Thursday, 9 July 2009

Trade City @ CHIPS

Finally getting round to writing something which is not about the Cornerhouse.

New Islington is a weird place. For cyclists it moves between two extremes, beautiful quiet roads with lovely new surfaces to dual-carriageway, bumper-to-bumper-traffic, broken-glass hell. It's not an easy place to get to, even if it's just a few minutes walk from the Northern Quarter.

However, this awkward combination of untenable luxury flats and knackered social housing is actually quite a suitable context for Trade City (4 - 19 July). This is the first exhibition from Contemporary Arts Manchester, a new, not-for-profit consortium of arts organisations from across Manchester.

A rather tired looking set of objects and audio visual installations are sprawled around the space, the unused and incomplete space on the ground floor of the improbably named CHIPS. Even though I may be fully conversant with the theory behind the pieces, "site specific" piles of building materials or rubbish stuck to the walls, for me at least, needs a little more pizazz if they want to be more than the sum of their parts.

However, there is something hopeful and virile about the rather disorderly and earnest way that the exhibition is (not/group) curated. Though I don't really like most of the stuff that the exhibition contains, there is a maturity which cannot be denied.

This is a classic case of something not just being my cup of tea.

Jeremy Deller's Procession: An Exhibition @ Cornerhouse

Quieten down and listen carefully, pay attention you at the back! You are going to hear something very special which doesn't happen very often.

I bloody love the current exhibition at the Cornerhouse.

Jeremy Deller's Procession: An Exhibition (9 July - 23 August) is the friendliest and most inspiring thing I've seen this year.

Sadly, I missed the Procession itself - sea swimming and getting sunburned in Anglesey was my consolation prize - but the if it was anything like the exhibition it must have been really something. The slightly manic, ethnographic, nonsensical atmosphere in the galleries of the Cornerhouse was invigorating. At the opening the attendance of participants from the Procession itself meant that the sea of faces was different to the usual Cornerhouse crowd. The banners were fascinating and the photographs beautiful. The inclusion of the recreation of that Bury Cafe had an even weirder than expected effect on the gallery space.

Where POI was lovely and wistful in the best bits, Procession: An Exhibition is just sheer joyful and perfectly odd. How often does that happen in an art gallery?

'Nuff said, go and see.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Jeremy Deller’s Procession: An Exhibition OR "Everything That Happens Will Happen When You're Away"

I woke up this morning with the words of the Eno & Bryne song transmogrified into "Everything That Happens Will Happen When You're Away"

And It is kinda true, apart from summer exuberance - never mind the sweaty red faced damp grimyness of summer in the city - means that no event is just an event. Events all must have a full gamut of meta-events, otherwise how do we know they've happened?

I'm pretty annoyed about missing Jeremy Deller's Procession. The combination of nutty frivolity and hefty provenance makes very appealing. Although, I can't help but think that a parade like this is the perfect opportunity for some creepy Cape Fear/I Know What You Did Last Summer type shenanigans. If anything happens along those lines, let me know.

However, this parade is not just a parade. For those intent on spending the weekend in rain swept Wales, the Cornerhouse is presenting Jeremy Deller’s Procession: An Exhibition (Thu 9 July – Sun 23 Aug). Curated by The Salford Restoration Office, the exhibition will bring together a collection of objects from Deller's Procession.

Luckily, the exhibition looks to be just as playful, obscure and thoughtfully flippant as the event it is spiralling off. The inclusion of a full size replica of a cafe in Bury - which I'm rather sorry I won't get to see as a float - which will apparently be serving tea and cake is a master stroke. Is there anything which isn't better for the addition of tea and cake?

( I'm looking at you, Yorkshire. )