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Space Soon: Art and Human Space Flight, Roundhouse London 9-13 September 2006.

I went to the opening of this partly because I hadn't seen Jo Joelson and Bruce Gilchrist (aka London Fieldworks) for awhile. They are doing an ongoing performance/installation as part of "Space Soon" in which they crash out in pods during the day and do their waking stuff at night (reversing normal sleep patterns with the effects this has on them being monitored by a group of geneticists from Leicester University). Trouble was, once Jo and Bruce had finished sleeping on launch night, they got up and disappeared, so I didn't get to speak to them. There was also Aleksandra Mir's non-functional rocket built from junk inside the Roundhouse; and on an outside terrace a 'space on earth station' by Neil White and Danish architects NSS (which supposedly enables us to explore north London as if it was an alien environment). But mainly there was a shed load of free booze and people to talk to. I caught the suspended gravity performance (basically aerial acrobatics) by Isabel Rocamora, and spoke to her briefly afterwards. It took me about two hours to leave once I decided to go because it was impossible to get to the exit without running into dozens of friends and acquaintances; Ingrid Swenson, Gustav Metzger, Kodwo Eshun, Tony White, Sarah Andrew, Ken Hollings, Tom McCarthy, Mark Pilkington, Sarah Sutch, the entire Live Art Development Agency, Alastair Brotchie, Steve Beard, Kathelin Gray, Peter Blegvad, etc. And I knew Judith Palmer was somewhere in the crowd but I balked at the idea of calling her on her mobile, and in the spirit of psychogreography failed to meet her.

"Space Soon" reminded me of the many Association of Autonomous Astronauts (AAA) events I attended during the 1990s, but done with a budget the AAA never had. It's a shame members of the collectives who organised those AAA events weren't invited to participate in the talks and performances on offer this week at The Roundhouse. A lot of what was 'fringe' phenomena to the 1990s culture world is being hauled aboard the art establishment in revised form (and usually minus the actual instigators) at the moment – most notably 'psychogreographical' activity. Likewise, I was amused to see the levitation of a building become a central event in the Beijing Biennial this year (more than ten years ago I organised the levitation of The Pavilion Theatre during the Brighton May Festival in protest against a Stockhausen concert, the first reuse of this stunt since the Pentagon Protest of the sixties). And BTW: The Roundhouse itself has also been transformed into a dead posh arts centre, presumably reasonably close to what Arnold Wesker (boring British playwright) envisaged when he bagged the building for his (unrealised) Centre 42 project back in the sixties. Looking at the plush interior The Roundhouse has finally acquired, it's hard to believe that this was once the dump that for a brief period played host to the psychedelic cavortings of the UFO Club and in 1976 hosted The Ramones first London gigs (as support to The Flamin' Groovies). The new interior is an improvement on how it used to be, and if they can maintain the standard of past events, then the current management of this building will do us proud.

Thomas Hirschhorn (discussion)

Marine Hugonnier (review of 2008 London show)

Biggest Hayward Opening For Years (the Arts Council collection)

Saturday Nite In Shoreditch (an east London art scene social crawl)



Stewart Home topless photo by Chris Dorley-Brown

Stewart Home tells it like it is...