Georgebinning's Blog

The Foul Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

Posted in music and art, Spoonfed by georgebinning on May 9, 2011

With Kate MacGarry’s departure to Shoreditch leaving Wilkinson as Vyner Street’s only ‘original’ art space, there were worries over the future of the Bethnal Green art scene. Thankfully it looks like newcomer Matt Roberts may be spearheading the new generation, at least if the current exhibition, The Foul Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart, is anything to go by.

Julie Cockburn

Julie Cockburn – The Little One

Julie Cockburn

Julie Cockburn – The Adulter

Here, Julie Cockburn’s found and altered photographs and paintings are like fireworks on the wall. The stiff portraits have been delicately sliced and rearranged into geometric explosions, sometimes with eye-watering symmetry, sometimes angry chaos. In doing so she reorganises the unknown subjects’ poised projections of self into images they could not control. The Little One and The Adulterer are noteworthy examples of this trait.

Cockburn lets the pictures sit in her studio for a while after finding them, “in order to get to know them,” she says. Once they are familiar she attempts to bring out what she sees in them. The results are brilliant, grab you immediately and hold you for a long time.

As well as these ingeniously divided portraits, Cockburn exhibits found portrait photos with the sitters encased in geometric, three-dimensional frames sown in vibrant thread onto the picture. The young ladies of another time are suddenly confined, but by something that isn’t quite real on their plane of existence, something that comes later. I particularly remember the lady of In Yellow gazing wistfully out of her extraordinary scaffold.

Julie Cockburn

Julie Cockburn – In Yellow

Having originally trained as a sculptor Cockburn says that she originally felt a compulsion to add a new dimension to these static images, and it almost makes more sense to view her work as sculpture.

One potential criticism about geometric works is that they’re almost, by definition, bound to be aesthetically pleasing. Proportion is the conventional measure of beauty, so in its barest form it’s quite a safe bet. Nonetheless there is more to Cockburn’s work than just pattern – and it would be unfair and unwise to sincerely slander geometric perfection.

The Foul Rag and Bone Shop is a commendable exhibition, enjoyable and accessible. It also fills me with confidence to see that all the work on show is very new, and has not been dragged exhaustively around numerous galleries. It looks like there’s hope for Vyner Street yet.

The Foul Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart is at Matt Roberts Arts until 28th May 2011.

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William Corwin at George and Jørgen

Posted in music and art, Spoonfed by georgebinning on March 21, 2011
Photos: George Binning

William Corwin – The Last Judgement (2011)

Extremely abstract installation work can be a tough beast to grapple with, but, well conceived, common themes and meanings can always emerge. This is very much the case as New York sculptor William Corwin holds his first London show under the title alans wood at George and Jørgen Gallery this month. The exhibition consists of two site-specific installations and a small collection of drawings and sculptures.

At first it’s hard to know what to make of all the crude shelves and boxes that stick out of the walls, but Corwin’s artwork slowly reveals a witty commentary on our habits of categorising and containing concepts in arbitrary ways.

The Last Judgement, which dominates most of the space, is based on the mosaic in the Cathedral of St Maria in Torcello, Venice. The original mural divides humanity into neat little compartments with the trinity and the angels above, then the saints, mortals and at the bottom, sinners. Corwin has constructed a similarly composed set of shelves, upon which he imposes his personal hierarchy of building materials: at the top, his divine plaster board, followed by uncut stone, geometrically moulded plaster, and then hand-painted rubble at the bottom. He says that this hierarchy is irrelevant, or at least impenetrable, as it means something only to him.

Corwin’s drawing also parodies man’s tendency to catalogue. His sketches record types of cloud, each one outlined by a square box, with overlaid Rorschach blots. The overlapping of these nebulous forms highlights the subjectivity of interpretation. “I’m sure these cloud types are useful to pilots and meteorologists,” Corwin explains, “but when you look up at the sky you see a cloud that maybe looks like a bus, or a train. Similarly you might see anything in a Rorschach blot, but on the back of the card it says that if you see an axe then you’re mental.”

Clearly the human instinct to find patterns and definitions, even in that which seems to be formless, as in a cloud, crowd or ink blot, is of great amusement to Corwin. The bureaucracy of both science and religion is made to look silly and awkward by his work. Diet of Worms sticks out into the centre of the room and The Last Judgement partitions off the empty back of the gallery like a rood screen in a church. The result is that gallery-goers have to navigate through awkward spaces and end up hemmed into the front of the room. Because there is nothing on the other side of The Last Judgement, that space is left uninhabited, and the viewers find themselves boxed in alongside the rest of the compartmentalised artwork. This very literal experience of partitioning mirrors the overall point that Corwin seems to be making.

Both George and Jørgen seem to have really enjoyed the show, partly because they helped to build a significant amount of the installations. George tells me that he finds the contrast with their last show particularly refreshing, and he’s pleased to see his small contribution on display. As a viewer, I too am enthused by their participation, and would recommend a peek if you come by. It may take some time to get the joke, but when you do, it more than rewards the effort.

William Corwin – alans wood is at George and Jørgen until 2nd April 2011.

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‘Pataphors at Islington Arts Factory

Posted in music and art, Spoonfed by georgebinning on February 15, 2011

Is your capacity for abstract thought sitting around collecting dust and getting fat? Try ‘pataphysics and ‘pataphors, when the meta-dimension is just too straightforward.

Watith Tangjai

Watith Tangjai – Slide(2010), B&W Photograph

Though there is no single, or real, definition, ‘pataphysics is generally considered as an attempt, or series of attempts, to study the realm that lies beyond metaphysics. At two removes therefore from ‘reality’, ‘pataphysics quickly follows into a quagmire of Dadaist science and preposterous art, largely inspired by the writings of Alfred Jarry. Imagine, if it helps at all, that the rule is merely the exception to the exception. Or just stand in a bucket of cheese playing the saxophone.

‘Pataphors is the theme chosen by seventeen PG Diploma (Fine Arts) students from the Byam Shaw School of Art for their exhibition this February at the Islington Art Factory. Curated by Inês Teles, ‘Pataphors sees the group seek to explore the relationship between a chosen extract of text and a piece of art, ‘pataphorically born from that text. As you’d expect there’s a huge selection of text on show, and a huge range of artwork. Ryan Adams lyrics, cardiovascular studies, Calvin and Hobbes, TS Elliot and Foucault all provide the basis for ‘pataphoric connections.

Jenny Lewis’ hilarious creation stems from the boast ‘See how it runs’ made on the side of her Cerebos table salt, illustrated with a picture of a boy chasing a chicken (of course). The salt pot is suspended on a pulley of twisted string, whilst the other end attached to an umbrella with a rubber chicken hanging from the handle. As the salt gently runs out onto the umbrella, the pulley system pulls the umbrella down and the salt up. The system twirls around until it slowly comes to rest, we see the salt run, and the experiment is complete – absurd and scientific that it is.

A heart of lard is the conclusion drawn by Hannah Ross from The Framingham Heart Study into cardiovascular mortality. The massive, squashy fat valve seems to have been flambéd like a crème brule, and I don’t believe even the NHS could come up with a more revolting health campaign.

Another, less obvious, highlight is Watith Tangjai’s modest series of nine square photographs. The accompanying William Blake quotation – “The child’s toy and the old man’s reasons are the fruits of the two seasons” – offsets a serene study of an incomplete climbing frame, photographed from illusory angles and interacting with its own shadow. Tangjai says he’s fascinated by the way this surreal object can be used as a plaything by the old and young, and that the way one plays changes over time.

In this case Tangjai says he’d created the work first, then chosen a piece of text to illustrate what he’d made. Similarly Teles tells me the group were firstly interested in the relationship between image and text, then settling on ‘pataphors afterwards. It seems therefore that some of these artists have found the answer before asking the question. But is this actually a problem? In this philosophy of imagined solutions, perhaps this is an example some kind of ‘pata-quantum? After all, ‘phataphysicists assert that every wrong answer is as valid as the right one, and could very well precede the question.

Don’t think for a moment that I completely understand what I’m talking about – I don’t think I’m supposed to. But make the trip to the Islington Arts factory anyway and, if only for an hour, get lost in an ocean of imagined imaginings.

‘Pataphors is at Islington Arts Factory until 18th February 2011

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D&B Arena Awards Results

Posted in music and art, Spoonfed by georgebinning on December 3, 2010

It doesn’t feel quite right, lounging in the splendour of the Clapham Grand watching the 2010 Drum and Bass Arena Awards being dished out. It’s not our ill gotten box seats that make me feel uneasy, it’s the fact that this ceremony exists at all. Of course a heap of award-worthy work is produced in the field, but it’s a bit like giving awards for the most anarchistic punk music: it just makes the whole thing seem a bit, well, institutionalised.

But why not throw a fantastic party to celebrate how well you’ve done? There’s no point grumbling. Reaps One set the night off with a booming ‘schweghfwshhh’, he is the best dnb beatboxer, maybe the best beatboxer I’ve ever seen. Then the came prizes, presenters, speeches and the general daisy-chaining that comes with such events. I felt a little sorry for Radio One’s Nihal and Jemma Bolt, who had to stand on stage blethering and shuffling nervously whilst everyone else had a raucous time and paid absolutely no attention to them at all. Netsky, who picked up best new producer and best album, was also completely incomprehensible when he took the microphone. “I’m a DJ: no good with words.” he said afterwards, “But really happy tonight.”

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was Jenna G’s flawless performance following the ceremony. Pitch perfect, resonant, charming and beautiful, she seemed to be having a ball both on and off stage. I’m not afraid to admit that for that night only, I developed quite a school-boy crush on Miss G.

Another big winner of the night was Hospital founder and London Elektricity DJ Tony Colman, Hospital won best Label while Hospitality scooped best event and best promoter. Grinning from ear to ear he told me that he had threatened to kill someone when the organisers insisted on playing half an hour of pop and house immediately after Jenna, but to no avail.

The man responsible for this thirty minute assault turned out to be former DMC Champion DJ Blakey, who actually played a pretty good set after the initial wobble. I don’t want to dwell on the Jungle institution too much, but “My god. Lobster with beetroot textures, ricotta dumpling and watercress was next level. So so good.” was not what I expected to read on Blakey’s twitter a few hours before the show.

Whilst the awards were dominated largely by a kind of Royal Family of Drum and Bass, a good few other members of the aristocracy had turned up to show their support; Bailey was lurking in the background giving the old, “DnB is here to stay! We love it.” MC Tonn Piper made the trip down from Manchester, giving us a hint of an upcoming project with Sean Ryder. TeeBee made an appearance too, though he wasn’t giving anything away about his next album with Calyx, except that it’s going to be out within a year and big (his words not mine).

Whether you see the point in prizes or not, DnB Arena sure do know how to fill a room with the biggest names in the business, and show them a great time. If you haven’t quite had your fill of awards, tickets for the 2011 National DnB Awards in Birmingham go on sale on December 4th.

And the results are:

Best DJ: Andy C
Best Producer: Noisia
Best MC: Skibadee
Best Newcomer DJ: Camo & Krooked
Best Newcomer MC: Messy MC
Best Newcomer Producer: Netsky
Best Single: Link 2 The Past- Loadstar
Best Label: Hospital
Best Event: Hospitality
Best Promoter: Hospitality
Best Venue: Fabric
Best D&BTV Set: AMC
Best Video: Gold Dust – DJ Fresh

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