10 years pricking the art voodoo doll 2005-2015

Month: May 2007

Arts Hub Column July

Modern Masterpieces for Nothing

In the week that London has become the art capitalism capital according to the newspapers Moogee takes great pride in unveiling a cheap alternative. Yes in DIY capital U.K. where the B&Q managers are rubbing their hands over their Flood spend bonuses Moogee is proud to offer every householder their very own version of Classic British Modern Masterpieces. The Mini Modern Masterpieces range will be the envy of friends and neighbours and give you a cachet in the International Art World you could never have dreamt of. 

First up how to own a Gormley (current sculpture will set you back £187, malady 200 in February at Sothebys) without re-mortgaging the house. First buy a pack of Jelly babies. Secondly select an orange one for rust coloured effect and place on a table top. Place head at table top level and pretend you are far away. There you are!( Top tip add Nice biscuit and have your own Angel of the North!) 

Second Modern Masterpiece – Rachel Whiteread ( auction record £288, sale 000 and a student of Mr. Gormely at Slade). In homage to her Tate installation. Purchase a box of sugar cubes and place inside an empty shoe box. Voila your own Blue Peter recreation of a modern masterpiece! Moogee will source more Modern Masterpieces for the nation in the months to come.

Todays final offering is a tribute to Dame Tracey Emin (no gong in the honour’s list  yet but sells Neons for a measly £20, sovaldi 000 each and ‘drawings’ for a bargain £3,600) surely it only a matter of time before the greatest living female artist is rewarded for her scintillating cutting edge..umm what was her Venice show ..oh yes..her Times Postcard said it all ..it was how she would imagine O’Levels if she’d ever taken an exam….Moogee is saying nothing her words speak volumes. Her partying and dancing seemed somehow more substantial than her inept watercolours and boring neons could ever be. To replicate this artistic feast Moogee suggests you tear a few pages out of an Egon Schiele Taschen book and chuck a few Joseph Beuys drawings in for good luck as for the neon simply scribble some irrelevant quotes on a piece of paper in day-glo felt tip and there ya go a tribute to the U.K. Pavilion in no time. Yet another Mini Modern Masterpiece to enjoy in your own home….this time with an international seal of approval..to suggest that her prices will rise because of the Biennale is of course foolish beyond words.

One artist Moogee cannot offer a mini masterpiece of sadly is David Hockney ( painting record price £2.6 million ). Sir David (surely he deserves it as much as Mr. McKellen and others) is simply too complicated, erudite and dare we suggest it ‘good’ to be compressed into a mini format. His latest landscape painting at the Royal Academy offers a pointed contrast to the foregoing artworks in that he actually engaging with ‘brain, hand and eye’ as he put it.

Such notions are hard to compress into sound bites, photo opportunities and general spin. Maybe our new PM will spark a spot of honesty in politics and that will infect the body art too..

Moogee says it long overdue. 


this an excerpt from debate on Guardian…

Jonathan Jones doesn’t deserve some of the more ridiculous responses he has received on his Guardian Blog but at the same time he hardly warrents being called a critical colossus on the Angel of the North scale either.

I regard Gormley’s career as being more an exemplar of the power of privileged education and background in these isles than an example of cutting edge (whatever that) significance. With a rich-kids glee he has showered our countryside with reproductions of himself which in parts ok but reeling off acres of pseudo-philosophical justifications for this sculptural navel-gazing is another thing.

Mr. Jones (and I cannot resist bringing in a quip alluding to the Dylan song here) does know some of what is going on and he is using his status as a Guardian paragon of virtue (I suspect) to poke the dear reader with some good old critical slash and burn. I can forgive this but for his demoting Moore to third-rate Picasso. Moore represents a hell of a lot more about the development of U.K. modernism and how the art world and its possibilities have radically altered in the last 5o years(could a ‘working-class’ man of Moore’s stature (pace Hockney) exist again and are we in for more and more Gormleys?). These matters are far more interesting than tittle-tattle and pot-shotting.

More erudition and less slipshod pseudo-criticism please Mr.Jones and if you want to see how it really done check out my blog below….I can snipe, slash, burn AND offer erudition…

Sniping is worthwhile if the target worthy and a potshot at a Gormley sculpture could be a fun way to spend a weekend. Maybe funfairs should have booths for air-rifling his clay figures..
Perhaps Me and Mr. Jones could arrange that…

 read full Blog debate at


Moving the furniture around


‘Muller’ IKEA 2007: Shaun Belcher Readymade exhibited at numerous locations around the country see Gallery page.

In an act of humility and contrition Moogee is going to go gently on the next exhibition at Angel Row…’Cutting Edge Flagship’ of the city of  Nottingham the home of the fresh and the brave….yeah right……NOT

The next show is titled ‘Business as Usual’ and never has this been more appropriate. Following on from the Parade …well…brisk walk..of the local luminaries we have an exchange show return from Zagreb…the jury is out on that one but it looks interesting…and this…. To say the ideology and curatorial positioning similar to some of the work in Parade shows is a given ..

I quote from Edward’s Axis page….

Sean Edwards’ sculptures set up situations that lead you into examining your viewing habits. Through a formal analysis of both the real and the fake, search often employing a notion of absurdity in the process, here Edwards aims to expose the machinery of our take on reality and to lay bare an object’s function and use value.

Already a prize winner for such cutting edge ‘interventions’ as painting the Slade School of Art doors orange…woo hold me back that is radical….sorry but sometimes this kind of pretentious and earnest research led ‘work’ just makes old Moogee laugh. Of course that work questioned notions of seeing…..hmmmm of course nothing flamboyantly self-advertising about it was there..no silly me….

We seem to be caught in a decade of furniture removal artists..forget trad materials young artists you want to get ahead these days just get yourself some furniture..it so cliched already it become almost laughable. I know art students are up to their eyeballs in debt but please somebody loan them some pencils, thumb paper, paints and wood and stone for god’s sake or we’ll all be sitting around rubbing our chins at another generation of furniture shifters…in twenty years time….

Funniest of all is the fact that these ‘FURNERS’ are always using slightly ‘retro’ chic furniture it seems poor old IKEA is just no good for a badly thought out readymade these days..maybe it’s the lack of a patina of age…or simply that using new furniture would not mean it looked conveniently distressed. In this show (and no I will not see it or enter the gallery – if they can be so boringly oblique why should I bother walking round what is basically a set of illustrations to a thesis) we also have research student..Professor Pathway Intellectual grade 3 reverse somersault..(extra points for research) in C.V. Maxine Bristow.

Dull theoretical base and her ‘surgery’ located in a ‘Centre for Practice as Research’ at University of Chester…woo more avant-garde fun and frolics I bet …(no Bowery aesthetics here, no Warholian underground no its Chester:-) Seriously the website says it all (in copious amounts) this is art as academic living and good luck to her it pays the mortgage. Portfolio reveals handrails, towels, bags..very post-feminist research etc etc ….to be fair looks a little IKEA so maybe unfair to apply retro tag. Again her own spinning yarn says more than I ever could…very successful she is too but I’d rather watch paint dry..literally…

 …through her own work which establishes a dialectic between the processes, materials, and accompanying discourses of needlework/plain-sewing and the visual and conceptual concerns of minimalism, she provides a model of practice which aims to challenge perceptions and generate new practical and theoretical perspectives and thereby open up a critical space for making which acknowledges textile traditions and conventions.

So there you go …to be honest I found the recent exhibition at Castle Nottingham by Catherine Bertola to be far more interesting take on this area with far more than its own thesis to air…indeed it may have been one of the most locally relevant and crafted shows of the year.

Finally and courtesy of the Seventeen Gallery London a couple of art stars ( U.K. South Conference League division two) of which I far prefer David Ersser’s rather amusing (first time) reconstruction of everyday objects in balsa wood. A kind of little boy’s rebuilding of the adult world instead of just a few gliders that invariably crash back to earth. Similarly the elegance and dare I say it ‘craft’ of his work is charming but once you have scanned through all the variations it does become rather wearing like seeing the same joke told again and again (never harmed Julian Opie or Prince Hirst the First) but that’s it…….he makes things out of balsa.

Check the seventeen gallery at http://www.seventeengallery.com/?p=2&id=4

One thing you can say about the ‘Furner’ Generation is they do look lovely at jpg level on the web and maybe that is what all this is all about. This generation are profferring ideas which only incidently need actual realisation. Lacking the finances to set up in studio spaces (average price in London currently £300 a month) they have opted for a practical but finally dehabilitating irony and distance that is driving them farther and farther away from the tactility of material interaction. We may soon see a reaction to this divorce from materials and technique and a lessening of the intellectual gliding. As grant cut-backs impact heavily on artist’s incomes a lot of the hangers and runways that coddle these flights of the ephemeral will disappear and a good many gliders will simply crash back to earth.

Moogee is getting known for his joking and revisionist approach to the nature of contemporary art but do not dismiss because they are jokes..they are serious jokes. I do not throw these comments out lightly. I believe there has been a lack of rigorous intellectual approaches and a good deal of what we see tagged with the fashionable and flighty word ‘successful artist’ will disappear and quickly. I witnessed this kind of irony and intervention many years back e.g. Richard Wentworth but then he was in the minority. Now every degree show has its ready-mades practitioner and to be honest isn’t it all getting a bit boring. Modern Art, or as it has lovingly been re-branded post-Saatchi, ‘Contemporary Practice’ (as if ashamed that anything to do with an advertising executive could be called ‘modern art’) has drifted down a cul-de-sac of its own intellectual construction. The worst and brightest offenders are the post Polytechnic university cohorts (a word derivitive of their original purpose – to fabricate engineers and crafts-people) who have created a monopoly on what does and not constitute the ‘cutting edge academy’.

However they are no more the inheritors of radical practice than Blair was an inheritor of the Luddites. It is a be-calmed ocean of theoretical limpitude…….I threw that in to show even a barking dog can engage in ‘critical discourse’:-)
A bit more intellectual and theoretical Luddism will be needed to throw off these shackles and enter a genuinely wider debate.

For every Susan Collis (our final participant in Business as Usual – 17 gallery again) whose blurb is almost supremely special….

Collis’ practice involves a subversion of time frame and visual perception through the manipulation of everyday objects. In the piece ‘Paint Job’, what initially seems like a collection of careless splashes and stains upon the fabric of utilitarian worker’s overalls are, on closer inspection, meticulously stitched marks replicating the accidental and spontaneous moment.

It’s almost like Spinal Tap for art when blurb after blurb repeat the same Derridaesque formulas….on and on it goes and where will it all end…..how many interventions in furniture can a small island like ours take?

The ‘fabric of utilitarian worker’s overalls’ sounds like a Virginia Wolfism on being confronted by these dreadful worker types….oh how simply awful ..I mean real workers….indeed perish the thought. Is this 1920 and we all off to Henley after this art larking over???

I am not asking for the Angel Row to fill itself with paintings of victorian children, Jack Vetrianos (who I actually think stronger than the arts elite will allow) and god-forbid …..landscape artists…but for every dull ‘new acadamy’ show like this there an equal show of painters, sculptors using more traditional methods who have been and are continuing to be ignored. I challenge the Angel Row to let Moogee curate a show of the ‘outsiders’ and I bet I can find work as interesting and as founded in literate theoretical positions and ambition as any of this.

I do not blame the Angel Row staff or have any special reason for focussing my criticisms on them in particular they very nice people and they simply doing their job as advertised. They are operating in a wider art world of funding cuts and general indifference to the visual arts which not stuck in a cheap frame at IKEA .

What I am highlighting is the fact that several generations of artists have gone unseen, unheard because of such obvious fashionistas…The reason? Well its all about a production line these days.

Colleges of art are producing more and more able graduates in all fields and one of the most over-subscribed is the arts especially, as Grayson Perry pointed out, it becoming a ‘finishing-school’ for the sons and daughters of the middle-classes. It may or may not be all ‘croissants and the guardian’ as he stated in a Times article but it is becoming a default option for young students who intellectually bright but who do not fancy getting a real job…..yet. For them a decade of moving the furniture does not mean housework (male or female)  it means making art…when not too intellectually or physically heavy.

There is an imbalance that needs redressing but does ideologicaly compliant art necessarily mean good art ? As for art schools reflecting the wider make-up of our society just go to any degree show. At any one time there are more Korean, Japanese overseas students on courses than home-grown minority students….it is not the white middle-class who losing out it is the Asian and Afro-Caribbean youth who missing the gravy trains….

My detractors, and I expect they already many ready to dismiss me as a ‘Peter Fulleresque Ranter’ , miss the point. Our art schools are not in as fine and dandy a state as the PR departments would like us to think. The quality of art-teaching and artworks is not as consistantly high as the same highly glossed advertorials in brochures (sorry Prospecti) would have us believe.The dreaded bottom line and financial implications mean some standards have been eroded, possibly terminally’ by these ‘advances’.

This ‘review’ did not need to attend the show which in fact not even open yet to address these fundamentals. The quotes above depending on your point of view corroborate or deny your own entrenched views on where that art world (international or otherwise) truly is. I am simply trying to prise some of the debating ground open so that the other side of the coin can be seen and allowed to shine a little. I and many artists like me have been sidelined because of it and in many cases quite unfairly. Balance may not be possible but surely every artist should be allowed to fly their kite/model aeroplane.

Remember the academy thought they were right in France in 1899 and look what happened there…nobody has an exclusive handle on the truth. Nobody is immune from being crap too…….whatever they may say….
As a beautiful postscript to these thoughts I suggest a singularly wonderful track by The Handsome Family an americana duo from Chicago now resident in the Mojave Desert. Their song ‘Moving Furniture Around’ says more than all the above ‘artistes’ with dare I say it more compassion, craft and genuine talent…but then they just travelling musicians…not academics or professional artists. Artists studios used to resemble workshops full of rebels..these days they operate more like architects practices…

p.s. amusing footnote – this show also uses the previously hidden and obviously fascinating space of the Angel Row store-room……just like Mr. Russell did in Parade….bit like babies and cardboard boxes at Xmas that one then…I wonder if it so rivetting why they don’t just open a storeroom up as a gallery and save on building CCAN for £15 Million it would be a hell of a lot cheaper…….

Arts Hub Column June

 Dog Bites Man


In a reversal of the time-honoured journalistic cliché and in heartfelt protest Moogee this week declares all performance artists like Mark McGowan as ‘fair game’ for us bewildered Art Dogs. For those not in picture Mr McGowan plans to eat a dead Corgi ‘live’ on radio. He has so far eaten a swan, purchase a fox and crawled around with a George Bush mask on and a placard stating ‘Kick My Arse’ which apparently almost brought the American president to his knees begging forgiveness…of course it did.

Moogee is busily preparing another sign called ‘Bite My Arse’ so the art-loving dogs of these isles will know exactly where to inflect their criticism. The words cheap gimmick, stupid and waste of space come to mind but hey he’s doing it for a noble cause you know and no doubt believes that this will raise the issue…when in fact it just makes the whole thing look like a cheap art stunt (which it is). Just how is slurping on a bit of Corgi flesh going to come over on radio? Will our peerless studio engineers stick a microphone close up so we can savour the gnashing of this self-declared ‘veggie’ on doggy gristle and bone? The old adage ‘no such thing as bad publicity’ may be put on hold in this case and as for the radio station…..must be slipping in the ratings war….

Moogee feels it time to separate the art ‘clowns’ from the reasonably serious and god forbid actually talented…guess which category this fellow will end up in….woof….contender for Moogee ‘Bone of Contention’ award 2007 already.

Meanwhile the collapse of western civilization continues apace and the art market continues to reflect the wider lunacy. Francis Bacon was a decent enough painter but was his ‘detritus’..that’s ‘rubbish’ in layman’s terms worth selling at auction? Indeed it just copped a near million notes for what?

Some old cheques torn in half, some misplaced paint and a few broken canvasses? It makes an old dog lose the plot and start barking even harder. Will rising art stars now collect all their sweet wrappers and old fast food containers in case they worth a mint one day? Though in some cases…you know who I mean..will bits of dead animal and old beds be art before or after they discovered to be rubbish? Maybe Mr McGowan’s next exercise could be to liberate that slightly mouldy old shark from its tank and eat that. Would certainly kill two birds with one stone and I expect that literally unless formaldahyde turns out to be good for the digestion. Would also bring the art market prices down if every potential dead animal buyer knew some carnivorous veggie lurking around the corner.

This would make a great sequel to Shaun of the Dead….Dog Eating Zombie Artists in 3D…..can see it now….woof, gnash, splash…a real Art Slasher Movie. Moogee retains all copyright to this idea and interested Hollwood Producers please contact me…Jack the Drip takes on a whole new meaning…

So until I bark again and in case some lunatic artist tries to devour me whilst I chasing sticks on the heath please be careful it’s a sad old world out there and nobody is safe…..not even the President or the Saatchis.

A Fairy Tale of Snottingham


Once upon a time in a far off land where the rivers ran with gold and hummingbirds darted between the lovely flowers and every house was bathed in a golden glow there came to a city a wandering stranger who had no name, malady just the clothes he stood up in and a head full of ideas. The city was called Snottingham and it was a good place full of good people and all was as it should be in the best of all possible worlds.

He was welcomed with open arms by the cheerful inhabitants and immediately given food and shelter and a place at the table in the grand hall.
When his mead was all drunk and his belly full he sat back and watched as a gallery of weird and wonderful artists paraded their wares before him. There were clowns and jugglers, acrobats and painters, poets and sculptors and even some artists so strange he could not discern what art they were actually presenting..some even said that not presenting their wares was the artwork itself. This bemused our happy traveller and he thought no more of it. All was good and in the best of all possible worlds such a bewildering array of talents was for the best.

Later as he slept the soundest sleep of his life he began to be assailed by strange demons that leapt around his head and taunted him. He saw the hall again but this time the artists, the clowns, the jugglers had all gone and instead he saw only the unhappy faces of the people and merchants grabbing their silver coins and hopping off down the stairs. The wonderful music and paintings disappeared and a moaning and a lamenting filled his ears and the ears of every inhabitant of the land. He awoke with a start and looked around. It was just a nightmare surely brought on by the mead. The room he lay in looked the same, outside the empty hall would look just as it always had done but something felt wrong. He could not put a finger on it but something had changed. In his younger days he had painted the odd picture and written a poem or two that had pleased the masters of other great halls so he thought this a fine opportunity to do so once again. His dreams of wealth, happiness and contentment would be fulfilled in this place of golden opportunities.

Our poor traveller had forgotten one thing. All this happiness was based on the largesse of the Red King who sat on his throne in a far off and magical city to the south. Every day his courtiers would travel far and wide with carts of lovely gold from the never-ending coffers to pour it down on the lovely people and their lovely artforms. There were rumours that that wise and noble Red King had done this to keep all his citizens happy. Also that every coin he gave out came with not only a price to pay but that they were running out. It was a shock when the next day the town-crier shouted out the news all around Snottingham ..the Red King was dead and a new Even Redder King much like the old Red King but just that bit Redder where it mattered was now in charge.

This Even Redder King was a wise and thrifty soul and immediately asked what benefits all these carts full of gold had brought. Up and down the land artists and administrators racked their brains and toiled over documents to present their evaluations…before they could do so the Even Redder King said no more of this tomfoolery and frippery we need to pay for a mighty battle in the wild east end where our finest talents will take on the world. The days of golden carts is now over….once and for all…

So the coffers dried up and the rivers ran with mud not gold and our artists and poets…..what became of them?

Well the great halls remained empty and the poets went back to their rooms and the artists, some painted on until their paint ran out whilst others who had never needed materials lasted longer but their survival was based on joining together and making sure that they convinced the people out in the markets and fairs that theirs was the great and true art even when they had nothing to actually show for it.

These were the best of the magicians our traveller thought . They have turned pure ideas into gold like the alchemists of old. But even here there were problems…more and more artists with no materials left joined their guilds and soon the only art on offer was non-art. What little pots of gold remained were jealously guarded by the newly appointed Dragons of Admistrador…there fierceness when cornered ensured the new Even Redder King at least had some lovely things to lay before the people when they got a little restless.
Slowly the city adjusted to the new regime. The happy hummingbird paradise of old was gone forever but still the kingdom remained calm and the people if not so beatific at least they had new places to enjoy the arts..The palaces of IKEA and CCAN helped soften the blow although some could not tell the difference. Real art had never been so affordable or so lovely for all and the new Palaces would bring new money from all across the globe. This helped the Academies where the Professors of Golden Loveliness who were running out of coins too were starting to feel the pinch and having to take less hoilidays each year…..these were serious times.

Our traveller had brought some questions for these artists and professors….but they did not like these questions..

He asked why some of the loveliness that had been created in the golden cart years looked so poor and lacklustre now ..surely with all those billions of coins pouring down the art would be equally magnificent and last forever too. The more he enquired the less he found out and then he realised that a lot of this art either did not exist or had been an illusion all along…

It was the pouring that was important as it kept up the impression that everything in the old Red King’s kingdom was well. The people who made this art could have been dangerous critics of the old Red King if he did not keep their bellies full and their circuses running.

Slowly the people of this best of all possible worlds realised that their artists were no longer happy and that some were talking of supporting another and nastier Blue/Green King who wanted to paint the world a different colour.

Panic started to set in to the little artists camps and they started to argue and grab as much gold as they could before heading for the woods. Soon the forests around Snottingham were full of camps of performance poets, constructivist sculptors, derridaesque clowns and old fashioned and grey-bearded painters and painteresses. There was no longer any harmony, no lutes and mead….just hovels full of application forms…

The new BlueGreen King rode into a deserted city after a snap election and took over and banned these people forever…he never had liked art anyway so that was pretty much a no-brainer for him.

As out traveller was escaping the new BlueGreen King he ran into one band of these artists who were now called Art terrorists. He recognized them from their wanted posters and their rather too tight green tights..the uniform of the eco-warrior artist clan…..they swung down from the trees and surrounded him..their green hoods and baseball caps hiding their eyes….

He was not worried surely these defenders of the true faith would save him or at least let him through safely to continue his quest. One even had a ‘nice’ middle class name …..Robin and he surely came from the posh end of town…

Sadly they didn’t because times were tight and funding had been removed they were forced to mug him, they took his mobile phone and wallet and pissed off…

Moral of this tale

Don’t believe in fairy tale endings….or art that never was and carts full of gold….leave that to the Leprachauns.