Vostok5 – Art and Music about People and Animals in Space
The Outside World Gallery, September 1-8 2011
This isn’t the world’s first ever time of cultural pessimism. It’s just that this one is ours, so by definition we cannot see beyond it. Which in turn makes it seem all the more intriguing to look back on the last time humanity fancied itself as going onward and upward, to the Moon and beyond.
Now that even the last Space Shuttle has flown and delivered its final payload while the obscene idea of private space travel for billionaires has been the ideologically bankrupt 21st century’s aptly pathetic answer to the Cold War period’s Space Race, the utter belief in progress of those who put on the first spacesuits seems naïvely, even tragically heroic; or simply tragic in the case of the dogs who were sacrificed as space pioneers for humankind’s utopian follies.
Space travel in general is certainly a hell of a powerful metaphor, but admittedly there wasn’t much talk about the wider socio-political subtext when the Vostok5 first got together this spring.
– Darren Hayman, who came up with the idea of assembling a group of likeminded artist/musicians to create a joint musical/artistic work.
His idea of using animals and people in space as a common theme of the project hasn’t come out of the blue: Hayman has conceived a whole as-yet-unreleased album about astronauts, while one of the most evocative songs he wrote for his old band Hefner (included on the current reissue of their 2001 album “Dead Media”) was named after and written about Alan Bean, the fourth man on the Moon, who is also a painter and has spoken to Darren about his experiences of space from an artist’s viewpoint on two occasions.
Only last year, Darren explored just about all there is to say about the connections between music and space travel in an exhaustive feature he wrote for Art & Music magazine, accompanied by his own illustration. Look it up online:
Hayman designs all his record covers himself, mostly in a cartoonist’s style and sells prints of his work alongside his music. His video for the song “Calling Out Your Name Again” follows the process of drawing, rubbing out and redrawing a series of images on a single piece of cardboard.
Darren’s last major project was “January Songs”, an album of 31 solo songs and collaborations, each of which was written and recorded, blogged and doodled about and turned into rough-and-ready video clips in the space of just one day. Which makes Vostok5 seem like a doddle by comparison.
– Sarah Lippett and Duncan Barrett both work as graphic designers and illustrators under their collective pseudonym Crayonlegs, as well as publishing their own zine Tight Fit and exhibiting in galleries across the UK.
Crayonlegs’ list of clients past and present includes The New York Times, The Guardian, Time Out, Stool Pigeon, Plan-B magazine and Wichita Records.
Sarah plays the bass and sings in the band Fever Dream, featuring two members of the now defunct Esiotrot.
Duncan plays guitar and sings in Esiotrot’s other spin-off band Tigercats who have recently released their third single “Banned at the Troxy” on a beautiful Duncan-designed picture disc.
– Paul Rains‘ first taste of public exposure came late last century when Channel 4 showed one of his painstakingly drawn and painted, surreally melancholic animation shorts.
Since then he has been playing guitar in the highly successful Allo Darlin’, who have just recorded their second album, as well as his original band Hexicon, whose album “The Blossom Sighs” was one of last year’s most unforgivably overlooked treasures. Paul also designs Hexicon’s gorgeous posters and record sleeves.
– Robert Rotifer, Viennese-born songwriter, pop correspondent, radio DJ and festival curator, has painted the artwork for all his six albums, including his first UK release “The Hosting Couple”, due out on Edwyn Collins’ soon-to-be-launched new label AED Records this October.
Rotifer also illustrated the animated video to his song “The Frankfurt Kitchen” about pioneering 1920s architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, which was exhibited in 2009 at Hamburg’s Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe and in 2010/11 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, who recently acquired the video for their permanent collection.
The Vostok5 all work in different styles, but it is probably no coincidence that they all like to express themselves figuratively. After all they choose to make music in song format as well.
The Vostok5’s collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints exhibited at the Outside World gallery will be accompanied by a compilation album of exclusive tracks written around the theme of space travel, featuring solo performances as well recordings by the artists’, i.e. their respective bands.
The Vostok5 have been documenting their voyage to the Outside World in video, picture and writing on their blog. http://vostok5.tumblr.com
The private view at The Outside World gallery on 44 Redchurch St will take place on September 1, 7.30pm
On the Saturday afternoon there will be another get-together with some acoustic performances of songs from the Vostok5 album.
The Vostok5 will reconvene on September 21, 7pm for a fundraiser gig to support the album and exhibition at The Wilmington Arms, 69 Rosebery Ave, Clerkenwell, EC1 4RL featuring Tigercats, Hexicon, Darren Hayman, Rotifer and Fever Dream.
The Outside World Gallery