Yoko Only

Backstage in Berlin with the Plastic Ono Band and Friends

“I was sitting on my chair, in the middle of the room, when Yoko walks in and grabs a microphone,” recalls photographer P.J. van Sandwijk of shooting today’s photo series. “Sean [Ono Lennon] counts off, the band starts and she starts singing, full of energy. It was captivating.” This series of pictures of the Japanese artist, musician, activist and Beatle widow with her son and his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, and Berlin-based electro absurdist Peaches, was taken while the Plastic Ono Band rehearsed for the polymath’s 80th birthday celebration concerts in Berlin earlier this year. The photographs are showing at the exhibition Yoko Only at Blacks in London’s Soho at a time when Yoko-mania is at its highest. Ono is the subject of a retrospective at Louisiana gallery on Denmark’s east coast that runs until September, and is the principle curator of this week’s Meltdown Festival at the UK capital’s Southbank Centre, which includes a show by Peaches tonight and culminates in this Sunday’s performance of the 1980 album, Double Fantasy, the last that she recorded with her husband John Lennon. Obsessed with the work of William Claxton, Dennis Hopper and Hiroshi Sugimoto, today’s featured photographer Van Sandwijk was born in the Netherlands in 1987 and has both Dutch and English nationality. “Yoko wrote the song ‘Yes, I’m a Witch’ [in the 70s] after everyone attacked her, and I admire that greatly,” he says. “If there is a lesson I learned from being in her presence, it is the following: Be inspired by the beauty around you. Be creative. Do it.”

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  • ON REPLAY
    ON REPLAY

    Lawrence Rothman: Montauk Fling

    Floria Sigismondi Takes to LA’s Chateau Marmont For a Tale Of Glamour and Madness

    “LA is a sunny place for shady people,” says singer-songwriter Lawrence Rothman, describing today’s promo for his entrancing, entropic debut single, “Montauk Fling.” Shot in LA’s foremost den of glamour and vice, the Chateau Marmont, the video is the dark brainchild of artist and filmmaker Floria Sigismondi, whose past projects include 2011 feature The Runaways and a long list of ingenious, era-defining music videos for the likes of Björk, Marilyn Manson and David Bowie—she directed his recent video for “The Next Day,” starring Gary Oldman and Marion Cotillard. Released on June 20, “Montauk Fling” is not only Rothman’s debut single, it’s also the first 7-inch to be released on Sigismondi’s own label, Mama Roma, which she’s launching as a platform to put out undiscovered new music. Rothman describes Sigismondi’s visuals as “a spew of consciousness about a messy love triangle,” the director having cast the singer as a deranged Elizabeth Taylor, stuck, as she puts it, in a “tragic parallel reality where the character’s hunger descends into madness.” Far from taking his role lightly, Rothman spent hours prior to the shoot watching Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula on loop to fully prepare himself. The backing dancers were choreographed on set with no rehearsals, and ended up drawing a little upon the spirit of the Chateau, says Sigismondi, “like haunted spirits roaming its halls.”  

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  • MOST SHARED IN CULTURE
    MOST SHARED IN CULTURE

    Loris Gréaud: The Snorks

    An Underwater Hip Hop Symphony by Antipop Consortium in The French Artist's New Film

    Actress Charlotte Rampling and director David Lynch weave together the threads of Loris Gréaud’s expansive project in the Parisian-art star’s new film The Snorks: A Concert for Creatures. Thirty-six months in the making, the film takes in everything from hip hop-avantists Antipop Consortium’s concert for deep-ocean dwellers, to a pyrotechnic sculpture of fireworks in Abu Dhabi, and traces Gréaud’s voyages exploring the possibility for communication between species. Inspired by bioluminescence––or biological production of light––used by deep-sea creatures to communicate with each other, the aesthetic adventurer broadcast specially commissioned music by Antipop Consortium at a depth of 4,000 meters and elicited vibrant bursts of light from the audience of plankton, unicellular creatures and jellyfish in response. “I gave them carte blanche,” says Gréaud of working with Antipop Consortium. “The only direction really was to play the game, to imagine they playing in front of aliens.” Ahead of the 28-minute film’s premiere at MK2 Bibliothèque next week and a forthcoming world tour combining screenings with Antipop Consortium performing the concert live, Gréaud unpicks the threads making up The Snorks.

    What kick-started the The Snorks project? 
    Basically everything was triggered by a report I’d seen on the death of our oceans, and also the paradox that we know the surface of the moon better than our own oceans. So I wanted to make a sci-fi or alien story but on our planet. From there came the idea of making a concert for these deep-sea creatures, of making sound for them and seeing them react with their own language of bioluminescence.

    How did these animals react when you broadcast the Antipop Consortium concert at 4,000 meters under sea?
    What we observed was what they called a “bloom.” Plankton, unicellular creatures and weird jellyfish down there started not just to flicker but to emit a cloud of light [bioluminescence], like an underwater fireworks display. I was really proud that we observed this amazing reaction. The images you see at the end of the film are a bloom in response to Antipop Consortium.

    You projected this bloom on the billboards of Times Square and also recreated them with a choreographed “pyrotechnic sculpture” of fireworks in Abu Dhabi. Why?
    The idea of the infinite abyss and the infinite sky and trying to make a visual equivalent to what you observe in the depths of the ocean in the sky is a beautiful chain of thought. It was an experiment in making a sort of alien communication. Some people in Times Square were not aware we were making a movie, and were putting themselves in front of the screen like they would at a fireworks show, and buying hot dogs in the street and sitting down to look at the display. 

    You’ve mentioned Rampling is playing your character in the film. What’s the idea behind Lynch’s character?
    David Lynch is the guy who never really gives an answer, he’s really well known for that. I was thinking this could be used in the opposite way and in my project Lynch becomes someone from another place and space giving information to the viewer. He’s just saying facts and scientific information, and explaining what is going on in the movie and helping the viewer to make links. He’s doing the opposite of what he’s supposed to do in life. He’s the access to the story. Everything is organized around him. 

    The Snorks: A Concert for Creatures premieres at Mk2 Bibliothèque, Paris, on October 9.

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