Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Patti's Revival

Over a year ago a friend lent me Patti Smith's "Just Kids", which I devoured like a wolf. The book is an account of Smith's complex relationship - platonic, amorous, sexual - with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, and irresistibly sucked me into New York's 1970s beatnik-bohemia.

A couple of weeks later "Just Kids" won the (US) National Book Award, and I went to see Smith's hommage concert to Mapplethorpe in Paris. She played songs, read some of her poetry, and recounted anecdotes about "Robert".

As undeniably moving as it was, it also felt embarassingly personal. It was the same excess of self-referential nostalgia which had made the last quarter of the book unreadable to me. I couldn't help but wonder - why does she suddenly feel the need to glorify him to us strangers, 20 years after his death?

Patti and Robert in their kitchen, 1969

Whatever the reason, Pattimania seems unstoppable on several levels.

First, it appears Smith is turning her book into a film.  Unsurprisingly, James Franco already expressed interest in playing Robert Mapplethorpe. For those still in doubt he's "family".

Robert Mapplethorpe polaroid, 1960s

Just Kids is also making a storm in the fashion world. Magazine VMan shot a Patti+Robert story with topmodel Freja, Numéro Homme made an impressively authentic Robert Mapplethorpe story, and fashion house Balenciaga's latest campaign is a post-modern Parisian hommage to Patti's insouciant chic.

Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 2012

If all that weren't enough, Miss Smith also just released a book of polaroids, called Camera Solo. It's a collection of personal shots, mostly of objects belonging to her many heros such as Rimbaud, Blake, Brancusi, and of course Mapplethorpe.

If anything, it proves that Smith is essentially a personal artist, an emotional fetishist who channels her admiration for the genius of others. Maybe that's a little genius too. In any case it's taking off again.

Patti Smith - Roberto  Bolaño's chair; Rimbaud's cutlery

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Films about sex are often too easy or too arty. Steve McQueen's "Shame" is neither. It convinces through clever pace, grimy-glamourous NY esthetics, and open-ended tension.

You also get to see Michael Fassbender naked, which is slightly reminiscent of Christian Bale in American Psycho, but more gratuitous (in a good way).

 "Shame" (2011) Trailer

The soundtrack isn't bad either.

Blondie, "Rapture" (1980)

Chet Baker, "Let's get lost"(1956)

Prelude & Fugue No. 10 in E minor, BWV 855 (J.S. Bach) Glenn Gould

Carey Mulligan, "New York New York"

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Last weekend I found two old disposable cameras in my room. Today I brought them to the photo shop.

Here the most existentialist of the pseudo-vintage bunch.

Juergen Teller's light

waiting for it

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Photohysteria in Paris

After weeks of palpable suspense, here my little review of the world's biggest photography fair.

George Rodger, The Champion of a Korongo Nuba Wrestling Match is Carried Shoulder High, Kordofan, Southern Sudan, 1949
- background here-

Vincent Stoker - Heterotopia, 2011
"The Soul of Ruins"

NASA, Surveyor 7, Moon Surface, Day 020

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Magical World of Tim Walker

Sifting through my favourite editorials of the past year or so, I noticed one recurring component - photographer Tim Walker.

Remember that post I did on Vogue meets Mongolia? Mr. Walker creates fashion fairy tales. Loaded with fantastical props, literary references and slightly eerie drama, Tim draws you in and leaves you wanting more. Here a selection to give you a taste.

1. Mechanical Dolls

Vogue Italia, October 2011 - Sad and surreal, a mix of clockwork Pinocchio and vintage harlequin.

2. White Mischief

British Vogue, May 2011 - a fashion nod to Evelyn Waugh's (anti)colonialist 1932 satire "Black Mischief". And a surprsingly romantic Agyness Deyn. 

3. Tim Burton - Tricks and Treats

Harper's Bazaar, October 2009 - celebrating a MoMA retrospective of Tim Burton's work. Morbidly fabulous freaks.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Catch-up on the Roof

So I had never seen the "Fiddler on the roof" until this week. OK, when I was 8 I tagged along when my sister's class went to see it at the theatre in Bremen, but I swear I didn't even get it was about Jews.

Which also means that I didn't get that Gwen Stefani's "Rich Girl" is a complete rip-off from Tevye's "If I Were a Rich Man". Which is kind of embarassing.

Yesterday I saw the entire 1971 film on VHS (doing the whole time travelling thing properly) and I couldn't believe how good it is. I also couldn't stop breaking into the "Tradition" opening song for the rest of the day (in appropriate situations). And the bottle dance!

Funnest film I've seen in a long time.


 Bottle Dance - Wedding Scene

If I Were a Rich Man

Gwen Stefani's pretty fabulous Pirate-of-the-Carribean-Harajuku Girl cover "Rich Girl" (2004)

Also, the entire film may or may not be on YouTube.