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Remember me when I’m gone

08.12.2017 | Art | BY:

Alex Franco’s exhibition, “Remember me when I’m gone” debuted on Friday 1st December at Crea Center Polivalent in Barcelona, with a second showing at Unit 10 Gallery on Tuesday the 5th of December.

The works are a response to the refugee crisis, and were taken at The Jungle in Calais across several trips over a period of eighteen months. The images explore the context of displacement, while striving to shine a light on a problem that remains unresolved.

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You may have seen pictures from The Jungle in the news. The shabby, temporary constructions became a place of refuge for those who had fled their homes, arriving in Calais only to be displaced again, and shoved to the margins of our system. After The Jungle expanded to house almost 10,000 inhabitants in a period of eighteen months, the French government destroyed it and expelled the refugees, forcing them to leave, separate and relocate. The interest in this problem has dwindled, given less and less media attention, as onlookers delude themselves that the problem no longer exists as the structure has been dismantled. But despite its changing physicality, The Jungle continues to exist just as it did before its demise, only in a different, dispersed form. Through his photos, Alex Franco encourages his audience to consider where all these refugees are now, and whether they have been given the chance at a new home and life that they deserve.

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All work is for sale and proceeds will be donated to Help Refugees.

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Twin meets winner of the Film London Jarman Award, Oreet Ashery, and nominees Adham Faramway and Marianna Simnett

21.11.2017 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

Now in its tenth year, the winner of The Jarman Award was announced at Whitechapel Gallery on the 20th November. This year saw Oreet Ashery take home the prize, receiving £10,000 to develop her projects which consider gender and society with the support from Channel 4.

The award recognises artists working with moving image, celebrating and supporting experimental, imaginative and innovative UK-based work. The Jarman Award is named after legendary experimental director and cinematographer Derek Jarman.

Twin spoke to winner Oreet Ashery along with Adham Faramway and Marianna Simnett – both shortlisted for the award.

Adham Faramway’s work draws on the language of advertising and combines it with the transgressive aesthetics of ‘body horror’, Oreet Ashery is an interdisciplinary artist who confronts ideological, social and gender constructions, while Marianna Simnett surgically lowered her own voice with botox during her short film The Needle and the Larynx, which screened on Sunday. Together they represent some of the most exciting filmmakers on the scene today.

Twin meets Oreet Ashery

 

Why did you choose the web series format for your film Revisiting Genesis?

My work always reaches beyond the structure of the contemporary art institution, but this is my first major work created specifically for the internet so that it can be freely accessible to as wide an audience as possible. I was inspired by the independent filmmaking of web series’ such as F to 7, and wanted to develop my own approach to the genre as a visual artist. Revisiting Genesis aims to conceptually expand the entertaining and narrative driven elements of the format. One of the central questions explored in the work is around what happens to your online digital content (websites, social media profiles, photographs etc) after you die, and as such the internet provides an appropriate platform for the work.

How does Revisiting Genesis force viewers to consider their own mortality and their online legacies?

Hopefully it makes them think and contemplate whether they want to put anything in place in preparation for death (expected and unexpected) and if so what and how.

How does the film expand on some of the key ideas you have been exploring in your practice?

The film expands on the notion of a potential community, in the real sense that most of the people in the work know each other from the art and  performance  world. The fictional narrative speaks about a community of friends, outside normative family structures, that come together to help Genesis. I think a lot about how we can structure our busy lives  so we can have space to help a friend if needed.  The other issue that comes up in the film is the loss of social structures, such as the community college Charles Keene in Leicester, it was the first place I felt a sense of belonging as a young immigrant to the UK in the late 80s. the College has been demolished in 2010 and has been amalgamated to a multi campus university, as is the faith of most community colleges. After the films I received great emails from people who were outsiders and use to go there and achieved so much in their lives since.  The emails mentioned what an important role this college played in their development. The other aspect, and there are many, is the  idea of one’s identity or the narration of one’s life, in this film I’ve expanded this notion to the afterlife.

What do you hope viewers will take away from Revisiting Genesis?

I have no expectations as such. What I always hope people well take away from my work is something that lingers, that is not easy and that makes them think.

Twin meets Adham Faramawy

Where does the title of your film, Janus Collapse, come from?

The time that I was working on the video that’s shortlisted for the Jarman award was both personally and politically pretty unstable. I was recovering from a minor a road accident and

TV and social media were (and still are!) saturated with adverts and disaster politics. I was kind of trapped at home, looking at this stuff, reading sci-fi and feeling introspective. I had to think through some things while researching for the show at Bluecoat in Liverpool. Where the piece would first

be seen. I wanted to think through this instability, to think as an image-maker about how images are used to introduce and reinforce certain ideas. I wanted to examine the ways that images are disseminated and to consider what effect that has on me personally and whether it affected how I was thinking about my body.

The Janus is the two faced Roman god of doorways and transition. I decided to use his image as something to hang this examination of instability on, while casting the idea of a collapse as something generative, the possibility of the collapse of an image.

How does the film subvert tropes that are used in advertising?

In a way I consider almost all my output as a kind of contamination of aesthetic categories. I feel uncomfortable with hierarchies and I just don’t like being told who I am or what to do, so my interest in advertising is in a sense symptomatic of that sense of always wanting to investigate

and push back. The way that I’ve been investigating commercial images is to try to inhabit them, mimic them, intensify and distort certain aspects until they no longer possess a commercial potential.

When did you start incorporating the ‘body horror’ genre into your work?

Writer Jamie Sutcliffe pointed it out to me in an interview! He said, “We see a pair of hands moisturizing with a digitally enhanced, absurd and all-consuming slime. It’s a quick slip from Evian commercial to a kind of Cronenbergian symbiosis.”At that point I started looking for body horror in adverts and realized that images of melting teenagers were being used to sell pizza and escaped tongues were being used to sell beer.

It was Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy that introduced me to the idea of body horror as one facet of a potentially holistic, tender, nurturing, non-binary sexual experience.

What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?

I hope that viewers take away a feeling complicated and queasy enough to highlight the operative mechanisms of the image they’ve just ingested.

Twin meets Marianna Simnett

The Needle and the Larynx was screened on Sunday – what was the inspiration behind that film?

A sudden, terrible urge to lower my voice, a fascination with toxins and hypodermic needles, and a desire to warp my experience into a fable.

Why is it important for you to put yourself into your work, and to test the limits of your own body?

I can take risks with my own body I wouldn’t take with others. It’s my go-to tool for telling stories, and helps me to live out my ideas and not just think about them. At best, my work might prompt someone to cup their genitals or necks, as if to check they are materially, unmistakably present. That liminal space between being a thing or a someone, and then morphing or falling apart – I’m hooked on those moments.

You have often explored the gendered implications of voice and masochism, what draws you to these themes?

I’m interested in appropriating and spoiling archetypes, especially when it comes to the final binary constraints of heteronormativity. Pitch, tone, timbre and accent have implications on social bodies and their right to exist in one place and not another. Voices (often disembodied) in my work battle patriarchy and madness. Masochism is a submission to fantasy.

 

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Watch This Space: An Exploration of the Object that has Become an Extension of our Modern Bodies

08.11.2017 | Blog , Culture | BY:

Watch This Space is a book that examines our relationships with our screens, ‘the defining object of the twenty-first century’. A limited edition collaboration between writer, editor and curator Francesca Gavin, and Pentagram partners Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell, the book questions the function of our screens, and how they shape our everyday experience. Watch This Space provides an in-depth analysis of the object that has become an extension of our modern bodies, looking at the impact of screens on society, culture and the self.

The book includes the work of almost 50 contributors, including Yuri Pattinson, winner of the 2016 Frieze Art Award, conceptual documentary photographer Richard Mosse, and artist and director Margot Bowman. It has been produced by Pentagram, an independently owned multidisciplinary design studio with offices across Europe and the United States.

The design of the book actually reflects the subject matter, with the material used on the cover replicating the physical feel of a screen. Inside, pages are printed using Vivid Colour, a new five colour process that adds violet to CMYK, combined with stochastic imaging, which creates a near photographic definition image.

The book launches on November 8th at Tenderbooks in Leicester Square.

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Kate Neave curates: Poem of the Pillow, Frameless Gallery in Clerkenwell Green

19.10.2017 | Art | BY:

Open from the 25th October to the 4th November, Poem of the Pillow is an exhibition that readdresses a patriarchal past from a female perspective, by incorporating elements of art history.

Helmed by artists Beatrice Lettice Boyle and Jessie Makinson, the collection of works also brings forth tropes of Shunga, the historic Japanese art of erotic prints. Shunga depicts explicit erotic illustrations on woodblock prints, which are frequently tender and humorous, and historically intended for both men and women of all classes to enjoy. In this egalitarian art form, women are not passive spectators or permission givers, but are active participants in the sexual encounters.

As is the way in Shunga, Boyle and Makinson give women agency in their work. Their figures hold sexual power and disrupt societal standards and expectations. Using feminine references unapologetically, their artworks embody confident contemporary feminist practices.

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Azadi(Independence) by Khanwal Dhawali_Image courtesy of the artist

Nasty Women UK

22.09.2017 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

This weekend, Stour Space in Hackney Wick will be transformed into a free art exhibition, packed with talks, comedy shows, DJ sets and spoken word performances, as well as live music and workshops. Alongside these creative events, there will be artwork on sale, with all proceeds going towards End Violence Against Women

The event is being put on as part of the Nasty Women global art movement, which began in New York to increase awareness for women’s rights, using art to channel freedom of speech and self-expression. The organisation brings together people of all genders, races, faiths and LGBTQIA identities, and its name comes from a comment Donald Trump made about Hilary Clinton during a televised debate. It has since become a rallying call for women who are standing up against misogyny and gender inequality.

Eat Cake Like a Boss by Rachael Rebus_Image courtesy of the artist

Eat Cake Like a Boss by Rachael Rebus_Image courtesy of the artist

Taking place across the weekend of the 23rd and 24th September, the multidisciplinary exhibition employs a variety of different art forms, including sculpture, street art, ceramics, and an immersive art installation in which visitors can create their own virtual artwork. Virtual Reality is a recurring theme throughout the exhibition, with other spaces recreating instances of street harassment and everyday sexism using VR, to give a visceral understanding of what those experiences are like.

Famed comedian Ava Vidal will be taking to the stage over the weekend, along with spoken word artists Salena Godden and Joelle Taylor. Included amongst those who have donated their work are experimental ceramicist Carrie Reichardt, and Louisa Johnson, the great granddaughter of Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. One of Johnson’s donated items is a handwritten letter by Pankhurst herself, written during her stay at Holloway Prison.

Fuck Washing Up_by Stacey Guthrie_Image courtesy of the artist

Fuck Washing Up_by Stacey Guthrie_Image courtesy of the artist

Nasty Women will be open on Saturday 23rd September and Sunday 24th September, from 9am until late, at Stour Space in Hackney Wick. http://www.nastywomenuk.com/

 

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Lina Iris Viktor, Dark Continent No. XVII _ The exaltations before time. She... , Acrylic, Ink, Print on Cotton Rag Paper, 1_3, 2017

“A black and gold chapel, of sorts”: Artist Lina Viktor presents her fictional dystopia

08.09.2017 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

From the 12th September to the 20th October, Amar Gallery in London will host Lina Iris Viktor’s first solo exhibition in the UK. Of British and Liberian heritage, Viktor explores narratives surrounding race and the African diaspora in her work.

Black Exodus brings together both new and existing abstract works, which have been made using Viktor’s trademark black and gold colour palette. This exhibition marks the first ‘Act’ in an evolving series for the artist, which reimagines artistic and socio-political definitions of blackness. Twin spoke to Viktor about the implications of her two-tone colour palate, and the exhibition’s roots in a mythologised dystopia where the black race no longer exists.

Black Exodus is based on a mythologised dystopia, where the black race has been extinguished. How do these works respond to that theoretical future?

These works are not literal interpretations of this theoretical concept, but rather investigatory visualisations that are very abstracted; the entire idea is completely abstract, though it may bare historical significance and relevance. My work has always been driven by concept. Whether or not I have chosen to clearly express the driving force, the conceptual narrative is central to the development of a body of work. On this occasion, I believed the concept was imperative to share when reading the work. However, these concepts are and never should be constricting. 

All of my work is essentially a continual experiment – with concept, colour, and material stripping away all that is nonessential. The idea of a dystopic world where the black race no longer exists was conceived to illustrate how integral and essential the black race has and will always be to the development of humanity. It is more of an idea to keep in mind while viewing the work rather than a signifier that is sought through the work. The black in the work and the surrounding space is allegorical – as are all the hues, resonances, and finishes of black that are incorporated. Black is source: without it we all would cease to exist (as would light), so even theoretically it is an impossibility. But it is an interesting future to contemplate – especially with all that continues to be done to stymie the progress of those that belong to the African diaspora globally. It is our daily reality. I simply pose the question of a future without the black race, for the viewers’ contemplation rather than mine. I hope the works can further elaborate that question. 

Lina Iris Viktor, Constellations III, Pure 24 Karat Gold, Acrylic, Gouache, Print on Matte Canvas 2016, Unique, courtesy the artist and Amar Gallery, London

Lina Iris Viktor, Constellations III, Pure 24 Karat Gold, Acrylic, Gouache, Print on Matte Canvas 2016, Unique, courtesy the artist and Amar Gallery, London

Your colour palette for Black Exodus exclusively uses black and gold. What are the associations of those colours for you?

These are mainstays in my artist palette, which has always been very specific and focused. The departure into an entire body of works within this even more restricted palette was about stripping away all of the nonessential, and also seeing how far I could stretch and push these contrasting extremes into a series of unified works within a unified space. In my practice, black is a value – one polar extreme of the colour spectrum; it represents the full absorption of light within the colour spectrum and it contains all colours. Therefore it is completely saturated and colour-full. Gold is the closest to a godly metal one can find. Revered since its discovery, previous civilizations have likened it to the sun – a bearer of light – the immortal metal that will never tarnish, fade, or rust. Both black and gold hold light in very different frequencies and resonances; gold shines in the dark and requires very low-lit conditions to illuminate. In this exhibition, the gold imbued in light depicts the interconnectedness and interdependency of light to dark and vice versa. Both are required to appreciate the other. 

This exhibition marks the first Act in an evolving series for you. How do you see the series developing?

I am already planning Act II for next year, and it will take the form of next solo show in New York. I grew up acting and in theatre, and I view each solo exhibition as a continuum, an intervention or revolt that is staged to counter what we have all been taught. This Act is called ‘Materia Prima’, meaning ‘first matter’, so it deals with the concepts expressed on a universal and primitive level through abstraction and limited palette. It addresses the relationship of light to dark, absence and presence et al. The next act will be an evolution from that, and it will be more topical and less abstracted. Essentially it will be the next chapter in my exodus story. 

Lina Iris Viktor, Black Union Pure 24 Karat Gold, Acrylic, Charcoal, Poly Resin, Wood on Fabric 2017. Unique, courtesy the artist and Amar Gallery, London

Lina Iris Viktor, Black Union Pure 24 Karat Gold, Acrylic, Charcoal, Poly Resin, Wood on Fabric 2017. Unique, courtesy the artist and Amar Gallery, London

How does this body of work depart from your previous collections?

I feel like all of my work is just a continued conversation that builds on the previous – each one poses more questions, and pushes me further technically and conceptually. But really, every artist only has a few good ideas that they delve deeper and deeper into over time. No matter how varied the work may appear, I have found that the core thesis is usually very consistent; they are essentially the questions you have been asking since you were born that you have yet to resolve. 

This work is more complete as it is a suite of paintings, and it utilizes different creative processes to produce each – many processes that were experimental and will most likely be refined over time. I have become more open to the experimental aspect of work production – creating with less of a determined outcome. 

Can you tell me a little bit about your artistic process?

A great deal of thinking and planning before execution. The execution happens quickly, but the preparation can take an age. 

Lina Iris Viktor, Dark Continent No. XX _ A prophecy. And the scramble began . . . Acrylic, Ink, Print on Cotton Rag Paper _ 1 of 3 _ 2017, courtesy the artist and Amar Gallery, London

Lina Iris Viktor, Dark Continent No. XX _ A prophecy. And the scramble began . . . Acrylic, Ink, Print on Cotton Rag Paper _ 1 of 3 _ 2017, courtesy the artist and Amar Gallery, London

How does your work unite materials and methods from both contemporary and ancient art forms?

I gild with 24-karat gold, which is an ancient practice that I have modernized for my usage. I gild on a variety of substrates and materials that are not conventional within traditional gilding practices.  

What do you hope people will take away from this exhibition?

I hope that it is somewhat of a visual assault, a slight overload for the senses in simple complexity. The works are very dense and the space is also limited, adding to the visual barrage. I want people to enjoy it on an aesthetic level, as well as really contemplate this theoretical concept when viewing the work. I just want them to hold that idea in their head and think about the implications. I believe anyone open enough to view my work will also be open enough to ponder this fictional dystopia. The space will be built to be one of contemplation – a black & gold chapel of sorts. 

Lina Iris Viktor’s first solo UK show, Black Exodus: Act I, will be on display at the Amar Gallery in London from September 12 to October 20 amargallery.com 

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Reggie Blennerhassett, Outside London Lesbian and Gay Centre, early 1980s | © Reggie Blennerhassett. Courtesy the artist

Love Happens Here: celebrating the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality

09.07.2017 | Art , Culture | BY:

‘Love Happens Here’ is a commemorative exhibition that celebrates the historic struggle of the LBGTIQI movement. Presented by The Photographer’s Gallery off-site at City Hall, the exhibition displays a range of visual perspectives from London’s LBGTIQI community.

Constructed to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, ‘Love Happens Here’ tracks the progression towards equality for the LBGTIQI community, since the milestone legislation was first introduced in 1967.

Emily Rose England, Inside London’s Enduring Queer Club Scene, 2016 | © Emily Rose England. Courtesy the artist

Emily Rose England, Inside London’s Enduring Queer Club Scene, 2016 | © Emily Rose England. Courtesy the artist

Included in the exhibition are works by prolific arts editor Ian David Baker, who worked for several gay magazines in the 1980s, and who documents early Pride parades through his black and white photographs. Reggie Blennerhassett provides intimate snapshots from the Greater London Council’s Lesbian and Gay Centre, allowing a candid insight into the Labour funded space, which was founded in 1984. Emily Rose England, who is both a photographer and an organiser for club night Sassitude, explores the currency of London’s vibrant clubbing scene.

Ian David Baker, Pride, 1980 | © Ian David Baker. Courtesy the artist

Ian David Baker, Pride, 1980 | © Ian David Baker. Courtesy the artist

Curated by Karen McQuaid for London Mayor Sadiq Khan, every aspect of the exhibition has been designed to reflect the work of the LBGTIQI community. This includes the font, which is appropriately Gilbert, and commemorates Gilbert Baker, the artist, gay rights activist and designer of the iconic rainbow flag in 1978. Gilbert passed away earlier this year, and the font was created in his honour.

Emily Rose England, Inside London’s Enduring Queer Club Scene, 2016 | © Emily Rose England. Courtesy the artist

Emily Rose England, Inside London’s Enduring Queer Club Scene, 2016 | © Emily Rose England. Courtesy the artist

Other works on display are portraits by Anthony Luvera, Kate Elliott and Tania Olive, who each address gender, sexual identity and global politics through their studies of Londoners from the LGBTIQI community.

 

‘Love Happens Here’ will be on display at City Hall until 28th July.

 

(Title image credit: Reggie Blennerhassett, Outside London Lesbian and Gay Centre, early 1980s | © Reggie Blennerhassett. Courtesy the artist)

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The Female Japanese Photographers to Watch

18.06.2017 | Art | BY:

Until early July, IBASHO Gallery in Antwerp will host the works of twelve young female photographers from Japan. IBASHO means ‘a place where you can be yourself’ in Japanese, and the gallery consistently displays stunning Japanese photography in its many forms.

The title of this show is ‘Female Force from Japan’, and it includes photographs from an array of young female artists, with images ranging from the raw and unpolished, to the minimalist and still.

Kumi Oguro, 'Drift' 2015

Kumi Oguro, ‘Drift’ 2015

The exhibition will display selected images from artist Yukari Chikura’s series ‘Fluorite Fantasia’, a very personal body of work that deals with the death of her father. Photographer Mikoko Hara presents a selection of her square-formatted photographs, all taken without using a viewfinder, and London-based photographer Akiko Takizawa exhibits images that use the 150-year-old Collotype printing process, which originated in France. Other artists included in the exhibition are Haromi Kakimoto, whose crisp images falter between our everyday lives and our dream worlds, and Mika Nitadori, whose artistic focus is on human interaction.

Mika Horie, 'Spring Dragon' 2016

Mika Horie, ‘Spring Dragon’ 2016

The varied and compelling nature of the works are tied together by both the artists’ gender and national identity. And with works by Western photographers who have been inspired by Japan also on display, this exhibition at IBASHO ensures a complete survey of the exciting work coming out of the country, and its wider ramifications for contemporary culture on the international stage. 

Reiko Imoto, 'Parallelism' 2000

Reiko Imoto, ‘Parallelism’ 2000

‘Female Force from Japan’ will show at IBASHO Gallery in Antwerp until 2nd July

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Explore new designers at In-Neoss pop up shop

09.06.2017 | Fashion | BY:

Sustainable fashion brand NEOSS will house the inNeoss pop-up shop in Hackney Road this June, bringing together designs and publications from a number of emerging brands. Participants include sustainable clothing line ELLISS, Edie Campbell’s label Itchy Scratchy Patchy, the bold and fearless Clio Peppiatt, denim brand I AND ME, and season-less, unisex clothes from Bonnie Fechter, as well as many others.

I AND ME

I AND ME

The pop-up is a non-profit project for NEOSS, and all money made will go back into the store, which will then be taken around the country, cropping up in carefully selected cities throughout the UK. The initiative is intended to bring attention and profit to these young designers within a conventional store setting.

Keep your eyes peeled for special in-store events every Thursday of the month, this is a fashionable pop-up you don’t want to miss. 

inNEOSS will be open from the 3rd to the 30th June between 10am and 7pm June at  205 Hackney Road.

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Ella Kruglyanskaya, Drawing of Lounging Woman in Straw Hat, 2015, Oil on linen, 53.3 x 58.4 cm, Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Celebrating tradition and championing the future: ’31 Women’ is back

29.05.2017 | Art | BY:

In 1943, art collector Peggy Guggenheim hosted the ground-breaking ’31 Women’ exhibition at her New York Gallery, lending a platform to female artists who hailed from the contemporary worlds of surrealism and abstract expressionism. From the 2nd June, Breese Little Gallery will present a sequel to this pioneering exhibition, tracing this group of female artists from the 1940s up to the present day, and including works by successive generations of female surrealists and abstract expressionists.

We spoke to Director Josephine Breese, to find out about the relevance of this exhibition today, and the themes that are highlighted by these dual genres. 

What drew you to Peggy Guggenheim’s 1943 exhibition and why did you decide to bring it into the present day?

Our exhibition channels the celebratory spirit of the original concept, at an appropriate moment to revisit the relevance of Guggenheim’s all female show. While the format of 31 women artists was unusual for its time in 1943, the exhibition was presented without extra fanfare, in step with the courage of many of Guggenheim’s avant-garde decisions. This provided a prominent platform for Guggenheim’s circle, incorporating artists such as Dorothea Tanning, Louise Nevelson, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington and Meret Oppenheim.

RACHEL WHITEREAD. STEP 2007 | Photo credit: Mike Bruce

RACHEL WHITEREAD. STEP 2007 | Photo credit: Mike Bruce

How does 31 Women at Breese Little differ from the exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim’s Gallery in 1943?

We adopted a starting point of the dual strands of abstraction and surrealism, in the ascendance of 1940s New York, alongside the additional framework of the British connection that is shared by the participating artists. These themes are developed through subsequent generations, represented by contributions from the 1940s to the present day, from early British modernists to iconic female artists of the 60s and 70s.

What techniques do the artists use to convey these themes?

An advantage of having 31 participating artists is the breadth of different materials used! A brief overview includes ripped canvas, bark, steel, latex, resin, jesmonite, and a handwritten letter by Tracey Emin.

Why did you feel that it was important to put on an exhibition using only female artists?

The benefit of an exclusively female context is that it can be considered from multiple perspectives, and we are particularly drawn to its capacity as an open forum for discussion between the work on show as well as its timing. The exhibition concept met with enthusiasm from artists and galleries involved from its early planning stages, indicating the confidence and place for shows of its kind at this moment.

Eileen Agar, Fighter Pilot, 1940

Eileen Agar, Fighter Pilot, 1940

Are there any works in the collection that particularly stand out to you?

31 Women is composed of a wonderful and wide spectrum of contributions, which chart a loose introduction to the timespan and production from the 1930s – 2017. Claude in Gillian’s Shadow (2017) is Gillian Wearing’s testament to this legacy. The small silver gelatin print was made shortly before her exhibition with Claude Cahun at The National Portrait gallery, and revisits a 1938 self-portrait by Cahun. Likewise, Katie Schwab recognises the history of modernist making processes that are often traditionally ascribed to female practitioners. Schwab’s compact ceramic composite from the recent Leftovers series, anticipates the research she is currently undertaking on the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Residency at Porthmeor Studios in St Ives.

’31 Women’ will be on display at Breese Little Gallery from June 2nd until 31st July 2017.

Featured image credit: Ella Kruglyanskaya, Drawing of Lounging Woman in Straw Hat, 2015, Oil on linen, 53.3 x 58.4 cm, Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Featured image: work by Pawel Althamer

“We can see his bones underneath his flayed skin.”

03.05.2017 | Art , Blog | BY:

The ISelf Collection: Self Portrait as the Billy Goat is part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s program that displays rarely seen collections from around the world. The collection features twenty-five pieces from international artists, incorporating works by Cindy Sherman, Louise Bourgeouis and Tracey Emin, among many others. This is the first segment of the four-part show, which will explore the notion of self in terms of our identity as an individual, in relation to others, to society, and as part of the wider world. Through surrealist selfies and self-portraiture, the pieces in this chapter reveal how artists stage their own bodies or self-reflections, to examine how we build our sense of personal identity.

Among the works is Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets, part of an ongoing series of white paintings that explore the inner workings of her mind, as well as Prem Sahib’s Undetectable sculpture of an AIDS test, and Pawel Althamer’s self-portrait The Thinker, in which he is represented as a Billy Goat, and from which the collection took its name. Each piece is a self-portrait, exploring physical, psychological and imaginary dealings with our selves. We spoke to curator Emily Butler to find out more about the collection.

Why did you want to have this collection at the Whitechapel Gallery? 

This is the first public display of the ISelf Collection and it is part of our program of introducing intriguing and important collections to the public. The collection was established in 2009 by Maria and Malek Sukkar and it uses painting, sculpture and photography to explore the human condition. It looks at themes of birth, death, sexuality, love and pain and includes works by major international artists. We are also interested in revealing the collection’s wide geographic range, which includes works by artists from the Middle East and Latin America, and its strong focus on women and figuration.

Why was the collection named after the piece ‘Self-portrait as the Billy Goat’?

The first display of the ISelf Collection is named after one of the works in the show, a melancholic 2011 portrait of the artist Pawel Althamer in the guise of Auguste Rodin’s Thinker, with the additional twist that he is also representing himself as a flayed Billy Goat. The show itself focuses on self-portraiture, and the different ways that artists choose to represent themselves in various media. Here the artist chooses to show himself not as a perfect idealized thinking man, embodied by Rodin’s sculpture, but as an emotional individual, who feels sad as a scapegoat figure inspiring ridicule, or who feels weak, as we can see his bones underneath his flayed skin.

Linder © Whitechapel Gallery

Linder © Whitechapel Gallery

What themes unite the works in the collection?

As mentioned, the collection is interested in the human condition, or the self, hence its name ISelf, which plays on the existential dilemma that is inherent to human nature; the relation between the idea we have of ourselves as individuals ‘I’, and our relation to others ‘myself’. This is why we have curated the show in four chapters, looking at the how artists explore the complex subject of human identity in its different forms.

How are the artists’ bodies, or self-reflections, used to bring out these themes?

The artists in this first display are looking at our sense of ‘self’, as all the works are self-portraits. Essentially this show examines what the ‘self’ in ‘self-portrait’ means. The fourteen artists in the display have chosen different approaches: physical, psychological and imaginary, to represent themselves. Pawel Althamer has chosen a figurative approach, testing the limits of his body in order to explore a range of feelings about his identity and persona. Yayoi Kusama offers a very different way of representing her thoughts and feelings by creating an intricate painting of connecting circles or what she calls ‘Infinity Nets’, essentially an abstract representation of the landscape of her mind.

Identity is integral to the collection. In what different ways do the participants explore identity in their work?

One of the earliest works in the show is a series of photo strips by André Breton and his friends from the Surrealist group. These were taken in 1929 in one of the first Parisian photo booths, and are a great example of experimental instantaneous self-portraiture. Rather than choosing a straightforward pose, they look sideways or away from the camera, playing with different poses – smoking, thinking or laughing. Taken at a time when the group were formulating their second manifesto, these images show their common interests in chance and the unconscious, but also their different personalities, as they choose to depict themselves as multi-faceted individuals.

Tracy Emin © Whitechapel Gallery

Tracy Emin © Whitechapel Gallery

Are there any works in the collection that particularly stand out to you?

We chose You search but do not see (1981-2010) by Linder for the cover of the catalogue as it is such a striking image. It intrigues us as the artist has depicted herself with an alluring pearl necklace in a New Romantics outfit, but it is also incredibly disturbing as she appears to be almost suffocating in a plastic bag. Here Linder is playing with how women have been ‘captured’ and idealized throughout art history and in present day mass media. Incidentally, this work was produced in a booklet accompanying the release of the artists’ punk band Ludus’ cassette, whose songs examine the subjects of hiding, searching and finding, evoked in the work’s title. However, there are many more exciting works in the display, and more to discover in the upcoming three other chapters of the show.

Cindy Sherman © Whitechapel Gallery

Cindy Sherman © Whitechapel Gallery

ISelf Collection: Self-portrait as the Billy Goat is on show at the Whitechapel Gallery from 27 April until 20 August 2017.

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Stefanie Heinze: Genuflect Softly #1

30.03.2017 | Art , Culture | BY:

Stefanie Heinze creates hallucinatory artworks, featuring clumsy figures that bleed into one another to depict strange unrealities. Using fleshy brushstrokes, she transforms her preliminary sketches in ink and pastel into colourful, playful paintings, in which bodies merge with both objects and themselves. She reinterprets mistakes as part of the painting, and draws inspiration from sense-defying cartoons, as figures are depicted in various states of activity; eating, resting, and leaping across the canvas.

Stefanie lives and works in Berlin, and her first solo exhibition, entitled ‘Genuflect Softly #1’, is on display at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery until April 22nd. The exhibition displays her colourful, large-scale paintings, which defy logic and convention through the construction of new shapes and motions, causing reason to degenerate into what she likes to call ‘newsense’. Twin speaks to Stefanie about her distinctive artistic process, deconstructing gender roles, and transformation.

You have said that painting is your favourite medium, because it can ‘flesh out contradictions’. What do you mean by that?
For me, image making is about impossibilities. Figures can sit and float at the same time. Body parts, domestic objects, make up and foodstuffs bleed into one another in hallucinatory scenes. The figures become their environment and the consumable products that we surround ourselves with ooze until they’re a tangled mass of abstraction. I’m the one that creates that imagery but I sometimes feel their anarchy taking over.

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Your work is always centered around the theme of transformation. How does this influence you, and how do you represent transformation through painting?

Transformation and morphing are often depicted in cartoons and animated films and I draw a lot of inspiration from this. Betty Bop and Looney Tunes characters morph on screen with or without their knowledge. Characters do impressions of others and transform not only their voice, but also their body into that person; Donald Duck switches effortlessly between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Evolution, opposites, and rivals are at play; toys, rocks, animals, and musical instruments are just as lively as people. I am interested in this imaging of transformation, less for its entertainment quality and more as a crucial reflection on the persuasive influences on our personhood, environment, and culture. I try to keep this sensation of perpetual movement very present in my work.

Art documentation by Todd-White

How do you use your work to deconstruct gender roles? 

I am always eager to deconstruct gender roles in a playful and evocative way. Gender and class can be deliberated through depictions of skateboards, high heels or cigarettes. These objects may be pictured at the point of collapse, comparable to the way in which normative constructions of gender or predeterminations around class are distorted depending on your standpoint. This instability recalls queer theory’s promise of difference, variability, and transition. The vagueness of figures, objects and their interactions underline a moment of empathy.

Art documentation by Todd-White

Can you tell us a little about your artistic process?

I like to harness clumsiness in my painting as a tool. I am interested in how objects, environments, and figures can signal a social status or identity and how the rebellious mass of oil paint can change that as well. Domesticating it in thick or thin layers, scraping paint out, I play with color connotations.

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What do you hope that people take away from your work?
I hope people don’t take a certain moral message from it. I prefer them to question meaning in general in a very enjoyable way. I see the works as conversation pieces that should create “newsense”.

Stefanie Heinze’s  first solo exhibition ‘Genuflect Softly #1’ is on at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery until the 22nd of April.

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Forever Chuck: The Icons of L.A.

25.02.2017 | Culture , Fashion | BY:

A three-part series ‘Chuck Forever’ explores the core cultural scenes that have made Chuck Taylors so iconic. In the latest instalment we are transported to LA, where Long Beach recording artist and style icon Vince Staples guides viewers through Chuck Taylor’s influence on street style and hip hop music in urban Los Angeles.

The video, directed by award-winning filmmaker Karim Huu Do, taps into Los Angeles’ youth culture; it shows how music and fashion combine to build enduring subcultures. During the film, viewers are also introduced to Los Angeles Lakers star Jordan Clarkson, and Born and Raised founder Spanto, who each explain their relationship with Chucks, and talk us through the way they choose to dress.

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Julien Cahn, the Chief Marketing Officer at Converse, explains how, “Los Angeles has played an important role in revolutionising youth culture far beyond the west coast. Chuck Taylor has been part of all of that. He’s a symbol for underdogs, rebels and individualists all around the world.”

The newly launched series focuses on the daring, confident spirit of youth culture and celebrates the impact of Chucks on diverse cultural scenes all over the world. In the first instalment, Stranger Things star Mille Bobbie Brown introduced us to the use of Chucks in film, asking what kinds of characters wear them, and why?

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Jaguars and Electric Eels

06.02.2017 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

The Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin is a private collection of contemporary international art. With the gallery’s focus on time-based media, the ‘Jaguars and Electric Eels’ exhibition is perfectly in keeping with its ethos. Made up of 39 artworks by 30 contributing artists, including installation artist Isaac Julien and sculptor Guan Xiao, ‘Jaguars and Electric Eels’ includes video installations and even fragrance-based art. The works are rooted in our understanding of evolution, investigating an alternative interpretation of anthropology and zoology.

Taking its inspiration from 18th Century explorer Alexander van Hombolt, who was the first researcher to point out how the forces of nature, both animate and inanimate, work together, the name of the exhibition is a reference to Hombolt’s chronicles of the New World. The chronicles were published in 1853, in a special edition entitled ‘Jaguars and Electric Eels’. The collection of works in the exhibition describe a reality that no longer distinguishes between the natural world and artificiality, but sees them as a whole and as equals.

‘Jaguars and Electric Eels’ explores some notable themes, including looking at the existence of indigenous people today, hybrids and synthetic forms of life, migration, and the different influences that impact our constantly changing perceptions of reality.

The exhibition will run until late November The Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin.

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Virginia Jaramillo in front of Divide, 1964

Virginia Jaramillo: Where the Heavens Touch the Earth

19.01.2017 | Art , Blog | BY:

From today Hales Gallery will play host to Virginia Jaramillo’s first solo exhibition outside of her native US. Entitled ‘Where the Heavens Touch the Earth’, the exhibition will display her work from the 1970s, which is striking in its underlying geometry. Bringing together a selection of large-scale canvases and the series Visual Theorems, the work crosses boundaries between painting and drawing, and canvas and paper, creating a tangible materiality.  

Virginia Jaramillo’s career has spanned almost six decades. Born in El Paso, Texas, she spent her formative years in California, before living briefly in Europe and then relocating to New York City, where she still lives today. She is focused on expressing cultural constructs and sensory perceptions of space and time through her work, and draws inspiration from widely varied sources, including science fiction and Celtic and Greek mythologies. We spoke to Virginia about her work, New York in the 1970s, and her artistic influences.

The name of your exhibition “Where the Heavens Touch the Earth”, lends itself to the notion of boundaries and transcendence. Where does this title come from and how do these themes feed into your work?

The title stems directly from Teotihuacan, an ancient archeological site several miles outside present day Mexico City. Teotihuacan symbolizes and alludes to, “the place where the heavens touch the earth” and “the place where the gods were born.”  This place, aligned so precisely with cardinal points and certain star systems, has played a large role in my work.  Since childhood I’ve been fascinated and intrigued with why people and cultures believe what they do, and how their myths of creation are transformed into truths. What happened for this belief system to take hold?

Virginia Jaramillo, Untitled, c. 1973

Virginia Jaramillo, Untitled, c. 1973

How does your work play with the structural patterns we use to interpret the world and the flow of space and time? 

My work is an aesthetic investigation of the sensory matrix we superimpose upon our environment, our lives, and our cultural myths, so we can comprehend and survive in the world around us. I believe that the fabric of time and space is inextricably interwoven into every civilization that has ever existed.  

Your choice of materials has developed since your celebrated ‘Black Paintings’ that were made in California. What drove your selection of medium at that time?

The ‘Black Painting’ period was a time of extreme financial and political hardship, socially and artistically. If I wanted to paint, I had to use any material that was readily available at our neighborhood hardware store. I began preparing my own rabbit skin glue and gesso from scratch and using cheap black and dark brown paints that I grew to love.  The journey with the black paintings, which began from a period of financial need, was a blessing in disguise for me as an artist. It gave me a voice.     

Can you tell us about your year spent living in Europe in the 1960s, how was that formative for you?

California is a very special place, and its beauty had a tremendous effect on my formative years and still feeds my sensibilities as an artist. But coming straight from California, Europe, and specifically Paris, was an eye-opener. Europe was truly an alien planet. Everywhere I walked or looked, there was a sense of the historical, and I was present and a part of it. Everything was ‘art’; the food I ate, the shop windows, the paintings hanging in Le Louvre. It was a visual and sensory feast.  After living in Europe, I never looked back. I knew I could never survive as a creative being in an art environment where so much was closed to minorities. 

Virginia Jaramillo, Visual Theroems, 11, 1980

Virginia Jaramillo, Visual Theroems, 11, 1980

During your transition from West to East coast, how did your painting develop, and how did your relationship to abstraction shift?

I have always been concerned with abstraction. My involvement with a particular spatial construct allows me to look beyond the literal, which the canvas creates. It becomes deep sensory space.

Whilst in New York City in the 1970s and 80s, you were involved with various feminist organizations, including the celebrated Heresies Magazine and legendary A.I.R. Gallery. Can you discuss this moment for women artists and your place within it? 

To be honest, at the time I was not as involved as many women artists of the period. Being married to a black artist, raising two children, being a Mexican-American woman artist, and squeezing in time to do my work was difficult. Dealing with the racial bias of the time could defeat anyone. My life was a political statement. During this period I worked with the staff of Heresies Magazine for their ‘Third World Women’ issue, which was very gratifying. Being on the board of advisors of ‘The Feminist Art Institute’, and helping to organize a successful benefit auction for a scholarship fund for women artists is something I’m very proud of. As is being part of ‘Women Artists of the 80’s’ at A.I.R. Gallery in New York City, which was curated by Corinne Robins.

Virginia Jaramillo, Visual Theorems 18, 1979.

Virginia Jaramillo, Visual Theorems 18, 1979.

This will be your first solo exhibition outside of the US. What’s next?       

I’m excited to be participating in two major museum shows later in the year; ‘We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-85’ at The Brooklyn Museum in New York and ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power’ at the Tate Modern. In May, Hales Gallery will feature several of my Curvilinear paintings from the 1970s in the Spotlight section of Frieze New York art fair.

Virginia Jaramillo: Where the Heavens Touch the Earth, will be on display at Hales Gallery between 20th January and 4th March 2017.

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Brits Abroad

18.01.2017 | Fashion | BY:

From the 19th to the 24th January, a space on Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth in Paris’ trendy Marais neighbourhood will be transformed into the London in Paris pop-up. The shop, overseen by sister duo Gemma and Annabelle Phillips, and in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT), will provide a platform for London’s young designers and emerging brands during Paris’ busy fashion week.

Housing SS17 ready-to-wear, as well as accessories, jewellery and shoes, the pop-up will feature some of the capital’s most exciting new brands. They include Florence Bridge and her stunning patchwork shearling jackets, and Clio Peppiatt, whose bold designs have garnered the attention of a troupe of celebrities, including Kylie Jenner and Adwoa Adobah. Other designers, like Bonnie Fechter and denim brand I AND ME, will showcase their innovative seasonless and unisex collections, which reflect wider trends within the industry. Sustainable clothing lines like Elliss and Neoss, and sleek monochrome designs from Habits will also be available to buy. Beyond the bounds of a fashion store, the pop-up will also stock London-based magazines Ladybeard and Orlando, who have both recently released their second issues.

 

The London in Paris pop-up will be open from the 19th to the 24th January between 10-7 at 68 Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth. There will be a launch event on the 21st January between 6 and 9pm.

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Ben Rayner’s Stolen Moments

07.01.2017 | Art , Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

Ben Rayner first made a name for himself photographing artists and musicians for Dazed & Confused and VICE, before transitioning into fashion photography. He has since become a regular fixture of magazines like Wonderland and Vogue. His talents have united him with the likes of Bella Hadid, ASAP Rocky and Alexa Chung, but he has always maintained an interest in producing his own personal work. Ben has published numerous zines and several monographs in the past. His latest project is a book made up of casually shot photographs that realise his aims of producing a photo diary of his day. Aptly named ‘Half Day’, the images have been shot in multiple locations and use an array of different formats, capturing fleeting and intimate snapshots of Ben’s life. Twin spoke to Ben about stealing moments, living in New York and the future. 

Tell us about your new book.

The book is a monograph of moments photographed during 2014 and 2015. It’s made up of abstractions, portraits and landscapes. It’s a snapshot of the world as I saw it in those moments. I’m always taking pictures, so after I amass a collection of work I try to put it together in a somewhat coherent way. The book kind of has a fluid narrative of stolen moments in time.

Why did you decide to name the book ‘Half Day’?

I wanted to call the book ‘Half Day’ because it sounded optimistic and is a reminder that you still have half a day left.

A lot of your work has maintained a focus on fashion in the past. How does ‘Half Day’ divert from that?

I shoot a lot of fashion, but have always photographed everything around me. This is my fourth monograph and first hard cover book. I have also published countless zines. To me all my work is a reflection of my view of the world. I think some fashion images could have been dropped into the sequence of this book and still would have made sense. I like to steal moments from people and from the world.

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Your photos have been described as ‘stopping time’ as opposed to capturing it. Why do you think that is?

I think sometimes I see things that other people don’t see, like a person’s fleeting expression. My aim is to connect with whoever and whatever I am shooting. I love photographing everyone, from famous models like Alice Dellal and Bella Hadid to actors and chefs.

You made the transition from London to New York. Do you think the change is reflected in your work? If so, how?

I don’t think so really. The images in this book are not very New York heavy. I tend to photograph things more where I don’t live. Although, I have been photographing my personal work in New York a lot more in the last few months. 

What’s next for you? 

I would like to do some still life photography, and more fashion stories, portraits and personal books. I have lots of ideas. I would also like to do a lot more video work in the future.

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Half Day is available to order now.

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Elliss’ Unconscious Clothing For Natural Women

24.11.2016 | Fashion | BY:

ELLISS is an exciting new brand that was founded earlier this year by young designer Elliss Solomon. Elliss’ first collection, entitled ‘Unconscious Clothing’, features flattering, contemporary designs, often emblazoned with bold prints, while staying true to the brand’s sustainable ethos. Elliss designs and makes the clothes in the UK to maintain a low carbon footprint, and only uses sustainable organic materials like cotton, hemp and bamboo. We spoke to Elliss about her inspiration behind the brand and the challenges of starting up her own fashion line.

What made you want to become a fashion designer?

I always knew that I wanted to do something creative and decided early that I wanted to study fashion at Central St Martins, which is where I ended up. I used to be very experimental with my outfits. I now dress quite simply and I am more conscious of the small details. That is where the design aesthetic for ELLISS has stemmed from.

Can you tell us a little bit about your vision behind the brand?

I design individual pieces that are beautiful, unusual and easy to wear: clothes that have a story. I am conscious of every step of the process – from how the garment will make you feel, to where it is made and from what materials. The fabrics I use are soft and natural and the garments are made in England to maintain a low carbon footprint. Every item is vegan friendly. The first collection is called ‘unconscious clothing’ which is a play on the idea of the ‘unconscious consumer’. I want the women who buy my clothes to not necessarily be looking for something eco friendly, but to choose a piece because of the design – to unconsciously be conscious.

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How do you incorporate political issues into your work?

I am inspired by women who spoke out before others would. This collection incorporates 18th and 19th century portraiture into prints. Each painting or photograph is carefully placed to flatter the female form. The prints are slightly risqué and tongue in cheek. I want the women who wear my clothes to feel confident and empowered.

What materials do you use?

The Jerseys I have chosen for this collection are made from organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. Hemp is the most sustainable fabric. It grows quickly and is so dense it doesn’t allow for weeds. It is also naturally breathable and can be very soft. It hasn’t always had the best reputation but I want to change that. Hemp can be lightweight and delicate!

Which other brands or labels are you inspired by?

I am inspired by small brands that are authentic in their ideas and production. Veja is a footwear brand that has a really interesting supply chain. Although they do use leather, I am still waiting for someone to do something fresh and innovative with sustainable leather alternatives.

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How do you choose the names for your designs?

The names come from the different activists that I have referenced in the prints and women in my life who influence me. The Anna body is named after Anna Kingsford, an anti-vivisectionist, vegetarian and women’s rights campaigner who has heavily inspired the prints.

What have been the most challenging aspects of setting up your own clothing line?

There are a lot of challenges but each stage is rewarding when you finally find a solution. I am always looking to my friends and family for feedback. Sourcing everything from fabrics to packaging takes time. When we find a supplier that is great to work with or a fabric that we can continue to use, things become easier. All of our postal packaging is recycled, from the stickers to the mailers. It’s really important to me to waste as little as possible.

What’s next for the brand?

Our online shop has just launched, which is really exciting! The first collection is available to buy now. The next step is working on designs for the second release. I am researching new and inspiring prints at the moment. I can’t wait to see it all come together!

ELLISS is available to shop online at www.elliss.co.uk

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Charlie Roberts, Juicy 008 2016, Gouache on paper, 59 x 84 cm, courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London

Charlie Roberts Is Juicy

18.11.2016 | Art , Culture | BY:

On the 24th of November, American artist Charlie Roberts will be previewing his highly anticipated solo exhibition Juicy at Marlborough Contemporary in London. Roberts borrows the name Juicy from Notorious B.I.G’s 1994 debut single, merging elements of hip-hop subculture with both classical and contemporary artistic influences – from Byzantine iconography, to comic books and Matisse.

Every facet of the exhibition mirrors Roberts’ playful and innovative artistic approach. He reimagines the gallery as a pop-up shop, hanging approximately 200 paper gouaches salon-style throughout the space. In keeping with his ethos, Roberts invites viewers to purchase the art as they see it. The work is accessible and affordable, and as each piece is removed, it is replaced with another, keeping the exhibition in a continuous state of flux.

Charlie Roberts, Juicy 007 2016, Gouache on paper, 59 x 84 cm, courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London

Contrasting abstract patterned images with fluid female figures, and bright colours with pastel tones, Charlie Roberts juxtaposes every aspect of his work. His reputation as an innovative and exciting artist is ever expanding, and his work continually incorporates characteristics of both popular culture and highbrow art. Earlier in 2016, Roberts collaborated with Danish menswear brand Soulland, creating a successful limited collection of menswear. In his latest display of work at Marlborough Contemporary, Charlie further asserts himself as an inclusive and progressive contemporary artist.

Charlie Roberts: Juicy will be open to the public from the 25th November 2016 until the 7th January 2017 at Marlborough Contemporary

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The Mind Issue

Say hello to the Ladybeard

04.10.2016 | Culture | BY:

Ladybeard is a relatively new independent magazine, and has recently welcomed its second release, ‘The Mind Issue’. For those who haven’t heard of it, Ladybeard is an annual feminist publication, committed to taking the form and format of traditional glossy magazines and subverting the content. The magazine, which spans over 70 contributors, platforms the voices you don’t hear in traditional women’s magazines, those that deviate from being the “straight, white, cis, able-bodied ideal.”

In ‘The Mind Issue’, which follows on from the bold and provocative ‘Sex Issue’, Ladybeard breaks down the strict dividing line drawn between the mad and the sane. It begins with several first person testimonies of losing one’s mind, before drawing on broad social issues, like exploring the use of MDMA and LSD as effective replacements to traditional prescription drugs. Twin spoke to the Ladybeard team to find out more about the magazine.

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Andrew Vladimirov photographed by David Vintiner for ‘The Mind Issue’

How would you describe Ladybeard for those who don’t know it?
We’re a feminist take on the glossy magazine. We theme each issue around a topic that we feel is misrepresented in the mainstream media in general, and women’s magazines in particular, and try to open that topic up to fresh, feminist perspectives. We started with sex and our latest issue is on the mind.

What were your intentions when you first started the magazine?
As a team, we grew up reading women’s magazines and hating the way they made us feel about ourselves. You hear the same voices and see the same ‘woman’ over and over again. The kind of definitions of beauty and sex and gender promoted by those magazines are so damaging. It’s impossible to live up to those standards so the magazine makes you feel like shit, but more than anything, it’s actually really boring reading them because nothing on those pages ever feels true to life. But the magazines themselves are so glossy and beautiful and covetable that you keep buying them, even against your better judgement. With Ladybeard, we wanted to platform the kind of voices you don’t hear in women’s magazines. We felt that if we made a space for many different people to speak honestly about subjects like sex and mental health, but that was also covetable and beautiful, then we might produce a magazine that we would have wanted to read.

What do you think sets Ladybeard apart from other magazines?
Ladybeard is very lucky to be part of a wave of independent women’s magazines that are departing from the glossy mag. What sets us apart, if we had to set ourselves apart, is the way we approach themed issues: we combine very bright, playful visuals with often quite serious content. In our ‘Sex Issue’, for example, we ran a series of very colourful, explicit Peter Stemmler illustrations of different sex positions alongside features on subjects like reclaiming sexual pleasure after rape, and a first person testimony of HIV and sex work. Similarly in the ‘Mind Issue’, we juxtapose really bold visuals alongside content that rethinks the preventative attitude to suicide in the UK, or calls out institutional racism in the mental health system. Our content is often serious, but the idea is to take a theme and celebrate it. We want to celebrate the people doing amazing things to challenge prejudices and inequalities around sex and sexuality, and now mental health.

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Illustration by Karan Singh for ‘The Mind Issue’

Can you tell us a bit about Issue 2: ‘The Mind Issue’?
‘The Mind Issue’ looks at our minds: the many facets of mental health; the relationship between how we think and how we live; how we express the self and what it means; how we change each other’s minds, and our own. It’s hard to sum it up! Much like ‘the mind’ as a concept, it is sprawling and hard to pin down, but it’s also colourful, playful and, hopefully, full of surprises.

‘The Mind Issue’ contains a huge amount of content, can you describe the process of putting together an issue?
It’s a lot of hard work! We don’t have a pre-existing structure so we can do what we want in terms of what kind of content we want – one of the perks of being an independent mag! Once we’ve decided on a theme, both the arts and editorial teams brainstorm all the different ways that theme could be approached, particularly through a feminist lens. We do a public call out for submissions and pitches while beginning to reach out to writers, artists, illustrators and people we want to interview. Then arts and editorial join up and begin to fit it all together until it takes its final form in layout. As we all work full-time, it’s a lot of evenings and weekends.

How has the magazine evolved since its first issue, and what can we expect next from the Ladybeard team?
In terms of how it’s evolved – it’s hard to say! The theme dictates each issue – ‘The Mind’ meant we could be more abstract and more exploratory and it ended up being much more explicitly political. We’ll see what happens with the next issue. We’re going to be holding an event later in the year so keep your eyes peeled for that. If all goes to plan, we’ll have another issue out in 2017!

‘The Mind Issue’ is out now. You can purchase a copy at Ladybeardmagazine.co.uk

The Ladybeard team is comprised of: Kitty Drake, Madeleine Dunnigan and Sadhbh O’Sullivan (editors); Scarlet Evans and Bronya Meredith (art direction and design); Tyro Heath and Hannah Abel Hirsch (arts editors)

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