Hot damn! We’ve got chicks on motorcycles, blazing colour, amazing patterns and some not so subtle brand referencing happening here. The Taymour Grahne Gallery in New York is currently exhibiting talented photographer Hassan Hajjij’s solo exhibition ‘Kesh Angels (until March 7).
I’m not really sure where to begin as I love every aspect of this impressive production. Hajjij presents a normally unseen Moroccan sub-culture through his imagery, documenting the biker culture of young women in Marrakesh. The viewer is presented with confident women in veils and djellabah (loose hooded robes) who like to have fun – subverting traditional western perceptions of Arabic women. Polka dots, heart-shaped sunnies and loud textiles communicate messages of fun, freedom and independence. In some of the photographs Hajjij crops the subject matter so tightly that the sitter’s head is cut off by the frame, placing them in a position of dominance.
Hajjij was born in Morocco and is now based in the UK. The exhibition is a celebration of his North African heritage, combined with influences such as the hip-hop, reggae and club scenes of London. A nod to Pop is also at play here, as consumer canned goods create a bold frame around each girl. The artist states that he ‘plays on being a sixties child,’ using the seductive power of the brand to lend strength to the art works.
A range of media is used; the photographs featured above are showcased alongside installation work, video and limited edition couture Arab dolls on motorbikes, highlighting Hajjij’s versatility as an artist. Have a more in-depth read about ‘Kesh Angels here.
Shit these photographs are good. That’s all I’m saying.
Images: Taymour Grahne Gallery
Normally I have an aversion to any type of landscape art. Why? I think it’s difficult to communicate the energy of this subject matter, especially in comparison to animate objects. So, I’m a little shocked to be showcasing the work of London based photographer Darren Almond, but, these images spoke to me. Something is afoot in these soft, beautiful and hazy vistas. They are shot by the light of the moon, a quality that transforms the landscape into something eerily otherworldly. A preternatural energy abounds.
Almond has travelled the globe over the last thirteen years, choosing sites that he connects with, and documenting them in the night-time hours. The use of long exposure times creates a startling result, small details are revealed that would never normally be visible to the naked eye. It’s almost as though Almond is collecting more light than is his due; the grainy quality of the imagery builds up a sense of unending possibility, who knows what might emerge from the night?
A nod to the Romantic painters of the the 19th Century is evident here, as the grandeur of nature is certainly acknowledged. Almond channels the ‘primal need to measure and quantify the passing of time,’ a concept that appeals to me, as one is inextricably pulled forward, through the hours and minutes.
Darren Almond has an impressive list of solo exhibitions behind him, having exhibited all over Europe. He was also shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2005. Almond currently has his exhibition To Leave a Light Impression on display at White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey (on until April 14th), so if you’re in the vicinity check it out. I’d love to see these serene moonscapes up close and personal. Elegant stuff.
Pae White is not an artist I have been aware of for very long, but since discovering more of her work I have become thoroughly impressed by her energy and the diversity of her oeuvre. She is that rare artist that has a truly interdisciplinary practice—she has worked with architecture, graphic design and craft, as well as art. Her work tends to be quite large in scale and she is perhaps best known for her spacial installations and the huge tapestries depicting photographic images of fleeting smoke. Neon lights, ceramic popcorn, typography crafted from interlocking string, giant murals, long tapestries—the variety is astounding!
What the work does have in common is a desire to capture something of the quotidian, while revealing unexpected qualities of the object. Pae White subverts such common things as pop corn or aluminium foil to tease a newly found fascination from the viewer. The humble and transitory is frozen in time and elevated to a monumental scale. The most successful example of this is the curtain she created for the architectural masterpiece that is the Oslo Opera House. The image is a scan of carefully crinkled aluminium foil, digitally woven to produce an astounding three-dimensional illusion. A great example of old-time traditions of hand-craft being combined with new technologies.
Pae White was born in Pasadena, California and is based in LA, which may explain the big, sunny energy inherent in her work. It is uncommon to find contemporary art that is so damn optimistic and unabashedly full of genuine curiosity, while still containing nuanced layers of possible meaning. Her work begs to be experienced and enjoyed. White’s project “Orllegro,” in which she responds to the permanent collection at the MAK museum in Austria is on until October this year.
Being ‘part of the crowd’ takes on some interesting connotations when exploring the work of LA photographer Alex Prager. These large scale images of carefully posed crowds are something else; at first glance they appear candid, but something about them jars you into examining them more closely. Prager’s photographs from her Face in the Crowd series are awash with emotive nuances portrayed through a richly cinematic aesthetic.
Prager’s concept was to ‘tap into a shared cultural memory to create images that are familiar yet strange.’ Indeed, one recognizes certain fashions, but they are oddly thrown off balance as she combines wardrobes ranging from the 1950′s to the present day. Each person appears to stand alone, although they are surrounded by people. Crowds generally ‘move,’ but for me these crowds are static, caught in the act of anonymity. This concept of isolation is a reference to contemporary society, and the increasing lack of personal interaction due to our media saturated environs. Prager hones into each crowd from angles in which one wouldn’t normally see a crowd from, creating a ‘big brother’ type atmosphere.
On top of her photographic stills Prager has also shot a three channel video installation featuring actress Elizabeth Banks. She maps specific characters from the crowd, and records monologues that are both real and made-up.
Face in the Crowd is currently on exhibit in both of Lehmann Maupin’s NY galleries (on until February the 22nd). This is one you don’t want to miss. Alex Prager is the best discovery I’ve made in a long time. If you’re into this check out her film series Touch of Evil. Hilarious and brilliant.
Oh – and how good is that decor in the Supreme Court shot? I can’t get over that crazy brown marbled veneer, complete with rusty orange carpet. A winning combo if ever there was one!
James Enos completed his Master of Architecture at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design, which he followed with further study in Fine Arts. Enos approaches his practice from a multidisciplinary standpoint, and his solid grounding in architectural studies is evident, being a constant source of inspiration for new work. His interests lie specifically with architectural structures within an urban context, potentials for social change and an exploration of civic identity.
Some of the work he completed while undertaking his studies at NewSchool is currently on show at the “Urban Entropy” exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art in San Diego. His extremely detailed, contorted structures look like they are about to burst out all over the gallery space, breaking out from the complex tangles they seem to have gotten themselves into. Two laser-cut skyscrapers bow and bend under the weight of a couple of hundred separate houses. Cookie-cutter homes turned sky-high condos—it is an interesting concept, blending two of the most banal types of housing into one superstructure. The result is surprisingly beautiful to look at, but is a comment on the increasingly commercialised nature of the architectural industry and the lack of consideration for aesthetics, or facilitation of community and human interaction.
The other works are more abstract but equally as expertly crafted, bringing to mind the various flows running through the city: human, traffic, data, electricity, water…Their turbulence is at odds with the simultaneous sense of rhythm they seem to instill. I like this tension and the possible associations we are left to draw from the sculptural objects. If you can make it to the Oceanside Museum I would encourage you to see them in real life, catch the exhibition before it closes 2 February. If you want to stay in loop with James Enos’ latest projects, you can check out his website.
Photo credits: http://ucsdopenstudios.com and Sharina Menke