TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT May 2010

TOP TEN

Ligia Dias

Swiss-born Ligia Dias is a designer based in Paris. From 2002 to 2005 she worked under Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, before launching her own jewelry line, Ligia Dias Colliers. She has since collaborated with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Comme des Garçons, and Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret and was a recipient of the 2009 Association Nationale pour le Développement des Arts de la Mode (ANDAM) award for Best Young French Designer. A solo exhibition of her new work opens May 7 at Art Since the Summer of ’69 in New York.

  1. TAKAKO MATSUMOTO, YAYOI KUSAMA: I LOVE ME (2008)

    What do we learn watching this documentary? That Kusama is still obsessed with polka dots, eyes, faces, shoes, and marking lines on huge spreads of white canvas, taking years to complete a series of fifty paintings. We also learn that she is an avant-garde artist and not an abstract one, that she loves cherry blossoms, that she wears pink wigs as we do hats, that she has a sense of humor, and that she is . . . a genius? I remember this amazing solo exhibition in 2001 at the Maison de la Culture du Japon in Paris. Little lights, polka dots, darkness, afterimage: Being surrounded by Kusama’s art is like diving into a tropical sea, quietness.


    Takako Matsumoto's Yayoi Kusama: I Love Me, 2008. Trailer.

  2. GIL SCOTT-HERON, “THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED” (1971)

    This is my favorite song, even if it is maybe too obvious. I first started listening to Scott-Heron’s music before I could understand his words. Many years later, I feel no less touched hearing his simple, delicate way of talking about everyday life in a country that’s yours but to which you don’t belong.


    Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, 1971.

  3. ÁLVARO DE CAMPOS (AKA FERNANDO PESSOA), ODE MARITÍMA (1909), STAGED BY CLAUDE RÉGY (THÉÂTRE DE LA VILLE, PARIS, 2010)

    Imagine two hours in the dark listening to one man as he, almost singing, attests to his love for the sea. Standing on an imaginary wharf on the banks of the Tagus River, watching the boats as they arrive and leave, he recounts the past, his Lisbon childhood. Os Lusiadas is certainly the main reference, an epic poem from the sixteenth century by Luís Vaz de Camões. Anyone with a Portuguese passport has seen the story illustrated. But on that night in Paris, it was Pessoa’s words that spoke to me: The best way to travel is to feel.

    Álvaro de Campos (AKA Fernando Pessoa), Ode Maritíma, 1909. Performance view, Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, March 2010. (Jean-Quentin Chatelain). Álvaro de Campos (AKA Fernando Pessoa), Ode Maritíma, 1909. Performance view, Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, March 2010. (Jean-Quentin Chatelain).
  4. ANNI ALBERS, HARDWARE JEWELRY (CA. 1941)

    I based my first jewelry pieces on the necklaces Albers designed in the 1940s after the Bauhaus closed. My two favorites: an assemblage of steel washers fastened together by grosgrain ribbon, and a choker featuring hairpins dangling from a metal ball chain. So simple and effective! Albers juxtaposed standards of the hardware industry with elements that represent luxury; letting this approach guide each of my own collections, I’ve made her statement mine: Pearls are equivalent to washers, timeless.

  5. ERIC ROHMER, LA COLLECTIONNEUSE (1967)

    The story of a teenager becoming a woman, “collecting” boys along the way. The scene: the south of France by the sea, people on holiday in a remote country house enjoying doing nothing, farniente, a vacation of simple pleasures in the summer heat. Nothing is really happening. Everything is quiet, rocked only by love, hasard, fate—life just as it is.

  6. MERCE CUNNINGHAM, NEARLY 90², 2009 (THÉÂTRE DE LA VILLE, PARIS)

    I had long known about his collaborations with John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg, but it was when this legendary choreographer collaborated with Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo in 1997, with Scenario, that I became deeply excited about his work. To see Cunningham’s dancers dressed in Kawakubo’s hunchbacked, padded, checked leotards, I would have done anything. However, only this past summer did I finally see one of his performances—Nearly 90²—and the costumes, although not by Kawakubo, did not disappoint: simple black catsuits designed by Romeo Gigli that variably transformed into winglike, slashed second skins. Cunningham’s work can be seen at Paris’s Théâtre de la Ville this season.

    Merce Cunningham, Nearly Ninety, 2009. Performance view, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, April 15, 2009. Emma Desjardins, Brandon Collwes, Andrea Weber, and Rashaun Mitchell. Photo: Stephanie Berger. Merce Cunningham, Nearly Ninety, 2009. Performance view, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, April 15, 2009. Emma Desjardins, Brandon Collwes, Andrea Weber, and Rashaun Mitchell. Photo: Stephanie Berger.
  7. FICTIONS/LE FEUILLETON, FRANCE CULTURE RADIO (MONDAY–FRIDAY, 8:35–9:00 PM)

    Some days while working in my studio, I prefer listening to people talking on the radio to listening to music. So if I’m there late into the evening I tune into Fictions/Le Feuilleton. Over the course of several episodes you can hear an entire literary masterpiece or original contemporary text. One of my recent favorites was the story of a woman working as an embalmer. The text wasn’t sinister at all. She loved her job, as it allowed her to make the faces of the dead more beautiful than they had been in life. And there was also a piece of historical fiction recounting Bob Dylan’s life from childhood to fame. Sometimes I almost completely lose track of what I am doing when I listen to this show. Strangely, it helps me to concentrate on my work.

  8. HENRY DAVID THOREAU, “WILD APPLES” (CA. 1850)

    It was while listening to more France Culture Radio that I first became interested in Thoreau—during the program Les Nouveaux Chemins de la connaissance (The New Paths of Knowledge), hosted by French philosopher Raphaël Enthoven. He was discussing how the nineteenth-century naturalist believed in a symbiosis between nature and human beings, regardless of species, origin, or culture. Apparently, since then, environmental and social issues haven’t changed much. In his short essay about wild apples, Thoreau tells us that the fruit you grab from the tree tastes better than the fruit bought at market. This theory could definitely apply to my daily life.

    Portrait of Henry David Thoreau, ca. 1902. Portrait of Henry David Thoreau, ca. 1902.
  9. MADELEINE VIONNET AND JEAN DESPRÉS AT THE MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS (PARIS, 2009–10)

    Certainly, Vionnet is a main reference for any fashion designer. Her work is the pure essence of cut, draping, and material transformation. And yet Paris has been waiting almost fifty years for a major exhibition of this French visionary’s work. Finally opening the treasure boxes that the designer donated in 1952, the Musée presented more than one hundred garments, along with dress patterns and photographs. A double gift, as at the same time the work of modernist jeweler (and Vionnet’s contemporary) Després was being shown elsewhere in the museum. As a teenager, Després apprenticed as a metalsmith in Paris, meeting lots of artists there while hanging around the famous Bateau-Lavoir. During World War I he worked as a technical draftsman in the French Air Force, and his functional objects were no doubt as beautiful as his finery, which often combined elements of both: forks and vases referencing industrial chains; rings ridged to look like a track of tank treads.

    Model wearing a Madeleine Vionnet dress, Paris, September 1935. Photo: Lipnitzki/Roger Viollet Collection/Getty Images. Model wearing a Madeleine Vionnet dress, Paris, September 1935. Photo: Lipnitzki/Roger Viollet Collection/Getty Images.
  10. HARUKI MURAKAMI, A WILD SHEEP CHASE (1982; US, 1989)

    Sometimes my friends say that when I tell an anecdote or explain the plot of a movie I give too many details, and ones that aren’t very spicy. But in any book of Murakami’s there are so many details and weird characters that they are almost impossible to recount! Reading his writing, I’m immersed in worlds of some wild Japanese landscape, dark sewers, fantastic creatures, parallel dimensions, friendship, conquest, and love. Murakami’s novels have a spirit that makes me dream of going to Japan one day. Even though the society he depicts is a foreign hybrid of cultures, I feel deeply involved with it.