London Gallery Wrap Up: Bank and Sandback

This gallery wrap-up is driven by the BANK exhibition at MOT INTERNATIONAL (so many caps!), taking in the David Jablonowski show at Max Wigram and a Fred Sandback show at David Zwirner along the way.

BANK at MOT

Although not a London native, I first heard of BANK  in relation to Melbourne’s own cheeky anonymous collective, DAMP and also as provocateurs in the YBA era of UK art. I have always admired what MOT are doing as a gallery, so it felt right that the two seemed to meet up.

The exhibition is a collection of images, ephemera and original FAX BAK words, as well as a sculpture, a painting and a beautiful light box. It does all seem to be flirting with the exact commerce of art that the collective jabbed at for so long, but I’m sick of artists not being allowed to bite the hands that feed them, so I’d prefer to embrace this particular quirk.

If i had a medium-sized pile of money sitting around that I could invest in art, I would promptly buy all the FAX BAK originals. Not only because they are brilliant, but because I thoroughly enjoyed laughing maniacally at their content.

I didn’t enjoy having to stifle said laughter because nobody else was laughing, but goddamn the works are hilarious. Not just for straight-up wit, but for the sheer embarrassing close-to-home-ness of it all. All that artspeak that I have been super guilty of using in press releases and blurbs about my work, all ripped to shreds.

I enjoyed looking through the table of ephemera (if slightly overwhelming) and the lightbox was quite a beautiful object, as was the large-format black’n’white photograph. I can honestly say that I really didn’t like the sculpture of the BANK team – it was a little too Devo without being Devo enough. But to not like one thing in a whole gallery of works – their not bad percentages.

David Jablonowski and Pavel Büchler at Max Wigram Gallery

I was intrigued by this show. The installations featured a lot of synthetic display-type, media-influenced materials, loads of silver powder coating and plastic shapes, combined with moving image and/or light. I’m still not sure if it was to my particular taste, although I wasn’t completely repulsed. I am a little bored with install-on-floor trend in galleries, and would have liked to see the work get up a little – but there was a bit of 80s Patrick Bateman feeling about the show, which was interesting to me.

To be honest, I actually preferred the Pavel Büchler series of acid and nicotine drawings in the back – something about the simplicity of form and oxidisation process had me. I enjoyed looking at the studies of hands and the survey of the ways in which people hold cigarettes. And I usually can’t stand work that glorifies smoking, drugs or alcohol (I think we deserve better art than that).

Fred Sandback at David Zwirner

The highlight of the afternoon was easily the Fred Sandback show.

His works are site-specific installations of wool/thread lines and geometric shapes that play with perspective, triangulation, linear planes and dimensions. He uses simple colours, often black, red and blue, to outline and alter the relationship between the viewer and the space.

I first saw his work in Vienna at MAQ years ago and it was so great to see work like this installed in a commercial gallery; to play with the space through perspective and simple movement, to have my sense of vision and spatial assumptions messed with in such a delicate and concise way – voilà.

The spiral staircase was the perfect place to install a floor-to-ceiling work and the variety of works and spaces created in the gallery was perfect, and the gallery was packed. So deserved.

Beats X Mog X HTC

This was an interesting link I came across on Monday night, thanks to digital twink Elliot Bledsoe.

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/02/digital-notes-beats-headphones-buys-a-streaming-music-service/

Yes. Beats (by Dre) is now moving and shaking. OK, so really it’s HTC purchasing music infrastructure, but still, the power is coming from a headphones company.

Headphones have previously been subordinate to the tech and the music, especially if they’re part of a company that has investments/arms in all three, like Sony. Headphones have always been ‘peripheral’, or ‘accessory’, not market-leading, or game-changing.

Say what you will about the actual quality of the cans, what Beats by Dre have done for the image of headphones (not to mention their 25% market share, sheesh!), fashion and the flip between music and listening – I’m a massive fan.

Mog’s service will continue under the same name and operate as a separate company, according to Monday’s announcement. “Both Mog and Beats share a common goal of creating a more premium sound experience and emotional connection with music in the digital era,” David Hyman, Mog’s founder and chief executive, wrote in a note to subscribers.”




Looking forward to seeing how this pans out.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

The bottom line is not a design tool

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Yesterday I finally got to see the inside of the Seaford Surf Life Saving club. The AIA (Australian Insitute for Architects) Award-winning building designed by Robert Simeoni is amazing and after seeing its exterior when first finished, I was hankering to check out the insides and have an delightful coffee in their cafe building, right out on the beach, raising some cash for the Club in the mean time.

I’m not sure how Mr Simeoni feels about it post-occupancy, but there is a big difference between the intentions of the person who designed the space, the person who is running the space and the people who are using it. I can’t speak for the SLSC, but the cafe is such a disappointment – it oozes bottom line design.

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The space itself is all clean and raw materials – joined recycled pine beams, marine ply, stainless steel struts and wooden floors. The kitchen itself looks well-designed and full of potential. But, at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon, there were 5 tables taken, when it should have been rammed (even with the rain) and it was almost as cold and lifeless as the fake bodies being rescued by the crew next door in their surf life-saving drills.

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The tables were cheap plastic crap inside (sadly, the beautifully-recycled wooden ones stood saturated outside) and the chairs were even worse. There were off-the-shelf salt’n’pepper shakers (I know, small detail, but so obvious when they’re on the table!) – no sense of either cosiness, or attention to detail. Or even community spirit. It was all a little rushed really.

It is painfully obvious that the owners of the beach cafe have seen dollar signs and tried their best to replicate what they think would be a good look, without a sense of connection, passion or authenticity. Hell, even the line protecting the birds from the glass (or vice versa), was a half-arsed line of orange tape, obscuring the amazing horizon. surely they could have found a better way that that?

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When you design (?) with this in mind, you make a cold place and your job difficult. In fact, a place with a little attention to detail, good atmosphere and true spirit – half the effort in running a social environment is taken care of. When people feel comfortable, or welcome, cosy – you know, it’s hospitable – the service, food and quality of coffee doesn’t get quite so much scrutiny and you can afford a bit of leeway.

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In this case, with such awkward spaces and empty feeling, the sub-par food, stiff bunch of staff, bad logos and uniforms at the beach cafe (and that title!) were obvious. In fact, we didn’t even want to stay for coffee and/or sweets, that’s how ‘perched’ we felt. given the acclaimed building exterior – a tourist attraction and worth being proud of – it was disappointing.

Additionally, if you want to design across a bottom line – if you have 5 tables an hour NOT making an extra $12 on upscales, for 8 out of 9 hours’ trading, 5 out of 6 days a week, you’re losing a minimum of $2400. Not to mention the lack of customer retention – the novelty of the beautiful building will wear off soon and you have to sustain them somehow.