Keiichi Tanaami’s solo show
at Fondation Speerstra, Apples
August 26 2013
Recently, the buzz about Japanese pop art legend Keiichi Tanaami seems to have intensified. After recent exhibitions at Studiolo, Zurich; Schinkel Pavillion, Berlin; Nanzuka gallery, Tokyo and Kaleidoscope’s project space in Milan, the multi-genre artist has an exhibition at the Fondation Speerstra, Switzerland through September. Located in a small village in the countryside between Geneva and Lausanne, the Fondation Speerstra aims to bridge the gap between graffiti, neo-graffiti and contemporary art. Indeed, even though these genres have neighbored one another for approximately half a century, graffiti art has always stayed on the fringes of the general art debate with only a few exceptions, namely the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat or Keith Haring. With his background as a graphic designer, illustrator, video artist and artistic director of Playboy, Keiichi Tanaami is a forebear of Pop Art and psychedelic culture in Japan whose work precedes many renowned artists from the land of cherry blossoms, such as Takashi Murakami and Tabaimo. The solo exhibition at Speerstra features a display of Tanaami’s drawings, collages, paintings and animations from the ’60s and early ’70s that were recently discovered in the artist’s studio. This is the first public showing of these original works in Europe. The title for the exhibition, “Killer Joe’s,” comes from the name of the legendary discotheque for which Tanaami worked on art direction. (Natalie Esteve)
Keiichi Tanaami’s solo show at Fondation Speerstra, Apples, will run through September 22.
June 14 2013
Between grace and triviality, critics and silly poetry, beautiful faces and nasty bodies, Swiss French Dorade defines itself as an “artistic periodical where mermaids admit to their slightly fishy odor.” It is indeed with this sort of absurdity that Dorade immerses us from issue to issue in their beguiling, bold and evocative world. Conceived of as curated space with a statement for each edition, its contents range from photographs, documents, interviews and essays, creating an on-paper “exhibition.” Previous issues imagined the magazine as a marvelous mansion, full of historic anecdotes and eccentric guests; explored cocktail parties, where alcohol is a cultural bridge and a tool for self-parody; and investigated decadence and the end of the world. The latest release of Dorade, “New Eldorado,” investigates nomadism. For this fifth issue (recently launched in Paris), the periodical switched from a seasonal to an annual basis and is now twice as thick as the previous editions. There, the reader is prescribed the role of peeping Tom of what seems to be a carnet de souvenirs. The 300 glossy pages constitute a journey between Georgian vehicle registration plates, anecdotes from the Caucasus, a weekend in Rome, thoughts on Cairo and other introspective journeys or dead ends. A cocktail launch will take place this Saturday at Elaine MGK, Basel on the occasion of Art Basel. (Natalie Esteve)
March 13 2013
The art space Forde was born in 1994 after its three founder members took over a space initially allocated to a record label in “L’Usine”, Geneva’s alternative complex. Soon after Forde’s opening, the founders decided to hand over its direction periodically for a fixed period of two years giving total freedom to the appointed programmers. After almost 20 years, the space hosted around 100 exhibitions and was overseen by more than 20 people, including Lionel Bovier (JRP Ringier), artists Mai-Thu Perret, Guillaume Pilet, Kim Seob Boninsegni or curator Julien Fronsacq (Palais de Tokyo). All of these now form a committee (which also includes artists Gianni Motti and Olivier Mosset) naming the future programmers. The latest —the artist Elena Montesinos and Nicolas Wagnières, silk-screen master and HEAD (Geneva’s art school) professor— were appointed last July. Their first exhibition, “eat this” offered visitors the opportunity to eat artworks/hors d’œuvre such as a golden chocolate rubber by Sylvie Fleury, a version John Tremblay’s seminal Targets reproduced as cakes, or a carpet made from hummus and spices. The ongoing project, the “Forde Prize 2013,” allowed anyone to submit a project for an exhibition at Forde through Forde’s website, the best of which will be showed in April. These projects perpetuate what Forde always aimed at: Involving people to multiply the “one” that has continued to draw Forde’s energy and driving force. (Natalie Esteve)
“The Space of Agonism”
published by Sternberg Press
January 22 2013
In September 2012, Nikolaus Hirsch and Markus Miessen launched the book series “Critical Spatial Practice,” published by Sternberg Press in Berlin and developed alongside the Städelschule program of the same name. In light of popular uprisings taking place worldwide, the series is framed as a reflection on links between architecture and the physical environment. “The Space of Agonism,” the freshly-pressed second book in the series, presents a selection of conversations between Markus Miessen and political philosopher Chantal Mouffe. The book unites Mouffe’s interest in “conflictual consensus” with Miessen’s interest in conflict-based forms of participation; the term “demoicracy” is coined therein to refer to democratic forms that maintain the pluralism of individual constituents. In the work, both intellectuals attempt to unveil the positive effects of a certain form of political conflict (agonism) in order to counter post-political claims that lead to extremism and antagonism. Accessible and informal, the series of discussions are a captivating point of view on the current worldwide economic and political turmoil. The book also contains “Sniper,” a visual essay by Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué featuring videos created by Syrian protesters. The project —disconcerting and fascinating— focuses on the moment of eye contact between sniper and dissident, when the gun’s line of sight and the cell-phone camera lens meet. (Natalie Esteve)
Ital’s new album “Dream On”
December 18 2012
It was during a concert in my hometown that I first listened to Ital — solo project of Daniel McCormick, previously the front man of the dancey post-punk band Mi Ami. I was blown away by the disconcerting way the young Washington native mastered the art of layering; McCormick skillfully interweaves dense backbeats to rhythms closer to those of house, techno or drone. The result is a clever and deeply absorbing whole that reminded me of avant-underground artists like Oneohtrix Point Never or James Ferraro. Ital released his second LP, Dream On, on Planet Mu in November, less than nine months after his previous Hive Mind. This album, which sometimes flirts with the bizarre, is richer and more intense than its predecessor. The record’s seven tracks build “soundscapes,” recreating a tense and disconcerting atmosphere. Raw, gross and even unpleasant sounds are piled up and shrewdly brought into affecting, spellbinding harmonies. The aptly-named Dream On propels us into a genre-hopping musical trip, mixing noisy, experimental and disconcerting pieces with easier-to-hear but equally well-structured tracks. The incredible “Deep Cut”—the album’s pinnacle— ends this journey in reprieve from the rest of the album’s tension. Despite its enjoyable moments and its tangible depiction of our age’s sensory strains Dream On is frustratingly intrusive as background music and yet too haywire for boozing. As such, for me, Ital’s music is still something best enjoyed live. (Natalie Esteve)
Stream Dream On for free via Dazed Digital.
“Les Urbaines,” transdisciplinar festival in Lausanne, Switzerland
November 29 2012
Since 1996, the Swiss city of Lausanne has been taken over every first week of December by the free visual arts festival “Les Urbaines,” transforming it into a laboratory for new daring aesthetics and cultural practices. On this occasion, a variety of performances, interactive installations, shows, exhibitions, screenings and concerts take place in unconventional spaces all over the city, reinterpreting the urban landscape.
This edition of the 3-day festival will feature more than 40 projects and present visual arts projects by Mélodie Mousset, Berry Patten, Zimoun, Pedro Wirz, Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski (among others), concerts by Grouper or Lexie Mountain and performances by Alma Söderberg, Minimetal or Robert Steijn.
For me, the highlight of this edition is the exhibition at Curtat-Tunnel —a former bus stop turned into an art space— during which French artists Juliette Bonneviot and Aude Pariset will physically test their seductive imagery by letting it decay in an aquarium over the course of the festival, uniting duration and creative methodologies to create in real-time a new work. In the same venue, the London-based collective LuckyPDF will use new technologies and a wide range of media to play with the notion of consumer goods and their artistic interpretation. Not to be missed is also Hannah Perry‘s moving image collage, which questions collective memory and identity – on show at DémArt – and enigmatic duo Hype Williams‘ Saturday night concert. (Natalie Esteve)
From the November 30 to Sunday December 2.
“Printed Talks in the City”
Ludovic Balland’s workshop and exhibition at Istituto Svizzero, Milan
November 21 2012
In 2011, the inventive Swiss graphic designer and typographer, Ludovic Balland, partnered with the Italian Swiss Institute‘s artistic director Salvatore Lacagnina to create the series “Letters on Sale: Changing Design + Print + Use.” The first installation of the three-part series of talks, conferences and exhibitions took place in March 2011: an exhibition on Swiss typography curated by ECAL (Lausanne’s School of Art and Design) coupled with a conference at Politecnico di Milano. The project’s second installment, titled “Printed Talks in the City,” opened yesterday with a workshop on typographic printing, typographers and the city. Graphic design and journalism students in Milan are teaming up with young professionals from the field and transform the space of the Istituto Svizzero into a typography laboratory that’s open to the public. The outcome of this research will then be shared through an exhibition devoted to the composition and printing of posters, that will turn the city itself into an open-air museum: Stemming from the idea that the poster is the key means of public communication in contemporary metropolis, a first series of posters will be displayed along the streets of Milan in mid-November, and a second one in January 2013, extending the conversation to an audience of passers-by. (Natalie Esteve)
Dance-music label Fade to Mind
November 16 2012
The recent rise of the dance-music scene with artists like Cooly G, Laurel Halo, Girl Unit and Jam City is the result of the forward-thinking support of a few labels, such as Hyperdub, Hessle Audio or Night Slugs. For the most part this scene has been centered in United Kingdom. Ezra Rubin, the brainchild of Kingdom, has now teamed up with Nguzunguzu, Total Freedom and Prince William to create Fade to Mind, a transatlantic counterpart to Night Slugs. Although both draw from similar musical references, Fade to Mind defines its role in broader terms than its older brother; it claims to be not just a record label, but also a movement supported by a series of club nights, cooperative music and visual art projects.
As a statement of intent, Fade to Mind’s debut was hosted by DIS Magazine and organized in collaboration with Venus X’s cult underground party series GHE20G0TH1K. Among the most recent releases lies “Desert Strike“ the second EP of the ever-ruling Sci-Fi queen Fatima Al Qadiri or Massacooramaan’s “Dead Long Time,” featuring six songs taking in elements of juke, dancehall and other unidentifiable strains of dance music in a brilliantly calculated way. Next to the producers involved in running the label, stand also artists such as MikeQ, Gremino, Cedaa, Morri$, The CLAW, and Rizzla, exploring everything from droned-out techno and grime to ballroom. (Natalie Esteve)
For a quick overview of the label’s sounds, download Fade to Mind’s Mix that “fucks your brain up” for the FADER.