"Nonstop imagery is our surround, but when it comes to remembering, the photograph has the deeper bite....
In an era of information overload, the photograph..is like a quotation, or a maxim or proverb."
(Susan Sontag: Regarding the Pain of Others 2003)

13 September, 2008

Arty Party of the Year - & I was invited….

Model for Gehry Pavilion at Serpentine Gallery 2008
This image copyright Gehry Associates

Yes, it’s true. The unfeasibly heavy red envelope fell through the door a few weeks ago. To be honest, I was half-expecting it. Even though the powers that be at the Serpentine Gallery scraped our names off the proper patrons’ wall a couple of years ago, why would they even dream of taking us off the mailing list? Some people are prepared to pay good money for that kind of data.

So we were invited. By Dasha herself, no less. That’s Daria Zhukova to you, Founder, the Garage, Center (sic) for Contemporary Culture, Moscow. She has pleasure in inviting us to The Summer Party on Tuesday 9 September 2008 7pm-midnight. Her generous co-hosts included: Lord Palumbo, Tim Jeffries, Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Funny that, the invitation didn’t actually mention whether or not Dasha’s bloke was going to be meeting and greeting by her side. You might have heard of him, fellow Russian, not short of a rouble or two either, name of Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC and a recent graduate to the hallowed circles of very serious art collectors. Abramovich was eventually revealed as the mystery buyer who snapped up Francis Bacon’s 1976 Triptych and Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping for an eyewatering, record-breaking total of £60 million in New York in May this year.

In the Times Magazine today, James Collard has penned an elegantly written but frustratingly, less than illuminating interview with the oligarch’s 27-year-old girlfriend, designer and now art mogul. It’s an engaging read although there are few revelations, most notably about Abramovich’s recent conversion to contemporary art. But, as Collard points out, he wouldn’t be the first very rich man to move on from buying yachts and houses to acquiring art. The article is illustrated by a characteristically sleek portrait by Jude Edginton. You can read the piece itself by clicking here:

Well, I can’t say I wasn’t tempted at the prospect of an evening gazing upon Frank Gehry’s small but perfectly formed urban promenade itself (see above). The fractured glass and timber amphitheatre has turned out to be one of the most successful in the recent series of temporary pavilions. It remains in situ outside the Gallery in Kensington Gardens until October 19th.

But then I read the small print. Tickets, restricted to two applications per invitation, were priced at £400 – each. That was £200 per individual ticket with a “suggested” charity donation of £200 per ticket – the donation going straight to help fund Dasha’s Moscow-based Garage Center. Now I like to think of myself as a reasonably philanthropic individual but somehow, I just couldn’t see myself donating £400, ostensibly to further the latest enthusiasm of another post-Soviet heiress. Besides the weather forecast for west London last Tuesday was really pretty dismal.