Archive: Issue No. 126, February 2008

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My work at the Hayward gallery in London, with Lisa Brice
















Ed Young's Diary

Wednesday, January 2

Tom Cullberg's exhibition opens at João Ferreira. Not much to say. It's the same as last time... exactly. And the one before that... and the one before that. I am starting to wonder if he's showing the leftover stock from last year. I know that art school teaches you to find a signature, but this is getting silly. No wonder he always looks slightly depressed. Where has the fun gone? At least his financial bracket has shifted. And who has a show just after New Year's Day anyway?

Friday, January 4

Karaoke barmen are getting a bit tired of us. Hanging with Lisa Brice and Elmi Badenhorst, painter Jake Aikman and sculptor Doug Gimberg. We are kindly asked to leave the bar. Our straining vocal cords annoy. Gimberg and I do a beautiful rendition of the Lion King soundtrack duet, Can You Feel The Love Tonight. But it is nice to spend some time with the Brice and the Badenhorst. And we had some nice KFC earlier.

We head for EVOL, a club where all the cool kids are. I fucking hate it. This night is particularly bad. It is extremely hot and everyone hugs me with sweaty bodies. Gross... We head back to the 2666 studios and have a chilled sunrise with whiskey and mild brandy. Gimberg stays up with us all night long. I think it's because of a possible crush on Aikman. Crash on the couch. Gimberg and Aikman retreat to the residency room. It's too dirty to tell you. Brice and Badenhorst leave.

Saturday, January 5

Brice and Badenhorst return. Make a braai in the studio. Happy. Fun. They bring some friends, fashionista Richard de Jager and self proclaimed high roller Matthew Luke Hindley. Despite multiple hangovers, the party is really nice, with really nice people. Zen Marie is here. Matt Hindley and I make up after a year of dispute. He is happy that we are 'pals' again. Me too. We retreat to the Kimberley Hotel for a nightcap. Matt is a bit drunk and Elmi takes the boy home. I am left with filmmaker Teboho Edkins from Berlin. We end up in my hotel room and catch up over a bottle of vodka. The sun rears its nasty head... again.

Sunday, January 6

The Lonesharks play at Jo'burg bar... again. I am with the Brice and the Badenhorst... again. Dave Ferguson drops the band tonight and performs a solo harmonica session. I really love it. I prefer it to his blues band. Zen Marie arrives. It's his last night in town and we have a few too many. Zen calls a cabbie and drops me at Linda Stupart and painter Georgina Gratrix's housewarming party. The night is funny. Lizza Littlewort and Robert Sloon do the 'fat dance'. My skinny ass is in stitches. Someone suggests that we head to the hippy bar, Rafiki's. It's fairly pleasant, but this is probably because it's empty. Sloon injures me badly in a failed Milli Vanilli dance move. I cry... just a little. We are all very tired and Lizza is drunk. I am happy, as this is a rare occurrence. Littlewort was not seen back at the studio for three days.

It's 4am. I receive a call from a close friend. Something has happened and she needs me to come over. I walk down in the rain (vague memories of Paris enter my mind in much the same way that positrons enter a vacuum). Moments before hitting Long Street I am pulled over by the cops... again. They threaten to arrest me. I ask them why. They explain that it is because I am drunk. I acknowledge my status and explain that this is why I am walking and definitely not driving.

They get out of the van and politely ask me to stop being funny. I say that I am not - my readers can confirm. They ask me what I had smoked. I tell them that I don't smoke illegal substances. I am put against the van and given a full body search (non-cavity). I am reminded of an incident when artist Pro Sobopha was interrogated for drunken walking and escaped with broken ribs and punctured lung. I contain my disgust. They are not real cops. They are those civilian types, but any confrontation will land me in the back of their van. I have done this before. After thorough interrogation I am sent on my path with a warning that I might get mugged in Long Street. Jesus...

I find my friend, spend the night and get my ass out of there by 10am.

Monday, January 7

It is cold and I am relieved by a donation of an oversized shabby hoody. I walk the streets in the pleasant drizzle with the mild appearance of a class-A Bergie. I visit my close friend Julie Aitcheson in her bookshop. We have a couple of smokes and discuss immigrating to Spain. I walk to the post office to collect my mail - nice books from Swiss artist Peter Regli and his retrospective.

I visit Lola's café for a morning beer and the dreaded overdue bank statements. I turn to Regli's books instead. I am greeted with a sweet 'Hello'. It's Alex Learmont. I have not seen her in a few years and we catch up. I am starting to enjoy this thing of dead mobile phone and no home. I know that my editors are shitting themselves. But I like this new habit.

Tuesday, January 8

Sans shower. It's been a few days. I write at super speed. My sub-editor always puts the fear of god in me. I feel 13. I can't remember the last month but manage to put the diary together. I am so getting fired.

Thursday, January 10

Working quietly in my studio with Linda Stupart and Lizza Littlewort. All is calm. I get a Skype message from Crazee: 'Do you want to go get nasty?' A little intrigued by this god-awful proposition I reply after moments of contemplation: 'What?' She explains that it is a party at L/B's Lounge. I wipe my brow.

Friday, January 11

I am invited to Neighbourhood, a new bar in Long Street. There is a Scottish curator there. I don't care. Pieter Hugo is there. I care even less. I end up at the Kimberley Hotel for a nightcap. We meet a nice guy called Kavi and go swimming. I am sure this is getting boring by now. And the Scottish curator likes to drink to the word 'holnaai'.

Saturday, January 12

Kathryn Smith's exhibition opens at the Goodman Cape. It's good. It's actually really good. Meet with a few people there who I have not seen in a while. Individuals are in town from Johannesburg and other overseas places. I leave slightly inebriated. I find local 'sound artist' and opportunist James Webb on the staircase. I joke: 'Are you waiting to be invited to the private dinner'. He responds politely: 'I have been invited'. Next time I will know better and hang out with Candice Breitz.

Sunday, January 13

Eat a bucket of KFC.

Monday, January 14

Fuck Mondays.

Thursday, January 17

Physical Computing artist Ralph Borland abuses our studio bandwidth and exploits my beer stash. He is doing the same talk that he did three years ago at Michaelis. I decide not to attend, not that I was invited. Last time Ralph brought out a friend to do a talk from NY City we got an intimate workshop on how to VJ at trance-parties. I asked the obvious question of why I needed to know how to make a screensaver if I have so many options on my laptop already. Borland lost it and pushed me off my chair onto the ground. I hurt my elbow. Maybe it was just a badly aimed lap dance.

We attend Borland's after-talk drinks party at the Waiting Room. Ralph is DJing later at Assembly, a new cool kid hangout in the East city. No one is interested. We chill at the Waiting Room. Freak and fuckhead David Robert Lewis starts attacking my friend. Lewis is a lunatic apparently suffering from drug-induced psychosis. After the eighth insult my friend gets a bit irritated. I inform Lewis that his diatribe qualifies as harassment and that he should leave. He refuses and I inform the manager in charge. In parallel conversation Borland attacks my friend on the same premise. They are all fucking crazy. I ask Borland to sit down and calm down. He does.

We go downstairs to attend to our 9pm booking at Royale Eatery. Borland follows us down like a lapdog and tries to apologise. Think it is too late. We order some drinks and burgers. The Scottish curator joins us and so does critic Linda Stupart. We have a great time. Towards the end of our meal Crazee starts sending in her troops to spy while she lurks outside the entrance. After a few attempts they finally join us and behave erratically, in much the same way those roses don't grow in winter. Crazee fights with George for flirting with one of her prepubescent shags. Crazee makes Becky Haysom cry for no reason in particular and later shouts at her for hanging onto me prior to launching her head into a table corner. Our beautiful dinner is ruined. I start wondering why people fuck up my dinners. And this is the first time I had some cash for a do.

Thursday, January 24

My show opens at the Hayward. I am sad. I am not there. The South African High Commission refused my shallow and frankly boorish attempt at refuge. And quite fantastically missed the Achilles Heel. I decide to cry. I stay in watching a bad movie Be Cool. I masturbate. Text from Lisa Brice:

'Hey superstar - looked great - good crowd - got shot of Ralph [Rugoff] saying... 'Wish you were here Ed'.' Masturbate some more.

Friday, January 25

I fucking hate Fridays

I end up at the Kimberley (again). I despise the Kimberley on Fridays as all the emo second years are there. We just came from a shitty show called Fresh Assholes at a shitty gallery called Whatifiwasagirl. The show was 'curated' by ArtHeat's La Libertine, lady Sloon. The show is bad. I can barely contain my gag. The show is supposed to maintain the integrity of painting. My ass. The show ends up being a back-patting conference of young painters who can only but speak about the medium and paint cool kids... badly. The show seems vacuous, lame, sub-ordinate and, yes... bad. But all the artists are happy. They should not be. Their parents all seem happy too. They should not be either. And I feel like a tit as I had taught these kids discourse throughout their education.

Artist and educator Malcolm Payne is at the show. I am sure he feels like a tit too, as he had taught most of these kids painting. I say: 'Hi Malcie'. He says: 'Why are you not on the show?' I say: 'Because I am not a painter.' He says: 'I hear you paint buildings in Miami.' I say: 'It could have been worse. I could have painted Johnny Oppenheimer's private helicopter.'

We end up downstairs at a bar owned by a guy called Gilles. He used to own the antique store opposite the AVA in Church Street. The bar is nice and quiet with only the lonely sound of a live Senegalese band filling the airwaves.

The cool kids discover the place. I want to go. I end up speaking to my good friend Chlöe. I have not seen her in months. The conversation is nice and personal. Crazee arrives and shouts at Chlöe for speaking to me. I am slowly losing my patience with the so-called SA art world. My friend Ronald Suresh Roberts claims to be hungry. We phone the Kimberley to keep us three plates of prawn specials. We have no idea what to expect.

The prawn special is actually delicious... can recommend. We are with a friend called Alice. An acquaintance of mine, Sexy George, arrives. We hug and he asks me to stop insulting our mutual friend and artist Stuart Bird. I explain that Bird is an asshole. He agrees but urges me to make peace. I explain that I have tried but have had enough of his insults... a guy who calls me an aging artist, who recently graduated from art school, an ex-assistant of mine who is actually older than I, who has never heard of rent money as AVA director, Kirsty Cockerill has been supporting him for some ten years.

I convey to Sexy George that I have tried to make up with the guy on numerous occasions, if only to keep peace between mutual friend Linda Stupart. He suggests that I try again. I decline the offer explaining my discomfort. George attempts another hug. I reciprocate. A classy friend of Sexy George, failed actor Johan, extends his arm in a puerile attempt at making peace as well. I stare gleefully. He retracts... thank God.

The prawns satisfy but I am distracted by this Johan guy staring at me. And am mildly upset that my Kimberley has become a new hot spot. My friend Alice splashes out on some drinks at the bar. She forwards a message from the little orange guy, Johan: 'Please Ed. Can't we just be friends.' The story goes way back when I had him calmly removed from Jo'burg bar for being offensive. I ask Alice to please tell him to go fuck himself. I hate stupid actors. She refuses. A friend of mine happily extends my sentiments with pleasure and flowers. Orange shouts across a crowded bar: 'Ed, you cunt... you cunt... Ed Young, if I see you alone in the street blah blah...' I finish half a kg of prawns and enjoy a gripping conversation. My students watch nervously in tender anticipation.

I end up at the bar and order a round of Jagermeister. Failed actor pulls me aside: 'Look me in the eye.' I reply with a mild: 'Fuck off.' Orange says: 'Look me in the eye motherfucker!' I respond with a polite: 'Go fuck yourself.' Orange pulls a fist and threatens to smash my head into the bar counter. I smile considerately and order a manager. I explain that I am not in a particular mood for a shiner, nor juvenile threats from a failed actor. Manager explains this to Orange. Orange leaves. I stay. Crazee arrives. I leave. My bag breaks. I rescue beers and Ray-Bans from oncoming traffic. Crazee's young harem laugh at me.

Saturday January 26

Waste the whole day with The Sensitive Theorist and a friend of mine having a few bottles of wine and avoiding work. The need for food dawns. Trot up to KFC and get distracted by the Perseverance Tavern. A few drafts and Jagermeister later we make it to KFC and buy a few burgers. My friend disappears during the transaction. I find her outside hanging onto a pole (not for dancing purposes). She informs me that she can't walk and that I need to hold her up. I am also a bit tipsy and the long walk home is funny. I carry my friend. The Sensitive Theorist carries the food.

We joke about the apparent sight of two UCT employees accompanied by an art-school-dropout-crack-whore. We have a chuckle. In earshot of the Kimberley Hotel I explain that the situation rather resembles a Rohyponol incident I spotted in Paris (luckily sorted out by the cops). The Sensitive Theorist shouts at me for joking about date rape drugs. I shout back and explain that I was not making a joke but merely assessing the situation. We turn to find a number of my second year students glaring at us. We smile politely. The Sensitive Theorist holds up two bags of KFC and blushes. We move to my apartment and enjoy brilliant cuisine. We have a good laugh as the sun sets calmly in the West. My balcony is lovely.

Sunday, January 27

An article appears in City Press, a Johannesburg weekly. It's called 'Art Attack' and aims at telling the world that I am a racist... again. Its only apparent purpose is to reinstate the stupidity of our so-called 'art intelligentsia'. We are all so used to the literal when it comes to sensitive issues. But I will not contest this, except for the fact that our 'journalist' has very little experience in the field of art - misquotes, quotes out-of-context and the piece is riddled with factual inaccuracies - it's all on the internet these days. There is no need for lazy malicious stupidity. It's too easy.

But thanks for the currency.