By Josephine Platt
Victoria Miro announced late last month that she is “delighted” to be representing Njideka Akunyili Crosby - this year’s winner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize.
As a succession to the $25,000 award, the 32-year-old Nigerian born artist, is now to be represented by one of the “grandes dames of the Britart scene”- the internationally acclaimed art dealer with dual London gallery spaces, Victoria Miro.
“Informed by art historical and literary sources, Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s complex, multi-layered works reflect contemporary transcultural identity…Akunyili Crosby’s large-scale figurative compositions are drawn from the artist’s memories and experiences,” it is noted on Victoria Miro’s website.
As she pushes a melange of acrylic, paste, colour pencils, charcoal, marble dust, collage and transfers, the LA based artist populates her work with images of family and friends, in scenarios with details derived from everyday domestic experiences in Nigeria and America.
Combining collage and photo-transfer to provide texture and complexity, Crosby’s bold yet intimate paintings are described as “among the most visually, conceptually, and technically exciting work being made today.”
Her painterly compositions feature images with a thematic resonance to each particular work, which derived from personal archives, Nigerian lifestyle magazines and sourced from the internet.
When concluding the decision for Crosby’s James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize, the jurors wrote: “Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s nuanced work reflects the increasingly transnational nature of the contemporary art world…She has created a sophisticated visual language that pays homage to the history of Western painting while also referencing African cultural traditions. Akunyili has a striking ability to depict deeply personal imagery that transcends the specificity of individual experience and engages in a global dialogue about trenchant social and political issues.”
Crosby has participated in numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including most recently “Draped Down” (2014) at The Studio Museum, “Sound Vision” (2014) at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and “Bronx Calling: The Second Bronx Biennial” (2013) at the Bronx Museum. She will see her work featured in the New Museum Triennial in 2015.
By Kristina Jensen
25-year-old Toronto-based Julie Riemersma lives to become a full time fashion photographer. Julie talks about her love for fashion, photography and the culmination of her two passions in ‘Pollock’.
So Julie, tell me - how did it all start?
I started using my first film camera when I was six or seven. I took pictures of ‘Sailor Moon’ on TV and of my grandmother drawing. I've always loved taking photos, but after a particularly stressful last year of high school I turned away from my expected path of a medical career to pursue being a fashion photographer. It practically happened on a whim. I decided not to live with any regrets and here I am!
And how have your pictures changed since you started studying photography?
I consider details much more now as I take a shot, especially the light. There is a lot more precision involved, but sometimes you still have to work with what’s available. When I get to a location and the light is difficult or low I still get to use my problem solving skills!
What is the most difficult part of being a photographer?
Probably the fact that you are your own boss. You have to be motivated, every day. You never have any real deadlines other than the ones you set yourself, so you have to be quite disciplined. In the long haul, it gets exhausting to continually try to get yourself out of bed, caffeinated and at the desk by 9am.
And the best part?
Shooting! All the pre- and postproduction nitty-gritties fade away when I have my camera in my hand. It’s a kind of high and it’s what I try to stay focused on. I also love collaging in Photoshop, and creating abstract and different art and fashion. Ideas for shoots tend to pop into my head randomly and are most of the time inspired by details in the everyday.
Tell me a bit about your portfolio. Is there a message in your pictures?
I try to capture beauty and, if I possibly can, also to capture a piece of my subject’s soul. I have a lot of images and concepts in my head and much of my upcoming work will be about getting what I imagine out of my head and on to film.
I’ve always loved fashion, since I first got my hands on my mother’s Vogue magazines. As someone who aspired to become a professional photographer, fashion seemed like the best way to combine commercial opportunity with the artistic expression I was seeking. When fine art and fashion meet, they create enduring and stunning images. That’s the vision.
I believe your fashion series ‘Pollock’ is a great expression of this vision! Can you tell me a little bit about it?
The name of the series is ‘Pollock’ since it was inspired by the American abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock. I was brought in by Lydia Chan who thought up the concept. She has an incredibly creative mind and is perfectionistic in the execution of her ideas. She did all of the styling and created much of the clothes and all of the headpieces – by hand! It was shot on a very stormy day in the driveway of a suburban home. We kept having to interrupt the shoot to bring all the equipment inside to avoid the intermittent showers. In terms of the artistic outcome, the postproduction work is really experimenting with the shots. I wanted to see how we could play around with blending modes on the shots I took of the plain driveway and background. My favourite part is the way in which unexpected details came across. For example, the way in which the greys contrasted with some of the fabric creates a quirky effect, which I really like. All shots can create unexpected originality and I like to capture as much of that as possible and that’s what I hope comes through in ‘Pollock’.
Sure! And finally, what would you say has the largest impact on your work?
Current events have a big impact on my work. To me, modern women are pushing back on a patriarchy that uses sexuality to sell. I think women are, and always have been, beautiful subjects for art and “sexy” should not be the main selling point. Women can be intelligent, eccentric, cute, badass or whatever they like and I try to incorporate that into my shots. I try to make it more about the specific subject and her unique style, and less about what is generally considered to be the unobtainable “perfect woman”. In the future I want to be able to incorporate even more abstract concepts and ideas. To me, photography is an important mode of expression and I will continue to highlight social issues in my works, creating awareness about the issues that are important to me to get across. That’s what matters most to me and what makes me love what I do.
Model: Saki Wani
Stylist: Lydia Chan
Photographer: Julie Riemersma
Makeup and hair: Christina Nguyen
Stylist Assistant: Jacqueline Chow
By Kelly Richman
Renowned for its colourful designs and eccentric patterns, luxury knitwear label Leutton Postle boasts distinctive collections in a characteristic aesthetic. Founded in 2011 as a “labour of love” between long-time friends and academic peers Sam Leutton and Jenny Postle, the brand has since garnered a celebrated position in the realm of contemporary fashion design.
Sam and Jenny met in 2005 while working toward their BA at Central Saint Martins. Similar tastes and like interests in knitwear brought them together, resulting in a collaborative union between the two young designers. “We always liked a lot of the same things and that just grew as we progressed through college,” Jenny explained during an interview with ROOMS. “That being said, we do also have very clear differences in taste.” However, even with apparent individual preferences, the two were undeniably cut from the same cloth. Thus, following the success of Jenny’s MA/ AW11 line – a collection of avant-garde garments adorned with thoughtfully mismatched patchwork – and upon Sam’s return from Shanghai, where she spent time exploring knitwear innovation, the pair set to begin their first joint undertaking: their SS12 Collection.
Featuring intricate, polychromatic patterns, a playful plethora of textures, and asymmetrical silhouettes, the SS12 Collection made its debut at London Fashion Week in September of 2011. While, once on the runway, the collection appeared effortlessly seamless and polished, preparation for the show was anything but. While Sam notes that, “in a very disorganised manner we manically knitted [the] collection” and Jenny recollects the process as “total mayhem,” their debut proved to be a huge success, with big names like Vogue and Grazia taking notice.
Although the label’s exciting debut put Leutton Postle on the map, the up-and-coming duo remained humble and determined. “Showing in London was the biggest extravagance really, and we also did Paris Fashion Week and worked with PR, but we didn’t do anything dramatically different or off the wall to get attention – just knitted!”
And knit they did.
In the three years since its premiere, Leutton Postle has presented five additional collections, each incorporating a unique twist on the label’s characteristic approach: a focus on pattern, texture, and colour. In fact, to Sam, the presence of vivid, saturated colour is just as important to the design process as it is to the finished garments. “While I just love colour, I think I work with colour more that I actually wear it. If you’re looking at colours all day, it’s certain to have a positive effect on you.” Undoubtedly, this colour-centric outlook explains the inexhaustible prevalence of bright hues and vivid tones characteristic of the Leutton Postle label.
In addition to this emphasis on aesthetics, there remains an inherent commitment to quality and extensive attention to detail in their designs. While the label has undoubtedly seen massive success on the glitzy catwalk, Jenny and Sam also pride their garments on their everyday, ready-to-wear possibilities. “We love to cater to all sorts of men and women with different styles. Knitwear is so versatile so people can tweak it to match their own styles.” That is why, in addition to its seasonal collections, Leutton Postle has recently opted to collaborate with accessible brands outside of the fashion realm – the most recent being Kopparberg, a celebrated cider company.
Given Leutton Postle’s quirky aesthetic and Kopparberg’s Scandanavian roots, the two brands teamed up to create a festive, cosy knit jumper. “Kopparberg wanted to collaborate with a knitwear label for their cosy Spiced Apple Cider. It seemed like the perfect fit. The jumper is typically Leutton Postle in that it is patterned and very colourful but with a little twist, as we took inspiration from Kopparberg’s heritage, the town itself, and traditional Swedish knitwear patterns.” Like all of Leutton Postle’s designs, this knit conveys an innovative, re-imagined approach to fashion. Jenny notes that, “it was really fun to work on the deconstruction of the Swedish knit, as it's such a recognisable textile pattern in its original form.”
So, what’s next for the designing duo? In addition to collaborations and, of course, new collections, both Sam and Jenny have been experimenting with fashion film – a feat that Jenny calls “a huge step for us that has really shaped our last 2 years.” Still, not all of Leutton Postle’s planned projects are as fashion-forward or even as obvious. When asked what is next on the agenda, it became clear that the pair is eager and excited to try on different hats. “I’d like to make my own alcohol,” Sam proclaimed. “I have a really good idea, but it’s a secret for now.”
Clearly, Leutton Postle has a thing or two up their sleeves.
By Nate Jixin Zhang
“When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” Nietzsche famously said. In this case, the abyss also looks into your wallet for at least £5800 if you are as stunned as the rest of the world by this example of elite furniture designs,The Abyss Table. Created by Chris Duffy, owner of the leading luxury furniture design house, Duffy has been previously featured for our readers to dream in the impossible. ROOMS has since been privileged to interview the genius mind behind these fantastical and imaginative creatures, Chris Duffy who turns out to be as fantastical as his creations. Here you get to go into the abyss with a tour guide where Duffy talks humour, designs and people.
It has been over a decade since your physics-defying designs emerged into the luxury goods market. They are nothing short of stream-lined, sleek and coherent spectacles that inspires curiosity if not gasps. How has your market evolved and where is the brand’s current position now?
We have evolved into a high-end design company, as the luxury product market was conducive to us being able to see our concepts through to their logical conclusions, which sometimes requires them to be quite grand affairs that are expensive to develop and produce. Also, when it comes to it we could not compete on price with the large furniture companies and big brands, unless we sacrificed the values our company stood for. However, when it comes to competing on quality, originality and sustainability we cannot only hold our own in the global market but also come out on top.
The illusive aspects of the designs are playful and quite tongue-in-cheek, is that something that’s born out of your personality or the team’s dynamics? In our ROOMS 15 Issue there is a lovely double-truck photo of the talents behind the designs including yourself. I was surprised to see how young everyone looked. Could you tell me how the team was put together and how it’s like to be working in that environment?
It is born from my personality and the need to be as original as possible. There is more room for originality at the playful end of the scale than at the sensible end, which is overcrowded.
Playful, and maybe slightly silly briefs give a little more room and breathing space in which to approach designs and furniture in a new and more interesting way, and sometimes even provide quite novel and practical solutions to old problems.
My team has slowly evolved over the years and is still constantly evolving. I am lucky enough to have great many talented people apply to me for internships. From these I pick the very best. My team have all applied to me for internships to begin with and the ones who are exceptional get the choice to stay on as full time employees. The environment of the studio is a mix of a quiet science laboratory mixed with the occasional havoc, stress and shouting of a Gordon Ramsey kitchen.
The humour seems to come through in the mismatch of functionalities, such as the balloons or the swings. Taking objects and contouring them in the way that they aren’t commonly intended for could be argued as subversive and I particularly like how your designing process has been called performances of wizardry. Would you mind giving me a bit of insight into your life and personality or some experiences that might have shaped the way you approach a new idea?
Being a little nuts helps, as well as being a bit of an anarchist who hits back when they are told that they can't do something, or that what they are thinking of designing is impossible.
With the pieces you are talking about, I approached each of them in very different ways. For example, the Shadow Chaircame about because I had misinterpreted something I had seen in my mind's eye, and held that misinterpretation and its effect, and then used this on the piece of furniture I felt would have the greatest impact.
With the Balloon Table, I simply wanted to make a piece of glass appear to float; a balloon is the perfect visual for something that is buoyant in the air; the hard part is getting the structure perfect while maintaining the visual effect. If the structure is weak, the table fails. If the effect doesn't work, then the whole exercise becomes pointless. The Balloon Table only works when both are perfectly balanced and executed.
The swing table was just a simple exercise in designing something that gave no thought to practicality. The only thing it had to succeed at was fun, originality, structure and creating a wow factor. But after the years of development it is, ironically, one of our most practical pieces and extremely comfortable.
My editor has picked up on the Nietzsche and Voltaire reference in her introduction of the feature on Duffy. I had been tremendously excited to see those names especially Nietzsche mentioned. A lot of intertextual-cultural studies seem to play a big part in the design world but only fragments of it get to be brought over to the foreground. How do you stay true to your designs and philosophy and how important do you think that is?
It is very easy to veer off course and lose your way in design. To stay true to what I find interesting or what I find exciting, I have to regularly, and very deliberately, stand back, take stock of everything, and think all the way back to the very beginning when I first started making things in my childhood. Then I look at what I'm presently doing and re-position the company direction to what I believe is the true direction. Without that excitement and obsession, this job would be impossible. It can be an immensely taxing, stressful and time consuming occupation, as well as being all consuming mentally and physically. Without that constant passion, and the occasional small victory and piece of success, you could not do this job for very long.
The Nietzsche quote was just something that was buzzing around in my head while I was designing the Abyss Table. It's not that I use him for inspiration, although I do find some of his work very helpful in validating and confirming the reasons why it is I do what I do.
The Voltaire quote just sounded apt, although in truth it isn't, he is speaking about quite a different subject than the one I'm using it for, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I'd like to thank my team and all my amazing customers that have purchased pieces from me over the many years we have been in business. I started this business with £50 and never took a single loan from anywhere. Without my customers and my dedicated and long suffering team, there would be no Duffy London, and these objects that we are creating today would never have existed.
By Rebecca Oram
Now living in Brooklyn, Mark Dorf fascinates with his images of juxtaposition. Dorf captures stunning landscapes around the world through a lens of science and technology, “reorganizing” nature and its beauty. His collection //_PATH is currently being displayed in Barcelona’s Mobile World Centre for its New Realities Exhibition ending on the 17th February
Hi Mark, first of all where are you from originally and where are you living at the moment?
Hi! I was born in Laconia, NH, grew up in Louisville, KY, and now live in Brooklyn, NY.
When did you first become fascinated with science and nature?
Since I was a kid, I have always been someone who loves to spend time outdoors, so the interest and love for the landscape has a long history with me. It’s where I find myself to be the most relaxed and focused really, which is of course funny because I now live in Brooklyn. As for science, that too has been a long time interest for me. If I hadn’t gone to school for art I certainly would have studied physics or something of that nature. Additionally, my family has a history in science as well – both my aunt and uncle are marine biologists and my father works in medicine, so science has always been near me. Most of all I am fascinated in the ways in which we understand our surroundings albeit through math, science, or art.
Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? What have been your favourite landscapes to travel to and capture?
I try to spend as much time outdoors as I possibly can, but as I said before I am now living in Brooklyn so that results in a lot of travel. One of my favorite more casual places to explore and capture are the Catskill Mountains – they’re pretty easy to get to from New York City and are absolutely stunning in the summertime – pick a stream and go swimming! But I have to say that my favorite landscape that I’ve travelled to recently is that of the Pariacaca Glacial range in the Peruvian Andes – I just got back and I’m certainly still living in the glow. I had never spent time at such high altitudes (our camp was at nearly 15,000 ft above sea level) – the landscape, wildlife, and culture is so drastically different from that at sea level.
Your work juxtaposes nature’s beauty with science and technology. What intrigues you about the combination of these?
One of the most basic intrigues about this mixture for me is the contrast in age. If you want to take it back hundreds of thousands of years ago, the landscape is the sort of birthplace of all culture and is quite literally the visual language that humans have been looking out to for the longest amount of time. Taking technology into that context provides an interesting relationship of looking at the most ancient and most contemporary of languages simultaneously.
Your ‘Emergence’ collection seems to make use of digital tools and technology to enhance or enrich the natural landscape in some way. Where does the inspiration for your ideas come from?
In ‘Emergence’, I wouldn’t venture to say that was looking to enhance the landscape as much as I was compartmentalizing and reorganizing the landscape. All of that work was made while I was an artist in residence at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, CO. While I was there, I was working directly with ecologists and biologists in the field helping them with their field research while additionally making my own works. What resulted was ‘Emergence’, which was a reflection and personal exploration of the scientific process as a whole. You will see when looking through the images that there is a common theme of breaking down and re-assembly. I was totally fascinated in the ways in which science collects data, analyzes it, transforms it, and then reassembles it into something that when compared to another set of data, can reveal information that is new or that you had not seen prior: the idea that the whole is, or could be, in fact greater than the sum of its parts.
Do you think your work reflects a growing trend in the combining of art and technology? Is this the future?
I think that technology’s presence in art will do nothing but grow as it becomes more and more present in our every day life. As technology becomes more accessible, artists will of course find some means of using it and taking advantage of its possibilities.
//_PATH is currently being displayed in the New Realities exhibition in Barcelona. What ‘new reality’ do you hope to create in your works?
In my recent works I wish to address the larger older world, the landscape, in the context of the contemporary mindset that is situated in science and technology. Think of it as the difference between looking at a Renaissance painting today versus a Renaissance painting when it was made: today we look at composition and light in context of a world that can stop time through photography and replay it through video. When that painting was made, this perception was not even fathomable thus their perception of the work was inherently different. I want to create a reality that examines how science and technology have changed the way in which we see and experience the world around us.
In January Mark will be part a two person exhibition in Brooklyn’s Outlet Gallery with Julian Lorber. Dorf’s “Emergence” collection will be displayed alongside Lorber’s “Externalities”.
PATH is currently being displsyed in Barcelona's Mobile World Centre for the New Realities Exhibition curated by Alpha-ville ending on the 17th February.
Shaping New Talent
ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in the Netherlands trains students for professions in which art, knowledge and creativity play a central role. For more than 3000 students, ArtEZ offers a related selection of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes in visual art, architecture, fashion, design, music, theatre, creative writing, dance and art education. At the same time, ArtEZ is a specialised knowledge institute where lecturers combine theory and practice.
Meet our talents
The online ArtEZ finals magazine provides an impression of the graduation work of the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts’ Class of 2014: dancers, choreographers, visual artists, designers, musicians, musical therapists, art teachers, actors, and architects.
We would love to see you around for the ArtEZ finals 2015 in June and July to visit the Fashion show, the Art & Design exhibitions in Arnhem, Enschede and Zwolle and all the concerts and dance and theatre performances.
70s/80s band Wire have curated a new and exciting multi-venue festival, this year hosted in Brighton.
The band have gathered together a wealth of talent for the weekend long event with a fusion of already established bands and new emerging artists just at the beginning of their careers.
Having already seen the festival in London and Seattle in 2013, Brighton is the chosen location for Drill festival 2014. The event runs similarly to that of The Great Escape, with a collection of 14 different venues for artists to perform in and with more than 100 bands appearing alongside exhibitions, talks, films and artists.
The festival sees performances from not only the band itself but These New Puritans, Swans and Savages as well as singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett, well known for her witty lyrical mastery.
Other bands to note are this year’s Mercury prize winners Young Fathers and nominated East India Youth, plus appearances from The Wytches, Telegram, Toy and Blood Red Shoes.
Bringing a spectrum of alternative talent and a whole host of one-off collaborations with Wire, this festival will certainly establish itself as one to watch out for in the future, wherever it may be…
Posted by Rebecca Oram
London quartet Citizens! have revealed an enticingly addictive new video for ‘Lighten Up’, their first track to be heard from their forthcoming second album due in Spring 2015.
Citizens! are to follow up their debut 2012 LP Here We Are after touring and joining bands from Two Door Cinema Club to Franz Ferdinand. Having recorded their new material in Paris, the band are part of Parisian record label Kitsuné.
Made by Focus Creeps, the directors behind the Arctic Monkeys’ R U Mine? video, Citizens! invite fans to take part in an interactive experience while watching. The video challenges you to tap along on your keyboard or smart phone to the rhythm of the song, creating differing interpretations of the track depending on whether you continue the beats. The more beats that viewers collectively achieve will amount to exclusive content being unlocked.
The unlockable content includes a Night drive playlist, an interview with the band and an alternative video for ‘Lighten Up.’
This original video sees the band in a world of contrasts from wild Parisian parties and night-life to beautiful countryside and lounging about in hotel rooms. The video perhaps gives us a glimpse through the keyhole of what life has been like for the band while touring and travelling the world.
Their single ‘Lighten Up’ is now available to download and is an edgy dance floor filler with an undoubtedly infectious beat. If this is anything to go by, their new album is sure to be worth the wait.
If you want to hear more from Citizens! watch out for our next issue!
It’s that time of year! Art Basel has returned to Miami Beach for its annual winter event. Featuring over 250 leading galleries and maintaining its prominence as a major outlet for contemporary artists, Art Basel Miami Beach is sure to make a splash, presenting countless “paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, films, and editioned works of the highest quality.”
Projected to attract 75,000 international attendees, this year’s show boasts several highly anticipated artists, spanning myriad modern art masters – like Marina Abramović, Julian Schnabel, Fred Wilson, Banksy, Christopher Wool, Kara Walker, and Cindy Sherman – on top of countless new and exciting up-and-comers. A few that we’re especially excited about? Klara Kristalova (Lehmann Maupin), Vik Muniz (Sikkema Jenkins & Co.) and Mark Neville (Alan Cristea Gallery) – three artists that ROOMS has featured in the past!
In addition to the grand affair itself, several satellite fairs will be popping up around the beach, including SCOPE Art Fair, an exciting event for which we have already named five not-to-be-missed emerging artists! Additional prominent and celebrated fairs include PULSE Miami, SELECT, and NADA.
Excited about the festivities but can’t make it to Miami? No problem! Follow ROOMS on Instagram for daily snaps of main attractions, public installations, and encounters with artists live from the beach!
Posted by Kristina Jensen
When Element invited fine arts photographer Brian Gaberman to join them on a journey from New York to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, the result became a collision of two worlds in a mutual appreciation of simple life, skateboarding and the permanency of nature.
Johnny Schillereff founded his inclusive skateboard brand, Element, with one vision: bringing progress to skateboarding in the most honest and ethical way possible. The result is an environmentally aware brand, which focuses on bettering the sport and the associated community.
To Brian Gaberman, the youngest photographer ever featured in B&W Magazine, it is the elements on the sideline, which make the difference; photography is about capturing subtleties. Gaberman’s work is dominated by the ethereal picture quality, which is characteristic of wet plate collodion negatives. Capable of showing microscopically fine detail, the negatives create a unique photographic liquidity, which allows him to harness the mystery in every frame. To Gaberman the flaws and imperfections, which produce the dreamlike images, portray the world with astounding precision.
The Road to Wolfeboro is a coming of age story of an artist, who spent his youth in the concrete jungle of New York. Now an established photographer, Gaberman returns to rediscover the city. The freedom of his youth is offered anew by absolute creative autonomy, yet as Gaberman acknowledges, unlimited freedom is daunting. Uncertainty, however, makes way for spontaneity and re-evaluation. Thus, upon reaching Wolfeboro, the end goal has changed: for Gaberman the journey has become the destination, “moving through the world responding to instincts”.
The ghostly images appear antiquated, yet they tell an important story. This is a story about development, nature and the place of mystery and individuality. It captures the importance of uniqueness in even the most (seemingly) insignificant aspects of life.
The Road to Wolfeboro exhibitions:
November 21st, Barcelona
November 28th, Lisbon
December 4th, London
Posted by Kelly Richman
Erected in 1975, Ponte City—a residential high-rise in Johannesburg—has loomed above the city’s skyline for decades. While initially intended as opulent accommodations for South Africa’s elite, it has since turned into a corrupt haven for prostitution, illicit drugs, and crime. In order to fully illustrate the rise and fall of this cursed landmark, South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky and British artist Patrick Waterhouse have teamed up to document the phenomenon in their series, Ponte City, on view at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh from December through April.
With shared interests in both art and social storytelling, Subotzky and Waterhouse began this project in 2007. At this time, promising plans to completely refurbish the building were abruptly halted while already underway. Years later, left in disarray and disrepair, Ponte City’s gutted rooms remain half-occupied, providing shelter to residual tenants and new squatters alike.
In order to accurately portray the current state of the high-rise, Subotzky and Waterhouse opted to focus on the desolate dwelling’s inhabitants in a five-year study. Through interviews and photographs, the pair has crafted a poignantly accurate portrait of Ponte City, paying particular attention to the contrast between its initial bright future and its somber current state.
Ponte City will be exhibited at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery from 6 December through 26 April 2015. Don’t miss this captivating series!
Posted by Ralph Barker
After studying fine art at Central St Martins and De Montfort University, Melanie Paice went on to work for the Tate Gallery (Modern and Britain), where she managed a course programme before becoming freelance to work on projects with organisations such as Frieze Art Fair. She currently lives and works in Woking, Surrey, giving classes at the Lightbox Gallery among other venues in the surrounding area, whilst still producing her own work for commission.
I feel that my own art practice has improved a great deal since teaching. The fact that through teaching, you’re learning other peoples work constantly and finding a way of helping them to correct mistakes in their work means that my own observational skills have improved greatly. It’s just a constant thing that you do when teaching. There are some tutors particularly in adult education that will come to the front of the class, demonstrate something and then ask the class to copy what they do. I don’t work like that. I prefer people to think a bit about what they want to make so that they have further interest in what they are doing rather than just following what the teacher says. I encourage them to come up with their own ideas. My own practice has improved because of all that.
With lecturing, I find that researching about other people’s work and teaching about artists that interest me quite often mean that I go into a lot of detail about the art history of it all so the approach in my lectures is more about looking into the art historical details, but it certainly helps my own work progress.
Abstract is really what I consider to be ‘my thing’. It’s what I like doing but abstract doesn’t really sell that well in Surrey, so I tend to do more figurative work. Although I prefer abstract work, I do certainly have a love of plants and flowers as my parents were landscape gardeners, so I still enjoy working that way.
I love the work of Andy Goldsworthy. He is a sculptor who works with natural materials and uses only natural processes to bind the elements together. When I lecture on him I put his work under ‘land art’ because he is more than just a sculptor. His work is very transient and he takes a lot of photos of his work so that the photograph becomes the piece of art in the end. When I was around nine years old, the artist that really made me want to get into the art world was Chagall and in particular his painting, ‘The Cattle Dealer’, where the foal is in the womb of the horse. It fascinated me that an artist could show you what you knew was there, but that you couldn’t actually see. In some ways, I feel like this is similar to what I do when I teach.
I love teaching art because I love working with people and I wanted to share my love of art. To be able to make people feel what I feel when I paint is a wonderful experience. My approach is that it should be a sociable environment when I teach because then the students are more relaxed and open to learn. I prefer working with a very small class where there is more interaction and discussion about the work. It’s a much more pleasurable experience than lecturing at people. Teaching brings a lot more back into my own work.
I love working in the negative like when I do my slate drawings. I love bringing the light onto a black surface. There is an element of it being less of a blank canvas as you have something to work against. I love working that way but when I try and teach it’s surprising how hard beginners find it until they start really looking at light that way. The exhibition I did last year included a load of sculptural bees, which I created out of smashed light bulbs and so light is very important to me in that way, bringing old things into the light. The exhibition was actually called ‘Trash to Treasure’ as I was working on turning old materials into new pieces of art.
For me, creativity is the closest thing to spirituality. When something is really working in a painting or a sculpture, there is an amazing feeling that is almost spiritual. If I haven’t made artwork in a while, there is a frustration where I feel I need to make something. If people revaluated what ‘success’ was in our world and it wasn’t just about money and becoming known but more if you were happy and how you would be viewed by other people, I think people would be a lot happier.
Posted by Kristina Jensen
Photos by Abigail Yue Wang
Marking the centenary of the First World War, Tate Modern opened its doors to Conflict, Time, Photography. The major group photography exhibition considers passage of time and different perspectives brought by different photographers to the sites they have depicted. The exhibition is a tribute to the words of Louis-Ferdinand Céline: “let us make it our business to record the worst of human viciousness without changing one word”.
Walking through Tate Modern, Britain's national gallery of international modern art, I am always struck by a feeling of insignificance. When I walked through the doors of the Conflict, Time, Photography exhibition, insignificance soon turned into unassuming gratitude. Gratitude not only that I have been born in a part of the world where we have, in our time, been sheltered from the atrocities of war but also gratitude to the photographers, who risked their lives in order to tell this story. Like Adam Broomberg’s The Day Nobody Died (2008) considers how the method of wartime correspondence has changed, the exhibition raises questions about how the perspective and narrative of photography has changed over the past century. Walking through the exhibition it becomes clear how the focal point of much of modern photography is to stun. To shock.
Offering an alternative to the all too familiar face of war reportage and photojournalism, something we are increasingly becoming deaf to, the astounding amount of photographs all reflecting the impact of war and conflict were hard to ignore. The exhibition is experienced backwards, covering images captured a few moments after an event has occurred to 100 years after. Rather than follow a fixed timeline, the works are ordered according to how long after a given event they were taken. This creates a unique opportunity for the viewer to consider and compare the impact of war and conflict without being constrained by time and space. The effect of the exhibition depends entirely on the perspectives of those capturing the moments and the way in which they have been portrayed. The idea is to be able to look back in time, “considering the past without becoming frozen in the process”.
Conflict, Time, Photography demonstrates the effect on both the people and the places, which subsist in the shadow of a trauma. Unstuck and hunting the exhibition, shifting from one moment in history to another, deals with both the aftermath of immediate human trauma as portrayed by Don McCullin’s Shell-shocked US Marine (1968), as well as the undeniable terrestrial effect. Each piece is unique, capturing the perspective of each individual artist. Luc Delahaye’s Ambush, Ramadi (2006), portrays a city engulfed in a haze of smoke, giving an eerie sense of calm and making the viewer almost forget the human impact. Sophie Ristelhueber’s Fait (1992) captured in large, stunning pieces shows the wounds inflicted on Kuwait desert landscape. The overpowering effect war has on high and low is evident in Simon Norfolk’s Afghanistan: Chronotopia (2001-2002), which sets out to record ruins after decades of fighting against the backdrop of striking desert land. These photographs all tell the same story. They bear witness to destruction and devastation, simultaneously probing an exploration of the human cost of conflict.
Conflict, Time, photography is an immersive, thought-provoking and highly emotional group exhibition documenting some of the darkest and most haunting of human atrocities but also one, which shows extraordinary strength in ordinary people. Stephen Shore’s chronicle of the lives of holocaust survivors in Ukraine (2012-2013) is both a touching tribute to survivors of war, near and far, and a reminder that even from the darkest of places good things can emerge.
The exhibition, which was curated by Simon Baker with Shoair Mavlian and David Mellor, is open to the public from 26 November 2014 – 15 March 2015.
Posted by Kelly Richman
While you may have thought the cartoon-covered pillowcases and dinosaur sheets of your youth were merely a thing of the past, fashion label Duvet Days has brought them back in a big way.
When reminiscing about your childhood bedroom, embarrassing posters and strewn-about toys inevitably come to mind. But what about your old bed sheets?
Whether covered in busy, colorful patterns or decorated with contemporaneously popular cartoon characters, your old bedspread undoubtedly made a bold statement about your prepubescent interests. And, to London-based fashion label Duvet Days, they still can.
Specialising in upcycled, unisex clothing, Duvet Days repurposes old blankets and pillowcases into casual garments. Ranging from trousers to cropped tops, each retro-inspired creation features simple lines and basic silhouettes to complement the boisterous patterns and nostalgic decorations. To founder Emma Graham-While, this balance is key, as she emphasises that “it’s important to let the print talk”. In addition to its appealing aesthetics, each piece is 100% upcycled and, thus, entirely eco-friendly.
Whether worn as daily getups or lazy loungewear, Duvet Days’ wistful blast-from-the-past collection is sure to jog your memory.
Featuring eclectic collages, exquisite watercolors, detailed drawings, and architectural sculptures, Nordström’s ouervre is diverse yet aesthetically unified.
Through January, the gallery will proudly present For the insects and the hounds, an exhibition featuring new sculptures and works on paper from Nordström. Inspired by the artist’s experiences in Gotland, Sweden’s largest island, For the insects and the hounds conveys an innate focus on nature and evokes the rusticity of the island’s rural landscape.
To coincide with the exhibition, David Zwirner London will also host a book launch celebrating the reprinting of Who is sleeping on my pillow, a book by the artist and his wife, Mamma Anderson. Both artists will be in attendance to sign copies of their charming book, which features 200 full-color plates depicted “alongside favorite family snapshots and source materials”. Co-hosted by David Zwirner Books – the gallery’s stand-alone publishing house – and the London Review of Books, this exciting event will take place in the gallery space on Friday, 28 November, at 6:30 PM.
Be sure to check out For the insects and the hounds, on view from 28 November though 24 January 2015 at David Zwirner London!
Shades of White: The Runway Dominator for SS15
From the lightest white to the darkest white, this shade has not been missed on the runway for the Spring/Summer 2015 collections. With it’s simplicity and clean effect, white has been observed in almost all the fashion shows this season.
French fashion houses such as Lanvin, Hermes, and Celine have all featured this pure and soothing shade. Clean cut, yet floaty materials were seen to be paired together with this elegant colour. Minimalism was the ‘Big Boom’ for this SS15 Ready-To-Wear collections.
For instance Balenciaga used geometrical mesh cut materials to emphasise texture and transparency, while showcasing different shades of white and neutral colours.
Loewe’s runway was dominated by oversized, loose and light fabrics used on high waisted trousers and tops. Light white cotton and linen combined together with leather gave this collection a modern yet realistic feel.
The white craze also took over Hermes. The ‘Wrapping’ style has been effectively combined with this colour. As always uber-feminine chiffon gowns from Valentino have been featured with lace and floral details, brining the real spring/summer mood into play.
Alber Elbaz, the much adored designer of the Lanvin fashion house started the show with super sleek Grecian dresses in white, black and navy. Details such as the ‘thigh slit’ and the animal print belt, took these dresses to the next level of chic.
The message for us from the Fashion Houses this coming season would have to be ‘Go All White’. Fashion trends will always change, but no doubt this colour will always remain dominant in the fashion industry.
By Tatyana Wolfman
David Blair, Patrick Bokanowski, Judith Goddard, Johan Grimonprez, Louis Henderson, John Latham, Mark Leckey, Laida Lertxundi, Angela Melitopoulos, Haroon Mirza, James Richards, Ben Rivers, Anri Sala, Semiconductor, Apichatpong Weerasethakul Curated by Jacqui Davies and Joseph Constable
Time, a Hesitant Smile is a season of artists’ films, which are being screened at the Hackney Picturehouse. The screenings fall across four evenings through November and December. The season looks at film and broadcasting’s ability to manipulate time. Curated by Jacqui Davies and Joseph Constable, the series gets its title from Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disuqiet (a book which collages moments from the various selves of the author). The experimental films selected demonstrate how various opinions and histories are processed and repacked to us as present time of fact and fiction.
The program considers the different formats and mechanisms people use to control time. It opens up audiences to how devices like microphones, cell phones, and film cameras, are tools that warp our experience and understanding of time.
From dark themes of capital punishment and solitude to warped Halloween carousel trips and female empowerment – it’s all here. Five recently released music videos you’re going to want to watch.
Towards Biology is a piece created in collaboration with Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura for the exhibition "Time, Space, Existence" held at Palazzo Bembo within the framework of the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale.
In Towards Biology we consider abstractly, from the exhibition's perspective, the values of La Fábrica, creative epicenter and space of the Taller de Arquitectura from the mid-1970s to the present day. A space that moreover lays the foundations and the methodology for the development of the workshop's creative approach, which is based on innovation and focuses on ecology as well as on social and technological aspects.
By Kristina Jensen
Block 336 presents Morphogenèse, a sound installation and performance event collaboration between Erik Nyström and Lee Fraser, marking the release of Nyström’s album of the same name.
Morphogenèse, meaning ‘the beginning of shape’, offers the listener an immersive experience created by multi channel synthesis. Block’s underground gallery space will be transformed for the event adding atmospheric elements to an interactive sonic world of Nyström and Fraser’s making. Nyström and Fraser both hold PhDs in electroacoustic composition and have both studied under composer Denis Smalley.
Nystrom met international recognition in the Metamorphoses International Composition Competition in 2010. His work ranges from regular participation in live electronic music projects for the London Contemporary Orchestra’s innovative performances to featuring Boiler Room events. His album, ‘Morphogenèse’, is released under Canadian electroacoustic label Empreintes DIGITALes.
Fraser’s work includes critically acclaimed album, Dark Camber, on the Entr’acte imprint earlier this year and he has received the prestigious Luigi Russolo Grand Prize for his work ‘The Visions of Ezekiel’.
Together the London-based duo engages in a new improvisational computer music project, creating an exceptional collision between different worlds of sound. The backdrop of the performance is created by introspective installation design by Tom Groves. Morphogenèse inhabits an ever-evolving visuospatial topography reflecting cycles of creation, crisis, and decay.
Morphogenèse will be exhibited at Block 336 on Friday 28 November and Saturday 29 November. For further information about the exhibition see http://block336.com/.
Paris 14>16 nove 2014 | Carrousel Du Louvre
By Tatyana Wolfman
Edson Chagas is altering our perceptions of consumable objects. The photographer recodifies reality by reframing items that have grown weary with age in new backgrounds, exploring the issues of consumerism, capitalism, and tradition. In pop art fashion, Chagas forces audiences to reevaluate the found object.
Chagas was born in Luanda, Angola in 1977. Chagas completed a degree in photojournalism at the London College of Communication in the UK and studied documentary photography at the University of Wales in Newport. He now lives and works in Luanda. In Chagas’ adolescence, everything was reused. Today, however, consumption habits do not adhere to the same values. It is these changes Chagas documents.
For the artist’s series Found Not Taken, he gathered discarded objects from the streets of Luanda, London, and Wales. He reframed these objects and took photos of them. The overlooked objects were thus reappropriated into emblems of overconsumption and waste of which our society is rampant. By manufacturing the image, Chagas makes us question social construction and reality. A selection from the series represented Angola at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), winning the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.
In Chagas’ series Tipo Passe he also toyed with the idea of social construction; he composed images of models wearing traditional African masks while wearing contemporary clothing bought in street markets. He makes us consider the role of traditional values in today’s society as well as identity.
Hossegor, FR- A small dog with a big bark, the Nixon x Chocolate Mini Blaster has arrived. Teaming up to mark #20yearsofchocolate, this special edition Mini Blaster is new, limited and now available; once they are gone, they are gone for good.
Inspired by life on the road, outside of the four walls, and designed with the Chocolate team in mind, The Mini Blaster is compact, portable, and built tough to withstand the elements. Grab it and go to a house-party, or the skate park, with Bluetooth connectivity and water, shock, and sand resistance there are no limits to where you can take it. This little bigmouth features true wireless technology so you can crank up the volume wherever the party takes you.
Nixon and Chocolate have long shared a mutual respect for one another and over the years have toyed with the idea of creating a product collaboration together. Finally, with 2014 marking #20yearsofchocolate, the timing was right and the Mini Blaster was the product that both sides championed around.
Chocolate co-founder Rick Howard had this to say about the project: “I've known Chad (Nixon co-founder) for a long time and I really respect Nixon. We've always talked about the idea of collaborating on a project together, but nothing quite stuck. A lot of us at Girl and Chocolate currently use The Blaster, and the fact that the Mini Blaster is half the size, just as loud, and you can pair two together for surround sound got us pumped. It’s a perfect fit!”
Carroll / Fletcher is pleased to present SEEK, a solo exhibition by James Clar.
Increasingly, the proliferation of technology and the Internet has shifted the way we understand the world – allowing us to inhabit alternative spaces outside of reality – virtual or otherwise. In recent years, American artist James Clar has explored the impact of technology and social media, underscoring its psychotropic effects on perception. As Clar says, “Technology and social media transport us to alternate realities. They allow us to pause, rewind and overlap time.” Clar aims to reveal the multiple possibilities engendered by the play between strange and disparate environments of the real and unreal. This exhibition presents a series of new works marking Clar’s solo UK debut.
By Abigail Yue Wang
Here is that itching question finally addressed: how come there hasn’t been an encompassing fair yet dedicated to photography in the undoubtedly encompassing city that is London? For four days next May, London will see the launching of its first annual photography fair hosted at the riverside Somerset House.
With participating photography and contemporary art galleries worldwide and citywide, Photo London is not just another commercial array of contemporary photography scene, but a series of programmed exhibitions, talks, screenings and events that will sure indulge those with a pictorial appetite. Photo London will be in partnership with major museums (Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum and more) and auction houses in London and international bodies, as well as emerging galleries from cities such as Istanbul, Seoul and Tehran. During the fair, an exceptional photographer will be selected by The John Kobal Foundation Discovery award for the prize of a three-month residency in New York.
Needless to say that, Photo London 2015 will be a highly anticipated art fair first of its scale to celebrate Photography in the photogenic capital, with a capital P.
Photo London opens at Somerset House, 21-24 May 2015.
Thursday (4th), Friday (5th), Saturday (6th) & Sunday (7th) due to some venue age restrictions this event is for over 18s only
By Kelly Richman
Luxury knitwear label Leutton Postle has teamed up with esteemed spiced apple cider brand Kopparberg to make your winter a little bit less chilly with a new winter knit.
Merging Leutton Postle’s characteristic aesthetic – a vibrant colour palette and bold, quirky patterns – with Kopparberg’s Swedish origins, this new piece is sure to be the apple of your eye this winter.
Like Leutton Postle’s other signature creations, this limited edition woolen knit “draws on a range of influences to create wearable, craft-led collections that are unlimited by trends”. Featuring an abstract, Scandinavian-inspired pattern in ‘Falun red’ and a large, deconstructed ‘fair isle’ star motif, the offbeat knit reimagines traditional winter wear. Unisex in design, everyone is sure to love this cosy creation.
While luxury fashion and spiced cider may appear to be a peculiar pair, the two brands share a very similar approach to their products. Promoting “virtues of simplicity and uncomplicatedness” since emerging in 1882, Kopparberg stays true to its cultural roots and boasts time-honored quality. While, having only made its debut in 2011, Leutton Postle does not have quite the history, it undeniably shares the sentiment, representing “a labour of love and a shared creative vision that can be seen in the extraordinary attention to detail in each garment”.
Ultimately, given each brand’s commitment to quality, you can be sure that this new knit will make the perfect cold weather companion.
By Ralph Barker
Instituted in 2009 to mark 30 years of creative collaborations with artists, the Absolut Art Award aims to support emerging artists and art writers with a cash prize up for grabs.
With a total of forty seven artists and art writers up for nomination across both the ‘Art Work’ and ‘Art Writing’ categories, this year’s selection includes nominees from around the world who have all shown potential to be the next Absolut Art Award winner. Nominees come from multiple artistic disciples and professional backgrounds from across five continents and 24 countries, ranging in age from 30 to 69. In the ‘Art Writing’ category, ten art writers have been selected, continuing Absolut’s longstanding support of critical theory and nurturing of artistic discourse.
The 2015 jury will select five finalists from a shortlist of both categories to be revealed during Art Basel Miami Beach 2014, with the winning artist and writer being announced during the Vernissage of La Biennale di Venezia – 56th International Art Exhibition in May 2015. The award ceremony will then take place in September 2015 in Stockholm, Sweeden.
Providing a unique opportunity to realise their dream projects, the winning artist will receive a cash prize of €20,000 along with a budget of €100,000, to produce and exhibit a new artwork. The winning art writer will also receive a cash prize of €20,000, with a budget of €25,000 to be used toward the research and production of a new publication.
The international Jury for the 2015 Absolut Art Award will include three additional distinguished curators: Magali Arriola, Curator at Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; Doryun Chong, Chief Curator at M+, Hong Kong and Jessica Morgan, Daskalopoulos Curator, International Art at Tate Modern and Artistic Director of the 10th Gwangju Biennale, as well as Negar Azimi, writer and Senior Editor of Bidoun Magazine
SCOPE Miami Beach’s monumental pavilion will once again be situated on historic Ocean Drive to welcome near 40,000 visitors over the course of 6 days. Over 100 Exhibitors and 20 selected Breeder Program galleries will present groundbreaking work, alongside SCOPE’s special programming, encompassing music, design and fashion.
By Tatyana Wolfman
On November 11th, Swatch invites you to the exclusive London premiere of Days of My Youth. A new film that explores the passion of skier’s for their sport. It is sure to tantalize the nerves of even the most extreme adrenaline junkies. The movie features four of the Swatch Proteam athletes and an all-star free skier lineup.
Swatch embraces the artistic side of Swatch Proteam member Richard Permin’s radical sport and inspirational way of life, through a creative collaboration to design his first signature Swatch model – PERMIN. Available this fall, the Swatch Sports Special is set to launch in sync with the athlete’s starring role in Days of My Youth.
Get your tickets for the premiere on Tuesday 11 Nov here!
By Kelly Richman
Born in Germany and based in New York, fashion designer Amelie Bahlsen uses experimental patterns to produce unique and chic garments.
With exquisite yet understated materials and obscure, striking silhouettes,Bahlsen seeks to “translate abstract and conceptual ideas about space, perspective and three-dimensionality” in her work.
Bahlsen’s interest in fashion materialized after high school. Excited by her newfound passion, she enrolled in Berlin’s Mediadesign University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design. Following a subsequent internship with Ame Souer in Paris, Bahlsen migrated to New York to study at Parsons School of Design, where she received her Master’s Degree in Fashion Design and Society. For her thesis project, she designed and created her Liquid BOXES collection – an array of dresses featuring bold accents of color and overlaid in distinctive white sheaths.
By Kelly Richman
As the “largest and most global art fair in the world”, SCOPE Art Fair has emerged as a key outlet for emerging artists. While this year’s Miami Beach event boasts myriad promising exhibitors, we have selected five artists to keep an eye on: Saner, Tal Frank, Kim Hee-Wan, Vik Muniz, and Mira Loew.
Represented by Fifty24MX, a gallery in Mexico City, Saner “freely wander[s] between graffiti, graphic design, painting and drawing”. Merging iconography from Mexican tradition with a style adopted from contemporary pop culture, Saner is able to establish an aesthetic dialogue between the country’s past and present.
Like Saner, Tal Frank – a ‘sculptress and installation artist’ represented by Corridor Contemporary in Tel Aviv – seeks to balance and connect classical traditions with modern practice. Working in mixed media and often producing casts of every day objects, Frank seeks to make the ordinary extraordinary.
Though sculptural, the work of Baik Song Gallery’s Kim Hee-Wan greatly differs from that of Saner and Frank. With abstract forms and geometric lines, Hee-Wan’s sculptures evoke a minimalist approach. Using plains of solid colour divided by intersecting lines, Hee-Wan creates unique and undeniably modern works.
Represented by Forré & Co., a gallery in Aspen, Colorado, Vik Muniz is a Brazilian artist and photographer. Using unconventional materials in his work, Muniz creates his own versions of works by well-known artists – including Edward Ruscha, whom he emulates in two pieces, Standard at Night and Norms on Fire, that will be shown at SCOPE. Through this unique approach, Muniz is able to give new meaning to existing art, demonstrating his belief that “the interpretation of forms (abstract to one’s experience) becomes the result of an entirely personal process”.
Similar to Muniz, Decorazon Gallery’s Mira Loew uses photography as a means to encourage “the viewer to challenge the idea of images as representations of reality and identity”. Born in Austria and based in London, Loew focuses primarily on the female body, using herself and performers – particularly, dancers – as her models and muses.
Be sure to check out the work of these artists (plus many, many more!) at this year’s SCOPE Miami Beach, 2-7 December
By Rebecca Oram
Javier Medellin Puyou a.k.a Jilipollo is an illustrator based in Mexico. His style is somewhat reminiscent of 50s pop art; infusing bright and contrasting colours into his work and taking inspiration from contemporary society but Jilipollo’s illustrations take on a much more distinctive vintage hue…
Jilipollo has worked under many aliases in his life, including ‘Big Polla’ and ‘Pimp Pollo’ when he used to DJ. Now he goes by the name Jilipollo and although he is a trained architect, it is the path of illustration that has captured the artist.
His work draws from Japanese and Mexican pop culture and also 70s vintage stylings. It is this fusion of inspirations which gives his illustrations such an individual look and feel. Predominantly utilising watercolour and ink, his art mostly revolves around women as their central subject, looking at their different moods and expressions. His pieces range in theme from fashion to the excess use of social media in society and he has even designed illustrations based upon the newest film of The Great Gatsby.
Creating illustrations for clients in advertising (like Coca-Cola), editorial and fashion, Jilipollo has experimented with diverse mediums, now selling not only prints of his illustrations but t-shirts, duvets and iPhone cases displaying his characteristic work.
Drawing from contemporary subjects, Jilipollo’s creations are vibrant, intriguing and hopefully he will continue to develop these subjects into these visual masterpieces.
All images © Javier Medellin Puyou a.k.a. Jilipollo
By Tatyana Wolfman
Often, short films receive little attention and are disregarded as calling cards for directors or opening acts to feature films. Short films, however, are more than a bland appetizer to the main course; they can capture moments or feelings relatable to all in less than a minute. Latoya Gill and her organisation the Short Film Movement+ are helping audiences discover and rethink short films. This Thursday, Gill and her movement present Songs of Reflection: an event that will screen shorts that appropriately cover the theme of reflection. The soirée will also include a discussion and performances.
The Short Film Movement+ is a space where creative types can come together and explore ideas related to the human condition. The + in the name represents other forms of creative expression utilized in meetings such as poetry, music, and dance. The organisation also aims to promote quality independent films that have either been overlooked or have gathered dust on the shelf.
In keeping with the Short Film Movement +’s underground philosophy, it operates like a speakeasy. The gatherings are held in the basement of the barbershop, We Are Cuts in Soho. Entry price is four pounds (or three if one comes prepared to contribute to the discussion). Guests are also encouraged to bring snacks to share.
Thursday 30th October at We Are Cuts, 33A Dean Street, London, W1D 4PP
PRICE: £4 – £3 TIME: 8PM
Don’t forget to bring a snack!
By Kelly Richman
In the late 1990s, Nixon emerged in California, specialising in customised watches, accessories, and audio. After proving successful in America, Nixon opened locations all over the world. Boasting stores in over 70 countries and, seeking prominence in Europe, the company has since set up shop in two key locations: in Paris’ le Marais district, and, more recently, on Newburgh Street in London.
Near Carnaby Street’s trademark independent fashion houses and flagship stores, Newburgh Street provides the perfect setting for Nixon’s newest retail location. While, with the addition of a new storefront, the shop boasts an impressive external façade that blends seamlessly into the stylish shops and boutiques of Carnaby Street, it is what is inside the shop that stands out. With its workshop-inspired customization bar opening on November 1, it’s only a matter of time until customers are able to pick and choose bits and pieces to create their own unique watches. With its coveted products, innovative customisation bar, and its newest trendy location, Nixon’s new home in London will, as noted by Nixon co-founder Chad DiNenna, enable the brand “to be an active participant in contributing to the field of world-class design through our perspective, our brand and products”.
Be sure to make time to check out Nixon’s newest location at 6 Newburgh Street in London, open now!
By Rebecca Oram
Dutch DJ and producer Joris Voorn is set to release his third album Nobody Knows 7 years after last LP From A Deep Place.
Voorn, highly respected and well-known in the arena of electronic music returns with this 12 track fusion of guitar, piano and synth through his own record label, Green. The album features collaborations from American DJ and producer Matthew Dear, guitar talent Bram Stadhouders and vocalist Kid A.
Marking a change since his mix CD Balance 014, featuring the 100 biggest electro and dance tracks, this album creates a more ambient landscape. Mixing ethereal vocals and acoustic softness within his usual electronic environment, Voorn creates an enchanting production.
Highlights of the album include already released ‘Ringo’ and the gentler ‘Momo’, a personal track Voorn and his father collaborated on. His track ‘So Long feat Kid A’ is equally as entrancing, while ‘The Wild’ plays upon a darker tone.
Ahead of the release, Voorn has captured his previous tour in California through a series of personal photos.
The album will be released on the 17th November.
Tajinder Dhami Electric Dream: Will Synthetic Intelligences Dream of Electric Sheep, 2014.
By Ralph Barker
New Contemporaries is the leading UK organisation supporting emergent art practice from British art schools, whose aim is to promote and provide a platform for new and recent fine art graduates. In our current issue, we spoke with the director of Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Kirsty Ogg about the latest artists to join this year’s exhibition. After opening as an integral part of the Liverpool biennial in late September, the collection is now heading further South to London, where it will remain until late January.
With previous New Contemporaries including the Chapman Brothers, Damien Hirst and David Hockney, there is always electricity in the air at the show, with new artists showcasing their potential to join the ranks of the modern masters. This year, the final selection for the show promises to deliver a range of innovative practice, including moving image, printmaking and performance, with artists exploring themes ranging from current affairs to human behaviour and the body. Whether it be Alice Hartley’s bold large scale screen prints or Yi Dai’s poetic and subtle paintings, the exhibition will appeal to anyone looking to have their perspective challenged.
From 26th November to 25th January, the exhibition will be at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, where the public can come to see the work of the fifty five participants involved in the show. To find out more about the exhibition, and to read more about our discussions with a few of the artists on display, pick up a copy of the latest ROOMS and check out the website.
Bloomberg Aspirations: A Contemporary New Generation. Read our interview with Director Kirsty OGG and Artists MKLK , Alice HARTLEY, Frances WILLIAMS, Jesc BUNYARD by Suzanne Zhang in our current issue ROOMS 15 Breakable
By Ralph Barker
Canal Gallery presents: ‘I apologize for the crudity of this model’
MOLLIE ANNA KING and PATRICK WHITE
7-29 November 2014
Taken from a line in the ‘Back to the Future’ film trilogy, this collaborative show seeks to broadly address the nature of images and imaging technology through the interplay of analogue and digital means. The exhibition itself will exist as a multi-media work, with pieces online, in print and as an interactive installation physically present in the gallery space. Still and moving photographic imagery, as well as more interactive and traditional methods of producing a captured moment, are shown in the exhibition as a sort of mental fabric onto which personal and collective histories are woven, with the installation providing a way of sewing together the themes present in the separate artist’s works.
In the ‘Back to the Future’ film trilogy, the central character uses photographs of himself and his relatives as a way of keeping track of the so called butterfly effect of his future/past actions and how the existence of these people is threatened by his time travelling activities. King and White explore this conundrum in their work, seeking to illustrate the fragility and transient nature of our own existence; a motif that could be taken to be extremely poignant when looked at through the lens of current technology.
King and White both graduated from the Masters programme at the Slade School of Fine Art in 2013, and have both worked on several shows before this collaboration. The show is on from the 7th until the 29th of November and the gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 1 until 6pm. The nearest train station is Haggerston overground, although visitors may wish to walk from Old Street tube (as I did) which only takes around twenty minutes and passes some very nice bars!
By Kelly Richman
Taken from our current issue ROOMS 15 Breakable
Ash Thorp is, undeniably, a man of many talents. As an artist, illustrator, graphic designer, creative director, and, according to his Twitter bio, a “fan of all things COOOOOL,” his success and charismatic attitude are no surprise. With a wealth of experience and an extremely exciting resume—who doesn’t love Sherlock Holmes and The Walking Dead?—Ash has made a name for himself in the realm of various media, including feature films, commercial enterprises, and print. In this interview, we chat with Ash about his creative background. Namely, we unravel the ways in which his childhood experiences—which he classifies as “the muse of it all”—have influenced and inspired his successful, well-deserved career.
I’ve found that I am most interested in your artistic background, so rather than focusing on any specific projects or your technical processes, I’d like to talk to you more about your creative background.
So, first of all, I’ve noticed that you’re often described as an “artist, illustrator, and graphic designer.” I’m wondering if, to you, there is an inherent difference between art and design, and art and illustration.
For me, personally, I try not to put barriers up when it comes to being creative. I look at each to be different in their own way, but, when I create, I see them all the same. That’s my approach, at least. I don’t like to categorise. I find that the best things are created through cross-pollination. I think otherwise it’s just people trying to sort everything out so they can explain and teach them. And, I get it, I get why people do that, but I don’t personally believe in it when I create.
I’M TRYING TO GET BACK TO THAT CHILD SELF. THAT’S THE MUSE OF IT ALL. THAT’S THE INSPIRATION, THE WONDER, THE CURIOSITY.
Clearly, your career is very multifaceted. Can you tell me about your childhood and any early experiences with art that led up to where you are now?
My mom is a vagabond; we moved around a lot. I experienced a lot of travelling, and my mom is also a really talented artist. So, I was always involved in art one way or another, and we were pretty poor so I don’t really have anything besides our relationship. My mom and I are really close. I have an older brother too, and he drew a lot. But we didn’t have Nintendos and stuff—I grew up in Hawaii, so it was all about your imagination and going outside and I would just draw a lot. So, creativity was really encouraged, and my mom understood what it was to be creative, so it was always reinforced and everybody was really positive about me doing art; it kind of built upon itself really. I was super lucky. We didn’t have a lot of material stuff but what we didn’t have, we made up for in love and strong bonds in our relationships.
And that ultimately gets you further anyway.
I would think so. It’s challenging because I didn’t come from wealth so I have to earn everything, and it takes a lot of work every day to put in the time and fulfil these different destinations, but you can’t put a price on a bond with your parents.
And you have a daughter, right? So has this influenced your relationship with her? Both in terms of raising her in general and presenting art to her in any way?
Yeah, it’s a life-changing thing. When I first started dating my wife, Monica, she had already had her; she was three years old. So, I kind of had an instant family and I agreed to take on the responsibility. I think it changed me internally instantly so that’s when I really started stepping things up and taking my art seriously and that’s when I started to commit myself 100%. As far as getting her into art, I don’t force anything on her because I’d rather art come naturally to her. She definitely enjoys it, and we spend some time here and there drawing and stuff. She’s really into dance, so there’s not a lot of time in the day to sit down and draw, unfortunately. But, there’s definitely an interest there. She sees me doing it and she understands that I help support the household with it.
Definitely. So, she’s into dance, and I am curious if, aside from film, you were influenced by any other platforms, like books or illustrations or anything along that route?
Everything really. I remember sitting and reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and blasting Metallica and Led Zeppelin. I mean, that’s just a little sliver of influence. I try to be like a sponge. I let everything influence me. I’ve been asked what inspires me now and I think it changes every week, based on the person, the film, the book that I’m reading, whatever it is. I try to take it all in, take the bits that I like, and then leave the rest and keep going.
I understand you’re swamped with deadlines and have a lot going on. Given your background, do you ever find yourself reverting back to the ways you approached art as a child?
That’s really funny that you bring that up, because I’m really trying to revert back to being a kid again. There were maybe 3-4 years of really intense “adult” work when I had to set up my career and make a name for myself and I feel that that somewhat solidified it enough for me to feel comfortable. So, what I’m doing now is trying to cut my time up to go back to that playful child self. And that’s what the whole Lost Boy thing and all these silly adolescent drawings are really, deep down, about; they’re a culmination of all these funny things that I enjoy. I’ve been trying to find that young, youthful, fun self because that’s the spirit of it all; that’s the person that got me here in the first place and I lost track of that person through the hard work of setting up a career and building a family. But I never want to lose that person, because it’s my core and I felt it slipping a little bit during some of the time. It’s challenging, you know, as an artist to wear all the different hats. Doing art for a living is like prostitution in a way—like mental prostitution. And that’s a really gross way of putting it, and I try to class it up, but deep down that’s what I feel like. If I could just sit around and draw what I want to draw all day—which I’m trying to do—that would be the life. And I’m trying slowly every day to put at least an hour or two toward that goal. It’s going to take a little bit longer, but you just gotta be patient.
I’m trying to get back to that child self. That’s the muse of it all. That’s the inspiration, the wonder, the curiosity. Those are all very important ingredients to being creative. They keep you fresh.
By Ralph Barker
Hidden down a side street, behind a beautifully spray painted set of bolted gates sits 5th Base gallery. Back for their second show at the gallery, New Rule collective presents ‘Horror Show’, an illustrated tribute to Classic & B-Movie Horror Cinema. Featuring work from 30 internationally renowned illustrators, the show opened (appropriately) on Halloween and will be on until the 5th November when prints of the work will go on sale on the website. All prints will be limited editions of 50 in either giclée or screen prints, and once sold will not be printed again, so grab one while you can!
The show includes work from a number of artists from around the globe:
Ray Frenden // Gemma O’Brien // Blitz Cadet // Boneface // Robin Davey // Thomas Key // Guy McKinley // Mr Gauky // Tom Mac // Tom J Newell // Pete Murgatroyd // Fred Dirge // Robin Boyden // Godmachine // 2D Bean Kate Prior // Coke Navarro // Loose Limbed // Dan Mumford // Lynnie Zulu // Animaux Circus // Studio Muti // Burrito Breath // Croz // Russell Taysom // Sam Chivers // Liane Plant // Tony Delfino // Kristyna Baczynski // Jonny McKenzie //
Each participant has been allocated their own personal movie from which to create their interpretation, the full list of movies included in the project are as follows:
The Thing // Nightmare On Elm Street // Braindead // Toxic Avenger // Nosferatu // Lost Boys // IT // Phantasm // Basket Case // Night Of The Creeps // Hellraiser // The Fly // Lords Of Salem // The Mist // American Werewolf In London // Evil Dead // Dawn Of The Dead // Frankenstein // Texas Chainsaw Massacre // The Hills Have Eyes // Hausu // Mars Attacks! // Critters // Alien // The Wolfman // Demons // Return Of The Living Dead // Gremlins // Creature From The Black Lagoon // Wasp Woman // Slither //
Alongside the show, an A5 sized book has been produced that contains 52 pages of full colour illustrations, with every piece of artwork included in the book created specially for this project with the first run of 100 books printed as a limited edition, hand numbered design.
With the show in its final few days, head down now and check out the work for yourself!
By Kelly Richman
This December, the DRILL : FESTIVAL is coming to Brighton, and we’ve selected five exciting acts to be sure to check out!
Boasting more than 100 bands, artists, films, talks and exhibitions and across 14 different venues, DRILL : BRIGHTON will feature numerous not-be-missed acts. Here are five bands – Wire, Gold Panda, These New Puritans, East India Youth, and Three Trapped Tigers – that we are most excited about.
The original curators of the DRILL : FESTIVAL, Wire is an English rock band that emerged in 1976. Renowned for their prolific role in London’s punk rock and post-punk scene, the band played at myriad venues in the city before dissolving – and then reforming – in the 1980s. In 2013, the band introduced the DRILL : FESTIVAL in London, as a means to “show-case their impact on and relationship with groups and artists from younger generations”.
English composer and electronic music producer Gold panda gained prominence in 2010 with his debut album, Lucky Shiner. Since then, he has toured the world performing and promoting his music, emphatically described by The Guardian as “combination of warm, lo-fi electronica, a patchwork of crackly samples and melodies that stick”.
Based in London, art-rock act These New Puritans cite a wide range of influences as inspiration, from New York-bred Wu-Tang Clan to the happy songs of the Smurfs. With a timeless sound ambiguously described as “very 1970, but also quite 1610, 1950, 1979, 1989, 2005 and 2070” (The Guardian), These New Puritans are not-to-be-missed!
Known as East India Youth, English electronic musician William Doyle is new to the music scene. While having only released his first album, Total Strife Forever, in January of this year, East India Youth has been working on his craft for years. Initially focusing on pop music, he attributes his current electronic sound to the experimental work he created as a way to combat “the boredom of being at the very end of the central line, without any friends or social life in London.”
Unlike the previous four bands, Three Trapped Tigers is an instrumental act. Described as noise-rock, their dreamy music has been described as “the sound of imagination itself”, and “aggressive, beautiful and frightening all at once”. Experimental and raw, Three Trapped Tigers are sure to bring a new vibe to DRILL : BRIGHTON.
Be sure to check out the rest of DRILL : BRIGHTON’s impressive line up here and see them live 4-7 December!
By Kiran Grewal
IN SOME WAYS, I HATE ALL OF MY ARTWORK
Francesco Tortorella is described as a creative head, an art director, illustrator, writer, film-maker, animator – all of these titles suggesting bursts of creative energy in almost every form imaginable.
He, on the other hand, doesn’t like to label himself an artist, and uses his work as a way to express and stimulate debate and questions. He is, on many levels, an ordinary man who finds solace in exposing his emotional outbursts through his work and hugely enjoys free thinking people.
He especially explores the artificial idea of perfection that is constantly and brutally imposed upon us, and how love and life is in itself, imperfect. His illustrations penetrate the fragile nature of certain eluded topics and leaves lingering questions about how we actually perceive these everyday insecurities.
How do you want people to respond to your work?
I never really raised this question to myself. Mostly my artwork are emotional outbursts that I make for personal enjoyment. I love when people have fun and I love it when they react critically. Commercially speaking it’s a different story, my daily job often requires me to deal with a brief. In that case my emotional imprint is conveyed for other purposes, and takes advantage of other types of communication.
Who influences/inspires you?
I’m inspired by almost everything. I’m very curious and I always look in different directions. My greatest sources of inspiration have always been the history of art. There are great directors and writers who influence me hugely, as I’ve always loved Italian classic movies.
I am also extremely passionate about music, in all its forms, as music is always present within my day it inspires me creatively. I’m completely addicted to collecting records. Often the sentences and titles of my drawings refer to song lyrics.
What is your background and do you think it reflects in your work?
I studied art history, fine art and animation. Absolutely all of that reflects in my work. I start my creative process almost always from rough sketches and build on it from there. I used to be very “concrete”, trying to create a handmade feeling using paper textures and painted stuff on digital works as well.
Are there any pieces of work that hold significance more than the other? If so, which one and why?
Each piece of my art, till the moment I decide that they are finished, last as long as the inspirational mood that pushed me to create them. Then, once finished they become only pieces. In some way, I hate all of my artwork.
What drove you to become an artist?
I don’t think of myself as an artist. When I think about great artists, who inspire me, I think of those who have double the thought process and imagination of a “normal” person – those who think without compromises and boundaries, sacrificing everything for art and adopting extreme lifestyles often to the detriment of themselves.
You’ve mentioned that you work across a whole range of media, such as independent film production, are there any projects you’re involved with at the moment? What should we look out for?
In addition to my day job as a Creative and Art Director, at the moment I am finishing a short animated film. It’s a personal and introspective project made in traditional animation.
I’m also writing an animated series, I’m excited about that, it’s great stuff…but I can’t talk too much about that yet. All I can say is that it deals with a kind of music in some ways.
Speaking of different media, are you partial to any one in particular?
I work a lot with video computers and digital stuff mostly, and I love it, but paper remains to be my favourite media. There is no day without a sketch at least.
Would you say you had a defining style which remains constant throughout your work? I’ve noticed a lot of pop art techniques. How and when did you develop a style and how does this effect your work?
I don’t think so, I think I have quite a personal style, but even that has no real definition and I have to try and understand it day by day. I constantly research and experiment with things, looking at what happens around me. It’s mainly just for my own entertainment. I try to evolve my approach, purely because I get bored easily and I like to change constantly.
You recently announced your artwork becoming available to order all over China. Are you finding an international interest in your work? Why do you think it appeals to such a wide range of audiences?
A couple of years ago I lived in Beijing for a while, working for Pixomondo. And I was lucky enough to hold an exhibition. I must say that my illustrations aroused considerable interest, especially those which were erotic, so I made an attempt to make a partnership with some distributors.
What was the inspiration surrounding your project ‘The Weird Love’?
We have always been caught between two tendencies: to expose and surround to others or to protect ourselves and hide away in search of shelter. This project has been described as dealing with the need to reveal and at the same time to hide love. It’s a secret, delightful torture and a terrible pleasure.
In terms of your piece ‘The Wall Must Fall’, do you find your artwork reflects your political stance?
I do not like to take sides, artistically speaking, I prefer to try and stimulate debate and thoughts, conceptualising the messages or the ideas I want to spread. In this case I wanted to be close to the people of Gaza, most of those people are innocent children that are unable to escape from their tragic conditions. They are not free. I just don’t think we need walls to separate or jail anybody.
You are the founder of Made On VFX, how is that going and what work are you involved with in relation to that?
Actually we do a lot of stuff! Made On VFX is an independent film production company focused on creativity, animation, visual effects and design. We are only a small part too, Made On Studio is actually a huge creative network of directors, artists, writers, designers and a lot of creative people. We work a lot on advertising, the film industry and TV, we also develop Tech and interactive projects focused on art, social and film-making mostly. Right now we’re waiting to produce an animated mid-length that I wrote, a doc-film, a lot of TV shows and a couple of shorts – everything will be written and produced by our team, it’s exciting stuff!
By Abigail Yue Wang
The thing about someone whose work traverses painting (although the term is non-conclusive here), music and writing is that, she/he can really fathom a coherent language in any form to hit a dissonant note but still leave you strangely affiliated inside. Cheyenne Schiavone’s watercolour is one as such, an unshrinking but recognizable scrutiny of us and “the others” marked in permanent paint.
You studied history prior to becoming a painter and DJ, has that intellectual engagement determined your thinking as an artist?
Choosing studying history was more of an evidence to me, but it has probably strengthened me in my core logic: in any field – whether it’s art, thought or practice of any kind – I’ve always been thinking in terms of origins, aspects and then consequences. As everyone knows, it’s also the basic schema of an essay. I guess this is why the conclusions I use to give as an artist are not particularly gentle.
Take one example from the series No Future, you wrote “On ne nait pas femme, on le devient.”(One is not born a woman, one becomes.) How much volume does text speak in your paintings?
Let’s say that my work doesn’t consist so much in the representation of what it depicts, but rather in the analysis of a particular topic. This is mainly observations of a very contemporary social malaise, and the text is of major importance to me in order to confront a lot of ideas so that their manifestations in the final work are not exclusively emotional and may cause a kind of break in the minds of people I’m talking to.
This year you have handwritten Le Petit Prince with illustrations on a sketchbook. Was handwriting the entire story a form of meditation?
In a way, yes. In fact, this project was born as a result of an umpteenth reading of the original work by Saint-Exupery. It then became clear to me that the thought put in abyss through the various protagonists that the Petit Prince meets throughout his journey naturally unravels a major part of the problems that the human faces in his lifetime, making it more of a philosophical manual than the childish tale you are given as your first book – which seems quite a heresy but can do no harm. The message it delivers is indisputably universal; so, although I was seeking it out someone in particular, this work made possible reactions on my own and of course of a wider audience.
The paintings are bemused in either a moment of disposition or a fleeting gesture of the body. Do you consider your work a swift, impressionistic rendering or a meticulously built composition? How much planning goes into it?
It is an established fact that I bring more attention to the idea of hich result my painting than to its rendering: it consists more of a process of dislocation and renewed perspective of human emotions and expressions of a troubled time than to a substantive pictorial work. These paintings are only messages, sometimes abrupt and wild, tending to express one of these obvious issues and disorders that a thought, such as emitted in Le Petit Prince for example, could likely resolve. It is a thought ahead report, but intuitive in its realization and expression. As such, time is not particularly to take into account.
Do your characters all have a reference in real life?
No, my characters are just nowadays’ human beings, therefore experiencing major issues arising from the progressively installed existentialist doctrine of our time, scanning numerous theological, philosophical or moral concepts which, although perceived by contemporaries as a form of obscurantism, enabled man to rest on a few fundamental rules for his balance.
Do you ever project yourself in the paintings? How do you think about self-portraits?
I practiced a lot self-portrait, and will probably do it again in the future; not by self-interest but because I felt that these visions were mine. They echo an analysis of a question I digested my way, but which are rooted in the human, and then not necessarily me. That’s why the characters I paint have less and less overt signs of particular identity. It’s more in order to express really personal primal screams that I sometimes still go through it.
Bearing many roles – painter, DJ, scriptwriter – how do you balance the ears and the hands at work?
The balance among the three roles comes naturally because, somehow, I express the same things in all these areas: things that are inseparable from the information we have all more or less assimilated so far, which make some of us not pessimistic but skeptical and willing to move forward without forgetting the considerable luggage we are dragging up that hill.
Which one of these roles took shape first?
It has probably all begun with writing. This, of course, left the door open to many other forms of expression: words and shorn thoughts are the raw material of the atmosphere that can be found in what I do.
Do you see these roles as separate or a unity?
Definitely as a unity. I’m not free, I’m three. Maybe more… who knows?
How would you say your perception of painting has evolved thus far?
I don’t really consider my work as painting but like “journalistic pop art”, in a way. Besides, I don’t hide my shortcomings in terms of technique, so what I do hasn’t affected my vision of painting in any way: facing a painting or any other pictorial work, I keep an ignorant look. I don’t deny having received a good culture nor appreciating the finesse of a well done job, but I could never let these things take precedence over the shock that happens – or not – inside me.
Your latest exhibition at Young International Artists (YIA) is open now in Paris. What’s to be expected?
The exhibition “Sang Neuf” is part of the YIA, a FIAC Off art fair and dedicated to the French artistic new guard. It’s a great privilege to exhibit during the contemporary art week in Paris… so I’m really glad to be part of it and there will be a lot to see. But as far as I’m concerned, I let the bad student raging in me talk and made of the space that was given to me, with the kind support of Arnaud Faure Beaulieu (mister No Mad Galerie), a place where words and slaughters will know no compromises.
Exhibition Sang Neuf is open now in Paris, 22 – 26 Oct
By Tatyana Wolfman
Like a detective or Villain in a film noir movie, Rupert Vandervell stalks out the perfect location to capture a photograph. Vandervell achieves mysterious and isolating moods in his work by highlighting city lights and shadows that would go overlooked by most. He is fascinated by the relationship of the human form in the urban environment. In the digital era of over sharing, Vandervell is giving audiences an intimate moment in the city.
ROOMS: Who are you?
Rupert Vandervell: I am a fine art photographer and video producer living and working in London.
How did your relationship with photography begin?
I first began taking pictures as a teenager after being given a camera for my birthday. At that time, my family lived in the Welsh countryside and I started photographing the bleak landscapes around me.
Can you tell us a bit about your arsenal?
I have always used Olympus cameras. I love their design and they feel good to hold. The more compact bodies mean I can carry them for hours at a time without tiring. If shooting film, my favorite is Ilford FP4, it has that certain character I look for.
You previously worked in the fashion industry?
I have been involved with fashion for many years and continue to work with Vogue and Glamour on a regular basis on video projects. The demand for video is strong and it has become a necessary part of the industry as a content provider.
Has fashion informed your photography?
Definitely, I hadn’t taken stills for a long time up until a few years ago. I think the fashion world is certainly one of the reasons I went back to taking pictures.
Who or what are you most inspired by?
In a word… light. I don’t see a potentially good picture unless I first see the light and shade falling on a scene. That is what excites me about working on the streets, the sudden discovery of a pool of light amongst the shadows and how the surrounding elements interact with it. Edward Hopper is quoted as saying something like “Maybe I am not very human, but all I wanted to do was paint sunlight on the side of a house.” I totally get that.
Do you ever take photos in color?
Black and white is right for me and always has been. I think it tells a better story. There is a mystery and emotion that I don’t seem to find so much in colour pictures. I have tried some colour but it just doesn’t seem to work in the same way; I find it too confusing.
Is London an important backdrop to your work or could your photos tell a story of any metropolis?
Good question. With the ‘Man on Earth’ series, although all the pictures are shot in London, I didn’t want to use any recognizable landmarks. This was because I wanted it to look like a city anywhere in the world. That way it lets the viewer make up their own mind about what’s going on in the picture. For me, a good picture will allow you to do that. I want to be able to put myself in the scene and imagine what it would feel like to be there. So really, I could have been shooting in some other city and I would have used it in the same way. However, for the most part London is the right place for my work; it is the right background.
Many of your photos portray lone figures. Is the isolating life of the city an important theme in your work?
Yes and I think it always will be. That look and feeling of isolation and solitude gives me a rush. It’s also my take on our overcrowded world with all its trappings of technology and communication where it’s hard to imagine ever being really alone. If nothing else, my pictures attempt to portray moments of beautiful silence in the most unexpected of places.
Who are the subjects in your work?
My subjects are generally anonymous figures moving through the urban landscape. I look for people who I think can best help to tell the story or convey the mood I’m looking for.
The moods you create in some of your photos, especially in ‘Urbanities’ and ‘Late Night Tales’, feel reminiscent to those in a film noir movie. Are you trying to get your audience to put together a story in your work?
That is one of the main objects for me when going about a series. The pictures must relate to one another with a sense of belonging together. For me the most important aspect of any picture is to imagine a story from it of some kind. And that can change over time depending on your mood. When I look at a picture I want to feel an emotion and a sense of being involved somehow. I could go back to it a year later and feel something completely different but it will still draw something from me. This is what I want from the viewer, a sense of emotional involvement.
Because your photography is influenced by film noir, is nostalgia an important quality of your work?
Yes, I think it is. Looking back to the forties or fifties there is an almost eternal sense of style to be found there. I do think we live in a rather bland age and I’m not convinced we’ll look back with a fondness on how we lived. In my work, I try to recapture some of the personality of times gone by.
You have a remarkable sense of capturing both natural and manmade light. You also create impeccable geometric shapes and lines throughout your work. Can you talk to us a bit about your evidently meticulous process of finding the right location and lighting?
I am immediately attracted by shapes and lines created by light. I will walk around for a long time hunting for scenes that offer the right combination. More often than not, these are quite obscure places, behind buildings or down passageways etc, definitely off the beaten track. Time of day is also important. A place can look completely different from one hour to the next. It’s about choosing the right time. Night is the real challenge. I may find the right location only to be let down by the lack of available light and there has to be a real quality between it and the shadows. I love night photography because you can go out any night but I spend much more time hunting for the right space.
What is the significance of harmony in your work?
Everything in the picture has to be there for a reason. I will always look to reduce the number of elements if I can. I want to make the image as simple as possible leaving only what is really necessary to tell the story.
Is your house exceptionally clean?
Ha ha! Yes, it is. People have always remarked on it. All my life, I have been obsessed by order and cleanliness and it has had a big effect on my work. I am in a constant state of de-cluttering and minimalising. The fewer items around me the better I feel.
If you could be play any movie role, which would it be?
That would have to be a role in a classic film-noir. I’d want to be lurking in the background, wearing a great hat and casting a deep shadow.
The Breakable issue:
The Ultimate Manual for Creative Survival.
When something is beautiful, it is very easily consumed and it shouldn’t be about readily consuming. It should be about pausing and relooking. – Lara Jensen, the London based designer and artist takes over the main stage and opens our new issue filled with stories of life adventures, flourishing bravery and conquered barricades.
Giving a voice to our ever growing collection of cutting edge artists and creatives we bring you in this issue: exclusive interview with Another Earth's directing prodigy Mike Cahill who talks to us about his new film I Origins. What is it like to write the dialogue for the most famous geeks in the world? We meet The Big Bang Theory writer Eric Kaplan. Influential musician and now music video director, Douglas Hart from The Jesus and Mary Chain on the dependent music industry. Paper Rain founder Stephan Wembacher on creative entrepreneurial. Bloomberg Aspirations, we talk to Director Kirsty Ogg and the New Contemporaries. The Technê Revolution, when Science and Technology become Art, feat Liam Young, Koen Vanmechelen and Memo Akten. Also in this issue Mark Neville, Connie Lim, Charlotte Kingsnorth, Kate Simko and many more!
By Suzanne Zhang
The Courtauld Gallery opens its doors to what is perhaps the most important exhibition of the year: ‘Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude’.
Today, the Courtauld Gallery opens its doors to one of the most important exhibitions of the year, ‘Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude’, a study on his drawings of male and female nudes that radicalised early 20th Century Art.
The collection brings together an exceptional body of works that are absolutely unrelenting in their technique and play on form. As the first exhibition on Egon Schiele in the last 25 years, ‘The Radical Nude’ proves itself to be a real breakthrough as the artist’s anguished, incessant and decisive lines reveal the terrible greatness in human bodies.
Fascinated by the human body in its simplest form, Schiele puts at the vanguard of his work his sister, his lovers, male friends, prostitutes, pregnant women, his later wife and himself. Through deliberate, almost awkward postures, he turns pink-fleshed bodies into haunting, emaciated figures that become even more intense and important, especially when set against the backdrop of the conservative, bourgeois atmosphere of Vienna in the early 20th Century.
There is a delight to Schiele’s unrestrained boldness – or perhaps curiosity, in tying in life and decay in such a vivid, complex way. Through his stark and raw drawings, he offers an electrifying and penetrative gaze that matters even in our contemporary times.
Egon Schiele, who trained in Vienna under Gustav Klimt in the early 1900s, quickly became known for his fascination with life, death, desire and sex –most of his works were considered pornography and he was imprisoned for two months in 1912 for contravening public decency. An unconventional artist, he subverted old traditions –his 1910 breakthrough was key in the radicalisation of the life-drawing room set-up and models’ poses, and his Gertrude studies (his sister) were crucial in his overturn of the passive, reclining nudes that adorned all the other walls of museums at the time.
Also present in the Courtauld’s collection are Schiele’s drawings of his ‘models from the street’, directly influenced by his vision that Vienna was a city with hypocrisy at heart, through which he shamelessly pulled out the most taboo issues of the time –poverty, vice, prostitution, at times rendering its subjects into creatures of desire, and at other times into tormented figures.
The intelligence of the Courtauld exhibition lies in its chosen chronology: from the nude self-portraits to his meticulous study of pregnant women and their newborns to his final years before his untimely death in 1918 from Spanish Influenza, aged just 28. It is fascinating to see Schiele’s evolution in technique and approach, and there is an honesty, an immediacy in his drawings that one cannot find in his paintings.
‘The Radical Nude’ is a unique collection that puts forward the palpable anguish, strength, provocation and desire behind Egon Schiele’s work. His unflinching portrayal of the human body is a must-see and places this exhibition at the forefront of London’s artistic cultural scene.
‘Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude’ is on at the Courtauld Gallery from the 23rd October to the 18thJanuary 2014.
By Kelly Richman
Renowned for his immense sheet metal sculptures and his key role in the Minimalist movement, Richard Serra has dominated the modern and contemporary art world for decades.
Given his international prominence and the elevated value of his art, it is no surprise that Serra is represented by one of the world’s top galleries: the Gagosian. With locations in New York, Beverly Hills, Athens, Hong Kong, Geneva, Rome, Paris, and London, the gallery is home to myriad acclaimed exhibitions – including, most recently, a show featuring recent sculptures and a large-scale drawing by Serra.
Simply referred to as ‘Richard Serra’, the exhibition spans two of the gallery’s London venues: its locations on Brittania Street and Davies Street, respectively. At its Brittania location, the gallery will display Double Rift #2, a five-meter long drawing created in 2011. Abstract in nature, Double Rift #2 is comprised of paintstick on handmade paper. While it is the only Serra work that will be featured at the gallery’s location on Brittania Street, with its grand scale and bold composition, Double Rift #2 alone is not to be missed.
At its Davies Street location, the Gagosian presents several sculptural works by Serra: Backdoor Pipeline (2010), Ramble (2014), Dead Load (2014), and London Cross (2014). While, like Double Rift #2, these are among the artist’s most recent work, they are – thanks to their large scale, steel composition, and minimalist style – undeniably a work of Richard Serra and a modern art must-see.
Double Rift #2 is on view at its Brittania Street location until November 22, while you can catchBackdoor Pipeline, Ramble, Dead Load, and London Cross on Davies Street until February 28, 2015!
By Abigail Yue Wang
Who would have thought that among the already eminent hats Dr. Brian May wears, the founding figure of Queen, a guitarist and an astronomer, he is now adding one more as the co-curator of “Poor man’s picture gallery”: Victorian Art and Stereoscopic Photography at Tate Britain. It’s another kind of fine debut. For the first time Tate hosts the rare displays of stereographs collected by May where photographers like Michael Burr and Alexis Gaudin seized the 3D craze at the very birth of photography in 1850s. Stereographs consisting two photographs taken in marginally varied positions are place side by side, when viewed up close, the three-dimensional tableaux invites gasps that are no less astonished today than at their first creation 150 years ago, in return influencing traditional paintings of its days.
“Poor man’s picture gallery”: Victorian Art and Stereoscopic Photography
On view at Tate Britain
13 Oct 2014 – Apr 2015
By Jack Wynn
Earning her stripes as a breaking new talent in her native China, Li elevated her dream of becoming a fashion designer to New York, where as well as graduating from Parsons has also showcased at New York Fashion Week. Here, Li gives her honest overview on sacrifices, the best piece of advice she’s received from her mentors as well as finding her individual identity.
How did you kick-start your career?
I just graduated from the MFA program in fashion design at Parsons, so I’d say that my career is really just starting out. I obtained my undergraduate degree in fashion design in China, and founded the label Nothing Clothing while in school, which I was very fortunate to have the backing of several independent retailers. Upon graduation was when I decided to come to New York to pursue an MFA at Parsons.
Why did you decide to break away from China and relocate to New York?
The MFA at Parsons was a very exciting opportunity as the academic excellence and achievement of the fashion design program are highly recognized around the world. Also New York is one of the major fashion capitals and home of a lot of young fashion brands that I’ve frequently followed.
How did your interest in fashion come about?
Growing up I always loved to paint, when I was in high school I became very passionate about fashion because I loved how it combines both art, creativity with functionality – fashion design to me is a form of art that can be constantly observed and admired in daily life.
Who are the influential figures in fashion you look up to?
I wouldn’t necessarily consider her as my role model but Phoebe Philo is a designer that I’ve always admired. I think she is very forward thinking and modern in her creations, transitioning this ethos to her own personal style – to me she embodies both the elegance of a European woman and the cool personality of a New Yorker.
Building your career can be very time consuming. What sacrifices did you make to get to where you are today?
I think the sacrifice that most designers and fashion design students have to make is slashing the time spent with friends and family. Designing a collection is a lengthy and sometimes lonely process in the sense that one has to completely shut down and have some time alone in order to fully explore themselves to conceptualize and design a collection. Then of course there were countless late nights when my friends were out partying and I was working to a deadline cutting patterns.
Have their been difficult times in your career and how did you overcome them?
What I found the most challenging during my two years at Parsons was the process of transforming abstract inspirations and ideas into the actual design and garments. Yet this difficult time allowed me to discover and explore my own design identity.
Living in New York must give you plenty of fresh ideas for new collections. What inspires your work?
I get a lot of inspirations from my surroundings, whether it is music I listen to, movies I watch, places I visit or people I meet. New York is such a diverse and vibrant city where there is always something going on, living in the city alone is already a great source of inspiration.
What are your stand-out moments of your career to date?
It was the greatest pleasure to have my collection open the Parsons MFA show at Milk Studio during New York Fashion Week. The graduate collection was the culmination of my two-year study at Parsons and I was very grateful to have the opportunity to not just share my work with industry professionals and the media, but also to have my collection open the show.
What is the best piece of advice you have received from your mentors?
Design not only for production, but also for fun. I think as a designer it is very easy to get absorbed into the design process and become very product or goal-oriented. As I work on a collection I like to remind myself that the process should be enjoyable and only if I enjoy the process and have fun with it can I come up with a collection that I love.
There are many young people who are desperately trying to breakout in the industry. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a fashion designer?
It may sound cliché but I’d say try to stay true to yourself. It could be tempting to follow trends or be influenced by what is popular, but at the end of the day it is the designer’s own design identity that matters the most.
What projects are you working on right now?
I’m working on the Fall/Winter 2015 collection now and I’m really excited about it. In terms of style and aesthetics I’d like it to be a continuation of my graduate Spring/Summer 2015 collection, but definitely with new silhouettes and focus on fabric innovation.
By Tatyana Wolfman
There is little that conceptually links Natallia Pilipenka’s seven collections. The fashion designer reflects on different moments and struggles in her life through her passion, making clothes. Pilipenka has had a need to create since her youth: she started with crocheting and expanded her practice to embroidery, knitting, and sewing. Pilipenka completed her studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has received various awards throughout the years. Currently, she teaches fashion design at Parsons The New School For Design and participates in InvestFashion.
Pilipenka draws much inspiration from her Ukrainian background; however, she thanks New York for giving her creativity boundless energy. She explains, “NYC is everything, and such a unique city in this way. There is a certain aura of romanticism, dream, opportunity, speed, and raw beauty here. I love the pace of it, it always keeps me busy and the amount of inspiration that I come across every single moment is inspiring by itself.” Like the frantic rhythm of New York, Pilipenka’s process bears no structure. Her practice begins with an idea, which leads to a combination of research, experimentations, obsession, possibilities, and decisions. Each of Pilipenka’s seven collections carries a style contrasting to that of the last, like that of Madonna’s on every new album release. The only theme one can find woven through her collections is her passion for the craft.
Pilipenka’s latest collection, ‘Erased’, is the most serious of all of the designer’s work. “Erased” is her thesis for the MFA Fashion, Design and Society program at Parsons. The designer plays with the ideas of “removal” of something while “highlighting” something else in order to explore themes of identity. Pilipenka was inspired by deconstruction in text and art, in particular the works of poet Stéphane Mallarmé and painter Robert Rauschenberg “The ‘Erased de Kooning’ painting by Rauschenberg presented me with an idea of forced collaboration, as well as the question of whether or not you can remove one’s identity from their work.” Pilipenka pushes the idea of forced collaboration with her choice of technique and fabrics such as devoré, airbrushing, textile, yarn combinations, and knit stitches. Dueling relationships through out her aesthetics, black vs. white, flowing vs. structure, also reveal an exploration of the self in the designers work.
Although Pillipenka’s work seems to take a creative 180 with every collection, it is the quality and love of her craft that remains consistent. Her work portrays issues that were of importance to her at the time, something she needed to resolve at that particular moment.
By Nate JZ
Shoreditch has been housing its very own Canada Water, Saskatchewan till Oct 18th. Saskachewan means “swiftly flowing river” in one of Canadian’s aboriginal language Cree, namesake of the province in Canada where the artists from the current exhibition were curated, by world-renowned artist and Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medalist Adrian Stimson.
Stimson’s explained that the narrative for putting together this exhibition very much converges themes of identity and diversity, in a largely vacant land of Saskatchewan where indigenous and colonial influences meet and simultaneously uphold strong socialism and economy. This exhibition is a mini museum to harbour a united people with as a complex makeup as of any post-colonial society, a 20/20 vision into a harmonious and tenacious space distilled to fit into the trendy Shoreditch studio Blackall.
“Saskatchewan artists are a force to be reckoned with, these 27 artists have and will continue to evolve Saskatchewan’s story.” Says Stimson.
The coherence of the exhibition is striking. The paintings, photography, sculptures, ceramics, bead, stone and wood works nest comfortably amongst one another, having been fed by the same flowing water, emanate nostalgia and imagination.
“Saskatchewan” is currently being held at the Blackall Studios in Shoreditch till 18th Oct before continuing to Bilbao, Spain from 29th Oct – 2nd Nov. Please check Creative Saskatchewan for more details on upcoming events.
By Kelly Richman
With choreographed dance moves and a dazzling display of light, one may find it hard to believe that Ada, Conrad Shawcross’ rhythmic robot, has not always been the dancing droid that she is today.
Prior to her starring role in Shawcross’ Ada Project, the bot started out as an industrial apparatus in a factory. Repurposed and reprogrammed by Shawcross, Ada – named after Ada Lovelace, a 19thcentury mathematician – is now so much more than a cog in a machine.
For The Ada Project, Shawcross commissioned four female artists to compose music to accompany Ada’s dancing. Rather than establishing a soundtrack and then tweaking Ada’s movements accordingly, Shawcross has opted for a different approach: to present Ada to the composers as a means to “inspire, rather than be determined by, the pieces of music”. After observing Ada’s gestures, each musician created a tune to complement her mechanized movements, elevating Ada from lowly piece of machinery to jazzed-up muse. Now, as an instrumental and illuminated installation, Ada marches to the beat of her own drummer – literally.
Check out Conrad Shawcross’ The Ada Project at the Vinyl Factory now through 31 October!
By Suzanne Zhang
Mark Neville’s upcoming exhibition ‘London/Pittsburgh’ opens its doors in November at the Alan Cristea Gallery in London.
Neville’s new exhibition, ‘London/Pittsburgh’, is about to open its doors in November at the Alan Cristea Gallery, in London. His work is one that places itself at the intersection of art and documentary. Using a wide range of mediums to advance social commentary, his lens-based practice is a daring exploration of what it means to be human on a socio-political level.
“I don’t think it’s enough to just put photographs on a wall in a commercial space, I like to see work that goes beyond the gallery walls and impacts on issues and asks questions on social documentary practice. One of the ways in which I concoct these questions is by looking at particular communities – questions will arise from their experience.”
London/Pittsburgh is a collective of his works that bring together two projects: Here is London (2012) and Braddock/Sewickley (2012), respectively shedding a light on the daily struggles of British and American communities. The running theme is one of race, class, and how a camera can cast an unflinching glance on truths that remain so often uncomfortable. Often taken in manner of a ‘fly on the wall’, Neville’s photographs are a powerful rendition of communities welcoming him into their world, thus permitting a gaze that is often raw but always honest.
The exhibition is set to be an investigation of how film and photography can induce change in the world, and is done so by pairing thirteen works side-by-side. Known for his frequent subversion of the institutionalised gaze, Neville’s practice raises issues on political thought and activism, and sets his photographs within a new, contemporary framework that demands attention from its public.
Nominated in 2012 for a Pulitzer Prize for a commission by the New York Times Magazine, Neville is now about to show some of his most honest, gritty and powerful work at the Alan Cristea Gallery.
London/Pittsburgh opens on the 20th November 2014 and runs until the 24th January 2015 at the Alan Cristea Gallery in London.
By Tatyana Wolfman
At first glance, Elly Liyana Ruslan’s work comes off as a soft serve swirl of youthful naivety and muted colors. Her illustrations and paintings usually depict portraits, picturesque settings, and animals. The artist states that her work is “fragments of her personal thoughts and memories combined together to form a reflection of something intimate yet openly displayed.” Like a Wes Anderson film, her work is stunning, but, as with The Royal Tenenbaums, darkness looms beneath a pretty picture surface.
Ruslan was born in 1987 in Singapore; in her latest work, the relationships portrayed build complexity. People are posed with animals, but for what purpose? Is she contextualizing Eisenstein’s use of montage? Is it meant to represent the battle of man versus nature, or is it merely meant to make for a pleasant aesthetic? The mirror image is also a repeating subject throughout the artist’s work; are the images of twins or multiple parts of one personality? Her piece ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ might give us a hint as to what she is trying to get at. Perhaps, the artist is trying to turn us all into skeptics… Many of the themes of the artist’s new work has carried over from the past, nature, the double image, and portraits. Her earlier illustrations, however, have a stripped down quality and she also has a lovely series of defacements.
There’s one clue left Ruslan places on her site that allows outsiders to peak into the mind of the artist:
“The satisfaction she gets from creating art is knowing that a part of her exists in the work… And if you look at them close enough, you’ll find her story.”
By Joshua Bradwell
Photos by Sonia Arias
Filippos Tsitsopoulos is a painter, installation, video theatre and performance media artist who has worked in the field of interactive theatre installation art, exploring the limits of performance and painting since 1990. His practice engages the spectator/participant to a new theatre or rather a system of including theatre as a catalyst of our daily life. This is precisely the case for his latest project, Kage – Where K for Kott. We had the chance to speak with Filippos and gain more of an insight into his intriguing background of work.
To begin, could you give us a brief background into your work?
Well even if I’m not working with painting, I consider myself a painter who decides to use other artistic disciplines as canvases; like video theatre installation, traditional repertory theatre and performance. I have worked in the field of interactive theatre installation, exploring the limits of performance, as well as in painting since 1990. My practice engages the spectator/participant to a new system including theatre as a catalyst of our daily life. How theatre can change our reality and ourselves.
I use concepts that belong to the theatre, traditional and modern. These concepts are applied to visual arts, observing the effects that they produce. With the use of self-made masks produced from living materials, animals or plants, I construct parallel equivalents that enclose and juxtapose temporally disproportionate elements.
The dialogue with the history of Art is always alive in my works and in my life, due to the fact that I was part of the external collaborators of the educational department of the Prado Museum in Madrid from 2005 to 2012. I held workshops related to drawing and art aesthetic, with the theme ‘Irony in Art’ almost every day during that period.
‘Irony in Art’ was also my research theme during my Doctorate studies in Fine Arts at Complutense University of Madrid from 1990 to 1996. Before that I studied in Greece, painting at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki in the Faculty of Fine Arts from 1985 to 1990.
This relation with the theatre, with history of Art, with a big personal loss combined with my childhood memories, makes me create a system of works as independent ways of thought and reflection, on concepts derived from the performance and the theatre.
What inspired you to move into the realm of video theatre and performance?
The impossibility to communicate the issues that happened to me was the main reason. Although I studied painting, theatre came up, it was inevitable, and the love of all the masks, ‘layers of onions of an actor’s visibility or invisibility,’ make me jump through painting and performance.
The most unforgettable story for the development of this performance system was this one:
Long ago, back in the year 1993, the day that my mother died, I was still a student. My father, a professional actor, was interpreting Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Athens. I must say that this performance was memorable and imposing. My father, completely destroyed by the loss of his wife, buried the same day, dedicated his entire performance to her. It was obvious that all his gestures that night on the stage were speaking about her. The climax was when Polonius had to say, reading the letter of love from Hamlet to his daughter Ophelia, the words “Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt about my love, my love, never doubt about my love, my love…”
My father repeated “never doubt about my love, my love” so many times that the other actors on the stage remained astonished, and knowing that the very same day my mother had passed away, they decided to remain inert looking at one another. The public did not understand what was happening and they began applauding, touched by the text and its constant repetition and the emotion of the interpretation; so much so that they finally had to stop the performance for a few minutes because the people were continually applauding. And without understanding why this scene had upset them so much, they kept on applauding.
Later on, it was the first night that my mother was not at home waiting for us… and while I was heating my father’s meal for dinner, he told me, “That was for her (for my mother) you know”. And he continued: “And you like Laertes, (his son in the scene) please try, in your life to be honest with yourself and with it, as the night continues to day, you cannot be false to anybody…”
It was obvious that he carried on interpreting the role at home, believing or trying to convince himself that the reality we live in, the ‘truthiness’ of life, can be inverted in the theatre and extend into art. The reality we live in, brought back to the theatre; the theatre representing life, with all of our belongings part of a big stage and scenery of life.
A few years later in 2006 when my father died, I decided to watch all of his videos and performances, read and remember all of the roles, study all of the monologues, in a kind of obsession to understand my infancy and adolescence in my house full of theatre and interpretation. I constantly read essays from Harold Pinter to Gombrowicz and from Berry to Brecht and Beckett, to Peter Weiss and Marat Sade and began to articulate an enormous work of more than 72 videos of monologue performances.
I began interpreting Polonius for my father. I transformed my face with living elements, creating a flexible mask according to the face muscles and the movement of the mouth, imitating the red beard of the Danish Polonius. I played my first text for him saying exactly the same words as the ones he said for my mother. I transformed myself to communicate with my deceased father. The conclusion of a lifetime, the impossible answers to questions of our zeitgeist, how can you play or act in life and in theatre and what about if these roles could be inverted? Was this a starting point or the beginning of a philosophy for my father as actor and person — and my philosophy too, about life, religion, death and love.
I consider my art as a ‘sabotage of my own reality,’ and the reality of others as well. I use my face and my body in a concise and clear forefront. My face is like the vehicle that serves to transmit the message. And the message is a question or many perhaps: What would happen if the theatre could be used in our life to replace the reality? What would happen if our everyday life were transformed to tragedy?
I refer to all physical and mental consequences of the tragedy, including the sacrifice and the Oedipus blindness: To ‘see’ will let you blind? And the most important: How might we continue a stage play if one of its personages goes crazy, or simply it is not necessary, the zeitgeist that we live on, has replaced him or overcome it?
If there is an absence of tragic figures in our life why then do we not do the Oedipus tragedy, without Oedipus? Are theatre and its archetypes sufficient to answer to the current human existence and its questions? Or is it only a theatrical archaeology?”
Your father was an actor and you also speak a lot about famous literary figures. Have artists across different disciplines always played a part in your work?
If there is an absence of tragic figures in our life why then do not we do the Oedipus tragedy, without Oedipus? That is the question that someone must ask, wondering where all the famous literary figures go. I really care about the issues that come up when someone is looking at tragedy for instance. I don’t care too much let’s say about Euripides life, but I’m passionate about Oedipus. This became the purpose of my work.
As Jan Hoet, director of the Documenta IX in Kassel mentioned about my works “Filippos is working with art as subject. Art itself is capable to create Art.” To speak and express myself with borrowed words, brings me near to the behaviour of an actor who learns and studies an already observed and analysed reality and embodies someone else’s face, but beneath my face lies memories from reality.
I use my face, destroying it with pixels or masks, to recreate a natural disaster. The human suffering behind that mask and feeling of an impassive nature to human suffering is inverted through dramatization and theatre.
In Greek vases, almost all the figures are looking sideways, except figures that should face death; who are the only ones looking in front. So all my video portraits are figures who mentally are dealing with Hades. In Ancient Greece, before performing a tragedy role, the mythology says that Greek actors must ask permission to play from Hades, the kingdom of death.
This is where the Greek tradition is placing the actor before the play. To find a specific image to respond to in one of my monologues is like juggling in the circus between nothingness and wholeness. The circus contains specific images. Everything in the circus is happening ‘for real’. The dancer dances with ‘real risk’ in a real rope, and the bear tamer shows only the spectacle of wild-domesticated animals. When ‘something happens’ really means that the image is at a ‘precise point’ or a ‘thing’. The actor’s face and the ‘garment’ is an image. If the actor interprets himself, though he remains an actor, it is a ‘precise point’. But, if he identifies himself with the person he interprets, then the images produced are ‘mimetic symbols’. Looking at the passageway between actual time and theatrical time, imagined space with the real, is my aim.
Where did inspiration for your latest project, Kage – Where K for Kott, come from? What will the performances consist of?
It is very common for an artist to use his home ground as a canvas. Having a repertory actor as my father, makes you inevitably a silent witness of his rehearsals at home. This fact can change you forever. Endgame, Hamlet and Othello, Berry, Bart, Beckett, from Jerzy Grotowski to Giorgio Strehler and from Ibsen to Calderon, to Peter Weiss, Suzuki Tadashi, Peter Sellars, Heiner Müller, Tony Harrison, and Thomas Murphy, to Kafka’s “a cage went in search of a Bird…”
If this is the conclusion of a lifetime with your father, then you must close to a religion called “Ionesco” and the person to swear, as Peter Brook’s said, is “in the name of the Bible of Jan Kott”. Theatre is the medium through which to understand the world. Jan helped me understand what it means to find the non-evident in the evident, and the evident in the non-evident.
The project is related to a big forgotten person: Jan Kott. A series of filmed performances in public spaces and monologues/reflections based on his two books, Shakespeare our Contemporary and Theatre of Essence, (which are actually closer to literature than to essays), will be used as theatrical texts for my monologues, to reconstruct the imaginary life of Jan in London. Like Joyce’s Ulysses which revisits “payments” of a day time mythology, the character who is playing Kott, will revisit all his main theatrical subjects from Ionesco to Gombrowitcz, his relation with art and life, to his beloved and magical actress Ida Kaminska, well known from her Oscar title but also for her awesome interpretation of Mother Courage in Brecht’s play.
I had the good fortune of seeing a performance similar to this from the Greek actress Katina Paxinou when I was six or seven years old. Jan Kott knew Paxinou well and several times saw that play to include her in his specific book about Drama. My father, a repertory actor, was acting the role of the priest in Brecht’s play next to Paxinou. I barely remember Mr. Kott now, but his smile, his black shirt and he enjoying like a child the cakes Paxinou offered to both of us backstage. Almost every night after school I was in the theatre backstage doing my homework, watching Brecht’s play, enjoying my father’s acting, as every kid would do, every afternoon, until my mother, who usually finished work later would come and take me home.
Well, this project starts mentally from my home ground and is transported to the theatrical ground of London, creating performances in public spaces, scenarios and monologues, and reflections about theatre and life, as if I was metaphorically wearing the skin of Kott. In my works is living in London, walking the streets, watching galleries and Museums, sleeping on a boat by the river, approaching nearby strangers and talking with them and using masks as Kott’s favorite element of his Verfremdunseffekt (Distancing effect).
Acting is putting on other faces and embodying someone else’s soul. This journey was inspired by Kafka and “a cage went in search of a bird”, which became “Kage- where K for Kott”; video- filmed- performances and monologues all over London. This work will be displayed in a Gallery as a photography and large-scale multi channel video installation and will have several exhibitions when finished.
How important is the role of spectator/participant to your work? How much of a part will the spectators play in this piece? What is the final goal of this piece?
As a Joycian Ulyssean journey, where Homer’s Ullyses embodies the Joycian one and vice versa, as the Marquis de Sade and Marat in the Peter Weiss play shift into the other, there is no theatre without spectator. The only difference is that in theatre language we see things opposite, as well as in my works, from the end to the beginning from left to right. All this is like the classic theatre paradigm of the mirror, when Hamlet tells his actors to pull up a mirror so that they may view themselves, and if a theatre is a mirror then “the right is left in and the left is right. In the mirror, our heart is on the right side, we cross with our left hand”. And if we ask ourselves what is real in the theatre, then probably we will answer: the chairs. Yet these chairs when taken from the auditorium and set on the stage, they are no longer chairs but representations of chairs or “spots” in theatre language, like Ionesco`s empty chairs are waiting for the viewers to come. I also aim to convert the audience into actors.
The second part that I am now developing in London, is called The Grimaces Competition Bus and is drawn from an essay by Jan Kott about an incident that took place during the Second World War in Poland. During one long night of constant bombing, two Warsaw actors are trying, during this awful night, to fight and win a strange competition:
“The ugliest and most horrible grimace of the world made by the muscles of a human face”.
Finally, we don’t know who was the winner of this absurd expressionistic behaviour, but it was used as an example by Ionesco later on to his students of how performance could push boundaries and limits and how opposite the so called theatrical truth is from reality. The Grimaces Competition Bus is the digital and technological reconstruction and adaptation in a modern life and public art form of that incident.
In a Hackney central 38 London bus are installed 120 screens in its exterior façade and lateral, as well as in the upper outside roof. People are invited to get in and make a grimace and then give the reason for the horror or the joy of their feelings, and or any personal or political disappointments.
In every stop of the bus new people will come up and new grimaces will be added in the timeline of the day. Every grimace will be filmed and streamed on the flat television screens on the exterior of the bus. This event will be collecting grimaces all over London. Older ‘grimaces’ (from the days before) will be added on hard discs and streamed in some of the outer screens of the bus, while on other screens, the new ones will be performed totally live.
The inside part of the bus will be removed to include a space with one camera, waiting to record the reaction of a passenger to a memory or to something related to a grimace. A video edition and streaming team of volunteers and people explaining the action and the artist will be there to help and give them guidance points. Every day the artist will perform a two hour sequence of grimaces streaming them directly on one outer screen of the bus.
The Grimaces Competition is an adaptation a modern life form of that Warsaw incident but in an outside inverted shape. The metaphor of the attack of the commercial markets, art markets, social markets, art war, ‘the constant bombing of the human rights and work’, as well as the cuts of all type of benefits due to the new order of things, which embrace with indifference the unprotected citizens, makes critical the reaction and activation of the series of primary feelings and interior nerve mechanics, spasms and expressions and the use of them as the possible theatrical Utopia. In the exterior of the bus, as well as in Ancient Greece feasts the Eleusinian Telesterion (initiation hall) and Ex Amaxis events will turn too into a live structure society performance.
It can be considered as a collective absurd comedy drama viewed live but in video. In the outside part of the bus there are nearly two hundred or more connected and adapted flat television screens. In our theatrical modern theory, the fact of the two actors competing for the most horrible grimace under the sound of bombing Warsaw is translated to London reality.
This work will perform from the inside and will criticize with grimace and absurdity, the world of nowadays. This theatre bus will not stay hidden but will reveal the expression of the inner protected or unprotected presence of territorial freedom and the mechanics that arise in the human being in order to defend himself psychologically and physically from an external pressure, defeat the fear, as well the sadness. Grimaces as the weapon to face the impossibility, to formulate coherent actions and thoughts is doing exactly the opposite if we invert it.
Will these works be exhibited anywhere?
The idea of the Opposite, mentioned before is the matrix of this project. The works will start in galleries and institutions, filming myself there with my masks in places such as The Serpentine Galleries, The Whitechapel and Frieze art fair and will end in a social project where the Bus will be the final destination. When this overall work is finished, it will be exhibited one more time in several galleries. At this moment a map is being created to get all the locations, from museums and galleries to theatres and pubs that are taking part in this journey. To work with the Opposite, to bring the end and the purpose of something in the very beginning of your investigation or a project, is philosophical. Every end embodies every beginning. This reminds me of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing 1729-1781 and how prophetic his words were about how art shapes are translated, and with this I would like to finish with, “Poetry finally is spoken painting, and painting is poetry who remains in silence” from Laocoon.
By Kelly Richman
With a title as ambiguously simple as Danny Fox Paintings, one may not know what to expect from Cock ‘n’ Bull Gallery’s newest exhibition. Described by art critic Edward Lucie-Smith as an artist whose work evokes “genuine cultural seriousness mixed with a degree of mischievous sleaze”, Danny Fox, however, is anything but simple.
Sporting a patterned camp shirt, ombré aviator glasses, and a number of tattoos, Fox was featured on the cover of ROOMS 14 back in June. Through an interview titled ‘The Fantastic Mr. Fox’, readers were able to meet the man behind the mischief. Now, thanks to a new show at East London’s Cock ‘n’ Bull Gallery, fans of Mr. Fox can see the fantastic works for themselves.
Devoted to “a love for art and hunger for innovation and creativity”, Cock ‘n’ Bull Gallery provides an ideal setting for Danny Fox’s art. Having been introduced to the gallery while drinking in a pub, Fox’s approach to art – to “just go for it” – has proven successful; his seedy subject matter, vivid colour, and fragmented composition are constantly likened to the aesthetics of Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, and Picasso, respectively. Unconventional yet undeniably rooted in past influences, the pieces exhibited in Danny Fox Paintings provide a not-to-be-missed glimpse into the eclectic and exciting world of Mr. Fox.
Danny Fox Paintings is on view at the Cock ’n’ Bull Gallery from 17 October to 8 November. Catch it while you can!
By Rebecca Oram
The Royal Academy of Arts hosts ‘In Conversation with Frank Bowling’ ahead of the artist’s Traingone exhibition in Stockholm’s Spirit museum, looking at selected works from 1979–96.
Frank Bowling RA moved to London in 1950 from Guyana and nine years later began studying at the Royal College of Art after gaining a scholarship. Since graduating in 1962, Bowling has travelled the world with studios in both London and New York. His work has transitioned from figurative to abstract pieces, exploring and experimenting with colour, size and texture.
His upcoming Traingone exhibition named after one of his 1966 paintings, showcases his intriguing attention to colour that emerged in his later work and the unique textures he created. Allowing the colourful paint to take control of the finished work, dripping down the surface; he called his paintings ‘poured’, relinquishing control and leaving the appearance of his work to chance.
In 2005 Bowling was elected as a member of the Royal Academy of Art, becoming the first black Royal Academician in the institution’s 200 years and for one evening he returns and will be conversing with Mel Gooding, art critic and author of the Frank Bowling monograph for the Royal Academy.
By Rebecca Oram
Everything Everything present ‘Chaos To Order,’ a week-long event in November which hosts not only a plethora of exciting dance and musical performances but notably sees the Mercury-nominated band creating new material there within the library walls.
Collecting inspiration from the building’s Grade II listed architecture, visitors can watch the band creating new compositions; perhaps even witnessing the production of tracks that may appear on their forthcoming third album.
The aim of the event is to bring in fresh audiences to the newly re-opened library, to inspire imaginations and inject some ‘chaos’ into the typical library order. One of the highlights of the week will be a live broadcast of BBC radio 6 show Radcliffe and Maconie with Everything Everything appearing as guests, alongside Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Bernard Sumner from New Order.
Some other main events include theatre performances inspired by the library’s visitors, poetry readings from novelist Emma Jane Unsworth and musician Kiran Leonard. For one week only the Central library will be transformed into a creative hub. A place usually of independent thought and study will instead become a realm of shared extraordinary experiences unlike anything else.
Chaos To Order will take place 10th-15th November.
Some events have limited capacity and tickets will need to be purchased.
Photo by Jan-Chlebik
By Kelly Richman
When it comes to subject matter, textile artist Mister Finch finds himself drawn to woodland specimens and whimsical beasts like a moth to a flame.
While the pieces created by Leeds-based artist Mister Finch look as if they were plucked straight from a forest, they are not of your common garden variety. Reminiscent of vintage botanical illustrations and evoking the charm and enchantment of a storybook, one might expect to see the artist’s flora, fauna, and fungi specimens mounted behind glass or displayed in a bell jar. This is because Finch, who goes solely by his remarkably fitting surname, seeks to “create specimens that look like they have been collected from somewhere else”. Moths sporting wings of fleshy velvet, cobwebs comprised of twiddled nylon, and speckled textile magpies are among his enchanting body of work, whose components Finch has described as “fairytale samples”.
Due to the astonishing level of care and detail apparent in his art, one may be surprised to hear that Finch is entirely self-taught when it comes to sewing, as he “works alone and makes everything himself by hand”. By combining his hand-sewn vintage textile bodies with unwanted objects found at car boot sales and thrift shops, Finch is able to create exquisite works that both transcend reality and remain down-to-earth. Old postcards become specimen mounts, while “a lonely chess piece or a stray bead” suddenly sprouts a purpose. While Finch is typically busy as a bee sorting out new homes for his creatures, he does, occasionally, grow attached and keep them for himself — like Oonah, a moth with “a beautiful white fur body and carpet for wings” who’s now perched on a wall in his “studio full of books, glass jars, and naughty cats”.
Interested in these delightful creatures but not near Mister Finch’s neck of the woods? No Problem! Check out his little shop on Etsy or his portfolio if you find his beasts to be your tarnished cup of tea.
*All images used with permission by Mister Finch
By Ralph Barker
Stylistic and bold, Craig’s work exposes a world that is gritty and paranoid.
The imagery present in his art suggests an inner struggle to find a place in civilised society, with lone figures standing at a crossroads between salvation and destruction. His art seems to convey a desperate communication with the viewer, urging them to witness the fragile world we live in and the chaos under the surface. With his striking use of vibrant imagery, his work appears to evoke print advertisement, drawing the viewer into the fantasy presented to us and posing questions about the world we live in. Figures present in the work either blend into the background, becoming a part of the landscape itself — perhaps a message about our fragile connection to the environment — or stand out against a few simple ‘Pop Art’ colours.
It is often the colour itself that drives a piece, with our attention drawn to contrasting colours that help to set the tone of the work. In this way, Craig directs the viewer’s gaze, allowing the eye to rest momentarily on key components, highlighting central themes. These combine motifs of religion, violence, and exploitation, sometimes juxtaposed with delicate patterns and intricate line work.
Overall, Craig has produced a body of work that comments on society and seeks to question our relationship to the world around us, with his strong use of popular iconography combined with otherworldly, often mythical figures in a variety of situations.
This year’s Turner Prize aka £25,000 will be given out on December 1st to the rightful winner, one of the four finalists whose exhibitions are currently being held at the Tate Britain.
With three of the four competing pieces being film-based, it’s proven that us the viewers may find it necessary to invest as much manoeuvre into understanding the pieces as the artists did making them, given the unanimous verdict from major critics that this year’s entries are oblique and timid. Perhaps in this political climate where daily papers have been blasting stories on child abuse, plane crashes, beheadings, dismantling of our country, either we are out of capacity to react to shock art that some of the previous Turner Prize buzz-generating artists such as Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin have unveiled or contemporary artists have lost the will to shock. Even Turner Prize’s archenemy – Stucklists who have protested every year at the Prize decided to take a break this year, the least shocking bit of the whole ordeal. Britain is at such a fragile state and this year’s four finalists Duncan Campbell, Ciara Philips, Tris Vonna-Michell, and James Richards (who has been tipped as the likely winner for his film collage – Rosebud) may have just produced the art in reaction to this. As much as we miss the eccentricity of our Turner Prize artists, this year we will get sensuality for a change.
Photos by Abigail Yue Wang
By Ralph Barker
Founder of LeftHouse Films, Brian Mcguire is the writer, director and star of his latest film WiNdOw LiCkEr, which has its premiere at Raindance Film Festival this week.
A dizzying cacophony of visuals and sound, Brian Mcguire’s WiNdOw LiCkEr is often difficult to watch. In some ways, it is not proper to call this a film at all, as what has actually been crafted here is more of a sensory sculpture. The constant focus on a character’s features, as well as the discordant clash of visuals and sound, are enhanced by Mcguire’s stylistic choice to film the work primarily on an Android smart phone, in part due to lack of budget. The plot of the film follows Ben Wild (played by the director) as he rapidly descends into a madness brought about by his manic depressive lifestyle of addiction to live camera girls, video games and self prescribed medication.
Posted by Kelly Richman
While New York Fashion Week is no stranger to the glitz, glamour, and genius of the world’s most celebrated designers, this year, the legendary Ralph Lauren has taken the catwalk by storm – literally. Using CGI technology, Lauren presented his Spring 2015 collection in a very big way: in lieu of a traditional runway, Lauren opted instead to project a combination of live footage and computer-generated graphics onto a massive screen of water in Manhattan’s Central Park.
Reaching heights that even New York City would be proud of, each projection featured larger-than-life footage of Polo-clad models strutting before artificially-created scenes of the city – including, among others, a lit up Brooklyn Bridge, the streets of SoHo, and, of course, Central Park. Although the depicted scenes of New York are entirely fabricated, the models that complement them are the real deal. Using the same green screen technology popular and increasingly prevalent in Hollywood, Ralph Lauren’s team was able to transport the models into these surreal settings, transcending the traditional catwalk and contextualizing his collection within new and exciting realms.
While New York Fashion Week has come and gone and, having made it splashy debut on 8 September, Ralph Lauren’s tech-savvy show has since dried up, the spectacle has been immortalized as myriad images and videos available at the click of a mouse. Although laptops and tablets are not yet hologram-compatible and water screens aren’t quite household objects, at this rate, who knows what the future holds for technology and fashion shows?
One thing is certain: New York Fashion Week 2015 has some big stilettos to fill.
Posted by Kelly Richman
The art of 3D printing comes to life with Vincent Brinkmann and Jan Sengstake’s EXtrace.
Though steadily gaining prominence in the world of technology and becoming an increasingly popular tool in the art sphere, 3D printing, to many, remains a mysterious and mystifying concept. While many artists utilize this tool as a method of art production, emphasis is typically placed solely on the finished, 3D-printed product, leaving both the printing process and the machine itself shrouded in a façade of smoke and mirrors. To Bremen-based artists Vincent Brinkmann and Jan Sengstake, however, the art of 3D printing is heavily dependent on the printer and its processes.
In 2013, Brinkmann and Sengstake built EXtrace, a 3D printer. Consisting of a metal frame, a rotating mount reminiscent of a potter’s wheel, and a nozzle that blows compressed air, EXtrace generates one-of-a-kind clay sculptures. Though beautiful, unique, and exquisitely constructed, these works are not the sole focus of the piece. EXtrace’s unprecedented significance, rather, rests in its fascinating method of production, as each sculpture’s composition is dictated by the data streams transmitted by De-Cix, a major Internet node. EXtrace’s motors and, subsequently, the mount’s rotation sequences, are determined by the frequency of these data streams within two day periods, leaving no two sculptures alike and creating objects representative of juxtaposing technologies: clay, an ancient, tangible medium, and the Internet, a modern telecommunication tool.
Given the beauty of its finished clay sculptures, the prominence of its production methods, and the technological brilliance of its design, classifying EXtrace as a single artistic form may appear to be a difficult task. To Brinkmann and Sengstake, however, it is quite simple: EXtrace is an installation piece. They note:
“Our main interest was to reflect how our communication ways work and what the key elements are. This concept and the interest in 3D printing, setting up art installations and sculpturing are the base of this work.”
Ultimately, each element of EXtrace works together to comprise a multi-faceted and inventive installation piece that, while certainly referencing the past, uses new technologies to modernize art and suggest its inherent relationship with scientific discovery. So what’s next for the printer? While Brinkmann and Sengstake are not yet sure, it is clear that, with EXtrace, the artists are successfully utilizing modern technologies to push art in the right direction; that is, toward the future.
Posted by Abigail Yue Wang
When introducing Our Legacy as a label tailored by two Swedish minds, it goes often hand in hand to crown it with ‘the Scandinavian touch’ before we actually know what that entails. In its Autumn/Winter 14, what we see may as well establish such definition for the better. Taking inspirations from supermarket packaging, emulated industrial prints transmit the disposable impression into something of a decisive appeal.
It is a collection that concerns moment-to-moment wearability no less than the male chic. Occasional flowery imprints and muted gradient all become a statement that’s understated. Crinkled fabric looks for that delicious threshold between weary and unwinding. With high quality cotton, Italian wool, ornate silk and leather, the collection is a relaxed expression that will dress up one’s skin in long-lasting ease, playing for keeps for the tactile and incisive hearts.
Out at Our Legacy
Posted by Rebecca Oram
Jonathan Burt and Jesse Leeworthy have created a chic, innovative new water bottle which not only curbs the inconvenience of fitting a round bottle in your bag but is a reusable environmentally friendly design.
From Melbourne, Leeworthy is a product design engineer who won the prize of 2011 Emerging-Product-Designer at the International Design Awards. Now the pair are campaigning on Kickstarter with their new product. It has already been backed by nearly 5000 people, who have pledged almost $200,000 towards the cause; over 13 times their original goal.
The product comes in three familiar paper sizes A4, A5 and Letter, with a transparent and fashionably slim line form resembling paper; something that has never been seen before. Only 30mm in width, it is ideal for slotting in between books and laptops in your bag when you are on the go.
Made from BPA-free Tritan, a long-lasting and dishwasher safe plastic, the project aims to reduce our consumption of bottled water.
This duo’s original alternative will not only save us money but contribute to saving the planet as well. Set to be on sale by December, there is no doubt that this product should be making its way on to everyone’s Christmas list.
Posted by Rebecca Oram
Visual artists Sunara Begum and Dunstan Perera host their new exhibition at The Crypt: Retracing the Eye: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless.
Here, Sunara Begum and Dunstan Perera create a visual exploration of the work of influential photographer Margaret Cameron. Positioned in the stunning location of The Crypt; the 18th century architecture and brick vaulted ceilings will serve as the perfect atmospheric backdrop for this new exhibition.
Begum engages with culture in all her work, desiring to tell stories through her visual interpretations and in doing so, forming connections between the past and the present. These two artists collaborate together to re-awaken the meaning behind the images of this influential English photographer.
Julia Margaret Cameron was born in Calcutta over 150 years ago. This exhibition explores the photographs she took in her later life whilst living in Ceylon; as she captured people forever in a frame of silence. Begum and Perera let the silent speak once more, exploring these photographs and their subjects and setting free the unspoken narratives within.
Displaying not only photography but etches and wood-cuts, these visual pieces once again inject life into Cameron’s work, tracing the past and relating it back to the voices of the present. Blurring the boundaries of time, the artists cast new perspectives and interpretations on to Cameron’s collection.
The exhibition runs from the 29th September to 12th October at The Crypt Gallery, St Martin in the Fields.
Posted by Alice Hughes
Sufficiently sticky from twenty-six degree heat, I was more than pleased to be invited into the cool and creative rooms of Salford-based independent arts organisation Islington Mill, by Rachel Goodyear. With her bohemian-like attire and relaxed demeanour, she seemed very much a part of the place. Her studio is her scrapbook; here you can find magical traces of her imagination such as odd clippings about fungus, her mascot ‘A Girl with Birds Inside Her’ mask and a collection of gothic figurines in a glass cabinet. In her darkly fairytale work you’ll find relentlessly dancing devils, humans wearing beastly masks, young doppelgangers, the trappings of vulnerable animalistic stances, and even a couple feeding each other like birds. Yet her world is her own; these are not archaic characters, but slightly skewed versions of her everyday experiences and observations. Her most recent exhibition work at London’s Pippy Houldsworth Gallery differs significantly from her previous work, and now she’s in collage-style experimental mode. It was a privilege to hear her talk so openly, especially about her collection of drawings ‘Unable To Stop Because They Were Too Close To The Line’ which were her diary while she was undergoing chemotherapy in 2006 for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Where did you train as an artist?
I did my BA at Leeds Metropolitan University. It was quite a long time ago now! I was in a really productive year, so I think as a year group we all got along well. There was a lot of support and enthusiasm, which helped a lot.
What has made you stay in Manchester – what is it about the art scene that has made you stay?
Predominantly this place (Islington Mill) – I do sometimes wonder that, especially being in the same studio for so many years and watching everything change around me – even the view out of the window is changing. It does come back to this place. There are some really fantastic places in Manchester as well; it’s a brilliant support network. There’s the International Three Gallery, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery…It’s a good city to be in, but the Mill is definitely my creative home.
Much of your work is like a twisted folklore, a darker version of Alice in Wonderland which sucks all the cliché out of the Disney adaptations. Were you read fairy tales as a child?
Yeah I was read fairy tales, but also my Mum was really into Norse and Greek mythology, there was always these peculiar story books lying around – a lot of them were really old. Also, my great aunty was a mischievous old storyteller – she was quite a character – she would look after me quite a lot and just sit and tell me loads of stories. Some of them were true, others she just made up. I grew up with a lot of tall tales!
Are there any particular figures which feature in your work?
There tends to be more of a serendipitous meeting of characters. Whenever I make work I never actually think about fairy tales or folk tales. What I tend to do is look at the everyday and twist it slightly, perhaps using the objects as metaphors. Because a lot of folklore is built upon those lines as well, I think you get a crossover of old characters and beliefs. I start to notice little similarities there. A few years ago I started to look closely at the trickster character in mythology, mainly because I started reading about the trickster from various different mythologies and cultures and started to notice so many similarities between the characteristics of the trickster and those in my own work. There’s mischievousness, deception…
Explain your use of white space… It seems to correspond to your artwork titles which are simple and devoid of excessive allusion – it’s as if each one encloses a moral or a secret which can’t quite be pinned down the same way as conventional fairy stories…
Right from when I very first started bringing the drawings out of the sketchbook, I saw them as being fragments almost like if you extract something from its natural surroundings, or a sentence from its usual context. If you just strip everything else away it just heightens that ambiguity of who it is, where it has come from, what it’s doing. That white space becomes a charged space even though there’s nothing in it, making you question what could be there. When there’s a lot of space around something it can become quite bleak and maybe appear to be quite vulnerable. It can be like a sinister character in the mist.
Have you ever considered book illustration?
Not as such. I have had people come to me, and if there’s a particular drawing they like that already exists which they think will really suit the story then that’s fine, but it’s more a meeting of creative minds. Robert Shearman, who has written collections of dark short stories, has used some of my drawings in this way. I’ve also done album covers for close friends; when I really like their music and they like my art work, we put the two together and it just kind of works. But it doesn’t happen very often, I can’t illustrate other people’s ideas! I find it quite peculiar when I’m labelled as an illustrator, because I can’t!
There’s something addictively uncanny about your work, which is both familiar and distancing at the same time. Is this intentional?
In a way. Sometimes more so than others, I will have an idea before I put it on paper and it will be quite deliberate. The other way I work is more like a stream of consciousness. To be honest, I prefer the stream of consciousness, but it does tend to take a little longer for things to happen that way, it’s more of a process that’s ongoing over time. There are definitely things you can recognise in my work, because of the way it takes in what’s around, sometimes very ordinary things and twisting them – putting things together that might not necessarily go together. Kind of just screwing things up a little bit! It’s a kind of in-between, sleepwalking state, real but not real. That’s the kind of state I’m interested in.
I loved seeing your animation ‘Girl with birds inside her’ – I felt she was inescapably trapped, in comparison to the characters in your drawings…
That’s pretty much what I want the animations to do. When I first started getting interested in animation it wasn’t to make a story. The girl with birds inside her is a long standing character for me, even my studio mascot is ‘the girl with birds inside her’. It’s a sketch which I’ve been doing for years and years. I always imagined she would have all these birds inside her; she would cough one up and another one would take its place so she could never get her breath or be given her voice. But then again I had this idea that she was guided by the fluttering, and the birds’ compass direction was working inside her.
The scenarios I draw on paper tend to show characters caught in a moment, so you could imagine anything could happen next. I had ideas for characters caught in a cycle, which I knew could only be achieved through movement and creating a loop. That’s when I got interested in animation. Most of my animations work as an inescapable cycle, but this was my most ambitious. I underestimated the amount of work which goes into them!
Posted by Rebecca Oram
Since 1949 Bloomberg New Contemporaries has given a platform to the UK’s brightest emerging artistic talent. This year the exhibition begins at Liverpool’s World Museum before moving once again to London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts.
BNC gives final year and recent graduates a chance to display their work to the public. From almost 1,400 submissions, this year’s selectors; Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Enrico David and Goshka Macuga, have given the spotlight to the most promising few.
Celebrating the organisation’s 65th year running, fifty-five artists have been chosen, coming together to produce a diverse and exciting exhibition of talent. Those selected have joined a roster that has previously included names such as Jake & Dinos Chapman, Tacita Dean, Mona Hatoum, Mike Nelson, David Hockney, and Damien Hirst.
With a focus on moving image, performance and print making, there are a plethora of themes being explored this year. Many venture into exploring materiality and methods of production in their work, while others delve deeper into the subjects of current affairs, human behaviour, language, desire and the body.
With many prestigious artists having started out here, there are high hopes for these artists and what they will be capable of in the future.
Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the World Museum 20th September to 26th October 2014
Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA 26th November to 25th January 2015
Posted by Alice Hughes
Whenever we are confronted with a body hooked up to a machine, whether life support or someone’s obsessive mobile phone addiction, human extinction and the death of genuine humanity doesn’t seem so far away.
Upon meeting a human-machine maybe you’ll think of Jean Baudrillard’s essay ‘Prophylaxis and Virulence’ whereby the ‘Boy in the Bubble’ lives a ‘vacuum-sealed existence’ free from infection, parented by computers. His contact with the outside world means instant death. This parallels how current systems, whether social or technological, are all ‘potentially immunodeficient’ – humans have rendered themselves defenceless in their dependence on medication, technology and immunisation.
Our human-machine future may be inevitable, but it is certainly not humanity’s endgame just yet. Brooklyn-based artist Ted Lawson’s Ghost in the Machine project reveals the potentiality of the new cyborg art object. This life-sized, nude self-portrait made entirely from his own blood, demonstrates a positive symbiosis between human-animal and machine whereby expression is unlocked through technology. Lawson’s blood was fed into a CNC machine, where it travelled through the mechanical parts. A robotic arm attached to the machine, programmed to copy his designated illustration, mapped his figure onto the page. The results are both dramatic and haunting; his figure looks printed almost in the same manner of mechanically reproduced pop art, yet his exposed body depicted in red conjures emotions of vulnerability and mortality.
There’s no chance of Instagram selfies ever positively changing the nature of human relations, but Lawson’s reinvention of the selfie stands a chance. When technology is shown as something creative, organic and human, a future lies ahead where we do not depend or work in opposition to the machine, but live co-operatively and creatively alongside it. The individualist, centralised, monolithic ‘I’ of humanism ceases to exist and a performative animal-machine identity is born with the power to destabilise consuming dangers of totalising theory and dualist definitions.
Ghost in the Machine is part of Ted Lawson’s solo exhibition The Map Is Not The Territory at Joseph Gross Gallery, New York from 11th September until 4th October 2014.
Posted by Jeremiah Tayler
Walking in to The Forge, you might first think you’ve got the wrong place… Woah! Well, hold on there, just a second… Indeed, the venue is a large, open-spaced building with a quirky, kitsch, light scene, a lovely sky-light roof and foliage rampaging down one of the walls (Yes, truly!), but so what? When you take a few paces into a room and your initial sense of anxiety (Think: Do I belong here?) is consolidated, along with your querulous sense of identity or dress to the event, all rescinded by appeasing grooves, one’s mind soon starts to follow their heart and an air of openness dawns and drifts upon you.
The night goes by the name of Out-Spoken, and the location sure speaks for itself. Immediately, any sense that poetry must be for the super-refined, magisterial, or entirely self-aware groups to covet for themselves, is blown apart; here you might just expect to get a couple of drinks to kick off your night out (Recollections of the world cup being screened in the room overhead…), so why not just jam with a select of the finest local entertainment? After all, poetry is for everybody. This seems to be the keen mantra behind Out-Spoken’s thing; hand-picked by the group to diversify the show, the entertainment in store really is of such quality that it has tremendous appeal, even if you aren’t something of a scribbler, yourself. The night, hosted by resident MC The Ruby Kid, was kicked off with a dazzling piano performance by contemporary-classicist composer Karim Kamar, which, for it’s astounding elegance, would have given even the hardiest of misers a difficult time of not being roped in and succumbing to curiosity as to the remainder of the evening.
Run by a tight-knit crew of four friends and long-time contributors to the scene, and headed by acclaimed UK poet Anthony Anaxagorou, the vision of the night’s direction is one such as will cater to anyone’s mood and taste; a varied demographic with each their own unique voice, and the whole thing is never chagrined by unequal levels of talent but is kept in check and curated through inspection and appreciation, securing a night of returning talent as well as those who are new to the scene; each as wonderfully charismatic as the last, the smoothness and setting sees the whole operation glide across various styles and forms, always with something of a musical impetus to cling to and carry it across, there’s a seamless blend of jokes, (Thank you Chris Redmond) anecdotes and poetry; really, it becomes more of a variety act, without the embarrassing clown-school types (Big pants, red noses…) or dogs jumping through hoops. Not here! It’s all kept relatively much more cool and down to earth, whether through sarcasm, or the politically charged aspects of the diaspora. By this point you might think it’d all be too much to carry off, or to take home upon your shoulders, but the acts are broken up mid-way, and there’s always some light-heartedness to be had at the end of a dark day, with such evocative performances; judicial, profound, belligerent, and many things more, that the speakers come to represent something more than just their flesh and blood and become paradigms: sensational ideals incarnate; a ‘movement’, in motion that is sure to catch on.
and though I couldn’t hide my preliminary excitement to catch her in the flesh, figuratively speaking, I did soon espouse my professionalism again…
I see you’ve been rather busy on tour recently, so how does it feel to be here?
It’s good! It’s really good, yeah. It’s tiring, but it’s not normally in such a nice venue, to be honest, normally it’s just back rooms in pubs and that sort of thing.
Do you think that’ll have a positive repercussion in terms audience’s reaction to your work?
I don’t know, to be honest, maybe if it’s so much lighter, they might get a bit nervous with the sexual content of my work, but I’m not sure…
I guess if people start to look nervous, we could always dim the lights a little bit. Still, it must be nice to have a varied audience and not all people who are reinforcing a poetry elitism.
Yeah, I come from a little village and I think people are still intimidated by poetry a little, whereas in London, people seem to be more open to it, I think.
Have you noticed much of a difference in attitudes to poetry as you’ve travelled around?
Hmm, I don’t know. In some places I suppose people see it more, but there’s plenty of people who love poetry all over the country, not just in London, and likewise, there’s probably a lot of people in London who are a bit bored of spoken word poetry, while others love it because they get to go to so many things. I guess maybe it’s more special if you only get to see one thing a year, but generally, no, the audiences are always kind of similar.
Do you think people are adapting to poetry more, maybe it’s becoming more spoken of?
I think it’s slowly changing but there’s still that traditional attitude where people think ‘Oh, I don’t like poetry’, and they remember the poetry from school. Maybe not so much if you’re in the city centre, and maybe it’s changing more with YouTube, but I think a lot of people still only have that experience of what they learnt from school. And a lot of that is actually really bloody good poetry, it’s just maybe taught a bit crappy. It’s about getting it spoken and animated, I think, because if you read it, it’s a bit different. But a lot of kids love poetry for the rhyme and rhythm, and with my daughter, if I say ‘That’s poetry’, she says ‘No it’s not! It’s just a rhyme!’
Ha! Really? Why’s that?
Because she knows I do poetry and she doesn’t want it to be the same!
I’m sure she’ll come round to it, in time.
I hope so, but she’ll probably be embarrassed by it, to be honest. I can’t imagine what it’d be like if my mum wrote poems about sex or birth and they were all online…
Ah, it’s all very valid.
Haha, I’ll see what she thinks when I let her listen to it! One day.
She may well turn around and ask: ‘Who even is Flo Rida?’ One day, hopefully, he’ll be a thing of the past and it’ll be your poetry that keeps him alive.
Hopefully, yes! Haha… I think I’m going to read that poem tonight, but you can never tell if it’s the right audience. They’ve already dissed me back stage, saying they were going to snatch my book away from me, because I’m the only one that reads my poems, really, lots of other people recite them, and they know it by heart, but I just can’t.
It just means you do the most work, that’s what I’d say.
Well, I do an hour long set a lot of the time, and I know people can, but they’re usually used to drama or they’re used to acting, and I’m not used to that. They said they were going to hide my book, backstage, and I said ‘Don’t you dare do that!’
That sounds like bullying, really.
Haha, I know! I swear that’s what happens when I come to London.
You gotta hold your ground, y’know? Or, just get someone to keep a beat going for you and do it all freestlye.
I don’t know what I’d say if I tried to freestyle; the worst things would come out of my mouth… I’m really terrible.
Are you sure?
I bet you’d surprise yourself…
No, my partner’s really good at freestyling and he always does it on our journeys, like on our way to London, and I try to start it but I just say things like, ‘willy’, I don’t know, just the most stupid things come into my head.
I guess there’s a reason to start getting into writing silly kid’s poetry instead.
Yeah, definitely! I think that’s the thing I’d like to do next, start writing loads of kid’s poetry for my daughter, and just other kid’s stuff.
I think older generations kind of lose touch, maybe not with ‘creativity’, but with getting out of practice, perhaps people become intimidated to try, in case of fear of failure, by getting out of touch with expression, maybe you feel you can never express yourself properly.
Yeah, that could be true…
So, if you can always instil this love, to always be creative from a very young age…
Yeah, in whatever you do. Because I don’t know if I’ll be doing poetry for a very long time, I might want to be doing something different, for sure. But yeah, so long as they have an outlet in some way. I’m not too precious about my poems, I don’t think they’re great poems, in terms of not every word has been carefully thought out, they’ve just been written quickly and so if I feel dissatisfied with a line, I’m quite happy to scribble it out and write something else in.
That’s pretty good though, it becomes about instinct, in a way. No one ever goes out of their way to tell you ‘You’re really good, you’re really good!’ you know, everyone tries to make you second guess yourself- you’ve just got to be very confident!
Yeah, exactly. And I quite like my old job, anyway, so I don’t mind so much if I go back to it.
You’re just trying to further the good of humanity!
Oh, I don’t know, haha. It’s just, people write so much rubbish, and in newspapers, they’re full of so much bloody rubbish, it’s just good to do something that goes against that… I think the show’s about to start again, so I have to go!
And thus, we said farewell.
Posted by Tatyana Wolfman
App company Pixite is transforming ordinary photos into images that look like stills from Star Wars, or some sort of “sea punk-esque” internet illustration. Pixite’s new app Matter allows users to add 3D geometric shapes and architectural structures to their photos. With over 64 pieces to choose from, there is a multitude of ways to get creative with your photos. Each object can further be altered with 11 visual styles, which range from reflective to translucent. Users can also colorize objects with entirely separate photos. If you’re bored of regular landscape shots, Matter will take your pictures to new dimensions.