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The cod often casts an eye on our behaviour with our propensity to take paths that lead to misery, both politically and aesthetically. So, in this instance, I feel that it’s my duty to let the cod speak directly.
“To put it bluntly, how is it that you haven’t sorted out the idea of your so-called postmodern period; that all started way back in the 1960’s. Also, there is this rather annoying element of the ‘enlightenment’ as a way of thinking, that pervaded the modern movement, that, as Baudelaire put it, ‘Modernity is to develop objective science, universal morality and autonomous art according to their inner logic’. That kind of thinking was in the 19th century, a move towards the emancipation and the enrichment of life. In art you called it progress through the meta-narrative. All that appears to have been ditched. You’re floundering in a mess of pastiche and kitsch in the arts in this present day.
It’s time you saw that time and space have altered through compression of both. Space and time in art have become something different to the modern idea. You humans have not risen to the challenge completely. If the modern was drawn to the idea of reason through the enlightenment, where did it leave the freedom of the artist? Globalization, too, has to question the idea of freedom of the artist. What is freedom? Is it possible? If I come back again to look at what you humans are doing to resolve these important issues and you have not countered them intelligently I will have to do some more thinking.”
I have to listen to my dear old friend or the seas will get even more turbulent. So, my next move, just in case Cod of Codswallop might break the silence, is to set up a collaboration connecting Codswallop with Falmouth University. This event is a performance of dancers, performance artists, a musician, two narrators and two surveillance cameras with projections, with drawings on the ground. The artists will examine postmodern ideas in relationship with the enlightenment and the state of the arts today. They will form a microcosm of the world as it is. Trapped as we are in a cash flow of corrupted economics, cultural mimicry and a circulatory set of ideas brought about by the stench of reason and commerce.
I don’t want to be here. The title of the performance signifies the desperation of the artist and their protest. I don’t want to be here trapped in networks of control where values have no meaning except in whirling systems of profit and loss, greed, and exploitation. But as the performance indicates, we fight. We fight ideas of cause and effect, we fight for chaos and imagination against reason. We fight the border guards and heed the voices of the narration as they voice the adventure of not knowing. Not knowing where action will take us, or what kind of reality we will create, is our condition. We explore the realities of culture today to arrive at the ‘Reality of the Trap’. We are sleepwalking into an abyss of our own making. What the Cod in Codswallop is saying is that artists have a duty and a responsibility to actively present the predicament not only of the cultural environment but also of our minds. The media slides like worms into innate values of human vitality. My material is in paint and performance, nevertheless I need to speak because I don’t want to be here. The trap as a real place, the border guards are real, the surveillance cameras are real. We fight in the name of art through art. Time and space is still the province of the artist. Today the compression of both point to confusion. The need is to challenge the idea of a single and objective sense of time and space against which we can measure the diversity of human conceptions and perceptions.

Ken Turner

Volume 32 no 6 July/August 2018 p 5

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Pierre Totnes

Hi Ken, Have you seen what Nan Goldin is doing with her protest of the Sackler funding at the National Portrait Gallery in London? She is rightly protesting the “networks of control where values have no meaning except in whirling systems of profit and loss, greed, and exploitation.” It’s time we stood up to these institutions, though I think the gallery will probably find a way to unload her and take the £1m, even if it is dirty money earned off the profits of OxyContin. Besides, her boycott will only give them more press coverage than perhaps her exhibition would… Read more »

Kenneth Davies

We need to step back a moment and look at the work that this man has done and is still doing today! Why is the clamour so silent? What are people afraid of? Afraid that they will be awakened to take action and to all start Codswalloping or Banksying their work? It is high time we open our doors and minds to change; there is no place for fear or inaction.

Abe Newton

Hi Ken,
Though I find this article very challenging in more ways than one, I would very much like to read more writings by you. Where can I find them?
Thank you and best wishes,

Alex Noutie

Hi Ken,
Why the choice of the codfish as your symbol? Does the cod have some sort of special power for you like the Kwakiutl First Nations Indians believed? For them the lunar eclipse was “caused by a codfish trying to swallow the moon” and they would make “a large bonfire and add green boughs to produce dense smoke, which causes the codfish to cough and spit out the moon.” (from Jim Oooooo’s book, What I Did on My Summer Vacation Or North to Alaska: An Inside Passage Cruise, p. 102).

Cod Lady

Happy New Year to Ken Turner and the Codswallop Movement from the Cod Ladies! We look forward to your performance in Falmouth in the spring. Is there a date so that we can make our plane reservations?

dott. Giovanni de Santis

May I ask dear Cod Ladies who you all are and what your role is in the Codswallop Movement?
I, too, would be interested in knowing the date of the next performance in Falmouth.

Cod Lady

Hi Giovanni, We are a group of 11 female artists from various parts of the world, who are fed up with established art. One of us was in St Ives when Ken Turner had his famous Codswallop performance. Since then, thanks to an artist residency in Nice, we have united in support of this movement which for us means fighting the fake art world out there and the “institutions” that represent it. We would like to meet up in Falmouth at Ken’s next performance. I come from Queens in New York, but other Cod Ladies come from Bangor, Maine, Rio,… Read more »

Karen Danwell

You have all failed; just the fact that you are a group of 11 female artists says it all – hopeless, to say the least.

Cod Lady

Hi Karen,
Does it really matter that we are male or female artists? Perhaps you would like to join us in our endeavor. Come to Falmouth (UK) for the next Codswallop performance so that we can meet and perhaps go forward with a strategy to combat what we are talking about. Let’s hope that Ken Turner gives us a date soon for his next Codswallop performance so that we can organize in time.

Faye Dobinson

Hi Karen, In part I agree with you, but we must also look at the fact that they have organized a small protest group at an international level that is fed up with the state of the arts today, increasing their impact because they are from various countries around the world. What I don’t like is that they distinguish themselves as a group of female artists vs. a group of male artists, when they should just be a group of artists. Women must stop setting themselves apart because it makes them lose some of their worthiness, especially when we still… Read more »

John Wu

Hi Ken, You wrote, “Globalization, too, has to question the idea of freedom of the artist.” What is globalization in your opinion? Isn’t it just a phenomenon of the capitalistic world, which excludes many underdeveloped countries? I see it as a homogenization of our culture, our beliefs and our creativity, with the end result that today’s artists have little to say that is original, except what everyone else is saying in the art world or rather in the global village. However the less developed countries fare no better, as their artists try to copy what is going on in the… Read more »

Gina Milller

A Brexit minimart exhibition has opened in London under the name of Costupper. It has on display tired flowers, a couple of oranges in an empty crate, butter labelled with “I Can’t Believe the Price of this Butter”, “Conman’s Mustard”, “Tomato Botchup” and other items parodying how the shops will be after Brexit. Unfortunately, this highly creative exhibition closed yesterday after only 2 days.

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Pendery Weekes

Having personally had the opportunity to visit Ken Turner’s studio just outside St Ives in Cornwall, I ask why his important work is not being covered and written about more, why it’s not being shown more around the world? Why is it not being discussed and examined? I found his work nothing short of exceptional, as it witnesses his philosophy and thinking done with paint. Hard to describe, I had a very moving experience with his display, or rather dance, that he created with his paintings. It was truly unique and worthy of a film so that others could perhaps… Read more »

Cod Lady

Knock, knock Mr Codswallop, are you there? Are you perhaps sleeping and letting it pass you by? Cod Lady here would like to know what you think. Come on and roll up your sleeves; get involved and bring out the cod in you. I’ve been waiting for weeks for you to get involved, but sadly, no further comment here from you. Did Banksy shred your tongue?

Nicky Kaur

What is it that attracts everyone to Codswallop? I’ve been following this phenomenon for a few months now and really do wonder. I think it might be the transgression from the mainstream art world, that frankly, has become boring. Codswallop appears to offer a window of creativity, stemming from the rebellious Ken Turner, who I understand is in his nineties. Does it take a 90 year old man to tell us that we are all sleeping and letting it pass us by? I think he has made his point and look forward to his next work.

Rob Tanaka

Hi Nicky,
People are not only attracted to Codswallop, they are consoled that someone has opened up a platform for the truth. Looking at numbers, there have been over 5,000 readers of this article which is an indication of the power of the Codswallop message. I believe Ken Turner is really on to something.

Ken Turner

I feel that I and the cod have to say something about the interest in codswallop. Codswallop is a means to work subversively as an art form. For many years, that is since 1968, the year of revolt for some of us is where I began be leaving London’s west end galleries, (after three solo shows), to just take to the streets. Where I established ‘Action Space’ to work outside institutions and established an artists run organisation. I haven’t stopped, though Action Space ceased in 1978 because there is still a need in today’s in contemporary arts to counteract the… Read more »


I agree with Pendery. Why is Ken Turner not recognized in Cornwall St Ives.? A good question that needs an answer. Ken is known to all in the Cultural community. He is dismissed as being too old. the Tate Gallery St Ives is consumed with trendy. That is what can be sold as fashionable. Culture is stuck. The Media is useless as it works on the lowest common denominator of a provincial populism. Ken Turner is a very intelligent and informed man. In my opinion, he is too idealistic for the St Ives crowd who are hell-bent in their commitment… Read more »

Michael Tang

So, what’s next Ken?

Ken Turner

I feel that it’s necessary to give at least a date for the start of rehearsals at Falmouth, which is 4th February, from there we will need to raise funds to continue, and continue we will regardless of success in raising funds. The Cod expects us to squarely face the issues I, and he raised on questions that are so important to art’s survival in the public realm: if not it will remain as an underground, undercurrent of activity until it breaks through the stupidity of so called intelligent human beings. Thank you all for such interest, I am heartened… Read more »