Canada Turn an Innocent Dessert into an Erotic Ideal in Part Three of #DefineBeauty
Sexual impulse is put under a retro-filtered microscope in Canada’s short, Crème Caramel. Giving the popular pudding top billing, the Barcelona director collective depict a portrait of desire for the latest in NOWNESS’ weekly series #DefineBeauty. Having shot music videos for Scissor Sisters and Phoenix, Canada’s Nicolás Méndez, Lope Serrano, Oscar Romagosa and Alba Barneda deconstructed the sensual yet somehow irreverent features of the female form. “When you are obsessed with someone, it’s not just with that someone—it’s with the shape of the hips, the color of the nipples, or the shade of her hair when she comes out of the shower,” says Serrano of their inspiration. “We were thinking of a metaphor that represents the heterosexual male view of the female body: something sweet, tender and beautiful—a crème caramel.” The directors captured the trembling dessert—which they insist is an aphrodisiac—alongside hyper-stylized visual motifs that include kaleidoscopic illustrations and 1970s records. While Serrano crafted the drawings featured in the short, a chance encounter with French band La Femme as he listened to the studio stereo resulted in the climactic soundtrack, “La Femme Ressort.” “When you’re making work based on visions of a woman’s body, you cannot lose your own desire, which is instinctively sexual,” says Serrano, who also cites Godard’s chapter for the 1969 multi-director feature Love and Anger as a reference. “But we’re not insisting on the simply erotic notion, it’s also anatomical: a wonderful succession of details.”
The next in the #DefineBeauty series The Magic Gap premieres Tuesday May 27.
Clara Cullen Crystallizes the Allure of Enhancement in Part Two of #DefineBeauty
“Everyone wants something they don’t have. It’s the principle of desire,” says Clara Cullen, the Buenos Aires-born director of Beauty Is a Form of Genius, the second film in the weekly NOWNESS series #DefineBeauty. “I’m fascinated by the idea of changing your face and body. We like to please with our looks and I don't find that immoral or shallow.” An early encounter with 'carnal' French artist Orlan, who uses her face as a surgical canvas, left an imprint on the filmmaker. “I realized plastic surgery is a performing art and while Orlan subverts it—she had two horns popping out of her head—it’s still using the same tools,” she says, also citing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray as inspiration. Scripted in collaboration with novelist Maxine Swann, Cullen herself provides the evocative monologue, intertwining four stories that take in the universal human conditions of self-esteem, vanity, insecurity and temptation. Long blonde hair, a chiseled bone structure and surgically enhanced breasts and lips depict an Argentinian beauty prototype. “Plastic surgery is in my culture,” says Cullen, who returned to her home city to interview the cast, which included Charlotte Caniggia, daughter of Argentina’s celebrated World Cup hero, the former footballer Claudio Caniggia. “Mario Testino has a joke about us: Why do Argentinians go outside during an electric storm? Because they think God is taking photos of them.”
The next in the #DefineBeauty series A Maximum Illusion: Creme Caramel premieres Tuesday May 20.
New Orleans Airlift Unites Two Street-Dance Disciplines for the First Time as Part of 1MSQFT
“People who are not from New Orleans are trying to learn about bounce music,” says Katey Red, a 15-year-veteran of her homegrown music scene and self-confessed ‘queen of bounce.’ “People want to learn how to do the booty dances. And I give them the information. I say, look up Katey Red!” New Orleans bounce collides with New York vogue for the very first time, with Red co-hosting the dance clash as part of the two-day One Million Square Feet of Culture [1MSQFT] event. “People are realizing that voguing is not just a gay dance, everybody can do it,” says New York’s voice of the ballroom Jack
Mizrahi. “We’re enjoying the synergy right now, to finally have a battle against bounce—a couple of weeks ago it was breakdancing vs. vogue. It’s become it’s own dance spectacle.” The event was curated by New Orleans Airlift, a crew founded by curator and DJ Jay Pennington aka Rusty Lazer and visual artist Delaney Martin to support the city’s artists in response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. “As a metaphor, gumbo works really well,” says Pennington, who also organized a rally to close the weekend and celebrate NOLA’s creative underground, set on the dusty grounds under the Ninth Ward Bridge. “You can’t deny that New Orleans is the kind of place that stews and grows really organically. This is just the beginning of bounce.” Captured by Court13, the filmmaking collective behind director Benh Zeitlin’s Louisiana-set fantasy Beasts of the Southern Wild, today’s film goes behind the scenes of the rehearsals for the ball at the city’s Wax Museum. Red, one of the city’s first openly gay MCs, hosted the ‘meeting of courts’ alongside fellow bounce poster queens, Big Freedia and Sissy Nobby, and vogue legend Mizrahi. “The first time I got on the mic was October 21, 1998. I would get on stage looking like Beyonce,” she says, “but then start acting like Nicki Minaj.”
Find out more about One Million Square Feet of Culture’s series of curated events here.