Monday, April 26, 2010

Doppelgänger Week, Round 2

Lara Stone backstage at Gaultier

Brigitte Bardot in the mid-1960s

Stumbled upon this iconic image of Brigitte Bardot whilst researching for my paper on representations of modernization/alienation in the city of Paris in French New Wave cinema (might blog about this later... stay tuned). In the August '09 issue of W Magazine, Dutch übermodel of the moment Lara Stone beautifully channeled the French film icon's pigtailed, red-sweatered, cat-eyelinered (is that a word??) classic 1960s blonde bombshell look. Check out Interview's April 2010 issue for more of the "most sought-after face in fashion" : an in-depth interview with Lara by Marc Jacobs and some gorgeous, albeit titillating, photos.

Lara Stone in 2009

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coachella 2010 in pictures

I was lucky enough to attend the Coachella music festival in Indio, CA this year for the first time ever-- yes, I know, as a born-and-raised Angeleno, I'm a late bloomer. Though having been on the east coast for the past 4 years has put a bit of a damper on the springtime music festival front. Needless to say, it somehow worked out this year, and while I had an incredible time there; rather than give you a summary of the three glorious (actually, make that one stressful and ridiculous, two glorious...) days I spent in the desert listening to amazing music with even more amazing friends and no cell service, I thought I'd share a few of the photos I took, mainly of the sensational art objects and decorations at the festival(the ones I took of the bands are mostly blurry and unrecognizable). If you're really interested in a (rather harsh, in my opinion!) critique of each band, read this Pitchfork article:

Pavement's epic reunion was one of the most talked-about acts at Coachella, and they arguably had some of the best visual effects... I loved the string lighting, reminded me of the album artwork on Terror Twilight

the giant paper crane, which changed colors at night.. on Sunday it was rainbow!

the crowd in the Sahara tent on Saturday night, I believe during David Guetta's set

a seemingly never-ending trail of balloons in the sky...

..and the balloons at night (you can't see it here, or maybe they hadn't turned on yet, but each one had a tiny blue LED light attached to it, creating a glowing effect)

the Ferris wheel that made me miss Deerhunter... according to Pitchfork they weren't all that good, so I guess it doesn't matter

Coachella from above. Notice how many people there are in the audience at De La Soul!!

Indian headdresses were a popular fashion statement this year (I credit this in part to MGMT)... a few at Hot Chip

view from below the paper crane

sunset during Spoon on the last day

art being made

a broken mirror sculpture


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Guns, Knives, Brass Knuckles

A Smith & Wesson .38. Kitchen knives. Brass Knuckles. These are the objects Robert Lazzarini works with in his exhibition at Honor Fraser in Los Angeles. I saw the exhibition and heard Lazzarini speak at the gallery on Saturday and was very impressed with the work. Katie Sonnenborn, Director of External Affairs at the Dia Art Foundation puts it best:

Robert Lazzarini’s artwork springs from a desire to understand the perceivable limits of the material world. Conceptually and formally rigorous, he pushes ordinary objects to their limits by mining the twined threads of distortion and material veracity…Lazzarini negotiates a place between two and three dimensions that challenges his viewers’ understanding of the physical world and their visual perception.”

To say that Lazzarini is successful would be an understatement. At first glance, the graphic, 2-D quality that comes from the mathematical distortions Lazzarini performs on the objects and their floating installation at eye-level leads your brain to comprehend the works as two-dimensional images, rather than sculptures. But as you come nearer you begin to realize that, though they are unlike any you have ever seen before, you are indeed looking at sculptures.

By performing mathematical distortions, Lazzarini leaves the objects without a vanishing point, and therefore perpetually unresolved. I found myself walking around each piece, unsuccessfully searching for that angle from which the object looked “right.” These sculptures occupy some unknown space. Their familiarity suggests that they are everyday gadgets that adhere to the laws of physics, while the distortions imply two-dimensionality. The effect is that the works in Guns, Knives, Brass Knuckles occupy the no-man’s-land between 2-D and 3-D. Interestingly, we are constantly making the jump between 2-D media and the 3-D world, but never find ourselves between the two. That’s what makes Lazzarini’s work so unsettling.

In addition to the distortions Lazzarini performs, two other factors come together to make the work so provocative. First, the sculptures are made out of the model objects’ original materials, denying any representationalism and insisting that these sculptures really are the-thing-itself. For example, material translation, such as depicting muscle out of bronze, automatically places a sculpture outside the realm of the real and into that of art, where challenges tweaks and are familiar. Second, subtle canting of the walls like a Serra sculpture adds an additional level of instability. It is difficult to say precisely how the walls affected the way sculptures are viewed, but they certainly contributed to the effect that, in viewing the exhibit, one is present in a space where the laws of perception have been rewritten.

It is hard to avoid discussing violence after seeing “Guns, Knives, and Brass Knuckles,” but the exhebition is free of any political message. Even though the S&W .38 is one of the most popular police guns of all time, kitchen knives imply domestic violence, and it is hard not to identify street violence with brass knuckles, Lazzirini’s work steers clear of any narrative implications. In the context of the exhibition, the guns, knives, and brass knuckles become merely objects to observe and to ponder. Lazzarini’s intents are strictly formal, and it is difficult to attach any additional meaning to them (though that’s not to say no one at the exhibition wasn't trying). It is in this effort to challenge the boundaries of form and familiarity that Lazzarini finds success.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Swedish Vampires and Freud

Well... since I spent last night (and a good part of the early morning too, to my great dismay) writing a paper for my Literary & Cultural Theory class comparing Freud's famous 1919 essay "The Uncanny" to a Swedish vampire film from 2008 called Let the Right One In, or, more fittingly, Låt den Rätte Komma In (Scandinavian languages are the best!!), I figured I'd blog about it. And frankly, there hasn't been quite enough fire to borrow around here lately...

Though the film follows the development of a relationship between a young outcast named Oskar living in a suburb outside of Stockholm with his single mother and the pale, oddly-behaved androgynous child next door, Eli (who is soon revealed to be a vampire, and who is not really a girl... complicated stuff, folks) this is far from tween Twilight fare. John Adjvide Lindqvist's script touches upon much darker themes.

Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar (...could he look more Swedish, please?)

The delicate integration between the familiar and the unknown, which Freud delineates as an essential element of that which is "uncanny," emerges as a common trope throughout Let the Right One In. Visually speaking, there is a significant stillness and almost unnatural quietness to Alfredson’s filmic imagery; in the utterly frozen landscape shots, waning wintry light and forthright, frank depictions of would-be grisly murder acts (without the use of the usual dramatic “horror-movie-esque” heavy brass chords announcing danger).

I won't give anything else away, but suffice it to say that you should see this film, even if you aren't a foreign-movie buff or a slasher film aficionado. It's not gruesome or terrifying but it does harness a definite eerie-ness, and can be looked at as a love story, a coming-of-age allegory, a subtle cultural criticism, you name it... Alfredson's juxtapositions of light with dark, tenderness with violence, familiar and unfamiliar result in a work of art that demonstrates the uncanny in its most beautiful sense. Not to mention, the two young leads are phenomenal.

Lina Leandersson as Eli, Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar

Below, a link to the official trailer-- which I must say, makes the film look a great deal more like a horror film than it actually is (in my humble opinion). Enjoy!

...and a link to Freud's essay, "The Uncanny," just in case you have a LOT of time on your hands and/or are interested in psychology...

Fun fact: the title of the film, which is based on Lindqvist's novel of the same title, apparently came from the Morrissey song "Let the Right One Slip In," which refers to the legend that vampires must be invited into homes before they can enter (this concept is explored in probably the most disturbing scene in the film). Good ol' Moz... inspiring Scandinavian cinema and whatnot.