn't hurt - not so into the Ayn Rand inspired one, but Medea with JD was very good) and the twisted narrative of Lindsay Seers at the start...she had a real story to tell with schizophrenia, dancing, her Dad's past and Leni Riefenstahl on Heligoland. Not sure how much of it was true, but it didn't matter since the connections it made were interesting, like a double screen documentary in a gothic cathedral like space, projected onto spheres. And I liked Tim Etchell's posters where he took and remixed headlines for comic and tragic effect.

But the rest, bar Susan Hiller who I love but sadly hers was the last and by then I was burnt, really demonstrated one of the problems of modern video art, and art in general. It's good I came to it fairly blind and didn't read the bumf at the site. "MIRRORCITY explores the effect the digital revolution has had on our experiences....The exhibition considers questions specific to our time such as: ‘How can we navigate the space between the digital and the physical?’ and ‘What is the effect of advanced technologies on our lives?'" - very little of that, and surprising how traditional most of the work was if that was the brief.

But I left singing/chanting "I Don't Give A Fuck About Your Story" - uncharitable but true, since a lot of the younger (20? 30's?) artists were doing really involved video pieces of them talking to camera, or others....but they didn't have anything to say, nor experience to impart. There was a lot of that disconnect, of obviously rich or at least well-supported young artists trying to say something and completely failing. And certainly lack of any new media that wasn't around say, 20-30 years ago. This digital revolution seems to involve drawing maps of charts, having one-headphone installations while nailing all the other old ones to the wall, making odd noises like Kurt Schwitters never happened, running a Berlin record label and being an artist on the side with forgettable closeup images, recreating a strange spooky space like the inside of a boiler room which you need to queue up for, and recreating your studio with hanging things in the gallery (which was at least fun in a child hides in the wardrobe way, you had to thread your way through the work). But a lot of painting, a lot of text work (oh how 20's that is, to work with text pieces - I did! It's clever but usually forgettable) mixed media sculpture in a sort of 'oh we have to have sculpture' 60's fashion and photography with completely blank punctum/perspective, nothing happening there.

It mostly didn't say anything - which is one of the problems with video installation and modern art (this is what I majored in btw) - the blank narrative of 'nothing happens' is boring, but so is 'personal story that I'll relate to you' - it's like someone telling you their dreams. You don't actually care. If you work contains a narrative, make it an interesting one...or go find one that is. Creating the artistic version of 'Time passes...' in an adventure game isn't deep, it's dumb, usually. A lack of ideas...because like when someone creates a memorable pop song and it's EVERYWHERE, an artist with ideas that people can latch onto is rare but also successful.

Enough ranting on the state of modern art, I hope you all are well, and find 2015 more interesting than I have so far...changes are afoot which means this year is probably going to be rocky and less than fun, but who knows? I hope yours is better.

May 2017

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