PANDELIS CHANDRIS: “Man is an island”

April 20th, 2011

Insightful, rigorous and critical but warm interlocutor,
Pantelis Chandris, the awarded artist by the Association of Art Critics Hellas, talks about his “Island”, the dead ends and the pleasures of life with the tastes for cooking, to fellow artist Efi Spyrou, in Athens.

PANDELIS_CHANDRIS_MAN_IS_AN_ISLAND

Pantelis Chandris "180⁰", 2010. Pencil on paper. 15x20cm each

EFI SPYROU: Artist “based in Athens.” What does this means to you?
PANTELIS CHANDRIS: “Based in Athens”, means nothing. You are considered out of the larger map, out of the game.
Those who live and work in Athens live and work in a purely regional locality. Artists who live and work in London, New York, Berlin have a more extended target audience and these are cities where things happen.

What do you do against this reality?
While I am working on my art projects, I make my living as a professor in the Athens School of Fine Arts.

Are you teaching what you are working on?
No. It would be tragic to teach what I am working on.  To work, means trying to find a way to create something. Exploring a personal issue. Besides, the allurement of teaching has to do with the process of dealing with the impasses of others. Read the rest of this entry »


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April 18th, 2011

“The same thing stimulated me for the last 20 years and I do not know what it is…”


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Not all fun and games : Abdel Bounane

April 18th, 2011

Last month, the Gaïté Lyrique digital creation center opened its doors in Paris, after many years of construction.
A companion shop also opened next to the gorgeous building : the AMUSEMENT creative shop.
We sat down with Abdel Bounane, who is in charge of the store but also the founder and editor-in-chief of AMUSEMENT magazine.

abdel bounane
Abdel Bounane at AMUSEMENT gallery, by René Habermacher.

Antoine Asseraf : So where are we, there’s a store downstairs, but this is something else…

Abdel Bounane: This is the space where soon we will offer services and events linked to the store, and to the magazine.
The service part is probably the most interesting, because this is going to be the most original part.
For the store we try to have some original products, but for services, starting in May, you’ll be able to order a tailor-made video game.

You make an appointment, meet with one of our consultants, and give your craziest ideas regarding what you want from a video game, and we’ll be able to materialize it. It can take a few days, a few weeks, or sometimes a few months, it can cost a few hundred or a few thousand euros.

It’s a world first.
It answers the question “if you want to make a space linked to the digital world, how do you offer something original and human ?”

Something that doesn’t lag behind the virtual world.

Exactly. What is the use of being in the real world when you’re talking about the virtual ?
So for me, it is the meeting with people, the ability to explain face to face your ideas, a human and interactive touch, it’s fundamentally linked to a physical place. It wouldn’t be the same thing by Skype.

That’s one part of the services we will offer.
We will also offer a gallery side.
People have been trying to sell digital art for decades now, and they haven’t really been able to, except for installations which hard to sustain. But now tablets are here, and I feel that tablets are a good media for that art, like a canvas.

gaité lyrique
The ressource center of the Gaïté Lyrique. By René Habermacher.

That makes me think of that bloom application for iPhone, by Brian Eno…

Well, Brian Eno’s been here !
What we’re developing is the sell of pieces on tablets, offline, and also an online store of limited edition digital content, with a certificate of authenticity on our servers.

How do you co-exist with the Gaïté Lyrique proper?

Well with the digital art we’re going to be working a lot with artists from the Gaïté, such as Matt Pyke/Universal Everything,
They do a lot of cool particle effects, very pop, very colorful, and they’re don’t want something that is all over the internet, just something that is visible physically at the Gaïté, because it’s a site-specific installation, and potentially sold digitally.

That’s where the logic of the Gaïté comes in, it’s not a museum, it’s a creation center.
So it’s perfect for us, we become the distributors of content that cannot be found elsewhere, and digital limited edition fits the Gaïté perfectly.

We’re not only the commercial arm of the Gaïté, we’re here to play with new ways of crossing art and digital, video games and one-to-one distribution, or take a mass media like video games and make it personalized, how do me make something pop more haute ?
How to legitimize a physical location, with launches, workshops, etc.

gaité lyrique
Gaïté Lyrique communication.

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NJA MAHDAOUI: strokes of liberation

April 11th, 2011

Nja Mahdaoui is one of the most celebrated living contemporary artists in the arab world. His bold and highly rhythmic work, derived from the arabic letter, is internationally renowned and can be found in ther permanent collections of the Institut du Monde Arabe, The British Museum and The Smithsonian Institution just to name a few.

It’s an exuberance of arabesque forms, a visual melody played out of his hand, that remind us of the great gestural and physical richness of action painting. Famous for his meticulous inks on parchment, this “liberated calligraphy” is worked across a variety of extremely different surfaces — from canvas, brass, wood, melamine and papyrus to skin. Though It seems like writing, it is not. It is rather an interlacing of a dialectic relationship, also found within Western abstraction.

naomi_campbell_mahdaoui_rene_habermacher
Naomi Campbell in Azzedine Alaïa for Numéro Magazine. A collaboration between Nja Mahdaoui and René Habermacher

I came across the work of Nja Mahdaoui the first time, while researching calligraphic styles on a project for the French magazine Numéro on a piece about Azzedine Alaïa to which Babeth Djian incited me. The visual impact of Nja’s work struck me at first sight.

Slightly intimidated by the references of the rich body of his work, I first hesitated but then thought to give it a shot, and contacted him. To my surprise he answered me instantly by email, and called me shortly after. Our collaboration was set — and we created a story of imaginary movements around Naomi Campbell as a dark gazelle, in sheer and revealing Alaïa.

But I only met Nja Mahdaoui in person two summers ago in Tunis. It was an all-embracing, hot and sultry August day that lay heavy on the city, matching the emotional state of its people.

NJA_MAHDAOUI_rene_habermacher
Nja Mahdaoui wit the first prototype of his most recent sculpture. Photography by René Habermacher

A couple of months after the “Jasmine revolution” took place, Nja arrives in full swing to our meeting at a café in sunny, springtime Paris.

He’d come with his daughter Molka Mahdaoui to work on another of his new projects, yet is consumed with excitement by the events. He reacts immediately and impulsively to the question I usually ask last on conversations for The Stimuleye: What is the last thing that stimulated you?

“Stimulated? You’re asking a Tunisian? (laughs). I don’t know if ‘stimulated’ is the word, but it’s the explosion of a generation, I’m completely into it — for us it’s the event of the century!”


Nja Mahdaoui: "Graphemes on Arches 2", 2009, Ink on arches paper; 135cm x 135cm.

With us at the table are the collaborators involved in the process of making his latest project, a sculpture, the main reason for his trip north. Nja loves collaborations – his eyes glow while he talks energetically about upcoming projects. An energy I felt the first time I saw his bold and highly rhythmic work: “a dance of calligraphy”, with Nja as the choreographer of imaginary letters, to which he refers as ‘graphemes’, devoid of actual textual meaning:

“To a non-Arabic speaker it appears as coherent text. In fact even Arabic speakers assume at first that it’s a text with meaning. But when they start reading it they realise it is not an actual word.” he says and recalls an experience:

“It is not easy to write letters in a disjointed way — that is disjointed to not mean anything — and focus only on the aesthetic. There was a study at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. They connected me to a machine in order to test the levels of stress my body was under when I was writing proper words and when I was writing words without meaning. The study showed that my body was 2.5 times more stressed when I was working on words without meaning. So it is a very conscious attempt to create art. I tell people I’m not a calligrapher, but an artist.”

To me his body of work is so vibrant and remarkably innovative that I first had assumed Nja to be in his early 30′s the most, yet he was born in La Marsa, Tunisia, in 1937. As Molka, a filmmaker herself, puts it during our conversation: “sometimes i have to remind myself: Molka, you are thinking older than your own father!”.


Nja Mahdaoui: Design for Gulf Air 50th Anniversary. Image Courtesy of Nja Mahdaoui

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everything you need to know about hyères in 2’6″

April 9th, 2011

One of our favorite events here at The Stimuleye is the Hyères Fashion & Photography Festival, held yearly at the Villa Noailles. Since 2007, each year the festival asks me to make a teaser to give a glimpse of the upcoming festivities.

There are always so many things happening simultaneously at the festival, that it’s hard to follow it all. This year shouldn’t be any different, with the addition of a new, long-in-the-making permanent exhibit about Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, the Villa’s inhabitants and art patrons.

So, because I thought it would be good to start at the beginning, go through the middle, and stop at the end, here’s everything you need to know about Hyères in 2 minutes 6 seconds to be ready for the 26th edition.

The Stimuleye crew will be going to Hyères…more to come soon. See you there ?

Hyères Fashion & Photography Festival,
April 29 – May 2, 2011
Villa Noailles, Hyères
Exhibits until May 29th.


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Out of the box: LEIGH BOWERY

April 6th, 2011

The other day i was going through boxes of photographs between sheltering sheets of cellophane. I came across a reminiscence from a time when I was obsessed with polaroids:  a series of shots that I had taken from artist Leigh Bowery, in what was probably one of his last performances in late May 1994.

Leigh Bowery by René Habermacher

Leigh Bowery performing at the RoXY Amsterdam on May 17 1994. Polaroid by René Habermacher.

It was a party at the legendary RoXY club Amsterdam, with Boy George and Robert Owens on the turntables and leading clubbers Sheila Tequila and Stella Stein appearing, to the bemusement of the crowd, nude with pubic wigs only.

That Night Leigh Bowery presented his classc “Birth Show” together with Nicola Bateman-Bowery, whom he had married just 3 days before.
As usual for Leigh, the performance, an homage to John Waters “Female Trouble”, would attack the spectators sensitivities- which even worked for the notorious Roxy audience: Leigh would appear to enter the stage in what seemed a rather conservative flower dress to sing with his band Minty, but toward the middle of the song birthed his partner Nicola, who was held under his costume upside down using a specially-designed harness. Nicola then appeared as a very large baby covered in placenta.

Leigh died later that year on New Year’s Eve from an AIDS-related illness. A death bed pronouncement by “Modern Art on legs”, as Boy George commented, was: “Tell them I’ve gone pig farming in Bolivia”.

Leigh Bowery by René HabermacherLeigh Bowery by René HabermacherLeigh Bowery by René HabermacherLeigh Bowery by René Habermacher

Leigh Bowery and his wife Nicola Bateman-Bowery, then freshly wed. Polaroids by René Habermacher.

It was one of these Spectacles that made the RoXY’s infamous reputation. Not only a club, the RoXY was an Institution. A playground and battlefield for artists. While mingling among the glitterati and club kids of the time I recall seeing there first time the work of Inez Van Laamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin on a flyer- or a toilet exhibition of Erwin Olafs photographs, an explicit series that was was by far outreached by what was going on in these restrooms…

Founder Pieter Giele’s Motto AB IGNE IGNEM CAPERE (one fire ignites another) came true some years later. The Club that operated from 1987 in a splendid old theatre on Prinsengracht went up in flames the day of Pieter Giele’s Funeral in 1999 and burned down to the ground.

Leigh Bowery by René HabermacherLeigh Bowery by René HabermacherLeigh Bowery by René HabermacherLeigh Bowery by René Habermacher
Leigh Bowery on stage with the MINTY. Polaroids by René Habermacher.

An exhibition of photos by the club’s photographer Cleo Campert will be on show later this summer at the LUX Photo Gallery Amsterdam from 18 June – 18 July: The RoXY Years / De RoXY Jaren
Cleo Campert: ”In this show I emphasize the open sexuality and the indecent exposure which reigned in the famous night club RoXY in Amsterdam in the early nineties.”


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NEW EYE : Marc Turlan

April 5th, 2011

The Stimuleye is proud to announce its new eye, created by artist Marc Turlan.

Preview of 25 HYÈRES film, directed by Antoine Asseraf.

I had the pleasure of meeting Marc Turlan in his atelier in 2007 when making the first teaser for the Hyères fashion and photography festival.
For what was to be his first solo exhibition, MANQUE (“lack”), Marc had prepared a series of sculptures based on magazines partially hidden under resin-masks. The result was very Friday the 13th.

Then in 2008, Marc made a limited series of sculpted magazines, TORN MAG.
He carved magazines, as objects, blindly, until their substance was exposed. Since then, his work has evolved to ink drawing, laser cutting, metal beading… on magazines.

TORN MAG by Marc Turlan

Full view of the TORN MAG piece. 2008, courtesy of Gallerie Anne de Villepoix.

Last year, Marc returned to Hyères with a new exhibit inside a custom-made wooden bunker, SUMMER HOUSE, which is featured in the upcoming film “25 Hyères”.

Marc is now planning a book for May with Rue 89, and his first solo show at Anne de Villepoix in September 2011…


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April 4th, 2011

TORN MAG by Marc Turlan

“a burnt picture by Douglas Gordon.”


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REIN VOLLENGA talks to FILEP MOTWARY

March 30th, 2011

An artist or a milliner, a sculptor or a fashion creative, Rein Vollenga is a true artist, teetering between both fields with optimistic and unconditional inspiration.

Ever since he first revealed his works to the public back in 2007, Dutch Vollenga’s career seems unstoppable, counting numerous collaborations with the likes of Lady Gaga, MUGLER, Johnny Woo, Marcel Fengler, Mc Kinki, Tiga…

The interview is an exclusive in participation of The Stimuleye with uN nouVeau iDEAL

REIN VOLLENGA: Headpiece Hip-Hop Tribe, 2010, Mixed Media and Untitled, 2007, Mixed Media

His works have been triumphantly presented in the most prestigious publications like Italian Vogue, Interview Magazine, Dazed, i-D, Vman as well as was featured in notorious web links like ShowStudio, Style.com and The New York Times not to mention Museums like Neues.

Two days before the opening night featuring his participation at “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY” (a project headed by Lars Laumann presented at The Hague’s West Gallery) I had a chat with him for The Stimuleye. Lets dive in our conversation at the moment I was trying to explain the dramatic changes Greece is going through…

FILEP MOTWARY: So, yes back to drama….

REIN VOLLENGA: Drama is always a good source for making art.

FilepMotwary: How does drama reflect in your work then? The forms you create are not happy yet neither sad. But there is always some kind of expression in them that leads one to wonder what the situation behind those faces is about…

ReinVollenga: My work is never a reference to just one specific thought, but if I can somehow invoke emotion, make people think or stimulate and inspire somebody then I’m happy.

I don’t want to teach or force people to learn something, as Art is a really personal experience, a fantasy or illusion. Artists should treasure that and exclude their own vanity in spite of excluding the viewer. I feel I don’t need to change the world either, neither can I.

I can only interact or have a dialogue with the viewer through what I create. I would love to change the world but it doesn’t make sense, forcing people to believe in something they don’t understand.

In my sculptures I like to attract the viewer through the beauty reflected in them. By looking closely at the piece, it will reveal by itself, something that might not be so pleasant at the end. This is the kind of contrast I like!

FilepMotwary: I like your way of thinking. Yohji Yamamoto once stated, “‘an artist is somebody who creates things that you don’t need’.” How do you see art?

Rein Vollenga: Art to me is an experience, Illusion or fantasy. It’s something that triggers your mind and keep you fantasizing.

REIN VOLLENGA: Untitled, 2008, Mixed Media and Untitled, 2007, Mixed Media
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March 30th, 2011


“Seeing people voguing again!”


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Efi Spyrou “swings”

March 21st, 2011

Cypriot Artist Efi Spyrou “swings” to our attention with the latest issue of Pop magazine SS 2011.

Efi Spyrou’s artistic reflection is interdisciplinary, her art on the conjunction of corporality and art theory. Often her approach, as manifested through her pieces and installations, seems cold and industrial. Yet it is charged with personal memories associating emotional moments. Remarkably enough, Efi operates with inhibiting elements of isolation, institutionalisation and discipline to achieve her purpose: ignite an emotional spark.

EFI_SPYROU_SWING_1_rene_habermacher

Efi Spyrou: Swing (1), 2010 marble, latex; 285 x 30 x 15cm.
Photo by René Habermacher for PoP magazine SS 2011.
Model: Ymre Stimkema.

This Issue of Pop magazine features a group of 5 contemporary artists: Gillian Wearing, Meredith Sparks, Linda Sterling, Clunie Reid and Efi Spyrou, Juxtaposing pieces of her SWING series with fashion by Antonio Marras, her work for this collaboration oscillates around the idea of “lost innocence”.
At this Chapter of her Life, Efi Spyrou contemplates inwards, both on personal and collective memory – after being in the spotlight as a fashion model, presenter and public figure that stood for the right cause:
She was involved in Campaigns of public interest as against eating disorders, “Fashion Targets Breast Cancer” and the UNHCR-the UN refugee Agencies ‘Against Women Trafficking’ and was subsequently awarded with the Cyprus “Leader of the Year in Advertisement”.
THE STIMULEYE finds Efi Spyrou in Athens, her hometown of choice for a conversation on her most recent projects,
including her first solo exhibition at Six D.O.G.S in Athens. The exhibition will run from May 6 2011.

EFI_SPYROU

Efi Spyrou: Untitled, 2010, latex, iron, plexiglas, wood; 85 x 65 x 120

EFI SPYROU: Hi Rene! Here I am!

RENE HABERMACHER: hey hey- just saw you! welcome!!!!!

I think now it’s a good time for our conversation! Shall we?

In your work we find often references to childhood, as in your most recent SWING series, but as well for example in “Untitled” 2010 (incubator). What is the relation to yourself?

Each detail, each piece reflected on my work is connected to my memories, my experiences especially in my early ages. Sometimes I feel I was literally thrown from childhood to adulthood in an instant moment… There is an inner need to go back again and start from scratch, with a different pace.

How did you grow up?

In a very disciplined way…
I grew up in a very small, conservative, strict, disciplined community where freedom of speech was not something really known… After my 18th birthday, when I decided to leave my homeland Cyprus, I was catapulted into the wild world of which I knew nothing about! And first of all, I knew nothing about rapacity…

I was 18 years but I had the feeling to be in fact much, much younger and very scared.

Following your journey had taken you quite somewhere else- in terms of location and orientation. You returned only much later to your point of departure, with your art and the themes your current work embraces.

After 17 years I am in the position to say that this journey was difficult but full of colours, aromas and sounds, the voices of different cultures, people, moments. You see, I have entered the fashion world as a model and subsequently public figure, which gave me the chance to travel a lot all over the world. Although I had great moments, and I do feel lucky about it – I had to test my limits, my values and myself in many ways: In this race the cost was not insignificant. That is why there was a turning point, of explosion, – I had to slow down – and turn the time back, back to my roots and see which were the remains! This is where art gave me the tools to deal with all this material I had in my hands…

Efi Spyrou: Swing (2), 2010, silicone, latex; 75 x 30 x 15cm.
Photo by René Habermacher for PoP magazine SS 2011.
Model: Ymre Stimkema.

When we met last time in London to do our project for POP, we were focusing on your most recent work, the SWING. In fact it was a juxtaposition of your art with the fashion by Antonio Marras, under the helm of Isabelle Kountoure. It seemed like another circle had closed: with this new pieces that reflect on lost innocence and the interweaving with fashion that had marked another phase of your life.

This was a liberating experience for me. Every time I find the medium to make a conclusion of my contradicting “memory voices”… is an exciting moment. With the series of my works SWING, I had the chance to cooperate with a great team, working on the upside of fashion. And in parallel I had the chance to give light to a darker “space” as you say, “our lost innocence”. This is the only way for me to survive- to accept my bipolarity…

You started with the first piece of your “swing”series in marble. For this project you took cooperations with other people in account – thus creating more facets around the actual object…

The first piece was more an inner conversation. The development of the piece[s] through this cooperation was a conversation with others! This is really important for me, because I do believe that our personal “spaces” from a different perspective are collective “spaces”. The former is the reflection of the latter and vice versa!
In art, the material plays a significant role in the interpretation of the piece.
During our collaborative working process i’ve developed other variants of the original swing: wax, silicone, plaster and mirror. Doing so, I leave an open interpretation of my recent Swings”. What matters to me, is not to give a solution to a problem, but to actually “spark off” something…



EFI_SPYROU_SWING_SEQUENCE_2_rene_habermacher

Swing (3), 2010 by Efi Spyrou: paraffin wax, latex; 335 x 30 x 15cm.
Photo by René Habermacher for PoP magazine SS 2011.

As you operate not only plenty with personal memories, but integrate the collective as well – in this context, how important is Athens, or Greece as a background for your work?

For my own work I incorporate a universal, collective memory in my pieces – at least this is what I am trying to do. Sometimes it could be characterised more “western”… but not surely Greek or Cypriot. I can assure you though that my life in Athens and especially the “new” way I look at the city and its everyday life here, gives birth to a lot of new ideas + questions + art pieces!
Spring, especially these days, is so refreshing! I cannot think of economic crisis – I keep my worries silent for the moment.
As far as concerning the emerging art scene over here: I think there is a lot to be done, in order to consider Athens as part of the greater art map. But I see a young art generation which is very promising…

What are you working on right now and next?

I am preparing a solo exhibition in May. The show will be running from May 6th at the Six D.O.G.S exhibition space in Athens. Included on display are among new works some ready pieces that are already known.
For the moment I am studying the relationship of memory with the game of lights and shades in space. I am working on sketches right now, may be for an installation, we will see…
I would love to have the chance for more collective dialogues in the future.

SWING_EFI_SPYROU_RENE_HABERMACHER

Efi Spyrou: Swing (2), 2010, silicone, latex; 75 x 30 x 15cm.
Photo by René Habermacher for PoP magazine SS 2011.

Thank you so much for this insightful talk!

Shall I say sweet dreams?

Efi Spirou’s solo exhibition at Six D.O.G.S, 6-8 Avramiotou Street, 10551, Athens, Greece
The exhibition will run from May 6 2011.

www.spyrouefi-pinkmilk.com

a collaboration EFI SPYROU | ANTONIO MARRAS pop Magazine SS 2011

Hair Panos Papandrianos at CLM using Bumble and bumble
Make-up Yannis Siskos at Effex using Giorgio Armani Cosmetics
Model Ymre Stiekema at Viva London
Casting Angus Munro at AM Casting, Streeters NY
Set Design Emily Pugh
Photography Assistance & Digital Technician Laurent Dubin
Fashion Assistance Tui Lin
Hair Assistance Angel Sayers
Digital Remastering Dimitri Rigas at Dimitri.jp
Shot at The Russian Club Studios


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Karsten Födinger, concrete in the air

March 16th, 2011

Karsten Födinger, a young artist, now at the Palais de Tokyo with an overwhelming installation : “Cantilever”.

2010, reinforced concrete, 340 x 600 x 460 cmgarnd opening RaebervonStenglin, Zurich

He uses these materials found on construction sites – concrete, plaster, raw wood, scaffolding – and offers to the viewer a space between construction and deconstruction. This idea of a moment of instability to stability (and vice versa) where structures are at the limits of physical laws. Födinger disturbs our perceptions and shows us a mental site which challenges the idea associated with a finished structure.

Cantilever @ Palais de Tokyo, Paris (Pic by Z.Z)

At the Palais de Tokyo, Karsten Födinger installs a concrete slab on a system of pillboxes, normally used for scaffolding. The concrete is suspended in the air defying gravity. The work makes complete sense in context of center art restructuring. We are given a new relationship to our daily confrontation with the space.

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