Acumulus Noblitatus

Paul Noble was next showing
Nobson Newtown work in London in November 2001, which was most frustrating for me.

What I mean is, from July 1999, until not long after the resignation of Janet Street Porter in October 2001, I was reviewing shows for the
Independent on Sunday. I reviewed about 150 shows in this time, half a dozen of them at Maureen Paley’s Interim Art. But when I went along to her gallery on Herald Street (the other side of Bethnal Green tube station from where her previous gallery had been sited) to see ‘Acumulus Noblitatus’, it was in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to review it. My platform had gone the way of all artificial support structures.

Downstairs, there were two large drawings.
Acumulus Noblitatus and Public Toilet. Which one did I look at to begin with? I’m pretty sure I looked at the former first, led to it by the press release which revealed that the chopped down forest in the triangular area on the left of the composition contained tree stumps rendered in Nobson font and which spelled out a quote from a letter that Gerard Winstanley wrote to Oliver Cromwell in 1652. No hard work required from the viewer this time then. Not yet anyway:

‘And the nations of the world...’ (that part is particularly easy to read in the top left corner of the picture) ‘...will never learn to beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and leave off warring, until this cheating device of buying and selling be cast among the rubbish of kingly power.’

The word in large letters, amongst the mountains, spells out ‘SQUAT’. It would seem that the work is about the costs of capitalism and the possibilities of an alternative lifestyle.


If I remember correctly, my curiosity took me fairly quickly to the second large drawing which also featured mountains on the edge of Nobson Newtown, mountains surrounded by knobbly, turd-like clouds:


First, I translated the obvious words from Nobson into regular English. ‘PUBLIC’ is above ‘TOILET’. Above both is a line of letters that reads ‘FUCKMEFUC’. Why does the line of letters break off? I suppose because it could go on forever. The cry of a victim of constipation or capitalism or both?

Before answering that question, I went upstairs to have a look at something I was even more curious about. The press release mentioned a film called
Unified Nobson. A film about Nobson Newtown? Bring it on...

So I sat upstairs and watched the computer animation. The basic set-up is shown by the still below. The shopping mall in the middle of town is indicated by one tower rather than four... Not much sign of the central wasteland... Ye Olde Ruin is bottom right of centre, on the seafront, as it is in the original map that came with the Chisenhale show. The sludge from a pipe is slipping down onto the S of NOBSLUM rather than the B as in the 1997 drawing. And there is an additional flow down onto the N. The big egg shape is Nobjobclub, and Nobpark is visible alongside. Yup, it’s the same place all right.


If I remember rightly, clouds come in from the sea. Or is it smoke from C.L.I.P.ON. - which is just in shot top right - that builds up? I can’t remember, except I’m pretty sure that that’s all that happens. The clouds and/or smoke build up so that the town is obscured. Then it all disperses and we’re back to enjoying a clear view of Nobson Newtown. And, in due course, the cycle starts again. I watched the loop a few times. I would watch it again now but I don’t think
Unified Nobson is in the public realm. Maureen Paley’s Interim Art made the film available in an edition of three. I don’t know which galleries or individuals bought copies.

The best I can do is pop down to Whitley Bay courtesy of Google. The clouds are just beginning to gather over Nobfront.

Screen shot 2012-11-07 at 17.24.47

And the view from Nobfront? Well, you can see from the image below. More utopian than dystopian, I’d say. The clouds are made of cotton wool, not human excrement. At least that’s the impression I get. But then what do I know? Not enough, is the answer to that. Never enough.

Screen shot 2012-11-07 at 17.27.54

When I went back downstairs at Interim Art in 2001, I no doubt looked again at
Acumulus Noblatatis and Public Toilet, but not for very long. Eleven years later, to compensate for my intellectual laziness on the day, I have ordered a poster of Acumulus Noblatatis. As I type, it should be winging its way from the offices of Cabinet Magazine in New York. Actually, I’ve been told it will take two to five weeks to get here, so it must be bobbing along on the ocean waves, not winging it.

The day after paying by debit card online, I got the following email:

Dear Duncan, Thank you so much for your interest in our publication. As anxious as we are to process your order, we are afraid that you have accidentally selected the US shipping rate. As a result, we are $4 short and unable to fulfill your order. This can be solved quite easily: on the page below, you'll see a virtual item called "Miscellaneous payment" being "sold" for $1 per unit. Please click on "toss into cart," then on the following page, set the quantity at "4" so that sufficient funds will be transferred.

So I tossed into cart another four dollars. They could have asked for double and I’d have tossed that into the cartie just the same. Isn’t that capitalism working as it should?

Anyway, all I can say for now about this endless wait for a proper look - 11 years for sure and a possible five weeks for good measure - is: FUCKMEFUCKMEFUCKMEFUCKME...

But no, let me exercise some restraint here. Let me look out of the window at the clouds passing by, as Paul Noble has no doubt done in both Whitley Bay and East London...

Forward, forward. Oh, that must be wonderful...

(To be continued once poster arrives.)

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