MUSﾃ右 NUDE + NAKED + MORE
ARAKI MALERIE MARDER KEMBRA PFAHLER RALPH GIBSON ANDRES SERRANO LINDER SHEN WEI STEWART SHINING NICOLAY BAKHAREV JEREMY KOST PHILIP LORCA DICORCIA VINCE ALETTI CANAN AND A COLLECTION OF EMERGING ARTISTS
INTERNATIONAL EDITION NO. 6 VOL. 3 WWW.MUSEEMAGAZINE.COM
MUSÉE NUDE + N AKED + MORE
INTERNATIONAL EDITION NO. 6 VOL. 3
Editorial Office Founder / Editor in Chief Andrea Blanch Creative Director Sam Shahid Art Director Matthew Kraus Editorial Director Ellen Schweber Editorial Director Ann Schaffer Publication Director Marsin MOGIELSKI JUNIOR PRODUCTION MANAGER JOSH FRAY
Musée Team Travis Austen Huse Sara Goldman Nathalie Matias Ro Bichara Kyla Woods Andre Lanoie Kylie Shaffer REYNOLDS AVLON ALEX NEUMAN MARIAM NAZIRIPOUR OSCAR LOPEZ Website www.museemagazine.com Email info@museemagazine Facebook facebook.com/MuseeMagazine Twitter twitter.com/MuseeMagazine Tumblr museemagazine.tumblr.com
Cover Portrait of Tierney Gearon by © Andrea Blanch, 2013 ©2013 MUSÉE MAGAZINE. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED
MUSﾃ右 NUDE + N AKED + MORE
INTERNATIONAL EDITION NO. 6 VOL. 3
EDITORS LETTER by Andrea Blanch
araki by Travis Austin Huse / Oscar Lopez
EMERGING ARTISTS XV
EMERGING ARTISTS XVI
EMERGING ARTISTS XVII
EMERGING ARTISTS XVIII
EMERGING ARTISTS XIX
EMERGING ARTISTS XX
EMERGING ARTISTS XXI
Peter Brian Schafer, Gergory Prescott
by Oscar Lopez
by Andrea Blanch
by Travis Austin Huse
by Mariam Naziripour
by Mariam Naziripour
by Ian Gray
EMERGING ARTISTS XXII
by Andrea Blanch
nicolay bakharev by Oscar Lopez
EMERGING ARTISTS XXIII
EMERGING ARTISTS XXIV
philip lorca dicorcia
EMERGING ARTISTS XXV
Emerging Artists XXVI
by Oscar Lopez
Marcin Owczarek, BJ Formento
by Elisa Badii
by Travis Austin Huse
by Andrea Blanch
letter to the editor
EDITION NO. 7: energy
MUSﾃ右 MAGAZINE. established 2011.
Hi Everyone Welcome to our final volume in the ‘Nude, Naked and More’ Issue of Musée. In this volume, we delve ever deeper into the world of nudity in photography, exploring how the photographic lens can strip back the human form. We examine both the male and female form as well as scrutinizing and challenging the ideas, assumptions and ideologies that surround them. This issue demonstrates the way nakedness and nudity can be both beautiful and challenging, poetic and controversial – often all at the same time. Nobuyoshi Araki’s extraordinary and prolific career has had its share of controversy: here he continues to push the boundaries of photography by capturing images of women in bondage, forcing the viewer to confront his own perceptions of freedom, power, innocence and beauty. Shen Wei creates a revealing series of self-portraits through which he allows the viewer to glimpse the artist’s personal journey of self-discovery and self-reflection, baring both flesh and introspection. Vince Aletti grants us a stunning contrast by granting us access to his collection of male nudes from a previous era: plucked from flea markets and antique stores, all his images are found photograph. In so doing, he allows us to see how perceptions and representations of the male body have evolved over time. Taking us deep into the world of prostitution in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Malerie Marder creates beautiful compositions of female nudes. Marder confronts our conception of contemporary prostitution by presenting these women as both strong and feminine, erotic and stoic. Andres Serrano provides us with intimate studio portraits, exposing the human body in all its variety of shape and form, creating a stark vulnerability in his subjects as well elucidating their inner character. Kembra Pfahler is a performance artist and musician with a raw, unique style. In her provoking selfportraits, she subverts the viewer’s traditional conception of femininity by completely transforming her own body and presenting a provocative new persona. Through her photographic collages, Linder Sterling juxtaposes images of female nudes with pictures of animals and appliances. In so doing she suggests the objectification of the female body through mass media and consumer culture. Continuing our exploration of feminine nudity, Canan develops her dialogue with the role of the female body in art history. By presenting images of herself reminiscent of works of master
Andres Serrano, “Dirty Martini”
(continued on page 5)
editor’s letter continued
(continued from page 4)
artists who engaged in orientalist conceptions of the female body, Canan ques-
tions both the status of women in art and in the repressive Turkish society from which she hails. Carefully crafting light and shadow, Ralph Gibson allows his nudes to gently float in his photographs: as always, he creates a poetic and somewhat surreal presentation of the human form. Taking us into a rarely seen world, Malerie Marder reveals the world of prostitution in the Netherlands. Through a series of striking portraits and intimate group photos, Marder questions the nature of nakedness and eroticism as well as our conception of the sex industry. Philip-Lorca diCorcia continues his journey of eliciting the inert theatricality of the everyday and the underground by creating striking images of erotic dancers. In so doing, he forces the viewer to reexamine the performance of gender and nature of eroticism in the female form. Using polaroids to capture his male nudes, Jeremy Kost creates portraits and collages that present the male figure in both its strength and vulnerability. Kost’s interest in gay culture and urban subculture draws our attention to ideas of male erotica and the ideology of gender. In a similar vein, Stewart Shining also examines the male nude, however, his images are presented in a more heightened style: his photographs are reminiscent of advertising and high fashion, drawing us to re-examine the idealized male body and the ideas of masculinity contained therein. Finally, we are featuring Siberian photographer Nikolay Bakharev who presents us with intimate portraits of everyday Russian subjects. Presenting images of from the mundane to the erotic, Bakharev presents us with a clandestine view of the human body in Russian society. In this issue, the photographers we feature examine the human body in its purest essence: the nude. In so doing, they confront us with cultural ideologies, poetic realizations and disturbing insights into the human world. Ultimately they allow us to glimpse what is often most difficult to uncover: ourselves. The summer is coming to a close, as is our sixth issue: Nude, Naked + More. As the fall approaches, we hope you will be revitalized and refreshed - ready for our next issue: Energy.
Stewart Shining, “JR”, 2013
BOUND TO TELL
One of the most prolific and controversial photographers of our era, Nobuyoshi Araki (more often known as simply ‘Araki’) continues to intrigue, fascinate and challenge us with his photographic work. Now in his 70s, Araki continues to add to his collection of countless exhibitions and photo books. his latest exhibition at the Michael Hoppen Gallery featured some of his most provocative images to date. The gallery displayed Araki’s provoking images of female bondage, created to coincide with the release of ‘Nobuyoshi Araki: Bondage’ Araki’s work often focuses on two main themes: women and urban landscapes. His portraits of women are deeply erotic and challenging, while works such as ‘Kofuku Shashin’, focus on more intimate, everyday moments in his beloved Tokyo. While the two themes might seem at odds, Araki believes there is a strong link between these disparate elements. Araki has long been fascinated with ideas of birth and death, origins and the womb, evolution and transition, sex and discovery – all are available to Araki both in the female form and the urban environment. As the gallery explains, “sex, death and the transitory nature of life are the ideas that persist throughout his work.” Araki’s work has often found links between the prosaic urban landscape and the, erotic world it contains through images of everyday objects that are overtly sexualized. Referencing traditional Japanese art forms such as Ikebana (the traditional art of arranging flowers) Araki utilizes his camera as a way of carefully manipulating objects so they undergo a kind of metamorphosis. In his work ‘Erotos’, flowers, cracks in the pavement, fruit and other everyday objects are transformed into overtly secual representations. With its tendency to reveal the dark underbelly of society, Araki’s work is no stranger to controversy. Araki has regularly fought strict censorship laws in his native Japan, as well as in several other countries in which his work has shown. When first exhibited in Austria in 1992, the female guards walked out of the gallery. Yet as Michael Hoppen suggests, this provocative quality to his work is quite deliberate: “Araki’s work is often a statement made against the hypocrisy that exists in All images © Nobuyoshi Araki / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery, London and Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo
Japan. He is provocative as this is what produces a reaction, just as Mapplethorpe did in the 1980’s.” The exhibition at Michael Hoppen presented some of Araki’s most divisive work to date. Women in traditional Japanese dress are captured in different states of bondage: from a subtle red ribbon binding the wrists to a woman suspended by an intricate network of knots. The images range from the subtly erotic to the near pornographic, yet they are all united by Araki’s exceptional grasp of color, light and exquisite composition. The images reference the Japanese art of Kinbaku-bi, or bondage, which emerged in Japan during the Edo period in the 19th century. The practice, which translates as “the beauty of tight binding,” relies on a complex set of aesthetics and an intricate system of knots. Japanese tradition is key to the composition of the works: the women are photographed in kimono and lying on traditional tatami mats, while the lizard in one image references the animism in Japanese Shinto practices. The work thus forces us to see sexuality and eroticism as deeply rooted in tradition and as an inherent part of both Japanese and western societies. Displayed along with Araki’s work are brightly colored Shunga prints, an early form of erotic Japanese art from a similar period. In doing so, the exhibition draws attention to the evolving nature of eroticism in Japan, which often forms an odd paradox between strict censorship laws and a dark, sexual subculture. In Hoppen’s words, “it makes society examine its own social mores and confronts the elder censor and encourages a review of what is acceptable.” Araki’s provocative work forces the viewer to examine and question this phenomenon. The composition of the photographs is overtly theatrical with rich hues, dramatic lighting and carefully crafted poses. This references traditional Japanese theater forms such as Noh and Kabuki, as well as the innate theatricality of erotica: The moments he captures are staged and carefully constructed. This again draws our attention to an interesting contradiction: while sexuality is organic and natural, erotica is theatrical, constructed, artificial. Araki himself is extraordinarily prolific, with nearly 450 books and a steady supply of new works. This can be challenging for curators and gallerists. Hoppen admits that “form our point of view…it is a stream of consciousness. One has to edit and prune to find the nub of his work.” Yet this extraordinary volume of work provides us with an intimate insight into the photographer’s mind: Hoppen suggests that “his pictures are his diary, just as if he was writing about what he feels about his city, friends, women, lovers etc.” Understanding the artist himself is key to comprehending the work. Araki’s own attitude towards sex and sexuality is something natural and inherent to the artistic process. He is known for his intimacy with his subjects, even going as far to call sex the foreplay of his photography. Hoppen suggests that this is part of a long tradition in art history: “I see no difference in his approach to many painters who had ‘relations’ with their subjects. Picasso being just one that comes to mind and his paintings are equally charged.” Araki and his artwork are certainly provocative, and to some even offensive. Yet ultimately the artist elucidates profound questions about the place of sexuality in society. He draws attention to our paradoxical attitudes reagrding sex and suppression, erotica and censorship. Araki forces us to consider the aesthetics of intimacy, the theatrics of sex, the traditions of sensuality. Beyond these ideas and controversies, Araki’s carefully, crafted photographs are stunning examples of both the erotic and sublime.
Nobuyoshi Araki, “Kinbaku”, 1980-2000/2013
Nobuyoshi Araki, “Grand Diary of a Photo Maniac”, 1998/2013
Nobuyoshi Araki, “Kinbaku”, 1980-2000/2013
Nobuyoshi Araki, “Kinbaku”, 1980-2000/2013
EMERGING A RTISTS
PETER BRIAN SCHAFER
Peter Brian Schafer, “Yesenia Linares”.
EMERGING A RTISTS
Gregory Prescott, Left: “Branden”, Right: “Ray”.
M A L E R I E M A RDE R Portrait by Tatiana Leshkina
T I M E
O F F
Where and how did you first develop your interest in nude photography? What attracted you to the idea of nude photographs? When I was young I was lucky enough to travel with my family quite a lot. My mother worked for Pan Am and we went all over the world. We visited museums and I saw the Sistine Chapel multiple times and the statue of David multiple times, and endless Courbet’s, all before puberty. I think it implanted a strange deviation in my brain that the figure wasn’t something I needed to avoid. When I was a freshman at Bard College, fate intervened, a close family friend who was like a sister to me asked me to photograph her and her lover. I was nervous but ended up taking pictures that led me out of my comfort zone and into oblivion. That said, I’m more of a fan of Lucien Freud’s idea of a “naked portrait” rather than a “nude.” Your photographs often have a voyeuristic quality. Where does this come from? Do you see photography as an inherently voyeuristic medium? Yes, absolutely. Even the anatomical elements of a camera are voyeuristic— turning the knob of my view camera to focus on the ground glass feels strangely creepy like I am freezing or pinpointing a scene (or psyche). The bellows look like an elongated musical instrument/periscope. The lens distorts your perception and in essence makes you feel like you are observing a scene, rather than a player in it. Anatomy features photographs of prostitutes in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. What drew you to this subject matter? I began by imagining a body of work solely of women that were part hallucinatory, part real, who intrinsically have a different relationship to their bodies. On museum placards you can read of Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings of prostitutes and how their bodies were less forced and expected. I found myself similarly mesmerized by the idea of how one person’s survival could also be their art. How do you compare the experience of photographing people close to you versus that of photographing strangers? For myself, I don’t think there’s much of a difference. You have the same obstacles to overcome. Just because you know someone intimately doesn’t inherently turn into fascination and likewise just because someone is a stranger doesn’t necessarily make a situation compelling. I think there are misconceptions or even pretensions around the nature of photography and its ability to glean insight. The moment you frame and freeze a moment that is unfolding is the precise beat that it becomes relative. It’s all terribly subjective. There is an intense intimacy within your pictures. How did you achieve this moment with and between your subjects? How did you gain access to this world?
The access took time. My first trip was unsuccessful. Not a single frame exposed. But in my last days, I made connections through two Dutch collectors; one who had a past relationship with a woman who ran a club (brothel) in Rotterdam and the other who knew an artist who knew an addict who knew a gay couple who knew boys on the street who knew women in an erotic wrestling network in Amsterdam. So, one approach was direct and the other circuitous. The intimacy gained was willful luck. There were women that immediately intrigued me that became muses and others took more effort. Some, I failed completely. You have said that you find some discomfort in being photographed yourself. How do you overcome this? How do you help your subjects do the same? Most of the women were comfortable with the camera though there were exceptions- some were cautious, a little guarded and some a little nervous. I generally shoot long exposures and my process is slow and meditative. It takes time. I try to lull my subjects into a daydream. The women really liked being photographed. They would come to watch their friends. I’m a quiet presence. I’m more of an observer. With myself as the subject, I’m ruthless. I’m a mean dictator. I demand things of myself I could never demand in another person. Unlike some of your previous work, Anatomy focuses exclusively on the female nude. What drew you to focus on this specifically? What kind of feminine sexuality did these women embody for you? For me, women carry around more secrets, just naturally, because men don’t confide in each other the way women do. So, their bodies hide as much as they reveal. I thought of Venus and Aphrodite, working, single mothers, odalisques, adulterers, and enigmas. The women in your photographs appear strong and confident, unabashed of their bodies and sexuality. Was this a significant feature of your subjects? How do you think your work subverts traditional ideas of prostitution and femininity? Many of the women had a strong veneer. They would have been insulted if I had approached them with pity. It was a very delicate situation; my instinct was to protect them and they felt similarly protective of me. I often meditated on the thin separation between the two sides of my camera, that sliver of fortune that separated me from the world of these women. They understood as well. Their laughter would turn off once we would begin shooting, “think of all our sad stories” a women once whispered to her girlfriend as they lay on top of each other, sequestered away, their noses nuzzled in each other’s flesh. I realized they have a similar bag of tricks as I do. I bathe my subjects in light the same way they apply eyeliner. I wanted them to appear strong and unabashed even when they weren’t. One woman had literally just kicked heroin and lost her best friend; she was at her most vulnerable, but in a parallel realm she was a warrior returning from battle. I can’t comment on whether my pictures subvert convention. I don’t have that vantage point. Some of the photographs suggest erotic relationships between your subjects. Was this a significant element of your experiences? I don’t want to say too much. From my perspective, it was for some a safe haven. Some of your photographs seem to be quoting older works by post-impressionist artists (eg. Matisse’s La Danse, Marcel Duchamp’s Nude With Black Stocking). Was this deliberate? How do you think depictions of the female nude have evolved over the century? Yes, it was deliberate and I was thinking of post-impressionist works like Matisse’s La Danse (I showed the women a reproduction for the picture around the tub) and Duchamp’s Nude With Black Stocking, but also the earlier 17th century Dutch work of Jan Steen’s, Woman at her Toilet, which is at the Rijksmuseum, and 19th century realist works like Gustave Courbet’s, L’Origine du Monde, and on my last trip, surrealist works like Magritte’s, Dangerous Liaisons. Duchamp may or may not have been contemplating Jan Steen’s painting when he made his, but I feel the female nude is like a love story. The characters change, the plots evolve, but the endings are all similarly tragic. All Images: Malerie Marder, “Untitled from the Anatomy Series” 2008-2013. Copyright Malerie Marder, Courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York.
Where do you see the line between pornography and art? How do you think pornography and the mass media exposure of the female body have impacted the representation of the female nude in art? I never gave this much thought until recently when I did an art event for Playboy and was asked to photograph the “Playmate of the Year.” Strangely it made me realize how big the divide is between art and pornography. Succinctly said, pornography has one message, “fuck me.” Women are often photographed in a style that is rarely deviated from, with an arched back and eye contact with the camera. In art, the message to the viewer is layered, possibly unique, and hopefully mysterious. I can’t think of any art that just communicates that one message. The impact of pornography on art is seen most flagrantly when art explores a desensitizing of culture like violence, where its’ impact is in its’ display of a fetish or stylization, but I feel like this is so purposeful, its’ rendering and representation is fundamentally different than straight out pornography. Anatomy is both intimate and overtly sexual. Do you think this is representative of the nature of prostitution? I truly wouldn’t know. My experience of prostitution is confined to my experiences I had while making the work, which was only as an observer and I’m not aware of all representation that exists. Has the world changed how it sees the naked body in terms of photographic and other visual arts? Has the way you see nudity changed? How so? Maybe it has allowed us to over-explore the body so sadly we become numb to what is elemental and fragile. Perhaps there’s too much knowledge and manifestation; too much visual language to interpret, too many iPhones, digital cameras, and over-sharing. Mirrors feature prominently in Anatomy. Was this a conscious choice? Is there a duality that you think exists within the world of prostitution? Mirrors have always been a prominent feature in my pictures. They’re part of my palette the same way color is. Anatomy has four salient colors – blue, yellow, orange, and red. I edited the book according to color. Each phase I was hoping to illicit a different mood. Mirrors are a bit of the same. They add space, they add reflection and yes – they do represent a duality, possible duplicity. I would imagine that is an integral aspect of a prostitute’s survival. Anatomy features women from a number of different racial backgrounds. Was race and ethnicity an important consideration for your work? The Rotterdam club was a real melting pot, a mini UN. Race and ethnicity were important to me. It created more beauty for certain. I never felt it was a dividing force at the club. I imagine beauty played a more divisive role than race. It allowed for some a tangible exit, but was also a trap to stay. I didn’t press any of the women for their stories, but of course it was concerning, particularly for the younger women in their twenties who were not Dutch. The thought of how they got there was deeply troubling. My camera was a passport into a gray, hidden world; the result of a liberal society where free will is a question mark. There is a very strong narrative quality to your photographs. Are you influenced by film and your experiences living in Los Angeles? Do you construct these narratives or do they occur organically? I’ve always been influenced by film, which may have been the underlying reason I moved to Los Angeles from the east coast. It’s the perfect place for fiction; you can be on welfare and have a palm tree in your backyard. I think the narratives happen best when they are organic. A prostitute I photographed in Amsterdam had three rooms— one was a bondage room, one was a wrestling room, and one was an antique room. Of course, the antique room was most curious to me, so I asked her to dress in her outfit which was straight out of a 17th century Dutch painting; a long, flowing white dress with a high collar. I’ve formed so many narratives about her and her clients.... What advice would you give a young photographer starting out today? Start a fight.
EMERGING A RTISTS
Brett Henrikson, Clockwise from top left: “Bowers”, 2012, “Natalia”, 2011, “Murphy”, 2012.
Brett Henrikson, Top: “Joanna”, 2011, Bottom: “Sydney”, 2012.
K em b ra P f a h ler an uncommon t h read
In 1990 you started the theatrical death-rock band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black in which you are the painted lead singer. Your aesthetic seems to be just as important as the music. Can you explain the significance of your large hair, naked but painted body, and high boots in your performances? The significance of my look is that it represents the anti-naturalism in the band. I wanted to make a look that was solely my own. With nudity and black teeth and shaving the hairline and the heaviness of the wigs and the discomfort of the body paint and the severity of the heels: it’s not something that just anyone can put on. We are like masters of severity. The ritual and time involved with getting into the complete band look brings on something of a drug-induced state, although the band doesn’t do drugs. The state is called “drag fever” and I rarely laugh outisde of this state. I don’t like comedy...intentional comedy. It makes me nauseous. Although the look is so extreme it’s funny to me. I don’t know how other people perceive it. I don’t really care either. What comes to mind when I say the word ‘nude’? and ‘naked’? Naked and nude to me means without clothes. No underwear...no shirt…not a half measure. What comes to mind with those words is a memory I have of the first time I took all my clothes off at the beach on the Pacific Coast Highway in a little house we moved up to from Hermosa beach when I was 12. In Malibu we had a neighbor, Jim Mitchum, Robert Mitchum’s son. He was the first man I remember seeing naked and nude. We used to swim and run around like beasts and it’s a good memory. I am not a nudist though: I am only naked with Karen Black when I feel like it. You are naked but covered in body paint in many of your performances and photos, do you feel more powerful,
more feminine in the nude? Is the body paint a way to keep yourself still somewhat covered up from the outside eye? Yes on all accounts. With your band and your image you seem to be connecting horror and an anti-natural image with femininity and sexuality. Can you speak to that at all? I think I rebel against traditional ideas of femininity and sexuality. So much of contemporary femininity is based on commerce. But women don’t need to spend $5,000 on a pair of shoes to have glamour, esteem, status, or luxury. All of these things lie dormant in your psyche until you have the desire to release them from captivity or subjugation. Sexuality in women gets deformed by outside influences, or the partner saying you can’t do this or that. As far as horror…well, let me see if I can get to that later. In 2011, The Hole, presented “Femlin” a series of photos by yourself and Andrew Strasser which feature you and the girls of Karen Black. Your Karen Black image was originally inspired by the Playboy ‘Femlin’ can you tell us about this image and why you were drawn to it? I’ve loved the Femlin all my life and wanted to grow up to be a black haired lady. As soon as I could figure it out I dyed my hair black. Like Vampira, Morticia Addams, Barbara Steele…this is what I wanted to emulate. It seems that you started with music and performance before moving into photography. How did you become involved in photography? Photography is a more calculated approach and performance art is unbridled. I essentially have a band and I do artwork. In 2012 you collaborated with E.V. Day on Giverny, a series of photographic works which place you in your Karen Black attire in the gardens made famous by painter Claude Monet. What was the inspiration for this project? The inspiration for the Claude Monet piece came because E.V. Day was chosen to be a part of a residency program at Claude Monet’s country house in Giverny, France. It was part of the ‘Versailles Foundation’ and is for only the best artists from around the world. She imagined it would be a good idea to photograph me in my Karen Black look and I concurred. Beth Rudin Deroody is an amazing woman in the art world and organized for me to go. At the time, I didn’t know anything about Impressionism, I didn’t study European art history in school. It was through E.V.’s eyes that I saw this garden: the light, the extreme verdant tones and the singular vision of Monet. The Claude Monet Garden Show later happened at The Hole where we recreated the garden and showed the photos she shot there. The effect was anti-natural. It was the best show I have ever been involved with. I learned so much from E.V. and Kathy Grayson pushed us to go where no gallery would think of going, putting an actual pond and bridge replica in the space, with live plants and fish. It all worked out very well. The work hints at a bizarre, new, and almost uncategorized sexuality. What do you think the series says about sexuality in general? It occurred to me that the idea of behaving in a way that wasn’t subjugated or designed specifically to please men as being something new is kind of sad news. There have been women for centuries that didn’t hold onto traditional Christian beliefs. There should be nothing new and shocking when a woman simply does what she wants, not what she’s supposed to. Maybe it is a shocking breed of underground sexuality that is emerging in a lot of people’s work these days, but it’s nothing new. It’s called feminism. And it’s been wearing a brown dreary shirt for a while: now it’s wearing body paint, 10 wigs, black teeth, sometimes sewing its vagina shut. But it’s feminism nonetheless, future feminism. Photos by Kembra for Musée Magazine by Neon Music; Kembra Pfahler; The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black Featuring Karen Black drummer Michael Wildwood; Makeup by Kembra; Hats by Neon @ TRIVIÁL
I would like to say itâ€™s contagious.
EMERGING A RTISTS
Nicol Vizioli, Left: “Captain David”, Right: “Genevieve I”.
ralph gibson Portrait by Andrea Blanch
AB: Let’s talk about your nudes and why, how, where, what? RG: The subject of the nude seems to be one that gets ever broader and more diversified. I originally took my first photograph of a girlfriend in 1961. I was living with her, and it just seemed to be a natural extension of our lifestyle in the conjugal, domestic sort of thing. However, I soon became fascinated with the subject and only photographed the women I was involved with. But then later, after I settled down with my wife Mary Jane, I photographed her extensively and then I started thinking about the subject in another context; more as metaphor rather than a document of a relationship or a symbol of the woman I love, such as my wife. I realized, because I’m also a musician, that there was a repetitive quality which led to an increase in one’s capabilities. The more you practice scale, the better you play the guitar; the more you photograph the figure, the more fluid you become with the subject. So, for some period I used that idea as a pre-text or a point of departure. It was a way of putting film through the camera on a regular basis – sometimes several times a week. And then I morphed the figure as the central theme of all of my workshops, which I do three or four of somewhere in the world, and I unify my class by
just photographing the figure. Everybody goes home with a new portfolio and this way all levels of photographers can participate in the subject. But recently I’ve come to question the nature of the figure in art. We know the Willendorf Venus from 25,000 years BC is a very early example of our fascinations with what I call the human figure, which is staring into the psychological mirror of the human figure. I know that we will continue to be fascinated by the subject. As long as there are people on planet Earth and as long as there are artists on planet Earth, there will be interpretations of people by artists on planet Earth. The figure is endless. I like going to the Met and looking at the flat Cycladic figures. I have a great Caroma (NOTE: To confirm spelling of Caroma with Gibson) marble. I look at the figure in many permutations and different modes of representation. AB: When I say the word nude, what comes to mind? RG: Immediately, the word nude connotes and then subsequently denotes a series of shapes. All I’m looking for are series of shapes – continuous, usually curvilinear, minimum tonality, reflecting any current idea I might have in music, literature, art, and cinema. I will just simply apply that to a shape in the human figure. AB: And when I say the word naked, what comes to mind? RG: Naked is another kind of word because it implies a vulnerability, which is never really any part of what I do. That moves into another area of photography, which is readily available. AB: That’s very true. Can you tell me about these images? RG: Well, the recent images are from a workshop I did in late December in Sydney, Australia. Again, I’m thinking about an idea, which I’ll explain – if you’re making a painting or a drawing, you’re adding marks to your substrate, your canvas or your paper, until you’ve had enough marks and then you stop adding. If I’m photographing the figure, I will isolate a series of shapes or tones, and I will subtract it from the totality. So when I photograph a figure, it’s essentially a subtractive set of motions. And I seem to be getting ever more subtractive. It’s been something that’s been going on in all of my photography. I recall my earliest urges to subtract, the middle sixties, and it was only until about 1975 when I really started moving in close. AB: Why do you think that is? Because that happens to a lot of photographers. They can maybe start out a way, and then they go on to a whole other thing. It’s their growth, it’s their arc I guess, but a lot of photographers wind up subtracting. RG: In my case, the reason is twofold. I used to love inserts. You know, I grew up in Hollywood, and I used to love those close up inserts that they’d shoot on the set - the hand reaching for the cigarette lighter. In my case I want full and total consciousness of everything in the frame. I want to take full responsibility, full credit, full blame for everything in my pictures. It’s all about what I saw. No happy mistakes. No kickers in the upper right-hand corner with the 28mm lens – “Oh, I didn’t see that guy picking his nose.” Well, I’m not that kind of photographer, but we know who I’m talking about.
Ralph Gibson, “Sydney”.
Ralph Gibson, “Sydney”.
EMERGING A RTISTS
Serrano capturing character
Tell us briefly about your relationship with Catholicism. I was raised as a Catholic and did my Holy Communion when I was eight and my Confirmation at twelve. I stopped going to church shortly after my Confirmation. Even though I don’t consider myself a practicing Catholic, I’m still a Christian. Do you think religious fanaticism mirrors modern materialism? I’m not sure, maybe it’s a rejection of materialism. I don’t think the religiously fanatic are materialists or materialistic. Growing up in New York, what was your impression of the middle of the country? How did that change through your career and how is that reflected in your “America” and “Anarchy” series’? They say there’s America and there’s New York City and, the two are very different. I agree. I’ve been to many places in this country but I couldn’t live anywhere else except New York City. You might say New York City is a microcosm of what America is supposed to be, a melting pot. Being a New Yorker influenced my vision of “America” as an inclusive and accepting society. You’ve photographed everyone, from celebrities to klansmen to cadavers, has there ever been a particularly uncomfortable photoshoot you endured for the sake of the project? I wasn’t crazy about working with shit but once I decided to do a show called “Shit” I had no choice but to grin and bear it. What subject is more uncomfortable for viewers: bodily fluids or race? Neither. The bodily fluid pictures are drop dead gorgeous and if race makes you uncomfortable, well, that has nothing to do with my pictures. Portrait Irina Movmyga
Andres Serrano, Above: “Jeffrey Palmer”, Right: “Jenny Mendez”.
You mentioned in the last interview with Musée that you regret not “pursuing other creative fields like film.” Many photographers have begun using online videos or animated .gifs as an extension of their work. Do you have any interest in dabbling in theses mediums at this point in your career? I don’t know what an animated gifs is. I’d love to make a movie but you need a movie budget for that. I’d love to make a good movie, cheap. That’s the best kind of movie. What can a still photo say that the moving image cannot? When you work with stills, you get one shot. One shot to make your point, one shot to tell your story. You’re working on a book of nude portraits, what types of models did you seek out for this project? All types, all ages, all kinds of people. How was it photographing Taylor Mead nude? Taylor Mead was an extraordinary character, with or without his clothes on. I remember him asking for a drink when we were shooting so Irina, my wife, gave him a glass of water. Taylor took one sip and then spits it out. “What are you trying to do, poison me?” Taylor needed a real drink so she gave him some vodka. “That’s better,” he said. At some point, Tay-
lor said to me, “Do you want to take a picture of my ass? Andy (Warhol) made a movie of my ass and called it, “Taylor Meade’s Ass.” So I said to him, “Sure, Taylor, turn around.” When I got the pictures back I realized this could not be a single portrait. It had to be a triptych. I see the portrait as that of a great actor making his entrance and exit off the stage. Do you prefer photographing naked men or women? Do any elements of the body appeal to you more than others? When it comes to photographing naked people I don’t have a preference. When it comes to looking at pictures of naked women, I like faces, legs, ass and breasts. Does nakedness have to be sexual? Not at all, it can be aesthetic. There’s a difference between naked pictures you see in a museum and naked pictures you see in porn. You don’t usually want to masturbate to the things you see in a museum. On the topic of sexuality, your work approaches sexual themes ( ie: “Daddy’s little girl,” featured in Issue 2 of Musée, or “History of Sex”) neutrally, rather than explicitly eroticizing subjects. Why do you chose to take this critical distance? Because it’s art, not pornography. In the second issue of Musée you referred to a new body of work with a lighter subject matter. Can you tell us about this? It’s called “Cuba” and I’ll show it at Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris in November.
Andres Serrano, “Taylor Mead”
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FLOR AMAPOL A
Flor Amapola, “Naked Ride Bike, Portland” 2012
LINDER Bod y b ricolage
Linder Sterling is a U.K. based multi-medium artist working primarily with collage and photography. Her collages meld the female body with photos of consumer goods, commenting on sexuality and consumerism. Linder has been active since the mid 70s, when she designed the cover of the Buzzcock’s Orgasm Addict. Since then she has been a key figure in the punk and D.I.Y art scenes. A staunch feminist and rocker, Linder has never hid from controversy. Years before Lady Gaga’s meat Dress, Linder debuted her own meat garment at a show with her band, Ludus. However Linder’s version featured a black dildo accessorizing the slabs of uncooked meat. Her close friend Morrissey said of the garment “she did it as a protest at men seeing female flesh as meat.” 1 This protest against the patriarchy and objectification of women remains consistent through her career. Many of Linder’s collages pair a sexualized female body with images of food, implying that the female body is turned into another product for consumption. Food is not the only object Linder pastes onto the female figure. Raunchy pornographic images paired with animals, makeup, and cooking utensils comment on expectations of femininity as well as the plague of predatory sexuality embedded in contemporary masculinity. Horses, snakes, and birds recall primality and temptation while makeup, film projectors and egg beaters allude to societal expectations of femininity. Together these opposing forces create tension Illustration by Bethany Mellor (based on a Linder self portrait photograph)
Linder, “The Principal of Totality”, Collage, 2011.
Linder “Facilitating the Client becoming Unpredictable”, Colage, 2011.
Linder, “Psychophysical Isomorphism”, Collage, 2011.
“Today there’s an illusion of wider choice. You have to be a successful career woman, as well as bake cupcakes and be a mother. The pressures are crazy,” Linder declared in an interview with W magazine.
in the female psyche, which Linder conveys with the grotesque intrusion of separate images onto vulnerable female forms. “Today there’s an illusion of wider choice. You have to be a successful career woman, as well as bake cupcakes and be a mother. The pressures are crazy,” 2 Linder declared in an interview with W magazine. Disrupting the expectation of women maintaining the balance between the Madonna and Whore, Beauty and Intelligence, is key to the meaning of Linder’s work. Linder’s collages force the viewer to question how the nude, or sexualized female body is shown, and how the domination of sexist media representations affects the status of women as a whole. Linder also comments on how women are not only shown as products, but are treated as consumers. Oversexualized repersentations of women are used to sell other women products which promise superficial satisfaction. Being objectified while simultaneously being reduced to a consumer robs women of their individuality, which Linder frequently calls attention to. Not content to stay within the boundaries of one medium, throughout the course of her career Linder branched out beyond collage work. She now dabbles in photography, installation, and video art. Her collaboration with Tim Walker entitled “Forgetful Green,” available on Youtube, recalls the aesthetic and concept of Linder’s collages. She is also a performance artist, engaging in bawdy, strange performances which, like the meat dress, are emulated by pop icons and fellow artists alike. In one performance, Linder sensually rubs shaving cream all over her legs, armpits and arms, while wearing a plastic doll mask and curly blonde wig. She then saunters across the stage, blowing kisses to the audience with disposable razors, emulating a beauty queen while satirizing a male inforced convention of femininity. Despite her harsh critique of the patriarchy dominated media, Linder does not scorn femininity or the pursuit of beauty, she instead dissects in order to understand it, and to subsequently further our understanding of it in a way which we can reclaim glamour and self beautification as a way to express individuality, rather than buy into the existing patriarchal structures.
Linder, Top and Bottom, “Untitled”, Collage, 2009
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GENEVIEVE BL AIS
SHEN WEI self exposed
You have a varied artistic background. When did you first get started with photography, and how did it become your primary medium? I started photography when I first moved to the US in 2000. I took a few photo classes in college then fell in love with the medium. I majored in photography in both of my undergraduate and graduate studies. What differences are there in the creative cultures, and in producing and exhibiting your work, between China and the U.S.? I think it is not that much different now besides the language. I am making work and exhibiting work in both China and the US these days. The process is pretty similar. Certainly China has a much newer art world compared to the US, which makes it more unpredictable. Portrait by Andrea Blanch
Shen Wei, “Wait”, 2010
Is this something you see reflected in the work you did for Almost Naked and Chinese Sentiment? I have been receiving different responses to my work from the Chinese audiences and the American audiences. Even though the cultural difference is obvious, many of these different opinions are based on the surface of the work, issues often related to the unfamiliar locations, the state of nudity and the exoticism in general. How do you feel that race or perceived cultural differences have impacted the perception of your work in the United States? Personally I don’t think it matters. What are you trying to articulate through the figure of the nude in your work, especially your self-portraits? Body is an important subject in my work, but it is definitely not the most crucial. In my work, the nude body primarily serves as a bridge to seeing through the depth of emotions. How do you feel about opening your body up to the gaze of the viewer? I was shy in the beginning, slowly I became more used to it. I realized no one should feel uncomfortable about his/her own body; it is natural and organic, and beautiful in every way. How do you find your models, and how would you describe the dynamic between photographer and subject? Most of my models were strangers to me. I approached them from different sources, friends, the Internet and sometimes on the street. I prefer to photograph my models in various environments with an intimate atmosphere. Building trust with them is a complicated psychological process. It depends upon the personality of the model and the chemistry between the model and me. One of the most beautiful moments of portrait making is when the model and I are both exploring each other. The emotional response always comes out very naturally and instinctively during that kind of exploration. Is there a place where you feel the naked human body becomes surprising or surreal? Maybe on another planet? What, to you, is the difference between nudity and nakedness? If there is a difference, which do you see present in your work? This is an issue I don’t think overly about. Perhaps it is meaningless to try to define nudity and nakedness. It can be very subjective. Even the vegetable flesh in Table Setting seems nude. Are all your subjects nude to you, to some degree? It depends on my mood. The dichotomy between isolation and intimacy seems to be a recurring theme in your work. What do you see as the relationship there? I think isolation and intimacy are always naturally associated with each other. Intimacy is something I am very interested in exploring, but what isolation is depends on each individual’s point of view. In some of my self-portraits, I am often situated in an isolated environment but emotionally I feel very free and open. What purpose do the spaces created in your images serve to you? Space. Do you feel that your video work serves a similar or disparate function to your photography? Certainly my video work and photography work have similarities but also differences. Although I have been a main subject of both, the video work is more experimental and conceptual. How long do you work on an individual project? How much of a plan or vision do you have when you start taking
pictures? When do you know you are done? I don’t plan on the length of a project. When I feel I am done, I am done. All my photo projects took at least 3 years to complete. In what direction do you see your work evolving, and what are you presently working on? I am currently working on a drawing project. I would like to do more non-photographic work in the future. Do you pay much attention to critics? If so, what is the strangest observation you have received? I am not obsessed with it, but I think it is healthy to know what’s happening in the art world. Nothing strange yet. Have you had any experiences with censorship? My work has been mildly censored several times by publications in China, mostly cropping off certain body parts. I was also banned for a short period of time on Facebook because I posted some of my nude self-portraits. Where do you find inspiration, and whom would you consider your major creative influences (both photographers and non-photographers)? The work of Diane Arbus inspired me to become a photographer. I also found inspirations in everyday life. Museum visits and concerts always give me sparks of idea. Your biography suggests quite a journey. What words do you have for aspiring photographers, particularly those creative spirits who find themselves at odds with their surroundings? Be patient.
Shen Wei, “Mid Autumn”, 2011
Shen Wei, “Pool”, 2010
Top: Shen Wei, “Bangkok”, 2012, Bottom: “Fall”, 2011
Top: Shen Wei, “Bent”, 2009, Bottom: “Toes”, 2011
Shen Wei, “Hunt”, 2011
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SHANA ROS SITER
SHINING BEYOND FASHION Now tell me, what would be your advice to someone starting out? To get noticed, to get into the business. And to develop their work and eye. Ok, there is practical good advice, which I am probably less good at, because there are so many different ways now. Now, back when we did it, you had to take a group of pictures, get a portfolio, take it to magazines, hope and pray, wear mismatched socks, do whatever you could. It’s funny, I’ll still call a photo-editor at a magazine to check in on something, but who talks on the phone anymore? But every now and then I’ll have to pick up the phone, and I’ll call a photo-editor about something, and it’ll say “Book Drop off Day”, and I’ll go “What? They still have that shit? Book drop off day?”. So, practical advice? Be in New York City, or in a place where you can have access to meeting people. I met a young photographer, and an editor I worked with called, and asked if I could meet with this friend of a friend, this young photographer. And in fact, his work was incredible, and he was already published in magazines. I thought that he was doing just what he should be doing: meeting people, and just being open and out there. So how many photographers did you work for? Avedon, and Bruce (Weber) a couple of times I’m almost identical like that. I worked for Bill (King) and Bruce and with Michelle Compte , who is a really dear friend now, and Eric Boman. I know, it’s like we were lucky like that Bill was genius on the business side of it. He taught me so much about the business side of it, and also where he wanted to impart his creative knowledge, which was very sweet, because you know Bill could be difficult, and that sweet side of him he didn’t show often. But I learned so much of the business side from Bill, that and his death left me so out of whack, Portrait by Andrea Blanch
that I really credit Bruce, he brought me back by showing me, how taking pictures could be a thing of joy, and not just a job, and I do think Bruce approaches it like that. It’s so personal and it does have to feed that creative side of him. Bill’s was just different, he was very good at something and wanted to make money, he was a genius at what he did. And it’s so sad that his legacy is lost. Bruce and Bill’s styles were very different. What a balance, they were very Yin and Yang. When you were working with Bill, did he influence your photos? Because I can see Bruce in your work, but I didn’t see Bill in your work. Interesting! I feel more Bill in some of my work. When I was taking pictures and working for Bill, I was too young, and I was probably influenced by your pictures, because Bill’s style was white background, and I didn’t have access to that, it was such a specific thing. Do you feel that Parsons really helped you in your photography, or do you think you gained more being an assistant? Ok, really good question. Three people at Parsons really changed my life: Marcia Lippman, Lillian Bassman, and Art Kane. Those three people who were three of my professors, changed my life. Had I not been at Parsons, that wouldn’t have happened. Another great thing about Parsons was being together with like minded young people, and having New York City as our campus. We could avail ourselves of and were exposed to so much, and it gave me a creative vocabulary, and we were set free and encouraged to enrich and liberate our minds… Lillian and Marcia really pushed us. Lillian was a tough teacher. She would walk in and say “What’s this shit? This is what you’re showing me? You’re in art school, you’re young… what is this? The theme was ‘bag people,’ and you come in and show me a picture of a homeless person? I don’t understand!” And we would sit there and say “What the fuck is she talking about?” One of the things I wanted to ask you about your relationships with agents So key! And of course what makes it work is if they get you work. What else helps, in your opinion? It’s funny, that “getting work” thing. I think too many photographers think it’s an agent’s job to get them work. And I know that sounds crazy, but don’t you find that agent’s want to get to know us? It’s a very funny alchemy. They definitely don’t want to discuss business. Exactly! But as far as getting work, I feel it’s our responsibility to put our work out there, which is much easier today with social media accounts, and then when someone shows interest, that’s when the agent takes over. I feel it’s really important, and I take responsibility for that, I feel that if I want to be working more, than I should be doing more. Now, do you put your own books together? I can’t stand books. I have never liked them. Very uninvolved with them, I think the new book is your website. Even clients will say that the traditional book is disappearing. Talk a bit about how the business has changed and how that has affected creativity. Well, I think with film that we had more time to digest it all. There was room for error that was terrifying, but that could also lead to creative growth. And for me travelling so much, as soon as digital became an option, I embraced that quickly. After 9-11, it was virtually impossible to travel with gear and film; you’d have to ask “hand check, please.” It was crazy, it was so much work. It could get ruined at the lab, it was endless. And I talked to Bruce about this recently, because he couldn’t believe that I had abandoned film, I mean that sounds dramatic, but he was curious about why I only shot Opposite and Following Spread: Stewart Shining, “Eian”, 2013. Eian Scully (Soul Artist Management)
digital. And I said Bruce, I’ll tell you the bottom line is that it’s just more fun for me. Part of the film process was that it was so labor intensive and could become so anxiety provoking, that digital simply made it more fun for me. They really are different, but they’re not better, they’re different. With your motion versus still, what do you hope to achieve with motion that you haven’t achieved with still? And do you find it necessary today to have to do that? I find it helpful today to be comfortable doing motion. I think of motion as an expanded moment. Oddly, the first thing that piqued my interest were still pictures that I had done of Drew Barrymore, and it was a weird moment when I was shooting with my smaller camera, and Drew kind of went bananas. I had this group of pictures that I loved, so I give them to Vince Gagliostro. Vincent was doing film, so I sent the photos from the Drew shoot to Vincent, and asked him if he could make a .gif, because I loved the pictures but couldn’t pick ‘the one’. And he did that little piece that’s on my site of Drew Barrymore (http://stewartshining.com/videos/drew-cut_1/), and that just struck me blind. And that was the bridge, that was the moment when I saw still pictures feel like moving pictures. And it grabbed my interest, because that thirty seconds of moving imagery of Drew was more powerful than the one still I could have picked. So bang, it was game on. If you had your choice, would you prefer to shoot an actor or a model? I’m so lucky to get to do both, because they are such different things. When I was starting out, Bruce suggested that I shoot young actors and actresses, because they are interesting and challenging and sometimes they aren’t traditionally good looking, so you have to find the thing about them that is interesting, which is great advice for anyone. But then with models, when I worked with Sciascia Gambaccini, one of the best fashion editors around…I really grew up shooting a lot of lifestyle shoots… that kind of picture was what people wanted from me, and with Sciascia I’m getting to dig into fashion and really play with hair and makeup, and it’s so much fun. It’s like dress up. In Portofino we were shooting Bulgari jewels, and we were at this crazy villa, and had amazing hair and makeup and amazing clothes, and one of her editors, Selene, who works with her, was actually doing a shoot, and literally at one point I just stopped, I was in the middle of taking a picture, and I just stopped and I said “I just can’t even take the picture, you’re so beautiful,” because it was so overwhelming, what we get to see….. Do you prefer shooting male nudes or female nudes? I think the female form is much more beautiful. I was doing something for Made in Brazil, which had featured only men, and I was saying to Juliano Corbetta, the editor, that that was so limiting, and weren’t they going to do women at some point? I was saying, these men are great, and I love shooting them, and they are beautiful, but you are kind of missing a big chunk of beauty here. And he said he knew, but he was just trying to think of what was special, and I said that I knew someone who was special, that we should do something with Alessandra Ambrosio. She’s like a kid sister to me, I’ve worked with her since she was 17. So I said let’s do it, it’s time, and we’ll have one girl in the issue, and it will be one of Brazil’s most famous female models, and we’ll shoot her with some cute boys. So, out walked Alessandra, in all her curves and glory and beauty, and she plunked down, and I knew right where to go, I shot in shorthand. I wanted to shoot her for, I wanted to shoot her a natural beautiful Brazilian girl, like the girl I met when she was a little kid. And then it was time to take pictures of the boys, and I swear to god, I thought “what am I supposed do with this?” It was like shooting a flat board. I love your Vanity Fair cover of Hugh Jackman by the way, where was that? Thank you. It was in Australia. Here’s a funny story about that: That’s an older shoot, from the year Obama was elected, specifically the week he was elected, because People Magazine asked me if I would be interested in shooting Hugh Jackman for the “Sexiest Man Alive” Issue, and I said “Yeah, absolutely”, and they said “here’s the hitch: you have to shoot it in Sydney,” and I was like “Oh my god”, so we flew to Sydney, scouted the day we arrived, and met him the next day. Stewart Shining, Opposite: “Eian”, 2013, Following Spread: “AJ”, 2013. AJ Karlovich (Ford Men NYC)
He gave us all day. He was incredible, he was one of those celebrities about whom I have only heard good things. He ended up being very sweet and hardworking. He gave us the whole day.There are those actors who are like completely there, who get it, and those that don’t, and he is a joy to photograph. Without mentioning names, what is the worst experience you’ve had shooting an actor or actress? I’m so optimistic, that that’s a tough question… the worst… The most difficult. Maybe you haven’t had any? Oh no, there are always degrees of difficulty. Usually their PR is the problem Yes, that’s usually the problem. I’d have to look back at pictures to remember. I can remember favorites, like Natalie Portman. Right now I’m obsessed with Jennifer Lopez. [Also] Robert Pattinson, oh my god he’s incredible to shoot. Incredible... those pictures have legs. What model do you think looks more beautiful in your pictures than in person? I would say all of them! A good answer! Yeah most of them, that’s what I do, and that’s what I love doing. Here’s one of the first things that I loved about photography: showing people how beautiful they are, and I don’t even mean that in a physical sense. But I love it when people look at a picture I’ve taken of them and go “Wow, I look really great.” I think that’s amazing , it’s one of the kicks I get out of photography. Now I want to ask you what do you attribute your success to. Because you’ve had a lot of success, and that’s not normally the case. Hard work. And I’m so Midwestern, so honesty, and caring. Look, if you’re just off to take pictures for your own self, that’s your own journey, but if you doing it for a business, you’ve got to think about who you are working with and for. I’ve always paid particular attention to those I’m working for and with. I think I’m kind to my crew, and I think I’m respectful of my assistants because I was an assistant for five years, so I just try to be decent. And again, it’s like paying forward what I got from Bruce. And I’ve watched people go down from padding bills, so honesty comes into it as well. All that craziness that went on in the ‘80s… I never played that game. If you make a mistake, fess up to it. It’s that simple kind of mid-western ethic. And you know, Bill always said that about the business side of photography, he said “You know what, there are a lot of photographers in this city,” and he said that in the years when there weren’t so many photographers, “who can take as good or better photos than I do, the reason I’m successful is because I pay attention to the business side of it, I pay attention to the client.”And I think a lot of people go down not doing those simple things. Let’s say you have a young person who wants to be an assistant for Stewart Shining, what would you recommend that person do? Be precise. It’s an automatic out if something is misspelled, like my name for example. Be willing and happy to help with whatever. And the really good ones send thank you notes after they’ve come in for an interview. I’m old school that way, we grew up with Conde Nast bouquets of flowers, thank you notes. And I couldn’t get over it when a couple of young people we interviewed for studio manager sent thank you notes, I was like “Wow, they are staying in the to-call file.” And for a photography assistant, I ask “Do you want to be a photographer, do you REALLY want to be a photographer?” And if I were taking it to that extra level, I would ask why they wanted to be a photographer, because if you want to be a photographer to become rich and famous, then I wouldn’t be so interested. If it’s something you’ve always loved, or something that’s a part of your story, then I’d be interested. The motivation counts. Stewart Shining, Opposite: “MC”, 2013, Following Spread: “JR”, 2013.
EMERGING A RTISTS
Paris Carter, “Nape”.
Paris Carter, “Limbs”.
Nicolay Bakharev, “Relationship#20”, 1984-1986
Self portrait by Nicolay Bakharev
BAKHAREV Siberian Coercion
Nikolay Bakharev is a Siberain photographer whose work has captured the mundane beauty and inner life of his everyday Russian subjects for over thirty years. A new exhibition at the Julie Saul gallery allows us to take a close look into the work of this rarely exhibited yet fascinating photographer. A self-taught photographer, Bakharev was born in the town of Mikhailovka in 1946 before being placed in an orphanage at the age of four where he remained until he was sixteen. Bakharev started taking photographs in the repressive environment of the USSR in the 70s and 80s when the very idea of nude photography was deeply against the State’s moral code. He began photographing portraits for the Communal Services Factory of Novokuznetsk. In the late 70s, Bakharev started photographing everyday people he met on Russian beaches, offering to take their portrait. He says that beaches were “the only place where people were allowed to bare their bodies without provoking a negative reaction from the Soviet society at the time. Our morals forbade us to be nude in front of strangers.”1 Yet Bakharev rebelled against these strict Soviet moralistic codes. The beach photographs inspired Bakharev to search for a deeper level of intimacy, and he therefore began convincing his subjects to allow him to photograph them naked in their own homes. In this setting, Bakharev says the person “forgets about the public morals, and a more confidential attitude appears which forces the client to communicate more frankly.”2 Bakharev searches for a very particular conception of beauty. He takes advantage of this intimate dialogue to subtly manipulate his subjects, rendering them stark, fragile and brutally banal. The results often vary greatly from the idealized beauty the subject envisioned for a portrait, yet it is precisely this contrast between the image we have of ourselves and the raw physical reality that Bakhareve is most skillful at revealing. He explains “from my point of view, I expose the nature which people do not want to admit to, if it does not fit their notions of themselves.”3 Bakharev creates an intimate dialogue with his subjects over several hours of work. The resulting images are provocative and visually striking. They provide a historical account of a little-documented era in history: the USSR in the 70s and 80s. In this period, he captures a desire for freedom in the individuals who are subjected to the moral and social constraints of the time. In his current work, he constructs photographs with a profound narrative and a keyhole view into contemporary Russian life. Many of his photographs are taken in the subject’s home, providing a documentary insight into life that is awkward and arresting, banal and beautiful. His oeuvre ranges from family portraits to erotically charged tableaus. Yet throughout all his work, Bakharev achieves a depiction of human life that is fragile, uncomfortable, poetic and profoundly illuminating. 1
Interview with Luca Desienna (2006) Gomma Magazine trans. Olga Ipolitova; 2 Ibid.; 3 Lane Navares (2013) ‘Nikolay Bakharev’ Art Photo Collector
Nicolay Bakharev, “Together #35”, 1991.
Nicolay Bakharev, “Interior Portrait #23”, 1989.
Nicolay Bakharev, “Relationship #20”, 1984-1986.
Nicolay Bakharev, “Together #13”, 1989.
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RENEE JACOB S
Renee Jacobs, “Aubrey in Montmartre”, 2012
KOST When did you start thinking of yourself as an artist? And what work corresponded with that?
2006. I had a day job, I resigned from that day job to sort of focus on the social photography that I was doing as a way
of sort of paying the bills and making money and whatever. It was impossible to sort of be at Bungalow 8 until four in the morning and be up at eight o clock. It was just not feasible any more. Then I saw that life sort of being able to take hold so I made that conscious decision to sort of shift gears. But it was when I was in Thailand in 2007, my first show was at the Soho Grand in 2007, it did really well and incidentally one of the curators from ICP saw that show and put me in the Triennial three years later. So it goes back to the idea of you never know who sees what when, where things will lead. But I was in Thailand and was photographing ladyboys, and I had this preconceived notion of how they would relate to my work with nightlife characters in New York, and realized that I was completely wrong, and at that point I realized that my work could say something more than what it was on the surface level, and surely thereafter I really started to take my work seriously as artwork, so to speak. What did you go to school for? Political Science and Organizational Management and Marketing. So I had a triple major from SMU. My art career happened purely by mistake. When did you finally accept yourself [as gay]? After college. When I moved to DC. It happened relatively late in my sort of youth, it was two-thirds of my life to present. What interests you about using the Polaroid camera, and what effects do you think this medium introduces and what are the challenges? I think that people often have a hard time viewing a Polaroid as something of substance. They tend to look at it as some-
Instant Gratification Portrait by Andrea Blanch
thing thatâ€™s disposable, whereas I view it as something that gives you far richer depth and tones and intimacy than other mediums. And in all candor, I didnâ€™t set out to make Polaroids and have that be my medium, it all happened by pure chance. I hit on this guy in Philadelphia in 2001. Him and his boyfriend became my best friends, and they had a camera on the wall of their apartment that I took one night to The Cock in the East Village and started taking pictures. How do you feel about comparisons to Warhol and Hockney because of the collages and the Polaroids? Did they influence your work in any way? Well, I mean its flattering. I didnâ€™t start making pictures because of them, but I became and studied the work to be responsible, art historically, to be responsible to the predecessors and the work that came before me. And I think that, my
last show in New York was this exhibition with the Warhol that Hugo Boss sponsored, where I was able to pair up my work with Andy’s Polaroids from the museum collection, So when I did that I tried to find relationships between my work and Andy’s Polaroids that weren’t necessarily so obvious, both generational, or gestural, sort of looking at that in a different way. And I think when it comes to the Hockney work, it’s important to acknowledge, but I think that they’re very different things in both their form and their construct. I’m assuming, by looking at them, that Hockney was very methodical in his process of making them, and that they were very planned out, there wasn’t a lot of organic sort of development, just simply based on the grid and the tightness of that grid. Whereas mine tend to play more in a sculptural frame of reference and when I’m making them I’m sort of looking at the space very quickly and deciding its going to gesture this way, its going to gesture that way, its going to go here… And what about these silkscreen paintings or work that you’re doing? I’m sure they’ll be compared to Andy’s work. They’re on the website. To present, most of them have been in the negative. They’re all my celebrity images so far, inverted, painted on silver acrylic backgrounds. There were two other groups of paintings that I’ve made too, sort of in different directions, but I think at this point, any artist working today has an inevitable comparison to Andy, there’s nothing he didn’t touch in some way. He was so prolific in that sense that, what could you possibly do that he hasn’t influenced? So I think that comparison is inevitable but at the same time so long as I’m advancing the discourse in my own way, that’s what is important to me. Some of your work focuses on queer or trans identities, however this series features male nudes with traditionally masculine objects such as cars and motorcycles, what is your view on gender and masculinity? When it comes to the work with men, it’s really about that individual. It’s not about gender so much, as it is with the trans or drag work. With the men it’s more about this sort of dialogue between the subject and I. And what we’re doing for the next work, these multi-layered double exposures within a single polaroid frame, is sort of collapsing all of those things into one image. Only twenty-four of them are public at this point. The book is literally going to be all of that, and I’m sort of keeping them under wraps for the moment, but only twenty-four out of a thousand of them have been seen. Male nudes regularly feature in your photographs. What interests you about the male form and what ideas of the
male nude are you trying to represent? My work with drag queens, transsexuals, and males all goes back to my body issues. Having grown up in Texas, two hundred and fifty pounds, closeted, and in denial, the work becomes a metaphorical representation of transformation. The guys represent this sort of unrequited desire that I felt growing up there. They represent this “guy next door” in a sense. Did you ever photograph women? I have once, I’m not sure that I’m there yet, creatively, I may not be at that point in the creative process yet, I don’t really have a relationship to it so to speak. I’m not opposed to it, but it depends, I’m working on some ideas but I’ve to get myself through the next few projects first. But they’re starting to bubble a bit.
Opposite: Jeremy Kost, “Cody at Tom’s House (Silverlake)”, 2013 (DETAIL FROM)
Despite an often-raw masculinity, your subjects have a certain vulnerability, is this an important side of your work? I think so. I think the vulnerability and the intimacy is super important, and I think its what separates my work from being fashion or being sort of like everything else. For me generally before I shoot anyone, part of the process it to spend at least an hour with that person talking about the work, talking about what it means, looking at it together so they really have a sense of expectation, so there’s no miscommunication going into it. I mean shooting Polaroid there really isn’t that much room for error, but I think that communication is really important and it’s what helps drive the results I think. Your work can be seen as homoerotic. In what way does your oeuvre engage with gay culture and imagery? Although it may be perceived that way I really don’t think about it as homoerotic or sort of engaging with gay culture at all. It’s really about the intimacy and this sort of abstraction and filtering of beauty and vulnerability. I’d really prefer it not to be thought of as gay art, to be honest, I have no problem with that but I’d prefer not to be sort of put in that box, so to speak. I think it’s dealing with bigger issues, I think that’s a big part of why I drew a really fine line for a long time and my drag queen book had to come out first, so that I wasn’t automatically put in this box of the gay boy photographer, because the work is about a lot more than that, and I think in a weird way it mirrors how I think about myself. I’m quite comfortable with who I am, but I really would prefer not to think about myself as a gay man first, but rather just a man, and being gay is a subset of who I am, it doesn’t dominate my life, and my art and my work speak to multiple levels....I think there’s a large question of façade, there’s a large question of transformation, of identity, and the way that we present ourselves to the world, whether it’s a drag queen doing it for a night, or for a transsexual doing it permanently, or a man who’s comfortable being completely exposed on a beach in Santa Barbara, I think that sort of arc, all ties together, but can be taken individually and have nothing to do with being gay in my opinion. Have you encountered issues with censorship or negativity surrounding your work? Mildly. When Hugo Boss sponsored the last exhibition their one request was that there was no frontally nude images, which was fine by me, I wasn’t quite there yet, and that really is it, like I said, I’d been really reserving all that more exposed work until the book comes out, so that things are in the more appropriate sophisticated context. Many of your photographs are taken outdoors. What are the benefits and challenges of working with natural light?
Above and Right: Jeremy Kost, “Cody at Tom’s House (Start Your Engine)”, 2013
Well I think Polaroid, especially now that the chemicals are degrading before it’s shot, needs natural light. With a flash it’s just not functional, so it’s super important, and I think too, there’s a richness to being able to use that light that I can’t do with other light sources, and frankly I don’t know anything about light, to be perfectly candid. I think working outside goes back to this vulnerability and this intimacy and also freedom that is super important in my work. You have been known for capturing the urban club scene in New York, yet often your nudes are in idyllic, natural or suburban settings. What links these two elements of your work together? It goes back to what we talked about, this idea of façade and presentation and sort of identity. The work in nightlife was my initial sort of step. That was when I purely picked up the camera and started shooting pictures. And I haven’t made work in a public context in quite some time, the new paintings that I’ve been making have been repurposing those archives, but I really haven’t been shooting anything new. I feel like I’ve sort of grown out of it. What about the nightlife? Do you still go out? What’s your favorite place to go? I still do a bit, I’m not as active as I once was, I’m travelling quite a bit more so as a result I’m in multiple places, but I’m still far from innocent. I’m hosting a party tonight with Susan Marsh at the Standard, the whole top of the Standard, which is pretty great, and I still think the Boom Boom Room in the Standard is the chicest part of the city. Talk about your book a little more, when is it coming out and where do you see this new body of work going? Its been this crazy thing where, well the tentative title is “Oh You Pretty Things” after the David Bowie song, it sort of creates this distance between the subject but also this sort of clarification of the subject. It’s a body of work that I’ve only been making for like eighteen months, so its simultaneously exciting and scary, in large part because no one’s seen it, it’s sort of a leap of faith in a sense. But I think that it’s going to help re-contextualize the work with men in a more sophisticated plane than simple potentially being put in this box of boy pictures. They’ve become more cinematic, even when they’re their most provocative they tend to be softened. And I’m still learning the process, I’m still learning how to layer these things and sort of like what’s going to drive them and how to push them to new places. It’s quite fresh for me at the same time of being a bit constrained by time frames, because we’re looking at the spring release. I have to finish shooting by October, so we can design and then ship it.
EMERGING A RTISTS
Marcin Owczarek, “The Lovers”.
Marcin Owczarek, “Eleusis”.
EMERGING A RTISTS
BJ Formento, “Fanny Fournier”
PHILIP LORCA di
up close, NOT PERSONAL “There are no stories in pictures, stories are made of words. But pictures make us believe that there is meaning in them, and encourage us to make up stories. Perhaps good pictures encourage us to make up better stories than boring, weak, flabby, conventional pictures,” states John Sarkowsky. Philip-Lorca di Corcia’s images are certainly inspirational in that they don’t carry a pre-conceived truth or story. The strength of his work lies in the greatness of the visual identity of his imagery, which is neither solely conceptual, nor purely narrative. Lorca di Corcia’s photography is closely connected to the real, and therefore to its visual quality. The form is not a secPhilip-Lorca diCorcia, “Amber”, 2004. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London.
ondary or incidental element that vehicles a purely conceptual use of the medium. His photography deals with what is tangible even when placed in a fictional setting. Putting the everyday under the spotlight of the theatrical stage of photography, Lorca di Corcia elevates its significance and makes those everyday moments iconic. In his practice he gives form and physicality to what would otherwise be lost in the continuous stream of life. These mundane scenes, now isolated and framed, have a life of their own; the emotional and psychological interpretation is offered to the viewer to perceive or make up. Lorca di Corcia sets himself between documentary and fine art photography. Reality and fiction are the elements he plays with in his imagery, creating a visual language that tricks and challenges the viewer. During the 1970s, he used to set up fictional interior tableau vivants starring his friends or family that would suggest the absolute spontaneity of an everyday situation; instead, they were well thought-out staged scenes. Lorca di Corcia later developed the opposite approach, where strangers on the street would be caught off guard and photographed using special lighting hidden in the pavement that would theatrically isolate them from the rest. With Lucky Thirteen, Lorca di Corcia produces very peculiar and intriguing imagery. The series—first shown in 2005—is a collection of large format portraits of pole dancers taken in various locations: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York during 2003 and 2004. The result is absolutely stunning in the way the photographer achieves the creation of sculptural and architectural images that are a celebration of the body, and the human form. The impact on the viewer is powerful. Each portrait is totally independent from the others in the series. There is no sequence, only an absolute and focused study of the single. What might otherwise be considered disturbing is, in these compositions, iconic and timeless. The influence of the great masters, such as Caravaggio, Bernini and Michelangelo, is clear in the way Lorca di Corcia contemplates the body of the dancers set in a dim surrounding. They are suspended in mid-air, captured contorting around the pole, with the light shedding on them from the ceiling, giving obscured formal intensity and heightened drama. Although the viewer is aware of the actual situation, there is no space for compassion or empathy with the dancers. The beauty of the image is what provokes an emotional reaction; the ecstasy of beauty is the trait that best links this work to that of the masters. Sexuality and voyeurism are completely absent in these compositions. What one would expect to see is not there. The subject is stripped down to its essence. The naked body is in full display. Every muscle is perfectly toned and engaged, the skin is beautifully lit and glowing. Lorca di Corcia treats the dancers’ naked bodies as sculptures carved out of marble. Our body-centred culture and society is particularly sensitive to the theme. Sexualized and commercialized bodies pervade our communication and public life, but in front of these portraits one must wonder if they are actually naked bodies. The dancers don’t wear any clothes (except for a bikini in some cases) but the emotional and physical vulnerability of a naked body is missing. The dancers are performing in front of the camera and for the photographer, wearing their nakedness as a costume or their work clothes, which protect them as an emotional and psychological barrier from the outside. Men pay to see them dance but are not allowed to touch or get close to the dancers. They are impenetrable and unapproachable. Nakedness is a more complex concept than we generally consider it to be. It’s a state of mind more closely related to the self than just the physical nudity. This series asks an open question about our identity and our relationship with our bodies, and therefore nudity. Lucky Thirteen is an innovative work that breaks the rules of the usual representation of naked bodies. By offering an alternative point of view, it subtly affects our understanding of nudity. Lorca di Corcia, like just a few other artists, is able to perceive and sharply address poignant issues belonging to our cultural zeitgeist. Philip-Lorca diCorcia, “Juliet Ms. Muse”, 2004. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London.
EMERGING A RTISTS
Jamil Nasir, “Blind Object”, January 2012.
Jamil Nasir, “Unicorn”, January 2013.
VINCE ALETTI Portrait by Andrea Modica
my last chance
So how did you segue from music to photography? It happened because I was at the Village Voice. I don’t think it would have happened quite the same way had I not been there. I started writing for the Voice in the late seventies about music, but little by little, one of the great things about a paper like that, is once you get comfortable there, and they get comfortable with you, you can follow your own interests. So I did book reviews, I had a column about music videos at one point, I had a column that lasted for quite some time about music singles. And all that stuff kind of gave me a chance to broaden the range of things I was interested in. When Fred McDonnel stopped writing regularly for the calendar section about photography, I was able to step in, and just start with very brief reviews of photography exhibitions, almost like what I’m doing right now. So I was still writing primarily about music at that point, but I was really interested in photography and I started figuring out how to talk about it. What advice do you have for young critics? I in many ways learned as I went along, with music and with photography. I am very much a self-taught person and when I wrote about music I just wrote about what I liked. I didn’t have to learn anything really, but I learned history as I went along, and the same thing with photography. I think any young critic has to first of all have a voice, have a way of expressing themselves that’s not jargon, that’s not academic, that is personal and revealing of their own way of looking at things. I am drawn to critics that have a way of expressing themselves that would draw me in no matter what they were writing about. So I like critics that are personal, that are beautiful writers, and I think that’s something that’s often overlooked when people are writing criticism. They just think, “oh I can get my opinion out there but I don’t need to be a graceful writer”, but you do. How has the New York photography scene changed since you first began? Thinking about when I first started writing, it’s expanded. When I first started writing it was the mid eighties, when I first started looking it was ten years before that, and I was going to galleries when I first came to New York in the sixties, at a time when there were like three photo galleries, and almost no other place for photography. And now that’s completely reversed and almost every gallery will show photography whether they consider themselves a photo gallery or not. So the openness to photography has changed radically in that time. Also, a major change in the market, and the amount of people
buying and interested in this material that before had no buyers. So for me it’s those two things, its like, the explosion of photo galleries, but more importantly, the idea that any gallery, and almost every gallery, will show photography, if they’re interested in it, and that there is not that kind of ghettoization of photography. So does the medium still excite you as much as it did before? Yes. Yeah, you know I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it didn’t. I mean there would be no way. I’m not very good at pretending to do something if I’m not completely into it. And it interests me more because it just doesn’t stay the same. There are always new people, and always rediscoveries of people who have been around for a long time. All of that interests me, so yes, very much. Let’s start talking about your collection and how it began. I guess, I think as with most collectors, I collected various things always. And starting with books and magazines and records, and then kind of thinking more seriously about photography. But probably really starting with flea market things,-postcards and all kinds of ephemera. And a lot of what I have now started when I discovered a place called Physique Memorabilia that was right down the street from me here, on 12th street near 3rd avenue, a kind of private store in a person’s loft where he sold collections oh physique material, including magazines and old photos and whatever, all kinds of ephemera. Since it was a kind of discovery for me, of this material, all these very small, like these, small pictures of men with no clothes on that were taken mostly in the fifties and sixties. And I really didn’t know anything about them, but they were kind of fascinating, and very accessible. Meaning they were like fifty cents and a dollar. So it was fun to go in there on a rainy day and spend like two hours looking through boxes and bins and kind of training myself, the way any collector does I think, that the more you look, the more you discover, the more you understand what’s common and what’s not. Are there examples of how your taste changed? Yeah in some ways, I mean all those pictures, those kind of anonymous sports pictures and physique images are things that I probably would have gravitated to at some point, but they weren’t the kind of classic stuff that I would have gravitated towards right away. They represent a kind of broadening of my interest and taste, because as I said, I was kind of drawn to classic stuff and more and more just some kind of funky things, things that probably a lot of other people wouldn’t be buying. So I mean I think that has changed. Has your appreciation of the Nude in photography changed? And what specifically in your opinion makes a good nude photograph in your eyes? If there is such a thing. Well it probably hasn’t changed a lot at all, and I don’t think separately about the nude, so that’s kind of a difficult question for me. I would bring exactly the same criteria in terms of quality, originality, you know, all kinds of things that you’d expect in photography, I don’t have separate criteria for the nude. I want it to be, I mean with all pictures, I want it to be as rigorous and honest as it can be. I don’t like, specifically about the nude, I don’t like pictures that seem a little coy, and I don’t like pictures that are a little too arty, which may be a little difficult to define, but I like a sense of honesty and reality. How do you find your immense range of male figures makes your collection more accessible to heterosexual men?
I’m not sure, because I don’t really think of my collection as gay in any way. When I did that book, “Male” it was really very much on my mind that I didn’t want it to be perceived as a gay book. I’m hoping that it appeals across the board to men and women no matter what their sexual taste. And I would hope that straight men would be interested in it because it’s about them. I don’t make assumptions about the subjects of the pictures that I collect. And I’m very interested in masculinity and the way it’s presented and the way it’s been represented historically. So my collection comes out of that fascination, and my own, trying to figure out what doesn’t this mean, what do we mean by masculinity, how do we represent it, how has that changed, and partly what it means to me, but also how these pictures live in the world. I think everybody has an idea of what the ideal male is, and I’m interested in that. On one level, I’m interested in the kind of stylization of masculinity, but I’m also really interested in just the very ordinary guy. And so both those things are really, for me, what’s important in my collection, and kind of getting a broad range of what it means to be a male, or how he’s been represented in the world. So how do you think it’s changed? [The image of masculinity] Well I think, in a way, it’s changed because of people like Bruce Weber. It’s changed because I think the kinds of pictures of men without their clothes on, are now incredibly common. Whereas when I was growing up, in the fifties and sixties, I remember looking for pictures of men, and what I would find would be pictures in the back of Esquire, of underwear ads, things like that, and you know, muscle magazines, bodybuilder magazines, those things, but it wasn’t like you were seeing a billboard of a guy in his underwear. That was not happening at that point. And now that it has, I think that is really liberating in a lot of ways. And, for me, kind of exciting, that there’s this possibility of bringing that kind of body into the world in a huge kind of public way, and also, normalizing, that kind of exposure, and making it not shocking anymore, not exceptional. So I think that’s been a huge change, just in my lifetime, that we are very used to seeing men, male bodies, displayed in the same way that women were displayed before. It’s part of the way we live and the way we consume images. And as along as the objectification is kind of spread around, then I don’t think it’s a terrible thing. And what do you think about Art History? Male nudes are not done as frequently because they’re thought of as more aggressive than female nudes. I would say the problem is more that a lot of, mostly men, can’t really deal with that, and they’re often the ones who decide about exhibitions and acquisitions and things like that. I think men are uncomfortable with male nudes, not all of them obviously, and I think that’s changed quite a bit, and I don’t think that has to do with whether you’re gay or straight. It’s a self-conscious issue that a lot of guys can’t handle, and I don’t even want to go into why that might be but I think that if you look at classic Greek and Roman or whatever, there are plenty of male nudes, just as many male as female nude statues, and the heroic figure and all of that. And there’s a lot of history there but at a certain point I think people became very uncomfortable with male frontal nudity of any sort, and so it became much more difficult for that to be seen. I’m thinking specifically now about photography, because its never been the same problem when it comes to painting because you’re not being confronted with a real person. With photography there’s no getting around that. With both an appreciation of the nude and fashion photography, in what different ways do you view fashion and
nudes. Like if it’s a fashion piece or if it’s an art piece. Is there a different way that you look at it? I like when there’s a kind of challenging use of the nude in fashion. Especially when Carine Roitfeld was editing French Vogue, I felt that, well it still continues, that there’s kind of this always French and European attitude toward the female nude that you can’t imagine in American magazines. So the bare breasted model is kind of taken for granted, and I think that’s healthy. But is that a nude or is that fashion? I mean it works as both, and I would imagine photographers of the nude might feel that it’s a little compromised by being a little used in a fashion context. Because fashion is doing a job, it is doing a function that I think can be really creative, but ideally it’s working. It needs to do something in terms of showing the garment. The nude has no purpose in that same way, and so it can be a lot freer and a lot more open and go wherever it wants. Now let me ask you, would you prefer to collect works that express a signature style of a photographer, or photographers that break from it? Yes, I would prefer in all cases to take something that was not the famous picture. I mean it’s hard to resist if you were given the choice of something obvious and famous, but I would probably always choose something lesser known. And I would put together a show in that same way. I would not choose the obvious picture because you’ve probably already seen it and I don’t need you to see that again, I need you to see the variation, or at least I need to see the variation. So I’m always more drawn to a picture that I haven’t already seen, by a well-known photographer or not. But I work generally; especially thinking as a curator, always choose the less obvious picture. Do you ever think about what you’re going to do with your collection? Yes, I do. But I can’t really answer that question. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my collection. Because I’ve had very little, you know in spite of publishing a lot of it in a book and showing it at different points, I’ve had no serious interest for museums or on that level. So I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but continue to build. Add to it, in very small and casual ways. I still don’t have a lot of money so it’s not about spending money, but it’s about finding things that I respond to, that seem to…Its usually something that I feel like “I’ve got to have that,” so it is often an impulse. I rarely go back to something, because I guess I have a flea market sensibility in that way, that if I don’t pick it up then I’m not going to go back and get it again. That’s my last chance. I know its not the same thing with galleries but usually, if I don’t get it right away, I’m probably not going to get it. What advice would you give to young collectors? Always to look and look and look as much as possible before you make a decision, but to trust your own instincts. And not to buy something because you think it’s valuable, but because you’re moved by it on some level, and because you want to live with it. Because it’s going to be on your wall and influencing you and you should want to be with it in a certain way. And I think photography is very different from art in that way, only because it’s usually a figure, a person, something you really do have to live with in a different way. But anyway, I do think for young collectors that they need to train their eye for a long time before they jump. I think too often, collectors just trust their advisors, have no taste of their own and, for me, collecting is very much a personal and soulful kind of thing.
EMERGING A RTISTS
Joakim Saul, “Lena and Peter”, 2012.
CANAN DISASSEMBLING SEDUCTION You were born in Istanbul and still reside there. What was your childhood like? When did you become interested in art? Actually, I’ve been into drawing since my childhood. My first memories of drawing are the sketches that I made with a pen on pieces of leftover leather in my father’s shoe atelier. When I was in secondary and high school, because of being skilled at drawing, my teachers made me enter drawing competitions. I also received prizes at that time. Frankly, because the quality of art history and art education was quite low at the time of my childhood, and since my family’s socio-cultural structure did not allow them to be interested in art, I cannot say that I was seriously interested either. Having no one to guide me to enter an academy for arts, I studied business in college. After graduating, I worked in accounting and finance sectors. Meanwhile, I kept opening sketch exhibitions at the school’s canteen. And I was carrying the sourness of not being an artist with me all the time. After working in accounting and finance sectors for a while, I realized that some of the attendees of the art lessons—which I was taking just as a spare time activity—were getting prepared for the Fine Arts University. That led my old desires to awaken and I also took the entrance exam and started studying painting. I can say that I started being fully interested in art when I was 24. Most of your work is political in nature: speaking out against something or voicing an opinion on a current issue. Is art a positive way to bring about political change? Feminist theory states that “the personal is political.” Being a feminist artist, I think that every event and situation in our lives, public or private, is political. In this sense, while my style of art involves a personal expression in one way, in another way it produces a political statement as well. When the art is strong enough, although it does not create a direct change in the political arena, it can make it possible to think, speak, and discuss about politics. Nevertheless, art production is not always innocent and may not include positive values. It can bring change in a bad way as well as in a good way. This is directly related to the artist’s political stance and viewpoint. That’s why I cannot say with ease that “yes, art is a positive way to bring about political change.” Art has both positive and negative aspects, just like the other ways of production. Some of your work is very sexual in nature, like a piece you did in 2000 depicting two people in bed touching themselves, as well as your series of photographs featuring dolls performing sexual acts. Are these pieces a response to the sexual repression in your culture and country? What are you saying about human sexuality? In the former piece you mentioned, I tried to criticize the fact that the marriage foundation creates a tragicomic situation, since it alienates people from their own bodies by forcing two individuals to live together. On the other hand, in the latter piece – the one with the dolls- I began with criticizing the violence, incest, and alienation in the family foundation. I think the matters that I handled in both of these pieces are the matters that can be observed even in the most solitary regions of the World. Those things are experienced in my country as well as in other countries. And unfortunately, those are taboo matters that we never talk about. I think the sexuality of every individual has features that are unique. The real problem begins to arise when you generalize sexuality and create a prototype of it. Detail from: Canon, “Turkish Delight 5”, 2011.
Where do you find your models, particularly those that pose nude for you? I use my own body as a model in almost all my works. My body is the one that I know best; I can control and give orders to it, so I don’t have to persuade others. In the work you mentioned above, titled “untitled,” I used the person to whom I was married at that time. In my early works, I used dolls’ bodies as a body. And in terms of my later productions, when I needed to use bodies other than my own, I preferred to use my drawings. In Kybele, the pregnant woman pictured is you. How do you feel baring yourself in such a naked way? Are you in a way present in all of your art? As I stated before, in Kybele and in my other works, I mostly use my own body. Frankly, my body is an artistic medium for me. In the art works that I produce, I use my body as a material and, as a matter of fact, in a sense I get alienated. Although in my daily life my bodily flaws annoy me from time to time, in my works I am not annoyed by or ashamed of it. Your images must be somewhat controversial in your sphere of the world. Have you dealt with harsh criticisms or backlash? How have you handled it? I have been exposed to both direct criticisms and interventions. The work that I displayed in a public space titled “Finally, You Are In Me” was removed because it was found to be “harmful to the vicinity”. But I experienced the actual censorship in Germany. My self-exhibition—which took place in a small German village in the gallery of a foundation that awarded me with a scholarship—included the photography series that I had produced using dolls was found to be “pornographic”. It was censored with the company of police officers. It was not only about the intervention of the officers, the people living in the vicinity molested me. And this was not a legal intervention. According to the German laws, for a visual to be pornographic, the genitals should be exposed. Yet, as you know, I produced this series of photographs by using dolls. The exhibition was opened again with the help of attorneys, but I should admit that I experienced a very nervous and tiring process. When you think of the word “naked” what comes to mind? What about “nude”? When there is veiling that is beyond the society’s moral and traditional norms, then “nudity” comes to one’s mind. On the seaside where everyone is wearing swimsuits, if somebody wanders around topless, others can perceive her as “naked”. On the other hand, on a nude beach, either everybody is naked or nobody is naked. In a conservative society, in a place where everyone is tightly veiled, if someone exposes her ankle or even her arms, this can be perceived as “nudity.” Or in an area in Africa where people live in nature, the people who cover themselves with a piece of cloth made out of fibers might not be perceived as “naked.” I don’t think that an erotic atmosphere is necessary to perceive nudity as “nude.” The public work “Finally You Are In Me (Nihayet Icimdesin)” which displays the Turkish text in public places, was considered confusing and harmful to many because most people did not know the context, that you, the artist, was pregnant. Do you mean to stir up controversy or provoke people with your work? My initial intention was, of course, to say, “welcome” to my baby that was going to be born. I also like to use this method time to time. There is a significant difference between “provoking” and “being sensational.” I always try to steer clear of being sensational. But in my opinion, to provoke via art is always a right method. When nudity is used in art, does it have to be sexual? Is it erotic by association of the naked body? Of course nudity does not have to be sexual when it is used in art. On the contrary, for years feminist artists have produced critical works with a feminist outlook that have gone against the usage of the female body as an “object of desire.” They have used their own naked bodies when producing those works; despite that, their works did not evoke the sexual or erotic. It can, but with a different viewpoint. Not only the eroticism that is produced with the masculine viewpoint, but also the erotic that is perceived by the feminine viewpoint. The use of body in art cannot be understood through veiling the female body, hiding it, or displaying it fully, I think. It is about changing the viewpoint. In both cases of production that are founded on displaying or not displaying the body, we accept that we are an “object of seduction,” which is a situation that feminist artists are totally against. If we declare, “whatever we put on, we are not the objects
I use my own body as a model in almost all my works. My body is the one that I know best; I can control and give orders to it.
Canan, â€œTurkish Delight 2â€?, 2011
Canan, Top: “Turkish Delight 4”, Bottom: “Turkish Delight 1”, 2011.
of seduction,” a feminist artwork also states its standpoint through this discourse. In this sense, what is important is not the place where I display my work, it is what I say through the place where I display. What is the difference between showing your work in galleries and showing it in public spaces? Is it essential that your work be shown to the public? Is that the only way it can make a political statement? There are a limited number of works that I produced for public spaces. While I am producing, I take a particular idea or an emotional state as a starting point, and I choose a method of production and display that suits that particular idea or state of emotion best. The technique to choose the area of display—whether a gallery or a public space—develops depending on this method. Undoubtedly, the excitement of displaying your works in a public place cannot be compared to the excitement of displaying them in an art gallery. The former is very exciting and it also carries some risks. Viewers go to a gallery with the motivation of seeing artwork, whereas when the viewers run into artwork that is displayed in a public space, it happens unintentionally. You address a mass that is larger and not chosen. I don’t think that displaying your work in a gallery or a public space has anything to do with its political content. How has being a woman shaped your work? It naturally determined its content. Being a woman led me to be a feminist, and being a feminist led me to produce feminist works. You’ve worked with so many mediums - drawing, painting, photography, video, and installation pieces. Is there one that represents your vision the best? In the process of production, first I think about the medium that best reflects the idea that I want to express; afterwards I decide upon the technique. Although using a different medium each time is tiring time after time, I believe that I keep on producing without repetition. To tell the truth, whether photography or painting, both forms of production serve as a preliminary preparation for my video productions. I think video is the form of production that reflects me best. As I have looked at your work spanning from 1997 to the present, the style and medium has changed a great deal. Today you work a lot more with ink and illustration. How have you grown and changed as an artist? I started painting miniatures in 2006. I completed my fine arts education in a foundation that uses Bauhaus model as a base for teaching. From this point of view, I can say that I received a fully Westernized education. With the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, a forced disengagement from the art that had been produced in this territory took place and when Turkey turned its face to the West, it got alienated from its indigenous ways of production. After adopting a way of production that is Western, I realized that I did not know the indigenous art techniques produced in this territory. When I realized that this ignorance serves for the existent political viewpoint, I decided to improve myself both technically and in terms of art history. I started to study in Fine Arts University again in 2006 as a guest student, this time to study miniature. Making this type of decision is a tough one if you are a professional artist, but, while criticizing the recent history of Turkey, I had to use various ways of production in order to bring about my criticism visually. When I started to criticize the existent productions, I discovered my own forms. This discovery continues today. Are you a global artist or a Turkish artist? I don’t think that there is such a distinction. Every artist carries both global and local features inside. You play a lot with gender and sexuality, often warping our perception of what it means to be a woman or a man. What is it to be a woman? I generally produce my works via criticizing societal gender politics. The definitions of “manhood” and “womanhood” are the concepts that are produced in line with the societal gender politics. As Simone de Beauvoir said, I say, “One is not born a woman, but becomes one.” Are there any artists who have represented the naked female form in a way you relate to and respect? The first artist that I can think of is Marina Abramovic.
ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES Araki Nobuyoski Araki, more commonly known as his nickname Araki, was born in 1940 in Tokyo, Japan. Since his first solo show in 1965, Araki has been shocking and wowing his audiences with a plethora of beautiful and diverse images. Never willing to compromise his vision, Araki has continued to defy the censorship laws in his native Japan. Throughout his long and successful career, Araki has gained recognition across the globe, both in the art world and commercially.
Malerie Marder Malerie Marder grew up in Rochester, NY. She received her B.A in History and Art at Bard College, and her M.F.A. from Yale University where she was awarded the Schickle-Collingwood Prize and The John Ferguson Weir Award. Her numerous solo exhibitions include noteworthy institutions from around the globe. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art, amongst others. She is represented by Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York.
Kembra pfahler Kembra Pfahler was born in Hermosa Beach, California in 1961. During the 80s she became a fixture in the East Village music and art scene. In 1990 she founded her band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, which performed at the 2008 Whitney Biennial. She is best known for her boldly sexual glam-punk aesthetic, which normally features her nude body fully coated in vivid colors alongside outrageous wigs and thigh high boots. She began practicing photography after working primarily in live performance. Aside from live performance, she has also made several films, the most famous of which being “Sewing Circle,” where Kembra is shown having her vagina sewn up. Recently, she has exhibited more photography. In 2012 at The Hole she displayed “Giverny,” a Monet inspired photo series featuring her clad in body paint. Aside from The Hole, she has displayed work at Ps1, The Swiss Institute and MoMA. Her work confronts normative sexuality and societal expectations of femininity. .
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andres sErrano Andres Serrano (born August 15, 1950 in New York City) is an American photographer and artist who has become notorious through his photos of corpses and his use of feces and bodily fluids in his work, notably his controversial work “Piss Christ”, a red-tinged photograph of a crucifix submerged in a glass container of what was purported to be the artist’s own urine.
linder Linder Sterling is a visual artist, performance artist and musician from Liverpool, England. Graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University,
Linder’s position is one that embraces an uncompromising and unrelenting feminist approach to the critical revelation of culturally-entrenched notions of gender-specificity and of the pervasive sexual commodification of the female body.
SHEN WEI Born and raised in Shanghai, Shen Wei is a fine art photographer currently based in New York City. He holds an MFA in photography, video, and related media from the School of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, featured in various commercial publications, and is in the holdings of several museums. His photos capture the beauty and grace of movement, specifically of dancers.
STEWART SHINING Stewart Shining is a New York City-based photographer of contemporary actors, musicians, and models. Shining, born in Burlington, Vermont, and who grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota, studied at the Parsons School of Design in the early 1980s. He has worked on ad campaigns for companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria’s Secret. He has also been commissioned by fashion magazines such as Vanity Fair and Vogue.
NICOLAY BAKHAREV Nikolay Bakharev was an orphan who worked as a mechanic until he developed his profession as a self-trained photographer. He grew up in East Russia near Mongolia, and still lives in Siberia. Bakharev’s models are the people among whom he lives and his depictions can be divided into two distinct bodies of work: private and public. His work was featured in the “Ostalgia” exhibition in the summer of 2011 at the New Museum in New York.
JEREMY KOST Jeremy Kost is a tireless chronicler of gender, sexuality, and nightlife. Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, he now lives and works in New York City. Strongly influenced by Warhol, both in his choice of subjects and technique, Kost extends the creative potential of some of Warhol’s favorite tools – the Polaroid camera, silkscreen processes, and more. In Kost’s work, Polaroid images not only serve as the basis of silkscreen paintings but are massed together in elaborate, multilayered photo-collages.. Kost’s recently released his first monograph titled “It’s Always Darkest Before Dawn”, and is set to release his second book, “Oh! U Pretty Things” in the Fall of 2013.
PHILIP LORCA DICORCIA Philip-Lorca diCorcia was Born in 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut, and received his M.F.A. from Yale University in 1979. His practice takes everyday occurrences beyond the realm of banality, infusing what would otherwise appear to be insignificant gestures with psychology and emotion. diCorcia’s works are held in institutions from the Tate to MoMA. He currently lives in New York while teaching at Yale. He is represented by David Zwirner gallery.
VINCE ALETTI Vince Aletti (born 1945) is an American music journalist and photography critic.Vince Aletti was the first person to write about disco. While writing for the Village Voice, he began reviewing photography. Aletti is especially attuned to new developments in the New York City art world and his writing combines a journalistic sensibility and an understated critical grammar. These days, Vince Aletti reviews photography exhibitions for The New Yorker’s “Goings on About Town” section.
CANAN Canan was born Canan Sahin in 1970. She graduated from Marmara University Faculty of Fine Arts painting department in 1998. Since then, her photography has been shown in numerous solo and group shows. Her work explores gender and the art historical tradition of sexual orientalism. She now goes only by the name Canan, as a rejection of oppressive Turkish surname laws, and as an effort to “to become the pure CANAN.”
Special thanks to the Musee Team #6
Special thanks to Sam Shahid â€œI have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.â€? - Oscar Wilde
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Dear Andrea, Thank you for the opportunity to be in Musee, and the fabulous accompanying interview, and MOST of all, the portrait of me I actually like!!!! It’s wonderful! I was so nervous. You know, just like I’d expect, the opportunity to be in Musee motivated me to get right on shooting new nudes and it’s been an experience, as a photographer, beyond my wildest dreams. I shot each guy, by myself. Not one other person around. I learned how to load cards and use Capture One. And most importantly, I had a dialogue with myself during each session, and when I found myself shooting the expected, the norm, the safe pics, I’d say to myself, “push it Shining, think out of the box, try something else or something you’re afraid of. Even switch lenses for fucks sake!” So creatively, it turned into a self-workshop, and it’s been a dream. I’m so used to ‘filling orders” for clients when I’m taking pictures it was amazing to get back to that part of me the kept looking until what I was seeing MOVED me. So, dear Andrea, THANK YOU, for an experience that’s made me grow, allowed me to break thru walls, and stay engaged with a fellow photographer who played such a big part in my BECOMING a photographer. (that would be you) Don’t you love that I remembered your credit reading “Andrea Blanche?!!) We are truly blessed to do what we do. With love, Stewart SHINING
EDITION 7 — ENERGY
SUBMIT YOUR WORK TO MUSÉE NO. 7: ENERGY 1. Submit high resolution images based on the theme: ENERGY. 2. Please do not include watermarks. 3. Use ‘Issue No. 7’ as the email subject. 4. Include name, photo title and contact information that you would like to see published. 5. Deadline for submission is September 1st, 2013 6. To submit, please visit www.museemagazine.com or send your work to submit @ museemagazine.com
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