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Articles on this Page
- 01/21/14--06:55: _Zhukova Sits on "Ra...
- 01/21/14--08:52: _Schomburg Center fo...
- 01/21/14--08:52: _Library for the Per...
- 01/21/14--11:25: _Broadway Demographi...
- 01/21/14--12:13: _Slideshow: Highligh...
- 01/21/14--13:15: _Slideshow: See artw...
- 01/21/14--13:36: _Egyptian Artist Bas...
- 01/22/14--06:55: _Pussy Riot to Rock ...
- 01/22/14--08:43: _Renee Fleming to Pe...
- 01/22/14--09:43: _VIDEO: Chanel Sprin...
- 01/22/14--11:17: _Slideshow: Chanel's...
- 01/22/14--12:32: _Scene: Murat Pulat ...
- 01/23/14--08:57: _Barcelona
- 01/23/14--08:57: _Monaco
- 01/23/14--08:57: _London
- 01/23/14--08:57: _Chelsea
- 01/23/14--11:52: _“I Looked Like Boy ...
- 01/23/14--13:03: _Jean Paul Gaultier'...
- 01/23/14--13:12: _Performing Arts Pic...
- 01/23/14--13:38: _Q&A: Joshua Chuang ...
- 01/21/14--08:52: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
- 01/21/14--08:52: Library for the Performing Arts
- 01/21/14--11:25: Broadway Demographics Report: Younger Audiences, More Diversity
- 01/21/14--13:15: Slideshow: See artwork by Basim Magdy
- 01/21/14--13:36: Egyptian Artist Basim Magdy Grapples With the Future
- 01/22/14--06:55: Pussy Riot to Rock Barclays, LaBeouf Cries Performance Art, and More
- 01/22/14--08:43: Renee Fleming to Perform "Rusalka" at the Metropolitan Opera
- 01/22/14--09:43: VIDEO: Chanel Spring/Summer 2014 Couture
- 01/22/14--11:17: Slideshow: Chanel's Spring/Summer 2014 Couture Show
- 01/22/14--12:32: Scene: Murat Pulat Opening at Leila Heller Gallery
- 01/23/14--08:57: Barcelona
- 01/23/14--08:57: Monaco
- 01/23/14--08:57: London
- 01/23/14--08:57: Chelsea
- 01/23/14--11:52: “I Looked Like Boy George”: Q&A With Actor Samuel Barnett
- 01/23/14--13:03: Jean Paul Gaultier's Butterfly Effect
- 01/23/14--13:38: Q&A: Joshua Chuang On Joining the Center for Creative Photography
— Zhukova Photo Provokes Anger:Garage founder Dasha Zhukova is under fire for a photograph that depicts the socialite sitting on what looks like an Allen Jones chair of a contorted, scantily clad black mannequin. The portrait of Zhukova, which accompanied a profile of her on Russian fashion website Buro 24/7, was published yesterday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Zhukova has not responded publicly to the “racist chair” fiasco, but a Buro 24/7 rep said, “Buro 24/7 is categorically opposed to the idea of racism, oppression or humiliation of people in any form. We see this chair purely in an artistic context.” [The Guardian] UPDATE: Read Dasha Zhukova’s response to the controversy on In the Air.
— Hyundai Sponsors Turbine Hall: The Tate Modern has secured a roughly £5m ($8.2m) sponsorship deal with Hyundai that will fund 10 years of programming in the museum’s Turbine Hall. Past commissions, previously sponsored by Unilever, include works by Louise Bourgeois, Ai Weiwei, and Tino Sehgal. The first commission will be announced later this year and go on view in the fall of 2015. [TAN]
— Rare Murals to Show at Guggenheim: The Guggenheim has secured the loan of five murals from Palermo, Sicily’s central post office, for its upcoming exhibition “Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe.” Painted by Benadetta Cappa in the early ’30s, the murals have never left the conference room for which they were commissioned. “It’s the grand finale of our exhibition,” said Guggenheim senior curator Vivien Greene. “It’s such a beautiful way to end the show. It ends it on a really positive note. Instead of lingering more on the end of the war, when poor Italy is so beat up it’s so depressing, I thought, ‘Let’s have a finale that shows you at your best.’ ” [NYT]
— eBay Buyer Nabs Masterpiece: Experts are looking for an eBay buyer who bought an impressionist painting that may be byÉdouard Vuillard (likely worth about £250,000, or $410,000) for £3,000 ($4,900). [Telegraph]
— London Art Districts Threatened: London’s gallery districts St James and Mayfair are coping with encroaching property developments that threaten the approximately 160 galleries in the area. [The Guardian]
— MoMA Trustee Search: Allegedly MoMA’s board of trustees called an emergency meeting to discuss naming a new trustee in the wake of the former Folk Art Museum building demolition controversy. [Page Six]
— A Joseph Wright of Derby portrait was given to the Holburne Museum in Bath, England, under the UK’s recently implemented Cultural Gifts Scheme. [Art Daily]
— Greek artist Chryssa, one of the first to use neon as her medium, has died at age 79. [NYT]
— The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has received a $2.67 million endowment donation from artist Anthony Thorn. [Globe and Mail]
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Check our blog IN THE AIR for breaking news throughout the day.
Last October, Disney’s “The Lion King” became the first Broadway musical in history to reach a cumulative gross of $1 billion. In December, “Wicked” shattered the all-time weekly box-office record by raking in more than $3 million in ticket sales. And in that same month, “Phantom of the Opera” sold nearly $2 million worth of seats at the Majestic Theatre, where it has been playing since January 9, 1988.
Some of the reasons for these impressive statistics lie in the recent demographics report concerning the 2012-13 season issued by the Broadway League, a national trade association for the theatrical industry. The highlights include the following facts: a whopping 66 percent of tickets were purchased by tourists, 23 percent of which were foreigners; 68 percent of audiences were female; the average age of the attendee is 42.5; Hispanic attendance increased by 2 percent to 8 percent, while African-American participation dropped by an equal amount; and the 18-24 demographic was the highest in the history of the survey, while the share of suburbanite audience dropped to its lowest level ever (17 percent).
What does this say about the state of Broadway? According to Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of the Broadway League, the report reflects the increasing diversity of what is on offer. “When I first started coming to New York to attend theater, there was the serious play, the comedy, and the big musical, and that was pretty much it,” she said. “Now we have shows for every age demographic and are creating more shows for the diversity of our audience. If your style of musical is not ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ there is ‘Once’ or ‘Book of Mormon.’ I’m fond of saying, ‘The numbers are what the numbers are.’ But I do think they reflect the trends of the past few years.”
With tourism accounting for the long runs and blockbuster box office of such shows as “The Lion King,” there will no doubt be continuing emphasis on splashy musicals that can appeal to theatergoers who may have a limited command of English. A polyglot of languages can be heard during intermission at such shows as “Chicago,” and the international market is a concerted aim of this season’s “After Midnight,” an all-singing, all-dancing 1930s revue largely drawn from the catalog of the legendary Duke Ellington.
The increase in the 18-24 demographic can probably be attributed to the “Mormon” effect as well as Disney’s impact which, in addition to “Lion King,” includes “Newsies” and the forthcoming “Aladdin.” What also cannot be discounted is the impact of such television shows as “Glee” and even the short-lived “Smash,” as well as the success of films like “Les Miserables.” (In fact, a revival of a “Les Miserables” arrives this season to take advantage of the movie’s visibility. The fact that its foreign gross of nearly $300 million doubled its domestic box office augurs well for the Broadway revival.)
St. Martin said that the increase of the youthful demographic is encouraging, since data bears out that “once we get them in, they tend to come back.” Whether that will hold for the Hispanic audience has yet to be seen. She also noted that the addition of 170,000 new Latino theatergoers reflects the increase of tourism from South America, especially Brazil, as well as the League’s own efforts to reach out to the domestic market through such audience-development programs as “Viva Broadway!” Nonetheless, the ethnic diversity can be somewhat reliant on content. The season of “The Color Purple,” which played one of Broadway’s biggest houses, saw a significant rise in the African-American audience at the time. That has since fallen off and even Denzel Washington’s return to Broadway in a revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” may not affect those numbers, since it will be a limited run in a small playhouse.
What has remained somewhat constant in the statistics is the fact that the average Broadway theatergoer is a well-educated, affluent, middle-aged white female who is most influenced in her choices by word-of-mouth and increasingly uses the Internet to make her purchases. While St. Martin does not dispute the profile, she said, “I don’t think that the Broadway theatergoer is as cookie cutter as the report makes it look like.” She cites a study which indicated that the interests of sports fans and Broadway theatergoers converged in a number of ways. Hence the recent participation of national sports organizations in supporting Eric Simonson’s plays “Lombardi,” about legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, and the forthcoming “Bronx Bombers,” about the New York Yankees. “I think women will always make up the majority of our market but I think we’re adding to that market,” St. Martin said.
From slide projections, such as Investigating the Color Spectrum of a Post- Apocalyptic Future Landscape, 2013, to an ongoing series of captioned images, Every Subtle Gesture, reflecting on political revolution as a web of confusion, what ties Egyptian artist Basim Magdy’s work together is narrative. “But it’s important to make a distinction between a narrative and a story here, because a story has a beginning and an end,” he notes. “In my work, there is no such thing.”
Nor is there much certainty in the tales Magdy weaves out of our collective formulation of reality, peppered as it is with gaps, missing links, and unsubstantiated truths. Spray-paint or watercolor works on paper have explored conspiracy theories surrounding the Apollo moon landing (that Stanley Kubrick filmed it on a soundstage); past installations have characterized Bigfoot as the product of peoples’ desire to understand how humans evolved from apes. With subtle humor, Magdy challenges our perceptions of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. But there is also a futility to the artist’s practice, given his oft-expressed opinion that the world will never change. The characteristically bright, fluorescent colors he employs may temper this pessimism, but there is no escaping Magdy’s nihilism.
Much of the artist’s work conjures dystopias removed from an easily pinpointed time and place. His pieces are executed with a compositional elegance, a testament to his roots in painting (he trained at Helwan University in Cairo) and an approach to the frame as a space in which worlds removed from any exterior context might be constructed. “The idea is to create strange affiliations between architectural structures, objects, landscapes, and things that feel both familiar and unfamiliar,” he says, “so that you might look at images differently and in a nonlogical way.” His juxtapositions can be harsh—in the film 13 Essential Rules for Understanding the World, 2011, soft super-8 images of decorated tulips are paired with a voice-over intoning the cold, hard facts of life: “Never forget there are almost 7 billion other people here. You don’t matter. Really, no one cares!”
That theme—our universal insignificance—is also reflected in a 2009 super-8 film, Turtles All the Way Down, whose ambitious subject is the “100 billion individual stars within our galaxy” and the roughly “50 billion galaxies in the universe.” Reflecting on how little we know about our expanding cosmos, Magdy asks in the voice-over: “How can one map a moving terrain?” The question’s impossibility is expressed in a story told at the start of the film, adapted from an anecdote in Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. A philosopher-scientist presents a lecture on how the earth orbits the sun as the sun orbits the center of our galaxy and is interrupted by an old woman who refutes the idea with her own: the world is a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise. When asked what this tortoise is standing on, she replies: “...it’s turtles, all the way down.”
This invokes a key notion in Magdy’s practice: the landscape as an unfolding temporal and spatial narrative plane in which the past, present, and future interweave, one that, like the universe, is expansive, unknowable, and ultimately unmappable. Magdy also reflects on time as an unstoppable, material process: For example, in The Moment You Realize Eternity Is a One-Way Track, 2010, a drawing of a skull emerging from a landscape.
Basim Magdy, "Crystal Ball," 2013, Double Super 8 transferred to HD video [Courtesy Hunt Kastner, Prague and Gypsum Gallery, Cairo]
Magdy’s most recent fixation is with what can and can’t be known of the future. Crystal Ball, 2013, a collection of seemingly unrelated images—a dinosaur, a field of sheep, half-built high-rises—expresses Magdy’s view that “the future will be exactly like the past and present.” The bright colors are gone (the film was shot in black-and-white double super-8; a cracked camera lens lends the picture a white haze). The soundtrack is incongruent with the images projected: We hear a range of sonar beeps, the sort submarines emit so “they can ‘see’ the invisible ahead of them,” Magdy says. For him, these noises are reminiscent of our own attempts to see what’s next, in that the future is nothing more than an idea—or feeling of anticipation—that rarely corresponds to the reality once it arrives.
The disjunction between reality and its projections, then, lies at the core of Magdy’s work, which suggests the world is a never-ending story of repetition. Perhaps the point and provocation is the question of how this certainty makes us feel. Consider here another super-8 work, A Film About the Way Things Are, 2010, which marked a turning point for the artist, in which he began consciously employing poetry and ambiguity so he could “get the work to become emotional.” Perhaps here lies the optimistic edge to an admittedly harsh body of work—after all, when we are moved, we might be compelled to change the world’s narrative.
This article was originally published in the January 2014 issue of Modern Painters.
— Pussy Riot to Appear at Barclays Center: Recently released Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will make an appearance at Amnesty International’s upcoming concert at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, according to Amnesty. The organization has not made clear whether the women will be performing at the February 5 concert, where the Flaming Lips, Lauryn Hill and Tegan and Sara are among the attractions. Alyokhina also recently made an appearance at the Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore, where the group was nominated for a digital/video award. [BBC, TAN]
— LaBeouf Cries Performance Art: In high Franconian style, Shia LaBeouf is now claiming his plagiarism stunts as a performance art project with screenwriter Luke Turner and MoMA’s first poet laureate Kenneth Goldsmith. In a picture posted on twitter, LaBeouf wrote, “Performance art has been a way of appealing directly to a large public, as well as shocking audiences into reassessing their own notions of art and its relation to culture. My twitter “@thecampaignbook” is metamodernist performance art. A Performative redress which is all a public apology really is.” [Time]
— French Woman Sues For Nazi-Looted Art: French citizen Leone Meyer is suing the University of Oklahoma in an effort to recover a Camille Pissarro work that was seized from her father by the Nazis during their occupation of France. Pissarro’s work “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep” was donated to the museum in 2000. Meanwhile, France’s culture minister, Aurélie Filippetti announced that the country planned to return three Nazi-looted artworks including a 17th century painting by Joos de Momper. [Forward, NYT]
— Restoration by Popular Vote: Because they can’t afford to restore all of their artworks, the National Museum of Rome is asking Italian citizens to vote on one work to be restored. [NPR]
— Detroit Creditors Ask for Independent DIA Committee: The worth of the Detroit Institute of Art’s assets will be discussed for the first time in open court today in a bankruptcy hearing where creditors are expected to ask for the establishment of an independent committee to assess the value of the museum’s collection. [USA Today]
— De Niro Sr Gets His Due: A new documentary just premiered at Sundance that chronicles the life of figurative painter Robert De Niro Sr., father of the actor. [TAN]
— An 18th century Jade artwork that has been missing for 35 years, has been returned to Harvard’s Fogg Museum by officials of the Department of Homeland Security. [Boston Globe]
— "This is the artist's institution," says new MOCA director Philippe Vergne in a new LA Times profile. [LAT]
— A group of Red Hook artists is suing a landlord for rent stabilized lofts. [WSJ]
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On January 23, celebrated soprano Renée Fleming, whom opera aficionados call “the people’s diva,” will return to the Metropolitan Opera in one of her most cherished roles, as the title character in Antonin Dvorak’s “Rusalka,” where she will sing “Song to the Moon,” a signature aria that has developed a life of its own. Joining Fleming will be Piotr Beczala as the Prince and Dolora Zajick as Jezibaba. Yannick Nezet-Seguin will conduct.
The opera, which runs through February 15, was first performed in 1901 with a libretto written by Czech poet Jaroslav Kvapil, and draws from the work of writers Hans Christian Andersen and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, as well as Slavic mythology and fairytales. The opera was not immediately popular; the first English-language production wasn’t staged until 1959 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, outside London, and “Rusalka” didn’t become a standard repertory production until the 1980s.
In many ways, Dvorak’s opera and Fleming are forever intertwined. She sang “Song to the Moon” at her first appearance at the Met in 1988, which pushed her into the spotlight, and first performed the title role in 1990. Writing about a 2009 production at the Met, the New York Times’ Steve Smith called Fleming’s performance “refreshingly free of the overemphatic mannerisms that have crept into some of her other signature roles,” and said she sung with “tonal splendor and commendable ease.”
On February 2, Fleming will take a break from the opera to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, where her beautiful voice will undoubtedly be appreciated by thousands of screaming lunatics.
The days of showy couture creations so opulent, heavy and stiff that they are impossible to sit down in are long gone, with “lighten up” among the overriding messages of Paris Couture Week. Leading the way, Chanel took its invited guests to the “Cambon Club” in the Grand Palais. The décor, with its minimalist Space Age show set and soft gray leather seating, perfectly complemented the collection’s futurist Sixties vibe.
A vast glittery white and silver cylindrical wall slid open to reveal a double staircase with in its midst a full orchestra led by bearded crooner Sébastien Tellier, seated at a piano clad in a peace-and-love tie-dye t-shirt. The models, two-by-two, skipped down the steps looking as light as air, shod in couture sneakers (for the second time this week, after Dior), this time produced by master cobbler Massero, with a 3,000-euro price tag. Accessorized with fanny packs and knee and elbow pads, the opening sporty looks were built from three parts—a bolero, corseted body and belled skirt—in matching fabric, such a white floral lace or flecked tweed, while sculptural dresses with patch pockets offered a contemporary spin on the hourglass silhouette.
Spanning lace, pastel rainbow stripes, feather patchworks and iridescent sequins, the finishes were ultra feminine, with transparency and shine adding to the light, young-at-heart mood. One cheeky sheer drop-waist organza shift with a feather skirt even revealed a hint of bottom cleavage.
The evening section was particularly enchanting with explosions of tulle, sequins and beetle-hued metallic feathers contrasting with long pale creations in opalescent hues. A floor-length white gown danced with all-over ostrich feathers in another moment of sweetness in this fresh, fast-paced collection that played out like a carefree lesson in modernity, climaxing with a modern-day bride—Cara Delevingne—in a sheer sparkly white gown, thick strokes of silver eyeliner and a feather headdress. With Karl Lagerfeld’s young godson Hudson Kroenig holding the train, this was all about the next generation of couture clients.
When the Globe Theatre’s all-male productions of “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night” swept into New York last November to great acclaim, Mark Rylance deservedly received raves for his dual performances as the venal homicidal Richard and the Countess Olivia. But not far behind in the critics’ esteem was Samuel Barnett, the 33-year-old actor who holds his own opposite Rylance as both the tragic Queen Elizabeth in “Richard III” and the shipwrecked Viola of “Twelfth Night,” a play that calls upon the young man to play a girl playing a boy.
The Yorkshire-born actor is no stranger to rave reviews, having won approval and a Tony nomination for his last Broadway outing in 2006 as the lovestruck gay student Posner in Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys.” That Barnett has now triumphed in two such strikingly different roles is somewhat ironic in that he had previously declared himself “not of fan” of Shakespeare. As a student of the London Academy of Dramatic Art, he’d performed scenes from the plays. And his Quaker grandmother, an actress who’d also trained at LAMDA in the 1930s, loved quoting Shakespeare to him, especially Viola’s famous “ring speech” from “Twelfth Night.” But despite the pedigree and an acting bug acquired at age 6 when he played a mouse in a local community production of “The Wind in the Willows,” Barnett had found the Bard resistible until Tim Carroll, who directed the smash-hit productions AT THE GLOBE, unlocked the language and specific world for him. “If you find Shakespeare to be boring or difficult, what you need is a brilliant teacher and Tim is that as well as a brilliant director,” says the affable, self-deprecating actor. “It’s like learning to speak French. It’s become such a pleasure to act and to hear Shakespeare that it makes you want to do more.”
Barnett recently spoke with ARTINFO about other challenges inherent in playing women who must use their cunning and wiles to survive in an often hostile, if not deadly, world.
How did you feel when you looked in the mirror having put on the respective costumes for Viola and Queen Elizabeth?
When I looked in the mirror as Viola, I thought, “Omigod, I look like Boy George in the ’80s!” I went to the costume lady and asked if we could do anything to make me look less like him so she curled my hair and pinned up one side of the hat. It was different with Queen Elizabeth because the dress is much more striking to me. I didn’t even recognize myself. I really felt like I was a woman in that costume. It was remarkable because we’d been rehearsing for so many weeks and I kept wondering, “How am I going to pull this off being like a woman, moving like a woman. The audience will have to suspend disbelief so much.” And then putting on the costume was what made it.
What have you learned about women that you didn’t know before?
I’ve definitely learned that if you want to have power as a woman in Shakespeare’s time, and it’s still relevant today, that you have to play a different game than men play and you have to be a lot cleverer. I hate to generalize but as an actor, you have to play the character and Shakespeare has written these women who have a much quicker access to their emotions than some of the male characters in the play. In the games that they play they have to cover up a lot more and yet they have access to their emotions much more easily than men.
In “Twelfth Night,” you play a shipwrecked young woman trying to survive with few resources and in “Richard III,” a powerful queen. How is it to play these two different sides of power?
You can’t assume status. People have to give it to you in the way that they defer to you. Viola is aristocracy, but she’s not queen and she’s pretending to not be highborn when she disguises herself as Cesario [the male emissary in the court of the Duke Orsino]. Elizabeth is obviously royalty but she has all of her power stripped because her only power is linked to the men in her life, her husband the king and her son who is the future king. It’s taught me a lot about the differences between male and female power, which I think is relevant today. Elizabeth has to use her sexuality and femininity as a kind of political power, which the men don’t have to do.
In historical reality, Elizabeth Woodville was quite a cunning player was she not?
Yes. And that’s what I wanted to bring out in her. I didn’t want her to be a victim of her circumstances. I think she was an extremely clever political player. The tragedy is that because of her gender, she has less freedom to move around in this male-dominated world. According to historical records, she made the match for herself with the King but it was because she wanted to raise her family up and that’s a much harder thing to do.
In what way is Viola’s use of power different?
She’s more clever than Elizabeth has to be because she’s doing something in a patriarchal society that a woman would never do, pretending to be a boy. She’d be completely shamed, if not drowned, or called a witch for behaving in such a manner. But she’s a real survivor and the only way to survive without being taken advantage of is to become a man for a while as she figures out what to do. And she is torn between her duty to the Count Orsino and her love for him. Both Elizabeth and Viola are engaged in two very different power games, but it really is life and death for them.
Has playing Queen Elizabeth made you more sympathetic toward your own present-day monarch, Queen Elizabeth II?
[Laughs] It’s tricky. I guess I’ve grown to admire Queen Elizabeth II more. I’ve always struggled with my feelings about the Royal Family. I am a supporter. I’m not someone who thinks we should get rid of them. But what I’ve struggled with is the lack of emotionality that the Queen seems to share. Charles gets much more emotional about things and he seems a man who is in and of the world. Queen Elizabeth always seems to be kind of removed and has such a high class, arty, cut-glass accent that I just go — she is of her time and yet seems very much old school. But actually, I’ve admired her commitment and staying power and how hard she works for her country.
Were you able to draw on her for your portrait of Queen Elizabeth in “Richard III”?
Not really. Because I’m playing someone much older than I am, I could look at other actors who are very grounded but also very feminine. But, like the Elizabeth I play, Queen Elizabeth is a monarch who actually moves with the times. She gets new information, assimilates it, and changes in order the fit in with the way the world is moving. I admire that.
You’re playing opposite Mark Rylance, arguably one of the greatest actors of the English-speaking stage. Has that been challenging?
Absolutely. I’ve become a much better actor working with Mark. He’s very fresh, very in-the-moment. You have to be in the moment more, really receiving what someone is giving to me rather than something I’ve made up in my head that I’m going to do. I’ve also had to learn to stand my ground. Mark is such an incredibly powerful performer that you could get blown away if you don’t hold your own ground. He’s so quick-footed and quick thinking that I might get left behind. I’ve developed more acting muscles with him. Definitely.
Was it helpful to do research into this unusual tribe of boys in Shakespeare’s time who were called upon to play all the female roles because women were banned onstage?
I did do some research but it wasn’t really helpful because they were up to 20 years younger than I am with unbroken voices. And voices broke much later then, when one was well into your teens. When you have freshness of youthful skin and a smaller frame on which to put that dress, then it’s less work to be convincing. We’re a lot older than these boys, bigger physically and so our work was quite a lot different to play women. I had to find my own way. Viola was much trickier because I am boy playing a girl dressed up as a boy, softening my body language, raising the pitch of the voice. And then you hope that the audience’s imagination helps you to do the rest of the work.
Call it the butterfly burlesque, with Jean Paul Gaultier seizing on the ephemeral insect’s decorative wings to bring his cabaret-themed Spring-Summer 2014 haute couture creations to life. Greeted by whoops of delight, Dita Von Teese even did a turn on the runway, clad in black stockings and a winged blue and black corset by the mythic Mr. Pearl.
The story lent a sense of freedom to the collection’s color palette and forms, with the runway transforming into a butterfly house for a variety of species. Butterfly-wing lapels were used to create peak shoulders on a glamorous high-waist tuxedo; a dress in pleated plum silk fluttered with hand-rolled hems, creating a ragged effect like the edges of a butterfly’s wings; recalling the softness of a cocoon was a white, embroidered Victoriana blouse with balloon sleeves, while striking lacquered guipure pieces echoed the black veins of a butterfly’s wings.
The mood darkened as the show progressed, however, with more literal cabaret-style costumes and lingerie-inspired looks accessorized with dramatic feather headdresses, mixed in with black satin butterfly capes and flame-print dresses.
Suffice it to say the collection had wings, for, bar a handful of classics — including the marinière t-shirt, bejeweled denim vests and a net mermaid skirt with a burst of red tulle at its base — Gaultier mined his theme with the fervor of a fashion entomologist on a mission, and it proved a smart direction. When filtered down to its core features, after all, a butterfly — like each of these creations — is all about unique beauty, an ultra slim body and bold shoulders, in other words the magic formula for the house's couture clients.
This week’s Performing Arts Pick comes from renowned Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon. Released this week on Deutsche Grammophon, “Mozart: Concert Arias” continues Villazon’s tour through the work of the great composer, which began with “Don Giovanni” in 2011 and continued with “Così fan tutte” in the summer of 2013. The new album, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, features 10 arias that were “penned under the radar” for works that were never completed or for other composers, and includes pieces from the very early period of Mozart’s career. Many of the recordings here will be unfamiliar to most except Mozart aficionados, which makes this release especially important to check out.
The collaboration came together during Villazon’s performance in the title role of Jules Massenet’s “Werther” at the Royal Opera House in London. It was there that he approached Sir Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House, about working with him on the project.
Below, watch a trailer for the album, featuring a conversation between Villazon and Pappano.
The Center for Creative Photography recently named Joshua Chuang chief curator, a position he’ll assume in April. Chuang comes to the CCP from the Yale University Art Gallery, where he is the Richard Benson Associate Curator of Photography and Digital Media. He joined the Yale University Art Gallery over a decade ago and in 2007 was appointed its first dedicated curator of photography. The CCP, though, is a much different animal. Co-founded by Ansel Adams in 1975, the organization, which is located at the University of Arizona, Tucson, holds the largest collection of fine art photographs in North America, with the archives of more than 60 renowned 20th-century American photographers including Ansel Adams, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Garry Winogrand, Edward Weston, and Harry Callahan. At Yale, Chuang organized the touring retrospective “Robert Adams: The Place We Live,” and headed up Yale’s acquisition of the Lee Friedlander archive. ARTINFO caught up with Chuang to hear about his plans for the CCP, which archives he’s got his eye on, and how he feels about relocating to the Old Pueblo.
What is the main difference between your role at the Yale Art Gallery and the CCP?
At Yale, I have been primarily responsible for a collection of photographs that resides within a broader, more encyclopedic collection of other kinds of art, including Greek and Roman sculpture, African tribal objects, European panel paintings, Japanese screens, and the like. Given the gallery’s 11 curatorial departments and three temporary exhibition spaces, however, I was only able to organize a show every two to three years.
The CCP’s collection is, of course, solely composed of photographs and related materials, and there I’ll be in charge of at least two exhibitions a year. Even though I’m headed to a medium-specific institution, I’m really grateful for the experience of having worked with colleagues and collections from a diversity of fields and perspectives. It will undoubtedly inform what I do at the Center.
How is the CCP different from the Yale Art Gallery in terms of its photography collection?
At Yale, I’ve worked with Jock Reynolds to build a collection that numbered a little more than 2,000 photographs before his arrival as director in 1998, to one that numbers over 14,000 pictures today. Granted, this rapid growth was more deep than wide: more than 7,000 of those works are by either Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander, or Donald Blumberg, whose master sets the gallery owns. The Center, by contrast, has a collection of more than 90,000 works and five million archival objects that represent a rich cross-section of the history of photography in the 20th century. It’s a totally different scale.
Part of your role at the CCP will be acquisitions. At Yale, you spearheaded the acquisition of the Lee Friedlander archive. Are there any archives that you have your eye on to acquire for the CCP?
Since I haven’t yet started working there, it would be premature to give you names. But there are many obvious candidates — important photographers in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who may be ready to part with their archives and deposit them in institutions where they can be studied and shared. Thus far the CCP has focused on acquiring the work of great 20th-century North American photographers. I hope to be able to broaden that purview without neglecting opportunities to strengthen its core.
Is there competition among other institutions or galleries for certain archives? It seems like more galleries are getting into the game, like Gagosian representing the Richard Avedon foundation.
Yes, but I should clarify the difference between an archive and an estate or foundation. Usually a photographer’s archive is a collection of primary source materials that relate directly to his or her artistic practice. It may include a representative group of prints, negatives, contact sheets, preliminary darkroom experiments, journals, and field notes. A photographer’s estate is typically the sum total of his or her assets (which may include an archive), and a photographer’s foundation is an entity meant to strategically disperse those assets over time in a manner that extends that photographer’s legacy.
As a collector of archives, the Center is constantly in dialogue with foundations or executors of estates. But it often begins discussions with photographers themselves. In the case of Avedon, the photographer deposited a portion of his archive at the Center before he passed away. He also set up a foundation which still owns many assets from the estate, including editions of prints which are actively exhibited and sold through Gagosian Gallery. The Center owns over 200 prints but the rest of the Avedon materials it houses are on loan from the Avedon Foundation, which is based in New York.
With regard to acquiring archives, what are some of the competing institutions?
In many respects, the CCP stands alone in its focus on acquiring photographic archives, but other museums and repositories have done so as well. To name a few, MoMA has thousands of Atget’s prints and negatives, the Met has the archives of Walker Evans and Diane Arbus, Princeton has Minor White, the Art Institute of Chicago has Irving Penn, and the George Eastman House has Lewis Hine. The Ransom Center and the Getty Research Institute have also been quite active in this area. But many of these institutions were built for caring for discrete works of art, not a mass of artists’ negatives, contact sheets, and working materials, which is a central function of the CCP. But in general I think it’s good that there are more places willing to preserve significant photographers’ archives and make them accessible.
What is the CCP’s position on digital materials?
To my knowledge, the CCP does not own any digital archives. The archives the Center has acquired up to now have been of photographers who have with worked primarily with film and paper. But photography’s digital present — and future — is something the Center will need to address as it continues to collect.
Do you plan on showing any contemporary artists in your exhibitions as well?
Definitely. But my aim is to make whatever material I may be working with — historical or contemporary — relevant to a contemporary audiences.
Do you have any specific shows that you’re already hoping to stage?
I’ve got a list of ideas as long as my arm but need to discuss them with my colleagues.
Will you be working under anyone at the CCP, as you did with Jock Reynolds at the Yale Art Gallery?
As my new director, Katherine Martinez, put it the other day, my new role will be the CCP’s “Chief Aesthetics Officer.” Although I will continue to rely on the advice of others, I’ll be primarily responsible for decisions about aesthetic content, whether acquired or generated.
How do you feel about living in Tucson?
I’m excited. I’ve had a hankering for the West for some time now, and this role gives me the opportunity to move there. Tucson hits the sweet spot of having a fairly high quality of life with a relatively low cost of living. It’s a really beautiful part of the country and I hope to help make it more of a destination for those who love and care about photography.