The new Frank Auerbach show at Tate Britain is about work, and the worth of work as a way of living

At Tate Britain this morning, there was a preview of the new Frank Auerbach show.

It takes a while to understand how to look at it.

The guise is that of a retrospective, with paintings and sketches from each decade from 1950s-2000s.

But Auerbach is a curiosity of an artist.

He is known for his painting style, rather than actual paintings.

His friend Lucien Freud created imagery meant to be individually remembered – the audacity, for example, of painting Leigh Bowery naked.

The guise of the retrospective makes you expect to see a string of bangers.

But Auerbach is not that kind of artist.

He paints every single day, seven days a week.

And five evenings of the week too.

His subjects are often the same: certain friends, the view from studio.

This is a show about work and the work itself.

Rather than the celebrity of an artist, or the fame of an image.

Here’s an early self-portrait, from 1958.



But first time I went round and took pictures in my usual way, it didn’t feel right.

Like I wasn’t showing anything.

It was only when I went round a second time, and got to E.O.W’s Reclining Head II that I started concentrating not on image, but on work.

Here’s that painting.


From the side.


When really the way you want to look at it is like this.


And this.


And this.


And this.


Auerbach has to be seen in close-up as much as in totality.

You need to look at the actual work.

The actual brush strokes, the actual collisions and build-ups of paint.

It’s something the Tate seem to have realised – the front of the catalogue is a close-up.

Across the room is Studio with Figure on Bed II from 1966.


But you don’t want to look at it like that.

You want to look at it like this.


And so it continues.

This is Looking Towards Mornington Crescent Station, from 72-74.


And this is it close up.


It’s when you get close up that the work becomes so energising, and inspiring.

Inspiring as in, I need to do more work.

Because work as an activity is good.


This is Primrose Hill, Summer, from 1968.


Close up.


Head of J.Y.M. II, from 1984-5.


Amazing to see the black, the white, and everything else involved up close.


Head of Julia – Profile, 89-90.


Close up.


Reclining Head of Julia, 1996.


Ohmygod that top left corner.


It’s like individual segments act like works in themselves.

William Feaver Seated, 2011.


That patch in the middle.


Top left.


I mean beyond.

Head of William Feaver, 2003.


The eyes.


That splodge of what I guess is the hair.


To The Studios, 1993-4.


Seen like this, you don’t get all that’s happening bottom left, do you?

Here’s bottom left.


J.Y.M. Seated in the Studio VI, from 1988.


That bit bottom left-ish.


The vivacity of his recent work is incredible.

This is Hampstead Road, High Summer, 2010.

It’s like some kid doing graffiti.

Which I mean as the biggest compliment.


Up close.




And another.


Like I said, a total inspiration.

Work, work, work.



The show opens at Tate Britain on 9 October, runs till 13 March 2016, click here etcetcetc.

Go go go.

And look close close close.

Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent: why is he accused of not being a designer? And what is “design” in fashion today?

I was late to the Saint Laurent show in Paris last night.

Traffic was terrible, and the show started super efficiently at 8.15pm.

But one of the advantages of being tall is that there’s no problem standing at the back.

I was able to see that halfway through, creative director Hedi Slimane sent out a great pair of jeans.





(And apologies for the shonkiness of the image, it’s nicked from obvs)

The jeans were cut a little looser on the leg, but still with a low waist.

Many cuts of denim rely on skin-tightness to hold them up.

This new cut of jean from Saint Laurent is the work of actual design.

It’s interesting, because a debate about design is brewing around Saint Laurent.

It is often now said that Saint Laurent is not design.

That Slimane is not a designer, but a stylist, or marketeer.

You hear it so often, and it’s the central thrust of the review by Tim Blanks for Business of Fashion.

It raises the question: what actually is design?

I don’t go to that many womenswear shows.

When I do, or when I look at them online, I so often think: wouldn’t it have been great if, instead of all this decoration and pointless novelty in womenswear, the design team had spent the past six months on the cut and fit of garments?

A sleeve of a sweater that sits just so. The perfect pair of pants.

A great new pair of jeans.

To me, that would be the most radical show.

It’s why I’m so excited to see the upcoming Charles and Ray Eames retrospective at the Barbican.

Enlightened design with clarity, and purpose. Beauty that comes from practicality.

So often with fashion, and womenswear in particular, design means something else entirely.

“Design” frequently stands for the creation of drama, whether it be frou-frou, aggressive, confrontational or allegedly pioneering.

Usually it’s the work of gay male designers imposing on women an irrelevant or offensive view of how they should dress.

One of the best pieces of writing of the season came from Alexandra Jacobs of the New York Times, in her review of the show by J.W. Anderson.

She wrote: “It felt like a “hostile mob,” to borrow the Minecraft term — a boy playing pixelated video games with women’s bodies.”

Such actions are seen as “design”.

Also viewed as valid “design” is the blatant copying of others work.

Many actually see it as a positive when a designer clearly lifts ideas from Margiela, Kawakubo, Yamamoto or whoever it is they’re so clearly referencing.

And then, so much “design” in fashion is making clothes that really have no reason to exist.

Polite tinkering with garments, creating an impression of newness for those at the catwalk show, but really doing nothing of any value.

Stores don’t want to stock work from the catwalk, customers don’t want to buy it. They’d rather have something from the commercial collection.

Of course, Hedi Slimane is perfectly capable of creating “design”.

You just have to look back at his menswear from Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche in the late 90s (everyone forgets his strong links to the house), or at Dior Homme in the early 21st century, to see work of flamboyancy and drama.

His shows were pleasing to critics. It was rapture all round.

It was also work founded in true design.

He made his name with skinny jeans and slender suits which were feats of tailoring. The jeans in particular rode close to the leg, then somehow at the hips and waist went outwards, accommodating true bodies while still seeming slight.

I write this as someone who veers between a 34″ and 36″ waist: his skinny jeans fit over Northamptonshire-born hips.

I’m almost 42, getting broader, and I can still wear my Dior Homme tux.

True pieces of design.

Following Slimane’s break from fashion, and his move to LA, he clearly found reason to turn down the volume on “design”.

It’s why so many find his catwalk shows confounding. After four weeks spent dominated by brands offering unnecessary “design”, it’s a shock to find a catwalk from a major label not playing that game.

Not speaking that old fashion language.

I’m not going to review the show here. From the back of the bleachers I could only see so much, and it’s not my field.

But I do think this debate about design is important.

Particularly because it seems like such a personal attack on Slimane himself.

He’s a designer. Get over it.

Slimane sent out some great jeans. They clearly took work. As did the rest of the collection – you just have to look. Women will want to wear it. And the world still turns.

Prem Sahib is about to open his first institutional show at the ICA. It’s amazing. A preview

Prem Sahib is about to open his first institutional show at the ICA.

It’s called Side On, and is made up of mostly new work.

It’s amazing, dealing with encounters, environments, situations.

Some padded jackets sculptures.

I find them so intimate.


Those are eggs balancing on them.

There are three of them, called Taken By Your Equivocal Stance.

A mingling of figures.

I think it’s Called Out.

They are overlooked by a Watch Queen.


I love how the lighting of the ICA looks like it’s Prem’s work.

Those who have frequented the establishment Chariots Roman Spa in Shoreditch may recognise this area for activity.


It’s all one work, called Looking For One.

Obsessed with the laptop.

And the popcorn is cast in jesmonite.

The window is a work in itself – a light box in the dimensions of the window from a now demolished cottage.


On the walkway are three breathing neons, separate works which are sometimes in pace with each other…

…and sometimes are off.

Upstairs, the entrance to the galleries are darkened, with posters for imagined or real nights lit by cast concrete torches.

BUMP was the name of Prem’s one off party at Southard Reid that informed his last show there a couple of years ago.

END UP is for his next show at Southard Reid, opening in a couple of weeks.

The 10th Floor was an imagined night on Stromboli a couple of years ago, after the super pretentious NY gay party of the same name.


I love how the work upstairs talks with each other.

The chalk trapped under glass is a reference to The Loft.

Apparently they used to throw chalk on the dancefloor there.


One of Prem’s sweat panels.

Those individually applied beads of sweat.


Prem’s forehead print in MAC on a super slim-fit shirt from Zara.

The next room is domesticity. 

A carpet.

And this table.

I think those are casts of Prem’s feet.

Obsessed with this dolphin on a pillow.

It’s called Day Timer.

Like I said, domestic.


So major how he manipulates the ICA space. Such control.

It’s not reduction, it’s specifics of message.

Such intent.

Go go go!

It on from tomorrow, until November, click here etcetc 

The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern: Brilliantly diverse, brilliantly representative of female artists

Tate Modern’s autumn show The World Goes Pop is super good for many reasons, some clear, some unspoken.

It shows what should be obvious: art movements and moments exist beyond the known and celebrated.

Most of the work is unknown, at least not to my eyes. Its curators have been bold in not including any of the obvious.

Unspoken in any of the wall texts is that the show gives natural space to women artists.

I bumped into someone from the Tate who said it was pretty much a 50/50 split.

Much of the best work is by women.

If only all group shows were as natural in their selection.

Here’s some of the works.

Without Rebellion by Jerzy Ryszard ‘Jurry’ Zieliński.

It is from 1970. 

About repression and censorship in Poland.

Accident at the Game by Antonio Dias.

From 1964, the early years of military dictatorship in Brazil.

Office (Ethnography) by Eulália Grau.

Chicks and Cops (Ethnography) by Eulália Grau.

Her work used photomontage to show how during Franco’s dictatorship, capitalism and consumption was meant to be fulfilling and liberating.


Vacuum Cleaner (Ethnography) by Eulália Grau.

The big revelation of the show for me is the work of Marta Minujín.

She is totally new to me.

In Argentina, she is rightly celebrated.

This work is called Mattress.

It’s next to two other amazing works by female artists relating to the body.

Woman Sofa by Nicola L from 1968.


Man Chair by Ruth Francken, from 1971.

Across the gallery, Dorothée Selz was stood in front of her work.


The works are from 1973.

She said it was her in one of the images.

Top right.


“Do I want to be a pin-up,” she said, “or do I reject the image?”

She said she liked the contradiction.

“I have all my clothes on today.”

Next to her work was Hanging by Kiki Kogelnik.

From 1970.


Little TV Woman by Nicola L.

Made in 1969, it was first displayed in the window of jeweller Alfred Van Cleef.

Breathing Out by Ángela García, from 1973.

The Great Vagina by Mari Choardà, 1966, addressing the oppression of women in Spanish society.


A whole room dedicated to Kandarya-Mahadeva by Jana Zelibska, from 1969.

One of the two works I know is Concentration by Equipo Cronica.

I have no idea why I know this work.

But I do.

It is about the possibility of mass crowds solidifying as resistance to Franco’s regime.


The other works I know are three car hoods by Judy Chicago. Judy was there being interviewed in front of one them. 

Here’s the other two.

Flight Hood and Birth Hood.


You get the picture right?

Super rewarding.

Much to discover.

So much that is unknown, the question throughout is both: what is the work, and do I like the work?

Even when the answer to the latter is no, it is always interesting.

One more.

Study for Gates 4 by Chryssa Vardea.

She was one of the first artists to appropriate neon.


The show opens Thursday – click here for more info etcetcetcetc

Facebook and Instagram don’t like our Chapter 10/Anal House Meltdown images, so here they are…

We’re so excited by our next CHAPTER 10 party.

It’s going to be in collaboration with ANAL HOUSE MELTDOWN.

ie the most amazing people in London EVER.

It’s going to be on the Saturday of Frieze – October 17.

At Corsica Studios in Elephant and Castle.

Two rooms, 10pm-6am.

We can’t wait.

And so we’ve made some teasers.

Using imagery created by the collective of Anal House Meltdown.

Eddie Peake

George Henry Longly

Prem Sahib

and their friends.

But oh no!

Facebook doesn’t like them.

Instagram doesn’t like them (well it’s still letting me post a photo of a poster of the butts, but I’m not holding my breath).

So here they are!


Ticket details and stuff soon!




Sharing an Oprah moment with the men of the Honey Soundsystem. Actually it’s more Sally Jesse Raphael

Aah Oprah.

Who doesn’t love an Oprah moment?

Here’s an Oprah moment with Celine.

A 41 minute 41 seconds moment.

Let’s share an Oprah moment with Barbra.

A fifteen minute long moment.

“Is it Princess Diana?”

Aaaah Oprah!

Let’s share an Oprah moment with the men of the Honey Soundsystem!

Jacob Sperber. Jason Kendig. Robert Yang. Josh Cheon.

From San Francisco.


A recent collective mix, with an inevitable pic of them in front of oversized honeycomb.

Aren’t they honeys?

(L-R for your viewing pleasure: Robert Yang aka Bezier; Jacob Sperber aka Jackie House; Josh Cheon; Jason Kendig)

The delectable, covetable men of the Honey Soundsystem are playing at our next Chapter 10 this Sunday.

Chapter 10.

Gay Rave.

Hackney Wick.

The FIRST TIME EVER said men of the Honey Soundsystem have appeared together in London!


And so let us get all Oprah with them.

Well, lets email them a Q&A anyway.


The four men of the Honey Soundsystem were sent the same Q&A in a group email, and asked to respond individually.

And from there things evolved.

We join them at the beginning, as Jason has first crack… (for full authenticity and also because my grammar’s terrible anyway I’ll keep their answers as they typed them)…

“Who in Honey Soundsystem has the best hair, and why?

JK: Currently robert/ bezier because he just went blond and it looks fierce!

Who has the best body hair and why?

JK: i vote josh because other than myself he’s the hairiest and i like the hirsute fellas.

What is your preferred use of an avocado?

JK: in a scramble. and no, that’s not a euphemism.

Describe in great detail your favourite dark entry? [Note for concerned readers: Dark Entries is the name of Josh’s record label for out-of-print or newly recorded synthesiser music] 

 JK: a club? an orifice? or a release? all of the above?

tell us something that makes us jealous of you living in San Francisco

JK: we don’t have to experience winter like you guys in the uk.

what’s the dirtiest thing that’s ever happened to you in a DJ booth?

JK: nothing fit to print. 😉

what’s your Grindr profile? Or if you don’t have one, what would it be?

JK: i’m more of a real world interaction type of guy.

who’s your secret DJ crush?

JK: a 3 way with murat tepali, hunee and steffi. and i’m envious of marcel dettman’s hair.

how many dick pics are on your phone right now?

JK: sadly none as i just replaced my old phone yesterday.

[And on that dick pic bombshell, the questioning of Jason is over.

Next to answer is Josh Cheon…]

Who in Honey Soundsystem has the best hair, and why?

JC: Robert, he just bleached his hair blonde and then this week went full white witch.

Who has the best body hair and why?

JC: Well assuming Robert aslo bleached his pubes, then there is really no contest.

What is your preferred use of an avocado?

JC: I like to cut it in half, remove the pit, and sprinkle some salt, before eating with a spoon.

Describe in great detail your favourite dark entry

JC: When I was a kid I used to turn a table in my kitchen into a secret lair. I hang a blanket over one edge and boom, it was completely dark. I’d also spend a fair amount of time hiding in the pantry waiting to scare any family member I could.

Tell us something that makes us jealous of you living in San Francisco

JC: I can bike to some of the most beautiful coastline in America in less than 20 minutes from my house.

What’s the dirtiest thing that’s ever happened to you in a DJ booth?

JC: The DJ booth at Holy Cow [a club in San Francisco] was notorious for sticky surfaces, slip mats and equipment, not sure what from.

What’s your Grindr profile? Or if you don’t have one, what would it be?

JC: djslutboi202

Who’s your secret DJ crush?

JC: too many to name, my tastes know no bounds, but most recently Jennifer Cardini.

How many dick pics are on your phone right now?

JC: 3

[This causes Jason to chip back in]

JK: 3 dickpics seems modest josh.

[Josh responds]

JC: They are all mine… You can add that if you want. I don’t save others dudes dicks anymore

[Jason replies]

JK: hahaha.

and yes, the dj booth at the holy cow WAS the stickiest ever!

[Robert enters the fray to restore some order. It is his turn to answer the challenging not-really-Oprah Q&A]

RY: I’m going to take a slight departure from ‘The Oprah’ Q&A format, bring the high brow down a notch and put on my Maury Povich hat. Or if you prefer Sally Jessy Raphael.

While they don’t hold a flame to the great all-encompassing lifetime achievements of ‘The Oprah’, they were well loved by America in the mid to late 90s. I feel they would be the most suitable channel for this discussion.

[Oooooh! Sally Jesse Raphael! Let’s watch some Sally Jesse Raphael!]

[OK OK OK back to Robert – GO ROBERT]

Who in Honey Soundsystem has the best hair, and why?

RY: After reading the responses so far I have to say “Oh, you guys!” Firstly, this hair ‘phase’ is quickly fading and I already have my eye on the NEXT BEST TREND. But the one whose hair has persisted and endured the ravages of time (and the stench of weeks old beer spilled lovingly on wooden floors) – I would have to say Jackie House because her hair is OG for real. It’s a natural, platinum blond (I think imported from Scandinavian hair farms – free trade, if she’s lucky). It’s long and luxurious, comes in different styles and paired with matching accessories (optional). AND, contrary to popular belief the curtains do match the drapes – no bleaching required.

Who has the best body hair and why?

RY: I would say it is a tie between Josh and Jason because the hirsute pursuit is real with these two. Before any Honey party opens you can already see outside a parade of admirers lining up for blocks upon blocks just itching to breathe the same air as them.

What is your preferred use of an avocado?  

RY: As a cooling mask because while a babyface don’t crack – it’s nice to maintain that youthful, yet natural, moisturized look.

Describe in great detail your favourite dark entry. 

RY: My favorite dark entry must have been my latest excursions in a blackout trying to count the door cash and not remembering what amounts we were accounting for at all. $10? $100? $1 bills? It’s all a wash!

Tell us something that makes us jealous of you living in San Francisco

RY: Lots of holes – watering holes, swimming holes, fishing holes, cake holes.

What’s the dirtiest thing that’s ever happened to you in a DJ booth?

RY: One time at a “White Party” themed party at Burning Man I peed myself while performing at the decks. But in my defense, I was rolling REALLY HARD and so was everyone around me. I didn’t say a word, and no one noticed – pressing on…

What’s your Grindr profile? Or if you don’t have one, what would it be?

RY: I’ve always imagined I would (and probably should) go extreme twink and only respond when someone calls out ‘boitoy69’

Who’s your secret DJ crush?

RY: Anthony Parasole – I meeean can I get a wüf?!

How many dick pics are on your phone right now? 

RY: As of late I’ve taken a fancy to collecting and screen-grabbing bag pics. Not designer bags mind you with their tacky logo prints distributed ironically all over the thing (some people really have no self-control with such obscene displays of wealth) – but handbags, purses, lady-about-town tote bags, artisanal bags and bags filled with things: kittens, puppies, diamonds and jewelry and, of course, the ever-elusive bags chock full of dicks. Here I’ve enlisted some friends to help me articulate this better: 👜🐱🎒🐣👝💎💊👛🍆🍆🍆✊🍆💦😭😎.

[Now it is the turn of Jacob Sperber…]

Who in Honey Soundsystem has the best hair, and why?

JS: I mean, how about my favorite Honey Soundsystem hairdressers… Shout outs to some all-stars Miss Jay and Sylvie (Population Salon), Alder (at Orange), Joshzilla (People’s Barber), Scott Moore (Mystic), Rudy (Hair of the Gods), that really hot cub that used to work at Glamorama but moved to China or something.

At one point, during our weekly run, you could probably make your appointment for a fade or color treatment at the bar… Probably pay for it in drinks too…

And of course how could we forget Robert’s hairdresser Mr. Anthony – a club legend in his own right who has housed many a drag queen’s daytime career at his Ginger Rubio salon in the Mission. When I first moved to SF I thought he was a drug dealer because he was always in the right place at the right time, always flanked by club royalty and has this 80s Miami vibe meets Hells Angel vibe about him. Nobody ruin it for me, but I am pretty sure he is a top too.

Who has the best body hair and why?

JS: Josh blocked me on Scruff, but I assume he is the hairiest. OMG Roberts response to the question is so yes god.

What is your preferred use of an avocado?

JS: I don’t cook. I am just terrible at it. My boyfriend basically keeps me alive and loves to top meals with his signature “bear cut” avocado halves. Food is his job and he gets access to the DJ Promo equivalent of produce. When he pops open an avocado it’s like someone take a picture and thank Allah on Instagram for mailing over the “fierce test pressing” shit. A++ Will be using in my main room dinner-sets this weekend. Peek time produce! Prefer the A side cause the B side went a bit brown.

Describe in great detail your favourite dark entry

JS: It’s called Blow Buddies. You can check beer at the coat-check after 2am (cut off time here in SF), they give you these lil’ tickets for each beer and you just come back and cash them in whenever you need one. They have what I have dubbed the “cock” coloseum – a 360 – – two story glory hole – where gladiators compete over who can finish off an array of eager spectators (no bending necessary- great for grandpa). Aside from the darkest entries, there is an oldschool “chill out lounge” with a giant barrel of peanuts and this classic Cali-style back patio. The patio is all wood, designed I’m sure by some former Grateful Dead groupie. I have had many a night chilling out there hanging with some of the most psychedelic queers or just sipping a cold one cruising zombies. Find it in your Zagat guide obv.

Tell us something that makes us jealous of you living in San Francisco.

JS: YaMo. Coconut Broth Chicken and Noodle Soup. I’m Dead.

What’s the dirtiest thing that’s ever happened to you in a DJ booth?

JS: Rather then traumatize Robert by telling the preferred anecdote which he might have witnessed (sorry boo) – I will choose my second favorite of which I was an innocent bystander. The booth at this party was high off the ground and basically built atop these large wooden stage pieces. Propped on their side these stage pieces created a large wall on one side but concurrently these 3 walled storage areas on the backend where the dj stood. Needless to say this made for a convenient back room for those in the know… About halfway during my set I looked down into the boxes below and saw this rugged hair ball of a baby-daddy scene. Two studs, amateur porn worthy, one of which I kinda had a crush on. I was dickmatized, taking in my private show unbeknownst to a crowd of 500 dancers, one thin wooden board away from the humping. Record to record I started soundtracking their hook-up. Eventually they realized I was multitasking between mixes and dad let me shake hands with his giant jelly cock. It was quite inspirational.

What’s your Grindr profile? Or if you don’t have one, what would it be?

JS: It was only until recently I started using Grindr. As a self proclaimed bear whisperer it really hasn’t been my scene. Although recently I have had a real taste for chicken. I’ve only hooked once using it though, it’s more for field research. It’s always a nice boost to be checking out a real basic bro and find out he was a gay ’cause he is flagging on Grindr. Keeps me feeling connected to the youth being in there and let’s me know if my gaydar is up to date. Dudes on Scruff always think they’re so sophisticated, it’s a turn off. Grindr is where real nerds and sex offenders hangout, it’s way more edgy… Growlr is the go to – I get a bill for that once a month from Apple.

Who’s your secret DJ crush?

JS: Secret? They all know, bitch can’t keep her mouth shut. I think my current T is Skatebard in the sunhat. I mean if we’re talking fantasies then I wouldn’t mind a weekend in one of those beach huts with Virginia – we can just rub coconut oil on each other’s backs and take turns running into the water to cool down. Oh and something tells me DJ Sneak eats mean butt – you know “House Gangster” style. Oh and Ellen Alien – anything she needs, just kinda wanna be her pool boy.

How many dick pics are on your phone right now?

JS: I was just backing up files and thinking to myself, “conscience or convenience – can’t pick both…” When you die in a freak accident when a LED panel falls on you at Awakenings festival and you’re looking down from EDM heaven at your mom flipping through your hard drives… You will have wished you just deleted those pics even though it was easier to just keep ’em on there…

[Jason chips in]

JK: trying to eat a burrito here and dying. hahaha

[And then Robert]

RY: of course we’re all here just for the set-up. the ultimate yes gawd always goes to jackie.

And so they leave us.


This is what to expect on Sunday at Chapter 10.

Cock Colosseum.

Cake Holes.

Coconut Broth and Noodle Soup.

Bleached Pubes.

Hirsute Queue.


Come party with us!

We’re running 11pm-6am!

At Bloc! 39 Autumn Street! E3 2TT!

Details on the fancy Facebook page are here.

Tickets are here.

Dan Beaumont will also be playing records.

I’ll be pretending to play records.


Oooh lets watch some more Sally Jesse Raphael.

British Royal Watchers Dish About Charles And Diana!!!!

Oooh what’s Oprah going on about?

Julia Roberts Arranges Makeover For Best Friend, Paige!

Ooooh the interview where Oprah’s “really frickin mean” to Toni Braxton!

Where were we?






In this weekend’s FT, I wrote about the AIDS crisis, and the effect on menswear in New York. Some more thoughts on why

In this weekend’s FT, I wrote about the menswear shows in New York.

It was the first time in a while that the city had attempted to stage its own shows, and I tried to account for why menswear was coming from a diminished position.

The piece is, I think, behind a paywall, but here’s a couple of photos.


It was one of those pieces where there was too much to say in 800 words.

I wanted an appendix.

Particularly on the point about AIDS crisis.

I wrote the following: “Personally, I wonder if the city ever recovered from the 1980s, when AIDS claimed the lives of name designers (including Perry Ellis and Willie Smith) and many other creative men in the fashion industry.”

It’s something I also think applied to menswear in London, but since 2005 or so there’s been a process here of altruistic rehabilitation.

Menswear in London has returned to the state it should always have been in.

I don’t think the same has occurred in New York.

The thinking is this: AIDS killed off not just name designers like Perry Ellis, Willie Smith and the now forgotten Bill Robinson.

Untold unknown others died: behind-the-scenes designers, stylists, creative directors, shop assistants, window dressers.


A generation of creativity, decimated.

It also breaks a link, since creativity can not then be passed on.

There is an absence of creativity.

I’m 41, and from the from the first generation of gay men who didn’t have to face the death of friends as a monthly reality.

For most it’s been a case of, that’s over, let’s carry on.

I don’t think there’s ever really been an acknowledgement of the creativity lost, and the effect it’s had on the following decades.

I told this theory to a couple of people, and they looked at me like, just move on.

I find this really interesting. 

In fashion, we’re always encouraged to engage in the past.

I was thinking about the most recent Raf Simons show, and how he used the soundtrack of Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore to stand for the link between generations of subcultures.

It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about the influence of 80s rave culture on fashion.

If it’s a positive and from the past, you can talk about it.

But if its a negative, oh no.

Don’t dwell on it, don’t weigh things down.

And so we can talk about the effect of 80s rave culture, but not the effect of 80s AIDS crisis.

It’s important to acknowledge, not just to remember those lost, but to point to a way forwards.

Later in the FT piece, I wrote about the need for altruistic support of the new.

That word ‘altruistic’ is vital.

Creativity needs to be allowed to flourish, whether the work is immediately understood or not, even if it has no immediate commercial viability.

Altruism doesn’t ask for any payback, or need for immediate results.

It just allows things to happen.

New York has always been good with awards – last week the ten latest nominees for the CFDA awards were announced, of which six were menswear, including David Hart and Gypsy Sport.

Laudable and important.

But what about those that are just out of college? What about this year’s new graduates? 

Altruistic support could help nurture something radical and new.

Something as yet unknown, not following the well trodden paths of tailoring or sportswear.

And restore a broken link to pure creativity.

Something that could then help define a new idea of menswear in New York.

Jenny Holzer has a new show at Hauser & Wirth Somerset. It’s amazing. She was there. I can’t cope. Some words and pix

I’m down at Hauser & Wirth in Bruton, Somerset, for a preview of a new show by Jenny Holzer.

And Jenny Holzer is here.

I can’t even explain how important this is for me. 

The show is of new work, alongside pieces from the past 30 years.

New work like Move.

It is a column of LED held at the ceiling, which moves responding to people in the room.

The text is all redacted US military documents.

The particular spelling, or misspelling kept intact.

Jenny said the proof reading for the misspelling is more difficult than for normal text – she wanted everything to be as it was written.

I just wrote a paragraph about talking with Jenny Holzer.

It was the most extraordinary experience to be with the work with Jenny herself.

It was almost like being in a work by Tino Seghal. She would come and stand by your side, engage in the most extraordinary conversation, and when it was done, she would move on.

I was stood staring at another work, Floor, and she came and stood by me, and we talked about the AIDS crisis and who was lost.

She talked of “unnecessary death”.

Unnecessary death is present throughout the show, in works about conflict, in works about AIDS.

On display from 1994 is Lustmord Table, a table of human bones with engraved silver bands. 

She said it reminded a friend of someone they knew who was dying from AIDS-related illness. It reminded her of her own mother.

Here are some images of Floor.

 It runs for twenty hours.

When we first walked into the room, Jenny said “welcome to the disco”.

Jenny said that every single LED needed to be programmed, including the background images, as well as a new font created.

She said she never used lower case, always upper.

We talked, we finished talking, she moved on.

In the same room as Floor are works where nearly all is redacted apart from the word Waterboard.


This new work is titled “young adult female”.

She stood beside us as we read the text, which hopefully you can make out.

As we walked away, she said something like, it really makes us all safer that she’s incarcerated.

Throughout are carved benches or sarcophagus.

Here is one from Laments from 1989, which begins “The new disease came…”

I hope you can make some of it out.


All around are benches.

This one begins “Blood goes in the tube…”

We sat outside and had lunch.

I managed to hold my fanboy in for as long as I could.
And actually she brought up Helmut Lang first.

They collaborated together for his fragrance launch, and Helmut had Jenny’s works in his New York store.

At the end, she talked about her shyness. 

It is not natural for her to talk about her work.

But why should anyone be expected to explain what they do?

We all dispersed. She went back to check emails.

And I went back to spend as much time as I could with the work.

Can you see what suddenly appeared on Floor?



Go go go see.

If you’re an obsessive like me, give yourself a few hours to spend with the works.

It’s on until 1 November.

To spend time with her here has been a total honour.