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Joseph Beuys’ widow not amused by ‘Fat Corner’ schnapps stunt
07:52 am


Joseph Beuys

Noted German Fluxus and “happening” artist Joseph Beuys focused on two substances above all in his art: felt and fat. His use of the two materials purportedly stem from an incident Beuys experienced during World War II. In 1944, as a pilot of a Nazi “Stuka” dive-bomber, Beuys was shot down on the Crimean Front. According to Beuys, he was saved when a group of nomadic Tatar tribesmen wrapped his body in animal fat and felt and nursed him back to health: “....the tail flipped over and I was completely buried in the snow. That’s how the Tartars found me days later. I remember voices saying ‘Voda’ (Water), then the felt of their tents, and the dense pungent smell of cheese, fat and milk. They covered my body in fat to help it regenerate warmth, and wrapped it in felt as an insulator to keep warmth in.” This account has never been corroborated; contemporaneous reports insist that Beuys was found by a German search commando and that there were no Tatars in the village at that time.

Still, for Beuys this tale served as an originating myth, and in his many “Aktionen” (actions, happenings) he would use the two materials again and again. One of his most famous works is his Filzanzug (Felt Suit, 1970); he often wore a felt suit and a felt hat in everyday life. According to the Tate Gallery in London, “Beuys used triangles of fat in both his sculptures and ‘actions’. From around 1963, he would use wedges of fat or felt to mark the boundaries of a space when performing an ‘action.’”

His best-known fat-based artwork is called Fettecke (Fat Corner, various years). According to Antidiets of the Avant-garde by Cecilia Novero,

Beuys “melted” or cooked butter (or margarine) and worked with it in its multiple states, from hard to soft to liquid. When warm, fat expands and moves; when cold or frozen, it becomes hard, heavy, and non-malleable. Energy is not only necessary to transform fat but also is the force that the artist uses to sculpt it. As Beuys reported of two of his most famous fat objects of the sixties, Fat Corner (Fettecke, 1960) and Fat Chair (Fettstuhl, 1964), fat in the former has hardened in the form of a quadrilateral, where fat on the chair “is not as geometrical as the fat corner, rather is preserves some chaotic character.” For its malleability fat becomes the material that best expressed the ideas of transformation from chaos to form, and vice versa, ideas that for Beuys exemplify processes of life, especially human social activity. Human action can be organized according to the state of matter, that is, of fat.

As part of the Düsseldorf Quadriennale and the Museum Kunstpalast’s current show “Art and Alchemy,”  Markus Löffler, professor of art in Bremen, and two artists named Andree Korpys and Dieter Schmal took up the challenge of creating booze out of the Fettecke: they “used a four pound chunk of the over 30-year-old sculpture and a dusting of blue pigment from an Yves Klein edition to distill a 160 proof alcohol, which was then cut down to around four liters of 100 proof schnapps.” According to Löffler, “The taste is reminiscent of Parmesan. ... It stays with you for a long time afterwards.”

Remnants of Beuys’ Fettecke
According to artnet, visitors to the museum were also offered a drop or two of the liquor. After so many years, the fat had certainly turned rancid, a fact that did not bother the artists responsible for the Fettecke schnapps. “You can make liquor out of anything,” Loeffler said. Apparently, the three artists have already distilled (and presumably consumed) liquor made from books and a bust by Dieter Roth.

The creation of the schnapps, which seems perfectly in keeping with Beuys’ own sensibility, did not delight Beuys’ widow and daughter, Eva and Jessica Beuys:

[Eva Beuys] called the performance “crap and stupid,” speaking to Germany’s Bild on Wednesday. She claimed that her late husband’s rights have been violated by the destructive act, and said that after hearing the news, she had gotten “red cheeks out of anger.” Eva Beuys said that the museum failed to inform her or her daughter Jessica about the performance, which she went on to call an act of slander against her husband.

Though she refused to comment on the performance itself and said she won’t sue the institution or the “stupid and crudely unfeeling” artists who initiated the performance, the widow had some choice words for Stüttgen. She claims that after rescuing the now-destroyed portion of Fettecke, Stüttgen made her sign a document confirming the work’s authenticity and subsequently showed it in exhibitions. “Now,” she tells Bild, “He has made a farce of the work and a farce of my husband who can no longer defend himself.”


Eva Beuys

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Get your luxurious goth on with the skeleton sculptures of Rome
06:34 am



Sant’Agostino, memorial to Cardinal Giuseppe Ranato Imperiali, by Paolo Posi (design) and Pietro Bracci (statuary), 1741
There’s a romance to Catholicism that I envied growing up—services attended with Protestant grandparents provided none of the splashy aesthetics Catholicism is so famous for. We certainly weren’t graced with sculptures of super-vigorous skeletons—specifically, skeletons that aren’t letting their lack of skin and organs prevent them from leading active, productive afterlives. Skeletons with joie de décès, if you will.

These Roman skeleton sculptures (documented by Catholic death ritual hobbyist, Elizabeth Harper) exhibit an expressiveness not expected from bones of stone. Harper’s subjects hoist the doors to their own tombs, brandish banners and portraits, and even genuflect before the dead. Congregants are reminded of their own mortality, but the morbid stigma of the skeleton is eclipsed by the dynamic, lush beauty of the sculptures.

Gesù e Maria, memorial to Camillo del Corno by Domenico Guidi, 1682

San Francesco d’Assisi a Ripa Grande, memorial to Maria Camilla and Giovanni Battista Rospigliosi, skeleton by Michele Garofolino, 1713

San Pietro in Montorio: Detail of the relief carved on the tomb of Girolamo Raimondi by Niccolo Sale, chapel designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1640

San Pietro in Vincoli, memorial to Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini by Carlo Bizzaccheri, died 1610

San Pietro in Vincoli, memorial to Cardinal Mariano Pietro Vecchiarelli, died 1639

Sant’Eustachio, memorial to Silvio Cavallieri, 1717

Santa Maria del Popolo, tomb of Giovanni Battista Gisleni, made for himself prior to his death in 1672

Santa Maria del Popolo, tomb of Princess Maria Eleonora Boncompagni Ludovisi, died 1745

Detail of the façade of Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte, designed by Ferdinando Fuga, 1738. The inscription on the scroll reads, “Today me, tomorrow you.”

Façade of Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte, designed by Ferdinando Fuga, 1738

Santa Maria sopra Minerva, memorial to Carlo Emanuele Vizzani, by Domenico Guidi, 1661
Via Atlas Obscura

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Disobedient Objects: How to make a tear gas mask & a bucket pamphlet bomb
09:28 am


Disobedient Objects

If you’re in the UK or planning to head over to London this year, then it might be worth a visit to the city’s esteemed Victoria and Albert Museum where there is an exhibition of Disobedient Objects charting the history of protest through the “objects of art and design from activist social movement over the last 30 years.”

From Suffragette teapots to protest robots, this exhibition will be the first to examine the powerful role of objects in movements for social change. It will demonstrate how political activism drives a wealth of design ingenuity and collective creativity that defy standard definitions of art and design.

Disobedient objects are often everyday items that have been turned to a new purpose. But social change is about making as much as breaking. Sometimes designing a new object creates a new way to disobey.

The exhibition covers anti-globalization demonstrations, the Occupy movement, plus a wide array materials from Unions, activists and protestors down the year. Amongst the items on display are a robot that paints graffiti, union strike banners, placards, fake money and Occupy George stamps.

The V&A have also made available activist posters with instructions on how to make improvised tear gas masks and bucket pamphlet bombs.

How to Guide – Makeshift Tear-Gas Mask
Handmade gas masks were an essential response to police actions during the 2013 mass protests in Istanbul. These events saw the Turkish government release a record amount of tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Protesters devised a way to protect themselves with basic materials like plastic bottles, elastic, and strips of insulation foam.

Since 2013, the idea spread and handmade gas masks have appeared on protestors as far away as Caracas, Venezuela.


How to Guide – Bucket Pamphlet Bomb
This bucket-type leaflet bomb used by the London Recruits, a group of mostly young non-South Africans working voluntarily for the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP). With these devices, the London Recruits distributed censored information in South African cities from 1969 onwards. The leaflet bombs harmed no one, but distributed hundreds of leaflets high into the air.

This how-to is based on sketch by Ken Keable, one of the Recruits, and is based on the research in his book The London Recruits. These devices were developed by ANC exiles in Britain, who tested prototypes in Bristol, the Somerset countryside, on Hampstead Heath and in Richmond Park.

Download your “how to” leaflets here.

Disobedient Objects runs from 26 July until February 1st, 2015, details here.
See more Disobedient Objects, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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1980s nightclub invitations from ‘Downtown’ New York

Keith Haring, invitation for “Larry Levan’s Birthday Bash,” 1986

It’s… interesting—and a reminder of how fucking old I’m getting—that I’m starting to see promotional ephemera from nightclub events I attended (or worked at) in my… younger days turning up in museums and art galleries. Good thing for me that I have boxes of these types of invitations that I’ve kept sitting out in the garage. Twenty years from now, I’ll spend my dotage as an eBay seller specializing in… shit I’ve kept.

What’s slightly worrisome, though, is how little of some of these events I call recall in any detail. I’ve heard older friends of mine say things like “Well, it was the sixties!” (or the seventies) but even so, the 80s were a seriously decadent (and dangerous) time to be young and living in New York City. I have always lucked out and been at the right place at the right time, I like to think.

Without putting too fine a point on it, drugs were better then—especially cocaine, which, sorry is just a joke now, kids—and super easy to get your hands on. People were more extreme then. As someone who (luckily) lived through it all, it’s very easy for me to see why so many of today’s young people romanticize the East Village or “Downtown” scene—which will never, ever, happen again (at least not there)—It’s because it was better then. It just was. All the elements, including cheap rent, came together then. A perfect storm, culturally speaking.

It didn’t last that long—Manhattan nightlife is all rich kids and bankers these days—but if you were there you know what I mean. And if you were there, perhaps like me, you’re starting to find that a lot of it’s pretty damned foggy by now, so it’s good to have exhibits like this one, online at Marc Miller’s Gallery 98, which specializes in this sort of artifact, to jar our memories.

This mix of ambitious high art with popular entertainment and performance emerged first when two clubs, CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, helped launch Punk in all its many and varied creative directions in the late 1970s. By the 1980s dozens of new nightclubs and bars including Area, Club 57, Danceteria, Limelight, Mudd Club, Palladium, Paradise Garage, Pyramid and the Tunnel consciously strove to be part of the art world by presenting new music, art, film, video, fashion, and performance.  It was a period in art not unlike that of Paris in the 1890s when the cafés of Montmartre helped mold the fin-de-siècle aesthetic. Gallery 98 presents here a selection of nightclub invitations and posters from this exhilarating moment in the 1970s and 80s. For artists and performers it was a golden age with clubs needing to book events seven-days-a-week.  To attract the trendy crowd, artists were recruited to paint murals and design publicity; curators were hired to organize exhibitions; photographers were booked to present slide shows and document events; filmmakers and video artists were paid for screenings; and performers were engaged to make music, stage cabaret shows and host interactive events involving audience participation.  Out of this milieu, stars were born: performers Ann Magnuson, John Sex, Joey Arias, Phoebe Legere; artists Colette, Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, Mark Kostabi; curators Baird Jones, Neke Carson, Carlo McCormick, Michael Alig.  And in the wake of all this activity came the thousands of cheaply produced but creatively designed cards and posters that the artists and clubs created to publicize events in this pre-Internet era. Presented here is a small sampling of nightclub ephemera available through Gallery 98.  All items are for sale.


Take for instance this invitation for a 1989 party for British filmmaker Derek Jarman at Mars, a four story club on 12th Ave. I worked as the doorman at the fourth floor VIP room (Vin Diesel worked the front door) and I recall working at this party, and indeed still have the invite below in my possession. The thing is, I have no memory whatsoever of seeing or meeting Derek Jarman there, which is weird, because you’d think I would. Perhaps it was because I was outside of the party and not in it, but I don’t know because the invite aside, I’m drawing a complete blank! [I should probably take this opportunity to mention that I was perhaps the very worst—or best, depending on how you look at it—VIP room doorman in all of NYC nightlife history. How do I know this? Because I let every single person who walked up to the rope inside. Every one of them. The sole exception was when some idiot timidly asked me “You don’t want me in there, do you?” and I just silently shook my head “no” and he turned around and fucked off. Had he just kept his mouth shut, the rope would have parted for him.]

“Family! The New Tribal Love Rock Musical” with Joey Arias and Ann Magnuson at Danceteria, 30 West 21st Street, New York

A Seconds magazine party for the NY Debut of “Serial Killers” by Richard Kern at Madam Rosa’s, 24 John’s Lane, New York, 1987

Kembra Pfahler at Pompeii, 104 East 10th St., NYC, 1985

Joey Arias and Ann Magnuson “Request the Pleasure of Your Company at a Mad Tea Party,” which they hosted in character as Dali and Gala, Danceteria, 1985

The opening night invite for AREA’s “American Highway” theme, 157 Hudson Street, New York, 1986. The club changed its highly elaborate decor every six weeks or so, so scoring these opening night invites was a matter of some importance. Plus, if you were on their mailing list, you tended to “mysteriously” get onto the mailing lists for other clubs.

Girl Bar, a popular lesbian night out, one of very few at the time, happened at Boy Bar on St. Mark’s Place once a week.

There’s a picture of me, age 23 perhaps, with really long hair in one of the issues of Project X

James White’s Sardonic Sincopators, at Save the Robots, 1986. Save the Robots was a super sleazy afterhours club. If you were there, chances are you were fucked up, not likely to be sleeping anytime soon and probably up to no damned good.

Finally, both sides of a business card for former Yippie leader Jerry Rubin’s afterwork networking parties. He threw these parties at different clubs, including the Limelight, where I was working in 1985, and they were the fucking worst parties ever, with the worst crowd and the worst tippers and these parties simply sucked. Rubin’s networking parties, I do have vivid memories of, none of them good.

Via Stupefaction

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Demonic and dramatic handmade masks of dragons, owls and horned demons
10:26 am



It’s probably a bit too early to start thinking about Halloween (or, you know, you could just wear one to work for “casual freaky Friday”) but these handmade resin skull masks by Etsy shop aishavoya are pretty damned incredible.

Each mask is hand painted, so each paint job slightly varies. Masks are lined in fabric and the straps are leather but can be switched with a synthetic leather upon request.

The masks are hand-sculpted, supposedly lightweight, somewhat flexible and apparently can fit “a wide range of face shapes and sizes.”

I’ve added links underneath each photo. Each mask runs around $180.00.

Dragon Skull Mask

Horned Demon Skull Mask

Curly Horned Demon Skull Mask

Owl Bird Skull Mask
h/t Geekologie

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Gordon’s Gin makes Gilbert & George very, very drunk
09:59 am


Gilbert and George
Gordon's Gin

Are Gilbert and George the Ralf und Florian of the visual arts world? As imperfect as that analogy may be, I’m sticking with it. In this 1972 short, titled Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk, Gilbert and George paid homage to their beloved gin & tonics. It conforms to a style one might call “high deadpan”: as sweeping music by Elgar and Grieg plays, the viewer is treated to a single static shot of G&G consuming several G&Ts in front of a stately window, presumably revealing a London thoroughfare; meanwhile the sentence “Gordon’s makes us drunk” is intoned many times (as time passes, the word “drunk” is modified by the word “very” and “very, very,” etc.—perhaps the number of times “very” is said correlates to the number of G&Ts they’ve consumed?).

In 1973, G&G published a multiple in an edition of 200 called “Reclining Drunk” that utilised melted down Gordon’s gin bottles. One of these will typically sell today for around $7000 at an art auction.

You have to admire the commitment to conceptual rigor here, not to mention to the glories of inebriation. (I love the touch of adding their names to the Gordon’s Gin label.) It might not exactly be as exciting as Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, but I like it.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Laughing gimp mask with teeth is a f*cking nightmare
07:31 am


Tokyo Ghoul

Gimp masks don’t normally bother me, but gimp masks with smiling teeth do! Dear lord!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is a cosplay mask honoring a character from Japanese manga series Tokyo Ghoul?


via JWZ, 東京喰種 カネキマスクの作り方 その6, Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘RuPaul’s First Art Movie,’ sometime in the ‘80s
06:36 am



Glamazon Rupaul is the RuPaul of the people—the Miss America RuPaul, if you will, but pre-drag RuPaul is also a sight to behold. Billed as “RuPaul’s First Art Movie,” this roughly three and a half minute short features Ru preening, mugging and smearing his face with talcum powder, all under a garbled soundtrack of Diana Ross’ “It’s My Turn.” It’s great seeing him doing something so unstructured and organic and just plain weird.

No date is given, but the video looks a lot like American Music Show-era RuPaul—so I’m guessing somewhere between ‘83 and ‘85.

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman

Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art has announced the mounting of 91 artworks and ephemera relating to the life’s work of the eccentric LA bohemian legend Marjorie Cameron. The show goes up on October 11 at MOCA’s Pacific Design Center annex and will close on January 11, 2015. “Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman” will feature paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, poetry and correspondence between Cameron and her husband rocket scientist/occultist Jack Parsons, and with the great mythologist Joseph Campbell.

In recent years Cameron’s work has begun to be reassessed by the art world, in part inspired by her close association with artists like Wallace Berman and George Herms, actor Dennis Hopper and underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger. As interest in their work increased, so has curiosity about the odd, flaming haired creature from Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. Sadly much of her work was deliberately burned by the artist herself in the 50s and can only be glimpsed at in Curtis Harrington’s short cinematic portrait of Cameron, “Wormwood Star.” (See below)

The show will highlight the recent publication of Songs for the Witch Woman, an absolutely stunning coffee table art book / facsimile reproduction of Cameron’s drawings and watercolors along with Parsons’ metaphysical and occult poetry produced by Fulgur Esoterica. (The book was printed in a very limited edition, and is available now. If this seems like the kind of item that you would like to own—it’s a knockout, finely published at a very high quality—buy it now instead of waiting until next year when it’ll be selling for $500 on eBay. If you like this kind of thing, I’ll say it again, it’s particularly nice. There’s a beautifully composed foreword by the OTO’s WIlliam Breeze, who knew Cameron, to recommend it as well.)

The exhibition is being organized by guest curator Yael Lipschutz with MOCA’s senior curator Alma Ruiz along with the Cameron-Parsons Foundation. The museum will produce a full color catalogue with 75 illustrations for the exhibit.

Below, Curtis Harrington’s “Wormwood Star.” Heartbreaking to consider how many of these paintings are gone forever.

And speaking of Cameron, her biographer, Spencer Kansa sent me this curious piece of 60s experimental filmmaking that Cameron was involved with:

Za is an early-70s cinepoem by Elias Romero, the underground filmmaker, and one of the main pioneers of the liquid light shows that he began projecting in the late-50s in San Francisco and at Ben Shapiro’s Renaissance Club on the Sunset Strip. Za was filmed in Big Sur and features the movie actress Diane Varsi, portraying an alchemist cum poet. Varsi had already runaway from the superficiality of Hollywood by the time this was filmed, in order to pursue a more artistic and meaningful life. And, interestingly, the raggy dayglo outfits she wears in the film were created by Cameron, no less. Cameron and Elias were old friends by the time this film was made. He had been married to Cameron’s confidante, the poetess Aya. In Wormwood Star Aya admits that: “For years, Cameron never forgave me for splitting up with Elias.”

Watching it today, the film is, er, interesting. I guess back then it probably helped that most of its original viewers were heavily dosed-up.


Thank you Lyvia Filotico!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Portraits from Rome’s ‘dark movement’ scene of the 1980s
07:04 am



Diamanda Galás
There are all kinds of fashion movements that didn’t really have the presence in the US that they did in Europe, but the Italian “dark movement” is such a cool collection of looks I’m pushing for a second wave of it here in the States. You can see echoes of the British New Romantics, but a gothier version of that. Photographer Dino Ignani‘s “Dark” portraiture shows several shades of gray of the dark dandies, who often sport looks that are kind of Jesus and Mary Chain-meets-early-Madonna-chic.

The “Dark” collection, taken primarily in Rome between ‘83 and ‘85, showcases the patrons of clubs, movies, concerts and theater events associated with the dark movement. Of course nothing stays non-commodified in the modern world, and Ignani is quick to point out how rapidly the look was appropriated by high-end fashion. From his site, loosely translated:

Unfortunately, the elements that the youth of the “dark movement” had chosen to oppose the dominant aesthetic and stand out from the conformist crowd (excessive makeup, predominant use of black clothing, necklaces and other jewelry in abundance, hairstyles showy and exaggerated) were later absorbed, processed, emptied of sense of rebellion and re-presented as harmless, “fashionable” symbols.

Ah yes, from hippies to punk to grunge, nothing stays inimitable when there’s a buck to be made, but Ignani’s gallery shows some great looks from an innovative crowd of folks with naught but a frilly collar, shit tons of of eyeliner and hairspray and sulky expressions. The top photo is of avant garde diva Diamanda Galás—surely a style icon for the wee dark ones of that era (and beyond). Check her live performance of “The Litanies of Satan” at the end, should you feel inclined to commune with the dark forces.


Chiara and Mauro







From the Black Out Rock Club



At the Piper club in Rome

At the Piper club in Piper

From the Black Out Rock Club

At the Firenze club in Rome

Via It’s Nice That

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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