News from London: The importance of s**t and sp**k, urine, and sex

Meanwhile, Grayson Perry displays his (disco) balls


Word of G&G overrules word of God

The after-show dinner for the Gilbert & George “Major Exhibition” at Tate Modern (until 7 May), held in the august surroundings of Christ Church Spitalfields, the imposing Hawksmoor-designed church close by G&G’s home in Fournier Street, was not without its controversial moments. Here White Cube majordomo Jay Jopling revealed to the 300-strong crowd—which included Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood and Jason Donovan (the latter the subject of a G&G postcard sculpture which the pop star revealed he has never actually seen)—that the first work he had ever bought was the duo’s Living Sculpture book Dark Shadow for a mere £16. Jopling then bemoaned the lack of “rude words” in his speech, before handing over to Nicholas Serota, expressing the hope that he could rectify the situation. The Tate supremo duly obliged, praising the way that Gilbert & George helped us to understand the world, by their use of, amongst other things, Shit and Spunk. Coming from the normally restrained lips of Sir Nick these effluvial words caused a distinct frisson, but there was a sigh of relief from a nearby White Cuber, who confided to Jetsam that Serota’s choice of expletives did not apparently contravene the no-blasphemy clause that the gallery had signed with the Church authorities for permission to hold their party on the premises.

Keeping it (un)real at Tate

So convincing is Mark Wallinger’s meticulous recreation of peace protester Brian Haw’s Parliament Square anti-war protest at Tate Britain (until 27 August) that Mr Haw has apparently been making a habit of wandering down from Whitehall to the museum’s Duveen Galleries to add a few extra elements and make a few stylistic tweaks. Frantic Tate curators have had to enlist the diplomatic skills of Mark Wallinger in order to gently remind Haw that this is a work of art and not his property on display.

Chapman brothers are not piss artists

Admiration of the elegant verdigris patina on Jake and Dinos Chapmans’ new series of bronzes at Tate Britain (“When Humans Walked the Earth”, until 10 June) was underpinned by ripples of disquiet at their unveiling with one art buff telling all and sundry that such an effect was traditionally achieved by the application of copious amounts of urine. Such an excretory technique would certainly chime well with the miscellaneous bodily functions presented in the works, but the Chapmans’ more squeamish collectors were happy to be reassured by a member of the foundry which helped produce the works that these days the process involved chemicals created in the lab rather than the loo.

Grayson’s balls are better than Kylie’s

Pint-sized pop poppet Kylie Minogue was in a high state of excitement at the opening of the V&A survey of her stage outfits (until 10 June), proclaiming to the adoring assembled throng: “I just can’t believe there are disco balls at the V&A.” Among the crowd craning their necks to see the diminutive Miss Minogue was the UK’s own fashion icon, ceramicist Grayson Perry, whose towering spike heels ensured a clear view of the star, as well making it very clear to all around that he was sporting some sparkly spheres of his own. Adorning the front of Perry’s otherwise unusually plain black shift dress were two breast-high sequinned balls with another cheekily positioned at crotch level. “I call it Chanel with balls,” he confided to Jetsam. Surely it is only a matter of time before Perry’s evermore stunning array of frocks get their own V&A retrospective?

Canny Yoko Ono gets sexual in a sack

The Indica season at London’s Riflemaker gallery ended with a flourish with the seminal 1960s Indica gallery co-founder John Dunbar getting extremely cosy with his best-known artist as he and Yoko Ono revisited the Bag performance pieces that the pair first enacted over 40 years earlier. Before eager crowds jammed into Riflemaker’s modest interior, Mr Dunbar and Yoko put bags over their heads, got into separate body bags and then both climbed into one big bag from which they emitted articles of clothing and disconcertingly sexual sounds. Afterwards the duo took questions from the audience during which veteran artist and Indica exhibitor Colin Self interrogated Ms Ono so keenly that her minders began to get restive, suspecting him of being a rogue reporter who had infiltrated the event. Afterwards at the celebratory dinner, the Riflemaker management attempted a game of surrealist cadavre exquis, but here Yoko showed that, though she might be a performance trooper, she’s way too market-savvy to produce her works gratis: when her turn came, she drew a simple (and unsigned) heart.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Nick Serota: Why s**t and sp**k are important'