A bit late for a proper ‘review’ attempt, but The Peachy Coochy event at the Riverside was wonderful. David Gale, who curates and presents this bastard, live-art based, ‘fringe’ version of Pecha Kucha (renaming it to avoid being sued by originators Klein/Dytham) is certainly one of the best MC’s I’ve ever come across, and perfect for the job of making the 150-odd audience squirm in their seats – not to mention the artist about to present who, perhaps as a kind of initiation, had to endure a hilariously protracted intro, often spiralling off into carefully constructed red herrings to make it seem like he’d forgotten the increasingly anxious ‘coocheur’ he’d begun speaking of. I was glad I’d been put first on the list (and that he knew very little about me).
Tonight, and every last Thursday of the month, David hosts Peachy Coochy at Toynbee Studios. Information here. The Riverside version was curated together with Adrian Heathfield and Tim Etchells, as a kind of satellite event to the first London showings of Forced Entertainment’s achingly empty, desperate show ‘Spectacular’. Very soon after Tim’s invitation, I decided to let my contribution carry on where another project had left off: ‘This Site Could Be Yours’ was something Britt and I started a while back and, perhaps on purpose, never really finished. We invited a number of friends – artists and writers in their varying fields – to write ‘fantasy interventions’ in response to 40 photographs we’d taken of various sites / landscapes. The title was taken from one of the photos – of a road that, bizarrely, I’m about to travel along as I type this on a bus heading down to the West Country (the field is no longer empty… I leave it to your imagination).
Some of the pieces are great. I love, for example, Melanie Wilson’s here, for this travelator in Lisbon.
So I started writing my own scenarios. I posted a couple already here, and here. The images I chose were my own, with the exception of the one by Edgar Martins (2nd of above links), one by the amazing artist Nicolas Moulin (from a series of 50 altered photographs of Paris streets showing the city deserted with all the buildings plastered with concrete from the second floor down, effacing all signs and words)…
and another I’ve long been fascinated by, from the papers some years back, of the pope being entertained by acrobats while being ‘officially’ photographed.
For each slide I decided I would define where the audience was. I liked the idea of being practical about it, whilst allowing the descriptions to do their thing, which I hope came over as more than just ‘wierd’. The surrealism, if that’s what it was, remained for me rooted in two things – my past (many of the photos were from places I’ve lived, where things happened to me… the one here is of my father in about 1930, on his honeymoon which I cherish as the only photo I have of him with unkempt hair), and our future: ecological disaster, phenoma beyond our control, real hope as ephemeral and fleeting, violence, traffic jams.
I think I’d written about ten of the twenty scenarios when I had the idea to try and link them up. What I ended up with was in some senses ‘one show’, although the absurdity of that spilled into a wider picture (or fractured memory) of a lifetime today, and the question of our role as audience within it. Without wanting to make a big deal about what amounts to another six minute forty second slide show, writing it has been a huge pleasure and maybe the start of something bigger. I’m going to carry on with this thread anyway, and perhaps at some point present results at Toynbee Studios (Mr Gale winked and whispered that he’s always looking for new recruits, so the hope is founded.)
*Reading David’s own blog here it seems he’s gone further and joined up his own contributions at PC to make a forty minute piece…
I presented it the other day at Cafe Oto with a soundtrack, a bit more time to prepare and a huge screen. It was great to have it alongside the other work by the Not Applicable crew for their night of film / sound (a nice write-up here). In the meantime I’m aware of needing to take more photos, and think more carefully about it too. On that score: the work of photographer Patrick O’Hare, whose work I saw at PS1 a few weeks back. Spaces which at heart have a function, where we see a function (to come, or gone), but where the function doesn’t have anywhere to go, it’s ceased up, given up, drowned in atmosphere and the melancholy of the moment, a colour, a time of day. There’s a familiarity to these scenes, we’ve seen them before; either from within buses cars and trains as we flash through our ‘developed world’ landscapes, or at some other time, during sleep.