Girls On Film

— Client: W — Journalism - Art - Journalism

Four naked Eastern European women with cameras may sound like a plot for pay per view porn, but is in fact the concept behind a new art collaboration. For the past year, the young artists Aneta Bartos, Martynka Wawrzyniak, Elle Muliarchyk and Yana Toyber have taken provocative, lusty, surreal, violent and tender photographs and videos of each other in the nude. “The work is so powerful, both culturally and aesthetically,” says the curator Anne Huntington, who is collaborating with the group on an early November exhibition. “It’s beautiful, raw and human, it’s almost like a purge.” To the artists, the project is a deeply personal exploration of sexual identity and relationships. The intimacy between them is palpable in the pictures, as the women expose themselves and each other with the kind of abandon that rarely exists outside a closed bedroom door.

Aneta Bartos

“For me, this project was originally about sex and spirit and how it plays such a role in shaping cultures and religions and taboos,,” says Aneta Bartos, an art and fashion photographer who was born in Poland. (All the artists are of Eastern-European origin) Her darkly romantic images are shot on Polaroid film in seedy hotel rooms, and have the look of sinister erotic tableaux. Bartos says that the work has helped her shed some of her Catholic baggage and embrace the power of female sexuality. She says: “As I started feeling these amazing connections with the other women, I introduced new issues about freedom and dominance. Because that’s how I really see the girls.”

Martynka Wawrzyniak

“I find the petty, competitive female nature very challenging . This is the first time that I have had close working relationships with a group of women,” says Martynka Wawrzyniak, a Polish-born photography and video artist who explores femininity with both brutality and warmth in the project. One her works is a split-screen video of the four artists emphatically smearing their faces with lipstick.” I wanted to challenge the whole idea of the beauty shot,” she says. “It’s interesting to see someone destroy their face with something that is supposed to beautify you. But it’s also about being bare. We just let go of all insecurities and I think we look so beautiful, because it’s the true person coming out.”

Yana Toyber

“I haven’t done any nudes until this project,” says the Ukrainian-born artist and fashion photographer Yana Toyber. “I have photographed a lot of people in the sex industry, but I always had the girls dressed because they’re always exposed and I wanted to show their faces.” She shoots her fellow collaborators under water and the images have a dreamy and tender quality. “I wanted to work with water because it feels a little embryonic and evokes the feeling of birth,” she says. The images also symbolize a more global form of nurturing. Says Tober: “Water is a resource that we need to protect. Its future scarcity threatens our survival.”

Elle Muliarchyk

Belarusian Elle Muliarchyk is a former model who made her name as an artist when she started taking guerrilla fashion pictures of herself in upscale boutique dressing rooms. “I’m fascinated with a woman’s body, but I see it not in relation to my own womanhood but more as a material – totally raw and foreign and pregnant with fantastical possibilities,” she says. It seems fitting then that she used her partners’ naked limbs to recreate her own “very sexual, visual and weird” dreams. One of her photos features a (taxidermy) wolf hovering over Aneta Bartos’ crotch and another shows Yana Toyber with a fire-spitting vagina. “A friend of mine called that picture very religious,” says Muliarchyk. “It’s a burning bush!”

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Multimedia Package | An Art Book You Can Wear, Too

— Client: T: The New York Times Style Magazine — Journalism - Art - Journalism

“We think that one of the great virtues of art is that it enables us to see the world differently through multiple lenses,” comes the statement from the V collective, a fashion advertising and branding agency as well as the masterminds, along with 3 Deep Design, behind the newly launched Project 00. The specific lenses here are an art book, a DVD and a T-shirt, all focused on the work of a single artist.

The first issue, which makes its debut Sept. 17 at the New Museum, sets its sights on the German artist Robert Knoke with a 240-page book called “Black Material,” a selection of films and a T-shirt featuring one of Knoke’s striking black-and-white ink portraits. Knoke says he chose the title “Black Material” because the project made him look at his drawings differently and to focus on the details. “It’s more abstract than portraiture,” says Knoke, who is fascinated with fashion and pop-culture personalities like Rick Owens, Terence Koh and Patti Smith. “I use the portrait as a point of departure, but the person becomes my material through the drawing. They all end up looking the same in a way.” Casey Spooner, who is one of Knoke’s favorite subjects, concurs. “The drawings are almost like a mix of representational art and Abstract Expressionism,” Spooner says. “Collectively, the works become more like portraits of Robert himself.”

“Volume 01 – Black Material” will be sold at Seven New York, Oak, Isetan, 10 Corso Como and Colette.

Isn’t It Surreal? Dorothea Tanning at The Drawing Center

— Client: T: The New York Times Magazine — Journalism - Art

Dorothea Tanning, the last of the Surrealists, has always been something of a fashion plate. A long-limbed beauty and a piquant dresser, Tanning scoured vintage shops and played dress-up with extravagant 19th-century pieces. Her eclectic style sense is celebrated in the 1942 self-portrait “Birthday” in which the bare-breasted artist sports an Elizabethan-style jacket, a draped skirt and what appears to the be the entire root system of a very large tree.

An exhibition at the Drawing Center of Tanning’s sketches of ballet costumes for the choreographer George Balanchine makes you think that it’s too bad she never tried her hand at fashion design. While clearly steeped in 1940s surrealism, the designs also have a strangely contemporary quality. Clingy witch’s dresses have a raw and revealing aesthetic that wouldn’t look out of place on Alexander Wang’s runway, while a fantastical ship headdress paired with a magnificent crinoline bring to mind the work of Philip Treacy and John Galliano.

“These drawings feature ideas and themes that she was exploring throughout her entire practice,” says assistant curator Rachel Liebowitz, who worked on the show with the Drawing Center assistant curator Joanna Kleinberg. “They really give you an understanding of what she aimed to do.”

Dorothea Tanning

Tanning, whose 100th birthday is Aug. 25, arrived in New York at age 22 with $25 and a dream of being an artist. She quickly fell in with the eccentric — and fiendishly chic — surrealist crowd that included the likes of André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalí, René Magritte and Max Ernst, whom she eventually married. Another friend was Balanchine, who was so impressed with Tanning’s sense of sartorial drama that he asked her to collaborate on his ballets.

“The costume sketches and her early paintings show a recurrent theme of fabric and drapery, which developed into soft cloth sculptures later in her practice,” Kleinberg says.

Tanning was not directly involved in the exhibition, but gave the curators her blessing and the occasional suggestion. (She resides in the West Village in a crimson and periwinkle apartment filled with Surrealist art.) In recent interviews she displays a sharp wit and the kind of seen-it-all laser-beam intelligence.

“I can only say that if a work doesn’t make being sane and alive not only possible but wonderful, well, move on to the next picture,” she told in 2002.

The work displayed at the Drawing Center is certainly worthy of lingering.

Hedi Metal

— Client: Surface Magazine — Journalism - Art

Around the turn of the millennium, Hedi Slimane transformed the male fashion and beauty ideal. As creative director of Yves Saint Laurent Homme and Dior Homme, he ushered in a new image of masculinity; a barely post-adolescent body packaged in skinny jeans, shrunken jackets and dangling scarves. Since then, the scrawny rock boy has become a mainstream fashion image. But the Paris-born, 40-year-old Slimane’s aesthetic influence extends well beyond the world of couture (from which he, perhaps temporarily, retired last year). While also moonlighting as an interior designer, furniture designer and guest editor of French newspaper Libération, the assiduous Slimane has managed to establish himself as a photographer and installation artist. In fact, his artistic endeavors started long before he ever entered an atelier, when he started taking pictures at age 11 and later studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris. Over the past four years, Slimane has published four books, shown 11 solo exhibitions and participated in three group shows in prestigious galleries and museums around the world. “He is a true workaholic: he doesn’t stop thinking or doing and he’s always taking photos,” says Agustín Pérez Rubio, chief curator of the Spanish contemporary art museum, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC), where Slimane is currently showing a large site-specific installation of photos and videos taken during the Benicàssim music festival in 2007.

However, as he slips in and out of different disciplines and contexts, Slimane’s vision remains constant. His black-and-white frames are starkly composed with simple but striking silhouettes while his installations and sculptures (and even furniture) have a similarly graphic foundation. “Hedi is an artist who has his own space, his own universe, where he explores the thin line between adolescence and the loss of innocence,” says Pérez Rubio. The hero of Slimane’s universe is the young rebel who shuffled down the Dior Homme catwalks and who appears throughout his body of work, from the young bohemians in his debut book Berlin, to the rock stars and their fans who are the subjects of shows like “Perfect Stranger” at the Galerie Almine Rech in Paris last year and of the MUSAC exhibit. “I always had a feeling for anything that was emerging,” says Slimane, explaining his fascination with youth culture. “When I was a teenager, I was already aware of the vulnerability and grace of it. I started photography at age 11, and, oddly, the subject has always been the same, all these years, unchanged.”

Slimane’s most prolific muse is Pete Doherty, singer of London bands The Libertines and Babyshambles, and a druggy tabloid fixture who was portrayed in Slimane’s book London Birth of A Cult and inspired at least one Dior Homme collection. “I tried to capture the rise of a young rock star, a sort of new romantic character,” says Slimane. In frame after frame, Slimane calmly and tenderly examines the incandescent sensuality, recklessness and vulnerability of a musician who is regularly portrayed as a wasted crack head in the gossip pages. Pérez Rubio sees Slimane’s interpretation of pop culture as the foundation of his work. “He likes to keep up with everything,” says Rubio. “He’s extremely inquisitive, and his curiosity makes him absorb things around him and turn them into poetry and magic.”