Ragnar Kjartansson | The Visitors

Do you remember the boat that slowly glides on the Venice lagoon, nearby the Arsenale, with a crew of professional musicians playing the notes by Kjartan Sveinsson? The kinetic sound-sculpture S.S. Hangover, presented at the 55th Biennale, is just one of the performances by the versatile Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976, Reykjavík), the Icelandic artist who exploits film, music, video installations, drawing and paintings to express opposed feelings. Kjartansson’s unique works, full of drama and humor, sadness and happiness, genuineness and artificiality, are based on diverse cultural influences (Islander traditions, lyric music and folk contemporary culture) and loop repetition of gestures and images. His theatrical devices very often imply the artist’s presence, acting as a rock star, a whimsical son or a rider, always characterized by a pronounced romantic, passionate and ironic flair.

For his solo exhibition at Hangar Bicocca, curated by Andrea Lissoni and Heike Munder (Director of the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst), Kjartansson displays – for the first time in Italy – The Visitors, a captivating and emotional video installation. Inspired by the namesake album by the ABBA, the work is made by nine full-scale videos, featuring musicians (all artist’s friends) playing different instruments and singing the same song “Feminine Ways”, composed by the artist on a poem written by Kjartansson’s ex-partner Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir.

The nine stages – a library, a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, a studio… – shot in a decaying, 19th century house in New York, are projected at the same time, creating a choral performance that reflects on emotional bonds with the artist’s distinctive poetical language and ability to involve the viewers, capturing their imagination and attention.

The Visitors is presented in collaboration with Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst and will run until 17th November 2013.

Monica Lombardi 
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London Design Festival 2013 Highlights

It’s that time of the year again when your favourite websites are taken over by not only the images of latest trends, skinny models and posh front row outfits, but also by hundreds of design projects that range from the hundredth new chair produced this year to flashy one-off installations. Yes, London Design Festival has opened its gates quite a few days ago and we have had the time to wander around some of its hot-spots and bring you a not-so-detailed, but yet very accurately selected list of projects we have liked, loved or even slightly hated in this year’s edition of the Festival.

Scholten&Baijings “The Dinner Party” at V&A

We have often wondered if there will come a time when design museums might actually give a more realistic view of design practice than the currently used ‘look and adore, but do not touch’ mode of display. This time hasn’t actually arrived yet, even though Dutch design duo Scholten&Baijings have come quite close. “The Dinner Party” is an installation that tries to create both a dialogue between the historical setting of V&A’s Norfolk House Music Room, as well as propose a lived-in setting for their trademark tableware projects.

Typographic Circle’s Circular Magazine

Another event at the V&A is worth mentioning: the exhibition showcasing issues 8-18 of Typographic Circle’s Circular Magazine. Founded with the goal of creating a community of type-lovers as well as promoting graphic design – and especially typographic – culture, each issue of the magazine was completely different both in style and content, evolving with the passing of time.

So Sottsass at Darkroom

If it weren’t for our unconditional love for everything even slightly related to Ettore Sottsass, we would have dismissed this project in a second. “So Sottsass” is a collection of objects that stylistically interpret the designs of the grand Italian master, giving a quirky touch to the shop’s selection. So, if you can’t afford a real Sottsass piece, you can maybe temporarily satisfy your needs with a quirky pillow, a totem light by Jamie Julien-Brown or a Studiopepe Kora vase.

Wonderland at 19 Greek Street

Even though the premises of this exhibition seemed actually far more interesting than what we got to see in there, this Soho space is worth visiting. With the goal of (once again) inquiring into that ambiguous space between art and design, Wonderland brings about 18 pieces by 12 designers, which range from furniture made combining wood and cast aluminium to lamps made combining industry and hand-craft. Even though the idea of exploring the boundaries of design practice is always interesting, we didn’t find many encouraging takes on that thought in this display.

Faye Toogood for Established and Sons

English brand Established and Sons has invited Faye Toogood, London-based designer, to create an installation for their showroom. Named “The Conductor”, the installation is made up of a series of fluorescent lights controlled by analogue toggle switches, embedded in blocks of coloured resin, through which the cables can be seen, interpreting the brand’s new collection of colourful resin furniture by Jo Nagasaka. Playful and visually somewhat mystical, this project is to be read under the ‘just for fun design’ label.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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Playlist: Rock Part 2

Yes! It’s more good Rock. It’s like a new great album is released every other day. Whether it seems to be happening by the older players, or the more established acts, who cares really! As long as the music is good and the modern pioneers of the genre keep on pioneering, the scene is only bound to evolve. And that’s exactly what it seems to be doing, evolving! The following music suggestions are new songs by five very different bands of our time, which are part of a very similar scene. What they definitely have in common is that they all resist pandering to the masses’ musical whims and stay focused on refining their own personal sound, which is probably also their secret to success.

Arctic Monkeys – I Want It All
Sheffield-born and raised Arctic Monkey’s have finally released their much anticipated fifth album, AM. Honing their Josh Homme-influenced-California-desert sound, in combination with the band’s natural Northern swagger and Alex Turner’s always evolving songwriting abilities, they’ve certainly delivered. Hear here.

Franz Ferdinand – Evil Eye
“Evil Eye”, the second track from the new Franz Ferdinand album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, falls in the category of spooky Pop. The only other songs in Pop history belonging in this category are probably Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and perhaps Mötley Crüe’s “Dr. Feelgood”. Great song though! And although relatively creepy and rather grotesque, the zombie-themed video is also eye candy. Hear here.

MGMT – Your Life is a Lie
Connecticut’s main psychedelics, MGMT, were streaming their new self-titled album online ahead of its release date just this week. With a quite Beatles meet The Brian Jonestown Massacre sound, it’s clear that the band is not trying to make hit songs at the moment, just great songs!

Babyshambles – Picture Me In A Hospital
Also just released, Sequel to the Prequel is Babyshamble’s first album in six years. With a quite Folky, Country, Bluesy – even Reggae at times – sound, the band seems to have departed a bit from their more indie-punk sounding material of the previous two records. Hear here.

Arcade Fire – Reflektor
One of Canada’s only claims to fame other than Celine Dion, Arcade Fire, has not released an album, but are working on one, and this is kind of what it will sound like. With a rather dark shade of Disco, this James Murphy produced song is what the album is likely to feel like.

Andreas Stylianou 
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Milano Fashion Week SS14: Costume National

Yesterday it was time for Ennio Capasa to make his addition to the Spring/Summer 2014 collections, and after showing in Paris for 23 years, he brought Costume National back to the show scene of Milan. The Blogazine caught a moment with the designer backstage after the show.

What are your first feelings now, right after the show?

They are positive feelings! I’m happy about it and I think the vibration, the energy, was good and this place is just amazing! I feel good.

What was the initial emotion that started this collection?

You know, when I start a collection I always think of construction and deconstruction, and because of this beautiful building that was barely just finished, I tried to think if there is something that has the same value, the same energy and if there is some kind of possibility to translate that into clothes.

You tend to implement menswear elements into the women’s wear collections. Is it a result of your love for tailoring?

I cannot say that this is a masculine collection, but I can say it’s a modern collection and I can say that tailoring is a treasure of Italy! This is the one place in the world where one has great suit tailoring. I think it’s something fantastic and I like to touch that part. Actually, what I like is when we can touch the past but merge it together with the future, and that is what’s very very important to me.

Your work is famous for its innovative approach but also this passion of yours for Italian tailoring. What’s the trick for finding the perfect balance between the classic elements and the evolution and innovation of things?

Oh you never know how it will go! Sometimes it turns out better and sometimes not, one collection is more successful than another but it’s this balance that you talk about that is the achievement, the point I want to arrive to. I think this collection was quite well done in that sense, there was a good balance. I’ve been working in fashion for many many years and some collections have of course been less balanced. This time I think the collection is very strong.

When you first live streamed a fashion show you were a pioneer in spreading fashion that way. What are your thoughts about the extreme width that new media has created in the fashion landscape today?

When we made that streaming, it was the first in the world. We, my brother and I, believed, or smelled, that it was the future and we are very happy about being the first ones in the history of fashion live streaming. I think it’s like when the first people used electricity. It was something incredible, but now it’s part of our daily lives and it’s something natural.

Your reality on the runway is very much the reality and experience of the clothes that your end customer receives too. Is it important for you to create clothes that work as well on the runway as on the street?

For me it’s absolutely important! I think the ‘catwalk fashion’ is coming to an end. Fashion should be strong and there must be innovation but in the same time it has to be fashion for the use in the real life. It can be for a special occasion or a party, but it must be for real occasions.

Interview Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Images by Agota Lukytė 
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SS14 London Runway Trends

London SS14 runway shows are wrapped up and here at The Blogazine we have pulled together some of the key trends which we feel will be hot next SS14.

We saw the importance of pink at the Autumn/Winter shows but it is clear that pink is not going away. A palette of soft pastel pinks, sugary and sweet hues and bubble gum are applied to soft clean shapes in rich qualities.

Metallics are set to be strong next Spring/Summer with a playful use of shine and shimmer, which are used in sportive styles that create a new edge to sportswear. Christopher Kane approaches shine in a rainbow mélange of bright shiny colours.

Bold text and messages are clearly here to stay for another season continuing the 90s inspired trend. The collection at Ashish manages to draw a fun youthful edge to the trend but still keeping the outfits alive and modern, with exciting fabric and colour mixes, the collection is an exaggerated view of youth trends right now.

Denim seems to be a firm favourite with designers for SS14. It has been used as a base fabric to create another dimension, with brocade, embroidery, layering and texture, which means denim takes a new turn. Holly Fulton plays beautifully with embroidered geometrical shapes on basic mid-washed denim.

What would summer be without flowers? For the floral lovers out there, you can be sure to see some strong floral prints and patterns for next summer. Eudon Choi updates the classic biker jacket with a beautiful floral pattern, making the style more feminine than ever.

Tamsin Cook 
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On the Edge of the World

When you see Carmelo Flores Laura, it is impossible not to think about one of the protagonists of Gabriel Garcia Márquez‘s or Isabelle Allende‘s novels. To find him, last August some photographers climbed a 4.000-meter high mountain to reach a village westbound of La Paz. Once there, they met this hobbit-looking, gap-toothed, aged little man, so aged that, according to documents, he would be born in 16 july 1890, which would make him 123 years old by now. His birth certificate has been sent very soon after that to Guinness World Records, and if the date can be confirmed, he would become the oldest person on Earth. But, to this andean little man, records like this don’t mean too much. He is surely a centenary. He has tilled the soil for a whole lifetime, eating lizards and coca leaves; he protects himself from andine cold wearing only a poncho and, between one thing and another, he had three sons, 16 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren. He has already had an extraordinary life.

Carmelo Flores is the emblem of a whole nation, Bolivia, the South American country that, better than many others, preserves its traditional culture. In this part of America, there are places that look like lunar craters, as La Paz, the highest capital in the world, and breath-taking andean landscapes, as Titicaca lake, venerated from Indios Aymara and Tupiza, a city that appears suddenly between mountains, rivers and forests of cactuses. Bolivia doesn’t have any shoreline: this state is a hazelnut of land which rubs shoulders with Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Paraguay, craved for hundred years by these countries that saw it as a place to conquer.

Bolivia is a land of contrasts, broken into two parts that almost never collide: one, the smallest, is populated by dangerous gangsters who export drugs worldwide. The other inhabited by people who live far away from richness and illegality. Carmelo Flores, as the most of the bolivians, belongs to this second universe. Poor, illiterate, he spends his days cooking rice and walking around together with llamas, symbols of these old lands that for their tops are known as “The Tibet of Andes”. Maybe it’s because of the heights and for its inner position, maybe for the obstinacy with which indios preserve their traditions: whatever it is, Bolivia looks like a country at the end of the world, from where to start again to appreciate the taste of simplicity, and of life spent day by day.

Antonio Leggieri – Photo credit to Associated Press & Martha de Jong-Lantink 
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Innovators in Music: SoundCloud

Berlin-based SoundCloud is going from strength to strength, and although starting out with the relatively modest goal of making the collaboration between musicians easier, it has already made its way into the small elite of companies which can be described as game-changers.

Much like Apple or Facebook, which also started with much more modest goals than what they have achieved and one couldn’t have foreseen the cultural impact they have had, SoundCloud has become a firm staple of modern post-internet life. Influencing the field in which it operates, just like the above-mentioned companies, to the degree where things just cannot be the same after its inception. Kind of like the Beatles then, where music could never be the same after them, similarly the production, distribution and consumption of music – or sound to be more precise – can never be the same again.

Breaking down the barriers between artists and fans, or better yet, producers and consumers, SoundCloud is an online community where global superstars such as 50 Cent (with 389,127 followers), find themselves sitting alongside budding unknowns with less than 50 followers. In both cases their audiences, however large or minute, can listen to, comment on, share and in many cases download anything uploaded by the artists.

The most important thing about SoundCloud however, is how it has positively influenced all parties involved. Namely the record labels, the artists and the listeners, which all seem to have their place in this global network. Whether it’s by finding new artists and trends in music, by promoting their work as artists and trying to be sought by the labels, or simply by listening, following and liking sounds. It works like an electric circuit where every part is as essential as the other. With only one part removed, the circuit is broken.

Not being a platform for merely music but more for sound in general, you can also come across or search to find stuff such as New York’s Mayor’s latest speech, White House press conferences or even ambient noise from the International Space Station. All in the site’s trademark orange waveform, which is slowly but steadily becoming as widespread as Apple’s logo or Facebook’s thumbs-up like button.

To find out more about the company’s history and the people behind it check out this interview with founder and CEO of Soundcloud, Alex Ljung.

Andreas Stylianou 
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Upcoming Artists | San Mei

San Mei is a girl, her real name is Emily Hamilton and sheʼs from the Gold Coast.
 She has just unveiled her three debut tracks: “Brighter”, “Already Know” and “Watch the Breezes”. “
Brighter” is San Meiʼs first official release, recorded at home and then fine tuned at Little Pink Studios for the Londoner label Tidal Wave Sunshine, shiny vibes sung over synth treats, layered with fresh production skills all sounding breezy. 
Australian San Mei mixes sugar-sweet vocals with lo-fi pop melodies, adding her name to our fresh list of upcoming artists.

Hello Emily, how are you and what have you done today?
I’ve just woken up after a rather interesting night last night! I had a flight from Melbourne back home to the Gold Coast, and I’m pretty sure the plane nearly went down on the way due to storms! We got diverted and stranded in another city, but luckily we made our way home in the early hours of the morning! haha… I’m still recovering!

Who is San Mei and how was the project born?
San Mei is my solo project which started as a bedroom project late last year. I was actually playing in a folk/country band at the time. I just started writing my own music and felt really good about it, so I pursued it and released a few songs myself. They were received fairly well, which then led to my first official release ‘Brighter’.

What’s your musical background?
I’ve played piano for years since I was a little girl, but I never really had an interest in making my own music until I was finishing high school. I’m not sure why, it just hit me like an epiphany or something. I worked on some solo music but also joined a couple of bands as well.

Has Australia influenced your music? If so, how?
Australia is a really beautiful country – I think the warmth and freedom and positive attitude really fosters some quality music and I’m sure it has an influence on my music… especially where I live – sunshine and beaches!

Is it a good place to be a musician?
Yes, there is some really good support for upcoming artists, people trying to break through… I think the online thing has really helped us overcome being so isolated geographically from the rest of the world, so I feel we have a lot more opportunities in terms of international exposure these days.

Do you have a strict process for writing your songs?
No! Writing songs is really unpredictable for me. If I get an idea, I’ll work on it and sometimes struggle for weeks or months with it, and sometimes I can write the song in one sitting. I wish there was an easier formula, but not for me unfortunately.

What’s the story behind your new track “Brighter”?
It’s very personal to me, but it can be interpreted as wanting/needing someone or something so much, that only they will make you be better, or reach your dreams, or help get you through… I hope people can relate to it in different ways that apply to them.

What are you listening to now?
I’m currently obsessed with the new album Hungry Ghost by a Brisbane-based band called Violent Soho. They’re an amazing grunge/garage band and I’ve got the album on repeat!

Tell us about your relationship with Tidal Wave Sounds.
Tidal Wave have been really good to me! They’re based in London and approached me about helping to release my new track. They’ve done a lot to get my song around online and it’s going really well.

What’s coming up for San Mei in 2014?
Definitely more music to be released, and some live shows!

Enrico Chinellato 
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The Last Virtue In Fashion

Last week, Rodarte sent a gang of pseudo-cholas down the runway. After that, it’s easy to believe that there are no longer any rules in high-end fashion. Not at least regarding aesthetics. Even though Rodarte has strayed far away from its signature look, the brand will have no problems surviving the Spring season. The chichi crowd loves exotification and doesn’t mind dressing up subcultural every now and then. If we’re only talking about a mere seasonal escape that is.

The laws of visual aesthetics are turning more and more liberal. But there is still one word regulating the high–end market: quality. The last virtue in fashion. One simply doesn’t present a collection of poor standards. However, these two components are closely related.

Remember when Kanye West’s first fashion effort was cut off like in a guillotine? Few opposed the idea of the collection, except for the redundant use of fur perhaps. On the other hand, the tailoring was of the shoddy kind. The garments weren’t just ill fitting on the mannequins. It was clear that they hadn’t been adjusted to the human body at all. The visual quality of the collection fell flat. How many more collections from West have emerged since?

Few have been as accused of unoriginal design as Christophe Decarnin. But during his six-year reign at Balmain, many praised his taste in fashion. Also, there was never an obvious issue with quality. Therefore, he managed to keep the sales figures soaring.

The Mulleavy sisters will have nothing to worry about either. As long as their fringed leopard mini dresses offer the usual impeccable craftsmanship. The die-hard fans will probably find a way to wear the embellished bustier. Luckily for Rodarte, there still are no social rules regarding using subcultures or minorities as inspiration for playing dress up.

Petter Köhler – images Rodarte 
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In Barcelona with Ana Mirats

“It’s a little big city.” Ana Mirats, graphic designer and art director, talks about Barcelona – the city of Gaudí and the second largest city in Spain. This is where she after years of working for others, from home and in shared co-working spaces, decided to set up her own studio: a place where ideas become reality. The Blogazine did a stop in the capital of Catalonia to pay her a visit.

Ana Mirats is easygoing. “Come by whenever you want to! Just call before to see that I’m here!” is her answer when we get in contact to make an appointment. The attitude mirrors the ambience around her. Like her website, the studio breathes simplicity. Yet, the scent of creativity cannot be mistaken. “Looking at my profession, being located in Barcelona is a good choice, seen from both inside and outside of Spain. It’s an inspiring city and many good publications are born here.” Ana has worked as a graphic designer for 12 years, whereas six of them she also spent working with art direction. “I had been working for small studios for four years when I was offered a position in a Spanish multinational company dedicated to fashion. I stayed there for a few months in the same time as doing some freelance jobs, but I had always thought about working on my own and eventually I made it.”

While the part of being a graphic designer calls for the actual handwork, the role of an art director requires the ability to conceptualise the collective thoughts of a team and translate the desired ideas, moods and messages into visual material. To the subject of which part of her job she enjoys the most, she replies: “That’s a difficult question! I like everything! The part I enjoy the most though is the development of an idea, which happens all along the process – from that the initial idea takes shape until its final result.” While going through the printed material of Ana’s portfolio, we also pick her brain about the differences of working for print versus new media. “A lot has changed – the digital world has overwhelmed us very fast. This has resulted in both small and large companies following an increased pace that obviously affect us all. Nevertheless, I believe the work is the same, just translated to other media. The point here is to understand the new languages and know how to use them.”

In the universe of Ana Mirats, the dream job isn’t narrowed down to that one account. “Doing what I do now, in different cities around the world, for a long time, is the dream.” And if travelling around the world is the dream, where does she go to find inspiration? “Any place is OK, the importance lies in being open to new things. I travel, go to the cinema, listens to music. I love travelling abroad and to shop in second-hand bookstores. You can find unexpected wonders!”

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Images Coke Bartrina 
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