You probably don’t need me to draw your attention to this, but the first vignette from Instagram’s new miniseries Unbound, featuring music from David Bowie’s final album Blackstar, has just been released.
An explanation of the series is here …
… and episode 1 is here …
I’ve not been inworld much this week, having been caught up in a whirl of meetings and gigs in first life. I won’t bore you with details about the meetings, but the music is worth mentioning.
I am in the midst of seeing two bands twice. Many of you might not have heard of Enter Shikari – people try to give them a genre, such as post-hardcore or Electronicore, but this approach doesn’t really work for me. They are a ‘political’ band, citing Rage Against The Machine and Sick of it All as influences – although here, too, a label doesn’t do them justice.
Anyway, they are really great live – and having seem them twice in 2015, I wanted to catch them as they step up from medium-sized rooms to what in the UK we call ‘arenas’, i.e. spaces holding around 10,000 people.
Here’s a clip from the show I attended with my daughter – a huge fan – last weekend.
In case you are wondering – no, I wasn’t taking this video. I was getting bruised ribs right at the front.
I’ll be seeing them again tomorrow in London’s best arena. I say ‘best’ because there are no seats at all, and there is something about standing – and moving – with 9,999 other people that I rather like.
The other band I saw twice is a duo from Columbus, Ohio, called Twenty-One Pilots, playing back-to-back gigs in Bowie’s part of London, Brixton. I have been to a lot of gigs recently, and – having seen them three times now – these are, for me, the best live performers of them all.
Their sense of theatre, with some great masks and costumes, and their movement around the stage – quite an achievement for a duo where one guy is a drummer and the other often plays piano – are brilliant.
Here’s a clip from last night’s gig of them performing Car Radio.
Once again, this isn’t my video. I am – with my daughter, again – in front and to the right.
So what’s all this got to do with Furillen?
When I look back on my gig list from 2016, Radiohead are bound to be on it. Several times. I’m hoping they will headline Glastonbury this year (I have a ticket), and will try to catch them at one or two other festivals on their calendar.
Their album could – will! – drop any moment between now and late May. If we are lucky- who knows? – it will be out in time for our Radiohead weekend at Furillen.
But even if it’s not, keep making those pictures and videos, because it’s one hell of a back catalogue.
Seeing as I’m giving you clips not pictures today, let’s sign off with a link to the full hour of Radiohead’s legendary set from Glastonbury 1997 – and no, alas, I was not there.
May all your Fridays be good ones.
I met Jinx Shipman a few days ago and commented on the great cartoon strips in his Flickr stream. I suggested that he might put a strip together at Furillen.
He did. It’s here. And it’s brilliant.
As you can see, Furillen’s chairs – and your friendly neighbourhood janitor – survived the mindless attack from this little hooligan.
Thanks to Jinx – and I hope he does some more.
by Ziki Questi
A janitor is usually defined as ‘a caretaker or doorkeeper of a building’. In the UK we call them caretakers. Every school used to have one (these days they are ‘site managers’); they lived in grotty houses just inside the school gates, and kept equally grotty dogs or cats. They were marginal figures, hovering on the boundary between the school and the outside world.
In the Harry Potter series, for example, this figure is Argus Filch, with his cat, Mrs Norris. He is quite an unsavoury character. The name says it all: ‘to filch’ is to pilfer or steal something, usually in a casual way.
Filch is not an outsider, but rather a figure who sits awkwardly between the two worlds – a squib, born into a wizarding family but possessing no magical powers.
I called myself the janitor at Furillen as a joke. I am just the guy who looks after the place, cleans up after visitors, fixes things. The designation suited my favourite outfit, the overalls.
Over time, the name has stuck.
The janitor isn’t an artist – nor a curator. It is a role that is difficult to define, but interestingly, it does come up in installations within galleries, as in Palmer C Hayden’s ‘protest painting’ from the 1930s, The Janitor Who Paints …
… as well as in cartoons about galleries …
The janitor also appears as the innocent figure who cleans up a ‘mess’ that turns out to have been ‘art’ …
In much the same vein, I quite like this cartoon, where the janitor is being told that what looks like trash is an artwork called ‘shunned by society’ …
… or this attempt by John Cake and Darren Neave to ridicule Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde-preserved tiger shark, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living – with a lego janitor, scowling and cynical …
In such images the janitor is portrayed as the wise fool, a guy with common sense and unwitting insight. Lacking the education or ‘class’ of the artists or visitors, the janitor plays a role similar to the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes – pointing at this ridiculous figure and puncturing the pomposity of everyone around him by stating the bleeding obvious and calling out ‘he isn’t wearing any clothes!’.
This is not, I hasten to add, how I see my own role at all. I like and enjoy a diverse range of art – and far from pointing out the pretentiousnesses of others, I can be rather pretentious myself.
But it’s interesting that art ‘needs’ such a figure, policing the margin between the ridiculous and the sublime.
And that – quite by accident – we created one at Furillen.