Thundering through the desert on horseback being chased by a pack of wild dogs. We had been riding along the edge of the desert where it meets the lush growth from the Nile. When a pack of about twenty dogs broke out of the vegetation, wild or feral, who knows, the horses were walking, our guide shouted, and started his horse into a gallop, mine leaped forward from walking to a gallop and I looked behind at my friend, luckily his horse followed suit as he had never ridden before, I saw him grip the saddle with his hands. The dogs were running towards us at a tangent, the nearest were almost on top of us and leaped at our legs saliva dripping from their jaws, trying to pull us from the horses. We headed out into the rolling dunes of the Sahara thundering on, with the pack chasing, my friend swearing and my laughter mixing with the thundering of the horses and the snarling of the dogs, laughing with the exhilaration, joy and pure pleasure of existence…
This is a part from of series of stories I am writing, or attempting too, a book of my travels, when after being at art school for a year. I left and flew to meet a friend I had known from school who was travelling around the Mediterranean, I left London with £100 and a flight ticket, and the best part of a year later we were in Egypt. Well and other stories from my life… for I apparently have lead a life less ordinary. I have known, artists, actors, film stars, writers, poets, pop stars, fashion designers, cultural theorists, fashion models, musicians, contemporary dancers, I suppose for want of a better word, the aristocracy at times, DJ’s, etc… The list goes on… And maybe I should add, and most importantly, people with beautiful hearts and minds. Looking back I was very lucky to be able to travel round the Mediterranean with a friend and the places and people we met, luck, personality, good intentions towards others, which meant it was reciprocated by those we met.
In my second year at art school I was sitting in a bar in Camden with a friend, sharing a table with a woman and man we didn’t know, I ended up in a long conversation with the woman, how long I am not sure, she was a musician, we were talking about art, music and many other things. Eventually I said to her, should I know who you are, I never know who I am talking to most of the time, she replied you might know of me and said her name, at the time she was one of the most famous pop stars in Britain and maybe the world I don’t know, but it made me laugh at the time, her too, and still does now, because she was extremely nice, rather lovely on the eye, and wonderful to talk to, me and my friend left the bar and I never saw her again. I never saw her again. I have had many conversations like that before and many more after in my life… Why who knows… I rarely speak of them, or even tell people what I do, though circumstance has changed that, which I might not be too happy with, because I like living and travelling anonymously… and always have done… Though a number of very well respected art critics and art theorists and various other people, use to think, when I was at art school and after I left, and after… That I might be one of the great artists of the world.. which has always amused me, as I have trouble taking things like this seriously, though I have known some, spoken to some and exhibited with some… some that is of the most famous artists in the world… But I always leave… I am also revising a book of my art, writing and photography, as the first draught I knew wasn’t quite right… A few bits of the writing which shouldn’t have been in it and expanding other parts…
A photograph from that ride, desert crossing, I am on the middle shadow of horse and rider taking the photograph, our guides horse in front and my friends behind. A photograph with text, the text is by myself, it is a photograph, a lightbox, and an art installation; with the image projected onto a wall, the text, sand on the floor of the space it is shown in and the sound of the desert wind. This was the first art installation I made, why maybe it is the on the page first.
There is a particular kind of beauty travelling in a sand desert for, grain by grain, the wind and sand obliterate all signs of your passing.
The art piece is about crossing the desert, the piece is about photography, the piece is photographic theory, the piece is about life.
I am an artist, I make art installations, I am a sculptor, I am a painter, I work with video, film, sound, image, text, I write, I write theory, I write what I call poetic text and some call poetry, though even my poetic text or poetry is also theory or one might prefer philosophy. My art, I have been told is visual philosophy. I am also a photographer. I am or have been and might again be a fashion photographer, I have worked with some of the biggest and best fashion modelling agencies in the the world, as, so they said they liked me and loved my fashion photography. Strangely enough even as a fashion photographer some seemed to think I might be potentially one of the great fashion photographers. An old friend of Helmut Newtons, who was also the fashion stylist for some of his books. After seeing my 5th fashion shoot asked me to contribute, shoot for his magazine, which at the time had Ellen Von Unwerth, Karl Lagerfeld among others contributing and shooting for it. All the others who shot for the magazine when I searched, were shooting campaigns for Prada, Gucci, all the major French and Italian fashion houses.
This is the title image from the book on my art, writing and photography I am currently revising. It shows the head component from my multi-component art installation, 6 sculpture components in all, Smiths Empire. It is called Smiths Empire, because Smith is an everyman name, alias Smith and Jones, Smiths Empire is about all men. The books second part of the title is; As we struggle to language; fragments. For we are all incomplete whatever to the contrary we might think, believe or assert, we all have fault lines running through our being. Jones Empire is the female version.
This is a double page spread from my book, I thought I would insert this here as it is to do with why I started writing poetic text again. I wrote this two days after getting a phone call in 2007 telling me an old friend, writer, poet and university lecture that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in time, had committed suicide. It upset me very much, a lot of people seemed to decide to leave that year, some of who I had met. When I first met him, it was through the first woman I lived with, a contemporary dancer and another woman her friend. They said you must meet pin-up Pete, they called him that because he did look like a pin-up, six foot tall, blonde crinkly hair, piercing blue eyes, a beautiful man in many senses of the word. I think the first thing I said to him was, I hear you are a pipe and slippers man, he laughed and said and a roaring log fire. He often wore a Greek fishermans cap back to front. I am not sure from the image how easy it is to read the text. The text reads;
Never think we are anything except fragile beings, no matter the illusions we create. The slightest resonance can cause a rupture, to shatter ourselves through time and space, to scatter to the darkest places, to fall in to despair, sometimes never to return.
I am a stream of consciousness writer so I have been told, I rarely go back re-write or edit my writing, though on here I am, so hopefully it is coherent. I placed this particular piece here to explain why, though I have written on and off a lot of my life, why I started writing a large body of poetic text. It wasn’t a conscious decision. But when you loose someone in your life, you often take on certain attributes to keep part of them alive in your mind and out in the world. I have lost many people on many roads through life.
I probably should mention all the images, photography, words, pieces of text, are mine, produced by me and my copyright, except of course the quotes. I mention this as several people who have read some of my art book, they often say you did this, did you really write this.
People often ask why I leave, why I originally left when I was so highly thought of by some of the most renowned art critics and art theorists of the time. Which is why thinking about it, but who can say why they do things exactly, I wrote this.
Again, as I am not sure how easy it is to read the text from the image, here it is;
I even know what thought was in my eyes then… & what my future could be… and unlike most people faced with that choice… I left rather than stayed… as I have done since… For even at that early age, an awareness, that to choose to stay would have meant to live one life… for to cross that line and be, would be, to deny all other possibilities in the world & of being… for if I was and am truly what most people thought… then I could be that at anytime.
“I was assailed by memories of a life that wasn’t mine anymore, but one in which I’d found the simplest and most lasting joys…..”
“The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth”
and in Camus am I not transported back to that tender age of 13 to 14… between climbing trees & clubbing… when I became bored with school & the silly things people use to talk about… and those pretty girls wanting to surrender their secret to me… when instead of working in my maths class I use to watch the seagulls circle… and dream of distant lands and the words of Sartre & Camus… and the world unfolded & opened to me of all the possibilities of being and thought and doing…
“Writings scatter to the winds blank checks in an insane charge. And were they not such flying leaves, there would be no purloined letters…” Jacques Lacan
Two quotes from Albert Camus and one from Jacques Lacan, mixed with my writing. The photograph is one of me from about the time of the desert crossing. This was written several years ago.
And yes I was reading Camus and Sartre when I was 13 or 14 or maybe even 12, plus a whole host of other authors, one of my older brothers had boxes of books, that as I began to find school boring and not particularly stimulating, though I was in nearly all the top groups for most of my subjects. And the only reason not all because some teachers refused to have me in their class. Thinking of it no one ever called me a geek or a swat, because I wasn’t, and as mentioned I was clubbing from about 14 in clubs, very cool clubs full of professional dancers, models, art students, designers… small cool clubs. Where I danced and talked and laughed, with dancers dancing on rollerblades, roller-skates and telling what pop videos they had been in, and of course filled with gorgeous women. As by about 15 most thought me 19 or 20, which was fun and funny, and got me into some amusing situations. And as for the girls at school, well I went out with one when I was 15, for a short time, which wasn’t very interesting, I much preferred the woman I met out clubbing, 20 and upwards.
And back to reading, between clubbing and reading, by the time I was 16 I had read so many classics, contemporary classics and such a wide breathe of genres without really quite knowing I had read many of the great authors. One of the problems this caused me, reading all these great books, both at the time and through life, was expecting people to be much more complex, interesting, intelligent and sophisticated than they are in general. I was always surprised how few people can dance that well. Though enjoying dancing is the most important thing.
Poetic text or poetry. Well I remember someone saying it doesn’t rhyme, it made me wonder have many people read poetry, well contemporary poetry or even prose. Also this I wrote several years ago and again is in my book of art.
Another double page from my book on my art. The Angel Of History. The photograph is from one of my fashion shoots, the second fashion shoot I ever did, the model is from Models1.
The text of The Angel Of History, as again I am not sure how easy it will be to read from the image;
The Angel Of History
The angel of history flies backwards…
from the future to the past,
always facing the future,
and has seen all the devastation of the world,
but is silent mute unable to speak.
Silent forgotten speeding through time,
with the tears of Eros running down its cheeks,
Thrashing in its and the worlds pain,
trying to blind itself but unable,
and has neither the solace of love or sleep,
for sweet love and sweet sleep cannot touch it,
As time cannot… the only sustenance it receives,
are those few moments of mankind’s creations,
of art, love, beauty, thought and dreams,
for even dreams it is not allowed,
just an eternity of seeing.
Forever sailing through the winds and storms of time…
11th March 2011 © ® Russell Hand Artist
The poetic text or poetry, references, a painting by Paul Klee, writing by Walter Benjamin, a book by Bataille, references no more, well plus a few other things. I thought I would mention this, though I thought it would be obvious, not many people get that part of this piece of writing by me. O I am not going to be publishing all the book on here, as though I am revising the first draft, it is in print, the smell and tactile nature of paper, a book.
But if you understand nothing else, understand there is still beauty and light in the world. This spaceship Earth our home. Mother Earth for all her peoples.
Cooperation not conflict.
Struggling towards a better more benevolent future for us all, together.
This planet, this spaceship Earth, Gia, is at the latest estimates 4.54 Billion years old. Almost a third of the age of the universe. We are currently in the Phanerozoic age, which is merely the last one-ninth of this time period. Dinosaurs dominated the planet this spaceship Earth for 300 Million years, with the extinction of most about 66 Million years ago. Birds maybe being the last descendants.
The ascent of humans.
Humans; (Homo Sapiens) Latin for Wise Person. Anatomical modern Homo Sapiens in Africa from about 200,000 years ago. With a branch leaving Africa 60,000 years ago.
I am an atheist, I grew up that way and still am, which is why I like this quote from Camus;
“I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms. What I touch, what resists me — that I understand. And these two certainties — my appetite for the absolute and for unity and the impossibility of reducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle — I also know that I cannot reconcile them.” Albert Camus
Because who knows the answer and as I have said it must be nice to have a belief that something is watching over us, I don’t, but if other people do, and build ceremonies, that is all part of culture, society, and has been through history. Christmas, a happy time. But just not extremes of belief, things taken too far. Our family, Homo Sapiens, the human race is in it’s infancy, we have hardly begone, it would be good to give ourselves a chance to grow up. To find out all the possibilities of all the things we could be, and the wondrous positive things we could do. We need to look after our home, this spaceship Earth and each other. We might not be able to make a perfect world but we can struggle towards a better more benevolent and thoughtful world for everyone.
”I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” George Bernard Shaw
Then people should read The Odyssey and maybe more than once or even twice. Then again repetition. The spaceship Earth, Gia, how fragile she is, the Sun and the moon. Their copyright. And something beautiful to watch and try to understand over Xmas.
Gia spaceship Earth, beautiful
An Odyssey, a struggle. A beautiful struggle of hope.
The Sun, Helios in ancient Greek.
Possibilities, possibilities for the future, opening spaces of the mind and ideas, that is what I am trying to talk about, positive spaces and ideas, for the world. This spaceship Earth. Though maybe I haven’t been doing the best of jobs conveying that, writing about that. All the things we are, could be the incredible potential of everyone. All the things we could do for our planet and by that ourselves and future generations. Ways of generating power other than fossil fuels or nuclear. Creative imaginative intelligent ways to move forward, as I am sure not many want to go back to another dark age. Something seems to have gone wrong with the trajectory of our cultures. Unless I am mistaken, there seems to be more and more forces and negative destructive ideas tearing things apart.
My art, my writing is suppose to open up possibilities for the future, good possibilities for all. Opening up positive spaces of thought, ideas, imagination, creativity, contemplation, cooperation.
But all future post will be here; just on the off chance anyone does ever read this… my art, writing: poetic texts, philosophy, cultural theory and my photography;
My art website;
My poetry book is here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/to-have-fascination-things/id1166052324
My photography book is here: itunes.apple.com/gb/book/odysseys-travels-with-a-camera-through-space-and-time/id1183644709
My art book I made and then revised while travelling in Greece then back in London in 2015 of my art; which includes examples of my art, sculpture, writing, painting, photography, poetry etc is now in The Tate Gallery special archive of artist books, which is an archive of all the artists books made by artists that The Tate Gallery have acquired through their history. Artists including the late Barbara Hepworth have artist books in the special archive in The Tate Gallery. The Tate Gallery is the main museum of art for Great Britain (United Kingdom) and is on the same level as galleries like The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.
Link to my artists book in The Tate special archive of artists books. The Tate is the national museum for historic and contemporary art in the UK My artists book
When I was featured on MySpace, though I had not used it for a few years, I had like everyone else left my profile on there… and nearly every famous fashion photographer in the world had their profile on there and left it as I did. Including all the world famous British and British based photographers that shoot for British Vogue, all the Vogues around the world, i-D, Another Magazine, W Magazine, Self Service, Exit etc etc… and also having 10,000’s of other photographers and out of all of them, they asked to feature me to kick off the British photographers, even though I said I was not sure… They then explained they had been featuring legendary and world famous American photographers, loved my photography and really wanted to start the British photographers with me… Because they loved my photography… Out of everyone who left a profile on there which was every photographer that had a profile on there, me…
Myspace entry 2009.
I originally started putting my artists book together in 2002, the one The Tate now have in their archive, when I had a studio in an old disused victorian school in Hoxton, went travelling, returned towards the end of 2003, beginning of 2004 put up my art website, which within a few weeks was listed on a academic website for higher education and research; Intute run by several universities including Oxford university. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intute There were 10,000’s of artists listed on it, but I was placed in a few categories including YBA, as in Young British Artists, with 2 other artists, Damien Hirst and The Chapman brothers, counting the Chapman brothers as one as much of their work is collaborative. None of the other artists on the Intute site were listed in the YBA category… Now when I was listed on the Intute site, I had hardly ever shown / exhibited, so they went on my art not reputation or knowing me, and whether you like Damien Hirst or the Chapman brothers art, they were then and still are some of the most famous artists in the world. So I was put in a rare category with world famous artists, contextualised with them, just on the work / art / writing I produce… and the ideas I work with… My art website https://russellhand.com I have kept the same, how I originally designed it, very minimal layout etc… and content, with the addition of a few more examples of more recent work, a few more paintings, fashion photography, poems, writing etc… Since as I said it originally went up in early 2004 and was originally all in Apple quicktime… Now accessible by all as had to redo, recode it…
Intutue record… Not that I am one of the greatest artists on the planet among other things… Just merely a world class artist, a world class photographer and probably a world class poet and writer… And that is without my tech, science and inventions… And of course my travels…
Pete H my friend I backpacked with the first time I travelled round the Mediterranean sea; in the Sahara desert with a pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt in the background. Many more of my travel photographs from the first time I backpacked round the Mediterranean and many since through time of travelling and other kinds of photographs can be found in my photography book here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/odysseys-travels-camera-through/id1183644709
I just read this in one of my old sketch books I took travelling/backpacking that first time around the Mediterranean, it is an entry I wrote while in Egypt; “Money’s lower than what I thought, 15 Egyptian pounds, $20 American, £12 sterling and till the 24th, and a felucca yet to get…”
From an early age one of the of the many things I have been interested in is exploring this world we live in, talking to the people in different places, trying to understand them, and working with art, words etc. to encourage and help make it a better place for all. Art, words open the mind to new ideas, perceptions, experiences; it opens up new ways of thinking and engaging with the world. Since I have a passion for art from the cave paintings to ancient Egyptian art, Greek art etc all the way through to renaissance to contemporary art it has always made me feel like I am a world citizen, not just a European but the whole world, the Benin bronzes and other works from Africa, Japanese art, particularly Japanese block printing and ceramics, a long list that goes on and on…
Thundering through the desert on horseback being chased by a pack of wild dogs…
One has to wonder about law and justice, and whether they exist, and if they do not what is this thing we call civilisation and what it is built on… And where we are heading or whether the human race is heading anywhere… I mean I was taken to court on totally invented charges in Spain and assaulted by the Guardia Civil in 2016 for no reason, I was told I was acquitted at the trial, the whole proceedings seemed highly illegal, I was informed at the time I could not mention it on social media as I could be charged for breaking the law if I did. I might well have had my book of poetry stolen by an ex of mine, and published and claimed by her as her own work, but I have definitely had her and others, make false accusations against myself… I just mentioned to a Greek woman from Athens I will return to Athens at some time in the future, and she said why ? I did have several Greek women from Athens come up to me recently in London and ask me for directions, who were extremely polite, friendly and apologetic for asking me but grateful I helped them… And I do believe, that there will many people in Greece in general to see me again… After all I did have people calling out ‘Odysseus’ and ‘Beauty’ to me at Mykonos old harbour before I left in 2015… Though the older Greek woman seemed to think the way she said why that the Greeks would not welcome back the man they called Odysseus and beauty that is also one of the greatest artist and at least fashion photographers alive, also someone that writes beautifully including poetry and is still writing their first book their travels, and has several more planned about their life… As I was recently talking to an ex Lady Mayoress of London that when I mentioned a few more things about my life, including 2 world famous pop stars that I really should write more about my life… I will also I am sure return to Spain to pick up my mothers ashes that appear to have been taken, after my brother in Spain was evicted for the second time by a landlord and was put on a plane in the clothes he was wearing, forced to leave my mothers ashes, all her possessions, his possessions and many of mine behind… and not having any money to return to do anything about it at the time… I would also guess I will be going to Italy and several other countries in the future to see whether and how many honest and good people there are there… Rather than people that not only believe lies but spread them… Then I am sure nothing will stop until ‘The Good’ future I know is possible starts to happen… People seem under the impression if things do not happen by going through the courts, which is what I want to do nothing more will happen… What they seem totally not to realise is the future is already happenings, and that 95% of jobs will disappear and not be replaced… and unless ‘The Good’ future I know is possible happens, neither them nor their children have a future. Also if the law and justice do not work, then civilisation is already breaking down, and will continual too. And if another dark age falls we will not rise from it… That is their is not war first to finish what is left of civilisation… There are several futures I know are possible… Including one where a few corporations and people own and control virtually everything… Most of the human populations is disenfranchised more so than maybe anytime in history… between automation and AI, as far as the controlling interests of a very few minority 5 billion people plus become superfluous to existence…
Though I have always wished my ex’s well, I do think it is not returned… But suspect that if they have been lying about myself with others and accusing me of anything they will never know any peace… As will not people that have been hassling me…
The future will happen there is no going back… There is no where to go back too… And things could very much worse… or better… The world is changing more now than ever… and not of my making… It depends what future people want…
Adding a LinkedIn link but if you are interested in connecting please add a note to explain who you are and why we should connect… I have everything from NASA scientists, to members of the United Nations, to art and fashion people worldwide… Plus lots more… Including the wonderful Alison Goldfrapp of the band Goldfrapp… But I connect for a reason… LinkedIn
Thundering through the desert…
All copyright and reproduction rights are mine except for the quotes.
Russell Hand © ®