Behind the Scenes of Korean Pop Band Big Bang's Visually Delectable World Tour Trailer Shot In Los Angeles


CREDITS: 

Photography: Pola Esther

Starring: Brianna Michele, Stephanie Shiu, Gia Genevieve, Sara Mohr, Marina Zappia, cameo by Seungri from Big Bang, TK, and James Goldstein

Stylist: Courtenay Brandt

Hair and Makeup: Sheila Mia Seifi

clothing mostly vintage with an exception of Alexander McQueen dresses

director of "Made" concert film Dikayl Rimmasch

creative director of "Made" concert film Ed Burke

FOLLOW AUTRE ON INSTAGRAM: @AUTREMAGAZINE


Love Land Invaders

Love Land Invaders is brought to you by the ingeniously creative minds of Cologne, Germany based artists Lagoi & Lace. Inspired by "entertainment and pop/music culture, Japanese culture, nudity and porn, fashion, design and art," Ralph Lagoi and Kate Lace create surreal worlds with vibrant, luxuriously psychedelic palettes that contain a certain pop art poetry that is half cartoonish and half brilliantly absurd, but that collectively represents a broader philosophy of freedom, love and art. Love Land Invaders, one of their latest, wildly inventive photographic stories, was shot in Japan's stunningly decorated love hotel rooms and includes specially designed masks, jewelry, clothing and ribbons. Even the artists themselves posed for the photographs – transforming themselves into elaborate characters with names like "Miss Takehito Quadruple," "Mister Hyde Dobuita Speertraeger," "Mr. Seiuchi Sivuch," "Shika Shika Chan" and "Miss Ayanami Oenshi" who each represent different ideals of beauty - like the the beauty of dark elegance, the beauty of a gentleman, the beauty of play, the beauty of wilderness, and the beauty of pink. Its the kind of blatant campiness that can make one overlook its originality, but if you see if for what its worth you'll notice its extremely original artistic merit as a bold statement on the glossy, hyper-surreal, absurdity of post-modern contemporary art. It brings to mind the the balloon statues and installations of Jeff Koons and art of Murakami as larger than life statements of a philosophy that Lagoi and Lace call Luxurious Pop

Be sure to visit the psychedelic world of of Lagoi & Lace to see much more mind-blowing imagery.....

Peggy Moffitt Exhibition Opening – Pacific Design Center

Jhordan Dahl, co-curator of  The Total Look: the Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt and William Claxton with Peggy Moffitt herself at the opening event of the exhibition now on view until May 20 at the Moca - Pacific Design Center. Photography by Brad Elterman

Left: Vidal Sassoon & Peggy Moffitt Right:Jhordan Dahl, Jeffrey Deitch, Paige Powell

China Chow & Peggy Moffitt

Left: Jeremy Scott & Peggy Moffitt Right: Jhordan Dahl & Peggy Moffitt

Frieka Janssens' Smoking Kids

Beligum based photographer Frieka Janssens' series of children smoking is a stark reminder of the perverted glamour of something that once deemed a symbol of cultural cool, but what is now as good as poison. Janssens says, "A YouTube video of a chainsmoking Indonesian toddler inspired me to create this series, "Smoking Kids". The video highlighted the cultural differences between the east and west, and questioned notions of smoking being a mainly adult activity. Adult smokers are the societal norm, so I wanted to isolate the viewer's focus upon the issue of smoking itself. I felt that children smoking would have a surreal impact upon the viewer and compel them to truly see the acts of smoking rather than making assumptions about the person doing the act.....The aesthetics of smoke and the particular way smokers gesticulate with their hands and posture cannot be denied, but among the different tribes of "Smoking Kids," - Glamour, Jazz, and The Marginal - there is a nod to less attractive aspects, on the line between the beauty and ugliness of smoking." But not to worry, these kids weren't actually smoking.  Much more after the jump. 

frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_11
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_10
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_1
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_5
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_7
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_3
_8
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_9
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_6
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_4
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_2
frieka_janssens_smoking_kids_13

Looking Forward: ART IN 2012

Terry Richardson, Untitled (red lips), 2011

As everyone looks backward – best album, film, book, art exhibition of 2011 – Pas Un Autre looks forward to a few important and exciting exhibitions held around the world in 2012. As you'll see – there will be a trend in Japanese contemporary visual art and Japanese artist's getting their due in major museums, Damien Hirst attempts to take over the world with spots, British artist Gillian Wearing taps into the human psyche, and Terry Richardson has his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. 

1.  The first exhibition of renowned Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama's work at a Los Angeles museum. Fracture: Daido Moriyama, which is on view from April 7 to July 31 2012 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,  highlights the raw power of Moriyama’s work through a selection of photographic prints and books spanning four decades, as well as an installation of more recent color prints.

2. In 2012 British artist Damien Hirst will take over the world with his famous "spot paintings."  From January 12 to February 18 at all ten Gagosian Gallery locations around the world, from Madison Avenue to Hong Kong to Geneva, will be presenting the exhibition Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986–2011.

3.  Japanese artist Yayoi Kusuma, famous too for her repeating dot patterns, but also for her painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and immersive installations, will be having a major retrospective at the Tate Modern in London. Kusuma, who grew up in rural Japan and became the center of the New York avante-garde art scene in New York in 60s and has spent the last few decades in a psychiatric institution in Tokyo, will be having a series of major retrospectives in the coming year.  Kusuma's retrospective at the Tate Modern will be on view from February 9 to July 5 2012.

4. Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing’s photographs and films explore the public and private lives of ordinary people. Fascinated by how people present themselves in front of the camera in fly-on-the-wall documentaries and reality TV, she explores ideas of personal identity through often masking her subjects and using theatre’s staging techniques.From March 28 to June 17 at the Whitechapel Gallery in London presents a major exhibition that surveys Wearing’s work.

5. Terry Richardson’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, titled Terrywood, presents over 25 of his latest photographs. Inspired by the multiple facets of Hollywood life, Terrywood unveils a series of images of the famous locale, as seen through Richardson’s eyes. Terryworld meets Hollywood, as the local characters, familiar landscapes, and architectural details, now verge on having a new identity. With images such as Untitled (Hollywood), and Untitled (Nude), both photographs of the proverbial chintzy signs that are ubiquitous throughout Hollywood, Richardson illustrates his proclivity for branding whatever subject matter he approaches. Terrywood will be on view at the OH WOW gallery on La Cienaga in Los Angeles from February 24  to March 31, 2012.

LOWLIFE, a Memoir by Scot Sothern

California, 1986–When I pulled off the freeway into San Diego, I had a single twenty dollar bill in my wallet. My car, a 1973 Toyota station wagon, rattled my teeth and died in idle. At stops I had to divide my right foot: heel on the brake, toes revving the accelerator. I had barely enough gas to get back to Los Angeles. See more after the jump....

On El Cajon Boulevard I drove slowly and studied the street walkers. In their eyes I could see desperation-induced madness, premature death. In my eyes they could see my craving for the nasty little secret I kept from friends and family. I could give my twenty dollars to any one of these women. I could buy a quick sex fix and she could buy enough crack to put a smile on her face for an hour or so.

In the passenger seat, belted and buckled, frail and beautiful, my four-year-old son, Dashiell, slept curled around his best friend, a pillow-sized stuffed facsimile of Hulk Hogan. It was Sunday night and my weekend with my little boy was over.

When we arrived at his mother's house, Dash awoke. He cried and clung tightly, arms around my neck. He didn't want me to go. His mother Sylvia, my ex-wife, was happy to see me go, but first she wanted money. I made lame excuses. She called me a jerk and pried our son from my embrace. I took my twenty dollars and drove back to El Cajon Boulevard.

Cruising nighttime byways for an adrenaline high, Scot Sothern first patronized the marketplace of curbside prostitution on a prurient whim. Diving to the murky depths of sexual obsession he resurfaced five years later, shell shocked, and without excuse. While there, trusty Nikon in hand, Scot snapped what he saw: full-frontal X-rated realities, fine-art documents, black and white, pathos and pizzazz.

LOWLIFE is an illustrated diary of dysfunction; the confessions of a befuddled baby-boomer maintaining a precarious connection to propriety and fatherhood while side-tripping into noirish infatuations. These stories and images, shot mostly in Southern California between 1986 and 1990 record the existence of the many disenfranchised Americans, men and women, hawking body and soul for the price of a Big Mac and a fix, struggling in a culture that deems them criminal and expendable.

On view starting November 5 (on view until December 3) at the Drkrm Gallery in Los Angeles presents Lowlife Photographs and Literary Vignettes by Scot Sothern with an opening night book signing of Lowlife the book, a limited edition monograph published by Stanley Barker UK now publishing. 

Alice Arisu: Whose Culture is This?

Alice_Arisu_whose_culture_is_this_3

Alice Arisu is a 24 year old artist based in Milan. Her work leans on the powerful ability to communicate with the psychological methods advertising – she is studying Theories and Methods for Communication at the University of Milan – so Arisu uses slogans, in effective, passive protest, to articulate our societal shortcomings – namely the identity of women in the multi-fragmented, exploitive landscape of mainstream media.

Alice_Arisu_whose_culture_is_this_1

I was interested in Arisu's latest series, entitled Who Culture Is This?, which is so apropo to our current zeitgeist, so I asked her what her thoughts were behind this project. Here is what she had to say:

In my previous project, “Sin Cara” (“Faceless” in Spanish, which was created for an exhibition in Madrid), the main idea was to suggest how universal female condition could be by hiding or erasing their faces: women may lose their identity for many different, oppressive influences. The "Whose Culture is This?" series shares the same sentiment, but now I am using black and white photography which I used to love at the very beginning of my “ career”, with its peculiar light and an attempt to lack in perspective. I fuse it with the use of written word, which is inspired by advertisements, but there's no slogan, just sharp sentences and questions, which I hope will lead to reflection as unique way of release.

www.alicearisu.com

Alice_Arisu_whose_culture_is_this

Chasing Shadows by Santu Mofokeng

Santu_buddhist_retreat_Mofokeng_chasing_shadows

They are strewn like litter across the floor in my office. Others are kept in cabinets, and a few are in frames. Whatever lies, deceptions or promises brought them into being, I wonder. I am referring to the products of my gaze, refracted and reflecting, somewhat muted, not unlike light dancing on the surface of the dirty puddle that is my memory: Images of people in moments of contemplation, performance, confrontation and perhaps celebration. My exploration and participation in the fictions we call relationship and community. And of environments, real and imagined. Insignificant experiences, selected and isolated from tedium, moments reduced to mere appearances, simply as surfaces reflecting light, arrested and stored in the long memory of film. A brooding corpus of so many episodes remembered and forgotten.

MTHUNZI_AND_MIESIEP_MAKING_SUPPLICATIO_20TO_THE_ANCESTORS_INSIDE_THe_MOTOULENG_SANCTUM

This anthology of photographs was initially conceived as a metaphorical biography, though I now have reservations about that conception. The bias for the dark, the bizarre and the allegorical in the work is my entire fault. For, like Ezekiel in the Bible, I embrace the apocalypse. I can easily blame my mother and father for my obsession with meaning and purpose, and the fact that I find beauty without truth unsatisfactory. Except, I suspect the problem lies elsewhere. It is located somewhere between 1956 and now.

These photographs explore a part of me which I have so far neglected in my work, – my spirituality. There are several reasons why it was ignored: ambivalence, embarrassment, fear of the political and other implications or perhaps the deflection of my gaze. This exhibit is an attempt to come to terms with my schizophrenic existence. The expression I take as a title for this exhibition, "Chasing Shadows" has quixotic connotations in English, but in African languages its meaning is antithetical.

"...while I feel reluctant to partake

in this gossamer world, 

I can identify with it."

"Shadow" does not carry the same image or meaning as seriti or is'thunzi. The word in Sotho and Zulu is difficult to pin down to any single meaning. In everyday use seriti or is'thunzi can mean anything from aura, presence, dignity, confidence, power, spirit, essence, status and or wellbeing. The words in the vernacular also imply the experience of being loved or feared. One's seriti / is'thunzi can be positive or negative and can exert a powerful influence. Having a good or bad seriti / is'thunzi depends on the caprice of enemies, witches, relatives both dead and living, friends or associations, and on circumstance or time. Having and defending one's own seriti / is'thunzi from evil forces or attacking the seriti / is'thunzi of one's perceived enemies preoccupies and torments many African people. Those Africans who disdain these notions are at least aware of seriti/ is'thunzi. Especially the elite, when they engage in conversation with white South Africans, they often deny this black African consciousness.

I grew up on the threshing floor of faith. A faith that is both ritual and spiritual – a bizarre cocktail of beliefs that completely embraces pagan rituals as well as Christian beliefs. And while I feel reluctant to partake in this gossamer world, I can identify with it. It does not strike me as 'peculiar'. Yet, I still try to avoid being trapped in its hypnotic embrace, which seems to mock my carefully cultivated indifference and self confidence. I feel ambivalent about my ambivalence, embarrassed at my embarrassment.

This project has steered me to places where reality blended in freely with unreality, where my knowledge of the photographic medium was tested to the limit. While the images record rituals, fetishes and settings, I am not certain that I captured on film the essence of the consciousness I saw displayed. Perhaps, I was looking for something that refuses to be photographed. I was only chasing shadows, perhaps.

Text by Santu Mofokeng, 1997

Santu Mofokeng, Shadow Hunter is on view now at the Jeu de Paume in Paris - The exhibition and the accompanying book bring together a unique selection of the photographic essays made by Santu Mofokeng over the last thirty years. Well-known from his projects Black Photo Album/Look at me: 1890-1900s, Township Billboards: Beauty, sex and cell phones, Trauma Landscapes and Chasing Shadows, the South African artist took the opportunity of the invitation for this show and the production of his first comprehensive monograph, to delve deep into his artistic archive. "Santu Mofokeng, Chasing Shadows – 30 years of photographic essays" presents a selection of more than 200 images (photographs and a slideshow), texts and documents. The photographic essays he composed over the years, some of which are a life-long work in progress, range from the Soweto of his youth, from his investigations of life on the farms, the everyday life of the township and in particular, representations of the self and family histories of black South Africans, to images from the artist’s ongoing exploration of religious rituals and of typologies of landscapes, including his most current project Radiant Landscapes, commissioned specially for this retrospective.

SantuMofokeng-BG

Car Fetish

Superflex_Burning Car_2008

Superflex, Burning Car, 2008

When I think of car fetish I immediately think of David Cronenberg's 1996 film Crash. Its the erotic tale of a group of sexual outsiders who get their rocks off in car wrecks. One scene in particular, where Rosanna Arquette's character, who wears fish-nets and leg braces–obviously the result of some previous dalliance gone awry, and Holly Hunter's character get it on in the back of an old car.  Theres a word for this kind of fetish–its called paraphilia, or an attraction to objects.

92826_47246.tif

Andrew Bush, Man (possibly someone in character) traveling northwest at 60 mph on U.S.

The automobile is the foremost cultural touchstone of the 20th century, reflecting the social and cultural development of the western world and beyond. Both technical device and instrument of locomotion, it offers the most highly developed and widespread interface for human-machine interaction – while also functioning as a carrier of meaning, an individualized living room, a medium for escapes great and small, and a means of distancing oneself from others and of creating a personal profile. The attraction of speed and the new feeling of time and space ushered in by the advent of the automobile had a formative influence on (urban) perception and the rhythm of modern life in the early years of the 20th century. The view through the windshield still drives our outlook on life today, as well as coloring the cinematic perspective on reality. An exhibition "Car Fetish," at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, demonstrates the wide range of art influenced by the automobile. Around 160 artworks are featured by more than 80 artists, among them Giacomo Balla, Robert Frank, Jean Tinguely, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Chris Burden, Damián Ortega, Richard Prince or Superflex.

On view until October 9, 2011 at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, Switzerland www.tinguely.ch

Arnold_Odermatt_Wolfenschiessen_1964

Arnold Odermatt, Wolfenschiessen, 1964

[ESSAY] The Cruelty of Humanness

Wim_Delvoy_portrait

If we could partially gauge an artist’s worldview from his or her art, there is little romance to be derived from Belgium artist Wim Delvoye’s prospect. Neither is there room for hypocrisy in his work. As viewers, we have no escape, but are instead confronted with what Delvoye (born 1965 in Wervik, Belgium) once described as “a cruelty of the body” in the ways he portrays and represents humanness - ways that are often blunt and blatant, lacking in subtlety or diplomacy.

WimDelvoye_sex_ray

He’s made friends perform explicit sexual acts in medical clinics and had them recorded with X-ray scans, which were then sandwiched between colored glass to make windows in the tradition of medieval stained glass. Instead of human flesh, you see skeletons engaging in kissing, fondling and pleasuring each other. It’s a rather unfamiliar sight, yet it’s both realistic and real. Delvoye runs a pig farm in Beijing and sells tattooed pigskins and stuffed, tattooed pigs. And above all, he has made machines that digest food and discharge excrement. “If you really want to show a portrait of mankind, you have to look for the humanness.” And for that matter, Wim Delvoye’s works revolve around two pivotal axes: “one is the world of the frieze - decorative, the elegance of arabesques; the other is excrement.” The artist, however, sees little difference between the two: “The ornament, to an extent, is a form of waste.”

Cloaca, probably by far Delvoye’s best-known work, is a large-scale installation that duplicates the functions of the human digestive system and exists in a variety of models and incarnations. To put it simply, Cloaca is a machine that eats and shits. When exhibited, regular food is prepared by chefs and fed regularly (usually twice a day) into the workings of the machine, or should we say, the human machine. It then dutifully extrudes the remaining solids onto a conveyer belt, which is finally vacuum-packed and sold in plexi cases for $1,000 each.

“If you really want to show a portrait of mankind,

you have to look for the humanness.”

Cloaca was not simply a meditation on waste. The fact that a machine that produced shit was accepted and highly valued in the art circle was rather a provocation to an art world that had become increasingly commercialized since the mid-1990s, with the arrival of the Internet boom and dotcom economy. During an era when everything could potentially carry a price tag as an art object, Cloaca and its wide acceptance and popularity were a parody of the art system itself and what was considered valuable at the time. It mocked the very structure that supported its presentation and operation. Dan Cameron, former Senior Curator of New York’s New Museum has written of Cloaca, “by replicating one of our most crucial biological functions, Delvoye forces viewers both to consider our social discomfort with such functions and to question the elaborate cultural mechanisms that we have constructed to keep them from view.”

With another ongoing project, his “Pigskins” and “Stuffed Tattooed Pigs” series, Delvoye once again challenged the level of tolerance and the notion of worthiness in both the art system and our societies by tattooing patterns on live pigs and selling both tattooed pigskins and stuffed pigs as his artworks. His act of tattooing pigs has caused reactions and strong opposition from animal right activists in Europe, and he has since re-established a pig farm on the outskirts of Beijing, which he calls Art Farm. What makes the whole operation even more thought provoking is the fact that these art products are still exhibited and consumed in the international art context. While Delvoye found it impossible to continue having pigs tattooed withoutcausing controversy in Western societies, does their status as artworks make the products of this operation immune to criticism and allow it to acquire a certain positive value within the system again? Delvoye, however, wouldn’t want us to continue turning a blind eye to the underlying currents of such a mechanism, and instead brings it to us without disguise. Art Farm is a documentary of the full operation of his pig farm in China, shot on video from three different angles. We can’t pretend to know the easy part - the beautiful pigskin - without knowing how it has been made. There is no illusion or mystery left.

Wim-Delvoy_the_kiss_gas_masks

In addition to the three-screen video projection of Art Farm and some of his tattooed pigskins, Wim Delvoye will also share with us various sardonic products of his confrontational engagements with the art world andsociety in his exhibition at the Beijing branch of Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne. In his incessant interrogation of the limits and accepted order of the art system, Wim Delvoye has proven himself capable of creating objects and sculptures that appear to be eye-catching and even ornamental, yet at the same time address important issues Delvoye would like us to think about as we attempt to understand how the art world operates and to consider the multiple facets of our own existence.

Clio (2001-2002) and Terpsichore (2001-2002) are among the selection of works presented in the exhibition. These two works come from a series of stained glass windows incorporating images of X-ray photographs of cavorting couples that is part of his body of “Gothic Works”. Named after the nine muses of Greek mythology - Greek goddesses that ruled over the arts and sciences and offered inspiration in those subjects - this series involves Delvoye’s friends performing sexual acts in medical X-ray clinics and being captured on X-ray film, reduced to nothing but pure mechanical and graphic patterns. Another important branch of Delvoye’s “Gothic Works” is also presented in Beijing with Concrete Mixer (scale model 1:4) (2010) and Cement Truck (scale model) (2008). They are steel sculptures with meticulously carved, Gothic-style patterns.

The notion of the interchangeable nature of what’s useful and what’s useless continues to inform Delvoye’s manipulation of used objects. He transforms things that seem useful in everyday life into purely decorative items that then carry a different value from their everyday uses. Such items then become less useful in a practical context, but they are assigned a visual and artistic value in the art context. He has used car tires handcrafted with intricate designs that turned them into purely beautiful objects.

With his work, Delvoye continuously exposes us to the humanness of both the physical body and our social structures, particularly those sides that are not always pleasant, warm or generally considered constructive, but are equally valid and relevant to our being. Delvoye makes bare the less visible threads of our social fabric by giving them a place in the art context, and grants them a cultural and thus monetary sense of worthiness, simultaneously contemplating and revealing the mechanisms of the cultural industry. Loosely grouped to give a first impression of some of Delvoye’s important practices, this solo show offers barely the tip of the iceberg in terms of introducing the complex oeuvre of one of the most prolific artists of the last decade.

Text by Carol Yinghua Lu

Written on the occasion of Wim Delvoye’s solo exhibition at Galerie Urs Meile on view until July 31. www.galeriursmeile.com

Wim_Delvoy_tattooed_pig_large_louis_vuitton

[TODAY in HISTORY] Napoleon Bonaparte Dies in Exile

napoleon_Bonaparte_death_mask

This isn't just any history piece - this is the true tale of a great emperor's penis. In 1977 Napoleon Bonaparte's shriveled, severed 1.5 inch penis was sold to urologist John K. Lattimer for three thousand American dollars. It should be noted, for good measure, that Lattimer also owned a pair of Herman Göring's underwear.  I would hate to think that 190 years after my death my shriveled penis would be sitting in a nice wooden box in some stranger's attic, but then again thats never really been my concern.

napoleon-1

Described as looking like "a shriveled eel, a shriveled seahorse and a small shriveled finger" - not my penis, Napoleon's - the anatomical specimen was hesitantly removed by his surgeon Francesco Antommarch in front of seventeen witnesses a day after Napoleon's death 190 years ago today on the island of Saint Helena.  Along with other relics from the French emperor's life his penis has by far had the most enduring legend. Its starts with Abbé Ange Paul Vignali, who had given the last rites to Napoleon on St. Helena, and who brought back from the island roughly forty items belonging to the emperor.  Items included a lock of Napoleon's hair, his famous white breeches, his will along with other various official and non-official documents, silverware, and of course....his penis.

"...his penis has by far had the most enduring legend."

In 1916, descendants of Vignali sold his collection of Napoleonic items, including the penis, to a British rare books firm Maggs Bros which in turn sold the collection for around two thousand dollars in 1924 to Philadelphia bibliophile A.S.W. Rosenbach who had it "enshrined" in an elaborate blue morocco and velvet box. In 1927 he exhibited it, along with the other Vignali relics, in the Museum of French Art in New York. Then in 1977 John K. Lattimer bought the penis at a Parisian auction. What the future has in store for Napoleon Bonaparte's penis no one knows for sure. Just recently, Lattimer's daughter turned down one hundred thousand dollars for the emperor's member. What we do know is that Napoleon Bonaparte, whether a tyrant or great leader, his legend will live on - an icon of military power and political genius.  In honor of the anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte's death Wikicollectors, a community for collectors, have put together a list of the top 5 strangest items of memorabilia relating to the emperor. www.wikicollecting.org

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

Napoleon-Bonaparte_horse

Power Is Wonderful - Total Power is Totally Wonderful

madame_nhu_pistol_vietnam

SHE WAS A BITCH, but the camera loved her.  To most of the western world she was the antithesis of the modern American woman of the 1960s: brash, outspoken, and domineering.  Regardless, Madame Nhu, who died only a few days ago, is and always will be an icon of the 20th century. Like a dagger in a sheath ready for murder, Madame Nhu was not at all sartorially oblivious.  With her extremely tight fitting dresses and deep necklines, diamond crucifix necklace, bouffant hair-do and perfect eyebrows, photogs ate her up. She could've been a member of an all girl doo-wop group - one of Phil Spector's protégés.   But beyond the surface, Madame Nhu has always been embroiled in heated political environments and this time it would spill over with incredible vengeance and blood.

madame_nhu_3

Nhu's life reads like a movie script - with all the right players in all the right places - sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.  Madame Nhu, who was born Tran Le Xuan 1924 to an aristocratic family, would go on to marry Ngo Đinh Nhu, who was the brother and chief adviser to President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam.  After the dissolution of French Indochine, Vietnam was divided into a communist north, ruled by the wiry Marxist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, and a republican South ruled by Emperor Bao Dai,  who would appoint Ngo Dinh as president. The republican south was constantly at war with itself. With corrupt officials, generals - violence constantly threatened the regime. The regime's loudest, most controversial figure was Madame Nhu and everyone was well aware she was the one calling the shots inside the Presidential Palace.  Madame Nhu became a thorn in everyone's side -  a spokeswoman of a corrupted, fat-off-the-land South Vietnam that stood for everything the communist north despised.

As the sixties wore on and a war between two Vietnams intensified, the intrigue was too hard for America to resist. South Vietnam would also became a thorn in America's side in their efforts to squash the communist North.  It was as if Madame Nhu was a symbol, a siren of the trifecta that would bring three worlds together into a bloody conflict that would last nearly a decade.  But all this war was all too familiar to a Vietnam fighting for its independence for close to eighty years; everyone knows practice makes perfect.

On November 1, 1963, while Madame Nhu was is Beverly Hills with her 18 year old daughter, President Diem and Nhu, his brother and her husband, were killed in a supposed American backed assassination in a coup d'état led by a Southern general.  Two sons and an infant daughter were still trapped in Vietnam at the family retreat - Madame Nhu feared the worst.  She later learned they were safe and they joined Madame Nhu in exile in Rome where she lived  until her death at 84 on April 24.  She is survived by two sons and a daughter.  What we have left to illustrate the strange, complicated and miraculous story are the striking images of a young, vivacious Madame Nhu making her stately duties around town as the 'first lady' of the State of Vietnam: shooting a .38 caliber pistol, attending a funeral, and generally looking proud over some invisible horizon, albeit with a hint of fatalistic ambivalence about the unknown future, an ambivalence constantly gripping her heart with what must have been a vice like grip.

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

madame_knu_portrait

Mein Kulturkampf: Andres Serrano Vs. The Jesus Freaks

piss_christ_serrano_Andres_Serrano

Last Sunday French Christian fundamentalist vandals went on an all out attack on a photograph by artist Andres Serranoat the Je Crois Aux Miracles (I Believe in Miracles) exhibition at the Collection Lambert, a contemporary art museum in Avignon, France. The photograph, Piss Christ, an image of Jesus Christ on the cross submerged in the artist's own urine, was damaged "beyond repair."  Other photographs were damaged and museum guard's lives were threatened.  If this was the middle ages Andre Serrano would undoubtably be burned alive at the stake, or...crucified. Religion and culture has always been an oxymoronic, delicate, and oft times violent affair, but spite begets spite and the holy war against sacrilege in art will always wage, and with no real front lines, as well as mass confusion as to who is the real enemy is, will never be won nor lost.

loaded_colt_45_Andres_Serrano

Andres Serrano is undoubtably a "shock artist" and his images are bound to illicit a response; whether good or bad depends on the viewer. Serrano's photograph Blood and Semen III - the title speaks for itself - was used by Metallica for their 1996 album Load. Is it disgusting, beautiful or both?  Serrano, who was born in 1950 in New York City, is half Honduran, half Afro-Cuban, and interestingly was raised a strict Roman Catholic. Serrano did not start making art seriously until he was 28 years old and has since exhibited globally with multiple career retrospectives.  Serrano's art has had many close calls, but never as violent as last Sunday's attack.

If tens of thousands of years of human civilization haven't proved that we are a depraved species fighting back desperately our primordial urges, we have a long way to go.  In the 1990s Andres Serrano was a pivotal figure in the culture wars that waged between conservative America and the National Endowment of Arts as to whether tax payer money should be allocated to support artists like Serrano. But it begs the question: who are the real radicals and when does this brand of blatant censorship infringe on freedom of expression?

In Andres Serrano's case he can rest assure that as long as he keeps dipping figures of Jesus Christ in jars of  his own urine the mob will always be at his door with pitchforks. But, in the case of those that can appreciate the aesthetic and visceral significance of Serrano's art, amen to you.  After three days of forced closure, despite repeated death threats, Piss Christ is miraculously on view again, albeit severely damaged.

Je Crois Aux Miracles exhibition is on view at the Collection Lambert in Avignon, until May 8th - ww.collectionlambert.com

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

Ecce Homo, 1988

[BOOKS] PATRICK HOELCK'S POLAROID HOTEL

portfolio.patrick_hoelck_Polaroid_hotel

LOS ANGELES - OHWOW and Leadapron are to host a book release and book signing event for Patrick Hoelck's Polaroid Hotel.

Press, flash, picture. Simple. Then wait. And wait. And wait some more. The anticipation to see what you have captured is a thrill that has been lost with modern technology. In a world full of instant there have been unfortunate casualties. Polaroid instant film was almost one of them. It's not just the nostalgia that makes Polaroids alluring. It's the unpredictability. You never know if you're going to end up with a masterpiece or a disaster but it really doesn't matter, it's yours.

portfolio.patrickhoelck-2

In Polaroid Hotel, Hoelck pays tribute to the art of Polaroid photography with a book of images that capture intimate moments of his life and career throughout 17 years, showing that just because Polaroid has aged it hasn't lost its appeal.

Patrick Hoelck is an American contemporary photographer and director. This is Hoelck's second publication following his first book Tar, that is now out of print and considered a classic. Hoelck has shot major editorial, fashion and advertising campaigns and recently made his feature film directorial debut with Mercy, winning Best Director and Best Film in the Savannah Film Festival amongst other honors.

The book release and signing will be on the evening of Thursday, April 21, 2011 at OHWOW Gallery. www.oh-wow.com

portfolio.patrickhoelck

Henry Leutwyler's Sacred Artifacts of Pop

Gold Beretta Elvis
Gold Beretta Elvis

Elvis Presley's Gold Beretta Henry Leutwyler's Artifacts series instantly turns this photographer into a brilliant archeologist of pop culture; carefully, methodically recording the contents for posterity.   There's Elvis' gold Beretta, Bob Dylans's harmonica, the pistol that took John Lennon's life and most famously Michael Jackson's glove. Neverland Lost, a portrait of Michael Jackson, an exhibit at Foley Gallery in New York explores a series of photographs Leutwyler captured at Jackson's Neverland Ranch a year before the singer died.

Elvis Presley's Wallet Bob Dylan's Harmonica Andy Warhols's Paintbrush The gun that killed John Lennon