Friday, 29 July 2011

Campaigned Art

Last night I flicked through a preview of next season's fashion campaigns on the New York Magazine website ( What jumped out was the savvy use of art references in both the clothes and the ads - here my favourites.  

Jil Sander - Miró

F/W 2011, Photograph by Willy Vanderperre

Joan Miró, Hope of a Condemned Man I-II-III, 1973, Triptych

This is more than association- the motif on the pullover is an almost exact inversion of Miró's Hope of a Condemned Man II.  Jil Sander's Head Designer Raf Simmons might have seen the big Miró retrospective at the Tate Modern (14 April - 11 September 2011), in which the massive triptych is displayed in a separate room. See Guardian critic Adrian Searle in ecstasy about the painting -

Is the bent over body on the left an allusion to the title of Miró's painting? The model on the right certainly makes a face as though she had just been condemned (to death/ fashion thinness). But for me it works -anyone good at knitting?  

Stella McCartney - Magritte (ish)

F/W 2011, Natalia Vodianova photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

This comparison might be stretching it a little, but to me the feel and perspective of this Stella McCartney campaign have something of the mysterious yet sharp surrealism of Magritte (ex. the above Waterfall 1961 and Waisted Effort 1962). I can also sense a hint of Alice in Wonderland/Minnie Mouse. Approved!

Marc Jacobs - Cerith Wyn Evans

F/W 2011, Cerith Wyn Evans photographed by Juergen Teller

Cerith Wyn Evans, Inverse, Reverse, Perverse 1996

Marc Jacobs' latest campaign features Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans, and it includes several images more risqué than the above (for example Evans with a throng of baloons attached to his... This one, with the artist contorted in front of a mirror, seems like an echo of his own work with mirrors, for example his Inverse, Reverse, Perverse. As Evans said in an interview, the installation is meant to be "a machine for generating strangeness". Not hard to see why the collaboration with Jacobs has been so...fruitful.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Continuing struggle

While the papers are busy with the euro economy and Amy Winehouse, the anonymous death toll in Syria is rising.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, about 1,500 civilians have been killed since 15 March, and more than 1,300 people arrested.

Meanwhile, I found two pre-revolutionary shots from Aleppo and Damascus.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Trecartin's World

A famous artist once said: "The function of Art is to disturb."
I remembered this quote the other day when I came across Ryan Trecartin. The 30-year-old video artist and current wunderkind of the American art world produces clips which leave one feeling positively violated.

A Family Finds Entertainment, 2004 (Still)
Trecartin’s work could be described as a pastiche of identity in a media-obsessed culture. His high-impact world turns plotlessly, fuelled by imagery and sounds. Crazed characters, including the artist himself and constant collaborator Lizzie Fitch, sweep through takes like multicoloured tornados, hostile and attention-seeking, vacant on the inside. With grotesque costumes and wigs, painted teeth and faces, Trecartin’s creatures are constant performers, mini-Gagas beyond gender, marketing their lives through eccentric mannerisms and buzzwords.
In one exemplary scene from “A Family Finds Entertainment” (the artist’s graduation project for the Rhode Island School of Design), two manic characters interact disjointedly through shrieks and synthetic phrases. In another project, the 2007 I-BE AREA, a character called Pasta jabbers about “life, reproduction, always in the moment, always” like a deranged TV commercial.
As absurd as these situations may feel, they are also disquietingly familiar. For Trecartin inflates a world where platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have established a culture of immediacy and ceaseless “sharing”, ultimately leading to "opinion pollution" (Trecartin) and a defragmentation of identity.   

K-CoreaINC.K (section a), 2009 (Still)
This is rather poignantly demonstrated in “Any Ever”, his more politically-veered installation currently on show in MoMA PS1, New York. Four frenzied hours of material include a group of nurses-cum-party girls erratically dancing in front of a dental clinic (“Healthcare, I don’t care, that’s all we care”), a consultant called “French adaptation Korea” declaring that she specializes in "identity tourism", and a white-painted Latina destroying her flat and proclaiming her body a “good place for business”.
These videos exhilarate, but Trecartin's talent and enthusiasm sometimes feel uncontrolled. The incessant and no doubt consciously crass changes of music, frames and characters result in videos which can at times be nauseating to watch, and whose medium to my mind mirrors its message too literally. Yet ever since watching his videos, I overhear shreds of conversations in the street  or on a bus and cannot help but feel trapped in one of Trecartin's clips. If his art can - even temporarily - change the way we perceive, maybe it is worth the disturbance.

A selection of Trecartin's videos:
A Family Finds Entertainment, part 3/4:

I-BE AREA (Pasta and Wendy M-PEGgy):

I-BE AREA (Adoption tape):

K-CoreaINC.K (section a) and other clips from Any Ever available on Vimeo -

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Folie routière

If you’re in London this summer and not scared to venture East, you might get rewarded.
Architecture group Assemble, made up of Cambridge graduates and responsible for last year’s Cineroleum (a pop-up cinema in an abandoned petrol station, just launched another unlikely project – under a motorway.
Set beneath Hackney Wick’s A12 flyover by the Hackney Cut canal, Folly For a Flyover is a wooden brick faux-Victorian terrace house structure that includes an outdoor cinema, a coffee shop, and custom-made playhouse furniture. Creative tomfoolery in an aesthetic Heart of Darkness. Until the end of this month, the bizarrely organic-feeling installation (hand-made out of local, reclaimed or donated material) will host a variety of screenings, performances and workshops with changing themes such as “Characters/Superheroes” or “Visions”.
And the space is no enclave – canal boat trips and walks to the surrounding marshes provide unexpected perspectives on the intersection between nature, urban wastelands and the hyper development of the nearby Olympic village.
Supported by the Barbican and the Bank of America, until the 31st July -


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Dormant Arab Winter

In December 2010 I went to Syria. It felt very peaceful.


Unknown Mosque (scratched)

Police coming

Morning walk

Last rays, 1st of January

Day dream

Monday, 4 July 2011

Dear Internet,

Your infinite womb of crap and curiosities is now one blog richer.

Here I will share stories and images I come across and make, loosely based around the idea of culture. The aim is to avoid sectioning and to yield to eclectiveness - a subtle mess under construction...

Since this is my blogging puberty, excuse the occasional intellectual masturbation. I'll try not to blag it, keep you engaged, and leave my hands above the blanket.

Hold your breath.

Yours truly,