Ten Questions: Cokney

After several back and forth email conversations spanning a number of months, for a moment it seemed as if the “Ten Questions” interview with Parisian-based tattooer and graffiti writer Cokney was never going to happen. Understandably so, as 2014 has been a busy, although productive year for this young French artist, with several guest spots throughout the world, a number of exhibitions, and a full time position at Hand In Glove tattoo shop in Paris. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to meet up with him at this year’s edition of Art Tattoo Montreal this past weekend, where he was awarded the prize for “Tattoo of the Weekend”. Among that discussed were his introduction to tattooing, his constant appetite for travel, and one of his other pursuits – graffiti writing. Keep reading below for more, and be sure to check out his Instagram and website for a number of other photos.

For those who are unfamiliar with your work, could you please introduce yourself? What does ‘Cokney’ mean and why have you chosen to tattoo under a pseudonym rather than your real name?

I live in Paris and work at Hand In Glove tattoo shop. I discovered tattooing through the skinhead and punk culture in the early 2000’s. During this period I used to go to every Oi! and reggae-rocksteady show. With few young skinhead like me, we started to do everything together, we decided to organize ourselves as a band. During the evolution of this band I had my first vision of tattooing, something more brutal, a tattoo that take its power from symbolism more than aesthetic beauty. On the side I was also actively painting graffiti on trains and subways… The name “Cokney” was formed, and continues to be my [...]


Stills from Chris and Cosey’s music video for their song Rise in 1989

 

In 1989 Chris and Cosey made this exceptional song Rise and to accompany it they made this equally brilliant fetishistic music video. The film was made at the height of the music video’s popularity and almost parodies the kind of MTV friendly editing, dancing and art direction. This is contrasted with Cosey’s beaming confidence as she lets the camera shoot her up skirt as she dances, high heels walking on hands, drumsticks hitting women’s arses and a personality-less gimp mask provoking the camera. The beat of the song is accompanied to the most satisfactory balance of handcuffs hitting the floor, Cosey’s orgasmic body writhing all over the place and shots of electric drum machines.  It’s a work of art in its own right both sonically and visually and its brightening up our Friday morning.

 


Helen Mcdonnell’s Tattoo collection

Helen McDonnell is a Belfast based tattooist who works and owns at Skullduggery studio  since she opened it fourteen years ago. Starting her apprenticeship in 1991 in Dublin at Johny Eagles street shop, as far as she is aware she is one of the very first female tattooists in Ireland. After a year working and learning what she could get from her coworker, she went on to travel all over the world and collected amazing pieces from some of the greatest artists on the globe. We had the chance to snap a few pictures when she visited Sang Bleu studio to get tattooed by Phlip Yarnell. Here she took us through some of her favourite pieces.

Filip Leu – Half sleeve forearm 

I asked him to do what he wanted, so we continued the water from the upper arm piece. Initially I thought it would be really formal session, and was happily surprised by how sharing he was with is knowledge. It was a great experience.

 

Horiyoshi the third – Flowers on forearm

I went to visit him and was really surprised that I got to get booked in at fairly short notice, especially because he is such a legend. The first session was in in his older studio. We got collected, and had to be guided there, in the middle of a residential area.

I asked him for flowers and to do whatever he wanted. He only drew two lines to define the space he will work within and freehanded the whole piece.

When we arrived, there was a thunderstorm, and due to the metal roofing the noise was really amplified for the whole session, and stopped when the tattoo stopped. The most dramatic tattoo I have ever had experienced.

The outline [...]


An interview with Adam Katz Sinding

Adam Katz Sinding is the man behind the hugely popular street style blog Le 21ème and he recently exhibited a selection of his black and white photographs at the Sang Bleu Contemporary Art and Practice Space which was sponsored by Jura whiskey.

Sinding’s photo’s capture the absurdness of fashion and the people who adore it in a truly perfect way. The models, stylists, photographers and journalists who flock to the ten minutes catwalks in carefully planned outfits to catch the attention of the likes of these blogs are documented by Sinding like a social documentary as they arrive and leave to these elitist and capitalist biannual events.

What makes Sinding’s blog stand out from the others (of which there are thousands) is his refined taste in photographing the elite of the fashion world, the most in demand supermodels post show having a cigarette or the stylists wearing the most desired Raf Simons coat or Prada heels glued to their iPhones. These images are usually paired by Sinding’s ability to balance the contrast of their thin and caucasian features, soon to be out of taste clothing and metropolitan background to a satisfying balance. He doesn’t capture the original, progressive or eccentric dressers like many other blogs but focuses his attention on what is considered the most exclusive, physically beautiful and luxurious.  Le 21ème is a blog dedicated to the people who are passing in the fashion world, the ones who are following its rules perfectly and not questioning what any of it means other than a competitive desire to fit into something they don’t quite understand.

I interviewed Sinding to find out more about his strange life travelling the world immersing himself in the ephemeral, surreal and exclusive energy of the [...]


SB6 Interview with Guy le Tatooer

An Interview with Guy le Tatooer from Sang Bleu issue 6 2013

Guy Le Tatooer has ink in his blood. His father tattoos on the Pacific Island of New Caledonia, and taught his son the trade in 2000. After six years working in the family shop, perfecting Polynesian tattoos, Tatooer relocated to Toulouse, France. His personal style is a mix of cultural reference points. He describes it as .intemporal.. More explicitly, it is a mix of folk traditions and a keen distillation of classic symbols of all global tattooing. Ultimately, he’s into really brutal tattoos with a power impact. Outside of body marking, Tatooer has also experimented with the exhibition of his art in galleries. In 2011, he showed a series entitled .Tattooed Arms. at Paris’ La Galerie Gimple & Muller,

a literal interpretation of tattoo art. He employed silicon arms, mounted in frames, to focus attention on how icons fit on the body. Tatooer, works with Rafel Delalande, another artist who has helped popularize bold, black articulations of traditional motifs. You might call this .educated traditional,. As the idea of the icon is privileged and given voice in the rawest, most direct form.



Hal Fischer’s ‘Gay Semiotics’ at Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles

Cherry and Martin Gallery in Los Angeles hosts Hal Fischer’s series of photographs, ‘Gay Semiotics‘, seen for the first time in its entirety for forty years after they were first exhibited in 1977. Fischer started photographing San Francisco’s gay community of Castro Street and Haight Ashbury in February 1977. It was the first series of work that dealt with the visual iconography of the gay lifestyle. The result is a photographic study of visual coding amongst homosexual men; annotated tableuxs of gay bodies and the reading that their adornment demands.

The exhibition deals with four different themes, the first is ‘Signifiers for a Male Response’ which features the elements of dress that formulate the sexual semiotics used to communicate whether one was homosexual and what their sexual preferences were, such methods of communication were necessary due to the complexity of sexual possibilities.  For example a red handkerchief would signify submissiveness within a sexual act. Keys and earrings had a similar purpose.

‘Archetypal Media Images’ is another section which deals with the documentation of male fantasy, the archetypal gay images as they exist in the media and the urban realm. The characterisation is one rooted in gay magazines, cartoons and pornography. In his essay that accompanied the first publishing of the images in 1977, Fischer notes that ‘Natural’ and ‘Classical’ are mere pictorial structures and subliminal characters in contrast to the more complex ‘Western’, ‘Urbane’ and ‘Leather’ that have more of a role in reality due to their clothing (‘Natural’ and ‘Classical’ feature as nudes). The series also features the media image of ‘Dominance’, ‘Sado-Masochism’ and ‘Submission’.

The staged backgrounds of the archetypal media images are placed beside ‘Street Fashions’ which are staged on San Francisco’s sloped streets. ‘Street Fashions’ are the gay styles one [...]


The ‘underground’ arts scene is now just a click away from the easily offended

 

We’ve decided to reblog this brilliant article from The Guardian about the internet’s effect on how we perceive and interact with contemporary underground culture by Lois Keidan.

A while ago, I received an email at the Live Art Development Agency (Lada) from a woman complaining about a performance art event she had attended in east London. I was one of a number of recipients that included Nicholas Serota and Boris Johnson. She’d witnessed suspended men doing things to themselves that she didn’t like one bit, and her email included an incomprehensible reference to Fifty Shades of Grey .

Not long after that, someone else phoned Lada’s office to complain about being traumatised by a performance in Leeds, and wanted to know why the artists were allowed to get away with such things. More recently, another woman wrote to us, and seemingly any other organisation she could Google in the Hackney Wick area, to protest about the things she’d been subjected to in the venue Performance Space. These are the tip of the iceberg of recent outrage and protest about performance in the UK, but what I find alarming about these incidents is not that these people were shocked and angered by what they’d seen, but that they were there in the first place.

The event with the suspensions was called Modern Panic. It took place in a backstreet cellar and featured an artist called Mad Alan. The Leeds performance was by an obscure group of artists in a derelict space on the outskirts of the city. The Performance Space evening of queer body art was in a hard-to-find industrial unit in remote Hackney Wick. All of these programmes were under the radar, artist-run and aimed at specific “communities [...]