Futurism and Pop Art: from “the beauty of speed” to smoke, chaos and collapse

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“We wish to sing the praises to the men behind the steering wheel,”[1] proclaimed in 1908 the founder and a key figure of Futurism, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. Fascinated with the energy and the power of a racing car, and certain that the world has been “enriched with […] the beauty of speed,”[2] Futurists found their theme in depicting the abstract sensation of movement – the radiance of the moving object and its effect on the surrounding environment. Cars and motorised vehicles were celebrated as emblems of modernity and progress; modern machines par excellence, symbols of the technological ‘triumph’ of humanity over nature.[3] Fifty years later, cars reappeared as popular motifs in the Pop Art, this time as quintessential tokens of leisure and typical objects of consumerist desire. Like Futurists, Pop artists investigated the relationship between the machine and the body, a psychosomatic effect of the mechanized (and commercialized) modern life.

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HEX: A triumphant return to joy, passion, and exuberance

20140508-GL-hex-0525 HEX by James Welsby Photo Gregory Lorenzutti

Recently I spoke to Australian contemporary dancer and choreographer JAMES WELSBY whose work HEX explores the legacy and impact of the 80s AIDS crisis through the lens of the generation that was born in its wake. Combining contemporary dance with queer club performance, HEX provides an experience of both celebration and reflection; it is a tribute to those who have been lost, but also a celebration of the community they shaped, and which continues to grow.  Continue reading

Dear Sylvia ~ Plath

Dear Sylvia

‘Dear Sylvia’, a group photomedia exhibition inspired by life of American poet Sylvia Plath is currently on at the Australian Centre for Photography (ACP) featuring the works of nine female international artists who examine the representation of the female body and the female condition in contemporary society – whether this society is developed, Western world (i.e. France, UK, Australia, Netherlands) or a country such as Romania, Ukraine, Palestine, South America, and Israel where not only female, but human rights in general are under constant and extreme threat.

Through variety of photographic styles and genres, these nine female photomedia artist depict female body as both fragile and suffocated, as well as a powerful and vibrant agent of revolutionary change. In doing so they portray the complexity of Sylvia Plath’s own condition as unconventionally passionate women, a spirit eager to fly high and free in a society where freedom, joy and superfluous love was discouraged, perhaps even ridiculed.

On Thursday 5 February, I spoke to Claire Monneraye, the exhibition’s curator and Marlous van der Sloot, a Dutch photographer whose body of work features in the exhibition and examines the ways photography can be used to restore physicality to our overly rational minds; to encourage return to senses in what could be seen as a “touch starved” society. Marlous images re-establish connection between animal and human creating distortions that prompt us to re-learn to see.
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Butoh

Butoh (舞踏 Butō?) is a form of Japanese dance theatre that encompasses a diverse range of activities, techniques and motivations for dance, performance, or movement. Following World War II, butoh arose in 1959 through collaborations between its two key founders Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo. The art form is known to "resist fixity"[1] and be difficult to define; notably, founder Hijikata Tatsumi viewed the formalisation of butoh with "distress".[2] Common features of the art form include playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, extreme or absurd environments, and is traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow hyper-controlled motion.

Butoh is a form of Japanese dance theatre that encompasses a diverse range of activities, techniques and motivations for dance, performance, or movement. Following World War II, butoh arose in 1959. The art form is known to “resist fixity” and be difficult to define; notably, founder Hijikata Tatsumi viewed the formalisation of butoh with “distress”. Common features of the art form include playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, extreme or absurd environments, and is traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow hyper-controlled motion. Butoh allows “the body to “speak” for itself, thru unconscious improvised movement.”

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