Prometheus abortion pod + Disney “no women” letter = hardcore amazingness by Aleksandra Domanović at Glasgow International

Aleksandra Domanović’s show at GoMA in Glasgow is hardcore amazing.

It’s part of the Director’s Programme here at the Glasgow International, which officially opens tomorrow.

Domanović took objects from sci-fi movies that feature female protagonists, had them 3D rendered, then printed large on see-through strips.

Here’s that pod where she gives herself an abortion in Prometheus.

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But where there’s a spatter of blood in the film, Domanovic places instead a copy of a real life letter sent by Walt Disney Productions in 1938, saying that “Women do not do any of the creative work” at Disney.

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AMAZING.

More objects.

Here’s Joshua, the wheelchair robot from Demon Seed.

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Have never seen Demon Seed.

Now obviously obsessed with seeing Demon Seed.

The helmet from Gravity, with a feminised face of Tito inside it.

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The thingy from Aliens.

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The space station from Gravity.

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From it comes some apples.

Linking it back to the Snow White letterhead.

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Up the corner is a curated DVD library of sci-fi films with female protagonists.

Apparently they’re going to be available to borrow, though they haven’t yet worked out the nuts and bolts.

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So good.

Raining here in Glasgow.

Better than London’s pollution.

So much to see today.

Going to start with Jordan Wolfson.

Updates to follow…>

22 mins with Sarah McCrory, director of Glasgow International, the superhumanly amazing art festival opening this week

I am so excited to be heading up to Glasgow.

I’m off there for the opening of Glasgow International, the biennial art festival, which is under the new directorship of the unfeasibly amazing Sarah McCrory.

Sarah was responsible for the projects at Frieze a couple of years back.

She was responsible for getting DIS Magazine involved.

And Lucky PDF.

And Grizedale Arts.

And other such fabulosities.

I’ve known Sarah since she was doing her MA in curating at the Royal College of Art.

Hers is a curatorial process that’s inclusive, challenging, out-of-the-blue, and one that just feels right.

And I’m obsessed with Glasgow. I was there this time two years ago by chance, and loved the festival.

When I was in Mexico City the other week, I kept thinking about Glasgow. The two seem similar in my mind, in terms of places of solid and individual importance away from the perceived norm.

We’ve been meaning to talk for a couple of weeks, but I finally spoke with her yesterday – me in London, her in Glasgow. She was finishing installing one of the shows. I promised I only needed her for 22 minutes…

ME: Ohmygod

SARAH McCRORY: We’re actually speaking. Give me two seconds I’ll walk outside. One second.

[She goes outside, and we gossip for a couple of minutes off the record. She starts talking about the Glasgow International, and so I tell her I’ve started typing]

It’s nine shows to open tomorrow essentially. I don’t get anxious; I’m not an anxious person. No-one’s going to die, it’s only art. There’ve been a few moments this time where it’s like it’s not going to happen. But it’s going really well, the shows are looking really good.

Can you explain how the festival works?

There’s four strands the Director’s Programme are shows I’ve curated from scratch. This year for the first time, the festival has some of then main art spaces for me to curate some of the shows in. In the past, places like The Tramway and GoMA [Gallery of Modern Art] have curated their own shows during the festival

GoMA’s where Karla Black was last time, right?

Exactly, that was their show last time, and this time it’s my show. It’s great to have these huge spaces, maybe a little overambitious. And we’ve added the McLellan Galleries too [hey I was typing this and didn’t get the specifics down, but it’s essentially an old museum space that’s not been used for some while]. We’ve used it almost as we’ve found it, these beautiful empty museum rooms that are like a found space, with four solo shows in it.

The other parts of the festival are Across The City, where people can apply for a bit more money for work they’d otherwise be doing, then the Supported Programme for everyone else who’s applied and been selected to be part of the festival, and then Open Glasgow, for artists not as part of an organisation who want to do an exhibition. Those are the four main strands.

How did you decide what to put in your bit?

I decided not to do something fairly usual, which is to have a theme. I think if you chose the right exhibitions, who should be showing at the right time, it already feels relevant. I’ve tried to select artists who are very different in the way they practice. Michael Smith is really well known artist in the States who has been practicing for four decades. It’s kind of an honour to be able to show his work and his video pieces from across that time.

[He’s completely new to me and I’m super excited to see his work. Here’s Government Approved Fallout Shelter and Snack Bar, 1983,  by Michael Smith and Alan Herman, Castelli Graphics, NYC, © The Artist]

 GI 2014, Michael Smith and Alan Herman, Government Approved Fallout Shelter and Snack Bar, 1983

[His show in Glasgow is called Videos and Miscellaneous Stuff from Storage (Pt. 2), and is at Tramway from 4 April – 4 May. Here’s another work, Mike’s House, 1982, by Michael Smith, © The Artist]

GI 2014, Michael Smith, Mike's House, 1982

Then there’s someone like Aleksandra Domanović, who’s doing the main space at GoMA. I’m really interested in her practice. She works in new technology, and she’s interested in feminism through science and tech. She’s dealt with the space really well, with objects from science fiction films which she’s rendered in 3D computer rendering, and then printed on acetate. They’re really astounding. You may or may not recognise the objects, from Gravity, Prometheus.

OMG not the self-ceasarian machine!

The reason they can’t call it a caesarian in that film is they can’t say the word abortion. She’s taken the blood splatter off the glass and replaced with a copy of a letter from Disney. It’s a response to someone who’s asked to be a Disney art worker. The letter essentially says women can’t be art workers. They can’t actually draw for Disney, they’re only allowed to fill in.

Oh my god.

It’s a really interesting show. [I’ll post images of Domanović’s objects later in the week – her show is at GoMA from April 4 – 21. Here’s a work of hers from last year – Little Sister, 2013, courtesy of the artist and Tanya Leighton, Berlin]

GI 2014, Aleksandra Domanovic, Little Sister 2013

Overall there’s a diversity of different kind of artist practices that are being shown. Glasgow’s a city with a really strong art community and a great art school, and a lot of artists stay on here for obvious reasons – it’s affordable, there’s lots of space, it’s a really supportive community there’s lots of tech support… It means it’s interesting to bring in artistic voices that aren’t so much seen in the city. Someone like Jordan Wolfson. We’re not showing just one film, but eight films.

[OMG am totally obsessed with Jordan Wolfson. You’ve seen his animatronic that dances to Robin Thicke, on show at David Zwirner in NYC till April 19, right? It’s extraordinary – even made it into the Daily Mail…]

He’s having a pretty amazing time at the moment, and it’s good to be able to go back to his earlier work. We’ve got work from 2004, so there’s ten years of practice, and it shows what takes an artist like him to produce the animatronics. If you’re a young artist and you see a practice like Jordan’s, you’d find it overwhelming and wonder how do you get to that point, how do you get to that level of production and complexity. Some of his early works allow an insight into how he got there.

[Jordan is one of the artists on show at the McLellan Galleries, from April 4-21. Here’s a still from his 2011 video Animation, Masks, © the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London].

GI 2014, Jordan Wolfson, Animation, Masks, 2011 (video still)

[And another still, this one from 2009’s Con Leche, and installation view from Sadie Coles HQ]

GI 2014, Jordan Wolfson, Con Leche, 2019, Video Still

Then there’s Hudinilson Jnr. I saw a couple of pieces by him in an small group show in Sao Paolo. I was lucky enough to meet the artist for a small period of time, and we started working on the show. He sadly died last year, but with the help of his gallery we’re still showing.

[Here’s Collage No Title 03 by Hudinilson Jnr]

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It’s a really beautiful show, slightly homoerotic, elegant and personal, these sculptures he made out of his old clothes, everything has been produced with contingency, he didn’t have access… I don’t want to say he was poor…

He didn’t have money

But he used what was around him and that resulted in some really beautiful

I think it’s totally OK to say he had no money – it’s especially interesting this week with Phyllida Barlow at Tate Britain – for years she had no money to make sculpture so she used cheap materials that were around her.

It’s true it’s true that’s the root of her work. [Sarah and I have a chat about Phyllida for a while – we’re basically both obsessed].

I loved what you said about bringing new artistic voices to the city for the benefit of those that are studying there, and living there. It seems exactly what a festival should do, rather than try and get some work by blockbuster names.

Having that diversity of practices is hopefully generous, which is what a festival should be. All of the artists I think in the Directors Programme have a particular level of ambition in their work, which seems quite a broad statement, but whatever the work is like there’s a boldness and a quality. I’m biased obviously, I chose it, but its all fairly ambitious and bold.

OMG that’s 22 minutes…

[And here endeth our chat. It was fortuitous timing – another call was coming through on the line. Sarah said her goodbyes, and took the call].

AMAZING!

OK so I’m travelling up today, then tomorrow there’ll be full updates of updates of everything up in Glasgow. Click here etcetc for more info on the festival itself, jolly!

Gosha! Interview in Fantastic Man, a new mix for Oki-Ni, and a peek at his AW14 stuff too

Hey so a couple of months ago I went to St Petersburg to interview Gosha Rubchinskiy for Fantastic Man.

Which hit newsstands a couple of days ago.

Here’s the opening spread.

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It’s exactly the sort of interview I love doing.

Gosha has no PR, or organisation behind him.

I just sent him an email, he agreed to the piece, we arranged to meet, and that’s it.

Most interviews you know about their background, so your questions are like further work on top of someone else’s.

Aside from his work, I knew pretty much nothing of Gosha.

It was all there to be found out.

Gosha’s English has gotten really good recently. His choice of words is very specific and exact.

And I was really grateful for the effort he put into thinking in English for a whole day.

A very enjoyable experience.

You can read the piece in Fantastic Man, available now everywhere in the entire world or something.

And hey!

Here’s a mix that Gosha’s friend Zhit Vredno has done for Oki-Ni, posted last night I think, it’s super jolly… (click here for Gosha’s stuff itself on Oki-ni)

I’ve been meaning to post pics of Gosha’s AW14 stuff for ages.

I saw it in Paris back in January.

One of my favourite collections I saw throughout the whole season.

Gosha says in the interview how he likes to not do just one thing.

This current season is very accessible – Russian words over symbols on long-sleeved T’s etcetc.

Next season, it’s something else.

Like fake fur.

OMG obsessed with this jacket!

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So good.

More fake fur.

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And more.

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I mean basically what I’ll be wearing come whenever it goes in store.

Love the cord dungarees.

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A double-breasted jacket.

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The sweaters are amazing.

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Another.

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So good!

Is that it for our brief Gosha Rubchinskiy update?

Anyone else got anything to add?

No?

OK.

We’re done.

Phyllida Barlow’s immense new work at Tate Britain is overwhelmingly amazing. You have to go see

Phyllida Barlow’s new work ‘dock’ opened today in the Duveen Galleries of Tate Britain.

It’s overwhelmingly amazing, the best use of the space I can remember since Anthony Caro’s towers back in 1991 (and I was young then, not sure how I’d react to them now).

Some images.

The view as you enter.

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The back of that first block.

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Looking up.

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The back.

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A column of cardboard and tape.

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It reaches to the ceiling.

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The central pile.

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Above as you enter the next space.

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Bundles up high.

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I love slats of coloured wood.

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Purposeful collapse.

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At the end.

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The view from the very back.

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SO AMAZING.

And so personal.

Like it’s home.

You have to go see.

It’s at Tate Britain, for free, until 19 October.
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The V&A’s new show of Italian fashion focuses on “Glamour”. It’s actually super political

Later this week, the V&A opens its new show, The Glamour of Italian Fashion.

Which sounds like it’ll be all flounce.

It’s not.

Even before the show opens, it’s given me a total education in the origins of modern Italian fashion.

Origins the Italian fashion industry probably doesn’t talk about that much, because it’s about Italy post-Mussolini.

Here’s an image from the accompanying catalogue of Florence in February, 1946.

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Fashion was used as an industry to revive the nation, both home and abroad.

It’s an extraordinary story, and an important one for understanding Italian fashion today.

I met with the show’s curator, Sonnet Stanfill, the V&A’s curator of 20th century and contemporary fashion, to talk through it all. We’re in the V&A’s cafe, a pot of tea each, a scone for me. To begin, Sonnet gives some background: she’s American, with a retail background, so she has a very specific take on curating, with an interest in the business of fashion. She studied in Italy, and spends as much of her time there as she can. Later on in our conversation, when talking about the regionalism of the country, she’ll say that it’s the sort of comprehensive show that can only really be done by an institution outside of Italy itself.  As we join the conversation, I’ve just asked Sonnet about the origins of modern day Italian fashion, and how it’s deeply political…

SS: It’s very, very political. There’s a lot of documentation in the archives that suggests how closely the American and Italian governments worked together to use fashion as a rehabilitator, not just economic but also political, to move the perception of Italy away from Fascism, which was obviously discredited, and move it towards something more palatable to the West. The American government directly supported Italy’s efforts and followed those early fashion shows very closely.

CP: What was the Italian government like straight after the war? Was it Italian, or imposed?

Yes, Italian, but of course the Marshall plan injected large quantity of cash [the Marshall Plan was officially called the European Recovery Program, in operation for four years from 1948]. Just like the rest of Europe, Italy struggled after the war, but it wasn’t just cash. It was also things like reduced prices on raw goods, so part of the reason why Pucci beachwear was so successful was that he had access to huge stashes of American cotton, and at a very affordable price. So it was in America’s best interest to promote that because it meant that it helped them clear their stores.

I’ve included a few wartime dresses, one of which has the mark of guarantee, to show what a fascist frock looked like, and to talk about their attempts to regulate production. And then we go straight into the Sala Bianca [the hall in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence, where a Florentine buying agent, Giovanni Battista Giorgini, staged fashion shows in the 1950s], which is all about glamorous gowns, but behind that is a whole infrastructure of effort, mainly led by one man, Mr Giorgini, mainly to organise the Italian fashion industry with one place for buyers and press to come to see all of the collections. Because of course Italy had Turin as the capital during the war, and also had Milan, Rome and Florence, the North American buyers just couldn’t deal with that. So Giorgini organised these shows. For the first time they were internationally attended, and the American ambassador came, there were members from the Italian business economic organisation based in New York to notify their American counterparts that this was happening. It was fashion, but it was serious. It was business.

[Here's an image of a show at the Sala Bianca in 1955, Photo by GM Fadigati, © Giorgini Archive, Florence]

The Birth of Italian Fashion

Was any of this before Dior’s New Look?

No. I wish I could say, no the first show that Giorgini organised in Florence was in his house, and that was in February in 1951.

OK so it was a bit after.

And the first event in the Sala Bianca was the following year, that was in ‘52. So it was a few years after Dior’s New Look, and I think that Giorgini was very conscious of that. And in some ways I would compare what Giorgini did for the Italians to what Dior did for the French. Bringing everyone together, rallying around a cause. In Dior’s case, his label saved French couture after the war, or he launched it. With Giorgini, he was an impresario and he was a showman, hewooed all the buyers and press with suppers and balls and organised that plan all around the fashion shows to give them a reason to come back. And of course he invited all the aristocrats that he could because, and I can say this, the Americans love a nice title, a bit of nobility. So the contess and contessa were there alongside the buyers.

I’ve been to a menswear presentation in Florence and Prince Michael of Kent turned up for some reason – it still happens today. And Dior was selling more than just his brand – he was selling the idea of decadence as being something to be celebrated.

Yes, and it was difficult to do that in Italy, because the physical landscape was so much in ruin. And also the Italians were still impoverished. And many of them were still agricultural labels and were illiterate. And so a country of peasants couldn’t really afford what was on the Sala Bianca catwalk, which made the Americans probably even more crucial to the Italian market than the French. Of course they were Dior’s best customers as well, but to the Italians they really were the holy grail.

And so would they call themselves couturiers rather than designers?

Well in Italian it could be sartoria, which is dressmaker, and there were different levels. And we’ve talked a little about the local sartoria, which was like going to your local tailor or dressmaker, which we have examples of those in the show, those gowns, which probably didn’t have a maker’s label inside, and were slightly anonymous operations, still to a very high standard of quality .then above them you had the couture houses, which were mainly in Rome and Milan, and a bit in Florence, the known names. And after the war many more houses were founded once the economy recovered somewhat.

And I suppose Rome has traditionally been the seat of Italian couture, you had houses like the Fontana Sisters, which were deeply important, located just behind the Spanish steps, they successfully catered to both the Italian well-to-do, but also all of the American actresses who were in Rome filming. Ava Gardner was one of their best clients, so they were able to make the Americans feel at home in their salon, but also had Italian clients as well.

But that I think was the unique element of Giorgini’s skill. Because Italy is a very regional country and it still is. They’re pretty open about their regional prejudices. To convince people from Rome and Milan to converge in Florence was no small achievement.

Were there brands that Chanel who stopped at the outbreak of World War II, and then started again, or were most new brands?

There were, but many of them started after the war. Some were operating before, but the war was a real interrupter, and in fact many of the houses had to change their name during the war, because they all tried to sound French, to make them seem more aligned with Paris fashions, and then during the war it was against the law to have a non-Italian sounding name. So they had to have Italianise, if that’s the right word, their name.

I suppose houses that exist now as massive conglomerates that were founded before the war started as luggage – Prada was, Gucci was – or shoes – Ferragamo.

Yes, leather goods. Then after that group of early 20th century foundings, in terms of our story, the only designer who was present at the first fashion show in Giorgini’s house that’s still in operation today was Pucci. Because he started in the late 40s with skiwear, then branched out, he went from the ski slopes to the beaches. And so he’s really important to the story.

It’s a very different story from Paris, because the modern idea of Italian fashion is pretty much post-WWII. Even though the industry loves to use language like “legendary” and “classic” and “iconic”, it’s a recent development.

Yes, I agree. I hope I’m not biased, because I’m American, but I think that what happened was those dressmakers and couture houses existed before the war. But what happened after the war was those fashion shows that Giorgini organised really made everybody, just whipped everybody into shape. They had to be professional; they had to show collections twice a year. They had to appeal to the American market and perhaps in some ways become more commercial. And they had to be able to speak to the press and be articulate, and had to be business people to produce to a high standard. And a lot of them started to travel, do trunk shows, in Canada, North America, San Francisco. They were entering the real world, the grown up world of the fashion industry for the first time.

At what point did Italy itself feel like it was back on its feet?

That would have been from the late 1950s. Italy joined most of Europe in the so called boom, the economic miracle, where their economic fortunes turned around. Of course Fiat had a lot to do with that, and their factories employed huge numbers of people. But then of course the textile industry that went alongside the fashion industry was essentially important in areas like Como, for employment and also increasing the prestige of products made in Italy and how they were perceived in the rest of the world. So it was a whole kind of, everything lifted all together in manufacturing across different industries.

And then the look was there for the film industry.

Well I think that when we in the exhibition, we go from the Sala Bianca period into what I call the Hollywood on the Tibor phenomenon. Because the American market was so important, the Hollywood celebrities filming on-and-off location with Rome as a backdrop, that did so much to publicise Italian fashion and Italy as a kind of idea to the wider world. And all of the shenanigans of the actors on-and-off set, and their affairs, Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra, some of it was salacious gossip, but all of those paparazzi photographs showed them in Italian fashion. So a whole generation of designers benefited from the ambient glow of that media spotlight, and all rose up together. So in that section of the exhibition we do have some film costume, but for the most part it’s dresses worn by figures of note. For example we have a dress worn by Ava Gardner, we have a dress worn by Maria Callas, and we also have perhaps more interesting in this story of how the dynamic of patronage affected designers, is that in 1966 Truman Capote’s Black And White Ball was attended by two of the best dressed women in the world, who both chose an Italian to dress them, so that was Marella Agnelli and also Princess Lee Radziwill, and they both chose Mila Schön, a  Milanese designer, for what some people called the party of the decade. So that was 15 years after the first show in Giorgini’s house, and it just shows how far Italian fashion had come in 51, no Americans knew any of these designers, and 15 years later, there they were, in fact Marella Agnelli wore first prize for best dress woman in her Mila Schön, and Lee Radziwill only got third. Her dresses is better, it’s actually my favourite, if I could walk out with one piece it’d be that one.

[Here's an image from the catalogue of Truman Capote with Lee Radziwill in her third placed dress, which will be in the V&A exhibit]

truman

It’s weird thinking of Italian fashion as being a novelty.

In the Sala Bianca section we have about a dozen gowns, and I bet that most people that come into that exhibition will never have heard of a single one. And I would hazard that be true of most Italians as well. It’s a great feeling to feel like we’re shining a spotlight on these names that have been forgotten and telling a bit of their story. The one exception I would make would be Roberto Capucci, because he had such a long career, he’s still alive, and he continued designing up until the late 80s.

How did you know which of these unknown dressmakers to go to?

The Giorgini archive is housed in the state archives of Florence, and I spent quite a bit of time there. He saved everything, so there’s all these albums with invitations to the fashion shows, invitations to the balls, press clippings and also programmes for each of the fashion weeks so we know who showed at the first show, who showed at the second show. So we’ve tried to include examples from those designers that were at the first two shows. They don’t all date from 51, 52, but they’re designer names from that early story. It was like truffle hunting trying to find these pieces.

Was it ‘60s-ish that individual names started to become designers?
I would say even in the 50s, and there are, the press reports that come out of those shows, Giorgini was amazing, he did save everything, of course it was self-promotion because he was chronicling his own life and success, but the European press, the American press were very complimentary about all these new names. And of course fashion there’s always this hunger for the next new thing. By ’51,  the North American market was looking for the next fresh patch after Dior’s New Look. The Italians provided all of these couture houses that no-one had heard of, it felt exciting. They were proper couturiers. They had labels, they had staff, they were good at promotion, they had a logo, they advertised.

Were they mostly occasionwear or were they doing daywear?

The unique thing about the Sala Bianca, about Giorgini’s presentations, was that from the very first event in his house, he showed beachwear, cocktail dresses, evening gowns. So when you went to see the shows in Florence, you saw shorts and playsuits and bikinis and swimwear along with evening gowns. And so the sportswear, and what became moda boutique, which was a kind of in-between ready-to-wear and couture, it’s like small batches of well-designed but partially machine made stylish clothes, that was the engine of Italian fashion. Because of its price, couture was a limited distribution. And the American market had an insatiable appetite for this informal easy dressing that the Italians really excelled at.

—–

And from here we carry on to talk about that state of Italian fashion today, the implications for “Made In Italy” of the upcoming European Parliament debate about the labelling laws, and all sorts of other stuff. When we are talking about how Turin was seen as the centre of Italian fashion during the war, she says that Mussolini attended fashion shows there. There’s apparently film footage of Mussolini saluting from the catwalk. I’d love to see it.

Security staff keep coming by the table – the museum was about to close. And so I turn my machine off, and Sonnett headed back to her work, to finish installing a day early.

Sadly, I’m going to be away for the opening of the show this week.

I’m off to the Glasgow International.

But I’ll go see on my return.

It opens 5 April, until 27 July. Click here for more info etcetc. Go see.

 

Bag! New colours! And it’s like art and stuff! Jeremy Deller’s shopper for Studio Voltaire!

Aaah what jolliness is this?

A bag!

By Jeremy Deller!

In new colours!

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How jolly!

It’s to raise funds for Studio Voltaire, that centre of amazingness down in Clapham, South London, England, United Kingdom, Europe, The World etcetc.

You may recall it was previously done in white and stuff.

Now it’s done in black and stuff.

Here it is in green, taken by someone who can actually use a camera i.e. not me.

Jeremy Deller Shopper 2014_a

AMAZING!

They’re available from, like, right now this second, for £30, in the glamorous SHOP page on the Studio Voltaire website, click here etcetcetc

OMG so excited by the next Studio Voltaire exhibition, opening in a couple of weeks…

It’s of new work by the amazing and super fierce Ella Kruglyanskaya.

Here’s her just-painted Singing Maids.

Basically, my way of cleaning.

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(A Studio Voltaire Commission, courtesy of the artists and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York)

So good…

She’s in residence, right now, getting the show ready.

Ella’s show opens at Studio Voltaire on 11 April, and is the first exhibition in a collaborative series How To Work Together, across Studio Voltaire, Chisenhale Gallery and The Showroom, a three year project to see how the galleries can benefit from working, like, together. Click here!

 

Matt Mullican. James Lee Byars. The work on show here in Mexico City is complex and overwhelming

I’m becoming quite evangelical about life here in Mexico City.

It’s extraordinary.

Perhaps it’s nearly time for me to leave.

There are some major shows on here of great complexity.

I found Matt Mullican at Museo Tamayo to be particularly overwhelming.

His first ever survey in Mexico.

One monumental work.

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The other side of that room.

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Works were labelled, but often for whole areas.

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Some flags, seen through an opening.

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Flag, and Mullican products.

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It’s amazing the breadth of work in a relatively small space.

In the final space are sectioned off rooms of works on paper.

Some examples.

This one I found amazing – Love, Truth, Work, Beauty.

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Many are self-admonishing.

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Many refer to a mother.

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Others are obsessive riffs.

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Obviously loved this wall of plant catalogues.

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What that text says by the flowers.

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So, so amazing.

Over at the new Museo Jumex is the extraordinary James Lee Byars show, 1/2 An Autobiography.

A ball of lava rock he rolled through the streets of Amsterdam wearing a gold lamé suit.

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Byars at the centre of The World Question Center, surrounded by a ring of people all attached by the same garment.

It was shown live on Belgian TV, with callers being asked by Byars to ask themselves a question that was important to them.

Here’s Joseph Beuys, ringing in, just like it was Swap Shop.

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The show is so so amazing.

A confession.

I didn’t give myself enough time there – I had to run for my appointment at Casa Luis Barragan.

I’m going to try and go back before I leave.

The show closes here early April, then opens at PS1 in NYC on June 15.

While I was in the show, some Mexicans came in and asked the security guard to explain some of the works.

Imagine the reaction that’d get in most museums.

Here, the guard gave detailed and inclusive information, even though what he was explaining were complex fragments of a life.

I love this city.

I’ve got to leave.

Colour. Space. Handmade shrines to Iman. The dream of life in Casa Luis Barragan, Mexico City

Yesterday I spent some time in two houses by Luis Barragan.

One, his own home, Casa Luis Barragan.

The other, the last house he built.

The door that leads from the public to private dining room.

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Because the room is never touched by direct sun, the wall has never been repainted.

Crockery shelves.

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In his private dining room, where he ate on his own most days, were displayed plates decorated with the word SOLEDAD.

Spanish for loneliness.

There are record players everywhere.

This one is in his private library.

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I loved looking through his records.

By one of his record players was The Well Tempered Clavier by Bach, performed by Glenn Gould.

I listen obsessively to the Rosalyn Tureck recording. Maybe I’ll try the Gould.

It was amazing how you could get so close to his stuff.

In London it’d be all roped off.

But everyone there said Barragan wanted the house to be lived in.

It still feels alive today.

The view down from the top of the famous cantilevered stairs into the library. Barragan used the stairs for books – he is said to have only gone up them five times in his life (I didn’t – this view is from the mezzanine above).

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Those stairs, the other way round.

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The stairwell at the centre of the house.

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The telephone table.

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A sideboard in the same space.

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A softer shade is introduced.

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Yellow, as the stairs turn to the upper floor.

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At the top of the stairs.

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In his bedroom, Barragan made a shrine to one of his idols, Iman.

It sits on a low stool, with a yellow cloth.

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The famous terrace.

Look how it all lines up.

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Another part of the terrace.

The plant has grown up and over from the garden below, Barragan angling a tree especially so it would curve up and carry these creepers over.

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Plants in the garden itself, just come into bloom.

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The window into the main downstairs living space.

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To the right of this window is an outside curtain.

Behind it, set into the wall and high up, is an outdoor speaker.

Amazing.

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Around the corner is an amazing space.

A small black pool.

And a selection of bottomless pots used for the making of mescal.

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So so amazing.

A total dream of a life.

Spaces created to correspond to and enact with a specific way of living.

And nothing precious: so much looked hand-done. None of the desire for an interior to be the result of an invisible hand.

You feel him everywhere.

The house itself, in the distance, from the street.

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At the end of the tour, in the space that was the studio of Barragan, artists Francisca Riviero-Lake and Carla Verea Hernández have a series of ten images taken in the house at full moon, over a period of two years.

They are amazing.

Some mostly an absence of light, difficult to discern.

Others more clear.

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At lunch the day before, I met with Francisca, and she told me that if I went to an address not far away, and rang the bell, I’d be able to look around another Barragan house.

Here it is.

Casa Gilardi.

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I rang the bell.

The door opened slowly.

It was heavy, of great diagonal slats of wood.

A woman appeared, the mother of the family of five who live there.

She said for 200 pesos, I could look around.

No problem at all.

It was so incredible to see one of his houses lived in.

A family space.

Well loved.

Photos of David Hockney with Barragan when he visited in the 1980s.

And then, at the back, a surprise.

A corridor of yellow.

Leading to an indoor swimming pool of blue against red.

So incredible.

No photos, sadly.

Come here yourself, and see.

For more on Barragan, read this amazing text by Pablo de la Barra, whose fabulous email guide to the city has opened up this whole place for me.

Hand-dyed and stitched drapes. Ceramics. Painted walls. I loved Pia Camil at OMR in Mexico City

Life is so relaxed in Mexico City, it wasn’t until yesterday that I started to visit galleries.

And then I only visited one.

Pia Camil at OMR.

It was so so good.

A series of drapes, hand dyed and stitched, the panels abstracted from (I think I remember correctly) advertising images.

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The drapes are apparently moved at certain points during the day.

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Among them are ceramics, which are also moved around.

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And walls painted super lovely colours.

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Another view of that particular space.

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Ohgod totally obsessed.

Love a drape.

Today: off to Casa Luis Barragan, then later tonight, a performance here in Mexico City by Florian Hecker.

I’m in Mexico City. It’s thrown everything that I thought I knew about “global fashion” out the window

I’m in Mexico City, for a week of pretending that I live here.

I wish I lived here.

48 hours in, and already everything I thought I knew about “global fashion” has been thrown out the window.

“Global fashion”. Those words so often used to describe the effect of shows in Paris and Milan, as if what happens in those cities has immediate global sway.

Here are 20 million people with their own pull.

I’d packed a suitcase full of Craig Green tie-dye, Christopher Shannon florals and swirl, and bits of Prada from various seasons – the ditzy print golf shirt, last season’s ruffle frill shirt, this season’s sunset knit.

I’d presumed Mexican dress would be elaborate, flamboyant.

Actually, it’s well-mannered, with its own codes.

Codes of simplicity that work in such a high density city of constant flow.

The first clue was on the flight in. Here are buildings of vibrant single colour, seen as the plane came in to land.

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The pattern the buildings make is complex, but the buildings themselves are of one simple, bold colour.

I thought no more about this till 24 hours later, when I was cycling down Paseo de la Reforma, the city’s main street, which is closed for bikes every Sunday – kind of like the Champs Élysées being shut for cycling each week – imagine that.

I began to notice men in single colours, usually worn with jeans.

I loved this man’s pink T-shirt.

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More flowed by.

In the foreground, the red T-shirt, and further ahead, two BMX kids in black.

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Patterns of single colour started to build.

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I loved these two kids in an electronic car, their father ahead on a bike.

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Above a dance class by the Angel of Independence, the blossom of the jacaranda tree was uniform.

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As was the white of agapanthus in the park.

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The whole time I was thinking, maybe this simplicity of colour was just because we’re on bikes.

That colour and pattern will get more elaborate on the street.

Not the case.

Shapes, yes, but shade was of one palette.

These two young men were walking in front of me on Calle Madero on Sunday afternoon, the equivalent of Times Square of Piccadilly Circus.

They were holding hands without a care in the world.

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I’ve written before of clothing being about the unsayable.

Here, physical and verbal expression is open, intimate, warm and clear. No pattern or decoration is needed to send out an underlying message.

When pattern comes, it really stands out.

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I stopped for pork tacos with cheese at Salon Corona.

A football match played on the TV screens.

On the wall were black and white photos that looked from the 70s, of men watching a game in the Salon.

The message was the same: simple, direct clothing, the most elaborate pattern on a man’s tie.

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I got on the metro. A couple of stops later, these two men came and stood in front of me.

The man on the right in a vest of an elaborate cowl neck, but the colour uniform.

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The incredible colour blocking of this woman at Copilco station says everything – this use of simple, contrasting colour is deeply ingrained.

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On the train back late at night, a kid dressed all in black tried to explain his all-silver Rubik’s Cube with different sized blocks to an older lady.

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Uniformity, simplicity everywhere.

I’m not being selective. In the cafe where I’m typing this, everyone is in simple clothing of uniform colour – T-shirts, shirts, the odd knit.

It makes a mockery of the usual fashion idea of Mexico – guns, tattoo prints, skulls, violence, mess.

Instead, it’s about clothing that corresponds to the city itself.

Clarity in this friendly, well-mannered city, where you’d expect there to be chaos.

And dressing on its own terms, rather than the whims of fashion.