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- 09/25/13--11:50: Canvases on the Catwalk: New York Fashion Week 2014
- 09/25/13--12:46: Jem Cohen on Creating an "Experiential Documentary," Opening at BAM
- 09/25/13--13:27: Jean-Pierre Raynaud Collaborates with Piece d’Anarchive
- 09/25/13--14:44: Highlights from MAD's Loot Exhibition and Sale
- 09/25/13--15:04: Canvases on the Catwalk: Milan Fashion Week
- 09/25/13--16:37: Robert Storr, Tom Sachs, Daniel Libeskind Speak at the BCL Summit
- 09/25/13--18:44: Canvases on the Catwalk — London Fashion Week Spring 2014
- 09/25/13--21:49: Top 8 New Watches at Watches & Wonders
- 09/25/13--21:53: Esprit Dior at MoCA Shanghai
- 09/27/13--07:44: Best Booth Designs at Watches & Wonders
This week, artist and filmmaker Jem Cohen stages a unique multimedia project at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of the Next Wave Festival, in conjunction with Wordless Music. “We Have An Anchor” combines footage shot in Nova Scotia with live musical accompaniment, courtesy of Jim White(Dirty Three), Guy Piccioti(Fugazi), and members of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Thee Silver Mount Zion, and White Magic. Debuted last year in Troy, NY (where it was commissioned for its Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center), this will also be its New York City premiere, running in three showings tonight through Friday. Scott Indrisek spoke with Cohen about his “experiential documentary.”
Can you talk a bit about the significance of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia, how the place spoke to you — both as a traveler and for its visual subject?
Cape Breton is pretty isolated, often very wild; beautiful and tough in equal measure. It hasn't been destroyed by overdevelopment, corporate advertising and so on. It reminds me of Scotland and Wales, which I explored a little as a kid. But it's also hard to know. Everything isn't spelled out for you and the people are very independent and sometimes protective. They've seen some hard things. And every place has a secret history, odd intersections of science and folklore and people, which in Cape Breton includes some extraordinary artists — June Leaf and Robert Frank are the ones I most indelibly associate with the place — along with some very fine poets, such as Elizabeth Bishop and Don Domanski. Visually, it's very elemental there. Ocean, wind, sky, and woods are the dominant facts and it's nice to work with those things. And [to work with] with time, which feels very different there.
Is We Have An Anchor a 'documentary project' in the sense that it's trying to present a literal or factual truth about a place, or is the interpretation more poetic (along the lines of what we might call 'creative fiction'?)
The project has little to do with literal or factual truth; it's what I call an experiential documentary in that it's mostly about how a place feels, which includes an immediate sensory aspect and a more elusive lyrical quality that sometimes lies beneath the surface. Walker Evans used the term 'lyric' in regards to the way that facts can be poetic, maybe especially if they aren't prettied up too much. But Anchor doesn't try to lay out a history or deliver information, and it is an outsider's view. I don't pretend otherwise for a minute. That said, I went there quite a few times over at least ten years and it really got under my skin. Almost all of my work mixes notions of documentary with something else, something more ephemeral, or more personal, or more open.
What about the physical or technical layout at BAM? What can we expect to see on stage as the action unfolds?
It's not a theater piece, but there are times when we hope to activate the space in ways that a normal movie doesn't. I got to work a bit with a team, Dawn of Man, that specializes in unusual projections, so we're doing some things that are entirely removed from what happens in a normal movie theater. Once again, I circle back to the in-betweenness; it's not a movie and it's not a concert — there's a multiplicity of images, a layering which is also reflected in the sounds, which range from very ethereal and quiet, to loud and stormy. Very loud and stormy. But I wasn't trying to get too fancy in terms of foregrounding the tech or the production scheme. I wanted the emphasis to remain on the moving image and the live sonics. I have a lot of faith in those two things.
Will the performance be similar on each evening, or is there a progression or transition between each night, perhaps some room for improvisation between the different elements?
The score is not improvised. It has to be pretty tightly controlled because it dips in and out of the more documentary parts of the main projection. There are interwoven texts — fragments of science, poems, stories, and natural environmental sounds — quite a few distinct elements that need to be respected. They are like islands in the score. Each iteration of the show (this is the third) has been different and these are musicians that deserve room to move, so it could never be the same night to night, but it isn't at all like they're just feeling their way along and doing what they happen to do. We're working from a map, so there will be more similarity than difference night to night, but it's still very much a live event that can never be repeated in the same way. And this is our first time with guest vocalist Mira Billotte from White Magic, so there is a new element there as well.
How have you choreographed or directed the interplay between the musicians, the projected film, the texts, and so on?
I gave the musicians fragments and ideas, both sonic and pictorial, and then we worked together directly to the edits of the main film, and they also went off and worked in clusters on their own. It's quite structured, but it needed to remain rough around the edges because the experience, the place itself, is rough around the edges. And the choice of musicians is very much part of the whole, their ability to ride a very dynamic course with grace and ferocity is what elevates the whole thing. The piece is structured, but once the ingredients are in place, I have to let it go in some ways. It's simply a different beast than when I'm working on a film made of single images in progression with a locked track. It changes each time it happens, and takes curious turns, like a journey should. I'm actually very uptight about image and sound in juxtaposition, and working on my own I have different rules. This kind of live show forces me to relinquish certain stricter ideas to see if other approaches can work: I learn from it, we learn from it, and something can happen in the venue in the moment that you just have to experience then and there.
“We Have An Anchor” will be at Brooklyn Academy of Music from September 26 – 28. Tickets are available here.
To see images from the work, click on the slideshow.
The Spring/Summer 2014 collection of Piece d’Anarchive, the fledgling French knitwear label founded by sisters Priscilla and Deborah Royer, has led to an artistic collaboration with French contemporary artist Jean-Pierre Raynaud.
After meeting the designers, Jean-Pierre Raynaud gallantly contributed rubble from the remains of his masterpiece La Maison (The House) — which he knocked down in 1993 — for a special installation for the brand’s presentation at the Palais de Tokyo on September 24, recalling a show he did at the CAPC Contemporary Art Museum of Bordeaux shortly after demolishing the maison.
Rows of metal surgical containers containing debris were arranged in a grid formation on a large square of white tiles, around which racks of Piece d’Anarchive's graphic, street-edged creations inspired by his universe were presented. An artsy film of the collection was screened in the background, to a remixed soundtrack by Andy Stott.
Jean-Pierre Raynaud’s signature white ceramic tile with black joints formed the graphic foundation for Piece d’Anarchive’s clean-cut, sporty black and white collection centered on grids and lines. They patterned straight dresses with short ruffled hems; technical white tops with raised woven black lines; and oversized t-shirts that can double as a minidresses. Many looks were paired with towering grid flatforms. Moving between rigid and fluid fabrics, the line played on innovative textures and hidden details, such as the label’s logo embroidered on the inside of waistbands.
“We liked the idea of a new way to present the collection. We associate Jean-Pierre Reynaud’s work with free-thinking and experimentation; we had been looking at his photos during our inspiration research for the collection and then got to meet him and it was a true revelation,” said Priscilla.
“He spent 23 years building a house and then destroyed it, we wanted to ask him why; we wanted to learn from him. Also the fact that we are building our fashion house has a symbolic connection.”
Whether traditional, modern or contemporary, art was undoubtedly the leading inspiration behind many spring/summer 2014 collections presented at Milan Fashion Week.
Frida Giannini at Gucci returned to the label's roots with a sensual collection of clothes that utilized sportswear materials, such as black mesh. The Studio 54 vibe was accompanied by elegant motifs inspired by one of the most popular illustrators of Art Nouveau, Erté, resulting in a palette made up of blacks, orange and brown glitter.
Alberta Ferretti presented her version of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, through the use of popular colors, patterns and hairstyles in South America. But Ferretti's woman is not suffering — rather, she seems celebratory, in flowing robes that radiate energy with its vibrant colors and flower motifs.
At Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini cited "the world of information technology" as inspiration. So it was with stitching and embroidery that motherboards and chips translated into gradated-color dresses that reminded one of the work of the artist Jonas Lund, but also the recent installation by James Turrell at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. It is no coincidence that "light" was a key point of the collection.
While other designers drew from art already in existence, Prada simply produced its own. Always one step ahead of the rest, the Milanese label not only staged a show with giant backdrops painted by street artists such as Mesa, El Mac, Stinkfish and Gabriel Specter and illustrators Detallante Jeanne and Pierre Mornet, but also used some of their illustrations as prints on the clothes, resulting in a powerful explosion of colors, bodices covered with stones, and multicolored furs. "I'm every woman," declared Miuccia Prada self-assuredly.
Etro remained true to its hippy-chic heritage, sending out a collection heavy on seventies-style paisley prints that were inspired by the traditional art of the Ottoman Empire, in light materials and soft silhouettes.
The queen of minimalism, Jil Sander, eager to reinforce her message since returning to her namesake label last year, did what she does best: precise cuts and rigorous monochrome, though she did include four looks inspired by the colorful works of Alighiero Boetti.
Meanwhile, Gabriele Colangelo explained that a recent trip to Japan influenced his collection, which turned out to be a selection of elegant looks that were his interpretation of Raku, the ancient art of Japanese pottery.
Dolce & Gabbana continued their love affair with Sicily, this time with a collection that referenced the influence of ancient Greece on the southern Italian island. Accompanying the prints of almond blossoms and temple ruins were accessories of large ancient Roman coins, recalling Federico Fellini's "Satyricon". With clothes richly made and a show spectacularly put on as always, the duo continues to monetize (here almost literally) the love that Italians have for their country and the fascination foreigners have for its complex and ancient history. It's a smart and luxurious "copy-paste" formula they can use as long as they like.
Emilio Pucci's creative director Peter Dundas steered away this time from the house's classic prints, exploring instead sportswear, African themes, and the mashup of both. Think gym clothes inspired by the traditional Moroccan djellaba robe and decorated with Masai beads.
Sportswear was also a central theme for Aquilano.Rimondi, which the duo managed to elevate by looking at the Polynesian period of the painter Paul Gauguin. Whether in the color palette or in the whole reproduction of the French master's works on tops, the runway was virtually transformed into a gallery on the go.
Antonio Marras, on the other hand, has always considered fashion a form of art. For his summer collection, the Sardinian designer created an enchanted forest, replete with dreamy dresses embellished with hand-painted details. Even quoting Ovid's Metamorphoses in his show notes, his inspiration for this fairy-like collection was the work of American artist Kathy Ruttenberg.
And from Les Copains, a line of traditional knitwear was brought to life with touches of color, inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe's Poppy paintings.
Culture was the question on everyone’s mind today at the Blouin Creative Leadership Summit, beginning with Yale School of Art dean Robert Storr, who kicked off the day with a keynote address that interrogated the very meaning of the term. “The use of the word ‘culture,’” he said, “sets off alarms.” He went on to postulate that culture was “not an additive, not the yeast you put in yogurt.” In a talk of wide-ranging scope, the famed scholar and curator went from addressing where to find culture on TV — he considers “Breaking Bad” superior to “Downton Abbey” — to explaining the importance of Felix Gonzalez-Torres's 1991 work “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.),” a collection of candy that viewers are invited to take and eat. “To come to the museum to suck was a polemical gesture,” he concluded.
The conversation turned to Iranian culture pre- and post-revolution with “The Art of Iran,” a panel on Iranian art helmed by Leila Heller of the Leila Heller Gallery (which currently has a show “Calligraffiti,” of Iranian calligraphy paired with western street art, curated by Jeffrey Deitch), Melissa Chiu, museum director of the Asia Society (currently presenting the much-hyped show “Iran Modern”), and blogger-turned-newbie gallerist Taymour Grahne, alongside his artist Nicky Nodjoumi.
In one of the more amusing moments, Heller discussed the origin of the current show at her gallery, noting that she and Deitch originally put on another “Calligraffiti” show in 1984, when he was living in a one-bedroom apartment behind her gallery. “He said ‘there’s such a dialogue,’” Heller remembered, recalling Deitch’s reaction when he first saw the calligraphic work from Iran. At the opening of that show, “Basquiat, Warhol, and Haring were all there,” remembered Heller. Later in the discussion, when asked the difference between the reception of the original exhibition and her current one, Heller's response indicated how far perceptions have come: “At the first show, people bought Basquiat and Haring. Nobody bought the Iranian art. This time, they’re buying Iranian art.”
Tom Sachs, Natalie Jeremijenko, Elizabeth Streb, and Vik Muniz were on hand for the next panel, “Creativity: Processes and Practices.” In a fascinating discussion, there was plenty of insight into the origin of these artists' various ways of seeing the world. For instance, Muniz explained that his practice of working in chocolate syrup or sugar was simply a matter of convenience: “When you’re working from home, you can use paint, or you can use whatever you have.” Streb, a choreographer, discussed her early interest in using action to tell a story. A video showed the performance she organized during London’s 2012 Olympics, which had dancers performing extreme acrobatic feats off of buildings and a ferris wheel. “I think of myself as a movement anthropologist,” she said.
As for Sachs, he was characteristically puckish. “If cheetahs run 75 miles an hour,” he said, explaining his vision of creativity, “we are really great at digging ditches and building.” He introduced his work by showing a film called “Ten Bullets,” which he uses when indoctrinating new members into his Tom Sachs Studio. In the film, which had playfully fascist undertones, viewers were told that “Creativity is the Enemy.” While he didn’t completely explain what he meant by that provocative assertion, he did offer the following advice: “We live in a digital renaissance. Keep working, stay focused, and only innovate incrementally.”
Finally, the Architecture panel included such notables as Gisue Hariri, founder and principle of Hariri & Hariri, Nicholas Baume of the Public Art Fund, and Daniel Libeskind, master planner of the Ground Zero memorial. Perhaps the highlight was Libeskind offering some prescient insights about the changing nature of architectural work: “There are no jobs in the factories now. Everything is done robotically.” Perhaps sparked by the stimulating conversation, which touched on how 3-D printers and other similar technological innovations are putting designs in the hands of architects and non-architects alike, Libeskind offered his own Warholian prediction, “In the future, everybody will be an architect.”