Friday, June 22, 2018

Magical Cities of Paper and Dreams ...

~ Bodys Isek Kingelez built stunning, colorful models to 
help people see the magnificent places in his mind. ~
Ville de Sète 3009. 2000. Pierre Schwartz ADAGP; 
courtesy Musée International des Arts Modestes (MIAM), Sète, France

As always on Enchanted Revelries, you can click each image
 to get a larger picture to examine more closely. 

“If you succeed in building a model,” Bodys Isek Kingelez once said, “you visualize what is inside of you.” Ultimately, the Congolese artist made his work to give others a look at what was possible.

A new exhibit at MoMA, Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams, shows the late artist’s stunning and almost impossibly intricate sculptures made largely of paper products, paint, and glue. A mix of existing architectural styles and fantastical imaginings, the buildings are examples of what Kingelez wished the world could contain.
 Kinshasa la Belle. 1991. (Maurice Aeschimann. 
Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection)
In Place de la Ville 1993, the city square is lined with the colors of the Zairian flag, and bears a red placard with the letters “MPR,” which stand for Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution, the nation’s ruling political party before it ultimately collapsed in the 1990s. Much of the artist’s work was influenced by Zaire’s independence from the Congo in 1971. Kingelez wanted to participate in the new country’s nation-building, but wasn’t sure what his role could be.
Place de la Ville. 1993. (Courtesy The Museum of Everything)
One day, while homebound with a fever, he built his first sculpture using a razor, paper, and glue. A neighbor encouraged him to show it to the staff at the National Museum of Kinshasa, who were so stunned by the work they had Kingelez make another sculpture in front of them to prove that he was in fact the creator. Kingelez became an art restorer for the museum before devoting himself full-time to his art.

His structures look like elements in a carnival: vivid, colorful, fine-boned but sturdy. In a 30-minute documentary that accompanies the exhibit, Kingelez says that “a building without color is like a person without clothes.” And his colors speak to his bold, direct vision. The palette is too loud to be Wes Anderson, the designs too intricate and upright to be Dr. Seuss.
Stars Palme Bouygues. 1989. (Vincent Everarts Photography Brussels)
The titles of Kingelez’s pieces include dates, but they don’t necessarily demarcate when the piece was built. Ville de Sete 3009, for example, contains structures that are real as well as some that are purely products of his imagination. “Even though he was incredibly optimistic about the idea of what Zaire could be for its citizens, at the same time he was faced with reality [and] offering optimistic alternatives,” Sara Suzuki, the exhibit’s curator, said in a MoMA Live interview. “He knew that during his lifetime it was unlikely. He set dates in the future, but suggested that there is a path.”

It’s a reflection of Kingelez’s optimism: Even if the structures he yearned for didn’t exist in the present, they could, perhaps, in the future. He created buildings like the Scientific Center of Hospitalisation the SIDA 1991 in the midst of an AIDS epidemic in Kinshasa (AIDS is ‘SIDA’ in French). The structure was an advanced medical center: part hospital, part research lab, and made entirely in Kingelez’s warm, vibrant style.

Kingelez’s interest in nation-building is a thread that can be seen through much of his work; the sculptures focus on buildings, cities, and architectural styles—not so much as they are, but as they could be. His work Kimbembele Ihunga 1994, is not a single structure but a city named after the village where he was born. Of the work, Kingelez, who died in 2015, once wrote that it “represents the shape of my imagination; it is the very image of my ability to create a new world.” With its skyscrapers, vivid colors, and well-planned streets, the city little resembles the agricultural village that is its namesake. But he wanted to imagine what it could be through labors of love and urban planning.
 Kimbembele Ihunga. 1994. (Maurice Aeschimann. Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection)
“He says Kinshasa is a tough city and it’s awful on the work, because the climate is not good for work on paper, but it’s home,” said Suzuki. “That’s where is family was, and it’s the city that really inspired him. Going back to being part of nation-building, trying to engage in that, that was something critical to him for his whole life.”

MoMA’s Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams is on exhibit through January 1, 2019.

Be sure to check out the offerings of other participants on Beverly's Pink Saturday blog hop.

And then go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan
Artist Bodys Isek Kingelez and
more of his work

Friday, June 15, 2018

"Oh, No ... They Didn't!"

In true fashion of the era, Victorian scandals were as prim as they were preposterous.

The Queen was no exception.
Her reign nearly ended before it began thanks to an accusation. No doubt a ploy to discredit Sir John Conroy, Victoria made veiled accusations targeting a lady-in-waiting who’d recently presented a swollen abdomen. . . and had been most recently traveling alone with the manipulative controller.

Adamant of her purity, Lady Flora Hastings humbled herself to the court’s suspicions and, to her great humiliation, submitted to an examination by the royal doctor.

Her diagnosis of liver disease proved Lady Hastings was, in fact, not with child. Further, it confirmed to Queen Victoria’s adversaries that she still was one.

The 'baby scandal' wasn’t the only scandalous plot that backfired.
 Mathilde Kschessinskaya
He called her “that nasty little swine,” with good reason.

In regards to her ballet, choreographer Marius Petipa could appreciate —perhaps even admire— Mathilde Kschessinskaya. She was Prima Ballerina of the Imperial Ballet. It was a title no Romanov could secure on her behalf. And, it seemed, no one could strip her of.

Though not for lack of trying on Petipa’s part.

He repeatedly casted her. Each role was cruelly revised with intensified choreography.
 Marius Petipa
But still, she rose every occasion until Petipa discovered a young dancer.

When Olga Preobrajenska seized the coveted role in La Fille Mal Gardee, Mathilde sought to sabotagee Petipa and his production. A unique aspect of the particular ballet included live chickens. 

During the first act, Matilde freed the fowl from their coops.

At the resounding first note of music, they flailed onto the stage.
Following tradition, the show went on, ending in thunderous applause, from an audience enchanted with the notion of live poultry on the stage.

And yet another scandal was averted and the victim of a ruse was vindicated.
 Actress Lily Langtree
Actress Lillie Langtry had many a dalliance. Perhaps no lover was more famed than Edward, the Prince of Wales.
 She may have been a married woman, but she took her title of official mistress most seriously. Once Langtry arrived at a costume party wearing an identical costume to that of the one Edward had donned for the event.

He was not amused, and Langtry was not impressed by his tantrum. She promptly dropped an ice chunk down the back of his shirt.
Of all the etiquette to abide by in Victorian society, kissing in public was the height of impropriety.

Therefore, when Thomas Edison released the first on-screen kiss in 1896, the 23-second reel shocked viewers.
 This footage is often confused with another kiss scene, mistakenly credited by some as cinematic appearance of a kiss — it was, however, filmed in 1900 in Edison’s new glass-topped studio in New York City, and was quickly banned in most theaters. The two lovers remain anonymous.

According to Brain Pickings, “the act of kissing was referred to as ‘sparkin’ if it took place indoors, usually the parlor, or ‘spoonin’ when performed outdoors, in a secluded spot far from the public’s eye.”

 Harry Houdini
Few knew the true genius of Harry Houdini’s illusions. He’d made a name for himself mastering impossible handcuffs, locks, and safes. No one knew better of their limitations.

With such knowledge, it’s surprising he entrusted a safe, of all things, with love letters from mistresses.

His widow discovered them, of course. Imagine after the lighthearted marriage they'd shared! After Harry told her that magic “is something that happens when we’re together.” After years of keeping his secrets. . .

It was her turn to have a trick up her sleeve.
                                                                        Harry and Bess Houdini
Rather than seek out audience and submit the correspondence for newspaper publication, Bess Houdini invited the “other women”
to tea at her home. After their visit, each prepared to take her leave. But not before accepting a parting gift, her letters.

And then, to talk About Russia With Love!

“Quite cross about it,” a young Queen Victoria had no more sat down to dinner than tsarevich Alexander II arrived with his entourage of 70. Finally. A telegraph had alerted her to his delay. She ranted in her diary of “What a contretemps!”

Her vexation soon dissipated. The apparent heir’s agreeable company wouldn’t allow for it. Nor would his appearance fail to charm. For Alex was dashing and a lady’s man.

And in spite of being mother to a nation, Victoria was still a young woman.
 Queen Victoria and Alexander II
Together, they swept across the dance floor until three in the morning, Alex claiming an inappropriate number of dances.

The Grand Duke flirted in French and in a whisper only she could hear.
Victoria offered Alex a seat in her opera box. Behind the curtain, the besotted royals cared not of their breach of decorum.

However, Alex could not be ruled by his heart when he was meant to rule. Tsar Nicholas refused for his son to submit to that of a prince consort.

Following a farewell dinner in his honor, the lovers danced.

Spellbound, she wrote, “the Grand-Duke is so very strong, that in running round, you must follow quickly, and after that you are whisked round like in a Valse, which is very pleasant […] I never enjoyed myself more. We were all so merry; I got to bed by a 1/4 to 3, but could not sleep till 5.”

Throughout her reign, Victoria carried on several romances. Her marriage to Prince Albert shadows other dalliances. Still, there is another scandalous love. . . Only, it is more of a tender Victorian love story.
  Photographs of Queen Victoria and John Brown
Known as Prince Albert’s favorite servant, no doubt, the relationship with his sovereign assumed from a felt need. In light of her grief at the death of beloved Albert, Scotsman John Brown struck a playfulness. The banter between them livened her spirit.

With time, Victoria promoted “the most trusted, the most dear friend” to be her personal servant.

Even his billet changed to be the room adjoining hers. Scandalous but not surprising considering

John was charged with keeping her secrets as well as insuring her safety.

Contrary to the well-preserved correspondence with the prince, the royal family expunged much of what transpired between the queen and her servant from record. A forbidden affair, no matter how platonic, would do the crown no favours.

Always though, there will be the ring.

The Highlander gifted Victoria with his mother’s wedding band which Queen Victoria wore to her grave.
Well, I have to call a halt to the fun and get back into the studio. But, we'll get together for a good bit of gossip and 'ear-bending' in the near future!

And be sure to check out all the other fun offerings on today's Beverly's Pink Saturday blog hop!

Now, go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan


Friday, June 1, 2018

Cuddle Up to That Typewriter ...

 Her name is Ulla-stina Wikander.
She is from and lives in Sweden.
She is an embroidery and cross-stitch artist.
I believe the photos speak for themselves.
As always on Enchanted Revelries, you can click an image to enlarge 
it and examine it more closely!  

Thanks to Beverly for hosting "Anything Goes" on her Pink Saturday blog hop. Just click to see all the other participants' Pink Saturday offerings!

Now, go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan
 Swedish Embroidery and Cross-Stitch Artist Ulla-stina Wikander

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Dark Cloud of Joy

It's surely no coincidence that the birthday of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson falls on National Tap Dance Day! 
Perhaps the best-known African-American in vaudeville (then and now), Bill Robinson left us a confusing hodgepodge of legacies. His life was a mass of contradictions perhaps best exemplified by his stage handle: “The Dark Cloud of Joy.” On the one hand, he is called by African-American scholar Donald Bogle “the quintessential Tom” for his cheerful and shameless subservience to whites in motion pictures. On the other hand, Robinson was in real life the sort of man who, when refused service at an all-white luncheonette, would lay his pearl-handled revolver on the counter and demand service. An illiterate, he was to become the unofficial Mayor of Harlem and one of the richest and best-known African Americans in the country. Even the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band song “Mr. Bojangles” which everyone assumes is about him, isn’t. (The song is about a hobo; Robinson was a class act in top hat and tails).
He was born Luther Robinson in Richmond, Virginia in 1880. A perhaps apocryphal story has him beating up his brother William, two years his junior, until the latter allowed him to appropriate his name. (The real Bill was forever after known as “Percy” – it must have been a sound drubbing.) The boys were orphaned around 1885 under mysterious circumstances, and raised by their grandmother and various foster parents. Robinson was a latchkey kid, largely shifting for himself, earning his own way by shining shoes, occasional theft and dancing for tips on streetcorners. He got his famous nickname after stealing a beaver hat from a local merchant Lion J. Boujasson, whose name no one could pronounce.

In 1892, he hopped a freight train for Washington, D.C. with a white friend named Lemuel Toney (who later went on to become Eddie Leonard, a major blackface star in minstrelsy and vaudeville). His first professional gig was the part of a “pickaninny” role in the show “The South Before the War” which toured the northeast. By 1900, he had made his way to New York. The following year, he won a prestigious dance contest at a Brooklyn theatre against a man named Henry Swinton, then considered the best dancer in the business. In the audience were the likes of Eubie Blake and Walker & Williams. He began to work with various partners and rapidly became one of only six African-American acts booked regularly on the Keith circuit. In 1902 he teamed up with a successful comedian named George W. Cooper, laying aside his dancing to become the comic foil for a period of 12 years.

When the team broke up in 1914, Robinson approached a big-time manager named Marty Forkins with a unique proposal. At the time in vaudeville the “two black rule” was in full force; African Americans were seen on stage only in pairs. Robinson proposed to become the first black solo act. In addition to being socially groundbreaking, the move had the virtue of being a very good gimmick, a must in vaudeville, and so the two forged ahead.

Robinson rapidly rose to become one of America’s best loved entertainers. His act was an amalgam of little steps and moves he had copped from others, then stitched together into a sequence that was greater than the sum of its parts. He worked his alchemy by rehearsing and performing the act so much that he could do it in his sleep, and then “selling it” through the sheer force of his infectious personality. His smile was called “a beacon”. He would intersperse his routines with little jokes and remarks, such as the famous “Everything’s copasetic!” (a word, incidentally, which Robinson invented). In 1918, Robinson introduced what was to become his signature bit, “the stair dance”, stolen of course, but thereafter irrevocably his. By 1923, he had reached the number two spot on the bill at The Palace (or next to “next to closing”) – the highest spot to which he could aspire given the prejudices of the times.
As vaudeville began to wind down, Robinson was one of the lucky and talented few who not only kept working, but who actually became more famous. He starred in a number of revues, such as “Blackbirds of 1928” and “The Hot Mikado”, performed in top nightclubs in Harlem and elsewhere, and co-starred in numerous movies with the likes of Will Rogers, Lena Horne and – most famously – Shirley Temple. A variation of his stair dance can be seen in the Temple-Robinson vehicle The Little Colonel (1934).
Robinson used his power and influence to break new ground for African Americans on several fronts: he was the first African-American solo act in vaudeville; he refused to wear blackface; he fought for (and achieved) the racial integration of countless social and cultural events in the north and the south; he was the first African American in a Hollywood movie whose character was responsible for safeguarding a white’s life.

Like all the top vaudevillians, he was an obsessed workaholic, either practicing or performing constantly, sometimes doing five shows a day by choice. He said that he danced best when totally exhausted; it took the edginess off his performance. He wore out 20-30 pairs of tap shoes a year-roughly one every two weeks. It is said that he literally danced himself to death. After a series of heart attacks, the doctor advised him to quit in 1948. Robinson maintained that though he had trouble walking, talking sleeping and breathing, when he danced he felt wonderful. He died a few months later.
 Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
(May 25, 1878 – November 25, 1949) 

Now, go make something beautiful!

¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)(¸.•´
(¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥ 

In Illinois, a police dog trainer is threatening that legalizing marijuana in the state will lead to the euthanization of police K9 dogs — and an Illinois Sheriff is agreeing with him. This is a horrible attempt to use animal cruelty to stop marijuana legalization. 

No matter how you feel about the legalization of marijuana, I'm sure we all can agree that the murdering of police K9 dogs has nothing to do with the discussion.

I just signed the petition, "Prevent Illinois from Killing Their Police Dogs." I think this is important. Will you sign it, too?

Here's the link: CLICK HERE