michael j. morris


More from Nathan Hurst

I haven’t been as free to jet down to Cincinnati nearly as often as I would have liked as of late. There has been so much of note going on (for a highly reputable listing, I refer you to Matt Morris, my twin brother, artist/writer). One series of events that I regret not being able to see if the continued exhibition and evolution of one artist/designer Nathan Hurst. I was able to attend the premiere of Hurst’s “Urban Regalia” couture line this summer (see post) and have been excited to see how he and his work continue to take form.

On 20 of September, Hurst exhibited his line in People’s Collaboration with Pump and Mitchell’s Salon. Here’s the blurb about the event:

peoples_collaboration

“On September 20th at 8 P.M. Mitchells Salon & Day Spa, and Pump Salon team up with local fashion house Urban Regalia by Nathan Hurst for People’s Collaboration, a one night fashion show fundraiser in honor of the victim of the rock throwing incident on Columbia Parkway, Joyce Baresel. The fashion show will be held in downtown Cincinnati at Lodgebar on 7th st.
For a ticket to our amazing door prize raffle just donate 5 dollars at the door. Also take advantage of Lodgebar’s generous drink specials, including 4 dollar martinis and 2 dollar Miller Lite and Coors Light. With 1$ from each Martini purchase going to the benefit of Joyce Baresel.
For more information on the Joyce Baresel incident please visit friendsofjoyce.com
Thank you so much for your support and generosity
Pump Salon
Mitchell Salon & Day Spa
Lodgebar
Urban Regalia”

This video was recently posted and it at least gave me a sense of atmosphere and the way the work was presented. Enjoy:

This past weekend, 2 October, Hurst participated in a group showing entitled “Fashion it Forwards” at Leapin Lizards Lounge. I look forward to hearing more buzz post this event, maybe even see some video/images from the show. I hear tell that it would be much more fluid surrounding the performance/demonstration of gender than Hurst’s previous shows. I regret that I had to miss it, but I was performing in my own show the next day (60×60; see previous post). I can at least offer you the blurb about that project:

“Fashion It Forward will feature an encore performance of Nathan Hurst’s Urban Regalia, designs from Toby Tyler, Lindsey Whittle + more. Music from DJ Sara Surreal & DJ Tim Cleary, performance by The Beautiful Mirage Love, Queen B and even more to come!

“Fashion It Forward” is a runway project designed to raise money for the Northern Kentucky Pride Festival 2010. The show will showcase the works of up & coming designers, models & local boutiques. The “project” utilizes volunteers, musicians, make-up artists, hair stylists, DJs, designers & boutiques to put on a mixed media show to benefit NKY Pride, now planning the first ever Northern Kentucky Pride Festival in Covington KY October 2010.

“The overall concept of Fashion It Forward is to feature garment designs that push the envelope of today’s fashion including men’s, women’s & drag in a theatrical atmosphere with music, lighting and surprises.”

Hurst is also developing himself as a photographer, and I find this aspect of his work alluring as well. I’ll offer one as evidence:

photo by Nathan Hurst; model Nina Bertaux-Skeirik

photo by Nathan Hurst; model Nina Bertaux-Skeirik

This image reminds me of images by Gregory Crewdson. Re: Six Feet Under.

Still excited about Nathan Hurst.



Cincinnati Fashion
20 August, 2009, 11:16 am
Filed under: culture | Tags: , , , , , , ,

My attention is drawn once again to the Cincinnati fashion scene by up-and-coming fashion force, The Brush Factory, the creative concept of Brittany rose Kovacs. The mission statement of the space is as follows:

“The Brush Factory is a studio and retail space that designs and produces high quality hand crafted apparel for fashion conscious men and women. It will provide Cincinnati with an exciting shopping alternative by being able to view the process and become an incubator for emerging design talent.

This organization and design co – op will provide professional development and resources so designers can establish a sustainable livelihood through inspiration and craftsmanship.”

You can read a short article about the new space at CityBeat.

You can also read more about Brittany rose Kovacs at her blog, “A Dose of Design.”

And you can view her work at the Etsy shop featuring her own line, Poncho Rose.

I have to say that even as an only occasional visitor to Cincinnati (I visit about once a month), I perceive something exciting happening in Brighton, a suburb of Cincinnati just off of downtown. Maybe that will warrant a post at some point, the exciting new developing Brighton.



Urban Regalia

Friday, 14 August, I had the opportunity to see the premiere of Nathan Hurst’s new couture collection “Urban Regalia” at his show “Off with Their Heads” at CS13 in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to the show’s facebook, “Urban Regalia focuses on a royal renewal of precious vintage finds, explores the reconstruction of former garments, and serves as a host for his [Hurst’s] original design concepts inspired by a reinvention of historical regalia.”

I haven’t stopped thinking about this show since I saw it. I’m not quite ready to commit those ideas to type yet, but I thought I would go ahead and let you in on this inspiration in my world right now. Suffice to say that it was a brilliant first showing from a talented young designer/artist:

urbanregalia_001

urbanregalia_002

You can read Matt Morris’ article about Hurst and the show in CityBeat here.

You can also see images from the show at CS13’s facebook page.

Hurst just posted this video this week. Many of the pieces from the collection are on display. What I love most about it is that just as many of the pieces are appropriated and repurposed garments, their transmogrify is heightened further in their transgression of traditionally gendered morphology on the body of the designer. Just as Hurst engages in processes of “renewal” and “reinvention” and “reconstruction” of vintage finds, former garments, and historical regalia, their situation on the male body both further recreates the garments themselves, and recreates the meaning of the male body. Amazing:

I have an evolving ideology on the concept of the actual body and the social body. The actual body in my mind has to do with biological morphology. The social body refers to the contextual connotations that we associate with the body. The way it’s dressed, the way it’s depicted, the way we think about it because of its treatment in culture. Identity (including corporeal/kinesthetic identity) is situated somewhere in the midst of these. This seems to be the hazard of any sort of focused research: suddenly everything relates to your research interests, but I love how Hurst’s work and this video in particular  relates to my interests in the relationship between the body and identity, and that relationship to the choreography of identity.

I don’t want to make too much of the video as a “video dance” (for those of you who are unfamiliar, “video dance” is a whole field of dance expression, choreography and dances specifically made to be explored/directed/displayed via video rather than live/stage presentation), but I do have critical responses to the movement in the video, not just the garments it animates. To be clear, I view the organization of the body itself as a kind of choreography, the carriage of the body, its stance, its dynamics. But there is also the movement itself. Of course the most obvious observation is its appropriation/mimicry of the runway format, the advance and the retreat, the gate of the “model” (and to be clear, I read it as meaningful that in this case the model also happens to be the designer . . . it relates to my perspective on the choreographer and the dancer (see previous post), a relationship that although different is similar in that it involves the creative action of one individual, the negotiation of that creative activity on the body of another, culminating in an event that represents the identities of both. Here, those individuals are the same, the creative activity of the one individual recreated/translated on the body of that same individual, all taking place in and through the site of the singular body), and the punctuation of poses both near to and far from the camera lens. The advance and retreat reads as meaningful to me: the retreat gives way to the advance, moving away gives the opportunity to move forward once more. It’s aggressive. I like it.
I’m also struck by the contraction of time. We know because the outfits change that a remarkable amount of time has passed in the filming, but we are given something far more surreal to be viewed, in which events occur one after another, like a series of fevered memories (memory being the space in which time becomes flexible, fluid, non-sequential). This contraction of time seems to reflect in video editing what has been done in the construction of the garments. It says, “Look again. And again. And again. Because what it once was is not what it is any longer.”
I am also struck by the gaze of the model/designer (can I add “dancer” if I am viewing the video as a kind of choreography?). While the video reads to me as an aggressive invitation to gazed upon, it’s confrontational. The model/designer/”dancer” gazes back. The viewer can actually meet his eyes (negotiated through the video . . . and I can’t even begin to discuss the politics of presence and absence in the medium of video, not in this post). When he is undressed, it is he who undresses himself, not the viewer undressing him.
I love the drama of the tossed fan, the thrown jacket, the twirl of the long white dress, the coy smiles, the laps when he doesn’t pause to be viewed, but moves towards and away in a single path, almost as if to say, “You can look, but I’m not going to assist you in your looking.”
There. That’s my brief critical dance response to a fashion video.

Oh, and this is a picture of Matt and I at the party after the show. I think we look nice:

couture_michael



Responses, and sights to see
23 March, 2009, 12:04 pm
Filed under: art, inspiration | Tags: , , , , ,

This weekend I made a twenty-four hours trip to Cincinnati. I saw wonderful art and was struck by new ideas. The foremost is something like emphasizing sensation (seeing, hearing, touching, etc.) as experience , before association, connotation or association (which I see also as valid stages of experience, but not the “new” idea). When I returned to Columbus, I took a walk to Goodale Park by the Short North and sat and watch and listened for over an hour. I didn’t try to construct narratives for what I saw, I attempted to associate it with previous experiences as little as possible. I just wanted to see and hear and feel. Here is what stayed with me:

-a wedding photo shoot. the bride is a creamy silk dress and flat shoes. the shimmering light reflecting from the surface of the little pond displayed on the folds and ripples of the silk dress in the gentle breeze.

-a group of college boys playing some sort of game where they threw balls. I couldn’t figure out the rules at all.

-a goose that sat on the rock in the middle of the pond the entire time I was there. never left the rock. sometimes it would stand on one leg.

-a woman who looked like my friend Nikki from Jackson with three small children. I slipped a little, made an association, and felt as if I was seeing a premonition of Nikki’s future family.

-an overweight couple walking around the park most of the time I was there. I couldn’t help but be pleased by people choosing to make positive choices for their health.

-the sounds of dogs and adults and children, cars, the wind in the branches, and a low drone that could have been distant traffic, but was more unrecognizable. A droning.

 

This weekend in Cincinnati I saw an exhibit by a friend Eric Ruschman entitled “My Tiger, My Heart: paintings and improvisations by Eric Ruschman” at Semantics Gallery. Eric’s paintings frequently deal with issues of childhood, innocence, and a more subtle darkness beneath the surface of these. In this work, one of his primary subjects is his feline roommate, St. Kitten. The titles for the paintings are sometimes witty (“St. St. Kitten,” in which she is depicted with a luminous, moonlight silver halo), almost always situational (“St. Kitten in the Forbidden Room,” “St. Kitten, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” etc.). The almost feel like serial children’s stories, in which a central character is traced through different places and spaces. You can read a more in-depth description of the work by Matt Morris (my twin brother) here.

st_kitten_as_salome_detail

"St. Kitten as Salome" by Eric Ruschman

 

I also had the privilege of being present for an “artist walkthrough” by my brother at his own installation at Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church entitled “A White Hunter, A White Hunter is Nearly Crazy.” During the walkthrough, one viewer referenced John Cage’s “Four Minutes Thirty-three seconds” in reference to the work, commenting how both demarcated a space in which to have an “art experience” as opposed producing a specific object/composition intended to exist as art. This was fairly central to the way in which I experienced the work. The presence of the installation elevated the details of the space that had not been installed. This elevation of the mundane is a powerful art experience, one which I applaud. You can read more about this installation on Matt’s blog here

mtauburn1

"A White Hunter, A White Hunter is Nearly Crazy" by Matt Morris

 

Both of these exhibits contributed to my desire to just see, just hear, just sense, with as little association or meaning-making as possible.

A dear friend and colleague CoCo Loupe posted a sensational response to my piece “About” that just premiered March 12-14. For those of you who saw the piece, I encourage you to read and share her experience. For those of you who did not see it, I hope it might offer you further insight into the work I produced and an experience of it.