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Friday 9 December 2011

Two New Collections From Aesthetica | Artists and Writers

At Aesthetica we encourage creativity and innovation, fostering artists and writers through the Aesthetica Creative Works Competition. This year’s competition saw a fantastic response from across the world and the calibre of work presented to Aesthetica was superb.

We’ve compiled the finalists and winners from the competition into two excellent collections: the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual and the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual.

The Aesthetica Creative Works Annual is a stimulating anthology of new works that explore contemporary artistic practice, bringing together 75 artists who represent contemporary visual culture across a range of media.

Artists from across the world are presented in this collection, and through this international representation it’s possible to see works that are being produced today in different contexts; yet several of these works, although diverse in medium, explore related ideas. Many of the overriding themes are centred on identity, location, economy, 21st century alienation, politics and globalisation.

The works in this collection fuse the personal with the global and unite to communicate a wider message about the world in which we live.

Inside the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual you will find short fiction and poetry that will stimulate your imagination and inspire you long after reading.

Covering a broad range of themes, this anthology invites you to explore the different facets of contemporary life, resonating on many levels. This collection will ignite your passion for new writing, and you will return to it over and over again.

Pick up one (or both) of these beautiful Annuals online at www.aestheticamagazine.com/shop.htm

Image 1: Blue Street #2 by Natalia Davis
Image 2: Sea Point Pool by Michael Meyersfeld
Image 3: Drawing Room with Pheasant by Roger Hopgood
Image 4: Flow by Simon Shepherd
All images from the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual 2012

Christophe Von Hohenberg | The Day The Factory Died | Coldharbour London Gallery

This December Coldharbour London Gallery will be exhibiting The Day The Factory Died, a collection of never-before published photos by acclaimed fashion photographer Christophe Von Hohenberg, of Pop artist Andy Warhol's memorial service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1987. Curated by Aretha Campbell, the exhibition will bring together letters from the memorial, photographs, as well as works by Warhol himself. Published in conjunction with the exhibition, is a bible-like 176 page book featuring a calvacade of celebrities from the world's of Hollywood, Fashion, Pop Music, International Society and Art.

Von Hohenberg, came upon Warhol's funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, whilst on assignment for Vanity Fair. His probing lens snapping beautiful black and white photos, capturing the swirl of celebrity that forced itself, shoulder-to-shoulder into the event, it was as if Andy Warhol had planned his own funeral, a dizzying crush of fame and fakery.

The images, in this exhibition, convey warmth and sadness, despite the high-glitz factor of that day. Bianca Jagger, her hair pulled over one eye...The Stern defiant chin of Claus Von Bulow, looking down on the proceedings and the poor fools below him. A hurrying Robert Maplethorpe, angry mane blowing behind him. And the wild-eyed mania of punk and pop fashion designer Stephen Sprouse, perhaps the most Warholian of the subjects photographed.

The imaginatively-designed book, by Daniel Stark of Stark Design in New York City, features endpapers of the day-glo, Stephen Sprouse-designed, Warhol camouflage aprons that waiters wore at the luncheon following the memorial mass. It also features a foreword by well-known art writer Anthony Haden-Guest on Warhol’s expanding and still-controversial legacy. The book as well features an essay entitled Time Capsule by New York cultural historian and curator Charlie Scheips, who collaborated with von Hohenberg on the creation of the book. Scheips draws together the events of that day, and the character of those times, both as a search for a lost, bygone era but also as a guide to for those too young to remember that halcyon era that Warhol profoundly influenced. The book features over 45 letters from many of the notable figures present that day as testimony to the influence which Warhol had on their own lives and times—in many different ways. It concludes with rarely-seen photos of the actual burial ceremony in Warhol’s native Pittsburgh; and ends with a never-before published 1978 photo of Andy Warhol by Bill Kornreich.

The Day The Factory Died, Coldharbour London Gallery, 7/12/2011 - 22/1/2012. www.coldharbourlondon.com

Courtesy the artist

Thursday 8 December 2011

Photography Vs. Photography: Lara Jade & Joey L

Text by Bethany Rex

Each issue of Aesthetica features works by some of today's rising stars in photographic practice from around the world. This year's August/September issue featured the work of Lara Jade, a fashion, portraiture and commercial photographer who has worked with brands such as Sony and magazines such as Elle. Originally from the UK, Lara has relocated to New York City where she has collaborated with commercial photographer Joey L for LJ vs JL Photographer Shoot-Off, a photographic educational DVD which was released on 1 December. Lara took some time out of her busy schedule to speak to Aesthetica about the project and her current work.

A: First of all, could you tell us a bit more about your project LJ vs JL Photographer Shoot-Off?
LJ: Of course! This comprehensive photography tutorial DVD is a collaboration between me and photographer Joey L - we've been working closely for the past two years to develop an interesting way to share our knowledge and experience with amateur and professional photographers alike. The content has a comedic-aspect for viewing purposes (both 'rival' photographers competing to find who is the better photographer on a set number of 'challenges') but it is jam-packed with knowledgeable information: behind the scenes videos, interviews, technical information and Photoshop tutorials.

A: Are you both self-taught photographers? If so, when did you first start to develop an interest in being professional photographers?
LJ: Essentially our styles have been a process of self-learning and experimentation over many years. We both started photography (seriously) around the same time (around the age of fourteen/fifteen) and have honed our skills through trial and error and gaining knowledge by constantly working. My own personal journey began at the age of fourteen where I first picked up a camera and started experimenting with themes of self-portraiture and fine-art photography. For Joey, it's slightly more humorous: he started filming 'home movies' of dinosaurs (inspired by Jurassic Park) at the age of seven in his hometown of Lindsay, Ontario then slowly moved onto photographing bands and obviously those bands got more recognisable and in return so did his work!

A: The DVD represents two sides of the photography industry; commercial and fashion. From your experience, what are the essential differences here?
LJ: In my own opinion I think what makes the DVD content unique is that we're both young photographers working on different sides of the industry (I in the fashion and Joey in the advertising) but what is most recognisable is that we equally both work as hard developing and investing in our personal portfolios. Our styles are completely different but this is what makes the content interesting: the way we shoot and how we produce a shoot from start to finish is completely different and this is what we want to show other photographers - there's no two photographers the same, everyone is unique.

A: The DVD features a selection of ‘Challenges’. Was there an overall winner here, is something you were aiming for?
LJ: We have four shoot challenges on the DVD which are shot all over the world: Colour Portrait, Studio, On-Location and Shoot A Stranger. We had fun competing in the challenges and we were constantly curious to what the other photographer did, so there was a real element of rivalry involved! What we came to discover is that there is not an obvious victor - everybody shoots differently and the winner essentially comes to what you the viewer think. Ultimately we want to try and inspire each and every photographer with the content we share and hope that they interpret our ideas and knowledge into their own work.

A: Stepping outside of the DVD world, which photographers' work are you following closely at the moment?
LJ: Admittedly I don't try to look for inspiration in the obvious places - I'm always thinking outside of the box. I find the best inspiration in closed places - old books, movies, the fine-art themes in the masters of photography and in every day life. Some of the photographer's I currently find inspiration in are artists like Ellen Von Unwerth, Steven Meisel, Tim Walker & Richard Avedon. Being a fashion photographer there has to be some element of styling interest so I try to find that through individual characters; What are they expressing? What is their personality? What styles are in right now and how can I interpret that in my own work?

A: Finally, what’s the most exciting project you’ve both got coming up in 2012?
LJ: We are both expanding our personal photography portfolios (as well as any commercial work that comes our way) and I have a number of travelling opportunities next year for personal work and workshops. 2012 should be a great year for us both!


Image 1 & 2: Courtesy Lara Jade
Image 3 & 4: Courtesy Joey L

Wednesday 7 December 2011

In The Presence | Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011 | ICA | London

Text by Sophie Caldecott

The Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition has long presented art lovers with an annual snapshot of emerging talent from the next generation of artists in the UK. The first exhibition was held in 1949, and despite having evolved from featuring the work of young graduates to profiling more broadly the work of emerging artists at the beginning of their careers, it has remained close to its original concept: to present a cross section of the new talent on the artistic scene. The success of its endeavour is highlighted by previous exhibitions which have included such illustrious names as Eduardo Paolozzi (1958), David Hockney (1960), Patrick Caulfield (1961), Helen Chadwick (1977) , Anish Kapoor (1977), Antony Gormley (1978), Grayson Perry (1980), Mark Wallinger (1981), Peter Doig (1982), and Damien Hirst (1989).

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011: In the Presence at the ICA in London features mixed media work by 40 new artists, whose work was chosen by a panel of internationally established artists in an open, anonymous submission. For many, this is the first time their work has been exhibited in a professional art gallery. The common theme was a prevailing fascination with the corruption of mid-to-late 20th century suburbia that carried notes of Jonathan Franzen’s 2001 novel, The Corrections (reviewed in The Guardian here). Hyun Woo Lee’s looped video of a sprinkler rotating with the words “I hate my job” flashing repeatedly across the bottom of the screen as if typed by an invisible type-writer resonated bleakly with the graffiti announcing “Death is here!”, spray-painted onto the grey doors above the hood of a woman’s grey car in Noel Hensey’s photograph.

Jonathan Trayte’s gold-plated bronze slice of tree trunk, In the Presence of Nature, presented a refreshingly tender engagement with the title of the exhibition. Every wrinkle of bark and line in the wood was glorified in gold, as Trayte brought new life to the dead stump.

The Ghosts in the Back Garden by Anna Ilsley is a large Chagall-like oil painting of a dreamscape with an orange sky and distorted perspective. Together with Ian Marshall’s video of geometrically arranged explosions, these pieces form part of the more apocalyptic end of the emotional spectrum. Hyewon Kwon’s disused buildings, Sophie Neury’s abandoned gymnastic equipment and Joshua Bilton’s black-and-white photographs of some triangular boards in an empty field and sticks woven into a triangle shape in a wood contrasted with this frenetic energy; quiet meditations upon the loneliness of the material world devoid of human contact.

Savinder Bual’s Train and Samuel WilliamsWe are the Robots, both videos, raise interesting points about modern life. Train, a series of layered black and white photographs of a railway track and an approaching train getting closer and closer hint at the relentlessness of the passage of time. In his choice of a steam train, Bual draws attention to the progression of modern technology rendering what came before it redundant. We are the Robots highlights the modern disjunction between human skills and machinery. In a six-minute looped video, a pair of roughly constructed “mechanic arms” (two pieces of wood with hammers or paintbrushes and other tools attached to the end) try to perform pointless tasks like smashing a can and hammering nails into potatoes. Williams makes modern society’s reliance on mechanical world look faintly ridiculous, as well as pointing out that all machinery is human-made in the first place.

The exhibition started near the entrance to the ICA, continued past the café and up several flights of stairs. Walking through to the second half of the exhibition made the question – provoked by several of the artists – ‘what is art?’ yet more pertinent. With such a variety of media, tone and subject matter, this year’s Bloomberg New Contemporaries demands engagement and challenges the viewer to unpack the meaning behind each piece of art.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011: In the Presence, 23/11/11 – 15/1/12, ICA, London. www.ica.org.uk

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoy reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary art and culture you should read us in print too. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Installation at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Photo: Steve White

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Don't Miss This | Sarah Baker | Le Fan Fan | CARTER Presents | London

Text by Bethany Rex

In her explorations of representation and social status, Sarah Baker often disseminates her artwork unconventionally to heigten the tension between fabrication and authenticity. Over the past decade Baker has assembled obscure subjects, characters and personalities that form an unlikely amalgamation which she has showcased, interviewed, appropriated, and obsessed over. Her subjects are often lionized and made to look as if they stepped out of a glossy fashion magazine, resulting in unstable positioning within a fantasy landscape of the extraordinary.Baker's latest project Le Fan Fan at CARTER presents focuses on her obsession with a Chinese legendary ladies-fan who fights enemies with a folding hand fan. Inspired by a 1980s Chinese Soap Opera, Baker has assembled a cast and crew to reinterpret Wuxia legend, Chu Liuxiang. As in her previous endeavours, Baker makes it a point to actively involved collaborated into the making of Le Fan Fan. We spoke with Sarah about the exhibition and her plans for the future.

A: First of all, could you tell us about your project, Le Fan Fan?
SB: It's a video inspired by a popular 1980s Chinese soap opera, Chu Liuxiang, about a beautiful man who fights evil with a fan, among other weapons including his good looks. The video is projected onto a big fan-shaped screen in a gallery that is double sided sculpture and also features a hand-made origami fan by fan maker Sylvain Le Guen who I met at The Fan Museum in Greenwich. The compositions in the video are inspired by Sylvain's fans, but also by fans that I have seen on private research visits to The Fan Museum, where curator Jacob Moss showed me 17th and 18th Century oriental fans that were at one time were high art and status fashion items that are not even rivalled by the IT Bag of today, as they were all hand painted and often featured portraits of the fan patrons. Some other scenes in my video are reenactments of Chu Liuxiang, where I actually copied the soap opera shot by shot. On the surface the piece is about lust, jealousy and revenge but has more complex preoccupations with memory, language, choreography, status, sculpture, and exoticism. I am also thinking a lot about Hollywood casting habits and how those choices effect the cultural psyche; I mostly just wanted to feature a gorgeous Chinese man on a big fan, as a sex-symbol on a status symbol of the ultimate commodity.

A: Your installation represents the character of Chinese martial arts expert Chu Liuxiang. Could you tell us a bit more about his character?
SB: Chu Liuxiang is a character developed by Gu Long, who wrote many novels as a part of Wuxia series; period adventure mysteries where there is an awful lot of fighting and killing; these novels are the foundation of many martial arts period dramas adapted for TV and film. I have never read these novels, as they are not officially translated into English, but I have found some real gems online where amateur die-hard fans have translated entire novels, and I used some of this in my script. Chu, aside from being gorgeous, is kind and good to a fault, lives on a boat, and is usually surrounded by beautiful women who are desperately in love with him and also fight along side him.

I first discovered Chu Liuxiang when I was in Taiwan and I took some Tai Chi Fan classes with my mother-in-law. I fell in love with Tai Chi Fan, the look and sound of the big red fans all snapping open and closed in a synchronized dance routine, and set to music. The routine that we learned was set to the theme song of Chu Liuxiang, and that is why I became interested in the soap opera. I am fascinated with the idea of Chu's character but I'm also really interested in how popular the TV show was in Taiwan and China in the 80s; it was as famous as Dynasty in America in the 1980s, and was similarly obsessed over, particularly by the women who were all in love with Chu Liuxiang, the ultimate stud.

A: This project has seen you collaborate with various people in the making of Le Fan Fan. Where do you find these people?
SB: Everywhere. Some collaborators are friends, some are referred, some are met at parties, on the street, and some are discovered through research. Collaborations are an important foundation in my practice and I choose my media so that I can collaborate. It's important for me to delegate aspects of the work to those who are of specialized expertise, and that's why my work generally has a polished look to it. For instance if I'm doing a magazine spread, I treat the process the way I think an actual professional magazine fashion shoot would be treated; I fantasize about how its done and use that fantasy to drive my process within my means. I try to make the work look as close as possible to the thing I am talking about weather it be criticizing or celebrating; it's that fine line that I am carefully balanced on, often delivering a somewhat unstable outcome.

A: What experience are you trying to create for the viewer here?
SB: Mostly I wanted to create an immersive viewing experience where details, down to the red gel in the spot light on Sylvain's fan, are not only visually pleasing but also have symbolic meaning. To me, the red spot light evokes the moodiness of film noir, and I wanted to question Western film tropes in relation to Oriental martial arts films. But I don't want to give anything away too easily, and the soundtrack is a good example of my attempt to keep my audience considering the work beyond the gallery experience. I found a very authoritative yet gentile English voice-over actor to tell the story throughout the piece, like a narrator somewhat reminiscent of an David Attenborough programme. The dialogue is a mix of the Chu Liuxiang translation, Kabuki dance translations from Youtube, The Cure song lyrics, and bespoke lines written by Shumon Basar. The music is Depeche Mode, Einstürzende Neubauten, and royalty-free heavy metal. I want the work to have a different meaning depending on each viewers personal perspectives, and to bring up questions of authenticity, authority, and challenging expectations like, what we are used to looking at, and hoping to offer some element of delightful surprise. But, one can only hope!

A: Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
SB: I'm on my way to Buffalo, where I grew up, to do a residency at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center. Hallwalls is a really interesting organisation that has existed since 1974 on Buffalo's west side, where i'm from, and was founded by Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo, among others. Hallwalls are supporting my production of a new work which is a mini soap opera series about characters and dramas that have had some impact on Buffalo and the surrounding area including Niagara Falls. I will be collaborating with local actors and musicians, including students from Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, where I graduated. The work will be exhibited in the gallery at Hallwalls, but will also be broadcast on the local TV station.

But before I shuffle off to Buffalo, I have been commissioned by the Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel to do a series of works, mostly signage and ephemeral pieces that the hotel guests are sort of forced to handle. I am currently in the midst of my first piece, which is the Do Not Disturb sign. For the card, I am modeling as a maid, indicating Please Clean Room. Inspired by stripper pens but made from cardboard, I have designed it to be have a reveal/conceal mechanical black card that moves. When you flip the card over, the maid's dress disappears (to reveal me in my knickers) indicating Do Not Disturb. A real collectors item, or at least I hope they will get nicked by the hotel guests.

Sarah Baker Le Fan Fan, 08/10/2011 - 10/12/2011, CARTER Presents, 59 Old Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 6QA. www.carterpresents.org

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoy reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary art and culture you should read us in print too. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Video Still. Courtesy the artist.

Monday 5 December 2011

Who should win the Turner Prize 2011?

The Turner Prize will be awarded at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art later this evening, during a live broadcast on Channel 4 between 8:00 - 8:30pm, to an artist under fifty, born, living or working in Britain, for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation in the twelve months before 4 April 2011.

An exhibition of work by the shortlisted artists is currently on show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead until 8 January 2012. The following images are a selection from the exhibition and, away from the noise of the fervent criticism and the energetic debate and countless column inches, they are something to behold.

Karla Black

Karla Black has been nominated for her solo show at Galerie Capitain Petzel, Berlin, and for contributions to various group exhibitions, which together consolidated her innovative approach to sculpture and displayed her increasingly powerful works made with ephemeral materials.

Earlier this year, Regina Papachlimitzou reviewed Structure & Material, Black's joint-show with Claire Barclay at Spike Island, Bristol. Follow this link to read the piece.

Martin Boyce

Martin Boyce has been nominated for his solo exhibition at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, which built upon his project for the 53rd Venice Biennale by holding the viewer within an atmospheric sculptural installation. Boyce's work combines references to design history and text and is marked by a subtle attention to detail.

Boyce's work is featured in the current issue of Aesthetica as part of a survey of this year's Turner Prize. To buy a copy click here.

Hilary Lloyd

Hilary Lloyd has been nominated for a solo show at Raven Row, London. The exhibition marked a step-change for the artist in terms of the ambition and scale of her project, which investigates the interrelation of moving image, sound and sculptural form in the portrayal of the urban environment.

Lloyd's work is featured in the current issue of Aesthetica as part of a survey of this year's Turner Prize. To buy a copy click here.

George Shaw

George Shaw has been nominated for his solo exhibition at BALTIC, Gateshead. Shaw's paintings depict the area around his childhood home and are rendered exclusively in Humbrol enamel paint. With their deeply personal juxtaposition of subject matter and material, they lie intriguingly on the edge of tradition.

Earlier this year, Paul Hardman reviewed The Sly and Unseen Day when it travelled to the South London Gallery. Follow this link to read the piece.

Turner Prize 2011 Exhibition continues until 8 January 2012 at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.


Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoy reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Images (Top to Bottom):
All Photos Colin Davison
All Images © BALTIC & the artist
Karla Black Turner Prize 2011 Installation View
Martin Boyce Do Words Have Voices (2011)
Martin Boyce Turner Prize 2011 Installation View
Hilary Lloyd Floor (2011)
Hilary Lloyd Moon (2011)
George Shaw The Devil Made Me Do It (2011)
George Shaw The New Houses (2011)

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