Becoming a Woman

These stunning images are part of Teen and Transgender Comparative Study, an art installation by Charlie White at the Hammer Museum in LA (update: exhibition is over). Andrew Womack describes the series over at The Morning News:

In the images in White’s series, both figures are blossoming into womanhood, though each along a different path. As observers, however, we have been taught to view the subjects in much the same way: with sheer terror.

For just as the original 1950s Invasion of the Body Snatchers warned of Communism’s impending doom, and stories of men with hooks were concocted to frighten young girls from riding in cars with boys, so often have Hollywood summer comedies acted as cautionary tales for the male who would cast his desire toward either the pubescent or transgender woman. Because in the right skirt or the right application of makeup, each has proved alluring to our hero—or more frequently, his best man, whose idea it was to move the bachelor party to Tijuana.

So while, socially speaking, White’s subjects may represent a threat to our libido, his photos present only their innocence, and hint very strongly at a sense of our own “guilt.”

The photos are extremely clinical (reminiscent of images from the 19th century of various “ethnic types,” with perhaps slight a nod to Muybridge) but the gazes of their subjects overflow with emotion: earnestness, vulnerability, and haunting self-awareness. They are looking at the journey ahead.

Over at Sociological Images, commenter EGhead loves the images, but critiques Womack’s writeup:

I much prefer the intent of the artist– to show the process of entering (physical) womanhood… although even that is problematic– to the commentary that sees these depictions of girls and women as threats to men. I’m tired of men having to enter into everything, but if we’re going to throw them into the mix, it should at least be in acknowledging how threatening THEY are to teens and trans women. This last point was touched on, but only in passing.

This analysis also neglects that society insistently refuses to acknowledge transgendered women as women, even though they are, while insistently acknowledging girls as women, even though they aren’t.

So much to say about the photos, and so many different possible interpretations. These portraits could be about the different roads people take to arrive at the same destination. They could be a meditation on the fact that what comes so easily to some has to be fought for by others. Or perhaps they’re a confrontation of one’s unwarranted assumptions: we know that the people on the right desire to identify as female, but what the desires of the people on the left, and how our world shapes their desires?

Gary Numan and His Stick of Automated Joy

Do you like blinky-lights and alien androgynes? Then I suspect that this clip from 1981 cult classic Urgh! A Music War will haunt you indefinitely. Prepare to be hilarified by Gary Numan in all his made-up and awkwardly-turned-on glory, performing Down In The Park – a dystopian single about robots and violence. The king of Synthpop slowly emerges from a flood of light and smoke on a joystick-operated mobile throne, casts a malcontent gaze into the audience and does his red leather suit justice with a surprisingly saucy performance. Far past the “suggestive” mark, Numan expresses love for his machine in a manner that may have you feeling a little dirty next time you pick up a game controller.

Take me away on your big, bad bumper car, Mister Numan! This mixture of resentment, admiration and laughter is too much to bear alone. I’ll wipe your furrowed waxy brow and you can have as much alone time with the chair as you require. Let your headlights guide us as we drive at a reasonable speed straight into the future, where we’ll start a mobile chair racing club.

Professor X and Davros

Better Than Coffee: Infinite Khan

Hi, hello, yes, good morning, my brain is broken. I’m afraid this is the best I can do.

I know. It’s scary and wrong and you’re all probably going to get gushing nosebleeds just from looking at it and loudly shout profanities at work and then get fired and hate me forever.

But you can’t tell me it isn’t oddly stimulating.

(Blame Ariana. She shows me the wrongest shit.)

Happy 100th Birthday, Errol Flynn!

Errol Flynn – by George Hurrell 1938

The centennial of Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn’s birth is upon us, cialis dear readers. There will be those benighted types who are indifferent to the occasion. There will be others who feel, medicine wrongly, that today is best commemorated by seeing The Adventures of Robin Hood. And still others, misguided, but with inner compasses not yet completely demagnetized, who will gather together to sip rosé and watch Captain Blood.

But not us. Unlike Nietzsche, we understand that aesthetic arguments ultimately collapse into ethical ones and not vice versa, at least where Errol Flynn is concerned. That there are right choices and wrong ones, and that it isn’t all just a matter of taste. There is no godless moral vacuum for us. For us, God still moves over the face of the waters, and Spanish galleons beware!

Beware…The Sea Hawk!

OK, I’ll admit it. Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood are pretty great, too. So is The Black Swan, starring Tyrone Powers. And so is Peter Weir’s Master and Commander, for that matter. But The Sea Hawk is unquestionably my favorite swashbuckler movie—which isn’t the same thing as saying it’s my favorite movie, but the distinction is so small it changes position whenever you try to observe it.

Because of their many similarities, as a child of the 1970’s and 80’s I am tempted to describe The Sea Hawk as the Star Wars of its era. But fuck that. Star Wars is The Sea Hawk of its era. Borges is right that an artist creates his own precursors, but just because George Lucas asked John Williams to model his music after Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s classic score doesn’t mean we should forget which is the cart and which the mule.

Game Over, Keyboard Cat. Game Over.

I usually do not deal in the trafficking of memery. It is an unsavory business, rife with dirty dealings and nonsense; a labyrinth of obtuse, Dadaist humor and Surrealist reasoning understood only by the hive-mind. The dank corners and fetid intricacies of such a world are no place for the upstanding lady or gentleman. No, this is the habitat of the unwashed; a city whose denizens walk the streets stinking and hunched.

Still, on occasion I have allowed myself to glimpse into this dreary plane of existence. Unable to contain my curiosity I have fallen prey to weakness of mind and spirit, like a common voyeur, hoping to glimpse the pale, smooth topography of a woman’s bare ankle.

One of the more recent memes to emerge has been that of Keyboard Cat, the now deceased feline Fatso, who appears appended to clips in order to accentuate the misfortunes of the individuals therein. It is, at the moment, a fairly popular meme, spawning dozens of videos, clogging the Intertubes like so much exuviated pubic hair.

With that in mind, I present the above clip to you as it offers a unique glimpse into the demise of such a meme. This is the ultimate, the crowning achievement in the brief career of Keyboard Cat. The day has been won, this particular contest is now over. With the help of Helen Hunt, a small dose of cocaine PCP, and the musical stylings of Hall & Oates a crescendo has been reached. The curtain can now close and the participants may now take their final bow. This show is over.

Terrible Yellow Eyes, With Apologies For Vitriol

Later this year Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers will unleash upon the unsuspecting public a vicious betrayal of my childhood in the form of Where the Wild Things Are or: Max and the Island of Misfit Baseball Mascots, the trailer for which features a child dressed like Max cavorting to the strains of Arcade Fire, making it appear to be squarely aimed at the trilby-wearing, fixie-riding crowd. Eggers is also set to release a novel based on his script based on the children’s book, no doubt filled with long, rambling passages detailing how Max was eating peanut butter with a spoon when his cat was diagnosed with feline AIDS and pockmarked with self-aware, ironic footnotes detailing how you should read the book.*

Either way people are planning on making a significant amount of lucre by tricking us all into putting down our hard earned cash to watch Max Just Wants A Hug by appealing to our powerful sense of nostalgia. In this regard they shall no doubt succeed. As depressing as this fate is to me at the very least there is some small ray of sunshine to be found in the sense that there seems to be a resurgence of interest in the book and its creator. Case in point, Terrible Yellow Eyes, a blog dedicated to artist’s interpretations of Maurice Sendak’s timeless art. Content to be homages and not reimaginings, these appeal to me in all the ways that the upcoming film does not.

[via Bibi’s Box]

*I used to eat peanut butter using a spoon which is why it is included in that joke. Also, I actually know someone whose cats have feline AIDS, although I cannot confirm or deny any occasions on which they ate peanut butter with a spoon. You’ll also notice that I poke fun at people who wear trilby hats. This is because I am unable to wear hats due the massive and irregular circumference of my skull. Lastly, you should probably just skip to the link at this point as I am probably just going to continue to make fun of post-modernist literature and complain about how Mssrs. Jonze and Eggers are raping my childhood.**

**At least, that’s the plan. It may all go horribly awry and I may just completely blow my load writing footnotes, which seems to be happening. Fuck. Seriously, get out now because it’s all downhill from here.

Crackpot Visionary of the Month: Joseph Carnevale

Via The Smoking Gun:

JUNE 12–A North Carolina man is facing criminal charges for creating an amusing piece of public art from construction barrels. Joseph Carnevale, 21, was nabbed Wednesday after a Raleigh Police Department investigation determined that he was responsible for the work constructed May 31 on a roadway adjacent to North Carolina State University. Carnevale was charged with misdemeanor larceny for allegedly building his orange monster from materials pilfered from a construction site. According to an arrest warrant, Carnevale “destroyed three road blocking barrels by cutting and screwing them together to form a statue.” Police estimated that Carnevale’s artwork caused $360 in damages to Hamlett Associates, the North Carolina construction company that owned the barrels. Carnevale is scheduled for a July 21 court appearance in Wake County.


Larkin Grimm: Advanced Shapeshifter

I met Larkin Grimm in the springtime: she and her band came over to my house for tea and stir-fry one sleepy afternoon during SXSW last March, after playing the Leafy Green showcase at Emo’s with Vetiver, Sleepy Sun and Kid Congo Powers. The next day, we bravely explored the chaotic, throng-clogged streets of downtown Austin, in search of late night Thai food and transcendent musical experiences. Luckily, we found both, and got to know each other during the hunt.

Photo by Ports Bishop.

Larkin Grimm is an elegant warrior, strong and tall and crowned with unruly ringlets. Her eyes change color, and her calm gaze penetrates even the most fortified defenses with a chthonic wisdom far beyond her 26 years.

Her legendary upbringing tends to precede her: she was raised in Memphis, Tennessee by devotees of the religious cult The Holy Order Of MANS. When she was six years old, her family moved to the Blue Ridge region of Georgia, where, as one of five children of folk musicians, she found herself largely left to her own devices. She was a wild mountain witch child who dropped out of public school at age ten, yet went on to attend Yale to study painting and sculpture. Nomadic by nature, she has rambled all over the world, learning healing arts in Thailand and engaging with entheogens with a shaman in the Alaskan wilderness. She taught herself how to sing and play music during these mind-expanding journeys, locked in dark rooms and deep in the woods, possessed by spirits. She recorded two experimental albums, Harpoon and The Last Tree, both of which were improvisational and intensely cathartic works.

The enchanting Larkin Grimm sings by the side of a lake. Shot and edited by Bow Jones.

After corresponding for years, Michael Gira (of Swans and Angels of Light) signed Larkin to his own Young God label, and was instrumental in the birth of her latest album, Parplar. In her own words regarding their time working together, “…he has this great ability to make me feel comfortable being my flamboyantly perverse Mary Poppins self, and the songs I’ve written under his whip are probably the best I’ve ever come up with, so I am super grateful for this time in my life.” Gira’s appraisal of Larkin captures her aptly:

Larkin is a magic woman. She lives in the mountains in north Georgia. She collects bones, smooth stones, and she casts spells. She worships the moon. She is very beautiful, and her voice is like the passionate cry of a beast heard echoing across the mountains just after a tremendous thunder storm, when the air is alive with electricity. I don’t consider her folk though — she is pre-folk, even pre-music. She is the sound of the eternal mother and the wrath of all women. She goes barefoot everywhere, and her feet are leathery and filthy. She wears jewels, glitter, and glistening insects in her hair. She’s great!

In a time when our culture seems to openly scorn –but secretly craves– magic, Larkin Grimm is an unashamed and forthright power to be reckoned with.

Photographer unknown.

Coilhouse: Listening to your first two albums (Harpoon and The Last Tree), I get the impression that there was something of a strange sea-change in both your music, and your mode of self-expression, kicking off with Parplar. It’s an incredibly powerful album, and it’s clear that you ventured to some fantastic other-worlds while making it. What was that process like? I’ve read that you recorded the album in a haunted mansion: did the ghosts put their two cents in?
Larkin: Well, my first album was incredibly strange. I was still thinking of myself as a visual artist and a noise musician at the time. I had no interest in songwriting back then. There were some elements of folk that came through, though, and on the second album I tried to explore my folk roots a bit, but still avoided song structure. The big change came when I met Michael Gira and we blew each other’s minds and there was a lot of excitement in our exchange of musical ideas. Michael would force me to sit down and listen to these tunes by Bob Dylan and Neil Young and The Beatles, all bands I avoided like the plague before.

Interview continues after the jump.

Going to MTV Hell With Nick and Blixa

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Nick and/or Blixa post, innit?*

Nick Cave & Blixa Bargeld announce 120 Minutes for MTV, recorded early 1994.

If anyone here can decipher Blixa‘s sinister whisper divulging the 4th circle of MTV hell (“sea of burning lead of … hippie …” something?) please leave it in comments.

*For those of you just tuning in, we three Coilhouse editors share a breathless, bone-deep predilection for all things Nixa. The depth, power and futility of our combined/confused longing easily eclipses the paltry obsessions of even the most twitterpated Twilight tween. (Say that three times fast.) Fear us. Pity us. We are lost.

Christian rex Van Minnen’s Fungal Portraits

With an Old-World, malady painterly flourish Christian rex Van Minnen creates creepy, surreal portraits using vegetables, fungi, and animal carcasses. The similarities to the work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo is immediately apparent; unlike Arcimboldo, however, Van Minnen shows no desire to render realistic visages. Using only the barest of draped cloth, and sometimes a hat, he lends his piles of detritus just enough shape to appear human, thereby making them appear that much more alien; their eyeless faces sprouting tendrils and clumps of tumor-like, vegetative growths. In that regard they are more still-life than they seem at first glance; more a window into a separate dimension than an optical illusion.

[via Cool Hunting]