On my radar: Mark Leckey’s cultural highlights

Born in Birkenhead in 1964, the artist Mark Leckey came to prominence with 1999’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, which documented British nightclub culture. He won the 2008 Turner prize for the exhibition Industrial Light and Magic; in 2019, he recreated an M53 concrete flyover at Tate Britain. His most recent project, In the Offing, opened at Turner Contemporary, Margate in October 2023. He lives in London with his wife, curator Lizzie Carey-Thomas, and their two children. Leckey has created the sound for Oona Doherty’s Wall, performed by National Youth Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells, London on 13 July, then touring.

1. Museum

Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena

Sassetta’s City by the Sea (view of Talamone), (c1340), in Siena’s Pinacoteca. Photograph: Pinacoteca Nazionale Siena

I first went to this museum about two years ago. You get beautiful paintings that haven’t left the spiritual and mystical dimensions of iconography and moved completely into the quite rational way of painting that the Renaissance introduced. One of my favourite paintings is here, City By the Sea, by Sassetta. It’s a glorious painting seen from this impossible perspective, I guess from God’s eye – you’re looking down on this jewel of a city. In modern terms, everything’s off, none of the planes make sense. But there’s a sense that he was painting some other reality.

2. Gig

Chuquimamani-Condori at Assembly, Somerset House, London

Chuquimamani-Condori: ‘The music they make has this intensity I’ve never felt before.’

They are a Bolivian American artist: they’re a very graceful figure, with a cowboy hat and a keytar strapped around them, and the music they make has an intensity I’ve never felt before. It’s on the very edge of noise. It incorporates Bolivian folk elements and a lot of bass, and everything’s distorted. But in that distortion and noise, it was transcendent. It was that moment when you’re at a concert and you know everyone in the room is feeling the same thing as you are, because the music is speaking to everyone. There’s something really ferocious about it.

3. Podcast

Weird Studies

A poster for the 1982 film The Thing, a topic on the Weird Studies podcast. Photograph: Cinetext/Universal/Allstar

I refused podcasts for a long time in some perverse way, but now I’m really into them. Weird Studies comes out of Canada, and it’s two philosophers talking about everything from the occult to theology, but applied to popular culture. The last one I listened to, they were talking about Sun Ra and Gnosticism; they’ve also talked about Mad Max films and Deleuze and Guattari, and John Carpenter’s The Thing and Schopenhauer. At art school I found critical theory dense and difficult, but JF Martel can put forward complicated ideas and I feel them resonate in my mind.

4. Art

Conditions, Croydon

I don’t know if Conditions call themselves an alternative art school – they’re a “low-cost studio programme for artists” – but that’s how I think of them. Basically, you get a studio and there’s a programme of talks, workshops and tutorials. It’s a very successful programme: accessible and cheap, especially in comparison to universities, which have become essentially unaffordable. So there’s these alternative art schools opening up, like TOMA (“the other MA”) in Southend, and School of the Damned. A lot of the artists that come out are really good. I find it very hopeful.

5. Book

Come Closer by Sara Gran

I’ve always liked horror. When I’m reading or watching horror I’m so absorbed, it takes my mind off everything else. It becomes almost like a form of meditation. Over the past four or five years there’s been an outpouring of horror, particularly by female writers. This was my favourite – it was first published in 2003, but rereleased in 2021. It’s about supernatural possession and domestic politics. That’s what horror does: it gets to talk about other, mundane things by amplifying them and making them terrifying.

6. Music

axxturel

I’ve been doing a show on NTS Radio for nearly 10 years, so I’m continually searching for new music. Axxturel’s quite mysterious. I guess you’d call him part of SoundCloud rap, where they put out tracks really rapidly and often go under slightly different names. Axxturel has a strange sound, almost like he’s trying to impersonate the internet – there’s a sort of “all at once”-ness to it. My favourite of his tracks is called Loxxing Me, featuring islurwhenitalk, who’s another one of these rappers that I like.

The Guardian