Wednesday, December 24, 2014

London City Nights Best of 2014: Art

I've had a kickin' year in art.  Over the last 12 months I've performed in the Victoria & Albert Museum, at Institut für Alles Mögliche in Berlin and, my favourite, at Hackney WickED festival, where I made a political statement by being pelted with 150 eggs as a political statement.  That was the best artistic thing I did this year but it feels somehow egotistical to award myself top prize in my own contest.  So here's the tastiest fruits I discovered while out and about in London in 2014:

Honourable Mentions:

Live In Your Dreams!', The Crypt of St Pancras Church, 26th February 2014

I am not a difficult man to please.  Give me a subterranean labyrinth to wander about and I'm yours.  Even better if it's a spooky church crypt.  Even even better if it's jampacked full of interesting art.  I saw some great work by Central St. Martin's students this year, including some ace works by artists like Boris Raux, whose molecular art exploits damn near every sense; Charlotte Wendy Law, who reconfigures objects in fascinating new ways, drawing new materials from the ether; and Susan Beattie, who seems to find endless ways to utilise a piece of pig's gut. The sense of atmosphere and occasion here was outstanding, the pieces slotting beautifully into the musty space.

'The Choreography of Things', meeting Choy Ka Fai at arebyte Gallery, 18 January 2014

Give me something new to see or hear and I'll dance a jig of joy.  So when I was invited to meet Choy Ka Fai at arebyte Gallery, with the goa of being hooked up to shock pads and plugged into his mind control device I jumped at the chance.  He didn't disappoint.  As I noted at the time there's something of the mad scientist to him but maybe that's  inescapable when you write a programme ominously titled 'Mind Control Interface'.  When was hooked up to his device and the juice was flowing through me, the feeling of my arm jumping around and curling up was utterly alien - the experience of someone else's brainwaves manipulating my arm and giving me a taste of some disturbing future.  Check out the video.

'Dead Cat Bounce' by Alice Woods at Light Eye Mind, 14th November 2014

Any exhibition that leaves you feeling smarter than when you went in is worth a shake in my book.  Alice Woods' Dead Cat Bounce made the complex world of financial chicanery navigable by the layman (me).  Despite trying to keep abreast of what the hell is happening in the economy, there seem to be infinitely complex layers of jargon that, if I was a paranoid man, would seem suspiciously like they don't want people to understand it.  Woods busted through all that, representing this world with style and visual panache.  I particularly dug the chilling deck of cards that listed every part of the state that'd been privatised over the last 20 years, a piece that cements in the observer's mind just how much we've lost.


'Cornershop' by Lucy Sparrow, 26th August 2014

Having been running this site for a couple of years now, it's been deeply satisfying to meet artists contributing to group shows, being invited by them to see what they've been up to and finally see them gain some modicum of attention from the wider world.  After meeting Lucy in 2013 at the Whitecross Street festival, where she was exhibiting a felt portrait of Rose West (to mixed reactions from the public), I resolved to keep an eye on what she was heading towards

The pinnacle of these was Cornershop: an entire shop constructed from felt situated in the East End of London.  It was an eye-catching work, gaining attention from around the world and being featured in all major newspapers, on loads of art sites and all over social media. It's weird to see something you like being praised by The Daily Mail of all places, but, importantly, in gaining attention from the mainsteam media Lucy didn't sell out.  Lurking just beneath soft felt is razor-sharp satire and a keenly political eye.

I dug Cornershop so much a felt tube of K.Y. Jelly now sits proudly on top of my mantlepiece.  Can't wait to see what she does next.  

23rd December: Gigs
26th December: Theatre
27th December: Shittiest films.
29th December: Best films

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