Louisa Buck

  • Mike Figgis’s Battle of Orgreave

    JUNE 17, 2001. In a muddy field in the north of England near a giant slag heap, British film director Mike Figgis is engulfed in a crowd of picketers who are slugging it out with massed ranks of bobbies in full riot gear. As the protesters hurl themselves against a wall of Plexiglas shields, only to be driven back by mounted police brandishing batons, Figgis dodges missiles and blows and keeps on filming. The conflict shifts to the nearby village of Orgreave, and the intrepid auteur is still there in the thick of it, clutching his Steadicam. The acclaimed director of 1995’s Oscar-winning Leaving


    The art of Martin Creed sits lightly in the world. Sometimes it’s barely there at all. Many of the carefully chosen individuals who were mailed Creed’s limitless multiple Work No. 88: a sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball, 1994, found that, in spite of its being a finely crumpled sphere accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, they had nonetheless binned it by mistake. Few nighttime drivers glancing up at the first floor of a corner building along one of London’s busiest thoroughfares would have recognized the sight of blinking lights, now on, now off in syncopated unison, as Creed’s

  • Museu de Serralves

    THIS JUNE SEES THE OPENING of the Museu de Serralves, Portugal’s first major museum devoted exclusively to contemporary art. Designed by renowned Portuguese architect Alvaro Silva and located in the northern-coast city of Porto, the institution is dedicating its permanent collection and exhibition programs to Portuguese and international art from the mid-’60s to the present. “Until now the international contemporary art community has not had a major permanent venue in Portugal,” says Vicente Todoli. But Todoli, who made a name for himself at the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) in Spain,

  • Louisa Buck

    1. Jannis Kounellis (Henry Moore Studio, Halifax England) There may have been few inspired moments in “artanspennine 98”—a show of commissioned work with the grandiose goal of carving out a new cultural region stretching across the entire north of England—but Kounellis’s massive iron disks, hugging the columns of a huge nineteenth-century mill complex, offered a genuinely Promethean spin on Britain’s epic industrial past. The fatigue factor of the heavy-metal heritage was countered by the artist’s mere gesture of exposing an element that was already present. Simply by opening up a

  • the Turner Prize nominees

    THE £20,000 ($32,000) TURNER PRIZE, sponsored annually by the Tate Gallery and underwritten by Channel 4, the national TV broadcaster, is the highest profile and therefore most controversial of Britain’s contemporary art prizes. Imagine the shock when this year’s shortlist was announced on July i and everyone in the art world seemed to approve. The four artists under consideration are Cathy de Monchaux, Sam Taylor-Wood, Tacita Dean, and Chris Ofili.

    Figurative painters rarely make the Turner shortlist, so Ofili is something of an exception. However, there’s little of the academy in Ofili’s


    When Tomoko Takahashi won the £5,000 ($8,300) first prize in the annual EAST International show last year, the British press responded with characteristic outrage. “Artist Cleans Up with Pile of Junk” announced The Daily Mirror, while its main competitor, The London Times, declared Takahashi’s work to be a “Highly Prized Pile of Rubbish.” Both papers were at least partially on the money. The artist’s installation at the Norwich School of Art and Design was just that: one space was crammed full of detritus that had been cleared away by the school; the other contained refuse generated by exhibition


    Like many esteemed artists before him, Chris Ofili knows that shit’s a great signifier. His trademark boulders of resin-coated elephant dung protrude from the ornate surfaces of his paintings and sometimes even support his canvases like the ball-and-claw feet on old furniture. When you learn that the artist is the Manchester-born son of Nigerian parents who emigrated to the UK just before his birth, these excrescences suddenly speak volumes about postcolonial nostalgia, back-to-nature yearnings, and notions of exotic otherness. Ofili first discovered his fecal attraction while on a British

  • Moving Pictures

    THOUGH THE MOVIES celebrated their 100th birthday last year, this spring found London awash with a wave of celluloid festivities to mark the centenary of the motion picture’s arrival in Britain. First off was the Hayward Gallery’s “Spellbound,” which managed to open 100 years to the day (21 February 1896) the Lumière Brothers brought their newly invented cinematograph to a London audience. Taking its title from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1945 thriller, which featured a two-minute dream sequence by Salvador Dali, “Spellbound” presented new works from ten British-based artists and film directors, including

  • Damien Hirst

    ARTIST, IMPRESARIO, ARTFUL DODGER—Damien Hirst has never liked to confine himself to one mode of operation. He rose to fame, after all, as much for curating an exhibition (“Freeze,” 1988) as for being in it; and besides his gallery shows his works have included a window display for a London Tower Records, public billboards throughout the UK, opera designs, and the artwork and promotional material for ex-Eurythmic Dave Stewart’s latest album, Greetings from the Gutter.

    Now Hirst has taken what many see as an inevitable next step for him, into the world of advertising: he has signed up with a