“Baptized by Beefcake: The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana”

Raw, imaginative, larger-than-life original art and an absolute treasure of a collection.

‘In 1957, Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from its colonial power, the United Kingdom. As the world’s leading exporter of cocoa and provider of one-tenth of the world’s gold, its economy was one of the strongest on the continent; however, the complex and unstable political climate that came after independence threw Ghana into decades of economic collapse. Government corruption and financial mismanagement caused established agricultural businesses to fail, and the currency was continuously devalued. Ghanaians needed new, creative ways to make money.

One surprising industry that emerged to meet this need during the 1980s and 1990s was an independent, unregulated network of video distribution that presented pop-up movie screenings in ad hoc movie halls around the country. Many of these spaces had also been used as open-air places of worship for decades. To introduce an audience to this new form of entertainment, posters were hand-painted by local artists on cotton flour sacks and traveled with the films across the countryside.

Baptized by Beefcake presents the work of 22 artists whose posters tell the story of how Western movies not only became symbols of modernity, but also vehicles for religious experience. Each artist’s signature style reflects Ghana’s rich tradition of painting, as well as the influence of Western commercial graphics portrayed on VHS and PAL box covers. The eye-catching, sometimes shocking graphics reference a hybrid of indigenous and Pentecostal symbology, where Rambo and the Terminator become messengers of moral ideologies in a larger-than-life mashup of pop culture and religion” [source]

Poster House

December 28th, 2019

Yayoi Kusama || Ladder To Heaven

Stretching to infinity with the help of two mirrors – one on the ceiling, another on the floor – and colour changing LED lights. I’m not sure about the ”heaven” part, the effect is more like ”as above so below”, with worshippers debating on which direction is better to take.

From ”Yayoi Kusama: EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE”, an exhibition at David Zwirner, New York, 2019

November 29th, 2019

The ”Not Quite Human” Contortionists, by Hayv Kahraman

No sooner had we discovered Hayv Kahraman‘s distinctive figures in MASS MoCA earlier that month, than we came across them again, in Jack Shainman Gallery, Chelsea. I’m sure one could hold lengthy discussions about the artist’s technique and style, but it was the calmness – bordering on apathy – on the women’s faces while their bodies twisted and bent, assuming these impossible positions, that I found particularly attractive.

September 21st, 2019

Art that moves me no end

Aleah Chapin @ Flowers || Richard Serra @ Gagosian

Chelsea Gallery Walk

September 21st, 2019

Orlando @Aperture

Twenty-seven years after starring in Orlando, a film adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel, Tilda Swinton became a guest-editor in the Aperture 235 – Summer 2019 issue, and curator of an accompanying exhibition around the theme of the gender fluid, extraordinary character that is Orlando.

Some days ago we saw Tilda Swinton in conversation with B. Ruby Rich. Today, time for the exhibition.

Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, 1928 & Tilda Swinton’s ring from Orlando, 1992
Gail Albert Halaban || Necklace, Via Pietro Maestri, Milan, February 2017
Ethan James Green || Young New York Portfolio
Collier Schorr || Untitled (Casil), 2015-18
Collier Schorr || Untitled (Casil), 2015-18
Collier Schorr || Untitled (Casil), 2015-18
Collier Schorr || Untitled (Casil), 2015-18
Collier Schorr || Untitled (Casil), 2015-18

Collier Schorr has long been interested in how a body changes. For several years, she followed a model named Casil McArthur, who transitions over the course of Schorr’s project Untitled (Casil) from boyish girl to girlish boy, from artist’s muse to Bowie-like chameleon. Schorr remembers meeting Casil just as Casil had begun to start modeling as a young man rather than as a young woman. When Casil first began to transition, he worried about his future as a model. But the partnership with Schorr was perfectly legible within the fashion world, with fashions moving away from his/her clothing and toward the concept of they/them. Schorr explains that Casil’s fantasmatic appeal may have changed as he transitioned, but the mystery and the enigmatic quality that a model must project remained constant.

Viviane Sassen || Penicilline, 2019 || From Venus & Mercury series, 2019
Original photobook of preproduction images made by Sally Potter to help secure the funding for the film Orlando, 1988

Aperture, New York

June 5th, 2019

Brick House

Surrounded by glass, attracting stares; some stony. Why was she given no eyes of her own?

Brick House, Bronze

”Simone Leigh presents Brick House, a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a Black woman with a torso that combines the forms of a skirt and a clay house. The sculpture’s head is crowned with an afro framed by cornrow braids, each ending in a cowrie shell. Brick House is the inaugural commission for the High Line Plinth, a new landmark destination for major public artworks in New York City. This is the first monumental sculpture in Leigh’s Anatomy of Architecture series, an ongoing body of work in which the artist combines architectural forms from regions as varied as West Africa and the Southern United States with the human body. The title comes from the term for a strong Black woman who stands with the strength, endurance, and integrity of a house made of bricks.”

On the High Line

June 5th, 2019