Category Archives: community art

Ceri Hand Summer Fete

Photo (c) Dominic from Luton
Photo (c) Dominic from Luton

The burning question this week is possibly not: ‘What did it feel like to win a 12kg cake at the Ceri Hand Gallery’s Summer Fete?” But that’s what this post is about.

Reader, it felt good. This blogger got a round of applause for a dubious and hitherto untried skill of guessing the weight of baked items. Plus, a tasty cake.

The Victoria sponge took the form of a bust of the eponymous gallery director. It didn’t look too much like Ceri Hand. But it did look folky enough for the spirit of the occasion.

Artist Dominic from Luton (of more here) drummed up plenty of entries. You might not think the bakers he used get too many portrait requests. But still the eyes followed you around . . .

With a 60 mile train journey back to Brighton, an instant division of spoils seemed in order. Impossible to eat one’s way through so much cake at home, not with those eyes.

But the afternoon event was a lot of fun. Another highlight was a tarot reading by John Walter. Got up like an exploded rug factory he dealt out 9 resonant cards.

(So, my fate hinges upon my dealings with one or more powerful women, the Empress and/or the Queen of Blag. Just hope they don’t both turn out to be my mother.)

Nearby Alice and Jasmine from the Glossary of Gestures for Critical Discussion (+ Rachel and Gareth from MoreUtopia) were on hand, pun intended, to talk about their amazng tumblr feed.

There was plenty more to see. In fact, artist Helena Hunter’s eyes were popping out on springs. Her deadpan dance performance, with joke shop accessory, said it all in a way.

But the festival had its darker side. Outside the venue Robert Foster spent the entire afternoon in the stocks. His alleged crime: forgery and impersonation.

Endurance is surely one of the most valuable qualities in art and this much-abused artist had plenty, with fish, tomatoes and eggs bouncing off his cranium all afternoon long.

Finally, there was a dangerous combination of cheap beer and desirable works for sale. At least one was bought by a genuine local, who came back for cake. Now that’s a summer fete!

For a fuller account of the day, you should read Ceri Hand’s round up of everything which took place, including an awesome-sounding fish battle. Read on.

Andrea Slater, If You Can Spass With Yoghurt You Can Spass With Caviar (2012)

Few sights can be as alienating as a group of healthy grown adults spassing out in imitation of the most retarded members of our wider society.

Such scenes are the enduring images of a 1999 film by Lars Von Trier called The Idiots. The Danish director’s community of spass-ers act out one mentally backwards flashmob after another.

Parallels can be drawn with a group art show, such as the one at CAC in Brighton, in which five artists are presented at one remove through a spassed up film by Andrea Slater.

The Idiots du jour, who occupy the subterranean gallery for just four days are, in no order, Mike Stoakes, Huw Bartlett, Daniella Norton, Josh Uvieghara and Lou Allison.

Having been sent works by all of the above, Slater appears to have displayed them in her home, then gone into a spasm of video art.

The camera pans up down and around taking us on a dizzying id-driven gallery tour. We can all spass, like Slater who “saw the banality of her experience and loved it” (cf. gallery notes).

Von Trier’s film provides the soundtrack, with quotations chosen to highlight the Utopian potential of this truly bad taste behaviour.

And as things get nude in Von Trier’s film, so they do when Allison paints direct onto photos of the great and the good, including Sepp Blatter, Pope Benedict XVI, Nick Clegg.

And then there is Stoakes’ collage Would You Adam and Eve It which brings in Massacio to reference the lost paradise. As if Eden was one big spassfest, which perhaps it was.

Paradise is also shortlived at Community Arts Centre, Brighton, since this film, which opened Saturday closes later today (21/11/12).

South London Black Music Archive @ Peckham Space

If we accept the hypothesis that Africa was the cradle of the human race, it follows that black music predates the invention of the archive.

Yet one of the most compelling aspects of the show at Peckham space is the newness of the exhibits: a Fugees t-shirt, a Cookie Crew album, an Amy Winehouse doll.

The past few decades are the blink of an eye compared with the estimated 50,000 to 100,000 years which have passed since the emergence of homo sapiens.

And not even the ancient Greek origins of archiving seem very ancient compared with that. The word comes from arkheion, which was a house of public records.

One learns from Archive Fever by Jacques Derrida that the arkheion was inhabited by a caste of lawgivers known as the archons. So archives have their roots in law and order.

Ever one for a spot of wordplay, the French writer goes on to flag up the derived Latin word arca, which would be a chest containing stone tablets.

Although not quite bearing the weight of chiselled stone, Barby Asante’s show in Peckham does boast a meticulous and fairly gravitational cataloguing system.

It’s best not to explore much further here the differential meanings of arca, which comes to stand for a cupboard, a coffin, a prison cell, a cistern or reservoir.

But aside from the dusty world of entymology, the title of this show surely resonates with the legendary studios of dub producer Lee Scratch Perry, the Black Ark.

Perry’s Ark was certainly in some senses arcane. And if anyone can clue me up any further about the origins of the name of this studio, I’d be grateful.

A Google search reveals dozens of black history archives, only not so many devoted to music. The art form is not an easy one to seal up via folder, file card, or box.

South London Black Music Archive can be found at Peckham Space until March 24. See gallery website for more details. I have also reviewed this show for Culture24.