Faggatronix Meet James Unsworth


Written by Fayann Smith
19 Monday 19th November 2007

Exclaiming, “That’s the biggest pile of shit I’ve ever seen” in the middle of an art gallery could be considered tactless, unless you are actually looking at a big turd pile... and thankfully I was.

Not only was it big, it was inexplicably exquisite, painstakingly rendered and positioned proudly at the centre of a print by Royal College of Art graduate James Unsworth – a gleaming brown gem in a tapestry of dysfunction. His subject matter, an often grotesque exploration of the most profane and unsettling relationships and urges that define the human experience, is explored with a series of incredibly detailed prints and drawings.

Destruction of the Colossus by James Unsworth
210x148mm, screenprint, 2007

Unsworth’s graphic, humorous and masterfully executed visions of mental netherworlds, warped fairytale-like scenarios and gross physical processes are pitched perfectly between the repulsive and the beguiling. The connection between James and the primary artist in this joint show, legendary musician and “outsider” artist Daniel Johnston, beloved of luminaries such as David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Harmony Korine, is obvious.

Meeting at Calder Gate by James Unsworth
Don't Panic poster March 2007

Johnston’s esoteric, brightly coloured and consciously naïve hand depicts a carnival of mythological creatures and comic book characters, some gleaned from popular culture, some from his own intensely personal and troubled psychological vernacular. An unsavoury world of obsession, paranoia and hallucinatory nostalgia is scrawled in ink, pen and magic marker with claustrophobic intensity, each page narrated by weird dialogue in speech bubbles.

I'll Try, Dear by Daniel Johnston
21,6 x 28 cm, ink pen and color marker, 2002

I was stationed in front of the poignant Mini-Vegas short film for Johnston’s song True love will find you in the end, an animated interpretation of characters from Johnston’s work, when the DJ team Faggatronix joined me for a chat about their response the exhibition and their latest plans for DJ supremacy.

Positioning themselves on two giant rabbit-dropping-like bean bags (the scatological vibe persists!) they got comfortable and introduced themselves to me. Faggatronix are Alex Bok Bok and Manara, a girl/boy duo who hail from South London and they show the London Mosh-up DJ scene how it’s done.

The ‘Mosh-up’ label, as it is applied in London at the moment, refers to a recent crop of DJs who offer eclectic, experimental and anything-goes sets to mixed crowds across the capital. The music policies are broad and skilfully bridge lots of distinct sounds and scenes.


Faggatronix want to get right down to it and their response to the gallery setting was one of ambivalent bemusement – “It’s ok, I mean I know who Daniel Johnston is, but erm can we just ignore it?”

They obviously had a lot to say about what made them distinctive in these DJ-saturated times. “We mix. We aren’t like all those indie DJs who just trainwreck their way through their sets and we don’t just download tracks from blogs either – we are upstart DJs with skills. We play music with banging basslines. I (Alex Bok Bok) started off in grime, but I like anything made to sound good in a club.”

It is their persistent interest in urban music, which they play without irony or tokenism that really sets them apart. When I asked them to clarify what they meant by urban, they explained they were aware of the stereotypes and emphasised that for them urban isn’t a race specific phenomena. It is more about economic and cultural alienation.

James Unsworth and Scottee pose for Don't Panic

“People still find a lot of these tunes controversial and anything over 140 bpm can be an issue.” They drop some of the edgier, new urban tracks alongside more universally appealing ones, like the perennial favourite Flowers by Sweet Female Attitude. The effect is crowd pleasing but still challenging – a hallmark of the Mosh-up trend. To close the interview I try to get a little dirt and ask them if they have anything quirky they want to share. “Did you know we are a couple?” Whoa! Now that’s commitment!

The 'It's The End of the Show' exhibit is running till 12 Jan 2008 at the Vegas Gallery, 64-66 Redchurch Street, open Wed - Sat, 12 till 6
See more of James Unsworth's artwork at his website:

Catch Faggatronix matching music with other music at WE WERE THERE @ Amersham Arms on 23 Nov. They can also be found online: http://www.myspace.com/faggatronix

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