Grotesque Fascination

Slime has a new appeal to fashion with the introduction of Bart Hess and his latest creation, Slime Art.  Created using a mixture of supermarket, DIY and toy store materials, Hess has formulated a fully movable, translucent and elastic substance, that illuminates the physicality of the performer and suggests a novel hybrid between the clothed body and cosmetics.  His animation titled Ephémère which translates literally as “lasting only one day”, is often a theme within art and fashion, seen here it is an informed introduction to Hess’s fascination with the perpetual state of physical transformation.   Engagingly, the iconography within this short is similar to those within the horror genre of film, and brings immediately to mind the 1958 horror ‘B’ movie, The Blob, where an alien life form consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows. While the performed body is seen as temporary transition and represents Hess’s slime creations with a nod to the glorification of cosmetic transformation and our makeover culture, there is also something of grotesque interest, almost a fascination within the nature of slime. Unsurprisingly his work has proved popular with the singer Lady Gaga, whom Hess has subsequently styled for publicity material and her 2011 music video “Born This Way”. More importantly it presents the monstrous body as beautiful, suggesting ideas signifying not what we are not, but also what we are becoming. Alexander McQueen once said ‘I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists’, and indeed the work of Hess heralds perhaps uncomfortable, but more importantly, significant change.

Mark Small


Go Beyond the Cover

While the Dermablend Professional video featuring Rico Genest is to be applauded, it raises the question of whether the issues surrounding cosmetic lifestyle choices are as clear cut. As an online video campaign it has proved to be extremely successful, but the message of not judging a book by it’s cover is extremely simplistic, if not a little naive.


We Found Joy!

The latest fashion film titled Deep In the City by Director’s Luca Finotti and Mariano Vivanco for Diane Pernet’s ASVOFF.

The fashion film, is a dream about the night .the night world meets the world of fashion. statuesqu beauties of the night, and personalities come together in a fast-paced colorful, glamorous and fun. the naked bodies are mixed with haute couture dress, antique chic mix of new visual languages , to relive the night of the big New York party, so fast you’d never end.


“Poses” is an artistic observation and criticism of the absurd and artificial world of glamor and fashion magazines, particularly the distorted image of women in fashion magazines that do not represent real women.

Using the impossible positions of fashion editorials, a group of real women to move these poses everyday scenes: the tail of a museum, supermarket or a traffic light, causing the reaction of the audience.”

This is a humorous film by Yolanda Dominguez but while the industry is held to account, one does have to wonder if fashion photogrpahy has a duty to portray realism, a question that is muddied by the use of real women and the quest for diversity in female representation.


The Alien and the Natural

Roy Brown’s recent series of drawings represents the feminine in the masculine/feminine divide, regular motif’s that can be found in his work. This is where fluid and soft pencil strokes form faces of an entirely different feel to the willow masks previously shown on this blog, yet these are equally as intricate. As opposed to building upon the face, in this work Brown strips down our visual expectations and beyond skin to expose the maze of muscle beneath, the influence of the physicality of nature beginning to appear more like an entangled network of vegetation. One can easily be put in mind of science fiction creatures represented in The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), and DC Comics creation ‘Swamp Thing’, which makes more than a nod to the constructed bodily representations of ‘Mother Nature’, Gaia and folkloric references to the Green Man. Looking at Brown’s inspiration there is an awareness of hidden ritual and the purposeful use of a masks, physical or metaphorical, to allow a separate channel in our lives. In any case it is a well formed exploration of the unification between alien and natural, the future and the past.

Keiron LeVine


No pain, no gain…

As stunning as the catwalk collection for Louis Vuiton Spring 2012 was, one could only gasp in awe when the attention focused on the footwear. This was either a reality check or a very clever poke by the team at the ideal of perfection. For my money, the jury is out.

All images as seen on


A drop in the ocean…age as a symbol of diversity

This certainly is an engaging video celebrating diversity and how the media has begun to approach envisaging bodies of all ages, gender and physical abilities, however Cindy Joseph is a drop in the ocean. I am also concerned that what we are encouraged to celebrate is how young she looks for her age. What we need is a tide of media images and a more honest approach to the beauty within all aspects of our corporeality.


Pinch Me, I’m Dreaming.

As of the 14th of September, icon of the avant-garde, designer Walter Van Beirendonck is exhibiting a large scale collection presenting his career to date at the Antwerp Fashion Museum. The title Dream The World Awake is indeed highly appropriate as the collections, silhouettes and garments at first appear chimerical yet the reality of his concerns hit home once the concepts and theories behind  Van Beirendonck’s work are unearthed.  At the heart of his work is an honest interpretation of society viewed through bursts of colour, extraordinary shape and apparent shock tactic. Read more…

D is for Donut

A collection of Boo Ritson’s work, showcasing an array of prints, some well known and others rarely seen, has been unveiled at Southampton City Art Gallery in collaboration with Poppy Sebire.  What is immediately striking about the work is how the viewer is thrown into a void between the real and the fake, consequently making it difficult to judge if these portraits are in fact human sitters or simply a representation in the form of painted mannequins. This uncertainty fuels a tension, an almost eerie atmosphere filled with doubt as you gaze upon each image, until you realise that the vast majority are in fact human canvases where Ritson has drenched the models in emulsion paint. This alternative process of paint and painter creates an extra dimension of performance, and with the photography having to take place before the paint dries, decisions must be made swiftly. Though of course the heavy layers of emulsion are a distraction from the reality, the smudges and imperfections they create reflect an honest perception of human nature while simultaneously presenting a vision of how we build up fake ideals and gloss over the natural, or the indeed the truth. A similar approach can be seen in the recent Lernert & Sander: Natural Beauty post, suggesting that the questions raised over the real and the natural is placing the body as spectacle once more within an arena for debate.

Seductively arranged,  highly saturated American iconography and caricatures embodied in works such as ‘The Slot Player’ – 2006 and the sweet fast food sensation of ‘Donut’ – 2007, the show is a rather personal collection that is relative to Ritson herself,  where the suggestion of the uncertainty between what is real and what isn’t is always present.  This intriguing series of prints fixated on American culture can be seen until 2nd January 2012.

Keiron LeVine

‘The Rebel Sell’ has been perfected

Touching on themes of the monstrous and grotesque in fashion and Character Culture, the latest SHOWstudio project, Monster Ball, by Nick Knight and Ruth Hogben for Lady Gaga’s world tour, continues to engage in the chanteuse’s themes, exploring the boundaries of style, gender, masquerade, deviance, difference and the human body. However a blog titled Dancing with Machine Guns, made this interesting point…

The “transgressive” tactics employed by Gaga produce what Michel Foucault might call an “incitement to discourse”—igniting blog posts, cultural criticism, theory which effectively produces the image of Gaga and generates value, meaning, and interest in her project while transgression-as-capitalist tactic remains obscured.

There are those that find Gaga enticing myself included, she has a message to promote and has become the mistress of subverting her appearance and femininity, however her record company is also selling us a lot of product. If you choose to listen to her, it comes at a price.