| JAMES OSTRER WOTSIT ALL ABOUT |

“I love to eat – Kit Kats or cookies-and-cream ice cream. I need sugar like five times a day – Kim Kardashian” 17-EF-135.16-518x777 30-EF-145.6-518x777 25-EF-137.8-518x783 19-EF-137.62-518x777 13-EF-137-518x777 9-EF-117-518x777 4-EF-125.5-518x777 2-EF-126.75-518x777

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the quote that James Ostrer opens his press release with, at once drawing a parallel between our obsession with sugar and our unwavering fascination with celebrity culture, junk food for the brain. And, until the 11th September this year, he will be exploring our sugar obsession further, as part of Gazelli Art House’s Window Project. In an exhibition called Wotsit All About, Ostrer draws influence from corrupted globalisation, food production and society’s obsession with and reliance on sugar to create a series of unnerving portraits, in which his subjects are completely covered in all manner of sugary ‘treats’. The images are both beautiful and repulsive; cream, sweets, biscuits – usually considered as indulgences – are portrayed in an almost gruesome way, Kit-Kats become menacing smiles and tears run down frosted cheeks. This is Ostrer’s unique take on an apocalyptic world which has been destroyed by mass production. We tentatively step into his world…

YOUR WORK REFERENCES PRIMITIVE ART, JUNK FOOD AND CORRUPTED GLOBALISATION – ALL VARYING THEMES. HOW DO YOU TIE THEM TOGETHER IN A COHESIVE WAY?

First humans made primitive artifacts that were decorative embellishments of useful objects they killed and cooked with. These then derived into just being ornamental objects and much later on down the line corporations took all these early learnings about material, shape, colour and taste and further synthesized them to create potent emotional triggers for consumption. My intent has been to take different stages of this 2000 year progression and layer them into specific constructs.

WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON JUNK FOOD – IS IT ONE OF THE BIGGEST DANGERS TO A GENERATION AND IS ENOUGH DONE TO PROMOTE THE DANGERS?

We are physiologically manipulated and bombarded to eat and drink more of these food types in so many ways, for example when they made the hole in the top of a coke can bigger I instantly began to drink it much quicker. If you mix the issues associated with junk food and the fact that the government has sold off so many school playgrounds its unsurprising that we are faced with a whole generation of obese kids that play sport via their TV screens. Although you wouldn’t want to totally ban these foods as life would be so boring without them, there does need to be some kind of intervention. It really depressed me seeing our national athletes plastered all over subway sandwich shops straight after the Olympics.

WHY IS THIS A SUBJECT THAT YOU FELT THE NEED TO TACKLE CREATIVELY?

It started off as a kind of self administered shamanistic ritual to help pull me out of the grips of a refined sugar addiction hell that I live in. I wanted to take my experience of buying, unwrapping and consuming these items to such an extreme level that I would never be attracted to them again. What you see now is a record of these early junk food engulfings. As time went on I became more and more distracted from my own self help mission towards becoming obsessional about creating beautiful temporary sculptural pieces that i started to fall in love with and couldn’t stop making.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO HIGHLIGHT WITH YOUR WORK, WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE?

I wouldn’t say that I want to specify anything in particular as I prefer leaving that down to how people respond to my work. But these are my caveman paintings to express my own relationship to food.

YOU USE A KIM KARDASHIAN QUOTE IN YOUR PRESS RELEASE, DO YOU FEEL THAT JUNK FOOD CULTURE IS AKIN TO CELEBRITY CULTURE – ROTTING THE BODY AND BRAIN?

Definitely. But I love celebrity culture as much as I love a chucking a bag of minstrels down my neck in a cinema. I am totally addicted to buying women’s magazines as well. I just love watching people getting fat then thin, then fat then thin again. It reflects my own dismorphic perspective of myself and because its on glossy pages it creates a sense of normality. When Kerry Katona is smiling back at me with a new husband or new round of kids from a magazine I feel hope, however short term lived it may be.

TALK US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS FOR A PIECE, WHAT STAGES DOES IT GO THROUGH? IT LOOKS RATHER PAINSTAKING.. HOW LONG DOES A PIECE TAKE?

In the middle of the night I regularly get a vision of these kind of figures talking to me and telling me how to live. They are made out all the things that i munch or have walked past in disgust thinking why would anyone eat that. I wake up and sketch them which is the starting point. There is then alot of running round supermarkets grabbing items in a self induced hysteria as if I was on the game show Super Market Sweep but I am the only contestant and no one is cheering me on. Once back in the studio my sitters are there for no less that five hours for one head. I like to mix the colours and make the adornments while they are with me in my studio as often a sense of their personality or our relationship to each other gets transmitted into the work. The clean up program is immense you wouldn’t believe how hardcore it gets….

THE IMAGES DISTORT THE FIGURE AND THE SUGAR AND SWEETS LOOK UGLY AS OPPOSED TO APPETISING – HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS TO THE OVERALL MESSAGE?

I want them to look ugly and beautiful at the same time. The food behaves in the same way as the dots of a Cezanne painting. The thrill is in that moment when you walk another inch backwards and suddenly the repulsion of the junk food becomes the image of a intriguing and beautiful character. That’s where there is magic for me and its works both ways when something beautiful then becomes ugly again. To me that moment of switch is the very knife edge line that is life.

THERE IS ALSO A TRIBAL QUALITY TO THE WORK, DID YOU RESEARCH TRIBAL DRESS MUCH IN YOUR RESEARCH?

The references that you find are a regurgitation of stored information. Whether it was images from Africa being shown on an old slide projector in a geography class at school or memories of Ronald Mcdonald posing for pictures with me and my sister while we ate a happy meal aged six. I wanted every past stimulus to pour into the works rather than specific research that may have guided what I made too much.

SOME OF THE TABLEAUS FEATURE YOU – AND YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN YOUR OWN INSTALLATIONS PREVIOUSLY – WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO BE PHYSICALLY INVOLVED?

These experiences are a massive guttural embodiment of every inch of my emotional self so I have to participate on every level. There is a huge release I find by channeling this expression into a final and physical object. In the same way that someone with less options than I have might punch a stranger in the face at a pub. A big aspect of the works is to expel the internal dissatisfaction I have with myself and turn it into something separate from me.

TALK US THROUGH WHAT OTHER PROJECTS WE CAN EXPECT FROM YOU IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

They are always a secret but i am so excited about them…..

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| ADRIAN & GIGI |

Adrian Woods & Gidi van Maarseveen are a photography duo based in Amsterdam. The couple first met at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, where they both graduated in 2010. Together they’ve built a strong body of tangible still life and product photographs, with Adrian behind the camera and Gidi focusing on their signature handmade sets. The two share a creative vision, generally favoring a more playful and experimental approach to their work.

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| KNITTED MODERNISM IN A TIME MACHINE VOYAGE |

Since February and lasting until 1 June 2014, Manchester Art Gallery is showcasing new site-specific works together with recontextualized oeuvres of Portuguese contemporary artist Joana Vasconcelos.

MOOD MOODS visited the exhibition entitled Time Machine, where Vasconcelos presents over twenty of her most well-known textured and colourful sculptures contrasting significantly with the traditional collections of the Gallery.

The organic forms rendered of crochet patters, shapes and textures create unconventional and surprising situations for the public when juxtaposed next to historical paintings from the 18th, early 19th century, Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian periods.

Such is the case of the William de Morgan wall tiles on display in the Pre-Raphaelites gallery that are referenced in a new piece from Vasconcelos’ Tetris series (made with tiles, crochet and various fabrics). With these precise interventions, the Portuguese artist undeniably grasps viewers’ attention by revealing dichotomies of organic/industrial, traditional/modern and humorous/sober nature.

In her own words: “It is a privilege to see my work go on show in Manchester Art Gallery’s remarkable spaces. I am particularly proud of the dialogue established between Manchester Art Gallery’s collection and my works, as well as the interaction between the city’s history and traditions and other realities of entirely different provenances – such as those specific to my homeland. Time machine will certainly be one of the most challenging and noteworthy shows of my career.”

/////////////////////// Colab / Eloise Zadig reporting from the UK

| SUPERSTUDIO SUPERARCHITETTURA |

Superstudio was an architecture firm, founded in 1966 in Florence, Italy by Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia. Superstudio was a major part of the Radical architecture movement of the late 1960s. The founders had gone to school at the University of Florence with Archizoom founder Andrea Branzi and first showed their work in the Superarchitettura show in 1966.[1]

In 1967, Natalini established three categories of future research: “architecture of the monument”; the “architecture of the image”; and “technomorphic architecture”. Soon, Superstudio would be known for its conceptual architecture works, most notably the 1969 Continuous Monument: An Architectural Model for Total Urbanization.

Many of their projects were originally published in the magazine Casabella, and ranged from fiction, to storyboard illustration, and photomontage.

Natalini wrote in 1971 “…if design is merely an inducement to consume, then we must reject design; if architecture is merely the codifying of bourgeois model of ownership and society, then we must reject architecture; if architecture and town planning is merely the formalization of present unjust social divisions, then we must reject town planning and its cities…until all design activities are aimed towards meeting primary needs. Until then, design must disappear. We can live without architecture…”

The Continuous Monument: On the Rocky Coast, project Perspective (1969). 

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In the Continuous Monument, Superstudio use the grid and the grid structure to create an overcoat that would make the totality of our planet habitable. In the graphics that follow their utopian project we can see the spatial formation that is constituted by a rectilinear grid, literally in every environment found on our planet.

In one of the very few (and early) sketches we can take a glimpse of what is happening inside this grid. We can see structures like the ones we are used to inhabit today, stacked one on top of another, like a linear city of humongous proportions. In this case we understand that the grid and its spatiality create the environment for the city structure (urbanism) to invade everywhere. Inside of this seemingly uniform grid, everything can be happening. The exterior façade of this project in no way is able to depict or even interact with what is happening inside of it. But in a very strange way, the exterior is the only way for the interior to exist.

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| SYNAESTHESIA PHENOMENA IMPRESSIONS |

Stockholm artist Christine Ödlund explores unknown phenomena of the natural world. Beautiful vertiginous landscapes are more than meets the eye, illustrating fictitious sound waves conceived by the artist.

“Ödlund has… explored and embodied phenomena and worlds that humans, with our limited senses, scarcely can perceive… Through meditation she places herself in a condition she refers to as simulated synaesthesia, in which sensory impressions flow freely; scientific data or audio translates into colours, music transforms into shapes or motions, images become sensations of taste. Aligned with this interdisciplinary thinking Ödlund has followed researchers in organic chemistry at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in their attempts to decipher the chemical language of plants.” – Galleri Riis

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