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.
“Night. Painted darkness. Miles and miles of miles of painted darkness.” Peter Greenaway, Nightwatching, 2006.
Mauvais Garcon: Portaits de tatoues is the incredibly exciting new book of photographs taken by the French authorities from 1890- 1930 and decodes the meaning of the drawings that froze on the bodies of prisoners, convicts and individuals who passed by the African battalions at the time. The photographs were discovered through a retired policeman who had had an interest in tattoos by the authors. Besides from the book explaining the symbolism behind the tattoos it also tells the story of the daily detention of these men and their experience of social exclusion. Great detail is dedicated to the meaning behind many of the tattoos, and are categorised into the likes of revenge, erotic desire, religion, history, patriotism and love. The authors Jerome Pierrat and Eric Guillon (editor of Tattoo magazine) explain how tattoos may be common place in our society now but in France for decades they were almost exclusively associated with the underworld, the gangsters and criminals as a way to document their time in prison and criminal identity. From 1831 a brief was sent to French prison directors ordering them to record descriptions of the tattoos in order to simplify the task of identifying the prisoners behaviour, the authors describe this process as one of the most important impacts on tattooing and criminality being inextricably linked. However detrimental this process of documenting may have been on tattooing’s reputation it has left us with this greatly impressive selection of photographs.
Photos taken by Louis Backhouse of his parents Amanda and Dan at and around their home in South Wales.
Ian Isiah is the singer, Hood By Air consultant and New York feature who of recent has been causing a stir with his super sexy RnB music and provocative androgynous music videos of which we’ve previously explored and enjoyed on Sang Bleu. Ian visited London last week while Hood By Air gave their fantastic SS14 menswear fashion week presentation. Meeting in SHOWstudio we discussed his hope to create a genderless future, re-inforcing sexy music and how he wants to influence his lifestyle for future generations. Sam Bayliss Ibram and Jayson Hindley shot the editorial and Helen Barr filmed the photo shoot and dubbed in Ian’s latest single BLINDFOLDED especially for Sang Bleu
When did you start making music?
I’d say when I was about three years old. I grew up in church so music has always been around me. My grandmother is an amazing singer. I used to listen to her sing a bunch of old ass hymns in the most beautiful way around the house growing up. I also remember being told that I would always try to accompany her by playing the pots and pans in the kitchen … making my own percussions. By the time I was able to speak, immediately I was in the choir at Church and at School. Non Stop Music. It felt only natural to perform, I started doing a lot of solos in the choir as well. I was ready. Music has always been my safety zone because i always felt that nothing else other than music felt right, I never felt a pull towards being anything else. I wanted to use what I’ve got!
Did you grow up in New York?
I sure did . Brooklyn to be exact. Taught me how to be tough .. gentle .. spiritual.. and powerful .. all in one place.
Was it through night clubbing that you started to develop your own music?
Not really actually. Although The Club will always be a reference of mine, Since I can remember I’ve been singing everywhere I go . And writing and singing about anything and everything.
What music really inspired you when you were growing up?
Oh My God There are too many to name! All Sexy Soul Artist of the 90’s like D’Angelo, Erykah Badu , Aaliyah . Hip Hop Artists like Killa Cam , Juelz Santana , Jim Jones, Vado .. Fuck it All of Dipset . Also all my music homies that I grew up with are complete inspirations to me.
How did the ideas around your first single and video for M1NDFVCK come about?
I knew when I started my music career I would be starting my new sexual freedom within my career too, so that’s exactly how M1NDFCVK came about. When I sat down with Mitch Moore (the video director) I said to him; I have this beautiful friend (boychild) that I want to make babies with… on camera!
How did you feel about the controversy that the video amassed?
I was banned from YouTube within the first twenty minutes of uploading it, it was my first video! I felt like some sort of Future Internet Leader! But the Vimeo staff tweeted me thanking me for hosting it on there, which I thought was major.
What was it that you think people found so offensive about it?
I think it was the titties. My titties were out but they weren’t offended about that. Maybe tits , fashion, and genderless people are just too much for youtube. Im sure they’ll catch up in 5 years.
The video was incredibly sexual too, I think a lot of people possibly couldn’t understand what it was that they were watching. Was this supposed to be sex? foreplay? friendship?
It was weird trying to act with my friend in a sexual way but it brought us closer together!
How important is it to you to create music in a gender unspecific way? Do you think that it is very inherent to what you are trying to do?
I’m trying to bring genderless music to the top 40 pop world. I just don’t want gays or genderless people always having to be conceptual and only be available online. Gays should be free on the radio just as the hetero people are.
It can be quite easy to forget about how segregated things still are.
2013 should not be about that, we’re going to move way forward, fast forward!
In New York did you naturally congregate towards the gay and lesbian scene? Or was it something that you didn’t even think about?
Actually most of my friends are straight, my lifestyle in New York isn’t really a “gay lifestyle,” I’m not separated from the gays or anything like that. Even my OG Gangsta Homies in the Hood Respects me for who I am!
No one should have to separate themselves.
That in a way is more powerful and realistic, by creating and existing as if those boundaries don’t exist, how do your straight friends react to what your doing?
They realize they can’t live without me !
It seems like evolving around not having this sexual boundary is important to you.
I do not believe in boundaries, I believe in freedom in all the senses possible. You should be able to do what you want so you can create your own future. People 100 years before us created the path for what we now consider freedom and I want to be able to do the same thing.
What kind of people like that inspire you?
Honest People. Real will always recognize real. However if I had to name someone it would be Michael Jackson, I mean he was genderless.
It’s strange how people don’t really address Michael Jackson sexlessness. Do you like Prince too?
I love Prince so so much! But I probably love Michael Jackson way more. His idea of creative direction is something that I’ve been thinking about practically my whole life.
Lets talk about your role for Hood by Air, how do you collaborate with them?
I’m a consultant for Hood by Air, I’ve been working with Shayne for so long, he’s my best friend. Hood by Air is not just a luxury streetwear brand , it’s actually my lifestyle.
All fashion stems from what people wear by rejecting or manipulating the mainstream culture and that’s clearly what you and Hood by Air are doing. Did you have vivid ideas about changing your body image from a young age? Was it a feeling that you always had?
It feels great to know that our personal styles and the way we are can be translated straight to the runway . I still gag how amazing the brand is doing these days. Its so exciting.
How does it feel taking Hood By Air overseas?
It feels like Heaven On Earth :)
What do you think is next for Hood by Air?
To take it higher, higher, and more higher and gain the respect of the full Fashion World.. Not just streetwear ! As Everyone , We want to take it to the next level, redefining menswear in the pop element.
But Hood By Air isn’t just for men, women can wear it too.
That is how we can all progress, you welcome people in, you offer them different choices which they can identify with in their own ways.
Yes exactly you create for all types so everyone can reflect on it.
It must inspire people a lot. It’s powerful thing that you are all trying to do. It is also strong, having that bravery to subvert your own body image, to feel comfortable in your own body which is not expected by the mass both in your music and image.
Oh completely, and I try to do that with my music too, I try to write as genderless as possible. Even if I don’t release a song I can always give it to a straight friend to release because love is a genderless thing. We’re all experiencing so many different emotions at all times I want to try to always convey that.
How important is your own creative identity to you and the ways in which you style yourself?
I think a lot about it. Our own personal styles are the only referencing to how we design for Hood by Air. The Classics pieces by HBA are always my favourite pieces to converse about.. It’s easy, its me, its genderless.
Can you tell us about your tattoos?
I’m really into ghetto and jailhouse style tattoos. I have cherubs, I have roses, I have scriptures and diamonds
Do you get tattooed in New York?
Yes, only in New York by my homie Tyrell, he is a great tattooist I can’t wait to get back to him. I’m actually thinking about getting a neck piece.
What do you want to get?
I’m not too sure yet. I need to really sit down and think about that one.
When are you next releasing new music?
I’m in the process right now of releasing my first R&B Project which is going to change the game. This Summer .. I’m so excited
I was going to ask you about how important this notion of performance is to you in the many different outlets that you take? I feel like you are interested in having this kind of presence.
I’m now starting to realize that I can kind of sing and dance at the same time, I want to incorporate all of those things. When I go out to see people play I hate to see a stale performance in any situation. I want some life in something! When artists say that they generate their energy from a crowd I really, really believe in that.
Would you be interested in getting dancers to dance with you?
Absolutely, I’m actually looking into that now. My dream set up would be to be bear foot with candles all around me, backing singers behind me with all my friends around me smoking weed and drinking whiskey. Future cabaret!
Can you tell me about the hashtag you created # babyoilmusic ?
So if were going to create new genderless music lets create new genres too! # babyoilmusic its just a funny little attribute because you know baby oil is super sexy. When I was putting my music up on soundcloud I was looking through all the genres and none of them captured what I was doing. Everyone’s been freaking out over it!
When are your next shows?
I’m playing a few shows while I’m in Paris .. Then I’m coming back to London on the 30th of June to play with SSION at Birthdays. It’s so great that people are interested in me serenading them. I usually start my sets with a sweet opening cover.
What covers do you do?
India Arie, or maybe some Beyoncé. I like to do what ever gets the crowd going.
Fantastic and finally, what do you want us you know about you now?
I’m a simple dude. I love God, Music, People and Weed.
The Pleasure Has Totally Been All Mines <3
VIDEO directed by Helen Barr with music by Ian Isiah: Blindfolded
EDITORIAL: Shot by Sam Bayliss Ibram, styled by Jayson Hindley and make-up by Thom Walker
INTERVIEW: Reba Maybury
IMAGE 1 – JACKET – ARTIST’S OWNDOO RAG – ARTIST’S OWNIMAGE 2 – VEST – J.W. ANDERSONDOO RAG – HOOD BY AIRIMAGE 3 – JACKET – ARTIST’S OWNDOO RAG – ARTIST’S OWNIMAGE 4 – CROP TOP – HOOD BY AIR