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Monthly Archive for November, 2012

Talking to Susanna-Cole King

Susanna is for me the perfect example of a dreamer. She created the blog Girl Meets NYC in 2008, to document her Summer in New York City. Here, she has written many poetic, dreamy tales combined with amazing photos. It feels like reading someones diary and being allowed into the world of her dreams. Because the photographs (taken by both established and up-and-coming photographers) are so well chosen, they seem to be taken specifically to accompany the written words. Today, Susanna is in the process of writing two books and has travelled through nearly all of Asia, which she’s documented in both words and pictures. This is how she describes herself:

Nonconformist and nomad, adventurer and raconteur, sculptor of words.

I’ve asked Susanna a few questions about her life, work and inspirations. Enjoy!

Self-portrait by Susanna-Cole King

Tells us a bit about the place you grew up.
Well, I think I did much of my crucial growing up in a theological seminary in Missouri (U.S.), but I also lived in three other states as a kid. We built forts and climbed trees and ran wild. If we were even wearing shoes, they were always filthy from running around. That’s the way a kid’s shoes should be, I think. There was a log cabin, built by the founders of the seminary, to smoke and play cards in, and drink alcohol, or so the story goes. We loved that cabin as kids, sometimes we hoisted each other up through a small back window if it was locked. It had a front porch with a swing, which I think we accidentally broke one summer. We’d pretend to be pioneers, and the cabin and the surrounding woods were the perfect setting. I knew we weren’t rich, but I was somewhat oblivious to our poverty. I didn’t know any different, nobody had money. Many of us didn’t attend school, and I never did. It was an isolated world in a way, with little to no exposure to things like pop culture and superficiality, which is why I probably grew up to be a woman who doesn’t wear make-up, except for special occasions. Beauty didn’t matter to me as a kid, and I was happy then, so I figure it makes sense for me to be happy now without caring how I look.

Untitled by Susanna-Cole King, Baltimore, 35mm film.

Untitled by Susanna-Cole King. Baltimore, 35mm film.

What’s the best time of day?

It depends on my mood and the season, but I’m very fond of dusk in summer (pinks and fireflies) and winter (moody blues).

What’s the difference between the stories photography and text can tell?
With pictures, the viewer creates the words to the story, and with text, the reader creates the pictures to the story. Maybe they’re a little like yin and yang.

Is it true that you’re writing a book? If so, tell us what it’s going to be about.
Yes. Well, I think I’m writing two different books that are like conjoined twins at the moment, and I have yet to operate, to pull them apart and figure out where one ends and the other begins. At least half of it is nonfictional prose from my travels across Asia this summer, but bits of fiction keeps creeping in and veering off in other directions, and into veins of other stories. I’m not quite sure what it is, but hopefully, some day, something good will come of fruition from this all.

Untitled by Susanna-Cole King. 35mm film.
“My workspace. The desk was once my grandfather’s. I keep lots of little treasures from around the world, and specimens of natural history, and writing instruments and inks on it, and of course, a small living cacti and succulent garden.”

Where have you learned to write the way you do?
Reading, I guess. I never intentionally imitate anybody (even if it’s tempting to try, sometimes), but I’m sure many writers have subconsciously influenced me, and poetry in general, even though I write prose, it’s evolved into a very poetic prose. As it happens, I disliked poetry as a child (too ambiguous for my tastes), and I didn’t consider it again until readers of my blog began calling my writing poetry, and I thought, “Perhaps I should be reading poetry…” and I did, and found that I loved it. I have my readers to thank for my rediscovery of poetry.

Describe your process of writing one of your posts.
It usually begins with a moment, a fragment or a metaphor that comes to mind during the day when I’m not doing any writing or even thinking about writing at all. I put that down on paper somewhere, and then it will slowly bleed and bloom outward from there. I do not write chronologically, and I usually can’t move on from a sentence until I’m satisfied with it, so I relentlessly edit as I write, instead of writing straight through a draft and then editing that, and repeat. There reaches a point where sometimes I just have to let things go, or nothing will ever be done.

Where do you usually write? (In front of a computer or in a notebook?)
Both. I often flesh things out on paper (I’m partial to Field Notes at the moment), and get the kind of awkward, ugly beginnings out and then move to a computer when I want to be more productive or edit a lot. Considering the intensity and obsessiveness with which I edit, I would kill an awful a lot of trees and time to do it all by hand.

Photo by Nishe. (Featured on Girl Meets NYC)

How do you find all the amazing photography that you post on Girl Meets NYC?
A lot of the photographers I feature are friends now, and that’s helpful as they’re especially generous in sending over their work to me when I request it, and I already keep up with new and upcoming projects of theirs. I think if somebody combs through places like Flickr and Tumblr enough, you can eventually develop list of exceptional photographers you can go back to again and again, and who will inevitably lead you to other wonderful photographers. The internet is very interconnected so, one thing leads to another, you know.

Why did you create Girl Meets NYC and what is the main goal for it today?
To document my summer in New York City. That was in 2008. I’m afraid don’t update it very frequently anymore, as my writing process became much more drawn out and meticulous. I wouldn’t say I have any main objectives for it today, except I hope it reaches somebody.

Why did you choose a blog for the place to post your writing, did you consider other media as well?
I was seventeen and blogs were booming then, I was curious and wished to try my hand at it. I don’t think I considered any other media. I mean video blogging wouldn’t have worked, for instance, because I’m camera shy and not articulate if I can’t get it down on paper first.

Photo by Parker Fitzgerald. (Featured on Girl Meets NYC)

You seem like a perfect example of a dreamer, but how would someone who knows you very well describe you?
Well, I don’t know if I’m a perfect example of anything, and I’m one of those individuals who prefers a couple of close friends to many. I can count on one hand how many individuals I would say know me well. Actually, I think one of them would have to be my grandmother, as I’m very much a younger version of her, thus, in a way, she knows me by knowing herself. I have a mean, sarcastic sense of humor that I mostly only use around my best friend. If people didn’t know we loved each other, they’d think we hate each other, but I know she never insults me with real malicious intent, nor I her, therefore we enjoy such cutting commentary. I get uncomfortable if she’s being too nice to me. I don’t really know how she’d describe me, as “crazy” probably. The other week she asked what I was reading, and I told her, and she goes, “You read such deep stuff, no wonder you’re crazy.”

Who are you inspired by?
Many times, by artists who are also my friends, because I can connect with them as individuals and as artists, such as Magda Lutek (usually known as Nishe online), Aëla Labbé, Daniel Stephensen, Nirrimi Firebrace and Mexico Rosel (Matt Caplin), Tara Violet Niami, to name a few (or a couple more than a few). But I often feel very inspired by film and filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch, and Wim Wenders. I wonder if I should become a filmmaker instead of a writer, sometimes…

You spoke to Sally Mann recently, is she a friend of yours or how did that come about?
Oh no, I wish I could call her a friend, but no. Merely made her acquaintance on one fine occasion. I wrote her a long-winded letter of all the things I’ve wanted to say to her since discovering her work — I admire her quite immensely — and she wrote back with her wonderful pairing of humility and wry wit.

Photo by Misma Andrews. (Featured on Girl Meets NYC)

Top 3 films?
Let it be noted that for the next three questions, because I don’t necessarily have a top three, I will simply write three from a long list of favorites. For films: Baraka (dir. Ron Fricke), Stranger Than Paradise (dir. Jim Jarmusch), Lost Persons Area (dir. Caroline Strbbe). Wait, let me cheat and add a few more: Last Life in the Universe (dir. Pen-ek Ratanaruang), Paris, Texas (dir. Wim Wenders), and In The Mood for Love (dir. Wong Kar-wai).

Top 3 photographers?
Sally Mann (she really is in my top three, if I ever had one), Aëla Labbé, and Magda Lutek (Nishe).

Top 3 books?
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Ode to Common Things by Pablo Neruda, Selected Verse by Federico García Lorca.

Photo by Sally Mann. (Featured on Girl Meets NYC)

Which book are you reading at the moment?
I don’t have enough self-control to limit myself to one book at a time, so at the moment I’m amidst The Paris Review Interviews: Volume IV, The Vagabond by Collette (a beautiful 1980 edition, a gift from my friend Daniel — before mentioned in this interview — who said it reminded him of me), The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting by Philip Hensher, American Photobooth by Nakki Goranin, a book on Japanese residential architecture, and I want to mention two books I just finished, because they were so wonderful: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and Once by Wim Wenders, which feels like sitting around a kitchen table with an old friend, listening to stories, and sifting through photographs from a shoebox, it’s a warm feeling reading it.

Photo by Natalie Kucken. (Featured on Girl Meets NYC)

Tell us about your travels, the physical ones as well as the spiritual ones.
Well, after coming home from New York City and entering a mind-numbingly dull work situation with a mentally and verbally abusive boss, I was always of daydreaming of defiantly quitting one day, and traveling the world with no plan but to see and experience new things, and so, one day I did just that. Quit my job, applied for a passport, picked a beginning destination, bought a plane ticket, and told no one until it was too late to talk me out of it. I’ve told this story many times (sorry for those who have already heard it). Anyway, that was how my traveling began. In that trip, I visited Europe and Africa, where I went without food for days. This summer I traveled across India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Việt Nam. The more I travel, the more I want to travel even more, if that makes sense (a poorly constructed sentence).

As for spiritual, well, it’s difficult to detail all that concisely, as it is deep and intimate, but in a nutshell, I grew up in a religion-saturated environment, but when I reached the age of fourteen or so, I realized that everything I supposedly believed was only because the people around me believed it. It was religion and not spirituality. So then I become an atheist, and I was a miserable atheist. After a while, I decided to essentially rewind, erase, and begin again. I’m not religious, I think even Jesus was against religion, but spirituality has become the most profound component of my life. If anyone feels sorry for my having faith in God, then they don’t understand my faith, which is not defined by others.

Hà Nội, Việt Nam by Susanna-Cole King, 35mm film

Varanasi, India by Susanna-Cole King, 35mm film

New Delhi, India by Susanna-Cole King, 35mm film

What are your plans for the future?
My plans are forever forming and evolving. I keep an open mind. I’ve never been one of those people who knows what I want to do with the rest of my life, knowing this would feel suffocating I think, I’d be in a panicked gloom. I guess I like surprises, in a way, the unpredictably of being a free spirit. At this very moment (this could change by tomorrow), I’m considering returning to New York to study book arts, or living in either Australia or Southeast Asia with some friends (building a commune has been discussed). I definitely want to move, that’s been a desire for a while now. I travel overseas for months, but I keep coming back to the same place broke poor, and that’s getting old. I want to go home broke poor from adventures to somewhere else now. Or not broke poor. That would be a plot twist.

Photo by Ciorania. (Featured on Girl Meets NYC)

Can you recommend other blogs/sites to look at?
Forgetlings (my friend Daniel is a master of poetry)
Nishe (a wonderful photo blog by one of my dearest friends)
Fuck Yeah, Book Arts! (book arts!)
Le Cam Romain (film photo beauties)
the road is home (my friend Nirrimi’s beautiful blog)
the raw book (“…aims to deconstruct the conventional definition of beauty through a series of original conversations.” I just did an interview for the Raw Book recently, really honored to be a part of it.)

There are many more I’d recommend, these are just some that came to mind.

Other things you would like to mention?
Thank you, and I hope I didn’t say “well” too much, it’s my vice at the moment, my predecessors of this particular habit were “oh” and before that “anyway.” Well, anyway, that’s all folks. A good song has just come on, I must get up and dance.

It Takes Two

Jean-Marie Straub was an extrovert and a visionary. The public face of the prolific filmic duo she and her husband Danièle Huillet formed, she is one of the cinematic legends of the twentieth century. Their career, which started when the couple were students in Paris in 1954, spanned four decades and includes over two-dozen films. Dividing their collaborative work equally, Straub’s focused her attention behind the camera lens. Her enigmatic camera-work, focussing on long takes their films ‘un-write’ the visible through the arrested movement of the camera. Most notably perhaps in their first full-length feature, Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, which appeared in 1968 as the couple’s second feature length film.

Jean-Marie Straub and her husband Danièle Huillet

Not Reconciled, 1965, their first feature length film, illustrates the proponents of minimalist cinematography that Straub experimented with in her cinema.

Straub and Huillet’s films have not, however, gained the deserved recognition for their contribution to cinema and cinema politics, critics have noted. In spite of their being the “darlings” of the Cahiers du Cinéma, numerous collaborations with legends such as Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Robert Bresson to name only a few, and occupying a substantial portion of Deleuze’s infamous book Cinema I their films have not made their way into the hearts of the revivalist film watchers of today. 

Not Reconciled (Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, 1965)

Not for the faint-hearted

Many critics hastily concede of Straub’s minimalist style that it’s “inaudible” and “unintelligible” and even those admirers of her work dub the films as “dry and intellectual”. Their films are, however, part of a body of cinema, a body that pertinently probes a social and historical backdrop in France’s ideological past. Straub and Huillet’s films are notoriously imbued with Marxist ideology, this is something that manifests in the textually on screen, objects, figures and music all bear equal weight, and indeed make watching these films a sensory marathon.

Class Relations (Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, 1984)

“The films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet are best understood in the context of contemporary developments in radical, materialist cinema. They offer what many people see as a genuine alternative to both dominant narrative cinema and conventional art movies. Their work is formally austere and demands attentive, intellectual participation from audiences.”  (Quote from The New Biographical Dictionary of Film by David Thomson.)

The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, 1968)

As with running a marathon, I can only imagine, great satisfaction follows from watching these films. Straub-Huillet’s films are challenging but they incite an obscure reward beyond the sensuous towards the ‘sensible’ in the image, something like the Idea. Objects on screen are extended beyond their formal, prescribed and allocated positions and allow new forms to come forth on screen. As the infamous philosopher of cinema writes..

…the Straubs, are probably the greatest political filmmakers in the West, in the modern cinema. But, bizarrely, this is not due to the presence of the people; on the contrary, it is because they know how to show how the people are, what is missing, what is not there.

— Deleuze

Straub and Huillet’s film The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach:

And God created woman

The innocent, sometimes naive childlike “baby-doll” character has always been a popular one in cinema, certainly amongst the male audience. With the 1956 film “And God Created Woman” that gave Brigitte Bardot her breakthrough, Roger Vadim invented a modern version of “the eternal female” and launched a new type of eroticism.

Simone de Beauvoir explained the interest in this new “child-woman” in her book “Brigitte Bardot and the lolita syndrome”:

The adult woman now inhibits the same world as the man, but the child-woman moves in a universe which he cannot enter. The age difference reestablishes between them the distance that seems necessary to desire.

— Simone de Beauvoir

Brigitte Bardot is a perfect example of the merging of the “green fruit” and “femme fatale” type in the film ”And God Created Women”. She is playing the 18-year old ophan, Juliette who is very sexual and attracts all men – young and old. Juliette knows that all men find her attractive and play along with them. But the only one she really loves doesn’t love her back, so she is never quite happy.

Brigitte Bardot is the most perfect specimen of these ambiguous nymphs. Seen from behind, her slender, muscular, dancer’s body is almost androgynous. Femininity triumphs in her delightful bosom. The long voluptuous tresses of Mélisande flow down to her shoulders, but her hair-do is that of a negligent waif. The line of her lips form a childish pout, and at the same time those lips are very kissable.

— Simone de Beauvoir

Photo by Kary Lasch

We see the popularity of “the lolita syndrome” in cinema many times for example with Audrey Hepburn, Leslie Caron and Francoise Arnoul amongst many others. Not to mention in the hugely popular book “Lolita” by Nabokov.

Audrey Hepburn

 

Leslie Caron

 

Francoise Arnoul

Five “Three Reasons”

The video-distribution company Criterion Collection, a “continuing series of important classic and contemporary films” has since 1984 been dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in high quality. If you are interested in films, I definitely recommend you to have a look at their site and blog where they write critical film reviews, discuss the newest film theory and create lists of recommended films to see.

They also maintain a YouTube channel where I recently stumbled upon their “Three Reasons” videos. If you sometimes find it difficult to pursuade your partner to watch a black and white film or a film from before the 21st century with you, these videos are amazing. They often sell the films better than the original trailers. Of course I’m not forgetting that Criterion Collective is a company who are promoting the films they sell, but because I actually agree with them in their film choices, I find these videos very useful. Also, after looking through the videos, I have added many films to my “I need to watch this” list.

Anyway, here are five videos from their Three Reasons channel. I highly recommend all these films, so I hope these videos will inspire your next film choice.

 

Breathless (1960)

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Belle de Jour (1967)

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The Children of Paradise (1945)
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Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
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In the Mood for Love (2000)

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See more of Criterion Collective’s Three Reason’s here.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Annemarie Schwarzenbach was a Swiss writer, journalist, photographer and traveler. She first wanted to be a general, then a pianist and a dancer but ended up with a doctorate in history at Zurich University, and published her first novel aged 23. She had a troubled relationship with her mother, whom apparently brought her up as a boy and as a child prodigy. She began to dress and act like a boy from an early age, and throughout her life she was often mistaken for a young man.

Her androgynous beauty attracted and fascinated both men and women, and I’m sure she still inspires today, when looking at some of the photos Marianne Breslauer took of her.

She was neither a man nor a woman, but an angel, an archangel.

— Marianne Breslauer


She travelled extensively, and within ten years she produced more than 300 articles and 5,000 photographs from her journeys across Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Africa. The photographer Marianne Breslauer who was a close friend of Annemarie’s has taken some of the most striking images of Annemarie while they were travelling together.

Annemarie’s relationship with her mother was a difficult one. Renée Schwarzenbach was a domineering personality, who ruled the household with a rod of iron. She also had affairs with women, which her husband tolerated. Annemarie was vehemently anti-Nazi whereas her family, and mother especially, sympathised with the regime.

Annemarie always lived a dangerous life with drugs and alcohol and died tragically attempting a “hands free” bicycle manoeuvre, but fell and hit her head and died nine weeks later. She was just 34 years old. After her death, her mother destroyed some of her archives, but Annemarie’s work was rediscovered in 1987.

“You can read her life like a novel, but no editor would publish it, they would say ‘oh it’s too much, give me a break’, but this is not the case, it’s all true,”

— Alexis Schwarzenbach, great nephew

Rosa Luxemburg

Berlin’s Talking Streets

The staircase leading up from the U-bahnhof station opens out onto a square shrouded in remnants of a pre-war Golden Age in Germany.  Away from the nearby streaming traffic, scantily strewn pockets such as Rosa Luxemburg-Platz offer spacial respite from the scale implemented in much of the rest of East Berlin. Walking amidst this strange copulation of time and space something of the historical poignancy comes into force. Aptly named, this square and the buildings that flank it are witness to the protests of political activists, and their murders, two earth-shattering world wars and forty years of division behind a wall.

Two great feats of twentieth century architecture stand on either side of the square. On one side is Hans Poelzig’s Kino Babylon, built in 1929, is one of the oldest cinemas in Germany. Its curved façade, mimicked in the door frames, steps and circle stalls of the interior, is a symbol of the Golden Age, the era of kino (movie theatre), ballrooms, cabaret and jazz.

On the other is Oskar Kaufmann’s Volksbühne (‘Peoples’ Theatre’) built between 1913 and 1914. Its empowering modernist grandeur reflects the political strife that was brewing in the years of its erection. History is frozen into the blocks that have built this square; activists rallying against German Nationalism’s vision of a new Germany, murder in the name of Communism, not to mention its three name changes over the course of half a century.

Berlin’s streets are a palimpsest of the last hundred years, its squares and street-names hold onto history as it propels forward in the present age. It’s current name, unchanged since 1969, after the political activist, feminist and writer, Rosa Luxemburg, is a signal of exactly that.

Rosa Luxemburg, a Marxist martyr, was a twentieth century visionary whose skill for rhetoric made her a leader of liberal democracy. A prominent leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany she fought the fateful Nationalism of what was to later become the Nazi party and as a result lost her life. Shortly before her death, whilst rallying protesters she poignantly cried, “It’s either transition into socialism or regression into barbarism!”

Rosa Luxemburg-Platz, in the heart of Mitte, is a symbol of what has risen from the ashes of a city once torn apart. Now stands a gallery, a Peoples’ theatre, an art house cinema, record shops and numerous bars, here we can see a city embracing the future without forgetting its past.

Mugshots

Photographs can have a huge affect on us. They can evoke very strong feelings of nostalgia, admiration, longing, being afraid, happiness and many other. Somehow, they have a magic power over us. We can protect ourself from them by closing our eyes, but if we manage to catch a glimpse of them, they can stick to our “inside eye” and be very difficult to get rid of again. We create stories in our minds or are reminded of distant or recent memories when looking at them. They can be used to portray an identity, and they can reveal our true persona to the world. When we collect them, it’s like we’re collecting memories.

I found these mugshots on the site “The Americans“, and they fascinate me a lot. Because of their “scientific” purpose, they tell us a story before we even see the person portrayed. This can evoke a feeling of danger, because we know they’re taken after the people have been arrested for some crime. I almost feel like I can’t look at the people in the photographs because there’s a change that they’re dangerous, I’m afraid that they’ll look back at me. The odd thing about this strong feeling is that you don’t actually know if these people have commited a crime, and if so, what crime it is. They could have stolen a pack of gum in a shop for all we know.

This feeling of knowing part of the story by just looking them, but not knowing the rest, inspires me.


The importance of being a (Surrealist) muse

Here’s a guest post by Livia Satriano. She is a lovely Italian Media Graduate based in Milan. She works as a freelance writer and researcher, mainly writing about music, art and culture. She wrote her first book “No Wave” about the New York underground music and art scene of the late Seventies, which was published in Italian recently. She is also the editor of Assez Vu – a blog celebrating odd and inspiring pictures from the past. The name “Assez Vu” means ”I’ve seen enough” and it is taken from a poem (“Départ”) by Rimbaud whom Livia is massive fan of. She thought it would be the perfect name and inspiration for her visual blog of “gems” from the past, to say that there’s still so much that we have to see and discover before we can say we’ve seen enough.

Photo of Livia Satriano

The importance of being a (surrealist) muse

Forget the femme fatale of the “Belle Époque”, the woman who made Surrealist hearts beat fast was more of a childlike woman, she was emotive, intuitive, irrational — all the perfect characteristics to take inspiration from as an artist. And what is a muse if not an inspirer?

But never think of the Surrealist muse as the “average” muse, Surrealist women were different and unpredictable in some way. They weren’t Botticelli blonde goddesses, Gauguin exotic beauties or just pretty girls to look at. They were instead proud, independent women who knew what’s what. They could easily switch from being the inspiration for a painting or a poem to being personally involved in artistic expressions. Both object and subject, child and mother, feminine and masculine — The Surrealist muse was the first modern woman.

 

Nusch Éluard
The sentiments apparent / The lightness of approach / The tresses of caresses.
— Nusch, by Paul Éluard.

Nusch Eluard by Man Ray

Nusch Eluard by Man Ray, 1928

Maria Benz’s first job in Paris was as a “hypnotist’s helper” but soon she met the surrealist poet Paul Éluard whom she married in 1934. Since then this lovely, ethereal girl became the muse of many artists, from Man Ray to Picasso and a favourite inspiration for her husband’s work. She also loved making collages herself at night, while struggling with insomnia.

Some of Nusch’s collages

 

Méret Oppenheim

Who covers a soup spoon with luxurious fur? Little Meret. Who has outgrown us? Little Meret
— Max Ernst

Meret Oppenheim by Man Ray, 1932

fur-covered tea cup by Méret Oppenheim

She was by all means a Surrealist artist. Her bizarre objects/creations – like the fur-covered tea cup or the fur gloves with polished fingernails – were way ahead of their time. But she was also a beautiful and intriguing woman who posed for Man Ray several times.

Poison by Man Ray featuring Méret Oppenheim:
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Suzanne Muzard

Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all
— Nadja, 1928, by André Breton

Photo of Suzanne Muzard & André Breton

Photography album with Suzanne Muzard by André Breton

André Breton, Paul Éluard & Suzanne Muzard, Untitled 1931

Suzanne was a former prostitute who won the heart of the father of Surrealism. Breton’s masterpiece “Nadja” is said to be dedicated to her but at that time she was still “the young wife” of writer Emmanuel Berl. Muzard and Breton had an intense relationship, she being his muse, but sometimes also a partner in art-making.

 

Lee Miller

I would rather take a picture than be one
— Elizabeth “Lee” Miller, 1932

Portrait of Lee Miller, by Man Ray ca. 1929

London, 1941 by Lee Miller

One of the most beautiful woman of her generation, Lee graced the covers of fashion magazines such as Vogue but was also, and above all, a talented photojournalist. She had a special photography teacher, Man Ray, of whom she soon became lover and main inspiration.

A clip from ‘Le Sang d’un Poete’ by Jean Cocteau:
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Dorothea Tanning

My work is about leaving the door open to the imagination
— Dorothea Tanning

Can two artists have a long happy life together? This is what happened to Surrealists Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning. They had never been apart since Max Ernst’s first visit in her New York studio in 1942. The legend says a chess game was all it took for them to fall in love! She, “the oldest living surrealist”, passed away early this year at the age of 101.

Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst

Dorothea Tanning & Max Ernst

Kiss and tell

It all started in 1896 when “The May Irwin Kiss” was not only one of the first films ever to be shown commercially to the public, but also the first ever “film kiss”. The film kiss is almost inevitable in Hollywood and a necessity in the Romance. “The May Irwin Kiss” caused a scandalized uproar and sometimes even calls for police action in many places where it was shown. It was simply considered inappropriate to view two physically-unattractive people magnified on the screen during an extended kiss. YouTube Preview Image

May Irwin and John Rice in The Kiss (1896)

Today, we are luckily not that sensitive anymore, and there are some pretty remarkable “film kisses” in the history of cinema. The film kiss can either be the satisfying “they finally got each other”-kiss or the heart-breaking “if they love each other they have to leave each other”-kiss, but it can also be a friendly “I’ll always be here”-kiss. Either way, they always leave us with some sort of emotion. Here are some emotional film kisses for you.

Jean Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in À bout de souffle (1960)

Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina in Pierrot le Fou (1965)

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind (1939)

Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita (1960)

Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Liv Ullmann and Bibi Anderson in Persona (1966)

Anne Wiazemsky and Balthazar in Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Matchpoint (2005)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Mathew Goode and Colin Firth in A Single Man (2009)

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in Annie Hall (1977)

Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk in A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

James Stewart and Grace Kelly in Rear Window (1954)

Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Timeless Tweed


There are few things about the descent into Autumn that I enjoy. Rainier, colder days coupled with a distinct lack of sunlight make for a tired feeling and tired looking few months.  The Autumnal onslaught did, however, lead me to a rediscovery of a timeless and historical fabric, tweed.

This native of the far-flung Scottish isles became a familiar favourite with the grouse-shooting folk of the early eighteenth century and soon became the staple attire for harsh weather. Steeped in history, tweed is an intricate blend of hundreds of different types of wool and the process has remained relatively unchanged for nearly two hundred years. Then, when Coco Chanel borrowed tweed, formally the fabric for the British gentleman, she transformed it into elegantly cut shapes and beautiful forms. Now tweed saw its rebirth in fashion, first in the 1920s, and then with inexorable fervor from the 1950s on.


Icons such as Jackie Onassis were the first to flaunt tweed and soon after the traditional tailors, Harris of Scotland and Daks, formally Simpsons of Piccadilly, injected some contemporary shapes into their patterns. Since Coco Chanel more and more female designers have taken to the fabric such as Sheila McKain-Waid and Stella McCartney and season upon season it seems to find its way into the shops…and not just as jackets or coats. Urbanears have recently made some Harris Tweed headphones and Nike have released their own tweed high-tops…

Certainly most topical is tweed’s feature role in Chanel’s Little Black Jacket campaign; this new, drooled-over and much hyped tweed jacket is also the central point of an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Where you can see an eclectic mix of models, fashionistas, actors and writers sporting the piece…


Undoubtedly there is an imbued timelessness in this intricately woven wool that ceases to wear-off, excuse the pun. Practical, hardy and warm it has served as a shelter from the elements for elegant women for over a century.