1 Jan

This year the WordPress annual blog report has expressed viewing figures via the rather peculiar metric of “sold out performances at Sydney Opera House”, which I apparently did eleven times in 2013. Whatever I was performing there, it must have been rocking.

I’ll be doing some proper posts again in the new year, and also recording some more Artbollocks Theatre readings. In the meantime:

You can read my tip*, one of the top five of 2013 for Culture Pros in The Guardian. Spoiler: “pro” isn’t short for prostitute, but you do still need to pay us… somebody else’s top tip is to use cat, owl or bird hashtags so look forward to plenty of those in 2014.

Derren Brown is also mentioned. Don’t worry about it, just accept it.

* NB: Not a euphemism.



  • If you’re in the UK and you’re a blogger, a journalist, a commentator of any kind, or even if you just like twatting away on Twitter, then you can rejoice in the fact that from yesterday– the 31st December 2013– the Defamation Act 2013 came into force and henceforth prevents anybody from screeching defamation or libel every time they’re fairly criticised unless they can conclusively prove in advance that “serious harm” is being done by discussion of the matter at hand… so every single one of the people who’ve threatened me or other commentators in the past for expressing opinions and encouraging debate, or rumbled about legal action in an attempt to stifle dissent can now definitively and with the full backing of British law DO ONE. Critics of the art world, the Omerta era is over. Let’s make sure the gains made by the late, great Cathedral of Shit and their ilk aren’t reversed.
  • And finally, below you can check out some of the greatest hits and biggest shits of the past year from this blog. I was joined during my surprise 2013 Antipodean gigs by these top special guests:



Boo! COLOURBLIND KIDS TV PRESENTER CAPTAIN HOOK and THE GRINWITCH OF BOTOXIA– I beg your pardon, I mean “TOP TASTEMAKERS” SAMIR CERIC and ZOE KNIGHT of Debut Contemporary are the bumbling panto villains of this season, and every season. Boo! Look out, Wendy, they’re behind you!


One of the USA’s most exciting contemporary artists, BRENT.

"Can you tell what it is yet?"

ROLF HARRIS. [Joke about Two Little Boys]

C0085418 Shoichi KOGA, "Seitenmodoki" (Ganesha Nan






“Check out my street art and viral vid website,"




PS: #cats.


  1. Jeff 03/01/2014 at 9:46 PM #

    Does this new legislation protect you if you post any threatening emails people have sent you? Those might be quite interesting reading. Would you need to turn them into artworks to be covered?

    • Alistair 04/01/2014 at 2:19 PM #

      First, a warning to everyone that I am not a legal professional, just somebody with a reasonably good grasp of English and UK law, plus a small amount of training and experience in law as it relates to broadcast media and publishing. Treat everything I say on these subjects accordingly, as an informed opinion and nothing more. If you think you need professional legal advice then I suggest you get a lawyer.

      It depends what you mean by threatening, but I think the short answer is no. I’ve had anonymous (really anonymous, and “anonymous” but blindingly bloody obvious who they are, if probably unprovable) communications that are basically just “wah, it’s not fair, stop telling everybody how horrible I am/we are/they are”. Interestingly, not one of these people has ever said that I’m wrong in anything I’ve published, just that they don’t want bad publicity. And these kinds of butthurt messages have most definitely and demonstrably come all the way from the top of the arts funding and gallery infrastructure in Britain to me (although not just to me) and not just for things I’ve written here. QED… it just proves what many of us always say. They don’t want to do better, or be in dialogue, or serve the public, despite all their public access rhetoric. They just want everyone to keep quiet and let them keep riding the gravy train in peace. And the pusillanimous, self-defeating obsession that many artists have with not rocking the boat for fear of being blacklisted* is exactly what these bastards rely upon and cultivate. At least three different metaphors in the previous two sentences, sorry about that…

      (* Striking articulation of this very recently: a former employee of Charles Saatchi, testifying during the court case about Saatchi’s former wife Nigella Lawson’s assistants allegedly defrauding their employers. The former employee said few people in the art world would dare to say anything about– let alone against– Saatchi because it was widely believed to be “career suicide.” Hello! Maybe she reads this blog. Incidentally, does this seem right or sane to anybody? That the mere non-critical mention of facts about certain people is seen as a terrifying transgression?)

      I have already published or directly referred to requests for corrections, legal threats, blackmail attempts or pleas to take down content. I’ll continue to do so in cases where I think it will de-escalate or neutralise these threats, rather than further publication making things worse, validating the threatener’s self-importance and bullying attitude, and/or serving the threatener’s cause more than it helps artists and the general public. Increasingly I have very well-placed informants whose continued anonymity allows them and myself to keep feeding out information. I retain such proof of any allegations these people make as might be needed if I/they were challenged on it, and I clearly characterise the allegation as unsubstantiated, relatively well supported, or solid to the best of my knowledge. I’m a blogger, not a journalist, but like a journalist there are cases in which not directly publishing material and protecting my sources is the best option in the service of telling the story.

      It is my understanding that– and this applied before and after the recent change in law– by definition it cannot be libellous or slanderous to publish a person’s own unedited, unaltered words since a person cannot legally defame themselves or take themselves to court for defaming themselves. The truth is never slanderous, however unpleasant or inconvenient that truth may be. Although as we all know, in countries such as the USA who have totally out of control litigation, individuals, businesses and even the government can and frequently do use the law indiscriminately and immorally as a tool to prevent the publication of everything from valid criticism to the reporting of atrocities.

      Despite those silly, blustering disclaimers that some people put on their emails (“this email is for the recipient only and may not be reproduced” etc…) and although good manners and common decency may preclude it, I’m aware of no British law that prevents anybody from publishing anything that is sent to them via any unsecured medium, whether it be an email, a letter, a (public @) tweet or a text, unless they have knowingly entered into a specific written contract not to do so, such as might be a condition of employment in certain places, for example. Is anyone aware of such a legal obstacle? The Data Protection Act and its related legislation grants us the right to access any information held about us by companies or government bodies, so there’s some presumption that we “own” our communications in UK law, but this isn’t the same as us having the right to prevent other people from making use of things we ourselves have sent through an unsecured channel. Leave a comment if you know more about it.

      What the 2013 Act has changed is the threshold for somebody being allowed to proceed with a legal case, so as to discourage wanton use of defamation laws (or the threat of legal action) as a muzzle for the truth, USA style. This restores some degree of the original purpose of these laws, i.e. genuinely preventing damage to a person’s reputation, life or livelihood from the malicious publication of falsehoods. A person who wishes to legally thwart freedom of expression must now prove in advance that “serious harm” will be done to them by the publication, in addition to the existing provision that the publication was a knowing, malicious and deliberate falsehood intended to cause harm, or published with the expectation and/or likelihood that it would cause harm. The change in law is at least in part intended to send a message that a person merely saying something you don’t like is not defamation, so people will no longer be allowed to waste court time and stifle fair comment by claiming it is.

      • Alistair 04/01/2014 at 2:20 PM #

        Wow, this comment is longer than the article.

      • Jeff 05/01/2014 at 10:16 PM #

        ‘despite all their public access rhetoric.’

        Yes, one wonders. Public access and outreach seem to amount to ‘education’ and ‘regeneration’ and other categories stipulated by funding bodies. Isn’t it there to dissolve any criticism of ivory towers, remoteness and irrelevance to everyday life? And isn’t accessibility about making as much reference as possible to mass culture (but with ironic and knowing overtones to suggest being above it all)?

        Just learning the lingo here.

        Looks like you’ve got a post possible in your reply there. It’d make for good public service.

      • Alistair 06/01/2014 at 10:53 AM #

        There are honourable exceptions but in the UK at least, my experience is that many arts organisations, quangos and individuals in the publicly funded arts sector either tacitly or blatantly do think art and artists really are only here to serve as social engineering tools for top-down, politically motivated education and regeneration agendas. Unless of course art and artists are just about making money. It seems never to occur to them that there might be equally valid intermediate positions, or equally valid positions entirely outside of the public/commercial dichotomy*. A corollary of this attitude is that they find it intensely incomprehensible and annoying when artists show any independence of thought or agenda, don’t do what we’re told, “rock the boat” or are otherwise seen to undermine the instrumentalist view of artists as blunt tools for placating social problems.
        Many artists (including me) think we have a responsibility towards the communities we live and work in, towards our audiences, and towards society as a whole. But nobody should assume that is the only purpose for an artist or their work to exist.

        * Actually it’s not so binary, since public galleries throughout the world frequently collude with commercial galleries to drive up prices and drum up custom for certain artists; for example, by scheduling retrospectives of old work “coincidentally” at the same time as private, for-sale exhibitions of new work. Or vice versa. A specific (but far from isolated) recent example:

  2. Alistair 08/01/2014 at 3:21 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

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