September 24, 2013
Man and Woman. Husband and Wife. Artist and Muse. It’s a path few travel because it demands. A kind of commitment to creativity unparalleled, as standard of excellence, an ability to balance the personal and the professional, the private and the public, a kind of elasticity and mutability that comes from years past, experiences shared, mysteries unfolding, new opportunities revealed, the moment made eternal. The photograph, the space where the two meet, where time stops and what once was shall now and forever be.
Fat Girl by Carlos Batts (Barnacle Books) is a love story. It is a story of love that begins with a knowledge of self, a fearless acceptance of truth, of a way of being that is deeply one’s own, so FTW if they complain. April Flores found her happiness in the body voluptuous, the body scorned by society as this, that, and the third thing because they won’t let a woman live.
April Flores does not just live. She flourishes. She is not but a flower but a field, a meadow, a deep luscious jungle, for she is not merely muse and model, she is a feminist porn icon to (knee-high) boot. This is her body—and this is her world. And it began with her first encounter with Batts, when he suggested she put on a bikini, and after a moment’s hesitation, Flores freed herself, and she stepped before the camera, and the love affair began.
Fat Girl is a tribute to the beauty of woman as she is, as she discovers herself in all her glory, as goddess, siren, and beauty. The photograph is the space where artist and muse meet, each enchanted with the other in the self, enacting Nature’s math of one plus one equals three. The photograph lives in our world, now a thing to contemplate as a reflection of both Flores and Batts and the space in between, where all are invited to meet.
The book is an invitation into their world, and a celebration of all the spirit made flesh, manifest in each photograph, for Miss Flores is an energy, radiating fire, light, flame. She changes her image but never her identity, like a diamond revealing facets of herself, as she grows, blossoming like the flora for which her name stands.
Flores writes, “It is hard for women of all sizes to feel confident because, from the time we are young girls, we are bombarded with messages and images in the media and other places that make us feel like we can never be too thin, too young, or too successful. It is even harder for plus size women to feel good about themselves because rarely are plus sized women represented in a completely positive way. The book is my answer to that problem. This book is an exhibition of my confidence and happiness as a plus size woman.”
Indeed it is, a beautifully, thoughtfully, tastefully curated collection of Batts’ deliciously vivid celebration of his wife, the yin to his yang, the fusion of seeming opposites. Through his photographs, we come to see his vision of a world where women are creatures of completeness, knowing themselves better than anyone else. No longer do we ask, “What do women want?” so much as we say, “Yes, more please.”
Flores is more than a sex symbol, she is a symbol of the sex that inspires the act of creation, be it in life and in art, in the way that the book becomes a treasure chest to be perused at leisure. Fat Girl is one woman’s path through this world, one that is exquisitely pleasurable, risqué and erotic, an adventure in art and style, a tongue planted firmly in chic. Batts’ photographs of Flores naked but for red stilettos and a Miss Piggy mask, remind us that the truest icon of womanhood begins with the Venus of Willendorf.
Fat Girl is deeply personal, yet splendidly friendly, just like Flores and Batts themselves, their lives an open book, a collaboration of kindred spirits now pressed in inks on paper and tucked between the covers. Fat Girl reminds us that she is we and we are she is beauty is deep. It is of the skin, muscle, flesh, bone, soul, and spirit. We are lucky to witness and share it.
September 19, 2013
Joie Iacono is a diamond, polished to shine, reflecting, refracting, and bending light at she desires. A photographer, painter, designer, director, stylist, actor, DJ, and collaborator, Iacono is a many-faceted gem who best embodies the phrase, “I am every woman.” She first picked up a camera at the age of eight and turned the lens upon herself, becoming both artist and model in each frame.
“My work is diaristic; I am always pulling elements from what is going on in my life, to re-enact and perform these moments for the camera. I am an artist, a business woman, a wife, a homemaker, and a world traveler—yet I’ve been an outsider all of my life. As humans, we are such chameleons. I believe in making the world what I want it to be. My birthday is December 31; according to astrocartography, that’s the Day of the Joker. The Joker is no card and yet it is all the cards in the deck at the same time. I experience nothing and everything. In my art I am capturing the experiences I am having from a tertiary place. I am observing the changes and allowing the process to take place. My mantra for the last couple of years has been to let experiences pass through myself, rather than carry them with me. I am being a receptor, a channel, a path for these ideas.”
It is through these channels that Iacono’s imagery travels, finding its form as it makes its way through time and space. In 2003, Iacono debuted her photographs in “To Drown a Rose,” a solo exhibition in New York’s Chelsea Gallery District. Her work was met with great acclaim. She recalls, “After my success, I got shy about being so open with my life. It took me a long time to begin working intuitively again. I could hear the voices of critics in my head, or wondered what buzz words gallerists might use to pigeonhole my work, and that made me scared of success. Working on commissions for other artists such as Antony and the Johnsons helped. I could put things forward for other people, and explore where my vision and their vision would intersect. That really helped on a personal level. It got me back to myself. My work became about exploring insecurities, narcissism, vanity, beauty, self hatred and self love.”
It is now, ten years later that Iacono returns to the world stage in “J.O.I.E.”, a collaboration with Cédrix Crespel opening September 19 at AD Galerie in Montpellier. The exhibition, which features Crespel’s paintings of Iacono’s photographs, runs through October 19. Crespel’s press materials describe an admiration that borders on idolatry, a love and affection that elevates Iacono to kitten on a pedestal status. The text notes, “From this exchange emanate the grandiose portraits of J.O.I.E., with their fluorescent lipstick traces that illuminate the penetrating and piercing tints, their fluttering black satin sheaths and their cracking garters. The artist does not center sexuality in the glimpse of a thigh, an erect nipple or a moist mouth, but in these stretched forms, gloved in black, playing striptease with the arms and the hands of the model. Joie is depicted as dressed, and her finery, though light, seems like a substitutive virginity. She is passionate about her role, and she photographs herself in the poses the artist will later reproduce in paint.”
Iacono embraces all of the luxuriousness a sex kitten promises. “These works show how I see myself, and then how Cédrix sees me. They place importance on the object and this gives me the opportunity to perform, to act, to be Bardot. I didn’t have to overthink a thing. I just put on a little make up, locked myself in, and I took pictures of myself. It was a great way to blow off some steam!”
Iacono then references a Buddha quote: “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Her portraiture reflects her profound respect for her being, and the photograph becomes a marriage of inside and out, of soul and visage, of director and star, of bridges across seemingly opposite sides of life, each image Iacono creates is a collaboration between artist and muse. Two equals one in this duet that celebrates the feminine, the goddess, the siren song that calls to all in the mortal realm.
“Being human you can affect change. I’d much rather be a dolphin but they can’t effect change in the same way. That’s part of the burden. The human condition is heaven and hell. The cycles of beginning and ending, light and dark, spring and fall, death and rebirth, they are universal principles. This is a space of discovery, and of meditation. Think of crying and laughing; the place where they meet is rapturous. When we love ourselves as much as we love others, we allow ourselves to be open and let it pass through you. That’s a huge driving force in my work right now.” Which makes Iacono ripe, vibrant, and alive, her vision of self is strong and passionate enough to capture Crespel’s imagination this Fall.
September 14, 2013
August 31, 2013
I think when I first started out, I was very, very nervous and scared to even ask to sit at the table. A lot of times, to be quite honest, when I first started, I was just so picked apart and ridiculed even by my own people.
Sometimes I would say, `OK, I’m just going to stand here on the corner, I’m good. Go ahead, sit.’ And that didn’t sit well with me. And after a while, I just started pushing my way through and saying, you know, `There is nothing wrong with the way I look, there is nothing wrong with the way I speak. You guys are the ones with the problem. So move over ‘cause my seat is right here, right next to you. And I’m not going to change to fit into your sense of what is norm. That should only occur in the roles that I play. The only time that I should change who I am is when I’m playing a specific character. Outside of that, I am who I am, thank you. Now let’s eat.’
And I think that if more people took that approach, we would have much more success and we would have much more of a volume of us, if you will, at the table. But we have to find some type of strength within ourselves to say, `I am beautiful, I do deserve to sit here, thank you very much.’ And that going full circle has definitely come from being from Brooklyn, just because you know who you are. When you’re on your block, you know who you are and you feel good about it.
August 17, 2013
A Thousand Words in every language. A thousand worlds all seeing the same image. The stories captured forever and then—
We behold because what we see is always there when we look. It is in the image that we live forevermore, photographs from the Album of Life, every page a reverie, a memory .. of a shared time and a place that was and is forevermore captured on the page. It is this, the photograph, a vessel of soul, three dimensions transposed into two, the ephemeral made eternal and then—
We print it in a book, print it on the page and hang it on the wall. In this way the photograph is precious for a piece of paper is easily torn. But what holds well, endures and can be born? Cotton. It is a canvas upon which we have created egalitarian style, a casual chic that is all that is great about America. The t-shirt is a space for hopes and dreams as it stands before us to bear witness. It is this, as the billboard of the heart, the the t-shirt is where art becomes love.
Koe Rodriguez launches A Thousand Words, a new line of apparel and home design that showcases the work of New York legends Joe Conzo, Martha Cooper, and Jamel Shabazz. I’ve been waiting for this. That Dondi t-shirt! Cause, I mean, who would have ever thought? I gotta give it up. Props to Koe Rodriguez for having the knowledge and the vision to make this happen. Because it’s what the world’s been needing. Art, sweet, art.
Once upon a time, the trains actually ran, and you could see burners, throw ups, tags, whether you wanted to or not. That was live. Fly handstyles add energy to the mix. Graff is life as art, and everyone’s taken along for the ride. Just like music, block parties, shows around the way, kids inventing the world in which they want to live.
Do It Yourself. That was and it is the ethos by which I was raised, New York in the 70s. We know it, that’s why we create. What else can you do? “Be the change you want to see in the world,” like Rumi said.
August 16, 2013
August 13, 2013
Leave everything. Leave Dada. Leave your wife. Leave your mistress.
Leave your hopes and fears. Leave your children in the woods.
Leave the substance for the shadow.
Leave your easy life, leave what you are given for the future. Set off on the roads.
What I have loved, whether I have kept it or not, I shall love forever.
Let us not mince words..
the marvelous is always beautiful, anything marvelous is beautiful,
in fact only the marvelous is beautiful.
Everything tends to make us believe that there exists a certain point of the mind
at which life and death, the real and the imagined, past and future,
the communicable and the incommunicable, high and low,
cease to be perceived as contradictions.’
It is living and ceasing to live that are imaginary solutions.
Existence is elsewhere.
Photographs by Joie Iacono
Quotes by André Breton
August 13, 2013
since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
lady I swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
-the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
—e.e. cummings, since feeling is first
August 7, 2013
She was the primeval ocean and she emerged as herself of herself
and all has come forth through and from her.
She is self existent, and her nature is secret, a mystery to all.
—The Egyptian Book of the Dead
August 3, 2013
I had to get on stage so people would leave me alone.
July 28, 2013
July 27, 2013
“In the house of lovers,
the music never stops.
The walls are made of songs,
and the floor dances.”
Saturday. July 27 from 3–6pm, The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles hosts a conversation and book signing with April Flores and Carlos Batts on the occasion of the publication of FAT GIRL, a Barnacle Book. And though I cannot be there in person, I am there in spirit, writing this morning of April Flores and Carlos Batts. Writing? Well, really, listening.
The words come. They always do. It’s a river, just step into it. I sit still and listen and then I hear the words tap dance across the pages of my mind, and I take dictation and pretend these words I write are really mine. I’ma say I share in them, with this voice. But it’s not a voice, it is a compulsion to translate the ineffable into words.
So I put fingertip to keyboard and I stroke away, ratta-tat-tat like Snoop Dog said on some track off his first album. And I’m saying Los Angeles. California. There’s something in the air, the water, the light, the sky, the sun. For this is where I first met Carlos Batts, in a hotel lobby in Irvine, back in 2002. And we sat talking photography, and talking books. These things happen, and then they happen again, and seeds are planted, and the thing is, you can’t ever know, even if you think you can.
From this came that and then it took a turn. And then it circled on back. And then one day last summer i began. To put fingertip to keyboard and stroke away, and write the foreword to FAT GIRL and Miss Flores told me she read it aloud, like a poem, like a troubadour, like me I can’t not ever not, so I keep on keepinn onn. And I don’t re-read, because i can’t, not til time has long passed, and the ink has dried upon the page. And the book is releasing, and my words are there, alongside the photographs and stories that Flores and Batts share.
And I am honored. More than that. I am humbled because there but for the grace of God… I was just thinking, allaboutthat. About that song by Machine. You know that. But yea, There is a grace, a divine energy, a cat landing upon its feet, tumbling tumbling tumbling. It is always as it is meant to be. It is a Barnacle Book, and me I am fanning Tyson Cornell for making this a reality. And I am saying y’all gonna learn today.
July 27, 2013
And so it had finally come, From the Edge of the World, because this is where it is. This, yes, California Punk. 1977, 78, 79, right on to 81. Turn the decade I remember it. My first. It. Was. Big. Brave New World like Huxley said. But out in SF, we talking Burroughs. She caught him with a gun. Darby Crash. Hellinn Killer and Sid Vicious. Poison Ivy. Kids on stage. Kids off stage. All this raw gorgeous energy. Black and White. Color shots. A sweet little photo album, remembrance of things past like Proust said.
And me, quoting novelists I’ve never read, and never will, because words, they do go onn. But photos, now they be screaming, shouting, whispering sweet nothings without ever saying a word. And they embed themselves in memory just like I am there and it is happening to me, like I am hanging with John Maxwell and Roky Erickson at Mabuhay Gardens, and I’m standing against the wall and Ruby Ray is taking photographs in the mirror and it’s just like yesterday, it’s like Fate Keeps On Happening. And that’s Anita Loos, you see ..
July 12, 2013
July 5, 2013
There is nothing to prove, only to share.
Dance is for everybody.
I believe that the dance came from the people
and that it should always be delivered back to the people.
To be who you are and become what you are capable of
is the only goal worth living.
I want to help show my people how beautiful they are.
I want to hold up the mirror to my audience that says this is the way people can be,
this is how open people.
There was still no likelihood that we could make a living from dance.
We were doing it because we loved it…
We realized how full we felt; we were surrounded by music and dancing and joy.
I always want more.
All quotes by Alvin Ailey