Langlands & Bell’s Turner dog in the pound
Langlands & Bell may have been sent to Afghanistan two years ago, but the work they made there continues to be relevant. One of their films is so topical that it has been withdrawn from the Tate’s Turner Prize show (until 23 December) on the grounds that it could affect the landmark trial of an Afghan warlord currently taking place at the Old Bailey. The artists’ film, entitled “Zardad’s dog”, was shot in October 2002 when they filmed the progress of the trial of the notorious Afghan assassin Abdullah Shah at the Supreme Court in Kabul. Shah was found guilty and executed earlier this year for his appalling acts of violence. Many of these were allegedly carried out on behalf of his employer, Afghan warlord Faryadi Sarwar Zardad, for whom he apparently acted as a “human attack dog”, hence the film’s title. Now Zardad himself is on trial and, because he fled to London in 1996, the trial is taking place here (when he was arrested he was running a pizza parlour in Bexleyheath, South East London). This means that Langlands & Bell’s film, first shown at the Imperial War Museum in 2003, is now sub judice as many of Shah’s activities outlined during his prosecution could have a bearing on the case of his former employer. Langlands & Bell state: “We fully support the laws and the reason for them. It’s not a matter of censorship; it’s a matter of justice and security for the witnesses who are giving evidence”. Nonetheless, they are not prepared to let their film vanish without a trace and therefore visitors to the Tate will see that the withdrawn work has been replaced by a blank screen onto which is projected “Due to the trial of Faryadi Sarwar Zardad currently in progress at the Old Bailey this work has been temporarily removed following legal advice”.
Poo and poles at Frieze
Undoubtedly the most notorious stand at Frieze was Maurizio Cattelan’s Wrong Gallery which continued to live up to its subversive image by hosting a scatological performance work by Japanese artist Noritoshi Hirakawa which involved a young English artist by the name of Kim Simmons sitting every day in the gallery space with a freshly produced fecal offering on the pristine white floor beside her. Every day Ms Simmons produced a new deposit which, thanks to a carefully controlled vegetarian and vitamin-rich diet was completely odourless and proved to be very popular with health conscious collectors who wanted a copy of the diet sheet... The most popular stand at the Frieze opening was Mexico’s kurimanzutto gallery, decked out by Rirkrit Tiravanija with a shiny reflective steel floor, a pole and—at the opening party—a pole dancer. Sadly, Maricruz Vasquez, the original performer from Mexico was refused entry into the UK and detained for two days at Heathrow (immigration officials refused to believe she was here to perform for an art fair) and so, although the gallery, in true Mexican party spirit, provided a London performer for the opening night, for the rest of the fair the pole remained unused as “a memorial” to the absent Ms Vasquez’ skills.
Party pooper Saatchi pulls his bash
Having embarked upon transforming his South Bank Gallery into a sober, white-walled haven for works on canvas, with nary a shark or unmade bed in sight, the ever energetic Charles Saatchi then set about bonding with last month’s Frieze Fair by offering to host a big bash at the Saatchi Gallery in the fair’s honour. However, just two days before the great event Mr Saatchi caused widespread consternation by announcing that he was going to pull the plug on the festivities, because he felt that the guest list did not “reflect the energy of the London art scene.” A Saatchi spokesperson stated: “We cancelled the...party when we discovered galleristas from the Zoo Art Fair and many of the dealers from the Frieze Fair had not been invited. We didn’t offer the party to Frieze organisers for them to invite 250 rich VIPs”. However a source close to the fair whispered in Jetsam’s ear that the volte face could also be due to the fact that Mr Saatchi was not invited to visit the fair a day early for a spot of in-advance shopping.
Turkeys at dawn
Jetsam’s unflattering reference last month to Art & Auction obviously struck a nerve with the magazine’s new owner, Louise T. Blouin McBain, whose response was to dispatch an excellent 17lb turkey from C. Lidgate, “London’s finest purveyors of organic, grass-fed and free range meat, poultry and game”, accompanied by a card inscribed with the legend, “ready for basting” (left). Jetsam is especially grateful to the perpetually humourous journalist Bettina Von Hase, for advising her friend Ms McBain to make this gastronomic response and she resolves to mention all manner of comestibles in her column in future.
Gregor Muir leaves Tate for Hauser & Wirth
The exodus of curators from the Tate seems to show no signs of abating, with Donna De Salvo’s recent departure back across the Atlantic and now Gregor Muir taking up his new post this month as London director of Hauser & Wirth after just two and a half years as the Tate’s Kramlich Curator. Mr Muir states that he is in search of “new horizons”, but it seems that the lure of the commercial sector—and especially a gallery with the flair (and resources) of H&W is a temptation too strong to resist.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Langlands and Bell for law and justice'