Weekend links 310

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Parkland (2012) by Dean Monogenis.

• “The Story Behind the Planet’s Most Influential Road Map of ‘Weird Music’“. Gustavo Turner investigates the enduring influence of The Nurse With Wound List. Related: A Discogs list of links to all the NWWL discographies, and a recommended listening guide by Ultima Thule.

Tokyo Melody: Un film sur Ryuichi Sakamoto (1985) by Elizabeth Lennard features Sakamoto at work on Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia, together with Akiko Yano, Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi.

• “We wanted to fuse the aesthetics, histories and values of witchcraft, the traditional ideas with a contemporary edge,” says editor and creative director of Sabat magazine, Elisabeth Krohn.

There is a very seductive and very dangerous demon: the demon of generalities. He captivates man’s thought by marking every phenomenon with a little label, and punctiliously placing it together with another, similarly carefully wrapped and numbered phenomenon. Through him a field of human knowledge as changeable as history is turned into a neat little office, where this many wars and that many revolutions sleep in folders – and where we can pore over bygone ages in complete comfort. This demon is fond of words such as “idea”, “tendency”, “influence”, “period”, and “era”. In the historian’s study this demon reductively combines in hindsight the phenomena, influences and tendencies of past ages. With this demon comes appalling tedium – the knowledge (utterly mistaken, by the way) that, however humanity plays its hand or fights back, it follows an implacable course. This demon should be feared. He is a fraud. He is a salesman of centuries, pushing his historical price list.

Vladimir Nabokov in a previously unpublished lecture, On Generalities

• More Tom Phillips: 20 Sites n Years, a film by Jake Auerbach & David Thorp about the artist’s long-term urban photography project, is showing at Camberwell College of Arts next month.

• Mixes of the week: Sass In Pocket by Abigail Ward, Near Mint, 17th May 2016 by Robin the Fog & Hannah Brown, and Secret Thirteen Mix 184 by Andi Stecher.

• Grey Dog Tales talks to Brian J Showers of Swan River Press about horror and supernatural fiction.

• “Magic mushrooms lift severe depression in clinical trial.” But their use is still illegal in the UK.

• “Your brain does not process information, and it is not a computer,” says Robert Epstein.

Cliff Martinez’s theme for Nicolas Winding Refn’s forthcoming The Neon Demon.

Diamanda Galás, Still Wild and Primal, Returns to the New York Stage.

Janae Corrado on the photography of Joel-Peter Witkin.

Alastair Gee on gay home movies from the 1940s on.

People Laugh At Me (Coz I Like Weird Music) (1980) by The Instant Automatons | Weird Caravan (1980) by Klaus Schulze | Call It Weird (1983) by Xymox

Fetish photographer Rick Castro

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Photographs by Rick Castro.

Presenting another guest post from John Wisniewski who back in May contributed an interview with William E. Jones about gay film director Fred Halsted. The subject this time is Rick Castro, pioneering bondage/S&M photographer, and also the proprietor of the Antebellum Gallery in Los Angeles which bills itself as the only fetish gallery in America. Castro has worked with Joel-Peter Witkin and Bruce LaBruce, and also photographed subjects as diverse as the Dalai Lama and Kenneth Anger, neither of them in bondage, unfortunately. As before, John offers a list of ten questions. Read on to discover why hustlers always used to wear white jeans (I have wondered about this)…

* * *

John Wisniewski: When did you begin photographing?

Rick Castro: 1986…around June…. My first photo was of my longtime friend (and former GF!), Odessa. I was a wardrobe stylist at the time, so I dressed her like Morticia Addams. Very high contrast/high shadowed B&W.

My second photo was of Tony Ward. I cast him for his first “mainstream” photo shoot. Editorial for a now defunct men’s magazine, INSTYLE, (published by porn mag IN TOUCH). We were working for photographer Albert Sanchez at the time. Between takes I’d dressed him up in full leather fantasy—leather hood, harness, gauntlets, codpiece, boots and horsetail!

JW: Whom are some of your influences in photography and art?

RC: I like the dead guys: Brassai, Pierre Moliner, F. Holland Day, Julia Margaret Cameron, Otto Dix, Paul Cadmus, Egon Schiele, Tennessee Williams, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Gilles De Rais.

JW: When did you meet fellow photographer Joel-Peter Witkin?

RC: Also during 1986, I bought Joel’s first book. At the back of the book was a request: “I am looking for people with physical deformations, amputees. Quadriplegics, burn victims, persons into extreme S&M, a woman with three breasts, geeks, pinheads, a woman with severe skin disease that will pose in an evening gown, anyone bearing the wounds of Christ, Christ.”

Later that year the new annex of Book Soup on Sunset Blvd hosted the first LA photo exhibit for Joel. I attended, introduced myself and gave him a stack of photos I had taken of my potential “models.” He called me the next morning. From then I worked with Joel on 13 of his most iconic photographs as a wardrobe stylist, costume designer, location scout, model scout, casting director, photo assistant, art director, make up artist and all around assistant.

Continue reading “Fetish photographer Rick Castro”

Witkinesque

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Arriving in the post this week, a Christmas gift from Supervert, a chapbook featuring a new piece of writing that purports to be the unauthorised biography of American artist/photographer Joel-Peter Witkin. The premise is that the facts of the real Witkin’s life are far too mundane to account for his extraordinary photo tableaux so Supervert supplies details such as “Mary Witkin [his mother] worked as a bookkeeper in a DDT plant, slowly saving to enrich the unfathomable reservoirs of the absurd.” A metaphysical portrait of the artist, then, with echoes of David Lynch or Bruno Schulz. Inside the chapbook was a promo postcard bearing pictures of the delightful Ms. Stoya whose reading of Necrophilia Variations has now gained over four million YouTube views.

The Witkin book isn’t for sale but copies are available to those who enter the Supervert contest which is running throughout December. All you need do is enter an email address here then keep your fingers crossed.

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Sanitarium, New Mexico (1983) by Joel-Peter Witkin.

Witkin’s tableaux made an immediate impression circa 1993 when I bought a copy of PhotoVision, a Spanish photography journal which had devoted an entire issue to his work. This arrived at a point when I was halfway through drawing the Reverbstorm comic series, and Witkin’s parade of unorthodox humanity, crucified apes and sundry body parts seemed an ideal complement for the parade of similar grotesqueries (and sundry body parts) we were putting into the comic pages. I also liked the way Witkin worked his own variation on familiar scenes from art history, something we were doing throughout Reverbstorm (Witkin’s Vase: Study For the Base of the Crucifix just happens to combine a partly dissected human skull with Picasso’s Guernica, a recurrent motif throughout the series).

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Above and below, some of the more Witkinesque details from part seven of Reverbstorm. The main figure above was a direct reference to Witkin’s Sanitarium, New Mexico. Many figures in other drawings are given Witkin-like blindfolds.

Continue reading “Witkinesque”

The Metamorphoses of Don José

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Las Meninas (1656) by Diego Velázquez.

The sight of one of Picasso’s many versions of Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour) by Velázquez earlier this week prompts this post. An endlessly fascinating painting whose influence runs through three hundred years of art history. That influence isn’t so surprising if you consider this as a painter’s painting; it certainly never seems to figure in the canon of favourite works among the wider public. But artists are beguiled by the games it plays with our ways of seeing: a self-portrait of the artist painting a subject (the royal couple) standing where the viewer would be, with the couple seen in reflection in the mirror on the back wall. We are the watchers and the watched. Wikimedia Commons has a decently large copy of the painting.

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I’ve long been fascinated by the detail of the queen’s chamberlain, Don José Nieto Velázquez, standing on the steps at the back of the picture. Lines of perspective draw our attention to his figure, not only the perspective of the room but also the line which can be drawn across the heads of the three figures in the foreground right. I always look to see how Don José is treated in subsequent variations, some of which appear below.

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Las Meninas, after Velázquez (c. 1778) by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes.

One of the commonplaces of contemporary art is artworks about other artworks. Goya’s etching shows that this idea is by no means a new one. Goya was apparently dissatisfied with his attempt, and its main interest is the degree to which he distorts various parts of the picture.

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The Facts in the Case of M Valdemar (1919) by Harry Clarke.

Harry Clarke scholar Nicola Gordon Bowe proposed in The Life and Work of Harry Clarke (1989) that the figure in the background of this Poe illustration was a version of Don José. Clarke’s picture also has a similar grouping of foreground figures which adds to the speculation. The division of space in the Velázquez painting would have held considerable appeal for an artist used to dealing with similar divisions in his stained glass window designs. Will at A Journey Round My Skull recently uploaded a set of high-resolution scans of Clarke’s Poe drawings and paintings.

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Las Meninas (after Velazquez) (1957) by Pablo Picasso.

In the 1950s Picasso took to producing a series of variations on favourite paintings. There are 44 versions of Las Meninas, some more abstract than others. This one reminds me of Guernica and I like the humour of presenting Velázquez’s dog—one of the great dogs of art history—as though it’s been drawn by Nicolas Pertusato, the child who attempts to rouse the animal with his foot. Velázquez here has a head surmounting a spindly body comprised of the Order of Santiago cross.

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Las Meninas (1960) by Salvador Dalí.

Salvador Dalí venerated Velázquez and he happily quoted other artists throughout his career so it’s no surprise to find variations of Las Meninas. This wins the award for the most eccentric, with the figures reduced to numerals. Closer examination shows it to be quite clever the way each number corresponds to a different figure. The use of the number 7 for the artist and for Don José makes sense when you consider that they share the same surname. Don José turns up alone is another painting the same year, a work entitled Maelstrom: Portrait of Juan de Pareja fixing a string of his mandolin.

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Picasso’s Meninas (1973) by Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton’s aquatint is equally playful, substituting Velázquez with Picasso and his works.

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The Haunter of the Dark (1986).

I seem to have referred to my own work quite a lot recently, and here’s some more of it. The panel on the right quotes from Harry Clarke’s Poe illustration and so can be considered as continuing a trace element of the shadowy Don.

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Las Meninas (Self Portrait) (1987) by Joel-Peter Witkin.

Joel-Peter Witkin has quoted Picasso’s works frequently in his photo-tableaux so the Picasso-esque figure on the right is perhaps inevitable. Witkin also has a considerable fondness for dead things so it’s quite likely that the dog in this photograph isn’t sleeping.

I’ll be surprised if there haven’t been a lot more variations during the past twenty years. If anyone knows of any which are better than this item by Antonio Guijarro Morales, please leave a comment.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Picasso-esque
Reflections of Narcissus
My pastiches
Guernica, seventy years on
The art of Harry Clarke, 1889–1931

The art of Maleonn Ma

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Portrait of Mephisto #1 (2006).

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Portrait of Mephisto #5 (2006).

The carefully-constructed and coloured tableaux of Shanghai-based art Maleonn Ma remind me of Joel-Peter Witkin‘s grainier and nastier works only without the body parts or dead babies. The repeated use of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam in contemporary culture is a whole subject in itself.

Via Phantasmaphile.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Behold the (naked) man
Sculptural collage: Eduardo Paolozzi
Michelangelo revisited