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ALEX HETHERINGTON Falkirk Voodoo King Kenny 2008
EMBASSY present Warehouse of Horrors an exhibition that brings together the work of 14 artists from a broad range of backgrounds who have different approaches to their practices. The uniting factor in the work is an embedded influence of horror in both a literal and an abstract sense. This project has been developed over a 15 month period, starting with a screening of 5 artists work that took place in October 2008 in a caravan parked outside the Collective Gallery for one night. The screening featured the works of Beagles and Ramsay, Alex Hetherington, Alan Holligan, Juri Ojaver and Catherine Street, most of whom are in the exhibition. Since then I have been working with a group of artists and curators developing this exhibition. The show is in no way conclusive and is not attempting to develop a new critical framework for discussion on the interstitial relationship between art and horror. Instead, it is hoped that it will bring together a diverse group of interesting works that all deal with horror in a broad sense. The project is informed by a personal interest in horror, specifically the cheaper end, and how this low brow cultural form has infected the rarefied world of fine art. For this exhibition the work is installed in an approximation of a set for a low/ no budget horror casting the visitor as protagonist in a loose narrative structure. The gallery is subdivided into separate areas working with the extant architecture of the space and the phenomenological characteristics that it inherits from the collective memory of the warehouse as a site for violence and abjection. This structure has been built in collaboration with several of the artists and the EMBASSY committee. EMBASSY would like to thank all the artists and writers who have worked with us on this project, The Mobile Picture Salon (Ewan and Jo Sinclair), Glasgow Sculpture Studios, everyone at Galerie Guido Baudach Berlin, Ruby Stiler at Studio Breuning and everyone at +44 141 gallery and Studio Warehouse Gallery. Benjamin Fallon 20 / 10 / 09
Just as every age gets the art it deserves, so every epoch gets the monsters it deserves. Horror films and literature are well versed in channeling and allegorising social fears and moral panics. In the early 19th century Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein voiced anxieties regarded the folly of scientific rationalism, and its potentially sacrilegious consequences, while the 1950’s saw an army of freaks, monsters and super humans unleashed by the power of the atom. In 1968 George Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead unleashed the zombie as a particularly potent, monstrous allegory of contemporary dread. As the green grey faces of Romero’s zombie legions lasciviously ripped esophagi out of the bodies of reasonable people, it was clear the multitude of undead just couldn’t be reasoned with. Whatever the cause of or motivation for, their uprising and unceasing appetite for flesh, it was quickly clear that the zombie’s consciousness was numbed and dumb. Rationality had been switched off and the body ruled. Apart from a well aimed shotgun shell to the head or as amusingly showcased in Dawn of the Dead, the imaginative use of a helicopter blade to carry out cranial surgery, zombies were, despite their often comically slow progress, unstoppable; their hunger, their desire, their appetites were endless. Zombies were never satisfied, seemingly because what they ate always left them wanting more. Unsurprisingly numerous critics were driven to note how the zombies, especially in Night of and Dawn of the Dead, functioned, in their nightmarish, ravenous disemboweling of all that was ‘good, wholesome and white in American culture’, as class avatars and allegorical figures of consumer alienation and the ‘numbing effect of popular or mass culture’. As legions of zombies shuffled towards the properties and bodies of decent people, critics were want to describe them ‘in their massed ranks’, as appearing ‘like an awakened proletariat arisen from their historical slumbers - the worst kind of nightmare for the bourgeoisie’. So in the figure of the zombie ‘respectable middle class’ fears about the potential revenge of the working class surfaced. These were combined with anxieties about the impact of mass culture and consumerism upon the very same sleeping proletariat. First generation zombies like Romero’s were then, the spectres of modernity, the massed industrial working class impacted upon by the apparently negative effects of what the critic Theodore Adorno referred to, as the culture industry. If the zombies retained even a tiny vestige of their human consciousness, it would probably have been endlessly playing ‘My Boy Lollipop’ as they chewed on human liver. Zombies functioned as fictional versions of the brain dead morons engaging in anti social behaviour, whose appetite for sex, drugs, alcohol and instant food blighted the good life of decent, responsible, rational people in the suburbs. The kind of alien ‘others’, that, like today’s immigrants, needed, politically, to be driven to places out of sight and out of mind. In America when Romero made the Dead trilogy he probably had in mind the inhabitants of city ‘projects’ such as the black underclass of Chicago. In Britain today we might think of the prison boats or disused army barracks where ‘illegal’ immigrants are ‘housed’ or corralled. The zombie presence was uncomfortable then, precisely because of its materialisation and reminder of these ‘invisibles’.
The critical respectability and political bite (sic) of the early zombie rested then, on this reading of them as subversively staging a political subtext about class exclusion (and possible revenge) and the alienating capacity of consumerism and ‘mass’ culture. That this reading has lost much of its resonances, and become rather lumpen in its application can be seen in Romero’s return to the zombie genre in Land of the Dead (2005). This is a film that suffers from both Dennis Hopper (a kind of Hollywood zombie), and an allegory that like a zombie attacking you with a severed leg, repeatedly batters you about the head until you ‘get it ’ (zombie = underclass). It is also founded on a rather out dated Marxist model of class stratification that is often inadequate in detailing the contours of today’s neo-liberal, consumerist capitalist debt ridden network. Thankfully in the more imaginative re-workings of the genre, there have been several attempts to reanimate the zombie as a ventriloquist for the kind of pathologies bred by today’s consumerist-capitalist–entertainment–network. One clear sign is the way Zombie’s have recently speeded up and become more frenzied. In both 28 Days Later (2002) and the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004), sprinting has replaced stumbling. Rather than existing in a shuffling flesh hungry trance, zombies now appear more like over animated children who’ve scored some pure aspartame. The hyper zombie may be consequence of CGI developments, but as with all capitalist innovations it has alternate effects. The speeded up sprinting zombie functions as a rabid allegory for our times, a shorthand for the impact of an explosion of information. One that bombards and bedazzles our minds and bodies with a seamlessly ever rotating, revolving vista of new pleasures, new experiences, new products, new information. The running zombie of 28 Days Later is then, an hyper allegorical figure for consumers ‘plugged into the entertainment-control circuits of hypermediated consumer culture’ who are ‘too wired to concentrate’, and who are terrorized by the tyranny of the now. If first generation zombies represented fears about the slumbering mass of industrial workers, the new breed are post-Fordist, information society facilitators – the monstrous return of call centre workers from Dartford. Those for whom the hedonistic treadmill of consumerist, nowist society hasn’t led to a better life. As is increasingly becoming clear, with each new report on mental health problems in western societies, these frazzled minds and bodies are not alone, in fact, they are legion. The distracted consumers obsessed by the 24 hr incoherent, gabble and stonk of TV, texting, the feverish, perpetually surfing, gadget addled, virally corrupted sky box watching, i-pod, i-phone i-me me me me obsessed, sunlight avoiding creatures, are more likely to suffer from chronic depression and anxiety disorders, than feelings of well being and fulfillment. Gratification is, after all the one thing that consumerism is structurally forbidden to deliver – a satisfied customer would be a customer with no appetite for further purchases. Or in zombie parlance, no hunger for more flesh. Now while I like the fact Zombies have, in evolutionary terms, accelerated, I think it’s the wrong allegory for our times. Sure it works quite well as expressing this kind of artificially stimulated pathology, where the need for speed leaves people on the brink of spontaneously exploding, from the pressure and anxiety of having to be up to date and continually evolving (constant reevaluation of the life project). Where the continual commodification of the self as a brand to be marketed within the culture of social networking, must be carried out with a rapidly receding safety net (deregulation reversing the idea of society or communities caring for those who fail – failure is now personal – it’s your fault). But even the feverish zombie misses the mark. Partly this is due to the demands of producing entertaining action based spectacle. But it’s also a problem about identifying the right consumerist pathologies.
It seems to me a better allegorical role for the zombie would be that it just sits, is inactive. What I’m thinking of is a blasé zombie, touched with a hint of the melancholic. The blasé zombie is a zombie who is incapacitated. This isn’t about an inability to make a choice, like the strung out consumer who’s overwhelmed with forty different types of cheese and shuts down. No, this is more about disentanglement from being attached to anything specific. So it’s not a case of the Zombie who can’t determine between the living dead and living, whose capacity for exercising the only job of zombie differentiation, the basic evaluation between cold brains and warm hearts has been rendered incapacitated. It’s worse than that; it’s a zombie who can’t even be bothered to attempt this basic act of differentiation. Various writers have recently referenced similar pathological states of impotency and passivity. The blogger K-punk, writing about the generation of teenagers he works with, refers to them as suffering from ‘reflexive impotence’ (they know things are bad, but more than that, they know they cant do anything about it), while the philosopher Simon Critchley has used the term ‘passive nihilism’. In a similar vein, the octogenarian writer Zygmunt Bauman writes about the impact of our techno-infotainment culture of information saturation in his book Consuming Life. After referencing the fact that the last thirty years has seen more ‘information’ produced than the previous 5,000 years of humanity, Bauman notes the consequences of being exposed to this constant rolling news culture of ‘knowledge bites’: “We may say that the line separating the meaningful message, the ostensible object of communication from background noise, its acknowledged adversary and most noxious obstacle, has all but been washed away’. In Bauman’s conception the ‘cascades of de-contextualized signs more or less randomly connected to each other’ are increasingly putting us in the position where the capacity to deal with the weight, variety and volume of information is at breaking point. As he notes ‘the task of filtering is increasingly outgrowing the capacity of our filters’. The amount of information being distributed at high speed makes it increasingly difficult to create narratives and developmental sequences. The effect of this Niagara of information babble can, according to Bauman, be described as a kind blasé attitude to knowledge, work or even lifestyle. In using the term blasé Bauman is deliberately referencing the German sociologist Georg Simmel‘s use of the term when describing the forms of alienation produced by modernist culture. For Simmel the incapacitating effects were primarily the consequences of a money-orientated culture: ‘the essence of the blasé attitude consists in the blurring of discrimination. This does not mean that the objects are not perceived, as is the case with the half wit, but rather that the meaning and differing values of things, and thereby the things themselves, are experienced as insubstantial. They appear to the blasé person in an evenly flat and grey tone; no one object deserves preference over any other. All things float with equal specific gravity in the constantly moving stream of money’. Bauman updates Simmel’s idea; this time the half light perception of everything in a ‘evenly flat and grey tone’ owes less to the explicit operations of money, and more to the omnipotence of, and our exposure to, a saturated market of information, pleasures and spectacles in our social network (network having replaced society or community). For Bauman the kind of effect this exposure has is also akin to a melancholic state. Drawing on the work of the sociologist Rolland Munro, Bauman outlines how the melancholic state, stands for disentanglement from being attached to anything specific. To be melancholic is to ‘sense the infinity of connections, but be hooked up to nothing’. In short melancholy refers to a form without content, a refusal from knowing just this or just that’. For
Bauman this contemporary reading of the idea of blasé, stands in for a generic description of the affliction of the contemporary consumer within society. Don’t Stop you’ll never get enough Michael Jackson’s death prompted many reactions. Hypocritical celebrations (god bless the pederast) and the kind of multi channel over saturation of infotainment Bauman describes. For my act of reverence I watched the making of Thriller documentary. Apart from the pleasures of seeing Rick Baker explain his art, it also features brief glimpses of the dancers from Thriller, in full zombie uniforms backstage. Memory had convinced me that there was a particular shot of a zombie sat in the canteen, looking bored and staring at a can of coke and a KFC chicken leg. I was wrong; it turned out the zombie was smiling while eating the chicken leg. Not what I wanted, but it set me off writing this, so for once faulty cerebral channels were useful. So, with this fabricated image of a Jackson zombie listlessly staring at a can of coke and a KFC in mind, I propose the making of ‘Blasé Zombie’. What I envisage is a zombie movie filled with a cast of distracted, ennui consumed zombies, whose ‘look’ will be familiar to those devotees of numerous, rather indulgent French art house movies. Nobody eats anyone and nobody bothers to grunt or moan (there’s no soundtrack music either, just the occasional pavolvian sounds from mobiles, computers, ineffectually calling to arms the now gadget bored inhabitants). The action consists mainly of a great deal of passive, listless inactivity and portentous distracted looks between slumped zombies, locked inside nondescript interiors (‘decorated’ with Ikea furniture), filled with silver gadgets and lcd TV’s (none of which are on). Watching ‘Blasé Zombie should ‘hopefully’ generate the same levels of psychological pain and suffering that physically would be experienced from having gaping mouths gnawing at your own scarlet flesh.
ALAN HOLLIGAN Mother, my mother she isn’t quite herself today 2008
The most merciful thing in the world is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. i H.P. Lovecraft All the things that I know but which I am not at this moment thinking, 1:36pm, June 15th 1969 Robert Barry What character do we attribute these things that lie outwith our capacity to cognise? The germ of horror lies in a desire to materially manifest this blindspot in our ability to cognitively understand, the generation of forms to account for our worst fears. What however is the role that these manifested objects play in relation to that unknown? Edmund Burke describes horror as a component of his philosophical distinction of the sublime in Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, in which our fear of powerful forces of nature become a device with which we can empirically apprehend the sublime. That which is considered to be beautiful (the artwork among them) belongs to a different order of objects, benign by comparison. A further distinction posited by Immanuel Kant is that these sensations do not constitute sublime feelings but instead make us actively aware of this inability to comprehend the sublime.ii The development of such concepts into what we recognise as the cultural phenomenon of horror however was largely due the contemporaneous emergence of a literary genre dealing with fictional manifestations of the supernatural: the gothic novel. Key motifs, characters and locations, introduced by authors such as Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, and Mary Shelley would eventually solidify into a number of conventions from which our current understanding is derived. The employment of conventions such as the ghost, the vampire, the castle, and the graveyard by modern horror fiction, several distinct generations of horror movies, and sub-cultural music genres such as horror punk has now reached a level of saturated ubiquity. Despite this, it is arguable that the increased orthodoxy of these conventions contributes to an equal diminishment of any one authorial precedent controlling their presentation. With each re-employment these motifs take on a greater mutability as elements within our collective imagination, their uses becoming less prescriptive. In setting itself the task of producing rather than describing the condition of fear, an unthinking state in which rational thought is suspended, it is important to note horror as a cultural phenomenon distances itself from the enquiries of Burke and Kant. It is this embodiment of the anti-intellectual that has led to horror’s characterisation as puerile, sensationalist and its consignment to the periphery of mainstream culture. In analysing whether contemporary visual art’s use of horror favours either its role as a philosophical category through which we can apprehend the sublime, or a transgressive yet widespread mode of cultural production, a strong tendency towards the latter is immediately apparent. Artworks referencing horror revel in the conventionality that access to this wellspring of pre-fabricated romantic motifs provides. To what extent though can the artwork embody any of the conditions of horror as established by other disciplines? Visual art can neither replicate literature’s narrative facility, the immersive qualities of cinema, nor even music’s effortless subordination of content to style. Furthermore the recurring pre-occupation with its own critical self-definition that has marked visual art for well over a century runs contrary to horrors own natural resistance to critical qualification. Even the most shocking of imagery is deadened by the selfcriticality of this presentation, the result ultimately framing aesthetic limits as much as eliciting a visceral response. As such artwork dealing with horror always has somewhat the appearance of a remaindered prop, the impression of a trick exposed. Given these conditions it would seem art is more eminently suited to another task: the negotiation of the edge along which the romantic outpourings of horror as a cultural phenomenon and the cerebral testing of our cognisant limitations intersect. For Robert Smithson an artist’s adoption of the “low budget mysticism”iii of horror movies formed part of a wider democratization of sources that characterised the most ambitious art practices of his time. This tactic of reflecting on other methods of cultural production was a means of evading an increasingly trenchant formalist discourse, epitomised by the concept of an artwork’s presentnessiv. In this scheme horror contains
the romantic appeal of the inaesthetic object. This inaesthetic object is not to be mistaken as transcending aesthetic considerations but rather is dialectically opposed to an order of benign, aesthetically pleasing objects. Smithson realised that to counter the benign other concepts of time in which the artwork could operate needed to be introduced. The most practical method was to cull these from less reputable sources. PAINTING IS DEAD… Death can be refreshing so I started engaging in necrophilia… approaching history in the same way Dr Frankenstein approached body partsv Steven Parrino The concept of the undead allowed Parrino to redefine his position to the perceived death of painting, permitting its continuation in theatricalised undeath. In his trademark works the abstract painting is presented as an abject ruin, its support shattered, its surface lacerated. What is crucial to note is that Parrino’s subjection of his canvases to these macabre distortions is in opposition to a preceding theme of hermetic self-definition. We encounter one of these zombie-like creations as a remnant of a violent act, after the point of trauma. A negative inscription onto a pure surface. Can we use this observation, our perpetual arrival following the act, to establish a temporal reading of horrors relation to the artwork? Devendra Varma makes the distinction between between terror and horror as what separates the “awful apprehension” and the “sickening realisation”vi respectively. Through this we can separate the two into that which precedes, terror, and that which follows, horror. Horror in Varma’s sense is a malignant dread that follows the unveiling of the act in all its grisly details. We could liken our interaction with the artwork using the same logic of exposure, that of “stumbling against a corpse.”vii The object that remains, spread all over the room, is only negatively demonstrable of any unknown that might lie behind it. The lights are out.
i Lovecraft, H.P: ‘The Call of Cthulu’ Necronomicon, the Best Weird Tales of H.P Lovecraft, p.201 ________ ii “We cannot determine this idea of the suprasensible any further and cannot cognize but only think nature as an exhibition of it.” Critique of Judgement p.128 _________ iii ‘Entropy and the New Monuments’ The Writings of Robert Smithson p.14 __________ iv The presentness of the modernist painting was discussed in Michael Fried’s essay ‘Art and Objecthood’ which railed against the durational aspects of minimalist art. Smithson’s response was published in ‘Letter to the Editor, Artforum October 1967’ and focuses on what he viewed as Fried flawed conception of an artworks temporal qualities: “Nondurational labyrinths of time are infecting his brain with eternity.” The Writings of Robert Smithson p.38 __________ v Steven Parrino: The No Texts, p.43 __________ vi Varma, Devendra: The Gothic Flame p.130 __________ vii ibid
NEIL CLEMENTS Forced Comparative, 2009
LYNDSAY MANN Scissors, from Paper Rock Scissors 2004
CATHERINE STREET untitled 2008
MARC BIJL Statement (I’m too sad to kill you) 2001
BEAGLES AND RAMSAY Pudding 2008
Norman James Hogg
My name is Andrei Negura. I was born in the hamlet of Mingir in the Hincesti region of central Moldova. I arrived in this country in August of 2008 on a scholarship to study ancient philosophy. Within the first month of my stay I sold my index finger to a witch for more money than I could earn back home in a lifetime. This macabre transaction was the catalyst for a terrifying sequence of events culminating in the appalling circumstances I currently endure. It is 6:30 am on a bitter December morning. Outside in the street a legion of dog-headed villagers are hurling debris at the windows of my lodgings. They are crapping on the lawn and posting vile communications through the letterbox. Judging by what I have witnessed over the past twenty-four hours I believe I may be the last human left alive in Bridgend. I have no Internet connection, the TV is analogue and the phones are dead. The cat and I are sharing a pouch of Sheba. ______________________________________ I was taking a walk along the canal on a Sunday afternoon reflecting upon an intense week of introductory lectures and social events when my reverie was abruptly broken by a vociferous stream of curses accompanied by the highpitched squeal of a furiously revving motor. I followed the noise to its source, round the corner and under the bridge. There I discovered a portly old woman in a mobility scooter. Her vehicle had apparently lost control and was now rocking dangerously on the precipice of the canal. Leaping to her aid I dragged her back onto the towpath and returned the shopping that had spilled from her basket. She thanked me and invited me to tea at her son’s house in the neighbouring village. I had nothing better to do and generally enjoy meeting new people so I accepted. At her suggestion I mounted the rear of her cart and we set off. Along the way we chatted and she became very animated when I mentioned my studies. Apparently her son fancies himself as an alchemist of sorts and spends a lot of time poring over obscure philosophical texts. He would be very keen to meet me. She further implied that our serendipitous encounter would prove to be enormously beneficial for both parties. I admit that at this point I felt a slight chill down my spine. She brought me to a small, cosy-looking home on a street of identical houses and her son (Robert?) greeted us at the door. He was pasty, bald and had a large misshapen head that looked like a potato. His expression remained blank as we were introduced but his deep-set eyes twinkled with malicious humour. He thanked me for helping the ‘crazy old bitch’ and I was ushered inside. From that point on I recollect nothing other than intense emotion, a feeling of great warmth and belonging as if I had returned home to the bosom of my family after a long absence. And, although this may be a consequence of hindsight, I remember that there was the distinct aroma of dog. The next thing I recall I was standing outside on the porch grinning into the darkness. I felt elated and slightly tipsy. My right index finger was missing and in my left hand I held a check for a ridiculous sum of money.
The stump healed impossibly fast and there was no pain whatsoever. For the sake of appearances I took a few days off university and wore a bandage for a week or so upon my return. My injury (related as an accident at the warehouse where I work two nights a week) drew a great deal of sympathy and proved to be a fantastic icebreaker at parties. This, combined with the fact that I was now tremendously wealthy, fast-tracked my popularity. Never have I enjoyed such a rich and varied social life. I received a first for my term paper and was nominated class representative. In short, everything was rosy. I vowed, then, never to leave Scotland. But then the cat brought in something truly outrageous. I heard her low growl while using the bathroom. I hopped to unlock the door while pulling up my jeans and stepped into the hallway. When I saw what she had in her mouth I passed gas and fell heavily against the coat rack. The resulting clatter caused her to bolt and let go of what at first I had taken to be a long length of intestine. Yet it seemed alive. While one end of the pinky-grey tube was caught in the door to the landing, the rest was twitching spasmodically and spraying a dark fluid along the skirting board. As I lay there paralysed and gaping, the cat resumed her attack. I shooed her, stood up and backed off. Sounds from without drew my eye to the door. There was something moving on the other side. I started forward then paused. Opening the door would release the foul limb that was for the moment trapped. I went to the kitchen and returned with some makeshift weaponry. I deftly trod on the end of the thing, immobilising it and then, using a rolling pin, hammered a kitchen knife firmly through its middle. It squelched and spewed some tepid gunk up my arm but made no other sign of protest. Armed with a broom handle I stepped through to the landing. The fleshy tube continued in slack loops across the carpet. It was slightly thicker now with obvious muscle groups flexing lazily beneath the greasy dermis. I jumped as it suddenly stretched taut across the full length of the hallway, the far end pulled flatly around the corner of the communal stairwell. As I sidled past with my back to the wall I observed with disgust, coarse blond hair sprouting erratically from its pallid surface. Even more disturbing were the small brown freckles, increasing in frequency, towards the terminal end. I reached the stairs, glanced down and there, lodged in the cat flap, was the possessor of the nauseating appendage. I can hardly bear to describe what followed. The body was bulbous, shiny and slate grey. It shimmered and wobbled like a colossal balloon full of water. As I stood there it gradually oozed from the flap and flopped back and forth on the tiles. Crouching low, holding the broom handle at arms length, I approached. I got within an inch of giving the damned thing an exploratory prod when, without warning, it ruptured explosively.
I was partially blinded by a wave of hot, sticky gore. Wiping my eyes unveiled haemorrhaging clumps of steaming tissue, coating the walls from floor to ceiling. Though convulsed with horror, part of my mind still performed a gruesome itinerary; clumps of hair, irregular rows of teeth, numerous malformed eyes, a finger, a nose and a still flapping tongue were all recognisable amongst the tumorous remains. For the most part the organs were obviously canine. The finger, however, was undoubtedly human. I worked through the night to mop, scrape and bury the monstrous leftovers. At dawn I got in the bath, drank a bottle of Vodka, vomited, fell asleep and nearly drowned. I was reminded of my father at home and enjoyed a blessed interstice of calm. It took some time to recover from that episode. I missed lectures for a month. When I did turn up I was usually inebriated and randomly handing out bundles of cash. When sober my mind fixated on the witch (what else could she be?) and her son. What had they sent me that day? Was it a sick joke, a deranged gift or maybe a warning? The recurring thought most repugnant to my unravelled mind was the recognition that somehow I had disposed of my own flesh. A few more weeks passed without event and I began to feel a little saner. I re-sat some exams and even managed to excuse my bizarre behaviour to tutors and friends. I reigned in my expenditure, drank with moderation and stayed clear of old women. I was coasting along nicely again, until yesterday, when the dogheads attacked. It should have been a joyous day. I had noticed posters in my local pub advertising a jousting tournament being held in a neighbouring town as part of Homecoming Scotland. The Society for Creative Anachronisms would be performing and, having attended meetings at university earlier in the year, I was asked to help with the food service. Lodging locally, I got there early to assist in preparing the catering stands. It felt good to be involved. The event started well. I had a great view from my burger hut on the north range. The sun was shining and the palace grounds were heaving with tourists eager to enjoy the ensuing spectacle. A slight breeze ruffled the heraldic flags surrounding the jousting grounds as King James introduced the rival feudal clans who would do battle that day. The crowds cheered at the thundering of hooves and resounding splinter of balsawood against steel. Children with plastic swords performed their own duels and faked numerous elaborate death sequences. At a lull in the proceedings a hungry and impatient queue formed in front of me. Having developed a strong phobia, I found myself compelled to lift each raw patty to the sunlight and carefully check for anomalies. It was just after such an inspection that I noticed a familiar grey-haired figure staring at me from the reed-beds by the loch. Behind her a large pack of dogs sat patiently in the water, only their heads showing above the surface. I motioned to point but, due to my missing digit, succeeded only in raising a fist. Then, as if at my unintentional salute, all hell broke loose. The first wave of dogs burst from the water. They scrambled through the foaming shallows and leapt to the bank. As they rose to full height a terrifying deformity was rudely unveiled. Their snarling countenances were carried upon the torsos of men! Startlingly naked and with a blade in each hand they tore into the now screaming masses. Jaws locked upon throats and knifes plunged indiscriminately into the defenceless flesh of man, woman and child. Blood began to arc through the air and startled horses trampled over the fleeing spectators. A troupe
of knights, led by the King attempted to make a break towards the eastern gates only to be borne down and savaged by a second wave of dog-heads emerging from the old moat. A third wave made straight for the armoury display to hastily procure crossbows and dispatch individuals who had escaped the blind chaos at the centre. Yet another group of attackers carrying petrol canisters mounted horses and began setting the brightly coloured tents alight. A serving wench, her smock aflame, ran shrieking from the mead tent, scissor jumped from the jetty and smacked heavily across the foredeck of a sailboat. A furry head rose from the loch and dragged her under. Horses galloped up the slope towards me. I dived through the serving hatch as a flaming torch burst through the door. Under cover of smoke I scrambled towards the throatless corpse of a squire. I pulled the most substantial looking Claymore from his leather scabbards and tumbled behind a dying mare. As I lay huddled on the scorched earth a suspicion of complicity nagged at my guts. Furious at my entrapment I hurtled into the fray, intent upon slaying a few of the abominable hounds before attempting escape. I swung my sword furiously at the first I encountered and his bloodstained noggin vectored away from his still running body. I decapitated two more before the futility of my actions hit home. I watched spellbound as my first victim plunged his fist into his neck cavity and began tugging at something inside. I recognised the bloated grey sac from my cat-flap as soon as it popped into position upon the shoulders of its host. Instantaneously it began to morph, sprout hair and coagulate into the head of a Labrador. I glanced behind me to see the others rebirthing themselves in the same hideous manner. Acting on instinct I dived at their naked midriffs, tackled them to the ground and pulverised their still soft cranial pods under the soles of my walking boots. These two stayed down. I had found a method of permanent dispatch. I spun round in search of allies to whom I could communicate my discovery. There were none. All had been slain and my foes had swiftly departed. I was left alone with the stench of smoke and butchery saturating my nostrils. My ears burned with the echo of distant barking and the murmurs and screams of the dying. I dragged myself wearily back up the slope to the car park, slipping occasionally in pools of clotting blood. I pulled a corpse free of a mountain bike and wiped iridescent matter off the handlebars. As I cycled home along the canal I passed numerous isolated scenes of violent slaughter. A melancholic howling wafted across the valleys of Midlothian as I bunny-hopped through the cooling rejectamenta of this apparently consummate massacre. Reaching my house I fell exhausted upon the floor of the living room. ______________________________________ All has gone quiet and I lift myself to the window. She is parked on the lawn. Dogheads lay supine all around her, chewing quietly on choice sections of carcass. I hoist open the window and scream torrents of abuse in my native tongue. Lifting a hand to placate me, she replies calmly in perfectly accented Romanian. My family have come to visit. She gestures towards the large tarpaulin bundle writhing by the side of her scooter… Fictionalised by Norman James Hogg. Taken from the diary of the late Andrei Negura. October 2009
AIDA RUILOVA Oh No 2008
EMMA PRATT My Dead Cat Keeps Telling Me To Do Things I Shouldn’t 2008
JONATHAN OWEN untitled 2009
PAUL MCCARTHY AND MIKE KELLEY Heidi 1991
OLAF BREUNING Bully 1999
CHRIS WALKER Dolphin Head 2008
This catalogue is printed in an edition of 500 to coincide with the exhibition EMBASSY presents
curated by Benjamin Fallon 1.11.09 - 15.11.09 +44 141 Gallery SWG3 100 Eastvale Pl, Glasgow, G3 8QG www.swg3.tv A presentation by the EMBASSY gallery EMBASSY the Roxy arthouse 2 Roxburgh Pl, Edinburgh, EH8 9SU www.embassygallery.org the EMBASSY is: Angela Beck Benjamin Fallon Horman Hogg Shona Macnaughton Francesca Nobilucci all images are copyright of the artists Marc Bijl appears courtesy the APT, Berlin Olaf Breuning appears courtesy Metro Pictures, NY Neil Clements and Jonathan Owen appear courtesy of Doggerfisher, Edinburgh Aida Ruilova appears courtesy Guido Baudach, Berlin and Salon 94, NY Project supported by
the Embassy Gallery LTD is registered in Scotland Company Number: 259872 Charity Number: SC035780
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