An Interview with Tattooer Max Kuhn

Traveling around the country, booking appointments on his cell phone, and tattooing “semi-legally” from hotel rooms, errant tattooer Max Kuhn‘s way of tattooing seems to attract almost as many followers as the tattoos themselves. Yet, one would be remiss to write off such travels as gimmicky; anyone who looks closely at his tattoos–bold, romantic, nostalgic interpretations of classic Americana–can feel how their imagery and facture seem inextricably bound to his life as a tattoo outsider; with thick lines and bold shading, they’re a little bit crude, but dynamically angular, clever and strong. We recently caught up with Max to talk about his work, travels, and why he eschews the tattoo “community.”

How did you first start tattooing?

When I was a young teenager and really wanted to start getting tattoos, I didn’t have any money. The (pretty naive) way I saw it was: I could try to come up with $100 and then either buy myself a tattoo or buy a tattoo kit and give myself unlimited tattoos. I had some older skateboarding friends who had tattoo equipment floating around and took turns doing stick figures and devil heads and stuff on each other. I didn’t know anything about tattoos and didn’t really get to see tattoos very often so the stuff they had, to me, looked pretty good. It seemed possible, anyway. I got some equipment and I gave myself some terrible tattoos. I also tattooed a few friends that bullied me into it but I really didn’t have any ambition to do tattooing. I just wanted to have tattoos. Doing it myself was just the easiest way to get them. I was 16 and had no idea what I was doing, literally no idea. I’d [...]


‘Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic.’ —Carlo Mollino at the Gagosian New York

 

Carlo Mollino (1905-1973) is perhaps best known as the Italian architect who famously merged a variety of styles throughout the mid twentieth century to create what has become known as the  “Turinese baroque” by mixing elements of Surrealism, Art Nouveau, Futurism, ancient mythology, and a passion for the female form into his architectural practice. His career was expansive in its diversity, including not only the practice of architecture but also that of furniture design, automobiles, aircrafts and writings on topics ranging from photography to skiing.

However what is perhaps most interesting about Mollino besides from his ability to master so many different forms of cultural practice was the discovery of a vast collection of over 1,000 polaroids found after his death of women in erotic stages of undress in gorgeously lit and nostalgic spaces taken in secret.

He obsessively produced hundreds of his images of women from the 1930s onwards, fascinated by new photographic techniques, Mollino switched to a Polaroid camera in 1963, when his images became more sexually explicit. He conceived each one as an erotic fantasy and dictated every detail: directing the models (most of whom he had hired for the purpose and only photographed once) as well as designing the clothes, sets, wigs, accessories, props and garçonnières, creating the most perfect encapsulation of his fantasies.  Finally, having printed the Polaroids, Mollino would painstakingly amend them with an extremely fine brush, to attain his idealized vision of the female form.

The New Yorker declared, “This lavish selection of several hundred Polaroids preserves the essential mystery of a project both decadent and hermetic. Though clearly the product of a deep obsession, the photographs are deliberately impersonal, each baroque detail an invitation for the viewer to imagine Mollino’s encounters with the women.”

The women that [...]


AKA Adorned pop up shop at Sang Bleu opening tonight



 

Since building the infamous multidisciplinary art space AKA Berlin and passing on AKA London in 2011, creative director and performance artist Jon John has ventured and focused on his other major passion, jewellery and body adornment. Inspired by his travels and carrying on the legacy of tribal adornment from African, Asian and South American ancestral jewellery culture, but with an added modern twist.

The new project from Jon John, AKA Adorned will be popping up in Berlin, Paris and more specifically London.

We are very excited to have Jon John share his new collection with us at the Sang Bleu London Contemporary Art and Project Space.

AKA ADORNED POP UP SHOP | SANG BLEU LONDON
Friday 5th December, 12pm – 8pm
Saturday 6th December, 12pm – 8pm

We will be holding a private view drinks reception this evening, Thursday 4th December 6pm – 9pm

 

SANG BLEU LONDON

29b Dalson Lane, London, E8 3DF


An Interview with Spider Sinclair

 

I met Spider Sinclaire while he was guesting at the Sang Bleu London studio a few months ago.
What I had seen of his work before he came was a mixture of surprising but familiar references to 80s and 90s tattooing which clashed with the aesthetic of traditional tattooing which we have been used to seeing over the past few years. The owner of Two Hands Tattoo and Flash City from Auckland, New Zealand prefers fine line and spiky 90’s tribal to the bold fat outlines he was previously doing for a bit more than a decade. Curious to find out more about this interest for an era of tattooing mostly hidden away, we had a chat in between tattoos.

He should be visiting Europe again in 2015.

Interview by Antoine Laine

 

Could we start by talking about how you got into tattooing?

I did my first tattoo in 2001 but I didn’t actually start working in a shop until about 2003 and then I did an informal apprenticeship.

You told me you were doing more traditional work at first?

Yes, that’s all I ever really wanted to do. The main inspiration for becoming a tattooer was the book “New York City Tattoo”. A friend of mine bought me it because I was already collecting tattoos and seeing designs. From there I came across Sailor Jerry and I got photocopies of the first Sailor Jerry book. All I ever did was traditional, it was my favourite style.

Where did you get the photocopies from?

A friend who was a tattooist was working over here in London and he came back to Auckland briefly, I met up with him and told him I wanted a sailing ship tattoo. He didn’t really do that kind of stuff. He was more into [...]


Chadd Curry chooses his ten most profound suicides

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I became. People think of my make up as a mask but its the opposite, I think we have the opportunity to make ourselves up each and every day. We can create our identity and its a privilege that we live in a world where we can do that.”

If you live in London you may have seen Chadd walking the streets of Hackney after midnight draped in black and white from head to toe, face painted religiously, with excessive monochrome drapery trailing off his body.

Chadd Curry changed his name to Dahc Dermur once arriving in London in 2011 from New York where he had lived for eleven years. In New York, Chadd opened the first Rick Owens stateside boutique,  was a stylist and eventually had his own collection and collaboration with artist Maria Intscher (who is now head designer at Calvin Klein) called The Ghost has No Home.

On leaving New York Chadd gave away all of his belongings, cut up his credit cards and had all but ten euro. Aged 45 and starting afresh in London he says that he knew he was home, he felt ‘an overwhelming sense of belonging. When you remove yourself from any attachment the universiverse always steps in , it was a way to restart life again’. London was Chadd’s rebirth – and there is really no one else like him not only in London, but the entire world.

Now a fixture on London’s club scene Chadd regularly DJ’s and can be seen in the likes of KAOS and at his own bimonthly event N.U.N at Sketch. Chadd’s dedication to his subversive lifestyle filters into every aspect of his existence, and at Sang Bleu we are [...]


“If I die of AIDS – forget burial – just drop my body on the steps of the F.D.A.” David Wojnarowicz

 

Thanks to New York University’s Fales Library the journals of multimedia artist and social activist David Wojnarowicz have been digitalized and made available to view in full online. Containing personal tales of the unsung hero’s travels across Europe and America and correspondence with those he became associated with alongside the developmental processes of his art and film work, the catalogued pages are dated from 1971 to 1991 shortly before the artist’s own death from an AIDs related illness in 1992.

The artist was known to be the lover of photographer Peter Hujar (most noted for his photography of American actress Candy Darling on her deathbed) before his death from AIDS complications in 1987, after which the Wojnarowicz’s work became heavily concerned with and driven by the social and legal injustices inherent in the response to the AIDS epidemic, summed up so succinctly a jacket worn by the artist at a demonstration emblazoned with the words “If I die of AIDS – forget burial – just drop my body on the steps of the F.D.A.” [the American Food and Drug Administration at the centre of controversy surrounding the mismanagement of responses to the AIDS epidemic].

Sadly the battle against the injustices highlighted in his work continued long after his death, even recently in 2010 the Smithsonian removed and edited footage from Wojnarowicz’s short fiilm A Fire in My Belly following complaints from members of religious groups, his journals act as a lasting reminder of the need to demand the basic rights that are so sadly still denied in the shadows of the often not so far flung corners of the world.

See the papers in full here.


Sexuality – Ron Athey and Amelia Jones in conversation at the Whitechapel Gallery

On the 8th of January, Art historian Amelia Jones will be joined by artist and Sang Bleu friend Ron Athey to discuss the relevance of sexuality in contemporary art, from expression to repression, exploring how the term has shifted in tandem with artistic and theoretical debates.

These photographs were taken by Devin Blair of Ron Athey for the 6th issue of Sang Bleu and we have shared a selection of them with you today in light of this sure to be fascinating and insightful conversation taking place in the new year.

Ron Athey is a London-based performance artist from Los Angeles. He has been performed body and sound-based works since 1981, starting with PE, a collaboration with Rozz Williams. Through the ’90s in the heat of the AIDS pandemic, “Ron Athey and Company” toured the so-called ‘torture’ trilogy, performing at PS122, New York; ICA, London; Festival Atlantico, Lisbon; x’teresa, Mexico d.f.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; CCA, Glasgow; Cankjarev Dom, Ljulbjana; among others. Starting in 1999, Athey explored solo work, notably with Solar Anuswhich was shown at such venues as Hayward Gallery, London; Luciano Inga-Pen Gallery, Milan; NGBK, Berlin; and the Self-Obliteration cycle at Hebbel und Ufer, Berlin and participant inc., New York. Athey has also worked and collaborated with Juliana Snapper (The Judas Cradle), Lawrence Steger (Incorruptible Flesh), and Julie Tolentino (90s company work and Tolentino’s archival project The Sky Remains The Same). A monograph edited by Dominic Johnson, entitled Pleading in the Blood, was published by Intellect press last year.

Amelia Jones is the Robert A. Day Chair in Fine Arts at the Roski School of Art and Design at University of Southern California and Vice-Dean of Critical Studies; she was previously (2010-14) Grierson Chair in Visual Culture in the Art History and Communication Studies Department at McGill University. Her recent [...]