Based on first impressions, a performance by St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) in the cozy surroundings of a little bookstore would appear to be a delightful in-store event. Not so if the bookstore in question is Women For Women First and is under the managerial skills of feminists Toni and Candace, the fictional characters created by ThunderAnt comedy duo Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. Throughout her music video, poor St. Vincent is subjected to the kooky, disparaging, and just plain overbearing antics of Toni and Candace as she performs “Laughing with a Mouth of Blood”, the third single from Actor. And, really, it’s a wonder that they have let her play at all given their aversion to the majority of musical genres: “I don’t want to play anything that would be offensive to somebody or make somebody feel like they’re having sex.” It makes for a most charming and silly (in a good way) video collaboration for a gorgeous song.
Last weekend (I think) I was in Skylight Books, as is usual for me to do on my weekends, and while browsing the comics and graphic novels I came across this book called Asterios Polyp. The name immediately struck me because it was suggested to me by a reader who wanted to help me out named Rhea Rivera. There’s also the vibrant as all hell cover, as well as who the author/illustrator is, a Mr. David Mazzucchelli.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with comic books, Mr. Mazzucchelli was the artist behind Frank Miller’s amazing Batman: Year One storyline as well as illustrating Daredevil which Frank Miller was also writing for a time. The thing is, this was all happening way back in the mid to late 80′s. David Mazzucchelli is something of legend when it comes to comic books, but here he is now in 2010, finally releasing his very first graphic novel.
The story is centered around a man named Asterios Polyp, who when we first come upon him you can clearly see that his life, which is filled with designer furniture signifying he has wealth, has somehow fallen apart. Suddenly, lightning strikes the generators outside of his apartments, setting fire to the building until eventually it’s all gone. And that’s where we start, on a voyage with Asterios as he tries to put himself back together while seeing how he got so very low.
The book is exquisitely drawn and designed, it’s hard to even describe how brilliant this book is. The style is nothing like his old comic work, it’s much more stylized like an Italian or French comic book. It’s a simple style that allows the story to dominate the pages, while at other times the art completely shifts tone, illustrating a plot point with a visual punch.
I also thought I’d include these images of the endpapers, which I thought were quite wonderful. Once you read the story you’ll understand the significance of flowers, but it’s subtle touches like this that really make this story so wonderful.
Do yourself a favor and buy this book now.
Last night I had the opportunity to see the U.S. premiere of the new Banksy film Exit Through The Gift Shop and I have to say that I loved it.
The story is about a French guy living in Los Angeles named Thierry Guetta who started documenting the street art scene in the late 90′s thanks to his cousin, whom you may know as Space Invader. Eventually he was hanging out with all the big guns like Shepard Fairey, Swoon, Ron English, Buff Monster, so on and so forth. But the one guy he couldn’t get a hold of was Banksy, and it became his goal to document him. Soon enough that time came and they did get acquainted, and what’s more, became friends.
Then one day Banksy mentions to Thierry that he should start making his own art and leave his tapes with Banksy. He did both of these things, which is where this movie came from, but Thierry also ended up creating the alter ego Mr. Brainwash. Here in Los Angeles the Mr. Brainwash show was hyped immensely, people lining up around the block to see it. That’s sort of the whole point of the movie, that this guy who documented these amazing artists for years, who never did art himself, was suddenly selling millions of dollars worth of “art” without ever having done anything really.
To me the movie is split into two acts, the first half is about Thierry, a documentarian who’s footage rivals that of Beautiful Losers, it’s that epic. But then in the second act, because of Banksy’s suggestion, Thierry creates Mr. Brainwash and thus becomes obsessed with himself, no longer concerned with documenting these artists. He starts ripping off basically every major street and pop artist of the last 30 years and puts a huge price tag on all of it. I feel this strategy differs from Banksy because Banksy makes art that’s his based on his point of view, while Mr. Brainwash created art to make money, refinancing his house and spending all his money to make his show happen.
The premiere itself was quite fun and interesting. For example, Banksy paid for the whole thing himself, all the booze, the cars out front, the space, there was no branding anywhere. The celebrities were out in force as well, including Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Pete Wentz, Ashley Simpson, Darryl Hannah, Juliette Lewis and Adrian Brody. I also saw James Mercer and Danger Mouse, the latter I had a very brief conversation with but he was very friendly, so that was fun.
If you have the chance to see this film I’d definitely suggest it. If you understand the street art scene, and I apologize for using a generic and possibly elitist phrase, then you’ll understand why this movie is important, especially in the context of “What is art?”. My favorite line of the movie was something to the effect of, “The joke is on… well, I don’t know who the joke is on. I don’t even know if there is a joke.”
More photos under the cut.
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Spencer Murphy is a British photographer with a knack for color and mood. These kinds of photographers are my favorite because I think they show a more fantastic side to photography. Sure, that just might be a group of kids on a piece of ice, or a random dude in an old house, but I feel like you can interpret so much more of a story with his photos. Plus I can’t get over the color of these, like the pink in the sky of the second one and the greens in the last one. I had to post the top photo cuz’ I can’t resist a little foxy friend.
In other projector-related news, The Walker Art Center has a flickr site, where I came across the above images. It’s a clever way to capture the image and the image-maker at the same time, and reminds me of old Polaroid photos of myself, age 7, proudly holding up loose assemblages of construction paper and glitter. More to the point of a “Landscape Re-Mix Art Lab,” the images, above, remind me of Yves Brunier, a French Landscape Architect whose career was cut short by AIDS.
If your high school math teachers were anything like mine, they sat behind a projector and worked equations until their hands turned the same color blue as the Vis-A-Vis markers they used. But the projectors never rolled their way into any classes where the projector itself could demonstrate the phenomena we were studying, and we never were permitted to “play” with the projector. But some kids in Minnesota are inadvertently learning about additive versus subtractive color, opacity, gestural lines and, oh yeah, landscape design.