Ed Atkins at Chisenhale

Production still from »Us Dead Talk Love«, 2012 by Ed Atkins

So begins Ed Atkins’ video Us Dead Talk Love – physiologically and dissonant, narrated by a digitally-rendered, severed bald head. The centrepiece of Atkins’ solo show of the same name at Chisenhale Gallery is this two-channel digital video, which is screened in the middle of an auditorium styled room. The video consists mostly of disjointed graphics of this wobbling and roving head, hair-like squiggles floating across the screen, and occasional, erratic apses into operatic mantras. The narrator seems to be recounting an instance of love posthumously, from the grave of a two-channel projection (the projection is even deliberately angled so that shadows of light create sarcophagus-like blocks on the wall). Also in the exhibition are several panels leaned up against the main room’s large wall depicting dishevelled pillows (and squiggle-lines).

Death has been Atkins’ theme in recent videos, most recently “A Tumour” (2012) shown at the Bonner Kunstverein. It’s all-bizarre, done blankly and earnestly, and with an unconventional pairing of weird humour and casual meditative-ness. Sometimes Atkins’ narrator sounds clinical, the way an alien might perceive and describe the human experience of love. The very words “dead talk” in the title might well describe Atkins’ literary approach, as if the phrase itself were a verb, and the video was an instance of “dead talking.” As in other videos, “Us Dead Talk Love” seems to be a digital moving-image illustration of a piece of text (a transcript of the text was being sold by Chisenhale at the gallery counter). The piece relies above all on a highly-charged stream of language; Atkins’ associative animation is stream-of-conscious and disjointed, and seems to enact a slippage between text and video: the animated narrator sometimes only vaguely seems to be speaking the words on an audio-track, like a lazy and goofy illustration of semiotic slippage. “I, as in ‘I’.”

Installation view from »Us Dead Talk Love«, 2012 by Ed Atkins

Unlike Ryan Trecartin’s YouTube-informed excavations of the consumer present, Atkin’s videos and texts are unabashedly literary, of the Modernist sort. Atkins seems to have borrowed Samuel Beckett’s favourite themes (death, sex, scatology), as well as his way of elevating the banal particular (a pillow, a urinal) into the cosmic (absence, detritus). Key here is Schkloskian ostranenie, or the estrangement of the everyday: an eyelash comes to seem like a slit across someone’s neck (the narrator is, again, beheaded). It’s refreshing to see these pitted against the technology of digital animation, which is playfully and often haphazardly done. Despite Atkin’s references to Maurice Blanchot’s tight equations (an orgasm = a tiny death), Atkins’ lexicon comes across as brash and fresh. Other times, his transcript seems adolescent. “A collapse of experience, of sensible apprehension” sounds like a college love poem constructed out of phrases from French phenomenology (from Merleau-Ponty, probably). More interesting are some of Atkins’ surrealist associations: “dead growing. / Stalactites, for example” is a perfect example of the kinds of posthumous accumulations Atkins takes as his theme. I’m curious to see where Atkins takes these pairings, and whether or not he will move past the grandiose, Homeric themes: death, sex, love. Or is Atkins, like his narrator, self-consciously “mistaking the utterly null for the terrifically important”?

Text: Pablo Larios

Ed Atkins
“Us Dead Talk Love”
Until 11 November, 2012
Chisenhale Gallery, London

Catch Ed Atkins in conversation with Mike Sperlinger
Tuesday 30 October, 7pm

Schön von hinten with Avelon

When Berlin duo Stereo Total sang “Du bist schön von hinten” it wasn’t exactly meant as a compliment, but Dutch label Avelon (read Sleek’s interview with creative director Erik Frenken) now turns the diss into kudos with a pair of jeans aptly called Neon Raven. Mixing denim with leather details on the back of the calves and around the waist, this pair is the hottest companion for the cold winter season.

Neon Raven will send you back 299 Euros in the stores, but it’s a month before Christmas and we’re feeling generous. Write us an Email to get@sleekmag.com to win a pair of Avelon denim and leather pants.

Handmade in Germany 2012

Quality, efficiency and a very marked sense of duty – that is what Germans are known for as far as national stereotypes go. Pascal Johannsen and Katja Kleiss managed to splendidly update the tired cliché with the exhibition on the current state of affairs of „Handmade in Germany“.

Designers, artists and manufacturers come together to showcase their unique, quality products in Berlin’s Direktorenhaus – the perfect venue in which to celebrate traditional art and craft methods merged with new technologies. Its artistic usage goes back to the period of the Second World War: the old vaults were formerly used to protect artworks of the National Museum Berlin from bombing raids.

The exhibition gives an insight into the work of 30 artisans, giving an overview of the newest in German product design, technologies and aesthetics. The exhibition is by appointment only. For those who appreciate individual design and great attention to detail, make sure to visitit.

Handmade In Germany
October 27 – November 14, 2012
Direktorenhaus Berlin



Porcelain, glass, and class

Luxury porcelain brand, Rosenthal, is opening a new location on Berlin’s famous shopping strip, the Ku’damm. Combining art, design and lifestyle to create innovative concepts and designer partnerships using the classic mediums of porcelain, glass, and cutlery, the store invites the customer to enjoy a top class experience in the Rosenthal microcosmos. 

The new store beams an air of light and spaciosuness, playing with an open plan design. The interior includes furnishings from Rosenthal Chairs by Thonet and Sisman, lamps by ClassiCon and tables by Martensen, and turns the environment into an integral part of the overall concept.

Besides for the Rosenthal products, the location will function as a platform presented at regular intervals to showcase the work of young artists and designers, with the first presentation by Natalie and Matthias Högger with their company “Formfreud”.

Rosenthal Store Berlin 
Kurfürstendamm 200 
Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. 
Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 

Rob Pruitt’s pandas get a fashion makeover

When Jimmy Choo recently announced their collaboration with Rob Pruitt on a capsule collection for Cruise 2013, we knew the outcome would be fantastically wild. Famous for his glitter panda paintings, Pruitt got together with the luxury retailer to create a line of graphic and colourful accessories including shoes, wallets, scarves, and bags for grown-ups with a knack for ‘My Little Pony’ style rainbow hues.

Pruitt is not the first artist to work with Choo – Nan Goldin worked on the Cruise 2012 “Icons” collection, Marilyn Minter on the Cruise 2011 “Crystal” collection, and Richard Phillips on the SS 2008 collection. To mark the launch of the new collaboration, an animation entitled ‘Angel Panda, Evil Panda’ by celebrated illustrator Jo Ratcliffe was revealed, featuring Pruitt’s iconic pandas. The Angel and Devil Pandas are the concept behind artist’s collaboration with Jimmy Choo and manifest throughout the collection in the linings of the shoes and bags, or as emblems on toe-caps. In his own words, Pruitt explained “I think there is a certain amount of role-playing fantasy that goes into the ritual of buying shoes and I wanted to play up that idea literally with the Angel and Devil panda; it’s the classic good girl / bad girl play.”

Nicholas Kirkwood – Heels on top

Nicholas Kirkwood by Sophie Delaporte

One could assume Nicholas Kirkwood is a true shoe fetishist. Who else would be able to come up with 150 (!) pairs of shoes for a single collection without neglecting his numerous collaborations with other designers like, most recently, with Karl Lagerfeld for Fendi and the creative duo of Peter Pilotto. Sleek met the German-born designer in his Parisian showroom for a quick yet revealing chat on his profession of passion: audacious and beautiful shoe design.

Sleek: You’ve created 150 pieces for your new Spring/Summer 2013 collection, despite the recent collaboration with Fendi. We’re wondering, how long does it take to work on one model?
Nicholas Kirkwood: It’s really hard to say, as it depends on the design of each piece – some are easier to make and others are more challenging. But in general, I need approximately one day to think and draw one particular shape, then maybe one more day to work on the patterns and finally, as soon as we’ve got all the leathers together in the atelier, it can take two or three more days to sew the sample. I’d say that we need less than one week for each sample, and the production needs much more time of course. It seems to take forever! Quality takes time I guess. 

Your newest collection reflects a lot of different aesthetics. What can you tell us about the different style universes of S/S 2013?
My main starting point was the shape of the wave, exploring different ways of how to use it. I tried to reinterpret its shape throughout the whole collection. Sometimes the wave forms the leather patterns of my shoes, and other time it suggests a bolder version of a high heel. I also used curvy shapes for the cut-outs on some shoes and worked a lot on the geometrical shapes of the heels. Fabric-wise, my favourite choice for this collection was printed suede, it’s basically a foil embossing on the suede fabric, that I combined with leather. I enjoy playing with textures! Then, my collections are always somehow about the interaction of masculine and feminine elements – I therefore also decided to add more cheeky detailing, like frills, animal-prints or eye-catching colours. When I say “masculine elements”, I’m not referring to masculine shoe shapes, I rather think of clear lines and geometries. This said, my biggest wish at the moment would be to start a men’s line. I just started to work on it, so we’ll see. In any case, they’re going to be for the boyfriend of the girl who wears my shoes.

From your numerous collaborations, is there one that you feel particularly related to?
It is not necessarily always easy to work with other creative minds, as everybody has his own particular vision of what the collaboration should look like. Just as in many other situations, good communication is necessary in order to guarantee that everybody is happy with the end result. At the end of the day, it is all about fusing the visual identities of both brands. Realising the S/S 2013 shoes collection for Fendi was a good experience, as Karl always has a very precise idea in mind and at the same time, he gave me enough space to experiment and bring in my ideas to the table. There is no one collaboration that I liked more than another; they are all special to me. Plus, I’m a perfectionist – designers all tend to be – so it’s always a challenge to work with like-minded people!





European Month of Photography Berlin

C/O Berlin. International Forum for Visual Dialogues © Joel Sternfeld, A Woman Out Shopping With Her Pet Rabbit, Santa Monica, California, August 1998

Germany’s largest photo festival, European Month of Photography Berlin, is upon us again and this time it’s bigger than ever. Boasting of 100 participants and 110 exhibitions, this photography festival promises to offer insight into the Berlin photo scene like never before. 

Taking place from October 19th to November 25th, the theme running throughout the festival for this year is “The View of the Other”, which is an active turn towards encouraging a dialogue and “the recognition of an alien perspective.” 

As well as visiting the numerous exhibitions dotted around the city, make sure to visit the very heart of the festival, located at the very heart of Berlin: the Brandenburger Tor, where the exhibition “Cairo. Open City – New Testimonies from an Ongoing Revolution” in collaboration with the Museum für Photographie Braunschweig, will be displayed for the duration of the festival.

European Month of Photography Berlin
October 19th – November 25th 2012



Hernan Bas at Galerie Perrotin, Paris

Hernan Bas "Unknown poet #13 (He was obsessed with color)" 2012. Acrylic, silkscreen, 24K gold leaf and graphite on gold dusted paper 33 x 28 cm. Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong & Paris

Born in 1976, the Detroit-based artist excels at juxtaposing references from art history – some more obvious, others less so – in a masterly yet nonchalant, Tumbler-esque approach. His current solo show at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, is entitled ‘Thirty-Six Unknown Poets (or, decorative objects for the homosexual home)’. This nudges at the ‘Thirty Six Poets Immortals’, a group of Japanese poets compiled by legendary writer Fujiwara No Kinto in 1009, who believed their work had an eternal value. The title is revealing: Its first part turns the idea of timelessness on its head and ponders the destiny of utterly forgettable work; its second part adds a tongue-in-cheek, self-aware layer, which is vital to Bas’ œuvre.

In the large, airy room of Passage Saint Claude, small portraits of young men – all invented unknown poets – are on display. They both look fashionable and evocative of 19th century male portraiture – something also apparent in the work of his contemporaries Christian Schoeler and Elizabeth Peyton. Stylistically, Bas appears to consciously cite Gustav Klimt in his repetitive use of gold leaf, on lips or buttons, as well as Egon Schiele for the emaciated features of the men. Nevertheless, he adds a comic, awkwardly personal touch to each portrait by adding captions such as “he thought Baudelaire was overrated”, “his parents encouraged medical school” or “his last poem was about suicide”. The interior of the room is decorated, or rather populated, with painted panels inspired by the Japanese tradition as well as the Nubis movement. These are ornamented with finely crafted skyscrapers and Van Gogh-like sunflowers, creating a poetic, post-modern landscape within the gallery. Hernan Bas, for his adroit homage to German Expressionism that he infuses with contemporary interrogations, makes it a potent, relevant, and deeply enjoyable show.

Hernan Bas
Thirty-six Unknown Poets (or, decorative objects for the homosexual home)
Until October 27, 2012
Galerie Perrotin, Paris


Love Me – I’m Trying

Maxime Ballesteros, Merle in Black, on the Bed

You can’t really say you have been to Berlin if you haven’t been seen and snapped at one of the city’s many nightlife spots by Maxime Ballesteros.  Moving to Berlin in 2007 from Lyon, Ballesteros has become a name that anyone who crosses into the fashion and art scene in Berlin knows. As familiar as the hazy head on the morning after, a Ballesteros portrait from the night before is something that has become a staple in the Berlin party scene.   

Merging international high fashion with the capital’s party world, and high contrast portraits that make any one of his sitters look like someone that you probably should know, and most likely, want to be, Ballesteros has also mastered the art of diversity in his work, with also shooting landscapes that border on being nostalgic as much as they are beautiful. 

Tonight at Seven Star Gallery until November 17th , “Love Me – I’m Trying“ will exhibit a collection of Ballesteros’s works, where the subjects of his work come alive, with what will undoubtedly be, one of those vernissages you really don’t want to miss. 



Christophe Lemaire: Fashion and beyond

Christophe Lemaire SS13. Photo © Axl Jansen

Tired of fashion feuds? The post-Galliano drama at Dior, Saint-Laurent without Yves, Cathy Horyn’s twitterclash with Oscar de la Renta (first served) and Hedi Slimane (came after) and so on… it seems like designers rarely get in the spotlight anymore for what they actually do – designing. In order to take a step back from the ongoing madness we talked to one of them, Christophe Lemaire, who only pushes the needle where it belongs – in garments, not in people’s self-esteem.

Directing both Hermès womenswear and his own eponymous brand, Lemaire might have a double life when it comes to fashion design but he managed to keep his feet on the ground while successfully leading both labels and it’s precisely his discreet attitude and bold tailoring which earned him the respect of his peers.

“I’m certainly not the only one who thinks like this among the designers, but I am interested in a lot of things apart from fashion”, says Lemaire when asked about his inspirations. “I was a DJ [Lemaire released the mixtape “Where are you from?” on Now-Again Records in 2011] and I stopped it because I had too much work, but music in general has still a great influence on me. I’m in love with culture and spirituality in general and also politics. You have to understand your own generation if you want to make suitable clothing as a designer.”

Just as discrete as her creator, Lemaire’s spring/summer 2013 woman feels more at ease in the comfort of her home than on the runway. Lemaire plays with both masculine aesthetics and casual couture spirits, thereby creating an effortless and timeless style. “It takes a certain maturity and intellectual background to be a designer. I am not trying to be pretentious by saying this, I guess it’s the same for every other artist; you need to have a coherent discourse through your work and this is something you usually get with time and experience”, adds Lemaire.

The scenery of the presentation itself was all about cosiness and nonchalance: models strolled around a minimally furnished apartment in the very heart of Paris, sometimes mimicking a catnap or taking a tea break. Fashion shown through everyday scenes that seem way more natural than a runway. When it comes to femininity, Lemaire has a precise idea in mind: “I cannot identify with the constant will of changing styles and attitudes every six months; this is just not adapted to real life. I’m lucky enough to work for a traditional house like Hermès, which is staying true to its signature style. We’re all about luxurious utility, not unwearable fashion that follows trends. My ideal woman is all about dignity and modesty, she’s simply real. Not the woman that our society and showbusiness has been making up for a while: an eccentric creature, almost plastic, which uses her exaggerated sex appeal, walking on 12cm heels. And this is supposed to be natural? 

And natural it is! Christophe Lemaire indeed did justice to real femininity in his latest spring/summer collection. Particular eyecatchers were men’s costume-inspired trousers in denim or topstitched gabardine came along with boyish shirts and loose-fit pyjama inspired dresses in cotton poplins and linen. Fitted trenches were sported easily on the shoulders, while some button plackets on shirts where sometimes left open and belts worn loose in order to underscore Lemaire’s easy-chic. As for the colour palette, the Matisse-inspired hues were all about ultramarine, amber, grass green and coral. Berlin people can be happy: Weekday is from now on selling the very best of Christophe Lemaire’s collections.


Fashion Now, Art Forever arrives on the iPad

The new, refreshed Sleek magazine – a unique, Berlin-based themed curation of all the best in contemporary art and avant-garde fashion – today launches its own app, enabling tablet owners to subscribe and download the current issue, along with the previous two issues (Sleek 33, “The Brand New Retro” and Sleek 34 “The Trip”).

The Sleek app is available through the iTunes store with each issue costing just €3.99, and an annual subscription for four issues just €15.99

Subscribe now for essential (and portable) views, interview, curation and comment from the leading edge of the creative fashion and art worlds.

 Available here.

School’s out

Photo © Matt Lambert

Berlin-based film maker and head of video for the London-based art collective, Bare Bones, Matt Lambert, has turned his attention to the darker side of photography for his latest shoot. 

No stranger to the distorted and disturbing, Lambert, who has put his macabre stamp on work for clients such as Dazed and Confused, MTV, and Mercedes-Benz in the past, teamed up with stylist’s Ash Esfarani and Jackee Word, to produce a shoot that could easily be mistaken for a documentary on London’s toughest thugs rather than a fashion shoot taking place under the comparatively quiet Berlin night sky. 

Shot in an abandoned school hidden in a secret location somewhere in Berlin and with a hard as hell model, Jonas Wolfgang, thrown into the mix, this series could have easily turned into something a lot more sinister. However, with styling that manages to blend vintage sportswear with underground, conceptual labels, to make it look more like a film still, and with Lambert applying his knowledge of tones and depths, the end result is something that is as striking as it is beautifully silent. 






Performance Night at DRAF

Eddie Peake, Negative Luba, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Galleria Lorcan O’Neill, Rome.

The David Roberts Art Foundation (DRAF) in London is an independent, non-profit foundation with a challenging programming of exhibitions, collaborative productions and live events. With some 1800 works, the collection doesn’t focus on a specific generation, medium or method, but rather seeks to comment on and engage with contemporary discourses.

To mark its recent move into a new, larger space in a former furniture factory in Mornington Crescent, DRAF launched the inaugural exhibition „A House of Leaves”, which references a work by American novelist Mark Z. Danielewski in which different storylines, told in different styles, intertwine. The story centres on a house that keeps changing and resists measurement because its interior gradually becomes larger than its exterior.

The show, which goes on for six months, is accompanied by performances and events, with the first one taking place during Frieze week, on Thursday October 11, and is not to be missed. Artists include Nina Beier, Chosil Kil, Alvin Lucier, Eddie Peake and Steve Reich. A highlight of the evening will be London-based 29 year old artist Eddie Peake’s performance, who will be presenting a new work made especially for DRAF: a performance inspired by Pop sensation Prince, involving dance, music and actors occupying the entire building. Peake works with bodies, movement and music, playfully exploring physical form in all its manifestations – Peake’s ‘bodies’ become both sculptural and sexual objects via choreographed actions, encouraging the audience to give in to voyeuristic desire. American composer Steve Reich’s 1972 piece “Clapping Music” will also be performed – a score that, as the name suggests, is conceived to be performed entirely by clapping. Performances are co-produced by Absolut Art Bureau.

David Roberts Art Foundation
Symes Mews, London NW1 7JE

Thursday 11 October from 7pm to 9pm