'our creation is that guru; the duration of our lives is that guru; our trials, illnesses and calamaties is that guru. There is a guru that is nearby and a guru that is beyond the beyond. I humbly make my offering to the guru, the beautiful remover of ignorance, the enlightenment principle that is within me and surrounds me at all times.'
Guru Stotram

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Excerpts from The Diary of Miss World...

Today was my first day as Miss World and time to meet the press! I am still a little amazed at what has happened to me. It is sinking in more now but when I spoke to my family last night, it was an incredible feeling. My family got together to watch the Final on TV and my mum called me right after. She was so excited and there was shouting and celebrations in the background. I went online to speak with friends and suddenly everyone was there waiting for me. I couldn’t believe how many people were congratulating me at once. They even managed to bring my two dogs to the camera. I am looking forward to what the following days will bring, and I am excited to see what lies in store for me for the year ahead!

Since being crowned Miss World In October, I have been so very busy. Each morning I attend an English teaching school near to where I'm staying in London, spending four hours a day in an intense English class learning the language at a rapid pace. I'll be returning home at the end of the month! Getting home and seeing my people, for me, is the first part of this journey. Then, I'll be embarking on my ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ journey around the world in the New Year, which I am so incredibly excited about. Now I can begin helping all those disadvantaged people around the world and raise money for good causes. My aim is to raise a record amount!

I have been so busy, already I have visited some incredible places and have met some wonderful people, from many different cultures and backgrounds. I visited Russia and had a few days of sightseeing in Moscow, starting at the Kremlin, the residence of the President of the Russian Federation.

I was lucky enough to be travelling again and started my trip around Cambodia this month, it has been amazing. The people are so warm and friendly, I have been made to feel welcome everywhere I go. I looked around the museums and also attended a theatre performance with everyone in full costume. It was so colourful! I will leave Cambodia with so many happy memories

I have had a really good time during my stay in China this week. I was on stage for the signing ceremony announcing the Miss World 2010 Final to take place in Sanya. I had never seen so many journalists and photographers at a press conference before! I gave a speech at the conference and told the reporters that I am delighted that the Final will be held in Sanya as I really like it there. The people are nice and friendly, the beaches are amazing, and I think the Miss World contestants who will be travelling there this year will love it as much as I do. I also had the pleasure of taking a trip to Ordos, one of the key destinations in this year’s contest. I received a very warm welcome, and everyone there was happy to see me, with a special dinner given to mark the visit. I am looking forward to returning there already. While I will be sad as my Miss World experience will soon be coming to a close, I am very happy that the place to end my year will be Sanya.

www.sarahmaple.com / www.beverleyknowles.com / www.lascatolagallery.com

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

La Scatola Gallery
1 Snowden Street, EC2A 6DQ
Monday 26 March to Friday 30 March

Friday 30 March
main happening 6.00-8.30pm
It's Just Like Any Other Job Really (Dedicated to World Peace)
a live art project by artist Sarah Maple and writer / curator Beverley Knowles

Artist Sarah Maple and writer / curator Beverley Knowles will be taking part in a week-long series of talks and performances at La Scatola Gallery wherein developments and trends in contemporary art will be explored.

On Friday 30 March they will present It's Just Like Any Other Job Really (Dedicated to World Peace), a collaborative performance influenced by feminist and non-feminist art history, particularly the performative works of artists such as VALIE EXPORT, Carolee Schneeman, Marina Abramovich, Tehching Hsieh and Andrea Fraser. Dedicated to World Peace also makes particular reference to Santiago Sierra's Group of Persons Facing a Wall, a provocative work staged at Tate Modern on 21 April 2008.

Dedicated to World Peace investigates relationships between women through the metaphor of the annual Miss World competition, which extraordinarily outmoded pageant continues to roll on year after year. It will highlight the cliches and stereotypes of what is seen to constitute 'femininity', of what it is to be a woman in 2012. However, the piece does not wish to engage a reductive or didactic view of feminism and gender roles but rather seeks to ask questions about the binary position of gender - performance verses essence. It is also interested in issues of choice or lack there of.

Influenced by artists such as Jeremy Deller and John Gerrard, Sarah Maple and Beverley Knowles wish to abnegate individual authorship and present the piece as a group collaboration between themselves and the participants in this faux Miss World. Upon entering the gallery the viewer also becomes an inadvertent participant in the competition for world supremacy.

It's Just Like Any Other Job Really (Dedicated to World Peace) is a collaboration between Sarah Maple, Beverley Knowles, Gabriela Belard, Angine Bines, Terri Bryan, Natasha Chamberlain-Kent, Veronika Chapman, Rebecca Coates, Olenka Cogias, Tamsin Cotsell, Rachel DiBaiso, Michelle Egan, Miriam Elia, Jess Ettridge, Kate Fidczuksterry, Amy Forrest, Liepa Grigaite, Kelley Griffiths, Bea Hamill, Holly Hardy, Laura Heckford, Holly Howe, Emer Hutton, Rachel James-Bailey, Hannah Catherine Jones, Kayleigh King,, Isabella Lopez-Smith, Adriana Martinez, Alisha Palmer, Katy Pike, Madeleine Scott Cree, Lisa Selby, Nikita Todd, Sarah Vero, Thaires Vicentini, Irina Yordanova and La Scatola Gallery

Monday, 19 March 2012

I used to love Katie Paterson's work. I (and more or less the entire art appreciating cosmos) adored her from the moment she planted a microphone in a melting glacier in Iceland in 2007. Via the neon advertisement of a mobile telephone number on the wall of her Slade MFA degree show she invited the public to listen live to the sound of time melting into itself. On your own mobile telephone you could access the visceral, other-worldly clicking and popping sounds of the earth in flux. Entitled Vatnajokull (the sound of) it was poetic, startlingly fresh and poignant.

Vatnajokull was accompanied by the soulful sound of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata spilling gently from a self-playing grand piano, not even a hand to caress its tragic keys. The music we listened to had been sent, via radio transmission in Morse Code, quite literally to the moon and back. Only the moon didn't return every note. Some of them it kept for itself, absorbed into its shadows. This music that we all knew so well, we perceived as faulty, incomplete, and yet, curiously, even more beautiful for that imperfection, for the loss experienced through intimacy across a universe.

From that moment on Katie Paterson was everywhere. What she's achieved in the five short years since her MA degree show is staggeringly impressive. Nine international solo shows, twenty-seven groups shows - Tate, Performa, BALTIC, Venice – we're talking high, high end. So I headed to 100 Billion Suns, the inaugural exhibition at Haunch of Venison's new 2,750 sq ft space, with a lightness of heart. Perhaps too great a lightness of heart for I left feeling a little flat. Not because the work isn't good. The work is good. But something isn't quite right. Somehow, after such an awe inspiring beginning, it felt thin.

As far as I can ascertain none of the work in this show is new. 100 Billion Suns was a piece commissioned for last years Venice Biennale. The project involved explosions of confetti at 100 or so unspecified locations across Venice. Each piece of confetti was colour matched to the brightest explosions in the universe, gamma ray bursts, which burn at a luminosity 100 billion times that of our own sun. The work manifests itself in Eastcastle Street in the form of a proliferation of whole punched paper circles that burst from a contraption in the ceiling at 1pm every day. Accompanying it are five large scale prints showing the original events - charming views of the canals and streets around Venice foregrounded by a snow storm of metaphorically cosmological ruptures.

There are a lot of other works in this exhibition. As the World Turns (2010) is an adapted record player that rotates in synchronisation with the earth, that is to say one revolution per year, playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Headphones are supplied but, at that rate, there's nothing to hear. Black Firework for Dark Skies (2010) is the vitrined remains of a firework that's been set off at an 'unannounced location'. Neither quite works.

Then there's Dying Star Doorbell (2008) in which the symbolic sound of a dying star, a tiny hum close to middle C, plays every time a visitor opens the door. But why do I care if middle C plays when the door opens? The simple answer is: I don't. Not in the way I cared that notes of Beethoven's cherished sonata had been absorbed by the moon, never to be heard again.

I don't want to be critical of Katie Paterson's work, I like her work very much. But I do feel (my usual curatorial criticism) that in this particular exhibition there's too much of it in too small a space and that in overloading the work in this way it's cheapened it, made something that isn't gimmicky seem as though it might be. I'm afraid to say it comes across as a sort of celestial Hamleys.

But maybe it's not all the fault of the curatorial team. Maybe there is something missing from the work. Maybe such astronomical success over so short a time does take its toll. One can understand of course why an artist, why anyone, would want to take the opportunities when they arise, don't look a gift horse in the mouth and all of that. But by the same token there does come a time when you must recognise your limits or suffer the consequences. This is all stuff that her gallery, or in Katie's case galleries – she has three, London, New York and Seoul - should be advising her on, helping her to manage her career to the optimum, neither under nor over producing. I don't know what relationship the three galleries have with each other but I wonder if she wouldn't be better choosing one and sticking with that for the time being. Perhaps it's too much to juggle for so young an artist working at so high a level, incredibly talented though she indubitably is.

All that aside I very much hope this is a minor aberration in her otherwise faultless career and that my next encounter with her will be every bit as loving as was my first.

Katie Paterson
100 Billion Suns
Haunch of Venison
Eastcastle Street London
9 March to 28 April

written for Spoonfed