To find out more about tattooer Cris Cleen’s latest exhibition of paintings ‘Poison Paradise’ opening this evening in Brooklyn we’ve asked him a little about his new work.How would you explain this exhibition of your new work?This exhibition was about the nature of eroticism and behavior of all creatures. It can be hard to show carnal desire in images that are graphic without being vulgar to the average watcher. I think people are attracted to that art because eveyone has a sexual identity and can relate to lust and want. The insects and animals remind us of this behavior of all things.Why is painting important to you?Painting is just the language I use to speak with for art. As with tattoos. I like the practicality of a two dimensional image that reads what you want it to read. Its not conceptual. It tells you the story clearly with little interpretation.Where have you taken inspiration from for these new paintings?I dont need much inspiration for erotic work since we all have that in ourselves . The narrative of longing and want and unrequited love have always been the biggest part of the art ive done. I used some ideas of japanese erotic work to show the necessary nature and beauty of what I’m trying to say with sophistication, also to show it as decoration.Will the paintings that you exhibit translate into tattoos?I’m always interested in making these subjects as tattoos. Often times, what people will wear is different than what they will hang. The idea of the art being hidden is as appealing as a piece on paper and the skin. Someone once called my work, “under the shirt tattoos”What is it about the romanticism of the turn of the century that you are so drawn to?I dont think of any era with any of the work. I think a lot of what was advertised in that time was seeking pleasure and not getting it and lusting for the most trivial interaction. That might be the real common thread. I dress the characters just in the way that I think is erotic to me personally. Dressing more isn’t a time period thing but universally sexy and without trends or varying individual statements. This way also makes the characters be anybody and everybody. However what I like to see is what you’ll see.
Where do you see your work progress after this exhibition? What do you want to do next?
After painting so much for this, it has sparked other ideas and different looks for painting but I would like to show something at the Museum of Sex here in New York . That would be the pinnacle for me.
Cris’s exhibition will be open for the private view this evening from 7-10pm and will run until the 20th of January 2014 at 177 North 10th Street Rm G Brooklyn NY 11211.
Both paintings are previews of what will be on show for the exhibition.
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His Majesty The Queen, 1973
On the 40th anniversary of ‘Transformer: Aspects of Travesty’ – a groundbreaking show curated by Jean-Christophe Ammann in 1974 – Richard Saltoun Gallery announces a re-proposition of the original exhibition, that will reunite all the artists, in London. This is the first such reunion to commemorate the exhibition which deals with the aesthetics of desire and sexuality through travesty and drag performance and opens tomorrow in London.
The exhibition has considered the politics and aesthetics of drag and transvestism through works by such radical artists as The Cockettes, Andy Warhol, Luciano Castelli, Urs Luthi, Pierre Molinier, Tony Morgan, Andrew Sherwood, Katharina Sieverding, Werner Alex Meyer (alias alex Sibler) and Walter Pfeiffer.
Transformer looks back at the ’70s contemporary society and art practice, considering the aspects of transvestism and sexual self-reflection in art. The exhibition takes its title from the seminal 1972 album by recently deceased Lou Reed, finding its parallel in the worlds of fashion and glam-rock. Transformer examines the politics and aesthetics of transgressing identity and at the disruptive sexualisation of masculinity by incorporating characters usually labelled as ‘feminine’, as Brian Eno reflected with a text written for the original catalogue. The exhibition opened at the Kunstmuseum Lucerne, Switzerland and was an extraordinary cultural event: the opening was recorded by Swiss TV and it toured later to Germany and Austria. Whilst the exhibition received no publicity in the UK, it has been influential for art theory and history, since it was the first occasion that sought to theorise transvestism and which explored non-normative sexualities and the production of identity.‘Transformer’ is at Richard Saltoun Gallery in London from 13 Dec until 28 Feb. It is curated by Giulia Casalini (b. 1988) and the exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events, including the drag performance group The Cockettes of which details will be announced closer to the time.
Walter PFEIFFERUntitled, 1973
Portrait of Luciano Castelli, 1974
Jürgen KLAUKETransformer, 1973
Urs LÜTHIYou are not the only who is lonely, 1974Alex SILBERAugen bohren Löcher, 1974
Transformer: Aspects of Travesty
13 December 2013 – 28 February 2014
Richard Saltoun Gallery
111 Great Titchfield Street
London W1W 6RY
Sang Bleu will release details about the exciting upcoming talks once they have been released.
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As a part of a series of collaborations with artists and designers the
Comme des Garçons Black shop in Berlin presented the launch of a new photo book
and collection by Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy.
The most interesting face on the Russian hemisphere right now made his big
appearance a few years back presenting a great collection inspired by
the streets of new & young Moscow.
Greatly influenced by his friends and the skater scene, as he puts it:
‘I like to show relations between past and present. It helps to see
the future. Teenagers are interesting for me because they have an
acute perception for everything. My friends are the most interesting
thing in Russia for me now’
Gosha made a name for himself by boxing through his strong vision no
matter what. What seems fashionably-in right now, he already worked on
years back never losing eye sight on the most characteristic marks of
He did his own thing for years, didn’t care if someone ‘gets it’. But
they’ve got it. Comme des Garçons was one of the first to discover
Gosha and introduce him to a broader audience. He was part of a
strictly selective group who could sell under the arms of Dover Street
His elegant garments are inspired by the romance of youth, Russian
religious roots and the clash between the Russian post-soviet
mentality and growing up in a country undergoing huge political,
economical and cultural change after dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
In addition to his collection and films presented at the opening
Gosha also launched his transfiguration book, the photo part of the
TRANSFIGURATION project, which he launched in summer 2011 – a modest
gallery space attached to a photography workshop. The venue located in
Saint Petersburg has hosted a series of events such as exhibitions,
live shows and skateboarding competitions.
The exhibition and sale will go on until the end of January 2014 at
the Comme des Garçons Black Shop in Berlin, Linienstraße 115.
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Toilet Paper is a magazine/artist’s book, founded by famed Italian artist Maurizio Cattalan and photographer PierPaolo Ferrari in 2010. Showcasing only images without accompanying text, the magazine combines the aesthetic of vintage advertisements with strange, often saturated and saccharine palettes, creating enticing yet nightmarish images grounded in contemporary media (but sometimes with clear art historical references). As Ferrari states, each image begins with a simple idea and is gradually complicated into a tableau vivant. This process of creating images seemingly mirrors the cryptic process of advertising, in which a straightforward product (like a car or perfume) will be associated with a feeling and receive a product-tested name and theatrical commercials and staged advertisements. And like these products, Toilet Paper is available for sale, both through small bookstores and Amazon.com.
This image was created in May 2012 as a billboard produced in collaboration with the High Line in NYC.
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After my post last week on the representation of facial tattooing in Inuit graphic art, I figured it would be appropriate to provide some historical photos of Inuit women with tattooing. These photos act as an invaluable record of an Inuit cultural practice that has since largely fallen out of favor as a result of missionary and colonial influences. Below you will find a selection of photos from the website of Library and Archives Canada alongside the titles given to the images on the website. By clicking the link beside the title you will be directed to the website which offers more contextual information on the image.
“Kila, a tattooed Inuit woman, from the Dolphin and Union Strait area, Coronation Gulf, N.W.T., [Nunavut], 1916. ” Via
“Ward aid Paulette Anerodluk looking after her own mother in St. Ann’s Hospital. Her mother, Eva Kokiloka, is tattooed in the traditional style.” Via
“Inuit woman with facial tattoos and braids.” Via
“Inuit woman with facial tattoos and braids.” Via
“Hilda Hipgogak at Charles Camsell Hospital, Edmonton, Alberta” Via
“This picture shows the tattooing of the different tribes.”
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Preceding a collaborative film that will see the pair take on Benin for filmic project White Slave Trade, Genesis Breye P-Orridge and artist Hazel Hill McCarthy III have collaborated, fusing their individual works, McCarthy’s brass rubbings and P-Orridge’s collages, into a single piece titled Breaking Sex><X (Sigil).
The following is an interview conducted between the pair and Thomas Gorton for Hero Magazine on the collaboration.
Thomas Gorton: How did you two begin working together?
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: Well I’ve been ‘breaking sex’ for twenty years now.
TG: And where did you come in, Hazel?
Hazel Hill McCarthy III: Well the artwork that you saw specifically was a collaborative piece between Genesis and myself, a sigil that we made in order to get us to Africa for a project that we’ll be doing in January, a film called White Slave Trade. Breaking Sex is a big part of the actual cut up collage that Genesis applied to the artwork as the collaboration.
GBP-O: Yeah, think of that as the root idea. It’s not just breaking sex, it’s basically breaking cultural icons, breaking habitual forms and finding new ones, or rediscovering old forms in new ways.
TG: You’re openly at war with culture, do you consider yourself to be at war with sex?
GBP-O: [Laughs] Sometimes. When I walk around the streets and see really fat people and wonder how they possibly make sex happen, yeah then I feel at war with it. It’s about identity though, not necessarily about gender or sex specifically. It’s called Breaking Sex because that was just a phrase that popped out first and that’s going to be a book that will hopefully get written next year. That book will try and analyse all the different implications but gosh, it’s a big subject now, it’s got huge, it’s sprawling.
HHMCIII: It’s getting bigger.
GBP-O: It’s become more about evolution, the possibility of human evolution and survival. We’re in a very very deep hole as a species.
TG: Do you think that? That we’re at the beginning of end times, so to speak?
GBP-O: Or that we’re at the beginning of an evolutionary choice. The human body hasn’t finished evolving, the human mind hasn’t finished evolving, but people seem to think everything’s fine and this is the perfect form but it’s not, it’s just a moment in the changing mutation. Without mutation you get inertia, with inertia comes destruction, everything disintegrates and then something else comes along like a dinosaur or vice versa. So that’s part of it, looking for the undercurrents that might be hidden in the culture around you and seeing what they imply, seeing how people are behaving, why they are behaving the way they are, how they’re hypnotised into being consumers of everything, addicted to technology and have stopped thinking.
TG: What’s your relationship like with technology? How do you feel about it?
GBP-O: Very suspicious. Very suspicious of Facebook, Twitter and telephones. We were just in a restaurant getting some food. We having dinner and eight people walked in, sat down and got out their phones. They didn’t even talk to each other. People don’t ring me anymore. I can’t remember the last time I got a phonecall. People used to write letters that they’d thought about, you’d get it, read it three or four times and consider your response. Letter writing used to take six weeks to communicate, now it takes six seconds.
TG: Do you think people are thinking enough about their communications?
GBP-O: They’re not critically thinking. They’re accepting it without thinking what the implications are for the brain. The pathways in the brain are going to reduce because of the lack of use.
HHMCIII: Everything is so impulsive nowadays because of the instantaneous gratification.
TG: That’s to do with the self. It’s an instant gratification of the self. There’s an unhealthy heightened awareness of the self that isn’t necessarily productive.
GBP-O: Like Facebook giving you instant or imagined celebrity?
TG: Yeah, a world of dreams, of self indulgence. I’m saying this as a person who has Facebook and Twitter.
GBP-O: So do I, I just make people do it for me.
TG: That’s the easy way out.
GBP-O: It’s a matter of how to use time, how to use it creatively. Am I going to do some new work or am I going to reply to people asking the same questions over and over again?
TG: How did you two meet?
GBP-O: We both had friends in LA, and we were trying to find someone to design Thee Psychick Bible, preferably for no money, ’cause there was no budget. Somebody recommended Hazel, we met and we immediately found a real connection. The first time we physically met was at a Throbbing Gristle gig at Heaven in 2007/8, somewhere around there.
TG: I wanted to ask about the X symbol. Everywhere I’ve been in Europe in the last month I’ve seen the X symbol, each service station I go to there’s an erotic market, XXX emblazoned on everything. It’s become a signifier that I’m very familiar with, I associate it heavily with European cities. It was cool to look at your work and see yet another X symbol, so I was interested in the significance of it.
HHMCIII: The XXX is a part of the markers on the waterways in Amsterdam, they run vertically. The X symbol is meant to represent trade and commerce over these waterways. In LA they do the same.
GBP-O: Hazel does a lot of brass rubbings of different types, using different symbols. Would you say it was one of your interests or obsessions?
HHMCIII: One of my practices I would say. I’d done this rubbing a few years ago, two parts of the XXX and I’d kind of forgotten about it. Gen was looking over some of my stuff, deciding what s/he wanted to put h/er collage on and s/he found the two parts of the XXX.
GBP-O: And we were thinking, ‘we can’t start until we have a story’. No point doing anything for the sake of making it. So we were looking at it and it just popped out, the x’s and the y’s as well. So then you have the genders and the variations of genders, so it seemed like a nice deconstruction, a story within a story and that was what set it off. And if that’s where we’re going, what else goes with it? Then came the Breaking Sex Rant, co-done by myself and Lady Jaye. Recently we found ourselves drawn to it as a texture, something that when you get closer you see that there’s actually ideas in it too. So according to how close you come, it changes. That’s something that’s always fascinated me, the idea of distance, changing the way that people perceive something, or people’s emotions changing when they find out the source of an image. For example, a long time ago we went to Auschwitz because we wanted to try and understand how that could ever happen. We used an image of the ovens at Auschwitz for Industrial Records [Throbbing Gristle's record label], changed it to black and white. Sometime later we happened to say in an interview we mentioned where it was from and there was outcry, their entire opinion shifts, just based on the information you’ve given them, which might not even be true. That borderline between acceptance and denial has always fascinated me, same as the borderlines between life and death, sleep and awake, all those very very vague boundaries that people make, they’re part of the way that culture works, male or female, black or white and so on. So that led us into that whole binary thing, how do you break that? Is there a way to find a new form? And as Hazel said, that comes from cut-ups. When Burroughs and Gysin worked together, they said it always came from another source, cut-ups, and they called it the third mind. What about if you go further and it becomes a third being? A possible future being. How would you do that? That’s how it began.
TG: You talk about X as a malicious cross for sex to bear. I’m interested in that malice, where does that malice come from?
HHMCIII: There’s a certain code in how each of us are made up and that’s in some way a burden. We’re made up of chromosomes, of x’s and y’s and it dictates a lot, the physical gender of who you are.
TG: A trap?
GBP-O: It contains instantly all the different histories and all the different possibilities for futures.
TG: Genesis, with Project Pandrogeny, are you still undergoing that and what relation does it have to the two pieces that you’re currently working on?
GBP-O: Lady Jaye is in it of course, and it was co-written with her. Everything is touched by it now, our daily life is ambiguous. Even when we’re not dressed up, which we rarely bother to do now, we don’t wear make up, we wear jeans and leather jackets and we still get called Miss and Madam all the time. Today we got three day stubble and it’s interesting how little touches like not bothering to shape your eyebrows can actually make people assume that you’re female.
People don’t see what’s in front of them, they don’t even look very hard and they don’t listen very hard, they’re missing all the signals, which is another sign of this closing down. People are talking in generalisations, talking in text messages. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that people have got upset over something innocuous in a text message, when the meaning has been misunderstood. That’s something that fascinates me, where these things blur, if there are any edges at all.
TG: Is it something that excites you? Are you excited by the challenge that your pandrogeny presents to people?
GBP-O: It’s something that excites me just as an idea, whether other people are interested or not. Two weeks ago we were on a panel at the Feminist Women’s Annexe at Brooklyn Museum. Just being invited to be on a panel, where all the rest were biological females, was really something. No-one had a problem with me being there. We were thinking that surely one of the feminists was going to say ‘what the hell are you doing here?’ But they were completely comfortable with it and said how inspiring and challenging it was in terms of making them think. That’s what’s exciting, when people say it’s made them think. At that talk, a middle aged woman with spectacles, kind of mousey, walked up afterwards crying and said ‘I haven’t written poetry in years but now I’m going to go home and write a poem’. That’s amazing, that makes it worth it, that one person who feels that shift in themselves to rediscover what their true sense of what they want to become is and they start to change again, revert to something more creative. It’s really about learning to think.
TG: Do you think Western civilisation has a healthy relationship with sex?
GBP-O: Well, we have a complex relationship with it. Most people don’t really think of it as complex, they think of it as a penis and a vagina and getting that short, sharp, electrical discharge. That’s why you see so many unlikely people together, they’d rather have that than not have sex.
For a while we were thinking, why is celibacy so important in so many different belief systems, from Tibet to Roman Catholicism? We realised it’s because of the lack of distraction and the refusal to be drawn into that biological way of viewing the self, becoming obsessed with just consciousness. Maybe there’s a way to remix it so it’s about constantly re-assessing. Am I doing this because it’s easy? Because I’m lost in true love? Because I just want to relieve myself and go to sleep? Why am I doing this?
HHMCIII: It begins to be like a game, Western thoughts on sex always seem to have a game element without a whole consciousness behind it. This penis and vagina, one two, on off. It’s really bigger than that.
GBP-O: It’s interesting that binary is 1 and 0, penis and vagina. We’ve still not figured out what that implies but we’re convinced that there’s something in there, buried very deep. When you go into all belief system, sexual behaviour or congress as a spiritual amplifier was always part of the system, but now it’s been separated as an action and it’s not necessarily thought of as a spiritual, mystical behaviour. A lot of people see it in a really mundane way and that’s a great loss.
TG: That game element in our civilisation is something that people want and is encouraged. I think it leads to sadness.
GBP-O: That’s part of what seems so interesting in the way that people have reacted to pandrogeny as an idea. The number of people who have suddenly rethought the idea of unconditional love. Jaye and I joked at one point because there’s all this psychology and therapy about how to not be co-dependant but me and Jaye wanted to be completely co-dependant, we didn’t want any separation. In Native American languages there isn’t a word for death, the word is separation. That implies that concrete over earth is a kind of death, redirecting rivers is a kind of death, everything that you separate becomes a form of loss, something to be mourned. By turning sex into a commodity, as well as a game, it gives control to those who choose the rules of the game.
Or you can include ritual or magic in its wider sense. You can use it as something to try and actually change the way you perceive, so the world then changes for you. That’s one of the reasons that we’re going to Africa, to see one of the roots of really ancient thought, in terms of human relationship with nature and with ancestors and so on. The ancestors part came because people couldn’t understand mortality, they didn’t even understand linear time for a long time. Eventually women discovered time because of menstruation and then they kept it secret because they knew it was a bad idea to tell the men about it. When the men found out about it, all they wanted was little boys that looked like them so that they didn’t die. That’s why men took over, became patriarchal and tried to control women, so they could make sure that they got sons, mini versions of them, so they felt that they were immortal. Of course all of this gets forgotten after hundreds of years and we’re left with just the robotic behaviours without the knowledge of where it came from and why. Some of it’s definitely about reinforming people.
TG: Do you feel that Breaking Sex is a confrontational art piece?
GBP-O: No, not specifically. Certainly at the beginning it was a bit more confrontational, personally for me. At one point we woke up and realised ‘you know what, we’re really so glad that we’re not so attached to being male’, because most of the male education we had in England, going to an all-boys school was twisted and miserable. They would always say, ‘You’re going to be the future leaders of this country and control it’, which was always disgusting. Everything was discussed in terms of power, be it girlfriends, cars or money, it was all seen in terms of power. We never wanted any part of that, we always found that uncomfortable, like ‘who the fuck are these idiots?’ Being more separated from that physically is exciting and it was not necessarily an aggression but a ‘fuck you’. You should think more, if you don’t think more, fuck you.
We give out embroidered patches and the last one we made says ‘Fuck ‘em all’. A couple of days before Lady Jaye dropped her body she said the next slogan should be ‘Fuck ‘em all’. So we made patches of it for people to put on their jackets. It’s a basic attitude. Don’t be controlled by what you want people to think, don’t try to please them for the sake of it.
HHMCIII: You’ll never win.
TG: Once you start subscribing to other people’s belief systems or try and be a version of yourself that they want they will only see through that lie and be disappointed. So nobody wins.
GBP-O: What’s used to make people agree or to control every society? Why is it any government or ruling body’s business what body you have, how you use it, how you adjust and change it? It’s none of their business and never should have been. They want to maintain power, that’s why they’re involved. They intimidate you and lay out the rules, if you don’t agree we’ll kill, torture or jail you. They run it with violence. How do you break that?
Burroughs said to me in 1971, ‘how do you short circuit control?’ We came to the conclusion that it was all built into the gender either/or structures of most societies. Why do we have so much conflict? Different ideas come together and they fight and then everybody suffers. Then we forget and we do it again and again. It’s insane, we have to wake up. I’m amazed that there was ever a second war. You would think that once somebody had had a war and seen mutilations, crippled people and lost loved ones that they’d say ‘never again’ and mean it. It hasn’t happened yet and it’s been thousands of years.
TG: That saying ‘mistakes we know we are making’. When you’re in the middle of mistakes and you know they are happening, but you let them go and the problem perpetuates.
GBP-O: It gets bigger and more complex the more you think about it. The implications keep growing. That’s why it’s still exciting for me. The realisations that you have to get rid of all these bureaucracies because they’re getting in the way, which makes you revolutionary in a sense and that’s when you have trouble with the authorities, but that’s a choice you have to make. How serious am I? Am I prepared to sacrifice what I have to say that I really think this? Of course as you know, in my case, yes.
TG: Yeah you’ve certainly fucked them all. Will you two continue to work together?
HHMCIII: Yeah, we’ve known each for a bit of time now, not quite ten years but we always come together when we find the right project and right moment and when it makes sense.
GBP-O: We know each other’s skills and strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes it’s just obvious, we’ll see something and say ‘yeah, that’s a Hazel and Gen piece’. And having dragged her into Thee Psychick Bible, how could we refuse to be involved in Hazel’s brass rubbings? God, we owe her.
TG: In any creative partnership you have to be aware of strengths and weakness, to know that about each other and be willing to edit each other. Working with someone creatively, it can be refreshing when somebody says ‘that’s shit you know’. You know that you know that person.
GBP-O: Of course, you need honesty. We never have any reservations about discussing anything with Hazel because we know that they’ll always get a fair listen. The only person we ever felt that comfortable throwing out ideas with was Lady Jaye, so it was a joy to discover Hazel. It works very well, it’s a very profound simplicity.
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