Cecilia Bengolea: Airtight

Dancers Transform Paris into a Science-Fiction Dreamscape In a New Short by Clara Cullen

Argentinian choreographer Cecilia Bengolea achieves physical feats in ballet-style stilettos, crab-walking through Paris’ backstreets in today’s abstract dance homage. Directed by filmmaker Clara Cullen, the short sees Bengolea joined by dancers François Chaignaud, Ana Pi and Alex Mugler, and was shot in and around La Ménagerie studio where the artists have a residency. It was based on four pieces from the Bengolea and Chaignaud Choregraphique Repertory—“Sylphides” (2009), “Danses Libres” (2010), “Mimosa” (2011) and “Altered Natives’ Say Yes to Another Excess-Twerk” (2012). “She’s a great inspiration for me,” says Cullen of her muse, confidante and compatriot. “I met her in a squat in Paris five years ago and we instantly became friends—I understand her world, and that’s why I can do this kind of work with her.” Cullen studied Film at the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires and later trained under Spike Lee in New York and Werner Herzog in Los Angeles. Her more recent work includes fashion films for such brands as Max Mara and Nike. “It’s a mix of things we just created in the moment,” says Cullen of today’s short, which was partly shot with a VHS camera that Cullen obtained from eBay and splices grainy sci-fi architectural landscapes with scenes of dancers vacuum-packed in rubber fetish wear. “They stayed in that bag for an hour,” she explains, “which is physically and mentally very hard. The film has a lot of moments of hope and desperation—I just wanted to have that feeling throughout.”

Bengolea and Chaignaud appear with Charles Atlas at London’s Tate Modern Tanks space from Tuesday March 19 through Thursday March 21.

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    M to M of M/M (Paris)

    The Parisian Graphic Design Duo Celebrate Twenty Years of Visual Alchemy

    An illustrated duck on a Björk album cover, a typeface dedicated to Carine Roitfeld and bit-character humanoids populating a deconsecrated chapel feature in this series from two of the most acclaimed creatives of their generation, Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak, better known as M/M (Paris). Since crossing paths at Paris's Les Arts Décoratifs school, the pair have worked as graphic designers and art directors on distinctive fashion, art and music projects incorporating unconventional typography, print, illustration, photography, film, objects and interior design. Envisioning their commissions as “conversations,” M/M (Paris) have collaborated with the likes of photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, and Mert and Marcus, and designers Riccardo Tisci, Nicolas Ghesquière and Yohji Yamamoto. Invited by Thames & Hudson to produce a monograph of their oeuvre some 12 years ago, the pair have finally collated their trailblazing imagery into a definitive 528-page softback, designed by Graphic Thought Facility, that includes dialogue with close collaborators alongside hundreds of illustrations. “You can't design a book for your own work because it becomes too self-centered,” explains Amzalag. “It was important for us to put ourselves in the position that we have put so many others in—what it feels like to put our work in the hands of someone else.” Ahead of their 20th anniversary, M/M reveal the secrets behind their innovations.

    On establishing collaborations…
    Most of our relationships have happened organically. Riccardo Tisci came to the studio to buy some of our posters as he really liked our work. I lived near Nicolas Ghesquière before he was working at Balenciaga. A friend introduced us to Yohji Yamamoto. We met Inez and Vinoodh at an A.P.C. party in Paris and clicked straight away.

    On translating an artist's message…
    We think of all of our collaborators as artists. They all have something they want to communicate visually. Each collaboration is about understanding an individual and working out how to communicate their world, in a graphic sense. The work we've done for Björk is a succession of portraits—she's a transformative character.

    On their love of alphabets…
    Mathias: We have always thought of our work as a series of signs and from the beginning we decided that we wanted to create our own “language” so people would immediately be able to recognize our work. Our own typefaces allow us to create our own language; each letter carries meaning. Our own alphabets form part of our collection of tools.

    On their working dynamic...
    Michael: Oliver Zahm came up with the perfect metaphor for our working relationship. He said one is the bone, the other is the muscle. To me, it's the most accurate description of how we work.

    M to M of M/M (Paris) is published by Thames & Hudson in October. Their exhibition Carpetalogue, 1992-2012 runs at Gallery Libby Sellers from October 10–December 15, 2012.

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    The Integratron's Magnetic Fields

    LA Psychedelic Collective UFO 2012 Makes a Sonic Pilgrimage to Joshua Tree

    Mystical music group UFO 2012 make a pilgrimage to sonic mecca The Integratron in California's Mojave desert to play crystal singing bowls in Jauretsi and Crystal Moselle’s numinous short. Co-founded by professional longboarder Kassia Meador and artist Aska Matsumiya, the band formed out of weekly sessions at Venice Beach surf shop Mollusk, where its seven like-minded members—including models Noot Seear and Kelsey Margerison, music producer and multi-instrumentalist Farmer Dave Scher, fashion photographer David Mushegain, and curator and visual artist Sean Line—gather to play their frequency-based symphonies. “Being in the ocean is so much about surrendering, and I think it’s the same with the crystal bowls,” says Matsumiya. “Like surfing, you have to listen to nature and ride the wave.” They were drawn to the acoustically pristine architecture and healing reputation of the Integratron, a geomagnetic chamber built by aeronautical engineer George Van Tassel in 1954 from a blueprint he says was given to him after being visited by a Venusian spacecraft. “The part about aliens coming down, I was like, ‘okay, we’ll see…’” the filmmakers admit. “But you step into that dome, and I can’t say exactly what it is, but something’s happening in there.” 

    Los Angeles gallery OHWOW will release a split 10” EP of UFO 2012’s recordings and Matsumiya’s dreamy electro-pop trio, E.S.P., later this month.

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