Author Archives: lucycorkish

Documenting Fashion Visits NYC, Dec 2016: Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty. Photo: Barbora Kozusnikova.

Marilyn Minter began her long and fruitful career in the explosive art scene of 1980s New York City.  Since the beginning of her practice, Minter has been exploring sexuality, feminism and her subjects’ deepest fantasies and impulses. Such intriguing, unapologetic and often seductive subject matter resulted in a great number of solo exhibitions all over the world and her ‘Green Pink Caviar’ video welcomed MoMA visitors for over a year, appeared on billboards in Los Angeles and at Times Square. In 2011, her work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale and in 2013 she was a part of a group exhibition show at Guggenheim Bilbao. Considering her output and influence on the art world, her first retrospective, currently at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, seems a little overdue. But it was worth the wait.

The Brooklyn Museum galleries of Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty are mesmerising. Tracking the development of her style, spanning the years 1969 to 2014, the visitor is encouraged to form a relationship with Minter and understand her intentions. Beginning with early black and white photography of the artist’s mother, her infamous undergraduate work, the exploration of the female body with which the artist occupies herself commences. Depicting Minter’s mother in front of a mirror, putting on make-up or just simply posing, the photographs set the scene for the fascination with the beauty industry and its deceptive nature. Here, the sexualisation of Minter’s work also begins, spilling into the following four galleries of the exhibition. Stepping deeper into Minter’s world, one is confronted with the oddly beautiful she is so fascinated by. Incredible paintings of mundane sights, such as a spill on a laminate kitchen floor or a cracked egg and a block of frozen peas in a kitchen sink, are made strangely desirable.

This desire associated with the kitchen and food becomes yet more explicit in her ‘100 Food Porn’ series. Conceived between 1989 and 1990, a few decades before the #foodporn hashtag took over Instagram, Minter explored the sensual imagery of peeling, splashing, dripping and shucking, harking back to the desire food can create as well as provoking the viewers’ sexual minds. No wonder a sign warning visitors of uncensored imagery and the show’s unsuitability for younger audiences is plastered over the entrance to the show space, stressing visitor discretion.

Marilyn Minter – Drizzle (Wangechi Mutu) (2010) Enamel on Metal. Photo: Barbora Kozusnikova.

Continuing along on Minter’s career path, the spectators are met with large-scale artworks which defy the preconceptions of photo-realism. By combining negatives in Photoshop, Minter creates compelling compositions, which are then painted by layering enamel paint on aluminium, ensuring the smooth finish and the illusory nature of her pieces. This idea of other-worldliness is further achieved by the zoomed-in and cropped viewpoints. Metallic liquid bubbles and spills out of mouths, make-up is smeared and made imperfect, graffiti obscures objects behind painted cracks and wet glass, blurred glitter, sequins and pearls create a hypnotic and visceral viewing experience, leaving the visitors guessing and perhaps slightly uncomfortable at times. The title Pretty/Dirty really hits home here – the works really tread the fine line between these two adjectives. But then, great art is always divisive. It challenges our preconceptions, makes us slightly uneasy and even alters our views considerably. Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty certainly does this very successfully and as such is a must-see exhibition for those who wish for their minds to be provoked and aroused.

Marilyn Minter – Blue Poles (2007), Enamel on Metal. Photo: Barbora Kozusnikova.

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty is at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City until 2 April, 2017.

Somerset House Welcomes a New Addition

In Somerset House’s long history, many artists have walked through its courtyard and created their works in the endless nooks and crannies of its maze-like interiors. The long legacy of vision, beginning in 1779 when the Royal Academy of Arts became the first resident in the newly refurbished Somerset House, through its many Royal Academy Exhibitions, the move of The Courtauld Institute of Art into the North Wing of the building, becoming the home of British Fashion Council and London Fashion Week, to hosting blockbuster fashion and art exhibitions as well as multiple annual festivals such as Pick Me Up and Photo London, now continues with a new venture.

From October 2016, the New Wing of the former sixteenth century palace has been transformed into a home of Somerset House Studios, a new experimental workspace for a wide spectrum of creatives. Musicians, filmmakers, performance artists, designers, writers, architects, visual and internet artists are among the first residents in the repurposed, 36,000 sq ft space, soon to be joined by 25 new arrivals. Eventually, the space will house 300 creators, inventors and originators, making Somerset House a vibrant hub for London’s visionaries.

Somerset House Studios comes at a time when London’s uncompromisingly high rent has driven out artists such as Gareth Pugh, a world-renowned British designer, from their previous spaces. Pugh laments, “there is so much about creativity and how London is this place people go to and look to, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to actually make ends meet and make things work. Responding to this very serious problem, the Studios are offering up to two and a half years of residency at a capped rental price equivalent to 2014 rates for workspaces, allowing creativity to flourish, while offering much needed security to vulnerable artists and at the same time preventing the flocking of precious British talent elsewhere. The community Somerset House Studios will create is also crucial, as musician, artist and writer Brian Eno highlights: “People sometimes think that everything artists need is in their own minds. But it isn’t: as well as talent and enthusiasm, they need good places to work, and they need people to talk to and share ideas with…it represents a lot of possibilities for creative cross-pollination.”

This artistic exchange will not be exclusive to the residents, however. Instead, performance spaces, event and exhibition rooms will showcase the talent to over 3.2 million guests which come to Somerset House each year. The first round of exhibitions, called Somerset House Studios 01 has already been a great success. Newcomer but already one of the most exciting London designers, Charles Jeffrey, hosted one of his famous LOVERBOY raves in his space during the opening night. Inés Cámara Leret conceived an out-of-the-world cube which catches the spectators’ breaths and imprints them, creating a tangible object out of our DNA, while design practice Superflux set up a fictional court case, leading the visitor from their lab through sheets of plastic hanging off walls to the crime scene itself, posing questions about the world of gene-fixing and genetic profiling. What makes this work really compelling is its interaction with the audience, a new area which art is just beginning to tap into, but is already very much at the forefront at the Studios. Exciting things are happening at Somerset House and we cannot wait to see the incredible, inspiring and invigorating work which will once again announce London and one of its iconic buildings as the leader in artistic innovation.

                                     Gareth Pugh | Sycorax | Somerset House Studios | Image by Dan Wilton
                                     Charles Jeffrey | Somerset House Studios | Image by Dan Wilton

Applications for Somerset House Studios are open until 7 January 2016.



Somerset House Studios Press Release ( accessed on Monday, 14 November 2016)

R. Dex, ‘Gareth Pugh gets a studio at Somerset House after being priced out of Dalston’ in Evening Standard (Wednesday, 19 October 2016) ( accessed on Monday, 14 November 2016)

Review: The First Monday in May

Since The September Issue came to our screens back in 2009 and the enigmatic world of American Vogue opened up before our eyes, the market for fashion documentaries has exploded. Bill Cunningham: New York; Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel; In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye; Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s; and Dior and I have been watched and re-watched endlessly by fashion industry insiders and fashion students alike. These, alongside movies such as the ever-quotable The Devil Wears Prada, have helped bring fashion to the forefront of culture, exposed what goes on behind the scenes and crucially , somewhat de-alienated and democratised the world of fashion to those outside of it. Fashion films and documentaries make the unreachable world of fashion magazines and designers human, approachable, and relatable – something fashion often struggles to be for the large majority of people.

Considering the huge success and acclaim of The September Issue and other documentaries, there is little wonder a new fashion documentary is back on the silver screen. The First Monday in May, directed by Andrew Rossi, known for his insider and expose films such as Page One: Inside the New York Times or Ivory Tower, is yet another quest into the world of American Vogue. This time, however, the world-class institution is joined by another – The Metropolitan Museum of Art – in a movie which uncovers the preparations, ordeals and, inevitably, fun, that goes into putting together The Met’s annual fashion exhibition and its famous opening night  – The Met Ball.

On the first Monday in May 2015, The Met was witness to red carpet event extraordinaire. A charity event like no other. Set up to sponsor the Consume Institute of the museum, The Met Ball is a party everyone wants to attend, but only a few make the cut. A party that sees the most glamorous fashions and amazing performances. A party everyone talks about, knows about and pores over the next morning on the Vogue website. A party which, in 2015, raised $12.5 million. Now, who said parties were frivolous?

Celebrating the launch of the China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition, models, actors and actresses, musicians, politicians, designers and fashion folk stepped out on the famous Met stairs in the best couture money can buy, all beautiful-faced and smiling at the cameras, as everyone screamed their names. Looks easy, doesn’t it? Well, this is exactly the myth Rossi’s new film works to abolish. The ball is only a reward for the incredibly hard and demanding work, sleepless nights, juggling diplomatic concerns with making a strong statement (such as displaying an image of Mao Zedong among Buddha statues), thousands of meetings, travelling all over the world and very tight schedules that precede and allow the unveiling of the magical world created inside The Met. Following the fantastic Andrew Bolton, the head curator of The Met’s Costume Institute, and his right-hand and a Met trustee, Anna Wintour, The First Monday in May tells a tale of the exhibition, from conception, through its many issues, successes and worries, to its final stages. It is a moving portrait of a man who has dedicated his life to the museum and to fashion – to showing that clothing is, indeed, a form of artwork and not a medium that can be dismissed as something irrelevant or superficial. It is, too, a portrait of a woman who is often seen as fierce and cold, but who, in the movie, shows her passions and worries, where we see her as a mother and as someone completely in awe of art and fashion, someone who even appears humble at times.

The First Monday in May has nail-biting drama at times. It is deep, intellectual, and moving. It has stunning imagery, rare cameos by John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier and the late Bill Cunningham. It marries two distinct cultures beautifully and tactfully. It allows everyone a look into the most exclusive event on the social calendar and lets those unable to visit the exhibition discover its treasures at home. Ultimately, it is loads of fun, “a Super Bowl of social fashion events” according to André Leon Tally, who is also filmed tutting at Mr and Mrs Clooney for not stopping to talk to him. Diane von Furstenberg also seems to be having a blast, strutting her stuff to Rihanna’s live performance of Bitch Better Have My Money. If it’s good enough for fashion royalty, it sure is good enough for us. Just in case you needed more reasons to drop everything and run to the nearest cinema, with 800,000 visitors, China: Through the Looking Glass topped the blockbuster Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition. Now, surely, a movie about that is worth seeing!