Dream Logic private view at Tina, We Salute You, Thursday 3 July 2014.
William Burroughs 100 - Nova Convention
Hidden behind the bruised face of the long-defunct Foundry bar sits the Red Gallery. Until Sunday 13 July, this former industrial space will house a selection of photographs by James Hamilton. Anyone vaguely familiar with the work of William S. Burroughs could be forgiven for expecting a wealth of images containing the same lurid pornography that is prevalent in his prose. This is Shoreditch, after all. Instead, we are treated to a modest collection of candid snapshots documenting the proceedings of the Nova Convention.
The Nova Convention was held in the winter of 1978 at multiple venues in New York City. The three-day multimedia retrospective celebrated the work of Burroughs, who had recently returned to the United States after a spell away in Tangiers and London. It was organised by Columbia professor Sylvère Lotringer, poet John Giorno and Burroughs’ secretary James Grauerholz. The event boasted an impressive roster of appearances from the city’s cultural luminaries and included Patti Smith, John Cage, Frank Zappa (filling in for Keith Richards at the last moment) and Timothy Leary, as well as performances by Suicide and the B-52s. Thurston Moore, who co-curated this exhibition with publisher Eva Prinz, was also in attendance:
"Photographer James Hamilton was where I could only wish to be. I sat in the audience of the Entermedia Theater for the Nova Convention of 1978 excited to see and hear Patti Smith, Frank Zappa, and the honouree William S. Burroughs as a 19-year-old CBGB denizen. I lived a few blocks away on 13th Street between Avenues A and B. James Hamilton was backstage with a photo-pass courtesy of the Village Voice. It was another assignment on his schedule as a noted news staff photographer. On any given day he would attend at least three or four events in the New York City milieu of civics, arts and beyond."
Recordings of talks and conversations from the convention hang framed on the gallery wall, directly opposite Hamilton’s photographs, but the musings embedded within their grooves are sadly mute. These recordings do exist online, but it seems a mistake not to have included them in the show, especially considering how this exhibition uses the Burroughs centenary as an excuse to explore the writer’s affiliation with popular music. It is genuinely interesting, however, to see many of the boys and girls responsible for disseminating progressive ideas in their lyrics and compositions rubbing shoulders with the seminal writer of the Beat Generation. There is a portrait shot of Phillip Glass playing a solitary organ; eyes closed in organised ecstasy. Another shot shows Frank Zappa, solarised by the stage lights, taking a beguiling pause during his reading from Naked Lunch. John Cage looks astounded at an unknown companion in one photograph, while Patti Smith pulls a goofy face from behind her guitar in another. Merce Cunningham’s swan-like posture - caught mid-way through a performance - is probably the most beautiful image here, as it can be easily appreciated on its compositional merits alone.
The presentation of the show highlights Moore’s continuing propagation of the DIY aesthetic. Poetry zines, sticky ephemera and a limited edition catalogue published by the Ecstatic Peace Library are available to purchase directly from the gallery. It is advisable to look through some of this material, if time permits, as it will help to put Hamilton’s intimate images into context. One note of caution however: if one is after grotesque descriptions of quotidian filth projected through a poetic prism stained with flaking junk, it is best skip along down to Cargo after viewing. Lots of messy things going on there.
Photograph by James Hamilton. William Burroughs 100 - Nova Convention: runs from Tuesday 1 July until Sunday 13 July. Open Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm. Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington Street, EC2A 3DT. Free entry. For more information visit redgallerylondon.com
The Winter Rose Motel, Emulsion paint and masking tape on plaster wall, 2014
First solo show. Come. Bring flowers. Here’s the Facebook event page.
Quite chuffed to be taking part in the Hackney Flea Market Arts Fair in August. There will be zines, outsider comix and visual jazz on sale. Feline Vomitus will be sharing a stall with Indestructible Energy. Come one, come all and buy us some lunch!
Spectrum / Tripwires – Electrowerkz, London - 04/06/2014
Twin white dwarves comb the beach, imprisoned in eternal dance.
A song works sixteen hour shifts, inside the struggling coltan pits.
Time, still born, stands crooked in the centre of the sands.
Blank waves, tumultuous and strong, hover idle by the shore.
They are met by despondent valentines dressed in black,
Who dig and strive and long for love.
Like homeless men who taunt the law with fuzzy bones and naked threats,
The tall thin boys with naught to prove and only innocence to lose,
Embark on final slow-dive-ride, headfirst into the water wall.
Their battle cries enrage cascade, which gladly swipes our friends away,
And buries them beneath the surf.
Errant cells celebrate the crucifixion.
Scarecrows in the monastery garden discuss botany under the silver rays of the moon.
Trojan horse galloping on silver wheels.
Peter Kember shakes his fists at monoliths, like a fallen soldier.
Red-shirt meme drives the drone along.
Greasy fingers ladle up mud, and spread the viscous honey onto burnt sustenance.
Purple mutations keep in time with vice.
A frail old man crowns a plastic chair, patiently waiting for his appointment to be cancelled.
Stone castles are no match for sonic winds.
Thousands of insects fornicate wildly atop a blind, colourless beast. Setting the record.
Little fires document beguiled inexperience.
Quiet start and slow beginnings, but songs are bricks which build monuments.
Embers pirouette in the eyes of attentive guests.
Satisfaction. Revolution. Suicide. It’s all there, if you care to look past the anxiety.
Phantom birdcall closes the continental symphony.
Work has begun on the mural at Tina, We Salute You. Photography by Laura Smith.
This video was made by my friend Ralph Cumbers for the Bass Clef song i think you are ready now for the eternal point of no return. It is taken from the album inner space break free. This video is excellent, but contains strobes, so be careful.
The Sunlight Service Group, live at the Power Lunches Arts Cafe, London (23/05/2014)
Civic duty performed… let’s go get drunk!