This is a blog by Matthew Giraudeau with photos by Tim Bowditch. Over the next few weeks these will occasionally appear on our respective blogs, so take a look at my/Tim's blog if you haven't seen it already (delete as appropriate depending on which blog you are reading now…).

Monday: Mile End to Guernsey

We woke up at three this morning, waited for the saddest taxi driver in the world (twenty minutes late, broken sat nav, every traffic light red, Irish and apologetic) to drive us to Waterloo, got on the slow train to Portsmouth, enjoyed the fragrant smell of young people returning from Reading festival and finally arrived at the continental ferry terminal so that we could get on a seven hour freight ship to Guernsey.


As you can see from these pictures of David Angus, we had a beautiful day. What could have been a really nasty trip turned in to a nice opportunity for Tim and Dave to take some pictures, and all of us to drink quite a lot of cheap booze.

At one point, early on, I was laying on a bench, shielding my eyes from the sun and trying to get some sleep. I heard a trickling sound from above me getting louder and suddenly my crotch was soaking wet. I jumped up from the bench and swore. The cleaners were above me, rinsing the floor of the upper deck.


This is Alex. He approached us with a handful of money while we were on the deck outside the bar and asked me if I would buy him some cigarettes from the duty free. He explained that the staff members could only buy two hundred cigarettes every two weeks (at the time I was outraged but I've just realised that is quite a lot of fags…). Anyway, I don't smoke and it was something to do so I bought him the cigarettes. About fifteen minutes later he came back out and asked Tim if he would buy some for his friend. We laughed and Tim said he would do it in exchange for a few photos.


I thought the crew were Russian, probably through a mixture of assumption and prejudice, but it turned out they were mainly Ukranian.

Alex told Tim that the crew worked in twelve week cycles where they didn't really leave the ship. Last night was an exception - they were allowed off at nine and had to be back on board at seven. A night off. They went out in Portsmouth and got slaughtered (I paraphrase slightly).


Their shift starts at seven, the ship leaves Portsmouth at nine in the morning, sails to Guernsey and then Jersey before it makes the return journey to Portsmouth, arriving there at about six in the morning. That is twenty three hours on board ship, for what is, essentially, a single shift. We tried to work out how they took their breaks, and when they slept. Tim said he sees the same people working every time he takes the ferry, to or from Guernsey.

Later on, once we were at Tim's place (enjoying the kind hospitality of his family with much barbecue and beer), I realised that Alex must have been on his break when he came to ask us to buy his cigarettes, and that he was almost definitely the cleaner who had soaked my crotch that morning.

Well that was fun.

Thanks very much to the Royal Standard for having me. I had an amazing time in Liverpool, met some incredibly interesting people and (I think) made some great new work. I think the performance lecture (as of yet untitled) I gave on Monday night has really changed how I think about my live work, and how my writing relates to my art work.

I will have full documentation of the video pieces and performance on my website very soon, but for now here are some photos of the exhibition.

Thanks again to everyone at the Royal Standard, I look forward to returning to Liverpool - possibly for the Biennial shows that the Royal Standard are putting on, Hierarchies of Allegiance and Deadpan.

The Festival, multi-channel video installation with drawings, 2010

Disruptive Histories, series of digital videos, made in collaboration with Penny Whitehead and Daniel Simpkins, installation shots, 2010

Oblique Monuments, series of drawings, pen on paper, 2010
I've finally finished writing my performance. I was really worried yesterday, I felt like it wasn't hanging together at all. Today it feels different - maybe because I read it out loud. The reason I enjoy the lecture format is because, when spoken aloud, ideas are more easily related. When you are speak with someone, the conversation naturally jumps around; trains of thought are allowed to run on, and intimations of meaning or association - inflexion, physical gestures - are just as important as the words you say.

Although a lecture isn't a conversation, it allows for the same thing to happen. Ideas hang in the air, waiting for something relevant to give them meaning. I'll have images (my incredibly bad powerpoint slide show) that give space to the words spoken over them, a pictorial space that both pins down what I'm saying, and yet adds more context that frees up possible associations.

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All I have for you today is some pretty bleak Wikipedia links.

The Behavioural Despair Test. A really unlikely way of testing anti-depressants - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced-swim_test

and

The Pit of Despair, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. A sure fire way to create psychosis - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit_of_despair

I don't want to get in to a debate on the ethics of animal testing (because it is a complex debate and I don't have time, not because I'm not interested in it), but I find it fascinating that these tests were/are deemed to adequately replicate human psychological conditions, and in the case of the Behavioural Despair Test, to prove the worth of drugs

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And just as an afterthought, here is the youtube video of the paragliding donkey that was in the papers a few weeks ago. The image of the gliding donkey inspired a work that will be in the show on Monday, so I've been following the story with some interest.

I was going to post the original footage, but I prefer this version, because it has bad metal and pointless extra editing.

I used this image as the basis for a proposal for a piece of public art.


It must be the best 'silly-season' picture of 2010. A paragliding donkey in Russia.

I'm fully writing my performance for Monday now, so not much time to blog, but here is an interesting link to a follow up story about the donkey that appeared in the photo.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/aug/06/the-sun-russian-donkey-stunt

I like the duplicate donkeys - the faked identities of animals with no interest in identity. W.G Sebald would have liked it, very Borgesian.
BLOODY HELL.

I've only got two days of writing/practising before I present all my work at the Royal Standard on Monday.

I was back in London yesterday playing a gig in Kilburn. The name 'Kilburn' sounds sort of pathetic. I wrote a poem about Kilburn once. Here it is, for reference.

Kilburn

I've got this new toothbrush.
It's like cleaning my teeth with a razorblade;
but in a good way.

“Where are your shoes?”
Says a girl opposite me on the bus.
I nod towards the bus driver, who turns, smiles and winks.
“He has them” I say
“I swapped them for this toothbrush”

“Where are you going?” She asks.
“Kilburn” I reply.

In normal circumstances that would have killed the conversation,
but luckily my gums were bleeding;
she was intrigued.

We spoke for a while,
until we reached Kilburn.
I stood up to leave,
but passed out,
before I could get off the bus.

I have faint memories of her stealing my wallet,
but obviously,
as someone without any shoes,
she didn't find much.

She did however,
steal my toothbrush,
which, though the root of today's problems,
was the only one I had.

------

I'd never been there before, but it's quite an accurate portrait of the place.

Actually that isn't true. I quite liked it. We ate noodles at a place with formica tables, and then we drank in a beautiful pub (actually, we drank rum that we bought from the offy, but we did drink it in the pub). And we used the Overground to get there, and as I may have mentioned, the Overground is my favourite mode of London transport. It's for poor people who want to get round the city without going through zone 1 and it goes to semi-ridiculous places and it's a bit slow and annoying and always busy but without anyone ever understanding why. Fantastic.

Kilburn High Road reminded me a bit of Green Lanes between Manor House and Wood Green. Good kebab houses and a constant stream of human traffic - it's a mainline between two stations (Brondesbury and Kilburn) and it feels like it is both a destination and also a pit-stop between places.

And, obviously, it is home to the 'Kilburn Bandits'.

I went to the Walker gallery the other day. It wasn't great, though it did have more pre-renaissance painting than I was expecting, which was good to see. I liked the room of sculpture and plaster casts - how they were all shoved together in one space, flailing limbs and frozen screams.

They had a few of George Stubbs' paintings. I like it when people paint animals, especially horses. There is something absurd about horses.

This one particularly caught my eye. If you can see below, Stubbs was responsible for bringing a new genre, 'Animal Terror', to British painting.



The human-faced-Lion doesn't look very terrifying. It looks like a teddy bear.


"Stubbs borrowed one of the King's horses and produced the expression of terror in the animal by pushing a brush on the ground towards it".

Terrifying.
I just had a trip to A Foundation. I saw three good exhibitions.


Artur Zmijewski has an exhibition called Following Bauhaus, in which the artist known for his creation of situations in which conflict arises and is then examined, set up an art school based on the Bauhaus school that operated in inter-war Germany.

I might come back and write some more about Artur. I was interested in setting up a free art school, and I like the idea that someone so hyper-critical could suddenly begin to make productive (as opposed to deconstructive) art.


Tatsumi Orimoto is exhibiting a wealth of photos relating to his singular practice in a show called, Live In Translation. I like that he uses his Mother in his work, it is sort of sweet/disturbing. There is something alluring about his bread man persona. I'm instantly reminded of Bedwyr Williams.



Jon Fawcett also has a show there (it's a big old gallery - comprising an old furnace, knife factory and coach shed).


Jon's work explores techno-mysticism, science-fiction made real and unreadable functions. I particularly liked Wheel, a video of an overtly technical machine being assembled in paradoxical locations by a group of men.

I would love to write about Jon's work more - I love all the references to conspiracy theories and writers like JG Ballard. The work has this hyper-finish that brings to mind Heideggerian techno-fear and prelapsarian longing.

But I don't have time. I've suddenly realised that I have loads of work to do and I've not even had lunch yet.
As I've finished making the videos for my presentation on the 9th, I thought I'd present a load of the source material here, in its original form, as well as related videos that I looked at but never used.





















Obviously, this isn't representative of Liverpool. It's more representative of how Youtube operates as a filter. The stranger the title of the video, the higher up the listings it comes on a generic search term like 'Liverpool' or 'Toxteth'. The shorter the video, the easier it is to watch and comprehend. And the weirder the content, the more I'm drawn towards it.
I've been alone all weekend, it's taken me about three hours to get the wi-fi working, I need a wee and I'm sitting on the side of the table which means that I can't stretch my legs. I'm having a bad day

I've been working until late in the studio since Friday. I finally met Harry Lawson - I think he is the only one of the Royal Standard crew that I hadn't already met.

He wears a fine moustache, and when I met him he was also sporting this rather brilliant space shuttle t-shirt.


What a fine shirt.

I was going to write about the exhibition at A Foundation, which looks really interesting. It was only when I got down there today that I realised (by virtue of the sign on the front door) that A Foundation is open Tuesday - Saturday.

Yeah, it's been a real shitty day. I'm drinking wine and soda in pint glasses.

So, instead of that, I'm just going to present this documentary on Paul McCarthy.


A fair amount of the work I've been doing over the past two weeks has used the Viennese Actionists' various events and performances as source material. I feel like Paul McCarthy was the American inheritor of their disturbing and anti-value approach to art making. He feels like a 90s artist to me - even though he has been making his performance to camera stuff since the 70s. There is something very post-modern and self-reflexive about his approach to his art work as 'psychological', or 'cathartic'. But the ironic finger flex quotation marks are only in the telling of it, when I watch his films I'm genuinely filled with horror and sickly fascination.


Anyway, here is the link. I can't embed it because my computer keeps asking me to install Quicktime so I can't check if it's working. Yeah, it's been that sort of shitty day.

http://www.ubu.com/film/mccarthy_destruction.html