after the fall



The first time any work of Art in Ruins was to be exhibited abroad we decided to use the occasion as an excuse to visit New York. Someone suggested we apply to the British Council for travel funding, and much to our surprise we were granted financial assistance. We were due to fly the day after American planes had bombed Libya and as a result, there was serious concern about the risk of hijacking by terrorists in retaliation. Despite this threat, however, and our condemnation of American actions, we decided not to cancel our short trip to New York … in order to ensure the travel grant didn’t go to someone else.

Following the success of this initial application, we found that the British Council was quite willing to fund further excursions abroad by Art in Ruins. For a while we were puzzled by this as it seemed so out of keeping with the generalised institutional reluctance to consider the activities of Art in Ruins as in any way legitimate. We joked that the reason the British Council was funding us to pursue activities abroad, was in the hope that it would lead to Art in Ruins staying abroad.

The mystery was solved on meeting Michael Bracewell, then a young writer about to receive widespread promotion as part of ‘a new generation of authors’ for his first novel of postmodern urban fiction. 1 He was an avid supporter of the work of Art in Ruins and, it seems, responsible for the British Council’s financial generosity, where he was working at the time.

We recall that he was about to do a ‘performance reading’ together with two other young writers on a TV arts programme and invited us to collaborate, with a backdrop cityscape and bales of straw. We cannot now remember why, but for some reason it didn’t happen but given our loathing of television it was perhaps not surprising …

Michael Bracewell compared Art in Ruins’ response to English culture to the hatred of Spanish culture under Franco by exiled writer and friend of Jean Genet, Juan Goytisolo. 2 Michael told us that his publisher was planning to publish the first English translation of Goytisolo’s early novel Landscapes after the Battle. He went to say that he had talked about our work to Peter Ayrton, founder of Serpents Tail, and recommended to him that he invite us to produce the cover for this forthcoming book.

We went to see Peter Ayrton in north London and came away with a photocopy of the proofs of the translation. We soon decided to use an image from one of our previous installations. Both the publication of the novel and its cover were a great success. Art in Ruins went on to do three more covers of translations of Goytisolo’s works in same vein.

This winning collaboration, facilitated by Michael Bracewell, came to an end when Goytisolo wrote a completely new work to be published by Serpents Tail and Peter Ayrton suggested that Art in Ruins also produce something new specially for the cover …


Landscapes after the Battle, Juan Goytisolo
Marks of Identity
Juan Goytisolo
Count Julian
Juan Goytisolo


What seemed like a lifetime later we were on a train from London to Stoke on Trent. We were reading quietly as the train pulled out of Euston station when someone walked by, stopped and turned around.
“Hello … it’s you … Art in Ruins!” exclaimed Michael Bracewell “how are you?”
He sat down opposite us and told us he was now living in Manchester where he said there was a really good scene.
“So, what are you up to?” he asked.
“We are going to Stoke to see Glyn’s mum and do the garden” I replied
“… and take the dog for a walk.” said Glyn
He looked serious.
“Every time I come across a compendium of recent music The Fall are never included. 3 I just don’t understand it. The Fall are one of the most influential English bands around. They’ve been through so many changes and influenced so many others, and yet they never get included …”

He looked at us and went on:
“Art in Ruins are like The Fall … an influence on everything that’s happened and never included in any surveys of recent history … I just can’t believe it.”
We mentioned to him that Matthew Slotover owed us an interview in Frieze magazine and that he welcomes new contributors. We suggested that he could use his observation as the basis for an essay about art and amnesia.

A couple of months later Michael Bracewell’s first essay as an art critic appeared in Frieze and it was not about The Fall, but …………… Roxy Music.