“Now You See Me, Now You Don’t”: Action Dolls by Victor and Rolf

These Action Dolls made by Victor and Rolf are a wonderful statement about freeing impossible identities into the real world. The fashion runway is a safe road to release our fantasies from the human psyche, and these dolls toy with our imagination. Dolls reference the human. We humans are a diverse people which V & R reflect beautifully. Sometimes dolls reflect cultural stereotypes like Barbie, sometimes they function to heal as mediators of conflict in tribal societies and sometimes they symbolize specific traditions like the wooden Russian Matryoshka dolls  and much more.

To me these dolls heighten the perfection of youth, loss of innocence, the opening to adulthood and the insecurities that come from the dawn of growing up. Fabrics here act like blankets to cushion and hide human form, lest we reveal the awkward occupation of puberty and the daunting cultural expectations around coming of age. Their wide bold eyes gazing for more of the world, wrapped safe from the bumps and knocks of hard cold reality.

Action Dolls

Victor and Rolf have manipulated teen chic to haute wear with Japanese fabrics, quilted collage, re- bombing the war jacket and mascot-ing with punk Doc Marten’s. The mix of low-fi with high is brilliant.

Now there are two concerns I just thought of.

First, the cultural movement towards pervasive ‘youth’ gets me reeling. Can’t culture accept the beauty of all ages? Each age has courage and insecurity, so why does the selling point have to be on the tail of ‘youth’? Let’s not forget the elderly are perfectly innocent. They are innocent to the new ways of doing things, but unfortunately they have to try and keep up all the time, instead of being seen as full in their potential and generously wise.

Secondly, injecting the youth into adult fashion might bring about an irony we really don’t want to see more of and that is more plastic surgery. Plastic re-construction for the sake of preserving youthfulness is about the fear of death, work on that people.

See more Images of Victor and Rolf couture here:

http://www.viktor-rolf.com/haute-couture/action-dolls/


GLAMOURIE

GLAMOURIE

I  came to the conclusion the other day that I often try to bridge Western and Eastern thinking and here is an occasion of that.

Bauhaus mask

Schlemmer Masks from Bauhaus stage workshop http://library.calvin.edu/hda/node/1445

Trickery is an ancient art of survival whether you are a god or a mere mortal. Rhea fooled Cronos in order to save their infant son Zeus to become an Olympian hero, Hephaestus exposed the adulterous love between his wife Aphrodite with lover Ares, Hermes stole objects from the gods for fun, so too women have had to become cunning in order to not get overpowered by male forces.

Hermes Greek Trickster God

Hermes Greek Trickster God http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Hermes.html

 

Greek Comedy and Tragedy masks

Greek Comedy and Tragedy masks http://world4.eu/roman-theatre-masks/

‘Glamourie’ is a Scottish Faery term for illusion. ‘Cast a ‘glamour’ over the senses so that things aren’t what they seem’ has become part of my inquiry into costumery, textiles, and the roles of human play in daily life. As a practitioner in the way of the arts I have become conscious of how this ancient art of ‘deceit’ is a necessary invention that keeps us in the realm of possibility. The theater of Glamourie to which I allude to is a stage that mediates between emotion and perception. Below is some visual research for the artist residency I will be attending at the Oxygen Art Center http://www.oxygenartcentre.org this December with exhibition from January 9 thru to 6th of February 2016 in Nelson, BC.

The following images show costumery from different points of view. The choices are endless so I selected a few such as an illustration of the body masking with geometry

Fashion Illustration by Danielle Meder

Fashion Illustration by Danielle Meder http://finalfashion.ca/category/illustration/

masking with anatomy

 

masking with shadow and light

masking with architecture

Architecture and costume
Architecture and costume https://secretknowledgeofspaces.wordpress.com
                      We are never complete as human individuals, this is our beauty in constant play and our path towards self-realization. In Zen Buddhism the Enso circle can be painted open or closed. If it is open then we are in progress, if the circle is painted closed, it represents perfection and perhaps full self-realization. We can recall Plato’s perfect theory of forms and his distrust in the world of appearances and constant change. To a Plato thinker a circle doesn’t exist in the physical reality of space and time only as an approximation of the real thing and which can only be known through reason. 

Greek Myths include the fairies who may have been inspired by Greek gods and goddesses. Fairies actually developed from the concept of the Fates, dance, and ritual. I wonder which ‘glamour’ will bless the artist residency in Nelson? Which of the 3 Fates or Moerae?- Clotho the spinner? Lachesis the measurer? Atropos the cutter of Life’s thread? Yikes! I have to be prepared and accept the challenge regardless of what may come to pass.

The Three Fates

The Three Fates

‘Glamourie’ is the agent that lets loose our characters that block inner freedom; an awareness that illuminates a small sword of truth in all that we are.

 

 

 

 


CINDY SHERMAN MASTERS EMPATHY

CindySherman-Beauty-1-300

CINDY SHERMAN

ARTIST CINDY SHERMAN MASTERS EMPATHY

Actress? Impersonator? Multiple Personality? Story-Teller?  Cindy Sherman grew up in the 70’s and is one of my favorites from The Pictures Generation.  She is an artist whose subject is herself portrayed as a variety of people from fairy tales, to clowns, to high society women, to historical figures, to feminine stereotypes, to men and more. While these images are photographs of herself, she is the photographer who takes them. She builds the characters through dress and becomes them in a single photograph. She takes thousands of photos before she finds the right one that says it all.

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CINDY SHERMAN

Empathy refers to the capacity of understanding, perceiving and/or feeling another from their frame of reference. Cindy Sherman isn’t living these characters she personifies in these portraits, but she is imagining a relationship of herself and them in what it must be like. This is an act of empathy that comes with story-telling. The viewer too empathizes with these characters. Is it like  ‘dress up’ at home while alone with the TV? Yes and deeper. She gives these characters a chance in their ‘moment’ to live on, to be seen as human, to see ourselves in them and our differences from them. She has admitted to feeling  compassion for these characters and when you see them here you begin to understand why. It is like watching a tragedy and a comedy at the same time.

Let’s step out of this universe for a sec…don’t humans try and try after endless defeat after defeat? Living is a constant heroic act, is it not?. How we carry our trials and tribulations comes through in the way we dress and prep ourselves for the next new day. The breasts drop, the face gets tucked and mulled by make-up, the hair gets bleached young and perfected according to cultural norms of ‘beauty’. We work hard on ourselves despite the enemy of time. Living a long life of careful grooming or a fast, robust and furious one is still a tremendous achievement.

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CINDY SHERMAN

Back to reality.

Her work is mostly untitled because she wants the viewer to create their own narratives of these individuals. This feels like a Baroque oil portrait of a woman distraught by something that has just happened. We don’t know what happened but we can invent a story from the exposed clues of her body, her beautiful lace on the shoulders, the secrecy of the closed off curtain, she is half naked, was she desired or not treated right?… She is broken, vulnerable and appears to not know what to do next. I feel sorry for her. As a feminist artist Sherman hits the nail on the head with this one. She probes tragic realities that some women face all the time.

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CINDY SHERMAN

Rock on, love it, this woman is powerful, she rules. I know those shorts, the hair, make-up, the tattoo, the nails and rings, the perked lips, the way she sits, right? I bet she doesn’t have much to call her own, but her pride is there, she knows how to survive.

Despite the criticism around her work as ‘mockery’ of typing people, to place herself as these subjects isn’t a form of mockery at all.  It is as much about Cindy Sherman as those she portrays. She is a master of transformation, of sharing the world of people through trickery and artifice. The number of wigs, noses nails and eyes not to mention clothes and accessories stored in her studio is intriguing in itself. If you get a chance watch the video below and see more.

What makes her work profound for me is the fact that I feel I have seen or know these people somehow before, even though I obviously haven’t met them in real life. Do you? a little surreal, a deja vu perhaps… This makes sense to have seen these characters before because many of us grew up inundated with media and saw all walks of life through TV, film, the news… We travel and see this variety, we live in neighborhoods with other people who are different from and similar to us, we read about human cultures in books, we see them at the beach, strip bars, dance clubs, we walk our city streets and live next to the wild and crazy person up the road, or we know someone who knows someone who introduced us to someone who looks like this etc. It is easy to recognize ourselves but it is hard to empathize with those who are different from us. Our inner judge is a strong magistrate.

 

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CINDY SHERMAN

These characters are utterances of human culture regardless of era. They are iconic. We grow up with each other and ‘know’ people who could be close to a century older than us. For Cindy Sherman how the history of human life has been presented is of equal value to current mass-media representations of human culture, she researches her sources from everywhere.

Behind the furs, and silks isn’t a cool critic that manufactures identity, she sees and feels the human in everyone.

CINDY SHERMAN ON ART 21 roughly 25 mins

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Film Costumes to never forget

Period costume of Queens

Period Costume ‘Elizabeth’- Cate Blanchett

Elizabeth

Cate Blanchett- gorgeous yellow

Fashion is often set by the costume designers in the film industry which influences a culture’s style.  Sometimes ‘Film’ hires fashion designers like Jean Paul Gautier. Here is a list of extraordinary styles that don’t fit current fashion but at the time they were made bear iconic status.

The following is worth the watch, do you agree with the pickings?

C’mon The Wizard of Oz? Really? Don’t think so people!

What’s your favorite of all time costume in film?

I might have to go with ‘to die for’ Brando’s sweaty tee…


BIRD’S EYE VIEW- birds in fashion

BIRD’S EYE VIEW

 Alexander McQueen Fall 2006 RTW, photos by Don Ashby/Style.com

Alexander McQueen Fall 2006 RTW, photos by Don Ashby/Style.com

Birds live all over the world, and have been around for millions of years. We go birding, pick up on their songs, they meet us somewhere on a hike, they pop by our house and hang out in our trees, they nest like us, live near or on the water, some hunt, dive, some feed on seeds, nectar, meat or fish. They soar, hide, lurk in the depths we most fear. Their razor sharp eyesight and sonar intelligence make them a remarkable part of the animal kingdom on this earth. And while we continue to learn about the diversity of species and their adaptive systems what impresses me most of all is that they know the skies like no other animal, or human. They are our link to a larger universe dark or bright.

alexander_mcqueen_spring_2011

Alexander McQueen

Let’s take flight for a sec…

In terms of adaptive systems, the owl’s feathering allows them to camouflage in their environments for catching prey. In image of the dress of owl feathers, the models braided hair and light skin tones would camouflage similarly against the bark of trees. ‘Dress’ acts an intermediary between human and animal.

So why am I connecting fashion with birds? Because fashion reflects human desires, and the longing for a meaningful identity. Some of us turn to religion for example to meet a larger truth of that meaning we so desperately crave, while some turn to Nature for similar understanding and connection to a larger whole of who we are. To my mind birds by nature have a ‘birds eye view’ and fly around that ‘whole’ we seek. They mediate between earth and the unknown of the sky. Fashion designers and artists alike think deeply and act on that connectivity humans need for individual security. The imagery I have chosen to share here is visibly about ‘dress’  but dress that connects us to something larger than ourselves.

Owl illustration

Extinct birds wearing fashions from the year they went extinct- Laughing Owl, 1914, Brian Williams

I am not a fan of anthropomorphism because humans often fail to see animals as they are, we imbue them with aspects of ourselves rather than seeing the animal kingdom composed of distinct species of equal valuable to us. Sometimes we don’t get the message of atrocities like ‘extinction’ unless we imagine being in the same shoes as the defeated like in this illustration above. Is extinction a natural cause in evolution? The image is wonderfully ambiguous with multiple meanings. Is the owl living in our apparel or are we sporting an owl ‘head’ a marker of acute awareness?  Perhaps ‘Empathy gap’ between bird and human might be another way to put it, but the intention I think is to connect humans to a palpable loss of freedom and the constraints of living. The paradox between freedom (the symbolic nature of a bird ) and order (wearing a suit) is indeed standing proudly here.  Oh, too often human needs impose order of many kinds dictating our precedence over the impressive beauty such as the species of ‘Laughing Owl’ and that which surrounds us.

Bird's Eye View

Bizarre Bird- fashion editorial. The dead has plumage

For fashion designers the clothes carry the narrative, the story is in the clothes, and could go something like this: A dark princess went out hunting one day and comes face to face with the death of a bird. “Is she equipped?” and “what would you do in the same scenario?”. “Would its death have any impact on you? how so?”

owl headwear

owl taxidermy

This image is priceless. Taxidermy on the head. Me thinks she is hooting.

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The photo above pertains to some of my research as art director for an OWLMAN design I am creating for a movie called Joan in Owl Land. The film is directed by Martin Castaneda https://www.facebook.com/martincastanedayabar?fref=ts with cinematographer Carlos Diaz www.crd.carbonmade.net. Feathers, long black hairy furs, dark leathers, and barks are some of my materials to inspire me.

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Woman in Photography- unknown photographer

Birds connect us to the heavens, however the following designs show a subtler current in Nature and one that revolves around human’s affliction with our psychological underworld. Our feathered friends act as messengers between our unconscious and conscious selves. Nature and humans are inextricably linked.

 

yiqing-yin-couture-fall2012-04

yiqing-yin-couture-fall2012-04

Clothing that circulates and expands into web and trap.

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Alexander McQueen

Self-destruction

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Anglomania at the Met- John Galliano

Birds that take us into mourning

 

Alexander-McQueen

Alexander McQueen- Birds of Paradise

Feathers that keep us protected, cool and detached.

7._Dress_of_dyed_ostrich_feathers_and_hand-painted_microscopic_slides_Voss_SS_2001._Model_Erin_OConnor

Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty

And feathers that make us bleed in our wounds.

To an ancient Chinese proverb:

          A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

 


ON THE STREETS

 ON THE STREETS

Street Performer Statue

Street Performer Statue

Street Magic

Dolly Mix

Dolly Mix

 Street fashion as performance

Elena Perminova

Elena Perminova

Street fashion as… the beautiful shawl (wear yours this summer ladies)

 Os Gêmeos GRAFFITI, Dewey Square, Boston, 2010

Os Gêmeos GRAFFITI, Dewey Square, Boston, 2010

street art as play and feeling

Brazilian graffiti artists

OSGEMEOS- twin brothers

…as…street culture that kinda feels like one can get squeezed out by people, and compressed into places and spaces never considered before (like the concrete silos on Granville Island in Vancouver)

London faces

London faces

 and street theater releasing the emotional intensity of living.

Street life heals the spirit. Thank god we can get wonderfully crazy.


…OF ROYALTY

Peter Breugel the Elder, 1520-69

Peter Breugel the Elder, 1520-69, The Adoration of the Magi

 

While I have just stepped into examining KINGS already there are more than a few to admire. One of my favorites is  Peter Breugel the Elder, 1520-69, The Adoration of the Magi. The Magi are presented here as individualistic, peculiar, grotesque and sophisticated all at the same time. Hieronymous Bosch lurks in the postures. They are exaggerated in an illustrative way; elongated, appearing wise and carrying peasant worn faces of the Flemish Renaissance.  Robed in their own elegant style, their dignity overrides the bustling younger community around them.  Mary caped in sky blue welcomes the 3 strangers with open arms, as she clearly knows they have traveled to Bethlehem following a miraculous star, which has lead them to this nativity scene. Jesus is indulged by their presence and smiles back at them. Their fashion flows between jester, royalty and native non-western ceremonial attire painted in the classical palette of reds, blue, van Eyck green and soft warm whites. Within the ordinary the extra-ordinary (our ‘star’)  guides us. How would you cast the remarkable in your life?

Catherine the Great of Russia

Catherine II by J.B von Lampi 1780

Voltaire called her “STAR OF THE NORTH”. Catherine the Great was a strong proponent of European culture, of art, literature, the education of women and expanded the Russian Empire in western ways. My kind of King in Queen form. Gorgeous decadent color combinations in her attire. However, in her own words on fashion “I did not make beauty or finery the source of my merit, for when one was gone, the other became ridiculous, and only character endured.”  I get it but my mum was ‘royal’ and to her from style your character was born so I will lovingly disagree.

Diego Velasquez- Philip IV in armor

Velasquez- Philip IV in armor

 Look at his unusual  luscious lips, boyish hair and significant nose! A dandy underneath hard exteriors. Mean to Jews, expelled them from France, a nepotist, not a big fan. A fabulous portrait of light, flesh and color, however. Say no more.

Ferdinand VII by Goya

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes
portraiture of the King of Spain- Ferdinand VII

Something went wrong here. Head and body aren’t connected, his flesh discolors from face to hands, feels like he hopped into some fancy clothes without showering. Can smell his odor, even. Better to have a standin. The formalities of duty call for the ‘pose’ and back to  lordship we go. The background seems unfinished, the legs of the horses on the right are cut off, perhaps two paintings merged into one? Bloated with conceit Ferdinand loves himself, a power that had to pop. Definitely disconnected from his environs. Not impressed.

Portrait of a King- by sam tk

Portrait of a wounded king- by sam  tk

So forget all the grand posturing, really, who are we kidding? I protest! Acknowledge all the wounds that lie herein, I bring thee the opportunity to face them. Yes, we are wounded by our histories, of all our failures, of all our melancholia that forced us to bore into the earth and retrieve something new over and over again. All strata of society and culture need a cathartic release from all this bruising. Let time collapse our tragic past from all kinds of domination.

Instead, let’s turn towards the royalty we are. Inhabit our grandeur within, sing to it with all our heart, let it store within us like a long lasting preserve, a delicacy of profound sweetness. Measure ourselves with the grace of the small, for they smooth all our hard edges and ask us to dance with the gods.

 

 


A King’s Matter

king at salaam boutique

King of Salaam

sensual king
a king’s matter

sacrifice the ego

the king’s chair

heads on table

heads of state

double headed
by the king’s side

sacrifice of the ego

hanging heads

 

to be headed

head features

kingliness

inside Salaam Boutique-King’s fabric-male and floral reproductive systems

 

 

KINGLINESS…

 

by Sam TK

Kingliness is the beginning to a larger art installation that examines the myths and roles of sacred ancient Kings. The King hero is a model of a behavioral code that exists in all of us as a kind of ruler or director of operations. He/She (Queen) is associated with how we manage power inside and outside of ourselves. Royalty of this kind is not be identified with, rather we align ourselves to their positive energy. When our egos seek to dominate over someone, community or land’ our sacred ruler in its healthiest state of being influences benevolently. Harmony flows as we act in accord with our environment. If our sovereignty falls ill with grandiosity then chaos ensues, our communities and earth become a wasteland. Thus the dark ruler in us as legends teach us necessitates transformation towards humility, wholeness and knowledge of ordinary life.

Kingliness is my inner image of a king- a mythic perspective of male identity and one that seeks to bring forth a sensual, elegant, masterful energy in our physical and psychological selves. His energy expression is not of a patriarchal order for he cares not to lord over others or destroy that of our environment.

I have hand silkscreened imagery on fine silk/cotton of male and floral reproductive systems. They are interwoven into primordial patterns; a mix of biology, and botany in textile production.

Weaving the human with the patterns of nature roots us with the lush and fecund earth, in our hearts and imaginations.

 

 


RED GLAMOR

 

For some reason I have been drawn to the power of red in garments. It exudes boldness, vibrancy and being such a passionate color it invariably arouses some physiological response in the viewer. Seeing red anywhere on the body will inspire a head spin and make me wonder of the attempted courageousness  the person sporting the flare confidently has. IMG_1709

Clothing is often about self-enhancement. Sometimes our personalities want to blend in with the crowd and other times we want to jazz up our social circle and attract distinction. I have never seen two people wearing red together down the street. If anyone has please send in a picture to me, samtk37@me.com.  Below is a hollywood actress wearing a red hat combo which as the artist I added to intensify the pose. Can you guess who she is? You will earn a free scoodie if you guess right!

FASHION ON STAGE

On stage or behind the scenes

 

 

S’AMUSE scoodies here are made out of red tencel a bio degradable fabric that is super light and easy to wear.IMG_1710

Red headdress

Man with the Red Turban-1433, Jan Van Eyck

Now in Jan Van Eyck’s painting he is wearing what the French call a chaperon which is a kind of hooded head gear that evolved in style from the middle ages onwards. One can see the versatility there is in having a hood or in my case a S’AMUSE scoodie because you can wrap it up in a turban like manner as seen above. This is one of my favourite portraits and obviously nothing that I have ever done comes close to its greatness, but I like to think we can still see the ‘new’ over and over again in works of the great masters. This red is sensually rich like a deep burgundy wine, of velvet warmth and serious power…not easy to mix on a palette let alone express as fabric. Next time you want to wear red on your head maybe you will recall Jan Van Eyck or better yet on a lighter note my red tencel scoodies!


CLASSIC HEAD DRESSING

Albrecht Durer's hats

Albrecht Durer self portrait 1498. CREAM AND BLACK attire carries a timelessness

Audrey Hepburn in a famous head dress

Audrey Hepburn in a Royal ascot head dress. Black and white stripes never go out of style.

This is a fantastic work of art seen at the Royal Ascot Horse race. Its breath, structure and material is mind boggling.
This is a fantastic work of art seen at the Royal Ascot Horse race. Its breath, structure and material is mind boggling. Similar to fireworks it descends from the sky.

Classic Marlene Dietrich

Classic Marlene Dietrich sculptured with head wear.

Divine

Divine

Below are photos of Sam Talbot-Kelly’s work titled ‘Le Popess’ posted on www.samtalbotkelly.com

Le Popess is a character invented to show off a kind of authority.  She is a composer who assumes great authority in her craft. Overly serious most of the time and bent on being a true master of making dreams come true she thinks of ways to wield her power. Funnily enough her power is strongest when she lets go of her pride and fixed sense of solemness.

Le Popess is a character invented to show off a kind of authority. She is an eccentric composer who takes her craft of music and dance like she is responsible for the whole world. Overly serious most of the time and bent on being a true master of making dreams come true she thinks of ways to wield her power. Funnily enough her power is strongest when she lets go of her pride and fixed sense of solemness.

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I bet we all have at least 10 hats that we wear throughout the year, no? The same goes for scarves too of course. Hats put us in moods and we wear specific hats that reflect our moods. SOmetimes we want to be seen other occasions we want a little “je ne sais quoi” to light us up or we want to make a clear statement.  The head signifies a distinct area of our identity. Head wear states where our psyche is at while framing our faces which in wonderful ways differs for everyone. Here Le Popess is wearing a hat that is made out of ruffles made from old men’s shirts and old costumes. If she isn’t ordaining creativity, and stealing resources she is often in the woods as a ballerina.