Akhen Aten is the 21 year old behind the popular tumblr http://zimbabwe2003.tumblr.com Unlike the usual juxtaposition of inanimate words that create most URL names for post adolescent tumblr users Akhen’s deals with his own situation much more directly. He lived in Zimbabwe until 2003 and was born there in 1992.
Crammed with what we all expect of the carefully sculpted attention to the creation of a digital self of this kind of tumblr user, the webcam selfies, nostalgic images from the most recent turn of the century and most importantly photographs of tropical plants, however Akhen page separates itself from what so easily becomes tumblr pastiches while still representing the aesthetic.
You might be thinking why are we interviewing the creator of a tumblr? What makes the bedroom fuelled narcissism of a digital profile important for you to read about? Everyone is now guilty of creating an internet self which exaggerates or shuns a truth to our physical self and as the internet excels the ways in which we express ourselves, the ways of creating an identity becomes more and more complex. In our world now where everyones mother has a Facebook how can we differentiate one profile to the next, what makes someone stand out?
Many use tumblr as a way to produce a false sense of their own experiences, a way to make a nostalgia before its inception could ever happen. But more than anything the internet has made the creation of the self a democratic chance for anyone to attract anonymous popularity and even fame for simply being projection of themselves.
Akhen of course isn’t the only person to do this but its rare to find someone whose internet self is so refreshingly authentic and creative without being so opaquely constructed.
It doesn’t [...]
Karlheinz Weinberger is the photographer famous for his portraiture of the pre-Stonewall post war subcultures in his native Switzerland. This exhibition at Maccarone in New York will share many unseen images taken by Weinberger from 1959 to the early 80s. Encapsulating his most well known themes, intricate embellished biker jackers, tattoos, crotch shots and touching portraits of ultra masculine men the exhibition will be sure to take a glimpse into Weinberger’s fascinating photography.
Starting his career taking photographs at underground gay clubs of rebellious working class men his work created an aspect of dressing the body like no other subculture of its time can compare its self to.
In post-war Switzerland, they were referred to as the “Halbstarke”, (meaning “halfstrong”), working class boys and girls dissatisfied by the conservative climate of the day. Weinberger’s obsession with their otherness resulted in the remainder of his “true” life’s work, recording and tracking a history of one particular subculture.
Weinberger’s interest in this nascent scene and its use of the body led to an enduring study of their rituals and lifestyle. The Halbstarke’s gang identity was expressed in their distinctive self-branded DIY clothing of which Weinberger created a visual record: jeans embellished by a crotch of bolts or angled thrusts of pins; embroidered and patched motorcycle jackets; armor like belt buckles referencing and emulating American icons such as Marlon Brando, James Dean and Elvis Presley; thickly-teased hairdos accented by the chunky wool sweaters and draped animal skins surrounding them. These tribal distinctions, forged in bold strokes, signify what was evolving into a universal appreciation for the intricacies of the other, their tales of reclusive honor told via tattoo emblems and jacket crests, harkening the underground of the late 1950′s zeitgeist.
Considered in a broader anthropological sense, Weinberger’s practice can [...]
Walking past the Trinity Church Ceremony in Lower Manhattan, I first became enamored with early American gravestones, from the “amateur” to the hauntingly ornate. Luckily for me, the American Antiquarian Society houses a terrific database of photographs of headstones: The Farber Gravestone Collection.
The 2003 introductory essay to collection, penned by the late Jessie Farber, who contributed many photographs, provides a wonderful introduction. By summarizing previous scholarship, Farber provides plausible (although admittedly incomplete) interpretations for many of the symbols and motifs whose morbidity first fascinated me: skulls, hourglasses, scythes, and coffins to the Puritan emphasis on human mortality, and winged faces and angels as parallel motifs to a mid-18th Century emphasis on resurrection rather than mortality. She also transcribes some of the headstones’ macabre verses:
Molly tho plea∫ant in her day
Was ∫udd’nly ∫eiz’d and ∫ent away
How ∫oon ∫hes ripe how ∫oon ∫hes rott’n Sent to her grave & ∫oon for gott’n
Mary Fowler, 1792, Milford, Connecticut
The collection is incredible, not only in its documentation of the gravestones, but in its photographic value. Comprising the work of four photographers spanning many decades and professions–Harriette Merrifield Forbes (1856-1951), Ernest Caulfield (1893-1972), Dan Farber (1906-1998) and his wife, Jessie Lie Farber– the collection reveals four distinct approaches. The collection’s photographers both lived and worked during different eras, and they approached their photographs with different backgrounds and motivations: Forbes photographed during the 1920s as part of a stylistic analysis and attribution project, Caulfield, a doctor, photographed in the 50s, discovering the gravestones through his research on 18th century “throat distemper,” and the Farbers were photographers by profession.
Of course, the sheer variety of these stones is mind boggling: from the simplest incised skulls to the full reliefs of modeled reapers, each stone feels both idiosyncratic and fully embedded in a cultural [...]
YOU CAN SURF LATER – A collection of engraved trench Art. GI Zippo lighters from the Vietnam War era.
‘Imagine being one of the young American soldiers caught up in the Vietnam War. You would have had a Zippo lighter with you, an indispensable ‘tool’ and an unfailing companion. After buying it at a supply shop from the Army, you probably would have had it personalised by a local Vietnamese engraver, or maybe you would have bought one on the black market already decorated with an engraving popular amongst your brother-in-arms.
Ivan Liechti collects pictures of engraved GI Zippos from the Vietnam War era. In this issue, he presented a collection of those artworks, redrawn and transferred onto paper in order to preserve their rather crude original appearance. The work represents a kind of modern day epigraphy.
On these small metal objects, one can discover a whole world of images, a direct insight into the mind of the soldiers thrown into battle, on average only 19 years old, as well as a reflection on a troubled period of war and socio-cultural shift in the history of the USA. The pictures, apart from countless images of naked girls, explicit sexual drawings or military insignia, show that you could also have chosen a design related to your civilian life, inspired by songs you were listening to or by comic books you were reading. And aside from the bow tie Playboy bunny, there would have been images with political statements like Snoopy fighting the Red Baron, one-fingered salutes, or the raised fist from Afro American Black Power movement.
But in the end you might have decided simply to have your Zippo engraved with the terribly accurate:
‘WHEN I DIE I’LL KNOW I AM GOING TO HEAVEN CAUSE I SPENT MY TIME IN HELL’
You can buy the book here: http://side-issues.net
Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo
On March 6th Powerhouse Books is hosting a panel on women in tattoo at their arena in Brooklyn. Including Black Art Tattoo 2 author Marisa Kakoulas, Saved Tattoo’s Stephanie Tamez and Virginia Elwood, 2Spirit’s Roxx and the painterly Amanda Wachob, the panel is hosted by author Margot Miffin, who released 1997′s Bodies of Subversion, the first exploration of the history of women in tattoo dating back to the mid nineteenth century and chronicling both the work of women artists and the women they tattooed.
To attend RSVP at email@example.com
Coum Transmissions :
”SCENES OF VICTORY”
COUM has changed. That is good. Up until late 1976 we performed many actions as art in streets, galleries and festivals. We explored our own neuroses and exposed them publicly. The article/directive ”Annihilating Reality” grew from our conclusions through doing all these actions. We found the artworld on every level less satisfying than real life. For every interesting performance artist there was a psychopath, fetishist or intense street individual who created more powerful and socially direct imagery. We also were unhappy about art being separated from popular culture and the mass media. It seemd to us that it was far more effective propaganda/information dispersal to be written up the the NEWS section of daily papers than in a back page column of a specialist Art journal. Now we much more rarely make actions in Art spaces, we create private documentation. We have moved into the public arena and are using popular cultural archetypes. We live our lives like a movie, we try to make each scene interesting viewing. We use the press to record our activities iike a diary. Our documentation is newspapers and magazines.
COUM TRANSMISSIONS has a diverse membership. At its active core are Peter Christopherson, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge. Cosey Fanni Tutti is working as a professional striptease dancer and topless go-go dancer in London pubs, Peter Christopherson is using photography to create private archetypal situations and Genesis P-Orridge is producing private images as Art and then deliberately attempting to manipulate the media to absorb them as ”News” and via the news media distribute these images into hundreds of thousands of ordinary homes to see if it stays art, mutates or just what the implications of elite versus popular are. We try [...]
On the 26th of February Sang Bleu will be hosting a Paris Fashion Week party at Silencio. The party starts at 10pm and MxM, Virgil and Acyde will be djing. There will also be a film playing created by Sang Bleu and ARMES.
To attend the party please email sangbleuRSVP@gmail.com