Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Like Tom Hanks in The Terminal

I'm at Heathrow airport, getting kicked by a sleeping man taking up the rest of the long bench that I'm sitting on. I have 12 hours in between flights, for some reason, in an all-but -closed airport. I can't yet check my (three heavy) bags so I am forced to wait here in this holding cell - a long corridor with only one television set, which inexplicably faces an escalator that reads NO UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL. I try to watch it at awkward angle, but can't make out anything. The sound is too low to hear clearly, but just loud enough to make reading annoying. Beeping floor-cleaning machines circle around like bumper cars. I have several films loaded onto the laptop but worry that the battery will give up on me, as I can't find an outlet. I'd be willing to pay.

I actually did just pay for an hour of internet access (at a price which would get me a week and a half at home) but it doesn't seem to work. And of course there's no recourse if you can't get online to report the problem. A clever scam.

I turn down the brightness of my screen to gain an extra 30 minutes of battery time and to make my eyes sting more than they already do. I wonder if I'd be able to load up movies onto my camera, allowing me a third battery -powered toy (alongside the ipod and laptop) to entertain me on long flights. So I never have to watch another romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant again.

I've finished the one magazine I was able to buy and expect to spend the next 8 hours staring into space. I've done the calculation, and in the last four days my ratio of hours awake to hours asleep is 6:1. I suppose it will prepare me for Nuit Blanche next week. Michel de Broin arrives from Montreal this week, and Matt Suib from Philadelphia. There's still quite a lot of work to be done. It's going to be a hectic four days, and then I'll sleep like the unemployed bum I'll be.

Barrel burial

The burial of the cask went swimmingly today, by which I mean it overflowed and erupted into a huge fountain, dousing warehouse manager Eric Stephen. Despite there being five photographers there, no one got a picture of this. But other than this slight miscalculation (the barrel used to transport the spirit was a little larger than the one we buried) everything was seamless. The hole was lined with the stones from the riverbed and the barrel was lowered in via forklift, bung-hole up. The barrel from the filling station (with uncut spirit, to help ensure a strong enough level of alcohol in a hundred years) was rolled in and a large pump was used to move the liquid from one to the other. We had a long green garden hose on hand in case it didn't work, and we had to siphon the old-fashioned way. The time capsule was added and the hole was filled with the remaining stones. We also underestimated how many of these we'd need, so Andy and Michael rushed off to the 'beach' to collect more in the truck.

One of the staff who was assisting us was a guy named Denis. He has an incredible accent, and a great way with words ("if someone needed help, ya just mucked in"). I knew that he was retiring this year so I asked him when his last day would be. Turns out it's today. "Oh", I said. "How long have you worked here?" He answered "Fifty years". Fifty fucking years. He asked if he could place one of the stones in the hole, and it felt like he was burying and saying goodbye to the larger part of his life. It was an unexpected poignant moment.

Eric is also leaving at the end of this year, after working for Glenfiddich for forty-five years. He started the year Andy was born. It was Eric's horse that we visited several times (pics on Flickr here) and he was the one who dug the hole for me, after I had returned home the first time. I am hugely indebted to him.

Despite a few local big news stories that day, we had a decent press turnout, all of whom sent photographers. I find doing press and being photographed fairly humiliating, especially with friends around. It's akin to having an objective bystander observe you flirting - it's kinda ugly. Plus I had to endure a series of photographer's requests like "hold up a glass like you're toasting the camera" or "just lean naturally against the barrel". Is it even possible to lean naturally against a barrel?

I really hate to leave Dufftown. It was bad enough leaving three weeks ago, but then I knew I was returning. There's something really calming about northern Scotland, and everyone is so incredibly sweet. Strangers wave to you as they drive by in their car. No one steals yer bike.

Luckily it was too busy a day to get sentimental. Michael Sanzone has an exhibition of the work he created during the residency this November, in NYC. Andy has plans to travel down to see it, and I'm hoping I can make it too. He was really prolific over the summer, and it'll be nice to see all the works together, and great to see them both again.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Today, tomorrow

In between bursts of rain, I am spending the day painting the barrel hopes with a rust-proof paint and loading up stones into the GF truck. And affixing labels to boxes. Tomorrow morning we'll drive the rocks to the warehouse and line the bottom of the hole. The barrel will be lowered in before it is filled, which we'll do from another cask. So we might find ourselves siphoning with a garden hose. The time capsule will be added and the final stones on top. Then I'm rushed off to the airport to make my flight, saying a final sad farewell to Dufftown.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Back in Dufftown

I am overjoyed to be back in Dufftown. Beyond missing everyone and wanting to finalize everything, there's something intangibly amazing about the place. The final exhibition of year opens in an hour, and the editions arrived just in time. I am very pleased with the way they turned out, and very happy to see the coverage in today's paper (which is weekly, so it's the one we'll bury on Monday).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Short piece about my projects for Lola

Back to Dufftown

I leave for Scotland today, in an hour. I realized while packing that I am bringing a large steel cannister, which could quite easily be mistaken for a missile casing to an over-zealous luggage x-ray attendant. I make a note to mention the contents of my case while checking in, at the same time as requesting a vegetarian meal and asking for the emergency exit seat (I like the extra foot room). I decided against the latter, not wanting to double suspicion.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time Capsule

The time capsule to be buried with the whisky (which we now have to call 'spirit') arrived last week. It's almost the size of my leg, which got me thinking about the time when I worked for hard-core evangelical christians and they gave me a birthday present that consisted of a prosthetic leg filled with mars bars. I'm not making this up.

The capsule will contain a dozen 8 x 10 photos of the production of the project (the construction of the barrel, mostly, but also images of the stills, collecting rocks from the river, etc), my notebook, a super8 film of the barrel being produced, some legal paperwork, and a copy of the days local newspaper. In a nice coincidence, the paper will include an article about the burial.

The burial is set for this Monday, during the Spirit of Speyside whisky festival. I will be in town for four days only, and then rushing back to deal with Nuit Blanche.

Diplo, Flying Lotus remix Radiohead

Today iTunes began selling bundled stems of Radiohead's new single Reckoner, inviting others to remix the track and post it on their website. The site already contains remixes by Diplo (at the request of the band) and Flying Lotus, which are available to stream, but not download. Better still, one can listen to all the tracks at once, for a nice cacophonous roar.


Tara Donovan, half a million dollars richer

The MacArthur Fellowship (often called the "genius grant") is an award given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation each year since 1981, to between 20 and 40 citizens or residents of the U.S., of any age and working in any field, who "show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work." The current value of the prize is $500 000, spread out over five years. The prizes are typically awarded to those in the arts and sciences.

Notable artists, filmmakers, composers and critics who have received the award include Gary Hill (1998), Dave Hickey, John Zorn, Kara Walker (all 1997), Cindy Sherman, Allison Anders, Meredith Monk, (1995), David Hammons (1991) and Bill Viola (1989).

The 2008 recipients were announced today and include eight winners from the arts, including musicologist Alex Ross (The Rest is Noise) and sculptor Tara Donovan (whose work is pictured).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Scottish Pavilion, 2009

Todays Herald reports that Martin Boyce will represent Scotland at the 2009 Venice Biennale. It will mark the first time that the country has been represented by a single artist. "Venice is an amazing city, " says Boyce, "because it is literally floating on the water it is a very different place, and I am already beginning to think about how I will work in it. I love the fact that the Scottish show is not one of the buildings in the Giardini, the official home of the Biennale, that it is almost tongue-in-cheek, because it is whatever you want it to be; it could be set in a bar, or a gondola."

The exhibition, jointly organised by Dundee Contemporary Arts, the Scottish Arts Council and the National Galleries of Scotland, will have a budget of a quarter of a million pounds ($480 000 CDN), which will allow a "big and bold" impression.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Yesterday Kelly Mark, Roula and I drove to London, Ontario, for the Lola festival. It's about a three hour trip and along the way we drove through at least a dozen towns I've never heard of, all with bigger populations than Wasilla, Alaska.

The Lola Festival (no relation to the now defunct Toronto arts mag of the same name) started out three years ago mostly as an indie rock fest, but the organizers (Andrew Francis and Paul Walde) have been increasing the number of work by visual artists each year. I had three pieces in the show - Pop Quiz was rear-projected in a few bank towers, the previously mentioned Big Bang FM, and Life and Death, which uses the lightbox of the advertising venue to illuminate a lesser-known Paul is Dead 'clue'. This is from an ongoing body of work which investigates the way fans insert themselves into rock folklore by shaping the mythology, particularly around issues life and death (Paul is Dead, Elvis is Alive, etc.). My billboard was blown down when London got the tail end of the hurricane, but I gather it's back up now.

Kelly Mark debuted a new project called The Band, which uses the marketing machinery of the music industry to promote a fictional rock band. Laurel Woodcock presented a new billboard and neon work, both using rock lyrics as her source material. David Poolman created works based on the tattoos of metal fans and Rich Jacobs created a 'rock family tree' for the Washington hardcore band Minor Threat, which I understand has already caught the attention of singer Ian MacKaye.

Do May Say Think, Polmo Polpo, and Holy Fuck played Saturday, but I had to get back for a Nuit Blanche meeting, given that the event is less than two weeks away now.

The above image is of Life and Death, which shares a lightbox with one of Kelly's many Band photos. Hopefully pics of all the works will be posted to davedyment.com in the next coupla days.

Friday, September 12, 2008

'Nother Quick Update

I've been mostly catching up on Nuit Blanche things since getting back, including some site visits with Michel de Broin, Bruno Billio and Jon Sasaki yesterday. Everything seems to be in order, thanks (entirely) to Miki Stricker and Bill Zeilstra at the city. The behind-the-scenes (and mostly thankless) work they do for this event is incredible. The above picture I took on Wednesday, from the 6 story building we're using to harness Bruno's laser. It was such a beautiful summer day that I just wanted a lawn chair and some lemonade and a nap up there.

The 100 Year Old Whisky is moving along fairly rapidly, in my absence. First of all it has been definitively decided that it cannot be called Scotch unless I am able to prove to the Scottish Whisky Association that there is a historical precedent for burying the cask. The SWA is very big on tradition. I've been hunting online, but it's doubtful I'm going to find the smoking gun, so we're going to have to go with the term "spirit". This was anticipated to a certain extent, and I actually like the word better. Coupled with angel's share and casket, we've got some nice religious death imagery happening here, to accompany the burial.

I always assumed that the tradition of burying the dead was either practical, or based on agriculture (early man recognizing the cause and effect of planting something). It turns out that it likely predates both the need for hygienic disposal of corpses and even the most rudimentary understanding of cultivation. Apparently there is no commonly accepted anthropological explanation for the tradition of interment. Even now, the World Health Organization does not mandate burial (or cremation) as being necessary to prevent diseases (unless the body carried disease before death). **

The wooden caskets for the edition are in production now, the contract approved, the label designed and awaiting production. Photos are being printed to include in the accompanying time-capsule, which has been ordered and is en-route. Last week Eric Stephen, who works in Warehouse 8, dug me this fantastic hole (below). I can't wait to see it in person. When I return I will collect more rocks (this time with a van, no more treacherous treks with a wheelbarrow), quickly install the show and then host the burial the next day. Then say my final sad goodbyes to Glenfiddich and Scotland.

**I always thought I'd want to be cremated (and take up less space) but a few years back I changed my mind, realizing that cemeteries are a nice place for squirrels to play.

"one day, let's be a pair of trees, nobody'll know...."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Deerhoof cover

CASH Music is a project began by Kristin Hersh and L7's Donita Sparks, which aims to provide "a flexible platform through which creative stake holders — artists and audiences — may interact and support one another through community". This often means making songs available for free and then passing around a virtual hat or tip jar (years before Radiohead offered their album with the PWYC model). Listeners are frequently encouraged to take the basic tracks and then remix and repost them.

Recently Deerhoof joined up, and have taken the premise a step further. In advance of their new album (Offend Maggie, out October 7th), they have released the sheet music to the lead-off single, and invite people to cover the song before they've heard it. Record your version and post it here.


I've discovered a great shelf at the boutique bookstore Monkey's Paw called Yestermorrow. I've picked up a couple of books there titled "The Next Hundred Years" - visions of the future from the past. Today on Boing Boing there's a link to an article written at the turn of the century (the recent 'turn') but never published. In it the author examines many of these predictions of the future from the past, rating their accuracy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The ever-evolving channels of distribution

Last month Sonic Youth released a 'greatest hits' CD (well, sort of - the songs are selected by Radiohead, Catherine Keener, Eddie Vedder, The Flaming Lips, etc.) called Hits are for Squares. It is only available at Starbucks. AC/DC's first studio album in 8 years is available next month, but only at Walmart. Christina Aguilera's greatest hits package, out in November, will only be available at Target stores. The Smashing Pumpkins announced today that their next single will debut on November 14th, on Guitar Hero (Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii).

This week also saw the announcement that Michael Moore will be releasing his next film, Slacker Uprising, on the web, as a free download. The film looks to share more in common with his second film, The Big One, than it does his hits Bowling for Columbine, Sicko and Fahrenheit 911 (the top selling documentary of all time). The film cost two million dollars to make, and will be released September 23rd.

Wim Delvoye

Wim Delvoye once jokingly remarked that he worked with pigs because they were easier to tattoo than fish. We saw a couple of his stuffed tattooed pigs thru a closed gallery window in Chelsea yesterday. Not sure if they were part of the next show, or being deinstalled from the previous, but they were no longer in the window when we walked by again later.

Today Artforum reports that Delvoye has sold a more recent tattoo work for $228,000 (CDN), to a collector in Germany. The tattoo is on the back of a 31 year old musician from Zurich, who will share in the proceeds of the work. For this he agrees to be exhibited thrice yearly, and when he dies the collector inherits the tattoo from his back.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Films for the Future

To celebrate their 75th anniversary, the British Film institute is asking the general public (and the requisite celebrities) what film they would like to show to future generations. Most propose classics (Hitchcock, Fritz Land, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola), Pierre Bismuth argues for b-movies, and Ken Loach is on the list as both recommender and recommended. Herzog's Grizzly Man and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing are the more interesting of the recent picks, though, jeez, the latter is nearly 20 years old now.

I remember after seeing Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books at TIAF years ago, I thought it would be the perfect film to send into space, as an example of the achievement of cinema, but I can't say I really enjoyed it (unlike Greenaway's Drowning by Numbers, which I love). Not sure what film I'd chose to preserve for future generations. I'll have to go with Jean-Claude Lauzon's Leolo from 1992, which has most consistently been my favorite film.

You can vote here on the existing selections, or add yer own.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Funding Cuts Town Hall Meeting

I'll won't be able to attend, but those in the city should try to make it to the Fuse Magazine sponsored Town Hall discussion tonight, tackling funding cuts, past, present and future. A fall election seems all but certain, and the polls indicate that the Conservatives/Reform might finally get their majority government.

Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 3, 2008 at 7pm.
The Theatre Centre
Wednesday, September 3 2008
1087 Queen Street West, (South East Corner of Queen and Dovercourt)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I assume by now that everyone interested in contemporary art has www.vvork.com bookmarked (two 'v's, not a 'w'). This week it seems they're kicking off a series of links to artist interviews and they're starting with a couple of my favorites; Claude Closky and Candice Breitz. Closky is still fairly unknown in Canada (I think it was Michah Lexier who suggested I look into his work, years ago) but Breitz will be back in Toronto next year creating a new work, commissioned by the Power Plant. She came and gave an amazing artist lecture at Mercer Union a couple of years ago, after having her flight delayed for three days, being put up in a hotel that was essentially a brothel and not having her luggage arrive until the 4th and last day of her trip (which, remembering, has me worried about my own missing bag).

Here's another interview, that I enjoyed on the plane yesterday, with Martin Creed.

Convention tonight

Tonight Bush will speak to the Republican Convention via satellite, conveniently preventing any warm embraces like the one to the left. Even Laura Bush thinks it's a good idea for McCain to distance himself from her husband.

The campaign, in an effort to redeem itself after the botched handling of Katrina, will pretend this decision is about putting aside politics and putting Americans first. Let's review McCain's concern for hurricane victims:

In 2005, McCain voted against a commission to Examine Government Response to Katrina. Obama and Clinton both voted in favor, but the motion failed 44-54. He voted against another a year later. In 2005 he voted against investigating waste, fraud and abuse in awarding non-bid contracts for the reconstruction after the hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That same year he voted against allowing up to 52 weeks of unemployment benefits to an individual as a result of a major disaster under the Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program and against granting Katrina victims access to Medicaid. He was only the 40th senator to visit New Orleans after the disaster, and only after a newspaper suggested it might be a "political liability" for him not to attend.

In 2005, McCain also warned of excessive Government spending In response to Hurricane Katrina: "We also have to be concerned about future generations of Americans. We're going to end up with the highest deficit, probably, in the history of this country." War spending and tax cuts for the rich, are not a problem, apparently.

And on the morning of the disaster? McCain ate birthday cake with Bush.

Toronto, NYC

I arrived safely back in Toronto last night. Hopefully my luggage follows me here later today. Or at least before I have to leave for New York tomorrow morning. We're going for a very quick trip as Roula is participating in a group show in Chelsea, where she'll show the 100 Variations and a stack of lumber.