The Art and Writing of David & Ping Henningham
Header

Author Archives: David

box-title
The New Concrete

The New Concrete

box-title

Some of you will remember the delicious Clotted Sun loose leaf book we made with Chris McCabe. His recent editorial collaboration with Victoria Bean, The New Concrete (Hayward Publishing), has led to another similarly satisfying project with us; an edition of 15 deluxe solander boxes containing a copy of The New Concrete and five giclée prints by five instigators from the original Concrete Poetry movement.

Our Epson Pro 7890 inkjet technology and several digital remastering techniques made this a perfect expression of the anthology’s theme – the revitalising effect digital technology has had upon the idea of concrete poetry. The beautiful bespoke black boxes we made are in themselves an edition, as we lined them with a black foil debossing of ‘Paradise’, a print from our Unknown Soldier series which looms in the back of the box like a secret track. This accompanies our Grand Eagle print which is included in the anthology itself.

Victoria took the boxes to America recently where they were acquired for several illustrious collections. If you are interested in finding out more with a view to purchasing one you should contact Victoria directly. It’s a great opportunity to get both a landmark anthology and an exhibition in a box.

I love making solander boxes. There’s a moment when they become synergetically taut as the glue, cloth and board lock together. They are the pinnacle of my craft.

open-box

secret-track

lining

Share Button

I

Five metres from a slipper bath filled with ice and cocktails, discussing Modernist Art with Paul Mason, Jenny Broom, Aysulu and Anna (from British Council Russia) we found we had experienced the same epiphany as Paul at the Tretyakov Gallery that day. We had been confronted by an alternative narrative of the origins of Modernist figurative painting; confronted by a different version of Malevich’s Black Square than we had previously seen mediated by magazines and text books.

The black pigment of the square was parched so that yellow and red oblongs were visible through the cracks. Where the black persisted the surface texture betrayed numerous oblongs underneath that crossed the threshold of the famous square.

An X-Ray of Malevich’s Black Suprematic Square, 1915

The didactic square from art history turned out to be the completion of numerous false starts and revisions towards simplicity. That’s a very different story. Black Square was preceded and followed by masterpieces we’d never seen. Marc Chagall on an epic scale was a revelation for many of us at the table. Exhilarated, we began flicking through everything we know between Beveridge and Woolf, wondering if we had been sold a partial version of Modernist art history.

This encounter with The Square was emblematic of our whole experience of Moscow. The painting and the place, when mediated, are both abridged. The Black Square loses its texture and presence, just as Russia becomes reduced to its foreign policy and Putin fridge magnets. My ignorance of Russia’s view of itself, which is the result of Russian politics and British media, prevents me from understanding the spectrum of their fears and ambitions. The red and yellow oblongs under the square remind me of the striking diversity of peoples within the Russian Federation. Their government very consciously celebrates this, and a new park will feature all four terrains found within the Federation. However, this cosmopolitan theme was already commonplace under the USSR, evident in the regenerated park at VDNKh where pavilions were built from the materials and styles of different distant Soviet Republics. Today, Russians from some of these races find actual social mobility within the Federation does not live up to the ideal. How familiar. Yet what I found embarrassing is that such an important tension within Russia was news to me. And is this any surprise when on Russian TV their politicians do normal things, like look at their smartphones, but British media employs the same old newsreel shorthand of earnest white faces bobbing on a sea of little communist claps. Russian ‘alternative media’ does no better, piping out mirror image foreign policy to Anglo-American discontents who are still hoping for one accurate news source. Its fanbase would do far better to visit Russia and get a sense of its diversity, contradictions and tensions over Georgian dumplings.

II

The British Council delegation we belonged to was assembled to represent the UK as guests of honour at Non/fiction Literature Fair during the UK Russia Year of Language and Literature 2016, and satellite events in bookshops, museums and galleries. Over dinner Jonathan Coe made the kind of fascinating, nuanced observations about innovation in contemporary fiction you would expect from an accomplished novelist who is also B.S. Johnson’s biographer.

Jonathan Coe introducing B.S. Johnson

Jonathan Coe introducing B.S. Johnson at Non/Fiction

Like A Fiery Elephant executes the manoeuvre of engendering sympathy and admiration for B.S. Johnson, at times an unpleasant person, salvaging his life and his art without employing the unsatisfactory excuse that they are distinct. He did the same for a Russian audience in the UK Pavilion, briefly a revivalist tent where the majority pledged to read some Johnson. I hope they also read Coe’s new book, Number 11.

Jim Crace

Jim Crace

Jim Crace, author of Harvest, was another inspiring personality. He has what my Russian friend calls ‘a face accustomed to smiling’ and his conversation alternates between humility and encouragement. Much like Paul Mason, who is always animated, active, alert to whatever political events are unfolding and the fact that news can appear from anyone anywhere at any time. He often interrupts himself mid-sentence to greet a new arrival at the table, “Hi, we haven’t met, I’m Paul.” There were many more people like this. These Islands produce some impressive people sometimes, and we were enjoying all this from ‘the kids’ table’, with Emma Healey, whose novel Elizabeth Is Missing I enjoyed greatly, delightful children’s author and publisher Jenny Broom, and comic artist Tom Gauld. The latter two and ourselves also spent some time working with students at the British Higher School of Art and Design; Russian students, primarily, taught in English in Christopher Rainbow’s groundbreaking BA Illustration department.

III

British Artists were a bit late to Modernism. It was a reaction to what was happening over there. Less a response to Modernity, than a plaintive “why can’t modernity happen here?” emerging from a stuffy sitting room. What better subject for my lecture at the British Higher School than the link between one of Moscow’s most enthusiastic citizens, Kandinsky, and London’s avant garde. Edward Wadsworth praised and reported On The Spiritual In Art in BLAST! for the advancement of abstract painting in Britain. I also told the story of David Bomberg at the Ballets Russes, and London’s rejection of Italian Futurism. The students contrasted Marinetti’s machine worship with our blasé use of technology, contemporary interest in the hand made and ecological design. They were brilliant students.

Next day I led a day-long collaborative workshop in which we would design a system of simple cut-out glyphs that we could use to screenprint sounds commonly used in both English and Russian. I had sent a lesson plan to prime them for my arrival, but so well prepared were these excellent students that we had done the pre-lunch part of my plan by eleven. Just as well, as I’d not realised how long lunch would be. Three students had pretty much fully realised alphabets of their own before we began, so we had plenty to work with, but it must belong to all of us. We worked through strategic questions. Would our glyphs refer to Cyrillic or Latin or ignore them? Would they be diagrammatic? Would they, like Kandinsky’s art, be forms that refer to gut feelings or the elements of art? In pairs, we made cut outs representing different sounds that had been distributed. In response to these questions we critiqued our results. Finally, my lesson plan long exhausted and pedagogical improvisation taking its place, we extracted elemental flourishes we could all agree on, then used these to make a final stab at our assigned sounds.

The BA Illustration Students' Final Glyphs

The BA Illustration Students’ Final Glyphs

We stopped short of creating modifying punctuation marks. And just as well, as I suddenly realised I was no less than four hours late for my next engagement and I had lost my voice. (Which is normal for work like this. Often that phone in your hotel room will ring soon after you enter it, knackered, and someone who has been looking after you and that you are yet to meet will ask you a question that you cannot answer about where you are supposed to be). Yet our process of refinement could easily have gone on to create a very minimal set of shapes with modifying dots and circles to create a universal phonic set. How Modernist is that!

David discussing the students' phonics with Dame Marina Warner

David discussing the students’ phonics with Marina Warner

IV

A screenprinting workshop was built for us within the British Pavilion. While talks and signings happened we contributed to the general hubbub as we worked with our groups of students to improvise screenprints; composing, choosing colours, binding sheets. The drying prints bobbed overhead while the public witnessed and contributed to our process of creation and execution. A favourite exchange was with a man who works in a screenprinting factory who couldn’t believe we could print with so little equipment. “How are you doing this!” he kept asking, as if we were magicians.

BA Illustration class continues in the UK Pavilion

31331368961_92e02dfa47_o

Preparing to print

30621831594_e1da6f30c5_o

Learning to Screenprint freehand

30635724243_e910f09fc5_o

Two print stations running simultaneously

31298445932_2d6fcdcf44_o

Drying the prints

31298445622_855625fdea_o

Each colour represents a beat in the spoken rhythm. Each shape a phonetic sound.

30635726613_a3137e9dc4_o

Reviewing the first print and composing the next design with cut out paper.

31410339736_ebce331ff6_o

Strips of five feet being bound into one book.

 

The dry prints were made into a massive book, five foot-long pages in each line, like the five metrical feet of Shakespeare’s Iambic Pentameter; ti-TUM ti-TUM ti-TUM ti-TUM ti-TUM. Here is a decoding of the concrete poem we wrote as we went, which became a kind of picture story about love, with two characters, or souls, living on a mountain in the spring. A betrayal leads to quarrelling, one soul leaves for the sea. Sorcery, dreams, comfort eating and finally forgiveness and reconciliation. How Shakespearean is that!

весна душа гора душа весна
мечта весна мечта весна мечта
весна душа гора измена весна
измена мечта измена мечта измена
гора душа хула душа коралл
душа гора хула коралл душа
гора немой немой немой коралл
гора ворожба мечта измена коралл
еда мечта немой мечта еда
мечта еда немой мечта еда
весна ворожба прощай измена весна
весна душа прощай душа весна
прощай душа гора душа прощай
село село маяк село немой

spring soul mountain soul spring
dream spring dream spring dream
spring soul mountain treason spring
treason dream treason dream treason
mountain soul reviling soul coral
soul mountain reviling coral soul
mountain dumb dumb dumb coral
mountain sorcery dream treason coral
food dream dumb dream food
dream food dumb dream food
spring sorcery forgive treason spring
spring soul forgive soul spring
forgive soul mountain soul forgive
country country lighthouse country dumb

Of course, in the original, the colour panels are like a tapestry creating rhythm through repetition and their position in space in a way that text on a page alone cannot. The panels are more like characters moving on a stage than tiny printed words. It concludes with a nod to Mayakovsky (маяковского), no stranger to recording tempestuous love affairs in print, in the form of a lighthouse (маяк) set in a landscape.

V

Representing Britain. The British Council (and Literature) made this easier, representing as they do the best of British. One Russian cab driver welcomed Brexit as a sign that white people everywhere can now federate at arms length in championing their ethno-national interests. Most Muscovites were far more cosmopolitan in their views. But international opinions I heard brought one moral dimension of Brexit to mind; envy.

The thing about coveting your neighbours wife, or their ass, is that the fantasy never includes the process by which it could come to pass. Fantasy demands the suspension of logistical realities. A person may think they’d be happier if they were married to the woman next door, but once the work of obtaining an ex-wife, breaking up the neighbours’ marriage, traumatising the kids, moving house, alimony and so on and on – it can hardly be the same dream in the end. Many, though not all, of British referendands displayed this kind of self-delusion about what we would get in terms of money, resources and trade outside the EU. Politics isn’t merely about declaring ones own wishes, but pursuing a civil society that includes those on the breadline and EU citizens now at home in the UK; those with the least say by volume and set to lose the most. Should the United Kingdom remain.. Can the United Kingdom remain united.? Apparently not.

This is a lesson from literature, from Shakespeare, where for centuries actors have committed the same mistakes, lusts and treasons, imagined the same delightful ends and fallen short with foolish means, staged twice daily so we don’t have to. What is the point in rehearsing tragedy when all the world insists on being a stage? And, in this era of global citizenship, will geriatric Britain be content with dishing out Cowerdly put-downs it believes give an air of sophistication, when in fact they betray British insecurity? The UK merely tolerated for the money it generates? Or conceals? Yet Britain, for now, is still admired for its culture; our biggest “export”. Is culture, like most exports, rarely consumed by the natives?

One Official, dressing wisdom as wit like a Shakespearean fool, made a speech in which they declared that we will unite the world through art. Solidarity! I agree. Building society is what art is really good at, delineating a territory for objective human cooperation and appreciation.

Our delegation’s experience would be valuable for all. Our Government can support the pioneering work of the British Council by cancelling costly visas, Russia could begin by making holiday and trade visa concessions to Moscow and St Petersburg. This would allow a groundswell of humanity to take root and bypass the old discredited, divisive diplomatic channels.

My lasting impression is that Muscovites and Londoners can scarcely ever have been so similar as we are now, and we must not let the populist opportunists and the politicians who pander to them keep us apart.

Share Button

Nothing In The Rulebook Interview

February 1st, 2017 | Posted by David in News | Press Cuttings - (0 Comments)

We were interviewed recently by an online magazine called Nothing In The Rulebook while waiting for an aeroplane. By way of introduction they say:

It seems old hat to say that mainstream publishing has been facing an existential crisis in recent years. As profit margins thin, the go-to response from the biggest publishing houses has been to retreat from investing in new ideas, and to banking on “sure things” – which, as Julian Barnes has noted, essentially amounts to republishing copies (or imitations) of commercially successful novels. Indeed, the mainstream publishing industry has become so risk averse and sold on the idea that committees of sales and marketing gurus that millions are now spent on orange-headed celebrity books whose pie charts and spreadsheets appeared to augur well but are in the bargain buckets shortly after they first appear.

Within this risk averse culture, new outlets for unique and creative expression, through art, writing, and fine book making are increasingly rare. Those that do exist must therefore be cherished.

Henningham Family Press (HFP) is the collaborative art and writing of David and Ping Henningham. Both Artists and Authors, HFP combines writing and art through fine art printmaking, bookbinding and performance. Based in Dalston, London, the pair primarily work with National and Regional Cultural Institutions and civil society groups, and are always looking for new institutions, such as museums, libraries and publishers to collaborate with.

It is an honour to bring you this detailed interview…

You can read the full interview HERE 

Share Button

The British Council have commissioned us to make a major public art contribution at The Central Hall of Artists, Moscow.

We are among the British artists and writers being despatched to Moscow next week to represent Britain as Guests of Honour at Non/FictioNo.18 Literature Fair, including Sebastian Faulks, David Almond, (and several people I think I know are going, but don’t seem to be announced yet). This is a key part of the UK-Russia Year of Language and Literature 2016.

Our commission is two-fold. At the Fair we will be creating a live screenprinted book in a workshop built and embedded for us into the UK Pavilion. Our fellow artists will be BA Illustration students from the British Higher School of Art and Design, Moscow, led by Christopher Rainbow. We will create a concertina-ed concrete poem visualising the iambic pentameter of Shakespeare’s verse. This tome will be donated to a British library, and a British folio will be created for Russia in exchange.

David Bomberg - The Mud Bath - 1914

David Bomberg – The Mud Bath – 1914

In preparation for this, I will be teaching a seminar in Modernist Art History at the School that draws out links between Malevich, Kandinsky and European art movements, with a special focus on David Bomberg, Edward Wadsworth and the Vorticists. I will then lead practical workshops with the students in which we will collaboratively create a new set of glyphs for visually expressing sounds common to English and Russian. It is these glyphs we will use to print words suggested by the Moscow Public:

Музыка шекспировского стиха

Henningham Family Press и Британская высшая школа дизайна

3-4 декабря, 12.00 – 18.00

Любовь питают музыкой; играйте
Щедрей, сверх меры, чтобы, в пресыщенье,
Желание, устав, изнемогло.
перевод М.Л.Лозинского
Двенадцатая ночь, Акт 1, сцена 1, 1-3

В пьесах Шекспира на протяжении четырех столетий сохранялся определенный стихотворный размер. Каждое предложение – это пять повторяющихся волн: «ти-ТУМ, ти-ТУМ, ти-ТУМ, ти-ТУМ, ти-ТУМ». Это пятистопный ямб, и он – главная мелодия английских стихотворений.

Британские художники Дэвид и Пинг Хеннингемы вместе со студентами курса иллюстрации Британской высшей школы дизайна на основе шекспировской строфы создадут прямо на Ярмарке non/fictio№18 книгу методом трафаретной печати. Получившееся произведение, как и многие пьесы Шекспира, будет посвящено «делам сердечным».

Мы приглашаем вас помочь студентам Британской высшей школы дизайна подобрать слова, которые будут соответствовать этому ямбическому ритму: слова о любви, зависти, страсти, обмане – о том, что составляет любовь по Шекспиру – на русском и английском языках.

  • Студенты отпечатают эти слова с помощью трафаретов, используя разработанные ими символы, объединившие фонетику английского и русского языков.
  • Затем напечатанные страницы будут склеены вместе, образуя пятистопный ямб, пять вьющихся лентой «ти-ТУМов».
  • Это длинное любовное послание в виде книги отправится в Великобританию, где будет создано ответное послание.

A Line Of Five Feet

The Music Behind Shakespeare’s Verse

Henningham Family Press and British Higher School of Art and Design

December 3-4, 12.00 – 18.00

“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.”
Twelfth Night Act 1, scene 1, 1–3

There is a rhythm that has carried Shakespeare’s plays for four hundred years. Each sentence sits on five undulating waves, ti-TUM ti-TUM ti-TUM ti-TUM ti-TUM. This rhythm is called iambic pentameter, and it is the music of English verse.

British artists David and Ping Henningham, together with BA Illustration students from the British Higher School of Art and Design, Moscow, are celebrating Shakespeare’s verse here at non/fictio№18 by creating a screenprinted book on site. Their book, like so many of Shakespeare’s plays, will be about “affairs of love”.

You are invited to suggest words to the students that follow this iambic rhythm. Russian or English words about love, jealousy, passion, trickery – any words suggesting Shakespearean love.

  • The students will screenprint these words using a new sound alphabet they have created, uniting Russian and English language.
  • Next, the printed pages are glued together into lines of five “metrical feet”, five ti-TUMs that snake back and forth.
  • Once bound, this long love letter in concrete poetry will be sent to the United Kingdom, where a response will be created and exchanged.
Share Button

Formerly London

October 6th, 2016 | Posted by David in Literature - (0 Comments)

London was wiped out shortly after the USSR perfected their H-Bomb. It could so easily have happened in real life, but thankfully it was only to be on British Civil Defence plans that our capital city was erased and replaced by “Area 5a”.

It is extraordinary how quickly the ubiquity of Civil Defence planning has been forgotten, yet it contributed a huge amount to our contemporary way of life, and an explosion of commuter suburbs oriented towards cold war aeronautics and economics. A volunteer Civil Defence Corps, which never quite got to full strength, prepared, drilled and enjoyed pot-luck dinners and dinner dances. It was manned by joiners-in, optimists, patriots, and the kind of aggrandised social secretaries who George Orwell feared might pervert the course of English Socialism towards Totalitarianism. The CDC is a much better fit for 1984 than a cut and paste job between the USSR and UK. But Dystopia isn’t the only treatment World War Three gets on film and in literature. Surrealistic Satire is particularly suited to depicting Mutually Assured Destruction.

record-copy

This song’s airplay was restricted for fear it would undermine morale. I’m not sure if it is Satire or just plain silly, but Satire has attracted legal action for millennia. Litigation is its litmus test. It’s silliness is altogether different to the absurdity of officially approved images and advice offered to citizens by Civil Defence; Civil because the Home Front is the new Front Line in nuclear conflict. The Family fall-in to prepare for the fallout.

One thing you should take away from this presentation is that it takes 16” of books to protect you from the fallout. There is no point cowering behind a Kindle. If you find Finnegans Wake hard going, be thankful that the gamma rays will too. Yet how many families have this many books? Perhaps a Civil Servant might, or a Professor. The central thing we should take away from this slideshow presentation is that official Civil Defence advice for surviving M.A.D. was itself insane. Insane in a cold-blooded clear-headed calculated kind of way. But what was the real agenda? Look at this man:

2-blackboard-copy

He doesn’t really think you stand a chance, but he has a job to do. A story to tell. In the USA, approved plans were available from Civil Defence, in the UK the unhinged advice was that a door turned on it’s side would do the job, yet you too could have built your own fallout shelter in the basement or bought one from a contractor. Or what better way to return to the Dark Ages than in your very own barrow.

7-barrow-copy

You could try role-playing as King Arthur, returning to rescue Albion, to keep up morale.

Depicting this as an Ideal Home Exhibition for the nuclear family enabled the authorities to create the fiction that everything will be alright. That the institutions of government, family and law and order would survive. Everything is under control.

But it wasn’t. Our technical ability had outstripped our humanity. Governments were being dragged towards disastrous conflict by their nuclear weapons like two men taking too many pitbulls for a walk.

13-chess-copy

These slideshows are obsessed with morale. The family enjoys a game. Later, how about a nice game of chess? Plan a varied diet for interest: pasta, pulses, dried fruit, or a stray dog, perhaps? While the male constructs a shelter, the housewife undertakes stockpiling with the children. The fixed benign grins in these slides are like the ones you find in safety advice leaflets you get on a plane, yet here we have Olympic level denial. And endless stacking. Keeping organised, prepared, civilised.

11-supermarket-copy

It’s like a miserable family holiday. With parents who are making the best of it, chirpy and chipper, and clinging on desperately to institutions that have become null and void.

14-ready-copy

The Bed-Sitting Room, a play by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus adapted for film by Richard Lester, exploits this disparity between reality and defeated institutions brilliantly. Their characters feed off those institutions like rations stockpiled in their memories. Memories of London – the City only exists in their heads.

The authorities are now two madmen in a makeshift hot-air balloon (Peter Cook and Dudley Moore), yet the survivors constantly submit to them and the bureaucratic language that is mangled by their jobsworth tongues. The survivors often ask where in reality they are.

If this is Regent’s Park, then to the South..
I must get to Belgravia..
Don’t you know your London?
Why, this is Paddington!

In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt argued that the Patriarch that once ruled the household in Greco-Roman society was replaced in the modern nation state by Bureaucracy. She describes a mental picture of a table that has vanished yet leaves everyone seated in the same position.

chairs-copy

So we see ancient household concerns, like wealth and health become elevated to a kind of national housekeeping, the Economy and Healthcare system. Yet the difference is hard to spot because individuals occupy so many of the same roles as before and labour to satisfy similar needs. At one level Civil Defence was just this kind of interference, one of the many bureaucratic structures that filled the void where the patriarch once stood. But what happens if the unimaginable happens and Bureaucracy itself is destroyed, leaving a few atomised families to encircle a power-vacuum?

In the Bed-Sitting Room this is precisely the kind of shift that takes place. The authorities have created the conditions for their own destruction and the family they have failed to protect fail to grasp that Britain is over. American disaster movies often revolve around a family unit (or surrogate) pitted against distant odds. The Bed-Sitting Room is far more British in that it is about institutions. “I am the BBC,” intones the telly man.

thebbc

The characters are Nurses, Doctors, Soldiers, Police, a Priest, all covering themselves with the signs of institutions that have been destroyed, “because we’re British?” One could even say that a film depicting a family buffeted around a political vacuum, shambling around a china clay pit obsessing over the past is a perfect parable for Britain today. It is what happens when the social structure described by Foucault (or Hobbes) wherein people practice mutual oppression through a sovereign, through uniforms and rituals, loses its centre, its elastic tension, and it slaps them in the face with official clobber. Their sovereign investment is returned with insufficient postage paid. Either they get dressed or they admit that it’s all over. It is all over. The charade has become an obvious charade.

pier-copy

But why is Satire so appropriate for imagining nuclear war? Or World War One for that matter? There are several references to it in The Bed-Sitting Room. Oh What A Lovely War is a very similar film in its surreal imagery and biting satire.

somme-copy

The connection is the unthinkable destruction. After World War Three the past, present and future would all have been destroyed. Satire works in the opposite direction to the Civil Defence slideshow. Satire’s hysterical absurdity makes the viewer more sane, not less. It removes delusion by revealing its contradictions. The slideshow, however, invites you to share a collective delusion and ingrain it in yourself through pointless activity.

This has always been Satire’s agenda. Indeed, the purpose of all Greek plays was to protect society from corruption. A tragedy like Antigone was performed by and for the politicians of the city state to remind them that tyrants like Creon will always lead them to disaster. The Old Comedy of Aristophanes, satires such as The Birds, had the same job. But they did it through shaming those who were already corrupt.

Every theory needs a control sample, so let’s take a straightforward thriller like WarGames from 1983. Ferris Bueller has an even more disastrous day off when he hacks into the Pentagon and plays Thermonuclear War. The computer locks out the authorities and it looks like World War Three is unavoidable.

hacker-copythermonuclear-copy

As we know, the US Govt. takes a very tolerant view of hackers, so they allow him to give it one more good old college try.

ttt-copyarresthim-copy

He makes the computer play itself at noughts and crosses, which always ends in a stalemate. The computer cross references this with thermonuclear war and realises that it can only win by not playing. This is the intended message of the film. However, satire is lurking in the wings and subverts the final scene with this:

mbjtnsx0w

“How about a nice game of chess.” Chess? The game based on grinding seasonal medieval warfare? Chess is the home game of Henry V! This film ends up subverting itself and asking, what do you do when you can’t play nuclear war? Play proxy war! *The military history of the post-war years explained in a single unintended joke about chess*. A joke that says you can’t ‘not play’ nuclear war – you can’t turn the clock back. The truth is that nuclear weapons are not a mistake. They are a perfect expression of what we are like as a species. They are what you get when you multiply our accelerating technical ability with our inhumanity to man. This is what happened in World War One. The only way to get rid of these weapons for good is for all of us to become the kind of creature that can make them, but chooses not to. But I fear this work is overdue and nuclear weapons will not be abolished. Rather they will be superseded by weaponised Fusion Power. Our chance to not create this is fading, and another technology that should spell free energy for all will spread ubiquitous fear, just in case “the others make it first”. Can we ever unlearn this logical fault?

Satire is one of the arts that allows us to imagine a way out. The Bed-Sitting Room invites us to become more humane by laughing at our self-destructive self-delusion. But this makes it even more worrying that our politicians are so uncultured and unliterate.

Share Button

Emerging from the Circle Line

We have been invited by critic David Collard (the Times Literary Supplement, the Literary Review, Sonofabook etc.) to select and introduce a film set in London.

Somewhat perversely we have chosen a satirical comedy that takes place after a nuclear attack: The Bed Sitting Room by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus. The capital only persists in their characters’ memories as they shuffle about an esturine china clay pit (formerly London). A series of hysterical encounters unfold like an irradiated set of seaside postcards.

Before the main feature, we are very pleased to present a short extract on the theme from an unpublished novel by David Henningham, as well as a short introduction on why Satire and Surrealism are such sane means for describing the incomprehensible destruction of WW1 and the nuclear threat. We will contrast this with insane official advice on coexisting with Mutually Assured Destruction. Does satire have a role to play in disarmament? Were nukes inevitable? Who will get the last chocolate bar on the Circle Line?

Have we evolved the ability to foresee and prevent our own destruction? Or merely to enable it? 

This all takes place in one of the capitals best appointed bohemian bunkers, the basement bar Vout-O-Renee’s

The Bed-Sitting Room (1969)
Featuring Ralph Richardson, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, Marty Feldman, Rita Tushingham, Michael Hordern, Arthur Lowe and more.

£5 on the door at Vout-O-Renee’s (in the basement under the Roman Catholic Church of the English Martyrs, come down the steps and ring the bell)

30 Prescot St
London
E1 8BB

7pm for a 7.30pm start.
Tues 4th October 2016

David Collard wrote this about us in the Times Literary Supplement. And this.

Share Button

From Here – John McAuliffe

June 27th, 2016 | Posted by David in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I’m pasting this understated masterpiece here so as to never lose it, and in case it helps others like it did me. A digital cutting from The Irish Times:

From Here

The word for it might disappear,
the road run through its invisible wall.
The view from here is the border

vanishing around an otter,
swallows, tractor, trailer and damsel-
fly, not so much law as a stretch of water.

Mind your footing on its thin air.
There’s the fault whose tremor you feel.
The view from here is a border

gone over and over, a fact of nature,
an impression that’s begun to snowball,
not so much water as law and order,

a wavering queue, a detention centre,
a dotted line turned block and fractal:
the view from here is the border,
law and order written on water.

John McAuliffe
Originally published in The Irish Times

Share Button

The Maximum Wage Magazine is now available to buy!

magcover_web

A 72-page A4 full-colour glossy magazine splashed on every page with photos from the live show and packed with brand new art and articles on earning a living.

Only £3.50 & FREE delivery within the UK.


Where Are You?



Performance combining hectic game-show silliness, satirical bite and economic critique – David Collard, The Times Literary Supplement

East London has become a prime example of the divide between the UK’s richest and poorest. It’s also where a group of artists are teaching people about income inequality. – Helen Amass, The Times Educational Supplement

magcover_web

Gainful Unemployment

“The times I’ve felt most employed, society has deemed me unemployed.” Eddie Farrell

An Insider’s View of The City

Investment Manager turned activist Clive Menzies explains how the rich transfer wealth from all of us to the top 10%

The NHS: A Private Investigation

Artist Marion Macalpine reveals a new and unreported threat to hospital estates.

The Metabolic Economy

David and Ping collage texts* and imagine a resurrected R Buckminster Fuller crashing an East End Artists’ studio. “Energy Is True Wealth! Survival for all, not just the fittest, is now a fact!”

AND Julie Rafalski shares out the commonwealth pie. Ladies Of The Press subvert lifestyle magazines to sell you back to your Self. Sophie Herxheimer collects life stories. Janice Macaulay‘s treasure trove of thrifty tips. Julie-Rose Bower dismisses the CV. Four pull-out posters Smash Hits stylee. Orwell vs Osborne on a living wage, Salary Amnesty and more!


Where Are You?



Inside the venue, it’s hectic, a little ramshackle, with a DIY, handmade aesthetic. It’s as far as you can get from the white cube art gallery experience. Although the art world may be driven by money, you feel a little uncouth if you actually ask how much something is. Here the mechanics of making and spending money are in the foreground and in your face. You’re being asked to think about wealth and value, and how these are not objective facts but constructed ideas. – Anne Black & Katherine Dike, galleryELL

*Utopia or Oblivion, 2008, Lars Muller Publishers
Critical Path, 1981, St Martins Press
The World of Buckminster Fuller (DVD), Robert Snyder, 2010, Microcinema International
R. Buckminster Fuller, Everything I Know

Share Button

I’ve been called “David Hemingway” in error all my life, so what larks to be asked by HemingwayDesign to bring a portion of our Live Art show The Maximum Wage to Greenwich Peninsula.

We will be pressing members of the public onto our print production line to produce Orwell banknotes, valid at several craft and food stalls throughout the day!

Share Button

max_e-flyer

 

Share Button