Monday, 31 August 2009

Gentlemen of Bakongo

"SAPE: Society of Ambianceurs and Elegant People. At the start of the 20th century when the French arrived in the Congo, the myth of Parisian elegance was born among the youth of the Bakongo ethnic group, who were working for the colonisers. At that time, many considered white men to be superior, due to their sophistication and elegance. In 1922, Grenard André Matsoua was the first Congolese man ever to come back from Paris dressed as a genuine Frenchman. His arrival caused great admiration among his fellow countrymen; he became known as the first Grand Sapeur. Supported by the respect and admiration of their community, today’s Sapeurs consider themselves artists. They add a touch of glamour to their humble environment through their refined manners and impeccable dressing styles. Each of them is unique, each possessing a particular and individualised repertoire of gestures. They all share the same dream: to go to Paris and return to Brazzaville as the ambassadors of supreme elegance."

Days With My Father

These photographs document the last couple of years of the photographer Philip Tolenado's father. A touching documentary of age and family, with a funny and affectionate commentary of images that can be seen on the website linked above.

Some Thames

Three more that I couldn't leave out, from the inimitable Roni Horn.

Je T'aime

Want this RIGHT NOW.

Hervé Tullet

Hervé Tullet is a French children's author, internationally acclaimed illustrator, artist and art director. My cousin is having a baby in November and I can't seem to stop planning the awesome things I'm going to get for it (sex unknown). So far, the list includes a towel with hood and ears, a cuddly bunny, and some books that it won't possibly be able to enjoy until the age of five at the earliest. Birthdays are mapped out for the forseeable future. Have been doing some personal reconnaissance work re: Tullet (which has absolutely nothing to do with me wanting the colouring book for myself, and everything to do with baby suitability...) Will post an update when said colouring book has been delivered.

Also - full disclosure - I went to a preview of (500) Days of Summer a week ago and can't stop listening to the soundtrack, which hopefully explains the track above.

Follow the Dot

(dir Paul White)

(dir. Michel Gondry)

(dir. Chris Cunningham)

I kind of hate it when people post YouTube videos, and hardly ever click play. But today I've been relistening to Bjork, one of my all time favourite singers, who has the most amazing videos. They are actually very hard to find online, so I can't post all of my choices. Here is a fairly decent low resolution video gallery with lots of extra detail about the various themes and directors she's worked with (Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Nick Knight, Chris Cunningham etc.... dream team).

Controversially my favourite video not posted is probably Pagan Poetry, mainly for the part towards the end where she starts crying. One of the reasons I am obsessed with her videos the most is that she breaks so many cardinal rules of music videos as dominated by Beyonce, Britney, Girls Aloud– including no make up, shaved head, body stockings, corset piercing, nudity, and absolutely no flattering angles at any time. As much as I love the divas listed above, I can’t handle any more overly edited videos of them wiggling about in leotards with 6 inches of make up (apart from this, obviously, of which I will never be able to watch enough).

Anyway if you ever have a chance to watch Bjork’s music videos on DVD do it! Also click here to see a live performance of Aurora at the Royal Opera House, London, 2001. It shows the process behind the sound effects on the track (including crunching gravel and an Inuit chorus).

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Roni Horn aka Roni Horn

Roni Horn is a prolific New York born artist who lives and works between her home town and Reykjavik, Iceland. She describes her works as site-dependent, expanding upon the idea of site-specificity associated with Minimalism. Horn's work also embodies the cyclical relationship between humankind and nature- a mirror-like relationship in which we attempt to remake nature in our own image. (words) I am very interested in the idea of taking a certain set of images and making them appear completely different by installing them in a new space. Sad that I missed her recent exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Good Hair

"When Chris Rock’s daughter, Lola, came up to him crying and asked, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” the bewildered comic committed himself to search the ends of the earth and the depths of black culture to find out who had put that question into his little girl's head!

Director Jeff Stilson’s camera followed the funnyman, and the result is Good Hair, a wonderfully insightful and entertaining, yet remarkably serious, documentary about African American hair culture. An exposé of comic proportions that only Chris Rock could pull off, Good Hair visits hair salons and styling battles, scientific laboratories, and Indian temples to explore the way black hairstyles impact the activities, pocketbooks, sexual relationships, and self-esteem of black people.

Celebrities such as Ice-T, Kerry Washington, Nia Long, Paul Mooney, Raven Symoné, Maya Angelou, and Reverend Al Sharpton all candidly offer their stories and observations to Rock while he struggles with the task of figuring out how to respond to his daughter’s question. What he discovers is that black hair is a big business that doesn’t always benefit the black community and little Lola’s question might well be bigger than his ability to convince her that the stuff on top of her head is nowhere near as important as what is inside."

I have never thought Chris Rock was funny and I don't know why I want to watch this but I really do!! Please please release in the UK.

Fiongal Greenlaw

Fiongal is a friend of a friend who I shared a fun evening with at the pub a couple of months ago. He's a menswear designer, and I've just discovered his quirky illustrations as well. As someone who can't really draw, I am always interested to see what people can create with scraps and cast offs.

Philip Tolenado

There are many compelling and unusual images on Philip Tolenado's website, more of which I'll be posting shortly.