Luciano Castelli SELF-PORTRAITS, 1973-1986


Luciano Castelli is the Swiss artist who is perhaps best known for his paintings but the self portraits which he created at the very beginning of his career show him as a mythological creature channeling visions of death, sex, the animal and fantasy. These truly striking and incredibly original images for their time are currently on show at the  Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.

Castelli achieved notoriety between 1970 and 1983 as a member of a school of expressive and gestural painting known as the “Jungen Wilden” that had been formed by a group of painters in Berlin.  His friendship with the Parisian photographer Pierre Mollinier introduced him to the world of photography and the period spent in France profoundly influenced his pictorial and photographic works. He became a muse for Mollinier which kick started his own explorations with self portraiture.

The dramatically theatrical visions created onto the body of Castelli varied from the expected notions of drag, suggestions of glamour and the primal visions of sexually fuelled animalistic body painting.  The fantasy which Castelli dreamed of would become costumed on to his body through the purpose of making these photographs or films. “I believe we are all made up of male and female aspects, and the combination interests me . . .”

There is a true richness in the originality to the images that Casetlli created which is in part to do with how drastically different but simultaneously similar he could make himself look.

Opening yesterday the exhibition runs until the 25th of May.

More information can be found here.

COLLIER SCHORR at 303 Gallery, New York


In “8 Women”, Schorr presents works spanning from the mid-nineties to the present. Schorr’s earliest works utilized appropriated ads from fashion magazines to address issues of authorship and desire. The works introduced a female gaze into the debate about female representation. Appropriation was Schorr’s first medium and in some sense she returns to it, taking her own commissioned fashion images and folding them into a dialogue with other works. Using the language of appropriation, found images are redefined as Schorr is in a sense “finding” and using her own images to explore new ways of relating the performer to the photographer. Far from the detachment of typical post-appropriation aesthetics, Schorr intimates subversion in the origins of her own photographs, suggesting that the texture of a circulated image carries a particular charge, both in its restaging and in its relation to other images.

The works in “8 Women” propose a variety of subjects, all of whom are involved in performance, be it as artists, models or musicians. Schorr, who has been working in fashion for the last 10 years, created sets that doubled as her studio, teasing out images that could only be made with a subject that could travel between the object of desire and the enforcer of an identity crafted in that very moment. Drawing inspiration from photo histories of female performance, film, and dance artists, Schorr began to work with models that seemed to strike a similar balance between display and authorship. Working between out-takes and manipulations of tear sheets, Schorr questions who the women that desire to be looked at are, as well as what power exists in acknowledging that as a post-feminist position. (source)

303 Gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 am – 6 [...]

Kayan Tattoo Models

These tiny tattooed arm and leg models come from the collection of Charles Hose, a colonial officer and amateur naturalist who travelled to Borneo from 1884 through 1904. Hose, who produced a book The Pagan Tribes of Borneo with English anthropologist William McDougall in 1912, was known for collecting ethnological and zoological “specimens,” which he later sold and donated to various collections, including the British Museum where these are currently housed.

The tiny hands and feet here (approx. 20 cm in length), with motifs scratched, carved, and incised into the wood,  seem to have functioned almost as 3-dimensional maps or guides for placement. In fact, Kayan people were known to create woodblock prints of proposed tattoos, to be smeared with ink and stamped on the skin of the person being tattooed to create a template. (Although I wonder why the tattoo stamps in the British Museum’s collection don’t display ink remnants…) In any case, the small holes at the top of the arms and legs displayed here suggest they were carried around by a string of some sort, perhaps with other materials in a kit, but other than serving as guides or keepsakes, I do wonder exactly how these little objects were used…

Jacques Katmor

The symbolisms found in the films of Jacques Katmor continue to dialogue with the history of post-WWII Israeli politics. Although heavy at times with the distinct aesthetic (and indeed, cliché), of 1960s counter-culture, Katmor’s films abandon traditional narrative plot in lieu of modernist seductions: imitation, cultural myth and experimentation.

Katmor was a filmmaker, artist and member of the Third Eye Group, a collective of artists working in 1960s Tel Aviv. The intent of the collective was to foster environments of cultural revolution in the young state of Israel.  Dynamic and multidisciplinary, the Third Eye Group staged performances, made street art, distributed comics and magazines (most notably, a zine called Strip), and opened a record shop which imported hard-to-find albums and literature. Ingesting drugs was also seen as a way to further artistic pursuits. A retrospective titled The Third Eye: Jacques Katmor Is Wishing You A Good Death, was held at the Nachum Gutman Museum of Art in 2012, prompting a posthumous interest in the group. As Virginie Sélavy has said, “the [Third Eye Group] were aware of what was going on elsewhere, wanted to be part of the world and rejected the militarised identity imposed by a nation entirely defined by the Holocaust narrative.”

1969′s A Woman’s Case (Mikreh Isha) is Katmor’s only feature. The film follows the meeting of a man and woman who spend a day together in the bohemian spaces of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: coffee houses, parties, a sculptor’s studio. Somewhere along the line the woman ends up dead.

Katmor’s alignment with the aesthetics of European and American 1960s counter-cultures is significant not only because of his leftist political leanings but because of his precarious socio-geographical position. A Jew born in Egypt, Katmor moved to Israel in 1960. The varied nature of his [...]

Dark Memories: Gian Paolo Barbieri

In a creative culture intoxicated by visions of reality, inspired by the documentarian capturing the grit and grime of IRL experiences, Italian fashion photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri holds on to a rare classical approach to art.

Thoroughly considered and often painstakingly contrived, his approach to  nude subjects mirrors that of classical sculpture more than contemporary photography; though the content of this subject matter presents objects and activities more graphic and real than any documentary approach can hope to achieve, it is executed is a manner that romanticizes. This quest to achieve a certain kind of purity, fearing any presentation of the subjects he captures as vulgar, instead attempting to elevate them above the pit of vulgarity and taboo that often surrounds them, places them in a dichotomy between reality and fantasy. Though this almost overly-romantic approach threatens to lose the very thing that might connect the viewer to these scenes, there is undeniably something mesmerizing about this detachment.

Dark Memories: Gian Paolo Barbieri, a book celebrating the photographer’s latest works, is out on Rizzoli in April.



Andre Kertesz is the Hugarain born photographer who created these important photographs in the 1930s. Fascinated by how an arbitrary image could become emptied of a reality that we are familiar with by simply using something as mundane as a mirror or glass, these images were truly ground breaking during their inception.


They way in which Kertesz manipulated the female body into some frightening was not particularly on purpose but more played on the then contemporary new ideas by Freud and the uncanny. Art no longer captured the beauty of the female form, but disfigures it to a kind of ‘negative aesthetic’ ideal. Freud claimed that the uncanny can lead us back to what is known and familiar. However the images created by Kertesz do not comfort the viewer in anyway, when seeing an image of a perfectly normal foot the eye will travel upwards to an engulfed thigh of abnormal proportions creating the image of the woman into something un-relatable to what we expect.

These images can also be read as a reaction to how normalised it was within art to see the female naked body as a harmonious and beautiful form. The way in which the women’s bodies are relayed to us in these photos shies away from normalised concepts of the erotic and sexual.

However it obviously wasn’t completely unheard of to have seen women’s bodies exaggerated into surrealistic shapes at that time in art especially of in the way that the likes of Picasso, Brancusi or Moore who had created images resembling this but photographing women in this way was unheard of.

In regards to how photographers were creating images of nudes at the time these images pay no resembles to how we expected to view women and the nude. [...] is the tumblr based website created by Shahan Assadourian, a fashion student who for the last year has been scanning and uploading hundreds of images from archives of fashion magazines.

Focussing on the time period of the mid 90s and early 2000s shows us a stretch of time just before the internet’s eclipsing effect on fashion. However unlike how most fashion history is so often categorised into kitsch loopholes, romanticised fashion illustrations or the clinical aesthetic of museum photographed objects, presents us with a refreshingly new stance on that difficult period of history which seems so recent but also has a weirdly fascinating distance.

The scans that archivings uploads are almost all from catwalks from the most esteemed designers to the now forgotten labels taken on analogue film. These images were taken and shared before the inception of the immediate nature of the likes of which now acts as the way we mostly all look at new fashion. exhibits a period of time where to observe the newest fashions you would have had to have purchased a magazine weeks after a show rather than scroll through Instagram.

The speed of fashion can quite confidently be regarded as being unhealthy and the cycle of clothing which is produced is in such a high quantity that it is easy to forget the amount of work that some designers have  created over time. It is also so simple to only think of designers by their last three to four collections but when a label has existed for decades their work can filter out of many peoples memories, especially  when many websites known for housing photographs of collections only start from around 10 to 15 seasons ago. Fashion during this [...]