One family. One postcard for every day apart. The Butlers’ uncommon journey is told by the postcards from a mother to her daughter.
Collaborating with Dutch designer Irma Boom, Jennifer Butler has published an innovative book: JAMES JENNIFER GEORGINA, a taxi yellow, 1200 pages volume in limited editions of 999 copies, parted in three sections with a joint spine, telling a unique story through 1136 postcards and 20 dialogues.
Jennifer travelled the world with her husband James, in an effort to dry him out from his alcoholism, while their daughter Georgina stayed at home with various nannies, but Jennifer sent her daughter 1 postcard per day away – 1136 postcards written from 1989 to 1999.
205 flights taken, 268,162 miles driven, 2 bullfights.
A speeding ticket.
53 unpaid parking tickets.
13 cancelled flights, 1 bomb scare, and 205 churches visited, politics, wars, rising prices, births, funerals, holidays…
Yet what comes forward above all is their relationship.
We meet at the American Library in Paris, 23 years after the odyssey started.
As they arrive, Jennifer, a former model, on her side her very British gentleman James, holds a copy of the book in her hands, spiked with post-its of matching yellow. She is in full swing, mentioning another book by Allen Fletcher: “Be aware of wet paint,” he wrote in his beautiful handwriting: ‘I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way’ and it really sums me up: I don’t know ever where I am going, but I have a sense that I am gonna get there!”.
It was in fact Allen Fletcher’s work, and particularly “The Art of Looking Sideways” that made her look differently at the value of the hundreds of postcards she had kept in boxes after 10 years on the road. When in 1999 the drinking of James stopped, so did the postcards. In 2007, Allen Fletcher was only a few months more to live, so he recommended to Jennifer to work on her project with Dutch designer Irma Boom.
Behind the book, says Butler, lies a passion “for extending the boundaries of what a book can be. And the knowledge that books have to be more, different than ‘information.’ More than being able to download them from the internet” she says. According to her, ‘the book’ is not in the ‘up’ – it’s in the ‘down’:
“The book remains to spread something else: maybe sheer beauty or a much slower, more thought-provoking message” Jennifer expresses in her first correspondence with Irma Boom, sharing the designer’s standpoint on book-making today.
Despite the highly sophisticated and calculated design, JAMES JENNIFER GEORGINA is an emotional matter: “The book is an extension of the content. Irma would not have designed that way for a book about tennis players, or about architecture, whatever. This book is married to the silk screen yellow that she chose, and the yellow canvas. The book is yellow because its full of light and success! […]”
“My husband, Georgina’s father, was drinking himself to death. And with one failed marriage behind me I fought to stave off a second.” James was given only two more years to live, so “to save us I took the difficult decision to leave Georgina at home. We travelled to dry James out and we travelled to shield her from the indignities of drink. Everyday we were apart I wrote to Georgina. If love waits upon a gesture, then my gesture was these postcards. I wanted her to know just who I was and just what I did. They’re a testament to a mother’s love and a sharing of advice, anecdotes, front page news and exotic places” she explains.
“The post cards were never written for public consumption. They were written because I loved doing them.
And I did miss Georgina. And I did feel guilty and it was a way, felt like mothering from a distance.”
For Jennifer, it is actually a very traditional story: “there is a situation, a lot of descriptions with the postcards of a story, there is drama and there are 3 characters. They’re just divided in a very innovative way, because the description and the situation is part 1, the drama is part 2, and the characters are in an album in part 3. Usually when you read about a family or a story or a novel it’s all in one. […] ” She continues, “when people hear the word alcoholism – you know its like a dirty word or somebody survived it. The alcoholism really gave the book its Alfred Hitchcock time element.”
Jennifer admits that there was certainly a bit of irresponsibility concerning the traveling, looking back on it:
“The structure was: let’s go. Like Thelma and Louise. And I was so excited having James sober and clean shaven! He was adorable and generous and he is so knowledgeable about Europe, its history and its wars. It was like being back in university when we were driving! And there was no drink. Because he was so excited being on the road. So it really was not just about keeping him sober. He was sober and I loved the way he was.”
The book is framing this story of longing guilt and salvation for a wider audience in a fresh way. Despite the 210 postcards that are printed full bore in the volume, accompanied by 400 in miniature, most remarkably, the book also features a series of conversations between James, Georgina and Jennifer: “One guideline that Georgina said, and James backed her 100% up was: there would be no editing! […] “
Irma Boom, according to Jennifer, had approached the book with an enormous integrity and much love for its protagonists had insisted “that we pose the question to Georgina in one of the conversations: what was the sacrifice made by not being there. I said: ‘oh, isn’t this fantastic, Georgina spends every night looking at them.’ My mother said: ‘this is disgusting! my granddaughter is alone a third of her life!’ – of course the people who love you tell you the biggest truths.”
“It was never ever difficult [to talk about our issues as a family]. We’re all very strong characters and I think the love is so loyal that nobody worried about sacrificing love. It was never difficult to talk about the painful subjects: most of all it’s a love story.”
Below our office window in the mythical Villa Noailles, people sprawl in the gardens, visit exhibits and discover new designers and photographers. Creative stimulation everywhere. The yearly invasion of Hyères, a sleepy town in the Côte d’Azur, is at its peak, with this micro-festival gaining even more attention by the international press.
On the secluded terrasse in front of us, Raf Simons, the President of this year’s jury, sits in the shade of an umbrella having conversations with numerous journalists, while simultaneously the crowds gather and mingle: headhunters, designers, buyers…
Christopher Kane is here, teamed up with Carla Sozzani of Vogue Italia, Jack and Lazaro of Proenza Schouler came in from NY to have a look at the 10 designers’ work.
All Photographs by René Habermacher
“It’s very much about contrast: My work is always focused around the vulnerability of women. I play with it, I try to hide it or extend, to show it or protect it. This collection is really about my most vulnerable moment because I ended love after nine years of relationship. I thought I should speak about this in my own language which is fashion. In the beginning it was all black. But later on in the process I was getting better and was seeing the good things about my situation:
Life goes on and there is so much in the world, so I said to myself don’t worry so much! The world is sad enough, so bring some light!
So I brought that into the collection by using white and Swarovski elements and my favorite materials silks and leathers, to work the contrast between fluidity and the protective. The silhouette is very tall from the waist on, so it looks a little surreal and dramatic.”
“The last thing that stimulated me was just my surroundings I guess. I am having a lot of fun lately and I am really enjoying this festival: it gives me energy and I want to move on and work and do something with this feeling of being selected and being a little proud to be so. It’s a good feeling, so why not do something with it.”
“We always help each other on our own collections, but this is our first official collaboration.
We met in high school while studying for our baccalaureate in applied arts. After that we pursued fashion design in different schools–I was at Duperre and Juliette was at Chardon Savard. We lived one year apart and then moved in together in order work together. In fact, the collection that we are presenting in Hyères, is a collection that we made during the time that we shared an apartment.
As for the collection…our starting point was a scarecrow. Using the image of the scarecrow we started to explore the feminine silhouette. Eventually we turned this silhouette upside-down and reworked all of the different facets of it. We were also inspired by cubism so, in the collection, there is the idea of a double body–like one body superimposed on another. For example the shoulders have large proportions and are backwards, the skirts are divided in two and are skewed –so all of the body parts are somehow decontextualized. And we see the real body underneath or in the back, usually highlighted with bright colors. All of this creates disproportional, unhinged silhouettes. Plus, the wooden shoes for the collection create a strange walk”.
“The last thing that stimulated us — Well…the festival! And getting the chance to show our first collaboration. Since we were at different schools, we never had the chance to realize a project together and it is the energy of our duo that motivated us”.
“I try to make a spirit army with no nations and no faces. My collection is a lot about shame and pride and the feeling of guilt.
It’s also about how to use the past in the present and the future and learn from it. This is my graduation collection. At the university in Berlin we do one each semester but this is the biggest one and the first with so many pieces. Though it’s a men’s collection, I showed it on women as well in the past.”
“The last thing that stimulated me was the film HOLY MOUNTAIN. That’s one of my favorite films. But right now I am looking a lot at Easter bunnies because I saw DONNIE DARKO. I use a lot of film and music in my work and literature.
Holy Mountain was part of the inspiration for this collection but mostly the colonial history of my home country Denmark. Because when I moved to Germany I found out I didn’t know anything about it, so the research for the collection started in Iceland. I went for a residency to Reykjavik and collected pieces of each culture that was under Denmark. It’s more like a typology of cultural pieces that I tried to put together.”
“The collection that I am presenting is the collection that I presented for my graduation at Lacambre last year. It’s called CEMETERIES ARE FIELDS OF FLOWERS. I am using a lot elements from cemeteries that interest me like wood, tombstones, mausoleums, bouquets of flowers, the contrast between wrought iron structures and the landscape. These elements, reworked in the materials used for the collection, provided me with really organic shapes–somewhat like trees that climb stones in the cemetery for example. There is a lot of embroidery in the collection as well.
Here in Hyères the defilés are much more structured then at Lacambre. But actually, my show at Lacambre was one of the more simple, subdued shows, so the Hyères show fits really well for me. I like when it is rather simple.”
“The last thing that stimulated me last: I want to finish my collection for Hyères! I am developing new pieces reworking some of the existing pieces and I think it will add a lot to the collection and that it will be better.”
In a joint interview with Caroline Daily, we talk with Yelle collaborator and 2008 Hyères winner Jean-Paul Lespagnard about his first Paris Fashion Week presentation…
I Could Be Yours - Fall/Winter 2011/12 presentation, filmed by Antoine Asseraf & René Habermacher.
Antoine Asseraf: Did your presentation go well this week?
Jean-Paul Lespagnard: It went really well. The feedback is really good. It was very difficult to organize, obviously, but as I always say “we learn from our mistakes”. ha ha. In the beginning I wanted to do something simple and small and in the end, I found myself doing 7 shows in one day! My assistants tell me all the time that when I tell them something, I think that it is really simple, when in fact it isn’t. So when I tell them that we are going to do something difficult, but that we will succeed, they know that it is going to be a mountain of work! But really really happy with how everything went. The people from the press are really enthusiastic. The people that came by the showroom are very enthusiastic too. I had some buyers–one from a boutique in NY, one from a boutique in Hong Kong, among others.
Was it complicated to plan?
It was a personal choice to put myself in the “off” on presentations by appointment. And i think that I will continue to do that. Because, this idea of doing 6 shows in one day was difficult and I launched myself into a crazy adventure, but I really want to do it again. I think its great because people can come whenever they want to. There is something that I like about not having chairs, it was standing only. I think that the next time, what I could do is have little portable stools for people that want to sit down. I just really like the idea of something spontaneous like what we did. So something that I am going to work on and try to perfect for next time. This defilé was meant as a way for me to come back after the festival and to present my work to buyers. When the buyers came to my showroom, they said “its great, its fresh, we have never seen this before, but we are not sure where to place your work for the moment” This is good actually because now, they have 6 months to digest what they say and to think about ideas for where to place my collection and about where my stuff fits in with other designers. I really very very happy with my fashion week in Paris!
The future is back.
That’s the impression you get from Matt Pyke’s new show at Gaîté Lyrique, Paris’ brand new digital creation center. Mutating monsters, illuminated silences, evolving creatures, disintegrating dancers, glowing trees… Pyke and his friends from the studio Universal Everything use every corner of new-old parisian theater to make your head swirl. Literally.
ANTOINE ASSERAF: I noticed everything is looping, there is no beginning and no end. What as your intention with that?
MATT PYKE: One of the reasons for the looping is we’re really interested in the idea of infinity and how it creates video artworks which don’t really have a narrative story to them.
We’re creating almost a video sculpture, a state of mind or a trance-like situation: for example where dancers that are continually struggling up the wall to get to the sound or the giant walking monster in TRANSFIGURATION which is walking forever and nobody knows where he is going.
It’s that idea of foreverness and how you can use video to do that as an artwork that never stops: everything is almost like a machine that is going and going…
Matt Pyke & Friends : Super-Computer-Romantics
Sometimes you have some very un-digital elements like drawing.
I studied drawing and painting at art school and still find it very important to have a pencil as well as a computer. All of the artworks were based on drawings originally. The archive of the Gaîté Lyrique has a collection with all the working drawings from all the artpieces.
In the exhibition, the one called SEVENTY SIX SEEDS was entirely created through drawing but influenced by the more recent years where i’ve been working with people who use codes. The drawings are very much influenced by digital processes and the shapes that code make.
We’ve made an iPhone application that gave me kind of genetic instructions of what type of seed what type of plant to draw every morning- so it’s a way of using technology to control me, control my pencil.
Works in Progress: left Matt Pykes drawings for SEVENTY SIX SEEDS inspired after an iPhone application. Images Courtesy of Matt Pyke
Do you code and program yourself or are you trying to bring that kind of “old school” thinking into that?
I intentionally do not code and program myself. I tried to learn and found it did not suit me, so I focus on the conceptual side of things and the visual side of things in terms of art direction and creative direction and come up with the initial seed idea and then work with programmers who are genuinely experts or super talent in their field.
I think one important thing is, by me not understanding code, that my ideas are not restricted to what is possible.
Insightful, rigorous and critical but warm interlocutor,
Pantelis Chandris, the awarded artist by the Association of Art Critics Hellas, talks about his “Island”, the dead ends and the pleasures of life with the tastes for cooking, to fellow artist Efi Spyrou, in Athens.
Pantelis Chandris "180⁰", 2010. Pencil on paper. 15x20cm each
EFI SPYROU: Artist “based in Athens.” What does this means
PANTELIS CHANDRIS: “Based in Athens”, means nothing. You are considered out of the larger map, out of the game.
Those who live and work in Athens live and work in a purely regional locality. Artists who live and work in London, New York, Berlin have a more extended target audience and
these are cities where things happen.
What do you doagainst this reality?
While I am working on my art projects, I make my living as a professor in the Athens School of Fine Arts.
Are you teaching what you are working on?
No. It would be tragic to teach what I am working on. To work, means trying to find a way to
create something. Exploring a personal issue. Besides, the allurement of teaching has to do with the process of dealing with the impasses of others. (more…)
Last month, the Gaïté Lyrique digital creation center opened its doors in Paris, after many years of construction.
A companion shop also opened next to the gorgeous building : the AMUSEMENT creative shop.
We sat down with Abdel Bounane, who is in charge of the store but also the founder and editor-in-chief of AMUSEMENT magazine.
Antoine Asseraf : So where are we, there’s a store downstairs, but this is something else…
Abdel Bounane: This is the space where soon we will offer services and events linked to the store, and to the magazine.
The service part is probably the most interesting, because this is going to be the most original part.
For the store we try to have some original products, but for services, starting in May, you’ll be able to order a tailor-made video game.
You make an appointment, meet with one of our consultants, and give your craziest ideas regarding what you want from a video game, and we’ll be able to materialize it. It can take a few days, a few weeks, or sometimes a few months, it can cost a few hundred or a few thousand euros.
It’s a world first.
It answers the question “if you want to make a space linked to the digital world, how do you offer something original and human ?”
Something that doesn’t lag behind the virtual world.
Exactly. What is the use of being in the real world when you’re talking about the virtual ?
So for me, it is the meeting with people, the ability to explain face to face your ideas, a human and interactive touch, it’s fundamentally linked to a physical place. It wouldn’t be the same thing by Skype.
That’s one part of the services we will offer.
We will also offer a gallery side.
People have been trying to sell digital art for decades now, and they haven’t really been able to, except for installations which hard to sustain. But now tablets are here, and I feel that tablets are a good media for that art, like a canvas.
That makes me think of that bloom application for iPhone, by Brian Eno…
Well, Brian Eno’s been here !
What we’re developing is the sell of pieces on tablets, offline, and also an online store of limited edition digital content, with a certificate of authenticity on our servers.
How do you co-exist with the Gaïté Lyrique proper?
Well with the digital art we’re going to be working a lot with artists from the Gaïté, such as Matt Pyke/Universal Everything,
They do a lot of cool particle effects, very pop, very colorful, and they’re don’t want something that is all over the internet, just something that is visible physically at the Gaïté, because it’s a site-specific installation, and potentially sold digitally.
That’s where the logic of the Gaïté comes in, it’s not a museum, it’s a creation center.
So it’s perfect for us, we become the distributors of content that cannot be found elsewhere, and digital limited edition fits the Gaïté perfectly.
We’re not only the commercial arm of the Gaïté, we’re here to play with new ways of crossing art and digital, video games and one-to-one distribution, or take a mass media like video games and make it personalized, how do me make something pop more haute ?
How to legitimize a physical location, with launches, workshops, etc.
Nja Mahdaoui is one of the most celebrated living contemporary artists in the arab world. His bold and highly rhythmic work, derived from the arabic letter, is internationally renowned and can be found in ther permanent collections of the Institut du Monde Arabe, The British Museum and The Smithsonian Institution just to name a few.
It’s an exuberance of arabesque forms, a visual melody played out of his hand, that remind us of the great gestural and physical richness of action painting. Famous for his meticulous inks on parchment, this “liberated calligraphy” is worked across a variety of extremely different surfaces — from canvas, brass, wood, melamine and papyrus to skin. Though It seems like writing, it is not. It is rather an interlacing of a dialectic relationship, also found within Western abstraction.
Naomi Campbell in Azzedine Alaïa for Numéro Magazine. A collaboration between Nja Mahdaoui and René Habermacher
I came across the work of Nja Mahdaoui the first time, while researching calligraphic styles on a project for the French magazine Numéro on a piece about Azzedine Alaïa to which Babeth Djian incited me. The visual impact of Nja’s work struck me at first sight.
Slightly intimidated by the references of the rich body of his work, I first hesitated but then thought to give it a shot, and contacted him. To my surprise he answered me instantly by email, and called me shortly after. Our collaboration was set — and we created a story of imaginary movements around Naomi Campbell as a dark gazelle, in sheer and revealing Alaïa.
But I only met Nja Mahdaoui in person two summers ago in Tunis. It was an all-embracing, hot and sultry August day that lay heavy on the city, matching the emotional state of its people.
A couple of months after the “Jasmine revolution” took place, Nja arrives in full swing to our meeting at a café in sunny, springtime Paris.
He’d come with his daughter Molka Mahdaoui to work on another of his new projects, yet is consumed with excitement by the events. He reacts immediately and impulsively to the question I usually ask last on conversations for The Stimuleye: What is the last thing that stimulated you?
“Stimulated? You’re asking a Tunisian? (laughs). I don’t know if ‘stimulated’ is the word, but it’s the explosion of a generation, I’m completely into it — for us it’s the event of the century!”
With us at the table are the collaborators involved in the process of making his latest project, a sculpture, the main reason for his trip north. Nja loves collaborations – his eyes glow while he talks energetically about upcoming projects. An energy I felt the first time I saw his bold and highly rhythmic work: “a dance of calligraphy”, with Nja as the choreographer of imaginary letters, to which he refers as ‘graphemes’, devoid of actual textual meaning:
“To a non-Arabic speaker it appears as coherent text. In fact even Arabic speakers assume at first that it’s a text with meaning. But when they start reading it they realise it is not an actual word.” he says and recalls an experience:
“It is not easy to write letters in a disjointed way — that is disjointed to not mean anything — and focus only on the aesthetic. There was a study at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. They connected me to a machine in order to test the levels of stress my body was under when I was writing proper words and when I was writing words without meaning. The study showed that my body was 2.5 times more stressed when I was working on words without meaning. So it is a very conscious attempt to create art. I tell people I’m not a calligrapher, but an artist.”
To me his body of work is so vibrant and remarkably innovative that I first had assumed Nja to be in his early 30’s the most, yet he was born in La Marsa, Tunisia, in 1937. As Molka, a filmmaker herself, puts it during our conversation: “sometimes i have to remind myself: Molka, you are thinking older than your own father!”.
What is Pop ? What is Youth ? What’s up with the French Touch ? How do you change and remain true to yourself ?
Last part of our YELLE interview…
YELLE by René Habermacher, in Marios Schwab FW 2011/12. Styled by Inès Fendri. Make-up by Akiko Sakamoto.
ANTOINE ASSERAF: YELLE is just the 3 of you, but sometimes it’ just refers to Julie, especially because there is “elle” in YELLE… How do you manage this YELLE = 3 or YELLE = 1 ? I guess it’s a bit like THE RITA MITSOUKO — they needed to explain that the singer was not RITA MITSOUKO so they added THE — you don’t feel the need to become THE YELLE ?
JEFF: Actually on the album cover, (photo by Grégoire Alexandre, style Jean Paul Lespagnard) you have the 3 of us, but it wasn’t planned, it was just the best picture from the session. We thought “this photo is strong” and that’s it, not “oh it’d be good to show us as a band.” Naturally we also show ourselves as a trio because after all these years of touring, it becomes natural. But we’ve completely accepted the pop rule that the singer gets more exposure, she carries the group in a way, and it’s fine that way.
That way if the 2 of us don’t feel like doing an interview we don’t show up and let Julie do it alone (laughs).
An artist or a milliner, a sculptor or a fashion creative, Rein Vollenga is a true artist, teetering between both fields with optimistic and unconditional inspiration.
Ever since he first revealed his works to the public back in 2007, Dutch Vollenga’s career seems unstoppable, counting numerous collaborations with the likes of Lady Gaga, MUGLER, Johnny Woo, Marcel Fengler, Mc Kinki, Tiga…
His works have been triumphantly presented in the most prestigious publications like Italian Vogue, Interview Magazine, Dazed, i-D, Vman as well as was featured in notorious web links like ShowStudio, Style.com and The New York Times not to mention Museums like Neues.
Two days before the opening night featuring his participation at “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY” (a project headed by Lars Laumann presented at The Hague’s West Gallery) I had a chat with him for The Stimuleye. Lets dive in our conversation at the moment I was trying to explain the dramatic changes Greece is going through…
FILEP MOTWARY: So, yes back to drama….
REIN VOLLENGA: Drama is always a good source for making art.
FilepMotwary: How does drama reflect in your work then? The forms you create are not happy yet neither sad. But there is always some kind of expression in them that leads one to wonder what the situation behind those faces is about…
ReinVollenga: My work is never a reference to just one specific thought, but if I can somehow invoke emotion, make people think or stimulate and inspire somebody then I’m happy.
I don’t want to teach or force people to learn something, as Art is a really personal experience, a fantasy or illusion. Artists should treasure that and exclude their own vanity in spite of excluding the viewer. I feel I don’t need to change the world either, neither can I.
I can only interact or have a dialogue with the viewer through what I create. I would love to change the world but it doesn’t make sense, forcing people to believe in something they don’t understand.
In my sculptures I like to attract the viewer through the beauty reflected in them. By looking closely at the piece, it will reveal by itself, something that might not be so pleasant at the end. This is the kind of contrast I like!
FilepMotwary: I like your way of thinking. Yohji Yamamoto once stated, “‘an artist is somebody who creates things that you don’t need’.” How do you see art?
Rein Vollenga: Art to me is an experience, Illusion or fantasy. It’s something that triggers your mind and keep you fantasizing.
REIN VOLLENGA: Untitled, 2008, Mixed Media and Untitled, 2007, Mixed Media
Epic music, grandiose effects, Agyness Deyn and other supermodels in battlegear — Woodkid’s IRON music video seems at once surprising and classic in the way it mixes imagery and music. That’s probably because Woodkid is none other than Yoann Lemoine, a twentysomething, multi-awarded illustrator-turned-director.
He’s already worked with the likes of Richie Havens, Yelle, Katy Perry, Moby and Taylor Swift, done short films for kids, and been rewarded for a film about a dick graffiti… And now he’s releasing his first EP, IRON.
IRON EP cover, illustration by Stephan Balleux.
ANTOINE ASSERAF: The music video for IRON – is it strange to make a music video for yourself ?
YOANN LEMOINE aka WOODKID: Not that strange, because as soon as I started the WOODKID project, I knew I wanted to make images, so it made sense with the video, and it was the first time I could make a movie and control all the parameters, with a budget and without at the same time being told what I could and couldn’t do. Being both the client and the director was a crazy opportunity, so I’m super happy with the result.
To direct and to make music is a bit similar, emotionally you are touching the same sensible points, it’s just a different medium of expression.
You have a material theme going on – you are the WOOD kid, the single is IRON, the tentative album name wood and CRYSTAL…
The project is always evolving, but I really like attention to textures, I made a film once on the texture of rocks, in IRON there is a lot of marble, black smoke. I love looking at textures and the emotions they create. The color, the complexity, what they evoke, mystical and dark things.
So did the song or the visual come first ?
I’ve had an image in my head for this project for a long time, I wanted to make a statement about heroic fantasy, not in a kitschy, elf and trolls way, but to explore what Tolkien, Final Fantasy, and Matthew Barney did. How you create a world with social codes, in a documentary sort of way, with specific imagery, dogmas, political parties, currency, dresscodes, ethnic groups, races, geography… How you recreate these codes in a parallel world. And how to do this in a way that is less cheesy than we are used to seeing in heroic fantasy, more intellectual…
IRON music video, directed and sung by Yoann Lemoine.
You once said on Facebook (laughs) that you were afraid that one day you would have to make a choice between music and directing, do you still believe in that ?
If I have to choose, it will be a matter of scheduling.
So a temporary choice ?
Temporary but… you never know how things evolve.
I come from illustration, and a series of circumstances led me to move to directing without ever deciding “I’m quitting illustration”, but I never came back to it… I just never had the occasion to do it again, a road built itself in another direction.
How did you make the transition between illustration and film direction ?
First it was animation films for kids, because I come from 3D, then I felt the need to make live films, with actor direction, a quality of photography, so I bought myself a camera and started making my own films. Then it turned into commissions, and I transmitted into real shooting my desire to compose images and artistically direct scenes….
At first jobs were appealing to your 3D and special fx know-how, but now on the Taylor Swift video you had no post-production special effects…
It’s all experimenting. What I’m trying to do in my career and in my artistic development is to reconcile a beautiful image, detailed and in good taste, with fashion references, in the air of the times, that people want to see, with a type of narration usually seen in Hollywood films. Postproduction effects, a bit WOW, symbolic narratives with visual trips… It’s part of my identity.
But I’m no Gondry either.
Yoann Lemoine in Erotokritos FW 2011. Photo by René Habermacher.
Our discussion with Julie, Jean-François and Tanguy, moves to touring — an essential element to the success of YELLE — and the need for a record label in 2011…
Yelle in Marios Schwab FW 2011. By René Habermacher, styling Ines Fendri, make-up by Akiko Sakamoto.
When you play live, do you try to add other things visually, like with the Katy Perry tour for which you’re opening ?
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: Well as opening act we have actually less means on the Katy Perry tour!
JULIE: Normally we’re 6 on tour, with the sounds, the lights, the stage, but on Katy Perry we’re just 4.
Also we don’t give our whole show away, it’s more of a teaser — anyway we know Katy Perry is following up with 4 trucks so there’s no use trying!
JEAN-FRANÇOIS:: We want to make our show stronger, so we have these suspended drums which are very visual, the logo, which is new – an inverted Peace sign. We like bringing in new elements, whether they cost 20 euros or 2000, but we’re not in a fantasy of something crazy. However from the beginning we’ve wanted to make one-off shows, like with a choir, big ensembles…
You were also mentioning new lights for your tour ?
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: We found this guy for lights, we were looking for a long time for someone who would bring something to our live performances,
someone who’s creative on his own but open to our ideas…
TANGUY: We need that extra, because we’re coming a second time around but without huge means, we want to make a show with songs we’re proud of — lighting is really the little ‘plus’ that we can bring.
So would you want to make a “live” music video to show people who don’t know how you perform ?
TANGUY: We thought about it at the end of the last tour, with all that footage [shot by “Ce Jeu” director Yoann Lemoine],
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: We just haven’t been able to edit it yet… we could have done as a single, but not for the first single of the album — but we’ll do it eventually.
"Ce Jeu" music video by Yoann Lemoine. Photo by Antoine Asseraf.
I still have a hard drive somewhere saying YELLE with all your tour footage, I was asked to help edit it “when I had time”, I was really into it but documentary editing takes so. much. time.
JULIE: And you can’t do just one hour per day, you need to really get into it…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: Even us, we don’t even feel like going back in there right away, you kind of need to put those images aside and let them rest, but we would like them to show them at some point.
It looked like an amazing experience.
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: There were some beautiful images…
Trailer for the 2008 Yelle world tour, by Yoann Lemoine.
What’s your idea of the role of the record label, since you started without one and were without one for this album, you also released things without a label in between albums…
JULIE: We learned a lot from the time we had at Source, good things, bad things, some things we didn’t want to do the same way again, it was evident for us that we had to make our own structure, to get even more freedom.
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: To sum things up, on the first album we had ideas but not the means, now we have both!
For the first album you worked with Pierre LeNy, acting as an artistic director of sorts…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: Yes Pierre brought a lot of ideas, a lot of contacts, a network, in fashion, which made it a lot of easier, now we’re the art directors, it’s the next level.
Second music video for "Je Veux Te Voir".
How was that experience of remaking the video for JE VEUX TE VOIR – doesn’t it feel strange ?
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: That was a flashback [a lot of time had passed since the original release of JE VEUX TE VOIR]. First of all we hate the first music video for JE VEUX TE VOIR, we hated it as soon as we made it.
But you’re not always in a position to say no to a label who’s invested, we still hate the fact that it has so many million views!!
The new video was made with Nicolas Benamou following the experience with Michael Youn, it’s the work of a label, who feels there’s a second life to give to a single,
it was so strange for YELLE, when they first brought the single to radios, they didn’t know what to make of it, but once they had gotten used to it it was ok… it’s really the work of the record label.
So are you at ease with that freedom ? Talking to Roísín Murphy who has done many things herself over the years in terms of styling and ideas for music videos, she was still happy to have worked with an art director on OVERPOWERED, to sharpen the image.
JEFF: We’ve never felt forced, we’ve never had the record label pressuring us, at first we were a bit naive, everyone’s nice, we were just happy to do things, and except for that first video we enjoyed everything we did.
We’ve always been masters of our image, but of course somethings get out of hand, get bigger than you expect them, doing things by ourselves is exciting, it makes us feel more responsible. the DIY style is very stimulating, you want to defend your project even more because all the choices are yours.
Of course it becomes 100% of your life! So when you say “I’m going to relax, i’m going to the beach” you’re not really relaxing because you’re thinking about what you could do. But that’s the case with everyone who’s a freelance or has their own company, it’s an obsession!
Work becomes a luxury.
It’s not work, it’s not labor, it’s energy!
The hidden beat behind a fashion collection is often set by textile design. Less in the lime light than fashion designers, textile designers are the often forgotten storytellers. Artists behind the cut.
I recently sat down with one such artist, Fabien Blachier, who has developed a culture of textile prints in Shanghai Tang, a fashion house formerly known for a single style of qi pao.
Fabien Blachier by Thuy Tien Crampton.
Laying foundations for a collection, textile designers aim to build a platform that will inspire fellow designers of clothes, furniture to accessories.
Few fashion houses have invested in in-house textile designers. Those that have – Kenzo, Etro, Marni, Dries Van Noten and Shanghai Tang – use textile prints as part of their DNA.
At Shanghai Tang, Fabien uses textiles to put classic Chinese shapes in a new light.
“As a Chinese luxury brand targeting a global audience, we constantly seek to balance modernity and tradition, East and West,” Fabien said. “Above all, we don’t want to create cliché-style Chinese costumes.”
Inspired by the film “In The Mood For Love,” Fabien recently created a collection that was very graphic and bi-color. Not very Chinese.
“In 1960s Hong Kong, the Chinese imported Western fabric for their qi pao,” Fabien said. “I wanted to give a flavor for the era.”
Shanghai Tang textile print: SS 2010/2011. Inspired by "In The Mood For Love".
Sadly, even the most beautiful prints can get lost in the hands of a bad fashion designer. Designers are more at ease employing color, Fabien said, but few appreciate or understand how to work with textile prints.
“I have experienced disappointment quite a few times through misuse of beautiful fabric,” Fabien said. “Fashion designers need to know how to break a print, mistreat it, place it, give it shape.”
“Ideally, textile and fashion designers should work together to balance pattern and form,” Fabien said.
“Dries Van Noten, Marni, Etro, Hermes are among the few fashion houses where patterns are revered and mastered. They know how to contrast small and larger patterns, embrace opulence, use colors, and build up texture,” Fabien added.
For this year’s Spring-Summer collection, Fabien focused on the Miao hilltribe for inspiration. An ethnic group scattered along China’s mountainous border with Southeast Asia, the Miao (also known as the Meo or Hmong) wear indigo outfits with intricately sewn embroidery.
“The Miao theme has never been developed by designers, but they are rich with creativity and art, ranging from jewelry to original patterns,” Fabien said.
Throughout the collection Fabien used butterflies, a Miao symbol of beauty. An additional benefit is that Miao outfits are often square-shaped, which highlights print patterns.
Shanghai Tang textile print: SS 2011/2012. Inspired by Miao hilltribe.
Shanghai Tang textile print: AW 2010/2011. Inspired by jade jewelry.
Prior to Asia, Fabien was a textile designer at Kenzo, a fashion house known for its reverence and mastery of textile prints and colors.
Attracted to the East, Fabien moved to Hong Kong five years ago, working at Shanghai Tang. There, he has nurtured a real print culture.
YELLE — Julie, Jean-François and Tanguy — burst onto the music scene in 2006 with their UFO bubble-gum-techno-rap “Je Veux Te Voir”. Since then they’ve collaborated with the likes of Katy Perry, Crookers and Robyn, and seduced audiences all over the world. They’re basically the first French-singing band to achieve international success since the Rita Mitsoukos. Now they return with their second album, SAFARI DISCO CLUB.
For this 3 part interview, René Habermacher shot Julie exclusively for THE STIMULEYE wearing the new MARIOS SCHWAB Fall/Winter 2011 collection. Styled by Ines Fendri, Make-Up by Akiko Sakamoto.
Yelle in Marios Schwab FW 2011. By René Habermacher, styling Ines Fendri, make-up by Akiko Sakamoto.
ANTOINE ASSERAF: Let’s talk about your new album first, SAFARI DISCO CLUB, there’s an immediate visual concept from the name to the album and on to the double music video…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS aka “GrandMarnier”: Actually it’s something that was not there to start with but added at the end. We found the name SAFARI DISCO CLUB very late into the process, at the last minute almost. We thought we should keep things simple, find 2 tracks from the album to start with.
The most inspiring track in terms of visual adaptation was SAFARI DISCO CLUB. This double-theme made us naturally think of Jean-Paul Lespagnard [whose styles had inspired the CE JEU video] and his penchant for double-themes, for juxtapositions. So we discussed it with him, with some references such as the final scene of Luc Besson’s SUBWAY, in explorer mode.
The only thing I remember about this film is Isabelle Adjani’s punk “fuck you” dinner scene…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: It turns out that Julie’s hair in the video is not far from Isabelle Adjani’s, but that’s pure coincidence…
But the explorer look, that was something stuck in my head — it’s a bit why I started to get into music: I was such a big fan of Jean Reno playing the drums in the subway as a kid, it left an impression on me. So this final scene where they play music dressed like explorers was the starting points for Jean-Paul to work from…
So, do you feel that this SAFARI DISCO name applies to the album as a whole ?
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: It definitely gives a tinge — from the moment we had the title, we listened to the tracks differently, you hear the percussions more. The word “safari” also brings the meaning of “discovery,” which works because we had applied ourselves to making all the songs very distinct. We feel very much part of the compilation generation!
It all works out in the end, but once again it wasn’t thought out that way, we made the songs really one by one.
Safari Disco Club album cover by Grégoire Alexandre. Styling by Jean-Paul Lespagnard.
There are some African vibes in the title track and on LA MUSIQUE…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: There is a percussion side, coming from the live… Julie has a Tom Bass, we have these suspended drums, we really base ourselves on the percussions for the live show, constructed a bit like a DJ set, with transitions — that really rubbed off on the way we composed for this album.
TANGUY “TEPR”: We didn’t want to copy anything, it’s just a slight tinge, nothing too ‘in your face’…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: On SDC itself, the most obvious thing in terms of inspiration is the guitar gimmick which is almost Zouk.
Both LA MUSIQUE and SAFARI DISCO CLUB are very instrumental tracks, very percussion-driven, you’re in a sonic trip with words just guiding you on your way…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: It’s less constructed.
JULIE: Less of a traditional song format.
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: The voice is used more like an instrument, on POP-UP it was more spoken.
TANGUY: Julie’s way of singing changed, not in a calculated way but gradually while writing — it was very spoken and broken on POP UP, on SAFARI DISCO you find this style only on one track really: COMME UN ENFANT. We wanted to try new things.
THE WANDERING KOUROS
In the last part of our conversation Dimitris Papaioannou speaks about his current project INSIDE that premieres in April at the Pallas Thatre in Athens
RENE HABERMACHER: Let’s speak a little about your new play: INSIDE.
DIMITRIS PAPAIOANNOU: INSIDE is a work born where two situations come together. The first is a show that runs endlessly without beginning, middle or end. The second is a situation in which audiences are allowed to visit at any time they like, sit wherever like, and are free to leave and return as many times as they like. The theatre doors open at 17:30 and close at 23:30. The stage action begins before you come in, and continues after you leave. Nobody sees a beginning, or an end. The play recycles itself, but never repeats itself.
We are playing with the concept of empty time. INSIDE focuses on personal time, that series of moments we experience when we return home. In a way it monumentalises these moments: the very fact of eating, or the very fact of showering, or the very fact of undressing to go to sleep. And without any assistance from civilisation — without a book, a magazine, radio or television.
What you see is a composition, a series of everyday private movements and actions that are exactly the same, repeated multiple times by 30 performers in various overlapping and recycled versions. These phrases come together, then one remains, then another five come into play. It’s about density and overlapping forms. An ongoing open composition that encourages audiences to create their own compositions, depending on how many times, how long and from which angle they choose to see the play.
This is an idea that intrigues me, that people in the centre of the city will visit a theatre to watch others doing things that they do themselves, and the people they watch are themselves watching the city through the window. This is something I feel is charming.
It is these two elements — that of the city documentary exploring a place common to all, and the freedom given to audiences as to how they can view the work — that come together in my view to create this project. The subject of it is one level, the form of it is another, and both are conceived at the same time. This is what interests me, and this is why I am doing it.
So this is what INSIDE is.
I don’t know what people are going to do and how audiences will make use of this game that I am proposing. It’s something of an experiment, we’ll see how it’ll work.
Scene from INSIDE by Dimitris Papaioannou. Photo by René Habermacher
It reminds me of the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge for example, or the performances of Marina Abramović.
Abramović has these elements of patience, and of exhausting the human body. She has done one performance [“The House with the Ocean View”, 2002] where she actually lived in a gallery, in public view, which resembles what I am doing. But my work is not performance art, it requires rehearsal and it will repeat itself everyday; it’s not like an algorithm that evolves organically in front of our eyes. That’s why we are doing it in a theatre and not in a museum or gallery, because it is a kind of a twisted version of a performance, but not performance art. It is something that is rehearsed, that has an acting tone, and is not personal like most performance art, which is about a specific person doing something in that moment. Of course, this experiment of mine would not have been possible if performance art had never existed.
INSIDE reminds you of Muybridge because it gives you the chance to see and imprint in your head the successive stages of a movement, just like Muybridge did in his photographs. They also share the element of observing people: how people move, how they walk.
It’s like filming a documentary in the savannah: you film for hours following a lion and then you have 15 minutes where the lion sits doing nothing. We are taking these 15 minutes of footage of the lion making slight movements and superimposing it many times, through shifts in the timing, to create an entire play out of it. It is still the lion. It’s still about observing the lion. The lion does nothing new. But hopefully we will be magnetised by these successive of layers of the same action taking place, and start meditating upon our own lives.
That was a good example! We are becoming very abstract and intellectual now.
I can’t help it!
I understand that this idea for INSIDE has been in your head for quite a while now.
It was the first thing that came into my head after 2004, the first thing I wanted to do and found worth doing. Back then I had the idea of this room, and of creating a composition from a single simple series of movements by multiplying and superimposing it. Within the framework of a two-hour show, this seemed ridiculous — this limitation would have strangled the idea, forcing the whole thing to have a conclusion, a climax, a very specific story to tell. It would also seem like a joke to audiences, setting them up for something with a beginning, middle and end and then presenting them this thing repeating itself and multiplying, waxing and waning before their eyes, without giving them the chance to leave whenever they want. So I didn’t do it.
Last year, I made the leap in relation to the way the theatre itself could function: I could create a very long show and give people the freedom to come and go as they please. I had to deal with the logistics of the thing, but then suddenly a form was created in which this content could take place. Because once you liberate the audience from having to see it all, then you also liberate the show itself to develop in ways that do not necessarily lead to a defined conclusion. So that is why it is happening now, because it took me some time to conceive the framework within which this could function.
Official trailer for INSIDE.
There are some recurrent elements that I always see on your mood boards, in your work, in your references, and last week I saw a key element once again: the kouros.
That one always returns, either standing or fallen.
I deeply apologise, I cannot help it! Some things come back again and again, you know, until everybody will just be exhausted by it and nobody will ever visit anything I do ever again!
Would you say you have an obsession with what the kouros represents: beauty, nobility, youth?
It’s not about youth. It just happens that I work with people who are quite young. I’ve never flinched from the idea of worshipping the structure of a human body: I like the body. I like looking at human bodies. There is something about beauty that charms me and puzzles me and magnetises me.
I have a certain understanding of the human presence, of the human body situated in space and against the vastness of the sky of existence. I usually have people looking at landscapes. I think in every play I’ve done, I’ve had someone looking at something. This is something that maybe comes from me: I tend to breathe things in by looking at them.
When the kouros came to ancient Greece from ancient Egypt, it took one giant step forward: extracted from his background, the axis of his body shifted over his two feet. So for the first time in history, there was a life-size sculpted human figure that could be seen from all sides. And this coincides in ancient Greek history with the dawn of poetry, of lyrical poetry, where people started to talk about how they feel. For me, the kouros is more than a celebration of youth and beauty. I think its more the celebration of wandering. A figure standing on earth, wondering about its own position in space. Wandering in space: where do we stand, where are we? You know, it’s a common puzzle for us humans, and it attracts me. My work reflects that I guess.
Is that enough, dear? Do you want more?! [laughs]
Cypriot Artist Efi Spyrou “swings” to our attention with the latest issue of Pop magazine SS 2011.
Efi Spyrou’s artistic reflection is interdisciplinary, her art on the conjunction of corporality and art theory. Often her approach, as manifested through her pieces and installations, seems cold and industrial. Yet it is charged with personal memories associating emotional moments. Remarkably enough, Efi operates with inhibiting elements of isolation, institutionalisation and discipline to achieve her purpose: ignite an emotional spark.
Efi Spyrou: Swing (1), 2010 marble, latex; 285 x 30 x 15cm. Photo by René Habermacher for PoP magazine SS 2011. Model: Ymre Stimkema.
This Issue of Pop magazine features a group of 5 contemporary artists: Gillian Wearing, Meredith Sparks, Linda Sterling, Clunie Reid and Efi Spyrou, Juxtaposing pieces of her SWING series with fashion by Antonio Marras, her work for this collaboration oscillates around the idea of “lost innocence”.
At this Chapter of her Life, Efi Spyrou contemplates inwards, both on personal and collective memory – after being in the spotlight as a fashion model, presenter and public figure that stood for the right cause:
She was involved in Campaigns of public interest as against eating disorders, “Fashion Targets Breast Cancer” and the UNHCR-the UN refugee Agencies ‘Against Women Trafficking’ and was subsequently awarded with the Cyprus “Leader of the Year in Advertisement”.
THE STIMULEYE finds Efi Spyrou in Athens, her hometown of choice for a conversation on her most recent projects,
including her first solo exhibition at Six D.O.G.S in Athens. The exhibition will run from May 6 2011.
Efi Spyrou: Untitled, 2010, latex, iron, plexiglas, wood; 85 x 65 x 120
EFI SPYROU: Hi Rene! Here I am!
RENE HABERMACHER: hey hey- just saw you! welcome!!!!!
I think now it’s a good time for our conversation! Shall we?
In your work we find often references to childhood, as in your most recent SWING series, but as well for example in “Untitled” 2010 (incubator). What is the relation to yourself?
Each detail, each piece reflected on my work is connected to my memories, my experiences especially in my early ages. Sometimes I feel I was literally thrown from childhood to adulthood in an instant moment… There is an inner need to go back again and start from scratch, with a different pace.
How did you grow up?
In a very disciplined way…
I grew up in a very small, conservative, strict, disciplined community where freedom of speech was not something really known… After my 18th birthday, when I decided to leave my homeland Cyprus, I was catapulted into the wild world of which I knew nothing about! And first of all, I knew nothing about rapacity…
I was 18 years but I had the feeling to be in fact much, much younger and very scared.
Following your journey had taken you quite somewhere else- in terms of location and orientation. You returned only much later to your point of departure, with your art and the themes your current work embraces.
After 17 years I am in the position to say that this journey was difficult but full of colours, aromas and sounds, the voices of different cultures, people, moments. You see, I have entered the fashion world as a model and subsequently public figure, which gave me the chance to travel a lot all over the world. Although I had great moments, and I do feel lucky about it – I had to test my limits, my values and myself in many ways: In this race the cost was not insignificant. That is why there was a turning point, of explosion, – I had to slow down – and turn the time back, back to my roots and see which were the remains! This is where art gave me the tools to deal with all this material I had in my hands…
Efi Spyrou: Swing (2), 2010, silicone, latex; 75 x 30 x 15cm. Photo by René Habermacher for PoP magazine SS 2011. Model: Ymre Stimkema.
When we met last time in London to do our project for POP, we were focusing on your most recent work, the SWING. In fact it was a juxtaposition of your art with the fashion by Antonio Marras, under the helm of Isabelle Kountoure. It seemed like another circle had closed: with this new pieces that reflect on lost innocence and the interweaving with fashion that had marked another phase of your life.
This was a liberating experience for me. Every time I find the medium to make a conclusion of my contradicting “memory voices”… is an exciting moment. With the series of my works SWING, I had the chance to cooperate with a great team, working on the upside of fashion. And in parallel I had the chance to give light to a darker “space” as you say, “our lost innocence”. This is the only way for me to survive- to accept my bipolarity…
You started with the first piece of your “swing”series in marble. For this project you took cooperations with other people in account – thus creating more facets around the actual object…
The first piece was more an inner conversation. The development of the piece[s] through this cooperation was a conversation with others! This is really important for me, because I do believe that our personal “spaces” from a different perspective are collective “spaces”. The former is the reflection of the latter and vice versa!
In art, the material plays a significant role in the interpretation of the piece.
During our collaborative working process i’ve developed other variants of the original swing: wax, silicone, plaster and mirror. Doing so, I leave an open interpretation of my recent Swings”. What matters to me, is not to give a solution to a problem, but to actually “spark off” something…
Swing (3), 2010 by Efi Spyrou: paraffin wax, latex; 335 x 30 x 15cm. Photo by René Habermacher for PoP magazine SS 2011.
As you operate not only plenty with personal memories, but integrate the collective as well – in this context, how important is Athens, or Greece as a background for your work?
For my own work I incorporate a universal, collective memory in my pieces – at least this is what I am trying to do. Sometimes it could be characterised more “western”… but not surely Greek or Cypriot. I can assure you though that my life in Athens and especially the “new” way I look at the city and its everyday life here, gives birth to a lot of new ideas + questions + art pieces!
Spring, especially these days, is so refreshing! I cannot think of economic crisis – I keep my worries silent for the moment.
As far as concerning the emerging art scene over here: I think there is a lot to be done, in order to consider Athens as part of the greater art map. But I see a young art generation which is very promising…
What are you working on right now and next?
I am preparing a solo exhibition in May. The show will be running from May 6th at the Six D.O.G.S exhibition space in Athens. Included on display are among new works some ready pieces that are already known.
For the moment I am studying the relationship of memory with the game of lights and shades in space. I am working on sketches right now, may be for an installation, we will see…
I would love to have the chance for more collective dialogues in the future.
Efi Spyrou: Swing (2), 2010, silicone, latex; 75 x 30 x 15cm. Photo by René Habermacher for PoP magazine SS 2011.
Thank you so much for this insightful talk!
Shall I say sweet dreams?
Efi Spirou’s solo exhibition at Six D.O.G.S, 6-8 Avramiotou Street, 10551, Athens, Greece
The exhibition will run from May 6 2011.
a collaboration EFI SPYROU | ANTONIO MARRAS pop Magazine SS 2011
Hair Panos Papandrianos at CLM using Bumble and bumble
Make-up Yannis Siskos at Effex using Giorgio Armani Cosmetics
Model Ymre Stiekema at Viva London
Casting Angus Munro at AM Casting, Streeters NY
Set Design Emily Pugh
Photography Assistance & Digital Technician Laurent Dubin
Fashion Assistance Tui Lin
Hair Assistance Angel Sayers
Digital Remastering Dimitri Rigas at Dimitri.jp
Shot at The Russian Club Studios
Lori Pauli is the Associate Curator of Photographs at the National Gallery of Canada, home to more than 25,000 photographs in a collection that started in 1967.
She has recently put together the exhibition 19th-Century British Photographs; the third in a series of five exhibitions of selected masterpieces of the collection of the National Gallery. This exhibition traces the development of photography in Britain over the course of the Victorian era; from early, salted paper prints, to daguerreotypes, to magnificent turn-of-the-century platinum prints.
I met Lori at a guided tour of the exhibition. Ann Thomas, also a curator at the National Gallery, whom I had met in one of the events I organized introduced me to her and we briefly talked about meeting up to chat about Mexican artists included in the collection amongst other things.
Not too long after we met and talked about astrophotography, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Ron Mueck, her twin sister and some of the cultural differences I have noticed while in Canada.
For my first contribution to The Stimuleye, I will be sharing some of the questions I had for her on the exhibition.
Miguel Batel: How did the idea for this exhibition came together?
Lori Pauli: Basically, with our drawings collection we started a series of exhibitions based on our holdings, so we decided for photographs we would do the same thing. The first one was modern photographs from the collection, then we did 19th-Century French, and after this it will be American Photography from 1900 to 1950.
The fifth probably will be either American 1950 to the present, or possibly our holdings of Canadian photography.
Will this exhibition be travelling?
It will, I’m not sure exactly where it’s travelling, we have had interest from across the country, and we are just deciding where its going to end up.
How many photographs did you have to go through, and how many are currently exhibited?
There are about 112 photographs in the show, and I think I went through 2,000 in terms of 19th-Century photographs from the collection, so there was quite a bit to choose from, which was great.
The exhibition features some of the earliest photographic techniques. Which are some of the photographs you would consider to be the most important?
Well, of course some of the earliest would be the daguerreotypes, and we have a really great daguerreotype, that is quite large format; I don’t know if you remember it, but its of a man called John Berret Nelson and its around 8” by 10”, its fairly large compared to what normal daguerreotype sizes are. It’s called a mammoth plate, its beautifully created – masterfully crafted- and it comes with its original frame as well, so that is a real gem in the collection.
In terms of British we have a lot of salted paper prints by William Henry Fox Talbot, so those are other also really important pieces, because that’s the inventor of paper photography, it’s really great to have those.
Are there any borrowed items?
No, it is all from the collection.
You acquired some photographs for this exhibition, any specially difficult one to get?
One of them was the piece of armour, we think its by a woman called Jane Clifford. She was married to Charles Clifford, who was the most important photographer working in Spain. He made a lot of use of Queen Isabelle II construction projects and he did use of her armoury and her treasures. We recently acquired that.
Ari Marcopoulos does lie, or does he really? His photographs carry a signature that one may call honest and this what intrigues the most.
Andy Warhol by Ari Marcopoulos©
Through the years of his career, as a serpent does, Ari changed his skin several times, revealing a new and shinier one. What he creates is not about glitter but on the other hand, it may be. Keeping in mind the collaborations his shared and the encounters he found along the way, including Andy Warhol, Basquiat… indeed there are several shiny stones marking his footsteps. Since the early 80’s, Marcopoulos has been photographing the reality of the American culture and all its siblings. Mainstream or not, his pictures and films are out there marking the period we are in. And although his work has often been a subject of surveys by several universities around the world, Ari doesn’t feel a nomad.
This is what he told me while preparing his three new major projects: the camera bag he designed for INCASE along with a limited edition book of unpublished photograph (Now is Forever), a show at the Confort Moderne and finally a movie featuring the Y.S.L collection for SS 2011….
Ari Marcopoulos selfportrait © for DAPPER DAN ISSUE O2
FilepMotwary : Ari, where does this interview find you, work wise and personally? What are you up to?
Physically it finds me with a very bad cold in my bed at home in California. Work wise is always varied, I am in-between assignments. But I am working on new books and sorting out an installation at the Kunsthalle in Vienna. Preparing for exhibitions in early 2011 in Paris and San Francisco. Personally is a hard thing to talk about. Life seems to constantly provide challenges
SPATIAL AND HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS
Continuing the conversation with Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou, this second part concentrates on his post olympic work as MEDEA2 and the influences of butoh and his native Athens in his work.
RENÉ HABERMACHER: Over the years your journey has brought your work to ever-larger audiences. Recently, with your play MEDEA2, you revisited the past. How was that experience?
DIMITRIS PAPAIOANNOU: It challenged me for a number of reasons. If you follow my journey, I was violently exposed to the general public with the success of the Opening Ceremony of the Athens Olympic Games. In order to recover from the experience, I had to take a two-year break.
The first thing I chose to do after this pause was a show called 2. 2 was actually an attempt to pick up where I had left off before the ceremony, to return to my roots and re-evaluate my work. I constructed a very personal show on a large scale because I was offered the opportunity to do so, and I tried to restart my interrupted line of development in an unusual way.
After this experience many question marks arose, and I realised that I was still exposed to a much larger public than I was used to. I had the feeling that there was a new kind of communication being created that was both charming and dangerous. I needed more time before taking my next step.
Many people were suddenly exposed to my work through the Olympics, but of those who had a real interest, many were too young to have experienced MEDEA. So I returned to MEDEA, attracted by the idea of presenting it again with an all new cast, and approaching it with a new idea: to take the passion out. I wanted to reconstruct it, refine it, clear it out, strip it of anything unnecessary, drain the blood from the performance and deliver it in the cleanest form I could manage. That was my intention with MEDEA2.
Having done that, I could continue with new work, first NOWHERE and now INSIDE. This is a completely new phase, where I am tending to create shows with no protagonists and no characters. The crowd is the element I’m focusing on now, using it in a more open structure in order to create images involving spatial and human relationships.
Excerpts of MEDEA 2 accompanied by interview with Dimitris Papaioannou.
MATTHIAS VRIENS McGRATH EXPLAINS TO FILEP MOTWARY EVERYTHING ABOUT BL33N, HIS NEW PROJECT ALONG WITH HIS HUSBAND DONOVAN-
Its been almost a decade since Dutch magazine closed down and almost six years since my last official conversation with Matthias Vriens. In between and later, many emails regarding our personal news, ideas and hopes took place.
Matthias recently married to Donovan and since then, they both sign as Vriens-McGrath. For a while now I was informed about a new project they have been preparing, BL33N, but finally the mystery is solved, since our last night’s conversation..
BL33N (pronounced BLEEN) is a project by Donovan and Matthias which will oficially launch in May 2011. Since yesterday a rather tantalizingly sexy trailer hit the web in order to prepare us for what’s coming. Bl33n will be an online magazine experience, where all material shot by Donovan and Matthias as a team will support the t-shirts that they sell.
The first collection is inspired by the body. Its design placed inside the shirt, when turned upside down will become a mask when worn over the face while others will include hair prints on shoulders and back that look like heavy metal or jewelry printed in mirror silver and latex. Printing technics will include latex, glitter. Their aim is to open up to a world wide collaboration of people connecting globally and will include a lot of world travel with the brand, while promoting freedom for all.
“Filep, free, freedom is something we take for granted and not available to all of us. Such an abstract, intellectual property, yet essential for all. We would like to promote freedom for all and with bl33n we intend to do just that. Part of our profit will go to promote freedom.”
FILEP MOTWARY: So Matthias,how did you come up with the idea of BL33N?
MATTHIAS VRIENS-MCGRATH: By accident via google, we found bleen, then bought intellectual property of bl33n.
You were one of the founders of published bible DUTCH MAGAZINE back in the late 90’s and early 00’s. How do you see yourself creating a web-platform?
We are just doing it… and take it from there. As we both have never been one to over-think or over intellectualize matters.
Whats the web’s real power today regarding fashion?
I believe pretty strong, information is scattered around in seconds, no where to hide. As horrid as it can be, once embraced it’s pretty cool and exciting.
Your new project along with your huspand surrounds a variety of actions including orthologic actions like promoting ideas like “freedom for all”. What do you really mean with this?
Our believes are visual delights and as simple as that might seem, the human body in all of it’s glory remains a struggle. Nudity as a metaphor for freedom and its something we all have, yet not available to all of us. Seems simple no…?
I would like to know more about the t-shirt collection you are preparing?
The first collection relates -again- to the body. Monster faces, printed upside down, inside out, become masks when pulled over your head. hair prints draped over back and shoulders printed in latex become ornamental, sculptural jewelry. There will be several collages-shirts that connect to the contemporary art world, while others are printed with the BL33N logo placed on parts of the body that become ‘questionable’
Are you thinking or extent it to a complete collection in the coming future?
Yes, both Donovan and feel strongly about underwear for example, but all in time…
Dimitris Papaioannou’s work as a choreographer has significantly reshaped the Greek performing arts landscape.
With his directing of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Ceremony, a ground-breaking success, he played his way straight in the heart of the spectators, hailed a “triumph” by TIME MAGAZINE and THE TIMES of LONDON.
In 2005 Dimitris Papaioannou was awarded the Golden Cross of the Order of Honour by the President of the Hellenic Republic for outstanding artistic achievement. For his following shows “2″ and MEDEA2 enjoyed an unprecedented run in the Greek capital, each with over 100 000 tickets sold. This accelerated development came not without controversy. With his latest play INSIDE Dimitris returns to his experimental roots.
THE STIMULEYE met with him during a break of rehearsals in Athens, to speak about his new play and look back to his point of departure.
Following the first part of three on the conversation with Dimitris Papaioannou, accompanied with exclusive pictures by René Habermacher.
DIMITRIS PAPAIOANNOU: I’ll be right with you — I’m just making a coffee!
RENÉ HABERMACHER: You’re freshly shaven! You look very 19th-century with your moustache.
I am from the 19th century honey, I’m very old!
It’s been a while since we had time for a talk, since I left Athens and you last visited Paris. We met only briefly during the rehearsals for your new play INSIDE, which you’re currently working on. You spent last Spring in New York. Tell me about what you did there.
I was there from March until June on a Fulbright Artist’s Scholarship. A mid-career scholarship obviously… [laughs]
Actually in a way I was studying the story of performance art [with Laurie Anderson at The Kitchen NYC] and developing my Final Cut Pro skills, as well as experiencing a little more of New York life, now that I’m a mature boy and things are different!
How was it returning to Athens after that?
For me it was a blessing because I discovered that I had left New York when I was still under construction. It’s the perfect place to be when you are like that, but in this phase of my life what I found there was a little more superficial than I would have liked. The Athens I returned to was in complete economic crisis and emotionally depressed, but still I was deeply relieved to spend summer back home.
Dimitris, I know you were born in Athens, but we’ve never talked about your childhood.
I was born and grew up in Athens, in a lower-middle class family. My parents made financial sacrifices so that I could go to a very expensive school, the Athens College. Then I had to run away from home because my parents wanted me to live the life of a straight architect. But I was a gay man, and I wanted to be a painter. I became the student of the Greek painter Yannis Tsarouchis* (1) in the old fashioned way, where painters trained people in their atelier. It was there I was introduced to true art. I had been painting since I was a child, but it was when I met Tsarouchis that I realised what painting really was. Later I entered the Athens School of Fine Arts.
* (1) : Yannis Tsarouchis, 1910-1989 One of the most important twentieth-century Greek painters, Yannis Tsarouchis portrayed and helped to define modern Greek identity. The deeply sensual painter was much influenced by the French impressionists and often depicted sailors, soldiers and the nude male body in erotic situations.
How did you meet Tsarouchis?
I knocked on his door. I showed him some my paintings and asked for his comments. He was not cruel, as he could have been, about those awkward early drawings — instead he was very polite. My college had organised an exhibition of my work in the building’s library, so I invited Tsarouchis to see my work up close. The next day he called me and invited me back to his house, after which he allowed me to watch him paint, and would give corrections on my paintings. I became his student.
How did this encounter shape you? Did it leave a mark on your artistic work?
Well, your first mentor leaves a strong mark on your life. I grew up in a house that had no contact with artists, there wasn’t a single painting on the walls. My parents weren’t very fond of art, it wasn’t part of their lives. I felt like an alien, wanting to enter this world. So Tsarouchis was the first artist I really saw working, and I realised that the life of an artist is possible and, to my eyes, very charming. I felt at home in a way. And he was a great painter. He had a quality that interests me a great deal: he could make magic with the humblest of materials — he could make roses out of toilet paper, use wires to make small sculptures. The thing I think I have learned from him is that you can make poetry out of garbage.