Documenting beautiful images created with a balance of both fascinating photographic works and as a record of a contemporary subculture currently existing in New York – Bound by Night was recently created by Elegance Bratton and published through Wild Life press.
Twenty three years on from Jennie Livingston’s seminal documentary Paris is Burning which followed young LGBT African American and Hispanic individuals recreate spaces to feel at home within outside of their biological families and through the space of the ballroom; Bratton shows the rest of the world that this culture hasn’t disappeared but simply adapted to our current time.
Unfortunately homophobia, racism and transphobia haven’t been eradicated in the last two decades and what is possibly more upsetting is in Bratton’s introduction where he explains to the reader that since the late 80s the AIDS epidemic has never really slowed down for this community and is still spreading to the most vulnerable at a ferocious rate.
Many of the individuals shot in this book fall in to the subcategories of the ballroom competitions of Femme Queen, Butch Queen, Sex Sirens, Thugs, Voguers, Pretty Boys and so on which are all perfectly explained to us in the introduction.
However much hardship the individuals in this book have experienced, the elements of transformation that fashion and dance offer these young people creates a space of celebration and empowerment. Bratton also presents us with a space which is actually very private and its in own way quite exclusive, many of our own experiences of this culture exist through spectating its re-appropriation through pop culture.
It is so rare to see images where notions of fashion are explored without a barrier of unattainability or exclusivity manifesting themselves, rather Bratton’s images show us an area of hope [...]
Simon Paccaud is a Swiss artist, who took up residency at Sang Bleu earlier this month in preparation for his debut show in London. On Thursday 30th April we held the opening for Simon’s show entitled Mimi Siku and celebrated at The Passage with live performances from the man himself.
It’s your first time in London, what are your initial thoughts of the city?
It’s a pretty classy town from what I saw I think it’s different from where I come from anyway. There’s a good mix of people, and a lot of cultural diversity. This city has an energy to it that lends itself very well to hip hop culture. During the ten days I have been here I feel like the city is always moving.
How has being in London inspired the pieces you have been working on for your debut show in London?
Well, in the pieces I have created have been inspired by my time here. Ideally I think I would have spent more time here to really know more about the city. But yeah it inspired me, at the same time it’s like many things in my work I use codes that are pretty clear, that come from the street or the popular culture.
Could you explain what Mimi Siku is? How did its formation take place?
It’s just a re-appropriation of the film “Little Indian, Big City” and I have friends who call me Mimi Siku. It’s kind of like that guy who’s coming from a different environment (I have lived 10 years in the mountains), just a little besides, who discovers the towns and that’s just what I’m doing for a while. For 10 years, I do everything to climb on buildings or ride full of places. Acting like it was [...]
Alexandra Rayne is a working in the sex industry and is london based. We took some time to discuss sex work, politics and BDSM.
So to start with would you like to tell us how did you start to do sex work? Did it come before or after your involvement in sex/kink/swinger scene? How does both influence each other?
Sex work was always at the back of my mind to try out, ever since I was a teenager and stumbled across a coffee table book of Dominatrix photographs at a friends parents place. I was kinky, but I wouldn’t have conceptualised it that way back then. I guess I figured that my fantasies were entirely normal and it was everyone else that was kinked.
I started out as a dancer, but found that whilst it was good fun (and I enjoyed the club environment) the interactions with customers were….unsatisfying. There was something so banal and flat about dancing to the same songs over and over, so unsexual and not very stimulating for me. I think intimate, one-on-one sessions were always going to be on the cards. I used to get in trouble at the club because I would sit down beside customers and fall into a deep conversation about kink with them – and forget to hustle for a dance!
Eventually I started escorting, and then I got into professional submission, which was about 5 years ago. It seemed like a good fit for me.
Sex work is still bearing a high stigma in western societies, how do you articulate it with your daily life? When does your job become an identity ?
Sex work will always be stigmatised for as long as female sexuality and female power are coded as a threatening [...]
In addition to Simon Paccauds show opening, Sang Bleu and Denim Tears will be hosting the first Sang Bleu Party of the year at The Passage 27A Dalston Lane from 10pm til late.
DJ Gohan (Peur Bleue)
Shha kuumba feat vermimisiku
Rap performance 11pm
Set Times TBA
Sang Bleu Contemporary will be exhibiting the work of current resident artist Simon Paccaud. The art installation entitled Mimi Siku will run from Thursday 30th April – May 12th. The official opening night tomorrow will be followed by a music performance by Simon and other guests. RSVP by clicking the image or visit the facebook page for more information. Interview with Simon to follow.
Launching on Election Day, the expanded version of Sang Bleu Editor-in-Cheif Reba Maybury’s newspaper is launching. Radical People is a newspaper celebrating the radical behaviour which has moved our society forward into a more compassionate place by subcultural icons now over the age of 50.
Featuring a cross section of the well known to the unknown, the newspaper features some of the most pioneering politicians, musicians, artists, writers, activists, performers and muses of the last fifty years.
Including the likes of politician Peter Tatchell, activist , artist and muse Caroline Coon, David Thomas of Pere Ubu, performance artist Franko B, ROY INC, Steve Ignorant of Crass, Christine Binnie of the Neo-Naturists, Lesley Woods of The Au Pairs and now immigration lawyer, tattooer Alex Binnie, the sex positive feminist comic book artist Melinda Gebbie, Princess Julia, anarcho-punk band Rubella Ballet, sexologist Tuppy Owens, punk icon Honey Bane, Janis Hetherington the first lesbian to have artificial insemination and notorious madam of 60s London, Bruno Wizard of the Homosexuals, Richard Adams one of the graphic designers of OZ magazine , Colin Abrahall of GBH and more.
By asking each person to re-count their own interpretation of the word radical or a radical memory, the stories range from the AIDS crisis, memories of the first days of punk, the Poll Tax Riots, capitalisms manipulation of authentic rebellion, important performance art events, gigs and night clubs, wetting the bed and much more.
The newspaper has specially commissioned portraits by Iain McKell and graphics by Jamie Reid.
The newspaper launch will take place at Donlon books from 6-30 -9pm.
An after party will take place at Vogue Fabrics from 12-3 with all proceeds going to Shelter in regards to homelessness rising by 80% since the Conservative government [...]
Cali Thornhill-DeWitt is an artist born, raised, and living in Los Angeles. Taking inspiration from the tragedy of American culture; voyeurism, stardom, war (read: pop), his works deal with and question these values (think: motivational posters calling to ‘build more prisons’). Cali’s mission is not a political one, yet the accessibility of his imagery makes it hard to turn a blind eye to the obvious issues he likes to reference – a smiling eye, however.
As a likely substitute for attending school, Cali got involved with the LA music scene at a young age. Feeding that passion, today it manifests in regular collaborations with musicians from the likes of Antwon, Lil Ugly Mane, Hunx and his Punx, and even Faith No More, all for which Cali has either directed and shot videos, or created cover art.
We caught up with Cali in Berlin, one day after a special one-off presentation hosted by 032c. Showcased here was Cali’s Memorial series, a compliation of traditional gang jumpers – instead of members’ names boasting those of Cali’s favourite dead celebrities.
Your work features a lot of typography, which made me wonder whether you had some kind of graffiti background?
Barely. Like, not even worth mentioning. Like, graffiti in like ’89 and ’90, and not really like, going all the way with it. Someone actually, like 8 years ago said to me, I know you from graffiti. And I thought that was so weird, cos I don’t even think about graffiti. So, not really.
What do you think of street art?
Street art is a shitty word, and name. But I like vandalism, and I like gang graffiti, you know? But like street art, I don’t even care.
What’s your background, could you tell me a bit of where [...]