I have always been intrigued by Simon Costin's work for his crossover from accessory to set design, his epic art direction on runways with Alexander McQueen and in photography with Tim Walker ......... and more recently his work with his Museum of British Folklore. The Fashion Space Gallery within the main Oxford Street campus of London College of Fashion just held a show to explore his vivid imagination via model sets of fictional concepts. With no regular restrictions of production to consider he conjured up fantastical tableaus all presented as maquettes that you viewed thru peep holes into the miniature worlds. His drawings and collages from sketchbooks were also on display which was the best bit for me as I love seeing artist's work in progress. I recognised some of the photocopies from books out of the LCF library which is the most amazing resource to be able to trawl! Next time you might be in central London remember to poke your head into the school to check out what free exhibition is on - all curated by Ligaya Salzar who has joined the programme from the V&A.
Saturday, 20 December 2014
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Something is brewing in the way we consume music, there is a shift, the world axis is tilting and times are notably changing.....................
I recently went to witness historically cosmic Afrika Bambaataa in conversation with Don Letts. Instead of an educational exchange, Don was vocal in dissing and dismissing the emerging generation. He repeatedly challenged Bam to identify a contemporary act doing anything as avant-garde as his pioneering movement from the 70's with Universal Zulu Nation. There was an uncomfortable wave of shoulders rising and tuts of disbelief from the audience. The atmosphere was so awkward I felt responsible for Bam's fans who had travelled from all over the UK for this massive failed opportunity. Rather than tap Bam for memories of his formative years in Africa with Fela, Don was obsessed with debating if anyone was carrying on his progressive legacy. We all wanted to raise our mitts and shout names of the new musicians who are boundary breaking their own break beat scene from the realm of online. This new underground community is not only making music in bedrooms but also broadcasting live from basements. Before Boilerroom two guys called Tim and Barry came up with a concept so renegade that the world is only just catching up with them and The Barbican has come on board to take it to another level. ( Just Jam livestreams artists performing against a blue screen backdrop of psychedelic graphics reminiscent of the 90's late night TV show The Word.)
Last weekend The Barbican hosted a night for Just Jam to have a dual live event for both a physical and web audience. An auditorium more accustomed to Shakespearean verse now hosted the rhymes of Grime MCs. It was a surreal experience seeing Syrian artist Omar Souleyman sing to the crowd whilst simultaneously down the camera lens following him around on stage. It was a bit of a milestone moment and we were all aware that we were sharing a piece of music history. We weren't quite sure if it was right but it was bloody great fun. The frustration of having your view of the DJ obscured by the camera crew was transversely better because you could also see a close-up view of their skilled hands blown up on big screens. The stalls were a mix of some people still seated and others dancing in the aisles, with the occasional bewildered Barbican member in amongst the East London cliques. The (just)jam packed programme brought together genres from London's ragga General Levy to Chicago's Footwork Traxman to Jersey Club's Uniiqu3. The mix of melodies and technical styles were finally here after an initial cancellation earlier in the year from paranoid police plans reacting to a potential public security risk. We were all pumped it was back on and that international artists were together in one room to be transmitted back around the world.
This night was evidence to prove what we all know is true. There are portals and platforms of pioneering music making. We are on the cusp of a meteoric big bang and there's nothing more intergalactic or Bambaataaesque than that!
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
Yesterday Julie Verhoeven opened the doors to her new exhibition "Whiskers Between My Legs" at The ICA set in the Reading Room Space of the Gallery. My photos here are zoomed in details of the complete immersive installation which feels like you have perhaps entered a ghost-train grotto dimension of her studio. Hangers are flung around mid-air as if Faye Dunaway's impersonation of Joan Crawford has ripped thru like a tornado from Mommie Dearest. Loo roll is unravelled in trails like the Andrex Puppy has fled the Minotaur thru the labyrinth. These cobwebs of pound shop paraphernalia bind together her beautiful soft sculptures of embroidered, appliquéd, quilted, padded and stuffed props. Each surface is re-textured with paint, glitter, vinyl or trimming. When you emerge back out of the catacomb of kaleidoscopic colour you can buy a piece from the ICA shop to sprinkle a dash of the psychedelia into your own home interior (Julie's answer to the scatter cushion "Rainbow Rim" or "Touch Of Rasta" )
Her new fashion film is screened on monitors framed by loo seats, lifting the lid to its latest couture solution since Leigh Bowery's "Alternative Miss World" costume. The film uses her signature tissue-box style signifiers to question the social status of femininity and how its represented in popular culture. It looks visually lush and questions perception of taste, especially with the hilarious soundtrack of disco clips and Abba's Voulez Vous................... visit the show before the 18th Jan to get your dose of marvellous medicine to the mainstream.
Head over to photogher Annie Collinge's site to see her portrait series of Julie here.
Tuesday, 9 December 2014
Fashion curator Tory Turk's latest show has focused on A Street Style Journey from 1989 to the present day 2014 at The Londonewcastle Project Space. "89:14" is an interactive comment on street style featuring outfits styled by a selected group of contributors such as Johnny Langer from Man Like Me who put together one of his signature 90's inspired looks with Reebok Classics and a shirt given to him by DELS. Here is also the Astrid Andersen look with Clark's Wallabees conceived by Ellar Dror and Skepta's look which he personally came to the gallery to dress on the mannequin himself!
Alongside this showcase was an installation of a teenager's bedroom for "What We Wore" to be in residency with their new book of primary sourced street style photography. Here are authors of the people's style history, Nina Manhander and Eve Dawoud with designer NOKI.
Publications were a theme of the show with a "Pop-Up" Hyman Archive of periodicals such as The Face, DAZED & CONFUSED and NME. I went down to a special event to see photographer Ewen Spencer giving a talk on his career of infiltrating youth movements to capture the moment on film. These initial projects for the afore mentioned magazines made him the official photographer of the emerging Garage scene thru to Grime. He screened his recent retrospective film "Open Mic" and signed copies of his self-published book from the series. Head over to his site to see more work including his UKG and Brandy & Coke.
Monday, 8 December 2014
This is a mix bunch of my pictures from Algiers which includes an opening at the Museum of Modern Art .......... a concert of Algerian "Rai" musician Khaled........ followed by a dance in the nightclub under the capital's Independence monument (Maqam Echahid) where Khaled first started his International career by singing on the cabaret circuit.