Bunny by Polly Borland. One of my favorite ever photos. Happy Easter!
With thanks to the lovely Beatriz Olabarrieta for sending me these astonishing images. So mysterious, so evocative! Well, I guess I would say that given my practice but I have spent a long while trying to figure out what goes on in the picture plain, only to be sucked in by the photograph. It is a feeling I love, so I will try to make it to the show. Nice references too: Atget, Surrealism and Chanel.
Paradise Row Gallery
74 Newman Street
London W1T 3EL
18 NOVEMBER – 23 DECEMBER 2011
Borrowing its title from one of Eugene Atget’s iconic photographs of Parisian shop fronts, Avenue des Gobelins is a meditation on the mystical, ritual nature of material desire and consumption. The central work of this exhibition is a slide-loop projection, The Consumystic. By double and triple-exposing the film, Gluzberg adopts the analogue photographic techniques of the Surrealists to produce a mesh of consumer signs and spaces: the black gleaming lacquer of Chanel, reconfigured by the chaos of a Saturday afternoon at Primark.
I am clearing up, throwing things away, filling, and wrapping, as you do when you finish as long a project as this five-year work. I cannot quite stop yet, I am not resting, although I know I need to. I keep contacting my supervisors with more or less legitimate excuses – my new symptom, it has to stop. I want to write, and I cannot. I am enjoying reading (‘Mansfield Park’ by Jane Austen, ‘Cosmos’ by Witold Gombrowicz and ‘The Man who was Thursday’ by G.K. Chesterton, since you are asking). I am generally leading the life and the moods of someone who is totally lost and a bit bereaved, but it is not a bad thing, as I want to move on (of course I do!).
I am also updating, uploading and making some things available. In general, dragging things out until I they lead me somewhere else.
You can now see the photobook I submitted for my PhD here … As for the textual work, well, that somewhere else I want to go might be publication so I am holding the text for a while. Still, if you want a copy, do get in touch and I will happily respond.
Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci, Fall/Winter 2007/2008, by Julien Claessens.
This looks stunning:
Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera
Tate Modern 28 May – 3 October 2010
Exposed offers a fascinating look at pictures made on the sly, without the explicit permission of the people depicted. With photographs from the late nineteenth century to present day, the pictures present a shocking, illuminating and witty perspective on iconic and taboo subjects.
Beginning with the idea of the ‘unseen photographer’, Exposed presents 250 works by celebrated artists and photographers including Brassaï’s erotic Secret Paris of the 1930s images; Weegee’s iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe; and Nick Ut’s reportage image of children escaping napalm attacks in the Vietnam War. Sex and celebrity is an important part of the exhibition, presenting photographs of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Paris Hilton on her way to prison and the assassination of JFK. Other renowned photographers represented in the show include Guy Bourdin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Philip Lorca DiCorcia, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin, Lee Miller, Helmut Newton and Man Ray.
The UK is now the most surveyed country in the world. We have an obsession with voyeurism, privacy laws, freedom of media, and surveillance – images captured and relayed on camera phones, YouTube or reality TV.
Much of Exposed focuses on surveillance, including works by both amateur and press photographers, and images produced using automatic technology such as CCTV. The issues raised are particularly relevant in the current climate, with topical debates raging around the rights and desires of individuals, terrorism and the increasing availability and use of surveillance. Exposed confronts these issues and their implications head-on.
If you think I have been quiet since Christmas (or even before) it is because writing a thesis does not leave me much to say. All my energy is thrown into those pages, into those words, but today I had a lovely surprise when other words I had written a while ago, turned up, nicely printed and packaged, on my doorstep. I urge you to read the book, as it is excellent all round. It has contributions from some very interesting people such as Martin Dixon, Amy Parker and Guy Julier, who is an authority on Juicy Salif, and was very graceful, elegant and helpful when I presented my paper.
As for my chapter, I think the best way to approach talking about it, since I cannot critique it (at least not today) is to give you the abstract:
Designed by Philippe Starck, Juicy Salif is a kitchen utensil supposed to squeeze citrus fruits and, in particular, lemons. It does not, however, perform its function with the effectiveness of its cheaper rivals. Citric acid may corrode the aluminium or gold from which it is made; its dimensions are unfit to be comfortably stored in a standard kitchen cupboard; its ergonomic characteristics, which should make its use a pleasant experience, leave a lot to be desired. Nevertheless, it is a best selling product and a design icon.
So, if it does not squeeze lemons, what is Juicy Salif for? What is its purpose? What value do viewers, owners and users get out of it? This study will take on a psychoanalytic point of view and will look at how Juicy Salif may, in shop displays and gallery spaces, stand in the place of the object cause of desire, or what Lacan called Object (a). Presenting Juicy Salif as a case study and drawing on examples of other products that have shaped our understanding of objects and lifestyle (Jonathan Ive’s ubiquitous iPod, Manolo Blahnik’s desired shoes) this chapter will argue that what makes Juicy Salif culturally valuable is its ability to seduce, to lead consumers and viewers astray from what may be considered right behaviour.
Here is the first page of my chapter:
And, of course, as you can see from the abstract, I managed to fit some Jacques Lacan in a text about lemon squeezers, value and design. Why not?
Have you heard the latest criticism on Alexander McQueen’s 2010 Spring Show unveiled in Paris? Well, it is all about the shoes, what they do to the body, hurting, desire and the ability to walk. Something I have to hear constantly about my own collection of stilettos. Why, why, why is the eternal question. Incidentally, my ballet teacher has pointed out that high heels help with posture if we follow his basic exercises of core control.
The New York Times debates this question with care and a fair approach, in comparison to the Daily Mail. Have they never heard of fetishism, or of exhibitionism? Apparently not. Well, let them have crocs and uggs and look stupid.
We are in the last throws of preparing the texts for the forthcoming ‘Managing Creativity: Exploring the Paradox’, a book edited by Barbara Townley and Nic Beech, published by Cambridge University Press. I contributed a chapter on my favourite lemon squeezer. After writing a code of practice for work, various course reports, three chapters of my PhD thesis and a number of articles for a Spanish tendencies webzine, tackling a specialist, yet broad audience was a breath of fresh air.
I liked participating in something that is beyond my PhD, something that the degree will hopefully enable me to do more of, and more often. I like writing. I like writing books, even. I will go as far as to say that I like the publishing process despite editors, going over words time and time again and working with writing done over two years ago. Publishing is not for the faint hearted, or the impatient. Neither is writing, I am finding out. I am going to contradict myself: I hate writing, but I like to have written and seeing the cover of the book, with the title of my chapter and my name next to it (its accent in the right place) brought me that proud feeling, that well-being.
All the more because, as I mention in my chapter, I am coming into this as an outsider. I am a fine artist, writing about a design piece for a book on management. Of course I wasn’t sure about it but I followed my friend Glyn’s advice: when you are starting, never say no. To anything. I was lucky that the team that edited the book have been very supportive and have done an excellent job. They were very kind to strangers. And from that position, one I know very well (because I constantly seek it), I have been able to produce something I am quite happy with, as it gives an outlet to a bit of research that, sadly, did not have any place in the 40,000 words of my PhD. Still, readers will find my usual obsessive self in my words; there is also seduction, psychoanalysis and admiration of a creative piece of design that I am very happy to own.
With thanks to Charlotte who bought Juicy Salif for me when I left my last job and told me about her shopping experience, which partly inspired the chapter.
Sometimes, this humble blog sounds like a death blog. All these R.I.P.s, with some personal ones I did not even mention… It is summer and it is time to change the tone, although what I am going to mention also involves death (death, the ultimate seducer, do you remember Baudrillard’s story in Samarkand?). This time, it is the death of shoes as potential objects of desire as stated by Manolo Blahnik over lunch. No, we did not have lunch together. The piece is called Lunch with… and the guest was Manolo Blahnik. I would love to invite him, though. I’d take him to Amazing Grazing at Abode and chat in Spanish. I’d love to have one hour with the maestro.