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Brown Mountain College, ICA, London 04/08/15

From:     Jesse McKee
Category: Art
Date:     04 August 2008
Time:     08:04 PM


With a groaning sense of humor and one liners, the trio forming the group Brown Mountain College, presented a rather taxing 
series of talks, experiments and events. It was introduced with a short history of the fictional institution, modeled after such 
influential schools such as... wait for it... the Black Mountain College.  Then an older man, representing the professor emeritus, 
gave a lecture  which consisted of a tattooed girl with ruby red shoes and very long hair performing giant origami, a mild 
mannered chap pretending to be a doggy paw reading specialist, and closing with a third woman doing a series of science 
experiments based on states of matter. Pretty basic stuff right, I think that was the point. 

The Giant Origami
A trial to sit through this girl's performance, as she folded huge pieces of paper and could not hold the audiences attention.  We 
all started to yell out what we thought she was making: swan, crane, pigeon, boat, suicide note..... none of the above...a very 
floppy rendition of Stalin's face in the end, supposedly. 

The Doggy Paw Reading
As they brought out four pure breads I whispered to my friend sitting next to me, one of the classic rules of show biz, "never work 
with animals live". Boy was I right. There was a camera positioned on the floor used to zoom in on the paws for an overhead   
overhead. Instead it captured one of the dog's growing erections, like lipstick slowly getting screwed out of its tube. 

The Science Experiments
Rather flashy science experiments based around states of matter, using liquid nitrogen, UV light, time lapse video, high speed 
camera footage, etc etc. Everything you'd see on a popular mechanics for kids program. Apparently it was about making us 
more coherent  to what all the things are that surround us. It kind of fell on deaf ears since it's a crowd of artists and art world 
hangers on, so I think we're well tuned into the materiality of stuff, things and such.

As soon as the matter experiment closed, the professor started to talk about a giant ball of string, at which point I got up and left 
the theatre.  I can't unfortunately tell you all how it ended, maybe by killing itself off. This would have been the only humane 
thing to do.

All in all, it was another disappointing night of the ICA's too well groomed selection of emerging artists from the UK & Ireland, as 
part of their Naught to Sixty program.  I ask myself why I keep returning to these sedated monday night sessions, and I can only surmise that it's the only place in town that night I get a free drink.

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