Posts Tagged ‘masquerade

22
Nov
20

European art research tour: Pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest

Visited September 2019 posted November 2020

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation. 'Scared Stiff' 1996 (detail)

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Scared Stiff (detail)
1996
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Pinball Wizard

Thanks to playing pinball, I’ve had my name up in lights as “highest scorer” in New York, Paris and London – just like the perfume bottles – and also Melbourne, Mentone (a suburb of the city), Adelaide and various other places around the world. As luck and skill would have it, on my recent trip around Europe, I scored highest score on Scared Stiff (1996, above and below) in a gay sauna – where else you might ask! – in Budapest. A surreal experience.

Along with my friends Jeff and Woody, I have been an addicted pinball playing wizard for many years. I love the sounds, the colour, the movement; the frenzy of the multiball (during which the flashing lights and noise serve to distract the player from the position of the balls), the exultation of the knocker when you score a replay; and the ultimate elation of becoming the highest scorer on the machine. Good fun is to be had, a test of skill and concentration in order to beat the machine and score a replay.

To say that I was in my element at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest is an understatement. Situated in a suitably dark underground cavern, and after paying the entry fee, you can play all the pinballs for free for as long as you want. There are “more than 140 machines, making the venue one of the biggest ongoing pinball collections in Europe… Some of the exhibition’s older pieces qualify as truly unique antiques, like the first pinball machines ever made with flippers, dating back to 1947.” Photographs of this pinball made by D. Gottlieb & Co. named Humpty Dumpty can be seen in the posting below. This is the oldest pinball I have ever played. Note that the flippers are not at the bottom of the machine, but in three pairs at the side of the machine. I found it very difficult to play, as the ball was easily lost between the large gap at the bottom, once the ball had made its way past the side mounted flippers. Other early idiosyncrasies were the outward facing flippers on Williams’ Jalopy (1951, below), and the fact that you got 5 balls for your money on the early machines, whereas today you only get 3.

The graphic art of the backglass and cabinet art add immeasurably to the playing experience. The art is linked to the theme of the particular machine and is often film, sci-fi, circus or mythically based – innovative, funny and sometimes lascivious – totally un-PC. In games up to the 1980s the eye-catching graphics would often objectify women, depicting them as playthings to be won (Genco’s Triple Action 1948, with graphic roots in the nose art of Second World War bombers), or portray them as available, large-breasted women in skimpy clothing (see Bally’s Wizard 1975; Bally’s Elvira and the Party Monsters 1989; and Bally’s Dr. Dude And His Excellent Ray 1990). In house jokes abound, such as the drum kit being named “The Bootles” in Williams’ Beat Time (1967) and “Gravestone Pizza Dig it!” in Bally’s Elvira and the Party Monsters 1989. My particular favourite graphic in this selection is Williams’ The Machine: Bride of Pinbot (1991) where humans work to repair the Metropolis-like robot, her leg lighting up in millions the closer you reach the jackpot. Completely sexist, completely over the top but fantastic, fantasy art nevertheless.

Ultimately for me, playing pinball is a complete melding between human and machine, a space where you loose yourself in the moment and movement of the ball(s), and the sights and sounds of the machine. On a good day when I am playing I become one with the machine, lost in time and space. Your concentration is so intense that nothing else matters. I remember playing a pinball up in Circular Quay in Sydney, and I was going so well that I had people two deep watching me play. What a blast!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
All iPhone images Dr Marcus Bunyan. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Two kind of people in this world; pinball people and video game people. You, Freddy, you’re pinball people.”

.
Gary Figgis (Ray Liotta) in the movie Cop Land (1997)

 

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation 'Scared Stiff' 1996 (detail)

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Scared Stiff (detail)
1996
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation 'Scared Stiff' 1996

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Scared Stiff (detail)
1996
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

“So fun, It’s Scary!”
“Elvira has the features that turn players on.”

 

 

 

Special scores

  • High score lists: If a player attains one of the highest scores ever (or the highest score on a given day), they are invited to add their initials to a displayed list of high-scorers on that particular machine. “Bragging rights” associated with being on the high-score list are a powerful incentive for experienced players to master a new machine.

Pinball designers also entice players with the chance to win an extra game or replay. Ways to get a replay might include the following:

  • Replay Score: An extra game is rewarded if the player exceeds a specified score. Some machines allow the operator to set this score to increase with each consecutive game in which the replay score is achieved, in order to prevent a skilled player from gaining virtually unlimited play on one credit by simply achieving the same replay score in every game.
  • Special: A mechanism to get an extra game during play is usually called a “special.” Typically, some hard-to-reach feature of the game will light the outlanes (the areas to the extreme left and right of the flippers) for special. Since the outlanes always lose the ball, having “special” there makes it worth shooting for them (and is usually the only time, if this is the case).
  • Match: At the end of the game, if a set digit of the player’s score matches a random digit, an extra game is rewarded.[61] In earlier machines, the set digit was usually the ones place; after a phenomenon often referred to as score inflation had happened (causing almost all scores to end in 0), the set digit was usually the tens place. The chances of a match appear to be 1 in 10, but the operator can alter this probability – the default is usually 7% in all modern Williams and Bally games for example. Other non-numeric methods are sometimes used to award a match.
  • High Score: Most machines award 1-3 bonus games if a player gets on the high score list. Typically, one or two credits are awarded for a 1st – 4th place listing, and three for the Grand Champion.

When an extra game is won, the machine typically makes a single loud bang, most often with a solenoid that strikes a piece of metal, or the side of the cabinet, with a rod, known as a knocker, or less commonly with loudspeakers. “Knocking” is the act of winning an extra game when the knocker makes the loud and distinctive noise.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Scared Stiff flyer

 

Bally flyer for the Scared Stiff pinball (1996)

“The Sexiest Vampire this side of Transylvania”

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest showing from left to right, Williams Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991); Data East USA, Inc. Tales from the Crypt (1993); Data East USA, Inc. The Who’s Tommy Pinball Wizard (1994)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest showing from left to right, Gottlieb’s Caveman (1982); Gottlieb’s the Amazing Spiderman (1980); Gottlieb’s Circus (1980); Gottlieb’s Pink Panther (1981); and Gottlieb’s Rocky (1982)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest showing at left, Zaccaria’s FarFalla (1983); at second left, Game Plan, Inc. Attila the Hun (1984); and at right back, Bally’s Rolling Stones (1980)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest showing from left to right, Gottlieb’s Centigrade 37 (1977); Recel S. A. Criterium 75 (1978); Chicago Coin Machine Mfg. Co. Sound Stage (1976)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest showing at left, Bally’s Medusa (1981); and at second left, Bally’s Xenon (1980); and at right, Gottlieb’s Haunted House (1982)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the exhibition of pinball art at the Flippermúzeum, Budapest showing from left to right, Williams Beat Time (1967); Bally’s Wizard! featuring Ann Margret and Roger Daltrey (1975); and Bally’s Capt. Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy featuring Elton John (1976)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Budapest Pinball Museum magnet

 

Budapest Pinball Museum magnet

 

 

Budapest Pinball Museum

Budapest Pinball Museum deploys more than 140 machines (pinball, arcade video cabinets and other games), making the venue one of the biggest ongoing pinball collections in Europe. All of our games are set to free play. Some of the exhibition’s older pieces qualify as truly unique antiques, like the first pinball machines ever made with flippers, dating back to 1947. Some of pinball’s predecessors are also on display, such as the unique bagatelles from the 1880s. It is the most popular museum in Hungary, usually in the top 10 out of some 600 Budapest tourist attractions on Tripadvisor.

 

Pinballs are time machines

It might as well be the occasion of an anniversary. It was a quarter of a century ago that legendary Data East marketed a pinball called the Time Machine. This name has got a symbolic meaning ever since. Today all pinballs have transformed into a time machine, remnants of an old age. Their natural environment, the arcade has been outdated since then, yet we can find an ever increasing number of pinballs at collectors.

The moment that dwells in our memories will never pass, never fade away: the moment as we were standing in front of the machines or waiting our turn at the arcade. Beyond the lights, colours and sounds of pinballs, a mystical children’s dreamworld is still shaping for us. A dreamworld that is still alive in us adults, even as we read this.

This dreamworld, these lights, these colours and sounds will be reawaken by our ‘time machines’, at our carefully selected exhibition. Our inner Child is inviting us for an encounter we will never forget.

It was the 70’s: that’s where my love for pinball has really started, by the way. I have encountered first with these tinkling machines at camp sites and arcades of my childhood. Pinballs have been thrilling me ever since: anytime the opportunity arises, I try new ones out. I have met many people during the last four years who share my passion for pinball. This also encouraged me to set up an ‘institute’, with pinballs playing the main role, offering however, experiences also for those interested in the history of technology and for the pinball rookie.

In April 2013 I have finally succeeded in my endeavours: I was granted license to open the museum / exhibition. Pbal Gallery opened at last to the public on April 10th, 2014.

You’re welcome to join an unforgettable time travel at the gallery!

Balázs Pálfi (owner)

Text from the Flippermúzeum, Budapest [Online] Cited 03/11/2020

 

Gottlieb. 'Humpty Dumpty' 1947

Gottlieb. 'Humpty Dumpty' 1947 (detail)

Gottlieb. 'Humpty Dumpty' 1947 (detail)

Gottlieb. 'Humpty Dumpty' 1947 (detail)

 

D. Gottlieb & Co. (1931-1977)
Humpty Dumpty
1947
6,500 produced
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

“Announcing… The Greatest Triumph in Pin Game History – Sensationally New Player Controlled Flipper Bumpers..The player will Laugh! The Spectator will Roar! The operator will be Thrilled!”

The very first FLIPPER Game. Harry Mabs invented the Flipper with this machine.

This is the oldest pinball I have ever played. Note that the flippers are not at the bottom of the machine, but in three pairs at the side of the machine. I found it very difficult to play, as the ball was easily lost between the large gap.

 

Humpty Dumpty flyer

 

Humpty Dumpty flyer

 

Williams Electronic Games, Inc. 'Jalopy' 1951 (detail)

Williams Electronic Games, Inc. 'Jalopy' 1951 (detail)

 

Williams Electronic Games, Inc. (1967-1985)
Jalopy
1951
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Note the outward facing flippers, and the non-central exit lanes. Also, this is a five ball game, whereas later games are only 3 ball games. If you get a replay in 1 ball, you get 10 free replays. YOUR JALOPY is a WINNAH!

 

D. Gottlieb & Co. 'Roto Pool' 1958 (detail)

 

D. Gottlieb & Co. (1931-1977)
Roto Pool (detail)
1958
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Genco Manufacturing Company (Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1931-1958) 'Triple Action' 1948 (detail)

 

Genco Manufacturing Company (Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1931-1958)
Triple Action
1948
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Williams Electronic Games, Inc. 'Tic-Tac-Toe' 1959 (detail)

 

Williams Electronic Games, Inc. (1967-1985)
Tic-Tac-Toe (detail)
1959
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gottlieb. 'Buckaroo' 1965 (detail)

 

D. Gottlieb & Co. (1931-1977)
Buckaroo (detail)
1965
2,600 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Sega. 'Basketball' 1966

Sega
Basketball
1966
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Sega Basketball flyer

 

Sega Basketball flyer

 

D. Gottlieb & Co. 'Dancing Lady' 1966

 

D. Gottlieb & Co. (1931-1977)
Dancing Lady
1966
2,675 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Dancing Lady exists in 2 versions – the Serial-Run had a new, larger Top with a completely new designed Glass in different colours (above). Test-Samples (approximately 100 to 150 Machines) from Summer / Autumn 1966 had slightly different Art on the lower Playboard and a complete different, more colourful and smaller Backglass, because the Serial-Run from December 1966 used the new and much higher Backbox. This new sort of Backbox was used for the Four-Players until 1977 while the Two-Players still used the smaller Backbox.

Text from the Pinside website [Online] Cited 04/11/2020

 

D. Gottlieb & Co. 'Masquerade' 1966 (detail)

 

D. Gottlieb & Co. (1931-1977)
Masquerade (detail)
1966
3,662 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Williams. 'Beat Time' 1967 (detail)

 

Williams Electronic Games, Inc. (1967-1985)
Beat Time (detail)
1967
2,802 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) 'Wizard!' 1975 (detail)

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) 'Wizard!' 1975 (detail)

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Wizard! (details)
1975
10,005 produced
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Wizard!, released in May 1975, was Bally’s highest production flipper game to that date with over 10,000 units produced. The game comes at the tail end of Bally’s electromechanical production schedule, and sets the stage for the company’s solid state success in the years to follow. Widely regarded as one of the first proper licensed games in pinball history, Wizard! features the likenesses of Ann Margret and Roger Daltrey, stars of the 1976 Ken Russell film Tommy (a screen adaptation of the Who’s rock opera of the same name). Other than its classic theme, Wizard! is notable as being the first game to showcase playfield “flip flags”, a feature used on only a handful of other Bally games.

Text from the Pinside website [Online] Cited 04/11/2020

 

Wizard! flyer

 

Wizard! flyer

 

 

Pinball

Pinball is a type of arcade game, in which points are scored by a player manipulating one or more metallic balls on a play field inside a glass-covered cabinet called a pinball machine. The primary objective of the game is to score as many points as possible. Many modern pinball machines include a “storyline” where the player must complete certain objectives in a certain fashion to complete the story, usually earning high scores for different methods of completing the game. Different numbers of points are earned when the ball strikes different targets on the play field. A drain is situated at the bottom of the play field, partially protected by player-controlled paddles called flippers. A game ends after all the balls fall into the drain a certain number of times. Secondary objectives are to maximise the time spent playing (by earning “extra balls” and keeping the ball in play as long as possible), and to earn bonus credits by achieving a high enough score or through other means.

 

Backglass

The backglass is a vertical graphic panel mounted on the front of the backbox, which is the upright box at the top back of the machine. The backglass contains the name of the machine and eye-catching graphics; in games up to the 1980s the artwork would often portray large-breasted women in skimpy clothing. The score displays (lights, mechanical wheels, an LED display, or a dot-matrix display depending on the era) would be on the backglass, and sometimes also a mechanical device tied to game play, for example, elevator doors that opened on an image or a woman swatting a cat with a broom such as on Williams’ 1989 “Bad Cats”. For older games, the backglass image is screen printed in layers on the reverse side of a piece of glass; in more recent games, the image is imprinted into a translucent piece of plastic-like material called a translite which is mounted behind a piece of glass and which is easily removable. The earliest games did not have backglasses or backboxes and were little more than playfields in boxes. Games are generally built around a particular theme, such as a sport or character and the backglass art reflects this theme to attract the attention of players. Recent machines are typically tied into other enterprises such as a popular film series, toy, or brand name. The entire machine is designed to be as eye-catching as possible to attract players and their money; every possible space is filled with colourful graphics, blinking lights, and themed objects, and the backglass is usually the first artwork the players see from a distance. Since the artistic value of the backglass may be quite impressive, it is not uncommon for enthusiasts to use a deep frame around a backglass (lighted from behind) and hang it as art after the remainder of the game is discarded.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) 'Capt. Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy' 1976 (detail)

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Capt. Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy (detail)
1976
16,155 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

‘Capt. Fantastic’ was inspired by the movie ‘Tommy’ and includes a representation of Elton John, as his character from the movie, playing pinball on the backglass. The game name, however, is the title of Elton John’s 1975 autobiographical song and album where “Captain Fantastic” was Elton and “The Brown Dirt Cowboy” was his then-lyricist Bernie Taupin. Included in the song lyrics are the words “From the end of the world to your town” which appear at the very top center of the backglass.

Text from the The Internet Pinball Machine Database website [Online] Cited 04/11/2020

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) 'Space Invaders' 1980 (detail)

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Space Invaders (detail)
1980
11,400 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The alien depicted on the backglass was deemed an unlicensed use of the one used in the 1979 Hollywood movie Alien. Some playfield art elements and game sounds were borrowed from the 1978 ‘Space Invaders’ video game which was still popular at the time that this pinball machine came out.

Text from the The Internet Pinball Machine Database website [Online] Cited 04/11/2020

 

D. Gottlieb & Company. 'The Amazing Spider-Man' 1980 (detail)

D. Gottlieb & Company. 'The Amazing Spider-Man' 1980 (detail)

 

D. Gottlieb & Company, a Columbia Pictures Industries Company (1977-1983)
The Amazing Spider-Man (details)
1980
7,625 produced
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

D. Gottlieb & Company (1977-1983) 'Circus' 1980 (detail)

 

D. Gottlieb & Company, a Columbia Pictures Industries Company (1977-1983)
Circus (detail)
1980
1,700 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

“The Greatest Pinball On Earth!”

 

Circus flyer

 

Circus flyer

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) 'Xenon' 1980 (detail)

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Xenon
1980
11,000 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) 'Centaur' 1981 (detail)

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Centaur (detail)
1981
3,700 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Centaur flyer

 

Centaur flyer

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) 'Medusa' 1981

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Medusa (detail)
1981
3,250 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

“Bally MEDUSA… A Legend of Features”

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) 'Fathom' 1981 (detail)

 

Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983)
Fathom
1981
3,500 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Williams Electronics Incorporated (1967-1985) 'Hyperball' 1981 (detail)

Williams Electronics Incorporated (1967-1985) 'Hyperball' 1981 (detail)

 

Williams Electronics Incorporated (1967-1985)
Hyperball (details)
1981
5,000 produced
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

D. Gottlieb & Company. 'Rocky' 1982 (detail)

 

D. Gottlieb & Company, a Columbia Pictures Industries Company (1977-1983)
Rocky (detail)
1982
1,504 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Zaccaria. 'Farfalla' 1983 (detail)

Zaccaria. 'Farfalla' 1983 (detail)

 

Zaccaria (Bologna, Italy, 1974-1987)
Farfalla
1983
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Farfalla is Italian for “butterfly”

 

Bally. 'Elvira and the Party Monsters' 1989 (detail)

Bally. 'Elvira and the Party Monsters' 1989 (detail)

 

Bally (Midway Manufacturing Company) (Chicago, 1988-1999)
Elvira and the Party Monsters (details)
1989
4,000 produced
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

“Monstrous Pinball”
“You’re Gonna Have a Ball!”
“When They Named a Game After Me, It Had to be Built!”

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999) 'Diner' 1990 (detail)

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999)
Diner (detail)
1990
3,552 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Bally (Midway Manufacturing Company) (Chicago, 1988-1999) 'Dr. Dude And His Excellent Ray' 1990 (detail)

Bally (Midway Manufacturing Company) (Chicago, 1988-1999) 'Dr. Dude And His Excellent Ray' 1990 (detail)

 

Bally (Midway Manufacturing Company) (Chicago, 1988-1999)
Dr. Dude And His Excellent Ray (details)
1990
4,000 produced
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

“Get Hip! Earn Respect! Be the Envy of your Friends!”

 

Dr. Dude And His Excellent Ray flyer

 

Dr. Dude And His Excellent Ray flyer

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999) 'FunHouse' 1990 (detail)

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999) 'FunHouse' 1990 (detail)

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999) 'FunHouse' 1990 (detail)

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999)
FunHouse (details)
1990
10,750 produced
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

“Get Hip! Earn Respect! Be the Envy of your Friends!”

 

FunHouse backglass

 

FunHouse backglass

 

FunHouse flyer

 

FunHouse flyer

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999) 'The Machine: Bride of Pinbot' 1991 (detail)

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999) 'The Machine: Bride of Pinbot' 1991 (detail)

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999)
The Machine: Bride of Pinbot (details)
1991
8,100 produced
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

“Here Comes the Bride!”
“Watch Her Turn Heads!”

Artist John Youssi provided us the following information:

“I painted the backglass based on a rough sketch Python [Anghelo] gave me. I re-sketched the whole thing, adding detail while tightening it up. Python was the artist for the cabinet while Kevin O’Connor inked only. I remember Python doing all the art except for the backglass. Plus it all looks like his style.”

Text from the The Internet Pinball Machine Database website [Online] Cited 04/11/2020

 

The Machine: Bride of Pinbot flyer

 

The Machine: Bride of Pinbot flyer

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999) 'Fish Tales' 1992 (detail)

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999)
Fish Tales (detail)
1992
13,640 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

“Catch Em All – Hook Line and Sinker”

 

Bally. 'The Addams Family' 1992 (detail)

 

Bally (Midway Manufacturing Company) (Chicago, 1988-1999)
The Addams Family (detail)
1992
20,270 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999) 'The Getaway: High Speed II' 1992 (detail)

 

Williams Electronic Games (1985-1999)
The Getaway: High Speed II (detail)
1992
13,259 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Sega Pinball Incorporated. 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein' 1995 (detail)

 

Sega Pinball Incorporated (Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1994-1999)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
1995
3,000 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Sega. 'Apollo 13' 1995 (detail)

 

Sega Pinball Incorporated (Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1994-1999)
Apollo 13
1995
2,000 produced
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

“I Believe this will be Our Finest Hour.”
“`Apollo 13 the Pinball’ is on the Launch Pad with All Systems Go!”
“The First Game in the Universe with 13 Ball Multiball!”

 

 

Flippermúzeum
Radnóti Miklós utca 18.
1137, Budapest, Hungary

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Friday 16.00 – 24.00
Saturday 14.00 – 24.00
Sunday 10.00 – 22.00
Monday/Tuesday: CLOSED

Flippermúzeum website

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24
May
17

Exhibition: ‘Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London

Exhibition dates: 9th March – 29th May 2017

 

This is the last posting for a while as my hand operation is tomorrow… so let’s make the most of the occasion!

 

“…the life of spirit is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but rather the life that endures it and maintains itself in it. It wins its truth only when, in utter dismemberment, it finds itself. It is this power, not as something positive, which closes its eyes to the negative as when we say of something that it is nothing or is false, and then having done with it, turn away and pass on to something else; on the contrary, spirit is this power only by looking the negative in the face, and tarrying with it. This tarrying with the negative is the magical power that converts it into being.”

.
George Wilhelm Frederich Hegel 1807 ‘Phenomenology of Spirit’, Preface (trans. A. V. Miller 1977), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 10

 

 

This is an interesting pairing for an exhibition but the connection between the artists is unconvincing. This is because Wearing and Cahun are talking to different aspects of the self.

Wearing’s self-portraits, her mask-querades, her shielded multiple personalities, talk to a “postmodern meditation on the slipperiness of the self” in which there is little evidence of the existence of any “real” person. Wearing wears her identities in a series of dress-ups, performances where only the eyes of the original protagonist are visible. These identities evidence Jung’s shadow aspect, “an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself.” Rather than an assimilation of the shadow aspect into the self followed by an ascent (enantiodromia), Wearing’s images seem to be mired in a state of melancholia, a “confrontation with the shadow which produces at first a dead balance, a stand-still that hampers moral decisions and makes convictions ineffective…tenebrositas, chaos, melancholia.” This is not a confrontation that leads anywhere interesting, by looking the negative in the face and tarrying with it. These split personalities rise little above caricature, an imitation of a person in which certain striking characteristics are over emphasised, such as in Wearing’s portraits of her as Andy Warhol or Robert Mapplethorpe. To me, the photograph of Wearing as Mapplethorpe is a travesty of the pain that artist was feeling as he neared the end of his life, dying from HIV/AIDS.

Cahun’s self-portraits contain all the depth of feeling and emotion that Wearing’s can never contain. Here, identity and gender is played out through performance and masquerade in a constructive way, a deep, probing interrogation of the self in front of the camera. While Cahun engages with Surrealist ideas – wearing masks and costumes and changing her appearance, often challenging traditional notions of gender representation – she does so in a direct and powerful way. As Cumming observes, “She is not trying to become someone else, not trying to escape [as Wearing is]. Cahun is always and emphatically herself. Dressed as a man, she never appears masculine, nor like a woman in drag. Dressed as a woman, she never looks feminine. She is what we refer to as non-binary* these days, though Cahun called it something else: “Neuter is the only gender that always suits me.””

*Those with nonbinary genders can feel that they: Have an androgynous (both masculine and feminine) gender identity, such as androgyne. Have an identity between male and female, such as intergender. Have a neutral or unrecognized gender identity, such as agender, neutrois, or most xenogenders.*

Cahun had a gift for the indelible image but more than that, she possesses the propensity for humility and openness in these portraits, as though she is opening her soul for interrogation, even as she explores what it is to be Cahun, what it is to be human. This is a human being in full control of the balance between the ego and the self, of dream-state and reality. The photographs, little shown in Cahun’s lifetime, are her process of coming to terms with the external world, on the one hand, and with one’s own unique psychological characteristics on the other. They are her adaption** to the world.

**“The constant flow of life again and again demands fresh adaptation. Adaptation is never achieved once and for all.” (Carl Jung. “The Transcendent Function,” CW 8, par. 143.)**

.
Claude Cahun is person I would have really liked to have met. Affiliated with the French Surrealist movement, living with her partner the artist and stage designer Marcel Moore, the two women left Paris for the Isles of Scilly and were then imprisoned in Nazi-occupied Jersey during the Second World War as a result of their roles in the French Resistance.

“Fervently against war, the two worked extensively in producing anti-German fliers. Many were snippets from English-to-German translations of BBC reports on the Nazis’ crimes and insolence, which were pasted together to create rhythmic poems and harsh criticism. The couple then dressed up and attended many German military events in Jersey, strategically placing them in soldier’s pockets, on their chairs, etc. Also, they inconspicuously crumpled up and threw their fliers into cars and windows. In many ways, Cahun and Malherbe’s [Marcel Moore] resistance efforts were not only political but artistic actions, using their creative talents to manipulate and undermine the authority which they despised. In many ways, Cahun’s life’s work was focused on undermining a certain authority, however her specific resistance fighting targeted a physically dangerous threat. In 1944 she was arrested and sentenced to death, but the sentence was never carried out. However, Cahun’s health never recovered from her treatment in jail, and she died in 1954.” (Wikipedia)

Undermining a certain authority … while ennobling her own identity and being. Love and respect.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the National Portrait Gallery, London for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. For more information please see the blog entry Claude Cahun: Freedom Fighter.

 

This exhibition brings together for the first time the work of French artist Claude Cahun and British contemporary artist Gillian Wearing. Although they were born almost seventy years apart and came from different backgrounds, remarkable parallels can be drawn between the two artists. Both of them share a fascination with the self-portrait and use the self-image, through the medium of photography, to explore themes around identity and gender, which is often played out through masquerade and performance.

 

 

“Under this mask, another mask. I will never finish removing all these faces.”

.
Claude Cahun, 1930

 

 

Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1929

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait (reflected image in mirror with chequered jacket)
1927
Silver gelatin print

 

 Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1928

 

Claude Cahun
Autoportrait
1928
Gelatin silver print
13.9 x 9 cm
Jersey Heritage Collection
© Jersey Heritage

 

 

“Once seen, never forgotten: Cahun had a gift for the indelible image. Even when the signals are jammed, and the meaning deliberately baffled, her vision always holds strong. This is partly convenienced by the artist’s exceptional looks. Her long, thin face, with its shaved eyebrows, large eyes and linear nose, takes paint like a canvas. She converts herself into a harpy, a lunatic or a doll with equal ease. In one self-portrait, she even holds her own bare face like a mask…

Peering into these monochrome images, so delicate and small, the viewer might inevitably wonder which is the real Cahun: the woman in the aviator goggles, the pensive Buddhist, the young man in a white silk scarf? But this is not the right question. She is not trying to become someone else, not trying to escape. Cahun is always and emphatically herself.

Dressed as a man, she never appears masculine, nor like a woman in drag. Dressed as a woman, she never looks feminine. She is what we refer to as non-binary these days, though Cahun called it something else: “Neuter is the only gender that always suits me.” …

There is little evidence that she ever displayed these photographs, which were forgotten for decades after her death. It seems that her partner was generally behind the lens, but we know almost nothing about how they were made. Of her lifelong project, Cahun wrote: “Under this mask, another mask. I will never finish removing all these faces.”

Commentators have taken this to mean that she thought of herself as a series of multiple personalities, and the double exposures, shadows and reflections in her work all seem to undermine the idea of a singular self. Yet Cahun is formidably and unmistakably Cahun, her force of personality registering every time in that utterly penetrating look. Far from some postmodern meditation on the slipperiness of the self, her images are completely direct. They acknowledge the sufferings of a double life and are deepened by them every time; and yet they rejoice in that life too.”

Laura Cumming. “Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask – review,” on The Observer website

 

 

Claude Cahun in collaboration with Marcel Moore. 'Aveux non avenus frontispiece' 1929-30

 

Claude Cahun in collaboration with Marcel Moore
Aveux non avenus frontispiece
1929-30
Photomontage
Silver gelatin print
Jersey Heritage Collections
© Jersey Heritage

 

 

“Cahun appears in enigmatic guises, playing out different personas using masks and mirrors, and featuring androgynous shaven or close-cropped hair – as can be seen in the multiple views of her in the lower left-hand side of this collage. The image also includes symbols made up by the women to represent themselves – the eye for Moore, the artist, and the mouth for Cahun, the writer and actor. Whereas the majority of Surrealists were men, in whose images women appear as eroticised objects, Cahun’s androgynous self-portraits explore female identity as constructed, multifaceted, and ultimately as having a nihilistic absence at the core.”

Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait (as a dandy, head and shoulders)' 1921-22

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait (as a dandy, head and shoulders)
1921-22
Silver gelatin print
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Thomas Walther Collection
Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence

 

Claude Cahun. 'Studies for a keepsake' c. 1925

 

Claude Cahun
Studies for a keepsake
c. 1925
Silver gelatin prints
Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris
© Musée d’Art moderne / Roger-Viollet

 

Claude Cahun. 'Study for a keepsake' c. 1925

 

Claude Cahun
Study for a keepsake
c. 1925
Silver gelatin print
Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris
© Musée d’Art moderne / Roger-Viollet

 

Claude Cahun. 'I am in training don't kiss me' c. 1927

 

Claude Cahun
I am in training don’t kiss me
c. 1927
Silver gelatin print
117mm x 89mm (whole)
Jersey Heritage Collections
© Jersey Heritage

 

Totor (progenitor of Tintin) and Popol are two comic characters by the Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Castor and Pollux are the twin stars; Pollux and Helen were the children of Zeus and Leda, while Castor and Clytemnestra were the children of Leda and Tyndareus.

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait (kneeling, naked, with mask)' c. 1928

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait (kneeling, naked, with mask)
c. 1928
Silver gelatin print
116mm x  83mm
Jersey Heritage Collections
© Jersey Heritage

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait (full length masked figure in cloak with masks)' 1928

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait (full length masked figure in cloak with masks)
1928
Silver gelatin print
109mm x 82mm
Jersey Heritage Collections
© Jersey Heritage

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait' 1929

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait
1929
Silver gelatin print

 

Claude Cahun. 'Je tends les bras (I extend my arms)' c. 1932

 

Claude Cahun
Je tends les bras (I extend my arms)
c. 1932
Silver gelatin print
Jersey Heritage Collections
© Jersey Heritage

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait (in cupboard)' c. 1932

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait (in cupboard)
c. 1932
Silver gelatin print
Jersey Heritage Collections
© Jersey Heritage

 

 

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask (9 March – 29 May 2017) draws together over 100 works by French artist Claude Cahun (1894-1954) and British contemporary artist Gillian Wearing (b.1963). While they were born 70 years apart, they share similar themes of gender, identity, masquerade and performance.

Cahun, along with her contemporaries André Breton and Man Ray, was affiliated with the French Surrealist movement although her work was rarely exhibited during her lifetime. Together with her partner, the artist and stage designer Marcel Moore, the two women left Paris and were then imprisoned in Nazi-occupied Jersey during the Second World War as a result of their roles in the French Resistance. In her photographs she is depicted wearing masks and costumes and engaging with Surrealist ideas. She also changes her appearance by shaving her hair and wearing wigs, often challenging traditional notions of gender representation.

Gillian Wearing studied at Goldsmiths University, winning the Turner Prize in 1997. She has exhibited extensively in the United Kingdom and internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery and Serpentine Gallery, whilst overseas, recent retrospectives include IVAM Valencia and K20 Dusseldorf. Wearing’s photographic self-portraits incorporate painstaking recreations of her as others in an intriguing and sometimes unsettling range of guises such as where she becomes her immediate family members using prosthetic masks.

Despite their different backgrounds, obvious and remarkable parallels can be drawn between the artists whose fascination with identity and gender is played out through performance and masquerade. Wearing has referenced Cahun overtly in the past: Me as Cahun holding a mask of my face is a reconstruction of Cahun’s self-portrait Don’t kiss me I’m in training of 1927, and forms the starting point of this exhibition, the title of which (Behind the mask, another mask) adapts a quotation from Claude Cahun’s Surrealist writings.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘This inspired, timely and poignant exhibition pairs the works of Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun. These pioneering artists, although separated by several decades, address similarly compelling themes around gender, identity, masquerade, performance and the idea of the self, issues that are ever more relevant to the present day.’

Sarah Howgate, Curator, Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask, says: ‘It seems particularly fitting that at the National Portrait Gallery on International Women’s Day we are bringing together for the first time Claude Cahun’s intriguing and complex explorations of identity with the equally challenging and provocative self-images of Gillian Wearing.’

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask is curated by Sarah Howgate, Senior Curator of Contemporary Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait as a young girl' 1914

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait as a young girl
1914
Silver gelatin print
Jersey Heritage Collections
© Jersey Heritage

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait as a young girl' 1914

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait as a young girl
1914
Silver gelatin print
Jersey Heritage Collections
© Jersey Heritage

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait (shaved head, material draped across body)' 1920

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait (shaved head, material draped across body)
1920
Silver gelatin print
115mm x 89mm

 

Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1927

 

Claude Cahun
Autoportrait
1927
Silver gelatin print

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-Portrait' 1927

 

Claude Cahun
Self-Portrait
1927
Silver gelatin print

 

Claude Cahun. 'Que me veux tu?' 1929

 

Claude Cahun
Que me veux tu? (What do you want from me?)
1929
Gelatin silver print
18 x 23 cm (7 1/16 x 9 1/16 ins)
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait' 1929

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait
1929
Gelatin silver print

 

Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1939

 

Claude Cahun
Autoportrait
1939
Gelatin silver print
10 x 8 cm
Jersey Heritage Collection
© Jersey Heritage

 

Claude Cahun. 'Self-portrait (with Nazi badge between her teeth)' 1945

 

Claude Cahun
Self-portrait (with Nazi badge between her teeth)
1945
Photograph – Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Ten things you need to know about this extraordinary artist

1. Her real name was Lucy Schwob.
She was born 25 October 1894 in Nantes, daughter of newspaper owner Maurice Schwob and Victorine Marie Courbebaisse; her uncle was the Symbolist writer Marcel Schwob. Subjected to anti-Semitic acts following the Dreyfus Affair, she was removed to a boarding school in Surrey, where she studied for two years.

2. Cahun’s lover was also her stepsister.
In 1909, she met her lifelong partner and collaborator Suzanne Malherbe while studying in Nantes, in what she described as a ‘thunderbolt encounter’. Eight years later, Cahun’s father married Suzanne’s widowed mother.

3. The couple adopted gender-neutral names.
Schwob first used the name Claude Cahun in the semi-biographical text ‘Les Jeux uraniens’, Cahun being a surname from her father’s side. Malherbe changed her name to Marcel Moore and the pair moved to Paris in 1914, where they began their artistic collaborations and Cahun studied literature and philosophy at the Sorbonne.

4. Cahun was one of the few female Surrealists.
In 1932 she was introduced to André Breton, who called her ‘one of the most curious spirits of our time’. Four years later, Cahun participated in the Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Charles Ratton, Paris, and visited the International Surrealist Exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries, London. Whereas in the works of male Surrealists women often appear as eroticised objects, Cahun’s self-portraits explore female identity as constructed and multifaceted.

5. She was first and foremost a writer.
Now best known for her striking self-portraits, Cahun saw herself primarily as a writer. In 1930 she published Aveux non avenus (translated into English as Disavowals or Cancelled Confessions), an ‘anti-memoir’ including ten photomontages created in collaboration with Moore.

6. In 1937 the couple swapped Paris for Jersey.
Cahun and Moore moved to La Rocquaise, a house in St Brelade’s Bay, Jersey, where they led a secluded life. The couple reverted to their given names, Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, and were known by the islanders as ‘les mesdames’.

7. They were actively involved in the resistance against Nazi Occupation.
When the Germans invaded Jersey in 1940 they decided to stay and produced counter-propaganda tracts. In July 1944 they were found out, arrested, stood trial, and were, briefly, sentenced to death (though these sentences were commuted). The couple were imprisoned in separate cells for almost a year before Liberation in May 1945.

8. In 1951 Cahun received the Medal of French Gratitude for her acts of resistance during the Second World War. Suffering increasingly from ill health, she died in 1954 at the age of sixty. Moore died eighteen years later, in 1972.

9. She remained forgotten for half a century
Following her move to Jersey, Cahun slipped from critical attention. After the death of Marcel Moore, much of Cahun’s work was put up for auction and acquired by collector John Wakeham, who then sold it to the Jersey Heritage Trust in 1995. The publication in 1992 of the definitive biography by Francois Leperlier, Claude Cahun: l’ecart et la metamorphose, and subsequent exhibition, Claude Cahun: Photographe, at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1995 encouraged a growing interest in the artist’s work. It was during this time that Gillian Wearing discovered Claude Cahun.

10. She was an artist ahead of her time
Wearing speaks of a ‘camaraderie’ between her and Cahun but she is not the only contemporary artist to have been influenced by her work. Cahun has a dedicated following among artists and art historians working from postmodern, feminist and queer theoretical perspectives; the American art critic Hal Foster described Cahun as ‘a Cindy Sherman avant la lettre’.

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Self-portrait as my brother Richard Wearing' 2003

 

Gillian Wearing
Self-portrait as my brother Richard Wearing
2003
Heather Podesta Collection
© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Me as Mapplethorpe' 2009

 

Gillian Wearing
Me as Mapplethorpe
2009
© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London, Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Me as Warhol in Drag with Scar' 2010

 

Gillian Wearing
Me as Warhol in Drag with Scar
2010
© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London, Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Me as Diane Arbus' 2008-2010

 

Gillian Wearing
Me as Diane Arbus
2008-2010
© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London, Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Me as Cahun holding a mask of my face' 2012

 

Gillian Wearing
Me as Cahun holding a mask of my face
2012
© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Self-portrait of me now in a mask' 2011

 

Gillian Wearing
Self-portrait of me now in a mask
2011
Collection of Mario Testino
© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Me as mask' 2013

 

Gillian Wearing
Me as mask
2013
Private collection, courtesy Cecilia Dan Fine Art
© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

 

Gillian Wearing. 'At Claude Cahun's grave' 2015

 

Gillian Wearing
At Claude Cahun’s grave
2015
© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

 

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23
Nov
14

Review: ‘Polixeni Papapetrou: Lost Psyche’ at Stills Gallery, Sydney

Exhibition dates: 29th October – 29th November 2014

 

 

“Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”

.
Paul Klee. Creative Credo [Schöpferische Konfession] 1920

 

When “facing” adversity, it is a measure of a person’s character how they hold themselves, what face they show to the world, and how their art represents them in that world. So it is with Polixeni Papapetrou. The courage of this artist, her consistency of vision and insightful commentary on life even while life itself is in the balance, are inspiring to all those that know her.

Papapetrou has always created her own language, integrating the temporal dissemination of the historical “case” into a two-dimensional space of simultaneity and tabulation (the various archetypes and ancient characters), into an outline against a ground of Cartesian coordinates.1 In her construction, in her observation and under her act of surveillance, Papapetrou moves towards a well-made description of the states of the body in the tables and classification of the psychological landscape. Her tableaux (the French tableau signifies painting and scene (as in tableau vivant), but also table (as in a table used to organize data)) are a classification and tabulation that is an exact “portrait” of “the” illness, the lost psyche of the title. Her images lay out, in a very visible way, the double makeover: of the outer and inner landscape.

These narratives are above all self-portraits. The idea that image, archetype and artist might somehow be one and the same is a potent idea in Papapetrou’s work. What is “rendered” visible in her art is her own spirit, for these visionary works are nothing less than concise, intimate, focused self-portraits. They speak through the mask of the commedia dell’ arte of a face half turned to the world, half immersed in imaginary worlds. The double skin (as though human soul, the psyche, is erupting from within, forcing a face-off) and triple skin (evidenced in the lack of depth of field of the landscape tableaux) propose an opening up, a revealing of self in which the anatomy (anatemnein: to tear, to open a body, to dissect) of the living is revealed. The images become an autopsy on the living and the dead: “a series of images, that would crystallize and memorize for everyone the whole time of an inquiry and, beyond that, the time of a history.”2

Papapetrou’s images become the “true retina” of seeing, close to a scientific description of a character placed on a two dimensional background (notice how the stylised clouds in The Antiquarian, 2014 match the fur hat trim). In the sense of evidence, the artist’s archetypes proffer a Type that is balanced on the edge of longing, poetry, desire and death, one that the objectivity of photography seeks to fix and stabilise. These images serve the fantasy of a memory: of a masked archetype in a made over landscape captured “exact and sincere” by the apparatus of the camera. A faithful memory of a tableau in which Type is condensed into a unique image: the visage fixed to the regime of representation,3 the universal become singular. This Type is named through the incorporated Text, the Legend: I am Day Dreamer, Immigrant, Merchant, Poet, Storyteller.

But even as these photographs seek to fix the Type, “even as the object of knowledge is photographically detained for observation, fixed to objectivity,”4 the paradox is that this kind of knowledge slips away from itself, because photography is always an uncertain technique, unstable and chaotic, as ever the psyche. In the cutting-up of bodies, cutting-up on stage, a staging aimed at knowledge – the facticity of the masked, obscured, erupting face; the corporeal surface of the body, landscape, photograph – the image makes visible something of the movements of the soul. In these heterotopic images, sites that relate to more stable sites, “but in such a way as to suspect, neutralize, or invert the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror or reflect,”5 Papapetrou’s psyche, “creates the chain of tradition which passes a happening on from generation to generation.”6 In her commedia dell’ arte, an improvised comedy of craft, of artisans (a worker in a skilled trade), the artist fashions the raw material of experience in a unique way.7 We, the audience, intuitively recognise the type of person being represented in the story, through their half masks, their clothing and context and through the skilful dissemination of collective memory and experience.

Through her storytelling Papapetrou moves towards a social and spiritual transformation, one that unhinges the lost psyche. Her landscape narratives are a narrative of a recognisable, challenging, unstable non-linear art, an art practice that embraces “the speculative mystery of ancient roles…  They’re all souls with divided emotions, torn between dream and reality, who like us, converge on the collective stage that is the world.” They are archetype as self-portrait: portraits of a searching, erupting, questioning soul, brave and courageous in a time of peril. And the work is for the children (of the world), for without art and family, extinction.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

Footnotes

1. Adapted from Didi-Huberman, Georges. Invention of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpetriere (trans. Alisa Hartz). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003, p. 24-25. I am indebted to the ideas of Georges Didi-Huberman for his analysis of the ‘facies’ and the experiments of Jean-Martin Charcot on hysteria at the Hôpital Salpêtrière in Paris in the 1880s.
2.
Ibid., p. 48
3. Ibid., p. 49
4. Ibid., p. 59
5. Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces,” in Diacritics Spring 1986, p. 24 quoted in Fisher, Jean. “Witness for the Prosecution: The Writings of Coco Fusco,” in Fusco, Coco. The Bodies That Were Not Ours. London: Routledge, 2001, pp. 226-227
6. Fisher, Ibid., p. 227-228
7. “One can go on and ask oneself whether the relationship of the storyteller to his material, human life, is not in itself a craftsman’s relationship, whether it is not his very task to fashion the raw material of experience, his own and that of others, in a solid, useful, and unique way.”
Benjamin
, Walter. Illuminations (trans. by Harry Zohn; edited by Hannah Arendt). New York: Schocken Books, 1968 (2007), p. 108

 

Many thankx to Polixeni Papapetrou and Stills Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All images copyright of the artist.

 

 

“For her, history indicates a view of culture that is more congruent with mortality, with the biological swell of great things arising and perishing, brilliant and melancholy, august and yet brittle. Without judgement, she reorients history as phenomenology: it contains a bracing dimension of loss which is congruent with that fatal sentiment lodged in our unconscious, that our very being – our psyche – is ultimately lost…

Lost Psyche is always about lost cultural innocence, where culture gets too smart and ends by messing with an earlier equilibrium. Papapetrou identifies these moments not to promote gloom but to recognize all the parallels that make for redemption. Parts of the psyche are undoubtedly lost; but Papapetrou proposes and proves that they can still be poetically contacted.”

.
Robert Nelson 2014

 

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Day Dreamer' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Day Dreamer
2014
Pigment print
100 x 150 cm

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Immigrant' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Immigrant
2014
Pigment print
100 x 150 cm

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Merchant' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Merchant
2014
Pigment print
100 x 150 cm

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Orientalist' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Orientalist
2014
Pigment print
100 x 150 cm

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Poet' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Poet
2014
Pigment print
100 x 150 cm

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Storyteller' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Storyteller
2014
Pigment print
100 x 150 cm

 

 

“In Lost Psyche, Polixeni Papapetrou portrays emblematic figures that have come to the end of their tradition, their rationale, their place in the world. These intriguing and charismatic characters – the poet, the tourist, the immigrant, among others – bring to life antique Victorian paper masks. Yet, despite being cast beyond our immediate reality, their costumes harking back to earlier times, their settings to fantastical places, these archetypal figures live on in the cultural imagination.

Internationally celebrated for an oeuvre that has consistently tested the boundaries of performance and photography, reality and fantasy, childhood and adulthood, Lost Psyche marks a significant return for Papapetrou. Having extensively explored the Australian landscape as a stage for her photographic fictions, and working in response to the natural and historical dramas of our country, this series takes us back into her studio and the expansive scope of imaginary worlds.

Expressive, luscious and knowingly naïve, the painted backdrops bring to mind the simple seduction of children’s storybooks. At the same time, they reference the painting heavyweights and photographic forerunners that are celebrated within art history. Papapetrou’s image The Duchess, for instance, echoes Goya’s commanding oil painting of the Duchess of Alba (1797). Yet, in this newly imagined version, the ‘role’ of Duchess is playfully acted not endured, and like the melodrama of theatre, the dark sky and downcast actor are softened to become illustrative and symbolic – a scene in a universal story. So too, The Orientalist evokes Felix Beato’s 19th Century photographic forays in Japan, recalling his hand-colouring techniques and depictions of social ‘types’.

Consciously foregrounding this ever-present potential for art to present stereotyped representations, Papapetrou reminds us how these social roles and ‘masks’ play out within our souls and psyche’s just as they do on the cultural stage. As a metaphor for the loss of childhood, a time in which we openly switch between characters, identities and roles, this work evokes the persistence of that imagination, as it lives on within the adult world.

In Lost Psyche, the speculative mystery of ancient roles enjoys a fantastical and touching afterlife. In the contemporary world we may also entertain the inner poet, the storyteller, the clown, the connoisseur, the courtesan, the day dreamer or the dispossessed. They’re all souls with divided emotions, torn between dream and reality, who like us, converge on the collective stage that is the world.

Polixeni Papapetrou is an internationally acclaimed artist. Her works feature in significant curated exhibitions, including recently the 13th Dong Gang International Photo Festival, Korea, the TarraWarra Biennale, VIC, Remain in Light, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria. She exhibits worldwide, including in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Athens and Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include Under My Skin, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, 2014, Between Worlds in Fotogràfica Bogotá, 2013, and A Performative Paradox, Centre for Contemporary Photography, 2013. Her work is held in numerous institutional collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Monash Gallery of Art, Artbank, Fotomuseo, Colombia, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Florida, USA.”

Press release from Stills Gallery

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Antiquarian' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Antiquarian
2014
Pigment print
150 x 100 cm

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Duchess' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Duchess
2014
Pigment print
150 x 100 cm

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Summer Clown' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Summer Clown
2014
Pigment print
150 x 100 cm

 

Polixeni Papapetrou. 'The Troubadour' 2014

 

Polixeni Papapetrou
The Troubadour
2014
Pigment print
150 x 100 cm

 

 

Stills Gallery
36 Gosbell Street
Paddington NSW 2021
Australia
T: 61 2 9331 7775

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11.00 am – 6.00 pm

Stills Gallery website

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27
Jan
13

Exhibition: ‘XTRAVAGANZA. Staging Leigh Bowery’ at Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna

Exhibition dates: 19th October 2012 – 3rd February 2013

 

Installation view of 'XTRAVAGANZA. Staging Leigh Bowery', Kunsthalle Wien

 

Installation view of XTRAVAGANZA. Staging Leigh Bowery, Kunsthalle Wien
Foto: Stephan Wyckoff
Kostüme Leigh Bowery
Kostümpräsentation: Klaus Mayr
Courtesy Estate of Leigh Bowery

 

 

I can die happy now that I have had the opportunity to do a posting on this amazing man. He challenged social stereotypes turning his body into an every changing, ever challenging work of art. He used his body as a canvas and inscribed narratives upon it. He used these narratives to challenge the dominant discourse, offering himself as material evidence to facilitate new perspectives. His body became a performance, the self as performance, one that was not fully pre-determined, for you never knew what he would do next, what social outrage he would offer up.

Through masks, makeup, wigs and body modification, Bowery confronted the viewer with an/other field of existence, one that promoted an encounter with the face of the other, causing an emotional response in the audience, the viewer. As Wendy Garden observes, “Being faced with another provokes a reaction: it makes an appeal, demands an engagement.”1 We cannot look away for we do not know what Bowery will do next. He used his large body, its bulk and presence to bring the viewer face-to-face with an/other. The magnification of his size and the emphasis and manipulation of his face, especially the mouth and eyes, rescales his presence in front of the viewer – at his performances, in the photographs of Bowery. For example, look at his creation Evening Wear – Andrew Logan’s 1986 Alternative Miss World (1986, below). Impossibly high and luridly coloured boots, leggings, a bustled and bedazzled jacket / skirt combo, crash helmet and the most maniacal black and white face you will ever see. Bowery unbalances the fixity of the single perspective and through his transgression destabilises the mastering gaze.

I was living in London at the time Leigh Bowery, Boy George, Marilyn and Divine were strutting their stuff in the nightclubs of London town. What a time. Maggie Thatcher (and I can hardly bring myself to type her name) was Prime Minister of a right wing Conservative government from 1979-1990, a period of social oppression of minorities, the breaking of the trade unions, the beginning of HIV/AIDS. Think Boy George’s famous song No Clause 28 that protested against a local government act that “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” Bowery was a child of his time, a prescient, sentient being who was out there doing his thing, challenging the dominant paradigms of a patriarchal society. He burned like a comet, bright in the sky, and then was gone all too early. But he will never be forgotten. What a man.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. 1Garden, Wendy. “Ethical witnessing and the portrait photograph: Brook Andrew,” in Journal of Australian Studies Vol. 35, No. 2, June 2011, p. 261.

.
Many thankx to Kunsthalle Wien for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

 

 

The Legend of Leigh Bowery

 

Installation view of 'XTRAVAGANZA. Staging Leigh Bowery', Kunsthalle Wien

 

Installation view of XTRAVAGANZA. Staging Leigh Bowery, Kunsthalle Wien
Foto: Stephan Wyckoff
Kostüme Leigh Bowery
Kostümpräs: Klaus Mayr
Courtesy Estate of Leigh Bowery; Cerith Wyn Evans, In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni, 2008
Courtesy Cerith Wyn Evans und White Cube

 

Installation view of 'XTRAVAGANZA. Staging Leigh Bowery', Kunsthalle Wien

 

Installation view of XTRAVAGANZA. Staging Leigh Bowery, Kunsthalle Wien
Foto: Stephan Wyckoff
Kostüme Leigh Bowery
Kostümpräsentation: Klaus Mayr
Courtesy Estate of Leigh Bowery

 

Charles Atlas. 'Teach' 1992-98

 

Charles Atlas
Teach
1992-98
Video-Still
© Charles Atlas, Courtesy Vilma Gold, London

 

Werner Pawlok. 'Portrait Leigh Bowery 3' 1988

 

Werner Pawlok (German, b. 1953)
Portrait Leigh Bowery 3
1988
Courtesy Werner Pawlok

 

 

“”I think of myself as a canvas,” fashion pioneer Leigh Bowery once said about himself. If there were a formula to describe this enfant terrible who refused all categorisation throughout his life, this would be it: turning oneself into a work of art. Presenting himself in the most garish ways that defied all conventions and stylising himself as a walking work of art, Leigh Bowery, who was born in Australia in 1961, stirred up London’s sub-culture of the 1980s in the wake of post punk and New Romanticism. Being friends with stars of the scene like Michael Clark and Cerith Wyn Evans, he continuously reinvented himself on the manifold stages of the metropolis.

The show highlights Leigh Bowery’s life and work between fashion, performance, music, dance, and sculpture by presenting rarely exhibited costumes, numerous films, photographs, music videos, talk shows, and magazines. It approaches Bowery by way of artistic descriptions, reflections, and documentations in the work of friends, supporters, and colleagues, whose source of inspiration, entertainer, and muse he was: Bowery’s performative enactments oscillating between masquerade and radical self-expression were captured by filmmakers such as Charles Atlas, Dick Jewell, Baillie Walsh, and John Maybury. It took Fergus Greer a number of sessions that stretched over six years to shoot the legendary photo series Looks. As Charles Atlas’s Teach shows, Leigh Bowery developed his unmistakable outfits, gestures, and poses in multiple forms of self-reflection under his companions’ critical eye. Bowery’s one-week performance in the Anthony d’Offay Gallery in London (1988) involved a two-way mirror: while the public could watch Leigh Bowery changing his outfits for hours on end, he saw only his own mirror image and remained inescapably confronted with himself and his movements. Though Bowery claimed that he had had to fight his shame initially and hid his room-filling physique behind conspicuous materials such as tulle, glitter, paint, and satin, his performances were anything but embarrassing: “The rest of us used drag and make-up to disguise our blemishes and physical defects. Leigh made them the focal point of his art,” Boy George once remarked. The nightclubs of London provided Bowery with catwalks on which to flaunt his visions of himself and let him always come out on top in terms of maximum attention. Lucian Freud, the British prince of painters, took great pleasure in Leigh Bowery’s fascinating personality and the fullness of his naked body. Bowery became one of his most important models, and the artist depicted him as he could never be seen in public: natural, intimate, and vulnerable.

Leigh Bowery’s art clearly differs from the designs, presentation patterns, and distribution channels of fashion designers. With Trash and Bad Taste irony, Bowery, like his idol John Waters and his main actor Divine, abandoned all conventions and stylistic doctrines in a both cynical and humorous way. His craftsmanship in tailoring and his creative potential constitute the core of an expressive self-stylisation which did not depend on encouraging the public through marketing strategies or offers of consumer goods. His vestimentary creations were based on the work with his own body, which he regarded as a malleable material and workable mass and which was to play an increasingly central part in his late oeuvre. Regarded as inexorably deficient, his body became the origin of those manifold appearances and kaleidoscopic diversifications that we find most astounding when confronted with Bowery’s work. He experimented with second skins of black latex, exaggerated the size and volume of his body with sweeping tulle attires, and made himself look taller with platform shoes. Bowery sabotaged glamorous, ornamental and transparent materials with steel helmets, toilet seats, and skulls. He fastened artificial lips in his cheeks with safety pins and wore flesh-coloured velvet suits that transformed his body into a vagina. Using adhesive tape and a bodice, he shaped his flesh into an artificial bosom, and he concealed his member behind pubic hair toupees or overemphasised it as he did in one of the Michael Clark Company’s dance performances. He disparaged unequivocal gender definitions and transcended their socially informed attributions – Gender Trouble: everything was a look. By and by, Bowery turned into what has been called “the self as performance.”

Leigh Bowery’s existence was the epitome of extremes. He looked for exceptional emotional and physical states like pain and ecstasy that would release him from the mediocrity of everyday life, like in the performance The Laugh of No.12 in Fort Asperen on June 4, 1994. Suspended on one foot, stark naked, wearing a black face mask, and displaying some clothespins on his genitals, he swung through the air uttering a sprechgesang, before he smashed a pane of glass with his bulky body. Exposing himself to his vulnerability in his performances, Bowery overcame physical injuries by showcasing them. His sometimes sadomasochist appearances and provocative lifestyle culminated in an attitude that crystallised into a sociopolitical approach in his statement “I like doing the opposite of what people expect.” Far from nocturnal footlights and kindred spirits’ protection, he – who was “larger than life” in every respect – strained the social limits of propriety with his big and exalted appearance. He enjoyed causing offence and holding up a mirror to the dictatorship of conformism, unmasking its heteronomy.

After an excessive life, Leigh Bowery died from AIDS at the age of 33. He was more than an extraordinary peripheral figure making his mark in the urban arena of exhibitionism and voyeurism. His virtuoso works have influenced haute couture collections by such fashion stars as Rei Kawakubo, John Galliano, Walter van Beirendonck, and Alexander McQueen. In spite of its simplicity, the latest fall/winter collection of Comme des Garçons shows obvious parallels to Leigh Bowery’s designs.”

Press release from the Kunsthalle Wien website

 

Robin Beeche. 'Evening Wear - Andrew Logan's 1986 Alternative Miss World' 1986

 

Robin Beeche (Australian, 1945-2015)
Evening Wear – Andrew Logan’s 1986 Alternative Miss World
1986
Courtesy Robin Beeche

 

Nick Knight. 'Untitled (Leigh Bowery with Scull)' 1992

 

Nick Knight (British, b. 1958)
Untitled (Leigh Bowery with Scull)
1992
© Nick Knight

 

Ole Christiansen. 'Farrel House' 1989

 

Ole Christiansen (Danish)
Farrel House
1989
Courtesy Ole Christiansen

 

Fergus Greer. 'Leigh Bowery, Session VII, Look 38, June 1994' 1994

 

Fergus Greer (British)
Leigh Bowery, Session VII, Look 38, June 1994
1994
Courtesy Fergus Greer
© Fergus Greer

 

 

Kunsthalle Wien
Museumsplatz 1
A-1070 Vienna

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 7pm
Thursday 10am – 10pm

Kunsthalle Wien website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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