A chat with Ming Smith – the photographer whose work is soft, intimate & bathed in community through its documentation of the black American experience.

Cover image: America Seen Through Stars and Stripes, New York City, NewYork Painted, 1976, by Ming Smith

Ming Smith, not necessarily a name widely known in photography, was the first Black woman to have her photographic work accepted into the Museum of Modern Art, in 1975.

The only female member of the Kamoinge Collective, and a dedicated image maker to capturing the humanity for the Black Experience, Ming Smith’s imagery and life trajectory is due a mighty relook. Currently staging an online exhibition of a selection of Smith’s work, from her image of Grace Jones as a Ballerina, to the playwright August Wilson, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery has moved the exhibition online through Vortic

We caught up with the photographer from her apartment in New York. 

How did you first get into photography?

I borrowed my mother’s camera on my first day of school in kindergarten and I took photographs of some of my school mates. The class was predominantly white, and we were about 10% of the class. I had a lot of friends and classmates that I took photographs of. 

Did you feel looking back that there was a central focus for your photographs?

It was just a natural thing. My father was a photographer. He was a hobbyist but he was really artistic: he drew, painted, did films and things like that. However he worked 12 hours a day as a pharmacist, so he didn’t do photography a lot, however I think it then became for me a natural thing to do. 

You trained to be a doctor initially, and then you decided to focus on a career in photography. 

My grandfather would always say that he wanted me to be a doctor. I liked that because he taught bible school, and my grandmother was helping all the neighbours, so I felt that being a doctor was a way of helping people. I know that might sound pretty naive but that was what I wanted to do. I did volunteer work at the children’s hospital when I was young. I saw a lot of pain around me, so I wanted to help.  Being a doctor was a way of trying to help. Then I read something about artists, and they were talking about the system and how your work could help humanity, and you work could be outside of the system, instead focusing and turning ideas into something that would be healing. 

Child Porter, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1972 by Ming Smith

There is such a sense of intimacy and connectivity about your images. How do you capture that? What do you look for in your subject matter? 

Well there are stereotypes of the Black community, but there is so much love in the community, from people who were making and doing the best spiritually or going to church. There was just this stereotype of Black people, you know, and I never saw those types of images with the love and the empathy and the humanity with the people that were around me in my community.

You have become renowned for your portraiture for Black cultural figures and icons What did you hope to profess or present in these images of these icons?

I hope that other young people or students will find inspiration in what they are teaching: the struggles and what they went through to get to where we are now. For example, August Wilson, I went to Pittsburgh and photographed his hometown and economically depressed neighbourhoods and shot some of the places he talked about in his plays. He documented the comic and the tragic aspects of the African American experience in the 20th Century. The characters in Pittsburgh were the same characters that I knew in Ohio where I grew up, or Detroit, where I was born. 

Lou Drapper’s Pick, 1973 by Ming Smith

What would you say the main challenges you have faced in your career?

I would say being taken seriously. I am a better photographer than a talker. I am quiet, and I like that with photography you can be by yourself, you don’t have to talk. Being shy, photography was a way of me being in it but out of it at the same time. If you are a quiet person it’s harder to take you seriously.

I went to a gallery seeking representation, and the gallerist didn’t hardly even look at my photographs; it was very disappointing. Just like “ok, thank you”. Just total dismissal.

Did you have a lot of other female counterparts and friends that were experiencing the same in the art industry or the creative industry?

I am sure there was, and I’m sure there is, but I have really continued to be a loner and doing photography was almost like a friend or a companion and was how I spent my time. Being a photographer was a way of expressing yourself and going through your own challenges, and needs, and so I spent my time not really talking to anyone else. 

Ethiopian Crew, 1973 by Ming Smith

What was New York like when you arrived? What were you focussing your photography on?

When I got to New York I was photographing but I came for money, and one of the first jobs I had was as a model. It was like 100 dollars an hour: an Ohio pharmacist back then was making 100 dollars a week. 

Someone told me ‘you should be a model’, and so I tried it for a bit. When I first met Grace Jones, she was an aspiring model also. 

You were part of the Kamoinge Workshop: did you feel like things changed then, that you were a part of a group of like-minded individuals?

Going to the meetings, I was first introduced to photography as an art form. Prior to this I had not committed myself to being an artist.  I didn’t think of myself as a photographer as I was still studying pre-med curriculum. So when I came to Kamoinge, I had first heard about the collective on an assignment, where a photographer was talking about whether photography was an art form. I was invited into Kamoinge by Lou Draper, who also printed for Eugene Smith. He used to tell me stories about Lorraine Hansberry, who I loved. that was when I first learned about the goal of Kamoinge: to own and interpret our own images. Roy Decarava was one of the founders of Kamoinge, which came out of the Black Arts Movement, where they started plays, and there were writers, musicians, painters, artists. That is where I learnt about lighting. I remember one member saying that his neighbourhood grew up in Harlem, and that all the young men that he grew up with were all dead. That opened my eyes to the politics. 

Oolong’s Nightmare,Save The Children (for Marvin Gaye), New York City, New York 1979 by Ming Smith

Tell us about your experience of fashion photography.

In New York I never knew about fashion photographers and advertising: it was a completely new world. I had a chance to go into both of those worlds, as I was modelling. I met people like James Moore who was a beauty photographer, or Arthur Elgort or Deborah Turberville, who I loved. She photographed my lips for a Bloomingdales bag! She did fine art photography besides that; I really liked her. I lived in the Village, so I knew Lisette Model, and I would go eat at this little dinner, the Waverley – the cheapest diner! You could buy a meal for five dollars there, and that was where Lisette Model would eat too! She would tell me stories about Diane Arbus, and she would call her Dion. For the longest time, I didn’t realise she was talking about Diane Arbus as she called her Dion!

You documented some of the greatest spokespeople of the African American experience. 

August Wilson really told our stories through his plays: the comic and the tragic of the African American experience. That is what connected me to him, to go to Pittsburgh and photograph him. Eugene Smith did a famous series on Pittsburgh, but the African American experience wasn’t documented. This is another aspect of my work. We also have Katherine Dunham. She was an anthropologist, choreographer, writer. She was an activist as well: she wouldn’t perform in places unless they de-segregated the audiences. There is always a struggle, that is extremely distressing of the black American community. They simplified the experiences of the black community in the 20th Century. Katherine went to Haiti and Africa and notarised the dance technique. When she won the Kennedy award, she talked about how hip hop came out of her technique, meaning the isolations and different notations of moves and contractions and release. Now we have dance, twerk, afro-latin, west African, Haitian, rumba, Caribbean, west African beats. We have had all these different classes come out of the diaspora. That is what Katherine Dunham did. 

Flying High, Coney Island, 1976, by Ming Smith

How do you get inspired?

I follow mainly instincts and my heart about things. I hope to say these things in my work: that is the intention. 

Would you say your photography is driven by intuition?

Definitely. Intuition, which is also very spiritual. It is like there is a spirit that speaks within me, and I go with that. I trust that more than I trust my brain. 

What changes do you see in the photography industry now? 

There is a lot more inclusion, and participation. There are different avenues for photographers – there are now young black American fashion photographers, and I think a lot of the hip hop generation are participating in that inclusion, you can go into documentaries, they work with the NYT. I think this is not only in America, but globally. 

Beauty, Coney Island, 1976 by Ming Smith

Do you think there are still many racial obstacles that need to be overcome in the art industry?

I think of course, but I am in the middle of it, and sometimes it is harder to see, but of course I think there has been many steps in the right direction. Dr Deborah Willis, she started doing books on black images, she started this in publishing and the School – she has made a life of that. I remember she came to Kamoinge to do a book. It wasn’t easy for her to receive support so I think that we have a voice now greater than before and it is growing. People are conscious of it, and they are trying to make it right, or more honest: the documentation of us, including us. Not just the stereotypes. More human.

Do you see more women photographers being showcased?

Most definitely, but I also think that there is more of an option. Before, it was a question of what could you even do with photography! Photographers and artists now, there are different avenues and you can earn a living from it! I see this more and more. Before, what could you do with it, how could you earn a living? Now, photographers both men and women are like ‘oh I could do photography, portraiture.’ 

There wasn’t any kind of show, exhibitions, talks, creating a book… there wasn’t those options. You did it out of pure love in the beginning. You did photography as an art form.

Self Portrait Nursing (Total), 1986 by Ming Smith

Do you still photograph regularly?

Yes I do! The main obstacle with that is everything is digital now. I am doing a book at the moment for Aperture, and so taking it from film to digitising it, to having to re-edit everything over again… it’s a lot! I need a lot of help with the translating of it. 

What do you hope viewers take away from your works?

I think just the personal struggles, the empathy or the humanity or the altruism or just being supportive. Maybe the humanity, and that being exposed to the people I have photographed, they will know what to do. It was like when I heard my first August Wilson play, or the drum, and I went and took my first dance class and the teacher told me he was a Katherine Dunham dancer. People will get what they get from my photography: hopefully an experience that will inspire them in some kind of way. 

Tags: , , , , ,

Ahluwalia’s Jalebi – photo book & virtual exhibit

Just in time for London Digital Fashion Week last weekend, designer Priya Ahluwalia launched her photobook titled Jalebi in collaboration with photographer Laurence Ellis. The hardcover book is the designer’s second release, following the success of her first book Sweet Lassi not too long ago. Throughout the pages Ahluwalia & Ellis explore themes within the designer’s work as they give a visual account of what it means to be a young mixed heritage person living in modern Britain.  She explores her roots growing up regularly visiting Southall, Britain’s first Punjabi community with the help of Ellis who captures the beauty of diversity and the level of enrichment immigration brings to our lives and communities. The theme of family also stands out as one that is also a major factor in the make up of the Ahluwalia brand. Old family photographs tell stories of past lives lived by her family.

Each image in the book is featured with extracts from an interview carried out by Ahluwalia with her Nana regarding the family experience between India and Britain. The personal touch of the book mimics the finishing techniques of the designer’s work as how each one her pieces acts as a fundamental part of a bigger story. The book launch has also been supported by Chameleon Visual who have rendered a 3D , VR exhibit , allowing the contents of the book to be presented in a way that might not have been achievable otherwise , considering the circumstance. To view the exhibition and purchase Jalebi visit alhuwaliastudio.com 

Tags: , ,

Important Resources for the Black Lives Matter Movement

In the wake of the recent movement that has been born from the heinous murder of African American George Floyd, it is is evident that as active members of the fashion industry, we have the responsibility to play our part and make our contributions in the support of black voices and the Black Lives Matter movement. The industry itself is one that widely looks to the influence of black culture and black creatives both throughout history and present day for inspiration throughout many aspects of our work from campaigns, to shows, to music, which is why it is imperative for us all to answer the call when the community is in need of support of any kind. In doing our part we have to learn to create an industry where black voices and black talents are able to blossom and speak freely without the worries of being stereotyped or blacklisted.

It is a process that will take time as it means levelling the playing field and holding ourselves and those who came before us accountable for the systemic oppression that have existed throughout the industry for years. However, regardless of how much time it may take it’s important for us to take action first within our own industry and in supporting the community at large. In doing so, Twin has composed a list of how you we all can contribute to the cause.

Petition

  • Justice For George Floyd is a petition to sign in support of George Floyd , who was murdered in Minneapolis by police officers, signing this petition helps to gain the attention of the city’s Mayor for the arrest of the police offers.
  • Raise the Degree is a petition to sign to raise the degree for the charges of officer Derek M Chauvin —  the police officer seen kneeling on George Floyd neck — to first degree murder.
  • Ahmaud Arbery – a petition to sign in support of Ahmaud Arbery , another black man that was murdered by white supremacists in Georgia USA, only a few weeks ago, that will help in the arrests and charge for those involved.
  • Breonna Taylor was an unarmed American woman murdered by a police officer while sleeping in her home in Louisville, Kentucky USA, a few weeks ago, this petition is in aid of firing and arresting the police officers involved.

Donate

Support the family of George Floyd by donating to cover funeral costs , counselling and the creation of a memorial .

As many are out in the streets protesting , many are being arrested, here’s a list of funds that will help in the bail of protests who have been jailed. 

Donate directly to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Donate with no money 

By watching this video, and the other videos that follow after it without skipping the ads, it supports the fundraisers for the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the funds for the bail of protesters who are arrested.  

For more information on how to help, visit Black Lives Matter Card.

Tags: , ,

A refreshing energy of inclusion: Marguerite – the female-focussed network for women to build likeminded connections in the arts – talks to Twin about their 5th year as a very modern arts organization.

Cover image by Dunja Opalka

Marguerite was founded in Joanna Payne’s living room after a few glasses of the bubbly stuff. Hey, who hasn’t concocted their million dollar idea on the sofa, or a brilliantly innovative concept with mates in the pub. For Joanna however – Marguerite came to be a living, breathing, invigorating association for women in the arts to come together, and share their thoughts/views/frustrations/hopes with other women that might feel the same. 

After the adage of the ‘members club’ gratefully comes to wear off – the notions of exclusivity wearing thin in a world that has never felt more isolated and alone – Joanna is shifting the dynamics and the dusty insinuations members clubs have come to imply, and has built a community across the globe that looks to if not inspire at least articulate a  universe where women can feel the confidence to advance their own interests, passions and careers.

Here we talk to Joanna about starting her own business, the importance of sharing experiences, and the art of slowing down.

David Seymour, Venice. Peggy Guggenheim in her palace on the Grand Canal, 1950

What made you want to start Marguerite?


After seven years of working in the art world, for organisations including Whitechapel Gallery and Frieze Art Fair, I wanted to do something about the fact that women often found it harder to realise their potential than men. By that, I mean that I so often found that my female colleagues and friends found it much harder to do things like ask for a pay rise than their male counterparts. Whilst there are many reasons for the pay gap in the UK, one of them is women’s confidence in comparison to men’s. If men are happy to ask for a pay rise whereas a woman isn’t, guess who’s more likely to get it?

I was very lucky in that I landed my dream job at the age of 23, working in the VIP department at Frieze Art Fair, where I was meeting collectors, artists, gallerists, museum curators.. even Jay Z and Beyonce! I found that having such a strong network in the industry really helped me in my career and I was made to feel pretty confident as a result. I wanted to share that network with my friends and peers in the hope that it would do the same for them – so in February 2015, set Marguerite up as very casual drinks in my living room. It didn’t have a name back then and the initial idea was for a different woman to host a similar sort of thing in their own home every other month. The idea was simple: to bring women in the arts together to meet, share ideas and in turn, build their careers in the industry.

Has the original purpose changed at all over the years?

The concept of Marguerite changed pretty quickly after that first event in my home. After a friend had to pull out of hosting the second event, I decided that it would be better to instead ask artists, curators, photographers and designers whether they would in fact play host to our events. This was very much drawing on my experience from Frieze and later Photo London, where I was organising special events in artist studios and collectors’ homes for some of the best known collectors, museum directors and curators in the world. From that experience, I was taught the importance of having ‘content’ at events in the form of a talk, panel discussion, workshop or some other form of entertainment. I really wanted to step away from your awful average networking event where a bunch of people are just chucked into the same room with a name badge and a glass of wine and expected to find things in common.

Our core values are still very much the same: to advance the careers of women in the arts by providing a ready-made professional network and spaces in which to hear from some of the most influential people working in the creative industries today. The caliber of our hosts has always been pretty high (two of our first events were hosted by the world renowned fashion photographer, Rankin and winners of the Turner Prize 2015, architecture collective, Assemble) but we’ve built on that hugely and have welcomed some incredible speakers including the likes of fashion designers such as: Dame Zandra Rhodes, Roksanda and Alice Temperley MBE; photographers: Miles Aldridge, Nick Knight & Juno Calypso; artists: Idris Khan OBE, Gavin Turk and Michael Craig-Martin; and museum directors: Maria Balshaw (Tate), Dr Tristram Hunt (V&A) and Tim Marlow (then the Royal Academy of Arts, now The Design Museum). 

Despite the hosts and the quality of our events (hosted everywhere from London and Somerset to Venice to New York) growing ever more magnificent, we’ve worked hard to ensure that the original energy of friends meeting over a couple of glasses of prosecco in my living room remains.

Idris Khan & Annie Morris for Marguerite by Dunja Opalko

You have turned 5 years old which is amazing: how has our definition of members clubs changed in that time?

Thank you! Whilst the concept of ‘private members’ clubs’ seemed very glam when we first started out, we now actually steer away from the term as we don’t want the network to seem too exclusive or off-limits to anyone who works in the arts. Anyone in the industry can buy a ticket to our events if they’re interested in one particular topic or want to ‘try before they buy’ a full membership. 

Unlike many private members’ clubs which operate in the way they do so that they can be strict about who they do and don’t let in, the reason we offer membership is to encourage the same group of people can come together six or more times a year. The frequency means you’re much more likely to actually make friends at our events than if you just attended a standalone talk. Marguerite’s aim is to foster friendships as opposed to make people feel left out because they’re not included.

Linder Sterling & Charlie Porter for Marguerite by Luke Fullalove

Why did you choose to build a female only members club?

I think that incredible things happen when women come together. I wanted to provide a space in which women would be made to feel more confident which would hopefully go on to have an impact in their careers and most importantly, their lives. Judging by our talks in comparison to many others I’ve been to, I’m always struck by how many questions from the audience there are at the end. I think women feel a lot more confident in the company of other women which means they get more out of the situation. Furthermore, if there’s one thing the #MeToo movement taught us, it’s that there’s a lot to be learnt from women sharing their experiences with one another. 

I should say that Marguerite is female and non binary-focussed. If a man wanted to come to one of our regular events, he would be very welcome and we host some events that are open to all. We hosted one of these with Lean In just before lockdown began on how people feel in the workplace post #MeToo – a discussion that would have been a pointless echo chamber if it was just had by a group of women!

Marguerite members at their Polly Morgan studio visit by Luke Fullalove

You have aligned your online presence to support the creative industries: tell us a little bit about this

The week before the official lockdown began, we began to see many members of our community (especially freelancers) lose their jobs. We therefore instantly shifted our attention to launch a forum where freelancers could meet potential employers. It was way more successful than we could ever had imagined and we paired our first freelancer with a paid job in under 24 hours. The following week we also launched a forum to support small businesses – where independent brands could present their products and anyone who was in the position to shop could find them! In the absence of our usual events, we wanted to pivot quickly to best suit the new needs of our community. 

We’ve also been hosting online talks and workshops on our Instagram Live focussing on the things people are most worried about right now including money, managing anxiety and parenting kids and teenagers when you’re trying to hold down your other full time job! We’re now running ‘Marguerite Creates’ every Saturday and Sunday morning where creatives are showing us how to do things like: draw our house plants; collage; make simple home improvements; and take better photographs on our phones! We wanted to provide quick, fun activities to allow people to try something new to alleviate the lockdown boredom – and maybe even get that “Oh my god! I did it!” feeling I think we all need a bit of right now!

Unlike our usual events, these new online features are all quite ‘rough and ready’. We felt it was important to act quickly to give people what they needed rather than spending lots of time (and money!) producing something really sleek that may become redundant by the time it was ready. People’s requirements and moods are changing every day at the moment and we’re very mindful of being relevant. It’s actually also been a brilliant time to test out new things and throw us out of our comfort zone! 

Marguerite Presents Snappy Salons on Women in the Arts part of the February 2017 Uniqlo Tate Lates at Tate Modern Image by Dunja Opalko

What has C19 taught you?

Professionally, the joy of slowing down. We’ve hosted 40 events a year for the past few years which is a lot and can mean up to three events taking place in one week. I think once this is all over, we’ll consider hosting fewer events but maximising the quality.

What will the most important lessons be for the creative industry post C19 do you think?

Much like many industries, I think coronavirus will force the creative industries to slow down. The hectic merry-go-round of private views, art fairs, fashion weeks and events was tiring for everyone involved and I think ultimately, unsustainable. Furthermore, the shipping and travel required for the larger international events of course had huge environmental implications. It’s been interesting to see how quickly art fairs and galleries have shifted to host their events online – I hope a lot of this will remain in place once this is all over. 

Tags: , , , ,

Motherhood & Pregnancy by Simone Steenberg

When looking at motherhood and its lineage within the canon of art history, images of Madonna and Child are at the forefront. A prevalent symbol in Christian iconography, depictions were greatly diversified by Renaissance masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Caravaggio. Yet it was only in the last century that motherhood emerged from the skirts of the Madonna into a space of critical and conceptual practice. During the 1970s second-wave feminism nudged a more rigorous and expanded consideration of women’s issues into the arena. Take artist Mary Kelly’s Post Partum Document 1973 – 1979; a six-year documentation of Kelly’s relationship with her newborn son that includes drawings, annotations, and recorded conversations. 

Naturally, photography became a popular medium through which to depict motherhood and to reflect the fascination and controversy it attracts. Sally Mann’s Immediate Family series from 1992, capturing her naked and roaming free children highlights a departure from the stereotypical portrayal of motherhood that dominated contemporary visual culture. 

Like photography itself, the expectations and demands of motherhood are in flux; both subject and medium grapple for new meaning in a changing world. Simone Steenberg’s series Motherhood & Pregnancy explores just this, as she records the transformation that women experience on this journey. Capturing this transitory state of the female body is simultaneously an exploration of their strengths and vulnerabilities. 

Steenberg’s subjects are observed in varied guises. Some are adorned in flamboyant and playful outfits positioned in both assertive and contrived poses within the studio setting, some proudly nurse their new-born within the familiar domestic setting, while others are immersed in water, gracefully floating in what appears to be their natural habitat. Ultimately, Steenberg’s series showcases how women navigate an experience that is both collective and deeply personal. 

Using analog film cameras, Steenberg began documenting mother and child three years ago;

I’ve always been intrigued by the different states women go through, the physical and psychological transformations, and especially the different shapes of the female body. The women I photograph are a mixture of friends, women I cast through Instagram or women who contact me directly. I shoot everything with analog so it’s a very performative and intimate process. I love shooting outdoors in nature and I feel the pregnant body relates so beautifully to mother earth, its curves, and diverse landscapes. “

With a background in fashion photography, Steenberg was sensitive to the stereotypical image of the pregnant woman; 

Maternity/ Pregnancy shoots have always been done in a certain way, very polished and not hugely sensual or empowering. I want to produce images which challenge the norms and beauty ideals inherent in society, and where women have ownership of their bodies and are allowed or free to express pleasure and desires. I want to create a special experience, an exchange between me and my subject, where we reveal things about ourselves to each other. It is very much about intimacy and trust.

The dialogue Steenberg fosters with her subjects allows for images that present the reality of motherhood; beautiful, personal, raw – matter of fact; one of the main elements in this project is that everyone involved learns and grows from working together. 

The intimate bond between photographer and subject is reflected in her documentation of various mothers breastfeeding their children; a natural and universal exchange, yet one that has forever been tainted by cultural perceptions. Steenberg wishes to celebrate this intimate bond, yet without sentimentality; “I’ve done many images of women breastfeeding where I highlight their milk leaking. I want to open up a dialogue about this phenomenon, and also celebrate this state and the natural wetness created from women’s bodies.

Acknowledging that she has yet to experience motherhood, Steenberg draws on her fascination with the relationship between women and water. We observe it in the milk that oozes from her subject’s breasts and the mouths of the naked, heavily pregnant females surrounded by water reeds, or those who flow freely in the lakes near to her hometown in Copenhagen; 

I see water as reflective, always bouncing back and forward, like an exchange. I grew up in Copenhagen, surrounded by the ocean, and have always felt very close to the water. I am fascinated by the effect it has on us, which is why I believe it has become such an essential part of my photography. 

The mother has unprecedented visibility and influence in both our cultural and political spheres. As a result, our evolution into a technological dependent and consumer-driven planet has given rise to an obsession with social platforms that host a growing number of communities.

‘The Mummy Blogger’, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are vessels for celebrity bumps and babies; literature and film regularly take mothering as their main storyline; and in society, debates around women’s work-life balance and childcare are in regular political focus. Instead of fetishizing the mother, Steenberg offers a reflective and safe environment where her subjects are allowed to express their connections and experiences of motherhood. Steenberg’s images are consistent in that they always manage to convey the intense power and beauty inherent to mothering. Pain and happiness are paired with the exhaustion and vulnerability of motherhood; all of which must be acknowledged as part of this collective and deeply personal journey. 

Be sure to keep up with Simone’s journey and her latest series via instagram.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Imagining the Self by Adaeze Ihebom

London based, Italian-Nigerian photographer Adaeze Ihebom makes intimate self-portraits, turning the camera on herself to explore her identity, the lives of Igbo women and the power of the gaze. In her ongoing body of work Imagining the Self, Ihebom uses the camera to explore her duality as an Igbo and Italian woman. Creating a project on the self brings the viewer into intimate and private moments.  But, by being in control of the camera, Ihebom’s project is ultimately an act of empowerment as she retains control of her own narrative and the gaze. 

The title of the project, Imagining the Self, alludes to an element of performance. For Ihebom, these photographs are a mix of performance and reality. Through exploring her identity as an Igbo-Italian woman living and working in London, she is staging a conversation with herself. The series was created in response to an identity crisis that she experienced during her teens — when Ihebom had refused to let people take her photograph. ‘I had low self- esteem’, she recalls, ‘and, as a result, I have no pictures of my adolescence. Photography has helped me overcome that and portraying myself makes me feel empowered.’ She recreates some of these lost moments in the project and through this act, regains control over these periods of uncertainty. We see Ihebom in a number of intimate and private scenes. In one image, she is in the bath, looking directly at the camera. She is holding our gaze, as if she isn’t afraid to be seen in this way. In another, she is in her underwear looking in the mirror, a private moment we can all resonate with.  We also see her lying on a bed with the light streaming through the window. Was someone originally there with her to share this moment she is recreating?

Images of women are often subjected to the male gaze. By taking self-portraits, Ihebom is in total control of her image and can capture herself in authenticity. When it comes to others taking her photograph, she is aware that she ‘is losing that control’ which makes her uncomfortable: ’weirdly I am more at ease with photographers that I know or love because in a way I can sense that they can capture my true essence.’   

The process of making the image is as important to Ihebom as the final outcome. This is particularly visible in her project Igbo Woman in which she performs different fictional characters inspired by China Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart. In this series of self-portraits, she ‘traces the evolution of family identity from pre-colonial, through colonial and post-colonial times.’ Her clothing and pose are particularly important as each character represents women from different time periods. We see Ihebom dressed as Ezinma Okwonkwo who was born in 1900. Here, she is wearing a white head wrap, beads around her neck and stands bare footed, looking directly at the camera. In another, she is dressed as Reverand Sister Mary Uzoamaka Okwonkwo from 1930. She is wearing religious dress, looking down at the prayer beads in her hands. We then move through time to see Ihebom as women from 1950, 1960 and 1967. By the time we get to 1972, we see her as Alexandra Daberechi Okonkwo. Here, Ihebom is sitting on a high stool, sitting casually, her hair in an afro, wearing sunglasses and platform shoes. We move through 1981 and finally finish on Ihebom as Claudia Onyeka Okonkwo in 2015. Here she is wearing an off-the-shoulder dress and heels, holding a book and looking directly at us.  In this final image, she is representing the modern Igbo woman, giving them a voice and their own identity. 

‘I knew there was a need to represent them as there is an enormous lack of visual illustration and narrative. I feel that history has not portrayed the Igbo woman in her rightful perspective. She is customarily shown in images that correspond to a supposed African man’s world and the idea of feminine submissiveness to the man. The series is a way to challenge this mistaken notion and to show how colonialism has further removed feminine freedom from the Igbo woman. I want the spectators to question if these ideas have always been there or colonialism has planted that idea into us.’

Ihebom originally planned to shoot different women but realised that by using herself and becoming both the photographer and model, she could connect more closely with the characters.  Ihebom describes the image-making process as ‘really fun’ – she listened to music, danced and created a positive atmosphere. She meticulously planned each image, creating storyboards of each character she portrayed. When it came to actually taking the image, she removed herself from the world, turned off her phone and imagined herself in the lives of each individual. Through this perfectly staged act of self-portraiture, she reimagines the characters as real women, tracing them through time to give them their own story. Through turning the camera on herself, Ihebom brings us into her world, while also creating visibility for Igbo women who have historically been misrepresented and left out of the visual narrative. 

Tags: , ,

The global drag community in quarantine captured by Damien Frost

Cover image: Left: Luke Harris, Right: Sakeema Peng Crook

Damien Frost is a London-based Australian-British art director / graphic designer who spends his time during the day working in the theatres of The Big Smoke and immerses himself to document the city’s alternative queer life by night. His latest project is an ode to social distancing as he uses his opportunity in isolation to portrait creative compositions featuring some of the world’s most dynamic drag queens. 

 “I began the Social distancing project when we first went into lockdown in March as I quickly realised i was going to miss capturing the ephemeral art of the people I normally document and not only did I want to find an excuse to keep using my camera but I also needed to focus on something to distract me a little from the unfolding drama and try and document it in some safe way.

Julius Reuben @luisbenlon

Around the same time that I began the project many people who work in the nightlife economy had their livelihoods and cash flow immediately cut off – there were parties due to happen that people were depending on to pay their rent and some of these people began to pivot towards creating online social content – doing smaller scale performances form their bedrooms or party organisers moved the parties to be Facebook live feeds where the do’s would still play and people would tune in, dance around their lounge rooms and still talk shit over drinks (or warm tea even) and collectively solve the worlds problems albeit via text chat rather than the smoking area of a club, and so I’ve been capturing people before they do a show or after they do a performance or makeup tutorial video and present these portraits in The Social Distancing project,” Frost commented.  

Chloe Doherty , @chlodoh

Each portrait from the series carefully captures each queen’s individual character in the comfort of their homes as they transform themselves for their respective performances which creates a raw outlook / performance out of the concept of social distancing in itself. 

“I find the term Social Distancing fascinating for it’s inherent oxymoron being social and distant at the same time and so this project is exploring that, how we are connecting with each other during this strange moment in time. I wanted to show the process also- the image quality of the photos is mostly terrible as it’s very dependent on both the video call connection, the camera the other person is using on the other end and the lighting they have available and then I’m just taking photos with my camera of a pixelated video feed on an old iPad but this poor quality is also partly the point – the technology we have is imperfect and nothing can replace the personal social experience but at the moment this is all we have and so we make-do.

At first I thought there wouldn’t be a lot of people doing transformative looks during this period but I’ve been surprised by just how many people are still practicing their craft – using this time to play with new ideas, engage with challenges with other artists and just keep ploughing on. Despite the fact that many people are in extremely precarious and difficult circumstances and often not knowing where they will get the money for the next rent payment people are trying to keep positive in the knowledge that we are all in this together and there’s a strong desire amongst everyone I talk to that hopefully we can all learn from this situation and we might come out of this situation more thoughtful about each other and the delicate balance of the world we live in.

Keep up with the artist and view the full version of the artists featured @damienfrost.

Tags: , , , ,

The Teachings Of Ikebana And Their Life Lessons From Big Love Records Co-Founder Haruka Hirata

A cult record store and the Japanese art of flower arranging might not make natural bedfellows, but there is plenty to connect the two skills and passions for Haruka Hirata, the co-founder Big Love Records – the ‘if you know, you know’ globally respected record store in Tokyo. Speaking to Twin about what this ancient practice has taught her about life, her musings could act as a reflective signal to how we will need to responsibly think about a future we are carving as we all move forward. 

How did Big Love Records come about?

Masashi Naka, co-founder of Big Love Records started his record label in the 90’s, and opened his own record shop called Escalator Records in 2002 in the same location as now. I started working there and changed the name to Big Love Records in 2008. It was to focus more on international bands. That organically made us meet great artists, not only musicians.

What is the ethos of BLR?

To be independent. Be responsible to the world. 

Do you think our approach to records and independent music stores will change post COVID-19?

I believe a lot of people has revisited listing to music during their self-isolation, and dug deeper, so it definitely was a good chance to realize how music could be your nutrition. But at the same time, some people may notice it was because you had enough time to do so. Record shops should not just rely on the customers, but needs to create a better platform for people to fully enjoy and experience music and embrace in their lives.  

It’s about experience. A community is an experience.


You practice Ikebana: tell us how you got into this and what it has taught you?

Hiroshi Teshigahara, son of the Sogetsu Ikebana School founder and the second Iemoto (grand master), was an avant-garde movie director. I was a big fan of his movies- “Woman in the Dunes”, and “The Face of Another”. One night I was casually googling his name and found out he was an Ikebana artist. I was looking for a medium to address my voice in a better way, and the next day I called my Ikebana school. Been studying for four years, I finally got a certificate last year.

It has been teaching me a lot.

The importance of preparation and cleaning up. Showing respect to your teachers, and classmates. Patience. Never compromise but forgive yourself.

You can never complete learning an art form working with nature, because you will never be able to use the same material ever again. 

Can you give us a few pointers on what makes a balanced arrangement, and how can an arrangement effectively come alive?

Focus on three things. Line, color and mass. How do you feel today? Pick one main color. Use three strait or curved materials, in three different lengths. 

Create a mass, or keep it 

Give space to each other. Don’t fully cover the vase, create a room. 

You can keep the flowers or branches live longer if you cut the stems under the water. This is to prevent air coming in the stem, and let it absorb water.

What sensations does ikebana give you? Calm, satisfaction, energy?

Ikebana is about life and death. You need to face how selfish you are to cut, bend, or nail the flowers or branches only to express yourself. You are sacrificing nature. 

Do you listen to music while practicing ikebana?

One time I was listening to dark techno while working on the piece, and it was not right.

The sound of the scissors are the best music. 

You should always listen to silence and find your own rhythm.


What does beauty mean to you?

Life and death.


What was the last thing that made you excited?

Eating french fries with my friends.  

Tags: , ,

Twin Magazine For NHS Fund – a print initiative

Cover image by Yaniv Edry

In the light of the coronavirus health crisis, Twin Magazine has partnered up with a few of our contributing artists for the sale of 10 printed photographs in charity of the National Health Service (NHS) Fund. The initiative launched this morning, features 10 photographers including Benedict Brink, Ben Weller, Daisy Walker, Jo Metson Scott, Joyce NG, Julia Noni, Marianna Sanvito, Scott Trindle, Stefanie Moshammer & Yaniv Edry who have donated 1 image each for the project.

All prints have been framed and moulded from the highest quality real black wood and UV reflected as they have been carefully packaged by our handmade sponsor G.F Smith . The cost of each print ranges from £125 -£175 depending on it’s size. For more information on how to purchase directly , visit Twinfornhs.com

Image by Joyce NG
Image by Marianna Sanvito
Image by Julia Noni

Tags: , , ,

PRADA launches instagram live series – PRADA Possible Conversations

In the midst of the current global health crisis, Italian fashion house Prada is set to launch a conversation series to help us deal with our quarantine woes. Prada Possible Conversation is a series of live discussions between thinkers, cultural arbiters and fashion insiders across the world in an effort to piece together a community of collective thoughts and thinkers. Set to take place on Prada’s instagram page, guests will be engaging in real time conversations that the house promises to be enlightening , engaging and maybe even revelatory. Guests will include personnel from all sectors of the creative industries including fashion, art , architecture, film, literature etc. 

The headliner of the series is scheduled for this evening April 14, 2020 at 6pm CET, and will feature Pamela Goblin, author curator & Artistic Director of Jacquard x Google Arts Culture Residency and Alexander Fury, fashion features director of Another Magazine and Men’s Critic of the Financial Times. The duo will be having a conversation under the theme, ‘Fashion in Times of Crises’ and will also allow for questions from their audience. 

This and all the upcoming Prada Possible Conversations will result in a donation from Prada to UNSECO. 

Be sure to tune in via PRADA

Tags: , , ,

Twin Flames by Justin Aversano – Documenting shared tulpae of genetics

Cover image: Vera & Barbara Ann Duffy and Jimmy, Saoirse, and Albie

Over the period of a year and two months, New York based photographer and creative director Justin Aversano photographed 100 sets of Twins from all across the world which he has recently published in his latest hardcover photobook Twin Flames.

“I photographed 100 sets of twins, aiming to create a body of work focused on the existence of multiple births and the phenomena of twindom through an immersive portrait survey. Twins and multiple siblings provide a lens on the magic and causality of biology. In our everyday society, twins, triplets et al. have an assigned position within all current and historical cultures—a shared tulpa of genetics, fate and timing. Twindom has a deep root in shared storytelling, its visuals conjure metatextual manifestations across the astrological, the mythological, the academic and the popular, stringing together tangents of the everyday and simultaneously karmic,” explained Aversano.

Asha & Ayanna Diaz and Chris & Clayton Griggs

Bahareh & Farzaneh Safarani
Valeriia and Anna Lyshcenko

Each image was shot using three formats of film Polaroid, by focusing on the simple idea of seeking an “intentional phenomenology” by direct image making and facilitating a broad and reflexive photographic engagement that is about these unique individuals and their presence in a collective nature.

The full hardcover compilation of images Twin Flames is currently available for purchase online.

Tags: , , , ,

To Survive On This Shore – A Compelling Visual Documentary of the Older Trans Community

All images are Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Cover Image: Hank, 76, and Samm, 67, North Little Rock, AR, 2015

Over the past five years photographer Jess T Dugan and social worker & professor Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States in documentation of the stories and imagery of transgender and gender nonconforming older adults in the country. Traveling from coast to coast , the duo sought out subjects whose experiences of life exist in the intersections of gender identity, age , race , ethnicity , sexuality, socioeconomic background &  geographic location. The result of their venture, a moving body of work giving voice & visibility to an underrepresented group of older individuals with a wide variety of narratives spanning throughout the last ninety years, offering a historical record of transgender experiences & activism in the USA in the form of a book and several exhibitions. 

“So many trans-related stories in the media are about people being murdered orare about discrimination of some kind. With this project, I wanted to create representations of many different ways of living and aging as a trans person. I also wanted to record the history of people who, in many cases, paved the road for the world we live in now. I worried their stories were at risk of being lost or forgotten, and I wanted to record and preserve them,” explained Jess T. Dungan.

“For me, part of the inspiration for this project also came from thinking about the limits of knowledge dissemination in the social sciences, especially in terms of our ability to engage in broader cultural forces and public discourse. I saw the potential to make an impact beyond academia by creating this project together, ” added professor Fabbre.

Each story, each image captured and included in the photo series, shines a brighter light on stories that have been long overlooked, and in many ways creates blooms of hope and validation for onlooking generations of trans individuals.

Dee Dee Ngozi, 55, Atlanta, GA, 2016

“This coming into my real, real fullness of knowing why I was different is because I was expressing my spirit to this world. And I didn’t know how God felt about it, but I believe in God and I have a deep spiritual background and I talk with the Holy Spirit constantly who’s taken me from the Lower West Side doing sex work to being at the White House.” – Dee Dee Ngozi .

Sky, 64, and Mike, 55, Palm Springs, CA, 2017

One of the hardest things in terms of transitioning was the difference in personal space. When I was perceived as female, there wasn’t a lot of touching. Women don’t get into each other’s space. When two women are attracted to each other they don’t immediately put their hands on the other woman’s body. It’s not considered appropriate. Whereas the way men cruise, there’s about two seconds of eye contact, and then an approach, and either hands on your chest or hands in your crotch or some other type of immediate physical contact.I started out with a lot of insecurity in terms of my body, insecure about myself, and it has taken time to build confidence.” – Mike

Duchess Milan, 69, Los Angeles, CA, 2017

“I just know I’m me. I don’t think in terms of names and forms and all that. It doesn’t matter.I’m just myself and that’s who I am.I am at peace with myself. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world because you’re never in a hurry to get somewhere, you know, to prove to anyone that you’re who you know you are. I know who I am, and what other people think about me is none of my business. So that’s who I am. I identify as the Duchess.

I knew that I might lose family, that people might reject me. But I weighed that, and I thought,“If I lose everything and everybody, but I keep me, that’s all that matters. That’s all that matters, because I’m not going to live a life that I’m not happy in, for other people.Why?It doesn’t make any sense.”So I put my money down and took my chances. My family accepted me. They came to accept me, and I’ve had kids around me, I’ve gone to all the weddings, all the funerals, and it’s a situation that everybody just thinks of me as who I am. It’s not even an issue anymore. “Oh, you mean her? Oh, that’s just Auntie.” – Duchess Milan

David, 63, Hull, MA, 2015

“When I was five years old,I found my older brother’s first communion suit. It was a very cool looking suit, white and double-breasted, and it fit me perfectly. I wouldn’t take it off.I wore it everyday. Day in and day out, until my parents got so tired of seeing it on me, they turned it into a Halloween costume as a way to get rid of it.When I was older,I played in this little rock band and one time whenI was over at my friend’s house I heard his mother mention a story about a person named Christine Jorgenson who had “changed sex.”I couldn’t keep my mind on practice after that!I wanted to find out more about this person, but you couldn’t Google it, of course, and so it took me months to find it. I was finally able to piece together that this was a person who knew their gender and went somewhere and there were people who could help.” – David

SueZie, 51, and Cheryl, 55, Valrico, FL, 2015

When we got married, I never imagined that someday my husband would become my wife,” Cheryle said. “Right from the start, SueZie confided that she identified as female on the inside, but transition never appeared to be an option. But, I never had a problem with her wearing lingerie. You know, it’s just clothes. I fell in love with the person inside, and what’s on the outside is more about what they feel comfortable with.”

For more information on the ongoing exhibition and book purchases visit To Survive on This Shore.

Tags: , , , , ,

Hen’s Teeth: HONEY DIJON -Black Girl Magic

This evening Hen’s Teeth London launches their latest production HONEY DIJON: Black Girl Magic with Marina Esmeraldo at Dover Street Market which will be followed by an exhibition at the Hen’s Teeth Dublin 8 Gallery. 

The project is a celebration of six black iconic female music icons handpicked by DJ Honey Dijon herself with large-scale neons crafted by Brazilian artist and collaborator Marina Esmeraldo . 

The graphic neon pieces with powder coated aluminium backing feature the likes of names such as Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Grace Jones, Sade, Erykah Badu and Sylvester and also in limited edition A2 & A3 giclée prints, canvas totes and postcards which will be onsale at DSM and online the Hen’s Teeth website post launch. 

Speaking about the concept for the show, Greg Spring, creative director at Hen’s Teeth, said: “This is Hen’s Teeth’s first big international show and the first in a series of planned exhibits that will see us creating shows with musicians and artists who have never curated shows before. To be doing it with our longtime collaborator Marina Esmeraldo and Honey Dijon, an icon in her own right, who has collaborated with COMME des GARÇONS and Dior in the past year and now Hen’s Teeth, is an unbelievable honour.”

Visit Hen’s Teeth for further details.

Tags: , ,

PFW: Balenciaga FW20 – The Sacred and Seductive Combined

Demna Gvasalia is one of the only creative directors who manages to find an enviable balance between staying on trend and being political at the same time. The FW20 show presented in Paris last weekend was a show to remember , one that spoke directly to the inescapable doomsday that will brought by global warming, yet offering subtle glimmers of hope throughout the way. 

The show’s set played a major role in the narrative —  a flooded platform with water that bordered so wide that it submerged the first front rows seatings which was a subtle hint to the the primary responsibilities that lie with the decision makers of the industry. The ceilings of the room were screens programmed to produce eerie graphics birds fleeing and dark lighting which felt like a scene from a horror film. 

It was as if he imagined the day of reckoning where humanity would be confronted with all its wrongdoings against Mother Earth, the day where Mother Earth herself wouldn’t wreak havoc upon the race with a menacing chaos. A mass of confusion so dire that it would wipe out whatever boundaries or structures we previously held which of course includes dress codes. Gvasalia dressed his subjects by fusing and recontextualizing dress codes associated with traditional values and desires. The religious was fused with the every day by way of clerical robes interpreted into casual wear ; bodybuilder fitted outfits made oversized for an one size fits all aesthetic and night gown prints made into powerful evening-wear. Sports, religion, obsession  and seduction are a stripped of their functions and symbolisms and melted into one. It was a political statement aimed at climate change but also one that fired shots in the direction of religion and the traditional symbolism of the sacred versus the seductive. 

“I had a lot of clerical wear in my research. I come from a country where the Orthodox religion has been so predominant. I went to church to confess every Saturday. Back then, I remember looking at all these young priests and monks, wearing these long robes and thinking, ‘How beautiful.’ You see them around Europe with their beards, hair knotted back and backpacks. I don’t know, I find it quite hot—but that’s my fetish,” the designer explained. 

“How comes it is acceptable for clerics to wear that, but if I put on a long jacket and a skirt I will be looked at? I can’t, even in 2020! Religious dress codes are all about hiding the body, about being ashamed—body and sex is the taboo. Whereas when you look into it, some of these people are the nastiest perverts.”

Gvasalia created a collection that spoke to climate change, traditional dress codes and perversions of the church all while making reference to the house’s archives and staying in line with the current day trend. Such level of aptitude and interest in social change showcased, only makes one more intrigued for the house’s re-opening of their couture division later this year.


Tags: , , , ,

Signature African Art: The Way We Were by Oluwole Omofemi

Cover image : Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Omonalisa II’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art

Mayfair based art gallery Signature African Art is set to open it’s new space with an exhibition by Nigerian artist Oluwole Omofemi entitled The Way We Were . In the words of the artist herself , the exhibition will be a celebration of Afrocentric pride and a reflection on the post colonial era. Throughout the exhibition Omofemi explores the importance of black hair in the black community as a call for people to assert their own identity through their own stories and shedding traces and definitions of identity left from colonialism.  

The artist also references more recent times regarding The Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the natural hair movement that came with it, made popular by icons such as Diana Ross , Jimi Hendrix and Angela Davis. 

Throughout her work hair is a metaphor for something deeper , a level of freedom prized with the owning of ones own identity, very much similar to the significance and thought process of black woman choosing to keep or go natural in the community. Rendered in oil and acrylic, her paintings at times have simple primary coloured backgrounds, which lend them a vivid Pop Art sensibility; in others, a darker mood is created, referencing the works of the Old Masters.

Located in Davies Street, Mayfair, Signature African Art was founded by Rahman Akar. Of its first show, he says: “We are delighted to be opening a space in London, and thrilled that Oluwole Omofemi, one of Nigeria’s most compelling young artists, is our first show. In addition to his mastery of composition, his works are at once both celebratory and deeply thought-provoking.”

The Way We Were exhibition opens on the 12th of March at the Signature Art Gallery in Mayfair, it will run until the 9th of April.

Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Root II’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art
Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Omonalisa’ Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art
Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Root III’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art

Tags: , , , ,

Fred Perry x The Museum Of Youth Culture: From Bedrooms to Basements

Cover image by Tony Othen-Bede Association

In collaboration with the Museum of Youth Culture, British brand Fred Perry has  announced the launch of two in-store take overs with the emerging museum in two of their London locations. The aim of the project is to inspire future generations to make an impact on the world around them, and the first installation is under the theme “From Bedrooms to Basements.” 

This takeover is an ode to scenes and sounds made by young people within the last 100 years, which will be displayed through a compilation of crowdsourced photography as well as images from the original archive of Fred Perry. 

The space will also be interactive with a DIY Scanning booths, allowing its audience the chance to participate. 

The Fred Perry x Museum of Youth Culture project is currently in motion in Fred Perry’s Camden & Henrietta Street stores.

Image by Sharon Long

Tags: , ,

Tallawah: A Jamaican story by Jawara & Nadine Ijewere

Later this month photographer Nadine Ijewere and hair stylist Jawara will reveal an exhibition titled Tallawah in collaboration with Dazed Beauty at the Cob Gallery in London.

The showcase takes it’s name from the Jamaican patois word Tallawah, which means small but nonetheless fearless and strong-willed. Throughout the exhibition, Jawara explores his childhood of growing up in Kingston during the peak of Dancehall culture and the influence of creativity in the fashion & hairstyling by the women around him. For photographer Nadine Ijewere, she dives into her Nigerian-Jamaican heritage and aims to paint an image of the stories shared by her mother about the island of Jamaica. 

“This project is very close to my heart,” said Ijewere in a statement. “It was empowering to be able to explore part of my heritage by photographing these beautiful, strong people. The relationship between hair and identity is one I wanted to capture and celebrate – it’s a story that’s important to tell.”

Jawara added: “Small but Strong. Likkle but Tallawah. The strength and beauty of Jamaica.”

Tallawah opens it’s doors at the Cob Gallery in London on January 23rd and will run until February 1st. 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines by The National Gallery of Victoria

Cover Image: John Sex, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring at AREA Club, New York, 1985
Photography © Ben Buchanan

The 1980’s in New York City was a period known for several genres of creativity including music, fashion and of course art. There exists a fair share of names who have all helped define contemporary art as it is today, but two of the most prominent influential names are Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.

Which is why the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne has presented the work of the two artists in an exhibition entitled Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines.

The exhibition offers interesting insights into the artists’ unique visual languages, and reveal for the first time, the intersections between their lives and ideas throughout their friendship. Curated by Dr Dieter Bucchart, it features over 200 artworks including samples of their work to exclusive collaborations as the audience is given a glimpse inside their star studded world with names like Grace Jones , Andy Warhol and Madonna. The exhibition is currently open to the public and will run until the 13th of April 2020. For more info visit NGV

Grace Jones body painted by Keith Haring, New York, 1985 Art © Keith Haring Foundation Photography Tseng Kwong Chi © Muna Tseng Dance Projects
ean-Michel Basquiat in his studio at the Annina Nosei Gallery, May, 1982Photography © Marion Busc

“Ishtar” (1983), synthetic polymer paint, wax crayon and photocopy collage on canvas and wood – Jean-Michel Basquiat Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York, from Collection Ludwig, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen

Tags: , , , , ,

“The Hoodie” – An exhibition by the Het Nieuwe Instituut

If one was to compose a list of the most political articles of clothing in modern day fashion, the hoodie would undoubtedly be in the top five of that line up. The garment which went through it’s prime evolution period with Champion in the 1930’s has grown to tell a variety of several narratives including perspectives in music, subculture, androgyny, gender fluidity and most pressingly tales of social equality. Throughout the past two decades with the aid of the media, the hoodie has come to be accused as the narrators in many cases of police brutality & racism. 

“The Hoodie” exhibition, recently opened at the Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam curated by water and curator Lou Stoppard is an in-depth mixed media showcase involving artworks, garments, printed matter, digital footage, social media posts and other cultural artefacts to tell the story of the garment’s history in society.

It explores and examines conversation themes which enable its viewer to consider and reflect on the hoodie’s complicated relationship with contemporary culture from streetwear icon to workwear to political garment. It features work from a lineup of seminal artists and photographers including David Hammons , Campbell Addy, Sasha Huber, John Edmonds & Lucy Orta as well as brands such as Rick Owens, Off-White, VETEMENETS and Vexed Generation.  The exhibition will run until April 2020 and will also be accompanied by a digital magazine featuring specially commissioned essays, interviews and visuals. 

‘February II, 2019’ by Devan Shimoyama
‘EUnify – Berlin 2019’ by Ari Versluis & Ellie Uyttenbroek,  Exactitudes 168 

Tags: , , , , ,

PAMPAS by Jessica Bishopp – A Short Film on how to spot a Swinger

For her directorial debut filmmaker and artist Jessica Bishopp explores the practice of swinging — habitual group sex or the swapping of swapping of sexual partners  — in the 1970’s. In an imaginative documentary, she  the rumoured notion that suburban swingers identify themselves within the community by planting a feathery planted called Pampas on their front lawns as hidden invitations to each other.

The documentary features the voices of a group of women discussing the rumours that were connected to the plant as they also reminisce on the swinging parties that occurred  in the 70’s. With model and author Naomi Shimada centerstage , the film gives a peek into the worlds of female desire, subcultures, botanical myths and this intriguing suburban legend. 

Tags: , ,

Join the mailing list

Search