When you’re a genius, you need to be strong to be happy. Of course i’m not talking about myself; hey – even when, in a couple of years from now, these Stockholm guys finally put me on that Nobel Prize shortlist, i’ll stay completely modest. No, i’m talking about people like Murakami. Or Prince.
“You don’t understand, Ben. You have to help me.” “Wait, i’ll turn on the lights. Goddamn Rebecca, where is the nightlight? What did you do with it? Why aren’t you in bed?” He doesn’t like things getting out of hand, not in the daytime and surely not at night. He’s desperately trying to restore order. He’s still tapping the blanket. “Please don’t shout, Ben. And for God’s sake don’t turn on the lights!” He can’t believe his ears. The girl without tears seems to be sobbing. “Oh darling,” he says. “You’re sobbing. Why?” Grief overwhelming him. He’s almost there. In his hands her nightgown, soft, satin, a lace border. She’s taken it off, she’s standing naked in the dark. He presses his face into the nightgown. “Oh darling,” he repeats, “please come here. It’s too cold out there, come with me, under the blankets.” He puts the nightgown down. He’s longing for her, he feels ridiculous, sitting on this mattress alone, all excited, not knowing what to do. He doesn’t even know where to crawl to. And he still can’t find the night lamp. “Come here, honey.” “I’m not sobbing,” she says, her voice steady again, reprimanding even. “Why did you say i’m sobbing? Don’t say that because i’m not.” “But you were, honey, you were.”
Have you ever fallen in love with someone you are sure to never meet again?
I have. Plenty of times. It happens so spontaneously, maybe I'm crossing the street, coming down the stairs, or just standing on my balcony. It doesn't happen all the time nor even everyday. But it does happen. The others who I tell about it say that it's just an attraction or that it's just an uncanny attachment as the result of my loneliness. I disagree. It is love, I know it because I feel it.
They've booked a hotel in Amsterdam. Weather is boisterous, streets are empty, night has fallen. Between two showers of summer hail she’s looking out of the window, stooped forward, down into the street. Voices of scarce late passers-by, evaporating. It’s windy. Then she turns around and says, Now i know, Ben. She’s caressing her belly, both hands, she’s thrusting it out, showing off her pregnancy. “There’s nothing to see, really,” he says. They both burst into laughter. “It isn’t funny,” she says. Then they laugh again, leaving them with tears in their eyes. She tiptoes towards him, thrusting him, tickling him, pushing him against the wall. Kisses him. She hitches up her short sleeved ochre pullover, inviting him to caress her belly. “I’m keeping it,” she says. She looks at him in what seems a significant, even slightly challenging way. Suddenly she’s proud to have made a decision. Her look is defiant. “It's as flat as le plat pays,” he says. “I love you though, you sneaky little bastard,” he says, bending over, kissing her belly.
Allow me to take you on a journey to somewhere that never existed: after all, these are the best places to go. You’re in the South of France, or perhaps the Hollywood Hills - who cares? It’s warm, the mountains are beautiful, and you can see the ocean glistening in the distance, like a blue sapphire calling your name.
You look down between your legs to see a 1948 Vincent Black Shadow, it’s a beautiful black motorbike, old school, sleek, fast. You twist the throttle harder and roar forwards. The wind ruffles through your hair, no need for a helmet in your dreams. The collar on your black leather jacket sticks up at the perfect angle of effortlessly cool, your blue jeans are tight but not uncomfortable, and your Cuban heeled boots, well, words can't describe that level of sex appeal.
Andy Williams “Music to watch girls by” plays in the backgrounds as you fly through the mountain roads down towards the beach, and for some reason, inexplicably, a limp cigarette hangs in your mouth.
But he caught fever and plans were cancelled, and there she was now, a spot of light inadvertently showing off against the grey backdrop of the station. A tight blue woollen dress, short leather jacket with straps. “Look how my breasts have swollen,” she opens with, after she’d thrown her bag into the trunk, stretching her legs. “Again. I’m almost a porn star. Jesus. I was glad I could hop off this bus. What do you think, Ben?” Pulling down her dress she casts a questioning look upon him. He throws a glance. He almost crashes into a bus. An hour later, curled up in a chair, holding a cup of tea to warm her hands, she tells him about couple of weeks ago, her friend Roberta had won a night in Rotterdam, at a five-star hotel, and they’d been sitting in a big octagonal hot tub and drinking Martini, which she doesn’t like but Roberta kept on pouring, and then they had been giggling because Roberta had been pointing at her breasts saying they were really huge, and then she looked at them herself and was surprised too. That was before they found out about the pregnancy. “You aren’t pregnant, are you?” Roberta, worried, had asked.
Last week i bumped into a marvellous little gem of scarcely 100 pages. Handy when you’ve got a free afternoon to spend and are in for some good laughs (btw this kind of situation generally is called ‘holiday’: other parts of the year you’ll see that a. you don’t have a free afternoon to spend and/or b. you aren’t in for some good laughs).
But holiday it is, my friends! And the fun already begins on the back cover, where it is written, about the author i’d never heard of: “Andrew Kaufman was born in the town of Wingham, Ontario, Canada, the birthplace of Alice Munro, making him the second best writer from a town of three thousand.”
Now that’s what i call catching my attention. Laugh number one was born. I’m still enjoying the sentence, actually. (Is it Andrew Kaufman himself who brewed it, or some smart guy or girl at this small editing firm, Telegram (London)? Anyway, it’s a great appetizer.)
Yesterday, to our utter surprise, we came to receive this letter, written by Ben, one of the main characters in Eduardo Riccardo’s novel ‘The Longing’. As it’s addressed to the writer, of course we forwarded it to Eduardo. The internet connection being extremely weak in his mountain cabin, we can only hope the letter reaches its destination…
Anyway, as it may be of interest to our readers, we thought it our duty to publish it.
I know you’ll want to shoot me for this, but- yes, it’s me, Ben. The Longing. One of your novel’s main characters. To be honest: if you want to shoot me, well… go ahead, I understand. After all you created me. And it’s not what novel characters are supposed to do, is it: go and start our own lives, independent from our writer? Do things without them being written out? I mean, what if Emma Bovary had stepped out of her story 150 years ago, would Flaubert have been happy? Don’t think so. And Anna Karenina? Count Vronsky? Not sure if Leo Tolstoy would have appreciated it.
The nude female form is, without doubt, the most studied subject in art history. From the earliest cave paintings in Central - Africa, right up to Kim K’s latest Instagram post, the curves (or lack thereof) of the female form are one of our greatest cultural indicators. From the smallest detail in an image, we can learn so much about the time in which it was created. Are they tanned? If not, then, at that particular time in European History, it was not considered desirable or particularly cool to work outside on the land… pale skin was a sign of wealth. Does she have a large bottom (think Kim K)? Then, as a society, we have become more diverse, body characteristics not usually found in White Europeans are now our standard of beauty. The list is endless: how much is she covered, what are her proportions, does she look confident… etc. Fascinating.
The next day two things happen. In the morning his wife is calling him. The conversation starts quite encouragingly, her voice is mellifluous, almost sweet even, she says, “Look Ben, I’m going to do you a favour…” His heart skips a beat. “Oh darling, that’s so grand of you, I knew you’d understand. After all, it wasn’t what it…” “… I’ll give you seven days instead of four, to get the fuck out of the house, taking your personal belongings, strictu sensu, with you, foremost amongst which, that blonde bimbo you were… who was… accompanying…” Now her voice starts trembling. He especially doesn’t like the strictu sensu. “Come on Marjorie, there’s no need to exaggerate things, nothing much happened and I can…” “That’s your opinion then. You’ve never been very devoid of opinions, have you, Ben? I’m so tired of these opinions of yours. Now let’s see if the judge shares this one after he or she’s seen the little movie Lily has made of your… performance.” “Movie? Lily?”
Much Madness is divinest Sense - To a discerning Eye - Much Sense - the starkest Madness - ’Tis the Majority In this, as all, prevail - Assent - and you are sane - Demur - you’re straightway dangerous - And handled with a Chain -
This poem echoes in my mind and has stuck with me since the first time I heard it. I was attending a poetry seminar and we were presented with Emily Dickinson. Our teacher, with smooth features and curly warm-coloured hair, was standing in front of us with sparkling eyes talking about Emily. I recall her face every time I think about Emily, even these days, despite being mostly blurred by the nonsense of monotony. I remember that I was rather disinterested in poetry because I considered myself too rational and strong to be moved by sensitive poetic words. ‘Nonsense’ I would think while sitting bossily on my chair and holding my pen with curled lips.
“Hello?” “Hell-oow sir!” “? With whom do i have the honour to…” “Hell-oow sir, emergency services speaking sir!” “… emergency services?” “Yes sir, that’s right, 1-2-1 at your service sir! We’re here to help you sir.” “… but i didn’t call… i mean, there’s no emergency and, actually, i’m in a hurr…” “Ho ho ho, sir, no emergency you say sir. (To Pete) He says there’s no emergency Pete. (Laughter in the background.) Now don’t jump to conclusions, sir. Are you sure, and i mean ab-so-lu-te-ly sure, you haven’t got a fire going on somewhere sir? A small, almost undetectable…” “There’s no fire here, mister. And if you’ll excu…” “Ho sir, wait a minute sir. We understand it’s hot, but we’re only doing our job sir. Did you know 32% of all fires are caused by a dryer, sir? Do you have a dryer sir?” “Yes, we have a…“ "Now here we are! (To Pete) He has a dryer Pete. Have you written that down? How old is your dryer sir?” “10 years… Man, i don’t know. I have to catch a…” “10 YEARS! Write this down Pete. His dryer is 10 years old. You’re in big trouble sir. You have to catch a plane sir?” “Yes…” “He has to catch a plane, Pete. Write this down. Where are you flying to sir?”
Notting Hill Carnival started, as all good things should, in order to establish peace and harmony. The event’s infancy began in 1959 and was organized by the Trinidadian activist-journalist Claudia Jones as an indoor Caribbean Carnival spurred into existence by the 1958 Notting Hill Race Riots, and, the intensely charged atmosphere that had built up to them. After the Second World War Britain experienced an influx in Afro-Caribbean immigration. With Britain economically less stable thanks to its War-Debt, and, rationing still a recent memory, Britains white working classes were becoming increasingly disgruntled and unruly. With the help of far-right groups led by the likes of Oswald Mosley, the working classes of Britain were slowly being convinced that their plight was being directly created by the Afro-Caribbean immigrants.
With the holidays in view, it’s high time we recommended you some wonderful literature to make your sunny days even more spectacular…
First this collection: ‘Snapshots’, containing a series of sketches and (very) short essays by the Italian writer and philosopher Claudio Magris. The background to more than a few of these stories, written between 1999 and 2016, is Triëste, his hometown.
His account of a visit he paid to the gallery of his friend Leo Castelli, also of Triëste origins, is without any doubt a great appetizer... It takes place in October 1989, at a moment NYC galleries are in protest against the ruling of a judge who sentenced an artist on charges of obscenity. Therefore the gallery owners, as a sign of mourning, had covered the paintings on their walls with black cloth. Then this happens – and yes, sometimes reality beats the wildest fiction:
She’s about to take a shower, he’s sitting by the window, looking out over the garden. He hears thumping noises, produced by the installing of perfume bottles and creams in his wife’s kingdom: the bathroom. Sixteen years ago they tiled it, together, Amber was on her way. It was only two years later the money started coming in, suddenly, in big waves, bringing along an army of plumbers, interior decorators, Feng Shui consultants and mindfulness coaches, and the end of their Early Romanticism. His ship came in. Downtown boy marries uptown girl and lives happily ever after. Marjorie… Twenty-five he’d been. Her parents had never accepted him. In their eyes he had, basically, always remained a punk. He often forgot to tie his shoelaces, that was true. Or one of them. He was easily distracted, but a punk? Absent-minded, maybe. When their daughter crossed his path he was focused though. She had broken up (or was still in the act of) with her boyfriend, a DJ. He had seen her dancing. She was a bit chubby, but her posture… Proud. Quite inviting. And, most importantly: she spoke French. She was raised in the language. He liked girls speaking French. Her parents participated in a circuit of decent marriage fostering attempts, on behalf of their daughter they had the son of an old textile company in mind. He, the punk, had been the spoil-sport, the wet blanket.
A couple of days ago I read this in an interview in the Belgian French-speaking journal Le Soir: every time Sean, the oldest son of Audrey Hepburn, used to arrive in a city with his kids, they played a little game: they got three (!) minutes to find a picture of their (grand)mother. They always found one: a mural, a t-shirt, in a barbershop – wherever.
Audrey Hepburn was an influencer, an Instagram star before Instagram existed. An icon.
Did you know she was born in Brussels? Now, ninety years after her birth and twenty-six years after her death she returns to her birth town. Sean, her son, worked for ten years on this exposition documenting her life. Lots of pictures are shown on two levels in the beautiful Vanderborght building: little Audrey taking dance lessons, family pictures, a movie from the successful musical Gigi. The Roman Holiday.
(Fascinating painting by Afarin Sajedi, Iran - www.afarinsajedi.com.)
What’s the big deal with Artificial Intelligence? What does it mean for humankind to be intellectually surpassed by our own creations? That's what the Barbican’s latest exhibition AI: More than human aims to find out. In a powerful collaboration between artists, scientists, and researchers, they have curated a series of works that aim to open our minds to Artificial Intelligence and its endless possibilities. What can be achieved when we allow artificial beings to stretch their artificial legs? When we stop forcing AI to mimic our pitiful human processes and instead allow them to focus on the problems so big you can’t even wrap your head around them?
Terrific news! Readers of our blog not only enjoy priority and extras on UntitledXXI’s events, but they also qualify to participate in our promotional sales! All you have to do is fill out your email address on the left (or bottom if you’re reading this on mobile). Once in a while, when something really important is on, we’ll send you a mail.
This month we’re putting Christin Lutze in the spotlight. We introduced Christin, a young, talented artist living and painting in Berlin, almost a year ago: August 1, 2018 (Instagram) - August 3, 2018 (Facebook).
Now look at the imagination, the sunny warmth, the tenderness her spaces breath (the oil on canvas above is called 'Unsentimental Journey', dimensions 200x130cm/78x51inches, price 5.900 euros). Have a look at her other work on @christin.lutze, and www.christin-lutze.de.
Today we’ve got a (very) special and exclusive promotion for our readers. In collaboration with Christin we’re able to offer you one of her watercolours/gouache on paper, 'Ways and Paths' (2018), 33x22cm/13x9inches, regular price 425 euros, for 125 euros!
I believe the happiest people in the world are those who have travelled extensively. Since I was a little girl I have dreamt of far off places, imagining myself running around continents without stopping. So desperate has been my wish that I have begun to view every opportunity in my life as a journey. Right here, right now, the only thing that comes to my mind is how this blog post is going to travel across the world and come in contact with people from different places, whom I have always longed to meet. Therefore, this post conveys my greetings to you all.
Amidst my desperate longing for travels, I have realized that any journey that encourages a search for the new, simultaneously conceals a loss of that which is familiar.
He’s half woken up by a noise. The first thing he’s aware of is his own body. His cock hard, throbbing. Desire overwhelming him, a wave, he enters her, pulling her buttocks towards him. She utters a slight, short moan, which brings him to the verge of madness. At that moment there’s a knock on the bedroom door, short, urgent, compelling. His wife enters. Behind her, in the corridor, Amber and Lily. “Hi, honey,” Rebecca groans in a sleepy, husky voice, pinning his leg, moving her body down. He thinks he’s dying. He sees colours, of which he doesn’t remember the names, which is strange. They don’t exist, these colours, and yet he sees them. And then everything is scent. Her perfume. Bought in an old perfume shop in Firenze’s old centre, by René. Dead René. Must have bought it when he was still alive. Is this his heart skipping a beat or two? She’s moving up again. Then down. Should he make another appointment with the university heart unit? Yesterday papers announced all emergency services would be centralized into one unique number. Everywhere in the world. You’re having a heart attack paddling a canoe over the Orinoco? No problem, call 1-2-1. These days nobody should die of heart failure. Dying of heart failure was so 80s. It was like stumbling over a child’s rattle, then bumping your head against the stove. Dead. Bugger. Quite un-heroic. “Hi, honey.” That husky voice again.
An epilogue to Father’s day, dear friends – because everyday should be father’s and mother’s day. A text - a letter to her dad, actually - written by Kristen, Utah, US. Since Tammy Wynette and the Golden 60s we all know that “sometimes it’s hard to be a woman”, but, damn, more than once in a while it’s hard to be a dad too.
Dedicated not only to all the struggling fathers out there, but – maybe even more importantly – to everybody who has lost, or is about to lose, a hero, a Dad.
"Happy Father's Day to all the father's, including the wannabe father's and men who step up to mentor or care for a child that isn't their own. I am lucky. I had a father who loved me and taught me many good things.The truth is, he was far from perfect but he was the perfect father for me. It's not always the big things that matter the most.In the last year of his life as I was chatting my head off telling him all the things I had learned recently, he paused for a moment, looked at me and said,"You know, you're very interesting to listen to." That simple statement meant a lot to me - still does.
“Satan.” He could go to hell for this. After all, it was a mortal sin he was committing. The three elements constituting one: grievous matter, sufficient reflection, full consent of the will – present, each of them. Okay, on closer inspection he might have been devoid of ‘sufficient reflection’. When he was standing at the foot of the stairs she didn’t give him a lot of time to ponder the consequences of what he was about to commit. That was true. He feels somewhat relieved. Yes, entering the gates of hell he would plead uncontrollable coercion. At the gates of hell, where it was inscribed: ‘Abandon all hope, you who enters here.” Shivers run down his spine. He looks at her. “Oh, Salomé, you come in different disguises,” he whispers. “Did you say something?” she asks, absent-minded. She’s looking at her fingers, stretching them, as if still comparing them with the squaw’s. Musing, as if he wasn’t there, as if lost in a reverie, she says: “It was all about the rhythm. A leopard moves that way. Muzzle high, raising his legs proudly, in control… If you’ve never seen a leopard go for the kill, you don’t know what tenderness is all about.” Then, suddenly realizing he’s there, next to her: “You know what I mean, Ben?”
“Hello-o, am i talking to 1-2-1? Emergency services?” “Hel-lo sir, good evening! How can we help you sir?” “Well, i’ve got a slight problem…” “Slight problem you say, sir. Then you dialed the right number sir. We’re the emergency services. 1-2-1! Tell us sir…” “I’m drowning.” “You’re drowning, sir. Drowning.” “Yes, that’s correct. I’m drowning.” “Well sir… That’s quite surprising if i may say so sir. Most people…” “Plea-ea-se… It’s urgent…” “No need to panic sir. DON’T PANIC! Now what i’m asking myself – and so is Pete here, who’s sitting next to me – say hello, Pete-“ “Hello!” “… thanks Pete. So, what Pete and i are asking ourselves is this: the man is drowning, okay. But where exactly is he drowning in?” “The washbasin. I’m drowning in the washbasin.” “The washbasin. The washbasin he says, Pete. And you can’t get out, sir?"
Liz Johnson Artur was born in Bulgaria to a Ghanian mother and a Russian father. As a child, she travelled much of Eastern and Central Europe, in part as an illegal immigrant. This lead to a fractured education and a unique outlook on life, spending much of her time sitting on the streets talking to strangers as her illegal status left her outside the education system.
Her first experience living within the African diaspora was staying in a majority black neighbourhood in Brooklyn.
In 2011 $10,000 was spent on nothing. Not something that wasn’t worth anything, not something that contained nothing, just nothing. The piece (in the loosest possible sense of the term) was purchased from the Museum of Non-Visible Art, an institution backed in part by the actor James Franco.
The idea behind the museum isn’t actually as aggravating as it sounds: rather than creating a piece of art to say something, they encourage the artist simply saying it to your face.
However, it would seem that the gallery lost its way slightly when it sold a piece called “Thin Air” for $10,000.
We open our columns to talented new voices, who can send in (short) stories.
The first one is a short story by Eduardo Riccardo. It was some 30 pages he said, but now he tells us 'it would be more something like 50, even 60'. Hm. Okay. Only because we pity guys living on goat's milk and mountain herbs.
We publish it the old fashioned 19th century way: episodically.
Inside she takes off her shoes. Runs around, looking at the family pictures on the sideboard (“Cute.”), peeking into the kitchen- “There’s an Aga in here,” she shouts, as if he didn’t already know. Alice in Wonderland, he thinks. Last year Amber had to write a dissertation on Lewis Caroll, he’d helped her with it. “I like it. I’d never cook on one though. But they’re fine to look at. Blue, good taste. Marjorie’s choice, honey? Give her my compliments.”
Wildlife is the story of an ordinary family in which everyone decides to escape. Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses his job, too proud to admit his own mistakes, he leaves his family overnight to fight mountain fires. Jeanette (Carey Mulligan), in the face of another disappointment within her own life, gets involved in an affair with an elderly man. Only temporarily finding her old spirit of a cheerful young girl, now only a shadow appearing on her tired face.
Those of you not from Belgium would be forgiven for wondering “who on earth is Wim Delvoye?”, those from Belgium probably wouldn’t.
You see, Wim Delvoye is somewhat of a living legend within the Belgian art community. Known for his neo-conceptual and often shocking works, he blurs the lines between what is considered beautiful and what is considered disgusting, in other words, you can’t help but stare. Probably his most notable, and, certainly his most controversial work is undoubtedly the tattooing of live pigs. The tattoos themselves range from the mundane and humorous to the beautiful and downright weird, giving critics and the media alike a field day of animal rights issues and social statements.
As well as blurring the lines of our modern standards beauty, he often blurs that ever so fine line between artist and art director, with the majority of his work since the early nineties having been executed by others under his creative direction.
There are few art forms that truly resonate with the general public more than fashion. The intrinsic link between style and our human desire for beauty creates an almost god-like persona around those who can forge jaw-dropping garments. Most of us mere mortals find an almost unsurpassable level of difficulty in selecting a shirt and a pair of jeans that truly “go together”. Perhaps this is why we consider those who can make these unimaginable decisions to be cultural icons, - few more so than Christian Dior.
Highlights of his game-changing 1947 first collection Corelle, now known as “ The New Look”, can be seen at the V&A’s latest exhibition: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.
We open our columns to talented new voices, who can send in (short) stories.
The first one is a short story by Eduardo Riccardo. It was some 30 pages he said, but now he tells us 'it would be more something like 50, even 60'. Hm. Okay. Only because it's a damn good one. And because we pity guys living on goat's milk and mountain herbs.
We publish it the old fashioned 19th century way: episodically.
“Well, come on, get on with it. Tell me how I’ll avoid Purgatory. Don’t want to simmer for a billion years. I don’t even know how to turn off a gas stove, for God’s sake.” “There’s venial sins and mortal sins,” he says. “Point is to avoid the mortal ones.” Neglecting the no smoking sign she lights another cigarette. “Three elements constitute a mortal sin: grave matter, full awareness, deliberate consent.” He still knows them by heart. Once, taking part in the Grand Conspiracy, against Betty whose parents ran the village pharmacy, he had skipped Wednesday afternoon’s catechism hour. Sister Alicia had made a lot of fuss about it.
“The essence of fiction is solitary work: the work of writing, the work of reading,” Jonathan Franzen wrote in 2002 in his essay Why Bother?. Can’t agree more. Although please add ‘painting’ too. Reading, like writing, is creating, says Franzen. That’s what distinguishes it, for example, from going to a movie. Jonathan Franzen: “I’m able to know Sophie Bentwood (the main character in Paula Fox’s novel Desperate Characters) intimately, and to refer to her as casually as I would to a good friend, because I poured my own feelings of fear and estrangement into my construction of her (my italics).” ‘My construction’, while reading. So, basically, reading is indeed a creative act. If Franzen would have only known her by the on screen version, in 1971 with Shirley MacLaine as Sophie, “Sophie would remain an Other, divided from me by the screen, by the superficiality of film, and by MacLaine’s star presence. At most, I might feel I knew MacLaine a little better.” (Knowing MacLaine a little better, however, is what the country mainly wants, Franzen adds.)
One-liners. They’d better be good, otherwise they’ve got no reason to exist at all. I mean – in a short story, if a weak sentence is lucky it might go unnoticed, or be saved by his big brother standing next to him. Not so much when you’re a one-liner. Then they give you a gun and a push in the back, you climb out of the trench, and off you go: dashing fearless into the open arms of the enemy.
So when you’re called ‘Queen of the One-liner’, you’re supposed to be damn good. Now that’s exactly where Jenny Holzer’s shoe pinches. Bilbao’s Guggenheim is honouring her nowadays with a big exhibition, called 'Thing Indescribable', showing work from her early years – the 70s – next to some more recent stuff.
At the end of the 70s Holzer used the NY streets as her canvas – this she had in common with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Her first public work being the truisms, anonymous one-liners printed on A4 and glued to Manhattan’s walls.
Now, let’s admit right from the start: lots of them aren’t high-fliers at all. For instance: ‘Your oldest fears are the worst ones.’ Or ‘Technology will make or break us.’ Okay. Can someone serve me another cup of tea, before i start dozing off?
Disney has recruited James Gunn anew, to direct the movie Guardians of the Galaxy 3. He was fired because inexcusable old tweets resurfaced containing jokes about paedophilia and rape. Bradley Cooper and Zoe Zaldana, stars in the first two Guardians movies, had expressed their support for Gunn, and so, the Disney bobo’s changed their mind.
If someone asked you to name your favourite thing to come out of Argentina what would you say? Tango? Football? Second World War conspiracy theories, perhaps? I, for one, am ashamed to say I wouldn’t have said art. This is a real shame as they are actually the founders of one of the worlds most ambitious Global Art events.
The International Contemporary Art Biennial of South America, or Bienalsur for short aims to link countries and cultures from around the world using our biggest questions: How do we view gender? How can we evenly distribute this planet’s finite resources? Is there a problem with mass migration? - Who knows? Art may not be the solution but talking about a problem is the first step in solving it.
We open our columns to talented new voices, who can send in (short) stories.
The first one is a short story by Eduardo Riccardo. It's some 30 pages. We publish it in the old fashioned 19th century style: episodically. Here's part 3!
After they’ve been served she tells him what remarkable features the boy had. Not exactly a face to be launched for direct commercial purposes; the agency would put him on at fashion shows. A world not entirely unknown to him, as his mother was a fashion designer. His father, a lawyer, was absent most of the time; the kid was in need of a strong hand in his life, someone to guide him. They had a couple of great weeks, then everything went awfully wrong. One morning he suddenly refused to get out of bed. He hated this fashion business, he said, he hated commercial departments, he hated sales altogether; all things considered, it was telling lies to get people to buy stuff they didn’t really need. He started eating vegan. While they always had such a great time at Mama Kelly’s. “Do you know Mama Kelly?” Eyes wide, suddenly. Northern lakes. “Not personally,” he says. He’s never heard of the place. “They’ve got marvellous chicken. Mar-ve-llous, really.” She stares at her hands, breathing in deeply, pulling her skirt straight. She looks as if she’s ready to massacre a whole chicken coop. She takes a napkin out of the holder, wipes her fingers.
“Most are afraid of total freedom, of nothingness, of life. You try to control everything, but nature is uncontrollable. It doesn’t matter how you express yourself (words, image, electric guitar), what matters is that you have something to express.” - (Steven Parrino, The No Texts, 2003, p. 34)
Nobody sums up the truths of this world like a properly nihilist punk. Nobody can be called a properly nihilist punk more than Steven Parrino.
Dying tragically in 2005 Parrino had already made a name of himself as a punk modernist painter. His work is stunningly raw and barbaric, full of emotion that channelled straight from the beating heart of the punk movement and its many subcultures.
I learned to cycle when I was around ten years old, I don’t quite remember the time, it’s vague and mostly vanished. Instead, I fill the memory with my own creations that probably never happened, or, are a misunderstanding of my own conception:
My cousin would come to our house in the village during summer breaks, and he always had his bike with him. I begged him to let me give it a go, but, in my family, I was the smallest of five sisters and I wasn’t preferred by most. So he always said no and played with my sisters instead. (Except once, when he gave me the bike and I fell, because of course I didn’t know how to ride it. After a good laugh he said: “that was the reason I didn’t want to give you the bike”.) Then they would go upstairs where my mom had prepared lunch for everyone. Since I was small and mostly dwelled in my books I was rarely seen at family gatherings, so my mum would always reserve a plate for me. My soul longed for freedom, and that freedom could only be provided by that bike. So I had to learn. When I could hear their laughs from upstairs, I snuck out, took the bike, and tried with all of my heart to ride.
I think coincidence – some might prefer to call it ‘fate’ - is strongly underrated. When i look back into my own past, i find at least four occasions which could have ended tragically if not fatally. When i was 6 we visited the Han grottoes, on a school trip. Coming out of the grotto a huge piece of rock, some 50 kilos, came down, missing me by an inch or two. Nobody had even seen it. A schoolteacher turned around, shouting, “Hurry up now boy, or you’ll miss the bus.” I’d almost missed my life.
Sixteen years later we had been painting the walls all day in the youth club i ran. It was almost night, we were exhausted, we were going to have a last drink in the pub some hundred meters down the street. For one reason or another i had to shut down the electricity. My friends were already waiting outside, the lights were out. My hands were wet, i had washed them. In the dark, i was stupid enough to go into the electricity closet. It was an old style handle. I grabbed it. It shot up my shoulder. When i came out of the door, someone asked where i’d been so long. “I’ve had a near death experience” wasn’t exactly the answer they’d expected.
Fate. Another 10 years later i run out of my office to go and have a sandwich. I’m in a dreamy mood (that’s no news: i often am when walking the streets. Actually, strike out ‘walking the streets’). I hear a loud TING TING TING.
We open our columns to talented new voices, who can send in (short) stories. We’ll publish them in episodes.
The first one is a short story by Eduardo Riccardo. It’s some 30 pages. Here’s part 2!
Now acouple of readers asked us: who is this writer, this Riccardo? Where does he live? And, can we buy his book? Well, dear friends, there are a lot of things we can’t give away – the guy doesn’t want his front door under siege you know… -, but we can tell you this: the great Eduardo Riccardo resides in a mountain cabin somewhere in the North of Spain, living on a diet of goat’s milk and herbs. It stimulates the brain he says, and he’s not going to change it until the Nobel Prize committee knocks down his cabin door. Or at least the Booker guys. In meantime he offers this exciting story exclusively to our readers. (Part 2.)
A week later there’s a Peter Lindbergh exhibition in the Rotterdam Kunsthal. Pictures of models - Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista. Vogue and Harper’s Bazar. She asks if he’d like to go with her. It’s one of the first mild days of the year. Early lilacs bloom.
Let me, for a second, unashamedly talk about myself. While I might be young, impressionable, and generally a bit of a loose cannon, I was not brought up on the “mean streets”. In fact, far from it.
I grew up in a small cluster of buildings, near a small village, near a slightly larger village, near a small town that is relatively close to a mid-sized city that some of you may have heard of. While not rich financially, my family was rich in culture. I grew up with a pre-raphaelite painting on my bedroom wall, over dinner I was told stories of the ancient gods (one of whom lent me his name), and I was sheltered from the systemic onslaught of advertising via a lack of television until my mid-teens.
There are very few downsides to being brought up around art and culture; however, if I have to really search for one it would be that after a while nothing really grabs your eye anymore. That brings me to the feelings of joy, longing, pain, and jealousy that I feel every time I see someone in a nice (and I mean really nice) pair of trainers.
Sometimes it’s the first sentence that does the trick. In ‘The Only Story’ (2018), a novel by Julian Barnes, it goes like this: “Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.” There you sit, in your cosy rocker, ready to take the first sip of a hot cinnamon tea. If you thought you were off for an evening of lazy reading, forget it, because by bedtime the worrying will be knee-high.
It’s a classic Barnes novel, so you simply know that if you start reading it, then you’ll read until the last page, without being able to let in more than the occasional interruption (eat, drink, sleep). Moreover, especially in this one, you’ll be heading to a rather wry conclusion. There are indeed a lot of barbs to be encountered while reading ‘The Only Story’.
A young schoolboy, Paul Casey, falls head over heels in love with his much older tennis partner Susan. To make things worse she happens to be married. Disillusion is what’s leering around the corner: “It seemed to me evident that love and truth were connected; indeed, as I may have said, that to live in love is to live in truth.” soon becomes: “I have seen too many examples of lovers who, far from living in truth, dwelt in some fantasy land where self-delusion and self-aggrandizement reigned, with reality nowhere to be found.” Bugger.
If you’ve never seen these words in all of your life, you’ve never been to hell. Good boy. Or girl. But hey - what hasn’t been is yet to come. So, as a matter of preparation, you might be curious to know about how things evolve down there.
Fortunately, we’ve got Dante. He’s been there and wrote a book about it: La Divina Commedia. Been there - well… passing through, that is, on his way to his beloved Beatrice, who was waiting for him in Heaven. And as the way to heaven, at least in those old days, happened to be leading through hell he didn’t have much of a choice. Yes: true love conquers all, but - he was in fine company: as you can see in the marvelous accompanying painting (1850) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (pic 1), Virgil, the Roman poet, was guiding him.
We all know that it takes two to tango; in Buenos Aires, Argentina, it takes two weeks. From the 8th to the 21st of August this year the International Tango Festival and World Cup will play host to two weeks of workshops, performances, and, of course, competitions, all revolving around the mystic art of tango. Buenos Aires is the only real location that this festival of frivolity could be held; after all, they invented it.
Of course, there cannot be a launch without a launching present… And what better present could you imagine than this - ‘Girl’, by Hans Defer? We featured this picture at our May 16th ‘the Lady vanishes’ event (pic 2), and what an amazing image it is! In fact, it has everything to become iconic, no?
Now, this piece can be signed by the artist and in your living room by next week. In collaboration with the artist, we offer it FOR FREE to the first 25 of you subscribing to this blog.
The only thing you’ve got to do is leave your mail address in the left upper corner, and send us a mail (info@UntitledXXI.com) with this word: ‘Girl’.
Moreover, by filling out your mail address you'll get access to the exclusive part of our site. At this very moment there's already a special promotion going on: our readers enjoy a spectacular reduction on a 2014 painting by Patrick Vertenten: have a look in the 'Framed' section.
Now, this is brilliant news, my friends: Beto O’Rourke, serious candidate for the Democrate Presidency nomination, was a member of the punk band Foss.
We’re finally taking over the asylum, my friends! Our mate Beto O’Rourke, the lead guitarist for the punk band Foss, is running for Presidency. Great - of course, we’ll all vote for him (eat your heart out Zuckerberg). Even more so now we know he was one of the first eighties hackers, carrying the hackers handle (codename) psychedelic warlord, under which he wrote a rather anarchistic inspired treatise about a society without money.
The Hague, a bar. The westerly gale they’d announced was breaking, rain gushing against the large front windows, people in the back leaving their seats to have a look. He was sitting at the counter, alone, devoting his attention to the menu written on a blackboard against the wall; he was narrowing his eyes. It had been the way she said it. “Nothing to see. It’s only water.” As if it was an important statement, somehow, and she was waiting for his point of view on the matter; a point of view she expected him to give, but wouldn’t interest her at all. She had bumped against his arm, it could have been undeliberate. At first he refused to pay attention to it, almost having decoded two of the main courses, but there had been this husky, distracting tinge in her voice. “The cigar-club,” she added, the moment he turned around, as if there was a connection, somehow, with the rain pouring down. She pointed towards the rear; a group of women, maybe six or seven, sitting in Chesterfields; one of them waving in her direction. “Don’t pay attention to her,” she said, “she’s crazy.” “Do you happen to have any matches?”
Any film lover or petty criminal will tell you that the best robberies are always an inside job. Whether it’s a crooked guard, a revenge-fueled ex-partner, or, in this case, something a little different, no heist is complete without a man on the inside.
Flashback to the warm fuzzy memory of 1989. Bob Geldof has solved world hunger, your childhood heroes have yet to become morally corrupt monsters, and a young Kurt Cobain is wondering if his life will ever really go anywhere special. It’s the perfect year for the Tate Gallery to show one of Joseph Beuys’ legendary felt suits.
In the same way bands often sell replica guitars from iconic gigs, the charismatic performance artist Joseph Beuys often sold replica felt suits from his iconic performances (although he, of course, claimed this was all part of his art).
Agoraphobia is an emotionally-immersive, long-term project which explores the domestic intimacy in the world of a woman with whom I am most deeply connected: my granny, now aged ninety-four, who suffers from agoraphobia and thus has been confined to her flat for over ten years.
I’ve always called my grandmother Wanda, although that is only a nickname and her real name is Morgantina, a rather unusual Italian name, probably originating from a Greek colony in Sicily. I am particularly attached to Wanda as she has been a source of unconditional love and support throughout my entire life.
When i had a look at Sarah Stefanutti’s pictures of her grandma (see preceding text), i thought instantly of Jacqui Kenny. She’s the woman behind the Instagram account ‘Streetview Portraits’. She’s highly agoraphobic too. She’s afraid to go out, so she travels without leaving her front door: she travels via Google Streetview.
What i like about her Streetview Portraits is that, through the eyes of Jacqui, functional images that were taken by the passing Google car become art. Look at her sense of composition, colour, her empathy filtering through.
Terrific news! Readers of our blog not only enjoy priority and extra’s on UntitledXXI’s events, but they also qualify to participate in our special offers! All you have to do is fill out your email address on the left. Once in a while, when something really important is on, we’ll send you a mail.
This month we put a painting by Patrick Vertenten in the spotlight. Patrick was one of the artists participating in our May 16th event (Instagram) - The Lady vanishes (Facebook). We put up Instagram posts about his work on April 28th as well as on March 27th. And on Facebook: April 29th and March 28th. Have a look at his fascinating work on @patrickvertenten and patrickvertenten.weebly.com.
The picture above is a recent work: 'Leaving Berlin', 2019.
Our readers enjoy a spectacular reduction on his 'The Consideration' (2014). Have a look inside.
1963 was a big year. It was the year US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech, Hurricane Flora took over the Caribbean, The Soviet Union launched the Vostok 6 spacecraft carrying Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to enter space, ZIP Codes were implemented in the US, and Beatlemania took over the world after the release of “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Meet the Beatles!” In the same year, an ordinary thirty-three-year-old man made a very simple film which went on to become "the greatest work of art produced in post-war Europe". That man is the auteur Jean-Luc Godard, and that film is none other than Le Mépris.
During the Victorian era parlour games were extremely popular among the upper and middle classes. Being a fervent visitor of different Paris salons, Marcel Proust, the author of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, has popularized such a game lending his name to it. It was believed that, by answering a list of some 40 questions, a person revealed their true nature. An original manuscript of his answers, of 1890, was auctioned in 2003 for the sum of 102.000 euros.
The ‘Proust Questionnaire’ inspired us to this short ‘5 minute version’ of the game. Some of our questions, btw, weren’t listed on the Proust one.
Today’s episode: Patrick Vertenten, Belgian painter living in Sint-Niklaas (@patrickvertenten - patrickvertenten.weebly.com). We've got a special offer running, by the way, in our exclusive section.Have a look at 'The Consideration'in our 'Framed' category.