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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Mexican Art: Engravings of José Guadalupe Posada

Our new arts correspondent lives in Mexico: here she talks us through some wonderful inspiration from an exhibition at the Jose Guadalupe Posada Museum in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Written by Judy Elizabeth Wilson

open spike detail
Speakers Corner By Alon Merron Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny
Speakers Corner – By Alon Merron – Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny.

Neville Brody’s introductory rhetorical footing for the Anti Design Festival in press and in person circulates around a narrative of a “cultural deep freeze” that he perceives has lasted for twenty-five years. The inference of this could be that the arts were coerced into a greater level of financially independence under Tory rule in the 1980′s through different commercial approaches, nurse including major spaces charging for exhibitions and the diversification of additional commercial enterprise. Later, side effects generation yBa responded to sleaze and general right wingery by self-organisation and tendencies to push the limits of taste. Co-opted, re-branded as part of ‘Cool Britannia’, British artists and creatives found themselves comfortably ensconced in opportunity and funding under New Labour.

“Created initially as a direct response to the pretty commerciality of the London Design Festival, the festival will shift the focus from bums-on-seats to brain food, and from taste and style to experiment and risk.” Say the Anti Designers.

ADF entrance poster
ADF Entrance Poster

For me, creativity in its rawest form of production needs something to rail against, to bounce catastrophically away from, perhaps with New Labour we found a corrupting ally of check boxes and artistically compromising agendas, the prioritising of the accessible over the challenging, perhaps agents of culture saw the cash and lost a bit of their soul.
And where are we now, where will we allow our new leaders to take us. The Tories and Liberal Democrats are duplicitous in their keenness to develop a US style Patronage of the arts. This culture, developed over a couple of hundred years, could make it difficult to separate the expectations of funders from the production of art works. In either state or patron funded models there are questions left unanswered about meritocracy, criticality and whether art can retain its ability to critique authority and the status quo. Yet the work desperately needs funds, it has the power to be a powerful economic driving force and a conduit for shifting social values, which without some agreed framework for the dispersal of funds could fall into nepotism and the closing down of opportunities to an even smaller cultural elite.

The Anti Design Festival (with its Arts Council funding), running from the 18th to 26th of September 2010, attempted to deal with some of these issues. The first space you encountered at the Anti Design Festival HQ at Londonewcastle on Redchurch Street, is haywire office space, replete with junked furniture former swivel chairs and stacks of filing cabinets. Every surface of this space is a space of exchange, computer desktops and screen savers, folders stuffed with print outs, secretive QR Code stickers that reveal secret messages once utilised. This is a space of exchange, an irreverent form of exchange where by crude diagrams and montages of genitalia are common forms of currency. Yet digging a little deeper you can reveal some intriguing moments of observational and design genius which are free for you to take away, possibly in exchange for a badly drawn penis.

redchurch front space
ADF Front Space

Redchurch font space detail
ADF Front Space Detail

In another space, the RADLAB, the exhibition continues to change and evolve as the week of the festival progresses. It opens with a makeshift political notice board in ‘Open Spike’, a manifesto wall designed by Martino Gamper, quickly joined by a series of design lamps all made using the exquisite corpse process, carbuncles of high design and makeshift problem solving seem to articulate the festivals interest in the recycling of materials and pre punk cut up processes. Later a snow card future-planning event hosted by Research Studios tests the viewers concept of the future of world events, straw polling our collective tendencies shifting between “ANARCHY” and “Apathy” eventually culminating in a skewed sticker-book view of the world map according to the patrons of Anti Design.

open spike manifesto
Open Spike Manifesto

Exquisite Corpse Lamp By Other Designers - Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny
Exquisite Corpse Lamp – By Other Designers – Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny

anarchy apathy
ANARCHY or apathy – Research Studios

The final space in Londonewcastle contains a collaboration between my art group Charlesworth, Lewandowski & Mann (http://clandm.eu/)and the BBC Research & Development Department (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/researchanddevelopment/). The space itself offers solutions and further problems in equal measure. There is a proliferation of post punk sigils, daubed expletives and bombastic graphic work stacked five images high covering two walls of the rear space. This salon hang has been generated through an open call process with artists turning up to show well into the middle of its install. There is a level of selection, those that don’t fit (quite literally) will be displayed on the ADF’s website, yet the eclectic make up of the works is remarkable. Viewers are offered a staggering and potentially baffling array of modes of production, aesthetic mannerisms, subject matter and inevitably quality; a flattening of design scenes and art worlds of establishment icons to those finding their voices. It is cathartic, confusing and un-precious, bold curating perhaps, but moreover a level of bravery on the part of the artist allowing work to be shown in a way that few will relish or be accustomed to.

Our work is the first version of a series of works called “The Cut-Up”, an interactive digital and sculptural work which, through user interaction, mashes and remixes video content related to the activities of Anti Design Festival participants, the content is then fed back through a series of visual displays, projection and through a 3D ambisonic sound space. This is our first foray into a work that requires a level of audience participation, in this case triggered by motion capture. As has been alluded to before now, there is a tendency among ADF organisers to site Burroughs and Gysin as influence and archetypes of a creative process which incorporates many of the anarchic and destructive creative values that the festival aspires to. “The Cut-Up” is indeed a direct nod to this in name and action, an attempt to represent some of the activities of the festival through a random montage of cut up videos, recorded and live footage, which in turn are chopped and fucked about with to an implausible level. “The Cut-Up” shows you a circular rotating form wrapped with video but as videos collapse one into another over and over again, moments of recognition and understanding become few and far between, you are surrounded in a roar of broken noise emanating from ridiculous plywood furniture and the projection of a squalling sometimes beautifully violent form. The surface experience is seductive but as with the rest of the ADFs agenda, it feels like something more malevolent lurks below the surface.

cut up install view
cut up install view plus salon wall
cut stage plus projection view
cut up visual detail
The Cut-Up, a CL&M// BBC R&D collaboration (Install view, detail view and projection view)

During the evenings, “The Cut-Up’s” content disappeared and the structure of the stage became the stage for a series of lectures, talks, debate, discussion, noise, music and performance curated by Cecilia Wee (http://www.ceciliawee.com/). Wee hosts a number of her own events and at times hands over the floor to other curators and hosts which again creates a shifting of agendas from evening to evening. I have rarely been to such a sprawl of events under one banner that can claim to be a space of engagement for such far-flung scenes and areas of interest. Events curated by Cecilia Wee, Richard Thomas (Resonance FM), Emily Wolf, Jon Wozencroft (Touch, RCA) and Yomi Ayeni, take on themes and mantles such as Obsessive Classification Disorder, Auto Destructive Art, Electro Magnetism, London’s forgotten sewer spaces, Hooliganism and Ludwig II of Bavaria.
I found a stand out interest Yorkshire based Polymath Tom Badley’s (http://tombadley.net/)presentation on what his view of what art would look like in 50 years time was a striking and sombre moment for me. Tom didn’t go into details on how he had come to his thoughts, speaking to him afterwards he made the allowance that his lecture wasn’t based on anything but gut instinct, yet his revelations of a pseudo-scifi near future where art was accessible to all as a practice, where artists had nothing to push against and everyone could express themselves in black and white computer renderings similar to the concentric circles and patternations which look a little like crop circles, seemed to make sense to me. Yet Badley’s vision isn’t drawn out of a cultural relaxation that has been forged in our attainment of utopia, rather it is formed in the resigned belief that reality as we know it has been constructed as a hologram by a myriad conspiracy of global finance and government.
This seems like a place to stop, though there were many other great activities and performances, other shows in other spaces, but unpicking the interrelations between them all could take an age. The more I think of the whole festival, the more I have come to think it as a speech, a call to arms that appears to offer an answer but whose real agenda is to confuse, trip up and place the proverbial amongst the pigeons. This certainly won’t be the last you hear of ADF, it is likely to rise again and may even attempt to inculcate itself as the shadow of the mainstream culture industry. Its rogue, a loose cannon, its unpredictable and unaccountable. It may be just what we need.

Afterword

“The Cut-Up’ has been shortlisted for the 2010 NEM Art Award and will be shown at the NEM Summit (http://nem-summit.eu/) in Barcelona from 13th – 15th October.

Thanks to Jeff Knowles and everyone at Research Studios (http://www.researchstudios.com/) for providing the images for this article and content for “The Cut-Up’.

Speakers Corner By Alon Merron Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny
Speakers Corner – By Alon Merron – Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny.

Neville Brody’s introductory rhetorical footing for the Anti Design Festival in press and in person circulates around a narrative of a “cultural deep freeze” that he perceives has lasted for twenty-five years. The inference of this could be that the arts were coerced into a greater level of financially independence under Tory rule in the 1980′s through different commercial approaches, abortion including major spaces charging for exhibitions and the diversification of additional commercial enterprise. Later, no rx generation yBa responded to sleaze and general right wingery by self-organisation and tendencies to push the limits of taste. Co-opted, help re-branded as part of ‘Cool Britannia’, British artists and creatives found themselves comfortably ensconced in opportunity and funding under New Labour.

“Created initially as a direct response to the pretty commerciality of the London Design Festival, the festival will shift the focus from bums-on-seats to brain food, and from taste and style to experiment and risk.” Say the Anti Designers.

ADF entrance poster
ADF Entrance Poster

For me, creativity in its rawest form of production needs something to rail against, to bounce catastrophically away from, perhaps with New Labour we found a corrupting ally of check boxes and artistically compromising agendas, the prioritising of the accessible over the challenging, perhaps agents of culture saw the cash and lost a bit of their soul.
And where are we now, where will we allow our new leaders to take us. The Tories and Liberal Democrats are duplicitous in their keenness to develop a US style Patronage of the arts. This culture, developed over a couple of hundred years, could make it difficult to separate the expectations of funders from the production of art works. In either state or patron funded models there are questions left unanswered about meritocracy, criticality and whether art can retain its ability to critique authority and the status quo. Yet the work desperately needs funds, it has the power to be a powerful economic driving force and a conduit for shifting social values, which without some agreed framework for the dispersal of funds could fall into nepotism and the closing down of opportunities to an even smaller cultural elite.

The Anti Design Festival (with its Arts Council funding), running from the 18th to 26th of September 2010, attempted to deal with some of these issues. The first space you encountered at the Anti Design Festival HQ at Londonewcastle on Redchurch Street, is haywire office space, replete with junked furniture former swivel chairs and stacks of filing cabinets. Every surface of this space is a space of exchange, computer desktops and screen savers, folders stuffed with print outs, secretive QR Code stickers that reveal secret messages once utilised. This is a space of exchange, an irreverent form of exchange where by crude diagrams and montages of genitalia are common forms of currency. Yet digging a little deeper you can reveal some intriguing moments of observational and design genius which are free for you to take away, possibly in exchange for a badly drawn penis.

redchurch front space
ADF Front Space

Redchurch font space detail
ADF Front Space Detail

In another space, the RADLAB, the exhibition continues to change and evolve as the week of the festival progresses. It opens with a makeshift political notice board in ‘Open Spike’, a manifesto wall designed by Martino Gamper, quickly joined by a series of design lamps all made using the exquisite corpse process, carbuncles of high design and makeshift problem solving seem to articulate the festivals interest in the recycling of materials and pre punk cut up processes. Later a snow card future-planning event hosted by Research Studios tests the viewers concept of the future of world events, straw polling our collective tendencies shifting between “ANARCHY” and “Apathy” eventually culminating in a skewed sticker-book view of the world map according to the patrons of Anti Design.

open spike manifesto
Open Spike Manifesto

Exquisite Corpse Lamp By Other Designers - Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny
Exquisite Corpse Lamp – By Other Designers – Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny

anarchy apathy
ANARCHY or apathy – Research Studios

The final space in Londonewcastle contains a collaboration between my art group Charlesworth, Lewandowski & Mann (http://clandm.eu/)and the BBC Research & Development Department (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/researchanddevelopment/). The space itself offers solutions and further problems in equal measure. There is a proliferation of post punk sigils, daubed expletives and bombastic graphic work stacked five images high covering two walls of the rear space. This salon hang has been generated through an open call process with artists turning up to show well into the middle of its install. There is a level of selection, those that don’t fit (quite literally) will be displayed on the ADF’s website, yet the eclectic make up of the works is remarkable. Viewers are offered a staggering and potentially baffling array of modes of production, aesthetic mannerisms, subject matter and inevitably quality; a flattening of design scenes and art worlds of establishment icons to those finding their voices. It is cathartic, confusing and un-precious, bold curating perhaps, but moreover a level of bravery on the part of the artist allowing work to be shown in a way that few will relish or be accustomed to.

Our work is the first version of a series of works called “The Cut-Up”, an interactive digital and sculptural work which, through user interaction, mashes and remixes video content related to the activities of Anti Design Festival participants, the content is then fed back through a series of visual displays, projection and through a 3D ambisonic sound space. This is our first foray into a work that requires a level of audience participation, in this case triggered by motion capture. As has been alluded to before now, there is a tendency among ADF organisers to site Burroughs and Gysin as influence and archetypes of a creative process which incorporates many of the anarchic and destructive creative values that the festival aspires to. “The Cut-Up” is indeed a direct nod to this in name and action, an attempt to represent some of the activities of the festival through a random montage of cut up videos, recorded and live footage, which in turn are chopped and fucked about with to an implausible level. “The Cut-Up” shows you a circular rotating form wrapped with video but as videos collapse one into another over and over again, moments of recognition and understanding become few and far between, you are surrounded in a roar of broken noise emanating from ridiculous plywood furniture and the projection of a squalling sometimes beautifully violent form. The surface experience is seductive but as with the rest of the ADFs agenda, it feels like something more malevolent lurks below the surface.

cut up install view
cut up install view plus salon wall
cut stage plus projection view
cut up visual detail
The Cut-Up, a CL&M// BBC R&D collaboration (Install view, detail view and projection view)

During the evenings, “The Cut-Up’s” content disappeared and the structure of the stage became the stage for a series of lectures, talks, debate, discussion, noise, music and performance curated by Cecilia Wee (http://www.ceciliawee.com/). Wee hosts a number of her own events and at times hands over the floor to other curators and hosts which again creates a shifting of agendas from evening to evening. I have rarely been to such a sprawl of events under one banner that can claim to be a space of engagement for such far-flung scenes and areas of interest. Events curated by Cecilia Wee, Richard Thomas (Resonance FM), Emily Wolf, Jon Wozencroft (Touch, RCA) and Yomi Ayeni, take on themes and mantles such as Obsessive Classification Disorder, Auto Destructive Art, Electro Magnetism, London’s forgotten sewer spaces, Hooliganism and Ludwig II of Bavaria.
I found a stand out interest Yorkshire based Polymath Tom Badley’s (http://tombadley.net/)presentation on what his view of what art would look like in 50 years time was a striking and sombre moment for me. Tom didn’t go into details on how he had come to his thoughts, speaking to him afterwards he made the allowance that his lecture wasn’t based on anything but gut instinct, yet his revelations of a pseudo-scifi near future where art was accessible to all as a practice, where artists had nothing to push against and everyone could express themselves in black and white computer renderings similar to the concentric circles and patternations which look a little like crop circles, seemed to make sense to me. Yet Badley’s vision isn’t drawn out of a cultural relaxation that has been forged in our attainment of utopia, rather it is formed in the resigned belief that reality as we know it has been constructed as a hologram by a myriad conspiracy of global finance and government.
This seems like a place to stop, though there were many other great activities and performances, other shows in other spaces, but unpicking the interrelations between them all could take an age. The more I think of the whole festival, the more I have come to think it as a speech, a call to arms that appears to offer an answer but whose real agenda is to confuse, trip up and place the proverbial amongst the pigeons. This certainly won’t be the last you hear of ADF, it is likely to rise again and may even attempt to inculcate itself as the shadow of the mainstream culture industry. Its rogue, a loose cannon, its unpredictable and unaccountable. It may be just what we need.

open spike detail

Afterword:
The Cut-Up has been shortlisted for the 2010 NEM Art Award and will be shown at the NEM Summit in Barcelona from 13th – 15th October.

Thanks to Jeff Knowles and everyone at Research Studios for providing the images for this article and content for The Cut-Up.

Speakers Corner By Alon Merron Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny
Speakers Corner – By Alon Merron – Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny.

Neville Brody‘s introductory rhetorical footing for the Anti Design Festival in press and in person circulates around a narrative of a “cultural deep freeze” that he perceives has lasted for twenty-five years. The inference of this could be that the arts were coerced into a greater level of financially independence under Tory rule in the 1980′s through different commercial approaches, cost including major spaces charging for exhibitions and the diversification of additional commercial enterprise. Later, healing generation yBa responded to sleaze and general right wingery by self-organisation and tendencies to push the limits of taste. Co-opted, diagnosis re-branded as part of Cool Britannia, British artists and creatives found themselves comfortably ensconced in opportunity and funding under New Labour.

“Created initially as a direct response to the pretty commerciality of the London Design Festival, the festival will shift the focus from bums-on-seats to brain food, and from taste and style to experiment and risk.” So say the Anti Designers.

ADF entrance poster
ADF Entrance Poster

For me, creativity in its rawest form of production needs something to rail against, to bounce catastrophically away from, perhaps with New Labour we found a corrupting ally of check boxes and artistically compromising agendas, the prioritising of the accessible over the challenging, perhaps agents of culture saw the cash and lost a bit of their soul. And where are we now, where will we allow our new leaders to take us. The Tories and Liberal Democrats are duplicitous in their keenness to develop a US style Patronage of the arts. This culture, developed over a couple of hundred years, could make it difficult to separate the expectations of funders from the production of art works. In either state or patron funded models there are questions left unanswered about meritocracy, criticality and whether art can retain its ability to critique authority and the status quo. Yet the work desperately needs funds, it has the power to be a powerful economic driving force and a conduit for shifting social values, which without some agreed framework for the dispersal of funds could fall into nepotism and the closing down of opportunities to an even smaller cultural elite.

The Anti Design Festival (with its Arts Council funding), running from the 18th to 26th of September 2010, attempted to deal with some of these issues. The first space you encountered at the Anti Design Festival HQ at Londonewcastle on Redchurch Street, is haywire office space, replete with junked furniture former swivel chairs and stacks of filing cabinets. Every surface of this space is a space of exchange, computer desktops and screen savers, folders stuffed with print outs, secretive QR Code stickers that reveal secret messages once utilised. This is a space of exchange, an irreverent form of exchange where by crude diagrams and montages of genitalia are common forms of currency. Yet digging a little deeper you can reveal some intriguing moments of observational and design genius which are free for you to take away, possibly in exchange for a badly drawn penis.

redchurch front space
ADF Front Space

Redchurch font space detail
ADF Front Space Detail

In another space, the RADLAB, the exhibition continues to change and evolve as the week of the festival progresses. It opens with a makeshift political notice board in ‘Open Spike’, a manifesto wall designed by Martino Gamper, quickly joined by a series of design lamps all made using the exquisite corpse process, carbuncles of high design and makeshift problem solving seem to articulate the festivals interest in the recycling of materials and pre punk cut up processes. Later a snow card future-planning event hosted by Research Studios tests the viewers concept of the future of world events, straw polling our collective tendencies shifting between ‘ANARCHY’ and ‘Apathy’ eventually culminating in a skewed sticker-book view of the world map according to the patrons of Anti Design.

open spike manifesto
Open Spike Manifesto

Exquisite Corpse Lamp By Other Designers - Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny
Exquisite Corpse Lamp – By Other Designers – Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny

anarchy apathy
ANARCHY or apathy – Research Studios

The final space in Londonewcastle contains a collaboration between my art group Charlesworth, Lewandowski & Mann and the BBC Research & Development Department (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/researchanddevelopment/). The space itself offers solutions and further problems in equal measure. There is a proliferation of post punk sigils, daubed expletives and bombastic graphic work stacked five images high covering two walls of the rear space. This salon hang has been generated through an open call process with artists turning up to show well into the middle of its install. There is a level of selection, those that don’t fit (quite literally) will be displayed on the ADF’s website, yet the eclectic make up of the works is remarkable. Viewers are offered a staggering and potentially baffling array of modes of production, aesthetic mannerisms, subject matter and inevitably quality; a flattening of design scenes and art worlds of establishment icons to those finding their voices. It is cathartic, confusing and un-precious, bold curating perhaps, but moreover a level of bravery on the part of the artist allowing work to be shown in a way that few will relish or be accustomed to.

Our work is the first version of a series of works called “The Cut-Up”, an interactive digital and sculptural work which, through user interaction, mashes and remixes video content related to the activities of Anti Design Festival participants, the content is then fed back through a series of visual displays, projection and through a 3D ambisonic sound space. This is our first foray into a work that requires a level of audience participation, in this case triggered by motion capture. As has been alluded to before now, there is a tendency among ADF organisers to site Burroughs and Gysin as influence and archetypes of a creative process which incorporates many of the anarchic and destructive creative values that the festival aspires to. “The Cut-Up” is indeed a direct nod to this in name and action, an attempt to represent some of the activities of the festival through a random montage of cut up videos, recorded and live footage, which in turn are chopped and fucked about with to an implausible level. “The Cut-Up” shows you a circular rotating form wrapped with video but as videos collapse one into another over and over again, moments of recognition and understanding become few and far between, you are surrounded in a roar of broken noise emanating from ridiculous plywood furniture and the projection of a squalling sometimes beautifully violent form. The surface experience is seductive but as with the rest of the ADFs agenda, it feels like something more malevolent lurks below the surface.

cut up install view
cut up install view plus salon wall
cut stage plus projection view
cut up visual detail
The Cut-Up, a CL&M// BBC R&D collaboration (Install view, detail view and projection view)

During the evenings, “The Cut-Up’s” content disappeared and the structure of the stage became the stage for a series of lectures, talks, debate, discussion, noise, music and performance curated by Cecilia Wee (http://www.ceciliawee.com/). Wee hosts a number of her own events and at times hands over the floor to other curators and hosts which again creates a shifting of agendas from evening to evening. I have rarely been to such a sprawl of events under one banner that can claim to be a space of engagement for such far-flung scenes and areas of interest. Events curated by Cecilia Wee, Richard Thomas (Resonance FM), Emily Wolf, Jon Wozencroft (Touch, RCA) and Yomi Ayeni, take on themes and mantles such as Obsessive Classification Disorder, Auto Destructive Art, Electro Magnetism, London’s forgotten sewer spaces, Hooliganism and Ludwig II of Bavaria.
I found a stand out interest Yorkshire based Polymath Tom Badley’s (http://tombadley.net/)presentation on what his view of what art would look like in 50 years time was a striking and sombre moment for me. Tom didn’t go into details on how he had come to his thoughts, speaking to him afterwards he made the allowance that his lecture wasn’t based on anything but gut instinct, yet his revelations of a pseudo-scifi near future where art was accessible to all as a practice, where artists had nothing to push against and everyone could express themselves in black and white computer renderings similar to the concentric circles and patternations which look a little like crop circles, seemed to make sense to me. Yet Badley’s vision isn’t drawn out of a cultural relaxation that has been forged in our attainment of utopia, rather it is formed in the resigned belief that reality as we know it has been constructed as a hologram by a myriad conspiracy of global finance and government.
This seems like a place to stop, though there were many other great activities and performances, other shows in other spaces, but unpicking the interrelations between them all could take an age. The more I think of the whole festival, the more I have come to think it as a speech, a call to arms that appears to offer an answer but whose real agenda is to confuse, trip up and place the proverbial amongst the pigeons. This certainly won’t be the last you hear of ADF, it is likely to rise again and may even attempt to inculcate itself as the shadow of the mainstream culture industry. Its rogue, a loose cannon, its unpredictable and unaccountable. It may be just what we need.

open spike detail

Afterword:
The Cut-Up has been shortlisted for the 2010 NEM Art Award and will be shown at the NEM Summit in Barcelona from 13th – 15th October.

Thanks to Jeff Knowles and everyone at Research Studios for providing the images for this article and content for The Cut-Up.

Speakers Corner By Alon Merron Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny
Speakers Corner – By Alon Merron – Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny.

Neville Brody‘s introductory rhetorical footing for the Anti Design Festival in press and in person circulates around a narrative of a “cultural deep freeze” that he perceives has lasted for twenty-five years. The inference of this could be that the arts were coerced into a greater level of financially independence under Tory rule in the 1980′s through different commercial approaches, pilule including major spaces charging for exhibitions and the diversification of additional commercial enterprise. Later, story generation yBa responded to sleaze and general right wingery by self-organisation and tendencies to push the limits of taste. Co-opted, re-branded as part of Cool Britannia, British artists and creatives found themselves comfortably ensconced in opportunity and funding under New Labour.

“Created initially as a direct response to the pretty commerciality of the London Design Festival, the festival will shift the focus from bums-on-seats to brain food, and from taste and style to experiment and risk.” So say the Anti Designers.

ADF entrance poster
ADF Entrance Poster

For me, creativity in its rawest form of production needs something to rail against, to bounce catastrophically away from, perhaps with New Labour we found a corrupting ally of check boxes and artistically compromising agendas, the prioritising of the accessible over the challenging, perhaps agents of culture saw the cash and lost a bit of their soul. And where are we now, where will we allow our new leaders to take us. The Tories and Liberal Democrats are duplicitous in their keenness to develop a US style Patronage of the arts. This culture, developed over a couple of hundred years, could make it difficult to separate the expectations of funders from the production of art works. In either state or patron funded models there are questions left unanswered about meritocracy, criticality and whether art can retain its ability to critique authority and the status quo. Yet the work desperately needs funds, it has the power to be a powerful economic driving force and a conduit for shifting social values, which without some agreed framework for the dispersal of funds could fall into nepotism and the closing down of opportunities to an even smaller cultural elite.

The Anti Design Festival (with its Arts Council funding), running from the 18th to 26th of September 2010, attempted to deal with some of these issues. The first space you encountered at the Anti Design Festival HQ at Londonewcastle on Redchurch Street, is haywire office space, replete with junked furniture former swivel chairs and stacks of filing cabinets. Every surface of this space is a space of exchange, computer desktops and screen savers, folders stuffed with print outs, secretive QR Code stickers that reveal secret messages once utilised. This is a space of exchange, an irreverent form of exchange where by crude diagrams and montages of genitalia are common forms of currency. Yet digging a little deeper you can reveal some intriguing moments of observational and design genius which are free for you to take away, possibly in exchange for a badly drawn penis.

redchurch front space
ADF Front Space

Redchurch font space detail
ADF Front Space Detail

In another space, the RADLAB, the exhibition continues to change and evolve as the week of the festival progresses. It opens with a makeshift political notice board in ‘Open Spike’, a manifesto wall designed by Martino Gamper, quickly joined by a series of design lamps all made using the exquisite corpse process, carbuncles of high design and makeshift problem solving seem to articulate the festivals interest in the recycling of materials and pre punk cut up processes. Later a snow card future-planning event hosted by Research Studios tests the viewers concept of the future of world events, straw polling our collective tendencies shifting between ‘ANARCHY’ and ‘Apathy’ eventually culminating in a skewed sticker-book view of the world map according to the patrons of Anti Design.

open spike manifesto
Open Spike Manifesto

Exquisite Corpse Lamp By Other Designers - Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny
Exquisite Corpse Lamp – By Other Designers – Part of M&M! Curated by Daniel Charny

anarchy apathy
ANARCHY or Apathy – Research Studios

The final space in Londonewcastle contains a collaboration between my art group Charlesworth, Lewandowski & Mann and the BBC Research & Development Department. The space itself offers solutions and further problems in equal measure. There is a proliferation of post punk sigils, daubed expletives and bombastic graphic work stacked five images high covering two walls of the rear space. This salon hang has been generated through an open call process with artists turning up to show well into the middle of its install. There is a level of selection, those that don’t fit (quite literally) will be displayed on the ADF’s website, yet the eclectic make up of the works is remarkable. Viewers are offered a staggering and potentially baffling array of modes of production, aesthetic mannerisms, subject matter and inevitably quality; a flattening of design scenes and art worlds of establishment icons to those finding their voices. It is cathartic, confusing and un-precious, bold curating perhaps, but moreover a level of bravery on the part of the artist allowing work to be shown in a way that few will relish or be accustomed to.

Our work is the first version of a series of works called ‘The Cut-Up’, an interactive digital and sculptural work which, through user interaction, mashes and remixes video content related to the activities of Anti Design Festival participants, the content is then fed back through a series of visual displays, projection and through a 3D ambisonic sound space. This is our first foray into a work that requires a level of audience participation, in this case triggered by motion capture. As has been alluded to before now, there is a tendency among ADF organisers to site Burroughs and Gysin as influence and archetypes of a creative process which incorporates many of the anarchic and destructive creative values that the festival aspires to. The Cut-Up is indeed a direct nod to this in name and action, an attempt to represent some of the activities of the festival through a random montage of cut up videos, recorded and live footage, which in turn are chopped and fucked about with to an implausible level. The Cut-Up shows you a circular rotating form wrapped with video but as videos collapse one into another over and over again, moments of recognition and understanding become few and far between, you are surrounded in a roar of broken noise emanating from ridiculous plywood furniture and the projection of a squalling sometimes beautifully violent form. The surface experience is seductive but as with the rest of the ADFs agenda, it feels like something more malevolent lurks below the surface.

cut up install view
cut up install view plus salon wall
cut stage plus projection view
cut up visual detail
The Cut-Up, a CL&M// BBC R&D collaboration (Install view, detail view and projection view)

During the evenings, The Cut-Up’s content disappeared and the structure of the stage became the stage for a series of lectures, talks, debate, discussion, noise, music and performance curated by Cecilia Wee. Wee hosts a number of her own events and at times hands over the floor to other curators and hosts which again creates a shifting of agendas from evening to evening. I have rarely been to such a sprawl of events under one banner that can claim to be a space of engagement for such far-flung scenes and areas of interest. Events curated by Cecilia Wee, Richard Thomas (Resonance FM), Emily Wolf, Jon Wozencroft (Touch, RCA) and Yomi Ayeni, take on themes and mantles such as Obsessive Classification Disorder, Auto Destructive Art, Electro Magnetism, London’s forgotten sewer spaces, Hooliganism and Ludwig II of Bavaria.

I found a stand out interest Yorkshire based polymath Tom Badley‘s presentation on what his view of what art would look like in 50 years time was a striking and sombre moment for me. Tom didn’t go into details on how he had come to his thoughts, speaking to him afterwards he made the allowance that his lecture wasn’t based on anything but gut instinct, yet his revelations of a pseudo-scifi near future where art was accessible to all as a practice, where artists had nothing to push against and everyone could express themselves in black and white computer renderings similar to the concentric circles and patternations which look a little like crop circles, seemed to make sense to me. Yet Badley’s vision isn’t drawn out of a cultural relaxation that has been forged in our attainment of utopia, rather it is formed in the resigned belief that reality as we know it has been constructed as a hologram by a myriad conspiracy of global finance and government.

This seems like a place to stop, though there were many other great activities and performances, other shows in other spaces, but unpicking the interrelations between them all could take an age. The more I think of the whole festival, the more I have come to think it as a speech, a call to arms that appears to offer an answer but whose real agenda is to confuse, trip up and place the proverbial amongst the pigeons. This certainly won’t be the last you hear of ADF, it is likely to rise again and may even attempt to inculcate itself as the shadow of the mainstream culture industry. Its rogue, a loose cannon, its unpredictable and unaccountable. It may be just what we need.

open spike detail

Afterword:
The Cut-Up has been shortlisted for the 2010 NEM Art Award and will be shown at the NEM Summit in Barcelona from 13th – 15th October. Thanks to Jeff Knowles and everyone at Research Studios for providing the images for this article and content for The Cut-Up.


Lupen Crook and the Murderbirds by Faye West.

As I approach the North London pub where I’ve agreed to meet Lupen Crook, viagra I’m surprised to find that he’s already there, sitting quietly at a table outside. He greets me politely and offers to buy me a drink. Not quite what I was expecting from the self-confessed “unmanageable” Crook, but then the 28-year old singer-songwriter and artist is a slightly different proposition these days. Having spent a couple of years out in the cold after an acrimonious split with his record company, Crook has returned with easily his best work to date, entirely self funded and released on his own Beast Reality Records. And whereas he used to stalk the unlovely streets of the Medway Towns in Kent, Crook has now moved to London and developed a muscular sound to match.

Recorded with his band, the Murderbirds, Crook’s eagerly awaited third album, The Pros and Cons of Eating Out, is a vaudevillian trip through the dark recesses of his vision of the “Dysunited Kingdom”. But the melodrama of old has been replaced by real drama, and instead of lyrics about toilet abortions and shaken baby syndrome comes beautifully crafted wordplay, with beguiling references to Enoch Powell and Schrödinger’s Cat. From the Love Cats-esque Lest We Connect through the Russian Cossack stomp of How to Murder Birds to the sub-low synth powered Scissor Kick, the genre-confounding album is the band’s most fully realised and accessible work to date. But in case anyone’s thinking that Lupen Crook has gone all mature on us, one look at the harlot-embarrassing hand painted album cover should reassure fans that the band shows no signs of pandering to the mainstream just yet.

Over the summer you played to big crowds at the Latitude and Wireless festivals and your new album is more accessible than some of your past releases. Do you think the band has the potential to cross over to mass audiences?
There’s been no conscious effort to make our music more acceptable to people at all – in fact we’re celebrating the freedom to do exactly what we want more than ever. But we’re not shutting ourselves off to the possibility of reaching wider audiences. We’re more comfortable in our own skin now and stronger for it, and with that maybe comes a wider appreciation. I feel like people generally are treated like idiots – like they’re not intelligent enough or emotionally deep enough to be able to understand anything further than just really crap music. And I think, well, if you actually give people the chance, there’s a whole wealth of brilliant music that would actually make them feel a hell of a lot better about themselves and that they’d enjoy.

Having released your first two albums on the independent Tap n Tin Records, you’re now setting an example for how bands can function as the industry changes, by being completely self funded and releasing your new album on your own label, Beast Reality.
Back when we were recording our second album Iscariot the Ladder, I’d always had this idea of Beast Reality Records – it’s always the daydream that you can release off your own record label. After our contract ended we recorded this album and thought “Right, how are we going to release this?” We had interest from labels and we considered it, but, as everyone knows, the industry’s fucked at the moment and, no disrespect to any of the labels, when we actually got through the door and started talking with them, we thought, well what are we actually getting from a record company? We’d financed and produced the album ourselves, so all we’d be getting from them would be manufacture and distribution.


Lupen Crook by Faye West.

Do you feel like musicians are, in a sense, starting to get their revenge on the more exploitative elements of the industry?
The music industry’s being returned back to the people who are actually creating the music, and now it’s up to them how they want to do it. One of the good things about the self-release aspect is that it can keep up with the amount of material we want to release. Industry people have this thing of “you can’t release too much”, but the whole thing with Beast Reality will be to get material out as much as possible – I’d like to be looking at two to three EPs and an album a year.

In the early days you were courted by the NME and were in the NME Cool List in 2005, but this always seemed to be at odds with what you were about.
It completely threw me – it made me retreat hugely. For one thing, the song on that CD [First single Lucky 6 was included on a free CD with the NME] opened my music up to so many people. But I was a far more insecure person back then and I didn’t have my gang and my band around me. I’m never sure how much I suffered from all that – I think to a certain extent it was good, but on the other hand it was a bit of a diversion. But I’ve got no regrets, it was just something that happened and was, quite frankly, out of my control.

Your music is often described in the press as alt-folk, and you describe it as “fight folk”. What does the work “folk” mean to you in terms of music?
Folk means people – it’s peasant music. I don’t think folk music is anything to do with “the fox ran over the moon in the pale night sky” and all of that traditional stuff – I don’t really care about tradition. It’s storytelling – but then at the same time I think we’re a punk rock band really. I like fight folk because it’s got that storytelling aspect to it but also it’s sort of aggressive and I think that’s kind of who we are as individuals.

In recent times the Medway Towns have become known as a kind of hotbed of creative talent, and you’ve often been portrayed as being very much rooted in the area, in the same way that Billy Childish is. Why did you recently choose to move to London?
I’d been in Medway for too long and needed to get out. I feel there’s always the potential for something brilliant to happen there but everyone and everything, and this is why I love it, has turned really feral. To say there’s a scene there is bollocks but to say it’s got the potential for loads of great bands is definitely true. It comes in fits and bursts. There are occasions when everyone decides to get their shit together and not sit in their bedsits drinking and smoking, and when they do actually make the effort, it’s great – there’s something really thriving and exciting, but it never maintains itself because there isn’t really the opportunity for it to go anywhere outside of Medway. I moved to London because I’d walked down every alleyway, I’d drunk in every bar and I’d kind of done it all. Medway will trap you – it’s in a valley – but you can really lose yourself in London.

Your music has lots of references to Catholicism and religion – the song Scissor Kick from the new album talks about “a sprained cath-aholic”. In light of the controversy over the Pope’s recent visit to Britain, what does Catholicism mean to you and how does it feed into your music?
I was brought up with it and it’s in me. I’m very much a Catholic but I absolutely detest Catholicism quite frankly. I just think it’s really outdated and so irrelevant to anything. I think you should have faith – but faith in yourself, almost like individualism – you don’t need a God. I don’t reject everything to do with Catholicism, but I don’t see the point in an organised religion. There’s so many people of a certain generation who still sort of feel this guilt for certain things – I’m completely stricken with catholic guilt and it’s terrible.

Your music has always been hard to categorise and it’s sometimes difficult to detect your immediate influences. What bands or artists have had an influence on you musically?
Someone told me there’s a theory that the interests and experiences you have when you’re around eight years old go on to form the core of the person that you become. When I was eight I used to make little recordings, multi-tracking my Dad’s guitar and my Casio keyboard, and I started a band with the kids down the road, and in a weird way I haven’t actually progressed since I was eight years old – I’m doing the same thing, which actually makes me happy. At that age I was listening to AC/DC, Bon Scott era, and my school uniform, with the shorts, was the same as what Angus Young wore on stage. And Bon Scott was singing songs about sex and fighting and everything that my teachers and parents would detest, which is why my band was called Devil’s Disciples – completely like “I’m gonna piss you lot off”. Then when I was about nine my babysitter brought a compilation tape round with Carter USM on and I just fell in love with it. I think they influenced my lyrics quite a lot – Carter USM’s really down-to-earth wordplay with Bon Scott’s love of the three basics – sex, drugs and rock and roll.

You mention you’ve been playing in bands from a very early age. Has this always been what you’ve wanted to do?
It’s not even a case of that I wanted to do it from an early age – it’s what I decided to do. There’s only been one time in my life when I seriously considered giving up music and just leading a normal life. It was after I broke up my last band and I just packed it in and had a job delivering parcels in a van. I still used to bring my guitar with me in the van so I could play it when I was waiting for deliveries or whatever, and then one day my boss saw it and said, “What’s that?” He said “Look, you make your choice now. You can dick about on the guitar or you can be a parcel delivery man” and I just had this moment of clarity and quit. Then on my way home I got a phone call from my girlfriend saying that Tap n Tin Records wanted to sign me and that was that.

You’ve spoken in the past about having schizoaffective disorder, and last year you released The Curse of the Mirror Wicked EP to help publicise the YoungMinds mental health charity. Does this feed into your creativity?
It’s hard to tell. The way I’ve learnt to understand it, in a crude way, is that it’s somewhere between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I got told by a doctor when I was 19 that my obsession with music was actually making me more ill, and at certain moments in the past I’ve thought maybe they’re right, that it is a weird obsession. It’s kind of like a chicken and egg situation. But generally I think; I’ve made my bed and I’m lying in it. I have the occasional wonky period, but I feel lucky that I’m in a position where it’s kind of easier to live with than it might be for other people – because I don’t do a nine-to-five job and I get to write songs and paint pictures.

You make music, and also artwork, under the name Lupen Crook. Is this a character or is this really you?
I’ve always played around with names and I’ve always needed that. All my friends call me Mosh – that’s what I’ve been called since I was eight years old and I refused to be called anything other than that, even by teachers and my parents. I even called myself Jilted Jack Cann for a few years when I was in my last band, Bonzai Reservoir. Lupen Crook started off as a character idea, and now I kind of am that person. Names are almost nothing and everything, aren’t they? I’ve always liked the idea that you can set aside what you were before and, not invent a new persona, but find other perspectives within yourself to say “I’m not that person anymore, I’m this person now”, and that’s what I did with Lupen Crook.

“Right, home time”, says Crook, and with that, he disappears into the night. As I’m leaving, I’m struck by something he said: “I was a writer before I was a father and I was a writer before I was a husband. If I lost everything in the world, I’d still be a writer, because that’s the most important thing – to communicate, even if it’s just to myself.”

The Pros and Cons of Eating Out is released on October 4th on Beast Reality.

quijote POSADA
Quijote, salve inspired by the story of Don Quijote de la Mancha .

The Mexican culture I’ve become accustomed to is a mix of electric pinks and bright rainbow colours… everywhere… so when I first saw an artesan print of the Quijote it really made an impression. Firstly because it’s black and white, prescription refreshing in it’s simplicity. And then there’s the subject matter: skeletons, perceived by some as a taboo image. But it’s also amusing; a crazy faced skeleton riding a galloping skeleton horse, knocking little skeletons over as it goes. As an English citizen of Mexico I hadn´t come across many skeletons back home except on pirate flags, but here they are intergrated into the culture. The Day of the Dead ceremony on November 1st and 2nd each year features Posada´s lovely lady skeleton Catrina.

2. Catrina
Catrina

The Aztecs, Toltecs and Maya Cultures made skull racks to display their prowess and years later in New Spain the crown put the heads of rebels on cages in public plazas. Even today the drugs cartels leave heads lying in the streets. La Santa Muerte, or the Saint of Death, is a relatively new deity in this surreal culture and is venerated mainly amongst the lower classes of México City and many of the México US Border states, coincidently the most violent states today because of the drug wars.

José Guadalupe Posada was a master engraver and lithographisist born in Aguascalientes, Mexico in 1852. He lived in the beginning stages of massive media communication as we know it today. Telegraph, telephone, locomotive and mass print of magazines and newspapers were all introduced and intergrated into a society on the tip of a revolution. Many of Posada´s prints are visual documents of a dramatic epoch in Mexican History and his work reflects the social, political and cultural spirit of the day.

 El Chinchunchan
El Chinchunchan

La Cubanita
La Cubanita

Through his newspaper and magazine prints, posters, leaflets, advertising and books, he created a window into society. Posada, a Sensationalist, told the stories of the heroes and villians, the poor and the rich, devils and the innocents of the times.

El Purgatorio
El Purgatorio

Miserias Humanas
Miserias Humanas

Mundo Insólito
Mundo Insólito

He documented many events, natural catastrophies, strange phenomenon, magical happenings, crimes commited by all classes, scandals, legends and religion… stories of passion, glory, romance, misery, celebration and death. The kind of sensational stories that we still see today in tabloids and magazines.

Viva Mexico
Viva Mexico

The Virgin Guadalupe
The Virgin Guadalupe

He captured the real Mexico with prints of revolutionaries, the hard working landless men and their fight for freedom and victory in 1910 and the reaction to the assassination of their courageous leader, Emiliano Zapata.

Revolutionaries in Battle
Revolutionaries in Battle

Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata

Of all Posada´s prints the ones I find the most striking are those of the ‘calaveras’ (or skulls), which seem to be the opposite of his political, social and cultural work. They are impersonal, representing the reality of life for the majority of the population. Posada said, “democracy, so what, at the end of it all, blonde, brown, rich or poor, all people end up being a skeleton.” Although Posada´s work dealt with misfortunate situations of the time his sensationalist stance transforms them into something quite comical today. The skeletons, dancing, drinking, singing, playing – they have all kicked the bucket and yet they are still getting on with it just like the rest of us.

Gran Fandango y Francachela
Gran Fandango y Francachela.

The opening of the new and improved exhibition space of Jose Guadalupe Posada’s work was held this 27th September 2010 in Museo Posada, Aguascalientes, Mexico. One of the tasks of my team at Media Educativa was to create an animation from the artist’s first ever engraving, the Quijote and it was brilliant fun to make Posada´s images come to life. The opening ceremony was attended by rich country folk, the governor and the modernist painter and sculptor Jose Luis Cuevas, whose gorgeous prints are now on show in the temporary gallery. Everyone drank mezcal, the local cactus tipple, an apt drink to celebrate the legacy of Posada.

Genio de la Estampa
Genio de la Estampa

All images courtesy of Museo Posada, Aguascalientes, Mexico.

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