Magazine ~ Third Issue ~ May 15
Contents Edito................................................................................................4 I ~ The Undercurrents Gallery..............................................8 Kids Love Ink...........................................................................9 Next exhibition !....................................................................14 II ~ Events.....................................................................................17 DIY Culture 2015...................................................................17 Takeover...................................................................................18 Party in the Park..................................................................22 III ~ Minesweeper Publishing..............................................25 Metamorphosis Book..........................................................25 IV ~ Arts & Craft......................................................................28 The art of Illustre Feccia...................................................28 V ~ « Music is One... »...........................................................42 VI ~ The adventure of the Minesweeper........................48 VII ~ Minesweeper Mexico.....................................................51
by Rodolphe Gauthier The third issue ! Hardly had time to read the previous, the next one is already here ! You will find the previous issues here : http://issuu.com/minesweepercollective But, even if not as much as we would like (as the next one will be), this issue is quite different. The Minesweeper Collective is going on, evolves & bubbles up ! Spring time, the time of the metamorphosis... Because all of us are full of desires & energy, as well as we are all full of questions in front of the increasingly numerous projects we deal with. The Minesweeper Collective is an experience, a daily experience, isn't it ?Everyday we reflect, talk about & discuss it. Everyday we involve ourselves in projects that we feel are good projects. And then ? What the meaning of the Minesweeper Collective is actually differs & contrasts for each of us ; we all have a particular idea & a very personal reason to be part of the collective, and I think that (but it is only my opinion) these very different feelings are what makes the wealth of the
Minesweeper. Because, in the end, we stand on the same ship. And that is not only a worn expression... Because we do accept and deal with our particular shade of difference, this collective is, literally, experimental & exciting. We are people who try to be autonomous in the city (in the most expensive city in the world) by creation (arts & craft as craftmen, i think, more than ÂŤ artists Âť). And to do that, we know that we can't be alone, we know that we need each other, on the basis of having a feeling, a common feeling of being well together. We all agree : everybody is welcome, as long as we can have fun & work together. It is still too soon to say more... And, again, this insight of analysis is only my point of view, even if I hope that it will please my shipmates... Metamorphosis, so, as the theme of our next DIY screen-printed book... Expected release : 4th of July on the boat (with a preview at the Crack Festival in Rome at the end of June). While waiting to receive your texts (poems, short novels, various reviews & critics, etc) & artworks, as usual, this issue offers a wide range of content : Events : ~ Party on the park every second weekend of the month, & it is aboard The Minesweeper ; ~ Takeover by Alternative Press : it was the 9th & it was
huge. If you missed it, have a look at our article & be prepared for the next zine fairs ! ~ and, actually, we will partipate to the DIY Culture 2015 at the CafĂŠ Concert the 24th of May : come & enjoy ! Two very great (true) stories : ~ the Adventure of the Ship, part II, by Camden McDonald ; ~ The Mexico journey by Joe Fur Long, chapter III. Articles : ~ we are very pleased to present the Manifesto by the band Elektriza ; - an article on Illustre Feccia's creations. & much more, of course... For the following issues we would like to involve always more people & present more articles, more visual arts, more poetry from everywhere. So, if you want to publish, if you know someone who might be interested, if you want to see here what you don't see elsewhere, send us a friendly mail : email@example.com We are around & we are aware : so get involved !
I ~ The Undercurrents Gallery www.undercurrentsgallery.tumblr.com
The Undercurrents Gallery is a Public Exhibition Space in Deptford leaving egos at the door since 2013. Bringing Fresh Art to the People. Out of the mainstream channel of official art giving everyone the opportunity to exhibit their artwork for free. The Undercurrent Gallery space managed by the Minesweeper Collective, is part of The Birds Nest Pub (32 Deptford Church Street, Deptford, London, SE8 4RZ)
Kids Love Ink (May 2015)
This month free art exhibition at Undercurrents Gallery present drawings, paintings and linocuts. 'Kids Love Ink' is the tattoo shop on Deptford High Street. All the tattoo artists have made new originals especially for the exhibition.
They have created series of drawings, paintings, and linocuts which are 'retracing' and 'embodying' the stories of Deptford. Artwork will be on show every day until MAY 28th, in the back room of The Birds Nest Pub, from 1pm to 11pm. The Birds Nest Pub host live music performances of various genres most days each week, from 8pm to 11pm. www.thebirdsnestpub.com
« A lot of attention has been paid to the popularity or so-called ‘Mainstreaming’ of tattoos during the past decade or so. The interest in tattooing as resulted in high profile ‘reality’ TV programmes, expansion in magazines, photo-books, endless other publications and even academic research projects while many people are quick to try and ascribe some kind of personal and individual meaning to their tattoos, academic and critics are quick to point out how tattoos are now just another accessory in the ‘super-market of style’, where consumerism and being involved in the latest fads, and a commitment to individualism has replaced tradition and community. Yes, the tattoo literally ‘embody’ a much more complex story. »
« They are about connection to place , to people, to community, feeling and belonging – to Deptford.(…) Tattoos perhaps have more of resemblance to the forms of body modification associated to the past ‘sub-cultures’ or those used to signify belonging or commitment to a group, place or nation. Yet these embody something contemporary cosmopolitan, they embody stories of movement, intercultural encounters, connection beyond geographic, ethnic, cultural, social, economic gendered, aged, and sex borders. While the grip of gentrification inevitably tightens, these inscriptions will remain telling stories from a different time and different kind of place. »
Kids Love Ink ~ Deptford
Next exhibition !
UNDERCURRENTS GALLERY presents: ROBIN & JACOB. New art exhibition open everyday, from 12.30pm to 11pm, till JUNE 25th. OPENING NIGHT: Friday MAY 29!! 7pm to 1am!! FREE ENTRY!! Free hot food buffet + Live music from 8pm till 11pm, featuring: POETICAT + SIMEON LENOIR + SCREAMING TOENAIL.
This month new free art exhibition at Undercurrents Gallery will present drawings and sculptures by: ROBIN STRATTON - http://robinastratton.wix.com/robin & JACOB JOYCE - http://jacobvjoyce.com/ FREE OPENING SHOW: Friday MAY 29th. We will be serving free hot food at 8pm and 10pm. Bands will be performing live from 8pm until 11pm, featuring: POETICAT With roots in London and Lisbon, Poeticat is an energetic and unique rock band infusing elements of progressive, experimental and psychedelic music with a punk attitude. Words - Catherine Martindale / Guitar - Baj Kenrick / Bass - Ivo Ramalho / Drums - Victor Meadowcroft SIMEON LENOIR Simeon Lenoir performs on stage as a " One man band ", playing guitar, keys, percussions, horns etc, and with a trio or a six pieces band. "A fantastic performer, a multi instrumentist musician and a talentuous song writer who makes you traveling in music all around the world. " Melody Maker. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqGFt5C5GM8 SCREAMING TOE-NAIL ANTI COLONIAL BELLIGERENT QUEER SCREAMING PUNK SASSY TOE NAILS. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSVOY_wIeSw
The UNDERCURRENTS GALLERY specialises in group exhibitions. We host a variety of artistic disciplines and projects, with an emphasis on dynamic curation and collaborative benefit. We do not charge our artists to exhibit and wish to provide the public with a chance to truly access the world of art. The gallery is managed by the Minesweeper Collective - www.minesweepercollective.co.uk/ We hope you can enjoy our space as much as we enjoy providing it. WHAT? Monthly new exhibitions with an array of live music and fully licensed pub attached. WHERE? The Birds Nest Pub, 32 Deptford Church St, Deptford, SE8 4RZ WHEN? The exhibitions are open for public viewing 3 weeks out of the month, from midday to 10pm daily, starting from the opening night. Curated and Presented by the Minesweeper Collective. WHY? Because Genuine is Everything. HOW? by bus: 47 / 53 / 453 / 188 / 199 / 177, by DLR at Deptford Bridge: 2 MINS, by RAILWAY at Deptford: 3 MINS, by OVERGROUND at New Cross or at New Cross Gate: 10 - 12 MINS
II ~ Events DIY Culture 2015 (coming soon !!! the 24th of May...)
Takeover The bigest Alternative Press fair in London we were there, we printed money
& we organized a screenprinting workshop
Party in the Park
* The best way to... keep in touch with us, be notified of events, fairs, concerts, etc, is to join our mailing list on the website. *
III ~ Minesweeper Publishing Metamorphosis Book ! We are working on the next DIY screen-printed & collaborative book... As we said in the edito, the theme is Metamorphosis & we already understand why. As usual, the shape & the content will be related.
What is ÂŤ Metamorphosis Âť ? It is the non-sense the unfinished
the endless. Metamorphosis is the fundamental movement : everything changing all the times. It is the perpetual movement of matters. Nothing is still, nothing is done, nothing is achieved. It is infinite possibilities. Not only animals, but also vegetables & minerals. Cycles of love & oblivion. Mad cycles. Of course, it inspired Kafka and maybe the greatest known writer, Ovid. As well as Escher & so many others, and now it's up to us to deal with it !
IV ~ Arts & Craft Here we have a short study about Illustre Feccia, an member of the Minesweeper Collective. Sometimes it is quite hard to understand, but we hope you will enjoy the same !
For a surreptitious exposure : the art of Illustre Feccia by Rodolphe Gauthier
Illustre Feccia is one of my friends. This is why it is quite difficult to write about his work. We both part of The Minesweeper Collective. Both, I think, we find there what we seek: freedom and open-mindedness, lined with dynamism and essential rigor that usually are never conciled in a collective (and we have to pay tribute to all those amazing people who welcomed us, including Camden McDonald who initiated the project, Niccolo Bruni and Andrew The Terror that support it daily head-on, and obviously Kevin Seven who strives every moment to make it grow). We are both quite similar. Illustre Feccia is ambitious as I am; he is voluptuous as I am, he can hardly bear annoyances and refuses absurd constraints. He is sensitive. He is à fleur de peau (on edge). In addition to having a boundless generosity, as Italians often do. Much has been written in the few articles devoted to him about his influences and references. It is quite clear that the punk universe, expressionism (Beckmann, Grosz, etc.), H.R. Giger, are figureheads and a base (that on which we rely, but also where we withdraw) for Illustre Feccia. But I want to focus in this small study on the underground movement of his artistic gesture. I say gesture and I mean both the body mechanism in action (how? why?), but also, just a little behind, with the french feminine meaning of the word (la geste) which refers to an epic adventure, combat and (con)quest. "Undercurrents" (plural form) is the wonderful name given by the Minesweeper crew to the gallery they manage at the Bird's Nest, our favorite pub (the best) in Deptford: The Undercurrents Gallery. It is an ingenious diversion – a step aside – versus "underground", as the Minesweeper is actually a boat... But I like to interpret it – especially – just as a movement under the surface, under the mirror (more than “behind”) under the tectonic plates. And what comes to thrill the bark and the skin... The artistic gesture is connected with the surface, of course, but it is below references, culture, "ego" even if it is excessive ("leaving egos at the door ...” we can read on the website).
It is this underground movement, which appears differently each time on the surface, that is important in what we see â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in ALL that we see. And this movement is fascinating in Illustre Feccia's works. This is the line, â&#x20AC;&#x201C; compulsive, generous, maniac (the mania is the dionysian madness that possessed bacchants), which just saturates the surface and inoculates it that expressive density. Since it is through this line, this abundance of features, that the movement arises. Let's make that clear: this is not a mere way of speaking. It is from the bottom of the surface that the gesture draws the traits that emerge, protrude or spring on that surface. It comes from the lowlands, the underbelly, from the dregs and the grounds, which are not really hidden, but dense enough that nothing can be distinguished. Oil and tar. That is also why what gushes out is still dark and stained by the expulsion gesture.
There is a clear maieutic-of-monstruosity process in Illustre Feccia's works. It is this process itself â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the extraction of a hypogeal life â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which is highlighted. It's not the result that is shown, the dead foetus in its bath of formalin, the teratologic section of the museum, no, it is the whole operation of extirpation of the swarm, with a gap on the pluck, abundant flows, fluids and tissues, in addition to faces and monsters...
The faces come from the bottom of the surface – canvas, paper or wall – and they are projected (or they project themselves) to us, to our own faces, with an almost violent suddenness. With a closeness that is not only an effect of pictorial spatiality, but also an inner proximity: like magnets, attracting monsters in our very inside (“Il bambino che c'è in te ”, “The Babe that is inside you”). Illustre Feccia draws depths and backs, drags out the forces and energies that move over there.
(“Il bambino che c'è in te”)
Its name, Illustre Feccia, somehow, echoes this. Illustre means light, lighting. Feccia refers to the vile matter, the dirty, the excrement (fex, fecis in latin), and that strikes the face – faeces hitting faces – the body and the intellect. It's clandestine material. Here, of course, we can connect the movement with its shape, the pattern and the theme, topics and references. It is expressionistic and it is punk. Revolt and social criticism of religions, finance, various coercive powers. This criticism works as a general denunciation of a world where many are starving when others stuff themselves, where free thought is if not punished at least limited, where we stop people from coming where we keep what we have stolen from them... This denunciation works as an extirpation and a highlighting of the profound forces, which are, after all, irrational. For it is irrational: the unreasoned energy (unreasonable?) that enables to prove undoubtedly that some socio-economic realities are unfair, everyone (yes, everyone) is aware of it, that many take offense about it, but finally it does not change and will never change anything (when we begin to want to reason about these unreasonable forces, when we try to reason them, we actually do politics; we don't : we are in the city: we are politics). This irrational energy, inhuman energy (in the sense that it comes from the human but exceeds him, such as single bee and swarm function differently, or – if we want to divert a Platonic reference – that a limb can't be compared to the whole body), this energy manifests and figures monsters. And these representations of monsters, (everybody will agree with me on that, at least) are a true treat. But before being political, the remarks of Illustre Feccia are wider: the sensitivity is involved, the sensitivity of Being-in-theworld, called – in philosophical and (it must be admitted... sorry...) Heideggerian terms – Dasein.
This is yet in another way, in a less superficial manner (how boring is this pseudo-political chatter in the deep squats!), that this gesture is political: through what we call "street art". Because the street art (in its best manifestations), we know, is the reclaiming of public space. The surface (the area) is large and flexible: it is no longer in his first architectural function (a wall, a door, a window, etc.), but it is diverted, re-appropriated, by humans. Better: it denounces the hypocrisy and cowardice that were used to build them. And so we can say Illustre Feccia pulls the monstruosity out of the walls.
This is the immense work (Grand Œuvre) without lots of means. The artist is no longer limited to the frames, to the canvases, to what it costs (the work is also ephemeral and – more – difficult to recover), to the small surface to which it is constrained by lack of means. He no longer has to canvass the galleries and exhibition spaces, to corrupt himself: he can make the street his own gallery, as did Illustre Feccia under the arches of Deptford, following the Ha'penny Bridge. This may allow him to express himself according to his desire, without recourse to the institutions, without being stamped, retrieved, swallowed, and, in short, denied. (Video by Jérémy La DjeyDje of session here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VjqvLcrGqs)
But it would be simplistic to make Illustre Feccia's art an art of denunciation, an art – only – of protest (even "beautiful" or "well done") and even a "dark" art. Since there is also humor, as in this sarcastic figure of a spaghetti eater, and seen that Illustre Feccia (who has lived in London for many years) is Italian, I am tempted to say a Pasolinian humor, or better yet a Boccacian humor, sarcastic and satirical, that delights, as in the Middle Ages, in the pretty vulgarities and beautiful profanities.
(Video by Jérémy La DjeyDje of session here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-9mz42xfik)
But I want to finish on one aspect of his work that I like a lot, which is quite rare and which has perhaps not been explored as well as others: delight & voluptous. The first work of his I saw was a tribute to Modigliani, which repeated the figure of Luna Czeckowska (1919) that has long been (perhaps still is) my favorite figure by Modigliani (i felt straightaway a strong affinity between us). Her long neck and her blue eyes blurred by swoon...
It is still movement, not underground but submarine. Undercurrents less violent than in the "political" works â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but just as intense. Scrolls and convolutions as they exist in beauty â&#x20AC;&#x201C; that is pleasure and love. Here, art aspires to a certain harmony, which seeks to reinvent itself, made of nice quirks and intimate depths that flush, again, here and there, on the surface. I say surface but the homage to Modigliani was painted in a basement (in Palmerston squat in Deptford), which suited it very well. "Spring" (which also belongs to this rich magical vein in Illustre Feccia's works) is the individuation of this eroticism from the depths: a world of roots, a hypogeous world made monad, a planet (an absolute island) but also as a fragile bubble.
Ariadne, in a more classical style, is the Ariane of the Labyrinth, that is to say, the corner, the hidden, the deep away, the Ariane of the "innermost" ("the most intimate, most secret, the deepest â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the lower abdomen").
This highlightment (the exposure, the uncovering, the baring) is completely opposed to the Society of Spectacle analyzed by Debord and the Situationists. The projecting is opposed to the spectacular, the expression of inner experience is opposed to the entertainment as well as the cathartic event. You could say that we are dealing here with a surreptitious spectacular, close to the unlawful, the illegal, the underground. This is where the art of Illustre Feccia is valuable and worthy of admiration - beyond the friendship that is sufficient in itself...
(other articles available here)
V ~ « Music is One... »
From this third issue of magazine we are starting to publish what we understand about Music which is an expression of human sensibility using sounds produced any possible way – through music instruments, human (or animal) voices, electronic devices, material objects hit, scratched, kissed or thrown away into the void ... All these actions build aesthetic soundscape of the world called Music without any division usually used to describe this phenomenon. Of course writing about music you cannot avoid using terms like contemporary music, jazz, blues, punk, noise, experimental and so on but these are just shortcuts and simplicities. Music is one, that's never ending flow of the sound, wave or breath of life which never stops. In this issue you can find brief manifesto about what is
improvised music written by Kris from Elektryza which seems to be good point to start explorations and talks about the sound, review music events, which also take place onboard Minesweeper (join our mailling list to know more), records and other activities connected with sound. Free Improvisation Music Expression People are a breath of the undulating ocean. They are waves of fluctuating life. Improvisation is the truth. It is and we are. We don't need an explanation. It happens.
Improvisation is realization. Its a fruit of our creation when you can give a body for ideas. If an idea has no body it s only stays in virtual world of ideas. You can give yourself to them and they become your fulfilment. This is sacrifice that fills us with joy and satisfaction. This is connection with
the world where we are. The world is improvisation. The world is the music. The world is creation that express itself. The improvisation is organic. The spirit has a body.
Improvisation is a meeting of people. This is an expansion of our feelings and sensitivity and theirs inversion. The moment when you give yourself to others and bring them into your heart. Endless time of the spreading expression and introversion. In the moment of improvisation we can really forget about ourselves and then we meet each other. We sharing our colours. We are together in a one garden. We talk and we listen. We touch and we are touched. We are multiplied joy.
Improvisation is free. There are no masters no slaves. Anyone with an open heart does not need rules. Yo are not scared of anything. There are no mistakes. Everything is clear and direct. Spontaneity is this world. Moreover, improvisation is: interesting balance, moving picture, headless horseman, forgetfulness, dragon egg, pulling out splinters, give me five, changing fingers, waking dream, dream on Java...
And one more thing: you're never bored. If you are, you are not in.
VI ~ The adventure of the Minesweeper by Camden McDonald
Summer 1954 Jack Bilson supervised the laying-on of a copper sheath around the wooden hull while he waited for his engines. It wasn't standard practice, but the copper sheet was to hand, and the Navy were paying for everything. The launch was delayed by 13 days - until 30th June. It was a a damp, dreary day. As he watched the new minesweeper launched out into Poole Harbour, and then pull off under her own steam, Jack mused over the ultimate fate of this proud ship to which he had devoted a goodly part of his working life - as perhaps did the many shipwrights and their aprentices watching her go. The Navy took possession of M2706, and fitted her up at Southampton, installing navigation systems, a crane and other minesweeping equipment, a 240v and 24v electrical system, radio gear, and a 20mm Oerlikon Anti-aircraft gun on the fore deck. By March 1955 HMS Ledsham IMS43 was ready for war.
Summer 2002 Myself, Nick StClare and another mate, Andy Lockwood, surveyed the Mindsweeper, as she was then called. She was on a tidal mooring so when the tide went out, which happens twice a day, she lay on the Deptford Creek mud finely balanced on her keel leaning into the warf. Over the two years since the project had stalled the ship had become a floating warehouse. There was stuff everywhere Rainer Cole's scavenged equipment, engines, light fittings, tanks, ventilation units, outdated electronic - even video - equipment, plywood and timber - some of it useful, maybe, at some point in the future. Also some of the original fittings. However, at some stage in
her history the Minesweeper had been stripped of her engines, crane, cable lockers, most of her wiring and valuable brass fixtures. The building of the main venue space - where the wheelhouse formerly was - had been started but not completed. There was a box-steel frame covered with a recycled carwash roof, but no walls. The fore deck had been soundly redecked with marine ply, sealed and painted, but the stern - above what had been the Wardroom, or Officers' Quarters - had been covered over with a large tarpauline. As we removed this, Andy put his foot through the deck and almost disappeared down the hole in the rotted oak.
Summer 1956 - Shotley Harbour, Suffolk In the wheelhouse, Captain Henderson watched HMS Ganges through his binoculars as his ship, HMS Ledsham, approached her from the mouth of the Stour river. The white ensign and all colours were flying aboard the Navy training ship, and the officers and trainee cadets were gathered on deck to welcome their Royal visitor. Henderson told his first-mate to take her along-side, and went up to join Leiutenant Evans and The Duke on the top deck. His Highness seemed a nice enough chap, but from the odd remarks he let slip was apparently a fascist sympathiser. Henderson had had bitter personal experience of the Nazi U-boats during the war, so steered clear of the subject. Eventually they came to, and the Duke was piped aboard the Ganges. Leiutenant Evans ordered the men at ease, and they all stood around waiting. Henderson and Evans lit cigarettes, and stared out to sea. "I suppose you're as fed up as I am, Evans, of serving ferry duty for the Ganges," "Indeed I am, sir." "Not exactly why you joined the service, is it?" "No, sir. When in blazes are we going to see some action?" "Perhaps sooner than you think, old chap. Things are hotting up in the near-East."
"Are we going to get a shot at it, sir?" Henderson leaned over the railing and flipped his cigarette over the side. The sea breeze blew it back onto the lower deck. One of the crew, O'Brien, spotted it, picked it up, and puffed it back to life. Henderson watched silently, whispered to Lt. Evans "Keep it under your hat for now." It was a fine, calm day. In July 1956 President Nasser of Egypt nationalised the Suez canal provoking an Israeli invasion and a short-lived colonial panic from Britain and France - otherwise known as the Suez Crisis. By early November the Suez Crisis was all over, and HMS Ledsham under the command of Captain John Henderson was ordered to sweep Egyptian mines from the canal.
Late Summer 2002 The only potentialy habitable space on the ship was the crew quarters under the ply decking up front. There were cupboards, a Baby Blake sea toilet, and space for a bunk. We started moving stuff out of there and stacking it further back. A few days later as I was tidying up with my son, Ben, and just as the tide went out, the ship fell over. Ben almost fell off the starboard side, but managed to grab onto a post. The redistrubution of weight had upset the fine balance on the keel - we were now leaning away from the warf with nothing to hold us up. Several hours later the tide came back in and we fortunately floated level again. We ran around shifting as much weight from starboard to port as we could. Things gradually settled down again. Over the next couple of weeks I moved aboard. By then it was mid-October and the weather was still bright, warm and sunny - a good thing because there was no heating. There was also no electicity, lighting, water, cooking or toilet facilities (the Baby Blake had probably not been used since the 70's). I was living in a huge floating shed - an unfinished shed. At the end of October the weather abruptly changed and it was suddenly winter.
VII ~ Minesweeper Mexico Chapter Three
San Cristóbal de las Christmas (part 2) “The Revenge of Don Juan” by Joe Fur Long The time ticked slowly on as I sat alone silently sipping my mezcal and munching my borderline burnt baguette. Now that all the work was done, I felt slightly lost. Was I happy, relieved, nervous? I remembered the exact same feelings from our first show at the Undercurrents – was it enough promotion?, there´s loads of things on this weekend, are the bands gonna show up? (classic one). I looked around the room for the hundredth time to make sure the images hadn´t fallen down and the dodgy double sided tape (no blutak in Mexico) was doing it double-sided mission of both sticking to the wall and my highly valued - but still pretty cheap in Stoke Newington if you supply your own watercolour paper - portfolio prints that were definitely NOT for sale. What was for sale however was more crazy hats (which I managed to sell four of as I was waiting for 200 pesos each). I also had my drawing cards I use in London for donation or exchange. The exhibition itself was a varied show. I had my favourite drawing and photos of murals completed in the years before at festivals etc, featuring also the body art work I do with Happy slap Boutique at Boomtown Fair Festival. As well as this was some of the works from Tulum and the solitary months in the Caribbean to try and expose a contrast between the London inspired themes and works before I knew of places as beautiful as Mexico, crossed with the work done here away from that world. The difference I could now see was that clear in the older pieces yet not from new stuff was I focussed more on subject matter and trying to prove a point with the work, less attention to graphic detail but more on impact and surrealism. The topics, which always carried some weight back
home when hung here heralded the tone of a deathbed repenter, trying to scream at the world rather than exhibit inside it. The work completed here I noticed for the first time carried a more inquisitive nature, more attention the construct of the piece and playful, seemingly made by someone humbled and in awe of life rather than trying to mess with it. After some serious chin-stroking I suddenly had no time to ponder this as suddenly, magically, crowds started rolling in to the venue, scarfs pulled over red noses and peering into the gallery space Relief is my favourite human emotion. Love is pretty good of course, and hope etc, but pure, raw, un-cut, RELIEF really hits the spot for me. Probably because I am such a stress-head. I felt this miraculous emotion in all its soothing sexiness as I saw the jolly groups of people who´d chosen to come down and check out the weird güerro´s art show and adjoining live music which turned out to be one of the most popular acts in San Cristóbal de las Casas – phew… I got to work on the Live Art and socially explaining the pieces as best as I could as my Spanish was still pretty bad. My translated explanation of the Minesweeper project however was gaining attention and was causing those who read it to look closer at the work and pull friends over to see also. Everything was rolling. For a bit or variety I wanted to do a free-style live art piece, without much subject matter but more as some fun for the crowds around me. Anyone who spoke to me I asked to give me something to draw into the piece and with ideas ranging from an old tree to a superhero who does not know why he is a superhero with no superpowers, the piece had the desired effect and created many nice talking points. A beaming smile was hanging from ear to ear as I knew already it was a turning out to be a success. My first foreign solo show. Good vibes, and it still had more days to run! Another collective was invited for the night and was running a stall at the front of the venue with stickers, screen-printed books and posters all on donation. I liked them immediately, really nice crew called Tapatista from Guadalajara in the middle of the country. Their work was political and shared the same DIY dynamic as Minesweeper
– they ran a self organized social centre in their city where they lived, worked and printed as well as organizing local events for the community. After chatting a bit I learnt that they have an event coming up, the second installment of ZINFUTURO a DIY , autoprodiction festival in the same vein as Crack! Festival in Rome. They invited me to come and show my work and print at one of the studios nearby . I accepted. The music had started and the party was going full on in the other room, live dubstep and reggae-hophop styles from Macka B da local Mc with da dreads down to his knee. Turntablism too and a really great female vocalist but I can remember her name… The crowd were cool to full of boozed-up Christmas cheer and I was happy to see lots of locals there too not only travelers. That’s what I like about this venue, due to its political and socially minded events it bridges the gap which was always quite apparent to me between tourist/traveler/eurohobo and the local communities who lived in these beautiful places. I was dancing my arse off, was a wicked set and I could tell the venue were happy also with how it all went. Was an interesting Boxing day! Was a great feeling, basically everyone I knew and many of whom id given a flyer too that I didn’t know before were there, and all the effort felt 100% worth it. After this point in the evening I can´t remember too much more of what happened in any real detail as there was a lot of mescal flying around but all went really nicely, I think we went to an afterparty but I might be confusing that with new year… What´s important however remains – the show was a triumph and the venue were happy to continue. Yes mate. The days after were very pleasant, dipping in and out of the venue to say high and straighten things etc and wander around in the post-Chirstmas-pre-New Year bubble of alpine Chiapas. I felt like doing some new things. I had heard about a shaman called Don Juan who lived in the surrounding mountains and had Temazcal ceremonies (and others) on his land. Now I had heard a few things about this man before, a friend of mine saying he had seen him make
rain stop by throwing his coat at the clouds and another telling me he was also a black belt in Kung Fu. Intrigued, I decided to mission up to the land on New Years eve with some guys I had met in town who were from the notorious northern bordertown of Juarez (one living in Juarez, studying in El Paso USA). The more experienced of the two claimed that this shaman had changed his life and he was now his disciple, the other had never done this before either so I decided to stick with him as we approached the land. The idea of a temazcal is this. You and many other people cram inside a handmade mayan sauna and through the intensity of the hot coals, really load chanting and expression of inner feelings ( as well as some undescribed “medicine” that gets burnt on the coals) your spirit, mind and body are completely cleansed – Just in time for New Year! ¿Sounds great, No? After an hour or so of walking we arrived at the compound and a small group was already there chanting and collecting firewood. The lad was beautiful looking over the town and the rugged beauty of the mountains all around made me feel very happy to be there. There were huge stones in the middle of the pit and the well-crafted flames engulfed them turning them red hot. The structure of a small hut was standing close to us and I helped everyone cover it this with multiple layers of very thick fabric. A truck approached down the hill and everyone around became hushed and excited. It was him. I was imagining some kind of priest -like figure with a pet eagle or something like that but he was actually just quite normal looking. A small man with a big ranch hat and boots climbed out and approached us. He definitely had a presence though I´ll say that. He walked over, blessed the fire and started talking about a large rock as if it was a large turtle - I suppose it did kind of look like a turtle. I didn’t quite understand but everyone else seemed to smiling, but after he blessed us all and the place in general he went away to my disappointment. I asked myself why, but I guess I just wanted to see some magic deep down but I was left with a very clam and controlled feeling over me as we all stripped down to our underpants and crawled inside the hut. What followed was really, really intense. I imagine most saunas
have limits on how hot they are are but even after about 5-10 minutes after introductions were made this grew to be so stiflingly hot that I thought my skin was melting and my finger nails curling and burning off my finger tips. With the chanting, talking (which to be honest I could really understand which didn’t help much) and whatever it was burning on the coals the whole time (my diagnosis: salvia) my mind in the pitch black started going into some very strange places to escape the heat. I had the strange sensation I was switching dimentions in order to get myself into a more powerful position to handle the environment I was in, but in a fashion a bit like a pre-teen girl skateboarding for the first time. When it came to my turn to speak I sweatily babbled something along the lines of “thank you for accepting me inside this mountain and I have no problems but some questions with the life today” and started chanting, curling in a ball and kneeling upwards to try and gain cool air that was not there – this lasted a VERY long 2 hours, with the door occationally being opened so more coals could be brought in, in case we ran out. By the last half an hour, I had accepted in my delirium that I was probably about to die here in this sweat lodge and that there is no way at all my foreign system will ever recover from this ordeal and the burns inside my nostrils and eyelids would ever heal back to the way they were. Everyone around me, young and old were screaming, crying, shouting or praying in the darkness – I was screaming too, tongue flailing toward the roof, I couldn’t take anymore! This was it! The end of Joe´s weird life in an even weirder situation: Sweating to death in a salvia trip in my boxer shorts!!… But then, miraculously, the door opened and it was over. I WAS TO LIVE! I crawled out, my eyeballs rolling in my head still as I neared the fire to cool down. As I stood up felt faint and nearly fell over. Everyone started hugging each other, probably elated as I was that they had also survived and we all ate fruit and dried off). I sniffed the foul liquid that had been sucked out through every poor pore of my body. It smelled of London, cheap alcohol, pavement, cigarettes, stress, free parties and boats. I was a new man! I was high like snowtopped mountains are however so I could not really figure out what the effects on my reeling mind were in any kind of long term cleansing
sense but I can say I felt really good to be out of that odd hut… I shook hands and thanked the guys who invited me there . “We´re going to another one tommorow, man, 4 hours this time! Wanna come?” . “Fuck that!” I replied beaming and slowly, after saying my goodbyes, I edged slowly down the mountain and made my way home. I did learn something else about temazcal effects first hand though that New Years Eve. It resets you in a strange way. Also tolerances… Of course, being new year, I did drink a hell of a lot of Mezcal and partied till the next day – but strangely my normally resolute body rejected this totally and I was sick like a dog the next day. Like a REALLY sick dog! My body could not handle any liquid of any kind, I had a raging fever to the point I was hallucinating in my bedsheets begging the stars for just one drop of water to stay in my cursed body for more than 5 minutes!! This continued for about 5 days, it was really cold too. I went to see a healer in the town and she asked me about the days previous... I explained about the temazcal and the heavy duty New Year also and she looked at me as if I had just poured salt in my coffee. It turns out that intoxication of any kind after that ordeal is a really bad idea. She explained you are supposed to rebuild yourself again into a stronger being than before slowly as you have been brought back to square one in many senses, otherwise it can have a bad effect on you (as I experienced…). I wonder if this was what Don Juan was saying to the turtle rock… After that wore off I went about my business as usual, and arranged to have the exhibition extended for another two weeks which the gallery were happy to do. With this bonus I quickly jumped into Guatamala with Raf for a 5 days to renew our Visas and came back safe and sound (bit of a brutal edit there but yeah was mainly hiking and horse riding, some dickhead stole my coat but to be fair I did leave it on a chair, Guatamala is really beautiful though…) There were other art related events on too in San Cristóbal on our return and I went to check out what was happening in a new project slightly apart from town called ´Arteria´. It was a beautiful
piece of land with two large house built onto it divided into two gallery spaces with workshops, live music, dance and food downstairs served in the beautiful courtyard. It was a foreign money place and amazingly well spent! The theme was African dance and abstract artwork but what was really cool was the carved jade skulls and sculptures on show around the venue. The project had only been open a very short time and this was one of the first events, but clearly years of effort had gone in to turning this place into a real art palace, it had space for stone turning specifically as well as a huge kitchen and workshops for young people also. Really beautiful and I left wishing to be able to come down and see what could be possible in this space another time. But we had missions to continue: on to Guadalajara! Three days drive away in the state of Jalisco. The proud home of tequila and the noble blue agave, as well as the beginning of the barren deserts of the north of Mexico. I did one last temazcal just to freshen up before I left (seriously! and stayed sober afterwards for a week! much better) and after saying our quick but heartfelt goodbyes to this beautiful town which had been home for 2 very happy months we packed everything into the trunk of ol´Jetta and got the funk out of there… To be continued…
~ Minesweeper Collective ~ May 2015 firstname.lastname@example.org www.minesweepercollective.co.uk