THE TOTAL VOMITORIUM—an exhibition by Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin featuring the durational 4-channel video Vomitorium 720°—is now on view in Luma Westbau’s Schwarzescafé.
(An earlier iteration of Vomitorium—closed at the start of the pandemic—was at Queenslab, The Kitchen’s partner venue in Ridgewood, New York.)
Organized by Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen, the show is a “tragicomic reenactment of the history of meta-theater from religious ritual to live-streaming, Zoom, and Twitch. The artists transition between multiple genres, genders, ages, tropes, eras, and personae, with Bernstein playing Onkos, the Greek mask of tragedy, and Rubin playing multiple versions of Eros. They play-through arcane and new modes of performance documentation from Classical diagrams to Victorian photo journals, as well as the parallel domestication of Eros into Cupid.”*
The vomitorium is traced from its origin as a passageway in amphitheaters to the current socially reflexive architecture built for Instagram selfie-stories—comparing the way audiences watch each other watching each other binging and purging media. The impossible wish for a 360-degree perspective is shown to mark both panoptic social media and counter-surveillance tactics; normative and queer gazes. Played on four unconnected screens, Vomitorium is inlaid by Baroque frames—juxtaposing maximalist convolution with the fashionable metaphysics of presence and transparency. Virtually real versions of Vomitorium will be simultaneously made available on the new media app Ortvi.*
It’s great to be a provocateur. That’s what the world needs, this provocation. It stimulates thought and it stimulates ideas. It stimulates all kinds of conversations that don’t really have anything to do with the man himself. And who cares about the man himself? We’re looking at his art. — Charlotte Rampling
He was a little bit pervert, but so am I so it’s okay. — Grace Jones
I do consider myself a feminist, but I do consider the expression of machismo as an expression of a culture. Now, of course, Helmet wasn’t simply macho—it was more complicated than that—but he does look at a woman as a sexual object, and also an attraction and an anger toward her… It was actually extraordinary that Helmut was accepted by the industry because he was much more dangerous—much more ambiguous and frightening—than an Avedon or a Penn… Helmut photographed women the way Leni Riefenstahl photographed men. — Isabella Rossellini
Susan Sontag: As a woman, I find your photos very misogynist. For me it’s very unpleasant.
Bernard Pivot: You find him unpleasant?
Sontag: Yes. Not the man, the work… I never thought the man would look like the work. To the contrary. Even if you live through your work, you can be nice. I don’t expect a person to look like their work. Especially when it’s about fantasies and dreams.
Helmut Newton: I love women. There is nothing I love more.
Sontag: A lot of misogynist men say that. I am not impressed.
Newton: I swear—
Sontag: I’m sorry, I don’t think this is the truth. There’s an objective truth. The master adores his slave. The executioner loves his victim. A lot of misogynist men say they love women, but show them in a humiliating way.
Helmut actually loved strong women. — Nadja Auermann
When you’re 20 years old, 1.80 meters tall with blonde hair, you feel like a hunted deer. And HelmutNewton’s pictures made me stronger. I controlled the situation. I wasn’t the deer. I was equal to the hunter. I could decide what to do. I think a lot of people misunderstood that. — Sylvia Gobbel
I was very shy; I’d just turned 17. There was never a moment where I felt uncomfortable. I was just an amazing experience where I walked away saying, “This man is incredible.” He had a sort of twinkle in his eye—nothing serious, everything understated and very witty… Definitely, when I look at the pictures, it’s not me. It’s his imagination… I love the fact that I can be this different, through his lens.— Claudia Schiffer
I think he was Weimar. That’s how I think of him—connected to Brecht and Weill and George Grosz, that wonderful period of German Expressionism—that was Helmut. — Marianne Faithfull
Berlin for him was the very best of the Weimar Republic. Everything is possible, everything is allowed… What he liked about me was my guttersnipe style. I was not the usual elegant glamorous woman, but rather I had a portion of originality that comes from the lower classes of society. I suppose he also really like the eroticism of maids… It’s related to this Berlin period. — Hanna Schygulla
I loved my parents, they were great—very different influence on me. My mother was a very spoiled woman and quite hysterical in many ways, but pretty wonderful. And she encouraged me very much to become a photographer. My father was horrified by the idea. “You take pictures on the weekend for a hobby, my boy. You’ll end up in the gutter, my boy.” He was right, I did. But I had a good time in the gutter. — Helmut Newton*
The aesthetic of Helmut Newton—whose era is more distant from us now than the inspirational Weimar years were to Newton’s 1970s heyday—still provokes and intrigues, even in our less frivolous times.
In the excellent new documentary feature HELMUT NEWTON—THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL—now streaming on Kino Lorber’s Kino Marquee—filmmaker Gero von Boehm captures the great photographer’s obsession with the female form pushed to the edge of submission or absolute triumph.
*Quotations and dialog from Gero von Boehm, Helmut Newton—The Bad and the Beautiful, courtesy of the filmmaker, Kino Lorber, and Nadja Auermann, Marianne Faithfull, Sylvia Gobbel, Grace Jones, Charlotte Rampling, Isabella Rossellini, Claudia Schiffer, and Hanna Schygulla. Susan Sontag segment originally from Apostrophes, 1979.
The Hammer Museum and Clockshop present the livestream premiere of Carmen Argote’s new short film LASTLIGHT, followed by a Q & A with the artist and the museum’s associate curator Erin Christovale.
Shot during the first wave of the pandemic, LAST LIGHT is a meditation on walking and memory in Los Angeles. Argote describes her walking habit as synonymous with thinking, a way of taking in and digesting the conditions of her environment. Through walking, the artist “deconstructs and reconstructs my ideas, thoughts, and self.” Combining video and still images of an evacuated city with an intimate voice-over, the narrator reflects on feelings of vulnerability and betrayal, and draws on childhood memories to make sense of a city transformed. Over the course of the piece, day moves to night as the artist traces a path from demolition and sickness to envisioning a different world.*
Also this week, the artist will launch her limited edition print BLOAT—a LACE edition guided by artist and printmaker Eric Gero—and join a conversation with LACE chief curator and director of programming Daniela Lieja Quintanar.