Chalayan’s visual adventure

B-Side showcases Hussein Chalayan’s explorations of the body, of movement and of voyeurism – highlighting his fascination with form and process. From pieces represented in new ways, to those making their public debut, the exhibition at Spring Project confirms that Chalayan’s work isn’t just about radical fashion design. Here he is sculptor, filmmaker and animator.

Hussein Chalayan B-Side ©Nicholas Smith

With his inter-disciplinary mindset, the British/Turkish-Cypriot fashion designer is regarded as a leading innovator in visual culture, with a significant body of his art collected internationally.

Speed, displacement and cultural identity all play a role in the two discrete projects on show at B-Side. Chalayan describes Anaesthetics as a ‘film sketch book’ consisting of 11 chapters each based on what the designer refers to as ‘institutions which codify behaviour in order to conceal violence’.

Hussein Chalayan B-Side ©Nicholas Smith

Light boxes isolate imagery from the film. And just as music has always been crucial to his fashion shows, here the designer provides a diverse soundtrack ranging from Bulgarian choir, to songs by Antony and the Johnsons, and Chalayan himself playing the electric guitar.

Chalayan named his spring/summer 2009 collection Inertia. It contained sensational body hugging dresses with dramatic protruding backs created in rubber foam – representing a snapshot of speed and the moment of collision. The moulds are on full display at B-Side.

Hussein Chalayan B-Side ©Nicholas Smith

‘The moulds are really beautiful in their own right,’ he enthuses, adding: ‘but showing them is about process and the in-between moments. I always talk about movement and animation in my work, but this instead is the monumentalisation of the frozen moment. A freeze frame,’ he notes.

B-Side at Spring Projects follows on from an exhibition at the Lisson Gallery where Chalayan created an installation that explores music as a cultural form. The two are a reminder of the his remarkable talent as a leading conceptual artist.

Words and images by guest blogger Nicholas Smith

Hussein Chalayan: B-Side was on show at London’s Spring Projects this autumn.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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Fiona Banner: Brutal seduction

Fiona Banner’s work for Tate Britain’s 2010 Duveens Commission plays on situation and scale – neo-classical gallery space strikingly juxtaposed with two decommissioned fighter jets.

Harrier by Fiona Banner at the Tate Britain ©Nicholas Smith

Harrier is streamlined avian form playing martyr to deadly function – a trussed trophy reworked with hand painted feather markings mimicking its namesake; Jaguar lies upturned on the floor like a toy cast aside by its young owner – a polished mirror surface tying the audience to their own reactions.

Jaguar by Fiona Banner at the Tate Britain ©Nicholas Smith

Banner’s choice of subject matter shows a clear lineage with earlier works, sharing their topicality in questioning our attitudes toward war. But that much is obvious. Requiring little imagination from its audience, such subtle conceits in her treatment of these carcasses do little to divert the viewer’s attentions away from their shear presence, and it is within this context where she succeeds.

Perhaps they have more in common with those iconic works by Koons or Hirst; derided by many but lauded by the art market. And there lies the rub – the incongruity of setting is integral to them being definable as ‘art’ – remove them from the space, as they inevitably will be, and their worth might just, well, fly away. A brutal yet seductive spectacle well worth seeing.

Tate Britain Duveens Commission 2010 until 3 January 2011.
For more on Fiona Banner.

Guest blogger Nicholas Smith

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | | | Published by Banksthomas

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Batumi pebbles inspire aquarium design

These are images of Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects‘ winning competition for a new aquarium in the seaport of Batumi in the Republic of Georgia. The building will replace the previous aquarium and feature a Dolphinarium and a Zoo.

Henning Larsen’s design was inspired by the soft shape of the pebbles of Batumi beach. Project manager Anders Park notes: “It has been important for us to create a design that relates explicitly to local characteristics of Batumi while at the same time reaching out to the world. The aquarium interacts with its surroundings and becomes a manifestation of nature itself.”

Batumi Aquarium aims to be a modern, cultural aquarium offering visitors an educational, entertaining and visually stimulating journey through the different seas. The building contains four self-supporting exhibition areas, each representing a unique marine biotype.

”The building will become a landmark and an organic reference to all elements of the sea,” says Louise Becker, design director and partner at Henning Larsen.

Guest blogger Nicholas Smith

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

All rights and labelled images are covered by ©