We Get Our Armor from Everywhere


















GLAMOURie performance exhibition January 2016

I am nostalgic around an exhibition I created early this year from my residency at Oxygen Art Center in Nelson, BC.  I thought I would share some of the performance that came out at that time. I created the set, directed and choreographed the movement and momentary stills of the performance called Glamourie. You can visit the intentions of the concept here-http://www.samtalbotkelly.com/news.php.

Artist: Sam Talbot-Kelly

Fantastic creatives: Architect and dancer Thomas Loh, Teyana Neufeld, Lynn Dragone, Ho Soon Yeen along with a giant teddy bear were the performers wearing specific costumes who bump into each other on a dilapidated, topsy turvy, insecure ‘vessel’.  Ships and vessels are typically with ends at the bow and stern. My ‘ship’ had signs of foreboding and comfort, dark and light, stable and insecure at either ends. The narrative wasn’t visually linear with characters moving in and out of space from a beginning act to an ending act. Rather the performance was happening before the audience knew it was happening. These characters pre-existed in the entire space before the audience came in, as if they inhabited it for an uncertain amount of time, as seemingly unrelated people with random connection. The audience stumbled into their space of ‘happening’ and together performers, audience, time and space collapse into a collective ‘real time’.

The  ‘vessel’ set jutted out on a diagonal from one corner and extended over to the opposite corner. The center of the vessel found the characters colliding and culminated into a vortex of uncertainty. None of the four knew what to expect from the other, none of the four knew if they could trust one another. They circled together ambiguously without trajectory, without destination, without fully knowing who each other were, yet the attraction to pull through and out of the culminating maelstrom peak was strong. A reliance on instinct came upon them, on that which they couldn’t perceive, not of each other’s powers but on some oblique acceptance and perhaps responsibility to that which is beyond themselves.


The Haunting Gottfried Helnwein

Gottfried Helnwein

Gottfried Helnwein

Gottfried Helnwein blows me away. An oil painter in photorealism, he strikes to a core. The technical and conceptual brilliance of his work is utterly married together and phenomenal. When I think of the word ‘inspiration’ I tend to think of other words like ‘upbeat, positive, encouraging, adventurous…’ but examining the character of his aesthetic I am inspired to get pretty damn real about life, like let’s not waste time here. He hits me hard. I love it.

 Now, I have stared at Picasso’s Guernica, 1937  http://www.pablopicasso.org/guernica.jsp  and Ruben’s Massacre of the Innocents, 1612 http://artmatters.ca/wp/tag/massacre-of-the-innocents/   and wept about our beastliness, and inhumanity. No joke, those works are powerful. This is different. The feeling of goose bumps move from skin to way way way back inside me and scorches the tips of what I also know to be human: anxiety, physical suffering, fear, victimization. Helnwein brings this kind of emotional reality into a concrete…WOW.

Gottfried Helnwein

Gottfried Helnwein

Helwein’s creative gaze captures innocence, loss, powerlessness, unrest, the ‘un-protected’ by forces of safety. When I first saw his work I immediately thought of my daughter. So right there, my insides were turned.  It is like I can see something in the young girl from my own body, to the effect of  ‘ surrender to what I can’t control, a kind of abandonment of will and maybe something will keep me alive’ kind of feeling. I began to probe that maybe the instinct to survive comes in the exact moment after the loss, or victimized feeling that washes over the body?…whatever that feeling is…HOLY CR&^%&!


Gottfried Helnwein

Inexplicable torture – Is this to feel? to penetrate numbness? Our culture does a very good job at keeping us trapped in a kind of delirium. Contemporary artist Paul McCarthy defines that for us in his filmic installations. The psychological terror here scares the heck out of me when these expressions stare back. It’s pretty darn literal.

Gottfried Helnwein hyperrealism

Gottfried Helnwein

The purity and then it leaves…

Gottfried Helnwein- The Child series

Gottfried Helnwein

When I see and feel this image I think of- “If I close my eyes maybe the pain will all go away. I just want to not see for a sec…” and ” maybe I can wish for help to come …”

Gottfried Helnwein

Gottfried Helnwein

A dark dark presence to reckon with and at the same time there might be a way out…?

Gotta take a breath here. Whoosh!

Below is to show you the ‘average’ scale of his work. Pretty flippin’ large.


Gottfried Helnwein

The artist himself. He is Austrian born, now an Irish citizen, studios in Los Angeles and Ireland, and lives in a castle with his large family. His models are family members. He paints, does costume and theater design, installation works, performance, a draftsman…

He is more than goth, he is Gothic.


Photo Gottfried Helnvein

Up close to Gottfried Helnvein-


Fashion’s Ode to Serra

Men clad in Owens

Boys in Owens collection

Impenetrable, unstoppable, black is power- fantastic


 As soon as I saw Rick Owens fashion collections I immediately thought of the work of artist Richard Serra. So today I thought I would share my visual connections between them. There is something menacing in both genres. Is it the use of Serra’s black voids in stark space? Is it his immense steel barriers that trap our sense of scale? Is it Owen’s black solids covering the entire human form? Is it the quantity of black fabric that traps us into a state of claustrophobia? In both cases space, shape, cuts, angles, material, and color are all playing with our perception, our fears and an unease. Kinda scary, right? But the apparent danger is thrilling too. Interacting with Serra’s work an adrenaline rush fills in, a feeling of the unknown. Projecting with Owen’s work we imagine our own ability to embody an over-sized attitude to take the unfamiliar all on.

Richard Serra on a wall

Painting  by Richard Serra- way larger than human size. Of cuts and darts, asymmetrical


thresholds to oblivion, we are vessels of nothingness

Richard Serra black space

the architecture of space- Richard Serra

…unending corridors, dead end spaces (above)

Blocks that provide redemption (Drawing by Serra below)


The body can extend into many shapes, a suit of armor, we ‘do’ offensively…

Rick Owens female class

Torques, contortions and an intentional falling line


Enclosing circuitous space with Serra (Core-ten steel above) and opening a round space of the body with Rick Owen’s women’s collection. (below)

Cuts that cover

Rick Owens for women

Locked in or out (Serra below)


The allure of geometry interrupting space, corner gives way, its a black descent.

Richard Serra moves into the corner

 Disappearing, a human goes underground, to renew, and bring back a blank slate …

A chalked human-Rick Owens

Obsolete textile- Rick Owens

Perceiving rectangular voids, black vertical openings and structuring space- Richard Serra

  Perceiving space - Richard Serra

Wearing a ‘Serra space’ (below), Owen’s vertical solids

 Symmetry is more with Rick Owens

Transformative, loose, strong and flexible…

 Rick Owens head to toe

Rick Owen’s solid black 2014

 Love the materials, love the surge of energy, love the dark encounters…