• photography by CARYS HUWS

    Solange’s Performance Piece at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

    Written by Yasmine Mubarak by Fashion Tales

    With the iconic interior of Frank Lloyd Wright at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Solange detracted and confidently filled the space with her own contemporary performance piece, An Ode To. An art installation of movement and expression where she used herself and the attendees as the medium on themes from her recent album, A Seat at the Table, a music script of personal and universal inquiries.

    As a part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival in New York this late spring, she had one of the most respected art institutions to show An Ode To, a creative statement that will encouraging further representation in the art world for musicians, especially black female musicians. Popularly, merging the pop-culture with the contemporary art scene.

    The limited number of guests, dressed in all-white looks, as per requested by the artist, presumably to have them be a part of the piece in the stark white spiraling venue. The documentation we see becomes a unity and strengthens the visual documentation of Solange’s performance, in the first gaze you cannot distinguish between the dancer and observer which I conclude is part of the realization. The audience were treated to a piece which comprehended modern dance choreography to a live set ensemble playing unrivaled funk, soul and R&B.

    Performance art has for decades inspired and captured the eyes of art enthusiasts, Meredith Monk and Marina Abramović being two of the most recognizable. Yet, it is in modern times, artists have really merged with the contemporary music scene, catching the eye of the mainstream. Marina Abramovic and Antony Hegarty, and The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhols famed 1967 performance, Exploding Plastic Inevidable, for example. Yoko Ono and Lady Gaga are two very prominent proclaimed performance artists. For these artists who have paved the way, performance art has been able to show the astonishing quality it has, a role that has had the chance to enter the mainstream.

    In a timeline where we have been captured and amazed with performance artist Vanessa Beecroft installations, she has received the light beyond the art world network once her work united with the music sphere and fashion collection Yeezy season 1-3 at New York Fashion Week together with Kanye West. The worlds of art have always collided, but nowadays, with greater access to information and a daily influx of visual and audio impressions, the mainstream can embrace the unconventional more and more. Beecroft’s previous installations using the human bodies, creating her army have become an inspiration, not only for Kanye West and Solange, but other music and fashion designers. Not to mention, the work of Meredith Monk, the first to use the rotunda for a performance, a tradition that has been ongoing since the late 60’s.

    An Ode To have been critical acclaimed for its creativity and pureness, unfortunately we can simply witness it through photographs and film. Nevertheless, that is one of the glories of performance art; it lives in the present of the artwork itself and is infrequently at its best when it gets reproduced through documentation such as photographs and video. Peggy Phelan, a scholar in performance studies, emphasizes that performance can’t be saved, recorded or documented; once it does so, it becomes something other than performance art. (1993,146) An Ode To, had a no-cellphone policy, which I conclude made the guests alive to fully engage in the experience from start to finish to live in the moment and embrace the art piece.

    Being able to enter the high art institutions such as Guggenheim, it’s a movement that has been developing over decades. And now recently, the MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art in New York City) has initiated various events the past years inviting more than 750 artists, including pop artists Solange, Jamie XX, and Grimes. And with their Party in the Garden, held in the MoMA’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, an annual event that takes place in the beginning of June, included musicians James Blake and Kaytranada. This merge gives performers and contemporary artists a bigger arena and show their work to a larger audience.

    It is apparent that more musicians are seeking diverse forms of performance that captures a broader audience; movement, design, installations et al.

    Solange performance piece has definitely been given a seat at the table.

    Source Peggy Phelan statement:
    Peggy Phelan, Unmarked: The Politics of Performance, Psychology Press, 1993

    photography by KRISANNE JOHNSON
    photography by STACY KRANITZ
  • Interview with Mihoko Ogaki

    Written by Marie Brunnberg

    Edited by Jörgen Axelvall

    Mihoko Ogaki creates a galaxy of life and death

    There are a lot of emotions represented and evoked in Mihoko Ogaki´s artwork - all feelings you can imagine in a life, if you ask her.
    She has just finished her exhibition: “Threshold” at Ken Nakahashi, Tokyo, and the latest installation of her “Milky Way” series.
    Her art reminds us about our mortality; that death and life are one, memento mori, memento vivere.

    It´s the daily life that has inspired her the most. Ogaki herself has struggled for life; she has survived cerebral bleeding. When you look at her artwork, it’s as if you understand something, but it’s hard to define what. Her installation with lights from inside an elder man’s body, it’s beautiful and terrible at the same time. She brings the observer on her own inner journey about her view of life and death.

    MB: Can you tell me about your exhibition Threshold, that you have just finished.
    MO: “Threshold” exhibited works from my “Milky Way” Series of three-dimensional works. Placed in a pitch-dark room, it resembles an aged man, with innumerable holes on the surface as a metaphor for the number of emotions a man embodies in a lifetime. A built-in light source illuminates the work, shining through the holes like stars, also projecting a galaxy on the surrounding ceiling and walls.

    MB: What response did you get?
    MO: I'm glad that many viewers took long moments to appreciate the work.

    MB: Tell me about these glowing sculptures you show? Who are they?
    MO: They do not resemble specific men I know, but somebody of my imagination in the form of elderly people.

    MB: What feelings are involved in these models?
    MO: All emotions a person feels through time, ever since he or she was born. From joy, sorrow, envy, to relief… every single emotion that there could be.

    MB: Tell me a little about your background. Where did you grow up and with whom?
    MO: I was born in Toyama prefecture. I attended high school in Kanazawa and college in Nagoya. Then I moved to Düsseldorf in Germany. Now I live in Ibaraki prefecture. I've met and spent time with many people in many places.

    MB: You have survived cerebral bleeding. In what way has it changed you?
    MO: My surgeon told my family that he had damaged a vein during a procedure and that I might become brutal, but I actually became calmer than before. My husband was surprised and said I turned gentle as a Buddhist monk. I feel positive all the time now.

    MB: Why do you want to work as an artist?
    MO: I had created ever since I was a child, so I have never doubted my living as an artist.

    MB: You have graduated with a major in oil painting, but you use a lot of different kind of materials in your art, especially sound and light, did you change plans on the way?
    MO: I do use many different techniques, in different dimensions, in videos and in performances, but all I am doing is selecting the form that suits the image I wish to create.

    MB: You have studied in Aichi Prefectural University, Japan and German National Kunstakademie in Germany; where did you develop the most and why?
    MO: I believe I developed the most in Kunstakademie. Given much time as a student, I thought hard and created many pieces.

    MB: What cultural differences have you experienced in the art world between Asia and Europe?
    MO: Food!

    MB: What are you going to do this summer?
    MO: I am planning to visit Germany and Italy to see Kassel Documenta, Munster Sculpture Project, and Venezia Biennale.

    MB: Any favorite artist you like more than others?
    MO: I like Kiki Smith, Joel-Peter Witkin and Kazuo Ohno.

  • "Confluence" by Tina Berning and Michelangelo Di Battista

    Written by Solène Le Bars

    German artist Tina Berning started her career designing album covers for the music industry. Soon, however, she began to concentrate on her own picture worlds, found her expression in art, and quickly become an illustrator in high demand worldwide. Her work has been published in renowned anthologies. She has contributed work to advertising campaigns for clients such as Mercedes-Benz, Tiffany and Co., Shiseido…, and her work regularly appears in publications such as the New York Times, Architectural Digest and Vogue Italia.

    Italian photographer Michelangelo Di Battista, early in his fashion career traveled internationally for his numerous fashion and advertising assignments. The dedication and passion towards his craft has attracted some of the fashion and beauty industries most prestigious names including Versace, Moschino, Guerlain, Clarins, L’Oreal, Givenchy, Nina Ricci, Lacoste, Tod’s and Hugo Boss, to name but a few. He has contributed to some of the world’s most prominent publications across the globe including Italian Vogue, German Vogue, Japanese Vogue, Chinese Vogue & Harpers Bazaar. 

    Since they met in 2007 for a photo shoot for Italian Vogue, Tina Berning and Michelangelo Di Battista have created unique artworks that blur the boundaries between photography, illustration, painting and crafts. Instead of subjecting Di Battista’s photography to digital image processing, Berning expands analog on the images with drawings and texts, by scratching, painting or even weaving the surface. Working individually in different countries, together they create a shared universe. The title of their exhibition at Fotografiska, Confluence, refers to the flowing together of two creative streams.

    Would you please explain the title “Confluence” of your Fotografiska exhibit, taking place from June 2nd until August 27th. , and describe what it explores? 
    MDB: It is the confluence of two different techniques, and two different way to express one's creativity. 
    TB: The portraits are photos, illustrations and paintings in one. The idea is to underline the beauty of the models shown in a photo, all of whom have been reworked by hand without using digital technology. 
    MDB: It is the sense of two different points of view of different aesthetic experiences and suddenly mixed together. We merged them and it came out like something unexpected.

    How many pieces are displayed in this exhibition?
    MDB: Twenty-eight works are on display in the exhibition. The show is of only unique pieces, some of them are recent and some other from 2010; our first exhibition we made in Berlin at Camera Work Gallery. The general idea was to show pieces that we collected together because they have been only shown once. 
    TB: And when we were invited to exhibit in Stockholm, we thought about doing something to get connected to the museum. So Michelangelo had a shooting last January with Swedish models and here, one corner is dedicated to these girls. 

    Do you work individually in different countries or together? 
    MDB: I live in London, she lives in Berlin.  
    TB: There are two separate working processes too. He does the pictures and then I received them and create my layers. 

    What are your separate roles?
    TB: This project is about creating new works out of existing ones. I use his photos as a template for my interpretations. I’m seeking to surprise the observer and highlight the multi-faceted nature of female beauty. It’s an honor to have the chance to leave my comments and traces on Michelangelo’s beautiful photos by scratching their surfaces, adding layers of paint or cutting them to pieces. 
    MDBI just love to see what Tina adds to my photographs, how she interprets them with her skillful and artistic creativity. Whether it’s with thick charcoal lines, colorful woven ribbons, texts or something completely different.

    Michelangelo, did you shoot photos for this joint project in a different way? 
    MDB: Definitely! Models are like always quite playing. It is more about the position of head, very simple in a way, so then when Tina creates her layers over it, they meet together. I know that when I shoot photos for this joint project I compose them in a different way; the photograph functions as her canvas. 

    Tina, are you scared sometimes of ruining Michelangelo’s photos? 
    TB: It’s a challenge! I only have one print and that’s the deal. If I do something and it doesn’t turn out how I wanted it then I have to react on it. It’s the process of being absolutely focused. There’s no deception. I haven’t hidden anything, you can see everything I’ve done. The splurges of paint or black and grey dust. Each picture has a challenge to support, interpret, explore and annotate what Michelangelo had captured before. And this is what I like. The end result is a whole different picture and product. It’s sometimes minimal things to do but suddenly the whole expression of the pictures changes. 

    You predominantly add layers of pink and red paint, why?
    TB: For one main reason. It comes from reacting from the black and white.

    Do you make sketches before?
    TBYes. I get the file of the photos before so I always know what I’m working with. I think about a concept. Sometimes, I have hung them up during 3 weeks on my wall, walked around and started getting a relationship with the pictures. When you know you only have one chance; it’s exciting when I start and I like this.  

    It must have been interesting to see people react to your collaboration? 
    TB: It is very important to have direct contact with audience. When we are working for clients we have only limited audience because when you’re booked they only call you when they like your work. 
    MDB: Or a specific image they have seen related to what they looking for. It’s very contaminated in the way of their choices. 
    TB: So when you have an exhibition, like ours in Berlin and now in Stockholm, you can get a feedback quite a few times and people didn’t know me of course,  so I was listening every discussion which was so funny because people there were totally enthusiastic or bored or whatever by some pieces, it was really interesting to hear spontaneous comments.