© Anita Corbin

Forging solidarity in Anita Corbin’s ‘Visible Girls: Revisited’

04.07.2017 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

In the early 1980’s 22 year old photographer Anita Corbin captured the lives of women from different subcultures in the UK. Photographed mainly in London, the project documented the power of female friendship and individuality, offering candid portraits of their everyday lives. From mods to new romantics, rockabillies to punks, Corbin (who was just starting her career at the time) told the story of these women in their natural habitats, whether that was at friends house’s or social centres.

The project was called ‘Visible Girls‘ and Corbin’s 28 images toured the UK throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, garnering acclaim both for her subject matter and for her photography style, which saw her shoot in slow film and with a portable flash.

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21.tif

36 years later, Anita decided to find the women and offer a new series that centred on who the women have become. Having tracked down over 70% of those she photographed, Visible Girls:Revisited is a radical and vital examination of age and identity; an exhibition which allows individual spirit to transcend time.

The original portraits will be showcased alongside the new series, and audiences can also listen to original tape recordings from interviews in 1981.

© Anita Corbin

© Anita Corbin

“This exhibition is not only about the powerful bond between women united by subculture, belief and friendship, but about the potential of women coming together across generations.”  Says Anita, reflecting on the forthcoming exhibition. “Visible Girls: Revisited, allows the ‘visibility’ of youth to shine a light on the often-disregarded wisdom of the older woman, revealing a unique, cross-generational tribe with the power to provoke and inspire.”

© Anita Corbin

© Anita Corbin

 

Launching in Hull, the exhibition will tour Norwich, Exeter and Bristol, with other spots to be announced soon. In an age where so much emphasis is placed on the power of a fleeting selfie, this tribute to female friendship, culture and style across decades is, kind of ironically giving the time lapse, offers a fresh approach to how women are depicted today.

“This is an exhibition where mothers and daughters will find mutually provocative ground through which to forge a rare solidarity” adds Anita. “At this point in our history we need [that] more than ever.”

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© Anita Corbin

Anita Corbin ‘Visible Women: Revisited’ runs 7th July 2017 – 8th October 2018. 

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© Anita Corbin

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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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Coco Capitán: ‘Middle Point Between My House and China’

28.04.2017 | Blog , Culture | BY:

Gucci collaborator and renowned photographer, Coco Capitán: is an artist who needs little introduction. The Spanish creator’s idiosyncratic eye and quirky slogans have commanded a legion of fans, with 75.6k Instagram followers and counting.

Having graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2016, the photographer has already racked up an impressive string of accolades: she has been a guest speaker for Cambridge University Photographic Society (2016), a member of the Jury for Hyères Fashion & Photography Festival (2016), and was awarded the Pho- tographers Gallery FF+WE Prize (2015).

And then there’s the fact that she’s working with one of fashion’s hottest luxury brands… Capitán’s collaboration for Gucci in February this year saw slogans such as ‘What are we going to do with all this future?’ and ‘Common sense is not so common’ etched across the brand’s sell-out logo tees. But for her latest project, a new book ‘Middle Point Between My House and China’, disenchantment takes a back seat in favour of the imagination.

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The book’s tittle is drawn from memories of the photographer’s childhood, in which she thought that if she dug deep into the ground she could tunnel to China. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Capitan found herself in the country itself – though via the more conventional route of air travel.

The book is therefore both an homage to her journey and the people she encountered on her travels, and to the experience of childhood. ‘China’ and ‘House’ can be understood in both the literal and figurative sense. As is noted in the press release, “‘China’ represented the desire to run away, the attainment of her goals; while ‘House’ was her present reality.” Coco adds, “I wanted to take images that would denote how I perceived China, my personal experience in the country and how I saw the people who were there”.

To mark this hotly anticipated release, Claire de Rouen will be hosting a signing at their London store. Head over on 9th May to snap up a copy of this must-have book.

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‘Middle Point Between My House and China’ by Coco Capitán is published by Maximilian William, and released in May 2017. 

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FOREVER

“If you want to be in the club, you’re already part of the club.”

17.04.2017 | Art , Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

Forever aka June Moon is a Canadian artist living, recording and performing her ethereal, dreamy and all encompassing music in Montreal. She also has a wonderfully addictive radio show, drenched in nostalgia and named Flip Phone Forever. Emmett Rose is a director, artist and all round powerful woman who started the political art movements VOTES4NUDES and Tramps Against Trump, which aptly supplied anyone who voted in the Canadian and American elections with a tasteful nude. 

The duo are one half of Girls Club, an inclusive creative community for anyone and everyone who identifies as females and have recently come together in creating a video for Forever’s latest track, “Heaven’s Mouth”. The video (akin to a blissful short) sees a girl meandering through her day, exploring her innate hungers and desires with clips that see her as she plunges her nails into a plump juicy orange, squeezes her fist around peach halves and tears into a cream cake spliced with clips of her wandering through grave yards and late night subway stations. We got together with June and Em to explore their work from a creative, fashion and feminist perspective.

Twin: Firstly can you tell Twin readers a little about who you both are, how you met and what sparked your creative relationship? 

Em: June who are you?

June: I’m a poet, popstar and provocateur. 

Em: That’s good trademark that. I’m a tease, a queer performance artist, painter and total babe. Now Juney, tell me why you love me. 

June: We met through Michael (Mind Bath) we really established a connection in the summer of 2015, and Girl’s Club happened right away and the rest is in the making… 

Em: Us meeting feels like forever ago (ForeverTM) I remember feeling shy riding a train up to Harlem with you and desperately wanting to get close to your energy. I feel like Girl’s Club spawned from that longing for connection, a closeness between women that you often feel like you just can’t reach for whatever reason. But what we’re doing now feels so much further along than that, now I don’t ever question my wanting of being close to other women. 

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You worked together on the video for ‘Heaven’s Mouth’, how did you work collaboratively on this? What are some of the themes in the song that were important to translate visually? 

Em: How did it all start with this project in particular Juney? 

June: After I released the EP “Forever” I started fantasizing about the visual aspect of the record but I was looking at a blank wall for a couple months. One morning I got a text from you saying — we’re making a music video 

Em: I like that I texted you without giving you any choice in the matter ha 

June: Ya I came over and you had received the vision. And I trusted you 100% 

Em: I remember it coming to me like a wave, sometimes I get clear visions that just need to come out and I knew June would let me see that feeling through. I saw peaches and flowers both rotting and blooming mixed in with skin and hands, one object cutting into another creating this abstract mesh that was more about feeling than it was about recording any one image. I wanted to work with the idea of a Vanitas painting, a dark still life that speaks of time and fertility and death but in a way that also speaks of rebirth. The orange peels we see show what has come to pass before the orange was eaten, the way trauma leaves marks on our skin I wanted to show the passing of time in the skin of a woman. 

June: I like that. That insight is why I trust you 100% – we’re on the same tip

Em: without really needing to explain everything by words ha I don’t even think we communicated all of this before we started shooting. But that June is what you’re always talking about with intuition. 

June: Which is the most sacred quality of feminine energy.

Why is it important to you to support each other and in doing so other women? 

June: Well that’s an obvious question 

Em: Well it feels obvious now but it didn’t always, I think Girl’s Club has changed our instincts. Being supported by you has changed my life. It’s changed what I do with my life, not only am I an artist who deals with the duality of living femme but now my life with Girl’s Club is dedicated to fostering an environment where other women, femmes, n queers can connect in way that really heals and builds. 

June: We have to learn how to do this, together. We’re taking up space in a new way, reclaiming space is a lot of fighting and a lot of resisting and for me if I can feel this with my community then we can make herstory together. Girl’s Club was about recognizing that we didn’t want to fit into the boys club, it’s just not gonna serve me or speak to me. 

What challenges do you feel women face in the creative industries? 

Em: What challenges don’t we face in every industry!

June: In every aspect of life to be honest 

Em: I don’t think it’s about what challenges we face but what incredible insight we bring to our practices because of our experiences. I couldn’t make work with the sensitivity or drive that I do if it weren’t for my trauma living as a woman (she sings). 

June: Which brings us to why we absolutely needed an all femme production team.

Em: We needed a crew with intuition and sensitivity; we couldn’t have done it without that femme expertise. 

You co-founded feminist collective ‘Girls Club’, I’ve just been on the site and I love how inclusive it feels and the fluidity with which you look at femininity and what constitutes a woman. What birthed the collective? 

June: Girl’s Club was the simultaneous desire for community that brought Emmett and I together as friends, and artists. We started with t-shirts, and our lives have totally and completely been changed. We like to say ‘all you need is two’ ~ because women are taught to remain isolated, to keep them out of power, but we re-claimed our power, our feminine power by coming together. 

As Girl’s Club, what is your mission statement? What do you hope to achieve?

Girl’s Club: One individual and their own right to create safer spaces and communities around them. Girl’s Club is in opposition of a club of only girls who must all think the same. A girl is anyone who harnesses the power of femininity. To us, femininity is a force that can be wielded by any sex, gender or orientation. A girl is anyone who occupies unsafe territory and, against all odds, rises. Girl’s Club is driven by the need for a community, it’s not for everyone but it can be for anyone who identifies with us. Girl’s Club represents visual solidarity – more space is being claimed for us, by us. If you want to be in the club, you’re already part of the club. 

Emmett, you’ve been very vocal around both the Canadian and American elections (which is super important, so thank you!) especially around Harper and Trumps opinions on women and who owns their bodies. How do you both feel art interacts with politics? Should all art have a political agenda? 

Em: My life is political but not by my own choice, being born a woman is political. And being born a chatty-ass gotta-say-somethin’ woman is my blessing and my curse, I couldn’t lay dormant if I tried. I don’t have a background in government politics but my body has always been a political battle ground whether I like it or not. I’ve lost family and friend just for embracing my body, being both a naked sexual woman and a smart evocative woman, we all live in that battle. 

How now post-election can we keep each other safe and empowered as women? How can the arts play into this? 

June: Art is always political because it has the capacity to influence the individual and society as a whole 

Em: I think we keep each other safe each time we create something, we add another object into our cultural realm that speaks to us and for us, representation is everything, each time we make a work we tilt the scales in our favor. 

What message do you want to leave us about being a woman in the world at such a tumultuous time as this? 

JuneGet into your sexuality and own it. 

Em: That may be the most powerful and terrifying thing you can do. Sexuality continues to scare people because it’s such a power force that people (men) have tried to keep under wraps for too long. The world has always been tumultuous… 

June: Duality is constant. 

Em: As the world seems to get more chaotic we also gain more power, it’s this constant push back that drives us forward. I think it’s easy to feel scared at times like this, but if our oppressors are pushing back against us, it means we’ve scared them. And that is a good thing. 

Heaven’s Mouth is out now on Olympia records

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The Unseen, The in-between: Lina Scheynius, 09

29.01.2017 | Art | BY:

Fans of insightful feminist photography should stay tuned for the release of artist Lina Scheynius’ new book, 09

Featuring photographs taken between 2013 and 2016, this new self-published and beautifully curated book sees Lina present a series of unplanned moments. This spontaneous style results in an intimate and personal collection of work which celebrates the beauty and mystery of ordinary life. Twin was lucky enough to be given a preview, see the images below.

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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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