Wednesday, March 10, 2010


As a break from the ongoing first-draft death march, went down to the Gagosian gallery in King's Cross last Saturday, to see Crash, an homage to JG Ballard. All Ballard's tropes - high rises, autopias, crashed aeroplanes, clinical depictions of sex, a strong dash of surrealism - were present. I particularly liked three strong photographic pieces: Cyprian Galliard's A View of Sighthill Cemetery, Florian Maier-Aichen's Untitled (Freeway Crash), and Tacita Dean's Teignmouth Electron, Cayman Brac (Ballard). Also Jane and Louise Wilson's video installation, Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard, with its Kubrickian glides and pans of ruins of the Soviet space-age, and Roger Hiorns's Untitled, a pair of car engines encrusted with copper sulphate crystals (geddit?). Overall, though, I came away with the feeling that the term 'Ballardian' is in danger of becoming so diffuse as to lose any focus or edge it might once have. All high-rises aren't really 'Ballardian', are they? Surely only the ones in which feral yuppies grill joints of dead dog on their high-end barbecue kettles really count . . .

Across the road from the gallery was a car park on a piece of waste ground, something increasingly less common in London thanks to the property boom (although the current slump might reverse that). And in the middle of the car park was this brick shaft, like a steampunk missile silo, or the entrance to some forgotten subterranean kingdom. My faith in Ballard's visions of cities fatally infected with entropic dis-ease was instantly restored.

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