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
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.
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.
photograph by Sheila Rock
FIRST THIRD BOOKS this evening releases an ambitious new project on the life of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge – music pioneer, artist and body evolutionist. Independently produced in limited numbers, the book is devoted to the controversial life and work of one of the most extraordinary artists of modern time.
To attend the conversation with the exceptional Barry Miles you have to pre-order the book online or in person at Rough Trade East to collect wristbands.
Find out more information here!
Beyond pioneering and beyond ahead of his time. Without Lou Reed where would we all be now? THANK YOU LOU!
Jacques-André Boiffard, Untitled , Article “Le Caput Mortuum ou la Femme
de l’Alchimiste », Documents, 1930, No8
sans titre, ca. 1930
Mouth , Documents No5, 1929
Read a fantastic essay by Oliver Chow about Boiffard and Bataille’s inter-repulsive investigations into the pornography of death here
To celebrate the opening The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier; From Sidewalk to Catwalk at the Brooklyn Museum this evening we have chosen photographs from our favourite Gaultier collection, which was used in one of the best Vogue/Meisel/Coddington extravaganza’s in 1994. Merging together the best of metallic like armoured jewellery, fake tribal tattoos and faux ethnicity on glamourous and beautiful models this editorial created a strange but alluring futuristic amalgamation of themes. These photos are exaggerated with the stark white backdrops making the women look like strangely alien creatures, unlikely to be placed in any context of time except perhaps the film Fifth Element which of course Gaultier designed the costumes for but three years later than when this collection was created. The descison to produce this collection void of an exuberance of colour but emphasising the harshness of metal, subtle face painting and earthy tones made an unlikely contradiction of imagery on to the body. There is something particularly current about Gaultier’s use of fake piercings, indian hair jewellery and tribal transfer tattoos which of course have been routing their way into fashion at the moment. The tattooed tulle shirt which became a signature of his premiered in this collection and the models cast in the runway show featured the heavily tattooed. If you enjoyed these photos then the video of this catwalk must be watched here!
To find out more about the idol that is Gaultier and this exhibition which looks back at the last 37 years of his career look here.
JEAN PAUL GAULTIERVogue, March 1994
ph. Steven Meisel
fashion editor: Grace Coddington
hair: Orlando Pita
make-up: Denise Markey
model: Nadja Auermann, Bridget Hall, Brandi Quinones, Debbie Deitering