A Ghostly Cabaret

© Valérie Belin - Fancy Forest, 2011. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Contemporary.

Inspired by the burlesque, cabaret clubs of Paris, French photographer Válerie Belin used two of the most famous clubs of all time, Le Moulin Rouge and Le Lido, for the setting of her ghostly series “Yohoho”.  Belin carefully constructed each image by the meticulous act of layering two negatives together, resulting in the dream like and mysterious scenes that appear in the final work. 

Unable to label the work of Válerie Belin as strictly documentary, surrealist or fine art photography, ultimately creates a body of work that on one hand explores the historical context of the stage sets, whilst on the other leaves the viewer wondering if what they are faced with is reality or a constructed fiction.

The new exhibition at Michael Hoppen Contemporary, from 31st May 2012 – 7th July 2012, will showcase twelve black and white silver gelatin prints from the new series “Yohoho”. 

Keren Cytter on Swan Lake, beauty and Yvonne Rainer

Yvonne Rainer, The Mind Is a Muscle, Mai 1966. Judson Memorial Church, NYC. Photo: Peter Moore © Estate of Peter Moore / VAGA, NYC © The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2006.M.24)

“I saw Swan Lake at Berlin’s Staatsballett on January 1st, 2012. I was still hung-over from the night before so during the intermission, I wolfed down three mini-sandwiches as I was telling my friends things like ‘Aren’t those swans just beautiful?’ and ‘What a masterpiece!’ I’m leaving Berlin to move to New York so I’m trying to do all the things I haven’t done in my entire ten years here. At any rate, it was the first time I’ve seen a classic ballet. The production was grand ­– breathtaking, really, with over 100 people on stage. They had these screens that they projected lights onto to create different layers on the stage, like parallel dimensions. Or different levels of perception. I was having a great time, and when it took the curtain a little while to rise before the second act, I was sitting with anticipation thinking ‘What the hell are they doing there?’ Then the curtain went up and it was just magnificent. They had this dry ice machine and it looked like a swampy lake that poured down into the orchestra pit. And then the dancers came out, forty white swans in the fogy meadows. Absolutely amazing.”

“I realized that I needed to see some classic ballet repertoires. I also realized that it’s not really high art. Every time the prima ballerina did a pirouette the audience clapped. I mean, what are they clapping for? It’s not the first time she’s done it, she’s not the first person to do it. It’s routine for her. She got it right the first time, so what’s the big deal? But I loved the dance with the four swans, the pas de quatre. I watched it over and over again at home on YouTube. Let me tell you, ballet is really something. I had so much fun that day.”

“A few months ago, I invited some friends to see my theater piece at the HAU, and they really suffered. As if they were watching a documentary about factory farming, seeing chickens being slaughtered. It was a back-to-back night with a piece by artist Phil Collins and they liked his work much better. They said at least it had a stage set, and costumes. And a plot.  And then when I saw Swan Lake I understood what they were missing – Some grace. Beauty. I mean, the ballet costumes were spectacular and I could see, in my mind, the storage room where they’re kept and how there’s people who mend them and dust them out. If I could only go into that room! So I strongly recommend seeing it. And also Yvonne Rainer. There’s a retrospective of her work opening soon. I’ve only seen her stuff on YouTube. I think that she’s very important and classic, and maybe a little underestimated. But she’s being rediscovered by a new generation now, what’s with the retrospectives in Europe and in America before, at the DIA.”

Yvonne Rainer, Trio A, 1973. The Portland Center for Visual Arts © The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2006.M.24)

“I copied her stuff when I worked on my dance pieces. Wait, no, I used her for ‘inspiration’.
In my work, the narrative is not the central thing, but it moves things forward. Also in Swan Lake. I didn’t know the story, I read it online later, so the ballet actually didn’t rely on the plot for me. What I didn’t like when I read the ‘story’ though was that thing with the names, Odile and Odette. It’s not like they speak in the ballet so why do we need to give them names? For Rainer, the plot is obsolete too. And I could actually see the development from classic ballet to Rainer: when I saw the pas de quatre with the four swans it totally reminded me of Rainer’s work, especially of her piece Trio A, but also of Samuel Beckett’s, who makes square patterns that repeat themselves, with four corners. You can see the formal development from Swan Lake to Beckett. It’s all about patterns repeating and small variations. It’s interesting that these developments make it more simplistic but at the same time, as in Beckett, render it more abstract. Discovering these connections was interesting for me, as was the idea of beauty and grace that I kind of forgot about. And so did Rainer. And Beckett. It may not be the most important thing but as you can tell, it left quite an impression. Especially the dry ice machine.”

“The choreography itself in my dance performances is also closer to Rainer than to Swan Lake. Obviously. Rainer was a minimalist in terms of stripping dance down to isolated movements and claiming that everyone is a dancer. She obviously hasn’t met me yet… I was ‘inspired’ by Trio A, meaning, I did the repeated patterns and the basic underlining feeling. I tried to copy the beauty of it, not the exact choreography. With Rainer, the patterns echo each other fluently and express one simple and singular thing. It’s one state of mind, presented in minor variations. So I can see the connection between my work and Rainer’s, but I’m probably also the only person who can find a connection between Rainer and Swan Lake. I hear she’s very nice and would probably be OK with the comparison now, but when she was starting out, Swan Lake was everything she worked against. ‘But I’m ground breaking! I’m anti’ she’d say.”

“In terms of stripping movement down, in Swan Lake the movements are there for beauty alone; otherwise it’s a fairy-tale, not a ballet. And with Rainer it’s movement for the sake of movement so really, what’s the difference? Especially in that pas de quatre? What do the four swans crossing arms and moving like a four-headed being have to do with the plot? They’re there because there’s music, there’s time and space, so there’s movement. “
As told to Hili Perlson. 

From Sleek 33, The Brand New Retro.

Yvonne Rainer, Space, Body, Language.
Kunsthaus Bergenz until April 9, and Museum Ludwig, April 4 – July 29 2012

Yvonne Rainer, Parts of Some Sextets, März 1965. With Robert Morris, Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Deborah Hay, Tony Holder, Sally Gross, Robert Rauschenberg, Judith Dunn und Joseph Schlichter. The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT © The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2006.M.24)


The Converse colour up

What happens when classic trainers and street art do a creative mash up? Converse, a wardrobe staple that runs across generations and styles (who hasn’t at one point in their lives owned a pair or two?) launched the project “Just Add Color”, bringing bright and colourful urban art to the streets of Germany. Artist like the team of Quintessenz Creation from Berlin, 44 flavours or Diskorobot lived out their visual fantasies on billboards in cities like Cologne and Berlin. Confetti-installations like the one at Alexanderplatz, which not only attracted much attention but also actually ignited a spontaneous confetti-party. Watch the video for the art project “Just Add Color”.



Patrick Perrin’s art and design fusion

Galerie BSL: Charles Kalpakian, 2012 ©Ulysse Fréchelin

A major event in the art market, the Pavillon des Art et du Design (PAD) has gained indisputable  reputation within the past fifteen years of its existence, whether in Paris – hometown of PAD – London, New York and most recently a Milan edition, to be launched in April 2013. Devoted to luscious designs, decorative arts and 20th Century painting, PAD brings together the most talented French and international dealers of the moment. Shortly before the start of the 16th edition of PAD, Patrick Perrin the founder of the fast growing and eclectic art and design fair invited us for a chat about good wine and good design – the French way of course.

Your very own family business, Gallerie Perrin, is known for 18th century antiquities. How did you decide to invest all your energy in showcasing modern and contemporary art and design?
Patrick Perrin:
The evolution of PAD was fast and radical. Within sixteen years, we went from ancient art and paintings to 20th and 21st century art and design. We aim to showcase the youngest and most avant-garde design galleries that we find worldwide. It was just a personal decision to create this type of platform: it’s of course showcasing my own taste and the one of our experts in the jury in charge of choosing the exhibitors, but at the end of the day, it’s also because I am in love with eclecticism.

Meaning that you mix up different styles and genres? Is it the main characteristics of PAD?
Fusing genres, mixing up different centuries…it’s all about showing a most diversified platform for art and design. It might look like a risky move, but I’m willing to take up the challenge in the name of good taste. I strongly believe that good taste reveals itself in a subtle mingle of genres, rather than in a “total look”. There is no hierarchy in design objects or works of art themselves. It’s the perception that builds up this false hierarchy, the impression that everything should be categorized and have its own place within the art market. At the end of the day, it’s about a feeling, about desirable aesthetics – the price of a design object or piece of art is not interesting at all. Being a passionate collector and art lover has nothing to do with a price tag. An art dealer that is only about being on the cover of Sotheby’s or Christie’s is not an art lover – he’s just a proper trading broker. Back in the days, before selling antiquities, my farther was selling furniture and random objects in flea markets. I grew up with his mercantile knowledge; I learnt that everything has a certain value, even seemingly insignificant objects that people would rather throw away. You can just randomly collect things you like, even if the object simply intrigues you. There is no need for a more sophisticated reason; it can be an impulsive choice. I’m for example collecting turtle shell at the moment – only of land turtles. The aquatic ones are not my thing, but don’t ask me why! You’d find some shells for only 10 euros, then the most expensive ones are worth a few thousands… like I said, there are plenty of ways to discover and collect art and design, not everything is dependent from having a considerable budget.

Patrick Perrin ©Céline Nieszawer

You seem to be quiet indifferent to money. Unfortunately, the art market is all but easy about it. Have you ever been forced to concessions regarding the creative direction of PAD, out of financial reasons?
I’m a nice guy. Even if I have a bad temper now and then, ask my friends, they’ll confirm. I simply can’t work on something that I don’t like. I like wines from Bordeaux and those from  Val de Loire, but I can’t stand the taste of Bourgogne wine. I simply don’t like it. When I cook, something I love to do, I will go to my favorite butcher on Ile Saint-Louis, there is no way I’ll go for supermarket meat. It’s the same for art: it’s a chosen lifestyle and an unhealthy obsession at the same time. To answer your question, I’m French, so naturally stubborn, therefore there is no way I’m making any type of concessions just because it might be more advantageous financially. I need to be passionate about something, whether for art, design, food, wines, even sports, it’s the same state of mind. I have the same approach for art and design: I want to concoct a tasteful experience. My aim is to show this quality, this so called French refinement that is appreciated world wide, through PAD’s eyes.

So it’s about being an art gourmet! What can we expect on the flavour full PAD menu for this upcoming edition?
First of all, it is all about the design and art object itself. This is why we want our scenography to be very simple and sleek. No massive decorations or installations. It’s about showcasing objects we appreciate, there’s no particular one we love more than another. I out together the choice of the exhibitors together with the PAD committee – a bunch of friends, not only experts in art and design, but stimulating aesthetes who have are not afraid of showing their personal opinion. There is just one taste and it’s the good one. PAD evolved not because our taste changed – on the contrary, we continue to fiercely represent and support our timeless eclecticism. We adapted to the requirements of the art market, but the spirit that builds up PAD is still the same. Even if we’re more focused on contemporary art than we were before, it’s still about a merry mix of audacious design objects and art pieces and we’re not about to stop.

Jardin des Tuileries
March 28 – April 1st


Designer Watch: Glenn Martens

Glenn Martens was born under a lucky star. The fashion design graduate of the esteemed Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp was one of the lucky fews to be chosen by Didier Grumbach – the head of the French Federation of Couture and Ready to Wear – to debut on the Parisian womenswear schedule with his very first presentation of his eponymous brand – all the while being chaperoned by Bruno Pieters.

Networking seems to be as much of a strength of Martens as designing: his creative team includes Rain Laurent, right hand-woman of Diane Pernet, as commercial director, Annabel Fernandes, an editor for Purple Magazine, as art director and Bianca O’Brien as model. Surround yourself with the right people and half of the job is done! As a matter of fact, a Warholesquefactory” attitude was apparent in the designer’s Parisian atelier/living-space: artists or friends went in and out sometimes working, sometimes just popping in for a coffee and a chat. It’s a very laid-back yet fruitful atmosphere – a casual attitude that rubbed off on Marten’s debut collection: wide and boxy shapes make for a sporty-chic element, while clearly defined lines and sharply cut silhouettes bring in the famous architectonic style attributed to Belgian designers. Sleek caught up with Martens during fashion week:

You studied fashion design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. We guess that this prestigious and conceptual school has rubbed off on your personal take on fashion.
Glenn Martens:
The Academy aims towards creating independent designers: you’re basically forced to find your own way, to create your own style. This helps a lot when you find yourself suddenly exposed to the fashion industry after finishing your studies. I used to work for Jean Paul Gaultier and did some smaller freelance design jobs, so I was used to different types of working situations within fashion before starting my own brand. But after training my skills out there, I felt like I needed to go back to what the school actually taught me to do to: express my own vision within fashion. This said, I see my brand more like a family; it’s about sharing and working on ideas with people you love. I’m surrounded by great friends who have a decisive impact on my brand. I could have never pulled this up on my own.

Your sleek and sharp silhouettes are inspired by the Late Gothic aesthetics of your hometown Bruges. How is Flemish primitive refinement à la Rogier van der Weyden funneled into your contemporary, sporty looks?
It’s very graphic still, even if it looks clean at first sight. The construction folds on skirts, the opulent pleats on dresses… I wanted to have a nostalgic essence in my collection, but at the same time it was really important for me to create wearable silhouettes. Back in Antwerp, it was always about being very experimental and not caring about commercial aspects. But in the real world, I actually want women to wear my pieces. This way the clothes turned out very comfortable even if the inspiration sounds heavy. I used casual jersey and loose wool, which we strengthened in order to get sharp lines – I think it pretty much explains this ambiguity that lies between the collection and its background story. At the end of the day, I just think it’s nice to do wearable garments. As for Bruges, the story of the town just fascinates me. The drama of its Gothic surroundings is in my veins as I grew up there. It’s obviously well known for Flemish Old Masters during the late Gothic and early Renaissance period. I like to use these very medieval aesthetics and clash them with contemporary ones. You might also have noticed this in the way we worked on our fabrics: dusty moirés turned into shiny bomber jackets, carefully hand-pleated bustier dresses out of nylon and silk –  I just love to merge opposites. The dualism keeps me going.

Have a closer look at Glenn Martens collection here.



Paris x Berlin at L’Eclaireur with Augustin Teboul

'Crystal Bloom' installation by Nini Gollong. Photo ©Louis_LB

For Autumn-Winter 2012/13, Berlin-based designer duo Annelie Augustin and Odély Teboul teamed up with fashion photographer Stefan Milev, set designer Nini Gollong and sound designer Hamid Bagherzadeh to present their new collection at the French multi-brand concept store L’Eclaireur, located in the heart of Le Marais district.

The objective was to put the upcoming winter collection with its opulent, post-romantic, and dizzyingly intricate lace and macramé pieces in context. As it goes, for many young designers lacking the funds for a catwalk fashion show, coming up with creative alternatives is vital and crucial. In Augustin Teboul’s case it was done with success: Nini Gollong crafted an installation named “Crystal Bloom” in which she created a serene atmosphere by swathing one delicate dress in 900 Feng Shui crystals, bathed in light and yet immersed in soothing darkness.

The team at L'Eclaireur. Photo ©Louis_LB

Was Gollong aware of the fact that Augustin Teboul is about the same state of mind – merging a dreamy nostalgia with contemporary aesthetics? “Not really, it was completely by chance. I am generally fascinated with light and reflection – crystals and mirrors are just part of my toolbox”, explains Gollong. “I wanted to create a place to ease your mind, that would somehow be defined by natural and yet modern elements. I created reinforced laced-mirrors, which built a path to the wooden block by Or Design on which the dress was hanging.”

Hamid’s enigmatic music and Stefan’s nostalgic pictures, somewhere between photography and painting, were also a perfect fit for the collection, which was filled with moulded and padded leather, crochet finishing and details, soft draping and heavy embroideries in black. “We are always about sheer, black aesthetics. We like how contrary elements such as raw leather and delicate crochet merge together – a mixture of rock ‘n’ roll and poetry. The challenge of being in between couture and ready-to-wear is what keeps us going”, explains Odély Teboul. The designers are also inspired by Surrealism, especially by André Breton’s Exquisite Corpse word game. Strangely enough though we can’t see any exploration of randomness and fortuity in Augustin Teboul’s collection. On the contrary; their garments are precise pieces of art, where even the smallest handcrafted detail has a carefully thought-out role – this is what makes them worthy of the couture attribution.

The time is ripe

Curator and Sleek Editor Ana Finel Honigman (left) with Emilie Trice. Photo ©Maxime Ballesteros

Berlin’s Tape Club closed its doors last month on the Heide Strasse location it has occupied for several years – an area that the club, together with a number of galleries, helped liven up. Though still somewhat of a no man’s land largely referred to as “the area behind Hauptbahnhof,” rumour has it that the vacant lot will soon be turned into a luxury residential area. It was therefore only fitting that Tape Club’s final exhibition in their series of legendary one night art shows ensued by arty parties, Tape Modern, was centered on the theme of maturity, the city’s very own coming of age serving as a backdrop. As the club already left its Heide Strasse premises, the show was held at an off-location on Moll Strasse 1 – an address that also symbolizes the city’s changing landscape and histories, as it used to be the headquarters of the GDR’s only news agency, the ADN. Located diagonally across from Soho House, the building will soon house Berlin’s first Standard Hotel. Sleek talked to co-curator Ana Finel Honigman inside the former ADN Newsroom turned club. 

Sleek: Why did you decide on “maturity” as your exhibition theme?
AFH: I’ve been ruminating on the definition of adulthood for a while lately. It seems that people and communities experience the same transitional tensions between growing old and growing up. For individuals and communities, there is a real authority and power to being perceived as cool, sexy and youthful. Exchanging that for the stability, security and structure of conventional adulthood can be difficult. It can also be fraught with real self-doubt. Berlin is still internationally perceived as the perfect prelapsarian playground but it is changing. Actually, the gentrification is already so deeply entrenched that it’s nostalgic to keep commenting on the new manifestations of it. Personally, I’m a little heart-broken seeing the graffiti get covered in peachy paint on Torstrasse. So, I decided to curate a show that asked a group of my and Amir’s favorite artists to comment on their personal definition of “maturity” and its meaning.

Two works by Angela Liosi. Photo ©Maxime Ballesteros

Sleek:  How does the temporary TAPE space relate to your theme?
AFH: It relates perfectly by embodying a cautionary caveat to everything Berlin’s youthful freedom represents. We hung all the work in completely typical offices. The fluorescent lighting, textured milky white ceiling panels, white walls and dull carpet represent oppressive, numbing, stultifying office environments throughout the world. Those banal rooms could be located in Ohio, Seoul or Slough, where the UK’s “The Office” is based. Placing the art there makes the offices themselves almost become like a set for the work to act against. In a city with Berlin’s accessible standard of living, few artists can survive without day-jobs. Many work in similar offices during their workweek and scramble to create when they can. Those types of offices are also the locations associated with the worst, repressive aspects of “growing up.”

Sleek: So, is the art rebelliously squatting in the offices’ space?
AFH: In a sense, it is. It’s occupying it before offices like it occupy the artists’ lives.

Sleek: Were you surprised by the artists’ takes on the theme?
AFH: Actually, I was enormously surprised and excited by the variety of responses. I assumed that most people would address universal milestones, like parenthood or even a move abroad. But most of the artists responded more abstractly. All the work was rich and wonderful but the piece that moved me most was a trio of sculptures by the extraordinary Latvian artist, Kristine Alksne. She created subtly captivating topographical peaks from the carved pages of books placed on concrete and metal plinths. These haunting, understated sculptures will be shown in the Moscow Biennial and have already been at Riga’s leading arts festival. At TAPE, I think they poetically represented the value of personal scholarship or education in shaping our identities and ability to transcend drab, alienating, depersonalized urban routines. Angela Liosi’s enchanting drawing and midnight-colored velvet sculpture express a similar sense of accumulated personal depth. The drawing is one in an extended Surrealist series, in which Liosi depicts the exposed, oddly-shaped surface of a rock located in the ocean near Greece. Each work in the series has the same beginning portrait of the rock structure but the depths beneath the water are all different. Some are whimsical, whereas others are dark and sinister. The series represents the wealth of potential psychological depth supporting our superficial selves. Both artists do a really beautiful job of representing maturity, not as a rupture between youth and age, but as a gradual and profound evolutionary process. It’s the most exciting and rewarding image of maturity and its potential to keep the best aspects of ourselves fresh, while developing into interesting new identities.

A stuio visit with Kristine Alksne is featured in the upcoming issue of Sleek

Tape Modern No. 26 RIPE – the final exhibition
Curated by Ana Finel Honigman and Amir Fattal

Participating artists: Kristine Alksne | Awst-Walther | Bram Braam | Maxime Ballesteros | Cecile B Evans | Amir Fattal | Carly Fischer | Thea Gregorius | Alison Jackson | Michelle Jezierski | Angela Liosi | Liav Mizrahi | Matthew Cyr Morrocco | Jennifer Oellerich  | Leila Pazooki | Javier Peres | Jen Ray | Hannes Ribarits | Sameer reddy  | Judy Ross | Victoria Roth | Maya Schweizer | Emmy Skensved | Philipp Topolovac



The Brotherhood arrives in Berlin

80th Thrash Metal Fan Avenida 9 de Julho São Paolo, Brazil November 2010 40 x 50 cm © Jörg Brüggemann

Over the last three years Jörg Brüggemann has dedicated his life to capturing the people behind the mounds of greasy, long black hair, the cans of (normally) cheap beer and smoky smelling leather biker jackets, for the photographic series aptly titled “Metalheads”. Traveling to countless cities around the World and enduring endless hours of metal gigs and festivals (and most likely suffering from tinnitus that lasts for days), Brüggemann has successfully managed to capture the essence and undenying passion of the 1980’s heavy metal scene in today’s society. Confirming that despite whether you love it or hate it, heavy metal is here to stay.

Although Brüggemann’s “Metalheads” could just be taken as a light-hearted documentary with its often humorous images, Brüggemann proves the viewer wrong and instead shows a community with a bond that is so strong that it goes beyond the barriers of gender, age, background, social class or religion.

From 16th March – 21st April 2012 Gestalten Space will be exhibiting “Metalheads” accompanied with a series of events surrounding the heavy metal community.



Pacific Standard Time, L.A. in Berlin

Ed Ruscha, Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas 1963. Oil on canvas Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; gift of James Meeker, Class of 1958, in memory of Lee English, Class of 1958, scholar, poet, athlete and friend to all. © Ed Ruscha

A new art scene developed in post-WWII Los Angeles, making for a unique strand of innovative art only to be found in South California. Artists were open to using new techniques and exploring new styles inspired by the landscape, abundance of light, Hollywood, the technical advances of the regional industries and the surf-and-car-culture. The major survey show by the Getty Reserach Institute, Pacific Standard Time, that opened last year in L.A. and now moved to Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau, proves that L.A. was an important hub for the creation of original genres like Pop Art, abstract painting and minimal sculptures. The exhibition’s message is delivered with pride not bitterness: New York was not alone in America’s post-WWII art development and though L.A. might have been late to join, it more than made up for it.

“Pacific Standard Time presents a newly contrived narrative of the history of L.A. art,” states Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Director of the Getty Research Institute. The exhibition focuses on the years between 1940 and 1980 showcasing an impressive collection of well-known works from the likes of David Hockney, Ed Ruscha and Edward Kienholz, but also giving stage to less prominent names. “The core research of this project was bringing known and unknown names together and letting the viewer make new discoveries,” explains Rani Singh, curator of the show.

Judy Chicago, Big Blue Pink, 1971. Sprayed acyrlic lacquer on acrylic Courtesy Tom Jancar Gallery, Los Angeles © Judy Chicago, 1971/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2012 Foto: Donald Woodman

L.A. also became an important location for feminist art in the seventies (when feminist art wasn’t a bad word) as female artists were reacting to the sexism they encountered in the male dominated art scene. They established their own galleries like Womanspace and Woman’s Building. In art and activism, they approached topics of sexual and violent acts against women too. The exhibition displays the feminist movement with a range of images, posters and memorabilia. The roster of women artist in the show includes famous feminist Judy Chicago with Big Blue Pink – one of her less explicit works – Marjorie Cameron, Vija Celmins and Mary Corse.

David Hockney, A Bigger Splash, 1967. Acrylic on canvas 2,4m x 2,4m © David Hockney Collection: Tate Gallery, London, 2011

The exhibition is set up like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game: go to the right and you will encounter Getty research showing letters, photographs, newsletters, video interviews and posters helping you to situate yourself in the political and cultural climate of L.A. and understand the artist’s relationship to their public and later on, collectors. Some nice surprises include photography by Dennis Hopper and Julius Shulman. Go to the left and you’ll encounter more than 70 paintings and sculptures including the works of the above-mentioned big names.

Berlin is the exhibition’s only other location after it has left its native California. Why Berlin? “L.A was being recognized in Germany for its art before any other place did. It only makes sense for it to be here,” concludes Peter-Klaus Schuster, General Director of Emeritus.

Pacific Standard Time
Art in Los Angeles 1950–1980
March 15 – June 10 2012

Text by Grashina Gabelmann 

The Eternal Avant-Garde

Butterfly, 1974. Courtesy of Kujo Kyoko and Terayama World

Japanese artist Shuji Terayama (1935-1983) was a vital figure in Japan’s post-war counter-cultural movement. Unique not only in regard to the final product, but also in his broad and varied use of media ranging from radio, drama, theatre, experimental television, photography and poetry, although not containing himself to the art world either -he was quite the successful horse tipster too! Terayama’s methods were controversial and the outcomes often unexpected and always shocking, with theatre critic Akihiko Senda labelling Terayama as “the eternal avant-garde”.

Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall will display a selection of his work from the 16th to the 25th of March. To celebrate Terayama’s many forms of expression, the 10 day long exhibition will include his film work, a symposium on his transmedia work and a live cinema performance. 

Shuji Terayama at Tate Modern 
16-25th March





Paris Fashion Week was a moveable feast

Paris once again was the main fashion spotlight during an eight-day marathon. This season was no different regarding the usual fashion musical chairs and the drama or gossip that goes with it. Stefano Pilati presented his last show for Yves Saint Laurent, sealed with a standing ovation and accolades from Anna Wintour. Hedi Slimane will step in as new creative director at YSL. The daily dish on the still vacant position at Dior alternated between former Jil Sander designer Raf Simons, Maxime Simoens, who’d only recently completely revamped Léonard, and Haider Ackermann, who was also responsible for the week’s most harmless gossip: it was said that an opulent flower bouquet was sent in his name to Dior’s headquarters.

Alber Elbaz, maybe commenting on the nature of the industry, impressed with a version of Que Sera Sera at his 10th anniversary at the helm of Lanvin, before throwing a cake and champagne party. Last but not least, “designer” Kanye West wasn’t a complete failure this season! We actually found a whole of three silhouettes in his biker/hip hop/wannabe Givenchy collection that actually made sense.
Some obvious trends: Models swathed mainly in leather variations – matt, crinkled, painted, you name it. Also with hints of fur, at Gareth Pugh’s. Exaggerated peplums on sensuous silhouettes were spotted at Lanvin and Haider Ackermann, who both succeeded with emotionally stunning and serene shows. Lacoste designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who showcased his eponymous line and wunderkind Pedro Lourenço both opted for a distinctive patchwork of fabrics, with leathers, silks and wools, carved into sporty yet feminine silhouettes.

Then there were some Asian inspired prints and embroideries at Dries Van Noten, while Léonard and Mugler went for Kimono-like cuts. In general, the focus was set on a fitted waistline. The colour-palette was decent, mostly comprising mineral nuances and splashes of indigo blue and light pumpkin. We saw iridescent hints of metallic or copper shades, as seen at Cédric Charlier’s debut show. But above all, this season was about embellishing the garment’s surface: Young designer Olivier Rousteing, who took over the reins of Balmain after Decarnin’s departure, finally managed to bring some refinement into the house’s signature sexiness, with embroidered floral tapestries and pearl detailing. Guillaume Henry conjured up a medieval scene, printing motifs from master paintings on girly bubble dresses, and Stella McCartney showed sporty silhouettes adorned with floral swirls. Finally, the others, the non-commercial “outsiders” such as Jean-Charles de Castelbajac or Bernhard Willhelm, showed cheerful, even audacious collections.

Photographer Nicolas Aristidou spotted some memorable moments on and off the catwalk. See you next season!

All photos © Nicolas Aristidou

Fantastic Men, LVMJ at Les Arts Décoratifs

Marc Jacobs, one of the most influential contemporaneous designers, takes stock of the Louis Vuitton phenomenon in Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs. How did Louis Vuitton kick off his career? What did Jacobs add to the Vuitton legacy? These questions and more receive a striking visual exhibition, curated by Pamela Golbin, Chief Curator of Les Arts Décoratifs, and the brain behind such iconic shows as the Hussein Chalayan, Elsa Schiaparelli and Cristobal Balenciaga retrospectives.

On the first floor, we find the very first registered patent versions of the iconic Louis Vuitton trunks – including a fabulous late nineteenth century bed trunk – to remind us, lest we forget, that Louis Vuitton was a specialized “trunk-maker and packer” before it turned into one of the world’s most prominent fashion houses. Looking at the precious exponents, however, a lineage of attitude and innovativeness can be retraced: noticing that the female bourgeois wardrobe was developing fast (like the introduction of one dress for each time of the day, for instance) the trunk-maker added a decisive precision “Speciality in the Packing of Fashion”. Ever since, Vuitton developed his very own aesthetics: while the first trunks were covered in grey waterproof wax canvas, he continued to creating more attractive ones like the striped the “Damier” canvases, which integrated his insignia on the trunk. In 1896, his son Georges continued the legacy and invented the now ubiquitous “LV” monogram, made even more desirable with a Takashi Murakami facelift over a century later.

Marc Jacobs, on the other hand, invite us into his eye-popping and flashy world of contemporary Louis Vuitton, from Dorothy to Courtney Love and beyond. (As impressive as a romantic bed-trunk can be, it’s hard to compete with a Kate Moss mannequin—her head replaced by that of a snarling panther—wearing a French maid ensemble of Jacobs’s design and posed on all fours.)

By introducing the house’s first ready-to-wear collections in history, not to mention accessories, the Jacobs certainly made the cash tills at LV ring. But financial success aside, Marc Jacobs states he’ll continue to create “with impulses rather than numbers, because fashion is not a science”. Alongside the light-boxes, you’ll discover an array of thrilling window installations, such as a Steven Sprouse inspired wallpaper set, reminiscent of the iconic graffiti logo bags back in 2001, or a cheeky cupcake-inspired window setting that showcases one bag of each collection Jacobs did so far.

Besides retracing the story of two fantastic men, one floor dedicated to each, the exhibition is predominantly about two historical parallels that can be translated into fashion: nineteenth century industrialization and twenty-first century globalization, two historical periods that saw paradigmatic shifts in mercantile custom, and which left a considerable impact on fashion consumerism.

The wall of handbags, albeit its relevancy to the tale of a company’s transformation, still exudes commerce at its most basic level. So while Jacobs has brought artistry, visual culture, and a hyper-popism to Louis Vuitton, at its core it still remains a specialist in packing— and packaging—fashion.

Lousi Vuitton – Marc Jacobs
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
March 9 – September 16, 2012




Gelitin’s hot show at Perrotin

Gelitin, Début du duvet, 2012. Plastiline on photocollage. 99 x 148,5 x 18 cm. Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Paris

This Saturday, Austrian collective Gelitin will open a show at Galerie Emnnauel Perrotin, Paris, entitled the Voulez Vous Chaud – a pun on the English ‘show’ and French for ‘hot’. It’s no surprise that the gang of four, who met in the seventies at summercamp and joined arms to startle and outrage the art crowds in 1993, will be displaying pieces as humorous and subtly politicized as awlays. Plenty of nude self-portraits are to be expected, as we were told. The hilariously evasive quartet answered Sleek’s questions by composing a limerick for each.

What are you saying about the world and market of art?
We say it is a big world.
A big world with a lot of onknown teritorry to be discovered yet.
A lot of history a lot of future.
A big playground getting bigger and bigger every day.
The market is just part of this world.

What is the story behind the title?
“The voulez vous chaud” is the title for a gallery show in Paris.
The French language is a beautiful language.
And we like the sound of it a lot.
It is a great language for compliments and classic catchy phrases.
There are some great lines that start with: voulez vous….
Voulez vous frais fraise de Père Lachaise
Voulez vouz ça-va, ça vient
Voulez vous la merde c’est moi
Voulez vous manger à l’œil
Voulez vous oh la la
Voulez vous la mère du maire est mon frère
Voulez vous début du duvet
Voulez vous descendez à la cave
Voulez vous métro – boulot – dodo

What is the biggest novelty in the show?
“The voulez vous chaud”
features a series of fresh new Gelatin paintings.
Joyful, bold, avant-garde paintings.

What story are you telling, what are you critiquing?
The story is about everything and nothing.
The story is about: life, love, lust, loosing, longing, lonelyness, liberation, looks, licks, loops, any letter you pick.

Why is humour still important to you?
What do you mean by still?
But, yes humor is  important, as it is the topping on the cake of  sadness, joy and tragedy.
What is there left to do  when you can’t laugh about it ?

Gelitin, “The voulez vous chaud”
March 10 – April 21 2012
Galerie Perrotin, Paris