Art/Body Your Fashion Supplement from the Observer
Price ÂŁ1.30 Sold in the United Kingdom
We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize t
must know the manner whereby to convince o
others of the truthfulness of his lies. - Pablo Picasso
e truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
WELCOME... First Edition
Welcome to the first in a four part series of a stunning collection of supplements brought to you by the Observer. This dramatic series will take you on a journey, a journey that will let you escape the world just for a minute and take you to a world of beautiful images and innovative (and at times) gruelling features and interviews.
WHAT IS ART? The answer…anything you want it to be. A photograph, a painting, a tattoo, a piece of clothing. Art is loving something enough that it evokes a sense of emotion from you. Whatever that emotion may be; sadness, happiness, warmth, anger, it has provided you with a feeling.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
Yukhie Hau MAKE-UP ARTIST “There are flowers everywhere, for those who bother to look.” Henri Matisse
Contributors page Exhibitions A page dedicated to the must see exhibitions this month.
Come Fly with Me.
Anthony Thornley ARTISTIC DIRECTOR “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” Salvador Dali
“Dance is the song of the body. Either of joy or pain” – Martha Graham. Kelby McNally delves into the history of modern dance and its journey into the 21st Century.
Cloud Dance Festival review.
Maiko Takeda CONTRIBUTOR “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.” Abraham Maslow
Our review team takes a much-anticipated trip to North London to view the Contemporary Dance Festival, Cloud Dance where the young, upcoming dance talents showcase their new performances.
Fashion gets inked. From conmen and sailors to Chanel, the journey of body art from underground alternative individuals to its acceptance within the mainstream fashion world.
Lucy Mapstone ILLUSTRATOR “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life” Pablo Picasso
Emily: Body Beautiful The body is the highest form of art.
Stelarc: Alternate Anatomical Architectures Performance artist Stelarc talks to us about life as a performance artist and his focus on extending the capabilities of the human body.
Sohrab Vahdat PHOTOGRAPHER “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” Matt Hardy
Maiko Takeda: Moving in Shadows Jewellery design student, Maiko Takeda talks to us about her graduate collection.
The Ten Greats Here we take a look at the ten greatest performance artists of our time.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
EDITORS LETTER Welcome to the Body Issue
My fixation with using the body as art started at a tattoo convention with a friend, who was interested in starting a new business. Entering the room, I was struck by how beautiful everyone looked, each body a piece of art; intricate patterns and colourful creations printed on their skin. Having indulged myself at the tender age of sixteen with a ‘hardcore’ butterfly, I already had an understanding of why people tattoo, however my focus changed to admiring the way that these people were using their bodies to display their feelings, wants, emotions, their loves and their losses. The notion that “this is my body and I’ll do what I want and make it as beautiful as it can be” bought me into a whole new world, one where the body is a blank canvas. This issue will immerse you into a world where the human body is used not only to display art but becomes an integral part of the whole art form. Content will include Maiko Takeda whose jewellery is designed to compliment the body, contemporary dancers who use their body in a bid to tell their story, and the more dramatic but sometimes gruelling performance artists who use their body in a far more extreme way. This issue will take you on a journey that will hopefully leave you with an open-mind and a head full of ideas and inspiration. Having researched this niche aspect of the art world which see’s the human body as a way of expression and communication has left me with a new found respect for mine. I have come to realise that the body is a wonderful thing and if we should feel the need to make it more beautiful then so be it. I hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as I have enjoyed creating it.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
EXHIBITIONS Things you must see this week
Marina AbramoviC THE ARTIST IS PRESENT | MUSEUM OF MODERN ART: NEW YORK | MARCH 14TH - MAY 31ST 2010 mark the longest duration of time that she has performed. The performances will start before the museum is open and will carry on after it has closed, this is to allow visitors to experience the timelessness of the pieces. There will also be a gallery that will show all of Abramovićs works in chronological order. Visitors to the exhibition are supplied with an illustrated catalogue including an audio recording that guides you through the publication.
With over fifty works spanning over four decades, Marina Abramović has had a somewhat prolific career. This unmissable performance traces Abramovićs life’s work, from her early interventions to her most recent solo performances. In a bid to transmit the performances of this brilliant artist and make them accessible to the larger audience the exhibition reworks Abramovićs performances in a live re-performance by other artists. Abramović will perform a single solo piece, which will
COMEDY OF CHANGE TOUR THE RAMBERT DANCE COMPANY | SADDLERS WELL: LONDON | MAY 29TH 2010 The Comedy of Change Tour combines the intriguing and exuberant worlds of evolution and dance. Artistic director Mark Baldwin returns with this new vigorous piece of work after the national successes of Constant Speed in 2005 and Eternal Light in 2008. The tour blends dance and science into a stunning and energetic performance.
Courtship dancing, display and natures use of camouflage are all part of the tour, enhanced with music and design by some of the very best contemporary artists. The tour is set to a specially commissioned score by renowned British composer Julian Anderson and the productions design by one of Paris’ leading lights of contemporary art, Kader Attia.
LONDON TATTOO CONVENTION TOBACCO DOCK | WAPPING: LONDON | SEPTEMBER 25TH -27TH 2010
with some of the best artists from around the world ready to ink anyone willing and hundreds of rooms and booths open to feed any tattoo enthusiasts, this is one convention not to be missed.
With over 20,000 visitors in 2008 and 2009, the London tattoo convention stands as one of the most important events in the European tattoo calendar. The Tobacco Dock see’s the convention enter its 6th year this September –
EXHIBITIONS | THE OBSERVER
Janine antoni AT HOME IN THE BODY | UVA ART MUSEUM, VIRGINIA:USA | MARCH 16TH - JUNE 13TH 2010 This exhibition intends to invite the viewer to feel the physical presence of the artist and come to know her intimately. Antoni carefully articulates her relationship to the world, showing the emotional states that are felt throughout the body. At Home in the Body sees a number of performances that takes
the viewer on an intimate journey that brings them into a relationship with their own body. One of her performances entitled Tender Buttons requests that the audience imagine wearing her nipples cast as solid gold broaches. A weird but wonderful piece.
arts, politics, sex FRANKO B | STUDIO 7, TAYLOR PLACE, PAYNE ROAD, LONDON | 12TH MAY 2010 People are invited to engage in any way they are comfortable at the latest Franko B exhibition. With the description that the studio is a platform, an instrument for engaging with other – socially, politically and creatively. Aimed at people that feel it is
important to interact with others in society rather than close off into internal communities. With the request to be respectful to others, viewers are encouraged to engage, be it by producing their own work, taking part in a discussion or just being present.
FRANCIS ALYS TATE MODERN: LONDON | 15TH JUNE – 5TH SEPTEMBER 2010 Past performances from Alÿs have included pushing a huge block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until it completely melted to nothing and getting 500 volunteers to walk over a huge sand dune, digging with spades and shifting it a few centimetres as they
go. This renowned and celebrated artist is the subject of a major exhibition at the Tate Modern this summer. This exhibition is his most comprehensive. It features many works unseen in Britain, including a premier of his major new work, Tornado, 2000-10.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
come fly with me
“The wind? I am the wind. The sea and the moon? I am the sea and the moon. Tears, pain, love, bird-flights? I am all of them. I dance what I am. Sin, prayer, flight, the light that never was on land or sea? I dance what I am.” (Isadora Duncan, Carl Sandburg)
What had once been disregarded as nothing but a rebellious act of feminism in the early 1900s has since been transformed into one of the most-recognised and celebrated styles of dance in the 21st Century. It’s 1904 in San Francisco and Isadora Duncan; the eccentric daughter of a California State Senator with a penchant for floaty scarf ’s and fauxGrecian tunics stands alone on stage. She is draped in fabric and bare foot. As she presses her feet firmly off the floor, returning them again softly she is met with some confused stares from her audience. She doesn’t care. She continues to twirl, skip, reach and fall, all with such elegance. Her movements start to evoke waves as she moves forward
and back, right to left, pulling and pushing like the tide on a beach. Her dance is Blue Danube. There is no river or ocean on the stage, nor is she pretending to play in an imaginary stream. There is no river or ocean in the piece other than that evoked by the movements of her graceful and flowing body. This was the start of a new genre of dance, one that would change the dance world forever. Alarming yet enchanting to audience members, this new style of dance was a stark contrast to the romantic forms of ballet that reigned the dance world for so long prior. Duncan’s strong belief that each performance should be an expression of the spirit saw dance
13 ART transform into an unstructured, individual form of expression that like Michael Clark have bought contemporary dance to the forefront fought strongly against the rigid techniques of ballet. This revolutionary of the dance world, gaining a younger, more diverse audience. style of dance was not developed from a certain technique or system but Stephanie Rossiter teaches contemporary dance and believes rather from an attitude toward dance, it was something that encouraged that there has been a sudden rise in the popularity of modern dance artistic individualism and expressionism. recently, “the contemporary dance scene is thriving at the moment. Often proving difficult to define, each dance is rarely the Young dancers are creating new stuff and it’s exciting.” Young dancers same, choreographer, dancer and teacher Helen Tamiris wrote in a are becoming more interested in contemporary dance than the more programme note for a concert she gave in 1927, “There are no general traditional genres like tap or ballet, the popularity mainly attributed rules. Each work of art creates its own code.” Some of the world’s to the individuality and potential for personalisation, “modern dance most passionate devotees have found it tough to try and identify exactly is quite simply the ability to express yourself in any way you like. Of what it is; when asked what one of her dances meant, Isadora Duncan course there are certain ways to execute each move but once you have politely replied, “If I could tell you that, I wouldn’t have to dance it.” an understanding of it all, your free to do what you like with it. It’s an art But however hard it seems to be to define, it has been a style of dance of expression. That’s why people love it” mentions Stephanie. Zachery that has thrived within the art world. Tracz from the Martha Graham School is one of thousands of young In the mid 1900’s Martha Graham, undoubtedly one of the people studying contemporary dance today, “I chose contemporary world’s greatest contemporary dance through the Graham dancers emerged onto the technique. Graham is very classic modern dance scene. She was and based off of the back and instantly recognised as one of contemporary dance is very new the most important ‘second and infuses different ways to use generation’ modern dancers. the back, which can always be STEPHANIE ROSSITER Once claiming, “dance is a song used and seen in different ways,” of the body. Either of joy or gleams Zachery, “when I’m on pain,” her passion for dance was one of the greatest influences for stage, I go out of my own body I’m not just a dancer, I am expressing many other dancers of that time, Graham was the reasoning behind every single thing that I am feeling. It kind of feels like I am letting the the rise in popularity of modern dance. It was Graham who ensured world see inside my head. I feel better than ever when I am dancing.” the acceptance of modern dance as a valid and independent art form. Although non-verbal, contemporary dance acts as a language declared She went on to establish her own company in 1927, The through the movement and the stillness of the dancers body. All dances Martha Graham Dance Company, which has since provided the art tell some sort of story, and just like Isadora Duncan’s Blue Danube the world with many of the major choreographers of modern dance; dancer evokes that story through their body movements. Merce Cunningham being one of the most famous. Despising the term New dance shows on the TV are raising the profile of ‘modern dance’ Graham often referred to it as ‘contemporary’ feeling contemporary dance too. Popular television shows like So You Think that the concept of what was modern was constantly changing and You Can Dance and Got to Dance have showcased many young was thus, inexact as a definition. ‘Contemporary dance’ has since been contemporary dancers, which is again, bringing the genre to the adopted as the general term today. masses. Although these programmes showcase all genres of dance, the It’s been more than a century since Duncan performed contemporary dancers have always shone. The eventual winner of So Blue Danube and over eighty years since Graham opened her dance You Think You Can Dance was contemporary dancer, Charlie Bruce company yet their natural and free flowing body movements are still as voted by viewers at home. Stephanie recognising this fact mentions, the epitome of today’s modern dance world. “The individuality and “TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance are definitely giving potential for personalisation is what makes modern dance so popular” contemporary dancers a break and enabling this style of dance to be claims dance teacher Stephanie Rossiter, “students will be taught things translated to the type of audience that wouldn’t necessarily go to see a like the Graham and Cunningham exercises but then they are free to contemporary dance of their own accord. This is consequently allowing express themselves in anyway they feel necessary. Modern dance works the art world to receive more funding from the Arts council.” much like a family, the choreographers are there to teach their children Zachery confirms that contemporary dance is becoming the way, then the children will interpret it in their own way and alas, a more popular amongst young dancers, “contemporary dance is new technique is born.” great because you always get a chance to see new shapes, forms World-class choreographer Michael Clark is a prime example. and different styles of dance. There are always new elements to this A student at the renowned Rambert Dance Company, Clark was taught style of dance; women partnering men, new and different kinds of a certain style of executing each of his moves. However, he has since ways to use the space, etc.” He hopes to be working with either one gone on to develop his own unique sense of style, establishing his own big dance company when he finishes his studies however he realises company, the Michael Clark Company and a slightly more current style that the industry is extremely competitive and would be content of contemporary dance. His work reflects his belief that actions speak with working for a few small companies. Stephanie also mentions louder than words. The extraordinary combination of his classical the competitive nature of dance, especially around women, “it is integrity and a more complex contemporary sensibility embracing virtue very difficult to make it in the world of dance. I knew I wasn’t and vice, abandon and control, grace and embarrassment has resulted the best dancer in the world and I knew the competition was, and in him gaining a respectful status amongst the dance world. Clark has still is fierce. The likelihood of me becoming a professional dancer taken dance to another level in the 21st Century, with his legendary was slim. I just loved to dance, so teaching and being able to do it collaborations with bands, fashion designers and visual artists. Dancers everyday is like a dream come true.”
“CONTEMPORARY DANCE IS AN ART OF EXPRESSION. THAT’S WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT”
CLOUD DANCE - Review -
March 26th - 28th 2010 Fans of contemporary dance were treated to a wonderful mĂŠlange of dance and choreography from the Cloud Dance festival again last weekend. Founded in 2007, the Cloud Dance Festival is an extension of the part-time contemporary dance company Cloud Dance. They founded the festival with the recognition that there was a shortage of available performance opportunities in London despite the wealth of talent. Three times a year, the festival brings a new set of talented dancers and choreographers to the stage. The first of three festivals this year, Trouble and Desire took place in North Londonâ€™s Pleasance theatre, featuring twenty contemporary companies. The Sunday matinee I attended showcased seven and the standard was well above par. The programme boasted an International flavour as the festival took the opportunity to celebrate the rich diversity of talent in London. Consisting of choreographers and dancers from the likes of Malaysia, Japan, Canada, USA and Finland, the three-night spectacular comprised of a variety of incredibly different performances.
Yuyu Rauâ€™s Beauty unveiled kicked off the evening with four multicultural dancers accompanied by exquisite Chinesepatterned drapes decorating the otherwise plain stage. A spotlight shines on one of the female performers whose limbs start to expand and unfold elegantly from her controlled pose. There are three other performers who join her, executing intricate steps with great technical expertise and almost liquid fluidity. Their black and white costumes compliment the contrasting moves during the Yin and Yang inspired dance. The obvious strength and physicality of each performer lends the performance a highly sophisticated and technical feel from beginning to end.
No less impressive was Scarlett Perdereau’s Spare Rib, a combination of movement versus music. Having been performed as a work in progress for two years prior to Cloud Dance, this year it seemed to achieve what they were after – the audience cheered in delight after their ten-minute performance. The musicians played effortlessly whilst the dancers moved to the rhythm. A man playing a bass moved fluidly around the stage as they explored the ‘body-instrument’. The physicality of sound and the musicality of the body worked extremely well together; although it did seem that the instruments overshadowed the dancers at some point throughout.
Mavin Khoo presented his choreography skills in Amour. A much more controlled dance, noticing a much more of a crossover with ballet than the previous dances. Amour opens with his two dancers under a spotlight – the female wearing a draped, sheer dress with both in pumps – a contrast to the previous barefoot performers. Portraying a love story and with recognisable music from Romeo and Juliet in the background it felt slightly predictable, but the technicality and expertise of both performers had the audience mesmerised. Simple, yet believable.
The highlight of the night however, was most definitely Slanjayvah Danza’s Blind Passion. Choreographed and danced by Jenni Wren, Blind Passion was danced with the theory that “Passion cannot be described, only experienced.” The two dancers work unbelievably well together, their chemistry on stage was just striking. Divided into three sections the dance becomes subtly more revealing, starting fully clothed and ending up almost nude. Starting off as an explosion of flirtatious and sexy moves, it suddenly turns into a sensual game as blindfolds are introduced. Tango influences interspersed throughout the dance provided the fun and provocative elements to the already emotive dance. Blindfolded, they slip off their costumes and now topless the dance becomes more expressive and free as they move their bodies, enjoying the pleasure of each others touch. The complete trust and knowledge they share as dancers’ shows throughout. The dance is almost acrobatic as they pick each other up with such ease – Jenni displaying as much strength as her partner, Riccardo on stage. This is a seriously impressive piece.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
FASHION GETS INKED - Tattoo Trend -
From Sailors and War heroes to Chanel and Victoria Beckham, it would seem that tattoos have finally reached the mainstream. Once upon a time, you had to be a rather interesting individual to warrant a display of skin-ink. Tattoos were once the preserve of sailors, war heroes and ex convicts. They served many as a blue and blurry reminder of the lives they had led, the places they had visited and the loves they had lost. You would often see a war veteran with a significant number poignantly etched onto his skin, while sailors and ex cons would have ‘love’ and ‘hate’ emblems outlined shakily by their own hand. It was extremely rare to find tattoos on anyone that wasn’t one of the above. Today however, it seems almost strange if you haven’t experienced the pain of a tattooist’s needle. Standing as a proud display of identity and individuality, tattoos initially seem like a good idea. Expressing love for someone by scripting his or her name forever onto the epidermis is the epitome of an old romantic. However, fast-forward to a fairytale wedding in which the bride has the name of a previous lover emblazoned on her arm in Chinese script and you’ll soon spot that unmistakeable look of regret. So why are tattoos so popular? Apparently the same reason that
the ever so unforgiving legging was seen on every Tom, Dick and Harry last year; they are fashionable Darling. Megan Fox, Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham, it’s almost de rigueur to have a tattoo if you want to make it onto the A-list. They scream ‘now’ so seductively that people want them, and those that don’t want them already have them. It’s been a long road of acceptance for body art to enter into the mainstream. For years now, the big guns have featured tattooinspired garments to no avail. In the eighties, John Richmond launched his diffusion line, Destroy which, although popular with rebellious teens were disregarded as a fad by the fashion elite. Whilst the bigger brands of the time were dressing middle class fashionista’s, Richmond was catering to a distinctly hipper and more urban audience, with an accessible, affordable range of biker jackets, bandannas, denim jackets and waistcoats; the epitome of an eighties rebel. Most of the items saw tattooinspired patterns; the words ‘destroy’ were inscribed on the arms of long sleeved t-shirts imitating the ‘full sleeve’ a la David Beckham. Chinese dragons, tribal patterns and entwined scrolls
adorned leather jackets. In 1994, heavyweight Jean Paul Gaultier brought body art to the forefront of bad boy fashion by sending the collection Tattoos and Piercings down the catwalk. The collection featured his now signature “tattoo” tulle t-shirts for the first time. Heavily tattooed models with excessive amounts of piercings paraded down the catwalk in Gaultier’s similarly adapted attire. Always one to rebel against the then standard rules of fashion etiquette, the collection consisted of skin-tight fabrics with tattoo-esque prints. Nude coloured tops with bold prints showcased tattoo fakery in all its glory. A little ahead of their time though it would seem as Gaultier and Richmond’s tattoo-inspired collections stayed within their niche market audiences. A little too ‘out there’ for the era that pop was at its reign perhaps. However, it seems that the liberal 21st Century has proved the right time for body art to hit the fashion world. JPG or the enfant terrible as he was once proudly named bought tattoos back with a vengeance and made them this years spring/ summer’s must-have accessory, with an ever so slightly less inyour-face attitude, of course. Gaultier showcased his body art by etching the names of his models in gothic style calligraphy on various parts of their bodies; face, neck, arms and chest. Much to the disappointment of fashions critiques, the tattoos on show were of the temporary sort. Although we are all well aware that the fashion world can be a little irrational (leggings?) tattooing the face in the name of fashion could branch into the bracket of insanity. Make-up artists spent hours drawing the Gothic writing on each of the models by hand. Rodarte also had make-up artists
creating temporary tattoos. Teaming up with MAC experts, tribal prints were painted onto models in a Maori-inspired geometric look with full sleeves and neck designs on show for a futuristic feel. Karl Lagerfeld, well known for his penchant for spotting an upcoming trend, also bought tattoo fakery to the catwalk. Creating a more marketable temporary tattoo, Chanel showcased intricate designs that adorned the models; delicate rosary beads with fairytale swallows draped over the shoulders and wrapped around wrists. Each design decorated with the signature double C. Elaborate detailing forming bracelets and garters created a signature look in the good girl gone bad-esque collection. Able to instil immediate want and desire in the majority of the female population, it seems that Chanel’s recent direction of ‘How to look good this season’ has proved right yet again. Whoever succumbed to the legendary quilted bag and tweed jacket can’t have failed to acknowledge Chanels influence on their look and so when Lagerfeld introduced tattoos into his latest collection and with the fashion world sitting securely in his gloved hands, clearly the only sane thing to do was follow suit. What would have once conjured up childhood images of tatty ink transfers have now been transformed into this seasons musthave. Sarah Jessica Parker has already embraced the Chanel temporary look earlier this year at the Oscars, with the rest of the fashion elite following closely behind. Once heralded as ‘alternative’ tattoos have now been hijacked by an army of fashionista’s, celebs and middle-class professionals. Not a MySpace ‘alternative’ in sight. But that’s fashion darling.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
Modelled by Emily Parr Photographed by Kelby McNally Make-up by Yukhie Hau 23
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
STELARC - Body Extension -
Working on the theory that the body is obsolete, Stelarc’s work focuses heavily on extending the capabilities of the human body. Here he talks about life as a performance artist and some of his most recognised work. Stelarc is an Australian performance artists. He has become one of the most celebrated artists in the world working with technology, visual arts and the body. He has studied both Arts and Crafts and Art and Technology in Australia. Until 2007 he held the position of Principal Research Fellow in the Performance Arts Digital Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, and is currently a visiting Professor in the School of Arts at Brunel University, West London. Stelarc has been extending his body through performances since the late 1960’s. His performances have included attaching a “third hand” to his body, inserting a cellcultivated ear into his arm and extending himself into a virtual space with a “virtual hand”. Stelarc’s artistic strategy works around the theme that the human
body is obsolete, he revolves around the idea of “enhancing the body” in both a physical and technical manner. When he speaks of an “obsolete body” he means that the body needs to overcome the prejudice surrounding it and allow it to be enhanced with technology that is more accurate and powerful. In his words “the body lacks modular design…the body is biologically inadequate.” Could you tell me about your performance career? Well primarily it’s been about probing the body, augmenting the body and constructing it as an extended operational system. What do you enjoy most about being an Artist? The fact that my work generates more questions than answers. People come out from my performances more confused then when they went in – it enables them to learn more each time. Is there anything that you dislike about your career? I haven’t made it easy on myself and I don’t have adequate finances to fund my projects. My projects can be extremely
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
painful and tiring but I feel this is necessary as a performer and artist. What has been your greatest success? There are no successes. Only tentative explorations and experiments. Have you always been interested in enhancing the body? It’s not so much about enhancing the body. Rather the concern is with alternate anatomical architectures. People have said that maybe I do this because I feel I have an inadequate body! But it’s more to do with the fact that the body isn’t just a biological entity, it is always being augmented by technology to increase its power. So there is always a feeling that the body needs to be augmented and needs to have technology attached to it to extend and enhance its operations. What are the most challenging aspects of your career? Translating ephemeral ideas into physical actions and installations.
Is your body something that you will always work with? Do you feel you are artwork as well as an artist? I’ve always been a performance artist. And this body is both the mode of expression and experience. I’ve never really felt that I am the artwork. The reasoning that my performances are focused on this particular body is that it is difficult for me to convince other bodies to undergo rather awkward, difficult and sometimes painful experiences. For me the body is an impersonal, objective structure. We need to take a more fundamental approach and consider that only through radical designing What is the reasoning behind trying to enhance the body, what do you mean by the body being obselete? It’s more about augmentation and experimenting and experiencing the body as an extended operational system. We have had centuries of prodding and poking to human body to no avail, the body is not an efficient structural system. It malfunctions, its performance is determined by age, it can form diseases, it leads
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
a very short life. It has a lack of modular design. Do you see yourself as an exhibitionist? No. It could be argued that performance artists are, we perform in front of an audience so in turn become public figures but what they don’t realise is with performances like the suspension events that I did were often performed to no audience at all and these were the acts that people see as the most spectacular. Whenever I mention Stelarc, people seem to think of the ear that you had inserted into your arm…can you describe the third ear? The Ear On Arm project is both surgically constructed and cell grown. Your description is misleading. We are living in an age of excess and indifference. An age of Organs without bodies. Organs awaiting bodies. Organs are extracted and exchanged. Blood flowing in my body today could be circulating in your body tomorrow, limbs can be reattached or amputated from a dead body and attached to a living body and so on. This project
was about replicating a bodily structure, re-locating it and now re-wiring it for alternate functions. I have always been intrigued about engineering a soft prosthesis using my own skin, as a permanent modification. I hear it was quite hard to find a surgeon that would do the procedure for you, how did you finally manage to find one? It took 10 years to find surgical assistance and the funding to do it. Three surgeons participated in the surgeries. What is in store for Stelarc in the next couple of years? 1. Completing the Ear on Arm project. It’s still only a relief of an ear. I am aiming to have a microphone inserted into the ear so that people have the opportunity to listen to what my ear is hearing. 2. Constructing a micro-robot that is robust enough to climb up my tongue into my mouth. 3. Completing the robotic Articulated Head project.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
MAIKO TAKEDA by Kalby McNally
MOVING IN SHADOWS Central Saint Martins graduate Maiko Takeda takes jewellery design to another level.
Maiko Takeda is a jewellery design graduate from Central Saint Martins. Her graduate collection saw the human body and shadows working together to form the main elements of her designs â€“ this gained her a lot of attention. Here she talks about that collection, her time at Saint Martins and what she is doing at the moment.
Photographed by Sohrab Vahdat 31
“I think the prestige that surrounds Central Saint Martins meant that a lot of interesting people attended my final degree show and were able to understand the concept behind my work and its potential.”
The human body is an extremely important element of my work. When I design jewellery I want it to have the same quality as a piece of art, not just merely an accessory for the body. The body in turn, works as a device to convey my art. My graduate collection, Cinematography, shows that shadows can be worn as adornment. The concept is that the jewellery needs to be worn in order to be fully appreciated. Each piece is simply made of a sheet of mesh metal on which I drilled thousands of holes by hand in different sizes, and once the light shines through the piece the shadow unexpectedly appears on the body as a photograph-like image of organic forms. Although it is an ephemeral and temporary material the shadow remains as a secretive yet main part of the piece.
I originally started the project by analysing the things I didn’t like about jewellery design. What I came up with determined my idea for Cinematography; jewellery is usually restricted to certain parts of the body – the neck, fingers, wrists and ears. This is boring to me – the body has such an interesting and complex structure, surface and shape that it should not be wasted. Also the materials in jewellery design can be extremely limited with the assumption that they have to be solid, durable and tangible. These elements of dislike bought me to the realisation that shadows could be a very beautiful alternative to physical jewellery. I am often inspired by natural occurrences that have no set physical shapes or substances, like shadows, smoke, light, sound, I believe that the most beautiful subtlety is within these.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
I wanted to create recognisable shapes to be projected as shadows onto the body. I sought to create an unexpected contrast between the pieces of jewellery and their shadow, to give a separate quality, so I intentionally chose organic motifs, roses, eyes, a cat face and a lizard. I experimented with many different types of cat faces, lizards, eyes and flowers to find the most effective image to compliment the body – it was a long process! I was so nervous but very excited at the same time when I showed cinematography. The feedback I received was amazing, something which I had not expected. I think the prestige that surrounds Central Saint Martins meant that a lot of interesting people attended my final degree show. They were able to understand the concept behind my work and its potential, which was extremely exciting for me. I came to London to study Jewellery design from Tokyo in 2005. I wanted to experience a big city where I barely knew anybody or anything – it was one of the toughest but most exciting times of my life, I would have regretted so much if I decided not to move. London is such an amazing place to live; the people are very open-minded to different things. It is such a complex city where there is endless exploring; I find new things every day. I must admit though, it gets a little annoying when the tubes get cancelled every weekend! Studying at Saint Martins enabled me to meet some of the most amazing people; they all inspire me in so many different ways. We were able to take part in some brilliant projects throughout the BA – they were often in collaboration with or sponsored by major established companies like Cartier, Swarovski or Cool Diamonds. I actually managed to work with
Stephen Jones* while I was studying. I had such a great experience there. I love his designs and respect him so much as a designer and also as a person, I was extremely grateful that he gave me the opportunity to work so closely with him. We have kept in touch since my placement, he actually recommended me as a future talent for the ‘Future Lights’ project for Wallpaper magazine this January, which was such a huge compliment. I worked at the model department while I was there – that’s where they make the couture hats. I was there during the whole of fashion week and so I was able to get involved in projects for Marc Jacobs, John Galliano and Comme des Garcon, it was an amazing experience. Now I have graduated I have been collaborating with some fashion designers; Maria Francesca Pepe, Jenny Packham and Erickson Beamon. I worked with Erickson Beamon as costume jewellery designer for some window displays. I was able to see Maria’s whole new collection, which I collaborated with her on, come to life at Fashion Week this February, which was amazing. This was a great opportunity for me to meet some more inspiring designers such as Soren Bach and see their new collections too. For my own collection, I went to Tranoi in Paris for the first time in September. Tranoi is a sort of gathering that takes place four times a year during Paris fashion weeks, we get to meet with some of the best fashion ambassadors and show our best work, It’s such a nice atmosphere there. At the moment though I am working on my new collection to present in a few months time. I am also quite excited to be making some one-off pieces for my first solo exhibition in Tokyo in November this year.
Although I am excited about focusing on my own collection and brand, I would absolutely love to live in some different countries for a while. I would love to gain some experience working for some established companies I am interested in. I would love to learn the art of millinery, also fashion and costume design; I really want to expand the possibilities in my work. It would be fantastic if I could still be creating new collections of my own as well as working on various projects with some interesting people from different disciplines in other areas such as art, design, theatre and music. I would like to see and experience as many different and interesting things as possible and am curious to discover things I still do not know yet. I like to enjoy and try my best in what I do and would like to see and let things happen organically.”
Here we take a look at the ten most shocking performance artists of our time. As a slightly obese, naked man who (for no reason I can give) is completely covered in white paint, blood dripping from both arms onto the white canvas beneath him, parades up and down a catwalk, it is not entirely impossible to understand why performance artists receive such negative feedback. Watching someone in such a vulnerable and intimate state is not what some would call a comfortable setting, however Franko B’s “I miss you” performed at the Tate gallery in 2003 has been one of the artists best loved shows, moving a number of the audience to tears. The inability to understand something can create anxiety, often resulting in an instant dislike towards the unknown. The libertarian attitude that performance artists have toward their
bodies is not something that most people understand. However, whether we know it or not these artists have changed our perception of art, what we can do with our bodies and how resilient our bodies are. Performance art began to become identified in the late 1960’s; the artists usually perform in front of an audience, challenging them to think in new and unconventional ways about art. They tend to succeed in breaking the conventional and traditional ideas of what art is, often resulting in a shocked and at times, and uncomfortable audience. Here we take a look at some of the best-recognised performance artists of our time.
With her Cruella Deville esque hairdo and style ready to rival Gaga, Orlan has radical artist written all over her. Hostile critics have named her ‘mad’ and ‘anti-feminist’ but despite this, she is still regarded as one of the greatest performance artists of our time. As a pioneer in her own right, Orlan was the first and only artist to use plastic surgery as her medium. With the intention to “re-write Western art” on her own body, within five years (1990-1995) she underwent nine plastic surgery operations. One operation altered her chin to imitate that of Botticelli’s Venus whilst another changed her forehead to look like that of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. She told the Guardian, “My goal was to be different, strong; to sculpt my own body to reinvent the self. I tried to use surgery not to better myself or become a younger version of myself, but to work on the concept of image and surgery the other way around.”
As an artist at work, the operating table became her own surreal theatre. With each procedure carefully choreographed, Orlan had designers Paco Rabanne and Issey Miyake create costumes for her as she lay fully conscious (only a mild anesthetic was used.) She would read books and have music and poetry playing in the background. The whole experience was recorded and broadcast in galleries. Left with two lumps on her forehead, her days of surgery are still very much a part of her life. “There are other ways to think about one’s body and one’s beauty. If you were to describe me without anyone being able to see me, they would think I am a monster, that I am not fuckable. But if they see me, that could perhaps change.” She admitted to the Guardian.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
9 FRANKO B
Naked flesh, white body paint and blood are what we have come to expect from a performance by Franko B. Although, he still insists that he is a painter that occasionally dabbles in performance art, his live shows are what he has become notorious for. It is a cliché to say that artists suffer for their art, but with Franko B it is definitely a possibility. Using his blood as a medium, throughout his work he attempts to portray “the pain, the love, the hate, the loss, the power and the fears of the human condition” (Franko-b.com) His performance “I miss you” launched the West Midlands annual performance festival, Fierce! in 2000. Performing to a silent audience, Franko paraded up and down a catwalk in a bizarre “action painting” with blood dripping from both arms, leaving a scarlet trail on the white canvas underneath him, which he later had made into a suit. As an artist he is undaunted by the controversy that surrounds his work. Groups of protestors haunt venues, waving handwritten signs that question whether what he is doing is art, yet he still manages to leave the fascinated audience awestruck and perversely wanting more. Audiences should be aware that a Franko B show should be approached with trepidation and an open mind.
Self-proclaimed “Grandmother of performance art” Abramovic has been staging her pieces of art for over 30 years. Her performances have been violent, grueling and troubling for audience members. Shows include cutting a five pointed star into her own stomach, having someone slap her as many times as possible in twenty minutes and the Russian knife game fivefinger fillet. Abramovic has certainly led the way in the performance art genre, her work has set out to change our perceptions of art and what we can do with our bodies. Many of her performances are legendary in the art world. One performance, Rhythm O, tested the relationship between performer and audience. Placing 72 objects that could be used for pain and pleasure the audience were instructed (by a sign) to use them on her how they please. While some tickled her with a feather, others scratched her with thorns and cut her with knives. The performance ended when an audience member held a loaded gun to her head and other terrified audience members rushed the stage. As one of the most pioneering artists of this generation and still at the forefront of contemporary art today Abramovic continues to terrify, enthrall and shock.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
Plaguing London with his recent antics, Alexander Brener could be likened to a Nick Griffin of the art world. Earning his very own ‘hate club’ Brener has made his objections to commercial art very obvious. Defecating in front of a painting by Van Gogh, it would seem his form of expression has not gone down too well. He managed to get ejected from a discussion before he was able to leave his signature form of critique that was being held by contemporary art magazine Artnet. Correspondent Laura Jones made her feelings against him known when she prayed that the
artist “decides to leave London and us all alone.” Claiming that all commercial art is “capitalist shit” he decided to defecate on the floor of a local gallery and smear the words “sold out” onto the window in a bid to deter any would-be viewers. Brener has been jailed for his beliefs. Having vandalised Kazimir Malevich’s painting Suprematisme with a green dollar sign resulting in a number of years in a Dutch prison. Brener and his wife can also be found enjoying the odd overt Public Display of Affection on the streets of Russia. Just another string to his artistic bow.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
Many contemporary art followers are divided when it comes to the work of Chris Burden. Are his performances what you would call a masterpiece? An atrocity? Both? Having been sent to a psychiatrist after some of his work, there is no doubt that his work has caused a stir. Starting to build up a reputation in the 70’s, Burden made a series of performances in which the theme was personal danger. On November 19th, 1971 he performed a piece entitled Shoot, arguably his best-known piece. He had an assistant shoot him in
the arm from about 15 meters away. Why did he do it? “I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist.” Another performance from the personal danger collection was Trans-Fixed which saw Burden crucified onto the back of a Volkswagen beetle, his palms were nailed into the car with his feet left resting on the bumper. He was pushed outside, some pictures were taken and then he was pushed back in. Some recall the setting being a place full of freaks and stoners. And artists, of course.
Having caused an upheaval amongst animal rights protestors when she performed an intimate dance, naked with a slaughtered pig, O’reilly has managed to jump in the lead as the controversial performance artist of this decade. Inthewrongplaces was s performance led by O’reilly in which the viewers, one by one were escorted into a room to witness “the slow crushing dance with a pig for one person at a time.” She performed for four hours with the dead carcass entwined in her arms. Claimed to be a waster of taxpayer’s money, her dance was far from appreciated. Also having taken place in a performance held by Marina Abramovic, O’reilly performed to a nervous and intrigued audience. She mimicked someone falling down the stairs in extreme slow motion. Naked with tears streaming down her face, it was said to be comparative to a scene from a horror film. No pig this time though.
Infamous for his self-declared protests, McGowan has intrigued (?) us all with several notable stunts. These include the time he pushed a peanut through London with his nose. The time he walked backwards through London with a turkey on his head and the time he sat in a bath full of baked beans, chips up his nose and sausages round his head (of course!) These ideas are all topical though; the peanut one was a protest about student fees, the turkey an objection to people eating turkeys at
Christmas and the baked beans? Defending the Full English breakfast. In 2004 McGowan decided to make a stand and tackle the subject of fox hunting. He said: “One million people marched against fox hunting and another million marched for it. The housing estate where I live is full of crack-heads but no one marches to help them. Everyone gets really worked up about a furry animal, but no one cares about each other.” So what did he do? He ate a fox and said it tasted like Lamb.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
3 LOTITO 2 ATHEY
Athey is known for his extremist performances. He uses his body to explore controversial subject matters, much of his work looks at the relationship between desire, sexuality and self-mutilation. Raised in an extremely religious home, Athey was speaking in tongues by the time he was ten, self-harming at fifteen and a heroine addict at seventeen. The Walton’s this ain’t. In a performance that looks at the troubled women who raised him (“three generations of sad lives”) Athey performs one of
Monsieur Mangetout as he was known to his friends, or Mister eat everything. Lotito became a celebrity in his own right during his lifetime. Eating over one ton of metal throughout his 57 years, Lotito was infamous for eating anything that was indigestible. He had consumed metal, glass, rubber, aluminum, and over a two-year period he managed to devour his way through a Cessna 150 aircraft. Cutting up each ‘meal’ and chewing them in a special way, Lotito liked nothing more than chewing his way through his wine glass. Surprisingly, he did not suffer any ill effects from his bizarre diet and died from something completely unrelated. Screw salad anyone?
his most intimate yet harrowing productions. The production looks at Athey’s grandmother, mother and aunt. One of the most shocking performances sees an actress playing his aunt appearing nude on stage. On the while Athey swings in an S&M contraption, nude. It then switches to a disturbing film of Athey cutting himself. People often choose to flee Athey’s performances, surprisingly.
1 YOKO ONO
Yoko Ono, extremely well known for her marriage to John Lennon and her involvement with the peace campaign, was also a great performance artist. Her piece “Cut piece” was first performed in 1964 in Tokyo. The piece literally meant cut. Yoko Ono would appear on stage and casually kneel down, draped in fabric. Audience members were then requested to come on stage and begin cutting pieces from the garment. This carried on until she was naked. This piece was said to have been act that subtly communicated her internal suffering. Ono was renown for getting audience members to complete her art work as an analogy of completing her identity. Some of Ono’s earlier works insisted the audience use their won imaginations. Most of her work was created in white in the hope that the viewers could imagine their own colours, a piece entitled “Blue Room” was painted white and the instruction were that the audience stay inside the room until it turns blue. She even went as far as creating a 13-day festival that took place entirely in the imaginations of those who took part. Her more recent work included “Telephone” which saw a telephone being placed into a gallery. Ono would ring it at random times in the day and talk to whoever was on the other end. Ono has proved that she is one of the most avant-garde artists of our time.
ART & BODY | THE OBSERVER
There’s no retirement for an artist, it’s your way of living so there’s no end to it. - Damien Hirst 44