The search, and hunger, for a “wonderland” drives us to forever press on for beauty — to build grander worlds and create alternate realities that will allow us to transcend the bounds of our humanity. Wonderland is a thing forever eschewing graspability, but always riding ahead of us – keeping us moving forward in hopes of reaching ultimate bliss. Indeed, it is this search for wonderland that powers New York-via-Israel artist Ohad Maiman’s newest body of work quixotically entitled “2 Klicks South of Wonderland/Snow White and the Teddy Bear Killers.” Depicting a romantic and hazy liminal world where teddy bears, cartoon characters, and fairy tale humans coexist in the same frame, the work materializes the tensions (and all-out wars) between the real and the chimerical in our imaginations. The photographic prints, which are mounted on wooden boxes and covered with epoxy resin, are vivid and imaginative in their juxtapositions — giving philosophical weightiness to childlike visions. OAKAZINE visited Maiman in his Soho studio — a mystical magician’s lair meets British gentleman’s parlor — and watched as he worked on some of his pieces. “2 Klicks South of Wonderland/Snow White and the Teddy Bear Killers” is currently showing at Stephen Webster in LA and will later be showing at Richard Young Gallery in London and Clic Gallery in New York. Interview after the jump.
While traversing a crosswalk, most New Yorkers cast a disinterested glance at the red hand or white figure (or honking yellow cab) that indicate the appropriate and seemingly obvious modes of conduct when crossing a street. While these signs have become ubiquitous in everyday life and our comprehension of their meaning is taken for granted, a red hand hasn’t always meant “stop,” nor has a white walking figure always told us to “cross”. Such meanings were taught to us via social conventions as well as our own individual experiences. Much of Danish artist Kaser Sonne’s objective is to reveal that our understanding of these and other signs is not as tacit as we believe.
One of the artist’s most recent works, Untitled Sign No. 3, comprised of an installation at the SAPS Museum in Mexico City, made up of the brightly lit neon letters “UTOPIA,” though spelled with an inverse “P.” Confronted with such a piece, an onlooker might interpret an ironic statement about society, or perhaps even cast the same nonchalant glance given to street signs. But Sonne’s reversed letter accomplishes something much more subtle: his small manipulation of the word disrupts our understanding of its original meaning. In an attempt to perceive the meaning of the restructured word, we end up creating it anew based on our own experiences and associations. This reconfiguration, or disruption, of the text brings up another fundamental aspect of Sonne’s art: the recognition of the viewer’s own interpretation of the artwork. Sonne treats the viewer as a kind of participant by acknowledging his or her power over the interpretation of his work. He states that he always attempts to create a space between the object and its concept so that viewers can develop their understanding of the work based on their own references.
Visually, Sonne’s work is muted, unostentatious and largely monochromatic, and in this regard it bears a similarity to Minimalist art. His palate never strays far from black and white, and his sculptures are structurally simple (though deceptively so). His interest in Minimalism is illustrated as an aesthetic – and less so as a philosophy – that serves his exploration of juxtaposition and questioning. His 2009 seriesBorderline (new territory), for example, features monochrome canvases with burned holes in the center, revealing fire-curled edges and stretcher bars beneath the otherwise perfect, smooth surface. The organic nature of the burned holes contrasted with the rigid perfection of the rectangular plane presents a meditation on relationships such as chance versus construction, and perfection versus imperfection, though the viewer’s presence, or interpretation, is never ignored. There exists in each of his works a quietness that leaves space for our own thoughts and interpretations. — Text by Eugenie Dalland. Portrait by Asger Carlsen. More images and interview after the jump.
OAKAZINE caught up with rising Parisian graphic designer/comic book artist Jeremy Piningre. Interview and work after the jump — Corinne Stoll
Recently I left a poetry reading feeling agitated. Anxious and over-educated, the poets reading had tried in vain to resurrect the spirits of great dead poets instead of creating something of their own. It wasn’t the first time since moving to New York that I left a poetry reading feeling deflated– romanticizing about times past when poets were the outlaw prophets and Rimbaudian punk kids who ran around downtown New York fizzing over with verse, transfixing everyone. A time when poetry was composed around the wild, meandering rhythms of the counterculture: stanzas found in Big Sur road trips and meter heard as whispers through motel walls. When I happened upon the work of Jem Goulding (whose poetry also finds form as experimental cinepoems and photographs) I was thrilled to discover a poet canonizing the spirit of the young and unbridled so rawly. “I want to do poetry for the now, make it hot again” Goulding recently divulged over dinner in Williamsburg. “If this level of intimacy is what it’s going to take to break through the stereotype, then fuck it.” It struck me there and then that not only was I perched opposite a poetry pioneer but, more importantly, I had just discovered poetry’s new sex symbol.
A world-traveller with a free, Laurel Canyon spirit despite her British roots, Goulding’s work is a celebration of post-digital bohemian life, love, and art. In the tradition of female artists like Lenore Kandel, Diane Di Prima, Nan Goldin, and Patti Smith, Goulding counterbalances the traditional spectatorial male gaze with an equally powerful feminine one. But feminine agency is just a small piece of Goulding’s ammo, her true originality laying in her brazen analog meditations on male beauty and sexuality that do not set out to emasculate or dissect. While Goulding’s devotion to analog and warm 60s light resurrects the spirit of a time when poetry flowed more freely, her perspective — powered by an unwavering sense of sexuality parity – is clearly one of the 2010s
Goulding has already made waves in London with her experimental 16 mm cinepoem( based on a written poem of the same name) entitled“The Bone Echo.” Starring British super-muses Alice Dellal, Eliza Cummings, and Josh Beech, “The Bone Echo” features an original soundtrack by The Disappears and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, recorded live in Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon studio.“The Bone Echo” is a visually stunning paean to animalistic love; an erotically charged, darkly magical statement that effectively gives poetry back to the wild-hearted. Goulding’s sentiments — unlike many contemporary poets – aren’t couched in esoteric language or paradoxical allusion in order to remain inaccessible. Instead, Goulding treats poetry as an art form that everyone can and should understand and appreciate once again. After the jump Goulding tells OAKAZINE just who she is and what she’s about. — Text by Marlo Kronberg.
Self-described “jackee of all trades” Alexis Blair Penney has a voice like an angel, makes music like Crystal Waters, and has a wicked sense of style that’s a mix of Eurythmics-era Annie Lennox, louche ‘n loafered 80s California prep, and 1997 Gwen Stefani. A San Francisco local celebrity known for his weekly anything-goes “High Fantasy” party at drag bar Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, Penney has recently been garnering buzz outside of SF city limits for insanely catchy tracks culled directly from the CeCe Peniston/Crystal Waters/Kathy Dennis school of 90s house. Although Penney is more than au fait with the art of debauchery (just follow his Twitter), it’s clear that underneath that Patrick Nagel makeup is a softer, more contemplative side; to wit, Penney cites simple pleasures, yoga, and plants as inspirations. OAKAZINE caught up with Penney when he played PS1 with SSION in New York — getting so attached that we followed him all the way back to San Francisco where he gave us a tour of his hood. After the jump we discuss a typical day in the life, 90s house, and showbiz. — Photos: Ken Baldwin, Editor: Peter Berwind Humphrey
The marriage of fashion and photography seems ubiquitous in our era of street style blogs, personal style websites and digital fashion publications. What had existed as two separate spheres of society has now become an essential component of both industries. When Deborah Turbeville began shooting images after working as a fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle, neither journalism nor art nor fashion knew just quite what to do with her. At age twenty she was working for designer Claire McCardell, quickly advancing to the mastheads of the best publications of her time. It was only after seminars with Richard Avedon and Marvin Israel that she leapt into the world of photography that encompassed everything she knew– fashion, people and the transformative power of light.
Deborah Turbeville continues to produce work even as the genre she pioneered has become profoundly saturated. In 2002, she traveled to the Baltic School of Photography to fulfill a Fulbright grant teaching a seminar on her craft. She later taught at St. Petersburg’s Smolney institute and completed her book, Past Imperfect. A reflection on her body of work from 1974 to the late 1990′s, Turbeville gave the world a brief look into her inspiration and rich history. Unknown models peer out from fashion shoot outtakes, strangers in European cities look out and past the camera, and vignettes show clearly that light and intensity are the soul of her work. Even as fashion photographers become a dime a dozen and anyone with a point-and-shoot can throw together a photo spread, Turbeville remains an important figure in the craft she pioneered. She now divides her time between New York, St. Petersburg and Mexico; showing in galleries and being published often in L’uomo Vogue, Casa Vogue and Italian Vogue. — Text by Kelsey Kreiling
Filled with the youthful exuberance of a child king and the austerity of a man born to lead, Christian Deslauriers has become a bright star in the world of menswear design. This Montreal native has built a reputation on dark variations of menswear staples- evoking the idea of both a young man in grown man’s clothes and an older man reaching for youth. As a designer, he values wit and eloquence above all which perfectly explains his knitwear, his graphic prints, his jumpsuits and his undersized hats. His path to Christian L’enfant Roi was swift- after completing his fashion design degree at College LaSalle, he joined the Andy the Ahn team. He eventually became the second in command to one of Canada’s foremost womenswear designers and, after refining his skills, launched his own collection in October 2010. We spoke to Deslauriers about his future travels, his best advice and just what it was like being born on the first star to the left.
Read our full interview with Christian Deslauriers after the jump. -Kelsey Kreiling