lundi 3 mai 2010
Vernissage Magazine (english)
What’s really fun about doing an opening is the opportunity to take pictures of people who, maybe, in real life, wouldn’t be too happy having their image stolen. People think: “Whatever, it’s her day, that queen, she can get away with it”, so they are less fussy about image control. When I saw that red-head boy from FB, (whose name I’m trying to remember), exactly as beautiful as on FB, even more, and then some, it was as if Magazine pictures were taking life, as if the masculine physique was walking through three decades launching a new wave of classical beauty, like a genetical/poetical lapping, that one admires from the side, because that is the true unfairness of life, that some others can approach what we can only admire for afar, this thing, this incredible red hair.
All of this is not very original, it only takes two hundred people that you throw in the air like jacks, to see the most beautiful flowers blossom on the city pavement (see the pics here). As I no longer live in Paris, people tell me this king of gathering is rare, that the police arrive as soon as a group of beautiful guys or beautiful girls forms itself, that there are fences around the Cox to regulate the overflow. And since I don’t believe it and tell people “Come on, there’s got to be parties almost everywhere when the weather’s fine”, people look at me as if I have not understood yet.
I may bitch about mayor Delanoë and mock him when he goes to Chicago to talk about Paris, what I mostly note is that he is incapable of speaking in English, as a feature in Le Figaro tells us. When the mayor of New York was elected, the guy had Spanish lessons to be able to talk directly to his Hispanic electors. In Paris, the mayor still doesn’t know how to speak the only international language he needs to know. Two hours of English lessons a week, is that so difficult?
But I’m straying again. So here am I, red-faced after my one and only glass of Veuve Cliquot of the evening (86 bottles all in all), surrounded by loyal friends who I usually see at funerals, or in my party memories, or some that I had not seen for a long time like Médéric who was the first to arrive, or that I had not seen for 20 years like Jeanne de France, (whose portrait is photocopied in the gallery). Rolf Stürmer gets out of an envelope a picture of me taken by Unglee that he had stolen from me 26 years ago, and another portrait taken in bed, the morning after our first night together. Everybody agrees that I looked like a Kabyle boy at the time, and then Fred arrives with his new boyfriend, a huge Arab boy, built and hairy, with a kindness both authoritarian and reserved, a sure thing blend when it comes to sex-appeal. I bite my lips trying not to make a fool of myself because I adore Fred to bits and I’m always in heaven when he finds a guy who appreciates him and knows how to be affectionate with him. Robert has arrived, and so have Jean-Yves who keeps bringing big cans of beer and Jean-Christophe, teasing as always, (« Hey, there’s a change, your expo looks like your guest-room with all its collages »), and here is Julien, this 19 year-old kid met on FB, who plays guitar in a punk group he has already left : his thing is to play bare chested, and he has an huge musical culture. Richard Hell and all. He had said that he would just come for a while, because he knew nobody and thought he would feel uncomfortable, and then he spent the next two hours with Nicolas Bacchus, Patrick Sarfati and friends of his, who were all amazed to see such a solar kid with precise questions about an era from when before he was even born, and not afraid to take us into his arms for a cuddle.
It was the start of a moist evening, with a 35% thunder storm chance, ideal to put little superficial polemics on the side, with the presence of guys from Monstre and Kaïserin, (Butt was not there, how surprising), and kisses were blown in good spirits. House was also represented with a bunch of DJ’s or music people like Gilbert, Guido, Romain BNO, Daniel Wang, Patrick Vidal, Fred Djaaleb, Fabrice Desprez and Nick V, and Philippe Laugier came even though he was exhausted because of Mika. In the gallery, there were some rose petals on the floor, bought at the Carnaval des Affaires, métro Grands Boulevards, with rose blossoms, and Baby Johnson talcum powder (for no reason, a good idea is always a good idea), and even some mint branches for the divinities. I was always stunned by the openings of Saint-Germain-des-Près at the end of the 70’s, when the Greeks surrounding Dimitri Xanthoulis hung golden leaves and olive branches to the ceiling to symbolise their exile and keep alive the Hellenic mystery in Paris. There had to be a little bit of vegetal in this expo, something that would crush under people’s feet, creating an imperceptible perfume. I gave the last bunch of mint to the Algerian lady who cleaned the gallery floor an hour before the opening.
In his longing for all of his friends to love each other, Hervé Lassïnce came with Jean-Marc Lalanne, so that I would make nice. Eric Bouïs came with his gang, so did Alice, Isabelle Méda told me she had Act Up archives to give to me because her mother did not know what to do with the boxes that were gathering dust. Patrick Thévenin knew everybody in sight. I did not have the time to talk to Christophe Hamaide Pierson or Franck Boulanger, it’s a shame. Emmanuel Brunet came with his new motorbike, Olivier Köbler showed me his new car on his iPhone, I met for the first time Mustapha’s husband, who is a darling, JC Breysse had an outstanding T-shirt from Provincetown (yawn), Nicolas Giordano was as sexy as in his pics, there was a fabulous bearded/built Arab guy who worked in the Franprix opposite, whom I complimented because his shop was as cold as the coldest air-conditioned shops in New York, but I think he did not take it well, he probably thought it was a ecological remark, and everything went well, even the security guy who was so nice and beautiful that we could have chucked everyone out and keep him only it would have been enough (frank handshake, direct eye-contact, a perfect study subject for a Magazine portfolio, a nice guy already).
There was a misspelling of « antediluvian », in the expo text, (typical of me using a word I don’t know), and Christelle told me that people thought I had affronted some air on purpose under the poster, but I told her no, these bubbles were there simply because I didn’t do my job well.
I think that Magazine, 23 years after it ended, attracts as many freaks as before. It was not an expo designed to show how it was done before, to establish some sort of superiority, it only takes one look at the lay-out of this fanzine to see its fragility. It was the occasion to throw on the side-walks of a city people who have known the 1980-1987 era, those who survived, how we don’t know, those who have heard of Magazine, and the other curious ones. Many of the comments were about what had changed in the photographic style of the era, and the risqué side of the erotic drawings we published, that would be surely difficult to publish nowadays.
About the way all of this was still modern, as well as being passé. I told Kaiserin that what attracted us was the look of the model into the camera’s eye. At the beginning of the 80’s, this direct look was rare, it implied a need to assert oneself in front of the photographer and therefore in the face of the outside world. Or, on the other end, all the photographer’s work was to convince the model, never a professional, to stare for a long moment into the camera or at some distant point out of focus. There is a lot of pose and stillness in these pictures, we see a lot of frozen boys, or in Unglee’s work, a lot of crossed arms, which is often an easy trick to get rid of the model’s stress. We did not publish a lot of movement, like it is done today, we did not try to “tell a story” as in fashion. Every 6 months, we went to see photographers and asked them to show us their most secret work, not necessarily the images that would be the most successful, the most commercial. We were looking for the most personal ones, the ones that proved experimenting, that showed their latest findings.
We were into model worship. I think that what differentiates us fundamentally from the current press was our obsession for the masculine anatomy. When I’m in the metro, I always focus on a face that appears, and they are everywhere, and they need a portrait to be taken. While I was gluing photocopies of Magazine on the walls of the gallery, a quote by illustrator Czanara appeared at random in front of my eyes, it said something like « I am done with physical beauty, but I am still not done with the face ». Well, I’m not done with neither of them, and I am always subdued when I see an Arab boy or a black boy who would deserve to be famous, or an Asian boy with a little something that we are not used to in France, or a young Pakistani guy who should be a star. Faces change. They should be celebrated, credited. Melting pots produce new wonderful things. Eyes are different, so is the hair implant, the mouth movement are not the same depending on the language, culture affects even the way people put gel in their hair.
At the time of Maga, I was more reactive to the photographs of George Dureau, an American artist who worked a lot in New-Orleans, than the portraits of Maplethorpe, for instance. Dureau showed black people from the South as they really were, some without a leg, but always with a sex-appeal enormously more powerful than Maplethorpe, as efficient as he was. I could stare at these portraits for a long time, as well as the ones by Duane Michaels. It’s easy to understand: these are artists who are into the admiration of others, when Maplethorpe was already into the admiration of himself, of his own style, which makes him much more commercial.
At 9pm, the door to the gallery closed. Just before that, I managed to get Kriss in, (he had just arrived and had not seen the expo) and I introduced him to Sébastien Lucaire who is a big fan of Kriss Bab El Ahlam’s posts on FB. When I saw Sébastien arrive, an hour earlier, I said to him « Wait here », and I gave him the only frame that did not find its place in the expo. It was a portrait of Michael Clarke, taken during a shoot at Patrick Sarfati’s 25 years ago, and since I had met Michael Clarke and the BodyMap gang with Jeffrey Hinton through Sébastien, I thought it fair to give to him. Alfredo Piola asked me how much I sold these exposed pictures and I answered, in pied noir mode, « cheap cheap » and Robert pulled a face because it IS cheap (as in « You’re really daft Didier, you should charge more”), and Alfredo optioned the portrait of the Redskins guitarist. JC Napiz, the editor of my chronicles book in Libé came, always a bit stressed, because the book is one week late at the printers. Night was falling, and it was becoming a little bit chilly, people were leaving slowly, and there were about 50 friends sticking around. Rolf was asking if Pascal Ferrant had come and how was Misti, who did not come either.
We went to eat au Phénix with the DJ’s and the people from the gallery and Red Bull, my husband began to talk politics, and Laurence’s ex boyfriend arrived, a man called Fred, I think, tattooed, who looks like he was battered at surfing, but I was told it was more like in hip hop battles. Very beautiful, very classy, with a rundown air, sort of guy who’s been through stuff in foreign places, see ? But the most beautiful guy of the evening, the most outstanding was the one working at the Rex, a butch tattooed hairy guy, with a face so attractive that you don’t know if you must spend the few seconds in front of him, looking at his face or his body. An A Class guy, who looks like a straight guy who looks gay who looks straight who looks gay who looks straight who looks gay, etc. Elodie Boisseau was noticing Marc and my wowing of him and I said in a low voice : « Oh you know, we are just meadow flowers », and at the same time I had in mind that melody Uma Thurman sings in «The Producers » : « That face, that face, that beautiful face ! ».
Sometimes, I wonder if girls understand our gay obsession with the male face. Of course, they understand, but it’s as if they find it hard to admit it. Peggy, when she last came to my place to work on the site, ended up by telling me that she was overwhelmed by these collages on my walls with pictures of men. When I asked her if lesbians had the same fascination for women’s faces, she answered : « I don’t think so, no ».
- « You mean lesbians are not in love that much with women’s faces ? I hope you’re joking ?»
- « Yes, but not as far as sticking them on the wall, it’s more abstract than that ».
This is maybe, the last word, (for the moment), on this Magazine expo. I photocopied pictures we published in Maga because I think that is, along with the erotic drawings we published, what made this fanzine something apart. Of course, there were interviews and the nice little central adverts that went with the porno short stories, but I only had two walls at my disposal and had to really focus on the work of all the artists who worked for Magazine for free. I know that collage and photocopies are a really cheap media in today’s galleries, I suppose nobody does that, although I could write a long story about what I think of collage, why this technique is still relevant, why it’s a very 70’s thing, very Biba, very simple to make, and very attractive in terms of idea association. But the thing is, I had to present the work of the photographers and the erotic illustrators. That’s the most important thing. When Magazine will be numerised on this site, we will be able to describe in more detail what we were trying to say in the interviews, and after all, you can read a few on the walls of the expo, but the most beautiful thing that remains is the face, in black and white, the memory of these men, what they have become, if they are alive or not, how their life has been since these portraits were taken, what they gave us while we dreamed in front of their image, how the look on their face has influenced our way of living and fucking, if we have tried to imitate them or not.