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February 2010
 
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Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 10:48 am
Peckham explodes, The Guardian extols, Tama soothes

The New York Times reports the continuing ascent of Peckham as the hub and crucible of London's youngest, most interesting art scene. The racial coding of the reporting is interesting; without saying Peckham is a black area, the Times describes it as the place with "the capital’s highest concentration of knife crime, hairdressers and gospel churches". The young artists and gallerists interviewed in the piece, for their part, call Peckham "a mini-Lagos, with hectic street markets, joyful evangelical churches and burnt-out pubs that once housed witch doctors.”



The new Peckham art scene -- revolving around galleries like Auto Italia South East -- is largely a white one, though, as witnessed by this video featuring one of the artists mentioned in the Times piece, Nazareno Crea:



Perhaps to stay out of the way of knife-wielding ex-witch-doctors, the art kids make bars on the roofs of buildings, like Frank's Cafe and Campari Bar at the Hannah Barry Gallery parking garage:



"Making art outside a market driven system" -- a stated aim of the Peckham crowd, and one which ties them, notionally, to Berlin -- seems to involve making art inside the driving system, or remnants of it; the galleries discussed all seem to use ex-car showrooms and parking garages as art production and presentation spaces. And that's because what you mostly see in Peckham -- apart from trees and ugly housing blocks -- is cars.

Another band these kids are listening to is The Fair Ohs, who are slightly corpulent beardo men making a sort of thrashy blend of early Wire and African Hi-Life. Here's their Hi-Life side in an mp3, and here's a live show that gives you the feel:



Here's their early Wire side:



Let's give the last word on this subject to 26 year-old gallerist Hannah Barry: “Peckham is the land of the free. It’s like a blank canvas.”



Today sees the official British release of my novel The Book of Jokes, and yesterday The Guardian's Books Blog ran a very nice article comparing my novel with joke-oriented books by Lorrie Moore and David Mitchell. I was particularly impressed that the journalist, Stuart Evers, didn't confuse Sebastian and Peter Skeleton, the father and son in the book, as many of the other reviews have (the novel alternates chapters narrated by Sebastian Skeleton with chapters narrated by his son).

It's also great that, since I'm compared to Flann O'Brien in the review, the real contemporary Flann O'Brien -- my Berlin friend, the Irish writer Julian Gough -- pops up in the comments with a mini-review.

There's also a commenter telling the reviewer -- who calls the book "postmodern" -- that "Momus believes postmodernism to be dead". That, at least, puts me on the same page as the Peckham gang. To quote again from that New York Times piece:

“There was a huge agenda in postmodernism, that people today don’t necessarily want to follow,” Mr. Mündner said. “The idea of a big movement or a revolution is gone, but there is definitely something after postmodernism. We just don’t need to find a term for it.”



I'll end today with a soothing film from the 0300 architecture TV site of the Tama Art University, the famous Tokyo art school, and its restful library designed by Toyo Ito and opened in 2007. The only thing I wonder, watching this film, is whether interesting creative work can come out of such a peaceful environment. Would the Tama campus be improved by a few knife-wielding ex-witch-doctors? Not sure.

26CommentReplyFlag

krskrft
krskrft
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 09:32 am (UTC)

What o what will the people of Peckham do when the market comes to them?


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kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 10:52 am (UTC)

Upset The Rhythm put on a festival named Yes Way at Auto Italia a while ago, featuring a lot of art/noise/lo-fi bands mostly from the US, along with art exhibits in the spaces between the sets. Gay Against You headlined on one of the days.

Does this mean that the much vaunted art precincts Hackney and Dalston are played out, and are now only for bourgeois bohemians and yuppies with a taste for Banksy prints?


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 11:06 am (UTC)

Yes i think. I thought Hackney Wick might've been alright but last i looked it'll get Olypified. All my friends have lived in Peckham or are going there this year (coming from 2nd year art student).


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 11:08 am (UTC)

And Peckham links up with New Cross, which has its own scene going on around Goldsmiths, of course.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 10:59 am (UTC)

Why are your books by Momus, but your journalism is by Nick Currie? Do you see these two things as fundamentally different?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)

Actually, a lot of my journalism is by Momus or iMomus. Here on Click Opera I'm iMomus, when I had a column at Wired it was called iMomus. Some publications don't let you be such a grandly monotitular self-creation, though. At the New York Times I was -- am, since I have a new piece coming up there in a couple of days -- Nick Currie. I think they have a longstanding house rule that their articles can't be written by Greek gods!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
Post-cities

Neverthless, I think that major cities like London are missing out on the whole mood of the Noughties and Teenies. Surely a small, insignificant town is the best place to have that quirky, altermodern kookiness.

There’s constant change here but nothing changes. Same stress, same obsessions. Around this time of year the ‘art market’ looks like another cog in the machine – a shindig, a way to raise house prices, a way to ‘whiten’ up an area, good PR for a Tory mayor.


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pulled-up.blogspot.com
pulled-up.blogspot.com
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 12:22 pm (UTC)

"Ms. Barry and her co-director Sven Mündner, 31 — both graduates of Cambridge"
I hate Peckham.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)

But Emma, according to Kineticfactory GAY AGAINST YOU is more or less the house band at these Peckham artyfartyparties!


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pulled-up.blogspot.com
pulled-up.blogspot.com
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)

GvsY is dead, long live GvsY


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC)

I don't care how many Cambridge-educated hipsters are hanging out in Peckham, it's still an ugly windswept shithole.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)

Yes, why is Momus taling about Peckhamites now? Why wasn't he talking about them six months ago, when they didn't all have art galleries? There is some OTHER MOTIVATION going on here.

(Practising my 'Polanksi Challenge'..)


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)

Yes, why is Momus taling about Peckhamites now? Why wasn't he talking about them six months ago, when they didn't all have art galleries?

Actually, I was writing about the Peckham art scene back in 1997, covering openings at the South London Gallery for my Glasgow Herald column Boswell 2001.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 11:51 am (UTC)

Mein Gott. You had a truly horrendous writing style back in 1997. Live & learn, eh?


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)

Momus, you are approximately 27.4 years too old for the Peckham scene, I'm afraid. You're far better off where you are, in the hipster retirement home that is Berlin.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC)


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
Congrats

on the good review! And a link for the Yankees:

http://www.amazon.com/Book-Jokes-Novel-British-Literature/dp/1564785610/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1255614562&sr=8-1

-Robyn


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 02:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Congrats

Yay, my first-ever Amazon customer book review! "A wickedly dark novel from an unhinged mind"! Five stars!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Congrats

Looking forward to reading it. If it's half as funny as "The Animal That Desires" I'll be pretty pleased. I noticed Amazon UK is already out of stock! -Robyn


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Congrats

I noticed Amazon UK is already out of stock!

Yeah, no matter how much you cry "Optimism of the will!" at them, they grumble back "Pessimism of the intellect!" and order two copies.


ReplyThread Parent
thomascott
thomascott
Thomas Scott
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Congrats

More Congrats!


ReplyThread Parent
count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)

To be mentioned first in that review before Lorrie Moore is quite the coup!

(the girl who first turned me on to momus circa 2000 at the Iowa writers workshop was crazy about Moore)







Edited at 2009-10-15 03:15 pm (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC)
the heart of darkness

Let's give the last word on this subject to 26 year-old gallerist Hannah Barry: “Peckham is the land of the free. It’s like a blank canvas.”

right, like american manifest destiny traveling across an "empty" land, and conrad's african maps with "empty space" on them--the unexplored heart of darkness.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC)
Re: the heart of darkness

more or less what I was thinking, let's run those colonialist swine out of SE London and back over the river to Dalston or Shoreditch or where ever the hell they came from


ReplyThread Parent
systemfailure1
systemfailure1
Fri, Mar. 19th, 2010 10:02 am (UTC)
Re: the heart of darkness

Just ordered a copy of your book, my expectations are high :p
p.s Nothing wrong with Dalston my friend!
Dalston Glaziers


ReplyThread Parent
sandroha
sandroha
Sat, Oct. 17th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)

Architecture original.


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