High life

08.03.2011 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

The Barbican’s latest exhibition Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970’s brings together the work of three of SoHo’s artistic anarchists – Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown and Gordon Matta-Clark.

The trio were collaborative vigilantes amidst escalating economic turmoil, with Manhattan’s industrial wasteland providing the creative playground for their territorial endeavors.

Laurie Anderson seems the most trusting of New York’s badlands, cataloging dreams induced by sleeping in various locations across the city in the Institutional Dream series, including a nap on the beach at Coney Island. In another room you come across her attempts to reverse the street’s code of conduct with a photo series recording the men of SoHo who made seedy comments to her in the street. Two young guys leaning out of a Chevrolet who moments before had cat-called Let’s go for a ride cutie are snapped along with a man near a fire hydrant who had muttered, “I’d like to screw you baby.”

If Anderson’s concern is the social or intangible effects of New York’s wild downtown district, Matta-Clark’s reaction is much more invasive. Blurring boundaries of sculpture and architecture, MC went as far as dissecting chunks of the city’s rooftops in a bid to catalogue his ‘anarchitectural’ view of unusable properties in Staten Island and Queens.

The interactive and exhibitionist kinship between the three artists is maybe best illustrated by the work of the second female artist, performer Trisha Brown, who teetered on the surface of this disturbed cityscape; taking her medium of dance off the stage and onto the rooftops.

This is a rare and revealing survey of New York’s recent history in the shady era before high rents and fashionable quarters. And it’s bound to inspire some very modern admiration for their original brand of daredevil urban creativity.

Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s is at the Barbican Art Gallery, until 22 May 2011.

Words by Julia Hobbs

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Red, hot and blue

17.02.2011 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

The East End’s newest gallery, French Riviera 1988, opened its doors last night to a packed house. Behind this otherwise inconspicuous neon-lit shop front is the latest project space by the artist duo Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski. Their spacey inaugural show, Horizon Hypnotique features an ambient collection of distorted photographs, holographic and video works by artists including Alex Ressel, Beatriz Olabarrieta, Lucy Woodhouse and Richard Parry.  In-between the crowd, blurred silhouettes of red-hued figures almost dance across the downstairs rooms of the house. The spirit of hazy nights out and their seductive, reckless female stars floods the gallery, and it’s hard not to sway to their invisible beat.

Horizon Hypnotique runs from the 18th February – 13th March 2011 at French Riviera 1988.
Open Friday – Sunday, 12 – 6 pm and by appointment.

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Will you be my Boy Friend?

08.02.2011 | Blog , Music | BY:

Twin meets Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown of slow motion-pop duet Boy Friend to talk about their latest dreamy incarnation, a U.S. girl group world takeover and what it’s like to be a twin…

Boy Friend emerged from a previous project, Sleep ∞ Over, how did it come about?
Christa: We’ve played music together on and off for the last 12 years, and have managed to stay super close through all the ups and downs. When Sleep ∞ Over began to fall apart, it only felt natural to start afresh with each other in a new band. The Boy Friend EP came directly after the S.O. breakup, and was definitely therapeutic. We’re looking forward to new adventures in sound with this new project.

Sarah: The break-up wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences. I think we needed a fresh start and to stay busy and positive, so we’re both really pumped to be making new music.

What are your roles within the Boy Friend project?
Christa: I play keys and sing; which is what I’ve done for quite a while now, though I’ve never had so much of my voice thrown into the mix. I also tinker with other instruments- My twin is sort of a musical savant, so I’ve learned a lot from her.

Sarah: I just play

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guitar and attempt to sing back up. I’ve taken piano and violin lessons and I played bass in our high school band/project. I’m mostly just here to Keep IT Real.

From a personal rather than stylistic perspective, how would you distinguish the music you produce as Boy Friend from your previous work?
Christa: I have personally never poured so much into a musical project before. I’ve been in several bands where I wasn’t doing the majority of the writing, so I wasn’t quite as attached as I am now. I feel so comfortable working with Sarah, I don’t hold anything back. We both tell it like it is to each other and we want this project to be totally true to ourselves.

Sarah: I have to sing.

Christa, co-incidentally you’re a twin – when it comes to your creative relationships would you credit this as having an influence?
Christa: It has definitely played a role, but I’m not sure it’s an advantage. Me and my sister have played music together on and off and perhaps grabbed some attention because of the identical twin factor (and have always been competitive with any of our artistic projects), but we’re both pretty different as individuals.


In recent years there’s been a surge in American female bands. With groups such as Vivian Girls and Warpaint snowballing into mainstream popularity and inevitable comparisons being drawn across the genre, do you think this is the result of an industrious generation of female artists or are audiences just growing more attuned to female groups?
Christa: I think it’s fucking awesome that so many females are getting into the mix, but I don’t feel anyone should be judged solely on gender. Maybe the surge has to do with confidence…either way it’s about talent. I think audiences love diversity, so put those two together and 2012 is going to be AMAZING.

Sarah: I think it’s more socially acceptable now to pursue an artistic career for both men and women. Also I don’t think gender plays a role in anyone’s ability to be creative.

Who are your strongest influences?
Harry Nilsson, Paul Simon, Ray Lynch, Fleetwood Mac, Brian Wilson, The Bangles, Boyz 2 Men, The Cure, The Cranberries, Danny Elfman, Wanda Jackson, The Everly Brothers and R. Kelly

Whose music are you currently most excited by?
Christa: Chat Room, Grimes, Love Inks, I Dazzler, Melted Toys, Airwaves, Gucci Mane

Sarah: R. KELLY, Gucci Mane, SURVIVE, Speculator

You have a very luxurious euphoric sound – how do you see your music evolving in the future?
Grittier, bigger, crazier, love jams.

Listen to Boy Friend at boyfriendmusic.bandcamp.com

Words by Julia Hobbs.

Photo diary by Boy Friend.

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Rainbow bright

07.02.2011 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

The opening of Susan Hiller’s major exhibition at the Tate Britain makes the London-based artist and her fascination with the intangible teeth marks of superstition in modern culture appropriately omnipresent in the capital.

Meanwhile, Hiller’s solo show An Ongoing Investigation, at Timothy Taylor Gallery continues Hiller’s 30-year study of subliminal psychology. With a typically heterogeneous spread of visual media Hiller exercises her kleptomaniac tendencies by reconceptualising some very familiar works by Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp and Yves Klein.

The psychoanalytical quality of Hiller’s work extends into the mind of the observer – through her studied restaging she re-maps modernist history, poking into our subconscious with a lightness of touch that only an anthropologist could muster.

Facing her work, it’s hard to decipher whether they are homage to a collective genealogy or parody. The Timothy Taylor show is defiantly anti-retrospective: the original works are transformed by Hiller’s strategic impersonation to become living pieces, re-acclimatized within a new century rather than stranded as relics of another era.

Susan Hiller: An Ongoing Investigation is at the Timothy Taylor Gallery from until the 5th March. A major survey exhibition curated by Ann Gallagher is currently taking place at Tate Britain until the 15th May.

Words by Julia Hobbs.

Images courtesy of Timothy Taylor Gallery, London.

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Nature is ancient

31.01.2011 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

The most recent work of the prolific LA-based video artist Diana Thater transports viewers from within the four walls of Hauser & Wirth’s Piccadilly gallery and into the Zone of Alienation that surrounds Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster site.

Via fragmented footage following wild Przewalski’s Horses, Thater invites viewers into a flickering realm to pose questions about the relationship between man and nature; encasing them within a colourful visual tableau that momentarily distorts perceptions of reality. The video projections that swamp the large blank space are designed to render you online casino bonus childlike, beckoning the realisation that humans exist in this landscape only by implication – through the eroded architecture dotted across the one-hundred mile wide radioactive territory that is navigated during the film. This is not a world that man has abandoned by choice; it is an environment where animals – endangered animals at that – have succeeded humans and thrived. It”s important to remind oneself that this is not an imagined alternate state, but a visceral consequence of our recent history. And yet whilst this is considered Thater’s darkest work to date, it exudes an unyielding optimism that somehow nature will overcome man’s misdemeanours and out-survive us all. And that is a soothing thought.

Diana Thater, Chernobyl is at Hauser & Wirth London, Piccadilly until 5th March.

Words bu Julia Hobbs.

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Double edged sound

25.01.2011 | Blog , Culture , Music | BY:

The aching, fatalistic sounds of musician George Lewis Jr. under the sobriquet Twin Shadow have been steadily engulfing L.A. But with an eagerly anticipated live appearance at London’s Lexington theatre tonight, Lewis’ mesmerizing odes to spirits present and passed are set to make a long-awaited first impression on transatlantic followers.

It’s not only Lewis’ liquescent voice that is the lure; spearheaded by standout track Slow, the album, Forget, is addictive. Crisp, mournful and mid-tempo ballads blur into ticking top online casinos guitar-heavy tracks, creating a debut work that feels almost scientific in its ratio of Eighties New Wave and Brit Pop. It”s a warming blend.

The title track’s crashing beat and distortion spirals with intensity, while the blissed-out scales that rise and fall throughout When We’re Dancing reach biting point with euphoric urgency in At My Heels. Above all, Twin Shadow’s freshness adds a necessary dose of springtime to your playlist. Call it a Twin thing.

Twin Shadow plays tonight at The Lexington, 96-98 Pentonville Road, London.
Forget by Twin Shadow at 4ad.com.

Words by Julia Hobbs.

Images by Samantha West and Alex John Beck.

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