Art Archive

  1. List-ai-wei-wei-an-archive-its-nice-that-

    Ai Weiwei has printed five years worth of his many, many tweets onto rice paper to form a new piece called An Archive . The artist has long used Twitter as a platform from which to protest Chinese government oppression, leading to a ban from Chinese Twitter. In an interview with The Creator’s Project, Ai tells how the piece, which is formed of thousands of pieces of printed rice paper, showcases a time when he could use the social network for “discussions and memories of the past, as well as predictions for the future. Twitter was an exercise for the mind and one where you are fully exposed to the public."

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    I never thought I’d use the word irreverent to describe the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Since 1769 the RA has taken a fairly unwavering and conservative approach to the world’s largest open submission exhibition, hanging up to 1,000 works by both amateur artists and great names. Long the lacklustre foxhole of stuffy Academicians and part-time painters, this year marks the greatest effort the RA has made yet to reinvigorate the English summer stalwart.
     
    It’s no surprise that the man behind the brightest, boldest edition yet is Michael Craig-Martin, this year’s curator and the artist best known for his Pop Art palette and his tutorship of YBA trailblazers Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. Among his modernisms for the show is the decision to repaint the three central galleries in colours lifted straight from his work: hot pink, turquoise and baby blue. Far from playing to mere spectacle, Craig-Martin’s trademark penchant for polychrome is a bold statement that does away with both the white cube mis-en-scène of contemporary art and the fusty grandeur of the Academy. Regular attendees might also notice he has made the print galleries more central.

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    For this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, Scottish artist Jim Lambie has transformed the storied art institution’s grand staircase with one of his kaleidoscopic floor installations and shaken up the English cultural calendar highlight. Using hundreds of strips of adhesive vinyl tape, Lambie’s eye-catching floor work follows the architecture of the Academy and is part of his ongoing series Zobop. The 2005 Turner Prize nominee’s slightly riotous, technicolour stairs breathe new life into the neo-classical space, and the optical effect packs huge impact, fittingly leading the way to the boldest, brightest edition of the Summer Exhibition in its nearly 250-year run.

  4. Nina-chanel-abney-its-nice-that-list

    The carnivalesque colours and vibrant busyness caught our eye in Nina Chanel’s work; her attitude and subject matter kept us looking. Nina is based in New Jersey, and uses bright brushstrokes and text to explore issues of race, politics, sex and the strange world of celebrity. How? Through a strange troupe of aliens, strange symbols and rainbow colours. Surrealism plays with pop art and high-brow plays with low-brow in her huge e-number fuelled pieces, which carry a depth belying their initially saccharine appearances.

  5. David-shrigley-football-mascot-its-nice-that-top

    David Shrigley has designed a rather strange mascot for Scottish Premiership football team Partick Thistle. Shrigley – a fan of the team – was appointed to create the little yellow jagged character, named Kingsley, as part of the team’s new sponsorship deal with US investment firm Kingsford Capital. The artist also created the brand mark that will appear on Thistle kits and around its home stadium.

  6. Luis-vasallo-itsnicethat-list

    Life drawing classes are more often than not the conservative preserve of academic art, but Luis Vassallo’s nudes tell a different story. Luis’ series A Life Drawing Class, made as part of a collaboration with Hot and Cool magazine, is a refreshing take on a somewhat strait-laced tradition. Over the course of several weeks the Madrid-based artist transformed the models in front of him into adventurous images that juxtapose the classical with the surreal, mixing and matching a number of drawing styles – often in the same sketch – from hard-edged geometry and soft, rolling forms that alternate between clean pencil lines and those in thick jagged charcoal. Finding inspiration in the Italian avant garde and the 60s revival of figurative art, Luis is clear that his work is less about looking back and more about finding a way to pick up where these 20th Century movements left off. The results are unlike any nudes we’ve seen before.

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    As one of the most instantly recognisable modern artists and a GCSE art staple, it’s tempting to think there’s little we haven’t seen of Jackson Pollock’s work. A new exhibition at Tate Liverpool, however, proves us wrong. The exhibition, entitled Blind Spots, is the first in more than 30 years to show his late black pouring works. Some we’ll know, many we won’t, but all prove – if proof were needed – what an important, inspirational figure Pollock was. He managed to bring tricky concepts of Abstract Expressionism into the minds of a far wider audience than the art world inner circle, and his works are surely some of the most oft-seen, yet never tiresome artworks of the last century.

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    Matthew Craven’s dizzying mix of ink patterns, cut-outs and ancient culture is as powerful as it is studied. We’ve written about the New York artist’s vivid collages before, and in his most recent series demiURGE, Matthew pairs both tribal and Greek sculpture with his hand-drawn designs and recurring motifs. His images play with materials as much as they play with time, and with their lost relics and archeological curiosities it’s as if Matthew has picked through old history textbooks and back issues of National Geographic for the mystic effect that makes his work so instantly recognisable. Pairing busts, masks, vases and classical bric-a-brac with optical patterns, Matthew’s collages always prove greater than the sum of their parts.

  9. Richard_prince_new_portraits_it's_nice_that_list

    Richard Prince’s New Portraits have proven to be nothing short of sensational. The artist’s controversial series has seen him take other people’s Instagram posts, print them on six-foot canvases and sell them for up to $90,000. The only changes made to these images of everyone from Pamela Anderson to total unknowns are the bewildering or lewd remarks Prince adds to the comments thread. As of last Friday, ten of these new works are on show at Gagosian London. “The iPhone became my studio,” Prince says somewhere in the seven-page stream of consciousness that makes up the press release.

    For the last 40 years the New York artist has inspired everything from acclaim to outrage for the unapologetic appropriation that has defined much of his work. As the man who reprinted copies of JD Salinger’s classic teenage anthem Catcher in the Rye with his own name in place of the author’s, Prince has found himself on the wrong side of copyright lawsuits multiple times. Resulting opinions of him tend to violently swing between genius and good-for-nothing. In the case of the New Portraits series, Peter Schjeldahl writing for the New Yorker’s response to the screenshot-cum-paintings was “something like a wish to be dead,” whilst sex writer Karley Sciortino has said she felt honoured to be included in the series.

    In an unexpected but fitting turn, people seemed to feel slightly vindicated when some of Prince’s unauthorised Instagram reproductions were recently reproduced and resold by some of their original subjects, namely the LA-based group of alternative pin-up girls and burlesque dancers operating under the moniker SuicideGirls. “Payback!” headlines screamed, but this ceaseless loop of feedback and mirroring perfectly plays to Prince’s raison d’être. Even this is not the artist’s own, and in his ideas about enshrining banality and popular culture he is most definitely walking in Warhol’s slightly worn-out silver shoes.

    Mining the internet for source material is not new either, but as abhorrent as they may be, Prince’s portraits eloquently teach a powerful lesson in the trappings of social networking. They test public and private limits and have started an important and much-needed conversation about copyright and art in the digital age. They have also been sharp reminders that our self-exposure and digital exhibitionism doesn’t exist in the vacuums of our various feeds, but very much enters into public territory.

    The most absurd part in all of this postmodernist pageantry however, happened during my exchange with Gagosian’s PR when I asked for press images and was told, “I’m afraid that we don’t have permission to use any images of any individual works.” Irony is a beautiful, twisted thing.

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    There’s been a lot of conversation in the studio recently about art exhibitions that beg to be photographed, and they don’t come much more Instagrammable than the Jeff Koons retrospective. Having started out at New York’s Whitney Museum and then progressing to Paris’ Centre Pompidou, the show has just begun the final leg of its journey at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, where we attended the opening last week; to take a selfie with the balloon dog, among other things.

  11. Carsten-holler-list

    Leafing through the Serious Art Critics’ reactions to Carsten Höller’s huge fairground of a show at the Hayward, I felt optimistic, smug even. “Old fuddy-duddies,” I thought. Yes, that’s it – they’ve forgotten how to have fun! Love-in, hippy me mulled over my kindly utopian ideas about how art should be democratic, how wonderful it is to have the wee kiddie-winks enjoying art just as us cerebral grown-ups can. Sadly, I’m now about to agree with the bunch. They’re not really just world-weary and po-faced, they’re right: the show’s really not all that after all.

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    Bridget Riley’s work is utterly fascinating to me. Her enormous geometric canvases, ranging from illusory patterns to orderly explosions of colour have developed over the course of her career to create an extensive oeuvre exploring every dark corner of shape and form. Behind the expansive canvases lies a deeply methodical approach which, although invisible to the viewer, is the concrete foundation to her work, and in this new UK retrospective at the De La Warr Pavilion the accompanying studies will be displayed alongside the finished canvases. Spanning 50 years worth of her curve paintings and including more than 30 paintings and studies, it looks set to be a show to remember.

  13. Ema-itsnicethat-list

    Musician and multi-media artist EMA has launched a call-out to members of the public to send her their “sacred objects,” which she will digitally destroy as part of a performance piece called I Wanna Destroy (Sacred Objects from Suburban Homes). The piece will take place as part of her residency in Station to Station: A Three Day Happening at the Barbican this summer, and will take the form of an immersive performance and installation featuring music, visuals, and a virtual reality environment for Oculus Rift.

  14. Duane_hanson_serpentine_itsnicethat_list

    Walking through the doors of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery you’re instantly met by Duane Hanson’s Flea Market Lady parading her worldly belongings in a yard sale. You expect her to look up and acknowledge your arrival, but she remains still. Even though you know she’s a mixed media amalgamation of oil, bronze and plastic, a part of you still expects her to glance away from her magazine. This unnerving feeling follows you throughout the Duane Hanson retrospective and his sculptures exude such an overwhelming presence it’s both captivating and unsettling. 

  15. Camille-walala-itsnicethat-list

    If you’ve walked around east London at any point over the past few years, the chances are you’ve come across some of Camille Walala’s work. You can’t miss it – her geometric designs are plastered across walls from Great Eastern Street to Redchurch Street, with a few popping up in New York and Paris, too. The artist and designer had always wanted to paint walls, she told us, so she started with one small space in Shoreditch, and now she’s taking over the world, one Memphis-patterned wall at a time.

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    Fredrik Åkum’s slightly psychedelic, hazy paintings of palm fronds and pineapples seem an unlikely choice of subject for an artist working out of Gothenburg. Unlikely or not, the exotic plant kingdom is the Swedish painter’s chosen arena. In case you don’t remember Fredrik from the 2013 It’s Nice That Annual, his lush body of work is made up of acrylic and vinyl paintings of tropical foliage that melt like mirages in the sultry days of summer. We’ve written about these before, and although some of the heat has been taken out of his more recent work as Fredrik embraces a somewhat cooler palette, all their jungle-like delirium remains.

  17. Agnes_martin_gratitude_2001_it's_nice_that_list

    “It’s easy to walk past an Agnes Martin,” says Frances Morris, co-curator of the artist’s Tate Modern retrospective that opens today. Such is the subtlety of her paintings: taut graphite lines and pallid washes of pink, yellow and blue. Martin’s pared down compositions reduced painting to a bare minimum with a handful of pencils, some masking tape and more water than paint, and while her work is often celebrated as Minimalist, she resisted the label’s lofty undertones in favour of Expressionism’s gut instincts.

    Her signature grids and diluted colours may seem at odds with the mostly male school of Abstract Expressionism she considered herself part of, but upon closer inspection, visible brushstrokes and a very physical relationship with her canvases mean her material restraint and tightly drawn lines set limits without eschewing the human hand and the integral surface of modern American painting. Throughout her life Martin suffered debilitating episodes of schizophrenia and her careful, calm paintings belie her ongoing struggles both spiritual and personal. As much as her work was a kind of controlled escapism from her fragile mental health, it was first and foremost about painting itself. Finding solace in the repetitive nature of her work, after a laboured mathematical process of mapping out her compositions, she painted fluidly and quickly, tissuing off any drips.

  18. Olafur-eliasson-lego-its-nice-that-list

    Artist Olafur Eliasson has created a Lego cityscape to take over New York’s High Line public space, which members of the public can play with. The piece is named The collectivity project, and to create it the artist drafted in ten architecture practices including OMA New York and Renzo Piano, each of which created a structure to form part of the overall piece which can then be modified by members of the public throughout the installation’s tenure.

  19. Discoverers-alliance-itsnicethat-new-list

    There’s nothing like a visual project which makes you question your own eyes, and the Discoverer’s Alliance, a series and exhibition made as a result of a collaboration between set designer Owen Gildersleeve and photographer Benedict Morgan, certainly does that.

  20. Tracey-emin-tropic-of-cancer-010-penguin-list

    Tracey Emin has created covers for Penguin, working up cover art for Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. The images use Emin’s typical confessional, slightly bleak, but enchanting gouache brushstrokes to depict female nudes, and feel very fitting for the books’ content. It’s a meeting of two sublime creatives, and props to Penguin for facilitating the collaboration. The pair both look at the messy and difficult, with unflinching views of sex and its implicit trials and ridiculousness. Lovely work.

  21. Sanda_anderlon_at_the_beach_itsnicethat_list

    Like Hieronymus Bosch for the digital age, Croatia-based Sanda Anderlon’s monumental collages are fantastically detailed and intricate. Created on her computer by painstakingly editing thousands of images she’s found online, Sanda Anderlon has a knack for capturing the smaller moments on a large scale.

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    The term “public art” often elicits a few groans from art critics, but when you consider London’s key public art spaces – the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, the Serpentine Gallery, and Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall – it’s difficult to overlook the impact sculptures and installation can have in public environments where they reach millions of people each year.

  23. List-hanna-tuulikki-away-with-the-birds-its-nice-that-

    Few art projects merge feminism, singing, birds and the ecosystems of the Hebrides. Indeed, aside from Hanna Tuulikki’s Away with the Birds, we can’t think of another. The piece, made with arts organisation The Space, is a vocal score written for an all-female ensemble that takes inspiration from the landscape of the Hebrides to create a musical composition that mimics birdsong. This was initially performed on the island of Canna back in August last year, and arts organisation The Space has now commissioned artist Hanna to create a digital version for online audiences, launching this summer to continue the artist’s explorations of womanhood, nature and the online space as an environment in its own right. We had a chat with Hanna to find out more.

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    There’s a raw, energetic feel to the work of Kerry James Marshall – it’s all bold brushstrokes and bright colours that can’t help but channel a sense of movement and action. The Alabama-born artist now lives in Chicago, and manages to get that raw, outsider art feel combined with a rigorous eye for colour and composition. The works that have particularly pulled us in are the ones that capture their subject in a moment of repose or rapture, whether quietly sunning themselves, looking in the mirror or diving into a pool. They’re the unposed moments where people are truly themselves, and Kerry’s brushes articulate them beautifully.

  25. Danielrozin-pompommirror-itsnicethat-list

    There are a lot of artists doing interesting things with digital but for me the most engaging are those who explore the points at which human and computers come together to create something interactive – such as the Random International collective (of Rain Room fame) and Daniel Rozin. The latter, a New York-based artist, educator and developer, has just opened a new show at the bitforms gallery which includes one of the most striking interactive projects we’ve come across for ages.

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    It may be my former life as a hack but there’s something about the word “biggest” that always piques my interest. That said, ambition only gets you so far and you can’t sacrifice skill or style in a headlong rush for scale. With Universal Everything though, you needn’t worry. On Friday the studio created its largest projection to date, lighting up the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House with hand-drawn animations from 22 of the world’s best creatives. Every year the landmark commissions an artist to work on its curves and Matt Pyke and his team jumped at the chance to take on an opportunity that “epitomises everything we strive for.”

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    Swiss art duo Linus Bill and Adrien Horni’s ongoing collaboration has produced a great body of irreverent, experimental work. They first joined forces in 2011 when they were invited to produce the artistic supplement of the Swiss Art Directors Club advertising awards. Controversially, they turned the notion of award-winning design on its head by producing a Xeroxed, deconstructed version celebrating the refused entries. This kind of do-it-yourself subversion has been the undercurrent running through everything the two image-makers (and breakers) have done since.

  28. Michaelcraig-martin-onbeinganartist-istnicethat-list

    In some circumstances, calling a book On Being An Artist would seem pretentious and pompous, but if anyone knows about being an artist, it’s Michael Craig-Martin. Over his extraordinary career he has studied with Chuck Close and Richard Serra, met the likes of Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, John Cage and Charles Saatchi, had work shown at Tate Modern, the Pompidou Centre and MoMA, and taught some of the YBAs’ leading lights including Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas.

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    Ballsy, bizarre and a little bit racy, these Mexican pulp fiction book covers are fantastic fun and epitomise our need for a bit of weird naughtiness. The kitsch-factor is overwhelming as scantily clad women run away in terror, a man in purple spandex is surrounded by adoring cats and giant robots menacingly pick up shiny red cars.

    As part of an exhibition at New York gallery Ricco Maresca held earlier this year, the collection is a celebration of pulp paperbacks released in Mexico during the 60s and 70s. Many of the artists remain unidentified which is a shame as some of these are absolute gems. Without book titles, there’s no context for the artwork and we’re left with the ordinary and extraordinary crashing into each other in glorious fashion. According to Ricco Maresca, there’s a key difference between Mexican pulp art and the American pulp art coming out at the same time. As well as the drama and sauciness, much of Mexican pulp art prominently featured violence, sci-fi, psychedelia, and crime, making it all the more outrageous.

  30. Yayoi-kusama-itsnicethat-list

    Yayoi Kusama is one of few artists who is seems to be without comparison. Her new exhibition, Give Me Love takes place at New York’s David Zwirner gallery, and features a collection of her enormous brightly coloured canvases. Their sunny dispositions are undercut with titles which reveal a more disquieting undertone for example I Who Cry in the Flowering Season, or I Am Dying Now There the Death Is. In another room a series of her bulging Pumpkin sculptures, reminiscent of decaying fruit in spite of their metallic sheen and polka dot finish, reinforces the juxtaposition of the joyous and the sinister.

  31. Brest_history_and_chips_it's_nice_that_list

    Imagine a John Stezaker collage let loose in the kitchen and you’ve got the History and Chips series from Brest Brest Brest. With a portfolio that includes a poster of Elvis Presley’s face emerging from a melting ice cream, the graphic design studio based in the south of France couldn’t fail to pique our interest. For their playful History and Chips collages, Rémy Poncet and Arnaud Jarsaillon have raided the fridge and dressed up classic movie stills and vintage portraits with everything from smoked salmon and mustard, to ham and pineapple. A testament to the fact that food makes everything better, these old pictures are given a new lease of life thanks to a little bubblegum and a wry sense of humour.

  32. Olafur_eliasson_the_weather_project_it's_nice_that

    This week the most visited modern and contemporary art museum in the world celebrates its 15 year anniversary. After its transformation from derelict power station to beloved beacon of British culture, Tate Modern has defined a generation and helped open art to the everyman. Here, we look at some of the top moments over the last decade and a half at Britain’s leading arts institution.

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    I’ve slid down an art installation before thanks to Carsten Höller, and I’ve frolicked about in a room full of balloons thanks to Martin Creed, but never before had I literally swum in art until this morning. Bright and early, there I was shivering in art, thanks to a bathing pond art installation in a building site in London’s King’s Cross. The piece, formally known as Of Soil and Water: the King’s Cross Pond Club , was created by Ooze Architects (Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg) and artist Marjetica Potrč, and takes the form of a natural, chemical-free pool, complete with plants and bushes. And who knows what else – I didn’t dare think what one day could be lurking in there after the maggoty old python Hampstead Heath ponds story of a few years back. 

  34. List

    They wowed us in 2010 with their pop-up cinema in an old petrol station in Clerkenwell, The Cineroleum, and the following year they won us over with Folly for a Flyover in Hackney Wick. Now, after 15 years of transforming unusual spaces, the east London collective Assemble has been shortlisted for the 2015 Turner Prize for the revival of a cluster of derelict terraced houses in Liverpool, Granby Four Streets. Borne out of the DIY-culture and the flurry of pop-ups like Bold Tendencies that took London by storm a few years ago, the collective of 18 designers and architects is an exciting choice, and a first for the often sensational art prize.

  35. List-erik-kessels-unfinished-father_002-its-nice-that

    Kesselskramer co-founder Erik Kessels’ side projects usually seem light-hearted: take his book Attack of the Giant Fingers, for instance. His latest project, though, has a decidedly more serious slant, having been borne of his father suffering a stroke. For the project, named Unfinished Father, Erik looked to his pa’s passion for restoring Fiat 500 (Topolino) cars. Prior to his stroke, Kessels senior was halfway through completing his fifth of such restorations, but it was left unfinished since the attack left him barely able to move or speak.

  36. List-jeremy-deller-vinyl-factory-venice-biennale-its-nice-that

    All-round superdude Jeremy Deller has created a jukebox for the Venice Biennale. But instead of Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way or other pub staples like Russ Abbott’s Atmosphere, it plays only the sounds of factories. Cleverly named Factory Records, the piece contains 40 seven-inch records, each of which features the ambient sound of a different factory. Visitors to the piece can put on whichever they fancy, and if they really like it, they will be able to buy the sounds as a limited-edition box set designed by Deller with Fraser Muggeridge and released by The Vinyl Factory. The work continues Deller’s ongoing investigations into English working-class concerns, and links to his Venice Biennale performative piece, which uses archive materials to look at factory working conditions from the 19th Century to the present day.

  37. Robertnicol-itsnicethat-list

    It’s been a few years now since we posted the work of artist, illustrator and Camberwell tutor Robert Nicol, but our tardiness only means there’s a heap of new work for us to enjoy in his portfolio. From paintings to book covers, editorial illustrations to ceramic sculptures, Rob’s able to turn his versatile talents to a number of different ends. It’s interesting to look at his work together and see how he can amplify or refine certain traits depending on the job in hand. So we have his wonderful paintings where bold colours and surreal characters are given free rein, contrasted with his stylish book covers where hints of narrative achieve a lot in a quieter context.

  38. List--itsnicethat-ppic0035_picasso

    It’s always great to see another side of the biggest names in art, and in this selection of posters from artists including Picasso, Henri Matisse, Yves Klein and Le Corbusier, our curiosity is amply satisfied. These masters’ works have been drawn together for a London exhibition showcasing lithographic posters from the archive of Galerie Mourlot, which originated in Paris but now calls New York its home. Each of the posters is lithograph printed, and all are fascinating; many showing a looser style to the ones we’re so familiar with from these big names.

  39. Christophniemann-esgibtnichtgutes-itsnicethat-list

    My colleague Emily Gosling wrote a great piece for the latest issue of our Printed Pages magazine in which she called out the patent nudity of the emperor by saying that in reality, the creative process can be pretty dull to witness. Obviously that’s not to say that we want to see slick creative work with all traces of the artist removed; in fact in our digitally-defined age we delight in being able to see the spirit of the image-maker writ large.

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    If you like Eric Yahnker – and let’s face it, who doesn’t? – then you’re really going to enjoy the work of Kristofferson San Pablo, a Filipino artist now based in Los Angeles. His work takes an ironic look at popular culture, lampooning it for its absurdity, but also acknowledging its utter infectiousness. Kristofferson’s strange pencil drawings and luxurious paintings eroticise Simpsons characters, destroy our lust for celebrities and ridicule the stars of reality television, making sure that when surveying the modern world our tongues are kept firmly in cheek.