Monday, 16 September 2013

Art, liquor, laughs and boxes of tears.

It's been a big week. Some art. Some liquor. Some laughs. Some boxes. Some tears.

Basically in that order.

On Thursday we organised an art tour for a crowd of 16 to 25 year olds to visit the new Artangel Commission near Goodge St. I have a bit of a professional crush on Artangel and the work they do, which is ostensibly commissioning contemporary artists to make site-specific works in non-traditional art spaces. The Roger Hiorns I dragged Lovely Boy to see a few years ago was one of theirs, as is the tug boat currently parked atop the Royal Festival Hall on Southbank.

Image courtesy: Southbank Centre

My first encounter with them came courtesy of a documentary screened as part of my under-grad degree of Michael Landy's epic performance-installation Breakdown, where he systematically inventoried and then destroyed his possessions. All 7,227 of them. Everything but the boiler suit he wore throughout the entire two week public spectacle. Twelve years later and it's still the most devastating, brilliant and challenging comment on material consumption and identity construction I've ever encountered.

Michael Landy, Breakdown, 2001.
Anyway their latest commission is by Israeli-British sculptor Daniel Silver, called Dig, and it takes over a languishing construction site in the middle of central London where an old cinema used to stand and where luxury flats will probably soon sprout. Interested in psychoanalysis and Freud's own collection of artefacts that he used to keep in his consulting rooms in north London, Silver has imagined an otherworldly archaeological dig site full of strange totemic sculptures emerging from the mud and a collection of 'retrieved' artefacts whose heritage and significance is unknown, but for their sheer quantity.

Daniel Silver, Dig, 2013

As with a lot of Artangel commissions, much of the work's potency comes from the immediate environment, in this case a grim construction site with exposed steel cables, duck boards and concrete platforms. There are lots of curious ideas to pursue in the work - the suggestiveness of the title, both literally and metaphorically and the fact that, as recent stories about the Crossrail Tunnel project digging up 14th century mass graves from the black death plague show, it's not beyond the realms of possibility to unearth strange things in London.

I managed to organise a talk from Artangel's Director James Lingwood, which was amazing, though I spent most of it distracted by teenage boys throwing peanut M&Ms. I'm not sure I'll get back there again before we go but I'm really glad I managed to wing a visit under the auspices of work.

On Friday I went for dinner and drinks with friends from said work - a bit of a pre-emptive farewell at the Pelican in Peckham. I am so absolutely not looking forward to leaving or saying goodbye - even typing it brings an involuntary wobble to my chin - so we've come across the idea of multiple farewells to soften the final blow. Which, given that I drank a bottle of wine and then cried in front of everyone, may or may not have been the smartest plan.

Three bottles of wine and all things lead to... cake.
I feel so lucky to have developed such genuinely lovely friendships with my colleagues and am going to miss them terribly. Though I won't miss the hangover. Before the wine came a cocktail and afterwards came three gin and tonics before a night bus and a cab home in the rain. Oops.

Even with a hangover I was able to covet these windows
in the studio of a graphic designer in Clerkenwell
The hangover meant working on Saturday hurt A LOT and by the time I met Lovely Boy in central London in the late afternoon I was bilious, exhausted and several tads emotional. Rather than coming home, having a hot bath, a cry and an early night, we instead went to BBC Broadcasting House. I won tickets a couple of weeks ago to a live recording of 'Meet David Sedaris' for Radio 4 and really had no idea what to expect from a radio show but, unsurprisingly, it was fucking hilarious. A really brilliant night out and I love Sedaris even more now, if that's even possible.

BBC Broadcasting House
And then today, I started packing. While I was off battling a hangover at work, LB was at home taking delivery of all our boxes. I'm not sure how I feel about this very visible start to the end but Lovely Boy left me to it, sensing, rightly, that I needed some time on my own to help soothe some of the crazier thoughts coursing through my brain at this particular life junction.

It has to be said that there is something quite cathartic about the rituals of sorting and chucking and packing. And it's impossible not to get nostalgic and occasionally melancholy when you read back through all the birthday and Christmas cards sent to you by a still-much missed grandmother. I may have cried. Again.

Pulling out all the exhibition guides and catalogues and notes from all the many hundreds of shows I've seen (never mind the essays I wrote, the photos I took, the ticket stubs I kept) was like expanding the bellows of an accordion to full length, where the accordion is my London life and all the creases and concertinas and notes are the small details and experiences that will inevitably be lost to time and the grander narratives of this totally epic, genuinely life-changing experience.

Five years is a long time - I have boxes of shit to prove it - and this weekend is just the beginning of the tears. So I best not pack the tissues.

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