April Larue’s hands

I can’t get enough of April Larue’s hands.

These images are the result of a man’s documentation into the transformation of his alter ego drag queen named April Larue.

Her appearance is that of a suitably exaggerated female impersonator leaning towards that of a pantomime dame but the photos that I’m presenting you with today show nothing but her hands piled over with inaccessibly long fake nails while simultaneously being weighed down with colossal rings tastefully resting on her overtly printed dresses.

The mixture of all of these components really mixes up a kind of sensory over load car crash of textures and colours and the way in which she has cropped the photos so they just show a rectangle of unease has been driving me pretty wild.

On April Larue’s Flickr account she has so far shared over 4,000 images of herself, all of her posing at home in her perfectly normal domestic setting. Occasionally she will crop an image of her nylon covered mid heel and there is plenty of attention towards her family friendly drag exaggeration plastered all over her face in (quite literally) a rainbow of colours.

The varying lengths and shapes of her nails should frankly be made illegal and then placed onto of a man’s plump aged hands really takes it that one step further. The standard of textiles that she has adorned herself with – polyesters and nylons in the worst of the 80s and 90s has to be commended as a suitable wallpaper for her hands.

I’m not sure if I can still work out exactly what it is about these images that I’m so captivated by, there is obviously the essence of total devotion that has been poured into them. Each nail design carefully picked and patterned, [...]


Ruin Value

 

Chief Nazi architect Albert Speer, tasked with creating the built identity of The Third Reich, only wondered in part how his buildings would express Adolf Hitler’s contemporary empire.  The other question was how, like the ruins of Classical Antiquity, Nazi architecture could forever symbolically project grandeur and authority. He called this A Theory of Ruin Value, an idea which dealt with the aesthetics of Nazi architecture 1,000 years in the future.

This is so far in the future that the buildings would no longer be in use and would have decayed into a ruined state. Speer wanted to control the appearance of these ruins, to express the Third Reich’s legacy, after its demise, as a graceful decay. This Theory of Ruin Value unfolds a neurotically paranoid way of approaching life: valuing the post-functional aesthetics of a designed object as much as how that thing will work when in use, while opposing every rule of sustainability.

The Theory also appears to overcompensate for a lack of actual power. It is the frothy result of those who impatiently wished to design their empire, to guarantee their legacy. Speer and Hitler, convinced of the Third Reich’s future supremacy to such a degree, could see the beauty of their power in the ruins of their great work, before much of the work had been accomplished. This is a good lesson about healthily questioning political dominance of one person over many, to recognize the poisoning power of a desire for legacy over any promises about collective improvement.

 


Albert Speer denied knowing about the Final Solution and was sentenced only 20 years in prison. During this time he wrote a memoir, Inside The Third Reich. After his release from prison, information surfaced about his attendance at [...]


(self)accumulation and obliteration: exploring the limitations of the body

Our condition as individuals, separate and distinct from one another, seems to create within us a natural curiosity with our opposite – multiplicity. The desire to escape singularity and reach beyond the limitations and restrictions of an individual body has been felt by many. Such a dense and enormous issue leads to a huge variety in interpretation, however numerous artists have found an escape from singularity in the creative processes of self accumulation and self obliteration.

 

Artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Lucas Samaras address these themes of accumulation and obliteration; their work, often unsettling and yet unsettlingly comforting, revolves around the simultaneous denial and acknowledgement of their own singular bodies.

 

Kusama and Samaras are striking in that they both endeavor to illuminate their ideas through the use of a simple motif: the dot. Symbolically, the dot is the starting point from which all things arise. As with the big bang, the mandala, or the circle, the dot represents the centre point, marking the very origin of the infinite. It is pure potentiality, it combines all opposites, it contains every thing. Expressed within this tiny mark is the assurance that from the singular can be born an infinite accumulation of possibility and direction.

 

Both Kusama and Samaras use the dot motif as a way of obliterating and multiplying the singular self. Throughout their work we see the repetition of dots, clustered, teeming and flowing across the surfaces of their surroundings and their naked skin.

 

 

Kusama says of her relationship with the dot: “…a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement… [...]


Kathleen Hannah: Riot grrrl

Thought of the day: What the fuck am I doing with my life?

This week saw The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna come to London’s ICA, a film following the groundbreaking punk provocateur and co-founder of the underground feminist movement Riot grrrl through her journey with genre-defining almost-girl band Bikini Kill, solo project The Julie Ruin, electroclash act Le Tigre and documents the tragic truth behind her abrupt silence in 2005.

Opening their 1997 album Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, a two-side split album with English band Huggy Bear, with audio of a male voice rationalizing violence towards women “because most of the girls ask for it”, Hanna’s mission was always driven by anger and sought change, through her music, performance and perhaps most successfully through the production of now-iconic feminist-fueled zines. Borrowing from the DIY cut-and-paste format established by the early punk scene in the 1970s, these photocopied publications were made to communicate statements about socio-political issues immediately relevant to the band and the women that surrounded them, from show-etiquette, coining a ‘girls to the front’ behaviour of protection, to their anger at the ever-growing normalization rape-culture. Perhaps more than any other medium the zines allowed for exchange of ideas and information that drew together the  feminist movement that would eventually be defined in the Riot grrrl Manifesto. It says a lot that the band’s influence is still prevalent in contemporary conversation,  that the spirit of rebellion channeled by the likes of Hanna-esque ski mask-donning Russian activists Pussy Riot fighting against the injustices facing gay people under a morally corrupt conservative government or Malala Yousafzai risking her life for women’s right to education and it begs the question – what the fuck am I doing with my life? What are we [...]


Georgia Dickie

Sculptor Georgia Dickie’s interest in the ‘found object’ is a question of potentiality. After all there are things you can do with objects which are already fully formed and things you cannot — they come with their own boundaries, their own shapes, sizes, attributes, ways of sitting and standing. Yet the whimsy involved in how Dickie has fused these disparate objects often confuses their original utilitarian values.  Sang Bleu had the opportunity to ask Dickie a few questions about the limitations of physical material, labour, class, uselessness and carrying sculptures as handbags.

It seems as though artists who work digitally have endless possibilities in terms of how they create visual languages. Do you find working with physical material limiting?

Yes, physical materials have their limitations. I can’t actually see, for myself anyway, how working digitally would be less limiting. But limitations are extremely important to the way I produce work. I require them. In general, I don’t begin with my ideal outcome and then deal with the limitations that present themselves along the way. I begin with the limitations, allowing them to dictate how and what the work becomes. In this sense found or acquired objects are a good starting point. They are limiting in the sense that they can only offer what they are physically when you first acquire them, but what they are can always be further manipulated or re-contextualized to go beyond their formal qualities. Combinations of objects are what interest me, not the individual objects in themselves. I maintain an optimistic view that you can make something new happen between materials. At the end of the day the materials don’t really matter all that much, it’s about potential. For me, I just have to make choices quickly [...]

Feet Mood Board


Layering gender: Two Spirits, Conchita and Machines

 

Apparently the process of sex assignment at birth differs across the world, that is, not everyone looks at a vagina or penis in the same manner.  To have a variance in gender not through transformation, but a trip across continents seems like the best kind of superpower. Firmly known as a woman in all aspects of my life (payslips, equal opportunity forms) I’m woo’d by the possibility that some unspecified region may accept me as a man. I’m also woo’d by the possibility that right now, I am both man and woman, only to be categorised singularly depending on where I am, how  I feel and who the doctor is. Conchita Wurst, the Eurovision song contest winner, has floated across countries (and newspapers) having gender assigned and reassigned with every hair flick and beard trim but I wonder if the ‘either this or that’ debate reduces potential for alternatives with its very rigid criteria and language.

 

Recently, whilst reading ‘Men, Homosexuality and the Gods’ (the best text on gender i’ve read this year) I came across the term Two Spirit. These idols of indigenous North American culture were born intersex or had the appearance and an affinity to the opposite sex. Two Spirits weren’t assigned as such based on sexual orientation either but on an ambiguous combination of feminine and masculine characteristics. In short, they were both man and woman simultaneously, and serenely. Healer, spiritual leader and warrior were a few of the roles that accompanied their gender malleability (which was mostly thought of as a blessing) often placing them on a pedestal for appreciation and wonder.

Unfortunately, the phenomenon of Two Spirits has largely dissolved, due to governments, religions and settlers deeming it immoral and unnatural. And though the appreciation for them re-emerged [...]