18 Dec 2008

 Winter has been stalking for some time and now it's making it's presence felt.

These snaps were taken on a sub-zero afternoon in St.Petersburg. Prize pooches, Laica and Sputnik, protected from the elements by their bespoke space suits, were paraded with obtuse pride to an numbed audience of destitute and homeless. This is the culture of dog couture where conspicuous avarice is a symbol of social pedigree.


   

Reprieve came in the guise of a wee snowman standing defiantly on an island of retreating ice. He gifted a sublime respite from the drudgery of the cold and, for a moment, all was well.

13 Dec 2008

Fuerzabruta


The only place to shoot was at the back of a Portacabin. The front half was being used for costume changes and there were no alternative locations. It was the last night of Fuerzabruta's run at the Edinburgh Festival and my last opportunity to take photographs. On stage the performers danced a catatonic frenzy reminiscent of an entranced congregation at a Santeria party. The dance was the Murga, precursor of the Tango.

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In between shots I took the opportunity to document the Murga on my digital compact- hence the scratchy quality.

11 Dec 2008



 

Some of you may have noticed that the website has changed. After a 4 month trial of the old site a change in tack was needed. The site was inherently impeded by it's dependency on Java script. The advantage of a site programmed in Java is functionality- slideshows, clipboards etc. The major disadvantage is that the images contained within the site are not visible to search engines. To rectify this Kai has reprogrammed the site in HTML. The new site still contains all the previous images and videos (use the search facility to find them). Try this, add the name of the subject you want to view to the end of the url eg. www.gavinevans.com/tricky, this will bring up all of the images of Tricky. One important addition to the new site is this blog. Please link the site wherever possible, thanks.

15 Nov 2008


I've received a request from Admiral Lord Roger Smith. He's archiving the life and crimes of KLF. 'Had I any evidence?' Roger once met Nico in a hotel bar and asked if he could borrow her pen. In a dulcet germane tone she replied 'yes but don't push the nib too hard'. Now he was asking a favour of me, so I started digging. I first met Jimmy Cauty (the musically inclined half of KLF) in the early 80's when we shared a squat in South London in - that’s me holding the flash. The only other stuff I have is a set of images of an ‘action’ I shot after their last gig at the Barbican, 1997. Primed with ladders, paint and rollers we scaled the east face of the South Bank. I took photographs as Jimmy and Bill Drummond daubed '1997 What the Fuck’s Going On' on the side of the hallowed wall.




 
 
 Shortly after, Bill asked if I could take a box of tapes shot at the gig and cut them together. The sublimely quixotic gig was a legendary moment in danger of becoming myth. On the night the MTV live feed didn’t give a sense of the occasion. Piecing together disparate takes, shot live and in rehearsals, had its challenges.I’ve turned on the radio and Bill’s plugging his choral project ‘The 17’. Ok, I’m on it!


17 Oct 2008

 
Standing on the platform at Earl’s Court tube station I’m jarred out of my commuter stupor by the juxtaposition of these campaigns. One (left of frame) is for Oxfam, the other is for a gym. Oxfam asks us to consider the consequences of poverty and starvation whilst the other has the fix for over consumption.

16 Oct 2008

 To orient myself in the art world I need to find the best guides and destinations. Frieze, Zoo and Connections art fairs coincide today. This is an opportunity to check out many of the key players in one go. My mission is to collect the business cards of as many exhibitors as possible and share the info - pause the clip for details. 11.00 Frieze Art Fair, Regents Park, London. On the first leg of the expedition I’m accompanied to the Frieze tent by artist Leila Galloway. It’s like the New Year sales and we’re at the front of the queue. The doors are opened and the throng floods inside, carrying us with it. Under the big top the art sophists and protagonists champion their prodigies. Galleries display their wares with the aplomb of a Rodeo Drive boutique. This is art gastronomy - Michelin style. In the mêlée I come across the cognoscente of art cool - Gavin Brown. It’s been many years since we holidayed with him in New York.
 (holiday pic, Times Square/ W43 St, 1997) 

 At that time his gallery was beginning to make waves in the art scene. In the intervening years he’s turned into an art tsunami. At another display I came across Wim Delvoye’s tattooed pigs. In ‘94 I made a proposal to the BAC featuring tattooed pigs. Before getting out of the starting blocks I was emphatically trumped by the brilliant artist Xu Bing. In "Cultural Animal”, Xu’s subversive and hilarious use of calligraphy and pigs put pay to my idea. In the Argentinean zone I bumped into the ‘unremittingly fabulous’ Patricia Lima and her artist beau Gregory, grandson of circus showman Billy Smart. This was a timely cue to exit the big top. 16.00 Zoo Art Fair, the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Zoo is perceived as a counter point to Frieze but their goals are in essence the same. Here the audience is more youthful, the sales pitch less overt. I can’t help feel that its credentials have been compromised by its relocation from London Zoo to the RA. Inside I’m met by guards in military uniform. This is ‘Action No. 60, durational intervention’ by Reza Aramesh - performance art for sale. More of a convention of stripper-grams than platoon, these soldiers wouldn’t go amiss at a Tyneside hen night. Durational Intervention curtailed and things start to look up. Here the art is more visceral and doesn’t take itself too seriously; Zoo has the convivial air of an arts degree show.

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 18.30 The final leg - Le Book’s ‘Connections’ is the tradeshow for the creative industry. This is where photographers and illustrators agents show portfolios to prospective clients. It is strictly a photographer-free zone: I’ve surreptitiously acquired a pass and I’m posing incognito as an art director. It has been over 17 years without representation. This is an opportunity to meet with some of the best agents and assess the competition. My guide and interpreter for the evening is Ed Webster of 4Creative. Ed is something of a mentor and champion of my work - the geezer’s a diamond. I'm primarily interested in folios - presentation, how many images, what format etc. The portfolios contained anywhere between 30 and 100 images, many were comprised of ‘stories’, each with up to 10 shots. Pixel perfection stifles almost everything here. I need some air, marathon over, I limp home. Conclusion: there's no great mystery, the requisite basics for survival in the art world are agents and galleries.


 Thursday 16th October. I’m in London acclimatising for tomorrow’s art fair marathon. I take time out from checking facilities in the East End and make a trip to Hoxton Square. The White Cube is festooned with explosions of metal and glass. Josiah McElheny’s: Island Universe transforms the space into a celestial foyer befitting a Vegas hotel- portal to the temple of high art. Reminiscent of planetarium projectors, chrome rods trace trajectories to stars and constellations of hand blown glass and electric bulbs: the Big Bang materialised. Who is the Creator; artist, curator?
 ‘Creatures Great and Small’ at the Kinetica Museum reminds me of the time I met Jim Whiting (above). In the 80’s Jim was synonymous with his dislocated androids, his ‘Purvey Legs’ and the automatons in Herbie Hanckock’s music video ‘Rocket’. With Jim’s creations there was always a frisson of pending laceration as pneumatic pistons belched life into metal limbs with terrifying force.
At Kinetica there is no imminent fear of hospitalisation. Here the exhibits vie for my attention like freaks in a cyber sideshow. ‘Creatures Great and Small’ takes a broad swipe at the genre and succeeds in giving the uninitiated an insightful inauguration. Best in Show must go to Tim Lewis for his tour de force ‘Pony’. With an empty trap in tow, Pony tentatively sniffs the air as it tiptoes up to the visitor on satin gloved fingers. The drama of the exhibits resonate with the work of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller at the Fruitmarket Gallery. Their Killing Machine (which tragically committed auto-mechanical suicide one week before the end of the show) would have not gone amiss here.

 
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15 Aug 2008


 It has been months of scanning, editing, grading, retouching, resizing, converting, cataloguing, filing and uploading. At long last the new site is finished. Kai Davenport, a keyboard murdering programming genius has created a system that allows me to be in control of everything. We’ve decided on the familiar format of the computer desktop as the interface - everyone knows how to navigate their computer. Slide shows, clipboards, print sales, downloads and choice of backgrounds set it apart. One mental hurdle to overcome was how to price my prints - to put a value on my work. I’m hoping that I can create an income out of my archive to fund my personal projects. My prints should be as affordable as possible, so I’ve decided to offer a choice of Open, as well as Limited edition prints. What’s the difference? Limited editions are restricted in run sizes, are signed, embossed and come with a certificate of authentication. Open Edition (OE) prints are embossed but aren't signed or restricted in number. The price I’ve set is more generous than any of the competition. At 20” x16” the images are larger than just about every OE print out there, and they are printed on archival photographic paper. 


 Site finished - it’s on to stage 2 - publicity. The Edinburgh Festival is upon us, a captive audience on our doorstep. I’ve designed two leaflets and within 48 hours of emailing the order we we’re in possession of 10,000 A3 flyers. Before we can distribute them they have to be folded- individually! Once done, they were thrust into the hands of every unsuspecting tourist, dropped off at every venue, bar, gallery, newspaper and magazine. This continued for two weeks. Statistics show that this campaign had limited effect. Approximately one in 8 leaflets resulted in a hit on the site. Lessons have been learnt and appropriate changes are underfoot.
In another attempt to gain publicity I’ve asked 3 collaborators to write a catchy line for my press releases. Thanks to Carlos Acosta. Diqui James (Fuerzabruta) and Javier De Frutos.



 

 

6 Aug 2008

The Brand

tora [toh'-rah] feminine noun 1. bullesque In this world of hyper-cyber overload I’m told I need to brand myself if I’m to penetrate. Several summers ago, whilst holidaying in Barcelona, I was amused by the country’s unofficial emblem- the toro. Posturing on top of hills, emblasoned on bumper stickers, key fobs, crockery and t-shirts, it was everywhere. Its colossal cojones and preposterous machismo pricked my sense of humour. A simple case of gender re-alignment would suffice. Emasculation or emancipation? Yes, cows have horns. Viva la tora!

3 Aug 2008

Firsts


It was the summer of ’77. Armed with my Practica SLR I took aim and shot my first photograph- an aqua-marine Honda Superdream basking in the midday sun. Soon after I was frequenting local venues in search of musicians and bands to shoot. The Town Hall, the Polytechnic and the Rock Garden were the places I’d sow my creative seeds. My first portrait was of "the Bard of Salford" John Cooper Clarke, I was 16. 



My first nationally reproduced work was shot at the Hare Krishnas UK head quarters, I was 19. The Bhaktivedanta Manor, a 16th Century a Tudor mansion in its own grounds, was gifted to the sect by George Harrison. Devotees attended to their chores with Stepford Wife serenity. On my first tour of the estate I came across the spiritual master A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Enveloped in a haze of powdered light, the guru was whispering into a Dictaphone. I was introduced to him by my devotee who, averting his gaze, bowed deferentially and swiftly ushered me into another room. In this facsimile of spiritual perfection something was amiss. I returned alone to satisfy my nagging curiosity. 



The quiescent master was not in deep contemplation, his cupped hand was empty - no microphone. His hushed tones were coming from a loud speaker. 




The founder had died some 20 years previously. Here he sat, reincarnated as a transcendental wax work.




Effigies and images of the guru inhabited places he’d frequented - a painting on his chair, a photograph of him in bed on a bed - Juju everywhere! I sent the images in on spec to the British Journal of Photography. To my amazement they ran them in their 1985 Annual.


2 Aug 2008

The Shaman



 

 I was 12 when the Shaman appeared from next door. In his paisley print cravat and Jason King moustache he made me a proposition that would change everything. Following his instructions to the letter we passed into his secret domain, his “darkroom”. Caustic vapours choked the air, igniting my anticipation. Bathed in the sanguine glow of the safe-light he performed his magic. A mist of white light rained onto a pristine sheet of paper. He waved a wand in the path of the rays and with a magician’s sleight of hand, slid the paper into his brew and rocked. In a hushed tone he commanded me to concentrate on the submerged sheet. The paper turned into fog and through the fog emerged a fat suited man in a hard hat - a Ju Ju. Without a second thought I took him up on his invitation to become the sorcerers’ apprentice. Epiphany #1. On my next visit I sat outside the darkroom, waiting for the Shaman to materialise. On a side table lay an album of photographs. I picked it up and idly thumbed through. A carnage of colour fell from the pages. Exotic foliage fused with flesh, Ektachrome blues and emerald greens drowned in pools of crimson. A diamond encrusted dome shimmered like a celestial chandelier. This collection was a memento from his previous incarnation - a police forensics photographer posted in the Caribbean. This was his forbidden book of dark arts. The chandelier was the skull of a car crash victim, studded with a thousand shards of safety glass. He returned these scenes of terror back to the paradise they came from. Ring-flash exposed every detail with the precision of the surgeon’s scalpel. Looking at these images, I was blissfully unaware of their terrible consequence. I saw extraordinary beauty, horror exquisitely abstracted by the photographer’s crop. Epiphany #2: no subject is out of bounds to the photographer. Two years later, looking at Captain Beefheart posed in front of Joshua trees, came a realisation. I’d been following Anton Corbijn’s (http://www.corbijn.co.uk/) travels and now here he was in the Mojave Desert. Epiphany #3: photography could be my passport out.


1 Aug 2008

Epitaph


How to begin, to set the scene - the protocol? I’ll start by way of an epitaph. This is my earliest memory of a photograph. It was taken in 1965 by a talented amateur with a subject eager to perform. That’s my father stood in his ill fitting protective overalls, the grin of the mad professor, goggles poised on his swaddled head. What made this photograph different was its scale. At 12”x16” this was no ‘snap’. To a child a print this size was reserved for significant others: the powerful, famous or the notorious. The composition, the lighting, the drama, the central character, this was a photograph. Yet confusingly, somehow, the subject was my father David. This image, always a signifier of my eccentric, exuberant father, no longer resonates with his madcap joy. The pose is the same but the sentiment is now changed. David was misdiagnosed with lung cancer. He never smoked. A physicist by conviction, agonisingly he couldn’t reason the cause of his condition. His boots, laced with string and frosted with dust, concealed a terrible twist. David died on the 16th January 2007. The Coroner’s report came through, cause of death - mesothelioma.


Holding on - moments left, the last photograph, not the last image.