• “Hostess”, 2018 by Rebecca Ackroyd


    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    For the sixth year in a row, the Frieze art fair has created a showcase of contemporary art in the middle of Regent’s Park. However, this autumn Frieze London has had a female-centric agenda, emphasising female artists in the contemporary context. The visitors could both discover new artists and rediscover those who had fallen off the radar, explore something more in-depth and experiential.

    Nevertheless, the main course of the fair has still been aimed at the dealer booths and the wide array of art for sale, the theme of female visibility has acquired a new highlighted ideological perspective. In 1971 the American art historian Linda Nochlin wrote in her legendary essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” that “the question of women’s equality—in art as in any other realm—devolves not upon the relative benevolence or ill-will of individual men, nor the self-confidence or abjectness of individual women, but rather on the very nature of our institutional structures themselves and the view of reality which they impose on the human beings who are part of them.” Celebrating the centenary of women´s suffrage this year, Britain has also celebrated the female artistic achievements and their concomitants, which have challenged the established stereotypes in the social structures of the art world.

    While entering Peres Projects’ exhibition space, the visitors could observe a woman sitting on the floor with the face turned away. Soon one would discover that the face is nothing more than an empty black hole, causing an ambivalent combination of the personal and the alien somewhere inside oneself, followed by a laughter and a fear. There is, according to artist herself, a reflection of a layered identity, where the personal and the abstract seem to be in a constant emotional battle with each other.

    The Cuban artist Glenda León, represented by the Galería Juana de Aizpuru (Madrid, Spain), offered the audience a slice of C International Photo Magazine as her work “Fragmented readings II”, formed in a cake served on a classic pedestal with a glass lock over it.

    The London gallery Pilar Corrias, run by Pilar Corrias, who offers 65 percent of the art space to female artists, featured works by such female artists as Sophie von Hellermann, Cui Jie, Helen Johnson, Koo Jeong A, Tala Madani, Sabine Moritz, Christina Quarles, Mary Ramsden and Tschabalala Self.

    In parallel with the Frieze London art festivity, Swedish artists have tempted the public by a cogent installation group called Fashion Speaks “Sisterhood”, designed and produced by the Belarussian-born Sweden-based artist L Christeseva, consisting of discarded toiles — prototype garments, collected from the prominent Swedish designers. The installations would make the audience wonder what sisterhood means for each of us coming from different cultures and families in particular, as well as for us –- women –- today in general? Based on a personal story of her own, the artist could illustrate how a fashion garment becomes an emotional symbol that provides a way to learn how to unite and support each other. When being a little girl during the World War II, her mother had to wait for one of her sisters to come home from school to be able to wear the only dress all the sisters shared in order to go to school herself, while the other sisters would wait for her to return.

    The exhibition Fashion Speaks Sisterhood was brought to London in order to support the international project Artdom, upheld by the Embassy of Sweden in London and curated by the Goodwill ambassador of Swedish National Committee for UN Women Arghavan Agida, who by means of art seeks to build bridges between Iranian and Swedish female artists.

    Revealing an intellectual deepness, framed by the institutional weakness of recognizing the full creative potential and conspicuous importance of the female art, the women at the art fair have sincerely displayed their outstanding artistic talent, grinded by hard work, surrounded by cultural-ideological biases and inadequacies. Frieze London might have bestowed them an opportunity to face up to the reality of their history in order to re-construct their future in the art world.

                   “Fragmented readings II” by Glenda León
                             “Feel'd”, 2018 by Christina Quarles

    Installation view “Fashion Speaks Sisterhood” by L. Christeseva

    Photography by Erica Bergmeds


    Installation view “Fashion Speaks Sisterhood” by L. Christeseva

    Photography by Erica Bergmeds

  • Photography: Annika Sundvik


    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    On August 25, L. Christeseva, Belarusian-born Swedish artist, launched a new project, ’Fashion Speaks’, which was running through Fashion Week 2018 in Stockholm. The artist placed a number of toile-dress sculptures at various locations in Stockholm, letting those evolve from orange to pink, then transforming to off-white and finally fluctuating to white and red. Why would the artist do something like this?

    The toiles of L.Christeseva were previously exhibited at The Army Museum (2016), the residency of the US Ambassador (2016), the Nordic Museum (2017), the Bergman Center located on the island of Fårö (2018) and many other places in Sweden. Constituting different versions of garments made to test a pattern, these toiles have been recycled from different designers and placed on stage by the artist L. Christeseva in order to solve artist’s main concern about her cultural identity. That concrete ‘reincarnation’ of cultural identities seeks to tell different stories by women, about women, for women – and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, the main purpose is to raise the question ‘What makes woman a woman?’ and invite the audience to answer it from an individual cultural perspective.

    What makes woman a woman?’ is a main concern of L. Christeseva, who many years ago moved from the patriarchal culture of Belarus to the feminist society of Sweden. Toiles for L. Christeseva is a material to share her own story as a woman and as an artist. They are a certain embodiment of how the artist has experienced her own identity both personally and culturally. It is a complex matrix extending through many dimensions, and which is not possible to be finished with – recycling, re-forming, re-configuring, re-thinking. Thus toiles, which are usually thrown away in the fashion world, become an important artistic medium to speak about processes of construction, transformation, and learning.

    The project ‘Fashion Speaks’ is designed to extend and to enhance the perception of fashion further as an expression of individual identity by using the toiles as a remedy for creating a platform for socio-political discourses around femininity. Contrasting conceptually and ideologically with the concept of the established Fashion Week, which runs in Stockholm since 2005, ‘Fashion Speaks’ aims to disrupt the current paradigm of the phenomenon of Fashion Week by using fashion as a tool for spreading awareness of important social and political issues and helping to find resources for creating solutions. L.Christeseva claims that ‘The toiles placed in a different context in this case become a symbol, where the past and future create an interlacement, giving rise for the discourse. Today, when we are used to seeing things in black and white, we need to talk, to discuss, to listen and to hear. I use fashion to speak and to make us speak out.’

    On August, 25, the artist dressed her sculptures in orange and placed them around the city of Stockholm: Rålambshovsparken in Kungsholmen, Rosendals Trädgård, Elite Hotel Arcadia, Dansmuseet/Drottninggatan, Arméemuseum, and Norrmalmstorg 6, to mark the Orange Day together with UN Women Sverige and MeToo Sweden. The artistic idea behind the persistent fashion message was to use fashion as a tool for bringing violence against women around the world to an end.

    A couple of days later, the dresses turned into the pink silhouettes, where the colour, charged with ambivalence of pureness and oppression, might often be considered as a secondary colour for a second sex on the one hand. This interpretation is, on the other hand, strongly rejected by the millennials, who see this colour as an infinite trend. The artistic approach here was directed to break the stereotypical rhetoric of the colour and redirect the audience from its superficiality towards alternative interpretations in order to strength the femininity without turning it into a sign of weakness.

    Later, L. Christeseva would turn her creations with aid of the colour of red and white into an elegant and adorable message, bestowing a vigorous effect to the eyes and mind. As Ingmar Bergman once said, the colour creates ‘the interior of the soul’. Bergman interpreted red as a symbol of the female womb, or the source of both life and sexuality. Standing in contrast with red, the colour of white is strongly linked to divinity and faith. Together these colours create a deeply emotional picture, giving rise to a number of new interpretations and feelings. Dressing the toiles in red and white was the artist’s way of paying a tribute to Ingmar Bergman, who brought the image of a strong woman on the stage and often illustrated it by dressing his actresses in red and white on the screen.

    Inspired by August Strindberg, Bergman developed and completed the image of the modern woman, which Strindberg started to build in literature, into a postmodern persona with a deep intellectual side and strong emotional power. Strindberg’s women had to struggle with the social context as much as they had to deal with their feelings, while Bergman’s women stay face to face with their inside, fighting against own fears and weaknesses, looking for their true self. What does fashion give to women today? What does it take from women? Do they have their freedom and will to power? What can fashion do for women today? These issues we wish to be integrated into the contemporary content of fashion, where a fair play can start in reality, without staying an illusion of the latter.

    Interestingly, that the artist always returns to herself and her own story, developing new concepts of works. This kind of u-turn to the original state, where the toiles appeared on stage as they initially were, naked and voiceless, is necessary for each of us before we make a step outside ourselves. Our backgrounds and our cultural differences constitute the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

    After receiving an incredible perception in Stockholm, the project ‘Fashion Speaks’ is on the runway through cultural borders now. It will be interesting to follow what colours and what media the artist will address while bringing her works on stage in Turkey on October, 29. How should the different concepts beyond cultural boundaries really be interpreted? Can we find a way to a mutual understanding of our multi-faceted perception in fashion and art?

    Get inspired, create awareness and extend the perception of fashion beyond identity together with the artist on www.fashionspeaks.se.

    Photography: Anna Sundström

    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    Directed by Jahwanna Berglund

    Beauté Pacifique has an intellectual approach to the skin care, where engineering and dermatology have during last twenty years created a unique concept, educating their consumers. Transparency skilfully integrated into the innovation strategy of the company, bestows the consumer with an opportunity not just to access their products but to understand their own skin, almost turning their bathroom cabinet into a laboratory. We have interviewed Beauté Pacifique’s CEO Flemming K. Christensen about his approach to the business and the company’s realtionship with their customers.

    The story of your business is quite unique because you approached the beauty industry from outside but with a great sense of engineer innovation. What made you enter the cosmetic field and what was the most challenging when you just started your path in 1997?
    In 1986 I was co-founding a new high-tech company on the basis on a prototype ultrasound scanner for imaging the skin in-vivo. The idea of such an instrument came from a Danish dermatologist looking for more modern diagnostic techniques. Until then it was not possible to see the inside details of the skin because all existing ultrasound scanners were built to look much deeper into the body and could not show details in a thin surface of the body i.e. the skin.

    This prototype was derived from the field of testing materials in which the need for detection of microscopic cracks is evident. The new scanner for skin was made at first to measure the thickness of skin tumours in vivo – an information needed for planning the depth for the surgical removal of the tumour. As the scanners became known by dermatologists all over the world many more skin pathologies were examined successfully by this new modality. Now, when scanning a diseased skin the surrounding healthy skin is always used as a reference and by looking at thousands of scans I and many dermatologists discovered that healthy skin has many ”faces” and even the skin’s status of aging and sun damage could be clearly seen by this machine!

    Then I came up with the idea: What if we could develop skin care products so effective that the scanner could show the improvement and document that the skin was evidently brought to a status of less sun damage and a structure like in a younger person? This dream had to be realised and it came through when we developed the Crème Métamorphique – our very first anti-age creme based on vitamin-A esters and squalene as the nanometric delivery system. (A Beauté Pacifique patent)

    You were once advised to pick a French name for your brand. Why Beaute Pacifique?
    The delivery system we use to transport the active ingredients deeply into the skin was first found in Japanese sharks – caught for food in the Pacific Ocean. Now we can get squalene for special olive types but we like the idea of our brand name to state: Beauty from the Pacific Ocean.

    You have a scientific approach with a great doze of transparency to the products you create, do you physically participate in the creative process, at least at the first stage when you discuss what product you need to produce?
    The creative process is still my passion and I like to look at a skin problem as an engineer and then use all my energy to find ways to solve this problem. Today we have chemists and pharmacists in our team and so we can comply with all the complicated EU safety precautions. Innovations often appear when the voices of the consumers are heard and combined with the new findings in science - and it is still a task for the engineer to combine scientific knowledge with the customers’ true needs.

    Helena Christensen has been a Goodwill-ambassador of Beauté Pacifique. But do you work with any influencers today (bloggers)? If yes, could you describe on what premises you decide who to collaborate with?
    We have an excellent Cooperation with the Danish actress Julie Zangenberg as our ”Face” and we also work with a number of Bloggers and beauty editors. We do not expressly require certain qualifications but we try our best to keep our communications in accordance with pharmacological science and try to avoid un-substantiated political and those negative to the field of Cosmetics in general.

    What do you think the beauty industry is lacking today?
    I miss that the authorities in the EU-countries officially abstain from political missions and support all the many well-meaning companies that strictly follow the rules put into force by the same authorities. I am disappointed that when some politically based ”Consumer Councils” can freely preach their messages and form opinions whereby innocent consumers become afraid of the word chemistry with no science behind. It makes me sad that the Authorities let this go on and stay silent whereby the consumers can be severely mislead and the Authorities lose valuable creditability.

    Could you please describe how artificial intelligence (AI) helps and affects your business today?
    This question is difficult to answer because much AI is going on invisibly below the surface. We use cookies but at this time we are still novices in this field and midget customers by GOOGLE etc. I believe we are both victims and winners in this aspect and our staff is developing our skills to match the demands for survival of the fittest. So the truth is that we look at this but we are looking around but find no safe heavens. Anyway we truly believe that our customers are our best friends and as long as we provide the right and honest products as is our philosophy then we are OK and our business can expand from there.

    What happens to the beauty industry in 10 years? What kind of products are we going to use? Do you think plastic surgery will be passé?
    Ten years is a long time frame. I think the trade will be strongly influenced by major players such as Amazon on the WEB and the likes. I see already that price competition is killing many smaller players (Doors) and this is inevitable. On the other hand we are determined to stick to our USP is using the scanner to show the customers how their skin is doing as the “Before”-status and then later show the improvements as the “AFTER”. I firmly believe this is the right way for us to work and this is how we really struggle to prescribe the right products for the individual needs. This way/ the principle will survive and by doing so we will have a place in the hearts and minds of the intelligent and critical consumers at all times. Anyway my attitude is optimistic and I believe that we as humans will always reach out for help to maintain a healthy looking skin as a parameter of good quality of life.