Monday, September 29, 2014

Beware Wet Paint at ICA, Bone Daddies Ramen Bar, Columbia Road Flower Market

Parker Ito in Beware Wet Paint at ICA (photo by me)

Beware Wet Paint at ICA

ICA, aka, Institute of Contemporary Arts in London has a show on view entitled Beware Wet Paint, featuring about one work each of the artists, Korakrit ArunanondchaiIsabelle CornaroJeff ElrodNikolas GambaroffParker ItoDavid OstrowskiPamela RosenkranzNed Vena, and Christopher Wool.  The concept of the exhibition is to show how these artists use painting in singular ways while also having wider practices. It also distinguishes linage amongst peers, recent groundbreakers (specifically Christopher Wool) and bonafide heavy hitters like Duchamp.  Oh wait, did you say Duchamp? Him and a bragging bill of other names are included in the short press release.  These names include; Richard Prince, Richard Hamilton,  Jan Verwoert and yes, Duchamp. The press release is only 200 words long.

I am going on about this press release because this is evidence to a larger symptom in this show and in others I have seen in London.  There is such a curatorial concentration and pedigree here that it seems to be a total reliance on that merit (or the history of that merit) alone.

For instance, in this show it is truly a plopping down of one work by a trending artist amongst other trending artists. It feels like a carpet sample, a showroom of fancy cars, a display that is not about space, time, material in any sort of relationship to a whole (the show) but more fixed on the focus of one artist and having a sampler piece of their art.  I don’t know who organized this show, it leaves no official accountancy for this so I’m going to assume that is was the “Creative” department’s overseeing.  Whoever it was, I think that they did a lax job of a potentially ripe concept.  The selection of artists is great on paper together, the concept as a general (albeit too vague) sounds great on paper. What seems to have been forgotten is that exhibitions, curation, works in a room together are not just about being good on paper.

Who gives two craps about how fancy, brainy, smart, deep, theory driven, names inserted for validation a show is if the actual show feels like a somber funeral room where the works inside are just waiting to die or just getting further dehydrated of any content? Well, I don’t and I’m sorry ICA and London but I want to see some sizzle as well as institutional and academic smarts the next time I come into an exhibition room.

Bone Daddies Spicy Miso Ramen (photo by me)

Bone Daddies Ramen Bar

This hip joint located in Soho…Stop. Just. Stop. So the proceeding sentence just about sums it up. You know how this place is going to feel like, smell like and you are just curious to know what it tastes like.  Well I did just that thing because I went to the Japan Matsuri festival this past Saturday (sorta cute, sorta boring), and I was planning on eating some ramen at one of their stands but people love Japanese things and people love waiting in line for food so I had to scoot out of there to fix my ramen craving. So I walk about and I find this ramen place across from the Supreme store and I think, ‘this will not end well,’ but proceeded anyways because by that point it was 3:00 or as they like to say here 15:00 and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  I sat down, it took a while to get any service, and then when a waiter came by I ordered the Spicy Miso Ramen. I’m Korean so spicy ramen and me are very close friends. Anyways it comes, it is very attractive looking, the broth is nice but could use some more punch.  Then I start investigating further.

It has a nice piece of pork, some general veg filler like bamboo shoots and bean sprouts and it has those amazing orange yolked eggs that are just the ‘normal’ eggs in London town. So it looks good, the broth is passable but then you get to the noodles. THE NOODLES! The noodles are no good. They are good, but they are not how ramen noodles should be.  They are stringy, yellow and lack that wave that helps the broth and oils to stick onto them with each bite.

I ate the ramen because I was ravenous and it wasn’t the worst thing to eat but here’s a word of advice. Just because something may look good, it does not mean it tastes good. This is doubly true when it is trying so hard to be cool.

Columbia Road Flower Market (photo by me)

Columbia Road Flower Market

This is the best place ever!!! So, I exaggerate but seriously this was such a great way to spend a Sunday. It is a short walk from the Hoxton Overground (yes I am getting much better at using this thing), it is a small strip of a few blocks but it is probably one of my more intense and fun flower market experiences I have had.  I went late, it closes at 3:00 and I went there around 2:00. 

As you walk closer to it you know it because there are streams of people holding bunches of flowers in blue plastic bags.  Then you see it, not the flowers and plants but the mass of people.  The set up is on a street that is very narrow. Two cars would not easily be able to pass each other. On either side of the street are small stands and they are brimming with amazing blooms and plants.  The sellers are either good looking young things that probably don’t know much about what they are selling or they are the true hawkers with a voice that booms and a ready tip of what to do with what you are buying.

The variety on display was fabulous. Native plants, lots of small shrubs and delicate things along with hardy winter enduring plants were piled high.  Each stand had some focus; loose stems, orchids, potted plants but there was variety within each and it felt more like a continuous line of lush living things then some other markets I have been too.

It was also packed with bodies and they were all buying one thing or another.  Whether it was a student or a granny or a couple with kids in tow, everyone was buying flowers and there was the excitement or purchase and the marvel of something newly discovered that made the almost unbearable density of bodies mildly exhilarating.

This buying and body density frenzy was probably due to the must-sell-now slashing of prices but even the starting prices seemed more then fair for what you received.  At the end of my trip I purchased a potted orchid and some pink anthuriums for my lovely host in London.  I don’t have a room of mine own yet, (soon!) and after coming to this market it makes me even more excited about when I do because I can fill it with all of these amazing plants and flowers.