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April

2012

JOURNEY 006 ADVENTURES OF THE CONTEMPORARY SPIRIT

This is a call for unrealised relations, a call to realise these relations, those contemporary and of the future, before and after us, to come and to arrive at.


ON MYTHOLOGY WORDS BY JACOB MCGUINN SAMUEL MEAD SOPHIE VON CUNDALE STUART MEL WILSON XENIA ADJOUBEI


SUSANNAH

E.

HASLAM

&

MARTHA

MCGUINN

X: The mythic image is wishful and hopeful. Y: It seeks not to harm, but to enlighten, but too, presents (the virtue of) folly and play. X: Apropos our seemingly perpetual, darkened present, we survive and make survalism a method of practice. Y: In art, one is wishful and hopeful. X: The body politic, too, is wishful and hopeful. Y: Wish and hope are ornamental to the composite of slurry and then crystalline fractals of practicality and practicability of and in today and now. X: Ornamental, but too, essential. Y: Not essentialist. X: We myth. All of the time. Y: False popular belief. X & Y: At the verge of tomorrow, let us be wishful and hopeful, for those amongst us, and those after us, not least, for those before us in myth.


S JACOB

H

E

E

N M GUINN C

A US Pacific patrol boat approached and then sunk an empty vessel off the coast of Alaska. The boat that the US Coast Guard cutter Ancapa fired explosive ammunition at was the one hundred and sixty four foot Ryou-Un Maru, a Japanese fishing vessel. A year ago, the boat was harboured in Hokkaido, abandoned and ready to be scrapped. The derelict boat vanished from the coast, however, when an earthquake erupted the Pacific into the Tsunami that overwhelmed the Japanese coast. The boat became debris, floating – apparently still buoyant, at least – with the currents west across the ocean, by the Bearing Straits and the opening, unfreezing NorthWest Passage, with the icebergs and the coast in outline off its side, tracing the path of the underwater currents. Unmanned, and untracked, the passage the derelict vessel took was not recorded, until it appeared, suddenly, like an apparition in the Alaskan Bay where it was sunk. This debris which diffused, unrecognised, across the Pacific surface posed a threat to shipping, a hazard. It vanished after about four hours, leaving a “light sheen” of oil and a huge column of smoke. This unimaginable voyage was also, in a sense, an archetypal one. The boat inadvertently traced the path that aboriginal people had taken to arrive on the American west coast. The boat’s sudden appearance in the Alaskan bay also signalled the extent of debris that is scattered across the entire, unbroken surface of the ocean. And the emptiness the boat contained, its derelict body, that had somehow survived the massive pressure of the Tsunami, was also a kind of survival of ruins, a persistence of ruin. The boat’s aimless migration, and the patina of it’s decaying iron hull, can be viewed as a trail of the wave’s light sheen that travels across the surface of the ocean, and that travels in the sheen of images of destruction that intrude into television and computer screens from the Tsunami.


URBAN SAMUEL

MYTH MEAD

A young white woman is staying in an upscale hotel in New York City. One day, she leaves her room to head out on a shopping trip. The young woman walks down the quiet, thickly carpeted corridor and enters the lift; just as the doors are about to close, three young, tall, black men, dressed in hooded sweatshirts and sunglasses, enter as well – they stand in a vaguely triangular formation at the back right of the lift. The doors close. The young woman feels nervous, she keeps her eyes down and tries not to draw attention to herself; meanwhile, she also feels vaguely guilty for being nervous in the presence of three men who have provided no evidence to suggest that they are a threat to her. There is a silence. The lift does not move – several moments pass – the young woman becomes ever more afraid as she can feel the three men looking at her…Tension grips her body, tightening her spine and causing her shoulders to rise like hackles, the palms of her hands are hot and damp. In the midst of her fear, the young woman, who is standing directly against the lift’s control panel, has forgotten to press the button that will set the thing in motion. Eventually, one of the men, who does not want to reach across in front of the young woman to press the button himself, but is growing impatient, implores the woman to get things moving… ‘Hit the floor’, he says. In response, the young woman, who by this point is near apoplectic with paranoia, lets out a shriek and drops to her knees, holding her hands out to the side, she places her forehead on the lift floor and begins to whimper. There is a brief, stunned silence, before the three men break into incredulous laughter; they laugh so hard that they are forced to lean on one another for support. Hearing the laughter, the young woman looks up at the men – the excruciating reality of what has happened begins to dawn on her; she is, for five or six seconds, literally paralysed with embarrassment. The tallest of the men, still chuckling heartily and shaking his head, leans over and presses the button to send the lift down to the ground. The young woman climbs to her feet and stands facing the closed doors, head bowed, right hand held firmly across her eyes. The journey to the ground floor seems to take forever. Eventually, the lift stops, the doors open and the woman darts out; as she strides across the lobby she can hear the men laughing uncontrollably, trying to speak to one another


but struggling to form sentences as they choke on peal after peal of irrepressible giggles. ‘Can you believe that?!!’ One of the men manages to blurt out, before yelping with mirth and doubling over once again. All the young woman can do is walk straight ahead out of the hotel’s front doors, eyes wide, hands at her sides with fingers splayed, repeating the phrase ‘Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod’ under her breath. The incident in the lift continues to haunt the young woman for the remaining days she is staying at the hotel; she finds herself constantly thinking about what happened, cringing at the awful memory, physically wincing as it plays in her mind’s eye. She prays that she will not run into the men again, even going so far as to avoid using the lift – choosing instead to take the stairs. On the final day of her stay at the hotel, the young woman feels a sense of relief at leaving the scene of her ultimate humiliation, no longer having to worry about seeing the men – putting the whole thing behind her. She approaches the hotel’s front desk, hands over her key and asks the receptionist for her bill. The receptionist takes the key and looks at the room number. ‘Ah!’ She exclaims, ‘Room 904…Your bill has already been paid, and there’s a gift here for you as well.’ The receptionist bends down to pick up a large bouquet of flowers from underneath the desk and hands them over. Attached to the bouquet is a note, the young woman opens it up and reads: ‘Dear Lady, thanks for giving us the best laugh we’ve had in years! Best Wishes, Will Smith.’


THE SOPHIE

GIANT VON

WOMAN CUNDALE

The giant woman stood at the gates of the city; she was the size of a mountain and attracted the attention of all its citizens, who gathered in her shadow. The people were spellbound by the creation, praising her life-like appearance and graceful proportions. Though some believed that the woman was somehow sinister, the majority were convinced she was harmless and wheeled her into the city. The citizens were besotted with the woman and did not want to leave her side, but as night approached they prised themselves from her feet and returned to their homes to sleep. That night, the citizens dreamed of the woman, of her surreal beauty and charm, they dreamt of being eaten by her and sliding down her throat, being inside of her strange, hollow form. As the sun rose in the morning, the people emerged into the light of another day and ran from their houses to visit the woman. As time passed, the woman became a permanent feature of the city, the people adored her, watched her and cleaned her whenever they could spare the time. Word spread of the woman’s magnificence; she attracted pilgrims from all over and an industry formed around her. Outlets sprung up where people could buy figurines of the Giant Woman for their homes, or necklaces with a tiny Giant Woman as a pendant. The woman greatly influenced the city, changing its structure as all new buildings were built to face her - she became its centre. If anyone asked the citizens why the Giant Woman was so significant to them, they could never answer because, in truth, they did not know - she was empty.


M A STUART

N

I

F MEL

E

S

T O WILSON

1…I understand art to be a language. In relation to my work (physically) this is more important. Overall I’m a thief who bastardises images and words to twist, then to create my own narrative. A lot of friends think I should be nastier in my work or more bullish, I think I corrupt one with another, and hope to corrupt responsibly. The Sublime. If you were to strip art back to its bones, it’s only an expression outside of one’s self; very similar to the spoken or written word (but the complex nature of language is more obscure, or for lack of a better word, expressive). I often joke about myself and that my dyslexia has dictated me to express myself in the making of art, rather than art is more forgiving of my own bad use of words - a more legible area for me to talk. This I see in all artists, if I could just tell you what I mean I would, why would I waste my time making art? All art should talk where the artist cannot. 2…Being slightly anti-humanist, that is not anti humane! Just anti the ideas that elevate human kind above all other existence, all forms of life or only machines blah blah... As far as I can see the only thing that elevates us truly is that we are the makers of history. But does that (history) even matter?

Personally, I don’t know!

Focusing a lot on belief codes, whether social, political, philosophical, religious or psychological, at the centre of these, I see ethics and morality. I personally hold ethics higher than the rest, but note, this is only my truth, not yours. I feel ethics can change the whys; we are the way we are. Challenging ethical questions, challenges humans on just why we put ourselves at the centre of everything. That, along with my own unhealthy obsession with codex’s and dogma, comprises a heavy body of the theory behind my work. 3…I like words a lot and I try to use words as found objects. In layman’s terms, I place words in images. The words maybe mine or someone else’s, this has its own importance. Using statements to reference to a certain ideology, a way of thinking etc. The relationship between the words and the images conveys or directs the view towards a certain topic of thought. This sometimes be-


comes more indirect and complex; this is a pain for people who like to be told what to think. I’m sorry but that is the nature of art. The materials I use, are used to reflect some kind of idea of value (value of art as a whole and more importantly my personal works, it is important to me to be meek and not to be conceited or too judgemental, with the content dealt with. Basically I myself, hold no truths and I’m no more important than the themes I’m dealing with). Well that’s where it started, it has seemed to evolve to be a bit more than that now. That is not to say this is not an aesthetic choice. I get a little bit turned off by slick or polished work. It shows more honesty to show work in a way that seems to be naked and unedited, yet still conceded. Mix that with a love for the old Channel 4 advertisements of the Nineties which I grew up with. These pointed a kind of raw post-punk/ MTV, pointless rebellion of youth culture. As a viewer they held you in a kind of uncomfortable place, with a pleasant yaky quality. Immediacy. Overall I’m a thief who bastardises images and words to twist, then to create my own narrative. A lot of friends think I should be nastier in my work or more bullish, I think I corrupt one with another, and hope to corrupt responsibly. 4…I’m just talking like everyone else, like every other artist out there (god there’s another one of us). I do not let the notion of me being different interfere with my work. For me it’s not important. I’m saying something even if someone else is saying the same thing - maybe it needed to be repeated or heard from a slightly different point of view. So if I am different, it will never concern me. 5… Reflecting on my own work, I see a degradation of modern thinking and culture. It’s an attempt to question what it is to be a human (truly). There is a display of madness surrounding it. A madness because I’m looking hard to find some romance in this world. I’m making a display of my own curiosity of the workings of mankind/womankind. Maybe a portrait of how I’m getting to grips with the confinements of the world which I have to live in, that is in contrast to a desire for a world of the imaginary, which I feel I’m not allowed to live in. An ambiguous relationship between wonder


(truly I’m in awe of this world) and the contempt I have for the boundaries we put upon ourselves. There is a blatant love for Myths and story-telling. This is equal to the love for codes, facts and knowledge. I’m using all this to create my own narrative. Conjuring up a new fresh version of old narratives up to date. I see art as a mirror to view the world in. the vain hope to bring humans into new light. 6… I, in my personal life give too much time to worrying what other people think of me. I only hope that if this is reflected in my work, it adds a layer of vulnerability that I will more that likely share with my viewer. People probably first see the labour put in to my work. I believe that this is a huge factor or a least a hit when you’re first approaching my work. I have come to see this as a tool, I try to use this to gain in a weird way some respect (I do not however believe it to be important in art. Good art doesn’t ever need to be a task. I personally feel people see hard work and commend it. A knock on to this is people respect my work, as a piece of art). I will never know if people think of me as a skilled artist. I probably wouldn’t class myself as one. It is not a great masterful piece. I only ever see and use lines to represent form and never is it going to be form itself. The flip side to that is I’m trying to use my ego in art to emulate the grandiose nature of the Old Masters etc. This is only a comment on the history of art and the relevance to the era it was created in. I feel art and history are in a relationship with each other and this in part is what gives the greats their relevance. I guess at first glance I could be confused with a Blake-like madman, preaching at you (maybe I am). I do hope this is not mulled over for to long in the heads of my viewers, as I myself am a little bit confused as to how this has happen to me. I also hope this is only on first glance, as there are loads more layers of thought and research put in there. 7… It’s only a place to reflect in, I hold no answers, no utopias to talk of. My vain hope is to poke and comment. I only have questions and hold no answers. I’m asking you to think. Asking you to think and form an opinion. I would never say my work is political, as I spend too much time taking things too lightly and fence sitting. I also spend far too much time telling fables and pulling apart Myths to be taken


seriously. Plus I’m never right; I also hold little interest in truths.

Untitled series of three. 1200 x 2400 mm. Ink on plasterboard.


ARKADY’S DREAM CONTEMPORARY XENIA STUDIO ALEA

THE BIRTH NATIONAL IACTA

OF A COLLECTION ADJOUBEI EST

It is a journey to the new world. It has been nine years since I last saw Arkady, on the day I left Moscow when he saw me off at the airport. Philosophical purism followed by schizophrenic vulgarity: a city where nothing is capable of standing still without shifting form. Its urban fabric embroidered with symbols, which exist on the surface of a blistering cultural skin – defrosting or decaying – you can never quite tell. I would not have returned were it not for Arkady’s emphatic summons to take on a building project; the brief for which, he said, was nearing completion. Traditions & Visions Arkady is a symbol of the New Russia. It is, first of all, a product of his ruthless capitalist thinking – put to work in the years when no such thing yet existed, and second, the result of his profound and modern philanthropy. On our first day we walked up and down Tverskaya Street, where the Tretyakov Gallery displayed its wares to the unaware. Morning commuters and visitors to the city level and walk past masterpieces of the national art collection, as copies are displayed in replica gilded frames, on the external walls of buildings, complete with museum plaques. Arkady is driven by a poetic egotism. The world he inhabits is a world of super-malls, cultural monasteries, hypermarkets, algorithms, the Kremlin and football clubs. The new world which enacts an old Soviet anecdote; which takes place in a queue. ”What are we queueing for?” one person asks, “Hemmingway” another replies, “Sounds like good stuff” says the inquirer, the other replies: “I can’t say, I’ve never drunk it.” Arkady’s main inspiration is the Kremlin. Its unbroken fortress walls, with lush greenery and classicist facades rising above, and the golden domes of its churches. The Kremlin at the centre of the city, but strange and non-orthog-


onal. The jumble of styles of different ages and belief structures, the contrast of materials. It is the epic of the Russian Nation: on the verge of identity crisis but with the deep feeling of symbolism. Although physically enterable, it is untouchable in the public consciousness. It is a representation of the divine city, which houses sources of national spirituality and political power as manifested on earth. It is the unattainable model for all else which is constructed around it and in its gaze. Objects of Absurdity Philosopher Pyotr Chaadayev wrote in the 1830s “in Moscow every foreigner is taken to look at the great cannon and the great bell – the cannon which cannot be fired and the bell which fell down before it was rung. It is an amazing town in which the objects of interest are distinguished by their absurdity”. Arkady’s project consists of two national collections. One is a collection of individuals, an organisation. The other is a great collection of Russian works of cultural value. The question of value lies at the heart of Arkady’s anxiety; is Moscow capable of forgetting what non-monetary value its culture still has? The new institution, which Arkady is founding, is in opposition to consumerism, the politicised Church and a regressive bureaucratic absurdity, which define the city’s self-understanding. In supporting the development of a contemporary culture, perhaps self reflection can become possible. We walked along the river to see how the internal faces of the city had changed. In 1931 the largest of Orthodox cathedrals was dynamited to make way for the palace of the Soviets, a project which never reached construction. After several years its circular foundations were turned into the largest in the world open air swimming pool. As a child, I used to watch steam rise from the water on the scale of a cloud, with laughter trapped within it, in the winter months. In the 1990s the pool was demolished and a reconstruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour began in its place. Arkady’s collection is already underway and contains many works which reflect the layering of history and symbols. He insists that the


new institution should have a radical buying committee, consisting of prominent social critics, young writers, directors and curators of the new generation, to bring together not only a new National Collection of all arts and media, but also its surrounding documentation. The Old New & The New Old That night Arkady had a dream. Following the rise of a new developer class over the past twenty years in Russia, the Entrepreneur stood, like the giant bronze statue of Peter the Great that towers over the river; a monument to the new freedom of profits. He saw the city as an undulating landscape of rising and falling land and property values. The city-scape of office towers or elite housing blocks appeared in direct topographic correlation, representing the profit being made, per square metre, on the ground. In the eyes of this oversized individual, Moscow was full of geysers swelling and erupting with profit margins. Arkady, when he awoke, was so haunted by the image that he could not sleep for the rest of the night. The next morning we began at the Lenin Library. Arkady wanted to research the trend of the re-construction of historic buildings, which had appeared in Moscow in the recent years. Jane Jacobs wrote in 1961 that “old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings�. The new Moscow hotel had just been constructed, which had taken the exact form and site of the hotel which was previously there, but was demolished. Fully inhabiting the skin of an old ghost, like some Stalinist revival parasite. Later that afternoon we went to see a version of a retained Original; a famous bus garage by Kostantin Melnikov, in a leafy area near Rizhskaya Station. Arkady believes that this is new Russia Povera in a museum. The paradox of European space projected onto the absorptive mind of the young generation. Although it has nothing to add in the self-searching question of national culture, it holds up a mirror from the West. Everything here has always pivoted on what is kept secret, not on what can be revealed. There is no doubt in my mind that Arkady has a project. With his backing a new institution for the sacralisation of Russian contemporary culture can come into being.


I start to wonder, however, whether this should all be taken seriously. In a city so shape-shifting and full of empty or unrealised promise, is he really is who he thinks he is? And will his collection actually exist...


SCHOOL 003 ADVENTURES OF THE CONTEMPORARY SPIRIT

The third in a series of nomadic seminars. SCHOOL 003 is a salon of thought and conversation in collaboration with THE SUNDAY PAINTER ON MYTHOLOGY SOUNDS, THOUGHTS, WORDS AND WORK BY JACOB MCGUINN SAMUEL MEAD SOPHIE VON CUNDALE STUART MEL WILSON XENIA ADJOUBEI FREE FOR ALL SCHOOL 003 WILL BE RECORDED LIVE BY SUPERLATIVE TV Transmitting greatest televisualising - superlativetv.com JOURNEY 006 WILL BE AVAILABLE This is a call for interest. If you are interested in writing or speaking on the adventures of the contemporary spirit, please go here: thecontemporaryspirit.tumblr.com / thecontemporaryspirit@gmail.com SATURDAY 5TH MAY 2012 - 1600 +

THE SUNDAY PAINTER 12-16 BLENHEIM GROVE SE15 4QL thesundaypainter.co.uk JOURNEY / SCHOOL & AOTCS PRESS


This is a call for interest. If you are interested in writing or speaking on the adventures of the contemporary spirit, please go here: www.thecontemporar yspirit.tumblr.com A

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JOURNEY 006  

JOURNEY is the monthly writerly publication documenting the Adventures of the Contemporary Spirit

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