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Bound & Flogged

Karl Smith on this week's best new journals, plays and wordy and non-wordy art books


My interest in architecture has always been about on par with the majority of the great and heaving masses: I like a good building and I like to talk derisively about an ugly one. (There are plenty of both in and around London, you might have noticed.) Of course, another thing I like to talk derisively about are the people and organisations that try to make things “accessible”. All things considered, then, this may come as a bit of a surprise: T-R-E-M-O-R-S is a tremendous publication – in its aesthetics and its content – that makes architecture accessible to the lay-reader without dumbing down. Thumbs up for bricks and mortar!

WORDY ART BOOK OF THE WEEK: Babble by Charles Saatchi (Booth Clibborn)

Charles Saatchi has, by way of his previous releases, gotten firm hold of my goat: the sheer worthiness of deigning to answer the questions of not only the media, but also the general public, only when they pay for the pleasure of cluttering up their house with your answers is certainly a product of one of the sharpest advertising minds around. (Also, one of those books was called My Name is Charles Saatchi and I am an Artoholic: sure, it might be petty but there’s no such thing as artohol. It’s almost as bad as “PIN number” – the “N” stands for number, you egregious ass.) There’s something a little less holier-than-thou about Babble, though – a collection of essays (from Depression is Merely Anger Without Enthusiasm to Modern Art Can Make you Sick) which, while not always agreeable, are at least interesting.

PLAY OF THE WEEK: If There is I Haven’t Found it Yet by Nick Payne (Faber & Faber)

Some of the best books of the twentieth century have been plays – some of them, I’m thinking mostly of Waiting For Godot here, about as highly lauded as it gets and others (just as good and just as relevant) like Patrick Marber’s Closer and Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited which, despite having been made into pretty well acclaimed TV and film adaptations, don’t get quite the attention they deserve.  Perhaps Nick Payne’s first full-length isn’t quite as weighty, but it definitely has some kind of wisdom to it.

VISUAL ART BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Art of Clean Up by Ursus Wehrli (Chronicle)

Tidiness is an interesting thing: I speak as an outsider on the subject – clutter being my game of choice, though I prefer to call it collecting and distribution – so maybe that’s where my personal fascination comes from. I’ve spent a great deal of time, a great deal too much time, maybe, browsing ‘Things Organized Neatly’ and fans of Austin Radcliffe’s website will see its ubiquitous influence here. But what sets Wherli’s book apart and maybe even above is its innovativeness and the combination of sheer scale (we’re looking at groups of people and entire car parks arranged by colour) and the before/after set-up. If only we all had the time, right?