For Spike! For Brum! We march as Juan! You may take our funding but you will never take our better quality of life and increased life expectancy!’
Art-world think-tank BAZ chart the growth of regional art scene hooligan firms and their ambitious attempt to ‘Take London’.
BAZ interns have acquired alarming documents that uncover the meteoric rise in regional artist-led hooligan firms. These so called ‘Associate Armies’ began to form in the early 2000’s as artist-led organisations realised the power of professional development associate schemes to radicalise and breed a generation of volunteers happy to not only drink out of date Stella, but sell it to other people as well.
Scores of unsuspecting gallery goers have been suckered in to joining these so called ‘Tatham O’Sullivan’ pyramid investment schemes, often lured by the lavish lifestyles being rather too consciously displayed by the well dressed and over vitamined gallery staff during sneaky glances through the fetishized back-stage office areas that litter artist-led spaces.
Often obscured behind shiny Mac laptops, engrossed in writing something really important or just eating a bowl of peach and rosemary cous cous, these gallery staff represented the life of idle posturing that many art graduates desired. However, once they had exchanged direct debit details, they were in. There was no way out and so they had to fight.
The First Skirmishes and Early Fights
As the numbers joining associate schemes rocketed, an increased sense of competition amongst ‘associateers’ grew. Frustrated by a lack of access to debonair gallery directors and poor placement at after show meals, many felt they were limited by what was perceived to be a glass ceiling and soon individuals adopted more desperate measures to gain attention. Fights with rival artist-led firms were arranged on private view nights and rivalry between rms was playing havoc with regional Turning Point steering group meetings. Screenings and talks programmes with curators were routinely ambushed by unanswerable open-ended rhetorical questions on Jean-Luc Nancy, CV workshop leaders struggled to control open discussions on curatorial sexual habits and networks of studio protection rackets emerged across the country.
The dark days had returned to the art world and this time they were going to last longer than a LUX screening.
This was a savvy generation of bright shirted, iPad weilding youngsters who gleefully ignored the knowledge passed down by their art scene elders. Not afraid of getting their hands dirty, they had access to photocopiers, knew how to bi fold A3 flyers and crucially, could make the hashtag key appear on a Mac. Nothing, not even the Turner Prize coming to Walsall could stop them.
The Cross Rail Buffet Gallery
After years of heavy fighting in early 2012 a number of the regional artist-led firms decided to call a truce. Radicalised by regional Arts Council cuts, firms put aside bitter rivalries to discuss revelations that Emma Superspeedbroadbandconnection had tweeted detailing how funding destined for the regions had been secretly syphoned o by London trendsetters.
It had become clear that over the last two years, London based artists had been buying second studios in downtrodden regional cities so they could become eligible for money from the government’s Provincial International Finance for Perplexing Art Fund (PIF PAF) scheme.
Funds were then being saved to build a new artist-led project space within the buffet car of the new Cross Rail thing that everyone in London would always mention but never explain. This ambitious project involved not only a gallery, second space, screening room, bookshop and international residency programme but also a number of other desirable artist-led features such as: a Congolese-Falklands Islands fusion restaurant specialising in organic street rat food; an Ethiopian salad bar (Highly Saladase); bookable fair-trade Pétanque court; kindle reading area; 30 seat cinema focusing on pre- 1920s Maldivian silent film; French – Canadian coffee shop and charcuterie.
Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong in any of this, the regional art scenes took umbrage that money set aside for them was being used in this way.
Outraged, the Regional Art Firms knew they had to work together if they were to get their funding back. A training camp in the Malvern Hills was hastily covened in order to prepare for the mission that would become known as ‘Take London’.
The Malvern Training Camp- A typical day
8.45 Flag of Gavin Wade raised
9.00 How to get on a tube (OA)
10.30 Tuck Shop (min spend £12)
11.00 How to get on a tube better (WW)
12.00 London Lunch: Organic Rat Tapas and eel pie bake off (B-NAM)
13.00 Effective Wattle and Daubing of Gallery Fire Escapes (WW)
14.00 The Secret of a Successful Manchester Necktie (CC) [Please bring a necktie and a small quantity of fresh urine]
15.00 Coracle Building (BSF) [bring 4 copies of Frieze and own PVA]
16.00 Prayers, Bourriard reading and Flag down (TAF)
16.30 Book burning and camp songs
After a month the plan was set and firms awaited a coded advert in Art Monthly to prompt them to leave their warm, spacious and well appointed studios. The time had come to finally do battle with the London Art world and get their PIF PAF money back.
Take London- How the raid unfolded
BAZ have created a rough timeframe of the now legendary events that saw regional art firms take back their PIF PAF funding.
23.34 The 1000 (ish) strong army arrive in London via coracles on the River ames (beginning at Wallingford) adopting the look of a long forgotten Hayward Gallery offsite programme
00.18 Surround the Cross Rail Buffet Gallery
00.24 Group visit to Tate Modern giftshop
00.30 Costa Coffee and toilet break
01.40 The group peform the famous Zulu ‘impondo zekomo’ / beast’s horns tactic. Chanting is heard
01.50 In a nod to old British Airways adverts, the group re-adjust to form the ‘Obrist Ikhanda’ formation (replicating the shape of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s forehead on water)
01.57 Launch into a rendition of ‘HUO’
01.59 Guess the Wi-Fi password of White Cube Bermondsey
02.02 Transfer of PIF PAF funds
02.15 Return home. Doctor Who. Then bed