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Month: January, 2011

Marc Quinn

Marc Quinn is one of my favorite artists right now. His work, to my liking, is a combination of ugly and beautiful and is “calculating[ly] provocative”. He takes the normal, finds something twisted or unwanted about it, and then proceeds to sculpt or paint it into something magnificent. His work was featured in 2000 in the highly-touristic and typically conservative/stiff Trafalgar Square in London. The square hosts four plinths, three of which properly hold statues of King George IV and two military generals, Henry Havelock and Sir Charles James Napier. The last of the 4 plinths was supposed to hold a statue depicting William IV, but apparently people didn’t like him enough to want to pay for a statue in his honor, so the last plinth lied barren, and since has been used to display public works of art. Marc Quinn was commissioned to put a sculpture up on the plinth, and in his artistic fashion chose a rather shocking and loud piece to display to the London public. The piece he chose was of a deformed and pregnant Alison Lapper, a british artist born with a congenial disorder that left her without arms and with stubs of legs.

The piece sparked controversy on two levels. One, because people don’t like having to look at the delicate state of human health and of life in general as it reminds them of their own potential and inevitability for  illnesses, deformities and death (meanwhile being placed on a plinth in the heart of London they couldn’t avoid it). Secondly, People also didn’t like the sculpture because of the fact that this deformed, disadvantaged woman was going to give life to a child she could neither hold in her arms nor change diapers for. Lapper has proven to be a good mother, and gave birth to a fully formed child in 1999. And while at first Londoners hated the piece, an overwhelming majority of the city grew to love it roughly a year later (90%, according to a city-wide poll taken).

Some of my favorite work by Quinn (from 2006) are his sculptures and paintings of Kate Moss doing yoga. She’s not actually the one that posed for Quinn, though, but if that were so I’d have infinitely more respect for the model icon than I already do (the fact that she picked herself up and dusted herself off after being cast out of the modeling industry for cocaine use, only to come back and triple her already respectable income is pretty fantastic and applause worthy if I do say so myself).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t really find any satisfactory paintings he did of Moss yoga on the web, but they are pretty exquisite as well.

—Side note: I’m completely thrilled because Quinn is scheduled to have an exhibition displaying his new work in Norway opening this May, so I’ll be able to catch it when I’m there in June(!!)

One other quirky Quinn work that is both gross but intriguing is/are his frozen blood sculptures which he makes every 5 years of his own head (using 4.5 liters of his blood), which he does apparently to show the aging process. I was pretty grossed out when I first heard of it, and i’m not completely sold on the idea yet, but it’s definitely worth sharing and interesting nonetheless in concept.

blah! blood!



Life and dogs (winter)

Die Antwoord

So with a band like Die Antwoord, you either love them or you hate them. Their intensity doesn’t really provide much room for a middle ground. I, myself, love them. They are total freaks, but if you can get past that and accept it, they are wonderful–raw, fresh, and completely alien in the best of ways.

Yolandi (left) is a badass pixie-like sex symbol freak, and ninja (right) is weirdo wearing pink floyd underpants whose afrikaans accent makes his english have a trillish snarl that I love.

From an American perspective, they are very dirty, both in their looks and in their lyrics. Coming from a shitty dump town in South Africa, they represent “Zef” style, which they’ve described in a ‘W’ magazine interview as “apocalyptic debris”. “It’s like a kid in Liberia wearing a Tupac T-shirt, and for us that’s zef. People try to say it’s like trash, but it’s not really trash. It’s putting things together you think are cool.”. They get very annoyed at the world thinking of them as trash, and in one interview Yolandi said that they think of themselves as “fancy and sophisticated people” who “live a nice lifestyle and get paid”, which they do, having been signed to Interscope records (Lady Gaga) and having had Diplo (produced MIA’s paper planes) featured on their Evil Boy music video.

Their success started out with one internet video that went viral, Beat Boy, which made people stare and question in a kind of confused, almost horrified fascination. 

My favorite of their songs, though, is also their most popular song, ‘Enter the Ninja’. Yolandi’s high-pitch makes her sound like a kind of harijuku lover.

What I can’t get over is how hot and just completely boss Yolandi is. The chick has a space-age looking mullet, a weird alien looking face, is really creepy, and yet she kicks so much @$$. Maybe it’s just me, but she oozes icon status with her seductive scrappiness. Don’t think so? Watch the evil boy music video where she’s decked out in albino rats.

Some more photos:

^is he wearing fingerless-glove tighty-whities?


Singing in the Rain

I think I might have been seven or eight when I first saw the movie Singing in the Rain (1952). I think it was at that point that I really remember recognizing what it was to have talent.

Everything about the movie–from the singing and dancing to the dialogue, impresses me and not once have I grown bored or tired of watching it (rough count is maybe around 11-15 at this point). While I’m not usually a huge musical genre fan, I appreciate the level of work and raw talent that had to go into such an early cinematic performance. Chicago (2002) and even shows like Glee are of comparable talent, but they lack a certain star power and energy that Singing in the Rain emanates. It’s hard to put a finger on it, exactly. Perhaps it’s just the grace and theatrical style of old Hollywood cinema (even though Singing in the Rain falls shortly after) that makes Gene Kelly so suave and charmingly cute as he splashes in puddles, or Donald O’Connor that brilliantly clownish as he dances into walls and over couches as he sings ‘Make ’em Laugh”. While the tides have shifted towards a new kind of talent that favors realism and method acting over tap dancing and grinning, I still feel that there’s something mystical and alive about the older form of talent, which is why I always find myself going back to Singing in the Rain at the end of the day even though I’d like to be edgy and cool enough to say that my favorite movie was Pulp Fiction or American Psycho or something (although I do really like both of those movies, too). Also, editing technology now lets actors have far more leeway and free-passes than they used to, meaning that all of the singing and dance numbers shot in Singing in the Rain had to be perfectly executed. That’s not to say that actors today always have it easier, but they do lack a certain type of hard, tactile work and logged hours that Debbie Reynolds had to log in order to learn how to dance to be cast in the role. Yes, Debbie Reynolds in fact did not know how to dance before being cast as the part-time showgirl Kathy Selden.

Take a look at an excerpt where Reynolds performs “Dream of You”: 

The three stars also have more chemistry on screen than I’ve probably ever since witnessed, which makes people like me watching feel like I’m somehow part of this on-screen friendship. (And it makes sense that they have so much chemistry as that’s probably something that naturally happens when you’re forced into spending hours and hours practicing dance routines and dialogue together.)

Here’s a scene between Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly that explodes with chemistry and can literally get anyone out of a moody rut (but then again, I’d just go ahead and watch the entire movie instead… there are too many good scenes): 

And of course everyone probably knows or is familiar with the puddle scene, but the grace and charm that comes out of Gene Kelly literally just causes me to feel pure joy:

And then there’s this 21st century remake of Gene Kelly’s puddle scene which is also pretty rad…

I have to say, though, that I think my favorite scene from the movie is Donald O’Connors ‘Make ’em Laugh’. 

So good!

And, being a Glee fan myself, I actually really liked the Glee tribute to Singing in the Rain with the contemporary mash-up spin featuring Umbrella. 


Street Art!

It being my first blog entry, I feel a need to cover some ground in defining what this blog is all about and why I’m writing it. For starters, I like to share things that I like (art, music, cinema, whatever) and I like feeling like a pseudo art collector in doing so, since i can’t actually own any of these things, which is too bad. But at least I can pretend to. Note: I’m having difficulty figuring out how to do the image layout. So, ignore it for now.

I simultaneously deleted my facebook while making this blog (revision: I reactivated it 6 hours later), as I felt like a was spending too much time doing too little. So this, I hope, is a good alternative. I also have a terrible time following through with things, so this blog might fail, but at least by starting it I can give consistency a try. Let’s cross our fingers.

In terms of life in general, I’m a sophomore at USC studying film. I love movies, art, and really anything provocative or smart (rhyme not intended). I both love and don’t love the school. Love: The film school, the accessibility of a big city, the abundance of culture, the endless sea of people to look at and meet, lots of restaurants (Joan’s on 3rd is amazing, as is this little nameless vietnamese food place in Silver Lake). Don’t love: The hugeness and stereotyped accuracies (University of Spoiled Children?) of the school, the concrete jungle feel, the pollution (terrible for my asthma), the rudeness!, everyone who pretends to be  a celebrity of holier-than-thou status, and maybe just college in general. The great thing about being in college, though, is that one is forced to realize that he/she (I) is (am) actually going to have to be a functioning, hopefully productive part of society. More than that, even, is that one has to digest the anxiety associated with the reality that he/she (I) will have to fight to accomplish and feel proud of his/her (my) life’s output, and not to fall into mediocrity. Geez!

When things like that begin twirling around in my head I usually use Netflix as my anxiety ‘force quit’. Recently when this happened (or maybe I was just bored), I came across the street-art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010), and discovered how little I knew about street-art and how much I liked it. So below I’ve posted some pieces and commentary I learned from the movie and from some side browsing of my own. Enjoy!


<<<Exit Through the Gift Shop  (2010)… watch it!

^^^These are by Banksy, who not only is of the world’s most prolific and stylish (and elusive) street artists, but is also the director of the doc ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ (which, by the way, is an excellent film and I have to admire Thierry Guetta aka Mr. Brainwash for his persistence and diligence albeit his psychotic and really annoying personality). The middle image that I posted of the little boy through the crack in the wall is located on the Palestine-Israeli border, which is pure genius and total balls. Completely haunting, and makes me wonder how all human beings were once just little kids building sand castles (and why they can’t still be).

<<<A neo-warhol print by MBW, Mr. Brainwash, which made it onto the cover of LA Weekly. Funny thing is that he doesn’t actually do much (if any) of the art himself–he “envisions” it and then has others do the labor. Faker? Artist? Where’s the line to be drawn?

<<<An image most people probably recognize created by street-art icon Shepard Fairey. The image is an act of street-art/Skating propaganda that took place as a type of experiment replicating the type of repetitive nature of WWII propaganda. The icon is known as “Andre the Giant has a Posse”, which is based off the wrestler/actor Andre the Giant. See image below.

Speaking of Propaganda, Fairy also continued his experiment of propaganda into a more serious and and charged realm: the 2008 presidential elections. Making a poster for Obama’s campaign, Fairy created the stencil art poster of Obama’s head with “Hope” written below, which effectively pleased and appealed to the Urban-Outfitter toting yuppie generation, which is exactly what Fairy wanted. Street artist / leader of social change… maybe as good as it gets, IMO. Irony:  (he’s also a felon)

<<<The poster, and Shepard Fairey himself.

Basically, street art is really cool and I kind of want to go buy some stencils and spray paint.