Jeff Elrod - Simon Lee Gallery

<3 YES.

UAL's Chelsea MA Fine Art Summer show

Some snapshots on my journey around this years Chelsea postgrad summer show.

Verdict: one year just isn't enough time to develop a mature body of work at postgrad level, and considering the reputation Chelsea has/had, the quality of work could never have matched the Goldsmiths or RCA MA shows. Saying that, there were some interesting works/ideas being bounced around.

Gallery below - click on image to scroll through collection

Summary - Venice Biennale, CSM Yr 1, Kyoto vs Tokyo, & Documenta 14

It's been a while since I last posted, and though it's inexcusable, I've got loads of excuses. Here's an overview of what I've been up to of late:

Venice Biennale  - I've never been to the Venice Biennale before, and wanted to see how far the festival was willing to go in opening up debate about recent political events. The Greek Pavilion was outstanding. I also thought the Russian Pavilion was a strong show. Naturally the execution of all the work was fantastic, but mostly the work was safe, commercial, bourgeoisie. Dissappointing but not surprising.

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As for Hirsts epic show spanning 2 huge galleries... it was interesting. Impressive, imaginative... but I couldn't help thinking he hadn't seen all the works before they went on show. The quality of many of the works could have been better. It was a showy display of wealth, a shameless desire to make more money through duplicates and endless objects which didn't need to be on display, didn't add to the exhibition much. Nethertheless, it was great to see a new body of work from this artist, and it was as bold as his early works (I've hated the majority of his work since 2000).

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UAL CSM Yr 1  - I finished off the year being labelled a fascist for making work about pizzagate (a conspiracy theory started by the alt-right after Wikileaks published John Podesta's emails... revealing some odd code words often used between pedo's). Started to think about my dissertation (re censorship in the arts)

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Interview and Talks - Jill Mueller asked if I could do a talk at THECUBE about censorship in the arts (after my work was censored at the CSM MA Interim Show in March 2017). It went really well actually; was great to open up debate/conversation and feel welcome to speak my mind without fear of misinterpretation. Bob Knickell-Knight also asked if I was up for doing an interview for his latest IsThisIt? mag (2nd edition), and we discussed alt-right aesthetics, what's considered "toxic" in art, how the art scene can/should approach and engage with difficult content, and a little about the work I've been making this year. This is the 3rd publication this year where I've been discussing my work/ideas, and it's been wonderful finding out how open-minded others are... I often feel trapped and misunderstood at Central Saint Martins, and these interviews and talks have given me hope.

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Japan - Nathan Cohen invited me to join a research project and group show at Kyoto Saga University of the Arts in July 2017. Boris Raux (a UAL grad) was running the project. I went with Michelle Von Mandel (from Art & Science course), a couple of students from Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and 2 Korean students. We spent a few weeks settling into life in Kyoto before working with students at Saga Uni to do a group show on Olfactory Art - the smell of Kyoto. It was a little tricky carving out time to focus on making work for this show (due to time/language/financial constraints), but the show was received well and it was an honour to experience Japan for the first time. Especially Kyoto; it's a very special place and I learnt a lot about myself being in such a contrasting culture. I dashed over to madhouse Tokyo quickly before heading back to the UK, just to see how different it was to Kyoto (which is a very traditional and romantic city)... obvs not even close to enough time to grasp the city, but I look forward to returning soon.

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Documenta 14 - In comparison to the Venice Biennale, I wanted to get an idea of how Documenta 14 would engage with global politics, and current events. Naturally there was some splendid art on show, however Documenta in many ways felt outdated, insensitive, ignorant. It pretended it had nothing to do with Greek's economic downfall. It felt immature, like it had turns itself away from trauma, pretend it was immune to the world around it. I spent a week being angry that the contemporary art world wasn't opening up debate/conversation with artists, itself and the city... instead it was just another commercial art fair begging for money to start flowing.

Here's some of the works that helped cheer me up :)

Coming up - Nailing my dissertation (I hope). Refining Article 50 perfume, and renovating Pizzagate project. Working on some new concepts/ideas... coming soon so watch this space (or not, whatever).

Over and out.

Simon Denny & Linda Kantchev

Blockchain Visionaries - BB9 2016

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 How nations and corporations visualize and brand themselves has long been an interest for Simon Denny. Blockchain Visionariesshowcases three real companies—Ethereum, 21 Inc, and Digital Asset Holdings—at the forefront of digital monetary platforms and the application of the blockchain, a decentralized transaction database technology that is the backbone of the denationalized cryptocurrency BitCoin. Denny has created a trade-fair-like information booth and a postage stamp for each company, which individually embody a future direction in blockchain technology. Through the stamp, a waning technology and a literal image-turned currency, Denny foregrounds these three startups as enacting supranational economic schemes. Created with Linda Kantchev, a postage stamp designer born in the former East, the stamps’ illustrative potential is instrumentalized to convey each company’s market ambition and implied systemic proposition for the future. Denny’s installation reaps dramatic force through its location in the vast conference room of a building that was formerly the site of the East German Staatsrat(State Council) and is now a management school. Still in its original condition, the room is dominated by a large metal mural rendered in the official style of Socialist Realism and bearing the smokestacks of a bygone industrial age—accompanied by a dove of peace, a monument to the hope technology can bring.

Daniel Keller - The Basilisk

Berlin-based artist and writer Daniel Keller on alt-right "Meme Magic", Pepe the Frog, the Egyptian god of chaos, and how the figure of the Basilisk can help us regain our agency.