Mo-Leeza Roberts, HEAD, Bookworks: London, 2015
160pp; soft cover, four spot colours, with blind embossing; Design: Fraser Muggeridge Studio, and Head Gallery; 184mm x 110mm; 1,000; ISBN: 978 1 906012 67 0
Mo-Leeza Robert's novel Head describes the desperate future that clusters around Head Gallery like cockroaches swarming over a pig's head. It is at once critical and complicit, deluded and envious. Jerry-rigging saccharine sci-fi, with a leavened mush of curatorial artspeak, artists, collectors, hanger-ons and other art world actors explode in ecstasy, pain, or self-induced eradication – all, according to the whims of the Head Gallery, which remains an anonymous and inviolate force, the overseer of events and a selfless accumulator of prestige and wealth. Familiar contemporary artists are reanimated for the future, giving the events described an unsettling familiarity. Any reader familiar with the art world should feel both seduced, and infected. It is like Dickens but with laughs induced by our approaching extinction, and like Salò, written, directed and starred in by Barbara Gladstone.
Head Gallery is based in New York and Shanghai. It advises collectors, appraises antiques, bankrupts sponsors, gives out MAs in curatorial practice, commissions spiritual tracts, does expert restoration where apoc-damage is concerned, plans corporate events and retreats, disappears interns, holds alcohol support group sessions, funds Scottish nationalists, and produces bestiality instruction videos. It is also dedicated to producing critical art texts and troll feeds that are split between a written textual element located on the website, expanded press releases, or exhibition description, and materialised elements installed in galleries. It operates in between a future set in 2078, and the present.