A discussion chaired by Daniel Neofetou with Dan Barrow, Rebecca Bligh, Adam Christensen, Karolina Szpyrko, Jonathon Vaughan, and John Walter at SPACE Gallery in East London taking place this Sunday. This event is also free.
“I know how just a thing like the ugly design of kitchen sinks destroyed my childhood… ’cause I had to fight with my sister all the time over who had to do the dishes. It was the ugliness, the ugliness of capitalism, making it impossible for anybody to live a life that isn’t made ugly.”
- Jack Smith
If Jack Smith is discussed today, it is almost invariably in reference to his 1963 film Flaming Creatures, a queer masterpiece which some would argue still retains its power to rupture the petrified facade of bourgeois complacency. However, towards the end of his life, Smith became ambivalent towards the film. While Flaming Creatures is often championed for its ambiguity, Smith himself came to bemoan this, posing that an artwork’s meaning is constituted by its concrete effects, and that the concrete effects of Flaming Creatures had been the economic gain of others. In the face of this he turned later in his life towards didactically political performance, in an attempt to attack capitalism and espouse anarchist-socialist notions in a manner which could not be misconstrued or misappropriated.
One such performance took place at Cologne Zoo in 1974, and documentation of it is currently being exhibited at SPACE. In this roundtable, the panelists will discuss what is lost and what is gained in the shift from a non-rhetorical political art to a more discursive mode of expression and more specifically the relevance today of the ideas which Smith sought to express: Ideas denouncing a pervasive capitalism, but also towards a society without governance or landlordism, wherein things would not be designed as according to pre-given rules ascribed by authority and manufacturers, and people would freely exchange their unwanted things with others’.
This talk accompanies the exhibition at SPACE Jack Smith: Cologne, 1974 which brings together photographs by Gwenn Thomas and a film by Birgit Hein, both documenting a performance by Jack Smith.
Find out more about this exhibition and talk here which runs until the 15th of December
White Marble Duvet Set by SAFE HOUSE USA
Keehnan Konyha is the founder and creator behind SAFE HOUSE USA, a bedding and home goods brand created around concept of street wear.
Konyha has recently been interviewed by a wide ranging selection of media all focusing on his collaborations with artists, affordable but cutting edge bedsheets and monochromatic prints.
However what seems most fascinating about SAFE HOUSE is why is no one else is doing this? And if there are others, why do we not know about it? The vast majority of contemporary interior designers seem to cater for a market over the age of 35 in a family orientated way. Konyha merges his Brooklyn lifestyle into his practice to great effect. In our recession fuelled times the prospect of investing in furniture or other areas of interior design is not always so realistic, especially for people under the age of 30. Most young people now share houses, or live with their parents, meaning that the bedroom is their only personal space. SAFE HOUSE caters to a perfect market, creating bedding sets and throws with impeccably fresh prints in a manner that can transcend any bedroom and be transported as frequently as your lifestyle pleases.
For Sang Bleu we have decided to focus on what Konyha’s inspirations have been so far in his life in regards to interiors and other areas of influence such as fashion, art, music and architecture.
Black Marble Duvet Set
FW13 Extension Collection, Drawn by Richard Haines
Where and what is your favourite bedroom?
I actually have to say mine right now, which is probably horribly vain, but primarily because I spend so much time here. It’s the one featured in the instant shots on the SAFE HOUSE site.
While we were apartment hunting last year, my boyfriend and I, really more as a joke, cast a spell to narrow down what we were looking for, and through curiously suspicious circumstance found it almost immediately and exactly. Call it luck, but if you’re looking for an apartment I say go with the spell, just in case.
What are some of your favourite sets from films?
Eiko Ishioka’s Closet Land and Mishima: a Life in Four Chapters
Eugenio Zanetti’s Flatliners
Scorsese’s After Hours
Stigmata, Production Design by Waldemar Kalinowski, Art Direction by Anthony Stabley, Set Decoration by Florence Fellman and Marco Niro. Patricia Arquette’s warehouse loft is an insane, over the top, one-hundred-percent-fictitious mix of 30s deco, industrial (musically and architecturally), yoga-cum-rave culture and inflatable furniture.
What is your favourite design movement?
Memphis, which is probably pretty obvious, especially Shiro Kuramata, though influences shift. Nostalgia cycles more rapidly. I might be less of a “movement” person, and more drawn to specific designers and visionaries; Tibor Kalman, Michel Graves, Terence Conran, Andrea Branzi, Joe Holtzman, Kelly Wearstler, William Morris, Ward Bennett, Gaetano Pesce, Billy Baldwin, Laurie Anderson.
I’m attracted to cohesion; to comprehensive themes and ideas; to extremes (simplicity can be it’s own extreme) followed to their logical conclusions. I try to stay open. What I find off-putting is typically what qualifies as “good taste.” There’s nothing compelling about good taste.
I think you have to be careful about what you allow in, about what you allow to influence you. It’s a constant, ongoing process of checking in with yourself creatively. Clearly I work with reference, with reappropriation and recontextualization, but I worry that we’ve outsourced our imaginations to an endless stream of reblogged, repinned content in an effort to easily aggregate, brand, and identify who we think we are, or who we dream we could be. My hope is that it’s entirely possible my favorite design movement has yet to happen.
What is your favourite art movement?
I’d be lazy and remiss to fall back on the past here. I love my friends and contemporaries, and New York is too full of preposterous talent right now not to list of them as many as I can:
Sam McKinniss, Ben Schumacher, Erica Bech, Colin Self, Alexis Penney, Landon Metz, Borna Sammak, Amos Mac, Alex De Corte, Kari Altmann, Richard Giglio,Richard Haines, Cody Critcheloe, Jaimie Warren, Travess Smalley, Boychild, Shayne Oliver, Desi Santiago, Scott Hug, BCALLA, Charlie Morris, Barrett Emke, Cyril Duval, Patrick Dyer, House of Ladosha, Juliana Huxtable.
I’m going to forget way too many names here and will absolutely regret it immediately.
Favourite movie from the 1980s?
Terrible and sublime at best, trashy and obvious at worst. This could probably be applied to my taste in almost everything. Anything John Carpenter, Adrian Lyne or Paul Schrader touched, unfortunately.
Favourite set/art direction from a music video?
Mark Romanek’s video for “Scream,” production design by Tom Foden, who also did Madonna’s “Bedtime Stories” and NIN’s ”Closer.” Flawless, untouchable song; flawless, untouchable visuals; still holds the title for the most expensive music video ever made.
Missy’s “She’s A Bitch.” Four years after the “Scream” video, it’s either an homage, the zeitgeist (I think zeitgeist moved slower in the late 90s), or just a straight lift (down to the opening, glossy-type’d shot), but what starts as typical Hype Williams (though w/ a gorgeous and atypical, monochromatic palette) fish-eye-in-a-box video becomes something completely alien and otherworldly around 1:50. Hype in top form, maybe his peak.
And again, Romanek’s video for Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.” A dead-on shot at Steven Meisel’s banned spots for Calvin Klein; unfinished, shag-carpeted and wood-paneled basement rec rooms, plus over-saturated, red-eyed, morning-after polaroid filters. I could live in this video. I may have tried?
I’m originally from Seattle, so the first building that comes to mind is St. Mark’s Cathedral, along with the adjacent rectory and (what once served as) the Cornish campus. Though some improvements were made in ’97 by Olson Sundberg, it was never entirely finished or built to the original specs from the late 20s and early ’30s, so the interior is very utilitarian and box-like in its incompleteness, more basilica than cathedral; no transept, no ribbed vaults or pendentives. I’ve got a soft spot for the underdog. And Episcopalians, maybe.
And Jesuits?. Steven Holl’s Chapel of St. Ignatius, also Seattle. The interior light is as much a part of the building as its materials, and shifts dramatically and beautifully throughout the day, designed around the schedule of Jesuit worship. It has a silence, both architecturally and literally, almost impossible to find in New York.
NYC’s modernist Church of the Nativity in the East Village, redone by Genovese & Maddalene in 1968. According to Wikipedia, it’s been described as ”starkly institutional” and “a modern architectural cartoon exhibiting a gross idea with no detail,” but I find something elegant and honest about it’s brutality.
More NYC: Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi; literally what is there not to love? Any building capable of outraging the West Village while avoiding both the leaking starchitecture of Frank Gehry and the cardboard-and-glass Monocle-approved hideousness of new money loft conversion gets tens across the board.
Louis Kahn’s Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban building. I think it’s the only structure that’s ever made me weep hysterically, and I’ve never actually been there.
More from past blog entires:
Favourite interiors in a restaurant or cafe?
This is a rough one, considering the Roman & Williams, Brooklyn-via-Portland, be-edison bulb’d faux rustica prison of the last decade. I’m at a point where the fluorescent, blobject-y Karim Rashid feels of Pink Berry, Rice to Riches interiors have started to feel welcoming, though I’m probably just be jumping the gun on early ‘00s nostalgia.
Since I don’t eat out much, and have totally succumbed to the sad cliche of rarely leaving Brooklyn, I’m going to fold this into nightlife and general mood, rather than strictly decor.
I miss The Beatrice, though technically she was a bar, and sadly, actual documentation is slim. It somehow managed a perfect balance of exclusivity and warmly welcoming once inside, offering both a simple, you-should-be-at-home-here elegance and nightly house party. To the best of my knowledge, that feeling has yet to be recreated. Certain spaces come imbued with a special kind of magic that needs only to be coaxed and tended to, something like what I imagine Michèle Lamy’s Les Deux Cafés felt like.
Output in Williamsburg is incredible, maybe as close to The Hacienda as I’ll get in my lifetime; unreal sound. Bossa Nova Civic Club is also brilliant, hidden away under the elevated train in Bushwick; perfect dance floor, consistently interesting booking, and I’ll always go weak for any amount of Don Loper, Martinique Banana Leaf wallpaper.
Passion Lounge; if you know, you know.
Favourite description of a room from literature?
I think I bond more with, or maybe the passages or novels that resonate with me the most, are ones where rooms themselves become characters, or where the lines between the human metaphorical interior and the interior of physical space are blurred; Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled; Sylvia Molloy’s Certificate of Absence; Emma Donoghue’s Room; Adam Lehner’s The Rearrangement; James Purdy’s Narrow Rooms.
If I have to actually choose a passage though, this is taken from “Examples of Confusion,” from Lydia Davis’ Almost No Memory:
“The ceiling is so high the light fades up under the peak of the roof. It takes a long time to walk through. Dust is everywhere, an even coating of blond dust; around every corner, a rolling table with a drawing board on it, a paper pinned to the board. Around the next corner, and the next, a painting on the wall, half finished, and before it, on the floor, cans of paint, brushes across the cans, and pails of soapy water colored red or blue. Not all the cans of paint are dusty. Not all parts of the floor are dusty.At first it seems clear that this place is not part of a dream, but a place one moves through in waking life. But rounding the last corner into the remotest part, where the dust lies thickest over the boxes of charcoal sticks from Paris, and a yellowed sheet of muslin over the window is torn symmetrically in two spots, showing a white sky through two small panes of dusty glass, a part of this place that seems to have been forgotten or abandoned, or at least lain undisturbed longer than the rest, one is not sure that this place is not a place in a dream, though whether it lies entirely in that dream or not is hard to say, and if only partly, how it lies at once in that dream and in this waking–whether one stands in this waking and looks through a doorway into that more dusty part, into that dream, or whether one walks from this waking around a corner into the part more thickly covered with dust, into the more filtered light of the dream, the light that comes in through the yellowed sheet.”
What has been your favourite set design for a catwalk?
This is the dream job; a marriage of clothes and physical space, of sound and music and light. Twelve minutes in which you have the opportunity to transport an audience completely.
Daniel Buren‘s work for Louis Vuitton SS13 is total alchemy; a perfect example of every element working together to create an experience so much larger than its individual parts, though the individual parts themselves remain stunning. The stark, two-color palette; the checkered white-and-yellow floor, referencing the collection, Vuitton’s “Damir” print and Buren’s previous body of work simultaneously; the pure spectacle and anticipation of the models descending via escalator onto the runway; Einstein on the Beach. I wish “gesamtkunstwerk” had an english counterpart that didn’t sound as ridiculous.
That said, AMO‘s work for Prada menswear AW13/14 sent me into a jealous, raging tailspin for like, days, literally pacing around my apartment screaming, gesticulating wildly at nothing like a crazy person, questioning my life, my choices, my purpose. If good art is contagious, maybe great art produces temporary insanity.
The pastel scheme of the set, punctuated with primaries, framing the gentle, almost neutral palette of the clothes, also offset by an electric turquoise piece here or a subtle, checkered coral shirt there; the collars styled half-tucked and askew; the shifting views from the projected “windows;” THE CAT! The show is a living editorial, the definition of an aspirational If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now. For me, the seamless integration and introduction of OMA’s line for Knoll via domestic tableaus is as much of the presentation as the actual clothing. I think AMO’s devotion to concept, research and detail are always evident, but they totally outdid themselves here.
If you want to get in further inside of Keehnan’s head, SAFE HOUSE USA also commission regular mixtapes; you can listen to them here
Visit the SAFE HOUSE USA website here to find out more about their interiors.
Walking Mural, 1972
Currently being exhibited at Nottingham Contemporary is the exciting new exhibition about Asco, a group of performance artists based in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.
Asco (1972–1987) began as a tight-knit core group of artists from East Los Angeles composed of Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón, and Patssi Valdez. Taking their name from the forceful Spanish word for disgust and nausea, Asco used performance, public art, and multimedia to respond to social and political turbulence in Los Angeles and beyond.
They emerged from the Chicano civil rights movement of the late 60s and early 70s, which fought labour exploitation, the Vietnam draft, police brutality, and other forms of discrimination and deprivation.
Their work had a low budget look reflecting their circumstances – Gronk called it aesthetics of poverty. In the 70s, a Chicano artist was expected to paint murals – the Chicano Movement borrowed from the Mexican political mural tradition of the early 20th century. While sharing the Movement’s opposition to racial discrimination, Asco were also determined to free themselves from the straightjacket of muralism. They sometimes did this by parodying it. Examples of this include the pieces Walking Mural and Instant Mural which were outrageous street performances rather than paintings on walls.
Asco’s performances in and around East LA resembled scenes from movies that were never made – or fashion shoots, or promotional images of rock bands. They called some of these No Movies. Made in the shadow of Hollywood, yet in a community ghettoised from the wider metropolis, Harry Gamboa Jr’s photographs of Asco’s performances anticipate the staged photography of Cindy Sherman, Jeff Walls and other major figures in postmodern art working with photography. The imagery they used was linked to fantasy and fiction, Asco retained a dangerous political edge. Their actions were made without notice or permission in a public sphere fraught with political tension and police curfews. Some were made at sites where a violent incident had taken place the previous day – the site of a gang conflict or the fatal shooting of demonstrators by the Los Angeles Police Department.
This exhibition builds on Asco’s acclaimed retrospective, Elite of the Obscure, at Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Williams College Museum of Art in 2011-12, curated by Rita Gonzalez and Ondine Chavoya. It will later travel to de Appel in Amsterdam and CAPC in Bordeaux.
The exhibition will run until the 5th of January. Find out more here
Regeneración 2, no. 4, 1974 – 75, p.31, drawing by Patssi Valdez. Courtesy of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library
A fascinating two day symposium to accompany the exhibition discussing the meaning of disgust across a range of practices, including art, literature, film and popular culture, activism, spatial practice and performance, from the twentieth century to the present day took place in November which can be watched on Youtube below. Taking part in the exhibition included Sang Bleu 6 contributor Dominic Johnson, Elizabeth Boa; Wayne Burrows; C. Ondine Chavoya; Harriet Curtis; Kirsten Forkert; Craig Fisher; Andrés David Montenegro Rosero; Marie Thompson and Myfanwyn Ryan.
Zhang Huan – Family Tree, 2001
December 11th sees New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art host seventy works by thirty-five Chinese contemporary artists in Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China; across four thematic groupings—the written word, new landscapes, abstraction, and beyond the brush—the exhibition will illustrate the artist’s often subversive reinterpretation of what is historically China’s foremost high art practice.
Amongst the chosen artists appears contemporary Chinese performer Zhang Huan, known for his often provocative works across performance, sculpture and photography, his practice is concerned with the body, presented through his own and those of others, positioning himself in extreme and often painful conditions seeking to remark on the conventions of the culture that surrounds him. One work for example, triggered by an experience in a rancid public restroom in a small village not unlike that in which he grew up, saw Zhang spread on his body “a visceral liquid of fish and honey to attract the flies in the public restroom in the village. He sat on the toilet, almost immobile for an hour” after which hundreds of flies covered the artist’s body. It is his works referencing the calligraphic arts of his past, though, that draw focus in the exhibition. 2001′s Family Tree sees nine portraits of the artist’s face sequentially documenting the process of three calligraphers transcribing a range of names and passages significant to the artist’s lineage until the accumulation becomes an indistinguishable mass of black as the “elaborate web of social and cultural relations smother any sense of the individual”.
12 Square Meters, 1994
Zhang Huan, 1998
The exhibition will run until April 2014
Elise Lammer is a Swiss curator who has lived and studied in Barcelona, Lausanne and London and is currently based in Berlin. Last summer, she hosted a residency programme in her home country named Kunsthalle Roveredo.
What Elise has created is hard to categorise; rather than choosing physical objects and placing them in the setting of a gallery she has selected artists with whom she had previously worked, and invited them to spend time together at her parent’s home in the Southern part of Switzerland. The artists she chose came from the three places she’s worked and lived; Switzerland, London and Berlin, and were all brought together with the knowledge that the creation of work during their stay was not necessary. What’s more, the idea was to provide a space to think rather than a space to produce.
The choice to house her guests in her parents’ home is interesting, as it follows a long-term tradition to welcome artists and intellectuals to retreat in the house. Was this residency a replication of the Lammer family memories or her very own way to invigorate intellectual and artists discussion?
How much of what Elise Lammer has curated falls into the categories of the deliberate? Was this event a PR tool? A holiday for the artists? A chance to network or a comment on the Swiss ‘art as lifestyle’ mentality? Some answers might be found in the follow-up exhibition that opens tomorrow in Geneva, where all the residency guests will present works that have been physically or conceptually started during the programme.
We have interviewed Elise to find out more about her aims for this intriguing project, how it uncovered and how it will continue.
“Pink Dinner by Pauline Beaudemont and Elise Lammer”
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. First of all what and where did you study?
I studied Fine Art in Spain and did my Masters at Goldsmiths College in London, where I graduated from the Curating department last year.
Where do you currently reside, and why did you choose this place?
I moved to Berlin six months ago after spending some time in Vienna. I chose the city for its artistic scene and because it allows me to afford to be a freelancer.
What do you currently call yourself, as a professional title?
Curator, artist, writer?
What does it entail or mean to you?
That’s a good question. To me, being a curator is not very different from being an artist, it’s one form of expression among many. I’m having a hard time with the multiplication of curatorial studies claiming to train people to be ‘professional curators’. It’s important to be professional, full stop. I don’t like the authority such professionalisation entails… But I shouldn’t bite the hand that fed me in the first place…
Do you have current regular occupations or projects besides the Kunsthalle Roveredo?
My next gig is “Post Digital Cultures”, a 3-day symposium in Lausanne early December. It will explore the relationship between contemporary art and new technologies, from a sociological and philosophical point of view. The list of guest speakers is mind-blowing and I can’t wait to hang out with such great minds! Besides that, I have been selected as a fellow researcher by Fieldwork Marfa in Texas in 2014.
How did Kunsthalle Roveredo come about—why is it relevant on a personal and more general level?
The location of the residency is really important. It’s where my parents live and have been hosting writers, artists and art lovers for the past 15 years. Although the house is in a very remote part of Switzerland, in Graubünden, in the Southern part of the country, it feels like a hub for the arts and one can feel the invisible evidence left by the many great minds who stopped by. I also realised how important it was to provide a retreat to the artists I selected, where they can take some distance from the art market and the social pressure that goes with it, while slowing down their online activity.
Could you tell us about your upbringing in Graubünden? How much has it influenced your work? Did you ever see yourself using that space in the future?
I grew up in Lausanne and my parents moved to Graubünden when I was about 18, therefore I never considered it my home. There is something really special about this place, it’s hard to describe what, but I always felt protected and used it as a conceptual shelter when I needed to write and think. Kunsthalle Roveredo has always been intended to be a long-term project and will take place on a yearly basis.
What were your parents’ reaction to your project?
I think they are really pleased. For them, it makes sense to keep using and sharing the house with like-minded people – art lovers and aesthetes.
Who are the people you invited, why did you chose them?
The 2013 residents were Pauline Beaudemont, Jan Kiefer, Benjamin Orlow, Maria do Carmo Pontes, Chan-Young Ramert, Emanuel Röhss and Max Ruf. Since my intention was from the beginning to turn this residency into a sustainable and meaningful project, for its first edition I wanted to make sure the space, rhythm and concept were working. I didn’t want to test such key features on strangers and therefore decided to invite curators and artists I already knew. What’s more, most of the residents had shown great interest for the project when it was only an idea, which was the most important selection criteria to me. However, I’m considering the possibility of doing an open call next year.
Did you go there with a specific script? What had been pre-defined and what did you leave up to chance?
I didn’t want to impose anything in terms of artistic production. The idea was to gather a group of great artists and curators, whose practice I deeply admire with the goal to generate discussions and friendships. I also assigned each resident to cook for everyone else during one day and that brought some interesting situations. Everything happened very organically.
How often were the artists left to their own schedule?
All the time, there was no imposed schedule at all.
Did any of the artists already know each other before arriving at Graubünden?
Some of them did, but most didn’t.
Can you describe the chronological development and noteworthy events of the workshop part?
One of the highlights was a day trip we did to visit Lake&Only, a project space located in a cabin in the mountains nearby. It’s run by Raphael Linsi, who’s been organising great exhibitions for the last two years. It was comforting to see that such a great project could exist in a very remote place. The last day of the residency coincided with the Swiss national day and we organised an Open House event, for which a few guests managed to reach the house after a small hike. We had a great party with sausages and fireworks.
And the result?
I had great feedbacks from all the residents who told me that such a retreat was needed in the stressful context of the cities where they were based at the time. In concrete terms, the results of the programme will be presented at Galerie M J in Geneva during the month of November. Besides the exhibition, we are launching a publication of fictional tales about Kunsthalle Roveredo, for which we collaborated with Edition Taube.The exhibition will open on 31 October at MJ Gallery in Geneva, www.mjgallery.ch
1st – 28 novembre.–
Lee Adams is the founder of Kaos, one of London’s most progressive subcultural night clubs which next month celebrates its 10th anniversary. First starting in Soho in the Dickensian glamour of Madam Jojo’s; the club has gone on to inhabit a wide variety of unusual spaces that London has to offer. Besides from its wide array of prominent dj’s its also staged some of the most cutting edge performance art and live music from around the world. It has been best known for being held in Stunners a tranny fetish club in Limehouse but it is about to move on to new exciting and unexpected spaces after the closure of the night club. Housing some of the most eclectic individuals that the city has to offer Sang Bleu has spoken to Lee about his experiences of curating a social scene and energy in the British capital over the last decade.
Why did you decide to start the night club Kaos?
We started Kaos because there was something of a void within the London club scene at the time. There were no longer any queer or marginal spaces that played techno so we had to invent our own.
We had come of age with the fierce, dark sonics and an almost mythological cast of characters at clubs like Warriors, Matinee and FIST. This is where we had met so many of our friends, these were our palaces, playgrounds and temples but since they had all closed it felt like the scene had become displaced, out of that void Kaos was conceived.
How important is it to have London as the host to Kaos?
Many people tell me when they first come to Kaos that it is somehow embodies their idea of London. I think it corresponds to an archetype of this city. People come here to create themselves anew, and through this perpetual movement London constantly resurrects itself. Nowhere else I’ve ever found represents this radical diversity and the endless possibilities of reinvention as much as Kaos.
Having said that I’d like to explore the possibility of taking the club on the road internationally. We’ve had an outpost in Bangkok for some time (Run by co-founder Bradley Kaos) and I think it could work on an ad hoc basis in Berlin where there is a very dynamic queer techno/experimental music scene and possibly in Tokyo or Barcelona or Madrid.
You have always designed the flyers for Kaos, which have become collector’s items. What inspired you to create them yourself and how do you feel they have changed throughout the years?
It’s always been important to me that the images we use reflect the atmosphere and the aesthetic of the parties. We have had the pleasure to work with a number of extrordinary artists over the years including Ray Caesar and Laurie Lipton who both featured prominently in the Thames and Hudson book Fly by Night – The New Art of the Club Flyer. More recently I have begun to work with 17th century alchemical manuscripts. The experience of Kaos is transformative and I like that reflected through this kind of imagery.
Otherwise the biggest change has been the switch to digital media, we no longer print anything. I have nostalgia for the printed flyers but the switch to digital is more sustainable.
image courtesy of Ray Caesar
How would you describe the following that Kaos has amassed?
Tribal, fierce and loyal! It has become something of an extended family.
Have you ever set a dress code or has a ‘Kaos‘ look simply evolved over time?
I have an aversion to dress codes. When we first started, in order to set the scene and as a nod to the ironically impossible dress codes of New York’s Jackie 60 club we requested the crowd wore straightjackets, glass slippers and nylon wigs!
I have always found dress codes to be restrictive, one of the things I love about Kaos is the myriad of sub-cultural styles, In short, there isn’t a ‘Kaos look’ there are a thousand. It’s kaleidoscopic.
Do you feel like you’ve seen the London club scene change through your time running Kaos?
Everything changes all of the time. Since we’ve been operating we have seen numerous alternative/queer techno parties like Behind Bars and Antagony come and go. London is always reinventing itself. Recently there hasn’t been much happening outside the mainstream, with the exception of a few great nights run by various friends such as Abattoir, Blanc and Rosa Decidua. This is why I feel it is vital to keep that spirit alive in London, so it isn’t all just ersatz and simulacra.
What do you think it is that has kept Kaos going for a decade? What is it that people feel so comfortable with within Kaos?
image courtesy of Laurie Lipton
Could you tell us about a few of your favourite performances that have been staged at the club?
The very first Kaos at Madame Jojo’s was inaugurated by Japanese Butoh master Katsura Kan with an intense and dramatic solo called Time Machine in the well of the dancefloor. In the early days we programmed really epic performances, from the sonic tsunami of The London Dirthole Company to Japanese noise opera and avant garde string quartets. When we moved to The Speaker Palace in 2004 we hosted Bruno Wizard’s reformed punk outfit The Homosexuals and gave No Bra their stage debut. We even turned the club into an experimental cinema. Kaos was also where I introduced my dear friend the composer and pianist Othon Mataragas with his soon to be muse Ernesto Tomasini.
In 2007 and again in 2009 Kaos was incorporated into Visions of Excess, the Bataille inspired, multi-media performance events I co-curated with Ron Athey for the 10th anniversary of Fierce! Festival and in the tunnels of the Shunt Vaults (now buried under The Shard) for The SPILL Festival. These were two of the most expansive and transformative events fusing music, art and performance, creating a “total derangement of the senses”… from New York drag legend Flawless Sabrina reading Tarot in a glasshouse to Canadian auter Bruce LaBruce conducting interactive zombie-porno photo shoots to Veenus Vortex endlessly drowning, whilst Zackary Drucker was meticulously depilated by the audience… to Christophe Chemin masticating regurgitated chewing gum crucifixes… to Julie Tolentino slow-dancing blindfolded for 24 hours non-stop.
We also hosted memorable after-parties for Ron Athey and Julianna Snapper’s opera The Judas Cradle in the stunning, neo gothic 291 Gallery and for Incorruptible Flesh, Ron’s collaboration with Dominic Johnson at The Chelsea Theatre.
Since we moved to Stunners, an underground transsexual fetish club in Limehouse the whole place just turned into one massive, durational, Felliniesque performance. The tiny, unlit stage and the broken radio mikes did nothing to enhance any of the work that was actually programmed. So I gave up trying and just let this phantasmagoric diorama take shape and then disperse into the night.
How important is the architectural environment to the club night?
It’s important because it frames everything and creates atmosphere. Architecture has emotional resonance, also space gets charged with energies. One of the things I’m excited about right now is being on the road again, at the crossroads if you like and having the opportunity to create new temporary autonomous zones, making night raids on the Capital with a post-apocalyptic crew of gypsy pirates.
Where do you see the club going in the future?
I’m interested in investigating new spaces and exploring the possibility of collaborations both in London and Internationally. Kaos has no territory and no borders.
‘Speculum Sophicum Rhodo-Stauroticum’
of Theophilus Schweighardt, published 1618
(with interventions by Lee Adams)
Images kindly donated by Lee Adams from previous flyers
Find out more about Kaos on the website here where you can also buy tickets for the next party Saturday the 12th of October. The 10th anniversary party will happen in November. The party is in a secret East London location and Icaro, Dr Mu, HaLo-iS ,Chad Curry, Sotiris L and Choronzon will be djing.
- Art Shows & Events
- facial tattooing
- making SB
- Old Master Prints
- SB people
- this and that
- UK Tattoo