Sunday, October 17, 2010

eves 1st blog day 1 nyc

after 12 hours to LA, chilli cheese fries with mince (only food available disgusting) a crazy delayed flight into nyc due to gale force winds and a entertaining touch down (americans yelling OMG get me off this plane) and rip off taxi ride we arrived to our home away from home and a lovely guide of the apartment and rooftop - could seriously not be in a better area it is FANTASTIC. At midnight on a friday night in central village the 3 musketeers ventured out for a bite and found a dimly lit packed french bistro "french roast". We then enjoyed a meal (guys was called le burger aka quarter pounder) dont be fooled it was an outstanding meal accompanied by great wine and finished off with a creme brulee. 12 hours of sleep later refreshed and excited we met with Harry Smail (guys cousin) and the most amazing tour guide. We didnt have to walk far to find a great kiwi style FW next stop a pint of lager at a great beer garden in the meat packing district designed by andrebalazs & below below this buliding (this is 230pm) and then floated around the amazing shops of bleaker street coming across marc jacobs new book shop featuring Henry Hargreaves new book. We are now regrouping fashion consulting and gearing up for a sat night out beginning with drinks at Harrys and sure to be followed by dinner out and early morning red wines in some jazz bar (i hope) TBC

Monday, August 16, 2010

Just Kids - A Constant Friendship

I don't really know what there is to say about this book, just make sure that you read it. Patti Smiths latest book, about her relationship with renowned photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, published 2010 and a New York Times bestseller is truly lovely, and not because it is wonderfully written or about particularly outstanding events. It is the story of a great friendship between two extremely clever and artistically in-tune people, and makes you appreciate the smallest relationships in our lives as special. I chose the word constant in the title as for me it sums up all things stable and secure, and this is exactly the warm, overall feeling that exudes from the pages. We all know there are some people that come and go in our lives, are fun for awhile and then pass on through the times. But then there are the stayers, who consistently permeate our lives and who we cannot imagine living without.

Patti and Roberts relationship started in New York as friends, progressed to lovers and continued through development into homosexuality, strings of relationships on both sides, a long stay at the Chelsea Hotel and respective travels, only to be strengthened by their commitment to the pursuit of art, alongside a incredible support and assurance of each other talents; Patti with poetry, Robert with photography. Patti of course became Roberts main muse, and it is some of the best photographic portraiture you can see - although perhaps I am bias here, as to me she sums up everything about understated style.

I didn't manage to find the book here in stores, having to purchase it from Amazon in the end, however I did see a copy at the Lews Institute library in Ponsonby. Its an quick read, the sentence structure is much like her poetry and music, quick sentences that flow on fast to the next, so as soon as you finish pass onto the next person. Its a wonderful, very true, story.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Harlem Jazz

Another American postmodern author that has grabbed my interest in the past year is Toni Morrison. A noted African American author, and winner of both the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize, her characters literally jump off the page onto your face while you lie reading in bed (on a rainy, oh so rainy July in Auckland). Morrison has an extremely distinct way of writing, the dialogue is not softened or written in a way to make for easy reading, and by doing this the reader gets a real feeling for the time, the situation, and the surroundings. I recently finished Beloved, one of her bestsellers set around a strange mix of poltergeists and slavery. The book itself was voted best work of American fiction for the past 25 years. It was tough going, but in the end, forever memorable.

I got thinking about her novel Jazz in particular, as it is set in Harlem NYC, one of the few suburbs that meets our budget for accommodation. Her writing style in this novel is similar to a Jazz track and simply outstanding. Eccentric, irregular beats and differing speeds of text bear such similarities to the namesake that you easily imagine the beat of Harlem. Like Beloved, I did not find it an easy read as the style is so different to other authors, but persevere because it is well worth it in the end.

In the meantime click on this link and listen to Bill Wither's Harlem. Fantastic track.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Two Cantabarians who find ourselves stuck - for now - in rainy Auckland (surprisingly, we actually do like it), we can't help but think about all things good down in our hometown. Anyone in Auckland will wonder what on earth we mean when we say that - "But there is just NOTHING down there!" Well, you can lead a horse to water...

There are many things great about what is often referred as the Melbourne of New Zealand, but what really made me think about posting a piece on Christchurch was the Art Gallery. In 2003 the collection was moved from the old Robert McDougall Art Gallery to the new avon-river representative building on Montreal Street, and by doing so became a real centre for the city (town?). Forget the Cathedral (country church) and the Square, where its really 'happening' is the two block radius surrounding the gallery.

On arrival back to New Zealand, I spent six months in Christchurch and in this short (long) time I saw such an impressive collection of exhibitions, compiled by both local and foreign artists. The favourites that stood out were Seraphine Pick's retrospective, and Ronnie van Houts Who Goes There, whose warped interpretation of self-portraits are scarily amusing. Any artist of talent that can make me laugh and doesn't take themselves too seriously has my instant attention. Then again, in April during a visit home I saw Provacations, a Christine Webster spread of work. Pieces of circus erotica created an utterly entrancing exhibition. Her dark prints of theatrical portraiture were enticingly beautiful, and not easily forgotten. The UK based New Zealand photographer has quickly risen to a favourite of mine, particually with her artistic concerns of identity that run steadily through her work. I guess her work interests me at the moment as she deals with what I am currently researching; the stream of thought within portraiture, voyeurism, and the idea of the the sitter vs the watcher. Have a look at her website, - in particular Black Carnival, and if you are in Christchurch, make sure you save a couple of hours for the gallery. Its all we've got.

Martin Marjiela at Somerset House - London

The merging of two extraordinary things in this world. The fashion designer, that for me, signifies everything that is innovative and timeless in use of fabrics and cuts, with a landmark London building, one of the many that help make London the wonderful place that it is.

It is exhibitions like this (along with my dear, dear second family) that make me miss London terribly. I could have worn my tabi-cut Marjiela sneakers (purchased on ebay for a STEAL), to a place where people actually understood and appreciated them. I cannot remember the amount of times I was the focus of laughs and points by - lets say it - the frustrating general public (and children - who can perhaps be excused). Thus, along with being called 'camel toe' by numerous friends, it is maybe a good thing that I wore them to death, consequently falling victim to the trash upon leaving the UK.

Even if I was the only person who loved these shoes, the exhibition is bound to be something spectacular, and well worth a visit, if you are infact in London. That may help.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Honest Americans

Today I came across this link - an article on American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis - inventor of perhaps one of the top 10 iconic characters in modern literature and film. Who doesn't know Christian Bale as the Manhattan based Patrick Bateman, and who can't help but love him (especially the taste in music?). There is something about the character that plays on all our desires; who doesn't despise certain aspects of our culture and how satisfying (albeit offensive and most likely illegal) would it be if we actually played out all our negative thoughts? What is interesting about this article is that Ellis acknowledges the similarities (seemingly historic) between his then self and Bateman. So similar to Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, perhaps my most adored character, the role evolves out of a reclusive tendency, and a desire to be accepted - however this desire in turn creates everyones favourite arsehole. If only it was socially acceptable to voice exactly what we thought all the time, and if only everyone was too self-absorbed - as the characters in American Psycho - to listen to what was actually said. Perfect. I think I have just come across the key for "world peace".

Monday, July 12, 2010

Matthew Barney at the Guggenheim Museum

Doing my postgrad in Art Curatorship, I was introduced to the American artist Matthew Barney. His series of film The Cremaster Cycle is a must see if you in any way like to be mentally confused, exasperated and basically just blown away. An utter artistic genius, even if he is, like Damien Hirst, what I would refer to as a celebrity artist, playing pure shock value and fraternizing with A-listers (Barney has a child with singer Bjork). Lets all say welcome to a version of Warhol's factory crew into the 21st century.

In a series of five films Barney plays out various scenarios, but the one I want to discuss here is #3, where he stages himself at the Guggenheim Museum. This building itself is an artistic feat, and draws hundreds of thousands visitors every year. Placed right on 5th Avenue it is part of the 'Museum Mile' of New York (others of which I will discuss in further posts). Designed by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright, who wanted to make the Met down the road look like a 'Protestant Barn' - the overall effect was the perfect place to house Guggenheims contemporary collection. But this clean and sparse building is flipped on its head with this Celtic installment of Barney's masterpiece. To find the series on DVD is a trial on its own, but if you have a look at that link (watch to the end), you will get an idea of what a major production work this was and deserves serious critical praise. The artist becomes mountain climber, Celtic warrior, and top recruiter of major personalities, creating a oddly sexual world that runs similarities to, among others, the 'Beauty School Drop Out' Scene in Grease, Alice in Wonderland, 8 Mile and Braveheart. It is bound to be something that you think about for years, even if it is just trying to work out what the hell is going on. Just have a look, see what you think, and if the DVD is too difficult to track down then the hard cover publication is available on Amazon, and well worth a purchase.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What I Loved...

I like reading, and it is said that you should always break up your books with different authors. I don't listen to this advice. Its nonsense. Hence I get overly obsessive about certain authors, reading their books back to back, and Brooklyn based authors Paul Auster and his wife Siri Hustvedt have been bearing the brunt of this obsessiveness since 2008.

Auster has been hailed a 'master storyteller', which just sums him up perfectly. His novels are not based on a particular genre, such as crime or romance, so instead of major events, the reader is taken on a journey through characters thoughts and the postmodern ideal. He brings in psychological thoughts with his protagonists, in turn offering his various workings on the human mind in contemporary society. He latest book, for me, brought to light his unique style. Invisible draws on an incestral relationship between siblings. He is not going for shock tactics here, and it is hard to explain but I was not disgusted reading it - such is his understanding of the human mind, in all our inner desires and fetishes, that he makes it more about a general understanding of a taboo subject. Don't get me wrong! I am not about to go and sleep with my brother, but to convince me about how an improper relationship may come about just highlighted Auster's genius.

My picks for best examples:
Man in the Dark
The Brooklyn Follies
The book of Illusions
Oracle Night

Avoid - Timbuktu.
It is terrible.

Likewise his wife Siri Hustvedt, became a fast favourite of mine. I started with What I Loved, a story about two couples living and growing in NYC, and their relationships, and she had me sold from that point on. Finding out that she was married to Paul Auster not only made me smile, it made perfect sense. She comes from an art background, having written many essays on paintings (Mysteries of the Rectangle) and her knowledge of art comes through in her stories. Siri suffers from health issues, such as migraines - so the current one I am reading, The Shaking Woman - A History of my Nerves is about her anxious experiences in the past, her struggle to deal with them and her quest to understand them. My most favourite compilation of essays is A Plea to Eros where she looks into her relationships, as a mother, wife, and daughter.

So there you have it. If I get handcuffed by the NYPD for stalking, you will probably guess who it was.

Lazy Sunday Planning

Looking into what exhibitions are on in New York when we go, I came across this show that is currently on at MOMA. Pictures by Women - A History of Modern Photography is a study of the medium through the eyes of top women photographers such as Cindy Sherman and Diane Arbus. But forget them, as this in turn got me thinking about New Zealand women photographers - something that seems to be popping up in my life regularly in the past few months with various excursions, exhibitions and meetings. Returning home to New Zealand from London it has been wonderful to see what local artists are producing. There is such great work coming out of little old NZ.

On a recent trip to Wellington to stay with some very dear friends, I saw Ready to Roll at the City Gallery. This exhibition focuses on contemporary New Zealand artists who have a particularly unique voice, and there was one that stood out in particular. Layla Rudneva-Mackay photos are set in mainly desolate, sparse landscapes with a quirk element to them, casting a satirical factor to an otherwise basic image. Have a look below, and for more images look at her representing gallery, Also at starkwhite you can check out Ann Sheltons work, and a must look is Kate Newby at the Sue Crockford gallery.

A few months ago Eve took me to a show called The Brief, which was a great concept - five local photographer submitted pieces in aid of teen cancer. Carolyn Haslett and Jackie Meiring deserve a mention here, and are definitely ones to watch - I love the incorporation of architectural spaces into Jackies work, whereas Carolyn provides us with a utopian, romanticised image.

I will end here for now, Sunday has taken a firm hold of me, and as before mentioned, I have a mountain of a book upstairs that needs some serious attention. Eve will probably add to the list of local women photographers, she no doubt has some fantastic ones that she would like to mention.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Starting Up

Eve and I thought we would start this blog as a way to a) provide some geekish self-entertainment through a dreary New Zealand winter; and b) to document our preparation for upcoming travels, alongside recipes, reviews, whats going on around Auckland, just basically all things blogish.

So - as a place to start - we are off to New York in October. Initiated by friends being involved in the CMJ Music Festival, a group of us thought a trip was in order. Convienently, it happens to be in one of the better cities in the world to visit! As anyone should who is going to NY, craigslist is a must look for places to stay. Sublets, vacation rentals and by-night rooms are all on there, and you just need about 3 hours to go through them all! Most importantly, beware of scams - there are numerous scammy scammers out there who post photos of entirely different apartments, so if you have someone you know there, get them to check it out for you before hand, to ensure that you are getting what you think you're getting. We are currently toiling with a company called Toshi Hotels - I am dubious of their authenticity, so if anyone knows anything about them then let us know.

Anyway so thats where we are at the moment - I am personally getting very sidetracked at work looking at the various fleamarkets around NYC. I am notoriously a hoarder, which goes hand in hand with being a manic purchaser, while Eve was pretty much born with an astute eye for vintage style, so I imagine that this part of our lives will get regular mentions on here.

Part of my preparation for this trip is to read Edward Rutherfurds 'New York', a 1000 page epic novel which covers 500 years of New York history. Having only got the book for 4 weeks from the local library (Leys Institute in St Marys Bay - a fantastic place which deserves a post dedicated to it alone), it will be a push, but what a perfect way to get through a rainy July in Auckland.