Weekly Reader 31

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Photo by Alexander Krack via FeatureShoot

I got to Liverpool last Friday to have a look around the city and to hear a number of the Liverpool Biennial 2016 artists talk at the Bluecoat. Pretty soon I’ll be travelling up to Glasgow, so if you have any suggestions of food spots, galleries, or fancies joining me then drop me a message here or on twitter @jclwilson.

The photo above is by Alexander Krack, from his series The Treatment in which he examined the health practices of German spa towns. It’s an amusing picture to me, seeing a bunch of old people sat on the ubiquitous monoblocs apparently staring at nothing but a damp rock face - a bizarre Plato’s Cave of mild discomfort and dull entertainment.

  • “The act of making a poem – and it is a made thing, like an Assyrian brooch or Bolognese sauce (thus the word makar for ‘poet’ in old Scots) – requires a large set of decisions, at least dozens, more likely hundreds, even in the shortest of poems”. August Kleinzahler, On Hiroaki Sato, in the London Review of Books. Translation between languages and media present, more often than not, failure. The task of conveying something complex in a reduced or alien form while retaining all the enjoyment of the original is strange one to set oneself.
  • “Everything is by touch and by sight. All you should be doing is keeping the blade in contact with the stone. The more even and consistent you are, the more finite of a point the edge is going to come to, and that means a more true edge, or a sharper edge”. How to Sharpen Knives, in Lucky Peach. I got a very nice Richardson Sheffield Sabatier knife for Christmas, but I haven’t used it yet, as I want to learn to sharpen it properly before I ruin it.
  • “The outlines of food are important; it’s spectacular to photograph. Soup is an undulating blobby weight, a foamy liquid volume that happily caresses the sides of any container it might encounter. But it is also prone to splashed dribbles and to pierce it with a fork is impossible”. Helen Marten writes on her influences in Frieze. Marten’s own translation, of influences into works presents a similar understanding of futility, “perhaps desperation lies in continually trying to claw around the edges, to peep behind the screen and see the entrails”.
  • “Amalia Ulman’s social media performance work, displayed as selected stills, magnifies notions of the female identity as an entity presented to the world for scrutiny and criticism. Her Instagram-based work Excellences & Perfections saw the artist create a series of online personae and stage a drawn out performance that “tricked” nigh-on all her followers into thinking she was posting unironic images of herself”. Emily Gosling in It’s Nice That covers Electronic Superhighway at the Whitechapel Gallery. Unfortunately I haven’t yet got down to see the exhibition, but it’s certainly on my list.
  • “Bayard claimed to have invented photography before Daguerre, who received all the credit for the invention. In the photograph, he appears rejected, ignored, sinking without a trace below the high watermark of Daguerre’s fame and fortune. Bayard’s silent protest is probably the earliest, and certainly the greatest, of the first real performances made purely for the camera”. Performing Camera on Aperture.org. The performance of the photographer and the subject, and the staging or apparent repetition of scenes is something I’ve been interested in for the past couple of years.
  • “an elegantly dressed lady puts on her Clarks boots then leaves what appears to be a Parisian apartment; she rides a bicycle with a basket mounted on its handlebars, buys a cake from a patisserie, and then rather smugly eats it on the steps on what is possibly Preston’s Harris Museum and Art Gallery”. Reflections on social class in Preston is My Paris’ photography, by Ruth White. Since their first publication PIMP have been amongst my favourite practitioners, and it’s encouraging to see their work receiving the critical attention it deserves.
  • “There also lots of dystopian artistic views of the world but I think there’s room for the positive. One of the things the arts is about is the power of the imagination, and it feels an entirely appropriate and exciting thing to be doing”. Jeremy Deller on his Utopia flag design currently being flown at Somerset House. I thought that this flag made interesting comparison to James Bridle’s Flag for No Nations that I read recently. While I don’t want to be utterly miserable, or end up fetishising dystopian outlooks, I am wondering how appropriate it is to be flying a smiley face flag from the roof of what used to be the headquarters of the British Empire.