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A few words a week on Art and Life In London

You worry and wonder this week about the value of your experience and your contributions. Summer school teaching is going well, as ever, the students are enthusiastic about learning art history using London’s many wonderful museums. You too get inspired, re-energised by art and history and the questions and conversations they provoke about society and the present. You finished teaching yesterday evening in St James’ Park with a little seminar in the dappled light beneath a a London Plane tree. A group of students from Japan, Italy and China were discussing questions based on a recent visit to the V&A; questions regarding Beauty and Purpose, the Purpose of Beauty and the Beauty of Purpose no less.

In the afternoon you’d jogged them around the National Gallery, starting with Robert Venturi’s arch postmodern Sainsbury Wing extension after briefly glossing Hans Haacke’s witty contribution to the Fourth Plinth outside in Trafalgar Square…

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A few words a week on Art and Life In London

Well, here you are in Rome. Thanks to some great colleagues at Central St Martins UAL you have been invited to contribute to a conference in which ideas from history, archaeology, technology, fine art and philosophy search for common ground or exchange ideas in an interdisciplinary way.

You have had a long, tiring but wonderful day already, yesterday, and this morning you gave what academics call a ‘paper’ to contribute to a day-long symposium.

A couple of weeks ago you blogged in such a way that you ‘killed two birds with one stone’ and you think you are going to do that again today. The reason is that you are again again a bit nervous about the ‘paper’ you are going to give and you can use the blog as a kind of rehearsal, to see how it feels to an imagined audience.

 It’s strange perhaps how, after teaching successfully…

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A few words a week on Art and Life In London

The Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank
The Southbank’s utopian public spaces, as completed in 1968. Looking East towards The Hayward Gallery. St Pauls Cathedral in the distance.

Today, just outside the Southbank’s Hayward Gallery, and as part of the ‘Mirror City – London Artists On Fiction And Reality’ exhibition, London-based art group Lucky PDF have parked a VW Transporter van with a large LG screen installed and the side door thrown wide open. Anyone can enter, sit, and watch their video ‘How To Leave London’ (2014) without paying the entrance fee for the rest of the show. Thus Lucky PDF nimbly operate as part of a major institutional exhibition while remaining marginal to it.

The film is a sprawling series of interviews that takes over an hour to watch. Mostly you see a new generation confidently discussing the pragmatic arrangements that make their survival as artists possible today. We never see or…

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A few words a week on Art and Life In London

The English have an expression. ‘To Kill Two Birds With One Stone.’ As you can’t bear conflicts and often have to rationalize the many things you feel you must do n any particular week this phrase often inspires you to conflate two responsibilities into one and it can feel very satisfactory to do so. This week you have been so busy teaching that you haven’t been to any exhibitions (though you did a ‘crit’ on a wonderful curatorial experiment by a group of Masters students.

The other thing that’s been on your mind is the fact that you have to give what academics call ‘a paper’ at a conference on photography this weekend (here is the link: , and, in truth, you haven’t completed writing it, in fact you have about 8,000 words of relatively unformed ideas when what you really should have is about 3,0000 words of a…

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///Tororé ///


Yo tenía esos años de la adolescencia cuando saqué de los estantes de mi mamá Las venas abiertas de América Latina. Ese libro que tiene más sentido si se es adolescente, porque se tienen todos los poros crispados y porque lo que duele te duele de verdad. Y luego vino Memorias del Fuego y yo me enamoré en esos años de Eduardo Galeano. Sí, era cursi cuando hablaba de amor y era cursi cuando hablaba de aquello que duele, de la gente que le duele a uno en la piel, del país que duele y duele. Pero también despertaba en uno ese deseo de justicia imposible, ese deseo utópico de ser mejor gente.

La pucha. Eso ya es mucho.

Y un día, le hice un café a don Galeano, cuando ya el amor adolescente abrió paso a la admiración hacia alguien solidario y entero. Y me sentí hermosa ese día…

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Excellent as always.

A few words a week on Art and Life In London

The October Gallery is one of London’s unique and special art spaces. It has its own identity, not quite purified White Cube its arrangement of spaces and places (including a theatre, a kind of dining area as well as a leafy, open yard) folded away on a Holborn side-street invite the showing and contemplation of contemporary art but also seem to welcome you to sit and get more acquainted with its community.

You first became aware of the gallery when, during the 1990s, and having discovered that your writing was publishable, you decided to focus only on ‘Black and Asian artists in London’, who, at that time, were hard to locate and poorly supported. Then, INiVa (Institute of International Visual Arts) was operating from one office in Whitfield Street, Sonia Boyce and David A. Bailey were tending the AAVA (African & Asian Visual artists Archive) at the University of East…

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It’s so hard to say why a performer speaks to you, isn’t it? When I started my YouTube ballet adventure, armed with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever, everyone I watched seemed equally amazing. Even then, though, there were dancers who astounded me with what they could do with their bodies, but never really drew me in, and others who I found myself re-watching in odd moments on the train, in my lunchbreak, queuing for my coffee.

So I’m not sure what it was about Uliana Lopatkina that grabbed me and made me want to watch her over and over. I didn’t – and still don’t, shamefully – know enough to tell you what might be special about her technique. It could be that to this newbie, she seemed like the archetype of a ballerina: serious, emaciated, Russian. Or her status. I’m certain that there is something about a dancer approaching the…

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