Monday, 11 May 2009


It feels like the first balmy Sunday of summer; people messing about in boats - but others from the nearby rowing clubs appear to have more serious intentions.

Earlier, I awoke after a disturbed night of riparian flatulance. Every move I made precipitated much glooping and gurgling from the water around the hull. I will have to get used to it until we get off the river. It doesn't seem such a problem on the canals. Moving on from such pooterish concerns, I finally got my arse into gear and went to see the Ray Johnson show at Raven Row - the last day. It made a refreshing contrast to much contemporary art with its industrial polish and vacuity of concept. Ray Johnson's lo-fi product was a bit of a minor revelation. He shows a continuity throughout which amounts to a personal iconography. The whole show rarely deviated from his signature passions - shot through with sly and vulgar references to his sexuality - mediated by those particular stars of the big screen which seem to hold so much fascination for gay artists of the time: James Dean, Shirley Temple, Elvis Presley and the like.

But his work seemed so much more than a kitchen table version of Warhol. He seems to have more in common with the personal poetics of Joseph Cornell. His images are also - resolutely - things. They have a material substance like flattened out Cornell boxes.

'Forever on the scale of the stars.... A guardian of his solitude'. I just picked up the phrase (or something very like it) from a radio programme about Rainer Maria Rilke and his relationships with women. It seems to fit Duchamp's relationship with Gabrielle.

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