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.

 


DISTORTIONS – ANDRE KERTESZ

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. [...]


archivings.net

Archivings.net 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 archivings.net 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, archivings.net 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 style.com which now acts as the way we mostly all look at new fashion. Archivings.net 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 [...]


An interview with Kenji Alucky

Kenji Alucky is the phenomenally influential Japanese tattooer whose black work, dot work and geometrical tattoo work can not be compared to any other tattooer in its skill, placement and originality. Constantly travelling Kenji is often found working in studios all over the globe, recently he was working in London at Sang Bleu where we had a chance to create this small interview.

. How did you start tattooing? I inked my leg by myself for the first time with a self converted electric toothbrush, at the age of 16. The same I did for the following year with an electric shaving machine, then I eventually imported some decent device from the States when I turned 18. Do you have any art education?- I’ve been self taught for my entire life.
How long have you been tattooing for? I’d like to keep a low profile on that as my actual age is secret!

What do you enjoy about travelling with tattooing?

-In a sense, I actually do enjoy being in “inconvinient” situations.
The good vives and stimulations that I come across with new places and also
rad tattoists are definetely worth being as a traveller tattooist.
Though I hate sightseeing.

  Why did you want to create dot work and black work tattoos? I used to ink in variety of genre before. However, I hated the idea of earning bills as for the return of unwilling works, so I simply dumped all the colour inks that I had to do the things I want to do the most; the culture of black and dot work from England which I was shocked. How do you want to see your tattooing evolve in the future? To mainly focus on creating the “original” works, and most importantly never stop challenging.

Who do you respect in the tattoo world and why? Xed Le Head,Tomas Tomas,Jondix and Thomas Hooper. I met them in real [...]

Experimentum crucis

 

Experimentum crucis - the decisive experience , literally “the experience of the cross”, sometimes called “critical experiment” – an experiment which outcome uniquely determines whether a particular theory or hypothesis is correct. This experiment should give a predicted result, that can’t be withdrawn from the other common hypotheses and theories.

“Experimentum cruces” was filmed in 1995 and took place on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan in a children colony. It was documented by a man who spent more than 10 years working at this institution. I have transcribed and translated various parts of the video below. Although the entire video has not been transcribed visually alone the film is quite outstanding and the parts dissected are of more interest.

Taras Popov (writer and director):

” …I worked in the colony from 1983 till 1995 as a psychiatrist. This position was introduced in 1983 , in connection with the anti-alcohol campaign in the Soviet Union, and increased suicidal tendencies in the institutions of this type…

…At the end of 80s the so called humanization process started. Colonies began to exchange some positive experiences. I offered our heads to buy some photo and video equipment to share our achievements. We bought a “Krasnogorsk” 16mm camera, tapes, photo cameras and slide projectors…

…We were making movies, slides and traveled to various conferences. What were we demonstrating? “Proper” events: prisoners visiting the city, working in collective farms, building of rehab areas, patronage after the release and so on. In parallel I was filming the hidden prisoner’s life: tattoos, relationships – the so-called negative colony phenomena. As for me personally, this subculture was much more interesting than soviet propaganda…

…In 1993 a friend of mine gifted me a Panasonic 9000, the [...]