Wednesday 19 January 2011

    art flood


    The ironic sculpture. The “Flood” sculpture, by artist Richard Tipping,

    is on the river’s edge at the Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm.

    It has now become the symbol to rally volunteers to help the arts in flooded Queensland.

    To register, Harvest Rain have setup a website.

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    Monday 13 December 2010

    Biddy Bags :: Knitting Nannas :: Social Enterprise


    Biddy Bags products are both a fashion and a social statement.

    Biddie Bags founder Samantha Jockel (middle), with her nanna Ivy Turner and business patron Sarah Blasko.

    Biddy Bags

    is a boutique social enterprise, the brainchild of Samantha Jockel,

    where seniors who knit, crochet and sew

    can be commissioned to create contemporary designs dreamed up by younger women.

    …connects socially isolated nannas and

    mature-aged ladies through craft, economic

    participation and social networking.

    …appreciates and values the skills of

    mature-aged women and challenges the idea

    that the older you get the less you have to

    contribute to society.

    …is inter-generational, combining

    contemporary fresh ideas of young women

    and the skills and crafting abilities of older

    women – to create the Biddy Bags designs.

    Patron: Sarah Blasko

    This is an original Biddy Bag.

    Each Biddy Bags design comes with the story of its maker and each ‘biddy’ shares in the company profits.

    “Even if they’re earning $50 a week from the sale of an $80 bag, it’s significant for the women,” Jockel says.

    Biddy Bags’ market is mostly women aged between 25 and 50, of which Jockel says there are two different types: those who think Biddy Bags’ products are “fun, silly and funky” and those who want to support its ethos of connecting and compensating older women for their time-honoured skills.

    While Jockel is yet to draw a wage from the business – “any money I make is reinvested back into the business”, she was recently named a top-three finalist in Channel 7′s Sunrise Business Builder of the Year awards, which lauds unsung heroes of small business.

    Other woollen strings to her bow have come via recent commissions from the Queensland, New South Wales and South Australian state galleries for her team of ‘nannas’ to create merchandise for the touring Rupert Bunny exhibition and an American impressionism exhibition from New York’s Met. The rest of the time, Biddy Bags sell at the Biddy Bags website, local markets and expo stalls.

    “Initially I didn’t want to make things like tea cosies because I thought they were (ironically) way too nanna, but then I started getting emails from people asking for them. I did the research, found not one business on the internet exclusively selling tea cosies, so figured there must be a gap in the market.”

    Now, the tea cosies are Biddy Bags’ second-biggest seller. As well as the cupcake one featured, there is the iconic pineapple that I love too. Still can’t decide which one to bring home!

    To purchase visit Biddy Bags, and read the recent article in SMH source of the above excerpt.

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    Friday 12 November 2010

    Ruby paints the town red & waves goodbye to Valentino.


    “I know what women want. They want to be beautiful.” Valentino

    GOMA was a sea of Valentino signature red

    when Ruby Connection ‘gals’ frocked up last night to celebrate the final moments of

    Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future.

    White goddess gowns, sherbet-shaded suits, signature red hue dresses…

    We had a lovely evening of frocks and champagne

    and failed to decide which a haute couture creation was the most beautiful!

    There are only days remaining to experience the

    inspiration and passion of legendary couture fashion designer

    Valentino Garavani.

    Exclusive to Brisbane, ‘Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future’ will finish this weekend, 14 November.

    This major exhibition was developed by Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris

    with the assistance of the Valentino Italian fashion house.

    The retrospective of 100 ensembles

    includes some of the most important haute couture creations originally shown in the exhibition

    ‘Valentino: Themes and Variations’ at Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris, in 2008.

    A chorus of red-dressed women pay homage in the

    Valentino a Roma: 45 Years of Style exhibition at Rome’s Ara Pacis Museum in 2007.

    He romanticised the idea of woman as goddess with his long, figure-flattering silhouettes in silk, chiffon and lace, intricately beaded, sequinned and ruffled, that became the ultimate in hold-the-front-page dressing.

    “I love women,’’ Valentino was often heard to say.

    “I have always tried to make them look very sexy, very glamorous.’’

    In 1968 Valentino had one of his greatest triumphs, the ‘White Collection’

    ~ an all-white pring-Summer collection that became famous for the “V” logo he designed.

    Valentino was an ardent fan of pantsuits for women in the early ’70s

    and pioneered radical looks like evening pajamas and turbans.

    Princess Luciana Pignatelli

    Audrey Hepburn wore a lot of Valentino in the ’60s, and from his legendary Spring 1968 all-white collection this lacy vanilla mini, is a version of the dress that Jackie O chose for her Skorpios ceremony when she wed Aristotle Onassis.

    Known around the world for its sophisticated, timeless design and glamorous clientele, the exhibition showcases a stunning array of Valentino Garavani’s haute couture designs from the late 1950s through to his final collection in January 2008, as well as recent creations by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli – appointed Creative Directors in October 2008.

    On display are famous gowns worn by royal families, socialites and hollywood celebrities including Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor.

    Above is the stunning black and white gown Julia Roberts wore to the 73rd Academy Awards in 2001,

    and below Cate Blanchett in a lovely lemon Valentino dress when she won an oscar.

    Elizabeth Taylor wore this elegant pleated chiffon evening gown with ostrich-feather trim to the premiere of Spartacus in Rome in 1961.

    The legendary ‘White Collection’ captured his trademarks of feminine sophistication and slavish attention to detail.  The pics below show ice-princess nobility in an evening suit of white cotton serge with a jacket and vest embroidered with braid, pearls and strass crystals from the autumn/winter 1968 collection.

    A cocktail suit of ivory tulle with flowers embroidered in beads, sequins and strass crystals

    from spring/summer 2008 has a timeless quality.

    Chiuri and Piccioli embraced the beauty of couture technique and reflected the tradition of Valentino in the Haute Couture Autumn Winter 2009-10 collection shown below.

    “This was the first couture show where we showed our vision of the brand. Creating an entirely black collection felt right for us because for our generation, black is black, almost not a colour, it is a part of our everyday lives,’’ says Chiuri. “We wanted to show what’s inside the craftsmanship of couture. It’s beautiful but nobody knows about it, so for this collection we wanted everything to be transparent, to show the corsetry underneath, and the intricate stitches that pull together every ruffle.’’

    They played with enduring Valentino materials such as lace, but worked with it in a patchwork of different laces, allowing the colour of the skin to come through to make the pattern appear almost like a tattoo. “We want a woman’s personality to be part of the dress. She is wearing the dress, not the dress wearing her. This is our change in point of view.’’

    The duo also likes to mix materials – embroidery, lace, feathers, chiffon – so it can’t be described in just one way. “It gives a new harmony. Depending on who it wears it, it will say different things,’’ says Piccioli.

    The Chiuri-Piccioli pieces contain hints of original Valentino but also evidence of the design duo’s distinctively more dangerous and risque appeal. Much like the two themselves: Chiuri with her wild, frenetic pace and throaty Roman voice, Piccioli with his cool denims and perfectionist’s eye.

    The exhibition explores Valentino’s techniques and recurring motifs

    such as ornamentation, the use of geometric and animal prints, frills, folds and pleats

    as well as the creative possibilities of volume, surface and line.

    The silk serge gown with handpainted coral motif below is from the Spring/Summer 1968 collection.

    Photo: Ruven Afanador

    Evening gown (detail) above| Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2008| Strapless evening gown made of silk voile appliquéd with silk voile ruffles and corollas in graduated shades of pink; fabric: Clerici-Tessuto

    Evening gown below| Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2003 | Strapless evening gown with low-set draped pale crimson chiffon sleeves, a train with appliqué pleated crimson taffeta rosettes and red strass crystals in their centres, and pink and grey taffeta rosettes in its lining; fabric: Buche-Guillaud; embroidery: Marabitti

    This gorgeous pink dress below is one of my favourites.

    Valentino Evening ensemble Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2007–08 / Empire dress with draped bodice, sheath with ribbed darts and triangular train made of pink silk crêpe; cape entirely composed of pink organdy petals; fabric: Ostinelli; embroidery: Pino Grasso / Collection: Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris

    The exhibition embodies the glamor, beauty, and ambition of an age

    when garments were handcrafted to an uncompromising standard perfection.

    Queensland Art Gallery director , Tony Ellwood

    Valentino was the first couture house outside of Paris to be officially recognised by the French Government. The exhibition, curated by Pamela Golbin, curator-in-chief for the Fashion and Textiles collection of Les Arts Décoratifs, features a selection of signature ‘Valentino red’ dresses, including one from the couturier’s first collection — ‘Fiesta’, a strapless cocktail dress in draped tulle from Spring/Summer 1959. Valentino often collaborated with master milliner Philip Treacy to create some signature hats and headwear.

    Valentino Haute Couture from left: Chantilly lace, tulle, and chiffon ballroom dress, draped Chantilly lace tunic with bronze tulle and lacquered lace, Chantilly lace and feather dress, floral cage ballroom gown. Mask & hat ~ Philip Treacy.

    His ‘V’ logo is famous all over the world.

    Valentino is synonymous with opulence, extravagance, and drama. In business since 1960, Valentino Garavani made his mark early with intricately detailed, luxurious gowns and tastefully body-conscious silhouettes—even perfecting his own shade of Valentino Red.

    Valentino became interested in clothes and fashion in primary school. He was inspired by his Aunt Rosa and learnt the basics of fashion design from her as an apprentice. Valentino dreamt of becoming a fashion designer.

    Valentino Garavani was born in Voghera, north of Milan on May 11, 1932. While attending high school he shows a precocious artistic temperament and soon becomes interested in fashion. He takes courses in fashion design and studies French to prepare himself to move to Paris. He is 17 years old when he arrives in the then world capital of fashion and couture. After a few years’ apprenticeship in the Fashion Houses of Jean Desses and Guy Laroche, Valentino returned to Rome at the beginning of the 60s to open his own atelier. Those are the years of the Dolce Vita and many Hollywood stars who come through Rome discover Valentino and determine his quick fame.

    Rome (1959-1962) In 1959 Valentino left Paris and moved back to Italy with his lover, French socialite Gerald Nanty and opened a fashion house in Rome on the posh Via Condotti with the backing of his father and an associate of his. More than an atelier, the premises resembled a real “maison de couture“, being it very much on the line of what Valentino had seen in Paris: everything was very grand and models flew in from Paris for his first show. Valentino became known for his red dresses, in the bright shade that became known in the fashion industry as “Valentino red”.

    On 31 July 1960 Valentino met Giancarlo Giammetti at the Café de Paris on the Via Veneto in Rome. One of three children, Giammetti was in his second year of architecture school, living at home with his parents in the haut bourgeois Parioli section of Northern Rome. That day Giammetti gave Valentino a lift home in his little Fiat and a friendship as well as a long-lasting partnership started. The day after, Giammetti was to leave for Capri for vacation and by coincidence Valentino was also going there so they met again in the island 10 days later. Giammetti would shortly after abandon the University to become Valentino’s business partner. When Giammetti arrived, the business situation of Valentino’s atelier was in fact not brilliant: in one year he had spent so much money that his father’s associate pulled out of the business, and had to fight against bankruptcy. Giammetti’s entrepreneurial genius proved fundamental to the worldwide expansion and success of the House.

    Valentino with Giammetti in the office at the palazzo mignanelli, Rome.

    Valentino’s White Collection in 1968 in which the winning “V” first appears, turned him into an unsurpassed king of fashion. Done in all-white, Valentino stitched his trademark Vs on pockets, into lapels. White tights hand-painted with gold sold for over $200. Even Valentino said it was the best he had ever done.

    This very modern White Collection, was considered quite radical, and a challenge to London’s stronghold on 1960s fashion. The fashion press dubbed Valentino both the King of Fashion and the Sheik of Chic.

    The lace mini-dress he designed for Jacqueline Kennedy’s marriage to Aristotle Onassis made the covers of magazines around the world.

    In 1964 Jacqueline Kennedy had seen Gloria Schiff, the twin sister of the Rome-based fashion editor of American Vogue and Valentino’s friend Consuelo Crespi, wearing an ensemble in two pieces in black organza at a party. Jackie called Gloria Schiff to know the name of the designer and found out it was some Valentino. In September 1964, Valentino had a show at the Waldorf-Astoria for a benefit. Since Jackie wanted to see the clothes, he sent his saleslady, along with a model, to Jackie’s apartment on Fifth Avenue. Mrs. Kennedy ordered six outfits and from then on she became a devout client and a friend. She then bought six of his couture dresses, all in black and white, to wear during her year of mourning after President John F. Kennedy’s death. Valentino later on would also design the white dress that Jackie wore to her wedding with Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis.

    In 1978 he launches his own perfume during a gala in Paris, where guest star Mikhail Baryshnikov dances Tchaikowski’s La Dame de Pique at the Theatre des Champs Elysees.

    Thanks in part to the entrepreneurial skill of Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s longtime business partner and ex-boyfriend, the brand is still manna among European royalty, American socialites, and celebrities craving a touch of class. Though his new creations get a great deal of attention—and requests, especially around red-carpet time—his vintage dresses continue commanding attention. To the horror of loyal fans across the globe, Valentino announced his retirement in 2007. Since he hadn’t groomed an heir, the label is still trying to find its footing: Former Gucci designer Alessandra Facchinetti took over as head designer until being unceremoniously fired after her spring 2009 collection. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, who had previously designed accessories for the label, were then named creative directors.

    Celebration of 45 years of Valentino

    In order to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Valentino’s career a fashion extravaganza took place in Rome between 6 and 8 July 2007. Festivities started on Thursday 5 July with a dinner for Valentino’s assistants and employees at Ristorante Gusto and ended on Sunday 8 July with the launch of a perfume and a brunch at the French Academy of Villa Medici.

    The main five exclusive golden invitation cards have been sent

    from the Valentino headquarters  for the main weekend’s events:

    6 July 2007 at 7:30 pm: inauguration of the exhibit “Valentino in Rome, 45 years of style” designed by Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda at the ancient sacrificial altar Ara Pacis showcasing Valentino’s most important creations from the past 45 years. Valentino has gone through his archives and his clients’ closets to narrow down his choices to about 300.

    6 July 2007 post-exhibit gala dinner at the Temple of Venus in the Imperial Forum. Dating back to 135 A.C. and dedicated to Emperor Hadrian the forum had never been opened to any event. Oscar-winning designer Dante Ferretti (The Aviator, Gangs of New York, The Age of Innocence) re-created the monument’s long-lost columns in fibre glass, a special procedure called anastilosys. Valerio Festi designed a spectacular performance by high-wire ballerinas (costumed in exaggerated versions of the designer’s ball gowns or signature lipstick-red evening dresses), who moved with poetic grace to Maria Callas’s haunting arias, with the Coliseum, bathed in red and mauve light, as a breathtaking backdrop. The plexigas structure remained for the summer for tourists to enjoy. Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli also revealed that Valentino contributed to the restoration of the Temple with a donation of 200,000 euros.

    7 July at 5.00 pm: fashion show for 1000 people. For the first time after 16 years Valentino’s Haute Couture fashion show will not take place in Paris during the HC fashion week but in Rome. Socialite and long-time Valentino fan Marina Palma took over the fashionable Bolognese restaurant for a tribute lunch before the international guest list set off for the designer’s bravura couture runway show.

    The fashion setting was two halls called Sala Incisa and Sala Baglivi of the restructured 16th century Santo Spirito in Saxia complex, next to Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican. Valentino showed about 61 couture dresses, a record number considering an HC show never shows more than 40 gowns. The collection referenced many of the leitmotifs revealed in the retrospective at Ara Pacis and was a tour de force of the flawless and unmatchable techniques that Valentino’s brilliant workrooms. The music segued from Mahler’s Fifth to Maria Callas’s hauntingly beautiful rendition of Puccini’s ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ as Valentino took his bow.

    Fellow designers who attended included Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Donatella Versace, Tom Ford, Diane von Fürstenberg, Carolina Herrera, Zac Posen, Manolo Blahnik, and Philip Treacy among them—led the standing ovation, which drew tears from the habitually unflappable designer, who embraced Giancarlo Giammetti on the runway.

    The post-show gala dinner and ball took place in the Parco dei Daini at the Villa Borghese. There Dante Ferretti had created a Brighton Pavilion-inspired tent, with palm-tree columns and red, black, and mirrored walls, in the gardens. Guests included Princess Caroline of Monaco, Anna Wintour, former Persian Empress Farah Diba,Jacqueline de Ribes, Elton John, Karl Lagerfeld, Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece, princess Rosario of Bulgaria, princess Firyal of Jordan as well as MayorWalter Veltroni. Other movie stars in attendance included Uma Thurman, Anne Hathaway, Elizabeth Hurley, Sarah Jessica Parker, Joan Collins, Sienna Miller, Michael Caine, Jennifer Hudson, and Eva Mendes. Singer Annie Lennox held a surprise concert.

    A hardcover companion to the exhibition, published by Rizzoli, celebrates Valentino Garavani’s 49 year- career, focusing on his most important and emblematic haute couture designs.

    Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future.

    The exhibition honours his exquisite tailoring and paparazzi-pleasing floating fripperies.

    {Images via Queensland Art Galleryeternally cool}

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    Sunday 7 November 2010

    come with me to a place where paper boats fly…


    …between stars afloat in the night sky…

    I can never resist Kylie Johnson’s exquiste, poetic and inspirational ceramic works. Kylie is an artist and poet who surrounds herself with beautiful handmade creations, works in progress, and lots of interesting curiosities. She creates the most gorgeous xmas work that is worthy of a special posting.

    One of the joys this weekend was her beautiful market stall at finders keepers….

    a wonderfilled market,
    under beautiful skies,
    shaded by big old trees as the musicians played,
    and happy customers explored the  artistic delights in the majestic old museum space.

    One of these hearts

    and a quote tag

    ‘Cherish the day’

    came home to live with me.

    Pia Jane Bijkerk visited her studio in february and she captured the moment in her blog,

    enhance the everyday

    “…the home studio of Kylie Johnson, creator of paper boat press. Kylie lives in Brisbane, Australia, in one of the most picturesque quiet corners of a city I’ve ever seen. Surrounded by huge native eucalyptus, wattle, ferns and palm trees, Kylie works on her clay creations, illustrations, and poetry in her studio which is an outdoor room overlooking the trees and a gorgeous old church.”

    Below are some photo’s from Pia’s blog that capture the creative process of Kylie’s beautiful works.

    {For more or to become a happy owner of Kylie’s work visit her online at paper boat press and enjoy her lovely blog ~ instinct & grace}

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    Thursday 21 October 2010

    Jacaranda homage


    Under the jacaranda 1903 by R. Godfrey Rivers

    This is one of my favourite paintings

    ~ it beautifully captures the joy of a flowering jacaranda with a carpet of purple blossoms,

    and  often real jacaranda petals will mysteriously appear on the floor below the painting.

    FOR more than 100 years Under the Jacaranda

    has been one of the most beloved paintings at the Queensland Art Gallery.

    With its profusion of mauve blossoms it is considered the quintessential image of Brisbane. Such is its appeal that sometimes real jacaranda blossoms will mysteriously appear on the floor below the painting, as if they have cascaded from it.

    One of the most fascinating features of the painting is that the tree

    depicted is the first jacaranda grown in Australia.

    It was planted in 1864 in Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens by Walter Hill, the garden’s superintendent, who obtained the jacaranda seed from Brazil via the Australian wheat ships that traded with South America. The tree was a landmark until it was blown over by a cyclone in 1980, but jacarandas now grow in most Brisbane suburbs and many were grown from the seeds and cuttings of this first jacaranda.

    The jacaranda is such a Brisbane symbol it even features in the city’s urban myths.

    Brisbane university students know that when the jacaranda blooms it’s time to start studying for exams. The story goes that if a jacaranda flower drops on your head you will fail your exams. To reverse your fortune you must catch a bloom, in your right hand, before it falls to the ground.

    Under the Jacaranda shows the artist and his wife, Selina (whom he married in 1901), taking tea. The setting is the Botanic Gardens, which at that time adjoined the grounds of the Brisbane Technical College where Rivers taught from 1891 to 1915. Rivers, who was born in 1859 in England, studied at London’s Slade School of Art and exhibited at the Royal Academy before he migrated to Australia in 1889. He first taught at Katoomba College in NSW, then moved to Brisbane in 1891 when he was appointed art master at the Brisbane Technical College.

    Rivers was perhaps Brisbane’s most prominent artist of the time. He established a local reputation as a portrait painter and was influential in the local arts scene. He was president of the Queensland Art Society, was instrumental in the establishment of the Queensland Art Gallery and was the gallery’s first curator. In 1915, he died of typhoid fever. His ashes were interred in Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane. Selina died in 1948 and was also buried in Toowong.

    Elizabeth Taylor’s Violet Eyes

    Whilst visiting the gallery to honour the jacaranda season and enjoy Under the Jacaranda, I was reminded of Elizabeth Taylor’s incredible violet eyes, captured so wonderfully by Douglas Kirkland in the A Life in Pictures’ exhibition.

    I got my start {photographing movie stars} with Elizabeth Taylor.

    I was asked to go to Las Vegas and sit in on an interview that Elizabeth Taylor was giving to Look,

    the first after Mike Todd’s tragic death. She had been sick and no one had seen her for a while.

    But she had specified no pictures. I sat quietly through the interview and at the end,

    I took her hand, held it and looked into her violet eyes and said,

    “It’s nice to meet you, Elizabeth. I’m new with this magazine.

    Can you imagine what it would mean to me if you gave me an opportunity to photograph you?”

    She thought for moment and said, “Okay.  Come tomorrow night at 8:30.”

    The shoot was a success; it became the cover on Look and was published all over the world.

    Elizabeth as Cleopatra, whose favourite colour was purple.

    {images: R. Godfrey Rivers | England/Australia 1859-1925 | Under the jacaranda 1903 | Oil on canvas | 143.4 x 107.2cm | Purchased 1903 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery; Elizabeth Taylor, 1961 by Douglas Kirkland; Elizabeth as Cleopatra}

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    Saturday 10 July 2010

    A riotous assembly arrives from Russia


    "Last Riot 2. The Caroussel", 2006

    “A group of photogenic young models in trainers and combat trousers move in stylised slow motion across a fantasy landscape to the strains of a Wagner opera.

    No, it’s not the latest Calvin Klein ad campaign but Last Riot by the Russian art collective AES+F, a three-screen video installation that had people queueing around the block at the 2007 Venice Biennale.” Gareth Harris, The Times.

    AES+F: THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW! opened at UQ Art Museum last night and includes two major video installations by the renowned Russian art collective – The Feast of Trimalchio and Last Riot 2 – alongside a new series of large-scale digital “paintings”.

    Last Riot depicts the heroic and pointless fight of the immortal gods in a virtual Valhalla. It is a war in a virtual 3-D world of virtual madness set against a baroque atmosphere.
 The soldiers are androgynous, they have one identity, that of rebels of the ‘last riot’. The AES+F collective describes them ‘…everyone is fighting against the others and against themselves. There is no difference between victim and aggressor, male and female.  This world celebrates the end of ideology, history, and ethic.’ (

    Last Riot: The Cathedral, 2007

    The characters exist in a world of trains, planes, missiles and wind farms, but their poses pay tribute to Baroque painter Caravaggio, as a soundtrack dominated by Wagner swirls around them.

    Tondo #16, from the Last Riot 2 series, 2005-07

    The scenes are full of motion, but the motion is eerily meaningless; the adolescent figures keep thrusting weapons at each other but never draw a drop of blood.

    “We want to make art based on Mannerist and Baroque painting,” says Lev Evzovich, an AES+F member. “Contemporary visual culture is reminiscent of the Baroque school: expressive, figurative and decadent.”

    The art group held a mass casting session in Moscow to find “Caravaggio transgendered types, masculine girls and effeminate young men”. The 45 paid participants in Last Riot were plucked from the capital’s nightclubs, restaurants and even the Bolshoi Ballet School.

    The AES+F Group comprises four Russian artists. Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch and Evgeny Svyatsky have collaborated as AES since 1987, and have worked with photographer Vladimir Fridkes since 1995 (AES+F Group). Arzamasova and Evzovitch are graduates of Moscow Architectural Institute, Svyatskiy is a graduate of Moscow University of Printing Arts, and Fridkes has been a fashion photographer for Russian editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and others. In collaboration, their work has included photo-projects, video, sculptures and installations.

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    Saturday 10 July 2010

    Feasting on Russian artist collective ~ AES+F


    The Feast of Trimalchino. Triptych 1, Panorama 2

    Last night I experienced the incredible digital artworks of fantasy worlds by the

    highly acclaimed Russian contemporary artist collective, AES+F.


    opened last night at the UQ Art Museum, showing photographic and new-media artworks,

    including two large-scale digital video installations:

    The Feast of Trimalchio and Last Riot 2

    previously shown at the Venice Biennale 2009 and 2007 respectively.

    AES+F's Arrival of Golden Boat (2010). Collection of Dr Dick Quan, Sydney

    The Feast of Trimalchio transported me to a hotel paradise, where guests can enjoy the excesses of wealth, luxury and gluttony. The AES+F artists have created their beautiful visual feast with the glamour of an advertising campaign for a luxury brand.

    The Feast of Trimalchino. Triptych 1, Panorama 3

    The Feast of Trimalchino. Triptych 1, Panorama 1

    The Feast of Trimalchio is an Olympic-sized orgy of wealth and pleasure.

    Set in a luxury hotel on an artificially constructed island paradise, the guests and staff change roles to live out their gastronomic and erotic fantasies. Despite the hotel’s endless pleasures, anxiety, inequality, and disaster continually threaten to destroy this very contemporary vision of paradise. Based on the Roman “novel” Satyricon by Petronius, the piece questions the roles of servants and guests in international hotels.

    The Feast of Trimalchio

    using imagery of high-fashion, cinema, lifestyle magazines, and luxury design,

    was shot in an old film studio in Moscow with 120 models of all ages.

    Allegoria #8 (The War of Worlds) 2010 Lambada print on paper

    The AES+F group provides the following text about this work:

    “In the ‘Satyricon‘, the work of the great wit and melancholic lyric poet of Nero‘s reign, Gaius Petronius Arbiter, the best preserved part is ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ (Cena Trimalchionis). Thanks to Petronius’s fantasy, Trimalchio‘s name became synonymous with wealth and luxury, with gluttony and with unbridled pleasure in contrast to the brevity of human existence.

    We searched for an analogue in the third millennium and Trimalchio, the former slave, the nouveau riche host of feasts lasting several days, appeared to us not so much as an individual as a collective image of a luxurious hotel, a temporary paradise which one has to pay to enter.

    The hotel guests, the ‘masters’, are from the land of the Golden Billion. They’re keen to spend their time, regardless of the season, as guests of the present-day Trimalchio, who has created the most exotic and luxurious hotel possible. The hotel miraculously combines a tropical coastline with a ski resort. The ‘masters’ wear white which calls to mind the uniform of the righteous in the Garden of Eden, or traditional colonial dress, or a summer fashion collection. The ‘masters’ possess all of the characteristics of the human race – they are all ages and types and from all social backgrounds. Here is the university professor, the broker, the society beauty, the intellectual. Trimalchio’s ‘servants’ are young, attractive representatives of all continents who work in the vast hospitality industry as housekeeping staff, waiters, chefs, gardeners, security guards and masseurs. They are dressed in traditional uniforms with an ethnic twist. The ‘servants’ resemble the brightly-colored angels of a Garden of Eden to which the ‘masters’ are only temporarily admitted.

    On one hand the atmosphere of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ can be seen as bringing together the hotel rituals of leisure and pleasure (massage and golf, the pool and surfing). On the other hand the ‘servants’ are more than attentive service-providers. They are participants in an orgy, bringing to life any fantasy of the ‘masters’, from gastronomic to erotic. At times the ‘masters’ unexpectedly end up in the role of ‘servants’. Both become participants in an orgiastic gala reception, a dinner in the style of Roman saturnalia when slaves, dressed as patricians, reclined at table and their masters, dressed in slaves’ tunics, served them.

    Every so often the delights of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ are spoiled by catastrophes which encroach on the Global Paradise…”

    All the usual ‘Club Med’ activities are on site – squash, golf, massage, aerobics and gyms. Children are looked after elsewhere. Platters of fruit and rows of reclining chairs are arranged in perfect symmetry. The holiday-makers exercise en masse; rows of treadmills extend into the horizon. Like in other AES+F works, there are often classical and religious motifs and references. A weights machine stands in for the cross – capturing the focus of the new religious zeal: ourselves.

    The Feast of Trimalchio showed at the Venice Biennale on 9 screens in a circle around the viewer.

    The Feast of Trimalchio initially debuted in the exhibition Unconditional Love at the 53rd Venice Biennale,

    as a monumental 9-channel video installation and a series of large-scale digital ‘paintings’.

    is a collective of four Russian artists, Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky and Vladimir Fridkes, who work with photography, video, sculpture and mixed media. The group is known for its masterful manipulation of the fashion and advertising idiom which, when combined with a deep appreciation of the history of art, produces slick yet complex and challenging narratives.

    See A riotous assembly arrives from Russia post on Riot 2 artwork.

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