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.
For thirty years, photographer Ari Marcopoulos has been pioneering contemporary photography with his unique style of raw immediacy documenting subcultures such as skateboarders and graffiti artists, as well as landscapes and his own family and friends. Since his days printing photographs for Andy Warhol, he has amassed a huge body of work marked by its arresting and unsentimental intimacy. Bound to mimic a phone book, his newest publication Directory presents a collection of approximately 1,200 photographs, with curator and critic Neville Wakefield providing insightful commentary. Each book in this limited-edition series includes a print signed by the artist.
A quote from Rumi, the Persian sufi, translated by Coleman Barks:
“When you brush a form clean, it becomes what it truly is”
Marc Jacobs’ tour-de-force ending for Paris Fashion Week, featuring handcuffs, elevators, and some obsessive ladies, almost made everyone forget about the Galliano debacle. The image now engraved in everyone’s mind is that of Kate Moss closing the Night Porter-style show, cigarette in mouth. But however powerful it was to see it live, somehow this image had already been floating in collective consciousness…
“Kate” by René Habermacher for Numéro Paris, Make-up by Linda Cantello.
Before he became a photographer, René Habermacher was as an illustrator — who was already a bit of a photographer. Numéro Paris, under the helm of Babeth Djian and Thomas Lenthal, frequently commissioned him fashion and beauty series made up entirely of photorealistic illustrations, “unreal” photos.
“Unreal” because there was no shooting, no camera. Only René, an idea, dozens of image references, hundreds of hours of drawing and airbrushing, and in this case, the advice of master make-up artist Linda Cantello, of Roxy Music fame.
So for this 2003 beauty series, René imagined Kate Moss as heir to Charlotte Rampling’s SS-cap-wearing and cigarette-smoking character from the 1974 film The Night Porter.
Caroline Daily: what is the first film which made an impression on you ?
Antoine Asseraf: The most striking memory for me is David Lynch’s Lost Highway.
It was my first Lynch, and the mix of glamour and goth, the changes in personality, the concept of looping, free intepretation, all left me without voice.
With David Lynch, there is always a staggering artistic direction, a mix of architecture, music, design and casting which create entirely novel worlds.
In a different register, there is also Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, which left a mark because it’s such a violent film, but with an “english” type of violence – very different from the hollywood violence to which i had grown accustomed.
For many years now I’ve had this image permanently burned into my retina, visions of a kids’ television show centering around a giant TV screen-cum-arena showing video games in which people would “dive”. But it seemed so ancient that I couldn’t really identify its source…
The source: Pixifoly, a segment on TF1 channel’s “Vitamine” children’s show, which ran between 1983 and 1984.
For better context, imagine that Starcade, the first video-game related TV show premiered in the USA in 1981,
TRON was released in 1982, and the NES didn’t go west until 1986…
I was 4 years old when I saw PIXIFOLY, and yet it got stuck in my head.
The basic premise of PIXIFOLY was “TRON, for kids, in front of a live audience, every week.”
Every wednesday afternoon, an audience composed entirely of children would gather on the set with the show’s hosts, facing a giant screen set into the ground.
One of the hosts would step onto the screen and be immersed into a videogame world full of adventure.
Each episode used a different videogame, a real game made for the consoles of the times – Commodore 64, Spectrum ZX, Atari, etc. – and showed the hosts “playing” with it using a giant pogo joystick. But because at the times videogames were a bit of a marginal subject, especially for the number one public channel in France, videogaming was not the core of the show, just a cutting-edge way of mise-en-scène for a kids adventure show:
Not only were the credits one of the first 3D (“images de synthèse”) sequences at the time, but most of the show relied on the revolutionary Paintbox graphics postproduction system to mix live footage of the hosts with game footage. Space invaders, scuba diving, kung fu fighting, Aztec adventures — the video game was but a starting point on which the producers built their storylines, adding extra characters, costumes and props into the mix. The favorite trick would be to have the characters “fly” on top of flight simulator backdrop.
In a way, the video game was a cheap, ready-made set for the PIXIFOLY adventures.
The Victoria and Albert Museum presents one of the most influential and enigmatic fashion designers of the last forty years: Yohji Yamamoto. Shortly before the opening, THE STIMULEYE caught up with V&A Contemporary Curator Ligaya Salazar, curator of this installation-based retrospective, exploring the work of a designer who has challenged, provoked and inspired with designs that have rewritten notions of beauty in fashion.
“The timeline will consist of a mixture of clips of key fashion shows from the last 30 years of his illustrious career, some bits about his main collaborations in film, performance and photography and some very special extras. I hope that this will help shed light on Yamamoto’s extraordinary approach to collaboration” – Ligaya Salazar
On display are 80 women’s and menswear garments, which are most representative of his work that is recognised for subverting gender stereotypes and has featured women wearing garments traditionally associated with menswear. The exhibition also includes menswear items from the Autumn/Winter 1998 season which was famously modelled on women.
Accompanying the exibition, Ligaya produced a series of images with Nick Knight, styled by Katie Grand, and edited a stunning Book that also sheds light on Yoshji Yamamoto’s relationships with other creative collaborators: including Peter Saville, Marc Ascoli and M/M (Paris), Pina Bausch and filmmakers Takeshi Kitano and Wim Wenders.
René Habermacher sat down with curator Ligaya Salazar for a chat on this and her curatorial work on the projects…
RENE HABERMACHER: Hello Ligaya! how is things? Tense, so short before the opening?
LIGAYA SALAZAR: Ha! We are actually a little ahead of schedule, awaiting Yohji’s visit
Now i am impressed!
Yes he will be coming to the V&A after his Ready-to-Wear show to check everything is in order and to paint on the gallery walls!
I would assume usually that would come first- the painting….
Oh no — not painting the gallery walls, he will be painting life-size silhouettes on the wall behind and amongst the mannequins. It will be very special.
A diverse community of contributors, all vast in their effort to understand, contextualize and shed light on some of the most inspiring topics in art and culture today.The Stimuleye is a unique, multidisciplinary online publication in the form of a blog.
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The Stimuleye is about supporting up-to-date, online authorship.Unlike most art, fashion or culture blogs, The Stimuleye is not about frequency, it’s about insight.We want our network of Stimuleyes to have time to think and present images and ideas in a comprehensive way.