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JUST YESTERDAY * Our fathers stood lost in the middle of the information highway, blinded by flashy technology and overwhelmed by the speed of the flow, completely oblivious of an imminent future

BUT TODAY We know that the world is changing faster* than our fathers would like to admit. Today we understand that is us who are changing the world. Creativity is our only driving force. And Ideas are our most valuable currency. The deaf and dumb consumer is dead. We are the world’s new emerging figure, the Prosumers: producers and consumers of information.

AND TOMORROW We bring back the world’s true beauty. We break down the imaginary boundaries we have set up for our minds, and we set each other’s imaginations free. Tomorrow we stand witnesses to the strange death of the commercial brand. Tomorrow only Brand Me* shall prevail. We all have something to say. And we will make ourselves heard.

YOU ARE Imaginative happy shiny people. Persistently inspired by your changing worlds. You know that there is always something better around the corner, and instead of waiting for it you go out and get it. You have your heads high up in the clouds, but your feet are always on the ground, whether you are wearing hot-pink sneakers or drop-dead designer heels. You have grown up but never stopped playing. You are the Fairies of the law firms and the Peter Pan’s of the business world. You’re the girls who break hearts, and the boys everyone wants to handcuff to their bed. You are the brides who run away with their bridesmaids, and the grooms who end up marrying their best men. you’re the high school sweethearts who live happily ever after. The real Beautiful* People

DOLLS AFFAIR by Naeema Zarif

WE ARE PLASTIK* AND PLASTIK IS REAL Plastik is a real creative collective of imagery and thought, and whatever the Fu*k we want. And that’s what makes Plastik such a fantastic publication. Well that, and the fact that a plastic tan never fades* Just ask Barbie, that bitch has everything! And if anything, we are always learning that there is always something new under the sun, with every issue we put together. And with every issue that comes out we understand more and more that Plastik is a state of mind. It is the mind in a state of perpetual beauty, void of vanity. It is the tendencies, and glamour of fashion, minus the icons and designer names. It is that lost trail of thoughts between the artist and the artwork, the camera lens and the light, the writer and the muse. But we lied to you when we said that Plastik is a fantastic publication. Clearly it is beyond*






Back in 1962, while a young Valerie Campbell

was in her kitchen heating a can of soup, an eccentric Andy Warhol was busy painting it. But little did they know that they would both later breed icons with the Campbell name.

On May 22nd of 1970, Valerie Campbell gave birth to hot baby Naomi. Very soon after, young Naomi Campbell’s sophisticated fierce features began vigorously changing the face of the fashion industry. She became the first black woman to appear on the cover of British Vogue in 1987, then French Vogue in 1988. Later that same year Naomi Campbell became the face of Ralph Lauren. She paved her way through fashion history, shimmering in the limelight on the runways of the likes of Chanel, Chloé, Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood and Victoria’s Secret. She lent her vibrant image to campaigns for the world’s finest, from Louis Vuitton and Prada to Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana. And more recently in 2008, Naomi Campbell replaced Kate Moss as the new face of Yves Saint Laurent. Naomi Campbell has intricately hand-stitched her worldwide icon status in a proliferating industry of icons. On July 9th of 1962, Andy Warhol gave birth to what seemed at the time pretentious mundane images of Campbell Soup Cans. It was his first one-man gallery exhibition as a fine artist in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles. But it was this very first exhibition that would so bluntly mark the West Coast debut of Pop Art.

Warhol exhibited thirty-two canvases, each measuring 20 inches in height and 16 inches in width, each a painting of a different flavor of the Campbell’s Soup cans. Warhol used a combination of a semi-mechanized process, a highly none conformist style, and an evidently commercial subject to redraw beauty in the eyes of America. Although Warhol’s Campbell soup cans caused much offense at the time, and represented a not so abstract kick to prevalent abstract expressionism, today the Campbell Soup Cans are probably the most iconic highly recognizable images in American art. The Campbell Soup Can is Andy Warhol’s undying American Icon that seems to so effortlessly reign on the top shelf of our mind. Naomi Campbell is the twenty first century Fashion Icon that has vibrantly proven supremacy on the catwalk to our heart. And while today Naomi’s fierce features never seize to arrest us, we can only hope that tomorrow her much fiercer temper will actually seize to get Naomi arrested. She has proven that at times it is not only her beauty that is savage. Naomi Campbell has recently been sentenced to community service on account of her rage over a lost piece of luggage at Heathrow Airport. And in a rather ironic twist of fate, our Fashion Icon will serve two hundred hours in a Soup Kitchen. We like to think that while Andy Warhol’s all-time American Icon simmers on a stove, Naomi will learn from the Campbell Soup Can how to become a more docile Icon. And all is well that ends well. It is icons such as the Campbells that will always transcend both metal and flesh. Icons as such will forever linger like beautiful emotions, so vividly mesmerized in our memories.





LIKE THE MAGIC* OF A SURPRISE PARTY I was not the least bit surprised to watch her grow and become the wonder of a woman that she is. And without her really ever growing up at all. In mine and in many minds I guess she will always be the eternal Lolita. Or as Gainsbourg so eloquently says: La Lolycéenne. I must admit, it does sound a little perverted in English: The Lolita School Girl. But then again, Gainsbourg did always say it with that perverted charming smile of his. He really could not resist her. The mere fact that she inspired him, the french song icon Serge Gainsbourg, puts her in this mythical and bohemian class of women like

Jane Birkin, Bambou and Brigitte Bardot. But she will forever be La Parisienne par excellence. For me at least, no other woman is more French than Vanessa Paradis. She is the divine mold of the French Attitude. I was so proud of her when she became the face of Chanel, the ultimate emblem of chic. And she wore that emblem with such allure and such grace. I can still picture her as Coco, whistling and swaying in that cage, all dressed in black and adorned in feathers. She truly was the object of desire. Such a genuine muse with that aphrodisiac juvenile voice, and such atypical yet enchanted features. Vanessa Paradis radiates with this paradoxical romantic rock aura. And she so effortlessly shines on stage, on the catwalk and on the silver screen. She has mesmerized many eyes through the years, and stolen too many hearts. But I must say, I do approve of her heart’s concluding choice. I could have not imagined her with anyone other than Mr. Depp. I have known little Ms. Paradis for quite long time. She was just fourteen when she sang to me. But her voice still lingers in my car till this very day. Joe Le Taxi





Betty became the inspiration for a comic book series, a film and TV series. Her image adorned everything from glasses to playing cards and American artist Olivia de Berardinis used it to revamp pin up and erotic art. Just how popular Betty still is, may be illustrated by the some 600 million visitors her website received in the past five years. Looking back at Betty’s life and work, one wonders: what made her so special? Ever since the 1950s, there have been thousands and thousands of girls modeling, some more beautiful, others more daring or sexier, yet somehow Betty survived the ages to become nearly as famous as her blond bombshell counterpart Marilyn Monroe. Certainly she herself did not know. “I have no idea why I’m the only model who has had so much fame so long after quitting work,” she told The Times in 2006. Now, with her trademark black hair, her bang and blue eyes, Betty made of course a striking appearance and, with a body to die for, she was a very pretty girl. In fact, Playboy magazine in 1955 featured her as a playmate of the month and judged that her measurements (23 - 36 - 23.5 inches) were nothing less than God-given perfect.

In addition, Betty loved to pose which may be illustrated by her generous, often present, smile. Even at the orphanage, she and her sisters would dress up to imitate their favorite actresses and when living in New York she took acting classes. Also, as a model, Betty dared to go further than others did. She was comfortable with her body and saw no harm in doing nudes. Of course, having fun was not the sole reason for her modeling. “I could make more money in a few hours [of modeling] than I could make in a week as a secretary,” she once said. Her mix of beauty, body and smile made Betty an instant hit. Having started as a model for New York’s mushrooming camera clubs, she soon was on the cover of every magazine in town: sometimes sweet, sometimes daring, mostly in bikini or lingerie, and always sexy. Betty also posed for Irvin Klaw who, with his sister, ran a private mailing system for photos with a fetishist or sadomasochistic content. The Klaws produced photos and short films, in which Betty and other girls dressed up in black high-heeled boots and lingerie to act out scenes of abduction and domination. The Klaw photos are by no means her best, yet they are her most notorious. Again, Betty did not see much wrong in it all and it paid well. To her it was all rather innocent and it must be said that Klaw never showed any nudity

or explicit sexuality. While his images were then the most daring around, it is kids stuff compared to what the SM and fetish scene today has on offer. Betty regularly traveled to Florida to meet other photographers. Herself a former model, Bunny Yeager shot the Jungle Bettie and Beach Betty series, which are among Betty’s most celebrated today. The first included a photo of Betty with a pair of leopards – a novelty for those days. It was Yeager who sent Betty’s photos to Playboy founding father, Hugh Hefner and the latter made a topless Christmas Betty with Santa-hat the 1955 January playmate of the month. That same year, Betty also won such titles as: Miss Pinup Girl of the World and Queen of Curves. Yet, when Betty was at the top of her career the Irvin Klaw images would come to hunt her. Following the death of a young man allegedly after a bondage session, conservative US

with Playboy in 2006, she has always refused to have her picture taken. “I want to be remembered, as I was when I was young and in my golden times, the woman who changed people’s perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form.”

politicians cracked down on Klaw’s “work of the devil.” Although Betty did not need to testify, the humiliating Senate hearings took their toll. Klaw was all but out of business and Betty was reduced to a sleaze. In 1957, Betty left New York for Florida to marry and become a born-again Christian. She never posed again. And that is arguably another major factor why Betty’s magic charm is alive even today: although Betty agreed to do an interview

I saw my first Betty Page poster some 10 years ago on the wall of my best friend’s toilet. Admittedly, that is not the most romantic of places, certainly not with a photo of Motorhead’s Lemmy hanging beside her. My friend happens to be a sucker for all things vintage Americana: from Ford Mustang and rockabilly music to comic books and signature tattoos. That’s how I learnt to what extent Betty is part of American pop culture. The poster is a famous photo taken by Art Amsie. It shows Betty wearing a half-open red blouse showing a white bra underneath. With one hand she holds a scarf on her head and, in the midst of it all, there’s her ravaging smile. At first, I didn’t think much of it. It is hardly her sexiest portrait. Yet the more I saw it, the more it grew on me and today I understand why this seemingly ordinary photo has become one of the most iconic of the some 20,000 Betty Page images around.

The image has a subtle and playful sensuality, as it is at once inviting and prudent. Amsie shows the “out of reach” top model in ordinary clothes in an ordinary setting, thus creating the “girl-next-door.” Betty’s disarming smile strengthens that image, while it gives us the illusion she is not posing. It is with this portrait in mind, one should read the Betty Page website, which states Betty was “nice and naughty, shy and daring, simple and exotic, (and) shone with a freshness never before seen in the modeling industry. Without elaborate props, costumes, or set-dressings, Betty produced some of the most beautiful shots to ever grace the covers of hundreds of magazines.” Playboy’s Hugh Hefner also emphasized Betty’s paradoxical qualities when he defined her appeal as “a combination of wholesome innocence and fetish-oriented poses that is at once retro and very modern.” Olivia de Berardinis, who spent a career painting Betty Page-inspired characters, told the LA Times: “It took me years to understand what I was looking at in the old photographs of her. Now I get it. There was a passion play unfolding in her mind. What some see as a bad-girl image was in fact a certain sensual freedom and play-acting. It was part of the fun of being a woman.”



THE INTELLECTUAL BIMBO* The Arian race at its most eclectic form. If Hitler were to create the perfect white woman, it would be Arielle Dombasle. But like the Walt Disney character of the same name – the Little Mermaid – her curiosity and independent mind find her attracted to challenges and “almost impossible” love scenarios, in her case always falling for the Jewish playboys. She ended up marrying the second one after seven years of playing mistress, a born actress. Dombasle’s father might not have been King of the Oceans; however she did grow up surrounded by social status, diplomatic influence and creative talents. An American raised by her grandparents in Mexico who eventually settled down in Paris is not your everyday biography. This same eccentric life path is reflected in an irresistibly complex personality that finds itself consciously drawn to unusual choices. Her first encounter with the human spectrum of emotional highs and lows happened at the tender age of 8, when her dad had an affair followed by the death of her mother, three years later; Arielle as an adult would always seek pleasure through pain. Due to her passion for emotional experimentations, she gained a profound insight which allowed her to master the countless cinematographic appearances and creative contributions she partook in over the years. She is a hopeless romantic, a selfdeclared love martyr who helps the Eifel Tower keep its erection. They once asked her in an interview to disclose

what she considered to be a man’s best feature. Her answer: “penetration”. Dombasle has a penetrating approach to her art; she effortlessly metamorphosis. Those who get the chance to know her - granted they have the intellectual capacity- will tell you that this colorful pin-up girl is a feminist thinker with joie de vivre. Her liberal philosophy transcends the doctrine, for there is no need to play on the defense when you are so comfortable wearing pink lipstick whilst singing “my way”. When her grandma said: “Wear only one color”, she meant it as a fashion suggestion. It turned out to be a career advice. For every aspect of Dombasle’s persona is so rich in pigments that, if she were to show more than one color at a time, the average person would be so transfixed by her presence he’ll end up missing the inherent message. To be fair, Arielle does have a harmless tendency to show off her assets. Even today, aged 56, she has not lost her innocent flirt with exhibitionism. Watching her play the lead in a French “Crazy Horse” show, we can only wish to be as energetic and to look that exquisite when we reach her age. Bottom line, a woman’s essence always lies in the hidden details. It’s in her artistic surname (her mother’s) that Arielle hides hers. The only letter in “Dombasle” that’s not pronounced is the letter “s”; yet her bubbly sex appeal is anything but subtle. You can only imagine that if Hugh Heffner had the chance to add her to his playmate collection, this bunny would definitely be named Alice. Yasmeen Hawwa






I sang as I drove past the bus station on Avenue de la Grande Armee in my little yellow car. That good old machine had survived my many travels from Brittany to here. Over the years she had become my true companion, and was visiting Paris with me again for one last time. Place de la Porte Maillot. I got out of the car, and walked through the doors. There I was, standing where it had all happened: Le Palais des Congrès. I ran down seemingly endless rows and rows of chairs, entered the backstage door and hid behind the curtains. And there I stood alone in the dark, just me and my heartbeats and hopes and dreams. I closed my eyes and heard applause. The theatre was raging with children who had all come to see her - the girl in the white dress, the girl with the bangs and hats and hands that waved so gracefully in the air. And then she came onto the stage as the lights were dimmed. She came from the skies, sitting on a moon with promises of a better, much more magical world. And I believed. Chantal Goya sang her heart out, and danced her soul, and smiled and smiled and smiled. She spoke of dolls made of sugar, of an island of butterflies and flowers, of a little girl who died of the cold while selling matches on the streets, of the mishaps of a little girl named Sophie, and of many and many beautiful things. And as she landed on the roofs of Paris I couldn’t help but smile and wonder where she would take us this time. Someone lit a streetlamp and a little firefly came swirling around it. She needed to get back home before the clock rang 8 times.

That was when her life would end, the little ephemeral fly just wanted to die home. So they raced on the back of a snail – such irony since the snail is the slowest of animals, but still they made it. They raced against time, and I did the same, peeking from behind the curtains. And as I did, old memories came back - memories of a magical forest, where Chantal would sometimes take us. We would sit under the old Oak tree. Mr Le Chêne would tell us stories of a family of 4 hedgehogs: the Meckis, and we would shake our head and hands to their song. He talked and she sang, this “Maman chanson” of ours. And her songs would come to life. And they came from around the bushes: a panda, a cuckoo, Dr. Sirop, a wolf who turned out to be nice (his cousin is responsible for the Little Red Riding Hood and La Chevre de Mr Seguin), a pelican who traveled on skates and a fox who played the violin. Sometimes, Captain Parrot who had the hick-ups, or the wicked witch Piranha with her little Pie Jama, a bird in a prisoner’s overall, would try to bring evil to the forest. But the inhabitants of this magical world would cast them out of their little gatherings under the tree. Then suddenly, from somewhere in the deep end of the earth, came a huge centipede. Everybody started to scream: “Papa MillePattes! Papa Mille-Pattes” and the weird insect came running around wearing a suit and a tall hat and wiggled his hands in the air, and made us all laugh. As he left the stage I heard little taps on the floor. Someone was dancing his way here. There they were: four little pink rabbits, the tap dancers of the forest, the children of Perlimpinpin, the proud rabbit

who shot the hunter. The French folks refused to believe that the rabbit did it to show them how it felt to be hunted. Rabbits do not know of things like injustice. He shot the hunter simply because: “C’etait un lapin qui avait un fusil”. We sang along and laughed as we moved our fingers over our heads to make rabbit ears.Three ugly men came in a car and chased the rabbits away. Three robbers with scary faces who tried to kidnap our Marie-Rose. We started to scream for help: Gignol, Gignol!! And out he came, our favorite puppet, with his black hat, his big eyebrows, his braid, his bow tie and his stick. His stick that knocked police officers and thieves and everything that moved. Gignol ran after the aggressors and kicked them off the stage as Chantal Goya lifted her hands and taught us how to fly. A stork named “Francette” flew to her, accompanied by a gift from the giant Balthazar. It was his shoe, a shoe that flew, and spoke and blinked its blue eyes. Chantal invited us to come inside the shoe with her and lift our arms. She asked us to bring in our luggage, a lot of love, some courage and the strength to believe. We did and we raised our arms with her, high, very high! Higher! Even higher!! And we were taken in the air. We flew over Paris, the city of lights, the city of Pierrot who danced on its roofs, the city of JeanBaptiste Poquelin known as Moliere, the boy who refused to stop dreaming. We landed in front of the most enchanting palace. Its eyes watched us approach as its gate opened. And there he was, in his royal blue suit, his hat, his sword and his boots: Mr. Le Chat Botté. He sang in a deep sultry voice,

invited us in his realm and promised to always defend the children, the poor and the good. He was the most beautiful cat. His cape twirled around Marie-Rose as he danced with her and she sang to him: “Mr Le Chat, Le Chat Botté, vous n’allez pas me griffer”. We scratched our hands in the air to the music as we watched them turn and dance, hypnotized by this beauty and her mesmerizing beast. Night fell and she had to go. That is when we all followed her under the sea where fish sang opera and danced. We were then guided to his dwelling place, guarded by magnificent sea horses. They opened the gate and we entered this underworld paradise, our eyes wide open filled with fear and excitement. At that instant he appeared amidst the smoke and the lights, this giant weird creature of the sea: the Blue Dragon. She sang to him with all her heart and asked for a chance to find the boy she had lost in her magical forest. She asked him to grant her just one wish; that he would give her hope to see little Mathieu again. He took her into his hand and lifted her up, closer to his wounded ear, and reassured her that everything was going to be all right. He then put her back down and disappeared into the waters as we watched, spellbound. We found Mathieu in the skies and we brought him back to earth and celebrated and danced at the Castle of Nougatine, the Castle miam miam miam. There was a carnival in Venice and Pinocchio came and danced as Polichinelle turned and turned and made us all dizzy. And then my moment had come. Chantal Goya called me and asked me to come to the stage.

I hurriedly fixed up my green dress and came to her. I had brought a gift with me for the occasion - a beautiful hat with a red ribbon that matched her dress. She put it on, gave me a hug, a kiss and asked me to show her how well my dress turned out. I did and she noticed the white pants I wore underneath and asked me to show them to her. I lifted my dress up and the children laughed as my legs shook from all the emotion. As I left the stage, she took out a handkerchief from her pocket. Everybody in the hall took one out as well and each person, big or small, parent or child, started waving a piece of clothe in the air. She was saying goodbye but promised that they would see each other again. Tears filled my eyes at the sight of these colorful ribbons flying in the air as she sang about life and how there is nothing we can do about it: there is always a time when school is over and we have to part. The curtains fell and applause filled the room. But the curtains came up again and she came back to thank us all for sharing this world with her. And while the children grasped their flower bouquets, she thanked the man behind this all. She thanked the man who took us to this better world where people lived happy, where we loved each other a little bit more, where our loved ones didn’t die, where our parents didn’t fight. The magician who made us realize that this wonderful planet he talked of so well, wasn’t so far away from earth after all. And so she thanked Jean-Jacques Debout. And as she finished those words, the children rushed to the stage and the petite woman disappeared, all covered in laughter and dreams. Bécassine



One of the most lyrical and sought after photographers today. Having completed his first fashion shoot for British Vogue at the tender age of 25, Tim Walker is now one of the magazine’s court photographers and his work was shown in several galleries and museums. His woods, gardens, lavish interiors and grand British mansions are reminiscent of the Victorian era and revive a rather romanticized view of the English countryside. Yet Walker mixes the ordinary with the extraordinary, and could be regarded a surrealist. Take images of a bathroom overgrown with plants as if a neglected garden, a girl flying over Paris with a set of balloons or the outdoors film projection on a house.



Often his works are injected with a hint of myths and fairytales. Take for example his shot of a model showcasing a dress while caught in a fishing net or that of a model walking under a tree growing cakes and all kinds of sweets. With their fizzy hair, dripping mascara and long dresses, the models look at once like 18th century maidens and ancient Greek muses: innocent yet sensual. In a way, Walker could be regarded as the visual equivalent of C.S. Lewis or Lewis Carol, the authors of The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland respectively – not coincidentally, the two writers who dreamed up their tales amidst the hedges and meadows of lower England. One reason his work features today in art galleries is that Walker has managed to transcend genres. His photos are not predominantly fashion shoots. Often the model does not take center stage, but is just an element within the overall composition. At times there is no model at all. See for example the tree hung with lit-up dresses. When working for Vogue, Tim Walker traveled around the world, visiting places such as Papua New Guinea and India accompanied by a small army of models, stylists, assistants and set designers to produce images far removed from what was then conventional fashion photography. The result was a kind of National Geographic meets Vogue, as models posed with colorful bone-slinging natives. In fact, one could argue that Walker is as much a theater director and a set designer as he is a photographer. A photo takes ages in terms of preparation, as decors and setups are painstakingly constructed through storyboards. In an essay on Walker’s work, Robin Muir wrote how a Vogue fashion editor in 1958 traveled to the United States for a shoot, accompanied by a photographer, a model and a trunk of clothes. And that was it. Some fifty years later Tim Walker’s checklist for a Christmas shoot included: 20 ballerinas, 17 geese, 250 ostrich eggs sprayed gold, a box of plastic hands, a room filled with umbrellas, twenty Christmas trees, a giant pumpkin, a horse (also sprayed gold), hundreds of Arabian Nights oil lamps, dresses, costumes and ballerina tutus, and lots and lots of white rabbits. Oh, and one vintage Rolls Royce. Not surprisingly, Walker’s “Fashion Pantomime” was one of Vogue’s most expensive shoots ever.



Walker himself is quite humble about his work and does not like talking about it. “Communicating visually was something very natural to me, so photography was the ideal medium,” he told ID magazine. “My photos are all about escapism from real life.” He also once said that he lived “in an imaginary world” and likes to turn “funny daydreams into funny photographs.” About his student days at Exeter Art College he has been equally down to earth: they were spent making “crowns out of wheat and going round junk shops and making things in the kitchen.” Certainly, the return to his childhood is an important source of inspiration, which is example illustrated by his image of a room filled with makeshift tents. What child has not built such secret spots to do secret things and tell secret tales? Walker is often called the new Cecil Beaton, Britain’s leading photographer in the 1940s and 1950s. He too was a house photographer for British Vogue and, interestingly, Walker greatly developed his love for photography as an intern arranging the Beaton archives. After a short stint at another great Vogue photographer, Richard Avedon, in New York, Walker returned to England, where he lives until today. In addition to Vogue, Walker worked for such renowned publications as Vanity Fair and Harper’s, and shot ad-campaigns for Comme des Garçons and Gap, not to forget the latest Miss Dior Cherie campaign. In 2007 he won The Independent Young Photographer of the Year Award and in early 2008 the London Design Museum hosted his first solo show to accompany the publication of his first book, simply called “Pictures.” Never utter a word too much, when an image will do, thus seems to be Walker’s motto. And seeing his enchanting and innovative work, who could disagree? Peter Speetjens


LES NUITS DU CAROUSSEL By Eli Rezkallah, photography Underground Studio


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CIRCUS CROWS By Eli Rezkallah, photography Saad Hakak

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The most acclaimed Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel, writer-director Pedro Almodóvar occupies a unique place in the world of auteur cinema. Like Buñuel’s, the work of this 59-yearold native of La Mancha betrays a fondness for lavish absurdity. Yet, unlike his surrealist forebear, Almodóvar’s mature work suggests he is of two minds as to what kind of movies he wants to make: a critically acclaimed auteur with an eye on the possibilities of popular cinema, he has for two decades attempted to reconcile cinema’s many contradictory tendencies.



Because of Almodóvar’s fondness for photographing women in situations of emotional extremis, the filmmaker most often invoked when discussing his work is America’s 1950s-era melodrama master Douglas Sirk. The duality at the heart of Almodóvar’s oeuvre is evident in his most recent film “Broken Embraces,” which competed for the Palme D’Or in May. The fact that it was not received as warmly by Cannes’ jury as his previous effort “Volver,” which walked away with the 2006 award for best screenplay, says as much about the filmmaker’s restless narrative sensibility as it does about the mutable tastes of competition juries. At the centre of “Broken Embraces” is writerdirector Mateo Blanco (Lluis Homar), who, since a car accident that left him blind, goes by the name Harry Caine. The love of his life Lena (Penelope Cruz) died in the same accident. The body of the film takes the form of a flashback as Blanco tells his assistant about his affair with Lena a decade earlier. A former call girl and the mistress of ageing capitalist Ernesto Martel, Lena aspires to be a film actress. She meets Blanco while he’s casting his new film “Girls and Suitcases,” a comedy that echoes Almodóvar’s 1988 slapstick “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” When Blanco casts Lena, the jealous Martel signs on to produce it, and has his sexually indecisive son, Martel Jr. shoot an on-set “Making Of” video, so that he can keep an eye on his lover. Since the footage has no audio, Martel hires a lip reader to watch the boy’s rushes and decode Lena and Blanco’s candid conversations. Naturally, Martel Jr. develops a crush on Blanco. Fans of Hollywood fare will be lured to the star power of Penelope Cruz, and her range of hairdos, the framing tale of Blanco and Lena’s doomed romance, and the sumptuous cinematography. The film’s Director of Photography is Rodrigo Prieto, who is working with the same colour-saturated palette that Almodóvar fans have come to associate with his work. More critical audiences will also appreciate Prieto’s canvases, as they will the movie’s ruminations on cinema: “Broken Embraces” depicts a filmmaker’s melodramatic recollections of a comic movie, as much as his romance with an actress and its constituent parts. Cinema, after all, implies a performance

(whether to entertain or to deceive) and a camera (which can be used for surveillance of private lives as easily as to capture artifice). As such, “Broken Embraces” is but the latest variation on various themes that have marked the latter stages of Almodóvar’s career. When audiences outside Spain became aware of him in the 1980s, Almodóvar was noted for his dark, gleefully scandalous comedies. The elaborate and often extravagant plotting of films like “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” (1984), “Matador” (1986) and “Law of Desire” (1987) rival that of Egyptian popular cinema, although, unlike them, Almodóvar’s stories seemed bent on offending audience sensibilities. If one continuity is to be found in Almodóvar’s work since the 1980s, it is his eye. As his working budgets, and the number of talented cinematographers who want to work with him, have grown over the years, Almodóvar has been able to elaborate upon the subject that he has obsessively represented for audiences: the female form, occupied by either a man or a woman. As has been pointed out innumerable times, Almodóvar’s camera loves to photograph flesh. Indeed, once you look past its transgressive central story of a deceitful and manipulative male nurse, the film language of “Talk to Her” (2002) is an hommage to the bodies of two women – a matador and a dancer -- both comatose in hospital. Though he never lost his taste for elaborate plots, Almodóvar’s writing since the 1990s has oscillated between two stylistic extremes. On the one hand, he’s striven for an intimacy with his characters, the great majority of whom have been women. In “All About my Mother” (1999), for instance, Manuela embarks on a journey to find her (pre-operative) transsexual husband, after their only son (of whose existence the father is unaware) is killed when trying to get the autograph of a lesbian actress. While befriending the lesbian actress,

Manuela becomes the adoptive mother of a young nun who is also pregnant by her (still pre-operative) husband. In “Volver” (2006) Raimunda assumes responsibility for the death of her husband, who was killed by her daughter (herself raped at the hands of her grandfather) when Raimunda’s husband tries to rape her, thus initiating a process that leads to Raimunda’s discovery that her own mother, who had apparently died in a fire, is still alive. It is no surprise that such empathy has tended to shade into melodrama, which remains central to his oeuvre, but Almodóvar has experimented with distancing devices. His favourite technique for creating emotional distance is slapstick, as with “Kika” (1993) and “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” the film that first lured foreign audiences to join the critics in appreciating his work. Here, Pepa, an actress specialising in doing voice-overs for foreign films, is in the midst of trying to sublet her flat and losing her lover (another, older, dubbing actor), who is about to run off with his wife’s feminist lawyer. The course of Pepa’s emotional collapse is diverted by that of her pal Candela, who is afraid she will be arrested for having an affair with a terrorist, and the arrival of a young couple wanting to sublet her flat, one of whom happens to be her ex-lover’s son.



“Almodóvar has obsessively represented for audiences: the female form, occupied by either a man or a woman ” With “Live Flesh” (1997) Almodóvar began to experiment with the conventions of film noir. Given how far removed noir’s emotionally aloof, deadpan narrative style is from his own, it hardly seems a surprise that his experiment entailed less a wholesale adoption of the genre than its radical make-over. In “Bad Education,” his second noir-ish outing, two actors, both men, embody the role of the “femme fatale”, named Ignacio, another predatory pre-operative transsexual. Ignacio was once a choirboy at a Catholic boys’ school. The principal of which, a priest, not only sexually abused him, but also separated him from his childhood sweetheart, Enrique. Sixteen years later, Enrique is a successful filmmaker scouring the tabloids for story ideas. Ignacio, now an actor, materialises on his doorstep with a manuscript that he wants Enrique to adapt to film. When Enrique agrees to make the film, Ignacio demands to play the role of Zahra, the transsexual prostitute who poses as Ignacio’s sister to blackmail the priest with her brother’s story. “Broken Embraces” is Almodóvar’s effort to combine all his years of formal and narrative experiment into a single film. Aided by its disjuncture of location, moving from the enclosed interior shots of Madrid to the wide open landscapes on the island of Lanzarote, the story’s multi-layered narrative veers from noir to comedy to melodrama. In this reconciliation of cinema’s contradictory tendencies, while ever mindful of the possibilities of commercial cinema, he has chosen Penelope Cruz to stand in for the femme fatale. Jim Quilty




It was an enchanted rainy Saturday evening on September 14th of 1985 when four charming women in their golden years shone through the television screen on NBC. And before even knowing their stories or the turn of events that had brought them together, we felt a familiar warmth and a beautiful kind of nostalgia that just made us want to cuddle up and watch. As we watched on through the years, Dorothy, Sophia, Rose and Blanche filled up our hearts like a balloon would cheer up a child. They were four women who had lost their men, but found in each other a beautiful friendship that made them The Golden Girls.

long she had waited to have sex after her husband George died, Sophia responded “Till the paramedics came!”. It was also revealed in one episode that Blanche’s middle name was Elizabeth, giving her the initials B.E.D. Blanche was the rather vain one of the four, always acting younger than she was.











On the show Bea Arthur plays DOROTHY ZBORNAK, a woman with an uneasy relationship history. A few weeks after her high school prom, Dorothy’s boyfriend, Stan, gets her pregnant and marries her so they would have a legitimate child. Stan and Dorothy were married for thirty-eight years. Finally, after having cheated on her numerous times, Stan leaves Dorothy for a young flight attendant named Chrissy. Dorothy and Stan divorced, but Stan made numerous appearances on the show usually running to Dorothy whenever something went wrong in his life. Stan continually saw Dorothy as a comforting, reliable figure, even though he was the one who destroyed their marriage. And Dorothy was ever so keen on finding the right man who would rekindle the love she had long wanted. She was the hopeless romantic, a woman in dire need for true love and a rather meaningful relationship.

Estelle Getty plays Dorothy’s mother, SOPHIA PETRILLO. Sophia had rather colorful twists as an adolescent and she was never shy to share on the show the wisdom she had learned from her experiences. She was born in Sicily and was engaged at age fourteen to a man who later left her at the altar. She then moved to New York after annulling her first arranged marriage when she was also still a teenager. She then married Salvador Petrillo and they had three children. Sophia was put away in the Shady Pines Retirement Home by Dorothy prior to the start of the series. Sophia had suffered a massive stroke, and the running joke was that this had destroyed the part of her brain that acted as a censor. Much of Sophia’s popularity comes from her humorous, often shocking bluntness and general lack of inhibition. Sophia occasionally pretends to be slightly senile. In the pilot episode, Sohpia came to live with the girls after Shady Pines burned down. In a later episode, Sophia tried to run away to Sicily after becoming the prime suspect in starting that fire.

Rue McClanahan plays BLANCHE DEVEREAUX, a Southern belle who was always “the apple of her father’s eye”. Throughout most of the series, Blanche was portrayed as man-hungry, she clearly had the most male admirers - and stories detailing various sexual encounters. Blanche even asked a man out on a date at her husband George’s very own funeral. The girls, in turn, all made fun of Blanche’s dating habits. Sophia teasingly called Blanche “a human mattress” not so bluntly hinting on Blanche’s over-sexed nature. And when Dorothy asked Blanche how

Betty White plays ROSE NYLUND. The most uncomplicated and more naïve one of the four. She good heartedly takes everything for its literal meaning. She is generally considered to be rather dumb, although she occasionally exhibits superior intelligence in certain peculiar subjects such as plumbing and psychology. Rose was married for many years to a traveling insurance salesman and had five children. After her husband Charlie’s death in 1980 of a heart attack while they were making love, Rose lived alone for a while. She then soon moved to Miami where she found work at a grief counseling center. Rose’s simplicity and often humorous quirkiness makes her all the more loveable. Dorothy, her mother Sophia and their good friends Rose and Blanche all shared the same home on 6151 Richmond St. in Miami. But from the very first moment they graced the small screen, they were sharing their home with over twenty-five million people across the world. The Golden Girls brightened up our living rooms and found a cosy spot in our hearts as they resolved each episode’s petty conflicts and relationship problems with ageless humor. They would effortlessly lift us by laughter right out of our living rooms and into their kitchen on Richmond street, as the four of them would gather late at night over a cheesecake and a hearty dispute. As each of them told her end of a story, a sweet blend of smarts, sarcasm and light-heartedness would fill the room. The Golden Girls ended on May 9th in 1992 after each of the four had received an Emmy for her work on the show. Till this very day, The Golden Girls are still able to rekindle the same set of beautiful emotions any time we catch a glimpse from a rerun of an old episode. Even though Dorothy and Sophia both recently passed away, their vivid image still lingers in our living rooms and there voices resonate in our hearts. Jimmy Francis



Cinematic Memories* Born in 1969, Lebanese film director Michel Kammoun made several short movies before releasing Falafel, which was an instant hit in Lebanon and won numerous awards on the international festival circuit. He is currently writing the script for his next film. He found it very hard to list his ten favorite films. “I started with 10, which then became 15, then 25 etc-etc,” he said. “So this list is approximate, and far from exhaustive. Film is my passion and thus my list is unfair towards all the others films that are breaking my balls to be in.” In the end, he did come up with his final ten. They are, what he called “cinematic memories:” films he may have seen a long time ago, but that made such an impression that they have stayed with him ever since. He emphasized that the following list does not have a particular order.


ROCCO AND HIS BROTHER Italy 1960 Luchino Visconti

“A beautiful and very emotional black and white film about brotherly love and sacrifice, with an extraordinary performance by a young Alain Delon, an actor I normally dislike. Unlike in most of his films, Visconti did not portray the bourgeoisie, but a poor rural family that moves to the city to climb the social ladder. The film is a mix of neo-realism and baroque melodrama. It has an almost opera-like feel to it.”


Italy 1973 Federico Fellini


“This is again a film I saw very long ago. I just love the way Fellini sways from micro to macro perspective, showing the life of a teenager and his family in a small Italian town against the backdrop of big political movements (the rise of Mussolini). The film is semiautobiographical coming-age-tale. It’s typical Fellini: larger-than-life cinema with extraordinary characters, beautiful mise-en-scène, and great music (Nina Rota). Fellini at his best!”



Russia 1966 Andrei Tarkovsky

“I saw this film some 20 years ago and still remember how I left the cinema totally overwhelmed. The film portrays a famous 15th century monk and icon painter, and the film itself is shot like a series of icons, with very slow camera movements and majestic landscapes. It’s a 3,5-hour film and it offers an almost mystical experience. You know, it is the kind of film that, upon leaving theater, makes you feel you changed a little.”


France 1966 Jacques Tati


“I saw this film only a few years ago when it was re-released, and absolutely loved it Shot in 70mm, it’s a modern, very minimalist mise-en-scène, yet meticulously organized in every detail. Like a clock. Tati plays his usual character, Monsieur Hulot, this weird tall man that just does not fit in the world of futuristic Paris, which leads to lots of comic situations. All the decors were painfully constructed for the film. Maybe that’s what I like most about this film: you can see the passion that has gone into making it.”


USA 1974 John Cassavetes


“This is maybe the most beautiful love story ever told, be it in the Cassavetes way. It’s a tribute to love and passion, no matter what. I mean, the wife drives her husband absolutely nuts, and yet he loves her. The deranged wife is played by Geena Rowlins, the best actress alive today. As a director, Cassavetes started the equivalent of the French nouvelle vague in the US. He modernized American cinema, and inspired all of today’s great directors.”


USA 1992 Abel Ferrara


“One of the best films in modern cinema, with an amazing Harvey Keitel. He plays the corrupt, drug addicted cop who is doomed to fall, and searches of redemption. It is essentially a modern film noir with a religious undertone. To me, it’s a contemporary masterpiece.”


France 1976 Roman Polanski


“This is one of Polanski’s best films. It’s about this new tenant of a Paris apartment (played by Polanski) who finds out that the previous tenant committed suicide. Gradually, the new tenant starts identifying more and more with the old one, even though she was a woman. It’s a film about paranoia, a trip into the human mind. A brilliant film.”


USA 1997 David Lynch


“I’m a fan of the Lynch atmosphere and his ability to inject normal, daily life with extraordinary events and dimensions. In Lost Highway, I think, he is at his best, introducing all the themes we know from his other films. It’s really scary, cinematographically beautiful, and he dares play around with one of the fundamental rules of cinema by changing the main character into somebody else. It’s a genius, fantasmatic and nightmarish work art!”


USA 1980 Martin Scorsese


“This is a film so realistic – it’s almost a documentary – that it makes you feel you’re intruding. The story is about the inevitable downfall of a boxer. He has it all, yet looses it all. Because of the directing, the acting, the editing, this is really a work of art. Every shot is a cinema lesson. And again it’s somehow a film that shows the director’s immense passion for cinema.”



USA 1958 Alfred Hitchcock

“I’m a big fan of Hitchcock. I chose Vertigo because it is arguably his most mature work. I love the film’s atmosphere and the way its mis-en-scene and main themes (phobia, obsession, and the double) are intertwined and strengthen each other. For example, Hitchcock invented for this film a new camera technique-tracking in and zooming out at the same time-to convey the sensation of vertigo. This film really takes you somewhere else, and it has of course influenced many great filmmakers.”



Born in 1974, Lebanese composer Khaled Mouzanar studied with Boghos Gelalian before doing his first soundtracks for films made by Wissam Smayra and Hani Tamba (After Shave). His main success so far followed with his award winning compositions for the hit movie Caramel. In 2008, Khaled released his latest solo album, Les Champs Arides, while he is currently working on a follow-up. As most people, Khaled found it extremely difficult to come with a top ten of his favorite records. “I tried to narrow it down to music from 1960s and 1970s, but even that proved too hard,” he said. “In the end I picked the 10 albums that I have currently in my car and play the most. That unfortunately means that my list contains no jazz, Arabic or any black music. I’ll do a Top 10 of that next time!”



1981Bach: The Golden Variations

“This is some of the smartest and most sensitive music I’ve ever heard. It’s music for the brain and the heart. When I listen to this record I feel more positive about humanity. It’s weird. If you listen to today’s electronic music, and compare it to Bach, it’s almost prehistoric. It’s as if mankind goes backward, not forward.”


1994 Balada para un Loco, Vol .4


“Piazzolla changed my music a lot. He was such a great composer and virtuoso, who managed to change tango from but folkloric music into a classical genre. I wish at times a Lebanese Piazzolla would stand up and do the same with Lebanese folkloric music.”

L’HISTORE DE MELODY NELSON 1971 Serge Gainsbourg


“I love conceptual albums like this. Unfortunately it is a vanishing genre, as people these days download songs, not albums. Gainsbourg was a great poet and a genius in composing melodies.This album was made in 1971, yet has such a great sound, that it still sounds very modern.”

FIVE LEAVES LEFT 1969 Nick Drake


“He made this album in 1969 and died in 1974 at the age of 26. He was largely unknown, until a few years ago his three albums were rereleased. He’s a great melodist, guitarist and songwriter, and a great influence.”




”A great album on which two great artists meet: Lou Reed and David Bowie who produced the album. Of course, a great album is all about great songs and on this album you’ll find something memorable in each song, especially as a musician. I think every song writer once in his life got inspired by Transformer.”



“Tom Waits is one of the last real singer songwriters around, a survivor. I think he is to song writing what Charles Bukowski is to literature. I love the pseudo jazzy arrangements on this album and the Bar Fly-like lounge mood.”



”Like Tom Waits, Nick Cave is one of the few singer-songwriters still around. And it’s somehow re-assuring that he is still there, not following trends, doing his own thing. He is such a great lyricist, a poet really. Very inspiring. I like all his work, but this may be his best album.”


1991 Laughing Stock


”I don’t like all the music they did, but this album, as well as Spirit of Eden, is very adventurous and avant garde for that time. It’s Radiohead ten years before Radiohead. I recorded Les Champs Arides in London with the bass player who played on Laughing Stock.”



1996 Eals “This is their first album as Eels, which is really just Mark Oliver Everett. This is the first time I heard a good singer-songwriter combined with a modern production using loops, samplers etc-etc. It’s an excellent combination of electro-rock and blues. Not coincidentally, their next album was called Electro-Shock Blues.”



”I cannot not pick Radiohead. I listened a lot to all their albums, but when OK Computer was released, it really came as a shock to me. Produced by Nigel Godrich, it has such great songs, such a great different sound. Truly a great, great album that has influenced many musicians.”



On June 8, the world witnessed the long awaited release of YAS’ debut album Arabology. The result is a dozen of upbeat electronic dance tracks that no doubt will do well in the club circuit, and have the potential to propel Arabic pop to the top of the western charts for the first time in history. YAS consists of Yasmine Hamdan, the female half of former Lebanese cult band Soap Kills, and Mirwais, a leading member of the French electronic scene and known as a producer of the Madonna albums Music, American Life and Confessions on a Dance Floor. A few days after Arabology’s release, Plastik spoke to Yasmine in Paris. She had just finished rehearsals and enjoyed a coffee in a café near Metro Parmentier. She was in a good mood, enjoying the first rays of sunshine following three weeks of rain and grey skies..





It’s been only five days since Arabology was released. This must be a very hectic time for you? ”Yes, only yesterday I did two TV- and a radio interview, and this week we do a show on Canal Plus. But it has been hectic for the last two months really. We had to do so much promotion for the album, it was crazy. I performed a few days ago in Cannes and I’m preparing for a concert at the Nouveau Casino in Paris. So, yes, doing many things at the same time. Nonetheless, I’m very excited.” In interviews you keep emphasizing that YAS is not world music. Mirwais for example told a Swiss magazine: “The idea is that today, in Western culture, we hear about Arabs everyday - in a bad way but we lack cultural representations that could mix with western culture. I don’t want to do world music, but a good western production with a real Arab identity.” “Absolutely. We do Arabic electro pop, as simple as that. Why should Arabic music only be called world music? When I discovered this term, I was shocked. Why should the music I do be classified as “world”? The world according to who? And why can electronic music only be in English? Anyway, Mirwais and I did not want to do fusion. We tried to meet, not merge. I have my inspirations, he has his, and we built our collaboration around our dissimilarities. You think Mirwais’ Afghan background made it easier for him to connect with Arabic music? “I think it did. I think we met at the right time. I wanted to initiate a project in Arabic and he has this curiosity about the world and the politics we live in. So, I only needed to convince him artistically, not conceptually. We were both excited about doing something in Arabic. Nothing kitschy or exotic, but modern. We were quite confident that Arabic offers very rich material to work with” Is it very different from what you did with Soap Kills? (Or is there some continuation as well?) “It is very different, but it’s still me. I work with different people, it’s a different experiment, yet I still write, compose and sing. You know, after we [Yasmine and Zeid Hamdan] decided to stop with Soap Kills, I was quite lost for a while, but I knew two things: I wanted to do something different and I wanted to go more electronic, which was quite a challenge, because I liked electro pop, but wasn’t from that scene. So, when I started working with Mirwais, it took me some time to find my way. We both needed to tune. And we needed to come up with something that the Arabic world could identify with, and could be enjoyed by people who don’t understand Arabic.” How was it to cooperate with Mirwais? “It was a bit like a ping pong game. Sometimes

I would have a song, bring it to him and he’d take it from there. Sometimes he would give me an instrumental, or a melody to work on. For example with Get It Right, I was recording a song in the studio when he walked in. He had this song, Keep The Trance, which he had done for Madonna but wasn’t used. And so, we decided to somehow combine the two. The result is a catchy, simple, but fun song.” “In Yaspop, he gave me an instrumental and a melody for the chorus and asked me to work on it. I found that the song had something militaristic, it made me think of old children songs we used to sing. You know, this song about two men talking to each other about having a fly in his slip. At the same time, I was very concerned with what was happening in Lebanon in 2006. And so Yaspop became what it is now: a dialogue between two men, based on the line There Is An American In My Garden. By the end of the song, the guy has an Italian in his bra, a Chinese at the Litani etc etc. It’s an ironic, indirectly political song, but at the same time I just tried to have fun.” Was it not difficult at times a well, as Mirwais is such a heavyweight in the world of modern pop? “Mirwais found it very difficult to work with me! I can be very stubborn, you know [laughs]. But seriously, yes, we had our tensions. But that’s normal in a collaboration. Mirwais has a strong character, is very talented, and I can be very possessive about my songs. Sometimes I had to fight for what I wanted. Sometimes I found it difficult to take distance from my own compositions and it would take time for me to get used to them again after Mirwais had worked on them. I learnt to be more flexible, while in the first year of our collaboration, I worked a lot with Abdulwahab Abrit [Yasmine’s musical director, and the musician she performs with on stage] to shape the songs a bit before giving them to Mirwais. We did that for example for Coit Me and Mahi (Hala), an Iraqi song from the 1950s. Abdelwahab has a great talent for mediating between me and Mirwais. He does the same on stage.” What has been the biggest challenge you think? ”Artistically, this whole project was a huge challenge for me. I needed to find my inspiration, my marks, get rid of some blockages and become a more mature, more patient person. Three years to finalize an album is a long time. But this how life goes, we don’t always have the choice, and it’s probably for the best.” How does the future look like for Yasmine Hamdan? ”I’m very happy. I feel strong and I feel I can initiate a lot of things. Arabology is a very ambitious project that deserves a chance to be exposed, and right now I jut want to develop this music further on stage.”

“in showbusiness you have to offer drama* with attitude�






WHEN ROYALS WORE RUFFLES Chesley McLaren and Pamela Jaber Schwartz & Wade Books

A beautifully illustrated and funny book for both kids and grown-ups offering an alphabet of crazy fashion throughout the ages. Every letter comes with a small anecdote and drawing. For example, the H stands for high hats, which in the 1400s were in fact so high that servants had to walk with the ladies wearing the hats to hold them up with pitchforks. The K is for king’s knickers and knees. And the J stands for, what else, jewels.

CULT MASTERPIECES Icons of our Generation Tectum Publishers

Printed in Belgium and written in three languages, Cult Masterpieces is a truly magnificent book offering 400 richly designed pages with products and brands that have become icons of our time. From the first Ford car and Vespa to the Concorde and space shuttle; from the Coca Cola bottle to Red Bull; from Chanel No.5 to the Ipod. Somehow the combination of design, usefulness and a great marketing campaign have turned these items into icons: enduring symbols of our day and age.

MARIO TESTINO Stern Photography

Peruvian Mario Testino was the 53rd photographer to see his portfolio published in the prestigious Stern Photography series, thus joining the select company of such all time greats as Man Ray, Mapplethorpe, Corbijn and LaChapelle. Testino’s images are most of the time grand, glamorous, sensual and theatrical, and sometimes surprisingly real. What makes a good photo according to the master? “The moment a face displays its vulnerability.”


This stunning book is every graphic designer’s dream and a perfect example of how text and layout can strengthen each other. Subtitled “The Encyclopedia of the World’s Best Kept Secrets,” the book is divided over categories as: mysteries, freaky facts, and classified. Richly illustrated with graphs, boxes, read-outs, games and hidden double pages, the book is meant as a playful encyclopedia for teenagers, yet no doubt most grown ups will enjoy it as well, and certainly the designers among them.








Set to the tunes of 1970s (glam) rock, C.R.A.Z.Y. is a hilarious coming-of-age film about a teenager, Zachary, who struggles to come to terms with his religious and dysfunctional family, as well as his own sexual preferences. Now, that has of course all been done before, yet C.R.A.Z.Y’s wonderful retro feel, its snappy visual style and comic elements (Zachary was born on Christmas day and truly believes he has healing powers) definitely make it worth the ride.

American cult film inspired by the life of Andy Warhol muse Edy Sedgwick “Factory Girl”. At first, the movie seems to be a documentary, yet in fact it is a fictionalized drama in which all the main characters essentially play themselves. So, Edy plays a spoilt and bored Susan Superstar, who is back at her mother’s house in California lamenting her days as a member of Warhol’s inner circle. Although technically a fiction film, it is regarded as a quite genuine, and voyeuristic, portrait of Sedgwick. Ciao Manhattan is a weird film, impossible to categorize, yet essential viewing for anyone interested in Sedgwick, the Warhol era, and experimental film.

Jean-Marc Vallée Canada 2005

Brian Palmer David Weisman 1972

A satisfactory and funny film about three drag-queens who go on a road trip to LA, yet get stranded in a tiny mid-west town where they end up teaching the women to be women and the men to be (gentle) men. Seeing the overwhelming variety of over-the-top outfits, you are left to wonder how they ever fitted in that gorgeous Caddilac convertible. Details aside, the film is worth watching if only for the very convincing performances of Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo.

KAMIKAZE GIRLS Tetsuya Nakashima Japan 2004

Forget The Spice Girls or Madonna, here comes “girl power” Japanese style! In Kamikaze Girls, Fukada (a dreamy Lolita who dresses in 18th century French Roccoco clothes, while the rest of her village buys everything at local mall) and Anne (a foul-mouthed biker chick) become friends and set out on a journey to find a legendary embroiderer to make a dress for the leader of Anne’s all-girls biking gang. It may sound cliché, yet there is no film like this one: weird, funny, and great to look at.

YVES ST. LAURENT David Teboul France 2002

This DVD consists of two Davis Teboul documentaries about the late French designer: His Life and Times and Yves Saint Laurent 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris. The first is biography, which not only shows great designs, from drawing to dress, as well as some great interviews with YSL and his closest friends and companions. Among other things, YSL speaks quite openly about the role of homosexuality in his work and his relationship with Pierre Bergé. The second film shows YSL and his staff preparing for, what turned out to be, his last show. For anyone, even slightly interested in fashion and design, this is a must see.


Tokyo Streets TV Switzerland 2006

Funky DVD offering colorful street scenes from the Japanese megacity Tokyo: orchestrated waves of people crossing streets when the light turns green, neon nights, young punks and Manga girls, a crazy bear and a girls band with angelic voices. If you don’t have the money to travel, this is arguably your best option for a taste of Tokyo.









Excellent third album by this Dutch trio, which since 2003 has built up quite a reputation in the international dance circuit. Electronics dominate, yet always mixed with a funky beat and vocals. Hearing Plastic People, it should come as no surprise that dance magazine IDJ describes Kraak & Smaak as “a must-see live band” that can holds its own next to giants as Moby and The Prodigy.

Some love it, some hate it, yet one thing is certain: the Ones’ debut album will make you move your booty – even if you don’t want to – with a mix of back-to-the-1980s synthesizers and disco fever. Like Scissors Sisters, The Ones stem from the New York club scene, love a laugh, and are not afraid of a touch of drag.

Kraak & Smaak


From Spanish classical music to French folklore; from jazzy 1950s lounge to Nina Hagen’s take on I Did It My Way; from Indian flute to Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival des Animeaux: you name it, Patchwork has got it. A wonderful double CD with all the music that once upon a time accompanied Lacroix’s versatile creations on the catwalk.


A happy-go-lucky compilation album with poppy tunes from around the world, which starts well enough with Goldfrapp, an Oakenfold remix and good old disco diva Donna Summers, yet then loses the plot with painful miss hits by Turkish Zarema and Taiwan’s Wow. And why on earth anglicize the beautiful German word “wonderlust?”


Great follow-up to the New York trio’s highly successful second album Show Your Bones. Reminiscent of the better raw-end new wave of the 1980s, It’s Blitz offers screaming guitars riffs and a hypnotic beat kept together by singer Karen O’s high-pitched voice. Can’t go wrong with this one!

DEAR SCIENCE TV ON THE RADIO (TVOR) This is arguably the most mature among the six albums presented in this section; the kind of CD you put on and play for weeks in a row to uncover its depth and variety. Voted best 2008 rock album by Rolling Stone (and others), Dear Science is a magnificent achievement. Mixing thumping rock with funk, strings, loops, great vocals and poetic lyrics, the Brooklyn collective’s fourth album truly deserves all the praise it can get.



by Steve Kozman


Plastik’s favourite photographer, wPlastik’s creative director and the team went to Manhattan for few days. While everyone was busy... STeve took these photographs that we had* to share with you.
















In the past few years, exhibits on Middle East art have become de rigueur in New York. There have in fact been too many to count. The latest such endeavor is the Tarjama/ Translation show at the Queens Museum of Art, presented in collaboration with ArteEast, a non-profit New York-based organization, that has been working diligently to promote art from the region. Taking its cue from the notion of “translation” in its broader sense, its aim is not to “bridge the gap” between East and West, but rather to expose how artists from Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan communicate within their multiethnic cultures and across their Diasporas. Emily Jacir, who recently had her own show

at the Guggenheim, has designed an orange banner featuring the words, “Translate Allah” in black ink. The plainness of the work provocatively attests to the banality of the proposition. But it is her fellow Palestinian artist Khalil Rabah’s pseudo-newspaper, “United States of Palestine Times,” fashioned after the New York Times, which manages to transcend the campiness and politicizing pervading the exhibit. It subtly but powerfully evokes both the destructive and reconstructive power of the media and of international cultural institutions. A headline in the fictional publication subversively reads: “Museum prepares to sue Switzerland and the UN on behalf of olive trees.”

lara baladi



To celebrate 40 years of top designer Sonia Rykiel, Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris recently honored the firy French redhead with her first ever rertrospective. On display were some 220 of her creations, which led us on a journey through time, starting with her famous handknit 1960s sweaters to her little black Parischic dresses. In addition, videos, photos and personal sketchbooks were on display, while 30 top fashion designers paid tribute by presenting a creation “a la Sonia.” Born in 1930, Rykiel opened her first boutique on Paris’ artistic left bank in 1968. She started knitting her own clothes, when it proved unable to find anything comfortable to wear during her pregnancy. From maternity dresses she moved on to knitting sweaters, which eventually earned her the title “queen of knits.”

Rykiel was very much a child of her time and arguably as no other in touch with what women wanted. Combining sexy with stylish, while always keeping an eye on comfort, she became the designer of choice of the 20th century newly emancipated modern woman – to such extent that even today we may speak of ‘la femme Rykiel.” Voted one of the world’s most elegant women in 1980, Rykiel continued working with wool throughout her career. She also wrote several children and fashion books, while her boutques in France are known to sell and promote pornographic literature written by women. Today, her daughter Nathalie is being groomed to keep house Rykiel alive and well throughout the next century.



The 27 Club is a morbid group that includes several musicians—Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain—who hit it big early and died at the age of 27. But the impact they have had is testimony to the notion that visionary ideas are born out of the young and restless. As today’s youth is slated to shape the global state of affairs in the years to come, New York’s New Museum, which has built its reputation on fostering and championing “the new”, has created “The Generational” triennial. This year, the show’s subtitle is the catchy “Younger than Jesus.” What this means is that only artists who are younger than 33 years old, the age Jesus perished, and who are born after 1976 qualify. Spanning the museum’s four floors and featuring 145 artists from twenty-five countries, the ambitious funneling exercise is a dizzying whirlwind of international contemporary art. And yet, the most cohesive aspect of the show is also its most disappointing revelation: all over the world, artists are engaged in similar approaches to art with little distinguishing characteristics, most of them making art about art. While art movements have always been a reaction to, and almost always a rejection of, the previous wave of artists, the latest generation, it seems, does not want to offend.

Rather than act against its predecessors, it bows all too timidly to them. The show is littered with good, competent art but the curatorial decisions don’t always make sense. For seemingly little rhyme or reason, a few artists get to have an entire wall, or more, of their own, while others are confined to one work. French Algerian Mohamed Bourouissa, who documents the North African immigrant community in Paris’s suburbs (banlieues) in crisp vividly colored photographs, is among the former group. So is Iranian artist Tala Madani who gets to show nine of her disturbing, dark-humor paintings, depicting buffoonish men engaged in acts of sadistic violence. Polish artists Jakub Julian Ziolkowski and Katerina Seda, who both explore themes of preservation and decay, are the most deserving of the extra space allotted to them. But some of the other inclusions come across as politically correct throwaways. The piece by Lebanese video artist Ziad Antar, about a boy and girl playing the piano and singing children rhyme tunes, is bafflingly simplistic. While there is no denying the energetic, “creative schizophrenia” of the new multidisciplinarian generation, if this triennial is anything to go by, our “agents of change” actually want to change very little.



Yves St. Laurent was not in, but nearly anyone else who was someone in the second half of the 20th century was. Andy Warhol produced over 1000 silkscreen portraits in his life, mainly of celebrities, some 130 of which were on display during the recent Warhol’s Wide World exhibition in Paris. Yves St. Laurent was not in, because his heir, Pierre Berge, refused a loan of four portraits when he heard that his beloved had to share a wall with other fashion designers. Berge insisted on a spot at the Artists Wall.” After all, he wrote in a letter to Le Monde, Warhol had said Yves Saint Laurent was “the greatest French artist of our time.” But let us focus on the first time so many of Warhol’s portraits were gathered together in one space. Most portraits measure 40 by 40 inches and that is exactly how Warhol wanted it. “They have to be the same size, so they all fit together and make one big painting called Portraits of Society,” he once said. “That’s a good idea, isn’t it? Maybe the Metropolitan Museum would want it someday.” Close enough: not the New York Metropolitan, but Le Grand Palais in Paris. In addition to artists and fashion designers, Warhol portrayed actors, musicians, politicians, art dealers and collectors and international jetset celebrities, among whom Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Fonda, Mick Jagger, Man Ray, Keith Haring, Sonia Rykiel, Princess Diana, Princess Caroline, British aristocrats and the Persian royal family.

Warhol did not just do the famous. Anyone willing to pay $25,000 could have his portrait taken by Warhol. Most of them however, are not on display. Warhol’s world was very much among the well-heeled and glamorous. Everyone wanted to be seen with Andy. Curator Alain Cueff compared Warhol to a plastic surgeon, as he portrayed people more glamorous than they were in real life. Warhol’s most famous portrait is arguably that of Monroe, in which he first used silkscreen printing and bright coloring. In 1972, he did Mao in similar fashion, and it was this one that became particularly popular and set the trend. He portrayed himself as well, including the series Self-Portraits in Drag. While some critics argue Warhol’s portraits but served to make a quick buck, others claim they are a subtle critique on such themes as identity, celebrity status and mass media. Either way, one could argue Warhol continued, and revived, the ancient tradition of portraiture by giving it a 20th century face lift. And, at times, his pop-art images of for example Marilyn and Mao, have become more famous and iconic than the original portraits. To produce his portraits, Warhol invented a new form of artistic “mass” production. He would make up his models, photograph them with a Polaroid, enlarge the pictures and then paint and silkscreen them. It is not for nothing that his Manhattan studio was known as … The Factory.

WHO’S GOT THE TIE DARLIN’? ‘Plastik magazine’s first public display of Creative Exhibitionism’ Mannequins came alive. Hello Kitty got trashed on champagne. Fresh milk was splashed on glass. And heads were rolling as the magazine was unfolding. The pre-bash was on a more formal pantone, with the who’s who of the city’s creative institutions gathering for a gala dinner, and quite the show. On the night after, Bound was infected with a pure dose of hot pink Cotton Candy. As all the candy heads of the good city wore their Plastik bow ties and a huge happy face. There was more than enough good-stuff-ingredients that night to turn every heart into Plastik Candy. Every head rocked and rolled, and veins thumped with the candy beat as all minds were rushing on Plastik magazine.

Plastik* candy video now available on “PLASTIK MAGAZINE” facebook group



A few weeks ago, I went to the opening of the latest show at Asia Song Society, otherwise known as ASS, the most progressive art gallery in the Lower East Side, New York’s alternative art Mecca. Swarms of artists and artist-types festooned the street outside the gallery, while inside many more of the young and art-hungry packed the tiny, breath-heated space, making it almost impossible to see any of the art clearly. In the spookily dark basement a film was projected onto the wall. It showed a woman on a bed strumming a guitar talking to the camera about a life-changing episode, which was all very moving for her, but which I can’t recall. Joining the crowds back outside, I spotted some of the art world’s foremost cognoscenti: out-of-town curators, high-profile collectors and other heavyweight art dealers.      It was all devastatingly avant-garde, now and communal. The brainchild behind this event was artist Terence Koh, New York’s contemporary equivalent to Warhol, who has fashioned his career along remarkably similar lines to the late and much idolized father of Pop Art. His debut show took place at an L.A. gallery (Javier Perez), and was so seemingly about nothing (two albino parakeets in an all-white space) to be dismissed as not-art, while its dealer was decreed “a joke” by the L.A. art community. Warhol’s 1962 debut also took place at an L.A. gallery, his work (32 paintings of Campbell’s soup cans) was also greeted with shock and disdain, and the man daring to show it was viewed as a loon. And yet, just as Warhol became an art and media darling shortly after the shockwave receded and his ideas about art sunk in, it didn’t take long for Koh to be enthusiastically embraced by the international

art community and for his work to be discussed, revered and exhibited worldwide. Koh, who has repeatedly been referred to as a Warhol offspring, does not shy away from his label but works hard to live up to it in every possible facet. Not only does he continue to create anti-art art, a la Warhol, challenging our preconception of what qualifies as art (his recent works include a vitrine displaying his own gold-placed feces), but he also lives a life of collaboration, nuit-blanche-partying and uninhibited excess. He also dabbles in various mediums, runs a curatorial space (the aforementioned ASS) and has, get this, doused his floor-through studio entirely in white, an ode to Warhol’s once silver-shrouded Factory. That Silver Factory. It really changed everything. Warhol established it in early 1964, two years after his determined transformation from successful commercial artist to successful artist-artist. It was to be his studio, yet rather than enclose himself and work away on his own, he opened its doors and indiscriminatingly welcomed anyone who wished to stop by. Many did. Some to hang out, others to help the workaholic Warhol and again others to work on their own projects. There were always several creative endeavors being churned out at the same time, hence the name “the Factory.” Wigged-out Warhol presided over this dominion that encapsulated New York’s finest and sleaziest, dispensing little affection, but feeding off of the electrifying energy of the amphetamine-pumped-up gatherers. Warhol made much of his most famous work there, including the silkscreen portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor, the Brillo boxes installation



and numerous avant-garde films as well as “Screen Tests” featuring some of the 1960s’ most famous icons: writer Susan Sontag, singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, artist Salvador Dali, and many, many more. The space was a haven of permissiveness and debauchery, hosting parties and art happenings. But as the drug-induced deaths of its attendees mounted, the scene began to fizzle out. It all ended in 1968, when a Factory reject walked in and shot Andy. By then the Factory had moved from 47th Street to a more sedate, office-like studio on Union Square, near Max’s Kansas City - a favorite Warhol hangout and a second home to many of the era’s artists and musicians. Soon after the shooting, Warhol did away with much of its people and its drug-addled atmosphere. To him, it was clear that the experiment had had dangerous consequences, yet the Factory-model continues to be copied today. So do many of Warhol’s ideas. Many of Koh’s entourage work out of Warhol, including the trio of Dash Snow, Dan Colen and Ryan McGinley, all of whom live and work in the Lower East Side. Incidentally, it was here that Warhol first lived upon moving to New York in 1949. Anthony Horowitz, who also resides in the hood, is another Warhol-ian, which becomes all too evident in the 42-year-old’s current retrospective at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, the non-profit affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art. Horowitz adopts Warhol’s multimedia aesthetic (paintings, video, installation and photography) and his work gorges on pop culture. Yet he updates it all for his own time, the analog era of Julia Roberts and Michael Jackson.

Today, the former Silver Factory building sits on a numbingly bland street with nondescript high rise and parking garages. The area around Warhol’s Union Square factory, where he was shot, is an equally unremarkable stretch of commercial offices, while Max’s Kansas City has become a pharmacy. Neither spot provides any clue of the cultural phenomenon it once witnessed. Warhol went on to live another two decades after the shooting, dying in 1987 from a routine gall bladder surgery. During that time he continued to dismantle art’s barriers (Mao Zedong, the Shah of Iran, electric chairs, riots and Michelangelo’s the Last Supper were all given a Warhol makeover), all the while working as a high-societyportraitist-for-hire to secure his finances, which he then – tycoon-style – dispensed on a myriad of projects, including publishing the still-inprint Interview magazine and producing the incomparable Velvet Underground. Warhol unabashedly reveled in the fame and money that came flooding his way, and he continues to be vilified for the “consumerization” of art. A recent profile of Koh headlined: “Portrait of the artist as a young capitalist,” while the financially flush Koh was quoted as saying: “I love money.”) Warhol’s prophecy about stardom – that infamous fifteen minutes of fame – has been, to many people’s chagrin, all too realized. His most lasting legacy is arguably that personality matters more than one’s art. And yet, he was unequivocally able to recognize, capture and capitalize on the moment, throughout his career. Likewise, if nothing else, Koh and his gang are savvy bottlers and samplers of their moment. Nana Asfour


Plastik 01 Featuring: Tim Walker, Vanessa Paradis, Pedro Almodovar, Arielle Dombasle, Betty Page, Chantal Goya, Khaled Mouzannar, Michel Ka...