Tuesday, 25 May 2010


I received a press release in this morning's email. It detailed the work commissioned for Whitstable. "Damnation" I exclaimed (or something similar) "Adam Chodzko's work has the same title as mine!" (bar the addition of an 's' this is true - and although of little importance I still wish I had called mine something more original). This aside, yet again I must admit to feeling like the poor cousin in the lineup. I think I will always suffer this way, it is inescapable. Not long ago, in a group show in King's Lynn, I was the only 'local' amongst a coven of sharply and darkly dressed, pale and youthful London Arts graduates. I was mesmerised by the influence of their collective self assurance and instantly assumed the role of their brown coated minion. Within minutes I was, at least metaphorically, tugging my forelock and gladly performing any number of obeisant tasks. At one stage I believe I even began to drag a limb. To this day I have failed to discover a suitable phylactery against such power.

My responses in such matter are disorderly to the point of insanity. I must discipline my emotions.

The press release is delightful and I was planning to instantly forward it's flatteries to all and sundry. Unfortunately my email programme scrambled image and text to such an extent that I will have to spend a little time reconstructing it for general release.

For information I have reproduced the text below.



The 5th Whitstable Biennale will open on Saturday 19 June - Sunday 4 July 2010.

The Biennale has commissioned major new works for this year's Festival, all of which explore different aspects of performance and film. For two weeks the seaside town of Whitstable will be transformed into a centre for contemporary art.

NEW website

Curated by Sue Jones
Assistant Curator Kate Phillimore

Phil Coy
Sea Container, Whitstable Harbour South Quay Tue-Sun 10:-00-18:00

A mesmerising and subtle film, looking at the transparency of glass and the opaqueness of regeneration. Narrated by famous TV anchor Julia Somerville, Façade takes audiences on a journey through contemporary glass architecture, conflating architectural 'walkthroughs' of nonexistent buildings with tracking shots over the facades of existing buildings.

This is the world premiere of Façade, which was produced with a major Film London FLAMIN Award. The Awards are for "work that is ambitious and represents a significant leap in artists' careers. For the capital's most innovative moving image artists".

Phil Coy is one of the most respected artists in the UK, well known for his subtle, underplayed works. Recent works have shown at the ICA, South London Gallery and Cornerhouse, Manchester.

Adam Chodzko
Ghost, together with films Echo and The Pickers
Old Nelson Inn, Harbour Street Tue, and Thur-Sun 10:00-18:00

Ghost is a custom-built kayak. It will be exhibited at the Whitstable Biennale - but some days it will be paddled from Whitstable to the Isle of Sheppey, where it will take members of the public to Deadman's Island, a small island off Queenborough, Isle of Sheppey. Deadman's Island is so called because it was used as a burial site for bodies of people who had died on the prison hulks moored in the Swale in the 19th Century. So Ghost is a vessel for visiting the dead.

A rower sits in the back of the two-man kayak, and a member of the public in the front. The passenger can paddle but when approaching Deadman's Island can lie down low and flat, like a body in a coffin with their head slightly raised. A video camera in the bow will record each journey of the kayak from just above the waterline looking in the direction of its destination.

Chodzko is one of the UK's most important artists. He has exhibited extensively in international solo and group exhibitions including: Tate, St Ives; Museo d'Arte Moderna, Istanbul Biennale, Venice Biennale; Royal Academy, London; PS1, NY; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. Recent projects include commissions by Creative Time, New York, The Contemporary Art Society, Frieze Art Fair, and Hayward Gallery. His work is in many major collections.

Anna Lucas
Things that had stories rubbed out
Garden of 28 Clifton Road Thur-Sun 10:00-18:00

Experimenting with a new studio-based process, artist Anna Lucas's 16mm film - Things that had stories rubbed out, extends her recent investigations into perception and vision. A collection of photos, depicting things that could be screens, were used as a starting point for filming torch-lit visual dialogues with a group of artists and friends. The film uses raw and tentative footage from these shared moments of looking, in which glimpses and fragments of connection may be all that is discernable.

Anna Lucas is an artist/filmmaker who is increasingly being recognised for her film and video installations that transform daily experience into epic drama or sensual intimacy. She has previously had solo shows at Spike Island, Bristol, Chisenhale Gallery London, and FACT Liverpool. In 2008 she was artist in residence at Oxford University.

Karen Mirza & Ruth Beale
The Voyage of Nonsuch
Whitstable Museum & Gallery Mon-Sat 10:00-16:00, Sun 13:00-16:00

Mirza & Beal are making a new film investigating the hidden world of English maritime film archives. The film blends nationally important footage that is mostly hidden in archives in places like the BFI and National Maritime Museum, strange local amateur footage, and sections written and shot by the artists, often from found texts:

The sea level is rising at the rate of a sixteenth of an inch a year. In the year 160000 it will reach halfway up Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, and the site of the Battle of Trafalgar will be eight fathoms under the sea. The British spend four million pounds a year on bird-watching, more than anyone else in Europe. It is no doubt a compensation for living on an island and not being able to fly. No British citizen lives more than sixty miles from salt water, and most live considerably closer. Two million in fact can see it from an upstairs window...

Mirza runs the no.w.here lab in London with Brad Butler, which plays an extensive part in curating new film work in the UK, expanding technical support for artists and hosting regular critical debates. Her recent projects include a major Artangel project, The Museum of Non Participation, Sep-Oct 2009. Beale often works participatively, and recent projects include Sisterly Bingo for GSK Contemporary at the Royal Academy of Arts, and Miss B's Salons, regular salons that bring together invited groups of artists and curators together.

Katie Paterson
Every Night About This Time
Various dates and times

For the Whitstable Biennale, Katie Paterson is making a series of thirteen works. She describes the work as a bit like a disparate orchestra; a fragmented composition, a concert of ideas taking place over 16 days that is elusive, fluid and fluttering, creating movement in space. The works include Black Firework for Dark Skies, a single black firework that will be unseen, happening in an unannounced location; All the Dead Stars, a lecture by cosmologist Ofer Lahav on stars that no longer exist; Streetlight Storm, a single streetlight in a back street of Whitstable that flickers in time with lightning storms happening across the world; Dying Star (doorbell), the sound of a dying star (a tiny hum close to a middle C, for a split second) plays every time a visitor opens a newsagents door for a few days.

Katie Paterson graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2007. Over the last two years she has had solo shows at the Matthew Bown Gallery, Albion, and Modern Art Oxford, group shows include Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009.

Alex Pearl
Ghosts and Call
Horsebridge Arts & Community Centre Mon-Sat (see website for times)
Royal British Legion (see website for times)

Alex Pearl investigates failure and disappointment as important features of the human condition, and has the best self-deprecating humour on the UK art scene. He recently applied to a British Antarctic Survey competition to send an artist to Antarctica with an application outlining the reasons why he didn't actually want to travel to Antarctica. He spent the next year documenting his non-journey, detailing his weekly commuting between Ipswich and Bedford, his short trips to London, and all the ups and downs of his daily life. He also recently made a book, Feedback, of all the insults he's received on You Tube.

His new work for Whitstable arises out of a misunderstanding between Whitby (where Dracula landed) and Whitstable (where Peter Cushing star of Hammer Horror films lived). The artist calls his year of research, all documented on his Pearl Fisher blog, "an aimless ramble through forests of coincidence and disappointment. The narrative of the blog is the only thing loosely connecting the films presented in Whitstable'.

The films are - Ghosts, a set of three ghostly apparitions born of obsessive watching of Hammer horror films and an interest in Victorian theatrical magic, and Call, two films showing a male bingo caller calling plaintively to the ladies of Whitstable's Oxford Bingo Club.

Olivia Plender & Unnar Örn
Table Read
Whitstable Library Mon-Fri 09:00-18:00, Saturday 09:00-17:00,
Sunday 10:00-16:00

The project is a collaboration between artists Olivia Plender (UK) and Unnar Örn (Iceland). Over the summer of 2009 they spent two months exchanging their dreams as a kind of absurd historical record of that period. The stories that resulted from the artists' dream exchange were filmed in workshops in Whitstable in April 2010. The workshops are performances in themselves, fragmentary sketches for a play that may never be written. The film is being edited in May 2010.

Plender is fast becoming one of the UK's most important up and coming artists. Best known for her hand drawn comic book works, and performances which include the artist in period dress leading a group round key sites connected with Britain's Spiritualist movement. Solo shows/projects include Art in General, New York, 2008; Information; Frankfurter Kunstverein 2006 and The Medium and Daybreak Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, 2005. Group exhibitions include the 2009 Tate Triennial. She will exhibit in the 2010 British Art Show.

Kieren Reed
Whitstable Biennale Headquarters
Main Beach, Tuesday-Saturday 10:00-18:00

This year the Biennale HQ (visitor information centre) is both a sculpture and a functioning architectural object, specially built by artist Kieren Reed.

Aesthetically influenced by 1950's post war British architecture and its low cost design, functionality and durability of construction, a small kiosk will become the Whitstable Biennale Headquarters for the duration of the 2010 festival. Placed on the shingle beach, next to the Royal Native Oyster Stores, and referencing seaside architecture and tourist functionality, the HW will house artists' books and information.

Mikhail Karikis
Umbrella Hall Sun 27 June Times 16:30 and repeated at 19:00
Main Beach Sun 4 July Times 16:00 - 17:00

As a consequence of international economic calamities, a geographically expanding European Union, and continuing oppressive political regimes across the globe, there is an increasing mobility of populations. Moving away from home, people become strangers in their own country or abroad searching for financial stability or safety.

XENON, a collaborative project by artist Mikhail Karikis, orchestrates a series of unexpected encounters on stage and in the streets of Whitstable, between strangers engaged in unlikely acts. Soldiers, an acrobat, a woman reciting the entire Declaration of Human Rights from memory (Monica Ross), three sopranos (Juice Ensemble) and 'Death's Ferryman' stumble into each other evoking questions on belonging, memory, independence, territory and impossibility.

Performing artists include Monica Ross, Juice Ensemble, Conall Gleeson, E.laine, Amy Cunningham and Ben Crawley. XENON is part of a major six-part commission by the East Kent Festival Cluster.

Greek-born, London-based Mikhail Karikis studied music in his native country before moving to London to train in architecture with Archigram and art at The Slade. Coined by critics a 'sound alchemist' (Le Monde), Mikhail's practice is embraced by the concert hall, the art gallery and the world of design. The first international release of his music was by Björk (One Little Indian), followed by his album Orphica (Sub Rosa, 2007) to critical recognition. Orphica fuses glitch electronica with environmental recordings, Greek folk and a neo-baroque aesthetic marked by a distinctive part-avant-garde and part-Middle-Eastern vocal style. Mikhail investigates the voice as a sculptural material and a tool to explore politics of difference, harmony and conflict. Collaborators include members of the Hilliard Ensemble, Cantamus Choir, Juice Ensemble, visual artists Sonia Boyce, Zineb Sedira, fashion house Rozalb de Mura and Prada. His work has been released on compilations including DJ Spooky's Sound Unbound (MIT Press/Sub Rosa, 2008), and shown at Tate Modern, Queen Elizabeth Hall, BFI, Musée des Beaux Arts de Nîmes, the Nederlands Dans Theater and elsewhere.

Uddin & Elsey
Sunday 4 July Time and Venue TBC

Sonia Uddin & Leah Elsey are two of the brightest young artists on the London scene. Fresh back from an international residency in Sydney, they're launching a two year project with the Whitstable Biennale at this year's festival.

The Festival also features an extensive performance and events programme curated by Emma Leach & Gemma Sharpe, and a screening programme curated by Brian Dillon.

There is also a satellite programme of works by over 100 artists in addition to the main programmes.

More information to follow.


-- posted abroad

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