Tag Archives: London

Fiona Banner: Stamp Out Photographie

Millie Walton speaks to British artist Fiona Banner about her Stamp Out Photographie exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, which shines a new light on lesser-known classics

How did you go about selecting the artwork you wanted to include?

I’ve actually had the title of the exhibition in mind for ages; it’s something I stole from the Archive of Modern Conflict, a photo-based archive in West London that I’ve been working with. The first time I went there, I saw this poster with the words ‘Stamp Out Photographie’ and I took a photo of it and put it up on my studio wall. I enjoy that polemic, it relates to my own work as an artist. I play around with film and the photographic image through language and the verbal, always moving around the image, but not using it directly. Although I work with text, I haven’t rejected the image – I’m exploring my ongoing dysfunctional relationship with the photographic and filmic image.

So, in choosing pieces to include in this display, I was exploring that relationship and thinking about different ways of seeing reality, and how we confuse reality with the filmic and photographic. I hadn’t seen any of the work in flesh until very recently, I selected all the works for this show from small, photographic Stamp Out Photographie printouts. That was how the engagement started, and the final staging of the works references that. It’s a show about the printed image – or the image as reference versus the actual image and the slippage between the two – in our understanding, and in our perception.

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Bridget Riley, Stretch, 1964 © Bridget Riley 2014 Courtesy Karsten Schubert, London Image courtesy V-A-C collection

How did you go about that?

For this exhibition, I’ve transformed the gallery into a theatrical space. I suppose every gallery space is a kind of theatre for art, but here that is exaggerated through the lighting. Instead of the works being evenly lit, the lighting constantly changes from cyan, magenta and yellow to black, so your perception of the works is constantly manipulated. The light in the room refers to the colour system associated with printing: CMYK. Also within that the works go from visible to hardly visible at all. It sets up a perceptual game.

On paper the works sound very disparate, coming from different times, movements and locations. How did you find a way of logically connecting them?

There’s a dialogue between the works themselves and the characters featured. For example, there’s this huge portrait of Picasso by Rudolf Stingel, which is in conversation with Andy Warhol’s portrait of Jackie Kennedy within the display. The characters kind of create this alternative dialogue, which isn’t at all curatorial in the formal sense. Like I said, it’s a performance space so perceptions are constantly changing and that’s concentrated by the ever-shifting lighting and by this great soundtrack by Russian artist, Olga Chernysheva. It’s very theatrical and filmic.

So the works are all connected?

Yes, in a way. In this environment they all speak of the theme, which is universal and eternal. The oldest image is the Monet, the daddy of impressionism, which seemed to be the very beginnings of fracturing images and binding them in new a new language – the language of perception. Then there’s the Gerhard Richter piece, which is much more recent, but again there’s this ongoing interplay or conversation about the image, about gender and about photography. All the displayed art asks similar questions. How do works or images exist in our perception and memory? How do our minds alter reality? How do our eyes alter reality? Those questions, and the relationship to photography, is so strong that it almost overpowers the actual work.

We’re very familiar with many of the images on display because they’ve been reproduced in the media, or they’ve entered into popular culture. The Richter piece, Kerze, was used as an album cover for Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth. How does that affect the way we view those particular artworks? There’s a struggle for an authentic moment, an original moment with viewing artworks, but really we do not know what that is.

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Fiona Banner. Photograph by Mischa Haller

What are some of your favourite pieces from the display?

Well, I’ve never really understood Christopher Williams’ work. I’ve always been drawn to it for that reason, so it’s good to spend time with it in person and not through a computer screen. The big portrait of Picasso is just so interesting because it’s such a large image of a famously small man. It’s also surrounded by the myth of the artist and the history of the photographic portrait.

It’s hard to choose my favourite because, as the space is constantly changing, the images are never in a clear light. Nowadays, photographs are like words or air – there’s no materiality or stability and I think that is reflected in how I’ve dealt with the environment. It’s like the whole exhibition is a moving picture.

Stamp Out Photographie runs at Whitechapel Gallery until March 2015

This article was originally written for and published in Port Magazine: http://bit.ly/1Co4Fk5

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Visual experimentations with sound

The music video to ‘We Need Nothing to Collide’ by London based producer and DJ Russ Chimes is completely mesmerising. Brightly coloured strips of light stream across a background of mundane landscapes in a way that is both hypnotic and strangely unsettling. In one scene the light snakes out of a dark open doorway, like an ominous yet seductive threshold to an alternative world. It’s fitting with the track, which possesses the infectious beat of house music and the increasingly unnerving build of repetitive sounds and lyrics. It sets you in a trance. Speaking of which, I think I’m going to watch it again.

Watch it for yourselves here:

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Theatre Review: The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre

I’m always slightly dubious of comedies. I think this is probably because they’re actually harder to master than tragedies. I mean it’s pretty obvious if the audience sit stony faced in silence that your joke has fallen flat.

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Mischief Theatre Company have chosen to tackle an even more difficult genre than straight up comedy: “deliberately dreadful drama” (FT). The art of this is to convince the audience that the collapsing walls, unconscious actresses and badly placed props are all the result of disastrous misfortune when in fact, of course they are the result of endless rehearsals and clever set design. This is meta-theatre at its most complex and effective.  And all in all, they got it pretty spot on. Posing as the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society performing a murder mystery play entitled ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’, the cast’s battle to stay true to the plot despite the onslaught of mishaps and casualties was very amusing. My laughter was somewhat contained compared to my surrounding spectators whose sides were dangerously close to literally splitting at the sides, but nevertheless it made me smile, chortle and occasionally snort. At times it verges on the absurd and predictable, but it’s pleasantly enjoyable and stress-free to know what’s coming next – the definition of easy watching.

Nigel Hook’s set design is fantastically unreliable, falling apart at the seams just at the right moment (how coincidental!) and the cast’s performances are all very strong or rather, appropriately weak in the case of the only actress who is knocked out and replaced by a “stage hand” reading the script out of a book. Dave Hearn stands out as the smiling idiot who gets carried away by the applause as does Henry Shields (one of the plays co-writers alongside Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer) as the apologetic, deadpan director come inspector.

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The joke does tire but thankfully by that time there’s an interval – a chance to step back into solemn, comfortable reality – and when the bell rings you’re ready to enter back into the hilarity of it all.

It’s well worth seeing and Friday’s probably the best night for it after a few post work drinks to loosen up the facial muscles.

For more reviews head to www.officialtheatre.com

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Alice Rainis: Ongoing Projects

London/Paris based photographer Alice Rainis has a way of finding beauty in the everyday – it’s an enviable talent and often makes her pieces very poignant. She’s got a number of long term projects which she adds to every now and then, such as the series of Polaroid Portraits, Music Artists Off Stage or Late Nights Early Mornings (well worth flicking through), but the most recent of these and the most interesting is XXI Century which features portraits of the creative or inspiring people who have crossed her path. She adds a new image every two weeks with a one line blurb beneath telling you who’s who and what’s what. 

 Check out her full portfolio on her website: http://www.alicerainis.com/. She’s a cool kid.

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Zulu Winter – Heavy Rain

I normally shy away from writing about my family’s triumphs mainly because it can come across as a kind of arrogance, boasting about my brilliant genes and all that but also because there’s that whole issue of bias. Obviously, it’s hard not to be biased as a proud and awe-filled younger sister, but I’m going to allow myself one gushing post about my brother’s band, Zulu Winter’s newest music video ‘Heavy Rain’ because, quite frankly, it’s too good to ignore.

Filmed by the brilliant and immensely talented director, David Higgs the video exploits the rosy light of sunrise to create scenes so beautiful and eerie that they’re really quite mesmerising. Throw in some peculiar dance moves, a bit of rolling around in the grass, hallucinogenic repetitions and a pony and it all gets rather surreal.

The track’s not bad either. Well done bro.

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Ernest Zacharevic’s Street Art

There’s not much background info about Ernest Zacharevic on the web so all I really know is that he’s a Lithuanian painter who travels the globe. Nothing out of the ordinary in that. But what makes him different from other street artists is that his work is quite often deliberately interactive to encourage passerbys to touch or even become part of the painting themselves. His recent series in Malaysia includes a congress of orang-utans (I looked that one up – it’s the official term) bundled into a 3-D wheelbarrow which you can pretend to be wheeling. Classic instagram pic. His interior drawings are also incredibly beautiful, less playful and colourful than the wall paintings but equally captivating. Let’s hope he brightens up London’s streets soon…

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For Zacharevic’s full-portfolio check out his website: http://www.zachas.com/ (source for all images unless otherwise stated)

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One to watch: Arthur Beatrice

Arthur Beatrice are an East-London based band fronted by Orlando Leopard (what a name) who’s deep resonating vocals are reminiscent of King Krule and the Wild Beasts (which in my books is no bad thing). Their fluid harmonies and curious interludes have quickly caught the attention of the media, pushing them perhaps prematurely into the limelight. Despite their studious looks and almost corporate image (their website resembles that of an upmarket designer: http://online-presence.info/), all four members are under the age of 23 and have found themselves a pretty sweet deal with their own label Open Assembly Rooms and a savvy management team.

Arthur BeatriceSource

Though the world of music is notoriously unstable the kids seem to have it all sussed out: middle-aged man meets hip hop revival. Elliot Barnes (drums) told the Guardian that  “We’re like the Smiths meets gangsta rap!” In reality, they couldn’t be further from gangsta rap, but there’s time for the self-delusion and pretension to fade. At any rate, ‘Grand Union’ is a hell of a track. The more you listen the better it gets.

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Live Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Apollo Theatre

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Simon Stephen’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel about a 15-year-old boy with “Behavioural Problems” (Haddon resented the words ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’ appearing on the book’s front cover when it was first released) is quite simply ingenious. Sidestepping any urges to “narrate” the book word for word, Stephens’ dramatic conceit convinces us that what we are watching is a school play based on Christopher’s own book. Whilst Bunny Christie’s clever stage-design continually discredits it’s own ostensible simplicity with toy trains puffing round the stage, an escalator appearing up a wall and a host of other nifty tricks.

Never once does the play fall flat on its face in front of the book. Rather it acts as a beautiful tribute, acknowledging the poignancy of Haddon’s tale whilst also accentuating the humour and making, the protagonist’s, Christopher Boone’s “Behavioural Problems” strikingly relatable: his need for control, his fear of the unknown, his bafflement at life. Who hasn’t felt the way Christopher does, standing in the middle of Victoria train station: overwhelmed by the noises, people and billboards? Sometimes you just want to curl up and cry (or in Christopher’s case moan). But we don’t we carry on. And so does Christopher.

5. Mike Noble (Christopher Boone) and Trevor Fox (Ed)_credit Brinkhoff_Mogenburg

It is Mike Noble’s astonishing performance as Christopher that carries the show. He’s uncomfortable to watch in the moments of distress, but also shows his character’s extreme courage and intelligence; at the age of 15 Christopher sits an A-Level mathematics exam on no sleep and barely any food and achieves a top grade. His perspectives on the world are alarmingly insightful, if a little bizarre, and his inability to lie both hilarious and touching.

The supporting cast also give impressive performances, especially Christopher’s parents who poignantly convey the hardships of having a child who can’t bear to be touched. However, it is Noble, or rather Christopher who leaves the theatre with you.

VERDICT: Whilst a film is never as good as the book, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ proves that theatre can be. Plus there’s a real puppy and a rat (on stage – I’m not implying the Apollo is rodent riddled).

Watch the trailer here:

Book your tickets here: http://www.apollotheatrelondon.co.uk/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time/

And here’s a nice little interview with Mike Noble from http://www.officialtheatre.com:

All images were kindly provided by the editor of www.officialtheatre.com

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King Krule Releases Snazzy New Video

With a voice more manly than Danny Dyer, ginger hair and lanky arms, there’s a lot to love about Archy Marshall (aka King Krule) and his new vid just adds to the charm. Not only is the track ‘Easy Easy’ simply splendid, paving the way for an equally excellent debut album, but the video is super cool too. Shot partially through a fish eye lens, partially through something grainy looking (I’m not one for camera technicalities), the video features London looking at it’s edgy best whilst Archy, dressed in a suit (of course), smokes a cig, hops over fences and hangs out with a rather suspect looking character on rooftops. Ladz.

Here’s Archy looking well ‘ard:

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Drinking tea with Hannah Adamaszek

‘I really like native Indians,’ Hannah Adamaszek smiles when I ask where her inspiration comes from. She sits opposite me, nestled into the sofa in her living room in West Sussex. It’s not obviously the home of an artist. For one thing there’s a lot less mess than I expected. In fact, it’s meticulously clean, but the paintings on the wall of Pocahontas like figures with colourful hair and strong eyes are somewhat of a give away.

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‘Yes I guess the girl in my paintings does look a bit like Pocahontas,’ Hannah agrees. ‘I normally source photos online and merge maybe two or three faces together to make one person. Somehow, they all end up looking fairly similar. I’d love to do a photo shoot with a model at some point though.’ It’s not hard to guess what Hannah’s favourite film was a child! ‘I’m also really into native fashion. I take bits of inspiration from Spell Designs (http://www.spelldesigns.com/) who make clothes and jewellery and also from the Native Americans themselves’.

Interestingly, however, it seems to only be Native American women that fascinate Hannah. ‘I prefer to use women in my paintings. I have done men in the past, but it’s more fun painting a woman and I’m a woman so I find I can connect with the figure more’.

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It’s also largely Hannah’s use of women that makes her work as, at least partially, a street artist so unique. To a predominantly male dominated world, her work brings femininity and beauty without passivity. Though the colours she uses are subdued (‘I like to listen to calm music when I paint’), her women are expressively bold and powerful.

‘My work has changed a lot since Uni.’ Hannah trained at Bournemouth Arts Institute where she mainly focused on photography.  ‘ Not that I was very good at it!’ She adds honestly. ‘ I was really interested in documentaries. I worked with the homeless for a bit and that kind of thing. Then when I finished uni I got an office job, which lasted about 6 months before I decided it wasn’t for me and went travelling instead.’

It took a while for her to actually start painting again and it wasn’t until she got back from ski seasons in Austria and Switzerland that she picked up a paintbrush – and a spray can. ‘I tried playing around with a few stencils to see what it was like and found that I really enjoyed using spray paint so I started to incorporate that into my work as well. It took quite a long time to get it how I wanted though!’

The result is – especially up close – very impressive; a unique blend of the precision and neatness of fine art with the gritty, spontaneity of street art – not unlike the work of current artist, Conor Harrington (who incidentally Hannah’s a big fan of). Harrington generally works on huge canvases or paints directly onto street walls.‘The only work I’ve done actually on the street is during live painting sessions where you’re given some boards to paint on’, says Hannah. ‘I’ve got one up in London at the moment, which has been placed on the side of a building. It’s such an amazing feeling to see your work out in public’.

Hannah’s also hugely admiring of abstract artist, Kristin Gaudio Endsley, who she sometimes collaborates with. ‘We normally meet up in Kristin’s studio in London and share ideas – she’s got a really great studio where we can work together.’ Hannah currently paints in her spare room, where disastrously she spills a pot of acrylic when showing me the sheet she uses to cover the floor – one of the hazards of being an artist. ‘I usually start by painting the figure and Kristin will pick the colours and paint around it. I really struggle with background and colour – so she really helped me out with that.’

Looking at Hannah’s paintings it’s hard to imagine she struggles with anything. They seem so effortless and relaxed. I wonder how long it takes to finish a painting on average? ‘It depends. The longest part of the process is deciding what to paint. I’m not the world’s best decision maker, but once I’ve started it can take 3 or 4 days maybe.’

With a show this month and her first solo show in September (‘which I can’t believe I’m doing!’), Hannah has lots of painting and planning to do, but she’s still looking forward to the future.‘I’d like to do some work abroad, do the stroke art fair in Munich and perhaps see what’s in the US as well.’

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She seems to be an artist whose not only comfortable working with lots of mediums, but also with working in different environments and with different people. It is perhaps her flexibility (alongside her talent – of course) that has opened so many doors. When I ask her which was the most exciting project she’s done, she can’t choose: ‘I really enjoyed doing the Brandalism project, working with about 25 other artists. We were each given a brief and had to create something for a sort of anti-advertising campaign. The guys running the project hijacked billboards across the UK and pasted up our anti-adverts across the top of them. It was nice to have a bit of focus and do something different to my usual work.’

The project certainly caused quite a stir with the press (described by Dr. D in 2012 as ‘taking the piss with a point’) and was covered by the Independent.

I ask Hannah how she feels about the rise of social media as an artist. ‘I’ve only really got into social media over the last 6months to year. It takes a long time to understand, but there’s huge potential to use it as an artist to find new customers, new events etc.’

As an advocate of the ‘shop local’ concept, Hannah’s especially a fan of blogs, which work closely with local artists and bring more attention to art in general. ‘Places like Ikea sell prints for the same amount as an artist might sell an original limited edition print and I don’t think people perhaps realize that they can get something from a local London artist (if they live in London) for a similar sort of price’. At the very least it prevents your sitting room from looking like an Ikea catalogue. Who says individuality is dead?

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This interview took place in Hannah’s home on 25th July 2013.

All photographs were taken by the wonderful Corin Brown: www.corinashleighbrown.co.uk

Hannah’s solo exhibition runs from 5th-21st September at the Curious Duke Gallery.

You can buy Hannah’s paintings via her website: http://hannahchloe.com/

Read more about the Brandalism movement here: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/brandalism-street-artists-hijack-billboards-for-subvertising-campaign-7953151.html

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