2001-2008
Home
Main
- About TFT
Friday Thing Archive
- Politics
- Media
- Culture and Society
- War On Terror
- People
- Places
- World
- Popped Clogs
- Music
- Books
- Film
- Etc
Help And Info
- Contact Details
- Advertising
- Jobs
- Privacy Policy
- XML Feed

Home > Media

Some Comfort Gained From The Acceptance Of The Inherent Rubbishness Of Landlords*

4 October 2005

That unholy cackling you hear is Sir Nicholas Serota, curator of Tate Modern on the South Bank, as Charles Saatchi prepares to gather up his motley bunch of beds and mouse-balls and slope off to Chelsea. The Saatchi Gallery, having occupied the first floor of County Hall for only a couple of years, is upping sticks. When we read that this was due to a landlord dispute, we assumed that it was one of those South Bank premium real-estate money things - dreary old financial squabblings, like the ones over the London Eye's rent, no more scintillating than a snotty letter from the bank. But it transpires that poor Mr Nigella has in fact been beseiged by some sort of Japanese Rigsby on crack.

The magnificent old GLC HQ which currently houses the Saatchi collection was snapped up in 1993 by the Shirayama Shokusan Corporation, and its European head is one Makota Okamoto. Makota Okamoto is, quite frankly, absolutely batshit. Two years after his company moved in, he prevented veterans from laying a wreath at County Hall's memorial, rebutting the outraged cries for an explanation with 'We own the building and we can do what we like with it. Why should I tell you why?' He was also accused of subjecting his female general manager to a flurry of sexist and racist comments, describing British women as 'bloody fat pigs'. He later excused himself thus; 'I never said that English women were fat pigs. I never used that word. My [British] wife is 49 and she has quite slim legs.' Well, that's alright, then.

A really super, amiable chap, then. But it's in his alleged torment of Saatchi and his staff during their abortive tenure where Okamoto comes into his own. Hell, it's almost *art* - in that situationist, the-urge-to-destroy-is-creative, anger-is-an-energy way. According to the Guardian site, he's been 'accused in the past of kicking a sculpture of a sleeping homeless person by Gavin Turk, of denying visitors entrance to the disabled lavatory, and of swearing at gallery staff.'

Brilliant. Totally inexcusable. Pathetic. Thanks to this childish, perverse throwing-about of weight and the 'malevolent atmosphere' engendered, the South Bank is losing a valuable attraction, and modern art is again scuttling away from an accessible spot to an obscure corner. With the gallery slap in the middle of touristland, snuggled up to the London Eye and settled atop the Aquarium, people who might otherwise have heeded tabloid insistence that the whole thing is a nonsense and a half found themselves venturing in. They could go from looking at live sharks to peering at a tattered dead one in formaldehyde that they recognised from the papers - once confronted with the thing, feeling that little frisson of pleasure at being close to a very famous object, they'd realise that there was more to it. They'd feel funny. They'd have a think - not necessarily about 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living', but just about the amazingly porous qualities of objects, their ability to affect you. Then they'd go and look at the giant picture of Myra Hindley made with children's handprints, and have a stand-up row about its implications and be escorted out by stewards - y'know, they'd have a good day out.

Of course people will be able to goggle at Saatchi's stuff in the Duke Of York's Headquarters on the King's Road, which until recently played host to the Territorial Army; but not until 2007, and not with the same innocent spontaneity, the same holiday-drunk what-the-hell-ishness. The media enjoyed the friction between Saatchi and Serota, but really they were on the same side, aiming to, well, bring modern art to the people. So it's a shame. But with any luck, Chris Ofili will donate a little leftover elephant dung from his latest work, to be set alight and placed on Okamoto's doorstep in a bag.

*After the Hirst one with the sliced cows. It's great, that one.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

Subscribe to The Friday Thing for free


 ABOUT THE FRIDAY THING
Bad words ahead The Friday Thing is a weekly email comment sheet. Casting a cynical eye over the week's events, it is rarely fair and never balanced.

A selection of articles from each week's issue appear online, but to enjoy the full Thing, delivered by email every Friday - as well as access to almost five years of back issues - you'll need to subscribe. It's absolutely free.

READERS WRITE
"Razor-sharp comment and gossip." - The Sunday Times

"Hilariously cynical..To describe it as 'irreverent' is to do the newsletter an injustice." - The Observer

"Sharp, intelligent, opinionated, uncompromising and very, very funny. Just like 'Private Eye' used to be." - Alec McKelland

"Wicked" - Channel 4

"Ace" - Time Out

"'We rise once again in advocacy of The Friday Thing. We realize that some of you may be unwilling to spend [your money] on plain-text comment, but you're only depriving yourself." - The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

"Subscribing to this at the beginning of the year was undoubtedly one of the better decisions I've made. Superlative, and utterly marvellous. I look forward to Fridays now, because I can't wait for the next issue. Fucking fucking brilliant." - Meish.org

"Featuring writers from The Observer, Smack The Pony and The 11 O'Clock Show... will continue to attract new subscribers sight unseen" - NeedToKnow

"The Friday Thing is so good it's stopping me from doing a bunk of a Friday afternoon." - Annie Blinkhorn (The Erotic Review)

"So now" - The Evening Standard

"Damn it, you rule. May you never, ever back down." - Paul Mayze

"Ace" - PopJustice

"Snarky" - Online Journalism Review

"Can you please stop making me laugh out loud... I'm supposed to be working, you know!" - Tamsin Tyrwhitt

"Your coverage of stuff as it spills is right on the money." - Mike Woods

"Popbitch with A-Levels." - Tim Footman

"In an inbox full of trite work-related nonsense, TFT shines from under its subject heading like the sun out of Angus Deayton's arse." - Nikki Hunt

"A first rate email. It's become an integral part of my week, and my life would be empty and meaningless without it (well, *more* empty and meaningless anyway)." - Mark Pugh

"Genius, absolute bit of class. And you can quote me on that." - Lee Neville

"If you're hipper than hell, this is what you read." - MarketingSherpa

"The most entertaining email I've had all week. Great tone." - Matthew Prior

"A massive and engrossing wit injection." - idiotica.co.uk

"I wouldn't know satire if it bit me on the arse. But I did like the Naomi Campbell joke." - Matt Kelly (The Mirror)

"Has had an understandably high profile among people who know about these things." - Guy Clapperton (Guardian Online)

"Satirical sideswipes at the burning issues of the day." - Radio 5 Live

"Puerile and worthless... Truly fabulous... Do read the whole thing." - Stephen Pollard

The Friday Thing 2001-2008 - All Rights Reserved