Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shifting Perspectives. Karl Lagerfeld and his Marie Antoinette Moment.

Here is my major work for last semester - a response to a brief called Shifting Perspectives which required a little bit of activism really - art as a vehicle for persuading the audience to think differently or just creating a new awareness in your audience. My particular work , which I titled "Let Them Eat Cake"  was inspired by by a comment from Chanel fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld that went something like.... "This is how to spend your money, but spend it in style. There has never been so much money around here as there is at the moment" as he sent models down the catwalk in outfits decorated with real diamonds ("This is the time of day when you can tell the real from the fake, no?") which had me wondering at the insensitivity of a comment like that when half of Europe is beleaguered in debt crisis. And thats to say nothing of the millions in the developing world just struggling for subsistence. It put me immediately in mind of Marie Antoinette's infamously insensitive line "Let Them Eat Cake" which set me off on this path of taking a fashion magazine focused on luxury and then satirising both it's text and imagery. Fashion shoots set in a Darfur refugee camp featuring military chic for example. $48,000 Dior bags juxtaposed with sweatshop districts. You get the idea...

I've long struggled with my love of fashion from a creative point of view and it's role in allowing people to think it's okay to spend $28,000 (even $1000 really but where do you draw the line?) on a handbag when there is so much genuine need in the world so this felt very cathartic.

The historical context I positioned this work in was key. I painted Karl Lagerfeld as King Louis the XVI for the cover of my magazine (which I called RICE) because its interesting to me that we have no problem judging this historical excess (Marie Antoinette et al's lavish lifestyle as peasants starved outside the palace gates) while today priviilged pockets of society continue to live lives of obscene extravagance generally uncriticised. Maybe we are a little disgusted when we hear the details but generally we are are too busy aspiring to a bit of luxury ourselves to condemn it with any real meaning (the revolutions in history for example). And I guess that is where the magazines come in selling us this aspirational lifestyle which only makes us complicit. At least the peasants new their place in life.......As a self confessed magazine addict you can see a little of my conflicted heart in this work!

Probably the funniest part of all this work was when I presented it to a panel of art/design industry professionals. I was told later at the exhibition opening by one of the panel that as they were discussing my work and deciding my grade one of the others had said "But did you see she was wearing Prada glasses?" Oh the hypocrisy!!! Like I say, my conflicted heart...

A couple of nights before I was ready to present I was all photoshopped out and desperate to use my hands making something so I used one of the cover posters to make a basic zine which I then stitched bits of satirised text and imagery, also from the magazine, into and slipped in between the pages of the main magazine as one of those annoying extras that fall out of a magazine when you open it up . It ended up being my favourite part of the work.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Great Gatsby and Jack White.

Ever since I heard director Baz Luhrmann was remaking The Great Gatsby I've been a little bit excited. I hunted down the movie's trailer the other day and going from just this little snippet alone it seems reasonable to hope that Luhrmann has pulled off another Romeo and Juliet while avoiding another Moulin Rouge (a collossal waste of creative resources to say nothing of sequins). But at least here -as with Romeo + Juliet - Luhrmann is working with great material, F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel. I'm also hopeful for the soundtrack - again if the trailer is anything to go by. Jack white's cover of U2's Love Is Blindness looks to be a truly inspired choice, capturing the hollowed out depths of emotion and painful alienation that Gatsby's pursuit of daisy symbolises and you can catch a snippet of it in context on the trailer. I have to confess that I am slightly obsessed with this song. Not since Gotye's Somebody That I used To Know have I listened to a song over and over again for the raw emotion it savagely taps into. I've posted in the full song below to make your own mind up on!