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August 3, 2014

A Summer at Hotel Oracle

San Francisco's Fraenkel Gallery Plays Host to Jason Fulford's Phantom Hotel

Before Wes Anderson’s spa town auberge The Grand Budapest Hotel there was Jason Fulford’s equally fictitious Hotel Oracle, made manifest in last year’s eponymous book. This summer, a series taken from the cerebral yet playful photographer's project is exhibited alongside Viviane Sassen in a group show at San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery. Inspired by the symbolism of Greek mythology during a trip to Crete (namely the cave where Zeus was born), the collection zooms in on dreamy objects and quotidian scenes captured in far-flung locations such as the Czech Republic, South Korea and Japan. “A photograph is pretty ambiguous. It changes or is given meaning based on what you put around it, and if you know the story,” explains Fulford, a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow. Recounting one of the most extraordinary experiences during his odyssey, he says: “I met a real-life oracle in Bermuda. He had a waterfall you could turn on and off with a switch, underground tunnels, and an impressive track record for predicting the future.” A cult figure in the indie publishing world for books such as Raising Frogs for $ $ $ and The Mushroom Collector, here the East Coast native shares his summer reading list and his favorite (non-fictional) hotel.

What do you think the Ancient Greeks would go for in our modern world? 
Jason Fulford:
The British Museum.

What's your favorite hotel?
Maybe the Hotel Congress in Tucson, Arizona. The phones in the rooms are still hardwired down to the front desk, and they are furnished in my fantasy old-fashioned hotel room style––just a bed, desk and dresser. Also the YMCA in Calcutta, India. They play badminton in the lobby.

What is your soundtrack this summer?
 Gyrate Plus by Pylon
Back Porch Hillbilly Blues by Henry Flynt
Kenwicked by Street Gnar
IV by Jib Kidder
Bend Sinister by The Fall
Double Nickels on the Dime by Minutemen
“Fire / Mission Impossible” by Lizzy Mercier Descloux

And your summer reading list?
I’m on a “madness” streak, so:

A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories by Robert Walser
The Dalkey Archive by Flann O’Brien
Sanity, Madness and the Family by R.D. Laing and Aaron Esterson
Wittgenstein’s Nephew by Thomas Bernhard
The Inmates by John Cowper Powys
Actual Air by David Berman

Hotel Oracle is on show until August 23 at Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

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Secret Cities: Beijing

Beijing Design Week Director Beatrice Leanza Casts a Sharp Eye On The Chinese Capital

From a concept store nestled in an imperial courtyard to al fresco Sichuanese dining, newly appointed director of Beijing Design Week (BDW) Beatrice Leanza offers up a specialist’s guide to her city. A resident for the past decade, Leanza’s intimate knowledge spans its dusty hutongs (alleys), crumbling 600-year-old Dashilar shopping street and the 798 art district, home to expansive galleries and exhibition spaces. Her fascination with Chinese contemporary art began while studying in Italy, and arriving in Beijing in 2002 she worked at the China Art Archives and Warehouse, founded by the renegade Ai Weiwei. “China was coming out of the 1990s, the underground years,” Leanza says. “It was the moment of the institutionalization of the artistic system, the birth of museums and galleries.” She went on to found BAO Atelier, a global think tank. After curating an exhibition of Chinese, Japanese and Korean art collective Xijing Men at 2011’s Venice Biennale and consulting for institutions such as MoMA New York and London’s Royal College of Art, stepping up to the role of director at BDW feels organic. Beijing, Leanza says, is the cultural “heart and soul of the Chinese people. It’s here that most of the prominent artistic movements or practices take shape—it has this all-encompassing nature that no other city in China has.”

Located in a hidden courtyard house once home to the last empress and tucked away in the Mao’er hutong, Wuhao is filled with hand-picked furniture, jewelry, and clothing by Asian and international creators. In the central building an original mirror from the early 20th century and a traditional Kang (day bed) set the scene for seasonal collections inspired by Wu Xing, the five Chinese elements of water, metal, fire, earth and wood. 
5 Mao’er Hutong, Dongcheng District

Lost & Found
Setting up shop in the historical hutong area around The Confucian and Lama temples, Lost & Found houses items of a truly local vintage, with Chinese chairs, tables, cabinets, office desks, screens, lights and even clothing that revive an Old World simplicity. It's also a functioning atelier, where craftsmen's studios and workshops can be visited by appointment.
57 Guozijian Street, Dongcheng District

The Temple Hotel
Built during the Ming Dynasty as an imperial printing house for Buddhist sutras, The Temple Hotel later became the residence of one of the most important religious authorities of the Qing Emperors. Located north of the Forbidden City, the newly restored complex and its surrounding pavilions and rooms are complemented by an installation by artist James Turrell and works by design titan Ingo Maurer.
23 Shatan North Street, Dongcheng District

Transit restaurant
The best Sichuanese restaurant in Beijing sits on a half-hidden corner in the pedestrian area of Sanlitun Village North, an open air mecca for luxury and fashion seekers. 
N4-36, Third Floor, The Village North, Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District

Xian Bar
For those who have longed for an alternative to Sanlitun Village’s congested bar scene, live music lounge and whiskey bar Xian (named after a legendary ‘wine immortal’ whose sculptural portrait guards over the adjacent river) is just few minutes away from 798 Art District. 
22 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District

Ubi Gallery
Nestled in the bustling, 600-year-old area of Dashilar on the southern side of Tiananmen Square, this atelier and gallery features limited edition pieces by international contemporary jewelry and ceramics creators, with interiors and display furniture from Local Design Studio featuring Dashila(b). By the time BDW comes around in September, Ubi will be housed in a fully restored tea house dating from the late 19th century. 
9 Zhujia Hutong, Dashilar, Xicheng District

Fei Space
One of the earliest concept stores in Beijing, Fei Space sits next to the international galleries of the city's well-trodden Art District. Mostly devoted to fashion, clothing and accessories by local designers, the venue also shows select international creatives alongside rare vintage pieces, as well as containing an exhibition space devoted to young Chinese talent.
Second Floor, B01, 2 Jiuxianqiao Lu, 798 Art District, Chaoyang District

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Antonio Lopez: Disco Fashion

The Warholian Illustrator’s Flamboyant Life and Works Celebrated in New Show

From charcoal sketches of the swinging 60s, to sensuous watercolor illustrations and personality portraits, today’s series remembers New York’s irreverent wild child Antonio Lopez. A vibrant figure among Studio 54 circles, the Puerto Rican-born Bronx-raised Lopez first garnered attention with camped-up photographs of emerging artists and screen sirens including Jerry Hall, Grace Jones and Jessica Lange. Cultivating a surrealist, free-flowing drawing style, Lopez began making illustrations for master-couturist Charles James and advertising campaigns that appeared in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and The New York Times displaying vivid silhouettes, Pop Art references and a bold eroticism. Antonio’s World just opened at Suzanne Geiss Company gallery in New York, presenting three decades of the iconoclast’s fine art and photography and the first comprehensive survey of his work. “I have been a fan of Antonio's work since I was a teenager and followed fashion," explains Geiss. “He drew freely from contemporary culture and art history, but at the same time forged a unique body of work.” A forthcoming monograph from Rizzoli, Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex, and Disco, featuring unfinished sketches, Instamatic photos and contributions from close friend Bill Cunningham, and a MAC cosmetics collection paying homage to Lopez’s salacious use of color, signal the artist’s continuing relevance today. 

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