Thursday, 29 December 2011

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

H&M Puts Real Model Heads On Fake Bodies

From website Jezebel

The bodies of most of the models H&M features on its website are computer-generated and "completely virtual," the company has admitted. H&M designs a body that can better display clothes made for humans than humans can, then "dresses" it by drawing on its clothes, and digitally pastes on the heads of real women in post-production. For now — in the future, even models' faces won't be considered perfect enough for online fast fashion, and we'll buy all of our clothing from cyborgs. (This news sort of explains this.) But man, isn't looking at the four identical bodies with different heads so uncanny? Duly noted that H&M made one of the fake bodies black. You can't say that the fictional, Photoshopped, mismatched-head future of catalog modeling isn't racially diverse. [Aftonbladet]

Friday, 2 December 2011

"Don't mix up feminists fighting the corporate media with rightwing attempts to police sex."

Moral panic? No. We are resisting the pornification of women

Gail Dines and Julia Long · 01/12/2011 ·

"Sexualisation" has become a much-debated issue in recent years, and a noticeable feature is the assumption that feminists who oppose sexual objectification are generating a "moral panic". Ever since sociologist Stanley Cohen introduced the term in 1972 it has been used as a shorthand way of critiquing conservatives for inventing another "problem" in order to demonise a group that challenges traditional moral standards.
So apparently feminists are now the conservatives fomenting unnecessary panic about the proliferation of "sexualised" images while the corporate-controlled media industry that mass produces these images is the progressive force for change being unfairly demonised. What a strange turn of events.
To suggest feminists who oppose the pornification of society are stirring up a moral panic is to confuse a politically progressive movement with rightwing attempts to police sexual behaviour. We can, of course, identify just such a conservative strand in current debates in Britain: interventions of the coalition government include calls for girls to be given lessons in how to practise abstinence and attacks on abortion rights. But feminists who organise against pornification are not arguing that sexualised images of women cause moral decay; rather that they perpetuate myths of women's unconditional sexual availability and object status, and thus undermine women's rights to sexual autonomy, physical safety and economic and social equality. The harm done to women is not a moral harm but a political one, and any analysis must be grounded in a critique of the corporate control of our visual landscape.
The left has a long history of fighting capitalist ownership of the media. From Karl Marx to Antonio Gramsci to Noam Chomsky, leftist thinkers have understood the corporate media to be the propaganda machine for capitalist ideas and values. By mainstreaming the ideologies of the elite, corporate-controlled media shapes our identities as workers and consumers, selling an image of success and happiness tied to the consumption of products that generate enormous wealth for the elite class. Alternative views are at best marginalised and at worst ridiculed.
No one in progressive circles would suggest for a moment that criticism of the corporate media is a moral panic. Chomsky has never, as far as we know, been called a "moral entrepreneur", yet those of us who organise against the corporations that churn out sexist imagery are regularly dismissed as stirring moral panic.
The industry-engineered image of femininity has now become the dominant one in western society, crowding out alternative ways of being female. The clothes, cosmetics, diets, gym membership, trips to the hair salon, the waxing salon and the nail salon add up to a lot of money. Even in these dark economic times, when women are experiencing the most severe financial hardship, the UK beauty business is booming.
Women's self-loathing is big business, and supports a global capitalist system that, ironically, depends heavily on the exploitation of women's labour in developing countries. Adding insult to injury, many of these underpaid women are spending a significant proportion of their wages on skin-whitening products that promise social mobility out of the sweatshops.
In the west, cosmetic surgery is increasingly normalised. Last year in the UK, almost 9,500 women underwent breast augmentation surgery, and the number of labiaplasties has almost tripled in five years. One plastic surgeon helpfully explains on his website that labiaplasty "can sculpture the elongated or unequal labial [sic] minora (small inner lips) according to one's specification … With laser reduction labiaplasty, we can accomplish the desires of the woman". If this is not evidence of living in a sexualised culture, what is?
The emotional cost of conforming to hypersexualisation is enormous for girls and young women who are in the process of forming their gender and sexual identities. We construct our identities through complex processes of interaction with the culture around us, but today images of hypersexualisation dominate. Where is a girl to go if she decides Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Rihanna or Britney Spears aren't for her?
An American Psychological Association study on girls' sexualisation found that it "has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality, and attitudes and beliefs". Some of these effects include risky sexual behaviour, higher rates of eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem, and reduced academic performance. Of course, there are girls who resist, but there are real social penalties to be paid by those who do not conform to acceptable feminine appearance.
This weekend feminist campaigners are hosting a conference on the pornification of culture. In the buildup, mass protests were held outside the London Playboy Club and Miss World beauty contest to highlight the relationship between corporate interests and the objectification of women. The fight against the increasingly narrow and limiting image of femininity is inextricably connected to the progressive fight for democratic ownership and control of the media. This is a political struggle. Feminists are rightly concerned, but we're not panicking. We're organising.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Image found on Facebook ....

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Mamie Wata in African Music

Bembeya Jazz National - Mami Wata- 60s in Guinea
In the aftermath of the Guinean Independence in 1958 and through the cultural policy of "authenticite", which encouraged cultural pride, numerous bands were created throughout the regions of Guinea. Guinea's President, Ahmed Sékou Touré, disbanded all private dance orchestras and replaced them with state-supported groups, such as Keletigui et ses Tambourinis and Balla et ses Balladins. The most popular was Bembeya Jazz National, formed in 1961. Specializing in modern arrangements of Manding classic tunes, Bembeya Jazz National won 1st prize at two national arts festival's in 1964 and 1965 and were crowned "National Orchestra" in 1966.[2]Initially an acoustic group, featuring a Latin-flavored horn section of saxophone, trumpet, and clarinet, Bembeya Jazz National reached its apex with the addition of lead singer Aboubacar Demba Camara. The group toured widely, and became one of the most well-known groups in Africa. Among their biggest hits were the songs "Mami Wata" and "Armee Guineenne".

Singer N'Deye covers the famous Bembeya song with Sekou Bembeya on the guitar.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Thursday, 22 September 2011

"Skin" - peeling

"Skin"- video trial - 2011

Rikke Lundgreen - stills from video

Changing Places, Phil Sayers and Rikke Lundgreen
"Cross-purposes – Looking again at Victorian collections." Sheila McGregor

The implied link between sexuality and death in Segantini’s painting (The Punishment of Lust – 1891) points to one of the most curious and remarked upon aspects of Victorian portrayals of women: the tendency to show the fallen or damaged woman in a state of trance-like immobility. This pictorial and sculptural elision of sexuality, sleep and death has intriguing psychological connotations, hinting as it does at the capacity of women to sustain an interior existence beyond the control and understanding of men. Driven by extremes of experience into a state of emotional retreat, women are simultaneously the victims of male oppression and the agents of their own emancipation, which they often achieve through an act of extravagant self-destruction [as Ophelia and the Lady of Shalott examples].

Nowhere perhaps is this theme more strikingly manifested than in sculpture, where the inherent inertness of the stone or marble contrasts with the sinuous realism of the sculptor’s modelling of the female form. Edward Onslow Ford’s Snowdrift (1901) in the Lady Lever Art Gallery personifies the spirit of winter as a naked woman who lies in a pose of exhausted abandon on the icy ground. Conceived in the tradition of funeral sculpture, it is an image that seems to hover uneasily between life and death.  Lundgreen explores the thematic ambiguity and erotic languor of the sculpture by re-creating the pose and overlaying images of her own naked body with the original, thus intermingling reality and representation in a way that underscores the virtuosity of Onslow Ford’s sculptural achievement, while also revealing its weirdness as a metaphorical description of winter.

"To pass, Passing and to Come." Lindsay Smith

In [Lundgreen’s] Slow Fade (…), inspired by Edward Onslow Ford’s Snowdrift (1901) we encounter a paradox of of stone (marble) that harbours metamorphosis, change within petrification. The symbolist sculpture made from green onyx, lapis lazuli with silver mounts and black marble achieves its own polychrome, while Lundgreen juxtaposes her own body upon it in polychromatic form. The video morphing of flesh and stone wherebya white marble  hand and foot spills out as flesh, is configured with flesh, engenders a simultaneously life-like and yet deathly form.

Self-portraits - September 2011

Friday, 8 July 2011

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Self-portraits - June 2011

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011


Today I have been offering a mini photographic studio space to a group of women, mainly from Eritrea (Africa). Every Monday, they come to St Paul's Church and leave their children at the Nursery for a couple of hours to study English and do some other activities. I shared the workshop with my friend Mirela Bistran who was showing them how to make some cake decorations.

I had planned a "high tech" interactive installation, for them to be able to see themselves in a TV monitor while taking the pictures. I wanted to offer them a private space to take self-portraits while having control over their own poses. Something similar to my own self-portraits in mirrors. The main idea for me here was of "self-empowerment" : giving them the intimacy of a space and time where to feel confident enough to choose poses and select the images of themselves that they prefered.

One side of the installation, the other being a tripod with the photo camera.

The technical side of the installation was actually a bit ambtious for a first workshop and I ended up in the photographer's role. However, the idea of an enclosed and private space prooved to be necessary as some needed their friends not to be watching them.

It was the first time that I was in the role of a photographer with model. It was a bit intimidating for them and for me and they were a bit shy at the beginning. They were chosing their poses and I was turning around them, taking the pictures. Then we had a look at them together and they deleted a couple. I was very pleased with their reactions : they seemed to be surprised of the results, in a very positive way ! as if surprised to see themselves beautiful ! It was very rewarding.

It is not often that we get to be given beautiful images of ourselves and that was the point of this workshop for me ....

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Nakedness, exposure and vulnerability.

Judith Mackrell, Monday 30 May 2011 21.30
Fears and fantasies … Un Peu de Tendresse Bordel de Merde!

Photograph: Dave St-Pierre

When Sally Marie was told she had to strip off in the name of contemporary dance, she was happy to oblige – in theory, anyway. The British dancer had been cast in Dear Body, a 2009 work by Luca Silvestrini that satirised the hard dieting, gym-bound madness of body beautiful obsessives. Marie approved of the work's politics, which she felt applied to her own profession, too. "I'd been arguing for ages that we needed a greater variety of bodies and ages in dance," says Marie, who readily admits to being a stone heavier and a decade older than most of the other dancers. "It felt like an important statement to be on stage showing my tits."
But in practice, when it came to getting naked, Marie was petrified. "When you're in a sauna, it feels completely natural. But on stage, you're really exposed." Ironically, by the time she came to perform Dear Body, she was much slimmer. "I'd been too frightened to eat."
Javier de Frutos, the Venezuelan-born choreo-grapher, understands her terror. In the 1990s, his own compact buttocks and bobbing penis became a familiar sight to audiences, in works such as the solo Gypsy and the trio Grass. Yet at first, De Frutos found crossing over into nudity traumatic. "When I was young, I was the guy at the gym who had to wait until the changing room was empty before I could take off my clothes." His mentor, the US dancer and choreo-grapher Sara Rudnor, persuaded him to change. "Sarah told me I needed to explore as many emotions as possible on stage. She told me to do what I feared most. For me, that was being naked."

De Frutos and Marie may feel some sympathy with the cast of Un Peu de Tendresse Bordel de Merde!, which arrives in Britain this week. A Little Tenderness for Crying Out Loud!, in its English translation, was created by Canadian choreographer Dave St-Pierre. It's a work exploring the fears and fantasies of 22 characters as they search for love in a brutal world. But it's also a work in which the dancers have to perform naked for much of the time; in fact, even more exposingly, they have to bring their nakedness right down into the auditorium, clambering over the stalls and fighting in the aisles – with their breasts, genitals and buttocks in wobblingly close proximity to the audience.

What's the justification for such aggressive nudity? St-Pierre, who is fascinated by taboos and the breaking of them, is trying to create a raw physical intimacy between dancer and audience, and he wants to make us laugh, too. Michael Watts, one of his dancers, says most people find the naked scenes funny. But, he adds, "we're being very childlike – we're behaving like six-year-old boys, and we get a lot of taps on the bottom from old ladies". They do occasionally encounter angry resistance, though. "One woman just hid her face completely," recalls Watts. "She put her jacket over her face. Another man got up and tried to run away. And a few dancers have got hit or pushed."

Choreographers may have many serious motives for nudity – be they political, aesthetic or psychological – but what some people find beautiful and expressive, others will inevitably find titillating or arousing, and others embarrassing or disgusting. What is certain, though, is that the issue of how much flesh a dancer shows has always been controversial. In 1725, when ballerina Marie Camargo shortened her skirts to ankle length to gain extra freedom of movement, there were many who went to the Paris Opera not to applaud her virtuosity but to catch a flash of calf or thigh. Camargo was credited with inventing an early form of knickers to preserve some modesty as she danced.

For Isadora Duncan, the American who began performing her radiant, radical dance recitals around 1900, the body was sacred. When she abandoned corsets, danced barefoot and occasionally let a bare breast spill out of her loosely draped tunic, Duncan wasn't simply serving the cause of dance, she was celebrating the human spirit. And her inspiration, as well as her notoriety, led to more dancers stripping off in the name of high art. Canadian Maud Allan became a superstar of Edwardian Britain thanks her near-naked Salomé routine, and Josephine Baker was dubbed the Ebony Venus when she danced in Paris wearing nothing but a belt of pink feathers or a tiny skirt of fake bananas.

When stage censorship laws were relaxed during the 1960s, however, even a coy veil could be dispensed with. The cast of musicals such as Oh! Calcutta! paraded their bodies with joy, while avant-garde choreographers began to explore the gamut of what nudity could signify. Yvonne Rainer, in 1970s New York, danced naked in front of a US flag to protest against the Vietnam war. And veteran British dancer Diana Payne-Myers developed an entire second career when choreo-graphers such as Lloyd Newson started to explore the potential of putting a much older, naked dancer on stage.

Since the late 1990s, Payne-Myers's tiny, wrinkled, supple form has evoked images of survival, defenselessness and even the joy of supposedly inappropriate elderly behaviour.
For De Frutos, as he explored the feelings of vulnerability created by dancing naked, other issues arose. He became fascinated by his audiences' natural voyeurism and by the ways he could deflect it. "I wanted to take their attention away from my genitalia to all the small muscles in the body, and show how eloquent they are. There is something irreplaceable about the sensual reality of skin, and the beauty of light falling on skin. I was always thinking how that could best be achieved."

Visually, De Frutos was inspired by none other than Caravaggio and El Greco. But in real life, the human body can be an unruly beast: it gets rashes and bruises, it's subject to weight gain, hairiness and menstrual cycles – as well as other kinds of normally private activity. De Frutos swears he never worried about getting an erection on stage when performing with other nude dancers: "Dancing naked," he says, "is the least sexy thing I've ever done." And Sally Marie was convinced that all the men in Dear Body were "very anxious. During contact, everyone was trying to keep a distance between their pelvises. It was very funny. "

For Arthur Pita, the London-based choreographer of the pastoral comedy Camp, the issue was simply his own vanity. He hadn't expected to dance in Camp, but when he had to take over from an injured cast member he went straight into an intensive regime of "squats and press-ups" to prepare for his naked scene. "I really didn't want anything to be wobbling for the audience."

Pita envies the lack of self conscious-ness shown by Payne-Meyers, with whom he has worked. "She knows full well she is an 83-year-old woman, but she is completely committed to her art and completely unembarrassed. Her body is amazing to look at. It's only skin and bone and muscle, but it's very old skin and bone and muscle. I admire that healthy, honest approach; it's something all dancers should be inspired by."

Tendresse comes with a guidance rating of 18, and all its publicity contains warnings of "explicit adult material". What's more, Michael Watts is keen to point out that if anyone in the audience obviously hates what the dancers are doing, they won't get picked on. "We can usually tell how people are feeling," he says. "They won't actually have a hairy man in a wig clambering over them."

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

maurizio anzeri

“I’ve been collecting old photographs for a long time. A few years ago I was doing ink drawings with them and out of curiosity I stitched into one. I work a lot with threads and hand stitching, and the link to photography was a natural progression. I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing. Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle-like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry. When I begin the stitching something else happens, drawing will never do what thread will – the light changes, and at some points you can lose the face, and at others you can still see under it.” Link

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Saturday, 30 April 2011

the process of seeing ....

I am interested in machines that tell you what it is to look, that make you aware of the process of seeing, make you aware of what you do when you construct the world by looking at it; but more as looking and seeing being a metaphor of how you understand the world.

William Kentridge in "Anything is possible" - documentary.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Elizabeth Winnel

"Working with multiple mediums, including ink, acrylic,
charcoal, pastel,spray paint and other materials,
 Elizabeth Winnel’s self portraits,
while utterly figurative, are gorgeously abstracted."

Friday, 22 April 2011

Monday, 18 April 2011

Thoughts - reflexions ...

Since the last show where I exhibited a series of my "self-portraits in mirrors" and since the interview with Claire, I have been thinking about one important aspect in them : the fact that the main subject is not ME, but the mirror/reflecting surface. When taking the picture, in the reality, the camera takes the picture of the mirror itself.

I think that, for me, one of the most important idea in the questions Claire asked me is this one :
CT – so it’s the actual process of looking that you are trying to emphasise thorough the use of the mirror?

CSD – yes. I’m trying to understand something that cannot be understood.

And this is bringing me back to the residency "Eyes, windows to the soul" I did in 2010, which was following a period of research. Studying the process of vision, on different levels and trying to draw parallels between the physical and the psychological (or rather spiritual) aspects of vision ...
The physical particularities of the shop where I was working both helped me to emphasize some sides of this but also made it even more complex at the same time.

Projection installation where a photograph of outside of the shop
 is projected inside it.

Photograph through a window showing the indoor market
while a reflection is showing the window
and sky from inside the shop to the outside
To me, there is a direct link, from these images/installations to some of my most recent self-portraits.

A couple of nights ago, I also dreamed that I was by a wide container with water and that I understood that the next step was supposed to start taking pictures from under the water ... This lead me to take new types of images :