After meeting artist Leslie Kulesh at our recent Twin Speaks salon, we fell in love with her can do attitude. From coloured yarns to acting out Nineties classic flick Clueless with friends, anything goes. Originally from San Francisco but now living in London, we thought we’d share her with the rest of you…
Do you remember the moment when you decide to be an artist?
Vividly! I was in Hawaii with my grandmother and my father, who’s an art conservator. I was about 11 years old and we went to a museum show of Hockney’s opera sets.
The interior of the museum was entirely dark, save for the lights on the sets, as they would have been in use. Recordings of the opera music played loud from room to room, and as is custom over there – the air conditioning was blasting. The whole experience was multi-sensory and emotional to the point of almost being frightening. I knew I wanted to make things like that – environments that transported people that had their own history, but perhaps a future potential as well.
Your work involves both performance and hand crafted structures – how would you define your own work?
My practice is definitely process oriented. It’s important to work with the material and understand what goes into production. In works such as No Fear, I spent about six hours a day for the best part of a month measuring, cutting and tying each piece onto the grid I had designed.
That work becomes very meditative and wouldn’t have the same energy had it been made by another person. Decisions get made throughout the creation and I see what is developing. With performance work, it’s the same in a lot of ways. There is an idea, multiple ways to approach it, script writing, or improv, work-shopping, then re-working – always guiding back toward the original idea. By taking full ownership of the work there is room for it to start mutating.
When performing with others, I have always called upon friends. Unlike actors, I know their qualities, or suspect there is something that will come out once placed in a specific environment. That open-plan style work also allows for excessive collaboration that proves for a much stronger performance.
How important is popular culture in your artistic practice – are there any elements you find yourself consistently retuning to and why?
Pop culture is great – it mutates in that same way as I see my work. Someone puts forth an idea, others riff on that, it gets co-opted, becomes a meme and by then there’s a whole new story happening. I do consistently return to the digital/analogue exchange- both literal and symbolic. I’m sure it’s generational, having to do with growing up in Silicon Valley – learning DOS instead of Dewey Decimal.
Nonetheless, it continues to be relevant. As technology trudges forward, those same senses that were so stunned back in the Hockney exhibit in Hawaii become stunted when I try to take in a 500px X 340px Katharina Grosse image. I know I am not experiencing it – it’s a point of reference; and I often wonder if there will be a movement away from this half baked form of research.
What drives you to create?
Different things, different days. To prove something to myself, to scare myself. You always hear that new age-y talk about internalizing instead of externalizing, living in the moment – divorced from the future and the past. I feel that way when I am making something. That time becomes like a line, one dimensional.
If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
A musician – god knows I travel enough. At the least I should have the reward of a crowd acknowledging me for my travel every couple of days!
What’s up next for you?
I have a video in a group show at French Riviera opening tonight 6-9pm and I’ll be DJing with Twin’s Art Editor Francesa Gavin afterwards!
I’m also speaking at Camden Arts Centre with Kate Cooper (co-director of Auto Italia) on December 7th and I’ll be in performance during Bodies Assembling at Auto Italia on Saturday, December 10th.
Baker Lily Vanilli is terrifyingly good at cakes. Often appearing to involve more blood and guts than sugar, they are the antithesis of the girly cupcake. And not content with making the kind of confections that we want to devour, she’s also got the recipe for the sort of private members club we want to join. Pop-up cake and cocktail club 180 is a world’s first of its kind, and this Wednesday its celebrating all things dark and delicious at the Baby Bathhouse.
Winter Witchcraft and 180 Club will herald in the new season pagan style. All Souls Cake and Absinthe and Chocolate Mini Eclairs are just two of the cake canapes that will be served along side equisite cocktails. Noemi Klein will be on hand with her beautiful, haunting jewellery, while Marawa the Amazing will revisit the plague years in her performance piece Ring a Ring of Roses. It promises to be a night of dark arts and decadence.
Where can you see Margot Bowman, Andy Warhol, Sarah Mower, Cecil Beaton and Gary Card jostling alongside illustrators such as David Downton,René Gruau and François Berthoud? The answer is Rupert Sanderson’s Upstairs studio.
On Saturday 17th December the studio has invited the Fashion Illustration Galleryto put on a one-day-only Christmas art fair. Prints, original illustrations, books, magazines, t-shirts and badges by some of illustration’s greats are sure to make as much a stunning makeshift exhibition as spectacular Christmas presents for loved ones with a discerning eye.
It’s been two years since AIR released their sixth album, Love 2, but the French duo still have their minds on matters of the heart. Painted Love bears their unmistakeable breathy electronic pop, but this is more than just one song. Luxury jewellers Cartier posed them the question “How Far Would You Go For Love?”. This is their answer.
The accompanying film, made by New York based directors Waverly, revisits the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea via down town Manhattan. A young artist searches for his muse, first in his canvas and then in the darkness of New York’s clubs, driven by his obsession to attain her. “The idea of the muse is very important to me, it is like a driving force. I know that for every album, we have needed a love story as a motivation. Creating art is like a huge need to be loved,” says AIR.
Cartier are set to pose their question to two more musicians and directors in 2012. But we’re already thinking how far we’d go. Are you?
When Kathryn Bigelow won a bevy of awards including two Oscars for her 2008 film Hurt Locker she made history as the first woman to ever be named best director. That said, three years on the fact remains that women are still marginalised, not to mention underrepresented and oversexualised in cinema.
UnderWire plans to change that. As the UK’s only short film festival dedicated to showcasing women’s work it already has the support of such seminal female creatives as Laura Mulvey, author of Visual and Other Pleasures, Fetishism and Curioisity, journalist Samira Ahmed and Nira Park, producer of Scott Pilgrim v the World and Attack the Block. Established by Gabriella Apicella and Gemma Mitchell in 2010, co-directors of UnderWire 2011 Mitchell and Helen Jack hope to recognise women’s talents through awards, open up the dialogue about women in film and, ultimately, readdress the gender balance within the UK industry.
Comes But Once a Year, dir Justine Barker
(Top) Prohyb, dir Katarina Complova
UnderWire 2011 is at Shortwave cinema and Bermondsey Square Hotel from 23rd – 26th November 2011. See the full programme here
Sharmadean Reid’s WAH Nails is steadily spreading the word for colourful, characterful and cute nails. Since opening its doors in 2009 the East London salon has worked their polish magic for names like M.I.A and Marc Jacobs and have opened salons in TopShop Oxford Street and Stratford City. Now they’ve teamed up with Minx Nails to create three solid nails inspired by WAH’s original designs. With names like Golden Tribes, Rainbow Tribes and Cosmic Comic they’re sure to be all you need to make a statement.
The WAH limited edition Minx Designs are now available only at WAH Nails TopShop Westfield, Stratford until December 24 and on Minx Nails’ website. wahnails.com minxnails.com
Miu Miu’s new flagship store in the heart of Toyko is a three tiered carousel packed with the kind of playful luxury that we’ve come to expect of Prada’s little sister. Sugary handbags and shoes jostle like bright jewels on gilt shelves in the newly opened Ginza Echogoya district shop.
Between the damask sofas, gold framed mirrors and crystal counters there’s no mistaking the opulence. But the Miu Miu girl has always worn luxury with an independent spirit and the store is more than a shopping experience, it’s an immaculate interpretation of the brand’s aesthetic vision. Prepare to lose yourself.
In the world of the Internet, there are no geographical limits to where inspiration can come from. Over the two years that photographer Laurence Von Thomas has been running his blog If You Leave it has grown into a large-scale collaboration, with contemporary photographers across the world submitting their work. Focusing on single images, it’s an ambiguous archive that moves through desolate landscapes and mysterious settings, celebrating the power of a photograph rather than one specific photographer. Having already released a book of selected images last year, Von Thomas has curated a second book featuring the work of 85 photographers and 20 nationalities that have been exhibited on the site since 2011. An exhibition of the photographs is currently at Radio London.
Twin spoke to curator Von Thomas and challenged him to name his three favourite images…
Do you have any favourite images from If You Leave?
I once had a teacher who taught us the necessity of having to ‘kill your darlings’, but I hoped I had already passed that stage with the selection for the book.
With If You Leave, as a rule of thumb I never analyse an image. Selection is based purely on impression and personal disposition, but I like the question.
So then, which is your first image?
The first image – done alphabetically – would be that of Daniel Castaneda (above). I’ve seen this picture both small – we used it as a flyer and invitation for the book launch – and blown-up.
When you see it small you get drawn in by the little black dot set against the horizontal lines and the amazing, somewhat unearthly colours. When you see it big and stand right in front of it, you become part of it.
Why this image works for me, is it reminds me of the balance between man and the elements.. like Friedrich’s Wanderer. Oh, and if you play Superstar by Sonic Youth while looking at it, it adds an extra dimension – that did happen to me at around four in the morning after a bottle of wine and having had no sleep for over 24 hours, so I’m not quite sure about this statement.
What image have you chosen next?
The second photograph is by Dylan Shaw (above). Again, the colours and composition and lateral light determine the style, but the atmosphere for me is a mixture of voyeurism and nostalgia, caused by the subjective position of the camera peeking in and creating a frame within a frame.
On a more personal level the style and especially the haircut recalls scenes from Goddard’s nouvelle vague classic A Bout de Souffle. It’s quite an iconic image in its own right.
And last but not least?
The third image is by Miet van Hee (above). I could try to explain, but I don’t really want to. It wouldn’t have much of a meaning to any one else.
That said, I think one of the most rewarding things about having done these two books, is that the images have so much soul that there’s always going to be one or two you will relate to more, depending on when you pick up the book.
By the time this gets published, I will probably have three different images that I prefer.
The French artist, photographer and activist known as JR has created Women Are Heroes in a tribute to the bravery of those in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Phnom Penh, Delhi, and Kenya.
Known for his guerilla style, public photo exhibitions such as Portrait Of A Generation and Face 2 Face, the 2011 TED Prize winner spent three years crafting the documentary, the third part in his 28 Millimètres series. The result is a film which is an emotional tour de force, confronting its viewer with the hard-hitting reality of violence, war, poverty and oppression women around the world face every day. But far from viewing his subjects as victims of their environment, JR portrays a group of individuals who are not only fearless, but also optimists of change.
By mounting large-scale portraits of them on public buildings in France, Brazil, Cambodia, India, and Kenya, he proves that the women living their life in the danger zone are not just heroes. They are a poignant reminder that strength, and happiness, can be found in even the darkest of places.
Jeweller Steph Davies was amazed by a statistic that less than one per cent of women will ever own a diamond of one karat or more. Her response was to put something together that was a little quirky and more affordable than a diamond. Diamond Day is a jewellery line of silver diamond trinkets inspired by the stone’s natural form. The result is more tough and adorable than the real thing.
Nature is a recurrent theme in her designs and since making Diamond Day, Davies is now focusing on making small individual pieces. She’s just cast some crab claws she caught on the beach at her hometown in West Wales.
She says: “I’m looking forward to getting them cast in silver and oxidizing them to keep them looking a bit raw and industrial looking. I’m inspired by hard working, creative people who are passionate about what they do and make the most of what they have.” When it comes to a diamond with edge, Davies is our girl.