I finally got the chance to pop into London so I made sure I visited the SHOWstudio exhibition. I wrote a blog piece about it a while back and have been intrigued by it so am glad I finally got the chance to check it out.
'Sleep' was also a good one - an example of SHOWstudio.com's live image broadcasting from 2001, it was a live feed of stills of models as they slept in hotel rooms over the length of one night. The models were styled as if going for a conventional photoshoot, but then put into a hotel room and told to sleep. Watching the videos was completely mesmerising, it looked like they were half floating, half dancing around, really feminine and quite ghostly. Watching people sleep is quite relaxing I suppose, (without sounding stalker-y) and the fact they are so made and dressed up and look so beautiful gave it a real ethereal sense to it.
I think my favourite out of the whole exhibition was 'Freedom of Love'. This was the one thing that I stood watching for ages and had me completely rooted to the spot. The concept is hard to explain but basically, it's a video of Brad Pitt, reciting the poem 'Freedom of Love' by Andre Breton, which was written about the poet's wife. Interspersed with that is footage of Pitt energetically, almost angrily, painting over a massive photo of his own face with red paint and adding captions/text in paint as well. "Dissolving between the actor's projected image, his actuality in the studio, and his self-painted image on paper, the film is a meditation on image and celebrity, and on an actor's response to the way he is seen by others." If that helps. It's fascinating though, because you really do get this sense of 'what is celebrity' and how much you can really know of someone presented to you in the media vs this really intimate portrait of a man reading a poem about the poet's wife. Interestingly is how your mind automatically thinks of Angelina Jolie though; you know Brad is an actor so could just be acting sincerity while reading it, or is he thinking of his own wife, not as a celebrity but as an actual person, while he reads the lines? A girl actually came up to me half way through and (having obviously not read the signage) asked me if he was talking about Angelina. I said no, the poem is about Breton's wife, but I guess that's the context you could take it in, after all isn't poetry supposed to be personal and supposed to be applied to you as the reader to have any kind of affinity to it?
Definitely go read the poem though, it's beautiful. Although I suspect made even more beautiful by Brad Pitt's voice. I forgot how great his voice is - took me right back to Fight Club. It has this kind of monotone about it that is infinitely interesting. And I don't even think Brad Pitt is that hot, to be honest. Just has a great voice. And has aged depressingly well.
One of the things in there that I have to mention is Peter Saville's/Julie Verhoeven's 'Forget Me Not'. I'm not going to post a picture of it here because it's super explicit illustration, and even though art isn't pornography (although this is kind of intended to be) I really don't want to open that whole debate so you'll have to go explore yourself.
"Inspired by the use of the French eighteenth century textile Toile de Jouy in the Spring/Summer 2001 fashion collections, creative director Peter Saville commissioned the young illustrator Julie Verhoeven to create ‘wallpaper for the computer’. Acknowledging the contemporary anxiety about the mainstream role of pornography in fashion photography, in addition to concerns about the availability of sexual imagery on the Internet, Saville supplied the artist with reference imagery of Japanese rope suspension bondage to introduce an element of erotic danger; a counterbalance to the delicate detail of the historical textile source. From this, Verhoeven produced a sequence of virtuoso, linear vignettes that grew increasingly dark in subject and expressive in execution as the series progressed."
Julie Verhoeven is one of my favourite illustrators, and Peter Saville is... well, awesome, but this definitely won't float everyone's boat. I really like it, even though I'm slightly stunned by the 'worst' layers, in fact that kind of makes me like it more. But that's possibly because I'm a bit twisted and strange. View the entire interactive piece here, in all it's explicit glory. There's a warning first to be 18+ but then you're away. Find the different coloured sections (quite small), click and it takes you to the next, 'worse' level.
There were loads of other projects, and the whole Fashion Film section too, but these were the ones I thought most note-worthy anyway. Great exhibition though, I spent hours in there. Well done if you got this far, that's a whole lot of reading you've just done.