In 1999 Mark Leckey released his video-montage FIORUCCI MADE ME HARDCORE, a dreamscape vignette that communes with the rapturous promises of youth. Putting archive material to uncanny use, Leckey entwined purloined footage of underground dance and street culture in Britain with sampled and recorded audio. Completed on the eve of mass online file-sharing, FIORUCCI MADE ME HARDCORE is ingrained with memories of subcultures, fleeting, rare, and precious.
In his print study of the work—a recent publication in the Afterall Books: One Work series—Mitch Speed “argues that by interweaving personal and collective memory, FIORUCCI MADE ME HARDCOREgives voice to class and cultural transformation during the Thatcherite era. Oscillating between local and expansive resonances, it manifests as an homage, a love letter and an incantation.”
I came upon the word transmissions while thinking about how the ethereal, corporeal, and technical dimensions of ballet resonate in the artworks and souvenirs it produces. Transmissions are subject to interference and interruption. Ballets are conveyed to us through mediations, anecdotes, and bodies. And often when I’m watching ballet in its contemporary manifestations, I wonder how these transmissions have occurred.
I started looking into the history of ballet in the twentieth century… Through a web of genealogies, I eventually arrived at the flamboyant intersection of ballet and art in New York, beginning in the 1930s. There the avant-garde experiments of the previous decades in Europe incited a particularly intense cross-contamination, an overt articulation of homosexual erotics long before the emergence of a public language around queerness. Looking at modern American art of this period through the prism of ballet reveals a tangle of interrelationships, collaborations, derivations, and hybrid aesthetic programs that still feel surprisingly contemporary. — Nick Mauss*
Two years after the close of TRANSMISSIONS—Nick Mauss’ multimedia installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art—the museum and Dancing Foxes Press have published an exhibition catalog that beautifully extends the show, combining performance and exhibition images from the Whitney with an extensive selection of new illustrative and textual documentation.
I drew multiple webs of interrelationships, elective affinities, and echo waves of influence, focusing as much on the social, professional, sexual, and collaborative points of contact as on transhistorical resonances that were in some cases perhaps fantasy—eschewing standard mappings of modern art… [embracing] anachrony and distortion over apparent objectivity…
My decision to insist on ballet as the fulcrum in TRANSMISSIONS was also a response to the ubiquity of postmodern dance derivations within the contemporary museum environment and the reductive version of modernity that these prequalified dance idioms signify and cement. Contemporaneity is reduced to a “look” of modernity. Modernist ballets make for engaging historical documents precisely because their own relationship to history is a kind of suspension of disbelief; they are intrinsically modernist, even if they don’t “signal” modernity to contemporary eyes.— Nick Mauss*
The world of the spectator, the receiver, was a primary lens through which I constructed TRANSMISSIONS, and the flux of the exhibition’s daily audience over the course of two months took on a central role within it. This book is similarly directed at the wholly different—private, rather than social—negotiations of the reader. — Nick Mauss*
There are different needs in the fashion world and I’m not sure I can feed them… I don’t like the idea of being a celebrity; anonymity is very important to me… I pushed myself constantly to extremes. I always wanted to have my name linked to the product I created, not to the face I have. — Martin Margiela*
Martin Margiela began his career as an assistant to Jean Paul Gaultier and was the creative director at Hermès from 1997 to 2003. He and business partner Jenny Meirens opened Maison Martin Margiela in 1989, and for the next twenty years—through 41 collections—revolutionized fashion.
Margiela left the fashion world in 2008. Ten year later, Reiner Holzemer—director of an acclaimed 2017 documentary about Dries Van Noten—persuaded the designer to commit, on audiotape, a reflection of his archive and legacy. The resulting film—MARTIN MARGIELA—INHIS OWN WORDS, featuring on camera interviews with Gaultier, Cathy Horyn, Olivier Saillard, Carine Roitfeld and others—premiered last year at Doc NYC and is available for streaming now.
Last night, longtime collaborators Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan joined FilmIndependent artistic director Jacqueline Lyanga at the ArclightHollywood following a screening of GREED, Winterbottom’s new satire.
The film follows the money and the clothes as a London-based mogul builds a fast-fashion empire on the backs of overseas workers, working elaborate (but legal) self-enrichment schemes by stripping his companies of their assets just before filing for bankruptcy. To celebrate (and distract competitors), he hosts an over-the-top party in Greece.
In a filmmaker’s letter, Winterbottom explains GREED’s genesis and what he hopes audiences will take away from the experience:
In 2016, Britain’s most famous and flamboyant retailer—Sir Philip Green, owner of Topshop and Topman—was hauled before the House of Commons select committee and quizzed about his business practices. That was the starting point for making GREED.
Retail fashion is a huge industry, which employs tens of millions of workers in low wage economies like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam—the vast majority of them women.
The brands are owned by some of the richest men in the world. Stefan Persson, the owner of H&M, is worth about $20 billion; Amancio Ortega, the owner of Zara, is worth more than $60 billion.
GREED is a fiction, a satire on the world of Sir Richard McCreadie [played by Steve Coogan], a retail fashion tycoon, the “King of the High Street.” His reputation has suffered a blow as one of his brands has gone bankrupt. He has been hauled over the coals by the Select Committee of the House of Commons and they are threatening to take away his Knighthood.
So he decides to throw a lavish, Roman-themed party on the Greek island of Mykonos, and invite his celebrity friends. But it all goes horribly wrong.
One of the attractions, and challenges, of making the film was to show the real connections between the billionaire relaxing on his super yacht in Monaco and the women we filmed with in Sri Lanka, who are being paid $5.30 a day making clothes for international brands, and living in accommodations with no running water. They seem to live in different worlds, but they are in fact intimately connected, as the clothes that these women make have created the wealth of Sir Rich and his real world counterparts.
Ihope our film is funny, and I hope you enjoy it, but I also hope it makes you angry. No matter how ludicrous our fictional world is, it pales in comparison to the real world. When we walk into a high street store we see images of powerful, beautiful people endorsing the brand, or modeling the clothes. We aspire to be like them, and we think of them when we buy the t-shirt or the dress, when really we should be thinking of the women who have made our clothes and the lives they lead. The world doesn’t need to be like this. We can change things. Doubling the wages of women garment workers would hardly make any difference to the price of the clothes in our local store—so why don’t we do something about it? — Michael Winterbottom