Monday, 28 April 2014

Piotr Uklański - Dance Floor

Untitled (Dance Floor), 1996. Glass, aluminum raised floor structure, and computer-controlled LED and sound system, dimensions variable.

Peter Uklański (born 1968 in Warsaw ) - Polish artist, director and photographer, lives in the USA .

Since the mid-1990s, through his diverse body of photography, installation, painting, sculpture, and film, Uklański has toyed with viewers' expectations, embracing spectacle and cliché and at times playfully reenvisioning the tropes of modernist art. Untitled (Dance Floor) (1996), one of Uklański's best known works, revamps the austere Minimalist grid as a sound-activated, brightly colored floor, a site for communal enjoyment and release.

In a marketing culture you can always get what you want. Or, at the very least, you can always get what the market supposes you want. Is there a difference? How do we know? Knowing better but doing anyway doesn’t prevent us from distinguishing between the given and the true, but it does reward the absence of such distinctions. For its part, art has always retained at least the possibility of delivering the naked truth from the hand-me-downs of cynicism. It can’t do this from a distance. Decoding the lip service of the cynic requires artists to know the language of cynicism better than the cynic.

One artist who has directly pursued the connection between art, market culture and cynicism is Polish-born, New York-based Piotr Uklanski. He is perhaps best-known for two works that could not seem more different from each other: his flickering-light dance floor installations (art can make you feel good and dance), and his appropriated stills of Hollywood actors dressed in military uniforms, The Nazis (1998) (art can expose things we’d rather not remember). The disco experience and the loaded Nazi representations are presented almost as readymades - social readymades - by Uklanski.

Uklanski’s images have been called flat, pop, superficial and sentimental. Depending on the viewer, they can seem naively transparent one moment, exploitative the next.
Bennett Simpson

DAVID EVERITT HOWE: Based on your work on pieces like Untitled (Dance Floor), which was included in the Walker's group exhibition "Let's Entertain," you were for a time grouped with relational aesthetics, which was meant to create very open social situations. I think your dance floor was located in the museum's coat-check room. Why there?

UKLANSKI: The coat-check was self-service, so I suppose the gesture of installing it there was a bit more democratic. When originally installed at Gavin Brown's Enterprise in New York, it took up the floor space of the entire gallery, including the office. The whole thing was a fully functioning dance floor. From then on, I wanted to create situations where the visitor was confronted more frontally, even aggressively, with the work. Because the dance floor had a loud music track, many visitors felt put on the spot or awkward, and they tried to avoid it. So I would install the dance floor in spaces that could not be avoided: entrances, lobbies, coat checks. It worked well, particularly when it was installed at MoMA, where it covered the ground of the whole outdoor sculpture garden. The more uptight the original environment, the better it functioned.

HOWE: It's a much less aggressive approach, than, say, Adrian Piper's Funk Lessons. But was it still your intention to dismantle social hierarchies?

UKLANSKI: You're right about breaking down social hierarchies. Felix Gonzalez-Torres's work was a reference.

HOWE: How so? Are you referring to the beefy go-go dancer in the silver lamé bathing suit in Toress's Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform) (1991)? That piece is both sexy and absurd in the way it politicizes, or queers, minimalist concerns with objecthood, phenomenology, and spectatorship. The dancer becomes the minimalist object, as if it literally came alive, and it really becomes about the viewer encountering that object in a space, and a sort of kinky subject/object relation. And as the dancer is only there five minutes every day, it also plays on the idea of contingency in time and place, as the experience really depends on chance, and when you show up. Without appropriating a specifically gay idiom, perhaps there's a shared interest in "vernacular" culture.

UKLANSKI: Yes, exactly.

HOWE: You should consider installing a disco at Gagosian [laughs]. There is a range of social hierarchies there that could use some breaking down.

UKLANSKI: Gagosian is a difficult context for artists, because on one hand anything goes, but consequently even "edgy" work will lose its edge. It's a much more codified space than many other commercial galleries. The public and critics bring prejudices—it's something I'm highly aware of while showing there.

Piotr Uklański's dance floor @guggenheim from mina k on Vimeo.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Cajmere - Percolator

Curtis Alan Jones (born April 26, 1967, in Chicago, Illinois) is an American electronica and house music singer, songwriter and producer. His style of house music has been compared and inspired by the likes of Kraftwerk, Prince, Gary Numan, and Nitzer Ebb.

Jones is also known as Cajmere, Geo Vogt, Green Velvet, Half Pint, Curan Stone, and Gino Vittori.

The "Percolator" was the first time I had gotten a track to sound the way I wanted, but nobody was loving it as much as I was, so I just kept remixing it. The "Percolator" (that got released under that name) is actually the third version of the track. I liked the original much more, [which is now released as] "Keep Movin'." But it blew up. I was totally surprised.

"I remix my own tracks when they're I think they're not getting the attention they should be getting," Jones laughs. For that reason he decided to remix another track on the same EP, 'Coffee Pot'. Local studios were expensive to hire, so his working method was to make the basics of a track at home and then go into a local studio. "The studio engineer was... well, let's just say, he was very good at the technical stuff," remembers Jones. "He could make anything sound like you wanted it to. And we were working on this remix, and he said something like 'I need to go and put the percolator on'. And I thought, 'Yes! That's it! It's time for the percolator!'"

The Percolator remix of 'Coffee Pot', with its jerking rhythms, siren bleeps, circling chant (the earwormy "it's time for the percolator") and equally distinct bubbling and popping synth line, became a house classic, and a prototype for the future sounds of B-more and ghetto house.
Melissa Bradshaw

"Percolator" went through a lot of changes over different 12-inches. Were you a perfectionist?

No. I was persistent. [laughs] When the song first came out, it didn't get that much attention. I was like, "I don't believe they don't get it," because I loved the first version of it that I did. I did a remix of a track with Dajae called "Keep Movin'." That was the origins of that sound. Because it got so overlooked, I was like, "Let me try it again!" [laughs] I put it on an EP with three other tracks. The standout track was "Chit-Chat," which [New Jersey DJ] Tony Humphries used to play a lot. Because it was so popular, I decided to do remixes of all the songs on the EP, so that goes to the third version of it, where I came up with "The Percolator." On the EP it's called "Coffee Pot." That's when it took off. By the time I got to the third version of it I was tired of it. [laughs] When I heard it, I was like, "Ehh. It's not as good as the first version of it." I was totally surprised that it took off. 

In the early ‘90s, Curtis Jones went from a Master’s program in Chemical Engineering to creating what would soon become one of the most iconic house tracks ever made. Originally entitled “Coffee Pot” and released under the moniker Cajmere, the song eventually became known as "The Percolator" thanks to its repeated lyrics "it’s time for The Percolator" and the booty-popping dance moves that often accompanied the track at clubs. The bubbly track belies Jones’ intrinsic love of early 1980s Chicago house and would become a trademark foundation for the sound of both his own releases as Cajmere and of those on his pioneering label Cajual. Not content to just do straight house music, Jones created another alter ego, Green Velvet, and record label, Relief, to explore his interests in hard house, punk and industrial music. Through his Green Velvet persona, Jones was able to experiment with not only some different styles of music, but he also began sporting a wild green and sometimes yellow mohawk. Throughout this period he often appeared at underground raves and electronic festivals, which no doubt led to his later "come to Jesus" turnaround from a life of heavy psychedelic use. Remaining relatively out of the spotlight throughout the latter half of the 2000s, Cajmere tracks such as "The Percolator," and the massive dance hit "Brighter Days" amongst other Cajual classics are once again explored on Only 4 U: The Sound Of Cajmere & Cajual Records out now on Strut Records.

Friday, 25 April 2014


Bought a few items:

Vladimir Nabokov, Alfred Appel - The Annotated Lolita (Penguin Modern Classics), £6.32

Derek Ridgers - 78-87 London Youth (Damiani), £17.72 

Sandra Plays Electronics ‎– Want Need EP (Minimal Wave) 12", £14.99

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Mixcloud: Yuck 'n Yum autumn 2010 launch

Today I happened upon an old Yuck 'n Yum launch mix that I've posted on Mixcloud:

Ben 'Jack Your Body' Robinson soundtracks the Yuck 'n Yum autumn 2010 launch, with a playlist that includes doo-wop, horror soundtrack and acid.


Chris & Cosey - Exotika
Dzeltenie Pastnieki - Kapec Tu Mani Negri
Legowelt - Haunted Arp
Juanita Rodgers - Teenager’s Letter Of Promises
Riz Ortolani - Adulteress' Punishment
Yellow Magic Orchestra - Wild Ambitions
Linear Movement - Way Out Of Living
Led Er Est - Port Isabel
Eurythmics - Sing, Sing
Adolf Stern - More... I Like It
Circuit 7 - The Force
Change - The End
Alan Vega - Wipeout Beat
James T Cotton Feat Ellis Monk - The Second Night Cycle
SPK - Metal Dance (12" Mix)
Linear Movement - The Game

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Nico - Desertshore

Desertshore is the third studio album by Nico. It was released in December 1970, through record label Reprise.

Desertshore was co-produced by John Cale and Joe Boyd. Like its predecessor The Marble Index, it is an avant-garde album with neoclassical elements. The back and front covers feature stills from the film La cicatrice interieure by Philippe Garrel, which starred Nico, Garrel and her son Ari Boulogne.

Friends of Nico played "Mütterlein", a song from the album, at Nico's funeral in Berlin in July 1988.

As a title, Desertshore speaks to the liminality of Nico’s life, and of her work. Her father was Yugoslavian while she was born in Budapest, and from Cologne to Paris and on to New York and London, she was an early global citizen – yet always also a forlorn wanderer, a nomad. This is apparent in her music. Continuing from the pattern she laid down on The Marble Index, Desertshore featured harmonium drones prominently, bringing an Indian sensibility to her Nordic roots. Marble Index had been named for Wordsworth; Desertshore was named, perhaps, for William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion:

At entrance Theotormon sits, wearing the threshold hard
With secret tears; beneath him sound like waves on a desert shore
The voice of slaves beneath the sun, and children bought with money,
That shiver in religious caves beneath the burning fires
Of lust, that belch incessant from the summits of the earth.

The album was produced in a traumatic milieu. Nico’s long-estranged mother Grete had recently died, Ari had been sent away, and, alongside then-partner Philippe Garrel (whom many blamed for her decline), she had begun mainlining heroin. With John Cale at the helm, Nico chose to construct the album in allied keys, moving toward the relative minor as in a traditional German song cycle, while Cale’s instrumentation echoed Mahler and German romanticism. Rolling Stone described it as ‘Gothick’ and referenced H. P. Lovecraft, while the NME’s reviewer called it “one of the most miserable records I’ve ever heard.”

But they had missed the centre of the music; neither purple-prosaic nor schlocky, Desertshore hinted at bottomless depths of angst beneath cool surfaces which gave nothing away. Nico’s evocation of the past was not for the sake of Sturm und Drang pastiche, but in itself created the distance, the quality of being a mask, which her music paradoxically needed in order to operate at a visceral level. As Jean Baudrillard put it, “Nico seemed so beautiful only because her femininity appeared so completely put on… that perfection that belongs to artifice alone. Seduction is always more singular and sublime than sex, and it commands the higher price.” The price paid by Nico, and by others around her, would be all too high.
Guy Frowny

While Nico was the member of the Velvet Underground who had had the least experience in music prior to joining the group (while she had recorded a pop single in England, she'd never been a member of a working band before Andy Warhol introduced her to the Velvets), she was also the one who strayed farthest from traditional rock & roll after her brief tenure with the band, and by the time she recorded Desertshore, her work had little (if anything) to do with traditional Western pop. John Cale, who produced and arranged Desertshore, once described the music as having more to do with 20th century classical music than anything else, and while that may be going a bit far to make a point, even compared to the avant-rock frenzy of the Velvet Underground's early material, Desertshore is challenging stuff. Nico's dour Teutonic monotone is a compelling but hardly welcoming vocal presence, and the songs, centered around the steady drone of her harmonium, are often grim meditations on fate that are crafted and performed with inarguable skill and intelligence, but are also a bit samey, and the album's downbeat tone gets to be rough sledding by the end of side two. Cale's arrangements are superb throughout, and "My Only Child," "Afraid," and "The Falconer" are quite beautiful in their own ascetic way, but like the bulk of Nico's repertoire, Desertshore is an album practically designed to polarize its listeners; you'll either embrace it's darkness or give up on it before the end of side one. Then again, given the thoroughly uncompromising nature of her career as a musician, that's probably just what Nico had in mind.
Mark Deming

As the other European member of The Velvet Underground, Cale had a closer cultural resonance with Nico although the pair’s artistic expressions were worlds apart. But a working relationship continued throughout a variety of situations that ran up until nearly the end of Nico’s life: from her first two solo albums (“Chelsea Girl” and “The Marble Index”) to the 1972 Velvet Underground Paris reunion concert, two albums for Island Records in the mid-1970s and her final studio album, “Camera Obscura.” Nico’s third album, “Desertshore” saw her bleakly personal images and ever-droning harmonium once more framed exquisitely by John Cale’s unobtrusive arrangements that succeeded in bringing a greater sense of organisation and expansiveness to her performances. As with his background stagings on her album of the previous year, “The Marble Index” Cale’s arrangements maintain the same marvelous sense of depth and shade although on “Desertshore” they cast a different leaning over the proceedings by replacing the former chill of “The Marble Index” with a climate more arid and at points lightening many of the tracks’ woefulness with glimmering luminescence. Also present is an uncharacteristically sense of compassion, with many of Nico’s songs speaking of both family and parenthood.

At the time of this album, Nico had already moved from New York to Rome where she became romantically involved with French director Philippe Garrel. The sleeve design of “Desertshore” featured blurred colour stills from his film, “La Cicatrice Interieure.” The title translated as ‘The Inner Scar,’ relating to Garrel’s own reflections on his horrific experiences with electro shock treatment and its aftermath. It is unknown whether any tracks from “Desertshore” appeared in the film but if it was predominately set in the dusty desert plains pictured on the album’s sleeve, then it would have made for a very appropriate soundtrack.

“Desertshore” is a work that for all its inner complexity flows ceaselessly with simplicity and purpose. After its release, nearly four years would pass until Nico resurfaced with her next album “The End” on Island Records, backed once more by Cale and a cast of rolling musical cohorts from the label that included Eno and Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera. But never again would her music receive the effusive, European classical embellishments as it did so beautifully on “Desertshore.”
Julian Cope

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Lucy McKenzie - TinTin

 Tin Tin I, 2004

Lucy McKenzie (born 1977, Glasgow, Scotland) is an artist based in Brussels, Belgium.

McKenzie studied for her BA at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee from 1995–1999 and at Karlsruhe Kunstakademie in Germany in 1998.

She is currently a professor of painting at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

 TinTin 1, 2005

Strongly evoking the illustrational style of Hergé, the Belgian creator of the Tintin cartoons, on the one hand, and Mondrian et al on the other, McKenzie seems to be on the hunt for old-world and European ghosts, which are somehow embedded in the architectural and illustrational spaces that her lanky characters wander through. From her location scouting to her actual rubbing of concrete slabs and stones, this immersion in surface and space takes on a latently visceral tone.
Sari Care

 "Untitled" for Parkett 76, 2006

At her recent exhibition at Metro Pictures, New York, McKenzie exhibited large canvases influenced by Hergé’s Tintin comics. In some of the works on paper Tintin’s cartoon body is ‘naturalised’, with his flat pink skin tones softened and given a more recognisable Caucasian hue. Elsewhere, characters form the artist’s life are translated into Hergé-like caricatures. Again, styles and histories are re-appropriated and made to temporarily and awkwardly sit in the present. This demonstrates not only that art history is ‘made’, but that subjectivity and personal history are also myths that we generate after the fact.
Alexander Kennedy

Cheyney and Eileen Disturb a Historian at Pompeii, 2005

Created in 1929 by Belgian artist Herge, Tintin-preposterously cowlicked journo-adventurer who moved, Zelig-like, through most of the midtwentieth century`s geopolitical hotspotsis, of course, a cartoon. But there he was in McKenzie`s show, fleshed out with eerie naturalism in a group of colored-pencil portraits that depict him posing rakishly in plus fours and trench coat. In fact, McKenzie`s subject in these works was her boyfriend, dressed up in Tintin costume but substituting a brooding intensity for the original character`s perpetually callow mien, as if the dismal and antiheroic trajectory of modern history had finally sunk in.

A trio of giant, colorful ink-and-acrylic works on paper-Lucy and Paulina in the Moscow Metro (Ploschad Revolutsii), Cheyney and Eileen Disturb a Historian at Pompeii, and Simon in Fort Greene (all 2005)-neatly invert the modus operandi of the Tintin portraits: Instead of depicting a cartoon made flesh, they show McKenzie`s friends reimagined as cartoons. Rendered with a graphic flatness that recalls ligne claire, the influential illustrational style that Herge pioneered, Paulina whistles (or rather, emits a musical note in a speech bubble) as she strolls beneath the Stalinistbaroque vaults of the metro station; a professorial type in a brown suit does a double take as he spies Cheyney and Eileen behind him in a fresco-filled interior; and Simon gazes moodily at the sidewalk on a nocturnal Brooklyn street. Also on view were a group of droll black-and-white illustrations McKenzie contributed to a self-consciously twee Edinburgh broadsheet called The One O`Clock Gun, matted and framed with pages from the paper; a number of languid, seminude pencil studies of the artist`s female friends; and big chalk-and-charcoal abstractions that transform rubbings taken from urban pavements into grisaille de Stijl grids.
Elizabeth Schambelan 


Friday, 18 April 2014

Massimo Cellino

Massimo Cellino (born 1956) is an Italian entrepreneur, football club owner, and convicted fraudster. Cellino is the chairman of the Italian club Cagliari Calcio, and the majority shareholder of the English club Leeds United A.F.C.

Cellino has a deep suspicion of the number 17, a number he considers unlucky. At Cagliari's stadium Cellino had the number 17 removed from seats and replaced with 16b. Cellino has a dislike for the colour purple. He also plays guitar in the cover band Maurillos.

Cellino has properties in Leeds and in Miami, Florida.

"We are not sick, we are not in the hospital, we can survive. We can heal, it's a cold," says Cellino of Leeds' current plight, in abysmal form and with accounts for the 2012-13 financial year reporting annual losses of £9.5m. "Now I'm driving the bus. Now the bus is ours and we have to run the bus. The other driver [before] is not my problem – he can sit on the bench, he can go fishing."

Cellino, whichever way you look at him, is one of the more maverick characters to have entered the English game for years. Now living in a city-centre Leeds apartment as well as in Miami, he has a suspicion of the number 17, like many in Italy, and the colour purple – at the IS Arena in Sardinia there is no seat 17, only 16 and 16b.

On Tuesday he asked a member of the press, sincerely, if he would like to play with him in his rock band Maurilios in front of 25,000 people. On Wednesday he was chatting with supporters at a pub near Elland Road and later in the evening was spotted strolling around town talking jovially with passers-by. What next?

 "I am an unusual owner. I look after everything: the grass, the cooking. I want to know what they [the players] eat, they drink, where they go on their night out, I want to know everything about the players and employees. If they need something, if they need help, I must be there."

"It has the potential, like a Ferrari," Cellino says of Leeds. "They got really pissed in Sardinia because I said we [Cagliari] had a beautiful Cinquecento, big wheels and everything. Leeds is potentially a Ferrari, now it's a Cinquecento. I want to transform Leeds from Highway to Hell to Stairway to Heaven. You are not going to be bored with me."
James Riach

The debacle surrounding Leeds United plummeted even further into the abyss after the owner of the Leeds United internet radio station called White Leeds Radio managed to cold call Massimo Cellino, and the pair talked for 22 minutes about various aspects of the club.

The call will be cited a further evidence of the complete shambles that is engulfing Leeds United at the moment as Massimo Cellino, who recently had his takeover bid for the Whites rejected, gav ea no-holds-barred interview with the Leeds fan. Cellino is appealling that decision.

During the conversation, prospective Leeds owner Cellino labelled Whites’ managing director David Haigh “a son of a bitchh, dangerous, a fucking devil.”

Cellino also described the current Leeds United side as the worst football team he’s ever seen and criticised Brian McDermott for spending too much time moaning and not enough time coaching.

The only people who were praised by Cellino were the Leeds fans. The Italian remarked “Fans are not for sale, they have feeling and you don’t buy feeling. You can buy a bitch for one night, but you don’t buy the love my friend.”

His culling of coaches at Cagliari is a notorious trademark and he was at it again this week, firing Diego Lopez after Cagliari lost at home to Roma. There was sympathy in a severance statement which said the sacking was “extremely painful” and described Lopez as “a professional man” but he has gone – the 36th coach dismissed by Cellino in 22 years.

Lopez was lucky to survive in February when to all intents and purposes he was on his way out. Cagliari’s players complained, the sand shifted behind the scenes and when the music stopped, Cellino sacked assistant Ivo Pulga instead, accusing him of disloyalty. Pulga is back at Cagliari now, named as Lopez’s replacement.

Is English football ready for this? And is English football any better? The cuts are usually cleaner here but Leeds United, Cellino’s new project, have no track record for managerial survival.

“The coach gets a chance because he has a job,” Cellino says. “If I give the coach a job, he has a chance with me. If he doesn’t do it then what? What should I do? Come on!”

“I was raised as a manager, not as a bulls**t president who puts his tie on, eats some roast beef and f***s off home. I look after everything.” He runs his fingers along the steel girder above the doors to the Harewood Suite in Elland Road’s East Stand. It’s filthy, though you hardly notice until he unsettles the dust. “Who cleans this? No-one. What are you doing here? I don’t work this way and everybody has to be like me. Everybody."
Phil Hay 

Massimo Cellino Interview Sky Sports News #LUFC... by WeAreLeedsMOT

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Salvador Dalí - Mae West Lips Sofa

The Mae West Lips Sofa (1937) is a surrealist sofa by Salvador Dalí. The wood-and-satin sofa was shaped after the lips of actress Mae West, whom Dalí apparently found fascinating. It measures 86.5 x 183 x 81.5 cm (34 x 72 x 32 in).

Edward James, a rich British patron of the Surrealists in the 1930s, commissioned this piece from Dalí.

It is probably every patron's dream to collaborate with an artist on a great work of art. For Edward James, the wealthy and eccentric poet and collector, the dream came true when, together with Salvador Dali, he produced the "Mae West" lip sofa, one of the 20th century's most sensuous and iconic pieces of furniture.

The design was conceived in 1936 when Dali was in London for the International Surrealist Exhibition. Experiencing some financial difficulties, he signed an agreement with James whereby he would receive a wage in exchange for his total output for a year. The two also set about creating designs for surreal furniture. James was, at that time, redecorating Monkton House, a Lutyens dower house on his family's West Dean estate in Sussex, which he transformed into a mauve-walled extravaganza of surreal fantasy.

The lip sofa relates to Dali's paintings and drawings that were inspired by the Hollywood actress, Mae West. Face of Mae West, for instance, depicts her features as objects in a surrealist room, with her eyes as paintings, her nose as a fireplace and her lips as a sofa. Production took place in 1938, with James closely involved, choosing the fabrics and colours.

Only five sofas are known to have been made and he kept them all. Three are still owned by the Edward James Foundation in West Dean, and two were sold shortly before James's death in 1984. The Brighton Art Gallery and Museum bought one, while the other, which is to be sold by Christie's on Wednesday, was acquired by a private collector. 

  • The Lips Sofa was obviously inspired by Mae West designed from the inspiration of Dali’s paintings and drawings of the actress.
  • Edward James, the wealthy and eccentric poet and collector,  together with Salvador Dali, produced the “Mae West” lip sofa, one of the 20th century’s most sensuous and iconic pieces of furniture. In 1936 Dali was in London for the  International Surrealist Exhibition and it was then he conceived the idea for the Sofas. Dali like many artists experienced financial difficulties and hence he actually signed an agreement with Edward to exchange a years output for a wage. James with his considerable family wealth became a great benefactor to the arts and crafts movement and was a creative soul himself.
  • Production of the Sofa took place in 1938 with James deeply involved in specifying and choosing the fabrics and colours. This resonated with his passion and interest which survives to this day post the world war he witnessed in the Henry James Foundation and West Dean College, a charitable foundation for ensuring the survival of the skills and artisan trades which he feared might be erradicated and wiped out by the outcome of the war.
  • The two extreme individuals set about designing a series of pieces of  surreal furniture, and hence the connection to Monkton House a Lutyens (the architect) designed Dower House on the Jame’s family estate in West Dean  in West Susex. Bizarrely this English country house was transformed into a mauve-walled extravaganza of surreal fantasy.
  • Possibly such a creative relationship was less than likely to yield a profitable ongoing concern, just 5 sofas were produced, with 3 remaining in the ownership of the Henry Foundation. What an intriguing connection to art history in the 20th century!
Amanda Moore

Monday, 14 April 2014

Marlene McCarty - Murder Girls


Barbara and Jennaleigh Mullens - September 26, 1992., 1995-1998

Marlene McCarty has worked across various media since the 1980s. She was a member of the AIDS activist collective Gran Fury and was the co-founder of the transdisciplinary design studio Bureau along with Donald Moffett. Using everyday materials such as graphite, ballpoint pen, and highlighter, McCarty probes issues ranging from sexual and social formation to parricide and infanticide. A major survey exhibition of her work, organized by Michael Cohen, was presented in 2010 at New York University's 80WSE galley. Her work is in the collection of major institutions including MoMA, the Brooklyn Museum and MoCA Los Angles.

Sylvia Likens -- October 26, 1965, 1995-97

I first saw Marlene McCarty’s artwork in the late 90s. She made a series of huge portraits of teenage girls who had killed their mothers, accompanied by captions describing the murders in grisly detail. The girls were drawn painstakingly with no. 2 pencils and cheap ballpoint pens—the tools of a kid doodling in a notebook in class—and their clothing was see-through, which made them look ghostly and simultaneously menacing and vulnerable. They were tragic monsters.

Marlene’s drawings have since evolved to include a whole bevy of murderers: teen girls who killed their whole families, groups of girls who killed a friend, Christian evangelists who killed their children (because God told them to), as well as a creepily sexual series of children and families praying and, most recently, a series about the bonding between female scientists and the apes they study (also sexual).
Amy Kellner

Melinda Loveless, Toni Lawrence, Hope Rippey, Laurie Tackett And Shanda Sharer - January 11, 1992

In the late 1990s artist Marlene McCarty made a series of drawings entitled "Murder Girls." The drawings were of young women who figured in terrible crimes and showed their sexual parts exposed and emphasized, to suggest a link between their budding sexuality and the crimes. In this series, McCarty drew females who had committed murder, with one exception: Sylvia Likens. In her case, she drew Sylvia, not Gertrude or Paula or any other female involved in harming Sylvia.

McCarty's drawing of Sylvia did not portray her malnourished but looking healthy and pretty, her hair long and wavy, a smile on her face. She was depicted in only a short blouse tied between her breasts and has her hands on her hips. Naked below the shirt, the words "I'M A PROSTITUTE AND PROUD OF IT!" are written on her stomach. The combination of happy expression, jaunty posture and stigmatizing words make the drawing extremely disturbing.

Writer Cathy Lebowitz extensively interviewed psychoanalyst and writer Josefina Ayerza about McCarty's "Murder Girls." After noting that Sylvia is the only victim drawn in the collection, Ayerza speculates, "There could be sexual frustration in Gertrude. And now she projects this frustration on the girl, while accusing her of being a prostitute. Gertrude hated the girl, still she could have been sexually aroused by her. What she certainly was is aroused to kill."

Lebowitz asks the psychoanalyst if she believes Gertrude was psychotic. "Not necessarily," Ayerza replies. "Just envy can draw someone into delusion. Say Gertrude was attracted to Sylvia and didn't really know it. Every time she looks at the girl her gaze is ready to bring up the sexual features from underneath the clothes. That is already a reason to panic. Thus, it affects her to a point that she has to kill her, and then torture the dead body ... possess it."
Denise Noe 

Ana Finel Honigman: Your choice of Bic pens as the medium for "Murder Girls" is reminiscent of school supplies. A few critics have noted that these drawings resemble adolescents' painstaking classroom doodles. Were you creating them as an alter-ego? When making them, were you imagining yourself as an adolescent girl – maybe heroizing her deviant peers and making a self portrait?

MMC: Here’s how it happened: my choice of materials was informed by my fantasy of how I thought the girls themselves would like to draw and/or see themselves drawn. I started researching the project before I ever suspected that I would do drawings. I had been doing a lot of artwork by creating large decals and then ironing them onto canvas. I just assumed I’d take the pictures I found and iron them onto canvas as well. I did in fact do a couple like that of the first case that I worked on. That was about Marlene Olive. But then, I realized that the medium was completely inappropriate for the subject matter. The iron-ons made the work about media, mechanical reproduction, Warhol, anything and everything but about the girls themselves. I struggled a great deal with how to best articulate the project. Then, in the middle of trying to solve all of this, I went home to visit my parents. My mother asked me to clean some stuff out of a closet and I found a drawing. It was a portrait I had done of myself when I was seventeen. It was graphite and terribly tightly rendered with all the teenage angst of hoping to make it look like a pretty version of me. I knew at that moment that I had to do drawings of all the girls. I needed to create tight, repressed, unexpressive and stylized drawings. I had not drawn anything for ten years.

AFH: Can you summarize their stories or the common themes in their stories?

MMC: They all killed their mothers, sometimes including the father and, in a couple of cases, the whole family. The girls were all adolescents, all in that grey zone between childhood and adulthood. The girls were blossoming sexual beings while their mothers could see their own sexuality waning. In all cases there was an extreme (though often unacknowledged) power struggle between the girls and their mothers. I tried to the best of my ability to find cases where the crime committed grew out of this identity struggle. I tried to stay away from cases that were fueled by insanity (sociopathic behavior), drugs, or self-defense. In other words if a girl was being abused by someone then rose up to kill that person, I wouldn't use that case.

Self defense is too rational. I was interested in the murkier tension. A sort of undefinable field where that resonated with me personally.

I do have some portraits like Sylvia Likens or Suesan Marline Knorr where the girl was murdered by her mother or caretaker. I used these portraits because I believe the mitigating factors came from the same internal girl/mom friction but in these cases the parent managed to get the upper hand.

AFH: When you speak with viewers about "Murder Girls" are most of them empathizing with the girls or their families? Do you think that the series inspires parents to confront anxieties about children potentially hiding secret selves? 

MMC: There are a lot of layers within the work and people tend to connect to different combinations of things within the pieces. I am not generally privy to those experiences, although comments that I have heard run the gamut from fear, empathy, sexual attraction, voyerism, moral ambiguity, beauty, ugliness, tragedy, fashion illustration, heroism, guilt to awe. That said, I don’t do surveys to specifically see what people are thinking but at talks women often approach me and say they find the work extremely resonant. It makes them recall their own teen years and difficulties they had with their own mothers.

AFH: Were you a rebellious teenager? 

MMC: I take the fifth.

Friday, 11 April 2014

DEFINITE MOTION @ Generator Projects 11.04.14 - pictures

To the Generator this evening for the opening of DEFINITE MOTION, a show bringing together practices from Scotland, mainland Europe and The Americas to model and resist forms of capitalist exchange. I took a few photos and here they are:

The name of the show is DEFINITE MOTION

Ellie Harrison - Anti-Capitalist Aerobics

Danilo Correale - The Warp and the Weft

Kosta Tonev - The Heavenly Bodies, Once Thrown Into A Certain Definite Motion, Always Repeat

Toril Johannessen - Non-Conservation of Energy (and of Spirits)

Anna Moreno - Read the Newspapers

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Hannah Höch - Album

Album, c. 1933

Hannah Höch (German: [hœç]; November 1, 1889 – May 31, 1978) was a German Dada artist. She is best known for her work of the Weimar period, when she was one of the originators of photomontage.

Höch's Album is a scrapbook of a little over 100 pages into which she pasted 421 photographs cut from magazines and newspapers. It is not an exercise in photomontage as such; almost all the images are intact, and the book's visual intensity is mostly a matter of how they collide and rhyme across double-page spreads. She borrows liberally from fashion photography, movie-star portraits, architectural studies and natural-history close-ups. The legs of dancers and naked gymnasts resemble nests of scaffolding and the spindly forms of Karl Blossfeldt's plant photographs; dogs and kittens stare soulfully like Hollywood starlets and pompous statesmen. It's been argued that the Album was a repository for motifs to be employed later in her photomontages, but the effect is actually of a fully achieved work, in which the forms and images of mass media meld and interlace into an exotic whole.

Unlike many of her contemporaries, Höch stayed near Berlin between 1933 and 1945. Unable to exhibit, she began collating the Album – a change in her method, putting existing images together in a way that, shown here in a book, allows viewers to find meanings in their juxtaposition, rather than cutting fragments together to generate new works. Her interests in the New Woman and ethnography remain constant, but overt visual messages are resisted – unsurprisingly, given the conditions.
Juliet Jacques

Her collages are like an analog version of a Tumblr blog!

I checked out Hannah Höch's Album that she created in approximately 1933. It consists of 114 pages and contains over 400 photographic illustrations from periodicals. She liked images of female nudes, cats, and children as they are the most commonplace photographs. She liked cats so much, I scanned all the pages with them.

From Gunda Luyken's essay: “She created associative contexts which, knowing the circumstances of her life, permit of very impersonal interpretations. Beyond this, her album is marked by purposely introduced ‘disturbance factors.’ One such conscious accent, for instance, is the head of an emu, set on a double page otherwise devoted entirely to cats.”

In case you were wondering (because I was), Album contains 18 domestic cats.
j. russell

A major coup of the exhibition is ‘The Album’, a corridor dedicated to Höch’s 1934 ‘encyclopaedia of images’. Though not collages themselves, they document clippings from magazines of the era which appear later in her post-war work. This collection of ‘scrap books’ is an academic tool that bridges the development of her pre-war work, and her increasingly abstract post-World War Two work. Between clippings from Life Magazine and women’s titles from the period, a commentary on consumer lifestyle can be gleamed between beaming faces, advertisements (and the occasional cat).

It also marks a cut-off point in Höch’s personal and private life: as the Nazi party rapidly came to power through the 1930s, Höch retreated into isolation. By this point, her association with the Dada artists was largely over, but her work, increasingly gripped by politics and themes of exoticism, (some of her earlier collages explored images from colonial Africa, fixating on dancers), singled her out as a “cultural Bolshevik”. Marking the start of what Höch described as “12 terrible years”, her albums provide a private insight into how, despite her inability to exhibit, the germ of creativity remained as she documented the world around her.
Betty Wood

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Other People Place - Lifestyles Of The Laptop Café

James Marcel Stinson (September 14, 1969 - September 3, 2002) was an electronic music producer from Detroit, Michigan. He is known for his contributions to electro and Detroit techno music. James Stinson grew up the east side of Detroit and graduated from Kettering University in Flint, Michigan in 1989. He was one of the two members of Drexciya from 1992 to 2002; he produced the last few albums on his own. He died of heart complications in 2002. At the time of his death he was married to Andrea Clementson-Stinson.

It was long rumored (and later confirmed) that the anonymous producer behind the Other People Place guise is James Stinson, one half of Detroit electro geniuses Drexciya, but with the familiar jazzy tech-house rhythms that fill most of Lifestyles of the Laptop Café, it could be anyone with an ear for early Detroit techno. In fact, very much of the record sounds like the work of second-wave visionary Carl Craig. A sophisticated structure emerges from Lifestyles that is held up primarily with deep bass and warm synths. The rain-drenched, dark-street rhythms and liquidy chords that comprise the leadoff "Eye Contact" (and other standouts like "Moonlight Rendezvous and "It's Your Love) recall Derrick May's "Strings of Life" while carrying with them an entirely new theme. "Eye Contact is one such track that is spiced with soothing spoken lyrics intended to lampoon '90s culture (the male voice re-enacts a falling-in-love-from-across-the-room-whilst-sipping-a-latte situation; very '90s, indeed). Lifestyles is at least on par with any of the Detroit records of old, but where radio-friendly Inner City might have failed, Other People Place picks up, maintaining the high dance factor but with zero cheese factor. Detroit techno serves as a touchstone for Lifestyles, but this record is hardly a nostalgic throwback to those idealistic times. Instead, every track treats the music respectfully, pushing forward in a very new groove.
Ken Taylor

Electro for the 23rd century shopping mall crowd: While searching vainly for holiday deals on Hoverboards, customers retain only the vaguest awareness of the familiar 808 drums and analog synths, which combine to create a stimulating soundtrack to their outing. The mall proprietors are pleased.

“Was electro always this sweet-sounding?” a curious young girl asks her mother.

The girl is perceptive. By the Other People Places, Lifestyles of the Laptop Café effectively bridges the gap between funky old-school Detroit techno and the aesthetic of blissful atmospherics. Though it isn’t the first to do so, it is certainly one of the best examples. In terms of percussion and groove, the songs are very similar to the work of groups like Drexciya and Elektroids (membership likely overlaps), while the layering of non-percussive sound is much more reminiscent of Carl Craig or the Orb. While most electro aims to be sparse, the Other People Places fill in the gaps with rich, warm noise.

The warmth of the samples is the perfect complement to the classic depth of the grooves. “Moonlight Rendezvous” and “It’s Your Love” are perfect executions of this principle, striking a balance that defines the record. Then there are tracks like “Lifestyles of the Casual,” which could have been a Dopplereffekt song in another lifetime, and “Sunrays,” which is pretty and cosmic and ends the album on an unexpected note.

Lifestyles of the Laptop Café isn’t a record that will set the kids out in search of new software to achieve heretofore unheard sounds. Its brilliance isn’t in the newness of the equipment used to make it, but rather in the superior quality of the songwriting, the depth of the beats, and the inexplicable desire it generates for purchasing Hoverboards(tm). Regardless of who actually has their hands in the 
Other People Place, the songs on this record are obviously the work of people who know their genre inside and out and can lay down groovy, nicely layered tracks with admirable consistency. See you in the future.
Ben Tausig

After long talks on the internet she finally agreed to meet in real life. Eye contact was made. A simple kiss exchanged deep emotions, awoke peace of mind, confusion and love. People on the streets noticed and looked in awe. It's your love. Impressed, in a different city a moonlight rendezvous occured. She said she want me. She said i know what i want.

Some days later the cavities of life reached out. Enough with that! Let me be what i wanna be. Suddenly she was gone. Was she running from his love? Gone? Back to earth, yet luckily there are the sunrays.

Project produced by James Stinson about a love born which prematurely ended. James died exactly one year after the release. Rest in peace my friend.

There are eight gorgeous slow paced tracks on this album, six with vocals. Due to the lyrics this the most direct Storm yet, with no confusion about the sentiments of the tracks. Love and possibly lust are what makes this record tick. The only exception being ‘Let Me Be Me’ which appears more broadly philosophical in nature with the repeated vocal loop of ‘Let me be what I want to be.’ I think this is also my favourite track, such a simple statement which could be directed at parents, lovers, anyone in authority over us. I think it may also be the central piece of the album which connects to the previous storm as it echo’s similar sentiments on the Transllusion album about finding your true self.

The longest vocal is on the opener ‘Eye Contact’, “What do we have here? Wow! Something's happening to my transmitters, starting to over load., sitting here in this cafe drinking my latte. Something's happening to me. What do I see on the other side of the room? My my, hmm that's what, my, she’s gorgeous. So let me slide over, transmission, communication sent.” It sounds like he might have sent her a wireless infra red message or did he really slide over and talk? The following track, ‘It’s Your Love’, has a vocal loop of “It’s your love that’s keeping me sorry” which gives some emotional balance. ‘Moonlight Rendezvous’ is instrumental but the title references the lyrics of 'Running From Love’, “ I’m a fugitive in the moonlight just running from your love”. Maybe the instrumental soundtracks what happens when he stops running? The idea of running from love might be to ask why we are afraid or unwilling to give in to those emotions. It could be another reference to how modern society is growing ever more complicated, so much so that we would prefer to resist something as precious as love. Although love can still break your heart without any interference from outside.

The first appearance of what seems like a female vocal appears on ‘You Said You Want Me’. The woman asks that question to be answered by the male “You know I do.” I guess with technology this might not even be a woman singing, but I would like to think that it is, something else we‘ll never know. In fact there is an obvious question here about the male vocalist. Is this Stinson or Donald, if either. I would plum for it being Stinson, only because it just doesn’t sound like Donald but we’ll never know unless we’re told. Another female vocal, presumably the same person/effect, is on the closing ‘Sunrays’. Another standout track on an album full of them. The lyrics loop the phrase “Relax your mind, slowly unwind, catch some rays of the sunshine.” Sublime and so simple. Not a love song, more a chill out/simplify message which does chime in with the whole getting back to nature concept.
‘Lifestyles of the Casual’ is another instrumental and a bit of a mystery. I guess as it’s so close to the album title it may mean we can refer to the inhabitants of the Other People Place as Casuals, but this might be taking it too literally. It could mean the lifestyle of accepting casual occurrences also, but that is really just another literal interpretation.

Love and the awakening of an inner life could certainly be described as a storm and fits in well with the concept so far.

There is one other release by The Other People Place that I want to consider, even though it came out a year later and on a different label. Sometime in 2002 Clone released the 12" 'Sunday Night Live at the Laptop Cafe'. This was the first time Clone hooked up with Drexciya and they went on to build a strong relationship with the band culminating with their Grava 4 swansong and continuing into today with Der Zyklus. Of course to add more confusion this is actually The Other People Place featuring Mystic Tribe a.i. First of all the producer of Mystic Tribe is Sherard Ingram who is a respected producer in his own right. He must have been a close friend of Drexciya as he is also their Drexciyen DJ Stingray. The mesmerising and very ‘Lifestyles’ sounding ‘Sorrow & a Cup of Joe’ is credited to TOPP while ‘Telepathic Seduction’ is down as written and produced by Mystic Tribe a.i. The artwork presents a mock handwritten poster on the window of what looks suspiciously like the Clone record shop. It reads, ‘performing at midnight The Other People Place’ and ‘special guest Mystic Tribe A.I. will be performing at 2am’. Maybe this release is more oddity than anything, only linked to the 3rd Storm by its titles. But as Stinson himself said of storms, that they can be pretty chaotic, a piece of debris like this flying off should come as no surprise in this context.

I suppose to sum up in very broad strokes where we have got to with the interpretation of the series would be wise at this point.

‘Harnessed The Storm’ is the violent scene setter that tells us that all is not well but ends on a note of hope of a new kind of life.

‘The Opening of the Cerebral Gate’ is when things start to become clear, it is the first real step in the Storm towards this new life. We learn to look within and explore our mental dimensions.

‘Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe’ tells us to continue this process of finding our true selves but also to develop/retain basic human emotions, especially love and not to become a victim of the coldness of technology/modern society.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

John Miller - brown

Now We’re Big Potatoes, 1992

Born in 1954 in Cleveland, John Miller is a Conceptual artist who is inspired by a corrupted pop-cultural aesthetic. He is best known for his "John Miller brown" sculptures, as well as his more recent assemblages of trash and found objects covered in gold leaf. Miller lives between Berlin and New York, where he teaches at Columbia University. His work was included in the 1985 and 1991 Whitney Biennials, and he has had solo exhibitions at Metro Pictures in New York, Tokyo's Center for Contemporary Art, and MoMA PS1.

Salute, 1990

In the 1980s, Miller became notorious for his works that liberally employed a shit-brown acrylic paint. The brown paint covered and unified the various objects and materials that constituted his paintings, assemblages, reliefs, and sculptures. So much did the substance come to unify and symbolize his oeuvre that “John Miller Brown” or “J.M.B.” became a trademark of sorts. As Bataille’s bassesse countered Breton’s high-flying optimism, so J.M.B. might be understood as a materialist antidote to the I.K.B. or “International Klein Blue” of Yves Klein’s cosmic monochromes.
Roy Arden 

These Foolish Things, 1990

The American artist John Miller is often mentioned in the same breath as his contemporaries – such as Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler, Stephen Prina and Jim Shaw – though his place within this generation is, on the whole, much less acknowledged than that of his peers.

The human desires that can be submerged within the banal are also the theme of Miller’s sculptures and reliefs assembled from found objects on panels and coated with a thick paste-like layer of paint. In recent years, the artist’s signature paint colour, ‘John Miller brown’ (a term coined by critic Peter Schjeldahl in 1990), for which he became widely known in the 1990s, has been partly replaced by imitation gold leaf. Evoking Freudian associations with excrement and money respectively, the brown and gold objects create a strange contradiction: because the mass of shells, swords and shoes are rendered amorphous, we’re compelled to focus on their forms rather than their functions.
Felicity Lunn

Scatological humor is probably as old as culture itself--but in art of the '80s and early '90s, jokes about excrement proliferated, provoking a lot of nervous laughter. RUN FROM FEAR/FUN FROM REAR--that's one of the ways Bruce Nauman put it. He also paired clowns and toilets to flush out the complexities of pleasure, pain, and self-consciousness that rim the act of evacuation. Remember Mike Kelley's 1987 felt banner that blared PANTS SHITTER AND PROUD P.S. JERK OFF TOO, or the video Heidi, 1992, made with Paul McCarthy, that featured sausage turds and a sustained involvement with defecation? McCarthy's performances take us to the compacted core of identification with disgust that, in turn, is linked with creativity. At this juncture, we find ourselves at the deep end of theory.

Given the climate of angst and obsession that percolates in the art of his colleagues, John Miller's world of brown impasto paintings, reliefs, and sculptures, produced from 1985 to 1994, pop into view as disarmingly happy and full of hilarity. At a safe distance from the emotional spectrum of humiliation, Miller's works resonate at the level of child's play. The body itself, particularly the adult body, with its baggage of psychic wounds and scars, seems to be long gone, apparently the victim of a tidal wave of brown that's mucked everything up, as in Restless Stillness, 1991, which features the remains of a body felled and, Pompeii style, petrified by the stultifying ooze. Presented in a six-foot slab of the hardened crap that looks as if it were cut from a larger debris field, this flashback to utter destruction delivers a vicarious thrill.

Twenty years ago, Miller's work (and the idea of abjection in general) was grounded in theories of late capitalism and could be read as a critique of mass culture and the institutionalization of art--indeed, Miller was among the leading theorists in the art world of the first polemical wave of postmodernism. We may continue to read discourses of disenfranchisement in his work, but today concerns are quite different. Rather than expose the insidious dimensions of commodification, the bent and boom of contemporary art leans in the direction of "youth culture." Hand-made, highly crafted, but kind of crappy, quirky, funny, messy, juvenile, and favoring the goth--the formal aspects of art invested in one way or another with adolescence or childhood show a remarkable affinity with Miller's vintage work. What have kids and critique got to do with one another? On the basis of Miller's brown art, and its generational recontextualization, the question has officially been opened for discussion.
Jan Avgikos