Akemi’s 100 Kimonos, by Emily Stein

In a new series of images, photographer Emily Stein creates portraits of Akemi and her kimonos. A celebration of traditional clothing and heritage set in a modern British environments.

Emily Stein explains the story behind her bright and celebratory new series. 

Akemi has lived in the UK for twenty years, however her heart is truly rooted in her home country of Japan and this manifests itself in her extensive Kimono collection.  As I got to know her she explained to me how she came to London in search of a safer place for her and her young daughter. She explained how in Japan women are sexually harassed frequently and how she grew up being taught to obey men. She felt she had no voice or way of expressing herself.

Each Kimono has a story to tell about her past which she is emotionally connected to.

Her kimono collection is a way for Akemi to be close to certain parts of what she loves about her heritage. Her collection of 100 beautiful pieces feels like an extension of her.

She always dresses in Kimono’s. I felt like it would be a lovely story to tell.

© Emily Stein
© Emily Stein
© Emily Stein

© Emily Stein

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The moralities of protest clothing

Four years ago, Nigerian author/activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie published a book length essay titled “We Should All Be Feminists.” In summary, the book is an outstanding revelation which aims to give a definition to modern day feminism and it’s relevance to society.

In 2013,  Adichie delivered a TEDx Talk on the subject which was sampled by Beyonce in her 2013 hit single ***Flawless. This boost of popularity as an author/activist introduced to pop culture was just in time for the book’s launch. 

In 2017, three years after the launch, for her debut as the first woman to take charge as creative director of french fashion house Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri presented her SS17 collection which included a t-shirt aptly-bearing the title of Chimamanda’s essay , “We Should All Be Feminists.”  Since then, the t-shirts have gained popularity and have been sported by celebrities and influencers such as Rihanna , Jennifer Lawrence, ASAP Rocky, Chiara Ferragni, etc. To say this trend was a success is a gross understatement.

And as we have witnessed time after time, messages being told through fashion tend to often have quite an effect: dating from as far as back as the 80’s when fashion designer Katharine Hamnett wore a T-shirt in protest against nuclear missiles in her meeting of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. More recently Black Lives Matter protesters marched through American streets bearing variations of the slogan across their chests after the Trayvon Martin injustice, and who can forget the jacket which read “I Really Don’t Care Do You?” worn by Melania Trump on her way to visit a migrant facility in Texas.

While these garments might carry notes that can contributive to a mass shift in society, as anything that involves the internet, there are pitfalls of going ‘too’ viral.

Two seasons ago a version of the We Should All Be Feminists t-shirt was seen on the Milanese runway for the budding menswear Sunnei – an innocent play on words, altered to “We should all be Sunnei”. One might argue that such an artless move could do no harm.

Sunnei FW18 | credit: Giacomo Cabrini

However, this is where the watering down of an important message begins. Now personalised versions of the book title can be spotted on influencers, fans etc. and although the intent might be innocent, the message is undoubtedly weakened.

It’s like playing Chinese whispers. In the end, you risk losing parts through transition, but in this case, its much more important than a game. When Black Lives Matter protesters created T-shirts with the slogan it was to emphasise the fact that black lives matter, not to leave room for “All Lives Matter” spin-offs which disregarded and disrupted the original message, or when Melania Trump wore the jacket that read “I Really Don’t Care, Do You?” some might say the First Lady was genuinely sending a message henceforth the internet’s effort to change the writing to something positive was besides the point.

So I believe it’s safe to assume that when Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie penned this essay, it was for the purpose of speaking out against the heinous acts of sexism, and likewise Maria Grazia Chiuri when she incorporated the unaltered title as apart of her collection. So might we be reminded that protest t-shirts and whatever other forms of fashion used to send messages, are not for the purposes of individualisation or modification, regardless of innocent intentions, but for the sole motive of emphasising an important message using an art form which can be easily outspread.

WEAR: An Opera told through fashion about the end of the world

An immersive sci-fi fashion presentation at the wild, impossible edges of contemporary art music; an exploration of how objects are used to create our own truth; Waiting for Godot meets Lulu via fashion week for the post-truth era.

UU studios have created an opera entitled WEAR with keen hopes to traverse time, space and the audience’s impression of what the theatre can be.

The storyline? A designer prepares for their final show against the backdrop of the apocalypse. When a colleague arrives to interview them about the work on display, it sets in motion a series of recollections of their lives and the work that gave these meaning. In a series of creative re-imaginings the two reconnect and, in doing so, defy the end of the world.

The tale is merely a metaphor for a greater discussion being posed by the UU Studios founders: Gemma A. Williams and Alastair White. With a background of fashion curation and publications, alongside White’s work straddling politics, science and music, both White and Williams are here to utilise the stage as a sounding board for the collision of a lot of thoughts that are pounding through their heads. Opera is a field that is still shackled to its traditions, so it will be refreshing to see what WEAR unfolds in storyline, execution and intent.

The gumption of WEAR is ambitious – and anything that carries a cross-pollinating appetite should be celebrated for its need of a (creatively concerned) different speed. Twin contributor Isabella Davey talks to Williams and White about WEAR’s forthcoming debut and how an opera woven like fabric can stand for as a metaphor for identity, confusion and decay.

How did wear come about?

AW:  We met through a mutual friend and were instantly fascinated with one another’s work. At the time I was in the process of sketching ideas for an opera about time travel that could exploit art music’s ability to manipulate the listener’s experience of temporality. In one of many late night discussions with Gemma it struck us both how interesting it might be to set it in the world of fashion. Fashion – it seems to me, at least – is, like music, specifically concerned with time. On one hand, it is fleeting and ephemeral, a constant flow of changing trends with their momentary beauty made even more vivid by its impending obsolescence. On the other, clothes – great clothes, that is – have this magical power to almost freeze their wearers in time and protect them from the rot and decay of disintegrating life as though together they had become an artwork. I think, tentatively, it is in the contradiction and interplay between these opposing aspects that fashion derives a meaningful beauty. The desire to explore some of these ideas, and their philosophical implications in music, poetry and dance, was where WEAR began.

WEAR opera | image credit: Robert Rowland

What attracted you to opera?

GAW: I think opera has similar challenges to fashion in that people are often scared by it and therefore actually miss out on the beauty of it. On a very practical level, I think that increasingly exhibitions are becoming massive blockbusters; the curator has been overtaken by fashion brands using in-house teams to convey their own very controlled commercial message and this means that rather than allowing an external thinker into the process to extract a narrative they are becoming very set promotional events. There is very little room to experiment especially with budgets so when I met Alastair I thought this was a really exciting aspect to explore and develop. It’s also never actually been done before!

How do fashion and performance interact and relate to one another?

GAW: Well they are intrinsic. From our first understanding of performance it’s embedded in the visual – Bowie is a prime example and the very best, ground-breaking artists play with this. Also, for me it’s about emotion – something incredibly difficult to convey in an exhibition but immediately unlocked in music, performance or fashion.

Why I’m particularly excited about WEAR is that we haven’t simply dressed the models: fashion inspired the construction of the music so it’s an opera that’s been woven, like a fabric.

What do you hope the audience will take from wear?

AW: WEAR isn’t so much a story about time machines as it is about a world where they make true stories no longer possible. Multiple timelines are a contradiction in terms – they couldn’t exist side by side as the current Star Trek reboot and continuation have tried to imply. Rather, they would be experienced as a constant erasure and reworking of history. I hope it works as a metaphor for the modern world, where the past seems so distant from our amnesiac, ever-modernising present, and the fact that we can now use the contemporary excess of information to justify almost anything. I suppose I hope that people take that the only way forward from such a moment is not through the dull, methodical reconstruction of the past, but the possibility of something totally new, something utterly unexpected – that no one had thought possible before – that didn’t need to happen – that was, until now, in this shifting, tumbling present, impossible to imagine. It’s only in this that we can re-light radical politics and art towards their revolutionary efficacy.

What was the thought behind the name?

AW: A pun that fortunately combines a few of the opera’s themes – identity, confusion and decay.

GAW: Also, our company name is a pun, pronounced double u. We like puns. 

WHAT CAN OPERA LEARN FROM FASHION AND FASHION LEARN FROM OPERA

GAW: Fashion is adept at remaining relevant in how it pushes the boundaries of a vast array of different contexts. The most provocative designers build a mix of philosophy, performance and fine art into their garments and collections but in such a way that they are still commercial pieces that can be worn on the body.

AW; Opera, by contrast, is hamstrung by an industry built on museum-piece regurgitation of the past at the expense of new work. It survives by breaking out of the opera house and fighting its way back to the cut and thrust of the real world, full of all its confusing exhilaration and cheap, strange ugliness. The challenge is not to ignore these factors, but rather to reconcile them somehow with the beauty of art and, in this, the possibility of a better future.

What is next for UU Studios?

GAW: For now we want to concentrate on touring WEAR globally, potentially programming it into fashion weeks and events. Our aim is to collaborate with a different designer in each different city, making it incredibly special each time and visually different. Alongside this we have a lot of really cool ideas so it’s pretty exciting. We are writing a crime-horror opera based in a coastal town which has hilariously ended up with the working-title of ‘The Fish Opera’.

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Rosetta Getty and Hayden Dunham’s Tribeca Collaboration

Clothing designer Rosetta Getty has teamed up with artist Hayden Dunham, to create an installation in her Tribeca studio space, also incorporating Dunham-inspired elements into into her own Resort 2019 collection. Each season, Getty selects a young female artist to collaborate with in this way. In the recent past these have included acclaimed artists Alicja Kwade and Analia Saban.

Dunham’s work investigates the relationship between the hard and soft architectures of building and body, embodying ideas of transformation and the process of facilitation. By working closely with Dunham, Getty began to record and understand her approach to sculptural processes, which is scientific and methodical. In response to this, Rosetta has created Resort 2019 in much the same way, working with unusual fabrics like laminated water repellent cotton to create a truly unique collection.

Twin contributor Sarah Roberts spoke to both Getty and Dunham about their artistic exchange.

Rosetta

How did the collaboration between you and Hayden come into fruition?

I have been interested in Hayden’s work since first seeing her exhibition at Red Bull Arts in 2016. I later visited Hayden’s studio in LA and was fascinated by all of the different materials she gathers for her work, such as silicone, resin, glass, porcelain, silk, and charcoal. I related to this strongly with my own process as a designer. For Resort 2019, I started searching for the most unique fabrics I could find.

Each season, I work with an artist to create a unique installation reflecting my collection. I asked Hayden if she could create a site-specific installation that would provide context to the clothes, and the process was very organic.

Rosetta G interior | image Jonathan Hokklo courtesy of Zoe Communications

What first drew you to Hayden’s work?

I was drawn to Hayden’s approach of using natural elements and synthetic materials together in her sculptures. I began to think about my own approach for designing clothes, and it felt very much the same. It has encouraged me to further my own exploration of fabrics and I discovered some incredible synthetic materials for this collection.

How is the Resort 2019 collection different from those you’ve created in the past?

Resort 2019 continues our minimalist aesthetic even further, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about the purpose and functionality of every piece. The collection arrives during a time of year when you need an ever-changing wardrobe, so I’m pleased we can offer lots of different options with this collection.

What aspects of the collection are directly inspired by Hayden’s work?

The fabrics, which we developed ourselves, are directly inspired by Hayden’s process of manipulating materials. We found carpet cushioning at a hardware store, which is very industrial, and transferred it to a print on silk georgette and it turned out very soft and elegant.

In the end, it was made into a very subtle cape panel gown, with flowing separates. Another example is the laminated water repellent cotton which we used in the outerwear. The laminated finish on one side and cardboard colour give it an industrial characteristic, but once worn, it’s light, casual and unassuming. The colour palette is also very much directly inspired by Hayden’s work; soft tones of peach, meadow, shell, and sky.

Rosetta G interior | image Jonathan Hokklo courtesy of Zoe Communications

How do you and Hayden similarly approach sustainability?

We both feel strongly about the responsibility of putting things into the world as creators. My team continues speaking every season with our fabric mills and looking into their practices, discussing the impact on human health and the environment. I’m glad to see that most of the mills we work with use sustainable methods to produce their textiles.

Hayden

How do you use sculpture to investigate the relationship between the architecture of the human body, and the chemical matter with which it interacts?

There is a very clear relationship between material bodies and human bodies. We are in a constant dialog with the environments we live inside. This conversation is reflected physically through the materials present in our bodies.

How does this installation depart from, or tie into, your previous work?

I am obsessed with water and structures that support water. Specifically, large-scale circulation systems that move bodies of liquid around. Human bodies are one of these systems. A fountain is another structure that hosts these exchanges.

When I visited Rosetta in Siena, she pointed out the fountain in the piazza, which is a gathering spot for the community. The water has a very special and specific mineral composition and feeling to it.

LAIL, 2016, Hayden Dunham | © Andrea Rosen Gallery

What drew you to Rosetta’s work?

There is this deep calmness and clarity in Rosetta’s presence, and she is both grounded and expansive. I see her work and process as an extension of this energy. I am also really impressed with her team and the level of intentionality and thoughtfulness in their practice.

What challenges did you face while creating this installation?

The presence of these pieces is so expansive and wild that they wanted to be incorporated into every system inside the space. They were particularly tempted to go inside the floors and electrical outlets. My role in the install was making boundaries with the work, which is constantly expanding and contracting. For me, the garments operate in a similar way. They are containers, and they provide a boundary to be held by.

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#MyFLV winners announced

Earlier this year, the Fondation Louis Vuitton (FLV) – an art museum and cultural centre sponsored by LVMH and its subsidies – in celebration of its fourth anniversary launched an architecture photographer contest inspired by the Parisian building’s exceptional construction and design. The museum, which was inspired by abstract structures of glass was designed by renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.
The competition, titled #MyFLV, launched on May 3rd and welcomed photographers of all calibre, both amateur and professional who were required to post original photographs of the buildings to their Instagram accounts accompanied by the respective hashtag and Fondation account tag.
After concluding on June 5th, the FLV gathers several representatives from its board along with French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand who formed a jury to select the top 7 photographs. Their picks were announced earlier this week which included a mix of photographers from several corners of the world. Namely Pierre Châtel-Innocenti, Mathieu Collart, Roseline Diemer, Yi-Hsien Lee, Boshiang Lin,  Jean-Guy Perlès & Jérémy Thomas.

The winners will have their photos used in an upcoming digital and print poster campaign, a boost of publicity via the foundation’s social account, a Collector’s Pass for FLV valid for one year, along with a chèque of 2,000 euros.

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Coco Capitán: Is it tomorrow yet?

Twin contributor, Gucci collaborator and renowned photographer and artist Coco Capitán opens a new solo exhibition at the Daelim Museum in Seoul this summer.

This is the first time the artist will be shown in Asia and the exhibition offers a broad introduction to Coco’s world. The show will encompass 150 works across painting, photography, handwriting, video and installation.

The show’s title ‘Is it Tomorrow Yet?, reflects Coco Capitán’s interest in being attuned to the present, staying in the moment and not focussing on the unknown that tomorrow brings. It’s a theme that marks an evolution from her previous work which includes the now iconic statement she put out with Gucci: ‘What are we going to do with all this future?’

Her scrawling notes and manifestos may be amongst the most Instagrammed parts of her work, but this major exhibition offers a chance for viewers to engage with the full scope of her canon. Interrogative, thoughtful, provocative and existential: just a glimpse of what’s on offer confirms what we already knew. Coco Capitán is one of the most exciting artists of her time.

All Cars are Conditioned | Coco Capitán

framed prayer for new stars | Coco Capitán

Swimmer portrait | Coco Capitán

 

Cum on car | Coco Capitán

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The People vs Virgil

Twin contributor Jordan Anderson considers the impact of Virgil Abloh’s first collection for Louis Vuitton.
Earlier today, Ghanian-American fashion designer Virgil Abloh presented his first collection as creative director of Louis Vuitton Menswear in the gardens of the Palais Royale for Paris Fashion Week.
Since his appointment in March, the news of a black man at the helm of one of fashion’s most prestigious French houses has of course caused some stir and split opinions between fans and fashion critics. This was not just any black man, but specifically Virgil Abloh.
I, particularly as man of colour, was on the fence about the decision. Only two men of colour had ever held such positions, Ozwald Boateng at Givenchy and Olivier Rousteing at Balmain. On one BLACK hand, I was overflown with joy, and completely elated that another man that looked like me had finally landed such a position. The story of an immigrant, arriving to the US, starting his journey in fashion and being so successful in his efforts to the point where he now sits at the head table of one oldest fashion labels in history is undeniably inspiring. This would be a monumental moment, not just for black people, but for anyone of colour who has ever felt excluded from a conversation in the walls of fashion as a result of skin colour, culture or heritage.
On  the other hand, as a  detester of the ranks of fashion as a popularity contest, I was torn. Abloh and his label Off-White for me and many represent a millennial-friendly fast-selling branch of fashion which often sacrifice quality and ingenuity for mass sales/trendiness. Prior to this appointment, Virgil to me was but a DJ and a businessman. I assumed his label was a business he would pick up every season to use his influence to create a few stirs among millennials to make some extra bucks. Which in this case would be fine. We’re all hustlers, and you definitely don’t have to go to fashion school to be a designer. However where was I to be left when I found out that one of fashion’s “influencers” was taking over an historic French fashion house. Was this like Kendall Jenner becoming photo editor for Vogue?

 I had no idea what to expect. As I tuned in to Louis Vuitton’s live Instagram stream and got a glimpse of the location, goose bumps grew on my skin. I was excited. My heart started racing as I witnessed an army of computed men in white, opening the multi-coloured runway. This was Virgil’s moment:  it was his peak, and I was extremely excited for the masterpiece which he seemed to have created. LVMH may have hired him for his savvy business approach but regardless, I saw this as a win for us.
After the emotions faded and the show ended I then went back and had a look at the collection. The hints of his brand Off-White were evident. There was not much innovation but it was better than I expected. This was a luxury version of his own brand and a deconstructed version of the Louis Vuitton we had been used to. It was relatively safe ground: double breasted blazers, two pleated trousers  paired with holsters and harnesses. Nothing too new for fashion, but definitely new for the French fashion house.
LVMH were certainly ahead of the curve hiring a designer that brings streetwear to the luxury space. Virgil Abloh might not be an innovator, or to some, not even a designer, but he sure is a hell of a showman.
Feature image via Louis Vuitton Instagram. 

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Bruce Lee and the Outlaw

Joost Vandebrug’s debut documentary racked up huge hype when it premiered at Sheffield Film Festival this year, and rightly so.

The Dutch photographer and Twin contributor has a knack for telling stories. His documentary style of photography has often focussed on the hidden human element of lives across Europe. He spent years taking photographs in Bucharest, exploring, to coin his own words, the generation that time forgot in a post-communist era. He also documented the lives of ‘lost boys’ in Transylvania. His photographs observe without judging, portraits devoid of propaganda or manipulation.

In Bruce Lee & The Outlaw the theme of loss and abandonment is present in a compelling documentary film. A rich narrative about the children of Bucharest centres on the story of Nicu, a homeless street child, who is adopted by the notorious Lord of the Underworld ‘Bruce Lee’ and brought up in the subterranean tunnels of Bucharest. The story was filmed over six years, a testament to Vandebrug’s patience and dedication to telling the most honest story he can.

Having been compared to both Larry Clark and Louis Theroux, there’s no doubt that more compelling documentaries are to come.

Watch a trailer for Bruce Lee and the Outlaw below.

 

Labs New Artists II

A new exhibition at Red Hook Labs celebrates the work of 25 international emerging photographers. Each creative is currently un-represented though by the end of this show we have no doubt that will have changed: the talent is impressive. 

Selected by an extensive panel of renowened jurors these rising stars will also receive mentorship from one the jurors for the next. In a fiercely competive world that kind of support is invaluable when starting out.

The photographers exhibiting are truly global hailing from South Africa, Germany, Canada, Australia, the UK and America. Works range from candid portraits to more stylised imagery, with each photographer bringin a unique eye to the exhibition.

Jubilant, pensive, provocative and soulful all at once these are the lenses of the future, and we’re already excited by what they see.

This exhibition follows on from the recent New African Photography III, an event which marked the launch of dynamic new print publication Nataal. These exhibitions and more have established Red Hook Labs as a must-visit gallery in Brooklyn, offering a diverse, inclusive and forward-facing programme that never fails to spark the imagination.

Daniel Jack Lyons

Luis Alberto Rodriguez

Tyler Mitchell

Chris Smith

Antone Dolezal

Labs New Artists II is on until June 24th, 2018 at Red Hook Labs. 

Featured image credit: John Francis Peters, ‘California Winter’ courtesy of Red Hook Labs

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Print! Tearing it up at Somerset House

A new exhibition at Somerset House in London celebrates the power of print magazines. Through talks and events, as well as the exhibition itself the new show charts the impact of print publications on British culture over the last century.

The expert curation by writer Paul Gorman and Somerset House’s Senior Curator Claire Catterall guides audiences through the evolution of the magazine as a medium for provocation, commentary and satire. Starting with Blast! in 1914 the exhibition takes in the start of the satirical Private Eye in the 1930s, the radical feminist magazines of the 1970s and onto present day, where DIY zines from the likes of Orlando and Mushpit have harnessed the medium and re-energised print culture.

On Monday 25th June ‘Practitioners and Provocateurs’ brings together a dynamic panel of women including Dr Althea Greenan Special Collections and Archive Curator at Goldsmith’s Women’s Art Library, Shaz Madani Designer and Art Director of Riposte magazine, Sofia Niazi resident Artist at Somerset House Studios and Editor of OOMK Zine, and Teal Triggs Professor of Graphic Design and Associate Dean of Royal College of Arts School of Communication. The discussion focus on the role each woman has had in regenerating ideas, identities and opportunities for and with their communities and is chaired by Ruth Jamieson, author of Print is Dead Long Live Print. 

Print! Tearing it up is on at Somerset House until 22nd August 2018.

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Ireland Repeals the 8th Amendment, Analysing Fashion’s Contribution

On May 25, 2018, the Irish people voted to end the constitutional ban on abortion. The final result was 66.4% Yes and 33.6% No. The vast majority of constituencies across the nation were in favour of removing the amendment from the constitution. In essence, it envisions a modern Ireland but the campaign wasn’t won by itself.

Fashion played an instrumental role in initiating conversations surrounding the Repeal the 8th campaign. Designers living in Ireland and abroad banded together to help shape the modern Ireland they’d like to see. Activists launched their own operations in the campaign’s nascency to voice their opinions. There were Anna Cosgrave’s Repeal Project sweaters; badges from the Abortion Rights Campaign and Together for Yes; housewares, clothing, and accessories from Repealist. Collectively, they inspired political awareness and instigated dialogues that were once left unspoken. “Don’t talk about politics,” it’s taught. Fashion turned that on its head.

“Both my apparel and jewellery were designed with the specific aim of making Repeal about celebrating the beauty and colours of autonomy,” said Shubhangi Karmakar, the founder of Repealist. “From my experience of making each piece by hand, the possibility of having customised jewellery to support Repeal fostered a sense of individuals identifying more closely and affiliating with the movement.”

The Hunreal Issues ‘Fashion is Repealing’ event was another important aspect of the campaign. Organised by Andrea Horan, founder of Dublin-based nail bar Tropical Popical, The Hunreal Issues provides information about abortion rights. The event connected with a voting population through fashion as a means of diluting the seriousness of politics in order to drive social change.

© Repealist

The event was a fundraiser-cum-fashion show in Dublin. It “added another layer to the tone of conversation around Repeal.” Horan assembled a dozen Irish designers to create one-of-a-kind pieces for the fashion show and fifty more affordable, collectible t-shirts and accessories for sale on The Hunreal Issues’ website. After the event, The Hunreal Issues made a donation of €25,000 to Together For Yes, the abortion rights campaign group.

The primary aim of Horan’s campaign was to inspire young people to participate in politics and to highlight women’s rights issues as red line issues. “Fashion allows people to engage and interact with it on their on time, in their own way and interpret the messages found within it into their own language.  For me, this is what is missing in politics – how can you get frustrated and wonder why there aren’t more young people caring about politics if nothing you do targets or engages them,” she said.

The campaign stages were pivotal. Abortions rights in Ireland has been an ongoing battle since 1983 when the country first went to the polls to debate abortion. The Catholic Church and the Irish government have long been bedfellows, but the deep-seated attitudes that once dogged the country are slowly diminishing.

It felt good to have a very small part in this momentous and long overdue change to how women are treated in Ireland. It doesn’t make up for the years and years where women have died, have felt hurt, guilt, conflict, judgement and shame but it is the start of acknowledgement and change. I am proud at how people have come together and supported and fought for this,” said Natalie B. Coleman, a designer from County Monaghan whose work blends the personal and the political with an intent on developing “a strong feministic spirit behind our collections.”

Natalie B Coleman AW17 | © Natalie B Coleman

“I think social media is what pushed young voters to get out and vote. I don’t think young voters related with the posters hanging around the city,” said Louise Kavanagh, an Irish fashion designer who participated in ‘Fashion is Repealing.’ “Social media was a great platform to see all information about the Repeal Project, which provided all factual information. It also gave the platform to promote events based on the campaign. I think these really related to young voters because at the end of the day we are the future and it’s us who the vote effects.”

May 25 was historic: The victory marks a new dawn for women’s rights, christens a more compassionate, caring, and considerate Ireland, and propels the country into modernity. There is work still to be done: implementing education, rewriting the constitution, and opening dialogues surrounding these subjects.

But in the run-up to the referendum date, many were cynical about the fashion industry’s reach, questioning its ability to galvanise a large audience into voting. Their reasoning was rooted in previous liberal failures in both the United Kingdom and the United States. In June 2016, despite the idealism, hope and slogan t-shirts, the UK voted to leave the European Union, in a shock victory. This newfound solidarity among right-wing voters strengthened in November 2016, when the US elected Donald J Trump as president. Despite the fashion industry’s best efforts, support from publications, designers, and influencers, wasn’t enough.

“I don’t think people were educated on Brexit. With the Hillary campaign, they pumped a lot of money into the merchandise but nobody was buying this stuff, they were giving it away for free,” said Margaret O’Connor, an Irish milliner. “In Ireland, people reached into their pockets and bought [Repeal merchandise]. It was a union between the people who were tired of Catholic guilt and shame. For me, I was compelled to involve myself not from a fashion standpoint but as a human rights issue. As a conceptual artist and designer, this was my way of expressing myself.”

It’s really easy to brush off fashion as an influencing factor when it’s not your world.  When your day-to-day is politics, it’s easy to see fashion as some frivolous interest or pastime.  However, as has been proven time and time again, fashion is powerful,” said Horan.

Richard Malone AW18 for Twin magazine | Amber Pinkerton

For Richard Malone, a fashion designer from County Wexford and prominent activist, the referendum was about actively involving himself in the campaign stages. He used his platform as an educator in fashion colleges, he engaged in discussions about it with “anyone that will listen about it,” and he staged an event in the window of Selfridge’s with journalist Una Mullally.  “It’s excellent news. I couldn’t have been quiet on [the referendum],” he said about the result when contacted via email. “I’m super proud of everyone involved. We mobilised and made it happen and there’s a lot to be learned from the young people in Ireland, politics matter and we need to get involved.”

It remains to be seen whether fashion designers will reflect this monumental occasion for women’s rights in their work. Malone maintains he will continue to reflect the “strong, bold, independent women” he surrounds himself with. “[The vote] is more of a celebration of them and I’ve always aimed to celebrate women in my work.”

It’s Nice That SS18, Printed Pages

Our friends over at It’s Nice That have just launched their SS18 issue, Printed Pages, and it’s a dream summer read.

This issue’s cover star features Cuban-born illustrator Edel Rodriguez who has created some of the most iconic protest imagery against Trump over the last few years. Alongside the Rodriguez interview are graphic design duo Sagmeister & Walsh, the artists Gilbert and George, pioneer of street photography Joel Meyerowitz, the artist Eddie Peake and New Yorker cartoonist Joost Swarte – amongst others.

Importanly this latest It’s Nice That issue also features an interview with four leading women illustrators who discuss their experience of the creative industries. These are Malika Favre, the French illustrator who has created work for Maison Margiela, the New Yorker and Vanity Fair; Ram Han, whose distinct and colourful illustrations have amassed a loyal following;  Martina Paukova, the Berlin-based illustrator who contributed to the likes of the Guardian, Sunday Times Magazine and Google; and Miranda Tacchia, the artist and animator whose client list includes Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

 

 

I don’t have time for this

This month sees a new exhibition of Hattie Stewart‘s work open at NOW gallery. The London-based artist and illustrator has garnered hype with her ‘doodle bombing’ technique, bringing a a sense of humour and play to a range of magazine covers such as Vogue, i:D and Playboy.

Alongside these re-imagined covers Stewart’s punchy illustrations are cheeky and playful, using bold colours to offer stand out prints. And she has also created work for clients including  MTV, Hunter, House of Holland, Nike, Apple Music, Marc by Marc Jacobs and MAC Cosmetics.

The cultural world is no stranger to Stewart’s maverick approach, which makes the new work on show at this exhibition especially exciting. These new pieces include a large scale, floor-based artwork where visitors can fully escape into Stewart’s world.

This new exhibition at NOW gallery is part of the gallery’s young artist scheme, designed to foster and give a platform to emerging talent with a distinctive aesthetic.

I don’t have time for this by Hattie Stewart is open at NOW Gallery until 25th June 2018.

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Fashion East x Galeria Melissa

In keeping with Galeria Melissa’s reputation for hosting maverick collaborations and guests, the space’s next takeover brings Fashion East’s merry band of designers to the Covent Garden space.

The Fashion East womenswear designers, which includes Supriya Lele, Charlotte Knowles and Asai interpreted Galeria Melissa’s  OPEN VIBES AW18 collection. The video that will preview this evening is the first to be created between Galeria Melissa and Fashion East. Shot with a home video aesthetic, the video offers a low-fi feel that blends the fantasy of fashion with the reality of its process.

This latest collaboration with Fashion East follows Juno Calypso’s unnerving takeover earlier in the year. Expect weird, wacky and wonderful things.

Imagery by Dexter Lander

Imagery by Dexter Lander

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Repeal the 8th Amendment: now is the time for change in Ireland

Ireland. The country famed as the Land of Angela’s Ashes, of Beckett, of Tayto crisps and of one of the oldest documented skeletons. It is also home to one of the most outdated legislations in the Europe.

Twin contributor Isabella Davey explores the realities of the existing abortion laws in Ireland and what the referendum on May 25th could mean for the country’s future. 

Abortion in Ireland is illegal. The only exceptions are if there is a threat to the life of the mother, either medically or through suicide. In any other case there are prosecuting consequences for women who choose to have an abortion through uncontrolled and potentially unsafe methods. Often women have no choice but to put themselves at risk.

On the 25th May, a review of this archaic situation will come into play. The national response to the Referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment will hopefully reflect a modern Ireland of contemporary and democratic values. Repealing the 8th Amendment would see Article 40.3.3 removed from the Irish constitution.

This would then pave the way for legislation that would allow for free, safe and legal abortion procedures for women in the country, and return the right of bodily integrity and self-determination.

Speaking to Hannah Little from London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign on the importance of the referendum:

“No one under the age of 52 has voted on access to abortion in Ireland so this referendum is an overdue opportunity for Irish citizens to have their say. With our #HometoVote campaign, were calling on vote-eligible Irish abroad go home to vote to remove the 8th Amendment. Irish citizens overseas may retain full voting rights for a period of 18 months before the referendum so we’re asking the Irish diaspora to visit our website www.hometovote.com for further information.”

The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act was introduced in 1983 after a referendum that asked Irish people to vote on the State’s abortion laws (which held abortion as illegal) and resulted in a 53.67% majority in favour of the right of the unborn child.

This saw the following amendment entering the country’s law:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

In 20th Century Ireland, this wasn’t the only backward decision shaped by Catholic opinion. There is an alarmingly long list:

Divorce: only made legal in 1996. Contraception, inclusive of condoms: illegal up until 1979, where it was only made legal under doctor’s prescriptions who must be satisfied that the contraceptive is sought for family planning purposes. Condoms: only made legal to purchase in chemists in 1986. Marital rape: legal until 1990 when the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act abolished the clause that stated a husband could not be found guilty of raping his wife. Homosexuality: decriminalised consensual homosexual acts in 1993. These above examples illustrate the extreme delay in civilian rights in Ireland.

The fact that Ireland still serves abortion as a criminal offence only furthers the exasperation: why is Ireland stuck in such a backward law?

 

Ireland lies in a state of polarisation. On the one hand are the old laws, influenced by Catholic State rulings and on the other, a new Ireland that has embraced medical and technological advancements alongside its strengths in the arts. 

The reasons for the necessity of the 8th Amendment to be repealed are globally clear:

The main argument for the necessity is in the fact that the illegality of abortion removes the right of the woman’s own body and the right of choice from the woman. Her body is under the decision of the state, of which has had its laws deeply shaped by allegiance to the Catholic Church.

The secondary argument is that abortion has swiftly moved on from being a clerical abomination to its denial being a severe health risk, mentally, physically and emotionally.

In 2012 Savita Halappanavar died after being denied an emergency termination whilst miscarrying. As a result the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 was brought through. This stated that:

It shall be lawful to carry out a medical procedure in respect of a pregnant woman in accordance with this section in the course of which, or as a result of which, an unborn human life is ended where— (a) a medical practitioner, having examined the pregnant woman, believes in good faith that there is an immediate risk of loss of the woman’s life from a physical illness, (b) the medical procedure is, in his or her reasonable opinion (being an opinion formed in good faith which has regard to the need to preserve unborn human life as far as practicable) immediately necessary in order to save the life of the woman, and (c) the medical procedure is carried out by the medical practitioner.

This ruling extended to include the risk of suicide on the pregnant woman’s behalf, but also enforced a prison sentence of up to 14 years of ‘unlawful abortions’ that don’t adhere to the above exceptions.

Destruction of unborn human life 22. (1) It shall be an offence to intentionally destroy unborn human life. (2) A person who is guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or both.

Considering that the SAVI (Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland) Report of 2002 ratified the distressingly high figures for women below, the survey weighed up the low indictments against female abuse, and the high percentage of Irish females exposed to it:

Women: More than four in ten (42 per cent) of women reported some form of sexual abuse or assault in their lifetime. The most serious form of abuse, penetrative abuse, was experienced by 10 per cent of women. Attempted penetration or contact abuse was experienced by 21 per cent, with a further 10 per cent experiencing non-contact abuse.

If 10% of women in Ireland, based off the study’s figures, are experiencing penetrative sexual assault, this would allow victims of rape who fall pregnant to fall through the cracks of the law, leaving them vulnerable to the state and forced to carry a crisis pregnancy as a result of rape to term of an attacker.

In the X case of 1992, which saw a 14 year old rape victim having her case taken to the Supreme Court, the High Court initially instigated an injunction against her plans to secure an abortion abroad having had suicidal desires.

The X Case brought about the removal of limitation of one’s freedom to travel to secure an abortion, however the case brought through the proposal to remove suicidal desires as legal grounds for an abortion, known as the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1992, which was rejected in a referendum.

In 2002 the Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill, 2002 which further looked to remove threat of suicide as a ground for abortion and increase the penalties for helping a woman have an abortion, held a voting result difference of 0.84% of the population against the amendment passing. That is a controversially low figure for a constitutional amendment imploring further punishment and further removal of medical reasoning.

The question the Referendum raises is about trusting women: trusting them with their bodies and the decisions that they choose to make.

 

In 2010 an Irish woman with terminally ill cancer sued the Irish state for violation of human rights after she had to cease her cancer treatment due to an unplanned pregnancy interfering with her treatment. Her obstetrician in Ireland was left unable to perform an abortion, leaving her arms tied due to the laws in place. The patient had to fly to the UK to secure one, despite her severely ill condition.

Today it is estimated that up to 12 women travel to the UK every day to access abortion clinics.

“Our best chance at winning this referendum is if people are willing to have those ‘tricky conversations’ with family and friends about why this issue is so important and why their vote matters.” Adds Hannah Little. “Abortion is still a very divisive subject, even in countries with less restrictive laws than Ireland. This referendum serves as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take healthcare out of the constitution and legislate for compassionate care for pregnant people in Ireland.”

The right to choose an abortion is one that is a deeply personal decision to many, and one that is not aiming to secure one answer, but give the control of that decision back into the hands of the women who currently have their decisions dictated by the State.

The results of the Referendum on May 25th will hopefully reflect the values of an Ireland ready to shed its past. Should we face a rejection of repealing the 8th Amendment, we will not be just facing a prohibition on our rights, we will be faced with the realisation that Ireland is failing to accept positive progression.

For further information visit Together for Yes and London Irish Arc

Feature image credit: Robbie Lawrence ‘The Road to Tyninghame’ for Twin magazine.

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L.A. Dreams at CFHILL

Bright colours radiate from the CFHILL art space in Stockholm were the exhibition L.A. Dreams is currently showing.

Colourful is the first word that comes to mind when describing the works of art that are on display. A women nonchalantly resting in the bluest water, a Goofy-esk headless body trapped in eternal bridge pose, large paintings of distorted roses and a sculpture of an insanely red apple – all share the space.

The exhibition, curated by Chines Californian curator Melanie Lum, shows the works of six contemporary L.A. based artists : Math Bass, Laren Davis Fischer, AAron Garber-Maikovska, Parker Ito, Becky Kolsrud and Joshua Nathanson. The pieces are different but tied together by an almost naively positive way of tackling the  the dualism of the a fragmented city tormented by pollution, drought and crime city in an almost. Smudging the lines between fantasy and reality with colour.

Images courtesy of CFHILL Art Space

“When we opened the show in April it was still that kind of grey early spring in Stockholm”, says Michael Elmenbeck creative director at CFHILL Art Space. “To fill 800 square meters with all those energetic colours was amazing. Walking into the space was like getting a light therapy shock.”

What’s so special about L.A.?

– Every now and then you get these creative movements from specific cities, take Leipzig for instance. First people discovered Neo Rauch, and then they became interested in what was happening in Leipzig and then ten other artists appeared from that specific city. That’s what’s happening in L.A. right now, except not just in art, but in other creative fields too. It’s an incredibly dynamic city when it comes to tech, music, food, fitness and, since Hedi Slimane brought Saint Laurent to L.A., even fashion. The music and hip hop scene is the most influential and progressive in the U.S. – it’s the same with art.

Images courtesy of CFHILL Art Space

Why do you think that is?

– One reason is that New York has gotten too expensive, it’s impossible for artists to find a studio. And then you have Donald Trump, he’s a New Yorker in every way, many want to get away from that too. So they move to L.A. where there are both studios and a place where different creative expressions co-exist. Most artist work with a broad variety of mediums and expressions, just look at Kanye West or Murakami. And then there’s the L.A. light that you just don’t get anywhere else.

Images courtesy of CFHILL Art Space

For L.A.Dreams you worked together with curator Melanie Lum, how did that collaboration begin?

– We were introduced by a mutual friend who works with Art Basel and we quickly realised that we had the same taste in art. And when I heard that she worked with many of my favorite contemporary artists I just asked her, then and there, if she wanted to do something for CFHILL in Stockholm. We quickly got positive responses from many of the artist, but they are all internationally renowned so it took about a year to put this expansive and well curated exhibition together.

Images courtesy of CFHILL Art Space

What would you say is most special feature in the exhibition?

– Math Bass is an artist that I’ve admired for a long time so it was incredible for me to show her work, but what made it extra special was the fact that we were able to, for the first time ever, show her work together with her partner Lauren’s. But really I think that the mix between these six L.A. artists it the most interesting thing.

L.A.Dreams is showing until May 19th and you can also see Carsten Höller’s work at CFHILL.

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Jennifer Lee is awarded LOEWE Craft Prize 2018

Jennifer Lee has been awarded the LOEWE Craft Prize 2018 for her work Pale, Shadowed Speckled Traces, Fading Elipse, Bronze Specks, Tilted Shelf (2017).

The prize was announced today at a ceremony at London’s Design Museum. A panel of judges including architect Patricia Urquiola and Jonathan Anderson awarded the prize to Lee from 30 finalists.

“Jennifer Lee for me is a landmark in form” commented Jonathan Anderson, who launched the LOEWE Craft Prize last year.

Classic and tranquil, Jennifer Lee’s work embodies a sense of timelessness and transcendence. The ceramic design was created using the ancient technique of pinching and coiling yet the final result speaks to modern minimalism.

Takuro Kuwata also received honourable mention for his porcelain work Tea Bowl (2017), as did Simone Pheulpin for her textile sculpture Croissance XL (XL Growth) (2017). See work from all 30 of the LOEWE Craft Prize finalists here.

The LOEWE Craft Prize exhibition is open at the Design Museum until 13th June 2018. The museum will also host a series of craft talks and workshops. You can find out more information about the events here

 

THEATRE OF THE NATURAL WORLD: An interview with Mark Dion and Iwona Blazwick, Director at Whitechapel Gallery

The nature-culture dualism is central to the work of American artist, Mark Dion. Best known for his immersive sculptures and installations, his work examines how knowledge is gathered, interpreted, classified and presented. For his solo exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, Dion examines our complicated – and conflicted relationship – with the natural world raising questions concerning the culture of nature and the environment. Twin spoke to Mark and The Whitechapel Gallery’s director, Iwona Blazwick to talk about the major exhibition, its curation and the ethical duties of artists and curators.

Thomas Rackowe-Cork (to director IWONA BLAZWICK): What initially drew you to Mark’s work?

IWONA BLAZWICK: I first encountered the work of Mark Dion in a gallery in New York in 1990. Marching across the white cube space was a line of wheelbarrows filled with exotic pot plants and cuddly animal toys. It was called ‘The Wheelbarrows of Progress’. It struck me that here was the legacy of minimalism but infused with narrative, politics and humour.

TRC to curator IWONA BLAZWICK: Can you tell me about the curation for this exhibition? Is there a particular circulation you had in mind for the viewer to experience the exhibition?

IWONA: Mark Dion is a scenographer and explorer.  So, our curatorial approach was to take the viewer on a journey through a series of visual adventures.  The voyage starts with life – 22 zebra finches in their beautiful Library for the Birds – proceeds through an expertly camouflaged yet hostile series of structures made for observation and hunting, through a studio for the contemplation of nature, an uncanny museum display and an archaeological dig; it ends with death in a room of ghosts glowing in the dark.

TRC to artist MARK DION: What drew you to the world of natural history and science as a mode of investigation?

MARK DION: I think one of the things that drew me to the world of natural history is that it is a field where we are asking exciting questions; who are we? Where do we fit into the world? What is the world? How did we get here? Conversely, I find the art museum asks questions of value and aesthetics – areas that were not especially inspiring to me. So, on the other hand, these institutions, such as museums of natural history and ethnography museums, tend to both ask questions and give answers. They turn the viewer into a passive viewer. Whereas the art museum has a very critical view – they don’t expect that you necessarily agree with the work of art. It is almost encouraged that you do not. So, I wanted to bring those two worlds together. But my principle motivation is a kind of love for nature and experiences and it is something that was always a big part of my life growing up and I can’t imagine it ever not being a part of my life. And with growing up in the city, you search for surrogates – you may not be able to get to the mountains every weekend or to the coast. But you can get to the natural history museum or the park.

‘The Library for the Birds of London’ on show in Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World | © Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

TRC: The cabinet of curiosities is a theme that you repeatedly revisit in your practice – could you tell me a little bit more about why that is?

MARK DION: My interest was really in wildlife conservation and biodiversity. That brought me to the museum and then as I became closer to the museum, I became closer to its history for the collections. It was here that I discovered the tradition of the Wunderkabinet, which later peaked my interest in the 16th and 17th century collections. I found these collections really interesting because they contrasted so significantly from the imperial or colonial collections as they were not something of national prominence or filled with ideology. Rather, they are highly individual cosmologies. Though they are undoubtedly related to colonial processes, they are not the colonial museum in the same way. They are as much proto-scientific as they are spaces of magic, religion and superstition. So, that kind of mixture and hybridity, not only of the objects, but of their meaning as well, is important in thinking about how we move forward in terms of museum design – looking to the past and looking to the unexpected way things are put together.

TRC: The nature of a cabinets of curiosity seems to be concerned with collecting and classifying. Do you have a theme in mind when you collecting or making these material objects?

MARK DION: Very often, I go back to their original methodology where you would use an allegorical structure. I think that in trying to reconstruct those you have to also try to put yourself in the head of a maker from that time. So, you are intentionally putting things together that we may not put together today. So, let’s say, if you are using the elements of the seasons and you are putting them together based on the idea of fire, I try to ask myself; what does that necessarily mean? So, I find that really exciting.

TRC: So, you do not approach the curation of these cabinets thematically – could say then the curation is more intuitive?

MARK DION: Well I’m thinking about the themes that would exist in a historical setting and trying to mirror or refresh those. So, I am constantly thinking about their allegories. Very often, I look back at young Bruegel paintings, for instance, or something like that as a way of imagining what does the allegorical air look like?

Mark Dion ‘World in a Box’, 2015 | image courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery

TRC to IWONA BLAZWICK: The cabinets of curiosities are already curated in a way – how do you go about curating the cabinets themselves?

IWONA: The artist makes his own cabinets of curiosity – our role is to immerse our visitors in them, encouraging them to act as detectives searching for the myriad clues embedded in Dion’s assemblages, drawings and wallpapers.

TRC to MARK DION: From the sort of themes that you are looking at; what are some of the most fascinating objects you’ve found over the years?

MARK DION: There are always found objects that you pull out of rivers and one of the most interesting things about creating pieces for this exhibition was that I was working with people that were not trained as archaeologists or artists. It was interesting to see how some of which had a very accentuated search image. Whilst others had a really difficult time just seeing. As for me, one of the most exciting things we found were those traditional objects that you embellish with cultural artefacts. For example, you may have a whale’s tooth and surround it with silver and engrave on it. The opposite of that might be a cultural object that is traced with worm tracings or oyster shells or slipper shells and things like that. Things that articulate that opposite. In many cases, I found it interesting that many of the young people working on these projects were entirely unable to tell the difference between a rock of flint and a cultural object. To them, it seemed unfathomable that a piece flint, for example, was not human made because the natural world just does not make something that strange. So, these things that articulate the natural affecting the artificial I see as bookending the cabinet of curiosities and accentuating the natural with the artificial.

TRC: Following on from that, do you think our relationship to a found object changes when placed behind glass?

MARK DION: Oh, absolutely. It changes over a period of time. For example, an artist like Robert Rauschenberg might find a glue into a collage a newspaper cutting from his day in 1953. Suddenly, today that is a very exotic newspaper, with a different time sensibility, and different make up. So, not only do they change by this process of becoming “museum-ified” but they also change dramatically just by getting a little bit older. Even with things here in the Thames Cabinet from the dig in 1999 here in the exhibition, someone was looking at them yesterday saying “Oh! SunnyDelight – does that still exist?”

TRC: Do you think that these found object lose some agency when they are placed in this context?

MARK DION: I do not think they loose agency. In fact, I think that they gain some agency, or the viewer gains some agency because they begin to see themselves in this context. What is important for me about the Tate Thames Dig (1999) is that people find themselves in it. It is not this notion that history happens to someone else, sometime ago. Rather, it is a continuity that is inclusive. We find ourselves in that, which also implies that this history goes beyond us. One of the most difficult things we face as a society, is this ability to imagine things going on beyond us. I feel that is why many seem not to care about leaving behind a mess.

Mark Dion exhibition | courtesy Kunstraum Dornbirn

TRC: Yes, it is incredibly hard to fathom the sort of everlasting element of material objects… the idea that things can live beyond us…

MARK DION: Absolutely. We are just a point in the continuum. And so that is sort of my real agenda with these pieces to emphasise this notion of a continuum. For that to happen, the viewer has to find something that they have touched, something that they know or are familiar with.

TRC: I sort of felt a sense of nostalgia whilst walking around the exhibition – would you say that this feeling or emotion plays a somewhat central role in your work?

MARK DION: I am always trying to guard against nostalgia. But at the same time, I think that I certainly have an affinity to materials that are well-made – that are crafted in leather and wood rather than in plastic. At the same time, I try to police myself against this golden ageing. It is the curse of nostalgia to imagine the past is somehow a purer, a better or a more superior time, which it clearly was not at least it was not for many of us. It would always feel artificial, for example, to place a laptop into a study of surrealism. I mean, that is not a good example, because the piece Bureau of the Centre for the Study of Surrealism and its Legacy (2005) in this exhibition is a period piece that is meant to be a 1923 office.

TRC: Is there a hope to achieve anything by bringing these things back to the surface?

MARK DION: I want to cultivate the viewer who is more cautious and sophisticated. But at the same I want to be critical and to that you have to be affirmative. That is to say, to affirm people’s world views so you don’t feel entirely isolated – that you’re not the only one on the right road.

TRC: How do you think artists and have ethical duty or responsibility to bring certain issues to the surface?

MARK DION: I would not want to be prescriptive, but for me it is important. I mean, otherwise I wouldn’t really understand what the point of making are would be. I could understand why someone would want to make work as a self-expressive gesture, but I just do not understand why they would think an audience would only need to see that. I am interested in artists who are not afraid to have a didactic aspect to their work. Who are not afraid to say something and to have a position. That is the kind of art I like. So, I am not afraid to make that kind of art myself. At the same time, we have to face a lot of this stuff in society anyway, which is not particularly successful in terms of messaging. So, I wonder how to do that with complexity. I think for me, humour is part of the way to do that and also just trying to do things really well that builds a confidence in the viewer that is worth engaging with. 

TRC: How do you think curators have ethical duty or responsibility to bring certain issues to the surface? Here for instance, the conservation of the environment.

IWONA BLAZWICK: The curatorial mission changes according to its institutional and social context. For us at the Whitechapel Gallery we are dedicated to offering a platform for contemporary artists – and they don’t have a duty to comment on issues.  While World War II raged about him Morandi just continued to paint bottles. He is nonetheless a great artist. However, an artist like Mark Dion is exciting because he is able to respond to the environmental crisis in a way which combines ethics with aesthetics.  He has spoken of his despair at our indifference to the fate of our planet – but I see this exhibition as being full of hope, making us reflect on our relations with other species while rekindling our sense of awe at the natural world.

 

Mark Dion ‘Theatre of the Natural World’ is on at the Whitechapel Gallery in London until 13th May 2018. 

Featured image credit: Mark Dion in the rainforest of Guyana | Photo by Bob Braine, courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery

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Three Cities, an exhibition of new photographs by Niall O’Brien

The Sid Motion Gallery in London celebrates the work of Irish photographer Niall O’Brien in a new exhibition that opens this week.

O’Brien spent six months documenting the area around Silicon Valley, observing the contradictions and contrasts within the landscape and social structure.

“This was one of the most expensive places to live in the US, and it was kind of bland.” Says O’Brien. “It was full of the most cutting edge technology, yet the aesthetic had been forgotten. Cars and highways were all you could hear. There was nothing beautiful about the place – except the mountains that surrounded it, and the nature that persevered to appear in the least expected places.”

Niall O’Brien photograph from ‘Three Cities’ exhibition at Sid Motion Gallery

The photographer documented area around the seven-mile long Bascom Avenue every day, at the same time. The result is a atmospheric collection. The inequalities of wealth underscore the absurdity of the area, where these disparities exist side by side. Meanwhile the natural world offers another contrast. Niall O’Brien’s photographs ensure that perspective is given and that the hyper-intense tech world is rendered against the wider, ephemeral environment.

Niall O’Brien photograph from ‘Three Cities’ exhibition at Sid Motion Gallery

During his time in Bascom Avenue O’Brien bonded with two individuals, Blake and Dana. The exhibition portrays their daily lives, capturing their routines and rituals. The images are candid and intimate, conveying the friendship and trust between O’Brien and his subjects.

Niall O’Brien photograph from ‘Three Cities’ exhibition at Sid Motion Gallery

Together the portraits of people and the natural environment that they live vividly conjure the microcosms of this world. Don’t miss.

Niall O’Brien photograph from ‘Three Cities’ exhibition at Sid Motion Gallery

‘Three Cities’ An exhibition of new photographs by Niall O’Brien at Sid Motion Gallery in London April 26th – May 26th, 2018. 

Niall O’Brien photograph from ‘Three Cities’ exhibition at Sid Motion Gallery

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New African Photography III

Following the success of previous collaborations between Nataal and Red Hook Labs, Nataal curates an exhibition of some of most exciting image-makers documenting modern Africa in a new exhibition. New African Photography III opens at the Brooklyn space in May.

The new exhibition will showcase the work of six female artists: Fatoumata Diabaté (Mali), Rahima Gambo (Nigeria), Keyezua (Angola), Alice Mann (South Africa), Ronan McKenzie (UK) and Ruth Ossai (UK/Nigeria).

Together these works celebrate female identity and diversity, offering an empowered and positive vision. A sense of energy is conveyed through the celebration of movement and the use of powerful juxtapositions – both in terms of colour and of form.

The event also coincides with the launch of Nataal’s first print issue. The website and magazine work as a platform to champion creativity and culture in Africa. You can find out more here.

Alice Mann, Dr Van Der Ross Drummies, Delft, South Africa, 2017, from the series Drummies

Ruth Ossai X Mowalao

Fatoumata Diabaté, Kara et ses oreilles, 2012, from the series L_homme en Animal

Sailing Back to Africa as a Dutch Woman, 2017, from the series Fortia

Nataal: New African Photography III, 4th – 13th May, Red Hook Labs, 133 Imlay St, Brooklyn, New York. Opening times: 10am-6pm daily. 

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