Acrylic sheets, neon tubes, cement, steel plates, glass, rubber, cloth, paper, cotton, sponges, light bulbs, electrical outlets, wire, stone, earth, water, fire, wood, charcoal, and oil – industrial materials, household products, and natural materials were placed together in neutral arrangements. They were brought into temporary involvements or confrontations with a variety of spaces and phenomena, including the ground surface, mid-air, room interiors, walls, floors, corners, columns, windows, light, and dark. Mono-ha did not use physical objects and space as materials to realize certain ideas; their approach was a way of giving new life to these elements in interdependent relationships.
Last Friday night I met Uma Wang, one of the most promising contemporary Chinese fashion designers, whose work I’ve been following for over a year. Currently in New York for forty days, courtesy of the CFDA, Wang is learning the ropes of the American way of doing business at companies like Theory and Google. We caught up over coffee and cola at Café Gitane inside the Jane Hotel in the West Village. It was her last day at the Theory’s headquarters in the meatpacking district, and Wang was glad to unwind after a week of sitting in on meetings and watching Theory’s design team in action.
Opened late last year, Eastern Market Fabrica is the second location for the Melbourne based renowned retailer. The original location, named Capela after the old chapel it occupies, is one of the most impressive retail spaces we’ve come across, and the new shop doesn’t fall short. The old, tall industrial space has been left minimal and raw on the inside, making the carefully picked furniture and art pieces stand out, not to forget the beautiful clothing. Continue reading for more pictures of the space.
For her current show in the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, titled “Now and Then,” the photographer Sarah Moon had the following quotation from T.S Eliot stenciled on a column
— What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present
While Moon may be associated in the popular mind with fashion photography, that understanding does not necessarily serve her work well because, frankly, most of us have not developed as sophisticated an understanding of “fashion” as she has. Where fashion brings to mind frenetic change, disposability, consumption and surface concerns, Moon equates fashion to fiction. And what fiction prizes, if anything, are interiority and empathy.
Yoko Ito, the designer behind the Japanese brand Individual Sentiments who cut her teeth at the now defunct Carpe Diem, has launched a capsule footwear collection called IS. Made in Italy, the line will be available in select stores this fall. All we got from the reticent designer was the rather cryptic, “IS has the same concept as Individual Sentiments and follows the need of a geographical specialization and technique.” Guess we’ll let the products speak for themselves.
The Aperture Foundation’s description of their newly opened exhibition, “Delpire & Co”, is that it “showcases [Robert] Delpire’s rise to prominence in the world of photography through his pioneering and seminal work in magazine and book publishing, films, curatorship, and advertising for the past fifty years.”
This it certainly does — in a herculean installation that will span four venues and two supporting gallery shows. But, beyond the stated goal, it may ultimately showcase photography’s rise to prominence in the world. When the elevator takes you back down from the show to the sidewalk below, it is worth reflecting that what you have just seen represents a world of images that not only predates the Internet and the hellish proliferation of images that marks our time but an epoch in which it was possible to ask with a straight face whether photography matters.
A question relevant to contemporary concerns quietly resonates in the elegantly understated show of 30 or so vintage prints shot by Constantin Brancusi in the 1920’s and 30s, currently showing at Bruce Silverstein gallery in New York, and it is namely one of intent. What are we to make of photographs taken by an artist known as a sculptor? What purpose were these photographs intended to serve? To whom were they addressed? What has the passage of time wrought on them and on our interpretive efforts?
The gut reaction is to see the photographs as simply documentation. However, even a cursory stroll through demonstrates that there is more going on than just Brancusi photographing sculptures for his consumption alone.
Upon parting ways with the 120 or so vintage photographs, artist books and short videos installed in the Guggenheim’s Francesca Woodman retrospective, I found myself feeling, oddly, a little more solid in my own skin. Because these photographs emphatically exclude any sense of exterior setting, color, narrative, time, the weather even, and, in withholding anything that could be considered photographic information, they draw one in – literally, these prints are intimately sized about 5 inches square, so you’ve got to get your face into them – to focus one’s gaze on a particular young woman who, in print after print, conjures forth herself amidst natural light, scuffed wood, crackling paint and peeling wallpaper. And she does it masterfully, each time getting to exist, just more so, in a way that only the physical, photographic print seems to have managed do for her, until she killed herself at the age of 22 in 1981 in New York City.
Yesterday evening we visited the opening of The Smallest Traveling Store in The World, a mini-guerilla shop by the Belgian design duo A.F.Vandevorst. The store-within-a-store took up residence at Patron of the New, a multi-brand boutique in Tribeca, New York. This is its first stop in the U.S. after being featured at places like The Dover Street Market and Selfridges in London.
Filip Arickx, who designs for the label with his wife An Vandevorst, was at the store and took a minute to walk me through the concept. “The store grew out of our initial guerrilla shop called AKTION, which we launched in Antwerp in 2009, and then moved around Belgium. We used Facebook and Twitter to tell our fans about the locations,” he said. Initially the couple did not think that much would come out of the project, but they quickly began getting inquiries about recreating the guerrilla store outside of Belgium. However, the logistics proved cumbersome and instead A.F.Vandevorst came up with the idea of creating a space that reflects their design ethos but is also easy to transport and install.
Last week Geoffrey B. Small, an American designer who lives and works in Italy, presented his new collection in Paris. Small works outside of the confines of the fashion system and he is a civic activist, so when he puts on a show it’s usually because he is engaged with a political issue that is too important to keep inside. In other words, his shows are cri de coeur.
You might doubt the sincerity of political motives of a fashion designer, but consider that a fashion show is a means of expression. As Ann Demeulemeester once told me, designers and artists are not politicians or lawyers – but their work can also address the world.