Absent / Presence Present / Absence
Marble mouths, labels with text, Green Granite.
Text on labels;
Simulations   Body Parts   Spoken Unspoken     Words To / For You
& on the other mouths label
Uninscribed    Present  Absent    Voice   Inscriptions  Words   For / To You
Russell Hand © ® 1994

Absent / Presence Present / Absence sculpture installation marble mouths etc, as it is 2 pieces that can be moved through. I made while at art school. It is also in my artists book in The Tate special archive of artists books. It is one of the pieces 2 world famous international art critics thought made me a greater artist than any of the YBA’s (Young British Artists) along with other installation pieces I produced in sculpture, video, film, text, sound, photography etc. Now that was back in the mid 1990’s, but caused its own problems as number of my tutors particularly in the sculpture / installation art department, which might sound like ancient history except it is still going on and when you understand who they are and who they are connected too maybe you will too. The head of the sculpture / installation department said to me  “You are one of them, we don’t like them”. O them being the YBA’s. The first time I ever had a tutorial with her she told me as I had transferred into the second year from another art school; “We don’t like you and we don’t like your art, the only reason you are here is because it was the last wish of the outgoing head of the school”. Apart from this still going on in art, it seems to be a general thing in my life; people lying about myself, saying terrible things about me and my work. The woman head of the sculpture / installation art department at Middlesex University the old Hornsey school of art was Judith Cowan, I remember on another occasion she turned around and said to me “You don’t need to know all that theory to make art” I replied “I am not saying you do, but I do for mine”. When I was curating the gallery space at the art school, Judith walked in and said whose are those, they are beautiful ?”, looked at me while I was putting someone else work up and then said, “They’re yours aren’t they !”, and walked out with a look of bordering on hatred on her face. Those art pieces being these ones, Absent / Presence Present / Absence. Now Judith Cowan told me she had won the Rome art prize and basically told me that it was her turn now, but realised as all the YBA’s had come along her and many of her art friends had been skipped as far as she was concerned and there was no way I was going to do it to them as well. They use to say extremely bad things about me and my work not only among the lecturers at the art school but all the visiting lecturers… Which included other artists, international curators and international art critics. Now apart from being told this from Judith Cowan, the first time I met one of the international critics, of one could say of high renown, they said this to me while I was photographing 3 parts of ‘Smiths Empire’ one of my art installations, sculptural and time. Firstly she said ” Its alright carry on I do not need to talk to you”. So she watched me photograph 3 of the 6 pieces of my art installation. Then she said ” I don’t know why they say such bad things about you and your art, I was in Marc Quinn’s studio yesterday and your work is much more sophisticated, intelligent, philosophical and better in just about anyway to do with art.” Then after talking to me she said, “You are far more intelligent and articulate than Marc Quinn as well.” Well among other things. Yes ancient history, maybe, but talking to her on the phone in 2016 and emails, she not only confirmed this was going on at art school, but that she still thought I was brilliant. She also sympathised with me and empathised with me when I told her about my mother, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2004 and though it was operated on there were complication, and from 2004 till she died was my main priority as was my older brother her carer, though I looked after them both. Now why should a few bitter people at art school effect my art career. Well another lecturer was a woman an artist called Laura Ford, who though not so overtly obvious was no different from Judith Cowan. Now I saw Laura Ford at an art opening at the Wilkinson Gallery in 2007, and first she smiled at me and started walking towards me, then her face dropped and she rushed off the other way. Why because I was terrible, No, they all knew I had been listed on a academic website with Damien Hirst and the Chapman Brothers as one of the YBA, which happened in 2004, these things get around. Now some of the visiting lecturers included Richard Wilson who from when he walked into my studio space at art school told me my art was rubbish and so was my theory, they did seem to like giving me tutorials with nearly every visiting lecturer. Another visiting lecturer who one could say was non to friendly towards me was Richard Wentworth. As well as a number of curators, Laura Ford, now I only found out in 2016 that she was in fact one of the directors of Sadie Coles HQ, one of the major galleries in London that represents some famous international artists. O like the international art critic they have not forgotten me… Now Sadie Coles use to say hello to me as I was introduced to her by another artist, as did her husband, who I did not know till I was shooting some fashion was in fact Jurgen Teller. Jurgen Teller being one the most famous fashion photographers in the world. Now I have been asked a number of times if I have been ‘blacklisted’. Before Xmas 2018 I was talking to a woman on the phone who worked next door to Mario Testino’s studio and her boss was friends with him, and she asked me if I was ‘blacklisted’ as she loves fashion photography, thinks my fashion photography is amazing and cannot believe no one wants to talk to me let alone commission me. Another person, also just before Xmas 2018, I know showed some of my photography to a woman he works with who use to be a professional photographer and she told him just looking at a few of my photographs I am the ‘Real Deal’. Now when I was shooting fashion an old friend and collaborator of Helmut Newton said sort of the same thing, he actually told me he had seen everything in fashion photography till he saw some of my work. Now virtually all of the women I have been in relationships with, though I was the most amazing and wonderful person they had ever met, also I was brilliant, both intellectually and artistically though that caused problems from them because most have switched between being totally in love with me, smothering me in kisses and wrapped around me at night to one I suppose could call it emotional, mental and psychological torture, partly I suspect because of insecurity, but also as some did admit jealously, because they really thought I was that wonderful and brilliant. And since we are no longer together have said both nasty things about me that are also untrue. I mean on of them was diagnosed as a pathologically lying narcissistic socio / psychopath, though also happens to be extremely pretty to stunningly beautiful. Who also I have more recently been told got into a relationship after me or at the same time, still not exactly sure with the son of a billionaire family who thinks he is brilliant artist, as well as several others. Now I was thinking of watching a film the other day with Leonardo DiCaprio in, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and him, what I did not realise about him, is he went out with a world famous pop star in 1997, the same one that randomly hit on me in 1998 at the ICA in London, I say randomly as she had not a clue who I was or anything else but obviously liked the look of me, hardly ever been hit on so heavily, Emma Bunton (Baby Spice), I also saw he is currently going out with a 21 year old model, he is more than twice her age, which I have no problem with, I mean both adults and into to each other, though I have done a similar thing, though my preference is for someone who is 28 or more, has been since I was 30 or so. Hope she does not turn out to be a pathologically lying narcissistic socio / psychopath like the one I saw did… I am sure she will not be… But I have got so much shit and lies over her from her, partly because of the age difference… Just another lot of shit and lies in my life… about me. Now back to this question have I been ‘blacklisted’… Let us see, I am a world class artist with their artists book in The Tate special archive of artists books. Which I was told by one of the art critics I have known since I was art school, is a work in art in its own right. Though I heavily suspect some at The Tate are not happy it is there. I make art that is suppose to be art philosophy, that is inspirational and opens the world of ideas and thought to everyone, well if they bother, and though it is not obviously about race or gender etc… incorporates elements that one could say include that, it is about foundations of what, who we are and how we conceptualise the world and interact in it. I am suppose to be a world class photographer, or at least fashion photographer, though the guy that showed my photographs to the ex professional photographer who said I was the “Real Deal’ suggested I showed get in touch with Magnum Photos to represent me, which speaks as slightly wider appreciation of my photography than just fashion. Then some think I am an amazing and somewhat brilliant poet, and maybe writer… No commissions, no sales, hardly anyone even bothering to reply to me. I wonder how many artists, photographers, writers do you know with their artists book in The Tate special archive of artists books, that have also exhibited with world famous artists and photographers ? Bernadette Buckley who was one of my theory lecturers at art school who her and Jamie use to joke I should join them to lecture when I was a student because my theory was so good, once said to me among many other thing; “You remind me of another friend of mine, he is descended from French dukes, is extremely intelligent, charismatic and charming, is doing a PhD at Imperial College London, and is also a model, nobody likes him either.” I did reply “You do not like me ?” she said “Of course I do, we are friends”. And as I said I do have an email from the art critic confirming that some of my lecturers at art school were doing exactly what I have said, though she said I should have moved on from that years ago, but as I replied, it is still going on, and similar things with people lying about me. I should also say though half my lecturers hated me and my work, the other half seemed to at least like me and loved my work. But had nowhere near the connections or influence as the others. Which also meant if they argued for me they could jeopardise their own careers, I must admit Leonardo DiCaprio and putting the same world famous pop star into context with him, and his current situation does put something into perspective for me even more so, the kind of women I am use to liking me… and still do or were… Then LinkedIn still sending job suggestions for runner, assistant, intern etc… You have to find that funny, supposedly one of the most brilliant creatives on the planet… runner, intern, assistant… No… ? Mention that as I just got an email through with job suggestions… You know I also have a lot of beneficial to humanity technology ideas, that I should have the money to finance, I mean Damien HIrst is worth over £300,000,000, and I am or was suppose to be the greater artists… My favourite piece by Hirst is still ‘1,000 Years’ his first installation piece, and Smiths Empire’ was according to the art critics that knew us both far superior. Then my artists book, which I made in a very limited edition, the same one in the Tate Archive… I was lending to galleries to see if they wanted to represent me, on the proviso that they look after them and return them too me, which Sadie Coles HQ being the first one I lent it too took ages returning it to me which cost me a lot of time and money, other galleries not taking so long, except Alison Jacques Gallery messing me about and then telling me it had been destroyed by them… Alison Jacques not even one of the better galleries… Then the Newport Street Gallery owned by Hirst, and the book I was promised going to Hirst, destroyed another one of my artists books. Then finding out The Lisson Gallery had destroyed another one… Not normal for that to happen… and definitely not for artists books The Tate put in their special archive of artists books… So 2 galleries that represent artists and Damien Hirst destroying between them 3 of my artists books… and never apologising or offering to compensate me in any way… And though many of my ex’s were beautiful and intelligent… maybe they were not as nice as they think they are… Otherwise why badmouth me and lie about me… Maybe why they are ex’s.

So many think they are wonderful ethical, morally correct and very nice people. I grew up with the awe and wonder of the world, find life fascinating, I still have it. I do not believe in karma, nor do I agree with the idea of suffering. Sorry Nietzsche etc, though I should reread him. Another thing about Judith Cowan, she also thought I was one of the most intelligent and articulate artists she had ever met, did not like that either. People don’t. So many times people have said I am one the most intelligent and articulate people they have ever met. People in general do not like, less if you also can produce original work, art, ideas, concepts, writing etc. Most people are much happier when people produce generic work, makes them more comfortable. Nor do they like truth, they might say they do but they do not. If truth disagrees with them they do not care. This is article, I have known about this research since I was 17 or so or similar, never really wanted to believe, as I like people. I have none of these traits, going back till at least 5 years old so never. I am not arrogant merely confident https://www.fastcompany.com/90278683/the-10-toxic-psychological-traits-that-make-so-many-people-suck

Then when I received news of being given a 3rd for my degree. I popped into Martin Pitt’s office the new head of school, replacing the head of school that had liked me, my art and found me very interesting to talk too and last wish before retiring was that I transfer to Middlesex University (Hornsey School of Art). Martin Pitt’s secretary said go in. So I walked into the head of schools office and he said hello and asked me to sit down, I asked about getting a 3rd. He asked me if I would like a glass of wine, which I said yes to. Then after each sipping some wine, he told me;Russell I like you but not your work / art. and there was no way whatever you did you were ever going to get anything other than a 3rd. Even if you totally changed the kind of work / art you did. I use to paint target painting like Jasper John’s he was famous and I never was. You turn up with your work, ‘Smiths Empire’ with the 6 pieces, with the head of concrete, and other body parts, and I know over the summer before you arrived here, Marc Quinn had just been all over the newspapers with his blood head ‘Self’. Now we know some people here and visitors know your art is much better than his, and you made it before anyone had heard of Marc Quinn, but we are not going to help you in the least, the opposite in fact. He smiled as though pleasantly at me and explained, we had to take the external examiner down the pub to get him to agree to a 3rd for you, he kept arguing you should at least get a 2.1, even though we did tell him since you showed the head piece on its own, as well as ‘Language Gets Lost in Words’, and let him think you had borrowed from Marc Quinn’s work, he laughed. But the external examiner said but even if that is so ‘Language Gets Lost in Words’ still deserves at least a 2.1. More drinks later and explaining to him what a terrible person you are, he finally agreed.

I then said, You do realise with a 3rd, getting onto a Masters or getting any funding will be very difficult or virtually impossible, even if I was offered a place funding bodies for masters want at least a 2.1 if not a first.

He said of course we realise that, but after what we have all been saying about you I would not worry about that, I doubt very much you will be offered a place anywhere. He then told me you know now you are leaving we can have our school back. We do not like it when some student has more influence than the lecturers. I said Why did you think that way, he said of course, why do you think you have been trying to turn all the students against you as well and smiled again. And you have been seen to argue with at least one lecturer here, Johnathan Wright so if you appeal or try to get anything done, we will just make up more about you to explain why you got a 3rd.

You know the only reason I argued with Jonathan Wright because he was telling some of the students I was claiming credit for their work, which was a lie, why would I need to with the art I make.

He then said O Russell you work might be brilliant but if no one will talk to you, give you a place on an MA or show you what chance do you think you have.

I then said, I also have my book of installations, he laughed again and said, well if you have the money to build them and to show them yourself, good luck. I said why thank you so much.

He said well Russell you should not be so brilliant and so good with all that theory you talk about. I said, I thought you thought my art was terrible, he said Yes your work is terrible, terribly brilliant. We finished our wine and I left. I did mention this to a few ‘friends’ at art school, they seemed to think I was paranoid, nice.

Years later a woman got in touch with me, Rhed who had been a first year student when I was in the 3rd year, one that use to really like one of my friends Adam, but also use to talk to me a lot. She had got my mobile from another ‘friend’ of mine, one of my sisters partners who she was working with as a lecturer at art school, Maidstone I seem to remember. She invited around to diner. When I went round for dinner you told me she was a graphic designer now not an artist, showed me her work. Then turned around and told me she wanted to apologise to me, I said why. She said nw that I am an art school lecturer I realise you were the only person that actually cared and tried to help us at art school, also how good you really were. Good I said, she said Yes at art and theory. We ate diner then I said I know you like Adam but we have fallen out at the moment and are not speaking. As she had also split up with her partner who she had a young child with, so I assumed as well as wanting to apologise with me she was hoping that I could connect her with Adam. We after spoke a few times after that, and I think she got into a relationship with a writer.

Smiths Empire a 6 part sculpture timed based installation by me, was conceived in 1991, and I had already made the head and arm when I went back to art school in 1992, at Caerleon Art school, Newport art school Wales. Though the perspex boxes for them I made there. Caerleon was a contemporary art new technologies degree, or the one I was on. Which tied in with my work and interests. I transferred to Middlesex University (Hornsey School of Art) as I missed London. I should write an article on Smiths Empire and will, also showing all of it. One thing most people even artists in a way, the ‘art world’ is very small. Art world in the sense of the top galleries, museums, artists, curators, art critics etc… I mean the ones that you could say have the ‘power’ within it… Now Martin Pitt though head of school, was not as far as I know connected with this or friends with these people, where as Judith Cowan and definitely Laura Ford was, and in her case still is. As a re many of their friends. I have had similar things happen in fashion when I was shooting fashion. An editor from TANK magazine, a beauty editor got in touch and asked me meet me, and apologised for that to happen I had to be ‘vetted’ by her agency; CLM Camilla Lowther management, that was Georgina Graham. I had to email her booker there, Cassandra, Cassandra got back to me saying ‘We are not just about fashion, love your art, of course you can have a meeting with Georgina’ as I had given Cassandra my art website https://russellhand.com  which at the time did not have any of my fashion photography on. Now at the meeting I turned up looking quite ‘scruffy’ not suited, which Georgina commented on saying ‘I almost expect you in a suit’. Georgina had seen some of my fashion photography on a fashion website, this was 2006-2007, soon after I had shown / exhibited with Damien Hirst, Banksy, Sam Taylor-Wood (now Sam Taylor-Johnson) Peter Blake etc for an international charity War Child. Not that Georgina knew that at the time. She had just seen some of my fashion photographs and knew I was an artist as well, as it said so, artist and fashion photographer on the fashion website. At the meeting at The Chocolate Bar in Soho, which no longer exists, she asked me to do a storyboard and mention 2 films which I had seen but not recently so I got them on DVD to watch again. I did tell her my mother was recovering from a brain tumour operation and I was still not sure if she was going to live or die, so please if you want me to shoot for TANK magazine that is fine, if you do not that is also fine, but please do not mess me around. Georgina said No of course I will not, I want to do a series of special shoots for TANK with you, the last special one I did for TANK was working with the film director of 2046 Wong Kar-wai, he used his film crew to shoot the stills. I did a storyboard and sent it to Georgina, hearing virtually nothing back, except her saying that yes she liked it though she was surprised I had only shot a few fashion shoots and never assisted as she thought I was an experienced fashion photographer looking at the shoot she loved, but she had not heard of as I had not shot for a while. But she would get back to me. We were also both on MySpace at the time, so I messaged her a few times and use to check her account to see if she had logged in. Bit stressed to put it mildly, about my mother and I needed to make some money. Not that TANK were going to pay me to shoot, they did not pay people for editorials, but as Georgina had told me, TANK was connected with everyone that mattered in fashion and if I shot for them I would probably get paid commissions from Vogue and other fashion magazines because of TANK and the quality of my fashion photography. Just after this a different magazine wanted to see me as they wanted me to shoot for them. ABOVE magazine, which does not exist anymore, ABOVE was run by Sascha Lilic, who though I did not know till the meeting, was an old friend and protege of Helmut Newton’s, I had emailed Above one of my shoots that I had originally shot for 125 Magazine, who had given me a stylists letter, which was apparently unusual, and they did say they wanted a shoot from me but not the one I had done. In fact they told me they had not accepted any of the fashion submission shoots, and asked some photographers to shoot again and I could too. I did not have enough time to shoot before the new deadline, getting a team together etc… When I saw Sascha I mentioned I had shot it for 125, he was shocked they did not want to publish it, as he told me, he had seen everything in fashion photography till he saw some of my shoots. Not that I realised at the time, but some of the biggest names in fashion photography shot for ABOVE at the time, Ellen Von Unwerth, Karl Lagerfeld etc… And said though he would love to he could not publish that fashion story in ABOVE as he had not commissioned it. I eventually got it published in Zink Magazine in New York, which Georgina told me was ‘a nice little magazine’ though she did not like that shoot. I did ring Georgina to see how it was going with TANK, and mentioned about ABOVE magazine and maybe if it was OK with them if she was interested she could do the make-up on the shoot. Georgina started telling me I could not shoot for ABOVE, ABOVE was like ANOTHER magazine, and commissioned some of the biggest and best names in fashion photography. She knew photographers that had been shooting for 20 years and they would never be asked to shoot for a magazine like above, who had asked me to shoot for them, the tea boy ?. I was somewhat taken aback, and said I thought you loved my fashion photography and wanted me to shoot for TANK, and it was Sascha Lilic that had asked me and had the meeting with, the owner, editor-in-chief and artistic director of ABOVE. Georgina then said but you have never even assisted, and went off on another one. Eventually we said good-bye to each other. I never shot for ABOVE as Sascha sold the magazine before I did, though he still wanted to work with me, if I had the right project. Georgina shot the story I had storyboarded and sent her with another photographer for EXIT magazine, I recognised my ideas, and I did not shoot for TANK but did email them and did have a bit of a go for Georgina messing me around while as I told her my mother could live or die. I did email TANK some more shoots to various editors there, who did really like them and would get back to me. They never did, and eventually Georgina sent me an email saying I seemed so nice when we met , and if I would not have been so rude I would be shooting for TANK right now, as yes they loved my fashion photography. Georgina loved the 2nd fashion shoot I had ever shot. I never bothered to reply saying well if you would not have have messed me around when I was not sure if my mother was going to die, used my storyboard for a shoot with another photographer, and told me I could not shoot for ABOVE etc… I would not have been ‘rude’ and I thought it went on talent and the work not on having worked for years doing mediocre work and assisting. As I said I did not, I even joined FaceBook because Georgina invited me too. And have tried to follow one thing she said to me, and that was keep in touch with contacts in fashion and make as many new ones if you can. Which true sending a ‘rude’ email to TANK was not the best thing, but it actually was not that rude. She also turned around and said at one stage she never she wanted me to or I would shoot some special editorials for TANK which was a lie. I realise after I think the rest of TANK Georgina had never told that she had had a meeting with me and pitched at me to shoot for TANK…

Another thing that happened before this all happened was at a Models1 party, I sort of accidentally was at, thought it was a n art show, but was fashion photography with lots of the Models1 models being there as well. Just after I had done my first fashion shoot. There was a free bar with champagne but a very long queue. I saw someone I knew from art school but had not seen for years who was most of the way to the bar in the queue. So went over and said hello, I was surprised as he immediately said Hello Russell what are you doing here ? I replied I thought it was an art show but realise now it is fashion and had shot a fashion shoot so thought I would mingle, I also apologised saying, I am terribly sorry but do not remember your name. I was even more surprised by his response as he said, O you would not remember my name from art school, you were that brilliant artist, and I was not, but I am a fashion photographer now, my name is William Selden, and these are my friends Nicola Formichetti and Mariano Vivanco. We all shook hands and I apologised again for not remembering his name and asked him how he was, as also he talked in quite a snotty way to me as he had at art school, though as he had correctly pointed out I was a brilliant artists at art school and since, but he was not suppose to be. Though f he was a good fashion I was glad for him. I did not quite feel good will was reciprocated on his part, so after some small talk and getting some champagne, wondered off and stood around, when a pretty woman came up to me and started talking, one of the Moldes1 models, apart from being quite fun to talk too, her other models friends were at one end of the bar as they did not have to queue and so could just get more champagne straightaway and very nicely started ferrying champagne over to us, as we were talking, I also got invited to go over the road to a Modles1 party which happened afterwards. Where I did ask when she started talking to me, a booker at Models1, if the models were working the show and party, which made her laugh, and she told me yes, but they were told to do it subtly as there were lots of ‘important’ fashion people there. I said I thought so, and mentioned that I had asked a model that who came over and talked to me and then kept me supplied with champagne, which also made her laugh. Later I found out Willaim Selden’s friends were, Nicola Formichetti the artistic director of the magazine Dazed & Confused, and Mariano Vivanco was quite a famous fashion photographer, and since William’s attitude towards me and mentioning about me trying to poach fashion work as I was an artist, I thought might actually work against me. As later when I had shot more fashion I did email Dazed & Confused, but never got any interest, though as many people pointed out they though like my art my fashion photography was cutting edge and brilliant too.

To be continued…

Russell Hand © ® 2019