John Akomfrah, Gilbert and George, Marcel Broodthaers, Susan Philipsz, Jacqueline Donachie
The weirdest thing happened a few weeks ago. It was so damn strange. On Friday the 17th November, I was woken at the usual time, 5.57 am, by the alarm on my iPhone (just in time for Tweet of the Day on Radio 4, before the early news – not Donald Trump tweeting, but one of over 500 different bird calls, from oyster catchers to flamingos, accompanied by a voice-over from an ornithological enthusiast). I vaguely remembered I was in my brother’s spare bedroom in Longniddry, as I lunged sideways across a pile of books, magazines, and newspaper cuttings scattered across the bed – The Guardian, Art Monthly, Clive James’s North Face of Soho - to hit the Stop button on the phone. And as I turned, it felt as if the room was turning with me. In the weak light of a frosty dawn, I could see the bedroom cupboards and the bookcases follow my rolling motion, and I thought I was going to be sick. I headed for the bathroom. I was sick. The more I tried to walk in a straight line, the more the room spun left, and then right. I brushed my teeth. Splashed cold water on my face. I stumbled back to bed, holding on to doorframes and wardrobes to steady my path. I knew I’d had some very strange dreams through the night, but couldn’t remember what they were.
I tried to explain it to my brother. “It’s not like flu at all. Or at the other extreme, not like food poisoning. It’s something quite different,” I struggled to explain my symptoms. “I feel seasick.” That was it. I’d felt like this before. Occasionally on the lighthouses, in a small rowing boat in rough weather. A few years later, on a fishing vessel converted to a tourist boat, in the Aegean, sailing from Ios to Santorini. No rain, but blue skies and gale-force winds. A group of English public school kids singing hymns – Rock of Ages, if I remember correctly - to keep their spirits up. Our backpacks and suitcases bounced around the deck. Several of us took turns to hurl over the side.
Back in Longniddry, I spent 24 hours in bed, trying to lie as still as possible. When I did get up to the bathroom I would dry-retch into the bowl and comfort myself by remembering Billy Connolly sketches involving creme de menthe and finely diced vegetables. On these expeditions to the kitchen or the bathroom it was as if I was a cast member of the TV documentary Trawlermen, rolling and pitching through a cold, dark ocean. All I had to eat was dry crackers. But as midnight approached I felt well enough to sit up in bed and do some Googling. I typed in something like “I feel seasick but I’m on dry land.” And immediately Dr Google came back with a list of headings along the lines of “Feeling seasick, but you’re not on a boat.” That’s it, I thought.
Some entries said that jumping out of bed too quickly could bring on such an event. Or rolling over very quickly in bed, as I had done to switch off my phone.
I continued to scroll down, and soon came to page after page that warned about seasickness being brought on through watching high definition, IMAX movies. Not that I had been. One heading, titled “Why do 3-D Movies make some people hurl?”, began, “Nothing can ruin a good movie faster than the sudden feeling that you're about to throw up. But for many people, the images in 3-D or IMAX movies look so real that they mess up the brain's ability to sort out the signals coming in from the senses, and trigger that queasy feeling. Researchers who study this type of nausea call it cybersickness.” One such is Andrea Bubka, who researches cybersickness at St Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J. She writes, “Dizziness, headaches, and nausea happens because the brain receives conflicting information from the senses.” There are sections further down on the inner ear being confused by IMAX images, and even symptoms of poisoning being induced by big screen content.
And then I remembered. Of course! I’d been so cocooned within the seasick misery of the past twelve hours that I had blocked out what I’d been doing the day before, the week before, the month before. The day before, I’d gone to the Talbot Rice Art Centre within the grand old buildings of The University of Edinburgh. John Akomfrah’s three-screen video work from the 2015 Venice Biennale had been running for a few weeks (and closes on 27 January), but I had still to see it. When I remembered its title – Vertigo Sea – and when I remembered its rolling-through- the-oceans-of-the-world subject matter, in the highest of high definition, I also remembered that this is what I’d been dreaming about all night. The gallery’s biggest space had been fitted out to professional IMAX standards. The sound system was superb. The cocktail colours hallucinogenic in their vividness. For fifty minutes I sat there transfixed, my eyelids hardly blinking. It put me into an almost hypnotic state. What I believe supermarket psychologists call “the blink factor”, where bright lights and thousands of tiny coloured packaging images send shoppers into a trance-like state and a buying frenzy.
John Akomfrah’s early work was with the Black Audio Film Collective. They were formed of six black British and diaspora multi-media artists, active between 1982 and 1998. Akomfrah’s on-going themes deal with cultural amnesia, mortality, and ecological issues. I hadn’t dipped my toes, or rather my consciousness, into Vertigo Sea for long before I realised it was going to be a roller-coaster of a ride. More than a collage, it was a mash-up of archive images from the BBC Natural History Unit and elsewhere, that went well beyond the Blue Planet populism of David Attenborough. Yes, titanic whales dived into the blue deep. But there were also sepia archival footage of slaves in chains, thrown overboard, referencing the Zong Massacre of 1781, basically a genocidal insurance scam. Polar bears were hunted in the Arctic, crashing down on the ice, in time to the hunters’ gunshots. Brigs such as The Caledonia left Arran for Quebec, as part of the “Highland Clearances”. Elsewhere, whole Highland glens were denuded of people and replaced by sheep. Images frequently leap from one screen to another, adding to my sensory confusion. Melville’s Moby Dick, Virginia Wolfe’s To the Lighthouse, Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra are all part of the mix, musically tagged to what the room notes describe as “tragic opera and melancholic requiem”. Central to the whole narrative, like a Caspar David Friedrich character in a tricorn hat, is freed slave Equiano Olaudah whose autobiography about the massacre, published posthumously, helped outlaw the slave trade in 1807.
When I get up to leave, already a little wobbly on my feet from sensory overload, I notice the room has filled up with people. I was the only one when I first entered. By Monday morning, after a dreamless sleep, I am fine again.
On the 17th October 2015, a date that would have been my father’s 96th birthday, I am in Hobart, Tasmania, for the opening of one of the largest exhibitions ever mounted of the work of Gilbert and George. I’m part of a press contingent at multi-millionaire gambler and polymath David Walsh’s MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). I am also there to interview Olivier Varenne, the exhibition’s curator, for Art Collector magazine. Olivier has possibly the best job in the world. Every year he has a meeting with David Walsh who sends him out with a wish-list, and many millions of dollars, to buy artworks for the collection. Olivier has also co-curated every exhibition there since this totally unique, and mostly underground, museum - roughly twice the size of London’s Saatchi Gallery, and still expanding - opened less than a decade ago: solo shows, most on a vast scale, by Matthew Barney, Hubert Duprat, Marina Abramovic, Wim Delvoye, Katthy Cavaliere, Celeste Boursier-Mouginot, Christoff Buchel, Cameron Robbins, Jean Hubert Martin’s Theatre of the World that built on his Magiciens de la Terre, and more recently The Museum of Everything. MONA breaks all the rules of curating. An Erwin Wurm red Porsche sits between an Egyptian sarcophagus and a Jean-Michael Basquiat painting. An Anselm Kiefer library of lead books counter-balances a shipping container with video screens linked to Christian Boltanski’s studio in France (the cost of this work rises every day until the artist dies. If Boltanski lives a long life, he becomes very rich. If he dies soon, David Walsh gets a bargain). A digital concrete maze by Brigita Ozelins, near a suite of drawings by Louise Bourgeois. And a Damien Hirst Cholera Seed, listed on the MONA website under the tag “Stuff David bought when he was drunk”. You can wander, in a dazed state, from a Delvoye Cloaca machine (Food in one end, shit out the other - Walsh owns more than any other museum), to an ever-expanding landscape of James Turrell light pavilions.
On the final day of the weekend’s celebrations, Olivier interviewed Gilbert and George on the stage of a large Hobart theatre. He began by saying that it was the easiest curating job he had ever carried out. “They don’t like curators,” he said in his soft French-Swiss accent. “They want complete control over everything. They work out the hang. The lighting. The catalogue design. There was nothing for me to do…they do everything.” They sat there, nodding agreement, one artist in two bodies, as they see themselves.
Behind them hangs a large, russet banner with just one word on it:
And over the next hour, when not reflecting on their earlier careers - their drinking sculptures, their glitterball performance of Flannagan and Allan’s Underneath the Arches - they talk about their next big project. In 2015, they’ve already started working on it. It is called Fuckosophy.
London: 21 November, 2017
Just over two years later I’m trying to navigate my way through the streets of Bermondsey. My hands too cold to operate the direction-finding duck on my phone, I keep them in my gloves. The kindness of strangers points me along one street after another, past upmarket tanneries decked out with Christmas lighting, and boutique beer emporiums serving over-priced tapas. I’m looking for the still fairly new White Cube gallery. Nowhere near the size of MONA, it’s still one of the world’s largest commercial galleries. It has a central spine that looks like an airport corridor, all marble and expensive neon lighting. At least five huge galleries lead off it, and then others off those. I’m here to see FUCKOSOPHY. But I won’t get in. Somewhere inside, Olivier Varenne is already there. He texted to say he was flying in from Geneva (by private jet to City Airport. Unlike me, with my well-worn Oyster card and even weller-worn shoes that are beginning to let in the icy November rain). I gaze in astonishment at the crowds queuing to get in. Contemporary art in London is still popular, even though the yBas are sadly turning into elderly non-Europeans. Don’t get me started on Brexit and the dumbness of the ruling elite. I count twenty people and visually double them, then quadruple them, until I get to a ballpark figure of between 600 and 800. Waitpersons with Ned Kelly beards or fake Jimmy Choos, wheel round bins of Beck’s Bier to placate the surprisingly patient horde. It will be too busy to see much inside, I reflect – or should that be fuckosophise - and head back to Borough tube station. I have to go to Brussels tomorrow to see a Marcel Broodthaers exhibition. I have some emails to send. I’ll return to G&G next week.
Brussels: 25 November: I am staying in a cheap but comfortable hotel not far from Central Station. On my first full day in Tin Tin town, I in fact leave it to make a return day trip to Antwerp. I have made plans to visit the vast factory-converted studios of Tinka Pittoors and Kris Fierens. In reality a “campus” of studios with various functions. I first met Kris and Tinka in Melbourne, when Tinka was in the Biennale of Sydney (2014, in Carriageworks). Curated by Juliana Engberg, the city’s 19th Biennale stretched across the city and the harbour and was titled You Imagine What You Desire. Tinka subsequently gave a lecture on her work at RMIT University. A group of us crossed the road later to the Captain Melville for some art talk.
Back in their living area of the Antwerp studio we eat well. They smoke and drink. I have recently had my second biopsy report back after another endoscopy. The good news is there is no sign of cancer, and I am sharing my gut with a condition known as Barrett’s Oesophagus, which sounds a bit like a kit home that you assemble at your leisure – full of twisting corridors and blocked drains. So I am now a stranger to spicy food, coffee, and alcohol. But my heart seems to be ticking along nicely, and I try to keep my sense of humour on the absurd side of manic. Kris offers me apple juice and we once again talk art, small countries (geographically speaking) – Scotland and Belgium – and big countries, Australia and China.
Tinka tells me she visited Stromness in Orkney on a school trip. Why do I find this surprising? Possibly because I’m used to telling overseas friends (with undisguised missionary zeal) about unique centres of excellence like Stromness and Hobart, and never expect that they’ve already been there.
Later, we drive from their outer suburb into the centre of Antwerp, and visit seven or eight galleries, museums, and churches that are hosting an expanded art event called Ecce Homo: zie de mens (which Dr Google has just translated as “Ecce Gay: see the man”. Sounding a bit like a Lou Reed song from his Transformer period).
Tinka and Kris drop me off near Antwerp’s wonderful railway station – more like a Gothic cathedral. It had been one of those very special days. Followed by another…
The exhibition I am going to see the next morning, in one of Antwerp’s many Royal Museums (in this instance The Magritte Museum) – for the next issue of MUSEUM magazine – is a double-headed show of the work of Rene Magritte and Marcel Broodthaers, two of Brussels favourite sons. And, with Broodthaers fictitious Museum of the Eagles, a firm favourite of yours truly. An additional treat, it juxtaposes their work against those whom they influenced – Martin Kippenberger, with his take on Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa (I look long and hard at it, and wonder how it would go alongside John Beard’s interpretation off the same work), James Lee Byers, Barbara Kruger, Ed Ruscha, Keith Haring (and his stylised version of The Is Not A Pipe), Robert Gober, Gavin Turk, and Jan Vercryuse.
There’s something of a trend going on in the international world of curating. Find real, but in many cases fairly tenuous, links between two major artists, and the expectations of the bean counters and the sponsorship uber-sponsors (makers of luxury cars and global perfume brands) is that you will more than double the paying customers at the ticket gate. This doubling of personalities also becomes a good way for the press personnel to sell these exhibitions to the media – print, such as it is, web-sites like The Guardian and Huffington Post, and – most prized of all – a 45 second TV zoom-around at the end of the evening news.
Thus, we’ve recently had Melbourne’s NGV International and its Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei blockbuster (little linking them besides a visit by Warhol to Beijing, and a youthful interest in the wigged one’s work by the prolific Chinese dissident (although I once interviewed him in Sydney on the day he announced: “I am not a dissident artist. My government is a dissident government”); Currently at London’s Royal Academy, and Salvador Dali is paired alongside Marcel Duchamp; and far less tenuous than these, a recent commercial gallery twinning of Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin, who did indeed share many commonalities alongside a close friendship. Even as I type I think there might be an article here on new trends in curating. I was, however, later surprised to find there were many strong links between Dali and Duchamp, that a genuine friendship existed, and that minor collaborations occurred, as well as joint holidays in the sun.
But Magritte and Broodthaers was as close to perfect as you could wish. The imagination of the former interlocked with the absurdity of the latter, creating a cocktail that fizzed and sparkled. There is no need to look for links here, as the ideas of one fitted the other as closely as a bowler hat on the correct-sized head. Broodthaers, the poet turned artist and film-maker, never disguised his veneration for Magritte. And the images in which they appear together have the warmth of a Morecambe and Wise photo-shoot, or a Monty Python reunion. If I could have wished an extra gallery at the end of the show, it would have included a younger generation (now themselves aging) of Flemish and Dutch artists with surreal, superfictional tendencies: Guillaume Bijl, SERVAAS, Seymour Likely, and other internationalists from Amsterdam’s Torch Gallery stable: Res Ingold, Gary Carsley, and the great photographer and film-maker Anton Corbijn.
Broodthaers was an outsider in what was very much an artworld full of insiders. But he went on to create his own inside, and be championed posthumously by, amongst many others, Rosalind Krauss, particularly in her lecture-that-turned-into-a-highly-influential book A Voyage on the North Sea. Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition, that puts Broodthaers centre stage in the development of mid-20th century conceptual art.
Before leaving for a fish finger waffle, I pulled myself gladly back for a third viewing of his La Pluie (project pour un texte) 1969. Broodthaers is sitting outdoors on a summer’s day, with a bottle of ink and a fountain pen. He begins to write, and it begins to rain. The ink spreads across the paper. The rain becomes a downpour, a deluge as impressive as a Bill Viola high-tech video. Yet this is an absurd thought experiment, as far removed from YouTube shenanigans as a fake moustache is from the Mona Lisa. It is realised on a non-existent budget, and it is absolutely unforgettable.
A few days later, I’m back in the Borough of Bermondsey. White Cube is almost empty. Gilbert and George’s acid-coloured photo-panels of bearded men and once-blasphemous texts, wallpaper the mega-space. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of statements cover every inch of the central spine, alternating black then red, against white. A tiny fragment, taken at random from the main shard reads:
LADY FUCKING FUCKER
FUCK YE FUCK YE
FUCKING IN LITERATURE
Has their work developed since I last saw even more of it than this, in Tasmania? Or has it become ever more juvenile and formulaic? They once enjoyed an absurd playfulness that would have impressed Broodthaers, with their drinking sculptures that mixed gin with psychogeography. And their huge, wobbly, drawings that looked like David Hockney with a bad case of delirium tremens. Strangely, I found the joyous absurdity I was itching for in the final room.
A film was playing. But it had not been made by either Gilbert (The Shit) or George (The Cunt) – as they a long time ago anti-Christened themselves. The individual artist known as Gilbert and George, had been interviewed at length, many years earlier, by Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker and descendant of Vincent who, tragically, would be killed by a right wing extremist. That interview was recently turned into a highly polished and professional stage opera and the film version of it runs for over an hour and a half. I thought I’d give it five minutes, as one often unkindly thinks when faced with moving images in a gallery or museum situation. Over an hour later, I was still there, utterly transfixed by the professional tenor and baritone, dressed in G&G-styled tweed suits, and the younger, casually dressed, dude who played the part of Theo. Their voices were sublime, their actions predictable but inspired. Trousers were dropped, bottoms were mooned, upper lips remained at all times stiff. And the band played on…
No one has ever won the Turner Prize more than once. The Booker Prize is different. J.M. Coetzee won for a second time with Disgrace in 1999, Peter Carey for True History of the Kelly Gang in 2001, and Hilary Mantel for Bring Up the Bodies in 2012. I’m not sure what the rules are for the Turner Prize, except that they changed this year to once again have no age limit attached, and flourished as a result. Should a second nomination for the Turner, and a subsequent win, be possible for someone, my top pick for such an honour would be Susan Philipsz for her astonishing sound and video installation at Gateshead’s Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (until 4 March).
On the surface, it is a pared back, minimalist presentation. A large video screen is suspended within the huge space of Baltic’s main gallery. A young violinist plays her instrument. Sound is channelled out of a dozen or so white speakers that surround the – spectator is not the right word, nor is audience. Perhaps “sensory recipients” – clue solvers, puzzle diviners, cannie thinkers - best describes those of us who wander around the space. Above us, others peer down from the high balcony.
But A Single Voice is far more than this. Dig beneath the minimalist presentation and you are rewarded by a curious narrative, as strange as anything the Kabakovs have concocted at Tate Modern, and a technical achievement of timing and coordination that would impress a NASA moon landing crew. And the lunar analogy is apt. This work has its roots in a lost-in-space scenario that is part Heath Robinson, part fairytale, part punk science fiction. Sounds unite life and death across space, like a last despairing phone call from Grenfell Tower, as fire and flame blackens everything beyond charcoal.
Harry Martinson might sound like an L.A. gumshoe, traipsing along the boulevard of broken dreams. He was, in fact, a renowned Swedish novelist. He wrote his masterpiece Aniara in the wake of the Soviet Union’s announcement that it had exploded a hydrogen bomb. Science fiction allows us to imagine things that are not yet possible, such as a luxurious spacecraft that can carry 8000 people with all the creature comforts that might be desired. It also allows disasters to happen. As the 8000 flee the horrors of a nuclear-armed earth to set up a colony on Mars – and as they are bizarrely but very Nordicly celebrating mid-summer - the spaceship malfunctions and they hurtle into deep space.
Karl-Birger Blomdahl – now he really does sound like a Scandie detective, straight out of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - turned Harry Martinson’s space tragedy (written in the form of a poem), into an opera with a libretto by Erik Lindegren. It contains jazz, experimental writing, and the latest magnetic tape technologies, which of course would seem very dated to our 21st Century high-tech sensibilities. It premiered at Stockholm’s Royal Swedish Opera House in 1959.
Susan Philipsz has taken the score of Aniara – in truth she has totally deconstructed it – so that the violinist, Leila Akhmetova, only plays the one note every time it is called for by the reworked notation. All of the other notes each have their own speaker aligned around the walls of the Baltic’s massive space. The genius of what Philipsz had done is to take something apart, to atomise it, and then to bring it back together so that it reads (sounds) like a coherent whole.
And she presents a second smaller, but related, artwork in a nearby domestic-sized gallery. Here she gives a spooky a capella rendition of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. I was fortunate to be given a detailed tour of the installation by its curator Allesandro Vincentelli. I did wonder later, however, how much of this apparently simple, but in reality conceptually complex, project I would have understood without the extended exegesis from him. Two weeks later, we would meet again at the opening of Philipsz five-gallery survey at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Belford Road. Either show, in my humble opinion, could see her nominated for the 2018 Turner Prize.
On my day-return from Gateshead to Manchester, and then Bramhall, a catering trolley appears in the train’s narrow, central passageway, plump with sandwiches, heavily-salted crisps, heavily-sugared soft drinks, tea, coffee, and booze. I ask the young woman who is trying to steer it past bulging suitcases and backpacks if she has a fruitcake slice? She looks annoyed and rummages about in a plastic container, and pulls out a fruitcake slice. “Is this what you’re on about?” she demands brusquely. I feel like saying, “Well I wasn’t really on about it. I just wanted to buy one.” But I complete the purchase in silence, and return to reworking my Fake News and Superfictions lecture. As much to keep my own interest alive, as for the audience’s, I try and change the presentation at every outing. The first one on this tour was at the Justin Art House Museum in Melbourne, the second in the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness.
A few days ago I gave it at Laban School of Dance near Greenwich, in the astonishing Herzog and de Meuron building (they who designed Tate Modern), with its vast Michael Craig Martin mural near the entrance. When I’m working on trains (and the Laban lecture I put together on the Eurostar from Brussels to London) and especially when I’m writing, I don’t listen to The Pogues or Tom Waits, or Leonard Cohen, my favourite walking and exercising sounds. I almost exclusively listen to Yo Yo Ma cello music on my phone. Music with no words, from Bach to the Mongolian Silk Road Ensemble, to Ma’s interpretation of Brazilian jazz classics.
It was a small seminar group of Masters dance students that I would be working with at Laban – as opposed to (and the news just pinged into my phone as I was hoofing along there from Cutty Sark station) the mega-lecture in Glasgow I would be giving on 2nd February, for Glasgow School of Art, held in the GFT (Glasgow Film Theatre). Their Friday Forums are modelled on the Hobart Centre for the Arts Friday Forums – two of the world’s best art schools.
I decided to give them two events from my life, likening them to Dickens’ “Best of Times, Worst of Times”, when my six months of working on three Scottish lighthouses in 1973 was followed by the Guildford Pub Bombings, where I was almost blown up that fateful night in October 1974.
I asked them to consider how they would choreograph two such events. I described the nightly routine of keeping the light burning and turning, the alternating four hour watches that we did, and the night-life of migrating birds circling around the light until dawn, while hundreds of rats ran through the triangulated beams on the ground below.
And I asked them to consider the choreography of a bombing. The panic, as people ran in all directions, their screams very different in tone from the screams of the actual dying and the injured. And against that, the choreography of the police and the army, tasked with imposing order on the scene. Fake News touched both experiences. The tall stories that my older, fellow keepers would tell at two in the morning about lighthouse murders and suicides. They sounded true, but I couldn’t be sure. And the disgusting falsification of police evidence that saw four innocent people sent to jail for fourteen years for a crime they did not commit. One of the students had been working on ideas about choreography and trauma, and we got a good debate going.
Afterwards, I joined in a student crit, and realised how much I miss teaching and interacting with young, creative minds. Then, with my friend and colleague Tony Thatcher (we were both external examiners for Goldsmiths as La Salle in Singapore for four years and he runs the Masters program at Laban), we went for lunch with some of the students. I’m already working on another presentation, for photography students in Nottingham, mid-January, where I will look at various Film-and-Photo-Superfiction artists, including Broodthaers, but also Joan Fontcuberta, Alexa Wright, Cindy Sherman, Pat Brassington, General Idea, Robert Zhao, Michael Candy, Patrick Pound, and the Seymour Likely group.
There have been three great exhibition openings in Edinburgh in the past few weeks, including the Susan Philipsz show in the NOW series at SNGMA (which also included works by Michael Armitage, Yto Barrada, Kate Davis, Hiwa K, and Sara Rose (until 18 February, 2018); Age of Wonder at the Royal Scottish Academy, where I saw so many old friends: Sam Ainsley, who’s been receiving glowing reviews and features for her own solo exhibition in Mull, Joyce Cairns with an astonishing powerful painting upstairs, Sandy Moffat, Callum Innes, Kate Downie, Janet Mackenzie, David Harding, and the evergreen Thomas Joshua Cooper whose remarkable photographs were also exhibited in the final room upstairs. Arthur Watson gave the opening address with passion and eloquence; and Jacqueline Donachie’s complex solo show at the Fruitmarket Gallery, which repays multiple visits, as you tease out the various social and spatial relationships that she has created across both floors. And if you are addicted to podcasts, as I am, listen to Jacqueline Donachie being interviewed about this work on the BBC Radio Scotland Janice Forsyth Show. 2pm on Tuesday 14th November. It’s pure dead brilliant!
 The next exhibition at Talbot Rice will be Rachel Maclean’s Spite Your Face (24 February to 5 May, 2018), the Scottish entry at this year’s Venice Biennale (2017)
 Is MONA the most exciting art museum on the planet? It’s hard to quantify these things. But if I knew I was imminently in danger of dying and could only visit one museum before I slipped my mortal coil, then that is where I would elect to go – ahead of Tate Modern, the various Guggenheims, or the Pompidou Centre. What’s more, I could leave my ashes there (hidden behind velvet curtains) as part of an ongoing artwork on the ground floor, which gives new meaning to doing an inter(n)ship.
Dr Peter Hill is an artist, writer, and independent curator. He is Adjunct Professor of Fine Art at RMIT University, Melbourne
Next installment: January 1st, 2018