Amelia’s Magazine | Barbican Art Gallery: Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s

Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011 by Rebecca Strickson
Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011 by Rebecca Strickson.

I think I might have been unfairly harsh about Georgia Hardinge last season: I take it all back. This was an extraordinary show for the former Ones to Watch candidate. One to Watch Like a Hawk more like. Georgia has been chosen for special Fashion Scout mentoring and this collection proved that all the hype has been totally worthy.

Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011 by Lou Taylor
Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011 by Lou Taylor.

Georgia is undoubtedly enamoured of the dark side of life, website like this pilule so her A/W collection was inspired by the photographs of Joel-Peter Witkin, cheap who favours themes of death and disfigurement. The prints – ethereal white on black and building on similar ones from last season – were based on internal anatomies, digitally warped to create butterfly-like symmetrical patterning on tops, trousers and figure hugging dresses.

Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011 by Faye West
Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011 by Faye West.

But it is for her sculptural techniques that Georgia Hardinge has built such a glowing reputation in record time, and this time I was perfectly placed in the front row to admire the intricately layered and pleated dresses, tight trousers and leather jackets up close. By working with the contours of the figure she had created a far more wearable collection than last season, whilst still retaining her singular vision: the show climaxed with a magnificent whorled and hunched cream coat, worn on the shoulders like the carapace of an exotic beetle.

Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia GregoryGeorgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Georgia Hardinge A/W 2011. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

She may have had an under attended grave yard slot early on Saturday morning but Georgia is most definitely one of London Fashion Week’s rising stars. You can read Florence Massey’s review here.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

After racing around during the morning, medications I hotfooted it down to Cooperative Designs presentation at Durham House on The Strand.

A favourite of Amelia’s Magazine, what is ed Cooperative Designs was created by Annalisa Dunn and Dorothee Hagemann who met whilst studying at Central Saint Martins. They have gone on to produce their own collections, approved collaborate with Hussein Chalayan and consult for other brands and stores.


Illustration by Joana Faria

The collection is inspired by early nineties pop culture, the Drum N’ Bass scene and industrial photography, taking its title from the East 17 song ‘It’s Alright’. Apparently the music in the girls’ studio whilst designing this collection was “classic nineties garage: ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’, ‘Do You Really Like It?’, ‘Re-rewind’ and Oxide and Neutrino ‘Bound 4 Da Reload’.”


Illustration by Rachel Lewis

I went to the basement of Durham House (home of the RSA) for the presentation. The dim lighting, sounds of thundering bass lines, raw exposed brickwork and vaulted ceilings evoked an underground rave, offering the perfect location for the collection. The references were boldly apparent as the models strode through the space. The label’s signature graphic patterns were used in a palette of greys, black, khaki and earthy hues with neon detailing. Trousers were low and baggy with utilitarian combat styling such as oversized pockets; knitwear long and loose, worn with cropped tops.

Heeled boots from German brand Flip Flop were customised with neon laces and worn with striped slouch socks, adding a touch of femininity to the primarily industrial mood. Models wore high beanie hats in chunky knits and square-peaked caps by Noel Stewart – more than a slight nod to East 17.

Scaled barcode-esque stripes resonated with woven flashes of fluro, and sportswear influence presented itself in the form of hoods, drawstrings and contrast stitching.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

Corrie Williamson supplied plywood jewellery; laser cut figures daubed with neon acrylic paint were worn as pendants (and handed out with the press release) and chunky bangles were layered on the wrist.

Who ever would have thought that fashion owed anything to Brian Harvey?

Live Performance Illustration by Jane Young
Floor of the Forest and Trisha Brown. Illustration by Jane Young.

Yesterday I was actually invited to attend a Barbican art gallery media view for the first time, cure so I feel duty bound to get a blog up about the new exhibition – Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, adiposity Gordon Matta-Clark, Pioneers of the Downtown Scene New York 1970s – as soon as possible.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Open House, 1972,
Gordon Matta-Clark. Open House, 1972.

In my mind press views are a chance to relax, hang out, enjoy a near empty gallery at a calm and leisurely pace – but of course it never quite pans out like that. I invariably have a million other things to do, and so it was that I arrived very late, having missed a couple of performance pieces already. I turned a corner past a large graffiti-ed crate to find the famous dancer and choreographer Trisha Brown posing beneath the installation for her famous piece Floor of the Forest, 1970 which features a grid strung with colourful pieces of clothing.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Trisha Brown
Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Trisha Brown Floor of the Forest, 1970
Trisha Brown. Floor of the Forest, 1970.

In this piece dancers navigate the equipment, dressing and undressing as they go. Trisha Brown has had a long and illustrious career adapting dance to suit everyday environments, creating seminal performance pieces that took advantage of the rooftops and water towers in Downtown New York.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Trisha Brown. Woman Walking Down a Ladder, 1973/2010
Trisha Brown. Woman Walking Down a Ladder, 1973/2010.

Sadly I missed her performance piece, Walking on the Wall, 1971, where dancers hang from the sides of the gallery and stumble and roll across the walls. Trisha’s approach has been extremely formative across the contemporary dance world, and of particular interest to me was the fabulous original costume for The Dance with the Duck’s Head, 1968.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-The Dance with the Duck's Head, 1968.
Trisha Brown. Costume for The Dance with the Duck’s Head, 1968.

A film of a lithe young Trisha performing in the 1960s is a compelling reminder of her ongoing influence – Trisha Brown turns 75 this year, but she is still extremely active. You will be able to watch three of Trisha Brown’s performances during the exhibition running time, so be sure to check the Barbican website for full details.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Laurie Anderson Viophonograph, 1976
Laurie Anderson. Viophonograph, 1976.

Classically trained musician Laurie Anderson also took the tangled Downtown setting as her playground, starting with Institutional Dream Series (1972), documenting her experiments in public sleep and the subsequent dreams that this produced. Before this exhibition I knew Laurie Anderson best for her early 80s rendition of O Superman, which is just part of a huge back catalogue encompassing music and art, often both together.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Laurie Anderson The Electric Chair, 1977-78
Laurie Anderson. The Electric Chair, 1977-78.

Downstairs a version of The Electric Chair, 1977-78 has been recreated, an entertaining contraption using light and motion, it squawks and clatters back and forth. She projects 3D light sculptures that talk and creates objects such as the Viophonograph, 1976, which is part violin, part record player.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Laurie Anderson. At the Shrink's, 1975/1997
Laurie Anderson. At the Shrink’s, 1975/1997

Much of the upstairs space is taken up with the finer details of these performance pieces, which are intricately documented with maps and writings. Laurie especially is known for combining photographs and writing to explain her process, but I found this section very text heavy and only the most hardcore fans will want to read this in detail.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Gordon Matta-Clark. Splitting 9, 1977
Gordon Matta-Clark. Splitting 9, 1977.

My most interesting discovery was the work of fellow New York architect and artist Gordon Matta-Clark (whose father was the surrealist painter Roberto Matta). He sadly died very young from pancreatic cancer. His Open House, 1972, performance has been re-interpreted by modern dancers in a shipping crate spliced with salvaged walls and doors. Perhaps because this is only a rough facsimile of something that happened long ago I found the work upstairs far more enticing. Gordon worked at the intersection of urban dereliction and disaffection that was blighting much of Downtown New York in the 1970s.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Gordon Matta-Clark. Splitting: Four Corners, 1974
Gordon Matta-Clark. Splitting: Four Corners, 1974 (detail)

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Gordon Matta-Clark.
Gordon Matta-Clark.

He set up Food, a co-operative and alternative gathering space that would no doubt charm a whole host of like-minded people today. I particularly enjoyed reading the catalogued details of what happened in the kitchen – 47 dogs asked to leave, 153 chairs broken, 15 bottles of champagne disappeared. And on the menu? For your delectation used car stew. There will be two reinterpreted Food style dinners on 24th March and 28th April.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Gordon Matta-Clark.
Gordon Matta-Clark.

Gordon Matta-Clark spliced urban spaces, cutting apart whole houses and blasting away windows. He reappropriated old glass, recycling it into beautiful brick formations that look almost like precious gemstones, and he worked with abandoned cars to highlight the impoverished underbelly of the city. He was ecologically minded – his drawings and diagrams of trees a glorious twisting organic painterly mess compared with the rigid lines of his more urban based work. In an experiment between architecture, performance and protest he hung out in a tree on International Worker’s Day during 1971 for Tree Dance. If only he had lived longer.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Gordon Matta-Clark.
Gordon Matta-Clark.

Pioneers of Downtown Scene-Gordon Matta-Clark. Tree Dance. 1971
Gordon Matta-Clark. Tree Dance, 1971.

The exhibition runs until 22nd May 2011. My full listing is here.

Categories ,Barbican Art Gallery, ,Barbican Centre, ,Gordon Matta-Clark, ,Jane Young, ,Laurie Anderson, ,London Kills Me, ,New York 1970s, ,Performance Art, ,Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, ,Trisha Brown

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Amelia’s Magazine | Anarchidinner, an Experimental Banquet by Companis at the Barbican: a review

Anarchidinner-by-Claire-Sells-splotd
Anarchidinner by Claire Sells.

I loved the art exhibition Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, tadalafil New York 1970s, visit web currently showing at the Barbican, so when an offer was extended for me to join a live performance inspired by Matta-Clark’s Food project how on earth could I refuse? I arrived at the entrance to the Barbican roof gardens and upon entry was motioned to don a disposable plastic raincoat so that I could enjoy some entertainingly served aperitifs, gin and tonic squirted over umbrellas into the brave mouths of those who stepped forward. I declined when I saw the stinging eyes and instead set off to explore the top floor garden.

Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Only some time later did I realise that the bizarre film being made in the jungle was nowt to do with Anarchidinner but was instead a live film project from Lucky PDF. Unfortunately this meant that I missed the first bit of performance art and arrived at my seat to find a molten stream of honeycomb spattered down the centre of the communal table, metal implements embedded inside.

Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory

At the head of the room the professional chefs were staged on a raised platform with microphones and industrial kitchen equipment. Once our St. George’s Mushroom Soup and axe-hacked bread had been served the boiler suit clad waiters surrounded us with drill bits and microphones, attacking the the table underside and creating a cacophony over which I chatted to my neighbours. This was a Spectacle titled Handphone Soup, an ‘aural and visual stimulation’ inspired by Laurie Anderson.

Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory

The main course involved a ‘sawn roast belly of pork’ which left me regretting that I had not asked for a veggie option, but I did very much enjoy the ruby red apple rings, potatoes pummelled with a soft mallet and gravy applied with an industrial funnel.

Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Alejandra Espino
Anarchidinner by Alejandra Espino.

Part two of Accumulative Gestures, after Trisha Brown, involved some fairly freestyle hand waving from our erstwhile waiters, before the final denouement of Incendiary Wafers, after Gordon Matta-Clark. The large slabs of blow torched minty marshmallow were designed to eat with the honeycomb, but alas our table had decided that this was an avante garde starter and we were already operating on hyperactive sugar overload having demolished the lot before we started on soup.

Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory

I had worried inordinately about sitting on my own for supper but one of the highlights of Anarchidinner was sharing a meal with new friends. The aim of Companis‘ work is ‘to push the boundaries of the diners’ comfort and expectations, the end result being one of spectacular encounter’. The end result was often amusing and at times uncomfortable, but it definitely could have been more spectacular… I would have liked there to have been more of a climax instead of what felt like a fading away as guests drifted homeward.

Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory
Anarchidinner by Companis at Barbican 2011-Photography by Amelia Gregory

If you’re going to do things back to front why not go the whole hog? On my way out I had a sneaky squirt of alcoholic aperitif with my new found friends. I hope that their later partying went with a bang.

Anarchidinner by Fawn Carr
Anarchidinner by Fawn Carr.

If the Anarchidinner concept tickles your fancy why not read my review of Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s? It runs until the 22nd of May 2011 and there are performances daily.

Categories ,Accumulative Gestures, ,Alejandra Espino, ,An Experimental Banquet, ,Anarchidinner, ,barbican, ,Barbican Garden Room, ,claire sells, ,Companis, ,Fawn Carr, ,Food, ,Gordon Matta-Clark, ,Handphone Soup, ,Incendiary Wafers, ,Laurie Anderson, ,Lucky PDF, ,Meal, ,New York 1970s, ,Performance Art, ,Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, ,Splot Designs, ,splotd, ,Trisha Brown

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