Spring is with us once again. The nights are drawing back out again and t'will soon be time once more to wile away the hours outside public houses, clinking glasses of pink-tinged, over-marketed apple flavoured drinks that have been chilled to tastelessness to disguise their artificiality. Ah yes, a whole series of nostalgic snapshots are just around the corner.
I can see us now: you, throwing back you head as you laugh, the evening sun making your eyes sparkle. I throw my arm around the shoulders of an old friend, catch his eye and we smile. It will be great. We will waste time together discussing unthreatening issues, like why flammable and inflammable mean the same thing and what's the opposite. We'll squabble playfully into the evening and no one will even consider murdering the conversation with his font-of-all-smugness iphone.
But time marches on and the great conundrums of yore now seem childish and silly. Debating Who would win in a fight between a yeti and 30 of those Hackney crack squirrels? no longer unites the gang in animated discussion as it once did. Which would you rather eat: your mum or the last panda? does not receive the heady mix of impressed disgust it has in the past.
Which would you rather have: a problem with the motherboard in your four-year-old condensing boiler or Japanese bindweed encroaching under you lawn from a neighbour's garden? Or, Which would you rather eat; whale or veal? may not have the throwaway humour of earlier days but these are adult questions that would encourage an intelligent, grown-up debate.
For those on the cusp and looking for a pointer you could try mixing it up; There will be some puzzlement with these hybrid queries but move on quickly when you have the measure of the crowd and remember:
a (measures of alcohol) X y (chromosomes) = g (grossness)
Thus, which would you rather eat all my body hair or shark fin soup for a week? Or Who would win in a fight, a riot police officer with his number taped over or Rastamouse and his crew? Could prove helpful.
The artworld though provides a fertile ground for subverting the structure of the earlier style with a smattering of cultural references bringing a new level of sophistication to the open-ended pub question genre, to wit: Who would win in a fight between the aggressive Chapman brother (I think it's Noel but it might be Liam) AND Tracy Emin against Anthony Gormley OR Matthew Barney? Inside one of those Yayoi Kusama installations with a mild headache?
Which would you rather eat; all the butterflies of one of those Hirst paintings or the detritus from a Paul McCarthy performance?
For the wee, small hours around a bottle of emergency duty free its time for the really tough ones, the questions that bare the soul and reveal to the others around the table its dark recesses. These are the questions with answers that can be picked apart, this is Pandora's box, the apple of knowledge, the red pill.
For starters try: Which is worse: when you really like the person but hate the artwork, or when you hate the person but think the works great? And remember, present company is never really excluded.
In this issue we have an artist page by Tina Gverovic, a review of Susan Hiller at Tate Britain, postcards from Cheltenham and Edinburgh, a review of Testing Grounds performance event, a written drawing by Lucy O'Donnell and a book review of Junk by Gillian Whiteley.