I went to the Sunday afternoon opening of Richard Grayson’s The Golden Space City of God at Matt’s Gallery (42-44 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR) on 10 May. Some drapes and stacked chairs, designed to make the gallery look like a community space, formed a minor part of an installation. The main item was a 45 minute film of a choir singing a libretto that had been assembled by Grayson from writings he’d found on the website of Christian fundamentalist cult The Family International (formerly The Children of God And The Family of Love). The music is composed by Leo Chadburn.
The content of the libretto is bog standard Christian fundamentalist bollocks based on The Book of Revelation. Given that The Family started out as a hippie cult you get a few space-age trimmings, but nothing that would surprise anyone who knows the first thing about the forces that potentially threaten the liberty of those who aren’t dyed-in-the-wool religious nuts. The Family view current events as demonstrating that Tribulation has arrived; i.e. the period when Christians are persecuted and the Anti-Chirst rules. According to those that believe this rot, following on from this comes the Battle of Armageddon, at the conclusion of which Christ defeats the Anti-Christ and faithful Christians are rewarded with everlasting life in heaven in the form of The Rapture. The insane beliefs which form the core of Grayson’s libretto are well known outside Christian circles; hence, for example, the jokey title of Blondie’s huge 1981 hit single Rapture.
Despite widespread allusions to Christian fundamentalist eschatology in both popular and underground culture (see also, for example, the books and films of The Church of The SubGenius), Andrew Brighton in an essay accompanying the Matt’s Gallery exhibition suggests: “Richard Grayson’s shocking achievement is to bring into the cultural and institutional frame of modern art such a dangerously hostile set of ideas, values and prophecies as offered in The Golden Space City of God and persuade us to hold or consider or at least comprehend them…”
Aside from the blatant stupidity of this statement – since anyone with an interest in the world around them or even just recent American popular culture, should be familiar with Christian fundamentalist beliefs – it is also rather rich coming from an ignoramus like Andrew Brighton. This former Senior Curator at Tate Modern is a complete tosser with a long history of blocking from entry into the institution of art anything that disturbs his bourgeois views. Like most liberals, Brighton claims to be defending enlightened and democratic values, which in practice leads to the suppression of free and open debate. To give just one example, he personally blocked an essay about me by Richard Marshall from appearing in Critical Quarterly on the grounds that I stand for the destruction of everything he holds dear. If you want to read the essay, it was subsequently posted on the 3AM Magazine website.
Returning to Grayson, his libretto certainly amused one of the women who sang it, you can see her lips curling upwards and her eyes twinkling when she doesn’t have to sing. I’m sure many other members of the choir felt the same way about the work they were performing, although most are so focused on their singing that they aren’t able to smile. Since I didn’t have to do anything more than watch the film of this choir, I was able to give vent to a good belly laugh while I was at Matt’s Gallery. And I’m sure many other visitors to Grayson’s installation will laugh long and loud too.
The installation set-up resulted in it being difficult to spend much time speaking to people at the opening. I clocked the likes of Andrew Brighton and Mark Wallinger but didn’t exchange any kind of pleasantry with them and wouldn’t want to. I did say ‘hi’ and little else to Andrew Wilson and Ingrid Swenson, among others.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!
Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-12 08:38:56 +0000
The Shapes were formed by singer Seymour Bybuss and bassist Brian Helicopter in Leamington Spa in 1977. By 1978, Bybuss and Helicopter had recruited guitarists Tim Jee and Steve Richards and drummer Dave Gee. In February 1979, the group recorded their first record, the “Part of the Furniture” EP and released it on their own Sofa label! A frenetic burst of pop punk stupidity, the highlight was “Batman in the Launderette”, and the record rode high in the independent charts. Soon after the Shapes were contacted by Belfast label Good Vibrations, with whom Sofa struck a distribution deal. The upshot was their second and last piece of vinyl, the “Airline Disaster” single, which was aptly dubbed a double B-side. The ballad about fear of flying was backed by “Blast Off.” Unfortunately, the single bombed and the group folded. However, the band’s music lives on!
Comment by Dick Grayson on 2009-05-12 08:56:53 +0000
As Robin and Nighwing I may have many amazing powers, but I’m really not interested in what goes on in East End of London art galleries. Whoever made the show you are writing about is not the real Richard John “Dick” Grayson but an imposter! Holy double identity, this must be a plot to discredit me!
Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-05-12 09:07:32 +0000
Hey Nightwing, how come your relationships with women never work out? Are you really gay like everyone thought back in the 1960s?
Comment by Bart Simpson on 2009-05-12 09:47:14 +0000
Jingle Bells, Batman smells
Robin laid an egg
The Batmobile lost a wheel
and the Joker got away
There are several variants of this song. The one I grew up with was:
Robin Ran away
lost his willy
on the M1 motor way
Other reported versions include:
Jingle Bells, Batman smells
Robin laid an egg,
The Batmobile lost a wheel,
and the Joker joined ballet , Hey!
Shotgun shells, Santa smells,
Rudolf ran away,
Oh what fun it is to ride
in a beat-up Chevrolet!
Jingle bells, shotgun shells,
Santa Claus is dead,
Rudolf got a .22
and shot him in the head.
Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells,
BB’s in the air.
Oh, what fun it is to ride
in Santa’s underwear!
Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-12 16:47:06 +0000
Children of God (by Swans aka Michael Gira and his skinny wife) is one of the best things I ever heard. That kind of music took me out of the Great Rock’n’ roll Swindle for teenagers also known as punk and into the quite more depressing and adult, and because of that-revolutionary, dark wave or whatever you call it. Batman, in the other hand, over all when he really is a Dark Knight, is just great.
Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-12 22:28:30 +0000
I was Adam West’s double!
Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-05-12 22:48:36 +0000
Are you sure, yesterday you were telling me you’d been Pam Grier’s double before you met me!
Comment by Old Mother Riley on 2009-05-12 23:11:49 +0000
And to hell with the Batmobile, how’s that space ship coming along? I’m more primed than ever to relocate to Venus…
Comment by Mavis Art Lover on 2009-05-13 00:09:14 +0000
Richard Grayson is hot!
Comment by Idi Amin Dada on 2009-05-13 00:42:16 +0000
Robin stepped straight out of your television set and into Matt’s Gallery to make the greatest show on earth!
Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-13 01:24:54 +0000
You what, you what, you what,you what, you what?
Comment by Private Eye on 2009-05-13 05:54:04 +0000
I’d like to suck his adrenaline gland
Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-05-13 13:20:15 +0000
Trip, I’m a bit confused, so excuse me. Was the work a comedy or presented as “serious” cultural criticism? To me, it sounds like a banal exploration of material/themes that have already been well explored. Checking out his website, I don’t have confidence that he could really bring depth or new insight to this stuff. Am I wrong? I freely admit poosibly so. That’s just my ignorant impression.
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-13 16:35:21 +0000
The achievement was in bringing this stuff to the attention of people like Andrew Brighton. There was nothing new in it for me, or I’d imagine you or many others…. But it is funny, especially at the beginning!
Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-13 23:20:58 +0000
Michael: you surprise me!
You should now that there is no serious cultural criticism anymore, and exploration of banality, over all in that themes that have already been explored is the only way left to all of us/them.
Depth is not only passé, but kind of repugnantly religious too.
You are not ignorant, just an old fashioned humanist maybe.
And we love you for that!
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-14 00:33:58 +0000
Too right Rick! Michael is a groove sensation!
Comment by ? on 2009-05-14 04:19:13 +0000
Blimey . Mr Trippy, that 3AM Article is a bit of a hagiography isn’t it???
I agree with a lot of what he said, and you are a smart writer and art critic — but steady on with the deification bit !
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-14 08:56:17 +0000
Yeah, need to try to keep my feet on the ground, at least while I’m still alive, after they’ll be under it!
Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-14 15:48:48 +0000
Hey I’m sorry I’ve been ‘inauthentically’ absent from ‘class’ but I had a dose of the heebeegeebies followed by nasty outbrust of critical faculties. And what’s more I had an anti-relapse of memory which has-fuck knows how this is possible- revealed an almost-complete ‘Stewart Home biography’ (more of a reader than anything, although thoroughly detoruned) entitled ‘Suspect Devices’ which, a Quark document (with pics and in a square pocket book format at 130 pages) was found in its last-saved state of May 5 1999.
You know what this means, dont you?
I’ve been trying to escape for over a decade!!!!!!!
Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-14 15:52:22 +0000
And what’s quite depressing is that the one conceived about 5 years ago (‘Defiant Prose’) has almost the same cover, a very similar Introduction and many common elements. However I cant see how I spent a lot of time on them at the time although time and space being smashed yesterday (June 23 2000), it must be possible that…erm..I’ll finish this important theory later…
Imust dash…I’ve got some limeade chillin’
Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-05-14 16:47:25 +0000
LOL! You’re right, Ricardo, I know depth in criticism and art may be asking for too much but I am just an old-fashioned humanist … or is that idealist … or maybe ideologue?
Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-05-14 16:51:04 +0000
K., I have a book called ‘Defiant Clothes’ which also looks suspiciously similar to Stewart’s book ‘Defiant Prose’.