A one-night-only showcase of emerging NYC artists focused on Big Apple realities
by David Graver in Culture on 27 August 2014
It all began with a taxi ride. Carlos Santolalla, a photographer working under the moniker Raat City, had just finished modeling in DKNY's FW '14 runway show and an unexpected opportunity appeared. "After we did the show," he shares with CH, "I was in a cab with someone from Donna Karan and I said we should do an art show together. After we talked further, they thought it was a good idea. By the next week they had given me a check." Tomorrow, the result of such a serendipitous exchange premieres as a one-night-only group show dubbed "New Art City." Santolalla's first time as curator sees over 20 artists—emerging and established—come together with a view in mind to tackle the identity of real New York. From large-scale installations to intimate photography, it's an exciting, clever and at times aggressive debut.
Santolalla explains the taxicab discussion was prompted by the fact he'd never had an art show before. "I've had people buy prints from me after I started putting everything up on the internet, but I had never even thought I would actually do a show. It's just something I had imagined." He thinks of "New Art City" as an introduction, and already admits he has "a ton of precise concepts for the future and the next ones." While the breadth and depth of his own work warrants a solo show, right now he's more than pleased to share the space with this group of talented artists.
Santolalla put out a call for contributors and, as he describes, it spiderwebbed from there. "I've been friends with [photographer] Sandy Kim and [artist] Jeanette Hayes for a long time and I asked them first, and they told me to ask their friends. Then everyone began sending me art. I had at least 150 submissions and just started picking people who I thought would blend together as a community." Work from A$AP Ferg is not far from Brandee Brown's contribution. Artist Cole Mohr's piece is a few steps from Miyako Bellizzi. Ultimately, the community is reflective of the many different types of personalities the city has to offer.
An entire room showcases the work of artist Matt Starr, where he has given life to a thematically ambitious wonderland of downtown cleanliness. There, a yoga goddess dangles over a grassy knoll and a full juice bar touts a clean lifestyle (though that bar will be serving rum during the event). Starr was asked to center his installation on the downtown scene, and its role almost as an urban oasis. "I was more interested in the SoulCycles and the juiceries, and I thought that was a better representation of what downtown actually is. I was really influenced by Citibike and Citibank and Citigroup and Citifield and my prediction is, in about 10 years, there will be a Citi-sponsored city. So I created this lifestyle brand called 'Diet' in this space," Starr tells us. He constructed diet condoms and diet cigarettes to be sold in an entire diet store. Even the ceiling will be covered with projections referencing the whole health infatuation.
An additional standout piece hails from Sophia Lamar, an artist and famed fixture in New York nightlife. "My piece is based on when I take my makeup off. I collect the tissues and I make work with them, all these mixed hues of makeup," Lamar notes. Some of the tissues are as old as five or six years, and saturated with color—all presented together in the form of a collage. It's an appropriate, impressive piece for a show digging into identity.
Santolalla's vision of the city, as portrayed by his art and that which he has selected, is electric and alive. There are moments of sensitivity banging against harsh critiques. There's diversity. There's hope and humor. "I had just moved to New York and I was broke but I still thought everything I was doing was amazing," he says about how he entered the world of photography in the first place. DKNY took a chance, and now New York is culturally richer.
"New Art City" opens tomorrow, 28 September 2014 from 7-10PM, at The Safari, located at 255 West Broadway, NYC.
Matt Star and Sophia Lamar images by Cool Hunting, all other images courtesy of New Art City
The elegant portable net works with any table and doubles as a protective mat for pots and pans
It's an exciting week for tennis fans as the 2014 US Open kicked off on Monday, but there's equally good news for table tennis fans as well—thanks to RCA alum and product designer Julian Bond. Not only can ping pong tables be expensive, they take up a great deal of room: not an ideal situation especially for those living in cramped apartments. (Though, there's always SPiN for those in NYC). As a fun solution, Bond developed CorkNet, a portable ping pong net made solely from recycled cork, so your dining room table—or any table or desk for that matter—can host some informal matches.
Portable nets often call for skewers or clamps, but—as Bond points out—they look awkward and only serve one purpose. In comparison to these plastic alternatives, CorkNet is elegant and meant to live in the kitchen, not hidden away in a junk drawer until needed, as it also serves as a protective mat for hot pans. Perhaps consider taking this to your friend's house in lieu of a bottle of wine at the next dinner party.
Secure your own CorkNet by contributing £20 to the Kickstarter campaign.
Images courtesy of Julian Bond
Stoned astronauts, neon lights and religious iconography combine in this artist's striking works, on display now in Shanghai
by Alessandro De Toni in Culture on 27 August 2014
An indolent psychonaut walks onto a stage in a brightly colored outfit and loads his bong with the ritual gestures of a tea master. He puts on a helmet—complete with a weed leaf-shaped halo—and as the bowl burns, a cloud of thick smoke fills the headgear. He sits between two flags, between two philosophical mantras: the Latin motto, “Ordo ab chao” (meaning order from chaos) and the more subversive, “Jerk off in peace."
This is just the introduction to artist Chen Tianzhuo’s performance piece called "PicNic," one of the incredible works showcased at his latest solo show at Shanghai's BANK Gallery. At the venue, the artist shocks viewers with a range of bold and sometimes confrontational sights—a recent performance saw a dancer crawling on the floor while wearing a butt plug shaped like a pink ponytail.
Born in Beijing in 1985 and trained at London’s Central Saint Martins, Chen is one the most promising young artists in China. His art is a unique blend that combines elements of pop culture, religious symbolism, sacred rituals and self-deprecation. Chen’s repertoire is an encyclopedia of global subculture—everything from pot, drag queens, Eric Cartman, hip-hop culture, voguing, butoh (a Japanese avant-guard form of dance from the '60s) and a lot more is tapped in his striking artworks. "Art transcends borders, we can’t talk about Chinese art and foreign art. As a young artist, I choose my palette from a globalized world—elements from everyday life I share with artists of my age all around the world,” Chen tells CH.
I don’t like to take it too seriously. My goal is rather to stimulate the audience—bring them in a world of colors and emotions.
Aside from flashy images and bright lights, religion is an integral part of Chen’s creations. In all his works there’s an extensive use of symbols from the holy cross to Buddhist swastikas and elements from freemasonry. His performances are often choreographed as a religious ceremony, almost an initiation into a kind of ecstatic cult. "Since I can recall, I’ve always been interested in religion and art. Both have to deal with life and death, art connects to the very essence of life as well as religion does. At the same time, I don’t want to express any deep philosophical thought in my work, I don’t like to take it too seriously. My goal is rather to stimulate the audience—bring them in a world of colors and emotions—that’s also one of the reasons why I’m more and more interested in live performances instead of installations,” Chen says.
"PicNic," along with other works including "Paradise Bitch" (a piece which features two little people in golden chains rapping on the notes of Cantonese rapper KidGod) are destined to influence Chen’s next big accomplishment: an opera whose topic still remains a secret.
Chen's work are currently on show at Shanghai's BANK Gallery (Second Floor, 59, Xianggang Lu, near Huqiu Lu, Huangpu district) until 31 August 2014, with a few selected pieces also displayed at Destination—one of Beijing’s hotspots for queer culture. Among his side projects is a collaboration with fashion designer SANKUANZ, for whom Chen designed the graphic patterns of the last two collections.
Images courtesy of Chen Tianzhuo