Thursday, 10 July 2008

The Cornerhouse Rules

Went to see Peter Saville talk to a smallish crowd at the Cornerhouse earlier.

He referred to his artwork for New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies as his career high, but I asked him about his biggest mistake.

Head in hands he offered an unexpected insight into the concepts of reuse and waste management and their application in the adjacent but quarrelsome fields of art and design. Invited to show at an Art Fair for the first time in his career ('a designer at an art fair is like a pop star in a movie... they've accepted the invitation to fuck up in public'), he and his team had spent some time experimenting with the digital transformation of rejected design projects. In other words, waste projects were pulled out of the scrap and given a deluxe 'photoshop' treatment, via the Wave filter, and re-presented as art.

A version of a Maurice Lewis painting was given this treatment by Saville and selected as his showpiece at the Frieze Art Fair. So far so good. Then on preview night Saville wandered on past his own piece and down the aisle only to pass a Maurice Lewis original hanging only feet away. Both were presented as art. Saville was embarrassed... for four long days.

Moving on, there were plenty of Factory anecdotes, but I was keen to hear what he might have to say about his role as Manchester's Creative Director.

Like Ray Hammond and James Bellini at the Visions of the Future event a couple of weeks ago, Saville is interested in work... what it is, what it isn't any more and what it might be in the future. In particular, he's keen to understand just how people will live and work in a future version of Manchester which, right now, is probably best summed up as mostly about 'Universities and Football'! In short, Saville suggested that 'the world will know about Manchester when Manchester is doing things that the world is interested in'. Yank a random boy off the streets of, say, Sao Paulo or Beijing and he'll know all about Manchester. United! This isn't a bad thing of course, but, for Saville, Manchester clearly needs to work up a more rounded global personality.

Before rushing for the train back to London, Saville suggested that Manchester needs to keep hold of a few more of those visionary and ambitious people who come to the city to study... and then leave.

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