The Handmaid’s Tale (Stephanie Rushton)


While documenting FORMAT 2017, I met artist, Stephanie Rushton, who told me about “The Handmaid’s Tale”, one of the images in her “Archaea” series, on display in Pearson House, along with a live plant sculpture. By portraying plants as phantasmagorical, surrealist, anthropomorphic creatures, Rushton makes the point that they possess an intelligence which connects them to human beings. The “Archaea” series was a great example of how FORMAT artists expressed this biennial’s theme of “habitat.”

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1913: The Rite of Spring (Stravinsky/Nijinsky/Diaghilev)


Diaghilev’s 1913 Paris debut of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring choreographed by Nijinsky represented a revolutionary leap in modern art and culture and caused “rioting.” We have to ask, could such a leap of consciousness or concept occur today? The answer is, sadly, resoundingly, no. My various vlogs explain why culture and creativity are stranded and stymied at all phases of development, beginning with the artists themselves. You can see the full video of the Mariinsky Theatre’s performance, from which this clip was excerpted, here.
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Daily Mind-ful 21 April 2017 (FORMAT 2017)

[APOLOGIES but the first story in this clip appeared in yesterday’s diary post.] You can watch my full rant about how Mark Zuckerberg needs to grow some balls and show more leadership here; first stop on my tour of FORMAT 2017 is the University of Derby on Markeaton Street, located across the street from a trailer park; you can actually order instant coffee at the cafe; the FORMAT exhibition spans 15 venues across the city of Derby so that residents, students and everyone in Derby is exposed to the art; bleak images of the former Yugoslavia by Borko Vukosav; gorgeous, if slightly obvious, images of glaciers juxtaposed against abandoned eskimo dwellings by Magda Biernat; extremely disturbing autoradiographic images by Masamichi Kagaya document the radiation still present in natural and man-made objects in the environs of the Fukushima nuclear plant; FORMAT is astounding for its curatorial choices and quality of writing; Derby is quaint and idyllic to boot; my iphone selfie lens has a crack across the protector explaining why I haven’t been and can’t be the talking head in my own vlogs lately; I arrive at Pickford House, the 250-year old former residence of Georgian architect, Joseph Pickford; Shivani Gupta’s portraits of Ladakh people printed on fabric are gorgeous and folkloric; but I’ve spent too long savoring the art at the first two venues, meaning that I’m running out of time to see the rest of the venues in FORMAT today; St. Werburgh’s Chapel houses two artworks by Tim Simmons and Simon Aeppli, captured in a video on my Instagram feed; at the Derby Museum, there’s an exhibition dedicated to the contents of one of the world’s oldest photography studio, W.W. Winters of Derby; one of FORMAT’s strong suits is the very disparate aesthetic, historical and thematic range of images on display; I check out FORMAT’s River Lights venue so that I can try out the Virtual Reality headsets from Oculus; I didn’t video any part of my visit to the Dubrik recording studio because it’s right next to a halfway house (and lots of dubious characters loitering loudly on the street); I fall in love with one of the FORMAT venues: the Small Print Company and end up shooting the owner of that business instead of the photography — enough to make a short film actually; the penultimate venue of the day is the semi-derelict Pearson House, a mystical,
overgrown former school housing the artworks of about 10 photographers; Poulomi Basu’s video and virtual reality installation about Western Nepalese women ostracized under Hindu tradition for undergoing menstruation for the first time is arresting and memorable; my final stop is on Cathedral Green, to see FORMAT’S iteration of the global, travelling photography project, Flaneur; after a jam-packed day at FORMAT, I have to drive home — starving and thirsty; the real, hard work begins after I download all the clips from my camera; no Prets in Derby (but it’s a good thing); HOME – at last — after the LOOONGEST day!
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Daily Mind-ful 19 April 2017

Personal infrastructure milestones (intended, anyway): broadband installation TODAY plus, finally, I’m going to set up a UK bank account (after an entire year); I decide to attend FORMAT 2017, the UK’s biggest photo fair founded by my friend, TOMORROW because I need to make a short film about the festival for the website of my new business; before then, I need to learn how to use my new video camera; birds = dinosaurs;
about to replant our kitchen garden (from which, going forward, we will obtain all our vegetables for home consumption) ; husband continues to deny that he’s camp; milk in salad dressing. REALLY?; In order to conduct, you have to be able to master seven clefs and be able to transpose them on the fly. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!; Denise asserts that there is an unmistakable resemblance between Leonard Bernstein and John; Therefore, we’re going to make a film about it; Jaap van Zweden, the conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, will assume the post of conducting the New York Philharmonic next year. LORD, I’m behind on culture news!; tonight’s cocktail is called “Between the Sheets”; Denise makes me watch the 1913 version of the Rite of Spring by Diaghilev. It’s unbelievably avant-garde and I can’t believe that Nijinsky and Diaghilev tried this IN 1913! No wonder there were riots; the camp accent and urban vernacular of artist, Jordan Wolfson, triggers an instant prejudice against him (at least for me).
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Why rich artists are the best kind (Konstantin Bessmertny)


Artist Konstantin Bessmertny explains why the best artists are rich ones, citing Damien Hirst, for example. Mainly, rich artists are more likely to be pure in their artistic motives when they don’t have to worry about money. And, when they themselves are patrons or clients, they are more likely to make high-quality aesthetic choices. This clip is an outtake from a series of videos by me about Bessmertny’s exhibition at the Macao Museum of Art and is a tiny sampling of the artist’s extremely unorthodox and, sometimes, controversial views.
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Daily Mind-ful 16 April 2017

It’s the last 1-2% of best effort and attention to detail which engenders true loyalty when you’re building a business or brand. If a handful of people notice, it’s worth it; Now, after many years,
I reject the 80/20 rule; if you’re an artist, why would you ever live in the US any more, I asked Denise,
my friend, the music composer; besides the defunding of the NEA, Americans don’t fundamentally support the idea of building cultural patrimony, which makes it an unsympathetic home for artists, IMO; why is education necessary for good taste? And, if it is, what kind of education is required? I ask Denise why I should use Spotify; I don’t listen to music because I have no reliable means of discovering new high quality music; NO, actually, the real challenge is allocating sufficient time for music discovery; and that’s because I like music too much and can’t do anything else when listening to it; so, paradoxically, I don’t listen to any music at all; Denise reminds me that nothing can actually fill that (music) gap; because music can be accessed and appreciated without any prior knowledge or, as I put it, music can fill you, instantly; for that reason, I don’t like vocal music; in fact, it was Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy who was able to explain in words my dislike of vocal music.
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Daily Mind-ful 13 April 2017 (Foam)

Last day in Amsterdam: visit to Foam Amsterdam; Daisuke Yokota’s incredibly thought-provoking installation; skipped Eggleston because it’s about as interesting to me as David Hockney (NOT); how Dutch houses have slanted facades and hooks on the roof for hoisting furniture into the house, rather than using the stairs, because they are so narrow; Gavin Turk’s curated exhibition at the Van Loon Museum is disappointingly prosaic and mediocre; I mean, REALLY uninspired; our first lunch in Europe EVER without alcohol: was it too salubrious? Do we really need a museum dedicated to handbags? A last cocktail at The Dylan; stocking up on smoky fish at Schipol; Amsterdam recap notes (various).
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Image versus Materiality (Daisuke Yokota at Foam Amsterdam)


(N.B. This film was originally formatted to fit a square Instagram frame.) A lyrical sculptural installation by Japanese photographer, Daisuke Yokota, of archival film suspended from the ceiling of photography museum, Foam Amsterdam, explores the relationship of image to its traditional photographic substrate, film, by dissociating image from its usual freight of associations – memories, culture, expectation. The three-dimensional installation through which members of the public can freely walk is also a metaphor for our relationship to imagery today: we are surrounded, even flooded, by it.
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Daily Mind-ful 11 April 2017

Daily vlog diary: Shopping and strolling in Amsterdam; bicyclists trump cars in Amsterdam and that means, watch out for them! Amsterdam — especially its dining and eating scene — is one of the birthplaces of global, urban hipsterism; it’s worth doing a video handbook about that topic — tongue-in-cheek, of course; Keukenhof (see full vlog on my visit); Keukenhof is a giant photo opp, especially for Asians; one of the main reasons to go is to get inspired for your own garden; huge rabbits on steroids at Keukenhof; more than anything, Keukenhof is very commercial; my visit to the Stedelijk museum without John; boy, it’s an ugly building; main mission: to see the Jordan Wolfson exhibition, even if I can’t see the crazy animatronic sculpture; how I visit museums as a rule; Jordan Wolfson (various shots of the video artworks without audio); I didn’t understand all of that art exhibition; SO I’M SAYING SO — OUT LOUD; but I still got a lot of out of it; there are no fat people in Amsterdam; Jansz – glamorous and dramatic; clothes for kids which are inexplicably, ineffably weird and unwearable; “Sino-Japanese” – whoever coined that clearly has neither Chinese nor Japanese friends.
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