Beligum based photographer Frieka Janssens’ series of children smoking is a stark reminder of the perverted glamour of something that once deemed a symbol of cultural cool, but what is now as good as poison. Janssens says, “A YouTube video of a chainsmoking Indonesian toddler inspired me to create this series, “Smoking Kids”. The video highlighted the cultural differences between the east and west, and questioned notions of smoking being a mainly adult activity. Adult smokers are the societal norm, so I wanted to isolate the viewer’s focus upon the issue of smoking itself. I felt that children smoking would have a surreal impact upon the viewer and compel them to truly see the acts of smoking rather than making assumptions about the person doing the act…..The aesthetics of smoke and the particular way smokers gesticulate with their hands and posture cannot be denied, but among the different tribes of “Smoking Kids,” – Glamour, Jazz, and The Marginal – there is a nod to less attractive aspects, on the line between the beauty and ugliness of smoking.” But not to worry, these kids weren’t actually smoking. Much more after the jump. [Continue...]
In the summer of 2010, a particularly dapper Yale sophomore, wearing a pair of distinctive, gold-crested Stubbs and Wootton slippers, encountered Kanye West while shopping at Barney’s in New York. As the story goes, West complimented Cassius Clay (no relation to Muhammad Ali—but Clay is, in fact, a descendent of the renowned abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay) on said slippers, introductions were made, a conversation ensued and email addresses were exchanged. One thing lead to another, and by the end of the summer Clay had taken a leave of absence from Yale at West’s request and moved to New York to become the rapper’s personal full-time confidant and right-hand man (he eschews the term “stylist” for its unsavory connotations; a more detailed explanation can be found in the interview below). Once the news got out, some were dumbfounded by what they perceived as an abrupt trajectory from diehard academic to celebrity stylist— envy, resentment and incredulity arose with fervor (one has only to peruse the anonymous commentary under any online article published in late 2010 about the Cassius/Kanye partnership to surmise this), yet the always-resourceful young aesthete seized the opportunity to help shape the rapper’s professional and sartorial choices, bringing his unique, quirky perspective to the table and turning the coveted job into an artistic and intellectual experience that furthered his education just as much as his missed year at Yale would have (though in a very different way!). If that’s not enough to convince the aforementioned internet haters of his academic seriousness, Cassius is now back at Yale and currently in the process of completing a simultaneous bachelor’s and master’s degree, both in Art History—a hefty task for any college student, especially one with the unspoken responsibility of remaining impeccably dressed! I hadn’t seen Cassius since we attended Phillips Academy Andover together (I remember quite clearly the feather bowties, pocket watches and other striking accoutrements he sported—I don’t think I spotted him wearing sweatpants once during those three years, not even during finals week—as well as the memorization skills and admirable command of the English language he showcased during the art history class we shared). I spent a beautiful October afternoon walking around New York’s Nolita and Lower East Side with the poised, and drily witty Cassius as he shed some light on “the whole Kanye thing,” his plans for the future, his sources of aesthetic inspiration and his illustrious taste. Read interview after the jump. [CONTINUE...]
Originally published in 1983, Les Amies de Place Blanche, rereleased by Dewi Lewis Publishing, focuses on the transsexual community living around the Place Blanche district of Paris in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The book established Christer Strömholm’s reputation as one of the leading photographers of the twentieth century. ‘This is a book about insecurity. A portrayal of those living a different life in that big city of Paris, of people who endured the roughness of the streets. This is a book about humiliation, about the smell of whores and night life in cafés. This is a book about the quest for self-identity, about the right to live, about the right to own and control one’s own body. This is also a book about friendship, an account of the life we lived in the place Blanche and place Pigalle neighbourhood. Its market, its boulevard and the small hotels we resided in. These are pictures from another time. A time when de Gaulle was president and France was at war against Algeria. These are pictures of people whose lives I shared and whom I think I understood. These are pictures of women – biologically born as men – that we call ‘transsexuals’. As for me, I call them ‘my friends of place Blanche’. This friendship started here, in the early 60s and it has been going on for 22 years.’ – Christer Strömholm, 1983. The book includes the original essays by Strömholm and publisher Johan Ehrenberg as well as newly commissioned texts by Jackie and Nana, two of the women who feature in many photographs in the book. The introduction is by Hélène Hazera, a leading French journalist, actress, director, and television producer who is also a transsexual. Available now in the UK and in the US next month.
Short film of a moment in time, by Angelina Dreem featuring the city of Paris and Adarsha Benjamin.
Eugenio Montale is universally recognized as having brought the great Italian lyric tradition that began with Dante into the twentieth century with unrivaled power and brilliance. Montale is a love poet whose deeply beautiful, individual work confronts the dilemmas of modern history, philosophy, and faith with courage and subtlety; he has been widely translated into English and his work has influenced two generations of American and British poets. Jonathan Galassi’s versions of Montale’s major works—Ossi di seppia, Le occasioni, and La bufera e altro—are the clearest and most convincing yet, and his extensive notes discuss in depth the sources and difficulties of this dense, allusive poetry. A new collection of poems by Montale, compiled for a new book, offers English-language readers uniquely informed and readable access to the work of one of the greatest of all modern poets. [purchase]
This timely exhibition, Love and War, drawn entirely from the Kinsey Institute’s art and library collections, features visual material from the American Civil War to the 21st century. Many of the items represent popular culture in America during World War II, as Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues spent those years traveling around the country collecting a variety of research material as well as data for their study of human sexual behavior. Cartoons, propaganda leaflets, postcards, photographs, magazines, pin-up calendars, drawings, prints, and a variety of novelty objects are featured, as well as a selection of contemporary images by Garrie Maguire, Len Prince, Herbert Ascherman, and other photographers whose work addresses war in the modern age. Love and War is on view at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, through April 6, 2012, Bloomington, Indiana.
Barcelona hosts the first-ever Spanish edition of A Shaded View on Fashion Film (ASVOFF) created by Diane Pernet. A Shaded View on Fashion Film (ASVOFF) is an event that gathers together celebrated personalities from the worlds of fashion, art and cinema. The Barcelona edition will be innovative in launching the world’s first MOBILE FASHION FILM COMPETITION where two prizes will be awarded to the best short films produced on a mobile phone. ASVOFF Barcelona will be held at CaixaForum Barcelona from 24-27, January 2012.
Thierry Mouillé – “LSD Song”, “Brass Space, Pavillon 1″, “Archisong”, “Opus froissé” and “Le livre des peintures, Partitions” From a geometrical analogy between the LSD molecule and an electronic battery to digital prints of crumpled musical scores, or even a musical sculpture of architectural proportions, The works of Thierry Mouillé belong to the art of scheming and aim to trap ideas and perceptions. On view at Espace culturel Louis Vuitton’s current exhibition entitled Anicroches — Variations, choral and fugue on view until February 19, 60, rue de Bassano 101, avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris.
Paris, Portrait of a City is Taschen publishers new, vivid history of the capital of love and photography. A city built on two millennia of history, Paris is entering the third century of its love story with photography. It was on the banks of the Seine that Niépce and Daguerre officially gave birth to this new art that has flourished ever since, developing a distinctive language and becoming a vital tool of knowledge. Paris: Portrait of a City leads us through what Goethe described as a “universal city where every step upon a bridge or a square recalls a great past, where a fragment of history is unrolled at the corner of every street”. The history of Paris is recounted in photographs ranging from Daguerre’s early incunabula to the most recent images – an almost complete record of over a century and a half of transformations and a vast panorama spanning more than 600 pages and 500 photographs. This book brings together the past and the present, the monumental and the everyday, objects and people. Images captured by the most illustrious photographers – Daguerre, Marville, Atget, Lartigue, Brassaï, Kertész, Ronis, Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson and many more – but also by many unknown photographers, attempt to bottle just a little of that “Parisian air”, something of that particular poetry given out by the stones and inhabitants of a constantly changing city that has inspired untold numbers of writers and artists over the ages. Available March 1st here.
Guillaume Apollinaire – whose writings ranged from plays to experimental poetry, from art criticism to erotica – was at the heart of literary and artistic life in early 20th-century Paris. Both his work and his flamboyant personality had a defining influence on the development of Surrealism, Dadaism and other artistic movements. In late 1914 Apollinaire swapped the high life of avant-garde Paris for the mud and desolation of war in the trenches. But his poems of this period are wholly different from those that for English readers have come to define the genre of war poetry: exploding shells are compared to champagne bottles, and juxtaposed with the orgy of destruction are nostalgia for antiquity, impatience for the future, melancholy and exuberance. Apollinaire died in 1918. The new translations in this bilingual edition, entitled The Little Auto comprise mostly poems written after 1914, but include ‘Zone’ (in the first English version since Samuel Beckett’s to match the original’s use of rhyme) and some other pre-war poems. A century later, they remain as daring and alive as when they were written. [purchase]