An interview with Makoto Aida

Makoto Aida’s name is unavoidable when researching work that opposes consumption in Japanese culture. Aswel as being featured in “Bye Bye Kitty: Between Heaven and Hell in contemporary Japanes art” he is a key figure in the Japanese art scene, and his name appears everywhere.

This is an Interview with Makoto Aida from the Bye Bye Kitty exhibition

It’s interesting that Makoto Aida considers himself as a “Conceptual Artist” rather than a painter, his work does cross over multiple platforms.

When asked about his depiction of young girls he says…
“I believe there is an abundance of problematic points in the current generation of Japanese society and Japanese mentality”

“In a simpler manner there is one reason; after Japan lost the war Japanese people became people who were left without fatherly and patriarchal existences. This includes the fact that the Japanese Self-Defence Forces are not a proper army… I believe that there haven’t been many incidents in history where a nation has been in such denial of masculinity and become so feminine. Wether for better or worse, maybe if the whole world were Japan it would be in peace”

“I want to further expose Japans twisted parts”

“I would like people to know there are many active artists out there other than just Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.”

I want to look more into Makoto Aida’s photographs, although he isn’t as well known for them as his paintings, they intrigue me and a I want to know more.

https://i0.wp.com/beautifuldecay.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/photo02-sma_l.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/www.buamai.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/kc4.jpg
Left photo, “Body Painting with Koe in Stockholm” 2004

Right photo, “Girls Don’t Cry” 2004

Aida eschews irony to delve into the underbelly of his country’s booming culture industry; he exposes the edges where the fabric unravels to reveal something else — not quite an alternative, but a glimpse of something unsettling, reminding us that all is not well below the shiny happy surface.” – http://beautifuldecay.com/2009/03/25/makoto-aida/ March 25, 2009 by 

There is a documentaru about Makoto Aida in which he is followed around. It’s called….

Makoto Aida: Cynic in the Playground

This is the trailer, I will be ordering the DVD soon and writing up a review.

Interview with Jonezy

Today I had my interview with Jonezy, it was a great conversations and I really enjoyed learning about his experience as an Otaku. Obviously this audio needs editing, this is the original version.

He also sent me some extra photos, and is working on a 360 photo of his room for me.

The great thing about our conversation is that we had similar experiences and after I had run out of questions we kept on talking for a while.

Chris Floyd

Here are my belated notes on Chris Floyd’s lecture for Phonar. Which you can watch below.

Key Quotes:

In hindsight these moments were big steps for me

They asked me to go and shoot the band who were releasing their first single, they were called Oasis.

Bowie – the first shoot I had a clear creative direction.

Wish I had the guts to tell Bowie to put on some different clothes.

Influenced by Tina Barney… upper-class Americans in their homes, very detached.

©Tina Barney

Tina Barney – A form of constructed reality, taking what those people are like and putting it on steroids. Highlighting it.

The most important thing you should do is find your own voice as a photographer, everyone is influenced by someone who came before them.

Take all influences, put it in a pot, mix it up and you come out with something of your own.

Started to learn how to utilise the setting in hand, rather than trying to cover it up.

I’ve really enjoyed listening to this lecture, mostly because I was taken on his journey, thing’s didn’t come easily and he’s been on shoots that didn’t turn out the way he liked and that’s something established photographers don’t really talk about, they don’t like to admit their flaws.

duckrabbit

In the exploration of photofilms I couldn’t not look at duckrabbit, a prestigious company who produce short photofilms that don’t use distracting angles and moving image to evoke an image, they rely on the power of the story and the combination of photo’s and audio.

The video above in particular moved me, naturally such an emotional story would hold anyone’s attention but the way duckrabbit have composed the film is stunning and reflects upon the stories emotion. We are never offered the traditional interview scenario, where we watch a subject speak. At times we hear the mother talking but we see her crying, as though she is reflecting in two ways on her experience, both verbally and physically. The way this story is told within such a short amount of time is outstanding, I could have watched an hour long channel 4 documentary and not have been that engaged with the story. I also love the fact there is no narrative voice as such, just text, it made me feel as though I was the one talking to her, the text was entering my mind subliminally and offering me facts, whereas the spoken dialogue was offering me emotion and feeling.

This second video uses similar techniques to tell the story of a Muslim community living in Sweden who feel as though they have become second class and prejudged. The use of images of everyday activities, like school, dancing and playing reinforce the idea that they are normal citizens, there is nothing strange about them.

duckrabbit’s use of still and sound take their work so much further than a slideshow and inform more of a film approach, at times you forget you aren’t watching a moving image.

www.duckrabbit.info

Robbie Cooper at Phonar

We were very honoured to have Robbie Cooper come to speak to our class on wednesday. In the usual Phonar format Robbie’s lecture was recorded.

I had contacted Robbie Cooper the day earlier and asked if I could interview him after his lecture as I wanted to gather an idea of the process he undertook when creating “Alter Ego”. The decision was made that it would benefit everyone if I did this during class, so after the lecture we had a Q&A session which was recorded, and here it is.

The questions came from myself, Nick Henley-Smith & Oliver Sharpe.

It was great to talk to a photographer who is also interested with cultures which might be considered “weird”, Cooper said he was particularly interested in worlds that existed in real time, unlike RPG games like sims that boot up when you log on, a lot of online games are still going on when you aren’t even on them.

I had seen Cooper’s work a couple of year ago and had noticed the similarities in framing and colour particular in his “Alter Ego” series, I would never have guessed that this was influenced by Bernd and Hilla Becher…

©Berd and Hilla Becher
©Robbie Cooper

In his later work, ‘Immersion’ Cooper explores human interaction with a computer screen, this idea came from his experience of being in conversation with someone whilst they were fixated on the TV or their laptop. The interesting this is the way in which Cooper made his subjects feel comfortable. His sister was cooking all day long hoping the homely smell would relax the subject, he also ensured the camera was hidden, so although the subject knew they were bing filmed, they might eventually forget about it and relax.

You can see Robbie Coppers work here.

www.robbiecooper.org

Brian Palmer Talk

Here are my lecture notes for Brian Palmer’s Talk with phonar. It’s a really interesting story.

Hear the talk here phonar.covmedia.co.uk

And here are my notes….

  1. DaisyWareJarret
    #phonar conversation with #BrianPalmer my stories were people based stories.

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:26:27
  2. DaisyWareJarret
    in 2002 I left CNN, being in front of the camera isn’t really where I wanted to be #BrianPalmer #phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:31:00
  3. mimchs
    “Digital was transforming the landscape.” Brian Palmer #phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:31:51
  4. DaisyWareJarret
    The American market had much less of an apetite for pictures of daily life stories under occupation #BrianPalmer #phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:33:07
  5. DaisyWareJarret
    “the bang bang” – war photography in america through #BrianPalmer’s eyes #phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:34:53
  6. DaisyWareJarret
    I’m not doing the story america wants. We want is good vs bad, my work was more about 24 year olds interacting with civilians #phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:38:00
  7. DaisyWareJarret
    I couldn’t develop the story in the time. So by the 3rd trip I was shooting mostly video. #phonar #BrianPalmer

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:40:20
  8. DaisyWareJarret
    I have a responsibility to tell the story as well as I can. But I’m not perfect. #Phonar #Iraq #BrianPalmer

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:41:34
  9. GeneaBailey
    #phonar brian palmer passed up on a 1/4 of £1 million deal because he wouldn’t have a say in what happened to his work

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:41:19
  10. Jenniz8
    When you sign over your footage you sign over your rights #phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:40:55
  11. DaisyWareJarret
    Producers are conscious of audience, you end up with mainstream journalism that doesn’t challenge and is almost self congratulatory #phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:44:17
  12. DaisyWareJarret
    useful = conscious of the needs of the people i’m writing about. These are people that are more than consumers #BrianPalmer #Phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:45:53
  13. DaisyWareJarret
    We were documenting political theatre. The essence is to be transparent about the agreements that you form. #BrianPalmer #phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:50:30
  14. DaisyWareJarret
    Transparency. Integrity. Independence. #TheKey #BrianPalmer #Phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:50:49
  15. DaisyWareJarret
    Since I could not eat my integrity it was not a nutritious meal. I had to learn from others. #BrianPalmer #Phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:52:39
  16. hlnbck
    pick your apples, don’t wait for them to fall! #Phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:51:56
  17. DaisyWareJarret
    Sitting in peoples living rooms made the story, not just gathering quotes. The story has to develop organically. #Phonar #BrianPalmer

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:59:01
  18. DaisyWareJarret
    To tell someones story you need to show up and have respect. #BrianPalmer #Phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 01:59:51
  19. DaisyWareJarret
    I don’t just want to find out who this guy was, I want to write him and his community back into history. #FamilyHistory #BrianPalmer #Phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 02:02:47
  20. riajoynes
    understanding the history really helps to connect to the narrative. #phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 02:02:10
  21. DaisyWareJarret
    Being property (slaves), Owning property, Having it taken away. Extraordinary exploration into #BrianPalmer’s Family History #Phonar

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 02:04:01
  22. O_Sharpe
    #phonar talk. Brian Palmer. looking for UK based practitioners to track down owners of his great granddad

    Wed, Nov 14 2012 02:03:57

Brian Palmer’s story is a really strong yet sensitive one, and exploration into his own family could open up many doors, wether they be good or bad. I love the idea that going to physically interact with your subject takes the story to a more intimate level.

Madonna

I thought it would be really hard to find articles or videos relating to Madonna (the pop star) and religion, but apparently not, by typing into google Madonna and religion, she is all that comes up. Literally. Does this show how celebrities have become more important than religion in our society? probably. Here is some stuff i’ve found regarding Madonna and religion.


This video is taken from 2006 and shows Madonna talking about why she chose Kabbalah and why she thinks people don’t like it.

The Religious Affiliation of Pop Singer, Actress, Madonna

a snippet from an essay which can be found here

“From: Gary Strauss, “Stars unleash their passion”, published in USA Today, 4 July 2005 (http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2005-07-04-celebs-religion_x.htm; viewed 21 November 2005):

What happens when a Hollywood star spouts off about religion?

…The relationship between celebrities and religion can be mutually beneficial. “Religious groups clearly feel having a celebrity endorsement helps give pizazz and credibility, just like any product that benefits from a celebrity endorser,” says Steve Waldman, editor ofbeliefnet.com, a multi-faith and spiritual Web site. “It’s particularly true with Scientology or Kabbalah.”

…There has been little apparent fallout on others who are vocal about their not-so-mainstream religious beliefs. Madonna is an advocate of Kabbalism. Her embrace of the mystical Jewish movement seemingly has no effect on her singing career. Her film career is more affected by a string of box-office failures (The Next Best Thing, Swept Away).

“In film entertainment, she’s not taken seriously,” Speier says.”

This is a great video which talks about how religion is like a trend to Madonna and once everyone follows her trend she changes it.

WATCH IT HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David LaChapelle ‘The Church of David LaChapelle’

WORDPRESS APRIL 18, 2011

A lot of Christians might feel shocked when they first encounter the work of David LaChapelle. A renowned photographer and film-maker, LaChapelle is equally ranked among The Top Ten Most Important People in Photography in the World by American Photo as he is sometimes scornfully called the king of ‘kitsch’ or, bluntly, of ‘bad taste’ by his adversaries. The artist isn’t too proud to answer his critics:

“I use pop imagery – that’s my vocabulary; glamour and beauty is my vocabulary. They get angry when you use pop imagery (the things that are accessible) to talk about anything other than the completely superficial. And you know what? Let ‘em be angry … I’m into narrative and clarity. I’m not into obscurity. I’m not into people having to read and research – I’m just into the title, and the image, and the image being the language. If people don’t want to take ten seconds to look at a picture and put it together, I can’t help that, but I stand by it and I love it. And I will keep doing it. And I ain’t going away.” (Taken from an interview for Dazed and Confused, March 2010, by Anna Carnick).

LaChapelle’s work displays a tremendous knowledge and admiration of western art’s history, and is peppered with Christian symbolism and imagery, as is shown especially by the ‘Jesus is My Homeboy’ and ‘American Jesus’ series.
The American Jesus series revolves around images of Michael Jackson (a lookalike that is), depicted in various Biblical and even typically Catholic scenes. If some Christians already find these questionable or offensive, they will really get irritated by the image entitled ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, which features a papal figure sitting on a throne before a pile of dead, naked men. The photographer seems to easily condemn the Catholic Church. However, when asked about his intentions behind his particular treatment of forms of corruption within the Church, LaChapelle answers with wit and nuance:

“I’m not condemning the Catholic Church — it’s too big, it’s like condemning a nation and that would be prejudiced. But what I’m doing here is pointing out an irony: Here you have an institution that has systematically protected pedophile priests and then you have an innocent Michael Jackson, who California spent millions of dollars trying to prosecute and could not do it because it was complete bulls–t.” (Taken from an interview for WWD, issue 07/13/2010, by Amanda Fitzsimons).
Moreover, LaChapelle has no problems whatsoever referring to his Catholic upbringing (the quote is taken from the same interview for WWD):
“I still go to church occasionally. I went the other day and found peace. I had this duality growing up with my dad being a strict Catholic and his brother being a priest and my mother finding God in nature, so I’ve taken a little from both [traditions].”

http://s0.videopress.com/player.swf?v=1.03

From the point of view of his Christian background, it’s no coincidence that LaChapelle has developed a special interest for two groups of people in particular: rich and famous celebrities on the one hand, and economically deprived young people on the other. His preoccupation with the Christ figure has led him to some enthralling insights. Those familiar with mimetic theory will find them fascinating as well.
I’m glad to share David LaChapelle’s views in the following two sections.

1. The sacrificial celebrity cults as producers of modern day ‘scapegoat-gods’
The biblical writings unanimously reject phenomena like gossip and the spread of false rumors about other people. Already one of the ten commandments forbids ‘to give false testimony against a neighbor’ (Exodus 20:16).
Those who gossip – and we are all tempted to do so from time to time – create alliances based on the exclusion of the one who is gossiped about. The Book of Proverbs warns for the seductive nature of voyeurism, and its destructive, dehumanizing consequences. People shouldn’t deliver themselves too easily to the delights of gossip:
Remove perverse speech from your mouth; keep devious talk far from your lips. (Proverbs 4:24).
The north wind brings forth rain, and a gossiping tongue brings forth an angry look. (Proverbs 25:23).
Where there is no wood, a fire goes out, and where there is no gossip, contention ceases. Like charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious person to kindle strife. The words of a gossip are like delicious morsels; they go down into a person’s innermost being. Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. The one who hates others disguises it with his lips, but he stores up deceit within him. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations within him. Though his hatred may be concealed by deceit, his evil will be uncovered in the assembly. The one who digs a pit will fall into it; the one who rolls a stone – it will come back on him. A lying tongue hates those crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:20-28).

http://s0.videopress.com/player.swf?v=1.03

A gossiped-about person is either spoken of in unrealistically praiseful terms, or, on the contrary, in a non-proportional degrading way. In other words, gossiped-about persons become the ‘sacred’ glue that hold certain communities together. The gossiped-about persons become divinized idols or equally deceitfully presented demonized ‘monsters’. David LaChapelle, inspired by his Christian background, clearly understands these mechanisms, as is demonstrated in an interview with digital magazine Nowness:
It is definitely true that celebrities are our modern day gods and goddesses, and we build them up and tear them down.
Madonna has been torn down. Michael Jordan has been torn down. Michael Jackson was destroyed. Like no other person in our times. You have to remember that Michael Jackson was innocent. He was proved innocent in our courts. If you read the transcripts of the trial it is insanity, it should never have gone to court. We spent tens of millions of dollars to prosecute him when we don’t have money for schools in California.

Why is that?
Not because he was a celebrity but because he looked different. He was obsessive about privacy and it made him “other,” it made him different, and he went from being the most famous, most beloved singer to the most reviled, joked about—he couldn’t open a newspaper without reading horror stories about himself.
Judeo Christian Scripture unveils and denounces the mechanisms by which a human being’s true, imperfect ‘black-and-white’ nature is sacrificed for the sake of an unreal ‘image’. David LaChapelle saw this happening to Michael Jackson (in the aforementioned interview with WWD):

WWD: Why did you choose to photograph Michael in a variety of religious scenes?
David LaChapelle: Michael had paintings of himself at Neverland depicting himself as a knight and surrounded by cherubs and angels. People might think he’s an egomaniac, but he’s not. It’s because the world turned against him. I mean, Michael couldn’t even get B-listers to show up for the second trial. [With these pictures he’s saying] “I’m not the joke and the horror the media is making me out to be.”
WWD: Michael stars in the show’s title piece “American Jesus.” Do you believe him to be a modern-day Jesus?
D.L.: I believe Michael in a sense is an American martyr. Martyrs are persecuted and Michael was persecuted. Michael was innocent and martyrs are innocent. If you go on YouTube and watch interviews with Michael, you don’t see a crack in the facade. There’s this purity and this innocence that continued [throughout his life]. If it had been an act, he couldn’t have kept it up. If you watch his [1992] concerts from Budapest and compare it to a Madonna concert of today, you’ll see such uplifting beauty and a message that you won’t see in any other artist of our time.

In the interview with the aforementioned Nowness LaChapelle goes even further and states:
We persecuted Michael Jackson. Every person who ever bought a tabloid or watched the news, we all contributed to his death by taking in that form of gossip.
The Bible is concerned with ‘truth’ and takes sides with the wrongfully presented and the wrongfully accused persons – the scapegoats! The prophet Isaiah calls out to the people of Israel:
“You must remove the burdensome yoke from among you and stop pointing fingers and speaking sinfully.” (Isaiah 58:9b).
Jesus, the one who is called the Christ, even goes so far as to bless the victims of gossip and false rumors:
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me.” (Matthew 5:11).

It is no coincidence then that the easily gossiped-about persons in the Jewish community at the time of the New Testament, like prostitutes or the infamous tax collectors, are among Christ’s favorites. He shares meals with these ‘sinners’, like with the tax collector Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Even one of his apostles – Levi or ‘Matthew’ – is known to be a former tax collector (Luke 5:27-39).
The apostle Paul asks us to transform our imitative, mimetic abilities in order to become ‘children of God’. Instead of reinforcing processes of victimization by imitating the ones who gossip and ‘point fingers’, he asks us to become ‘imitators of Christ’. Christ is the One who was eventually sacrificed, because he completely delivered himself to Compassion:
Be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. […] There should be no vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting – all of which are out of character – but rather thanksgiving. For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:1-5).

Christ completely imitated and ‘incarnated’ his ‘Father’ – a Love which ‘refuses sacrifice and desires mercy’ – see for instance Matthew 9:13. Therefore Christ could not defend himself by starting some sort of ‘civil war’, because that would imply sacrifices of others. In any case, Christ doesn’t want us to be suicidal, but he is very much aware of the risks in taking sides with the excluded and the outcasts. It might mean that these become members of the community again, but it might also have as a consequence that the outcast’s defender is excluded oneself and that he ‘has to take up his cross’ to be ‘crucified’. Christ’s preference for the victims of gossip and rumors indeed often meant he himself became gossiped-about. Nevertheless, he kept approaching people like tax collectors in liberating ways. Many a victim of gossip, like these tax collectors at the time of Jesus, imitates the reasoning of his attackers and thinks it’s ‘part of the deal’ of being a ‘celebrity’. Jesus points out that people shouldn’t accept being gossiped about by the self-declared ‘righteous’ and ‘elected’:

Jesus told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’ I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14).

2. The ‘richness’ of ‘poor’ people and the ‘poverty’ of the ‘rich’
Jesus distinguishes two kinds of motivations to give (of) oneself: there are those who give and sacrifice in order to receive some kind of ‘reward’, and there are those who give in order to let others come to life. The first are the real ‘poor people’ in the eyes of Jesus because they worryingly adhere and enslave themselves to ‘material’, ‘worldly’ things like ‘wealth’ or ‘social status’. They also have the ‘mimetic’ (i.e. imitative) tendency to enviously compare themselves to others and to compete with their thus conceived ‘enemies’ in order to ‘rise above’ them. In the above mentioned parable, Jesus denounces this mechanism wherein people not only sacrifice themselves to a deceitful self-image, but also sacrifice others in presenting them in an equally deceitful and degrading way. Real richness, according to Jesus, comes with those who develop a realistic, ‘truthful’ view about themselves and who are able to give whatever they received:
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4).

David LaChapelle pays particular attention to this kind of unconditional life bringing and therefore community enhancing way of ‘giving’ in his film Rize. Therein socially and economically deprived youngsters aren’t reduced to their situation, but are shown as talented people who are able to rebuild their communities in new, joyful and colorful ways. They really are ‘Church builders’, able to ‘give back’ inspired by the love they experience from each other. From the point of view of mimetic theory, their dancing not only ritualizes mimetic rivalry and restrains violence, but it also celebrates the grateful experience of life itself. Here’s what the synopsis of the film has to say:
“Rize” reveals a groundbreaking dance phenomenon that’s exploding on the streets of South Central, Los Angeles. Taking advantage of unprecedented access, this documentary film brings to first light a revolutionary form of artistic expression borne from oppression. The aggressive and visually stunning dance modernizes moves indigenous to African tribal rituals and features mind-blowing, athletic movement sped up to impossible speeds. “Rize” tracks the fascinating evolution of the dance: we meet Tommy Johnson (Tommy the Clown), who first created the style as a response to the 1992 Rodney King riots and named it “Clowning”, as well as the kids who developed the movement into what they now call Krumping. The kids use dance as an alternative to gangs and hustling: they form their own troupes and paint their faces like warriors, meeting to outperform rival gangs of dancers or just to hone their skills. For the dancers, Krumping becomes a way of life – and, because it’s authentic expression (in complete opposition to the bling-bling hip-hop culture), the dance becomes a vital part of who they are.

Like “Paris is Burning” or “Style Wars” before it, “Rize” illuminates an entire community by focusing on an artform as a movement that the disenfranchised have created. But the true stars of the film are the dancers themselves: surrounded by drug addiction, gang activity, and impoverishment, they have managed to somehow rise above. The film offers an intimate, completely fresh portrayal of kids in South Central as they reveal their spirit and creativity. These kids have created art – and often family – where before there was none.

It is evident that the young dancers are able to found communities in non-exclusive ways. In this way, they really are building the Church – the Community – Jesus dreamt of:
Realizing THOMAS ”TOMMY THE CLOWN” JOHNSON had become a positive role model for the kids in South Central, he created the Battle Zone to provide an alternative outlet for the kids in the community to battle it out on the dance floor instead of on the streets. In 2003, Tommy the Clown’s Battle Zone hosted a sold-out performance at the Los Angeles Forum. Tommy continues the battles every third Saturday of every month at Debbie Allen Dance Academy – a non-profit dance studio where kids from the community can learn all forms of dance training. Tommy the Clown emerged as a community icon and was asked to be a spokesperson for Governor Gray Davis’ Census Campaign which involved outreach to schools, neighborhood questionnaire assistance centers and statewide agencies which succeeded with the highest mail-in response rates in four decades. He formed strategic partnerships with counties and cities, all while delivering smiles and laughter. […] Truly an entertainer for all ages, Tommy the Clown’s mission is to reach out to communities across the world that are in need of a positive alternative lifestyle.

DRAGON was born Jason Green in Frankfurt on November 2, 1981. A military baby, he spent his initial years living throughout Germany, his very first in a hospital, the result of being born prematurely. His family eventually moved to California and settled in Compton. Dragon first crossed paths with Tommy the Clown while dancing for Platinum Clowns, a rival clown group, in competition. Dancing since the age of 19, Dragon has appeared in such music videos as Blink 182′s “I’m Feelin’ It,” and in various awards shows including the Choreographer Awards and the 2005 NAACP Awards. Outside of the Clowning world, Dragon is also an accomplished artist whose experience spans across fashion design, the graphic arts, multi-media, airbrushing, and comic book art. Now residing in Carson, CA, Dragon is currently studying to be a minister. He rediscovered the church after years of distancing himself from it, only to realize how truly unhappy he was with his life. Dragon now believes that the principles our nation was established upon – religion, principle, respect – have been compromised by our drive for material things which have no true value. Through the church, he hopes to someday help others find their own spiritual foundation for a happy life.

TIGHT EYEZ, real name Ceasare Willis, is one of the founders of Krumping. He created the Krump movement in 2000 with his brothers and Lil C and Mijo. While living in New York, Tight Eyez dreamed of launching a dance that would get everyone “hyped up.” He soon moved to Los Angeles and founded Clown dancing, which thereafter evolved into Krumping. He went on to perform with many clown groups before finally meeting and joining creative forces with Tommy the Clown. Tight Eyez has turned his life over to God and changed his life through Jesus. He uses the Krump movement to help young people in faith to change their lives. His goal is to establish his own Krump Organization, of which he would be the CEO, and hopes to open schools for youth to dance, exercise their talent and utilize their inner gifts. Hopefully, by the age of 23…

Christian Jones, a/k/a BABY TIGHT EYEZ, was born and raised in the Church. His grandfather was the founder of the Christian Tabernacle of Love, Faith and Deliverance, and his Aunt is now Pastor of Christian Tabernacle Ministries. After his grandfather passed on in 1998, he took up the organ, which he plays at services. Baby Tight Eyez learned how to Krump dance at the heels of Tight Eyez, Lil C, Mijo, and Dragon, and considers them among his closest friends in the Krump movement. When he is not dancing, he loves to hang with his homies. His goal is to launch a big dance studio where everyone could Krump for free. He would also like to buy his pastors a new church. He hopes to give back to those who do not have, to give back to his neighborhood, to give those who are as he once was.
I compiled a film with some of the documentary’s testimonies, and combined them with fragments of pop diva Madonna‘s 2006 Confessions Tour. I know that her allusion to the crucifixion of Christ – as shown at the ending of this compilation – stirred a lot of controversy, but I hope people are ableto see it as an artistic commentary on what happens when deprived people are given voice and rediscover their dignity: it means that the love of Christ, Christ himself, is in our midst. Although some of the youngsters explain their life story in a sacrificial way (in the sense of ‘I had to endure what happened to me to receive a rewarding insight or gift’ – the Nietzschean ‘What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger’ type of explanation), above all they try to ‘enlighten’ the world with their dance talents. These are really ‘tales of resurrection’ wherein the gift of life is passed on to others.

On a personal note, I’d like to end this post by thanking Mr. LaChapelle for allowing me the use of his Intervention picture for the cover of my book Vrouwen, Jezus en rock-’n-roll – Met René Girard naar een dialoog tussen het christelijk verhaal en de populaire cultuur. I truly consider it an honor.

By Erik Buys

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Pierre et Gilles Interview: Paris Art

THIS INTERVIEW IS TAKEN FROM paris-art.com (there is one great quote which is in blue)

By Pierre-Evariste Douaire

“A Perfect World” your last exhibition at the Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, seems to venture into politics? Gilles. It is a continuity in our work.We always took pictures so-called political as The Little Communist , at the death of Communism or the Pink Triangle. If in this exhibition there are more, it’s a chance. We are working on several series at once. Each painting is an opportunity to present an overview of our research. We like to take our time. Guide our planning meetings, arouse our curiosity and sharpen our desire to work with future models.Nothing is ever decided in advance.

Prefer the news or variety? Gilles. News and variety are not opposed to us.Reality has always been our working basis. Everything inspires us, even things that may seem superficial at first, fun and joyful. We never choose a subject at the expense of another. The variety seems nice, but it also has its dark side.Things of everyday life the most insipid can be as violent as TV images of the newspaper, and vice versa. All the same value. There is gravity everywhere. For “A Perfect World” we had fun mixing series between them. Instead of filing, we preferred to cause incongruous encounters like the one that is next to Johnny Mathis and an Iraqi soldier [ Flowers of Shanghai and Iraq War ]. These two views are complementary and that’s what makes them interesting. In any case it is this kind of confrontation that we have at heart to stage. This mixture is characteristic of life. The photos that you describe as “political” have their place in the exhibition because they are surrounded by all the others. Make only one policy would snap pictures shaving.

You are more nai; fs and political. David and Jonathan , one Arab and one Jewish embrace is an ad for Benetton? Gilles. That way we do. It is described by many as very Sulpician. Everyone can see this picture as he wants. Everyone has the right to react differently. The picture was not premeditated. The draftDavid and Jonathan was built progressively. The idea of a yarmulke and a keffiyeh has been blown by Odon Vallet, because it was not comm ent style characters at the start.Both hats were then imposed. In general the final form of the original intentions often away.

You fluoroscopy the world of variety? Gilles. The variety is present but there is not much.Peter. We work w ith actors, artists, strangers, especially strangers. For “A Perfect World”, there are only four celebrities on thirty shots: Pascale Borel Valerie Lemercier and come and go, for Mireille Mathieu and Sylvie Jolie, they appear as icons, but by them, that’s all.

You prefer multiple or single room? A record sleeve in tanks or a single draw in the gallery? Gilles. We started working in the press, to make blankets, album covers, to photograph our friends.Everything moved gradually and slowly. It took eight years for the amounts our first exhibition was in 1983. At the beginning of our meeting, in 1976, we did not expose because art was dominated by the wave concept. As for photography, it was black and white and very classic. The c olour was then very unpopular. We did not have our place in this environment. The unique piece is obvious to us as we paint out of the picture. Managers are also of importance and a role to play, so we take great care to develop them so that they are most consistent with the image. We have always loved the diffusion and large prints because we have always worked with the magazine, published postcards and books.We love the catalogs. See people come away with, to see them happy, it’s great. But the original remains unique for the simple reason that the paint on the picture will never be reproduced exactly.

Exhibiting in galleries allowed you to gain freedom? Gilles. Exhibiting in galleries allowed us to show our own work. Before disposing of this case no one had the opportunity to see because all our energy was devoted to the press. …

David LaChapelle Interview on ‘American Jesus’

taken from – www.nowness.com

David LaChapelle: American Jesus

The Artist and Celebrity-Snapper Explains His New Show At Paul Kasmin

Art and fashion photographer David LaChapelle’s poppy, religious-themed work features contemporary icons in tableaux straight out of the gospels. On the occasion of his American Jesus opening at Paul Kasmin gallery in New York, we caught up with the artist to talk about Walt Whitman, Michael Jackson and that biggest celebrity of all, Jesus.

A lot of your work is a kind of pop-art iconography—which, I guess, makes you a modern day Raphael. These are rather biblical times aren’t they?
My mom talks about her life, as a refugee from Germany during the war, camps and things like that—people in any age find life challenging. With all the information now, you wonder if what is happening is more critical or if we’re just getting more news. Give us twenty minutes and we’ll give you the world.

Your series Deluge had a certain end-of-the-world bent.
Actually, if you look at the people, they are all helping each other. So it’s a hopeful situation, people extending a hand to each other. Of course everything that lives must die—everything will come to an end—and materialism is not the answer. Stocks and currency, money and gold: these things all come and go.

Is anything everlasting?
Walt Whitman said the teeniest sprout proves that life never dies.

When did you first conceive of Michael Jackson as a biblical character?
I shot Michael for the first issue of Flaunt in 1998 and we used saint candles.

What was the process like? Were you on set krumping or moonwalking?
You know, I’m really not going to talk about the Michael Jackson pictures, or what went into them. I shot him in 1999 for the millennium cover of Rolling Stone and that was the start of an acknowledgment that I was a supporter. But I’d rather people look at the photos and decide for themselves. We persecuted him. Every person who ever bought a tabloid or watched the news, we all contributed to his death by taking in that form of gossip.

It is definitely true that celebrities are our modern day gods and goddesses, and we build them up and tear them down.
Madonna has been torn down. Michael Jordan has been torn down. Michael Jackson was destroyed. Like no other person in our times. You have to remember that Michael Jackson was innocent. He was proved innocent in our courts. If you read the transcripts of the trial it is insanity, it should never have gone to court. We spent tens of millions of dollars to prosecute him when we don’t have money for schools in California.

Why is that?
Not because he was a celebrity but because he looked different. He was obsessive about privacy and it made him “other,” it made him different, and he went from being the most famous, most beloved singer to the most reviled, joked about—he couldn’t open a newspaper without reading horror stories about himself.

Is fame the premier topic of our times?
I don’t think it is the premier topic. I don’t even have a television set—in Maui or California or New York. I don’t buy the magazines, I don’t read the newspapers. I don’t know what the world is obsessed with right now. It does seem out of balance.

Pop-culture is a great way in to the discussion—and Jesus is the biggest celeb of all time!
You know, I’m trying to compete with Twitter and Facebook and all the distractions of the world—constant imagery—so, of course I am going to use any tool. But don’t forget I started in galleries in the 1980s. Before that, my whole life, I was going to be an artist. I dropped out of school when I was 15 and my father came and got me and brought me to North Carolina School of the Arts. I didn’t graduate high school but I learned photography and artistry there and I continually learned for the rest of my life.

Is that why you kind of pulled back the curtain on some of the work in this show, to say, “look, I am an artist”?
History will decide who the artists are. Tony Shafrazi saw my sketchbook one day and he freaked out and he said, you’ve gotta show these.” And I said no, no, no. He said, “You have got to show your process.” And I said, “If I start to think about these pictures being seen it is going to influence the way I make them. I will get self-conscious. These are me playing around—watercolor sketches—to get my head around a figure, find a color palette. They are advanced doodles, nothing more.” Finally I did show them and people liked them.

You’ve said you want to get away from the sets and studio and get into nature. How is that going.
It’s going really well. We’ve been shooting in Maui. It is a pretty elaborate series.

Reading about your place there one finds the words “nudist,” “colony,” “Maui.” What else could you want?
A couple of years ago I bought this place. It was kinda dilapidated. The lady that ran it was getting on in years—a lovely woman. My parents used to have a lake cabin and I used to go there to escape New York. I would go, sort out my problems, meditate, swim naked. It was very Whitman-esque. My whole life, I dreamed of having a cabin in the woods. It was an answered prayer.