Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Check out the nails

Sebastian Horsley is a massive poser. I say that as something of an authority on the subject.

His written style is so mannered as to be unreadable and he dresses like something the bereaved parents of a 14 year old suicide might discover drawn on her pencil case. If you work in Soho, you may have seen him strutting around Meard Street, he would be the one in the two foot high stove-pipe hat. I believe he lives above the doorway with the "This is not a brothel. There are no prostitutes at this address" sign, which Self-harmers Weekly reproduced as part of their Sell Out Special a couple of years ago and can now be seen on the office doors of creative department secretaries all over London - this being exactly the sort of bawdy, will-you-won't-you-get-to-shag-me humour that creative secretaries seem to go for. The presence of the original sign is ironic because there are often, according to Horsley himself, several prostitutes at that address, with him.

I find the combination of very low production values and an extravagant costume budget in that film especially unnerving. There's also a moment in the section on soliciting prostitutes where he seems to be ad libbing (ie saying something he hasn't written down beforehand), and comes across like some kind of demonic youth television presenter. A friend of mine, who is a journalist, went to interview him and noticed that, in the course of their conversation, he had quoted Herodotus, Horace and Hughes. It then occurred to her that perhaps he'd just read the entries for H, in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, a suspicion which, when pressed, he could not deny.

Despite all this, I must admit to a grudging respect for the man, not wholly unrelated to his willingness to have himself crucified.

Having yourself nailed to a plank of wood is an unfakeable act. And, as such, realises Horsley's idea of transcendence - how can we escape the boundaries of ourselves and become something greater and more beautiful? He attempts to do this all the time by dressing like a paedophile trying to con his way into Fagin's gang, by only ever saying the same forty witty things, by styling himself as a libertine – none of these things work quite as well as letting a load of Filipinos nail you to a plank. The pain and the sordidness of it, the basketball vests, it's not something any normal person would do for the sake of an idea. And so, by doing it, he becomes something greater than a normal person.

It's my understanding that he then produced a series of crucifixion paintings – the first in the long history of such images to be painted by someone who had first-hand experience of the subject – regarded by the art-world as basically so-so.

This interests me, not just because watching an art-ponce being nailed to plank makes for the kind of compelling viewing that is exactly what the internet was made for, but because it seems that certain kinds of pain can turn an idea into a truth. Wars start as a conflict of ideas, the second stage is people shooting and stabbing one another in the neck, then at the end we know which idea was right and which was evil.

It should interest you because advertising is always trying to turn ideas into truths.

So when a brand manager says his brand is interested in preserving the environment, your response should be, yes, but are you prepared to be nailed to a fucking plank of wood in order to demonstrate that interest?

PS: I had coffee with the wonderful Proxikid last night, she said, "So what gives, you used to post every day and now you post like once a week," and I realised that the problem was that when I was at work writing this blog was an outlet for the parts of my personality which I could not express in a corporate context. Less of a problem in the kitchen you see, no one minds me posing in here, because they cannot see me.

PPS: I'm surprised no-one has said anything about the Gordonbot – that is a life-long ambition, to create a robot that will swear at people for me.


Anonymous said...

Horsley is a fucking dick. We're all doing him a dangerous favour by colluding in his fantasy of himself as interesting rather than basically the same arsehole everyone went out with when they were 19, before realising they were painfully dull black holes, who didn't even make up for it by being a good shag. K

Gordon Comstock said...

That's why I love you.

Anonymous said...

Tried the Gordonbot but it kept asking, "Tell me more". ha

Gordon Comstock said...

Yes, he's much better at keeping a conversation going than I am.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't that be "writing style"? (Or "the style of his written work".) I know how you're a bit of a stickler for good grammar... E

Gordon Comstock said...

Nope. That's the vernacular my dear.