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Archive for the ‘Carolyn Tripp’ Category

Nuit Blanche: Terribly Beautiful, or Just Plain Terrible?

Posted by art On October - 8 - 2009
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Continuing in the fine tradition of years past, the MONDOarts department dispatched four writers to cover this year’s Nuit Blanche and their escapades during said event. Enjoy!

By Carolyn Tripp

In a city-wide evening of art installations and general mayhem, there’s bound to be differing opinions on the night’s overall success. One can run into terribly beautiful and just plain terrible art in a matter of minutes with an event as heavily saturated as Nuit Blanche.

Bearing this in mind, there were some excellent heavy-hitters this time around. I’m sad to say I didn’t have the time to line up for the carnival rides, the FASTWÜRMS tarot card readings, or even to hit the Liberty Village stretch. The evening’s overall worst crime seemed to be, however, that there was a bounty of formidable and publicly accessible ideas, but a disproportionate amount of effective results. Read the rest of this entry »

Poetry: North End Poems Reviewed

Posted by art On July - 20 - 2009

north endThe North End Poems by Michael Knox
ECW Press, 2009

Reviewed by Carolyn Tripp

North End Poems
by Michael Knox follows a Golden-Horseshoe, blue-collar type in the throes of an arduous lifestyle. The main character of this poetic series, Nick Macfarlane, is accustomed to rough days and rougher nights courtesy of bars, buddies, and the tough broads bred in a harsh, working-class town.

A Hamilton native and astute observer, Knox seems to have his characters down to a tee; the coked-up bartenders, the girl-hungry factory workers, and the barroom brawls are all described in frank language, retaining veracity to the lives he portrays.

But there’s something amiss every time I turn a page in what might otherwise be described as an enthralling slice of a surprisingly abrasive Ontarian middle-class existence. Read the rest of this entry »

Artist Profile: Steven Laurie

Posted by art On June - 26 - 2009
Mud Flap Project: Herman Kruis's Truck - Highland Transport

Mud Flap Project: Herman Kruis's Truck - Highland Transport

By Carolyn Tripp

“A friend of mine and I were sitting on the sidewalk one day,” artist Steven Laurie explains, “and wondering out loud what it would take for people who didn’t typically talk about art to be compelled to come into a gallery or be interested in a contemporary art show.”

The possibilities often seem stunted by the fairly insular environments that many art communities tend to foster. This is equally perpetuated by design or lack of funds, and a conundrum that many artists choose, understandably, not to address when creating work, especially when it pertains to those exhibiting in galleries. Typically one would choose to have art appear in spaces that specifically appeal to those of the local “known” and “cultured” audience (who are assumed to want to attend a show), versus those who never typically show interest, but might if they felt compelled (those we assume may never attend). Read the rest of this entry »

Sweet Sugary Junk – Flight of the Conchords, Season 2 (Highlights)

Posted by television On January - 30 - 2009
Hiding said lumps: Bret McKenzie + Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords

Hiding said lumps: Bret McKenzie + Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords

Boys and girls with exquisite taste that includes freakishly huge lips and Kiwi accents, your quest is an end. Season Two of Flight of the Conchords is so on. If you haven’t yet taken the time, please turn your attention to something I think we can all appreciate, a song from Episode 2, Sugar Lumps:

Video courtesy of HBO via YouTube (2009)

Dick in a Box appropriately had its day, and Milkshake, while brilliantly produced, took itself too seriously. The only song that comes close (though unfortunately, not at all a parody) was Riskay’s 2007 track Smell Yo Dick.

This stark resemblance lies primarily in the sense that if these tracks were pounding in some godawful Richmond Street locale, the patrons wouldn’t notice the difference. They’d still bump and grind like Fergie herself was the MC.

I wonder if they get Fergie stand-ins at parties in the UK. You know, like they did with Paris Hilton? Understandably, careers are beset with highs and lows, but I think once an individual’s reached that point, it’s time to spare the common man and take up night school.

Otto; or Up with Dead People Reviewed

Posted by film On December - 23 - 2008

Otto, Or Up With Dead People
Directed by Bruce LaBruce
Jürgen Brüning Filmproduktion, 2008

Oh, Oh, LaBrucio: You Never Forget Your First!

By Carolyn Tripp

I had my first LaBruce when I was about sixteen or so. Being an out-of-town girl made the big city rags seem more exciting than perhaps they should ever be given credit. Eye Weekly, at the time, was just such a rag. The writers were inspirationally bitchy, the back page adverts were shocking, and the contents nothing short of remarkable to this impressionable then-country dweller.

The LaBruce shades in action

The LaBruce shades in action

A vague impression of Bruce LaBruce’s writer pic (when Eye still did them) stands out in my mind as well. I think it was his shades that initially caught my attention, and insodoing (I don’t mind admitting) made me read his work. I didn’t even know who Hunter S. Thompson was at the time, so it was LaBruce who quickly earned the title of Coolest Motherfucker I Had Ever Seen. It should also be noted that this was way before I had even begun to employ the term “motherfucker” with any kind of regularity.

What I read all those years ago was part of a weekly column penned by the filmmaker entitled “Feelings.” This was a series of insightful accounts inspired by what I can only assume to be an uncanny amount of civic pride between the years of 1997 and 2003. Indeed, I had no idea at the time that LaBruce was this iconic filmmaker, so the pull for me had a great deal to do with his realism. His stories were unusual, yet relatable, making bizarre occurrences seem everyday, and indeed for him, I’m certain they were.

Devastating situations about which I hadn’t a clue (gay bashing for one) that were usually covered like self-indulgent pap, or worse still, ignored altogether by lesser writers, got an insightful examination from LaBruce. His personal accounts and criticisms were passionate and real, but steadfastly avoided the route of pity. I suppose he was the first writer I encountered who, within his autobiographical style, chose to set his own character against the victimhood associated with circumstance. It worked; I was hooked.

If we may fast-forward to the present day, I’ll admit that Otto; or, Up with Dead People is the first film I’ve seen by the Torontonian. But, much like my first encounters with his writing, I’m pretty sure the impressions left will be recalled for more jaunts down memory lane in 2018.

Why can't I crave brains like other zombies?

Why can't I crave brains like other zombies?

Otto takes us around town with its pitch perfect and appropriately emo titular character (Jey Crisfar). We begin in the graveyard where he emerges from his gravesite, stumbling with typical zombie incoherence. Otto, unlike any other zombie we’ve seen grace celluloid since the genre’s inception, is an intelligent fellow. He finds himself in the midst of an identity crisis when he can’t comprehend why he doesn’t need to consume human flesh.

LaBruce uses zombie actions as models for present day apathy. In Otto’s case, he desperately wants to feel, fumbling his way through the city, gradually picking up pieces of his past life. In his case, this remains an effective representation of a homosexual pariah. Otto is bashed, taunted, and generally misunderstood. Otto occasionally receives similar indignative from his artist peers, who happen to be making a zombie film in which, upon their meeting, he is cast immediately.

There are other less convincing and rather tedious monologues delivered by the otherwise camera-friendly Medea Yarn (Katharina Klewinghaus). I turned to my date with a confused look on my face. She sounded like a German girl trying to be French trying to be German. Even if I’m off the mark, the result was still distracting. The lengthy points in the script belonged to Klewinghaus exclusively, and although otherwise impressively accomplished, these were not her brightest moments.

Then again, this is a film for LaBruce fans. Its intellectual rhetoric remains profound, even if at times a bit tiresome, making pronouncements that many in his audience already hold true. Still, Otto remains appropriately humorous, ballsy, witty, and very, very bloody. In his introduction, LaBruce mentioned his dislike for the current trend in “torture” horror, and I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree. This filmmaker has the testicular fortitude to show what the Marquis de Sade scribed and what Quills was never able to show without maintaining its “R” rating.

Go see Otto. Even if it isn’t your first LaBruce, you’ll find your affections renewed.

If you missed the Royal Cinema’s Bruce LaBruce: A Retrospective you can view Otto; Or, Up With Dead People online at http://www.ovn.tv/.

ANTM Cycle 11: The Problems I’ve Got With The Strong Women

Posted by television On September - 30 - 2008

Welcome to yet another addition to the television section here at MONDO: The Episode of the Week. Here, our contributors go through the myriad of shows that come their way and blow kisses (or vomit) at the standout kids. It can be any kind of show. Except for Due South. I like Mounties, but that was pretty terrible, no?

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Episode of the Week
The Problems I’ve Got With Strong Women
America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 11, Episode 5
(The Runway Challenge)

Carolyn Tripp

As is true with any reality show critique, the scenarios presented in America’s Next Top Model amusingly seek to display the “truthful” goings-on of a particular industry or household. The scenes are contrived, the in-fighting half-assed, and the participants amusingly conflicted as their own sincerity clashes, within the confines of their respective contracts, with their attempts to appear as “normal” as possible for the in-house camera crew.

Psychedelic Questiony: Tyra Banks and the Models of Cycle 11
Psychedelic Question: Tyra Banks and the Models of Cycle 11 (Top Left to Right: Jay Manuel, Elina, J. Alexander, Marjorie
Second Row Left to Right: Nikeysha, Samantha, Joslyn, McKey, Tyra Banks, Analeigh, Sheena, Isis
Sitting Down Left to Right: Brittany, Hannah, Clark, Lauren Brie
Lying Down: ShaRaun)

ANTM differs slightly in many reality show applications, but is still a laughably earnest attempt to effectively, and dramatically, scout fresh modeling meat. Laughable primarily because it seems as though the tall, effortlessly gorgeous Tyra Banks is entirely sincere about what she’s doing with the program and its contestants. If it weren’t for her philanthropic efforts, I’d really cut into her, but as it stands, I’m content to critique the show’s modeling recruitment efforts exclusively. ANTM is essentially nothing more than a complicated, drawn-out beauty pageant with cool designers attached.

Previous winners have included those whose looks are considered to be outside the range of conventional beauty. Different races, creeds, and sizes have won the crown, and there was (until this week’s elimination) a pre-op trans-gender model Banks selected from a Cycle 10 photo shoot. In spite of these highlights in progression and civility, the pageantry remains (see Banks’ Cycle 10 intro). In spite of its best efforts, it is still no more than a Trump-stravaganza.

Like being picked last for soccer, the girls (typically aged 18 to 24) cry when their name isn’t called. They stand wide-eyed in the weekly sacrifice, sucking up scrutiny from a panel of judges who, quite understandably, answer only to the gods who sign their pay-cheques every week. Unfortunately, they’re still part and parcel of a harmfully influential and backwards industry.

So why, in perfect health, do I watch this every week? Because damn, I love the clothes. Additionally Episode 5 treated us to something really rather special: designer Jeremy Scott. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, but there was genuine excitement in seeing him berate models for wearing his garments incorrectly or walking down the catwalk like “strippers.” His artistry, in this case, can’t really be denied. Scott’s inclusion doesn’t mark a turning point for the show by any means, but does it guarantee that I’ll be sitting in front of the television next week? It most certainly does.

In a manner of speaking, ANTM is perhaps more indicative of the state of contemporary feminism than any other show I can call to mind. Here, the glorification of “unusual” beauty still holds strong to the damnable tradition of superficiality. You can slap all the pretty clothes and industry rhetoric you want on top, but the meat grinder still churns out the same result.

I suppose there is a certain grace in not bothering to deny the portions of ourselves that desire this sort of programming. In a way, the show is just responding to market need. However, I wish I could turn off the television and properly scrutinize the dilemma currently facing the astute female. As it stands, however, I’ve put down my book and and have been willfully hypnotized by the swishing of pretty skirts down the runway. The challenge continues.

Biff! Pow! Sock! Poster Show III

Posted by art On September - 19 - 2008
Crowds enjoying posters for bands that aren't playing.

Crowds enjoying posters for bands that aren't playing.

Poster Show III – Various Artists + AIDS Wolf CD Release
Whippersnapper Gallery, 587A College
September 13, 2008

By Carolyn Tripp

A few years ago, I was intrigued by the proclamation by Rolling Stone that gig posters were getting cool again. Though the article is long gone, or perhaps only archived under stuffed animals and back issues of Tiger Beat in my parents’ abode, it stood out. I was intrigued. It was true. They were getting better, but before they were oh, so much worse. In fact, as far as my recollection goes, the 1990s saw a pretty steady decline in creativity when it came to gig posters and band promotion.

More bands that didn't play at Whippersnapper last Saturday.

More bands that didn't play at Whippersnapper last Saturday.

Year after year, the merch table at every concert you went to screamed sub-standard Photoshop, not to mention the lack of original design and illustration. While some of the type-setting was pretty cool, many just sought to scream vehemently that they were in the throws of some kind of nu-wave minimalism. Still, there was always something lost in the translation. Metal and hardcore appeared to be the only genres consistently toting detailed visual material (albeit morbid) while indie bands floundered with limited budgets, failing to make good use of their silk-screening counterparts.

Some Michal Majewski originals (well, prints of originals).

Some Michal Majewski originals (well, prints of originals).

Enter the new millennium and note the change in scenery. Somewhere around 2002, I wanted to start ripping gig posters off lamp-posts again. Finally, rampant use of colour reminiscent of everything but the preceding decade provided a breath of fresh air. It’s true, we go to see the band and the band is good, but we also love a great gig poster. We want the gig poster. We need the gig poster.

Enter Poster Show III, happening this time around at Whippersnapper Gallery, featuring artists from across North America, making work for both local and international shows. After visiting last Saturday, I can say we’re in a good place. I can never claim to be disappointed again, or else will have to whine for the decade in which figurative artwork reclaimed its title and made promotionals, yet again, veritable collector’s items. This exhibition included the hard-working, heart-wrenching folks of SeriPop (Serigraphe Populaire), the neon delights of Doublenaut (AofW here), and the classic vintage and graphic simplicity that embodies the work of Michal Majewski (AofW here).

Final Fantasy Poster by Doublenaut

Final Fantasy Poster by Doublenaut

One critique of the exhibit might be to suggest a reduction in the scale, featuring work in smaller quantities to increase coverage and focus, but I think the onslaught is part of its charm. While this salon-style exhibition and sale is a bit of a clusterfuck, it never fails to impress with its wide range of talent and quality of production. The Poster Show is definitely something to encounter each time it hits our fair city smack in the face, the resulting wound being of course neon chartreuse bruising with broken blood vessels in deep fuschia. Prepare your fisticuffs for a show come Spring 2009 if you missed it this time around.

You Best Mind Nevermind the Buzzcocks

Posted by television On September - 16 - 2008

Welcome to a slightly new television section dealing exclusively with seasons past: The Seasonal Retrospective. Here you’ll find anything and everything from any station we have access to. We are particularly in love with the BBC and CBC and maybe a little bit of CBS when they’re funny and never Fox because we find them kind of repulsive. We’d be into Al Jazeera too, but they don’t typically run endearing sitcoms with well-rounded narratives.

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The Seasonal Retrospective, Nevermind the Buzzcocks, Season 21

By Carolyn Tripp

It’s always a nice surprise when a show with a strong following is successful year after year. Equally so, it’s a disappointment when crap television remains inexplicably in the mainstream for seasons on end.

Relatively magical three: Jupitus, Amstell, Bailey. (Image courtesy of talkbackTHAMES and BBC2)

Relatively magical three: Jupitus, Amstell, Bailey. (Image courtesy of talkbackTHAMES and BBC2)

Currently, there is no Canadian (hell, no North American) counterpart to Nevermind the Buzzcocks, about to enter its 22nd season on BBC this fall. And considering the abysmal pace at which our country’s programming drones along, I can’t imagine there ever being anything close to its equal on this side of the pond.

Since its inception in 1996, the program has had its feet firmly planted in pop culture — particularly that which remains within the confines of those tiny, musically proficient isles. There’s such an impressive concentration of musical talent in the UK, ranging from superb to deplorable, that the country practically demands a show like NTB to exist.

And say what you will about the hauntingly undead Coronation Street and worn out Mr. Bean reruns, but the BBC often churns out the finest programming available on the Western front. This is largely due to the broadcasting body not limiting its writers and comedians from saying or doing what they please. Overt and unnecessary censorship appears to be a tool of lesser stations these days, save the occasional “cunt” being bleeped out during selected air times. NTB holds no exception. You’ll typically hear about as many grossly inappropriate, yet terribly witty quips as a show can offer in a half hour’s time.

The 21st season of NTB saw Simon Amstell returning to host the series for his third year in a row, while hilarious mainstay Phil Jupitus and comedic veteran Bill Bailey assumed their positions as team captains.* Guests included the neptastic Kimberly Stewart, Kristen Schaal, the Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding, David Cross, a bunch of indie kids from a bunch of cool indie bands, and perhaps most interestingly, Jermaine Jackson (Michael’s brother).

Under Amstell’s lead, the show takes a cheeky approach without being excessively insulting or ridiculous, as was often the case under Mark Lamarr’s presence in the years preceding. While Lamarr lacked an endearing screen presence — however terribly cool and handsome he may have been — Amstell excels with his cherubim-nerd-boy qualities. His guests don’t often appreciate an adorable youngn’ taking the piss about their questionable career choices, but in his second season especially, Amstell has proven the victor as a relateable television personality.

And even while “celebrity” guests like Lemy (during the retakes) and Preston (yeah, who?) have stormed off the set in their respective guest appearances, NTB remains biting without being overly serious. Everyone serves and gets served, including the host, making for quality viewing that doesn’t bother to tip-toe around who dated who, or about who’s wife wrote which crap autobiography.

You haven’t been ripped until you’ve been ripped by a Brit, and the right balance has been struck with Amstell at the helm. I’m looking forward to the end of September when Season 22 kicks off, and if you’ve any Anglo-related affections, you’ll be at the edge of your seat as well.

*For those not familiar, the show is comprised of a host, two captains and four celebrity guests. The captains (Jupitus, Bailey) sit opposite one another with two guests each, answering as many pop-related trivia questions as possible for imaginary points that count towards nothing in particular. I guess it is kind of fun to have points, though.

York’s MFA show — Love, Us — reviewed

Posted by art On July - 25 - 2008

Love, Us
York MFA Group Show
Xpace Gallery
On until July 26, 2008

By Carolyn Tripp

I’ve always had problems with the smörgåsbord. So much so in fact, that when I was younger I refused to eat anything but food that was a particular colour for weeks on end. I guess this was in hopes that the distinct lack of variance would someday make me a more discriminating person.

Well, it didn’t. Like with so many botched experiments, my mother swooped in with her usual culinary prowess to cook up something I couldn’t resist. (Orange was my favourite colour when it came to food, though, just for the record.)

So you see, I walk into Xpace, and I’m spoiled with choice. The York MFA program shows its chops with the strength of its current lineup, but solo shows would really do it better for me here. The theses of these grads (or very soon to be) aren’t entirely apparent from the work shown, and being a sucker for the two-hour critique, I left wanting to see more.

We’re launched into geometric wonder with the work of Jay Wilson and Lauren Nurse, who exhibit sculpture and screen prints, respectively. Nurse’s shapes remind me of delightful globular hives, as though there was a meeting in the colony, and every bee finally decided the world was no longer flat.

Wilson exhibits his usual stunning (yet subtle) eye for turning ordinary material into gorgeous abstraction with “blackgreenslick,” a small pipe cleaner structure emerging from a black mirrored base.

Figuratively speaking, my heart lies with the untitled chromogenic print by Emily Gove, where she stands awkwardly with what looks like her shorter, slightly confused date for the evening. They both don what is quickly becoming Gove’s signature retro manifest.

Other strong pieces belonging to David McDougall, Lisa Neighbour and Mike Hansen display the impressive sculptural range that this particular group of artists embody, but still, it never seems like enough. Perhaps I can be content once I view each and every solo show. Until that time, perhaps I’ll comfort myself with Cheesies, Tropicana, and most certainly, orange Gobstoppers.

Love, Me.

The Pineapple Review: Choking ‘Bout My Education

Posted by art On June - 20 - 2008

The Pineapple Review

My Neck is Thinner Than A Hair

The Atlas Group and Walid Raad
FACT 2005, 226 pgs

By Carolyn Tripp

As unsettling as they are, photographs of devastation and violence are fairly commonplace. Come to think of it, so too are the debates concerning how familiar they’ve become in print and on television. Even so, the page after page of post car bomb photographs taken various media photographers makes for an intriguing non-flipbook of devastation in My Neck is Thinner Than a Hair by the Atlas Group and Walid Raad. This volume contains images exclusively from Lebanon’s civil war, dating between 1976 and 1991.

Like so many attacked hearts bursting from scores of aching chests, the engines have left their intended homes and are the only portions of the wreckages to remain intact when the carnage is over. Many of them are actually found several blocks away from the original explosion sites.

Question marks popped above my desk, however, when I considered the attempt in archiving something of this magnitude, not to mention gravitas. This is mainly due to the fact that attempts at documenting historical events often focus on narrative rather than accuracy. In either case, there is the perennial conundrum of portraying that which we know to have happened, and the point of view we wish our audience to absorb. The exclusivity of the project, i.e. car bombs, presents a problem when considering this dichotomy.

Much to the publication’s credit, the layout is fairly pragmatic, which certainly references what one might consider an “archive proper.” Still, design and layout, with scans of the envelopes in which the images were found, become more of a focus than what may be deemed necessary, at least as it concerns the realm of history. Thus, it introduces the potential for the photographs to overshadow the subjects they contain.

All of these qualms remained floating above my workspace until memory prompted a conversation that I had back in 1997 with a penpal from Buffalo. I chanced asking her which country she believed to have won the war of 1812. She insisted adamantly that it was the United States of America. Before she had even finished her sentence, I responded with the usual Canadian answer. Both of our contentions, lifted from textbooks in our respective countries, were inaccurate. This only serves me now as a mildly interesting anecdote, but is useful nonetheless. The general lack of truth nestled in our education (and in educational print) is at times like some kind of rank, gaseous fog, never entirely lifted from the time it’s set upon us at the age of five.

The debate rages on worse than your sister when you call her thighs tubby. Perhaps the enduring question of historical veracity in print can never be resolved, but the Atlas Group has accomplished a damned stylish task with this volume, even if it does bring forth musings about semantics, accuracies, and General Brock.

Like a catalogue of Twinkies after the apocalypse, these car engines are grim and repetitive objects, but never ad nauseum. They manage, and quite compellingly so, to contribute new dimensions to the already convoluted task of portraying the not-so-civil.

Every week, we highlight the best in art-ish printed matter. Pretty much anything on book or in paper is fine and juicy by us. And difficult to eat. But oh, so tasty.

A Review of Paper Dolls
Hand-Made Publication By Liana Schmidt
Available at: www.hqgalerieboutique.com (Montreal)

By Carolyn Tripp

There’s always some smug kid in the first grade who’ll far exceed their peers in all things art and crafts. Every exhaustive, repetitive assignment thrown at them comes back a masterpiece, especially when it comes to cut and paste and making origami. I remember wanting to slug a girl once when I was six for making the most beautiful paper cranes you had ever seen in her spare time. It’s exceptional how peer aptitude can often inspire violence.

Beatings aside, my favourite activity was always that thing where you fold a paper into several sections and cut out a wee shape of a person. I was better at making snowflakes, but it was marvelous to unravel and have the dolls connect for the first time. They were all holding hands! I also remember having the same reaction at twenty-five years of age to one of those ribbons you collapse into a ready-made bow for the top of a present. That’s right. Old giggling habits die hard.

Enter one of the exceptional kids, Liana Schmidt, (one part of Ariana) who released an immaculately hand-made book Paper Dolls in 2007. The contents yield her friends in static poses, all with different outfits on that you can cut out and arrange in stand-up positions. The girls are in dresses, the boys are in suits, and all them are worthy of a visit to the favourite toy shelf.

There’s a whimsical duality to the layout, having two very familiar types of paper doll making in the same publication. Its accordion shape alludes to the aforementioned cut-outs, but the actual application is much akin to images with scissors lines in your favourite Star Wars magazines from 1985. The images are meant to be cut out and arranged so they can stand alone, with two additional outfits for each person.

Personal favourites remain Erin Fraser (also Ariana) who has about a bucket of blood dripping down her head, and Dylan McKinnon with his broken arm, awkwardly positioning himself around every outfit he tries on.

What tends to bother me about a lot of publications, hand-made or otherwise, is the refusal to let anything slide without an elaborate artist statement or long-winded preface. I realize I shoot myself in the foot when I suggest that some writing is unnecessary in art publications, but it’s true. Paper Dolls exists to be a book of paper dolls and explore the individuality of its characters. There are instructions on the back, resisting the long delve into toy and craft culture. It’s not needed here. The images can exist independent of excessive artist rhetoric.

Thanks to Schmidt, you don’t even need Facebook for a friend collection.

Why Fancy Pants Are The Best Pants

Posted by art On May - 9 - 2008

Every week, we highlight the best in art-ish printed matter. Pretty much anything on book or in paper is fine and juicy by us. And difficult to eat. But oh, so tasty.

A Review of Fancy Action Now: The Art of Team Macho

By Carolyn Tripp

Capturing the essence of the Team Macho art collective has always a bit of a conundrum. At least for me, it started to become clearer when I visited their quarters and played with the resident mascot, Punchy the Cat. Commonly referred to as a “Tommy Fat Foot,” she has an excess amount of toes. Still a regular cat in every other sense, only made exponentially better due to this physical attribute.

How might this translate into the fundamental nature of an artist collective? The answer isn’t solely found in how the paw remains active as a functioning unit. In spite of the multiplicity, it indeed works just as well as any other appendage, only this time it’s with increased intrigue and depth of character. Tommy Fat Foots are a damn treat to hang around with as well, with hours spent poking at their feet and wondering at God’s twisted design.

Enter Team Macho with their Fancy Action Now, published in conjunction with the stunning group show of the same title in 2007. In cahoots with Magic Pony, this book documents the entire collection and if it isn’t on your coffee table, like, right now, I feel sorry for you. Apart from the full-on every-page-in-colour explosion, I personally find it difficult to resist the gaze of the Dyke baby or the intricacies of the Spock Cousteau. This book will make any listless viewer focused for hours, content to poke and prod at the pages with no end in sight.

In their 2007 interview with Gary Taxali, the group discusses initially getting together out of not only a need to break convention by functioning as a collective, but to increase the depth of their output. And to maybe piss a few people off in the process.

Breaking the usual conundrum of scholastic convention and creating drawings together, Team Macho started where most collectives don’t: The Abyss of Post-Secondary. The dreaded institution harps, nay insists, upon individual creation. So much so that it becomes ad nauseum, and your once impressionable classmates soon become pompous man-shaped islands, refusing to let anyone touch their work for fear of diluted authorship and lack of proper recognition.

I myself have encountered many an artist who specifically dislikes the idea of a collective operating together. And not just in the same studio, but you know, touching each other’s drawings and stuff. The “collective” term is used so loosely these days, it’s hard to keep track of what it actually entails. Together, not a few feet away not paying attention or close-by in the next room, which happens to be cordoned off with bead strings cause you couldn’t afford to install a proper fucking door. It’s a complete unit, a multi-toed hyper-functioning mega-foot. And you want to get to know it.

If nothing else, this publication demonstrates that Lauchie Reid, Steven Appleby-Bar, Nick Aoki, Jacob Whibley and Chris Buchan are not lost to the (often) aimless confines of experimental endeavours. They clearly and consistently make beautiful artwork together. The idea may take a bit getting used to at first, but once your eyes adjust and the dust settles from all the fancy action, it will become your preferred state of being.

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