Studio visits and commissions from visionary talents, with insider coverage of the art calendar’s premier events

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April 25, 2014

Jo Ratcliffe: M. Zoe Trope

Digital Duplicates March to the Beat in the Pop Creative's Animated Artwork

A vampish troupe of doppelgängers marches in militant cycles in an animated reconstruction of London artist Jo Ratcliffe’s 3D installation, M. Zoe Trope. Reimagined by Klaas-Harm de Boer of Amsterdam-based animators Watermelon, the video artwork’s ethereal soundtrack comes courtesy of Icelandic trio Samaris’ track “Tíbrá.” “There was a photo in Vogue Italia which I constantly referred to,” says Ratcliffe of the inspiration behind her characters’ hyper-stylized look. “Also Tilda Swinton in the Wes Anderson film Grand Budapest Hotel, and the aliens from Mars Attacks.” The film is a playful take on the zoetrope, the optical device that was popular in Victorian England, and is based on a physical work premiered at contemporary graphic art fair Pick Me Up that starts today at at London’s Somerset House. “It was an unusual process for everyone—you can't call up a zoetrope maker. Well, we tried, but they were busy,” says the multi-talented London-based artist, whose kaleidoscopic animations include creative reinterpretations of Kate Moss and Lily Cole, and who recently lent her expertly scrawled handwriting to Lady Gaga’s video for “Applause.”

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Cécile B. Evans: Made With Minds

The Rising Artist Captures South London's Bold Venice Statement in a Psychedelic Video Work

Baldessari-like shapes of color float into view in Made With Minds, a surreal new film by Cécile B. Evans. The Belgian-American artist uses the Palazzo Peckham, an innovative gallery space which popped up during this year’s 55th Venice Biennale, as an unearthly backdrop for one of her first forays into video art. The former boatyard and current warehouse on the edge of the floating city was transformed into a grungy hub for a host of South London artists. Today’s film features some of their work, such as a salon filled with real-life palm trees erupting through skylights from Rob Chavasse, a psychedelic lobby created by Jon Rafman and pieces by Dora Budor, Samara Scott, Victor Timofeev and Amy Petra Woodward. “We didn’t want to base it on ordinary gallery models,” explains Lucky PDF’s Ollie Hogan of the space he created with gallerist Hannah Barry. “The style of the work emerging in Peckham is very much art for social environments, which is democratizing practices and creating conversations between people and networks.” Inspired here by the tension between idealism and failure inherent in propaganda films while also reflecting on the digital art she is known for, Evans has previously exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Art Basel, Miami, and last year received the 2012 Emdash Award, Frieze Art Fair’s annual prize for emerging artists. 

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Robert Longo: Man in the City

The New York Artist Looks Back at Three Decades of Icon-Making

“I was one of those guys that got blamed for the 80s,” muses Robert Longo from his NY studio in the latest instalment of director Matt Black’s Reflections series. After the 1977 Pictures show at Artists Space in Manhattan made his Hollywood cinema-inspired enamelled aluminium reliefs famous, Longo went on to become one of the most collected, exhibited and talked about artists of the early 1980s, most widely known for the suit-and-tie wearing charcoal-drawn silhouettes dancing in his “Men in the Cities” series. “He’s somebody who created a strong image very early in his career,” notes NOWNESS regular Black of the works that have come to permeate image-making. “He told me that once, he was at the Met, and a little girl pointed at one of his works and said, ‘Oh, that’s an Apple commercial.’ At that point, Longo realized he didn’t own the image anymore—it was a part of visual culture.” The husband of German actress Barbara Zukowa has moonlighted as a filmmaker, making music videos for New Order and R.E.M., and the cyberpunk feature Johnny Mnemonic, starring Keanu Reeves. But despite the vast body of multimedia output that has canonized him alongside late 20th-century greats like Cindy Sherman, his preferred medium is still charcoal. Producing large-format, hyperreal black-and-white drawings, Longo seems to reproduce the visions of horror and beauty ingrained in our collective psyche, from atom bomb explosions and shark attacks to the unfolding petals of a rose. “It’s exciting that he came back to the scene with this totally new body of work in the 2000s,” says Black. “He captures our time by capturing its images.”

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