“The word Liebe, soaring from a Goethe standard, was no longer worth a whore’s kiss. Spring, moonlight, roses, girl, darlings, heart, May: such was the miserably devaluated currency dealt in by the authors of all those tangoes, waltzes and fox-trots which advocated the private escape. Find the dear little sweetheart, they advised, and forget the slump, ignore the unemployed. Fly they urged us, to Hawaii, to Naples, to the Never-Never-Vienna.”
— Christopher Isherwood (from Mr. Norris Changes Trains)
It’s hard to convey how depressing Dublin was after the financial crisis, it was like the air escaping from a balloon, everything went from breakneck (and often naive) optimism to a slump shouldered depression and with it went peoples sense of pride and confidence.
In 2009 the Irish street artist/typographer Maser teamed up with songwriter Damien Dempsey for a project that responded to this gloom and involved applying Dempsey’s words to enormous murals inspired by vintage sign painting and the classic ‘Guinness Is Good For You’ advertisements. I can recall seeing them as they went up little by little and feeling that this was the real thing, a fitting response to the greed, dissillusionment and heartbreak of the crash, as a huge mural painted on an unused building site that followed the bus route to the airport declared:
“GREED IS THE KNIFE AND THE CUTS RUN DEEP”
Fittingly though, there was also messages of love to the city, declarations of ’ IM A HOMEBIRD’ and lines of poetry praising the river Liffey that runs through Dublin, an appropriate mix of defiance, regret & anger.
I love the consistently great artwork of KOMPAKT records pop ambient compilation series, the hyper real flower photos and simple, almost dated look of the text (that has an air of post-punk austerity) makes them a perfect accompaniment for the music within: the best of the years ambient soundscapes.
Jean Giraud aka Moebius RIP: I just found out the legendary french comic artist and writer Moebius passed away on the 10th, an enormous influence on the science fiction imagery (inspiring among others: Hayao Miyazaki, George Lucas, Ridley Scott and Luc Besson) that fired up my imagination and invigorated my childhood.
When the jazz pianist Bill Evans was interviewed on Finnish television in 1970, one of the interviewers asked how he felt about the avant-guarde movement that was becoming popular in jazz at the time, especially it’s ‘expressiveness’, his answer was profound and one that would readily apply to almost any kind of art:
‘we need some sort of guiding aesthetic for ourselves, when an infant is crying in his crib, no one would deny that he’s expressing himself but I doubt we would call it art’
To some extent thats how I feel about the NSFW type blogs that manage to be enourmously popular on tumblr, it’s not the content that bothers me, Nudes are great and I understand the impact they can have, I understand the place they have in art history and I get that theres room for a subtle eroticism out there too but what bothers me is the lack of content.
I think the root of this ‘aesthetic’ is possibly in people like Sam Haskins (who created the leggy curly haired B/W photo of the woman above in his Posters book c.1972) or even Helmut Newtons super-women (though the amazon style strength they exude is a long way from the junked out waifishness potrayed in many of the photos I’m talking about), with the sort of ‘Glamour Pin-Up’ style that went through Richard Kern & Terry Richardson and became this shitty, boring, self indulgent nothingness.
Nudes should have intent, say something about the artist, or the person or place they were taken or mabye just be a composition pure and simple that has good curves and lighting and framing and this sub-Richardson stuff that clogs tumblr seems devoid of any of the above.
I guess what really bothers me is that I hate these Guardian or NYT articles that seem to come out every 6 months decrying the hipster generation for it’s craven commercialism and shallow worship of image over authenticity but the insatiable fondness for glossy art porn is pretty much all those things they say we are.
I wish their was more of a willingness to be like Diane Arbus with the jarring weirdness of her naked waitress or the raw social documentary of Mikhailov’s homeless nude potraits or Jacob Holdt’s ‘American Pictures’ , or simply attempt the expression, humor, and mastery of composition of people like Ryan McGinley. (all sampled in the nudes above)