7 women, 1 star goat: the capsule

February 4th, 2013

Experimental film. Feature film. Art film. Fashion Film.
Greek, English, German, French, Turkish.
For her latest project, director Athina Rachel Tsangari lets neither labels nor languages get in the way.
Rather, she encourages pandemonium, while unleashing discipline on her 7 international actresses, and the 7 goats which co-star with them in “The Capsule.”
As a special envoy for The Stimuleye, René Habermacher spent some time with them and the biggest diva on set: Bekos, the star goat.

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The headmistress unleashes the beast: Ariane Labed, French but Athens-born actress known from "Attenberg" 
and her favourite: Bekos, the beehive-tressed star-goat. Photo by René Habermacher
The sun’s first hot rays glisten over the aquamarine waters, parted by the approaching speedboat.
The destination: a barren island in the Aegean sea, named Hydra.
Hydra once harbored pirates but now hosts the “classy” summer retreats of wealthy Athenian families, low-profile expatriates and not-so-low-profile socialites.
Between dark needles of cypress trees, remnants of other times, splendid historic mansions are scattered up the amphitheatric hills framing the town.
Built in hard labour over generations, the city-island-state of Hydra exceptionnally paid tributes to the Ottoman empire in exchange for a dose of freedom, which they turned into wealth and influence.
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A sphinx above Hydra: Ariane Labed in midday heat on the terrasse of Tombazis manor. Photo by René Habermacher.
It is here that one of the island’s generous patrons, art collector Dakis Ioannou, owns a townhouse and runs a project space in the town’s old slaughterhouse through his Deste Foundation. This translates into a yearly invasion of the art world glitteratti to celebrate projects by Maurizio Cattelan, Mathew Barney or Doug Aitken, to name but a few of the guest artists.
As the boat approaches, on the far right of the jetty sits the island’s most impressive building, the Tombazis Manor, long abandoned by its family. A short but steep walk uphill through narrow stone-laminated alleys opens to the building that once housed Marc Chagall: an array of arcades, corridors and rooms, intertwined as the set of a wicked dream, its cool obscurity glacified in time. An unusual activity disturbs this idyl.
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Between fortified walls of the mansion, shadows of the past and present terror of besetting obsessions:
young actresses Isolda Dychauk, Aurora Marion and crawling: Evangelia Randou. Photos by René Habermacher

By invitation of Dakis Ioannou, a film crew under the helm of Greek movie director Athina Rachel Tsangaris is attempting to interpret the egregious, violent universe of Polish artist Aleksandra Waliszewska in multiple frozen frames.
The starting point to this project : the Deste “Fashion Collection”. After collaborations with M/M, Juergen Teller, Helmut Lang and Patricia Cavalli, it seemed to be time to work with a Greek, and who better than film maker Athina Rachel Tsangari, who has stirred some waves internationally with documentaries and fictions alike.
The commission’s unique approach to fuse art and fashion from a art-curatorial perspective led Athina to set filming on the Island of Hydra. Not to be confused with the other Hydra, the ancient serpent-like water beast bearing several heads, with the ability for each cut off head it grew two more…
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Clémence Poésy in expectation of the headmistress. Photos by René Habermacher.

The last member of a cast of women just arriving from Bruxelles, unsettled and wide-awake after a sleepless journey, French actress Ariane Labed is speeding to join the set where work has begun some days ago. The role she is hurrying towards: the headmistress. Lecturing pupils in a drill of discipline and demise. They are her victims and possible trigger for her final surrender. But this not clear.
The preparations for a key scene at the mansion’s bel étage have her co-stars lining up on the black and white checker marble floor, confessing to the mythical yet vulnerable character of their dominatrix that sit them facing, dressed in her armour. A piece by Sandra Backlund knitted from human hair.
Routine at the boarding house: The line-up of disciples, top right Evangelia Randou, lower right: Sofia Dona.
Each one of her disciples is to kneel in a black boarding school uniform, with neat white “col claudine”, to receive punishment or absolution:
French actress Clémence Poésy, Russian-born ginger-haired actress Isolda Dychauk, dancer Evangelia Randou, actress Aurora Marion, director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, architect Sofia Dona, and finally Aleksandra Waliszewska, the artist inspiring this slipstream of scenes for what is going to be a trip called “the capsule”.
Between the walls of the ancient building, a world of secluded women, whispers, secrets and violence:
“ich will sie alle töten. Ich möchte hier alleine bleiben mit ihnen,” confesses Isolda and gets away unpunished, unlike the others.
Their faith lays at the clicking thimble-clad fingertips of Ariane. But does it really?
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Clémence Poésy confesses: "J’ai eu envie de mettre des bris de verre dans les chaussures d’Isolda." 
while her dominatrix is about to get more creative with punishments. Photo by René Habermacher.
Fragments of scenes linger like particles in the still air, lit by rays of distant light. Emotions whirl and loop in repetition.
As the sun wanders and fades multiple times, filming continues to ever later hours and let the fictions fringes blur. The crew becomes hostage to the ancient mansion, a surreal, yarn-spinning fairy tale. Roles and reality intertwine in the fabric of a captivating Greek Gothic mystery.
Somewhere in the mansions underbelly glows Ariane’s gown, a creation by Canadien artist Ying Gao. The ruffles of the sheer fabric move in slow motion, animated by fine tuned micro-robotics, the dress is adorning her floating silhouette in the pitch black of the vault.
Ariane at the onset of darkness, wearing a micro-robotic geared gown by Canadian designer Ying Gao,
for which Bekos the goat developed an immense appetite. Photo by René Habermacher.
Ariane’s last scene ends with the day, the private speedboat waiting at the quai to take her back to Piraeus.
Its a wrap. As the crew departs the set, the deserted mansion continues to stare over the empty promenade under an anemic moon.
Alone, Bekos, the star-goat, pet to the headmistress, remains; saved from being served for the Easter feast, and hopefully living happily ever-after.
One of Bekos's caprices: an endless hunger for attention, and bits and bites of the costumes. Photo by René Habermacher.
“The Capsule” continues its journey to festivals, after Sundance the next stops:
25th Angers Premier Plans Film Festival, France, 2013
48th Solothurn Film Festival, Switzerland, 2013
36th Göteborg International Film Festival, Sweden, 2013
More information: THE CAPSULE

Posters for The Capsule: Design by Ania Goszczyńska with artwork of Aleksandra Waliszewska

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SANDRA BACKLUND: is knitting herself to the top

May 16th, 2011

Wherever Sandra Backlund picks her thread it will lead to an incomparable result. That earned her the jury prize in Hyères 2008 and with it international recognition, on which Louis Vuitton had bought in shortly after. The dark Swede impresses with knit works that go far beyond the discipline of fashion and render the use of traditional artisan technique to visionary, body oriented sculptures. Looking at her latest installation CUPRUM 2010, it comes not as a surprise she had studied art history.
The Piece made entirely of finest copper yarn, was commissioned by the Villa Noailles for this years exhibition.

The Stimuleye talked with Sandra about here recent work. The conversation was shortly interrupted by yet another request from the international glitteratti circuit: Sandra is truly knitting to the top!

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Sandra Backlund's installation CUPRUM 2010 at the Villa Noailles' pigeonnier. Photography by René Habermacher

RENÉ HABERMACHER: What was the point of departure for this installation and the inspiration behind it?
SANDRA BACKLUND: Everything took off from the position they gave me for my exhibition, the Pigeon House in the north garden of Villa Noailles. I think it’s a very beautiful space, so I wanted to use it as a frame, rather then just a location. Because the house is partly open and the exhibition would run for one month outside, I had to carefully consider what material to work with. Already for my current S/S 2011 collection I had been working with a metal yarn made from 100% copper, so in a way it came natural to me to continue exploring that material. With a history of use that is at least 10 000 years old, copper is an important part of both our history and the future. It’s one of the world’s most useful natural resources, 100% recyclable without any loss of quality and it’s estimated that 80% of the copper ever mined, is still in use today. In a way I feel like the story of copper as a material and the way I try to approach fashion go very well together.

Can you explain me the process of planning, and the making of the dress?
As always, the handicraft techniques and the human body is the main starting point for me. I never sketch, instead I work with a three dimensional collage method where I develop some basic bricks that I multiply and attach to each other in different ways to discover the silhouette. The only thing I decided already from the beginning was that I wanted some kind of link between the signature piece (the paper origami top) of my winning collection from the 22nd edition of the festival in 2007. Because of the different techniques, materials and colours and because of the process, I guess in the end the link is not so obvious, but there is a few things that is still noticeable, like the silhouette and the size gradings for example.

I’ve witnessed you working day and night on this piece – do you have a clue how many hours went into the making?
To be honest, I think that this is the longest piece I have ever worked on. First of all, crochet is always extremely time consuming, especially when it’s layered like this. The copper tape is also very fragile and ones it’s used it, it’s impossible to change, so I had let go of the control and in a way let faith guide me to the end result. If we are talking hours, my estimation is around 500-600 hours.

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Pieces of copper yarn in the the making, and Sandra at the exhibition space. Photography by René Habermacher

Your pieces are often very sculptural, with the artisan work involved, i wonder wether you consider to put your work in a different context than fashion?
Of course I have consider this and many times questioned if fashion is really the right context for my work. As you said, my clothes are always quite sculptural and I also use methods when working that is more close to a sculptor’s, then a tailor’s. But somehow I always come back to the human body. I like to consciously dress and undress different parts of the body and I am very fascinated by all the ways highlight, distort and transform the natural silhouette with clothes and accessories. For me fashion is also one of the most democratic art forms, something that we are all related to. You don’t have to be a designer or a stylist to use clothes as a creative statement, but people in general could of course be more self-governed when t comes to fashion.

To me it seems difficult to render your unique approach into industrial production. How are your experiences with that?
About two years ago I was introduced to the long tradition of Italian top knitwear and apparel production. The challenge was to add to my collections something inspired by my hand made pieces that could require only a limited amount of manual work. It was of course a big step for me to go from working alone in my studio, inventing pieces while doing them myself by hand, to suddenly be working in a team of experts within a field of fashion that I never before have had the chance to get to know. I was overwhelmed by all the possibilities I saw and even though I will never give up doing my hand knitted signature pieces, these production tests really made me understand that there is ways to develop my collections that I never thought was possible.

What is this festival of Hyères to you? How was it to win – and to be back for this project?
The whole event is really an experience for life when you’re a young designer, all the people you meet and the rush from showing your work in a context like that. I didn’t know about the festival before I met Diane Pernet and she suggested that I should apply. I was crazy happy already when I was selected for the finale and then the wind up… It’s really an important moment in my career so far and to be back again this year and meet everyone was kind of a flash back. When I think about it, I’m still a bit shocked that I was the winner.

What’s up next?
F/W 2011-2012 production, S/S 2012 collection and some up coming exhibitions.

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The dress weights over 6kg, made from an archaic material that was the first to be 100% recyclable

Further information on Sandra Backlund: sandrabacklund.com
The Exhibition at the Villa Noailles in Hyeres runs throughout May until the 29th


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Hyères Alive ! Fashion Shows & Awards Ceremony

May 1st, 2011

Semi-live from Hyères, it’s Hyères Alive !

 Hyères 2011 Fashion Shows.

Hyères 2011 Award Ceremony.

Directed by Antoine Asseraf
Filmed by Antoine Asseraf + Jason Last
Edited and post-produced by Clément Roncier
Voice and coordination by Lynsey Peisinger
Sound Design by Lori Schonberg


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