PRINT March 2002


Toby Webster

Toby Webster, director of the Modern Institute, Glasgow, is cocurating “My Head Is on Fire But My Heart Is Full of Love,” a thirty-plus-artist show to open at Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, in May.

  1. Mike Nelson, A Forgotten Kingdom

    Published in September to accompany Nelson’s London ICA exhibition “Nothing Is True. Everything Is Permitted,” A Forgotten Kingdom looks like a Penguin paperback from a thrift-store bargain bin. Each of the book’s nineteen chapters is a previously published story by the likes of J.G. Ballard, Jorge Luis Borges, Joseph Conrad, Philip K. Dick, Stanislaw Lem, Jules Verne, and Richard Brautigan. The illusion is seamless, and it’s also a good read—which is rare for a catalogue.

  2. Sture Johannesson

    Some years ago writer-curator Lars Bang Larsen introduced me to Johannesson’s provocative psychedelic posters from the ’60s and ’70s. Recently I met the artist at his home in Malmö, Sweden, and was struck by his dedication, talent, and honesty. As Larsen tells it, the official reception of Johannesson’s work in its time is epitomized by the reaction to his unsanctioned poster for a 1969 exhibition at the Lunds Konsthall, in which a nude woman smokes a hash pipe below an image of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People. Under pressure from the Konsthall board chairman, the authorities collected and confiscated the posters, citing their “drug-idealizing standpoint.”

    Left: Sture Johannesson, Revolution Means Revolutionary Consciousness!, 1968. Right: Sture Johannesson, Aquarian Planetarium, Day and Night—I Am You—Copenhagen, 1969–70. Left: Sture Johannesson, Revolution Means Revolutionary Consciousness!, 1968. Right: Sture Johannesson, Aquarian Planetarium, Day and Night—I Am You—Copenhagen, 1969–70.
  3. Life Without Buildings

    This Glasgow foursome’s 1999 first album, Any Other City, has become a favorite of mine; it’s background music whenever I’m at home. The band’s influences are many, drawing a line from The Velvet Underground and Television through Gang of Four and The Smiths to contemporaries like The Lapse and Les Savy Fav—with a nod to e.e. cummings along the way. A performance by lead singer Sue Tompkins is a treat—you get to hear some pretty raw and odd rhymes and rhythms.

  4. Maarten Van Severen

    The Belgian is one of the few designers today who push innovation rather than settle for ’50s/’80s retro-modernist style. His award-winning U-Line lamp is sleek yet practical and casts a soft light onto my desk; it nods to the minimalism of architect John Pawson while managing to maintain its own progressive identity. Van Severen won the Prix du Créateur last year and is currently designing for Vitra, among other firms.

  5. Optimo (Espacio)

    Hosted by DJ Mary Hill (Jonnie Wilkes) and DJ Kelvin Bridge (Keith McIvor, aka Mount Florida), this regular Sunday-night party in Glasgow is a cross between buccaneer de Stijl (you’ll just have to take my word for it) and a knees-up with your family. It’s been going strong since 1997 and has never lost its edge. Jonnie and Keith have a knack for introducing new live bands to a pretty discerning scene. In 2001 they started their own label, OSCARR (Optimo Singles Club and Related Recordings), releasing three records to date; a new project with local band Bis, including remixes of Joy Division songs, is due out later this year.

  6. Slab City

    The population of this tent/RV/shantytown located on a former Navy base in Southern California swells in midwinter to more than three thousand city misfits. Go marvel at the ingenuity of the locals, who have created a unique community independent of the state . . . sort of. Of course they do have Salvation Mountain, a huge hill with Christian slogans painted on it in brightly colored gloss, to keep you on track. There is a lot of architecture to look at, too: The living quarters range from state-of-the-art mobile homes to something resembling a large shopping cart.

  7. David Shrigley, Do Not Bend (Redstone Press, 2001)

    I could include all of Shrigley’s work in my Top Ten. His insights into his crushingly dull yet cheerfully absurd life make my own bearable. Do Not Bend is his latest book.

  8. BQ

    Run by Jörn Bötnagel and Yvonne Quirmbach, this Cologne gallery shapes its program around artists both contemporary and historical, producing artist’s books and prints designed by Quirmbach for each project. Next month they move from their gatehouse space at Galerie Monika Sprüth into larger premises near the Hotel Chelsea.

  9. Divine Live at the Hacienda Manchester

    I rented this video for a party I threw with Gavin Brown at the WMF Club in Berlin last November. It documents the tough and highly innovative Divine performing before an audience that looks bemused if unmoved as he gets into the rhythm with a pair of maracas. Divine’s carefree showmanship reveals a pioneering spirit whose influence is only becoming apparent now, in bands like Fischerspooner, Adult, and Chicks on Speed.

  10. Cubitt Gallery

    This artist-run London venue has seen countless changes in curators and locations while maintaining its position at the creative edge—a bit like its Glaswegian counterpart, Transmission Gallery. This year under the curatorial direction of Untitled magazine’s Polly Staples, Cubitt holds its own in a city that could use a few more spaces like it.