The States of Matter According To Nicola Martini

Nicola Martini (Florence, 1984) is undoubtedly an intriguing artist. What he usually does, his artistic approach, is set midway between craftsmanship and a distinctive scientific process where different materials (concrete, bitumen, bones, wax, resin, acids…) and their ways of reacting become key elements of his language. Martini’s investigation exploits the numerous potentialities offered by the matter to go beyond the concept of sculpture and installation.

Somehow invading the field of chemistry and through the method of the experimental sciences, he creates his works exploring the limits of the substances he is working with, transforming their states. In a kind of endless research in order to discover what happens to something in particular conditions, the artist puts himself to the test of the unexpected, experiencing a creative and performative art process that combines foreseen and contingent.

For his first show at kaufmann repetto entitled Sippe – German word that stands for tribe -, Nicola Martini chose to paint the walls and the ceiling of the gallery with bitumen of Judea, which is a photosensitive texture, used here to react to the light coming from the huge windows, but also to let out previous signs, as eraser and nails marks (as a sort of reconstruction of the “life” of the walls). Other sculptures – fusions of colophony with microcrystalline wax, and glass with quartz sand – are arranged to interact with the ever-changing space, acting as filters between light and bitumen.

A gallery of portraits by the eminent architect, designer, photographer, motor racing and aeronautical pilot Carlo Mollino (Turin, 1905-1973) accompanied Nicola Martini’s show.

After the ‘fireworks’ of the openings days of the Biennale and the weekend devoted to the main international art fair – see Art Basel in Basel -, here’s our suggestion for all of you who are staying in Milan for a while. 
The exhibition will run until August 2nd, 2013.

Monica Lombardi 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Sunday Breakfast by Love For Breakfast

Sun inside that warms. Light outside warms up this late springtime day.

Alessia Bossi from Love For Breakfast 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

The Suburbs

Whether you’re keen on about American suburbs or not, keep in mind the name Westchester. If you some day end up in California, remember to visit it, because this anonymous neighborhood of the South Bay Region of Los Angeles County is the emblem of an entire country, of its culture and the way of life of its people. It will be enough to spend just one afternoon there – perhaps a nice, sunny afternoon in mid August – to have the impression of being sucked in your home TV, in an episode of Desperate Housewives or on the set of The Truman Show.

A 1989 Los Angeles Times article described Westchester as a “raw suburb, created willy-nilly in the 1940s”. Official numbers about the population of the area are updated 13 years ago but, judging in person, you could swear that not much has changed from that time: a small neighborhood of 40 thousand people – especially rich with the elderly and war veterans (that Wikipedia defines as “better educated compared to the greater city’s citizens”) – who live in small, wooden houses with well-groomed lawns and the stars and stripes flag in show. The houses are painted pure white and they stand out perfectly against the electric blue sky, a colour met only in California, so vivid that it fills your stomach with expectations. Before you even realize, it turns into sadness, because under such a sky beautiful things could happen, but instead you find yourself watching the Mexicans mow the lawns and delivery boys unload cases of beer to bars. Beverly Hills and Hollywood are just a half-hour car ride away, but it seems like light years from Westchester.

Considering that the viewpoints of people who lived there can surely give a better idea of the place compared to a mere visitor’s opinion, here is a memory found on the site of LA Times left by a veteran named Louis: “Grew up in Westchester from 1951 until I left for the Marine Corps in 1966. Parents stayed until they passed in 1998/2000. Loved it but the area outgrew itself. Went to Visitation and then to Westchester HS. Ron Dutton from Orville Wright Jr HS (Teacher) and I are still corresponding. What a life!”

Now, as a final test, do this: write “Westchester, Los Angeles” on Google Maps and see a street view. How could you disagree with him?

Antonio Leggieri 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Dressed To Be Shot

Fashion bloggers, street style photographers – the phenomenon, hype, trend or just evolution of the fashion system: the subject isn’t foreign to The Blogazine. In Garage Magazine‘s short film “Take My Picture” the clinch between fashion editors and fashion bloggers is apparent, as well as the hysteria around the street style photographers’ darlings and stars-to-be.

When did the photographers start to outnumber the ‘objects’ to be shot? Has the extreme number of fashion/street/style/photography blogs not only created a possibility to be seen, but a need to be seen? Is everyone dressing up to be shot?

Bill Cunningham said “the best fashion show is definitely on the street – always has been, and always will be”. Then of course, Cunningham did street style photography before it even was an expression. No matter what one’s opinion might be about the statement, the truth is that the streets outside the show venues are as much of a fashion parade as the runway itself. The number of photographers and fashion bloggers trying to snap a picture of another blogger, model, it-girl, it-boy or fashion editor seems ridiculous, but who is to judge what also is an affordable alternative to an advertising campaign for young designers?

It’s a sure thing that all our digital tools have democratized fashion and created opportunities for brand publicity in a way that never was an option before. Even designers with a low, or no, budget can find ways of showing off their collections during the hottest periods of fashion weeks. The question is – does the situation, in the film compared to French warfare, create monsters, turning the glamour of fashion into a reality show? And does the great ones – fashion blogs as well as actually talented photographers – disappear in the crowd of peacocks and amateurs?

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Noah Baumbach’s Evolving Perspective

Noah Baumbach is terrified of failure. He likes to make movies that explore the psyches of confused and over-educated people who don’t have any idea of what to make of their lives, and thus often end up making a mess. His debut film, 1995’s Kicking And Screaming, detailed four young men who had just graduated from college and refused, at least in their minds, to enter into the adult world. The Squid and the Whale gave us an adolescent’s perspective on what it’s like to see your well-to-do family unravel right before your eyes. The film was based almost entirely on Baumbach’s own childhood, raised in Brooklyn by two aspiring writers. His last film, 2010’s Greenberg, dealt with a failed musician in his mid-40s who has let his life pass him by. His life had turned him into a bitter coward who was all but unbearable to those around him.

His new film explores similar themes from the other side of the fence. Frances Ha documents the wanderings of an attractive 27-year-old dancer who has trouble connecting to the world outside of her head. Shot beautifully in black and white, the movie is a throwback in style and substance to the New York Woody Allen defined in Manhattan and Annie Hall. It’s something of a lover letter to youth and indecision, which is to say that it values character over plot. Frances’ (played by Greta Gerwig, who also co-wrote the script with Baumbach) struggles are entirely unexceptional. Her friend moves out, she needs an apartment, she’s broke, she’s not really doing what she knows she should be doing, etc.

Frances’ non-life-threatening mental gymnastics are easily relatable to anyone who’s ever felt cheated by the dissolutions of youth or the promises of higher education. But unlike the characters of Greenberg or The Squid and the Whale, Gerwig’s character doesn’t let life’s grim realities sour her worldview and turn her bitter and cold. Maybe there’s a sequel for that down the road. For now she seems ready to approach adulthood cautiously, one step at a time, without losing her identity in the process. It may seem like a small victory, but it’s a victory nonetheless.

Lane Koivu 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Anchovies of the Mediterranean Sea

There is a small seaside town in southern Italy, a few kilometers after the town of Salerno, where for hundreds of years the locals produce Colatura di Alici (anchovies juice). The town is called Cetara, it’s beautiful and fragile, embraced by mountains and bathed by the Mediterranean sea.

The monks who lived there began to extract the juice of salted anchovies and to store it in wooden barrels. Today the locals are doing the same in small workshops. The Colatura is a precious condiment that can be used with pasta or on bread or in salads. The anchovies are put in wooden barrels covered with the salt of Trapani (in Sicily) and then matured for years. The result is this precious nectar that you should definitely try. Unfortunately for the foreigners, you can get this pale yellow culinary jewel only by visiting their shop on location. But it’s worth the travel.

Stefano Tripodi 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Monthly Reads | The Italian Avant-Garde 1968-1976

Even though design is usually all about materiality and useful objects, it nevertheless both gives form to the books we lose ourselves in, as well as presents itself as quite an interesting subject to read about. This is why a new project by one of the most socially and politically engaged art publishing houses, the German Sternberg Press, should be particularly well appreciated. Titled EP, this project poses itself between a bi-annual magazine and a book series, with the goal of analyzing relevant topics in a way that resembles an EP – a musical recording that contains more music than a single, but is too short to qualify as an LP.

The first ‘issue’ of this particular project is dedicated to “The Italian Avant-Garde 1968-1976”, discussed in a particularly engaging but breezy manner. The publication of this book is particularly interesting in the current period of profound political and social crisis, as it contextualizes a moment in Italian design history when its most interesting and thought-provoking projects did not actually relate to its widely renowned industrial excellence, but to its social role and moral duty. Offering (often contradictory) proposals for a new way of confronting our material environment, Italian radical movements have installed a constructive debate and fierce criticism, contributing in evaluating the role of objects in our everyday life.

Even though it relates to a subject that often appears in contemporary design discourse, the editors of this book were nevertheless aware of the impatience of contemporary readers. Hence, the book contains different types of content – interviews, bulletin points, short texts, essays – building a contemporary dialogue about the subject: connecting past and present, history and theory, practice and imagination, with illustrious contributors ranging from Paola Antonelli to Martino Gamper, from Joseph Grima to Michelangelo Pistoletto. 
Even though the subject might not be the most simple one, the particular structure of the book (and its delightful graphic design by Experimental Jetset), might actually qualify it for an excellent pre-summer read enjoying a spare ray of light and positivity offered by both our (currently) shy sun as well as the courageous radical designers of the past.

Rujana Rebernjak 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

When Attitude Becomes Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013

Flashback to Switzerland, 1969: the Swiss art historian and curator Harald Szeemann is curating the exhibition Live in Your Head. When Attitude Becomes Form with a group of young, revolutionary artists in Bern Kunsthalle, a moment that went down in history for Szeemann’s new and radical approach to the exhibition practice as a linguistic medium. Fast forward to Venice and the crowded preview days of the Biennale: Fondazione Prada’s Ca Corner della Regina is presenting When Attitude Becomes Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013, an exhibition curated by Germano Celant in dialogue with Thomas Demand and Rem Koolhaas, as an reconstruction of the original show.

Revisiting the Post-pop and Post-minimal art of the time; from Conceptual art to Arte Povera and Land art, the show at Fondazione Prada is bringing together the original works presented at the Kunsthalle by artist legends such as Claes Oldenburg, Bruce Nauman, Eva Hesse, Joseph Beuys, Daniel Buren, Walter De Maria, Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Weiner. Despite (or perhaps because of) the two-hour-long queue to enter the Fondazione, the show turned out to be one of the absolute must-sees during the preview week.

Similar to how a generation of young artist occupied the Bern Kunsthalle, the richly ornamented Venetian palazzo and head quarter of Fondazione Prada has in turn been invaded by the Kunsthalle’s 20th century modernist rooms. White plaster walls have been installed inside the 18th century building, and the works have been placed in the exact same order as in the original exhibition. The project is based on Fondazione Prada’s and the Getty Research Institute’s research and study of documents, letters and photographs related to Szeemann and the 1969 show, and an analysis of over 1000 photographs made it possible to identify the works of the exhibition, and to make a precise mapping of what happened in Bern. The result is pretty breathtaking.

Thanks to plenty of archive material and study centers, visitors can experience and analyze the show from the 1969 version until its transformed, present state. A program including meetings, lectures, live concerts and performances will also be accompanying the exhibition during its five-month run. When in Venice, don’t miss out on this gem.

When Attitude Becomes Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013 is on view at Fondazione Prada between 1 June and 3 November 2013.

Helena Nilsson Strängberg 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

The Charm of the Discreteness

Flipping through the magazines we see that the projects of new buildings, but also of the design objects of daily use, are losing character. Intensive use of “cold” materials and hightech, the oversize has separated us from the spiritual property of our sites, our spaces and objects. This is why designers like Kevin Low seem to be able to save what remains of a design well-made, calibrated, that can relate back to our things, big or small they are.

Kevin Low, despite the studies in the United States, returned to his native land Malaysia, and proposes a design rooted in its origins, local, using basic materials that are handed down over time and with a certain tactile charm, wood and iron above all. His projects are small, as he tells us with the name by which it occurs – “Small Projects” -,
 but are heard and followed by a manual approach, they’re always right.

The result that follows – objects, details, buildings with a special charm, wonderfully discreet and complementing spaces poetically – is certainly not big impersonal architectures. Low’s method could serve as a model for the transformation of design, being thin and camouflage instead of bold and impetuous. We should reflect on the work of the people like Kevin Low, and take a look at the studies of this type. For example Studio Mumbai in India, or many others in Europe – especially in Switzerland and Scandinavia – want to make us realize that design still means manual work, models, prototypes, evidence, making samples, intervening only at the end, trying to create discreet order and not distorting the places where we live. Maybe we need less automation and more low-tech materials and mechanical movements.

Giulio Ghirardi 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

Sunday Breakfast by Love For Breakfast

Everything I need this morning stays in a cup. Colors and strength.

Alessia Bossi from Love For Breakfast 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter