White Cube: Cocoa Sculptures With a Bitter Taste of Colonialism

30.10.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

White Cube tells a story about how art can be an ally to a community constricted by neo-colonialism. The feature-length film directed by Renzo Martens documents the formation of Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), and how they mobilised their artwork, to bring economic and ecological growth back to their community. The film is set to premiere in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the international feature film competition at the IDFA film festival in Amsterdam, this November. 

The sculptures are first made using mud and are then 3D scanned and reproduced in cocoa and palm oil in Amsterdam. One sculpture by artist Irene Kanga titled “Forced Love”, depicts a brutal rape to symbolise the catalyst of the Congo Revolt of 1960. 

The artwork is then exhibited in museums and art galleries worldwide and the money from these exhibitions is reinvested back into the community. The White Cube sits on a Lusanga plantation as a pillar for a different future, surrounded by new ecological growth.

“Land or art. If I would have to choose, I would choose both. But if I really have to choose only one, I would choose the land. Where can I put my chair and start making art, if I do not own the land?” – Matthieu Kilapi Kasiama, CATPC.

Renzo’s film and the work of the CATPC, brings light to the complex relationship between the Congolese plantations and the art world. With reports of profits extracted from these plantations to fund museums and galleries such as Tate Modern, the question presides: can these museums ever be truly inclusive when reparations have not been paid to plantation workers who have financed these very institutions? 

“Is there any way, for working people, for the working class to benefit from art? Is there any way for gentrification to be reversed?” – Renzo Martens

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Hair Portraits by Rachel Portesi at The BMAC

18.10.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Cover image: Homage to Louise Bourgoise (quadriptych) 2018

The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) in Vermont recently opened an exhibition with Artist Rachel Portesi and BMAC Chief Curator Mara Williams exploring  the sentimental values of hair as it pertains to identity and its relationship women and femme-identifying individuals throughout society. The exhibit entitled Hair Portraits features a series of Portesi’s tintype photographs of femme identifying models of various ages and ethnicity who see consider hair to be a large part of their identity. Each image through the series reflects on hair’s symbolic significance throughout history, with linkage to culture, fertility, sexual identity and ethnicity. 

“Also informing Hair Portraits is Portesi’s fascination with the cross-cultural presence of hair in historic memorialization and mourning practices. During the Victorian era—which coincided with the rise of tintype photography—wreaths, art, and sculpture were often made using the deceased’s hair as the primary medium, especially among families that couldn’t afford photography. In the Ndebele culture of Zimbabwe and northeastern South Africa (among other ethnic groups), it is customary for family members of all sexes to shave their head during the mourning period, unless the deceased relative willed them exempt prior to passing. Religious sculptures from first-century China have been found to contain human hair in their hollow recesses. And in present-day Western culture, it is not unusual for a parent to save a lock of hair to memorialize their child’s first haircut,” – BMAC

 “I use hair to both honor and say goodbye to past parts of myself. These images address fertility, sexuality, creativity, nurturement, and harmony and discord with nature. Above all, these images — photographs of elaborate, pinned hair sculptures constructed in the studio with the input of their subjects—are a testament to change. In my case, that change is a record of metamorphosis from a past fractured self to an integrated, confident, self-actualized woman,” the artist explained.

Rachel Portesi is now on show at The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, for more information visit The BMAC.

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Unit London presents : The Medium is the Message

11.09.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Cover image : Sthenjwa Luthuli, Untold Stories, 2020 Hand carved wood & 149 x 198cm, courtesy of Unit London

London based Gallery Unit London recently announced the upcoming opening of their exhibition The Medium is the Message — a group show 18 emerging artists exploring the role pigment and blackness plays in the expression of identity through artistic mediums. Set to open on October 2nd, the showcased has been curated by Azu Nwagbogu with the aid of assistant curators Wunika Mukan & Jana Terblanche. With the work of Wonder Buhle Mbambo, Ngozi Schommers, Barry Yusufu among many others the exhibition tells the story of a world which stigmatises Blackness & Brownness while simultaneously celebrating its cultural fruits. Each artist throughout the exhibition approaches this from unique angles, names like Collins Obijiaku for example uses portraiture, domestic settings and seemingly mundane scenes to reflect notions of identity with compositions. While many of the other artists challenge stereotypes and politicised images of black and brown people by focusing on traditions ritual and familial bonds. 

Katlego Tlabela, Tableau Vivant ll Step Ya Money Up! (After Kerry James Marshell’s Club Couple), 2020, Acrylic, ink and collage on canvas Diptych, 77 x 154cm each, 77 x 77 cm, courtesy of Unit London

‘While representation is important, it is empty if it is not succeeded by unfettered existence. This exhibition veers away from the performative power of the image and ponders existence beyond representation. The Blackness presented here is authentic, quiet, and confident. It rejects the societal gaze whereby Blackness is inextricably linked to majesty or misery with very little gradation between the two, their art unveils many facets of black existence that encompass play, solitude, contemplation and a range of human experience with approaches that do not kowtow to exoticism, but rather reflect the communities from whence they were birthed,’ explained curator Azu Nwagbogu . 

For the full list of artists and further information about the exhibit visit theunitldn.com 

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ANIME SALVE by Jess Kohl – A Detailed Visual Account of Neapolitan Queer Culture

26.08.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

British photographer and director Jess Kohl is scheduled to inaugurate her first Italian solo exhibition next month under the title Anime Salve. Set to debut in Napoli, Italy the presentation is a visual documentary recollected during the last two years, intimately exploring themes of gender non-conformity in a city like Scampia where spirituality, gender and sexuality have long co-existed.

Initially her body of work began with a magnification of the concept of the Italian slang ‘femminielli’ which is a word used to describe effeminate men — often used in modern Neapolitan culture. The exhibition then takes its viewers on a journey throughout the lives of five people, most living in Scampia, as they’re framed in intimate portraits and candid shots. A woman named Alessia is documented living with her elderly mother Amalia and Kohl captures current moments of an ever-changing narrative that moves with the city that surrounds them. 

Each subject was documented over a period of years,  which gives an accurate scope of their personal evolution and an authentic representation of marginalised communities throughout change. Named after the famous album of Italian songwriter Fabrizio De André, the exhibition (which translates to “solitary spirits”), also includes monochromatic images documenting the architectural and developments of the Scampian landscape, an exploration of the intersection between queerness and Catholicism, and a visual map between traditions of the femminielli and modern day trans lives. It then closes with a thought-provoking ending composed of 8 portraits that bridges a sentimental connection between the lives of trans women in Napoli and trans women in Koovagam, India through cultural similarities and liberal attitudes towards gender.

Also accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue by ShowDesk, giving a more detailed scope on the documentary which includes an essay by Paolo Valerio, honorary professor of clinical  psychology at the Federico II Naples University. Anime Salve will officially open its doors on September 11th 2020 at the Palazzo delle Arti Napoli. 

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Twin Talks: Osaze Akil – A refreshing mix of modern & traditional black culture

14.08.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Traditional renaissance art is a genre that was created with a central focus on European history, religion and identity which was mainly if not entirely centred around whiteness. However upon our recent discovery of the Atlanta based visual artist Osaze Akil’s work, we found ourselves moved by his method of re-framing some of these traditionally white narratives to include black identities, while also offering contemporary takes on themes of black divinity with influences from African cultures spirituality and fashion. His work speaks volumes in such a way where it uses different elements and smaller details that ultimately come together to tell stories that speak proudly to both modern & traditional black heritage and culture. Which is why Twin chose to sit down with the artist himself to gain a more accurate idea of the process, inspirations and aspirations behind his work. 

Tell me about your journey, how did you first start painting ? 

I’ve been painting for most of my life. As a child, my mother painted leisurely so I think I picked that up from her. I started painting for myself when I was about six or seven, but I was drawing and sketching well before that. I had all of these ideas and ways that I saw and interpreted the world, and putting them on canvas always felt like a sweet release. If I didn’t have the language [verbally], I had the language to express myself through the art I created.

Security Rising by Osaze Akil

What or who would you say is your biggest influence/s?

I have major influences that  all contribute to my art in different ways. The first would be Toni Morrison. She’s one of my favorite authors and I’ve always been drawn to the mysticism that she alludes to in her work. The idea that black people have a sort of magic, that isn’t self contained, but shared and experienced communally was always something that intrigued me. With my paintings, I definitely want them to feel magical- that there’s an inherent magic that isn’t forced, but still felt by anyone looking at the piece. Another big influence of mine is Axel Vervoordt.

He is an interior designer and art collector, and often references the energy of a space or of an object being transformative. For me, I think of “spaces” more metaphorically. I think about the spaces that black people have been provided, and have been made by us for ourselves, and how they hold the weight that they do because of the energy that we’ve brought into them. Most of the subjects in my paintings are indoors, or enclosed in some sense, which reinforces my idea of us bringing our magic and our energy into the confines of our reality and making it work for us. We’re often put in boxes, and yet we make them beautiful, exciting, and influential. 

Revolutionized Luxury by Osaze Akil

A lot of your work in many ways feel quite sacred, with some even holding biblical titles , what part does religion or spirituality play in your process ? 

I grew up in church. Although I don’t consider myself to be a fundamentalist, I’ve always felt that I am guided, protected, and supported by something much larger than myself. My belief in God is a core part of my identity, if not the most important. I feel that God has given me a gift, which is my talent, and I honor that by referencing God’s work through me in my pieces. Painting has become not only a meditative practice for me but a form of worship. I also often reflect on the importance that spirituality has held in my culture, as an African American. Since slavery, our connection to God and the way that we worship has been the foundation for a lot of ways that we operate today, intraculturally and with the world in general.  

Tignon Law by Osaze Akil

As a contemporary artist, what role would you like your work to play in modern day society ?

I feel that I’m rewriting history, and telling a new story. When walking through art museums as a child, I never saw depictions of black people being exalted, significant, worthy of comfort, or abundance. I feel that had I seen more of that growing up, I wouldn’t have lived thinking that so many positive things that we can get from life could only be afforded to me if I wasn’t who I was. I want those younger than me to have that representation, and to know that even though our past in this country started in bondage, our future can be free.

Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace by Osaze Akil

What’s the part of your process that you find most exciting? 

I love when I first get an idea, and I do the pre-sketch. I sketch out my paintings on paper about 4-5 times before I actually put anything on canvas. Going through that process, being introspective, and understanding what I want to say through it is very gratifying. Also, the end when it’s completed is also a very exciting feeling.

Do you have a favourite piece of yours? 

I don’t think I’ve yet made my favorite piece. If I had to choose, it would be my “Madonna and Child” piece. We haven’t seen many depictions of Christ or the Virgin Mary as anything other than white. So, challenging that felt important to me. 

Peaceful Isolation by Osaze Akil

How was your lockdown experience? Did you find yourself more or less inspired?

I am definitely more inspired in lockdown than before. Before, there were so many distractions and interactions that I had on a daily basis that took my mind away from creating. Now, I’m forced to sit with myself, learn new things, and focus on things in different ways which automatically sparks inspiration.

Where can one purchase your work ? 

My work can be purchased on my website! osazeakil.com

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Peter Lindbergh : Untold Stories at Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg

13.08.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Earlier this year Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg inaugurated their run of the ongoing exhibition Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories. The exhibit features unseen work of the iconic German fashion photographer and is the first ever survey exhibition curated by Peter Lindbergh himself prior to his passing in September 2019. It celebrates the legacy of his work with a collection of 140 photographs accumulated over two years which offer an insight into his extensive oeuvre, spanning from the 1980’s the present day.

The first time I saw my photographs on the walls of the exhibition mock-up, I was startled, but in a positive way. It was overwhelming to be thus confronted with who I am,” Lindbergh explained during an interview in 2019. His famous black and white work is known for transcending their own context and giving an alternate spin on fashion photography by finding ways to not have his images centred around the fashion. 

© Peter LindberghCourtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris

“The exhibition allowed me to reconsider my images in a non fashion context. The presentation aims to open the photographs to different interpretations and perspectives. However, I don’t try to claim that my pictures aren’t fashion photographs, that wouldn’t be true either. I insist on the definition “fashion photography because for me that terms doesn’t mean that one has to depict fashion — photography is much bigger than fashion, it is a part of contemporary culture, ” he commented. 

The showcase is divided into three chapters, two of which are large scale installations: opening with Manifest, which offers an insightful thought provoking immersive introduction to the late photographer’s perspective of fashion photography; while the central section features never before experimental works of the photographers shown in pairs or groups; and it then closes with a film installation entitled Testament (2014) which is an unveiling of a hither unknown side of the character of the iconic image maker featuring some unexpected and emotionally moving subjects. The exhibition is currently on at the  Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg until the the 1st of November and is also accompanied by a 320 page hardcover catalogue with 150 images and exclusive interviews with the photographer. For more information visit MKG.

© Peter LindberghCourtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris

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The Auction Collective takes residency at Browns East

12.08.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Cover Image: Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark, Untitled (737935), 2019/2020

This week The Auction Collective officially launched a residency at Browns East London in celebration of the arts in efforts to showcase some of the finest emerging global talent with themes ranging from the art of seduction , icons and the future.  The selection of artists include carefully curated exciting up and coming names in contemporary including Rayvenn D’Clark, Realf Heygate, Claudia Legge, James Rogers, Andrew Hardy among others whose work in the exhibit will all be available for purchase. 

We have long been admirers of Browns. Their 50 year history of curating top quality collections of the latest designers is an inspiration to us and our drive to give a voice to the rising stars of the contemporary art scene,” explained Tom Best, Founder of The Auction Collective. The exhibit is currently on show at Browns East London and will run until December this year. 

Claudia Legge, Havana Street, 2016 Archival pigment print on German Etching paper 40 x 60 cm

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

22.07.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

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. 

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Looking Through Lockdown with Jessica Madavo

16.07.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

All images courtesy of Jessica Madava

Exploring the self during London’s lockdown, photographer Jessica Madavo took the time she found herself immersed in to turn her photography on her own form. Being granted this time to explore her own representation, Jessica shared her images captured and spoke to us about her own motivations and artistic drive.  

Tell us a little about your book you have just created

Its a book full of self portraits I took during lockdown. 

What compelled you to create this book?

I’ve been alone during lockdown, and that that meant no people around me to shoot. I then started experimenting more with different ways I could capture myself and really loved the process. I did find it strange to begin with, as I don’t see as being in front of the camera. 

How did you get into photography?

I moved from Johannesburg when I was 15 years old, five years ago and had the most amazing photography teacher Mr Wallace. He really encouraged me to spend as much time taking analogue photographs, building small light box cameras and working on the images in the darkroom and it kind of kept on going from there. 

What subjects and themes do you explore in your photography?

I’m super interested in people, and faces specifically. It’s interesting to me, how I am able to convey how that person is making me feel in an image and that’s the collaboration that keeps me going. 

What power has photography proved in the last few months for you?

Photography really has become a tool for me to look at the world, and in a sense respond visually to issues I see as important. That, and really just being able to almost have a document for each of the periods in my life. 

What photographers have you taken inspiration from?

I always find this a hard question because I have a lot of love and appreciation for a few photographers, for a lot of different reasons. Someone who jumps to mind immediately because of his dreamy use of light is Paolo Roversi, while Leo Colombo’s colour images constantly catch my eye. Other favourites are include Malick Sidibé, and probably Vivanne Sassen. 

What inspires you in a broader sense?

Since leaving South Africa, I’ve really loved relearning parts about my heritage that I pervious hadn’t really thought about. Music too is something that I truly love. 

What is on your horizon?

I’m still studying, so I’m hoping to go back to university in October, but apart from that I’m just collaborating as much as possible and keeping an open mind to my work. 

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LIMBO Magazine – A Lockdown Cultural Time Capsule

13.07.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

This week a new zine model entitled LIMBO made its debut which was created out of a lack of government support for the arts and creative industries during these difficult times. The LIMBO model , launched by publisher Nick Chapin (Frieze, Vice) is a community drive model with the aim of supporting out-of-work creative minds. The first issue edited by Francesca Gavin, Art Editor for Twin, Kaleidoscope, Dazed & NTS, with creative direction by David Lane of The Gourmand, features a myriad of almost 100 artists including Wolfgang Tillmans, Peaches, Collier Schorr, Tyler Mitchell, Brain Dead, Paul Noble , Georgina Johnson , Carol Bove, Honey Dijon among others who have contributed their art, ideas and humour born out of the global lockdown.

The zine is seen as somewhat of a time capsule , offering creative insight, hope , humour and vision during a time where everything seems so unsure. The publication is a 176 page book that recalls DIY magazines with a method of patchwork , created with expressive work with lo-fi techniques. The magazine also offers a non-traditional approach to publishing as all profits from advertising and issue sales will be distributed directly to the contributors and the staff who need it most. Some of whom have opted to waive their fees and agreed to allow their portions of the profits to be donated to those in need like Vivienne Westwood, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tyler Mitchell and others.  

The book is now available for purchase online limbomagazine.com 

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GUCCI x Bruce Gilden Beaten & Blown by the Wind

11.07.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Gucci’s latest venture is a limited edition hardcover art book shot in Rome by photographer Bruce Gilden and entitled “Beaten & Blown by The Wind”. The book features a portfolio of street portraits and imagery of the house’s pre-fall 2020 collection with faces like advocate Bethann Hardison, Singer Achille Lauro and actress/model Benedetta Barzini. 

“I have never made a book in this way before, which I viewed as a photographic challenge, and the end result is a creative collaboration with Alessandro Michele. Having Rome as the backdrop was great, the city really inspires me—the beauty of the architecture and its age and watching how the Roman people move around their unique surroundings, as well as discovering the statues in the park high above Rome that mix with beautiful clouds, and the panorama of the city below… it all lent itself for some good pictures,” explained photographer Bruce Gilden.

The images are all featured in black and white and give insight into the city of Rome and all its wonders through Gilden’s lens. It is presented in a format that takes inspiration from vintage tomes with a luxurious feel that create an interesting contrast with the earthy reality of its contents. ‘Beaten & Blown by the Wind’ is currently distributed by IDEA Books and will also be available at Gucci Garden in Florence and the Gucci Wooster Bookstore in New York.

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Meet Nuda: the independent publication from Stockholm that looks beyond the meaning of spiritual for its latest edition

30.06.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

We spoke to the co-founders Nora and Frida about the embryo for Nuda, whether artists should go to space, and looking within the self for definition. 

Tell us about the ethos behind Nuda, and how it came to be founded.

Nora Arrhenius Hagdahl: Nuda is foremost a space for us to create without interruption, a platform where you can make what you want to make because you enjoy making it. What we love to make most is books, probably because it’s a way to combine so many elements – art, design, text, ideas, photography, fashion, people and philosophy – and create a context and visual world for them. A Gesamtkunstwerk contained between cover and back. 

Frida Vega Salomonsson: The embryo for Nuda was originally founded when we were in high school. We were young, naive and wanted to spread our ideas and aesthetics with the world. Now we’re semi-young and semi-naive. We want to make books that are both thought provoking as well as nice looking. We never claim to have the answer, rather we like to ask questions and display different and sometimes opposite views on a topic. 

Your issues work on themes: how are these decided? 

N: We don’t decide on a theme, the theme decides on us. We exist in a fluxus of ideas and you just have to reach out and grab it. 


F: For this issue, Beyond, it came down to topics we’ve discussed and noticed in our own lives. I found myself at a tantra wedding and Nora had been freaking bothered by all her friends taking life advice from apps like Co-Star. When did that become a reasonable source to find direction for intellectual people?

N: It felt like people around us were searching for new spiritual and profound experiences. Sweden is a very secular and a country of sceptics, and all of a sudden everyone we knew were looking for answers in the stars, tarot cards, meditation and psychedelics. People are fascinated, need and want more to life than what reality can offer – so that became the world we wanted to explore. 

With the culling and closure of many publishing houses in light of C19, will we see a sort of Darwinistic evolution of magazines? What does its future look like to you?

F: I don’t know? Are people still stupid enough to start print publications? It’s a trap, heaps of work – small payout (but a lot of fun, at least that’s what we tell ourselves). Hopefully other people are not as naive as we are, but you have to finish what you started right? Hopefully Covid-times will at least make people more interested in reading, because what else can you do when in lockdown?

N: It’s a great time to feed your intellect and indulge in imagery, concepts, thoughts and reflection. In history, dark times prove to be very constructive for creativity and often become a time when people can explore outside of the set framework, a source of originality one can say maybe? Change can be a good ground to explore new ideas. 

F: Being on the edge on survival may serve as a profound source of inspiration? I hope so. Future looks dark from over here, but even more reason to continue. Fingers crossed.

Nuda is based in Stockholm: has this influenced the magazine at all?

N: Have you ever been in Stockholm? It’s clean and in winter it’s quiet and dark as fuck – maybe that has influenced our aesthetic.

F: Stockholm is also a very small city, there isn’t one isolated fashion scene, one isolated art scene and one isolated design scene. All these scenes are merged together and influence each other, perhaps more than in most cities, because it’s a necessity. That’s an approach we have for the magazine as well. Mixing ideas and people from various fields. 

N: Rather than only looking at what’s around us and picking up inspiration from what we see, for this issue at least, we wanted to look at what’s within us, look at what we can’t see but feel. Aiming to touch on those experiences that are of a more universal character.

What can we expect from your third issue, Beyond, that has just been released?

F: Beyond is a guided journey through the immaterial aspects of life. We humans, and all species, have very limited ways to experience the world, we have to rely on our senses, our eyes, our nose. But there is so much out there that we can’t see or register with our senses. What if all humans were born with eyes that would only allow x-ray vision, that would dramatically affect our conception of the world around us.

N: In the book Marina Abramović tells us about her belief in parallel realities and Michael Pollan argues for the benefits of psychedelics. The astronaut Christer Fuglesang speaks about whether we should have artists in space and Jemima Kirke says the only spirituality that exists is love. Jeremy Shaw speaks about the multiple views of transcendence, Roy Andersson don’t believe in a life after this. Johnny Johansson says that god, for all he knows, could be a rabbit. The artist Cecilia Edefalk holds a séance to make contact with Hilma af Klint and the famous spoon bender Uri Geller speaks about his encounters with extra-terrestrials – it’s a march of different perspectives on the immaterial and the world beyond! 

What can we expect from Nuda in the future?

F: Don’t expect so much from us. To quote the legend Stephen Hawking: “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”

N: Or as Sylvia Plath says: “If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.”

F: Perhaps Bruce Lee said it best, “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

Follow nuda on: @nudapaper

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“My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness” – The Project / Fundraiser highlighting the beauty of Black Queerness

24.06.2020 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Cover image: Black Dolls by Campbell Addy & William Ndatira

“My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness” is an ongoing digital initiative launched by Twin’s online editor Jordan Anderson as a celebration and exploration of black queer identity. “It is a protest , a celebration that frames blackness as a polyphony, a genre or melody with a vast variety of notes & textures, denouncing both white queer racism and black queer antagonism by way art , film and literature.” The initative launched yesterday is an initiative that holds 3 aspects, the primary being a limited edition  print sale / fundraiser featuring the works of 12 photographers Tim Walker, Campbell Addy, Michael Bailey Gates, Sackitey Tesa, Hao Zeng, Daniel Obasi, Florian Joahn, Kennedi Carter, David Uzochukwu, Emmanuel Sanchez-Monsalve, Justin French & Myles Loftin who have given their interpretations of black queer identity through imagery — 100% of proceeds of which will be split between two charities centred around Black Trans Lives. The second aspect of the is a weekly updated journal, shot by photographer Damien Frost, who documents and trans / non binary people of colour from all around the world as the site provides a virtual space for them to exist and be celebrated in all their glory.

The latter aspect of the project , is a weekly film screening of filmmaker the late Marlon Riggs’ films who document the history of the Black Queer Identity within American society. The project will run for three weeks and will carry weekly updates and reminders on the MQBMBQ instagram . To discover more information, visit MQBMBQ.COM  

Gully Queens by Tim Walker

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The Earth Issue’s Freedom Fundraiser – Round 2

09.06.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Cover image : Lauren Mary Fan Gerstel – Bus Driver, 2017

Last week The Earth Issue — a collective of artists and creative professionals working at the convergence of fine art and environmentalism — launched the first instalment of their Freedom Fundraiser. The initiative entails a print sale put together to raise funds for bail contributions and to support organisations fighting for social justice in response to recent events in America regarding the murder of George Floyd and the great movement which has followed. The Earth Issue has taken this opportunity to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by donating to the cause. The first wave from last week featured the work of over 80 artists and photographers from around the world , and has managed to raise over £70,000 in 3 days  100% of which will be donated. 

Markn , Joseph Siblings, 2020

“I was feeling really upset about what was going on and just feeling kind of helpless as a white person , so I wanted to make sure that I contribute, so I decided to start this print fundraiser and initially reached out to all of my contacts to try and see if I could get anyone to donate, and in a few hours we thankfully managed to put together over 90 artists. My entire team, which is a collective of people from different origins and backgrounds came together  and pulled on their respective resources and got it done in about 20 hours , which I’m really grateful for, ”explained Elena Cremona, The Earth Issue Founder,  Creative Director & Print Media Coordinator 

The collective now gears up for their second wave of the initiative to be launched tomorrow morning, where another round of limited edition prints will be put on sale including artists and photographers such as Chieska Fortune Smith, Johanna Tagada-Hofbeck , Edwin Antonio, Olivia Rose, Harley Weir,  Justin Tyler Close among many others. A 100% of the proceeds after printing and shipping raised  from this wave will be split amongst the organisations on Bail Funds: George Floyd and the 4Front Project. 

“ We want to thank the artists who donated their work to this initiative , and of course everyone who contributed by purchasing prints. We are overwhelmed by your quick and generous response — the power of the global and creative community to rally together and support community struggle in a time of need has been truly heartening.” 

To keep up with the launch of the The Earth Issue Freedom Fundraiser’s second wave , visit TheEarthIssueFreedomFundraiser.com

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SAINT LAURENT RIVE DROITE : ‘NOSES ELBOWS AND KNEES’ by Mario Sorrenti & John Baldessari

21.05.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Saint Laurent Rive Droite recently announced that it has exclusively launched the prestigious phonebook by Mario Sorrenti and John Baldessari “Noses Elbows and Knees.” Curated by Neville Wakefield, the book was originally published at the end of the “Noses Elbows and Knees” exhibition in 2017 ,  and explores the work of Baldessari’s signature paintings of body parts on photographs , giving a nod towards Hollywood culture with elements of bold colour, while Sorrenti’s work on the book was a reinterpretation of 90’s beauty photographs .

Together the duo question the notion of familiar representations through codes of nudity in society , fashion, collage and photography. Each copy of the book is signed by both artists and are currently available for pre-order in Saint Laurent Rive Droite’s Paris and LA stores.

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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.

15.05.2020 | Blog , Culture | BY:

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. 

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“Inside Helmut Newton 100″ – A Digital Initiative

07.05.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Helmut Newton is known by many as one the most dexterous photographers of the 20th century. His notorious black and white work pushed the boundaries for fashion and fine-art photography, as he was one of the pioneers to explore themes such as sexuality and femininity within fashion.  The Newlands House Gallery was recently opened which is a space located in Petworth dedicated to contemporary art, photography and design. 

The space’s inaugural exhibition titled HELMUT NEWTON 100, which debuted in March was temporarily closed as a result of the current health crisis, but in response the gallery has introduced “Inside Helmut Newton 100.”

Curated by the gallery’s artistic director, auctioneer, art dealer and DJ Simon De Pury, the digital exhibition features a virtual tour of the exhibition which can be viewed via instagram and facebook as he takes the audience through the collection of iconic portraits, landscapes and fashion images, as well as glimpses of some never before seen artwork from the photographer.  The virtual initiative will also feature a section titled “friends of Helmut” which will engage some of the photographer’s friends such as Mary McCartney & Juergen Teller in discussion . Keep up with gallery’s digital endeavours by following Newlands.House.Gallery.

Jenny Capitain, Pension Dorian, Berlin, 1977’ by Helmut Newton
Neewlands House Gallery by Elizabeth Zeschin
Neewlands House Gallery by Elizabeth Zeschin

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Imagining the Self by Adaeze Ihebom

30.04.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

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. 

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The global drag community in quarantine captured by Damien Frost

28.04.2020 | Beauty , Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

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.

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

27.04.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

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.  

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