There are women with the kind of beauty that runs through their blood and their backbones. Their eyes are like steel rods. When they look at you, they look right through you. Men want to fuck them, even knowing that the women might kill them and eat them afterward. These women are part Viking, part vixen. They’re pagans, believing in nothing but themselves. They’re feral animals with an aristocratic air about the world, which they inhabit on their own terms, in the same way that they inhabit their bodies — fully owning them, without being defined by their gender or the politics of their age. They are chimeras, adapting seamlessly to social settings and dangerous situations. These women wouldn’t own a coffee table even if they were offered one. They don’t care about such things.
China Chow is back on Bravo as a host and judge for the sophomore season of Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. Chow was born into the contemporary art world. She grew up in her father Michael’s famed Mr. Chow restaurants — where the world’s most important artists have always felt comfortable eating noodles and making doodles. Her mother, fashion icon Tina Chow, was muse to Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The daughter of a top chef and a top model, Chow now faces the difficult task of anointing top artist on what promises to be a season as exciting as she is enthusiastic. China brings this signature enthusiasm, along with her discerning eye for art and her impeccable wardrobe, into your living room this fall.
The greatest ideas in history have always been first dismissed as the ranting of madmen. If someone is ostracized, unpopular, or even jailed for their beliefs, they’re someone to whom we should pay close attention. While some might construe our penchant for excluding our best thinkers as a negative, it’s exactly the opposite. The outcasts of our world know something very important. In fact, it’s just this exclusion that actually fuels their fire of dissent. From rebellion often come new ideas. As a result of this cultural segregation, society actually breeds lifestyles that can develop entirely free from common cultural influence. Within this netherworld of societal disdain, a schattenreich of immense intellectual freedom develops. Therefore, I propose that some kind of forced exile, be it real or metaphorical, from the popular cultural and media dialogue is key and absolutely necessary for the progression of human creative growth.
Murk Fluid, 2011, shown at Zach Feuer Gallery, was Mark Flood’s second exhibition in New York. Flood hails from Houston, Texas. His show featured a series of colorful floral paintings with intricate lacelike surfaces and shimmering light, and a room-sized photo-collage made up of hundreds of images of Lindsay Lohan, outlining her successes and tribulations. In the middle of the pictures was one of Flood’s text paintings, with the words “call me” and a phone number. The detailing is complicated and well thought-out in the paintings and in the installation, while the subject matter of the images seems to suggest that there’s artificiality in nature as well as in celebrity.
Normally, one wouldn’t expect to upturn the art world just by launching a line of sunglasses, but that’s just what the 28-year-old artist/entrepreneur Alex Israel did in 2010, with Freeway, his Los Angeles-based eyewear company. Israel named all but one of his eight unisex shades after a different Southern California freeway — for example: 1, Pacific Coast Highway; 10, Santa Monica Freeway; 405, San Diego Freeway. In doing so, he intentionally planted himself in his geographical hometown. “Sunglasses, their frames and lenses, symbolize LA,” he says. Given the ubiquity and utility of sunglasses in Los Angeles, their wearers may well forget that they’re looking through carefully designed, predetermined lenses that focus reality.
Glenn O’Brien : How to Age
We are living in a world of inverted values. Youth is today accorded the respect and admiration that was once given to age, and elders are despised or dismissed as irrelevent. They are not in keeping with fashion or with modernism, in that they are not new and hence better than anything ever seen before. And so everywhere aging adults desperately resort to undignified strategies of being perceived as younger than they are. Oh, the legions of mutton dressed as lamb! Women who can afford to are having their faces painstakingly rebuilt to resemble those of their youth, while men are exhorted to dye their hair and beards, and to take pills to produce erections that may last up to six hours. Whereas once youths did what they could to appear older and more mature, taking joy in putting on the long pants of manhood and treasuring those first few wisps of beard, today mature adults shave their public hair in imitation of pre-pubescents, and costume themselves in the clothing of adolescent rebellion associated with that contradiction in terms, youth culture.
Christopher Bollen : Lightning People
Having been a journalist, critic, and full-time editor, first at V and then at Interview magazine, Christopher Bollen has just published his first novel. He is a canny arbiter of the very culture that informs Lightning People’s lives and loves. Between the requisite gallery openings and dinners he spent “most of my nights and every weekend for five years” writing his tale about Joseph Guiteau, a character who is the same age and lives in the same city as Bollen. “And I smoked way too many cigarettes doing it.”
About the Japanese Nuclear Crisis
The day after giving a lecture at Nagoya University of the Arts, on May 31, 2011, I took a bullet train from Nagoya station to Kakegawa station, where a fisherman named Mr. Shimizu was waiting to pick me up and to drive me to Omaezaki and the Hamaoka Nuclear Plant. Located in a city of 35,000 inhabitants, the nuclear power station was built on the sands above the most active seismic fault in the country, and 25% of the earthquakes in the world occur in Japan. The Hamaoka Nuclear Plant was known as the most dangerous one in the world.
Jade Berreau : Burning Stars
Those fast burning stars… They lived true and knew that this was all we had: this one life, this one time to put it all on the line. They scraped the gum and shit from the bottom of their shoes, shaped it and turned it into a thing of wonder, a thing of beauty, a thing called life. They blessed the world with a light that’s everlasting. A legacy… “They died before their time,” but they did so much with the time that they had. What they left behind will never die. What they left behind has made the world that much more wondrous, the sun that much warmer, souls more soothed and spirits lifted, sounds richer, beauty expressed, love realized, pain transformed, humanity revealed. Immortality achieved.
Interview : Julia Chiang
JULIANA BALESTIN — I recently saw your first New York City solo show, at Half Gallery. It featured a series of hand-made ceramic chains. You employ a variety of materials but you always seem to come back to clay. JULIA CHIANG — I’ve always been drawn to working with my hands. I try to avoid materials you need tools to work with, because they feel less accessible. I’m interested in ceramic because it has such a long history, as a tool, as a craft, and as an art form. It’s a great material because it’s both fragile and strong.
In Karen Kilimnik’s show at 303 Gallery in New York, her tenth solo exhibition, the artist presented a somewhat tighter restaging of her seminal 1989 installation, The Hellfire Club Episode of The Avengers, along with four new paintings and a group of photographs of a girl who looks a lot like Emma Peel from the television series, The Avengers, the character who appears most prominently in the installation. In 1989, Kilimnik’s installations of images and objects were termed “scatter art” for their seemingly haphazard organization. But in this large Chelsea gallery The Hellfire Club was set up with black walls, broken chandeliers, photocopied images, quiet sound accompaniment — and a lot of empty space, which allowed visitors to drift back and forth, tapping into their nostalgia for the British television series, while perusing Kilimnik’s recent photographs and paintings, crafted with her signature loose, colorful, thrift-shop style.
It’s May 2011. Even during invigorating mornings I hesitate to open a window. I’m reluctant to go out into the garden in my nightgown and touch the bright flowers with my bare hands. I live 250 kilometers away from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. How can I go on living as I did before the disaster, opening windows, inhaling the fragrance of the soil, and picking flowers? How can I banish my fear of radioactivity, which is surely present, even if only in very small quantities? Should I do everything to avoid exposing myself? Should I keep my windows closed and abandon the pleasures of my garden? Which of these options is better for someone who wishes to live proactively? I have no answers. People tell me to leave here as soon as possible. My world has changed completely.
With his guitar and special sound, Matt Sweeney has traveled through a number of musical settings, dropping Zelig-like into New York’s post-punk scene, playing in boogie bands and dark introspective country groups. He played on the Johnny Cash American V and VI albums and on Bonnie Prince Billy’s plaintive Must Be Blind. He produced songs by The Black Keys, Julian Casablancas, and Kid Rock for the Buddy Holly tribute album Rave On. The list goes on. Sweeney’s fragile and delicate phrasings have an armored attack. His massive but restrained chords have an intricacy and sadness that sound like oaths drawn up from a Gnostic from Mussel Shoals. In this issue Sweeney interviews Mick Fleetwood.
Giasco Bertoli : Nostalghia
I went to the 15th-century village of Bagno Vignoni, in the Sienna province of Tuscany, to take pictures where Andrei Tarkovsky shot the film Nostalghia in the early ’80s. Tarkovsky went to Tuscany with the poet and screenwriter Tonino Guerra to find a place to shoot the film. Guerra later said that when they arrived in Bagno Vignoni, Tarkovsky was so moved by the sight of the thermal bath in which Saint Catherine is said to have bathed that he decided to shoot the film in this mythical place.
Remy Chevalier : anti-nuclear activist
A discussion with the anti-nuclear activist and founder of rock the reactors in Norwalk, Connecticut OLIVIER ZAHM — Is your involvement in the environmental movement political? REMY CHEVALIER — It’s become political. OLIVIER ZAHM — Do you think that public consciousness can evolve enough to actually be a factor in solving the nuclear problem? REMY CHEVALIER — You can get used to having a time bomb in the back room. It doesn’t go off, so you forget about it.
Terence Koh transformed Mary Boone’s gallery into a space of ceremony and cleansing. Koh began by covering the gallery’s entrance with a long white sheet and installing in its interior a 45-ton rock salt mound. For all five weeks of the exhibition Koh acted out a silent private ritual, alternating between circling the salt pile on his knees and lying prostrate on it, while never once acknowledging the presence of visitors. Plus, nothing from the show was for sale. Like Marina Abramovic’s best works, Koh’s nothingtoodoo produced a spectacular and refreshing change of pace for the art world.
David Hammons attained cult status in the art world with a series of ready-made assemblages, as provocative today as they were in the 1970s, when he began exhibiting his art. For his most recent exhibition, at the uptown gallery, L&M Arts, Hammons turned to painting, producing a show whose references, such as those to Robert Rauschenberg and Steven Parrino, felt groundbreaking rather than derivative. In the age of explanation, Hammons issued neither press release nor artist’s statement, and his seemingly anti-painting paintings were left untitled. The paintings were also obscured from view by the plastic trash bags Hammons draped over them. The humor of having trash bags in an uptown gallery offset the striking scale of the works and made for an austere rather than brash installation.
Light is a primal intoxicant. Many artists recognize this and choose light as their medium. Olafur Eliasson, Dan Flavin, and James Turrell are among my favorites. Turrell created his epic work, Roden Crater, at the edge of the Painted Desert in Arizona. The artist set out to make visitors to this work physically aware that light is the basis of energy, of existence itself, and that light originates from stars like our sun and is reflected by the moon and other celestial bodies. Turrell’s Roden Crater conveys the physicality of light, revealing its central creative force.
Interview : Rosette Delug
HOW I BECAME AN ART COLLECTOR My entrance into the art world ten years ago was a fluke — or maybe it was more like a magical door opened for me. I was 50 years old and mourning the loss of my mother when I found out that my husband had a Parisian mistress and wanted a divorce. I went to New York to report the news of our separation to our middle child, who was then studying at Columbia, and it so happened that some friends of mine from LA were staying at my hotel. I ended up going to the Armory Show with them and bought several pieces of art I knew nothing about.
It’s the early-’90s. I’m walking out of an East Village rock club called Brownies with Steve Olson. Someone swings a skateboard directly at my skull, with savage intent. I duck and fall back against the wall. In the same instant my assailant notices Olson, drops the skateboard, and with glee and warmth yells out, “Olson! Old School!” Olson quickly explains to this mad-with-intent-to-maim guy (a former associate of his, it turns out) that because of my connection to him — Olson — I also can be considered Old School, and, as such, he — the skateboard swinger — shouldn’t hold me responsible for invading his old haunting grounds. For a number of months previous to this incident my assailant had been absent from the scene, resting in a federally sponsored hotel: “39 in Soledad. I don’t need no irons to cut you up! Olson! Old School!” He returned to find things had moved on, unsatisfactorily. The un-cool had invaded.
The models and marble sculptures in this work are presented as a group, in a single tableau. The models, each of whom are painted a single color — green, blue, pink, or black — sit still, like statues, mimicking the marble sculptures of various parts of the female body. Some sculptures are carved from white marble, others from colored marble — azul macaubas, green onyx, green laguna, red France, blue sodalite, black Belgium, pink Portuguese, yellow marble from Iran, alabaster, blue lapis lazuli, and breccia medicea. The richness of the marble and the randomness of the colors are familiar. But the carved marbles are not entirely realistic, and the unnatural color of the women truncates the natural psychology of touch.
I started making billboards in Edinburgh and Glasgow back in 1994, when I was a student. Guy Debord inspired a language for which ideology and poetry were inseparable. Some of my billboards are anti-Capitalist and overtly political, such as THE SPECTACLE OF ADVERTISING. Some are Romantic and personal, like MEMORIES OF MEDITERRANEAN FLOWERS IN THE STREETS OF NEW YORK. But they all have a pathos and melancholy in their underlying tones. I want to bring pathos and melancholy to the street, on billboards normally used to sell Tommy Hilfiger Jeans and Nespresso coffeemakers in a tone of voice at once upbeat and vacuous.
Interview : Virginie Despentes
Ever since I read her first book, Baise-Moi, in 1993, I wanted to interview VIRGINIE DESPENTES. She’s one of my favorite French writers of her generation. Despentes began working as a teenager in Lyon, as a record seller, rock music journalist, part-time prostitute, and porn-movie reviewer. After falling in love with a woman for the first time, she left Paris to live with her in Barcelona. While there Despentes finished her book-length essay, King Kong Théorie (2006), which blends autobiography and feminist theory in a style accessible to teenage girls. Now she’s back in Paris EDITING HER SECOND FEATURE FILM, based on her novel, Bye Bye Blondie.
Interview : Kenneth Anger
Since 1937, KENNETH ANGER, the American cult author of Hollywood Babylon and experimental filmmaker, has produced over 40 works, nine under the rubric Magick Lantern Cycle. Now 85, Anger looks two decades younger, and is still devoted to cinema. His short, trippy, and musical films reveal his obsession with satanic references, occult religions, and his groundbreaking interest in homoerotic imagery. Anger’s latest movie is a mystical, two-minute-32-second animated collage that treats the Missoni fashion house like a dark beauty cult. Anger is extremely private and difficult to pin-down for an interview. I met him on Hollywood Boulevard at Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood’s oldest restaurant. He arrived dressed in a Valentino suit, a gift from the designer, and ordered chicken pot pie.
SALEM, the gothic-styled electro-rock trio from Michigan made up of John Holland, Heather Marlatt, and Jack Donoghue created a sensation even before they released their first album, King Night. SALEM’s self-made, self-styled visual and sound aesthetic amalgamates ethereal industrial sounds and moody processional music with images from old horror movies and the eerie lost in the woods ambiance of Blair Witch Project. The sounds of church organs and heavy machinery are enjoined with foreboding projections of an otherworld that writers like H.G. Wells or Cormac McCarthy might have imagined. They project a phantasmic apocalypse looking for new gods.
Kaneto Shindo, who was born in Hiroshima on April 28, 1912, will soon be 100 years old. Having directed over 40 films — and still active: his latest movie, Postcard, was released in 2010 — Shindo is a living legend in the history of Japanese cinema. He is considered a master of black-and-white cinema, but is best known for his portrayal of universal emotion and his unsparing treatment of human tragedy and personal loss, particularly in such films as Children of Hiroshima (1952), which chronicles the city’s apocalyptic reduction to rubble, and Lucky Dragon N°5 (1958), based on a true story of the fishermen who died from radiation poisoning after the US test on Bikini Island. Given today’s politics, it’s timely that one of his most important films, The Naked Island (1960), is to be released on DVD internationally this year, and for us to rediscover the power of his apocalyptic films.
Whether shooting in a constructed environment or an urban jungle, PHILIP-LORCA DICORCIA reinterprets longstanding American photographic tradition, leaving one with a welcome feeling of uneasiness. Talking to the 59-year-old photographer, however, triggers no such discomfort. In this colorful conversation, diCorcia traces the 30-year evolution of his art, from the controlled observation of domestic scenarios to the highly cinematic exploration of artifice in Hustlers and Lucky Thirteen, his series on pole dancers.
Interview : David Lynch
DAVID LYNCH is not just one of the most important filmmakers working today, he’s a complete artist. He writes songs, paints, makes sculptures, and even designs lamps, in the consistently odd, weirdly dreamy, but resilient style for which the adjective Lynchian has become a catchword. We met at Griffin Contemporary Art Gallery in Santa Monica, where an exhibition of Lynch’s recent paintings and sculptures filled the large, pristine white spaces, and asked him to talk about his enigmatic and ever-expanding personal universe.
COLLIER SCHORR is an important post-feminist artist and photographer, who came out of New York’s Lower East Side scene in the late ’80s — and one of the rare artists of her generation to refuse the star label. Collier’s works have always challenged gender politics and created pyscho-sexual tension. She has spent every summer of the past 20 years working in the southern German town of Schwäbisch Gmünd photographing young males — in vintage military uniforms — and the German landscape. Recently she trained her lens on her upbringing in Queens, focusing on the life of her father, a photographer and editor of car magazines. Collier is also an excellent fashion photographer, finally portraying women, in preparation for a forthcoming book. I talked to her about her artistic development.
Interview : Mick Fleetwood
In the late ’60s Fleetwood Mac, the band led by the guitarist and singer Peter Green, was one of the most influential groups in Britain. Their music was dark, heavy, haunted, minimal, hypnotic, and sexy. In 1970 Peter Green quit the band due to a nervous breakdown,but he left behind a template for his bandmates. In the following five years, during which the band made six albums, drummer MICK FLEETWOOD, bassist John McVie, and keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie maintained the Fleetwood Mac sound using various front men. In 1975 they hooked up with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in Los Angeles and within weeks recorded one of the biggest-selling rock records of all time. Amazingly, the band achieved great success without having any management: Mick Fleetwood and John McVie steered the band through the ’70s, cocktails in hand. Fleetwood Mac never had a stylist-assisted image or a management company’s plan. Yet their music and visual style continues to inspire and influence young people. I was lucky enough to talk to Mick Fleetwood about the elements that comprise the Fleetwood Mac style.