Dream On

Time Magazine's forthcoming U.S. edition explores the work-hard-play-hard ethos of a nation that has hit the top of the aspiration charts, but is it all singing and dancing in the world of politics, pop culture and picket fences? The Making of America Issue: The History of the American Dream hits newsstands this Friday. 


Out Of The Shadows

After its official presentation at Museum der Kulturen during Art Basel last week, Hiroshi Sugimoto's latest collaboration with the French luxury house of Hermès is now available in stores and the design and production process of the twenty-strong silk scarf collection by the Japanese photographer can be viewed online at its dedicated Hermès Editeur homepage. As I previously reported earlier in the year (Silk SnapsMarch 2012) the limited edition ink-jet prints measuring fifty-five inches square have been inspired by Sugimoto's Color of Shadow (Couleurs de l'Ombre) series - based on luminous Polaroid colour gradations, this makes for yet another exciting addition to the luxury house's expanding artistic portfolio after Josef Albers and Daniel Buren whose collaborations may also be viewed online.
Below is an insight to the collaboration from drawing board to production line of the exclusive one hundred and forty art cum fashion works: each scarf colourway consists of an edition of seven, individually numbered by hand by the artist and priced at $7000.00 - an investment at a snap for both collector and connoisseur alike.  
Hiroshi Sugimoto at Hermès
Couleurs de l'Ombre will tour after Art Basel and is due to land in Brussels at La Verrière in September with further cities scheduled before the end of the year - for more details visit Hermès Editeur.
Images courtesy of Hermès


Recounting Palestine’s Stories

Left to right: Armour (Boy) & Armour (Family), 2012 at Artspace Dubai London
It was an evening where the adage, a picture is worth a thousand words, was no more convincing than in SW3 last Thursday at the opening reception of Recounting Palestine’s Stories: An Intervention by London-based charity Al Madad Foundation. Here’s an update from my previous post (Show & Tell, June 2012) which documents my own works Armour (Boy) and Armour (Family) installed at Artspace Dubai’s London outpost in the heart of Chelsea as well as contributions from the six artists who all approached the monchrome photographs in their own unique style and medium. 

Drawings by children in rehabilitation, Bethlehem
It was a pleasure to meet all the artists and be able to share our own stories behind the works that make up this diverse and narrative-rich exhibition, such as the intricate brushwork by Gemma Nelson and the equally imaginative drawings from children in Bethlehem that share the space. Thank you to everyone who made it out on Thursday – the evening was a huge success with all proceeds from the sale of the artworks being donated to Ghirass Cultural Center, Bethlehem for the continuation of valuable art and cultural activities and a dedicated education programme that helps hundreds of children from local communities in the area. 

Recounting Palestine’s Stories: An Intervention is open daily and runs to 23rd June 2012 – visit Al Madad Foundation for further information on their mission across the world and contact aya@almadadfoundation.org for details on the exhibition, artists and works on display. 
 Marie Sennyey - Fables, 2012
  Marie Sennyey - Middle Middle, 2012
  Zoe Sua Kay - The Girls Hit the Town, 2012
   Namir Alireza - Paradise Awaiting, 2012
    Namir Alireza - The Girl and The Wall, 2012
    Gemma Nelson - Palimpsest of Twilight, 2012
    Xuan Minh Hoang - Games We Play, 2012
   Bianca Brandhuber - Quilted, 2012

Recounting Palestine’s Stories: An Intervention
15th - 23rd June 2012
Artspace London
7 Milner Street
Nearest tube stations: Sloane Square & South Kensington 


Show & Tell

At the beginning of the year I was approached by London-based charity Al Madad Foundation with an invitation to participate in an exhibition that would benefit its established rehabilitation programme through arts and education that support children in fractured communities and vulnerable situations across the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. Under the direction of good friend and fellow Slade Alumni, Aya Haidar, Al Madad Foundation continues to expand its message of artistic expression and inter-cultural dialogue in order to address the continuing problems that plight children in turbulent areas of the Middle East.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to release details of the exhibition, Recounting Palestine’s Stories: An Intervention that will open this week in London as well as a few images of the prints I have been working on in my studio since February. A series of twelve monochrome photographs previously taken around Occupied Palestinian Territories have been reworked and recontextualized to create unique prints that are rich in narrative and bridge both geographical and political distance with unified conceptual expression. I will be exhibiting with six emerging artists from the United Kingdom, each of whom will contribute their personal interpretation and medium to their prints, alongside a selection of drawings produced by Palestinian children from Bethlehem – Haidar explains, “The exhibition is not politically motivated, but rather is a platform for empowering the otherwise voiceless child through the universal language of visual art.”

I was particularly interested in this idea of voicelessness. There is something magical about a child devising a story where imagination has no limits however amongst the familiar fruit trees and sunbeams found in these drawings were military aircraft flying in the sky and soldiers with firearms on the ground. I certainly remember drawing the impossible as a child – the children of Palestine are no different yet the unimaginable to many is a reality that is simply depicted in crayon. One can easily forget that innocence can also be terrifying – I wanted to help carry this imagination beyond the school walls in Palestine and extend the journey of these stories with my two works, Armour (Boy) and Armour (Family).

Exploring the notions of the subconscious and one’s own inherent emotion of protection, I based my two works around a world that undervalues loss. I personally know how the power of loss can be so debilitating, least of all when such an emotion strikes a child. Through the eyes of the children of Palestine loss is a balancing act played out in the everyday, tenuously held together by joy and fear, love and hate, life and death. I believe strength is a product of loss – armour that cannot be seen or felt beyond a smile as much as a teardrop. 
Armour (Boy), 2012
Intervention on photographic print
Nickel-plated, brass studs
By referencing the earliest need for protection and armour in the late-thirteenth century to youth culture and ‘Liberty’ spikes that symbolised the anti-materialist social movement of Punk in the late-twentieth century, I was able to introduce parallels between the loaded symbolism attributed to an object and the continual redefinition of one’s own identity and ultimately visibility during times of social divide, past and present.
The notion of armour as identity that is presented in my works expose the silent power of youth that is a far cry from the objects in which they are portrayed in conflict. In the same way I have reworked the surface to expose new narratives, the metal decoration of hundreds of brass studs embedded into the photographic landscape exposes this very invisibility of a child’s inherent armour and evolving subconscious that can never be taken away and that can never be lost - a personal construct of emotion and understanding, deserving of a child that has witnessed and acknowledged destruction: armour fit for a lifetime.
Armour (Family), 2012
Intervention on photographic print
Brass-plated, brass studs
I am very excited to be a part Al Madad Foundation’s first project with International artists in London - all proceeds from the sale of artworks will be donated to Ghirass Cultural Center, Bethlehem. For further information about the exhibition, the Middle East’s urban guide Brownbook previews the show here and look out for a report in leading pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat later this week.

Recounting Palestine’s Stories: An Intervention opens this Friday 15th June and runs to 23rd June 2012 at Artspace Dubai's new London outpost in Chelsea. On Saturday 16th June contemporary performance act ice&fire will present Palestine Monolgues at the space – for reservations contact aya@almadadfoundation.com

Follow @JMVELARDI for the latest news after its opening later this week and throughout the exhibition period and visit almadadfoundation.org to learn more about this worthy charity and it's projects for the future of children in the West Bank and beyond. 

Recounting Palestine’s Stories: An Intervention
Artspace London
7 Milner Street
Nearest tube stations: Sloane Square & South Kensington 


Brooklyn Migration

Flamingo Parade, 2010 supported by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Amidst last weekend’s Jubilee celebrations here in Great Britain, I was ecstatic to receive news from across the pond on Saturday morning from good friend and Space All Over-curator Anna Lise Jensen that my public art intervention Flamingo Parade has found a home at Red Shed Garden in the community of Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York City which hosts a Community Support Agriculture organic food distribution programme as well as a platform for education on nutrition for schools within the community.
For regulars to this blog, many will know this has been a long time coming – conceived when I was living in Manhattan in early 2009 when I was given the opportunity to participate in the artist-community initiative A Lot of Possibilities, that has seen a group of international artists working towards integrating contemporary art around the Upper West Side and Manhattan Valley, Flamingo Parade was directly inspired by the Community Garden at West 104th Street, whose charming green character I looked down on from my apartment window.
With the support of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in 2010, Flamingo Parade was realized into a 31 x 9ft vinyl banner in order for the original illustration, that had been created in situ a year before, to be installed into the urban landscape within the rare, yet determined, green spaces of New York City. 
I must say a big thank you to both Anna Lise and everyone at Red Green Shed for their enthusiasm for my work and for helping to install it last week - those of you who are stateside can now see Flamingo Parade in the garden from Skillman and Kingsland Avenues – nearest subway Graham Avenue on the L line. 

Red Shed Garden
264 Skillman Avenue
Brooklyn, New York

More images and updates are due to follow in the run up to the installation’s official launch and community gardeners’ event in late June - from the very latest from New York follow @JMVELARDI
You can also follow Flamingo Parade’s journey with an archive of news and images from my time in New York, the Upper West Side community garden to the streets of New Jersey, Bushwick and Williamsburg, across Massachusetts and the work's migration to Greenpoint, Brooklyn over the last two and half years. 

Find out more about the early stages of A Lot of Possibilities by Anna Lise at spaceallover.org to see all the contributing artists and projects around the Community Garden at West 104th Street.