Thursday, 22 September 2011

“Weird for the sake of weird.” While it may have been written for comic effect, this flippant definition of Postmodernism, given by Moe Syzlak  aka the bartender in The Simpsons, pretty much sums up the general public’s take on an often misunderstood cultural movement.

Fortunately the V&A is here to set things straight. The museum’s ambitious autumn exhibition – Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 – promises to chart how Postmodernism, from its origins in architecture, came to dominate popular culture and design during the 1970s and 80s. Far from being gratuitous, the show insists PoMo was a deliberate rejection of the simplicity of Modernism in favour of a radical rethinking of design through humour, clashing styles, mixed references and vibrant images.

As well as high profile fine art pieces, such as Dollar Sign (1981) by Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei’s Han Dynasty Urn with Coca Cola Logo (1994), this comprehensive show includes everything from a hologram portrait of Boy George to a Mickey Mouse tea set. Video installations of Koyaanisqatsi, Godfrey Reggio’s mesmerising 1982 time-lapse film of a city at night and O Superman (1981) by performance artist Laurie Anderson should also be savoured.

Look out for graphic designer Peter Saville’s beautiful, pared down album covers, Hip-hop mix pioneer Grandmaster Flash’s trusty Technics and an extraordinary Constructivist Maternity Dress (1979), designed for Postmodernist icon Grace Jones by her then lover, Jean-Paul Goude. The latter is a necessary education for anyone who believes Lady Gaga’s outlandish style is every bit her own. 

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990 is open daily from 24 September 2011 – 15 January 2012 at the V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL. Tickets are £11.


This interview originally appeared on The Cultural Exposé


Monday, 19 September 2011

Seana Gavin, 'Taking Flight'

Super excited about Mindful Arts Festival, which kicks off this Thursday in the surreal subterranean Old Vic Tunnels in Waterloo. The main exhibition features work by contemporary art heavyweights such as Tracey Emin, the Chapman Brothers and Matt Collishaw, while the mini festival includes immersive theatre, a vintage fair, interactive design workshops and a whole host of bands, comedy acts, poets and performers. And it's all in a great cause too, with money raised going towards mental health charity Mind's creative therapies fund. 

The Old Vic Tunnels

Mindful Arts Festival runs from 22 - 26 September 2011 at the Old Vic Tunnels, Station Approach Road, London SE1 8SW.



Sunday, 18 September 2011

Noma Bar's 'Cut it Out' machine

I don't know about you, but normally when I go to an exhibition, I tend to stroll about a bit, look at some art, maybe scribble the odd note which I invariably later discover to be barely legible...  I don't expect to find myself using a huge, dog-shaped hole punch to make my own limited-edition art piece. But this is precisely what's in store at 'Cut it Out', graphic artist Noma Bar's new one-man show at Outline Editions. 

Visitors to the show feed paper and other materials into the beast's jaws to produce Noma Bar images that are signed and numbered by the artist and available to buy for £10 - £300. Not simply a fun, interactive add-on, this 'art-making machine' is directly inspired by Bar's work, renowned for its witty and intelligent use of negative space.  

On display too are a whole load of beautiful new prints, combining the minimalist, bold graphics, bright colours and playful optical illusion that have become Bar's trademark.

Noma Bar, 4AM

Noma Bar, Erotic Writing

Noma Bar, Pointed Sense

'Cut it Out' runs from 17 to 30 September at Outline Editions, 94 Berwick Street, London W1F 0QF. It will then travel to the Baltic Exchange for Contemporary Art where it will run from 14 to 18 October.

Free live drawing and create-your-own-cut-out-art workshop with Noma Bar on 24 September from 1400-1700 at Outline Editions. To reserve a free place e-mail



Saturday, 17 September 2011

Ostap Rudakevych, Aqualta_TimesSq-Night_NYC, 2009

'Imagined Cities', a new exhibition at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, is fresh evidence that some of the most exciting creative work right now is happening on the border between fine art and design. Curated by Dainow&Dainow, the show brings together limited-edition art prints by talented architecture graduates and professionals as part of the London Design Festival 2011.

Take Ostap Rudokevych's magical 'Cloud City'. Described as "a concept for provisional post-disaster housing", it shows vast, white balloon houses floating serenely in the sky, tethered to the decaying remains of houses below. In a similar vein, 'Aqualta_TimesSq-Night_NYC' is Times Square, but not as you know it. Pedestrians have become passengers in gondolas, bedecked with red lanterns, which move on water shimmering with the reflections of neon advertising signs. Although this ecologically transformed world at first seems poetic and remote, with climate change bringing increased flooding and other natural disasters, it's an urban scenario we will surely face more and more.

Or Catrina Stewart's 'London City Farmhouse' - a multi-coloured, multi-storey metropolitan development. Don't be fooled by its playful, ramshackle appearance this is an architecturally innovative response to the need for sustainable urban energy solutions, albeit one with a stinky side. The 'farmhouse' is essentially a glorified public toilet that generates power from human waste. Like Rudokevych's work, Stewart's is inspired by informal urbanism, which adapts in response to the rapidly evolving requirements of city dwellers. And as a fine art print it's really rather gorgeous. 

Catrina Stewart - The London Farmhouse Tower from Miles Langley on Vimeo.

Like cities themselves, these works and others on display here are shaped by ideas and teeming with possibility, but they are also beautiful yet affordable objets d'art in their own right. Add to this the exhibition's fabulously salubrious setting - a coffee shop and 'social hub' on Farringdon's Leather Lane, with lovely exposed brick work and even lovelier espressos - and I think it's fair to say we have something pretty special on our hands. Get down there asaps. 

'Imagined Cities' runs from 16 September - 13 October 2011 at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, 14-16 Leather Lane, EC1N.

Visit and

Catrina L. Stewart, London City Farmhouse


Monday, 12 September 2011

Crossness Engines House, Bexley

Ever secretly fancied taking a peek inside a stranger’s home? Well now is your chance. Open House London, the free annual architecture festival that lets you explore inside some of the capital’s most unusual and extravagant properties, is back.

Some of 2011’s quirkier examples are an ‘upside down house’ in Portobello and an eco-friendly hanging bathroom in Balham. But we’re not just talking luxury pads here. More than 700 buildings, of all varieties, will be open to visitors over the weekend of September 17-18, including the BT Tower, the Royal Albert Hall and Beefeater House, London’s last remaining premium-brand gin distillery. Plus at many of the sites, architects and engineers will be on hand to give you the expert lowdown on the design process.

And with a lively programme of talks, walks, boat and bike tours around this year’s theme of ‘the liveable city’, there’ll be plenty to satisfy curious minds – whether you’re a design devotee or just downright nosy. 

Open House London takes place on  September 17 and 18 at various venues around London. Some viewings must be booked in advance. For more info, visit

This originally appeared on The Cultural Exposé


Saturday, 3 September 2011

The starting point is simple. The result anything but. An imaginary line is drawn between Lahore Central Station in Pakistan and Liverpool Street Station in London. Ten arts practitioners from each country are commissioned to make new work responding to the urban landscape they encounter along the first mile of each end of the line. Slice, an interactive video installation at Rich Mix, shows the culmination of the project so far. 


By moving an arrow along a map of each city, you select which artist's video to watch according to its location on the line. All engage with a particular urban site but, unsurprisingly since the participating artists include performers, animators, a ballet dancer, a storyteller and a grime mc, the works vary massively, giving the exhibition an exciting, sprawling, collage-like feel. 

In Lahore, Asif Kanji recreates the sensory experience of moving through the tunnels around the city's central station. At a community centre in Whitechapel, performance poet Shamim Azad runs storytelling workshops with parents, while over in E1,  TBC Artists' Collective, inspired by dance theorist Rudolf Von Laban and novelist Italo Calvino, use just their bodies and a single red line to perform Khoros, a physical mapping of Catherine Wheel Alley. 

TBC Artists Collective - Khoros (2011)

But it's the cross-cultural collaborations  - such as the street art stencil by Nida Bangash and Steve Rosenthal, linking two trees in London and Lahore, and the soundscape by Kashif Mohsin and Matthias Kispert - which resonate most. This is not video art: many of these films are documents of work in progress. Watching them you wonder how the project will develop from here and what real artistic lines of connection between these two cities will come to replace the imagined one which kicked the whole thing off.

Slice: London - Lahore runs from 1-22 September 2011, 9am-6pm each day at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA. Admission is free. 

Watch the videos online at

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