Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Damien Hirst at Sotheby's

See auction results

Something a lot of people might not realise (I didn't know this until earlier this year when a friend who works there told me) is that the auction giant Sotheby's - where you're hearing about Damien Hirst's Golden Calf selling for over £10million yesterday - often have the auctions open as public exhibitions for weeks leading up to the actual sale. It's free to get in and you can just wander around looking at some of the most expensive art in the world.

Back in June there was an auction of modern and contemporary art taking place there and the highlights were on public view. One of the most striking pieces up for sale then was Damien Hirst's "Rapture" - a huge canvas covered in a pattern of butterfly wings that made you gasp when you first saw it. It was bewitching, I went back to that room several times to gaze at it. The man-made pattern served as a way of focussing and celebrating the astonishing natural beauty of the insects' wings - placed flat in such numbers they seemed to amplify each others' mysterious power.

The exhibition which was auctioned off last night - titled Beautiful Inside My Head Forever - had more of the same, and then some. For this exhibition Hirst had filled the whole of the Sotheby's exhibition space with new work. All of the things he is famous for were repeated there, many of them with new twists: preserved animals in formaldehyde, but with gold-tipped hooves and horns. Those butterfly paintings like Rapture, but made much more in the image of Cathedral stained-glass windows - and then butterfly wings scattered on black backgrounds with diamonds and razorblades. Spin paintings, but stencilled over with other spin paintings... so you had brightly coloured skulls on brightly coloured backgrounds. These pieces were subtitled "with extra inner beauty".

All over the exhibition there were pieces that made you gasp and grin. In general the talk the surrounds the work, for example about whether the amounts spent on it (both in its production and at sale) are obscene and whether Damien Hirst really counts as an artist since so much of what you see is actually manufactured by assistants - and whether he isn't, in any case, more of a businessman and marketer than artist - falls away rapidly when you are actually confronted with the work. The pieces, in fact, speak for themselves.

Much of Hirst's work can be seen as dramatic Memento mori and some of them in fact directly reference the medieval practice of producing an image that was half-beautiful, half-decayed - two sculptures of classical-style angels, one larger than life-sized, are stripped like anatomical models as you move around them, their muscles, bones and sinews showing. One absolutely awesome piece consisted of a large three dimensional collection of tanks, each containing a small preserved fish of a different species - as you moved around this structure it became apparent that the other half had the skeletons of the same fish species symmetrically arranged. But the bisection was perfectly mirrored, so that it appared from one side as if all the tanks were full of skeletons, and the other half full of "complete" fish. The arrangement meant that if you hovered around this mirror line,the flesh appeared to be stripped off the bones of the fish as you moved around.

The larger dead animals in the exhibition present a conundrum. I think there are a lot of people who probably object to their use at all. I remember a conversation with a friend at school who felt that a dead stoat was not beautiful at all now that it was dead, but I don't share that view. I remember feeling with some past works that I was looking at "just" an animal in a tank - how was it different to looking at preserved animals in any museum that deals with natural history? Perhaps it doesn't have to be different, but I feel it does to be interesting. In some cases Hirst's titles transform the works and are what make them different. But here there were animals with golden hooves and horns, and instantly they seemed like different things. I felt that some forced you to look on the animals with reverence. When you consider what normally happens to the bodies of farm animals that aren't eaten it seems like a great thing that these few creatures can be admired after their death. But I was offended by a piece which had four cow's heads propping up a beach ball, and another which featured the decapitated head of a unicorn (complete with the blade that did it). I found it hard to understand why I felt this way about some, and quite differently about others. I felt in some cases that the carcasses were being used for a cheap joke, which seemed wrong. A preserved dove with a sprig in its beak also seemed tacky. But the Golden Calf seemed sacred, and the flying piglet celebratory.

The few incidents of bad taste within the work slightly tarnished what was otherwise an astonishing show. Whether anyone should have as much money to spend on art as some of the lots finally took is an separate debate from the effect of the work itself - although on the other issue I do think that the manufacturing assistants could be given more open credit. Anyway I'm thankful to have had the chance to see the whole thing in one place before it went off to the wealthy bidders and if you're ever passing through New Bond Street I recommend stopping and checking to see if they've got a show on.

I give Beautiful Inside My Head Forever by Damien Hirst 8 out of 10.

Photographs from Sothebys, BBC news site.


You can now comment on We'renevergoingtoagreeaboutthefeeling posts even if you don't have your own blog. Sorry about how you couldn't do it before, it wasn't deliberate. Say what you like.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Offset Festival. A Review.

Oh Offset, bless your little soul. Last Saturday & Sunday will be celebrated as the weekend of the festival with lovely font. Allegedly Offset planned to bridge the gap between the bands young people with good hair listen to with the bands those bands see as inspiration. & it worked - you couldn’t go wrong with Gang of Four headlining the last night. Aaaand of course Gang of Four were really rather good. I know I was inspired; my dancing will never be the same again, & I can think of a few people who will look at the humble microwave with new eyes (They sound well with baseball bats…). But aside from the list of credible bands (& some questionable bookings) there was little to complain about. Even the weather was in peoples favour most of the time, and the tiny village was pleasantly spacious & welcoming. In fact those without tickets had a perfectly good view of both the main stage & the guitar hero stage (as graced by Fightstar & My Vitriol - the stuff of someone elses dreams!! Really!). Plus it was located next to a Farm which homed chickens labelled as owls.
So who was good? My Top 5 Acts of the weekend :

Hot Club De Paris
Gang of Four
Slow Club
Johnny Foreigner

Most of these bands were on Sunday. It’s nice when a festival has an array of musical acts which feel new and exciting - here is was so (& you wouldn‘t expect it from an elongated what-used-to-be-TMF-Music-Festival) but as the organisers had done there best to stagger artistes so as to avoid clashes as best as possible (which of course was in the end impossible), there was a great feeling of being able to wander round one tiddy tent to another always getting to see something new. Good to see the locals Ghost Frequency, I liked them, & it was a shame to have to wait a squillion years for Glam Chops (one shouldn’t compare, but dare I say: not as good as Art Brut).
Perhaps next year the food & booze will be cheaper & copious, (or enough, at least).

Tim Burgess was seen waiting for a bus outside Hainault Tube station

Joshua Third’s hair was seen on Joshua Third.
Steven Ansell (new hair!) was seen absolutely loving Gang of Four.

That was my review.

lucie gs stolen photo of STEVE - isobelas stolen photo of JOSH - gaz clarks stolen photo of TIMMEH!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Mental. Fairy Trains.

This morning I came accross this terrifying site.

Here's the link
what the hell.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Things Wes got at Manchester Zinefest 2008

On Saturday I went with a bagful of Attack!!!!s and such to table at the Manchester Zinefest.

This blog is about what I picked up there for trades and for cash.

The other half of my table was taken up by the lovely folks of Ladyfest Manchester. Above is their very colourful little folded flyer thing. Basically, they like women. It's hard to find fault with that position.

An example of a woman is Carol Batton, who approached my stall in a very friendly manner and told me she was mad. After telling me this and insisting that the characters on my Tinariwen t-shirt were not Tifinagh or any North African script but a mix of Greek, mathematical and astrological symbols, she flung some cut up bits of paper and card at me that had some of her poems on. They were surprisingly good and reminded me of Spike Milligan.

The authors of this volume kindly gave offered this to me for free - and I gave them a copy of one of my own pieces as trade - but unfortunately it's dreadful. It's in deliberately bad taste, but not funny and worst of all the style of inking makes it incredibly hard to figure out what's going on most of the time anyway. I think it wants to be in colour.

'Sporks' and 'Aloof' are two perzines occupying the same space: you flip one over and there's the other, upside-down.

'Sporks' is a short collection of memoirs by M. Fernandes.

I really didn't expect to get much out of it initially (you know, yet another perzine) but M. Fernandes has a very easy writing style and really does have a few stories to tell (her memories documented here consist, in brief, of being kidnapped, a slightly odd sort-of-date [the appearance of a spork in which gives the zine its title], playing a gig in a brothel, eating junk food outside a gym, and answering the door naked to a policeman).

'Aloof' is similarly surprisingly-interesting. It mostly consists of a few journal pages by a writer called Laken. They are entertainingly written and (I think unwittingly) kept making me wonder if Laken was a girl, or a gay guy, or a straight guy who was a bit more confused than normal. I quite enjoyed this guessing game so I won't tell you which s/he is just in case you decide to read it too.

'Read Too Much Wrote Too Little' came from the same stall (Brazilian Nuts). It's very gentle erotica. I couldn't understand why, when there were really sexy pics (of shoes! and a navel!) inside, the author went for such an unattractive cover. Anyway it made me feel a little bit like I was reading something meant for someone else...

Moontower #0 is a prelude to what hopefully will be a series of zines by Cally Highfield. She's a very good cartoonist and could definitely carry off a regular zine based around her illustrations. The tone of the writing inside is a bit confessional and talks more about intentions rather than actually doing anything, but if you're allowed to do that anywhere, it's in an issue zero.

A silly freesheet I got given. On the back, a bit of anti-Bush collage. Inside, a whimsical conversation and some odd news cuttings (fat policemen in Arab News, how to tell if your neighbour's a Satanist from Weekly World News - there's a one-in-ten chance in Birmingham they allege...)

This is a zine David Birchall gave me in exchange for Attack!!!! 9, which I gave him hoping he'd play the CD on his radio show. Very good of him! It consists of 3 comics, the first a truly bizarre kind of trip which I'm not sure how even to explain (the best bit is where the black bird wanders around with a sign saying "Yr shapes! Yr structures!"), the second a retelling of the genesis of Athene in Greek Mythology, and the last one a smoking cat telling us about an ranting Irishman who appears when he's drunk. The illustrations are perhaps a bit crude for some tastes - at the same time reminiscent of Chagall in places - but even so Extricate is nice to spend time with. Finally this:

Is the best thing I got all day at the zinefest, a collection of short short stories by Nicholas Ainsworth called 'Jason and Richard' with illustrations by Lucy Jones. My favourite, also the shortest:

'Robots' by Nicholas Ainsworth

"I feel like a robot"
"You are a robot!" zoinked Zim-Zam

More of this please!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Look at that. Just one entry in and already we've got an exclusive (cribbed from Metro) interview with Basshunter! Whatever next?

Uhm I just wanted to mention that on Saturday I'm going to be taking my box of zines up to the Manchester Zine Fest and I shall be returning with a bundle of zines by other people under my arm to review all in one go right here in this "We're Never Going to Agree About the Feeling" blog. Look out for that. It will be GRAKE.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Basshunter Interview

Those of you (who?) lucky enough to grasp your sweaty hands on a copy of yesterday's London Metro Paper, will have undoubtably noticed the startling interview with music sensation (for all your senses,) Basshunter. I have edited it for you to make it more managable, but you will find the full article by following the link at the end. Why you would bother, I don't care to know.

What’s the secret of your success?
The songs on the album aren’t all like the single

Some people say you’re cheesy. Would you like to be taken seriously?
I’m Swedish.

Your single was No.1 for five weeks, how did you celebrate?
I relaxed and played computer games with friends.

What do you miss about Sweden when you’re away?
The Swedes...

Do you know Ace Of Base?
That was before my time.

What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played to?
It was in a big square.

What’s the first record you bought?
It was the 90s.

You’ve sold a lot of records, what have you spent your money on?
Burger King…

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
It took me two months and I did it all in almost complete darkness.

What’s your favourite item of clothing?
It looks green from some angles and brown from others.

When was the last time you got so drunk you threw up?
The last thing I remember is taking my clothes off then waking up naked in my friend’s parents’ bed.

Nude pictures of you having sex with your girlfriend were on the internet. Are you over the embarrassment?
She dumped me two-and-a-half years ago.

So there we have it. I think I love him.