Neurodiversity promotion on Exhibition Road

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 22, 2022

Came across this inspiring installation on Exhibition Road in Central London. It highlights neurodiverse researchers in the leading institutions (Imperial College, Science Museum, V&A, Royal College of Art) along this key street. The graphics are engaging and the individual examples highlight the importance of neurodiversity in research.

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What art have I seen? Köln Skulpturen Park

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 1, 2022

Köln Skulpturen Park makes evident several key moves used by sculptors creating outdoor works

  • Fairy tales – two of the pieces added to the collection recently (video here) evoke traditions and archetypes Mary Bauermeister’s arrangement of tree stump seats into a space for a different way of spending time in nature and Guan Xaio’s Old Eggs and the Catcher which seems to allude to folk stories
  • Repurposing – Dane Mitchell’s Post Hoc, two fir tree mobile phone masts, take a piece of infrastructure and repurpose it to tell a different story, in this case of loss.
  • Buildings – the focal point of the park is Suo Fujimoto‘s white concrete structure. The ‘building’ surrounds a tree. The act of looking in and looking out both create frames with which to appreciate the leafy environment. Of course, much like the Farnsworth House, you need a certain level of privilege to appreciate the views without being concerned about the functionality of the building.

Mies van der Röhe said

When one looks at Nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it takes on a deeper significance than when one stands outside. More of Nature is thus expressed – it becomes part of a greater whole.

Fujimoto’s piece is the sculptural version, framing and organising nature. It even has works installed in and on it.

Lois Weinberger‘s intervention made a few years ago is one of the more radical ‘pieces’. Very much in contrast with the formality of much of the work (di Suvero, even Fischli and Weiss), his trench, in reality a bulldozer driven in a straight line for 100m cutting through paths and leaving spoil heap at the end of the line, offers a different aesthetic. Related to Robert Smithson’s various experiments with entropic processes, and with Gordon Matta-Clark’s cuts, but this is negentropic – it is focused by emergence, its aesthetic is what happens when we stop controlling nature. Its counterpoint is Karin Sander‘s piece of plastic grass inserted into the equally managed grass.

The curatorial approach is in some respects more radical than some of the artists’ works. As I understand it each new exhibition, comprising some temporary works and some new permanent installations, is focused by a previous work. This year’s exhibition refers back to the Weinberger’s piece. This iterative accumulative approach forms a nice counterpoint to novelty as a curatorial approach.

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What art have I seen? The Circle of a Square and The Effect of a Butterfly

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 14, 2022

Henrik Håkansson’s exhibition with The Modern Institute.

The banding is something to do with the gallery lights… another interesting aspect

Strange exhibition including video of butterflies flying in Håkansson’s garden filmed using a very high speed camera. The huge structure holding the not very large screens is a curious installation. The wall-based works use historic Joseph Albers’ prints composed with butterflies captures and preserved by Håkansson as a young man. Donald Judd is also present in another wall based element.

I remember Håkansson’s piece in Radical Nature – a tree tipped over on its side. In the end whilst Håkansson engages with living things in different ways, it doesn’t feel like he draws attention to interdependence (other than perhaps ironically). As David Antin put it,

“The idea of an ecological art is the idea of an art that articulates dependencies, its own condition for existence or those of the world” (David Antin, ArtNews Nov. 1970 p. 90).

What art have I seen? In Relation to Linum

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 24, 2021

RIP Siah Armajani

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 30, 2020
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Failure talks

Posted in CF Writing, Failure, Research, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on April 26, 2020

A recurring theme has been failure. This has resulted in publications (paper in iJade written with Dr Gemma Kearney, Business School, Robert Gordon University) and talks (principally for the Scottish Graduate School in Arts and Humanities Summer School 2016-18 presented with Elizabeth Reeder, Creative Writing, University of Glasgow).

Recently I’ve prepared the talk in four segments which can be watched online.

Pt 1 focuses on the prescriptions and fables that surround failure. Pt 2 draws on the research Gemma Kearney and I did into Gray’s School of Art staff perceptions of failure in their own practices and teaching. Pt 3 draws on Elizabeth Reeder’s talk for the Summer School as well as on Gert Biesta’s art pedagogy to discuss methods and desires. Pt 4 highlights some of the references and discusses them briefly.

The Art of a Life Adapting, published in Leonardo

Posted in Arts & Health, CF Writing, News, Research, Texts, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 10, 2020
'Drawing 2016', pen (Sharpie), found object, sculptural object, 2016. (Photo: Fergus Connor)

‘Drawing 2016’, pen (Sharpie), found object, sculptural object, 2016. (Photo: Fergus Connor)

Statement ‘The Art of a Life Adapting: Drawing and Healing’ just published in Leonardo Vol 53 No 1. You can find an earlier version here. Drawings are here.

There is a lot of talk about adaptation in relation to the climate crisis, but there is also an increasing recognition that cancer survival rates mean that a larger proportion of the population is and will be living with the long term consquences of cancer treatment. This has been highlighted by the EU Horizon programme, “The EU has already placed the needs of survivors as one of the key pillars of its Beating Cancer Plan and has now launched a consultation aimed at identifying where research is needed most.” (‘Treating cancer is only part of the journey’: the overlooked needs of cancer survivors, online.)

The role of arts and cultural practices, as well as approaches to understanding adaptation conceptually and practically, all need further consideration (see recent blog on climate adaptation). We know arts & culture has multiple contributions to make, including:

  • offering forms of autonomy in palliative care, as explored in the ‘Tracing Autonomy’ project by Prof. Ben Colburn of University of Glasgow, Jeni Pearson and Kirsty Stansfield of the Art Room in the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow.
  • playing a role in ’emotional regulation’ (Daisy Fancourt’s recent research provides significant evidence), but there are also issues around ‘uncertainty’ which also connect climate-related adaptation with cancer-related adaptation.
  • opening up ways of ‘living with uncertainty’, which medics recognise as an important part of their professional practice, but is equally significant for patients.


Adaptation and failure

Posted in CF Writing, Failure, Research, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on February 3, 2020


Greenhouse Britain installed at the Feldman Gallery in New York City

Ten years ago I was working with the Harrisons on Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom. They insistently focused on ‘adaptation’ although Defra, who were funding the work, wanted the focus on ‘mitigation’. Now public policy is addressing adaptation (cf Climate Ready Clyde) as well as the Cultural Adaptation project (which I’m helping to evaluate as part of my work as a Research Fellow at Gray’s School of Art).

Mitigation is easier to plan and measure. How much reduction in carbon dioxide emissions has this initiative achieved?

Adaptation might be based on strengthening infrastructure and systems, but the shape of the challenge is timescale for knowing whether it has worked or not – this might be a decade?

So understanding what failure means in this context is important. In particular the challenge is that methods and approaches with known outcomes can seem attractive (less likely to fail) but can only deliver what is already understood. Embracing change must mean also embracing failure as a possibility.

The voices speaking as the projection of sea-level rise onto the island of Britain plays out ask,

Will it be enough?

As the most extreme model suggests
to halt the juggernaut of the ocean
if carbon use is stopped
almost all at once
almost all over
in the next 10 years?

Later they ask,

Would it be enough?

To begin now
a transglobal discourse in which
the Global Domestic Output
is discussed
agreeing all efforts be directed to commit
1% of the Global Domestic Product
to the reduction of the carbon surge
to near zero
in order to reduce
the ocean rise?

And again later,

Would it be enough?

to transcend economic thinking
and begin creating
a domain
of ecological thinking
that regenerates
the great carbon-sequestering
world systems
that operate in the forests
and the oceans
while leaving
ancient carbon stored
as coal and oil
in their present inactive states?

This repeating pattern of ‘will it…?’ / ‘would it be enough?’ asks about how we imagine risk of the unknown, risk of failure.

The issue of failure and why it matters in experimental projects is explored in this blog from the Cultural Adaptations project (including more on failure from previous publications).

What art have I seen? Hamish Fulton

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 29, 2020

A Decision To Choose Only Walking at Parafin.

Fine selection of work – the itemisation of walking around many Kora suggests more committed Buddhism. Fulton talks about the time it takes to get into the ‘quiet mind’ at the start of a walk.

The statements “I am a contemporary artist, not a mountaineer. I have no knowledge of Alpine-style climbing and I see no reason why I should paint a ‘good likeness’ of any mountain. I employ words but I’m not a writer. I am a walking artist and I record all my walks in word form…” 60 years of clarity…

What art have I seen? Jo Spence

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 24, 2020

Abstract for Guest presentation: “The work is a chant and was made to be read aloud.”

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 18, 2019

Title: “The work is a chant and was made to be read aloud.”*
Chris Fremantle and Anne Douglas


Helen Mayer Harrison (1927-2018) and Newton Harrison (b.1932) are pioneers in bringing together art and ecology. Their work is combinations of text and image, always intended to ask us to put ecosystemic health and wellbeing first in all our decision-making. More timely than ever, their works speak to improvisation and offer ways to think about adaptation.

The Harrisons worked together in a fifty year partnership drawing on their skills as researchers and artists to engage different publics across the globe in understanding the entangled nature of rising temperatures, loss of biodiversity, sea level rise among other issues. They pose the question of how we as a human species among many others will cope with these changes.

Reading (or re-enacting) the Harrisons works is a process of exploration of experience and meaning distinct from critical writing (which we have also done).
We will perform a selection of texts chosen from three periods of the Harrisons’ work. We will introduce each of these readings with a view to developing a shared discussion on what the arts contribute to the current environmental crisis.

Theatre Studies, University of Glasgow, 5.30 pm 23 Jan 2020

Anne Douglas is an artist and researcher. She has focused over the past 25 years on developing research into the changing nature of art in public life, increasingly in relation to environmental change. She has published extensively on artistic leadership, improvisation and participation exploring the function and poetics of exemplary artistic practices, including that of the Harrisons, the latter in collaboration with Chris Fremantle. She is a professor emeritus from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen and continues to develop and support practice led research through the arts at doctoral and postdoctoral levels.

Chris Fremantle is a Research Fellow and Lecturer as well as a Producer for art projects across health and environment. He has worked as Producer on the Harrisons’ work Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom (2006-09) and more recently as Associate with On the Deep Wealth of this Nation, Scotland. Together with Anne Douglas, he has written on the practice of the Harrisons. Chris established ecoartscotland in 2010 and has been Chair of the Art Focus Group for the Ramsar Culture Network since 2016. He studied English and Philosophy and has a Masters in Cultural History.
* Harrison, H.M. and Harrison, N. 2001. From There to Here. San Diego: Harrison Studio

What art have I seen? Young Turner

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 1, 2019

Turner’s Perspective Diagrams

Banbury Museum’s exhibition from the Ashmolean of Young Turner and Oxford. Includes a sequence of diagrams used by Turner for his lectures on perspective.

What art have I seen? Hal Fischer, Dike Blair and more…

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on November 22, 2019

Hal Fischer’s Gay Semiotics and Other Works. Several different series exploring gay culture in San Francisco – life on a street bench over 24hrs; the archetypal attire of particular groups, the key signals. All b/w photos with text, some done as almost scientific textbooks.

Also at GoMA Fiona Tan’s Disorient and a group exhibition Domestic Bliss

At the Modern Institute Dike Blair at Osborne Street and Matt Connors Figure at Aird’s Lane. Quality painting in both cases. Connors’ visual games with abstracts playing with colour and scale, a game to see the connections.

And revisiting Nick Cave’ Until at Tramway where there was also Zadie Xa’s Child of Magohalmi and the Echoes of Creation and Fred Moten and Wu Tsang’s Gravitational Feel.

What art have I seen? Max Ernst on the first floor and Richard Serra on the third

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on November 3, 2019

Max Ernst: An Invitation To Look
The Artist’S Career Surveyed In A Private Collection

Un/fortunately only three of the fifteen works because of another event, but came away with the catalogue.

The show features fifteen works from an exceptional private collection, covering Ernst’s entire career from 1925 to 1971, acquired largely in the 1950s and 1960s by a prominent Italian collector and friend of the artist.

Of course the question of ‘how to look’ is vital. All the works in the exhibition involve different methods used by Ernst in addition to drawing and oil on canvas – frottage, collage, grattage, and gesso relief.

Upstairs in a different dealership is a selection of Richard Serra drawings – examples of several different series. These test the edge between drawing and sculpture; the surfaces are as dense as Chestnut tree bark. The one exception, a looping line spiralling across the page is more like a stream and banks of accumulated sediment.

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What art have I seen? Fife Arms

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 30, 2019

What art have I seen? Rijksmuseum

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 6, 2019

Medieval and Asian art.

Saint Elizabeth’s Day Flood (1490-95) amazing record of a flood in 1412 caused by storm surges in the North Sea–r-s/collections/elisabeth-panelen-dordrecht?ii=0&p=0

Also ‘A Lohan’, carved wood from China before 1400AD. “This is Ajita. He concentrates fully on listening to the reading of a sutra, a scripture that conveys the Buddha’s teachings.”

(and we thought Masaccio was good),10

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What art have I seen? Gathering by Alec Finlay

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 9, 2019

Finlay, Manifesto for Walking

Alec Finlay’s exhibition Gathering at W OR M in Aberdeen opens up a relationship with the Scottish environment (that which is around us whether urban, rural, forest or mountain top) as a space of walking and hutting, but also of re-wilding and in which to make poetry. We think of mountains and forests in the sublime tradition of art, but Alec gives us this in everyday and contemporary terms. He uses games and the domestic, even children’s toy blocks, to engage us. His form of concrete poetry, poetry to exist in the world, in workplaces and domestic spaces, is quirky but not precious.

Finlay, Timeline of Re-Wilding

Audiences and… pt4

Posted in Audiences and, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on May 7, 2019

Lucas Ihlein’s short essay on blogging and how he uses it as part of a situated practice (whether in local communities or communities of interest) opens up interesting questions about exoticisim and neighbourliness, seeing the familiar and how to make it strange, as well as the use of a blog as a form of interaction.

Blogging as art, art as research

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Audiences and… pt3

Posted in Audiences and, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 7, 2019

Reflecting on what it means to put someone at the centre of making art… Projects Director for ArtLink, Alison Stirling’s thoughts published on the Creative Scotland website.

The more they work together, the more the person at the centre benefits; the clearer the idea the more the person at the centre benefits; the more artists and thinkers are involved, the more the person at the centre benefits; the more time they spend learning from each other, the more the person at the centre benefits.

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What art have I seen? Mladen Miljanović

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on February 7, 2019

Utopian Realism at W OR M in Aberdeen, the first solo exhibition by Mladen Miljanović in Scotland.

Miljanović’s work is surreal (inc a video of his tutor at Art School being fitted with Lie Detector equipment before being interrogated and beaten by the Secret Police). But the performance, which involved Miljanović handcuffed to a pillar in the middle of the space for the duration of the opening, is possibly the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced. I’ve read about pretty strange stuff in London and elsewhere in the 60s and 70s (shutting audiences into spaces, etc) but this was a personal first.

But how do you make something real and meaningful in a Gallery? Miljanović said he couldn’t show the work of his Teacher being arrested and interrogated and stand around being the celebrity artist – if he showed the work he had to ensure it wasn’t just entertainment. The performance ensured that the exhibition was inflected with a shared experience.

Of course the fact that he instigated the arrest and had organised the filming, all without his teacher’s knowledge, multiplies the strangeness.

Richard Fremantle, RIP

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 29, 2019

Still Life (New Year’s Day) 1 January 2019

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 1, 2019

Audiences and… pt2

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 17, 2018

Another piece of writing that has stayed with me comes from Matt Baker, Orchestrator at The Stove in Dumfries. In 2010 he wrote a piece entitled ‘A serious attempt to unravel public art’ about how all public art needs a door. He expressed it more elegantly. Read it here. And there is a pdf Sacrificial Materials: A serious attempt to unravel public art (deep breath).

Audiences and… pt1

Posted in Audiences and, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 10, 2018

I had an interesting conversation recently. Someone said to me. “I get irritated when I ask an artist how they think the viewer of the work will respond to something they are working on. They often say that they are making the work for themselves. When I ask them whether they want people to see the work, they say Of course. When I ask them who, they say People.” We are here talking about studio based work, work that is made and then shown, but this brings up larger issues.

And there is a truth that anyone making work in a studio in the end is making something to a personal agenda. And neither of us were thinking that making art was a form of marketing where a clear sense of the intended audience, segmented and analysed, was central to the process. Working in public places is almost always a negotiation.

So I’m going to be exploring this question, drawing attention to writing that I think helps address the question, “What is the relationship between the artist and the audience, participant, collaborator, co-creator, etc?” There will be a series of posts and they’ll all have the Title “Artists and…” Some may just be links to other pieces of writing – where relevant I’ll provide pdfs too.

The first is from Anne Douglas’ forthcoming publication in the Connected Communities Series for Policy Press.

Anne recently wrote, speaking of Allan Kaprow and John Cage,

…they shared the question of where creativity begins and ends – with the composer, with the performer and/or with the audience? This shift in the power of creative agency is poignantly evidenced at this early stage in Cage’s 4’33” (1952). The performer sits at the grand piano but does not play it. Instead the ritual of a classical performance frames ambient sound creating an environment that is sensory and, importantly, draws the audience, performer and composition together in a shared space connected through listening. The conventional hierarchy in which the (active) composer generates material that the performer (as mediator) realises to a (passive) audience gives way to new configuration. The listener, who could be composer or performer or a member of the audience, becomes the creator of his/her own singular experience of sound.

Douglas, A. 2019 Redistributing Power? A Poetics of Participation in Contemporary Arts. Bristol: Polity Press.

You can download the book from the Connected Communities website

(pdf Douglas Redistributing Power)

Still Life, 21 November 2018

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on November 21, 2018

What art have I seen? Land of Lads, Land of Lashes

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 11, 2018


Rosemarie Castoro, Land of Lashes, archival photo, 1976

Land of Lads, Land of Lashes at Galerie Thaddeus Ropac. Rosmarie Castoro, Wanda Czelkowska, Lydia Okumura. Three different contexts (NYC, Poland, Brazil). Deep formal sculptural concerns bringing in expressionist, minimalist, humorous, bodily aspects. Interesting in comparison to Lee Lozano – the catalogue of the recent retrospective of Castoro suggests similar interest in lists, instructions and texts. Okumura’s spatial works relate to Sol Lewitt but also to Fred Sandback and are more dynamic than Lozano’s large paintings.

What art have I seen? More Christo drawings and collages

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 11, 2018

More Christo and Jeanne-Claude, this time at Repetto Gallery. Drawings are all attributed to Christo, though the installed projects are Christo & Jeanne-Claude. One public installation in the Serpentine Lake, one public exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, two commerical gallery exhibitions simultaneously (Stern Pissarro and Repetto).

I hadn’t realised before that some of the drawings are collages including fabric and string. In particular Wrapped Wall has fabric stapled to the image which is then drawn on, so some of the creases are ‘real’ and some inscribed – remarkable. The more you look at these works, the more they give you.

You can see in the 1976 The Pont Neuf Wrapped collage below that there is fabric inserted into the image – the media are listed as “Pencil, fabric, twine, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, wax crayon, pastel, charcoal and map.”



What art have I seen? Positive Geographies

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 14, 2018

John Blackwood and Svetlana Popova talking about Liminal engaged in the discourse of Aberdeen and the last bathhouse in Berlin.

What art have I seen? Lee Lozano

Posted in Exhibitions, Strike, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 16, 2018

Lee Lozano Slip, Slide,Splice at the Fruitmarket Gallery. I bought her Notebook republished by Primary Information years ago, partly because I like scores and instructions and partly because we were working on Calendar Variations and I was looking for artists working with grass.

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What art have I seen? A Global Table

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 3, 2018

A Global Table at the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands (thanks to the snow-cancelled flight.

The sound of cicadas is evocative and the Carribean accents confirm that although I’m standing in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem outside Amsterdam, Shelley Sacks has transported me to an island far away. I’m standing listening to a man or a woman talk about being a banana farmer and the way that global trade affects their lives and livelihoods. In front of me is a mat of pressed banana skins, positioned like a portrait. If I put my nose close I can just get the musk, though the museum’s air conditioning has done for it really. I listen to the voice on headphones. There are twenty portraits around the room. Twenty different voices. Twenty different glimpses into lives and livelihoods. In the middle is a large round table, the centre of which is filled with dried banana skins. The table and benches invite conversation. Irreverently I wonder if the museum staff ate all the bananas, or did a local baker make a lot of banana bread? Gill makes good banana bread. I eat bananas because they are a good snack and don’t give me wind. They are part of my domestic life and Shelley’s installation asks me to relate my domestic to through a series of scales to another domestic and regional, linked by a global corporate system of trade. One of the banana farmers asks the Europeans (i.e. me but probably a bureaucrat or politician in practical terms) to help the banana farmers against the American multi-nationals.

It would be great to be part of one of the conversations that happen around this table periodically.

Other works in the exhibition invite you to participate in a ritual with salt to recognise its role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

; or tell you about the ‘policing’ of relationships between Dutch men and indigenous and mixed women in the Indonesian colonies; or explores the batik business in which the Dutch as all good merchants do took from the Africans all sorts of designs and then sold them the materials. These and other works in the exhibition all revealed or described situations, where Shelley Sacks’ piece opens up a dialogue. In her work no simple moral position is offered. Rather we are asked to engage with the lives of the banana farmers.

Sadly the complimentary part of the exhibition focusing on Food in Still Life painting had been replaced at the Museum. It had been replaced with paintings on the theme of humour. Actually this is an interesting juxtaposition. The exhibition blurb is,

Naughty children, stupid peasants, foolish dandies and befuddled drunks, quack doctors, pimps, procuresses, lazy maids and lusty ladies – they figure in large numbers in Golden Age masterpieces. The Art of Laughter: Humour in the Golden Age presents the first ever overview of humour in seventeenth-century painting.

These paintings offer a moral commentary on society. They do this with beautifully rendered scenes containing jokes and knowing winks. Sex is alluded to through visual language of hares and skewers and the audience is captured by knowing looks. Scenes are ripe with meaning and compositions juxtapose meaning in revealing ways. Not all the contemporary works dealt with their subject matter with such finesse.

What art have I seen? Hamburger Bahnhof

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 2, 2018

2018-03-02 14.09.09

Several amazing Robert Rauschenberg works.

Also major pieces by Joseph Beuys at the Hamburger Bahnhof including ‘Tallow’ originally made for Skulptur Projekte Munster and now in the collection. Caroline Tisdall’s description is much more evocative than the one on the archive website.

What art have I seen? Workspace at W OR M

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on February 22, 2018

Had my hair cut by Workspace’s Jimmy. Workspace has temporarily relocated to Peacock’s W OR M on the Castlegate.

Detail of Dunfermline life

What art have I seen? Mark Dion’s Theatre of the Natural World

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on February 16, 2018
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What art have I seen? The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 27, 2018

The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind at Hauser & Wirth, Somerset. Enormous exhibition curated by Adam Sutherland.

This exhibition is in parts a bit like a rural museum managed by volunteers with cases of curiosities (models of bird feathers probably ten times life size, a doorstop homage to Robert Burns, various other tchotchkis). The first room you enter had a number of artists’s projects that explored food production. Another had strange hybrid works including an applebarn doubling as a confessional. The end wall of that room had a video piece which included a shocking segment of a cow being killed with a bolt gun in an abbatoir.

Whilst it is great to see the exploration of the rural in art and craft, the curation in the end felt conventional rather than radical. It’s a question of balance – the room with the food production projects was too modest and the room with the arty installation pieces was too overblown. The shocking video was just shocking. In about 1970 Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison exhibited, as part of a group show at the Hayward Gallery, a portable fish farm. This led to a storm of protest because they proposed to kill and eat the fish at the end of the exhibition. What were catfish, a staple food in the US, were carp kept as pets in the UK. The Harrisons’ scale of production was also more interesting – enough to produce a feast. The food production in The Land We Live In might keep a family in lettuce for a couple of weeks – it’s is certainly not enough to supply the Gallery restaurant. That installation should have been a whole room producing vegetables and fish for the restaurant. How would we have felt seeing the fish swimming around and then having them killed for our lunch?

We had too much ‘big art’ and not enough big ideas.

What art have I seen? Soutine’s Portraits: Cooks, Waiters & Bellboys

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 3, 2018

What art have I seen? From Life

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 3, 2018

From Life at the Royal Academy – centred around Jeremy Deller’s Iggy Pop Life Class it also included the brilliant film by Cia Gou-Qiang – One Thousand Youngsters Drawing David.

Tended to agree with Timeout review that it was not brilliantly curated – last two rooms a bit of a guddle. Better to have more of Michael Landy’s portraits and fewer other bits and pieces.

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Tim Rollins, 1955-2017. RIP

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 31, 2017

I had the great pleasure to participate in a workshop led by Tim Rollins and organised at the Talbot Rice Gallery in conjuction with is exhibition. He was inspirational, a preacher for art and a leader of people.


Artnews –  

Vice –

No Maintenance?

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on December 31, 2017

RIP Linda Nochlin 1931-2017

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on November 9, 2017

What art have I seen? Dada Africa

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on October 23, 2017

At Musée de L’Orangerie ‘Dada Africa: Sources et influences extra-occidentales’. Also Monet’s ‘Waterlilies’.

What art have I seen? Istanbul Biennial

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on October 3, 2017

What art have I seen? Istanbul Biennial

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on October 3, 2017

What art have I seen? Jac Leirner

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 20, 2017

At the Fruitmarket, Edinburgh. Art made from the everyday. I think that resistance affects how long a piece of wire can connect a socket to a bulb?

What art have I seen? Soul of a Nation

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 9, 2017

Soul of a Nation at Tate Modern

Lorraine O’Grady, ‘Art is…’ (detail) 1983

Compelling exhibition bringing together many distinct groups of artists (East Coast, Los Angeles, Abstraction, Graphic Design, etc) tackling vital and complex questions starting in 1963 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Aspects such as self organising galleries are common to many artists groups. Addressing lynchings and the bombings of churches not so much. You couldn’t have a more complex exhibition on ‘representation’.

David Braine 1940-2017 RIP

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 3, 2017

The Archive of Failure

Posted in Failure, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 16, 2017

What art have I seen? Piero Gilardi

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 20, 2017

What art have I seen? Collection Gori

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 18, 2017

What art have I seen? Dreamers Awake

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 6, 2017

Dreamers Awake must be the largest exhibition comprising only women artists that I’ve ever seen – good on White Cube for mounting it. As the reviewers have said, Surrealism is very much associated with men but this shows that it’s a thread running through the 20th and into 21st Century.

What art have I seen? Random Archive at Bury Art Museum

Posted in Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 24, 2017

Random Archive at Bury Art Museum – excellent, challenging and provocative installation including the rant above. 
Drifts into the permanent collection, elegantly curated mix of new and old including Paul Scott’s ceramics. One wall has work from a life drawing class which would appear to take place in the space (evidence in the form of easels). In fact there are tables for art classes pretty much everywhere intimating a very used and animated space.

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