October 29, 2005

luego

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It's been like this.

Endless hours, pushed to limits, beads of sweat over dirt spattered skin.
It doesn't seem like this workload would ever have an end.
A house and contractors and details and surprises.
A studio dismantled and remantled, tons of wood from an overstructured crawlspace. (thousands of pounds at least... )

Ok.

...hundreds of pounds, a lot of them.


Physical limits reached, barely enough sleep, an endless juggle.
(But what else is new?)
You know the drill.

And then, we can suddenly see the other side of this settling in period.
Alley Oop.

We're moving into our house this week.

Soon, we will be back in the saddle,
regular blogging to resume, enhanced after all.

...once we get DSL.

Posted by Dennis at 3:07 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2005

Delerious

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After a lot of prep work, we finally dropped the absurdly over structured framing behind the drop ceiling. Blogging has been impossible lately...

It'll be a tough brutal finale (house and studio prep craziness), but we'll be back in the saddle very soon (a week or two) with normal blog volume restored for your surfing pleasure.

Posted by Dennis at 9:02 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2005

LA DriveBy

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...been crazy busy lately.... and I don't have high speed DSL setup yet...

Please Stand By.

Lots of catchup blooging to come.

Posted by Dennis at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2005

Alberto Pacifico

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Alberto and i went to the West side to see some art and get the young lad to the water's edge. He's been here a little over a week now... it's about time I guess.

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Lots to tell you all about...

...but things are a little tight right now. The blog sac's getting big, so you might be able to expect me to unload it when I get our situation a little more under control.

Stay tuned!

Posted by Dennis at 4:32 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2005

Mr. Maccabee

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Posted by Dennis at 9:26 AM | Comments (0)

Our Grand Chasublerie

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With the house repairs on automatic (the new floors have been installed and acclimating for a week before the sanding and finish sealant, and the bathroom tile guy is on for tomorrow), Alberto and I can get started on the studio. Underneath the nasty drop ceiling, there's a strange half floor/attic, which brings to mind Alfred Jarry's famous half floor Paris apartment*:


``Our Grand Chasublerie,'' as he called his half-story-high apartment, affecting Ubu's royal ``We,'' was best described by surrealist playwright Guillaume Apollinaire: ``This half-floor room was the reduction of an apartment in which its occupant was quite comfortable standing up. But being taller than he, I had to stoop. The bed was the reduction of a bed; that is to say, a mere pallet. The writing table was the reduction of a table, for Jarry wrote flat on his stomach on the floors. The furniture was the reduction of furniture -- there was only a bed. . . . On the mantel stood a large stone phallus . . . considerably larger than life size, always covered with a violet skullcap of velvet. . . .'' The statue was also, according to Jarry, ``a reduction.''

Stooping is a no-go, so this half floor has to... go.

Alberto and I are in the process of tearing it out.

Dirty, physical, sweaty work.

What else is new?

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A bigger picture.


*I enjoyed and will always remember Roger Shattuck's "The Banquet Years".

Posted by Dennis at 9:11 AM | Comments (0)

My butt is naturally hairless, by the way.

My wife is a design director for a major fashion manufacturer. She's a natural garmento in a way that's deep in her psyche. For example, I notice how she handles any piece of fabric (from a exotic purchase to one of my frayed t-shirts) with a special considered care, a behavior that rarely see in any one else. She's constantly soaking up information: shopping the world, picking up what the people around us are wearing, tearing magazines and of course, surfing the web.

Today, she showed me an interview with Tom Ford, noting that it is rare that something in the fashion information stream would have such depth. Ford is talking about the trajectory of our modernity-in-extermis, interesting stuff. So, via copy and paste, I hereby post a huge excerpt for your reading pleasure:

TF: I like to put things in social context. When we [Ford, photographer Steven Klein and W Creative Director Dennis Freedman] met to discuss this shoot, we talked about how certain things are so ingrained in our society. Like, for example, we live in a hairless society. There was a moment in time when if you were watching porn, or saw just any model or actor or man, there was hair?Burt Reynolds, for example, stretched out naked totally covered in hair. Men had mustaches. Men had chest hair. In today's world, all the guys are shaved, although gay men are going back to hair. We're living also in a very plastic moment where everything is manufactured and pumped up. If you look at SUVs, they look like station wagons that have been inflated. Breasts today look pumped up. Lips are pumped up. Butts are pumped up. What's happening culturally carries over onto the human form, and at the moment they're busty and big and pumped up.

W: Not all those little tabloid actresses.

TF: That's the opposite of it. One of the reasons we're so obsessed with thinness is that we've never been fatter. We're also living in a culture of extremes, with no middle ground. People are either purging or they're bingeing. So through these pictures I wanted to touch upon things like that.? I've always been about pansexuality. Whether I'm sleeping with girls or not at this point in my life, the clothes have often been androgynous, which is very much my standard of beauty.

W: So these pictures capture how you see today's world of beauty?

TF: We've become plastic, objectifying the human body. We're no longer animals. Women and men are so waxed and polished and buffed and shined up and manipulated. We don't age. We've got these weird lips that don't really look like lips. We've started to lose touch with what a real breast looks like; we've started to lose the animal side of our nature. It's time to somehow pull it back to something more human. We treat women almost like cars. It's happened over the last 25 years. When we were kids, it was lift and separate. Now, of course, Victoria's Secret pushes it all together.

W: You've always said that looking good requires work?polish and a certain fakeness.

TF: But I've also always talked about why the Seventies were such an important moment to me?because there was a relaxed quality; bodies looked real. I think it had to do with the fact that back then you really could have sex. We used to watch sitcoms where people had one-night stands all the time, and we grew up thinking that that was okay. Today we have a more perverse look at sexuality, but stylized and almost fake. If you watch a porn film today versus a porn film from the Seventies, there's something much sexier about the Seventies film because it's more natural. Today it's so stylized, sort of cartoonlike. But we're in a cartoonlike moment. I mean, think of Angelina Jolie's face. It looks like Lara Croft. She is exaggerated. Her lips are exaggerated. Our beauty standard today is cartoonlike, and it's artificial. So the idea of all these dolls [in the shoot], we're living in a world where there are humans who actually are just dolls. And the boys, are they dolls or are they human? They are in fact human, yet there are three of them so they're all the same and they look like dolls. The fact is that men are moving toward the same plastic beauty. And it's about me living in this world.

W: As someone entering the beauty arena, isn't this dangerous turf? You depict a frightening image of women, created in part by the beauty industry.

TF: I'm not criticizing. I'm just trying to make a comment to let people see where we are. Sometimes it's hard for us to see our own world. There's a surreal quality to a lot of things, just go to a dinner party and see a lot of 60-year-old women all stretched and pulled. There's real manipulation going on. Sometimes you have to exaggerate these things in order to make the point. So that was really the point of the photo shoot, not necessarily to say it's right or wrong or good or bad or we should do it or we shouldn't do it. But trying to show where we are.

W: These pictures look futuristic-creepy?not a celebration of beauty.

TF: We are futuristic; we're on the cusp of being able to manipulate humans genetically to grow into whatever we think looks good. The moment we can start manipulating genes, how long are our legs going to get? Beauty used to be all about cream and lotions, and now it's not. It's about Botox. It's about fillers. It's about mini facelifts. We've reached a level of manipulation. And then of course I'm portrayed as the one doing the manipulating?the polishing, buffing, shaping, which is what I do. It's just what we do. What the fashion industry does.

W: But as someone making a foray into the mainstream beauty arena with a very mainstream company, how do you think this vision will be perceived?

TF: First of all, we can get carried away worrying about the mainstream. Five years ago the mainstream was watching Sex and the City. It's HBO today, with nudity and profanity every other word. The word f--- is part of normal parlance at almost every level of society. I think we're in a weird spot in this country, where we think that mainstream means being dull and flat. But everyone in this country has access to the Internet. Everyone has access to porn and watches it, by the way. So I don't get this mainstream thing. And Est?e Lauder was at one point very, very innovative. Est?e herself was a very innovative woman.

I don't believe in pandering to the public. I've always tried to be very open about everything. Open about my personal life. Open about my sexuality. At Gucci we were about mass luxury, but I shaved a "G" into a girl's pubic hair.

W: In fashion you're selling an image, but at the end of the day, that dress is very understandable: I like it. I don't. It will flatter me. It won't. Therefore, isn't image even more important in beauty than in fashion?

TF: This wasn't meant to be a shoot about beauty in a commercial sense: Look at the Amber Nude image, blah, blah, blah, which is rockin' for Est?e Lauder. I've always thought that fashion has another meaning, because there are always sociological things happening that are pushing you to move in a certain way. The broader picture is more interesting.

W: Where would you like to see us go?

TF: I'd like to see something more natural. I'm all for Botox, collagen, cosmetic surgery. But I've been wondering, Why can we send a man to the moon but we can't make a breast look real? Then I encountered a girl the other day who had implants that really looked natural. She had nursed and her breasts changed, so she had it done, and her breasts looked just so amazing and so real. I'm all for manipulation to a certain extent, but I think it's very important not to deny the fact that we are animals. We need to look human.

W: With so much possible, do we become so fascinated by process that we overlook the result of too stretched, too busty, too everything?

TF: We're also insecure. You hear about something new you can do to yourself and you think, oh God, I need that. Insecurity was introduced by deodorant. We grew up watching all these deodorant commercials. This girl sweats, and, oh my God, it ruins her interview, and her whole life falls apart. She's got to have her antiperspirant. Now she doesn't sweat. Her life is great, and blah, blah, blah. It happens with each new thing that is available?I need a polish, a buff. It turns people into cars. I love cars, but I don't want to f--- my car.

W: So how are you going to fight the plasticized status quo through the Tom Ford beauty business?

TF: Just what I'm talking about. Images and products that help you look beautiful and polished, but not too polished. Look at the Amber Nude photo of Carolyn Murphy. I wanted to use the Est?e Lauder woman, but I wanted to change her a bit. She looked very uptight. She looked very retouched. I'm just saying that there are times in your life when you should look a little more sensual.

W: More sensual than when you're appearing in an Est?e Lauder ad?

TF: Well, those pictures can look a lot like a mom. I wanted to show a different side. She's got a bit more shine to her skin and she's not so matte. She is a little more human-looking.

W: You keep going back to the notion of real.

TF: Thousands and thousands of years of evolution have gone into making us attractive to each other and not to machines. We have to be careful that we don't start to look like machines and like we're made of plastic?even though I'm in bed with two plastic girls.

W: And how did you like them?

TF: They start to take on a certain presence. I think we were fascinated for the first 20 minutes but then?they weigh a ton and to drag one of those girls around took four people. Of course, they're made for sex. I think if you left that doll alone in a room with a different man for an hour, every man would have sex with it once. But I don't think they'd go back.

W: Let's talk about getting naked. Why did you do it?

TF: A couple of reasons. One is that I've had a little criticism for objectifying women and always taking their clothes off. I thought, Well, why shouldn't I take my clothes off? It seemed to make absolute sense. There I am, living in this world with dolls all day long, bathing and polishing and shining them up, and kind of looking like I'm in love with them. Well, of course I'm going to sleep with them. So A, it made sense for the story; B, I've never been freaked out or weird about sex.

W: You look pretty terrific?even unretouched.

TF: My butt is naturally hairless, by the way.

W: For the record.

TF: For the record.

W: And you have long maintained that everybody looks better naked. Yourself included?

TF: What I mean is that you can go to the gym and see a guy in the shower and think, Wow, great, I'd love to talk to him. Then he goes and sits down on a bench and puts on frightening shoes, a silver thumb ring and a bad suit. Being naked is the great equalizer; there are just less ways to screw up.

W: Do you fear anything?

TF: I fear a lot of things, but I don't fear this. There's an artistic side to fashion, and it should challenge. [Otherwise], everything will die.

W: That's the big picture. In a smaller picture, someone is funding your new venture, writing checks for X, Y and Z.

TF: If someone says to me, "Your contract is terminated," I'd say, "Fine, I don't care. It's not going to change my life." Of course, I'm in a wonderful position?that f--- you money that you always hear about. I believe in this. I'm not going to change who I am. You have to be true to whatever you are. As long as you're authentic, even if you're President Bush saying your thing, you're authentic being President Bush.

Posted by Dennis at 8:42 AM | Comments (0)

Admin/Mail Call/Bo

The Comments are still out of commission for the meantime, that's alright by me. I don't miss the insidiously neccessary despamming chores. People chime in via email (the address is to your left in the margin), and that's been working out fine.

The comment function will be restored soon enough, reliant as I am for the help of a good friend for this fix. I told him no worries, to do it as his own pace, and I meant it.

Meanwhile, a former student of mine*1, Bo (Bolivar I?iguez) writes in after we met incidentally at a restaurant (Allegria in SilverLake) recently. It seems I got a rise out of him from the OchreVille blog post.


Here's Bo:

seems i'm not the only one with a broken blog , your comment php thing is kaput . since i didn't find out until after i typed a comment for ochre ville , i though i'd email it instead , so as not to waste it ...

it was good to see you ,
welcome back to los ?ngeles

b

i dunno ... i like the scale of NY better - the 4 story brownstone scale . as i understand it , the average american consumes twice as much energy as its european coutnerpart , and the only obvious reason to me is LA-style zoning . that brownstone-bearing lot that accomodates 4 families in a more traditional city barely fits one home in LA . that means easily 4 times more street to service the same population , so that the walk to the corner store turns into the drive to the 711 four blocks away .

i was staying with a cousin last time i visited the old country*2 [ http://aniconic.org/journal/ec-dialup/page01.html ] . he lives in a residential neighborhood [ el paraiso ] developed in the sixties or so , yet i found the scale to be very pleasant (not at all like the contemporaneus san fernando valley) , with smallish lots and a reasonable negative to positive space ratio . i think i spotted like 4 corner shops (not a single parking lot) walking down the hill to the main street , where i found all the mass transit i could possibly need , which got me downtown and to the malec?n [http://malecon2000.org/malecon2000/ ] in about 15 min .

there was a primary school across the street from his house . basically a three story volume on the street and adequate open space beyond . the street it's on is a narrow residencial street that provides little parking and dead-ends in a cul-de-sac , yet there wasn't any of that typical LA school frenzy of cars picking up or dropping off students that reminds me of parking at the mall the week before xmas . it seems to me we make it more difficult than it needs to be .

*1 ...now an architect, working for a firm that designs low cost housing (?Muy bien, Tio!).

*2 Bo's was born in Ecuador

Posted by Dennis at 1:59 AM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2005

LA DriveBy

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This, the first in a series of shots taken on the road here in Los Angeles.

Posted by Dennis at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 7, 2005

Alberto in the House

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My friend from Tossa, Alberto has arrived here in LA. Alberto is a young artist who left art school in Barcelona and was considering his options. Over our time in Tossa, Alberto and I hung out a lot. I was grateful for the opportunity to talk to a young artist in Tossa, and Alberto likewise soaked up whatever info I could truck up for him about the artworld I knew.

Eventually, I hazarded the idea that while art school is wonderful and special... it is not altogether indispensible. Why not opt for the autodidactic approach and jet out to a metropolitain art community like New York, Los Angeles, London.... or Berlin?

Yea. Berlin.

That's where the action is. My maxim: and urban art world needs cheap rent to sustain emerging artists. Artists need time to gestate, and it's counterproductive to be on a treadmill, earning the ducets to pay high rents.

So, over time, we considered that it would be a great prelude for him to visit La for a month prior to his Berlin move. For one month, he could sleep over in my studio and meet my friends and see what I see, hear what I hear in Los Angeles.

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How wonderful for us both.

Posted by Dennis at 6:31 PM | Comments (0)

October 6, 2005

OchreVille

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We live (for now) in Ochreville.

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Stephanie's company provided us a place to live as we transistion into Los Angeles. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to demean the place. It's plush. It's very commodiius. It has all the amenities you need in the middle of a city like LA and then some; pool, gardens, gym, security, and proximity to a lot of the good stuff a city like LA has to offer.

It's just that it is so... ochre.

It's a Palazzo, the 21st century version. This is a question that I wrestled with so many years ago in crafting the Parallel City manifesto. How can we design human scaled urban environments without resorting to Disneyland tactics? Good intentions plagued by seemingly reflexive pastiche.

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The Grove, probably the best shopping center in LA, is a block away from our place.


For a city where everything is accessed by car, this proximity is an amazing circumstance for us. Remember, we've lived on the scruffy East side of town for many years. Income levels and apparant cultural sophistication gradiates from Malibu (high range) down to Santa Monica (mid range), then again from Beverly Hills (high range) down to West Hollywood/ Fairfax-Wilshire/ Larchmount (mid range) down to SilverLake (lower- hippy range) down to Echo Park (even lower hipster/gangster range), down to the seeming backstop of Downtown LA (a melange of ranges from the mid to the ultra druggy homeless bottom).

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Here, you can see the Palazzo on the left and the Grove to the right.

My initial critique of this place (the Grove aside the Palazzo) is the separation between private residences on one side of the street and (private) shopping on the other. They traveled toward the human scaled city of olde but they veered away when it came to the habitation part.

It's like the use of the backlot Hollywood "New York" set where the actor laconically strolls through the simulated streets, so worldweary. Why can't we integrate housing with commercial/retail? Maybe there's a legal limitation 'neath there somewhere? We need tort reform, badly. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that a shopping center is a contiguous private domain and that there is a problem in having a separate sub-private domain with housing mixed into the shopping experience. Maybe it's a linguistic/mental block: we can't bring ourselves to de-center a shopping center.. if you atomize a shopping center, you might lose the identity?

Ah, the difficult marvel of zoned cities.

Don't laugh at America, my EU friends, I think that the zoned city is the only pattern we all have- worldwide- for creating or extending the contemporary metropolitan fabric. That's the essence of my critique: that we need to create an alternative to the zoned city without creating a sugar glazed cutsey pastiche from memories of our ye-olde-historic cities. We all have the same problem. How can you do it (building the human scaled city) for real?

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Here's how we enter the ye-olde urbanity of the Grove. Through Nordstrom's.

(Don't get me wrong, I like Nordstrom's. They're customer service freaks. Gotta love that.)

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The interior "street" of the grove.

So, what can we do?

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Well, we can open up the street inside the Grove, connect and canalize the Palazzo with it. Then we can insert commercial architecture into the Palazzo and housing into the Grove.

Then there's that wonderful micro rail system*1 inside the Grove. Liberate it. Let it connect (Sunset/Melrose) upper and lower Fairfax (the tar pits and the cultural stuff associated with it -the County Museum) and to lil' Ethiopia further down South (a little block of Africa there).

We need (in LA and ultimately all zoned cities) an array of transit systems from independant autos to the Metrorail, to the bus system to cross community and intra community little guys to independant entreprenural jeepney gigs, all the way down to bikes and scooters. An array that spans and links several spheres of urban scale.

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(image source)
If I could score a decent grant somewhere, I'd love to commision a few Jeepney's to cruise up and down Sunset Boulevard (between SilverLake and Chinatown for example). That would be fun.

Yea.

Any supporters out there?


*1 Pues, That would be a.... trolly.

Posted by Dennis at 5:14 AM | Comments (0)

October 4, 2005

House

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The floor guys are coming in today to install the new floors. This, a deferred gratification since 1991.

Posted by Dennis at 6:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2005

TreeChopper

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Posted by Dennis at 2:29 AM | Comments (0)

Buchmann Galerie Berlin

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My gallery in K?ln has moved to Berlin and this is the weekend of its opening there. Andr? Buchmann has found a space near Checkpoint Charlie, a great location, an ultimate margin... the very urban condition of Berlin itself.

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All the shots here were shot on my flythrough visit as I returned from my show in Haarlem. This pic, a view out the gallery door.

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I had arrived on the same day Andr? and his crew did. They were unloading and opening up their cargo, elements of a gallery's innards.

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Hands akimbo, what to do first, second and third?

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Where's the local hardware store?

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Where can we get coffee?

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A great change. A new city, a new place to live, an enlargement of community.

First up:

DANIEL BUREN
voir se voir savoir
28. September - 12. November 20

Posted by Dennis at 2:26 AM | Comments (0)