a few weeks' back, the lovely ladies at handmadelife did me a favour and recommended two fashion shows, currently on at the NGV: draped and together alone. i managed to pop along to draped and boy was it ace!
i am pretty damned daggy, when it comes to my sartorial credentials. this has been confirmed by my flatmate, orri henrisson. and he should know.
however, i have developed a love of fashion processes and codes, through my friendship with the curator and orri. in the last few years, a lot of my work has embraced a lot of the gestures of fashion (measurement, wearable architecture, decollete adornment, etc) and i've developed a heavy-breathing-type fashionation with roland barthes and his fashion system.
so it was with an eager step that i popped along to see draped - a show which touched on the trends of drapery in fashion over the years, separated into two main types - clinging and elevated. one which is all dignified and ancient, the other about gettin' it up in there.. (my words, not theirs).
honestly, i would LOVED to have seen this as a seriously extensive thematic survey at somewhere like the V&A. but, for the smallish show in the textiles gallery at the NGV, it was still pretty rad.
there were stunning works by versace, lanvin, D&G, paco rabanne, along with some small ancient draped figure sculptures, to put the concept into an historical framework. however, i gotta say, my love attack was for three works that are by my favourite designers and fashion rebels:
the galliano for dior boned inside-out dress - one of my favourite and one which i spent a lot of time drawing and studying; rei kawakubo's black 'tornado dress' for commes des garçon and of course, my main man, hussein chalayan. his show was so amazing at the london design museum - changed my life and seeing just a small piece of his here reminded me of his relentless and prolific practice.
one interesting thing i noticed was how different the shape of mannequins have changed through the ages, reflecting the desired body type. note the difference between 1990s Versace decollete, and the 1890s Victorian shape. And i guess, as an institution, somewhere like the NGV has to keep and keep up with the mannequins of the time period - can't fit a Versace dress onto a Victorian model, it'd be all wrong.
so if you need your fix after seeing this week's couture run from paris, head to NGV. it will be just enough to satisfy until the loreal melbourne fashion festival kicks off in march.
über design studio, pentagram has created a beautiful typographic flash meme - what type are you?* based on answering typological questions, you can see just what type of person you really are.
no surprises to find out that i am van doesburg - a face designed by a dutch architect - "brutally fair, with a firmness of purpose and each letter occupying the same space as the next".
*i had to try a few different combinations of my name, because they had already been taken. so if you're common like me, keep that in mind :)
thanks to courier new, or soren at büro north
so miss jones and i went to the beach this morning. kick started the public holiday with a good dose of sun, sand, deep-soon water and deep'n'meaningful conversation to dive into.
on the way back, enjoying the wind in our hair, in her super-cute car, we both fell into a silent reverie - reflecting on the joy of the day, the intimacies of friendship and the uncertainties of the future.
me: hey gem, what you thinkin' bout..
jonesy: major lazer.
it does not get any fucking cooler than that, kids.
summer is being good to me.
i'm spending more time eating yummy, fresh food.
reading a fair bit.
here's what's on the pile of books read from the last couple of weeks.
[click to see flickr notes]
and here's some recent additions to the library (apologies for the shakey-shakey)
[click to see flickr notes]
and time to get out for a bit.
we went for a bit of a road trip yesterday - well, just to queenscliff. i'd never been and it was an opportunity to catch a show of australian aboriginal artists at salt and say heya to the rasta-gal curator from your dreamss, sublime-ation.
there were beautiful views, a thomas the tank party for the kids, with baby animals.
and a chance to drive for a while and relaxo with the ladeez and the irish house mate.
monday night was the final gig at the tote. if you're not from melbourne, here's the back story and apologies for the local jargon.
i was one of the lucky peeps to get a ticket to the last hurrah and it was amazing. so much nostalgia, joy, sadness, anger, love - all in one little venue. that place, the bands it supported and the melbourne music scene shaped who i am.
and here's what the place taught me that my parents couldn't have:
what goes around, comes around.
take this for an example. wally meanie (née kempton) booked spiderbait's first gig. at the tote. they made a massive impact on the australian music scene. he played bass for them on their last song. at the tote. [cue angels voices!]
on a smaller scale i lost my glasses in the mosh during the last song. at the end of the set, i had 5 people helping me look for them, by mobile phone screen light. i found them, unscratched, unbroken, on the carpet stairs. that's love that is.
and then, as we left before the drones started, the security guard let us give one of our passes to a guy outside who couldn't make it in. he probably did someone a good turn earlier that day.
chaos is vital
a venue like the tote is messy. it's filled with loud music, shit spilled on the floor, band posters in various states of degradation, graffiti on the toilets, tattered clothes, messy hair, shouty voices, smashed glass, missed beats, foggy windows, quasi-violent dancing and people jostling and wrestling for a spot to see.
it's not very 2.3-kids-with-a-white-picket-fence-and-an-SUV.
but thank fuck for that. chaos (even in a controlled environment like the tote) is a catalyst for change in all kinds of ways. and, as any scientist will tell you, all systems have an inbuilt element of chaos. it's called entropy. and it's needed for change. without change, things grow stagnant, you can't generate movement, or friction, or any of the other things necessary for innovation, progress or inspiration.
investing in culture starts from the ground up.
30,000 bands have played at the tote over the last 30 years. that is a helluva lot of rock and roll. no doubt a stack of them were local artists who have gone on to make successful careers. the other chunk were surely a whole bunch of international artists playing their first or second shows in melbourne.
as an aside i remember seeing the white stripes play there before they were massive. they played 7 shows in a week in melbourne (i saw 3 of them) - starting at the empress and culminating at the tote. the difference in the crowd numbers even between the trans-am show and the tote on the following friday was 5000%. pretty much after that, they went gangbusters. and have only played massive venues here since. and who brought them out here? if my memory serves me correctly, mr bruce milne had a lot to do with it... i'm just sayin' you know.
anyway, all of those bands and all of those musicians, who worked behind bars and cafes and sold records and made t-shirts, flew interstate/overseas, bought petrol and started businesses. and their audiences all buy records, t-shirts, alcohol, coffee, books, art, bikes - they start businesses, attract tourists, customers and spend money in victoria. all of which then flows back into the economy and the "cultural capital" that the government leverages their promotion/trade/economy on. if the government was closing the supply chain for 30,000 businesses (like major banking institutions), there'd be something to say about it.
also known as 'what goes around comes around'.
commitment is sexy.
30 years. that's as long as most people commit to a mortgage/marriage. it's a long time for rock'n'roll. the tote has become the sweetheart of melbourne's music scene because it has stuck around. it has continued to plug away at putting on bands, giving peeps a place to hang out (the stories of romance from digger and the pussycats at the tote was hilarious!). that kind of consistency is hot - i don't care what anyone says.
the tote has also taught me the value of continuing to follow my heart/instinct/principles/dream. the tote has become what it has because richie and bruce and amanda and wally and all the people involved that venue believed in the importance of live music to melbourne.
hell, they probably put on some really shit shows. i know i saw a few! but if they closed the doors every time they only had 5 payers, or the PA fucked up, or a microphone was damaged, or there was a bad review; then no-one would get the benefits of the times that the place was overflowing with people, the jukebox was pumping, the vibe was jumping and the times were good.
what else is dead sexy.
the tote, and the kinds of bands that played the last gig, and all those who played there over the course of the last 3 decades are pretty much responsible for my taste in men.
flannel and/or checked shirts, tight black jeans and skinny legs, winkle pickers, converse sneakers, band shirts and broad shoulders, crazy hair, facial hair, dancing like a maniac, suits (oh my god, link meanie was the first man to prove how hot a man looks in a suit.), lust for life, tattoos, jewellery, husky voices, a love of music, piano-playing fingers. and men hugging. nothing cracks my ice-queen heart like seeing two burly rockstars showing public displays of manly affection.
i guess my mother will be pleased that the tote is closing now. :)
girls can do anything.
ok, so my mother always told me this and i kind of believed it in theory, but until i saw people like janet english, claire moore, brody dalle, bands from collingwood's rock'n'roll high school, kim gordon, pj harvey, courtney love, meg white and my best friend sarah barber get up on stage and kick arse - i never really believed her. you think it's an accident that half the crowd on monday night were some of the most amazing, inspiring, creative and beautiful women in melbourne? no way.
always finish with a rock'n'roll ending.
bruce's farewell speech was eloquent, powerful, graceful, steady and brought together all the vital parts of the tote as a working venue. my personal highlight was the 'palmer, palmer, palmer' chant that went up for venue booker amanda palmer. champion.
rather than die out, fade away, lose momentum with frustration, or completely implode, the tote went out in fucking style: 20 bands, a great vibe, awesome music, the jukebox in full swing, plenty of love in the air and mucho respecto. a seriously awesome party.
here's hoping for an encore.
clem bastow x 2
a few of things suck right now:
1. the massive earthquake in haiti.
that fuckin' sucks. the place is in a total mess, millions of people are dead, dying, wounded, grieving, homeless, desperate, scared and isolated.
i've done two important things to help: given extra money to medecins sans frontieres to help with medical supplies and staff (they're my particular favourite charity, but i'm sure you've all got yours that you give money to regularly);
shown gratitude for my amazing life. it seems not quite right to whinge about stuff when there are others who are having a gnarly time of it right now.
2. the tote is closing down.
ok, read that bit again, above, where i say that it's hard to whinge, etc.
i realise that the tote hasn't collapsed in on itself and collingwood isn't the epicentre of an earthquake. but, on a local scale, this sucks and i just have to write about it.
for those who don't know melbourne, the tote hotel is a pub and music venue that has been in the back streets of working-class melbourne for the last 30 years or so. it has been a consistent supporter of underground music that whole time - hosting a ridiculous amount of local and international acts, not to mention people, that has helped make melbourne the kind of place that it is.
my favourite Tote Quote is from an old friend, Ray Ahn:
"I always liked the Tote because it has always been full of good looking well dressed people with immaculate taste. I felt honoured to be among such rock n roll illuminaries. As a Sydneysider I always felt under dressed and daggy there but I always learnt something from there whether it be a sideburn here, a pointy boot there.
And the pinball machine instead of poker machines (Sydney pubs are full of one armed bandits and as an oriental, I can never resist them) is a classy touch.
Well done Tote and thank you"
the state government, in their enlightened crack-down on drunk fuckheads, has decided that, because there have been brawls between bouncers and bogans in the CBD, that a pub with a license until 2am in collingwood (about 10kms away) is deemed 'high risk' and needs a heftier licence. one more like the ridiculously unsafe, but state-supported casino has. which costs a ridiculous amount of money and which has forced the owners to close.
i don't know a lot about running a pub, but i know a fair bit about alcoholism and violence. believe me, the tote is not the cause of violence in the city. this weekend is the last weekend and there is pretty much a round-the-clock vigil-type atmosphere happening.
i'll be doing two important things to help: writing to my local MP (not to mention posting a blog) and voicing my displeasure; and then going to the pub and paying my respects/showing my solidarity. for a place that has supported my musical taste, created a safe place for me (a single, white female) to go out late at night and shown commitment to music culture in melbourne.
3. police search powers have increased.
due to said crack-down on drunk fuckheads, police powers to search without a warrant have been extended to include 'blitzes' on geographical areas that have a history of violence, including 'train stations and city blocks'.
these blitzes are only allowed to be 12 hours' long and must be 'advertised' 7 days in advance, but they still provide cops with a blanket search.
this means that there is no specific suspicion of illegal activity - they're looking for weapons and drugs across the board, just in case. it's like a pre-emptive strike for civility. and i can tell you, they're not going to be racially profiling anyone. nope, not our victorian police.
and when did this new law get passed? 16th december. that's right kids, when all the politicians are home having christmas with their kids, or overseas getting the fuck out for a while.
i'm going to do two important things: write about it (tick). as an artist in public, i'm concerned about my right to actually be in public. you know, without an assumption of guilt; then i'm going leave this country for a while. not yet, but soon. it's all getting a bit weary, so i'm going to go to an ex-nazi state to get away from this proto-nazi state.
i also wanted to write about the lempriere being swallowed sculpture by the sea, but that can wait.
this techno viking handiwork is hella old, but i finally got around to watching it and laughed out loud for real. i love henry rollins and his spoken word - he makes vitriol taste like creme brulèe. but i also love a bit of healthy 'fuck you too' in my diet. here's a nice mix of both.
and the original rant:
thanks to iain tait for this.
2010 has some pretty exciting things instore for me. and you. i hope.
one of them is the continuation of my regular wednesday art date with owen leong. i'm hoping that i can be a bit disciplined and write about them each week. you'll have to forgive the slightly eratic start to the program - it's sunny outside and i've still got that holiday feeling going on. but here's a little about the first two excursions for the year:
1. jenny holzer at ACCA.
i love jenny holzer. fact. i've got bunch of her statements on postcards, loved her running LED ticker tape installation at the Hamburg Kunsthalle and subscribe to her twitter. in fact, she's probably the only artist who best uses twitter for her practice.
So i was pretty excited to see that she was going to have work here. And i was like a jilted lover when i realised that it was only going to be a couple of works. boo. i wanted a full-on immersion of holzer-love.
however, the work that is at ACCA is pretty damned spectacular.
The first work, which is slightly reminiscent of the Barbara Krueger projections at the same gallery a few years ago, is a rolling projection of text which tracks the entire space. You can lounge on rad bean bag things and have the giant font scroll over you, up the wall and onto the ceiling. it's a typographer's wet dream, i can tell you that.
And the bean bags are pretty exciting too. made of a heat/pressure-sensitive material, they leave the impression of your lounging on them once you get up. hyper-colour like.
the work in the second gallery hits you in the guts. a combination of text-based canvases and a rotating LED text spiral, it is the transcripts of prisoners' stories and death reports from Abu Graib. it is painful. it is sad. it is disgusting. it is enlightening.
I love this about holzer's work. she uses text to highlight the unspoken or hidden words of the disempowered. rather than the usual blah, blah, blah that we usually ignore, she will use text so skillfully to make us sit up and pay attention. and stop picking your nose in the back row there!
one day i would like to see a bigger survey of her work, but in the mean time, this exhibition is an excellent aperitif.
2. chris lawrence at seventh.
the result of a 3-week residency, this work was a haunting and tragic series of installations which took over the whole gallery. usually split into 3 separate spaces, it was satisfying to see one artist take over the whole space, especially at a time when all the other galleries in town are showing stable/survey/graduate shows.
lawrence's installations, using sharp lines, wood, metal, lighting and a high-contrast palette are a combination of hany armanious, bernie lubell and christopher hanrahan. they are machines or systems that seem to function, but are actually dysfunctional. they reflect a fracture, a fear or a couldabeen moment, but are so stark and beautiful.
on the closing night, my disco did a performance of their stark and beautiful music, although i had to leave with a shocking headache before they started.
jenny holzer, projections 2008. from the acca website
chris lawrence, from the seventh website.
i know that we're already a week into the new year, but it would be remiss of me to not at least expand on that crazy title.
when asked to sum up the year in one word, i decided that 2009 was crazy. it was like a joyride in a fast car: 0-100 in 2.3 seconds and a hot case of whiplash to boot.
rather than table all of the highlights for you (i did that in my own soul-searching time, thanks very much), i thought i would tell you about some of the wacky things i found myself having done. what's a blog for, if not for a little self-flagellation between friends.
in 2009 i can't believe i:
strapped a porn soundtrack on a CD walkman to a public toilet
walked around newcastle with a piece of mobile architecture on my back
posed for a photo with a news ltd newspaper
stood in the same spot on a CBD intersection for 8 hours
started an argument in st kilda with a colourful local, who threatened to smash my (borrowed) camera on the same night as i was abused on chapel street for being a 'fucking carpet-muncher' by a local gay boy.
didn't move house or change jobs (nutty, huh!)
watched snow fall from the sky and made a snowball. for the first time.
developed some ridiculous crushes on the most unlikely lads
got myself locked in a lift shaft. in a white dust coat.
got myself called a slut whilst wearing said dust coat, looking like a gleaner - carrying on my back a pile of cardboard and felt twice my size.
spent my birthday in paris, dancing to burning electro.
spent my birthday that way whilst hundreds died in crazy bushfires
went to the opening night of the michael jackson movie: this is it
went to the football, the opera, the ballet and a rock gig all in the same week
dressed up as tank girl, a hot 50s madam and a ghastly concoction of all-pink nastiness for the sake of it.
received a bottle of chaos. joy!
found out that i'm gonna be an aunty
was being pelted by wind and sharp rain, in a bright yellow uniform and ugly plastic poncho as the clocks ticked over into the new year. fitting methinks.
here's to 2010 being a little less kooky.