The Attic Archive at the Cupar Arts Festival

The Cupar Arts Festival went head to head with The Frieze Art Fair once again this year, and for me there was no contest in terms of prioritising one over the other. I headed out of London and away from Frieze to Cupar in Fife (Scotland). The main attraction was The Attic Archive on at The Y (Marathon House, Bonnygate, Cupar, Fife KY15 4LG). The Attic is a private space on Dundee’s Union Street that has been an international centre for marginal art collaborations since the early 1970s; the Cupar Arts Festival exhibition provides a rare chance for the general public to get a sense of what’s been going on there all that time.
On display is a slew of works by malcontents ranging from international  mail artists like David Zack and Carlo Pittore, via oppositional Scottish painters/sculptors such as Karen Strang and Andy Stenhouse to erm, people from London like Stefan Szczelkun and me! A lot of the material is in the medium of print and short run cassettes/CDrs (indeed some are one-offs), but there are also remnants from performances (including a hat set on fire by legendary American Neoist John Berndt, who was wearing it at the time it burnt,  and clothes worn by Pete Horobin during his 10 year Data Project).
Causing intense excitement are a series of washing powder boxes (Lux, Ariel and Drive) that had housed the soap Pete Horobin used to clean his clothes during the 1980s. They bring back memories of old commodity packaging, and are a hot topic of conversation among visitors. The soap boxes are displayed on the top of various sets of industrial shelving, while beneath are hundreds of publications that can be picked up and read; and there is an armchair sprayed gold and painted with the name ‘Monty Cantsin’ in which visitors can settle and peruse some very obscure magazines and catalogues.
Peter Haining is on hand to talk about all this material, and will play any of the hand assembled CDrs or cassettes on display, if requested to do so. He also made me a pot of tea when I demanded one about two minutes after walking in – and it came in a Lotte Glob teapot. This environment and the work it houses clearly emerge from fluxus and conceptual art, and might more correctly by labelled as neoist, but some visitors will also see in it a reflection of post-slacker aesthetics. That said, the room was freshly painted, carpeted and well heated (all in all very comfortable)… even if the packaging used to transport everything is on display too! Make sure you don’t miss this show (on until 25 October, closed Mondays) because it is a rare opportunity to dig into the international anti-art underground of the 1970s, 1980s and beyond; and it will take you in even deeper than the recent and current London retrospectives of Ray Johnson and Gustav Metzger!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Simon on 2009-10-14 10:42:53 +0000

I was going to travel up from London but I’ve just noticed my British Rail special offer ticket from Persil isn’t valid after March 31st 1984.

Comment by Zen Master K on 2009-10-14 11:00:27 +0000

The belief that one has become the ‘open pop star’ Monty Cantsin is a rare side-effect of botulism.

Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-10-14 11:47:08 +0000

So this explains why you blew me out on our Scientology Centre date last night, you’d left town.

Comment by This Is Not Pete Horobin on 2009-10-14 11:56:32 +0000

I disappeared in the direction of the north pole nearly 20 years ago. Neoism Now!

Comment by Old Rope on 2009-10-14 12:11:39 +0000

Your prima donna tendencies are on display once again, Trip, Lotte Glob teapot and a golden chair to sit in please! I hope the basket of kittens in your dressing room was to your liking as well…

Comment by Monty Cantsin on 2009-10-14 13:31:25 +0000

I farted and blew Istvan Kantor outta my ass.

Comment by The Bootleg Bob Dylan on 2009-10-14 14:05:51 +0000

I wish I could be a real hipster like these motherfuckers, instead of a Christian flake!

Comment by The Real One on 2009-10-14 14:55:24 +0000

Plastic man, just plastic!

Comment by Sammy Marshall’s Fake Sun Tan on 2009-10-14 15:35:41 +0000

Neoists make me horny, oh so horny, me so horny…..

Comment by The Fake Fiona Banner on 2009-10-14 16:51:09 +0000

I prefer my Neoism with coffee!

Comment by Scotch Alex on 2009-10-14 17:30:08 +0000

Plenty good gear in all those small Scottish market towns these days… but I got the best deals… sssshhhhhhhh!

Comment by I. on 2009-10-14 19:28:25 +0000


Comment by Z on 2009-10-14 22:54:40 +0000

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, it’s a slumber party!

Comment by janet janet on 2009-10-15 03:13:42 +0000

cry in your teapots neobabies….

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-10-18 17:19:51 +0000

Sounds interesting. What material of yours was in the archive/exhibit? Did you get a chance to check out any of the other installations or events?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-10-20 16:27:06 +0000

There were various things related to me, a load of sound work, including my recent contribution to Stefan Szczelkun’s radical tunes project… But also some nice examples of me in Pete Horobin’s cut photo’s series, where you get half one face and half another….There were also a bunch of publications relating to me… But there was much relating to hundreds of people….

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