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Creative Director Christopher George Editor Nick Thompson Fashion Director Sara Darling Digital Developer Joe Barbour Designer Amy Yuen Sub Editor Jonathan Bright Art Editor Christopher George Music Editor Nick Thompson Writers Jonathan Bright 55employee #6 Sarah Sabner Sara Darling Contributing Fashion Editor Lisa Nicolaou Contributing Music Editor Samuel Smart Contributing Street Arts Editor Joe Epstein Technical Consultant Demir Sayiner Marketing Lois Spencer-Tracy Publishing Director Christopher George Digital Publishing Director Joe Barbour Publishing Manager Nick Thompson



Editor’s Letter 55factory 55 Holmes Road Kentish Town NW5 3AN 020 3286 8558 Cover Credits Artist - Kim Ann Foxman Photo - Christopher Sims Makeup/Hair - Monika Swiatek Black/white leather jacketSchottRed. Shirt- Woobrick

Interview - Sara Darling Photographer - Rowan Papier


INNOVATIVE JEWELRY DESIGNER AND VOGUE.COM’S ‘BEST NEW TALENT’, IMOGEN BELFIELD HAS BEEN CREATING UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL JEWELRY SINCE GRADUATING FROM THE SIR JOHN CASS SCHOOL OF ART, MEDIA & DESIGN AT THE LONDON METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY IN 2008. THE INDUSTRY AWARDS ARE ALREADY MOUNTING ON HER MANTELPIECE, INCLUDING ‘NEW DESIGNER OF THE YEAR ONE YEAR ON’ AT BRIGHT YOUNG GEM 2011 AND MORE RECENTLY SHE WAS NAMED A NEXGEM IN THE PROFESSIONAL JEWELER HOT 100 2012. 55 - Did you know you would end up as a jewelry designer, and was your talent nourished when you were growing up? IB - I knew that whatever I would end up doing, it had to be creative. If I wasn’t drawing or making things, I’d be dreaming up flamboyant fashion combinations. Fine art was always my big passion, creating large sculptures in plaster and bamboo at school. It wasn’t until I went on to art college that these sculptures gradually became smaller and smaller, until finally they became adornments for the body. 55 - Who, or what, inspires your creations? Are you constantly developing new ideas and collections or do you tend to focus on one thing at a time? IB -I find it very hard to focus on just one idea at a time. My studio is full of lots of different experiments, and boxes full of ideas, as catalysts for the next collection. I love to collect objects, but mostly I love to draw on the inspiration directly around me, whether it’s the cityscape, or the intricate and wild fruits and vegetables found in the markets of the East End of London. 55 - Burning Filagree, Iliad, Fools Armour and Bubbling Wreath - the names of your collections seem almost mythical, or movie-esque. How do you come up with them? IB -Yes, exactly, some have mythical influences. Some may elude to a hero from a Marvel comic! I think it is most important for pieces to be given a name. It gives them an identity, a


personality almost. It makes them more then just objects. When creating my collections, they carry a theme, whether it’s Greek and Roman, mythological, or crystal-inspired. My latest ‘Warrior’ collection includes pieces named after superheroes! The pieces look as if they could be used as a magical spear, or crown-shaped cuffs that may hold special powers. I hope they make the wearer feel a part of the story. 55 – What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in your career so far? IB - Being awarded the Rock Vault Dozen sponsorship by the British Fashion Council and the International Palladium Board, last season at London Fashion Week. I am incredibly excited about the future developments for my brand in 2013. 55 - Congratulations on winning the coveted Rock Vault Award, what does this mean for you? IB - It means having the support and backing from the British Fashion Council, the International Palladium Board, and Stephen Webster has been phenomenal. 55 - What are you working on currently and what would you like to achieve in 2013? IB - We’ve recently secured new clients in Prague, Italy and the UAE, so we shall be looking to strengthen and expand upon these business relationships for 2013. 55 - Any advice you can give to aspiring jewelry designers? IB - One of hardest things as a fresh graduate is to be able to sustain living costs while running a new business. It’s inevitable that new designers will need a supporting job on the side, but if this side job can be industry-related then it’s always a bonus. I would also say, if they can find a studio or space where they can continue their designing and product development that’s in a supportive and communitybased environment. To share a space with likeminded designers can offer just the mentorship and support that a new designer needs. It can often lead to exciting collaborative projects, whether for collections or exhibitions.

BEN LEVY Interview – Christopher George

As a portrait painter, Ben Levy’s ideas often come from the media, and specifically our ever-growing captivation and endless appetite for celebrity culture. His portraits are diverse. Supermodels are shown in simple attractive editorial styles. Iconic rock stars, immediately recognisable, satisfy that ultimate commercial desire. Biafran starving children display exploitative global brands. And an honest display of political figures show up the unattractive and faux-heroic light within which they envisage themselves. His recent body of work, titled ‘Fucking Vandals’, focuses on classic celebrity icons, bastardised to create a seething vulgarity. Not only is his work executed with an extreme degree of technique and precision, capturing the identity and spirit of his subject, but the crossover with a political agenda creates a wonderful unease. It could be a pastiche of celebrity culture re-hashed, but never allows for this with such a discomfort resting in the narrative. What is most striking about Ben’s unorthodox attitude to being an artist is he continues to work full time to support his family and art. He lives a relatively simple lifestyle, not generally on a par with the average creative hipster in London. He has, however, an uncannily astute understanding of the commerce of art, much more than an emotional or egotistical release. Driven by a less casual, more constructed manner, Ben has a head for figures and business while still retaining his exceptional artistic talent. And he’s damn charming.

55 - What is the basis of your work? BL - A lot of my ideas come from the media, and I love the way you can keep adding to a portrait for years. I find it exciting that a portrait is never really finished. 55 - When you say, rectify the painting; is this for the benefit of yourself or the client? BL - I think it’s probably more for my benefit. A lot of my work from three years ago is no way as strong as it is now. So I have these thoughts that in the next three years, the work we are looking at now can be improved. It’s a nice idea for me that I can come back to someone’s face I have painted, and maybe change it, add the creases and wrinkles, haircut, facial features. I love the idea that it’s never finished. 55 - That’s pretty unusual, as we find artists generally like to finish a piece and move on. They can almost reject and be repelled by a finished piece. BL - There are certain paintings I can’t go back to due to the meaning behind the way it was created. A Mick Jagger portrait that I have now sold, and am gutted about, I could go back to as he’s ageing. I leave a lot of mistakes in the work, e.g. the paint drips. I have the idea that I can come back to the work and correct this. I suppose it’s kind of a compulsive idea I have. 55 - What are you trying to capture in the subject? BL - A lot of my work will have a relevance to what is in the media, and a lot will be taking the mick out of media stories. I read a lot into my subjects e.g. the Bush and Blair Captain America. Ronnie and Reggie Kray seen as saints or sinners, or the Batman and Robin. I try to put some meaning into my work, rather than just making a portrait, for example Barack Obama. This is a way my work has progressed; there’s a story behind the image rather than just a portrait of Johnny Deep or Kate Moss’ face. 55 - Celebrity is something we’re all fascinated with, although I hate to say it. While I do


everything to avoid being drawn in, I suppose it’s ingrained with our times. Is it something that you’re fascinated with yourself or is it just a means of collecting material and necessary to your work? BL – It’s kind of necessary, but I’m more fascinated about the people that crave attention, media attention. How people do anything for money and fame, more often fame than the money, which I find strange. A lot of me looking into celebrity comes from those backgrounds. I love to see how far people go to become famous and the changes that fame has on these people. I love stuff like that and I do like the media. It fascinates me. 55 - Would you say you’re hungry for fame and celebrity? BL - No. I’m hungry for success. I don’t give a crap about fame; I’m never going to be a celebrity. 55 - You can’t say that, how do you know? BL - I’m never going to work to be a celebrity, if it happens... 55 - You’ll embrace it! BL - (laughs) Yeah, I’ll embrace it for a while, but fame is different. If I were to crave it, it would be in a different way. It would be more for my work and style – the recognition. 55 - So are you thirsty for recognition?

BL - Yeah, everyone is. Recognition brings success and all that goes with it in life. Once you become successful you can take a bit of a back seat. You don’t have to work to survive. I could work to do 10 paintings a year. 55 - What in the political world pushes your buttons and makes you want to create a piece? Is there anger in there? BL - Yeah there is a lot of anger in my work. The powers that be are so corrupt these days; we have the ability to express problems and issues through creative means that can hold a lot of power if exposed. The media is such a quick paced and hanging environment; a lot of

information can be lost. What I do is pull from the media relevant situations that I find important and compelling. A lot that is written in the papers today is rubbish and I like to play on those ideas. Society is extremely gullible these days; things like X Factor are complete shit. It’s just a moneygrabbing program, completely fixed. A lot of this comes out in political areas as well; too much, in fact. It drives me insane with frustration and in a lot of my art you can see where I am coming from. One of my new pieces is based on the Last Supper with 13 characters. It’s really a great piece; it’s what we’re talking about now. It has


a thousand stories in it. My story is it’s a corrupt meeting coming together over a corrupt meal. I think art is corrupt. Street art is vandalism. I love street art and some of my favourite artists are street artists. However, street artists are vandals and you’ll get nicked for doing it. Yet all these bankers are spending fortunes on the works, so tell me where that works. Investing in criminal behaviour. But let me make it clear, I love street art. 55 - You’re pretty driven as an artist – quite determined and less wishy-washy. Why?

BL - I think my determination comes from stability really. I have a full time job as well as being an artist; I may give the job up next year. But I’ve got to where I am at the moment because I have a job and don’t struggle to survive. I’ve never had to make art to survive, just when I wanted to. It just so happens my career as an artist has become reasonably successful. A lot of my drive came once my wife became pregnant. They both provide me with a huge drive, and also success is something I am enjoying. It gives you further personal conformation for your work. 55 – You’re not a typical artist. How has your background influenced your work? BL - I have really supportive family, you need that support. I admire my Dad he works so hard, bless him, and I think I get my commitment from him. My whole family are grafters. We weren’t a rich family, but we never went without. I had a job when I was 12 collecting glass in a pub. It’s good to be around grafters even if you are struggling to make ends meet. It gives you more drive and appreciate the money and success you do get, so you don’t take it for granted. A lot of people born into money do, they don’t think anything of blowing cash and don’t tend to have a high drive for survival. 55 - You have a new body of work out called “Fucking Vandals”. BL - This stemmed from street art as we spoke about earlier, and the depiction by some that it

is terrible. With this work, I have taken a great painting and defaced it like a vandal. I wouldn’t consider Street Art vandalism, but I wouldn’t consider those stupid tags and writing as artwork. Street Art to me is not vandalism but it is to a lot of society, and this was my idea behind “Fucking Vandals”. 55 - How was it doing the artwork, and then attacking it yourself? Were you nervous, did you have a moment of apprehension that you would do it in the wrong place and balls it up? BL - No no. Only on the Warhol piece as it took me ages. It’s all done with biro so I was a bit nervous. 55 - Why did you choose the Warhol selfportrait to use? BL – Well, because I’ve copied it, and then vandalised it with “FAKE”, which it is. It’s part of messing up something beautiful. I have another set that’s just finished, based around Warhol. A full body portrait painted with Heinz Soup, tomato obviously. There will be another set of paintings of his Campbell’s Soup cans the same as his work, again done with Heinz tomato soup, with the bottom of the can open and soup running down. These will only be the originals, as it’s about painting with the soup as a material, and as a print that’s then lost. I’m having to test the materials and mix with varnish to stop any detraction, but it’s pretty experimental so we will have to see the outcome.

Words - Christopher George Illustration - Achraf Amiri




more on this with my men’s couture range at the time, the idea that the male can be stupid and fragile. I wanted to show that there could be femininity in the male. There are women who love men to be stupid and fragile; in the same way men love women to be “The French have a love hate relationship with thempowerful and strong. My skirts for men were very masselves. The British were the first to embrace me as culine. It wasn’t designed for transsexuals, although a designer, along with the Japanese and Dutch. It the third sex can wear them too…” wasn’t till later on that the French took any notice.” “It has been said I’m misogynistic, and I absolutely Being at the forefront of contemporary design for refuse to be labeled in this way. That might be a over 35 years, Gaultier protests about this exhibition: reference to the codpiece or the cone bra; It’s just an “It’s a contemporary installation, not a retrospective! exaggeration in my design. But why this term relates I’m not dead.” to women I don’t know.” Gaultier’s opening in Rotterdam is a breathtaking I was recently told, at your show in San Francisco, ‘installation’ of the designer’s work over his life, you and Madonna were like a couple of kids together. covering art, film, fashion, culture and technology. How is your relationship, as you both seem to have a With his humanistic vision he describes a society he strong link with each other as artists at very significant would like to live in, where tolerance, is key. time of your lives? As for fashion he says: “I don’t think it’s art, more a “Well, I was a fan of her before she was a fan of me! work in art. I do clothes rather than fashion. I don’t She’s very much about underground fashion and arts. want to see what I do as a period of time, today or Madonna first wore my corset with suspenders in ‘85, tomorrow. I want timeless.” and then started wearing a lot of my clothes. She’s very macho; much more so than a lot of men, yet still As a child, Gaultier’s acceptance to his contemporary male figures at school was his ability to sketch, very feminine in herself. My designs were really suited to her.” along with his grandmother’s support. On one of his earliest influences and adaptations - the Breton now a trade mark - he explains: “As a child I didn’t like it, as it was part of my clothing, but it grew to become a fascination to me. One of my first experiments was with a raincoat I sketched as the Breton and, little by little, I fell in love. There’s sexuality with it.”

“I was asked to work on The Blond Ambition Tour. This was the most exciting and interesting project. This was at a time when Madonna was the biggest star on the planet, you can only imagine. We’re close in age and we have fun together. What she likes is what I love in my work. It was her idea to do the iconic cone bra on a man really, not mine.”

Gaultier has always been known for his use of extreme models, and his use of sexual confusion.

“It’s not just what you see in Madonna. You love what she does and says. We forget how extraordinary she was. She was supportive and broke some really serious taboos. At the time they were socially groundbreaking.”

“There was this girl when I was at school, she had this huge red hair and I was fascinated with it. When it came to my shows this idea of beauty for me wasn’t typical to what was generally used. I wanted to use black girls in my shows, there were very few at the time. Also the use of androgyny was more about an attitude. There’s not only one kind of beauty. Attraction and seduction; a way of being is so much more important than just beauty. It’s also relevant in my designs. We are conditioned to find beauty, and I try to find beauty in everything.” You play extremely on the identity of female and male. “I’m shocked by the cliché of male and female. The macho man, and the beautiful woman being the feme fatale. It’s an injustice how women are perceived, and men as well!” “Women are perceived as the mother, or weak; strong and powerful for the men. I wanted to play

Did you realise how important your own image was, and the usage of it in the Gaultier brand? “No I didn’t realise. We were never mediatorised at the time, but it was a time of change. I just did clothes. Strange but true I’m very shy. There was more popular fashion in the ‘80s. Interest in my clothes was a vision of myself I never thought to use. My partner at the time realised it more than me; he suggested using the image in that way. Now its importance is extreme. We see now the image rather than the actual product, like the music video rather that the music.” “For me, it was very important that I fight my shyness, even if people don’t quite understand what I’m going on about. I don’t even know what’s going in my head much of the time!”

Words – Christopher George Photographer – Olly Clarke


Throughout the history of counter culture - or rather popular culture as we recognise it now - there have always been those who seem to gravitate to the top of general awareness and still remain on the fringes of society. They’re not always approved of, often disliked for their theatrical or extreme nature. They can hold an opinion too blunt for the general public’s slight, soft ears, and frustrate their peers with outwardly extrovert or star-like extravagance. We’ve recorded information on such oddities for hundreds of years. More than often through written works and poetic pieces there are frequently glimpses of a visual aspect, often depicted as darts of colour on a canvas as in a Degas painting, or the contorted character of a Lautrec poster from Paris’s debauched nightlife. As we move more into our times, we dissect these characters, or more often than not they dissect themselves for our entertainment. We see Leigh Bowery place himself in an art gallery window for all to scrutinise, criticise or advertise. We see Franko B literally dissect himself for all to witness. And you can’t really criticise that. What’s the point when someone’s gone to such lengths that they mutilate themselves? As is often suggested with these types, there is a muse, and it’s the audience. When it comes to modern day court jesters, there are few in recent years that can present such exposure and exemplifying experimentation as Daniel Lismore. There’s nothing particularly new about Lismore and his creation of a club culture. He keeps a cosy connection with some of the art and fashion elite. He’s not the designer; he’s the art director of fashion label Sarapol, a friend of Westwood and acquaintance of Testino. What is more intriguing is his accessibility, self publication and use of all these influences, as well as a true understanding and self-confessed view that this is all just because of the way he looks. Lismore is a vessel within which today’s creatives will congregate. He is accessible by those that have, and have not, those with talent, and those that yearn for it. With a relentless promotional ethos that works at an exhausting


rate, he is the guy that can organise your social life and realise all those dreams of popularity; coveted stories of chic debauchery to tell your sister’s kids when you’re older. Needless to say, what we often witness with these magnets is an implosion that occurs from an over-indulgence in club culture. We thought better than to name names so instead we’ll just mention the clubs. The BLITZ, for example, was one of the earlier social scenes to hold such commanders. TRADE, undoubtedly, was the most extreme club situation, with possibly the vilest of frequenters. And recently BOOMBOX, which has a more washy and bland culture. I’m sorry, but when a so-called ‘underground’ club makes it onto Sky TV, it probably wasn’t anything to get hot under the collar about. What we have with Lismore is a sophisticated, speculating persona, more aware of the pitfalls of his position. He runs an impressive social calendar, taking the more hi-brow but trendy consumers and pairing with, in many ways creating, designers under his direction. He not only uses his visual ability to maximise exposure, he engages to create a wider and potentially more lucrative opportunity. The true art of Lismore is not just the extent of visual embellishment and time spent on looks, as he explains frankly: “If someone were to wear my clothes for a day they would learn that life like this isn’t easy. I am a walking target for absolutely all sorts of comments and behaviour from nice people, horrible people – everybody.” Lismore understands the idea behind his look, for all intents and purposes a solo press and PR machine. He is currently backing away from the Club Kid Culture he’s so well known for and rebranding the Sorapol fashion label, he says, “The perspective of the brand isn’t actually what it is.” Away from this, his attentions are turning more towards campaigning against climate change, taking inspiration from Westwood’s “Climate Revolution.” Will this be Lismore’s finest PR opportunity and legacy as an ambassador to future generations? Maybe the bigger question is can he get his followers to change direction too?

Photographer Jenny Brough Fashion Director Sara Darling

Grooming Katherine Gould using Mac Cosmetics Hair Oscar Alexander using Fudge Fashion Assistant Alfonso Bessy Models Jake Hold @ Elite and Michael Lange @ Elite Retoucher Morography

Jake (left) Blazer- Billionaire Couture Orange paisley shirt- Qasimi Homme Ring and earring- Bjorg Michael (right) Jacket- Ksubi Sweater- Friend or Faux Shorts- Ksubi Belt- Crooks and Castles Ring (just seen)- Bjorg

Jake (opposite) Shirt (underneath) - Penguin Black and white shirt - LF Markey Scarf - Vintage Michael Jacket - Crooks & Castles T shirt - Dr Martens Bow Tie - Beyond Retro Shirt - Tourne de Transmission Trousers - Penfield Satchel - Dr Martens Shoes - Swear

Michael Cap - Crooks & Castles Shirt - Brains By Rude Sweater - Issey Miyake Jake Shirt - Ben Sherman Jacket - Scotch & Soda Shorts - Penfield Holdall - Billionaire Couture Sunglasses - Fan Optics Shoes - Billionaire Couture Watch - Triwa

Interview – Nick Thompson Photographer - Christopher Sims



KIM ANN FOXMAN SHOT TO FAME AS MEMBER OF NEW YORK-BASED DISCO COLLECTIVE HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR. NOW A PROLIFIC SOLO ARTIST PRODUCING SOME OF MOST MIND-BLOWING ELECTRO COMING OUT OF THE CITY, SHE MIXES HEAVY HOUSE INFLUENCES WITH MODERN BASS GROOVES. FIRMLY AT THE FOREFRONT OF NEW YORK’S FLOURISHING ELECTRONIC MUSIC SCENE, KIM ANN’S STRIKING VISUAL LOOK HAS ALSO DRAWN ATTENTION AS SHE MIXES VINTAGE PIECES WITH LOCAL FRIEND’S CREATIONS. ENVELOPED WITHIN A HIVE OF CREATIVITY, THE SMALL TOWN GIRL FROM HAWAII BECAME THE TASTE OF THE BIG APPLE. SHE POPPED DOWN TO 55STUDIOS TO TELL US WHAT SHE’S BEEN UP TO. 55 - You studied in San Francisco and then moved to New York, which must have been a very significant cultural change from living in Hawaii. How were you affected when you made the move? KA - When I moved to San Francisco I thought it was a crazy big city, it is a crazy city but it’s not very big (laughs). It was really, really different and a big culture shock. I remember I thought it smelled of fish and popcorn. When I first arrived I had to stay at this hotel because my dorm room wasn’t ready, I got there really early before I could check in and I was just tripping out thinking: “Woah, I’ve moved to The City”. 55 - Did it feel quite isolated, growing up in Hawaii? KA - Oh definitely, yeah. You can drive around the island in two hours. So we have what we call ‘rock fever’. 55 - Do you think that feeling of isolation influences what you are doing now? KA - I think so yeah, because there was no nightlife there. You had to watch music and get your nightlife through VH1 and MTV, which seemed so far away. It makes it feel really glamorous if you think it’s so impossible to get there. You crave it more, you become even more - not fanatical - but you really love it because it’s so different from your world. There’s nobody famous in Hawaii in the same way. You don’t run into Aerosmith in Hawaii, but there’s Hawaiian musicians who are the island’s rock stars. Everyone just looks like they’re at the beach (laughs). 55 - After San Francisco you moved to New

York, which is a hugely creative city. That must have flipped your outlook on things again. KA - Yeah! For me it was just the next natural step from San Francisco. I was there for seven years, and after that long you do feel like you’re going round in a circle. You want a little bit more, so New York was the next thing. 55 - Were you introduced to DJing when you arrived in New York, or were you doing it before? KA - I had been collecting records in San Francisco actually, I started my collection when I was 18 years old. I was into DJ culture and tried to play around a couple of times on friends’ turntables, but I never DJ’d out in San Francisco. It wasn’t until I moved to New York and bought turntables; I had all these records already and was getting more into getting more records. Then my friend had a party in New York and that was when I decided to play out. That gave me the bug to keep playing out! 55 - Recently you’ve been moving more into production, why is that? KA - I’ve been involved in electronic music for a long time and I guess I’ve always been on the sidelines. I always had a partner that did more of the stuff and I was the other person, but I’ve owned a bunch of drum machines since the ‘90s, sold them and got new ones. I was into samplers and stuff. I know that I also have my own sound, so why not express it? 55 - On the new EP there are a couple of remixes as well. How do you find it working with other artists and collaborating? KA - I love it! I’m really open to it because it’s

like saying it another way, another version, which is really cool with someone else’s twist. I’m really happy with the remixes on it. Steffi’s remix is totally my style, it has all the elements I like. And the Populette one is really special to me because I’m good friends with them. They’re actually my studio mates, so I felt like they really wanted to make me happy. I felt like they gave it a little extra heart, which is nice! 55 - Do you prefer to collaborate with people you know? KA - I’m really open, I like trying all kinds of stuff. Naturally it’s nice to collaborate with your friends, but I also like collaborating with new people just because you really don’t know what’s going to happen. You have to find the middle ground in a very unexpected way. If you don’t know too much about each other you just see what happens, which is really fun and surprising. It’s a collaboration and you have to put your things aside and find the middle way. I think that’s really fun. 55 - Have you ever had any bad experiences with remixes and collaborations? KA - So far, not with the remixes. I did have something where I thought someone was going to do a lot more work to the song that I’d pitched into. The production had to work around it a lot more, but it didn’t happen, so it didn’t come out (laughs). I was like: “Oh, I thought you were going to do something…” I can sync my own metronome, I don’t need someone else to produce the metronome for me. 55 - You probably hear this question a lot, but what are the positives and negatives of being a female DJ in an industry which is quite male dominated? KA - The challenges are that obviously you don’t get taken as seriously. I’ve shown up to a gig in the past and the sound person has tried to show me how to use the mixer, as if I’d never seen one in my life: “This is called the fader”, you know, stuff like that! He did feel kind of stupid after I’d DJ’d which made me feel good. You get things like: “Oh give her the opening

slot because she’s not the main guy”. It’s hard to get the headlining spot I think, but it’s getting easier over the years. Still, there’s only a tiny handful of international DJs who are women. There’s one billion trillion guy DJs and now everyone can be a DJ with a computer. I think because of that there are more girls, but it’s still tricky. I guess that the upside is that if you are the girl who can DJ, which there are a bunch of, and you do make it and can swim with the boys, you become kind of a novelty so people do appreciate you. I’m surprised at how many times I do a gig and someone’s like: “Woah, you’re a girl, but you’re a DJ”. In that way you do find some support. It’s kind of nice because for some people it’s refreshing, probably because they’re sick of the same dudes all the time. 55 - You’ve been to London lots of times and travelled extensively in Europe. Are there any creative ideas and influences that you take from travelling? KA - I think travelling in general is the most important thing for someone, to open their eyes and have a good perspective on everything. You just get inspired by the people you meet or things that you see, seeing how people live or the surroundings. What I like is when you find every single place has little things that they can claim. I like those little things, if it’s the food or they have really beautiful mountains or whatever it is. I think there’s something amazing about every place I’ve ever been to, even if it’s not an ideal destination for most people. It’s inspiring to see similarities, even if cultures are super different, nightlife seems kind of the same wherever you go. There’s hipsters everywhere, you realise how similar the world really is. 55 - Do you think that the internet has contributed to that in recent years? KA - Oh yeah, definitely. I think the internet makes it easy to get inspired by what everyone else is doing. In one way it’s kind of weird because everyone’s becoming the same. It takes away from the special things, but there’s still people out there pushing it. 55 - London and New York have quite a strong cultural link, what are your thoughts about this

as a New Yorker? KA - I agree, I think London is a lot like New York, except it’s more spread out and it’s harder to navigate. There’s lots of busses and tube stops and taxis are more expensive. Other than that I think that there are a lot of similarities, especially in the energy of both places. I love London, I would totally live here. 55 - Where does your visual style take influence from and who are your icons? KA - I think everything comes from me, from my surroundings and from the street, my friends, my best friend. I think the most influential thing that I can own is my hair, which is my style. I owe that to my best friend Holly Smith, she’s been doing my hair for 15 years now. She gives me a sense of self. It becomes who you are and you own it. I think I would be a different person if I didn’t have my hair.


My girlfriend has an amazing influence. All my friends are super talented and I think that things rub off on you with so many amazing people around. Especially in New York, it’s all creative people. I’m great friends designers like U by Err and Patrick Rubell. I don’t honestly follow fashion. I don’t consider myself a fashion person, but I guess I naturally pick things up just from living in New York. I don’t read blogs about fashion or anything, I just dress how it will make me feel comfortable. I try and support my friends that make stuff and I like what they’re wearing. It’s sort of like everyone rubs off on each other, I don’t think there’s an inventor of style. Meeting other people that inspire you and thinking that they have amazing style pushes you. You think: “What can I do?” I have so many awesome friends, like my dancer friends Tigger and Shane who are in the ‘Creature’ video. They were also in the video I just did for ‘Return It’. They have amazing style. People like that are super ‘New York’ and I just love the New York style.

Fashion Director - Sara Darling Hair and Make up - Monica Swiatek using Bobby Brown and Kryolan Fashion Assistant - Alfonso Bessy Grey three piece suit - Marshall Artists Shoes - Dr Martens Vintage jumpsuit - Beyond Retro Red tape - Fashion Director’s own

Photographer - Christopher Sims Adam Dalston

Photographer - Nick Thompson

Photographer - Christopher Sims Unknown man Wynwood Miami


Photographer - Christopher Sims BERT Crystal Court

Words – Jonathan Bright Illustration – Alexi Jeanrenaud

YOU COULDN’T WRITE THIS STUFF Sick of attention-seeking status updates. Get a life. Like if you agree. Comment to cry for help. LOL.

The internet turned Dirty Thirty, and she’s a world-wearied mix of abusive relationships, fair-weather friendships and one-minute stands. Any good point she might have once made was lost in a sea of banality and drunken expletives.


I stumble upon the Facebook feed of a national broadsheet, one of the many news organisations I ‘like’ (an inherently ironic implication). The heart-wrenching story is of a young girl with terminal cancer who has decided to forgo further chemotherapy in order to fulfil her bucket list, part of which includes meeting a certain pop band. One would expect the public response to this to be resoundingly sympathetic. And it is, but it’s reactionary. Users commenting on the article express compassion towards the poor girl only through a concerted attack against one poster: a ‘troll’. The troll suggests the girl is “retarded” for choosing to meet the pop band instead of continuing treatment. For whatever reason - whether they strongly disagreed with stopping chemotherapy, or the exalted status of the pop band, or perhaps words simply emerged before thought - just like that, any debatable point (however illconceived) is negated by such inflammatory language. Having shot themselves in the foot, the commenter has no leg to stand on either, and the backlash is predatory. Powers against people

The social media age is an exercise in people power, for better or for worse. The good of an unhinged social media is a freedom to be valued, manifesting itself in such dramatic roles as, say, the Arab Spring. The bad, and the ugly, of people power at play are unfortunately just

as vividly demonstrated everyday, and can be worryingly impunitive. Only under the tenuous argument of free speech, and assumed anonymity, does our aforementioned troll - a tame example - and thousands of a similar ilk everyday get to wantonly throw around this pretty offensive stuff. They are apparently inconsiderate of the fact they could be landing themselves with a defamation or, worse, harassment charge. Gary Edwards, Content and Communities Manager at performer casting directory Spotlight, says: “I suspect judges would probably say that a Twitter user with 10 followers who libels somebody probably isn’t going to cause as much damage as, say, a journalist with 100,000 followers. The difficulty comes with retweets. Say a 10-follower user gets retweeted until the original tweet is going around the world, how do you deal with that? Did the original Tweeter expect it to go that far? Do you go after every retweeter? And can you really expect an average Twitter user with no legal or journalistic background to know the finer points of defamation law?” I also spoke to Philip Wride, now Consultant at social media marketing firm Cheesecake Digital, is a former Community Manager of video game developer Electronics Arts, specifically the FIFA football game forum, which as you might imagine is one susceptible to some fairly inflammatory conversation: “There are always those who want to cause a commotion. I did receive death threats on a few occasions. The nature of the FIFA forum meant there was constant friction coming from multiple angles: those who favoured one game mode over another, or constant rivalries between fans of the real-world teams. The forum guidelines actually included restrictions on the Rangers/Celtic debate due to the close ties with religion. “A level of controversy is good as it can spark discussion, but as with everything, there’s a line. Freedom of speech is one thing but if you sign up to a ‘community’ then you do so willing. I have a responsibility to the usergroup as a whole and by willingly participating in this space you agree to adhere to my rules.” In December 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) drafted new guidelines for social


media-based cases, having had 60 in the last 18 months that bear little legal precedence, setting a standard on what should and should not be referred to the courts. You CAN drunkenly abuse someone on Twitter if you remove the post the next morning and are really, really sorry.

The CPS has proposed a high threshold. Sensibly, the evidential effect of a post must be considered. In other words, prosecutors must be satisfied there is reasonable chance of a prosecution, versus public interest. This, however, should be the end of it, before irreparable damage is done to freedoms taken mostly for granted these days. It’s freedom itself that hangs in the balance. Gary Edwards says: “I don’t think the government or the judiciary have quite got to grips with the online world. Hardly surprising - the online world hasn’t got to grips with the online world. Quite often they try to apply solutions or laws that have been designed for print or an offline world into something that’s quite different.” Struggling artists For artists in particular, social media is the best tool and worst nightmare all at once. Nicola Anthony, a London artist, art writer and member of The Fabelist arts community, says: “I can imagine a nasty comment would knock me for six. I once got some criticism - indirectly - on a project I was working on with some theatres in The Guardian Stage blog. It was quite devastating and that wasn’t even as personal as some artwork comments can be. “It would be nice to be protected, but social media is impossible to police and I do think it’s such a great tool in its positives. People take social media too lightly in terms of their moral responsibility. There are things that are never right to say, but it’s perhaps an easy ‘guilt free’ way to unload anger because of its lack of personal contact.” What passes perhaps as ‘opinion’ or ‘review’ under defamation laws can nevertheless be pretty damning, and can certainly paint an artist in bad light within their peer groups. It’s possible the CPS guidelines will help as much

to protect serial harassers because a case against them is not seen as strong enough. Whilst clarity was needed, there is the potential here that the wrong side receives the protection. Gary Edwards says: “My instinct would be avoid legislation unless absolutely necessary, and we’re nowhere near that point yet. It would be better if Twitter, Facebook, etc, took a proactive lead on the issue. Ultimately it’s in their own interests to avoid governments trying to crack down on them.” Belittle importance There is a need to protect the vulnerable as with any form of abuse, but there’s a stronger case for leaving statutory regulation at the door. And it is not freedom of speech. More like fighting fire with fire.

It is not a mathematical theory or legislation; it’s a moral underwriting, belittling insensitive, irrational or hyperbolic comments before they’re made. If they want to hijack an argument, hijack them first. A big bully It’s very important we do just that ourselves, in order to protect a power that the rightthinking masses hold. Because not only do we stand against our personal bullies, but we stand against the bigger bullies too. A marked instance of this is Starbucks UK. You’ll remember the vitriol we poured over the American coffee giant, after it emerged late last year that Starbucks had paid little to no UK tax in its many years of operation here.

Liam Thompson, Community Manager at 33 Digital, an international digital PR and social media agency, says: “Trolls didn’t earn that moniker lightly. The important thing is to deal with them in a fair, reasonable and publicly visible manner in the eyes of the community itself. If this is the case, it’s important to have a strong level of positive, engaged members ‘Heroes’ - to counteract any trolls and change attitudes through awesome content and storytelling.”

Defending themselves, the head of Starbucks UK and CEO of Starbucks Corp put out separate statements of defence on their blog, and commendably (or stupidly) allowed user commentary underneath. The backlash was fierce. Pointedly, financial analysts and legal eagles jumped at a chance to ask why Starbucks had told shareholders their UK profits were up whilst telling HMRC they’d made none. As a cavalry of experts led the charge, the remaining legions of laymen saddled up.

In researching this I was referred to Godwin’s Law. Devised by US attorney Mike Godwin in 1990, the rule of thumb is: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

Subsequently, a parliamentary committee pointed fingers at such immorality, vowing to do little about the legal loopholes Starbucks might have exploited. Instead the committee passed the buck to the HMRC for doing nothing, and pledged some £77 million towards hiring new heads to police it. Incidentally, I doubt this had Starbucks running for the hills. It’s like implementing a police force to nick people for shoplifting because they got a buy-one-getone-free deal.

This was the first I’d heard of it, yet having immersed myself – regrettably or otherwise – in countless online discussions over the years I could certainly relate. Godwin observed newsgroup discussion forums, and repeatedly witnessed conversations descend to ridiculous comparisons: “It’s like Nazi bloody Germany round here these days”, or something to that effect. ‘Political correctness gone mad’ also springs to mind. The purpose of the law is simply to take the wind out of the sails, much like the word ‘troll’.

It was not the Government’s finger-wagging, but the sustained outcry and calls over every public forum to boycott Starbucks and support independent local traders. At this, Starbucks about-turned, promising to pay £20 million to the UK taxman over the next two years. Some saw this as an empty sweetener, but if people continue their countrywide calls to boycott -

inevitably through social media - the company will have to pay up regardless of profit. There’s potential for more of a win than you first bargained. Funnily enough, Starbucks then shot itself in the foot again. Again through the power of social media, the company attempted to redeem itself, cultivating its homely, innocent image by asking tweeters at the Starbucks-sponsored ice rink outside London’s Natural History Museum to #SpreadTheCheer last Christmas. And verily, they did. The poorly monitored Twitter feed, projected in full view of the public, embarrassingly displayed cheery messages of “Pay your taxes, you…”. Louder than words Companies and troublemakers need to tread carefully for different reasons, and many often do not appreciate the speed at which a public can vehemently turn. This is a good thing. Social media can police itself. The transparency of a corporation like Starbucks can be relentlessly questioned. Trolls can be called out and shunned. And anyone else looking to further a ridiculous personal agenda can be wonderfully ignored. In a hyper-connected world, there is considerable power in the non-response. Take Morrissey, for example. The Smiths’ frontman and champion of the outspoken few, has seemingly by his own doing to been reduced to a reclusive corner of social media, spouting erratic nonsense like a digitised Howard Hughes.


Here is a place where he could accuse Kate Middleton of being directly responsible for the suicide of a nurse that transferred a prank call to her hospital room during her pregnancy. Or where he can compare pre-Olympic fever to Nazi bloody Germany.

The wonderful thing is everybody else just shrugs as if to say: “It’s just Morrissey, he’ll tire himself out soon. Just ignore him and look at this picture of a cat.” It was similar with Donald Trump. The seemingly untouchable billionaire nearly desecrated his own reputation on YouTube, after asking US President Barack Obama to submit his college application records. In return, he offered to donate $5 million to a charity of Obama’s choosing. The plan backfired when, inevitably, countless users worldwide called for Trump to just donate the money and shut up. Social media needs policing by the people who use it. It’s not merely a forum, but a weapon, the value of which was never so prevalent until we thoguht we couldn’t wield it. It’s a place where David and Goliath are of the same build, and multinational corporations play on our field, to our rules; where we not only speak of injustice, but rally the cries against it. Meanwhile for the little guys, social media is a necessity, not a luxury. Access to such powerful promotion does mean putting your dukes up, but remember you have the same powers as everyone else out there. It’s a battle of wits, and we can be heroes.

Benjamin Murphy

Interview – Christopher George


55 - How would you describe your work and what category would you place it into? Would you want to categorise your work? BM - I don’t think there needs to be categories. I would describe it as slightly surreal, a little bit ethereal and ghost like, but I don’t think there is any need for categorisation in art at all. 55 - You do work on the street with your material, even though I wouldn’t say you’re really a street artist. How do you feel about your street artwork being removable? BM - There’s quite a nice quality to the fact the artwork only has a certain shelf life, quite short in terms of street art. Because the artwork is more what happens over time, like the tape peels off slowly. It’s like a decaying flower I guess. On one of my pieces there was a lot of text, over time some of the letters had fallen off making the word illegible. On one of my other pieces, one of the eyes peeled off, giving it a more grotesque feel. 55 - Do you get obsessive watching and tracking the change, with parts becoming more obscure as they decay? BM - They’re all mainly around this area, and I don’t really go by places to check them out but if I am walking close to a piece I’ll peek my head around the corner to see if it’s still there and what stage they’re at.


I was discovering I had to learn myself. There are not any books about it like other methods in creating paintings, so it was just playful. That’s a good way to describe my work. 55 - Do you have a business plan now? BM - No. Not at all. I’m just loving what I am doing at the moment. I just plan to carry on what I’m doing as I love it! 55 - How do you work with the layers, especially the gallery works with the Perspex and translucent element?

BM - With the framed pieces, they’re all drawn on clear Perspex, then I flip the Perspex over, so the tape is on the inside, just so they last and are encapsulated. 55 - When you are doing this, are you seeing it as a finished reversed image, or are you doing it, and it then becomes different once its flipped? Do the connotations change for you? BM - If I have text in it then it obviously changes, but usually I will draw a bit, flip it around and change what seems incorrect, then keep drawing and flipping, checking out both sides. 55 - How long does it take you to do a standard size gallery piece? BM - It usually takes me a few hours, 3 to 4. The last show took me 29 days to produce all the work.

55 - The material you use is electrical tape. Where did this idea stem from?

55 - God, I wish we could work that quick doing this magazine...

BM - It happened while I was at University. I was just really drunk one night and drew on my friend’s wall with some tape I found. I then started doing it on my own walls, around Uni and Manchester.

BM - (Laughs) Yeah I get a bit obsessive and can end up drawing for 12 hours a day.

55 - At what point did you think: “I can really do something with this”? BM - Not for a long time. I was just doing it because it was fun, there wasn’t a business plan, or trying to find something no one else was doing. I really enjoy doing it and how the tape works to draw with. A lot of the techniques

55 - So do you just get into the spirit of it, turn your phone and your computer off, don’t communicate anymore, or are you still trying to do other stuff? BM - Yeah I do completely shut myself off from the outside world. My last show was at the Hoxton Gallery and I got to produce the work there as my studio. It was a really inspiring space. I do have to be in the zone.

there during the weekend at night”. It was a happy coincidence. 55 - Maybe you’re a bit of a clairvoyant at reading into locations.... BM - Possible… 55 - Your work has a kind of propaganda style to it. Would you say you’re trying to relay a message, or would you like to be more politically minded with what you are saying? BM - I don’t have a political message, I don’t think. I think most art is just playful and my art, I do it because I enjoy doing it. A lot of artists seem to be scared to say that. I draw because I love drawing. I’m doing it because I love doing it. 55 - Do you think using tape will develop into using other materials, moving on from this process?

55 - When you’re working on a piece, are your ideas planned out prior, e.g. with sketch books, or are you working more ad hoc? BM - I very rarely plan what I’m going to do. Sometimes maybe, because I doodle a lot, if there’s something in a drawing then I may revisit it. Basically I always start drawing and don’t know what it’s going to turn out like until it’s finished. 55 - What message are you trying to relay in the text? Is it something personal or on a more social level? BM - I’m not trying to relay any message specifically. All the text in my pieces I have seen or read recently and have sprung to my mind in that drawing. So it’s something as I’m drawing, I’ve been reminded what I’ve heard or seen somewhere. I don’t put them there to convey any message. I did a piece on Tabernacle Street of a topless woman saying “Lets pretend this never happened” and then I went back the next day to take photos of it, and a woman came out of a shop opposite and said, “I think the guy wrote that because lots of people have sex down

BM - I haven’t thought of working in tape forever. If I get bored then maybe I’ll change to something else. I have had a few ides of what I would like to do. One idea is a huge drawing on a hill out of weed killer. I’m open to new things but at the moment I’m loving tape. 55 - Where would you say your ideas have come from, growing up, what was influencing you? BM - I really like black and white photography. The works of Francesca Woodman and Diane Arbus. They’re both kind of on the fringes of society, a little bit grotesque. Woodman, her photographs are ghost-like, in deserted houses with scantily clad women, so I guess they influenced my aesthetic in terms of what I think looks good, but not necessarily in what I draw. 55 - My perception of you and your works have changed considerably as I was seeing you as a street artist and maybe that was where you were influenced from, but it’s not really is it? BM - Not necessarily. I look at a lot of different types of art coming from art school so I wouldn’t necessarily class myself as a street artist although I do work in the street partly, so I guess if that’s how you classify things.

55 - With your recent gallery show, and the ideas you’re playing with, your work seems to have a sense of loneliness, isolation and almost capturing of a moment of imminent disaster.


55 - You’re from the North, Leeds. There’s a sense of “Kitchen Sink Drama” to your gallery work. BM - Kitchen Sink Drama? I don’t know that term.

BM - I think you may be completely correct. I produced my last show in one month. I was locked in the gallery producing work alone pretty much 12 hours a day. It was absolutely hectic and I think you’re probably completely right. Incessantly drawing like a maniac alone just fuelled by coffee and Pro Plus.

55 - It’s a Northern term, a Northern expression that was a movement from around the 1940s up to the 1980s, I suppose. It was demonstrated a lot in British movies, social realism with mundane working class lives. Dull with a sense of disaster. Can you relate to this? You should research it!

55 - Well I’m often right, what can I say? It’s a gift.

BM - Yeah, yeah I will! I like what you’re saying. I guess there is a bit of despair verging on the brink of disaster in a lot of my works. I think that kind of stems a lot in the kind of works I look at. That is what I appreciate and what transcribes into my work naturally. I think to inspire happiness in a viewer doesn’t really do it for me in an image.

55 - Do you think you’re not quite aware of what you have done with the work, and take some time to digest this? Will the next body of work you do, reflect on this with a better idea of the previous work? BM - Yes I can definitely see what you’re saying because I did all this work in such a short space, I didn’t plan any of it. Any idea that popped into my head I just did it and put them all in the show regardless if I liked them or not, so for that reason there’s no narrative but there may be similarities and idiosyncrasies between works that will only emerge to me as they do to everyone else.

55 - I totally understand. BM - Despair in an artwork, it’s something that everybody understands and is much easier to inspire, being a much more intense emotion than just the appreciation of a happy face. Angry or sad faces with more despair are a lot more interesting for me to draw because of the wrinkles and creases.

Pink lace catsuit - Damaris Gold leather Harness - Tamzin Lillywhite Shoes: Bernard Chandran Yellow lace catsuit - Damaris Neck piece - Sophie Breitmeyer Black shoes - Simmi

Photographer - Christopher Sims Stylist - Lisa Nicolaou

Photo assistant, Production - Nick Thompson Make-up - Phillip Ueberfellner using MAC Hair - John Mullan for using Kevin Murphy Models - Ashlee at Leni’s. Jade at Elite. Olga at Models1

Silver top - Prey of London Leggings - Andrew Majtenyi Patent boots - Sorapol Necklace - Beyond Retro

Black sheer body - Prey of London Waist coat - Sorapol Sequin trousers - Toujouri Shoes - Simmi Bracelet - Swarovski

Top & Trousers - Eugene Lin Gold belt - PatBo Necklace - Carole Tanenbau Bracelet - Angelica London

Hooded one piece - Sorapol Suspender belt - Fairy Goth Mother Stockings - Ann Summers Thigh high boots - Harmony

Hair Assistant - Jack Kong Post production - 55factory Photo Assistant - Samuel Smart Title Design- Joe Barbour Glasses - Emmanuel Katsaros Patent Mac - Jaeger Leather trousers - Freebird Bag - Andy Warhol By Pepe Jeans London Shoes - New Look

My Panda Shall Fly Interview - Samuel Smart


55 - How did My Panda Shall Fly start out? MPSF - There were three of us. What happened was, one of them went to Spain to become a bullfighter (laughs). It sounds ridiculous, but he had this obsession with them. He managed to enrol in a school which I’m sure is for kids. He was this late-teens guy with a big hair thing going on. Somehow he did it. He went and lived there for a while, we didn’t hear from him because I think he was living somewhere that didn’t have the internet. We saw him about a year later and he told us tales of how he was preparing and learning and he got to fight and train with this small bull with smoothed off horns, because they wouldn’t let him have a big one (laughs). He still got a few injuries though. So that was fucking insane and pretty amazing.

The other guy, he went to India to travel, which he had wanted to do for a while. It sort of happened that I was the only one left and I was still really excited by it and wanted to push it forward. There was no way that I wanted to stop, so I just took it on and did all the same things. The live shows kind of stopped because I couldn’t really do it by myself. Then I started DJing. That was maybe around 2008. In 2009, dubstep got really massive, so I started DJing that a lot up until around 2011 when I started to produce more seriously. I hooked up with an engineer and then released my first EP ‘Sorry I Took So Long’. That’s when I stopped with the dubstep thing and started to focus a lot more on serious production. I went to the engineer’s home studio every day for nearly a year to learn with him. That’s when I started looking into a live show again, but in a totally new way because it had to be just me. 55 - Last time that we saw you play, you were doing an improv set. Is that where the idea for that came from? MPSF - It was weird. When we first used to play as a trio there was a lot of improv, it was a big part of it. We had a certain structure and a lot of it was improvised which was really fun and exciting for us, so it was really cool to do it again at Power Lunches a few weeks back because I don’t think I’ve done that for a long time. There were lots of weird things going on that night so it felt like the perfect place to try it out and also use some new equipment for the performance. 55 - When’s your next release coming out? MPSF - At the start of November I released a digital 3-track EP with this guy called Will Ward. He’s in a group called Circle Traps who were formed from some of the guys from Portico Quartet, an incredible band. I hooked up with Will and have been going to his space in Leytonstone. It’s the most ridiculous, deserted wasteland there is but it’s good for getting away from stuff. There’s one bus there every twenty minutes and it passes this huge space full of bins, I think that’s where the whole of London’s supply of bins is from, it’s massive! Anyway, he lives there.


I also released an ambient cassette release on this really interesting label called AM Discs, who are based in Prague. All the music on that was collated from early stuff we did as My Panda Shall Fly back from 2006 to 2008. It’s a super cool mix of ambient stuff, loads of loops, loads of low-fi recordings that would have never been released up until now. It’s almost an archive of our earlier material. I’m working on a soundtrack for next year but I can’t really say much about it at the moment. 55 - Tell us a bit about the artwork you also produce. MPSF - I studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths. I graduated in 2009, and even during my time

there I didn’t really know what I was making or what I wanted to make. I was doing really weird stuff, nothing in the traditional sense of painting or sculpture, or at least nothing that could be exhibited in a gallery; it was either performance work or just silly stuff. I think from not having a studio space solely for that kind of work, afterwards I started messing around a lot with digital media and shooting a lot of photos on disposable cameras. I then made a website so that everything could live there and eventually I got into Java, in the sense of these weird Java applets that used to be all over the internet in the ‘90s, pre-Flash. It was basically what Flash is doing but much less advanced. There is lots of fun to be had with it, editing the programs, experimenting with outdated programs and 3D modelling. I like how limiting it is in certain ways. There’s a section on my website called ‘Shapes Dance’ and it’s basically this program that I spent a few solid weeks just pushing it as much as I could and exploring all its features. There would be these really short animations, maybe 1 or 2-second loops of these objects exhibiting all their materials and styles doing some weird movement and I just loved how minimal and almost pointless it was. I’m working a lot with an amazing program called Brice, which makes terrains and incredible retro-looking stuff on it. That’s interesting. That’s what I’m working on now, making lots of video content for the soundtrack project I’m working on this year.

Words - Sarah Sabner Photographer - Dustin O’Hara

Art As Social Practice In the summer I started a project to help revive a street-market where I grew up in Hoxton, mainly out of sadness at how sparse it had become. Old local stories inspired me, such as that of the flower man, whose father almost lost a thumb to Jack Spot - a notorious British gangster in the ‘50s with an over-competitive dibs on a pitch. There used to be two hundred stalls back then. Now there’s around twenty.

Each week I would meet my photographer and interview locals about the market. My aim was to create an exhibition on the stalls with audio, photography and film. Which led me to wonder - does this classify as art? If so, what’s the discipline? Do you have to be ‘an artist’ to be an artist? It certainly breaks the mould, if one considers art in the traditional sense of a person in a studio trying to make a piece for a gallery. When you consider the infrastructure of the ‘art-world’ in the media, it’s become institutionalised all the way from art school to exhibition, the product of an industry swathed in commodification and elitism. Although there continues to be considerable art-world resistance, for many the gallery is just a shop, the art fair a mall, and the art another luxury product to set alongside antiques and yachts. Since the ‘90s we have seen a trend in star names creating global art for the market. The artwork comes with minor variations, but priced at every level from major installation to a souvenir mug that could be from Hong Kong, London, Berlin, take your pick. Gallerists, museums and auction houses have investments, reputations and income streams as prime concern so it’s clear why art situated out of the studio, engaged with the local community,

seems all the more interesting. Art as Social Practice is a term used to describe site-specific, participatory and publicly accessible art practices. According to Harrell Fletcher, whose best-known projects include the participatory website Learning to Love You More, which he created with artist and filmmaker Miranda July, art grows out of a belief that “creativity is going on in anyone who’s alive, often in ways that are completely unacknowledged.” His projects, which are often collaborative, pay close attention to the overlooked and often examine the ways in which people represent themselves, “like when a teenager puts posters up in their rooms or the way someone puts together a family photo album.” East-London based social practitioner and artist Dustin O’Hara set up a super-sized installation of husband and wife Art and Tina McLean. The project made a portrait of their life together completely visible to the public. At this, the weekend event took a life of its own, becoming a family reunion, a neighbourhood mixer, a band reunion, and memorial for a


former band-mate. It’s a little like taking art out of the classroom and into the playground. Tania Bruguera, Installation and Performance artist says: “I don’t want an art that points at a thing, I want an art that is the thing.” A work that was endearingly collaborative is Suzanne Lacy’s The Crystal Quilt, recently bought by The Tate. In Minneapolis, 430 women over the age of 60 gathered to share their views on growing older. The resulting performance was broadcast live on television and attended by over 3,000 people. The quilt now exists in the form of a video, documentary, photography and sound piece. It combines the original elements of performance, activism and broadcast in a work that fuses social responsibility with the power of aesthetics; something Suzanne Lacy has pioneered in her career as an activist artist, writer and teacher. Jeremy Deller does not paint or make sculptures. His work has a kind of pop-cultural

democracy. He has won an Albert Medal for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce for ‘creating art that encourages public responses and creativity.’ His work has re-enacted the miners’ strike - the Battle of Orgreave - where he choreographed willing miners and re-enactors. In another project he had the Williams Fairey brass band in Stockport playing acid house! Against a bleak political landscape as the coalition continues hammer away at communities, it’s refreshing to see art not only reflecting, but also producing new forms of social capital and cultural exchange. It’s meaningful to engage with what’s happening down at the local bike store, at the coffee shop, with the family next door or at the city farm. The question to ask is how can the ideas of social practice connect - to understand these communities and their activities, finding new in the everyday? What is encouraging is you won’t need an MA from Sotheby’s to network your way in. More often than not, the most interesting exploration is on your doorstep.

Words - 55employee #6

How do you define being rich? Fifty years ago, a million pounds seemed like a lot of money. The idea of the millionaire playboy still conjures up images in my head of a globetrotting Alan Whicker interviewing the rich and famous in St Tropez. So why today should you need to be a billionaire to qualify? Well, this was a time when the world’s reserve currency, the Dollar, was still backed by gold. It was a time when governments and banks couldn’t simply print money to fund wars or out-of-control spending, due to welfare programs dreamt up when the average life expectancy was significantly lower than the 78 and 82 years, respectively, for British men and women today. The cause today is money-printing, and the end result is inflation, or worse, hyperinflation. It’s not a threat that can’t rear its ugly head again when you consider recent instances of hyperinflation as a direct result of money-printing in countries such as Zimbabwe in 2009, and Argentina in 2001. Go back a bit further and of course the rise and fall of socialism in Germany’s Weimar Republic in 1923 sped Hitler’s ascent to power. ‘Money-printing’ is perhaps too dramatic a


notion for today’s internet-enriched consumer. The controlled mainstream media prefer to use buzz phrases like ‘quantitive easing’ and ‘austerity’ to make it all sound palatable, but what does this really mean? Put simply it means the governments are spending too much and can’t afford it. So aside from getting taxed more, they borrow more money from the banks and countries who still think UK PLC is a safe bet; countries still prepared to buy our debt in the form of Gilts. But for how much longer? You only need go back to the ‘70s to witness the UK’s last episode of inflation, peaking at a staggering 25% in 1975. The economists argue many possible causes, but perhaps one of the most significant events was in 1971, when President Nixon took the US Dollar - which was and still is the global reserve currency - off the gold standard, a monetary system where participating countries set the value of their currencies according to a weight of gold at a fixed price. Nixon stopped redeeming US Dollars with gold, and thus started the beginning of the biggest debt bubble in history. Vince Cate runs a blog site called ‘How Fiat Dies’ and is sited by a number of ‘Austrian School Economists’ .In a recent study by Cate,

he analysed 599 forms of paper-based currency from the past millennium. Surprisingly, none are still in circulation: Of these 599 dead paper currencies: (30%) 184 ended monetary unions, dissolution or other reforms, such as the creation of the Euro in 1999 (and its physical use since 2002); (15%) 94 ended through acts of independence (former colonial states renaming or issuing new currency); (27%) 156 were destroyed by hyperinflation (caused by over-issuance of paper money by governments and central banks); (28%) 165 were destroyed by war (deemed invalid through military occupation or liberation). The Second World War saw at least 95 currencies vanish as nations were conquered and liberated, but hyperinflation can be one of the greatest disasters to strike a nation. Furthermore, the study pointed out that the median age for all existing paper currencies is only 38 to 39 years. Earlier we mentioned August 1971, which marked the end of the Bretton Woods monetary system and the start of the US Dollar as the world’s reserve currency, backed by little more than promise and trust. That was 41 years and four months ago. Oxfam has revealed that the world’s 100 richest people earned a stunning total of $240 billion in 2012 – enough money to end extreme poverty worldwide four times over. So how does this end? Why will our Government do nothing to stop the downward spiral and ever widening void between the super wealthy and the rest of society? You have to think who’s actually in control here - the banks and global corporations who represent the real rich and wealthy, or the politicians that appear more a front for their ambitions. Politicians are there to promise us the Earth, to tell us it’s going to be different this time. A good example was in 2008, as Gordon Brown claimed that he had ended the “Tory” cycle of boom and bust. Which is simply not possible, as all markets since the dawn of trade follow

what is known as the ‘wealth cycle’, a period when assets alternate between overvalued and undervalued, which is where the banks and large corporations can extract your wealth. You might think this can’t be true, that you would have been taught this in school or heard it on the nightly news. But the ‘rich’, or rather the ‘wealthy’, don’t want you to know how the game is played. They need you to keep playing the game, buying into a debtreliant system. It’s your hard work and innovation that generates real wealth and they want it. They want all of it and won’t stop until every last drop is piped out. The end game is not wealth, but control.

“I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire, ... The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire. And I control the money supply.” Nathan Mayer Rothschild If we finish by looking at those economies where people were actually burning money to use as wood to warm the fire. Wheeling barrows of cash to buy a loaf of bread. Useless money cannot feed you as it has little worth. Remember you can’t eat money...

THE CHINESE DREAM Interview – Christopher George



THE EMERGENCE OF THE CHINESE ECONOMY CROSSES EVERY LEVEL OF SOCIETY, FROM CONSTRUCTION ON A SCALE NOT WITNESSED SINCE THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, TO A NEW FASHION INDUSTRY HUB SPRINGING FROM SHENZHEN AT AN ALARMING RATE. A NEW BREED OF CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS WITH A VISION OF THE WEST ARE MAKING A BIG IMPACT ON WORLDWIDE CREATIVE CIRCLES. AFTER THE SOVIET COLLAPSE BROKE THE SPELL OF CHINA’S COMMUNIST BELIEF, AND NOW WITH ITS ECONOMIC CLOUT PLOUGHING THROUGH THE WEST, 55FACTORY TOOK A TRIP TO HONG KONG TO FIND OUT WHICH INFLUENCES HAVE BEEN DRIVING THIS ARTISTIC BEAST. WITH A MIXTURE OF EAST, WEST AND RUSSIAN COMMUNIST BACKGROUNDS BLENDING TOGETHER, IT IS MAKING FOR AN EXTREMELY POTENT EMERGING ART MARKET. Cat Street Gallery 55 - With Chinese pride in its economic boom, and wanting to recognise its own artists, identities and culture, what would you say Chinese collectors are looking for? CSG - There isn’t an exact science, there are a range of perspectives that buyers are looking from, emotional and investment, to such things as status and to leave some kind of legacy behind. A lot of Chinese collectors are building bodies of museum works. As with many nations they begin to buy their own art, often buying back items that have value in the heritage. Just like every collector across the world, collectors from the mainland are wanting the best out of China in contemporary art, and the best that’s being produced everywhere else, so there are some very diverse collectors coming out of mainland China. 55 - How are the new Chinese artists now touching on the subjects of sex, and the modern, increasingly capitalist culture of their own independence, and what are the difficulties they face? CSG - Everyone has heard that freedom is obviously more palpable, and a lot of the art that is made is about breaking through that censorship and identity. A lot is about the single child rule in China. The political movement defiantly pushes the boundaries; how far, we’re not sure, as the government seem to pick up on it when they need to. Ai Weiwei had so much coverage in the West and managed to say something, then he was incarcerated for

several months for those beliefs. I think this is one of the reasons that feeds the curiosity around the world for Chinese art, and the inherent battle which make the art and intentions more interesting. 55 - Would you say there is a strong association and inspiration with China’s contemporary artists, and the vision of pop art, whilst still using a strong communistic visual identity? CSG - I wouldn’t agree really but I see what you’re suggesting, in that recognition of brands. There is still this focus on the power of a brand, trying to subvert the power of a brand like Nike, Coca Cola and McDonalds. You see this in artworks where the artist is trying to strip the power away from these big Western brand names. There aren’t any hard and fast rules, but you will find first and foremost, the artists are extremely accomplished and they are trained in a craft; really good painters, draftsmen or sculptors and painters. The boom in China is a story that’s been written about for a while. What’s particularly interesting is the optimism in the creative market. The underbelly has an amazing frantic activity of creative types. People are really hungry to see and produce works. Collectors want to see everything under the sun. Something has opened everyone’s psyche and it’s become an intonation rather than a satellite market. 55 - The Chinese government has a hold on what is allowed to be let out. What is that statistic of assets going out or media coming in?


Plum and Blossom Gallery

Wellington Gallery

It’s difficult to tell if the piece is political, however, artists were arranging a lot of performances, and this stirred up the attention. Organising music festivals and creative gatherings that they don’t actually like for obvious reasons, this is where the problem occurred. Over the years any form of media, such as painting for example, really wasn’t the problem, as they didn’t understand the subtle information,. When you put all the people together, it was the performance that they didn’t like.

55 - With China being more open, what are the crossovers happening creatively in contemporary works, and the more traditional styled methods and identities?

55 - What would you say of the emerging younger artists today trying to break through into a creative career, and what barriers are they breaking down? PB - Students generally follow certain teachers and adopt their methods or skills and style. They do change a lot after realising that they cannot just follow other people. We are finding younger artists grouping together to produce their own shows, and their work doesn’t resemble anything from their own teachers, although there are not a lot of them, but it’s growing. One of the problems for some, still, is that their skills are really good but they are still following the teacher’s style. 55 - Popular culture has been exploited in art for many years now in the West, and we find a strong sense of this now in Chinese contemporary art, with a merging of strong communistic vision and sentiment. PB - What is really influential, is the success of artists who did so well with the political statement in their work in that Communist way. There was a lot of money made.

Schools would be taking direct inspiration from Russia being a Communist country, and China was learning a lot from this role model. Artists born during the 50s, were very influenced by the Russians, whereas artists born in the 60s, had the chance to go to art school after the cultural revolution finished. They were obviously learning important techniques and methods with 3 years + being all about sketching, practicing life drawing and learning great techniques. In the 1980s it was a period where Chinese society was having more freedom, and was influenced by Western culture after the Soviet system broke down, this is why you would see the very Western Pop Art influence. After 1989 and the Tiananmen Square incident, the Government was trying to take control of what the artists were trying to say, so, the message behind the work became much more subtle and less obvious, this was for the artist’s security, so you really have to get to know the artist and their statement to understand their expression. Artist Huang Cheng from North East China, does larger than life-like animals, enjoying cupping, in this case, several pigs, a dog and a rat, in China, these are really bad animals, they are dirty and a metaphor from the artist, of


From time to time they would sensor some nudity, and in recent years the governing body releasing the sales from auction rooms was pretty good from mainland Chinese artists. They started looking into this and have become extremely aware and tight on exports, imports and tax taken, causing a lot of trouble for artists and galleries caught up.

WG - The history of Chinese contemporary art from the 1900s, traditionally, is ink painting on paper. After the 1920s we had a lot of Chinese artists studying in France and Europe. They then came back with Western ideas of painting, teaching in China Central Academy of Art, with students then following their way of thinking. Because of the war, and the Cultural Revolution during the 1960s, it then became more about learning from “The Big Brother” Russia. If you look at a lot of contemporary artists born after the 1950s, you will find this inspiration from Russian impressionism, using the techniques and the message behind the painting with much portrayal focused on the idea of hero.


Governmental officials who are sick and need to be treated, yet the government give them really nice therapy cupping, like acupuncture.

the passionate ones to flourish in the down turn, with the commitment to producing passionate and expressive bodies of work.

The artists is saying, that there was no punishment given to these officials, with the government being totally corrupt. This is a generalisation of officials, and there was no back lash from the government with his subtle message that is unreadable without the statement.

We are now finding these dedicated artists, rising with a new upturn, but with this new power and statement of wealth, there are Chinese artists buying into the celebrity and western idea of success, and measuring their success on finance, again.

55 - China has become a dynamo of activity, with an energy that is unprecedented. Money is being poured into the arts and fashion, and with the Government seeing opportunities in a very prosperous business and social platform. The Chinese have become focused on success, and are prepared to commit extensively.

Could this be weakening the quality of their passion for the actual Art itself, taking the focus away from the art culture and leading it into the wealth forum maybe too much!

The market wasn’t doing so well after 2008, knocking away these opportunists, but leaving

HUANG CHENG Thanks to our galleries invaluable contribution.

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