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Above: Chanel shop, London, 2009.
Below: Stepanova's Constructivist dress, 1924.

There are certain sectors of the art world that crave a useful social role for art. Others see art as an activity making important contributions to intellectual discourse. Many look to art for pleasure. And then there are those who appreciate all of this seriousness, but crave the trappings of the entertainment industry too – fame, power, money, glamour, hierarchies, cultural parochialism. One year the art world is interested in this, the next year it’s interested in that. It wants to party, it wants to be scholarly. Markets go up, markets go down. At the same time as the Serpentine Gallery is showing Gustav Metzger, people are posing for photographs licking a giant chocolate facsimile of a Jeff Koons sculpture and throwing themselves on giant mounds of peanuts at the gala opening of PERFORMA 09. America elects a mildly progressive president and suddenly people scream ‘socialism’ as if the year is 1954 and Senator McCarthy is on the warpath. Everything changes and nothing changes.

Dan Fox in Frieze, January-February 2010. Full article here.

Contrasting ideas of value, time, energy and labour converge in artist Stephanie Syjuco’s Counterfeit Crochet Project:

In 2006 I created a website soliciting crocheters to join me in hand-counterfeiting designer handbags: Fendi, Gucci, Chanel, Prada, etc. Participants troll the internet and choose a design that they particularly covet, working off of low-resolution jpgs which they download. The final results may or may not bear resemblance to the originals, which is an interesting part of the “translation.”


The resulting counterfeits are both homages and lumpy mutations. Crochet is considered a lowly medium, and the limitations imposed by trying to create detail with yarn takes advantage of the individual maker’s ingenuity and problem-solving skills. I am also interested in how this project parallels and diverges from contemporary capitalist factory production and distribution channels.

As a collaboration it parallels the idea of “outsourcing” labor, but also adds a democratic and perhaps anarchic level of creativity–within the basic framework, participants have taken liberties with their translations, changing colors, adding materials (cardboard, hot glue, etc.) to suit their needs. Makers are encouraged to keep and wear their bags, in an attempt to insert strange variants into the stream of commerce and consumption. I ask for people to send me snapshots of their items to share with others.

This is an ongoing global project, with makers from all over the world. I am always seeking more collaborators, so please contact me to join up! In 2007 the project travelled to Manila, Beijing, and Istanbul for exhibitions and counterfeiting workshops.

Image: Nicole’s D&G Counterfeit

Patterns available include how to bootleg a Chanel purse; Creating Knockoff Logos; Creating the Gucci and Chanel Patterns. Also available is a useful list of ‘solidarity’ websites and links to useful tutorials.

Artist website here; project website here. This year she will exhibit at Pallas Contemporary Projects in Dublin, Ireland.

Amateur Hour is a showcase for exciting new learning, skills, entertainment and public actions. Submissions in any form welcome to selfinterestandsympathy [at] gmail [dot] com

Tshirt spotted at the Venice Architecture Biennale: Obama is the New Black.

I came across this over at the always challenging and sadly now defunct
LeisureArts, who say of the project, '[it] documents every instance of the
phrase "is the new" encountered from various sources in 2005.
It is intended to map the iterations of a peculiarly common marketing 
and literary device'.
MFA is the new MBA.
Ugly is the new cute.
Brown, white, orange, tartan, silver, pink and red are all the new black.
Oil is the new slavery.
Porn is the new glamour, and also the new crack.
Security is the new cold war.
Prequel is the new sequel.
Local is the new organic is the new kosher.
The current version above is by Roo Reynolds and can be seen here. A larger image can be seen in the originally published version in Diagram.

Ballenciaga, Fall 2008 collection

Ballenciaga, Fall 2008 collection

So, before the recession was ‘announced’ I was doing some preliminary research into how fashion correlates with economic trends (skirt lengths, volume of material used etc). A day or two ago I came across this post over at Freakonomics:


The global economic slowdown has had an upside for some people. First, it was debt consolidators and private security firms. Now, necktie companies are reporting a boost in sales as the unemployment rate rises, the Telegraph reports. The (questionable) theory is that employed men want to look sharp and thereby stay employed.

To think — just last October we were wondering whether or not the tie might be on its way out.

What other fashion trends can be linked to the ups and downs of the stock market? Skirt hemlines, of course. But in this curious slideshow, The Times’s Bill Cunningham wonders if the Dow might also be dragging down the already sagging pants of New York’s youth.


This image held here

Hype cycle graphs can be sourced for consumer e-learning and a host of techie phenomena. What’s curious is what other social trends they might be applied to…


Last night I saw the film This is England.

I’d heard good things and generally was not disappointed – was a very well directed, superbly-acted skinhead flick, to be reductive about it. Given my interest in nostalgia and collective memory, particularly in constructed memories and the collision of the pop with the political, I was interested in how the texture of Thatcher’s England would be portrayed. It was actually fairly intoxicating – Rubik’s Cubes, Buckaroo, clock radios and 80s fashion-fashion-fashion was interspersed with the Falklands war and miner’s protests. It was kind of gorgeous.

The kind of nostalgia used in the film portrays the issues (nationalism/ racism and its associated nasties) as entities discrete in time, that can be reflected on from the same comfortable distance as Doc Martens, Culture Club eyeliner and clunky analogue technology. Skinny jeans have made a comeback in recent years, so maybe this is an unfair assessment. Does ideology get recycled with fashion or is it an empty recuperation?

The throwing of the flag into the sea was an implausible closing gesture… it did strike me though that most of the significant action in the film took place within the timespan of one little boy’s haircut, which seemed accidentally, significantly poignant.

Film website

July 2020