by R T Faherty, Art Critic. (Originally published in the Stubbs End Gazette) (and in the Pangolin review pages, where nobody ever looked at it).
A man in my privileged position sometimes gets to look at an exhibition or two, and this week has been particularly fruitful as we're into the Diced Garrets season, when local artists open their studios so that all and sundry can view their offerings and/or case the joint to see if it's worth burgling.
Well, I saw a sign saying 'Open Studio'. It pointed to a basement. The steps were very steep. Something small lay disembowelled on the third step from the bottom. Then there was a subterranean corridor with a triangular sign warning 'Danger of Death' on a door. I thought I'd take a look.
A gloomy looking bloke offered me a glass of wine. He was wearing a t-shirt with 'I Spayed My Cat' emblazoned across his chest. I thanked him, knocked back the wine, and went to look at the exhibits. At least I think they were the exhibits - indistinguishable as they were from the contents of an Argos catalogue. There was a statement to the effect that they were looking to establish the glorious in the uni-directional lines of reverberation and influence as 'becoming ensemble', citing other work, co-opting other work, sticking chewing gum on other work and, in the final analysis, enacting, or re-enacting, a stage across which whole histories (the multitudes) are brought to bear. Or exit, pursued by bear. Or bear behind.
“Hmm”, thought I. “Someone who needs to dig some potatoes. Or something else practical, preferably involving dirt.” And had another glass of wine.
Then I spotted what I took to be another assemblage of artworks but on closer inspection turned out to be bowls of peanuts and crisps. I filled both my jacket pockets with them. “Probably an example of the perverse logic of forcing mute objects into relational forms and the unwieldiness of interpretation. The lot of the artist,” I thought.
And had another glass of wine.
Then I spotted my old mate Bogg. We both had another glass of wine. Bogg has minor psychiatric problems, hasn't changed his jacket since a pigeon crapped on it back in June, and farts, noiselessly, at 87-second intervals. He'd had a baked bean and broccoli quiche earlier in the evening. We both stared at a large piece of polystyrene with holes poked through it in places, with blobs of car paint applied at random. It was called 'Solecism', and claimed to be 'embellishing the mundane with a visually monumental, sometimes ominous, presence'.
“Oh”, I thought.
Then I spotted the most interesting exhibit of the whole show. At first glance it appeared to be a rotting tree stump, but on closer inspection it was a piece of textile art. Fabulous textures which looked like mould were interspersed with areas of flowing grey horsehair, and if you looked carefully and narrowed your eyes it was like a filthy old overcoat painted to represent the bark of a tree. A piece of very distressed felt provided a kind of 'lid', and there was a waxy protrusion from underneath it. In wonder, I poked the waxy protrusion.
“**** off!” it said, stood up and advanced towards me in a menacing fashion. Turned out to be the artist's uncle, who was on stewarding duty that evening.
Bogg also has an unusual habit of clapping his hands together and tap dancing whilst simultaneously shooting backwards. Sometimes shouting noisily, but he was silent on this occasion.
However, that cut no ice with the fascists who were running this particular show... we were both manhandled out of the place, alarmingly quickly considering the steep incline of the staircase, with the gloomy looking bloke calling us all sorts of names I'd never heard before. Apart from “Bloody Freeloader!” I think I also caught the drift of “**** out of here and if I ever see you again I'll rip off your ******** and use them as marbles”, or something to that effect. I ask you!
All in all, a fairly standard, boring preview. Go and take a look if you've nothing better to do.