Issue 336
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In equal parts bleak, batshit and spellbinding, Ikon's first post-lockdown exhibition — a compendium of work by Czech genius Krištof Kintera called The End of Fun! — is an absolute beauty. And by "absolute beauty" I mean a wall-to-wall gut punch of dystopian anxiety fuel. Kintera's "thing" is dark comedic swipes at hyper capitalism and our doomed Titanic-like trip towards ecological apocalypse. Cheerful stuff. So, without further ado, here's just six of his pieces that are vying for a prime time slot in your nightmares, complete with how the gallery perceive them, and how I perceive them. Sweet dreams. 
Mr. Raven (I see I see I see, 2009)
They say: A mechanical sculpture of a crow dressed entirely in black western clothing, complete with leather jacket – moves its head and legs back and forth, whilst intoning a mix of inspirational corporate slogans, such as “Let’s make things better” and “Just do it”.
I say: It's dress down Friday and Baron Greenback's sidekick forgets his packed lunch before attempting a one-bird re-enactment of New York's most famous photo. The fear of him jumping makes this particularly unnerving. Have you ever seen a crow in leathers fly? Not happening.      

Summed up in an emoji: 🙈 
Nervous Trees (2013 –17)
They say: These works draw an analogy between plants and the human nervous system. Leafless and positioned upside down, branches spread towards the floor, resembling arms and legs, while globes at the top of the sculptures suggest heads. Motors cause their anthropomorphic forms to shake and move across the gallery.
I say: Like some sort of disconcerting nightclub trip, I found myself laughing like a drain as a defence mechanism. The noise they make as they scuttle across their demented dancefloor is almost as unsettling as their triffidy shapes and fit-like shakes. Nope.   
Summed up in an emoji: 
Evolution Revision (2015)
They say: These small figures comprise metal structures surrounded by copper wires. According to Kintera, they are depictions of the nervous system caught in a state of panic. Their entangled forms imply our struggles with the traumas of life. Grouped together, they look like they are engaged in a fight or debate: one covers its head with its hands; another kneels and stretches as if it were a cat or dog.
I say: Two brain cloud beings attempt to scour the chilling truth of humanity's destruction clean from their craniums, while all their dog wants to do is play fetch. 
Summed up in an emoji: 
My Light is Your Life – Shiva Samurai II (2009)
They say: A superheroic figure consisting of 250 table lamps, towering four metres high. Shielded by translucent globes and neon tubes, a halo hovers over its notional head as if to indicate that it is on the side of the angels. An ironic gesture, the work belies the artist’s awareness of the effects of pollution and devastating depletion of natural resources, as a result of our excessive consumption of energy.
I say: A welcoming spot of warmth in a chilling exhibition, I just wanted this glowing Iron Giant to scoop me up and pop me on his shoulder. Sure it doesn't look comfy, but any port in a storm. 
Summed up in an emoji: 
Revolution (2005)
They say: An animatronic sculpture of a hooded childlike figure which repeatedly bangs its head against the wall. This work is about an individual’s frustration at wanting to change the world around them, yet being unable to do so.
I say: This one had a profound effect on me. I'm not even going to attempt a droll take on it. Brilliant. Upsetting. 
Summed up in an emoji: 
Until November 22, 'The End of Fun!' is free but donations are very welcome. Booking is essential  


You haven't been to Lichfield Cathedral for a while, have you? Silly sausage, you've gone and forgotten quite how beautiful it is. Maybe book yourself in for the guaranteed heart-wrencher that is Poppy Fields. Marking Remembrance Day this year it was created in 2018 for the centenary of dubya-dubya-one and was attended by tens of thousands of visitors. The immersive projection sees poppies and flowers cascade across the ceiling, walls and floor of the Cathedral — remembering those who have fought and fallen. Accompanying the projections is stunningly composed music and poetry read by that lovely lad, Eddie Redmayne. Arriving hand-in-hand with Poppy Fields is Imagine Peace, a similarly immersive but altogether more psychedelic looking lightfest that goes a little something like this. Visitors to the Cathedral during the day will be able to experience Leaves of the Trees, also. The installation features 5,000 steel leaves marked with the word ‘Hope’ to enable people to reflect on and respond to personal experiences of the pandemic. So yeah, guaranteed heart-wrencher. Pub after? Tickets are £6.50, the event runs November 3 to 8. More 


Brum street artist and self-titled multi "award-winning professional gobshite", Foka Wolf, has an outdoorsy type exhibition at Compton Verney. For those unaware of Wolf's work you will have presumably seen his trademark thumbs up imagery across the city while his advert splicing and MegaCorp pastings have kept Brummies amused, bemused and infused, for years. His cutting and critical eye, that has taken on Range Rovers, Rupert Murdoch and Rees-Mogg, has been given a more positive and, dare we say it, family-friendly lacquer for the open air art commission that runs throughout Compton Verney's famous Capability Brown parkland. Trolls, equality and echo chambers get the Foka treatment at The Open Arms which runs until October 23. A grounds only pass costs £5 for adults and free for kids. More 


Brum's architectural magnum opus, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, has been selected for Grade I listed status, and not before time. The chunky, funky beast of a building came runner-up in our world famous (in Birmingham) World Cup of Brum's Best Buildings, missing out to near-neighbour and only Grade II listed Old Joe clock tower. And to celebrate making the cut (*sideways look to camera*) as one of Historic England's most protected treasures, it has re-opened! Oh okay, it was just fortuitous timing, but now the Barber's Jurassic Park-sized front doors have been unlocked, you once again have Monet, Renoir, Turner, Botticelli, Van Gogh, Rubens and Picasso right on your doorstep. Not literally, that would require a shovel and some serious air miles. Entry is free, booking is a must. Tues to Sun, 10am to 5pm. More 
Venue: Opus, 54 Cornwall Street, Birmingham B3 2DE; Website
Choice: Steak house menu (£32.50 for three courses) Chooser: Josh

If I could only eat at one Birmingham restaurant for the remainder of my days, I'd eat at Opus. Independently-owned, perfect service, ingredient-focused, one-off pop-ups and insane value, it's a Brum institution. And if their normal value for money isn't value enough, they now offer a lunch time menu with 25% off the asking price, Thursday to Saturday. So — calculators out — for £24.40 you can get three courses on a Saturday lunch. Potty prices. And although the steakhouse menu has an emphasis on, guess what, Aubrey Allen steak cuts (sirloin, ribeye and fillet) it was the starters, fish main and dessert that triggered at least two socially distanced "air high-fives" with our waiter, Josh. The boneless chicken wings (pictured) melt in your mouth like your man in Raiders of the Lost Ark — sorry that's a horrible image, but I'm on a deadline — while the cloud-like goats cheese mousse with candied walnuts and pickled grapes was a creamy, heavenly plate of paradise. The plaice main course sealed Opus's position as my number one city seafood spot, arriving fresh from Brixham that morning, while Josh's insistence that I try the crème brûlée cemented our relationship as new best, best, bestest buds. Pretty sure he feels exactly the same. 
If you didn't do the London Marathon at the weekend, you big old wimp, then Love Brum are digitally hosting a Birmingham half marathon. Details 
Oh happy day! Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has re-opened and they're bringing with it Cold War Steve's bespoke Brum masterpiece. It's free, but booking is essential.
This year's winner of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women is now showing work at Eastside Projects. Emma Talbot’s colossal commission When Screens Break imagines a future where technology has moved beyond the control of humans. So sort of like Skynet. More
Opheem have launched their new Autumn tasting menu and if you're dining on Wednesday or Thursday you can get 20% off in October. See?   
Glynn Purnell's opening a restaurant in Knowle, Dick's Smokehouse are opening their first place in Bromsgrove and Monica Haldar, founder of Birmingham Indian cookery school, The Spice Club, is close to her target to launch an online cookery masterclass.  
JQ-based The Hive are joining forces with Brum's The Real Junk Food Project to start a community café using waste food that would have gone to landfill. Book
There are four days left of the (mostly) online and free to view Birmingham Comedy Festival. Today's events include a Q&A with the aforementioned Foka Wolf, going live here, today. Donations are appreciated.

"I am aware of our responsibility for drastic changes of climate, extinctions of species and all kinds of living organisms, and therefore we’ll face sooner or later fatal problems. It is our shame, it is my shame'"

Krištof Kintera

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WORDS: Tom Cullen
PICTURES: Ikon: Installation view, Krištof Kintera THE END OF FUN! at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham UK, 2020 © Ikon Gallery. Photographer, Tom Bird.

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