Very, very blue. Roger Hiorns' Seizure.

Very, very blue. Roger Hiorns' Seizure.

Having managed to be nominated for a Turner Prize, or at least being responsible for having its creator Roger Hiorns nominated, it’s no surprise that the council who wanted to demolish this old council house block somehow haven’t quite got around to breaking it up. In fact you get the feeling that if they could only find a way to levy a charge on this it would cover the building of a few new decent homes.

Still, Hiorns’ Seizure, a copper sulphate encrusted house that’s well worth seeing, has been reopened (until October 18 2009). It does make you wonder what they’ve been doing with it since they closed it at the tail end of last year. Anyway, it’s great and you all should go and stand in line to get your feet into the now probably very scabby festival gumboots you have to wear to get inside. You won’t be disappointed (foot infections aside). More info on Shapeandcolour and here, oh and here too.

Frankly if Hiorns doesn’t win the Turner Prize, then the art people need their heads examined.

Squire Jules in his new headgear

Squire Jules in his new headgear

Went out to see the medieval jousting at Arundel Castle, where the Boon were able to equip themselves in a style they could only previously have dreamed about – real swords, super-vicious gauntlets and some quality headgear such as this forward thinking child encasing unit – simply place the unit on child and watch them bimble about merrily for the next ten minutes heroically bumping into stuff left right and center. For double amusement equip child with a finely made longsword and back off quickly. We thought the Boon would be enthralled by the fine exhibition of olde worlde sword fighting and jousting, but it turns out they really raved over the castle, which was “A proper castle just like I wanted”. Best bit obviously being the Tower Guards’ outdoor toilet.

Meanwhile, the Lairds of Scunthorpe album has been developing at a pace over the summer. Currently there are 10 – 12 tracks being worked on, from material developed solely on the fantastic Beatmaker on the iPhone, to fully Logiced up songs with some neat beats. I want to get it to about double that before I start working out which ones to focus on.

As if this wasn’t enough I’ve been rewatching The Wire (like anything else is worth rewatching alright). Only this time I’ve added a new twist. I’m watching it in French with English subtitles. That way when I go over to France I’ll be able to talk in authentic Baltimore French, which I guess is a bit like McNulty’s genuine English. Spot On eh.

Updated for the Summer

Large copper sulphate crystal from Roger Hiorns Seizure installation

Large copper sulphate crystal from Roger Hiorns Seizure installation

The Kids Who Do Art were obviously very, very clever. Having had the contents of last year’s Turner Prize substantially dissed, they decided to ensure that this year’s nominations at least produced some interesting, albeit highly exclusive, art, rather than tedious monologues of string and manikins.

This time instead of nominating some oververbal, cliche ridden artphags, the Turner Prize people have nominated personal favourite Roger Hiorns (along with three other lucky losers). Hiorns, who poured anything between 60,000 and 90,000 gallons/litres/bathtubs of copper sulphate into a council flat to ‘see what happened‘, is everything the Turner people need after the tedium and torpor of last year. Most essentially he gets noticed outside the patronisingly oblique little artworld that the Turner people inhabit. Seizure, the copper sulphate council house, is fantastically compelling and emphasises that the most extraordinary, most relevant art today is taking place outside the confines of the galleries and museums the Turner people live in. The demand for spectaculars, whether it be Seizure or the recent grafitti under Waterloo station, far outweighs that for most retrospective showpeice exhibitions. Admittedly, at least one of the other nominees, Richard Wright, is interesting, but for my money it’s Hiorns’ to lose. I particularly look forward to seeing the Little Artists’ lego version.

Meanwhile, I’ve been adding to my overbearing web presence. In particular I’ve been forced (forced you understand) to upgrade my Flickr account. You can see all my pics from the copper sulphate house, along with a whole load of other stuff, most of which has been taken by and manipulated within my iPhone. I can’t wait for Apple to put together a halfway decent camera lens for it in the next release.

I was super happy to find out that after what seemed like three or four lifetimes worth of waiting, Powers volume 12 is out. I had worried that, as with many comics, I might have got bored during the interval and it would be a hideous disappointment, but I needn’t have wasted the worry. Powers 12 is the best volume yet, finalising the Deena Pilgrim story arc along with a bunch of in-the-wings characters. Overall it feels as bittersweet as the final episode of The Wire series 3, it’s hugely satisfying, but I’ve no idea where they’re going to take the series now. Pilgrim sitting on a beach somewhere feels very reminiscent of McNulty swinging a baton as he’s returned to the beat. Still in Bendis we trust. Like David Simon, he seems to have his finger on the pubic bone of the police procedural and is capable of playing it about at will.

Copper Sulphate house

Psycho Buildings exhibitionSomehow art and houses just seem to go together now. There was Rachel Whiteread’s inverted housespace sculptures, the recent Psycho Buildings exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, and then there was Seizure, the Copper Sulphate house in Elephant and Castle.

Roger Hiorns’ crystal house is probably the maddest of them all, a entire council flat flooded with copper sulphate solution, which is left to crystalise before being drained. It’s a very weird experience, a bit like entering Narnia through the wardrobe. First you wander down from Elephant and Castle, home to the most un-shopping centery shopping centre, along the New Kent Road, whose council blocks now appear to be little more than facades for this year’s incarnation of futuristic local authority bruto-chic, until you find the most boarded up two storey horseshoe shaped set of flats you can. You then stand there for an hour waiting for your turn to try on a set of some old geezer’s gumboots, before joining another queue to actually get into the flat. If you didn’t know better you’d think that there was some kind of secret stalinist indoctrination going on, an artistic linkage of the queuing process and the rotten environment you’re locked into.

Very, very blueFinally you go in and it’s a complete transformation. You enter the flat, turn left and the grime and festeridge of the estate is obliviated by walls of massive, compellingly blue copper sulphate crystals. It’s like someone has been pebbledashing with some poor child’s science project, but on an industrial scale. The walls aren’t just covered in the crystals, they’re caked in them, like a ship’s hull that’s been overwhelmed with barnacles. And they’re everywhere. And they’re all blue. As gobsmackingly blue as the diva in The Fifth Element.

It’s like a twisted Santa’s Grotto, all sparkley and gem-like and bloody cold too the day I went to see it. You stumble around in what could either be Blue Santa’s elves’ urine or more likely undrained copper sulphate runoff (hence the gumboots), while indiscriminate shapes of other visitors fade in and out of view. And you find yourself gazing into individual hunks of fist sized crystal mummuring ‘mmmm, my precious’ over an over like a demented Gollum. The overall effect is a bit like being entombed in one of Joseph Beuys’ huge felt installations, where all sound and sensation have been damped out of existance. Standing inside a Beuys installation was the nearest thing to being down a mine, said Arthur Scargill in possibly his only genuinely coherent moment. Standing here is even closer, because unlike a wall-full of felt, it actually looks like you could mine something here.

People drifting in and out

It’s the sort of thing that makes you wonder why there isn’t more of this stuff, or indeed, why they’re demolishing this at the end of the month. It’s the exact opposite of Whiteread’s internal spaces, which solidified the spaces inside a building, but prevented you from entering them. This concretises the surroundings (or more accurately, copper sulphatises them), allowing you to move around, but at the same time shows you a barren, poisonous, thoroughly alien landscape within that forces your mind to think about the nature of the space. Awesome.