Sunday, July 28, 2013

BEAUTY: Installation--Giuseppe Licari

Italian-born Giuseppe Licari now lives and works in Rotterdam creating charming installations that are often focused on nature and our relationship with it. Licari says, "Nature has always been a big passion and the relation of nature and man-made environments is something I often try to confront in my work. He elaborates in his artist statement on his website:
"I focus on the space surrounding us and I often use a whiff of universal irony, trying to convey a message in a way that it is easily accessible. I do this partly because I intend to give to the audience an active role in my work; performances, workshops, installations and public art are ways of dealing with the audience through a social experience. People are invited to participate, but simultaneously, they create different levels of relations and
contribute to the artwork itself."

In his piece Humus, Licari installed tree roots in a ceiling and lit them dramatically with halogen spot lights, casting shadows on the gallery floor. This mysterious, subterranean piece makes us reflect on areas of nature that we normally do not see and thus do not contemplate...there is a world of life underground that we do not know about. How many other worlds are we not usually aware of? How many other perspectives are we missing?

For Public Room, Licari installed a public park inside a gallery space, inverting the idea of indoor/ outdoor and public/ private. Attendees are invited to spend time in the space doing whatever one does in a public park setting: read a book, have a picnic, visit with friends...

Although this piece is not specifically focused on nature, it does focus on the nature of community and cooperation. Serial Swing requires at least three people to operate but it works best with five. Participants must coordinate their efforts to swing, bonding over a fun activity...

And The Sky In A Room was inspired by a series of forest fires in 2007 which destroyed a big part of southern Europe. For this piece, Licari says "A sick tree was cut down by the municipality of Rotterdam, cut in smaller pieces, archived and re-built inside the exhibition space." In this way, a small piece of nature was saved and preserved. It brings to mind images of museums in the far future where people one day will go to see what a "tree" looked like.

"Husbands" by Savages

I witnessed this amazing, intense live performance of "Husbands" by Savages a while back but chose not to post it. And I can't seem to let it here it is now. Savages' debut album "Silence Yourself" was released a little over two months ago but media coverage of the band before that was heavy, with comparisons being made to early Siouxsie, Joy Division, and even Gang of Four. I hear all of that (leaning more toward Joy Division myself) but I also hear Killing Joke in there, too.

In October, 2012, they made their UK TV debut on "Later with Jools Holland" where they ripped through "Husbands," leaving me gasping a little at the close of the song. The barely restrained fury, the tones of cold madness, and the controlled chaos held right on the edge in this performance is absolutely riveting. Lead vocalist Jehnny Beth (who makes me flash on Sinead O'Connor) doesn't sing as much as she issues urgent cries and powerful wails. It is all thrillingly frightening, and, well...savage: the controlled chaos feels as if it could swing off the track and come for you at any moment.

"Whoa, I woke up and I saw the face of a guy
I don’t know who he was, he had no eyes

His presence made me feel ill at ease
His presence made me feel, ill at ease oh, oh

It’s on the final hour, it’s on the final hour
Of myself, of myself

God I wanna get rid of it
God I wanna get, get rid of it, yeah, yeah
Get rid of it

My house, my bed, my husbands,
Husbands, husbands, husbands, husbands

We’re standing here all alone
When my eyes were closed and my mouth went numb
Does he know me very well?
When you talk in the dark will I see him again?
Will I see him again?

He sung the final hour, He sung the final hour
Of myself, of myself

God I wanna get rid of it
God I wanna get, get rid of it, yeah, yeah
Get rid of it

My house, my bed, my husbands,
Husbands, husbands, husbands, husbands
My room, my life
My husbands, husbands, husbands, husbands"

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Round" by Barbarossa

I discovered Barbarossa as the opening act for Junip this summer.

I fell in love with this beautiful song from his 2006 release, "Sea Like Blood."

Given the symbology of a circle, this simple song is actually quite profound; listen to this cyclical, hypnotizing song on repeat and let it go "round and round" in your head. We all of us go round in our lives and heads and hearts every day, on a planet that spins and goes round a star...

"Sunder" by Hibou

A musical project fronted by Peter Michel.
Poppy, breezy, but intriguingly dense.
From Hibou's debut release "Dunes."

"Fall Fully Backwards" by Frank's Daughter

"Fall fully backwards/ Into your soft empty bed/ Safe here and warm/ like the first breath you take"

This is a re-recorded and, according to vocalist Frank, more accessible version of the song "Fall Fully Backwards" which appears on "The Sound Of A Heart Unravelling," the debut release from the creative duo Frank's Daughter. Frank explained the reason for the alternative version in an interview with "The album was written and recorded in a way that we didn’t intend to have singles. We saw the album as one piece. We weren’t sort of constrained by length or timings or fills, so songs fitted in to this kind of web of an album and they would have their tempos changed or their rhythms changed to fit within the structure of the album. And singles work in a different way to that, and although we felt 'Fall Fully Backwards' would be a really good single, it needed a radio edit, and we didn’t want to start changing the construction of the song. We felt it would be better to do a reworking as a single that was its own thing...So, I really liked that idea of our song living its own little life separate from the album. We were tempted to call it something else, but we thought we would just let people discover that it was a completely different version."

Frank and band mate Arthur recorded the haunting, melancholy collection of songs for "The Sound Of A Heart Unravelling" over a three month period in near-complete isolation in an off-season Alpine hotel that had been gutted for renovation; the only electricity was in the top floor studio. Frank estimates that up to 80% of the lyrics were improvised. And reports that Frank and Arthur's "background in visual art is obvious from the care they have taken with the album promos. Every vinyl and CD copy has been wrapped in black tissue and twine, and given a blue wax stamp with the band's logo."

When describing their music, the duo themselves say that "comparisons can be drawn with Talk Talk, post 'Kid-A' Radiohead, Portishead, Massive Attack, even Kate Bush." With a list like that, how could I not like them?

BEAUTY: Interiors--Hotels

Highlights from some amazing design projects in the world of hospitality, via Interior Design.

Copper light pendants by Tom Dixon mingle with copper pots at 5-Cinco, the Paco Perez restaurant located in the Hotel Stue in Berlin.

Arch modern elements at the Room Mate Pau Hotel in Barcelona, designed by Teresa Sapey:

The bar with a constellation of colorful lanterns and the lobby with slat framework structures at the Generator Hotel, Barcelona:

And on my next trip to Iceland, I must stay at the Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel. The cantilevered lobby, the covered heated pool, and views of the Aurora are all stunning.

BEAUTY: Tableaux

The Art of Tableaux continued...

BEAUTY: Interiors--Nurseries

Nurseries and baby rooms: one of the great interior design dilemmas. I know parents who are expecting are caught up in a whirl of excitement. They are entering into unknown territory and preparing for a lot of change in their lives. So perhaps that is why many parents fall back on tired, expected, clichéd nursery design ideas. I also know that parents are excited to be expecting a boy or a girl (if they choose to discover such information ahead of time) but when I see a pink "girl-themed"/princess nursery or a blue "boy-themed"/cowboy-nautical-truck nursery, its like a cheese grater on my spine (please parents, do NOT impose archaic psychological gender restrictions on your children). "Cute-sy" nurseries drive me nuts. A nursery can be as eclectic, stylish, interesting, and dramatic as any other room in the house.

Take for example, this lovely and very sophisticated nursery by Erin Gates. Classic and stylish elements are set off against fantastic warm gray walls. And the painting is a beautiful addition of color and form.

Now, this spectacular nursery by the equally spectacular Tamra Kaye Honey features a slate and coral palette within a Hollywood Regency style. The wallpaper is amazing, and the brass butterfly on the ceiling and the spooky-cool paintings tacked to the closet door make the space.

Designer Summer Thornton used Scalamandré's legendary zebra-print wallpaper in this eclectic nursery that blends vintage, Hollywood Regency, and ethnic elements into a tantalizing, pleasing mix.

This bright, inviting nursery by Lucas Studio is more like a lovely guest room. The color palette and pattern-mixing are superb, lending a sun room or garden room feel.

Lovejoy Designs created a fresh, clean nursery in pale celadon and persimmon. Light and refined. The orange is a perfect counterpoint to the serenity of the celadon and adds a spark of life.

A nursery does not have to be Disneyland or an imposed gender statement. Use your imagination... don't fall back on common, stereotypical "baby" rooms. There are and should be no limits. You can even put a photo mural on a nursery wall of a Slilm Aaron's Palm Springs image, shown below, and make your baby's early years into a fabulous mid-century, jet-set adventure!

BEAUTY: Installation--Herbert Baglione

Artist and muralist Herbert Baglione created an installation in an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Parma, Italy. It is part of what he calls his "1,000 Shadows" project which sees him painting ghostly silhouettes on walls and buildings in cities around the world.

The Edge

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”
— Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, July 26, 2013