The couture line that Balenciaga launched this summer is another thing that has permanent residency in my brain. I think that what Demna [Gvasalia, creative director] is doing with sculpture and architecture through fashion is some of the most interesting theatre of our time. It’s like a marriage of Romantic and gothic style – it’s a bit ecclesiastical, almost monastic, and I want it all. There’s this really wonderful circular headpiece that feels like: “I’m going to service, but in the year 3021.”
Spain’s botched art restorations have found a niche in Japan thanks to a series of keychains dubbed “Failed restorations” or Shufuku Shuppai in Japanese. These items are distributed in plastic capsules called Gashapon that can be found in vending machines in train stations, airports and recreational centers.
One of the works that has been turned into a keychain is the infamous restoration of the Ecce Homo painting inside the Sanctuary of Mercy in Borja, in Spain’s Aragón region, which was disfigured beyond recognition by a local amateur artist in 2012. The painting of Jesus went viral on social media, turning into a social phenomenon, with international journalists traveling to the small village to see the work, and artists in the United States creating an entire opera in its honor.
The advertising for the keychains, which are made by the company Rainbow, features a caricature of a woman holding a spatula in tribute to Cecilia Giménez, the elderly woman from Borja behind the Ecce Homo restoration. The caricature is also a nod to an amateur artist from Rañadoiro in Asturias, who in 2018 painted wooden figures dating back to the 15th and 16th century in lurid pinks, purples and greens. This botched restoration is also included in the Japanese keychain series.
In total, Rainbow has made keychains out of four failed restoration attempts – the Ecce Homo and the 15th-century wooden figures, as well as the failed attempt to fix a copy of the famous painting The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and the cartoonish work on a 16th-century sculpture of Saint George in Navarre. Hideyuki Toyoda, the president of Rainbow, says that his company usually makes around 10,000 copies of each keychain image, but in the case of the Spanish works only 1,000 copies have been made of each.
Rainbow had never before worked with Spanish cultural references, nor does the company have business in Spain. Toyoda explains the idea was to do something different. “We wanted to make an unusual product,” he tells this newspaper. “That someone without any experience could deform an artwork from the past is unthinkable in Japan. The public reaction has been so good – the 4,000 units have sold out and the company has even received requests from abroad – that we have been encouraged to do a second series.” The new series, which will be available from January, will include more recent failed restorations, like the sloppy workmanship on a statue in Palencia.
The irreverent humor of these unfortunate restorations makes them perfect for Gashapon collectibles, which also include images of miniature manga characters, art parodies, as well as real and imagined animals. A Japanese manufacturer came up with the idea for the plastic capsules in the 1960s, in response to the first US vending machines, which were considered unhygienic because they dispensed toys and candy simultaneously without any packaging.
Although the toys were initially targeted at children, Gashapons have become popular with all ages and are now found in train stations and airports. The business is estimated to make €270 million a year and around 150 new figures are created every month.
On my radar: Moses Sumney’s cultural highlights
theguardian– Singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, 29, grew up between Ghana and California and studied creative writing and poetry at UCLA. His piercing falsetto and genre-defying music have brought him critical acclaim, starting with his self-recorded 2014 EP Mid-City Island, followed in 2017 by his debut album, Aromanticism, and the 2020 double album Græ. Sumney has collaborated with musicians including Bon Iver and James Blake and toured with Solange and Sufjan Stevens. His latest project is Blackalachia, a self-directed concert film created in association with WePresent, shot over two days in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, where he lives.
Selling Sunset (Netflix)
I pity anyone who hasn’t seen this show. It’s a reality show about a real estate agency in west Hollywood, and it follows the lives and deals of the people who work there, predominantly the female staff who are all ridiculously Barbie-ish – essentially “career Barbie on crack”. It’s incredible. I love reality TV – it tells us a lot about humanity. Reality shows are always inherently dated, so they’re a great capsule of the modern era.
Don’t Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty by Yeule
I don’t know what it is about this song, but I’m addicted to it. Yeule is a Singaporean artist based in London who’s kind of new on the scene, and this song is just so hypnotising – it hints and winks at hyperpop while being an absolutely heart-shattering folk tune. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of a lot of different genres, and it’s stunning. I have a lot of playlists – for driving, for chilling at night, a morning playlist, a folk playlist – and this is in all of them.
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
I’m currently reading this – I put off reading it because it looks like a self-help book – but it’s really fascinating. The author is an artist who works largely in digital art and the book is about how to free yourself from the capitalist trappings of the workforce – not necessarily saying “quit your job”, but suggesting a new path for work. It asks the question: how can we construct our identities apart from defining ourselves by what we do and by our income? It’s a very radical book, and it’s often a hard read. But it has been mind-shifting.
Western North Carolina
I’ve been travelling a lot for work, so I’ve been thinking about how much I would prefer to spend my time in western North Carolina, particularly in the mountains, where I live. I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world. I first arrived in Asheville when I was on tour and knew immediately I wanted to live here. You turn around, 360 degrees in any direction, and you’re surrounded by trees, by the sound of animals, and that’s really a rare feeling for anyone who’s spent most of their life, as I have, living in the city.
Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997)
This stars a young Jurnee Smollett, who recently had a resurgence with Lovecraft Country. She’s 10 years old in the film, which is set in a fictional small town in Louisiana. Samuel L Jackson stars as the patriarch of the family, who is maybe cheating on his wife, his daughter sets out to kill him and punish him, perhaps through witchcraft. It was incredibly critically acclaimed and subsequently snubbed by every major award ceremony. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking film. I first saw it last year and I think about it every day.
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Hong Kong’s famous Tiananmen Square ‘Pillar of Shame’ statue removed from university
Il Divo singer Carlos Marin dies aged 53
bbc– Il Divo’s Carlos Marin has died aged 53, the classical group has announced.
Marin would be “missed by his friends, family and fans”, a statement on social media said. “There will never be another voice or spirit like Carlos.”
The group had said they were praying for Marin’s recovery after he was admitted to hospital this month leading them to postpone a UK Christmas tour.
The male quartet was brought together by Simon Cowell in 2003 and achieved three UK number one albums.
Marin was born in Germany, but moved to Spain at the age of 12 and was a baritone in the group, performing alongside tenors Urs Buhler and David Miller, and pop singer Sebastien Izambard.
“Singing is my way of saying what I feel, my way of life,” he is quoted as saying on the group’s website.
“Singing is what makes me feel alive, so thank you for letting me continue making a living from what I love.”
Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Marin had been taken ill during the UK tour and placed into an induced coma at a hospital in Manchester. The nature of his illness has not been disclosed.
Il Divo’s international composition helped them achieve notable success across several worldwide tours.
Their hits included Regresa a Mi (Unbreak My Heart), The Time Of Our Lives, and I Believe In You – a duet with Celine Dion – as well as a version of Adele’s Hello.
They sold more than 30 million records, and had 160 gold and platinum discs across more than 33 countries, the group’s website said.
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