In total I think I was sent about 7 emails from the organisers of ‘Margin‘, cost cure a fashion trade show based in London. After receiving a press release, dosage registration details, medical registration confirmation, update, invite to the launch party and a final reminder, it would have been ridiculous not to have gone along to see what the big fuss was all about. So go along I did, accompanied by our Advertising Manager, Michelle, and her infamous Canon camera.
The exhibition was based in the Vinyl Factory Gallery in Central London, a stony, white washed building that has the same gritty creative feel as the art galleries in East London. So far so good!
The show was a little smaller than I’d expected, but was ideal for Amelia’s Magazine as alongside established streetwear and designerwear brands it featured loads of new quirky designers. One of the first things to catch our attention was the coats and jackets from the Gonsalves & Hall stand. The designers have added a little flavour to their Autumn/Winter collection by teaming what would otherwise be quite sensible coats and jackets, with strikingly bold buttons, giving them a girly more contemporary feel.
I feel Margin featured a little too many streetwear labels and customised t-shirts, which don’t really take my fancy, but there were plenty of diamonds in the ruff. Check out pics below – yet again courtesy of Michelle.
The Olga De Polga stand
One of the many fabulous dresses from Olga De Polga
Another of Olga De Polga’s wonders
Brainlove Records began in 2003, dosage setting up camp firmly left of centre and offering shelter to genre benders, approved weirdos, and and all manner of arty bands. No one would be deemed too strange, Brainlove promised, proclaiming themselves to be the label for all those bands who were too “far out to fit in anywhere else, all kinds of bands and artists that the label felt deserved more exposure.”
Years later then, and the not-so-old-yet-not-so-young Brainlove have amassed quite an array of odd-ball artists (36 in total, if their website is to be trusted in it’s up-to-datedness) and their new album ‘Two Thousand and Ace’ is a taster of what they have on offer.
Disregarding the advice not to judge an album by it’s cover, you can tell – just on looks alone- that with ‘Two Thousand and Ace’ you are are in for a kaleidoscopic, messy journey through all the most loony tunes Brainlove has to offer. If images of ponies prancing through a rainbow filled twinkling universe don’t give you a clue about where this album is coming from then I don’t what else can.
Cats in Paris start the album off as it is destined to go on with the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink (there’s even dogs barking in there) sound of ‘And Ugly’. Building up like the countdown to a blast-off, this synthy,
keyboard-tastic tune really feels like it should have been used on some 80′s kids cartoon about spacemen. Pseudo Nippon carry on in the same crazy cartoon theme, although anime would obviously be a more suitable animation style for this twisted J-Pop peddler. A treat for all those old school Nintendo nostalgics out there, the high octane ‘Constellation Jebubu’ will gnaw into your brain and happily sit there, tearing your brain cells out and replacing them with brightly coloured pixellated acid crystals.
There is a lot of glitchy craziness on offer throughout this album, and though it’s all great fun sometimes a change is as good as a rest. One of the highlights of the album is when Junkplanet offer us some respite from the full on Korg-o-rama with a wonderfully melodic ‘The Half Life‘. Starting out as a bluesy a capella round, it gently breaks down into a fuzzy, mashed up electro buzz (see, there had to be some ‘electro’ in there somewhere!). Also showcasing some very pretty singing skills are Alice Musics. Their track, ‘In My High Heart There’s A Fox Dying’, is a pure vocal piece that goes gently around and around until you feel calmly hypnotised.
More acoustic goodness comes from Jam On Bread who is a master of low-key, wryly funny, sweet songs. In ‘I Heart Labrador Records’, lone band member Steve strums his ukulele along to mournful pinings that he was signed to the afformentioned Swedish label. It’s quite good of Brainlove records to allow this blatant cry for a record deal onto this compilation, considering, but I’m sure they saw the funny side.
Speaking of funny sides, something that all Brainlove bands seem to share is a good sense of humor. Applicants’ jangly number entitled ‘History Has Been Kind To Spike Milligan’ is testement to this, as is Napoleon IIIrd’s ‘Zebra’, which includes the line “I’m not surprised that you’re the last zebra, those white stripes never suited you, they look better when they’re on my wall.” Both the Applicants and Napoleon IIIrd are sparkly, rocky, indie types, a sound that is also well represented on this compilation (with Bearsuit and Aela being welcome inclusions).
Some other tracks to listen out for on ‘Two Thousand And Ace’ are Modernaire making science sexy with their Leslie Hall-esque track ‘Science’ and The Oracle’s consuming ‘Sunny Graveyard’, a personal favourite, with its cut up voices acting as beats becoming sort of reminiscent of the Chemical Brothers ‘Dream On’.
Keyboard Choir interestingly see ‘Two Thousand And Ace’ as a chance to offer up a weird, yet wonderful, electronic rap sampled piece with ‘In This Situation, Thinking Won’t Help’. It’s a bit different to the spacey, warpy calm feeling tracks they usually give us, but sits really well alongside all the other tracks.
Brainlove’s new compilation is a tumble through many different styles, each as weird as each other. Whilst Brainlove as a record label may represent bands from various genres, this album will delight those who are especially into electronic madness and humorous indie. You will definately get on well with the Brainlove sound if you don’t take anything too seriously (in fact, perhaps a pinch of salt would make a good free gift with this album?) With a limited number of ‘Two Thousand And Ace’ available, those who are in need of a happy helmet should hurry along to the Brainlove site and snap up a copy. Whatever the weather outside, this album is sure to bring the sunshine indoors.
Nothing could quite prepare me for the ‘Domestic Appliance’ exhibition at Flowers East gallery on Kingsland road. Looking at the website, no rx I was intrigued and excited to go to an exhibition full of moving, generic interactive sculptures – well, who wouldn’t be? It’s a pretty unique occurrence. However, no one warned me how moved, impressed, tickled, and indeed, mentally scarred I would be by the whole experience.
Art galleries are usually peaceful places for quiet contemplation. Not so Flowers East whilst Domestic Appliance is in residence. As I entered the gallery I was immediately confronted by an electric drill noisily doing unspeakable things to a hoover. This was Kristof Kintera’s ‘Conflicts of Interests’, and it set the tone for an exhibition that would be dominated by merged objects that are usually inanimate but now, in a rather unsettling way, seem to have been given minds of their own.
Around the corner I was met by a strange and elegant creature. Tim Lewis’ ‘Pony’ was less horsey than it’s name suggests – the animatronic beast actually resembled an ostrich – but it was slowly pulling it’s own little pony cart around a corner of the gallery. A feeling of uneasiness came over me (something that happened often during this exhibition!) as I realised the animals limbs looked to be made of robotic human arms. This meant that, whilst also resembling a giant bird, the creature was making very human movements. The familiarity of such movements jarred with the fantastical nature of ‘Pony’, making it rather weird to watch.
Curiouser and curiouser. This rabbit hole was getting more and more disturbing, as I was drawn to Georgy Ostretsov’s ‘Massage Chair’. This piece, which I can only describe as vile, consisted of a chair and doctors overall. Emerging from the arm of a doctor’s overall, which was casually thrown over the chair, came an all too life-like plastic hand that was constantly thrusting it’s bloody fingers in and out of a gash within the white leather seat. With the use of the doctor’s overall came all sorts of connotations of botched surgery, sadomasochism and gynecology. This horror was like a car crash, you couldn’t bear to look but also couldn’t tear your eyes away. Who’d have thought that an overall, a chair, a plastic hand and some motors could stir up such strong emotions?
Upstairs, things were slightly less confrontational – although only very slightly. This was still all very intellectually engaging stuff. I had my feminist hat on as I perused Theo Kaccoufa’s ‘Dream River’. This single bed, immediately feminised by being dressed with a pink bed spread, contained a vulva-like opening that revealed a swirling whirlpool leading to an abyss. It felt very like a Sarah Lucas piece, the object becoming an objectified female which is laden with strange sexuality and also warnings of what that sexuality might mean.
Also from Theo Kaccoufa were two more dream like objects; ‘Fountain’, a chest of drawers streaming with water and ‘Monument to the Isms’, a wooden chair that seemed to have fallen over and was wiggling its legs like a beetle, on it’s back, trying to right itself.
Humorous respite came in the form of Jim Bond’s ‘Dust’. With this piece a never ending dance was played out between an electro magnet that attracted iron filings, quietly moved forward and then dropped them before it’s partner, a brush, opposite. The brush then, rather pointedly, sweeped the filings back over to the side of the table the magnet resided on. Like two siblings quietly tormenting each other, this piece had me reminiscing about my own petty sibling squabbles.
Nik Ramage’s ‘Jelly Wobbler’ was the most fun piece in the exhibition, and no surprises for guessing what the purpose of ‘Jelly Wobbler’ was.
The whole time I had been in the gallery I had sporadically been hearing CRASHES!, BANGS! and WHALLOPS! On investigation I discovered the source to be Antoine Zgraggen’s terrible trio of cutting, slicing, and pulverising beasts, which could be heard pummeling things mercilessly from afar. Drawing closer you could see that the three weapons of destruction (Der Entzeier, Der Grosse Hammer, and Die Zerquetscherin) were held safely behind glass and only controlled by the artist himself. You could choose your victim from the trinkets hung up around the walls, which gave a lovely sadistic touch. Then, Zgraggen would take your victim, place it on the chopping block and you could stand in the dock, big red button beneath your finger and execute your prey. It made me wish I’d come prepared with a copy of The Sun.
Choose your victim…
…watch as the artist puts it in the dock…
…press the button and…
…the calculator gets it!
Last, but not least, Max Dean’s ‘Robotic Chair’ was not only the most impressive, but also the most poetic piece on display. The piece was basically a chair, a robotic chair indeed, that had completely collapsed. Carefully the seat of the chair was blindly moving around the space and collecting together it’s limbs, attaching each leg in turn. Finally, like a new born deer, it slowly pulled itself to it’s feet. For a minute or so, upright and static, it remained as a chair, seemingly fulfilled. But perhaps this chair aspired for more? Almost as if the realisation that it could only ever become the sum of it’s parts had hit the imaginative little piece of furniture, it suddenly crumbled to pieces. Once more broken up and useless, there was nothing for it to do but go back to piecing itself together again. A lesson to us all? A metaphor for the human condition? A comment on depression? Maybe I think too much.
‘Domestic Appliance’ was thrilling on many levels and, honestly, this is quite rare in most run of the mill art exhibitions. A mixture of the humorous and the horrifying, I would recommend anyone with a strong stomach and an inquisitive mind to go and take a look. Those with a nervous disposition might be best off staying well away!
Domestic Appliance will be on display until 13 September 2008.
- ‘Another End’ at Vilma Gold – Gallery Talk by Tom Morton
- Free For Wall! part 2 at The Brick Lane Gallery
- ‘Other Visible Things’ : Jayne Archard and Adam Knight Exhibition
- Exhibition Review: A World of Glass – Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg at Camden Arts Centre