habits of touch; parallels between medieval liturgy and contemporary screen culture

The habits of both medieval and contemporary people share many similarities. One such habit expresses a deeply human desire to connect and interact, and it revolves around touch – specifically, the touching of images.

During the Medieval period, devotional prayer books – manuscripts, missals, the Book of Hours etc – were very often manipulated and interacted with on a physical level by their readers, or ‘users’. From these instances of touch, we can mark discolouration, staining, tearing, smearing of ink, and general wearing away across the pages of these books. In these lasting and tangible traces of touch, we can see emotional responses the Medieval user had to these books, and learn much about the relationships Medieval people had with devotional objects and religious imagery.

In countless cases, images taken from Medieval missals – depicting scenes from the Bible such as the crucifixion, Eve’s temptation, the Devil, etc – have been completely worn away through repeated touching, kissing and smearing. I find it strange and moving to see an image of Christ having been totally kissed away, the ink from his face and body gone, leaving weird, formless empty spaces on the page. These rituals demonstrated the Medieval person’s devotion and piety, tangibly. I sit to pray and kiss the body of Christ, and I have done it so many times. His image is not even there any more. How devoted I am; how religious, how good.

As well as these positive rituals – kissing, stroking, etc – the devout Medieval people would also bring to their liturgy expressions of the negative. These negative rituals included the violent smiting, stabbing and rubbing of scenes of evil. For example, they would efface a depiction of the Devil, and in doing so they showed their condemnation [...]

Maxime Ballesteros photographs Le Mondial du Tatouage 2015 Part 2

We had the pleasure of inviting Maxime Ballesteros to the Mondial du Tatouage earlier this year and these are some of the photos he took of the tattoo convention.


Shout Out: Pirate Radio of the 80s at the ICA

Shout Out! Pirate Radio of the 80s is a travelling archival exhibition that’s currently on show at the ICA, London but ending this weekend, so make sure you visit the exhibit that profiles and pay tributes to a part of British culture that hasn’t been well acknowledged before.

Though the offshore pirate radios of the 60s has been well documented in pop culture, the 80s’ part in the scene has, for the most part, failed to be acknowledged. Though the stations of the 60s transmitted from boats just outside British territorial waters, those producing pirate radio in the 80s transmitted fearlessly on home terrain, often from the top of city tower blocks. On record there were 600 nationwide pirate radio stations during the era, with 60 of them broadcasting from London alone.

The scene developed from the growing dissatisfaction DJs and listeners had in the music that was being played by the BBC and licensed radio stations, including the lack of representation of the voice and music of Britain’s ethnic minorities. These pirate radio stations almost exclusively played reggae, soul, funk and hip hop and acted as platforms of representation for Afro-Caribbean talent and influence in a conservative society menaced by Margaret Thatcher.

This underground music rebellion represented a form of escape from the racial division and economic marginalization that mainstream culture and media alienated British ethnic minorities from. Though the locations of the broadcasts remained largely undercover, nightclubs and record shops became the physicalised locations of the radio themselves, acting as places for safe and welcome social interaction and creative exchange. On display are event flyers hosted by the stations, such as WBLS launching at Limelight, 136 Shaftesbury Avenue and events held at Brixton’s Fridge.

A selection of David Corio’s photographs of Black British [...]

Women of Wrestling at Doomed Gallery, Dalston

Thoughts of female wrestlers are likely to conjure up over sexualized, performative and borderline misogynist imagery as opposed thoughts of feminine liberation. However, it’s not all big breasts and tight latex. Brighton based zine fair Hidden Eggs are hoping to question these stereotypes, and showcase the stories of women with a genuine love for throwing punches, in their one-day only exhibition based around the culture and community of female wrestlers. Hosted at Doomed Gallery Dalston, Isobel Reddington has pulled in a selection of artists, working across mediums such as photography and illustration, to create a multi-faceted view of what it means to partake in this largely male dominated career path. With the evening doubling up as the first ever UK screening of Ruth Lietman’s documentary Lipstick and Dynamite, in which pioneers of the scene tell their own stories, Women of Wrestling serves as a celebration of the wrestling world as well as a subtle critique.


First of all, who is Hidden Eggs and what do you do?

Hidden Eggs is a zine that was born out of the inspiration and frustration of a group of friends working in the service industries in Brighton while making their own work on in their spare time. It is a celebration of people whose work goes under the radar of mainstream media, and also a reaction to beautifully designed magazines with rubbish content. I have organised two successful zine fairs in Brighton this year – there are a lot of people self publishing in Brighton and London at the moment, which is great! There is critique and humour in zines that is hard to find elsewhere in print.  Women of Wrestling is actually the first of its kind that I have organised, I think the [...]

Interview with Fabrice AKA Cokney, Hugo Vitrani and Thibault Choay about the release of their book Chiaroscuro


Back in April, illegal artist and tattooist Cokney had an exhibition at Sang Bleu Contemporary Art and Project Space. He has recently launched a new book ‘Chiaroscuro’ that chronicles his alternative life and work in two volumes; the first ‘Chiaro’ (the white book) including personal ephemera of himself and his art alongside film photography given back to him by police after his first arrest. The second ‘scuro’ (the black book) features an array of documents that followed his court case after he was publicly arrested by the anti-graffiti brigade in 2011. The book reinvents the way graffiti art is exhibited and presented, taking its usual spatial and temporary platform of the urban surface inside; from public to personal property. We talked to Cokney, Hugo Vitrani and Thibault Choay about the publication of this exciting project.

Interview by Lea Gosselin

L: How did you get the idea of making a book?

C: When the cops gave me back these two films, I thought it would be stupid to not use it.
I explain it in the book, I make analog photography, not because it’s kind of cool. Nowadays, we are in an overconsumption of the photography (digital), we do not value the picture itself anymore but we totally remove the « selection » aspect.
So they gave me back these films, I thought it was stupid to only develop it and store it with my other pictures.
Actually I needed a letter for my stories of justice, from his publishing house (ndlr Thibaut Choay, Classic Paris).
And he told me that we wanted to publish a collection of very simple photography books. I proposed him to develop these two films without seeing the content before the release.

T: The series in question, for now I just published one volume, this [...]

An Interview with Frederico Lopez Rabelo – Creating a culture for our generation.

Frederico Rabelo is a Young Brazilian tattoo artist who creates incredibly detailed ink work. Rabelo caught the attention of Maxime and so guested with us at Sang Bleu this weekend. We had an informal conversation with him about tattoos and his inspirations. Fred owns his own shop ‘Covil’ in a small town in his native Brazil, at the age of just 24.

What is Brazilian tattoo culture?

Nowadays in Brazil there are a lot of tattooists doing really well, however many of them come from traditional schools like oriental, tribal or American traditional. The biggest Scene is in Sao Paulo, but as Brazil is a really big country you can find interesting things now and again but overall there isn’t an original movement specific to Brazil. I can feel the scene in Brazil growing fast though and the artists with innovation will succeed in a country where the scene hasn’t been saturated that much yet at all.

How do you like working in London and other parts of Europe?

Working here is awesome, to my mind London has the best tattoo scene in the world at the moment, here in London you can find many really good studios and tattoo artists who do such genius work. Professionals form everywhere come here all the time because you feel part of something special when you do and in doing so it makes the scene grow. The London artists have clearly put in a tremendous amount of dedication to get the scene here to this level of professionalism and when I come here and other countries other than mine I aim to help build something good for our generation. I really love to go to New york, I just really love to guest, its a [...]

Nan Goldin and Friends at the Barbican: ‘Variety’


The Barbican’s series Nan Goldin and Friends, a programme of films inspired by the photographer’s life, work and person, continues tonight with a screening of Bette Gordon’s 1984 film ‘Variety’.

Nan Goldin and Friends is a series of screenings of films created in the downtown film scene of the late 70s and 80s and one later work, ‘High Art’ (1998), which features a character based on Goldin’s person. This late 70s underground film scene is better known as No Wave and championed guerrilla style film making primarily concerned with the moods and the textures of a film above all else. Pioneer No Wave film makers such as John Lurie and Tom de Cillo contributed to the production of Gordon’s ‘Variety’.

‘Variety’ (1984) shows tonight; Christine, an aspiring journalist takes a job selling tickets for a porn theatre on Times Square but soon becomes obsessed with those she serves- the passing instances and the seasoned regulars, with one in particular installing a sense of perverse intrigue and desire for her character. It’s a post feminist noir set against a decaying and dangerous pre-gentrified Manhattan; the gaudy lighted ‘VARIETY’ cinema sign acts as a beacon of bygone entertainment and sexual energy against the foul and depressive New York that we can no longer comprehend or understand.

The film is a profound discussion on contemporary sexuality, especially through its female characters – women newly navigating the terrain of the sex industry, finding themselves there from curiosity and an economic drive. The film presents a generation of women understanding that the sexual liberation of the 60s hadn’t actually provided them with much; the ‘Tiny Tits and Cute Asses’ porn mag that Michelle is reading in the ticket booth is Gordon’s, bought before being asked to leave a [...]