Tag Archives: Life

East is East, and West is West and never the twain shall meet

20 Feb

Helinä Rautavaara (1928-1988) made a career of documenting foreign cultures and religions. She travelled outside Europe as a reporter during the 1950s. Her travels to the Middle East and South Asia made these areas familiar to Finns through a series of colourful articles written for the Seura magazine. She also made her first radio and television programmes out of the material collected during these travels. Her subsequent travels added to her ever-increasing amount of photographs, super-8 films, audio recordings and videos.

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Helinä Rautavaara was first introduced to the Rastafarian movement during her trips to London and New York in 1980. She later stated that she had been dragged into the movement because of her African interests. Her ability to move naturally amongst a variety of ethnic groups also brought her closer to the representatives of the black consciousness movement.

In 1981, Rautavaara spent six months in Jamaica in order to familiarise herself with Jamaican syncretistic religions. She got to know a number of local Rasta communities and reggae musicians. She photographed and taped Rastafarian rituals, such as the ceremonies held in honour of Haile Selassie’s 50th birthday. She participated in Bob Marley’s funeral on May 21st 1981 at the National Arena. Rautavaara was initiated into the Rastafarian religion, and she sought to make herself known as Ras Benjamin.

 In 1991 Helinä Rautavaara made a short but consequential visit to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The objects acquired during that visit formed the core of her first museum.

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In 1991 Helinä Rautavaara made a short visit to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The objects acquired during that visit formed the core of her first museum.

Helinä Rautavaara named her 400-volume library on Brazil as her first true collection. She often attached exotic stories to the objects she later acquired, even though the collection includes several antique objects bought from public auctions.

Rautavaara’s style of dressing in ethnic clothes and decorating her home in exotic styles was a reflection of both styles adopted from the 1960s to the 1990s and of her taste as a collector.

Rautavaara herself summed up her relationship to the collection with the following words: “I have never understood an object’s significance as an object, rather it has always been part of an entire culture, not to mention being part of a ritual associated with it.”

In 1991 Helinä Rautavaara rented a former shop at Ruusulankatu 8, Helsinki, where she opened her first private museum. The collections she held at home had been accessible to visitors, but visiting groups had also access to the new exhibition rooms. The Baga-Zombie Museum displayed ritual objects that Rautavaara had brought back from her short trip to Haiti in 1990. In addition, there were Buddhist, Mexican and West African objects, and a wall-size glass painting made in 1885 by the Belgian glass artist Jean-Baptiste Capronnier.

 The cataloguing of the objects began in 1991.  The Helinä Rautavaara Museum was opened on June 16th 1998.

 It needs to be said that not everyone was pleased with the guidelines of Helinä Rautavaara’s collecting activities and their success. For example, the public display of cult and Voodoo objects made a well-known Espoo artist publicly accuse the Helinä Rautavaara object collection of connections to Satanic worship. Rautavaara herself thought that art inspired by the numerous religions of the world should be respected.

Source & more info:  Glims & Gloms

Check also:  HELINA

Alice B. Toklad Cookbook

15 Nov

Alice Babette Toklas was in San Francisco, California into a middle-class Jewish family. She met Gertrude Stein in Paris on September 8, 1907, the day she arrived. Together they hosted a salon that attracted expatriate American writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, Paul Bowles, Thornton Wilder and Sherwood Anderson, and avant-garde painters, including Pablo Picasso, Henry Matisse, and Georges Braque. Acting as Stein’s confidante, lover, cook, secretary, muse, editor, critic, and general organizer, Toklas remained a background figure, chiefly living in the shadow of Stein, until Stein published her memoirs in 1933 under the teasing title The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. It became Stein’s bestselling book. The two were a couple until Gertrude Stein’s death in 1946.

 After the death of Gertrude Stein, Toklas published her own literary memoir, a 1954 book that mixed reminiscences and recipes under the title The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. The most famous recipe therein (actually contributed by her friend Brion Gysin) was called “Haschich Fudge,” a mixture of fruit, nuts, spices, and “canibus [sic] sativa,” or marijuana. Her name was later lent to the range of cannabis concoctions called Alice B. Toklas brownies. Some believe that the slang term toke, meaning to inhale marijuana, is derived from her last name. The cookbook has been translated into numerous languages. A second cookbook followed in 1958 called Aromas and Flavors of Past and Present; however, Toklas did not approve of it as it had been heavily annotated by Poppy Cannon, an editor from House Beautiful magazine. She also wrote articles for several magazines and newspapers including The New Republic and the New York Times.

 In 1963 she published her autobiography, What Is Remembered, which abruptly ends with Stein’s death, leaving little doubt that Stein was the love of her lifetime. Her later years were very difficult because of poor health and financial problems, aggravated by the fact that Stein’s heirs took the priceless paintings (some of them Picassos) which Stein had willed to Toklas. Toklas also became a Roman Catholic convert in her old age. She died in poverty at the age of 89, and is buried next to Stein in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France; Toklas’ name is engraved on the back of Stein’s headstone.

Salon de Fleurus, New York

15 Nov


Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas in the apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus, Paris, 1922; photo: Man Ray; private collection, San Francisco; © Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas in the apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus, Paris, 1922; photo: Man Ray; private collection, San Francisco; © Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Meanwhile, a ground-floor apartment behind a rather Parisian courtyard slightly east of Soho has metastasized into something that is unabashedly about the intersection of life, history, fiction, and art: a recreation of Gertrude Stein’s salon on Rue de Fleurus. This creative approximation has more the feel of magic realism than simulation. Of indefinite duration, evading the white cube’s domain, Salon de Fleurus eludes the system. It’s not exactly an installation, nor is it a performance; it’s a freak occurrence. The two male hosts of this “authorless” manifestation do their best to be hospitable under the time, space, and gender-warp circumstances. We may be sick of simulations, but Salon de Fleurus is an unreasonable facsimile, a black hole with the potential of sucking 80 years’ worth of avant-garde incident into its force field and sending it for a ride on a rubbery Möbius strip. In this apartment the laws of physics – artistically speaking – do not apply, and nothing is quite what it seems. In the front parlor, seminal analytical Cubist works have been transmogrified into quaint sepia-toned curiosities with ornate rococo frames. In the back parlor, Picasso’s indelible portrait of Gertrude has shrunken to a varnished Eastern Orthodox icon on wood. Cezanne’s bathers are a curio in the china cabinet. Consider the implications. Stein’s legendary salon, the locus of the modern art world’s beginnings, reappears filled with nostalgic kitsch and amateur pictures, as well as a holy icon. When systems – whether the local art market or the whole modern era – collapse, freak events such as these rise through the cracks. Some artists hold on for dear life, erecting airtight bulwarks and artificial life-support systems to maintain the old order against the onslaught of disintegration. Others go with a more molecular vision, rearranging the subatomic particles of the old history to shake things up. I promised not to reveal the names of the authors, who want to remain unknown. One of them discarded his authorial identity in 1985 and denies any creative role in the projects he has sometimes been suspected of since: Société Anonyme in a Soho thrift shop, and The Last Futurist Exhibition and The Armory Show in Eastern Europe. Suffice it to say that ever since the ’70s, in a country that doesn’t exist, he has maintained a tactical position at the furthest extremities of art practice and theory, mining modern art for its antimatter.

 Kim Levin (1993)


Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Costume Institute Exhibition At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

15 May

McQueen always started every collection with an idea or a concept for the runway presentation before the fashions. After the concept, he would have this elaborate sort of storyboard with these various references from art, from film, from music—his influences from everywhere. There’s a famous story about how he was watching Friends one day, and Joey was wearing a green sweater, and Joey’s green sweater inspired an aspect of his collection. So he was such a sponge that inspiration came from everywhere. The actual creative process in terms of the clothes themselves were often designed directly on the mannequin during a fitting. So fittings, for McQueen, were incredibly important. McQueen saw life cinematically, and I think that that approach to life was something that you see very clearly on the runway. So his interest in extreme weather conditions was part of that sort of dramatic view of life. And I think that one of the reasons why he loved nature so much was because it was so unpredictable. They were spontaneous; it was something that one can never control, and I think that was always something he liked to show in his collections.

About the exhibition

Public collectors

11 May
Public Collectors consists of informal agreements where collectors allow the contents of their collection to be published and permit those who are curious to directly experience the objects in person. Participants must be willing to type up an inventory of their collection, provide a means of contact and share their collection with the public. Collectors can be based in any geographic location.

 Public Collectors is founded upon the concern that there are many types of cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums and other institutions and archives either do not collect or do not make freely accessible. Public Collectors asks individuals that have had the luxury to amass, organize, and inventory these materials to help reverse this lack by making their collections public.

 The purpose of this project is for large collections of materials to become accessible so that knowledge, ideas and expertise can be freely shared and exchanged. Public Collectors is not intended, nor should it be used, for buying and selling objects. There are many preexisting venues for that.

 Collectors can accommodate viewers at whatever location is most comfortable or convenient for them. If their collection is portable or can be viewed in a location other than the collector’s home, this would still be an appropriate way to participate in the project.

In addition to hosting collection inventories and other information, http://www.publiccollectors.org includes digital collections that are suitable for web presentation, do not have a physical material analog, or are difficult or impossible to experience otherwise.

 Public Collectors is administered by Marc Fischer. If you have a collection that you would like to make public, please contact: marc [at] publiccollectors [dot] org

The Shoes of Imelda Marcos

11 May


Philippines, like most tropical islands, uses flip-flops as its most common footwear. As a paradox, Metropolitan Manila houses today the “shoe capital of Asia” Marikina City, where 200,000 people are said to work on the shoe manufacturing industry along its Sandal Street or Slipper Street.

But this suburb is also the site where flip-flops pay tribute to a woman who had not enough time in her life to wear all the shoes she owned. After a popular revolt in 1986, former Dictator’s wife Imelda Marcos had to leave her collection of 2,700 pairs of shoes in the Presidential Palace, before fleeing the country. Imelda stock-piled 5,400 luxury brand shoes in the same way as other kings gathered over 3,000 women in their harems. Palaces, contrary to common dwellings, have this virtue of housing any possible paradox whim inside their walls. 18th century French merchant Beaujean was too fat to walk along his amazing gardens and suffered from insomnia inside a palace full of splendid bedrooms…

At least Imelda can show off her collection; some years ago she turned her precious treasure into a populist Shoe Museum, maybe as a tool to win Manila’s Major Elections. She was wearing a pair of locally made silver high-heels the day of the extravagant opening.

Video

 

Shoes Obsession Show

The Bough That Falls with All its Trophies Hung, 2009 / by Bryan Zanisnik

28 Apr