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Letter from the Editor It’s the end of the year and like all years before this, so much has happened. I, myself, have spent the last three months in Italy. I came here to, “study art” but really, I’m here to experience all that Europe has to offer. What have I learned? That sausage doesn’t have to be greasy and filled with those hard crunchy things. Waiters not working for tips (like most waiters in Europe) give really bad service and traveling with RyanAir might give you a cheap flight but all the costs getting to and from their middle-of-nowhere airports pretty much make up the costs. What have I learned about art and music? That it is literally, everywhere in Europe. Everywhere you look, there is something old and beautiful. The fact that I am lucky enough to live a short 5-minute walk from the Duomo never ceases to amaze me when I turn the corner to be confronted with its vastness. The sidewalk art, the churches, the museums, statues of David, sketches by Da Vinci... It’s all around me like never before. The music in this country is not something I thought I would like, but I find myself turning on MTV in the mornings to hear their Top 20, which, really is quite interesting. My roommates are from Sweden and Holland and I get to horn in on their Spotify lists, which always offers up something new. (Although, my Dutch roommate has a considerable Johnny Cash collection.) I hope this year has been a good one for you all, and I wish you well as you enter into 2012. We’ve put together some amazing talent to usher in your New Year, as well as some good tunes to add to your playlists. Be safe, be happy and we’ll meet again next year. Happy Holidays!
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Masthead: 06 07
Editor in Chief Senior Editor Art Editor Music Editor Web Editor Chief Copy Editor Creative Director Art Dept.
Crystal Vinson Devin Shallop Christina Youmans Mitchell Davis Haniya Rae Amanda Hausauer Matthew Scheiderer Haniya Rae
Christine Bettis, Gina Tron
Contributors: Abby Ronner, Alaina Latham, Alison Kjeldgaard, Andy Oâ€™Connor, Anthony Venditto, Catherine Nguyen, Crystal Vinson, David Carter, Elizabeth Price, Falene Nurse, Hannah Palmer-Egan, Jed Heneberry, Jimmy Doom, Justin Stillmaker, Kevin Adams, Kim Kunoff, Kristi Waterworth, Lindsey Lowe, Merideth Webb, Miles Robinson, Missy Wiggins, Mitchell Davis, Molly Horan, Sid Cocain, Tara McEvoy, Trevor Stonehouse, Whitney Meers Pork & Mead Issue 2, Nov/Dec 2011, is published bi-monthly. Letters/Submissions Send all unsolicited material to: Pork & Mead 439 Selden St. #302 Detroit, MI 48201 Copyright 2011 All material contained within Pork & Mead as well as the porkandmead.com website are ÂŠ 2011 Pork & Mead Magazine and cannot be reproduced in any way without the expressed written consent of the Publisher of Pork & Mead Magazine. As ever Opinions expressed are those of their respective authors, not necessarily those of Pork & Mead
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20 features 20
| Madame Peripetie
| Glenn Barr
| The Art of...Underwear
| Paul McCarthy and The Art of Sodomising
| Q & A with Shaun Smith Nov. - Dec. 2011
small features 30 31 32 33 34 35
| | | | | |
Brian Dettmer Andreas Englund Colby Katz Alexis Marcou Michael McConnell Mark Menjivar
10 36 37 38 39 40 41
editorials 12 44
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Todd Pavlisko Phonography Mark Reigelman L Filipe dos Santos Ryan Schude Yaron Steinberg
| Psychologically Licensed for Skill | Slippery Weasel Society Nov. - Dec. 2011
column 10 Photo Credit: Crystal Vinson | Hair/Makeup: Silvia Gerzeli | Model: Anna Kote
n October 31st, the world population reached 7 billion. Many people are concerned with how the planet is going to provide for all of us. Forget the planet; we’ve got an artistic predicament on our hands. Lots of people are calling themselves artists. Some of these people may or may not be finger painters, auto-tuned robots, socialites, and drug addicts. The bright side is that your definition of artist can be wildly different from mine. Art can not be pegged. Audiences now, more than ever, have almost limitless material to appreciate, contemplate, criticize, stand in awe of, and be influenced by. The next time you are walking down a street, pay attention for art. If it’s not right in front of you, chances are it’s in close proximity to you. It is a proven fact that human beings need clothing to survive. Somewhere along the evolutionary line, a very wise pioneer decided that we might as well become creatures of decency and good hygiene. Behold the invention of underwear, a beacon of support in our insecure world. It has come a long way since its loincloth days. With so many damn people scouring the globe in search of fresh ideas, artistic hands were bound to get a hold of it and rock its world. Fashion photography involving underwear clad models is striking…when done correctly. The line between classy and trashy has a fineness to it that is barely visible. A high fashion editorial can become pornographic with the slightest overarch of the back. Lips too pursed say “I’m not a human being, I’m a blow-up doll.” Direction is crucial, as is the underwear. It must fit correctly; that is where the artistry lies. The cheap shit never fits correctly. Oh, and no thongs please.
Male underwear is a limited medium thanks to years of mind conditioning. There are only a few materials that can be worn and considered “masculine”. The amount of thought put into the design of male underwear can be summed up in two words: boxers or briefs. Furthermore, there is something incredibly unsexy about a man trying to be sexy. That being said, it is clear that male underwear is in desperate need of a revolutionary artist to come and reform its oversimplified design. Female underwear, on the other hand, is much more complex. There are a number of rights that determined feminists of the world strive for, but one of the basic ones is to feel comfortable in her own skin. I’ve seen the most hardcore feminists lose their shit over a designer coat, a flattering haircut, or a well-tailored piece of lingerie not because they are shallow, but because they understand the value of “the perfect fit”. The elegance of a well put together female (aka NOT Ke$ha) is inspiring, just as the boldness of an alluring underwear model is liberating. This fall, Agent Provacateur, a luxury lingerie company, released an add campaign for their Autumn/Winter 2011 line. It starred the always sexy Paz De La Huerta, scantily clad and getting herself into trouble. This video is not an advertisement- it’s more of a short slapstick film. One of the taglines was “A lady knows how to turn a fall into a rise.” Cleverly rendered. With this campaign, Agent Provacateur paid homage to the first Burlesque performers who used sex in the form of humor to challenge the traditional ways of seeing the world, which is what good art should do.
The Art of… Underwear? Words | Christine Bettis
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PSYCHOLOGICALLY LICENSED FOR SKILL Words Gina Tron
Central Fissure Broca’s Area
Frontal Lobe Visual Cortex
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cDonalds is the place to rock. It is a restaurant where they buy food to eat. It is a good place to listen to the music. People flock here to get down to the rock music.” These are lyrics from a song entitled, “Rock & Roll McDonalds.” One may assume that these comical lyrics are coming from a place of pure post-modernism and irony, but in reality these words have stemmed from the roots of severe mental illness. They are from the mind of the late Wesley Willis, an artist from Chicago, who developed a massive cult following. I can almost visualize the 6’6 300 pound artist sitting in McDonalds giddily making commentary on the establishment’s musical selection. Perhaps he consumed a hamburger while “Born In The USA” played, and the memory burned into his mind. Whatever inspired him to create this
McMasterpeice, I am ever so thankful as I have many fond memories of introducing this song to new friends and drunken boys in the wee hours of the morning. In addition to impressing people, I found the song oddly therapeutic; it always got me to laugh. I didn’t even know who Wesley Willis was. I was just thrilled that a song like this could exist. Once I discovered the legend that was Wesley, the song was no less entertaining, but I did ponder the morals of his success, and the fine line between exploitation and expression. Wesley was best known for his very abstract songs, the majority of which possess the same melody. Actually, for the most part, all of his songs were essentially the same song. The melodies of these punk rock creations were made with a Technics KN
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series, and they blend interestingly with Wesley’s ranting lyrics. Although the subject of the songs change, the structure does not alter much. The song title was virtually always the chorus. He sang about Alanis Morissette, Kurt Cobain, O.J. Simpson, KMFDM, whupping people’s asses, and about his mother smoking crack rock. He also sang about taking the bus and about Batman. Basically he created a song for virtually everybody and everything that was within his radar. Often the songs would be as comical as they were disturbing, talking about unsettling struggles with simple problems and making light of his seemingly horrendous past. When it came to his band-themed songs, they would often be based on Wesley’s personal experience with the particular musical group, which usually resulted in him singing about his attendance at a live show.
He would often incorporate bizarre and seemingly inappropriate lyrics. For example he introduced his ballad about Kurt Cobain with the following statement: “Alright, let’s rock it to Russia!” These unexpected lyrical twists were part of his charm. The songs that consisted of the more obscene lyrics were not made for shock value or humor, but rather served a specific purpose: to ward off demons. At age 26, he was diagnosed with severe chronic schizophrenia, and due to this infliction he suffered auditory hallucinations. These disruptive hallucinations came in the form of demons, of which he nicknamed “Heartbreaker,” “Nervewrecker,” and “Meansucker.” He claimed the trio harassed him, often by directing profanity at him. He also 14 had a name for his psychotic episodes, which he called “hell rides,” and rock music in addition to 15 the music he created to combat the “hell rides” he heartbreakingly named “joy ride music.” His most abstract and potentially offensive songs such as
sumed with cruel laughter. It raises the question if the majority of crowd goers purchased tickets to essentially laugh at a man for being mentally ill. Was the profitable performance merely a more modern acceptable version of a freak show that hid under a very thin veil of rock music? A guitarist who toured with Wesley argued that, "It's not frat boys coming to his shows and making fun of him; it's punk rock kids who appreciate that he sings stuff people are thinking." Perhaps it was a mixture of both and that is where the lines of appreciation and exploitation begin to get a little fuzzy. Unsurprisingly, the other band members had issues dealing with Wesley’s shifting moods, which is not atypical interaction behavior for a spotlight member of the group. Wesley reached an impressive level of fame and notoriety with his live tours, getting noticed by Rolling Stone and MTV. During interviews he would often attempt, and usually succeed to headbutt the journalist or host. He would
about Wesley called “Artist Of The Streets,” shot by Carl Hart before Wesley was recognized for shit, Wesley said he of his drawing: “I work on these lines everyday, just like grease lightning,” and “getting it er done, like a flock of geese headed south.” Due to his artwork and his eccentric yet gentle demeanor, he became a well known figure around Chicago. He was discovered by Dale Meiners, a local guitarist who spotted potential in Wesley’s drawings. Dale began assisting Wesley in his art sales, and eventually let him move in with him. He later utilized Wesley’s talents by asking him to collaborate and head The Wesley Willis Fiasco. This is the end result of Wesley witnessing Dale perform, which prompted Wesley to declare that he too wanted to become a rock star. Wesley later wrote a song about Dale, “Dale Meiners Yelled At Me.” If it weren’t for the initial charity of Dale, Wesley wouldn’t even have attained the basic needs of
"I can almost visualize the 6'6, 300 pound artist sitting in McDonalds giddily making commentary on the establishment’s musical selection." “Suck a Cheetah’s Dick” were created specifically to repel the demons. Clearly creating music of this nature was a coping mechanism for him, and hopefully relieved some of the anxiety that accompanied his mental illness. Wesley believed that profanity would repulse the demons, and to get them to stop tormenting him. Basically, he was composing “joy ride music” to cancel out the “hell rides.” This element of his artistic expression, once you get past the potential voyeuristic factor, is quite beautiful. His work helped him through the some of the effects of schizophrenia, or at least it appears that way. Most artists use their craft as an outlet for some sort of trauma, or pain, or impulse. Everyone has demons,and although they may not always come in the form of terrifying auditory hallucinations, battling them through art seems to be the most productive and effective way of coping. And, as Wesley was a monumentally more extreme case than the average artist, he created a more extreme amount of artistic arsenal, having produced approximately fifty albums and over two thousand songs. Most album covers were designed and drawn by Wesley. His style was dubbed by some as “savante-guarde” or “outsider art” but others considered it straight up exploitation. There were rumors of his money being mishandled, and it seems legitimately plausible that his diagnosis and eccentric behavior may have triggered dollar signs in people whose greed levels exceeded what they possessed in empathy. Wesley began his musical career by fronting a metal band called the Wesley Willis Fiasco, whose performances featured the bizarre and comical poetry and lyrics of Wesley. This typically delighted the crowd by inciting laughter. It was not uncommon to see frat boys at his shows, drowning in Heineken and con-
babble on about Jesus, and often tell the interviewer to go suck a dick, and sometimes escalate it to asking for his own dick to be sucked. Thus, it appears that sometimes his banter was no more intellectual or different than that of the typical homeless man struggling with schizophrenia. I get mild discomfort reading and watching these interviews, as they are usually intended to be funny. My discomfort is mixed with sincere admiration that he was able to get so far by being himself. He was fearless, and his fearlessness brought on fame. And exploited or not, this fame seemed to make Wesley genuinely satisfied and happy. Though, some say the fame of his musical career distracts people from his true and original talent: drawing. His original infamy can be attributed to him wandering the 1980s Chicago streets with a Casio keyboard purchased from KMart, a sketchpad, and a box of markers. He was homeless, and spent the majority of his days drawing and selling what he drew. He did this by necessity, and did his for many years. He was easily recognizable due to a massive circular scar on his forehead. This scar was a badge of sorts that he received by his method of welcoming friends and new associates;headbutting. He would spend his days selling line drawings that were of primarily of Chicago landscapes. He also focused on modes of transportation such as cars and buses. And he loved doing line drawings of buildings. Just like his music, he expressed what he saw as he perceived it. All his drawings contained an impressive amount of detail, and an impressive amount of truth. Apparently, he was in one train station and drew the interior of a different train station, completely from his memory. He spoke in a fragmented manner, using a lot of strange analogies to describe things. In an amateur documentary
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Maslow’s Heirarchy. And now, his artwork, the very drawings he sketched while he was living on the streets, are selling for hundreds of dollars. His 2002 “Lake shore drawing” went for 510 and on EBay some of his artwork is priced as high as 1,500 dollars. Post death, his drawings are now valuable collector’s pieces. Louis Wane is another artist who had became stricken with severe schizophrenia. He was an English artist who was known best in the early 1900s for his drawings of anthropomorphic cats. He illustrated hundreds of children’s books in addition to having his artwork featured in numerous newspapers and magazines. When he began developing mental health problems, he also unshockingly developed erratic behavior, leading his sisters to have him committed. His downward spiral into mental illness morphed his once naturalistic drawings and catty caricature into frightening monstrosities. He still drew cats, but as he got sicker, his cat drawings became increasingly psychedelic and borderline psychotic. Though, Its hard to imagine that Louis was ever really normal by societal measures. He did have an overbearing obsession with cats, even being the chairman of The National Cat Club in 1911. He was always slightly eccentric, at best. There are countless artists that were known for their eccentric behavior as much as their masterpieces. And, a lot of masterpieces were created in mental institutions. Picasso and Adolf Wolfli were also schizophrenic and created art of unquestionable importance and influence. These are all extreme examples, but as the scale of mental illness is as complex as analyzing artwork, its hard to say who is truly sick. But, in my opinion, mental illness to some degree is almost a require-
“Perhaps everybody is fucking deviant, and those who choose to express it are called artists.“
ment to produce anything worthy of analyzing. You can’t see something differently than the majority of society unless something about you is different to an extent. In order to inspire others to see the world differently which is the essence of true art, you must possess the tools essential to view and express yourself differently. Difference is deviance, and deviance more than often is perceived as some form of poor mental health. Therefore, most artists must possess some degree of society-deemed deviance or mild mental health diagnosis in order to produce art of any quality. These technical deviations often cross over into other aspects and ways of functioning. And, perhaps if one excels monumentally in one portion of the brain, another portion will be lacking. We all know people who are geniuses at computers, or can speed-read but lack the basic social skills to converse with the mailman. I know many people whose lack in social skills is made up for with an unbeatable talent. And, vice versa. This is also apparent if you decide to trip on acid. While intoxicated, you may find your brain piecing together age-old puzzles. Perhaps you will finally forgive your trigger happy ex boyfriend, and realize why you have been exhibiting certain behavioral patterns. You are deep in thought, your brain lighting up like an apocalyptic thunderstorm. Complex problems suddenly seem simple, but walking across the room and taking the cap off a jug of lemonade, not so much. The people in my life who had admitted to me that they were envious of my creativity were the same people who mocked my way of executing said creativity. They were repulsed by my organization skills and perhaps resented me for being able to accomplish something that looked seemingly easy
for me, when they could not accomplish the same after they felt they took the proper steps. What they did not grasp was that the same means that lead to bizarre behavior also lead to successful creations. They fail to see the correlation between me accomplishing multiple things at once with my inability to sit still. The reason I can excel at something artistically is most likely related to my struggles of purchasing a fucking apple at the grocery store. You can’t maintain a different thinking process and apply it soley to creative outlets. It bleeds over. The ability to express oneself differently usually means that they will be doing a few things differently and sometimes it isn’t always in manners that are particularly charming or award winning; perhaps just bipolarishly winning. Thus, the category of “outsider art’ that everybody seems eager to place individuals like Wesley in seems moderately condescending. Its as if to say, ‘look what somebody can create despite a genetic or mental deficiency,” when in actuality virtually all boundary pushing artists are what they are due to their “deficiencies.” Therefore most artists technically fit into the “outsider art” category. Deviance has such a negative connotation, as studies have proven that certain so-called mental disorders, bipolar disorder in particular, go hand in hand with genius and the artistic temperament. A recent book, “Touched With Fire,” discusses this topic, citing Van Gogh as one major example. I personally feel that even the most “normal” of artists have some sort of internal deviation, perhaps one they prefer to hide from the general public. Perhaps everybody is fucking deviant, and those who choose to express it are called artists. Perhaps we are all capable of creating art, if only we open certain floodgates within our minds. I guess that is why drawings by so-called sta-
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ble people whom possess moderately ordinary lives don’t often sell, or stick out. In order to be extraordinary, one must have lived an extraordinary life or have a brain that possess something that is unlike the majority, at least in the eyes of the majority. The age old conversation about the thin line between insanity and genius and between artistic abilities and emotional sickness is quite a cliche one. Unfortunately, studies and observations about the thin line between genius and insanity have created a gang of poseurs that desire to be authentic artists; people that lack creativity and feel that they should acquire emotional trauma or exaggerate their mild ADD as an infliction to exploit it as a tortured artist image. Now, that I am certain is pure exploitation. Its also as embarrassing to the art world as it is to society as a whole. When the mental status of somebody is noticeably more extreme than your run of the mill mild OCD case, people ponder if buying into their work is treating them like a sort of fascinating circus freak. This person is different therefore they are a novelty. I believe it is all mild exploitation to a degree, but that does not mean it is of a negative nature for the most part. It’s often for a purpose. When we are exposed to something that is new to us, a thought process or expression we are unfamiliar with, we learn. Seeing the world through the eyes of somebody who clearly views it differently then you can have a therapeutic and educational effect. We increase our knowledge and understanding about the human psyche, and what it and we all are capable of.
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Pig Island includes two pot bellied George Bush sculptures, each one ass ramming a pig, titled Train, Mechanical. First of all- making fun of George Bush is so 2007. Maybe if McCarthy pulled his head out of his ass for two seconds, he would realize there’s a new puppet running the show, and he is equally fun to mock. A sculpture of President Obama licking the testicles of Arturo Di Modica’sWall Street Bull…now that’s art that I would pay to see. Second of all, the only person who is allowed to make fun of George Bush is my oh-so democratic, working class father…and maybe Will Ferrell. Ass ramming may or may not be McCarthy’s favorite artistic medium; he has been sodomising for decades. In his 1976 overthe-top performance piece titled, Class Fool, he rolled around in ketchup, vomited all over the place, and sodomised himself with a Barbie doll until the audience walked out. To be fair, I think that Barbie had it coming to her, she was practically begging for it. Furthermore, I do enjoy the occasional proud wave of a freak flag, but this guy is desperately whipping his shit-stained flag all over town and hitting innocent civilians in the face with it. This man should not be making art. He should be directing pornographic films of the hardcore genre, starring your mother and her Barbie dolls.
Paul McCarthy and The Art of Sodomising Words | Christine Bettis
McCarthy also has a preference for working with inflatable material. Two of his most popular inflated works are Santa Claus with a Buttplug (Belgium, 2007) and Complex Shit (Switzerland, 2008). The latter consisted of; you guessed it, a gigantic brown mass of his bullshit. Shit literally got carried away by the wind, took down a power line and broke windows in both a greenhouse and a children’s home. Was it an accident? Or an artistic hoax, meant to symbolize that society’s bullshit is getting carried away. My guess is neither; McCarthy simply has a very unhealthy obsession with poo, and this was his grandiose way of flinging it. So…what does all of the blood, sodomisation, and bullshit mean? It has been said that McCarthy is out to undermine the idea of the “heroic male artist”. C’mon…we all know that artists aren’t heroic. Most artists can’t even handle criticism, let alone blows on a battlefield. Furthermore, if any artist happened to be worthy of said heroic title, it would probably be a female artist…specifically, Artemisia Gentileschi. That bitch was heroic as shit.
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aul McCarthy is an American artist who exhibits most of his work in Europe, because Americans, by nature, are less tolerant of pretentious bullshit than Europeans. His latest exhibition, Pig Island (Great Britain, 2011), is basically a series of installations and sculptures organized to resemble a cluttered film set. It is an unfinished, clownish representation of a twisted world inhabited by political and popculture figures. A silicone model of McCarthy, naked, bloody limbs severed and hair perfectly styled, sits on top of an elevated throne, overseeing all of the ridiculousness of his world. There are church pews available for moments of rest, just in case any members of the audience should feel overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.
Madame Peripetie Glenn Barr
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Brian Dettmer Andreas Englund Colby Katz Alexis Marcou L Filipe dos Santos Michael McConnell Mark Menjivar Todd Pavlisko Phonagraphy Mark Reigelman Ryan Schude Yaron Steinberg Shaun Smith Nov. - Dec. 2011
Madame Peripetie: 20 21
Master of Peripetie Words | Gina Tron
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n Greek, peripetie means “an adventure” or “a sudden change in the course of events, especially in dramatic works.” And Madame Peripetie is certainly taking people on an adventure with her super surreal and daringly dramatic works.
One may mistake her art as hyper-surrealist paintings or perhaps the finished product of a Photoshop guru. But believe it or not, Madame Peripetie is a mere photographer (well, not just a photographer), one who has been breaking boundaries with her outside-the-box thinking while breaking into the human psyche. Her human-horse hybrids and disco-ball faced characters look straight out of an LSD-induced nightmare, and many would fit in beautifully with the statues that decorate A Clockwork Orange’s Korova Milkbar. The surreal and sometimes dystopian atmosphere she creates is so intense, it’s mind-blowing to realize that no postproduction is involved. “Everything is done as you can see it.” All props and characters, from the bundles of bird feathers to the large airplane models, were either built or brought on set for the photographs. She spoke to me from her London apartment, which is made up of white walls and is more of a storage facility for her props than a properly decorated home. She understandably does not have the time to indulge in home decor, seeing how she is back and forth from England and Germany for work, and expects to be relocating again in the near future. She has received international exposure and recognition for her work recently, winning first prize in a number of photography com22 petitions including Px3 in Paris. She has been featured in a number of magazines and books including the re23 cently published “Not A Toy: Radical Character Design in Fashion and Costume.” Madame Peripetie’s childhood was quite the opposite of the colorful and fantastic world she creates in her photography. She was born Sylwana Zybura and grew up in the desaturated and colorless world that was communist Poland. As toys were scarce, this master of peripetie was forced to exercise her imagination early,
creating toys out of authentically organic objects. “The only thing to play with was to build castles out of sand and leaves.” The muted culture she lived in produced grocery shopping tales that blow any boring American shopping experience out of the water. The store aisles displayed products that only “had two colors, white and blue. It was always the same packaging.” She recalled the first time she went to Germany, when she became overwhelmed by the hundreds of varieties of Haribo jelly sweets. “It was like an explosion of color. I didn’t know it before.” This explosion left her gratefully shell-shocked, and she never wanted to return to the two colors of the Soviet, which explains her obsession with vibrancy, and her avoidance of the bland. “I can’t really see myself shooting black and white because I know how it was before. I know that monochrome world” She battled this monochrome world she was raised within with the weapon that is escapism. “Everything was very normal in Poland and very organized and structured and really very boring. I figured the really only way to escape it was with your imagination.” Like many children who were in need of an imaginary world to enter she turned to art, books, and movies. She submerged herself in the surrealistic work of Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali and fell in love with films that were character and costume heavy like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. She enjoyed “cyber-punk” novels by William Gibson and was enticed by science fiction, particularly any work that concentrated on the future of society. Cyborg beings interested her monumentally. “I love the idea of a robot and of a human, and of a hybrid of it.” Blade Runner was a big influence for a lot of her future work, her Warriors In The Dark series appearing to be a direct result of that. She was a self-proclaimed dark soul, and began to turn to delve into heavy metal, goth and new age subcultures at the ever so proper rebellious age of fourteen. “I was a little bit of an outsider and maybe a little too grown up for my age,” mentioning that although she was not opposed to attending parties and all the normal teen behavior, she felt it a waste of time.
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Her mom had a travel agency, allowing Sylwana to explore the world beyond the communist lens. “At 18 I went to Boston and I was there a year because I just wanted to see different cultures.” As time went on, she became more inclined to explore internationally and felt herself detached from the culture of her own country. “I’ve always wanted something more and i found Poland at that point in time very limiting and that’s why I left the country.” She does credit Eastern Europe as being a modern breeding ground for all sorts of creativity now, art rising from the ashes of banality. Because her parents felt that Sylwana should study something practical, she selected Linguistics. She received her masters degree in applied linguistics, but found the field unfulfilling. “At a certain point in time I decided its too boring and its not enough for me and I need something to express myself visually.” Because she cannot draw on her own account; her best penmen-ship being stick figures, she began to ponder exploring photography as an option. The skills she acquired from applied linguistics she wisely applied to her field of work now. She feels that the structure of language is similar to that of photography. ”Linguistics is about syntax, and syntax is about how sentences are built. And photography is about how you structure your picture. What are the compositions? What are the colors? Then there’s semiotics, which is about the meaning of the sentence, and its the same in photography...What symbols are you using to evoke certain emotions in people?” When Sylwana made the decision to go the photography route, she went into it knowing exactly the atmosphere she wanted to evoke in her photography, staying true to her science fiction roots. “I had always been interested in sculpture and this hybrid between human and robot, about science fiction and I knew that my photography would just go int this direction... There was never this discussion of me being like ‘Oh, what should I do? Is landscape better or is editorial better?” She applied to a school in Dortmund, Germa-
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ny and got in right away without an interview, which is atypical. “When I was just starting photography there were so many people who were shooting so monochrome and boring motifs but they told me that’s all they know and they told me they were afraid of exploring something more because they were afraid if they would succeed.” Throughout our conversation I really began to notice Sylwana’s repeated usage of the word, ‘monochrome,’ it becoming more and more apparent to me that her drab childhood must have had a profound impact on what she wants her art to be, and not be. The gravity of its effect I do not personally know, but there is no doubt in my mind that without her repressed youth, she would not have been able to create art that is so liberating and without boundaries. Boundaries were something that Sylwana bravely pushed in her photography which prompted class-
mates and professors alike to question her integrity, finding her work strange. She decided that she would not conform to simply pleasing the desires of her professors, but rather try to convince people that her work was quality. “I think I was the only one at school who was working with sculpture and with characters and no one really supported me. It was tough.” The lack of support led Swylana to even doubt herself at times, but she knew that in order to stand out and succeed in this field one had to remain true to their ideas. “For me its not about perfect lighting or super mega post production....You can always get people who can help you technically, you can always get people who can help you with lighting and you can always get people to help you with set design....The idea is the most important thing.” She continued to receive little emotional support, with the exception of one professor that saw her potential in her third year. This professor became a mentor for her, advising her that it was essential that
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Sylwana leave conservative Germany, explore the world and seek out constructive criticism. She did, and not only did she become quite the photographer, but a sculptor, art director and stylist as well. In the beginning she did all these jobs herself, but in time needed to hire set designers, stylists and others to help her bring her ideas to life. The props used range from cheap knick-knacks to hair purchased at African boutiques to just plain old cardboard, all of it is built around the models like a temporary sculpture. Sometimes she works at these short lived sculptures for days. “If you see it from behind, its pretty funny because everything is attached to the person. If the person moves, it all falls apart.” She never uses the same items more than once for a photograph, often destroying them thereafter, as she claims they lose their magic after the magic moment of which they are captured on camera. “Its about building this idea, this character, photographing it, and
most important is the photograph in the end.” It is also important that she gets to experiment during her art direction, the complete outcome of the photograph still remaining a mystery while in the constructive process. “80 percent of my shoot is set, but I need this 20 percent of experimenting to take the picture.” A lot of people that observe this experimentation process often will misperceive that Sylwana is unaware of what she is doing. Often, people will have these notions of how an art director is supposed to behave, and are confused when she does not fit the bill; but when the final result is revealed there is no question that there is a method to Madame’s madness. “I really like to work with real props and real textures and that’s why everything is real in my pictures.” She uses a lot of hair and flowers into her work, creating fantastical texture. Her Dream Sequence and Dream Sequence II series really utilize this, showcasing a man with hair flowing out of a monocle and a woman that looks like a extraterrestrial flower-child rendition of Princess Leia. “I think flowers are for me like dreams. because dreams are very short, and you very quickly forget what you dreamed about. With flowers you can only use for picture and they are also gone. They live for a very short time, and its also like with my sculptures. They live for the photos, and when the picture is taken they fall apart.” The two Dream Sequence series often get mistaken for paintings due to their two-dimensionality, and extravagant incorporation of bizarre props. “These kinds of projects I like to do with friends, because they don’t mind. You can’t take a model and say, ‘oh take a bunch of hair in your mouth.’” She took on the name Madame Peripetie, for as a Linguist she enjoyed the word peripetie and its meanings. The name started as a bit of a joke, yet became a sort of alter ego for her, and sparked interest from others. “People don’t even know me by Sylwana anymore.” She was able to transform her name into something dripping with mystique and glamour. Which is similar to what she has done in her Pughatory series, where she takes everyday objects and glamorizes them with the surreal context she creates. “The sculpturally extended anthropomorphic figures, combined with inanimate matter, create a new world of unexpected bizarre juxtapositions and dantesque compositions.” The project shows Madame’s interpretations of job occupations such as “plumber” with plungers mimicking ears for the subject. The subject of the photograph entitled ‘personal assistant’ looks like the product of a romantic evening between a chair and a human, the face of the character being a triangular machine-line mass engulfed in blonde hair. Madame Peripetie claims this particular photograph is “about being reduced to your appearance, you’re like a machine. You can see that she is like a machine, rolling around the office.” It was influenced by a friend of hers who was assisting a photographer and, was referred to only as ‘blondie’, unlike the boys in the office who were addressed by name. It’s also one of her many series where her underlying humor is apparent. “Its like a small smirk, yeah.” The title, pugh-atory is a combination of ‘purgatorio’ from the Divine Comedy of Dante Aligieri and Gareth Pugh, a British fashion designer who focuses on sculptural aspects. Fashion designers such as Comme Des Garcons, Walter Van Beirendonck, Alexander McQueen, Raf Simons and Yamamoto who also incorporate sculpture into their designs were the main fashion inspirations for Madame Peripetie. She could give a fuck less about the latest trends, and she mostly sticks to wearing black as to not distract from with the high volume of elaborate costumery she works with. She does, however have orange hair. “Its a very unusual color so everyone on the street is tuning around all the time, even
in London.” Due to her stylized works, its no surprise she is of interest to fashion designers, and she works with them often. She produced some stunning photography for the Berlin-based Maga e Mago, an accessory designer that specializes in leathers and furs. She also collaborated with fashion and costume label Tata Christiane, whom “proposes an absurd and disturbing vision of beauty” (QUOTE IS FROM TATACHRISTIAE. COM) Madame Peripetie was inspired by Tata Christiane’s clever texture combinations. “She puts fabrics together that don’t go together really, but they work.” Madame Peripetie was obsessed with birds for the moment so the collaboration produced a work appropriately entitled Birds, a stunning set of feathered femme fatale characters. All the characters she creates are a blend of influences from her dreams, music, film, and comic books. She also cites strong iconic figures of the past, particularly from the eighties. She feels that its something we lack in society currently. “We have all these social networks and you can have everything with one click... but we don’t have icons really.” Madame Peripetie’s surreal imagery gets compared to the style of current pop icon Lady Gaga quite a bit (I’m sure the hair-bow sponge topping off her kitchen appliance creature for Pugh-atory doesn’t help!) ,a comparison that Madame Peripetie is not fond off. “She’s not a novelty, she’s just taking old ideas and kind of blending them together.... You know her meat dress? It was done in the sixties.” Madame Peripetie feels that people are shocked by Gaga’s provocations only because people are products of an over stimulated culture, one in which the masses generally gather their information from the Internet. “I think she[Gaga] is mirroring what is now today, that we are also hybridizing our ideas, a bit from here and a little bit from there and mingling everything together you know on Internet.” Often, people would tell Madame Peripetie that her photography reminded them of something but they Nov. - Dec. 2011
couldn’t pinpoint what. It was then that she began researching Freud and his idea about Archetypes, the visual knowledge that we are all inborn with. Thus, archetypes became the main theme explored for her Sight Of Transgression series. She began playing with the symbols and colors that we as people are instinctively programmed to react to. She created a project that addresses “the recoding of the body according to the collective unconscious and mythical symbolism” creating “a number of fictitious characters that unite within themselves diverse semantic interpretations.” The result is both breath-taking and nightmarish, her study of archetypes proving successful as each photograph invokes such contradicting strong feelings form one to another, tapping into the subconscious of the those who absorb her art. For Sight Of Transgression she also collaborated with a sound designer for the first time, creating a soundscape for the series. “Every time you flick through the book you hear music or a certain kind of sound.” She enjoyed this new edition to her work, and wants to up the ante in the near future by creating a film or video. “I think it would be really good to see these characters move.” Upping the ante, probably a necessity for a mind like Madame Peripetie’s, the type that is bored with the banality of everyday life and perhaps frustrated with the limitations of it. The work she creates gives her a much-needed rush of adrenaline that for the time being diffuses her boredom. Despite her accelerating success, she remains a mysterious character herself, as deep and quirky as the ones she designs. “I’m still a dark soul. I like it really. I think happy is boring.”
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here is a voyeur in all of us. Glenn Barr draws that voyeur out of you and pats it on the back, all the while nodding in approval behind the scenes. Glenn Barr makes you feel good about having a look. It’s because of Barr’s ease in eliciting an audience and drawing in the outliers that makes folks both desire and covet his pieces. Mr. Barr is haphazardly modest about his talent and is cavalier about the effect his pieces have on the homogenous. It doesn’t seem Barr knows you live in a synthetic environment. Even though you will forever be the outlier of Barr’s pieces he has no problem issuing you a pass and to let you get by those art bourgeois gate keepers for a few gos.
B A RR
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www.glbarr.com Words | Elizabeth Price
“I should paint like a man whom has never seen a painting.”Philip Guston
29 Barr isn't wielding a moral compass in order to map the passion in his pieces. And for that you should give thanks not to be stuck in a mass produced Thomas Kincaid mall painting or your friends oft replicated Campbell’s soup can hanging on his beige living room wall next to his girlfriend’s sconces. You should think of Barr’s art as a tool and instrumental in challenging ideas around social constructions of what art can and can’t be in addition to all the different ways women and power dynamics can be represented.
The German philosopher Theodor Adorno once said, “Life does not live.” For those folks who find themselves pedestrian and stationary, and to Adorno, I offer Glenn Barr and Barr’s world of dripping asphalt and Aquanet measured by the Fisher Car oil pressure gauges of Detroit’s seediest characters and the voyeurs who drive in from safe and knowing suburbs full of BMW’s and housewives. Looking at Barr’s art you might encounter something described as that of a film coming over you. Similar to the just crispy skin you feel when you’re about to fall asleep after a day in the sun. Warm to the touch and alive- alive being the key word. For the art set I offer a break from convention. Glenn Barr does not stand up to be counted with all the rest. It isn’t so much that Barr’s work is novel or didactic. It just doesn’t follow the same formulaic path that seems to limit “low brow” artists or as it is referred to nowadays: Pop Surrealism. A large portion of Low Brow art is comic and hot rod infused art. While it is generously satirical it also comes off as arbitrary. Barr's art plays outside of these parameters, going beyond bug eyed leering characters sitting in front of velvet garage sale lighted beer signs and odious alley cats. Nov. - Dec. 2011
Unspoken doctrines come out in Barr’s pieces. They tend to remind one of seeing Hooper’s NightHawk or Gas Station for the first time. A macabre feeling or one of a type of pleasure you’ve only read of teasing the next minute passing on a watch or clock. With Barr’s pieces you’re not sure if you’re on the cusp, if you’ve just missed something, or are witnessing something illicit or lawful. Perhaps someone even is about to get his or her ass handed to them right as you watch. The pieces drag you in and demand that you ask more of the scene. Often times incendiary, and at best visceral, Barr’s pieces always beg the question: What happened in the stretch between the how and the why? Vaguely sexual, often sad, and almost always gritty Barr’s pieces leave the unrequited and requited arguing over who can take whom home. There the voyeurs, those outliers, are caught and happily powerless. Barr was born and raised in the Detroit suburb of Livonia. Take a look at any year census survey of that city and its numbers depict a population that is glaringly hetero and white. How does one escape strip malls and cul-de-sacs to produce stirring works of art that showcase people of color and gender bending sexuality be damned femmefattales? Television is Barr’s explanation. Long before it was cool to be “Imported from Detroit” Barr was rocking out in bands all over the city. This lead to him honing his art skills on promotional materials like flyers and album covers. Before long Barr was in the throes of animation and designing ads for various weekly magazines in the Detroit area. After various illustration jobs in NYC followed by a short stint in Los Angeles working on the The Ren and Stimpy show Barr returned home to Detroit to settle in and hone his painting skills. Blessed are thee who don’t forget home sweet home. And now back to that power dynamic woman thing. There is no arguing the abundance of women in Barr’s pieces. Looking at Barr’s art though a heteronomative lens you would be pressed to believe, as some do argue, that the women in Barr’s pieces appear to be oppressed and objectified. But if you take off the aforementioned lens there is no denying the power of the women in his paintings. The infectious women coax and nurse you to take longer and harder looks. They know you don’t want to appear rude and holding this knowledge exploit your curiosity, envelop you and draw out that dormant missionary style twice a week voyeur. They hold the interest, the power and before you know it your begging for more. Begging sheepishly because society tells you to be ashamed to yearn for a bit of the illicit passion Barr paints so easily and leaves you hoping in proportion that it exists somewhere so that you can seek it out to be shaken down again and again. Putting the Copernican Revolution lens on it appears that the viewers of Barr’s art, not the women in the pieces, are the ones being exploited and pleasurably so. Count me among the ones that are enjoying the exploitation of norms and eagerly awaiting for what comes next from Barr’s genius. Barr’s recent successful exhibit at the La Luz De Jesus Gallery in Los Angles showcased both new paintings and a newly published book titled “Faces”. For this show Barr painted works directly onto scavenged lumber taken from Detroit’s propitious array of empty fields and abandoned houses. Barr is currently preparing for an upcoming show in Italy in addition to laboriously musing crossing the Pacific and letting the Japanese in on his brilliant acrylic theater. Check out his website to score some nice swag and get info about upcoming events and exhibitions.
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Words | Gina Tron
rian Dettmer, otherwise known as “The Book Surgeon” is respected worldwide for his alteration of pre-existing media, and respected by me for turning my detached self into a stuttering school girl. His work has been exhibited across the globe and he has been featured on media outlets like NPR and the CBS Evening News. Brian, the product of an engineer father, was raised in a suburb outside Chicago. “Nobody was really interested in art, basically everyone was interested in sports.” Brian was though, telling me he always knew he was destined to become an artist. He was interested in surrealist art and “Beat Generation” poets in high school before studying Fine Arts at Colombia College. While studying he worked at a sign shop doing fabricating and graphic design, and on his own began creating art, such as large paintings of visual braille, that was already exploring ideas of language and the “dichotomy of the way language looks and the actual information it contains.” Soon he “started applying newspapers, and eventually book pages to the canvas and I liked that idea of actually having that information on the surface, even though it wasn’t really legible, it was just the texture of it.” He was always interested in Tom Hawkingson’s art, and found the early work of Tom Friedman along with Tony Fitzpatrick and Buzz Spector to be inspiring.
“Buzz Spector has worked with books and is kind of known for that but, so I liked the idea of people working with books but I came across it a different way and have a totally different approach” He also mentioned that Natural History is a major influence in his work. He evolved from ripping up book pages to apply to a canvas to turning the books into the primary canvas, using tweezers, knives, and surgical tools to dissect them. Its a process he describes as a sort of metaphor for reading. “I had a lack of control over knowing what was going to happen next , but I could respond to what was going to happen.” He does not move or implant anything within the books but rather just removes layers. Sometimes he will have a vague idea of the message he wants to convey beforehand, but typically themes will emerge as he in the middle of his project. When completed his work looks as if “the hand [was] sort of invisible, although it clearly had to be carved by hand; but it almost looks like some kind of scientific method or a virus that kind of attacked the book.” He primarily works with out-dated dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and textbooks reincarnating relevance in an object now deemed obsolete, and turning a form created for linear reading into fragmented text . He does occasionally work with fiction, though its usually provoked by an art curator for an exhibit such as his contribution of a cut up Brave New World
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to for a show called “Banned and Recovered” for the San Francisco Center for Book Arts. When cutting up fiction, he usually will listen to the audio book version while working on its traditional predecessor. He is also known for his welding of melted cassette tapes to create sculptures of human and animal skulls and flowers. His multi-piece project “Altered States” involved dissected geographical maps and showcased highway systems which he altered to resemble veins of a body. I asked him about copyright issues, keeping in mind that a decent proportion of his books used probably fall under fair usage. He said its never been a problem, “ but I’m also not working with the most recent Disney book, but that wouldn’t be interesting to me anyway.” The reproductions of his work, such as his custom sculpture he designed for an Elk City album cover which he made in just a week, may be more susceptible to legal issues. He tells me he’s received a minimal amount of criticism about his work in general, but says “if nobody was raising any questions I would be a little concerned.” When he isn’t in working in his beautiful sun room turned home studio in his suburban Atlanta home, he is spending time with his wife and two year old daughter. When he does read, he also tends to stick to non-fiction, often delving into science texts or lighthearted comedic memoirs, citing authors like Chuck Klosterman. And, he reads them in the traditional book form.
Words | Tara McEvoy
hen you think of a superhero, what springs to mind? Batman, Spiderman, Superman perhaps? Nothing could be further from Andreas Englund’s concept of what it is to be a superhero. The Swedish artist has devoted his latest collection to tackling society’s preconceived ideals, with his depiction of an aging figure in a role traditionally occupied by only the most youthful of models. Where did he derive influence for the body of work, I ask? With regards to other artists, he replies, his greatest influences were, ‘Edward Hopper (I think that can be seen in my paintings), Anders Zorn and Carl Larson... some people say my work reminds them of pop art and maybe that has to do with my background coming from the advertising business.’
problems in life; whether you´re rich or poor, strong or weak. It´s how you react to your situation that counts. It´s a fantastic feeling, sharing experiences through art. I want to make pieces that communicate stories – I like to play with prejudices’. Thus, he hopes people from all walks of life will be able to relate to his protagonist, a champion of diversity flying in the face of a society obsessed with perfection. The character himself was based upon Englund’s father, something which the artist feels to have added an extra dimension to his collection: ‘I think that made me treat the character with more love and care than if
His background, too, proves to have been heavily influential in how he has chosen to relay his character’s story: ‘Working as an Art Director was the natural choice for me at first. It gave me the tools to understand and analyze what makes people connect. To share insights and thoughts, experience and humour’. Furthermore, Englund feels that his two passions (art and advertising) can exist in harmony as great forces in his life, both relying as they do on ‘common themes of storytelling and communicating’. Aside from his profession, then, from which other creative sources does he derive inspiration? His location, perhaps? ‘To be honest’, the Swede admits, ‘I´d say that I´m not that interested in Stockholm’s art scene, but when it comes to Stockholm as a location of inspiration, I love it. It´s a small town, but there are a lot of creative people here’. The most bemusing influence for the new collection, however, is a certain Mr. Charlie Sheen – or rather, his ideology. Englund admits having been particularly enthused when reading a particular quotation of Sheen’s: ‘Can’t is the cancer of happen’. Evidently, such negativity was not an issue for a man who could spend ‘up to 250 hours’ perfecting a single piece. His favorite painting of his latest series is the simply titled ‘Shopping’, in which he juxtaposes a pimped-out Batmobile style vehicle with a lycra-clad senior citizen stooping over his dropped groceries, to great comic effect. Irony itself plays a key role in the collection, with the artist acknowledging his conscious decision to paint ‘contemporary motifs in a traditional style’. Was the series intended as a form of social commentary, I wonder? The answer is yes – to an extent. ‘With age comes experience and wisdom’, reflects Englund, ‘and I think countries like Sweden have to take better care of those assets, otherwise it will be very tough for us in the future.’ Age, however, isn’t his only concern. As he explains throughout the course of our interview, he’s primarily concerned with the notion of perfection. ‘I think it´s about telling the tale of a person who is considered to have ”the perfect life” – and sees that the truth is far from it [perfect]’, he muses. ‘Everyone shares the same
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had he been just an old guy I didn´t know. Although he is a fictional figure, at the same time, he’s my father. He´s also been like a hero for me, so it has a special meaning’. As the future of his elderly superhero? ‘His story is far from being fully told and there are a lot of motifs, not painted, that will give more answers to who the character behind the mask really is’, concedes the painter. In the meantime, we’ll just have to hazard a guess as to the true identity of the masked crusader. Our best bet? He’s a brilliant bundle of contradictions, just like his creator.
Words | Kim Kunoff
hotographer Colby Katz doesn’t judge. That’s not her job. Her job is to take pictures that provide clues to a story that you really want to hear. She turns her unflinching documentarian’s lens toward uncomfortable subjects, exposing the exaggerated and absurd nature of contemporary life. She finds the commonplace within the strange, that point of entry that gives a viewer insider status. Her work has appeared in books, magazines and has been internationally exhibited at such spaces as The National Portrait Gallery in London, FOAM Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam, and The Lennox Contemporary in Toronto. In 2004, she participated in the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. Colby was selected by Photo District News as an Emerging Photographer in 2005, and in 2006, the Magenta Foundation also awarded her this title.
Katz grew up with the camera; her family had more than their fair share of amateur photographers, and her father kept her in steady supply of Polaroid cameras. While attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, she interned for radio documentarian David Isay, who she came to regard as her dol.” “[Through him,] I saw first hand what it meant to really respect your subjects. The outgoing message on 32 his answering machine said something to the point of, operator, if this is a collector call, I will accept it. If any 33 of his subjects needed him, he wanted to make sure he could be reached (these were the pre-cellphone days). A decade later I would bet a million dollars he would still take any collect call from any of the people that have let him in to their lives. He instilled in me the importance of respect and friendship. When I’m working on a long term project, I become much more than just a photographer to my subjects. I become their friend.” Coming up as a young photographer, Katz had to support her projects by working as a newspaper photographer, a male-dominated field that forced her to develop a tough persona and a fearless commitment to the perfect shot. “Being short, like a few inches away from being a technical midget short, and female made it tough in the beginning. It wasn’t uncommon for guys to push me out of the way either with their elbows or
lenses to get a good vantage point or to walk by and turn off the battery pack to my flash. I learned to put on a game face. No smiling and strong stances so you can’t be pushed to the side. Fear and personal safety are mild considerations. On the other hand, when I’m not working, I prefer my bicycles with three wheels and drive like a grandma.” “I had a shoot earlier this year at a venom lab and when one of the most poisonous snakes in the world was brought out, I didn’t hesitate to get as close as I could. One bite from this particular snake could emit 10 times the lethal amount of venom. At one point the snake went in to striking pose because he was bothered by the sound of my camera and instead of just standing still and not taking any pictures until he was secured, I fired off a few more shots since now, the snake was posed so great. It was incredibly stupid of me to do. I completely comprehended the worst case scenario and risks but when the moment was there for the picture I wanted, nothing else mattered. Last week I followed around some guys alligator hunting from airboats. After the first one was caught, I found myself straddling two airboats to get a good picture. I don’t know if I’m brave or just stupid! There was bait in the water and I wasn’t holding on to a railing. Yet, I don’t think of myself as brave at all. When I’m working on a personal project or an assignment, I’m just focused on getting the best picture possible.” To place Katz, one might think such women photographers as Sally Man, Rineke Djikstra, and Clare Strand, all of whom have explored the complexity of girlhood and who also assume a deceptively cool objectivism behind their cameras. Little girls are spraytanned and coiffed by proud beauty pageant mothers in her “Darling Divas” series, while “Forever Babies” documents lifelike dolls created to commemorate the death of an infant much like the 18th-century postmortem photographs taken as keepsakes. In the “Backyard Fighters” series, she documents Miami’s illegal backyard fights with a chilling clarity--men are pummeled, lying facedown, bloodied, while onlookers stand by casually. The honesty of her shots are a result of her truly connecting with the people she’s photographing. “Without asking for anyone to be my bodyguard or look-out at the backyard fights in Miami, it just naturally happened. I’d feel someone’s hand behind me as I’d get thrown back when a fighter was pushed in my direction and there’d
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always be someone there to hold me up so I didn’t fall or to walk me to my car if they didn’t think it was safe (different fights attracted different crowds and gangs). Some of the fighters, many of which are convicted felons, sent me text messages on mother’s day.” She comes by her subjects by listening and always being interested in what she hears. “ I learned about the middle class backyard fighters from hanging out at arcades talking to kids.” “It breaks my heart when I see people unfairly judging others. If I were to connect this to my work, I could use the rabbit hunting series as an easy example. The typical reaction I get is something like, ‘oh how terrible.’ But if they only knew the whole picture and understood the poverty that exists in the two neighboring towns that it goes on in, I think they wouldn’t be so harsh in their comments. It’s a similar situation with my backyard fighters. These guys didn’t grow up in the suburbs with white picket fences. They’re in one of the highest crime areas of Miami and if you’re a guy, you’re either known for how good you are at basketball or how well you fight. It might not be your reality or mine, but it’s theirs. On top of that, most are convicted felons and can’t find a job to help support them or their family, so they fight for money to help make it through another day.”
Words | Kevin Adams
rt is like love…you never know when it is finished,” confides Alexis Marcou, a free-lance illustrator who determines inspiration to be both excitement and risk. And if his art is an interpretation of the transformative, we can see in his multifaceted work a fragmentation, a shattering effect resulting from shading and errors in proportion. There are dimensions of his style that he deems, “expressive, minimal, and vibrant, with complex design and distorted lines that take their influence from Cubism.” A kaleidoscope view of his subjects reveals the intrinsic force in man to dissemble our reality and the inherit nature to piece together a cosmology that makes sense of our world. Shaking and reshaping the foundation of his interpretations, a pencil. Marcou has been working as an illustrator since 2007, with clients that include Nike, Cisco, and HewlettPackard. But like most illustrators, Marcou started out drawing comics. As a child in Larissa, Greece, his influence was a Japanese cartoon character named Ninja Boy. “I wanted to be Ninja Boy when I was young. It was my dream job!” Though being a ninja didn’t exactly work out for him, he followed his passion for drawing to University of Plymouth (College of Art and Design) where he completed a BA in ‘PhotoMedia and Design Communication’. Now a “grown-up” at 27, I asked Marcou if clients’ demands are stifling or if they add to his creativity? He responded candidly, “I never know but sometimes ideas or experience [from the client] need time to manifest in me, like ingredients cooking.” He is compelled to experiment but wants to implement his style until the work “transforms”. “Inspiration is excitement and risk.” Marcou explains, “What I call a twist is important with each one. Recently I’ve experimented with make-up and a make-up brush for shading and other mediums such as air to blow graphite not touching the paper, no fingerprints on paper.” This recent development in style “manifested” while working on a poster, ‘‘The Snow Queen,'' for a play for Subplot Studio. “I am grinding my own graphite and using a very fine make-up brush for shading so not to touch the paper.” He reiterates not touching the paper, and I asked if this is a developing philosophy but he responded that in this case, “philosophy comes after necessity.” It’s a more practical approach; it was the only way to get the shading and transitions he needed. When I prodded him to speak on contemporary artists that influence him, he shared, “many artists have influenced me, but four of them are David Downton, Omar Ortiz, Matthew Leader, and Yoji Shinkawa. Each artist influenced me in different ways. For example Yoji creates a lot of motion with his pencil work.” Color, too, is a recent development due to necessity, but he admits, “Sometimes I am challenged to respectfully incorporate David Downton or other influences.”
Marcou has a positive influence on others also. Designers Against Child Slavery is a Design Collective that enables creatives from all over the world to rise up against the sex trade. “I was invited to join the group by the founder John Mark Herskind and as I believe the purpose is of great importance, I joined.” The shows had great acceptance and are raising money for charity, a good cause. His philanthropy doesn’t end there, as he humbly explained, “Currently, I am also working on an illustration for Pencils of Promise which is for charity for the people in Thailand who were affected by the floods. We hope to help open new schools in Thailand.” Offhand, as the interview was ending, I asked him if he could illustrate any person (fictional/non-fictional) in history, who it would be. “Mick Jagger!” Marcou didn’t think twice. In fact, his voice elevated to a child-like excitement as he told me he was already working on the illustration! Even better, Pork and Mead Magazine could have the “first exclusive look, but it is only half finished.” Ninja Boy may have been his dream job, but it is clear that he loves illustrating. This November, Marcou will be in Cosenza, Italy, to participate in an exhibition about the collective tales of Paolo Rumiz. Alexis Marcou’s portfolio is multifaceted and complex, focused into a shattering effect. To view his work, please visit: http://alexismarcou.com
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Words | Whitney Meers
s a kid, Michael McConnell wanted to be a veterinarian when he grew up. Today, the artist, who now resides in San Francisco but is originally from Detriot, seems to have translated his early notions of working with animals into something incredibly poignant, creating images that tell stories extracted from faint memories of a difficult childhood. “I felt like an overly independent kid,” he says. “I think a lot of my work reflects this.” And indeed it does, as is illustrated by his images of animal heads on children’s bodies and the sculptures he creates using discarded stuffed animals in a form he calls “faux taxidermy.” The paintings project an intensity that that stems from the strength of the jarring notion of seeing the wild creature’s head on a human form, while the sculptures seem to offer a compelling glimpse into the psychological trauma of McConnell’s lonely childhood. Both the paintings and the sculptures offer a vivid narrative of childlike innocence, framed within the context of a grisly world around the artist. McConnell doesn’t actually remember much of his childhood; rather, he uses his artwork to help express the pieces that are missing, the things that he can’t recall. The child of a difficult divorce, his parents put him in art classes as a child, and this lead to a path that would inspire him to create art in order to better make sense of the world around him.
children, they are seen by adults in a certain light. “As children, we’re taught things and as adults we’re never taught to question them,” he says. He believes that when people are young, they are conditioned to establish meanings in items, words and actions, and are never taught that there might be bigger ideas beyond those parameters.
Bouncing around the idea of a possible residency, McDonnell still doesn’t know precisely what the next steps are for him or his career. “I’m in a transition period all-around,” he says. He is presently finding himself immersed in the notion that people are their own obstacles, a theme that shows through in the artwork he’s producing now and will likely continue to influence his work as he continues to grow as an artist. “I think that may be what I’m working toward,” he says.
"I think that often it’s not totally spelled out what’s going on,” he says of his work. It’s true; while his imagery seems to have an intrinsic charm and even a playfulness at times, the work is goes much deeper once the viewer takes a moment to scratch the surface. In art school, some of his work left him the subject of criticism by his peers. He recalls an experience that occurred while he was in school, when his assignment was to remain silent as others critiqued his work. His work for that class, which to him represented complex 34 emotions based on the feeling of never having a baby brother after his mother’s choice to have an abortion, 35 was the subject of intense scrutiny by a classmate. “I didn’t like what she said. It make me realize that to talk about certain things, I had to be conscious of my own imagery,” he says. However, sitting back and listening to others’ reactions to his work became a sort of cognitive exercise that forced him to focus on how others perceive the messages within his art. “I’m a really shy and awkward person, but I love sitting and watching other people,” he says. “Not allowing the artist to speak, you could see what other people think.” To him, his artwork is a type of dialogue between intrinsic and extrinsic factors in his life, a collective of thoughts and emotions that reflect his impressions of his past and the ever-changing world around him. “No one will always know what’s going on, what you’re thinking,” he adds. This is especially true with his faux taxidermy. To him, the images reflect a broader idea that when people are Nov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Alaina Latham
emember the old saying; “you are what you eat” well photographer Mark Menjivar captured just that. Raiding people’s refrigerators and snapping the contents Menjivar desired to illustrate if there is any truth to the old adage. Hailing from San Antonio, TX, Menjivar doesn’t even walk around with camera. “When I was growing up, I was never in the arts at all. I actually studied social work and I would pick up a camera every now and then.” Stepping away from the norms and finding his own path with his work, Menjivar is here to give a message with his work and make sure that it is seen and heard. “Photographing for me is very intentional act; I work very slowly and shoot with the old school 4x5 cameras.” The photographer, himself, is a work of art. He traveled throughout parts of the world and saw how people outside were living. The difference of living was magnificent and that frustrated him a bit enough to want to do something about it. “My social lens I viewed the world through was completely shattered. Coming back from South Africa, I saw a photography book and fell in love with the medium.” “I became infatuated with photography and like many people who get infatuated with something; I just up and quit my job.” Menjivar made it his passion to become a photographer for the world and to bring social issues to the light. There are so many mediums that can be used to show what the world is truly going through and fortunately for the art lover, Menjivar’s photographs show just that. “I put a lot of effort into making the photograph be beautiful.” Menjivar’s, You Are What You Eat series is one of those works where it is more than meets the eye or the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The series
was the first major project that he worked on. There is an underlying meaning to the series other than just the interior of people’s refrigerator. “One night I walked in my kitchen and opened my refrigerator door, stood there for a moment and then closed the door. I was like, gosh, why don’t I just take a picture of the refrigerator.” Menjivar explains that he did 10 sets of portraits where he photographed the refrigerator then took a portrait of the person putting the photographs side by side. Unfortunately that concept didn’t sit well with him. “When I laid them all out, side by side the project was really becoming about judgment. There is a lot of diversity in the project and judgment is not a hook for
me so I threw out the work and started over again.” Focusing more on the portrait rather than the person the project began to evolve into the amazing exhibition that it is now. One would think approaching a random person and asking if they can take a picture of their refrigerator would be an odd offer but people actually went along with Menjivar. Traveling through 23 states, talking to people and taking pictures, Menjivar was grateful for the accomplishment and ready to show that art is actually everywhere. “I would try to find some way to start a natural conversation with them, tell them who I was, what I was doing and the reason why I was passionate about food issues. Then I would invite them to do the project with me. I asked 70 people and two or three said no.” There is more to photographing a refrigerator’s content to Menjivar. The meaning of this exhibition to him is about world hunger and the food crisis. “I wanted people to be thoughtful about where their food is coming from, what’s happening to the land and what our responsibility is.” He wants people to know that not only are people starving in third-world countries but there are people experiencing hunger in the US. The exhibit is an immaculate perception of the food that is being consumed and stored by the average person. There is obviously more than meets the eye. If you’re wondering what Menjivar’s refrigerator looks like, no problem I asked. “I have a pot of chicken stew, olives, bread, almond milk, beer and all the other condiments.”
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Words | Hannah Palmer Egan
t 10:00 p.m on a Thursday night, I’m camped out on a TriBeCa barstool next to Todd Pavlisko, an NYC based mixed-media artist. The streets are wet with rain which may have fallen earlier today or days ago, but that’s how it is in the City this time of year: wet, or reminiscent of being wet yesterday or the day before, or tomorrow. Pavlisko and I exchange stories of run-ins with Italian swindlers, George Bush, pelts and guns. The conversation didn’t start this way; it took us a couple hours to get here, or perhaps “billions and billions” of years, in the words of Carl Sagan—a central figure in Pavlisko’s most recent show and one of the artist’s many idols. The show, titled “All of Nothing,” closed in July at Samsøn, a gallery in Boston. It hinged heavily on portraits of public figures like Richard Pryor, Steven Hawking, Sagan, etc., but to call the works “portraits,” misses the point almost entirely. A Pavlisko portrait, while expertly rendered in perfect photo-realism in whatever media he chooses (oil paint, pencil, marble, plastic tag fasteners), is not an end in itself but a channel for questions, thoughts and commentary. The characters personify human struggles, or puzzles, which Pavlisko juxtaposes with other characters embodying other struggles, pinning struggle on struggle and begging even larger questions. The show grows upon and into itself. This approach is somewhat Socratic in scope but generally straightforward to look at: a dizzying combo if you’re one to think about art, which Pavlisko’s work demands. In one diptych, Pavlisko hung two paintings opposite each other in the gallery. One contained an image from Hieronymus Bosch’s “Cutting the Stone;” an oft-cited old-world allegory for managing madness. The other included a painting of Richard Pryor’s 1974 album cover, “That Nigger’s Crazy.” Above the Bosch image, Pavlisko inscribed Pryor’s title in gold leaf, using 13th century techniques. Above Pryor’s image is Bosch’s title in the same lettering. An unlikely pairing. Look past the gold-on-black Flemish flourish and gothic calligraphy and Pavlisko’s tension toward conventional ideas of genius, insanity and control reveals itsself. Seeing “That Nigger’s Crazy,” painstakingly scripted in gold over Bosch is unexpected and visually jarring. These pieces confront a cruel 36 human history, which for centuries objectified human life (trading “niggers” for gold), paired with the modern 37 commoditization of celebrity. Not so simple, particularly since the two pieces are turned on their heads by the title exchange. Take that one to art history class.
minded me of Warhol’s giant Mao at the MoMA: round a corner in a particular gallery and Mao stops you in your tracks, staring you down. The Pryor piece had a similar effect. After some flabbergasted babble, I managed, “Really, this thing should be at the MoMA!” Pavlisko was thrilled at the thought “I hope so!” he exclaimed earnestly. Ambitious though he is, “I can’t do anything alone,” Pavlisko says. His ideas require more work than one man can do alone, but he also seems to enjoy the collaborative effort. Even with two assistants, he put in 18 hour days for 13 months to complete All of Nothing.“I’m cool with overkill,” he says. It works gloriously, and he doesn’t seem to mind the personal sacrifices he makes for it. Having just moved into a massive new studio in TriBeCa, one may wonder what Pavlisko (who always plans one show ahead), has on deck. He’s not saying much, but his next show, set in the Cincinnati Art Museum for 2013, involves a former Navy SEAL sniper who Pavlisko befriended after seeing him late-night on the History Channel. For the new show, Pavlisko and his collaborator plan to traverse hundreds of years of art and cultural history at blinding speed, but they don’t want to give away details as to how, just yet. “OK so, Why?” I ask. “I want to be the fastest in history,” Pavlisko answered, without a shred of hesitation.
This aside, Pavlisko is perhaps best known for driving a nail through his own foot in a video triptych titled “Centerpiece.” He presents it monolithically; visit his website: it’s just you and the video; tough to watch but with the plink-plink of the hammer, it’s even tougher to turn it off. Pavlisko sees the body as an ideal venue for “Finding [a] conduit,” for ideas, literally and figuratively. His art is a physical process, whether it’s nailing his foot to the floor or working so hard he requires hospitalization after rendering his hand useless with overuse. It’s not easy, having a “conversation with history,” which is what Pavlisko aims for. If history ain’t talking, this artist is happy to force the issue, even if it means ruining his hand in the process. When I saw the “Untitled” Richard Pryor piece (10’ tall, composed of 1,200,000 plastic tag fasteners, shot through two layers of canvas), I was floored by the sheer scope of it. It reNov. - Dec. 2011
Words | Tara McEvoy
avid Hoptman is a man of many talents – photographer, lecturer, painter, print maker and now – site developer. A former alumnus of Detroit’s College for Creative Studies, Hoptman has had a life chock-full of artistic adventures, yet when we catch up for this interview, his latest project is firmly dominating his thoughts. Phonography.org, a labor of love for the Santa Barbara artist, launched a few short months ago after a rapid development process beginning in January, with the aim of ‘putting a socially conscious spin on social networking’. The idea sprang initially, Hoptman states, from his concern over people not taking the fullest advantage of technology to ameliorate the world around them. When the idea came to him, he says, he, ‘worked on it for a few hours every day on my computer, thinking about it and writing about it, treating it like an art project, a collaboration of my thoughts and ideas and those of other people, creating a new concept. I thought, there are almost 5 billion cell phones on the planet – an army of people with cell phones but no direction, no idea of how to use technology. I want to find a place where people can come together with ideas, to create a direction for this army’.
front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa’. It’s pretty hard to imagine Hoptman taking a similar viewpoint, speaking as he does of ‘art as an international language’. For him, social networks aren’t just about connecting with those in your immediate vicinity – correctly utilized, he feels that they can give users a chance to connect with different cultures, becoming part of a larger collaborative process. ‘Members can act as a collective, connecting with a common purpose to create and explore collaborative art processes. Every week or every month there will be projects. Anyone who’s interested can become part of them, whether they’re writers, painters, illustrators, photographers or whatever. Project submissions will be uploaded from all parts of the world and woven into works of art’. Ultimately, Hoptman’s outlook is to expand this concept beyond the World Wide Web, as he voices his hopes that, ‘Images from all over the planet will be turned into a book. Phonagraphy definitely has an international outlook, so in that respect, the book will be rich with context, and pretty unique.’ Viewing Phonagraphy as more than solely a website, then, Hoptman also sees it as more than just a brand.
Much has been made of the way in which people use the Internet nowadays, talking so much, as one wry commentator put it, but saying so little. Yet Phonagraphy is a social network with a difference, according to Hoptman. ‘It’s not about narcissism; it’s about connecting and doing something as a group. I imagine global sites like Google or Facebook must give back to charity, but then, it’s not their focus. The ideal of Phonography.org is different. Our mission is to create a new ideal in social networking by helping to subsidize the arts. Charitable revenues will be accumulated, with members being paid. ’ Hoptman vehemently denies the notion he wishes to ‘go into competition’ with these other sites, instead stating that he is offering people an alternative –it’s not that he wants them to stop visiting other sites– he just wants them to visit Phonography too. Yet the ethos offered by Phonagraphy over that of other sites is vastly distinctive. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerburg, allegedly attempted to explain the concept behind his site’s ‘news feed’ by telling his staff, ‘A squirrel dying in
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He speaks of it as a ‘revolution’. Does he perceive the project as forming the basis of a school of thought, even a way of life, I muse? The answer is a resounding yes: ‘People need to collaborate now, more than ever before. That goes for religion, politics, and art. People need to collaborate for the planet to be able to continue in a positive way.’ For a man with a background in teaching, the educational aspect of the site is also of primordial importance. He hopes to roll out the site’s capacity to involve those currently studying art, and perhaps use this as a way to connect with educational institutions such as schools and colleges: ‘Mostly younger people are involved in digital arts’, he enthuses, ‘those are the type of people I would really like to get on board. They’re the future’. Hoptman has a wealth of ideas, then, all integral to the future and expansion of his site, but each of these ideas are linked by common themes of social responsibility, artistic collaboration and charitable fundraising – in short, it’s all about giving back. In the photographer’s own words, ‘Inside each and every one of us lurks the ability to make this world we call home a better place.’ David Hoptman is doing his utmost to make that vision a reality – he just needs you to join the revolution.
Words | Sid Cocain
ark Reigelman is a young artist originally from Cleveland, now based in New York. He has the unique ability to recognize and exploit the artistic potential in everyday objects and spaces. His work often provides answers for questions most of us never knew to ask. His name is an anagram of Remaking Realm, which is ironically appropriate given his aptitude for creating art that challenges preconceived notions of public spaces. Reigelman has worked on projects across the United States, with a particular devotion to his hometown of Cleveland. His work has been critically recognized for its deceptively simple ideas that engage and activates the public. His White Cloud installation highlights his ability to rejuvenate public spaces using form, color and concept. Inspired by the J. R. Cox painting of the same name, nearly 100 white weather balloons – each 8 foot in diameter – swayed in front of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s neoclassical facade, dusted with dream-like patterns of light projected from below. Americans for the Arts recognized White Cloud as one of the Top 50 art installations in the United States in 2010. Mark has a background in fine art and industrial design. The tension between the two disciplines is found throughout his work. His approach to public art is always site-specific and involves meticulous research and analysis. "When creating site-specific works I spend a great deal of time understanding a particular site. It's history; demographics and surrounding environment greatly
influence the direction of each installation. Ultimately, my work is integrated into the urban landscape and incorporated into daily life." Reigelman 's installation, Stair Squares, is exemplary of his commitment to the culture and patterns of use at each site. This work responded precisely to how people use the space while pushing the boundaries between art and furniture. Streamlined blue table-like objects were introduced strategically onto the stairs of the Brooklyn Borough Hall. They provided a striking visual contrast to the formality of the building, while being a functional asset to those who frequently ate, studied or passed the time in the vicinity. "It is important for Public Art to generate conversations rather than make statements. My work creates and continues a dialogue with its audience and environment."
Manifest Destiny! has been the most technically challenging by far." Impression of a hotel cabin: Manifest Destiny!
Reigelman has projects underway in San Jose and Cleveland and is currently finalizing an installation in San Francisco, called, Manifest Destiny!, tentatively set to open mid November. It is collaboration with San Francisco artist, Jenny Chapman. The installation celebrates the bygone ideal of moving West and building a homestead despite daunting circumstances. Small, traditional cabins will be constructed and given the aesthetic of a real, livable space. The cabins will represent the origins of the frontier days while challenging the notion of the west as "unclaimed". Impression of an alleyway cabin: Manifest Destiny! “I have worked on a variety of projects and installation.
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While Reigelman has been recognized internationally for his work, he still considers himself an emerging artist. He hopes his work can reach a wider audience and continually strives for larger and more visible commissions, while remaining dedicated to the local communities, which have formed the foundation of his practice. It is perhaps early in his career to be talking about getting the scoop on Time Magazine, but with his innovative and interactive approach to site-specific design, dedication to working in the public sphere, and enthusiasm for practical and socially responsible solutions, it is safe to say that Mark Reigelman is in line to inherit the public art spotlight.
Words | Gina Tron
spoke with L Filipe dos Santos over Skype and thoroughly enjoyed his accent and modesty during our interview. He is over in Portugal, and he asked me incessantly if I understood his English. He told me he was very insecure about his English speaking abilities and I kept reassuring him that his was a lot better than a lot of Americans I know, and that was true. Perhaps he felt this way because he learned most of this language through watching his favorite childhood film, Terminator II. “All my English I know is because of that; I was always watching American movies and sitcoms and such.” L Filipe was born and raised in a small town outside Viseu, with a population of 300 and began his drawing career by copying the doodles of a boy who moved to his high school. This new classmate and friend was a fan of Marvel and DC comics and drew comics himself “I began drawing by imitating his stuff, but I wasn't copying the originals; I was copying [his] drawings, so it was like second-hand Superman and second-hand Hulk and so on.” L Filipe also spent time marking up 2,000 year old buildings with graffiti. Now that is something you can not do in America! He worked as a fine artist ten years back, but he grew tired of that world because, “ how can I say it in a soft way, there was a lot of pretension.” He then turned to illustration, becoming a commercial illustrator, “because that way I don't have to explain the profoundity of what I do, because sometimes there is no profoundity. Perhaps its just something I think is beautiful. “ These days L Filipe doesn't do much exhibitions anymore, having participated in only three or four in the past five years.
born on that day and draw one of them he felt inspired by. “Some I don't know well and some I really admire, but I like them all in a certain way.” I love his sketches of non-famous people as well, like his hauntingly beautiful sketch of a girl in a red cardigan, which are all priced quite reasonably on his online shop. By looking at his online portfolio, you can see the diversity of different techniques and mediums used. This is because, like most artists, he has difficulty being satisfied with just one. “I don't have a favorite medium because I get bored too easily so I'm skipping from technique to technique. I'm always jumping from digital to traditional to colored pencils to oils to acrylic or whatever; whatever keeps me entertained. I couldn't choose to a technique to stay with.” Despite that he does stick to a disciplined ritual of drawing for 4 - 6 hours on average per day. I always say that when it comes to writing or drawing or whatever you so desire to excel at is comparable to physical fitness. You need to work out everyday if you want to see any tangible results. His constant drawing does create the temptation to use the walls of his home as a giant canvas. He has been asked to make murals on friends walls, but despite not being asked by his own landlord, can’t help but write on his own. “I’ve lived in ten to fifteen houses and I always left a mark, some mural or something. Some of the landlords didn't like that,” mentioning that he had to lose some of their numbers. I appreciated this story, as I live in an apartment with drawings that range from wondrous to horrifying on the walls of my living room.
One of my favorite creations of L Filipe’s is his “See Saw Collection” from 2007, inspired by the Rorschach psychological evaluation test, also known as the inkblot test. “I remembered when I was little that everybody at some point has done that type of exercise. And I thought, well, I could try to do it now with a more serious approach than back then and see what comes through.” L Filipe created inkblots and then drew what he perceived with gouache and ballpoint pens. He also has a nice collection of celebrity portraits; when working on this project he would look up famous people
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Words | Alaina Latham
hotographers are professionals at image interpretation and these image geniuses share their knowledge with the world. Whether photographs are worth thousands of words or a little as two, there are ones that make you go, “WOW!” I recently experienced such emotion when coming across the meticulous work of photographer Ryan Schude. Based in Los Angeles, a very scenic city, Chicagoan photographer Ryan Schude decided that business wasn’t the route he wanted to go with his life. Taking a detour, photography became the heartbeat that gave life to creativity. “After freelancing in the Bay for a year or so, I moved to San Diego to work as a photo editor and staff photographer at a small magazine for the next 3 years. I moved to LA and got a job in a camera rental house and began assisting. Over the next 2 years I built an entirely new portfolio in the direction that you see now and have since been shooting full time for the last 3 years. ” Schude considers his style narrative photography but insists some photos are merely visual without a story. “I’ve also heard it [his style] has been called staged, cinematic, obnoxious, self-indulgent, humorous, morose, cynical or fun.”
Ambition and tedious work can make the most unknown became a very-well known unknown. Schude has had his work feature on many websites, billboards, magazines and several advertisement campaigns throughout the nation. “I greatly appreciate every time a new outlet is made available for the work. It is a constant surprise to see the many different venues that it ends up in since I don’t make it for any specific audience.” The finished product seems to come off so effortless with every frame and snapshot. Stunning imagery that grabs the attention of the person taking a look at his work for the first time, every capture is outstanding. “The work is extremely methodical and thought out long before it’s executed. The fun part is the spontaneous discoveries that happen on set when you actually begin to carry out a concept that seemed so set in stone before. New things always come to light and it has become an important part of the process to remain open to modifying a predetermined vision on the fly.” Spontaneity and method seem to go hand in hand with Schude’s work, almost creating a balance and ending in a spectacular shot. Approaching a project Schude tends to use previous projects as groundwork but never as the standard operating procedure.
Taking a look into the mind of Schude as he created the photograph mildly named, “the Saturn” he details the thought process. “The idea was to shoot the cliché scene of a woman kicking her boyfriend out their apartment by throwing all of his belongings onto the street. The story began with only those two characters until I found the location and began seeing the rest of the stories present themselves based on that environment. Each subject was predetermined for a specific spot in the scene and cast accordingly so that by time they all arrived on set; I knew exactly where everyone was going to be and what their specific pose was. All of the props and wardrobe worked in a similar manner as contributions to telling the story of this apartment building and the people who might inhabit it. Many other images develop the same way, starting with a simple idea, finding a location appropriate to illustrate that idea, and then snowballing into various sub-stories to accent the central concept.” Dabbling in film Schude has a project called “Promised Land” and “Bunny Suits” which can be seen currently on his website. He has many clients which include, WESC, All State Insurance, American Cancer Society, AT&T, Entertainment Weekly, Mc Donald’s and a slew of others. Schude also is a multi-award winner for his work. He has awards from Magenta Flash Forward, PX3, Digital Photo Pro Magazine, and Smashbox Studios. The future holds so much more work and more images that will be scrutinized, glanced over and adored. “I just finished an image which everyone will be seeing for the first time here that was a collaboration with a friend of mine who is in medical school. The concept was to make a mock pharmaceutical ad for a suicide pill based around the premise that Prometheus could kill himself as opposed to remaining tortured forever by his punishment. It is rather morbid in nature but hopefully comes across as humorous in the context of the layout and the mythology.”
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Words | Whitney Meers
aron Steinberg constantly finds himself exploring the dichotomy between what he calls “the inner world” and “the outer world,” which he uses to describe the parallels he senses in the way the mind works and the way the world around him functions. Though his background is primarily in illustration, the Jerusalem-born mixed media artist works in media as varied as pen and paper for his drawings, to heavy industrial materials he uses to create massive sculptures. Jerusalem-born mixed media artist works in media as varied as pen and paper for his drawings, to heavy industrial materials he uses to create massive sculptures. “I’m a very crafty artist. I like to work with materials I can fill,” he says. “I use a lot of wood and a lot of cardboard. I buy a ton of toys in really cheap shops looking for specific items.” Though he has a background as an illustrator, he says he tends to prefer to create threedimensional artwork, artwork that incorporates something more than a image laid on a flat surface. For Steinberg, the materials such as the plastic dolls he uses to construct sculptures come with their own baggage, which becomes part of the message he seeks to portray. Working with such materials isn’t always easy, so through trial and error he’s had to learn to give a certain amount to respect to the materials to figure out what will work and what won’t. However, the results are nothing short of astounding. For example, Steinberg recently used cardboard boxes to create a massive sculpture titled Brain/City. “In the last two or three years, I’ve been really interested in science and physics and the brain and how it functions,” he says. “It’s in you, and it’s there all time.”
Using this concept, he constructed a large sculpture inspired by the parallels between the way the brain works and the way a city works, detailing his vision of how the individual components of each come together to create a bigger thing. “Together, they create a consciousness,” he says. “The spiritual and physical parts are basically the same. As humans, we like to put them in different roles, but everything is the same.” Brain/City, which will soon be on display at the Holon Museum in Israel, is a compelling and fascinating
work of art, but is something that functions as only to the tip of the iceberg as to who Steinberg is an artist. Coming from a background where he knew he was an artist as a young age, his work comes to life as it is inspired by his passion and his exploratory nature. “I was always the artistic one, and I always knew it was something I’d do,” he says. However, it wasn’t until 2004, while on a trip to Central America, that Steinberg began to fully embrace the concept that he should truly dedicate his life to art, that he was an artist in every sense of the word. It was then that he had a major breakthrough, one that would shift his career trajectory into something that would ultimately allow him to continue traveling and showing his work in some of the biggest museums in the world. Steinberg is well-traveled, noting that his passion for international travel feeds his artistic endeavors. “It’s a big mental process, and you experience so much in a short period of time.” His work manifests his interpretations of experiences, heavily guided by his profound interest in making sense of the world around him. His experience as a traveler influences his artwork in ways as vastly different as constructing an image that demonstrates the beauty of hiking in the Balkans, or one that communicates the frustration of getting his luggage stolen in Cuba. He’s slated next to spend time in Africa, where he plans to visit friends but to also seek inspiration in his visit. “I have a lot of experiences, and it all manifests itself in my art,” he says. In his years as an artist, he’s learned to trust his intuition, learning also to connect with others via his artwork. “I can communicate with people just by having a shared feeling,” he says. “It’s like an outlet for my brain,” he says. “It’s more just everyday stuff I feel and think.” Though he’s not one hundred percent sure what the future holds, he has one goal that guides path, a goal he doesn’t appear to be giving up soon. “I’m going to keep making art,” he says.
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You’ve worked on numerous big name projects, including Face/Off, I Am Legend, Dawn of the Dead and 300. What was your favorite project? Hard to say. Starship Troopers and Dawn of the dead were a lot of fun but I have to go with 300. I really enjoyed working with director Zack Snyder, and it was my first big movie where I got to be involved in the final look of every makeup. What has been your most challenging project? Easy. The job I just finished called The Monkey King. I took an internationally diverse team of 30 people to China for 9 months. Can you say, “wo ting bu dong” (I don’t understand)? Have you ever walked into a job not fully knowing what you were doing? Me? Never... Of course. There are always variables in my job you can’t foresee.
hen you see big named movies like I Am Legend, Face/Off and 300, you don’t often think of the team that worked tirelessly to make certain aspects of that movie look real. The special effects, the makeup, the monsters, decapitated heads... It’s all there to give the elusion that what you are watching is real. It helps create the mood, the atmosphere... Special effects can make or break a movie and you if you happen to become painfully aware of them, that person probably didn’t do their job as well as they could have. Shaun Smith understands that kind of pressure, all too well. Shaun grew up in Rockford, Illinois. He was always into monsters and haunted houses as a child, and often questioned what he wanted to do with his life, until his senior year in High School. He was heavily involved in sports at that age, but all of his early career ambitions were squashed when he saw John Carpenter’s, The Thing. That, was his key moment. In college he was able to really develop his interest when he got involved in Theater, and from there, well...his portfolio speaks for itself.
Do you do the whole, “fake it ‘till you make it” thing? Sure, but with confidence, you can still do it. Biggest mistake made on a job? Hiring the wrong person. If someone just getting out of college wanted to break into your business, how should they go about it? Learn anatomy, ZBrush and digital animation. What is one item a makeup/special effects person must always carry with them? Most people would say Duct Tape but I’m going with the Leatherman tool. A knife, screwdriver, pliers all in one! It’s just cool. What would be your dream project? A 300 movie but the Spartans are all female. ::laughs:: Do your friends harass you every Halloween to do their makeup? Yes.
Words | Crystal Vinson
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What are you currently working on? My Halloween costume. Where will we find you 10 years from now? Running Pork & Mead.
What was your first big job, and what did you take away from it? Tremors. I learned... I still had a lot to learn.
Slippery Weasel Society Words | Jimmy Doom
Nov. - Dec. 2011
erman poet Heinrich Heine once said that great genius takes shape by contact with other great genius, but less by assimilation than by friction. If there is any hint of friction within The Slippery Weasel Society, a secretive fraternal art organization, it's not the palpable interpersonal variety but the visual diversity and delicious ambiguity of their current show "Seven" at the Cass Café, in Detroit, MI. That ambiguity is intrinsic to the SWS by their own admission. Any attempt at interpellation can lead to a shrugged explanation that they get along and all wish to create exhibitions that need only a thread of commonality with which to tie the assembled works together, or protracted seemingly mythological explanations of their past life experiences that tie them personally together in a way other mortals could never comprehend. It is Teddy Roosevelt's "Man in The Arena" speech filtered through a Stan Lee "Origin of" series. Think X-Men with epoxy, or perhaps your father's partially inebriated explanation as to why he's never missed a meeting at the Elk's Lodge. If you're looking for strong mission statements or fervently adhered to dogma, the Slippery Weasel Society is not a scout troop in search of merit badges for pitching tenets. They are artists of strong individual reputations and resumes who choose to work and show together, though rarely all the Weasels, all the time. Some of them (in their own words) "demonstrate a noticeable lack of social propriety when it comes to liquor”. Weasel Andy Krieger, an inveterate iconoclast for an iconographer, recently had some of his work chosen for a museum show. When asked what museum, he responds "Grand Rapids' shiny new one.” (The exhibition at the "shiny new" Grand Rapids Art Museum, opened in 2007, was "Michigan Perspectives" and ran from Oct 21st through Nov.13th). Krieger is a carpenter by trade and a self-described "maker of things" and one of his things hanging at the little eatery gallery on Cass is "When Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt", an oil on wood painting (incorporating hand carved elements affixed with wire) work depicting a troubadour or paramour serenading a girl on horseback in a forest. Veteran art critic Robert Del Valle hails the piece as one of the standouts of the Slippery Weasel show, citing it as being illustrative of the show's overall "rich emotional resonance that prompts an equally distinctive response". I hail it as being the work of an artistic malcontent; many painters would be happy with simply the rendering of the forest, or sculptors with the two, 3D figures separate from the frame. As tranquil as the wooded setting is, the piece lays bare a personal restlessness, and it's stunning. Mary Fortuna's "Giant Flying Snake" peers over the exhibit, possibly in a metaphorical nod to her day job as Exhibition Director at Rochester's Paint Creek Center for the Arts. "The snake is the biggest thing I've ever made. I've been obsessed with it for months. Several years ago I dreamed about seeing a gigantic snake that I'd made hanging in a gallery, and I finally had an opportunity to make it for a space that's just right for it. If it doesn't sell or otherwise find a permanent home where it can be displayed, I plan to take it to the beach on Lake Michigan on Highway 2 in the UP, near Brevort, and set the thing on fire. We'll do a big convoy from Detroit all the way up there for a big party some weekend next summer.. She intimated that she might suggest to a prospective buyer that she be allowed to immolate the rattan, waxed fiber and Rustoleum reptile anyway. “Burning Snake" she says. "It'll be amazing".
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Jeanne Bieri's membership in the Weasels involves urine, though it should be noted that no urine is incorporated into her contributions to the "Seven" exhibition. (Apparently, the following harrowing tale aside, she's no Andres Serrano, and thank St. Luke for that, because the exhibition is in a frickin' restaurant, for Joel Peter Witkin's sake.). "My first weasel experience was when I was 16. I spent the summer in Sweden and lived with a family that had a sailboat. My Swedish sister, Marie, introduced me to Sven a fellow she knew from University. One of his weekend jobs for the summer was to feed the minks on a mink ranch. Sven invited me to join him in the task. I remember walking quite a distance across a grassy area, past lutefisk hanging stretched on sticks clacking as they dried in the sun. We followed a path that led to a low wooden building that sheltered the mink, each in individual cages, similar to a rabbit hutch that so many rabbit owners have for housing their pets. In short, it was a pleasant environment, clean, neat and it smelled like the devil due to the mink’s diet of fish. Sven took a small ermine colored mink from the cage it shared with its family and gave it to me to pet. Soft and cuddly it crawled into my shirt, then up on my shoulder, nuzzled my neck and peed on me. I am positive that the early mark of the weasel experienced that summer when I as 16, led me to seek out the weasel life that eventually resulted in my initiation as a member of the Slippery Weasel Society". Bieri's untitled oil on panels portraiture seems to be an homage to adults she may have known in her adolescent years, while Weasel Faina Lerman's haunting oil on canvas of a nude woman peering through flora could be the image of someone having disrobed while awaiting an amorous liaison, most probably not with a weasel, though quite possibly with a Slippery Weasel, as Faina's husband Graem Whyte is a member, though noticeably absent from the "Seven" show. Del Valle calls Lerman's work in the show "Perfect examples of free abstraction.” There are no plans at press time to immolate any of her aforementioned pieces on a beach or elsewhere. Ditto for Weasel Matt Hanna, whose "Journal 50" (mixed media on paper) is an example of his constantly evolving work. The show at Cass Cafe is a natural for Hanna." My influences are grounded in-but not limited to-the tradition initiated in the Cass Corridor, Detroit's first true avantgarde". That tradition lives, breathes, and occasionally urinates on young girls through The Slippery Weasel Society. "Seven" runs through January 7th, 2012. Cass Cafe is located at 4620, Cass Ave. Detroit, MI