Ed Young's Diary
Saturday, March 1
Have a little dispute at the 2666 studios. Christian Nerf and Doug Gimberg have decided to change the structure of the space, neglecting consultation. We are all a bit peeved. The twins start dismantling a communal table and we all look a little bit angry. I shout at the twins; Christian will have none of it and runs off to buy cigarettes, leaving Gimberg to fend for himself. I keep shouting and stop after a while. Looking at Doug with a tear in my eye I say: 'Doug, this is the first time I have ever shouted at you.' Doug says: 'I know.' We carry on. They leave and I put ALL of my computers and printers and scanners back into my ex-space at the communal table. Seeing as no one seems to realise that I had offered all this equipment to the studio and most have enjoyed a little bit of it.
I receive an SMS from Nerf: 'Democracy is the slave of capitalism. It has become obsolete. P.S. This does not mean we must choose an alternative currently offered by the system. Asshole'. This all smacks of a bit of bourgeois anti-system idealism with a hint of surly fascism.
I receive an extract from David Robert Lewis' blog entitled: 'Is Ed Young a Satanist':
'THE pretentious white-boy from Welkom who arrived on the Cape Town art scene during a millennial slump, had very little to show for himself except a big mouth. Young quickly made a name as an infamous rudeboy [sic], whose method of operation was the hackneyed "art attack" involving one or more victims. Not content with sacrificing aesthetics and profit, Young took to bully boy stunts and conning the media into participating in what he called "conceptual art". In reality Young disliked everything he saw. As columnist Suzy Bell who "bought" Bruce Gordon after being approached by Young in a scheme relates: "The problem with Ed is, he isn't an artist. Not like Wayne Barker who was rude, had attitude but at the end of the day, produced the goods".
'With little to show for his visual arts degree purchased from Michaelis, Young was forced out of desperation to futile and sterile acts. Young even struck up a weird relationship with Ronald Suresh Roberts at the height of the scandal involving Robert's defamation case against the Sunday Times. Whilst Roberts was being pilloried and depicted as a carpetbagger with his head up our second President's behind, Ed chose to support Robert's freedom to be unlikable [sic].
'Then last year he distributed business cards in conjunction with Andrew Lambrecht [sic] with the words: "The Church of Satan, Advocates. Indulgence Instead of Abstinence. For Information on classes & Other activities write or call. Anton Szandor La Vey." The resulting adolescent mascarade [sic] of American Pop imitation in which Young dressed up as the Devil, pronounced upon orgasm, masturbation and sex with under-age boys and girls, did not strike me as particularly daring or inventive. Conceptually it was about as entertaining as a Blockbuster Video pulled from the half-price section.
'Nothing more than "good, clean, fun" a critic from the Cape Times mused, as it appeared Young was now unable to shock, had slipped into the kiddy porn section and had lost his fifteen minutes of fame. However the combination of Satan and Suresh Robert's [sic] had really begun to raise questions as to how serious Young is in his worship of Old Nick, Beezelbub, Lucifer, call it what you will? [sic] The reason I mention this, is because I was party to yet another ugly spat in which my privacy was invaded by Young and Roberts at a local Cape Town drinking hole. Not content with letting old dogs lie, Young proceeded to insult my colleague Gael Reagon about being a "bushman", "hottentot" and a "Jew". Which is not surprising considering the subject matter of his recent work, which commentator Carl Collison has taken to task for being the work of a truly sick mind.'
Ok. I am not really one to respond to the numerous misrepresentations I receive in the media. But this one was funny. And I don't think that anyone really reads Lewis' blog, except maybe for Lewis himself.
Let us start at the start. I was once witness to a physical attack, launched by Lewis against a Nigerian waitron at my favourite Cape Town café, Lola's, in Long Street. Lewis' xenophobic behaviour and racist commentary was not really appreciated. Nor was the Vespa helmet that was smacked into Joseph's head, leaving bloody scratch marks on his face. I personally put Lewis in the back of a cop car that day. Joseph was okay but only slightly startled. I will not go into specific details of the incident when Lewis attacked and punched a security guard at the National Gallery during a 'Soft Serve' exhibition. Not to mention bomb threats at a 'Soft Serve' event a year later.
In case mentioned above, Lewis refers to an incident a few weeks ago when he smashed a glass of beer into the face of one of my students, Timothy Leibrandt, about some race argument. The glass smashed on the floor and not in Tim's face, but this is beside the point. I walked up to Lewis and asked him to leave. He called me a racist. I stared at him. He tries the same Vespa helmet move and I duck. He nicks me on the side of the head. My glasses fall to the floor.
I am not one to worry about artistic eccentricities. But I do not really have time for lunatics. If, ever, assaulted by this person again I will call the cops.
But this aside, Lewis is a knob. Nothing of what he says on his blog (if anyone actually reads it for any other reason than comical entertainment) has any truth or research devoted to the cause. He once tried to sell me photocopies of his blog on the street. The church of Satan thing is a bit wobbly. I was invited to open the exhibition of Christian Nerf and Doug Gimberg, 'Hell Yeah'. It was not my show though that would have been nice. To the astute observer, it becomes clear that the show had very little to do with Satanism. It was actually a very well conceived independent exhibition. As for Lewis' colleague, Gael Reagon, if memory serves me she told me what a 'fucking maniac' Lewis actually is. And this story, by no definition, will mark me responding to critics. This guy is just a knob and needs to speak to someone or be locked up.
As for paedophilia. My opening speech consisted of reading Internet spam and apologies to Mr. Lewis for being slightly aroused by misinterpreting the text and thinking it was kiddie porn.
The upshot of the day is, though, that Dan Halter has arrived back from his show in Milan with a beautiful catalogue. Everyone is very happy, but the catalogue is not available in SA.
Monday, March 3
I start teaching again at Michaelis. My life is back to normal. I get back to the 2666 studios and receive this group mail from Lewis:
As you may know, Ed Young and I are having a bit of a spat about his use of the word "Nigger" and "Bushman" to describe people of colour. It's not that I agree with being politically correct, but the context in which the word has been used/misused is making it very difficult for those who wish to seek redress of grievances in the context of national reconciliation and atonement for the past. I have therefore moved my work from Jo'burg Bar, an ArtThrob hangout, and put the pictures up at Katalyst in Scott Rd, off Lower Main, Observatory.
Katalyst is a unique, community-orientated venue where everybody is welcome, except of course the kind of pretension which has made Ed Young the darling of the Cape Town establishment. Carl Collison has this to say in City Press "Ed Young, a controversial artist, seems intent on making art out of racist offence and profanity, and of riling black people in particular. His recent exhibition of site-specific murals exhibited around New York and Miami in November last year was a case in point, it had the rather odious title: Niggers can't be choosers. Young is white and so unsurprisingly his work has riled many an artist, critic and ordinary person.'
Lewis trusts the media. This is quite refreshing. I can only imagine the 'ArtThrob hangout' with Sue Williamson and Tavish McIntosh having the daggers out at the bar. Catch a fucking wakeup and stop disturbing nice people at nice watering holes. Anyway, I am off to pose for a tasteful nude for Catherine Bull for her ABSA submission. That's another story. I stand naked in blank projects while heavy Eskom guys come to fix the line. They keep staring at my tiny behind.
Friday, March 7
Early Friday. The first of the year. We arrive and the first year students attend in masses. It's good to see this Michaelis fundraiser kicking off in a quick blast. The place gets stuffy and Suresh Roberts and I retreat to The Waiting Room. I almost get beaten up by an English tourist for calling him a spy. But he tells me he only sells delicate information to the British government. I get my skinny ass out of there. June and I head for KFC and buy a shitload of chicken. We head for the Shell and buy a shitload of cigarettes. I steal a packet of Nik Naks. I really hope my clepto tendency's not rearing its silly head.
Saturday, March 8
Wake early. Off for a two-day holiday up the West Coast with June and art historian Matthew Partridge. Do nothing. Braai kreef. Polish off a bottle of Jagermeister and a few bottles of vodka. Smash a few glasses and endure minor injuries. Pass out early. The sea breeze is great and makes me sleepy.
Sunday, March 9
Sleep in. It's been a tiring week. Get up and catch up on some work. We had planned to go to the beach (which I fucking hate), but luckily the air is thick with fog. We decide to go drinking at the 'ontspannings klub' instead. We down a few brandies, attempt a pathetic game of darts and socialise with the locals. We hook up with a guy called Mike and another guy who grows and sells baby tomatoes to Woolworths and Pick n Pay and happens to have a R700 000 Pierneef hanging above his fireplace. Mike starts talking about how much he hates Nelson Mandela and his support of the IRA and starts reminiscing about the good old days. Mike also said that his close friend will be released from 212-year prison sentence next year and will sort out all the mishaps of his trial. He is referring to Eugene de Kok. Nevertheless, we invite them to a late evening braai in good old Afrikaner politeness. But it all gets a bit heavy.
Monday, March 10
Get up at 6am. I need to be back in town for a 9am lecture. Push the Pajero a bit. Drink beer at the Labia Theatre and feel relaxed. We attend the Sharlene Khan opening at the AVA, but we are a bit late. Not much to say about the work. One can only ponder what exactly qualified her as a selector for Bell-Roberts' 100 Artists book. Go for dinner at Balducci's. Great Cajun chicken.
Wednesday, March 12
Lazy afternoon. I am drinking at the Kimberley Hotel with Jake Aikman and Dan Halter. I have a bit of work to do and retreat to my hotel room. I get an angry phone call from Aikman saying he has turned the car around to come fetch me for a drink at Jo'burg bar, but I refuse. He shouts some more and I walk downstairs. There are three people in the front of his Nissan bakkie and surfboards in the back. I turn around and walk upstairs. They get pissed off and speed away. I get into my own car and meet them at the bar. Everything goes pear-shaped. I end up in a big fight with June about a boy she wants to kiss.
Arrive at Joburg airport, bag full of tiny plastic Johnny Walker black bottles. My friend Ash, who had to pay for my ticket after a certain corporate had agreed to fly us up to perform in the city and subsequently decided we were not 'essential' performance artists, comes to pick me up.
Phone hot young artist Rowan Smith. He is at the Sandton Convention Centre and sounds tired. I find out shortly that this is because his camera and iPod have been stolen and he has been on the top of a scissor lift hanging his dot matrix printers all night. And now he is helping Julia Rosa Clark install her Lament. 'Help me', he says, 'Please.'
Thus, we drive all the way to Sandton to rescue Smith and painter Georgina Gratrix. We go to a bar called Pirate something. Or maybe something Parrot. They have what I am sure is a toucan as their logo. Some strangers at the bar ask me if I prefer cut or uncut penises. I can't breathe because of the general lack of air. It is raining.
Thursday, March 13
June kisses the boy. The Joburg Art Fair opens tonight.
Make my dear friend Ash drive me to Killarney mall at around 7am. I meet Robert Sloon slouching over his girlfriend's laptop at the Wimpy with bad bottomless coffee. We have breakfast and then go in search of a print shop to produce the Daily ArtHeat. We find our printers and tell them we will be there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning. The man smiles, nods and gives us his cell phone number so we can call him especially on Sunday to open. What a nice man.
The Art Fair is chaos. Recycled air, a lot of frantic people hanging boring work and João Ferreira's laptop has been stolen. One entire gallery's space is empty with a sign pinned on the wall about customs. The 'press booth' consists of two network cables (no computers or coffee) in a one meter-squared space. I leave Sloon and Lizza Littlewort and wander around being a journalist.
The opening party is boring. It takes us about an hour to find anyone even vaguely related to the arts amongst the investment bankers. We get very drunk and take funny photographs of Zen Marie. Later we go hard on Gin. 'Everyone' (Simon Njami) arrives. We leave and proceed to get drunk. Home very late. Still raining.
Friday, March 14
Wake up minutes after going to bed. Make Ash drive me to Killarney again. Wimpy. Layout. Panic. Rush to the printers where the printer guy says, 'I can see you guys are from Cape Town, you look like the people who clean our streets'.
Paper is printed and pretty and arrives as the fair starts at ten. High-fives all round. I escape into the darkness of Simon Njami's black box in the middle of the fair. Njami is lurking about in his sunglasses hanging work at the last minute.
Neither Sloon nor Littlewort were up late enough to appreciate my hangover so I stay most of the day inside the darkness of the curated show. At the press booth I run into Albano, an Angolan who I met once when he was here with Fernando Alvim for Sessions iKapa. I mistakenly mention this and he hisses under his breath, 'Do not mention that name in my presence'. He goes on to explain how he-who-must-not-be-named has destroyed the burgeoning contemporary art world in Luanda with his strange spending habits and general corruption. This is hardly surprising.
Write. Cough a lot due to allergy to Joburg and rain etc. Get home and watch Twin Peaks. Sleepy sleep.
Saturday, March 15
Wake 6.30am to finish article. Lizza Littlewort is to fetch me. Wait for Lizza. Wait some more. I get a 'phone call to say that Lizza has had an accident, driving through a red robot into a one way the wrong way. She drives what is left of the car to pick me up. We drive from Melville to Sandton in a car that cannot get out of first gear. As this is hopeless we stop at another hideous mall somewhere in the middle of Joburg. It is raining hard now.
Layout. Panic. We arrange a brand new car and arrive at the printers. It is closed and the man's 'phone is off. I truly hate him. Find another printer. Rush to the Convention Centre. Lizza runs me over. Speed inside and am excited to find Georgina Gratrix and Rowan Smith, thinking they will make everything better. George is really miserable because her gallery is angry with her because of something I wrote. Everyone hates me.
Sometime during the day there is a great Avant Car Guard performance at whatiftheworld, Praying for A Sale where they got a gospel choir to sing, circled around Geers' grave. Winner.
Go home. Eat Steers. Watch Twin Peaks.
Go to the Spier Contemporary opening at JAG. On arrival I am asked why I wasn't at the special artists' opening. Apparently all the artists were invited. We weren't. I find my collectivees in the basement and Bettina refuses to introduce me to Simon Njami. I am too embarrassed to show anyone what has become of our work so I get horribly drunk on good Spier wine. By the end of the evening Clive van den Berg and I are drinking out of the bottle. I find out that Clive has sold three editions of his giant rock men for R900 000 at the fair.
Go to the Floor party at the old Joburg Stock Exchange with Bianca Baldi and Ash. Bianca and I drink almost all of the free shots before anyone else arrives. Avant Car Guard are there and I become obsessed with interviewing them for tomorrow's paper. I follow them around, a lot (especially Zander, though everyone is following him around so it's possible he didn't notice). I get my interview eventually, they are brilliant and very very cool.
I gush a lot.
At some point in the night I remember someone like Crazee saying: 'No one takes my art seriously, they just all want to fuck me!'
I drink a lot more. I forget.
Sunday, March 16
Wake up between Ash and Robert Sloon with Littlewort knocking at the door. This is both confusing and painful. Get to a mall and sit in a silly breakfast place. I do realise I am still wearing my pyjamas under my jeans. My hands are shaking and I spell Avante Car Guarde in about ten different (all incorrect) ways throughout my article. Damn. Go to printer in Sandton. They take half an hour to not print our test paper. I get angry. Sloon gets angry with me for getting angry. I am very drunk.
The paper gets out. I have never been so happy to leave anywhere in my life. Tonight the Capetonians (Rowan, Georgina, Bettina, Renee, Sloon and Lizza) gather at the Bowling Club - one of Joburg's only redeeming features - and eat steak and drink beer. Adam Davies joins us and it is fun, particularly when a bizarre hippy joins our table and then sings 'Sexual Healing' to me while grinding his crotch on my shoulder.
Home. Cry. Leave (happy).
Thursday, March 20
Last day of school. I finish up a video workshop at Stellenbosch University. I am exhausted from a term of teaching and go for a sexy haircut.
Early Friday again at Jo'burg bar. Either I am getting old or the DJs just really suck. I think the latter. Partridge and I head out for dinner with June. We wait long and consume numerous shots of Jagermeister. More friends arrive. I am irritable and my legs are caving in. I hit my satin duvet at 11pm having wished all the kids luck in their pre-holiday bender.
I am rudely awoken. A bunch of reprobates enter my apartment. I am sleeping. I tell them all to fuck off. One does. The rest stay and drink all my alcohol. I am trying to get some rest. Eventually get them out of my shit hole and crash at 5am. So much for an early night.
Friday, March 21
Good Friday. Happy Easter. Not that I really care. Andrew Lamprecht and I had planned to go away to the beach for Easter - drinking-sleeping-eating-writing-holiday. It is my first day off in weeks and nothing gets me out of bed. We pick up June and hit the West coast road leaving all our friends behind yay. Matthew Partridge looks very sad. Arrive and get pissed with my folks. Nice braai as always.
Saturday, March 22
Awake in Yzerfontein with a mild hangover and bad sleep. Don't know why. I had a very bad dream all night long. Doug Gimberg and Christian Nerf were in it. They had tailored themselves uniforms with kind of swastikas of their own design. They had taken over the 2666 Studios and built a chicken wire playpen for the rest of us, and built a satanic machine sculpture in the remainder of the space. I raised some objections and was taken to a remote seaside town that resembled a strange but fascinating Margate/Venice combination, after being kicked in the face a few times.
I kept on escaping but they managed to track me down all the time. The town was impossible to escape. I bumped into my mother and she offered me a ride. Nerf and mini-me tracked us down and started shooting with a nine. Being a good 'boeremeisie' my mom pulled out the six-shooter from the side of the bakkie and hopped onto the bonnet. She fired a few rounds but was accidentally killed in the crossfire. I hid under the bakkie. I knew I would be dead soon and just closed my eyes. Doug tried to slit my throat but realised they needed information from me.
Look, this story is long and complicated, but they did put me in a live hunting match with eight other individuals. And their outfits looked ridiculous. It may have something to do with a 9.30am meeting we were having today in the studio about an upcoming studio show at Blank Projects. I was not informed of this meeting. It might have to do with the substantial amount of hard cash I still owe to the studio. But I am happy by the seaside Assholes.
Spend the rest of the day eating and catching up on some long overdue writing.
Sunday, March 23
Saturday, March 28
I have to install my brilliant new work at the AVA for Bettina Malcomess' show 'upstairs/downstairs'. The problem with the work is that it is in dire need of some physical computing and obviously does not work. And Ralph Borland is living and working in Ireland these days. I decide to hijack Dan Halter's work instead, as his is pretty pathetic. Halter's piece is a strip of red Dymo tape across the end wall of a space. And he has the space to himself. Problem is it just looks like a fucking squash court. In consultation with the curator we decide to have a game of squash in the space and leave beautiful ball and shoe marks on Halter's pristine white cube. It's not that clever but it is a lot of fun.
Halter gets word of this and rushes over. If not for the presence of Doug Gimberg, I was sure to have taken a blow to the face. Halter dramatically rips his work from the space and destroys the piece. He explains that he is a SERIOUS artist. I giggle.
Hours later, Halter punches me in the stomach. Hard.
Sunday, March 29
I wake up. My arm hurts from squash and my tummy hurts from violent blows.
Monday, March 30
The show opens at the AVA. It looks pretty crap. Halter tried to upset my piece but the attempt is pretty lame. The wine runs out in the first hour. Everybody leaves. Curators never learn. I am off to Balthazar at the V&A Waterfront. The steak is excellent.
Tuesday, April 1
In collab with the Gugulective, the second installment of the show happened in Gugs I am tired now and will stop writing. The Gugs show was good. The shebeen was good. The pc whites were pathetic. David Robert Lewis was there
Thursday, April 3
I receive a threatening email from my sub as usual. I am always late: 'If your diary doesn't contain up to the minute records of events seconds before you send it, it's late. To be on the safe side you should write into the future, I'd recommend'.