Friday, May 28, 2010

I am Lauren, soundsuit enthusiast

Last night was the opening of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art's fantastic Spoleto offering...

I think it's fair to say that I'm not the only one who was totally blown away by this exhibition. There's just something really spectacular about it... the utter extravagance of the work balanced just perfectly with the simplicity and sterility of the white gallery space. Very very rich. I had the incredible opportunity of being around to help install Chicago artist, Nick Cave's "soundsuits" this week and seriously, all I could think was... "these things are the BOMB!"

Constructed of an eclectic mix of crocheted doilies, shiny sequins, beads, buttons, porcelain birds, glass flowers, human hair, twigs, you name it... Cave's soundsuits are truly a feast for the eyes. His experience and expertise as a fashion/textile designer is quite evident in how he manages to combine these various materials and kooky patterns to create these objects that are nothing short of high, high fashion. The way the mannequins are displayed, on a long white runway of sorts, couldn't be more appropriate. It's like, in entering the exhibition, you are entering a freeze frame of a fun, high-styled, high-energy couture runway show.

And then... you enter the video room in the far back corner of the gallery. While I tend to not have much of an attention span for videos, I found myself completely mesmerized by what I found. There was Nick Cave himself inside of the various soundsuits (worn one at a time) moving and shaking. Cave's history as a dancer with Alvin Ailey has surely influenced this body of work... to a great extent. This is especially apparent when you watch him carefully move within the suits. And as the title suggests, each suit makes a distinct sound when worn. This adds a whole new element to the work. Like I said... it's really quite mesmerizing... and it made me all the more enthusiastic about the show.

The exhibition will be up through the end of June so EVERYONE ought to go and check it out! Curator, Mark Sloan, deserves all kinds of praise for his fantastic pairing of Nick Cave's sounduits with Phyllis Galembo's photographs of west african masquerade. The work of both artists really complements each other to make for a real knock-out exhibition.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I am Lauren, Easter enthusiast

I love Easter. So much. Everything about it. And this year I've been feeling more enthusiastic than ever. I guess it's because it's finally hit me... how Easter embodies all the things for which I feel so fondly.

First of all, I really love bunny rabbits. I just do. Now, I've been known for my distaste for most animals. Puppies, kitties, horsies... they just don't do it for me... sorry. But I simply can't resist a sweet little bunny rabbit. I even had one once as a kid for a year or so... Snoopy was his name (I was extremely uncreative when it came to naming pets... for example, Change the chameleon, Spot the fish, Sam the dog). I used to take him for walks (or hops?) around the cul-de-sac on his ferret leash. I was devastated when my mom broke the news that Snoopy had been eaten by fire ants... he's now buried in the back yard under a heart-shaped tombstone that I picked out on a visit to Charleston.

I also have a terrible soft spot for lambs. They're the sweetest, no?
And then there's Spring time. For me, Easter equals Spring... in so many ways. When I think of Easter, I recall the warm Spring sunshine and the cool Spring breeze felt when posing, year after year, outside in front of the newly blossomed flowers in my new Easter dress... my glove-clad hands grasping my new Easter basket and stuffed bunny (which the Easter bunny still brings me, to this day) for a photograph that my mother never failed to take... on our way out the door to the all too anticipated Easter Sunday church service.

just before my 4th birthday... moooom not another picture!

a year earlier... there's that enthusiastic grin!
(using favorite baby doll, shelby, as a cushion)

Spring... it's all about newness and life. The flowers bloom. The baby bunnies and chickies and lambies are born. But the true beauty of Easter is that those of us who call ourselves Christians are reminded of the new life that we have all been given through the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God. The events of Easter (resurrection and such) are what a faith in Christ is all about. Victorious... that's the one word that keeps coming to my mind. Such a victorious day.

As for bunnies and egg hunts.... I don't know what that's all about... but I like it... cant help it...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I am Lauren, fartiste enthusiast

Allow me to introduce you to Joseph Pujol, French entertainer extraordinaire. His unique talents have gone unrivaled. His abilities, unmatched. A truly gifted man, to say the least. Now, I'm sure you must be curious... How did this man become the Moulin Rouge's highest paid entertainer of all time? What could he possibly do that set him apart? That made him so special?

It's rather simple, you see.... he could fart.

Though Pujol was known by a variety of colorful names ("flatulist," "fartuer," "fartiste") he is most famously known by his Moulin Rouge stage name, Le Pétomane, which translates to something similar to "fart maniac." Believe it or not, Monsieur Pujol was not the first professional flatulist... this profession dates back to medeival times. Who knew!! But like I said, his talents are unmatched. What Le Pétomane could do with that bottom of his was unlike anything anybody had ever experienced. He was an artiste... a fartiste...

However, perhaps it's worth noting...
"It is a common misconception to state that Joseph Pujol actually farted as part of his stage performance. Farting implies the release through the anus of intestinal gases. Pujol was "gifted" in the sense that he was able to inhale air into his rectum and then control the release of that air using his sphincter muscles." (Wikipedia)

He discovered this "gift" at a very young age one day while swimming at sea. Apparently he put his head under the water and held his breath, whereupon he felt an icy cold penetrating his rear. He ran ashore in fright and was amazed to see water pouring from his anus. And of course, the rest is history.

This man's monologue says it all.... definitely worth your time!

His repertoire, including impersonations, melodies, instrument playing, candle blowing, cigarette smoking, and more, was understandably an absolute sensation! It's been said that high profile people, among the likes of Edward, Prince of Whales, King Leopold II of the Belgians and even Sigmund Freud were at times spotted in Le Pétomane's audience.

Since his passing in 1945, Monsieur Pujol's story has been recounted in an assortment of forms. Movies, short films, mockumentaries, musicals, books etc. I've tried without avail to find clips of the musical... because you all know what a kick I get out of comedic musicals. Oh well... I'd be just as happy if I could own my very own copy of this book...