In: Fashion

Anouska Beckwith, England-born and Paris-based photographer, is the artist to follow. Interested in nature and mystical, Anouska tries to capture the intrinsic relationship between the unseen natural wonders and presents her subjects in the dreamlike settings.

The founder of the World Wide Women, the collective of female photographers from all over the world, the artist searches for ways of expressing her own views on the world by means of photography, poetry and music. Her models are frequently musicians and other people from creative industries giving her photographs yet an extra layer of artistic meaning.

This September Anouska presents her second solo show (following her debut in New York last yer with the show Transcendence) and her first solo show in London called Uni~Verse at the Palm Tree Gallery. I met Anouska last year when we discussed her creative process and her inspirations to follow up her own practice and perhaps have a solo show in London. Now, when the show is finally happening, we talked again, discussing the background behind Uni~Verse and the new future ambitions.


The Mists of Avalon, 2013 © Anouska Beckwith

The Mists of Avalon, 2013 © Anouska Beckwith

Why did you choose the word Uni~Verse as the title for your show?

I chose the title ‘Uni-Verse’ for the show as I loved the meaning, ‘One song’ coming from the Greek origin.

I believe that despite humans, animals and nature being different from one another we are all a collection of parts that make up the whole to form ‘one song’. I felt that ‘Uni-Verse’ encompassed what I wished to express through my work, a melody in nature’s symphony.

What’s the theme/focus behind it?

‘ Women have always been the guardians of wisdom and humanity which makes them natural, but usually secret, rulers. The time has come for them to rule openly, but together with and not against men.’ – Charlotte Wolf

The theme for the exhibition looks at nature as the backdrop for the exploration of feminine archetypes and endurance throughout time. As I believe that our planet is having a rebirth of the feminine. We have been living in a patriarchal society for the past 3000 years and although we have had some incredible advancement we are now in need of a big change, which is beginning to happen. I feel that we need to encourage guardianship of the Earth and for us to realign with the natural cycles rather than go against them.

What was the inspiration behind your new projects?

I have drawn from different sources for my work, which have either been from songs that I have been listening to or books that I have been reading such as ‘Women that run with wolves’ which inspired me to create

‘The Handless Maiden’ or from the use of tarot cards which led me to create ‘ The Empress’ featuring Flo Morrissey or looking at the chaos around me after the Paris attacks all of this past year and seeing the pain and destruction in the world led me to create ‘War In Heaven’.

Your new works position models in the natural setting. Women look unprotected to the natural forces. What notions are you trying to raise in your work?

I love nature and all that it provides us with but I also respect it as it can be destructive and catastrophic in some cases. I feel that we are lucky to be here, it is a gift not a given. I think a lot of people have forgotten this and try to manipulate something much greater than we have been led to believe. Through my work I try to explore the harmony between the two. Yet the insignificance of our presence, how temporary it is in the scheme of things, overwhelms me at times and I am reminded that it is a miracle.

 Who are your models?

I usually choose models for my own work that inspire me. I like working with people I know mainly as I find there is a relaxed energy when taking photographs. I photographed Macha Polivka, an amazing healer and actress who I met outside of Paris last summer at an ashram. She is very natural and beautiful. I found working with her an absolute joy as she was completely in her body. Xamira Azul I met through my good friend and fellow artist Amanda Charchian last year during a summer solstice ritual and we have become friends ever since.

Flo Morrissey is one of my best friends whom I met through World Wide Women when she performed at our Ritual Exhibition. Last year she moved to Paris, which has been a dream world for us to share. Over the past couple of years we’ve had ongoing projects together. She is also extremely adventurous! Last year we were in Ibiza and I had a whole vision of her inside this remote cave. At first she looked at me as if to say ‘really?’ but once I told her of my idea she climbed up and took position. She looked like a water goddess.

How do you choose location and subject of your work?

Usually I have an image in mind of what backdrop I would like for the photograph and then I either research a place to shoot or I stumble across something even more magical than I could have pictured. Usually choosing the subject and location come hand in hand.

Why did you decide to have your second solo show specifically in London?

I choose to have my second solo show in London as it’s where I grew up and felt that it was important for me to return to my roots. My family is from England and even though I live in Paris there will always be a part of me there.

You mostly photograph female models, why?

I mainly photograph women because I find them fascinating. The form and curve of a woman is much more interesting to me than men. There is a mystery to them that when photographed can capture a very vulnerable moment that I think only is expressed by a woman photographing another woman. A trust is formed between the two people.

How do you balance the intrinsic nature of your work with the commercial aspect of photography?

I think when you create work it should come from a place of integrity and truth. How one conducts themself is equally important. I feel that nature and beauty are two things that everyone should be exposed to as so many people live their lives in fear without hope of a brighter future. I think that offering work to inspire people as an alternative for the future is what we are in desperate need of. I am not saying that my work does this but I try to convey a message of hope and awareness of our mother earth and all her many gifts.

I use social media and I think the more people who can see ones work is always a positive if the message is truthful. Even if it affects just one person that is enough for me as one person can have a ripple effect.

What’s next for you?

I am creating a short film with a dancer in the Fall and I will be continuing shooting the ‘War In Heaven’ series as I wish to turn it into a book, as well as working on my installation room ‘ I Am The Other You’.

I will also be doing editorial work.

 

Uni~Verse on view at the Palm Tree Gallery September 16th – October 8th

291 Portobello Rd, London

Every May, I look forward to the colorful parade of celebrities in over the top outfits from the Met Gala. I must admit I am quite fond of a well executed “naked dress.” I am equally enthusiastic about the Met’s costume exhibits, except for Alexander McQueen’s in 2011, which I could not get into. I was absolutely dazzled by this year’s show “Manus X Machina: Fashion in an age of Technology,” which is a stunning celebration of both haute couture and modern ready-to-wear fashion. The exhibit, set up in the Robert Lehman Wing and on view until August 14th, focuses on the growing distinction between the hand (manus) and the machine (machina) in the fashion world. Traditional techniques of embroidery, artificial flowering, and pleating are juxtaposed with technologically advanced ones such as 3D printing and laser cutting. Visitors can expect to be both captivated and overwhelmed by the abundance of luxurious garments, as well as fascinated by the intricacies of the craft of haute couture.

Upper Level Gallery View: Embroidery. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Upper Level Gallery View: Embroidery. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The entrance of the exhibit features a majestic Chanel wedding gown designed by Karl Lagerfeld—Brian Eno’s “An Ending (Ascent)” plays, the notes quietly looming throughout the domed atrium. My companion and I spent about ten minutes or so staring at the beautiful twenty foot train train of the gown and meticulously attempted to get the perfect angle for our Instagram posts. After admiring the wedding gown, we moved on to conquer the other halls in the exhibit of seemingly endless concoctions of tulle, silk, and sequins. The rest of the exhibit is organized according to various métiers, or crafts, which include tailoring, lace, feather-work, and flowering. Each installation is accompanied by a copiously detailed description of the construction process of the garments. Out of the 170 pieces on display, I could not possibly pinpoint a singular “best” item. Manus X Machina features opulent gowns by Dior, whimsical structural dresses by Issey Miyake, a wall of Chanel Suits, and other designs by Alexander McQueen, Margiela, and many other important innovators in fashion.  

Chanel Suits, Installation View. Photo by Shoshana Edelman.

Chanel Suits, Installation View. Photo by Shoshana Edelman.

While the curators of the exhibit could have very easily infused Manus X Machina with too much esoteric detail about the technology of these garments, the exhibit is at once viscerally and intellectually stimulating. It neither presents fashion as frivolous nor does it skimp on the wow factor.  This exhibit is certainly one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by the Costume Institute and I think it will be difficult to top in terms of scale and grandeur. Manus X Machina is a perfect summer outing for fashion nerds and science nerds alike. Be sure to peruse the gift shop at the end which in addition to adorable children’s books about Coco Chanel, offers some stylish items including the coveted Issey Miyake Bao Bao bag. I will definitely return to Manus X Machina to brainstorm for my future gown closet and perhaps leave with a Miyake bag or two. A girl can dream, right?

Flying Saucer Dress, Issey Miyake, Spring/Summer, 1994. Photo by Shoshana Edelman

Flying Saucer Dress, Issey Miyake, Spring/Summer, 1994. Photo by Shoshana Edelman

“Manus x Machina: Fashion in an age of Technology,” is on view from May 5 through August 14, 2016.

On an abnormally cold April morning, I had the pleasure of meeting with the New York City based artist, Phoebe Berglund, at Hunter College where she is currently the Artist in Residence in the ceramics department. In addition to ceramics, she also has an extensive dance background and incorporates choreography into her work. Berglund, who radiates with an interesting combination of wisdom and youthful optimism, recently finished her solo exhibition Dance Floor: An Archive of Steps at Hunter. I sat down with Berglund to pick her brain about the exhibit and her fascinating artistic trajectory.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background and your education?

I’m from the Oregon Coast, I started taking ballet and modern when I was 5, I joined a dance company when I was 9.  We had class and would rehearse like 6 days a week for 3-4 productions a year, mostly reconstructions of classic dance works and dance interpretations of literary classics with original choreography. My dance teacher came from New York and she had studied with Martha Graham, so our productions were very polished. I grew up really poor, my mom raised me and my five siblings alone; she still works at a fish market today and my brothers are commercial fisherman. When we didn’t have money my mom would pay my dance teacher in fish.

How long have you wanted to be an artist?

In high school I got a big scholarship to study at a gymnasium near Frankfurt, my German host parents were artists and it was the first time I saw people living off their art. My host mom was a contemporary ceramicist and my host dad made book ends and they ran an art gallery, they taught me a lot about life.

© Photo by Matthew Newton

© Photo by Matthew Newton

I saw on your CV that you studied at the Universitat der Kunst, what was it like studying in Berlin? How does the art scene there compare to the one in New York?

When I went to the UDK a few years ago it was like going home, I feel very comfortable in Germany. Berlin is a cool place, I liked it that we could smoke cigarettes in class during art crits. I met a lot of interesting artists and just did a lot of hanging out. I bought an inflatable boat and took friends on boat rides in the canals, we would row around the swans and paint watercolors. It was very relaxing, I didn’t meet any artists that worked more than like one day per week. That’s a big difference from New York.

Your exhibition is quite elaborate. What did the process entail and what was your vision and concept?

First I developed the choreography, which involves 3 jobs- walking, working and waiting-then and some elements of a game structure on a grid. I performed this with two dancers while cutting tiles to build the floor on the opening night of the show. The following week the tiles dried then I fired them in the kiln. I put the bisqued fragments of the dance floor back into the exhibition space and treated it as a dance archive and I invited archaeologists, librarians and choreographers in to interview. I asked each person to physically handle the dance documents and to rearrange the composition of the library according to the logic of the discipline they came from. Every day the exhibition was in a new order.

When the show closed I photographed every single piece of the dance floor individually in the style of how the Met photographs artifacts. The next step is glazing them and making wall pieces that are coordinates with stage positions from the perspective of the dancer- upstage, downstage, center stage, etc.

A very important part of the work is that it will be sold by weight. Each piece will be sold based on a calculation that considers the 500 pounds of clay used to build the dance floor, the weight of 3 dancers, the square feet of the space, the time it took to build, divided by the total number of fragments of the dance floor.

Did anything in particular inspire you to do this project?

I have been thinking about dance documentation and dance archives for a long time. During undergrad at Antioch, my federal work study job was in the library and I was very into dance research. I exhausted the interlibrary loan system, I ordered everything that had to do with dance history and any critical theory related to dance. I think it’s interesting that documentation is always incomplete even with technology today, there is always something missing. Retracing dance steps is puzzling, it excites me.

Installation shot. Courtesy of The Artist.

Installation shot. Courtesy of The Artist.

Can you elaborate a bit on the themes of labor and leisure in your exhibition? Do you think these themes are especially relevant to the dance world?

Also while at Antioch,  I took a lot of economics classes. My most involved research paper was about the political economy of dance in late capitalism, which was a turning point for me in my understanding of dance as an academic discipline. My current research has to do with the relationship between dance and Neo-liberalism, which places a high stress on corporate ‘performance’ and eradicates the boundary between work and non-work time, now we are essentially always working, always performing. For me, I think that dance is an interesting form to use to investigate how time is structured today, how work is currently being organized. With my projects now I am asking some of the same questions from my undergrad research paper about the exchange value, cultural value and transformative value of dance which is absolutely relevant to the dance world and the art world today.

Why did you choose to use EDM music as your soundtrack?

I think of the body as a technological tool and in this work the body is the instrument that notates the dance. It is important to me that the body operate between music made with contemporary machines and clay tablets, the oldest material used for writing. Also there is the rich history of EDM that is really radical and democratic, it has been bringing people together in alternative spaces for a long time now. The majority of the soundtrack came from Larry Levan’s DJ set on the closing night of Paradise Garage, a discotheque in Hudson Square from the 70’s, 80’s, the set list traces back some of the beginnings of New York House music.

Can you talk more about your dance background and how it influences your work?

When I got to New York I went to the Martha Graham School, classes were at 8 am uptown and everybody would wear black unitards and red lipstick. I was also hanging around Movement Research during that time, downtown and mostly everybody was in sweatpants. Then I quit dance for a while because the stage didn’t make sense to me anymore and dance for the camera didn’t make sense to me either. I had other interests and I found visual art to be more stimulating so I did my MFA in Combined Media at Hunter, I finished in 2013. I think I had to leave dance in order to understand it. I am still trying to understand it, it is deceptively simple but it is really very complicated.

Photo by Matthew Newton ©

© Photo by Matthew Newton

Are there any artists or performers that inspire you the most?

I go to see a lot of shows, recently I saw the Fischli and Weiss: How to Work Better retrospective at the Guggenheim. I went alone and listened to the audio guide, I was there all day I loved it so much. Last week I saw DD Dorvillier‘s beautiful piece Extra Shapes at the Kitchen, it was part of the exhibition “From Minimalism into Algorithm,” which was all great. I loved my friend Geo Wyeth’s performance Storm Excellent Salad at PS1 last month, it was totally wild and inventive. I try to go to see all my friends work, that’s a priority.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

I like working with my friends, the great thing about both dance and ceramics is that it’s all about community. Unless you are a solo artist you are never going to dance alone. In the ceramics studio it took three people to load the dance floor into the kiln, it is physically impossible to work alone on projects of this scale and scope.

Would you like to experiment with any other forms of art?

I’ll use any form the idea requires. Right now I’m basically running a construction company/ dance company that specializes in clay flooring that transforms into libraries of dance documents.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I have a show coming up May 1- May 31 Dance Floor: An Archive of Steps (Rite of Spring) at Orgy Park, an artist run space in Bushwick, curated by Katherine Aungier. On May Day we will build a terra-cotta dance floor outside in the garden, I am reconstructing a few of Nijinsky’s steps from his 1913 Rite of Spring but mostly it will be my choreography.

 

On March 2nd, VIP guests and press filled Piers 92 and 94 to preview the 22nd edition of the Armory Show, with Benjamin Genocchio—the Armory’s new executive director—bringing together just over 200 galleries from 36 countries. It is the show’s largest international turn out yet, with galleries from Mexico City to Reykjavík. As the Armory Show has grown, it has introduced a special invitational section that focuses on encapsulating artistic practices from a certain region. For its 7th edition, the show presents “Focus: African Perspectives,” curated by Yvette Mutumba and Julia Grosse, the founders of Contemporary And, an online platform that focuses on global art from African perspectives.

While some of the galleries outside of the focus exhibition seemed to take the theme to heart, after investigating, it became apparent that most are simply just becoming more internationally aware and looking beyond their domestic landscapes. Many galleries’ rosters feature a wide range of very diverse artists, not just in terms of nationality but also diversity of medium and theme. With such an international range of artists and works, it seems our interest in the global has been reflected within the art market. However, unsurprisingly and understandably, most galleries have stuck to the usual show of their newest works by their most marketable artists, international or not. Dealers brought out classic blue chip artists, such as Dan Flavin and Ai Weiwei, and, as is expected, displaying works that preview what is to come for the next season and playing off the popular trends within the art world.

Courtesy of Lisson Gallery and the Artist: Ai Weiwei, "Shelter," 2014. Photograph by Madeleine Mermall

Courtesy of Lisson Gallery and the Artist: Ai Weiwei, “Shelter,” 2014. Photography by Madeleine Mermall

Despite the sometimes too obvious business side of the fair, it was a big year politically with lots of hot button issues, such as racial inequality, which are reflected in many of the contemporary works on display, indicating dealers’ have an understanding that social consciousness and political engagement within art is attractive to the Armory’s attendees. Overall, while the Armory Show is still a typical art fair at heart, it did allow visitors to view some serious artistic gems before they disappear behind private doors. Here are some highlights we think are worth checking out:

Courtesy of Sean Kelly Gallery and the Artist: Kehinde Wiley, "Bound," 2015. Photograph by Madeleine Mermall

Courtesy of Sean Kelly Gallery and the Artist: Kehinde Wiley, “Bound,” 2015. Photography by Madeleine Mermall

Sean Kelly’s booth dominated the entrance of the show with a large, magnificent Kehinde Wiley bronze sculpture entitled Bound, 2016, its price listed at $375,000. Bound features three women bound together by their hair and was featured in Wiley’s Brooklyn Museum show in the spring of 2015. On either side of the sculpture are two new works by Jose Dávila that are in direct conversation with pop superstar Roy Lichtenstein’s two paintings, Drowning Girl, 1963 and Oh, Jeff…I Love You, Too…But…, 1964. While I was visiting the booth, associates were busy pulling smaller works by Dávila in the same style and similar subject matter. The booth boasted another work by Kehinde Wiley, an enormous, brand new portrait entitled Equestrian Portrait of Phillip III, which was already sold before the start of the fair.

Sean Kelly at The Armory Show 2016 Pier 94, Booth 501. Jose Dávila, "Untitled )Oh, Jeff...I Love You, Too…But...) II," 2016 and "Untitled (Drowning Girl)," 2016; Kehinde Wiley, "Bound," 2016. Photography: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

Sean Kelly at The Armory Show 2016
Pier 94, Booth 501. Jose Dávila, “Untitled )Oh, Jeff…I Love You, Too…But…) II,” 2016 and “Untitled (Drowning Girl),” 2016; Kehinde Wiley, “Bound,” 2016. Photography: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

I spoke with Lauren Kelly, director of Sean Kelly, about how they chose what to bring to this year’s show. “We specifically tailor what we exhibit based on the market; for this Armory show we wanted to show all brand new works. People expect to see new works at the Armory, so it was more about what exciting new works our artists have versus what balance we want of international or domestic artists. However, we’re in a political year, and we’re thinking about that…we’re showing works that are socially relevant.” When I asked about the Dávila works flying out of the back room, Kelly commented, “we always do really well at the Armory, its a great sales fair for us.” The average price of the artworks? Kelly responded with a cool “Fifty to sixty thousand.”

Courtesy of Victoria Miro and The Artist: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, "To Be Determined," 2016. Photography by Madeleine Mermall

Courtesy of Victoria Miro and The Artist: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, “To Be Determined,” 2016. Photography by Madeleine Mermall

Victoria Miro’s booth did not disappoint; a large Kara Walker greets passersby and works by Sarah Sze, Wangechi Mutu, Chris Ofili and others fill up the space. A large diptych by Njideka Akunyili Crosby stood out from the rest. It is so new that one of the gallery’s representatives told me it has yet to be named, so it is simply being called To Be Determined, for now. A Nigerian artist based in Los Angeles, Crosby’s work represents a cultural hybrid between being Nigerian and American and the dichotomy that exists between the two. The work depicts a woman sitting at what we presume to be a kitchen table, her stiff yellow dress crinkled at the waist. She sits sideways, her elbow leaning across the top of the chair, her other arm settled on the table. Her eyes are cast downward, lost in a moment to herself. Across from her, a TV plays the image of a military leader. Adjacent to the television, on the wall, we see the bottom half of a framed wedding photo of a bi-racial couple. The background of the diptych is a collage of traditional Nigerian textiles and images from Nigerian news. I was entranced.

Paris’s Galerie Alberta Pane’s featured piece was definitely the most photographed of the fair. Romina de Novellis performed The Cage, or, La Gabbia, during the VIP and press preview that consisted of the artist locked nude in a cage with 500 white roses, which she methodically tied to the bars around her, slowly encapsulating herself within a floral box. She was constantly surrounded by spectators. Her serene, graceful and trance-like gestures and expression made me feel slightly uncomfortable. After a period of time, I was hyper-aware of my participation in the spectatorship and felt like I was entrapped in the viewpoint of the voyeur while she was entrapped in her vulnerability, slowly hiding herself from the audience’s gaze.

Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery and The Artist: Elias Sime, "Tigthrope, Trios," 2013. Photograph by Madeleine Mermall

Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery and The Artist: Elias Sime, “Tigthrope, Trios,” 2013. Photograph by Madeleine Mermall

James Cohan Gallery’s feature piece is by Elias Sime, entitled Tigthrope, Trios, from 2013. I spoke to David Norr, senior director, about Elias Sime’s work. “Elias is an Ethiopian artist who works in Addis Ababa. He creates compositions out of recomposed electronic parts that are often sourced from the market place, it’s called the Mercato. Often in Africa electronic parts are dumped and they are stripped and they are separated and resold at the market place. Sometimes they are separated by color, sometimes they are separated by actual material. They’re sold in 55 gallon drums. He uses these materials to create almost topographic landscape pieces. He’s using what’s available. It’s not as if oil paint from Brooklyn is available to him, so he’s working with the language that he’s familiar with, and wants to work within that language. He’s interested in making something of Addis, so it’s both directions in terms of formalism and also speaking to his environment, his surroundings.” When asked about the general price range, Norr said that the works they brought the show cost anywhere from $3500 to $235,000, “we brought works for a diverse range of buyers, we were thinking about the real art market.”

Although London dealer Ben Brown came armed with his usual suspects that include Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana and Alexander Calder, he balanced the classic big names of modernism and post-modernism with some works by relevant contemporary artists like Awol Erizku. Also, Claude Lalanne’s Pomme d’Hiver was quite the crowd pleaser.

Jack Shainman Gallery brought a diverse range of works that are representative of their roster that wow’d critics and collectors alike. Works by Hank Willis Thomas, Kerry James Marshall, Titus Kaphar, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Barkley Hendricks are all must-sees. 

Hank Willis Thomas, Promise, 2016. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery and The Artist: Hank Willis Thomas, "Promise," 2016

Hank Willis Thomas, Promise, 2016. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery and The Artist: Hank Willis Thomas, “Promise,” 2016

I had the opportunity to speak with Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels, director of Jack Shainman, about their works on display. “We brought a representation of our roster; we represent artists from across the world, including Africa, Europe and around the Americas. We have a really diverse range of artists.” When discussing Promise by Hank Willis Thomas, she stated that “his new works are focused on taking really well-know or historically important photographs and finding an isolated moment within the frame and turning it into 3D sculpture. A sub-sect of this larger series is working around sports imagery. He’s really interested in ideas revolving around identity, representations, activity and thinking about sports as a life metaphor.”

Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery and The Artist: Titus Kaphar, Alternate Endings II, 2015

Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery and The Artist: Titus Kaphar, Alternate Endings II, 2015

Moving towards the Titus Kaphar, Bellorado-Samuels told me that “he’s really interested in visiting the art historical canon, specifically European and American history painting, but taking figures that generally would’ve been pushed into the margins and making them the central figure and reinterpreting history that way.”

Toyin Ojih Odutola, Fortress, 2016. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery and The Artist: Toyin Ojih Odutola, Fortress, 2016

Toyin Ojih Odutola, Fortress, 2016. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery and The Artist: Toyin Ojih Odutola, Fortress, 2016

Towards the back-end of the booth, I was drawn to a piece by Toyin Ojih Odutola, inquiring about the work, she told me the artist was born in Nigeria but has lived around the U.S. for quite some time. “She works in various mediums, including this graphite and ballpoint pen and pastel, really interested in thinking about portraiture but really in a material way and rethinking line and form and what the material means to the subject. Thinking about the skin as a terrain and remapping the body.” When asked about the experience so far, Bellorado-Samuels was enthusiastic. “It’s been a great fair, it’s super busy and it’s a great opportunity for people who know these artists or to introduce people to artists they haven’t seen before, and now get to see them here, so it’s been good!” When I asked about prices, she told me that they range between $17,000 to $1.3 million. The publicist quickly stepped closer, so I ended my questioning there.

Namsa Leuba at Echo Gallery, Lagos as part of Armory Focus

Namsa Leuba at Echo Gallery, Lagos as part of Armory Focus

Echo Gallery Lagos, a gallery invited to the Armory Show as a part of Armory Focus, featured photography by Namsa Leuba. I had a chance to speak with the artist herself about her work.

“For the past few years I’ve been working on the concept of African identity through Western eyes. A part of my work is very based in fine art and also fashion, finding inspiration through fashion. I work only with local people, and with a Nigerian fashion designer. For almost all my pictures I do my castings in the street. I wanted to get another perception of what will be the next generation in Lagos. In my other photographs I work with traditional clothes and thinking about cultural symbolism in West Africa, South Africa. I try to cover not only multiple generations but also traditional and contemporary, past present, modernity, tradition, I explore both sides. I try to explore Africa. I work with different tools from ritual ceremonies and where I’m from, in Guinea, this was very serious, the postures and tools used in my photos are considered sacred. I wanted to use human beings, because in ceremonies these tools, these statuettes used during rituals, they are only animated by your mind. I wanted to make visible the invisible, make them alive and seen in a different context. It was interesting, in South Africa they don’t use the statuette, so to bring a different culture there and do something different, it was very welcomed. When I exhibited these photographs with these sacred tools in my country, though, it was sacrilege. People were offended that I put these tools in my photographs and made the statuette alive, it became violent. The police had to get involved. People eventually settled down, but it was welcomed in South Africa because its a totally different culture, they didn’t see it as offensive.”

The Armory Show, March 3-6 2016, 12th Avenue at 55th Street, Piers 92 and 94

The art scene in Paris has long been recognised, first and foremost, as the birthplace of Impressionism with the likes of Manet, Monet and Degas bringing it to global prominence. Today, however, Paris’ modern and contemporary offerings are a strong and exciting force driving its reputation beyond the die-hard, 19th century roots.  From cutting-edge industrial architecture in the Gagosian Le Bourget, to digital innovation at La Gaîté Lyrique, we rounded up the 10 best modern and contemporary galleries to give you an insight into the city’s burgeoning arts scene. 

1. Palais de Tokyo

In a nutshell: The rugged concrete interior may appear to be a meditated aesthetic decision but was actually due to the the gallery’s lack of money in the middle of renovation which led to organisers leaving it in its stripped-down state. Situated across from the Musée d’Art Moderne, the enormous Palais de Tokyo space houses some of the most cutting-edge, contemporary art in Europe including mind-blowing installations, films, and performances that are always exciting and immersive. Don’t miss the excellent bookshop and The Toyko Eat, the gallery’s restaurant.

Where: 16th arrondissement. Open 12pm-12am every day except Tuesday.

2. Centre Georges Pompidou

centre_pompidou

In a nutshell: The base level for any contemporary art-goer in Paris is the Centre Georges Pompidou, its name pays homage to its creator – the French president – who commissioned the building in 1969 as a completely new, multidisciplinary cultural centre. It’s architecture is an extraordinary mélange of multicoloured pipes forming a structure that juts out from the traditional French buildings of the 4th arrondissement. With its exhaustive permanent collections of modern and contemporary art spanning over 100,000 works including Pollock, Kandinsky and Man Ray, the Pompidou is, unsurprisingly, one of the most visited museums in France. Don’t miss the panoramic view from the top floor and the gallery’s library.

Where: 4th arrondissement. Open 11am-10pm everyday except Tuesday.

3. La Gaîté Lyrique

la_gaite_lyrique

In a nutshell: Like the Palais de Tokyo, La Gaîté Lyrique is hyper-contemporary. It focuses on the digital arts, complete with a video game station, interactive library and café, as well as exhibitions in the basement. The institution embraces all forms of contemporary digital expression from cinema, web design, and visual arts to electronic music. You’ll find many students in the café, teens playing the video games and plenty of families who take advantage of the kids afternoons the gallery holds during its exhibitions. 

Where: 3rd arrondissement. Open 2pm-8pm Tuesday-Saturday and 12pm-6pm Sundays. Closed Monday.

4. Musée d’Art Moderne

musee_moderne

In a nutshell: Located in the East-Wing of the Palais de Toyko, the Musée d’Art Moderne has been running since 1968 with over 10,000 modern and contemporary works from both European and global artists as well as several temporary exhibitions each year. The gallery was briefly closed in 2010 after a theft of over €100,000 worth of masterpieces, including works by Matisse and Modigliani. Even with its compelling heist history, the gallery is not as well-known as its name suggests, but is still worth a visit for its excellent permanent collection.

Where: 16th arrondissement. Open 10am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday except Thursday with a late opening until 10pm. Closed Monday.

5. Jeu de Paume

jeu_de_paume

In a nutshell: Situated on the edge of Paris’ Place de Concorde in the famous Tuileries Garden, the Jeu de Paume is a beautiful 19th century building that once served as a tennis court, (hence the gallery’s title – ‘Jeu de Paume’ is French for racquet), as well as a sorting house for Nazi loot during WWII. The work on display, however, often goes above and beyond the building’s history with a focus on exhibiting post-war mechanical/electronic art – predominantly photography but also includes cinema, video installation, web art and more. Its major exhibitions, such as the current showcase of Philippe Halsman’s famous celebrity portraits have made it a popular destination for the city’s art-goers.

Where: 8th arrondissement. Open 11am-9pm Tuesday and 11am-7pm Wednesday-Sunday. Closed Monday.

6. Maison Européenne de la Photographie

maison_de_la_photographie

In a nutshell: Housed in an ex-hotel in Paris’ historic 4th quarter Le Marais, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie is an institution dedicated to showcasing contemporary photography with a collection of over 20,000 works as well as rotating exhibitions which show anything from portraiture to optical illusions. Each rotation gives a broad vision of photography today, recently showing a major exhibition documenting a season at French fashion house Lanvin, as well as the remarkably composed architectural photographs of Caio Reisewitz. As well as these spaces, the gallery houses an auditorium, library, and video viewing facility and runs workshops and events throughout the year.

Where: 4th arrondissement. Open 10am-8pm Wednesday-Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

7. Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain

foundation_cartier

In a nutshell: Describing itself as having an “original approach to corporate philanthropy”, the Cartier Foundation commits itself to raising public awareness for contemporary art by exhibiting established artists as well as offering younger ones a chance to debut. Housed in a glass building designed by Pritzker Prize architect Jean Nouvel, it sits in a tranquil woodland garden, landscaped by Lothar Baumgarten making it a worthwhile place to visit for reasons beyond just the art. As well as organising multiple exhibitions, the foundation has created ‘Nomadic Nights’, an event focusing on the linkage between different kinds of contemporary expression via the performing arts.

Where: 14th arrondissement. Open 11am-8pm Wednesday-Saturday and 11am-10pm on Tuesdays. Closed Monday.

8/9. Gagosian Galleries

gagosian_gallery

In a nutshell: Major player in the contemporary art world, Larry Gagosian has fifteen galleries worldwide including two in Paris; one in the north-eastern suburb Le Bourget and another in the 8th arrondissement. The former is in an industrial park of Le Bourget, its location enabling the gallery’s spacious interior which, like Paris’ Cartier Foundation, was designed by Jean Nouvel. Indeed, the building is an extraordinary work in itself, combining the rugged industrial original with a smart contemporary finish. The latter is a smaller space than its suburban counterpart but is exceptional nonetheless, set in a Parisian mansion just off the Champs-Élysées. Expect a vibrant contemporary art program featuring leading international artists. 

Where:  8th arrondissement. Open 11am-7pm Tuesday-Saturday // 93350 Le Bourget. Open 11am-7pm Tuesday-Saturday.

10. MAC/VAL 

mac:val

In a nutshell: Paris’ size to population ratio has always been pretty tight and is one of the reasons why many large public spaces lie just outside the Périphérique dual-carriageway that defines the city limits. One of the many exciting contemporary art centres in the suburbs is Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, a.k.a. MAC/VAL. Situated in the south-eastern suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine in a sprawling contemporary building, MAC/VAL boasts being the first museum completely dedicated to the French ’50’s art scene. Having now expanded its collection to house everything from the ’50’s to contemporary art, the gallery also enjoys exhibiting both experienced and up-and-coming artists.

Where: 94400 Vitry-sur-Seine. Open 10am-6pm Tuesday-Friday and 12pm-7pm on Weekends and holidays. Closed on Mondays.

One good thing about having friends from all over the world who live in London is that you can be informed about various events each one of them is planning to attend. This gives you a full glimpse of what is really going on in London, especially in the art arena.

Four final-year photography students from the University of East London took the initiative to form an organisation called RENEWAL which aimed to work with a community in London to raise awareness on using second-hand clothes and the importance of recycling unwanted clothes. These might benefit the less fortunate members of society who are in need of the basic necessities. But it all fell into place when TRAID charity appeared on the scene.

LILYMAE MCLEAN

TRAID worked perfectly for these young, talented artists. What would they need anyway? A fashion charity with a sustainable and circular approach to the production, consumption and disposal of clothes across London. TRAID can be inspirational to most of us, in the sense that it has empowered RENEWAL to promote charity using a modern approach that would attract the youngest sectors of society through a charity fashion catwalk.

maria_paraskevopoulou

Labelled as the “Renewal Catwalk”, I cannot imagine myself being at any other place on a Friday evening. The effort put forth by the Renewal team is exceptional. The audience will experience a catwalk with different kinds of models, both conventional and unconventional, wearing clothes and accessories selected from many TRAID shops across London by the Renewal team. In the event, there will be a clothing collection point where people may drop off their quality clothes for donation to TRAID and the chance to get to know the team in person.

krystal_sweeney

Such events, for me, may act as a turning point in such a way that art washes away all the dust and the chaos of the world. Art works as a stepping-stone to raise awareness. My motto has always been the same, art should raise awareness for what is going on in the world. The sad truth is that many people across the globe are in need of clothes and basic necessities that often are taken for granted. But as long as we have people like the RENEWAL, there is hope that the barrier of inequality could be eliminated.

Friday the 29th of January at the Loading Bay at The Old Truman Brewery – Brick Lane, London at 6:30pm.

Don’t miss it!

Be the change you wanna see in the world!

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