• photo by @ambeessa on instagram

    Frank Ocean at Way Out West

    Written by Blenda Setterwall Klingert by Fashion Tales

    I will never forget Way out west 2012, standing on one of the infinite rooftop parties, when the crowd suddenly went silent. One of the hosts had gotten hold of a microphone and, as if announcing someone’s death said, “We have just received news that Frank Ocean has cancelled his performance tonight.” The announcement was followed by a loud, collective cry of disappointment and actual sadness. For the rest of the party, small talk and speculation about Frank’s health and happiness was the given ice-breaker. And those who had missed the viral success of Channel Orange had become curious about who this Frank Ocean character was where wondering for the last time. Over the following years, Channel Orange became a modern classic - and t-shirts reading, “FRANK OCEAN IF YOURE READING THIS, WHERE’S THE ALBUM” were printed in anticipation.

    Since then, we’ve watched him grow and conquer so much, developing into a truly original presence in the industry. The minutes before he enters the stage we turn into the same crowd we were five years ago, “the Way Out West audience” is who we are and we were let down once before. Frank Ocean at WOW in 2017 has a parable of the prodigal son vibe from start. As if as long as he appears and stays with us for a while everything and anything will be forgiven, and we’ll be ready to shower him in all the love we’ve stored up. And he does show up. And he shows us he’s vulnerable, thanking us for supporting him while he gets the hang of it, playing to an audience again. He stops the music for do-overs a few times and comments on his own voice breaking. Wearing headphones, and a white T-shirt with a quote by the English comedian/actor Marcus Brigstocke on the back that read “Computer games don’t affect kids, I mean, if Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music”. Frank Ocean has more than once before sported statement T-shirts (hence the T-shirt jokes from his fans), like the famous one that read “WHY BE RACIST, SEXIST, HOMOPHOBIC, OR TRANSPHOBIC WHEN YOU COULD JUST BE QUIET”, and the time he stepped out next to Kendall Jenner in a plain-looking striped one that just had “maintain the mystery” printed on his chest.
    And the mystery remains intact as he keeps gazing down at his Nikes, but we really are all there to support him, grateful and humble that the introvert genius managed to defy whatever demons he’s been up against. Like typical soccer moms, we already know what he’s capable of and will oversee any mishap. But we hardly need to, the music and his voice that everyone has a private relationship with, puts us under his spell.

    Ocean sticks mostly to songs from the 2016 BLONDE album, consisting of mainly soft atmospheric keyboard tunes, and then breaks it off with a few older hits. Singing along to “Thinkin’ bout you”, an experience we were deprived of in 2012, really was the perfect team building experience for the audience on the festival’s first night. When whirling clouds in shifting colours are projected in the air above us, the universe that Frank’s body of work has created encircles us completely and I only wish he’d sang Pilot Jones at some point to ensure us that, “if I got a condo on a cloud, then I guess you can stay at my place”.

  • 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.