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.
Calling Duncan X iconic within the tattoo world could seem like an understatement to some, as an integral part of Alex Binnie’s Into You shop in Clerkenwell Mr X has been turning out some of the most abrasive black work tattoos since before the shops inception.His severe appearance is completely authentic to his own art work and lifestyle. The completely original trademark style of tattooing that Duncan has so perfectly translated is solidly black and overwhelmingly brutal in its imagery. Reading almost like a cliche, stories of his progressive and intense life have quite literally been imbedded into his skin.To explore more about this fascinating man director Alex Nicholson has created an absorbing short film with Duncan revealing accounts of his life. The sophisticated nature of the film has meant that through special effects the director has let Duncan’s tattoos slowly appear and crawl over his skin as the film progresses.The film was revealed on Tuesday so to celebrate this we’ve created a short interview with the director to find out more..How did you come about making this film?Well I just wanted to make a beautiful looking short for my reel initially. Shooting an interesting a subject as possible.
Who has this film been made for? Who do you want to be watching it?It wasn’t made for anyone really. Me I’d say at a push. I want everyone to watch it. I didn’t want it to be just for people who like/have/want tattoos or people who know Duncan, I wanted it to be as accessible as possible for all viewers..How involved are you as an individual in tattooing?Not at all really. I do have quite a few and will continue to get more, as long as Duncan promises to be gentler next time.
What is it about Mr X that you find so fascinating?Everything! Ha! – Its more to do with the fact that as you get to know him over time, these stories leak out. The fascinating tales of a thousand lives lived within one mans life. Its the fact that he’s highly intelligent, very eloquent, a delightful personality and looks like a Barber-surgeon from the 1900′sA great mix.Was there a particular stance that you wanted to take with the film?If I was pushed, I’d say that you should never judge a book by its cover.
How did the decision to have all of Mr X’s tattoo re-appear through editing occur?I wanted his tattoos to slowly emerge during the film. For him to start naked of tattoos and end as he is, covered. When we got into edit, myself and my editor (David Stevens @ the Assembly rooms) simply pieced together the best story that we saw in there. The animations and tattoos suddenly became secondary to the fascinating Duncan X.
A new trend is emerging within eye surgery. For $3,000 you can now have a small platinum shape measuring around 3.5mm immersed in your optic membrane permanently by an eye surgeon. The surgery only takes fifteen minutes and a choice of moons, stars or hearts can be imbedded into the eye.
A badly made film on the Fox News website has been made documenting the first procedure taking place in New York where you can watch it here. The un-modified woman interviewed described her decsion as ‘It’s going to be a conversation maker. I will be able to tell people. It will be unique. It will be sort of my unique factor.’
“It’s a very thin piece of platinum that’s designed for insertion on the top of the eye, it’s not in the eye so there’s no risk of blindness or anything at all,” the surgeon tells My Fox NY. “She could have a little bit of local bleeding. That could go away in a couple days or couple weeks. She could have an infection but we’ll prevent that with antibiotics.”
But the jewellery has not been FDA approved and the American Academy of Ophthalmology is warning consumers about the dangers.
This extreme modification seems bizarre in its final outcome as it doesn’t really resemble anything visually that strong. It’s placement almost looks awkward and its incision seems futile as there is something so aesthetically subtle but simultaneously uncomfortable about it.
Considering the modifications size and placement there is something so utterly intrusive about it, slicing open a layer of the eye is enough to make anyone queasy but especially when the outcome will look like having a vague sparkle in your eye and a shape which can only be deciphered when very close to the face. It will be interesting to see if this surgery will become more popular, the woman in the film seems to only have her ears pierced prior to the surgery so understanding her motives behind the surgery makes it seem even more strange. Apparently the surgery is becoming more popular throughout various areas of Europe and America however dedicating yourself to a surgery that does nothing to improve eyesight seems ineffective. Let’s see how this trend emerges.
Christo Geoghegan is a documentary photographer and writer who has made time to tell Sang Bleu about his time in the remote Northeast India and the fascinating culture of body modification practiced in the particular areas that he visited.
The art of tattooing and body modification has always been an intrinsic part of tribal culture. Cultural identity and heritage is the beating heart of any tribe and as such body art has been used as an external expression of internal values. It became a form of visual ID to indicate which tribe you were from and where your loyalties lied. And in the remote northeastern states of India, whose populations are predominantly tribal, this was important.
Northeast India is a collection of seven states connected to mainland India by a 21km wide stretch of land known as the Siliguri corridor. Though administratively Indian, much of the culture and people share almost no similarities with their Indian neighbours and as such the ‘Seven Sisters States’ are disparate siblings of their mainland brothers. Northeast Indian culture is far more influenced by the neighbouring countries of Myanmar, Tibet and to a lesser extent, Bangladesh. And it’s because of this isolation away from mainland governance and the inexorable modernisation that goes with it, that the region has remained one of the last bastions of tribal culture.
Back in 2009, I was incredibly fortunate to obtain the necessary permits required to enter the geographically secluded states of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland in order to meet and photograph two of its most famous tribal inhabitants: the Konyak Headhunters of Mon and the Apatani women of Ziro Valley. Both of these tribes are famous for their distinctive tattoos and body modifications, but the significance and origins of each are entirely different.
The Konyaks are a hill tribe separated across three different geographical locations. Some reside in the southernmost region of Arunachal Pradesh, some live in the hills of neighbouring Myanmar, and some, like the ones I spent time with, live in the state of Nagaland. The Konyaks have a rich history of being fierce and highly feared warriors and the tattoos that were adopted by the tribe were created to show this. The Konyaks became notorious across the region as headhunters, who believed that when they collected the skull of an enemy they could in turn harness the life force and soul that once dwelled inside of its original ‘owner’. Successful and prolific headhunters were then given the honour of being able to wear the mark, having their faces and chest covered in tattoos. The Konyak women however, would receive decorative tattoo designs (primarily on their legs) to signify various advancements in life. These tattooing practices would continue up until the late 1960s when Nagaland began to experience a cultural shift that would affect Konyak tattooing forever: Christianisation.
From the beginning of the 1940s Christian missionaries from America, Wales and New Zealand set out to the remote northeastern states to spread the gospel and attempt to convert non-believers. However, some of these envoys were of the opinion that many of the activities and beliefs that these tribes held were primitive or barbaric and preached to the tribesmen with a heavy hand. And as such, as Christianity began to spread across the region, many tribes began to lose sight of some of the ancestral heritage and original animistic beliefs that were once at the forefront of their very being.
This isn’t to say that Christianity did not bring some aspects of social prosperity to the region, in fact it was one of the main reasons that practices such as the violent art of headhunting were outlawed. But what is undeniable is that this shift in thinking began to have an impact on many forms of tribal art and expression, particularly tattooing culture. With the end of headhunting and a conversion to Christianity widespread, the Konyaks ceased all tattooing activities and with the number of tattooed Konyaks dwindling as their ages increase, the marks of the headhunter look set to be erased forever.
The women of the Apatani tribe however, had very different reasons for body art and modification. Believed to be the most beautiful in the region, the Apatani women were prone to being kidnapped and raped by the surrounding Nishi tribesmen. To stop this from occurring and protect the tribeswomen, the Apatanis agreed to begin a practice known as ‘imposed ugliness’. By ‘destroying’ the beauty that was so desired by these invading tribesmen, it was believed that they would no longer be at risk from attack. This practice was forced upon all Apatani women when they reached a certain age and began with facial tattooing: one single vertical line from the forehead to base of the nose and then five vertical lines beneath the lip to the base of the chin. Small incisions were then made into the sides of each nostril, and a plug, known locally as Yapping Hullo, were inserted into them. Over time, these plugs were replaced with larger ones in order to stretch the original incision until it was at an acceptable size.
However, it wasn’t Christianity that ended this bizarre form of rape prevention, but peace with the Nishi in the 1960s. Many Apatani women, distraught from having the practice carried out on them, chose to have elective plastic surgery to remove their imposed ugliness. But many embraced their modifications and a popular belief is held amongst many in the tribe that the larger the Yaping Hullo, the more beautiful the woman, inverting the original intention of the process.
There are still many other tribes in the region such as the Wancho of Arunachal Pradesh who still tattoo tribesmen, but as external influences begin to creep in at an increasing rate and globalisation begins to grip the region like an ever tightening vice, the art of tribal tattooing in Northeast India is beginning to slowly, but surely fade.
All images and text has been created by Christo, to find out more visit his website here: http://christogeoghegan.com
Universal Music Japan, Lady Gaga’s Japanese record label last week uploaded a 30 second teaser video. What this film is actually advertising is quite unclear; we are shown what seems to be a bleak factory with moulds of Lady Gaga’s face and body being compressed, moulded and bolted and eventually made into a robot.
The teaser ends with the statement that: “GAGADOLL COMING SOON”. Is Gaga’s new concept that she will now become a consumable entity more than she already is? Exactly how reactive will these robots be if they can be bought by individuals? This is of course another aspect of her expansive marketing strategy but what is it exactly about Robots that is so fitting towards Gaga? What is it about advanced technology that she wants to intertwine herself with so much? How many robots will be made? What will their function be? Will these robots be made in mass or will a one off robot be made as a piece of art? The video seems to show a whole army of silicone bodies hanging in a room.
Lady Gaga is yet to make an announcement about where this footage will lead however Japan is forever associated with robot creation so it almost seems a little too obvious for Gaga to promote her music within that particular country in this manner. As Lady Gaga’s career becomes more and more extreme within pop culture the notion of her creating robots of herself hardly seems surprising especially within the context to ‘ARTPOP’. Fans have speculated that the TechHausdesign branch who recently designed her flying dress are behind this concept. TechHaus is the technical division of the Haus of Gaga founded in 2012 to create the ARTPOP app.
The video succeeds in exactly what its aimed to complete, its left us with questions about her ever growing estate. For a woman who likes to play with extremes and is fully aware of wanting to conquer various aspects of popular culture recreating a mechanical version of herself seems fitting to her progressive nature within her field as a pop musician.
You can watch the video here:
Today marks the passing since ManWoman’s death a year ago. To commemorate this November the 13th has been declared ‘Reclaim the Swastika Day’. A Facebook event for this occasion has described today as:
‘A worldwide event on the first anniversary of ManWoman’s passing – the 13th of November 2013 – to spread knowledge and appreciation of the gentle swastika.
Open shops and give away tattoos, scars and/or brandings of Swastikas for free and use this opportunity to educate people about the origins and true meaning of the Swastika.
For artist and people who like to join this event please confirm here in which way you want to participate
Please note that “Learn to love the Swastika” is a group compiled of tattooists, body modifiers, designers, writers and Swastika educators. There is absolutely no religion or worship involved – only cultural awareness. ‘
Alex Binnie will be hand poking swastika’s in memory of ManWoman from 12pm at Into You in London tomorrow where you can find out more information here.
All images have been taken from the Facebook event page which have been added by various Facebook members from about the world. You can join the event here where you can find out about other events to commemorate this day from all around the world.