Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The Mummer Returns

On Saturday I will be taking part in a show called The Role of the Village Idiot, An afternoon of public art/street performance on Peckham Square Saturday 28th March 2 til 6pm. It's curated by Mark McGowan and he explains it like this :

"The theme of the afternoon is performance and the role of the village idiot. Obviously we have the holy fools, shakespears court jester, the dada art movement, but the village idiot is something else he/she is something other, something familiar, somebody we all know and recognise in our local communities. Here we will attempt to investigate, the role of the village idiot, the question of a necessary expulsion, the emotion of shame and how that relates to modern day life, street theatre and public art. Mainly using gesture and small props the artists will attempt to engage with the everyday happenings in peckham square. There will be a reception in the Bunhouse Pub opposite Peckham square in the evening."

I plan to stage a version of a traditional Mummers play, a traditional form of village pantomime often performed by Morris Dancers. Mummers groups would travel around their parish at holiday times performing short plays in pubs or manor houses in return for money and ale. The plays were spoken in rhyme, perfomers would often getting quicker as they became more familiar with the material but also more drunk and incoherent. As Mumming fell out of fashion and the old boys died off the remaining members of the group would often have to play multiple roles during the play. I will be performing as the last Mummer, attempting to play all the roles in the play myself.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



A review of the Tate Triennial Exhibition curated by Nicolas Bourriaud

It is widely accepted that post modernism has done it’s job of critiquing modernism. So where does that leave us? In the post-post-modern era? No academic has been brave enough to stand up and use such a silly turn of phrase.

French curator and theorist Nicolas Bourriaud has decided to try and answer the question about exactly where art is now in Britain. He decided not use the silly term post-post-modernism. Instead he has come up with his own silly term Altermodernism. Forgive the man, anyone who has read his books will know English is not his first language.

The critique of post modernism was all about disbanding the grand isms projects. It laid the way for a more pluralist go-your-own-way approach. Trying to create any thread through the whole thing is counter intuitive. The critics have been quick to point out this flaw in Bourriaud’s plan.

However don’t let them throw the baby out with the bath water. This is still a good show featuring the best artist in the country and it is trying to explain to the general public what is going on the artworld today.

Most people in Briatin still associates the contemporary art scene with the YBAs. It is 12 years since the Sensation exhibition that made their name but the satirical cartoons about them still run every fortnight in Private Eye magazine. Damien Hirst is an old hack now.

If you go into Goldsmiths College today you will not find YBAs there anymore, you will find students from across the world. Asians and American artist will far out number the British students. The art world is an international place with artists jes-setting across the globe from biennale to biennale. This is why Franz Ackerman’s abstract painting installations look like they are inspired by an airport coffee lounge.

Chinese Art is the big thing at the moment and most Chinese artists are too familiar with the idea of working in exile from their home country. This exhibition tries to make British artist look like trendy exiles from the home country. The rye cynicism in Bob and Roberta Smith’s billboards is perfectly pitched. His descriptions of his conversations with international art curator Bourriaud reads like the kind of postcards your Dad might send from a fashionable holiday resort that is a bit too hot for him. Marcus Coates’ video of his attempt to resolve the Middle East crisis with a badger on his head is also an equally astute. You can also study Charles Avery’s maps and drawings from lands he has travelled to in his imagination without the need for him to leave Scotland. Walhead Beshty’s ‘Fedex’ are series of glass boxes that are sent by Fedex delivery from show to show and exhibited as they arrive, full of cracks and damage. It is like is a work by Donald Judd that has been lost in the post for 40 years.

Other highlights of the show include the absurd self-mythologizing documentary by the wonderful Lindsay Seer, a girl who wanted to be a camera. Hey, welcome to the twenty-first century where you can be whatever you want to be.

Spartacus Chatwynn’s video wall is also typically self-depreciating. Her theme is carnival and festival which means sanctioned chaos and allowing things to go wrong for a little while. In other countries this means Mardi Gras and gratuitous sex with strangers, but in England it means playing old Sex Pistols records on the BBC Radio 2.

The finale of the show is an ‘GiantBum’ by Nathanial Mellors. The installation leads you through series of videos featuring three thespians performing a play about a clergyman stuck in a giant bum hole (what could be more British?). You are then lead through to a room containing the amazing animatronic heads that you have probably seen in the Guardian Newspaper colour supplements. Though the animatronic heads cannot fail to impress, but the real pay off for the clever people is the psychoanalysis and philosophical thought (and good old fashioned clever swearing) delivered by the thespians in the videos.

Though it is easy to paint Bouriaud as the curatorial equivalent of Inspector Clouseau, I would like to suggest that he is perhaps a more Jacque Tatti figure. This show is shot through with a sense of British wit, irony and self-deprecation. Our international jetsetting had made us aware we certainly ain’t super cool international freedom fighting artists. As Bob Smiths states ‘I wish I had voted for Barack Obama’.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


New Website...

Once again this blog has become woefully out of date. I don’t think I am ever really going to get around to filling in the missing entries.

However I have updated my website which now has loads of documentation from some of thing I have been up to in the intervening months, including the Montague and Campbell and Morris Projects :


Here are an extra videos that isn’t on the new site because it is on YouTube...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Heath Ledger Performance Art Comedy Suicide

While I’m on a roll with blog writing I thought I might fill in some of the missing entries from earlier in the year. This is a video from January in the Montague Arms. It was a piece inspired by Heath Ledger, who is about the same age as me. His tragic death had been the big news that week.

It could have been a humorous routine if it were not for the terribly misjudged choice of subject matter.

The video also features an appearance by Horatio Caine (David Caruso) and Agent Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter) from CSI Miami.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 28, 2008



Cherie Blair I Wont Miss You Cartoon
Back before the wedding and Whistable Biennal we hosted a Chap themed Evening at the Montague Arm featuring the return of Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer. ‘Gentleman’s Night’ seemed a bit misogynistic so I was going to call it ‘Ladies and Chaps Night’. Martin at the pub had kindly offered prizes for the best dressed ladies and chaps. However, all the ladies I invited wanted to dress like chaps, not ladies.

I only curated half the live programme for Whitstable Biennale. Emma Leach curated the other half during the weekend I was busy getting married. Emma’s weekend presented a series of intimate and delicate and feminine performance artists. My weekend was more noisy and blokey (in Dave TV or Radio 6 sense of bloke entertainment, not the Nuts Magazine sense).

All this got me thinking about the old performance art stalwart of gender politics.

As Cherie Blair has shown over the last few months, the way to success as a female is not by becoming a respected member of the court, but instead by courting the gutter press. Cherie Blair is not a good role model for women.
The Spice Girls can now only be found in the bargain basket at Woolworths - girl power was too cheap and it didn’t work properly. Burning bras were replaced with wonder bras. However, all those sexy girls wondering the streets has led to a concerning increase in the number of reported rapes and the decrease in the number of successful prosecution. Wonder bras too easily confuse men. Forget Girl Power. We need some Lady Power. The lady is feminine and demands respect.

On the 10th of July in the Montague Arms I decided to host a Ladies Night, but there were no strippers. I wanted ladies whose performances are feminine and demand respect. Gentlemen were welcome.

The night featured Caroline De Lannoy, Holly Darton & Jenny Hunt, Lucy Panesar, Emma Leach and Jo Stephenson.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 21, 2008


Whitstable Biennale

This is a lovely photo of me getting married.

Whitstable Biennale was the week after my wedding. I had been told by Victoria (now Mrs Frog) that I should not arrange any stupid art antic that week. Then Sue Jones phoned and offered me the chance to program some events for the Biennale. I said no. I told Victoria. Victoria said I was an idiot as it was the best show I had ever been offered and I was to phone them back and say that I am going to do it.

I’m not going to write about the wedding on here in case anybody gets confused and thinks my marriage is a performance art piece. It wasn’t. It was a real wedding.

Whitstable went very well. Lee Campbell (who I programmed) got loads of press and even got on Midweek on Radio 4 with Libby Purvis. Lee did a recreation of the opening titles of THE RISE AND FALL OF REGINAL PERRIN.

Click here to hear Lee Campbell on Radio 4

LEE CAMPBELL on BBC News South East June 20 2008

Below is an interview I did for one of the Kent newspapers about Whitstable Biennale. It is probably in an editor’s waste paper basket somewhere in Canterbury. It is a nice summary of Whitstable Biennale.

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Frog Morris. I am an artist, poet, performer and curator of a weekend of live performances at Whitstable Biennale on 28th and 29th of June.

What were the highlights of the Biennale for you this year?

Last year I went to Venice Biennale, it was enormous, and I had to walk past so much boring art to find the good bits. At this year’s Whitstable Biennale everything I saw was a highlight in one way or another. Everything was good, from the big commissioned work by established artists, such as Ryan Gander’s animation, though to all the crazy satellite projects people organised themselves, such as Knitstable. I was really proud to be a part of it.

Kim Noble's performance was one of my favourite moments. Kim rode up Whitstable beach on a jet ski dressed in an amphibian costume and then waded up to an unsuspecting family and presented them with a brand new electric toaster.

I also enjoyed meeting The Man From Above. He set up a scaffolding tower on the beach and explained to passers by that they should embrace climate change and prepare platforms to live on above the rising sea levels. He also offered advice on buying wetsuits and eating more fish.

Other memorable moments included Das Schimmel attempting invade Whitstable Castle and also Charlotte Young’s Guided Tour which took in some usual points of interest around the town. And, of course, I couldn’t believe how many people turned up and joined in for Lee Campbell’s re-enactment of the opening titles from Reginald Perrin.

On Saturday Night we had a Cabaret in the Smack Inn with body beat boxing by Leigh Clarke, music by Victor Mount and spiritual healing with Princess Penang. We also had a drag act to compare, Brian Dawn Chalkley. She was a little nervous when she arrived because as she didn’t see many other people who looked like they might enjoy cross-dressing, but she was made to feel most welcome. It was very touching.

We rounded the weekend off with a special pub quiz night with no right or wrong answers on Sunday evening. We finished with a bit of an old fashioned sing-along with musician Daren Callow. We taught everyone a song about an Angry Badger.

Not many similarly sized towns have such a vibrant arts scene. What is special about Whitstable?

Whitstable is such a lovely town with a wonderful seafront and there is so much nice food and fine ale. It is not hard to convince artists to spend time there.

What do contemporary arts have to offer people?

Artist Kim Noble offered people electric toasters.

It seemed like such a useful gift but not everyone seemed to understand.

Sometimes people are a little confused when they first see a work of art. If the artwork is good it will stimulate people’s brains in one way or another, even if it is to articulate their dislikes. Many people who spoke to The Man From Above were initially bemused by his plan to flood Whitstable but he was also asking people important question about how they are going to deal with climate change.

How important do you think events like the Biennale are to Whitstable, and to society as a whole?

Nobody really gets rich from projects like Whitstable Biennale, there must be some other reason all these people want to do it and to get involved. I am glad that people are being supported in doing something they obviously want to do. I am glad that festivals can happen without charging £150 a ticket and getting sponsored by some awful tasting lager.

What are your plans for the future?

I run a regular night in a pub in London called the Montague Arms (it’s just by the turn off for the A2 in New Cross). We do a contemporary variety show on the second Thursday of every month with music, comedy and performance art. This week we are doing a Ladies Night, but not with naughty strippers. There will be performance by some respectable young lady artists. It includes a performance by Emma Leach who curate the other half of the live programme at Whitstable. Gentlemen are welcome.

Tell us something about you not many people know

I first started performing and organising art events because of a silly art student joke made during a lecture at KIAD in Canterbury in 2001. It’s funny how one thing leads to another.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Weblog Blacklog

Here is some of the missing posts from February, March, April and May...

– May 8th 2008
This month we had Sheer Zed who presented a mixture of songs, poems and sketches. He finished with a re-enactment of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho using fresh fruit which I greatly appreciated. We also had Wayne Myers who played the guitar. Wayne is a busker as well as running his own online comic you can read at www.conniptions.org

Another memorable moment was Duncan Ward’s strange performance art piece. Medieval songs and ceremonies influence Duncan’s work and this performance was inspired by the medieval artist Lucas Cranach the Elder. Duncan’s performances usually appear faithfully earnest and the whole pub fell respectfully silent as Duncan performed (see left). It was an unusual moment, but it is unusual moment like this that make these nights special.

There is a nice review of the night on Sheer Zed's blog

Next month we are taking it back to the Good Old Days with an Old Chap special featuring the return of Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer.

PLAY ON WORDS – April 16th 2008
This was another Lee Campbell show. It was in the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich so I used the opportunity to head back to my family home in Norfolk for a few days. I did a new series of landscape drawings while I was there (see left), but unfortunately the scheduling at the Sainsbury’s centre went a bit awry so I didn’t get to show them. Maybe next time I am invited to show in Norfolk…

SECOND THURSDAYS – April 10th 2008
This month we had some cow boy clowns who were excellent. We also had Paul from London Met and his band Dirty Minimal. Uncle Jeep also returned with his guitar and a selection of hats.

Mark Quinn couldn’t make it for this show as he got his shifts mixed up at work so he sent he friend Stewart in a mask (see right) as a replacement. Stewart then relayed Mark’s comedy routine via mobile phone from Mark’s work. All went well until Mark was called to security search a customer’s bag during a joke about a peanut.

As part of the Second Thursday’s agenda to mix artists in with musicians and comedians, we ran our own artists residency program this month. Sam Curtis had previously run self initiated residencies in IKEA and Harrod’s Fish counter. This month I asked Sam to be artist in residence in the pub. We met on several occasions in during the month in the bar and talked about art and Sam’s ideas.

Sam’s first idea was to work behind the bar making art by pulling pints and collecting empties, but the bar staff said they didn’t need any help (see Martin collecting Jeep's empties, left) and suggested some other places he could earn money. When Sam said he would work for free the bar staff became suspicious of intentions to get into the secure areas behind the bar.

As a result Sam and myself discussed at length the cross-over between art and life. Sam’s art practice and art performances had become almost indistinguishable from everyday activities and mundane day jobs. This was clearly intended as a conceptual statement questioning what art and the role of the artist actually is. Ever since Duchamp turned a urinal on it’s side and called it art 90 years ago people have been asking ‘is it art?’ Sam’s questioning is even more relevant now as artist are increasingly employed in community art projects where you aren’t sure if the artist is supposed to be making art or doing some kind of social work. I suggested to Sam that something was needed to distinguish an activity as art; the really easy way to do this is to frame it in art gallery. Outside of the art gallery some other gesture is required to denote the significance of some thing, other wises it will be passed by unnoticed and just disappear. It needed to be unusual. It needed to be remarkable. Sam organised a motorcycle stunt outside the pub.

Sam also gave me some thoughts on Second Thursdays. He said he felt the illustrated posters I made were quite essential to the whole thing. As a bit of a change, this month instead of performing I made a book of illustration and stories and gave it out to people on the door (see below).

30 DAYS OF 30 PERFORMANCES – Saturday 29th March
This run of shows in the Sun and Doves in Camberwell curated by Mark McGowan and Guy Hilton was quite fascinating. Mark McGowan’s taste in performance can be quite provactive. The opening night saw a performance by Paulo Pevreira who had previously performed as Princess Diana in Mark McGowan’s re-enactment conception of Prince William. Paulo proceeded to take his clothes off and stick his finger up his bum and then pour treacle and feather over himself. Mark and Guy had programmed different performance artists for each day for 30 day. The result of this is that not even the most devoted performance art lovers were realistically going to get to all 30 performances. By the end of the first week when Sally Bangs performed, she was dancing naked watched only by local pub regulars and office workers going for after work drinks. However attempts by performances artist to shock the audience into paying attention continued to escalate. On the final night I had to hide under the table as a group of drunken semi-naked art students smeared in Swafega were smashing up the pub and police had to be called to stop it.

I was scheduled half way through the run and had a Saturday afternoon slot and knew I would be entertaining Saturday afternoon football watchers and family lunches for six hours. We ran the Unwrong Quiz for the afternoon and I invited Daren Callow, Mark Quinn, Theo Morris and Thom Cutler down to help me fill the time. However I didn’t want to feel out done by the other more extreme performances so for my grand finale I brought blindfold, handcuff, lighter fluid, cigarettes, vodka and set of kitchen knives (see right).

There is a nice review on Daren Callow's blog.

This was a group show at Elevator Gallery I was asked to perform at following my appearance at Suburbia. On the down side, I got my iPod nicked. On the upside, one of the other artists brought a lifesize wooden Darlek and I got to achieve a lifetime ambition of being exterminated. I also tried to rig a David C West’s dogfight by feeding one of the dogs cans of Stella to make it fight more.

SECOND THURSDAYS – March 13th 2008
This night had the smallest audience but some of the best performances so far. Perhaps it was the intimacy that helped the performers. Das Schimmelhood of thy Worthy Das Schimmel Das Schimmel Das Schimmel Das Schimmelites had certainly become a more established and powerful group since their appearance at Frogstock last summer. They staged a full religious ceremony in honour of thy lord Das Schimmel and had the pub singing hymns to his Das Schimmelness.

Lee Campbell also did a retrospective of some of his performance work. I have only started working with Lee recently and he certainly seems to be on his way up the art world food chain. His performances pieces consist of misinterpreted catch phrases and half remembered hook lines from TV theme tunes and pop songs. He takes that popular vain of performance art inspired by Samuel Beckett and he confuses all that nihilistic philosophising about repeating acts again and again with a much more contemporary passion for hearing mobile phone ring tones again and again.

SUBURBIA – March 1st
This was group show organised by Lee Campbell in the foreign press association. Here is the video.

SECOND THURSDAYS – February 14th Valentines Day
This month we had an excellent performance on the Accordion by Martin White. Uncle Jeep also came down and was as unstoppable as always. We took some photos of Jeep and one is going to go on his next CD ‘Country Ways’ (see below). Daniel and Davina also came and wrote Valentines Cards to people in the pub (see left). This was a really great piece of work as it was the first time we had got performers working in the bar area rather the usual stage based stuff. I want to get more of this kind of thing happening.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?