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Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Between Optimism and Fear
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London Unveils Men’s Season Schedule
November 01st, 2012 @ 00:36 AM
Azzaro Releases Castello Branco
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Brazil’s New London Pop-Up
September 21st, 2012 @ 7:20 PM
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September 12th, 2012 @ 7:19 PM
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Berluti Opens to Big-Time Business in London
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Stefano Pilati Back with a Bang at Zegna
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Hugo Boss Wows in Berlin, Plans for New York
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Armani Conquers China, Chastises the Pope
June 01st, 2012 @ 11:53 AM
Michael Stipe's "Relics" Immortalize the Ephemeral
June 27th, 2008 @ 2:37 PM - New York
There was something appropriate about a show of bronze sculptures on view in the black box space that is the newest Rogan store. Housed in the former Bouwerie Lane Theater, a historic cast iron building on the Bowery in lower Manhattan, the store's dramatic interior, intensified by a sweltering late-June heat, provided the backdrop for R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe's latest turn as a sculptor in "Relics," an exhibition of his bronze castings, which opens to the public June 27 for one month.
"Michael and I had been talking it over for a while," said designer Rogan Gregory, who said he plans to do specially curated collaborations in the new Bowery space on a regular basis, to bring a different kind of element to the retail environment. In particular, he'd like to highlight the space's history as a theater.
"I don't want to pretend that it's not a commercial endeavor," said Gregory. "We opened this as a retail store. But the Bowery is known for its nightlife, and for its music. I like doing things that are interdisciplinary, across mediums."
Gregory, who also designs furniture, made the steel boxes and benches on which Stipe's bronze sculptures are displayed: A stack of bronze cassette tapes are strewn across a low bench, like forgotten mixtapes dumped from a cardboard box, while rows of bronze Holga cameras line the top of another pedestal as though frozen in time in a post-apocalyptic window display. The display boxes are not solid cubes - instead, they function almost like the interior of a camera obscura, with slanted walls lined with mirrors forming an illusion of depth, a technique also utilized in the store on an architectural scale.
The result is an exhibit that feels something like an undiscovered archaeological site - maybe a lost building in a 20th century version of Pompeii, say - or a secret, back-room museum show.
In creating the cast bronze sculptures, Stipe looked to objects from his personal collection that signified a transitory moment. A polaroid camera, for instance, revolutionized photography by allowing anyone to instantly develop their own photos. A cassette tape signals the moment when a listener could create their own playlist of songs, no longer reliant on just the radio to provide a varied sequence.
"I followed the same process that I use with my songwriting: First thought, best thought," explained Stipe, on how he selected what to cast. "I chose objects that really resonated with me. It's a very personal show, with things that meant a great deal to me at one point."
To cast the objects in bronze, said Stipe, he had to destroy the original objects.
"The destruction then becomes another level of removing oneself of any sentimentality," added Stipe. The objects, as relics, could take on a new life outside his memories, "allowing it to just be an object," he said.
"Everything is ephemeral," said Stipe. "Whatever feels very current now may become outdated in 10 years."
Stipe walked over to an iTouch embedded into the floor of the store, with a three dimensional rendering of the first telephone answering machine, an now-obsolete object that completely changed communication. "For the first time, you could screen your calls," said Stipe.
Yet despite the ephemerality of the original objects he cast, Stipe's sculptures in effect become placeholders of a collective memory, literally bearing the weight of their legendary moments in the history of technology. Throwaway hollow plastic casings are immortalized as heavy, solid bronze.
While the sculptures themselves aren't for sale, ("I have no idea," said Stipe, when asked what he'll do with them after the show closes) Stipe did design a limited edition Rogan button-down shirt that is for sale in the shop.
Or, in the "Gangs of New York" tradition of the Bowery, one could try to snag one of the cardboard boxes that were stacked up outside the store like cast-offs, printed to look like radio alarm clocks emblazoned with the words "Rogan vs. Stipe."
"I'm sure the boxes will be gone by the morning," said Gregory. "They're being eyed up right now."