John Waters, with panties. Jesse Grant/Getty Images
I went to sleepaway camp for six years, so trust me when I say that campers and counselors alike absolutely do all the sex things behind the arts and crafts shed that American Pie’s Michelle implied whenever she said “This one time, at band camp….” On especially lovely summer afternoons, I like to think back on my camp days with fondness and wonder, “Are my best days really behind me? Will I ever feel the same pure unbridled joy I did as that one time….” No, no, I won’t go into detail, but just know it was a formative experience. Oh, to be young again!
So imagine my excitement upon learning that filmmaker John Waters is planning a sleepaway camp experience just for adults this September at Club Getaway in Kent, Connecticut, aptly titled “Camp John Waters.” The notorious filmmaker behind Pink Flamingos, Cry-Baby and Hairspray is promising “a once in a lifetime Sleepaway-Camp experience for fans” where you can expect to “Relive your filthy childhood while participating alongside other trashy campers in these fun activities….” (See! Camp is a place for dirty, dirty fun.) A few of Waters’ proposed activities include:
— A John Waters costume contest (judged by Waters himself) — A John Waters dance party — Hairspray karaoke — Bloody Mary bingo — Scotch and cigars
So, that all sounds great, but considering that this specifically a John Waters-themed camp, I sort of expected the list to be a little…filthier, if you know what I’m getting at…
Let’s just indulge my camp fantasies for a moment while I rattle off some of the things I believe campers will probably be getting up to on the sly up in the woods of Connecticut this fall.
Open Egg Bar: Divine’s mother Edie in Pink Flamingos really loved eggs, so why not have an all-egg buffet in her honor. Clean protein for all! Teardrop Tattoo Party: We’re not talking about those trendy temporary tattoos here, plus this is a camp for adults, so stick and poke only.
Chicken Canoe Race: Campers will recreate Cry-Baby‘s climactic car race lakeside with a canoe race to the metaphorical death. Loser gets exiled to the shitty side of the lake for the rest of the weekend. Filthiest Person Alive Contest: It would be exceptionally hard to top the Marbles for this title considering all the horrible things they get up to in Waters’ cult classic film, but perhaps this could be an honorary title for the person who manages to do the best Connie and Raymond impression on stage. Or the person who goes the longest without showering—another thing that unfortunately happens at real camps every summer. Chicken-themed Dance (cough: orgy): No real chickens will be harmed at this event, and this isn’t a beastiality thing, but if you’ve seen Pink Flamingos then you know that chickens really get some people in the mood. Campers will bop along to innocent songs like Do the Funky Chicken and Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens, but dancing has been known to lead to other activities.
Poop, anything involving poop: For the sake of everyone attending Camp John Waters, I sincerely wish you a poop-free weekend.
A website for the weekend retreat says that the event is currently sold out, but A.V. Club reports that tickets cost around $499. Reliving your teenage sexual awakening/reenacting scenes from your favorite Waters flick doesn’t come cheap.
Installation view of 'Photographs Become Pictures. The Becher Class'. Courtesy of the Städel Museum
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In 1959, photography was still struggling to be an art form. Bernd and Hilla Becher were a young couple living in Düsseldorf, making conceptual art together. Bernd had studied painting and typography, while Hilla had completed an apprenticeship as a photographer. They began to collaborate, systematically taking pictures on an 8 x 10 of things that most people would overlook in their city – gas tanks, coal bunkers, cooling towers, shot on overcast days, early in the morning — hardly glamorous subjects, at a time when the world was beginning to go pop.
Though the couple’s conceptual art photography was having an impact across Europe, when Bernd began teaching photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1976 their legacy would begin to have a life far beyond their own work. It would become one of the most significant and influential movements in art photography’s 180-year history by completely overturning the function, aesthetic, and position of photography as an artistic medium.
Some of the most esteemed German artists of the 20th century were taught by the Bechers — including Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth — and as the Städel Museum seeks to show in a new survey of works by the professors and nine of the alumni of the Becher class, there are others who are ripe for revisiting.
In more than 200 works, the exhibition reveals – in the same city it all began – the converging interests of the Bechers and their students, and their radical approach in their era: the Bechers in the 1960s and 70s, their students in the 80s and 90s. The group can roughly be recognised by a shared interest in an objective style, and by subjects shaped by their surroundings, the architecture and objects of industrial West Germany. Both Tata Ronkholz and Volker Dohne, for example, follow their teacher’s lead, turning their lens on the local landmarks and industry, shooting it in typologies that closely resemble the Bechers’ motifs.
Other artists, such as Thomas Ruff, also clearly inspired by the Bechers’ method of shooting in series, complicates the idea of documentary photography as presumed truth, an idea that resonates even more with photographers today. Axel Hütte too, elevates the camera to present more than simply surfaces: his explorations of architecture prod at concealed social interactions, while consciously referencing landscape painting of the past, blurring the lines between the too – something Gursky is equally renowned for – that has pushed photography into new terrain until today.
With moments that are painterly, minimalist, prosaic and poetic, this exhibition captures more than the vision of a generation of artists – it’s the moment photography became art.
What Rethinking the World’s Oldest Art Fair Taught Daniel Hug about Launching a New One in Berlin
BY ALEXANDER FORBES
APR 25TH, 2017 7:42 PM
The 51st edition of Art Cologne opened today with 200 galleries from 28 countries exhibiting at the Koelnmesse through Saturday. Thirty-nine of those galleries are new to the fair this year, including international figures Gagosian, White Cube, David Kordansky, and Daniel Templon.
For the first time, Art Cologne falls during the same weekend as Gallery Weekend Berlin — a boon for international visitors, but a coincidence that initially caused a rift between key members of the two cities’ sometimes-rivaling art scenes. That tension proved productive, however, leading Art Cologne director Daniel Hug and Gallery Weekend Berlin and abc art berlin contemporary director Maike Cruse to hatch a plan for the Koelnmesse to acquire abc—and for Cruse and Hug together to revamp the September fair.
Here, Hug discusses their decision to bring the two art scenes together, changes at the world’s oldest art fair, and why Germany’s stability is as beneficial to the art market as it is to geopolitics.
Alexander Forbes: What’s next for the fair after passing its 50th birthday, a major milestone?
Daniel Hug: That was a turning point. We had the chance to rethink everything. We’ve taken a look at what we’ve accomplished over the last 50 years but also at the current economic situation and the role of art fairs. I spent the last eight years trying to bring the fair back to basics, to bring the old glamour and position back to Art Cologne. I focused on our history, and made an effort to reach out to specific exhibitors like Galerie Hans Mayer and Michael Werner, people who were historically associated with the fair. With last year’s edition, we really reached that point, we brought it back.
Now, we have to bring the fair into the 21st century; we can’t always just look back and say that Art Cologne exists because of its great history. I wanted to have a new beginning, a restart. Part of that was starting Neumarkt, to address and take seriously the cool, informed, young generation of galleries but also to broaden the field of who’s included in that conversation. We also wanted to offer galleries the option of a smaller booth to do a solo presentation without adding another section to the fair.
AF: The competitive landscape for fairs in this region is getting more crowded, whether that’s the MCH Group initiating Art Düsseldorf or the late stage negotiations Art Cologne’s parent company is involved in to buy abc. Meanwhile galleries are having to be more conservative about how many fairs they’re participating in, based on where the market is at the moment. Is that all sustainable?
DH: It’s not a good time to make a new art fair. It adds more pressure and stress to the galleries. But the idea with Berlin is basically improving a pre-existing art fair. It’s working with the galleries and with abc, bringing in our expertise as fair organizers and making Art Berlin work as a fair. A big problem with the art world is that you can’t systematize it. The art world is an irrational place: Artists are irrational, art is irrational. And what works well in one region will not necessarily work in another region. We’ve figured out what works in Cologne. Now we have to figure out what works in Berlin.
One thing that we have learned is that a lot of what makes a fair successful has to do with diversity. Art fairs are really about inclusion. The whole idea of doing a fair is about getting as many interested people involved and together as possible. If you exclude too many galleries from this or that category, the fair becomes too limited in its scope and in how many people it reaches. There’s a fine line there.
Regional fairs have tended to not survive because they can’t bring in large enough audiences. In this particular region, however, we have a unique situation. Think about it this way: To get from Canada to Mexico, you have to cross the United States and take a flight that’s maybe seven or eight hours long. To get from Belgium to Germany, it takes basically an hour and a half, driving. So geographically, there is a high concentration of fairs but also of people, so there is more room for more fairs to survive.
AF: What was attractive about revamping a fair in Berlin?
DH: Berlin has this image of “poor, but sexy,” which is actually wrong. If you think about it, a lot of the bigger galleries in Berlin basically export artists to the rest of the world and operate on a very global level. But, officially there are supposed to be 400 galleries in the city; by my own count there are about 250, of which 130 or 140 are interesting, in terms of galleries that could potentially be an Art Cologne exhibitor.
These 130 galleries do not all sell on a global level or even on a huge national level. Most of them sell locally. That means there are collectors in Berlin—and collectors that matter. Some of the young galleries I spoke to in Berlin said there are a number of new, young collectors in Berlin who are really buying, coming out of the IT and startup scene in Berlin. There’s huge potential there that hasn’t been used to its optimum.
AF: What do you think you can offer that will make the fair succeed where Art Forum Berlin and, to a certain extent, even abc ultimately didn’t?
DH: Art Forum had great success in the beginning when the important Berlin galleries were doing it. It was the advent of Frieze that really put an end to that. It really stole the show. But it’s time for a new model for an art fair in Berlin. And with the overlap of Art Cologne and Gallery Weekend Berlin, it started an interesting dialogue.
We’re still in discussions but both sides would like to see this happen, and we’ve settled on a few key pieces of the concept: It should be 90 to 130 galleries; it should take place in both halls of Station Berlin; the booths should be on the smaller end, starting at 20 square meters, 40 square meters, 60 square meters, and a few exceptions at 80 square meters. On one hand it has to be a totally normal art fair, encompassing everything that Art Cologne is; that’s what Berlin needs. But, on the other hand, it shouldn’t lose the innovative platform that abc has been so far. It really has to surprise. It’s not like building Art Cologne back up again. Berlin has a great reputation. And there are huge expectations that come with that.
AF: We’ve seen a lot of contraction of the younger gallery scene in New York and London with spaces like Limoncello, which was supposed to be at Art Cologne, closing in the past few months. Are things still stable?
DH: Yeah. You know, galleries won’t have sales for several months but then will sell 12 pieces in one month. It comes and goes but it’s what I’ve said from the beginning, the Germans love art and buying art for art’s sake. They’re not necessarily investing and speculating. There are very few art consultants in Germany, whereas in the U.S. it’s mostly art consultants. So it’s kind of a different market altogether.
The art market grows and contracts, and grows and contracts. Generational shifts occur. But Germany just has a very long tradition of buying and selling art, of collecting art. And I think the fact that there are over 200 Kunstvereins, 500 significant galleries, that every city has a major museum, it means that this tradition can’t help but continue, even if the market crashes.
This Five-Star Paris Hotel Gives You Insider Access to the Art World
BY CASEY LESSER
APR 25TH, 2017 9:13 PM
Since its inception in 1928, the Le Royal Monceau Raffles hotel in Paris has been frequented by esteemed members of the creative class, from Ernest Hemingway to Coco Chanel to Madonna. So in 2010, when the hotel finished a major refurbishment helmed by designer Philippe Starck, it was little surprise to learn that it would relaunch with a major emphasis on contemporary art. Crucial to this was the addition of an art concierge—a full-time employee to oversee the hotel’s art programs and help guests engage with the city’s art scene.
A standard hotel concierge in Paris might help guests confirm a tour of Versailles or score a reservation at the restaurant du jour. But Julie Eugène, the first and only art concierge at Royal Monceau since 2010, narrows her focus to the art world. She’s developed strong relationships with museums, galleries, and local artists, in order to craft bespoke art experiences for guests of the the five-star hotel.
“The guest only has to say ‘I am fond of photography or painting or Picasso’ and I will tell them where to go to see a good exhibition or to buy art,” says Eugène, as she walks through the hotel’s opulent lobby. She arranges for guests to gain private access to art institutions, meet artists, and, if so desired, collect art.
In a given day Eugène might guide a family of four through the Picasso Museum, an aspiring art lover on a day of gallery-hopping through the Marais, a seasoned collector on a private visit to the new show at Grand Palais, or a millennial couple on a studio visit with a local artist.
“We were the first hotel in the world to propose this service,” says Eugène. “And we try to keep the lid on it.” However, she notes, a new hotel in Paris has recently opened with a similar service.
Eugène often leads guests on tours through the hotel itself, talking them through Starck’s eclectic aesthetic, which intermingles contemporary art, antique finds, the hotel’s rich history, and slick, mirrored surfaces. She also takes them through the on-site art gallery, Art District, and the hotel’s art collection, which was curated by Hervé Mikaeloff.
The collection spans guest rooms, suites, the lobby, restaurants, and other common areas. Notable works include a giant bronze teapot by Joana Vasconcelos, which sits in the outdoor courtyard; a mural by Stéphane Calais on the ceiling of the Matsuhisa Paris restaurant; and photographs by Simon Chaput, Guy Le Querrec, and Lucien Hervé, which can be found throughout the hotel.
Hotel guests also have access to a private movie theater, where a film club convenes each Sunday evening, and an art bookstore just off the lobby. They’re also given Eugène’s weekly newsletter, which outlines her picks for exhibitions and events. (During my visit, her highlights include the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at Thaddaeus Ropac and the Eli Lotar retrospective at Jeu de Paume.)
Prior to working at the hotel, Eugène earned her degree in art history at the University of Paris and worked at art galleries in the city, including Galerie Patricia Dorfmann. She first heard of the Royal Monceau when a street artist she was representing, Zevs, was invited to perform at the hotel’s demolition party, prior to the refurbishment in 2008. Intrigued by its focus on art, she kept tabs on the hotel and snagged the concierge position when it was posted two years later. From there, she began shaping her position, developing what it would mean for a five-star Paris hotel to have an in-house art expert.
“It’s really a reason for some guests to come to the Royal Monceau,” says Eugène. “I have one guest who usually stays at the Peninsula, which is more her style, but during the FIAC art fair and other major art events in Paris, she stays at Royal Monceau.” Of particular importance to the guest, Eugène says, is the opportunity to gain private access to exhibitions.
Each October, the hotel partners with FIAC, which allows it to give VIP admission to the fair to all hotel guests. Eugène accompanies guests to the fair but also leads the fair’s VIPs on tours of the hotel. “During FIAC it’s so busy, busy, busy!” she says. “I love this time in particular.”
Eugène notes that some clients develop a taste for collecting through working with her, though she does not claim to be an art advisor. She counts gallerists among clients, too, including one L.A. gallery owner works with her in order to develop relationships with French galleries and buy works from them for his own gallery.
And while Eugène’s work is largely dictated by the hotel’s occupancy, holiday seasons, and major art-world events and exhibitions, she also devotes her time to programming at the hotel’s gallery. She proposes themes for new shows, and sources works for them, including “Icons Collection,” the current show featuring photographs of famous actors, musicians, artists, and athletes. “I think everyone will find one person, one famous artist that they love or were touched by,” she says, pointing out photographs of Ray Charles and James Brown, who were both guests at the hotel.
And while many tap into Eugène’s services for her access to the city’s beloved art museums, like a private visit through the Louvre (which she can book with a month’s notice), she’s also an asset for those who already know the city’s art well. As we speak, she’s enthused about a burgeoning art scene in the 19th arrondissement, including the Cent Quatre cultural center. “It’s where everything is moving right now, it’s the place to be when you like art.”
Eugène has helped Raffles to develop similar programs at a handful of its other hotels, like the Istanbul outpost, but she says it’s not the same. “It is very different work here because we are in Paris,” she says with a smile. “We have museums, monuments, stories, it’s different from other cities.” Few would fight her on that.