Tuesday, February 26, 2008
We arrived Saturday night to Tangiers for one week. For M, this is work (hopefully with some time off at the end), installing an exhibition in connection with the Salon du Livre Tanger. I have been taking in the sights and smells of this town in a slow and delightful way, aided by generous friends who live here or are here for the salon and know the ins and outs of this city.
With an arabic keyboard and no USB chord to download photos this is a brief entry with more to follow...and lots of photos: Tangier seems endlessly photogenic. I cant stop making simple comparisons between Tangier and some mid sized Mexican city. There is some real connection, aesthetically and fundamentally. Would love to know if some study had been made on this.
Highlights so far include Cinematheque Tangier: the incredible restoration project undertaken by the photographer Yto Barrada and her husband, writer and actor Sean Gillete is absolutely stunning. With precise attention to detail inside and out, this art deco building in central Tangier has been brought back to life with a cafe and two film theaters which present excellent films that range from arab to european to american to avant garde artists. Chek out their website, listed on my suggested sites.
Just next door is the Darna workshop, a womens weaving cooperative with restaurant and boutique, profits of which go to support the women and organization..obviously I went a bit shopping crazy there.
The Salon du Livre is a once a year event; this year organized by the writer and translator Omar Berrada. Lectures; roundtables and readings on a variety of subjects willl take place beginning tomorrow. Lastly, The Food: amazing... like Mexican food, spice filled, flavorful and combinations of sweet and salty...cannot stop taking pictures of the spice baskets filled skyhigh with paprika, saffron and cumin. Enough said. sorry for typos/
Friday, February 22, 2008
I wrote about Yahia Ouled-Moussa's boutique in the 17th awhile back, but wanted to re-present his work again, adding some images and more details. Paris based designer, Yahïa Ouled-Moussa, www.yoming.fr, has a way with reinventing old clothing or fabrics into funky and functional design objects. He studied interior architecture in Paris, but it was through a job with a French cabinet-maker who specialized in restoring period furniture where he developed his passion for furniture and design. Ouled-Moussa transforms sturdy, vintage French linens, army sacks or antique porcelain tea sets into stylish smocks, small sitting stools, and bound sculpture. Yoming, 95, rue Nollet, 75017 Paris. www.yoming.fr
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The other part of my Pompidou journey took me through a very fast tour of the permanent collection galleries, which I had not seen in a long time. I chose to run through the post 1960s area and was struck by a number of fantastic works from the somewhat nefarious artistic movements of the 1960s-1970s, by European artists who I was not familiar with previously. This installation (1972-1974) by the Israeli artist Yaacov Agam, who was born in 1928, was commissioned by and part of the Elysee Presidental Palace for then President Georges Pompidou. It includes carpet, zigzag patterned wall coverings, colored glass reflecting panels and a metal sculpture. When Valerie Giscard D'Estang took over, the piece was removed and given to the museum. This exact re-installation demonstrates that Pompidou must have had groovy tastes and probably had some fun parties.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
"The Anxious: Five Artists Under the Pressure of War," is a small exhibition on view now at the Pompidou Center. The show displays work by five, younger generation artists, (i.e. under 45), who have lived with, or are still living under the threats and pressures of war and instability, and choose to deal with these issues in their work. Photography and video are the mediums of choice--for a variety of reasons I imagine...documentation, a closer reality, a medium that reaches far and wide and is reproducible. In any event, the artists include, Yael Bartana, Omer Fast, Rabih Mroue, Ahlam Shilbli and Akram Zaatari. Politics in art is a difficult subject to navigate without being pedagogic, documentary or just totally dry. Some of the work on view leans towards that direction, but it is an ambitious and informative exhibition and it is important to give proper notice to this genre of art which is developing more, for obvious reasons, and as such filling in gaps in the global contemporary art world. I think in Europe they are more on the mark with presenting these types of exhibitions, then in the US, and one can only hope that will change soon. www.centrepompidou.fr
Friday, February 15, 2008
On view at Galerie Chantal Crousel is an exhibition of work by Mona Hatoum, her first show in Paris in 13 years. The exhibition consists of six sculptural works and several works on paper that surround subjects of domesticity, security, warmth and opposing forces such as war, fighting, harshness, which are themes that typically surround her work. The work is good and not overly dramatic, which is an occasional tendancy in her work (in my opinion). Upon entering the gallery the first piece is a beautifuly display of hand-blown colored glass objects that on closer inspection are seen to be replicas of hand grenades. Another favorite is Misbah, a hanging metal latern typical of Moroccan or Mexican artisans with cutouts, but in lieu of the usual circles and squares, here are silhouettes of soliders holding machine guns. The room is darkend and a light from within the latern casts shadows of these figures around the space. The exhibition is up thru March 1st. Galerie Chantal Crousel,10, rue Charlot. www.crousel.com.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I am lifting this post from an email I received from Appellation Wine Store, www.appellationnyc.com on 10th Avenue and 20th street in NYC. I have always been interested in Rudolph Steiner and this small statement I found to be worth sharing....(btw, they are talking about a Patianna Mendicino Syrah from 2004 in relation to Steiner)...
...Rudolph Steiner would be proud. But who was Mr. Steiner?
We often mention the creator of Biodynamic farming, only to describe him as a turn of the Century Austrian philosopher, but he had a fascinating résumé. Steiner was a sculptor, a playwright and an architect. Also, the Waldorf pedagogy method that blends artistic with intellectual elements, and emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning, was his idea. Further, Steiner was instrumental in developing Anthroposophic medicine which includes homeopathic principles, physical and artistic therapies intended to support the patient's capacity for self-healing.
One of his final achievements was indeed his lectures on agriculture which led to the basis for Biodynamics. In effect, the ultimate goals of his theories are for farms to become self-sustainable and to engage the non-physical beings and cosmic forces in the vineyard. Producers should generate all materials needed such as compost as well as time activities such as the planting of new vines or the application of dynamic preparations in relation to the movement of the moon and planets to maximize their effect.
We would agree that it could take a bit of “faith” to believe in, but a lot of it is common sense, as Kieran Burke, the owner of Patianna, explains: “The moon has an effect on the tides, so why can't it also have an effect on water in the leaves and sap in the plant?" After discovering Steiner’s teaching, Kieran and his wife Patti Fetzer Kieran, decided to strictly follow this farming philosophy. The estate is certified by Demeter.
They “dynamize” their vineyard with “homemade” compost, spray quartz rock powder on leaves to boost photosynthesis and plant cover crop between rows to stop erosion. Their detailed vineyard regimen results in a deep, powerful Syrah, filled with coffee, chocolate, plum notes. The wine would complement lamb or rich meat dishes perfectly. We believe Biodynamic viticulture produces better grapes which is the best argument in favor of Biodynamic techniques. Better grapes equals better tasting wines. All it takes is a little faith to try the wines.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
A series of recently discovered drawings by Francis Picabia are on view now at the Galerie 1900-2000, 8, rue Bonaparte, www.galerie1900-2000.com. The 15-20 ink on paper drawings were made as cover art for Litterature Magazine, a Dada inspired magazine founded in part by the legendary and (other) favorite Frenchy bad-boy, Andre Breton. Picabia, a French artist who helped found the Dada movement before turning to surrealism, was himself a notorious playboy. These personal qualities of the founders of Dada and surrealism make up the spirit of these movements and lend to its continuous intrique and appreciation. These drawings don't disappoint. They are wonderful examples of the time and representations of the interest in the psychological and the constant link between sex/art/life. A small catalogue with reproductions is also available.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Discover the smooth, sexy leather purses and wallets of Becksondergaard, a newish company from Denmark. Founded in 2003 by Lis Beck and Anna Sondergaard, the line of luxury leather handbags and smaller wallets and coin purses are all handmade using eel skin. Eel skin you might say to yourself, kinda surprised, but yes; eel skin and the texture is smmoth as butter. Colors range from classic black with brass trim to bright turquise and red to soft yellows and grays. The leather is truly sumptouos. Also available is a smaller line of scarves and accessories. Not yet sold in the USA, but they are scattered around Europe, including Paris; at Plagg Boutique, but you can order on their website as well. www. becksondergaard.com
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Ebano is a line of jewelry and some smaller furniture items, available in a boutique of the same name in the 18th arrondisement. The jewelry is what had stopped me each time I passed the small storefront at 27, rue Durantin. Very contemporary designs, smooth lines, simple yet bold shapes; large sized bracelets made from one piece of ebony wood with a trace line of silver running through it; or the ring shaped like a parallelogram that juts out into the air from your finger about 1 inch. Maybe takes awhile to get used to that, but its gorgeous. The designers, Milena Pesce and Hamath Sall, create a range of jewelry which is mostly all in ebony and silver, although there are some other woods available as well. Each piece on display is unique, but if you can also work with them to create the exact piece you want, or have them recreate a piece in your size. On the furniture front, available in the boutique were dark wood stools and tables, in some cases, enlarged versions of the some of the bracelets for sale.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Currently up the Kadist Art Foundation, www.kadist.org, in Montmartre is a project titled Societe Anonyme, which is in large part an installation/ bookstore of small press, art publications. Section 7 books was developed by writers/curators Thomas Boutoux and Francois Piron, along with artist Oscar Tuazon and art critic, Benjamin Thorzel. Societe Anonyme consists of Section 7 Books, as well as a series of lectures, presentations and events that will take place for the duration of the store. It is an expansion and continuation of a similar project mounted at the contemporary art space, Le Plateau in 2007. Organizers have brought together a sampling of fantastic books, catalogs and magazines that are rare finds, particulary in the French art/publication scene, and which are typically small edition sized productions. Included among them are the publication Dot Dot Dot, by Dexter Sinister, based in NYC, 16 beaver st. (NYC), b-books (Berlin), and tranzit (Prague). Throughout the exhibition/installation new books will be added and replaced. Paris is full of great art bookstores, but the group has entirely succeeded in bringing in alternative names to the scene, highlighting some interesting, independent projects happening across the globe. The project runs through March 16. Cash Only.
Friday, February 1, 2008
In the Guardian Book Review last Saturday there was a brief essay about Irmgard Keun, a German author who wrote mainly in the early-middle part of the last century. The title of the essay was "Bridget Jones of the 1930s," perhaps semi-trite of a title, but it relates directly to her female characters who struggled with career and life. In any event, it was a revelatory essay about a woman I had never heard of and look forward now to reading. Keun was born in Berlin in 1905 She began writing in 1920, after feeling defeated in her attempts to be an actress, and was soon printed worldwide, with titles such as "Gilgi,"(1931), "The Artifical Silk Girl," (1932), and "Child of All Nations,"(1938). Her subjects included the rising power and place of women during the war years, the reality of women feeling torn between seeking their own goals/desires and taking the required route of marriage and kids. Her work was subversive enough to cause unwanted attention and she was firmly anti-Nazi, so you see where the story goes...she was blacklisted, her books removed from the shelves and in 1936 she fled Germany. She continued to write in exile, during the late 1930s, a time in which she had left her husband and began living with the Austrian Jewish writer, Joseph Roth, up to his untimely death in 1939. After his death, she moved around quite a bit, including a brief time in America, but returned to Germany just before the end of the war, living very undercover. She continued to write after the war was over but she slipped into obscurity, in part because of a heavy problem with alcohol and hospitalization, until the 1970s when several European feminists, including the Nobel prize winning author, Elfriede Jelinek, rediscovered her work. She refused to ever write an autobiography and died in 1982 at the age of 77. The author of this essay, Michael Hofman, has translated one of her novels into English recently and he states firmly that had she been a man, her work would be in box sets and collected editions. As it is, they are not, but hopefully that will soon change.