Skull 1

Apologies to all as it has been a while since my last post. Much has changed since I was last informing you of something irrelevant that I, at least found interesting. However I will save you the details at this time.

Back to the review, and the most recent exhibition to get me out of my four walls was Richard Haris’s ‘Death: A Self-Portrait’ at Euston’s Welcome Gallery.

The exhibition consists of around 300 pieces of art, sculpture, animation that is devoted to attitudes surrounding death and our complex & contradictory attitudes towards the theme.

The exhibition is divided into five categories:

Room 1 – Contemplating Death: The contemplation of morality and our views around it. Images of skulls combined with the theme of time are prominent in this room to reconcile us with morality and condemn morality
Room 2 – The Dance of Death: The universal certainty of death, regardless of social status. The world has periodically suffered war, famine and disease and death provides the ultimate leveler. Skeletons alongside humans highlight the frailty of man with dark humorous overtones prevailing.

Skel 2

Room 3 – Violent Death: The question this room asks is whether art can provide aesthetically pleasing work about violent death and the damage of war to body & souls. The pieces on show act as anti-war messages highlighting the damage caused.
Room 4 – Eros & Thanatos: This room questions people’s fascination with disturbing or morbid phenomena cannot be attributed to scientific curiosity. There is a strong connection with living subjects alongside skulls and skeletons.
Room 5 – Commemoration: Rituals associated with death, burial and mourning have transformed over centuries and across cultures. This room highlights the populist subject has integrated into modern culture and commercialism.

Skull2

Although a little macabre for most tastes, the exhibition is thought provoking and highlights how societies view on death and morality have become heavily desensitised. There is a dark humored undercurrent that ensures the exhibition flows from theme to theme and isn’t too morbid. Overall a great exhibition and well worth a few hours of your time.

Memento Mori

New York Graffiti Pics

Posted: November 2, 2012 in Art, Graffiti, New York
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So, EastCityRat has temporary traveled further afield to the ‘Big Apple’ New York.
Whilst dodging hurricanes, I was able to add some NY graffiti to my UK based posts.

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These two linked into one large piece

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These three despite their delicate appearance are on a correctional facilities wall

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This exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of punk graphic design, surveying imagery produced before, during and after the punk years, and drawing upon previously unseen public and private archives and collections.

Hosted by the Hayward gallery, the exhibition hosts original posters, fanzines and early 7″ records. Rather than the pieces on display, it is the sense of unity and community within the scene that really struck me. All the pressings were hand-drawn, manually photocopied and stapled together, publishers were only considered if the numbers increased to 4 digits. I can envisage the fans at time physically having to travel to buy or trade music, something that has been lost since the Internet and MP3.

The music industry has changed, and although file sharing sites are technically a larger scale version of trading cassettes (remember them?), I can’t help but feel the soul of the industry has been lost. Whether punk is your choice of music or not, I really recommend seeing the exhibition if only to understand how the scene at the time was worth so much more than just the music

Arriving at the Natural History Museum’s entrance always ignites the ‘butterflies’ in my stomach. I revert to memories of heading straight to the dinosaurs, before dragging myself away to see the latest exhibition I came for.

The latest excuse for my journey was Gunther von Hagen and his ‘BODY WORKS’ team, who use plastination to dissect various animals to highlight what organs, bones & ligaments allow animals to swim, fly, leap etc.

The exhibition varies from a stunning Indian elephant to a small 10cm frog. Some are in pure skeletal form others like a huge squid receive the ‘Damien Hirst’ treatment, and are cleanly sliced through exposing the organs and mechanisms that allows it draw in excess water through its gills, before expelling it to allow projection at speed to hunt or escape danger. There are too many animals to describe them all, so I have covered a few personal highlights.

We are immediately presented with an 8-10ft shark, its bright red nerves & fibres echoing the crimson of its various victims during its lifetime. It’s huge liver lies underneath, formally representing up to 40% of its living body weight. The cold glare of its eyes seem to follow you, with its jagged teeth still on show. There is still the unnerving feeling of being watched

The section dedicated to mammals is what will gain the greatest attention with an adult giraffe and gorilla on show. A combination of skin and fatty tissue removed to showcase the inner complexities of the animals. The giant Indian elephant in particular is the ‘show stopper’.

(I wasn’t able to sneak a picture of this)

In addition to the elephants dissection, the reconstruction purposefully provides amplified space through the fastenings to allow a greater view deeper into the animal. A brain previously belonging to the animal lies next to it (the same weight as an average baby), with its nerve endings on show. The scale of the mammal itself is something, but revealing its inner ‘mechanisms’ provides a greater appreciation.

The only possible criticism is the lack of narration. Other than a couple of sentences upon entry there is little explanation why the animals have been put on show or further insight into the plastination process. However, anyone with a keen interest in nature should take the time to go and visit (there is always a T-Rex in the next hall if it’s not for you).

Brighton Graffiti

Posted: May 2, 2012 in Art, Graffiti
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During a weekend visit to Brighton I had to stop and take a few pics of amazing graffiti down a few side roads. I actually have to thank @teaandchocs who braved the rain to take them with her iPhone (while I was hiding under shelter).

A few pieces all close together (wish I had taken the road name down)

Who would have thought that Run DMC would make an appearance

Dark side of the Smurf’s

Since a temporary move out from my favoured East End, I have to admit that I have struggled to get back there as often as I had initially hoped. There was a brief visit that involved various local bars… but that’s another story.

Whitechapel Gallery however proved too tempting to dismiss. Gillian Wearing’s film and photography exhibition has been available for view since March so I had little excuse.

The exhibitions underlining theme is the exploration of public personas and private lives. After walking into Gallery 1, you are presented with a small screen video of Wearing dancing in the centre of a shopping centre with no music and unaware of the public reactions around her.

I then caught the last few moments of 2010’s video ‘Bully’. An extremely powerful piece where a group of actors are directed to replay a scenario from the directors past. The line between acting and experience blur as the director ends the video aggressively berating the bullies and showing his disgust for the group that just stood and watched as he was victimised. The piece closes with the director in genuine tears, in which might have been his first release since the experience happened.

There are also lighter, but equally engaging pieces to view. 1992’s photography piece entitled ‘Signs that say what you want them to say, and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say’, provides a blank page and marker for strangers to write their thoughts and views. A simple piece that offers an insight into how people’s focus and concerns at the time haven’t changed dramatically compared to today, financial worries, war, racism and governments all included.

There are several other pieces, sharing the theme of public/private perception. Confess All On Video. Don’t Worry, You Will Be In Disguise. Intrigue? Is another darker piece that provides the volunteers the opportunity to confess their secrets of their past behind the safety of a mask. Although I read most of the transcripts rather than watched the videos they will equally moving.

Overall, although not always easy to sit through, the exhibition is powerful and one that I would recommend.

David Shrigley is currently occupying the Hayward Gallery, Southbank. The exhibition consists of Shrigley’s drawings, hand written texts partnered alongside sculptures, photography, animated films, neon signs and music. The work consists of his early pieces from the mid 1990’s to especially commissioned work for this showing. 

‘Brain Activity’ like all Shrigley’s work, humorous and often makes the viewer laugh out loud. However, to dismiss his work purely as a one-liner or a quick laugh will not do it justice. He also twists everyday scenarios into darker situations with a deathly & violent theme.

The work needs to be seen to fully be appreciated, however I hope a few sneaky pictures that I had taken for me provide an insight into what to expect. Brain Activity closes on May 13th so get down there before it finishes… There is even a dead rat on display!

Do Not Linger At The Gate

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Roof Sculptures

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Drawings & Hand Written

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Family

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