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E.O.F. TALKS: Film Maker Craig Highberger Talks Andy Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis

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Here at The Eye of Faith we worship the spirit of individuality. Escaping the everyday, and letting your uniqueness shine is something Andy Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis was no stranger to.

Born February 19, 1947 in New York City; Jackie Curtis slayed the scene with a gender bending style and booming persona that should never be forgotten.

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That’s why we’re bringing her from the clutches of the past to the forefront, and it’s no better time, really; gender is undergoing quite a shift in this last decade, and many changes are still abound.

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Our faithful correspondent John Wisniewski spoke with film maker and author Craig Highberger whose 2005 film “Superstar in a Housedress” explored the star’s groundbreaking art and life!

{ J.W. } What interested you about the life of star Jackie Curtis, Craig?

{C.H.} I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is Andy Warhol’s hometown. My Uncle Sam Highberger had gone to Carnegie Mellon University with Andy and was in some of his classes and talked about him and so I became aware of and I loved Warhol’s art and that whole world. I also loved new wave cinema and without telling my parents I snuck out to these film screenings at Carnegie Mellon of Warhol’s films “Chelsea Girls” and “Flesh”.

And in “Flesh” there is this scene I will never forget, in which Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling, in drag, are sitting on a couch reading a movie magazine and chatting while nearby Joe Dallesandro is getting a BJ from Gerri Miller! I was 16 years old and I mean this was just fabulous to me!

In high school I was very aware of what was going on in New York City, pop art, Max’s Kansas City, the Warhol scene. I knew I wanted to be a part of that.  There was a magazine out of New York called “After Dark” magazine that had these really hot photos of Joe Dallesandro, and Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling by photographer Jack Mitchell. I wanted to go to film school in New York and meet Andy Warhol and the Superstars and that is just what happened.

I was a freshman at NYU the fall of 1972, it was just a few years after Stonewall and gay liberation was happening and the first NYU gay student group wanted the University to allow the group to meet officially on campus and the administration did not immediately agree to this so there was a big demonstration announced – a sleep-in, actually in the basement of my dormitory at NYU and Jackie Curtis showed up for it in his signature drag, because Jackie knew that there would be press coverage and maybe TV cameras and Jackie was a publicity hound. And I was just entranced, I recognized him immediately and introduced, told him I was from Pittsburgh, that I loved Andy Warhol, that I loved him (Curtis) in “Flesh” and “Women in Revolt”, that I was majoring in film and television and wanted to film his plays and performances documentary style.

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We became instant friends. And I went around with Curtis to parties, to Max’s Kansas City, we hung out with Holly Woodlawn (who is still a great friend), Candy Darling, and I met Andy Warhol a couple of times. 

In 1974 Jackie played the starring role in his play “Glamor, Glory and Gold: the Life and Legend of Nola Noonan, Goddess and Star”, it was off-Broadway at the Truck and Warehouse Theater on the Lower East Side across the street from La Mama directed by Ron Link. And I told Ron I wanted to film the entire play and he allowed me to if I would show it at cocktail parties for his prospective backers. So I did that.

Everything about Jackie was amazing and exciting and I really wanted to make a documentary about Curtis’ life from the moment I met him. I loved Jackie. 

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{J.W.} How and when did Jackie Curtis meet Andy Warhol?

{C.H.} Jackie told me in August 1967 he and Candy Darling were walking in Greenwich Village and Jackie saw Andy Warhol and Fred Hughes coming out of the Leather Man store on Christopher Street.

Warhol had just bought some leather pants. Jackie ran up to Andy and introduced himself and asked for his autograph on the shopping bag Curtis was toting around. Warhol asked Jackie what was in the bag and Curtis told him it was satin shorts for the tap dancing scene in his play “Glamour, Glory and Gold” which was opening in September, Jackie invited him to come.

Jackie told me he went to the Factory with four tickets and gave them personally to Andy Warhol. He came and afterwards congratulated Curtis, the author and the start of the performance, Melba LaRose, Jr. played the lead Nola Noonan, and Candy Darling played Estelle and was reviewed as a woman.  Curtis asked Andy Warhol for a review quote and Warhol said of the play:  “For the first time, I wasn’t bored” which they used in advertisements! 

{J.W.} Jackie starred in the Paul Morrissey directed film “Flesh”. What was that like for Jackie? How did this film come about, Craig?

{C.H.} Warhol’s “Flesh” was Paul Morrissey’s response to “Midnight Cowboy” which was filming on location in New York City in 1968. Morrissey knew that Hollywood would tone down the subject matter and nudity and wanted to do something more gritty about a hustler (played by Joe Dallesandro) working the streets trying to raise money for his wife’s girlfriend’s abortion – talk about controversy in 1968 – that very concept was designed to stir up publicity and fill movie theater seats, especially with Warhol’s name attached to it.

Warhol and Morrissey already knew Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling and so Morrissey came up with an idea to have them sit on a couch and talk extemporaneously about a movie magazine while Joe Dallesandro is getting a blowjob from Geri Miller practically next to them in the same room!

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This was Jackie’s dream, to be in a movie in theatrical release on the big screen, and you bet that Curtis went to every screening and that it propelled him into more self-publicity (I believe this was the moment Curtis had 1000 Jackie Curtis shopping bags printed up which were sold in Greenwich Village head shops)!

{J.W.} Could you tell us about The Jack Mitchell Archives, Craig?

{C.H.} When I first began thinking about making “Superstar in a Housedress” I knew I would need lots of archival photographs of Jackie Curtis, and Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling, Andy Warhol and the whole crowd. And I immediately thought I need Jack Mitchell photographs, he photographed them more than any other photographer. But how was I ever going to afford license fees? I got on Google and did some research and found that Jack Mitchell had retired in 1995, he lived in New Smyrna Beach, Florida and he did not have a website. So I thought I will offer to do a website for him and to be his webmaster in exchange for the rights to his photographs. And that is just what happened.

Jack and his partner Bob Pavlik came to the opening night of the film at Film Forum in New York and everyone was there, they were very impressed, and loved the film and seeing his photographs in a feature length film in a theater with a packed audience. And the film toured film festivals and we had a theatrical run and it was broadcast on cable and Jack loved it all. It brought him new attention. And I called him and said I know what my next documentary subject is and it is you!

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+Jackie Curtis by Jack Mitchell+

I want to do a film about your life and work. And he was very pleased and excited. He put me in touch with people who were old friends and people he had photographed who loved his work that I could interview on camera, like Broadway diva Patti LuPone, playwright Edward Albee, Alvin Ailey dancer Judith Jamison, famed choreographer Merce Cunningham, and many others.

And I made the film “Jack Mitchell: My Life is Black and White” and Jack said that it was the greatest honor of his life. He and Bob came to the opening in New York and they came to film festival screenings and Jack did Q&A sessions afterwards with me and he loved it so much.

About a year later Jack and Bob called me and told me that they had decided to leave me Jack’s archives, the entirety of his life’s work, all the vintage photographs, his negatives and color transparencies, his files and memorabilia, everything. Bob died in 2009 at the age of 77 during an operation. Four years later on November 7, 2013 Jack died just weeks after his 88th birthday. I was there with him when he passed away and moved his archives to a vault.

A few months later I began the full time work of cataloguing and digitizing everything. It is a huge job. Jack Mitchell’s career as a professional photographer began just after World War II, when he moved to New York City and continued for about the next five decades. The negative files are almost 6000 photo sessions and there are thousands of boxes of color transparencies as well. There are 77 boxes of vintage prints. I have been working on it for almost two years and have many years of work left. It is very exciting and I make new discoveries with every box I open and every negative file that I scan.

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{J.W.} What was Jackie Curtis’ finest hour?

{C.H.} Jackie Curtis’ finest hour?  Any of the countless hours Jackie performed – whether is was in his hit play Glamour Glory and Gold, or Cabaret in the Sky, Vain Victory, or singing at his grandmother’s Slugger Ann’s Bar – Curtis was an incredible star of amazing brilliance. So many people remarked upon his being a genius: La Mama founder Ellen Stewart and comic icon Lily Tomlin among them.

Jackie Curtis had an electric charismatic magnetism that enthralled and thrilled audiences. I loved Jackie. Jackie put all of himself into every performance for the love of the art, and that is why it is really impossible for me to zero in on one performance, one hour, one moment. Now that he is gone, I think of him and a whole kaleidoscope of incredibly beautiful moments of sublime artistry blossom in my mind. As others have said, he was sui generis – absolutely unique.

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{J.W.} What will your next book be about, Craig? Any other projects that you wish to tell us about?

{C.H.} I have been working on the Jack Mitchell Archives (cataloging boxes of vintage prints, and scanning negatives and color transparencies) since Jack’s death two years ago. There is a lot of material for my memoirs including several years I spent running around with Curtis. I am going to work at what may be my memoirs, but potentially could take a new form (film or multimedia) because I have the journals, and visual and audio elements as well.

Also, I decided to post five of my documentary films on Vimeo for reasonably priced on-demand streaming, as well as downloadable for iPhone and iPad. Here is the link: https://vimeo.com/craighighberger/vod_pages/sort:videos/format:thumbnail

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+ 90S THROWBACK to HEROINE CHIC +

 

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Photograph by Davide Sorrenti 

There probably isn’t an aesthetic that struck a chord so controversial in fashion as the notorious 90s inclination towards the new look: Heroine Chic. We are starting to see a bit of a return to this vibe in some of the world’s most prestigious runways, not surprising as the 90s is taking the 21st century by storm these days.

According to Wikipedia, heroine chic is defined as:

a look popularized in mid-1990s fashion and characterized by pale skindark circles underneath the eyes and angular bone structure. The look, characterised by emaciated features and androgyny, was a reaction against the “healthy” and vibrant look of models such as Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer

We found this throwback video of a 1997 episode of Fashion Television (I miss you!) on the death of fashion wunderkind Davide Sorrenti who had been one of the industry’s top photographers for this new look.

Taking photos of his friends in New york City inspired by the images of Larry Clarke and Nan Goldin, and coming from a lineage of art/fashion, he quickly became the go-to for this latest look until his untimely death at only 20 years old from . . . you guessed it!

HEROINE! (Not doing very well for the cause . . . )

According to top 90s fashion photographer Corrine Day  (who is often attributed with the rise of Kate Moss to iconic model status and poster child of this new look) in a 1997 interview for Vogue:

“We were poking fun at fashion” – Corinne Day, 1997

Out of the 80s which was all about glam and excess, Corrine Day in particular, stripped down her editorials to the basics, and instead of big butts, red lips, exaggerated bosoms, and endless hair; she chose young nymph-like beauties with a more natural essence and a bit of grit for a more realistic aesthetic that was really a rejection of the then standard of beauty.

It’s hard to get the joke when you use the words ‘Heroine’ and  ‘Chic’ together, and then you think of the deaths of so many talented young people (first supermodel Gia Carangi, actor and E.O.F. Style Idol, River Phoenix, rock star Kurt Cobain, and of course, ‘heroine chic’ proprietor Davide Sorrenti) during this time, making it impossible to reject the realities that this truly was a problem in the industry. However, I think it is a shame to bash the entire industry and pigeon hole this aesthetic and its creators and muses as – EVIL.

After all, in the end – they are images. You take them as you do, and thats that.

“Is Heroine Chic even real?”

That’s a brilliant question Jeanne Beker asks in this clip, and its what I kept asking myself as I watched it. After all, even Bill Clinton had something to say about this trend and its abuse on younger generations who could be susceptible to the cool factor of the fashion industry essentially embracing drugs.

However, it wasn’t the photographers or models or industry people coining the phrase, it was simply a term coined by the media which quickly turned into a frenzy – on the verge of a witch hunt.

There will always be that push against changing times, and interestingly enough today we are seeing the shift realized towards more “full” sized women in the mainstream of the industry. But, in the end, what does that prove?

It is always important to push healthy body image, but honestly, some of these girls (and boys, too) cannot help being that thin, so I always find it unfair this constant scrutiny on body types. Perhaps, the less we made an issue of either end of the scale, there wouldn’t have to be a problem at all.

The truth is we don’t want to accept each other for what we are, which is absolute crime.

In the end, I guess this clip posted initially by Dazed & Confused Magazine really just got me thinking, and would definitely have me thinking for a while.  There’s no denying this controversial era absolutely broke down walls in the realm of fashion imagery, and brought a rebellion to the forefront that continues to this day.

Nobody is perfect, and that’s what I think this era really tried to capitalize on in the simplest way.

Milla Jovovich interviews at Fashion Out Loud circa. 1996 ft. Davide Sorrenti

The elusive world of fashion will probably always have some sort of bad rep, and that’s fine.

But don’t be silly enough to only look at the surface.

Try to dig deeper in all aspects of life.

Until next time,

{theEye}

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Commercial Break: Seventies Style Orgy – “Baba Yaga” (1973)

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Perhaps its the fashion photographer protagonist . . . or maybe the sexy 1970s set decor; most definitely attribute the funky score by Piero Umiliani (you know him – “Mah Nà Mah Nà”), as well as the brilliant presence of film legend, Carroll Baker (“The Watcher in the Woods“, “Babydoll“), and those quirky illustrations that appear, throughout the film – “Baba Yaga” is a bit of a shit show, but a wonderfully unique and stylish one, at that.

I thought Daily Grindhouse summed it up best:

Carroll Baker (BABY DOLL, THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS) is the titular stranger who is all sexed up with hunger for some female flesh. Baba Yaga sets her sights on fashion photographer Valentina Rosselli (Isabelle De Funes) after a chance encounter and soon pays a visit to her humble abode to deliver a doll dressed in some S&M gear for “protection”. After the visit, Valentina’s life is turned upside down; she is suddenly surrounded by death, hallucinations, Nazis (?), and more naked women than a Las Vegas casino. Of the four I prefer the naked women… just sayin’.

It’s these bizarre, unusual, and unexpected (perhaps, even absurd) elements that make a cult classic like this one to remember! You can totally read this film (even just the trailer) for clues on seventies style, and how timeless one can really make it. Love the stripes, the furs, the bobs, the rings . . . love it all! Even the menswear is pretty sublime.

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Did I mention there’s witches? You probably gathered, by now. After all – “Baba Yaga” literally translates to Devil Witch! So, sit back and enjoy the sumptuous feast of the best vintage, stylish,erotic, exploitation, sleaze in three and half minutes you’re bound to find on the internet!

Enjoy the pictures, too.

They really capture the little moments that make this one worth remembering.

[special thanks to Rock! Shock! Pop!]

The Eye of Faith has got you covered! We sift through the shit, to find you the good stuff.

Don’t forget to share with friends. I’m sure they will get a kick.

Seventies glamour is going to be right back in swing.

Or already is? Or never wasn’t?

Just brush up.

A bit.

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#RiotClub – Secret Society Style Prevails Yet Again!

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They don’t know when to stop . . . 

It’s as if they tapped into our brains with this one!

“Riot Club” is the latest film from British director Lone Scherfig who last brought us a vintage style feast in 2009’s “An Education”.

The film is a fictionalized vision based on the salacious modus operandi of the notorious Bullingdon Club, who came to the forefront of the media’s gaze in the 1980s as they trashed their way through some of England’s finest establishments. The most shocking aspect of their antics was that the band of bad asses were actually some of British society’s finest bred.

the bullingdon club

(1) the Hon. Edward Sebastian Grigg [the BBC Pension Trust sub-contractor and former SCREAM snuff-film director for Goldman Sachs], the heir to Baron Altrincham of Tormarton and current chairman of Credit Suisse (UK)
(2) David Cameron
(3) Ralph Perry Robinson, a former child actor, designer, furniture-maker
(4) Ewen Fergusson, son of the British ambassador to France, Sir Ewen Fergusson and now at City law firm Herbert Smith
(5) Matthew Benson, the heir to the Earldom of Wemyss and March
(6) Sebastian James, the son of Lord Northbourne, a major landowner in Kent
(7) Jonathan Ford, the-then president of the club, a banker with Morgan Grenfell
(8) Boris Johnson, the-then president of the Oxford Union, now Lord Mayor of London
9) Harry Eastwood, the investment fund consultant

Based on the play Posh by Laura Wade, the film delves into the manic musings of the centuries old club which resided within the historic confines of Oxford University, and the psychology of privilege that prevailed in the minds of the club’s most esteemed members.

Many members of the Bullingdon Club would go on to become some of England’s most powerful and influential politicians and businessmen including Prime Minister David Cameron, British ambassador to France Sir Ewen Fergusson, Jonathan Ford and Boris Johnson. Some of the club’s legendary members included King Edward VII, King Edward VIII, Cecil Rhodes, Nathaniel Rothschild, and Gottfried von Bismarck!

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Gottfried von Bismarck from the House of Bismarck – known for his righteous parties and supreme style wisdom. 

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Days of Being Wild with Nathaniel Rothschild & Friends . . .

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7. Nat Rothschild

Makes you think . . .

Needless to say, after watching the trailer for the film, we are psyched as ever to see the story of the Buller boys come to life! We love to see that secret society style truly is making its way to the forefront!

After all, everyday in life we encounter secret societies. Whether they be clubs or members only parties, or just the secret conversations with have with our friends and family – they are all the same. It’s that bond that keeps us all together in the end, and no matter how hard we try, we cannot escape wanting to feel like we belong to something exclusively ours.

This is the truth.

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Bullingdon Club, 2013.

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Can’t wait!

“I don’t think an evening would have ended without a restaurant being trashed and being paid for in full, very often in cash. […] A night in the cells would be regarded as being par for a Buller man and so would debagging anyone who really attracted the irritation of the Buller men.”

Andrew Grimson, biographer of Boris Johnson on the Bullingdon Club in the 1980s

[SOURCE]

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#RIOTCLUB 

Join the society!

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Krampus Christmas Time! Santa’s Personal Devil Side-Kick Might Just Be Visiting a House Near You . . .

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You better not shout. You better not cry. You better not pout, I’m telling you why . . . Krampus is coming to town!

That’s right, kids! Hide under your blankets, and seal your window tight, because this Holiday Season not only calls for the arrival of our good friend St. Nick, but along with the classic jolly do-gooder also comes his hungry devil friend!

No, my words are not tied. You heard it right! A devil friend! Every year for many hundreds of years, European tradition has depicted a very cruel and very hideous counterpart to Santa known as Krampus.

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Krampus is pretty much your stereotypical vision of the devil: red fur, horns, claws, even a weird sick little tongue he likes to stick out. Best part of all is he likes to carry around chains to beat and whip the kids that get in his way!!!

Throughout Northern Italy, Austria, and other parts of Europe, people celebrate Krampusnacht in honor of this holiday beast. Party-goers dress up as demons, devils, and witches, masquerading through the town intoxicated and terrifying adults and children, alike!

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Many people believe this tradition dates back thousands of years to Pagan traditions where both Krampus and Santa Clause can be seen in the archetypes of Old Man Winter and the Goat-Man. This must also be part of the whole SANTA = SATAN mythology.

Krampus isn’t a character you see anymore in the mainstream, but during the 19th Century and early 20th Century a huge craze for Krampus Greeting Cards swept Europe.

Surreal and a little cheeky, there is no avoiding the grim horror of such a devil beast actually torturing and even eating children for Christmas! But, seeing as this is The Eye of Faith, we thought some of these cards would be the perfect thing to share with our readers, and perhaps we may even start to see a resurgence! (This would make Krampus very happy . . .)

{Special Thanks to Morbid Anatomy for some of the Krampus pics . . . }

I always thought something was missing to the story of Christmas. Now it all seems to make (a bit more) sense . . .

Don’t forget to share these with your friends, and for more images and to learn more about the traditions of Krampus, please visit the official site!

Thanks for reading, and Happy Holidays!

Sincerely,

{theEye}

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+STYLE STAR+ INTERGALACTIC SUMMER WARRIOR of the Wu-Tang Clan, Morris Fox.

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We were pleased to find Montreal/Toronto artist Morris Fox rocking his summer best the other afternoon and were eager to catalogue his Intergalactic Urban Summer Warrior look for the books.

He is wearing a hand-dyed and painted galaxy take-over of a vintage Wu-Tang tank top (a Morris Fox Original), and a sick pair of DIY denim shorts (artists have all the secrets to getting the job done right).

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The pièce de résistance? An amazing vintage trucker hat with a killer 80s ‘INTRUDER’ graphic that includs radiating Hawk Eyes and a jet plane racing down a runway. Beyond!

Round it all out with a pair of leather boat shoes and you’re in style stardom, for sure, my friend!!!

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Talk about bring the {PAST} into the {FUTURE}; this is a great example of how a little imagination and skill can appropriate a tired article of the past into a vivid work of art that treads past the trends of today, and leads a vision towards a distinct new hope.

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Morris Fox from “Supra Violet Emanations”

Morris is inspired by archaeology, mythology, contemporary culture and seminal works of artists in the 20th/21st centuries, and also happens to be a close friend of The Eye of Faith.

This summer he is co-curating the Roundtable Residency at The Dragon Academy which The Eye of Faith’s own co-editor and artistic director Aaron Robert Duarte is very proud to be a part of.

Will keep you posted on all the art news, but until then, enjoy the wicked outfit, and check out some of Morris’ out-of-this-world-in-this-world art on his website, and be sure to GIVE HIM A LIKE on Facebook while you’re at it.

Morris Fox, “Foxhole” Installation – Wreck City, Calgary (2013)

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Until next time . . .

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Some items are as low as $8 for clothing

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Nixon’s 1968 “Together” Campaign


Nixon’s 1968 ad campaign, famously entitled “Together“, appeared on the last episode of AMC’s “Mad Men” on Sunday. We found ourself as inspired and provoked by the campaign as Don Draper seemed to be as he flicked through images playing on the T.V. screen.

 

Nixon - 1968 Vintage Esquire Mens Fashion Magazine

Nixon's The One- Vintage Pinback

 

Something definitely clicked with its simple message and use of still images because, if my history serves me correctly, Nixon would end up a victor in the race.

Nixon in 1968 - Victory Parade

While he remains one of the more notorious figures in history, there’s no denying he is also one of the more fascinating. . . with a surprising influence of fashion of the moment. Check it out!

 

1960s- Nixon Fashion

+paper dress – designer unknown+

Vintage nixon paper dress

Until next time,

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Festival De Cannes 2013 Line Up : A Past, Present, and Future of Cinema + Style

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The Festival de Cannes is upon us again, and if you were with us last year, we had a lot of fun covering the ups and downs of this iconic film and fashion event. After all, Cannes is a place where stars are born, and if you’re looking to get ahead of the game (any game, really) its best to stay up to date with all the festivities.

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One moment an unknown is sky rocketed to unbelievable heights of stardom, fame, and critical acclaim for just one night at the star-studded gala that has been in existence since 1946.

This year promises to be as extravagant and elegant an affair as ever, with Baz Luhrmann’s epic telling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” to open the competition. The film promises to bring back the Jazz Age with a roaring velocity only the 21st Century could handle.

Other notable candidates competing for the grand prize, the Palm D’Or, are Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewellyn Davis” starring Justin Timberlake and Gatsby co-star Carey Mulligan, Takashi Miike’s “Straw Shield“, François Ozon’s “Young and Beautiful“, Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska“, Roman Polanski’s “Venus in Fur“, and our much-anticipated favourite “Only God Forgives” directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, which offers up a bad-ass vision of crime and the underworld set in the sweltering heat of Thailand and stars Ryan Gosling in the lead role (click here to watch trailer).

Also taking off at the festival is Sofia Coppola’s latest film on the scandal and psychology of “The Bling Ring” – the infamous crew of L.A. socialite-wannabes who took media outlets by storm after being caught in a string of celebrity burglaries. The film kicks off the Un Certain Regard category which also includes James Franco’s “As I Lay Dying“. Based off a novel by William Faulkner, the film is written, directed, and stars the offbeat actor, so hopefully people can start giving the guy a little more credit around these parts!

And if you’re not a fan of the contemporary film scene, not to worry, as the Cannes Film Festival line-up has built in dozens of classic films to showcase and celebrate at this year’s festival, showing that  film past is just as powerful as film present, if not even more. After all, where would we be today without some of the great boundary-breaking films that got us here?

Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra”

Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor”

Alain Delon as Tom Ripley - la pleine soleil

Alain Delon as Tom Ripley in “La Plein Soleil”

These films are icons of style as well as cinema, and include in the line up Alain Resnais’s stunningly poetic “Hiroshima, Mon Amour” (starring “Amour”;s Emanuelle Riva), Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s elaborate and sumptuous “Cleopatra”, Jacques Demy’s charmingly whimsical “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg”, Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et la Bette” , Bernardo Bertolucci’s vivid 80’s epic “The Last Emperor”, and the creme de la creme of vintage menswear movies “Le Plein Soleil”, starring E.O.F. Style Idol Alain Delon as Patricia Highsmith’s cunning antihero Tom Ripley in Renee Clement’s classic 1960 film.

Another of the classics they are bringing to the screen at this year’s festival is Alfred Hitchock’s 1958 masterpiece “Vertigo”. To celebrate the new restoration of the film, the festival has invited the film’s star, Kim Novak, as the guest of honour to the Festival.

The film was not well-recieved well at all in the US upon its release, and misunderstood it remained for many years before the French propped it up for discussion as proof of Alfred Hitchcock’s auteurism (a term for a true artist of the cinema), so its no surprise to see the film celebrated to this day for its subtle artistry in creating an unsettling dreamlike mood that permeates throughout the entire story of “Vertigo”.

Here I was born, and there I died. It was only a moment for you;

you took no notice.

-Madeleine, “Vertigo”

[POP CULTURE MOMENT: Do you remember hearing the “Vertigo” soundtrack at the beginning of Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” music video? Listen back to the narrative opening of the full music video and you can hear “Vertigo” ‘s haunting theme . This theme is one of Bernard Hermann’s most iconic compositions, second maybe only to the blitzkrieg of strings in “Psycho”. Click here to see.]


It’s stylish, cool, classy, and the twist at the end is bloody brilliant. There might never be another movie like it. We suggest you rent this classic and make a night in watching this with a glass of vino and pretend you’re at Cannes, then dress up like Jimmy Stewart the morning after.

Check out the official website for the full details and for more information about the 2013 Fesbertival De Cannes. If you can’t be there this year, be sure to check back for more updates as they come!

Until next time,

{theEye}

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The Eye of Faith Gets “Lost in the Memory Palace: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller”

 

portrait_cardiff_miller_2012

[Photo: Zev Tiefenbach]

The world of Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and Geroge Bures Miller exist somewhere between reality and the vortex of our imaginations. . . 

The artist duo are known for their of-this-world out-of-this-world creations that combine objects, sound, images, mechanics, lighting, construction, and cinema to create one-of-kind experiments and showcases in the transcendental quality and nature of art.

As one of the world’s most internationally respected artist partnerships, we were lucky to get a chance to enjoy a retrospective of their work, in an exhibit appropriately title “Lost in the Memory Palace”, which runs from April 6 until August 18, 2013 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

From the beginning of their partnership in 1995 to their work today, the artist duo have expertly managed to create evocative and multi-textural and dimensional works that transport its viewers to other worlds and often exotic states of mind.

portrait-janet cardiff and george miller_Bodtlaender

The duo has cited cinema as a major driving force in their work, bringing the immersive technology of the cinema to life in a gallery setting,  allowing the viewers an accessibility and availability that is mostly foreign to other works in the art gallery setting. While we are often encouraged to keep a distance in the world of art, Cardiff-Miller’s pieces are encouragingly tactile and require a closer look.

This is not a show that you can skim through and really “get” immediately. Going into it with this frame of mind would be disaster.

Like a film, the pieces require a dose of commitment, and an ability to get lost in the world being offered to you by the artists. The worlds are often slightly disturbing as you notice odd-looking effigies, or are startled by an abrupt sound; the element of mystery is definitely in the air, forcing you to question your own reality.

Such is the case with “Dark Pool”, the couple’s first installation created in 1995.

Cardiff Miller- Dark Pool

darkpool_4

I like that the technology is so popular it is almost invisible so that people can become intimate with it. At the same time the recorded voice is removed and has a sense of past that a real voice doesn’t, so it can actually get closer to the audience through that removal. They feel safe being intimate with a removed voice.

-Janet Cardiff

You are invited to open a paint chipped antiquated door to enter a long, dark, small room filled to the brim with boxes, books, furniture, rolling racks, and antique objects. You might want to, at first, turn back in fear of what could be lurking in the shadows, but very quickly you find yourself exhilarated by curiosity. As you walk through the room, you hear voices and whispers from the past (children, an elderly woman, a young couple), and begin to notice the clues all around you:

darkpool_3

darkpool_5e

darkpool_5c

[Photos: Cardiff/Miller]

An opened book on reading tea leaves sits behind a tray full of dirty empty tea cups. Two viewfinders, side by side, show a man and woman in a passionate embrace, the other shows a couple with signs of stagnant disdain. You see a collection of porcelain hands. A half-eaten biscuit on a plate. You hear the sound of Judy Garland launch from the radio singing her tragic anthem, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. You notice a book that dictates the signs of mental instability.

Often times, as in the case of “Storm Room” (2009), the imagined world is created so thoroughly, you really do question whether the artists have perhaps maneuvered a time slip or some sort of trans-continental teleportation device to get you to the empty Dentist’s office near Tokamachi, Japan, that was recreated for the piece.

Storm Room 1

[Photo: N.M. Hutcgubson]

An elaborate system of pipes, lighting, and speakers provide an uber realistic rendition of finding yourself unsure, even whilst in the comfort of “safety”. You can hear the coughing of a neighbour in the next “room”, and while you wait for the storm to “end”, you find yourself wondering where exactly you might have landed.

Storm Room 2

[Photo: N.M. Hutcgubson]

As water streams down the windows, and the rolling sound of thunder rattles the floor, you notice a roll of Japanese dental floss, buckets filling with water, a telephone, some old Japanese calendars, and a floor fan that only helps instil the uncomfortable quality of a 1960s Hiroshi Teshigahara film.

The Killing Machine- Cardiff Miller

[Photo: Seber Ugarte & Lorena Lopez]

Another unsettling piece, 2007’s  “The Killing Machine”, transports to a world unexpected and unknown. Forcing the viewer to imagine the violence and pain of being held on its soft pink fur chair at the will of two  elegantly choreographed, rotating stabbing wands, the piece is equally unsettling as it is beautiful.

Cardiff Miller- the killing machine - 2007

[Photo: Seber Ugarte & Lorena Lopez]

A statement on the nature of capital punishment, as well as a riff off Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony”, the piece works on the level that it blends these horrors with a beautiful array of coloured lights, a disco ball (who doesn’t love a disco ball?), and almost triumphant orchestration for a bizarrely amusing and eerie imagining of our society’s indifference to killing.

The most impacting piece, had to be the first piece ventured to in the gallery – “Opera for a Small Room” which the couple created in 2005. The piece is a 20 minute long immersion into the tale of a sad and mysterious man (“R DENNEHY”) who speaks throughout the piece about his sad tale of lost love, and a seemingly lost sense of self.

Cardiff Miller - Opera for a Small Room

[Photo: Cardiff/Miller]

Contained in a small shed-like space filled to the brim with nearly 2,000 individual records, eight record players, and twenty-four antique loudspeakers; the piece encapsulate a mysterious, melancholy, and mildly sinister mood, all while telling the story of the strange man who embodies the space between the sounds of various arias, sounds, songs, and pop music. The entire story is aligned with the change of synchronized light and colour.

cardiff miller- opera for a small room- detail

cardiff miller- opera for a small room- detail 2

[Photo: Cardiff/Miller]

As the piece progresses you are enticed to circle the “room” to peer through the wall’s various cut-outs and doorways in hopes of gaining new perspectives on the world inside. As your eyes begin to wander you notice bowling trophies, suitcases, and other objects that add to this strange simulated reality. Its an opus of emotion, and another testament to the artists’ unique craft.

opera for a small room- cardiff miller- room

[Photo: Kunsthaus Bregenz]

   Writing is like a 3-Dimensional process for me. The words and sentences have to work with a physical space, resonate with that space. One thing works on the page but it’s a different thing when they are juxtaposed with a physical environment.

Janet Cardiff

Like a movie in real time playing before your eyes, the works of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller are remarkable and exciting works of contemporary Canadian art that we are lucky enough to have gotten the chance to enjoy so closely and thoroughly.

The artists’ cinematic tendencies and unusual combination of various sound and media point to a world where the disparate worlds of various arts and industry can coincide and exist together, for engaging and elevating works of art that not only provide an aesthetic experience, but delve deep into the psyche to penetrate the world of dream, nightmare, and emotion.

To put it plainly, “Lost in the Memory Palace” is as close to Utopia as we’ve seen in this world yet. There are plenty of other pieces by the couple to enjoy at the exhibit, so be sure not to miss out on this incredibly poignant and realized showing on now at the AGO.

“Lost in the Memory Palace: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller” at the Art Gallery of Ontario {April 6, 2013 – August 18, 2013}, for more info click here.

Until we meet again,

{theEye}

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E.O.F. Snapshot of the Day {November 6, 2012}

{“Don’t Swank! This is How You’ll Look When You’re Dead”

A Real Person Post Card Circa. 1906-1910}

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