An Excuse for Curiosity: Music Festivals II

An electronic music festival displaces an experience that we may ordinarily associate with urban environments and neon lights, putting it instead in the broad light of day, in the middle of a field, under a winking star. We are used to hearing this kind of music in clubs, or, increasingly, in spaces devoted to the development and production of experimental music. This is because somehow incorporated into the broad church that we call electronic music can be almost any kind of experimentation with sound or multimedia, with technology and the integration of old and new, classic and avant garde, so that a harpist whose performance is made also of the unpredictability of an interactive video accompaniment belongs as much to this category as a regular DJ playing 4/4 beats at 180 BPM. Or whatever it is that they do.

Here at The Blogazine we have found a few festivals which use this sense of displacement in the genre of electronic music to its best effect, by taking the audience outside of the normal club environment and by twisting and turning our expectations of the genre, combining music with new media, using new technologies to develop new sounds, or by simply using a variety of electronic equipment, which most musicians do. The digital era brings many new iterations of the music festival because it has both increased the rate of experimentation with new technology and also to some extent made people cherish these rare opportunities to hop off the internet and find one another.

Dekmantel , Amsterdam Amsterdamse Bos, Netherlands, 01\08\2014 – 03\08\2014
Dutch electronic music festival now in its second year which will feature Joy Orbison, Blawan & Surgeon, Robert Hood, Shackleton, 3 Chairs, Mount Kimbie, Daphni,, Plaid, Mortiz von Oswald Trio featuring Max Loderbauer & Tony Allen, Hessle Audio label showcase with Ben UFO, Pangaea and Pearson Sound and more.

Strøm, Copenhagen various venues, Denmark, 11\08\2014 – 17\08\2014
An electronic music festival in Copenhagen, Denmark, with shows and workshops by artists such as Copeland, Cooly G, Bonobo, Derrick May, Holly Herndon, Kuedo, John Talabot, Caspa and more.

Nonesuch Records At BAM: Celebrating A Label Without Label, New York Brooklyn Academy Of Music, United States, 09\09\2014 – 28\09\2014
As part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival, a series of performances to celebrate 50 years of the label. The programme includes The Philip Glass Ensemble & Steve Reich And Musicians, Alarm Will Sound, Youssou N’Dour, Devendra Banhart, Stephin Merritt, Iron And Wine, Kronos Quartet, Landfall by Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet (23–27), Rokia Traoré, Toumani and Sidiki Diabaté, Caetano Veloso, Robert Plant And The Sensational Space Shifters and more.

Bozar Electronic Arts Festival, Brussels Palais Des Beaux-Arts Bozar, Belgium, 25\09\2014 – 27\09\2014
Brussels’ famed electronic and new music festival this year with Ben Frost, Nils Frahm, Kiasmos, Robert Henke, Tim Hecker, Young Echo, Powell, Thomas Ankersmit & Phill Niblock, Lumisokea, installations by Felix Luque Sanches, Quayola, Luc Deleu and more.

New Forms Festival, Vancouver Science World, Canada, 18\09\2014 – 21\09\2014
Digital music and art festival with performances by Murcof & Anti VJ, Helena Hauff, Inga Copeland, Hieroglyphic Being, Oneohtrix Point Never, Morton Subotnick, Scratcha DVA, Visionist, Bochum Welt, works, lectures and screenings by Lis Rhodes, Kevin Beasley and more.

Phono Festival, Odense, Various venues, Denmark, 10\09\2014 – 14\09\2014
Electronic music festival on the island of Funen in Denmark with Holly Herndon, NHK’Koyxen, Stellar Om Source, Roly Porter performing Life Cycle Of A Massive Star, Bass Clef, Torn Hawk & Karen Gwyer, Basic House, Wanda Group and more.

Fort Process , Newhaven Newhaven Fort, United Kingdom, 13\09\2014
Sound art and contemporary music one dayer with installations, talks, performances and more with Peter Brötzmann & Steve Noble, John Butcher, Max Eastley, Thomas Köner, Zimoun, The Artaud Beats, Sarah Angliss, Michael Finnissy, Poulomi Dessai, Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides, Philippe Petit and more.

Philippa Nicole Barr 
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Fashion East: Nurturing Young Talents

For some time now, cult fashion events have been happening far from the posh streets of Paris. Despite the strength and influence of established fashion routes, the discipline is seeking other venues and means of promoting young creative production. What better place than London, then, to build an innovative fashion culture.

Fashion East is a London-based non-profit institution that has become a beacon for young designers today. The organization was founded in 2000 by Truman Brewery with the aim of bringing forth and encouraging young designers who were just starting out, with the aid of Topshop, TOPMAN and the Greater London Authority. In 2005 Fashion East founded MAN meant to work as a menswear equivalent of the initial Fashion East. Each season three womenswear as well as three menswear designers are selected and given the opportunity to present a collection to the press during London Fashion Week. Designers are selected by Lulu Kennedy and a panel of fashion experts, and are provided venue, show production and mentoring.

Fashion East has become recognized for spotting talent and former designers include Craig Green, Lee Roach and Matthew Miller, while this year’s choice of Edward Marler was highly praised from the fashion world. His graduate collection from the Central Saint Martins was a homage to every girl and boy who ever dreamed of being a royal. Grand head attires shaped as crowns and luxurious materials were used in an ostentatious yet intriguing way, building hype and creating a definite expectation for his next work. Marler will join fellow designers Helen Lawrence and Louise Alsop, who are presenting second time around, for this year’s runway show. Establishments like Fashion East are important to keep the essence of fashion alive: by introducing someone new to the scene it adds to the dialogue of fashion, keeping it alive, fresh and critically engaged.

Victoria Edman 
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Through the Lens of Salemm

Images courtesy of Salemm 
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Melitta Baumeister – Casting Fashion

Originally from Germany, the young fashion designer Melitta Baumeister is now based in New York from where she is currently running her own brand. She recently received a MFA degree in Fashion Design and Society at Parsons – The New School For Design, and her Fall/ Winter 2014 capsule collection was presented by VFILES during New York Fashion Week. Her unique and innovative clothes made of uncommon materials like silicon, have been met with great critic acclaim, while trendsetting stars like Rihanna and Lady Gaga have embraced their highly artificial and futuristic appeal.

Melitta Baumeister merges fashion, objects, sculpture and installation in her work – influences and perspectives which are constantly present in her design. Her approach is to focus on different ways of looking at fashion, and try to push the ideas of what fashion may look like in the future – by using new materials and new manufacturing methods. For her latest collection the young designer wanted to explore the possibilities of tomorrow and combine that aim with the process of casted garments, the absence of color and the notion hyperreality. She has chosen to work with casted garments which get their shape of the mold they are cast into. The specific technique of casting a garment is based on the many layers of silicon which embodies the shape of the mold, a technique Melitta Beaumeister describes as something which is in process, alive and in an ongoing state, where she captures a certain moment of this process.The mold makes it capable of endless repetition, something she considers both a metaphor for the repetitiveness of the fashion industry as well as one of its possible futures.

Hanna Cronsjö 
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Exemplary: 150 Years of the MAK

Biedermeier, Thonet, Wiener Werkstätte: all these iconic styles and objects have a common house in Wien. The name of their prestigious dwelling is MAK, an acronym for Museum für angewandte Kunst, which happens to be not only the local museum for applied arts, but also a worldwide leading institution in the field of design conservation and curatorship.

Founded in 1864, at a time when emperor Franz Joseph was about to guide vast portion of Europe under domain of the Hapsburg realm, the museum hosts one of the major worldwide collections of furniture and housewares, spanning from the Middle Ages to present, including art works from prominent artists like Donald Judd, James Turrell, Gordon Matta-Clark, not to mention Frank West’s celebrated twelve sofas.Nevertheless, we would be way off if we considered MAK as an institution that is mainly devoted to the preservation of its huge heritage. Since the arrival in 1986 of its penultimate curator, legendary Peter Noever, the museum has extended its mission to analysis of contemporary issues that interconnect design and art through a common Weltanschauung.

In this spirit, the exhibition “Exemplary: 150 Years of the MAK” – now on show for the museum’s anniversary celebration – is seen as a privileged means to explore the dynamics that are influencing design mid term scenarios. According to curators Tulga Beyerle and Thomas Geisler, the exhibition looks for a possible answer to an apparently simple question: “Who or what was exemplary in the past, and where can we find (role) models today?”. Nine leading intellectuals, chosen among designers, curators, and trend-setters (Jan Boelen, Dunne & Raby, Stefan Sagmeister, Lidewij Edelkoort, Konstantin Grcic, Gesche Joost, Sabine Seymour, Hilary Cottam, Hans Ulrich Obrist) have been called to offer their point of view by establishing a dialogue between the museum’s collection and their visions.

The result is unstable and unpredictable, as these types of speculative enquiries should always be. While Konstantin Grcic puts on display his own “cosmos of the exemplary”, including Philippe Starck’s Jim Nature television and Jasper Morrison’s Plywood Chair, Fiona Raby and Tony Dunne choose a radically different approach, and thus present a selection of consultation texts on science fiction and social fiction by critics Edward Bellamy and Margaret Atwood. Finally, these examples seem to demonstrate a double law: if innovation in design is better expressed by a subjective, qualitative research, museums – no matter if ancient or contemporary – should be more and more committed to encouraging the expression of these voices.

Giulia Zappa 
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Style Suggestions: Poolside

Relax next to the pool this summer carrying only the essentials. Here are some of our suggestions to maximise your summer season.

Baseball Cap: Kenzo, Flip-flops: Havaianas, Sunglasses: Mykita, Swim Shorts: Orlebar Brown

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

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Guest Interview n°56: Stefano Cumia

The Blogazine met Stefano Cumia (b. 1980, Palermo), one of the most engaging and sophisticated Italian artists of the latest generations, who spoke with us about his artistic path and the reasons behind the new, challenging phase of his career, marked by “SCP 14”, the solo show curated by Helga Marsala currently on view at Rizzuto Gallery in Palermo.

First of all, could you tell us something about your background? When did you understand that being an artist would have been more than a status for you?
The personal story of an artist, the background, is everything people can know about him. People think they know who you are and what you do because they assume they know your roots and, whatever happens, there’s no way of changing their mind about you. Personally I prefer the freedom of leaving things open, nothing has to be taken for granted and nothing is an absolute certainty.

Your artistic path has mainly been characterized by figuration up to this exhibition, which represents and important turning point in your work, what are the reasons that made you change direction?
At the basis of SCP 14 lies the necessity to never give up on changing the internal, commonly accepted, order about the painting matter. It’s a way of reorganizing its syntax through a series of micro-tactical procedures focused on elements that form the object-canvas, making the painting implode, concentrating or pushing it to the edge. Consequently, narrations, evocative titles, iconographic references etc. are dimmed and trapped between the layers to give place to a summary work, an analysis aiming at the painting in itself.

In the collective imagination, painting is associated with the canvas hung on the wall, but during the years we’ve seen the development of an installative painting, which avails itself of devices that alter its perception and fruition (paintings laid on the floor, use of clamps etc.) What do you think about this approach that considers painting as installation?
Despite the collective imagination of painting being attached to the idea of a depicted surface, rectangular in shape and middle-small in size hung on the wall, we have to acknowledge that installative painting has somehow always existed. Just think about the polyptych created by Grunewald for the altar of Isenheim, it’s made of mobile and fixed shutters that change the appearance of the painting each time. Or again, without going too far in the past, look at “Plurimi” by Vedova, the “Cave of antimatter” of Pinot Gallizio, or the work by Kippenberger who took a monochrome by Richter and turned it into a coffee table using a wood-and-metal structure that changes its perception and fruition. I think it’s stupid to consider the segmentation of painting beyond its rectangular boundaries as a pleonasm.

What process lead the creation of the shapes characterizing your latest series of works?
After getting a track from the structure support and delimiting a field of action, I went on to overlap and interchange layers in succession, which ended up connecting and interacting one with another, amounting to these shapes.

Even if apparently the lines of your work seem to be perfect reiterations, they hide faint imperfections and deep differences in the brush strokes and colour intensity. What do these ‘bugs’ represent for you?
Lines are vectors that mark perimeters and cross the layers, which try to capture and hold everything close by them. The speed of lines’ flow determines phenomenon of viscosity or, vice versa, of precipitation and breakage that determine these ‘bugs’, which represent ‘quid’ to me.

Why did you choose to insert pieces of glass and other materials into your works? Is this a homage to informal art?
Actually no, it is not a homage to informal art, I just follow a scheme. The insertion of well-broken glass and other materials is functional and related to a matter of capture and stratification. Adding smashed glass to colour, for instance, helps me to thicken the mixture, making it more viscous, damming pigments and allowing the medium contained in them to split from the rest and overstep the perimeter’s shapes. This capture process enabled the pictorial substances to invade the knits of the bare canvas, stressing the parergon of the framework.

If you should select an artwork and/or an artist, who influenced or struck you in a particular way…
I’m afraid I cannot do it, I always try to screen everything.

…and a place, which inspires you and/or where you would love to live?
Places make no difference, I don’t care, the most important thing is feeling good wherever you are.

Interview by Monica Lombardi 
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An Excuse For Curiosity: Music Festivals

The music festival is many things, but for many people it is an excuse. Whether it is an excuse for excluding reality from your life, for acting up, for making new friends and sourcing new music, depends on the type of event that attracts you. Ovid tells a story which explains its historical status. After a great flood, earth was very fertile and bore a mutant snake the likes of which were unknown and terrifying for all people. After an exhausting battle it was killed by Apollo, though it required almost all his ammunition, every arrow. He was so proud of his accomplishment he created the Pythian games as a memento – an event which is said to have been the origin of both the contemporary music festival and other sporting events. The festival retained its competitive edge throughout the Middle Ages, and often became repetitious, annual event. Important to note is their basis as a reason to take a break from the everyday and celebrate the Gods. Or so it is said. It certainly depends on the festival, of which there are so many kinds: small and experimental, romantic, energetic, distant, in an exotic locale, hot and sweaty, sexy, young, sophisticated, wild or commercial. Some are very large, like Roskilde Festival in Denmark which has approximately 135,000 visitors, or Glastonbury which counts around 175,000. We have chosen a few that may or may not be on your direct radar, but which are providing the world with decently curated, interesting contemporary music in spicy locals and novel venues. They are using the music festival as an excuse to show you something different about the world, and may in fact be the perfect discovery for one of you this summer.

All Tomorrow’s Parties, Jabberwocky 2014, London ExCeL, 15/08/2014 – 16/08/2014

Staged by an organisation based in London that has been promoting festivals, concerts and records throughout the world for over ten years, and founded by Barry Hogan in 1999, All Tomorrow’s Parties is renowned for its famous curators and consistently diverse locations as well as its conscientious effort to avoid commercialisation. While based in London and organised by a stable team, the group is constantly collaborating with a diverse array of curators including TV On The Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National, The Drones, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Sonic Youth and Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening – to name a few. Their next event is Jabberwocky, a festival staged in London which will feature Sun Kil Moon, Thee Oh Sees, Eaux, and Caribou.

Off Festival, Katowice Various venues, Poland, 01/08/2014 – 03/08/2014

Polish festival features three days of noise, post-rock, electronics, featuring Wolf Eyes, Bo Ningen, Earth, Evan Ziporyn, Fuck Buttons, Glenn Branca, Jerusalem In My Heart, John Wizards, Loop, 65daysofstatic, Mark Ernestus’s Jeri Jeri, Amen Dunes, Michael Rother performing the music of Neu! and Harmonia, Nisennenmondai, The Notwist, Ron Morelli, and Svengalisghost.

Flow Festival, Helsinki Suvilahti, Finland, 08/08/2014 – 10/08/2014

Annual Finnish festival taking place in a disused power plant area, with Bonobo, Darkside, Tinariwen, Neneh Cherry & Rocketnumbernine, Bill Callahan, Les Ambassadeurs featuring Salif Keita, Amadou Bagayoko and Cheick Tidiane Seck, Marissa Nadler, James Holden, I-F, Ron Morelli, Ceephax Acid Crew, Illum Sphere, and Mark Ernestus’s Jeri Jeri, Machinedrum.

Ultima, Oslo Various venues, Norway, 10/09/2014 – 20/09/2014

Contemporary music festival, this year themed around the idea of nationhood. With performances by Jenny Hval & Susanna, David Brynjar Franzson, Simon Steen-Andersen, Johannes Kreidler, Eivind Buene, Arve Henriksen & Eirik Raude, Maja Ratkje, Lisa Lim, Mauricio Kagel’s Exotica, Ben Frost, EMS’s 50th anniversary events. Plus talks by Laibach, Antonio Negri, and Alain Badiou.

Philippa Nicole Barr 
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Museum der Dinge, A Libertarian Parable

How should we “awaken the gods that sleep in museums”, wonders Antonin Artaud. The question is still a living matter in the design field: we have come to a point when we take for granted the need to preserve our industrial production, but we are still uncertain about the museographical model that best suits this particular type of heritage. The Museum der Dinge in Berlin hasn’t hesitated to tune its own concept. Opened in its current location – the multicultural Oranienstrasse in the very heart of Kreuzberg – in 2007, the museum boasts a collection of more than 20.000 objects showing the evolution of material culture in the course of 20th century. The core of its rich set is the archive of the Deutscher Werkbund, the glorious German institution founded in 1907 that, according to the spirit of the time, was meant to favour the fusion between applied arts and mass manufacturing.

Nevertheless, the curatorial vision that distinguishes the museum doesn’t cling on the beautiful legacy that best embodies the quintessence of the German way in domestic design – that is to say the idea of a product as a “silent servant”, a discreet yet performative tool accompanying everyday life with a compliant and shy touch. Instead, it has found the courage to enlarge its boundaries to all plebeian objects that, beyond the strict requirements of functionality, often support the symbolic sphere of our domestic landscape and contribute to strengthen our sense of identity.

Thus, it’s through a process of accumulation that Museum der Dinge displays its anonymous yet familiar crowd of things. The idea to cage objects into a case, as if we were in front of an antiquated anthropology museum, is intriguing: squeezed into congested yet eye candy cabinets, organized in categories running among the others from “packaging” to “housewares” to “early plastic” to “imitations and quotations”, the collection finds an engaging balance through the juxtaposition of its diverse elements.

Can good form go along with kitsch? By all means, if everybody respects the same sense of integrity and respect for the other. This liberal parable, which also reminds us of Alessandro Mendini’s «Quali cose siamo» exhibition at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan in 2010, seems to confirm the virtuous potential of mix matching, and perfectly reflects the spirit of the city where it is based.

Giulia Zappa – Images courtesy of Florian Hardwig 
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What Has Beene Done: Revising Geoffrey Beene

In today’s fashion, the cult of personality is of utmost importance. We are used to relating the name of a brand to that of a precise designer, always waiting for the next shift, the next reshuffling of fashion teams. To some extent, we have actually become spectators more than involved consumers, looking at fashion as a stage on which designers move, carefully playing their designater roles. In this context, the peculiar story of Geoffrey Beene has the shape of a paradox. Beene was among the first to openly advocate for individual identities of designers to be recognized, beyond the limits and restrictions imposed by the industry. Nowadays only a few, even among fashion students and industry professionals, are fully aware of the work of a man who dared to put his name – rather than that of a company – on the labels of his creations, sold in an eponymous boutique on the Seventh Avenue in New York. It happened in 1963, in a decade fraught with change and innovation: a golden age of individuality, personalities and character destined to stand out and make a difference.

Geoffrey Beene was, of course, one of these incredible personalities. His work must be noted for its capability of fusing together thoughts and reflections on different spheres of the fashion system, defending the autonomy and supremacy of creativity and originality. It could be that his short-lived experience as a medicine student, promptly abandoned to pursue a career in fashion, sparked an interest in the female body. Strongly interested in its curves and lines, Beene shared the same analytical vision of anatomy with his contemporary Charles James. His designs took into consideration the needs and desires of women who, after becoming Beene’s customers, were totally devoted to his vision: sometimes irreverent, other times extremely elegant, Beene brought pret-a-porter on the same level of couture for both structure and significance. “Design is a revelation to me. It’s like taking something that is not alive and giving it form, shape, substance, and life,” he used to say. Beene’s revelation was supported by hard work on unusual fabrics, always looking for new ways to break into a consolidated language with measured grafts, precisely thought to fit into a pre-existent discourse. He was the first to bring jersey and other ‘poor’ materials to the ballroom, minimising seams and cuts to “let the fabric move and flow”. This was just one of many ways for stating, again and again, that the value of a design is not just in the preciousness of materials and fabrics, but in the ability and wit of who is capable of taming its intrinsic characteristics, subduing it to his will.

A trailblazer, Beene was sure of his abilities and completely into each of his designs, which he followed from conception to production and retail. Beene tried to protect his work in every way, pointing out that what was to be protected was first of all the identity of the person behind (and inside) the clothes. The dignity of his designs was considered a value to be shared with the consumer who felt part of a wider project, as if initiated to a new philosophy. His admirers are numerous, and his legacy counts, among the others, the names of Issey Miyake and, above all, Alber Elbaz who worked in tight contact with Beene for many years. “He taught me everything”, Elbaz points out, showing that Geoffrey Beene was a protector and could still be a teacher whose lessons should be taken out of the shade of history to serve as precious tools for reading the contemporary.

Marta Franceschini 
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